Seven Months Update (November)

Elodie turned seven months old at the beginning of November!

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We started off the month with a country walk! We went down to Surrey on the first Saturday of November for a wet and muddy eight miles.

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We loved being out in the fresh air and had a lovely pub lunch.

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Although by the end of it Elodie just didn’t want to be in the carrier anymore. Now that she is awake and mobile for much of the day, that is just too long for her to be in the carrier. We still had a fun day but until she is walking herself, we probably need to re-think how we do walks/hikes to build in more time for breaks.

But the biggest event of the month was that I went back to work and Elodie started nursery (as day care is known in the UK).

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It was the most monumental change we’ve had since she was born. The only thing making it bearable is that I am back at work part-time, three days a week. Even though millions of other women go back full-time (and in America, go back a lot sooner than I did), I can’t imagine doing that right now and I’m lucky I have the flexibility.

Given that Elodie won’t take a bottle and it’s so hard to get her to nap, I couldn’t imagine leaving her all day every day. Honestly, three days a week is really hard as it us. Up until her first day of nursery, I had never been apart from her for more than two hours at a time, and I had never been further away from her than a few blocks. Also, on all those occasions, if she wasn’t with me, she was with Andy (except the time Grandma Jill babysat her for an evening in Florida). 

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Prior to my first week of work, we had a week of “settling in” at the nursery, where I took her there to visit, got to know the staff and her key worker, Ana. The first day, I stayed there with her. The second time, Andy came too and we both dropped her off and  then left her there on her own with them for two hours while we went to a cafe across the road. The third time, I took her on my own and again left her for two hours alone at the nursery with me outside. I’m really glad we did this to help us all get used to it, but even so, that first day, leaving her there for a full day, was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Harder than watching my Dad die and telling my Mom she couldn’t live on her own anymore. Hardest thing ever. I felt so incredibly guilty about it, and so empty without her. She relies on me and she is too little to understand what is going on, why I am gone, and that I’ll be back. I kept picturing her those first few days sitting there at the nursery, wondering where I was and what had happened.

Okay, I still picture that, and I can’t dwell on that, it’s too hard to contemplate.

On that first day both Andy and I took her for drop off, but our normal routine is that he drops her off and I do pick up.

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Of course I cried but I didn’t linger there, it’s best for everyone to move on quickly at drop-off.

Every day has been hard, but it has gotten better. She drinks very little milk there, even though I keep sending in bottles of breastmilk. Some days she drinks a little, some days none. She just hates bottles. So they have been working on getting her to eat more solid food, but that is touch and go as well. The nap situation was really frustrating at first; we know full well she needs at least two naps a day, but since it is hard to help her fall asleep, the staff wasn’t really putting her down at first.

But now, things have gotten better. She has really bonded with her key worker and now when I pick her up, she is happy and well-rested. They tell me she dances and plays and has fun during the day which I am so happy to hear. They help her to nap by putting her in a buggy at nursery and pushing her back and forth in that until she falls asleep. 🙂

The routine is difficult for all of us; I often have to wake her up at 7 so I can feed her before I leave at 7:20, and get to work by 8 am, then I race through the day and leave work by 4:45 to get her by 5:30. At nursery, after I talk to the key worker about her day, collect all her things, and feed her there, we don’t leave until after 6 and then it’s a bus and walk home in the dark, by which time Elodie is usually pretty tired and upset. So the evenings are rough and she wakes up a lot during the night to feed and make up for lost time eating and cuddling during the day. As for Andy, he gets into work pretty late by the time he drops her off and deals with a long commute in the morning, and then doesn’t see her at night before she goes to bed (but he gets plenty of time to see her when she wakes up during the night).

And did I mention all three of us have gotten sick a few times since she started? This is why I say three days a week is plenty.

And as for me, I am happy to be back at work. It feels very surreal to be back there with no bump and no baby, just me. I like my job and it’s good for my brain and my career and my own self-worth, not to mention bank account, to be back working. But I’ve walked back into a very busy project and I’m still learning how to balance being there only part-time, when my job really is full-time. It’s also a very new experience for me to be a working mum and have the limitations that go with that; I have to pump milk three times a day and leave at the exact same time every day, and I’ve had to walk out of meetings to go pump or go pick up Elodie. Those things are way more important to me than anything else. But it’s hard to figure out this new identity, to race through my day and get everything done and still fear that I’m now seen as uncommitted or not working hard enough. To let go of some stuff and try to figure out what balance looks like.

