Baby & Body: 11 & 12 month updates

We did it! We kept her alive for a whole year! And she’s even turning out kind of awesome! I say all the time that she is actually the best little baby ever. She’s hilarious, bright, tough, laid back, and really fricken’ cute. We know that we won the baby lottery and gush about it all the time. Lucky, lucky, lucky.

Physical growth hasn’t been as “leaps and bounds” lately as it had been for the first 9 months or so when every weigh-in is a shocker. Mainly because once they start crawling and walking they burn more calories and don’t plump up as much. As of her last clinic visit on May 1 (for her 12-month vaccinations) she is 28” long, and 20 lbs 10 oz.

The major developmental milestones from the last (9 & 10 month) update have pretty much carried over, with walking and talking being the biggest elements. Walking was funny: at 10 months we were convinced that she’d be on the move any day – and for sure be independently walking before she turned 1. Way back in Mexico, she was standing all the time and starting to let go of the furniture or come to a standing position in the middle of the room, and it seemed like she was soooooo close to taking steps. But no. She cruised, she stood, she wobbled, she lurched, but she did not properly walk any hands-free steps until the 11th month, and then she hung out in the two or three steps and fall down phase FOREVER. Finally, at 12 months and 3 days, she toddled down the hallway of her dayhome (12 steps!!) into Charlene’s waiting arms. Not mine or her dad’s, or even Grandma’s, but Charlene’s. It was such a long time coming and evidently, she just couldn’t wait ONE MORE HOUR for me to pick her up for the weekend. At least Charlene took video, which was very cute footage because Sloane seemed so pleased with herself.

Speaking of Charlene, Sloane absolutely loves her dayhome and I’m so happy, because it was a decision I really sweated. Before finding the dayhome she is at, I wasn’t totally satisfied with any of the options I had looked into and looked at. Every tour made me want to cry at some point, and I’d always feel awful driving away. When I left Charlene’s, I didn’t feel like crying at all – so I took that as a very good sign. While I was leaning towards the more homey, cozy, feel of dayhomes (and the handful of kids as opposed to, like, 90) I had my hesitations about them being maybe too unregulated. Luckily, what we found is a bit of a hybrid. It’s a house, just a few blocks from us, but it’s overseen by a company that hires, trains and regularly checks in on the caregiver and environment. They provide all the resources, toys, curriculum, planning, admin support, groceries, etc. so that the caregiver’s only job is to focus on the children. Our caregiver was a pediatric nurse in the Philippines and is super sweet with the kids. She is also incredibly organized and structured, so you feel confident that she has a solid grip on caring for up to 6 babies at a time. Plus, they use this AMAZING app called Tadpoles that sends photos, videos and daily reports to our phones, so we can see what she’s doing throughout the day. It’s so awesome to see every snack, meal, nap and activity photo-documented.

And speaking of speaking, Sloane’s vocabulary keeps growing, so far it includes:

-that? (what is that?)

-That. (I want that)

-THAT!THAT!THAT! (GIVE ME THAT RIGHT NOW I WANT TO EAT IT ALL NOW, I SAID NOW BITCH, NOW!)

-numnumnumnum

-quack quack

-Nenna (Gemma – but many things are Nenna: bunnies, furry pillows)

-up up!

-down

-ta (please and thank you)

-cup

-boobas (yup, boobs, also accompanied by hand gestures and a general air of desperation)

-titty (surprise, this one means kitty)

-dada

-momma

-mum mum (baby rice crackers)

-papa (my dad….and my mom – she’s a bit confused on this. They are both Papa)

-night night

-goo gurl (good girl – accompanied by clapping)

-ball

-puppa (puppy)

-diaper

-uh oh

What else? She still wants to touch everything. She likes to feel things of different textures and is particularly fond of trees, pinecones, sweaters, doorknobs, Gemma, Velcro, and textured paintings. Where she could take them or leave them before, she has now gotten into stuffies. At bed/nap time she’s always snuggled her “bunny lovey” which we now have 3 of – 1 at home, 1 at dayhome and 1 at Grandma’s – to avoid a potentially catastrophic loss. She’s also just now discovered the other ten or so animals inhabiting her room. One of her favourite games is what we call “Ark” which entails dragging all of her animals into the boat (baby bathtub) in her room, and climbing in herself, of course. She likes to high-five, cheer, blow kisses, wave and give real kisses now…which vary between slobbery, open-mouthers and dry pecks with loud “mwah!” sound effects.

