Nov 15 2010

The End…?

I don’t know if anyone will see this, and it’s likely the last thing I will post here. I just don’t have the time or energy any more. I had to step away when I realized that I was living my life each day waiting for things to happen that I could write about. Every time I took photos, I thought about if they could be posted. I didn’t like that feeling once I recognized it, and a full break from posting was necessary.

Anyway… this is the end in more ways than that: we are moving. Like, physically moving. We are going to Portland, Oregon. Not because it’s cool (though it seems to be), but because John was offered a nice job there with a lot more potential than we have here.

Sadly, we will be leaving our extended families behind, which is really hard to come to grips with. Cole and Rowan will be at home with me until next school year, because Cole is still too young to go to school in Oregon, apparently.

We will also, likely, be losing our house here. I’m not ready to talk about that in any more detail.

We are excited, scared, anxious, sad… all of the above, really. Things will work out. Our family (the 4 of us, anyway) will still be together. We will find new friends; new community. It will be okay.

See you later. Maybe.

(I still get comment notifications, so if you have Portland advice I’d love to hear it!)

Jun 28 2010

California Breastfeeding Today

This is something that I have been wanting to write about, but haven’t because of the “special” circumstances surrounding the issue. I am going to write about it now because I can’t stop thinking about it and it has made me so very angry, but I will be attempting to tread lightly. Everything I write will be fact, and anything that is my opinion will be labeled as such. I was not asked to sign any confidentiality agreement, and will not do so.

About 6 or so months ago, I was called into my HR Manager’s office and told that I was being given an official warning on my record for breastfeeding while at work and in a meeting. I was told that no one had complained, but that she (the HR Manager) had noticed two of the men in attendance avert their eyes when I went to breastfeed Rowan (quite discreetly, I might add, as I have NO interest in anyone I work with, besides my husband, seeing my boobs). She claimed that she could tell that they were uncomfortable and that she had to give me this warning to protect the company from potential lawsuits. She said that my actions could lead to someone complaining about an uncomfortable work environment and that I was not allowed to breastfeed with others present when they couldn’t choose to leave (like in a meeting). She said that they had provided me with an office with a door for that very reason (I had the office with the door before I even got pregnant or started TRYING to get pregnant, so whatever).

I was thrown, but could see her point. I don’t want to make people uncomfortable, and I certainly don’t want to be the cause of the company getting sued. At the same time, I didn’t really know what the solution was because I am more or less forced to have Rowan with me at these meetings and I can’t really leave, either. What can I do?

Jump forward a few months to when I was asked to attend a conference call in the office of a coworker on very short notice (there was NO way to get childcare). I had Rowan who was, thankfully, asleep… at first. In the middle of the conference call, Rowan woke up. I did what I think any breastfeeding mother would do when their baby starts wailing in public and I stuck my boob in her mouth- again, I was VERY discreet, though it was certainly clear what I was doing. I’m 100% positive that I didn’t flash any nipple. We carried on with the conference call and my coworker never said a thing to me.

Flash forward again to a couple of weeks or maybe a month or so ago. I was called into the same HR Manager’s office, along with MY manager, and given a WRITTEN REPRIMAND, which I had to sign, saying that I had again broken the “rules” by breastfeeding Rowan in front of a “captive audience,” that he had complained, and that the company was doing their due diligence to avoid a lawsuit. I was told that the lawsuit, should it come to that, would fall under SEXUAL HARASSMENT. Then my manager told me that, whether I agree or not, “breastfeeding is not the norm in this culture,” which isn’t entirely true, and was certainly just his opinion (from a very conservative, white, religious man who adopted all but one of his 7 children). They ended by asking me to apologize to my coworker.

Opinion time:

I did not apologize. I was embarrassed. I was made to feel like a deviant, and worse, a SEXUAL deviant who involved my child in my deviant ways.

Keep in mind that my company was WELL aware that I am a breastfeeding mother and that I warned them before each of these meetings that I would have to have Rowan with me. I was specifically asked to attend each of these meetings, and they were not the kind of meetings that I could just get up and leave. In fact, for the second one, I was one of only two people in the room, if you don’t count Rowan.

