Monday, August 31, 2009

August is National Breastfeeding month

As August is National Breastfeeding month (OK, so I just found this out on another blog site), I thought I’d take a minute to reflect on the experience. Most specifically I thought I’d like to write about the progression of the whole experience because at the beginning, I really thought I’d never “make it” / be able to keep it up for the first year, but now it’s really not a problem. Sure, it’s not always the most convenient thing – although at night or first thing in the morning, it’s certainly easier than having to heat a bottle.

Starting from the very beginning and the hospital… I couldn’t take her right away at delivery because there had been some merconium in the amniotic fluid and they needed to make sure her lungs / airway was clear before I could hold her (what a slow passage of time that seemed!), but when I got her she latched right on – and with quite a grip! The nurse in the delivery room showed me how to break the latch with my finger if I needed to – and I was glad for that information! I nursed her during that first LONG night, but couldn’t quite seem to remember the right way to break the latch – man, did it hurt when I tried! So when the lactation consultant came by the next morning, it was one of my primary questions (after – is she getting anything / is this working?). I should have known that this was not your average person and her take on breastfeeding would be … strong. I mean, this woman had just squeezed my boob to see if anything came out (to confirm that the baby was actually ‘getting something’) – but then again, I wasn’t exactly normal at this moment (I’d just let a complete stranger squeeze my boob!), so who was I to judge? When I asked herm, ‘how do I break the latch?’ She looked at me and said – ‘why would you ever want to break the latch?!’ Hmm… I don’t know, because I seemed to have been nursing her ALL night last night – 45 minutes on one side, 30 on the other a short break and then back again and I felt like I needed to switch off on sides – or that maybe there might be times when I’d need to do something else (I couldn’t necessarily always “hold it” for the time she’d need nursing and less than 24 hours after giving birth, I could just barely get myself to the bathroom (taking about 10 minutes to do so) – there was no way I was bringing the baby in too.). But she’d asked the question in such a horrified way, I couldn’t bring myself to respond.

The second night at the hospital was even harder in terms of feeding ALL NIGHT! I was so exhausted and was just about ready to give up. The nurse came in around 3 when we’d just put the baby back in the bassinet screaming (about ready to send her back to the nursery! I mean, she couldn’t still be hungry, so there was nothing more I could do). She told us the baby was hungry. I nearly cried explaining I’d been feeding her for 3 hours and pointing to the sheet where I was tracking all that. She suggested a bottle / formula. I adamantly said no! She’d wind up with nipple confusion! (Any new Mom knows the horror in which this is discussed – threatened in the breast feeding classes if you let a bottle in the same room as your newborn in the first 3 weeks. You know that if you allow ANY formula your milk will NEVER come in and then your baby won’t be breastfed – and will grow up to be a serial killer…) I was so tired and frustrated (and we were only a day in to parenthood!) and I couldn’t seem to do anything to satisfy my poor tired and frustrated baby. Then the nurse came up with a solution that seemed to save us – I will forever be grateful to her. She suggested that we could supplement the baby with formula while breastfeeding by running a small feeding tube from a formula bottle across the nipple so she’d continue to stimulate milk production (and receive the all important colustrum) but would be satiated with the formula. We did this and she actually mercifully went to sleep for a couple of hours. We wanted to kiss the nurse.

The nursing staff increased our wonder and awe of them when they sent home several spare feeding tubes and bottles of formula with us! We used them often for those nighttime feedings in the first few weeks (it was such an odd sensation – the cold formula running across your otherwise warm body), as we continued to praise that savior nurse! But we weren’t done and we still felt lost in the sea of all nighters as our new little addition demanded to be fed through most of the hours our bodies were SCREAMING at us to sleep. We just couldn’t seem to think straight. I worried that my milk wasn’t coming in. I worried that she wasn’t getting enough. I worried that I’d never sleep again. And I’ll be honest – my worries weren’t necessarily in that order…

When the baby was about 10 days old, I went to the first breastfeeding moms group at the hospital. It was crowded – generally with babies older than my munchkin – old hands at mothering to my sleep crusted eyes. When it got to my turn to introduce myself, I felt like I could barely choke out the words and keep my voice steady – my hormones were wreaking havoc! The other women were so nice though – one told me how impressed she was that I’d even made it out of the house this soon. She said that with her first baby, she came to the group when he was a couple of weeks old and just sat and cried! She watched the moms feeding their babies and couldn’t for the life of her figure out how to work her nursing bra while holding her child! I was not alone. Others felt this way too. I vowed to go back to the group – unfortunately the munchkin must have caught on to my silent vow and did her best to thwart me for about a month following. It seemed that the night before the group met was always her WORST night leaving me far too sleep deprived and unsteady to go anywhere. I couldn’t figure out why the group met at 10:30 – how could ANY new Mom make it out of the house by 10:30?

I thought about giving up a lot in the first few weeks. What kept me going – and I’m a little ashamed of this (but probably not as much as I should be) – was thinking of other moms I knew who did it. Not the Moms who were my good friends, who I admired – no, they were supermoms! They could do anything. I wasn’t surprised by their ease and grace at this task. No, no. I thought of the Moms who seemed far less natural – those who had continued to drink (some!) during their pregnancy and had to test the BAC of their breastmilk on occasion. Those who seemed excited to go back to work for the break from their kids. I thought – if they can do it, so can I! I know, I know – not exactly my greatest moment… But it worked! (So now you can think of me – if someone as base and rude as ME can do it…)

There were nights in week 2 when I wondered how long I could go on with this. The exhaustion felt crippling. The advice was conflicting. My body was weak. The lactation consultations over the phone were far too crunchy granola (relax your body and picture the milk flowing out of you – what?). But then every once in awhile, I’d get a gem. Someone would tell me their story – how they’d gone through the same thing because it takes two weeks for your milk to fully come in and it would get better then. Or the lactation consultant suggested pumping during the day, so that if I must supplement at night (she clearly didn’t really approve of this), I could supplement with my own milk. I’d be telling my body to produce the right amounts that way and still getting her fed. I’d hold on to each useful tip / each story of getting through this like a life raft (ok, some days it felt more like water wings – you know, holds you up a little, but not total rescue protection). But then slowly… I learned to swim.

In those first days, I made myself promise to try to keep this up for two weeks. Just those first two weeks to try it out. Then I pushed it to three, as so many people said that those first 3 weeks were the real time of trial and difficulty. Then I was able to push it out to say through my maternity leave. And then slowly, I was able to stop bargaining with myself and just do it.

Sure it’s not always “fun.” I mean, sitting in my freezing office attaching the breastpump, which I’ve once again forgotten to remove from the freezer packs to warm it up, while trying to multitask gets old fast. But it’s also not that hard anymore. It definitely took some time, but maybe there’s no such thing as a “natural” in this parenting business. We all have our challenges and have to work at it, but the rewards are amazing.


Finally some good news came on the home front! Last week the realtor called to tell us that the bank had accepted our contract on the foreclosure we’d seen the week before. They just had an addendum for us to sign – which is where the good news ended. The addendum was, of course, written ENTIRELY in their favor. You must show your seriousness about this in all these ways, but we’ll still look at other contracts in case something better comes along. We tried making a few adjustments – allowing a walk through, specifying who pays certain fees (as obligated under VA law), requiring a marketable title. The bank rejected all and said we need to sign their form EXACTLY as it is written to get this house. Argh! As everything we laid out is actually a requirement of VA law, it’s not that big a deal, but man what a pain?! In the interim, I can’t seem to get our bank on the phone to get started on the loan paperwork and am wondering abut my sanity…

I happened to hear on the radio this morning a survey of the most prestigious jobs. I called my husband to let him know that Firefighter was number one. I wonder if I should call the loan officer (and the bank selling the place!) to let them know that banker was in the bottom five. Of course – the VERY bottom of the list was realtor, so maybe I’ll just keep my mouth shut…

As an aside, the other big happening here – apparently when they turned on the utilities for the home inspection there was a problem with the water. So rather than doing a home inspection this Thursday, the plumber will be coming. The only bright side is that running water is a legal requisite for selling any dwelling so it’s the bank’s responsibility to fix this one.

One of THOSE days

So I realize that most people are probably dealing with this level of ... mess... every morning as most people have to drop their children to daycare, but I still submit this morning's story for your amusement. I'm going to argue that most people aren't wrangling the dog too and THAT is why I look like such an idiot in all this...

I was headed out this morning and laughing at the ridiculousness of myself as the bag lady mentally counting off all my crap as I headed down the stairs. Besides the dog and the baby, I was dragging the diaper bag, the bottles, my lunch bag, the breast pump, my purse and... Oh crap - where's my computer? Yup, still upstairs. So I drop all the bags and the dog to the car and the baby and I went back for the computer (man does her car seat get heavy on those double trips!).

We head off down the road and I notice that she keeps pulling her head out of the restraint - A LOT. She's actually pulled out enough that she is resting her head on the restraint (leaned to one side), which means I don't have her strapped in well enough. Last weekend, I’d noticed an angry red mark on her neck from where I’d strapped her in too tightly and I’d overcompensated in correcting it. I tried reaching back to move her head - which worked once... till she pulled it right back out. I realized I needed to pull over to fix it to be safe. So I pull over, just off the main road, and start to get out and Shiloh BEELINES across my seat and into the street! UGH!!!!! Luckily I caught his harness just as he hit the road and was NOT forced to chase him around (what was a very nice neighborhood – where people just don’t do that sort of thing. They don’t even ‘have people’ to do that sort of thing for them) like a MADWOMAN while worrying that the baby is alone in the car and what the hell do I do? I'm sorry I didn't work that one out for you, as I realize the comedy of that story would be far greater. I'll work on that for next time. So I drag him back into the car (unwillingly), get in the back to tighten her in - all the while giving him the evil eye that he had BETTER NOT get out of the car! She screams at the tightened restraint and I manage to get back in the car without another runner on his part - by some miracle... Or the sheer force of my will as I repeatedly yelled at him while getting in - STAY! DO NOT MOVE FROM THIS CAR!! DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!

We I got to my in-laws I wondered why I bothered showering this morning as I was drenched in sweat.

