Black Eye :(

redacted shinerMy baby has a black eye.  I mean that in the literal sense, not that his reputation was besmirched or anything like that.

I‘m told that he climbed onto a basket (toys are kept in plastic baskets at daycare) and fell off the basket, face-first onto a block.  Apparently there was blood and crying.  Daycare called my husband, who went there and checked on Punkie.  Then my husband called me and told me what happened.  He also tried to warn me that he seemed alright but it looked bad.

I know getting a shiner was very painful for Punkie and being injured for the first time (aside from a couple of bruises) was probably very scary for him.  But he’s okay now.  He was a little clingy for a few days, but he really is okay now.

Now that I know he’s okay, I can admit that this whole episode was very upsetting to me, on several levels.  First, my baby was hurt.  I regret very much that someone else, not me, was there to comfort him and clean him up.  This is a really emotional thing for me, I guess.

Second, I didn’t know until my husband had gone to daycare and then called me.  So, the kid’s mother is the last one to know that Punkie is bleeding from the eye.  We had considered this type of situation when we chose this daycare.  We knew that this daycare was highly recommended and that it was very close to one of us during the day and that one of us could be there quickly if needed.  It all made such logical sense in the abstract.  When Punkie hurt himself, everything went as we had planned . . . and that, it turns out, feels terrible.

Three, I can’t stand that I’m so upset with myself over this – the kid is fine.  For real.  And here I am, three days later, still stewing over it and whining on my blog.  Look at the photo I posted above – he’s smiling.  That photo was taken 3 hours after the injury happened and he’s smiling.  How serious could the injury be?  Serious enough to make me a nut case, apparently.

Oh, but why is he smiling, you ask?  This brings us full circle to my first point – he’s smiling because his mommy (me) picked him up from daycare that day and he wanted nothing more than to be hugged and held by her.  And I wasn’t there when it happened – someone else was.  Someone who doesn’t love him cleaned up the blood, held ice on his face, and snuggled with him.

The good news is that he’s okay now.  He has a shiner that my dad can have a good laugh over (“[Punkie] is a boxer for Halloween,” “you should see the other guy,” etc.) and it’ll be a topic of fond conversation in the (distant) future, when we all look back at the photos from my sister’s wedding and see a smiling, black-eyed baby in a bow tie.

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Champion Power Napper?

Punkie is exhaustedPunkie isn’t sleeping enough.  During the week, he just doesn’t sleep much at daycare.  For example, he slept for 20 minutes yesterday and less than 45 the day before.  Sometimes in the evening, before bedtime, he abruptly stops playing and just lays down on the floor (like in this photo).  By the weekend, he is usually completely wiped out and he tends to take marathon naps to catch up.

And he isn’t sleeping all that wonderfully at night.  Some nights, he is excellent – he sleeps straight through to the alarm.  A lot of other nights, though, he wakes up yelling or, if he sleeps through, he wakes up ready to start his day one or two hours before the alarm.  We’re talking before 4AM, people.

The small amount of sleep would be fine if he seemed to be doing okay, but he’s really tired.  The poor guy is tuckered out.

What’s happening is that, during the day at daycare, they don’t have the time or ability to sit with him until he falls asleep.  He seems to need that in order to fall asleep.  On a weekend, if I sit with him for maybe 10 minutes when he’s tired, he’ll fall asleep and stay asleep for an hour or more.  At daycare, he’s now one of the older babies and the staff is spending time with younger babies who just need more attention.  For a while, daycare insisted on swaddling him (an 8 month old baby), even though I told them to stop, probably because of this very issue.

And, to add insult to injury, they called him the champion of the power nap.  Really?  Obviously there is a problem here and it just makes it worse when they make light of it.

Not to take a snarky detour here, but the newer crop of young babies seem to be especially needy.  In fact, at least two of them are screaming every time my husband picks Punkie up or drops him off.  Does the poor kid listen to screaming every day?  This can’t be good for him – it must be very stressful to listen to that continuously all day.  And what kind of impact does that have on him?  I have no idea.

