I don’t think work-cation is a word

The child slept through the night, for the first time in longer than I can actually recall!  (She slept through for about 3 months there, and the regression happened around time of the weight plunge, but I’m very tired most of the time and no longer use the baby tracking app and simply don’t remember any more.)

Which is especially good news, as I’m planning going to site for work in the next month or so, and 2 nights is the shortest trip I can swing and get any value out of the trip.  (And there aren’t a ton of flight options in to the wilds of northern BC.)  I’m like, really really excited by this.  Not that I think sitting in an Atco trailer all day sounds like amazing, but on the other hand, sitting and watching a frac actually sounds pretty interesting, given that frac data is a huge part of my job.  And flying in tiny planes!  Am I the only person who wants to fly in a airplane with only a handful of seats and no bathrooms?  (Probably.)  And because they’re private planes, the security is giving your name to the guy with a clipboard.  And helicopters!  Helicopters are cool. And camp food! Camp food is good, you guys. All of our camps are dry (ie no booze or drugs) and so use generous portions of good food to keep people happy.  And I’m tying my trip in with at least one of my favourite coworkers, so we can hang out and that’ll be nice.  And hey, my ego can probably use getting hit on by dozens of men.  (Sad, but true.)  Hell, most of my vacations (which I love) revolved around food (which I love), planes (which I love), expensive hotel rooms (which I love, though usually expensive because they are nice, not because they’re super remote), hanging out with people I like (which I love) and doing something nerdy (which I love).  So if you can just, like, overlook the fact that I’ll be going practically to the Arctic Circle for work, this sounds like not a bad couple of days, to me.

Oh, right, yes, the leaving of the baby thing.  Well.  Please don’t revoke my mom card, but I’m kind of looking forwards to it.  I love my kid, obviously.  I like my kid.  But I’m finding that this toddler phase is, perhaps, not so much my forte.  And stepping out for a little work-cation sounds nice.  I’m sure I’ll miss her like crazy, and will of course have the daycare cam set up on a laptop.  But two days of grown up time, free from nursing and clinging and diapers? Right this day, that doesn’t sound like the worst week ever.

Feeling the fever

So everyone is pregnant, as far as I can tell.  Everyone!  But, uh, not me.  Not trying, even.  Due to the pills I’m on, probably couldn’t be even if I tried.  I just, like, have eyes and can’t help but notice that everyone is pregnant.

I’m sure it’s hyperbole, but today, for example, I went through the +15 to the next building to grab some lunch, and saw, I swear, 7 very pregnant ladies.  Two were standing in front of me in line.  Walking from my office to J’s daycare?  It’s a 10 minute walk though the +15s, and I have never seen less than 4 pregnant women.  (Okay, sure, they could be the same ones everyday, but I still see them.)  I work in a group of 30 people, 13 of whom are female (not bad for a STEM field), and 2 of them are pregnant.  I’m back downtown, working in a very corporate world, and I’m surrounded by lush, fertile women who are gloriously, roundly pregnant.

And I’m so jealous I’m practically salivating.

I’ve said it before, I was never really baby hungry before I  had Baby J.  It was a cerebral decision, more than anything.  I never had baby fever, or heard a ticking clock, or whatever other cliche that can be used to describe the longing for a baby.  But now?  Holy fuck, you guys.  WANT.  NEEEED.  It’s the strangest feeling.  It feels like a walking cliche, to be so eager, but here we are.

And while we are totally planning a second, not yet.  I’d rather have them +2 years instead of -2 years apart .  I *just* got back to work, and I owe it to myself to give this a serious go.  I’m still on the domperidone, and that’s done insane things to my cycle.  It’s not fair to J to do anything until we figure out what’s wrong with her.  (She’s down to 17 pounds – 1 pound over her 5 month weight.)  I refuse to wean until she stops losing weight or at the very least starts drinking any form of calorie, and I want to have my body to myself for a few months before I get pregnant again.  I’m simply not ready to try again yet, and neither is David.  Mentally, I get it.  In fact, mentally, I have no desire to start trying right now.

But viscerally?  WANT SO MUCH.

At the end of the day, we’re all just animals, right?  It’s stuff like this – this crazy longing – that really brings that home to me.

34 weeks along, looking like I ate the world.  Why do I miss this so much?

34 weeks along, looking like I ate the world. Why do I miss this so much?

Back in the saddle, remembering that I like horses

There was one thing I kind of forgot as I was weighing my feelings about going back to work, and it was, in in hindsight, a big one.   It’s that I am very good at my job.  And while it’s not my passion, I really do enjoy it.

