My last day of maternity leave

Well, this is it. Today I can say, I am going to work tomorrow. Wow. That really sucks to say. 😦

I was going to write this post throughout the day. Do little paragraphs about what I was doing. But the day is already over and I didn’t write anything. My last day with my daughter is done. Tomorrow morning I will officially be a working mom.

I know I might seem melodramatic with all of this woe-is-me, returning to work = armageddon, but really, this feels like a very big, life altering transition for me. I feel like when I was TTC I was waiting (and waiting, and waiting) to get pregnant. And when I was pregnant I was waiting to have my baby. And when I was on maternity leave I was waiting to go back to work. And now I’m going back to work and this is it. This is the end of the road. There are no more transition periods, I have arrived at my destination. When I start back at work I will be officially starting my new life. My new life as a working mother.

And being a working mother seems so much more complicated than being a stay at home mom. (I don’t know if I get to call myself that, as I was only home on maternity leave, but after almost six months at home, it felt like I was for a bit). I was already floundering quite a bit wearing all the hats required of me when I stayed home with Isa. At home I was a mother to my daughter, a partner to my spouse, a daughter to my parents, a friend to my friends, and a graduate student to my program. Now I have to add three more very time consuming roles to my life. Now I am all of those things but I’m also a teacher to my students, an employee to my principal and an employer to my SIL (who is taking care of Isa). The only hat I will soon be able to let go of is that of graduate student, and while that is a very heavy hat indeed, one that fell into my eyes and hurt my head, the three new hats I need to accommodate feel like that will quickly take the place, and then some, of my burdensome graduate school hat.

Okay, this hat metaphor is tired but I hope I made my point. I just feel overwhelmed by how many people will be depending on me and how screwed I (they) would be if I (shock! horror!) were sick or just generally not up to all that responsibility. I feel like my the lives of so many people are riding on my shoulders and that is an incredible amount of pressure. I mean, I’m just one woman – how can I possibly juggle all these roles and responsibilities? It’s nerve wracking.

Today my daughter seemed out of sorts. She didn’t chat as much, didn’t laugh as easily. By the end of the day she was a wreck. I wonder if she knows, if she can sense my reluctance. I wonder if she’s feeling as ambivalent about this change as I am, even though there is no way she could know of it’s imminent inevitability. My poor baby girl. I know this is going to be hard on her. But I also know it will be harder on me.

I’m in the middle of three loads of laundry. I’m stripping my cloth diapers. I wrote Isa’s schedule down and then I wrote another one for when the first one isn’t applicable. I posted a page for where all the cloth diapers and their trimmings go above the changing table. I went to Old Na.vy and stocked up on 6-12 month long sleeved onsies and warm pants for my little girl. My mom is bringing my lunch to school tomorrow (thanks mom!) and I have my bag packed, with shiny new supplies fresh from Office.Depot. My pump is already in my room, ready for a session tonight and then ready for its first real day on the job. I proof-read my entire 65 page paper and feel confident about turning the rough draft in today. I guess I’m as ready as I’ll ever be to start my new life tomorrow. My new life as a working mom. I don’t really have much choice about whether I get to take the path of the working mom or the stay at home mom, so I hope I don’t mind this path too much. I guess I’ll never know until I take my first step…

And besides, it’s still the path of a mother, and that is all I’ve ever wanted to be. I need to keep reminding myself of how lucky I am to have this be such a difficult day. I truly am blessed to be walking down any path through motherhood, and I am forever grateful.

 

I am trying very hard…

… to hold my shit together but I’m failing miserably. I’m crying constantly, having mini-panic attacks where my heart feels like it will beat out of my chest for 30+ minutes, even feeling frustrated at my darling daughter. I’m super annoyed with breastfeeding, and I’ve failed to let down twice in the last 12 hours, and the one time I did let down, it was pretty measly. I’m supplementing our feedings with a bottle of stored breast milk every other time we eat, which makes me incredibly depressed. If I’m going to feed her a bottle anyway, what is the point in breastfeeding her? My friend reminds me it’s about being with her, bonding, but it doesn’t feel that way right now. Maybe, subconsciously, I’m trying to push Isa away to make Monday easier. Maybe I’m feeling frustrated with breastfeeding to get ready for when I can’t handle pumping at work and have to start giving my daughter formula. Maybe all of this negativity is just my way of getting through this, because otherwise I will go insane.

