In-Law Angst, in Pie Charts

You guys… I’m having a moment. I’m not sure if I’m over-reacting. I feel like I might be, but at the same time I find that when I am over-reacting to one thing, it means I’m actually reacting to something else entirely. I swear that makes sense.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
We asked my in-laws to baby sit Chick tonight. They’ve done this before, and it has gone mostly without incident. They usually pick him up a few hours early from daycare, drive over to our home, play, eat, then put him to bed. We’re often there around meal time, and walk them through any changes to his schedule or habits. Then we head out for a few hours to be grown-ups.
Yesterday, Mr. O mentioned he would be home when they arrived because his work schedule shifted. No big deal, just meant that they didn’t need extra keys. This was when they let us know they had no plans on taking him back to our house. Instead, they were going to drive the hour back to their house, play, eat, etc. there, then drive him to ours for bedtime.
This ruffles my feathers. I shall explore all the ways.
1) What the hell is wrong with my home?! It’s clean (ish.) It has all his toys. It has his high chair, a changing table, extra sets of clothes, pj’s, his lovey… You know, all the “stuff” that makes looking after a tiny person less crazy. We’re not in a bad part of town. We’re near parks that they could play at. I repeat: what is wrong with my home?
2) What the hell is so great about their home?! There house is… okay, I’ll say it and sound super judgey… cluttered. I’m 99.9% positive Mr. O’s dad has hording tendencies, so it’s sometimes really difficult to maneuver their space. Their house is also not baby proof. That’s fine because they don’t have a baby- I’m not expecting them to cover every single damn outlet. But then why are you bringing my highly mobile, curious child over to your house?
3) What the hell is wrong with Chick’s home?! It takes him a while to warm up, that’s even when Mr. O and I are with him. He is being picked up by two people who aren’t his usual caregivers, then being taken to an environment that is still fairly new to him. (He’s been over there perhaps a total of 6 times since birth.) Perhaps I have mentioned it, but Chick is a bit reserved. As in, when he is in new places, he hangs back a while until he is comfortable. I think this whole thing will stress him out and I worry about how he’ll react. I just do, okay?
4) This strikes me as just plain stupid. Why are they driving a hour out of the city, only to drive an hour back into the city on a Friday night? That’s a lot of car time for Chick in one day. Not to mention that he’ll likely fall asleep on the car ride home, then they’ll have to attempt to transfer him to his crib which may or may not result in a baby waking up and not going down for another hour while he cries and thrashes around because he is tired. (Aside: I’ve always found it amazing that tired babies don’t just go to sleep, but you know… babies be crazy.)
5) When were they going to tell us that this was their plan? The only reason Mr. O and I know about this is because he called them to say that they wouldn’t need a key. Otherwise I don’t think we would have known at all. This bothers me. If you’re going to be doing something that falls outside his or our normal routine, I would like to know first.
6) My hunch is that they are going back to their house because Mr. O’s dad has developed pretty serious social anxiety problems. If it isn’t in his house, he is not comfortable. If we don’t go out to eat in one of a handful of restaurants he approves of, he is not comfortable. And he usually expresses his discomfort by generally being a sour puss and lashing out at others. Look, I’ve struggled with anxiety myself, so I know that this shit is real and hard and disruptive. But at the same time, you can’t allow one person to control an entire situation. This feels like yet another way that his love and support comes with conditions. He’ll look after Chick as long as it is under his terms– not Chick’s.
That’s a whole lot of feelings. They are not, however, all created equal. In order to weed through “all the feelings”, I provided myself you with this handy data visualization. Because that’s what I do.

Nerdy? Perhaps. But also remarkably clarifying. 

Now that I’ve spewed a bit, I assure you I haven’t gone complete rabid-mama-bear on the situation. They are doing us a big favor by baby sitting. They aren’t doing anything I think is unsafe or dangerous. Which is why I didn’t freak out and say “Heeeelllll noooo” to this plan when I heard about it.
It all just sits with me wrong, you know? I am starting to realize that I need to articulate my expectations to them for when they care for Chick. Any of you had luck navigating the grandparent-baby sitting minefield?

