Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Meet the midwife

Last Friday we had our first consult with our probable home-birth midwife. She was the "second" midwife at Leigh's birth, and provided a much needed calming influence during that rather arduous journey. Leigh's birth story merits it's own post (or two or three), but the very simplified story is that after planning for a home birth, two solid nights of beautiful but grueling labor for Gail at home, we transferred to the back-up hospital and Leigh was able to make her appearance with intervention but without surgery. It was both astounding and frightening. This particular midwife had a great way of supporting me as I was supporting Gail. She was supporting Gail also of course, but her presence was what kept me hanging on and able to be present for Gail during that long second night of labor. I'm not always a particularly easy person to support, and am extremely sensitive to the moods and emotions of other folks, for good or ill, so we consider this a pretty good indication that I might actually listen and respond to her during a labor, and that she would calm me down instead of ratcheting me up.

The consult contained both good news and bad news.

Good news:
1) She'd be thrilled to work with us.

2) We can afford her.

3) She has office hours close by our home (important, since we don't drive).

4) We'll probably get some insurance coverage (never guaranteed with a home birth, but probable and she's had some success with my insurer).

Bad news:

1) She has plans to be out of town (on the OTHER coast) for 2-3 days just after the due date. We're thinking we may try to meet the probable back-up midwife to make sure we feel comfortable with her. The back-up midwife will also probably be our "second" midwife at the birth if preferred midwife is in town, so we'll be meeting her anyway, and we know she and our midwife have compatible styles. But we do still need to think on it.

2) The medical back-up situation for local home birth midwives has seriously gone south since Leigh's birth. For Leigh, we were able to have all labs done at a local hospital/birth center, and to transfer directly into labor and delivery where they knew our situation and had access to our records. It was overall fairly smooth, the hospital treated us well, and we were able to receive hospital midwife care as opposed to whatever random OB was on call (which is what happens if you transfer through an emergency room without a pre-existing back up relationship). Things have changed dramatically though in the last few years, and at the moment, the only practice willing to provide official back-up is over an hours drive south, which is obviously too far for an emergency transfer (but isn't too far for going way post-date, say, and needing a ultrasound, or induction). This practice has something like a 7% C-section rate, so it would be worth the (rental car) drive, particularly if we end up needing induction. Otherwise, for labs or a last minute emergency transfer (like we had with Leigh), we need to cobble things together. I'll be consulting with an OB who I've heard is sometimes supportive of home birth at the most probable emergency transfer hospital. If she was willing to do some labs and minimal OB care, at least the hospital would have my records. If that fails, I may go through my family doc for labs (who is affiliated with a different hospital) and either have labs transferred or just hand carry them if we transfer. In any case, any emergency transfer will be through an emergency room to whichever OB is on call, but that seems to just be the lay of the land these days. I hadn't realized how spoiled we were last time.

There is also a "big meeting" with one of the most wonderful miwife-supportive OBs in the area who is apparently lobbying her hospital to be able to provide back-up in November, so maybe the situation will change. Who knows. We have close midwife friends, and have been peripheral to this world for long enough to pick up that back-up situations change, based on all kinds of things you can't predict. Even with this less than ideal situation, I'd still feel safer starting at home (for both me, the baby, Gail and Leigh for that matter) than setting foot initially in any hospital or birth center, given our state's 33.3% C-section rate, not to mention my (admittedly slightly unreasonable) discomfort with medical situations.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Looking up?

OK, folks. We may have something resembling progress around here. I felt semi-human Mon. night (I'm trying not to worry about that) and did almost an adult's quantity of work. Leigh was in a fabulous mood. We got dinner on the the table early (actually, into the sukkah), and all of the chores were polished off by 8:00pm. Gail got time for guilt-free high-holiday-work-catch-up since the house was in tip-top shape (well, as tip-top as it gets, including a clean-ish kitchen with no dishes) while I rested. We also made some good plans on how to survive, many inspired by you fine internet friends (LOVE the long and thoughtful comments on Gail's post! ).

We are instituting the following practical life alterations. Some may be temporary. Some hopefully not:

1) We are ditching cloth diapers for now. Practically, this is only one prefold & doubler per night, and maybe one from nap on days we're home, since Leigh uses the potty during the day, but that's one less gross load of laundry every week and a half. We'll take it.

2) We are switching to paper towels. Right now we wash rags. Again, one less load of laundry per week. Check.

