In a moment of pure foolishness, I decided it would be a good idea to submit an abstract. This was way back in June and the conference was months away. Surely, things would be calm and under control by the time the conference came. Minnow would be sleeping through the night and I’d just pay a student to come along and babysit (turns out they have daycare on-site). It’d be fun. I missed the conference season last year, and this would be a great way to network and let people know my new affiliation. Besides there was a perfect session…

I don’t know what I was thinking. But at the end of next week, Minnow and I will be getting on a plane bound for High Elevation Major American City. (Yes, that completely gives -ology away. Anybody want to meet Minnow and I while we’re there?)

Below the fold, I’ll share my absolutely insane to-do list. I swear, I should subtitle this blog “Doing it all, just to see if it can be done” or maybe “Doing it all, so that if you choose to follow my path, you are forewarned.”

Before then, I need to:
1. Start (and finish) making a poster
2. Get someone to proofread the poster before printing
3. Print the poster
4. Finish writing the lecture I’m giving tomorrow morning and then write 2 more for next week
5. Write an exam to be given while I am away
6. Make sure the TA knows that he is on duty to proctor the exam and answer last minute questions
7. Write a practice exam and study guide
8. Find out whether I need to provide Scantron sheets for the exam and where the grading machine is
9. Read a paper and discuss it with a grad student
10. Post to my blog and schedule posts (or repeats) for the time I’m gone
11. Pimp donorschoose. I’m still $565 short of my challenge goal. Come on readers, help students out, and win prizes.
12. Call my dad, mom, and brother
13. Enroll in benefits for 2008
14. Rearrange Minnow’s 9 month doctor’s appointment so that I can go. While on phone ask about persistent diaper rash.
15. Arrange for regular cleaning of kitchen and baths.
16. Go shopping for all of the food that Minnow will eat on the trip as well as acceptable snacks for me (non-dairy, non-soy, non-corn, non-wheat?)
17. Figure out how to pack breastmilk to get it through TSA and stay cold for a cross-country flight
18. Find out what the weather will be like in conference city during our trip
19. Pack clothes for Minnow and I (and carseat and stroller and Ergo and toys and food and breast milk and breast pump and baby dishes and small bottle of dishsoap and bibs and DIAPERS and outlet covers)
20. Arrange for shuttle from airport to hotel to (hopefully) guarantee baby-safe transportation
21. Check with hotel about accessibility of fridge for breast milk. Confirm non-smoking and crib and walking distance to conference site.
22. Find out if any other faculty members or students are on the same flights and if they’d be willing to help me out in the airports
23. Arrange meetups with former advisor, grad school friends, potential student, and bloggers?
24. Figure out how in the world I’m going to pump during a 10 hour field course
25. Attend to the usual business of classes, meetings, eating, sleeping between now and departure.

Have I missed anything? (Seriously, have I? Because I’m going to use this as a to-do list.)

The above list should explain why posting may become sporadic over the next week or two. But I’m sure I’ll have more blog fodder when I get back.


  1. #1 Far away
    October 17, 2007

    Good luck!

    A couple of tips from my experience:

    you can freeze breast milk, and put bottles next to each other. When you need it, ask for warm water to dip it in. This way you don’t need additional colling devices.

    To pump on a field trip, you can use a manual pump (Avent has a useful one, probably other labels do to). It is not as efficient, but more portable.

    During the conference, you don’t have to wash and sterilize the pumping stuff every time. Stick it in a box/ clean plastic bag in the fridge, sterilize in the evening. Your milk is clean, it has nothing else has touched it, and Minnow has already met some bacteria in her life.

    Last but not least – accept you can’t do everything.

    Good luck!!!

  2. #2 Carrie
    October 17, 2007

    Whew SW. Is there any way you can get Mom to come along as a nanny. When I attended a conference when #1 was 7 months old, I paid for my sister’s plane ticket to come be my nanny. It was great! ‘Course my conference wouldn’t think of having something like childcare — you’re -ology is ahead of my -ology in that regard.

    Consider NOT taking the stroller. Just the sling (or other carrier of some type). Check the carseat (unless you have an airline seat for Minnow). I know there’s lots of people out there who can’t imagine traveling without the stroller, but I found it SO much easier to have #1 in the sling and then have a backpack + cooler with expressed milk without dealing with the stroller. Just an idea.

    As for the milk: I packed mine in a small hard sided cooler (six-pack size) with Blue Ice and it was fine for the trip from HI to TX. At that time TSA didn’t exist, so I’m no help there…

  3. #3 Carrie
    October 17, 2007

    One more thing — you can always buy more diapers (and dish soap for that matter) at Conference City. You don’t need to pack all that you need!

  4. #4 hypoglycemiagirl
    October 17, 2007

    Your list of to-dos left me with a lot of questions which you probably allready thought about but was not clear from your post. For instance why do you need to freeze breastmilk for the flight? Do you leave your boobs behind somewhere? Do you fly with an airline that doesn’t like nursing moms? Is the conference daycare too far away from the conference venue for you to pop by to nurse Minnow during breaks? Further, is it possible to bring Minnow on the field trip? Can Minnow get formula for a meal or two so Mom doesn’t have to spend too much valuable time pumping? Can Minnow’s Mom avoid burn-out during her first year of tenure track?

    So far I have been really impressed by what you have accomplished, but this seems like an awfully busy schedule. I’m not in doubt that you’ll make it, but just speaking from experience that sometimes it’s good to lower the standards a bit to keep one’s sanity for longer.