Part time mother – we are strangers by day and mothers by night, knowing it’s so wrong and feeling it’s so right!

Yeah, so clearly there is no such thing as a part time mother. It doesn’t matter what else you do, you are a Mom full time (with your heart if not with your body – but mostly with your body too!). But as I’ve started my part time work schedule I thought it worked better in a Lionel Ritchie context than part time finance manager worked.

Anyway, working part time has been… AWESOME! I joked that I should have done this years ago! Of course that’s because I’ve only been doing it a few weeks and our checks our paid in arrears, so I haven’t gotten a part time paycheck yet… But thus far the balance is really really great. Work isn’t so bad when it’s only a few days a week – and, as I’m part time, I don’t really feel guilty if I don’t stay extraordinarily late. I’ve started coming in early (usually 30-45 minutes before the rest of my group) and just don’t worry about not pulling late hours. So basically they’re still definitely getting more than the 24 bargained for out of me, but I can be more balanced in it. I stay late if I need to – but not just for a ‘face time’ need. I do still have to check messages on my days off and often wind up taking one call that just can’t be put off, but that’s not too bad. Mostly I can really enjoy the time with the baby and do other things. Well, mostly I can do other things these days… We’ve been running around like nuts on the home buying front. Last Thursday was the first day off where I really felt like I was “off.” My husband was working and I wasn’t seeing a single house. I managed to do the baby’s laundry (and some of ours!), to pick up the dry cleaning that has been out for 6 weeks, to clean the bathrooms and vacuum! I know those are hardly exciting. And the point was not to totally fall into the role of housewife, but instead to really focus on the Mom part of my life. But that stuff just hadn’t been done (or done well) in forever and it felt really great to actually have the time to do it. I know it sounds crazy to relish the time to clean and do laundry – but when I’d been trying to shove those things into the vacant corners and finding that there weren’t any, it was great to actually get it done! Friday was, of course, spent in a rush of house searching and realtor stuff – so we never quite hit the life of leisure! – but it was good. Maybe one day we’ll even find a house and then we can really have some time off… Although then we’ll have to clean up that house to move in and do renovations and actually move and … well, I’m sure one day… ;)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Once the dog stops eating your homework, the baby will eat your brain

So last year there was pregnant brain. Everyone knows about pregnant brain. I can’t think straight / I can’t remember, I’m busy growing a person. For me, I found it most poignant in my COMPLETE AND UTTER inability to understand the directions for putting together the crib. You think I’m just saying this to get out of putting together the crib. But no, I actually did “help.” I sat with my husband the whole time reading the directions to him without comprehending A WORD of them. Nothing. I sat there wondering how single moms do it. I mean beyond all the other stuff, how do they get their brains to work well enough to set up a nursery?

Then you have the baby and there’s new mommy brain – I haven’t slept since sometime before the day several weeks ago when I passed something the size of a watermelon out of a hole the size of a grape, so no I don’t remember what you were talking to me about.

But now we’re 5 months in and I’m wondering if this excuse is getting old to anyone. There’s a woman I work with who is very happy to allow me this excuse for anything. Whenever I ask her a dumb question, she says – it’s OK, mommy brain! Her daughter is a little over a year older than mine, but she jokes she can still claim it too. Hmm… I wonder if she’s going to announce she’s expecting… Otherwise she’s just the nicest person on the face of the earth.

Slow adults crossing

Our parking lot has long been an issue for my husband. We live in the back of a condo complex and people generally drive pretty quickly through there, which he generally finds to be dangerous and irresponsible. (Side note – I think he would honestly like to do an open forum driving class for the entire state of Virginia – or at least Northern Virginia and DC area.) This is part of his inherent natural “old man”-ness as he tended to yell at people to slow down in the street where he lived previously too.

This tendency to yell at the cars does on occasion tick off some of our … less patient neighbors. My favorite story about this is from a year or two ago. We’d gone to visit my Mom on the weekend and had come back with tons more of my old crap and things she didn’t want anymore as always (my Mom is in a perpetual state of readying her house to sell it. Really. It’s been years. My parents started spending the winter in FL in 2001 and were thinking they needed to sell their house in NJ but wanted to spend one season there first to decide what smaller thing should they buy to replace it based on how much time they wanted to spend in NJ long term (what their split for the year was). But then my Dad got sick that winter and all plans were scrapped. He passed away in the spring of 2003 and by the next year she decided she needed to prepare the house to sell. But she’s lived there more than 40 years now. So she’s been cleaning it and getting it ready to sell for about 5 years. She might be about halfway there now… Anyway, the point is, I will periodically get things from her that she’s decided to clean out.). On this particular trip, my Mom had decided to ask my husband to look at my Dad’s workbench and tools to see what could be kept, what should just be thrown out, etc. Now my husband has long made the argument that my brother should get first dibs on my Dad’s tools. Now before you agree whole heartedly with him, you have to know that my brother might not be able to tell you the difference between a Phillips head and a flat head screwdriver. I was the one who helped my Dad on projects. (That said – now that we try to do “real” projects as my husband is skilled, I realize that I know nothing because my Dad didn’t really do any “real” projects.) So I can see the argument that the tools should follow the family line – even over an in-law – but I think I have at least as much claim to them as my brother. But my husband will still generally only take things of which there are spares (and, truth be told, he generally already has most of what my Dad had because it was pretty basic.). He made an exception on the machete though – he thought it was pretty cool and didn’t have one. It’s missing a screw in the handle, but that’s easy enough to fix. I pointed out to my Mom that she should really let us have this, as my brother would most definitely take his arm off with it and she agreed. So, being organized as we always are, the machete was still in the car a few days later.

Anyway, it’s a few days later and my husband yells at one of the neighbors who is driving too fast through the parking lot (with a blind hill ahead of the cul-de-sac where kids play) and this apparently ticked the guy off. He parks and gets out of his car to come talk to my husband, who is oblivious to this action as he’s pulling his stuff out of the car. His back is still turned as he pulls the machete out to take a look at it. He’s holding it up to check the handle about when the other guy gets to him. That guy takes one look at the machete, stops dead in his tracks and decides he doesn’t need to argue parking lot speed with the crazy man! (It wasn’t even till that point that my husband noticed the guy was coming to talk to him.)

Alright, so history established. Today’s story… My husband was just headed out to the car with the baby, the dog, and the 34 bags of stuff needed to move those two entities anywhere… Someone else was walking their 2 dogs, one of which was off leash and running around (one of those hot dog dogs) when someone comes flying through the parking lot again. As always, my husband yelled at the guy to slow down. He stopped to ask – what? Rather than just say “slow down” again, our protagonist says – “Slow down! You just hit that dog!” The driver responds with – “Oh my God, no!” To which my husband says – no, you’re right, you didn’t. But you could have. You need to drive slower. The other dog owner gives him a look that says – wow - you are truly evil. … I think she might have a point…

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Parenthood is making me soft !

I just read a post on where the Mom wrote how her son said “I love you, Mom. Bye” via text – so that he was still thinking about saying bye after he’s left for school, halfway down the street.

And I swear to you, I’m getting caught up about this! My daughter is still an infant – not speaking yet (not anywhere near it) – but I’ve realized I’ve become completely soft. And it’s not just that soft gushy part where my abdomen used to be! It’s soft to the core! Any story about kids – either their loving wonderful moments or God forbid if anything bad happens to one (even on a really bad, totally fictional movie of the week!) and I’m gone!

Motherhood should come with a warning label! I’m not sure if it should be for me or for those around me though…

Silence - sadly only mine

I may be without computer access for much of this week and therefore may not be posting. If so, please be patient - new updates will be available Monday. Thanks!

Pump up the boob

My husband has a tendency to make up little songs. I’d love to tell you that this was just something he’s started doing for the baby. It’s not. The latest, as I was throwing all the components of my breast pump together to go to work was to the tune of Pump Up the Jam and went something like this:

Pump up the boob, pump it up and get the milk started.

Oh-ah. Nourishment. Get your booby in the pump today. Make my day.

I know the Catholic Church gets picky on these things, but that HAS GOT to be grounds for annulment?

Flip flops

Summer! Ah, summer. Days of flip flops and sandals. This happens to me every year – by late spring I can’t wait to pull my feet out of the confines of socks – so strange as my feet are always cold. But somehow that doesn’t matter! I was getting dressed for work this morning and put on a sweater set (my office is always freezing) and realized it would really look better with shoes. I’d almost convinced myself to wear shoes, but realized I couldn’t convince myself to wear socks. So back to my far too casual, don’t really match my outfit sandals. And here I sit in my office with cold feet! Why I do this to myself, I don’t know? For that 30 minutes of warm pleasure at lunch when I’m outside with no shoes on?

I do this right into the fall too. Trying to convince myself it’s still sock-less weather in October – that I can wear my flip flops to walk the dog in the rain – only to run back inside after with cold muddy feet. I finally give up the notion of flip flops, but remain sockless in my warm fluffy slippers – in which I also walk the dog…

Ah well – here’s to enjoying it while we can! To lunches outside where we can defrost from corporate freeze outs in the AC and to vacations where we can get sand between our toes! Enjoy!

Forgetting the breast pump

So this weekend, we decided to meet a friend downtown for a late lunch and go to a lecture. I’d made the plans thinking that the hubby had to work, but realized I’d made a mistake on his schedule and he was actually off. But he decided to come along (and told me not to be THAT friend who cancels plans because I got a “better offer” - or was working around a guy’s schedule!) and we decided to get a sitter for the baby (turned out that was a good thing as it was a VERY small lecture). Anyway, we were running late as always and ran out the door – only realizing I’d forgotten the breast pump half way there (with no time to go back). UGH! Worse yet, we were meeting the realtor after the lecture and probably wouldn’t be home till 8:30 or so (it was now 1:30). The hubby asked if I wanted to go back, but I knew there wasn’t really time, so he asked the next question – well, what will you do? I said – I’ll survive. It’s about as long as overnight, so it’s doable. It’ll just hurt. The real problem is that we won’t have that milk (not pumped) for tomorrow when I’m at work. I think that almost had him turning around as the - oh crap, I’m the one watching her tomorrow hit him.

