7.29.2014

She's Cute, But Sometimes It Sucks

A colleague of mine often brings in her husband's TO DIE FOR key lime pie whenever there's a staff function that involves food. It's my absolute favorite among the potluck options, and that first bite never fails to pack a mighty zing.

That's parenthood.

When you first bring your kid home, it's a shock to the system much like that tart zap to your taste buds. But, after a few bites months, routines emerge and you become acclimated. You find yourself staring at this warm sweet-smelling bundle that mews like a kitten.

Everyone has their own version of parenthood, and their own stories to report. I'm incredibly skeptical of any Mom out there who claims that motherhood is simply "the best thing ever." The end. No, not the end. That sentence, in my world, gets a significant revision: Motherhood is amazing, fulfilling in a way no one can explain, but there are moments, and occasionally days, when even though she's the cutest thing ever, motherhood can suck. When you just want to call a time-out, but you can't.

Uh-huh. That's truth for you folks. Real life. If it sounds harsh and not all Anne Geddes then you're not being realistic.

Honest to god, I love my kid. I love her as wide and deep as the ocean. Love, as I've said before, is almost a trite word when I begin to attempt to encompass what I feel about this little creature. It's too big, too nebulous to fit into four letters. But loving her does not mean that all moments are to be treasured. When you have a baby, people like to preach, "Cherish every moment." That's all well and good, but I've learned you can love someone, and still not like a moment with them.

Let's face it, how can you expect me to cherish my kid when she's miserable and cranky? You want me to cherish her when I'm wiping up the shitty blowout diaper that has defied gravity and magically climbed up her back? These are not treasured moments; they can be memorable (after some space and time), but they're not to be cherished.

And thinking this way does not make me a bad mother. What it does is make me honest. No pretense. The good and the bad. Kind of like marriage. When you take those vows, what are you truly pledging to do? Stick around when times are good? Nope, that's the easy stuff. You're promising to yourself, to your betrothed and to whomever is witness that you're going to stick by your partner when the shit hits the fan. Likewise, when you become a mother, you silently vow to stick with this kid through it all - the poop and the smiles.

Last Friday night, my baby came down with a fever. Saturday she was miserable. I mean inconsolable, cranky, clingy, didn't want to eat - a mess. Buckets of tears. We were convinced an alien had abducted our child. This was NOT a day I cherished. Sunday was better, but then Big Red noticed a developing rash on her when it was time for her bath. A call to the on-duty nurse revealed a suspicion of Hand Foot and Mouth Disease, which consequently, we knew was running rampant among kids. You know what some of my first thoughts were?

1. I hope she gets over this quickly.
2. Dammit, now she can't go to school on Tuesday and Thursday, and I won't get any downtime.

Yup. I'm admitting it - I thought of myself. And I felt a little like an asshole for it, but if you've ever had a sick kid, you know that when they're sick, everything stops, nothing gets done, and you're as miserable as long as they are. We won't even talk about the worry factor - cause it's always present and turned up considerably when your babe becomes ill.


Yesterday, I was feeling sorry for her, and still a little for myself, but decided we needed to get out of the house. It was day 3.5 of this dreaded "disease," but she was weathering it well, and good enough for a quick field trip to the store. While in Babies R Us, we ran into another mama who was looking at neck supports that go into car seats. We chatted quickly about how we liked some of these ideas, and in the midst of our discussion, she mentioned that her son has cerebral palsy.

Okay Universe, I hear ya. Loud and clear. All it takes is one moment, a life hip-check to snap you out of whatever mood you're in. My kid is healthy by all stretches of possibility and a little dumb HFAM is nothing compared to larger issues that others face. Got it.

Lucy is on the mend, her appetite has returned, and she's nearly all herself. We are several bites into our key lime pie, and enjoying each other's company again. I know, I'm certain, we are in store for more less-than perfect moments - that's just how it goes, and I'm not going to beat myself up for wishing I could escape once in a while. It's not worth it. Perfection, Supreme Motherhood, and "It's the best thing ever. The end." It's all unreasonable and unattainable.

I love her, I am thankful for her existence and yes, I wouldn't change a thing - but I can also admit that there are moments that suck. The end.



7.09.2014

Month Nine.

