working mom

Another Reason to Love Netflix

August 5, 2015

As a parent ready to embark on leave in the all too near future, I’m attracted like a moth to a flame to Netflix’s announcement on their parental leave policy. If you’ve not heard about this yet, it’s worth a quick read. Not only are they offering full salaries and benefits but allowing flexibility for parents to return part time or come back full time for a few months and leave again. If that was not enough, and this is practically unheard of these days, they’re offering this to both men and women! I’m dying.

While I’m grateful for FMLA which ensures me a position and also that at my company offers short-term disability coverage which ensures some financial assistance, I long for more. In honesty we lose out on a nice chunk of income even at the standard 6 or 8 week leave period not to mention extending to a full 12 weeks. Keep in mind I’m speaking for myself, a woman in the workplace that is offered leave, my husband doesn’t even have the luxury of parental leave.

One of the biggest considerations when becoming a new parent is weighing the time you would like to/need to take off, prior to knowing what your needs will really be, with the financial implications. It is almost always a bummer of a conversation.

What Netflix is offering is beyond amazing, something that is likely not to be rivaled let alone matched by many others. Like I needed another reason to keep my Netflix subscription!

– JLVR

P.S. If you’re a new parent and handling middle of the night feedings, I highly recommend investing in a Netflix subscription. I’ve written about my Netflix addiction before – it’s the real deal, I’m hooked. My iPhone equipped with the Netflix app saved me – it kept me awake, engaged and made it easier to get up… AGAIN… in the middle of the night with my newborn. In fact, this go ‘round I’ve saved Orange is the New Black and Wet Hot American Summer – First Day of Camp specifically for this reason!

newbie mom

I want you to make the days move easy – most days that is

June 23, 2015

Some Father’s Day wishes for my husband in classic working mom style, which is to say belated

To my ridiculous human man of a husband whom I most of the time find endearing and adore and some of the time want to murder a little bit in your sleep.

You’re killing it at this parenting thing. Thank you for showing your love and support for our family every day. For all that you do, and don’t do, we’re grateful. In your words – not every day can be a fairy tale – but we sure come damn close sometimes. Here’s to our tiny human (soon to be humans – YIKES!) that have made us parents in this adventure together.

Thank you for your support and your partnership. I’m still glad I listened to you.

Always,

JLVR

working mom

why I’m a working mom

June 15, 2015

I’m a working mom because my husband and I are in this parenting game 100%.

He may have never packed a diaper or overnight bag but he does 99.9% of daycare drop-off and pick-up. (He always gives Daycare the heads-up if I’m ever to pick-up V so they don’t assume I’m trying to kidnap him I’m there so infrequently).

He gets V set-up for dinner every night and cooks for all of us. He also takes V to swim every weekend, it’s something they do together.

I work because we work together.

We do V’s bedtime routine together every night trading off who will read him a book and rock him to sleep.

For a few months when it was all about ‘Dada’ he put V to bed every night and  comforted him whenever he needed it, even in the middle of the night.

When V had to go to the hospital, we navigated it together and were there for every moment as a team. He has subsequently taken him to every doctors appointment and almost every blood draw.

I work because we work hard to figure out our balance.

Some days work is challenging, luckily our challenges tend to trade off allowing the other to pick-up the slack. Whether its me or it’s him that needs to work late, it’s no problem – pick-up, dinner and bedtime still happen.

I work because my husband supports my role as a mom AND my career.

Outside of my parents there is no one person more proud or excited about my career achievements than my husband. There’s also no one more enthusiastic about my role as V’s mom. He knew I could do this motherhood thing before I did. Literally.

 

For all the times I want to murder him a little bit in his sleep, I’m reminded of his hard work and sacrifice for our family. For now, we live on in our version of harmony.

newbie mom

ITP, the (seemingly) never ending story

June 2, 2015

It all began on February 15th when a strange rash appeared on V’s face and was kicked-up a notch with V’s admittance to Children’s Hospital for treatment for ITP on February 23rd.

NOTE: Petechiae has a very specific look – see a few pictures of V’s cheeks above for reference. It looks like tiny pin pricks and is not raised. It’s one of those things they say ‘you’ll know it when you see it’ and it’s true. It’s very distinct.

Since being released from Children’s Hospital on 2/24 we began a regimen of weekly blood draws at our local Cleveland Clinic lab. V was a champ. He was a ham in the waiting room, flirting with the ladies. He did really well even though most of the time it was not easy to draw his blood and he was poked and prodded a bit. (Also have you ever met a kid that hated band-aids? It’s this guy. NOT A FAN. All I hear/read about is kids asking for cool looking band-aids even though they don’t have a boo-boo or they have a microscopic scrape. This guy – not so much.)