My grad school paper has been written. It’s not done, but the meat of it is there, on my computer (and backed up by dropbox, don’t worry). My partner is feeling better; today he’s off the couch and back in action, albeit tentatively. My mom is even coming tonight to deep clean my kitchen. I can, and will, be prepared for Monday. And yet, I’m still so stressed out I want to scream.

Two nights ago I had a dream that I was at school. It was lunch and I had to pump but people started flooding into my classroom, all wanting to share a welcome back meal with me. I kept telling them all I needed to pump, they needed to leave, but no one listened. At the end of the lunch period I still hadn’t pumped and I was despondent. I woke up almost laughing at myself. I’m really stressed out about pumping at work, that much is clear as crystal.

I’ve been packing my bag, writing lists of what I need to bring. I can’t pack my pump until late Sunday night, after I’ve used it, and that makes me anxious. I do have my bag ready with pictures of Isa, a brand new expandable file folder for my students’ work, and a few originals I made at home to copy in the morning. I’m trying to decide what blanket I should bring of Isa’s so that I can smell her when I’m pumping. I’ve heard this makes it easier for your milk to let down. It will also be handy to dry the tears.

I think a part of me is still in denial. I cannot believe this day finally came. In September it felt so far away but now it’s here, literally here. Every Sunday since I started maternity leave I thought, I don’t have to go to work tomorrow – isn’t that grand? Not anymore. This Sunday I will think, Holy Shit. I DO have to go to work tomorrow. Well isn’t that shit.

I’m trying to keep it together. Attempting to put on a brave face. While I oscillate between barely achieving those things and failing miserably at them, I know that now matter how much I hate it, I do have to go back to work on Monday. Luckily my partner is being very patient and equally kind. I can tell this is wearing on him, and he doesn’t truly understand why I’m so distraught, but he’s trying hard to be there for me, and he is.

I have about 30 hours until I go to bed on Sunday night, with my alarm set for 6am and all my accoutrements waiting dutifully for me by the door. I hope I can make it that long without totally flipping my lid. We shall see.

This is really hard

I guess I can follow up a thankful post with a woe is me post, right? That’s not horrible form is it? The reality is, I don’t have much else in me right now. (Funnily enough, I just got a comment where someone mentioned laughing at the fact that my Thankful Post was following a Grumpiness Post. Following and followed by I guess… 😉

I also don’t have much time, so this should be brief, very, very brief. (But it’s not)

I just need to acknowledge the intensity of this horrible, horrible week. Because I feel like this might be the hardest week of my life, at least the hardest that doesn’t involve a tragic loss. I know those are harder and I am so thankful that I’m not enduring some kind of heartwrenching loss, but really, I feel like barring some horrible tragedy, this week could not get much worse.

There are three things going on this week that would make it incredibly hard, in and of themselves. I could manage any of them on their own, but together they have wrought a perfect storm. A perfect shit storm,

The first thing is this graduate school project, from this moment on referred to as the Behemoth. The Behemoth really is, well, a behemoth. The bastard is already 40 pages in 10 font, 1.5 spacing. It will probably pass 60 pages by a significant amount. It involves over 72 prompts, the majority of which are vague, poorly worded and confusing. My professor is basically unreachable and never responds to my emails. Working on this inspires an anger and frustrating that I have never felt before. It’s the most difficult thing I’ve been asked to do, professionally, and also the least understandable. It’s incredibly difficult and is requiring 5+ hours a day to finish on time. I feel like every day I retreat a bit further from the front lines and in the end I’ll have fallen back so far, I will have lost all tactical advantage and my cause will be, quite literally, hopeless. Unfortunately, I’ve already messed up quite substantially on three other, smaller assignments, so I have no cushion to fall back on for this one. If I get a subpar grade I will not pass this class.

