18 January 2012

Nerd in the World: Month Three

Enjoying the new rocking chair cushions from our crafty friend, Lila.

"Wow, these leg warmers make we wanna dance!"

Almost as long as her changing table.

Age: 3 months
Weight: almost 13 lbs.
Length: ~24 in.
What can she do now?
  • smile with her entire face, especially when she sees Mommy or Daddy
  • kicks and wiggles arms when she's happy (getting a new diaper, seeing one of us, playing on her floor gym, etc.)
  • tries to punch dangling toys on the arch of the floor gym
  • grasps toys, like a rattle or toy links
  • coos more than ever and is making attempts to move her sounds to the front of her mouth
  • notices objects from far away, like the ceiling fan, the TV, and someone walking into the room
  • recognizes faces in the mirror
Celebrations from the past month:

  • We survived our first long car ride. On Christmas Eve, we drove to Cochran, GA, which takes approximately 3 hours one way. Mallory did extremely well in the car on the way down. She slept most of the way next to Michael, who had just pulled a 12-hour shift at the hospital the night before. They were adorable to watch in the rearview. On the way back, we decided to stop for dinner at the only restaurant that was open--Pizza Hut. Mal slept through dinner, but was ready to eat as we were leaving. I fed her in the back seat of the VW in the Pizza Hut parking lot. Super classy night.
  • I ordered our first set of cloth diapers and can't wait to start. So glad Christina, our sitter, is familiar with cloth diapering. She's taught me a lot and is all about continuing the practice with Mallory!
  • I went back to work…and I didn't die.
Dorky Mommy Moment (DMM):
There are several, but my favorite has been singing the Hokey Pokey during diaper changes. It's not too early to teach Mal the difference between left and right! ;)

    A mother's thoughts from this month:
    I'll never get everything "done" now that I'm a working mom, and that's a concept that is incredibly difficult for my OCD personality to handle. Dishes are always in the sink, and clothes are always waiting to be folded. And my blog is seeing me less and less. Even the book I'm writing is taking a bit of a backseat, so I'll have to spend my weekends and long breaks from work to make strides in completing its chapters. But I'm having to learn to just let go of some of the things that normally irritate me about a messy house. Mallory gets all of our free attention, and the clothes will just have to wait another day…or until she goes to bed. ;)
    She sleeps so peacefully.

    16 January 2012

    My Letter was Answered

    One year ago today, I wrote the entry below:

    Dear Baby Yet to Be Conceived

    Another blog (Today's Letters) had inspired me to do this. They are a husband-wife team who write each other a short letter or note each day to strengthen their communication in their marriage. Writing my letter established communication with a child we did not yet know, and it made the vision of becoming a parent--whether it be through our own pregnancy or through adoption--feel palpable. At the time, Michael was still working the night shift at the hospital. So with no one other than Mojo in the house to talk to, I just decided to stay up late and write the letter.

    Wouldn't you know, just an hour after writing it and right before falling asleep, I started my period. It felt like a terrible, twisted joke. I knew there would be a child in our future, but it was as if my body was telling me that it was not going to be the one to grow our baby. After all, we were on our fifth month of hormone therapy after having already tried to get pregnant for 14 months before that. There had been no progress, so the hope for a child of our flesh and blood was slowly waning.

    I cried myself to sleep that night. And since Michael was at work, I'm pretty sure I broke the "no Mojo in the bed" rule, too.

    Little did I know, it would be my last cycle. Michael and I found out we were pregnant on 16 February 2011. Our pregnancy, labor, and delivery were extremely healthy and successful. Our baby girl is almost 3 months old and is growing beautifully.

    Now when I read the letter I wrote a year ago, I replace "Baby Yet to Be Conceived" with "Mallory". It's as if the letter was meant for her, as if the next-in-line gamete waiting to drop out of my ovaries had her name written all over it.

    So here are my two very short letters to reflect my mommy emotions today...

    Dear Mallory:
    You're here, you're ours, and you're beautiful. Thank you for blessing us with everything that you are.
    Your Mommy and Daddy

    Dear Ovaries:
    Thanks for actually working. We like what we got out of you. Shall we try this again in 2-3 years?

    02 January 2012

    Bye, Bye, Maternity Leave

    79 days. That's how many days I have been at home on maternity leave. 76 of them have been with Baby Nerd. The first couple of weeks were a blur with all the laundry and diaper changes and cracking the crying code. Roughly 14 days worth. Just--*poof*--gone. Then came the baby weight gain and immunizations and learning to smile and storing away the newborn onesies. When your friends tell you not to blink, that it all goes so fast, it makes you feel a little less crazy for starting the college fund now and insane enough to be committed because you want to reproduce more.

