Thursday, November 18, 2010

Over it

I am so done. I've never felt this physically and emotionally sapped in my life. Actually, I probably have, but I'm a champ at repressing and forgetting bad memories and this will certainly be one of them.

The culprit? Work. What else. I just can't do this anymore. I give and give and give and get nothing in return. I guess a paycheck counts. But that's not enough. It's never been enough. So unfortunate that I need that paycheck. Because I might be tempted to just walk out the door, go home, and not come back.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I am an urbanite

A good friend of mine currently lives in a busy metropolitan city, but dreams of having a big house in the suburbs. One of these days, she and I will sit down to discuss her desire to live there. But it's made me think of my own strong aversion to suburbia.

First off, I've never lived in a suburb, at least that I remember. I grew up in a very rural setting, with trees and cow pastures, country roads and dirt or gravel driveways. My house was on a street - no neighborhood, no subdivision, no HOA, just a street. It was off the beaten path and away from traffic, but also from people. Sure, we had neighbors, but I had no friends whose houses I could walk to, even if I'd been allowed to walk on the street (I wasn't).

Friday, September 24, 2010

Did it work?

After my last post about work-life balance, I took a long break from blogging (and from reading blogs - my Google reader was up to ~800 posts. yikes!). Recently I bought a book about getting work and life to be in better harmony (review on that to come another day). So, did the time and perspective help any?

Unfortunately, nope.

I actually ended up doing that oh-so-embarrassing thing called practically killing myself (OK, maybe that's melodramatic, but I WAS told to go to the ER). Instead of life getting simpler, it got busier. And then I got pregnant. And anyone who's been there know how entirely awful first trimester can be. I won't list all of my woes, but suffice to say my body gave up on me.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Out of balance

I've always been a busy person. It's part of my personality - as an ESTJ I am a "joiner" and thrive on interacting with and belonging to different groups (more about personality types on another day!). So, of course, that translates into being just a bit busy.

When I was in high school, I was in numerous clubs. National Honor Society, National Art Honor Society, Spanish Club, Key Club, Forensics, and the high school swim team plus a year-round swim team. And it wasn't enough to just show up for the attendance check - I was an officer in several and on volunteer committees for others. In my last two years I also held down several jobs and had a serious boyfriend (my nowadays-husband). I rarely partied and was a classic example of How To Keep Your Kids Out Of Trouble. If they're so busy they can barely sleep or get homework done, they're probably not out boozing and having sex. At least, I wasn't.

In college it was much of the same. Any one of my extracurriculars would have been (and was) enough for most people. Not for me! I had a few jobs (my record was 7 one summer), NCAA swim team, a cappella group, and was elected to the Honor Council all four years. Maybe not as impressive as my high school activity resume, but you do have to fit drinking in there somewhere! My senior year, I was selected to speak to a large group of high school seniors and their parents about college. My assigned topic? Balance.

The irony was not lost on me. The best way to achieve balance? Do less. Pick one or two activities and stick with them. Plan and schedule your classes and homework to spread out your workload. Too bad I could never follow my own advice. I regularly had (non-medical and probably minor) nervous breakdowns that consisted of lots of crying and wringing of hands. After I graduated and made it into the "real world," all of that changed.

At first, I had four hours of commuting every day and was planning a wedding. So those few months were a blur I'd rather not remember. But then, it was done. I was married. I'd moved closer to work. For the first time I could ever remember, I had free time.

I won't go over the particulars, but I did find some ways to amuse myself, including re-discovering internet message boards and TV.

But fast-forward a few years, and I find myself almost back to where I was in my youth. Overwhelmed, out-of-balance, and on the verge of a breakdown. I could blame it all on my new job. As wonderful as it is (what with normal co-workers), it's a longer day. I've also lost my telecommute day, and am beginning to despair that I will not get it back.

But I know it's me too. I'm trying to do too much again, and I'm lacking the proper perspective to cut back. I'm fairly entrenched in two different groups that meet monthly - during the 3rd week of course. And I'm trying to get into others. I'm back singing with my church group. I'm still working part-time on other people's websites. I'm still doing cloth diapers, though my diapers are starting to show the signs that I can really only wash them once a week.