The only thing new with me is that my boobs started to seem like they were sort of coasting towards retirement. Since I was returning to work a couple weeks before Sloane turned 1, nursing has gone down to 2-3 times a day (always morning and bedtime, and sometimes a bonus “happy hour” session if she asked for it). I’ve had isolated days of lower supply before, but currently it’s a more sustained “bottom of the milk carton” kind of feeling. Which stands to reason – I’m only needed twice a day instead of the ten (or more) times I started out at. At the same time, she isn’t really fond of drinking whole (cow) milk…so we’re trying to make sure she gets lots of calcium, fat and vitamin D through other sources. The clinic said as long as she’ll take her D supplement and eat “a little bit of cheese and yogurt” it’s fine…which made me laugh because when it comes to Sloane’s eating habits, especially yogurt and cheese, there is no such thing as “a little bit”. 

Baby & Body: 9/10 month updates

Ignoring my now typical tardiness, I believe we left off with the rapid succession of sitting up to army crawling to proper crawling and lastly to pulling up to standing, back in late December and early January. Looking back at texts and pictures to confirm the timeline (because I seemingly can’t cast my mind back a mere 6 weeks) it seems that by mid January, standing had become the norm along with cruising the furniture. By far, her favourite pastime in this era is cruising the coffee tables, couches and ottoman, looking for remotes, iPads, game controllers, Kindles and iPhones. If I unleashed her in a Radio Shack she’d be happy for days. Actual toys? For suckers. Books, at least, have retained their appeal and she loves pulling them all off the shelves and flipping through them on her own. It is one of my favourite sights.

Although everything I’ve read suggests that, at this age, baby babble is just that – phonetic babble that is not intentional language or use of words – I beg to differ. This is the month she started using mom (momomomom) and dad (dadadadada) in the proper contexts and specifically directed at us. Also, more rarely, hihihihi, byebyebye, kitty and cup. She made the meanings very clear by complementing the words with her other new obsession: pointing. She used this funny crooked pointer finger – never quite straight, but accusatory nonetheless. She particularly enjoyed when we would reach out and touch our finger to hers, E.T style. Moving closer to the 10 month mark, she started pointing at objects saying, “that?!” as in, asking us what the object is called. And trust me, she wants to know what EVERYTHING is called. All day long. That is a cat. That is a doorknob, that is a carbon monoxide detector, that is a scratch on the coffee table, that is the metal thingy that the door knob latches into. That is mommy’s wine bottle.

We enrolled in another session of Rhyme & Reason this month in which she actually fell into the proper age group (8 to 18 months) whereas last time she was added to the group at just 5 months old due to low enrollment in her own age category. Of course, this was far less “successful” than the first time around when she was totally engrossed in the songs, stories and hand motions. This time, she just wanted to roam, manhandle other babies and get into everything. At any rate, she left each class happy and exhausted, so it has to get chalked up as a win, even if I largely felt a bit silly sitting in a circle, clapping and bouncing by myself

A sad thing about her new inability to stay still was that around the second week of January we had to cut out letting her come sleep in our bed after her first early morning feeding. She was just too wiggly and wily and wouldn’t settle back down with us. She was constantly scaling our bodies and trying to hurl herself headfirst off the bed, instead of drifting off holding our hands. Sadly, I had to start putting her back in her own crib for an hour or two more of solo sleep. Otherwise, sleep was smooth and naptimes really stabilized with a 10 or 10:30 morning nap and a 2:30 or 3 afternoon nap.

