Wait. And Sleep.And feelings.

Well friends, what I really came here to do was vent. Vent about the fact that on May 15th, when I had my interview with the national organization, they told me I was one of 5 candidates and they’d be narrowing the pool to 3 and informing folks on Tuesday May 26th. If you’re sleep deprived like me and aren’t always the best at dates, that was two days ago. I didn’t get a call or e-mail that day, or yesterday. I sent a very innocuous and lighthearted e-mail yesterday – something like, “Just wanted to reiterate how excited I am about this position! Can’t wait to hear from you!” And still, nothing.

I get it. I’ve hired folks too, and the process almost always takes longer than you expect. You get one more good resume in, or not all your candidates can interview on the days you initially set up for interviews. Whatever, It happens. That’s fine. But you know what isn’t cool? Telling someone you’ll get back to them about a pretty significant opportunity by a certain day and then just . . .not. Like, not being responsive at all.

Maybe the manager is sick? That or she is completely blowing me off because I am not one of their top three. These are the only possible reasons I can think of why I haven’t heard anything, not even a “the process is taking longer than we anticipated, we’ll be in touch shortly.” If it’s A, I will feel like a dick for being so impatient. If it’s B, I fully intend to mention it to my colleague at the organization, highlighting why it’s hella unprofessional. (There were only 5 candidates, that warrants phone calls in my opinion, but an e-mail at the very least!) But, the longer that goes by with no word, the more sure I feel that I’m not still in the running, and the more my feels are hurt that I am not even being personally told that, just left to figure it out. That said, I’m sure it’s just taking longer and I’ll hear soon and I am being somewhat unfair. Which is why I’m doing this here, where y’all will be supportive and it won’t reflect poorly on me. I hope.

Our other project this week has been to start helping the smidgen get into some good sleeping habits. As I mentioned, up until recently, the kid would basically nurse until he fell asleep, and then we could put him in the rock’n’play or swing for night time or nap. No longer. Lately, he’s needed some additional coaxing to stay asleep once he’s in his bed. We decided to use the happiest baby 5 S approach, to see if we can help him have some sleep cues to fall back on. So, we have been regularly swaddling, shushing (and using white noise machines), swinging, sucking (via the pacifier) and putting him on his side – at least until he’s out. He still needs about 10 minutes of help when I first put him down, and then another round about 15-20 minutes later when he wakes up (La and I take turns) – but once he’s out, he stays out. I also sometimes have to shush and sit with him in the middle of the night after he eats, but not as often. Last night, he slept his typical 5 hour stretch, then woke to eat from about 2:30-3:30 (to be fair, I often doze while I’m feeding him, which is why it takes so long!) and then went back to sleep until about 6am! It was awesome to only get up with him once in the middle of the night! I’ve also been giving him a “dream feed” (basically nursing him in his sleep about 2 hours after he goes down, before I go to bed) to help extend his stretch a little. Last night he wasn’t interested in eating when I went to bed, but the night prior, it pushed him to 6 full hours.

Finally, going back to work is HARD. I’m still crying every day when I leave, and usually once during the day (when I think about my little dude and look at his pictures.) Once I’m here and busy, I feel pretty good. I like my job, I like being mentally engaged in this work. But I really, really hate being away from my baby. I often said I could probably handle being a stay at home mom, if it were financially feasible, and while this isn’t evidence to support that per se, I at least feel very strongly that the US absolutely NEEDS to have paid maternity leave for 6 months or more. I have this awful feeling of trying to stretch out time, knowing that my days at home with him are shrinking fast, and soon I’ll be down to just three a week. It feels just impossibly awful to live in a culture that takes us away from our babies. I don’t know what I can do to make this not feel so aching and difficult, so if you know, tell me? I want to work (and I HAVE to work) but I also need to find a way to feel ok about having to work, and that is feeling very, very hard right now.

But this baby? Pure joy.

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Month Deux and Back to the Grind

I am writing this update from my office, where I am attached to my Med.ela pump-in-style double pump, expressing milk. I am lucky to work for an organization that is super chill about these things, and even more so with an office mate who is an aspiring midwife and therefore, is even kind of excited for me to be doing weird bodily things, like attaching myself to a milk machine.

It’s my first week back at work. It’s too early to be here but, that’s the breaks when you’re an american. I am here two days a week for the next three weeks, then two days a week for another two, and then back full time – 4 days in the office and 1 at home. I’m grateful for this transition, and also for an amazing partner who is willing to bring my little smidgen to me during lunch so I can nurse him and take the edge off of missing him. I know it will get easier, and that I really *don’t* want to quit my job (even though that’s absolutely what I decided on my drive in this morning) but it’s not easy, this work-mom balance thing. Tuesday’s good news is that I pumped a total of 6oz, or exactly what I need to for the hours I was away from A. And, I met my 4oz in a single session goal, so that’s a win.

