…. Decided

I’ve given it a lot of thought, although really it only took me the car ride home that Friday to come up with a decision (probably about the only perk of a long commute – lots of time to think).

I’m going back to work. IF my company is on board with me working from home the majority of the time.

I owe it to myself, to try out working parenthood before I lose the momentum of experience. I owe it to our family to take advantage of the maternity leave that’s being offered to me. By coming back to work, I’ll essentially finish the full year out. I’ll ensure another year’s worth of experience and I’ll help our little family towards Luffy’s long-term goal for us: financial independence.

I always thought of myself as the stay-at-home-mom type. I have the personality for it and I’m not career-motivated in the corner office, executive title, six-figure wage sort of way. I am motivated by to-do lists and tasks and chores. I actively enjoy ticking things off my to-do list and will add things I’ve already done just so I can mark them complete. I take great pride in maintaining our home. I’m the sort of person who walks down the street wishing I could bring a pair of lawn clippers with me because that house two doors down missed this one area around their fence and it’s been driving me bonkers for the past few days. In other words, after an adjustment period, I think I’d be perfectly content and mostly fulfilled being a stay-at-home mom.

But you see, Luffy has this goal for us. It seems like a harebrained scheme and every time I even sort of mention it to my 55 year-old (very set in his ways) boss, he gives me this look that just drips with young-whippersnappers-crazy-hippies-justyouwait-grumblegrumble-getoffmylawn. Luffy wants us to be financially independent at some point in our lives, before we reach typical retirement age (which, if we’re being honest, is just being delayed further and further these days). I don’t know his latest estimate exactly, but let’s say it’s 45. Basically, by the time we reach 45, if we’ve followed his plan, we’ll have built an investment base that adequately supports our living just through its earning power. We’d essentially be living off dividends and interest and the like. As you can imagine, that’s quite a large investment base, but it’s not as large as most people assume. Anyway, I’m veering off topic here, but the point is that Luffy has a plan. And part of that plan includes contributions from my earnings.

Now, I have to give him props because his plan does factor in my eventual reduced earnings. In fact, last time we really talked about it, I think he had assumed I would quit entirely as soon as we had a baby (which was, of course, supposed to be ages ago when we would get pregnant precisely three cycles after ending birth control… lol). So actually, I’ve already contributed more than he originally planned and shortened the horizon for FI just due to infertility. So yay! What keeps popping into my head though is the idea that the longer I keep working, the less time it takes us overall. If I keep working even just two or three more years at my current salary, that can drastically alter the timeline thanks to the time value of money. And again, veering off topic here, but the point is that the longer I work, the less Luffy has to in the long run. Ideally.

Plus, I do have some of the same worry that I’m sure hundreds of women contemplate as they look towards careers in the home: if I leave the workplace now, could I re-enter it later? I’m an accountant, so I think that I would still be marketable several years down the road if and when I want to work again. But I’m sure the gap in experience would be less than desirable to a prospective employer. If I keep working now, I delay this particular fear a bit and accumulate more experience to rely on later. After all, I’ve only been out of college and in the workplace for five years now – not a whole lot of experience all things considered.

So yeah. Really long story short: I want to work a bit more (perhaps until Baby #2 comes along???) to contribute towards our family goal of financial independence.

However, like I said, this all hinges on my company’s willingness to let me work from home. During our conversation, my boss made it seem like he was all for working from home, but I’ve since heard some grumblings through the grapevine that might indicate otherwise. Not to draw my line in the sand or anything, but I think I’d be quitting for the time being if my boss changes his mind. I’d get through the birth of our child and the first few months and then look for something new.

Ah, nothing like life decisions and the scent of change on a Wednesday.

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Flutters: Take Two

It occurred to me this morning that no one can challenge me when I say I felt the baby move because (1) I’m within the time frame for that by most standards and (2) it’s my body. So.

I felt the baby move last night.