Luckily, the realtor cancelled and we got home, but the baby had been hungry and eaten through more stores than I’d expected. I pumped right away to get some supply for the next day and reminded my husband that if all else failed, we still had a little in the freezer. He looked at me (guilelessly) and said – could you put more in the freezer? We need more backup supplies. Ugh! I’m not sure where I’m supposed to pull these back up supplies from – my toe? I mean, maybe if my feet could lactate too, this would help…. I pointed out that I’d pumped on all my days off when I was with her to build up as much supply as possible, but that I can’t freeze “extra” if we have no extra! I also pointed out that if he fed her cereal on his days maybe she wouldn’t be so hungry and we wouldn’t run out… (Last time I pointed this out on a supply issue day, he responded by asking if I could pump more. His only saving grace on this was later claiming to be kidding. I’m not really sure he was, but as long as he’s smart enough to claim it fast, I’ll give it to him!)

Ah well. I think I could “catch up” (stock up) if we weren’t running out with the realtor several times a week, so that I’m feeding her a bottle in her car seat in the back seat, as we don’t have time to stop. The car seat is, of course, not an ideal feeding area and gives her no room to be burped, so usually a large spit up follows this fun. The last spit up was a good one though… We had to change her entirely at the next house we got to – outfit, diaper, the works. In that house there was a family with 4 year old twin girls. They were home, so they sat on the porch while Daddy changed the diaper. This mesmerized and amazed them – look! The Daddy is changing the diaper! Thank God our baby threw up to teach these children an important life lesson! We might have to change her at every house with kids from now on (and by we, I mean, my husband) so that we’re sure they’ve all seen how good Dads are at this job!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Baby 1, new car smell 0

We bought a new car 3 months ago to accommodate our growing family. My side note on this - my husband is 6’4 and never really feet in the Corolla, but when we added the car seat even I couldn’t get the seat back as far as liked – and he literally couldn’t fit in the front seat – like his femur was longer than the distance from the seat back to the dashboard. So, as it was 10 years old, had 130K and sometimes made funny noises… High rollers that we are we went for another less expensive, reasonably fuel efficient family sedan and upgraded ourselves to the Accord. (I didn’t fully realize how much my husband HATED being in my car until he started telling me how much he loved the Accord every time he got into it. Last week he actually said – this is one of the smartest purchases of my life. I pointed to my engagement ring and he said, I said ONE OF!)

Anyway, when I first bought my Toyota in 1999, I think I managed to keep it in pretty good shape for several years. Now that I think about it, the real downturn for papers / garbage and just overall ‘stuff’ being left in the car might have come around marriage… (anything I can blame on him!) So I guess it’s no surprise that my trunk is already stuffed with baby gear that I just drive around with me for no reason and there are tons of listings from our real estate search littering my front seat. But that’s not the real offense – it’s that smell of spit up sour milk and hmm, what is that lovely odor wafting towards me in the July heat? Ah yes, I believe there is still a patina of poop on the seat from last week. Note to self – never offer to sit in the backseat of the car of anyone who has very small kids…

Could you please stop talking to me?

So I think I’ve mentioned that my husband is a fire fighter / paramedic? Anyway, he was working last night and delivered a baby this morning. Apparently the woman was 41 ½ weeks pregnant and pretty far into labor, but didn’t want to go to the hospital. He told her we can do this here, but REALLY let’s go to the hospital. He finally convinced her to get into the ambulance when “her vagina was all swollen, but the baby wasn’t crowning yet.” (OK, I well know that your vagina is nothing much to look at during the process of giving birth – or well, it’s definitely something but not anything you’d WANT to look at. I made them take the mirror away from my own vagina during birth – because really? Do I want to see that? The epidural has me quite comfortably numb, but if I see it, I’ll realize it probably really hurts / will hurt later! And would I then watch the episiotomy? I mean – oh sorry… was that too much info here? Anyway, the point is, regardless of its state, isn’t one always happy to hear about the OTHER vaginas her husband is looking at?)

So he was in the ambulance with her and trying to talk her through the process. He said – here, I’ll breathe with you. I just did this with my wife and can do the breathing along with you. So he’s doing the hee-haws (fine, hee and ha for the literalists) when she turns to him and says – could you just stop talking to me?


He’s always gets mad at me when I say that to him…

Anyway, she delivered a healthy baby boy on the side of the road (once he started arriving, the ambulance pulled over) and all went well.

How are you? Obsessed, thank you. The real estate hunt continues

Being type A and – alright fine, anal retentive beyond all measure – I now must spend every waking moment looking at houses. I must run the real estate search 7 times a day (it’s been a productive work week) trying to find the elusive new house that is JUST hitting the market RIGHT NOW. So that for once WE can be the first ones. We can find it and bid first and actually have some shot in heck of winning the darn thing! It’s totally an obsession. There’s a part of me that thinks – well, it HAS to be. The market is moving so fast. Part of me just wants to take a vacation…

Back to work – thank goodness. I needed the rest.

I know I’ve complained about my job, but after the weekend of running around – and of carrying the baby carrier around, I swear to you I was almost looking forward to Monday. I know I can’t really “rest” at work – I have reports to run and stuff to do. But still – I can sit my butt in a chair all day and not life one thing over 5 lbs (hmm – how much do my computer and the breast pump weight? Whatever – those are TWO things) all day. Sure my back may feel kinked up at the end of the day – but it’ll be a different kind of kink!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Baby in the water

I tried putting the munchkin in the baby pool yesterday, but she is her mother's daughter about the cold water. There was much crying! You could see the progression on her face as we dipped her in sitting in her float - hmm, I like this toy. Oh water - I like the bath. To - what? WHAT?! This pool is unheated! She's very unimpressed with our pedestrian lifestyle.

She’ll either learn to like oatmeal or learn to cry with her mouth closed (5 months old)

Just when she was getting used to rice cereal we went and changed the rules and started feeding her oatmeal. So now I spend long intervals “buzzing” as the bug/spoon flies to her mouth to deliver the food and making train noises and attempting plane noises which it never takes me long to realize I don’t REALLY know how to do… Then there is singing – how I am growing to hate these songs. But when she’s getting tired, it doesn’t seem to matter, she just cries. And when she cries, she opens her mouth. And in goes the oatmeal.

Blood in the water (realtors)

So another couple of days off, another chance to look at houses. Oh my goodness – I forgot how old looking at houses gets how fast! It’s been about 2 weeks we’ve been really seriously focused on doing this and already I’m thinking – I don’t care. Just give me a place to live. Maybe we can stay in the condo? Maybe we can move in with your parents? Maybe we can move into my Mom’s house in NJ and commute 200 miles? Maybe we can live in a van. Down by the river! (Do you remember that sketch from Saturday Night Live?) You see where I’m going. It becomes an obsession – not just looking at websites, but everywhere you go. I went to lunch at some friends in DC on Saturday and I found myself pulling up thinking – well, it’s a sort of small lot, but it’s across from a park and it’s got a wood burning fireplace. You know it’s bad when you start evaluating real estate on tv – especially because people without real jobs can afford huge 2 bedroom apartments in cool parts of Manhattan and houses expand to practically create new wings out of nowhere on TV.

Anyway, I went out with the realtor on Friday afternoon and saw one good place that I thought it was worth bringing my husband back to. But first I must give you the sidebar on doing this without him, but with the baby – at her hungry time of day… The first house I tried putting on the wrap and breastfeeding her as I walked through. I handed the realtor my camera to take pictures of the place so I could keep things straight when we talked about them later. The munchkin was not at all happy with this arrangement and very much wanted me to sit to feed her. The second house didn’t allow the nursing possibility as there were people living there / home, but she’d calmed a bit by then and managed to fall asleep by the 3rd house. This was great in that the crying ended, but now meant lugging the extra weight of the car seat. I’ve never understood how moms manage those things – it would make me tired just helping my friends getting their kids out of their cars. It’s exhausting. To date, I’d made my husband carry it around nearly every house, but now it was my turn. I did wimp out a little and get the realtor to watch her a minute while I ran to check the upstairs (rather than lugging it up and down). Ironic as we are not generally overly trusting of realtors – but then again, it was getting really heavy…

I decided to bring my husband back to the place I’d liked on Sunday. The realtor wasn’t available, but she’d spoken to the family and they were supposed to be there to let us in. She gave us their number should we need it. We tried calling when we were nearby to let them know we’d be there shortly – but the number was disconnected! Great… So we arrive at the house and – no one is home. We knocked for a bit and then called the realtor. She was surprised no one was home and asked if we’d tried calling the home owner. I explained the phone issue and she said - ok, let me give you the combination to get the key. I was really pretty surprised by that – and started thinking, would they give out that info on my place? I know she’s been working with us a few weeks and we’re honest people – who seem honest – but still… But we’d driven all the way out there, so I was happy enough to have a way in. She gave me the combo and then started saying something else, but her cell phone was cutting out. She told me she’d call me back in 10 minutes. So we went in. My husband felt the same way about the house I did and thought it was probably worth considering making an offer. We were checking out the upstairs when my phone rang. As I had the baby, he answered and the realtor explained that she was trying to get a hold of the selling agent to come show us this place. He said – it’s ok, we got in. Well… apparently we weren’t supposed to do that (so why give us the combo?). She told us not to tell anyone we’d gotten in, as she could lose her license. Could we wait there as the selling agent would be coming shortly to show us the house? Um… OK, sure.

Then she was down to business – what did we think of it? We said we liked it and wanted to talk about what to offer for it. She told us that she thought it was priced well as they were asking below the appraisal, so we should offer the full price. So, let me give you a little more info here – this house has been on the market for THREE YEARS! They have reduced the price several times in that timeframe – but the last price reduction was 3 months ago. I realize that the place is priced well below the appraisal, but - seriously, what is an appraisal? It’s not like it’s some objective, higher power that assesses inherent value. It’s a guess of what people are willing to pay. And clearly, that guess is wrong, because no one seems willing to pay what they’re asking. To be fair – I’m not sure WHY no one is willing to pay that as it’s seems a reasonable value compared to what else we’ve seen. But I’m not going to be the one sucker who will pay that much! Anyway, I don’t know the area that well, so I’m not REALLY sure how to assess value – except that no one else is buying at that rate. She went on to tell us that the selling agent had mentioned that there were 2 disclosable issues with the house, but she didn’t know what they were. We said we’d obviously want to know what those were before we made an offer (decided on a price). Our agent said she’d follow up to see if the selling agent would tell her, as she wasn’t sure she would – even though she’d already brought them up.

