Gradual entry into daycare – Days 3 to 5

Day 2 of gradual entry into daycare was rough.  Here’s how the rest of the week went:

Day 3

After a tearful day 2, I had a little chat with a friend who had already gone through the process.  She gave me some advice, “Don’t doddle.  Make goodbyes short and sweet.  Just like ripping off a bandaid.”  I did just this at drop off on day 3.  I handed my daughter over to the teacher, said, “goodbye, I love you” and walked away.  She started crying immediately, but I kept on walking.  Unlike day 2, I was free to leave the facilities since they already had all our completed paperwork.  The plan was for my daughter to be there alone for 3.5 hours.

I actually got a lot done during those hours away from my daughter.  I didn’t want to stray too far from the daycare, so I went to the mall, not just to wander around aimlessly for I had missions to complete.  Shopping trips these days now involve looking for stuff for baby or other people’s babies.  The first mission was to find non-slip shoes for daycare.  Why is it so hard to find shoes for babies?  And why do they need them anyway if they don’t walk?  The second mission was to find a gift for a kid’s birthday party we’re attending this weekend.  And the last mission was to find new work clothes.  But why do I need new work clothes anyway?  Is it so bad to wear the same clothes if you still fit them and there’s nothing wrong with them?  But I digress.  Aside from the last mission, the trip to the mall was a success.  Shoes and pjs for baby check.  Present for kid’s party check.  I even had time to get some grocery shopping done and made some phone calls and lunch dates with my supervisor and work colleagues.

I called the daycare about an hour and a half after I left her.  They said that she was crying on and off and didn’t eat much at breakfast (maybe due to discomfort from bowel movements).  When I called she was napping.  Apparently, she went down easily.  I guess my sleep training helped.  When I returned, the kids were being served lunch.  I could hear my daughter crying and complaining as I walked toward the classroom.  She was in a highchair, not wanting to eat anymore having already eaten quite a bit, according to the teacher.  When she saw me, she cried and immediately wanted out of the highchair to be in my arms.  The teacher assured me that the crying was normal and that she’d seen worse.  Apparently they’d previously had a child that cried non-stop for 6 months.  Yikes!   After a few tears and cuddles, my daughter was herself again, smiling and waving goodbye to everyone.

As I left the daycare, a few things crossed my mind:

  1. I thought how much trust you have to put into complete strangers when you leave your child with them.  Did she really just cry on and off or did she cry the entire time?  Did she really eat?  I guess I just have to take their word for it.
  2. Did I not do enough to prep her for this transition?  Is she naturally more clingy or did I make her that way?  Did I not take her out enough to socialize with other people and babies?  Was mother goose, story time and swimming once a week not enough?
  3. I hope that she will never forget that….

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Day 4

My husband dropped baby off on his way to work so that I wouldn’t have to drive back and forth 4 times.  She was to be there from 9am to 2:30pm.  Since my husband dropped her off, I didn’t have to rush to get ready and was able to squeeze in some cuddles in bed with baby before they left.  With my morning free, I was able to spend some quality time with my fur baby.  🙂

13124769_10153395200771571_6057103143554230598_nWhen I called to check in, they said she again cried on and off after daddy dropped her off, but she enjoyed the cream of wheat breakfast and had a long morning nap.  She did much better in the afternoon after eating a bit of lasagna for lunch and drinking some milk.  She was actually playing quietly on her own they said.  Even after hearing this, I was anxious.  My tummy was uneasy like I was about to poop my pants.  This was the feeling I got before I left the house to go pick her up.  What would I find?

I was 30 minutes early.  To my shock, when I walked into the building, it was quiet.  As I walked toward her classroom, I was not greeted with sounds of her cries.  Could there be light at the end of the tunnel?  She was, as they said, playing on the ground by herself.  She was fine.  Fine, until she saw me.  The moment she saw me, she started to cry.  She wanted me.  She cried and screamed hysterically on the car ride all the way home.  I forgot to bring snacks to make the ride more enjoyable.  She normally doesn’t like being strapped in and me not being next to her after a long day apart made the ride even worse.  Not even my tone deaf singing was able to calm her down.  She just wanted to be held.