In the weeks following, I have gotten more and more angry. As I’ve written elsewhere, this experience has turned me from a dedicated breastfeeding supporter to a fervent lactivist.

Not Opinion:

I have also researched a lot of breastfeeding laws for California, and was amazed (and bolstered) to find this: Cal. Civil Code § 43.3 (1997) allows a mother to breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, except the private home or residence of another, where the mother and the child are otherwise authorized to be present. (AB 157)

Upon finding that, I immediately wrote an email to my HR Manager, my manager, and the President of my company asking that, at the very least, they remove the warning and the reprimand from my record. I cited the CA Code and other relevant legal verbiage.

Unfortunately, my manager is on vacation until the 6th, and the HR Manager doesn’t want to proceed until she has a chance to discuss it with him.

Opinion again:

I think they were fully wrong. I feel that my rights have been violated. I feel insulted and angry and sad.

To complicate matters further, the HR Manager was a woman who I considered my friend. No longer. I believe that she let her personal feelings about breastfeeding get in the way.

Adding to the complication is the fact that the President happens to be my father. This is his company, the company he gave up being around for my childhood to build. This company has always been almost like another sibling to me. I don’t want to hurt them; I don’t want to hurt my father and what he’s worked so hard for. We are also an ESOP company, so any injury to the company is an injury to every employee. I can’t have that on my conscience.

However, I will not let this go. I will not sit back and allow this to remain on my professional record uncontested. They are wrong, of that I am sure.

Apr 13 2010

Because I Must Be Dying, Right?

I freaked out last night while rubbing under my arm because I was so sore from yesterday’s swimming class. There was a lump- a big one. Possible causes raced through my mind, and I’ll admit that I briefly thought “Well, this is it.” And then I felt under my other arm.

You know how you can tell you’ve been out of shape for your entire life? When you’ve only been swimming for 5 weeks and the appearance of a muscle makes you think you have breast cancer.

So, yeah. I’m getting fit. I’m losing weight and noticeably toning. I’m getting a lot more confident in the water, and I no longer drink half the pool each practice. I swam 3 times last week and I’ll likely swim 4 times this week. And I love it. Love, love, love.

One of my major sources of apprehension was about John having to take the kids for me to swim, but we found a great way around that. Now I swim at 2pm while Cole is still in school, and I take Rowan to the gym and put her in the nice drop-in daycare for an hour and a half. She has a great time with the kids and toys there, it gets her used to being in someone else’s care, and I swim entirely guilt-free without having to take John away from work or get up at 5am.

I’m still one of the slower swimmers, but my coach thinks that will change pretty quickly.  I don’t mind. My fastest and most favorite stroke is the breaststroke, and doing that I can blast past the other ladies in my lane. My backstroke is pretty strong, too. My freestyle is still kind of weak, but getting better every day, and my butterfly is non-existent. That will take some time. That’s okay.

The best part is that I really look forward to swimming, even though it’s the most difficult workout I’ve ever done. I think I may have found something I can do for the rest of my life, and that’s something I feel really good about.

Mar 30 2010

In Other Words: Life

The dog vomited illicit leftovers all over the laundry room floor and then ate them again. Rowan has entered the “Rabid Woodchuck/Vacuum Cleaner” phase of development, which will soon be followed by “Vampire Bat/Bulldozer.” Cole is at an especially whiny, particular, and demanding stage, also known as “4 years old.” John got annoyed with me that I hadn’t done laundry while the floor was covered in dog vomit (“I didn’t realize that would stop you.”), so he cleaned the house in a huff last night while I put Cole to bed (mental note: Annoy John more often. House looks great!). After some discussion, we came to the conclusion that what’s really bothering him is that we never get a break. Resolutions were made to aim for more (ANY) just us time. We need a vacation. I am absurdly busy without actually being officially “busy,” and also without feeling like I’m getting a whole lot accomplished. Except I did just find this hard, little, white thing in my left nipple (hardened milk, I guess), which goes a long way toward explaining why nursing on that side has been feeling so pinchy lately. Accomplishment of the day: Got Rid Of Milk Clump! Hooray!

Also, in swimming news: Butterfly=really hard.

