Tag Archives: working parent

She Says… Respite

It’s been quiet around here. Life is moving faster than I can type it.

Work is beyond crazy. Emmett is sick. Christmas is upon us. We’re behind on laundry. I’m working my ass off in every arena just to make ends meet. (Blah blah… isn’t everyone?)

This morning on the train to work I decided NOT to answer emails or get out my computer to do work or even write my To Do list for the day. Usually I end up doing all 3 simultaneously so that the minute I step off the train I am ready to start tackling things. No, today I forced myself do just one thing. I watched the snow out the window while listening to my new favorite podcast. Ok, that’s 2 things. But only one that requires thought.

Two confessions:

  1. My first confession is that until very recently I barely knew what a podcast was. I had never listened to them and didn’t have the time and didn’t know where to start. And frankly I didn’t really care enough to figure it out. Then a commenter here mentioned that she listened to podcasts while she pumped at work. So I figured I would check it out. And I happened upon One Bad Mother.
  2. My 2nd confession is that although I am consumed by fiery love for my children, I also enjoy some really good Mommy snark. This podcast delivers on that. I literally find myself convulsing with stifled laughter while I listen on the train.

If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like to live inside my head and hear my unedited internal monologue, all you need to do is listen to Biz (one of the two hosts). Every time she opens her mouth it’s like what I would say if I were hanging with my totally non-judgmental best friend. Except she has a Southern twang. Even the stories she tells about her daughter Katie-Belle are EXACTLY things I’m currently going through with Owen.

Makes me want to do a podcast my damn self. Or a vlog. Or just… you know… call a friend to chat like that once in a while.

Laughing with these ladies for 30 minutes on the train this morning was the only respite I’ve had — completely alone — from my life’s general craziness in too long.

Do yourself a favor and GO LISTEN. You will laugh. You’re welcome.

She Says… Pumptastic

We’re approaching the end of my 2nd week back at work. It feels like it’s been at least 2 months already. I’ve been going a million miles a minute at work and at home. I know the pace will even out eventually, but for now, it’s all systems go all the time. Exhausting, but also a little exhilarating.

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During these 2 weeks I’ve been pumping 4 times a day at work (and nursing Emmett in the morning, at bedtime, and once at night). Every 2-2.5 hours I am filling up my water cup, running to my pumping spot (at the kitchen counter at home, in a storage closet at work), hooking myself up, pumping for 15 minutes or so while I scroll through instagram or catch up on personal emails (usually while listening to One Bad Mother, a HILARIOUS podcast I’ve discovered to keep me entertained), and then running back to my computer to resume work. It’s inconvenient. And breaks up my work day in often frustrating ways. I’m trying to see these times as respites from a busy day, but right now it just feels like they are making me busier. Still, I’m giving it my very best shot.

Some people would probably argue that I don’t need to be pumping as often as I am. And they might be right. But as someone with consistently low milk supply, I just don’t think I could keep up if I dropped a pumping session. I’m currently averaging 3oz at every pumping session (double electric pumping, using a hands free bra, doing everything I can to eek out every drop) and Emmett is drinking 4oz at that same feeding time. Miraculously, I can use my bedtime pumping sessions to just about make up the difference, so he is getting almost all breastmilk at this point (except at HIS bedtime when I have to supplement with 2oz or formula to tank him up before bed, or by Thursday or Friday when I’m an ounce or two short for a daytime bottle). Over the weekend I’m exclusively nursing, so I save up my Friday pumped milk and the milk I pump at my bedtimes to give him the following Tuesday at daycare. So I’m not feeding the freezer, but I’m feeding my baby. And that’s what matters.

This milk reallocation system is working for us. Right now. I’m not convinced my supply is going to increase as his appetite does, but I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and see how long we can make this work.

Your tips about pumping at work were all super helpful. I’m still figuring out little tricks here and there, but I’ve mostly found a system that works for me. Since I know many, many other mamas are in the same position of having to pump and not necessarily knowing where to go for good info, I wanted to share another resource that I have found INVALUABLE the past few weeks.