And then we went to Mexico. We left at the very end of January when she was just over 9 months and the flight took a little more work than it used to to keep her happy and quiet. She just wants to stand and crawl, which makes it feel a bit like a 5 hour alligator wrestling match with all the thrashing, grabbing and splashing (of sippy cups). Overall though, she did quite well and received many compliments on her good behaviour from relieved fellow travelers.

Puerto Vallarta really agreed with her, even though it was at times a bit of a pain in the ass for us (narrow, cobblestone roads; a lack of serviceable highchairs). She loved the swimming pools and the hot tub (it was a cool one), especially with the inflatable duck floaty that grandma and grandpa picked up for her. The mere sight of Ducky resulted in so much flailing and screaming that we had to strategically hide it and carry it around out of her sight so she didn’t lose her mind if we weren’t immediately headed to the pool. She loved Mexican food including chorizo tacos, queso, guacamole, and could absolutely pack away the refried beans. She always enjoys restaurants and people-watching so the whole cadence of our aimless days spent wandering around, snacking, drinking and sightseeing suited her perfectly. It didn’t hurt that she was being squeezed, cooed at and fawned over everywhere we went by all the friendly old ladies and young gay men (and a few young gay men in friendly old lady drag.) As much fun as she had, she also slept exceptionally well, but a bit un predictably. With extra long morning and afternoon naps and solid long nights. I was often finding myself waking up significantly before her, for maybe the first time ever, which was a nice feeling to be able to wake up on my own without having to bolt right out of bed and get to work.

There were a few lows among all these highs. She was sick a couple of times, with a minor cold the first couple days of our trip that didn’t seem to faze her and then a more chesty, rattly cough the last couple days that really knocked her out for an entire day that she spent the vast majority of napping. Luckily the gym had a wet sauna so we went there pre-bed and got a lot of…stuff…out of her. That cough went away and then about a week after we got home it came back. Sick babies suck because there’s nothing you can really give them to feel better, other than a humidifier and snuggles. The only upside to come out of this last round of sickness was the one morning when Andrew didn’t have the heart to put her back in her crib and she ended up being calm (weak, haha) enough to come sleep in our bed for a couple hours.

More to come in separate posts about feeding, Mr. T, and another random rant. Soon. For reals.

Baby & Body: 8 month update

Today* is perhaps not the day I should begin to draft this update, as the babe was up at 3:30, 4:45 and finally 7:15…and I am feeling, how shall we say, less than charitable towards parenting at the moment. Teething, developmental leaps, holiday schedule disruptions and nap transitions all suck for sleep.

Let’s take those menaces one by one, since that’s the only way my brain can function enough to type at this point. Especially since coffee has been making me a bit too anxious lately to be worth the much-needed caffeine jolt.

Teething – as previously mentioned, the bottom two came in without much ado, but the next ones (assumed to be top two) are not coming without a fight. After realizing that I had given her a single bedtime dose of Tylenol more nights in a 2 week period than I hadn’t, I grabbed some hippie shit from the pharmacy to make myself (and hopefully her, of course) feel better. The Camillia liquid does seem to help, while the Hyland’s gel doesn’t seem to make much difference. Wrapping a crushed ice bundle in a washcloth and securing it with a hair elastic is her current favourite teething toy and provides good daytime relief. All her problems (like all of ours, I’d say) seem worse as she is trying to go to sleep, so that’s when we break out the medicinal guns. Or we wake up at, say, 3:30 with a whiny baby grabbing at her mouth and ears.

Developmental leaps – first came actual, proper, crawling on hands and knees, then came trying to sit up on her own. I mean, she has been sitting up without assistance for a while but I’m talking about getting to a sitting position on her own. This, she clumsily started and then perfected in about 2 days. It’s enjoyable in that it gives her more independence and options for positions to play in. The downside is that for the first week or so the urge to sit up was so compelling that she would do it constantly – including when she should have been lying down to sleep or when she first stirred upon waking – thus fully keeping her awake instead of allowing her to lounge and resettle. Anyways, this was all very much towards the tail-end of the month so I’ll save the next steps for the next update.