And then there's all the mommy chores. Cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping and meal planning. Paying the bills and setting our budget. Washing the baby's clothes and sometimes washing my own. Nursing - though not as often anymore. Arranging appointments and play dates. Trying to see my non-mommy friends so they don't think I've gone to the Dark Side (which I have, but I'm trying to strike that balance again).

And now, if I follow my "life plan," I will be trying to get pregnant next month. Is it too much? Will this really push me off the deep end? Last time around the first trimester was awful. I'm pretty sure I was depressed, at the very least I know I was incredibly apathetic. That won't work with a toddler underfoot.

Am I being selfish by wanting a big family? I know a lot of people think that way. I tend to disagree, but my own life has me wondering lately. I'm clearly out of balance. I'm not sure how to get realigned. Maybe pregnancy will do that for me. Maybe next week, or next month, I'll have an epiphany and get things in order. Or maybe, I'll make a slow descent into crazy-town and everything will fall apart.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Why I love lists

  1. They keep me organized. Who doesn't love organization? Except when you have lists of lists. Watch out for that.
  2. Crossing items off gives me a sense of accomplishment. Which is why it's terrible that my to-do list for work today has nothing crossed off, and I've been here for 6.5 hours already.
  3. They're useful in all situations - for work projects, grocery shopping, Christmas, errands, weekend activities, books to read, and blogging.
  4. Everyone else knows I've got my shit together. Boss - "What are you working on today?" Me - "I've got a list!" Husband - "What's for dinner?" Me - "I've got a list!" Friend - "Are we going out this weekend?" Me - "I've got a list!"
  5. Once a list has been created, I can turn my brain off. This is especially useful on Friday afternoons at work. I don't need to think about what I need to do, I just need to look at the list.
  6. You can dress them up. My current "To-Do" list has different color pen and highlighter on it. Because some things are more important than others, but that doesn't mean I remembered to write the most important things first. Or second. Or at all.
  7. Superlatives rule. Some lists (unlike this rambling, unordered one) are all about Top 10, Top 5, Top 1000. They tell you the best vacation spots, top beaches, best recipes, hottest nightclubs, cheapest stores, ugliest prom dresses. Without lists, how would any of this information come to light?
  8. They come in all shapes and sizes. Like I mentioned in #7, you can have pretty much any "Top [insert number here]" list. And people will read it, regardless of how ridiculously long. You can also get them in print, on a post-it note, in a magazine, or on a website. I've even seen billboards with lists.
  9. They make a great crutch/scapegoat. If I forget something at the store, that's OK - I'll blame it on the list. Maybe I forgot it, or maybe I just missed an item. Doesn't matter, I can't be held to blame for a missing/faulty/hard-to-read list. And if I'm out without a list, well then obviously I won't be able to function until I find some paper and a pen and make a list. Until then, I wander aimlessly asking, "What do I need? Where am I? What year is it?"
  10. They're fun! Ok, maybe this is just me. But when it comes to re-prioritizing my life, re-balancing, and re-directing my energies - list making is key. I've made three lists today, and already I feel better. Try it for yourself!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sweden does it again

Yesterday, a friend sent me a really interesting article on the proposed extension of paid paternal leave in Sweden.

Anyone familiar with US law will note a few interesting tidbits in that sentence:
  1. Paternal leave - yep, something nonexistent in the US
  2. Paid - the mother of all qualifiers. 
  3. Extension - which means that not only did they already have it, they're making it better.
Excuse me while the waves of jealousy rage over me...

Ok. Now I'm better. Where do I start? I was shocked, aghast, and amazed (and not in a good way) when, upon getting pregnant, I learned the US doesn't mandate paid maternity leave. I'd read my employer's personnel manual, and honestly when I read the words "up to 12 weeks of family leave" never did it cross my mind that this "family leave" was unpaid. Sure, some private employers offer paid leave (less than 3 percent), and two states have stepped in to do the same (California and New Jersey), but the federal government does not. And our country is one of four - yes four - in the entire WORLD that doesn't.

What is wrong with that picture? So, so much.

