Rejections, colds, and lonely travel

It’s been an action-packed summer for yours truly, and I’ve barely had time to breathe. Apparently aware of this time crunch, Monkey was kind enough to bring home the latest daycare plague and pass it on to me –>> initiating the worst sinus infection I think I’ve ever experienced. No time to breathe? No problem! Just shove a fuckton of viral and inflammatory nasty waaaaay up your nasal passages! Seriously, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve awaken at night this past week due to nearly asphyxiating in my sleep.

Oh, and I’ve officially received my first funding rejection at my new job. Not a bad score, but an outright rejection. Seriously, those words were written in red print in my notification email. What a way to kick a girl while she’s down. It wasn’t money I was counting on, but it was something I thought I legitimately had a shot at. BUT, because of my confidence, I kind of mailed it in, and got a brisk wake-up call while traveling. I’m playing with the big kids now, and I can assure you my next submission, just right around the corner, will be much tighter.

Speaking of travel, I never knew I could dislike it so much. But multiple meetings a summer, including a trip overseas without your family, dealing with jetlag while trying to prepare for a talk, falling asleep with your iPad on your lap and missing the first opportunity of the week to Skype with your son – it kind of sucks. Don’t get me wrong – the science was great, and the short break from motherhood was kind of nice. But I can definitely see how doing this multiple times a year is going to get old, real fast. Except for overseas travel, I probably need to start cutting meetings a little shorter than I’m used to.

In spite of the exhaustion and shortness of breath, science is moving forward in the lab, and I’m finding I really do love this job. There’s a metric ton of BS to wade through, but watching lablings get excited about the science, pick up where you left off and push your project forward – that’s absolutely priceless. A few of those moments just might get me through this first year.

Don’t be a [baby] hater

So I’ve been doing my damnedest to catch up on my blog reading, while also preparing for my new job, while also spending time with Hubby and Monkey, while also trying not to get too overwhelmed by something as innocuous as blogging. And what do I find but this lovely post from Allison at Motherhood, WTF, wondering how shocked she should about the following Facebook status update from one of her *friends*:

Note to all you parents out there: if you can’t get your baby to stop crying for more than 30 seconds at a time throughout a 2 1/2 hour flight, maybe you should hold off on flying because people like me hate people like you. On an unrelated note, I think it’s about time for a vasectomy.

I cannot begin to explain how much this post frustrated me. Hubby and I have flown with Monkey four times. Three of those four flights, he was a perfect angel. In fact, he slept peacefully in his car seat nearly the entire flight to Tenure-Track Town (TTT) a few weeks ago, waking only shortly before landing and quietly enjoying a quick snack of Cheerios and Goldfish crackers. Accordingly, we received glowing compliments from flight attendants and neighboring passengers.

A few days later when we flew back home, it all fell apart. Due to an abbreviated afternoon nap, we arrived at the TTT airport with a sleep-deprived baby for an evening flight. Monkey’s exhaustion made it impossible for him to sleep (go figure), resulting in a hyperactive baby instead of the peaceful mini traveler we had grown accustomed to. After a couple of meltdowns (both lasting longer than 30 seconds) when I tried to strap him into his car seat, and a couple more (also longer than 30 seconds) when he refused to sit in mine or Hubby’s lap, we eventually gave in and allowed Monkey to bounce back and forth between his window and Hubby’s aisle seat.

I’d like to say the only victims of Monkey’s hyperactivity were me and Hubby. Unfortunately, Monkey repeatedly bumped the seat of the lady sitting in front of him with his feet, car seat, toys, and books. As much as I tried to convince myself that one annoyed passenger was better than many, I couldn’t help but feel guilty. To make it worse, I got an irritable eye roll in return for every “I’m sorry” I offered. I kept reminding myself that I would have gotten an equally piercing look had I forced Monkey into his car seat and let him cry himself to sleep. After all, “people like that” hate “people like me”.

By the time the wheels hit the ground in Postdoc City, I felt absolutely lousy. Then I read the above post from Allison, and my guilt turned to anger. Hubby and I did everything we could to prepare for a peaceful flight. We lugged a huge load of toys, breast milk, breast pump, formula (just in case), books, binkies, and blankies onto the airplane. We’d never had a bad travel experience with him. We had no choice but to fly with our little guy, and we did everything we could for three hours to keep the maximal number of passengers around us comfortable. Yet we still failed.

I wonder if the above-referenced Facebooker realizes how unpredictable babies are. I wonder if he understands a crying baby’s parents are probably much more anxious and frustrated than anybody else around them. Of course, I’m sure he has no idea, because until you have a baby, you don’t know what it’s like to worry about your baby AND everyone else around you. When the Dr. O family goes out in public, Monkey can be a perfect sleeping angel, playfully entertaining, or a screaming ball of fury. Hubby and I refuse to simply stop living our lives in order to make other people more comfortable, so we try our best to be prepared and keep several plan B’s in our back pocket.

