Tag Archives: city life

And then, I got slapped out of my grumpfest


I had a fantasy yesterday morning. I thought there was a chance it could make sense. It involved buying a house here in Chicago. It made sense enough in my mind that I looked around on some real estate websites. I found a place I felt ready to launch into. I even decided where I would put the couch.

Then I talked to someone who I knew would have no problem bursting my bubble if the idea didn’t make sense.

Five minutes later, it was clear that it didn’t make sense. Because ultimately, even if things fell into place guaranteeing our presence in Chicago for 3 more years, that’s still not long enough to make buying a house worth it–we’d still just be paying off interest on our mortgage at that point!

It was like a sugar crash in my spirit.

Our lease is up for renewal soon. And we’ve enjoyed our apartment so much for the past almost 2 years–it’s the best apartment we’d ever lived in. But with a toddler, and dreams of another baby someday, I’ve been thinking of how luxurious a house with a finished basement would be–a space for Alice to run around like a wild thing when the long Chicago winters keep us inside for months. And a yard. I thought for so many years that I would never want a yard. I’m not interested in gardening, and owning a mower just sounds . . . well, like someone else’s life. But I didn’t realize that having a child who rejoices in the outdoors changes one’s desires. Bring on the mower!

And no downstairs neighbors with their parties . . . that would be nice too, which I especially think about in the middle of the night when our bedroom floor is vibrating with a strident bass line.

Undergrads . . . I was one, once.

And here’s the thing–nothing is wrong with these desires for a house of our own, as long as:

1) I’m patient

2) I’m thankful for what I have, rejoicing in all the blessings God has already given us

3) I hold loosely to these dreams, knowing that they may not be fulfilled on earth–but I have a heavenly hope! God is preparing a place for me, and that promise can give me the patience to wait beyond a lifetime.

The evening came, and I was lying on the couch in an emotional funk. Being patient seemed so hard. I’ve been patient for so many years already! I thought. And guys . . . I was just wallowing in sin. Not rejoicing in what I had, not trusting in God’s good provision and timing, not looking forward to the fulfillment of all our desires in heaven . . . it was, well, gross. Like a junk food binge that leaves you feeling nasty and bloated.

Thankfully the Spirit slapped me. A nice, quick “wake up!” kind of slap. Hey, he seemed to say, it’s time to do one of those corny “what are you thankful for” exercises. Go!

I snapped to attention. My husband and I started saying out loud what we were thankful for. Soon I was laughing . . . because there’s so much. My moody little grumpfest was revealed for what it was: utterly ridiculous.

I’m thankful for coffee. Good food and a nice kitchen to cook it in. Alice’s silky, blond hair. These new hair twisty thingies I’ve been using every day. The Bible. Alice’s endearing relationship with her blankie.


A time every morning to meet with God. Our comfy couch. Our car. Our church family. The fact that both our sets of parents are believers. Our nephews and their funny little selves. My enduring and amazing friendship with my sisters. Eggplant, that weird and delicious vegetable. Schreiber Park, where Alice has been swinging, sliding, and generally tearing it up. The fact that I can’t remember the last time we had to worry about money. Netflix. The internet. iTunes, which at one point didn’t exist. (can you believe it?)

Once we started naming things, we just kept going . . . and going. It was like a soul-purging, and it left me feeling cleansed and buoyant.

Guys, there’s so much to be thankful for. Letting our materialistic dreams consume our heart can be such a trap of unhappiness and joy-stealing. So today, say YES to joy!

Working with baby: two months in


I’ve been back at work with baby for two months now.

Two months! I can’t even believe it.


Last I shared I was only 1 week in, so I figured I owe you all an update . . . and I owe it to myself to process how things are going too. It’s amazing how having to write something out really makes you think on a deeper level.

I guess the short answer to how things are going at work is: it’s just like the rest of life–there are easy days. There are hard days. On the hard days it feels like it’s always hard. On the easy days I think, “wow, this isn’t so bad! I could do this forever!”