3) Paper plates on Shabbat. We tend to avoid dishes on Shabbat (I can't speak for how this works halachically, but I sure count dishes as work) and face a huge sinkful on Saturday night (with no dishwasher). Paper plates on Friday night and Saturday for now.

4) Weekly take-out and movie night (movie courtesy of the local library). This week this will happen on Thursday, in recognition of my birthday, but the usual day will be probably be Wednesday.

**5) Gail will only do what she can do, as opposed to doing everything and feeling put upon. This way, I know what is left to do when a fit of energy strikes (as it did on Mon), and she doesn't turn resentful and b**chy. If stuff isn't done, it will help us figure out what our new normal is and we'll pare down. Same goes for emotional support. She will not prioritize physical work over emotional support (as inspired by Strawberry's comment that dishes can wait if cuddling is called for).

6) I will try to accept support as it is offered, and try not to get weird and resentful about needing it. I'm not always so good at asking for and getting help. This will be easier if I know Gail isn't pushing herself farther than is reasonable.

**7) I will take care of myself when I need to and not shuffle slowly, poorly and somewhat resentfully through chores because I feel guilty if what I need to do is lay down. In addition to being more efficient, this will save Gail the trouble of getting aggravated and having to fuss at me 50 times to rest if I need to rest.

8) We will both endeavor to identify the least physically draining jobs for me to be in charge of, even if they have traditionally been Gail's turf (family photo maintenance comes to mind).

You'll note that many of our alterations are bad for the environment. To alleviate this guilt, I appeal to the fact that we don't own a car, which is probably a bigger deal than a few paper plates and disposable diapers. A bigger concern to us frugal types is that some of these alterations cost money. (Confession: our real motivation to do cloth diapers was to save money, same goes for not having a car, same goes for washing our own rags. We enjoy feeling environmentally smug, but really, we're just cheapskates.) To alleviate this guilt, I appeal to the fact that we are no longer buying sperm and paying for IUIs. Really, thanks all for the inspiration and wisdom from the front lines.


** Numbers 5 & 7 can simply be restated "We will both endeavor to cut out the passive aggressive bullsh*t."

Inducing Lactation

This had been a really difficult post for me to sit down and write. Every time I start, I feel as though I am opening a can of worms, and it’s a can of really tangled up worms, so I can’t even take them out one and a time. But just today I think I’ve clarified things in my own mind so I’m going to try.

First, I have to say something about my complicated relationship with nursing. As Lyn said, I had a very large breast abscess when Leigh was two months old. I don’t want to say much about it because everything I try to say is horrifying and it’s really unlikely to happen to any of you, so I don’t just want to tell war stories. If you really want to know more, feel free to email me. I will also say that while I enjoyed many aspects of nursing and I’m glad that I did it, I did not absolutely love it. I was perfectly happy when Leigh stopped nursing at 14 months and I got to reclaim my body as my own.

I think nursing can be a very positive experience, both for a baby and a nursing mother, but I also think that nursing can put a huge burden on a nursing mother and exclude and sideline a non-nursing partner. Bottle-feeding, whether the bottle contains breast milk or formula, can give non-lactating parent an opportunity to feed and bond with a baby, and it can give a lactating mother a much needed break from the constant demands of a nursing infant.

Several months ago, when Lyn first brought up the idea that I might induce lactation, I gave her one of those looks that say, “You have GOT to be kidding me.” I have no desire to have cracked and bleeding nipples, to be stuck in a chair for hours with a boppy around my waist, to expose myself to the possibility of another abscess, or to get pinched and bitten by a surprisingly strong infant. Frankly, I was looking forward to having a breastfed baby without doing the breastfeeding myself. But I promised Lyn I would think about it, so I of course avoided thinking or talking about it.