Unfortunately, when it comes to air travel, all the plan B’s in the world may fail, leaving behind only a trace of patience to make it through intact. On that flight back home a few weeks ago, patience is all we had, and I think Hubby and I did a damned good job mustering our reserves together.

So Allison, I say you should be very shocked. Unless like me (I’m somewhat ashamed to say), you have Facebook friends who you haven’t talked to in ages. In which case I would just de-friend this asshole and move on.

Family Travel Tidbits

Going through airport security with an infant is not as bad as I imagined, but TSA should really design an X-ray machine that will accommodate a sleeping baby in their car seat.

Nursing at airports is far superior to pumping at airports.

Flight times should be chosen very carefully when traveling with an infant, as should the clothes you’re wearing – something in the shade of baby-poop brown with off-white milk-colored splotches works best.

Just as the pilot begins his descent, turns on the “Fasten Seat Belt” sign, and you think you’re home-free, your 5-month-old will blow out his diaper on your lap. It’s like a rule or something. Seriously, why does poop always run upward?

Important public service announcement: remember to put your boob away before deboarding an aircraft with an infant.

It’s fairly easy to get over the fear of public nursing when you’re visiting a town full of hippies. 🙂

A strapless bridesmaids dress is perfect for nursing at a wedding, so long as you’re bendy enough to get the damned thing zipped back up before re-entering the reception hall.

Evidently, babies like to party all night after weddings. Too bad staying up all night isn’t nearly as fun for this bridesmaid as it used to be.

The breastfeeding survey post

Hubby and I are preparing for travels with the Monkey, starting tonight, and I’m feeling a little nervous about the idea of public nursing. I know I can bring bottled breast milk with me through security, but it would be SO much easier to just nurse. Since I can’t really use liquid courage to get over my fears, I’m asking y’all to assuage my concerns by answering a few short questions:

Have you ever nursed in public?

If you have nursed in public, did you cover up?

If you have nursed in public, what was the reaction of those around you?

Travel Tidbits

One and a half hours is the perfect amount of layover time for pumping, eating, and finding your next gate.

Pumping in an airport bathroom stall is an interesting experience (details in a future post).

Mobile boarding passes are a great option when you have no bags to check and no access to a printer.

Finding out you’re seated next to a scientist on a flight is a pleasant surprise.

Finding out you’re seated with a family of rednecks, the likes of whom inspired the cast of Deliverance, is a rather unpleasant surprise.

Getting nailed by luggage from an overhead bin is annoying; nailing someone else with your own luggage is just plain embarrassing.

An android phone nicely replaces a computer while travelling, at a fraction of the weight. But I still want an iPad.

You know you’re past the appropriate age for bar hopping when you start showing pictures of your five-month-old to a group of guys flirting with you at a trendy nightclub.

Blogging in-flight is a perfect way to distract oneself from a mild hangover.

Statements overheard during my travels:

-From a woman sitting behind me on my first flight: “Please let me know if my daughter is annoying the crap out of you.”

-Over the airport intercom: “We’re boarding first class only at this time. There’s a nasty mess in the main cabin that we’re trying to clean up. Please keep an eye on your kids, and their gum, during the flight. Better yet, think about stowing them in an overhead bin.”

-From various bachelorette partiers: “Yuck, I have weiner juice on my hands.”; “Who wants to play the weiner in a mousetrap game first?”;  and “Will you sign our giant blowup penis?”

Hell week

Monkey was up every two hours Saturday night. I let him cry himself back to sleep for a few of the wakings, since I knew he wasn’t actually hungry. For those I wasn’t so sure about, I crawled out of bed to nurse him back to sleep. Owing to his exhaustion, Monkey was a holy terror on Sunday, refusing to eat or sleep and resorting to tantrums instead. He actually hit me in the head once while I was trying to nurse, then grabbed onto my breast and pinched the holy fucking life out of it. My boob is still recovering from the abuse.

Luckily we all got some decent sleep last night, but I’m still dragging – partly due to residual sleep issues, partly due to a feeling a complete maternal incompetence, and partly due to anxiety for a crazy week ahead. I was suckered into presenting a poster next week for a hastily prepared symposium, and I have a couple of experiments that must first be finished (without which the poster session will be an utter waste of my time). And it all needs to be finished by Friday afternoon.

Why Friday? Cuz I’m leaving at the crack of dawn Saturday morning to travel to my best friend’s bachelorette party. I’m returning mid-day Sunday, likely in less than optimal poster-making shape. I’m sure I’ll enjoy the party once I’m there (although I have a feeling I’ll fall asleep on my margarita by 9pm). But I’m dreading the travel, the manual pump I just purchased, and the night away from Monkey. I’m already looking forward to getting back home and cuddling up with my baby boy in the recliner.

When did I become such a buzz kill???