Friday, July 30, 2010

Thoughts on Maternity Leave...

So, my postings have never been very controversial. I mean, talking about your baby and the silly, awesome, frustrating, cute, challenging things you encounter with him everyday doesn't exactly invite vigorous debate. And while I don't intend this post to be offensive in any way to anyone, I worry some could take it that way (or at least have strong opinions about it) and I am just going to go ahead and apologize now. Sorry!

So, I've been thinking a lot lately. Ryan is now 6 months and three weeks old. And the exponential faster rate at which he is learning new things these days just makes watching him grow sooooo much fun! And thus, I have been thinking a lot about maternity leave and the lack there of for many (most) women in the United States.

Why, you ask? Why does my son’s age and growing number of "new tricks" make me think about maternity leave? Well, I'll tell you!

Most women in the US don't get any truly paid maternity leave. Sure, we can use sick and vacation time to have a period of time off with our child during which we get paid. But we don't have any leave that is paid solely for the purpose of taking care of and bonding with a newborn. I remember when I was in Ireland a year and a half ago. I was about 6 weeks pregnant, and my husband and I were on the train talking with a woman who had a 7 month old. She was lamenting the fact that she had to return to work in a month after her 8 months of paid maternity leave! I was jealous, I was in awe, and I was wondering, "What the bleep is wrong with our country?!?!?!?!"

As I have been caring for Ryan, I have begun to wonder if there is a method to our country's madness...A manipulative method. Here in the US, we are allowed up to 12 weeks of leave to care for a family member (16 weeks in the District of Columbia, where I was grateful to be working at the time I had Ryan). This leave doesn't have to be paid. Simply, the law states that your position must be held for you during this time. In other words, they can't fire you or fill your position because you are caring for a family member. Thus, many women choose to take the full 12 weeks of maternity leave.

If I had gone back to work when I had originally planned to, I would have been going back when Ryan was 16 weeks old. He was adorable, and fun, and we were bonded, and connected, and all those great things. But nowhere near to the extent that we are now. He is such a little person now! He has strong opinions and finds ways of communicating them. When he wakes up startled, he yells "maaamamammamama!!!" I'm not sure if he's saying "Mama" but it sure sounds like it! He knows me and I know him in a way that we didn't when he was only 16 weeks old.

Going back to work when he was 16 weeks old would have been difficult. I wouldn't have liked it, and I am sure I would have cried. But I would have been able to do it without too much angst. Now, if I think about leaving him multiple days each week I truly cannot imagine doing it. I know he'd be ok if I did leave him. And I'd be ok too. But I don't want to do it and am so grateful that things have worked out in such a way that I don't have to.

But, this made me think. Is it just coincidence that our legally protected amount of "maternity leave" here in the U.S. conveniently ends before this magical time of amazing growth? If it ended later would more women choose to stay home, or request part-time work? I don't know the answer, but it sure made me wonder!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Yes, I'm Still Here....

I swear I haven't forgotten about this blog (for the 2, maybe three of you that regularly read this, one of whom is my mom). I have just been busy, and every time I think of a great post, I also think of something else I need to get done (child-proofing the house, making avocado baby food (Ryan's favorite, and will someone tell me why you cannot buy this in the store?? It's one of the best foods you can give a baby!!), watching Minute To Win It (yes, I'm addicted!), having dinner at my brother and sister-in-law's house, spending time with my Mom, working (the new job is going great but getting busier!) oh yeah, and taking care of my 6 month old while also trying to spend some quality time with Matt.) Yes, I know these are all excuses, and that if I really wanted to write a blog post I would. And I am currently writing this post to say that I will be writing a real post (many real posts!) in the near future! I actually have a lot I want to write about! But until then, enjoy a few recent pictures of Ryan:

With his Uncle John:

Playing with Cousin Caitlin:

Peekaboo in the clothes basket:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Ryan had his six month check up today. He's 18 lbs 3 oz (70%) and 28 inches (95%) long. I guess you could say he's kinda a big guy! Gotta love a chunky baby!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

6 Months!

Dear Ryan,

Today, you turn 6 months old and it is hard to believe you are already that old! Yet, I can't imagine life without you. You just become more fun and more joyful with every passing day. Daddy and I are so enjoying watching you change, grow, and develop!

You can do lots of things now that you couldn't do when I wrote your last letter. Your biggest achievement is that you can now sit all by yourself. You look like such a big boy when you sit and play with toys all by yourself. I still put the Boppy around you (because sometimes you lean too far in one direction and you topple over) but you really do have rather strong ab muscles :)


You get closer and closer to crawling every month. You are trying soooo hard these days. You now push up onto all fours, rock back and forth, sometimes move your legs forward, or your arms backward, but you are not yet coordinated enough to move your legs forward AND your arms forward. After a while you give up, and then you flail on your belly (arms and legs kicking) like a little bug. It's sad and adorable at the same time!

You're also really babbling so much more! You've always been a "talker" but now you say things with different inflection and emotion and you seem to know exactly what you're saying. You can make consonant sounds as well as vowel sounds. You say, ba-ba-ba, and la-la-la. Just the other day you started doing this funny thing where you make a very serious face, move your mouth around in a very funny way and say "A-ba, A-ba-a-baaa!" It is difficult to describe, but it is VERY funny. You had the entire family laughing hysterically on the 4th of July when you started doing this.

This month you also figured out how to turn on your mobile in your crib. We have yet to determine if you do it on purpose, but quite a few times, when we've gone to get you after a nap you have the mobile on, toys strewn about, and a huge smile on your face. You almost always wake up soooo happy!

Speaking of waking up, let's talk about your sleep. You had a few setbacks during the month, but in just the past week you really seem to be settling in to a "schedule" of two 90 minute naps and sometimes a brief evening nap. You had started waking up twice during the night (which Mommy and Daddy did not appreciate!) but you seem to be back to just once again. (YAY!) Maybe someday soon you'll sleep alllllll the way through the night!

Your schedule currently (give or take a half hour here or there) is usually as follows (and dear readers, I am aware, this is completely boring. But I put this in here simply for my own reference, so I can later go back and compare):

7:00 am:    Wake up! (play, dance, etc).
9:00 am:     First nap of the day
10:30 am:  Wake up! (play, read, run errands with mommy.)
12:30 pm:  Eat Solids (current offerings include Avocado, Bananas, Peas, Pears, Apples, Peaches, Carrots,
                 Summer Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Prunes and soon, Green Beans. Avocados are your favorite!).
1:30 pm:    Second Nap of the day
3:00 pm:   Wake up!
4:00  pm:   Eat again
5:00 pm:   (Sometimes take a brief 30/45 minute nap) Daddy Comes home (yay!). Eat dinner with Mommy
                 & Daddy (i.e. Sit in your high chair and play with toys).
6:30 pm:   Go for a jog with Mommy & Daddy
7:30 pm:   Bedtime routine starts with a bath (your favorite time of day).
8:00/8:15 pm: Asleep for the night

It's a good little routine we've got going! Actually, it's a good little life we've got going! I love you so much Ryan!

Happy Half-Birthday!



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