But one day I asked Lyn to tell me why she wanted me to consider it, and her answer sent my thoughts in unexpected directions. There might be some good reasons for me to nurse after all. I asked myself if there was anything that I regretted about nursing Leigh. I came up with just three things:
  • I would have been more careful about my nipples before my milk came in. I got the advice to nurse as often as Leigh wanted, and that was constantly during her first week. As I remember it, she never slept, only nursed. I wish I had been a little more balanced and not gotten such injured nipples at the outset.
  • I wish I had advocated for myself better during the breast abscess. I knew that something wasn’t right, and if I could do it over again I would have insisted on seeing a breast specialist.
  • I wish that Lyn would have given Leigh more bottles, and in particular I would have pushed to do an occasional formula bottle. I wanted more breaks from the constant demands of feeding, especially at night, and wish I had gotten that need met rather than playing the martyr. (You should note for the record that Lyn gave our daughter lots and lots of breast milk bottles, most of them while I was at work, but she did sometimes do night bottles as well.)
But wait! Stop the presses!! What did I just say in that last part there? I just said that I wish that Lyn and I could have done more sharing of feeding duties. From there I’m afraid that I’m lead to the inescapable conclusion that I wish Lyn would have induced lactation. And then if I’m saying that, it seems like I should step up to the plate and try to induce lactation myself.

So, Lyn, I would seem that I’m taking you up on your suggestion. I’m going to brave the plugged ducts and cracked nipples and take another crack at cow duties. Now, to be clear, I’m considering myself to be an understudy here, not the lead actress. You patiently waited your turn to be the milky maiden and I’ve patiently waited my turn to change every poopy diaper and bring mountains of food to your boppy throne. But I’ll do my preparations (stay tuned for a post about the protocol coming to a blog near you) and once you and the little pumpkin seed get into the swing of things, I’ll see if I can pinch hit when you aren’t around or when you need to get some sleep.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I need advice

The first trimester + high holidays and sukkot + hitting midterm time = I’m drowning. I feel as though I shouldn’t complain both because I don’t feel sick and dog tired myself and because I don’t want to make Lyn feel bad because she does feel sick and tired. But don’t worry; I’m going to complain anyway. I really am happy to take care of Lyn – after all she’s going through the first trimester for both of us and I’m glad I'm not the one puking. But I now have more chores to do, a messier house, and a spouse who just isn’t much fun. Lyn's symptoms seem to vacillate between total exhaustion with nausea and the kind of crabby weepiness I generally associate with the worst day of PMS.

So we’re trying to lower standards (I thought they were already pretty low, but I think I’m about to discover I was wrong) and to remember that this too shall pass. By which I don’t mean that Lyn is suddenly going to be back to her old self (that won’t probably happen for a while since these symptoms will be replaced with other ones), or that suddenly there will be fewer chores to do (nope, in eight months or so there’s going to be a lot more), but rather than we’ll all adjust to the new normal, and someday we’ll look back on the old normal and say “We didn’t know how good we had it back then!”

So, I’m asking for your advice. I want to be supportive, care for my wife and daughter, and not burn myself out. To those of you who have done it before or are doing it now (especially but not exclusively from those of you who have handled a toddler plus a pregnancy):
  1. How do you cut back on the volume of work that needs to happen around the house? Do you have shortcuts, hire help, or just organize things better?
  2. How do you handle your own personal stress and fatigue as a non-pregnant parent/spouse/mother?
  3. How do you not turn into a jerk that takes care of everything, but uses passive aggression to subtly punish your partner for not being more capable?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I had a secret (or not so secret) hope that maybe I'd get to dodge the bullet on feeling crappy the first trimester. I'm not sure what I was basing that hope on...perhaps my general good health, and dilligent use of acupuncture. But here we are, 6 weeks on the dot, and it looks like I'm heading down hill.

I've started just taking the elevator...even if it is just one floor..and find myself feeling personally offended by the existence of stairs.

I was talking with my boss in the hall this morning about something very compelling and scientific, surely, nodding at all the right times, and even saying a reasonably intelligent thing once or twice...but I was really thinking "I really just need to sit down for a second or I think I might puke." (though I have yet to actually puke, knock wood)

Our usual evening chore routine, which really doesn't take long (maybe an hour?), feels like a marathon. Gail is picking up some of my slack, but I hate leaving slack. And yeah, I did TONS of chores when she was pregnant, but we didn't have a toddler then...there were many fewer chores and we operated with a much larger margin of error between standard operations and "the-house-is-a-complete-wreck-nothing-is-getting-done-I'm-going-
completely-insane." One strategy right now is to save the "sitting down" jobs for me, but there are only so many of those.

I know we'll find our stride, and I know I'll feel better eventually...but six more weeks of this (or worse?) feels a bit daunting....