Day 5

Day 5 of gradual entry was to be the longest.  She was to be there from 9am to 4pm.  She was not happy to get into the car seat in the morning.  Did she know where we were going?  Unlike yesterday, singing helped.  I cycled between wheels on the bus, twinkle twinkle little star, itsy bitsy spider, slippery fish and you are my sunshine over and over again.

Before I left her in the classroom, I saw that sad little girl from day 1.  She was upset again, so I smiled, said hi and asked her how she was doing.  She said quietly, “miss daddy”.  🙁

Once again, baby cried when I said goodbye and walked away.  Funny enough as she was crying, she was also waving bye bye to me at the same time.  Silly girl.  I guess that’s an improvement.

I waited until after lunch to call to check up on her.  Boy did the time pass slowly.  Every time I looked at the clock, only 30 minutes had passed.  It is so weird being home without her.  So quiet.  I had to keep myself busy cleaning and getting ready for my return to work.  I packed up some baby things we no longer needed (breast pump, clothes and toys she’s outgrown) and did some re-organizing of my closet.

When I called, they told me that she was crying on and off more today than the other day.  She had an hour nap in the morning and didn’t eat much lunch (none of the kids did apparently because lunch was egg sandwich).  She wasn’t even happy to play in the sandbox, which she usually likes to do.  Why was she extra upset today?  Was it because I had dropped her off instead of dad?  Like the day before, she was much better in the afternoon.  She had some one on one time with the teacher while the other kids were napping and they had a pretend tea party.  When I picked her up, she had just woken up from a long afternoon nap.  I guess it’s a good thing that she comfortable enough to able to sleep there.

So, that’s was the last day of gradual entry.  The week was full of ups and downs.  Baby still cries on and off while there by herself.  It’s not like she never cries at home.  So why am I so hung up on the fact that she cries on and off at daycare?  I guess it will take some time for her to adjust.  Hopefully, not 6 months.

Ready or not, I go back to work next week and she will be doing full days in daycare.  Wish us luck!

Motherhood – things I didn’t expect

For the last post in of our Mother’s Day series, we wanted to share what we learned from becoming moms.  What I learned I did not learn from those “what to expect when you’re expecting” books.  What I learned can be taken from an episode of reality TV.  Plan all you want, but as Julie Chen would say, “expect the unexpected”.  The control freak in me had planned to have my baby delivered at the hospital by an ob.  What ended up happening was a home birth with a midwife.  Go figure.

On a deeper level, I did not expect to be so in awe and enamoured with my daughter each and every day since she was born.  I did not expect the all consuming love I feel for her and the bond we share which began before we even met.  I did not expect to put the needs of this tiny human above and beyond those of my own.  Some may call this sacrifice.  I don’t think that is the right word for it.  It’s just what you do when you become a parent.  You make sure baby is fed, clean, safe and happy before you take care of yourself.  If that means you have to wait a couple of hours before you can grab a bite to eat or go to the washroom to do your business, so be it.  If making baby happy involves holding her and pacing back and forth until she fell asleep, that’s what I did.  Things you have to do as a parent… Growing up, when I was at odds with my mom, she would always say to me, “wait until you have kids, then you will understand…”.  Although I’ve only gotten a small glimpse of what it means to be a mother, I understand now.  Mom, you were right.

Lastly,  I did not expect that the birth of my daughter would change the way I view myself and my life.  Let me explain.  My grandmother once told me a long time ago, when I was young that I would have to work really hard, but I would do great things.  Kinda vague, I know,  but I believed her.   I don’t remember how she came to this conclusion, whether it was through reading the lines on my palm or how the stars were aligned when I was born, but this prediction of hers has stuck with me all these years.  If only I was able to fulfill her prediction.  I have always struggled with knowing who I am and what I’m meant to do in life.  I’ve never felt like I’ve lived up to my potential.  Or maybe I’ve never felt like I’ve lived up to others’ expectations of me.  I didn’t become a doctor.  Not sure I really wanted to be one, but I fell pretty short of that.  I’ve done career assessments and counselling and gone on a “soul searching” trip to try to figure out what I wanted to do.   Career counselling told me I was already doing what I should be doing or otherwise go into accounting.  My little trip to “find myself” only resulted in me getting a tan and feeling even more lost.  I am starting to think that maybe my greatest achievement ever is becoming a mom.  And if that is the case, maybe I am okay with that.  Maybe I could be happy with just being the best mom I can be for her…

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My gift.

