Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Mid-tour break

The other week I went to a party in honor of my friend's boyfriend who was on his mid-tour break from his assignment in Afghanistan. I am sure he appreciated the respite and she appreciated spending time with him.

I was hoping to have my own little mid-tour break as Matt and I planned a trip to the Finger Lakes with Natalie and two of our friends. We planned it a couple months in advance and scheduled it for right when Natalie turned six months old. We could have never predicted, however, that Natalie would be at the apex of her teething pain right as we hopped in the car (well, after several days preparing) for our trip. Getting there wasn't too bad as we tacked about 1.5 hours worth of baby pit stops onto the 6.5 hour trip, but being there while Natalie was in the throes of teething pain became simply unbearable and not at all fun. After two days of unpleasantness we waited until her bedtime to get back in the car and head home, driving through the night so we wouldn't have to make any stops nor listen to Natalie let out a series of blood-curdling screams and the occasional whimper.

A few photos from our vacation that wasn't meant to be

So, we had a failed vacation, which obviously isn't the worst that could happen when you have a six-month old. A quick trip to the pediatrician upon arriving home confirmed that, yes, we are not crazy and Natalie is just simply a baby who seems to have more severe reactions to teething pain. At least it wasn't something more serious. True to form, the day after our doctor's visit Natalie's second tooth (her other central incisor) erupted. Her teething pain is the worst about five days to one week before the tooth erupts. We just scheduled our trip at exactly the worst possible time.

While not the end of the world, I was looking forward to some time away from home in a new environment spent with friends who are two of the world's most patient and easy-going travel companions. But the mid-tour break wasn't meant to be.

I think because of this failure lately I've been itching for a break even more. When we first had Natalie I felt, rightly so, that it was a relatively easy time period. She slept all the time and only woke to eat. I read a bunch of books in between feedings. I didn't sleep too much at night, but that's what I expected, and I thought, "This isn't so bad." I was completely right. I figured it would become more difficult over time, and it has. This line of reasoning is similar to how I feel about parking lots that have spaces reserved for pregnant women when there are none reserved for families with small children. During my pregnancy I would always think, "Save those spots for when you really need them, when the baby has arrived and you have your hands totally full." Six months later I have those same thoughts.

Why am I itching for a break? It's not because Natalie doesn't sleep well at night, because she totally still does, and I know we continue to be very fortunate in that regard. But the waking hours? Those are always challenging. Stop reading here if you don't want to hear my keeping-it-real dose of reality. I have a great baby and a great life, but I definitely don't experience sunshine and rainbows every day (though I did see this killer rainbow during an evening commute yesterday).


Here are some things I am ready to see change:

...being covered in spit up. I am ready for that esophagus to be strong enough to keep food down. I am similarly tired of our floors being covered in spit up. And my cell phone. And our dogs.

...how much of our day still revolves around eating. Even though we started introducing Natalie to solid foods when she turned six months old, understandably hardly any of that food is actually making its way into her stomach, and the little that does isn't containing enough nutritional value to serve as a substitute for breast milk (or formula, if I wasn't still breast feeding). So adding solids is just more work on top of the liquid diet. And she doesn't seem to really like anything yet. And it's super messy.

...not having a clear schedule, and I am tired of living my life in two-hour increments between naps. Natalie still takes three naps a day, and she is clearly too tired by the late afternoon to be ready, as some babies her age are, to drop the third nap. When she actually takes her naps is solely dependent upon when she wakes up for the day. She might choose to wake up at 6:15 a.m., or  she might shoot for 8:15 a.m. instead. When she starts her day subsequently affects the way the rest of the day will pan out. Then I have to wait and see, when it's time for a nap, will she take a 30-minute nap or a two-hour nap? I don't know, you tell me. Once she is awake again she can only stay awake for about two hours before she gets cranky and clearly needs a nap again. Although I like to keep busy, this sporadic napping schedule obviously cramps our style.

Of course, having attempted a vacation with a baby, I've learned it's probably easier to just stay home. I'll share with you the little I learned in a future post, but I can now say I fully appreciate the Some E Cards meme I saw the other day that said, "You know you're a mom when a vacation sounds like work and a trip to Target by yourself sounds like vacation." It makes me feel kind of pathetic to absolutely relate to that sentiment. My friend who's been down this road before me told me last month that this 5-8 month period is what she considered the most challenging. I wonder if my experience will align with hers.

1 comment:

  1. I recently stumbled upon your blog and must tell you that I am now hooked. I am the mother of a three month old and have also decided to take time off from teaching to be home.

    Your posts always make me laugh because I am typically going through similar things with my daughter. It is comforting to know that I am not the only one who goes through several shirts a day and struggles to leave the house due to a crazy nap schedule. We have not started solid foods or teething yet, but I will certainly begin the mental preparation. :)

    Thank you so much for your honesty. Good luck with your sweet little girl!

    Ellen S.

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