A challenge

Me to myself when I look over recent blog posts…. hmmmm… you know, I haven’t talked about anything non-baby-related in…. a while. And, tbh, that was a weird post that really didn’t turn out how I had it in my mind. So let’s see if I can come up with something non-baby-related to talk about… it’s time… now, what to write, what to write?

You guys probably know I’m an accountant. I feel sure I’ve mentioned it before. I used to be an auditor, working for one of the Big Four accounting firms. With that in mind, I can absolutely fathom the mortification that the partners at PWC must be feeling over this flub:


I really don’t know who to blame/pity the most. I mean, if it were me handing the envelope to the presenters, I’d be checking that envelope a half dozen times to make sure it was the correct one. So, no bueno for the PWC partner handing over those envelopes. (And it is a partner, by the way, not some lowly staff 1). On the other hand, the presenters looked at a card that didn’t line up with the category they were presenting and announced it anyway. If I were presenting, I probably would have made some light joke but asked for the envelope to be checked before announcing the pinnacle of the awards to the wrong group. So, no bueno for the presenters either, even though they technically weren’t at fault (unlike the Steve Harvey fiasco).

Speaking of award shows, I’m not really into them. I know several people who LOVE the Oscars and go all out, hosting black tie parties and fun watch parties. Meh. Just not my cup of tea. However, I stumbled across this incredible opening performance from the insanely talented Neil Patrick Harris and I just… holy moly.

I could watch this a hundred more times.

So that’s about all I have for today. One last thing though: if you’re ever bored and looking at some time to kill, go look up the “feud” between Jimmy Kimmel and Matt Damon. Hilarious.

On Nursing and Pumping

I have a confession for you guys: breastfeeding is wonderful for us.

I had so many worries during pregnancy about breastfeeding because you hear of so many horror stories (bleeding nipples! low supply! no supply! thrush! mastitis! poor latch! lip tie! tongue tie! I COULD GO ON). My standard quip to anyone’s inquiries on if I was going to breastfeed was always that that was my plan and I’d see how it went.

And then baby boy came along and I thought my fears were being realized. He wasn’t so patient at the breast and would sometimes scream and cry and give up before my milk would ever let down. We had to use a nipple shield for one breast because he just didn’t seem to like that side. I was really nervous about our one and only lactation consultation because I thought we’d get there and nothing would happen – he’d just refuse to nurse – and the LC would send me off with some failure to nurse diagnosis of shame (note – that’s not a thing, that’s only a thing in Belle’s neurotic mind).

Of course, all of this “trouble” happened in the first couple of weeks. We just needed some time to practice nursing, that’s all. Little boy quickly realized my milk would let down soon and got a little more patient. We weaned off of the nipple shield within the first two weeks or so. Ever since then, we’ve been trucking along beautifully.

I’m so grateful for the nursing relationship that we’ve enjoyed so far. It truly has been wonderful and while the middle-of-the-night feedings are certainly draining (when you’re the only one who can feed the baby), there’s part of me that enjoys those dark quiet moments with my son. I know I’ll miss them when they’re gone.

So nursing – yay!

But pumping, you guys. Ugh.

Pumping is not so fun. And I’m one of the lucky ones who has a pretty great set up.

At work, I utilize our only conference room without windows (it’s literally the only place in our office without windows). My boss had the building put a lock on the door for privacy. I have no restrictions on pumping “breaks” (I usually take my computer into the room with me). My coworker even brought in a mini fridge for my exclusive use. And remember – I’m only at the office for two days a week! The rest of the time I’m working from home which means I have complete freedom to pump.

And yet, I still put it off. I still find the pumping breaks intrusive to my day. I’m constantly at odds with pushing the sessions back, but not too far back lest I throw off my entire schedule. And just this morning I got thrown another loop. The dumpling’s daycare teachers suggested increasing his bottle sizes. He’s gulping down the 4oz bottles he gets right now and it’s increasingly clear that he’s still hungry afterwards. My problem is that I produce just enough to cover the three 4oz bottles he consumes while he’s at daycare. Upping those bottles to 5oz means that I don’t currently produce enough, so I’m pumping every hour on the hour today, trying to increase my output.

I blame part of the problem on the fact that I can now specifically measure how much milk the dumpling gets and how much milk I can pump (notice – not produce, I produce enough milk for him just fine while he’s nursing). Being able to measure things just adds a whole layer of complexity and worrying though. Especially on days when I don’t pump enough to meet his needs as it’s so much clearer now. I can no longer say, man! He’s eating so frequently today – growth spurt! Now it’s more like so he had his usual 12 ounces at daycare and I only managed to pump 10.5 ounces… guess I’m pumping before bed tonight. Because that’s the other thing – technically if I don’t produce enough during my daytime pumping sessions, I could always add extra pumpings at night, either before I go to bed or in the middle of the night between his nursing sessions. It all depends on how much I value my sleep and sanity versus how much I really want to make sure he continues to get breast milk. And cue mom guilt, because it’s always just around the corner.

