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Friday, May 11, 2012


So the past two weeks have been an adventure.

The Gaskell Ball was not a stunning success, but not a total abject failure either.
At the ball with Scott and Jess
It was a feat not to be repeated anytime soon. It turns out, I am not superhuman. I cannot take care of an infant, teach a dance class, host out of town family and make sure they get introduced to others for dancing, pump breast milk privately (due to nursing strike), eat, get myself and Athena dressed for the ball, take money at the door, and dance with friends. It is too much. I managed to accomplish taking care of an infant, pumping, eating bad drive-thru food, taking money at the door, and had one waltz that made it two-thirds of the way around the room. By 11, Athena and I were exhausted. Erik got a ride to our hotel room for the night where two hours later I was still handling the unload car, feed baby, change baby, pump, shower things when he got in. Athena went to sleep around midnight and I followed her an hour later. She slept in til 10, which was a godsend. The only thing that could repair me at that point was a decent night's rest, and save for getting up at 5 to pump again, that's just what I got.

We had dim sum with Scott and Jess the next morning at my favorite dim sum place on Webster. After that, we thought to go for a walk on the beach, then hit the Pinball Museum, but Athena wanted nothing to do with that, so she and I detoured to Julie's and I fed her and relaxed with an iced decaf espresso. This is where she discovered the wonder that is a ceiling fan. She's an easy baby to get along with, but when mom is a tad frayed around the edges, a gloriously fascinating ceiling fan totally made my day.
It is the most amazing thing I've ever seen!
Next we headed to Forbidden Island for my first tasty FI rum drink in a year. We did a swap with Alex and Sherman where Sherman and Erik went for an hour while we watched the girls, then Alex and I followed when they came back. And the Jet Pilot was every bit as delicious as I remember. We wrapped up our day by walking over to Spaghetti Sunday where Scott and Jess got to see what our friends are really like, all gathered together in a small space, noshing, talking, and chasing kids.
On our way to Spaghetti Sunday
Monday and Tuesday were spent in a whirlwind of preparation to return to work and extreme anxiety. I was not in any way ready to go back, but time was up and there was nothing else to be done about it. I had commitments starting Wednesday morning and my partner was heading to Puerto Rico before I got back. It was just time to suck it up and go do it. Tuesday night, I crawled into bed in the guest room before Athena went to sleep and put in my earplugs to try to get some rest before heading to work. Erik was on duty til I got home the next evening.

Wednesday I hauled myself out of bed at an unacceptable hour, quietly fussed around the house to get ready, and loaded up with breast pump bag, computer bag, bottle storage freezer bag, and purse, headed out. I poked my head into our room to see if Erik or Athena were awake. Athena was asleep in her bassinet, but Erik was up, and had been up for hours with a cup of tea and a pile of Kleenex. My jaw dropped. Really? Yeah. He'd been trying to hide that he was getting sick because he figured it would have just freaked me out more, which is not inaccurate. I said, "Well, I guess it is what it is" and skipped kissing him goodbye as I headed off to Stanford. Turns out there was an accident on 280, so it took me over an hour and a half to get to campus. As I loaded up my bags to trek to the Alumni Center for the annual IT Open House (where I would magically transform from new mom to Zimbra and Mobile Device Management expert), I started crying. I was late. Erik was sick. Athena really needed me. This was stupid. And what the hell am I doing? I grabbed my info packet and headed in, then after a few quick hellos, stashed some stuff at my table and shut myself in the bathroom off the kitchen and pumped while handling morning email. At least it was a single-user restroom with a heavy door an a lock and room to drag in a chair, so I sat with the laptop balanced on the sink and machine suctioned onto my boobs. So this was how it was going to be.

Thirty minutes later, I emerged and stashed pump and milk under the table and became the expert. I answered questions about migration to Google and quota and MDM installation and how was the baby and who is she staying with. It was a good mix, and I was certainly in my usual element. But the IT Open House is a marathon. It opens at 10 and closes at 2 and prior years have taught me that I shouldn't expect to have time to even go to the bathroom. This year was no different. I started anxiously watching the clock at about 10 after 1. It had been 3 hours, and Athena usually wants to eat every couple of hours, so this was getting longish. By 2, I was packing up my laptop and running out the door, blowing off colleagues who wanted to chat. Sure, I had to pee, but really, it's bigger than that. In the interim, I'd gotten an email back from the Alumni HR manager and went to find her to get access to the lactation room. I spent the next half hour in a telephone room that is also the gym clothes changing room and the lactation room. At least it had a lock and a desk table, even if it did smell like sweaty gym socks. I ate my lunch, caught up on email again, and tried to regroup a bit. I had a big meeting at 4 and I had to be super professional girl again for a few more hours. I guess there are some folks who come by that naturally - they are their career and it doesn't feel like putting on a costume, but for me, it's a big change of language, carriage, and expression. Step one: keep all insightful analysis (otherwise known as snarky comments) to myself. It's been a few months and I was out of practice, but it was coming back.