On the work front- I had the interview with the big national org on Friday, and it went well. I only occasionally couldn’t think of the right word for my intention, and managed to sound pretty damned smart much of the time. Phone interviews are the hardest, though, since you can’t gauge how things are going based on body language and facial expressions. But I think I did ok. The hiring manager told me that they were doing an initial interview with 5 candidates, and then would narrow that down to three for second interviews, and then do third interviews with the top 2. I should know if I’ve made it to the next step in a week. The timeline is somewhat ridiculous – with the ‘latest start date’ being July 15th. If I do get an offer, I will absolutely be negotiating that because even when you DON’T have an infant, a month to move cross country is sort of absurd. But, again – chickens . . .hatched . . .etc.

Yesterday was Ansel’s 2 month check-up and first round of vaccines. All things considered, it wasn’t as hard a day as it could have been. He is weighing in at 10lbs 2oz, up from 9lbs 15oz on Monday at group. He’s also 22 1/2 inches long, head measuring 38.3cm, putting him between the 10th and 25th percentile for all measurements. So, still on the small side, but he’s jumped from the 5th percentile for weight to the 25th, so that’s a great improvement, and most important, he continues to grow well! The shots weren’t so bad; I nursed him while the nurse gave them, and while he did cry and turn deep red, he recovered very quickly with the help of a boob. We went to the Museum of Nature and Science to see the Mythical Creatures exhibit, then came home for a long family nap in the bed. He slept shockingly well last night, considering his day.

I am quickly learning that I looked like shit during my pregnancy. How, you ask? Well, everyone I see these days can’t stop talking about how “GOOD” I look. They are using words like “beautiful” “so pretty” “just fabulous” and they don’t stop at the casual and anticipated, “So good to see you, you look great!” No, no. These are gushes, repeated, “oh my god! You look SO GOOD!! Like, so pretty! Wow!”  And, of course, we all know how often “you look good” is code for “you’ve lost weight” when said with just that inflection that all women are taught. It’s making me uncomfortable.

So, I finally asked La. And she admitted that “you looked REALLY exhausted all the time” and, apparently, my face got waaaay puffy. These things, plus the pregnancy face acne (which has migrated to my back, post partum!) the overall weight gain and my schnoz getting huge and bulbous, apparently had me looking pretty rough. I also think the bar is lower when you’re already fat. I mean, people think I lost weight (and I did) but it was mostly just a baby and his accessories, not, like . . .a diet. Anyway, it’s weird but flattering, I guess? Also, I am way more tired now but pulling it off better, I guess. I am newly in love, and that can do wonders for your looks.

So, without further adieu, here are the latest from the little dude:

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Baby Unicorn at the museum

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Month 1 vs. Month 2!

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This SMILE!

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I highly recommend investing in or making baby legwarmers. They are diaper changes made easy and life made more adorable.

Opportunity Knocks

I’m working on getting into a pattern with posting – once a week is my goal, and at least for the time being, I’m meeting my goal. Awesome. This week is my last of full time maternity leave. I’m sad about it, but feeling more confident about being able to leave. La’s summer class schedule plus my transition, means one of us will be with A until July, when my mom will start watching him one day a week (I’ll work from home another, and the other three he’ll be with the Mommy.) My biggest fear is pumping and maintaining our breastfeeding relationship, so if you have tips or success stories, please share!

Ansel is up to 9lbs 6oz as of yesterday, transferring about 3oz during groups, bringing his weight gain to between 7-9oz a week over the last month. I’m pumping once a day usually, at night after he goes to bed, and getting between 3 and 3 1/2 oz to save. I have 40oz + (prompting La to walk around the house singing, “Baby got a forty!”) in the freezer – more than enough to get us through my first day of work, with some reserves as well. The LC I spoke to yesterday gave me some good tips for returning to work, and we bought her recommended bottles (playtex’s ventaire) and La is going to bring him to me for lunch, at least the first few days, so I think we are about as ready as we can be!