Isis Parenting’s Online Pump Talk class. Back when I had Owen I attended a live Pump Talk class at my local Isis store (which was actually taught by my favorite lactation consultant and now real life friend, Nancy Holtzman). It was my first foray into the wonderful world of pumping, and I learned a TON about milk production and storage, how to get the most from my pump, etc. Even though I exclusively pumped for Owen for several months before deciding it was not the best option for us, and should be a pumping pro, I still felt like a refresher course was a good idea for me this time around. It WAS 3 years ago, after all, and as I’ve mentioned before I had a bit of PTSD when thinking about pumping again. The Pump Talk class helped me start fresh, with good habits, and even made pumping feel doable again.

The online class breaks up everything you need to know about pumping into small, bite-sized chunks (7-10 minute segments) so you can hear just what you need to hear when you need to hear it.

My #1 Pumping Aha Moment: You do not need to clean those darn pump parts after every pumping session in a day. Because at least for me, cleaning those stupid things was the worst part of it all. If you have access to a refrigerator you can store the assembled pump parts in there with plastic bags over the tops (I store mine in coffee mugs so they don’t tip over) for 24 hours. The cold temp inhibits bacterial growth. So I pump all day long and stick everything back in the ‘fridge. After my bedtime pumping session I wash (ok, to be honest, Benjamin washes everything) and steam clean them in a microwaveable bag so they are ready for the next day. At work when I don’t have convenient access to a refrigerator, I wipe the parts with pump wipes after each use and keep the milk in a cooler bag with freezer packs, then wash/steam clean at night.

Pump Talk also covers getting different flange sizes (turns out my fire hose and drippy faucet are dramatically different sizes, so I pump with one tiny and one large flange — I don’t even use the “standard” sized ones that came with my pump), using olive oil to lubricate your nipple (super helpful for those of us who are pumping every 2 hours!), and how to freeze milk to maximize freezer space (and what to do if your power goes out).

Awesome. Info.

You’re going to have to check it out yourself for the other gems. Any other pumping tips that I’ve missed?

A huge thank you to Isis Parenting for letting me take the online Pump Talk class for free! I am SO glad they did, because between you and me, I probably wouldn’t have bothered taking it myself (no time, blah blah). But you know what? It’s probably the main reason I’m still pumping right now. Worth every penny. And minute.

She Says… BIG Thanks and Day 1 Down

First things first, I want to thank each and every person who commented on my post about Owen’s rough patch. I’m so thankful to hear that others are going through the same thing with their kids, with or without the new baby issue added in (aka this is just a three year old thang). Several of you offered REALLY good suggestions of things to do. Some we do already (like giving 2 “good” choices for just about every decision throughout the day and letting him choose) and some new ones (different incentives, hugging it out instead of more discipline, etc.). Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Maybe all I had to do was blog about it, because this weekend was FAR better. We still have a long ways to go, and he still has weird blowups about totally insignificant (to me) things, but overall we both changed our attitude a little and we seem to be much more on the same page. The chart that I made has been a huge help for our morning and evening routine, and I also sprinkled in some surprise incentives instead of just making him fill up a whole sticker chart to motivate him more and let him “win” a little. I think last week was particularly rough because Benjamin was working a lot and I was stressed in the evenings trying to get dinner made and Emmett cuddled after long days at daycare and was saying a lot of “no” instead of “yes”. In any case, I think we’re on a much better trajectory for this week.

Which is a big relief, because it’s a big week for me. Yesterday was my first day back at work!

Day 1 down and we all survived.

In fact, we did better than just survived. Owen had a great day at school (sticker day!), Emmett ate and slept like a champ and I made both of my trains without running and pumped every 2.5 hours while making a huge dent in the 650+ unread emails in my inbox. Late in the afternoon I got a text from Benjamin that his shoot was going to be late so I had to pick up the kids (NOT what we had discussed that morning). The train schedule works out such there is only one train that I can take to get back in time to get them. Unfortunately it is later than I like to pick them up, which was a little stressful, but it was our only option. So I picked up both kids, successfully got dinner on the table (straight from the freezer, hey, something’s gotta give) while still making Owen feel like I was playing with him the whole time and did double bathtime/bedtime single-handed.

