Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Holding Pattern

This is the month I typically make my new years' resolutions, but this is the year I'm not feeling it.

Who the hell makes new years resolutions in May, do you ask? Well, it's not really a new year for me on January 1; it's an arbitrary "4.5 months till my birthday" mark, so why the hell make resolutions then?  It's not even a round number.Yes, I've been derided as quirky and self-centered ever since I changed my new year timetable back in the 90s, but so be it.

The plan for my move out here originally was that CoffeeMan was going to apply aggressively for a transfer back to the East Coast. Compared to here, the weather sucks, the produce is expensive, and people are left-wing nutjobs.  But if you've ever taken an infant on a turbulent, 6-hour redeye across the country to see his grandparents/aunt's wedding,  you'd move your ass back to where your family lives too.  In other words, we thought we'd be here only a few months.  Most of my stuff is in storage, and I left my job without a strategy for re-entering the workforce, assuming I'd just explain my time out as "maternity leave."

I was going to take the chance offered to me, rarely offered to a woman in her early 30s, to hit the reset button, figure out what my next steps were going to be.  And in my spare time, flesh out some of the story outlines I had made, see if I can get them published.  The thing is, I seem to have no motivation or energy to do so.  And worse, I keep trying to figure out what I do want to do when I go back to work, and WRITE is the only thing that comes to mind.  Which is (a) a long shot; (b) pays crap unless you are one of those rare ones who makes it big; and (c) requires energy and motivation, two commodities that are severely lacking in me.

We moved me, the cats, and what little else fits in my Civic out here and arrived a few days before Halloween.  Meaning, I've been out here 6 months with no end in sight, but I'm unwilling to invest too deeply in a life I'm likely to just pack up and leave behind in a relatively short time.  CoffeeMan, to his credit, is on his company's job board almost daily looking for a new position.  This economy, to its discredit, no longer supports even a highly qualified, highly respected professional like him writing his own ticket.  So here I am...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The End of An Era

My best times during my last year in Liberal Yuppieland were my Thursday night trysts with a beautiful, vivacious brunette.  No, not those kind of trysts you sicko...  My girl R and I would get together at her apartment (I didn't have cable, and something about mine being too cat-centric) with a bottle or two of decent wine, a huge veggie pizza, and enough junk food to take a decade or so off our life expectancies.1
It wasn't just about Michael's familiar stupidity, Jim's vague je ne sais quoi that makes him strangely attractive, or even Dwight's comic weirdness.  R and I had stumbled upon each other while working for The Man, found out we had much in common, good and bad, and it grew from there.  We were both, ahem, unexpectedly forced to move at the same time, by coincidence became neighbors, and became even closer as we helped each other through some icky times.  I miss having someone around who knows me, the good and the bad of me, and from whom I don't have to hide the ugly.  What can I say... even a bottle of mid-range Riesling is still cheaper than the co-pay for a therapist. She's the kind of friend that doesn't come along often, but one I hope will be there for life even if we're never again co-located.

I don't know that I'll ever have the kind of friends here whom I can call crying at 2AM, or to whose house I can bring my knitting without being rude.  It's not just R and all my friends as individual people I miss, but having the comfort and familiarity of that support system. 
So Michael Scott, and most importantly R, I am raising my glass (of tea) to you this evening as I watch the last episode of The Office as we knew it.

1 The one good thing about having a problem with sugar, is the ability to double-dose your diabetes meds when you want/need to pig out.  My theory is, the drugs keep you from getting fat - or at the very least, from going into extreme sugar shock.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Take The Pill and Shove It

Neonatally Induced Abstinence: n. A highly effective form of birth control that prevents pregnancy by using one or more of the following means to prevent sex taking place:
(1) Exhausted parents of a newborn, having gone in some cases as long as their child's entire post-partum life without more than 15 consecutive minutes of rest, always elect sleep over sex due to their extreme exhaustion.
(2) The mom of a newborn's extreme PMS and appearance (including but not limited to leftover stomach flab, stretch marks, stitches from epi or tear) keep both parents from being "in the mood" for the forseeable future;
(3) Friends of the sleep-deprived new parents (particularly those who were on the fence about having kids), having seen the new parents stumble around in a zombielike state unaware that they're covered in drool and spitup, swear off sex for the forseeable future just in case.

This, my lovely OB, in addition to lactational amennorhea, in addition to the fact that I don't freaking ovulate or even have stable blood sugar without the L-1 drug you refuse to prescribe me until I drink your punitive medicine Dr. Moreau Koolaid, stop breastfeeding, and go on the Pill like a good little zombie woman, is why I am confident that I won't get pregnant anytime soon.

Nevermind the fact that the Pill is basically an invention to subjugate women.  Unless you're one of those women who is too lazy to keep an eye on your cervical mucus in which case you're too immature and irresponsible to be having sex anyway,  the only real benefit of the Pill for most of us is that its existence and the presumption that anyone who cares about her career takes it, makes us more marketable to hiring managers.  Employers don't have to worry about - gasp!- our having any priorities or obligations besides our jobs; and lazy boyfriends don't have to worry about the non-disease consequences of sex.  And the Feminazis rejoice. While there are some who do have a legitimate medical need for it, they're few and far between; putting every single non-pregnant woman between the age of 11 and 60 on the Pill as a matter of course is inappropriate.