He is still sleeping a good 3-5 hours for his first go of the night, with wake-ups after that ranging from hourly to every three hours, with no indication of how it will go. The last few days he’s woken up between 4:30-6:30 and been firmly, solidly, joyfully AWAKE – at least for the next hour or two. This would suck except he is so beautifully full of smiles and coos that I can’t manage to be cranky about it. Because she is amazing, La has taken him at this time and let me get in a bit of a nap until he needs to eat again. Sort of coinciding with these early wake ups, he’s had a bit of a harder time going to sleep. We used to just be able to rock and nurse him to sleep, then put him in the rock’n’play and he’d sleep that solid 3-5 hours; the last few nights, I’ve rocked and nursed, put him down and he’s woken up crying 5 minutes later. This happens between 2-4 times before he’s solidly asleep. I am hoping this is just a little shift and not a full on change to his pattern, and . . .I know that there is no such thing as a schedule or ‘way things are’ at this stage.

But I can’t complain: 2015-05-11 18.07.45

In other news . . .

Before I went on leave, one of the school district’s I work with started talking to me about coming to work directly for them. I really love my job, but the district would be able to offer me (marginally) more money, summers off, and better benefits – all very attractive. I was excited about the possibility, and was biding my time until I heard from them. About a month ago, I got a call. The director said that they had discussed it, and because I don’t have a teaching license, it would make more sense for them to pay my organization for my time – basically, contract me out. The problem with this is that it doesn’t lead to that pay and fringe increase for me, it just gets the district off the hook. I told them I’d look into it, and was trying to think about how I might be able to parlay the whole situation into an increase at work. I consulted one of my best friends, who is also a brilliant non profit professional and A’s fairy godmother. During our conversation, she asked me what I wanted to do eventually. Like, what was my long term goal professionally?

The thing is, y’all . . .I have pretty much just been following bread crumbs for my entire professional life. It’s worked out well for me insofar as I’ve built a pretty diverse skill set and gotten to work really awesome jobs without being worried about following some pre-set trajectory. But, as I inch into my mid-thirties and have a kid, it’s occurred to me that it might be time to actually think about this long-term goal stuff. In talking to her, I mentioned that it would be pretty amazing to work for one of the national organizations doing reproductive justice and sexual health education work. Someday.

The next day, what should appear in my inbox but a job at one of these national organizations. A job that I was both interested in and qualified for, despite my somewhat erratic professional history. It felt like, well . . .a sign. So, I e-mailed the person I know at the organization (who works in a different department) and she offered to put in a good word for me, brushed up my resume and wrote a cover letter, found some writing samples, and sent it all off last Friday.

This morning I got an e-mail requesting a phone interview this Friday. What?!

I’m excited to even be considered for a national level job, so no matter what happens, it feels pretty amazing. But, of course, you can’t avoid the rabbit hole of ‘what would this mean if . . .” And what would it mean? Well . . .

It would mean moving across the country with an infant, leaving the only state I’ve ever lived in, leaving my family  . . . it would mean working at a national level doing work I love, living in Washington DC, raising a kid in an incredibly culturally rich world, having a new job market for La to find a full time faculty position . . .selling the house we love, trying to find a place to live that we can afford in a much more expensive market, leaving friends we’ve known for years, starting completely over socially . . .

I can go on for hours, and I vacillate between excitement and terror, which I think is probably typical. And then I remind myself that we aren’t there yet. An interview isn’t an offer.

But, it’s an interview. And that’s pretty damn exciting. And it could turn our lives upside down very, very quickly.

Please wish me good interview vibes, and say a little prayer that Ansel (and I, by extension) get a good nights rest on Thursday so I can think of smart things to say on Friday afternoon.

The New Normal

Ansel will be 7 weeks old tomorrow!?! 7 weeks feels like a big/miniscule number. I mean, I still occasionally wake up at 3am and forget that we have a baby (ironic since it is the BABY that is waking me up) but we have also started to acclimate to this new life. We have started to know him, to the extent we can. We are starting to get into patterns with our days (of course we have now, since I’m going back to work part time in two weeks.) Here are some things I have thought about telling you all over the last few weeks:

