Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Day in the Life...

Axel, 2013

Is it my imagination, or did Axel look at our apartment after a weekend away like, "Ahhhhh, I know this place!"? "My beleaguered cat, my board books, my monkey toy, my play mat, here for the disassembling...."

And after all the craziness and upheaval and hard decision making that came with going back to work, and with traveling for nearly a month with a pretty tiny baby, and with Axel's surgery and recovery, I finally feel like all of us are starting to settle into a week-to-week routine at home that feels almost manageable.

Eight months on, I feel like I know what most days will hold. Axel is his sunny, determined, sociable self: a force to be reckoned with when he wants something, but always game for a laugh, with minimal crying and an easy demeanor. He's more demanding than he was at five or six or seven months, simply because he is on the move, but he's still game for playing in his crib with his crinkly cow book for ages, and he's also still pretty flexible when we make changes to his day-to-day routine.

Granted, some days hew more to my ideal of "manageable," whereas some days I feel like I'm just holding my head above water. But either way, life has become more predictable.

So what's a (work) day in the life like with Axel at 8 months old?

7:15 a.m. Axel's been babbling to himself for about twenty minutes now, and I hear him on the monitor, saying "Bababababa," sternly, as if he's giving his stuffed penguin a serious lecture. Occasionally, the babble gets sing song-y, and it cracks me up thinking about the imaginary conversations he must be having. I glance at the clock wondering if he'll be able to amuse himself for another 15 minutes or so, but his voice is starting to get a little screechy. More often than not, Will is the first to leap out of bed, and I lie under the comforter listening to him chat to Axel as he changes his diaper and makes his first bottle of the day. A few minutes later, I'm up, putting the kettle on for tea and heading to the play mat to let Axel do some crawling and climbing.

8 a.m. Axel's been busy, and there's no such thing as multi-tasking when he's on the move. I glance at my email and check Facebook, but usually I'm on the floor, a few feet away from him as he practices pulling up on his bouncer, a chair, the cat. I don't want to hover, but I'm still nervous about his healing scar, as we've had one trip to the ER when he bumped it (which caused some scary swelling), and I just can't handle another trip to the hospital. He's still interested in his toys to an extent, but he really wants to caterwaul across the apartment, and is obsessed with standing, supported by anything that he can find (my leg usually does the trick.) There's the occasional face plant, even as we hover nearby.

8:30 a.m. I think about all those parents, back when Axel was a newborn, who'd say "Enjoy this! It gets harder, just you wait" with varying degrees of strain in their voices. Well, it was easier checking email, or making a phone call back when Axel was three months old and I could leave him on a blanket under his little wooden pyramid and go about my business, knowing he'd stay put. But now that I'm sleeping at least 7 hours a night most nights, I feel like I can handle the trade-off. Every month is different, that's the only certainty with a baby.

8:45 a.m. We either trade off with showers or pack Axel up in his stroller and take him to the local coffee shop. He loves seeing all the new faces and Will and I get a few minutes to catch up on what's ahead for the week.

9:30 a.m. Back at home, the doorbell rings and our nanny arrives. The last two hours have been pretty full on, down-on-the-floor playtime, trying to get ready for work, somehow, in the midst of it all. But when the nanny is here, I know he's in good hands, and he gives her a big smile when she arrives. She puts him in his high chair for some pureed berries and baby yoghurt and I organize myself to get out the door, waving goodbye as I go (Axel hasn't yet mastered the wave goodbye, but he seems amused at my peculiar hand flapping.) Then it's onto the subway, and the non-baby-centered world out there...

6:45 p.m. I'm usually home by this point, and love hearing how Axel spent his day. There are epic playdates, trips to the library and the park, lots of practicing of his latest trips, maybe a sink bath. We play for twenty minutes or so until Will gets home, and all of us are in a rather silly mood. We do little apartment tours, checking out the sunset, walking from room to room, Axel looking at himself in the mirror and cracking himself up, getting wound up by his papa...maybe a book or three. If I have to read Good Night World one more time I might go batty.

7:15 p.m. We begin the first of maybe three attempts to put Axel to bed. It used to be a no-fuss proposition. At around four to six months old, we could trick Axel into sleep by putting him in bed with a few of his stuffed friends, and he'd soon talk himself to sleep with barely a whimper. Lately...not so much. He sees his crib as the next best thing to a jungle gym these days, so I'll walk out of the room, all will go quiet, and then I peek in the door and see him standing up like a jail bird behind the bars, flashing me a mischievous grin when he catches sight of me. When I attempt to walk away, there's a few rounds of the-world-is-ending-sob-sob-sob-how-could-you???!

8:00 p.m. He seems to be losing stamina, and starts furiously sucking his thumb, as Will and I start rifling through the fridge to see what we can make for dinner.

9:15 p.m. Is it too early to go to bed? I struggle to get through a New Yorker article or two and drift off in about 30 seconds.

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