A Day in the Life: Maternity Leave, Part 1

I wanted to record and share what my life is like now, minute to minute, so I decided to write a “Day in the Life” post. But I soon realized that what I’ve read in this genre all seems to be either horrible or wonderful. Like, “Look how amazing my life is!” or “Look what a victim I am!” I didn’t want to fall into either trap, so I decided to jump into them both. My time at home with Cogan has not been exactly perfect, or terrible, and to reflect that reality I’ve written two posts, one for a really, really bad day, and one for a great day. The truth is somewhere between them, of course.

So here’s the edited, facebook version of my life right now, in my baby’s third month. Tomorrow, I’ll post the day from hell.

I wake up at 1 AM for Cogan’s first feeding of the night. I carry him to the den and settle in, propping him on the Boppy pillow and opening my Kindle. He nurses for 13 minutes, then I change him and try to burp him. He’s pretty hard to burp, so I give up after a while and work on putting him back to sleep instead. His eyes close pretty easily, and I carry him back to the swing, setting him down oh-so-carefully. I’m back in bed by 1:35. He wakes up again at 4 for more milk, and I repeat the drill.

Cogan’s stirring. I look at the clock and it’s 6:30, time for a feeding, so I get up and bring him to the other room. David’s up and on the computer. He says he slept ok, then goes to take his shower while I nurse Cogan. When I pull up my shirt his eyes get wide because he knows what’s coming. He opens his mouth eagerly, like a little bird. It’s a short feeding, and when I’m done I go back to the bedroom to change the baby and find David resting on the bed in his towel looking at his phone. I join him and the three of us touch and smell each other awhile, David’s clean soapy smell, and Cogan’s milk breath. After three minutes David has to get dressed and I bring Cogan to the changing table. David rushes out while I’m headed to the kitchen and I remind him to grab his lunch.

Cogan August 004

With Cogan balanced on one hip, I pour my cereal and walk it to my computer desk. Then I make another trip to get the milk and bring it to my desk too. (I’ve gotten used to accomplishing little tasks like this one-handed.) We have the play gym set up on the guest bed next to my desk, and I lie Cogan down under the dangling toys and turn on the music box that flashes lights. While I eat and check facebook, he coos at the lights, kicking his little feet with delight. He’s usually in a good mood at this time of the morning. He’s just learning to make a greater variety of sounds, so I hear a bunch of hoarse vowels coming from his wide open mouth: ah, oh, ow, eh, oo. It’s like he’s singing.

Cogan August 011

Because I have read so many things about how important it is for language development for babies to hear adults talk to them, I usually try to talk to Cogan all day long, about whatever I’m doing, or random stuff, trying not to feel ridiculous about it, and using a normal voice instead of a babytalk voice. Between bites of cereal I share the news about what our friends are up to on facebook and tell him how much I love hearing his adorable little happy sounds. While he’s satisfied, I put away the milk, then wash my face and take my pills and change out of my pajamas.

He’s starting to make some discontented squawks, so I pick him up and bring him to bed for a little cuddle-fest. I lay on my side and hold him like he’s one of the baby dolls I used to sleep with. He squirms to show he’s not crazy about that position, so I lie him on my chest for some tummy time, hugging his little body while his arms dangle over my sides and he works to lift his head. When he gets sick of that, I lift him up like I’m bench pressing him. He seems to love the feeling of flying. His mouth opens in a wide smile. I set him on my shins and bounce him with his head between my knees. Next, I sit him on my belly, allowing him to balance with only my thumbs caught in his strong fists. Then I lean over him and brush my hair over his face. I stroke his cheek, and his mouth captures my knuckle, while his arms wrap around my hand to keep it there.

Cuddling is fun, but we do eventually need a break. I sit him on my lap as I read more articles on the computer. After a while he gets annoyed again, and I check the time. It’s been over an hour since he woke up, so he might be tired. I pace the house with him, and it quiets him down, but he still fusses if I stop walking. So I swaddle him and put him down in his crib. He cries, so I pick him up. He gets quiet, so I put him down. Repeat about three times, and then he’s out.

Cogan August 001

During his nap, I finish putting today’s crockpot together. It’s a stew I call chicken taco. Then I toss in some laundry and consider running the vacuum, but decide I don’t have time and wipe down the counters instead. Cogan’s naps are usually 30-40 minutes, so I’m just barely able to do those little chores before he’s up and crying for me.

It’s 9:30 now, and there’s just enough time for me to nurse him before we go to the baby program at the library. It’s a little early for his feeding, but I don’t want to nurse him there, so I feed him a little bit now. I load him into the stroller and walk the three blocks to the library. Cogan sits on my lap and watches Mr. Andrew the librarian and the older kids while I talk to the other moms about how adorable our children are and the new things they’re learning to do.

