Big Jobs and Big Fights and New Cars and Hold ON!

Oh friends! So much has happened in my tiny world since last I wrote you, only a week ago! But that’s how life goes, eh? We spent our Independence Day in the mountains at the wedding of some dear friends. It was totally lovely,  and Ansel did shockingly well staying in the very un-air conditioned condo and powering through a LOT of social interaction. He did not enjoy riding in the car in holiday mountain-bound traffic and made no qualms about letting us know for the entire 4 hour standstill ride. I may or may not have nursed him in a moving car when we were going really slowly. Don’t call anyone, ok? Luckily, the ride home was much quicker and smoother. Ansel does not like traffic. 11717431_845424608838823_8843053917467744225_o 10443248_10153008355001864_681322469635043324_o 11705544_10153007241641864_3447088196798070897_o 887368_10153005208856864_1358797404296242928_o (it’s my beer, ok? I swear we aren’t the parents this post is making us out to be. But can’t you just imagine Ansel drunkenly talking to his Ducky? “Ducky . . .Imma tell you sumthin’ I love you. NO! NO! I looooove you!”) Just before we left, my organization got word that we were awarded the federal funding we applied for in April.

The funding award more than doubles our organizational budget annually, which is, you know, fucking awesome. It will also mean a LOT of work. I was written in as the project director, which means it will be more than a lot of work for me, but also a golden opportunity for me to gain a lot of new skills, manage a huge grant, make national contacts, and do new, exciting work. It also means a raise. A fairly significant one, it’s looking like. Although we are still ironing out the details (like how many additional staff we will hire, if we’ll move, how we’ll keep up with the work we are already doing) the salary in the budget is $7K more than I make now, and even though it went against every grain of socialization in my body, I asked for even more.

So, I’m getting a new job, just not the new job I thought I’d be getting. And I am so incredibly relieved. I get to keep the things I love about my job – the flexible culture, the field, my amazing colleagues – and get some of the other stuff I wanted, like a salary that might let my family finally breathe easy when it comes to money. Or, easier anyway.

That was the good news from the last week. There was bad news too, of course. The flooding from the week prior did some significant damage to La’s car, which we are still figuring out. Our insurance deductible is $1000, so any way you slice it we are going to be out some serious cash. It’s also unclear if the car will be totaled or not – initially we heard that it definitely would not, and then we heard it probably would, and now we have no idea. More on this later.

The other stress is with my mom. The mom issues just keep’a comin’.

So, my mom watches A on Wednesdays when both La and I work, from about 9-9:30am to 3ish when La picks him up, so 6 hours in total. I pump, and provide for the next day, an average of 10 oz (sometimes up to 12, but 10 is pretty standard.) On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, La has no issues with this amount of milk adequately feeding A from 9-6, which is the total time I’m away – 9 hours. Each time my mom has had A, she has expressed intense anxiety about having enough milk and fed him all 10oz before La arrives to pick him up at 3.

The result of this is that La has to calm my moms fears and then is usually dealing with a VERY hungry/fussy/cranky A by the time I get home at 6pm. She can (and has) dipped into the freezer stash, but I always get nervous both because I don’t have a lot in there and I want to encourage him to nurse as well as possible when I get home. It’s already a struggle when I get home because he has gotten used to the flow of a bottle and gets mad at my boobs for not spouting milk like he’d want. I also have a sneaking suspicion that in a few more weeks, her anxiety over having enough milk will turn into requests for more, and my fear with this is that she would feed him whatever amount I sent – 10, 12, 15 ounces. And I can’t keep up with that.

So, I’ve asked her to hold off on the last bottle, tried to explain the complexities of pumping, encouraged her to rock or walk or snuggle or pacify in any other way. I am also suspicious that he is not napping as well as he could be because she tends to hold him instead of putting him in the swing, so my guess is that he is crying/fussing because he is sleepy, but she feeds him because its easier than getting him to sleep. When I’ve talked to her about it, she says that she can ‘tell that he’s hungry.’

The stress of trying to make pumping arithmetic work is rough on any given day, but knowing that he was eating so much more AND still super hungry or eating from the stash was too much. So last Wednesday I decided I was going to say something.

