Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Back in the Saddle

This is Dh's last week of paternity leave, and I have decided to ease the transition by pretending, during the day, that he is not actually here. This has meant two days of "real" school work while he does errands or other work around the house in the mornings.

I am doing this trial run because Tex wrote that she needs to be aware of her "ups and downs." and set herself up for success. I followed her advice and reflected on why I was so afraid of DH going back to work, and what I could do about it. Last February we totally fell apart when he went back to work, kids got sick and by Valentine's Day baby and I were in the hospital and the grandmother reinforcements had to be called in on an emergency basis.

So far, easing into the reality has been helpful, I have learned that I need to go to bed earlier in order to get up on time, since so far we have not been ready for him to leave until about 8:30, we need to gradually move that up to 7:45. This morning I am at least awake and out of bed before 7, which is a good start. I find this hard when the baby is up during the night, this morning he woke at six for a feeding so I just stayed awake, but if he wakes at 5 it is impossible not to go back to sleep, and then too hard to get up when the alarm rings. Hopefully his sleep patterns will settle in over the next few weeks.

I must admit, however, that I am a bit overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work it takes to keep our household functioning these days, so I am going to have to do a few more things to set myself up for success (or at least survival!). First, ask for help and set up a regular time for my mother in law to come over and give me a hand with kids and laundry, second, stock the freezer with casseroles (my mom helped me do this before the baby was born and we ate them all month, which was a wonderful help), third, learn to let go of certain things -- the kitchen counter will not always get cleared before school starts in the morning, but school must start nevertheless, fourth, do not commit to outside activities that will exhaust me, especially because I can't nurse discreetly and chase a toddler through a lobby at the same time, fifth, do not get distracted by the internet! I am hopeful that we will get it sorted out, but I know that it depends, in large part on my personal discipline. This may mean that you are hearing less from me, I just checked on the blog for the first time in two days and realized that I had missed several posts and comments, but for now I need to focus on first things.

Please pray for my family as we make this transition, our baby moon is coming to an end.


Right Said Red said...

Last year, we too experienced many health problems after Mr. Red's return to work. It was a real pain, and I was thankful he had saved some paternity leave time for these sorts of emergencies. He had to take 2 weeks of leave due to our family and especially me being ill!

Unfortunately, I think the illnesses are very difficult to avoid. February and March are always really rough months! We really tried to limit our activities, and we still all came down with the flu, a stomach virus, and multiple colds. Tis the season! We usually have a rougher February and March than all other months combined. I'm still bracing myself for it this year.

That being said, I think getting on a good schedule before he leaves is a great idea! Going to bed early, and having a reasonable rountine with limited distractions during this time will help to make these first months pass more easily. While you probably cannot avoid all illnesses with the children, if you get adequate sleep, it will help to keep you well and able to take of the little ones that are ill.

I also think arranging outside help is a necessity! Cleaning services, extra babysitting, and a weekly visit from grandmom all go a LONG way toward making this transition easier. Take advantage of help, it will make these days so much more pleasant and memorable!

Anonymous said...

I'm a little older than you and my children are somewhat grown up (my youngest is 6). Please don't let your ego get in the way of finding some help, whether it is a cleaning person or a baby sitter. You can not do it all. I am the second eldest of eight, and it took a near disaster for my mother to finally accept some outside help for our family. I was 7 and had four younger siblings when out of desparation, a neighbor found my mother a baby nurse/housekeeper. It changed our lives in so many ways, all for the better. We finally had our mother back and had a wonderful person in our home to help our mom with all that she had on her plate.

Harder does not always mean better. I'm not trying to be critical of you, I just think that so many young moms refuse to get help and it's so sad. And those that do have help, feel guilty about it. I just don't think it's the way it should be. When my children were small, our needs changed constantly. For some time, a part time sitter was enough, then we upped it to more of a full time basis, then we found we needed more help with driving and activities. Then we needed more help with the laundry and cleaning. The point I'm making is that it's not permanent, it changes with your circumstances.

Mary Alice said...

Elizabeth, thank you for your comments. This is something that we all struggle with, I especially take your point to heart "harder is not better." I have been considering this alot re homeschooling, I think that soon (in the next two or three years) it may be appropriate to send some of the older children to school, and I have to remember that I am homeschooling because it is the right thing for my family not because I am looking for some sort of Catholic mom total giving martyr prize.

It took a disaster for me to ask for help, or rather for my husband to insist on calling his mother, but it did change our life for the better, and allowed me to be more open to help from her in general. Now she comes once a week to babysit and that is great for me and for the kids!

Red, as you know I live in fear of stomach viruses, and I am upset to find that they are starting up again, we have heard of neighbor kids being sent home ill from school and I think B-Mama is dealing with it, I am going to get the Lysol and Pedialite ready, the Rota looms in the future...

MargaretJDMom said...

We will be praying for your transition!! You are so smart to go to bed is so important when the nighttime sleep is so bad!!
This can be such a hard time when the 6 week old "wakes up" and all of a sudden doesn't want to sleep all day every day anymore. I always remember wanting meals at 2 months almost more than I did immediately post partum. Just remember that this is a will pass and in the meantime, get a list of intentions together and offer up the stress for something specific everytime you stop and think "I can't believe this is happening!!"

ON a side note, I totally feel your pain about stomach bugs. I have a paranioa about them...I am feeling queasy just reading your comment above!!! Just make sure you've always got spare sheets cleaned..and when it doubt..put the beach towels down over the sheets before trouble gets started and have buckets bedside.

Julia A said...

I have a number of thoughts for you.
1. Paper plates. If there was ever a time to kill trees, post-pregnancy sleep deprivation is it. (I actually give paper goods as baby gifts to moms on #2+)
2. Whenever anyone asks what you need, tell them "Food".
3. Purell. We have successfully halted stomach viruses from spreading using this stuff. The towels over sheets idea saves infinite laundry. Also braid the hair of any girl with long hair at the first sign of anyone else's tummy bug. And put the upper-bunk kids on the floor.
4. Pray to the Holy Spirit *all the time* to guard your tongue when you're tired and cranky. I always found those middle-of-night feedings the best prayer time, and now almost miss it.

Kat said...

Thank you for everyone's comments, I think that we can all use them whether or not we have a newborn in our homes!

The only thing that I will add to the discussion, MA, is that I would encourage you to think of a couple of things that are a real "pick-me-up" for you, and make sure to have them on hand for those difficult moments. For me, the "pick-me-ups" are a good cup of coffee or tea, some dark chocolate, 10 minutes of the Food Network or HGTV, a quick call to my mom, etc. As Catholic women, we are always trying to make little sacrifices along the way, but as mothers who have a husband and several little people depending on us to remain calm and collected, we sometimes just need to help ourselves through certain moments (or days!!). In those times, it is important to do what is needed to get ourselves out of a rut so that we can do what needs to be done! Especially with a newborn living in a very cold climate, please make sure to take care of yourself and use these "pick-me-ups" whenever you need them, MA!