Needless to say, we were not impressed and trying to figure out what to do about our agent, as we’re not exactly feeling confident going into a negotiation with her. On the one hand, she did show me this house – but then again, I was the one who found it (even though it fully met the criteria that we’d given her to search on) and pursued it. On the other hand, the “hard part”of the agent’s job is negotiating the contract and we want that done well… Anyway, we were driving away mulling this when we decided to drive through another neighborhood that we’ve been interested in, but our agent wasn’t able to show us on Sunday. We drove past one of the listings that I’d asked her about and noticed there was an open house there. She’d sent us several other open houses to check out, but hadn’t included this one – on a house we’d specifically asked about. So she wasn’t really winning big points with us here either.

We walked in and this place was NICE. A lot nicer than the one we’d just seen – but also priced quite a bit higher (beyond our stretch zone. Into our super stretch zone. Our reaching with our fingertips zone. Possibly our I can’t sleep at night because I’m not sure how we’re going to make the house payment this month zone…). The agent running the open house asked if we were working with someone. As we were annoyed, we said “sort of” and explained we weren’t totally happy with our agent. And suddenly we were on the Serengeti! I’m not sure if we were the weak gazelle or our agent was, but boy was this guy ready to pounce. And he wasn’t the only one! Cards were flying! It’s amazing how quickly realtors are ready to jump in the second you’re thinking about moving on from your realtor. There’s no ethical boundary that prevents that at all. My husband said he wasn’t sure that these guys knew how to spell ethics (though I’m pretty sure it’s got a silent “F U” in there).

Hi Baby! Making friends.

Saturday I went to lunch at some friends. They have a two year old daughter who was VERY excited by the baby. She can be a bit tough (she’s apparently the smallest in her daycare class, but “the bully.”), so they did their best to keep her away from the munchkin. She’d come within 5 feet and her Mom would run interference to body block her yelling, Be Gentle! Don’t touch the baby! She did find her way over a few times though – generally to yell – Hi Baby! (Who gave this kid chocolate? Seriously? Oh right… it was me.) Or to point out the baby’s toes. My munchkin looked up warily from her bouncer seat giving that sidelong glance she has perfected – the one that says, What on earth are you doing? My life experience is limited, but I’m pretty sure that you are patently crazy.

Actually it all went well and the munchkin MADE OUT in hand me downs! There was a huge bag of clothes of varying sizes and then a large supermarket bag full of shoes! As she currently owns one pair of shoes that fit (others that should fit, but really don’t), this was exciting. Particularly exciting were the boots (I think someone will be a cowgirl this Halloween…)! The shoes were more fashionable than mine! Apparently my friend’s little girl is really into shoes (at 2! They may have a problem here…).

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ways to freak out your boss

If he knocks on the door while you are pumping, don’t bother to put the pump or milk away before answering. He may never ask you for anything again.

Exorcist baby

Finally the night wound down – the guests went home, my husband stopped running his shuttle service and we were about ready to collapse. We were sitting around the kitchen table – and I was thanking God the baby was asleep for the night so I could have a drink! – when she woke up. I went in to see how what was wrong and realized that she’d rolled over to her belly and wasn’t happy about it. I picked her up – and she spewed all down my back and all over my Mom’s living room rug! Oops! I called for some help as I was now standing in a POOL of spit up. A pool! How does she get that much volume in her little belly? I didn’t want to track it all over and was figuring I’d have to take off my shoes to move. Her dad came in to get her and as I was taking her off my shoulder to hand her to him she let loose again – down my shirt! Not all over the front of me, but inside my shirt – like she was thinking, I don’t want to hit that nice rug again… Hmm – this shirt should do nicely to catch this refuse – blah!

I had to stop for a minute to laugh out loud at the ridiculousness of it. Unfortunately my husband had missed it, so it wasn’t till I handed her to him that he looked and saw that I was covered in spit up – and then he laughed pretty hard too! Thank God I’d laughed first… or he would have been in a lot of trouble for that!

The taxi to NYC

Later in the evening of our BBQ (see last post), my husband made the second shuttle trip to the train to drop off my other friend who had come out from NYC. As he was walking her to platform, she took a spill and fell on the ground. Not so bad – except it was walking under the underpass (we always park on the “coming home” side when we’ve gone in, so he wasn’t sure how to get to the other lot to drop her off). You don’t have to have visited my town or been on that train to KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt how that area smelled. It’s one of those times when you’re hoping to fall in the pigeon poop to protect you from the urine underneath it…

So he offered to drive her home as well. Luckily she said she was sure she could make it, but he really felt he better walk her all the way up to the platform. Apparently that was about when they ran into the drunk who saw that he had helped her up and was now walking her up the steps to the platform and said ‘you gotta take care of your girl! Walking her up all those steps? Now that’s love, man!’ My friend said no, he’s just a gentleman. Their compatriot said – ‘Fuck that shit! That’s LOVE!’ Ok… She’s a better woman than I am. If he were on my train, I would have taken up the offer of a ride!

This is our cousin. He’s going to take our piano.

So we headed home to NJ this weekend to visit my Mom and other family and friends. We convinced my Mom to let us host a BBQ at her house to make it simpler to see everyone at once. (Of course my Mom isn’t all that capable of letting anyone do all the work, so she’d already bought most of the stuff and done some set up / clean up.) We got to see a bunch of family and show off our munchkin, which was a lot of fun.

Unfortunately though, one of my cousins had to leave early due to a family emergency. He had come out of NYC, so my husband offered to give him a ride back into the city. He was a bit shaken up (his ex-wife (with whom he’s remained good friends) had taken a header down the stairs after tripping over the cat and broken her nose. Broken noses bleed a lot, so she was freaking out a bit and headed to the ER. He and their son wanted to get back to her quickly.).

Being a paramedic, my husband talked to them about what was likely happening – she might get a CT scan if they thought she’d hit her head in such a way to cause any possible brain issue, but likely they’d reset it and give her a referral for a plastic surgeon. My cousin called his wife and explained, authoritatively, that “He said” she shouldn’t leave without a CT scan (My husband jumped in to say – no, no! That’s not what “he” said!). She said the doctor had said she didn’t need one, but gave her a referral for a plastic surgeon. This was met with – “yes, I was about to tell you that that was the next thing that ‘he said’ would happen.” As she has never met my husband, I asked if she at any point asked who this guy was (and what he kept going on about!). But apparently that had been cleared up somewhere along the lines.

Given the traffic, they had some time in the car, so they talked about other things – like our attempt at finding a home and putting our condo on Craig’s list to rent. My cousin said that he’d given up on Craig’s list and had just gotten rid of a ton of stuff when he moved back to NY. He mentioned that they’d really like to get rid of this piano they have, but haven’t found anyone who wants it. As we’d kind of like a piano (if/when we have room), my husband volunteered that we’d take if we ever found a house.

Eventually they got to the city and picked up my cousin’s ex. She got in the car next to her son who made introductions to my husband – “Mom, this is the guy we were talking about. He’s going to take our piano if he gets a house.”

Note to self – never agree to anything in front of anyone under 16.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The baby and those people she lives with

I knew this was coming. I think I knew it before I even thought about children, but I certainly should have figured it out during pregnancy. Even before the baby arrived my Mom stopped bringing me back gifts from her travels and started bringing back baby gifts. (This is really OK – I think I have all the t-shirts and international tchotchke I can handle.) I guess I just didn’t know how far it would go… But I’ve realized that I have become little more than a “handler” for the baby in the eyes of most family and friends. When we visit my Mom, she now tells people that the baby and the people she lives with are coming. She updated her facebook profile to announce that her granddaughter and her entourage were arriving during our last visit. She’ll leave us to do nighttime feedings, diapers and toy and accoutrement set up (of which there are ALWAYS more when we arrive – be it things she’s bought or new hand-me-downs) – making me realize the truth. To all and sundry, I am now little more than a roadie… Man, being an incubator was so much more fun!

House hunting continued

So, what do I know – that nice house was apparently “worth” 30% more than the others – it’s gone. We went to look at the others in the neighborhood and – I know why it was that much more… Some of these places just look terrible. I really thought I was doing OK in life – why is this all I can afford?

Home Sweet… where?

Ah the house hunting saga continues… A second couple came to see our condo last night (well, not a couple – a man and his Mom. Guessing this isn’t his big bachelor pad…). They seemed to like it and wanted to move forward (luckily their timeframe is more like 4 weeks rather than next week), though they seemed like they might be a little high maintenance. (Let me clarify – everything in our condo currently works. I mean, we live there. We use it. It works. But there are things you have to “make” work a little. For instance – you may have to run the dryer more than once to get your stuff dry. Or you may have to hold down the handle on the toilet to get it to flush.) Anyway, we’ll see.

On the front of where we’re going… one of the houses I really liked is gone – under contract. The other one is still out there – and looks like it might be out there awhile, as it’s priced far higher than the other stuff in the neighborhood. Now it’s really nice and is probably worth more than the others – but probably not 30% more. So the good news is there’s probably no one else rushing for it. But then again we really can’t afford to pay way over the market value for it (or anyplace!). Of course… if we don’t find a place before we have renters at our condo, we may be moving in with my in-laws. They are very nice and generous people, but that would start to make that premium seem more reasonable! (And we’re no angels either. They might decide they’d prefer to kick in some cash than live with us for too long!)


If my watch is "water resistant," is that good enough when the munchkin decides that's the part of my arm she wants to relieve the teething pressure on?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Scared Straight: The Infant Addition

Our child care plan is a bit of a mishmash. When I first returned to work, I had wanted to come back part time – working on the days that my husband didn’t. My job really wanted me back full time, though, so they agreed I could work from home the 2 days a week he worked for 2 months and then after that one day a week. Of course “working from home” with an infant is a bit of a mess, so after a few weeks I went back to them and we worked out a part time arrangement. Our current arrangement is as follows – I work Mon-Wed. My husband works a rotating 2 (24 hour) days a week so that he will always work one of my work days. On that day, his Mom watches the baby.