And – oh look at the time! – it’s time to pump again.

Gender Inequality

Earlier today, a coworker flagged me down (on my way to the bathroom!) to apologize for what he said on a conference call Tuesday. I wracked my brain, trying to think of what he had possibly said that could warrant the apology. My brain turned up zilch. It was a routine call, with a lender, nothing out of the ordinary had been said. Then he chuckled, saying that he said something to the effect of “[the lender] had his panties in a wad” and that he felt bad for making the comment. Our partner, who was also on the call, had taken him to task later in the day apparently.

I blinked at him a few times as I thought really? You’re apologizing for that? Lololololol. Panties…. ehehehehe.

I quickly assured him that his comment didn’t even register on my radar and that, while I appreciated it, he was perfectly fine and there was no harm done.

I believe I’ve mentioned (probably here or here) that I work in a small office. We have 14 professionals, though we’re looking to add another this year, and two admins. I am the only professional female, although the two admins are also female. I’m an accountant, but I work in an industry that is also heavily dominated by men. This means that I often find myself as the only female in a meeting or on a call, even with external parties.

When I originally went through the interview process, my (future) boss went over this fact several times, wanting me to be crystal clear on the circumstances and also wanting to make sure that I didn’t have any qualms or hesitations about working with mostly men. I assured him that I didn’t and he assured me that they would all take care in creating a work environment suitable for both sexes (in other words, no keggars to celebrate victories and no strippers in the conference room …. not that a professional office would ever deem this sort of behavior acceptable).

To the credit of my coworkers, they really have gone out of their way to make sure that the environment here is inviting and comfortable. Some days though, like today, I have to laugh because they go above and beyond what’s necessary, worried that they’ve offended my dainty sensibilities or something. While I greatly appreciate the thought, it always makes me laugh and I really want to assure them that I’m not that uptight.

I’ve gotten a handful of apologies over the years, for comments that might be just on the wrong side of unprofessional. I’ve never actually been offended by anything anyone’s said here. The closest I’ve come was this meeting, but that was probably fueled by some hormones and also the envy of what life looks like for men (seriously! no yearly appointments just to get birth control, which, last time I checked, benefits both sexes! Or, while we’re at it, none of this “getting ready for work” bullshit – they just throw on clothes and go! Ugh!)

The most memorable apology I’ve had to date though came from one of the partners. In a meeting earlier that day, he had made a quip about a rather annoying third party manager and how he drove a nice car because he was compensating for … things. The entire room laughed, including myself, because that’s hilarious. On a roll, he then referred to a Hooter’s-type restaurant as a “titty joint” which, yeeeeah, probably not the best choice of words for the office setting, but the comment wasn’t directed at me and mah boobs, so whatever. However, an hour or so after the meeting ended, he stopped by my desk to apologize. My boss (who, for clarity, is actually underneath this partner in terms of corporate hierarchy) had admonished him for making the off-the-cuff remarks.

I know I’m lucky in that these guys are at least in touch enough to realize when they’ve possibly stepped out of bounds. They’re also human enough to apologize when they think there’s a need. I truly appreciate it. Mostly though, I am far too thankful to be out of the catty world of female coworkers to let a few off-color jokes get my panties in a wad.



Naming Your Child 101: An Introduction

I, along with probably most other pregnant women, have a couple of apps for pregnancy. One is awesome and is an extension of my old fertility app. It lets me track symptoms, medications, diet, exercise, milestones, doctor appointments, and more. It also, of course, tells me exactly what fruit or veggie Little Dumpling is currently measuring up to (an eggplant this week!). The second app I have is one from Baby Center. They have some really good articles and videos related to pregnancy and childbirth, as well as some handy tools (like a bumpie feature and a kick counter). They also let me know which fruit or veggie Little Dumpling is measuring up to (a rutabaga this week! I get the feeling that your produce may vary). They also have a robust community feature, which, I believe we’ve chatted about the community features before.

