Survived The First Week Back At Work

I made it through the first week of work with no disasters. I didn’t forget any necessary supplies, even though remembering stuff is my number one weakness, and I didn’t spill milk anywhere. I picked Vale up from daycare on time both days, and billed over 8 hours during my work-from-home day.

I attended a deposition that started and ended at an awkward time for my pumping schedule; it was too early to pump before the deposition started, it ended before lunch break, but lasted long enough that 5 hours had passed before the last feeding. I didn’t want to pump in a bathroom, so I thought it’d be genius for me to pump while driving. It worked out OK, but taking into consideration the extra time involved in setting up in the car, and pulling over to put my milk in bags, it didn’t save very much time, and wasn’t worth the hassle. Hey, learning experience for the future.

I thought the lack of sleep would be the worst part of new motherhood. I was wrong. It’s definitely breastfeeding and all that it entails. To clarify, breastfeeding per se is not the issue. However, having to constantly think about feeding and pumping schedules, where I’ll be, whether I’ll be able to feed and/or pump, and how long (i.e. how much freedom I have) until the next pumping session or until my boobs feel like they are going to explode, and crafting my wardrobe, sleep, social calendar, and work obligations around pumping/feeding considerations makes me feel a bit enslaved by my body.

People asked me if I cried, and I have not, but Vale has been increasingly resistant to drinking from a bottle, such that she goes many more hours than usual without eating during the day. She starts getting irritable as soon as she so much as sees a bottle, and has been eating far less than she otherwise would. She doesn’t cry much or fuss, but seems to have resorted to napping and eating her hand in place of drinking milk, which is depressing and hearts my heart a little. I want to enjoy her presence when I pick her up at the end of the day, but all I can think about is feeding her as soon as possible.

Vale continues to be a mellow baby otherwise, and has been adaptable to our schedule. She sleeps around 10:30-11:00 p.m., so we have plenty of time to play with her when we get home (although, when she insists on cramming all her feedings in at night, there really is not much playing going on), and wakes up to eat when we need to get up for work. She’s a grouchy little moon at 6:30 a.m., which I can relate to, and we can be grouchy in bed together while she eats her first meal of the day.

Beef Noodle Soup for the Soul

I was driving back from a deposition in Newport Beach yesterday, and once I was on the 405, realized it was only the briefest of detours to go to a Taiwanese restaurant off of Jeffrey in Irvine. Beef noodle soup sang out to my soul (or was it Fetus craving something?) and I exited Jeffrey to stop for lunch at A&J Restaurant (半畝園).

I don’t bullshit myself; A&J does not have amazing beef noodle soup and cannot compare to Taiwan, but it absolutely satisfies the craving and it is not possible to eat here and leave unhappy. I have consistently ordered beef noodle soup with the wide noodles, half tendon, half meat every time I come here for the last 19 years, but there are other great things on the menu as well including the green onion pancakes (蔥油餅) and some other carb-loaded fried dough, the name of which I do not know in English (抓餅). One of these days I want to bring husband here for a traditional Taiwanese breakfast/brunch for soy milk soup accompanied with some other fried dough dish (油條). Noodles, fried dough, more fried dough… this is how Asians get the diabeetus.

This place has been around for a long time; it’s been there since probably well before my family moved to Irvine in 1998, and as far as I can tell has employed the exact same personnel since at least then. We used to come here all the time when I was in high school, and it appears that almost 20 years later, with the exception of maybe one extra person, it’s the exact same ladies who seat you and serve you. I don’t know their names, but I know them by face, and I suspect the one random Hispanic lady who’s still there has a decent command of Mandarin by now. I was last here just about a year ago, and one of the waitresses recognized me, commenting that I used to go there all the time with my family. She asked, “Didn’t you used to have a little brother? Where’s he?” I responded that my “little” brother is now 26 and living in New York City, and we laughed about how much time had passed.

