Working with baby: two months in

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I’ve been back at work with baby for two months now.

Two months! I can’t even believe it.

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Last I shared I was only 1 week in, so I figured I owe you all an update . . . and I owe it to myself to process how things are going too. It’s amazing how having to write something out really makes you think on a deeper level.

I guess the short answer to how things are going at work is: it’s just like the rest of life–there are easy days. There are hard days. On the hard days it feels like it’s always hard. On the easy days I think, “wow, this isn’t so bad! I could do this forever!”

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What makes a hard day? The lethal combination of a fussy baby + a big workload with a ton of multitasking + people in the office (especially visitors or clients) who may not be amenable to the sound of crying in the background. Or foreground, as it may be. Take any of these elements in isolation and it’s totally fine. Fussy baby: yes! I can listen to a lot of crying before hitting any kind of limit. Multitasking: yes! I can nurse my baby while answering the phone and typing an email left-handed. Strangers in the office: yes! I don’t mind showing off my baby to whoever may come in. But put all three of these elements together and the result . . . it’s explosive. This lethal combo has only happened maybe 5 or 6 times, and leaves me emotionally drained and grasping for the energy to make it to glorious bedtime . . .

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. . . or to the comforts of passing out on the couch.

But let’s get some perspective–if it’s happened 5-6 times, that means there have been another 39 or so days that have been just fine and dandy.

There are lovely times, like when I’m alone in the office and feel absolutely free to get down on the floor and try out all my goofy voices on Alice, trying to elicit that baby chuckle that I love to hear. There are awkward times, like when the Pest Control guy needs me to sign his tablet while I’m nursing Alice at my desk, or when someone (of the male persuasion) saw my nursing cover and said “Aw, is she napping?” and I had to clarify “No, she’s eating.” But overall, I try not to worry about what anyone thinks. Whether she’s crying, or nursing, or being whiny or goofy or talking up a storm, it’s not worth it for me to try to get into the heads of anyone else. I’m getting better at this–not fearing judgment. Going with the flow. Letting go of efficiency so that I can serve my daughter (side benefit: I’m on my way to becoming ambidextrous).

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I’ve had some serious mommy guilt on two occasions:

1) The time when we had a call with a client and Alice was screaming her head off. I tried everything to calm and quiet her, but she was inconsolable. Feeling desperate and cornered by the situation, I put her in her travel bed in the laboratory, where no one could hear her, and returned to the office. She was in there for 45 minutes or so just yelling and crying, and though I stand by my decision to put her there and let her cry it out while I took care of something that couldn’t wait, I felt bad. Especially when one of the guys from the plant came into the office and was like “Um, Jenna? Did you know your baby is crying in the lab?”

“Yes–that’s why I put her in there,” I said, distressed. I almost cried myself at that moment.

2) Alice’s 4 month doctor’s appointment was on March 5th. I didn’t have any misgivings going into it, but our pediatrician informed me that her weight gain had fallen off the curve of what’s considered normal: she had only gained 6 oz since her last appointment 5 weeks prior.”Sounds like your milk supply isn’t as good as you thought it was,” he bluntly informed me. Alice was supposed to be putting on about an ounce per day, and she had only put on an ounce per week. I was appalled. Especially because at her last appointment (right before I went back to work) she had been right on track. What had happened to slow this? What was going on with my milk supply??

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Obviously (to me), work. I must have started nursing her less and never noticed. Bad mommy! said the voice inside my head. So after spending that afternoon and evening upset, distraught, plagued by guilt and engaging in emotional self-flagellation, I came up with a plan: I would nurse Alice constantly. I would chunk her up if it killed me and my breasts forever.

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So at home, at work, on the road, and wherever I happened to be, that baby ate all the time. If she would take it, I would give it. I weighed her 6 days later on the calibrated industrial scale at work.

And in 6 days, my friends, this baby went from 11 lbs 6 oz to 12 lbs 3 oz.

GO BOOBS! GO ALICE! GO GO GO TEAM GO!

You have no idea how relieved this makes me feel. And I don’t plan on stopping my intensive nursing plan until this baby has doubled her birth weight at 14 lbs 2 oz.

So things are going well. For now–which is all I need to worry about. Once she starts crawling, who knows? I hear that’s a game-changer. But I won’t know how to manage it until I get there, so there’s no use imagining scenarios in which I fail or succeed or struggle or triumph.

You know what’s crazy? How much Alice has changed since the first day I came back into the office. She’s gone from a 3-month old who hated tummy time and didn’t know she had hands . . .

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. . . to a 5-month old who is rolling over, grabbing things and chewing on everything.

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I don’t feel like I’ve been back at work for that long, and yet my baby is so different than when we started. Here she is back at the end of January . . .

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. . . and here she is now.

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I still don’t know how long this working arrangement will be good for us, but whether another few months or another two years, I’m so grateful for how things are now.

Happy Monday dear readers!

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22 thoughts on “Working with baby: two months in

  1. Patti

    Good for you for trying. Hang in there, you’re doing a great job. Alice, who is just stunning by the way, is lucky to have you as a mommy!

