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Thread: traveling for work first month postpartum

  1. #1
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    Feb 2012
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    Default traveling for work first month postpartum

    so, i'd love to get some of y'alls brilliant ideas just to brainstorm.

    i'm due with my 2nd oct 21. i am also on the academic job market, which means this: when/if a job, wherever it is in the country, calls me, i might only have a week (or even less) before they'll want me to fly out and visit. these visits are typically 3 FULL LONG days & 2 nights. in my field, the first major wave of these visits happen in november; my colleague last year had 3 fly-outs in november. there may be some flexibility - for example, if they call i can request to come in as their 3rd (last) interviewee, which might buy me a week or two or three. but there also may not; it sometimes happens that they just move on to another person if you can't visit when they want you to (this happened to a friend of mine last year; the job wanted her to fly out 2 weeks postpartum after a c-section). i am the breadwinner for our family so these trips are not optional.

    so: worst case scenario, if my baby comes late (1st came at 41+6, but i have the gut feeling this one will be early/earlier) and i get an early interview, i could need to travel at one week postpartum (which is my doctor's earliest allowable). and i could need to travel multiple times in the first month. this is worst case for baby & me personally, but of course best case professionally. i will not have teaching or other obligations during that time - i'll be on leave.

    there will be different options, including potentially taking baby + a caretaker with me, or leaving baby and toddler at home with dad (SAHD) with some babysitting/daycare support, depending on when & where & how far away. and i'll be able to schedule pumping time in. but even if i took baby i will be away for 10-12 hours a day during the interviews. i also have an offer from a friend of some donor milk, because i may not be able to pump enough in advance to leave for 3 days.

    my doula is an IBCLC and she will also help me through this, but there are so many wise people here i thought i'd see what your advice is and if there are things i haven't thought about. I know this is going to suck, and i've spent most of the pregnancy trying to prepare for it both logistically & emotionally.

    oh, and my first birth was uncomplicated vaginal, no tearing, and i was (slowly) walking around at the dog park and doing stairs in my apartment at 4 days postpartum. i had essentially zero nursing problems, and plenty of milk (donated 500 oz in the first year), but i also don't want to get pumping so much/so early i cause oversupply problems. so i hope/expect things will go as smoothly this time, though of course i know these things are unpredictable.

    thanks!
    DS1 6/7/11
    DS2 10/29/13

    Nursing, pumping, cloth-diapering, babywearing, working professor mama with the awesomest SAHD ever.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: traveling for work first month postpartum

    My gut feeling is take baby with you. Even if you are apart for 10 or 12 hours, that's still better for both you and baby than being apart for 3 days straight. You're going to WANT to be with baby and baby will want to be with you, and you'll be establishing your nursing relationship - I just think it will be so hard not to be together as much as you can be. What are your caretaker options? It's a tough situation but you'll make it work.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: traveling for work first month postpartum

    including potentially taking baby + a caretaker with me
    How feasible is this? Because if I were in your shoes, you know that is the one I would choose if I could.

    but even if i took baby i will be away for 10-12 hours a day during the interviews.
    Why? If you went to the expense and trouble to fly your baby and a caregiver to an interview site, wouldn't it make sense to have the caregiver periodically bring the baby to you, in order to nurse, while you are interviewing? OR, Why can't a baby, a tiny newborn who will be sleeping most of the time, simply be with you, maybe in a sling, while you interview, and if baby starts getting fussy or poops or is otherwise being too much of a baby-call in the care giver for a hand off. Assuming there are no breastfeeding challenges, nursing your baby, perhaps in a sling, might well be much simpler, less obtrusive and make much more sense than trying to find a place to pump (or hand express) 3 or 4 times during a 10-12 hour interview. Which you will have to do for your own health, or you are going to get engorged and risk mastitis.

    Appariently with no ability to be flexible, in the age of Skype and teleconferencing, your potential employers will be insisting upon long distance travel to interviews a month or less after you give birth. Nursing at the breast is how a newborn baby is fed. Ergo, baby needs to be with you.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: traveling for work first month postpartum

    Auderey, what field are you in and how's the job market in that field? Are these individual interviews, where you go in, give a talk, meet the department, etc., or is it the style where a whole group of candidates is rounded up and interviewed one right after another? (It sounds like the former...?)

    I would definitely bring baby and caretaker. I know interviews can be exhausting, but whoever is scheduling it should be willing to build some breaks into your schedule. In my DH's department, there's a sign-up sheet and the candidate meets with whoever signs up, and then there are usually some scheduled outings (lunches) and talks (job talk, colloquium). Anyway, if the sheet had a few 1/2 hours slots blocked off for pump/nurse breaks, I think this would be very doable!
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  5. #5
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    Default Re: traveling for work first month postpartum

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*bfwmomof3 View Post
    You're going to WANT to be with baby and baby will want to be with you, and you'll be establishing your nursing relationship - I just think it will be so hard not to be together as much as you can be. .
    yes, i know this is true! i remember how hard it was to leave my first just to go upstairs for 2 hours to prep my course at 3 weeks ... caretaker options - i could potentially bring dad (and/or toddler), or have my mom or my sister travel out to meet me, or even hire someone locally to the interview. all of those will be expensive, but i've got credit

    @mommal - i'm very sure i can get accommodations for pumping time, because the interviews happen like in your DH's department, individual-style. part of what i wonder about, though, is if i'll be more professinoally/intellectualy "on" if i DON'T have baby with me. i traveled with my first + my mom for a conference at 10 weeks, and then i felt it was easier to pump even if i was in the room with baby for my breaks (because pumping was so much faster ... i could pump for 20 mins but nursing would have taken 40). the job market in my field is rough, though improving, and i'm a relatively competitive candidate for the posiitions i want. still, those positions are likely to get ~100 applicants per spot.

