Going on vacation with Claire at 6 months old is the smartest thing we ever did. It totally reset us. It jangled up our schedule and got us out of our rut and when we came home we all just felt BETTER. (Even though there are no Lava Flows at home.)
Before going to the beach we were starting to feel a bit stabby. Stabby about work, messy kitchen floors, hail damage and the insurance company to deal with, a sick baby, never-ending laundry...all of the soul-crushing things about daily life with a newborn that eat you up after a while if you can't seem to ever attend to them.
Then we hit the beach and left all of that 3,800 miles behind us. And it was nice! We had no responsibilities! We had no schedule! We just...existed as this happy little family full of smiles and giggles and joy with an endless supply of clean laundry.
It was so nice.
Now that we're home reality is setting back in. All of the things that were problems when we left? Yeah, they're still problems now that we're at home.
But Chris and I feel like we can talk honestly with ourselves about them now that we've given it some distance (you know, without all the hyperbole that "I HAVE NO SOCKS! NO CLEAN SOOOOOOOOCKS!" brings at 630 in the morning).
The excuse that we've been living on ("We have a baybeeee! Life is supposed to be nutty and crazy and chaotic!") is wearing thin. We have a six month old who is crawling and teething and sleeps through the night. There's no reason to eat cereal for dinner three nights a week any more. I miss hot meals.
We adored Claire's newborn days (and, truthfully I already miss the time when she would sleep for hours in my arms) but she's growing up fast and it's time for us to change our patterns to match hers. We can't be a sleep-deprived and crazed family with no clean socks forever. THANK GOD.
We have perspective on what are the really big deal items to us and we're definitely attacking them so we can get to a happier place day-to-day. There's a definite feeling that this family has turned the proverbial corner toward something more functioning.
There is life after baby. It just takes a little while to get there.
First up: Claire's sleep habits.
I've known for a long time that she was ready to sleep through the night. We just weren't ready or able to get her there. She's been sick, I've been sick, Chris has been sick and plus I didn't want to push any big long-term changes before our trip. I knew that the time change would negate any efforts we made on that front.
First night at home we went big: Cry It Out. And OH BOY did she cry. She cried from 1 to 330 am. We kept checking on her, holding her, reassuring her and...no. She was furious and screaming. Finally at 330 I gave up and fed her. She ate for about thirty seconds and fell asleep until 8 am.
Second night we took magazines to bed to entertain us during the crying. But Claire surprised us and only cried for 40 minutes at 1 am. It wasn't even panicky crying - it was just sort of "wah-wah-I'm-bored" crying and she tumbled around in her crib and rolled this way and that and at some point she went back to sleep. It was kind of amazing.
Third night she mumbled for a few minutes and went back to sleep.
And on the fourth night she didn't wake up at all. She crashed out for 11 hours. She's done that every night since and tonight will be night 9. I'm not sure if it's a new habit quite yet, but I'm hopeful. VERY HOPEFUL.
Second: I give up on chores.
I am literally going to grab a fistful of cash and throw it at the problem and pray fervently that solves it. We're hiring a housecleaner as soon as humanly possible.
This is not a decision we came to lightly. To me, it feels like a fat waste of money to pay someone for something that I'm perfectly capable of doing. It's also not cheap (it will be a significant luxury as far as we're concerned) but one that is worth it.
It has become painfully obvious that I can't work, take care of Claire, take care of myself, take care of Chris (oh, come on, OF COURSE I have to take care of him too) and take care of my mommy/wifey household-type duties like grocery shopping and appointment keeping and keep this house clean.
I just don't have the time or energy. My house looks like I don't have the time or energy. I hate that. I walk in the door and get instantly annoyed and it puts me in a bad mood for hours.
When I was pregnant, Chris and I talked about me going back to work and what it would mean with respect to our lifestyle. Was it going to be worth it in time and money? Or would it get crazy and out of control? The only thing we knew is what we did not want our lives to become.
We very specifically did not want to get be spending all of our free time on nights and weekends cleaning. We did not want to spend our limited time together as a family doing chores rather than doing fun things together.
Surprise! That's where we're at.
Yesterday I actually announced at dinner that the Big Plan for after Claire went to bed was to clean the kitchen and mop the floors and Chris was going to help me. It was a horrible way to spend the evening and we didn't even finish. We got bored and quit after we loaded the dishwasher.
I called a list of recommended housecleaners the next morning.
Other than those Two Big Bothersome Things I have to say that life? It is good. REALLY GOOD.
I found the beginnings of a very sharp tooth in Claire's mouth yesterday and she is now crawling. Not too fast, but she can get places. There is some major childproofing of the house that needs to happen but I haven't been able to get to that yet. She's also eating pears, sweet potatoes and bananas and is not eating carrots, parsnips and squash.
She weighs 16 and one half pounds and is 26 inches long. She goes to bed at 7 and sleeps until 6 or 7 the next morning. It's AWESOME.
She burbles and talks and when I pinch her sides she giggles these great big belly laughs that leave me in a puddle of my own melted heart. We love her more than anything and I can't believe that we're lucky enough to call her our own.
I might not have a clean bathroom, but my baby sure is sweet. (Am still hiring housecleaner though.)