The Great Boobie Revolt of ’11

Russ is on strike. Nursing strike, that is.

While there were rumblings of a revolution over the past days and weeks, yesterday morning was the Fort Sumter of the boob, so to speak. Yesterday was the breakdown, the first shots, the undoing. And while Russ seemed just fine to bounce around in his exersaucer, giggling and doing his newest thing – snorting rhythmically while scrunching his nose – I was not nearly as laissez-faire about the nursing strike. Let’s just say I’m a little attached.

When you’re pregnant and the topic of nursing comes up, a good latch and satisfied baby can seem almost as elusive as the idea of giving birth sans epidural – people often shudder and say “Well, if you can get through the first two weeks of nursing, you can get through ANYTHING.” You go into it somewhat unsure of what to expect. My friend Jessica just had her second baby in the middle of January, and last time I visited her and met her son Jackson, we sat and nursed our babies together while chatting. I asked her how it was going this time around – since her older son had gone into full-on nursing strike at just a few months old, much to her chagrin – and she just shrugged nonchalantly and said “Oh, it’s great…no big deal this time around.” There’s a confidence that I think probably builds up after a baby or two. You know what to do. You’ve got this. But when you’re still preggers with baby #1, you just have to know that everyone and their aunt’s-sister’s-friend’s-daughter is going to have a nursing (and labor) horror story for you. And they’re going to tell you that it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do.

But for me, it just wasn’t. I’m not trying to brag – I know just how lucky I truly am, believe me! I anticipated having basically the worst time ever with nursing, simply because it was what I had been told to expect by so many women I know. But 20 minutes after Russ was born, I got him to latch on (with a little help from Jonathan, who attended the hospital breastfeeding class with me and actually asked questions!! I so love him…) and nurse on both sides, drama-free. Less than an hour later, he nursed again. And so began the process of constant adjustment called “nursing on demand.” It’s how just about every lactation consultant would tell you to start the nursing process with your newborn – no schedules, no timing, just nursing your baby when they seem to want to nurse. It’s work, no doubt – but you’ve just given birth and you’re going to be laid up for at least a few days (if not longer) anyway, so it all works out. At least, for me it did.

In a situation with a really bad birth (like an emergency c-section) or where your baby is in the NICU, things are almost never so cut-and-dry. But luckily for me, I just never had a hard time with nursing. I came to realization that I might do this for longer than the initial three or four months that I’d planned – and those months went by so fast that it was almost scary. Here I am now, over seven months into it, and things have gotten far trickier than anyone ever told me they would at this relatively late stage of the game.

There’s something very frustrating and impossible about trying to nurse a wide-awake older infant, who isn’t nearly as small or relaxed as a newborn, who has an entire world of colors and noises to pay more attention to, and who is constipated from his little tummy still learning how to process the solids that have only been a part of his diet for a month or two. It’s really, really difficult sometimes. Especially when the engorgement that you thought you were mostly done with after that baby’s first two weeks of life slowly starts to creep back in and you’re suddenly carrying two big rocks around in your bra. Especially when – after you finally get your child to latch on – the phone rings. The challenges of nursing don’t get smaller as time goes by, they just evolve. Some people find the earlier stage of nursing most difficult, for any number of reasons (lack of sleep, discomfort after giving birth, baby health problems like acid reflux or gas, etc.). But for some lucky folks like myself, the early stage is easy enough – we get a pass on the really taxing part until later on. It’s not avoiding the difficulty, it’s just delaying it for a little while.

So, I wondered yesterday after announcing stubbornly that “He’s got to nurse! He won’t get enough fluids!” (he almost refuses bottles, and he has absolutely no idea what to do with his sippy cup – other than throw it)” how I was going to get through this rough patch of road. Then Jonathan – ever the even-keeled problem solver – brought up an interesting point. Russ always nurses with the fervor of a famished prisoner when I have to take him in the nursing room at our church. I think my church is AMAZING, by the way, for hundreds of reasons – not the least of which is the fact that some incredible folks thought to put a nursing room in the childcare area of the church. It is a fabulous, tee-tiny little closet of a room, cozy as heck, warm, quiet and just dim enough. It has been my savior on a number of occasions, and – bad as this may sound – sometimes I take Russ in there to nurse, even if I know he could reasonably wait until we got home from church, because I know he’ll nurse really well in that room. So, Jonathan suggested – why not try to recreate some of those things. Change the nursing environment at our house a bit?

