This may be the end of the rope

My mom had told my dad multiple times to share photos of the crib and high chair they got from Craigslist with me, but she said he was “too busy” and never did it. Well, the reason it was too arduous for him is that he forgot he can actually use his smart phone… like an actual smart phone, and take a photo with it and text to me. I reminded my mom that he didn’t have to use his digital camera, upload, and email, but I’m not sure she really understood what I was saying. They have had smart phones for over a year now and still have no idea how to use them. My dad still randomly and accidentally texts me my mom’s number at least once a month.

So he sent me photos of these baby items “from friends” (a lie) and also sent me the measurements of the crib. The crib is NOT a crib: it’s a bassinet that is just as small as the bassinet Kaia outgrew in June. It’s unusable for her given her size. My dad insisted it could be used up to 12 months of age; yeah, maybe for a midget baby? They have no clue how things work with babies because it’s been too long for them. I told him that this bassinet is NOT a crib, it’s too small, and that I already told them my friend was loaning her pack and play to me. I also reminded him that he doesn’t have to email me photos from his digital camera; all he has to do is snap a photo from his phone and text to me. What was the response I got back? This is what he wrote, word for word:

“There is no room for the crib. You should just stay at the hotel as far as I’m concerned. Don’t fucken tell me what to do, bitch!”

You would think that after all these years of being yelled at, criticized, put down, and name-called by my dad for the most innocuous comments or actions done that I would be unfazed by this. But when I saw the email in my inbox, my face was burning hot, and I could feel my blood pressure rise rapidly. In that moment, I was reminded of the time when maybe 12 years ago, our dad screamed at Ed for something stupid as per usual at home, and even though Ed had gotten yelled at far more times than I ever did, Ed was in tears. My 30-something year old brother was in tears because of his dad. Just think about that for a second, and think about how absolutely heartbreaking that sounds. My dad’s screaming could drill my 30-something brother to tears, in just seconds. That’s the power he had over him.

In that moment, I decided that enough was enough. I had endured more uncalled for, wrongful treatment from them ever since I was a child. I had been name called, verbally and emotionally abused, wrongly accused of things I never did, gaslit, and made to feel like the worst daughter that ever existed. I was constantly called spoiled just for having the bare minimum. This was not the first time my dad had called me a bitch; in fact, I can’t even count on one hand the number of times it had happened. And it’s not the only bad word my dad had ever called me. I stuck by them through Ed’s suffering and death. I allowed them to be a part of my life, even when I really wanted to cut them out completely. I let them be a part of my wedding and even said really kind things about them in front of everyone they knew. Yet nothing I have ever done for them has been enough. All I have ever wanted is for them to be happy and proud for me. But no, that’s an impossibility. They are incapable of happiness or peace. They will never be happy. They will continue to live in their chosen clutter and dirt and squalor in that rotting and dilapidated house until the day they die — not because they have no money or options, but because they just love to be miserable and depressed.

So, this is the last straw for me. I’ve had to endure far more abuse than any one person should for the last 36 years. Broken promises, lies, accusations, name calling, constant insults. Enough is enough. And so I wrote this to him:

“All I did was give a suggestion. If you want to have that type of attitude at a simple suggestion, then you are the problem. What kind of father calls his daughter a bitch? I will not tolerate it. You have NO power over me. You will never meet Kaia with that attitude unless you apologize.”

My dad has never apologized to anyone in his entire life. He doesn’t even know what the word “apology” even means. He’s never been held accountable for anything he’s ever said or done, and like my mom, he thinks everyone else is the problem, not him.

So I realize this could mean that I’m actually, finally cutting them off, but maybe this is for the best. I am so sick of constantly putting their needs ahead of my own, compromising my mental health. I have a baby to care for and raise now. I need to set a good example for her, and I don’t want her exposed to this constant bullshit. This intergenerational family dysfunction needs to end HERE, right NOW.

The truth is that it’s not even just my parents’ behavior that disgusts me; they disgust me as human beings. It’s a sad thing to admit, but it is true. I’m disgusted and embarrassed by them. And I’m tired of always trying to honor them when I get treated like garbage in return.

They have no power over me. They will have no power over me.

Mom being separated from baby and pumping

Given that my friend had to be hospitalized for postpartum hypertension about two weeks after giving birth, this meant she had to be separated from her baby. And when you have the intention/desire to breastfeed, this means that to keep your milk supply up, you will need to pump if baby is not physically there with you to nurse. Somehow, a nurse said that her blood pressure spiked a bit after each pumping session, so they suggested that she not pump for two days….

She said she felt fine, and I’m not 100 percent sure that not expressing milk for two straight days in the first two weeks postpartum is a good idea if a mom has explicitly said she wants to breastfeed her child. Where do people come up with these awful suggestions? Do they ever listen to mothers’ desires… EVER?

