Taking leave of maternity leave

Neve, about to leave for her first official day at daycare

We didn’t make any specific plans for how things would go on the morning of my first day back to work, after a 3 month maternity leave.

Joe and I didn’t decide that one of us would take both kids to the daycare center two blocks from our house; or whether we’d stagger it with one kid each in tow. We played it by ear, trying to be flexible while seeing how things naturally played out.

And despite our lack of planning, the day started idyllically.

Neve slept through the night, waking at 6:50 to eat. After I fed her, she went back to sleep, and a while later, Lily got up with Joe (as has become the norm since Neve’s birth). I spent a bit of time with Lily before she left with Joe for pre-school, and then I got things ready for my day as Neve snoozed in her room. At 9:30, after Neve had had nearly 12 hours of sleep, I woke her (she was still deeply asleep), fed her, and changed her (pooped-soaked) diaper. With all this going for her, she was nothing but big, flirty smiles and coos as we walked to the daycare center and I handed her off to one of the women who’d taken care of Lily when she was the same age.

I drove to work in Ann Arbor, plowed through more than 800 e-mails that were waiting for me (using the delete function liberally), used my breast pump there and at home, and then went to pick up the girls from daycare. (Joe and I feel so weird saying “the kids” now; it’s as if we weren’t really defined yet as suburban parents until we had a second child and started having to use the plural instead of just saying “Lily” or “our girl.”)

I decided to check in at Neve’s room at daycare first, since Lily often tends to be the Norm Peterson of pre-school (wanting to play and stay until closing time at 6 p.m.), and I was anxious to find out how Neve had done on her first day. Continue reading

Field notes

* In one of our first days home from the hospital, when Neve was getting a little fussy, I placed her on my chest, and she stopped crying for a minute or two, her eyes wide open. I wondered if she was hearing my heartbeat, and if, to her, that sound was home – the only place she’d known before this. There was a look of longing on her face as she blinked, and all I could think to say was, “I know it’s a big change, baby girl. But I think you’ll get to like it out here.”

* While I’m sure part of it has to do with having past experience going for us – and while I’m also sure some challenging times lie ahead – I must admit that so far, this home-with-a-new-baby experience has been about a billion times easier the second time around.

Now more than 2 weeks old, Neve is thus far a sleepy, laid back baby. She sleeps well and quickly between nighttime feedings, which are reasonably spaced out, and she has never yet fussed inconsolably for longer than a few minutes. (Swaddling, feeding her, or finishing the diaper change seem to be the answer in every situation presented so far.)

And despite my paranoia – or maybe partly because we did everything we could to prepare Lily for the change a sibling would bring – Lily is generally handling the whole thing like a champ. She’s maintained her routine, going to pre-school on weekdays; she loves holding Neve and giving her kisses; and while I’m repeatedly having to admonish her to GENTLY hug Neve, and GENTLY rock her in the swing, and GENTLY play with her fingers and toes – I’m struggling to bodily protect Neve while not completely dousing Lily’s enthusiasm about her – I’m thrilled that Lily’s so tuned in to her new sister, and seems not at all threatened at the start. Again, I’m sure there will be more challenging times ahead – but it’s sure nice to have a smooth, dare-I-say “easy” transition after a bat-crazy delivery. Continue reading