This is why I married the man, folks. Well, this and he’s good looking and tall and really great for moving furniture and heavy stuff and he’s an AWESOME writer and he’s kind of like the human personification of Eric from “The Little Mermaid” and…yeah. But this is another reason – he’s a problem solver and he gets me to chill out when I’m frustrated and/or freaking out about something. He’s fabulous, dahlings.

So we took Russ upstairs, got the Boppy all set up, turned off the TV downstairs and even the dishwasher (so that there were absolutely no distractions), and tried to get him to nurse again. This time, it was a bit more successful. He didn’t nurse for that long of a time on either side, but I chalked that up more to him being older and not needing as much food as a newborn. Kind of funny how just tuning back into the process the way that we did when Russ was just days old helped to bring us all back to center.

And I know a lot of folks would say “Why go through all the trouble? Just give that kid a bottle!” But it’s simply not that simple for us. Our priority and our goal as a family was to get Russ to his first birthday. We’d love to just switch him directly from breastmilk to cow’s milk and never buy the first container of formula. And this is not to say that formula is bad!! It’s just that this is the goal we personally set for ourselves, and we’re really trying to get there in as much as we can. We can’t control everything. But the things we can try and fix, we’re going to.

So we’re in Day 2 of The Great Boobie Revolt of ’11, and we’re finding our way through. It’s a bit of a struggle at times, but we’ll just do the thing that we’ll be doing for the next several decades of raising children and watching them grow into their own people. We’ll “back up and regroup,” as my mom says – and we’ll get where we want to be.

Cheerleaders and Pregnancy Tests

Let me start by saying a few things.

  1. I was never a cheerleader. Actually, the thought never crossed my mind, since me being a cheerleader in my teen years was actually statistically less likely than me meeting and marrying the future King of England (though, I do hear he prefers brunettes).
  2. The following post has absolutely nothing to do with the shows “16 and Pregnant” or “Teen Mom” or “Pregnant and Running for President” or “Crack Whore Maternity Ward” or “Pregnant and Skydiving Over Open Water” or “One Born Every Minute in Cellblock 12” or any of those. Except some of those were made up…we all know nobody pregnant would ever get a presidential nomination.

Forget the price of gas. Yeah, yeah, I heard it jumped $3 per barrel over night, but seriously what the CRAP is up with pregnancy tests these days? Thanks, Walgreens, for putting that extra pee stick in the digital pack so that I’m only paying a whopping $6.50 PER STICK. Fan-freakin-tastic.

I guess I’m outting myself as a “careless” type, but as I always say, it’s my blog and I’ll embarrass myself if I want. Lately, Jonathan and I have been feeling a little paranoid about whether I might be pregnant again. I’ve been feeling kind of “blah” lately, and in the last day or two, I’ve been a bit bloated. And yes – in case you were racing to the comments section to remind me of this fact – I do realize that my lone progeny is currently only seven months and six days old. But thanks. 😉

Not that it would be the end of the world if I got pregnant. Oh, you can bet your “sweet boopie” (I don’t remember who I heard that from, but I remember filing it in my Folder O’ Awesome) that I’d fling myself to the ground, face-palm myself a good nine or ten times, and then cry for 25-30 minutes as the realization that my son’s time as the only baby would end at the ripe age of 15 months. You had better believe there would be a good 30 minutes’ worth of weeping and gnashing of teeth.

But then I’d get over it, and within an hour, I’d be glowing and joyful and thrilled and baby talking to Russ about how he was getting a new brother, or a sister who we’d dress up in eye black and oversized football jerseys and teach plays before she hit age three. You know…whatever works.

So after lunch today, Jonathan finally just told me to go get a test and let’s figure out if I was just hormonally chaotic or truly hormonally knocked up. And I got scared, because I knew that meant that I’d have my answer, and I was much happier living in ignorant bliss. But I followed orders and got the tests.