But getting back to the article - it lays out the current picture in Sweden. 85 percent of Swedish fathers now take paternal leave. The country allots 13 months of paid leave to new parents - and currently sets aside two of those months just for dads. There will be a decision soon on doubling that.

How awesome. Seriously. Yet here in the U.S., not only do we not have paid leave for mothers, anyone suggesting something of the sort for fathers is laughed at. Or committed. Why?

I understand that everything isn't all roses and rainbows in Sweden. Yes, their taxes are 47 percent. Yes, the country is not as big or diverse as the U.S. Yes, they're socialists (though contrary to popular belief socialists are not communists and neither eat babies).

But in this aspect, they set a beautiful example that the rest of the world would be smart to follow. In this country, we're so far away from that goal it's astonishing.

So, all of this has been on my mind recently because I'm getting the itch again. My current job, with a total of three employees, doesn't follow FMLA. I may very well lose this job when I have another baby. Knowing that may happen, I can take steps now so that we're not in dire straights when the time comes, but woe to those newly-pregnant mothers AND fathers who can't.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mothers' Day!

This is my second mothers' day. Adrian is in good sorts today, despite the several molars that are just now poking through, and the fact that we're visiting with my parents this weekend rather than in the comfort of our own home.

Happy Mothers' Day to all of the moms out there - it's a hard job, but someone's gotta do it! And it's worth everything. It's wonderful to see all of the facebook postings with good wishes for today, and this is probably the one day when the whole mom community comes out to support each other, rather than bickering over parenting choice. What brings us all together today is the fact that we are ALL parents, and regardless of our choices, we do the best we can.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Back Home

Last week was trying. Mostly in good ways, but I've decided it's probably not healthy - mentally or physically - to be that busy. Which is ironic, considering that's how I spent my high school and college years.

I'm not sure how, but I made it through last week. It was a bit of an emotional roller coaster, to say the least.

DS is teething something major. I think his molars are coming in, though he won't let me look and bites me if I try to get a feel. That led to a rather sleepless night last Sunday (before my trip), which led to both of us passing out around 7pm on Monday night. So I got nothing done that evening. Tuesday and Wednesday night were meetings, and I got home at 10:30 and 11:00 pm, respectively. Thursday night was departure night! My flight didn't leave until Friday morning, but I wasn't driving and the ladies who were lived 20 mins away, and closer to the airport. It would be a bit much to expect to be picked up at 4:30 am just so I cold hold DS for a few hours more. Didn't stop the tears, though.

Let me say that I am not a crier. No offense to those who are, but I tend to keep my emotions in check and hate the thought of being seen as "weak." A pride issue more than anything, but I'm working on it. Regardless, I was bawling like a baby when I left home Thursday night. I barely slept that evening and spent a marathon day traveling on Friday.

California itself was a blast. Everyone was really cool, and I had a lot of fun. And a lot of drinks. Really took me back to my college days (not that I was a boozehound, but I knew how to party). And, as sad as it is, being drunk each night certainly helped me sleep, instead of laying awake worried about DS.

We got back Sunday evening. He was in tears on seeing me, and spent about 2 hours firmly attached to my breasts. He had refused any bottles or sippy cups of milk while I was gone, so he was making up for it with a vengeance. And that made me very happy, though I can't tell you how sore I was the first part of this week. It was almost (almost) as bad as nursing a newborn again. But the emotional joy makes up in spades for the physical pain. I know which one is temporary, and which one will be with me forever.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

First time for everything

This has been a stressful week. The new job is going well, but I have two meetings (one yesterday and one tomorrow) at which I must represent my new company, take notes, and write something intelligent for distribution. That would be much, much easier if I had any clue what was going on. A lot of the information is highly technical, and my English degree didn't include a concentration in trade policy. My new boss understands, though, and just wants to expose me a bit more to the industry. I wonder if they'll be serving wine at the lunch meeting tomorrow? I could certainly use some fortification.

In addition to work stress, one of my part-time web business clients has given me a slew of information to post and set up this week. And that would normally be ok, except the 3rd week of the month is my "meetings week." LLL and ICAN meetings Tuesday and Wednesday night. Even with the stress I'm not willing to miss those - they keep me grounded.