Last month was brimming with milestones and changes.  We’d hardly have expected to repeat shut feats, but sure enough, this past month was replete with such feats.

While it wasn’t something Big Red and I cared to repeat, Lucy did come down, again, with croup. The difference was this time we knew exactly what it was and were familiar with the drill. Off to Children’s Hospital Emergency we went, late one Monday night. Turns out it was, thankfully, a slow night and we were in and out in about an hour. Whatever virus caused her to develop croup, this time around, wasn’t as strong as the last one. She quickly got over the bug, and returned to her happy self.

Then, soon after, we experienced a week of what I would just characterize as Lucy Fussy McCrankerson. I was concerned that, although mild, the congestion left by the virus that had initially caused her to develop croup, had gone to her ear again. Because we would be flying out to California in a few weeks, I was adamant about having her checked out and addressing anything that might have come up, but nope, her ears were perfectly clear and healthy. The doc did mention that infants can often go through a fussy period just before reaching new milestones. I did relay the fact that our gal had been up on her hands and knees and was scooting backwards, but working hard to figure out the forward movement. Turns out, the doc had sniffed out what was wrong. Within a matter of days of having been to see the doc, on June 24, Miss Lucille figured out how to crawl. And within 48 hours of that, had figured out how to pull up and stand.

Miss McCrankerson turned back into her jovial self.

Homegirl is ON THE MOVE. She’s not interested in sitting in one spot that is unless Tiger, her favorite stuffed animal, is nearby. In order to better accommodate the moving babe, I rearranged some furniture so that she’d have some space. We also busted out the Pack’n Play, because now if we need to leave the room for longer than a millisecond, the little miss needs to be safely contained.

Lucy continues to forge into the food world with gusto, adding waffles, broccoli pancakes, strawberries, salmon, apricot, nectarine, pasta, pineapple, kiwi, turkey – and finally – she now likes avocado!! She’s had a couple bites of French fries, and not shockingly, loved them. Smart girl. We celebrated the fourth of July with little fanfare, but Lucy did experience her first taste of steak and King’s Hawaiian rolls. And just like her folks, she housed every piece offered.

She loves all mirrors and goes nuts when she sees one. She also loves to play peek-a-boo with herself if there's a blanket handy. As of lately, she's begun to parrot what we say; not so much words, but sounds. As of right now, she repeats, "uh oh." And it's just about the cutest thing ever.


Just a day ago, Lucy experienced her first, of what will surely be many more, flights out to California. She did SO WELL! While she only napped for 45 minutes of each leg, she didn't fuss, she was smiling at other passengers, and checking out all parts of the seat in front of us. We arrived to her smiling Aunt Shannon and her elated Abuela.

My girl is spending her nine month mark in my hometown, and we share this day, as it's my 36th birthday.

Happy nine months, my sweet Lucille.

6.09.2014

Month Eight.

Somehow, I knew this month was going to be a big one, maybe even a grand slam. It is almost incomprehensible how much Lucille has learned in the past four weeks. She has hit milestone after milestone, so much so that were I to elaborate in the narrative format, this entry would be to long:
  • She can now hold a sippy cup and drink from it.
  • She had her first ride, big girl style up front, in a shopping cart. And she loved it!
  • She sat in a high-chair at a restaurant. Gone is the schlepping of the car seat.
  • She now reaches for and attempts to hold her own bottle; those bottles are now 6.5 ounces.
  • While in the sitting position, she can then move onto her belly, then up on her hands and knees and rock back and forth.
  • She in incredibly intent on pulling up and standing.
  • She fed herself food for the first time, and now continues to do so on a regular basis.
  • She often grabs for the spoon and attempts to feed herself.
  • She has figured out how to roll!!
  • Should her pacifier fall out in the middle of the night, Big Red and I no longer have to replace it for her. She can reach around, find it, and put it back in her own mouth.
  • She can now put herself to sleep, not only at night, but for her naps as well.
  • She has dropped the five o' clock hour feeding and now sleeps through to the six o' clock hour, upon which she gets a bottle, and then goes back to sleep for a hour, sometimes an hour and a half.
  • She had her first pool experience and splashed happily in the water.
  • Is beginning to learn to wave, "bye-bye."
  • Added scrambled eggs, toast w/butter, black beans, mango, quinoa, kale, blueberry, and cauliflower to the list of foods she eats.
  • She now weighs roughly 20 lbs.
  • And she responds to her name.

