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?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

More PSAs from Coffeelady

  •  Just as a pregnant belly doesn't mean, "Please tell me in gory detail about your emergency unmedicated C-section after 205450349453 hours of labor", a newborn baby doesn't mean "Please tell me all about your two year old who is serving twenty to life for arson and murder, and why you still haven't lost your baby weight".
  • A new baby doesn't also invite intrusive medical questions.  Even if I did have an epidural/C-section/silent birth, I would not tell you about it.  Did I ask you if you've had your prostate checked recently?
  • Occasionally, babies are removed from their carseats in public places for reasons other than breastfeeding or diaper changes.  While neither is something I personally would choose to do in public, technically neither is illegal. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hell Hath No Fury...

... like a little man, even of the adorable and semi-androgynous neonate  variety, subjected to the horrors of... cue creepy 50's B-grade horror movie soundtrack... A BEAUTY SALON!

And not just any beauty salon. Hells no, I'm not going to blow hundreds of dollars at the trendiest Aveda spa again. OK, fine, at least not until I am once again gainfully employed and my youngest has moved out.  But since I'm still struggling to fit back into my fat jeans1 five weeks post-partum with my first baby, I went to... again with the cheezy music... a BEAUTY SCHOOL BEAUTY SALON!

I should have listened to Pillbug, who gave me The Evil Eye when I told him we were going to get Mommy a pedicure. The Evil Eye isn't from my husband, like many of Pillbug's facial expressions are, so I can only assume it's from me. A karmic payback if you will, since I give my own Evil Eye a lot. Pillbug's Evil Eye in the past has held out no longer than 15 seconds, but today kept up the entire 10 minute ride to the middle class post adolescent den of cattiness salon. As befitting a place staffed exclusively by 90 lb women who still need their fake IDs to get into bars, te salon was in a neighborhood that my husband would flip his lid if he knew I visited.

There I was reminded of one of two universal truths: 

1) Yes, I was in the nerd chick sorority in college; 
2) Broke people's fingernails always look awesome.

Re: #1 - With apologies to my girls from college, the vibe in the salon reminded me of my days holding court with Delta Phi Epsilon.  My sorority gatherings, regardless of the degree of sobriety, were resplendent with conversations about pressing issues germane to our lives, such as complaining about the academic annoyances caused by the Musical Borders of "the Stans" (former Soviet republics) and speculating as to the true sexual orientation of various world leaders. 

At the Sunny Republicanville beauty school salon, the conversational topics were equally scintillating dissertations such as how That Ho Michelle thinks she speaks Spanish since she majored in it in college (she probably is at least proficient), whether purple highlights are too much (YES!) and whose babydaddy can watch the kids that night so people can barhop.  The lovely tinfoil hat wearer disguised as a normal, sane cosmetology student, however, upon ascertaining that I do, in fact, take prescription drugs, launched into a dissertation on medical conspiracy theories:

Tinfoil Hat: I knew you took medication!  I just knew it!  You have ridges in your toenails! That's what they do to you.  

Me: Thinking I'd rather have ridges in my toenails than deal with the effects of a crap thyroid, pancreas, etc. Excuse me? 

TH: You don't need toenail ridges!  Doctors make you take all these unnecessary medications, to give you cancer and make more money treating you. 

Me: Reflecting on my old endochrinologist's reluctance to so much as test me for strep throat, and deciding a responsible endo likely wouldn't actually treat cancer. Maybe the oncologist is giving him a cut? So cosmetology, huh?  That sounds like a fun career!

Re: #2 - Seriously, what gives with that?! I get you can put acrylics with diamante-studded Van Gough designs on your credit card, but how do you avoid chipping them when doing housework and such?

And my son, how did he fare in all this?  Pillbug bucked up and weathered the indignities of the morning with a grace and valor that he must have gotten from some extremely recessive gene. He managed to refrain from giving The Evil Eye to all the teenagers who thought he was such an "itty-bitty cute widdwe baby! I want another!" The middle-aged women do more of the baby talk in squeaky voices; of the "being waterboarded is less irritating" variety.  I could tell he was seething inside and waited for the indignant ear-splitting shrieking to begin any minute. Thank goodness, he sat quietly in my lap, and even went to sleep while the dead skin wasn't being scraped off my soles.  The point of a pedicure was???

