Black Eye :(

redacted shinerMy baby has a black eye.  I mean that in the literal sense, not that his reputation was besmirched or anything like that.

I‘m told that he climbed onto a basket (toys are kept in plastic baskets at daycare) and fell off the basket, face-first onto a block.  Apparently there was blood and crying.  Daycare called my husband, who went there and checked on Punkie.  Then my husband called me and told me what happened.  He also tried to warn me that he seemed alright but it looked bad.

I know getting a shiner was very painful for Punkie and being injured for the first time (aside from a couple of bruises) was probably very scary for him.  But he’s okay now.  He was a little clingy for a few days, but he really is okay now.

Now that I know he’s okay, I can admit that this whole episode was very upsetting to me, on several levels.  First, my baby was hurt.  I regret very much that someone else, not me, was there to comfort him and clean him up.  This is a really emotional thing for me, I guess.

Second, I didn’t know until my husband had gone to daycare and then called me.  So, the kid’s mother is the last one to know that Punkie is bleeding from the eye.  We had considered this type of situation when we chose this daycare.  We knew that this daycare was highly recommended and that it was very close to one of us during the day and that one of us could be there quickly if needed.  It all made such logical sense in the abstract.  When Punkie hurt himself, everything went as we had planned . . . and that, it turns out, feels terrible.

Three, I can’t stand that I’m so upset with myself over this – the kid is fine.  For real.  And here I am, three days later, still stewing over it and whining on my blog.  Look at the photo I posted above – he’s smiling.  That photo was taken 3 hours after the injury happened and he’s smiling.  How serious could the injury be?  Serious enough to make me a nut case, apparently.

Oh, but why is he smiling, you ask?  This brings us full circle to my first point – he’s smiling because his mommy (me) picked him up from daycare that day and he wanted nothing more than to be hugged and held by her.  And I wasn’t there when it happened – someone else was.  Someone who doesn’t love him cleaned up the blood, held ice on his face, and snuggled with him.

The good news is that he’s okay now.  He has a shiner that my dad can have a good laugh over (“[Punkie] is a boxer for Halloween,” “you should see the other guy,” etc.) and it’ll be a topic of fond conversation in the (distant) future, when we all look back at the photos from my sister’s wedding and see a smiling, black-eyed baby in a bow tie.

Care.com – service review

I recently hired our first babysitter.  I had no idea how to find a babysitter on my own.  In my mind, it had to be more than letting out a big, terrified sigh and hiring the 11-year old next door to watch my baby.

Someone suggested trying care.com and I’m glad they did.  The site makes it easy to find a variety of babysitters who want to hear from you.  It gives you a bio and a calendar of availability for each and then allows you to send a message to a candidate.  The calendar of availability is key to saving me the time and effort of messaging candidates who just aren’t available when I need someone.  It also gave information about the rates each candidate would charge and whether they have certain certifications (e.g., CPR).

The coverage for my town was very good – there were many candidates to choose from.  And there are links to additional information for people new to the babysitting world, like guidelines on when you have to pay taxes on a babysitter’s services, or suggested questions to ask when you interview a babysitter candidate.  Care.com even lets you request a background check.  For real.

Care.com is a paid service, but I can stop paying once I have relationships established.  If something happens, like a babysitter moves away or something, I can sign back up and start again.

Mommy’s Milestone – First Babysitter

This is going to sound preposterous, but Punkie is 10 1/2 months old and we just hired our first babysitter.

We’ve asked family to watch Punkie occasionally, but this is the first time we hired someone to watch the kid.  He seemed to really enjoy it, like a play date.

In contrast to all the talk of baby’s milestones, this is a big milestone for me.  I had some admittedly anxious moments around leaving Punkie with a babysitter, but we interviewed her, I called references, and I submitted the background check request on care.com.  It seems like we picked a good one.

I’m disappointed that the reason I hired the babysitter to watch Punkie is so I can work over the weekend, but it’s good to have someone available.  Maybe we can go to a movie.  Or a restaurant.  Both?  Wow, that would something.

Champion Power Napper?

Punkie is exhaustedPunkie isn’t sleeping enough.  During the week, he just doesn’t sleep much at daycare.  For example, he slept for 20 minutes yesterday and less than 45 the day before.  Sometimes in the evening, before bedtime, he abruptly stops playing and just lays down on the floor (like in this photo).  By the weekend, he is usually completely wiped out and he tends to take marathon naps to catch up.

And he isn’t sleeping all that wonderfully at night.  Some nights, he is excellent – he sleeps straight through to the alarm.  A lot of other nights, though, he wakes up yelling or, if he sleeps through, he wakes up ready to start his day one or two hours before the alarm.  We’re talking before 4AM, people.

The small amount of sleep would be fine if he seemed to be doing okay, but he’s really tired.  The poor guy is tuckered out.

What’s happening is that, during the day at daycare, they don’t have the time or ability to sit with him until he falls asleep.  He seems to need that in order to fall asleep.  On a weekend, if I sit with him for maybe 10 minutes when he’s tired, he’ll fall asleep and stay asleep for an hour or more.  At daycare, he’s now one of the older babies and the staff is spending time with younger babies who just need more attention.  For a while, daycare insisted on swaddling him (an 8 month old baby), even though I told them to stop, probably because of this very issue.