Each week, in the beginning, we saw a decline in V’s platelets. The declines prompted the request for a quicker turnaround visit in March only leaving half a week rather than a full between lab visits. Then we had an inconclusive test. It was slow torture. The decline was constantly in the back of our minds each week as we waiting until the next draw. The waiting game and the unknown was the worst of it for sure. Here’s how it played out in his platelet count (normal levels are between 150-450,000)…

  • 2/17 Count at 25,000
  • 2/23 Count at 7,000
  • 2/24 Count at 31,000
    • V was released form Children’s Hospital
  • 2/26 Count at 160,000
  • 3/13 Count at 116,000
  • 3/26 Count at 46,000
    • Glass half empty – Another test ordered for Monday
  • 3/30 Count at 60,000
    • Glass half full – Though it was still lower than we wanted, his count had rebounded
  • 4/6 Inconclusive test
    • Glass half full – Even though the test was inconclusive, the doctor felt we could wait until our next weekly draw rather than redoing the test
  • 4/14 Count at 196,000
    • We could skip a week and get checked after our mini vacation to Florida
  • 5/1 Count at 101,000
    • No need to get blood drawn again, schedule appointment with hematologist to HOPEFULLY have one final check and be cleared

Today was, I’m happy to report, our final visit! His count came back at 287,000. V has been cleared by the hematologist. We no longer have to visit the lab for blood draws and can consider his ITP resolved however we should keep an eye out for atypical bruising and petechiae – both signs of ITP. For most kids it’s a one-and-done thing with treatment. We’re hoping this is the case for us. For now we feel fortunate that this can categorized as a blip on the radar of an otherwise perfectly healthy toddler.

– JLVR

More about our visit to Children’s and some of our learnings.

working mom

it’s not a threat, it’s a promise

May 28, 2015

Our little guy has had a rough go of it lately. He’s been a little off. I think he maybe picked up a bug going around school (aka daycare) which has made him a bit more irritable. He’s also waking up WAY TOO EARLY and we’re trying to get him back down for the extra sleep he needs. (Easier said than done). He may also be going through a bit more of an attachment phase. All of which has created the perfect storm in an approaching 2 year-old which has lead to a boy that will cry at the drop of a hat. (Dad puts a shirt on – he sobs. We put yogurt in a bowl instead of giving him the GIANT container – he sobs. You get the idea…)

That said, leaving the house and being dropped-off at daycare has been on the list of unpleasant activities as of late. The kid that enthusiastically kissed me goodbye and went with Dad into the car, then popped out of Dad’s arms at daycare to play with his friends before even getting his coat off is replaced by a crying clinging little boy.

You know it’s bad when my husband basically passes off duty on me for a day, and by ‘pass’ I mean ‘forces duty upon me’ by all but refusing to take V to daycare. So I, by default, got drop-off duty. (To be fair, my husband does literally 98% of both drop-off and pick-up, it’s VERY RARE for daycare to see me – likeever – so I figured I could step-up this one time).

Let me preface this by saying that I’m pregnant and hormonal (a card I typically do not play but when you read about my display and subsequent response you’ll understand why).

Getting out of the house was not a problem. Got in the car and drove to daycare without a hitch. Walked through the door and into his classroom… this is where the problems started. He didn’t want me to go and was jumping for me to pick him ‘up! up! up!’ when I set him down to pull off his coat. I decided to sit with him and figured that would get him acclimated to the room and he’d be good for me to go. He was not good to go. Every time I even mentioned getting ready to leave he started sobbing. I say sob because most of the time V doesn’t just cry he full on sobs – very dramatic this one. It was heartbreaking. I could feel tears welling in my eyes. Finally I had to rip the band-aid off and place him in the arms of the teacher and head out the door. I cried the entire way down the hall, out the door and in my car for a good portion of my commute. I literally couldn’t talk about it when I was at work because it would cause me to cry. It was the worst. No wonder my husband didn’t want to drop him off!

Then again it doesn’t help matters that work is particularly challenging which piles onto my stress level and really was not an attractive activity to have to leave a sobbing toddler for. I would have much rather been hanging with him than dealing with things at the office. After this particularly trying day both on home and work front I was spent. Later that night when my husband returned home we were chatting about the day. (I use the word ‘chatting’ loosely it was more like me venting intensely and him patiently listening to me). I told him, in no uncertain terms, that if he wanted me to be on drop-off duty for V again I would literally walk into work and put in my notice. This was not a threat, this was a promise. I literally can. not. do. it. A bit dramatic? Yes. Far fetched? Not so much.

motherhood

mother’s day reflection

May 13, 2015

This, my second official Mother’s Day, I found myself reflecting on my journey to become someone’s ‘Mama.’

Mentally, leading up to having V, I had a tough time with things. I’ve mentioned before that I have a hard time with change and was worried about about the whole ‘becoming a mom’ thing and my lack of maternal instinct. In short, I was just plain scared about this journey I had chosen to embark on.

Having V with us for going on two years now I think every day how much time I wasted being worried and scared for something that turned out to be the most amazing thing that has ever happened in my life.

This tiny human is, most of the time, pretty awesome. Seeing him learn about himself and the world around him is crazy cool. Getting a hug and kiss from him and hearing his voice say ‘Mama’ is beyond… literally BEYOND.