Mini-post: Appointments

With Chick’s first year down and an egg in the freezer, Mr. O and I decided to start talking about the possibility of Chick Part Deux.  Of course, in order to do this, I need to talk with a medical professional. Having a baby is kinda a big deal for your body and I want to know how I’ve recovered, outstanding concerns, etc.

So I took the first step and called my OB-GYN’s office for an appointment.

The soonest available appointment at her office (with ANY available doctor) is September 22nd.




Just Me and My Bump. And Unsolicited Opinions.

One of the many things I’ve found weird about pregnancy is how freely people will comment on your body. Like it’s no big deal. Here is a sampling of the observations I’ve received thus far:

  • I’m carrying high.
  • I’m carrying low.
  • My feet are swelling.
  • My face is “glowing.” (What the hell does that even mean?)
  • I’m massive.
  • I’m tiny.
  • Am I actually pregnant?

I also have been on the receiving end of many a warm nod toward my bump from just about every old person I see. While on the bus/train, people will stare at my bump for a moment or two, then offer up their seat to me in a panic. Yes, panic. Like I might go into labor any minute if I don’t sit down.

It’s so odd to be so conspicuous.

My feet are massive! Wait, no... they are tiny!

My feet are massive! Wait, no… they are tiny!

The Feet Swelling comment came from none other than my co-worker Myna, aka the Queen of Oversharing and Inappropriate Behavior. She looked me up and down, landed on my feet and announced “You’re feet look really big. You’re swelling.” Followed by a 20 minute monologue about how her feet swelled 3 whole sizes by the end of her pregnancy. Sigh…

First of all, it was the end of the day after the first warm day of the year. Yes. My feet were swelling because they do that sometimes even if I’m not pregnant. But mostly I just thought “I’ve just been checked out by my coworker. And that’s creepy.”

Think about it for a minute. It’s totally weird that for a brief period of your life, everyone feels it’s okay to stare at your body, analyze, and offer up commentary about it. Of course, as women, our bodies are always subject to some inane form of public scrutiny, but I feel like there is something different at play here. I’ve been looked up and down before by skeevy boys on the street, but it was rarely followed by “Damn, girl…. you’re feet look really big.” I find this behavior appalling, even without the odd comment about my feet.

Can we start some movement about street harassment for pregnant women? As far as I’m concerned, it is never okay to make comments about other people’s bodies. I’m not sure why it is cool to do this just because I’m harboring a tiny life form. But as with most things in pregnancy, rules are rewritten and bizarre expectations are set.

Perhaps next time I should say “My feet look big? Well, your crow’s feet are coming in gloriously!”

ARTICLE: Time to rethink our social construct of motherhood

When I spoke with my benefits coordinator a few weeks ago about maternity leave, it was a bit of an eye opener. Not in terms of my benefits– I had those practically memorized. What struck me as nuts was the tone.

You see, I am one of the few employed Americans who works for someone who does offer some kind of paid parental leave. (And by paid, I mean 60% of my pay for 6 weeks.) During my conversation, I was reminded repeatedly how “fortunate” I was, and how “generous” this policy was. It was mentioned more than once that my employer isn’t required to extend this benefit– it is a choice the company makes to better support its employees.

Sadly, I am aware how fortunate I am. The vast majority of Americans do not receive any paid paternity leave because as a country we do not prioritize the needs of working parents. I don’t believe this has to be an issue of gender– dads are parents too. I’ve always believed this is more an issue of economic policy than anything else. As I recently learned, paying for childcare can cost as much as college tuition. Without paid family leave, working parents have to make hard choices that have real impact on their financial health and their family structures.

Which was why I was so happy to read this op-ed in the Boston Globe by Katherine McCartney, “Time to Rethink Our Social Construct of Motherhood.” She argues that our country’s stunted policies stem from deep seeded cultural beliefs about what role women should play within the family. Some of my favorite bits are:

When correspondent Meredith Vieira left her job at “60 Minutes” after the birth of her second child, commentators lauded her decision to put her children first. Employed mothers like me felt too guilty to publicly proclaim that we, too, put our children first.

For some, employment isn’t a choice but a necessity that allows them to financially support their children. Jobs are not always “optional.”