As if that weren’t enough, I’m also preparing (or should be) for my return to work in five days. Both emotionally and practically, this is a harrowing task. Emotionally there isn’t so much I can actively do, but it’s definitely making it hard to do other things. I’m constantly feeling sad, depressed and despondent. I’m crying at the drop of a hat (or a spontaneous smile from my daughter). Spending the last week at home with my daughter doing all this other shit is really, really, tearing me apart at my very core. On the practical side I have done NOT ONE THING to prepare for my return to work. I have not decided on lesson plans for the first week, let alone made handouts or copies to implement those lesson plans. This year I have five different preps which means I need to think of five separate activities for each day next week. That is 15 different 50 minute activities. I haven’t even scratched the surface of this task yet. Plus, my room has been “lived in” by a stranger for the past trimester and if it looks anything like I did when I visited last month, I have a lot of organizing to do. While I’m just starting the year, my students have been there, evidently suffering, for the past three months and they will be bouncing off the walls when I return. It’s a difficult situation even when I have time to prepare for it, but I literally do not have that time at all. I have my mother watching my daughter most of tomorrow, so I can go to my room and get ready (the kids have tomorrow off) but I now see I’ll have to spend many hours of that tackling the Behemoth so I truly don’t know how I will get anything done. When I think about going back to work I get mini panic attacks; my chest gets tight and I feel bile rising in my throat, threatening to choke me. It’s a horrible feeling and leaves me exhausted in it’s wake.

Finally, I’m sick and caring for a five month old, while trying not to pass on my scourge while still showering her with affection. This cold I have is brutal and I can’t take anything for it because I’m breastfeeding. My husband got it and has taken two days of off work, and is spending them lounging on the couch. I can’t take any days off and I have to power through without much needed rest. It’s difficult.

Today I went to my last City College Mom and Me class. I teared up during the singing section. I teared up when it came my turn to talk. I couldn’t say proper goodbyes because I was already crying.

I cried most of the way home, talking to my mother.

But then I took a nap, nestled warmly with my daughter in my bed. Those naps, the two of us together, side by side, keeping each other warm, have been my favorite thing these past months. It was nice to share one more with her. And I feel rested and recharged. Ready. Ready to finish this post (that I started at 6:30am this morning). Ready to tackle at least three more prompts in the Behemoth. Ready to wake up tomorrow and tentatively turn the key to my classroom, thus making my return to work a reality.

Ah, what a difference a nap makes.

Maybe I can do this after all…

BUENAS NOTICIAS – I ordered a hot apple cider and it’s warming me up inside. The temperature dropped significantly today, it finally feels like winter – just in time for the holidays.

November ICLW – I’m thankful…

Happy November ICLW!

I feel like, because this is November’s ICLW, I should do a quick post on what I’m thankful for. Here goes.

I’m thankful …

… for my beautiful daughter, who is already 5.5 months old.

… for my dedicated partner, who is helping me get through some tough, sleep deprived weeks.

… for the almost six months of “maternity leave” I enjoyed with my baby girl. I might not have gotten paid for it, but it was absolutely worth every minute of it. (Thanks FLMA leave!)

… for all the support I get from my family, and my partner’s family. I literally couldn’t do all this without them.

… that I’m almost done with graduate school. My last assignment is due December 8th. I can manage that, right?

… that my sister-in-law is going to be with Isa when I go back to work in one week. I know my daughter is in capable, loving hands.

… that I have four days to spend with my partner and our families this weekend.

… for therapy tomorrow – I have so much to say about going back to work next week. I need some propping up.

… that I’m getting sick now, before I start back at work, instead of after I’m back and I have to talk to class after class of middle schoolers all day. I’m also thankful that Isa seems to be unaffected (so far).

… that I got to see Harry Potter 7.1 today with my sister. It was really, really good.

… that my daughter went down without crying tonight. I’m sure crying will ensue, but it was nice not to start the night with screaming.

… that Safeway sells breastmilk storage bags. How many trips to the dreaded Babies R Us would that knowledge have saved me!?

… for the raise I’m getting this year. Goodness knows, with all that time off and paying for childcare, we’re going to need it.

… that when I see pregnant women I don’t automatically think of loss anymore.

… for this blog and the community of amazing women it’s brought to me.