Gradual entry into daycare – Day 2

Day 2 of gradual entry into daycare started out better than day 1.  Once again, I pressed the snooze button when the alarm went off, but baby woke us up so we didn’t sleep in like the day before.  We had, so I thought, enough time to eat breakfast since the daycare told us to come later.  Even with the extra time, we still left the house 20 minutes later than my husband had suggested.  Rush, rush, rush.  Is this how it’s going to be when I go back to work?  Traffic was good and I would’ve made it on time if it didn’t take 5 minutes for me to park.  And I wasn’t even parallel parking!  Shows how inexperienced of a driver I am, but that’s another story.

The plan for today was for baby to spend 2 hours there, but with me in another room.  We entered the daycare as they were just settling down for the baby signs lesson.  My daughter must have sensed my anxiety over leaving her because unlike yesterday, she stuck to me pretty closely.  She was not interested in the baby signs and the other children.  She was more interested in the murals and mirrors on the wall and did not want to go to the daycare workers.  While I was with her, I saw the same sad little girl I saw yesterday, except she looked even sadder today.  During the 20 minutes I stayed with my daughter, this little girl sat and cried quietly.  I wanted to go over and give her a hug, but it was not my place.  The only thing the daycare workers did to comfort her was ask if she was okay.   Is that good enough?

I took my opportunity to escape leave when my daughter began to show interest in some toys.  She started to cry as soon as I said good-bye and started walking away.  I went down the hall and sat near the reception area.  From what I could hear, she cried loudly for a good 10 to 15 minutes.  It was heartbreaking and felt like sleep training all over again.  Luckily, they were doing some cleaning of the facility and her cries (and my tears) were drowned out by the sounds of a vacuum.  I thought I heard her crying non-stop, but when I checked on her after 30 minutes, the daycare worker I spoke to said the cries were from other kids.  They said that she was better after they gave her breakfast and changed her poppy diaper and was only crying on and off a bit.  She didn’t see me, but I could see that she was crawling on the ground by herself and was whining a little, making it known that she was not happy at all.  I went back to my little area and spent the next 30 minutes looking at photos of her on dropbox.  I have taken thousands of photos of her since she was born and the majority are photos of her being silly, laughing, smiling and happy.  Happy was not how she was feeling at that moment.  How could I put her in any situation that would make her unhappy?  After another 30 minutes of crying on and off, I went to her.  I decided that an hour was enough for her (and me).  I thought it would be better for her to end the day there happy rather than sad.  She clung onto me for dear life as soon as she saw me.  After a few minutes of comforting, I led her to the others and she began playing with a big box of dried pasta.  She really enjoyed this activity, but for the rest of the time we were there, she kept her eye on me and was never too far away.

At the end, the daycare worker told me that my daughter seemd better when they left her alone.  That she got more worked up when they interacted with her.  Is that why they didn’t comfort that girl?  As I left the daycare, I wondered if my baby will ever adjust.  Will she become that sad little girl overtime?  Will she feel abandoned and alone and willl her loud protests and cries become muted?

It is midnight now as I finish this post.  I am tired.  I am drained.  I am dreading day 3.

Gradual entry into daycare – Day 1

This week, my daughter started gradual entry into daycare, where she will be spending a few hours each day there so that she gets used to the people and environment.  She will be attending daycare two days a week once I return to work next week.  This is my account of events.

Day 1 started a little rough.  We just return from vacationing in Hawaii on Saturday so we are still on island time.  We all ignored the alarm and woke up late, leaving only about 15 mintues to get ready.  These days with baby, it takes at least 30-45 minutes to get out of the house.  To save time, we ate breakfast in the car and luckily, traffic wasn’t too bad so we were only 15 minutes late.

