I didn't know if I'd need to leave Kavi at home with Kevin and a bottle, dash downtown, do the panel, and run back home again? Or if I would take her with me and she would then proceed to howl through the whole panel, infuriating all the other attendees? Or, if I went for a longer day, but without nursing (because she only consistently nurses when I'm lying down, not so convenient at a convention) or pumping (because our little mobile pump has gotten milk into its innards and is no longer working), whether my breasts would be spewing milk all over the place, embarrassing me and proving a hazard to my friends. Could I do this? Would we survive?
The answer is yes, though with a few surprises along the way. Here's a few things I learned:
- You will not leave on time: People had warned me that it took an extra hour to get out of the house with a kid, but I didn't believe them. How hard could it be to stick the kid in the stroller, grab a diaper bag and go? Well, I'm not sure how it happened, but although I meant to leave the house at 8:30, by the time I had packed up her new diaper bag (grabbing an extra top for me and two extra outfits for her, just in case) and tried (and failed) to make the pump work, she had gotten hungry again, so then we sat down and fed her, and then it had been long enough that I needed to pump again, so we actually left the house at 10. Babies are not friendly to rigid schedules. Now I know.
- Everyone will want to pet the baby: This is just fine with me, actually, but I can imagine that it would freak out some mothers. I had Kavya in a Baby Bjorn, so she was snuggled up against my chest and sleeping most of the time, which made lots of people sad, because they wanted to hold the baby. I did pull her out and pass her off to a few friends who seemed like they knew what they were doing with babies, and then it was just a matter of getting her back in time to go to the next panel. I was late to a lot of panels. :-)
- Other people can hold the baby: I had arranged in advance that Jed would hold her while I was on a panel, so at lunch, I took Kavi out of the Bjorn, passed her to another friend, put the Bjorn on him, and put her back in it (where she promptly fell asleep). He carried her for two hours, and seemed quite pleased with how hands-free and foolproof the Bjorn carrier is (it even takes care of neck support for you), though when we walked past the construction guys on our way to get chai at Starbucks, Jed was a bit embarrassed at the way they stared at him. We think it wasn't the baby, though, but the pink and brown paisley diaper backpack he was wearing. Oops. Regardless, passing her off for a couple of hours gave my back a nice break, and let me feel like I wasn't on baby-duty the entire time.
- She will squawk: Kavya was very good through most of the panels, but by the last one (Class Issues and Superheroes, or, Why Batman Is a Millionaire), she was getting a little restless. Standing up and pacing back and forth mostly calmed her, but then, out of the blue, she let out a loud squawk of annoyance. I have no idea why -- she wasn't hungry, certainly. But it wasn't hard to deal with -- I just stepped out of the room and walked her in the hallway a bit 'til she calmed down, then came back in. I don't think she was unduly disruptive to the rest of the panelists, though I suppose someone may have been seething with resentment and I just didn't know it. To which I say, "Tough noogies. Suck it up." I have very little patience with people who have no patience with well-behaved babies, even in professional settings. Though this may be a topic for a whole 'nother blog entry.
- Leaking happens: I was wearing LilyPadz, which are little rubber nipple shields -- you press them down over your nipples, and they're supposed to keep the milk in. They're much less visible under your clothes than the cotton pads, so I was excited to be able to wear a fitted t-shirt with them. But at the end of the six hours I was there, my breasts had had enough of the holding the milk in, and the left one let go with a good gush of milk that soaked the front of my shirt. Luckily, I had Kavi back in the Bjorn on my chest at that point, and was getting ready to go home anyway, so no one noticed, and I was able to change clothes when I got back. But if I were at a more formal business conference, I think I'd need to either pump/nurse every few hours to be safe, or wear the absorbent pads and change them frequently.