Postpartum hypertension

I went to the hospital today to visit my friend, who had recently given birth about two weeks ago, but had to get re-admitted to the hospital for postpartum hypertension. She realized something was wrong when this past weekend, she had a lingering, painful headache that just wouldn’t go away. She had a blood pressure monitor and used it, and the result was far higher than anyone would be comfortable with, so her doctor told her to go to the ER and get admitted. She is being monitored closely now and on medication, but she is unsure when she will get discharged. I also visited when my friend, her husband, was also there with the baby, so the added bonus I got was seeing their newborn for the very first time and holding her.

The scary thing that most people don’t realize is that child birth.. is VERY TRAUMATIC on the female body. It’s actually considered physical trauma. Most women tear to some degree in their vagina or even outside of that when having a vaginal birth. A caesarian section cuts through something like 8-9 layers of the human body to take the baby out. A lot of complications can happen, such as postpartum hypertension, which is one of the most common side effects after child birth. Hemorrhaging is extremely terrifying and common, and these conditions can result in seizures, strokes, and even heart attacks. A friend’s friend got a brain aneurysm as a result of the birth of her second child and was in the ICU for over four weeks. These conditions can happen as late as up to a year after the birth of a child. But no one talks about this. Women’s healthcare in this country is just beyond abysmal. No one proactively tells you this; you just have to Google search it all and figure it out yourself.

When your parents fight over photos and videos of their grandchild

Texting my parents is not something that is particularly fun. Since they got smartphones, all the “texting” that happens is pretty one-sided, as in, I text them photos and video links for the baby, and they receive them and rarely acknowledge anything. I don’t mind this, but it’s not a “text conversation” in the way that people typically expect texting to work.

I was on the phone with my mom today, and she said that the two of them fight over the phone when there’s a photo or video of Kaia. “We fight!” she said gleefully. “Sometimes you send just to Daddy or to me, and then he’ll ask why he wasn’t sent the video directly. Then, we fight to see who can watch the video first!”

My mom expressed how much my dad loves Kaia. Well, isn’t that cute? My dad actually is capable of affection and love! My dad never hugged, kissed, or praised Ed or me growing up, yet now, all he can do is praise Kaia for her development and cuteness and tell my mom how much he loves her. It’s amazing how people change as grandparents versus as parents, isn’t it?

Food in the tech workplace circa 2022

In preparation for my upcoming trip to the San Francisco office, we had a list of to-dos before we arrive, including a few apps to download, a health questionnaire I need to fill out daily before I arrive at the office (to ensure I am COVID negative, or as close to negative as can be), and to get the Zerocater food ordering app downloaded onto my phone. I’d never heard of Zerocater before and wasn’t quite sure why I had to download any food app for my work trip, as when I heard that food was catered at work, I figured it was like the way it was at my last company when I came, where there would be buffet-style food laid out for us to eat at specific time blocks, and that would be it.

Zerocater is not like that, though: you actually have options from a handful of local restaurants every single day your company sponsors lunch, and from those restaurants, you can choose select dishes to get. This does a few good things: 1) it supports local restaurants and businesses directly instead of stealing business away from them, 2) it eliminates the inevitable food waste that comes from buffet-style eating, 3) you can order the quantity of food (by weight) that you request, which even further minimizes waste. The app is really customized: it presents a number of mains and sides (with lots of details and photos) and asks how you would like them as options. Then, based on your feedback, it creates recommendations for you based on what you’ve indicated you like. After I finished this quick questionnaire, it seemed to sum up my food tastes as leaning heavily towards Asian, South American, and Mexican cuisine. Vietnamese cuisine also got especially called out. Not bad at all.

It’s been a while since I’ve been in an office and had the opportunity to enjoy catered food, and seeing how customized it is now and anti-waste it is makes me happy. There are some perks I do miss that you get while working in the office, and free lunch is definitely one of them.

Family visits and excuses

My cousin and his wife are in town visiting from the Bay Area, so we had them come over today for lunch and to meet Kaia, as well as to see our apartment building for the first time. Well, this cousin actually has a brother who lives here on the Upper East Side, but because his marriage is dysfunctional and miserable, Chris didn’t want them to come over. So I made an excuse and lied at my visiting cousin’s suggestion and said that Chris got COVID, so no one could come over. It seems a bit ridiculous to make up something like this, but we really didn’t want to be exposed to their negativity and bad vibes, not to mention the massive passive aggression between the two of them. Plus, the last time this cousin came, he barely even acknowledged or looked at Kaia, and he spent almost the entire time on his phone doing whoever the hell knows what.

My cousin and his wife are decent, easy going people. Of the three cousins from my dad’s older brother and wife, he’s probably the most “normal” and easy to get along with. But it’s always weird to think that he tries to gloss things over and make everything seem normal when it’s not. He tends to avoid problems and pretend they don’t exist until they are really, really bad. He doesn’t acknowledge that much is wrong with his brother who lives here; he does at a surface level, but he doesn’t seem to recognize exactly how bad and unhealthy it is, or the fact that his brother likely needs professional help. He doesn’t acknowledge that his own mother belongs to a cult.