This was also the month we celebrated my first Mother’s Day. I had requested of Big Red a particular gift I’d seen mentioned among my Mommy Group friends, a Mother’s Journal. In lieu of cards, the idea behind the journal is to provide a space for your child to write letters to you each year. Since Lucy is obviously not old enough to write me a letter, Big Red penned one on her behalf, glued in a couple of pictures, and outlined her tiny little hand. It was perfect. Flowers arrived the day before Mother’s Day, and to my surprise, they were from my West Coast family! Breakfast that Sunday morning was eggs benedict, my absolute favorite. It was the Mother's Day it was supposed to be; sweet and intimate, not too much fuss. 

A friend of mine from graduate school sent me an email the other day and he’d asked, in the message, to update him on Lucy and my life. I told him that I really like my daughter, and I explained that sometimes when I tell folks that they’re response is, “You like her? You don’t love her?” Without question or hesitation, I love my daughter. In fact the word love often seems to pale in comparison to what I feel for this little girl. But you can love someone, and not necessarily like them. Not only do I love my daughter, but I like her too. She’s so much fun to be around these days. 

We hit a home run with this kid, I tell you, and it continues to be a privilege to see her personality flourish. Lucy is becoming this wonderfully funny and bright little being; her very own self apart from me and Big Red. It’s like magic. 

Then I think to myself, I made her. 

And then I’m overwhelmed with the gravity of it all. Those slippery ideas that you attempt to grapple with but end up shelving for another time because they’re just too big. Maybe that’s  the way it’s meant to be: stay present, dance in the feelings of the moment, and quit trying to understand the expanse of those emotions, because you just know.


Happy eight months, my sweet Lucille.

5.20.2014

Time.

The other day, I reposted a link to Frank Bruni’s, Op/Ed piece in the New York Times, “Read, Kids, Read.” Bruni cites a study that recently revealed “fewer than 20 percent of 17-year-olds now read for pleasure almost every day. Back in 1984, 31 percent did.” What an incredibly disheartening statistic. Aside from the nearly irrefutable fact that reading is linked with higher intelligence, this speaks to our culture of instant gratification found through digital technology. Those few who are actually reading are slowing down their pace of life. Sitting with a novel, albeit in the hard copy or tablet format (I still very much prefer the hard copy; the act of turning the page, and yes, I’ll admit it – smelling the book), takes time.

Reading for pleasure is not something I’ve been able to figure out how to incorporate back into my life post the birth of my daughter. I have cued up on a list the next several books I’d like to read and have promised myself that I will pick them up this summer. I used to read before going to bed, but I go to bed so early now that if I read before bed, I’d be getting into bed at 8 o’clock, thus leaving little time for catching up with my husband after the baby goes to bed. An excuse? Perhaps, but perception is reality and that is my current reality.

There is a larger issue at hand, though. Time. The pace of it all. How we’re always looking to get things done more efficiently so that we have more time. And yet despite all the gadgets, aps, and time savers available, there doesn’t seem to be any time gained. I’m guilty of it. Just this morning I was trolling Pinterest for “quick and healthy recipes.” The irony is, last night after watching an episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, where he travels to France, my husband and I were talking about the culture of food in France as compared to here in the states. We’re all about the hurry-up, the fast-food, the “quick and easy.” I remarked to Big Red that we need more of that in our lives where the ingredients and the cooking of those ingredients becomes part of the leisure and enjoyment. That dinner is more than just a wolf-down in front of the television, but a reason to stop and relax. How we are to accomplish this with a seven month old escapes me.

From time to time I get these romantic notions that I will only buy the freshest ingredients from our local farmers' markets, maybe even join a CSA, cook it all from scratch, and we’ll sit down to each meal prepared with a glass of wine. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? I have yet to transform this vision from black and white to Technicolor.

