The last week.

This isn’t how I thought it would end.

I didn’t think the end would begin with a deep soreness, tiny stabs of pain, highlighted by stinging tears; the added torture of me trying to hold all this in and stay strong for you, to avoid the chance you’d feel unwhole, to acknowledge your instinctual longing, to turn away in the hope you wouldn’t see me holding back, and cry yourself to sleep.

I just didn’t see it coming, I didn’t know that’s how it would go.

Day by day for this last week, I held back while you went ahead. How each day, you could start a little more fresh, a little more optimistic; how you could then end each day a little more fulfilled, a bit brighter, that much more ready.

Without me.

You were slowly moving on, and I wasn’t seeing it. My time was occupied waiting for us to reunite.

Day by day, you managed; surpassed; moved on.

One week later, you are the happiest I’ve ever seen you.

Running ahead, a vision of fresh opportunity, arms open, drawn to people who are not me, people who have not nourished you with love and comfort for the last year and a half. At the other end of these last few days, you haven’t run to me in desperation, clinging to the crutch I nurtured. Now you see me and smile while you hang back, greet me brightly from a distance. Even Ruth, she said to me today – one week later – “you know, she’s just so happy. I can’t even explain why. She’s just been happy – changed.”

It’s been a week. And I never thought once in this time that this is how it ends. You, reborn. Me, at a loss.

I didn’t want to hurt you, I absorbed all the pain. And I didn’t see it coming.

And here we are. The physical pain has passed – it’s been a whole day without the break in my chest, the throbbing, the feeling of being shattered, burst open, bruised. That’s subsided and now I look up from this dark week and the tears are receding with the tide, the cracks are filled, the sores are healed; but the pain in my heart is encased in a crust that is raw and fresh and choking.

And you – you’re happy. And tonight, I hold you in my arms, your tiny head resting against my shoulder, the slow, mellow motion of your breathing against my upper chest… as I hold you like this, in the dark room, quiet and at peace… as I hold you I know you are happy. And I know I am, somehow, too. And I know this pain is about my loss and my failure to never consider it could end like this, but knowing – somewhere, between the tender bruising that is both reminder and revelation – somewhere, deep inside my chest, right behind my deflated, soft, healing breasts – baby girl, this is for the best.

It’s time to normalize pumping at work.

I work full time, and there are days when I’m in back-to-back meetings all day. There’s never enough time to get my work done, because if I’m not at work, I’m picking up my kids and starting the second half of my day. And when that’s over, preparing for the next one.

The reality is there are days that I end up with a rushed 20 free minutes midday and I have to make a choice – find food because I’m about to collapse, or pump.

Why am I bringing it up? Because I feel like when we talk about working moms and how insane it all is, we don’t get into the messy awkward stuff. Like boobs exploding in pain in the workplace. Like having an extra personal, physical thing to take care of during the day aside from feeding ourselves. Like feeling disappointed if I didn’t pump one day because I prioritized meetings over having extra milk for my baby. Like getting over knowing that all my coworkers know where I’m going when I walk away from my desk with my bag, and the answer I give is ‘no’ when they ask if I’m leaving for the day.

I guess I’m sharing this because 2.5 years ago I decided I wanted to normalize pumping in the workplace to help the next set of moms coming up under me. It was harder last time around (I was the first and only one doing it, hello freezing server room), but this time I do feel change, both in myself and the company.

Today, my workplace is very pump friendly, and there are four of us now, and though it gets crowded, they keep adding new locks and shades to close off private offices.

So here’s to normalizing pumping, friendly workplaces, and hungry, tired moms overcoming the added daily challenge of exploding boobs.

I cry over spilled milk and closing chapters.

I had an unexpected emotional trigger when, as I walked toward the office fridge to grab my pumped milk at 18:45, I saw the fridge door already open, with its glistening empty shelves, and the cleaner standing in front, putting new garbage bags in the trash cans.

