The wonderful and hilarious Linda, from Everybody Else Has the Best Titles asked for submissions for her “Guest in Jest” series. If you have not met Linda, aka mainepaperpusher, you really should check out her blog! She has some fun series and great, edgy sense of humor that I really appreciate! I decided to post this on my own blog because it gives a little snapshot into my past and maybe some mom out there can relate.
My name is Dee Dee, and I go by Dtills on WordPress. I started my blog, Invisible-no-more.com because I felt, well, invisible! I had entered that magical time known as “the midlife crisis”, sort of fell into it really, and couldn’t figure out how to begin the painful process of pulling my life together. My youngest had gone off to college, my husband and I were not connecting well and I felt alone and isolated. My blog is a chronicle of those activities, actions and connections formed that have helped me piece together a future that I now feel is hopeful and engaging. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have helped me as I work through this transition!
As for an amusing story, well this was not all that amusing at the time, but with the passage of 23 years, it has taken on a warm and satisfying glow! In 1994 I was a graduate student working on my doctorate degree at USC in Los Angeles. At that time, the process required the Ph.D. candidates to finish a series of written exams, which, after the successful completion, then required an oral exam. The oral had to be completed within eight weeks of finishing the written tests, or the candidate would have to start over from the beginning. These are the kind of exams that take months to prepare for so starting over is not something anyone wanted to do, I assure you! I was deep into studying for these five written exams, when I found out, in February of 1994, that I was pregnant with our first child. Honestly, the timing could not have been less ideal as I would have to take the exams at the beginning of October that year, and Alex was born October 28th. This meant that my oral exam had to happen in mid November, or I would have to start over, effectively loosing a year of work in my program. The crux of this “amusing” story is that I was breastfeeding my new daughter during this time. Now, all of you lactation survivors know that producing pints of milk all day long comes along with a unique set of challenges. For one thing your milk doesn’t just flow for your little one, a number of triggers can cause milk to “let down”, as the specialists call it. My personal triggers were ANY child crying, my crying, Hallmark commercials and once a dog barked scaring me so much that my shirt was soaked before I could run home. Oh yeah, and stress. Standing up in front my oral testing panel, which was made up of five men, and two women, who choose not to have children in order to focus on their careers, while they fire questions at me was, indeed, stressful.
That day I felt prepared, not well rested with a 4 week old at home, but I had my presentation and had done my research. I also had two sets of nursing pads on and a thick knit sweater. I could have stacked books on my huge, busty chest. The exam started and everything was going well. I was almost done; just a few final questions and I could go home and feed my daughter. Then it happened. The committee member that I feared the most asked me a question and I had absolutely no idea how to answer. I could feel the cortisol rushing through my blood stream and hitting my lac glands. I was starting to sweat and the room went eerily silent as the milk raindrops started hitting my feet! All I could think about was “I am going to fail and my shoes will be squeaking as I walk to the car”! That same committee member, after what felt like a month, gently asked me if I would like to take a break. Hell yes, I wanted to take a break and die! As I was walking through the door I heard him tell the others “she just had a baby a couple weeks ago” and I thought, great now I am done for sure! I took a few minutes to wring out my pads and blot my sweater, as best I could, and most importantly, I figured out the answer to the question. I mustered up what little dignity I could find and entered the exam room. I was expecting them to tell me to pack up and head out but instead they took pity on me. That same, scary committee member told me to just write up the final questions and submit them the following week. He was so nice to me! I had passed on the contingency of submitting the final write up! I didn’t wait around for them to change their minds and got the hell out of there. I guess I didn’t really learn my lesson because I had my final doctoral defense in December of 1996, after giving birth to our son the preceding April. But this time I kept my milk tightly in my jugs!
My daughter and I on graduation day!