Which I did, last night. And it erupted into a horrible argument. She went into an intense guilt trip (“I am such a horrible grandmother, I’m not fit to watch him”) and which devolved into statements like “well if its so difficult for you to pump enough, maybe he needs a supplement” and “I’m sorry I can’t do it like LA!” I asked her to just wait to give him his last bottle until 3pm – she said, “well I can try but I’m not going to let him just cry in hunger!”

It was a mess. So, I hung up the phone and sent a text to my dad, hoping he’d have my back. No such luck. Instead, he said I was being ridiculous, that ‘it’s just a few ounces of milk! just give her more milk!’ and that it would be horrible for me to “drive a wedge through our family” over something “so silly.” He said we needed to find a compromise, that they’d try it my way, but if it didn’t work I’d have to ‘just send more milk.’ And why couldn’t I just appreciate the favor my mother was doing for us?

Y’all. Y’ALL. Am I being totally irrational to want someone who is watching my kid to feed him like I ask them to? If she’s like this about the breastmilk, what will she do about the requests I make regarding solid foods? Or anything else? I 100% believe that she is trying her best, but I also think she doesn’t have the energy to rock him to sleep the way he needs to be rocked, that she’s uncomfortable with him crying so she feeds him. And it’s not a favor to me to be stressed out. I can pay someone to watch my kid and feed him the way I ask. The money would be worth not having to freak out or feel like I have to sacrifice my parenting to make my mom feel good.

I am begrudgingly taking him over there tomorrow. With 10 oz, in 3 bags, labeled for the times he is to eat them. And if she freaks out, I will reiterate what  have said before. He eats 10 oz or less in the 9 hours he’s with La, he can eat 10oz in 6 hours and be fine. I’m not waking up in the middle of the night to pump more, I’m not going to sacrifice what little sanity I have to pacify my mom.

Ugh. That was long.

So. The car. Things are still up in the air, but we are looking into trading the car in when we get it back (it’s a lease, which is up in about 5 months) and getting a CRV (the current car is a civic and the regular little car set fills the entire back seat, let alone the big baby one!) So last night we went and test drove one. And it’s beautiful and roomy and would totally be wonderful. And it would pump our car payment up much higher than I’d like. And our monthly income is going up even more. So. What to do, what to do? The fact is, we will likely need to either get a new lease or take over payments on the civic come December, so we might as well have the car we really want and need, instead of one that isn’t ultimately meeting our needs. But car payments, especially big ones, suck. So. Luckily, we have to wait to find out what’s up with the civic anyway, because man are those cars pretty.

That’s what’s going on, y’all. Life is a solid mix of awesome and really hard. Working full time and momming full time continues to be hard. my baby continues to be magical. I continue to not get enough sleep both because my baby continues to wake up and because I cannot convince myself to go to bed before 11pm no matter how hard I try. I have decided to become a more regular beer-a-night drinker, because it takes the edge off the day. I have NEVER been a beer-a-night drinker. Or really much of a drinker. But I was a smoker and I don’t want to go back to that, so a beer a night seems like a good compromise. Life is good and hard and exhausting and wonderful. And next week my baby will be 4 months old!


22 thoughts on “Big Jobs and Big Fights and New Cars and Hold ON!

  1. Have you taught your mother paced feeding? Does she know that breast milk changes in composition so babies don’t eat more as they grow, the milk is more nutrient dense? If she’s not paced feeding (and it doesn’t sound like she is) she is causing his frustration with nursing and can cause him to wean early. It’s important that she knows all of this and really gets it. It’s his health and yours that are impacted. Let her know if she can’t follow the instructions that you will get a babysitter because it’s not good for him to eat that much. I know it sucks, but you have to do what is best for you both. Does he take a pacifier? What about a swing and baby einstein? If you can find ways to make him happier she won’t feed him as much in theory. We’ve had great success with the swing and baby einstein lately.

    Did you nurse in the back seat while in crap traffic? That would be safer so if you got hit you wouldn’t have to worry about the air bags. That’s the only real concern in that situation. I’m glad we didn’t have to mess with the traffic since we stayed home to let everyone heal up. 4 hours stuck in traffic would be horrible for us too. I think I’d pull over to nurse since I”m the driver. Gotta feed the baby!

    Congrats on the job/grant!