Yes motherhood has been all of those things they say: exhausting, amazing, rewarding, etc. But most of all it’s exceeded my limited expectations of what my life with a child would be like. Thankfully my husband knew better than me, because this whole parenting thing is pretty f-ing awesome. I’m so glad I listened to him. (Yes… you read that right.)

working mom

Rachel Zoe is my spirit animal

May 8, 2015

I was surfing my favorite news sites quickly yesterday afternoon during my 4:15PM lunch break at work (yes lunch) and stumbled upon a a quick read on USA Today Life which talks about designer and business owner Rachel Zoe and her claim that creating an office nursery was her best business decision yet. As a fellow working mom who was motivated and committed to returning to my career after maternity leave I just loved the approach she took. I was compelled to read her essay in its entirety.

The icing for me was this quote:

“My advice to you: Never apologize for being dedicated to your kids and challenge those around you to not only acknowledge, but celebrate your ability to be a mother and an asset in the workplace.”

Work/Life balance is always a struggle, one that parenthood adds an additional layer onto for both mom and dad. Though it’s one, I would argue, that has also made me a better employee.

Just loved this take from her, so refreshing.

It may only be one small step, but it was taken like a boss.

uncategorized

vacation hangover

May 7, 2015

Returning from vacation is always a bummer. As soon as it starts – it’s over. We had an amazing time and were spoiled with a fantastic location, beautiful weather and family fun. The toughest part though was leaving these guys to head back to work. Made even tougher by a particular challenging time at the office.

Digging in and trying to dig out of this vacation hangover.

The weekend cannot come soon enough! (Even though I may be working…)

newbie mom, working mom

my worst pumping experience at work

March 27, 2015

To this day, almost 16 months later, I am still bothered by this incident. I was newly back to the office and just felt so incredibly out of my element.

I was in one of our dressing rooms at work pumping prior to our Halloween party. I knew we’d be enjoying a few libations for the party and I wanted to partake. It was my first all agency social activity back from maternity leave and I was excited to catch-up with everyone.

If you’ve not had the pleasure of experiencing it, the act of pumping leaves you exposed no matter which way you slice it. I mean how can it not? You’re milking your damn self! So I was hanging in the dressing room, with my top pulled up, milking myself when there was a knock at the door…

The room was needed for a psychic/fortune teller for the party. I knew this and I knew when the party started. I purposely timed this activity. (I mean c’mon I’m a super organized planner by nature and trade… I knew what was up.)

The knock came again accompanied by the request to vacate for the not-yet-in-the-building psychic.

I said through the door ‘No problem, almost done. I will be out in a few minutes.’ A brief minute flew by and again… a knock…

Urgently was not a request but a voice telling me they need the room… NOW!

I literally finished-up in a rush (logistically, not easy) and hurried out the door flustered and fighting tears. I mean a psychic was going to use the room right? Couldn’t she see I needed more time? Not to mention that the psychic hadn’t even shown up yet!

I’m still steamed about the whole thing.

I just felt so exposed and like I had no place to go. It was truly the only time I felt this upon returning to work. It was likely compounded by my newness back to the office, to motherhood, to pumping and how quickly I’d returned to work from maternity leave. That said, it still felt awful. It’s one of those things that likely the person asking for the room, who no longer works at our agency, doesn’t realize how profoundly it affected me.

It may feel awkward to let people know you’ll be occupying a room for a period of time to pump, however I promise it’s far less awkward than negotiating through a door while you’re hooked up to a breast pump!

working mom

St. Patrick’s Day #momfail

March 17, 2015

St. Patrick’s Day is a huge day for the city of Cleveland. There are A LOT of Irish here. So celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is a thing. A BIG THING.

Though my heritage is not particularly Irish, I grew up in a household with a three-day stretch of celebration – my brother’s birthday, St. Pat’s and my birthday. It was glorious. Celebrating was fun. Definitely something I miss now that I’m a responsible adult in the real world. (Watching drunk people clad in green out your office window isn’t quite as exciting as partaking in the festivities.)

Last year, my little dude was 6 months. His very first St. Patrick’s Day. I prepared for the holiday in advance and got him a cute little onesie to dress him in for daycare to show his St. Paddy’s pride. Granted, the onesie may or may not have been for a girl… debatable… but at least it was themed so check it off the list. Done and done!

This year? Not so much. Two of the three of us left the house yesterday, the 16th, with green on. My husband had a green tie and little dude had a green thermal shirt. Today, the 17th, one of the three of us left the house in green. I have on green pants.

We literally didn’t have a thing to scrounge up for the little guy to wear this morning. Barely a stitch of clean laundry in his current size and none of it had a hint of green. Worse still is that we didn’t even have a save, like sticker or anything to throw on his shirt. (I made the parenting decision that an 18 month old is still too young to responsibly wear Mardi Gras beads, especially ones adorned with little green beer mugs). The closest we could have come, if we would have thought of it, was some green self adherent wrap tape from his hospital stay that we could have wrapped around his wrist as a bracelet. (He does love a good accessory). But no dice.

Sorry kid, you’re our only one (for now) and just 18 months old but we don’t have our act together enough to get you out the door in anything festive. We promise to do better next year.

#parentingfail