Tag Archives: breast feeding

It’s not that hard: a nursing mom’s dilemma

So, next week I am scheduled to attend a one-day conference not far from home.  When I registered, there was a section about special needs.  I filled it out to indicate that I will need a nursing mother’s room in which to pump.  The conference is from 9am to 5pm, with a two hour drive before and after it.  I will need to pump at least once.

So, today I get an email from the conference organizer, CCing the Director of Catering and Convention Services who, I’m told, “has a suitable room on the third floor of the hotel.”  And whom I should contact directly for specifics.

Below is our exchange.



To:  Director of Convention Services

From: Momma, PhD

Hi Director Woman-

I will be attending the [Conference Name] event next week and will need a private space in which to pump (I’m a nursing mom).

[Conference Organizer Woman] suggested I contact you directly for the details.

Thanks very much for your accommodations.

Momma, PhD



From: Director of Conference Services

To:  Momma, PhD

Hi Momma, PhD, I did speak to [Conference Organizer Woman]. We have a large REST ROOM* with a comfortable chair on our third floor. It is private and the door locks. I will be in at 8am on the 3rd. Feel free to ask for me and I can show you the space.

Regards, Director Woman

(*emphasis mine, as in, she wants me to pump milk in a place designed for people to urinate and deficate, and then feed it to my baby.  Is this the space that Federal Law requires them to provide?  Certainly it mustn’t be since that law specifies it can’t be a bathroom.)



To:  Director of Convention Services

From: Momma, PhD

I thank you for your effort, however, a bathroom isn’t going to work.  Is there a guest room I could pop into, or even a conference room with a lock?  Pumping milk in a bathroom isn’t really sanitary.



From: Director of Conference Services

To:  Momma, PhD

The meeting space is committed. What times will you need so I can come up with another solution.



To:  Director of Convention Services

From: Momma, PhD

The lunch break is from 11am to 1pm.  Assuming things will run over (as they always do), a 30min period sometime between 11:30am and 1pm would suffice.

In the past, venues have just given me access to a guest room (at hotels) or the employee nursing mother’s room.

Does the [large hotel] not have a nursing mother’s room available for employees?  That would work.



From: Director of Conference Services

To:  Momma, PhD

I just spoke to our reservationist we are trying to work out half of a parlor suite. Please stand by.



From: Director of Conference Services

To:  Momma, PhD

We will certainly make a reasonable effort to accommodate your needs.* I am not sure if you had seen my last email.

(*Emphasis mine.  Where I come from, this translates as:  “You are a pain in the @ss and I’ve already exerted a tremendous amount of effort to deal with your unreasonable demands, so kiss my behind.”)



To:  Director of Convention Services

From: Momma, PhD

Well, if you cannot accommodate me, please let me know because it will mean I am unable to attend.*

(*Where I come from this translates as, “Give me a flipping break.  You are a HOTEL, full of rooms.  Check out is at noon.  Check in is at 3pm.  I need a room for a whopping 30 minutes anytime between between 11:30am and 1pm.  If I do not pump, my boobs will explode.  Federal law says you should have a room that fits my needs.  Figure it the f^$k out.”)



From: Director of Conference Services

To:  Momma, PhD

I am sure we can, I just need to make sure we have an available guest room. Honestly I am not trying to be difficult.*

(*Emphasis is mine.  Heads up- if you are in a customer service profession and have to say this to a customer in need of service, you are not doing your job well)



From: Director of Conference Services

To:  Momma, PhD

I will have a room for you but will have to let you know where it is the day of event. The hotel is going into a sold out situation and knowing you wont need the room first thing when you arrive is great information to have.

We will certainly work this out. You can ask for me when you arrive and I will get you to the right place.



To:  Director of Convention Services

From: Momma, PhD

OK.  Thanks.  I appreciate your efforts.  This is my second kid, and I’ve done this for many conferences, and never had it be such a problem for the venue.*

(*Emphasis mine.  Where I come from this translates as, “You are bad at your job and even though you are helping me, I’m still pissed off by your ineptitude.”)



From: Director of Conference Services

To:  Momma, PhD

The issue is we are very busy. Which is good! [insert smiley face emoticon here]


That was the exchange.  How do you respond to a smiley face emoticon?  Is that standard operating procedure for a Director of Convention Services?