    @meg - whether i can keep a tiny newborn with me for official portions, i think , depends, on what the job site is like -whcih i won't know until last minute. discrimination against moms is still very real, and there are many who have advised me not to even mention that i HAVE kids. since i was 7 months pregnant at prelim interviews 2 weeks ago it shouldn't be a big shock to them though bringing in a baby could be very distracting and professionally undermining in the eyes of some employers. not that i agree with that, and i AM very comfortable NIP and wearing baby in a carrier and multitasking, and i'm also relatively willing to push some of these boundaries (because i'm in a relatively privileged position and feel that i can risk some of it). but it will just depend.
    DS1 6/7/11
    DS2 10/29/13

    Nursing, pumping, cloth-diapering, babywearing, working professor mama with the awesomest SAHD ever.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: traveling for work first month postpartum

    I know about not telling employers about families and kids. My husband is an attorney, and looking for work, and is a real stickler about never mentioning being married or having kids at interviews. I tease him and tell him to bring pictures of our adorable kids to the interviews and he always tells me how that is not done and employers cannot ask about being married or anything. I just asked him if he takes off his wedding ring! He said no. But do I believe him?

    So I totally get it. But since I know you are an experienced nursing mom AND awesome breastfeeding advocate, i thought it ok to make these suggestions to you. Mothers do not always have the ability to realistically hide the fact they are pregnant or just had a baby. If you are pumping, won't that pretty much give it away?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: traveling for work first month postpartum

    Another thing I was thinking of is that you are going to want to be "on" during the interview, as you mention. So at night, if baby still has reversed day/night sleep cycles, for example, you don't want to be the one who is up all night with baby, beyond the frequent nursing that you will already be doing. In that sense having a family member who can also help with nighttime duty (maybe DH, with your mom or sister at home with your toddler?) may be better than hiring a babysitter.

    The work/mom thing is so tricky. I remember interviewing when I was 7 months pregnant and as it happened, I met with 15 people over the course of the day, every single one of whom was male! Obviously at that stage of the game you can't really hide the pregnancy, and some of them were pretty uncomfortable with the fact that I was pregnant and made awkward and inappropriate comments. I'm sure there would be some faculty who would be totally cool with you having baby in a sling and/or breastfeeding while you talked, and I'm equally sure there would be others who would be totally freaked out by it! It's one thing to push the envelope once you already have the job - one of my friends told me about breastfeeding her baby while she interviewed people applying to work in her lab, which I thought was wonderful! - but it's another when you are competing for a tough-to-get position.

    In terms of arranging pumping time, I've often found the easiest thing to do is to talk to the administrative staff. They're often the ones making the final schedule, so you can ask them to schedule in the breaks - they don't need to put why, it will just be - meet with prof. such-and-such 9:30 am to 10:30 am, then meet with so-and-so 11 am - noon - nobody but the admin and you needs to know that 10:30 - 11 is a pumping break! Often the admin staff is mostly female and sympathetic.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: traveling for work first month postpartum

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*lllmeg View Post
    But since I know you are an experienced nursing mom AND awesome breastfeeding advocate, i thought it ok to make these suggestions to you. Mothers do not always have the ability to realistically hide the fact they are pregnant or just had a baby.
    aw, shucks! thanks. and yeah, that's why i feel like i should do what i can to normalize this.

    If you are pumping, won't that pretty much give it away?
    yeah, and i'll be up front about being early postpartum too, at least with the administrative asst who schedules things (and word ALWAYS gets around), but there's a HUGE difference between disappearing for half an hour a few times a day, and actually having a baby in meetings! as bfwmomof3 says. my field is pretty politically correct - not a single person mentioned my pregnancy in any way at my conference a few weeks ago - but you never know what they say behind closed doors. i think it helps that the hiring cycle is so far out (i'd start the new job fall 2014) that they know they won't be on the hook for parental leave for me.

    @bfwmomof3 - i mastered sidelying in the first week with DS and spent a lot of time in bed (at least 12 hrs/night for a looong time) but also pretty much never was sleep deprived. but who knows with a new baby, and yes i think whether family or hired i think i'd ideally want someone to help with nights too, depending on how young baby is.

    thanks for working this through with me!
    DS1 6/7/11
    DS2 10/29/13

    Nursing, pumping, cloth-diapering, babywearing, working professor mama with the awesomest SAHD ever.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: traveling for work first month postpartum

    discrimination against moms is still very real, and there are many who have advised me not to even mention that i HAVE kids. since i was 7 months pregnant at prelim interviews 2 weeks ago it shouldn't be a big shock to them though
    Maybe do some sleuthing? I think pretty much all academic employers claim that they are "family friendly" but clearly not all of them actually are!!! If you're deciding whether or not to take the baby, it might make sense to suss out the department a bit. Is it all old crusty guys, or are there some younger women in the mix? "Couples" hires would also be a good indicator that a given dept. is actually family friendly, since there's little that is family friendlier than hiring someone's spouse! Especially if it's an actual hire and not just some soft money BS.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  10. #10
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    Default Re: traveling for work first month postpartum

    yes that makes total sense of course. I just can't help thinking that if I were doing the hiring I'd be MORE apt to hire the mom who can give an awesome interview while nursing her baby. But obviously you cannot count on your interviewers to include a LLL Leader

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