I tried to take his cue and avoid giving my own Evil Eye to the same teenagers who then tried to tell me their own childbirth horror stories. I wish I could say they're less annoying after you have the baby.  They aren't.  But some teenybopper bragging about walking out of the hospital in her prepregnancy jeans, may be justifiable homicide.

All in all? With pedicures, you get what you pay for. So for my $12.50, I have nicely painted, de-ridged toenails on dead skinned feet, and my belief in my intellectual and social superiority reaffirmed.  Hopefully Pillbug is too little to remember the outing; or else I could see the aftershocks earning some therapist a new Coach bag.


1Why is it that I still can't zip my fat jeans, but am wearing my fresh-out-of-the-dryer "hot" jeans that are two sizes smaller?  Or is the real question, how ridiculous does a 30-something mommy look wearing beat-up two seasons' ago Sevens?

2Milosevic is totally bisexual.  Whatever happened to that guy anyway?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

PSAs from Coffeelady

  • Whoever said "moms should nap while the baby's napping" either lives in squalor, is delusional, and/or has hired help.
  • Whether you're discussing presidents, philandering golf players, or cute babies... people who are part Black, are not straight-up Black. They are mixed
  • MLM is not a "job opportunity", it's an "invest a lot of time and money in something that likely won't work" opportunity. And unless you're Mary Kay Ashe, it's more like a franchise than actually owning "your own business!". 
  • If people don't ask your advice, chances are that's because they don't want it.
  • If a woman didn't adopt or give birth to you, she is not your mom and should not be addressed as such. I have never adopted anybody, and the child I have given birth to is a preverbal neonate who speaks in occasional nonsensical monosyllables. That means nobody should be calling me Mom, Mama, Mommy, Mami, etc yet.
  • Infomercials are a waste of daytime TV programming.  If I had the money to buy whatever overpriced yet strangely fascinating new gadget you're selling today, I'd be at work earning it, not watching television. Can I have more Drop Dead Diva, Parks and Rec, etc reruns instead please? 
  • Last but not least... People who have few to no pictures of their children on their Facebook page, may in fact, still love and have wanted their offspring.  Some people, after spending one of the blizzards of '10 snowed in with two cops during a To Catch a Predator marathon, may be a little skeeved by all the pervballs out there on the Internet.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Einstein's Played Out... Here is my Theory of Relativity

After almost 5 months in Sunny Republicanville, it is becoming more and more apparent to me that concepts such as “well-off/broke”, “educated” and “diverse” are relative terms.
In Liberal Yuppieland:
Broke - adj. Your car is more than 5 years old; your rent is less than 2K a month (though by the time you’ve reached your mid-30s, you really should own a third-to-half-million dollar house slightly larger than a post-it note but in the right zip code); you only shop at TJMaxx/Marshalls; you spend less than $100 getting your hair done; you take exotic international vacations less than once a year.
Educated - adj. You have spent roughly the cumulative GDP several medium-sized countries on multiple graduate degrees, which may or may not be useful in any capacity but bragging rights at cocktail parties. You are fluent in at least three languages, and Flyover States American English doesn’t count. If you’ve reached your late 20s and have neither Down Syndrome nor a graduate degree, people are impressed that you can still maintain gainful employment.
Diverse - adj. You have friends from every category that you have actively sought out to prove how open minded you are - your Australian Aborigine friend, your Gay friend, your left-handed senior citizen Capricorn friend.  alt.  Your ethnic background is kind of diverse if, say, your heritage is Liberian-Norwegian-Hmong-Wampanoag-Martian.
In Sunny Republicanville:
Broke - adj.  Your car is younger than you are.  The structural integrity of your home can withstand someone farting loudly indoors. Your groceries go on your debit card, and not your EBT card.  The latter is mostly because, you don’t have an EBT card.  How does a cashier know that I don’t have an EBT card?  Easy:  The Universal Law of how tell if a woman is…
Well-off - adj. Your fingernals don’t necessarily look like complete crap, but if they’re painted, you did them yourself.  Acrylics, gels, and those little rhinestones and funky painted designs in blindingly loud 80s colors have never seen your hands. You don’t have the money for that sort of thing, like you would if you earned minimum wage. 
Educated - adj.  You have completed high school.  To be fair, I think this is an impressive feat here, if the high school near my house is any indication.  I was out walking during the school day back when I was 8.5 months pregnant, was mistaken by a teacher for a student, and ordered to get back to class. Um… crow’s feet, wedding ring? You going to report me to the truant officer for not having a Master’s degree?  (It’s not that I couldn’t get into grad school and kick its ass, it’s just that I haven’t found a job I was passionate enough about to make that kind of investment of time and money. But why am I defending myself here?)
Diverse  - adj. Your ethnic background is diverse, if you are not multi-generationally inbred. I presume this is a vestige of this area’s Dust Bowl Okie heritage.  While standing in line at the grocery store today, Pillbug (who has blue Japanese eyes, Black lips, and skin just dark enough that I think he dodged the bullet of inheriting my freckles) and I overheard a WASPy woman telling the cashier, “My son is a human United Nations!  He’s Scottish, Danish, German, and Irish… that’s why he’s so exotic looking.” Honey…  your little boy is cute, but you can’t call a blue-eyed blonde “exotic-looking” unless you live deep in the Serengeti or something.
I’m still trying to figure out which is “the wrong side of the looking glass”, Liberal Yuppieland or here.  Sunny Republicanville is not by any stretch of the imagination the ghetto or a hick town.  We don’t have one Neiman Marcus per every 100 people as per stringent Liberal Yuppieland zoning regulations, but there is a Montessori school, multiple starbucks, a BMW dealer, etc.  We just also have honky tonks, a major road named after a country music star (whom nobody's ever heard of outside of this town), and a disturbing amount of mullets and acid-washed denim (sported on days that are not Halloween).

