Sunday, September 29, 2013

Missing

Leaving the fascinating quandaries of childcare for a moment, I'll write about where I'm at personally. I get a little break on Sundays. A few hours. I waste some of it doing a torturing class at the gym, ascertaining that my body still doesn't look the way I'd like it to look, and my physical strength is a fraction of what it used to be. The instructor is at count 8 and I'm still at 5. I'm slow in all things, including doing pliés. But I keep at it, because I need my body for the long haul, you know, if I don't die of cancer before I die of old age.

If you are struggling in the trenches of IF, this post may be awful to read. You may hate me. I have warned you, so please stop reading. But, if you are in the trenches of IF and you need an account of what it's like on the other side, minus the unicorns and rainbows, then read on.

I love my baby. I love being a mom. There is nothing like getting Gummy Girl in the morning and seeing her excited little face when I appear above her crib. I feel like a teenage heartthrob. I like taking care of her. I like thinking about her care constantly and deeply. To think about what she needs, how I can meet her needs, and how to minimize my own issues getting in the way of meeting her needs.

I must admit, though, that it sometimes feels all consuming. And that can be uncomfortable.

I must pause here to say that even writing that it is uncomfortable IS uncomfortable. Complaining about my life with baby post years of heart-shredding infertility seems absurd. Yeah, you can hate me now. Or at least, I'm pretty sure I hate myself for it. It seems so hard to let those two realities sit together. 1) I longed, waited and worked so hard for this baby. 2) I am sometimes unhappy in my role of mother.  

I try to chalk this all up to adjusting. Which is fair enough. Every woman (and probably every man) who becomes a mother has to wrestle with a big shift in her identity. Who am I now that I change diapers, mix formula, sing the itsy-bitsy spider, run to the crib when I hear her cry, walk around town with a stroller for a living (thank you government of Canada for paying me to do so)?

Lately, I've been feeling like I've gone missing.

weird.

unsettling.

I don't really know what that makes me, but I'm afraid it might mean that my mother's deep-seated narcism was contagious.

There is a healthy part of me that chimes in, not too loudly, but says that it's ok. My gummy girl is still so little and needs me so much, and that I've gone from entirely looking after myself to looking after this precious daughter almost exclusively. I mean, I do the things to keep myself going at least on a basic level. I brush my hair, people. I even wash it sometimes.

But I've not figured out how to carve out some good time for me. Mr. A tries to give me some time to myself and that is appreciated. But it's not a lot (and that's ok. I'll take what I can get), and it is often unpredictable. But it's probably more than many of you or my Pleasantville mom friends get.

I am very good at keeping us busy and structuring the days for her and for me. We have yoga on Tuesday, swimming on Wednesday, and music on Thursday. There is a hike with my moms' group on Friday, and on Mondays, I sometimes go to the drop in at the Early Years Centre.

There are rhythms to the day. Ups and downs. Naps. Feedings. Floor time. Meal time. Daddy coming home time. And bed time.

And at the end of the day, there is time for me, and what I usually do with it is wasteful. I watch tv series. Instead of writing. Instead of reading for pleasure or doing professional reading. Instead of trying to connect meaningfully by writing emails. Instead of cleaning the house. Our very filthy house.

It seems like when there is a moment to look for myself, I don't. I just eat more chocolate. Scroll on the twitter feed.

And I feel angry a lot, which can be scary. Is she ever going to feel like I resent her? Because I don't resent her. I love her. But I also have to find a way to make room for my non-mother self. So that I don't ever resent her. And because I will die someday. And I have to make this life count. That's all I can do with these mere 80 years, if I'm lucky.

Mr. A gets the brunt of my anger. Unfortunately. He forgot to take the Brussels sprouts out of the oven while I was putting Gummy to bed last night and I was livid. I wanted roasted Brussels sprouts, not burnt Brussels sprouts. Is it too much to ask? You know you're in trouble when those words start coming to your mind. At least I didn't say them out loud, but I might as well have, since I was visibly upset. 

I wish I could wrap up this post with a satin bow by outlining the steps I will take to find myself again. But I'm slow (still on count 5), and I haven't come up with any yet. I have a few inchoate ideas of things I could look at. I think picking up my gratitude journal could help. And trying to get to yoga (a non-baby class) might help. And getting to the other side of harvest season will help, when Mr. A has more time on his hands and I can schedule time for myself every week. And finding a way to write a little bit every day. But that might be too ambitious.

Anyways, thank you for reading and letting me work this out. And please share if you will in the comments if you've also had these similar feelings and what helped you.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Day care days ahead: Part I

I'll start by a side note to say thank you for your comments on my last post. Gummy has, as I hoped, knitted her morning nap to her night sleep. We've been waking up at 7am in our house lately. How civilized.

Funny how life changes so much in one year. Last year in September, I was having all kinds of foreboding ultrasound detecting large SCHs and other possible horrible things that could kill or maim my fetus (amniotic bands, anyone?). This year in September, I'm awaiting the fall activities we've signed up for to start (next week!) and wrapping my mind around my baby's impeding participation in day care.

I'm going back to work in March. If only you lived in Canada and got a year of maternity leave. Yes. I too wish you lived in a communist country that supports child and maternal (and paternal) health. It remains, and I'm not complaining just stating, that 12 months is not the best time for a child to separate from her primary caregiver. Just as you're dropping off the little grasshopper, she is at the peak of her separation anxiety days. What fun that will be.