Of course this doesn’t account for when he works overtime… or teaches. Or has to go to court. So this plan was bound to have some hang ups. Today’s hang up was it was his day to do daddy daycare and he needed to go to court. (As his Mom had watched her while he worked overtime yesterday and will be watching her for his normal workday tomorrow, we couldn’t ask her to do a 3rd day.) So off my not yet 5 month old went for her first brush with the law. We’ll call this the Montessori approach to teaching her about the judicial system. Or her first scared straight program.

Now, as it turns out, my husband didn’t have to testify (and therefore didn’t have to hand my angel off to the bailiff? Oh jeez… I don’t want to think about how that would have worked… Though he did know everyone there as he’s had to testify before, so there weren’t complete strangers involved. But that sounds a little like justifying…). Anyway, this case was a no show and a bench warrant was issued so he just had to wait. While he waited he met the cream of society. My favorite stories of the “people in your neighborhood,” today, Angel… are - There was a woman in her early 30’s who had been caught with pot. It was a repeat offense, so her lawyer had told her – look, I’m not going to be able to get you off. You’re going to go to jail. My husband looked at the baby and said (within their earshot) – don’t do drugs. Apparently her lawyer found it a lot funnier than she did… The other interaction was a VERY big man sat down next to my little family to await his hearing for a battery charge (can you say “thug” baby? Good girl!). The baby was looking at him (while her Dad was thinking – don’t stare! Don’t make eye contact!) and eventually shot him one of her biggest smiles. Apparently, he totally “broke character” and started baby talking to her! Ah, that’s my girl! She’ll break down even the most hardened of criminals!

I wonder what we’ll learn tomorrow…

If it’s not one thing…

So, given the bad state of the economy for selling, we’ve decided we should probably look into renting our place out so that we can move. We’re lucky that we’re able to cover the mortgage and didn’t get ourselves mixed up in some crazy deal that has escalated payments, but we still really can’t afford to sell at the moment. So we decided we should probably try to get an ad out there now to see if there’s any interest while we start looking at places. My husband posted the ad on Friday night and added a phone number on Saturday morning. We decided on a price that we thought might be a little high, but it covers our mortgage and condo fees with a little leftover to put towards taxes and insurance (not the full amount, but we can live with it in the hopes the market recovers). We got 3 phone calls and at least one serious email this weekend. Two people were scheduled to come by tonight, but one actually jumped the gun and called to say – hey, I’m in the area, can I come by now? – last night.

So that’s a weight off our shoulders and a real relief – it looks like we’ll be able to rent our place. Except… well, we don’t have any place to go yet! We didn’t want to move too far forward / put an offer on a place when we weren’t sure what the rental situation would be. I’m really not sure we could make both payments (esp. when we wipe out our savings for a down payment) if we didn’t get it rented, so we wanted to make sure that was an option. Now there are people who want to move – well, now. I mean, they want to know if they can move in next week! Oh crap… How do I get myself into these messes?

You’d think it’d be really easy to find a great house in this market… and yet still not!

Fill ‘er up

I know I mentioned I pumped 11 oz this morning (my new record). Well, records continue. I fed my daughter (on tap) after that and dropped her at Grandma’s while I headed off to work. At about 10:30 I stopped to pump again (so the first pump was about 6:30 and I fed her about 7 or 7:15) and got a good 8 oz! It usually takes 2 times to get that.

I guess I should stop and reference here, as I only recently learned how differently everyone does this (I’m way too type A for so many options). The lactation consultants had told me that I should plan to pump before work and 3 times at work. So I usually pump around 7, 10 or 10:30, 12:30 and 3:30 (all plus or minus – it seems there are a good number of times that I’m pumping as I’m shutting down my PC at the end of the day b/c I didn’t do it when I was supposed to). I usually get a good amount at that 7 am pump – maybe 8 or more ounces and then smaller amounts during the day – 4 or 5 oz, sometimes less – usually trailing off with each time.

I happened to mention to a friend of mine what a pain it was to pump at the office (I mean, I feel like I’m washing the equipment all day long). She agreed that it was a pain, but then happened to note that she’d only done it ONCE a day for her daughters. In fact, she exclusively pumped for her first daughter who wouldn’t latch and she only pumped 4 times a day for the WHOLE day. Admittedly she pumped a lot longer each time (45 minutes to my 10 or so), but she was still able to get all she needed from that. Her theory – you can train your body to do what you need it to as it’s all supply and demand. She said she figured cows only get milked once a day and they get taken care of – it’s essentially the same process, so we can make it work too.


So I throw this out there – how often do you pump to meet your baby’s needs? I’d ask how much you get, but it’s so variable based on the age of the baby and other supplements, I know I couldn’t keep it all straight.

Over the shoulder boulder holder

After speaking to some friends about the lack of sleeping, I decided I needed to try a new strategy before I spoiled the kid rotten. I’d been getting up as soon as I heard her in the night and not really waiting for her to cry (my theory had been if I got to her before she was really upset then she wouldn’t work herself up and wake herself up and she’d therefore go to sleep faster). So Friday night, I decided to wait it out. (I should note that I’d tried this theory on the 2nd feeding of Thursday night, but it turned out that that wound up being around 7 am and I eventually decided that I really wanted to go back to sleep and/or that was a reasonable time for her to wake up for a feeding – you choose. I don’t care which.) She woke up at about 3:30 am and started kicking and chattering to herself. While her chatter was not always happy, she didn’t actually cry. She just made noise. For an hour and a half! Whoa. I can’t talk to myself for an hour and a half and I’m capable of language! Well… maybe I can… but not at 3:30! But then she did go back to sleep! I was off so slept in a little, but then got up around 8:30 or so to relieve the rock hard granite blocks that were my boobs. Whoa! This didn’t happen when she previously was sleeping through the night.

Saturday, we went to visit some friends in PA for a picnic and stayed at their place. I figured I’d get her at her first noises in the night so as not to disturb them. But she actually only made one small noise around 4 am and went right back to sleep without me coming over. She woke up around 8 – and I was very happy to feed her and relieve some pressure!

I figured last night wouldn’t be so bad, as I’d have to be up early to get ready for work anyway. I should have known that if one side felt a little full going to bed, I should just go pump then. But I didn’t. My God I could have taken someone’s head off with those things! My husband’s lucky I didn’t roll over and bump into him in the night – he might have been crushed! Or seriously injured! I had to pump as soon as I woke up – and got 11 oz! I think that’s the most I’ve ever gotten in one pumping – and my breast pad was totally sodden as well, so lord knows how much was in there. I’m beginning to think of the breast pads as boob diapers now.

Still – NOT complaining if it means she sleeps through the night! I’ll deal with a little discomfort if I can sleep through it!

Being a grown up sucks, Ray

There’s that scene in Rain Man where Dustin Hoffman explains that his underwear has to come from Kmart and Tom Cruise succinctly sums up why that’s not necessary by explaining, Kmart sucks, Ray. So adding “Ray” on to our descriptions of what potentially sucks (or more to the point undeniably sucks) has been short hand in our house for the no point in discussing it further, that’s how it is. And today I must say, being a grown up sucks, Ray.

I know I’ve mentioned the lack of sleep. It bears repeating, but I’ll spare you as I could go on about that one for awhile… I think I also mentioned in an earlier post that we’re looking to buy a house. I ran the numbers again for several scenarios and, given what they’re telling us we can get for our condo, the outlook isn’t good. We sat down to discuss options and nothing seems very positive. It’s all a bit disheartening.

Sort of makes it a pain that I can’t drink these days due to nursing!

But then again – her smile does ease a lot of the stress. Probably more than a beer would. Well, probably…

The reports of my sleep are greatly exaggerated

A few days ago I wrote a blog rejoicing that the baby seemed to have made it past this phase of 3 hour wake ups and was back to sleeping regularly. Although the few weeks of waking up every 3 hours (sometimes every 1.5 hours) had been hellish and had driven me to the edge of sanity – thank goodness they were finally over. … Yup, thank goodness. I mean, one couldn’t take much more of that. One would stomp around the house annoyed and easily set off. Any little stress would drive one over the edge. One might pick fights. One would have no patience. In short - One would become a royal BITCH.

But thank goodness we dodged that bullet. Yup, thank goodness.

Except we effing didn’t! Turns out the 8 hour stretch a couple of weeks ago was the anomaly and baby is NOT sleeping more than 3 hours in a row. Yes, yes, she’s still adorable when she wakes up (blah, blah, blah, plot point) – stamping her little feet against the mattress or crib walls and smiling up at me in her coy little way as if to say – ‘why, Mom! What are you doing here? So nice to see you! Yes, I will have a little snack since you are offering – thanks so much.’

You know when she was sleeping long stretches in less than a month I knew it was too good to be true. I knew we’d be in trouble later. I figured we should save up on sleep now because she’d keep us up for the entirety of her teenage ‘experience.’ Or that her terrible twos would be just awful. But I didn’t figure she’d have us up again so often so soon – I figured we had this sleep thing down! Hmm… or maybe I should rephrase… I didn’t figure she’d have ME up so often again so soon – it’s back to my tomb of the unknown soldier watch. (To explain – my husband had told me a story several months ago about a guy he knew who was retired military. This guy had, for a time, stood guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier. I always assumed that was an honor guard – that a guard was posted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week out of respect for all those who died. If I really thought about it, I might have said it was to make sure that someone was remembering the dead at all times so that they are never forgotten even for a moment. But apparently, there is a second significance, I was never aware of. That guard is always posted so that no one ever stands guard alone in the world. If you are a lone soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan or some other lonely outpost with no one around you and you have the graveyard shift by yourself standing guard, you are never truly alone as you always know that there is at least one other soldier standing guard right now at the tomb of the unknown soldier. So in those first few weeks, when she’d be up all night and I’d be dead on my feet / at my wits end and her dad was either asleep on the floor, or, after he’d gone back to work and was also dead on his feet, possibly asleep in bed, I’d say that my 2-6 am shift with her was done with the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier. (Please note to anyone who is military – I mean NO disrespect in this at all! I’m not trying to minimize what you do and honestly know that staying up with a baby is not comparable – esp. to so many people who have to leave their babies at home. What I’m trying to say is that those witching hours alone and sleep deprived and just trying to keep my eyes open so I don’t drop her and can meet her needs could be very lonely and hard, so I was picturing the person doing them along with me. Also, this imagery created some degree of guilt for my husband and when I was working on a couple of hours of sleep and felt like a zombie, that seemed about fair!))

