Working as a parent

As long as I’m at the company where I am currently employed, I will never have to go into an office and work a traditional 9-5 or 9-6. I will never have to deal with pumping breast milk in a mother’s room or bathroom between meetings at work. I will never have to post on a Slack channel that I’ll be out for a baby’s appointment for whatever hours of the day. Given the pandemic and the general nature of working from home during this period, this is quite a privilege I have. I remember my mom marveling at the idea of a mother’s room at my last workplace: “we never had that when I was working!” So she never had the option to pump milk for Ed or me; we just had to have formula after she went back to work after eight weeks of maternity leave.

I recognize how lucky I am to work from home and have the flexible schedule I have. My boss, who has a 6-year-old daughter, shuts down her computer to pick her daughter up from daycare at 4pm on the dot every single day, and she doesn’t check email again until about 9pm in the evenings, likely after her daughter is already in bed. We have other colleagues who shut down at 3pm each day, and no one ever blinks an eye at it. It feels good to know that parents are accommodated well at my organization, at least as far as I can see.

I’m having a chat with our benefits team about my leave next week and am curious to see what they will say is required from a paperwork standpoint. In the U.S., regardless of what company you are employed at, this process is rarely fun or enjoyable.

Pediatrician search

I was chatting with my doctor at my last OB visit about next steps to think about: getting my TDAP vaccine updated in my third trimester, a flu shot in early October, and finding a pediatrician for my baby. I worked with my Aetna nurse, and she sent me a list of in-network pediatricians that are walking distance from my apartment (there is no way I’m getting on a train or in an Uber regularly for baby visits, especially since they happen so frequently in the first year of baby’s life!). I read that the best pediatricians will make time for a prenatal consultation before baby is born so that the parents feel comfortable with their choice in baby doctor, so I started calling pediatrician offices today to ask for a prenatal consultation. I was only able to get one booked so far; the second one said she isn’t accepting new patients for consideration until late October/early November. Another doctor’s office said that they don’t do prenatal consultations period. “The doctor is already booked solid and stretched thin, so she doesn’t do prenatal consultations, unfortunately,” the receptionist on the phone said, apologetically.

That’s always a bad sign. If you cannot commit 15-20 minutes just for a CHAT with parents before committing to a relationship, what’s it going to be like when you are actually my baby’s doctor, and something is urgently wrong? This is that doctor’s loss, not mine.

Exercise as a habit

I was chatting with the trainer at the gym this morning, and he was asking me how I was feeling this far along in my pregnancy. I told him that other than recently having to change how I roll out of bed (the change in center of gravity is no joke!), everything has been feeling pretty good. I’m wondering when and if random aches and pains will happen that other pregnant friends and colleagues have warned me about, but that I’m just kind of taking it all day by day.

He shook his head and grinned. “None of that is going to happen to you. I’m willing to bet on it.”

“What makes you so sure of that?” I asked, confused.

“You work out every single day, no fail!” He exclaimed. “When pregnant women stay active their whole pregnancy the way you have, when you have exercise as a habit, all those aches and pains stay at bay because you’re taking care of your body. If you take care of your body, it will take care of you. That’s the way it works, and a lot of people don’t get it.”

He’s been a trainer for over a decade now and has worked with a lot of women in their pre- and post-natal periods, and he said that based on what he’s seen, not only does keeping active help with preventing pregnancy aches and pains, it also helps to enable a smoother labor and birth. While I’ve read that all this is true, it’s really hard to know for myself what will actually be the case when the time comes.

He even suggested to me that when women stay active, even if they end up needing a c-section, whether by choice or out of necessity, their recovery is faster. I have no idea how true that is, but hopefully I will never know about that from experience.

Product “testing” with Bourke Street Bakery

If you watch Sonny Side’s Best Ever Food Review Show on YouTube, you may notice that he advertises for and sells a shirt that says “micro influencer.” It’s basically a bit of a jab at people like me who *hope* one day to be a social media influencer, but really aren’t quite there yet (I recently barely passed 900 followers on Instagram. Granted, once I started my current job, I was far less aggressive in terms of social media interaction and trying to get new followers, so hey, it’s not terrible!). I follow a number of local restaurants and bakeries via my Instagram handle for YmF, and they also follow me, as well. One of the handles I follow is a favorite bakery out of Sydney, Australia, called Bourke Street Bakery. We’ve had a number of their savory and sweet treats, and I am just obsessed with almost everything they make. When they recently posted, saying that they were looking for product testers for frozen almond croissants, I jumped at the chance. I direct messaged them to let them know I was interested, and after a couple back and forths via email, they sent me via DoorDash two frozen almond croissants for “product testing.” In exchange, they asked for my feedback.

We tried out one of the almond croissants on Saturday. I followed the instructions as written. I hate to say this, but the delicious almond filling was almost too generous; it weighed down the bottom layer of the croissant and left it almost soggy, plus it was nearly impossible to hold in one hand without the whole thing falling apart. But the flavor was spot on, and the flaky texture of the croissant was perfect. It did what all perfect croissants do, which was shatter upon your first bite Mmmmm.