Supermom SCORE.

Days like that remind me why working challenges me in new ways and teaches us ALL important lessons about flexibility.

We’re all going to be fine. We’ll find our groove.

She Says… Work It, Girl

The last week has been a rocky one. Both kids have been battling nose/chest/ear congestion and a hacky cough. No fevers to speak of and really nothing to do but wait it out, really (while of course hydrating, humidifying and treating the asthma kid). But it has meant extra night time wakeups and extra fussiness and whining during the day. We’re all a bit worn down.

Ahem. Especially me.

This past weekend we went up to Benjamin’s parents’ house in New Hampshire with some friends who have a son in Owen’s class. Perhaps not the best timing to let the boys try their first sleepover, which of course resulted in NO SLEEP for most of us, but it was a really fun time nonetheless. Another post to come with the whole story on that.

Now I have a new deadline looming. No, not Halloween (though I do still need to finish up Owen’s costume — eek!).

My return to work.

DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN. (Do you hear the ominous music playing?)

I go back next Tuesday.

I know, I know. How did that come so fast?

I am feeling surprisingly ok about going back. After Owen was born I took some unpaid time off and didn’t go back to work until he was 5 1/2 months old (in January). And I was still kind of a wreck. My brain was still very much in motherhood lala land and the transition back was hard. In planning my maternity leave this time around I yearned for that extra time, but ultimately we decided that paying for Owen’s daycare meant that we couldn’t swing more unpaid time. And since I got a promotion right before I left back in July, I have a LOT of work to do when I get back. However, now that I’m here, only a week from going back, I feel so differently than I thought I would.

My brain is back. My body is back (of course I wish I had more time to exercise and most of my pants are still a little tight around the waist, but for the most part I’m back to my normal size and feel relatively fit). While of course I’ll miss Emmett’s sweet little face during the day, I absolutely adore our daycare and know he will be in great hands while I’m working.

We’re all going to be ok.

So this week is my “practice week” sending both kids to daycare all four days, all day long. Benjamin is traveling again (yes! again!) and I couldn’t totally get everything organized this morning to do a double drop-off, so I opted to take Owen at his normal time (7:15am) and bring Emmett back to have a nice, long morning nap in his crib with his humidifier on. Poor guy is still snorting and shnuffling quite a bit. I’ll pack him up and take him to school when he wakes up. But for the rest of the week, it’s double everything, and Emmett’s longest days at school yet.

Oh, and time for me to practice pumping. As I mentioned, I’ve been pumping at my bedtime since Emmett started going to bed early. I’ve been using those extra ounces to help me tank him up at the following night’s bedtime as needed (I seem to run out of milk and he seems to want to eat, eat, eat) and then I’ve started a small (very small) freezer stash with the extras. But this week I’m going to be pumping all day long Tuesday through Friday! Here’s hoping I can pretty much keep up with what he’s drinking at school.

Aside from pumping, I’m trying to figure out how to best use these 4 days of freedom. I’d love to fill them with manicures and shopping (ha!), but in reality there are so many little projects at home that I’d really like to wrap up before I go back to work. Papers to file. Baby clothes to sort and put in the attic. Deep cleaning in all of the nooks and crannies to do that I’m sure I won’t be doing once the work schedule picks up.

Lame. I know.

I’m going to do another post all about pumping (apparently I have lots of posts that I’m planning on writing “soon”…), but leave me your best pumping at work tip to get me pumped (get it? pumped?) for work next week!

She Says… A Very Healthy Sick Day

On Tuesday at 4:30pm I got “the call” from daycare. Apparently Owen had a fever. It was borderline on their must-send-kid-home cutoff, but it meant that he couldn’t come back to school on Wednesday. Boo.

