Here is my life as a working city mom: waking up in the morning, getting myself and beautiful Penelope ready, loading us onto a bus at 7:30 (or closer to 8, as it usually ends up), during the height of morning rush hour, walking to daycare, dropping off my child with people who may or may not be somewhat incompetent, walking back to work, where I try to care about budgets and middle donor segments and office politics, all while pumping milk 3 times. Then getting on a bus without the beautiful Penelope, but in the height of afternoon rush hour traffic, and getting home after 6 pm, which is usually when beautiful Penelope is ready for a nap.
Yesterday my cute pink stylish hair dryer busted and I left the house with wet hair. Everyone else was wearing jackets, but I was wearing a baby with a very slight fever, so I guess it evened out. I thought I smelled throw up on the street again and wondered what drunk zombies had been wandering around in my neighborhood on a Wednesday night. When the bus arrived at the stop, 3 or 4 people quickly boarded ahead of me, obviously not phased by the infant strapped to my chest, and they grabbed the last of the handicapped seats. I slowly walked toward the back of the bus, silently pleading for someone to offer me a seat but no one did. Luckily I was able to grab the last seat toward the middle, where the bus looks like an accordion, crammed between two people, one of whom would receive a constant baby kick all the way to work. The commute was typical--I sat perched uncomfortably, with my knees squeezed together, holding one bag between my legs. My left hand juggled another bag and Penelope's head as she drifted off to sleep. I used my right hand to feed her a bottle, and cling to a burp rag. I used my soul to pray that today wouldn't be the day that my fears would become reality and she will projectile spit up on everyone around her. A man standing in front of me smiled as if to say Penelope was cute. This is not cute, I wanted to correct him. This is harder than Pilate's.
Today, (with dry hair this time) Penelope and I headed out to the bus stop and there was that puke smell again. We got on a bus and even managed to get a seat. A nice lady smiled at us and asked how old Penelope was. "Do you smell throw up?" I asked, sniffing. Maybe I'd stepped in it. "I keep smelling it, and now I'm paranoid that it's me". She smiled sweetly, "Maybe a little." she confessed, "maybe she spit up?" she offered as an explanation "..but she's really cute." I could tell she was a nice person trying to soften the blow. Sigh. So the whole time I was the throw up smell. I tried to think back to how long I'd been smelling it in the mornings-- a week? two? maybe that's why no one offers me a seat. I started sniffing myself, my baby, and decided it must be the baby carrier, but I still haven't found the source.
Today while I juggled bags, baby and bottle the nice lady wanted to talk. She has a son named Conner and is expecting her second in March. After she got off a guy with very broad shoulders took her spot, so I scootched over to a now open seat and found myself next to my neighbor who also has a young baby. (She doesn't bring hers on public transit like a lunatic). We talked about our babies (hers is also named Conner, it turns out), then she got off the bus and we continued on. Finally at our stop, I carried sleepy baby under an El train track, liquid dripping on us, Penelope cringing as the train drummed over our heads. Then we walked past a trumpet street musician who seemed to play his song directly into our faces. We passed Mr. Street Guy who composes his own songs as he sings them, then through a very long construction period. A large truck was pouring rocks onto a conveyor belt, while another section contained a jackhammer. I tried to cover her ears. We passed the fire department, where today, luckily there was no fire alarm. And we continued on. The daycare loomed ahead, looking like the tower of Mordor.
I dropped her off, which, needless to say, is never my favorite part of the day, and walked all the way back to work- another 20 minute walk through the same obstacles mentioned. As I got back into the building the daycare called to tell me they didn't have any bottles for her. "Yes there are," I insisted "They're in the freezer there filled with milk." The lady said she'd check and call me back.
When I got to my desk, they were calling again. This time it was my least favorite worker-- the one Danny had witnessed accidentally giving another baby my breast milk a couple weeks ago-- she was telling me there weren't any bottles. When I told her they were in the freezer she insisted there weren't any, just milk.
"What is holding the milk?"
"Those tubes are bottles."
"Oh. Well there still aren't nipples" Ah. I lose.
So I turned around and made the trek again, this time with a nipple I happened to have in my purse.
I got to give Penelope extra kisses when I dropped it off. She was sucking on four of her fingers and didn't seem to notice me or my kisses.
I rushed back to work to start my day, about one hour later than intended. When I went to open my bag to pump, I found yesterday's milk. Apparently I hadn't left it in the fridge, instead it had sat out all night in my bag. That's 15 ounces of milk I had to throw away. To put this in perspective, that is a day of food for Penelope.
I took a coffee break and came back to my desk. This day is now going to be awesome. Up to now it has been somewhat not awesome. But that is going to change, I can just feel it. Starting right now. 11:51. I take a sip of my coffee and realize it's not what I ordered. Okay, starting NOW. 11:52....