On the one hand, this cousin seems to avoid problems and thinks nothing is ever wrong. His youngest brother who lives across the park from us thinks everything and everyone is a problem. There doesn’t seem to be much balance here, is there?

Tiny foodie baby embraces fish and goes “nom nom nom”

Today, Kaia had salmon for the first time. After seeing how well she did with sardines all week, I wasn’t surprised to see her embrace her steamed salmon with garlic and black pepper. She clearly loves to self feed; the spoon feeding doesn’t always seem to work with her, and she very much prefers to be in control of what goes into her mouth. Sometimes, she gets a bit too aggressive with her big bites, though, and she ends up gagging and spitting the food out. I always wonder what she is thinking when she’s presented new foods and deciding what to eat and how much, if she actually understands what I mean when I am doing exaggerated modeling of chewing and big bites, and telling her to “chew, chew, chew!”

When I started using social media years ago, I always thought it was a bit comical when I’d read about people talking about or making the “nom nom nom” sound while eating something they enjoyed. But then I realized in the last few weekends while feeding Kaia… that it actually sounds like she makes that exact same sound. She goes between “mmmmm” and “maaa maa maaa” as well as “num num num” over and over again while eating something she seemingly enjoys.

So, did “nom nom nom” actually originate from baby sounds while eating?

Baby’s bedroom vs. Mommy’s office: who wins?

Our nanny has been giving me the side eye the last few days. In the morning when the baby takes her nap, assuming I have no early morning meetings, she’s allowed to sleep in her crib, which is in the second bedroom, which is half her bedroom, half my office space. In the afternoons, though, she usually has to sleep in her lounger in the living room because I almost always have meetings mid-afternoon. The nanny is super unhappy about this because the baby is slowly but surely outgrowing the lounger, which we now have to place on the floor because the baby is rolling now.

“Yvonne,” the nanny says in her taunting voice. “Kaia has to sleep in her crib. You can’t keep having her sleep in the lounger. She just doesn’t sleep well in it anymore. She’s getting too big for it and needs a consistent sleep space.”

Well, what am I supposed to do? I have to work, and I don’t have a third room to work in. Plus, I’m old now: I can’t just work on my laptop anymore given my cubital tunnel syndrome and my wrist/finger issues. I need my second monitor, vertical mouse, and ergonomic keyboard. I can feel the difference in my hands when I use my laptop for typing straight now, plus the touch pad on the Macbook air really kills my fingers and inevitably makes me feel miserable the next day if I use it too long.

The other option is to get a pack’n’play that’s relatively compact and put it in our bedroom. I’m not really sure what to do.

When your nanny misses you

I figured that my nanny would have been really excited to hear that I’d be away most of yesterday because it would mean I would be completely out of her hair. She wouldn’t have to worry about my lurking around and observing her. She could do what she pleased in the apartment without any watchful eye. But apparently, she told me she wasn’t actually that happy that I was away and missed me. My nanny MISSED me. She must be nuts! She’s the exact opposite of any nanny who posts on the Reddit nanny group!

I asked her today if she enjoyed her freedom with my being away. And she responded, “You know, you’d be surprised. Kaia isn’t the only one who missed you. I missed you, too! I was wondering how your day was going, how your meeting went, and thinking of the things I would have said to you if you were here. So I actually wasn’t happy you were gone. I’ve gotten used to working with mom in the house!”

We get attached to those we spend time with, and I suppose that also applies to hired help and how they feel about their bosses. I guess I’m not so awful to have as a “mom boss” after all. 😀

First in-person business meeting since pre-pandemic

So, as we’ve transitioned from being in a pandemic to being in an endemic, work travel is now considered acceptable and encouraged. Not all customers are accepting visitors, though, so it varies depending on the customer we’re working with. However, a colleague and I were asked to come onsite to visit a customer of ours in Bridgewater, New Jersey, today, and so we decided to go. My colleague only lives about a 20 minute drive away, but I had to get there via New Jersey Transit, which took me over an hour, not including the travel time to get to Penn Station. That commute took longer than expected due to a train delay, though. And then coming back, I missed the train I wanted to get on because my meeting ran long, and so I had to take a train that had a longer transfer time at Newark Penn Station. So all in all, I spent almost 3.5 hours traveling for a meeting that lasted about 90 minutes. While I was on NJ Transit this late afternoon coming back into the city, I was thinking about exactly how ridiculous this was. That commute time doesn’t even factor in the amount of time I spent this morning getting ready and dressed, or the time it took me to look up train schedules and figure out the best way to get there. In addition, I had to wake up earlier and pump earlier, then pump right before I left to go. My breasts don’t care that I have to travel for work; they still need to be emptied. And of course, I came home with my breasts uncomfortable and full of milk.

It’s true: in-person meetings cannot be replaced by virtual meetings. But they certainly take a LOT more preparation and leg work to do, and as a pumping mom and someone who has gotten used to working from home the last 2.5 years, this trip, though relatively short with no overnight stay, was still taxing. I just could not imagine doing this type of work travel regularly; I would be so miserable.