I was so thankful that this didn’t happen last week (while Benjamin was traveling and I was working in the office leading a training for 40 people singlehandedly) that I was more than happy to bring him home and figure out how to cover both a day’s worth of work and a day hanging out with my favorite 3 year old on Wednesday. Even better, Benjamin was working from home as well, so we tag-teamed the whole day. And, to make it even more fun, Owen wasn’t even sick in the slightest (his fever was non-existent) so it was kind of like an extra weekend day. It went great, and by the time we got in bed at night Benjamin and I both felt like we had successfully done a good job with both work and home responsibilities.

We patted ourselves on the back. Then I dropped Owen off at school this morning ready to get a lot more work done today.

But at 9:30am, a mere 2 hours after dropping him off, I got the same call. Apparently his fever was back. Borderline, but enough to get him sent home (especially since there were 5 cases of fever in his classroom, 2 of which came along with stomach bugs).

Of course I understand the school’s rule. And I understand being cautious when other kids are sick as well. But seriously. Owen is FINE. He’s more than fine! His fever is 100.1 under the arm. For my kid, that is really not a fever at all (or at least nothing to worry about if he’s acting totally normal).

Currently he’s out for a scooter ride around the neighborhood with one of our neighbors right now so that Benjamin and I can each squeeze in a couple hours of focused work before doing another tag-team day.  He’s been blowing bubbles and swinging on the swingset and running around like a maniac. Not exactly a picture of sickness.

Of course I’ll eat these words if he starts puking in an hour or two. But until then, I’m stuck wondering how in the world I’m supposed to wrap up my last few projects at work before I have this baby while my other baby is at home making it impossible to get anything done.

She Says… Travel Ban

Woo boy, last week was a doozy.

Another one of those busy work weeks for me (running a training for 40 people single-handedly, which meant early mornings and late nights and being on my feet constantly in between) coinciding with a long trip for Benjamin (all the way across the country in L.A.). Thankfully Owen did his part this time by not coming down with some awful illness in the middle of it and everything went very smoothly (despite my blood pressure skyrocketing during every commute because I was constantly rushing TO work after dropping Owen off and FROM work to pick him up before it was way past his normal dinner time).

Two things got me through it: 1. Owen was angelic almost the whole week. He slept well (yay for the new clock system!), did efficient drop-offs and pickups at school and was so much fun to hang out with for the time we spent together in the mornings and evenings. 2. It was the LAST time this will happen for a long time.

That’s right. I’ve instituted a travel ban for Benjamin until Baby #2 decides to come out and play.

This trip to L.A. was a big job for Benjamin, and one we didn’t want to turn down, but I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t a TEENY bit nervous about him being across the country while I was nearly 36 weeks pregnant (2 weeks away from when Owen arrived). I didn’t THINK anything was going to happen, but, you know… you never know.

When Friday morning came and I got Benjamin’s text that he had landed in Boston, I let out an audible sigh of relief. We did it. I held the baby in, successfully completed a challenging week of work (times a million while super pregnant), and he completed his last trip.

We’re filling this weekend with mundane things like walking to the farmer’s market on Saturday morning, mowing the lawn together and actually enjoying a night out to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary (which was actually last Monday when Benjamin left for his trip and we didn’t even exchange cards to celebrate). And it feels lovely.

Now I’m hoping for a few more weeks with this baby on the INSIDE so we can enjoy our last few weeks of a family of 3. Just not TOO many more weeks, mmmkay, little guy?

 

She Says… The “D” Word

It’s been a week, friends. And I don’t mean that in a good way. And, coming off of last week, I was really in need of an easy, catch-up week.

I haven’t written much this week, because, well, my Mama taught me that if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. I’ve been so focused on just doing what I need to do to make it to the next day that I’ve barely had time to look up. I recently got a promotion at work, so in addition to my already very busy days, I am also now leading a team of new people. I’m navigating new responsibilities without being able to give up the old ones, and it’s been exhausting. A great opportunity, to be sure, but exhausting. On top of that, the marathon bombing craziness threw off my schedule and eliminated a few days of work due to building closings and lockdowns and a general lack of focus on anything but breaking news. I counted on this week to catch up and get myself back in order. But instead, Owen got sent home from school with a fever on Wednesday along with a note that said that several kids in his class have Hand, Foot & Mouth Syndrome, so to be on the lookout for that. LOVELY. Of course, as usual, this came on a day when I HAD to be at the office running a training program and delivering a 3 hour training presentation to a packed room. Stressful, to say the least. Not to mention that this all came on the heels of a period of Benjamin traveling more than he has been home, so I’ve been feeling… overwhelmed.

