5:45 a.m. “Mom?” My daughter gently shakes me awake. “Mom, just wanted you to get your bearings. I’m going to work soon.”
It’s Wednesday. I’m in Pittsburgh. These details thaw slowly as the dream I was just having about dogs and preachers and Hillary Clinton fades. My stomach tightens a bit. I went to bed last night apprehensive about today. I agreed months ago to watch my granddaughter on Wednesdays and Thursday mornings when Cassie went back to work, but talking about it is different than actually doing it.
I kick back the covers and turn on a light and take my thyroid med.
6:30 a.m. Final instructions. Claire’s in my room lying on a big round pillow on the floor with her pink elephant friend Ellie next to her. She’s looking at me as I type, staring actually, like she knows I’m a little concerned about this nanny gig. We both have a lot to learn today. I’ve not spent 12 hours alone with a 3-month-old since Cassie was 3 months old 23 years ago.
Big yawn (her, not me). Maybe we’ll both get a nap in soon.
6:40 a.m. Claire kicks and talks and squeals in a high-pitched sing-song voice. She’s like her mother in so many ways. Already she seems to want to be older than she is. When Cassie was 5 she wanted to be 6. When she was 12, she was “almost 13.” Claire was born a week early and has been holding her head up from the very beginning, unsteady at first, of course, but now she lays on her stomach and holds her head up, looking around the room, drooling on her blanket. Sometimes she’ll flip over to her back and wonder how the heck she did that.
The drool is immense some days. So is the fist sucking. She has two small bumps on her bottom gums. Soon she’ll cut her first teeth. Claire is in the middle between those babies who, on average, cut their bottom teeth between four and seven months, and the one in 2,000 who are actually born with teeth. She’s considered young for teeth, but she’s not considered odd, either.
6:55 a.m. Claire’s on my bed with me helping me write. She sucks in her bottom lip and flattens her mouth. She looks like her Great-Grandma Ardith, who used to take out her dentures and smile at my kids and my kids would scream in delight and beg her to do it again and again.
Another big yawn and a frustrating little cry. My writing is boring her. She’s not the first person I’ve bored, I’m sure.
7:20 a.m. Crisis! We have bottles but no nipples. I searched the kitchen to no avail. Before he left for work, Matt said to call him and not Cassie if I had any questions because he does the12-hour Claire duty on Sundays and knows how hard it is to convince Claire that we’re almost as good as Mommy when we know deep down we’re not. So I call his cell phone.
“Matt! Where are the nipples?” (Not a conversation most mothers-in-law have with their sons-in-law.)
“Damn. I’m sorry, I was going to tell you that before I left and totally forgot.”
Two minutes later I found the nipples and heated up my first bottle as Granny Nanny.
7:26 a.m. Peace has returned to the house.
8:12 a.m. No sleeping yet. Claire is laying against my chest, face out, as I type. She’s watching the screen intently. I lean over and kiss her head. Babies heads are mesmerizing. Soft, fuzzy, they smell good (most of the time). Her head feels nice pressed against my lips. So calming and centering.
Sadie the dog is sleeping on the floor. Classical music is playing in Claire’s room.
Uh oh. Major noises from down under. Thank God for “unbeatable leakage protection.” We’re heading to the changing table.
8:21 a.m. Claire is in her crib listening to Bach and watching her mobile spin slowly. She’s talking to the panda moving above her.
9:00 a.m. Claire falls asleep. I lay her on pillows on the couch and slip in a Walk Away the Pounds video.
9:15 a.m. Claire wakes up. I pause the video, put her in her vibrating chair, hand her a toy and turn the video back on. She seems amused watching me do kicks and knee lifts and sidesteps and kickbacks. She plays long enough for me to do 2 of the 3 miles. Not much of a workout, but at least it’s something.
9:47 a.m. I need breakfast. I put Claire on the changing table of her Pack ‘n Play. She’s talking to the bears on the mobile and trying to touch them. I can see her from the kitchen as I make an omelet.
10:10 a.m. Perfect timing. My omelet is on a plate on a table near the couch. Claire is mad at the mobile bears so I prop her up next to me on the couch. She’s sitting like a big girl, staring at something by her feet. I don’t see anything particularly interesting, but then, I’m not 3 months old. She’s seeing things for the first time. It’s kind of sad that I routinely miss the interesting things right in front of me.
10:23 a.m. Another concentrated look on Claire’s face. Another rumble down below. Back we go to the changing table.
11:07 a.m. Ah, blessed sleep (the baby, not me). Her sleep time is my work time. I don’t know how much time I’ve got, so I’d better take advantage of every minute.
11:45 a.m. Uh oh. Work time’s over, I think. I peek over at Claire lying on the couch. She’s shifting positions. Her eyes are half committed to waking. Is she going back to sleep? Yes, I think she is. Shhhhh…. Please God, don’t send a UPS guy to our door.
11:50 a.m. Another rumble down under. This one’s seeped up the front of her onesie. Claire is wide awake. I would be, too, if I did that in my pants.
12:25 p.m. Claire drank a bottle and is still saying no to sleep. Again, she’s just like her mother. As a baby, Cassie was always too busy to sleep. There was too much to see and do. Claire just wants to kick around on the couch and talk to me and the pillow and her green and purple fuzzy blanket. And her fist.
I’ve survived the first six hours. Only six more until Daddy gets home. I see heavy eyes over on the couch. I think Claire needs a nap. I need her to need a nap. But I’m living by Claire’s agenda today. Whatever she wants, she gets. If she wants a nap, great. If not, that’s ok, too. It has to be. She’s Claire and she’s calling the shots.