Wednesday, December 26, 2012

10 Weeks Is a Long Time Until It's Over

My maternity leave is over. I had 10 lovely, fully-paid weeks off, which sounded awesome 10 weeks ago but now it seems too soon to be leaving my little guy without his life-sustaining breasts for eight or more hours at a time.

The baby and I have been sleeping late, so I am anticipating a lot of pain tomorrow when my alarm--which I haven't used in 10 weeks--goes off at 7:30. Not that he sleeps through the night to late mornings, no no no. I am lucky to get a 5-hour stretch. But in the mornings he feeds a little, sleeps a little, and we cuddle. I already can't wait for the weekend so I can do that again.

Now you may be wondering how I am blogging on my first day back from maternity leave. Actually last week I called my boss and begged him to let me start back tomorrow instead. I realized that it would ruin my Christmas to have to get ready to go back to work the next day. He agreed, thankfully and gave me a file to "work on" "from home," so long as I'm in for a few hours tomorrow. I don't have full-time child care until January 2 so I will be mostly working from home for the three work days until then. I probably don't need to mention that my boss is awesome and I love my boss.

But I still work at a law firm and I have two briefs due between now and January 3. Sad face. So much for easing back into it. I am the most junior attorney in my group, however, so I'm sure the attorney covering for me was not exactly thrilled and when it came to writing briefs over the holidays she was not feeling generous. Although she only has about six months on me--well, six months and 10 weeks--and we are hiring so I won't be the rookiest rookie much longer.

More good news: my full-time child care? It's my husband. He's been working in "a job" at the hospital for about a year and half now that has lots of great benefits but no real future. He's staying on per diem and will work 8-16 hours a month, but will otherwise be a full-time dad. I am so relieved to have this convenience, not to mention the benefit of my son's getting care from one of us. I'm sure this will be challenging in a lot of ways too. We'll see.

For now I just can't wait to come home from work asking, "Really? That's ALL you did today?"

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Milkscreen Alchohol in Breastmilk Test Strips Are a Useless Waste of Your Money

I will admit to watching some terrible TV. For a good stretch of years I didn't even own a TV. I lived alone or lived in other people's houses and even some of those houses didn't have a TV. But now I can't imagine living without TV. Yesterday we were out running errands and then had dinner with family and I couldn't wait to get home to flip on the boob tube. Sad, I know.

These are my favorite shows right now, all on cable: Intervention, Chopped, Top Chef, The League and The Daily Show. None of which I would call terrible TV. But every once in a while I will happily come across Keeping Up with the Kardashians, or some terrible K-themed spin-off. And I love to watch it.

So on on of those episodes Courtney, excuse me Kourtney, got drunk while she was still nursing Mason. (Don't act like you don't know who Mason is. Or what I'm about to talk about next.) She was obviously pretty tips; she didn't just have a glass or two of wine while having dinner. She pulled out a product called Milkscreen that purportedly tests breastmilk for the presence of alcohol. And it tested positive of course and she was drunk and laughing about it.

That was my first introduction to these nifty little test strips. Then more recently the wife on The League* came home wasted from a night out and she tried to get past her babysitting mother in law to nurse the baby but the MIL made her take a Milkscreen test first.

Call me impressionable, but I bought a box. And the outside of the package looks nice and says nice things like "Peace of mind so you can breastfeed with confidence." The test strips "detect the presence of alcohol" in your breastmilk. Now I like my glass of wine. When the lactation consultant in breastfeeding class asked for questions my hand shot up first to ask, "Can we drink?" And she said to feed the baby, then have a glass of wine.

I did not ask if I could have a glass of wine. Like that was even negotiable. I wanted to know about two or three glasses of wine. (With dinner! Over the course of two or three hours!) No one in the medical profession wants to answer this question or find out how to answer this question. But here is this product that will answer this question for you!

Then you open the package and read about how to use it and how it works and you realize that they are not kidding when they say "detect the presence." You are warned not to have any open cleaning products nearby because alcohol fumes could produce a positive result. (Because who doesn't have open cleaning products next to their open bottles of wine and breastmilk?) The test detects alcohol at the level of 13 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). I don't know what that means either. But it translates into a blood-alcohol content of 0.013. The legal BAC limit in most states is .08, or 80 mg/dL. I thought the Wiki page did a good job of explaining this. The chart on the page explains that with a BAC of 0.010-0.029, the average person appears normal and impairment can only be determined with special tests to detect the "subtle effects" of alcohol ingestion at this level.

So basically Milkscreen can tell you if you have had a glass of wine. In case you forgot. And it will only cost you $1.25 for each reminder.