I’ve actually been feeling the baby for a while now I think, but last night was the first time (apart from last Monday) where I was definitively like yes, that is the baby. It honestly doesn’t feel like much, so I’m not surprised that it takes first time mothers a while to catch on (or that it took me so long to decide on the gas-or-baby question). I only really feel it when I’m laying on my side (my left side, in particular) at night, quietly waiting for sleep. I can feel these small …. gurgles. Little nudges. Just a few.

I’m definitely not to the point of feeling the baby during the day, although I’ve occasionally felt something while laying on the couch (again on my side! must be the baby’s position). And while I can’t wait for the kicks and jabs and oh-there’s-a-foot moments, I look forward to my gurgles each evening.


In other news, you’ll be glad to know that I did in fact get antibiotics today. I definitely err on the side of caution when it comes to antibiotics and try to give my body time to fight off the infection on its own. But it’s been seven full days and while I haven’t gotten any worse, I also haven’t gotten any better either.

Saturday was miserable as I spent 90% of the day on the couch, “resting.” (I’m a terrible sick person because I can’t nap. I just lie there staring at the ceiling contemplating how terrible and icky I feel. And how I can barely breathe. I mean one sinus is completely blocked and the other one is like 65% blocked and … oh crap … my one good sinus is moving towards 70% blocked and now how do I breathe? …. and on it goes) I woke up in the middle of the night early Sunday morning and had a difficult time getting back to sleep. I realized then that I felt the worst on days where I was actively playing the sick part, as opposed to just powering through like I had been. I woke up Sunday morning determined to have a better day and did lots of chores and errands played on my new laptop. Sunday was pretty good, but I immediately called this morning for antibiotics.

(ALSO – I realized my mistake and I am writing this down for future reference. I wasn’t quite ready to resort to antibiotics on Friday, which is all fine and good, but what I should have done was gone ahead and called the doctor anyway. He would have sent a prescription to my pharmacy and then I could have picked it up Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning after it became clear that I needed them. (Or, alternately, not picked them up at all if I turned the corner that I so naively thought I would after a good night’s rest Friday.) That way, I wouldn’t have had to wait for my doctor’s office to open this morning before getting a prescription. It’s moments like these when I feel like I’ve really accomplished something in my life. Clearly I deserve a Nobel Prize for this astounding moment of logic and clarity.)

End of the Week Hodgpodge

It’s Friday?? I think?? This week has been …. long. And busy. Let’s see… what can we chat about??

There was that thing with the work … but I shouldn’t bore everyone to tears.

There was that other thing with the work … but again with the crying and boredom.

Hmmmm…..

Oh yeah, so the flutters from Monday night were either really and truly because of Jas’s position or they were just gas. I haven’t felt anything else since then. I’m a little bummed but I know it’s coming soon, so I’ll just have to be patient.


I had a doctor’s appointment Wednesday morning. Very short, just a quick check-up. We listened to the baby’s heartbeat with a doppler for the first time! Yay! So amazing to listen to your baby’s heartbeat fill an exam room. Made me tear up a bit. Then I zipped up my pants and my doctor sent me to go get poked. This will be my final blood draw for a while. Yay! BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY… June 8th, 9:20am, anatomy scan. Is little dumpling a boy or a girl? WE’LL FIND OUT THEN. MARK YOUR CALENDARS. SET A REMINDER. I MIGHT BE JUST A WEE BIT EXCITED, WHY DO YOU ASK?


Speaking of doctors, I have been fighting a low level case of bronchitis since Sunday evening. It came on very suddenly (seriously – so suddenly that I thought I had choked on some food at dinner) and has hung around since. I of course talked to my doctor about it. I felt like I was already getting better Wednesday so he didn’t prescribe me anything (which was good and I agreed with). He told me if I didn’t feel better by Friday to call back for antibiotics. Well, it’s Friday and I’m not feeling any better, but I think it’s my fault, to be honest. I felt better Wednesday because the day before, Tuesday, I didn’t have to teach class. So I got home early, ate some pho, relaxed, and went to bed at 9:30. Felt much better Wednesday morning. Every day since then though, I’ve had to teach class. The class itself is a toll on my body, plus it pushes dinner back and then I’m going to bed later. Plus my seasonal allergies have flared up in the meantime.