    • Yeah, I’ve sent her videos and hand outs about paced feeding and she SAYS she’s doing it (I highly doubt, since he frequently doesn’t finish bottles with L when she pace feeds him) and I’ve suggested the swing and baby einstein (both of which we provide for her, so I know she has them!) But I think ultimately, she doesn’t really ‘get’ the stuff you mentioned. When I talked about it on the phone tonight with her, she made a comment that insinuated my needs around breastfeeding were selfish and that SHE just wanted what was best for him. I’m going to give it some time to get her to better understand, but if she can’t hang, we will definitely get a sitter instead.
      Yeah, it was in the back seat for sure. For most long rides, I hang out in the back with him to keep him happy, so I just snuck him out of the car seat while we were stop-and-go’ing!

  2. The job thing sounds awesome! Money freaks me out for us big time. If we could get both of our cars paid off we would have an extra influx of $500 a month. Less than two years on that. Me going part time but us still having to pay for daycare is scary.

    In sorry you fought with your momma. I fight with mine ALL THE TIME, as you probably know, so I know how stressful that is!

  3. Also, I meant to say that my mom is somewhat unsupportive of breastfeeding because it interferes with her ability to hold Charlie whenever she wants (heaven forbid I have to take her away to FEED HER FROM MY BODY).

  4. I have a suggestion. What if la takes over that discussion and shows her what she does when you are away. Or explains what works for her and lets your mom know “this is what I found”

    Then it takes the Strain off you and her. I find my mom listens to M a lot better then me. And isn’t quick to snap at her like she is as me. Is he spitting up at her house at all! That would be an easy way to tell her it’s too much.

    And for travelling with a baby. Stressful! We traveled at Easter and I feel like I beat the system by putting batteries in my pump and bringing along with me. When he started to sister I would pump a bottle in the backseat beside him and when he started to cry I put the bottom right in his mouth and his car seat. Repeat every hour or two. It cut down our stops like crazy!

  5. Congrats on the job- that’s number one.

    Two- your mom. Wowza. Do you think she would benefit/could show restraint if she had a small stash of frozen? Maybe her know there was more than enough might cool her jets? Like here is what you should feed and if you HAVE to use this. But please try not to. Solids will come soon and you can send him with a snack or rough times. We keep a container of plain rice puffed cereal (organic rice krispies) in the diaper bag as shut up snack for the times when we just need Gus to shut up a minute. You’ll be there in no time and i think that will help. I don’t mean to side with your dad because you are right but i think things get tricky when grandma does childcare and you have to accept she won’t always do things the way you ask. – I might just be super forgiving because all Gus’ grandparents live 3000 miles away and i’m jealous. – i just think you have to pick your battles and this one will change in the next month or two. If it’s worth it, fight it, but remember she means well. (Again though, you’re right.)

  6. Don’t want to just repeat what’s already been said but you’re totally NOT being irrational. I wouldn’t be too happy if T was being fed in an answer to his cries – especially if he wasn’t in turn napping.

  7. Bloomin phone…

    I’m quite nervous when my mum has T when I go back to work for this exact reason. You can’t just “get more milk” and I’m certainly not going to allow top ups if it’s not necessary (ie. Follow the god dam feeding schedule).

    Your baby – your rules. How about that?

    Anyway, that aside, awesome news with the job Hun. That’s brilliant.


  8. First, I love love love the photos. You and LA look so happy. Love the blue theme too. And Ansel, his duck and your beer… Well, enough said. Adorable.

    Second, you’re not being unreasonable. Or ridiculous. Or silly. Period. I’m sorry this stress is persisting and hope you can resolve it one way or another soon.

    Third, congrats on the work front! I love it when life works out as it should if not exactly as you anticipated. Yay!

    Finally, I hope the car stuff gets sorted in your favour.

  9. I don’t have time to read all the comments but wanted to say that from my experience what happens with one person doesn’t usually impact what happens with another person food wise. With Carter I was psychotic about his feeding schedule when he was with anyone (including myself). It created a lot of stress. Maybe he wanted to comfort eat when he was with other people, or maybe the different stimulation actually made him more hungry. I don’t know. The fact is he wanted more when I wasn’t around. When he was about 6 months old I relaxed and everything got easier. He would eat what he ate, and sleep what he slept with other people and he had his norm with me. Sure, sometimes things got thrown off but for the most part…no more than they were being thrown off before.

