Thursday, August 30, 2012

Will Travel with Baby

By the time he was 5 months old, H had been to TEN states: Virginia, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, California, Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, Missouri, and DC.

I can't even begin to tell you how nervous I was on that first flight (6 hours to L.A.!) but he was actually pretty good (read: he slept almost the entire time.)

Traveling with a baby is no walk in the park. In fact, it is utterly exhausting, especially when you are travelling for work. When H and I went to Missouri and Oklahoma in May to see family, it took two flights to get there, plus a 2 hour car ride. By the time we got to my grandma's I was spent, but I was generally more relaxed because I didn't have to worry about waking up on time and being at 100% for work meetings, etc.

In addition to being insanely stressed out when you are traveling with a 3 month old, here are some other fabulous road blocks/annoyances to make your trip extra exciting!

  • Even if you have a well behaved baby there will always be people who glare at you as you board and exit the plane. These folks will make you feel insanely self-conscious and make you scrutinize your every move.
  • Airplane bathrooms suck. Period. Most don't have a changing table, and even if they do there's hardly any room in there to change the baby in the first place.  Because of this I've become quite good at changing H in my lap while sitting on a toilet. I've even had a fellow parent tell me that he and his wife have changed their child's diaper right out in the open on the plane. I think we should consider petitioning airlines to provide family friendly bathrooms--the non-parents would appreciate it, too.
  • While we are on the bathroom note--say you are traveling alone with your 3 month old. And say you have to pee. You have to pee really, really badly. What do you do? Ask one of the people sitting next to you (a glarer, no doubt) to hold the baby? Lay the baby on your seat all defenseless while you go to the bathroom? How about take your baby to the bathroom with you, then lay the baby in the sink? I know, I know....none of these are safe options for your little one. So, to avoid utter bladder destruction, here's what I recommend: before traveling with your baby practice holding your baby with one arm, unbuttoning and pulling down your pants with the other arm, sitting on the toilet, and peeing (if you're a dude, I have no idea what to tell you here, but I imagine it's easier with a penis.) That's right. That's what I did multiple times while traveling solo with  H and now I am a pro at it. Having the baby in the baby carrier works, too but I've found that H's long legs hang below my crotch, so I have to lift him up if I am wearing him and need to pee. Isn't parenting glamorous?!
  • In order to keep your little one from crying during take off and landing, most doctors and other baby-traveling pros will tell you to either breastfeed or bottle feed the baby during take off and landing. The sucking helps their ears acclimate to the changing cabin pressure.  However--if you have a super tall/long baby like I do, then this only works until the baby is about 4 months old. After that, when you are holding them to breastfeed (across your body, in your lap) their little head or little feet end up on top of the person next to you. Yes, I spent a whole 2.5 hour flight with H lightly kicking the arm of the guy sitting next to me. He didn't cry at all, but he kicked. I apologized to this poor guy at least twenty times and fortunately, he was super-duper nice and took H's annoying kicks like a champ.  I doubt I will get so lucky next time.
  • Gone are the days of traveling light. Babies require a bunch of crap: diapers, bottles, breast pump, bouncy seat, clothes, more clothes, more diapers, bathing items, sunscreen, hats, swimsuit, swimming diapers, toys, blankets, white noise machine, and more. There's no way to sugar-coat it. The loads of baby crap is shitty to travel with. It is also quite heavy and you will be left paying $50-$100 for baggage fees.
What are your favorite travel-with-baby stories? Please share!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Morning Misogynist: As if Akin wasn't enough...

Sadly I'm not surprised that GOP Vice President pick Paul Ryan is this week's Monday Morning Misogynist. Apparently Ryan decided that Rep. Akin's comments weren't enough to outrage American women--he added his own thoughts on rape, saying it is just another way to get knocked up. Disgusting, I know. I don't have time to delve into how insulting Ryan's comment was (we are driving back from NYC and blogging via iPhone is a little tricky).

Just another man trying to define rape for his own political agenda. Ugh.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Whirlwind Mornings

I knew when I became pregnant that my life would never be the same. It's not necessarily a secret that "babies change everything" and yet, it's easy to glaze over the finer details like how your morning ritual will suck the life out of you.