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Moving on, in other fun news from the month, we had several great visitors!

Aunt Lindsey came to visit from York for the weekend! It is so fun to watch her and Elodie bond.

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We had a fun meal out for Lindsey’s birthday, did some walking around and shopping on Saturday, and on Sunday visited the local pub for a Sunday roast and got some nice desserts at a French bakery in our neighbourhood!

And then later Aunt Laurie + Will came to visit from Seattle! It was our first time meeting Will and we were all very excited!

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The first weekend that they were here, we had a really good time just hanging out in our flat and then down at a nearby pub. They were both so cute and lovey with Elodie.

We had to call it an early night with the little one’s bedtime, but the next day met them for brunch at Dishoom (where Elodie tried some curry!) and then walked along the Thames, meeting some of Laurie’s friends and getting some photos at Tower Bridge.

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They came by to visit during the week one day when I was home with Elodie, and then on Friday, Andy took the day off and we all went out to Hever Castle. We had been there once before on a country walk and it was really nice to be out in the quiet country, getting some fresh air, seeing some sheep and walking around the Castle and the grounds, all decorated for Christmas. 

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We capped it off with a pub lunch before getting the train back to London.

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Thank you to Lindsey, Laurie and Will for visiting us and loving on Elodie so much! It means so much. ❤

Some other November highlights:

Eating

We offer food to Elodie all the time, at every meal now, and she is interested but doesn’t really consume very much. This is normal for her age though; as one of my mum friends puts it, they are just tasting things now but not really eating.

She very occasionally has let me spoonfeed her a tiny bit of porridge (baby oatmeal) and yogurt but by and large she wants to feed herself.

She likes toast sticks she can pick up herself, spread with smooth peanut butter or hummus or smashed avocado. I was pleased to see she hasn’t had a reaction to peanuts (or anything else).

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She has gotten more adventurous and by the end of the month was eating big pieces of avocado and roasted courgette (zucchini), eaten with the skin on so she has something to hold onto. She also ate some lentil dal and some meatball, made by Daddy! He has been cooking without salt so she can try everything.

Health and Development

Elodie has learned to give big hugs!

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Has had two colds and a fever this month, which made some nights really hard. And then I had the flu and I’m pretty sure Andy must have had it at one point too. It was pretty awful.

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Her ability to sit up and transition from sitting to laying down really took off this month, and her fine motor skills (picking things up and moving them around) have really been improving.

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Activities

One Friday, I had two mum friends and their babies over one day for coffee and a play date, and I could tell she really liked hosting them and showing off. It’s funny how babies are different when they are in their own environment.

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We took her for a swim one Sunday morning at the local pool, and it was so much fun! Elodie really loved it; she was smiling and giggling and splashing! I think she also liked having both her parents play with her. 🙂

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Then she slept TWO HOURS in the buggy right after, with no prompting. In the afternoon she fell asleep in buggy again, nearly an hour! They say swimming really helps babies sleep. This was amazing.

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Overall, her daytime sleep has gotten a little easier and she’s been taking more naps at home, usually from feeding to sleep (or because she is sick), but since it’s gotten colder, that is better than having to walk outside for every nap.

As for me, I have barely gotten to work out anymore, especially given how much more hectic our life is these days. But one day I did run five miles, a new post-birth milestone for me.

Nights

Overall, nights have been terrible, there is no other way to say it. Often she wakes every hour or two, with lots of crying. The reasons vary from the trauma of starting nursery, being hungry since she doesn’t drink milk much at nursery, teething, being sick…it’s so tough. Lots and lots of crying and most nights she ends up in bed with us. We are pretty sleep deprived.

Language

I’ll end on a high note. When Will and Laurie were here and we were on the train to Hever Castle, it sounded like Elodie said Ma-Ma! Since then she has said it many more times. It definitely sounds different when she says it and she looks at me, like she is trying to really speak, not just make noise. And she babbles a ton in general. It’s really cute!

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That’s it for now but I’ll try to do one more post of updates before Christmas!

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