Anyway, I know we’re probably still doing reasonably well compared to some parents in that she does pretty much fall right back asleep after feeding her for 10 minutes, so it’s not like these interruptions steal SO much sleep. But now that I’m back at work, they do make for some LONG days to follow. I mean, I appreciated that she slept while I was home, but really I think it might have been better if she was up a little more then and slept during the night when I have to get up in the morning.

9 am and all is not so well today…

Water, water everywhere…

I’ve been trying to think how many metaphors I can mix into the story of our condo – certainly Moby Dick – though I’m not sure if our condo would be Moby Dick tormenting us or the elusive new place we hope to find. I’ll definitely make my husband Captain Ahab. Possibly The Old Man and the Sea, but I didn’t read that one, so probably not… But the best at the moment seems to be The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner where our condo hangs as an albatross from our necks, but more importantly THERE IS WATER WATER EVERYWHERE! UGH!!!

We decided a couple of weeks ago that the market is probably right for us to look to buy a new place. We knew it would be a rough market to sell in (though the picture of just how rough gets worse and worse), but we figured we’d do better in the place we’re buying to make up for it. What we didn’t count on – and probably should have – is that EVERYTHING breaks when you want to sell a place.

The first break came a week and a half ago. We suddenly noticed some water under the kitchen sink. It seems that the garbage disposal had knocked the putty on the sink fixture a little loose and some water was coming through. Luckily it was just a little bit and it was a quick fix that we (and by we I mean my husband) could easily do.

The next came about a week ago. I noticed a little water on the kitchen floor just in front of the fridge. Hmm… how odd… Did we drop ice there or something? No, not that we recalled. We wiped it up and assume it was a spill. But then the water was back. Well, crap. Yes, the fridge is leaking! But from where? Again, my husband tinkered and managed to fix it – we’d overloaded the freezer and the drain got clogged. He threw a lot out and all seems to be working well again.

So I guess it should have come as no surprise to have another leak yesterday. Truly, when I thought I heard water, I should have gone with my gut on that one, but no… It was about 10 and I was working from home and thought I heard some water in the guest bathroom. As a side note, we can always hear water running through the pipes – it’s the nature of a condo – but this sounded different. It sounded like water was spraying inside the wall, but I must just be paranoid. I called my husband at work, holding the phone to the wall, and asked if it sounded weird to him – but of course he couldn’t hear anything. He agreed that it was probably just someone running water in the building.

But it was still going on 45 minutes later… Too strange. As it was nearly 11, though, I decided I needed to shower. (I usually get online as soon as I get up when I work from home and then take care of my stuff – showering, eating breakfast, etc. when there’s a break – which is all the later with the baby in the mix now too.) I figured this would either make things worse or prove there was nothing wrong… yeah, it made things worse. Actually, truth be told, I think time just made things worse as it had hit that point. Though it’s possible I added water pressure with the shower to push through – but, as it was spraying inside the wall, cutting through was going to be necessary and the sooner the better, so I think my “worse” was actually a blessing in disguise. (I’m going to keep telling myself that.)

When I got out of the shower, the noise sounded louder / different. I went to check and that bubble of water I’d been looking for had pushed out and water was spraying into the bathroom! I threw the baby bath under the stream of water (the closest thing I had!) and a towel on the floor to catch what was dripping down the wall and ran to call my husband back to say there was an issue. But as soon as I finished dialing I realized that was stupid. He was at work and this was a building issue – I needed the management office, not him. So I hung up and dialed management – but must not have disconnected from b/c I got him instead. I frantically told him that I couldn’t talk to him as I needed to talk to building management as water was breaking through! I called the office and was told – well, we’re short staffed. I’ll send someone as soon as I can. I told him it couldn’t be “as soon as you can!” It has to be “now!” There’s a hole in my wall with water coming through. Somewhere in this process I managed to throw on some clothes (after all I expected maintenance to show up NOW!). The guy showed up a few minutes later and took his time coming in to say hi to my dog – as I tried to RUSH him to the issue. Once he saw it, he moved a bit faster!

He turned off the water and did a patch job on the pipe so he could turn it back on. A plumber is coming tomorrow and THANK GOODNESS this one is their responsibility, not ours.

Probably the most shocking / scary thing in all of this… my Mom’s emailed response started with “OMG.” Seriously. When did my Mom become a valley girl / texter…?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Take me out to the ball game!

Sunday was my sister in law’s birthday. She decided to celebrate with a party at the Orioles – she got a suite and had a bunch of friends and family there with food, drinks, cake, etc. Because she had the suite, she got some parking passes, so we were able to park very close to the stadium, head up to the air conditioned suite, eat some food, sit on the couches or comfy chairs to nurse her, etc. Besides that she had a couple of grandparents there to see to her every whim and her aunt to buy her a present (an O’s hat).

Now I know that quite clearly there was some mistake in the life planning department and we were meant to be rich. It goes without saying that one day heads will roll over the clerical error that has us middle class – struggling to buy a decent house in a nice neighborhood, unsure how to fund the 529 and planning not to take a vacation this decade. This one is a mistake of the highest order and someone will surely lose their job – just as soon as I can find the suggestion box / get off hold with the complaints department. Do I sound too bitter here? It’s just that I’ve been listening to that complaints department hold musak for quite awhile…

As it stands, however, we are not rich. So I really hope that the munchkin doesn’t think that this is how all baseball games go… We can’t have her getting used to this. I mean, among other things – she might turn out a sports fan!

The real crime was – they woke up the baby

So Saturday night was our complex’s annual pool party. We headed down for a bit and wound up sitting near a couple that has twins just a couple weeks older than our baby (but so much smaller! She looks like monster baby near them!). The husband told us that had he known there would be so many babies there he would have pushed his wife to wear her twins shirt that says – one baby? I laugh at your one baby. That is awesome! It would almost be worth having twins for that! OK, not really. But certainly any of my friends with twins will receive that as a gift!

Anyway, the party was pretty low key. It just added to my weekend of terrible eating (which culminated in the baseball game on Sunday) – both from a calories perspective and a things a nursing mom shouldn’t eat perspective. Today’s slip from perfection – a cold deli sandwich. (I didn’t have the beer till after the baby went to sleep – does it still count…?) We had a friend join us – a single guy that I used to work with. The munchkin did prove a total chick magnet – unfortunately not so much a BABE magnet… She was drawing a lot more grandmas than young ones (did we pick a bad seat?). Ah well. We’ll have to let him try again in better fishing grounds.

Our munchkin got fussy fairly early, so we headed up. I’m not sure if she was just tired or was upset when her dad (jokingly!) had her “talking smack” and threatening to fight one of the twins. Clearly – she is a lover, not a fighter. That or she realized that while she’s a lot bigger, there are two of them! Either way, it was not a late night for us and we got to bed by about 10 (sadly this is a Saturday night bliss for us now!). This was all good till we were woken from a deep sleep by someone screaming outside at a little after 2. We went to the window and couldn’t see anything, so my husband decided to go downstairs and see what’s going on while I called 911. On the one hand, I’m glad I’m married to a man who “can’t just listen to a woman screaming outside and not check it out.” On the other, the big wimp in me says – can’t we let someone else check it out…? I know, I know… Anyway, as he headed down I explained to the 911 operator that I heard a woman screaming and a man yelling at her, but I couldn’t make it out what she was saying and gave him our address. My husband came back upstairs, as they went into their car (to continue to yell) as they saw him. So we waited. After about 20 minutes, we got agitated – where are the police? My husband called the non-emergency number and found out that our call had been queued as a “disorderly” rather than a potential domestic violence, so it had very low priority as a response. As it NOW seemed that disorderly was probably the right call and the disturbance had ended, he cancelled the call (not to sound paranoid – but why is anyone allowed to cancel a call? Couldn’t it be the perpetrator canceling the call?), but this had us a bit worried… Shouldn’t a response time be under 25 minutes?

During this time, I’d checked in on the baby – she was, of course, awake from all this, but not making much noise. Just kicking her feet and playing. By the time we were ready to go back to sleep – she was ready to eat. And worse, had been up long enough that she was really awake / ready to play! Ugh. Can I press charges for that?

To sleep – perchance to dream!

Sleep has returned. I repeat. Sleep has returned. Stand down! Crisis averted. Hallelujah and praise be!

Thursday night my husband took a turn on the night shift as the constant waking up every few hours had been going on too long and I was starting to get … a bit edgy … about it. OK, I couldn’t think straight. So he did the 2 am and 5 am feeding while I, theoretically, got to sleep. Unfortunately I don’t think I slept at all while he got her at 2 (but I didn’t have to get up!) and I was awake for at least part of the time at 5 – and never really got back to sleep. My body knew this was its job and wasn’t taking to me taking it lying down! So I was a little better rested, but still not so hot. But then Saturday night – a front was broken! She was only up once! At 3 am. I’d stayed up too late, so I didn’t get as much advantage from this as I should, but still - I was managing some consistent hours of sleep around the feeding – thank goodness! And then a small miracle occurred – Sunday night – she slept right through! Oh thank goodness! We’re back to level we were at 2 months ago… There is a chance for sanity yet! Last night she was only up once again – at 5 or so – and then, apparently, slept in till 10:30 after that feeding. She even went back for a nap at 11:30. My one question on this – why does that never happen on one of my watch days? Or even my husband’s? My friend insists – she already knows that Grandma is the soft touch! Great – we’re already set up for – I don’t know what you are talking about. She was a perfect angel for me. Let the games begin!