Our romanticized views about motherhood continue to sow division and guilt, undermining our energies to organize for the policies that employed mothers and fathers deserve.

As long as we hold on to an antiquated idea that all childcare must happen in the home and must be done exclusively by women, we will never be able to get policies we need.

Mother’s Day is a good day to double down on the work required to reconstruct our conception of motherhood. An essential step is to make the invisible visible, helping young mothers and their partners realize that social constructions of motherhood are just that — constructions.

This Sunday, as you celebrate all the awesome moms you know (yourself include, if applicable), take time to re-evaluate what motherhood means. It isn’t about fitting into one model of parenting. It is about making the best possible choices for your children, and advocating for policies that give all parents the freedom to do so.

(Aaaand I step down off my soap box.)

Babies are people too

As I’m slowly admitting to myself that I am pregnant, I’m also admitting that at some point I will have to make room for baby. In my uterus, sure… but nature takes care of that. No, no, I am talking about actual space in my apartment for another living being.

A few years ago, Mr. O and I decided to move from a one bedroom apartment to a two bedroom. There were a ton of reasons for this move, but we knew we wanted more space because we fully intended to have a tiny human.

That was two years ago. In that period of time, we filled up the extra room. On a certain level, leaving it without purpose felt like some nasty reminder of our infertility. So it became known as “The Office.”

The office is now filled with things. A desk. A bookshelf. A printer we haven’t used since the toner ran out over a year ago. Shelving for Mr. O’s remarkably large CD collection. (For the love of pete, who has a CD collection in this day and age? Answer: My husband, and thanks to laws of communal property I do too.)

We are now undergoing the process of clearing out that room. The truth is that some of it can go away, and some of it can’t. We can’t toss Mr. O’s great-grandfather’s desk out into the street. As much as I would like to burn all the CDs then leave them on the curb, this plan as met with much resistance. And so the negotiations continue.

I think I’ve figured out how to essentially split the room in half so that there is space for Mr. O’s crapola on one side and baby stuff on the other. This will do until the child is big enough to notice that it is living in our storage room. But nothing I have to worry about yet.

In the meantime, I’ve allowed myself to idly think about “decorating a nursery.” Which sorta makes skin crawl. Even though I’ve desperately wanted a child, I’ve never wanted all the weirdo expectations that come with them. Decorating a nursery sounds so 1950’s housewife, I feel as though Gloria Steinem will personally revoke my membership to NOW unless I do so ironically.

Fine, fine… If I’m being 100% honest, I’m using good ol’ Gloria as a scapegoat. It isn’t that I think having an area vaguely set aside for childrearing makes me less of a feminist. I just find most things related to the clothing and decorating of babies nauseating. There I said it. I find cartoon animals, pink/blue bows, and hand painted murals of castles completely bizarre.

Just do a google image search of baby nurseries, and you’ll see what I mean. Do people actually have chandeliers over their cribs? Why are people writing their child’s name on the wall using gigantic letters? Are they afraid they’ll forget which room to put their baby in? And why do these same people name their children Gunnar or Kayden? THOSE ARE NOT REAL NAMES. (My apologies if you’ve just named your child Gunnar and/or Kayden. Blame my rudeness on hormones, please.)

And whilst I am ranting about nursery stuff, what is with gliders? I mean, I understand their usage. I want one. But I can’t figure out why they have to look like a rocking chair had a drunken one night stand with bag of jumbo marshmallows. And anything that doesn’t look like a breeding mistake costs $500.

Is it weird to say that I think we infantilize babies? It’s like babies aren’t allowed to be people. Instead, there is a tacit understanding that they are these “other” things that we dress up and treat like dolls or toys.

I get that there are somethings that make sense for a baby because of usefulness and/or developmental stage. No matter how much I may love Edward Gorey, for example, a baby might think a Gashlycrumb Tinies themed nursery legitimately terrifying. It isn’t like I want to raise my kid in a space that looks like a Soviet-era orphanage. I just don’t resonate with this whole “baby culture.” I’m not sure I want to. And as I’ve found so many times before, I get the feeling I am in the minority.

So what does this mean? For starters, no themed nursery for me (Gorey or otherwise.)