That would normally be enough to stress a person out out. Even a person whose stress threshold is usually quite high. But no, the last piece of complicating news came yesterday, right in the middle of my 3 hour presentation.

I have gestational diabetes.

Remember when I failed the gestational diabetes screening test a few weeks ago, and then had a weird hypoglycemic response to the 3 hour? Well, since I am at high risk for gestational diabetes due to having polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), my doctor/midwife team wanted me to be tested twice. Once early (which I did around 23 weeks), and once at the “normal” time of 28 weeks, which is where I am now. They didn’t want to put me through the stress of doing the 3 hour test again since my body kind of freaked out the last time, so we opted to do a two hour test instead.

I took it Wednesday morning (trapped in the lab waiting room with spotty internet for 2 hours, feeling pukey, while I wanted/needed to be catching up on work…) and the results came back yesterday. High.

Given my weird history with this test and erratic blood sugar levels in general, they are classifying me as having glucose instability and treating me for GDM. That means finger pricks to check blood glucose levels before and after eating, following a strict diet and exercise routine, regularly seeing an endocrinologist and nutritionist until this baby makes his arrival, and increased monitoring of him prior to that point.

So… I’m here. But I don’t have anything nice to say, so I’m not saying much at all.

The silver lining? Owen’s fever stayed really low and hasn’t seemed to turn into Hand, Foot & Mouth or anything worse than a slightly elevated temp. He’s back at school this morning and my fingers are crossed that he stays there, healthy and happy, until the end of the day.

She Says… Balls on the Floor

On Wednesday I read a blog post that literally took the words right out of my mouth. Kelle Hampton wrote about enjoying those crazy weeks/months/years when you can’t keep all of your balls in the air. (Yes. I fully realize how inappropriate that sounds.).

I’m in the midst of one of those weeks where there are too many balls in the air and not enough hands to juggle them. But you know what? We’re getting through. And, hopefully, enjoying it. And, if I do say so myself, the important ones are staying up.

Blogging? Not so much. Eh.

I’m in New York for work. While this means I’m away from my guys and behind on my emails and feeling a little overwhelmed by what I have to accomplish while I’m here, it also means I had a lovely (quiet!) train ride here where no one asked me to do anything for them, and I actually spent a few minutes just staring out the window. I’m eating really good food that I don’t have to cook. I slept 9 hours in my hotel room last night (and only woke ONCE to a phantom baby crying… usually that happens several more times). Everything is humming along smoothly at home without me.

Find the places to enjoy, friends. They are there. Even when things are crazy.

So… excuse the blogging hiatus. It is, unfortunately, one of the balls getting dropped this week. In the grand scheme of things, I think that means we’re still doing ok.

 

 

She Says… Kid-Centric

A few commenters honed in on one particular sentence in yesterday’s post. To be honest, when I wrote it, it was much more of a fluffy lead-in to the meat of the post (about swingsets), than a statement about a parenting philosophy I have. I barely gave it a second thought when I wrote it.

What I said: “Gone are the days of spending my days running errands or getting ‘my’ stuff done while simultaneously hanging out with Owen.”

What I meant: “I like doing fun, active, outdoor activities with my kid whenever I can.”

That said, perhaps because not spoiling Owen is in the top 5 things I worry about as a parent, the comments about being a “suck it up” parent or NOT a “suck it up” parent (read: creating a spoiled brat) really made me think. First of all, I resist putting names on parenting decisions and I find it hard to believe that parents fall into one camp all of time (this is one of my issues with the Bringing Up Bebe book as well, the labeling and the over-generalizations). I would consider myself very much a “suck it up” parent in some respects (like in last week’s unavoidable time crunch), and  very child-centric in others. It makes me uncomfortable to slap a label on myself or others, especially as I’m learning every day that parenting is a very fluid process. None of us know exactly what we are doing and we are entitled to change our minds!