Mar 25 2010

Second Child Syndrome

The Incomparable Miss. Ro from Heels on Vimeo.

Yes, Rowan is a second child, and I have posted far fewer pictures and stories about her than I did of Cole. I HAVE pictures, I just don’t get them posted.

But she’s lovely and feisty and observant and goofy and such fun. She will be a challenge, I know already, but I am also so looking forward to seeing the kind of person she will be.

She’s 8 months old now, and we can just feel her first tooth this week. Now comes the scary part of breastfeeding; the part that can end in blood and tears.

Mar 23 2010

That Happened

Where have I been? Well, I’ve been unsuccessfully dealing with mostly losing my job, that’s where.

I thought I was dealing with it well, but not so much, as it turns out. I’m sad, I’m bitter, I’m angry. It’s strange- just a short while ago I was trying to figure out how I could quit and stay with the kids. We decided that we couldn’t really afford it, but I wished it could happen. But it’s different when the loss of a job is not by choice.

Technically, I was not fired. I was placed on “on-call” status, but it still amounts to no paycheck, so it still feels a lot like being fired. The company is having a bit of trouble, and they reacted, as they always do, by firing everyone who was deemed “non-essential.” How they could view their marketing department as non-essential baffles me, but taking the long-view is not really this company’s strength, either.

So now I’m looking around. Though they say that they would like to get me working again as soon as possible, I’m tired of working for a company who clearly has such a poor appreciation for marketing and a company who is so willing to fuck around with my life. We live paycheck to paycheck in the best months. We have no savings cushion. While that’s not this company’s fault, exactly, I also can’t live with this kind of uncertainty. I have kids to feed and a mortgage to pay.

Mar 10 2010

In a Swimming Pool…

Okay, so what were my concerns? Here we go:

  1. Will my bathing suit fall off? No, it did not.
  2. Can I get my swim cap on? Yes, it went on fine after I got my hair wet (Thanks Naomi!), though being wet made me ice cold.
  3. Will my goggles leak? Nope! I brought 3 pair, just in case, but the first ones were great.
  4. Will I be able to see (my distance vision is crap anymore)? Didn’t actually matter this time, but I could not see the clock and worry that it will matter in the future.
  5. Will they laugh at me because I’m such a giant dweeb? (Dweebiness is a given, and a constant. Laughing at me because of it is likely, but not inevitable.) There was laughing, but it was by everyone, and not just directed at me. We were all nervous. And cold; very, very cold.
  6. Will I be freezing when I climb out? (Yes. Yes, I will.) Like I said. Very cold. It snowed just up the hill last night.
  7. Will the kids (mostly Rowan) freak out while I’m gone? They did pretty well. I’m not sure that Ro even knew I was gone until I got back, and then she freaked out.
  8. Will I barf? No, but I kind of wanted to.
  9. Will I drown? Nearly. Not as much of a joke as I wish it were.
  10. Will I not have shaved quite well enough? I perhaps shaved a bit too well. I didn’t want hair, but I also don’t like razor burn (ouch, and yuck).
  11. Will I crash into the other swimmers and make them drown? No, but the lane marker and I became quite intimate a number of times.
  12. Will I just be terrible, making them recommend that I leave before I hurt myself or others? I started by recommending that the teacher put me in the slowest group (no, really), but he didn’t listen and I was not asked to leave.
  13. What if I have to pee? Decided to not drink for a few hours before I went to class. I say “decided” like the fact isn’t that I just forgot. I do that a lot.
  14. What if I come up and have boogers all over my face? Never noticed that I did, but there are no mirrors, either. No one told me or discretely motioned to me that there was anything unsightly.
  15. I don’t know if I can dive anymore. Not a problem. No diving in class, it seems. Only in competition (NOT going there).
  16. Am I a dork if I don’t dive and instead just hop into the pool? No, that just means I’m a follower.

The class was great. Just great. The people were nice, the instructor was good, the swimming was comfortable. Mostly. I think I drank half the pool my first trip down the lane, which is why I kind of wanted to barf, but then it went pretty smoothly. That first trip down… I don’t know what happened. I ran out of breath and didn’t notice soon enough or something. My body started taking a breath while my face was still in the water, but luckily I swallowed it and came up instead of having it go into my lungs. I didn’t even cough. It was gross, but I tried to just brush it off and keep going.