Unlike before, I am able to keep a cool head when reading through these threads. I’m part of an October birth group, so the topic trends amuse me, especially since I’m due late October and am thus on the back end of timing. For instance, the current topic du jour is the gestational diabetes screening test – easily five threads a day on this topic. Last month it was the anatomy scan. Baby names, though, is a topic that has been trending for a couple of months. These threads range from “what are you naming your child” all the way to “what names do you hate,” but regardless of the exact question, this topic always brings out a few types of people:

The Yoonique Speller: Perhaps it’s the grammar enthusiast in me or perhaps I’m just too traditional to appreciate it, but I cringe every time I see this person. You know the one. She’s naming her child Breatanny or Jaxonne or Eleaurea (it’s pronounced “Laura” – duh). I mean, seriously. Being a creative speller does not make your child’s name unique. At the end of the day, he/she is still a Brittany or a Jackson or a Laura. The only thing being a creative speller accomplishes is making your child’s name a pain in the ass for her. I can only imagine 20 years in the future, your poor Olivia Alyviah on the phone saying “that’s spelled A as in Annie, L – Y – V as in victor – I – A – H” and then repeating herself a dozen times because the person at the other end of the line is completely confused.

The Unique Name Extreme Competitor: This woman doesn’t seem to grasp the concept that there really isn’t such a thing as a completely unique name and becomes hyper competitive about keeping her name a secret, lest someone try to steal it. I mean, I understand maybe not mentioning your perfect chosen name to your pregnant cousin or acquaintance. You do you. However, this particular woman gets antsy about announcing her name to a bunch of internet strangers. Does she realize that there are approximately 323 million people, just in the US? And that it is highly likely that her chosen name has already been chosen by someone else? The most extreme case I’ve seen of this so far was the woman who proudly stated (after chiding the rest of us for sharing our names) that she doesn’t even call her children by their names in the grocery store for fear that some pregnant woman in the next aisle might overhear her and use her precious names – NAME STEALER!! ALL PREGNANT WOMEN ARE OUT TO STEAL MY NAMES!!

The Name Hippy: This is a more recent phenomenon, brought about by the trendy Apple’s and Rain’s of the worlds. All Name Hippy wants is peace on Earth and to end poverty and for you to meet her children: Peace, Earth, and Poverty. Blessings to you.

The Trend Unaware Woman: This woman has no idea that name trends can be regional or periodic. She will fight you to the death over the fact that Paisley is a super popular name, because it is. Duh. She’s from Texas and she works in a daycare and she’s seen a hundred Paisley’s in the past month! She seems to have no idea that the name’s not all that popular outside of the Southern states. Same goes for the woman that seems to think trendy names from the 70’s (think Rebecca) or 80’s (think Daniel) are still “trendy” names for 2016.

The Trendy Name Hater: Just like it sounds. This woman hates trendy names with a burning passion. She will mock you endlessly for your Emma or your Charlotte or your Noah and never let you forget that you followed a trend. Now the interesting part of the Trendy Name Hater is what she’s actually about – does she prefer timeless classics like Henry or Mary? Is she into biblical names like Isaac or Nathaniel? Or is she into finding the cool, but not too popular names like Phoenix or Kade? So many facets to the Trendy Name Hater.

The Name Creator: This woman seems to think that she was the very first to create a name and that all others who use it must have stolen it directly from her. As an example (a real life example, mind you, I could not make this craziness up), one woman was so upset when someone stole her first born’s name (changing the spelling) after they announced it while she was pregnant. Just because you change the spelling, Yoonique Speller, doesn’t mean you didn’t steal MY name!!! With her second child, they decided to be super cautious and never, ever announced the name. Anywhere! And yet! Alack and alas, she had already mentioned her love for that particular name on (I kid you not people) MSN Groups about 14 years ago and WOULD YOU BELIEVE that there’s now a child in her child’s daycare with that exact same name! OUTRAGE! She really regrets mentioning the name online a decade and a half ago because someone clearly remembered and stole it. Sigh. Please note, this type can go hand in hand with the Unique Name Extreme Competitor woman, but not always.

The Meaningful One: This woman always tacks on the meaning of her chosen names and I often wonder where exactly she’s getting her information. She seems to only be happy when a name means something significant like happy or chosen or golden (Abigail or Joshua or Carmella, apparently). I always wonder how reliable these meanings are and am dubious that most names (according to popular name searcher websites) mean positive things. I for one would love to see someone be like, yes, we named him Owen, meaning destruction.

The Head Scratcher: So beyond the Yoonique Speller and the Name Hippy and the Trendy Name Hater and the Meaningful One, occasionally you find yourself truly stumped by another woman’s name choice. What is she thinking???? you ask yourself as you reread and reread her choice, gauging the likelihood of a typo. Sometimes the name seems truly bizarre (Windsor, but only for a girl – because that makes it better). Other times you know what they were shooting for (merging both grandmother’s names, for instance) and yet you can’t help but wonder if they are crazy for liking the outcome (Brylynn, which apparently is pronounced “Bry-lynn” but that hasn’t help me much). And sometimes, you’re just truly lost (Vaeda has had me scratching my head all morning).