Here’s what I don’t want, and forgive me if I digress. I don’t want my daughter learning that the end goal is to hurry-up and finish whatever it is we’re doing, whether it’s cooking, eating, or yes, even cleaning. Nor do I want her learning to turn to the television to fill in the blank spaces. As of today, I’m hosting an internal battlefield as to whether or not the TV is in fact abominable, and if I should fight to change the current. It’s how I grew up and I’d like to believe I turned out alright. As I’ve said before, monkey see, monkey do – so if I’m not willing to change my own television watching habits, how could I ever expect her to learn otherwise? Some days I want to get rid of the bright shiny box, and other days I’m like, “Nah, it’s not so bad – I really love watching Real Housewives of ______.” As my students would say, this is “the struggle.” I’m riding the “struggle bus,” when it comes to television.

Lucille deserves the bucolic childhood that every kid should have; playing in the park, rolling down the hill in the backyard, riding her bicycle, painting, running through the sprinklers, drawing, fishing, and reading at her leisure with a flashlight inside the fort she built out of couch cushions and bed sheets – a modern day Laura Ingalls.

Maybe it’s more about balance and less about definitely exclude this or must include that. Not every dinner in our household will be a pastoral farm-to-table, but maybe we can work those in a couple times a week…at some point...someday down the line. So she may watch cartoons on Saturday mornings; I have fond memories of watching such with my younger brother, and we often were playing while watching The Smurfs. We’d dump the bin of Legos out on the floor and create mansions while He-Man battled villains or Jem made sure those pesky Misfits didn’t thwart her latest Holograms concert. I used my imagination. I did. And so will she.

This issue of time will never leave, and is something I’ll have to reckon with. My daughter is seven months old already. It’s such a tired cliché, but it really is all happening so quickly, and I find myself in isolated cyclones of panic knowing that I’m never going to get this moment back. It is terrifying.  Yesterday, I only saw her for a few minutes in the morning. Professional duties occupied my afternoon and evening, thwarting my time with her before she went to bed for the night. This morning, when I fed her at 5 am, I found myself running my cheek along her downy head of hair, inhaling that magical sweet scent. My free hand gently playing with hers as she grasped my fingers in a milk-drunk trance. I found rapture in the weight of her body against mine. In the cloaked darkness of her room, the morning chorus of birds beginning their hymns just outside her window, I savored every moment. Time, for once, was not my nemesis.


5.09.2014

Month Seven.

Unofficially, I’m a numbers gal. When they appear to come together in perfect arrangement, it makes me happy. Big Red and I got married seven years after we’d begun dating, in the seventh month of the year, in 2007, on Friday the 13th. Lucille was born in 2013, after Big Red and I had been together for thirteen years. Seven is the number of the natural world. There are seven days in a week, and seven notes on the musical scale. Sheva, the Hebrew word for seven, comes from a root which means complete.

Lucille is seven months old.

This past month has been a tangle of illnesses. Lucy fought a cold for five weeks, and was finally put on Amoxicillin – and it cleared up. Looks like the initial virus turned into a sinus infection. Then she experienced her first vomiting episode at 2 am – and then again at 6 am – on the same day. The poor gal had been sleeping in her own wretchedness, soundly and without complaint. When I went into her room and discovered it all, I was amazed at how far-reaching the projectile nature of her vomit was: through the rails of her crib and down the side of the wall. It was in her hair, on and inside her clothes, and stuck to her face. And the sweet little babe didn’t once protest the filth. Clearly, something in her belly did not agree with her and it needed to go.

Then came the croup. That horrible barking cough that landed us in the ER at 11:30 pm last Saturday. After a visit from the doc, the administration of some Motrin for a mild-grade fever and a dose of steroids, they sent us on our way at a bleary-eyed 3:30 am. Once again, Lucy weathered the evening with smiles for all the docs and nurses. With croup came horrible congestion. Big Red stayed home with her on Monday, and I stayed home with her Tuesday and Wednesday. She was a little crankier than normal, and that razor sharp Mama Bear instinct kicked in. I called the doc and got an appointment that Wednesday morning. They confirmed her right ear was infected and sent us home with a script for Augmentin. We immediately upped her yogurt intake in an effort to ward off the known side-effect of diarrhea, and it appears to be helping.

Her food is so pretty: carrots, beets, asparagus
As of today, 3.5 doses into her medicine, she seems less congested, not bothered by her ear, but still coughing at night – although, thankfully, the barking is gone. Lucille is running the gamut of illnesses that we knew came with the territory of being in daycare. I remind myself that while it sucks to go through this all, she’s building what will be a brick house of an immune system. If anything, these challenges have reminded Big Red and I how lucky we are with this little girl; even in the face of these crappy stints, she remains jovial and charming.

