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04/20/2006

Asked and answered

Thank you, all of you, for your warm and encouraging comments on my last entry.  It's been a hard decision to make, as I know you appreciate, and I can't assume anything about the next few months will be easy, so I am profoundly grateful for your support.

I know our choice has caused some surprise, some consternation, some eyebrows raised so high they've circumnavigated a head or two.  And some of you, I'm sure, have questions, which you are too polite to ask.  I thank you for your discretion. 

Well, most of you.

Since I am all about the fair and free exchange of ideas here, a "hundred flowers bloom"er, if you will, I will answer the questions left in the comments by Emilie.

Emilie said:

My first thought, sad to say, was "What does she do for a living that she gets to stay home AND pay through the nose to get on this ride again?"

Ah, Emilie, I am living the American dream known as working from home.

Before Charlie was born, that meant that I would roll out of bed approximately five minutes before I was due to start work — long enough to find my glasses, make a cup of coffee, and trudge into my office, all before actually opening my eyes or pulling my jaw out of sleepy slackness — and settle in for a long stint in front of my computer, pushing buttons, pulling levers, controlling the media, toppling Communism, shaping the prevailing cultural currents, stabilizing the global economy, and inventing the Internet.

Immediately after Charlie's birth, it meant calling my supervisor from the hospital, where I was still catheterized and confined to bed with vibrating moon boots, and sheepishly confessing, "So, ahhh...I thought we'd be having a very different conversation today..."  I'd scheduled a conference call for that day to let my employers know that I was pregnant, and to present my strategy for maternity leave, thinking that giving ten weeks' notice left plenty of time.  Instead, I was telling them I'd had a baby, would need a leave of indeterminate length, and hissing, "Please, I beg of you, don't mail out my cell number."

I'm pretty sure that did wonders for the professional credibility I'd spent four years trying to build.

Once we were back at our house with Charlie, working from home was easier than I'd expected because of my frequent need to pump, which I did at my desk.  I did spend a lot of time holding down the mute button on the phone so that my colleagues wouldn't hear the labored wheeze of the Lactina, and fighting off the crazy urge to announce, "I bet you can't guess what I'm doing right now," but, all in all, it worked well.

Now that Charlie's awake, mobile, alert, and engaged, working from home means day care two mornings a week; naptimes mostly spoken for; e-mails begun but not yet sent; six months of invoices sent in a clump; exponentially more mistakes; reliance on the goodwill and understanding of my co-workers who have children at home themselves; and phone calls wrapped up with, "I don't mean to be abrupt, but do you have anything else?  Because that diarrhea-pocked crib sheet isn't going to change itself..."

I think that about covers my distinguished career, which seems these days to be at its very apex.

Moving on:

Followed by "I wonder what she has to give up (financially) to do this?"

Here is what I've had to give up:

Faberge

  • Dropping Fabergé eggs from highway overpasses onto the windshields of passing cars
  • Lighting cigarettes with $100 bills and then wastefully stubbing the cigarettes out without taking a single drag
  • My stake as majority shareholder in the vast and vibrant cockfighting empire I built from the ground up
  • Buying prime-grade unicorn steaks at the grocery store, grudgingly settling instead for choice
  • Dropping a quarter into the coffee cup of the homeless person huddled in the doorway of the bank

What's Charlie giving up?

Well, first he had to give up smoking — tobacco and dope — which made him crankier than you would believe, but since studies are unequivocal on its negative impact on fertility, we insisted.  Next, we felt he should cut out the caffeine, but, not wanting to go overboard, we've compromised and now give him half-caf in his morning sippy cup.  And of course alcohol is forbidden, although I plan to allow an exception during the few days between retrieval and transfer, because a toddler can't be expected to go completely cold turkey.  Look, his body's a goddamn temple, all right?  And I'm not going to have the outcome of this cycle jeopardized just because Charlie can't butch up and live without his precious undercooked pork for a few weeks, know what I'm saying?  If he has to go around with dark roots during the first trimester, hey, suck it up, kiddo.  We're all sacrificing here. 

Oh, you wanted to know what Charlie's giving up financially?  Well, it's going to be a lean Christmas, that's for sure.  I don't know how to tell the poor kid he'll only be getting one pony.

Want to know anything else?  All you have to do is ask.

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