This time last year, we’d just taken Finlaggan to San Diego for a long weekend. Going back to work after that was much more difficult than going back after his first 6 weeks. For one, we probably bonded better in San Diego than before: there was more interaction between us, I was in less pain, we did many things together like going to parks and museums, and I carried him everywhere in a wrap. I think that trip really cemented our relationship as mother and son1, and made up for the too-short “maternity leave”2.
So going back to work again that week was tough on all of us. I have to write this down while I remember and while we’re both still happily married: Patrick is the most awesome spouse/partner/co-parent who I could possibly hope to have. His dedication to making it work for all of us led to me keeping my job, him taking the next few years off his own career, and us not having to struggle to balance baby-work-life.
Alright, back to my son, who is the only reason you3 stopped by today!
We’d already established early on that our son is a very sweet boy when he’s not hungry, gassy, sleepy, over-stimulated etc etc. And when conditions for prime-Finlaggan-ness are met, this is our reward. This is possibly the best photo we have that completely captures the burgeoning personality of Finlaggan.
He really nailed the whole push-up thing in San Diego, and continued to practice it everywhere. Everywhere being home and my office.
We started going to our local park as soon as we got home from our 2 day stay in the hospital. This would horrify most new parents and grandparents, who on the whole don’t go out much in the first week or so. But we had decided that if Fin was healthy and we could find the right baby carrier, we would go out everyday with him even if only to walk the dog. We’ve never regretted it. Just going outside instantly calms him down when he’s having a tantrum or bad spell, even now.
Finlaggan’s first vaccinations went as well as could be expected. Minimal crying during and after, helped greatly by our pediatric nurse’s great skill and speed. The only evidence: tweety bird and snoopy plasters!
Most new parents would document the date and time of every achievement of developmental milestones. We completely failed to4, what with being somewhat overwhelmed, and are lucky enough to have been trigger-happy at times to know that he could make a fist, like so.
And watch his fruit mobile. The giraffe and fruit mobile were excellent hand-me-downs from our ex-neighbours, who have gone back to Europe and who we miss. This reminds me that I completely failed to write thank you notes after Fin’s birth for all the really useful gifts from fellow parents.
1 As opposed to baby and food source. Prior to having Fin, it had not occurred to me, nor had I read about how the mother’s ego is usurped by the baby for the first few weeks. Some people may be fine with it, but they probably make more oxytocin than I do.
2 6 weeks is the legal requirement in the US. It’s too short. It will have implications for the mental health and development of the coming generation. While on this topic, I’m still really annoyed with our HR department for their unpleasant treatment during my maternity leave. While our university has a system in place, it’s not well publicised and they spent more time telling me what I did wrong and threatening me with negative consequences than helping me follow the system. Being a postdoc doesn’t help since most administrators view postdocs as an unnecessary evil in research universities, who cause them more trouble than they are worth. Let’s not get into this now; a post may follow in future years when I’m no longer a postdoc and can discuss the discrimination more rationally and objectively. But let me just state for the record that I am unimpressed by how administrators view and treat postdocs, especially those with “awkward circumstances”, like having kids or being foreign, and this is not unique to me or even my current university. The system is broken, and it suits universities to keep it broken.
3 You being Fin’s grandparents…. To the rest of you loyal blog readers, sorry…. This has turned into a look-at-my-cute-baby blog. But I can’t help it. Finlaggan is great!
4 One of his first deliberately used words/phrases was “Uh-oh”. And I can’t remember when he said it! Also can’t remember when he started saying Mama or “Em” for milk (with hand sign). I guess it’s enough to vaguely remember that “Uh-oh” came before Mama…