… for mindfulness, acceptance and loving-kindess. I don’t incorporate them nearly enough into my life, but they do bring me much peace and understanding.

What, or who, are you thankful for this holiday season?

I’m overwhelmingly effed

Sorry for the woe is me post, but this is where I am right now.

I found out not only did I gravely misinterpret my current grad school project, but I did two of the observations wrong. The form my fellow student sent me was TOTALLY wrong and the one I was supposed to use is (shockingly!) considerably longer and more involved. So now, not only am I redoing the work I turned in last week, but I’m also starting from scratch on the work from the two previous weeks.

F*** ME!

So now I’ve been relegated to the cafe, for pretty much the whole day. I get a whole two hours with my daughter. And sadly I won’t be able to write the awesome Confessional Fridays post I’ve been cooking up in my mind all week.

I’m so upset about so many things.

I’m frustrated I’m stuck in a cafe.

I’m angry I’m doing work.

I’m heartbroken I’m not with my daughter.

I’m annoyed that this music is never going to stop.

I’m disappointed I’m not going to the Academy of Science with my MIL and SIL and daughter, as planned.

I’m despondent that I’m missing the most important tail gate of the year tomorrow. It’s Big Game for christ’s sake!

I’m depressed I’ll be spending most of my last week at home away from my baby girl.

I’m irritated I’ll be spending both Thursday and Friday morning away from my family, doing work.

I’m so infuriated at my grad school professor for making the requirements so unclear.

I’m terrified that I won’t be even the slightest bit ready to return to work in ten days.

I’m feeling disgruntled that I can’t write my Confessional Friday post.

I’m feeling guilty that I’m writing this post instead of my report (or my Confessional Friday post).

And with that, I’d better go. Wish me luck people. I’m going to need it.

BUENAS NOTICIAS – Isa took a 2 hour nap with no crying today. I never thought it could happen, but it has.

Thoughtful Thursdays: Drowning

I have two little placards that hang above my desk (over a Lucha Libre poster, but that is another story). One says, Breathe… The other says, Don’t believe everything you think. Both are important messages for me right now.

Last night I had an online grad school class. I forgot about it, and “showed up” 30 minutes late. We were reviewing (literally reading over in their entirety) the rough drafts of the first part of this big project we’re working on. The second student had hers posted and they were reviewing it. The teacher was going through section by section and giving her notes. It took me about five seconds to realize I had misinterpreted the assignment and had a significant amount of work to do to rectify the situation. (I also realized it was going to be no fun when I had to post my own rough draft). This misinterpretation also extended to the portion that is due this coming Sunday, which meant I needed to find way more time to work on the next part than I originally thought. All of this equals me having a lot more work to do, which also equals me not seeing Isa very much in my last week at home.

And this just breaks me heart. Breaks it. Into a million pieces.

A broken heart so easily distracts a tired, disengaged brain. Hence my writing this post instead of using valuable napping hours (yes, I said it, napping hours!) to work.

I keep thinking, I can’t do this. I can’t possibly finish this in time. I can’t redo what I’ve done, and do everything else coming up in just the little scraps of the day here and there. I can’t find enough people to watch Isa. I can’t plan for FIVE DIFFERENT PREPS for the week after Thanksgiving (and the week after that, and the week after that). I can’t plan to start my school year, undoing a semester with a shitty sub. I can’t be ready to go back to work at all. I can’t stop thinking of my daughter when all I want to do is soak up these last days with her. I CAN’T DO IT.

Then I go back to the placards. Don’t believe everything you think.

And the ever important, Breathe…

The reality is, I can do it, and I will. I know I’ve had more time at home with my daughter than most working moms. I know I’m VERY lucky for what I’ve had. I know this.

But I still want more. I’m greedy. I want to be with her every day, always. It hurst my heart to think of all the hours in the next week I’ll have to say goodbye and not be with her. Especially when the following week I won’t even get to say goodbye. And I’ll only have two hours with her each day when I get home. It’s so hard.

You know what my therapist would say right now, Sometimes life sucks. Sometimes it’s really hard. There’s nothing you can do about it except get it done.