Still no rolling. Lucy can twist her entire body over to the side, but hasn’t quite figured out how to throw her hip over. So close. She is extremely interested in pulling up; when given hands to grasp she will then use her legs to push herself up to a standing position. And while on her belly, she’s getting closer and closer to figuring out how to get those knees under her. She does a variation of an Army crawl backwards – but doesn’t have the hang of moving forward. We’ve also introduced Cheerios during meals. She still does the “raking” maneuver to pick up the O’s, and occasionally will display hints of the “pincer” grasp, but mainly the Cheerios end up on the floor – a bonus for Olive who has consequently become keen to this ritual and now hangs out near the highchair during mealtime. And do I detect a slight change in her eye color? They've been blue since birth, but I'm pretty sure I see some hazel creeping in around the pupil...

There are definite “m” and “b” consonant sounds: mamamama or babababa. Her teachers at school claim that around 4 pm, if we haven’t picked up yet (I usually get her at 3:30), she starts to say “mamamama.” I don’t doubt them, but I don’t believe she’s connected “mama” to me just yet. Lucy also acknowledged her teachers this month, as this week was Teacher Appreciation. “She” gave them these adorable Pinterest inspired gifts.

Mother’s Day is in two days, and I have my fingers crossed that the oft last minute scrambling Big Red will come through…

Despite all the sleepless nights, late nights, puke clean-ups, diaper blow-outs, booger and snot excavation, and sneeze sprays – she still remains my most favorite person on this planet.

Happy seven months, my sweet Lucille.


4.09.2014

Month Six.

Lucille is half a year old. My goodness. My sweet girl is making strides, taking leaps and bounds in her growing and her father and I watch this all, kept custody by the wonder and amazement of her existence. We must work to keep our hubris in check, because despite our logical understanding of her accomplishments, that they are par for the course, to us, she really is amazing.

This month Lucy has expanded her palate adding to the list: beets, green beans, broccoli, yogurt, chicken, and pears. To date she eats with voracity all that’s spooned into her little bird mouth – except avocado. The avocado worshiper in me cringes that my daughter does not immediately melt at the site of this perfect fruit, but I understand that her palate is still young and she may eventually come around. Avocado when mixed with banana is a completely different story, in fact banana anything seems to be a favorite.  She was a tad skeptical of plain yogurt, but when mixed with fruit, wolfed it down.

The other big to-do in the life of this infant is the ditching of swaddle. From the get-go, Lucy was swaddled at night. With the onset of her cold, something she’s still working to get over, Lucy had been waking up in the wee hours of the morning in fits of clogged sinuses. After siphoning out the bastard boogies, I’d free her arms and put her back in the crib. She fell asleep each time without any issue. About two weeks ago Big Red and I made the decision to make this the new normal and what do you know, she slipped right into her new sleeping set-up beautifully…or so it appeared. Two nights after the initial honeymoon of being un-swaddled, Lucy began experiencing (thereby including us in her experience – oh joy) a sleep regression. I sourced my amazing mama group and plenty of the women chimed in saying their little ones had gone through something similar around this same age. I also referred to my book, The Wonder Weeks, and wouldn’t you know it, but around week 25 or 26, it claims that many kids will show some kind of fussiness due to a new understanding of the world around them. It could be that she’s now keenly aware of us, and dealing with some separation anxiety when she wakes at night. The only reason I say this is because one evening, I threw in the towel at 2 am, decided against feeding her to quiet her (I really didn’t want to introduce a bottle at night again), and brought her into bed. The little bean nuzzled her body against my mine and was asleep immediately. As much as I love her cuddles, I don’t necessarily sleep well when we co-sleep, so on the suggestion of one of my wise mama friends, we put Lucy to sleep the following night with a lovey. And it worked. It helped tremendously, so much so that a few times when she woke up, she whimpered and cried out, then turned to her lovey, and fell asleep again. The worst part of the regression seems to have passed, and she’s back to sleeping much more soundly. While she’s still getting up once or twice a night, thankfully it’s only to quickly replace a spit-out pacifier.