    With Dylan I’ve let her eat on demand her whole life whether it was breast feeding, breast milk in a bottle or formula when needed. She has a very clear understanding of when she is done eating. My Father still tries to offer her food when she gets fussy and if it’s not that she is hungry she pushes it away and yells at him. I don’t know if it’s my behaviour that made Carter so desperate for food when he was a baby or if it just was what it was. I know that when I go to a party I don’t really want to be at I over indulge in food (or alcohol) just as comfort…I think little humans are the same and I don’t actually think there is much wrong with this.

    All that said, i understand your anxiety about having enough breast milk. You are doing great, hopefully it settles down and becomes a little easier.


  10. You guys look awesome! Congratulations on the grant, raise, and new responsibilities. Good luck with your mom. My parents watch Brian and when he was Ansel’s age my mom was feeding him every time he cried when there were other motives aside from hunger. Hopefully as you have more conversations her guilt will subside.

  11. Wheh, that is a tough spot with your mom. I like the idea above to see if La might be able to have a good conversation with her. Maybe she could come over on a day La is home and hang out for a bit? It also makes sense that he could be comfort eating without you or La but I think I agree with your assessment of her not getting him to sleep properly when he is there.

    What bottles do you use? The Breastflow ones I had were great because they required suction and pressure with correct tongue position. That might help your mom to not feed too fast or too much.

    I have not had to leave my son with my parents for regular periods but I have been a nanny for so long. I’ve had three breastfed babies (plus my own who also needed bottles) and haven’t had an issue doing it their way. I didn’t have the stress of being the grandmother though. I hope you can make progress with this and not have to hire a sitter. That could put a rift between you all. Explain to her that you really want him to be able to have a day with her but if it is too stressful or too much to ask of her you could get a sitter that day.

  12. It’s so tough navigating childcare issues when it comes to family that have their own ideas about how to do things. It sounds like you’re doing your best to pump as much as you can, and I’m not sure what the best way to handle the situation is, but I hope that you two can resolve it smoothly. Congrats on the grant approval, and the awesome pay raise! Good luck with the car situation. Baby stuff certainly takes a whole whackload of room in the car! We have a small car too, and if we have a second, we will likely have to upgrade to a minivan (also because of the dogs).

  13. That grant is AWESOME stuff! Great news!!! I’m pretty sure that is seriously going to help. As far as the feeding thing…well, here’s the thing. I worked daycare for a long stretch of time, and if there is anything that I’ve learned, kids are very different for their parents than they are for their other care givers. With that said, as a day care provider, we strictly adhere to the parents schedule. And I mean that! BUT there are kids who have a little more anxiety than others and they exhibit that (in the case of an infant) in 1) eating more 2) eating less. I’m almost certain that you would be just as concerned if A were barely eating. IAnother thing I noticed is that when parents don’t have a clear routine, getting into a routine at school can prove difficult. Maybe its the opposite for A. He’s got a great routine with you both, but things are a little out of wack at grandma’s. Just reiterate to your mom the importance of his schedule. Make shit up! He’s anxious here so that’s why he acts like that! Keep to this schedule and you’ll see he’ll be fine! I was having this conversation with a friend not even 5 minutes ago. Sometimes, our parents think they are our kids parents and it’s annoying, so we get overwhelmed and overworked. Our best defense is to stay cool , and calm and explain to them, you knew us better than anyone, and now, I know my son better than anyone. They can never be mad at you for that (as long as you’re gentle in your saying it) 🙂

  14. Congrats on the job and the raise! I know what you mean about the milk and feeding issues. My sister watched M for a short time after we fired our first nanny. She would feed him 9 oz of milk in 2 hours and kept telling me he was starving and I needed to bring more milk for him. It was so stressful. I’ve only ever pumped enough to feed him, no real freezer stash. I hope it works out and everyone can move forward.

  15. Well congrats on all the good news! As for the mom stuff, I’m so sorry you have had to deal with that. I don’t have any suggestions that haven’t already been stated here, as I”m late to the commenting! But, hang in there. I’m totally in agreement with you. My mom and mother in law didn’t really care for how we fed, bathed, clothed, blah blah – because it’s so different from when they were raising kids. Try and keep your sanity, mama!

  16. Your point about A not sleeping because your mother holds him is true of a lot of babies, especially the firstborn. Everyone wants to hold them, so they don’t get enough sleep or they get used to people always holding them and they never like to be left alone or not be the center of attention. Moderation is key.

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