Now, a brief aside: I like digital tests. You know, the ones that say “Pregnant” or “Not Pregnant.” Or, as my oh-so-eloquent sister-in-law (who was pregnant while still a teenager) put it “They should make a whole line of special tests for teens that say “Yay!” or “Oh S***!” That really is kind of an interesting (and hilariously tacky) idea, isn’t it? Just saying. But I don’t have time to sit there and analyze one dark line and another, really faint line that tells me nothing except to go buy more tests and feel bad about my faint line.

“What, my pee isn’t good enough? Why can’t I be like the dark line? Geez, what’s wrong with you?” (slaps self upside head, stomps off to go buy more tests)

Suffice it to say, I’m not a two-line-test kinda girl. Immediate gratification. Bring it.

Oh, wait…I guess I should tell you all what the pregnancy test result was, right? Yeah, it was negative. I’m not preggers. And thank GOD for that, because I am so not ready for it right now. You know how people say “God won’t give you more than you can handle?” Well, I envision The Dude Upstairs was probably sitting there, chuckling and shaking his head, and going “HECK no.” Because I’m good with just Russ, for now. I want four kids, but I don’t want four UNDER age four – I’d prefer them to be spread out a bit more than that.

I think as time goes by, I’ll gradually become more comfortable with the reality of our family’s situation – which is that, by virtue of me a) not being able to take synthetic hormones (i.e. birth control pills/rings/patches) AND b) having a hellaciously tilted uterus (thus, no IUDs either)…well, we might just have several lovely little surprises running around our house before it’s all over. I’m not saying I’m going to be that mom that happily announces to her child’s high school friends that “Janie was an accident! Bahahahahahaha!” But what I’m saying is the Wilhoits have to be like MacGyver – ready for anything. Even if that means carrying a nail file, a drinking straw, and a bottle of hand sanitizer with us at all times – just in case we need an impromptu signal flare.

In other news, my son is definitely straight. Or at the very least, “straight curious.” Earlier today, after being a pretty cranky little cuss for several hours while I was cleaning house and not paying enough attention to him, I needed to get him focused on something other than me so that I could take the trash out without him having a nervous breakdown. Now, don’t get me wrong – I’d love nothing more than to sit and cuddle him all day long. But that wouldn’t do much to make me feel productive. So in order to keep him appeased, I searched for something engaging and fun for him to watch. Hmm…ESPN…”Cheerleading National Finals?” Hmm…we’ll try it.

Now let me just say, cheerleaders have really evolved over the past ten years or so, and I’m HAPPY about the change! Granted, I’m dating myself a bit to admit that it’s been ten years since I was in high school, but growing up painfully white AND Southern, it’s easy to get a fairly concrete notion of what a cheerleader looks like. Not these kids. I thought Coastal Carolina had finally entered the 21st century when we had male cheerleaders, but boy was I thinking small scale. In ten minutes of sitting next to my equally slack-jawed infant son (though I gather, not for the same exact reasons) and watching these kids gyrate to music that can only be described as “Tourette’s-Techno,” I saw some pretty unexpected characters. I saw guys, girls, from young teen to what looked like early 20s (or it could’ve just been a bad spray tan, who knows). I saw skinny girls, muscular girls, skeletal girls, and even two or three girls with full-on beer guts. Beer guts, I tell you! On a national, televised competition! Where every single team was the “Fill-In-The-Blank All Stars” (I don’t think they understand the concept of an “All Star,” though)! I saw white girls, black girls, Latina girls, Asian girls, and even a GOTH kid! A GOTH cheerleader, doing double-back-hand-spring-flip-combo thingys, y’all. I thought I had died and gone to Heaven.

And so did Russ. But not for the same reasons. He was standing straight up in his exersaucer, squealing like a little frat-piggy and giggling at the pretty girls. And this comes just days after the “incident with the flower,” so there ya go. I mean, I will love all my kids regardless of if they’re wildly successful doctors or ditch-diggers, whether they’re straight or gay or asexual, whether they are preachers or converts to Buddhism, etc. – you get the point. So this is not to project some expectation onto him at this young age, but let’s just say it like it is. The kid likes girls. Probably a little too much, if you ask me.