And to top it off, this week I'll be going on my first overnight trip sans-baby. And it's not a small trip, either. I'm flying to California and will be gone for 3 nights and 3 days. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't freaking out something major.

A is still night nursing and co-sleeping. He stopped taking bottles two or three months ago, and doesn't really care for expressed milk in a sippy cup, either. I've been a bundle of stress worrying about how he is going to do at night, if he's going to drink any milk at all, if I should resume pumping this week, if there's enough milk in the freezer should he decide he likes it again... so many ifs!

Thankfully, the wonderful ladies at LLL last night talked me down. DH has been saying these things all week (well, really all month), but it was good to hear it from others. It was unfortunate that no one there had been in a similar circumstance, but they convinced me of what I already knew - trust your baby.

So I'm working on that. And on not stressing. And on being organized enough to get everything done that needs to get done. And clearly, blogging is not on that list.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

When the breasts hit the fan

I haven't blogged in a while (sorry!), but this week the blogosphere has been exploding and I can't NOT write. A study came out this week that concludes that breastfeeding saves lives and money. Obviously, it met with a LOT of contention as it touched on that most sacred of all mommy-wars topics, breast vs. formula.

How sad it is that we as a society, and as women, have come to such a silly dichotomy. Instead of addressing the issue head-on of WHY more women don't breastfeed exclusively for 6 months (currently <14%), we bicker about guilt trips, power trips, and egos.

I've been following The Feminist Breeder for a long time, and her post on the issue hit the nail on the head, in my book. Yet glossing over the comments, there are still women who got angry at Gina for her statements. If breastfeeding is physically impossible for you, why would that make you feel guilty? Allow me to throw out my own crazy analogy. If you happened by a car wreck, and saw someone trapped under a 2-ton truck, would you feel guilty that you couldn't lift it up off of them? Of course not! And I'm sure you would do all you could to help - calling 911, talking to them, giving the police your witness - and then go home and feel good about what you did. So the same can be said of mom's who tried, really, really hard, and still couldn't do it.

Now let me flip that example on it's head. Say you're a body builder, and your trainer and everyone else in the world expects you to be able to lift 2 tons, easy no problem. Except your trainer hasn't been helping you with a good weight lifting program, and your nutritionist said it was OK to eat junk food and skip the protein and carbs, and your family made it almost impossible for you to get to the gym every day. So, you SHOULD be able to save that person's life by lifting that truck, no problem. And everyone looks at you and says, "hey she's a body builder she should be able to do this." But you try, and you can't. You keep trying and give yourself a hernia. But you fail. THIS is what (in my best guess) over 90% of women who don't breastfeed experience. They should have all of the tools and support, yet they are undermined and simply not up to the task when it's presented to them.

I was one of those moms. Incredibly ill-equipped to handle breastfeeding. I had a terrible c-section, an awful recovery, and a post-op infection that saw me bedridden for over a month. But guess what? I did it. My baby is now 13 months, and still breastfeeding like a champ. I saw two LCs in the hospital. When I was discharged, I was still clueless. He just wouldn't latch. We had to feed him formula our first night home because he was screaming from hunger. The very next morning, we packed up and went back to the hospital LC. Rented a pump and got more private instruction. Went home and I still managed to fail. Saw the pediatrician (and my OB) the next day and asked for more help. Went home - and did just a little better. Returned to the hospital for a group class the next day. Failed at that, and had to return the next day. All this time I could barely walk, or function, but I was determined. The next week we had to return to the pediatrician again, because DS's weight had dropped so much. I saw an LC because we were still having tons of pain and latching issues. She gave me 2 cans of formula. We returned to the hospital, brought back the rental and bought a pump. I gave myself oversupply and that caused another host of problems.

The pain and problems didn't let up until I was almost ready to return to work at 12 weeks. But they did resolve. We persevered. It cost a lot of money in LC fees, pump rental and purchase, and a lot of stress and sleepless nights. I probably cried several times a day, and I am NOT a crier. Once a month when the hormones get to me, I might shed a tear. That's about it. My family and friends were at a total loss as how to help me, because they'd never seen me like that before. My own mother - who breastfed all her kids - kept telling me to give up and give him formula.