Now don’t get me wrong. You can name your child whatever you please. We all have different priorities, as evidenced by this list. I will not judge you for naming your child Amillion or Nitrous, if that’s what you’re into. If you’re more the Jennifer and Brian type, also have at it.

What I find the most interesting is the name trends themselves. One of my favorite sites, Wait But Why, has a great piece on naming children and he also pointed me to an awesome tool: The Name Voyager. You just type in a name (or the beginning letters) and you can see how the name (or variations) has trended over time for both males and females. For example, you can see that some current trendy names are simply a bunch of people naming their 2015 babies after their great-grandmothers (Emma, is a great example, like he mentions). Another fun thing to find is when one sex takes over another sex’s name (like Lynn).

Anyway, I’m still on the hunt for Little Dumpling’s name. I think I’ve decided, but every time I try to firm up my commitment to the name, I always back down a bit. (I’ve got plenty time right?!) In the meantime, I’ll keep combing through these naming threads in hopes of finding the perfect name to steal borrow.

Can we talk about healthcare?

Specifically, an example of how the healthcare system here in the US is not efficient. Oh good, you’re willing to humor me – thanks!

So I’ve forever ranted that it is a shame that a person doesn’t truly know the cost of an encounter with the medical system until after it happens. If you ask for the price of a procedure or a medication or a consult with a doctor, you will get the same answer: it depends. The cost will depend on whether or not you have insurance, what type of insurance, the amount of coverage, whether you’ve met your deductible, and a slew of other factors that make a price estimate impossible to give. I believe, if we could solve this problem, we could solve at least part of the reason why healthcare costs in the US have ballooned over the past decades.

You see, the typical arguments are either that (a) the cost of a medical procedure doesn’t factor into most decisions or that (b) if you, personally, don’t pay for the procedure out of pocket, then it doesn’t matter what the gross cost is. Both of these arguments are faulty; let’s tackle argument (b) first:

If the gross cost of your doctor’s visit is $500 and you end up paying nothing (after insurance discounts, deductible calculations, etc), the $500 doesn’t just disappear. Someone is paying for it, namely the insurance company. True, they are probably not paying the full $500 (see: insurance discounts), but they are paying a portion of it. Let’s call it $200. The doctor got $200 of his billed $500 and you feel like you’ve gotten off scott-free because you didn’t pay a dime out of pocket. Wheeee!!! Free medical visits for everyone! Now here’s where that logic is a tad faulty: the insurance company isn’t insuring just you and your doctor (likely) isn’t an idiot. The cost to your insurance company ($200) gets added together with all the other insured families’ costs and guess what, the insurance company needs to cover their costs. They are doing this through premiums (which means they’re charging you more than enough to cover their costs), either now or in the future. Which leads to higher costs for you (healthcare is never free, you just get to control when you pay for it – now or later). Also, that part about your doctor not being an idiot: if he knows that he’s only going to get $200 for his $500 of work, he’s going to bump up his gross charge so that he gets what he needs to cover costs. It’s like the fallacy of those stores that always have sales – if the store always runs sales, those sale prices are no longer “sale” prices, that’s just the price.

TL;DR: Healthcare is never free, you just get to control when you pay for it and your doctor is not an idiot.

Now for argument (a), that the cost of a procedure doesn’t matter. This is likely true for some procedures (think your true emergencies like resetting a fractured bone or surgery after an accident). However, for most things I would wholeheartedly disagree. Let me give you an example: you fell on your ankle two days ago playing basketball. You’re in a fair amount of pain still and the swelling hasn’t lessened, but you’re pretty confident you just sprained it and have found plenty of advice for self-care. Your mom (being mom) urges you to go in to the doctor for an examination anyway. Now let’s say that you knew it would cost you $150 to get that examination – wouldn’t that price affect whether you go? If you’re confident that you sprained it, you’re unlikely to spend the $150. If you’re somewhat confident and also strapped for cash, you’re also unlikely to spend the $150. If you’re starting to question your self-diagnosis, you’re probably more likely to shell out the cash. What if the examination was going to cost $20? That might change your course of action. The same would apply to shopping around for a doctor. If you knew one cardiologist charged five times the amount of another, when they appear to have equal levels of expertise, you’d probably go to the cheaper one because no one likes getting ripped off.

TL;DR: No one likes paying too much if they don’t have to.

If only the healthcare system were more transparent on prices, it would likely cut down on some of the cost in the long run (one would hope anyway).