I did not suck as much as I thought I would, and I actually think that I will benefit from my lack of experience. No experience=no bad habits, which seems to be most people’s biggest problem.

I was sorry when the class was over, and I’m looking forward to going back. The first class was on the slow side because he was mostly evaluating our abilities, so I don’t feel as much today as I expected to. I’m used to much longer exercise classes, so maybe I won’t really feel it with a 45 minute class. Maybe I will when the class picks up. We’ll see.

In summary, Master’s Swimming=Awesome. I’m so excited.

Mar 08 2010

Swimming, Swimming…

Today is the day. I’m nervous and excited.

My dad was trying to help me by telling me not to worry about the competitive aspect of it, but that’s not actually my concern. I know that I am competitive, but I worked hard years ago to turn off that part of myself (for better and worse).  No, my bigger concerns are more like

  1. Will my bathing suit fall off?
  2. Can I get my swim cap on?
  3. Will my goggles leak?
  4. Will I be able to see (my distance vision is crap anymore)?
  5. Will they laugh at me because I’m such a giant dweeb? (Dweebiness is a given, and a constant. Laughing at me because of it is likely, but not inevitable.)
  6. Will I be freezing when I climb out? (Yes. Yes, I will.)
  7. Will the kids (mostly Rowan) freak out while I’m gone?
  8. Will I barf?
  9. Will I drown?
  10. Will I not have shaved quite well enough?
  11. Will I crash into the other swimmers and make them drown?
  12. Will I just be terrible, making them recommend that I leave before I hurt myself or others?
  13. What if I have to pee?
  14. What if I come up and have boogers all over my face?
  15. I don’t know if I can dive anymore.
  16. Am I a dork if I don’t dive and instead just hop into the pool?

I’ll stop there, though the list goes on forever in my head.

I’m going to break with tradition and actually tag these swimming posts so that anyone who is interested in Masters Swimming can read them all in one go.

I’ll also attempt to update tonight after my class. Attempt. But I may be too busy waxing my whole body after that embarrassing incident.

Mar 04 2010

So That’s How I Feel About That.

We got a call this morning; one of the more unexpected calls we’ve ever gotten. John’s sister was on the line and, being 7:30 am, my brain’s “BIG FAMILY NEWS” detector went off.

She’s pregnant. With her third baby. Her other two children are 9 and 7. After she told me during the Superbowl that she was SO DONE having kids, with no regret.

After I had Cole, I closed myself to the idea of ever having more kids. I was more than fine with one. One was great! And then he was 2 1/2, and one kid wasn’t so fine with me anymore. Cole was still wonderful, of course, and if he was the only child I ever had, the world would certainly not end. But maybe, I thought, we could have one more little bundle of perfection, and that, in turn, would make everything else about our little family more perfect.

And then came Rowan, and she did. Life is that much better with her in it.

And so I questioned my new limit of two babies. If two are wonderful, what would three be? Am I really, really, for sure and ever after DONE?

So when we got the call this morning and I noted my reaction to the news, I had a moment of clarity. Yes. I am DONE. So done. And while I never say never anymore (I’m tired of the taste of foot in my mouth), I will say that there is the very slimmest of chances, which pretty much amounts to no chance at all, that John and I will ever have more children.

I am happy for them if they are happy, and they genuinely seem to be. But it’s not for me. I am content to be an observer of their excitement; to be a hand-me-down-er instead of just a receiver; to be an auntie again to another beautiful, amazing child (I already have three nieces and nephews that I get to see regularly).

And this way, I get to cuddle a new baby and then do that wonderful thing- give it back to its mother.

Mar 04 2010

Mr. Mysterioso

I came back to my computer this morning to find that somebody had clicked on all kinds of random stuff and opened up a bunch of strange pages. This certain someone also did a google search on the phrase “cole y8r7fuudfyuyfudyfufyuyfyffdfdfuyfiuyriytvyguyyifuiofuriuo b” which, shockingly, found zero results.

Any guesses who this mystery culprit might be?