This is really breaking my heart.  Often, I wonder if I should quit my job and stay home with him so he gets what he needs.  The staff at daycare are really nice women who seem very, very fond of Punkie, but they just aren’t his mother.  But, if I stayed home with him, WOULD he get what he needs?  He would lack the social interaction that he really seems to enjoy.

I wonder if this kind of guilt and second guessing is felt by all working moms.

Maybe this is a problem with this particular daycare, but I suspect it’s like this everywhere.  The state mandates one staff member for every 4 babies, so the daycares in our area all staff 1:4.  We’d have to hire a nanny to have a smaller ratio.  When we originally set up child care for Punkie, I opted for a daycare because of the lower cost and because I was concerned about one person being alone with Punkie all day without any supervision – a nanny can be wonderful, but another nanny can abuse, neglect, or injure your child.

My husband and I recently toured another daycare that was highly recommended by one of my husband’s colleagues.  I think we’re going to switch when an opening is available at the new place.  It’s so unclear, though, if that’s the right decision.  First, there’s the potential of upsetting Punkie with an abrupt change in his day-to-day routine, baby friends, and teachers.  Second, the grass might not be greener – it’s possible that this daycare has the same issues or, heaven forbid, worse issues.    I just don’t know.

Sandwich Generation?

This week, my mother had surgery.  The surgery itself went well, but the hospital stay has been difficult all around.  I also had a deadline over this weekend and had to work at the office quite a bit.

The most disappointing thing from my standpoint is that I saw Punkie very little this weekend.  On Saturday and Sunday both, I woke up early, went to work, went to the hospital, and ran home to nurse Punkie and put him immediately to bed.  My long-suffering husband had 99% of the responsibility this weekend for caring for the kid.  And he did a wonderful job, but I felt sad, disappointed, and guilty for not spending time with Punkie this weekend – weekends are our quality time.

But the hospital stay has been difficult.  Considering that I didn’t have Punkie until I was 40, his grandparents are older.  The stress of watching out for my mother at the hospital is wearing on my father.  I can see that he’s at his limit for stress and worry, and he’s hard on the hospital staff.  My mother is in pain – she’s not at her best and she’s also been difficult for the hospital staff.  During my visits to the hospital, I saw my sister for the first time since very shortly after Punkie was born and seeing her rekindled a lot of emotions I have around our relationship and the fact that she has shown zero interest in her only nephew, my son.

This experience has me wondering how things will evolve as my parents continue to age.  They’re not easy to help or care for to begin with, and last year they made the decision to move farther away from me and my husband (knowing that we were trying very hard to have Punkie).*

*They’ve said they want to be more involved with Punkie and watch him all day instead of sending him to daycare and, as a result, I’ve put a lot of thought into what it means to commute to their house each day.  Setting aside the fact that they won’t be able to keep up with him physically, I know I just can’t keep the schedule that would be needed to make that happen.  I would have to wake up early, care for Punkie, leave the house by 7:00, drive 40 minutes to their house, leave Punkie, drive 50 minutes to work, work a full day, leave work at 5:30-6, drive 50 minutes to their house, drive 40 minutes home.  The earliest I’d be home at night is 7:20 – I’d never have time to spend with Punkie and I would be even more exhausted.  If I had a deadline or a long day at work, I wouldn’t get home until even later.

If they needed care, we would have to care for them ourselves – I don’t think they can afford a nurse or caretaker (I know I cannot).  And that means I would have almost zero time with Punkie during the week.  If I were to go there after work, I’d leave work at 5:30 (if it’s a slow day, but I often have to leave work later), drive to their house and arrive at 6ish, and then I’d have to leave at 6:30 to be home in time to nurse Punkie.  I know they’ll expect me to keep this schedule at some point in the foreseeable future — this makes me feel (1) angry that they chose to move farther away from me, knowing they were aging and that they would have a grandchild soon, and (2) worried that I won’t be able to physically keep this schedule over time.

I would have to move them closer to me.  And that is a nightmare.  They wouldn’t do it willingly and they named my sister in their power of attorney, so I have no actual control or influence over them.  All I have is a pocket full of their expectations.

The alternative is that I disappoint them.  When push comes to shove, I wonder if I would choose Punkie over my parents.  And I wonder if I can do it all . . . I’m already exhausted.