Working mummy

I don’t know where I want to go with this post. Here’s a summary of this week’s happenings:

I’m back to work 4 full days a week. I’m also at a conference (in town) for 3 days this week. So I didn’t drive home at lunch on Monday and let Kevin take Duncan to the babysitter’s at lunch. He didn’t eat for 9 hours (I’m not assigning any blame. He just refused all food from anything other than mummy). 9 hours! I’d pass out without food.

And it occurred to me last night that while he’s certainly not shrinking and wasn’t terribly unhappy by all reports, not drinking anything for 9 hours maybe isn’t so good. While well-meaning people like to tell me that “he’ll eat when he’s hungry enough,” apparently he won’t. The data proves that 7-9 hours isn’t hungry enough and I’m not willing to wait and see just how hungry “enough” is. Plus, not eating all day has the downside that, even after feeding him every hour in the evening, he wakes up every 3 hours at night. Which means I wake up. Which means I don’t get enough sleep. Which means…well, you get the idea. Sleep deprivation is never pretty.

Today was his first full day at the other babysitter (yes, we’re exposing the child to a wide variety of people. Either he’ll be completely adaptable or traumatized. It’s too early to tell). Again, I didn’t go and visit at lunch. And he ate!

It’s amazing how little things like your baby eating when you’re not there make you happy. He ate twice! And he ate cereal. So that makes me feel better about the whole abandoning-my-child-with-people-I-pay-25%-of-my-income-to-so-I-can-go-to-work thing. Just a little better. Not better enough to want to keep doing it, mind you.

This evening, we had a dinner excursion at the George Eastman House. Kevin has class tonight and would otherwise be sleeping before work anyway. So I brought the baby.

I’d like to state that I asked permission first. And that it was given.

It was an interesting experience. People were, for the most part, curious and accepting. There were a few hard core programmer types who seemed unnerved by the site of a small human snuggled up in a sling on his mother. I got several, “Is that a baby in there?” questions. I got a few questions about where I got the sling (hey, at least they knew what it was!). One guy told me his wife has her own home-based business making them. That was pretty cool.

I read Working Mother, Nursing Mother right before I went back to work. It was a really useful read, with some good advice on pumping at work (I’ve also been pumping in a bathroom for the last 2 days…that’s been an experience in an of itself) and how to adjust to working as a new mother.

It also had some really powerful insight on what it’s like to be a working and nursing mum. It talked about how our society separates a mother’s life into two parts — her work life and her home life — and how we’re supposed to not blend them together too much. Seems like it’s mostly for the comfort of the people around us, rather than for our own good.

I can’t separate those two things.

I’m a nursing mother of a 3 1/2-month old pumping milk in breaks between conference sessions. There’s nowhere good for me to do this. The bathroom stall? I don’t think so. I don’t eat in the rest room. Why should my child?

Sitting in a chair in foyer to the ladies bathroom right off the hotel lobby? That’s better at least. I turned my back to everyone and hoped they couldn’t see too much in the mirror hanging right in front of me! It was certainly a better atmosphere than a bathroom stall.

But I was still so aware of how it made other women uncomfortable when they walked in and out. Just like I was aware how it rubbed people the wrong way to bring a sleeping baby to an evening networking/dinner/mingle. At least it pushed a few unexpected buttons, I think, even if it didn’t offend.

What surprised me most were the young women who looked a bit put out or uncomfortable. I wonder how I would have reacted at least year’s conference if I saw someone a couple of years older than me casually wandering around with a baby swaddled up in a sling. Or sitting in a quiet corner breast feeding.

Am I pushing the envelope? Should I have stayed home? I don’t know. I know I absolutely wouldn’t have left him with a sitter (if I had one available) after being apart from him all day. I know that I loved how I could take him everywhere with me while I was pregnant, but now it feels like there are some places he’s not supposed to go.

I also know that I’m taking him to the conference with me tomorrow morning. There are a couple more sessions to attend and it’s my normal day off, so I don’t have anyone to take care of him. And I have permission. 😉 We’ll see how it goes, but at least I won’t have to deal with the blessed pump.

4 thoughts on “Working mummy

  1. I’m the guy who’s wife has the home-based business selling slings. I was hoping that it wasn’t too strange to approach a random stranger and ask about her sling, being a guy, but I figured the worst thing that would happen is you would immediately switch the subject and walk off.

    I know that my wife and I often have discussions after we leave a place about whether or not we did something right or wrong or made other people uncomfortable. Lauren, my wife, loves using a sling because it allows her to have Ashton (our son) close to her whether for comfort, nursing or whatever else. We eventually got to the point where we basically just decided that if people have a problem with it, that’s their problem. You know what is best for your baby and I think you should totally do it in a way that works for you, despite what other people think.

    Anyway, I’m sure she could have put that a lot better than I can. I’m just the silly husband and Dad. I’ll point her over to your blog when I talk to her next.

    Oh, and you should totally bring your baby. Most of the geeks here need a little baby human interaction 🙂

  2. I didn’t see you at the conference, but wouldn’t have been offended either. See you next year, possibly!

  3. There was a documentary on Showtime recently called “Busting Out” that talks quite a bit about various issues surrounding women and their breasts. Breastfeeding was one of the topics.

  4. Silandara-
    I just wanted to say thanks for posting my link in your blog “Working mummy.” I really appreciate the traffic I have gotten from your site! Hope you and your family have a blessed holiday!

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