I have been wanting to post about going back to work for awhile now, but one of the things that quickly went away once I started back was free time. The babies are napping now, so I’ll do my best to get this done before they wake up again.
I wake up at 4:30 and spend about an hour and half getting ready. I wish I could shorten this down, but I discovered last year that the outcome of spending time blow-drying my hair, putting in contacts, and wearing make-up is worth the investment. Most teenagers are, among other things, superficial, and they respond a lot better to a teacher who looks put together than when I just put my hair back in a ponytail and wore my glasses everyday. So it’s worth spending the extra half hour or so getting ready on weekdays.
I try to have the babies up by six so I can be feeding them by 6:10. We had a problem the first few weeks getting them to eat very much, but they are starting to get used to the schedule and will usually nurse for 7-10 minutes now. I want them to eat well at 6 so that they only have to eat at daycare one time, and then I only miss one feeding, which I try to make up for by pumping twice during the day. I try to be out the door by 6:30.
I drop the babies off at daycare, which is about 5 minutes from our house, and then I drive to work. I get there around 7, and then I try to make sure I’m ready for the day. The hardest part about being back at work is having hardly any time in my classroom to get things done. I used to spend 3 or 4 hours getting ready for school the next day. Now I have about 30 minutes after my last class and 20 minutes or so in the morning. Even though I’m teaching fewer classes, it’s not easy to squeeze everything in, and I NEVER have everything done that I’d like to.
I teach 3 classes from 7:40-10:40. The time always goes by super quickly. At 10:40 I try to put my agenda on the board for the next day, put my papers away, respond to any emails, and gather up whatever I need to finish up at home that night. I have to make a list because if it doesn’t get written down, the task will be forgotten. I have no ability to keep a to-do list in my head these days.
I leave school at 11:10 so that I can be to daycare to pick up the girls at 11:30. I pick them up, drive home, and get everybody into the house. I let Nieve outside, change diapers, and then I feed the girls. Fortunately I’m able to breastfeed them at the same time now, usually without getting spit up on. It’s MUCH easier to do when I have help, so when Will’s home, he’s still stuck helping me by burping whoever gets done first. But it’s much less stressful now that I can feed them at the same time by myself when they’re both starving.
After they’re done I clumsily burp them both at the same time and then get them into their bouncy seats. Then I have to pump to try and make-up for the milk I didn’t express for the 9:00 feeding. I put the girls in their swings, and they’re usually content to wait for me to pump and then clean up.
After that they play on the floor and I fix myself some lunch. Right now I can leave them on the floor of the playroom (formally our dining room) and walk back and forth from the kitchen. They kick and turn around, but they still can’t roll back to front, and they can’t move around too much. I have to make sure they don’t get too close and start kicking each other, but that’s about it. This is going to change dramatically once they become a little more mobile.
Once I have my food, I eat on the floor and the babies get some tummy time. They tolerate it for a lot longer now, but they still get tired of it after a few minutes. They can roll from their tummies to their backs, but sometimes they don’t do this and I have to help them back over when they start getting frustrated. I watch for any signs of tiredness, and then we get ready for a nap.
I still don’t have a great nap-time routine, and getting them both to nap at the same time is fairly difficult. Once I see some yawns or eye-rubbing, I change their diapers and we head upstairs. I swaddle them, even though they don’t sleep swaddled at night anymore, and they lay on the floor while I read a story. After that I pick up which ever baby is most fussy or seems the most sleepy, and I try to get them to go to sleep. Sometimes they’ll go down easily. Other days, like yesterday, I’ll have one baby about to go to sleep and then the other baby will get upset and wake up the sleepy one. Sometimes I nurse them to get them to go to sleep, even though you’re not supposed to. Once one baby is down, though, I would do just about anything to get the other one to go to sleep. On a good day they’ll nap 45 minutes to an hour at the same time. Today Imogen slept for about 30 minutes, 20 while Siren was sleeping too. She’s sitting on my lap now as I’m typing this. Fortunately she can sit up in my lap pretty well now, making it much easier to type with a baby than it was even a month ago.
Will usually gets home not long after they wake up from their nap. We usually play and try to get in some more tummy time until about 4:00. We still try to get the girls to take a third nap around 4 because if they don’t, they completely fall apart before bedtime. When it’s nice I put them in the stroller and they nap while we walk Nieve. Sometimes we’ll put them in the swings. Otherwise it’s hard to get them to go down for the third nap and some days they just don’t do it.
We start trying to get the babies ready for bed around 5:30. They take a bath about every-other night. After the bath, we put on their jammies and eat, usually around 6. I think the babies are ready to start having some solid food because at night they are HUNGRY. They typically nurse between 7 and 15 minutes during the day, but at night, they’ll nurse for 20 or longer. Often they’ll fall asleep after nursing, but they never go down for the night after falling asleep one time.
I feel like we’ve tried everything, laying them down drowsy but awake, laying them down while they’re almost asleep, holding them for awhile after they’ve fallen asleep and then laying them down, but nothing really seems to work well for us. We typically put each baby in her crib 3 or more times in the evening before she’ll go down for the night. We will ultimately end up doing some kind of sleep-training, but I just don’t feel like they’re ready for that yet. A lot of the time they seem to be waking up because they’re hungry, and it doesn’t feel right to me to let a baby cry it out if she is probably hungry.
The reason I think they’re hungry and not just wanting to nurse is because when they eat from bottles in the evening, they eat a LOT. The other night I drove my parents to the airport during bed time. I pumped around 5 before I left and was able to get 7 ounces. Fortunately for Will we have a supply built up because he ended up feeding the babies about 10 each before they went to sleep. They can’t get that much from me at one time, though, which I why I think they keep waking up and then want to nurse more. I’m really hoping that starting solid foods will help with this.
On a good night the babies are down for the night by 7:30 or 8. On a bad night like last night, it might be 10:00. Last night we finally ended up giving Siren about 2 ounces from the freezer around 10, and then she went to sleep for the night. On nights like this, it’s not worth pumping before I go to bed, so I’ll pump after feeding the babies around 3 or 4 a.m. If I pump twice a day, I’m almost able to get the 12 ounces that they eat while they’re at daycare. As long as I pump on the weekends too, I don’t get behind on our milk supply, and most importantly, my body hasn’t stopped making as much milk as it needs to. Sometimes I do seem to run low in the evenings, though, which I’m also hoping that starting solids in a couple of weeks will help with.
I usually can’t get started on anything for school until the babies are down for the night, so the biggest challenges are keeping up with grading and getting enough sleep. If I’m lucky I can get to bed around 10, but many nights it’s later, try as I might to get done with everything earlier.
I feel like my house is permanently messy, and the little free time I had before is pretty much gone. Even so, I’m glad to have a job, and it’s nice to be back at work. I really like working part-time. It allows me to get to teach and to work with students, but I still feel like I get lots of time with the babies. I know it’s going to get harder as the year goes on and I feel more tired, and probably harder again when the babies start crawling and have to be watched a lot more closely, and probably harder again when they start getting bored and need more stimulating entertainment than tickles, songs, and funny noises. But for now, it’s pretty nice. And I feel like I’m doing okay with balancing everything, more or less, as long as you don’t factor in the lack of housework.
Anyway, both babies have been up for awhile now and are playing on the floor behind me. I need to get off of the computer and get them some more tummy time, and then we’ll probably walk Nieve.