Having become aware of the aura of stress around day care from everyone who had babies before me (which, at 39, that's the majority of my friends), I knew to start the search early. So I called up the place where Sattva sent her kids when I was about 5-6 months pregnant. They wouldn't put Gummy's name on the list because Gummy is apparently not an appropriate name for a child*. Harumph. This meant that as soon as I managed to prop myself back up after the birth and ensuing circus, I got on the day care mission. I saw a couple and settled on one I didn't really love, but had a full time spot for Gummy starting in February, making a good transition time when she would start day care and I would still be at home. It was there I learned there are only 56 spots for infants (< 18 months) in our entire city (in registered day care centres).

So, that was settled. It wasn't great, but it was adequate, which I came to believe was the best I could hope for.

Three weeks ago, Mr. A started talking about staying home with Gummy. That sounded better than any day care centre. But I was against becoming the sole breadwinner in the family. 'I will resent you. And you will resent yourself', I told Mr. A, and he could see my point. Part time day care was now our focus.

The mediocre day care doesn't accept infants part-time, so we had to find something else. Also, mediocre day care is on my way to work, at the other end of town, but not a place where Mr. A could fetch Gummy on foot or bike.** And so for those days when I'll need to stay later at work, picking up Gummy would be a logistic tour-de-force, involving car seat transfers and taxis (or cross-country skis on a snowy day, Mr. A noted).

The day care centre 2 streets over had been on my mind. I never had a great impression of it, but our good friends sent their son there from 12 to 24 months of age. And they had many more positive things than negative things to say about it. We went for a tour recently. I liked it less than mediocre day care centre. But they can take Gummy in April, part-time. This means she can stay home 2 days with Mr. A and be at day care only 3 days, with some early pick-ups when her dad is available. And it would be for a year to 18-months at the most. After that, she would go to a different day care centre because there are many more toddler spots in the city.

I wish I had more choice in the manner, but it feels like we need to take what we can get given the dearth of spots.*** I have so many criteria in my head about what constitutes good childcare, and these places are falling short on many of them. And I know my expectations are pie in the sky, and that Gummy will do fine given some basic care. But she's my precious girl. I want only the best of the best for her.

More on day care later. It's all the time I've got for now. Yikes! Is time for my own interests ever scarce these days. More on that too, whenever I can write.



* They have a policy of only putting babies' names on the list and not fetuses. The nerve.
**I'm the only one with a car in our family.
*** There are many home day care arrangements, but I do not want her in a home day care for a number of reasons. The main reasons being that there are practically no regulations around home child care arrangements so if something goes wrong, there is very little recourse with the law or regulatory bodies.  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Sleep and the crazies

The crazies

I wrote this whole nasty post about my mother 4-5 days ago but didn't publish it. I knew I'd regret it. I'll give you the bare bones.

1) she visited over labor day weekend
2) she is crazy
3) I did my best to meet her craziness with calm and respect.
4) I failed sometimes and succeeded sometimes

You want a little content with that outline of the process? Ok. I will oblige. She has this unconscious fantasy. The fantasy is about how she wants my baby to be hers. She wants to have the baby and push me out of the picture. She made several comments about how she could have the baby and I would not be there. To the point where it completely freaked out Mr. A and he ran after her when she took Gummy out for a walk in front of the house.

See.

She is crazy.

I'm hanging by my fingernails for my therapy session tomorrow morning. Between her and the tedious in-laws who have major issues with overstepping boundaries*, Mr. A and I are both doing MAJOR work on our issues on setting boundaries with scary, authoritarian parental figures. And doing that work with the actual scary, authoritarian parents themselves. So far, neither of us have gone up in flames, but we keep expecting to be psychically destroyed by each our narcissistic parent.** So far, everyone's psyche is somewhat intact, although personally, I'm rattled.*** And to be honest, Mr. A is looking worse for wear.

Sleep

Bedtime routine is going swimmingly. I do it on my own all the time and it feels like a well rehearsed dance, with room for improvisation, but with the steps mostly defined. And my dance partner is well rehearsed.

We started sleep training the weekend my mother was here. That was a poor choice. But it had to be done and Mr. A was home. And Gummy (and Augusta) were ready. It was awful for at least 2 nights. But it's much better now. We do have a few things to iron out, but at this point, she is waking up infrequently, and when she does, a simple replacement of the soother in her mouth does the trick. Still, I want to get to the point of putting her to bed and picking her back up 12 hours later. Not always, but most of the time. I'm pretty sure she is capable of it.

But right now we are sticking with the expectations of 10 hours in her crib without being picked up. And after those few rough nights, she has been fine with it. But the window is 7pm to 5am, and most mornings, she, like the birds, is up at 5am. Back down from 7am to 9am, but there is a two-somewhat-difficult-hour window when she is up and one of us needs to be up with her. And it's mostly me.

I am hoping that she will soon knit those 2 extra hours of sleep into her night sleep, so that she can sleep 7pm to 7am. But I am not holding my breath. And frankly, it's easier for me to be up early than to be up late at night.

There are lots of pros and cons to sleep training. I feel like I can see why people are against it. And I also see why people would love to do it but it's just not something that they can do. It's emotionally difficult to hear your child cry and not respond (or wait 15 minutes to respond). You have to have a clear idea of why you are doing this. You also need to believe that your child is fundamentally ok. It is the right thing for us and I'm glad we are doing it. But please know that this is not a comment on your parenting decisions.

Ok, Gummy Girl is up from her nap and I  want to post this now. More on eating and day care to come.


* Mr. A's father stating that they would be coming over for a visit EVERY WEEK.

** My kingdom for psychoanalytical training.

*** I broke some dishes a few days ago in a fit of desperation and rage. Gummy was asleep upstairs and Mr. A was gone and the cat was outside. No one was hurt. Except the dishes. And my sense of being a sane person.