A Day in the Baldwin House
Welcome to the “Day in Our House” project! We’re shadowing the regular, ordinary days of some awesome stay-at-home/work-from-home mothers. Read about the inspiration behind this project here!
Hi — I’m Julie. I am a part-time online United States history teacher who is still on summer break/ maternity leave for a few more weeks. My husband is an emergency medicine resident, which adds variety to our schedule. We have three children under 3 years old, going on four years of marriage, and living far away from our respective home bases. For better and for could-do-better, no day is the same on the east coast.
Friday — Casa Baldwin — PA, USA
At some point in the morning, I wake up to feed Stephen (3 months). It is still dark out. I peer into his face and his eyes are open. He’s hungry! I grab my phone and text my husband Will, who is working overnight in the surgical ICU. He’s typing up notes before rounds. Stephen falls back asleep and I plop him into the rock ‘n sleep one more time.
The light wakes me soon enough. I fight the urge to ignore reality. I am content to stare at this little pudding pie drowsily.
7–8 a.m.: Get Grace (3) and Laura (1.5) up from their cribs; they are wide awake and done relaxing once I enter their room. I’m lucky they’ve learned how to stay put/ not scream before 7 a.m. I change diapers, feed Stephen again while the girls run around and play upstairs, test my fertility + chart, take my postpartum depression medicine and move the party downstairs for breakfast.
8–10 a.m.: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are therapy days for my daughter Grace, but this morning, we are relaxing and waiting for Will to come home from the hospital. Breakfast varies based on time and willingness to exert effort. The girls are enjoying half a breakfast burrito each, a banana, milk and raisins. We read the morning prayers and Scripture from my August issue of the Magnificat.
After breakfast, we play inside in the front room and outside on the porch. Grace is very into coloring; I also stretch her limbs out. Laura likes reading, sliding, and building with + dumping her blocks. We hear the “choo choo train!!!!!”. I am listening to The Fellowship of the Ring while working in the other rooms.
I’ll clean up the kitchen, eat my oatmeal and focus on drinking my coffee. Few things more important than my coffee intake at this point [in my mind].
Breakfast: maple cinnamon steel oats in the crockpot, coffee, milk, bananas, breakfast burritos
Will comes home early before we leave for our appointment, and is immediately greeted by his girls with hugs around the legs. I go high for a kiss and a hug, after which he says he got no sleep and is headed straight to bed. This month is really tough on all of us. I go back to cleaning my desk off and preparing for us to leave the house.
10–11:30 a.m.: Today, we actually went to the chiropractor for the first time! I was nervous — but no need. The only thing I had to fear was the insane amount of paperwork needed (times two). Grace has cerebral palsy, which mainly affects the right side of her body. She has been complaining of knee pain, and I am hoping this will help.
The doctor immediately identifies problem areas and was really fantastic with her. I am duly impressed. I was even more impressed at how calm we both remained while 2/3 of my children cried as my appointment started. Grace subsided when the doctor asked her to hold my hand; he meant it for her, but it really did help me as well. Mothering + desk job means more chiro appointments in our future. I thought he was killing me with the number of cracks I heard in my neck, but a lot of tension is gone and there is less tingling in my arms.
I would almost say that this random appointment is normal for us too, since we are always dancing between different specialists — pediatrician, neurology, eye, OB/GYN and coming soon — ortho! This visit was delightful.
11:30–12:30 p.m.: Grace falls asleep in the car, so I put her down for an early nap. Laura stays up with me and we eat lunch. I feed Stephen again; put Laura down for a nap.
Lunch: chicken breast over spinach salad with tomatoes, feta and balsamic vinegar; Laura has mozzarella cheese stick, grapes, goldfish
I love this one-on-one time with my third wee tot! I have had so many interesting conversations with fellow moms about breastfeeding and my advice is always… Do you. For me, that usually involves a weird angle and not covering up in the cape style. I have a muslin blanket that is perfect for extra coverage and any sprayage (or spit up), but I won’t totally cover up any more, as I felt compelled to do with Grace. Why? Because breastfeeding is normal. There is nothing gross about it; it’s actually miraculous, when you look into it scientifically. It is not lewd (baby covers the nipple, people. That’s the feeding part). If it makes you uncomfortable, look away. If you’d rather use a bottle or need to supplement, go for it. But there is no room for prudish behavior towards a mother feeding her baby because it is an absolute act of love. It is hard, it is a commitment and it is beautiful. Stephen is my third breastfed baby. I wanted to quit within the first month because it was so hard with him. But I stuck with it, and it’s one of my favorite times of the day now — relaxing into the couch, feeding him and helping him achieve Hulk status.
12:30–3:30 p.m.: This is magical. Laura skipped her morning nap and since Grace fell asleep WAY before her normal nap time (between 2:30–3 p.m.), so I have the house to myself. I try to do my favorite postpartum work-out video; it’s the effort, right? I decide to fold the three piles of laundry I washed yesterday while watching Elementary. After an episode, I work on school prep. (I start teaching online again in less than a month!) Then, I get super tired and I take a rest/ nap till someone wakes up.
3:30–4:30 p.m.: By someone, I mean Laura. This child! We play and I continue to clean up a bit. I wanted to fix zucchini bread, but it’s still really hot and I cannot imagine turning the oven on right now. Stephen wants to be fed again. Not sure how many times a day I feed him, honestly, but it is way more than I am writing down.
Mini nap time for us post-feeding.
4:30–5:00 p.m.: Grace is awake and ready to play again; we practice walking down the steps while I hold her right hand. This is a big deal because a) she used to never let anyone hold her right hand, let alone trust anyone who did not also hold her left hand and b) she boycotted walking down the steps earlier this year and we are FINALLY returning to Grace being okay going down (and not just up). We think part of that is because of her eye surgery in July- we’re hoping her depth perception improved.
5:00–6:00 p.m.: I start to plan dinner. It’s Friday, and I try to serve meatless meals… I forgot at lunchtime. Oops. Fish for dinner! The kids color outside on the patio, which is closest to the kitchen.
Dinner: salmon (cooked in a foil packet), brown rice + quinoa, red peppers
6:00–7:00 p.m.: We eat out on the porch tonight. We’ve been having a lot of picnics lately, and it’s just easier to clean up. Will wakes up at some point and comes downstairs. The girls are excited! They climb all over him and forget about dinner.
7:00–8:00 p.m.: More playtime, but we’ve moved the girls upstairs for a bath. They love it, and they love splashing Will. Jammies, teeth brushed, books read and prayers said.
8:00 p.m.: BEDTIME BABIES. NIGHT NIGHT.
8:00–9:30 p.m.: Oh yeah. Stephen is still awake. Will and I discuss possibilities for the evening. We clean together, and then he goes upstairs to his computer. Stephen helps me fix a quiche.
We do more cleaning. (No, really, when does it stop!?) I feed Stephen again and relax into the couch.
9:30–11 p.m.: I take my vitamins and melatonin. Will comes down and we watch two episodes of The Wire, season two — really excellent. Gritty; superb in every respect — acting, story lines, writing, production. For those who have not heard of it, it’s considered one of, if not the best television drama ever. (Available through Amazon Prime video!)
11 p.m.-12 a.m.: I try to get to bed before midnight every night. It’s my work in progress, as a night owl. I am always trying for 11 p.m. but 11:30 is my current record. Will changes Stephen’s diaper, and I feed him again, if necessary. I get ready for bed, we talk about what Will should study (pulmonary something was the verdict) and other related topics, and we say night prayers. Will goes up to his office for the night, so his body will stay adjusted for his next night shift. I settle in for the night/ until Stephen wakes again for another eat. Sweet dreams!