The tides are turning my friends. It dawned on me this past Monday that I only have three weeks of maternity leave left. Three weeks! And for the first time, when I thought of returning to work, rather than looking forward to the return to my routines, I felt sad. Just three short weeks left of hanging out with Little Dumpling. Then, Luffy and I decided to arrange some transitional days for the Dumpling at his day care provider. A couple of half days, a couple of whole days – good for both of us as we begin a new routine. However, this means I really just have two full weeks left. Two! TWO.
Luffy is already making fun of me because just a few weeks ago I was going on about how I couldn’t wait to go back to work and to share the responsibility of caring for the dumpling. But now. Now I’m a little saddened by the thought of not seeing him all day. We’re finally to the point where our days have some routine. The Dumpling’s getting big enough for me to actually enjoy. He’s awake for about an hour now, more or less. He’s all smiles when he’s well rested. He loves his play mat (an adorable little activity gym that I opened on a whim). He stares at the toys overhead and smiles at his reflection (he loves that guy in the mirror!). He’s becoming more and more vocal. He coos at us all day long. I’m expecting his first giggle any week now. He finally enjoys his swing and will take some naps in it if needed.
Our biggest progress though has been on the sleep front. When we last chatted, Luffy and I were so frustrated with the two or three hour dance it took to get the dumpling down for the night. On good nights, he would wake every three hours like clockwork. On the bad, it was every hour and a half or less. One particularly low morning, Luffy found me at 6:20am, crying on the couch as I nursed the dumpling again. I had just put him down at 5:30 and he was up again. Luffy suggested we look into sleep training because he couldn’t stand to see me upset like that, frustrated with the Dumpling and with myself.
The turning point came at our two month appointment. Our pediatrician gave us the go ahead to try sleep training. Her opinion was that it certainly couldn’t hurt. If it didn’t work, put a pin in it and try again in a few weeks. She told us we were overthinking the sleep thing. We were trying everything to force naps to ensure that the dumpling got close to the 15 hour recommendation. She told us that the dumpling would take care of his sleep needs; we just needed to provide the opportunity and environment for sleep.
Now, it’s still a work in progress. Definitely not perfect, but the change has been so nice. He’s falling asleep all on his own most of the time. I no longer have to spend twenty extra minutes after each night nursing to rock him; I can just put him back in his Rock ‘n’ Play. He’s sleeping longer stretches on occasion too and I firmly believe it’s because he can fall asleep on his own (and therefore no longer absolutely needs us when he wakes between sleep cycles). He’s doing really well and I am so proud of him.
So yeah, it’s going to be tough leaving him. I feel like we picked a good day care provider. I think he’ll have fun there and be well cared for. I’m excited to return to work. I’m looking forward to more routine. But I’m also sad to know this chapter is quickly ending. I’m not looking forward to the days I’ll be away from him the longest (I return to teaching my exercise class at the end of the month, but I will start attending class as practice sessions). I know we’ll be stretched a little thinner and we’ll probably flounder a bit as we work through establishing a new routine. But we’ll get there. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy my last few weeks of hanging out with Little Dumpling.