But for now, at least I can focus on him. I have awhile before I have to think about baby #2 happening. An interesting day indeed.

Creature Comforts

Sometimes I find myself considering my life as a stay-at-home-mom (and contract blogger – yippee!), and I just feel reeeeeeally bad. There are folks on both side of the “Working Moms vs. SAHMs” war (which I personally just don’t understand debating – can’t we just continue picking on each other about the size of our boobs, butts, or wallets without pulling how we choose to raise our kids into it, ladies?). So don’t worry, I can think of at least five people off the top of my head who would look straight down their noses at my decision to leave work and stay home with Russ. I am actually completely fine with them thinking I’m an idiot, as there are literally hundreds more folks whom I’ve encountered at one point or another in my life that would concur that I am, in fact, an idiot. For whatever reason – politics, my sense of humor, my affinity for really awkward moments, my inability to match my belt to my purse to my shoes.

But even in my “cushy,” “luxurious” life as a Target-underwear-loving, baby-food-splattered, breastfeeding, gym-going, frizzy haired SAHM…well, I like to be pampered every once in awhile. I like things that are comforting. I’m sure that not all moms have this experience, but one of the biggest changes for me when Russ was born was not being comforted as much. Suddenly you go to visit your parents and they sort of half-hug you in a Bond-esque swipe to grab the cooing baby and start babbling grandparent-talk to him. And that’s totally okay!! Just as I’m cool with some folks thinking I’m an idiot for _____ reason, I’m also pretty secure in the fact that Russ has usurped my position as the baby. I’m the mommy now, Russ is the baby, and I happily play second fiddle to that. In fact, if my mom or Jonathan’s dad or whoever else (there’s only two other grandparents after them, so please do be imaginative) were more interested in us than they were in Russ, I’d be a bit concerned or even offended.

But I’ve noticed lately what simple things provide me comfort, especially on those days when something feels off or I just find myself uneasy in the knowledge that ______ (insert “wrong” thing – Russ is growing up too fast or my thighs feel like they’re retaining 5 lbs. of water or the crap in Libya is scary or gas is getting too expensive or…you see how this could fill up a low-capacity stress-bucket like myself, correct?)

Here are some of those things.

  1. One simple formula: Hard interval run + hot shower + wet hair + cold margarita (rocks, salt, no umbrellas, with Sauza, Patron, or Cuervo Gold…surprise me).
  2. Fridays
  3. Thursdays – if Jonathan is off on Friday, that is.
  4. Prell Shampoo – and, more (and creepily) specifically, the scent of my dad’s hairbrush. At least I am not alone on this one – my younger brother totally agrees with me.
  5. Dove Soap
  6. Weather Channel music (yes, that horrendously 1994-ish stuff), especially when it’s raining outside (or better yet, hurricaning…ya know, if “hurricaning” can be temporarily considered a word).
  7. When I’m driving and “The Way It Is,” by Bruce Hornsby and The Range comes on the radio. Good grief, how shameful and humiliating is that?! Go, quickly, and tell a friend that you know some sad person who actually likes that song. Because I freakin’ LOVE it.
  8. Starbucks, seasonally appropriate – if it’s below 68 degrees, a grande Pumpkin Spice Latte; above 68 degrees, an iced two-pump white chocolate latte).
  9. Someone playing with my hair. If I get to Heaven, I am convinced that it will be like that.
  10. Lying in bed at night, watching “Family Guy” with Jonathan.
  11. Mornings. I like light.
  12. Big bowls of cereal with really, really cold milk.
  13. The end of my parents’ dock – whether it’s cold or sunny or hot or dreary, whether it’s snowing or raining, and especially when it’s gusting to 65 mph and everyone is yelling for me to come in.
  14. Looking through my high school yearbook and – like exiting the theater after a horrific and terrifying movie – closing the book to realize that I don’t ever have to do that again.
  15. Holding my son as close to me as possible.
  16. And hearing him laugh.

