Wednesday, January 26, 2011

on peeping toms and indecent exposures.

i know, i know, i said i wasn't going to talk about breastfeeding anymore.  but i couldn't resist sharing this anecdote.  yesterday, i had to travel to a tiny town in wisconsin to attend the depositions of two clients.  i knew i was going to be in the courthouse for several hours, and decided i should pump ahead of time.  the courthouse was located smack dab in the middle of the town square, so i drove around looking for a remote parking lot where i could get down to business.  i found a deserted "shriner's library" that appeared desolate.  not a soul around.  i whip out my lady parts, hook my pump up and go to town.  i happen to glance to my left... and see an elderly lady peering at my inquisitively. 

now when i say elderly lady, don't conjure up images of a sweet little grandma, the kind who would give you a hug, a warm cookie and a glass of milk and ask "how your day was, dear."  oh no.  picture a wild eyed, wild haired lady, who might take up residence in those abandoned row houses shown in HBO's "the wire."  for the real, yo.  she hops out of battered red pinto-type car, walks as close as she can to the passenger side of my car, and stares in at me.  (yes, this is actually happening). 

and then, out of nowhere, the parking lot of the shriner's library comes alive.  there are elderly folks all over the place, carrying armloads of books and walking toward the door.  i'm trying to dodge the creepy looks from homeless pinto driver by hiding under my coat, but the heat's on full blast, and i'm getting so hot, i'm feeling like i'm going to pass out.  i glare back at the peeper, and she gives me a weird look, but at least backs up a few steps. 

i'm thinking, "is this for real?"  and all i can do is laugh.  of course i would happen to pick the busiest, most happening parking lot in this town to expose my boobs to a homeless lady.  as i'm finishing up, i start to think about something a speaker at a recent continuing legal ed conference said.  he was talking about our ethical obligations as attorneys and how breaking the law means forfeiting your license.  and i wonder, if i got a ticket for indecent exposure on account of this whole incident, how exactly would i explain this to the board of attorney regulation?  because i totally don't think i'd be able to talk about it without cracking a huge smile.

thoughts?   just another day in the life.

state of my union address.

two weeks ago my marriage was in trouble.  you see, the bonds of matrimony were starting to buckle under the pressure of road trips and two very different tastes in television.  after nine weeks of maternity leave, i had become accustomed to a specific and regimented television watching schedule.  there were "it's always sunny" episodes to watch, and "bridalplasty" re-runs to gawk at.  there were real housewives of atlanta and beverly hills marathons to catch.  and there was one very annoyed husband, who really couldn't care less about the aforementioned.

in the me vs. john "what are we watching on tv" debate, i usually win.  especially since the arrival of jack.  because i can totally throw out the "i have to sit on the couch and nurse the baby... so i don't want to watch [insert name of some sports show i don't care about]."  however, marriage is all about compromise, right?  it didn't feel right stealing these little victories, and i began to feel guilty for commandeering the remote.

and speaking of guilt, here's an update on road trips post-baby: they are complicated.  gone are the days of throwing a few changes of clothes into a bag, loading the iPod with some glorious tunage and hopping in the car, corn nuts (john's long distance snack of choice) and coffee on hand for a new adventure.  there are bumbo's and boppy's and blankets and bottles to pack.  there are "oh my god, what if he has a blowout's" and "what about if he's too warm or too cold or too uncomfortable's" to plan for.  this means that john and i are running, on average, approximately 1 -2 hours behind schedule anytime we leave our house for some extended trip.  no matter how organized i think i am, or how much i've tried to accomplish the night before, there is some crisis that arises and sets back our departure time.  this drives the OCD part of me (which is the largest, loudest, most annoying part of me, you see) nuts, to no end. 

and the aforementioned scenario is only compounded when we look down at our hastily printed mapquest directions and realize: shit, there's no edward allen poe lane.  there's no thomas avenue.  we can't take a left onto birchtree drive.  where the hell are we?  cue the soft whimpering of a small baby from the backseat.  should we turn around?  stop at the nearest gas station?  cue the high volume screaming of a baby who is tired of this roadtrip, annoyed by the restraints of his carseat, and about to go quite ballistic on his bewildered parents.  needless to say, this situation (which we've happened to find ourselves in at least a few times since october) is a bit stressful.  and once we arrive home and the memory fades, we plan the next venture.  but even though we're both nodding excitedly, in what seems to be happy anticipation of the next trip, we're both silently screaming, "not again, not again."

and then, approximately two weeks ago, six letters changed our lives forever.

D - V- R.     G-P-S.

that's right.  we, okay i, finally caved and signed up for DVR.  on the very same day, we also purchased a garmin, and life is good.

my shows are all recorded and waiting in their organized recording file.  while john is at the gym, i can snuggle with my baby, catch up on my forays into trashy celebs' "reality," and skip all those pesky commercials. 

commercials, comercials, commercials.  fare thee well, annoying commercials that irritate me so much i'm likely to avoid the product you're advertising out of spite.  seriously, DVR has allowed me to miss out on all 30 second inconveniences, and for that, i am very grateful indeed.  all my maternity leave tv watching left me incredibly annoyed with a few commercials in particular.  you know that vonage commercial where the customers are talking about the benefits of switching to vonage, and the one lady goes, "we talk about traditions."  and the next lady goes, "we talk about the turkey and the big paniiiiiiii."  for weeks, i complained to john about this stupid commercial.  "what the hell is she saying?" my sleep deprived, patience-less mind would wonder.  "is it panini?  fettuchine?"  it got so annoying that when it would come on, john knew to mute the commercial to avoid my diatribe.  but it turns out i wasn't the only one wondering what the heck she was talking about.  you need only to type "the big turkey and the big" into google, and lots of results come up.  if you're wondering what the customer was blabbering about, please feel free to read about the big PERNIL here.

and don't even get me started on that damn hamsterdam kia commercial.   you can get with this or you can get with that or you can get with this or you can get with that.  i don't get how hamsters dressed in jumpsuits with rapper bling around their neck makes you want to buy a kia.  but dear lord, i was about to embark on a "don't you dare buy a kia" campaign to counter it.

but that's all in the past now.  a simple click of the fast forward button, and we're in business.  easy, peeeeezy.  just like our roadtrips.  on the way to des moines (for the great milk surplus of 2011, mind you), baby jack became less than enthused about sitting in his carseat.  we simply asked our dear gps where the nearest restaurants were, and we found a delightful diner hidden away in independence, iowa.  it was lovely.  the gps has brought some of the joy back into traveling, even traveling with a newborn.  and that, dear readers, is no easy feat.

so, in conclusion, if this were the real state of the union address, this would be the part where representatives from both parties stand and applaud because trust me: this is a bipartisan victory.  i had to reach across the aisle, so to speak, and make some compromises with my other half, but i finally gave in.  and there's nothing but sunshine and rainbows and a whole lot of recorded television programs to show for it. 

here's to a great 2011!  yes we can!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

medal of honor.

not to toot my own horn, but i'm giving myself an award.  baby jack is 12 weeks old today.  while this means that our little bambino is growing bigger and smiling wider each day, it also means that i've been breastfeeding for 12 weeks.  back when i was pregnant, breastfeeding seemed like a no-brainer for me.  of course i would breastfeed my babies.  i mean, just ask anyone... breast is best, right?  i never dreamed it would be "work."  i really believed jack would pop out of the womb, instinctively knowing exactly how to latch on and eat like a champ.  i had never even thought about "nipple confusion," "nipple shields," or "supply issues."  puuuuhhhhleeeease. breastfeeding is the natural thing to do, right?

well, mannnnn, are we at six flags?  i swear breastfeeding is the most up and down emotional rollercoaster i've ever been on.  from getting up in the middle of the night to pump (even when jack is sleeping) to keep my supply up, to dealing with clogged milk ducts (sorry, i know it's TMI, but this is a blog post on breastfeeding, so if you kept reading, i assume you were prepared for this), to fighting through baby growth spurts, this three months has been, what i would consider, an epic battle.  definitely much more trying than studying for a bar exam.  the thing about studying for the bar exam is that i knew if i put in the time and effort, i would do well on the exam.  you don't have that same comfort with breastfeeding.  you can try your damndest, you can eat lactation cookies, seek out herbal supplements, drink literally gallons of water, and you might not be able to produce enough milk to feed your
baby.  isn't that crazy?  well, i have to say, i have literally tried pretty much every standard trick out there (some more helpful than others).  there have been many days that i felt like throwing in the towel.  but here, we are, 12 weeks in, and jack is happy, healthy and steadily growing.

this is probably a really boring post to anyone who hasn't gone through this.  i apologize.  i'm not trying to make this blog a chronicle of mommy-hood.  i don't plan to post about jack's bowel movements (but i also never thought i'd be at a christmas party discussing them with others, so i guess never say never...) or my mommy woes on a daily basis.  but i needed to pat myself on the back over this accomplishment because i never thought i would get here. i really didn't.

you know a weird side effect of being a nursing mom?  it's lonely.  while on jack's first road trip, i sat in the guest bedroom at my friend's house, nursing my baby, listening to my friends talking in the living room... and  i  wanted to be out there socializing with them so badly.  on thanksgiving, i had to take 5 breaks from the festivities to
feed jack, and each time while sitting there, i kept thinking "hurry up, little man!  i'm missing stuff."  it's not that i hate feeding him.  it's not that it's painful or uncomfortable.  sometimes i just miss the effortless way of life before... when i could sit around and talk to family and friends, without watching the clock and thinking, "it's about
time to for jack to eat."  i'm a social person, and being confined to a bedroom by myself for 20-40 minutes while little man chows down is sometimes so isolating for me.  (which is why i usually make my mom and sisters join me, regardless of what they want to be doing)

and yet, i love that i'm able to do this for my baby. (see, rollercoaster!)  when i get home from work, and we're sitting together and he's having his dinner and he looks at me so contentedly, i think, wellll, THIS is what matters. it is calming and soothing and relaxing to spend a quiet half hour with my baby at the end of a busy work day.  i appreciate being able to do this more now that i've gone back to work than i otherwise might have.

but damnit if it isn't hard, hard work.  who would have thought that i could turn into a crazed, homicidal maniac if threatened with the idea of wasting even half an ounce of precious liquid gold breast milk??? who would have thought that i would voluntarily choose sleep deprivation in favor of an extra pumping session???  who would have thought that they'd see me cruising down the highway, my breastpump hooked up to the cigarette lighter, filling bottles for my baby???  i've never been a particualy modest person, much to the dismay of my sisters, who have
been subjected to me whipping off articles of clothing in front of them when trying on new duds at the store, but over the past 12 weeks, any semblance of privacy has been discarded.  (i do draw the line at whipping out my lady parts in front of my dad and brothers, which is why i've been holing up in bedrooms, breastfeeding alone.) anyway, this is a public service announcement, if there ever was one.  breastfeeding is great for your baby.  the whole process intrigues and amazes me.  BUT IT IS HARD WORK.  it can make you crazy.  it can make you even more
emotional than you already are post-partum. it can make you feel like a failure for pumping 3 ounces as opposed to 4.  it forces you to rearrange your whole schedule in favor of not having one.  it is the single hardest thing i have ever done in my life.  i. am. not. kidding.  and while i've been known to be a tad dramatic (just ask my husband!), i firmly believe it to be harder than giving birth.  at least i knew there was some end in sight to the 2 hours of pushing.  yes, labor is painful, but for me, there was no accompanying emotional pain or guilt attached.  if a meeting at work runs over, and i have to shorten a pumping session or nix it altogether, i feel like i'm failing my baby.  it's not rational.  i know this.  i know that giving my baby formula would not be the end of the world.  formula is not poison.  but for some reason, i have it in my head that jack is getting breastmilk, and i am making every sacrifice i can to ensure that happens.  it is insane.  i never thought i would be like this.  i also never thought i'd make it to three months... and here we are!

breastfeeding for the past 12 weeks has opened my eyes to new experiences, new feelings and new crises, that's for sure.  but it hasn't all been maddening, though.  some of it has been pretty funny.  example: the great milk surplus of 2011.  last week, i attended a continuing legal education conference in des moines.  john and jack graciously agreed to join me on the voyage, so they got some hotel fun in while mama learned about statutes, caselaw and ethical obligations.  now, my plan was to pump on my 15 minute breaks from the conference.  we were staying at the hotel where the conference was, so i figured it would be pretty easy to run upstairs to our room, do my milk thing, then run back downstairs.  the plan worked brilliantly.  until all of the sudden i looked down, and realized, woooooahhhh, my boobs were kicking it into overdrive.  out of nowhere, the amount i was normally pumping had doubled.  here we were, in a hotel room in des moines, with a few bottles and no freezer or fridge, woefully unprepared for this goddamn milk surplus.  husband's suggestion was to throw out the milk we didn't need.  this earned him some dirty looks.  (hell, i almost got all amber vs. gary, teen mom style on him).  i appointed john to ice patrol and forced him to guard this excess supply for the duration.  we both had a good laugh about how things had changed.  back in february, he made sure to have a bathtub full of beer iced and waiting when i returned to our hotel room after the illinois bar.  fast forward almost a year and here we were, our bathroom overflowing with mom's milk, and him, valiantly guarding and icing the supply.  ohhh, god bless my patient husband. 

i've breastfed in the backseat of our car (while the car was stopped, of course) and pumped on the highway while traveling at speeds in excess of 70 mph.  this journey has certainly taken me to some crazy places.  and my breastfeeding woes provide excellent entertainment for my female colleague, who delights in listening to my diatribes.  i really feel like i should get one of those chips you get in AA.  you know, something signifying that i've made it to 3 months.  maybe an extra lactation cookie with lunch?  haha.anyway, cheers to this insane, ridiculous willpower that is coming from somewhere within (i don't even know where.... and ps, where were you when i needed you during bar exams 1, 2 and 3? particularly 2 and 3???) and a very sincere and heartfelt thank you to the friends and family i have coerced into bedrooms while i nursed my baby, so i would have someone to talk to, to make me feel normal again.  a very special thank you to my sisters, who have probably been scarred for life by seeing my boobs on numerous occasions and hearing me discuss breastfeeding woes. thank you to the moms i have dialed in fits of desperation, asking for advice and help.  i so appreciate all of you... and so does my growing baby boy.

now why did i write this?  because someday, when jack is about 16, and thinks that i'm the most annoying, embarrassing dictator on the planet, and he doesn't want to spend time with or around me, i am going to
remind him of all of this.  (actually, it would probably be better if john reminded him of all of this, so i can seem more selfless and amazing.  remind me to tell john about this asap).  and he will feel bad.  he will go buy me some mother-of-the-year card, and ask me to watch a movie with him instead of his girlfriend.  haha.  i know, i'm
kidding myself.  none of that is going to happen.  i promise i'm not going to hold my breastfeeding over my son's head.  i promise.  even if i don't even get a movie or a nice card out of it, i have the foresight to realize it's all worth it, even still.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

shiny happy baby laughing.

the only thing cuter than this video is watching jack watch himself in this video.

it adds a little happiness to this, the saddest day of the year: the day john convinces me it's time to take down the christmas decorations.  hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!

Monday, January 3, 2011

on hearing things.

well, my maternity leave has come to an end, and it's back to the grind.  my desk is now covered with stacks of briefs and cases and files that will be ruling my life for the foreseeable future, as well as framed photographs of my little peanut, the latter of which, i should mention, are much more fun to look at!  anyway, i have been pleasantly surprised at my recent transition back to the practice of law.  leaving jack for my first day back was agonizing, and i cried three times before 8 a.m. each day got easier, however, and it has been so fun to come home to a happy baby who spends his days laughing and playing with his adoring daddy.  i can't ask for anything more.  i think that once we adjust to this new schedule, our routine will be just about perfect.

but anyway, going back to work means that my breastpump has become my new best friend.  thanks to a hands-free pumping bra, i've pumped while on the phone with clients, while researching caselaw for a brief i'm writing, and while weeding through the day's emails.  it's been quite comical, really.  and while my trusty breastpump offers comic relief in the face of work stress, provides breakfast, lunch, dinner and the snacks in between for baby jack, i have discovered that my breastpump does something else: it speaks to me.

no, but for real, it does.  i know this is going to sound crazy to you, especially if you haven't hooked your knockers up to an electric double pump, but that contraption says stuff to me.  really.  at first, it simply hurled insults like "wacko."  this made perfect sense to me since my original relationship with the breastpump was a rocky one, and the whole mess seriously made me feel like i was going crazy.  recently, it has expanded its vocabulary.  it also says, "relax," (thanks, buddy!  i'm trying to!) and "sleep now," among other phrases.  

now, i can admit to being an odd duck about things.  i also admit to being a sleep-deprived new mom, so i wondered if i was slowly going insane.  i actually googled "talking breastpump," wondering if others had experienced this same phenomenon.  lo and behold; i was not alone!  this result assured me that i wasn't losing  it.  

anyway, here's to new beginning with new "breast" friends!  happy 2011!