What an insane rip-off! OK, the amount of the rip-off makes it not really insane ($25 for 20 test strips), but the logic behind this product is not logic at all and I am calling it insane because the product is so stupid. And I would like to call it by its name Milkscreen a few more times so that my review here might come up in search results. So far everyone who has "reviewed" Milkscreen has called it an essential tool in the nursing mother's toolkit. For reals? It is USELESS. And what I really object to is that it seems to suggest that if your test is positive, then it is unsafe to feed your baby. But NO ONE has ever said that a BAC of 0.013 is equal to impairment of the variety that will affect your breastmilk. So the product developers, at MILKSCREEN, selected an arbitrary number, a very low number, and in my opinion created more CONFUSION and GUILT over whether or not I can have a freakin' glass of wine before I feed my baby. Because every time I try to "feed the baby, then have a glass of wine," he wakes up and decides to feed again 14 minutes after the end of the last feeding.

Well, Milkscreen messed with the wrong lawyer mommy who likes her glass of wine. I called the company (it's made by Upspring Baby in Austin, Texas. You may or may not know UpSpring Baby by its riDONKulous Hipshrinkx product--"clinically proven" to push your hips back to pre-baby size in the first 8 weeks post-partum--um, yeah, it's called HAVING the baby. But I digress.) to request a refund. The customer service rep was nice enough but explained that since I did not buy the product directly from them, they would not issue a refund. If I wanted I could write to the company (I asked) and he diplomatically replied that the company values feedback but does not issue refunds for customer dissatisfaction. I would have to take that up with the place of purchase. Which was Babies R Us and bless them for saying "sure, here's your money back" for the opened and partially used yet useless product. (I was performing my own "clinical trials.")

At my most fired-up, I wanted to contact the attorney general in my state and initiate a lawsuit for false advertising. After spending the last 20 minutes bashing the product--it's called Milkscreen--I don't really care anymore. But ladies, do NOT buy it. It is a waste of your money and a waste of your energy worrying over whether it's "safe" to nurse your baby after a glass of wine.

Spend the money on a nice glass of wine instead.

*Actually this may be terrible TV. There is some bathroom humor and a lot of sexist jokes that can make me cringe. Maybe sometimes out of recognition. Ouch. And there is only one female character on the show and I can't even remember her name.   

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Least Most Vulnerable

So I was walking in the park yesterday, where there is a gravel path. And I got sick of the stroller bouncing around in the gravel, with the little guy's head bouncing right along with it, so I took to the road for a stretch. The path and road are close to each other and parallel. There are some things you can drive to, but keep in mind this is a park. Okay.

As I was walking along I passed an older man walking towards me. He was tall and lean and looked like he could be a Vietnam vet or something. We nodded politely at each other. As I continued, there came a time when I was aligned with two oncoming cars. Naturally they both had to slow a bit so we could all fit across. The speed limit is posted at 20, but naturally no one drives the speed limit, especially when the speed limit is 20. After the car going my direction got about 10 yards past me, the driver leaned out slightly and sort of softly said, "The walking path is over there."

I thought for a moment and then just sort of waved in his direction. Like, thanks but no thanks. Then I thought some more. Do you think he told the Vietnam vet where the path was? Or the next guy I passed walking towards me on the road, the young one with about 220 pounds of muscle?

No, we only pick on people we think are weaker than we are. That was my realization.

That was my experience working as a hostess in a restaurant. A man at the door is the owner, a woman at the door is just a "doh ho" (i.e. door whore). She is probably an idiot with minimal competence at her job and in life. Why else does she work as a greeter at a restaurant?

But then I thought, what if I had been in a wheelchair? That guy would not have told me where the "walking path" was. It seems to me that a woman with a baby stroller is the least most vulnerable person to pick on. She's physically capable, and most likely "just a mom." If you think there's nothing wrong with being "just a mom," I agree with you. But when was the last time you heard those words and took it as a compliment?

So I had my first "I'm just a mom" moment. And I didn't feel so bad about going back to work in a month.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hello, My Name Is...

I started law school when I was 30, graduating at 33. My biological clock* starting ticking at about age 28-29. At that time I was dating a d-bag, dabbling in a wayward career as a media relations/media buyer/media sales rep (see what I mean?), and had no desire to be pegged in a traditional relationship. When the d-bag asked me where I was going to law school, I replied that I got the feeling it was irrelevant to him and me, and I think that became our only actual break-up conversation. I left his town for New York City.

Quite unluckily for me I entered law school in 2007, which put me in one of the worst positions for law students of all time. Only the class of 2011 could have paid more tuition for a shittier job market. But that is neither here nor there. What do you do when you graduate from law school? Try to find a job as a lawyer in a high-paying city. What do you do when you are a 33-year-old single woman who wants kids? Fling yourself desperately at any man who'll respond to your profile.

And when both of those things go horribly wrong--somehow!--you find yourself in your hometown with a sweet hometown boy, with a life that looks not unlike the plot in Sweet Home Alabama. :)

*I hate this term and don't really believe in using it, mostly because it is used to make women who want kids feel bad about themselves. It's in the genre of "soccer moms," which a lot of people will tell you is not pejorative. Um, sure, you just keep telling yourself that while also calling things you don't like "gay" and "retarded."