So here it is. A peek into our (weekday) mornings:

To preface this, I'd like to point out that H has woken up to eat at midnight and again at 2:00am.

6:00 a.m. - Rise and shine! H is ready for the day and wakes up crying.

6:02 a.m. - I grab H and put him in bed with me so that he can nurse. These days H likes to drink a little, looks around, drink a little more, pinch my nose, drink a little, pull my hair, drink a little, bite my nipple, and then I take the boob away. While H is nursing I either try to "sleep" a little longer, or I start checking work email.

6:30 a.m. - And we are up! I take H into the nursery, pull open the curtains, pick out his outfit, change his diaper, put his clothes on and sit him in the floor. Then I make myself a cup of coffee.

6:45 a.m. - While H starts to play in  the nursery, I dash downstairs to get his clean diapers that I washed the night before. I put them away in the nursery and then put H in his swing.  Then I start to vacuum the nursery, dining room, entry room and kitchen. With both babies (H is in a nanny share and it's our week to be at our house) crawling, the floor needs to be super clean. Otherwise they'll end up with beagle hair and who knows what else all over their sticky palms. Oh, and I let the beagle outside to do his business. The cup of coffee is still sitting on the counter, untouched.

7:15 a.m. - Hubby feeds H his rice cereal while I shower. Then I throw on some clothes and hubby hops in the shower. I feed the dog. H begins crawling aaallllll over the house. I do my best to keep slobbery beagle kisses at a minimum (Bailey is really excited about H crawling and shows it by licking his face!)

7:30 a.m. - I try to do something with my (either wet or unwashed) hair and start putting on makeup. This routine, which used to take 15 minutes pre-baby, now takes FOREVER. I'm usually interrupted by something. It varies daily.  While I am trying to look presentable, hubby starts defrosting frozen breast milk and making H's bottles for the day. Oh! there's that cup of coffee! I take a few sips and go back to whatever I was doing before.

8:00 a.m. - the nanny arrives, and I holler at hubby to make sure he puts pants on. The beagle goes crazy....he likes guests, even if it is someone he knows. Then the other mom in our nanny share brings in baby H2 (his name also starts with an H!) and the beagle goes bonkers again. I spend about 5 minutes trying to occupy the beagle with a treat by having him do his tricks (sit! down! lay! spin! up! walk! shake!) to remind him that he is in fact, a well-trained dog. Meanwhile hubby is unloading/loading the dishwasher. I take a few more sips of coffee.

8:15 a.m. - hubby and I finish getting ready. Damn! I still have like half a cup of coffee! I pack my work bag, take a few more sips, give H a kiss and we are out the door!

8:30 a.m. - we hop in the car. I then say "oops!" and run back into the house to get whatever it is that I've forgotten that day. Hubby drives me to the metro (only a 15 min walk from our house, but he's going that directions anyways) and we both go to our offices. He drives to the Virginia suburbs, I take the train to the city.

9:00 a.m. - I start chugging down coffee number two and hope for a good day.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Morning Misogyny: "Legitimate" Rape!?!?

Representative Todd Akin, the Republican Senate nominee from Missouri, may just get the Misogynist of the Year Award for his recent comments on allowing exceptions to abortion access for rape victims. I'll let you watch the video yourself to see just how big of a douchebag (remember, douching is bad for you!) this guy is. 

What planet is he living on? And better yet, who are these doctors telling him that victims of "legitimate" (I know, every time I think/type/say "legitimate rape" I almost puke) rape can magically prevent pregnancy?! I don't even want to know what he considers "legitimate" rape. 

Let's forget about the fact that Akin is absurdly anti-choice. Apparently he is so out of touch with reality and women that he can't even diplomatically talk about a horrific crime. Now, let me just say that I don't expect politicians to know exactly how the human body works (that's really another issue--the issue of our leap away from science in this country to teach things like creationism and abstinence-only sex-education instead.) BUT--when (mostly male) politicians start trying to regulate my uterus, I think they should have their information straight. And that's just the point.

Mr. Akin--you are not a social worker or victims' advocate, you are not a police officer, and you cannot tell me or any woman if her being raped is "legitimate". 

