Just one of those days

I don’t know what it was about yesterday but it was just one of those days. You know, the ones where stuff doesn’t go your way?

First of all, my second pump session of the day, which is normally at about the 1030-1100 time of day,  happened late at 1230 because of a series of events at work. I thought my boobs were about to explode. Then, I got carried away with work and the next time I look up, it is 4.40 and I needed to leave by 5pm so I could pick up Aviana from daycare. (I really need a ‘pump alarm’). Then, I made the STUPID decision to make my third pump of the day to wait until I got home. STUPID because….

When I picked up Aviana I remembered I forgot the sweet potatoes for dinner. So I decide to go to the shops (still not pumped yet) then realize I have no device to carry Aviana in on me (stroller, wrap or shopping cart cover thing). So I stop off at home to pick up the stroller and realize the stroller was in the back of my car all along! So head back out to shops (still not pumped). 

All this time Aviana is a grumpy girl for some reason. When I picked her up she was screaming- apparently because one of her baby friends was also screaming. They like to work together and cry at the same time the teacher tells me! 

By the time I get home with Aviana with sweet potatoes, it’s her time for her dinner. Have you heard Aviana’s food alarm? No? I’m surprised because it sounds like an incoming missile rocket warning alarm! It’s instantaneous and loud! So here I am with boobs about to explode and screaming baby! Sounds like a perfect combination right? Well…daycare sent home a spare bottle of formula that I send for ’emergency’, just in case Aviana rejects my high lipase Milk or we can’t pick her up til late and it’s dinner time. Being a Monday I just send a bottle of formula in until I catch up on my milk pumping after the weekend. So. Not wanting to waste the formula I decided I’d try to be clever and pump whilst feeding Aviana her bottle of formula. 

Then chris calls to say he won’t be home for another half hour.

So I warm up the bottle of Formula for Aviana and prepare for my pumping session. Trying to do this with one hand as Aviana is crying. I then step in cat vomit. Not once but twice! My head wants to explode! Then I’ve heated the milk up too warm because I got distracted with cat vomit, so now I’m trying to COOL the milk! I then am also trying to get dinner started and the same time. There are microwaves buzzing, phones ringing, baby crying, bottle warmers pinging. Aghhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

Finally, I sit down attached to pump and feed Aviana the bottle. Even though I’m handsfree in the pump I never thought about how to hold her when I have two bottles attached to my boobs! I try sitting her up in front of me, supporting her neck and head, but she doesn’t like that, she wants to recline or lean against something. I don’t blame her! So I try leaning her against my chest between the two bottles attached to my boobs. She starts to play with the tubing and pulls it out. Why did I ever think it was a good idea??!! Even though she is hungry she thinks the pump is way more interesting than her food!!! I stress, my milk stops flowing but I’m still full I can feel it in my boobs still. It’s self perpetuating. 

Fortunately Chris comes home, I shout to him to watch out for cat vomit, counting down for him to come into the bedroom to take Aviana away so I can pump in peace! He’s walks in and just laughs at the sight he sees! Baby with bottle half hanging out of mouth with stressed looking mum and bottles clinging with dear life to her boobs. It was a bit ridiculous. It was a ridiculous day. We all have those days when we wish it was over quick! Yesterday was that kind of day for me. Bye bye yesterday!!!!!!!!

An apt t-shirt for me!!

We will never be equal

Last night after Chris read my blog post Chris told me the truth of the matter….we won’t ever be equal because of my work travels. And he is right. If I travel 8-10 times a year, some of these trips being 8 days long then I will struggle to make that up to be equal. Admittedly he will travel occasionally for work but it would be in the US and not transatlantic and for a few days at a time. Also, if he travels I have the leave to be able to travel with him (if he gets to go somewhere fun!!).

We have talked about this quite a bit recently and it’s going to be tough. It’s not exactly a holiday for me, but I will get a ‘break’ from parenting (except the huge guilt I will feel) and he won’t. We have a nanny once a week and maybe we can use her to help out Chris a bit more when I am away. Only time will tell how tough it really will be. Almost everyone else in my team has children and they survive. Just got to figure out how they do it well!