Holiday disruptions – having visitors, having lots of places to be in a day, and plans that extend beyond bedtime are all sleep-killers. Sloane has always been one of those “sleep begets sleep” kind of babies. Meaning that when daytime naps suffer, so too does her nighttime sleep. Which sucks, sure, and I know for most people that nighttime sleep is the holy grail, but honestly, the daytime naps themselves are just as important to me since this is when I get to do fun things like showering, eating and housekeeping. Without naps the whole operation crumbles  Which leads into…

Nap transition – around this age, babies start to transition from 3 naps to 2 naps. I’ve always had a tough time counting Sloane’s naps because she’s always had a bit of a weird morning routine (due to mutually agreed upon laziness) and I’ve paid more attention to her sleepiness cues than the clock when I’ve put her down to nap. This sort of non-routine routine has historically worked well for us. On a good day (which until the last few weeks was called a normal day) she would typically:

-go to bed at 7:30 pm

-wake somewhere between 6 and 8 am to nurse

-fall back to sleep in my bed for a couple hours, typically waking around 9 or 10 am.

-awake for 2 or 3 hours and nap (11 or 12pm?) For an hour or two

-awake for 2 or 3 hours and nap (3 or 4pm?) For an hour or two

-bedtime again.

I guess if you count the first going back to sleep after nursing as a nap, then she was pretty much on a 3-a-day schedule. Which was regular enough for my own flexible needs, but irregular enough to make it tough to plan a bunch of activities or meet-ups with other people, day after day – which was a challenge over the holidays with visiting family and various events. A situation compounded by the fact that she was sometimes skipping or “cat-napping” (or crap-napping?) one or more of her usual nap times. Making me question whether she needed a bedtime adjustment and/or to consolidate the 3 naps into 2 longer naps with longer awake times between them. Sometimes that worked out great and other times not at all, which I think will be the case until she eventually adjusts into the 2-a-day habit. An adjustment that just wasn’t happening with people rattling about the house and us running all over Hell’s half-acre. We’ll see how she goes as life returns to normal…for a few weeks until we go to Mexico for 2 weeks. Oh boy.

What else? Food…the slow mo intro to solids has picked up momentum. While she’s still nursing 4 or 5 times a day, she’s also now eating solids at two meals – it varies a bit. She will now eat almost anything you put in front of her or in her mouth. I have a few frozen purees that I pull out from time to time and do buy the odd pouch or jar of food (gasp! I know) but for the most part, she is eating what we’re eating, either in whole or in part. Or sometimes in semi-mash. I feel like this entire feeding topic may be a whole other post so I will leave it at that for now.

As for me, I have nothing to say for myself that you haven’t already heard. This may be the worlds longest post-partum plateau and I’m okay with it. Teeth have definitely added an element of danger to the nursing game these days, although she is yet to properly bite me. Yet. There were a couple light bite downs that were not great, and an overall general scrapiness that is not totally delightful. But, it’s OK so far. I’m still not feeling terribly energetic these days, and to that end it seems about time to get back on top of taking some of the supplements that have helped in the past. Maca being one that really helped when I was in the first trimester. And still more water. If I could get a weekly saline IV drip, I would.

One of the best things about this month is that Sloane has started to act like she really likes me. I mean, I know I’m her mom and she is bonded to me because she needs me…but now it’s like she really likes me – getting so excited when I enter a room or come home and reaching for me or crawling to me for some love at regular intervals. It’s nice to know the feeling is mutual. And big baby smiles go a long way when you are so tired you put the milk away in the pantry.

*as always, today is not really today, as it takes me a few to write a post. So fear not, this zombie day is behind me and baby has actually resumed napping properly since we have returned to normal post-holiday life.