    79 days, folks. A pregnancy that seemed it had just scarcely begun is now over, and we have time as parents growing behind us.

    I return to work on this upcoming Tuesday. I consider myself a fool for sitting here writing about my sorrow when I could very well be hogging the waning hours of "Mallory time" I have left. But Michael is nuzzling with her on the couch while they watch football together, and keeping the blog helps me release some of the emotional pressure I tend to bottle up.

    So how did I did I make my decision to go back and finish up the school year? Sure, things like salary and state benefits factored in. I like making money, contributing to our society via skills and taxes, and putting my own education to use. Then there were articles I read about staying at home versus returning to work. They had me leaning more toward going back to work since studies had shown that stay-at-home moms run a higher risk of depression.

    It's tough to imagine parting with our little beauty 5 days a week.
    But the actual decision-making really started when my teammates came to my house for a holiday dinner and gift exchange. They looked at me with compassion and asked:
    "Are you coming back?"
    I still haven't figured out why this question made me tear up. Maybe it's because I wasn't secure in my decision. Maybe it's because I'm comfortable enough around them to be vulnerable. Either way, I didn't expect the sudden stinging in my eyes and held Mallory a little tighter against my chest. And to make it even more difficult, Tamela gently put it out there:
    "You know, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if we had to find a replacement in the middle of the school year."
    It was my dinner party, and I was crying. And I didn't really want to. But at least I knew that my team supported any decision I made, even if it meant more work for them. Four of them are mothers. Not only had they been in my shoes, they had worn holes in them.

    I still needed time to make a final decision.

    Two days after the party, I visited my classroom. The highlight of the day was the holiday party my kids were having, as it was the last day before the 2-week winter break. Maria, my substitute, had them engaged in games and fun writing prompts. The room mother arranged for my kids to have pizza for lunch. I expected my students to give me a couples of hugs, wave at Mallory, and return to their plates of confections and cheesy greasiness, but I was way off. Despite the fact I had been away from them for 8 weeks, they brought me gifts, food, and poems. They fought for my attention to catch me up on their educational successes and progress. They bragged about what treats or drinks they contributed to the party. One boy, Dre, showed me the personalized gift he had made for Maria: a frame of boldly printed words reflecting their relationship as teacher-and-student in my absence. He had matured in my absence and was proud of his growth. I was proud of him, too.

    One child's father came by to drop off a gift for both Maria and myself, taking the time to pull me aside and tell me how much I have meant to his son. When he told me I was his son's favorite teacher, I couldn't help with my reply, "But I only had him for 9 weeks before my maternity leave!" The father's response: "You're not the kind of teacher who's here for a paycheck. It's obvious you are here because you love what you do and you love your kids."

    Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook saw this photo posted last month.
    A true example of sacrifice and sharing a skill (drawing Yogi Bear!) in gift-giving.
    I tried to visit with my class as long as I could, but the heat in the building was up too high and was contributing to Mallory's fussiness. A little girl helped me take gifts out to my car before returning for the diaper bag and the stroller. As I started to give my final hugs and push Mallory out the door, several of my students began to cry. Not tiny tears they mustered up for show, but real please-don't-go tears that required a box of tissues and 10 more hugs. Omar remarked aloud that he even come near the cryfest for fear he would fall victim, too.

    That did it. I was going back to work. My kids showed me how much they need me because, even if it's only for 18 more weeks of their lives, I am a reliable source of love, discipline, and knowledge. Does it make me less of a parent to Mallory to commit to a room of 26 fifth graders? Heck no! Do I realize how hard it's going to be at times? Of course. Other women go back to their classrooms all the time…with 4 kids at home. Or a severely ill child. Or a non-supportive husband. Or no husband at all. Or a really long commute. Or a second job on the weekends. Do they love their children any less? I should think not.

    It was not an easy decision, but I made it. I can change my mind for the next school year. I might research jobs or new careers that will allow me to work part-time or at home (like writing the next bestseller, right?). But as for now, I return to work on Tuesday. I expect to cry when I drop Mallory off…and think about her as I drive away…and when I text at lunch time to check in... It'll be my first time giving our daughter to someone other than family to care for her. Emotions will run high, and thankfully, we have a great babysitter, Christina, who I've known since I was in high school. We were fortunate to have her living so close.

    Now let's put it all in perspective. This time last year, we had reached our 19th month of negative pregnancy tests. On Tuesday, 3 January 2011, I will be a working mom.


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