Archive for November, 2008
Milkin’ Mamas

I decided that while I am busy being unemployed, I should do something useful with my time.  With the job application process at least temporarily behind me and my eye feeling better over the past couple of weeks, I figured I would take the plunge and start donating some of my breast milk.  Holden will be starting solids in just a few short weeks and will likely be dropping feedings as a result.  So, I figured I could pump once each day or every other day and start freezing some milk for preterm, low birth weight, and critically ill infants.  I wanted to donate milk through our local hospital, but a cursory search didn’t turn up any organizations accepting human milk donations.  There are many national human milk banks, and I finally chose to donate to Milkin’ Mamas.  My application to donate milk was approved today and I got to speak to the super nice coordinator over the phone.  I have to get H’s pediatrician and my midwife to sign off on H’s weight/height gain and on my health status, and then I have to have bloodwork done to confirm the absence of infectious disease that could be passed to the babies receiving the milk.  The milk is processed after it has been donated and then it is sold to hospitals to be given to the babies in need.  I am really excited about being able to help—for many of these babies, having human milk means that they recover faster and leave the NICU sooner.

There are some interesting (and thought-provoking) news articles out there about cross-feeding, or breastfeeding another woman’s baby.  On the surface, it seems like a horrifying proposition that is unsanitary and just….well, difficult for us to accept.  But when you read stories about the breastfeeding mother who traveled to Sudan and breastfed infants who were on the verge of death, the impropriety that our culture has placed on these acts seems trivial.  Certainly, the CDC is not wrong to warn against nursing other women’s babies as there are many communicative diseases that can be passed through breastmilk.  And maybe milk banks are our compromise.  We can donate milk safely and anonymously without violating any of the unspoken rules about how a baby should receive his or her nutrition.  Honestly, I would not breastfeed another woman’s baby for the heck of it, but if someone paid for my flight to Africa, I would nurse a baby in need without question.  But I am not hopping on a plane to Africa.  I live here in Vermont, in this frozen tundra I call home, with my husband, my son, our pets, my electric breast pump, and a freezer filled with bags of frozen milk, destined for tiny, empty stomachs….

56 pages

That is how much material I just stuck into an envelope as part of my most recent job application.  Fifty-six pages.  Granted, that includes five of my published articles, but that is still a lot of writing to do in just a couple of weeks.  Once Holden wakes up from his nap, I am going to bundle him up and we will be off to the post office to drop this bad boy in the mail.  And hopefully that will mark the last of my job applications…for a while.  With any luck, I will get a call to come out and give a talk.  My fingers are super crossed for this one.  And I have to say, the most kick ass part of this job is that it starts in August!  So I have a few months to spend with H if I happen to get this job.  Of course, a good chunk of the next few months would have to be devoted to hammering out a more solid research plan, but I have to say that constructing a research statement as part of the application process got me thinking more about what kind of experiments I would like to run.  Now I can enjoy Thanksgiving without suffering from job application hangover….

Have a great Turkey day everyone!

Five months

It’s hard to believe that our little guy is now 5 months old.  This week seemed to usher in many new abilities for our ample boy.  He now sits up regularly to play with his toys (but still requires a circle of pillows to protect his head from the hardwood floors in the event of a fall):

A new and surprising talent of Holden’s is that he can hold his bottle to feed himself. He rarely gets a bottle, and in fact, the last time he had a bottle was over a month ago. I had pumped a bottle for Holden this morning so he would have food while I went out with my friend S for two hours in the afternoon for some girl shopping time. Imagine our surprise when Holden not only grabbed onto the bottle, but brought it to his mouth and started drinking from it completely on his own!

Look at how proud his Momma is! This new skill was so amazing to us because his experience with bottles has been so limited—not only did he know exactly what to do with the bottle, but he was able to flexibly apply his existing set of motor skills to a novel situation. We are so impressed!

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall…

Things have been quiet on this blog recently because I’ve been knee-deep in job application hell.  I’ve already reneged on my vow to steer clear of academic jobs.  I am indeed applying for an academic job.  It’s tenure-track and it’s in Maine.  And as I’ve poured hours into crafting a research statement, I’ve felt increasingly that I don’t have what it takes to get this job.  And I’ve found myself wondering why in the hell I’m in this field anyway.  Science was always my worst subject.  Seriously.  It’s been over a year since I’ve been fully involved in the lab; during my pregnancy I was very limited in what I could do and spent most of my time in front of the microscope, an activity that ended up going nowhere.  Because of all of that down time, I don’t have any new data to publish and I feel more and more like I’m on a raft without an oar, watching the only piece of land in sight shrink to a mere speck on the horizon.  There’s no funding to attend academic conferences, no babysitter to give me a hour to attend a seminar or two, and if my VPN access goes away, then I will be truly screwed.  In all honesty, I am very excited for this job and I am anxious about how I will come across on paper and during a talk.  And if I get the job, I will continue to be anxious because I do not like to disappoint.  I’ve asked virtually everyone I know to review my statement of teaching philosophy, my cover letter, and my research proposal.  I’ve gotten some stellar advice.  I still can’t shake that feeling that I won’t be good enough, especially as I pour through the literature and realize that I truly have gotten behind ALREADY.  I’ve only been out of work a few months.  

I’m going to change the subject now because, in spite of the immense stress of job-hunting while taking care of H, I had a happy end to the day today.  Generally speaking, this past week has been a whiny one for H.  I believe his gums are bothering him, and he is unhappy laying on his back.  But he hasn’t been able to sit up on his own either.  And it’s unreasonable for me to keep him propped up with my hands for hours on end.  On Monday, we had the pleasure of meeting our friend’s new little baby, 5-week old Maddie:

Isn’t she sweet?!  While there, H got to try out Maddie’s Bumbo seat:

I wanted to see how he would like it, as it had the potential of solving all of our sitting problems.  Well, guess what?  It’s hard to tell from the photo, but HIS THIGHS ARE TOO FAT FOR THE BUMBO!!!  When I went to pick him up out of it, the Bumbo seat was stuck to his butt because he was wedged in there so tightly.  Although the Bumbo seat is awesome, it’s not going to work for our full-figured man.  He is getting too big for so many of his gadgets, yet developmentally he could still really benefit from them.  So I told him that he needed to learn to sit on his own because he is miserable laying on his back and he is too fat for the little baby seats.  What other choice does he have?  

Up to this point, H would sit unassisted for mere seconds before toppling over unapologetically.  But I suppose suffering the indignity of having your large infant ass get stuck in a Bumbo seat served as motivation for him to get with the sitting.  Today when we practiced sitting, he demonstrated much better control for longer periods of time than ever before.  Moreover, he would perform self-corrective movements to maintain his posture, which is something I’d never seen him do.  He would also put a hand on the floor to brace himself and prevent himself from falling over.  As the day wore on, he would sit for longer and longer, while trying to flip through the pages of one of his books (it’s no Being and Time, but still):

Here he is surrounded by pillows to cushion the occasional fall¹:

But he still detests tummy time:

And still does not roll from tummy-to-back. 


1.  Falls are typically preceded by the following series of events:  (1) the cat struts casually past H; (2) H follows the cat with his gaze; (3) H turns his head as the cat casually leaves H’s field of view; (4) H attempts to look over his shoulder at the cat who is now behind him; (5) H falls over backwards; (6) cat runs away anxiously as if he didn’t know that was going to happen (although he totally did).

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