How do we expect women to succeed in this type of environment? I know I persevered, in part, because I HATE IT when people tell me I can't do something. I like to be contrary. And I'd already failed at birth, so I wasn't going to let this get to me too. But not everyone is like that, and not everyone should HAVE to be like that in order to make something natural work out.

So next steps? The addition of pumping space requirements at work in the Health Care legislation is a start. Getting free formula out of hospitals is another step. And establishing paid maternity leave across the board will help immeasurably. But at the end of the day, we need a dialog change. We need to stop the bickering, look at the facts, and then re-frame the issue and argument. Only then will we save lives and protect our bottom line.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

It came and went

My baby boy is one year old. His birthday came and went without much fanfare. A birthday card from his great-grandparents. A birthday phone call from my MIL. A little extra snuggling time as I realized how fast he's grown, and how he won't fit in my arms much longer.

Thankfully, his birthday was tear-free for me. No repressed memories struggling to the surface. No panic attacks with fuzzy recollection of  the lights in the OR. I guess this means I'm really back to myself - that calm and happy person who rarely cries and never in front of others. Who has her shit together and confronts each day with a plan and a purpose. Maybe things are a bit more helter-skelter than they were pre-baby, but I wouldn't have it any other way. In the end, he's totally worth it.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Snow days

The DC area has been hard-hit with snow this Winter. I must admit, I've loved every minute of it. The snow has been absolutely beautiful to watch fall, and it really offers a sense of peace to my busy world (the blizzard we had earlier this week notwithstanding).

My favorite part of all the snow? I didn't have to go to work! Staying home with my baby (DH is essential personnel, so he worked all week) has been wonderful. We played together. Took long walks through the snow. Rolled around on the bed and stayed in our PJs all day. Tried new foods and I tried my hand at baking. Danced to music, read books, and rocked ourselves silly.

I was supposed to go to work today, but my bus never came. Oh well! So I'm working from home today, but it's not the same. I'm stuck at my computer (clearly working hard - don't judge it's lunch time!), and Adrian is enjoying lunch with his sitter. (One day I'll write a little more about her.) I actually took a shower and got dressed this morning. Combed my hair, packed my lunch, and was ready to head into the city.

I'm really glad I didn't have to go.

This leaves four more days in the office at my current job (Monday is a Federal holiday). I went from nine days to four days in the blink of an eye. I can't say I'm sorry about that at all. I didn't factor in any "time off" between jobs, but Mother Nature saw fit to grant me a little time. So, thank you! I think I used it well.

Friday, February 5, 2010

And then there's the birth story...

My baby is 11 months old today.

It's hard to believe that much time has gone by already. He's still not crawling or walking. He's not clapping, saying words, or waving. Sometimes I'm afraid that I've already failed him as a parent.

But no. My baby is happy and healthy. He laughs and smiles. Gets frustrated and intrigued. Communicates through facial expression, tone, and posture. Eats like a horse and nurses like a champ. He may be a bit behind all of the milestones, but for now I'm still OK with that.

I'm not crying tonight because of my perceived inadequacies as a parent. Instead, I'm remembering where I was 11 months ago. How I felt. There was some joy. There was a lot of love. But it was mostly horror. Pain. Sorrow. Frustration. Helplessness. Failure.

"From his mother's womb untimely ripped." 

I had a cesarean section.

It is really, really hard for me to write about this. Especially in a format that lays bare so many other personal details. I hate to seem like less. I don't think I will finish this story tonight. I'm not even sure how far I'll get. But I will finish it eventually, and expose all of my ignorance, arrogance, shame and enlightenment.

A real birth story never begins with the first contraction, or even the first prenatal appointment. It begins, sometimes, even before conception.

I've always wanted a big family. I have a lot of reasons for this that I won't go into now, but I've known for a long time that I wanted to start young(ish) so I wouldn't still be having kids well into my 40s (not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just not in my life plan-yet).

Three years ago a friend invited me on a girls' trip to Hawaii. I obliged (of course!) and decided to make that my last Hurrah! The final trip before relegating myself to the eternal office of parenthood. The timing was perfect. Being ever practical, I didn't want to be huge and pregnant during the Summer. So a Spring baby was on the menu. Our trip was in May, and when I arrived back to the east coast I set out on some furious babymaking.

