narrated by: Peter
I managed to earn a promotion at work, now I’m a Studio Designer which means I get to design billboards and covers from books to music. The hours are actually fantastic for when Irina is in school, but I hardly hope to stay stagnant the next four years ether. She is our top priority though, and thankfully I have sometime off work to spend with her.
Elise is still recovering from the c-section, so I’m doing the cooking which is mostly salads as she works to lose the negligible baby weight she retained. Mostly we are both just exhausted, as Irina is more of a nightowl than sleeper. The doctors told us that was common as she adjusted to schedules, so we aren’t terribly concerned.
My parents invited the entire family over to celebrate Irina’s arrival, and while Elise didn’t really feel up to it, she agreed. She spent most of the time dozing on the sofa while I talked with my family.
Mom and Dad’s goldendoodle hates her, she’s never been much of a dog-person and it’s really been cemented by their dog. No matter how we scold him to behave, he really just doesn’t like her. He’s prone to chasing her, and growling aggressively.
I wasn’t surprised that Meg and Lizzie fell in love with Irina, they both fuss to hold her, and dote on her majorly. She’s already quite loved by her aunts and grandparents.
I was taken aback by Lauren and Isaac’s affection towards her. Elise has been mumbling that they would be having a baby any day now, but I hadn’t believed it until I saw the babylust in Lauren’s eyes. They really aren’t in the space for one though, and they know it. They could buy a house in Millwood for what they pay in rent for their apartment, but Lauren would rather die than live in Millwood again, her dramatic words, not mine.
After the family party, we were mostly left to ourselves. Mom didn’t want to be intrusive, which made Elise laugh. I know that my Mom is often at our house, putting her nose in our business, and doing what she thinks is helpful, but I understand that it comes from a place of love. She isn’t trying to drive Elise crazy. So I think her absence was sort of a gift of its own.
We enjoyed our nightowl, and how quiet the streets were at that hour. We probably weren’t encouraging her to adapt to daytime hours as much as we ought.
We were doing so well that Elise was able to enjoy her coffee and fruit outdoors while reading the paper. She’d found the entire aspect of news to be unappetizing since Irina’s birth, she often cringed and pondered about the kind of world we lived in.
Sooner than I liked, I had to return to work. Elise still had maternity time, though her boss was beginning to nudge her to work from home. We discussed Elise’s plans for the day, and how she would manage with Irina alone. I encouraged her to call anyone in my family if she needed a hand, and she chuckled it off.
Irina fussed as I kissed them both goodbye; it seemed that she was protesting my return to work as much as me.
The first day at work went fine, I pined over my girls the entire day, and called Elise a dozen times. She interviewed women for a nanny position, she had high criteria, and knew that several were rolling their eyes at her. She was a first time mother, and that seemed to come with stereotypes, but Elise didn’t care what a hired nanny thought of her or her rules; they could walk the pavement if their attitudes were that of a teenager.
By the end of all the interviews, there was one that she didn’t mind. She was a recent EU graduate, and had a childcare degree. What Elise had thought was attitude at the beginning was just her way of agreeing with her about negligent nannies.
I think I loathe the idea of anyone watching Irina, but family, and wish that my Mom had retired and would take on the task. But I know that won’t happen with Lizzie still in high school, they have years left of work to get her through college.
By the end of the first week back at work, things at home had begun to unwind. We began to order take-out, and not until late at night. It took forever to get Irina calm in the evening for ether of us to eat, and most often we were still wrangling her while the doorbell rang.
We really began to regret not working harder on the daytime schedule. She was wide awake at night, but with me working, it meant that we were exhausted.
My Mom came by one weekend, when Irina was just past two weeks old, and found us in a desperate condition. I was reading up on some work project while Elise was heading to calm Irina down, neither of us had bathed or even gotten dressed and it was past noon.
Mom had kindly brought in our old newspapers, as neither of us had the time to read them anymore, along with some groceries. I was really wishing she’d brought prepared meals as she had in the past.
I caught a smile on Mom’s face as she took in our filthy kitchen full of dirty bottles and expired take-out. I began to wonder if her absence had been a gift or merely a lesson, to let us know that we needed her assistance.
She began cleaning up and preparing a late lunch for us, which allowed us to focus on Irina and ourselves.
Both of the girls bathed up, and Irina went down for a nap.
Elise had insisted that no shower had ever felt so good as that one, which just showed how long overdue she was for a shower.
We all felt better by the time we sat down to eat, Mom had prepared sushi and gotten the entire main floor clean. Elise didn’t even balk at telling Mom how grateful she was for the assistance. Mom offered to help out when her work schedule allowed, and suggested we consider a maid when Elise began working again.
I was for the idea nearly immediately, but Elise hesitated. She’s really not a fan of strangers touching her belongings, and only agreed to a nanny because quitting work wasn’t an option for ether of us. We really need the double income, and a maid would set us back further.
Mom seemed on the edge of offering to pay for the maid service, temporarily just until we got a good double-work routine down, but she didn’t. She knows that Elise doesn’t accept anything that she deems charity, but she may change her mind when she goes back in a few weeks.
As the month went on, Elise started getting more persistent phone calls. She was no longer being nudged to start working at home, but forcibly called to deal with issues and give her expertise. August isn’t even a big month for sports, just college football, but it has just started.
She’s beginning to worry that she’ll need to hire the nanny sooner, just so she can deal with phone calls and emails that are coming through. When she gets talking, she is oblivious to Irina, who coos at her, and makes her own little noises now. She feels terrible about it after the fact, but it’s not a career that allows for divided focus.
She still has a few weeks left before her maternity time is up, and she had intended to use her personal vacation on top of it, but her boss is really dampening all her plans. It’d be nice if she could go into sports marketing on her own, but she insists that she just has to hold on and work her way up the ladder some more and then she’ll have more freedom.
I hope that’s true, because she’s miserable giving her attention to anything other than Irina currently. She is valuable to the company too, that I wonder if she laid down boundaries if it would go more smoothly, but then she’s in a high-stress field, and no one is calm in her office. Most of them are all men as well, which makes them less empathetic towards maternity leave.
I’ve already decided that we need to fence in our backyard though when one of us gets our next promotion. Living on the corner of a busy street just isn’t going to work with her toddling around in the next year.
I think I’ll find a way to hire a maid temporarily, as a gift to Elise when she returns to work. Her hours are longer than mine, and I don’t want her stressed over cleaning toilets and mopping floors.; I want her to enjoy our family as much as she can.
Notes: These two were doing really well at the beginning, but then Peter was out of vacation and things just fell apart. Delaney came by and was all to happy to lend a hand. She wouldn’t do nearly as much for her daughters as she does for Peter, which is annoying to Elise, but was definitely useful this time around!
I take her career in Sports Marketing as a high-stress, man-dominated field, and having a baby isn’t something they would care that much about. She’s a career-woman at the end of the day as well, she dotes on Irina constantly, but she wouldn’t make a good stay-at-home-Mom. She’s very driven, and has big plans for their home decorating, and good schools for their daughter, all the finest they can afford.
Peter would be better suited to staying at home, but they need the income at this point, and he’s doing well in the Graphic Design field.
Thanks for reading!
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