Nobody said it would be easy, and everybody was right.
As of yesterday, my family has survived my first three full weeks back at work. I use the term "survived" loosely here, mind you. Here is just a quick smattering of the challenges we lived through these past three weeks.
1. Worst, most revolting stomach flu ever. This evil virus took me out on my SECOND day at the office and caused me to miss one and half days of work during my first week. Embarrassing yes, but luckily (?) I was too busy dying to care very much. Just as I pulled myself up out of bed and dragged myself back to the office, Crown went down. Typical. Somehow, amazingly, incredibly, unbelievably, Bella managed NOT to catch it. Thank you Karma, what did I do to deserve you?
2. Fatigue the likes of which I have not known since the earliest days after giving birth. These last three weeks have passed me by in a hazy fog of exhaustion. I suspect I will feel like this for the rest of my life. Super.
3. Ground Hog Day, the movie. I get it now. I've been up by 7 a.m. at the latest every day during the week and back in bed by 10 p.m. latest. Whatever happens in between those two times of day is a blur. I think that I wake up, shower, dress myself, dress and feed the baby, somehow get her to daycare, and then suddenly I'm home in the evening just in time to feed her again and then undress her and put her back to bed. Sometimes I get confused and I'm like, "Wait a second, are you getting up or going down? Didn't I just do this?"
4. Thank God for my office, it's the only place I get to sit down. No seriously. I never sit down at home. Unless I'm going to bed and that doesn't count. That's lying down. Most evenings I literally do not stop and enjoy a still moment for myself until at least an hour after Bella goes to bed. I move straight from my commute to prepping and feeding her dinner, into bath time, into cleaning up after her dinner, into bottle and bed routine, into tidying up after her, into prepping my stuff and hers for the next day, into laundry, into finally eating my own dinner, into cleaning up after my own dinner, into letting the dog out, into - at last - sitting for moment. Only to realize that it's nearly 10 p.m. and if I don't get into bed I'll never be able to wake up tomorrow. Rinse and repeat.
5. Teething and sniffles and coughs, oh my! That's right, she avoided the stomach flu that ravaged her father and I, but that doesn't mean she got off easy. Poor kid managed to pick up another cold, this one slightly less snotty than the last but with a savage cough that caused her to vomit on me a few times, including one early morning edition that necessitated last-minute outfit changes for both of us. She's also managed to cut two teeth and is working on at least three more, which we all know makes for a tired, itchy, fiery-cheeked baby with some major 'tude.
The saving grace of all this? Bella loves her daycare and comes home tired but happy. She's already learning so much from her teachers and the other babies. She's signing a lot and becoming a little more vocal and lot more feisty. It's like a litter of puppies in that infant room -- you learn to fight for your food and attention or you get left behind by the pack.
As for her father and I? Well. We're learning to fight for our food, too. It's just the way it's got to be for now. I took Family Day off (my company doesn't allow us the holiday, but our daycare was closed) and it's proved to me how much easier life would be for us if one of us had a four-day work week. We really need that one extra day to get errands and chores out of the way. Just one day a week would mean the difference between chaos and calm for my family. It would open up at least one day during the weekend for relaxing and spend time together. It's something to look into for the future, but for now I'm busy chasin' that paper. A few solid pay cheques are going to be really sweet after six months of basically nada.
The fact is that despite all of the bumps in the road, we have survived. I'm enjoying my work, Bella is enjoying her daycare, even Crown is feeling a little less stressed at the office. Though there are moments when I want to throw in the towel, there are many more where I feel proud of myself and my little family for pulling it off together.