Friday, March 9, 2012

Swan Song of Maternity Leave

 Ahhh, the time warp that is maternity leave. A time warp that, sadly, is in its waning days. It seems impossible that 10 weeks have passed since the birth of my second barnacle offspring, and yet I can't possibly remember what life was like without her. Maternity leave (not vacation, thank you very much man-with-visibly-soiled-hands-trying-to-touch-my-baby-in-the-grocery-store) is such an odd beast-- inexplicable unless you've been there. One would think lots would get accomplished-- you're just sitting at home all day, right? But oddly enough, NOTHING ever seems to get done. Seriously, some days my list of things to do includes items like "brush teeth", and I reserve the right not to divulge whether the list is always checkmarked at the end of the day. Babies (or at least MY babies) are so constantly dependent, so barnacle-ish, and their needs are so cyclical that I am completely incapable of accomplishing anything else. Feed me. Change me. Hold me. Clean up my spitup. Wait, did you put me down? You know I don't tolerate that. Feed me again. And again. Change me again. And again. Add this to the unfathomable degree of sleep deprivation that makes one walk around in a dazed fog reminiscent of the day after middle school sleepovers. Except your tummy doesn't quite have the same "consumed-an-entire-pound-bag-of-skittles-and-pan-of-brownies" feeling. And somehow you manage to get absolutely nothing done. Which is frustrating when your goals for the time "off" include Learn All of Pediatric Radiology, Make Delicious Home-Cooked Meals Nightly, and Clean/Organize Entire House. Let's just say I got stuck at the top of the list in the "brush teeth" department...

What I have learned (or have been reminded of) from Maternity Leave includes the following:

There is a logarithmic direct relationship between the niceness of the clothes you are wearing and the volume and rancidness of spitup that your offspring will deposit on you. 
The corollary to this relationship is that your older child will ask you why you always have pajama day at work lately.

There is a similar inverse relationship between the volume of spitup and your proximity to a burp cloth, time you have to get somewhere, and minutes since you stepped out of the shower. 

Husbands should make comments like, "But you've been home ALL day!" upon penalty of death.

Baby Rogaine ad to air in the near future

Introduce a bottle to your breastfed baby before the week prior to going back to work, unless you want your baby to look at you like you have mistakenly offered her poisonous shards of hot glass.

Laundry. Is. Never. Done.

Getting pegged with projectile baby poop while changing a diaper is enough to halt ovulation for a good 18 months.

27 days (but who's counting?) with no more than 2 consecutive hours of sleep makes you a little grumpy. 

If maternal success is judged by getting your child to nap in a crib, I'm a complete fail. Conversely, if it is based on depth of the butt-shaped imprint you leave on the couch from the incessant nursing your baby prefers, then bring on my trophy.

Hours spent with a newborn sleeping on your chest are not wasted. In fact, they may be the most productive I've spent in my 32 years.

One YouTube instructional video on how to tie the Moby Wrap is far more useful than 14 years of higher education.

You have a narrow window of time to put your kiddos in funny costumes and take pictures without protest. Make the most of it. 

You know your husband has a problem when he buys/sells/trades cars at a rate approaching that of the number of diapers that you change.

My smile may or may not be feigned. Elise isn't even attempting to humor her dad. 

Never underestimate the power of the swaddle.

It is inevitable that whenever you are holding or feeding the baby, your older child will suddenly need to be physically on your person. Nursing a baby with a 3-year-old draped across your shoulders is no easy feat.

70 days is not enough to be ready to give up your little one to the care of someone else. But neither would 700 days. Or 70,000. And I know I'm lucky to love my job, the people I work with, and knowing that my girls will grow up knowing they can do and be anything they want to be (except a hairdresser). So back I'll go, thankful for the snuggles, the sweet baby smell, the touch of tiny fingers and toes, and all the rest of the moments you only get to cherish one time around. It's amazing how 71 days (who's counting?) of sleepless nights are magically erased by one simple sweet smile. 

Ceremonial first visit to Grampa's restaurant garners mixed reviews by the Golding girls:

Elle gave the famous double cheeseburger a look of generalized disdain...

While Elise seems rather pleasantly intrigued.

Ironically, the cheeseburger afficianado is the one who has been noshing on dairy-free milk for the past month and a half...