So yeah. Not feeling better yet, but also not reaching for the antibiotics yet. I’m leaving work early today to go home and rest. My plan for the weekend is to do absolutely nothing so that I have a real chance of kicking this illness. If I don’t feel really and truly better by Monday, I’ll call for antibiotics.


Let’s see…. what else…. Oh, I’ve been supremely amused after my classes lately because, without fail, one lady (usually the older ladies in class or that take the Light class after mine) comes up to me to chide me about working out while pregnant. They ask me if my doctor recommended this and if he knows what I’m doing. They talk about how they can’t imagine the baby being shaken around in there like that – must be so uncomfortable!

And I chuckle because really? This is why it can be so confusing to be pregnant. Suddenly everyone and their grandmother has an opinion/theory/trick/rule/whatever and they tell you alllllll about it. And very often, those opinions/theories/tricks/rules/whatevers will contradict each other and current recommendations.

Exercising while pregnant is not only completely safe, it’s actually recommended to help fight off a plethora of pregnancy ailments – everything from fatigue to swollen ankles. If I sum up my pregnancy book’s recommendations of diet and fitness during pregnancy with four words, they would be: eat right and exercise. Everything in moderation of course, as I doubt anyone is really recommending I go run a marathon right now, but seriously, keep moving!

And yet all the old ladies are chiding me for working out because (even at just 16 weeks! when me and the baby are still small!) they feel like the baby’s being shaken and bouncing around my insides like a pinball. Shaken baby! Going to come out dented and lumpy because mom kept exercising!

I always tell them that the baby’s perfectly cushioned in there and doesn’t mind at all. I even go one step further usually and tell them that if my doctor does tell me to back off at some point, it actually wouldn’t even be about the baby. It would be because of the strain and impact on my joints. So there – science FTW!

Luffy, on the other hand, told me that I should tell the next person that yup, totes just a bad mother and person. Doc told me not to work out, but gotta keep my bikini body ready. What the doctor don’t know won’t hurt my baby.

So there’s always that option.


And I think that just about sums up my week. Waiting for baby flutters. Fighting off bronchitis. Heartbeats. Shaken baby. Work. Speaking of, time to get back to it so I can head out early. Have a great weekend folks!

Flutters

YOU GUYS.

think I felt the baby move last night! For the first time!

SQUEEEE!

Last night, after class and dinner, I was sitting on the couch, browsing Amazon and being kneaded by Jas. After she deemed my lap comfortable, she curled up between my legs so that she was leaning up against my lower abdomen. I’m not sure if it was the pressure of her body against my uterus that suddenly made the movements apparent, but I kept feeling these little nudges. Like small pokes or prods.

It’s entirely possible that is was actually Jas moving her elbow or something against me. I stared at her hard for a while, trying to rule out her moving as the cause of the flutters, but I couldn’t really. When they kept coming, I told Luffy that I thought I was feeling the baby move. He of course got so excited that he startled Jas from her spot. Once she moved, I could no long feel anything (which sort of reinforces my theory that her body + pressure on womb = wriggly baby felt), which wahhh! But still! Maybe! And at 16 weeks on the dot. Come on little dumpling! Give me some good kicks so I know you’re in there.

Life Decisions

Back when our baby was a hope and a dream, I described my perfect arrangement. I would work part-time, with a flexible arrangement. This would look something like me working from the office and/or home Monday through Wednesday and not working (although certainly available should something arise) Thursday and Friday. I would adjust my workload to the week ahead of me, willing to work more as needed and hoping to work less when warranted.

Now that little dumpling here (at least in the terms of getting shit figured out), I floated this idea to my manager. I tried to be as open and as committed to the team as I could be. I promised I could be flexible. I promised to be open to re-evaluating things if the arrangement wasn’t working out. I was optimistic and tried to hold hope in the fact that I am respected and valued in my workplace. Irreplaceable, one might say. (Although, of course, all office workers are replaceable, right?)