I’m going to violate one of the internet’s prime directives and talk about my job, just a little.

I did admin work for the better part of a decade.  I was good at it, and fast, given the amount of spare time I had compared to my peers.  But I never really enjoyed it.  I would put off tasks that I didn’t enjoy, like filing, for months.  I always got everything that needed to be done, done, but my main interest wasn’t the day to day tasks that fill up admin support days.  It was always the special projects. I’ve worked in a variety of different admin jobs, and the special projects varied along with them.  I’ve done everything from organize a trip to New York for 30 people for a week with 30 different schedules, to cold calling people in France using what remains of my childhood french immersion skills to try and find a genealogical-minded distant relative for my boss, to becoming the group expert at a new piece of graphing software, to learning Access to update and QC a giant database.  A huge range of things, and all much more interesting than putting in another stationary order.  Although that doesn’t mean an absence of pens around the office wouldn’t be a problem, so it always got done too.  Just, you know, given the choice to work on a special project or organize someone’s business cards, well… It was always easy for me to prioritize.

When I went on mat leave, I was officially a tech, but I was also still doing all the admin work, just due to the way things shook out in the group.  I had no problems with that, of course.  I’d been doing all the tech work as an admin, and there was no real difference doing all the admin work as a tech.  But now there’s an admin to do all the admin work and she’s great and I don’t have to order stationary anymore.  My entire job, in flux as it is, IS a special project.  The last couple of weeks I’ve been working for an engineer who has been an amazing teacher, and I went from knowing basically nothing about this subset of our industry to being conversant in it.  I’ve learned 601 new things in the last month, and that’s an awesome feeling that I had forgotten – how nice it is to learn something new.   To tackle some new project that at the beginning feels so confusing, so far over your head that you don’t even know how to start, and then a few short weeks later you’re QC’ing someone else’s work as a second pair of eyes.  To be an expert at something – to be the person people come to for help.  To be good at something clear and tangible with immediate results.  It’s nice.  It’s really nice.  And I had forgotten that going back to work didn’t just mean leaving J with someone else all day and getting a paycheck.  It also means that I get to be good at something and get better at other things and to learn.

It also means lunch dates and coffee dates and yes, a paycheck.  It means talking to grown ups all day, every day, and then coming home with my kid and my husband and eating together and playing together and enjoying the whole time we’re together, instead of those days spent simply waiting for naps or a play date.  It means missing out on play dates, and long daily walks and spontaneous trips to Ikea for lunch.  But right now, this very week, I can live with the trade off.  Next year, or another kid later, or a different role at work?  Who knows?  But for right now, things are okay.  Things are good.

It feels like the best deep breath I’ve taken in months.

Sureal

That’s the only word to describe the first day back in the office after a year of mat leave.  Totally, completely surreal.  It was a bizarre mix of “what the fuck am I doing here?  where’s the baby?” and “what do you mean I ever left?”

And it’s not like things haven’t changed.  The company moved in to a brand spanking new office tower, I’m officially a tech and not an admin, there are 13 new people in our group of 25 people.  We’re on a new operating system, and my monitors are even bigger, so even the view of my screen is different.  (And by big?  I mean huge.  A pair of 24 inch monitors.  It’s a good thing it’s a big desk.)  I currently don’t know what, exactly, the new role will require me to like, DO every day.

But other things haven’t changed.  My three favourite people are still in the group.  My boss is still my boss.  There’s a constant struggle with budget and personalities.  (The stock price is still junk.) 

I have lunch dates and new shoes and a pair of monitors (I know I go on, but man, they make work so much easier).  I have a paycheque coming and options that just vested and coworkers and software and a brand new electric desk.  I felt… normal.

I also spent the whole damn day trying to get the daycare camera to work, so I could watch my little baby play.

Yeah.  One foot in a pretty black heel, the other in barefoot.  I’m not the first, and I’m not the last.  The main feeling for today was, oddly, how fucking NORMAL it felt.  I thought it would take a little bit more time than that, you know?

But we shall see.  I can revoke all this tomorrow and go back to being a hysterical mess, keening in the car in the parking lot of the daycare.

Feeeeelings

Oh, god.  I just got the package from the daycare, with all the forms, and the handbook.  And I am having SO MANY FEELINGS.

Jess was a disaster at the fitness class today.  Whiny, clingy, randomly inconsolable, before being fine for a while.  (Teething?  Maybe?  She has to get some eventually, right?)  And I’m torn between feeling sad for her, at the struggle she will have to deal with adults who are not me (child got her fear of strangers at 3 months, and it’s lingered) and feeling glad for me, because she will have to get better at letting adults who aren’t me pick her up when she is sad.