If this could be my day job, I’d be pretty darm happy. I’d likely gain a lot of weight, but boy, would this be a fun job.

The Museum of Innocence

On our last day in Turkey before we headed back to the U.S., as the last thing we did before heading to the airport, we walked from our hotel to the Museum of Innocence, a quirky museum in the Cukurcuma neighborhood of Beyoglu, Istanbul, that is based on the Orhan Pamuk book also called the Museum of Innocence. In a nutshell, the museum and novel are about a love story between a wealthy businessman named Kemal and a younger, poorer, distant relative of his, Fusun. Kemal is actually engaged to another woman of his same social class and circle, but after meeting Fusun at a shop where he went to purchase a handbag for his fiancee, he immediately becomes entranced with Fusun, and they begin a very quick and intense emotional and physical love affair. The museum documents the entire book in the form of collected pieces of jewelry, cups, glasses, and other random items; vignettes, stories, newspaper articles, and other objects from that period of the late 70s to early 80s in Istanbul. It stands somewhat as a historical piece depicting the culture of the time then in Istanbul and Turkey overall, and also as a more narrow story of Kemal and Fusun. The general themes that are quickly picked up just by visiting the museum and without reading the book are the cultural differences between East and West (they often talk about how those in Europe are “sophisticated, educated, and progressive,” and those in the East, or in Turkey specifically, are old-fashioned and regressive, stuck in a period of time that has passed. The museum also emphasizes the importance of female purity in Turkey and how virginity was of utmost importance until marriage; women who had sexual relations with men prior to wedlock, regardless of whether it was the man they ended up marrying, were seen as scarred and dirty, and ultimately “lesser than.” The museum even depicted newspaper columns that actually showed the FACES of women who purportedly had had sex before marriage, basically warning men, “Hey, these women are impure! Beware!” We spent a couple of hours at the museum, listening to the audio guide by section. I was a bit intrigued, so I decided that when we came home, I’d get the audio book to see how the book was.

I’m about a few hours into the book, and it’s definitely a very intense love affair, narrated by Kemal, who frankly comes off as obsessed, a little narcissistic, narrow-minded, and selfish, and most definitely creepy. I’m not totally sure I want to continue listening, but what the heck, I’ve already started… in total, it’s 20+ hours long! I suppose, though, that’s the general theme of major love stories that have made history, ranging from Lolita to Anna Karenina to Madame Bovary. However, the difference here is that while I’ve actually read Lolita and Madame Bovary, this book veers on the side of Anna Karenina where the guy in question just keeps droning on and on, constantly obsessing, resulting in confirming exactly how creepy, stalker-ish, and selfish he is (well, isn’t that the theme of all men of all time?). It’s kind of amazing how over history, stories of selfish, obsessive, creepy men make history so often, yet as soon as you hear of a selfish woman, all bets are off.

Kemal is truly ridiculous, though, and in many ways, a total loser in my mind. I have very little to no pity for him as a character, as he’s highly unrelatable and pathetic. Even after he breaks off his engagement with Sibel, his fiancee, and finds out Fusun is married, he continues to try to pursue her, and even goes on to INVITE himself over for dinner/coffee/tea at her home 3-4 nights a week for EIGHT YEARS, where she lives with her husband and parents. It’s truly insane and just borderline worthy of sticking this guy into a stray jacket. Honestly, I’m not sure I’d recommend the book to anyone unless they really wanted to read an obsessive man’s account of his ridiculous love for a woman, but hey, to each their own!

Baby preparation at Nordstrom

This early afternoon, I hauled Chris over to Nordstrom so that we could test out some strollers and car seats. The sales assistant was quite helpful and showed us some of the limited models on my list, and we further narrowed down the strollers that we wanted. In addition, I’m pretty set on a specific infant car seat to get, as well. We immediately eliminated the super popular and bulky Uppababy Vista and Cruz strollers. They are far too big, and the Cruz is pathetic in that it doesn’t even close up all the way. The Cruz itself would take up the bulk of a car trunk’s space, which is ridiculous when you think about it regardless of whether you own a car or not. The sales assistant was pretty blunt about the strollers: if you are the kind of person who doesn’t take a car or public transit or leave your own neighborhood, and all you want to do is push your stroller around your own neighborhood, then the Vista or Cruz is likely for you. If you actually plan to go on trains and other boroughs and travel, you will hate these Uppababy models. So that was an easy decision. Since they didn’t have all the models I wanted to see in person, I have to do another visit to a different baby store uptown to get a better sense of finalizing what we end up getting. We’re getting closer to the end of this decision making process!