Apparently my DH says he was not aware of my plans. I thought I'd told everyone. Oops!

Either way, it worked like a charm. Having sat through the rigors of NFP and being familiar with my body's cycle, I knew to the day that I conceived. He was scared shitless. I was elated. Baby #1 would be born on schedule. I would be a mommy. It couldn't get any better.

Going into this, I had no knowledge of birth. Bodily fluids have always grossed me out. I'd never seen an actual childbirth. My reaction to it was "ick." DH thought that was hilarious (he used to be a CNA in a nursing home) and kept telling me I would need to watch some births. Of course, I informed him haughtily, just because I was having a baby didn't mean I needed to watch it happen!

At that point, I didn't have an OB/GYN. I had no idea what midwives were, but due to a historic distrust of doctors on my part, I knew I wanted one. I used Google search. The first place I called was the local birth center (though I had no idea that's what it was). Their first available appointment was October. Since it was June, that was too far away for my comfort. The next place I called was a practice of midwives and doctors. Their website was impressive. They could fit me in the next week. I was thrilled.

There's so much I could say about my experiences there. The red flags were practically beating me over the head and I ignored them. My ignorance was honestly staggering. Not only about birth itself, but about my rights as a patient and a human being. I never asked the questions that needed to be asked because I never knew what to ask. I allowed them to turn me into a name on a chart, to forget who I was and why I was there, to make assumptions that left me in tears - and I did nothing.

Honestly, I believed naturally what so many women don't, and what OBs abhor. I trusted birth. Women had been doing it for centuries. I didn't need to read books, or take classes, or ask questions because my body was created to give birth. I wasn't afraid or even anxious. I'd seen it on TV and heard women talk about it. Contractions would start, my water would break, I would go to the hospital, I would have a baby.

What's so funny is that I was never under any illusion that it would be easy. I knew it would hurt like hell. I knew it would be hours, maybe even days, of labor. But I also knew I could do it. Having been an athlete for 16 years and pushed through all sorts of pain, I was never, ever afraid of  my own ability to make it through the birth of my child. It is to my everlasting sorrow that I'm the only one who felt that way, and that I allowed others to completely erode my confidence.

In many ways, my biggest mistake was not my overconfidence. It was trusting in others rather than trusting in myself. If I had trusted in myself, I would never have stepped foot in a hospital, and I would not have a permanent, disfiguring scar stretched across my abdomen. A reminder.

When I was laying on the operating table having my entrails rearranged, I felt as though someone had cut open my heart. And since then, knowledge and a close-knit community of women have opened my mind and rearranged my thoughts -- they've also helped heal my heart. Maybe everything really does happen for a reason. Maybe I wouldn't have fought so hard to breastfeed (and succeeded) if I hadn't been denied a natural birth. Maybe I wouldn't have found a cause to rally around and a support group to lean on. Maybe my cesarean was necessary to make me a better person, even if it wasn't necessary to bring my baby into this world.

NB: I began working on this post at 9 PM EST, but multiple nursing breaks later the day has turned. I will return to this story at a later date, but not tonight.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Paths Not Taken

Every day I have a roughly half-hour commute to work in the mornings. The afternoons are my chatty Kathy times, but mornings are reserved for reading. Sometimes news, sometimes novels, but today it was poetry.

I was fortunate enough to study poetry in college under Pulitzer Prize winning poet Claudia Emerson. Much to my shame, I never took the time to read her award-winning work until now. But I'm so glad I waited. The me of my college years would not have appreciated the depth of feeling with which she writes, especially in the book Late Wife. About her first failed marriage, the time in-between, and her second marriage to a widower, there was a lot that spoke to me.

After college, I decided to get married and get a career. A practical one that paid the bills and allowed me to live comfortably. Several of my classmates went on to get their MFAs in creative writing and got to take their skills to the next level, though I don't know if any of them have been (monetarily) successful at it. I wonder what my life would have been like if I'd followed that route. The phrase "starving artist" flashes through my mind, but of course that's just the pessimist in me speaking:) Still, reading Late Wife reminded me that putting thoughts and feelings on paper can be beautiful.