Baby & Body: months 6 & 7 update

In not blogging for just over a month I missed an entire month’s update and cruised right on by the next one too – hence, the combined update. And you know, I can’t even be bothered to be apologetic about it because life has just been too damn much lately between travelling two weeks in a row and being sick twice in a row (one quick but brutal stomach bug, one bastard of a cold).

While Sloane thankfully missed out on the stomach virus, she was the one who gave me the cold, and a sick baby is no fun at all–less so when you are sick yourself. She’s been sleeping like crap because she can’t breathe through her nose (which means she also can’t suck her thumb to self-soothe) and (I’m guessing from my own symptoms) she’s also had a sore throat and headache. Good thing grape flavoured baby Tylenol turned out to be her poison.

Sickness aside, big changes these past two months include the arrival of the first tooth on November 6, followed up by the second one a couple weeks later for a cute little bottom middle set. Teething this time around didn’t seem to cause a lot of grief as both teeth sort of popped out as a bit of a surprise to me. At her 6 month check-up and vaccination appointment (which was actually right on her 6 month birthday) she weighed in at 17.5 lbs and 26 inches tall. I’d guess by now she is up to about 19 lbs and at least an inch taller.

She also became a highly proficient roller and wriggler and went from okay to leave unattended for a few moments to “can’t take your eyes off her for a second” in a matter of days. Like most healthy, red-blooded babies, she has a death wish and is magnetically drawn to hazards big and small. Current dark obsessions include pulling the floor lamp to the ground, yanking the CO detector out of the wall and/or sticking fingers in the now empty socket, scouring the ground for loose change and buttons to choke on, reaching fragile limbs into the mechanism of the gliding chair, rolling towards the top of the stairs, grabbing at cat whiskers, and sleeping face down in the mattress. Close to the 7 month birthday mark she made big strides towards crawling with a sort of rudimentary army-crawl, belly-slither technique that greatly increased her speed in reaching her death trap of choice. Fun!

Long story short, time inside the house can be a bit of a nightmare at the moment – with not a lot of safe space for her to explore before I have to redirect her from danger. Rescuing her every 20 seconds (and often pissing her off in the process) makes for an awfully long day and lots of running back and forth between rooms if I’m trying to do anything else. Imprisoning Safely securing her in a Jolly Jumper or Exersaucer is the only relief, but she only tolerates jail safety for small blocks of time. Although I’m not overly excited about returning to work, I won’t lie: there have been several days in the past couple of months where I have waxed nostalgic for my out-of-the-home job (what a break! how civilized! soooo easy! The grass is noticeably greener at my office!) Time outside the house is loads of fun though, as she’s always happy to be gawking at things and socializing with every passerby. Particularly if said passerby is a boy/man. She loves dudes and beards, so this whole hipster era is really working out well for her/us. We flew to Toronto to visit my brother and his kids and Sloane was happy as a clam to be out Bjorning or strolling all day long, riding the subways and streetcars and hanging out in restaurants. Similarly, when we took her to Banff shortly afterwards, the hotel, pub and outdoor swimming pool life suited her perfectly (until she got sick – and with the exception of the first night in the terrifying, rickety, possibly-haunted, hotel-provided crib).

The other big development was our slow-out-of-the-gate introduction to solid food. Because of her healthy size and appetite for boob, I had incorrectly assumed that she would be stoked to eat some real food at the recommended 6 month mark. Nope. She just wasn’t that into it. If I tricked her into getting some food in her mouth, she would begrudgingly swallow it, but she had no real interest and wouldn’t eagerly open her mouth for much. I have to say, this didn’t bother me in the least. If she had been being selective or picky it may have (I have issues with picky eaters and dread having one) but because she was just altogether uninterested, I figured she just wasn’t there yet. Every other milestone she’s hit of her own volition and in her own good time, and I figured when the time was more right she’d let me know. I still kept offering solids (kind of half-assedly) but it was more of a token effort to keep up the exposure than to actually accomplish any feeding. Then, right around the 7 month mark, she was suddenly into it. She’s still mainly a boob girl, but will pretty much try anything I give her and is definitely more excited about it all.