Now the fact that you're an old-school dumbass who'd rather treat the million symptoms than treat the one cause  we have divergent POVs when it comes to managing PCOS, is unfortunately why I'm looking for a new OB.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April First

As we speak, the cats are right now pulling me and the Pillbug in a dogsled through the Mojave.  We're en route to Vegas to crash Betty White's house party.  Did you hear she hooked up with a transsexual reincarnated Elvis clone in the 70s?

If you don't believe me, check the date stamp on this post!

This morning at about 4 AM, I looked down at Pillbug, who was drifting off to sleep with an adorable smile on his little face, and felt an incredible surge of love.  He is way better than anything I could have ever imagined, and I feel so honored and humbled to be the one to bring this amazing little person to life. 

In my brain damaged stupor induced by no more than 4 hours' sleep in the last 6.5 weeks, I did what any normal person would do:  I updated my Facebook status accordingly.  " I love my little man!"  This got many "likes" from my friends, acquaintances frenemies and family facebook friends.  I checked the newsfeed to see what everyone else had to say, and then it hit me:   Either everybody's off their meds, or it's April Fools' Day.  How mortifying.  I know it looks like I'm just not playing, a first for me, but I know some catty feminine hygiene product is going to bring this up later when talking about what a crappy mom I am.

This is one of the myriad reasons I would love to break up with Facebook.  Why I can't/won't is a different post.

Who cares though.  I am holding my son, which means I should get baptized by a leaky diaper any second now all is right with the world.

So I Married a Philistine

I know Mozart is what you're supposed to play to make your baby smart, but for the sake of my not wanting to cut out my eardrums with a dull butter knife variety, I've tried to expose Pillbug to a variety of genres.  Moms of little kids can do a lot without looking silly, but doing a conga line with a baby to an 18th century minuet just never flies.

As a wannabe ParrotHead1, I made a little dance routine for me and Pillbug to one of the greatest songs ever written.  Yesterday morning, after a night of no sleep, we were in the living room singing and dancing when my husband rushed out of the shower.

CoffeeMan:  Is everything OK out here?
Me: We're just dancing.
CoffeeMan: I thought I heard a faint cry for help.
Me:  I didn't say anything.
CoffeeMan: I didn't mean from you.  Snatched the baby and began to sing Bob Marley.

1No, dammit, I do not smoke weed!  It's just too much a cliche when you're married to a Jamaican. Nor do I sell spliff, nor do I know where you can get the good shit, etc. 

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mothers' Group and The Cult of Breastfeeding

Back when Pillbug was a mere blastocyst1, CoffeeMan and I decided that we'd breastfeed him.  It was a pretty easy decision:  He's from a country where it sounds like exclusive formula feeding from Day 1 is on par with replacing his rattle with a crackpipe, I'd heard something or other about it helping you lose weight after birth.  That I'd be staying at home with the baby, and had heard all the pediatrician's thesis on the superiority of breastmilk vs. formula,was icing on the cake.  It was a done deal. Or so I thought.

What I didn't realize was the huge mistake we made in arriving at the decision to breastfeed:  We skipped over all the self-righteousness and sociopolitical rhetoric that should be an integral part of discussion in every marital and parenting decision we make for the rest of our lives.  I shouldn't have been surprised that family/friends have both literally applauded me, and also asked when the hell am I going to start giving my four week old solid foods.  Disturbingly, one of the most vocal members of the latter camp is my soon-to-be-fired gynecologist.  I'm not feeding my child; I'm - albeit doing the Diet Coke version thereof - part of A Movement and making A Statement:
  • F-U to those Feminazis at NOW, who according to the LLL worshippers ladies at my only local non-religious mothers' group, hate breasteeding. I read their negative reaction to the pro-breastfeeding commercials differently, and found it - surprise! - self-righteous, obnoxious and  reverse classist but reasonably logical and  pro-breastfeeding.
  • F-U to the eeevil, stuuupid United States (Maybe I didn't leave Liberal Yuppieland so far behind after all?) and its backwards moneyhungry puritanical culture
  •  I love my child way more than moms who choose to formula feed exclusively.  And of course, more than moms whose milk dries up early/never comes in due to medical issues, moms whose employers don't accommodate pumping, etc.
  • BUT since I use bottles of pumped milk,  nursing covers, and going to the other room/bathroom rather than give whomever a free show, I don't love my child as much as the militant, in your face, Nurse In Public people love theirs.
The day after I had Pillbug, a very nice woman came into the room to give me some tips on breastfeeding.  Ingrid scored points with me for having a cool name, wearing funky jewelery, and being a redhead and a fellow person of hair length,2 as well as for helping me keep from feeling like I was going to be chewed to death by my beloved little pirhana.  She mentioned a social group for young moms, facilitated by herself or another lactation consultant, where you could get follow up tips on breastfeeding.