(with the caveat that I am still beyond thrilled to have exactly this problem...and I suppose feeling crappy is somewhat reassuring)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Why I want Gail to induce lactation

It feels a little jinxy to write about this (when will writing about this pregnancy like it is real not feel jinxy?), but it's the sort of thing we actually need to make a decision about in the not too distant future (end of first trimester or so), and was a major topic of conversation at our house the last few days, so I'm throwing caution to the wind.

Nursing is such a huge subject, perhaps even more so in a two-mom family. It is certainly a major topic in two-mom-blog-land and came up as a sore spot in tons of the essays in the Aizley other mother anthology (not least in the essay by Aizley's then-partner Faith Solloway). With Leigh, we had all of the requisite conversations, angst, work and satisfaction associated with nursing, and all in all, it went well. Leigh was a champion nurser. Gail had pretty good supply. Leigh nursed until about 14 months when it was clear both she and Gail were ready to be done. I didn't struggle too much with those third wheel feelings that not nursing can inspire in mom #2 (I think largely because I spent so much time caring for Leigh).

I remember in our conversations before Leigh's birth, discussing the possibility of having me induce lactation, and ultimately deciding that no, it wouldn't be worth the effort. Back then I was still taking some medication that I was weaning off of, and I would have had to push the timeline for weaning faster than would have been prudent. We also felt like there would be enough work to go around and it might not be the best use of parental energy. In retrospect, those were perfectly good reasons not to induce, but there was also something deeper holding me back. In our own relationship parlance we refer to it as "you know, that thing about stealing the baby," which for us, conjures up a whole slew of heavily discussed and interesting issues, and somehow feels difficult to sum up in a little--or not so little--blog post, but I'll try.

During the pregnancy, I often felt like I was clinging to Gail, trying to get in on her spotlight and glow, to get a teeny bit of that pregnancy aura and attention by proximity. I worried (as if you guys can't tell by now I'm a worrywart) that people would think I was too enthusiastic, that I was getting too possessive of her baby, trying too hard to claim a child that wasn't really mine...and actually...there are signs I wasn't completely making that up. There was that friend who thought I shouldn't take leave, the midwife with whom I literally "got in trouble" for getting over-zealous about birth preparations (ask Gail, it's true). There were the frequent subtle and not-so-subtle references in queer parenting books that I've mentioned before. But that worry about other people were thinking actually exposed the worry I had in my own heart, that I was stealing Gail's baby, that I had no business claiming this child as my own.

Mostly, we worked through this stuff, and once we had the kid and figured out how our family does things, that worry faded fast. Now we are just Leigh's moms. It isn't complicated. But that decision not to induce was made before we knew how our family would work, and was in part influenced by that nagging worry that I was stealing Leigh. If I had prepared to nurse her, that just seemed to cross a line. It seemed like I would be too obviously honing in on Gail's turf.

But now we know that isn't a good reason. We know what it is like to be two moms, and we know what it is like to nurse. In fact, having two nursing moms in the house could be a total bonus (easier to trade off night feeding, it would relieve the pumping pressure, faster bonding for Gail, fewer bottles to wash). Back when I was deciding not to induce, I had very territorial feelings about what was then only a very hypothetical second pregancy (by me). When I thought about whether or not I would want Gail to nurse a child that I birthed, I had a visceral reaction of "HELL NO." It wasn't pretty. It was something like, "Well, if I can't nurse this one there is no way you are going to nurse the second one" and it came from that same ugly place of worry about stealing Leigh. I find now that we're here, barely into this next pregnancy, that instead I really want Gail to induce. I want to share both that work and that satisfaction with her, and I don't want her to feel like I did, that somehow she shouldn't.

All of that said, when all is said and done, she gets to choose. She has some pretty valid reasons not to want to. She had a horrible breast abscess that would encompass several posts in and of itself. She is rightfully scared of a repeat (so am I for that matter. It was really really bad). It is a lot of work when we already have a toddler to care for. And in some sense, she's already done her time. She enjoyed nursing Leigh, and did a bang up job, but she wasn't one of those for whom nursing is the be all and end all, so she may not be itching for a repeat.

I'll let Gail walk you through her end of the thinking about this, and she's been the one doing the legwork on figuring out what it would actually entail, but for my part, I just want to make it extra super clear, that if you decide not to induce Gail, don't let it be because you think you shouldn't. For my part, I would love it if you did.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What we did right without knowing it Part III: Our Names

(See also Part I and Part II)

When I was pregnant with Leigh, Lyn and I had many many many conversations about how we would structure our family. Naturally, the ever-popular subject of names came up. In a family with two moms, who gets called what? Do you both go with "Mommy?" Does one person get the Mom/Mommy moniker and the other person get a made-up name? In establishing our names, we both wanted to take names that meant "Mom."