As for me, I’m tempted to take a pass on commenting at the moment. I went through a phase where I was feeling really good about myself (maybe the best I ever have) but now that I’m coming off of 3 weeks of travel, sickness and loads of one-on-one time with Sloane I just feel worn out. One of those “sick and tired of being sick and tired” kind of phases where it shows on your face, in your posture and in your attitude – but I know that it is just the sick and tired talking, not a lasting state of mind. Nothing a few good sleeps, a gallon of water, an industrial humidifier, a vat of eye cream, a lb of concealer, a babysitter, and professional lighting can’t take care of.

Like a champ

I knew from the night before last when she was running her little hands back and forth across the crib bars like a convict with a tin cup that our baby had the soul and grit of a prisoner.

Night two of exile, she resigned herself to her fate. After a couple of back-patting reassurance visits around 9 and 10 ish, and a weird, but amusing, laughing/gleeful squealing before self-soothing episode around 11, she slept right through until 7 am. Special shout-out to my Sharper Image sound machine and its “surf’s up” setting.

She is such a good little baby.  And thank god, because her stupid parents tried to stay up to watch the WSOP final table (and failed since it went on until 5 am).

Exile island

Remember that game-changing twist in Survivor where they banished a contestant to a separate camp, alone, away from the tribe? That’s what we did with our daughter last night. Yup, she spent her first night in her real crib, in her own room. While I’ve heard many moms say they looked forward to getting baby out of their bedroom, I can’t say I shared this sentiment. What can I say, I’m a “keep your enemies close” kinda gal.

She’s been napping in there for months, so she’s “used to it”, but night time is a whole different ballgame, apparently. It was pretty fussy going from about 9 pm until about 1 am, although we’ve been dealing with some new night-waking issues off and on for the past couple of weeks (more on that in the next monthly update) so it’s hard to say if the switch of venue was entirely to blame. In fact, we had sort of decided that recently we were most likely waking her up at night with our ramblings and rumblings as much as the other way around, which was part of the reasoning for the transition away from our room.

I couldn’t leave her in total isolation, so we assigned a kitty cat “lovey” and a mermaid to the task, while mom slept with the stuffed mouse and the monitor.

I’m willing to chalk this one up as a win. After one last comfort feeding around 10:30 (she had gone down at 7:20), we would just go in and rub her back and talk to her every so often when she fussed (which was about every half hour until 1ish) and she would resettle. And then she slept. Until my husband got her up at 6:30 and brought her back to bed with me, where she belongs.

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Dayscare

Shortly after I had Sloane I had my first freak-out about how fleeting maternity leave is. It was May 8, I had a 13 day old baby and it was already 1/12 over. That’s 8 percent done. Which seemed like an awfully big number in that moment. After that, every time I thought about going back to work I felt the anxiety squeeze my rib cage, quicken my breathing and send my pulse skyrocketing. So I made a deal with myself: I wouldn’t deal with daycare or even think about it until she was 6 months old. I deserved 6 months of burying my head in the sand.

Alas, just a couple weeks ago I decided it was finally time to face the music.

In an absolutely ideal scenario, I wouldn’t have to go back to work until Sloane was at least in pre-school, if not Kindergarten. Sadly, there are no Rockefellers in my family tree. In the second-to-ideal scenario, I could at least put off the inevitable until she turns 2. Still no Rockefellers. In the third-best situation, we would hire Mary Poppins herself to care for Sloane while I returned to work part-time. Sadly,  a no-go. In the fourth-to-ideal scenario, we put her in the care of a normal, reasonably priced daycare or day home while I return to work 4 days a week (3 if I can swing it without risking my job or losing too much of my salary in the deal). So this is where we are – and fourth best isn’t too bad when I’m well aware that there are about a thousand much less desirable scenarios that many less-lucky-than-me moms cope with. We are supremely lucky in myriad ways, not the least of which being that we live in a country with 12 month maternity leave, and that living with my reduced EI salary  for a full year is totally do-able.