More to come…

Seven months and the "incident with the flower"

Yesterday was Russ’s seven-month birthday, which I can hardly believe. But he’s really starting to turn into my little boy and is hurdling towards toddlerhood at warp speed. I’m continuously learning to let go, bit by bit. My old college friend, Sloan, came into town the other day and we met up for coffee, where he met Russ for the first time. Sloan, for all his sophistication and worldliness, is wonderful with kids and Russ took right to him. We discussed a bit of how motherhood has changed me, how the whole experience has been, and this is what I told him.

“It has been wonderful, I wouldn’t change a thing about it, but let’s just say…it’s exposed a kink in the wiring.”

What I mean by that is this: nothing fits in my pretty, painted little picture of how the world should be anymore. Everything I read about or see, my mind immediately skips to analyzing (and over-analyzing) how it affects Russ. Weather patterns? Politics? Social issues? Food shortages? Natural disasters? Thought processes immediately jump to whether this issue – whatever it is – will affect my little boy. And because I have these tendencies to dwell on the negative, to worry excessively, to look at life as this big elephant on my plate that I have to devour all in one set of mental meanderings…it can get a little crazy.

This is the same reason I’m not on synthetic hormonal birth control – as I’ve said before, it doesn’t “expose a kink in the wiring,” it just cuts the whole freakin’ wire. Things go all short-circuity and insane when I’m on that stuff. And, as mentioned here, no other options really exist. So…que sera, sera.

But despite all the craziness in me that (though folks close to me already saw it) was somewhat exposed and perhaps even a bit magnified when Russ was born – I am a happy woman and a joyful mom. It’s just that, for some folks, happiness comes with a little too much introspection and self-examination and you can start to become a bit unhinged by the whole crazy life change. But I’m finding my footing – seven months in.

I just wish I could be a bit more “solid.” I have this friend who I’ve known for more than half of my life. We met at bible camp, back when we were both kids. Her name is Cindy. Cindy is one of those women that is just so…impossible to shake. She’s got it together. She has a strength about her that I admire so much. Cindy and her husband were trying to start a family around the time that I had Russ, and she came to visit me in the hospital the day after he was born. It was at that moment, when she walked through the door, that I knew…Cindy had a secret. An aside: I joke sometimes that I have a built-in EPT test – I can sense when someone I know is pregnant or is going to become pregnant soon. This isn’t to say that I have a 100% success rate – but I’d say it’s about 85% or better. Not too shabby! The only person that this sense doesn’t apply to is…uh, me. But that’s another blog for another day (and possibly, an episode of “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant”).

Anyhow, Cindy’s “secret” (I think she said she’d only known for a day or two when she came to visit me that time) was that she was pregnant (yay!) and – as she happily told me the news several weeks later when she was ready to share it – she was expecting TWINS! Now even I didn’t see that coming! I’m happy to announce that her babies – a boy and a girl – were born Wednesday night, and they are all doing wonderfully. The babies were a bit early, but they are strong little angels and will be just fine. But over the past few days, I have absolutely marveled at how rock-solid my friend is. Here she is, a new mother – of TWO, no less – and she seems so unwaveringly calm. I wish I could be more like her. I can’t think of someone more capable of raising twins and doing a bang-up job as a mom. I will definitely be taking notes from her as we both get further into this crazy world called parenthood.

But as we get further away from Russ’s actual birthday and closer to his first birthday, I’m starting to see that parenthood – if nothing else – appeals to an irreverent sense of humor. Like yesterday at the gym daycare.

Our gym is pretty much dead on Fridays, which makes it a favorite day of mine to go. The daycare was somewhat empty because of this, but our favorite nursery worker was there with her two sons and just one or two other children whose parents were fitting in a quick workout. Russ was only in there for 25 minutes or so while I did a super fast interval run. But when I came to get him, the nursery worker ran over to me, laughing her butt off.