In the end, we decided that I would be "Ima," which means "Mother" in Hebrew, and that Lyn would be "Mama." One reason that made sense at the time was that I was Jewish and Lyn was not (she has since converted). We also liked that neither of us was "Mommy" which, to us, felt like it more strongly implied "one."

We started to use our names with Leigh very early, and often felt silly doing so. "Mama" was pretty easy for her to say, but it took her a long time to get "Ima" down. She said "Ahh-ma" instead of "Ima" for what seemed like forever (it was frustrating at the time, but of course now it seems sweet). Now she uses our names, sometimes saying "my Mama" or "my Ima," and sometimes saying "ImaMama" or "MamaIma" as a generic term.

In hindsight, I realize that we didn't really know what we were doing when we picked names. "Ima" isn't a name for mom that everyone readily recognizes, and I when I chose that name, I didn't think about the fact that it wouldn't instantly peg me as a mother. When I am out with Leigh and she calls me "Ima," I wonder if the people around us think I am an aunt or a nanny, especially if we are alone together and talking about how Mama woke her up this morning or how she misses Mama. We have to make sure that her daycare and other care providers know that Leigh calls me "Ima" so that they'll recognize and respond when Leigh says it. Daycare is actually pretty good overall, but it still does happen that someone will say "Leigh, your Mama is here," when really, it's her Ima that has arrived.

So you may be thinking, Why does this fit into "What we did right without knowing it?" Isn't this something they did wrong without knowing it? It's true that I did not anticipate the consequences of having a non-standard name, and that sometimes it makes me feel uncomfortable. The good consequence is that I am shouldering some of the burdens that come along with creating a non-standard family structure.

In many lesbian families, it's the non-bio-mom who takes the more non-standard name, but in our family, the non-bio-mom has a very easily recognizable name -- Lyn's name declares her relationship to our daughter to anyone who hears Leigh holler "Mama!" Her name helps to establish societal and community support for the relationship. Because Lyn and Leigh don't have a biological bond, that relationship might be fragile, either because Lyn and Leigh don't have a strong tie (which they do, so no problems there) or because people outside of our family don't recognize the relationship. Having a standard name helps to shore up this support from outside the family.

That tells us why it's important that Lyn (as a non-bio-mom) took on an instantly-identifiable parental name. But was it really a good thing that I didn't? We could have both gone with "Mama" (and then we likely would have become "Mama Lyn" and "Mama Gail" eventually). I think it has been good for all of us that I sometimes experience the world as a "second" or "non-standard" mom. Whenever I talk about nursing or pregnancy or childbirth, I'm effectively declaring that Leigh is mine. It's easy to lose sight of what I might call "bio-mom privilege." My relationship to Leigh was never in question. Lyn on the other hand has often felt questioned. She and Leigh are different enough in appearance that people wonder if she's Leigh's mother, whereas Leigh and I look like we are genetically related. Before Leigh was born, it was clear to anyone and everyone that I was becoming a mother, while people that Lyn worked with regularly forgot that she was becoming a mother. It has been very useful for me to be able to feel a little bit of the insecurity that can come with being a non-bio mom. It's not an internal insecurity -- within our family unit we all feel very secure and comfortable. But people outside of our family have to learn how to treat us all as a family unit, and I've been glad to have some experience of what it's like to worry that others don't see me as a real mom.

Of course, now the tables are turned and we're on our way toward having baby number two. I'm going to be a non-bio-mom with a non-standard name, and I don't think that's really a great place to be in. However, I am very comfortable in my role as mother, and our community, from family to friends to acquaintances to childcare providers, is used to seeing us as a family unit, and used to perceiving me as a mother. I think we ran a much bigger risk of our choice of names negatively influencing our roles and confidence the first time through.

Monday, October 6, 2008

But surely I still need the help...

I went to see my acupuncturist last Tuesday. She was excited and encouraging, but when it was time to go, and we had our usual chat about when I should see her again, she said she didn't need to see me unless I felt really awful, and that she doesn't like to use needles after the first couple months. I can come back at the end (if I get there) for help with positioning or starting labor, but more or less, she's done with me.