Back to complaining. It’s not that I don’t want to work, but that I want to take care of my baby more. It’s not about mommy guilt or being overprotective. I do believe that there are plenty of qualified caretakers out there, I do want her to meet and socialize with a variety of people, and I don’t feel guilty about going back to work per se – I just like being with my kid. It really is that simple. But I do like what I do for a living and I won’t lie – there are things about going back to work that are incredibly appealing…like eating 2 meals a day without having to attend to a baby. Drinking coffee while it’s still hot. Not getting puked on. In fact, an average day at my office sounds like a vacation compared to the effort it takes to spend 12+ hours a day solely responsible for child care. So no, I don’t want to stay home because it’s easy – but because it’s important, rewarding, fun and meaningful work. Sometimes advertising is too (a lot of the time it’s not) but at no point has it (or will it ever be) more important to me than Sloane. Duh.

However, I also like earning a wage and contributing financially to the household. It would be a switch to rely on somebody else for my pocket money and while in theory I understand that it is “our” money, it’s something that I still struggle to get my head around. We’ve always been more of a “both parties kick in the cash” than a “let’s throw it all in a pool together” kind of couple, with our own credit cards and separate bank accounts. Obviously, our household contributions aren’t financially equal, given the grand canyon between our salaries, but it works somehow. If he’s paying the big Costco tab, I’m picking up the daily Safeway bill. If he’s paying rent, I’m paying the utilities (except when I forget, as you may recall.) Plus I like to think that what I lack in funds I make up for in sweat equity – like cooking the majority of the meals and keeping our daughter alive. And while I don’t mind using his (our) money to pay for the necessities of life, I would feel quite silly spending it at Sephora or to fund my Kindle one-click payment bills. Anyways, these are all secondary musings to the issue at hand. Daycare. See how good I am at avoiding it?

In my head (and often, out of my mouth) the story goes that I have to go back to work. That I don’t really have a choice. But of course there is a choice. I could choose not to go back to to work for a couple of years, putting the burden on my husband to be the sole income earner. We could skip vacations and cut back on evenings and meals out. We could keep renting where we are, indefinitely, or move to a more affordable neighbourhood in the suburbs that we don’t really love. We could get rid of one of our vehicles. There are lots of things we could do to financially cushion that decision. But would any of those things make me a happier mom? Make for a better marriage? Help us maintain a fun lifestyle and household? Reduce our daily stress? Increase our joy?

No. Which means that none of these things are ultimately what’s best for Sloane either. So even though the choice is ours to make, it would be foolish to make a choice that didn’t take the overall happiness of our whole family into account.

That decided, it’s time to get into the nitty gritty of choosing a childcare provider. Do you go daycare? Day home? Licensed? Approved? Private? What do all these things even mean?! Thankfully, I am a doggedly determined researcher, so sifting through all of the information and options is right up my alley – my lack of time to do so, notwithstanding.

There are so many pluses and minuses on both sides of the daycare/day home debate. On one hand for example, I like the structure, supervision and accountability of a daycare. But on the other hand, I don’t love the germs, the number of kids, the chaos and the institutional feel. And while day homes may be more cozy, attentive and personal, you have to be even more diligent about background checks, references, and experience/qualifications. With one caregiver in charge and no other adults watching to create “checks and balances” for proper conduct, you want to be damn sure you’ve chosen wisely. You want safety and security most of all…but you also want fun, stimulation and love to be a huge part of it. And then of course there is price to consider…it has to be worth going back to work, especially since I’m not dying to do so strictly for my own fulfillment.

So far we have visited (and waitlisted for) one daycare, with another one on the agenda for tomorrow morning. I only almost cried once (maybe twice) the first go-round, so I’m slowly building confidence in my ability to get through this with the appearance of being a sane, emotionally stable adult.