“So, your son is hilarious,” she said.
“Why, what happened?” I asked.
“Well, see that little girl over there? The one with the flower on her butt?” she said, pointing to a sweet little girl who looked to be just a few months older than Russ and was able to walk a little bit. She might’ve been just an inch or so taller than Russ, but certainly looked a few months older over all.
“Yeah, aww…she’s cute!” I said.
“Well, apparently Russ agrees with you,” she laughed. “He reached out when she walked by and GRABBED the flower!”

Oh. My. BAHAHAHAHAHA. My son is already chasing the girls! Lord, what is in store for me? Yikes!

She continued on to tell me that after the initial “pinch,” the little girl reached around and grabbed the Mickey Mouse that was on the butt of Russ’s pants (honestly, what is the deal with butt appliques on baby clothes now? Is it a bullseye? A target?)! They then proceeded to sit by each other, where the little girl PUT HER ARM AROUND Russ and essentially claimed him as her own. Absolutely hilarious. Even as we were leaving, this little girl was peering around the edge of the baby gate that blocks off the exit door from the nursery play area, batting her little eyelashes and giggling as Russ gave her his best “Blue Steel” face.

My son, the charmer. Someone’s getting locked in the bonus room as soon as he hits age 14…

Musings on the Workplace

So recently, I got a new gig as a PAID blogger. And no, I won’t go telling you what I make or who I work for or any of that stuff, because none of those things matter. It’s an opportunity that just sort of fell in my lap (through the wonders of Facebook, no less), and I’m so happy to have it. When we decided that the best thing for our family was for me to leave work and stay home with our kids, I had always hoped that maybe something like this would pop up. I didn’t expect to bring home massive amounts of bacon blogging from home a couple times a week – it was more about staying engaged in something outside the home, something that didn’t have to do with babies and pregnancy and all that. So this new opportunity is wonderful for me and is exactly the kind of thing I was looking for.

My first assignment, as luck would have it, was to compose a blog article of sorts that addressed the topic of breastfeeding and the workplace. Now here was a putt that even I could sink – a topic that really resonated with me, maybe because it was at the forefront of my mind and my life just recently.

Montana State University researchers recently conducted a study that found that both men and women admitted to perceiving breastfeeding mothers as dumber and less competent. These results would probably be surprising to a lot of people (as even one of the researchers noted), since breastfeeding is repeatedly shown to have a variety of health benefits for both mom and baby and uh…well, hell, it’s also free. I mean, not to hate on formula, but that stuff is expensive. Free vs. expensive…oh geez, I can’t decide. Hmm. I should add that the subjects in the study were all college students – who are known for being some of the most tolerant folks out there, but also for being some of the stupidest (and I can say that, because I was one of ’em). So there ya have it.

I came across this study while researching my article, and though I felt like the subjects interviewed for the study were so far beyond brain dead that they didn’t even deserve to be mentioned in my article, I somehow still found myself angered, maybe even hurt by the findings of this study. What really pissed me off was that in the study, a jogger was shown as being perceived as most intelligent and capable, while the breastfeeding mom was perceived as least intelligent. Um…I’m a RUNNER and I BREASTFEED. I wonder how many peoples’ pathetically limited world views actually slice the pie this way. It frightens me. But it sure as hell won’t stop me from nursing every one of my children.

It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago, but it has been over seven months since my last day at my former workplace. And despite the insinuation by some former cohorts that I might feel different about my decision to leave one day (when pregnancy hormones had flushed out of my system and I was once again “competent to stand trial,” so to speak), I do not regret it. Not one iota of hesitation remains now, months after the last little bit of “gestational irrationality” left my body. In fact, I feel assured more than ever that I made the right decision. But let me tell you…it wasn’t an easy choice.

And you know, it wasn’t like I attended four years of college with the plan to be a stay-at-home mom. But to be honest, I didn’t attend four years of college – English and Politics courses, mostly – to work in marketing. So you know how that goes…”the best laid plans.” I’ve always been flexible to what “the Dude Upstairs” was leading me toward, and this was just another case of trusting that God was going to take care of it.