What? No acupuncture? You mean I'm just on my own? But acupuncture is my magic bullet...

I used to kind of wonder about the folks who went in for tons and tons of monitoring. I mean, I got it for IVF or heavily monitored cycles or folks who had suffered miscarriage, but I didn't understand for folks who had gotten by with relatively low intervention. We didn't do any blood tests or early ultrasounds at all with Leigh, and it seemed strange to me. But now I get it. My acupuncturist was serving to provide that illusion of control, that belief that I had a secret tool that would make everything go OK. I always knew when my next appointment was, and believed she could fix anything (and OK, so maybe that isn't entirely rational). For other folks, that person is the RE. So let this be my official eating of words. To anyone who confused me with your loads of ultrasound pics and 50 betas, I get it now. I really do.

That said, I'm still not going to the doctor. Though we are starting to wonder how soon is too soon to call the midwife...

(And still, so far, all is well, knock wood. 5 weeks today. By which I mean 3 full weeks from my temp spike, not 5 weeks from my period)

Friday, October 3, 2008

What we did right without knowing it, Part II (aka Accidental Economic Advantages)

Along with putting the slightly more communicative of us on the less traveled parenting path (i.e. me as the non-bio-mom, see Part I), another thing we did right without knowing it, was to have the mom with the most economic power bear the child.

In a straight family in which mom gives birth, mom is pulled towards primary care-taking due to both economic pressures and biological pressures (and a whole lot of socialization). Women still make less money in general than men, and women tend to marry men who will be "good providers." Thus, even if a straight couple heads into parenting with ideals of sharing parenting equally (and there are studies that show many modern parents often intend just this), countering both an economic gradient that values a men's work more, and a biological gradient in which women understandably take on the work of pregnancy and nursing, and thus become experts in baby care early on, most straight families fall into a traditional division of labor (Lisa Belkin's NYtimes Magazine article on Shared Parenting sums up some of this nicely).

In our case, the biological pressures pushed Gail towards care-taking, but the economic pressures pushed me towards care-taking. I was still in grad school, but was through courses and on research support. I needed to write my thesis, but that can be pretty amazingly flexible, and no one really cares if you need to add a year to grad school anyway in my corner of academics, so it made economic sense for me to bear a lot of the care-taking burden once Gail headed back to work, to her nice, real job with benefits. As a result, I got LOTS of time with Leigh. We seriously bonded. Really fast. Because I was with her a lot. I quickly caught up to Gail's slight head start due to pregnancy and nursing (and to be clear, I was "behind" while Gail was home. I hadn't realized how much I was deferring to her until she wasn't in the house anymore during the day, which is not to say it wasn't wonderful that we were all home together for a time). It would have taken much longer to get to a point where we were both competent caretakers, who really felt like parents, without my having that extended one-on-one time. Not impossible, mind you. Just not as fast, and not as likely. That counterbalancing of "gradients" (economic and biological) pulling towards care-taking, ended up pulling us exactly to the middle. We are able to truly share Leigh's care, and love doing it. Now we wouldn't have it any other way, but I'm not sure that would have happened if I had headed back to work immediately after the birth, or if I hadn't stood up for my own role as Leigh's mom, and requested leave time and flexibility in working arrangement from my advisor.

As a result of this experience, one of our biggest pieces of advice (should anyone ask...and sometimes they do...) to both queer and straight parents who want to truly share parenting is for the non-birthing parent to take a SOLO parental leave, even if it means a financial sacrifice, and even if it is frowned upon at work. Many companies have paternity or parental leave policies that are simply never used by dads or other non-birthing parents. For a two-mom family, where the legal situation is more precarious, if you are in a state with second-parent-adoption, non-bio-mom is entitled to FMLA leave (though probably unpaid). Even if you aren't in that position, some employers will be reasonable if you ask. My advisor was under no obligation to support me financially for a parental leave, since I wasn't technically an employee, FMLA didn't apply and my institution didn't have any parental leave policies on the books for grad students, but she did. She wouldn't have offered though. I had to ask.

Should this hopeful June addition stick around (we're a week out from the positive test, and so far so good), we plan to do something similar on this round, with Gail taking on more of the infant care duties after I head back to work after leave, but this time we'll do it on purpose instead of accidentally.