As for said pacifier, we’re leaving it in for now. When we pull the plug, I anticipate it will be a rough couple of cry-it-out style evenings, and hence my delay for a time when I’m not working so as to recover from  nights of interrupted sleep. Then again, she could surprise us…we should be so lucky.

Lucy continues to grow stronger in her core and sits pretty much unassisted. If on her belly she pushes up, and darn if she isn’t close to hitching those doughy soft knees under her. There haven’t been any recent signs of rolling; it’s as if while in her fourth month she crossed it off her to-do list, and has forgotten all about it. We are not concerned as we know each child reaches milestones at different times and that’s how we arrive at averages.  She loves her play gym jumper, and bounces in that seat like there’s no tomorrow. It’s one of her favorite activities, and I’m almost certain her favorite book right now is Good Night Moon. I read it to her every night, sometimes in addition to another book. Often, when I begin, “In the great green room…,” her face lights up and she smiles.

The long dreary days of winter finally seem to be falling behind us and the sun is showing its face more and more. We have been able to get outside, and sit on a blanket in the yard a few times. My daughter is just now experiencing the wind and glorious sunshine on her face and ginger-tinted hair (yes, it looks like she may in fact be a red head!). She looks around the yard with wonder, watching Olive sniff and play with sticks, and listening to all the sounds. We really don’t need any toys; the sensory experience is more than enough.

As for me, five weeks into this Working Mom business and I can report that we’re all surviving. Most of that survival can be attributed to my Lucy’s successful transition to daycare. She is comfortable when she gets dropped off by Big Red and handed over to her teachers, and she’s content when I pick her up in the afternoon. Honestly, as long as she’s doing well, I can do my job at work. There are moments during the day when I think of her intensely and miss her tremendously, but it’s not accompanied by worry.

There has been another profound phenomenon I have experienced. Prior to Lucy, I could watch anything on TV or see anything out in the world without having to endure lasting reactions. It seems as though the moment I had my daughter, I broke open. I now wear my heart outside of myself, and it prattles about on a blanket, feet hitched up, clasped between two doughy hands. Since having my daughter I cannot watch anything that has to do with children who are in harm’s way or are suffering. I can’t do it. There is an intense visceral reaction, often one of nausea that stops me. Nor can I see children, while out and about, who struggle—be it from physical or mental challenges, without having to fend off tears and being overcome with a profound sense of gratitude for the health of my daughter.

Finally, finally – I went for a run. It has taken me nearly six months to get back on the horse, but saddle up I have. On Monday, April 1, I laced up my sneakers for the first time in what seemed like forever, and hit the pavement. Big Red agreed to pick up Lucy so that I could run right after work. It has become overwhelmingly clear that once I am home, unless it’s to go on a walk with the baby and the dog, I will not be exercising. There’s just a little too much to get done, and I absolutely enjoy my time with my daughter – time with Lucy is just not something I’m willing to give up. Unfortunately after my inaugural run, the weather, and a terrible night of sleep, thwarted my efforts. The goal still remains that after work, twice a week, I hit the streets of Oakland, tunes in my ears, lungs heaving from inactivity and each step carrying me towards bettering myself. Next week is our spring break, so I’ll have an opportunity to lace up again. I’m no longer in a quest to be “skinny.” Long gone are those unrealistic achievements that purely set me up for failure. In place is the new goal: health and fitness. Monkey see, monkey do, and I don’t want Lucy growing up watching her mother pick herself apart in the mirror. Instead I want her to see a woman who is proud of the body that created a human life and exercises to feel good and keep healthy. If I keep that as my mantra, I know I can stay the course.

Happy six months, my sweet Lucille.


3.09.2014

Month Five.

How is it possible that my newborn baby is five months old, that she’s started school, and that I will be returning to my job tomorrow morning? Hindsight may be 20/20, but it is also viewed in fast-forward. When you’re in the moment, time moves as it does – slow and steady, but when seen from the rear-view mirror, those moments quickly become specks on the horizon.