And, to add insult to injury, they called him the champion of the power nap.  Really?  Obviously there is a problem here and it just makes it worse when they make light of it.

Not to take a snarky detour here, but the newer crop of young babies seem to be especially needy.  In fact, at least two of them are screaming every time my husband picks Punkie up or drops him off.  Does the poor kid listen to screaming every day?  This can’t be good for him – it must be very stressful to listen to that continuously all day.  And what kind of impact does that have on him?  I have no idea.

This is really breaking my heart.  Often, I wonder if I should quit my job and stay home with him so he gets what he needs.  The staff at daycare are really nice women who seem very, very fond of Punkie, but they just aren’t his mother.  But, if I stayed home with him, WOULD he get what he needs?  He would lack the social interaction that he really seems to enjoy.

I wonder if this kind of guilt and second guessing is felt by all working moms.

Maybe this is a problem with this particular daycare, but I suspect it’s like this everywhere.  The state mandates one staff member for every 4 babies, so the daycares in our area all staff 1:4.  We’d have to hire a nanny to have a smaller ratio.  When we originally set up child care for Punkie, I opted for a daycare because of the lower cost and because I was concerned about one person being alone with Punkie all day without any supervision – a nanny can be wonderful, but another nanny can abuse, neglect, or injure your child.

My husband and I recently toured another daycare that was highly recommended by one of my husband’s colleagues.  I think we’re going to switch when an opening is available at the new place.  It’s so unclear, though, if that’s the right decision.  First, there’s the potential of upsetting Punkie with an abrupt change in his day-to-day routine, baby friends, and teachers.  Second, the grass might not be greener – it’s possible that this daycare has the same issues or, heaven forbid, worse issues.    I just don’t know.

This is What I’m Talking About

No sooner did I hit “Publish” on my last blog, “Is Egg Freezing the Key to Gender Equality,” in which I talked about what it will take to make women equal participants in the work force, did I come across this gem:

http://abovethelaw.com/2014/10/judge-refuses-to-postpone-hearing-because-maternity-leave-isnt-a-good-enough-excuse/

This is what I’m talking about.  I have heard so many of these stories in the context of the legal profession.  I have lived a few of them myself.  Until now, my favorite was from my first job out of law school with a BIGLAW firm – a colleague of mine was a litigator and she was required to wear a skirt of a very specific length (it couldn’t be too long – yes, you read that correctly) when she appeared before one particular judge in town.  During that time, I can say without exception that every single time I saw a woman leave the office at night (yes, NIGHT) to pick up her children or decline to work a Saturday because of a family commitment, her dedication to the firm and to her career was questioned.  Similarly, when a male attorney declined to work a Saturday due to a family commitment, he was considered to be “a great guy.”

In this story on Above The Law, a female sole practitioner had the NERVE to try to take six weeks of maternity leave.  As a sole practitioner, she didn’t have partners to cover her court appearance so she filed a motion for continuance in an immigration case.  Many immigration cases take YEARS to work through the courts, so asking for a six week postponement (less in this case) is not a lot of time.  And her clients and opposing counsel were all cool with it.  Don’t get me started on how six weeks is a completely inadequate maternity leave, but, nevertheless, that’s all she was looking for.

The judge sat on her motion for some time and then denied it one week before the hearing (after the kid was born).  Apparently, in his opinion, having a child is not “good cause” to postpone a hearing.  Like she had asked to postpone because she had a hair appointment that day.

Having no choice but to appear in court on short notice, she appeared in court with the baby.  She was new in town and didn’t have family nearby, her husband was out of town, and a day care center will not accept a child younger than 6 weeks of age.  Of course they won’t, because only a complete and total asshat expects the mother to go back to work that soon after having a baby.

THEN, in open court, the judge humiliated this lawyer by questioning her parenting skills . . . because she appeared in court as required by the same judge.

So, let me draw some conclusions about this judge’s perspective: (1) a competent lawyer cannot accept clients while pregnant, (2) a competent lawyer cannot take maternity leave without withdrawing from the practice of law entirely, and (3) when a judge, knowing an attorney just had a baby, compels a lawyer to appear and she is forced to appear with a baby in tow, it’s the attorney’s fault.  Interesting.

How it is that a profession who, above all others, ought to know better, is so often on the “HEY I’M A STUPID JERK” side of this issue?

This story makes me so angry.

On the bright side, I am pleased to see that this lawyer filed a complaint against this judge.  I hope they require this idiot judge to at least pretend he’s a better person in the future.

On the very bright side, this lawyer can now go work for Facebook and they’ll reimburse her for the cost of getting her eggs frozen . . . so she won’t have to inconvenience anyone with pregnancies until she’s older.

Is Egg Freezing the Key to Gender Equality?

I saw an article this week that talked about how Facebook and Apple are offering a new benefit to their employees through health insurer Aenta.  They will cover the cost of a woman electing to freeze her eggs so presumably she can have children via IVF later in life.