So I guess that’s what I’ll do, get it done. But I’ll be kicking, and screaming, and sulking and crying the whole time.

BUENAS NOTICIAS – I was told I finally got cleared for my raise! I’m getting a $6,000 raise this year, due to my grad school (and some other) credits. Needless to say, with my time off and child care, we REALLY need that money right now.

Ramblings

Just want to start by saying that I voted today via absentee ballot. I LOVE absentee ballots. I cannot imagine standing in a cubby filling all those pages out! It took us like 30 minutes!

As you can imagine, it’s been craziness in San Francisco this week, culminating in absolute madness last night which is spilling over into today. This city is totally enamored of their baseball team even when it’s not that good, so of course right now they are head over heels in love. I’m not really a baseball person but I’ve been swept away by everyone’s enthusiasm. As you might remember, we got rid of our TV on Friday and so Mi.Vida has had to listen to games on the radio (he says baseball is better that way anyway). Last night he was listening in the living room (he brought veggies in there to chop for dinner – it was so cute!) and I was feeding Isa on my bed. Suddenly there was shouting, whistles and elated cries from every house on the street. Fireworks blossomed over head and helicopters took to the skies. Laying there, next to my daughter in my darkened room I thought, the Giants just won the World Series. I know a LOT of people who will be VERY happy about that. Mi.Vida plans on taking Isa to games when she is older – it will be fun to tell her the Giants won the year she was born.

My graduate school work is really ramping up. This is my last class and I have so very much to do. I finally finished my portfolio and plan on sending it off tomorrow morning. I’m very anxious to see if it will be excepted or not. If it is, all I have to do is get a B in my last class and I will be done with grad school. I’m not actually worried about getting a B in this class, I’m sure I can pull that off, but I don’t look forward to the work ahead of me. I’d much rather just hang out with my daughter and enjoy these final weeks at home with her, lazily hanging out. Oh course that is not in the cards and I need to accept that. I don’t know what I’ll do when I’m finally done, it’s just too tantalizing a thought.

In at attempt to get my grad school work done without exhausting all my very gracious free child care providers, Mi.Vida and I are starting a morning routine that will get us (read: him) ready for my return to work. I am a teacher and I commute 30 – 45 minutes south to my school. Because the school day starts so early and because traffic gets bad after 7am I leave for work really early, around 6:45am. I’ve been waking up with my daughter at around 8am for the past four months and I need to get back on a work schedule again. I also won’t be here when Isa wakes up so Mi.Vida has to get used to being the alone with Isa every morning and still getting ready for work. So this month I’m waking up at 7am and leaving for a cafe for about an hour. I’ll be coming back around 8:30am, about the time we plan on having SIL come to start watching Isa. Hopefully, this way, if there are any problems we can work them out before I’m unreachable in the mornings, already on my way to work.

As far as work is concerned, I’m feeling better about going back. I’m starting to think about my classes (I have three new classes this year that I’ve never taught before) and I’ve ordered some materials to look over and hopefully use when I go back. I’ve been (and will be) on campus a lot this week and in the coming two weeks for my grad school class and I think that will help ease me into the idea of being there full time again. While I’m sad to miss so much of my daughter’s life, I look forward to teaching again and helping my students succeed during the difficult middle school years. I wonder if I will see as many similarities between a five month old and 11-13 year olds as I expect I will…

To wrap this up, things at home are okay. There has been a big improvement between Mi.Vida and I now that we’re getting more and better sleep. While we’re still tired and frustrated sometimes, mostly about the state of our house, we’re learning how to live this life and make it work. We still have a lot of work to do on the apartment, to make it more livable for both of us, but we’re approaching that with patience. Hopefully we’ll be able to make some big changes that will help us find comfort and peace at home, despite all the encroaching baby accoutrements. In the meantime, we’re trying to be accepting of the way things are while realizing that tomorrow everything might change!

I will leave you all today with a picture of Isa and I reading blogs (well I’m reading them, Isa is snoozing!)

BUENAS NOTICIAS – Our TV came today. It’s amazing – the screen is huge, the picture is super bright and clear and, most importantly, it takes up almost no space in our tiny living room!