This afternoon my manager called me into his office to discuss maternity leave things. The company is offering me a fairly generous (for the US, of course) maternity leave, contingent on me coming back to work. Full time. From the office. Period.

I was dismayed, but kept the conversation rolling.

I brought up my suggestion of part-time again and found that my manager firmly believed that my position should be “available” during typical business hours. He doesn’t want any of our partners or associates having to stop and think if I’m working at that time.

One item that I got him to budge on a bit was the working from the office. It turns out, his concern was that I was hoping to be both babysitter and worker. (To be honest, I had sort of hoped to do this under the part-time, flexible arrangement.) I could tell this was a sticking point so I told him that I fully understood his concern and acknowledged the fact that a full time worker could not also care for her child. Those are both full time jobs and focusing on one would neglect the other. So I offered an alternative, what if I worked from home but also had childcare? He seemed to like this idea much better – even more so if the childcare were a daycare center or other out-of-home care (as opposed to a nanny).

I left his office feeling optimistic, but that feeling didn’t last too long. Nothing like a decision to let you know where your true feelings lie. I hadn’t realized how much I was hoping for the part-time arrangement until it was officially not up for discussion (or dreaming) anymore.

So basically, my two options (to remain with my current employer) are:

  1. Work full time, from the office, and our child goes to daycare full time
  2. Work full time, mostly from home but coming into the office at least once a week, and our child goes to daycare full time

I enjoy my job and I really do love where I work. The people are great, the pay is good. The commute sucks, but my company is one I support. We’re a small company so it almost feels like family in a way. My job is one I take pride in and a sense of accomplishment from (most days at least). It’s rarely stressful and the hours aren’t terrible. I know I’d miss the interaction with coworkers, even in the scenario of working from home.

And yet. I look back up at those two options and neither makes me very happy. The first option is an absolute non-starter for me. When I add up my commute plus my working hours, I realize that I’d never see our baby, especially when he or she is out of the newborn phase and actually sleeping through the night. Even now, it takes a conscious effort to not get thoroughly fed up with my commute. I envy the fact that Luffy works close enough to eat lunch at home and gets to relax in the mornings/evenings all while I’m stuck in traffic. I consciously push that envy to the side and try not to think about it – it’s not productive you know? But would I still be able to push that envy and my annoyance with my commute to the side when our child is involved? When I’m missing out on snuggle time or hugs or kisses or even tantrums just so I can go sit in traffic for an hour?

The second option at least solves the commute issue, but I have reservations about this one as well. Working from home, being available and yet not available. At least I would be closer to our child…. hmmmmm.


When big decisions pop up like this I usually sit down to write without a clear ending in mind because writing helps me suss out my real feelings. To be honest, I fully expected to sit down and bash both options. Now though, option two doesn’t seem so bad.

I should also mention that I know I am extremely lucky to be in a position to make this kind of decision at all. Many mothers – too many mothers – are basically forced back to work simply due to necessity. I am thankful to have options. To be able to decide if I want to stay at home with little dumpling or to continue working, in whatever arrangement.

TL;DR: I have a lot of thinking to do this weekend.

Cool, Calm, and – Wait No, That’s Not Me

After I posted Wednesday’s post, about how amazing it is that I’m finally starting to show a bit and how I’m looking forward to the fun milestones the second trimester brings, I started doing a bit of reading. Casual stuff, on parenting blogs I like. Please note that I’ve done this forever, long before we were actually trying to conceive. I enjoy reading about sleeping conundrums and potty training. I don’t know, I’m weird.

Wednesday morning it was a post about pumping that got me started down the rabbit hole. I merrily clicked through articles, reading about labor and delivery questions and in-law troubles. Everything was fine until I stumbled across another pumping article – this one specifically related to pumping at work. For some reason, this simple connection suddenly made me connect the dots and I realized that, at this very point in time a year from now, I could be pumping at work. But wait, I thought to myself, where would I pump? I don’t have an office. Would it be the bathroom? Cause that’s kind of terrible. And there are two opinions here both agreeing that the pumping-at-work essentially ended their supply and marked the end of breastfeeding. That kind of sucks. What if I don’t want to quit yet?