I'm going to try and write more often.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The countdown continues

T-minus 12 days.

Things are stressful at work. My boss is constantly on me about getting certain things done. I wonder if he realizes that he's a big reason I can't get away fast enough. Every ten minutes, he thinks of something else important that I take care of and comes to find out where it is/how it's done/ who here can do it/ etc.

I almost (almost) feel sorry for him.

But here I am, putzing away on my blog instead of working on the laundry list of "Crap to Finish." I wonder what that says about me?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

New Job!

I finally did it. After over a year of agonizing over the decision to look for work elsewhere, and just two months after actually starting to search, I landed myself a new job!

My husband keeps asking me if I'm scared.

How do I put this? I'm not nervous at all. I feel confident in my ability to do a good job, and to provide this company with exactly what it needs. I'm super excited about all of the possibilities that this position will open up to me.

The only thing that really had me quaking in my boots (so-to-speak, since I actually rarely wear boots), was telling my boss. Working in the same place for almost five years is a pretty Big Deal, especially when the company never fires anyone and the only way to stop working there is to retire or die. The jury's still out on the Office Manager, whose tenure there predates my birth by two years.

Why are these people so loyal? Why did they expect me to be? Honestly - they are afraid of change and don't know anything else. I've never met a bunch of people so mired in the status quo in my life. When I came on board in 2005, it was to my shock and horror that they were using Windows 98, with software I hadn't seen since my high school journalism class (underfunded and unappreciated. the plight of journalists!).

I put down my foot and got some results. I made changes and rocked the boat. The office manager decided she really, really didn't like me (professionally) and that I was out for her job (trust me, I wasn't). Then, I got pregnant. And learned that "Family Leave" actually ISN'T paid leave. And I learned that my company was too cheap to hire a replacement while I was out, instead trusting my (very important) work to the beautician-turned-secretary-who-can't-run-a-mail-merge and mucked everything up. And I discovered that upon returning to work that was the last place on Earth I wanted to be.

But I'm the bread winner. My paycheck keeps a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. Not working is, unfortunately, not an option. But changing jobs is never out of the question.

So I have a five-year plan. It includes making a boat-load of money so I can actually enjoy the first few months of my next baby's life, and eventually transition into being my own boss. This new job is the first stone across the river, and I've left behind the shore of complacency. Time to take charge of my own life buck the status quo.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bottle Wars

So this post really isn't going to be as exciting as the title sounds.

My son has stopped drinking bottles during the day. He started drinking less and less, and finally got the point where, if offered a bottle, he would push it away or throw it as hard as he could (and trust me, the kid has a good arm). Much to my chagrin, all of the wonderful mommy milk pumped throughout the day was sitting in the fridge, untouched, and then bagged and passed on to my Milkshare mama and baby. So, not a waste of course, but not exactly what I imagined would be happening with my milk each day, either.

This is classic reverse-cycling, and the bane and joy of the working mother's existence. The bane because it means your baby is attached to you from the moment you step into the door until the moment you leave the next morning. Gotta make up for that missed milk somehow! The joy because it means your baby loves YOU more than the bottles and doesn't want your milk any other way. I have several friends whose babies have preferred the bottle ad essentially quit nursing prior to 1 year, and I am thankful daily that mine does not.

But, nights like last night make things rough. I needed, badly, to do diaper laundry.  I wanted to go over my tax forms and get ready for the dreaded Filing of the Taxes. I wanted to catch up with my DVR and the guilty pleasures of American Idol. Instead, I was stuck in bed with the baby all evening. Sitting in my arms on the couch was a no-go. Sitting anywhere that wasn't with me was also a no-go. So instead, we laid in bed. Or more accurately, I laid in bed and he rolled around, played with his board books, and nursed on and off for about two hours. There are worse ways to spend the evening, I know. Most of the time it's even really sweet. But when there are Things To Be Done, it can get a little annoying. Hopefully tonight won't be a repeat.

So - on to the bottle wars. We've been trying (in vain) to find some other method of delivering milk during the day. Sippy cups, straw cups, open cups. The only one that he'll even think about using is an open cup - and at this age you still have to hold it for him. Trying to explain that to my sitter this morning was Not Fun. Hopefully the report when I get home today will be a bit more successful, though. I shudder to think how stinky that diaper hamper will get if it sits untouched one more day....

