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”. 

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.