Back in New Yak

We’ve been back in NYC for about 3 weeks. It has been like going back to an easier but still familiar life. I can’t believe how much leisure time I had in my day before COVID. Even sitting down to do some writing…I can make a cup of coffee, organize my workspace, turn off my email and just write. Without having a full third of my brain elsewhere or knocking (which progresses into crying) outside of my door.

The transition has been okay for MG. The first week was pure unhappiness when she was at school, and we’re down to about 30 minutes of unhappiness when we drop her off and then mostly happy all day. And miraculously at school, she sleeps for 60-90 minutes longer than at home so her mood is so good. And when I pick her up, she’s so chatty and happy. She’s sleeping more, eating more, drinking more milk from a cup. I feel the decision to bring her back was right.

The guilt around my parents is slowly easing as this becomes the new normal for us and for then. We have been doing outside visits which are nice and I’m willing to see how it goes for now.

 

COVID Update 6521

Just a random number to reflect how many years it feels like we have been in quarantine. Daycare closed so we were staying in a friend’s cabin to quarantine which burned down*. We went back to our apartment, then back to a new place to quarantine with my sister who graciously decided to come to help with child care. Hopefully this apartment will not burn down and on May 2nd, we will start a new plan to live at my in-laws during the week and my parents during the weekends.

Life has been strangely okay. What is harder is thinking about daycare reopening, work starting to expect more of us working parents, and then having to choose between seeing my parents and going to daycare. That seems like an awful situation to me…but maybe things will work out in a better or different way. I am also sure we have already had CV because of a fever bug we had in February or have been asymptotic carriers because MANY people in my building had it and a few were hospitalized. So it would be nice to get a test and know we are unlikely to infect our grandparents.

Life has a weird repetitive nature. I mostly don’t think too much about the future or even the next week. To me, it has been reduced to watching the baby from before I want to until 11 or so, 4-5 hours of work, a short workout, bedtime routine, and then some leisure/TV watching/food prep for the next day, etc.

MG has become soooo chatty. She can say: up, down, ball, book, baby, Mama, Dada, Nana, Moon, Doggy, Mou (for cat), birdie, done, more (she says mo, like a southern bell), yeah, and probably others I’m forgetting. Oh yes, no. If you offer her anything, the response is now no. No! NO!

*true story but I mostly try to not think about it.

Happy Birthday MG!

And just like that, she’s one! It’s hard to imagine, she came out (finally) and was just a hardly alive, reddish, plump of a baby. She’d cry hysterically every time we changed her diaper (what, like 12 times a day), every time we changed her clothes, in the ten seconds between wanting milk and becoming starving. Then she became more awake, and opened her eyes more and more. She’d stare at you and she’d stare at the ceiling fan. She’d make little baby coos and always had the hiccups. She woke up, more and more, until she’d follow you with her eyes around the room while she layed on the mat. She learned to roll over, and would cry helpless on her tummy, until you flipped her back. (She did not learn to roll back until months later). She started eating purees and loved them. She’d smack her lips around the tiny spoon, delighted by flavor. She sat in her baby bouncer on top of the dining table while we ate breakfast. While napping, she’d stick her limbs right out of the crib slats. When it was too hot, her body would get heat rash and we’d have to stay inside, where there was air conditioning. I went back to work and Steve became the stay-at-home parent. He helped her learn how to sleep on her own and took her to the swings and Noguchi museum almost every day. She started sitting up, first with help, and later on her own, climbing up from tummy, to hands and knees, to falling back into a seat. When she was awake from her nap, we’d find her in the crib sitting up and playing with her baby panda. Sitting up, she loved to be brought toys and play with them. Stacking rings, colorful shakers, books, and blocks. She’d windshield wiper her legs like a powerful tugboat generating endless splash in the bath which delighted her. From sitting, she went to rocking on her hands and knees, for over a month, before she learned to crawl. Steve went back to work and she went to daycare where she met the wonderful Waafa and Hoda. She got to paint, play with mud (pudding), feed Mr. Doggy, and play the drum. When she left, they’d sing, “bye bye MG / bye bye MG / bye bye MG / we’ll see you again next time.” Then crawling, off she’d go, panting like a dog. She learned where her toy bookshelf was and would crawl over there to plead for you to read her a book. I’d read Sandra Boyton books and Steve would read Brown Bear, Brown Bear and act out all of the animal noises. She started eating finger foods and we had family mealtimes where she sat at a real high-chair at the table. She loved kiwi, bambas, red lentil soup, all Indian food, and yogurt. She started crawling fast and pulling up to stand and would throw all of her toys off the bookshelf. She learned to bring you the books she wanted you to read her. She learned the layout of the apartment and would crawl around looking for you. She made babbles – starting with mamama and dadada and moving to harsh sounds like bap! and dadun. Sometimes she’d zone out and when she came back she’d hiss at you like a witch: haaaaa. She started to recognize people – her Shani Masi who came for a visit on most Sunday nights. Her Nani and Nanoo who watched her for a full weekend when she was 11-months old and who loved it as much as she did. She loved skyping with her Nana and Nono and Divy Masi. She started standing with more confidence and – one day – took one shaky step. One or two shaky steps. One or two or three shaky steps. She loved to take things out of containers and put them back in – her barrets, her dominos, Steve’s protein shake ingredients. She loved to cuddle the big panda and her baby panda. She is our baby girl – a whole year old! Happy Birthday MG!