After we walk home, I put him in his rocker and play one of his favorite games with him. I’m doing the 30 day squat challenge, and I do it right in front of him while he watches me in his rocker. I count out loud and smile at him and touch his feet or hand as I go down for each squat. He smiles and goos and coos and kicks his legs like it’s the most entertaining thing he’s ever seen. His eyelashes are so long he always looks like he’s flirting and when he looks to the side I think his eyes look like a Kewpie doll’s. Once I finish my exercise, it’s time for another nap. This time he lies quiet in his crib with his pacifier, but his eyes are wide open. I rock him from side to side, adding my “shh” to the white noise I have playing for him. It seems like he’s sleeping after 10 minutes of this, but he cries for me again after I leave, so I continue for another five minutes, and his sleep is real this time.

While he sleeps I eat yogurt and an apple, switch the laundry, mess with a photo project online and write a quick update in my journal.  After he wakes up this time, I feed him immediately. After only 7 minutes, I sit him up and burp him on my lap, watching his little feet dangle on my leg.

Next, I fold the laundry while he looks on from the rocker. If he’s in a good mood, he doesn’t mind if I don’t hold him as long as he can see me. I inform him that it’s his fault I’m doing laundry instead of holding him anyway because he’s the one who spit up all over these clothes.

After the laundry is done, I sit down and talk to him in his rocker. He’s making these gurgling goos in the back of his throat and sticking out his tongue and blowing spit bubbles and smiling as big as his little mouth can. I imitate his faces and sounds and encourage him to keep it up. When he kicks his legs, he can make the rocker rock by himself.

Cogan September 2013 005

I carry him to the other room so I can read the Animal Alphabet book to him, then “On the Night You Were Born,” then “I Love You More.” He sits quietly on my lap and looks toward the book, even reaching out to touch the pages every once in a while. He loses interest before I can finish the third book, though, and starts to make jerking motions with his body. So we pace the house some more, and go outside and pace the yard while I rest my cheek on his velvet scalp and watch the clock. I hold him on one side of me as he hooks his arm around my shoulder and looks around at the leaves and bushes.

Soon it’s been an hour and 25 minutes since he woke up last. I swaddle him and turn on the white noise and put in his pacifier. He’s out in less than a minute. It makes me feel like the greatest parent of all time. I have graham crackers and milk as a reward.

When he wakes up next, he’s clingy, in a sweet, groggy way, pressing his little body to my side, and he won’t let me put him down. It’s 4:30 and I’m getting anxious for David to come home because my arms are getting tired and he usually takes over baby care from me in the evenings.

When David finally arrives at 5, I’ve handed him the baby before he gets three steps in the door. He asks about our day and I follow him to the changing table, where he changes a sopped diaper. Then I feed Cogan while David starts some rice and changes out of his work clothes. When I’m done nursing, I hand the baby to David to burp, and go take a shower. Then I retreat to my computer to read an article or two, while David plays with Cogan for a few minutes, then puts him to sleep.

Cogan August 003

We normally watch one of our favorite shows over dinner–Breaking Bad, True Blood, Dexter, Parks and Rec. Today it’s True Blood. After about 50 minutes, our show is over, and Cogan is still sleeping. David and I stay on the couch, talking while he drapes his arm around my shoulders and I lean into his side. He tells me about a couple big deals he has in the pipeline at work, and I tell him about Cogan’s happy sounds, how his hands seem bigger to me, how I think I can see in his face the way he’ll look as a toddler. David kisses me, but Cogan wakes up before things get too interesting.

The baby is being so insanely adorable we just have to film him for a minute on David’s iphone. Then David gives him a bath while I write a blog post. I can hear my husband singing silly songs he makes up on the spot. They’re mostly about Cogan’s poopy diapers or how he needs to go to sleep.

Cogan goes to sleep at 9:30 after a feeding. There’s just time for me to wash my face and brush my teeth before going to bed myself. David stays up a little longer because he doesn’t do the night feedings (no breasts) and because he wants some time to himself to play video games.


6 thoughts on “A Day in the Life: Maternity Leave, Part 1

  1. Pingback: A Day in the Life: Maternity Leave, Part 2 | MeReader

  2. Pingback: MeReader: Year Two in Review | MeReader

  3. Pingback: All Joy and No Fun | MeReader

  4. Pingback: A Day in the Life: 16 months | MeReader

  5. Pingback: What We Talk About When We Talk About Our Daily Lives | MeReader

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s