Thursday, October 25, 2018

Life at 6 months

Six months

You guys, six months is so much fun. I thought that all the newborn snuggles were amazing, but watching her rapidly gain all these new skills (and sometimes getting to sleep through the night) is the best.

Our lives at six months are crazy and it feels like we're in the weeds most weeks, but (most days) I actually love it and feel really full and content. I mean, don't talk to me after a night of teething related sleeplessness, when I hate the entire world with a fiery passion. I will admit to crying while driving to work just because I'm so exhausted and there's nothing to do about it. But there are other nights where she sleeps for 11 hours and then wakes up babbling and I feel amazing, like we're conquering the world. It's a lot of highs and lows but the highs seem to wipe out the memory of the lows pretty quickly.

I worked full time from home all summer while taking care of her, which was maybe the craziest decision I've ever made. I was so tired and done at the end of those three months. I felt like I was on call 24/7 and I was never sleeping and I felt guilty a lot of the time. Around 5 months she started to outgrow her willingness to take loooong naps in the wrap (the only thing that made this crazy scheme possible), which put my workday into a tailspin. She started daycare at just the right time (5 months + 1 week) and it was the best thing for both of us. I feel so much better being able to focus exclusively on work during the day and then shift to her at home, and she loves being surrounded by other kids and gets the biggest grin on her face when we hand her over to her caretakers each morning.

We're still figuring out how to juggle our lives as two working parents, but we're settling into a routine.

I wake up just before 6 am, pump while getting ready (I have the Spectra S1 which holds a charge, so I can walk around the house while pumping and I don't know how I'd survive without it), leave a bottle of milk on the counter and then get out the door by 6:30. Adrian wakes up between 6 and 6:30 so some mornings I'm lucky and get to see her and others I don't (but then that means she's sleeping in, so lucky in a different way). D takes point in the morning Monday through Thursday (we switch on Friday due to my meeting schedule) so he gets her up, feeds her the bottle, gets her dressed and drops her at daycare by 8:30.

I'm at work by 7 am and I just plow through as much as I can. I rarely take a lunch break. I pump three times at work (9:30, 12:30, 2:30) for about 15 minutes each time. I'm incredibly lucky and have an office so I can just shut my door and keep working while I pump. In theory, I try to leave the office by 3 so that I have a little bit of time to go to the gym or run errands, but I think that's happened once so far. This is a really busy time of year for me, but things will settle down at some point and I'm hoping to reclaim that hour. The absolute latest I can leave is 4:30, otherwise I'm risking being late to daycare pick up because traffic is a total crap shoot. It can take me 30 minutes or an hour, who knows?

I pick up Adrian by 5:30 at the latest, but usually closer to 5. We head home and she plays on the kitchen floor while I get her dinner ready, pack her lunch for the next day, and set up the bathtub and nursery for bedtime routine. Since I'm solo in the evenings I like to have everything staged before we start dinner. I set up the bathroom and put her towel on a baby bouncer so I have somewhere to put her when she's done with her bath. The first time I did bathtime alone I didn't do this and then I had a squirming wet baby and nowhere to set her down. I also start the kettle so I can quickly get a bottle ready in case she wants one before bed.

Depending on when she woke up from her last nap I'm aiming to put her in bed between 6:30 - 7:00, so I'll usually give her dinner around 5:45 pm, let her play with her food for 15 - 30 minutes (she usually has a bottle around 4:30 pm, but if she didn't then I'll breastfeed her as soon as we get home so she isn't too hungry at dinner). During dinner I don't multitask at all, I sit with her and talk to her and have a snack while she eats. We're doing baby led weaning, so she eats real food and I basically watch her like a hawk for any signs of choking (so far just plenty of gagging, which is healthy and normal). It's a really sweet time of day, because she's so excited about her food and also seems to think it's fun to watch me eat.

After dinner I carry her straight to the bathroom and she takes a quick bath, then I put her in pajamas and nurse her. If she's especially hungry I'll give her a bottle of pumped milk afterwards. She sometimes likes to tank up right before bed if she was having too much fun to eat much at daycare. We dim the lights, read a story, turn on the white noise and then I sing her bedtime song and lie her down. Most days she squawks to herself for 10 minutes then cries for 5 minutes, then I go in and soothe her a little and she falls asleep shortly after. Other days I have to go in multiple times. Once in a while we hit the timing just right and she falls asleep right away and I don't go in at all. We're supposed to put her down awake but if I've gone in multiple times I'll usually cheat and just nurse her to sleep because by that point in the day I'm really tired. I clean up from dinner (Circe helps with the floor) and wash all the bottles and pump parts and then pick up the house while I'm listening for her cries. She's usually asleep between 6:30 - 7:00 and I check my work email and handle anything that came in after I left.

If D makes it home by 7:30 then we'll catch up and eat something quick together (we're doing a lot of eggs these days because we just have zero energy for cooking), maaaaybe watch 30 minutes of TV and then I start getting ready for bed, take a quick shower (I'm so bitter on nights I have to wash my hair because it eats up extra time) and make sure I'm all packed up for the morning. I pump one last time around 9 pm, put my pump parts in the fridge for the next morning, and try to be in bed by 9:30 pm. I used to make sure I pumped or fed her every four hours at night, but that wasn't sustainable for me so around 5.5 months I started stretching it out and now I can go from 9 pm - 6 am (there are a lot of nights where she wakes up to eat once during that stretch, but if she sleeps through I'm fine too). It was uncomfortable for a couple days but my body adjusted pretty quickly.

Adrian is still inconsistent at night, so sometimes she'll sleep straight through, which is heavenly, but fairly often she'll wake up once in the middle of the night because she's hungry, I'll feed her and then put her back in her crib and she falls asleep right away. If she's teething or sick she'll sometimes have so much trouble sleeping that one of us will just go in there and hold her all night. It is not awesome but if it happens we alternate nights so that we at least take turns being zombies. This week she's cutting her top two teeth, so I had a really rough night with her on Monday, and D took over for Tuesday. If the pattern is the same as her first two teeth she'll only have a couple hard nights and then it will get better. We've tried Tylenol but it doesn't seem to make a difference, she just wants to be snuggled.

On good days this level of busy-ness feels pretty fulfilling and on tough days it feels like a grind and every once in a while it feels like I'm actually drowning, but I'm so aware of how short this stage is. Everything changes every few months, so nothing lasts for very long, good or bad. There's also a chance that she'll be our only kid, which makes everything seem very bittersweet because I know this might be the only time we get to do this and be in this moment, so I try to just sink into it and pay attention to the good parts and move past the hard parts as best I can. Easier said than done, but I feel so lucky to be here right now (can you tell I'm writing this post after getting a full night of sleep?). There are multiple times a week where I'm watching her and I'm just in awe that we get to do this. Even putting all the crazy mushy emotions aside, it is a huge privilege to get a front row seat and watch a human being develop. Does that make sense? Seeing her learn everything from scratch is just amazing.