A Weekend Away

And after 11 months, God said rest. Friday, we sent the baby to daycare and played hooky at the Korean spa. I got a scrub and R ate (two) chocolate chip cookies. We napped, and rolled around, and went into hot tubs, and had coffee. It was very, very nice.

Saturday, we took the train to CT with my sister. We had a four-seater with two seats facing two-seats and MG had a blast rolling all around and looking out the window. Then, we got to CT and…left the baby there with my parents! We took the train further to a college town and spent the weekend walking around, browsing in bookstores, and drinking a lot of coffee while my parents watched the baby. For two nights! And everyone had a great time. The baby enjoyed, my parents really enjoyed, and R and I definitely enjoyed.

The baby was a little angry when we came out. I picked her up and she started babbling in noises I hadn’t really heard before with an angry tone. And she pushed my Mom away when she came near. But after 20 minutes or so she was fine, and she was totally normal with our usual routine when we brought her home.

It’s such a relief to have a kid old enough that she’s a bit adaptable. And, life without the baby was so…easy. But not like, oh great, this is easy. Like, my life should have a little more challenge to be meaningful. I thought that was interesting — baby-level life is now regular, and pre-baby life is now too easy and sort of boring. Maybe this means it is indeed time to think about having another baby. I could definitely imagine myself looking back and saying one baby is too easy and sort of boring.

Looking forward to a New Year

One week in, I feel like I am ready to start the New Year. Normally, I do a deep dive into how I want my year to look. This year, my kiddo will turn one (jeez, time flies), and…we might try to have a second baby???

So how do I want my year to look:

– simple. I’d like to not be engaged in non-necessary and non-restorative labor. I don’t want to go to social events I don’t like. I don’t want to buy anything that I’ll have to maintain. I want to cut out whatever I can to emphasize time and not stuff.

– healthy. We have definitely been on the winter-daycare-always-sick-treadmill. It’s been very, very hard. I’d like to eat well, continue to exercise, and do whatever I can to nourish my body healthfully.

– politically engaged. We volunteer through postcards to voters which is perfect for us because we can do it at home whenever we have time. I’d love to set an ambitious goal for the 2020 elections and crush Republicans out of office.

– fun. I had such a tiny baby this year and she is on the cusp of toddlerhood. I want to spend time just enjoying her, playing with her, and having a lot of fun as a family. I also want to keep strengthening our non-family relationships so we have a world outside the baby.

 

Life Update

I have been wanting to write for a long time, but haven’t prioritized it. Life has been good. R and I are both back at work but it has been better than I thought it would be. I have become a drop-off pro, greatly facilitated by the fact that I work from home three days a week. MG is insanely cute, crawling around like a maniac and with very clear preferences. The whole world is her oyster.

I’ve been thinking a bit about the holidays and new traditions. I have a real aversion to traveling anywhere with MG. I firmly think travel is not for the baby, but for the parents (though in our case, mostly an obligation). Babies I think, at least our baby, really like sleeping in their own crib, being the masters of their own place, and spending a lot of time with people they like and know. With Thanksgiving coming up, I am very, very tempted to just bail and do what we want instead. There is something interesting to me about how grandparents (who are retired) get to be visited instead of visit, while working people with families have to cram that into already limited time off. Wow, how crotchety do I sound? I guess I have a sense that it’s not worth spending free time out of obligation. I’ve been very into the simpler life – a life where a good Saturday is making a delicious soup and eating it with bread and friends and taking a walk and watching The Americans while the baby naps. That to me, right now, is much more nourishing that going to check out the new MoMA or taking the train anywhere.