The office manager had emailed earlier that everything in the company fridges would get chucked today at the end of the day… I frantically asked the bewildered cleaner if it was really all gone, ‘no, I don’t need milk, it was my pumped milk, mother’s milk, that was in there, in a special bottle,’ and he did feel sorry for me… and had been just doing his job…

I left and stood by my car watching the other cleaner toss the day’s garbage bags into the parking lot dumpster. I debated looking through them. I debated crying. I debated going home.

It wasn’t a lot of milk and I have more bottles. But finding 30 minutes during the day to put my baby first is hard. Every. Day. And finding time to give her special attention is hard. She doesn’t even drink it… she eats it sometimes, as a meal. She never accepted bottle feeding.

She’s nearly nine months and I’m sad to come to terms with moving on from pumping. Because it’s just another little chapter to close up in our lives together.

[UPDATE January 16 2017:  Is now a good time to mention my frozen stock just fell to the floor and cracked and broke?]

*Sandberg!* and other things I got from work this week.

Self-Portrait. I call it, ‘Keeping Shit Together’

>clink!<

Here’s to my first full out-of-the-home work week (ok, 80% out-of-the-home) in three years.

Do I have observations? Yes, I have observations. Somewhere. Probably. Behind my droopy eyelids. Under the piles and piles of house mess I’m responsible for.

Obviously, there are pros and cons of working from home and working from an office.

But it’s the latter that’s made me go, Sandberg! .at least three or four times a day.

Sandberg, as in Sheryl Sandberg. Goddess of Facebook. Leader of Lean In. Mother of… at least one.

Sandberg.

Let’s take pumping. If breastfeeding is a beautiful, natural, most basic act of a mother sustaining her child, pumping is the ‘do I look like a cow in this?’ version.

Yes, honey, you look like a cow with two plastic cups at your breasts squeezing every drop of a substance that falls under the category of ‘bodily fluid’ into a container with bright yellow milliliter markings up the side.

Then you’re meant to button up, get back to your desk and analyze TPS reports.

Sandberg!

And in some cases, you may, uh, be doing that in an executive office.

That isn’t your own.

HowEVER, Sheryl (and Marissa, for that matter) – you never mentioned the commute! Well, not the traffic part or the crazy drivers. But the QUIET. The sweet sweet sound of silence in the form of engine revving and wheels rotating and you know what? I don’t even know what else goes on because in my head, there are just trees blowing in the wind and beautiful blue skies overhead and the occasional cussing out the guy in front of me, but even that is adult conversation.

I will say this for Sandberg… I may not have your money or stature, but at least I have a family-friendly culture backing me. And some decent female role models to talk to, within a relative arm’s reach.

It’s going to be hectic and insane and every breath seems as delicate as a spiderweb cliche, holding everything together. For now. (Until I think of a better cliche).

I hope your American female colleagues can say the same soon enough.

New game: Are You Mom Enough?

At least we can gain something from the silly attempt at provocation (I guess it worked actually) that TIME magazine gave us this week with its Are You Mom Enough? cover.

Am I mom enough to breastfeed a grown boy on the cover of a national magazine? No. I am mom enough to give him cause for therapy, but not THAT mom enough.

Anyway, welcome to the Are You Mom Enough game! Please add your own AYME challenges in the comments.

  • AYME to be literally shat on this morning, clean up baby, her clothes, the floor, and forget about yourself until later?
  • AYME to pee standing up to avoid the pee on the toilet seat while your son stands in front of you with his pants down because he doesn’t want to pick them up until you do?
  • AYME to use one hand to block your daughter from crawling between her brother’s legs while he’s bent, ass up, and you’re hunched over wiping his bum?
  • AYME to understand why all my examples have to do with potty???

Go…

Bebe update: Thirteen months.


Welcome to being over the hill, babyhood-style.

We started the month, Bebe, with you taking me on a nostalgic trip to the college days, as you went through some kind of boob-spurt and practically tore my shirt off any time you wanted to nurse. It was like as soon as the clock turned one-year, you had a surge of assertiveness I hadn’t seen before.