Monday, August 17, 2009

There’s no feeling like it

I had heard that parenting was a crazy / amazing ride and that you’ll feel different your whole life after the moment it happens. But you never quite know what that means until it happens to you. I started to get it pregnant – when I’d be utterly paranoid about anything happening to her as she grew – but it’s only hit me recently how very true this is now a few months in. Of course there were signs…

The first sign probably should have been the first poop – the merconium – at the hospital. My husband showed it to everyone (those poor nurses) and took a picture of it. Now even I thought he was weird here, so maybe the full measure of change of parenting hadn’t hit me yet. Or maybe they’d given me better pain killers.

Another early sign that should have caught me was that I didn’t much seem to mind being pooped or peed on. I’d look down at a stain on my clothes and wonder – do I really have to change this right now? I sort of washed it off and I’m tired and have other stuff to do. Now, I’m not saying I’m the most fastidious dresser on a regular occasion. I wish I could say I was. I admire people who are. But me? Yeah, my hair is probably in a ponytail or some makeshift bun. I’m probably not wearing make-up. My clothes are probably a bit bland and more comfortable looking than fashionable. Heck - my shoes probably aren’t even that cute (now I used to try there! But I seem to have lost my ability in heels since their hiatus during pregnancy). But even in my worst pre-child state, my clothes were usually clean – or at the very least devoid of excrement! For the record, almost every time I’ve looked down and said – do I really need to change due to the poop, I’ve come up with yes as answer. Almost.

But I think the one that should really have given me a clue was my pleasure at seeing her no matter what the hour. I’ll be lying in bed, deeply asleep just trying to catch up, and I’ll hear her wake up at whatever ungodly hour. I’ll silently groan/moan to myself (or possibly not whatsoever silently grown/moan to my husband) and try to push the dog out of the way to struggle out of bed (the dog will immediately steal my spot). I’ll stumble over to her room (sometimes literally stumbling and walking into a wall on my way – it’s just the new levels of tired that I didn’t know existed before), grumpy the whole way. And then when I get to her crib and look down at her – she smiles at me! You’d think this would infuriate me. I mean, seriously, any other person or life form that cried out in need, but then smiled at my arrival – indicating the need wasn’t so great that you REALLY had to be crying about it right now and waking me up – I’d get mad at / be infuriated by. But she smiles her little flirty smile that says, I’m just so happy to see you, and I have to smile back. I may not be able to fully keep my eyes open for the feeding and may put her right back after – but I look at how angelic she now looks full and sleeping – and I don’t mind getting up so much. (Reader’s note: This was NOT true the first 3 weeks when she was just up all night! Or not as true anyway.)

But it occurs to me that this change in my feeling will be true in all things. In the first few weeks when she was home and I was exhausted and hormonal and weepy, I lamented to think that she’d break my heart for the rest of my life (oh jeez – did I risk being one of THOSE mothers?!) – as she grew and walked away. But I now realize that in life I’m set up to experience pride and joy like I never have before.

It also had occurred to me that it’s created a new hierarchy in life for me in more ways than I even thought. As I was saying my prayers last night (ok, the quick bless ‘ems that I try to do before collapsing), I realized how the order had changed. As a child, I always prayed for me first, then my parents, then my brother (cause I liked him least!) and then extended family or friends. Now I always pray for this child first and focus on that one most. Then my husband and then me. (Then my parents and last my brother – cause I still like him least! – and then whoever else is making the cut on any given day.)

Our happy home – is out there somewhere!

I came home Monday to yet ANOTHER notice on the entrance to our condo that the AC would be turned off for a day or more and the hot water would be turned off all day on Friday (starting at 8 rather than 9 this time) for work on the pipes. I’d been having a bad day already – well, sort of. I mean, nothing really happened. And maybe that was the bad part. I’d spent another relatively boring day at my job and was beginning to realize how mired down I’d become in the day to day without seeing much light at the end of the tunnel. I’ll soon be moving to part time (to have more time with the baby – yeah!) and my job will become even more clerical / less of a career. It was one of those days that will stymie the optimist in anyone and make you wonder about your career choice. So when I came home to find yet more work on the building making me feel like I’m in an overpriced tenement, I was really feeling like I was going to lose it – I mean what am I working so hard for? I can barely provide for my child! I forgot to mention I found ants in the kitchen the other day – so now we’ve got bugs, no AC in June and no hot water! Maybe this should all be upper case – BUGS, NO AC IN JUNE AND NO HOT WATER! Upper case because that’s really how rational I was feeling about the whole thing.

It doesn’t help that the real estate market has turned markedly down since I bought the place (yes, you all live on this planet too and know this), so we’ll get a lot less out than we put in (despite home improvements – some of which while I was 9 months pregnant no less!)). So, of course, I was feeling a bit trapped. Can we afford to move? What’s the market like? The last time I looked, it was still painful to buy (apparently only our place lost value. Oh, and yours. I know yours did too.). So I wallowed in my self pity for an evening, blamed karma and mused – was I possibly Hitler in a past life that I have inherited so much bad karma? (My husband was none too pleased with such musings as I have, OF COURSE, taking one thing and made it into everything. Somehow the notice about AC and water means that we’ll never be able to afford a house and therefore never have more children, but we couldn’t afford them anyway as our daughter is going to have to go to community college as it is – unless she continues on her current growth path and gets a volleyball scholarship!)

So yesterday I decided to check the listings and… I feel like I should have a drum roll here… It looks like the rest of the market may have fallen as far as we have! We may just be able to afford something! And, more than that, it’s conceivably possible that we’ll be able to get a little cash when we sell our place. Not a lot. Not as much as we’ve put in. But some! Enough to bolster our current meager savings into an actual down payment! We may not have to live in squalor (the squalor of a perfectly nice and reasonably sized two bedroom condo – although I swear we’ve had shady neighbors in the past!) and may actually make it out alive!

No, I don’t exaggerate. But now that you mention it, I wonder if there’s any chance I’m starting to get my period back despite breastfeeding… Or maybe you get the monthly hormonal swings even without the bleeding – if it’s possible, I think I might be the one to do it!

My Mama bear instincts become mama bird instincts

My husband recently noticed that we have a robin living on top of the storage locker on our balcony. Checking further, he was able to see that she’d laid at least one egg. It’s too tall for even him to see, but he held the camera up and checked out the results. (We’ve since learned that robins apparently lay one egg at a time, but can lay many over a series of days – so there may be more there now).

We decided to name our robin, Mackenzie Robin (after my initial suggestion of “Rockin” was thrown out). I like the name, but we had agreed when deciding on names not to name our child anything on a top 20 list for this year – no name that would immediately tell you what year (within 5) the baby was born. (Like, I was born in the mid -70’s (yes, I am old!). When I meet someone who might be about my age, but might be 10 years older (or younger, as the case may be) and she tells me her name is Jennifer – I can probably guess she is my age. If she said, Ashley, I’d guess she was 10 years younger. Years from now, this will work in the same way for Emma and Isabella.) Mackenzie’s offspring are not yet named, but they will have to have androgynous names (pretty easy to do on the top 20 list these days), as I don’t know that we’ll ever get close enough to know their gender… Not that Mackenzie and I are necessarily that close, but there are eggs involved so, you know, I’m guessing. I suppose technically it could be a stay at home dad robin… But I don’t want to make this into a social commentary! ;)

Today, Mackenzie was off doing her robin thing (in this case, I will suggest she was “rockin.”) and a crow showed up! I don’t think I even knew that crows eat other birds young / eggs, but my whacked out hormones had me running to the sliding door to pound on the glass – thus setting off the dog barking – to scare it off! You know that this had to be caused by a hormonal imbalance as I didn’t even worry (for more than a couple of seconds) that this pounding would wake up the baby sleeping nearby! Miracle of miracles, the baby understands the importance of defending the small members of the circle of life and she WENT BACK TO SLEEP after the disruption!

I, however, have not so easily calmed! I’m all riled up and planning to stake out the balcony from future “invaders.” This might be a bit more than the average normal response…. Should I worry?

Rice cereal

From my prior post you know I was pretty excited for the start of rice cereal. Yes, it does mean she’s growing up and I can take a moment to sniffle about that, but as a first child we are clearly most excited for all her new developments! And rice cereal was a big step! And let’s not forget – she wasn’t exactly sleeping a lot at the moment per se. She had slept really well for awhile, but in the last few weeks, she started getting up every few hours again – a development I was NOT happy about (nobody told me they could regress like that? What is this? The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – we need to move forward toward full night’s sleep! And, you know, picking up your own toys…). Anyway, the doctor had said that the rice cereal at night might fill her up more and she’d sleep better.

So my husband was sent off to pick up rice cereal on Friday afternoon so we could get started. As an aside, the lactation consultants (or lactation Nazis, if you prefer) called that afternoon. I didn’t give them a lot of opportunity to tell me that I shouldn’t be introducing any foods (possibly till she started high school if they had their way…), but they point out that rice cereal might not help her sleep. It might, in fact, have her up even more as the iron could cause an upset stomach. Ugh…

Of course, 2 days later I still have no idea whether rice cereal helps babies sleep or keeps them up – because I don’t think I’ve actually gotten enough in her mouth to know! Well, that might not be totally true. I think it gets in her mouth – it just comes RIGHT BACK OUT! Don’t pass go. Don’t collect $200.

My first problem is that the rice cereal box really has no directions on how to do this. I would have asked my doctor, but I sort of assumed that the box would have SOME preparation instructions. But nothing! The first time I made it, I just put an indeterminate amount of breast milk in – not really measured. Let’s go ahead and call it… 3 ounces with one tablespoon of rice cereal. Could be more / could be less. Who knows? Whatever the amount, my Mom, who was visiting on the weekend pronounced it too much (though she couldn’t remember how much one should use or how thick it should be). Anyway, she seemed to take some of that and actually had a pretty good nap after – so the “helps her sleep” camp definitely seemed to have the upper hand.