    Reply
  2. Christine from EP

    Hi Jenna,
    I just wanted to encourage you with a few things about nursing. First, they’ve recently come out with new growth charts for breastfed babies. Breastfed babies will NOT keep up with formula fed babies. Is your doctor using the right charts? Secondly, has he looked at you and your husband? Your daughter is going to be petite. Don’t make her what God doesn’t intend for her to be! She is sweet, beautiful Alice who has her own growth curve. She looks bright, inquisitive and on target with her milestones. With experience you will listen less and less to the almighty wisdom of doctors and find confidence in your instincts. Breastfeeding is best by far. You are doing the right thing for Alice. Feed her when she is hungry and you’ll both be doing great. Go, Mama!

    Reply
    1. Jenna Post author

      Christine, THANKS for the encouragement! Breastfeeding has been an amazing journey and I’m definitely not stopping any time soon. =)

      Reply
  3. Veronica

    I think it’s wonderful that you’ve been able to do this, take your daughter to work, with so few bad days, though they are really bad when they’re bad. Good job on the baby weight gain! I read something online about how breastfed babies gain weight differently than formula babies and if your doctor is not already using the right weight chart, you might read this and let him know if he ever says you’re not sufficient again: http://www.pistachioproject.com/2011/08/breastfed-babies-grow-differently.html

    Can’t believe how fast she’s growing. My oh my, pretty soon she’s going to be crawling around that office! 😀 Love her cute little faces, especially that squinchy one.

    Reply
  4. Giselle

    Loved this update. I’m glad you are taking each day as they come and enjoying Alice so much .She is just too precious.

    GO BOOBS!!

    Reply
  5. Kimby | a little lunch

    Jenna, I looked at these photos of Alice and thought, “Oh my goodness, she’s grown!” — and how healthy she looks! Then I read your doctor’s comment and cringed. (It’s called medical “advice” for a reason, which is why folks often get a second “opinion.”) While your doctor may be familiar with medical knowledge, YOU know your baby — and it’s obvious to me that you know what you’re doing!

    Reply
    1. Jenna Post author

      Thanks Kim–that’s what Adam keeps telling me. She’s happy, energetic, and all signs point to “healthy.” I’m definitely trying to give over my worries to God.

      Reply
  6. Louann

    Jenna,
    I worked full time until Robert and Alex left the nest. You are doing amazing and I can’t wait to hold Alice! A few thoughts:
    It is OK to stay home with your children and it is OK to work with your children. The country song is right: if momma is happy then everyone is happy!
    Get accustom to not being able to make your child happy. Sooner or later we all have to figure that piece out for ourselves… so it is OK to let your baby cry as long as they are not hungry and have a dry diaper (it gets worse when they are teething).
    Remember the pioneer women had it worse than we do (my focus during childbirth).
    Don’t worry when you can’t do it all – we all parent the best we can and it is impossible to be perfect. Our children just need to know we love them unconditionally.
    Sorry but get use to being tired.
    Guilt – why is it always the Moms who feel guilty and never the dads?

    Reply
    1. Jenna Post author

      It’s funny–Adam quotes that country song all the time (he says “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”) and it really is true.
      I’m hoping not to be a guilty mom, or a worrier. I’m trying my best to shake off both those feelings when they hit, because they’re so emotionally unproductive. Anyway, thanks for the encouragement. =)

      Reply
  7. Suzie

    I agree with Kimby, you know your baby and what she needs. And she looks perfectly happy and healthy! She is growing so fast. You are so lucky (even with the few bad days) to be able to take her to work. She is just adorable too, so cute!

    Reply
  8. Megan

    You’re doing great Jenna! What a blessing that you can have her there with you while you work, even though it may be hard at times.

    Docotrs are so helpful and I thank God for them, but sometimes that they are not so wise in their choices of delivering information to you and can sometimes exaggerate situtations. Breastfeeding is not an exact science. It’s not like your baby comes out and your boobs are suddenly full of X amount of milk and it’s either enough or it’s not. It’s an on demand system, that increases and decreases with your baby’s eating habits (and can also be affected by stress). Probably the first reaponse should’ve been, “try feeding her more” not “maybe you don’t have enough milk.” Because having a low supply is a real thing, that I had, but it seems like it could be overly diagnosed in other people.

    Praise God that you could fix the problem. Isn’t it cool how He’s designed it? Breastfeeding is one of those few things in life that’s actually like magic. You may feel like your boobs are empty, but the baby’s hungry again, so you offer, and what do you know: more food comes out!

    Reply
  9. Heather

    I TOTALLY agree with Christine!! Sorry your pediatrician
    said that to you… Obviously he doesn’t understand the super powers of
    breast feeding! Sadly a lot of peds don’t. Another factor in lowered weight
    gain is an increase in activity (which Alice has definitely had!!)
    I never understood the “goal” it seems of having the fattest baby… My babies are always “skinny” & tall (as most breastfed babies are!) and eat a LOT. Breast milk takes more work to get too- they don’t just lay there & chug. ANYWAY, good for you & you are doing AMAZING :)

    Reply
  10. Erica

    Kiddo, she looks SO much like you in that last tummy time picture…also, it made me smile to see her in the onesie with the hearts! so cutay.

    Reply

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