Mr. Akin--you are not a gynecologist, nor do you have any medical training whatsoever, and you cannot tell me or any woman if she should or should not have an abortion.

I don't have much else to say about makes me sick to my stomach. I really hope  Missourians don't vote in this asshole over Claire McCaskill.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Capitalism Rests on the Backs of Mothers (and other unpaid care givers)

This piece  on capitalism and mothering over at Feministe by amazing blogger Blue Milk (one of my most favorite feminist mommy blogs) is a must-read. Even when I am in the throes of endless loads of laundry, waking up at 6:00am every morning to vacuum now that H is crawling, and making vegetable purees for H, I forget that mothering is, in fact, WORK. Oh wait. It's not just work. It's UNPAID WORK.

As Blue Milk points out, capitalism relies heavily on the unpaid labor of caregivers. Without us/them the system wouldn't work.

If you aren’t yet able to accept mothering as work then you have some reading to do – it will involve economics and history. Start with the emergence of industrialisation when family work first became invisible. And if you can’t see that breastfeeding a baby was every bit as important as collecting firewood for family survival, then keep reading back through feudalism. But once you knock that patriarchal lens of distortion from your eyes you will never see mothers and children quite the same way again. Everywhere you look you will see something a little bit horrifying – hours and hours and hours and hours of unpaid labour. It is work performed very often with love; it is work with possibilities of personal reward and great satisfaction, much like some other jobs, except it is unpaid.

What really spoke to me in this article is the point about the transfer of care for working moms. I work full-time and so does my husband which means someone has to watch H. Have you heard about how expensive daycare is? What about those of us who live in places where there are two-year long waiting lists to get into  a daycare? We basically have to do nanny-share. The guilt I feel for not being able to provide insurance for our nanny is tremendous, never mind the fact that I wish we could pay her more, because it's one hell of a job to watch two infants (for those wondering, we pay her well over minimum wage, but this does not make up for the fact that women's work, especially women who care for others as their job, is underpaid.)

Because whenever a mother enters the workplace a deal is being cut somewhere for childcare. Thinking care work vanishes when a woman’s time is suddenly accounted for in paid employment is patriarchal thinking. 

Like I said, this is a must-read and an important topic that often gets shoved aside when we talk about mothering at all in our society. We are more obsessed with the "mommy wars" than having real, honest conversations about mothering as a huge sacrifice (a sacrifice of our bodies, of our free-time, and for those who work outside the home--our careers) and as an exhausting (yet SO rewarding)  unpaid job. So please, take a trip over to Feministe to check out the piece

Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday Morning Misogyny: Back to the 1950s?

This has me all roiled up. It's been floating around on Pinterest and I finally clicked on it our of sheer curiosity. Clearly I shouldn't have.

Why on earth is the 1950s housewife ideal back in style? Please, please tell me that there is something like this in the universe aimed at men learning how to please their wives! (I know, I know...chances are slim to none on this one.)

I am by no means a relationship expert, nor one to readily dole out advice on marriage but I do know that feminism has provided me a lens through which to view the world and my own interpersonal relationships.

Here's what I know about marriage/commitment:

  • Marriage works best (for me) when it is viewed (internally AND externally) as an equal partnership.
  • Marriage isn't a walk in the park but it also shouldn't be dreadfully difficult. It takes work, but what good thing doesn't take at least some effort to maintain it?
  • Having children will test your marriage and its previously determined kid-free equilibrium. This is when the equal partnership framework becomes even more critical.
Any man who expects his wife to "honor" him, dress for his pleasure, HAVE SEX WITH HIM EVEN WHEN SHE DOESN'T WANT TO, agree with everything he says/does, prepare his favorite foods, and FOLLOW his lead, sees women as nothing more than property and second-class citizens. I can't believe how viral this blog post has gone (apparently the author has a book, too. fml.)

In addition for fighting for such basic things like birth control (which I never ever thought I'd be fighting for), we are now having to push back on an outdated notion that women are inferior help-mates. So, we've got a political battle for birth control and a social battle for equality within heterosexual marriages/relationships. 

Perhaps what breaks my heart more than a sexist man, is a misogynist woman doing all she can to uphold the patriarchy.