So I survived day one. Upon getting home, Erik and Athena were happy to see me. Athena was more than happy to slurp down the boob juice straight from the tap, and I had plenty to share. Erik was exhausted and miserable. We slogged through dinner and off to bed so that we could do it all again tomorrow. And the next day. Oh boy. And the next two days were indeed adventures. Thursday morning I forgot to pick out clothes the night before, so I had to sneak in past the bassinet and pick out an outfit very quietly in the dark. I left for work well before 7 so that I could pick up Athena at 4. Thursday night, Erik's class ends at 10:30. This means I'm on my own from when I pick up Athena from him at Foothill until after my bedtime, but not necessarily after Athena's bedtime. Luckily, she obliged me by going to sleep around 10, and then I scrambled around the house and climbed in myself and got at least mostly asleep before Erik got home at 11. On Friday, I slept a little later and felt fairly confident leaving the house. I pulled in around 8:15 and opened the hatch to find that I had my pump, freezer bag, purse, and no computer bag. Sigh. I managed to wing it for the day with the Windows 7 computer we use for VoIP training. Life went on, and I got some things done, even if it wasn't all I'd planned on.

Normally this would be the end of the week and we'd sigh and say better luck next week and all would be well, but Erik had a meeting on campus at 9 a.m., so he handed me the freshly wakened baby and ran off to Foothill for four hours. When he got home, I sent him off to take a nap and continue recovering from his cold. When my mom called asking about Mother's Day plans and driving to Sac, I just had to say, "Maybe. We can't commit." At the time, I couldn't imagine driving to Sac and back a week later.

The very good news was the Erik's mom was flying in on Monday. She's a godsend.
Athena and Karen with Athena's new hat. Thanks Karen!

She arrived and we all headed to dinner at Aqui. With good food under our belts, we made a big change that has been a long time coming: Athena moved from her bassinet to her crib. We figured with Karen there, we'd see how it went. Athena slept happily through the night, waking just in time for me to nurse her before running off to work. Meanwhile, Karen was up and happy to take Athena, so Erik got some much needed additional rest, which was a welcome birthday treat. At the end of the day, I came home and found the living room neatly tidied up and our laundry folded and Athena happy as a clam even with Erik off to class. Karen made a birthday dinner for Erik of pork ragout and strawberry shortcake.  On Wednesday, everyone shuffled out to have lunch with me at Stanford. We had a little more excitement than planned because Athena's diaper wallet was accidentally left at home. After a little strategizing over lunch, I emailed the Parent-Net list on campus asking if anyone had a spare size 1 or 2 diaper. Luckily, a woman in Gilbert Hall had two spare in her desk, and her son was wearing size 4s now, so she was very happy to let me have them. A quick change and Athena went from lightly fussy to naptime. We took Karen out to see the main quad and then I went back to work. In the evening, Karen babysat Athena and Erik and I got to go see The Avengers (which I'm sure everyone knows is completely awesome). We had Pizza My Heart in the Camera 7 theater in the comfy front row with Kev and Rachel and all was right in the world. Meanwhile, Athena fell asleep hard before we got home and couldn't be roused to have final eats, so we fully expected a middle of the night wake up. I pumped before heading off to bed instead. She'd also fallen asleep without being in her swaddler, so this was her first night without that as well. She slept soundly until 4:30, and I got up and nursed her, then handed her off to Erik to burp and rock back to sleep. She took the slot I normally use to pump overnight, so that was pretty awesome all in all. She slept in til 9 after that.

The next day, Karen was heading home. It was too short a trip, but she left us with two turkey meatloafs and mashed potatoes for dinner on the stove, freshly folded laundry, and a happy, well-napped baby. Athena and I took Karen to the airport and went home to spend our second Thursday evening with Daddy out late and mommy having to go to work in the morning. She once again nodded off for me at a few minutes after 10, not quite making it through her last 2 ounces of milk before all systems shut down. When it's bedtime for this girl, she's out and there is no stopping it. Again, she slept without swaddler in her crib in her room and she woke right at 7 after a full night's sleep. We really do have an amazingly awesome baby.

So let's see, the past few weeks included:
 - a visit from Erik's brother and sister-in-law
 - Athena's first Gaskell Ball
 - me going back to work
 - Erik becoming full-time daily caregiver
 - a visit from grandma (or Gigi Karen as she prefers to be called)
 - Athena learning to grab for toys
 - Athena moving to her crib
 - Athena sleeping through the night without a swaddler

In my fantasy world, we will have a nice relaxing weekend at home with no major changes or adventures. But then I remember that's never going to happen. The only constant is change.


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