Wow, I have very mixed feelings about this.  On the one hand, I appreciate an employer who recognizes that some of their employees are struggling with life/work balance issues and they’re attempting (at not insignificant expense) to help them with it. And maybe this is some kind of genuine, albeit ham-handed, attempt by a male-dominated industry to recruit women.

Some women will benefit from this very much.  They really will.  And this is a good thing.

However, I read an article that speculated whether this move will create gender equality in the workplace.  Lets not get carried away here.  It isn’t the condition of a woman’s eggs that creates an environment where she makes less money than a man doing the same work.  It’s a whole lot more than that.

I can’t help but think that paying for women in the workforce to freeze their eggs is just avoiding what is really needed to help women balance families and careers.  We need affordable, quality child care in this country.  We need paid maternity leave guaranteed by law.  We need decisions around a woman’s health (including birth control) to be solely between her and her doctor.  And, of course, we need equal pay for equal work.

A lot of loyal employees at Apple and Facebook are going to freeze their eggs, dust themselves off, and go back to work.  But when are they going to find the perfect time to get pregnant and pop that kid out?

As someone who personally delayed having children, I don’t know if it’s easier now, at this later stage in life, than it would have been when I was younger.  I may make a little bit more money now, but I still pay an arm and a leg for child care and I still took an unpaid maternity leave that was just too short.  But now I am older and have less energy at the end of a long day.  And I’m still trying to figure out how to get it all done at work and at home, just like a younger me would have had to do.

Also, not to get too dark here, but am I the only one who wonders what message these companies are sending to young women entering their workforces?  To me, it seems like the message is that these women will need to delay having families in order to be successful at those companies.

In any case, I do very much support whatever a company wants to do to allow its employees to make their own decisions about when to have a family.  I just don’t think we should read too much into this egg-freezing-as-an-employer-benefit trend.

Lawyer Mom Has Skills

Many people from all walks of life are good mothers – “free to be you and me” and all that. But I think being a lawyer has, to some degree, given me a head-start on motherhood.

I long suspected being a mom wasn’t the romantic dreamscape that so many women describe. I don’t know why women do that to themselves and others – the truth is that motherhood can also be exhausting and stressful. I don’t know anything worthwhile that isn’t imperfect and difficult sometimes, so I’m not surprised.

But I think there are some skills that help a mom work through the less dreamy parts of the job and being a lawyer has given me some of those.

My thoughts on this:

  1. BS Detector – My profession has taught me, among other things, that even my own client will lie to me. I don’t take it personally, but I have worked over the years to hone my BS detecting skills. Punkie had a “great day” at day care 5 days in a row? Uh huh – I call bullshit. Nobody has a great day every day. Your kid walked by five months of age? Interesting tale, but I call bullshit, unless he’s Clark Kent. Is your kid Clark Kent? I didn’t think so. I can’t wait until Punkie starts talking because I think I’ll enjoy a worthy BS adversary.
  1. Advocacy – I haven’t had to advocate all that much for Punkie yet, but I’m going to be a gladiator for that toothless, melon-headed little angel. I’m suiting up right now for an anticipated issue around which classroom Punkie’s day care will move him to when he begins walking, which I expect to be soon. I threw the first volley over the wall today and am waiting to see what the response will be. If the response is not what I need to hear, then the game is on.
  1. Drudgery – Being a mom isn’t all smiles and adventure. A lot of the tasks around taking care of Punkie are drudgery. But drudgery doesn’t stop me. I’ve negotiated every single provision of a 211 page contract. I’ve reviewed vast quantities of documents for 18 hours at a stretch – I’m talking conference rooms full of banker boxes, each stuffed with paper (yes, I’m banker-box-discovery-old). I studied for and passed two bar exams – I studied for the second exam at night after full days/evenings of work. I took trusts and estates and federal tax law courses in law school – that’s boring WITH MATH. If you think moving all of the next-size-up clothing into a closet or picking the same toy up off the floor 1,324 times in are row are boring, well, I can do those things all day.
  1. Deadlines – My life revolves around a to-do list and a schedule that is revised and refreshed many times each day. Everything I do has a deadline and nothing motivates me like a solid deadline. The kid needs a meal, or larger shoes, or to go to the doctor – these are all tasks with deadlines. I can schedule the hell out of those things like a champion. On the calendar, Punkie’s things are green and they’re all marked “high priority.” Check. Check. Check.
  1. Sleep Deprivation – I have trained with the best when it comes to sleep deprivation. My sleep deprivation training is akin to a chef training with someone who has 3 Michelin stars, or a football player who has trained with a Heisman Trophy winner, or a race car driver who learned everything he knows from Mario Andretti. Sure, I admit to a few dark moments when Punkie was a newborn, but I feel strongly that those fleeting moments were caused by a C-section and Oxycodone. Take this week for example. Punkie woke me up almost every night this week and, each time, he was unwilling to go back to sleep (I think he’s about to have a tooth break through). But I get up and go to work and keep going and then I get up the next night and take care of Punkie.  I’ll do this as long as it takes – if I need more coffee, I’ll get coffee. If I eventually go insane, so be it. It won’t stop me from crushing it again tomorrow.