A Big Month

Tomorrow starts October. A month where my partner turns 40 and has his last month of parental leave, MG starts daycare, and its Halloween and Diwali, back to back. It’s making me feel very pre-nostalgic. Fall is a very fresh start, back-to-school sense for me, but it increasingly makes me think of growing old and dying. Or, just dying. Who knows when? I often wear an extremely comfortable, enormous t-shirt to bed that says “this body will be a corpse.” It’s morbid but true (and no, I did not buy this shirt — it was given to me from a meditation center that was closing). I feel like MG is so fun and so much of a kid right now — like has clear thoughts and preferences, and you can actually communicate with her. At the same time, she’s such a cuddly, squishy, loving and loveable baby. I wish I could sort of pause this era of my life. I would not have said this even a month or two ago, but it makes me look forward to having another baby.

Often I try to commit to monthly goals, but this month, I want to just try embracing the messiness lovingly and mindfully. So I commit to loving presence and daily meditation practice, and lots of grace for myself and for others.

 

 

 

Newborn Essentials

I remember when I was pregnant, R and I got into an argument with my parents around how we didn’t want to buy that much baby stuff. Their side of the argument, “babies need a lot of stuff!!!!” I still disagree. This is a list of what we found to be the only essential items:

– a place for the baby to sleep. I would highly, highly recommend a baby box. We used the “SnuggleNest.” A box means you can have the baby fall asleep anywhere while still having the baby feel like it’s in a familiar place. Plus, later on you can put the box inside the crib and the adjustment goes super well.

– silicone bottles. We used comotomo brand which I liked a lot because the silicone and the wide mouth meant you don’t need a bottle brush to wash them out.

– diapers. Goes without saying.

– warm clothes. Babies run cold, or at least our baby did. It was not unusual for her to sleep in an inside onesie, a wool sweater vest (handknit by grandma), footed PJs, and a hat.

– blankets to swaddle with. We used regular receiving blankets and didn’t buy swaddlers.

– a baby bathtub. Our kiddo legit cried every time we bathed her, which we did every day! But in a few weeks, she started associating bath time with bed time which is still the case. The one time in her entire life we skipped the bath, she would. not. go. to. sleep.

– a white noise machine, though we used our phones for the first few months.

– burp cloths. Get more than you think you need. Once you are out, time to do laundry!

– a mode of transportation for the baby (wrap, car seat, etc.). This one is highly variable based on your situation. We did a mix of wraps (the ktan), car seat in car (the maxi cosi mico 30…insane name for a car seat if you ask me), and car seat attachment with stroller).

– and for mom: massages, post-partum pies (and really unlimited food), and at least a night bottle of formula administered by someone else so she can get some sleep).

 

Overlap Week

It is overlap week! The one week where R and I overlap our parental leaves. We had thought we’d need a week to transition MG, but she hit a really good napping pattern last week and it seems like anybody (aka at least R and I) can now put her down for a nap. What caused this do you ask? Why, after a month or so of rolling to her belly and then crying during sleep, she’s decided it is much preferable to sleep on her belly. Therefore, she refuses to roll onto her belly herself and when you roll her, she instantly goes to sleep…babies!

So far, overlap week has mostly been fun. We’re being productive beasts — scheduling a house cleaning, donating a bunch of stuff. We’re also trying to schedule fun things every day — blogging, watching Stranger Things, hopefully a few beach trips. MG has been getting pretty bad heat rash so we mostly stay inside the house.

And next week, I go back to work. Part-time for a month and then full-time…I’m sort of nervous about going back (and honestly, slightly resentful that I had the “hard” part of the leave bc MG is now so fun and so playful and takes lots of long naps every day!) but I think it will be good for me. And it will be good for R and MG to hang out together more too.

A pattern I’ve noticed — married couples without kids come to visit. The man leaves wanting a baby, while the woman leaves having decided she’ll postpone babies for at least a few more years.

Life Update

I haven’t written in a while. Life feels sort of like I’m on a hamster wheel, but my companion becomes a more efficient babbler every day. In four weeks I go back to work, so it’s been a bit easier for me to enjoy my time off and see the silver lining in being home because I know my time left is finite. But still, man oh man, do I think I’m better off as the working parent rather than the stay-at-home parent. For a month, I’ll be working 3.5 days a week, and then I’ll be back full-time after labor day. R will be off until November.

Friends of ours came into town and we were talking about what it’s like to have a baby. R was like it’s about 10% harder every day. I said it’s about 30% harder every day. I’ll be very curious to revisit the conversation after he’s on leave for a while and I’m back at work.