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i have tremendous respect for everyone who is able to successfully jump through the administrative hoops to put their kids in daycare. we enrolled both paul and nola at a backup daycare facility near my office (it's a work benefit -- $15 copayment per full day of emergency daycare for a max of 30 days a year) and goddamn, there was an awful lot of paperwork. i've actually filled out the forms for paul three times, but never turned it all in until now. since paul is in school now, i doubt he'll ever have a need for it, but i was determined to get nola to go there at least once because dammit, her life is an experiment -- if i finally follow through on all the things that i had planned to do with paul, will she be less whiny and shy when she's his age?

it's a good thing i finished up all that paperwork because i needed to take her to the daycare this last tuesday. (my mom had a doctor's appointment and a plan to visit my aunt.) i dutifully ordered labels for her stuff (i got a set for paul for school, too.) and made sure i had a decent-sized diaper bag to send along with her. the last thing i needed to bring the daycare was a set of labeled photographs of the kids and anyone authorized to pick them up, so we had some pics developed at target. the night before, i packed up the bag and felt like i was sending my child on her own vacation.

had some qualms about how much milk to pack. i wanted to make sure she had enough, but because i know my mom has a tendency to comfort with milk, i wasn't sure if what nola usually eats on a weekday is a really a good indicator of what she might drink if left in more... professional hands.

i could have left nola with cam's dad and sister, of course, but i didn't want to overwhelm them -- paul had the day off, so the idea of leaving both kids with them ALL DAY just made me feel bad.

the next morning, i dressed a girl and off we tried to go. cam managed to drop his coffee cup just outside the front door, so that was an unexpected and messy delay. in the car, nola was less than thrilled to be buckled up so early in the morning, so i sat in the back to try to calm her down. she fell asleep, but i was unable to take my usual morning car nap because the center position of the backseat was not quite comfortable enough.

when we got to work, i realized i had a dilemma on my hands. i could put her in a sling, carry my bag and the diaper bag on a shoulder, hold my lunch bag in one hand and my coffee cup in the other -- or i could open doors. because cam dropped his coffee, i gave him mine without too much regret (at that moment). then nola and i went inside.

a coworker showed up and cooed, smiled and carried nola (she insisted on having her "baby time") for a while, then i fed and changed her. once she was clean and fed, we went on a brisk walk to the daycare facility, where i left her with a very nice young lady who gently shooed me away with "you can go now. she's in good hands."

i planned to go see nola at 1 to feed her, but i received a call at about 12:30. "she just woke up and she's ready to eat." i rushed down to the center and stayed with her for about 45 minutes. interestingly enough, the crib room -- where i fed her -- was really cold and the music was really loud, but she seemed perfectly content. since she is an extremely sweaty baby, i guess the cold air felt good. she ate for a long time, then promptly spit up all over my shoulder. when i returned to the office, i stopped by the restroom and washed myself off the best i could.

the rest of the afternoon passed pretty quickly. a little before four i went to pick her up. nola was already ready to go. her bags were packed, she was dressed and smiling. i received a chart with eating (she only ate 5.5 oz combined with her morning and afternoon bottles instead of the 9 i sent with her), changing and napping times, and a comment section that tickled me -- how nice that nola was able to work on her "gross motor skills." much to my surprise, the nice young lady handed me a pink frame decorated with flowers. inside the frame? purple glittery footprints. nola and the date were spelled out in glittery rainbow stickers. i think i nearly teared up! we were told to come back soon by quite a few people -- nola's smiley self apparently made a few friends.

on the way back to the office, we stopped off to see some coworkers. they were practically beside themselves with joy and longing. babies seem to do that to people. it doesn't hurt that nola smiled and smiled and smiled. they were very disappointed to hear that nola wouldn't be returning to the backup daycare the next day.

we was almost to my office when i realized that cam was already parked across the street. some coworkers were outside, so they came up with us. i showed the baby to a few people as earlier promised, then my assistant helped me carry my stuff down to the car.

it was a very successful day. i think i'll be bringing nola back there at least once more before the end of the year -- my mom could use the break, and nola would enjoy the experience. i wish i had brought paul there as a baby. i think he would have liked it.



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