We spent about 2 hours there.  The plan for this first day was for me to be with my daughter for the duration that we were there.  To my surprise, she did better than I thought.  She didn’t stick to me like glue the whole time as she usually does these days (separation anxiety is alive and well).  She even let the daycare workers carry her around even though she had only met them briefly 2 times prior.   This is surprising because it still takes her a while to warm up to her grandparents, aunts and uncles after not seeing them for a while.   There were a few moments when she got upset when she didn’t see me or wanted me to hold her.  But she did go explore on her own and “played” with the other kids.  She really enjoyed the breakfast they provided (she loves to eat), the music and dancing “class”, and playing in the sandbox.

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I think the first day was harder on me than on my daughter.   Why?  Because there were a  few kids there that didn’t seem too happy to be there.  There was this one particularly sad looking little girl there who caught my attention.  She’s only been attending this daycare for about a month, but I’d heard from the workers that she’s had a tough time adjusting.   When I sat next to her during the baby sign lesson, she turned to me and said in her tiny pleading voice, “I want my daddy.”  That just about broke my heart.  I was so close to bawling my eyes out and taking my daughter home right then and there.  Sure, she was fine at that moment sitting with one of the workers at the opposite end of the room.   But how will she be when I’m not there?  Will she cry and want someone to take her to me or my husband?  I guess we will see on day 2….

Best baby advice given to me before birth

A co-worker, who already had a child and was expecting another one around the same time as I was, told me not to have high expectations and that it wasn’t always going to be easy.  I thought this was the best baby advice given to me before birth.  Truth be told I’m a glass half empty kind of person, so I didn’t think it would be easy.  Call me pessimistic, but I think it’s the best way to live.  Having low expectations means having little disappointment.    Anything above and beyond what you expect would be a bonus.  So, we had breastfeeding issues and baby did not sleep well the first few months, no sweat.  Having a baby isn’t easy.  😉  With time and consultation with a lactation consultant, the breastfeeding issues were resolved.   She also slept better after some sleep training.  It got easier, until something else comes up, like teething or a cold or what we are dealing with right now – separation anxiety.

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As I look back now, my co-worker probably also told me that although it won’t be easy, it would be worth it and that I should savour every moment.  I was probably just too focused on the negative to hear the latter.  I tend to do that – focus on the negative rather than the positive.  If someone were to ask me for baby advice, I would definitely tell them to savour every moment because in a blink of an eye, your baby would’ve changed and not be the same as they were last month or last week or even yesterday.  In a blink of an eye, they would no longer be that tiny newborn who could barely keep their eyes open.  Before you know it, they will start to roll over, then crawl and run.  They change so quickly and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.  I would advise moms to be to cherish the first smiles, hiccups and giggles.

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This is where I’m at now.  A year has past since my baby girl was born.  I cannot believe how fast it’s gone by.  One minute, I was having contractions and the next, my little baby is now a toddler who would prefer to furniture surf than be held, who is no longer content just sitting in one spot but is curious and prefers to explore.  I am in awe of the new things she learns everyday and her increasing understanding of language.  I look forward to the day when she can walk, speak and feed herself, but I also miss the “simplier” days when she was content just eating and sleeping the day away.

What was the best baby advice given to you?

 

The Best Baby Advice I Got

Melissa recently asked me “What was the best piece of advice someone gave to you before you had your baby?”

The Best Baby Advice I Got

“It’s not a sprint.”  I got that piece of advice early in my pregnancy, and it wasn’t until my daughter was almost 2 before I realized it was the best parenting advice I was given.  At the time, I thought it was a backhanded comment and I was being chided for being so high strung.

I knew I was a perfectionist, and I liked to plan for contingencies, so while this understandably got on some people’s nerves, it served me well as a project manager. And it was why I was often put in charge of process improvement initiatives.  “It’s not a sprint” is now one of my key parenting mantras.  It’s not a sprint.  Heck, parenting is not even a marathon.  It’s…just life.

The first two weeks when my newborn daughter was still sleeping like a champ, I stayed up day and night, despite the choruses of “sleep when you can, sleep”, because I was so busy cleaning, and preparing and planning.

Now I know I really should have been sleeping because none of my cleaning mattered, none of the preparation prepared me for when my daughter refused to sleep again for the next 22 months, and none of my well intended plans came to fruition because baby came first and baby doesn’t care I had plans.