So let’s back up and let me put all of this into context for you. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that we were referred to a high risk doctor for a Level II ultrasound to examine Little Dumpling’s heart. That doctor’s visit was the single most expensive doctor’s visit I have ever had in my entire life (based on the gross billed cost, mind you). The ultrasound alone was almost enough to pay our mortgage for the month. Ridiculous, true, but also necessary in our eyes and not unexpected (that’s what happens when you go to a specialist – everything costs more!). Thank the heavens for insurance discounts!

What really took me by surprise was the blood test. With my mother as my witness, I swear the doctor described the test to me as “a newer blood test that’s a bit more accurate that will give [me] a little more peace of mind.” That little blood test was $2,700 (gross – insurance hasn’t processed it yet because they want “additional information” – lmao). TWENTY SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS. When I told my OB, he said they must have run a full genetic profile on Little Dumpling – the same blood test they run for high risk pregnancies to detect chromosomal abnormalities with 99% accuracy. That was the blood test they ran so that I could have “a little more peace of mind.”

What’s done is done. I’m not about to refute or argue, especially since this could have been avoided if only I’d pressed for more details about what this little test actually was. However, this is absolutely a scenario in which the cost of the test would have changed my mind. A hundred dollar blood test for a little more reassurance? Sure! Absolutely! A twenty seven hundred dollar full genetic profile for a little more reassurance? No. I was not that concerned. In my gut, I knew Little Dumpling was fine and I felt confident after seeing the specialist. I did not need to have that test done.

Silver lining though – his results came back and Little Dumpling really is perfectly fine in there!

We Are Never (Ever) Getting Back Together

Have y’all heard the news? Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris have broken up!

Now, I’m not one to follow celebrity gossip or “news.” I’m honestly not even very good with celebrities in the first place, often referring to very famous people as “that one guy, in that movie with the planes” and not even remotely recognizing semi-famous people. I don’t follow TMZ or People magazine or any of those tabloid-esque publications.

And yet, I am genuinely disappointed to learn that T Swift and Calvin have called it quits.

I’m not even sure why. I suppose we all have a celebrity relationship that we adore and admire (another would be Chrissy Teigen and John Legend – adorbs). Taylor and Calvin just did that for me. I loved their vacation pics and their cute little antics on stage. The fact that they went to each other’s shows and made comments about how wonderful their relationship was.

Awe. Oh well. They were a gorgeous couple but they are never, ever getting back together. Perhaps Taylor will have some material for her next album.


Letdown of the month

There’s no way I can top the subjects of my previous two posts. I keep trying to think of a topic that won’t be a letdown, but I honestly can’t think of anything that could top the news. So sorry to disappoint you, but we’re gonna talk about random stuff today (with a bonus Jas pic at the end!).

So let’s get one thing out of the way. I despise dry clean only tops. I don’t care about pants or blazers or even dresses, but I just can’t accept it for tops. For one reason, a dry clean only top needs to be cleaned much more often than say pants or a jacket, so the hassle of getting the garment cleaned is much greater. Another reason: I am, ahem, a fairly sweaty person. I don’t stink, but I definitely produce a lot of sweat (I’ve read that this is a sign of how healthy I am, that I can produce a sweat easily…… I keep this in mind only to make myself feel better). I have a hard time feeling like dry cleaning is as thorough a cleaning as washing in water. I don’t really know why; it’s just a feeling.

Yesterday, I went to the mall to exchange a top I got for Christmas. The store had their spring line out and had some adorable tops. I took three to try on and loved each one of them upon first glance. Two of the tops were blouses with a light, sheer fabric. They were both delicate with vibrant colors. I took care to check the laundry recommendations for those two since they seemed the most likely to have special care instructions. Both were machine washable. The other was a soft blend button down. I did not check the care instructions because, come on, why wouldn’t I be able to throw THAT in the washer?

Guess which one I bought. And guess what the care instructions called for.

In other non-news, I have caught up with the Serial podcasts and am sort of bummed that I now need to wait along with everyone else for the next episode. You see, I wasn’t really into podcasts, mainly because I still associated it with something that had to be downloaded through iTunes and then transferred to your iPod to listen to. But guess what! There’s an app for that!

I know, I know, I’m late to the party.

Anyway, I spent the past couple of weeks plowing through season one and then dove right into season two. Tbh, I haven’t been as big of a fan of season two as I was of season one. Not sure if it’s the story or the people or the place, but I’m just not as curious to hear the next episode as I was for the first season. I’m branching out though, looking for additional podcasts to fill my many commuting hours in the car.

You know who hasn’t gotten much love around here lately? Jas.

She would like me to remind you that she is the best and the prettiest and forever and always the baby. She says browr: