Sunday, January 16, 2011


Jack is nearing six months old, and I am nearing 3 months back at work. Everyone's been asking about the same topics. So here goes -- some Q&A

How's Jack sleeping?

Fantastically well! I caved and he spends the whole night in bed, every night. I sleep. He sleeps. Greg sleeps. Keeps my milk supply up. I get to sniff his hair and kiss his nose all night long. We're all so much happier for it.

How's Jack napping?

Jack is napping wonderfully -- can you imagine that! Daycare had a great method, no cry it out needed. They were just very consistent. In the beginning, they held him for his entire nap. When he was about 4 months old, they started putting him in the crib asleep. He'd wake up when they put him in, and the nap would be over. When he was about 4.5 months old, they started putting him in wide awake. Now he puts himself to sleep. The room is very dark, with classical music playing loudly. When we duplicate those conditions, he naps at home!

His naps are still short (rarely more than 40 minutes), but he's napping regularly, and that's all that matters.

How's the pumping situation?

Still a pain the... y'know. But it's better than in the beginning. I used to use a colleague's office to pump in. This always made me feel awkward. Now, I take the short hike over to the nursing mother's room available in another building. It adds time, however, the room is private and quiet, and there's a sink right there. Plus there's a table full of mom's magazines -- I try to see the time as my own private break-time.

How much milk do you have to pump?

I pump 1-3 times a day, depending on how long I'm at work. It takes 15 minutes of active pumping, then there's the washing, setup, walk over, etc. Each pump break takes 30-40 minutes from start to finish. I try to get about 14-16 oz in a day, and I send Jack in with 12 oz. (The extra 2-4 oz is my rotating stash). Jack drinks three 4 oz bottles each day. He'd probably take more if I sent in more, but 12 oz satisfies him. He makes up for it by nursing a lot at night -- fine by me.

What's up with the dogs?

Now that Jack can grab at things, the dogs are a little more interested and interactive. Mostly, though, Tori eats diapers and needs to go out at 2am, and Zane barks and wakes Jack up. The dogs are annoying. But we love them, and somewhere, deep down, we still like them, too. We all look forward to when Jack starts moving around and playing with them. I think everybody will benefit then.

What's it like being back at work?

I have good days and bad days. I've started keeping a timer: on when I'm working, off when I'm daydreaming or cruising baby websites. The timer helps me quite a bit. It reminds me to conscientious about my time, and it shows me progress. Have I mentioned that I'm a goal oriented person?

Sadly, my work days go the best when I don't think about Jack. I've been thinking about taking the pictures of him off my desk, but the thought it too sad for me to bear. I'm trying to compartmentalize. I spent 10 years in higher education, learning academic discipline, but everything that I learned about myself -- the right balance of distraction, the time of day that I'm most productive, tricks to keep me focused -- it all went out the window. I have to re-learn literally every aspect of what makes me productive... this depresses me.

How do you balance work/life?

I don't.

How do you feel about that?

Awful. Not a good mother, not a good worker, nothing new. Like most women I know, I don't like doing anything with less than 100% effort. It is exceptionally difficult for me to deal with this compromise.

I used to feel awful all the time, literally all day long. Now, at least one zone is working at a time. Some days I feel like a good mom and some days I feel like a good scientist, though I've yet to feel good at both in a given 24 hour period.

Do you wish you'd waited to have a child?

No, I wish I'd had one sooner. I think having a child when you are getting your PhD is a better time than having one as a postdoc. The earlier in your career, the better, because the earlier in your career, the less people are paying attention to your work output. As a postdoc, my research success is the only thing that matters: all eyes are on my publication record. I'm two years in and it's time to find a faculty job or quit. If I were to find a faculty position now, I'd be starting my tenure clock. I'm convinced that there could not be a worse time, academic-career-wise, for me to have started a family.

So do you have any regrets?

None. It was the right time for us, personally. My decision to have a family has altered my career path -- in which direction, I am not sure. That's all there is to it.

How's the postpartum recovery?

Done, I think! Lost some weight, starting to gain it back. Stretch marks are completely horrendous. So goes.

I need new pants. Nothing fits right anymore. Anyone want to add to my new-pants fund?

Are you exercising?

Uhm, does tossing Jack in the air and helping him bounce up and down count?

One day I'll exercise again.

Is Greg a good dad?

He's absolutely, spectacularly, amazing. I always thought having a child would challenge our marriage, but it has strengthened us, so much.

How do you relieve your stress?

I write on this blog, I cry, and I spend time with my family. If I pump enough milk for Jack and manage to get one item crossed off my to do list per day, I consider the day a success. I name one thing each day that I am grateful for, because, really, everybody's healthy, we're a family, and that's all that matters.

What would you say to Jack, if he ever reads this?

Don't feel bad, don't ever feel bad. You are the best thing that ever happened to me. Parenthood is a beautiful journey that I am only beginning to appreciate.

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