I’m reading through the day care handbook, and it really does sound like we’re sending her to a good place.  “Outdoor time is scheduled at minimum twice a day and more often when time and space allows for it.”  “We provide a morning snack, lunch and afternoon snack that is cooked and prepared at our x location.  The menu is reviewed and prepared quarterly by a nutritionist and follows The Canada Food guide recommendations.”  “Televisions are not used in any of our classrooms for watching movies, or television.”  Actually, it sounds in more than a few ways like a more structured, involving, stimulating environment than home.  What, a trip to Ikea isn’t as stimulating as a sand table and twice daily walks outside?

BUT MA BABEEE!  *insert weeping*  Even though we’re in a phase where my whole day is spent waiting for it to be nap time.

I am just so conflicted.  Someone please tell me awesome things about daycare.  I don’t seem to have any friends who are in my situation, and so I turn to you, internet, to tell me the perks of handing over my child to trained experts.  Because as much as I am looking forwards to it (I’m not loving this stage, right this week), I’m also really, really sad.  (And eating my feelings.)

Countdown

We’re in countdown mode mode.  My official back to work date is March 6th – Jess’s birthday.  I may use a couple of my vacation days to ease myself back in, but at any rate, mat leave is ending.  And I have SO MANY FEELINGS about it.

First and foremost, it’s gratitude.  I love this country, and I will continue to keep paying EI for the rest of my life, grateful that I pay in to a system that pays out when I needed it.  Grateful to live in a society that sees the value of having a parent stay home with the baby for a year.  Grateful that I got the year to recover from the traumatic birth and PPD and get to the point of loving my baby, and enjoying my baby, without needing to work at the same time.  Without having to worry about money overly much.  Grateful for how much easier this year was, that it would have been if I lived in the States.  Grateful for a year spent with my little sweet baby at my side all the time.  Grateful.  Just so grateful.

Second, I’m a little excited to go back to work.  I have an office on the 30-something floor of the tallest building in town.  (Alas, I’ve lost my window, but all internal walls are glass, so at least there should be light.)  At the Christmas party, I ran in to one of the engineers who had been promoted to lead in my absence, and she offered me a job in her section of our group.  A move that my boss has already approved, so my agreement was a formality, but still.  They are looking forwards to me returning, and I’m glad that I’ll be returning as a full on tech.  No admin work now – the group has a full time admin.  I’m actually on a separate floor from the support staff in our business unit – I’m sitting upstairs with the engineers.  This suggests that my promotion is no longer just in name.  This is excellent.  In talking to one of the other engineers, there is a bunch of work that they are just waiting for me to come back and do.  This is good.  After years of being underemployed at the office, I look forwards to the challenge.

Thirdly?  SAD.  How can I leave my baybee all day?  So many feelings!

Fourthly: relieved.  I have friends who stay home with toddlers, and others multiple pre-school aged kids at home.  And you know what?  That looks really, really, really hard.  The short attention spans, the power plays, the constant need of stimulation, the constant attention…  I don’t think that age will be my finest hour as a parent.  It might be a good thing that the kid gets to spend a chunk of her day with trained adults and a room full of playmates.   Don’t get me wrong – I love my kid.  And I am loving this age – independent enough for “play” with books for 20 minutes at a stretch, takes good naps, easy to lug around.  I’m just not sure that I’ll love the next  age as much.  Um.  It looks exhausting.

Fifth?  Worried.  The logistics of day care, of getting us up and out every morning.   The insanity of David’s company, who keep changing where he’ll be working for the next 6 months, which means we keep switching our daycare centre, and that’s a pain.  It’s complicated, but basically, the downtown daycare works if he’s near downtown, as his company pays for parking.  If he’s located in the deepest south, away from downtown, it doesn’t work unless I take the baby on the train every day, and that would be a nightmare.  Paying for parking would be ~600/month, and add that to daycare costs, and working becomes too close to barely a break even thing.  So if he’s south, the baby has to go to one of the chain’s south locations.  Which means I don’t get to commute with either of my favourite people.  And don’t suggest a daycare close to home – the only one that would return my phone calls?  After touring it, I cried a little and talked about quitting my job.  Not the place. Even just the logistics of getting 3 people up and out of the door every single morning sounds tough.  And making and eating dinner and playing and bath time in the short evening window.  And getting Jess on a 7-7 schedule.  (We’re working on it.)  So many logistics.  We’ll get there, but it sounds tough.

Sixth would be more of the sads.  So many sads.