Now?  Some days I go to sleep even though my house is in a state of emergency because it was hit by a rainbow tornado.  It’s okay to wait to clean another day because it’s not a sprint.  I can sleep first knowing we had fun making a giant paper Mache Easter Egg.

I now also know that some things just aren’t up to me.  All my so called contingency plans had underestimated how much influence/ sway my little baby, now preschooler, has over me.  Irrationally, my fear of her shiny little tears and the desire to see her giggle just get so much more weight in daily decisions than I imagined.  Some days she is extra fussy and just wants to cuddle and read books together so I “couldn’t” get groceries and make dinner as planned.  I just boil some frozen dumplings instead and it’s okay.  It’s not a sprint; not every meal has to be three courses and balanced, as long as it is mostly and generally healthy in the long run.

The long hours I had poured into my work soon paled in comparison to the hours I am a parent (because it’s all the time- it’s not a sprint) and the pace I had taken was just not sustainable.  For almost two years, I stayed fully engaged and this allowed me to limit screen time to practically zero.  Right now, my daughter is watching Bubble Guppies and eating a popsicle while I type this.  I just needed a break, both mentally and physically, and it’s a hot day, so it’s okay since a little screen time (and sugar today) can’t be more damaging for her than if I burnt out as a parent.  I’m glad I got to sprint a few years, but now I’m at a better pace to enjoy what I hope is many many more years together…life.

“What was the best piece of advice someone gave to you before you had your baby?”

 

My Birth Story

As my due date drew nearer, I found myself visiting a lot of mom blogs to see birth stories for an idea of what to expect.  It was my first time and I was clueless. I had taken a birthing class but it seemed too textbook: there are three stages, labor, birth and afterbirth.  Don’t go to the hospital too soon, or you’ll be sent home. Don’t go too late or else…

I did pay attention, I really did, but it was months ago and I just couldn’t get a good idea of the general timeline or how I would know how everything is proceeding, well or not.

Holding hands with Newborn hands

My Birth Story

So here is my birth story.  The shortish version is that my water broke, sorta, and so I was admitted into the hospital before my contractions started.  Turned out I had a double amniotic sac and only the outer layer had broken.  I ended up getting an amniotomy (AROM) because my unborn daughter and I both developed a temperature.  I also ended up getting an epidural with mixed feelings as it wasn’t originally a part of my birth plan, but having it resulted in such an easy, enjoyable, painless (except for the burning sensation from the Pitocin) and most importantly quick delivery that with 20/20 hindsight I wish I had gotten it as soon as it was offered.  Another benefit was I didn’t feel the episiotomy or the stitches afterwards, although a part of me still feels like I missed the full experience of giving birth to my daughter.  And in the future, when she is being an insufferable teenager, I can’t say I had a rough time bringing her into this world.

Just kidding.  But not really.  Anyways, now the loooooooong version.

3 AM – Water Breaks

According to Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, a pregnancy and childbirth expert, only 13% of water breaks before labor.  Well, two days after my due date, I think my water broke. At 3 AM in the morning, a warm wet feeling in my nether region, like a heavy period or a (female) wet dream, woke me from my sleep.  I had started wearing a pad and was sleeping on a few towels just in case (yeah, I am prepared like that!) so I wasn’t worried about cleaning up, instead I was staring at a damp pad. So did my water break? I didn’t have any contradictions yet so from what I can google, I shouldn’t be going to the hospital either case.

I wasn’t sure if my water broke but I was too excited to fall back asleep so I just wandered around the house organizing this and that until around 6 AM when the mister woke up for work.

He called the 24 hr answering service for the obgyn office and left a message.  The obgyn who was on call returned his call around 7 AM and after asking about my COAT (color, odor, amount and time) told me to go to the hospital for a check up, given the fact I had no check ups the 3 recent weeks, and that I was already past my due date.

8 AM – Arrive at Hospital

Since we only lived 10 minutes from the hospital, I took a shower first and ate breakfast and still arrived before 8 AM.  However, the receptionists, reasonably, admitted the moms arriving in active labor first so I wait until almost 10 AM before seeing the room where the magic will happen.