And all of a sudden – ALL REAL LIFE LIKE – I was hyperventilating slightly, realizing the amount of stuff I need to do, the amount of huge decisions I need to make, all with a stark deadline now. Before we got pregnant, my thoughts were all hazy some-days. Plans to work part-time if I could swing it or cloth diaper our child were all rosy futures I envisioned for “one day”, but now the safety of that haziness is gone. I need most of this stuff figured out before November. Of this year. As in, a mere six months away. Things like breastfeeding (yes! but what if I have problems?), maternity leave (yes! but my company hasn’t told me what they’re going to give me yet), family staying with us after the birth (sure! until you start driving me crazy and I need mah personal space back), daycare options (yes? no? maybe! – good luck making plans on maybe!), going back to work (full-time? part-time? no-time?), not to mention the thousand of little things like cloth diapering or cribs or a stroller or baby wearing or or OR…

It’s the to-do list that ate America. Or, at least, the to-do list that ate Belle.

I remind myself to breathe. I have plenty of time. Plus, having a hard deadline for decisions doesn’t necessarily mean I have to be 100% confident in those decisions. If we try something (part-time work, for instance) and it doesn’t work out, we can re-evaluate and adjust. Inhale …. Exhale ….

Please refer me back to this post in the future as I’ll probably need the reminder a hundred or a bajillion more times before October.

Bump

Another milestone for the baby books: I am wearing maternity pants for the first time.

I waited until the second trimester to purchase maternity pants (actually, this was my first purchase of maternity clothes period). I stubbornly held out on switching over to maternity pants by digging through my closet to find some larger pants or pants that sit lower on my hips (most of my work slacks hit right below the belly button, a truly inconvenient fit for the growing baby belly). Plus, I’ve actually gotten to the point where I have firmly put pants away, realizing that I have outgrown them. So, I bit the bullet and got two pairs of work slacks with the full belly band that can be folded down. They’re not bad looking – not super stylish but I’m not all that stylish anyway so meh – and holy cats are they comfortable. It’s amazing to think that I’m starting to show.

Looking back on it, I think I started showing a bit around week 12 – to Luffy and friends who knew me (and my body) well. I remember going to a friend’s birthday party where Luffy’s best friend told him that I was starting to show. That might have been a bit more belly than baby, but I’ll take it. Now, my lower abs, between my hip bones, are starting to get that unmistakable distention of pregnancy and the bump, especially in the evenings, is harder to miss. My class participants started commenting (and some not so nicely – i.e. please do not call my little bump a “pooch”) last weekend at 14w5d along, but they have the advantage of regularly seeing me in very form-fitted clothing. The bump is still not very visible at work or in street clothes, but I have a feeling that it won’t be much longer until it is. Every few days now I get growing pains, as I call them, that make me feel like little dumpling is making some elbow room in there. I imagine her with a little hammer and hardhat, moving the walls of my uterus like a home under construction.

Now that I’m in the second trimester, I’m finally to the point where I have some milestones to truly look forward to. There’s the bump, of course, which I’ll probably curse later on for being in the way, but for now is the first visible sign of the growing little one inside me. Then there’s the flutters or quickening, whatever you want to call it. I’m in the prime weeks now to feel those first movements. Each night I lie in bed and lay very quietly, hoping to feel the baby waking up. I haven’t felt him yet, but soon!

Then there’s the big anatomy scan, where we’ll get to find out if we’re having a boy or a girl. Mine’s tentatively scheduled for week 19 right now, four weeks away. Of course, you know my stance on finding out, so there’s no surprise that I’m eagerly awaiting the scan. It just so happens that we’ll find out the same week my family’s gathering for a cousin’s wedding, so I’ll be able to tell the entire family at once! That is, if my mom decides she wants to know (something tells me that when I tell her I know, she’ll want to know too).

We have so much to look forward to in the coming weeks, but now I need to get back to work reveling in the comfort that is maternity pants.