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Working and Pumping

I feel strongly about breastfeeding. Prior to giving birth I had no idea how strongly I would feel about it, as I always assumed it was a given. But my first few weeks of crying, pain, and "helpful" relatives simply made me a determined lactivist. Not only that, but I've always been proud of my boobs. They used to be my shining glories. Now they no longer look that great, but they also no longer belong to me. They are unequivocally the property of my baby boy.

Of course, I can't bring him to work with me. That's where the pump comes in. I have a Medela Pump-In-Style Advanced. It's cute enough to be inconspicuous (though totally noticable if you know what to look for), has plenty of space to fit my cooler in, and can either plug in or operate from a battery pack. Who knew that it would become my new best friend? I pump twice daily at work. That has become "Me" time. I get to shut my office door so nobody bothers me. I get to chill out at my computer and surf, blog, or chat on DS. Sure, it may be annoying to have to pump every day without fail (trust me, my boobs would mutiny if I didn't), but it's not so bad. I'm actually getting a little sad about the day I would have to give it up! Many, many people quit breastfeeding at a year, despite that being the minimum recommended time.  I don't know about you, but I've always felt the need to go above and beyond most things in life. So to me, doing the minimum is like getting a C or a D in school. Passing? Sure. But that's about it. And unless I absolutely loathed the subject, a passing grade was never good enough for me. And when the subject in question is my child's health and future - well I think you can see where this is going.

So back to the pump. My baby boy is 10.5 months. So my days pumping are probably numbered. Thanks for the memories, PISA!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Tale of Two Interviews

So yesterday was The Day. I had not one, but two job interviews!

I had some pre-conceived notions about which position I would like better. It was the seemingly more illustrious one, with a bigger name behind it that seemed to offer more pizazz. That one I scheduled second, so I could get the other one out of the way and under my belt before heading into the "real" one.

Silly me.

I really hit it off with my first interviewer. The job is so much cooler than I originally thought, and when I left my mind was spinning over all of the possibilities. I love jobs with Potential. The benefits were a little meager, but it's possible I could get the salary to make up for it. My only real sticking points? They'd want me to start Soon. Like three weeks, soon. And first order of business would be traveling to Vegas for a Convention. Sounds great, right? Except that whole nursing-mother-of-an-infant thing. It's one thing to drag your baby along on trips for a job that you've been at for years. I'm not sure what kind of impression that would make on my new employer, however.

But I shouldn't put the horse before the cart. I haven't been made any offers yet. I still need to dredge up two references to send. My best friend is a given. Just not sure who else I should ask. My work doesn't know I'm leaving yet. I'd hate to tip my hand, too. It would just make things more painful. You don't pull the bandaid off slowly, you rip it. I'm not quite ready to rip yet.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy New Year, and Happy Birthday to me!

2010 is here! It really snuck up on me, I can honestly say that 2009 was a pretty big blur. I can't believe that my little guy is 10 months old, and that I am now the ripe age of 27. Puts so many things in perspective!

The holidays were wonderfully relaxing. I got to spend tons of time with my baby and my family. I took an entire week off at the end of December, and am so glad I did.

For 2010, I've got a long list of goals. I hate to call them resolutions, because that's just a bit strong in the connotation department. My life is not a legal document! Here they are:

Lisa's 2010 Goals:
  1. Get back to pre-baby weight and re-gain muscle tone & overall fitness
  2. Pay off student loan #1 (current balance $6K) and make good progress on student loan #2
  3. Use my credit card less and cash (or debit) more. 
  4. Get a new job
I'm already headed in the right direction with goal #4! I have an interview scheduled for Monday, and I'm both excited and nervous. I haven't been on a job interview since 2005! This weekend I'm off to buy myself a suit - hopefully something that I can use repeatedly over the next month or so as I land more interviews! (Thinking positively here.)

Job hunting is tough, especially in this climate. And while I don't abhor change, I fear anything unknown. I've never bought a lottery ticket and I'd never wager on anything less than a sure thing. Wish me luck!