Lucille is an absolute joy. She is sleeping through the night, going to bed at around 7 pm and waking near 6 am. One of the biggest leaps she’s made this month is the addition of pureed table food. To date, my girl has tried and enjoyed: sweet potato, banana, peas, apple, squash, avocado, brown rice, and carrots. She eats with a smile, and eats well. Currently, she’s getting food twice a day, the puree accompanying a complimentary bottle. Bottle volume has increased to 5.5 ounces. Laughter is abundant, and Lucy is really into her doggie, Olive. Olive is the recipient of many smiles, and lots of petting, both of which she accepts gracefully. She does not seem to mind the occasional tug on her fur from little hands, but we are still trying to teach Lucy to be gentle with her. My gal, at her four month appointment, weighed in at 14.5 lbs, and measured 25.5” long. She is growing, growing, growing. Her feet remain a source of curiosity, and she’s constantly grabbing them. Her tongue is also of fascination and she loves to use it to make various noises, some of which include blowing bubbles, making raspberries, and talking. There are a string of sounds she now makes that sound like, "ma-ma-ma-ma." No sign of teeth yet, but plenty of gnawing on toys and whatever hand is handy. Big Red and I agree that she tends to favor her left side, both in the grabbing of objects or kicking – will she be a lefty like her Mom?

A week ago, Lucy started school (aka: daycare). Our first drop off went very well. Big Red got her together without too much trouble (he’ll have to do morning drop-offs since my start time at work is very early), and we made it out of the house by 7:20. When we arrived, her teacher, Miss J., greeted us warmly and helped us get our things settled. Big Red held Lucy the whole time, letting her take in the new surrounds from the comfort of his arms. We were there no more than 20 minutes, and when it was time to go, I kissed her cheek, Big Red handed her over, and we bolted. My goal was not to hear or see her cry because I knew if I did it would make it that much harder – on everyone. In recent weeks, Lucy has become wildly aware of her surroundings, and who is holding her. She does not like being held by anyone but Mom and Dad. Knowing this, we went over our drop-off plan the night before, and thankfully it worked. I did not call that first day, to see how she was doing, because I did not want to hear any kind of shaky news. It would have only made me upset and worried. Instead, I went about my business at home, caught up on some bills, tidied up a bit, and sort-of, relaxed. When it was time to pick her up at 12:30, I made my way there, and prepared myself for whatever report of her morning I would hear. She was in different clothing then when I’d dropped her off, and that was attributed to some minor spit up. No crying baby, and she’d eaten her food – that’s a win in my books!

Lucy’s first week at school was great success other than a small souvenir from her first stint: a cold. Yup. Kept her home with me on Friday just so that she could rest. Naps at school are a little hit or miss, and while I’m sure she enjoys the hustle and bustle in the room and interacting with her peers, she really needed to rest properly. I’ve always known illnesses were part of the daycare deal, and while they suck in the moment, they do help to build her immune system. In reality there are many, many strains of every virus (pink eye, the common cold, etc.). I know she won’t have antibodies for all, but at least she’ll have some, making her a more sturdy kid when she’s older.  The flip side to this was a couple of sleepless nights for me. Big Red sleeps through Armageddon, so the bill falls on me to get up with her when she’s congested. The good news is she falls back to sleep quickly; the bad news is this happened several times in the wee hours of the night. Not to mention a few un-reported trips into her room to lean my head deep into her crib, and inch from her face, and take note of her breathing.  What the hell did I ever worry about before I had her? Lucy has been a trooper, though, and is as happy as ever despite her snotty nose. We lucked out with this kid, I tell you.

Tomorrow I go back to work, the first time in a working capacity since Wednesday, October 9, 2013. I am as ready as humanly possible, logistically, but I’m not sure what the emotional toll will be. I reached out to my Mommy Group for some uplifting, expressing my concerns, not with my ability to teach, and not with Lucy being at daycare, but rather this whole Working Mom business. And I capitalize that because it deserves such recognition. More likely than not I will have no shame in taking the anti-anxiety medicine I have, as I have started to feel the initial pangs of what will, if left alone, turn into ugliness. I have no freaking clue what the next few months will hold, how difficult and exhausting it will be, but I have promised myself the following:
 
No matter what, I will be kind to myself. If the house is disheveled and my options are to spend time with the daughter I haven’t seen all day or pick up clothes, I will choose her. If there are assignments to grade, but the day has finished, then they will have to wait until tomorrow. If the tears come, I will let them fall. I am not a robot, I am a human, and there will be bumps along the way, but I will trust in finding a way.

Happy five months, my sweet Lucille.