Sounds good, right?  I have been twice so far, and was irked by the following:
  • As a geriatric 31 year old, I'm by far the oldest first time mom in the group. Eek!  In Liberal Yuppieland, it's practically scandalous if you have your first kid before your age alone necessitates IVF.
  • It's fine to ask me if CoffeeMan has brown hair like Pillbug's  because of course my blonde DNA alone doesn't produce wavy brown hair, dumbass, but don't look at me like I have three heads if I tell you he's black.  If  I'm going to lie, it'll be a lie that benefits me and one about something I can get away with; something obvious like race doesn't fall into that category.
  • Lengthy in-depth discussions about how we are superior human beings and mothers for the Statement we made by joining the breastfeeding Movement.  Medical benefits in the first six months, yes, yes, we covered that at the birthing classes. Bashing women who make different choices (due to fewer options perhaps?) not so much. Discussing how superior you, your family, and your child are to a room full of near strangers is just rude and arrogant - the proper forum for such a discussion is with my best friend from high school.  She and I can provide decades of concrete evidence of each other's awesomeness, now without our moms bitching at us to watch our language and quit tying up the phone line.

I would be remiss not to point out - If you're in that mother's group, you're a stay at home mom, or a mom with an unusually flexible employer, who gave birth at a very posh except for the epically shitty food hospital.  In other words, our husbands all make decent money or have hideous credit card bills judging by the late model SUVS and designer diaper bags some of these ladies have and have good health benefits. Having given birth in said posh hospital, we get unlimited free support from professional lactation consultants.  I had baby showers where I got a pillow, pump, how-to books, etc as gifts from my large circle of friends and relatives.  My husband and I both have the education and the wherewithal to derail attempts - sometimes by medical professionals -  to sabotage Pillbug's being breastfed. I personally have the added bonus of being able to call my mom, my mother in law3 or one of my husband's several aunts 24-7 if I have any questions about breastfeeding. In other words, we have it just a little easier than, oh, 99% of the moms in this country. 

And look like aging high school mean girls by forgetting that instead of being grateful for what we have.

1He's growing up so fast!
2After nearly a decade in snooty management consulting firms in the stuffiest city on earth, yeah, I do think I'm a rebel for having hair longer than the safe, professional "chin-to-shoulder length" hair.
3We have a  relationship that is completely inappropriate for a mother in law and a daughter in law - we get along great, because of  mutual love, appreciation and respect. Some family therapist out there would have a field day.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Glad my time is that valuable...

Given all the press the issues of "unemployed need not apply" and "bias against SAHMs returing to work" get, I'm right now looking for a part-time volunteer gig to keep my skills current and have something on my resume to "validate" the gap.  One might argue that - in my particular case especially - my leaving the workforce was the only thing a responsible adult, or even a decent human being, would do.  But this is a capitalist country with the Feminist/Me generation in power, and I know I'm going to have a lot of explaining to do one day as to why I tabled a faux-Ivy degree and a management consulting career to read Dr. Seuss and kiss Pillbug's drooly little toothless smiles 4934984308 times a day.

My "decision" to stay at home was sort of made for me .  While my old management team - cool people in their own right - were really enthusiastic about helping me get a position on the West Coast, ultimately I had to turn down the one available.  Travelling 5 days a week in your last trimester of pregnancy really limits your prenatal care options (in a town where most of these doctors belong in the 50s, in Woodstock, and/or on the Island of Dr. Moreau), and is impossible to justify when you have a newborn.  There is just no boss great enough, no job that offers enough compensation or opportunities for advancement, to compel me to cut short my maternity leave, never breastfeed/pump, and not see my husband and son more than 2/3 of the time.  And nobody was going to hire a pregnant woman who appeared to be carrying triplet elephants. So I am rounding out Month #5 at home.

I'm not going to lie, I wouldn't trade my time with Pillbug for the world.  It's an honor to be his mom and a privilege to be the main player in shaping his early years.  But not only do I need/miss adult conversation, I also worry about paying for college and all the other expensive accoutrements of raising a genius.So I thought I'd hit up one of the charitable organizations in town and see if anyone needed assistance in logistics, communications, etc a day or so a week. Granted, if I'm not working from home, Pillbug will come with me, but I'll add that as a footnote when I actually speak with someone. The job market is flooded with PhDs in Astrophysics who also have MBAs from Harvard competing for minimum wage positions as mail room clerks, but I'm offering to work for free. No problem, right? 
WRONG. I get email responses that "I'll call you on X date", then nothing! Talk about a blow to the ego.  The universe is trying to tell me something here, but I'm just not sure what. 

I'm going to drown my sorrows in diet grape soda now, and maybe break out the Baby Neptune CD I pirated and see if Pillbug and the cats want to form a Conga line to Eine Kleine Nachtmusic.2

1 Pillbug is the smartest person ever to live.  In addition to best looking, most loving, most well-behaved, etc.  Kind of like almost every other child on this planet if you ask his/her mom.
2 Why can't it be a more interesting genre, such as Jimmy Buffet, that They say makes your baby smarter?