The dream? All working parents created equal

I was inspired to write this post after I read a ‘Working Mother’ article “14 things my parents never had to do because my mom didn’t work“.  It was going good up until points 10: Manage the household from the office; 11: Manage the household at home; and 12: Worrying about traveling for work.  The author says that she has to “…make doctor’s appointments, go grocery shopping, plan birthday parties in between meetings.  This is true, it’s got to get done at some point during the working week.  But your working husband also probably can do that stuff too? Right?  She then says she is “…still primarily responsible for cooking dinner, cleaning the house and organizing their social life“. Hmmmm, your husband can also do that too, no? Finally, when she goes on work travels she has to “…prepare everything in her absence from my daughter’s wardrobe to preparing frozen meals for my husband“.  OK, so yes, sure, when a partner goes away on work travel you need to be supportive and help make it easier on the person left behind.  But the choice of ‘chores’ that need to be done are soooooooo stereotypical.  Really?  Your husband can’t make wardrobe choices on his own?  Is he able to dress himself?  I presume so because it sounds like he still makes it to work everyday without getting fired. So why can’t he dress a child?  He really can’t cook his own food? My goodness, how did he ever survive before he met you?????  After reading this and getting me mad and upset, it got me thinking more about the ideal working parents situation and equality.  Are all parents ‘created’ equal?  Is it actually possible??

Chris and I are pretty equal in most things.  Before Aviana arrived into our world we shared chores.  There are some things that Chris is better at doing than I am and vice versa.  There are also some things that Chris prefers doing than I do and vice versa.  So we always tried to make things equal: one night Chris would cook and I would wash up, then we would swap the next day.  I would put the washing on, Chris would hang it up, the next time we may swap.  And then we negotiated on other chores.  I did X if Chris did Y.  We also hired a cleaner (Something I would happily give up anything else for….clothes, tea, haribo, driving to work….if we ever needed to financially cut back somewhere, it’s a marriage saver in my mind). Grocery shopping, decorating, tidying, gardening, organising, bill paying….etc.  we are pretty equal.  Yes, there are odd times when we have to assess the balance, but we often do it on conditions at the time: our health and work.

We are also pretty equal on the work front too.  We take home similar amounts of pay.  Although Chris gets a bonus whereas I do not!  We are also the same age, and therefore have similar amounts of work experience.  We are progressing similarly in terms of accountability and responsibility, although we do very different jobs, and therefore different types of stresses, but our workloads ebb and flow for both of us.

Now we have new jobs to add to our life resumes/CVs.  Parenthood!  We are equally experienced in this new role…as in, we both have very little experience!  The question I have is, is it possible to be equal parents in life too?  Does it matter if Chris is mummy and I am daddy?  Do these labels mean anything in terms of the roles we play as parents and how we raise our daughter?

Currently there is an imbalance.  First of all, physically I grew Aviana inside me and I am also the milk provider.  Chris does feed her bottles, so it’s not like he has zero responsibility for this.  Secondly, I have just spent almost 7 months off work on maternity leave.  I have been Aviana’s caregiver during working hours and weeks and past couple of weeks I have been on ‘vacation’, getting things in order around the house, enjoying two weeks of holiday with my family and relaxing a little bit.  Although I have been back to work for a couple of odd weeks during my maternity leave and a few days here and there, this week I am back to work officially, properly, full speed ahead.  Eeeek.

The balance will shift.  But to what? Will it be equal? How will we adjust to our ‘ideals’? How will we negotiate chores?  How will we decide whose meeting is more important when we have to pick up a sick Aviana from daycare?  How will we decide who does each parenting task like feeding, bathing and dressing our baby?  Because we are both equally capable of these tasks.  And pretty much any other future task.  Party planning, birthday gift buying, holidays, doctors, caregivers, blah blah blah.

How will we adjust when we have different ways of doing these parenting tasks?  What will we do when one of us thinks we are doing it wrong, do we let it go?  Do we debate?  Do we continue to negotiate?  Do we have time to be equal?

How much do we want to pay for convenience like we do with our cleaners, gardeners and other services such as online shopping, food preparation, holiday planning etc?  How much is our time worth in ‘outsourcing’ so we can spend more time with Aviana?

I’m nervous.  I have expectations to be an equal working parent, but in reality it will probably be different.  I’m just not sure how it’s going to be.  Will my annoyance with that article I read be proven to be naivety on my part?  I hope not.

How equal is your parenting with your partner?  Is it what you thought it would be?  What would you do differently if you could go back in time? Does any of this ‘equality’ ideals even matter?