What makes a hard day? The lethal combination of a fussy baby + a big workload with a ton of multitasking + people in the office (especially visitors or clients) who may not be amenable to the sound of crying in the background. Or foreground, as it may be. Take any of these elements in isolation and it’s totally fine. Fussy baby: yes! I can listen to a lot of crying before hitting any kind of limit. Multitasking: yes! I can nurse my baby while answering the phone and typing an email left-handed. Strangers in the office: yes! I don’t mind showing off my baby to whoever may come in. But put all three of these elements together and the result . . . it’s explosive. This lethal combo has only happened maybe 5 or 6 times, and leaves me emotionally drained and grasping for the energy to make it to glorious bedtime . . .


. . . or to the comforts of passing out on the couch.

But let’s get some perspective–if it’s happened 5-6 times, that means there have been another 39 or so days that have been just fine and dandy.

There are lovely times, like when I’m alone in the office and feel absolutely free to get down on the floor and try out all my goofy voices on Alice, trying to elicit that baby chuckle that I love to hear. There are awkward times, like when the Pest Control guy needs me to sign his tablet while I’m nursing Alice at my desk, or when someone (of the male persuasion) saw my nursing cover and said “Aw, is she napping?” and I had to clarify “No, she’s eating.” But overall, I try not to worry about what anyone thinks. Whether she’s crying, or nursing, or being whiny or goofy or talking up a storm, it’s not worth it for me to try to get into the heads of anyone else. I’m getting better at this–not fearing judgment. Going with the flow. Letting go of efficiency so that I can serve my daughter (side benefit: I’m on my way to becoming ambidextrous).


I’ve had some serious mommy guilt on two occasions:

1) The time when we had a call with a client and Alice was screaming her head off. I tried everything to calm and quiet her, but she was inconsolable. Feeling desperate and cornered by the situation, I put her in her travel bed in the laboratory, where no one could hear her, and returned to the office. She was in there for 45 minutes or so just yelling and crying, and though I stand by my decision to put her there and let her cry it out while I took care of something that couldn’t wait, I felt bad. Especially when one of the guys from the plant came into the office and was like “Um, Jenna? Did you know your baby is crying in the lab?”

“Yes–that’s why I put her in there,” I said, distressed. I almost cried myself at that moment.

2) Alice’s 4 month doctor’s appointment was on March 5th. I didn’t have any misgivings going into it, but our pediatrician informed me that her weight gain had fallen off the curve of what’s considered normal: she had only gained 6 oz since her last appointment 5 weeks prior.”Sounds like your milk supply isn’t as good as you thought it was,” he bluntly informed me. Alice was supposed to be putting on about an ounce per day, and she had only put on an ounce per week. I was appalled. Especially because at her last appointment (right before I went back to work) she had been right on track. What had happened to slow this? What was going on with my milk supply??


Obviously (to me), work. I must have started nursing her less and never noticed. Bad mommy! said the voice inside my head. So after spending that afternoon and evening upset, distraught, plagued by guilt and engaging in emotional self-flagellation, I came up with a plan: I would nurse Alice constantly. I would chunk her up if it killed me and my breasts forever.


So at home, at work, on the road, and wherever I happened to be, that baby ate all the time. If she would take it, I would give it. I weighed her 6 days later on the calibrated industrial scale at work.

And in 6 days, my friends, this baby went from 11 lbs 6 oz to 12 lbs 3 oz.


You have no idea how relieved this makes me feel. And I don’t plan on stopping my intensive nursing plan until this baby has doubled her birth weight at 14 lbs 2 oz.

So things are going well. For now–which is all I need to worry about. Once she starts crawling, who knows? I hear that’s a game-changer. But I won’t know how to manage it until I get there, so there’s no use imagining scenarios in which I fail or succeed or struggle or triumph.

You know what’s crazy? How much Alice has changed since the first day I came back into the office. She’s gone from a 3-month old who hated tummy time and didn’t know she had hands . . .


. . . to a 5-month old who is rolling over, grabbing things and chewing on everything.


I don’t feel like I’ve been back at work for that long, and yet my baby is so different than when we started. Here she is back at the end of January . . .


. . . and here she is now.


I still don’t know how long this working arrangement will be good for us, but whether another few months or another two years, I’m so grateful for how things are now.

Happy Monday dear readers!