Filed under #scimom, breastfeeding, Mother, Scientist

Who drinks the most coffee?

Have you seen this?

Source. Read more about it here or here.

I’m not really surprised that Scientists/Lab Techs are at the very top.

I fought it for a long time.  I’ve been working in labs for about 13 years now.  It wasn’t until I started my current job that I finally succumbed, and now I crave coffee and drink 1 to 3 cups a day.

What changed?  Well, I could say I had kids, but what it really came down to was accessibility.

My current job (probably because scientists are at the top of that list) has Keurig machines in every kitchen, on every floor, of every building in our complex.  Along with the machines, there are 5 to 6 types of coffees (only 1 is decaf) and 3 kinds of tea.  There is powdered creamer on the counter, along with whole, skim, and half and half in the fridge.  You can choose from sugar, Equal, or Sweet n’ Low.  There’s also 3 kinds of hot chocolate (sugar-free, regular, and mini-marshmallow).  Some kitchens have espresso machines and assorted varieties of those as well.

Before certain meetings, there is a line for the machines.  The facilities staff includes people whose job it is just to keep all of that stocked.  On days the K-cup shipment arrives, it looks like we won a lifetime supply of coffee on The Price Is Right.

Now, while it’s nice and generous of my company to provide these, I don’t think they are being entirely altruistic.  By providing all of this- feeding the compulsion of the scientific staff, they are keeping us all on-site.  No need to make a Starbucks run when you have FREE coffee right down the hall.

I have always loved the smell of coffee, but I was never a fan of the taste.  When I started my current job, the constant smell of coffee was irresistible.  So, I started off slow.  A cup of French Vanilla here or there, not everyday.  Then I tried this Vanilla Hazelnut flavor and that was it.  Now I’m hooked. Last year for our anniversary, my parents even got Mac and me a Keurig.  He uses it mostly just to make hot water (either for tea or for warming bottles), I use it for coffee.

Once I was pregnant with Nemo, I kept it to one cup most days, two cups max (see here for why).  That changed once he was born- my consumption picked up considerably.  (I did not worry about caffeine and the breast feeding- see here for info.)  While I was still home on maternity leave, I had at least a cup a day.  After I went back to work and could no longer sleep in or take a nap, that turned into two cups a day, most days.  Somedays I have a third after the kids are in bed and I can sit and savor it.

As for what kind I drink, that’s changed too.  At work I still drink the Vanilla Hazelnut.  At home I’d mostly kept to French Vanilla that people got me as gifts or Hazelnut Cream I could pick up in the store.  Now I surf Amazon looking for sampler packs of delicious sounding varieties.  What I’m currently working on?  This:

You can find it here if you want.

Caramel cappuccino, delish!

Southern Pecan, yum!

Wild Mountain Blueberry, wow!

Apple Caramel Pie, heaven help me!

I think I have a problem.

During Hurricane Sandy, on the day we were without power, I had no coffee.  I really wanted coffee.  I thought, should I hook the Keurig up to the generator?  Then I thought, no you idiot, you should not use the generator to power your coffee machine!  So, I sent Mac to the Dunkin Donuts up the street (oddly, it was only a teeny tiny portion of our neighborhood that lost power.  Our neighbor backlots had power and I seriously considered asking if we could run an extension cord from his window.)  I told him to get a BIG cup and not to put creamer or anything in it (hi, no power=no refrigeration) so I could stretch it out and reheat it on the stove.  Well, I nearly cried when I put the “supposedly no refrigeration needed/Walmart sold me an expired product” little creamer in my coffee and it curdled.  I though, maybe just that one was bad, so I tried again.  Happened again.  Got a new box of the little creamers only to find they were expired (thanks for nothing Walmart), but since I was desperate, and they’d only expired in September (unlike the other box that expired in February, months BEFORE I bought them at Walmart), I used the more recently expired ones and managed to get one little cup of coffee.  When I realized that the treat Mac had brought be was a fluffy donut (which I HATE) instead of a cakey donut (which I LOVE), I nearly cried.

Can you say “First world problems?”

Let me reiterate, I think I have a problem.