Monday, March 14, 2011


Where I am right now is the result of a long, strange trip that took me from Bitter Single Cat Lady/yuppie management consultant to Stay at Home Mom on the wrong coast.  By “long”, I mean the transformation took less than a year and a half.  And by “strange” I mean “the best thing that I could ever have imagined happening to me, which is rather ironic given that I’d dismissed marriage/kids as not being in the cards for me”.

And no, I didn’t need to read a copy of The Secret:  You try going on date after date with guys who follow Sex and the City far more closely than any heterosexual male should.  And without delving too deeply into my health history, let’s just say that two pink lines on the EPT achieved without medical intervention was a pretty big, although awesome and much welcomed, surprise.

I imagine I’ll always identify more with The Office than with Desperate Housewives.  That said, as we speak I’m typing one-handed on the crappy, half-decade-old computer I’d planned to replace this year, using the other arm to cradle my one-month old Pillbug.  He’s been going through a clingy phase the past month. Strangely, I’m right-handed but am typing with my left since, oddly, I maneuver the keyboard better that way. 

You’re about to tab to the next page, unsure you can stomach yet another blog about the life and times of a smug stay at home mom?
Cut me some slack.  This blog isn’t:
  • My armchair quarterbacking of what I’d do if I were: running Libya or casting the next Real Housewives of Mudville, IA;
  • Esoteric, uncomfortably introspective, and wholly uninteresting brain vomit about my self-actualization journey;
  • An exaggerated-to-the-point-of-fictionalized account of how great my life is, how perfect my husband/marriage/family is, or how much stuff we have;
  • The ironic commentary of an unemployed faux-Ivy grad camping out in her mom’s basement till she gets a book deal (Mostly because, I’m not that ironic, nor do I live with my mom); 
  • Baby’s every blink, twitch, and fart and just how precious and much better than your child he is;
  • Self-righteous bombasting about how my choice to do X makes me a better mother/wife/woman/person than you.
Still reading?  What I will delve into:
  • My adventures and misadventures as a management consultant (on the cat lady track) in Liberal Yuppieland turned stay at home mom in Sunny Republicanville, with my trademark snark, sarcasm, and political incorrectess;
  • And whatever else I feel like exploring.  Likely, renegade crafts, Siberian cats and why they are inherently superior to all other feline/canine beings, helpful household hints such as how to get iced coffee stains out of your neonate’s onesies, and other seemingly random miscellanea. It is after all, my blog.
So sit back and enjoy the ride! :)