Of course the balance of playtime versus “getting things done” time is a very personal one. And it changes every minute and every day depending on your needs and your schedule and your To Do list and your kid’s mood. BUT, in general, I subscribe to the theories that:

1. Play = Learning
Kids learn through play. At all ages, I believe, but especially as toddlers. For Owen, physical play engages him and allows him to learn, explore the world around him, try new motor skills and learn new words. While he is in daycare 4 days a week his play is quite structured and he learns to listen, follow directions and abide by rules. At home, although we stick to a pretty strict schedule of meals and naps and a pretty regular routine of activities (and of course there are rules!), I like to give him a chance to choose what he does and when he does it. More free play. More time when he gets to decide what he wants to do.

Does that mean I forego my own To Do list so that he can play outside all day? Nope. Does it mean that I never force him to do things he doesn’t want to do? No way. It means that I do what I can to respect his playtime and, thus, his learning.

2. Tired Kid = Happy Kid
Well, not tired, exactly, but mentally and physically exercised (and subsequently well-rested!). 

3. Compromise Should Be Mutual
I expect Owen to compromise his wants and needs for me. If I say it’s bedtime, even if he’d like to stay up and play, it’s still bedtime. However, it’s important to me that he knows that I compromise for him too. Do I really NEED to go to the bank right now, which will result in waiting in line for a long time? Maybe not. Can I squeeze in a quick stop at the playground on the way home, even if it will make me a little late, to accommodate his need for some activity after running an errand with me? Sure! Thanks to online banking, Amazon.com and taking advantage of things I can do after he goes to bed or on the days I work during the week, most of our necessary errands can be done without him in tow. Believe me — that’s a blessing for both of us! And it leaves a lot more time for us to just be together and go where the day takes us. Similar to the idea of giving him choices whenever possible, I try to plan our days in a way that meets both of our needs.

At the end of the day, what we’re doing works for our family. Owen is a sweet, kind, hilarious, good-natured toddler whose tantrums and outbursts are few and far between. Only time will tell if too much time at the playground has ruined him :) As I’ve said before, if spending too much time with him and planning my days in a kid-centric way are my biggest parenting flaw, I think I can live with that.

She Says… What Constitutes a Vacation These Days

Right now I am sitting on the train somewhere between Boston and New York. I’m going to New York to oversee a training event I’ve coordinated for my company. It was one of those everything-that-could-go-wrong-did situations. Instructors cancelled, times were switched at the last minute, attendees didn’t show up on time, files had typos, people are leaving early for the holiday weekend despite knowing about this event for months. And on and on. I organize these sessions all the time, and they almost always go off without a hitch. Not so, this time.

I feel frazzled. And unprepared. And worn down. And like all of the balls I’ve been juggling for the last few weeks (months, now?) while Benjamin has been traveling and working like crazy are about to come toppling down on my head.

Benjamin and I had our first “oh my goodness, we both have to travel and what are we going to do about OWEN?!” moments this week. It all got sorted out, thanks to a sweet friend who is going to hang out with Owen for the short period of time that Benjamin’s and my work plans overlapped, but oy. If that doesn’t make you feel the strain of being 2 working parents, I don’t know what does.

But back to me. And my vacay. Oh, it doesn’t sound like I’m on vacation? Well, this is what constitutes a vacation these days, folks. With Benjamin traveling so much recently and me holding down the fort, I’ve barely had a chance to leave the house between work and taking care of Owen. I haven’t had a chance to see friends or go to yoga or do something fun for me. So this morning I rushed around like a madwoman getting Owen to daycare and then booked it to the train station.

Sitting on a train with a coffee in my hand? Apparently that’s a vacay now. Despite the fact that I am clickety clacking away at my keyboard relentlessly for most of the ride, I’ll take it. I’m sitting. Quietly. Dressed in a cute skirt and heels. I’ve put out most of the fires and I’ll deal with the rest when I get to New York. I even got myself an Us Weekly to catch up on my celeb gossip between emails.

It’s the little things.