Thursday, November 4, 2010

More firsts for Emmett: Halloween and Day care

Emmett's first Halloween and his first day at day care were back-to-back events, so I'll write about them in the same post.

First off, I have been looking forward to Emmett's first Halloween since before he was born. Halloween is pretty much my favorite holiday. For the past several years, we've been dressing up the dog for Halloween (and sometimes ourselves) but we figured that one of the advantages of finally having a kid of our own is that Lucydog could get a break from being dressed up. (I sort of think she missed being costumed, but that's probably my imagination.)

One of my costume ideas was to dress Emmett up as a monkey pirate. One of the first items of clothing that we bought for him was a shirt with a monkey pirate on it and we sort of think of Emmett as our little monkey pirate as a result. In early September, I found a monkey costume at Costco that was sort of his size and I set out to make an eyepatch and pirate hat for it. I was able to get it all together in time for Talk Like A Pirate Day (September 19) so he wore the costume then, too (but only briefly, because the weather was hot and the costume is fleecy).

So yes, I had his costume ready more than a month in advance, but did that stop me from lookimg at every costume display in every store? Of course not. It took serious restraint on my part not to buy him five or six or more costumes. I was especially tempted by a kangaroo costume at Babies R Us. I did end up buying one other costume (a one-piece tiger outfit that I scored at a yard sale--hey, it only cost a dollar!) but in the end, we used the monkey pirate outfit for all of his Halloween events.

I took him to four different Halloween events. The first one was a late afternoon party at The Red Hen, a local consignment boutique that sells baby and maternity clothes and accessories.
During maternity leave, I've been going to a "breastfeeding cafe" event on Monday afternoons and at this party, Emmett had the chance to interact with some of the other babies that he has met there. He was not the only monkey, but he was the only monkey pirate!

As is typical for North Carolina, there was a forty-degree temperature difference between first Halloween event (on a Wedneesday) and the next event (a mere two days later). I was glad that his costume was so warm! Our town has a Halloween Carnival every year, hosted by the Parks and Recreation department. Even if you don't have kids, it's a great way to get into the Halloween spirit. Kids and some adults show up in costume and there are various games and activities going on. Emmett's too young to play any of the games, but I had fun pushing him around in his stroller and chatting with other parents.

On the night before Halloween, we took Emmett trick or treating at the local mall. Adam had not been able to accompany Emmett and me at those first two events but I really appreciated having him along for this event because we'd opted to carry Emmett rather than use the stroller. Emmett's now around 14 pounds and about halfway through the event I needed to have
Adam carry him instead. We really enjoyed this event. Being indoors and in good lighting, we could really see the other kids' costumes well and there were a lot of people participating.
Emmett ended up falling asleep and we got the chance to see just how cute a sleeping monkey could be.

On Halloween night, we went out trick or treating with some of Emmett's big kid friends. Adam and I had taken Lucydog out trick or treating with the same kids on the same route in past years. I kind of discovered that actual trick or treating with a very young baby is kind of ambitious and perhaps inadvisable. Keeping him in a stroller doesn't work well because you can't get up the stairs on people's porches, and carrying him gets tiring. We called it a night long before the big kids were done, but we would have done so even without logistical difficulties because Emmett had a big day the next day: his first day of day care.

Emmett and I had stopped by his day care a couple of times in the past month to drop off paperwork and supplies. He's going to a Spanish immersion day care and I really do feel like he's in good hands there. I've known the directors of the center for over a decade and I like the idea of him getting the interaction with other babies. That said, the first day was hard. Adam went along for that first drop off even though in general I'll be the ones doing dropoffs and pickups. When I left Emmett, he was calm and that made it easier to leave. I was torn between staying a while and doing a short drop off, but I assured myself that he was fine and managed to leave. When I realized that I'd forgotten to leave his pacifiers, I was tempted to go back, but he isn't a heavy pacifier user anyway. I kept wanting to see how he was doing but one of the big things I've been working on this week is getting used to breastpumping and I figured that if I were there in person, I'd probably nurse him instead of getting the pumping practice. So I stayed away and stayed busy. At the grocery store, I got pangs when I saw other moms with their kids. Even though I find grocery shopping with Emmett along to be a bit complicated, I missed having his company. I realized that the longest I'd been apart from him was around four hours. When I picked him up at 3, I realized that just the act of leaving him for the day was an accomplishment in itself.

This was one of those cases where the dog parenting frame of reference was and wasn't helpful. The helpful part was knowing that Emmett was getting some good playtime (as Lucy gets when she goes to "camp"). Pickup time was much different from a kennel pickup, though. When we pick up Lucy after leaving her, we get such an excited reunion: heavy-duty tailwagging, snoopy dancing, jumping up and down, and so forth. For some reason, I expected that Emmett would do all of those things when he saw me, despite not having a tail and not being able to jump up and down yet. He was pretty calm and a little tired (he didn't nap much that first day). Now that I'm a few days into using day care, I can say that it's a great, great thing for him to be nice and calm at pickup time. He stayed calm for a while, but I didn't quite feel all right about everything until he started smiling at me again (which only happened once he was sitting in his swing at home listening to me play the mandolin; it was quite gratifying to have the playing of music be what got him to smile).

When I asked his caregivers how he did, they said that he did well except that he was hungry a lot and that I needed to bring in more milk for him. It turns out that just a few more ounces was all that he needed, but it was a bit hard for me because I was already spending a lot of time pumping and not getting as much as I expected. On Tuesday I went ahead and rented a hospital-grade pump to help keep up with Emmett's appetite and that has helped. I set things up so that he'd start day care a whole week before I returned to work and sometimes I've felt selfish to be not with him but not at work, but I've really needed the time to work through some of these issues with pumping as well as to have time to get certain aspects of my life more organized. Each day of day care has been a little bit easier and he's generally been in a good mood when I've picked him up.

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