With her evening meal of rice cereal, I decided to actually measure out the milk and my husband decided to check the internet for info on how much we should mix in (because Google knows everything!). I tried 1 ounce – and he now pronounced it too thin (per Google), though I thought it was still too thick. He attempted to get her to eat it – and I think her bib really enjoyed it. Midway through the dog came sniffing over (what? Food?!) and had to be pushed away. (My husband’s theory was the dog was ticked about this as he has not been happy with this addition of a new person to the household who takes our attention from him and does not herself lavish attention on him. We’ve always said he will learn to love her when she starts dropping food – so being pushed away at the first opportunity for that couldn’t possibly be sitting well with him!) Anyway, she was far less happy with this meal of thicker cereal and started crying midway through. My husband’s decided we should stop trying to feed her (she’s upset. You can’t ‘reason’ with someone this upset so you can’t continue this activity with her.). I opted for giving her the bottle for a few minutes to calm down and then returning to feeding. (Is it just me? Or do Moms seem more prone to push on where Dads give up? Or, if you prefer to be all “21st century” and gender neutral, you can replace Moms and Dads with primary and secondary care givers – but I myself don’t plan to!)

Day 2, I decided on the compromise of 2 ounces of breastmilk to a tablespoon of rice cereal. I’m not sure that ANY of it actually made it past her esophagus in the morning. Now it’s possible that she MIGHT have actually gotten some down in the evening. But how this would effect sleep will remain a mystery as it all came right back up after her bath… Ugh.

See you. 2 am. My crib.

The 4 month doctor visit

We just had our 4 month well baby visit. I was pretty excited to go to get to see how big she is now and how long she’s growing. I’d measured her at home at 27 inches a week or so ago (as best I could given the squirming) and wanted to get the more exact measure, which I was convinced would be longer than that. Can you tell I’m a first time Mom here? Yeah… Apparently in my exuberance, I’m measured a bit of myself in there too and got her almost 2 inches longer than she actually is (25 ¼ inches). I know 2 inches isn’t really a lot – it’s a good percentage of her though! I mean, I’d been AMAZED by her growth to 27 inches (as well one would be, I’ve now discovered, since her actually length is in the 90th percentile). I’d measured her at 24 inches a little over a month ago (God knows how big she really was then…) and couldn’t believe she could grow 3 inches in a month (and again, this might be because she possibly can’t…). I kept pointing out that that would be like me growing 7 or 8 inches or my husband growing 9 inches in a month - to which my Mom noted – but she’s a baby. She’s actually supposed to grow. You are done now. Well, yes I know that, but that’s not the point!

Anyway, I was also convinced that she must weight a good 15 lbs by now (if my aching back is any indication!) and was equally surprised to find she weighed on 13 lbs 7 oz. In fact, when I saw the weight, I commented that I would have thought more. The poor young, tentative nurse said – ‘well, we can do it again to check it.’ No, that’s OK, I’m pretty sure the digital workings inside will probably come back with a fairly consistent answer on this. When did I get so old that I want to call the nurse Opie and pat her on the head? It’s not just me. After the shots, my husband felt the need to look at her and say – ‘you did a good job.’ I’m not sure if this is because WE would certainly need some assurance if we ever made the baby cry like that…

The visit with the doctor overall went well – despite the fact that shots were looming at the end. She very patiently sat through my multitudes of questions. For reference, I’m improving – I had “only” 13 this time. Down from 17 at our last visit. She told us that the baby was growing well and thriving and that we could start her on rice cereal! (How exciting!)

And then came the dreaded shots. This is our third time with shots, so we should be used to it, but I’m not sure I can ever get used to that noise she makes. She honestly wasn’t as bad this time. Her cry really just BARELY made me feel like I should be brought before a war crimes tribunal. And she only cried for a few minutes this time. I’d be happy for the improvement, but the sounds of the young boy in the room next to us reminded me that it will get worse again. He would stop crying to give a very distinct and thought out – “Mommy, no!” or I’m not gonna!” I had almost forgotten that in a few more years, she’ll start to remember these things and know what’s coming when she goes to the doctor…

I don’t even have any really good tricks for when that happens as my parents had it a bit easier on this front. My uncle was my doctor and his office was attached to his house. So I knew that I just had to sit through my shot and then I got to go play with my cousin because my Dad would chat with my aunt for at least and hour or two. I can still remember at least one occasion where my brother had come along and was off playing with my cousin while I got my shot (already a travesty of injustice in my opinion). When they finished, I got a lollipop and my uncle told me to take one for my brother and cousin as well. What, why? I can remember bringing the lollipops off to find them and thinking – why do they get lollipops? They didn’t have to get a shot.

Ah yes… clearly the good years are ahead of me.

Short timer

Now that I’ve given notice, it’s amazing how flexible everything is. I can still work from home two days a week – or more if I want. All the stuff that was transitioning to me while my colleague went on maternity leave is not now transitioning (well, most of it). I have to admit that that was part of what was tipping the scales towards leaving – a lot of other stuff was about to get piled on. I knew I’d be working long hours. It wasn’t just that I’d be spending 40 hours of work away from my baby. It felt more like I’d be leaving in the morning before she was up and barely making it back for bedtime. There was also the issue that I’d never see my husband… But now those aren’t an issue. I do still feel tethered on my work from home days, but it’s all short term.

And then I had the weirdest conversation the other day. I was working with another director in my group on my boss’s org chart (don’t ask how I get these things) and he mentioned that he was sorry to see me go. I mentioned that I’d wanted to come back part time, but that since it wasn’t an option, I was leaving. Well, he was up in arms! What did I mean that part time wasn’t an option? It’s the 21st century! Did I still want part time? He’d follow up! He’d champion in.

The problem was… I wasn’t entirely sure I did want part time. I mean, it would be smart. We could use the money. It would be good… But … Well, I’d just had to make this decision. Again. But then again maybe nothing will come of it.

Oh good I get to decide this again

After my conversation with my colleague about part time, I didn’t hear anything, so I assume nothing was coming of it. Last week, we finally got to the 2 week window and I sent my boss a message to let him know that I was sending a message to HR that day. I had it all composed. I just had to hit send. I was just having such a hard time hitting send. I was staring at it when my boss called. In the 11th hour (and 59th minute) he asked – what do you think about part time? (AAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!) The weird thing was – it was obvious that he still wasn’t 100% sure about part time. He wanted to know if I wanted it – IF he offered it to me – which he wasn’t sure he wanted to do. I managed to keep my options open and told him to think about if he wanted to do it this weekend while I thought about if I wanted it.

So it’s been another weekend of tossing and turning. I REALLY don’t know what I want. (I’m just so glad that I get to make this decision – one of the hardest in life – AGAIN!). A big part of me just wants to “blow this popsicle stand” and call it quits. But a part of me knows that we could really use the money and I’d be stupid to not at least TRY the part time option. I’ve been debating it all weekend. I’ve decided that I think I’ll suggest we do a trial period while my other colleague is on maternity leave – we can see how it works for both of us and go from there. Right now I’m thinking I’m going to quit at the end of the ‘trial period,’ but I don’t honestly know. Luckily, I’ll have the opportunity to really stress over this again and decide again then…

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Possibly the only person happy about my return to work is my mother in law. Not that she doesn’t want me to be home or wants me to be unhappy! But I think she’s been DYING to get her hands on this baby more. She had offered to come over the first day back to help my husband with the baby. In the end, she spent the whole day there. (She was still there when I got home – and was just dying to be alone to get overly weepy about seeing my baby and the time lost!) The next day was one of my “work from home” days – she came over to help so I could be sure to be productive. The next two days were my husband’s – she was back for both of them!

Meanwhile back at the ranch…

I was headed into work each day and still crying most of the way in. I know it was only a few days, but it wasn’t getting any easier. My husband and I kept saying – we won’t make any decisions until the weekend, but then would talk about what we’d do when I was home all the time. It was probably best that I was pretty resigned to being home full time as it got me through the days. My third day back one of my coworkers came back from vacation and kept asking how I was doing. It was like she was trying to make me cry – man, I know it’s SO hard. And you just feel like you’re missing so much. The worst part was she made a point of saying how lucky she was that she hadn’t had to face that as she was able to stay home with her kids when they were young. (Sure I’m sure she was just trying to sympathize, but it felt like she was trying to pour salt in the wound!)

It was nice to be able to work from home, but the truth was I felt like I was cheating everyone. I wasn’t really focused on work and therefore cheating them. I wasn’t really focused on the baby – so I was cheating her. I’d lay her on the couch next to me while I worked and she’d look so damn bored. Seriously. She’d catnap during the day, but I think she was just bored to death! And what did that say about my intellectual stimulation? The doctor at her 4 month appt had told us that more than 1 hour of TV a day for a child under 5 reduced test scores by 20 points (I’m not sure what test…). So, sure we weren’t watching TV (well, not much), but I wasn’t exactly stimulating her. I began to worry that she might be better off in daycare. Beyond all that, I felt cheated. I felt tethered to my computer – I couldn’t go out and experience the world. We could barely take a decent walk with the dog. So I was home all day with this baby and felt starved for something more. I loved being with her, but the arrangement was really tough from all sides.

By the end of the week, our decision was pretty much made. As part time wasn’t an option, I was going to quit. In fact, I wasn’t even sure I wanted part time anymore. I just wanted to be able to spend time with my family. But I still held off on telling my boss… I rationalized that I wanted to wait till closer to two weeks so he’d think I took it all seriously, but a big part of me was just scared to quit for all the reasons I’d listed before.

I finally decided to tell him on Wednesday. I was working from home on Thursday and knew that the other pregnant person in my office MIGHT be starting bed rest on Friday, so I wanted to talk to him before that. He was surprised – but surprisingly supportive. And then he said something … odd – well, what if we could work out part time? (What? What?) He didn’t really pursue the path and again indicated it wasn’t too likely, but my insides were screaming – wasn’t that what I’d been asking for?

Because I wanted to maintain a good relationship (and probably because I was scared to quit), I told him I could be very flexible on my last day. We were just getting into the Q3 forecast period, which was a tough time to lose staff – particularly with another person due to go on maternity shortly. I agreed to stay through the forecast - about a month. My boss asked me not to give notice to HR yet, as involving “corporate” might take away some of the flexibility. (My thought is that as long as I give the proper 2 weeks notice (and can’t have any issues there) – I don’t really care.)

So Thursday I worked from home as word started to get out about my leaving – and that night the other woman in my group went into labor! Glad I talked to my boss early – would have felt a little bad about that timing!