 

Dads don’t babysit

You’ve seen it before on the movies and TV, society tells us that when the mother goes away for work, the household will fall apart because dad is “babysitting”. Ummm no, just no! it’s impossible for a dad to babysit.  He isn’t getting paid for starters, and second of all it’s called parenting!  The term babysitting implies it is not permanent., you can hand the kid back when you like.  Parenting is a permanent responsibility, wherever you are, whenever, 24/7/365.  Dads ‘babysitting’ also implies that they are second rate.  Yes, I am primary boob milk giver, but that is the one and only difference in our roles.  We are equal.  And of course, at some point Aviana will choose her favourite parent…but our responsibilities will remain equal.  We are equally qualified (or unqualified more fittingly?!).

Could you imagine, one day if I was asked, “what are you doing this evening?” and I replied, “oh I’m babysitting whilst Chris stays late at work today”. How ridiculous would I sound?  And yet, if the roles were reversed, the probable response would be “Oh good luck with that!” or “Hope Aviana is good for you!”.

Just NO.

I went away for 8 nights on a work trip, to another continent, and Chris had the sole responsibility for Aviana for the entire time.  Except for one evening when our regular nanny was working.  But guess what Chris did that one evening he could have been taking a break?  He was babysitting our friends’ two kids.

Guess what happened when I was away?  Aviana got sick, her first cold.  It’s tough when your baby gets ill, they are cranky, miserable, don’t eat, sleep, poo or breathe well, they need love, cuddles and constant attention.  But guess what also happened when I was away?  Aviana cooed, played and was freaking adorable, Chris sent me videos everyday of Aviana doing new and fun stuff that I was missing out on. And amongst all that, Chris held the household together.  He didn’t let the dishes pile up, he did the washing, he cleaned up the garage, he put up the blinds (something on our to do list for nearly a year!), he arranged to get a quote for putting in a patio in our garden, he went to work, he paid the bills, he did the shopping, he ate salads for lunch and proper hearty meals for dinner.  The house was clean and tidy when I got home, it was like I never left, in fact it was probably tidier than when I left! Basically, life still went on.  It didn’t stop.

Now, I’m not saying it was easy. No.  He was tired, he craved adult conversation and didn’t achieve quite as much as he thought he would.  He admitted that one morning when he dropped off Aviana at daycare he cried and the teachers gave him hugs.  But you know what?   Anyone of us, mothers or fathers, would have felt the same as a single parent.  Being a single parent?  Guys, kudos, I don’t know how you do it.  I did it for a couple of nights and it was tough, if I’d done it for 8 nights I probably would have cried too, but cried in the car on my own, hiding it.  But he nailed it better than I could have.  He didn’t just babysit, he parented.

dadsdontbabysit

Ps.  I’ve written about this before Aviana arrived in our lives on my other blog The Great Pudding Club Hunt: https://thegreatpuddingclubhunt.com/2016/05/11/dads-dont-babysit/

Also there are some cool t-shirts with the slogan Dads Don’t Babysit: https://www.facebook.com/dadsdontbabysit/

 

 

 

The guilty mother

The guilt is bad enough going back to work when your baby is only 5 months old, but to leave her for 8 nights and travel to a different continent for work?  The guilt just pours out of me.   Eughhhh.

It was a tough week leaving Aviana behind.  Especially as the first night I was away she decided to wake up three times in the night rather than sleep through (typically what she has been doing for the past few weeks).  Poor Chris has had to deal with that, and on top of that, she caught her first cold.

I feel guilty that I was not there to cuddle and soothe her when she wakes in the night, I feel guilty I was not there to share the load of care, I feel guilty that my husband doesn’t get a respite, I feel guilty that I get to sleep without being woken by a crying baby (although I did have several dreams where I woke up in a panic that I had lost Aviana somewhere in the hotel room!), I feel guilty that I couldn’t store enough breastmilk for Aviana to have the entire week (I was only able to freeze 70oz and I needed twice that), I feel guilty that I couldn’t nurse her.

It has been a strange first week back to work.  I saw people who last time saw me with a big bump, or people who have only ever known me pregnant!  I reunited with a few people who are obviously sensitive to these things, and gingerly asked if everything went alright with the birth. I was impressed at these people, I won’t forget their sensitivity and made me secretly wonder what sad stories have touched their lives in the past.