Filed under #scimom, breastfeeding, Mother, pregnancy, Recipes, Scientist

Toronto as a Mother (Part 3)

To start from the beginning, Epilogue, Part 1, Part 2.

As I mentioned in my previous post, when my boss suggested I go to ISSCR, I knew I didn’t want to go if I had to go alone.  The conference plus travel would mean 6 days away from my little family.  I knew I wanted Mac, my husband, to come with me, but I wasn’t so sure about bringing Mabel.

Back in October, when Mabel was 9 months old, I attended a conference in Philadelphia.  The conference was only 2.5 days and Philly was only a 3 hour drive.  Also, at the time, I was still breastfeeding, so, bringing Mabel was a no-brainer.  I had been away for an overnight without Mabel once before, having to pump while away, and it was basically 20 hours of being uncomfortable.  Breast pumps are wonderful inventions, but they are no substitute for a baby- particularly for me.  For me, the pump was never able to do a thorough job of expressing all my milk,  so being away from Mabel meant I’d pump, become engorged again in a few hours, and have to pump again.  That was tolerable for an overnight, but there was no way I wanted to do that for several days- it was physically uncomfortable, I didn’t have enough expressed milk to leave with Mabel, and it was a risk to my milk supply in general (not completely draining would be a signal to make less milk).  So, we went as a family of three.

Mac and Mabel at Reading Terminal Market

In Philly, it was a hassle running back to the room during all the breaks, and it stunk that Mac and Mabel had to stay close to the hotel so I could nurse, but you gotta do what you gotta do.  Being in a hotel room with a 9 month old was not fun.  When Mabel woke, everyone was awake.  When Mabel went to sleep, we had to turn off the lights and the TV, stay quiet, and try not to disturb her.  We could only go out to eat at kid-friendly places, at kid friendly times.

Well, breast feeding wasn’t a factor in the decision whether or not to take Mabel to Toronto since she weaned around her first birthday.  However, all the other stuff mentioned above did factor in as a ‘con’ to taking her along.  The pros included- not having to be away from her for 6 days, getting to take a family vacation, exploring the kid-friendly side of Toronto.

Now, the pros/cons of leaving her with Nana and Pop.  Pros:  sleep (as in not getting woken in the night and sleeping in every morning), go wherever we wanted whenever we wanted whether or not it was kid-friendly, not having to take a 7 hour car ride with a toddler, not cramming in one room, not having to get her Passport.  Cons:  missing our girl for 6 days!

I’m making it sound like it was a debate, but really it wasn’t.  There was no way Mabel could have come with us simply for the fact that we didn’t have a Passport for her.  So it was decided that she’d stay with her grandparents- who were ecstatic to have her to themselves for almost an entire week!  Pop took 2 days from off from work, and Nana took another 2 days.  We set up Skype on Nana’s computer, packed Mabel’s bag, met Pop in a McDonald’s parking lot, made the transfer, and hit the road.

It was definitely a little nerve-racking to be leaving Mabel for 6 days when we were going to be 7 hours away in a different country.  We filled out the necessary paperwork to make sure my parents could make medical decisions for her if necessary, and left an insurance card in the diaper bag.  Thankfully none of that was needed while we were gone.

As a scientist, compared to the last conference, it was a lot easier to focus during ISSCR without Mabel in the vicinity.  During the scientific sessions I was able to let myself become completely engrossed.  During the poster session, I wasn’t rushing back for bedtime.  So science-wise, it was definitely better to not travel with child.

Momma-wise, it wasn’t too bad.  The first couple of days were pretty easy.  We Skyped and I spoke to her on the phone.  However, after maybe the third day, I definitely started to miss her.  I would notice other families and wish she were there.  I would hear a child cry and instantly think of her.  I would wonder what she was doing and really, really wish I could give/get a hug and a kiss.

Overall, I think Mac and I made the right decision to leave her with my parents for the week.  As a scientist, it was much easier for me to focus on the conference while we were there.  As a wife, Mac and I got to adventure together as a couple.  As a mom, it was reassuring to know that she’s a capable, well-adjusted kid who didn’t seem to care at all that her parents weren’t there!

My mom and dad went to Toronto and all I got was this yummy gingerbread cookie!


Filed under Mabel, Mother, Scientist