It is really hard for me to believe that today begins my final week of maternity leave. In some ways it feels like I left work just a few weeks ago but when I look back over the past three months it seems as though I have been gone for an eternity.
When I left for lunch on June 28 I let the receptionist know that I would most likely not be back before 1:00 because I was planning to have lunch with my cousin. And as I headed out the door I remember turning around and saying, "See you later." That was 12 weeks ago.
I have mixed emotions about returning to work. I'm really not cut out to be a stay at home mom and I'm looking forward to getting back to my office, my job, and conversations that don't include words like "diaper", "bottle", "pacifier" and "crying". However, on the other hand, I don't feel ready just yet to leave my son. My entire life has centered around him and his every move for three months and I'm not sure that I remember how to function without him. Ryan's arrival brought with it so many emotions- joy, frustration, fear, peace- that it seems almost impossible to suddenly change directions and go back to life as it was BR- "Before Ryan."
A few thoughts...
1. When I left for maternity leave the Summer Olympics was just beginning, it was still 100 degrees outside and had not rained in several weeks, and back-to-school shopping was in full swing.
2. We spent the majority of the month of August in the hospital so August was pretty much a blur. During almost the entire month of September Ryan was absolutely miserable and I spent most of my time feeding him and trying to find little things to make my day a bit more enjoyable. I really have no idea where October has gone.
3. I cannot wait for my hands to have the opportunity to go back to normal. Because I am forever washing my hands and making bottles they have become extremely dry and I have cracked and bleeding knuckles.
4. This maternity leave has taught me a lot of things but I would have to say that the most valuable lesson that I learned is to never give up, never accept an answer you do not agree with, and to always stay the course.
Before Ryan was even born we learned the importance of refusing to accept, "I don't know" for an answer. We had almost a dozen doctors following my case and almost every single one of them had a theory as to what was going on and what should be done. And through it all Ryan's heartbeat continued to be healthy and strong so I believe that he too was learning to fight for his need to be heard.
New, expecting, or not so new parents- Listen. To. These. Words.
If you think that something is wrong with you or your child do not let someone try to convince you that you are wrong and never allow someone, even a highly respected doctor, to encourage you to give up and accept your circumstances as normal or something that will just have to be weathered until it passes.
I spent the majority of my maternity leave fighting for Ryan's health and comfort and our family's sanity. I absolutely knew that something was wrong with him (not just colic) when he refused to eat more than 1-2 ounces at a time, cried during and after feedings, screamed through every bowel movement, and went only 60-90 minutes in between feedings (and for those of you who may have forgotten, that is 60-90 mintes from the start of one feeding until the start of the next). It took me countless visits to the doctor, numerous phone calls and emails, several trips to the store for new formula and bottles, and hours of research before I believed that my beautiful and perfect son was again the happy baby that I know I brought into this world.
He now takes medication twice daily for acid reflux, gets gas relief drops after every bottle, is on a mixture of regular and low iron formula (which can only be found online or special ordered through a grocery store), uses special bottles (Dr. Brown's) that help to reduce the amount of air he takes in while eating, sleeps either in his bouncy seat or is laid down in an elevated position to help control the acid reflux, and does bicycle kicks to help with bowel movements.
And it only took us 12 weeks to get all of this figured out.
I will be the first to admit that he certainly isn't happy every single day and things are not always flowers and rainbows and unicorns around our house but since we started this entire regimen two weeks ago we have had a completely different baby living at our house. Ryan now sleeps in his crib instead of next to the couch (we were taking turns sleeping downstairs with him because he woke up so many times during the night that it wasn't even worth trying to go to bed), wakes up 1-2 times per night (once he even slept through the night and didn't wake up until almost 5:00), eats about 3-5 ounces each feeding, and no longer screams in pain during or after feedings or while he is trying to have a BM.
I don't call that perfect but I do call that progress. And progress makes everyone a bit happier.
And so today, rather than taking my baby out into the rain to get groceries, I am going to stay home and enjoy the last few days that I get to be alone with my son. The grocery store will still be there tomorrow.