  • There are a LOT of my blogging friends who are coming up on babies being outside the belly, and while I am certainly still at novice level with this stuff, I do have a couple of product recommendations:
    •  The Woombie: Ansel love/hates a good swaddle. He has an intense moro and startle reflex and is way into being snuggled tight. He also deeply craves having his hands as close to his head and face as possible. We discovered early on that he was strong enough to break out of even a nice tight swaddle with a muslin or flannel swaddle blanket. We then started adding a zip up pod swaddle thing over the blankets, but he then started breaking out of the blanket layer and sticking his hand up through the neck hole of the swaddle pod, which freaked me out. My friend recommended the woombie, and after doing some research, we decided to shell out for it. It’s amazing! Ansel is able to move his arms (not all the way to his face, but up to his chest) while also staying snuggled and keeping the reflex in check. Because he can move his arms a little, he doesn’t try and reach them out of the neck hole, and there isn’t a blanket to come undone and get all up in his face. We love it so much we ordered a second one so we don’t have to do a wash when it gets a pee leak!
    • The Auto Rock’n’PlaySo far, Ansel will only sleep in the following places: on my chest (or La’s), in a carrier (which is really just a variation of #1), in a swing for very short periods of time and in this, the auto rock’n’play. Our first two nights home, I slept approximately 2 hours in 15 minute stretches while either trying to lay him down in a co-sleeper (and then having him wake up) or letting him sleep on my chest while I “slept” sitting propped up on pillows (and actually didn’t really sleep because I was so terrified of dropping him.) I posted something about this on the mom’s group I’m a part of on FB (which is affiliated with the Longest Shortest Time podcast – both of which I also recommend!) and 9 out of 10 comments told me to get a rock’n’play. We found a cheap version on c’list and bought it immediately. It worked beautifully, but I did still have to spend a lot of time rocking it sleepily from bed. So, when my mom offered to buy Ansel an Easter gift, we mentioned that the auto rock’n’play was at the top of his list. We still have the other one in the living room for naps. That’s how much we like it.
    • Other stuff getting me through the day: Our Moby and K’tan wraps (I prefer the moby because I can make it tighter and the k’tan gets stretched out, but you can’t beat the k’tan for ease) – La also loves the ergo, but I haven’t used it yet; old flannel receiving blankets cut into smaller parts to use as burp cloths and cloth wipes (add to that a wipes warmer filled with water and a few drops of Dr. Bronner’s lavendar baby soap!); the wubbanub – Ansel could suck on something 24/7, so we introduced a pacifier fairly early on after we established a good latch and I felt solid about reading his hunger cues, it’s especially helpful in the car when he is constantly spitting the pacifier out – we just tuck the dino stuffie into his straps and it keeps his pacifier in! So good!
  • Post Partum Body: I lost 10 of the 30-ish pounds I gained within a week and a half of giving birth, and dropped the rest of my pregnancy weight by a month out. At my 6 week appointment last week, I’d lost another 7 lbs – so below my pre-pregnancy weight (we might call this pre-pregnancy fertility drug weight.) Thanks to my c-section, I have mostly been in elastic waist pants due to pain, but all my pre-pregnancy pants fit. Despite being at my pre-pregnancy size, my body is so different now. All the chub that was once somewhat evenly distributed on my mid section has all migrated down to the area right above my pubic bone – the mom ‘pooch’ is real! My boobs are bigger too, which is nice (and I know is a short term change, unfortunately.) I’ve also developed post-partum bacne, which is apparently a pretty common thing, thanks to changing hormones and excessive sweating (y’all, the sweating after you give birth is *intense*) and it is making me feel disgusting. My face, hands and feet all quickly returned to their normal sizes. My body is the same as before I got pregnant, and also totally not. It’s like I’m bizarro-Andie – recognizable but also kind of off. Mostly, I feel ok about these changes. I’m proud of what my body did (I mean, it made a REALLY cute baby) and continues to do, but its strange to only sort of recognize yourself.
  • Ansel Update: At last week’s LC group, the dude was 8lbs 5 oz, up 9oz since the prior week! I’m hoping he’ll have gained in this range again (he gained 7 oz the week before) when we go tomorrow, bringing him to 9-ish pounds (worth noting my nephew was born at that weight – so strange to have such a different experience!) He’s still mostly in newborn sized clothes, although they are getting kind of short. The 0-3 stuff is mostly too big (although with his cloth diaper butt, less so when it comes to pants) but is the right length. I’m still pumping a few times a day and mostly feeding it back to him, but hoping to phase this out so I can save the pumped milk for when I go back to work. He’s sleeping 3-5 hours for his initial stretch in the evening, then usually in 2-3 hour chunks afterwards. It’s really awesome, and I know it may or may not last, so I’m enjoying it for the time being. He is having good stretches of quiet and alert time, when we let him look at stuff, play on his infant gym, or walk around. He’s definitely beginning to really SEE things in a different way, which is so wonderful.
  • It seems strange, but I really didn’t realize I would have to wipe poop off of my son’s scrotum quite so much as I do.

I think I had some more to say but . . .Ansel woke up halfway through this, and now I’m finishing it and . . .I can’t remember.

Here’s a cute baby: 2015-05-04 11.35.55

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