Hospital delivery room

My newborn awaiting testing in the hospital delivery room

I still had no contractions and not sure if the water broke so a nurse examined me and confirmed with litmus paper, and reconfirmed under the microscope that the water had broken.  But by noon (8 to 9 hours since my water broke) I was still only a few centimeters dilated and didn’t have contractions yet.

3 PM – Started Temperature (Fever)

Over the next few hours, I started getting contractions.  They were fairly regular, intense and lasted 45 to 60 seconds and were 3 to 5 minutes apart.  According to the American Pregnancy Association, this is the active labor phase and when I should have headed to the hospital.  With my contractions, I also felt chills and started to shake uncontrollably. I had a fever/ temperature and was given antibiotics through IV.

4 PM – Amniotomy

The obstetrician examined me and said my amniotic sac was still intact and after conferring with the nurses and reviewing the test results, determined that I had a double sac and only the outer layer had ruptured.  I don’t recall making a decision but the obstetrician performed an amniotomy, otherwise known as an artificial rupture of membranes (AROM). I didn’t remember reading or learning anything about this before but apparently it’s common although not always necessary.

5 PM – Epidural

The obstetrician and nurses who came to check on me, and there were many had all highly recommended I get an epidural.  I was originally noting down people’s names so I can send thank you cards, but there were approximately 5 new faces every 4 hours. By now I had been introduced to at least 20 different people.  I declined the epidural repeatedly, partly because I am scared of needles, and even more scared of urinary catheters, and partly because I had wanted to feel the whole birthing experience.

I persisted until my daughter’s heart rate stayed high even when I wasn’t having contractions and I started having a temperature.  The obstetrician said if things don’t progress really really quickly, it’s highly likely I would need a cesarean section and then I would have to get an epidural or anesthesia anyway.  I didn’t want to risk my daughter’s health so I readily agreed to an epidural at this point.

She also wondered if I might be suppressing the contractions to limit the pain (only normal right?) and so it might progress faster if I wasn’t feeling the contractions.

An hour later, I met with the anesthesiologist.  The anesthesiologist was very nice and addressed my concerns and tried to calm my fears.  The local anesthesia felt like a small cold pinch – like a typical flu shot or blood draw.  It worked quickly because I didn’t feel any pain when the epidural needle or the tube that replaced it were inserted. I had sat and leaned forward for the procedure.

In less than half an hour, I suddenly felt no more pain.  Wow!  I can feel the tightening and the pressure of the contractions but there was no discomfort.  Did I say wow?  The epidural tube was connected to an automatic pump so the dosage could be dialed up or down easily.  I had requested the lowest dose possible to start, knowing that I can always increase the dosage if required.

With the epidural at the lowest dosage, I could still move my legs if I tried to, but I didn’t feel any discomfort from the contractions.  I also didn’t feel the episiotomy, a surgical cut in the perineum to facilitate delivery and reduce the likelihood of tearing.  I also didn’t feel the urinary catheter insertion which was one of my biggest fears for getting an epidural.  My grandmother, before she passed away, had told me several times she mostly dreaded her hospital stays because of how uncomfortable it was to have a urinary catheter inserted so I had not wanted to ever experience it for myself.

In fact, the Pitocin, a hormone to cause uterus contractions, which made my hand and most of my arm feel like it was burning, was the most painful part of the whole delivery.

9 PM – Delivery

Just 3 hours later, maybe because of the epidural, or the amniotomy, or the Pitocin, or some combination of those three, I was ready.  The nurse called the obstetrician because I was crowning.  I of course couldn’t feel it.  So I pushed when they said push and 4 pushes later, 3.5 pushes if I want to be exact, my baby was out.  It could have been only 3 pushes, but I ran out of breath on that third push it was totally weak sauce.

My newborn came into the room and said “eh” once.  And that was the end of my birth story and the start of a completely new one where we are both still writing together everyday.

Newborn foot print

The nurse made a foot print of our newborn for us upon request after her bath. But they no longer did hand prints.

Looking for more birth stories?  Check out Melissa’s amazing home birth story!  They are more rare than my birthing class led me to believe.