3-hour glucose test results: the verdict

My OB’s office contacted me early this morning to let me know that my 3-hour glucose test results came back, and all four blood draws were normal – weeee!!!! I was so relieved and super happy to hear this news. After they contacted me, I logged into my patient account to take a look at the numbers, and for each blood draw, I was either at the lower end or the middle in terms of blood sugar level. So in other words, I wasn’t even close to needing to regulate my diet or getting diagnosed with gestational diabetes, thankfully. I was really fearing the worst news here, but just feeling very thankful and relieved that I do not have to deal with another hurdle or restriction for the remainder of my pregnancy. I DO NOT HAVE GESTATIONAL DIABETES!!!!! I had to do a little happy dance while rubbing my belly.

I didn’t really think I had it, especially after I saw that of the people who fail the first 1-hour glucose test, only about 10-20 percent of them end up actually having gestational diabetes. So I would have had to be super unlucky to have been one of those people. I had an 80-90 percent chance of not having it going into this three-hour-long test.

Now, I guess I no longer have to feel guilty whenever I have white breads and buns, noodles, or sweets. And it may be time to celebrate by making those browned butter miso chocolate chip cookies I keep staring at in my web browser.

Strollers on the Upper East Side

When we visited Buy Buy Baby last month during our day trip to Jersey, the sales assistants called the Uppababy stroller, particularly their Vista model (the largest one), like the “Mercedes” of strollers. It has all the things you could possibly want in a stroller, but at the end of the day, it really is about the branding and the finishes, and you could easily get a stroller that is similar for far, far less. Priced at about $1,000, the Vista is definitely a suped up stroller. And given its weight at almost 27 pounds, it’s not necessarily travel friendly, or would it be a stroller that someone with a pre-pregnancy weight of 117 pounds would be comfortable hauling in and out of subway cars and up and down stairs.

Well, given I had so much time to kill on the Upper East Side yesterday morning, I started making a mental note of all the strollers I saw pass me — mostly moms, nannies, and grandmas pushing their strollers through the park and up and down the streets. And I could say with almost total certainty that 8/10 of the strollers were all Uppababy Vista strollers. If you throw in the Uppababy Cruz stroller (the more compact Uppababy), then that would make 9/10 strollers. And the other 1/10 consist of random other brands, some of which I could not easily identify, with a tiny sprinkling of Bugaboo (I’m considering their Ant model) and even one Versace (!!!!) stroller.

I wonder if some parents view the Uppababy Vista stroller like a status symbol in the same way that people view Mercedes and BMW vehicles as a status symbol. If they do, it seems…. quite tiring. I was exhausted just looking at all these past me and thinking of the research I still have yet to do in order to finalize this decision that seems to be weighing on me.

Glucose test #2; please don’t be positive

This morning, I skipped my usual gym session and instead walked across Central Park up to the Upper East Side for my second glucose test. I abstained from having any refined sugar in the two days leading up to this test for good luck and even subbed brown basmati rice for the usual long grain white rice I use in fried rice in my Monday cooking, as well. I figured none of this could hurt, right?

Well, the instructions I was given over the phone by the doctor’s assistant were wrong. While I thought that I’d come in at 9am, do a baseline blood draw, drink another bottle of sickly glucola, and have my blood redrawn at 10am, what ended up happening was that I had to have FOUR blood draws total: One at 9am for a baseline, then one again each at 10am, 11am, then 12am after the glucola consumption. When I expressed dismay at having to come back at 11am, the nurse was confused. “Didn’t tell they you over the phone that it would be three hours?” No one told me this!! I had meetings that I ended up having to skip, and with a crappy signal in the doctor’s office, I ended up leaving to wander around the Upper East Side and Central Park before blood draws to get fresh air and an internet signal.

So after the fourth and final blood draw, the nurse let me know that I could finally eat (you have to fast during this!), but “nothing sugary,” and that my results would be available tomorrow. Little did she know that I had already stopped by Tal Bagel for a toasted everything bagel with vegetable cream cheese, and I was very much looking forward to diving into it after I left the office. While a bagel is not quite on the gestational diabetic’s list of friendly foods to eat, I did not care; I had not eaten anything since 5:30pm the previous night, and I was so famished that I could feel myself getting light headed walking back from Tal to the doctor’s office for my final noon blood draw.

Now, I just have to hope and pray: please do not have gestational diabetes. Please do not have gestational diabetes. Please, please, please.

Working late on your first day back from vacation

You know how I said yesterday that there is a special place in hell for customers who don’t respect their partners’ time off and give them work to do even before they return from vacation? Well, there’s also a special place in hell when your sales partner decides to put an 8pm local time meeting on your calendar for the day you get back — a meeting that you have to lead, put together a deck for, and do the majority of the talking at. Granted, this customer is APAC based, so it’s not like any time is going to be ideal since we are on the east coast of the U.S., but this really, really sucked and was NOT good. Couldn’t I have at least gotten one day to settle back in after six days out, or is that too much to ask your colleagues?

In the end, this group I was working with was very fun and pleasant, so it was a good meeting at the end of the day (literally), but I still wasn’t pleased to take a call so late on my first day back. It’s no wonder people in other countries take longer periods off… it’s because they want to avoid work as much as possible for as long as possible in a single go.