The great news is that I can shed some of my constant burden and guilt is that I finally graduated from my 9 month executive development programme!  Whoop whoop!  I presented my team’s project to some of the most senior staff in the organisation and it went down very well.  I’m sad that my team has disbanded, I got to work with some of the best my organisation has, we worked well through a tough problem, through conflict of opinions, and with time always against us, but we got it done, and it was actually fun at times. The past few months of my maternity leave I have always had the weight of our team project on my shoulders, in addition to undertaking all the distance learning modules.  There were times on my maternity leave that I was on a team conference call at 7AM (because they are all in Europe) whilst rocking my crying baby, or writing meeting minutes whilst breastfeeding my baby.  I always felt guilty that I was never giving my all – to both my daughter and to my project team.  But I needn’t have worried because my team never noticed or even had a hint that I was multi-tasking during these calls.  It’s over now and I can finally shed that weight off my shoulder.

I will have to travel for work some more, that is just the nature of my job.  It’s going to be tough on both Aviana and Chris.  I don’t know how Aviana misses me because she can’t exactly communicate it clearly how she feels, but I know it will get harder as she gets a bit older…or may be not, may be she will just be used to it as I travel from an early age.  I don’t know how these things work, we will just have to go with the flow.

So yes, feeling guilty here, I didn’t think I would miss Aviana quite as much as I did.  I missed her so much that when I think about her my tear well fills up to the point of almost over flowing.  I just wanted to run across the airport when I landed home to get back as quickly as possible to see her. Is it hormones?  Is it love?  I’d say probably both.

The greatest thing that happened is when I got home and saw Aviana for the first time in a week…she smiled, giggled coyly and reached her arms up for me. THE BEST feeling ever.  Just wish I didn’t have to feel so guilty when I leave her.

Pump pump pump pump it up!

I promised I would pump n blog. So here I am. Pumping and blogging…in the disabled restroom. 

Yes. The restroom. 

Unfortunately the person I spoke to back in March who was going to arrange for me to have a space to pump in was out of office today. And their #2 didnt know anything about a new lactation/privacy room.  

The room I was using for the one week I went back to work in March is now under renovation for something else. So I’m making do today. Fortunately the disabled toilet is big enough for me to get a chair in it and sit down. And it’s not too smelly because not many people use it. I’d say it’s actually in pretty good clean condition. The cleaners are great. But this is a very short term solution, I hope.  Turns out a colleague of mine did the same, which horrifies me. I know there are several empty rooms in my building, it’s just a matter of assigning one. But may be the person who said he would have one ready for my return does have one ready and it’s just that no one knows where it is because it is so private!!! Ha!


The things we do for our little loved ones…. someday Aviana I will tell you these fun stories!

The end of maternity leave

Today is technically my last day of maternity leave. And here I am writing on this blog! I should be out enjoying the freedom before work! Except I have to pump breast milk for little Miss A. So I think I will be doing this more frequently! Pump n blog. It’s a thing now.

I’m ready to go back to work. Although sometimes I feel like I never left because I have been studying and working on my team project for the executive development programme – which BTW ends next week! I get to graduate! Whoop whoop! Assuming I don’t screw up the final presentation. The report is written, printed and the presentation almost finalised. I am not sure how I managed to do it whilst on maternity leave, but I did. Some weeks were hard when I had to play catch up with my team project because I was busy trying to figure out toys, breastfeeding, naps, crying, doctors, daycares…well motherhood in general! I’m so almost at the end! I can’t wait to not have the burden of study or project work over my shoulder! Kind of like finishing my Masters in someways!!

I’m not looking forward to pumping and figuring that all out. And I’m not looking forward to figuring out a routine. Chris and I tried it today and I managed to get out the house 10 minutes later than I hoped. So we will probably need to wake up at 5.45am to get out he door on time!!! Practice makes perfect. Tomorrow will be the real deal. And a friend colleague has moved nearby us so we could car share but need to figure out logistics of dropping/picking Aviana up for the future.

I tried on all my work clothes yesterday- none of my shirts fit me because of my milk filled boobs! But my trousers and skirts still fit. So I guess it’s time to adjust my work clothing style, especially as I was in maternity work clothes before.  I hate shopping so I’m relying on Le tote to help me out a bit. I’ve ordered my first work clothes style box and it should arrive today just in time! No more casual, comfy, slouchy clothes for me!! I’m already missing my hoodie 😭

But don’t cry for me…I’ve still got a lot of leave to take when I get back from my trip to Belgium next week. Whoop whoop! I think rhis gradual integration back to work is going to be good. I hope! 

I’m going to miss this little one!