Recently I had the experience of being a full time mom and it was educational. A few days ago Melanie went back to work doing four hour shifts in the Emergency Room. That meant that I had to be on my own for about five hours with little Gracie. I was pretty nervous about this but I tried hard not to let it show; Melanie was already stressed enough. She wanted to go back to work but at the same time really hated the idea. Up until then the longest Melanie would be away from little Gracie was during her showers, and I would usually try to bring Grace into the bathroom to say hi because I knew how much Melanie missed her for those fifteen minutes. Needless to say, Melanie starting work was a big step.
We had everything set up so the afternoon would be smooth, there were bottles in the fridge, back up outfits laid out, and I got detailed instructions on what to do if anything went wrong. I also had back up. We spoke to both my sister and my mother in law and they were available should anything go wrong. All I needed to do was make a phone call and I knew reinforcements would be on the way. With all the safety measures in place Melanie gave Grace a kiss, and then another kiss, looked at me and asked me if everything would be all right, kissed Grace again, and headed out the door.
I had spoken with the pharmacists that I work with and they had a bet with each other how many times Melanie would call while she was at work. We had to clarify whether or not the calls she made in the car to and from work counted. The low number was three, not counting the calls made in transit. I personally thought that was about right.
So I started my day bonding with my daughter. I was nervous but confident that I could do the job and maybe get some of the housework I had been putting off done. I had another goal on top of this. For whatever reason I am good at getting Grace to sleep and I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to see if I could get her to take some good daytime naps. She sleeps very well at night, at least eight hours, but during the day she struggles. She never sleeps for more the twenty minutes and as the day progresses she get crankier and crankier. Melanie and I have really struggled with this because all the books written on the subject of sleeping babies usually focus on helping babies sleep through the night. So we have been doing what we can to help Grace sleep during the day.
I planned my day so that I would spend about a half hour playing with Grace and then at the first sign of sleepiness I would put her in her bed and give her a bottle until she fell asleep. I would try to swaddle her as I was feeding her and the I planned on getting the housework done while she was asleep. It all seemed so easy. It turns out that it is really hard to swaddle a baby with one hand while you are trying to hold a bottle in their mouth with the other. It is also really awkward to feed a baby lying on their back in a bassinet. The biggest battle was to keep the milk that somehow left the bottle but didn't get into Grace's stomach off of Grace. I want to keep her clean and dry so I tried hard to catch all of this excess milk. This turned out to be an impossible task. I would see a drip coming and reach for the burp cloth to try to wipe it off. Then, before I could get there, the milk would slip into the space between Grace's head and her body where her neck should be but hasn't grown in yet (I call the space the chin abyss).
Needless to say the plan never worked 100%. In addition to the troubles that I mentioned I also had to deal with our dog Carmen who decided that she needed to put little extra bark in her house guarding technique that day. The windy weather and diligent UPS guy helped shatter my expectations I ended up holding/feeding/playing with Grace the whole afternoon. I did manage to do a little laundry but it is hardly worth mentioning.
I honestly didn't mind though, it was nice to have so much time to spend with my daughter and I feel like we had a chance to bond a little better. I don't get to see her as much as I would like so opportunities like this are precious. I have to admit that even though it was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it I was pretty tired when the day was through. I really had nothing tangible to show for it but I felt like I had earned a nap. Being a mom can be hard work.
Melanie was relieved when she got home that Grace was fine and spent the rest of the night loving on her. We decided after a couple shifts that Melanie is going to finish working towards the end of May instead of the end of June like we had originally planned. Really it is better for everyone, that chin abyss can only hold so much milk.