I’m not an inherent people-pleaser, but I think I speak for most of us when I say that life is certainly easier when you’re liked and you feel as if you make other people satisfied in whatever avenue that you might touch their lives. So when I quietly began letting people know that I was, in fact, expecting a baby – well, let’s just say I knew to brace myself for the reactions of the “select few” (henceforth abbreviated simply as “the SF”). Now I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of women are born equipped with a uterus, and a majority of those, a fully functioning one at that – so I always sort of felt like “WOW…a pregnant chick. That’s so original, right? Get over it.” But it was more an issue with me than my pregnancy. Me being perceived as vulnerable in some way just made the couple of work bullies feel like they could push me around further, even if that wasn’t the case.

Some folks sure acted like it was a big fuzzy deal. The minute the SF were let in on my news, I began to sense this air of expectation flapping in the breeze of my office fan. Offhand (and unsolicited) comments about how breastfeeding was “almost impossible if you’re going to come back to work,” (Um, really? Because there are laws in place that make it a much easier prospect, guys). Inappropriately direct, public probing as to whether I planned to return to work or stay home (Hmm…Oh, wait, I’m entirely sure that is none of your stinkin’ business). Being told that I would just “have to” use my breastpump in the bathroom if I returned (Right, cause there aren’t any company policies, state laws, or federal amendments to national healthcare legislation that ALL say otherwise…right, sure, whatever you say…). These were all topics that anyone with a high school education and half a raising would know weren’t appropriate to ask, bring up, or insinuate themselves into – and especially not during department meetings full of people who didn’t need to or want to hear about the status of my reproductive exploits. It just got so uncomfortable and so hostile – especially towards the end – that my decision was made for me. The vessel sank while still in the shipyard, so to speak. At least I could clean up all the poop at home with a couple of wipes…all the poop at my old job? It was going to take something a little more aggressive. And I was tired.

It was difficult at first. I spent the majority of my first day of my unexpectedly early maternity leave sitting on the couch and crying. I’m not sure if this is 100% to blame on all the crap that had gone on at work, or if it was because my pelvis felt like a watermelon was jumping up and down in it. I felt like I’d let myself down. I felt like I’d let them win – the overgrown “Mean Girls” of the corporate world (and really, there were only two of them). Where was my intestinal fortitude? Where was the ball-busting, take-no-prisoners girl that I had once been? Where was the sharp tongue that would have usually responded with a snide retort when I was told that my pregnancy (and subsequently, any plan I had to nurse my baby after I returned to work) was some inconvenience to a few losers in my midst? Was I really just going to take an early maternity leave and let a few bad apples in an otherwise nice and competitively paying barrel chase me out? You know what? Yeah. I was. Because God saw fit to stick me in a place where I was part of a family unit that could get by on one income. It wasn’t going to be cushy, but we were okay with that.

Within just a day or two, I was over feeling bad about the whole thing. I think the part of it that probably sucked the most and still sucks is that these two jerks that sort of colored the whole page on the situation really just took over that memory of the place where I spent several years of my working life. There were other, great, nice, warm, fantastic people that I was so blessed to work with. These people all got together and threw the most amazing, unexpected, generous baby shower for me – they were happy, encouraging people who knew that I was struggling with the decision about returning to work, and they didn’t rush me or make cutting remarks. They didn’t put me on the spot. They didn’t say one thing and then do another. And though the gifts were all wonderful and all helpful, they realized that the greatest gift that they could give me was to simply be a friend. Not that coworkers always are, but I had a lot of people that were wonderful friends on top of being coworkers (more than I can count, honestly). I don’t want to let the two jerks screw the whole pooch.

A workplace is nothing more than another microcosm of high school politics. There’s a reason that high school was so crappy – to prepare us for the insanity of the real world. I used to tell myself, when high school hit its lowest of lows, that “one day I’ll be in the real world and it won’t be like this.” I wish the 27 year old me could go back and write the 16 year old me a big, fat reality check. Because the workplace can be just like high school, and so can the bleachers at your kid’s soccer game, the mom’s group at the local playground, or the Bingo room at the nearby nursing home. And there will never not be someone there to tell you how stupid you are. It’s when you learn to ignore it all and focus on what’s important that you truly grow.

Finally a moment to ramble

HA…let’s just be honest here – if you know me at all, you know I always have a moment to ramble. It’s okay, I know you were thinking it.

