Monday, August 14, 2006

The new old routine

This is a record of my current routine. I wanted to record it before everything changes again.

I wake up somewhere between midnight and four in the morning to stumble downstairs and pump about 4 ounces of breastmilk. I have to wake up in the middle of the night to pump because the pressure of milk builds up and hurts; if I ignore this pain, I will leak breastmilk on the bed.

This take about 20 minutes. Then I stumble back upstairs and sleep until the alarm goes off at 6.

After turning off the alarm, I gather Dot up from her co-sleeper. She's only half-asleep at this time, and sucking her thumb fiercely because she's hungry. I feed her and gradually wake up looking at my daughter as she eats. For this feeding, she keeps her eyes closed, demanding that I be the one to hold her and support her while she eats. She always looks like royalty to me, relaxed, reclined, and dainty. When she's done, she signals so by turning her head away, and I prop her up over my shoulder or against my chest. I pat her back and talk to her a bit until she manages to burp. This might take a few minutes, and it wakes her up a bit.

After Dot's managed to push any air she swallowed out, I lay her down on the bed and talk to her while I change her diaper. She's all smiles by this time, and the husband usually stirs next to us a bit, sometimes reaching out a hand to pet one of us while we go through our morning paces. After I've cleaned Dot up, I might play or cuddle with her for a minute or two, but not longer; she's tired and I need to get ready for work. It's always tough to lay her back down in her bed, especially since after the feeding she's all smiles and coos.

After that I pump again to get out any breastmilk I might have left, shower, eat breakfast, and drive to work. I try not to be late, but that's incrasingly more difficult as I find it hard to leave the baby and husband, whom I am sure to kiss before leaving for the day. I have to be in my car by 7:30 to make it to the library at 8. During this drive I will silently and fluently curse Cobb county residents for their lack of a train at least once every morning.

I work from 8am until 5pm. I miss my husband and daughter, and at the same time have anxiety about my job that is overwhelming enough some days to make me wonder if I need medication. Then I remember that I work in academia, and if you aren't a little paranoid in academia, then you aren't paying attention. Remind self at least once a day that paying attention is not something that really gets rewarded in public eduacation. Then I pay attnetion and work hard anyway, because that's the kind of neurotic overachiever I am.

Five to Five forty-fiveish - drive home through Atlanta traffic. Curse lack of train again. Ritually wonder why my iPod is oddly unsatisfying; perhaps use cell phone to talk to a friend.

I gt home before six, and the husband and baby are happy to see me. I put the breastmilk I've pumped at work into the fridge. We all kiss. I take the baby up in my arms and while talking to the husband about our day, and I make up a little baby cereal with breastmilk. The husband jumps on his online game while I push a little cereal into Dot's mouth. The husband and I talk about dinner and evening plans. If we have to go somewhere, we make a decision to eat before or after our outside-the-house tasks. At some point I make dinner. Too often, this dinner is the only meal the husband eats during the day; he's horrible about getting his own meals, even with microwavable frozen stuff in the freezer. Left to his own devices, he would live on gingerbread cookies and Mountain Dew.

We usually eat together around 7ish, because this is when Dot lays down for an hour-long evening nap. When she wakes from this nap she'll be ravenously hungry, so often we'll start a DVD while eating, and I'll continue to watch it while feeding the baby. We never watched so many movies before Dot; now, thanks to the baby and Netflix, I've been given the opportunity to enjoy every obscure documentary I ever wanted to see. While the husband is feeding the baby during the day, he watches obscure Japanimation and horror or kung-fu classics. We haven't had cable or braodcast TV in years.

I do small housechores as I can while playing with and caring for the baby at night. I try to help with the laundry or dusting or such, but usually I am too busy with dinner and the baby. The husband has been better at housework since he's been home during the day.

Around 10pm I use the breast pump one more time to empty myself out before laying down. I say my bedtime is at 10, but that varies; on Sunday nights it is closer to 10:30, and over the course of the week it inches back to almost 9:30 by Thursday night. As the work week wears on, I get more tired. I try to be consistant with my sleep schedule, but it's difficult. My sleep pattern wants to mimic Dot's, and she doesn't really start the day until 10am.

After I go up to bed around 10pm, The husband will wait for Dot to ask him for her last feeding. Then he'll give her the last bottle of the day, change her again once or twice, and sing to her until she goes to sleep. When she's trying to be grumpy (the I'm-tired-but-don't-want-to-sleep variety of grumpy), he will often sing to her while walking her around the house. She likes the motion. This also has the effect of sometimes wearing the husband out.

When Dot falls asleep around 11pm, the husband may or may not choose to go to bed at that time. Sometimes he puts her down in her crib and returns to playing video games online with friends. Sometimes he comes up and curls next to me. He will be in bed until 10am, when Dot wakes up for a diaper change and a bottle.

This is our weekday routine. We all agree that Sundays are best, when we can all stay up until about 11:30pm and stay in bed until 10am. Of course, I wake up twice in that time even on Sundays, since I'm still breastfeeding. On Sundays when Dot wakes up at 10, I can feed her in the bed and we roll around playing with the happy baby. Sundays are the best.

This week everything will change again; the husband starts law school at night, and I will have to start working one night a week at the library. Soon the husband will leave as I come through the door to get to his classes. He'll be out of the house for three hours, and then back to us for the nightime rituals. On Wednesday nights he will be home, but I'll be closing the library. We will have Friday nights together, and of course our weekends (except when I have a Sunday shift now and then).

I am happy that the husband is starting school, but sad that our routine is ending. I am happy that soon I will get to stop using the breast pump, but sad that this will mean loosing the closeness I feel with Dot in the very early morning. I am happy that my daughter is bright and healthy, but sad that she's growing out of this easy to manage stage in her life.

Nothing matters more than this.

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