It’s New Years again and that means it’s time for my annual recap of what’s been going on the past twelve months. This was the first year of my son’s life, so as I mentioned in last year’s post, I spent much of the beginning of the year in a dazed state. I couldn’t even tell you how many weeks I spent getting sleep in two hour increments and staying awake from midnight until 4AM. It was a very full year. Good, but hard. I know I have grown as a result, but that growth is still in progress. I can barely believe the year is already over, there’s so much that feels unfinished about 2018, even after taking this look back. Maybe I’ll blame that on the lack of sleep too, it’s hard to say. At least I can say it has been a memorable year. Something happened every single month. Here is an (admittedly lengthy) account of this past year.
January ended with a bit of a scare after baby was exposed to another infant who contracted the flu and had a febrile seizure while we were visiting. It was a traumatic incident for that child’s mother and it left me with a sense of paranoia and dread. We were able to fight off most of the symptoms and kept our tiny baby’s fever under control well enough to avoid the hospital, but it made me anxious about being left alone.
February made that feeling worse when a door-to-door salesman decided that me asking him to leave on Tuesday because the dog was barking and the baby was crying meant he should come back on Wednesday and wander the exterior of the house to list areas his company could repair. I found footsteps coming up to the back door after baby and I got up from a nap, along with another advertisement stuck in the door jam. I probably could have called the cops, since it made me feel pretty unsafe, but instead I called my mom up and ordered a video doorbell so I could send salesmen away in the future. I’m sure other things happened in February, but most of my days were just the general struggle of getting enough sleep and enough to eat for the two of us, while my husband readjusted to a work schedule.
March was the month I went back to work. I decided to go back full-time, although I was allowed to work from home one day a week. I got back just when a large portion of the department was taking accrued vacation, so there were plenty of small odds and ends to work on to get myself back up to speed. Pretty soon I realized that juggling my schedule of pumping and having to be awake at more consistent times was not going to be so simple. I don’t do well cognitively or mood-wise when I don’t get enough sleep.
April was my attempt to get back to a sense of normal. We started doing things again, like going out to movies with friends, attending church, and I tried to do more blogging and social media. (Though I didn’t hit “publish” on most of the posts on here, I spent more time learning to use Instagram.) I also tried to reframe my feelings of inadequacy as I struggled to feel competent at coding after so many months off by realizing I have leadership skills that are just as valuable.
May was more of the same struggle, only even more emotional turmoil. May was the first time I realized I wasn’t feeling like my normal self from an emotional standpoint. I overreacted to a lot of unimportant things. I started to wonder if the hormonal changes postpartum were suddenly catching up with me. I really wish I would have pursued that inkling more at the time, but I let myself get too busy and concentrated on taking care of other people instead of noticing the signs that I needed to prioritize myself.
June was extra busy prepping for things like my sister’s wedding and my parents’s departure (complicating my childcare, since my mom had been watching my son four days a week). It was a beautiful month, even though it was busy. We got to use the pool more than the previous two years combined.
July almost included a vacation, both sets of parents had invited us to join them and our siblings for trips that I worried I wouldn’t really be able to enjoy, or relax during. Instead, we stayed home over the long Holiday weekend and spent some time enjoying our town and our family. The dog even got in on the action (where he wouldn’t have been able to join us on either trip out of town). It was nice at the time, but work was still overwhelming as I struggled to prove to myself that I was as resilient as I always thought.
August really got the better of me. Friends and collegues wound up making me feel less and less valuable, especially upon their own departure for self-described “bigger and better things” that made me feel as if they looked down on my decision to stay. I was falling apart emotionally because the support system I had built of friends from work was steadily disappearing and feeling more and more incompetent as a mother, the more I tried to return to “normal” life. I finally had to quit a bunch of things that I definitely thought were worthwhile to be doing, but couldn’t manage to balance. Work was not one of those things, instead it was the one constant that I felt I needed to prove myself responsible enough to stick with.
September came as a weird respite. My parents came back to town and I was moved onto a team where I had no time to code, so I had to stop feeling inadequate. I was trusted with the training of a group of team members and the opportunity to solidify the on-boarding process, something I had worked on designing and implementing before my maternity leave. It felt good to be needed and recognized for doing good work, after beating myself up for so long. I missed coding though, so I worked at night at learning a popular framework, to recapture the thrill of learning and problem solving that I hadn’t felt in a long time. I even got the opportunity to give a speech at an online symposium. Training and working at night turned out to be a lot more direct, hands-on work than I expected and once I completed that cohort, I was beginning to feel quite burnt out. Being away from the baby during the day and trying to do things for myself at night was making me regret missing out on quality time while he was still small.
October was the beginning of my work on a new team, so I was intent on making a fresh start where I could make a new impression on my teammates with the quality of my work. I made it through two weeks with them before taking a week off to catch up on all the things I had been neglecting. So many things at home that had been piling up on my todo list, along with some really good quality time with my son (and my pup).
November feels like it is barely over and here we are already at the end of December. I think between the Holidays the end of the year has been almost as big of a blur as the beginning of the year. I really couldn’t tell you much of what happened in the past six weeks beyond regular work, celebrating every Holiday at least twice (once per side of the family), and the baby learning to walk. Have I forgotten to mention that. All along the way there have been so many milestones of progress in the growth of our one year old. His little blossoming personality has been the constant throughout all this change and turmoil. He’s also the source of a lot of the struggle, so it’s a good thing he’s very much worth it. I’m happy to go into the new year looking forward to another one watching him grow, and growing myself as I learn how to be his mother.