You know what you wanted, and you wanted milk. Or comfort. Or dominance. I’m not sure. And for the first half of the month, I was too taken aback to ask you.

But then something happened. Something I don’t wish on any little baby or parent.

You contracted… this.

And it sucked.

But unfortunately, you didn’t. You ceased all sucking activity one day. No more pacifier, no more boob. I held out for the disease to pass, and pumped as a placeholder. But you never came back.

I tried every day since and you haven’t come back.

It’s over a week now, and you won’t have it, and I guess we’re done, B. I really actually enjoyed nursing you. I was debating weaning for a few weeks back there, but as soon as you stopped I knew I hadn’t really been ready. It was different with your brother… I think we were both secretly relieved and just didn’t tell each other. But you – we had something really special.

Now it seems you stopped from the pain, struggled, and now you’ve moved on.

And, moving on, you’ve begun taking steps towards steps. Somehow, this month, you’ve taken first independent steps on couches… Hey, I get it, we have really comfortable couches.

But you do love walking, holding on to whatever.

But perhaps, to make up for the lost mama milky moments, you’ve given me something else… your gift of gab. Today I asked you if you wanted more cereal, and you shook your head ‘no,’ and then I asked if you’d like water, and you nodded your head ‘yes.’

You call my name, you show me what you want, you tell me you want more. You try a new word on your tongue and look around for approval.

You read a goodnight story with me, you communicate your loves, wants, hates, curiosities.

And so we begin, Bebe. The rite of all mamas and bebes everywhere, from God to Eve, Yocheved to Miriam, my mother to me.

The mother-daughter talkfest.

 

 

Bebe update: Ten months.

Hello little nuzzle.

This month felt really long. Maybe it’s because I’ve been working my bum off at my job. Maybe because, as such, I’ve been doing better at appreciating every single day I get to spend with you when you guys come home from gan. Maybe it’s because you’re doing so many new things. But here you are, ten months.

One of the first things I noticed this month: You now talk. Or maybe the word is communicate. One day you just kept saying ‘ma ma ma ma’ and, to be frank, looking at my boobs. You asked me to be nursed. Girlie! And then you Pavlov-dogged me into picking you up, hugging you, feeding you, or just looking at you when you say it. I think you’re teaching us how to talk. You next moved on to abba. Can’t wait till you decide how the hell you’ll pronounce your brother’s name…

Luckily, it goes both ways – you tell us, and we tell you. Namely, ‘no.’ You’re starting to understand it. Not that I have to say it often, to be honest. But why oh why do you constantly go for the toilet bowl?

And, as of today, I’m going pump-free. With the helpful words of my metapelet, I choose not to look at that as the beginning of the end of our nursing, but instead, just focusing on me and you time. To celebrate, I breastfed you in a field today. Literally.

You started experimenting with standing on your own (but I’m not going to label you a raging feminist yet). Walking along your track of things to hold on to. Meanwhile, when I explained to your brother that you’ll be walking soon, he looked at me and looked at you and said NO. He’s threatened by you, B. Remember that when you’re older and you have male bosses someday.

But it’s made up for when you two ‘play’ together. That’s the best. And it keeps getting better. Every month that goes by, there’s more depth to your relationship. It’s amazing and it’s precious. Nothing like a brother and sister.

Keep it forever.

Baby boy boob-envy.

Thought: would ‘feminism for guys’ just be called… chauvinism?

Lately my son has taken an interest in my, uh, baby-feeders (Ima, boobs!) and so I indulge him in thinking, yes, you too can ‘feed’ Baby Dora. It gets complicated when he wants to feed Bebe though.

But today, he wanted to take it a step further. He wanted to help me pump, and then he wanted to pump for himself.

We gotta try anything once, right?

The best is he got frustrated when he didn’t see any milk come out – but I’m resting assured that’s a good thing.

P.S. – the milk in the picture was leftover from me. My son is not a lactating human miracle.