We’re back in Greenville after an interesting couple of weeks. Jonathan was traveling for two weeks for his job as an information systems auditor. Sounds like a glamorous and exciting world, doesn’t it? I absolutely abhor travel weeks, but we get through it alright. It’s much easier now that the weather is starting to pretty up a bit. At the very least, it helps me keep my teetering sanity to just put on a little mascara, do my hair, put on actual clothes (With zippers! And buttons!), get Russ ready to go, and head downtown for a little stroll. We’ll stop at Falls Park, go to O-Cha for a bubble tea and then walk around for bit, or head down into Cleveland Park. It’s tolerable at least. The nights are a little harder, since I just hate sleeping alone (for the reasons mentioned in the previous post about evil garden gnomes and sleep training…scroll down for more). But anyhow, we got through that first week when he was at an audit in Houston, then he was home for about 32 hours, then it was back out for a week of training. When he left, Russ and I packed up (the dog came along with us) and drove down to my parents’ house in Conway, South Carolina.

Conway is a funny town. If you think you’ve never heard of it, but it sounds familiar, you’re probably remembering it from those creepy Investigation Discovery commercials about an episode of “Buried Secrets, Stolen Voices” that’s set there. It regards a murder that took place when I was seven years old. It was kind of like the entire town went nuts, and so all those true crime shows love to come interview people there. Something about Conway’s picturesque downtown, the syrupy accents that drizzle out of the mouths of the interview subjects, and the generally unassuming nature of it all is like flypaper to those television producers. But anyhow, that’s the town I was born in. Greenville is very much my “hometown” now, but Conway is technically the place where I was born and raised, and believe me when I say that there’s a whole host of conflicting feelings, sentiments, and ideas that I will always associate with it. Which I think is totally normal and okay, and I think a lot of us are like that. It keeps things interesting.

So we were there for a couple of days before heading to my parents’ lake house, an hour and a half away, on Thursday. I wondered a little how Russ would do sleeping both in Conway and at the lake, what with his sleep training stuff going on right in the middle of it all. But he did really well and actually slept all the way through the night every single night that we were there. I literally did not have to get up with him once from at 9:30 pm each night until at least 4:30 or 5 am. To me, that’s “sleeping through the night.” The first night, it sort of threw me for a loop. You know, you wake up at 5 am, boobs swollen to the point that it feels like you’ve stuffed your bra with apples, and start frantically looking around to figure out why the baby hasn’t made a peep. Traditional stuff that we all experience, I guess! By the time that Jonathan met up with us at the lake on Saturday after his last training session, I was so relieved to just have him with us again. I really missed my best friend.

In May, it looks like he’ll get sent out again for another audit. This one will be at least two weeks, if not three. I’m not too excited about three weeks without him, but I guess it’s the price we pay for his promotion and raise this year. There’s so such thing as free lunch, or at least that’s what my high school economics teacher wrote in my senior yearbook that I was thumbing through the other day at my parents’ house. She was definitely right on the money.

So now we’re back and so happy for it. I’m catching up on laundry and catching up on all my pregnant friends. Did I mention that I must know the world’s most fertile people, because WOOOWEEE…every girl I know seems to be pregnant! And here’s the thing about that. This time last year, I was the pregnant girl…and it’s making me wistful and sentimental and a wee bit jealous. That’s right. I think I have baby fever. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? Why am I the most insane person on Earth that I have baby fever with a not-quite-seven-month-old in the house. Don’t worry, we’re not going to forgo that whole “waiting til’ he’s three” thing on baby #2, though. I really want to enjoy this fleeting time with Russ just as my only baby – even if that means dealing with a little baby fever for awhile. There will be plenty of time for more babies in the future! Regardless, I am so stinkin’ excited for all my friends who are becoming moms (for the first, second, or even third time in some cases). I just love this time in our lives. It’s so ridiculously special…there is absolutely nothing like it. It’s just great, what else can you say?

So that’s that for now. I’ve got a new project as a paid contract blogger, and that will start up at some point in the immediate future. More on that later…