But for now, I’ll go to mom and baby fitness classes and as many play dates as I can and a quick vacation to Texas, and enjoy the hell out of time that’s left of this marvelous window of my baby’s life.

On Guilt

On Monday we went to a mommy and baby fitness class at the pool.  It’s pretty great – I wear a deep water running belt and Jess sits in a tethered boat floating behind me.  So as I do laps of the deep end, she follows along, kicking her feet and chewing on bath toys.  I never feel that I’m working that hard (10 years of competitive swimming means that if doesn’t start with 5×100 meter set, it doesn’t count as exercise), but I’m always beat afterwards.  Plus, Jess often has epic naps afterwards.  It’s a great class.

After the class, I sat in the baby pool with two of the other mothers and chatted for almost an hour. I’ve talked to these ladies before – in fact, have even been in classes with them before.  (Strollercize with one, and library class with the other.)  We’ve been doing this for the past month, and despite the fact I cannot remember their names, I know a good deal about them, and their parenting style, and their babies.  This time, we ended up talking about going back to work.  (We live in Canada, where year long mat leave is the norm.  I’ve only heard of a few women, generally self employed, who don’t take at least most of a year.  Most people take the full 52 weeks, and corporate life hasn’t fallen apart.  1 year contracts for temps are super common.)  The other two ladies were so totally uncomplicated about their choices, and it made me feel deep envy.

One works in a high pressure group at a large corporation and is not going back.  Her work is very family unfriendly, she feels if she works she can’t give 100% in either role, and she loves spending the days playing and snuggling with her daughter.  The other works as a coordinator for a major charitable organization – a job that is much more family friendly and also is very rewarding.  She is going back to work, and seems very un-conflicted about it.

I’m going back to work, in large part, because the last 8 months has shown us that I am, in fact, not very good at being a stay at home mother.  And that makes me feel like shit.

Look.  I love STAYING HOME, but I don’t love STAYING HOME WITH THE BABY, if you can parse out the differences.  I love sleeping in, and spending the day puttering around the kitchen, and going to lunch with friends, and long walks around the reservoir, fitness classes, and surfing the internet for hours,  and puttering around the house.  I like being able to take care of chores during the day so our evenings are clear for hanging out.  I like getting to read a lot, and being able to shrug off insomnia nights and make up for it later with naps.  I like the lifestyle of being at home (a Lady Who Lunches), but I am well aware right now it’s totally dependent on a baby who is rarely awake for more than 2 hours in a stretch, has 3 naps a day and isn’t yet mobile.  I find it hard enough to entertain the kid for 2 hours at a stretch, and she spends a good deal of time (delightedly, but still) in the exersauser /on the playmat / in the stroller as we run errands.  That’s not exactly the reading/playing/snuggling bliss that I genuinely believe some people love to do.  I don’t.  I try, but I can only try to read at a kid who spends her whole time trying to eat the book while ignoring my words utterly before I just hand her the book and watch her chew on it.  I just don’t have the patience now, and this age sounds a fuckload easier than having a toddler, who needs entertainment and attention all the time.

And yet, I don’t feel like a failure as a mother.  I breastfeed.  I make baby food.  I cloth diaper.  I know my baby well: I have identified two different legitimate medical problems that the doctors didn’t (the second tongue tie and the weight loss/sleep/milk issue, although I didn’t know exactly what the problem was, I was able to get them to help me find the solution.)  I feel capable at the daily tasks of raising this tiny baby of mine.  I just don’t feel as up to the daily task of entertaining her, and that makes me feel like shit too.

I think it would be easier if I was going back to work at something I was passionate about. I like my job, and I’m proud of the promotion I got before I went on mat leave, but I don’t love it.  It doesn’t complete me, or is my passion, or anything like that. It’s a good job, that pays well, that challenges me in good ways, and allows me to live the life I love and to travel.  My work isn’t as meaninful as working with sick kids, for example, or creative like running websites, or involved in any way with my undefinied passions.  (I don’t think fraccing is anyone’s passion.  It’s a good job that needs to be done, and that’s it.  For all of us at work, I think.)

I feel like shit about going back to work. (Giving up all the time with my baby!  Giving up the nice relaxed lifestyle I’m enjoying!)  I feel like shit at the through of having to stay at home for years.  (Failing at being the kind of stay at home mom I coulda/shoulda/woulda be!)  I feel like I’ve set myself up for being unable to win.  I also feel like this is entirely in my own head, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

Linked are three unrelated posts that were all very helpful in helping me pull my thoughts in to some for of order.   Meghan about not being guiltyLiz on staying at home with her sonJill about making parenting less stressful.