Thursday, February 07, 2008

The great adventures of Chronicle

As I may or may not have mentioned before, I have to travel for work the first week of , this month. While exciting to some degree, it also comes fraught with a bag of mixed emotions and challenges. Since I’m only going to have bits and pieces of time, this will end up being an entry that covers several days. If anything, I’ll have this as what I hope is an example of my worries being nothing but that-worries

The first stop on the fun train was getting both Son and BabyA packed up for a full week at Grandpa and Grandma’s. My mother, in an uncharacteristic show of charity (or motivated by fear for her grandchildren) volunteered to take them both while I’m gone. Husband’s work can be erratic-the joys of being in a 24/7/365 industry-so there were concerns about how he was going to juggle getting kids to work and handling any emergencies that would come up. I wish that we could say that it doesn’t happen often, and at this property it hasn’t been as frequent as at others, but it still does happen. An employee that doesn’t show up for an overnight shift, the water isn’t working, the boiler is broken. You name it, it has happened.

Anyway, it just wasn’t going to be the most practical solution. Husband loves his kids, no question, but he is a little, er, challenged in the juggling multiple screaming children with widely different needs. He can handle Son for the most part, although the whole being two thing can be a true test. He hasn’t done much in the way of care for BabyA. Partially because she intimidates him a little, and partially because when we have to divide and conquer, the one who is the food source defaults to the consumer.

Since BabyA isn’t even five months yet, I’m in no position to start solids with her, and I have no desire to wean her yet. So, that entailed me freezing almost, get this, two and half gallons of breastmilk for this week. All in uniform, glorified ziplock bags. Despite the rather impressive (at least to me) number, BabyA will probably still need at least a little formula along the way. I started giving her one feeding a day last week, and while she didn’t eat all of it, she didn’t have any adverse reaction, so I think that we’re safe.

My parent live a good 175 miles away from us, so this weekend was a blur of driving, unpacking, last minute instructions, and me almost flipping out in the car as we were leaving. Mom wouldn’t come down to Suburbia, since she’s terrified of driving in the metro, and I don’t think that either she or Husband would survive together for that long. They barely tolerate each other as it is. Once we got back on Sunday night, it was a mad dash to the mall to pick up some last minute things, watch the best part of the Super Bowl (with a beer!), pack, do a last load of laundry or two.

We managed to get out the door and to the airport at a semi-decent hour this morning, and I was at the gate well in advance. I have only missed one flight before, and that was due to mechanical failure-the car that we were driving overheated somewhere before the Eisenhower Tunnel on our way to Denver. Just a s note, if you are ever late to the Denver airport, just re-book the flight. It’s a nightmare.

I also managed to get my pump through security without a whole lot of hassle, which I was very grateful for. I’ve only flown twice since Son was born, and both times there was no need for a pump. I was actively weaning the first time, and the manual pump that I have was fine. The second time, I was very newly pregnant with BabyA, and it wasn’t even an issue. I did get a separate x-ray and swab, but it was handled very well by the TSA. I had been envisioning getting some creep who, not knowing what it was (or knowing darn well), would demand that I show how it worked. Again, my rather creative fear manufacturing at work. Hurdle #1 over-I almost skipped to the gate.

I also got to add to the list of interesting places where I have pumped. Let’s see, there was the bathroom at my CLE course (to their credit, when they had built the bathroom, they put an outlet and shelf in the handicapped stall, but still), the empty conference room where I had a retired judge walk in on me (which took some effort, I had propped a large chair against the door that couldn’t be locked), and a vacant jury deliberation room at the courthouse during jury duty. I can now add the bathroom of the MSP to San Jose flight. So, somewhere over South Dakota, I asked the flight attendants if it would be OK to tie up the bathroom for 10-15 minutes, and they were OK with that. I had been watching to see if there was a high volume of use, and I was pretty sure that I timed it right.

I went and did my thing, even though the plug-in didn’t work (grrr). Thank God the two year old batteries in the battery pack still worked. Due to the noise of the plane, no one could really hear it. If I hadn’t been, um, attached, I don’t think that I would have known that it was on. We did hit some turbulance while I was in there, so my overactive imagination started to worry about getting bounced around unceremoniously in the bathroom, milk everywhere! Didn't happen, but I'm sure if anyone had seen me trying to brace myself while perched on the toilet and pumping would have either laughed or been horrified.

After working so hard to freeze as much as I could, it was painful to pour almost nine ounces down the drain, but there really wasn’t any other option. Of course, when I emerged, there was a line waiting for the bathroom. I’m sure that the guys were wondering what the hell was taking me so long, and what’s with that enormous purse?

In the end , it wasn’t that big of a deal. The other nursing mom in our group elected not to attend the meeting, since she was sure that she couldn’t make it through the entire flight from the mideastern U.S. to the west coast. I have to admit that it irked me more than a little. It is one thing to ask for some accommodations (a break in the schedule, which I got in the mornings but not in the afternoons), etc. But to miss the entire trip? Not so sure. It’s that tightrope that we have to walk; do you want to do anything that makes you appear to be less because you are a woman, or force the powers that be to recognize that their entire group is not made up of middle aged men? I haven’t been able to find a good answer. It’s sort of like trying to deal with the later parts of pregnancy. In order to take care of yourself and your baby, you have to slow down. Your body screams it at you. However, how do you handle that in a workplace that is primarily men, without having to deal with the repercussions of the thoughts that you aren’t “pulling your weight.”? I guess that it bothers me that Colleague said to me that there was no way that she would pump in an airplane bathroom. I guess that I just looked at it as doing what had to be done. It’s not like the milk would be consumed anyway. Pump, dump, and be done.. Its crappy that we have to make those kinds of choices, and I don’t want to be here, but it is what I have to do. My family depends on me for the bulk of our income. There is a good chance that I will be in a position to move up a position or two in the next couple of months. I have to do this, not just for me, but for them too. Oh, and the glass of wine with dinner may help, just a little.

It’s been a interesting few days. Solid, networking, even something close to pleasant. Really. In the end, the event organizer managed to get me a room that is literally 30 yards from the meeting room, so running back to pump during breaks has been easy. Yes, I was worried about how I was going to do this, but so far it hasn’t been more of an issue than it has been at home. I just hope that BabyA decides that I’m still OK instead of a bottle. I've missed our nightly bedtime rendezvous-I miss her, period. I talked to Son this morning, and if I wasn't so sure that I was going to be too tired to do it, I would almost consider landing at home on Thursday night and getting in the car and driving up to the two of them that night. Sanity will prevail of course, but I can't wait to hold them both again.

Well, I’ve just ordered room service, since dinner was far from satisfying. The food was good, but since it’s Ash Wednesday, and I’m Catholic, well, it didn’t go too far. I’m still avoiding meat, but I thought that since I’m near the water, the crab should be OK. Certainly will be fresher than what I can get in the middle of the freaking continent.

OK, not so sure that it was worth $15.95, but very yummy none-the-less. Other things are afoot, and I really need to hash them out, but that should go in a different entry.

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