After lunch, I spoiled myself some more by walking into Sunmerry bakery for unearned treats (unjust desserts?). Had a pineapple bun and bought two Portuguese style egg tarts for dessert after dinner. I ate the pineapple bun while sitting in traffic on the way back to San Diego and saved the egg tarts for after our carne asado burrito dinner. It was a decadent day, as far as food goes.

More Thoughts on Pregnancy and Work

Telling Your Boss

My office is a small, boutique operation, with my boss “Bossman” being the partner, and me being his right hand man… er, woman. Thus, I knew there was no way I could abide by the 3-month pregnancy announcement rule at work, even if I wanted to follow such a rule. That would just throw everyone into a panic, which is not very considerate.

Taking off months from work is already really hard on a small office, so I was not about to add to the burden by cutting short potential preparation time for everyone else. Anyway, we happened to have a meeting because we needed to hire an additional attorney, and Bossman was weighing the pros and cons of hiring a newb versus a more experienced attorney. I was not quite going to tell at this point (I think I was only like 7 weeks pregnant!) but I was aware knowing I’d be gone for 2+ months beginning in September would drastically impact his decision-making as to whom to hire, so I spilled the beans during this meeting. We ended up hiring a more seasoned attorney and it was the right thing to do.

Keeping it Under Wraps For Others

There was only a handful of people to inform at my office, and I genuinely like everyone there, so that is not an issue at all (I share all my ultrasound pictures and updates with them too). However, I am keeping it on the down low for as long as I can manage, as far as encountering others in the context of work. I am wearing boxier shirts to court and depositions, and will likely do this as long as I can get away with it.

It’s not that people are not supportive. I was at a deposition not 2 weeks ago, where 5 out of the 6 attorneys present were women, and the conversation turned to juggling work and children. I am so fortunate to be alive as a young female attorney today, as opposed to 2 decades ago, when this gender ratio and topic of conversation probably rarely occurred in the practice of law. In fact, the only male attorney there was the husband of one of the lady attorneys. They sat next to each other during deposition and during break told stories about their children; it was so very cute, and shows just how far society has progressed. In fact, I was the only person present without a child, and who had nothing to say about children. Even so, I did not feel comfortable sharing that I am pregnant. I don’t know why. Maybe I am shy; maybe I am weird. I have no logical explanation for it.

I will say one thing has crossed my mind in this regard: that my due date cold be construed as a weakness to my opposing counsel. I’ve met her but a handful of times. She recently became a grandmother and seems like a decent, warm lady. That being said, I have partaken in a conversation wherein one senior defense attorney indicated a trial continuance (“postponement,” in trial lawyer lingo) would not be favorable because, among other reasons, the main opposing attorney’s associate would be back from maternity leave by that time, and she was no one to fuck around with. I happened to be on the winning side of things that time, but I did not forget the implications. Now that I’m pregnant, some plaintiff’s counsel could equally be thinking, Hey, Bossman’s associate is going to be on maternity leave in September. That will be the time to slam them with discovery, or push for trial. Call me paranoid, but I think it’s a legitimate thing to be aware of.

Trial Scheduling/Planning Ahead

People tend to learn about the legal system from telly, which presents trials in short-form, leading people to literally think they get their “day in court,” which is quickly over and done in 24 hour or so. That’s not how litigation actually works. My easiest cases that get dismissed without settlement of any kind still take months to resolve. Courts try to set trial dates no longer than a year after the lawsuit was filed, but realistically, the trial date frequently gets moved beyond this time, and some bigger cases drag on for 2-3 years. If trial does end up occurring, it can take 2-3 weeks, and there is a lot of work to be done in the interim, so it can be a long and grueling process, like a war of attrition.

For this reason, my due date now has to be a big red flag on the office calendar, so we do not forget that I will not be around to do stuff at that time, and we will be one attorney down. Also, on the very unfortunate side of things, my boss was considering assigning a relatively straightforward case to try by myself so I could get the trial experience, but the trial as currently set falls right before my due date. Aiii. You really can’t have it all.