    And I have still no clue what -ology is 🙂

  5. #5 mag
    October 17, 2007

    I completely agree with hypoglycemiagirl. This is breast feeding week, at least where I am, and although I know why it is encouraged, the real reason I like breast feeding is that it is just easy. There. Ready. Almost no preparation, always at the right temperature, never turns bad. Bringing frozen milk on the plane kind of defeats the purpose. Breastfeeding on a plane is not that difficult (been there, done that, it is especially good at landing and take off for the ears of the baby). But I am in Europe, so things might be different where you are…
    Also, don’t forget the restrictions on bringing liquids on board, they might give you a hard time with it.

  6. #6 Jane
    October 17, 2007

    Could you maybe rent a stroller at the conference city? Or check your stroller in with the rest of your luggage—that would help with getting through security, at least.

    As far as transporting breast milk, I’ve usually filled a bottle with enough frozen milk for one or two feedings and put the bottle in the fridge as soon as I got to the destination (and then tried to use that milk in the next day or two). I haven’t figured out how to transport more than that, though. (And so far, no problems with TSA. They’ve let the bottle through (even though it was more than 3 oz), and there was only one time where the person made me drink a bit of it.)

    Best of luck to you! I’m jealous about the on-site child care—you’re definitely in a more enlightened field than I am.

  7. #7 Carrie
    October 17, 2007

    I assume SW needs to bring frozen milk with her for the first day Minnow is in childcare — Minnow will need something to eat while SW is at the conference (and pumping for the NEXT day’s feedings). That’s why I had to bring milk with me when I went to meetings also — not to feed the kid while I was present, but for when I wasn’t there.

  8. #8 Kim
    October 17, 2007

    I took my Small Human to a conference when he was 6 months old. There wasn’t any childcare at that one, so I spent most of my time at poster sessions and in the hall. I had a stroller, but I mostly used it to carry all of my stuff, and carried my son in a sling. I found that it wasn’t too hard to find a quiet corner of the exhibit hall for breast-feeding, and that the conference was pretty baby-tolerant (even if the discipline is pretty male-dominated). I tried to go to talks while he slept in the sling, but he woke up and I had to sneak out of the talk quickly. (I think he just didn’t like quartz c-axis fabrics very much. Can’t say I blamed him, really. Boring technique, though useful.)

    I nursed my son on the plane. I think it helped during take-off and landing, especially, when the pressure change can hurt a kid’s ears. (It also helped him fall asleep on the flight, which was a good thing.)

    I took him on a field trip when he was two months old. I drove my own car so the car seat could come along – that would have been a problem with a van. And we skipped every other stop so I could nurse him. So I was glad that it was a local field trip, and not something where I needed to be actively involved in the trip. (And I was also glad that there wasn’t any significant scrambling involved; he was in a sling then, too.)

    I believe TSA has an exception for breast milk. I haven’t traveled with it since the no-fluids rule started, though.

  9. #9 Kim
    October 17, 2007

    Also, I know someone who is driving to Conference City and who has a spare stroller (small enough for Minnow, I think), if you would like to borrow one. My e-mail address is on my blog. 🙂

    It’s just started acting like winter in High Elevation State. Doesn’t mean it won’t be warm and sunny in a week, though.

  10. #10 justapie
    October 17, 2007

    Uhm, I don’t know why, but I had imagined you doing a completely different kind of -ology… Sounds cool though.

    Good luck for your trip! And I agree with those who suggested to leave the stroller at home, just from bad personal experiences with strollers and security checks in airports.

  11. #11 DrJ
    October 18, 2007

    I was at a conference where a woman brought her 2-yr-old. He sat up the back, drawing and colouring for the most part, but at one point in the plenary lecture – just as the invited speaker made a grand statement along the lines of “So this all means THIS GRAND IDEA” – the child let loose a huge laugh into the silent auditorium. The audience tittered slightly for a second before the invited guest, obviously a man very quick on his feet, responded with “Yes, well the data are still highly controversial.” The audience guffawed.

  12. #12 makita
    October 18, 2007

    Just what you need, unsollicited advice on diaper rash. But here it is anyway, feel free to completely ignore me. I had this with #2 and #3 though, so I know what you’re talking about. The key is for your child to be as dry as possible. I found that after I’d wiped off the diaper area, and I applied diaper cream, I was essentially locking in the moisture near their skin, and making it worse. The powder I started using then, only held on to the moisture even more. So the trick was:
    1. wipe off
    2. apply powder
    3. using washcloth, wipe of the powder, which by now shoud have absorbed all the moisture
    4. apply layer of diaper cream (I normally use desitin, but I don’t know that the brand makes much of a difference)
    5. change more frequently until rash disappears, but don’t wipe too much, it can irritate the rash even more.

    I’m among the ones that still has no clue about -ology though. Good luck with Minnow at the conference.

  13. #13 makita
    October 18, 2007

    PS By the way, if the diaper rash is really bad, you might need to ask your doctor for a prescription of Nystatin to help clear it up faster. Since it’s a fungal infection (mostly it’s Candida sp.), moisture is what keeps it happy, so often just keeping it dry helps, at other times you need to attack the fungus in all seriousness to get rid of it.

  14. #14 amy
    October 18, 2007

    Good luck! I look forward to hearing how it goes for you. I considered taking my son to a conference but was going to take my mom along too.

    One thing you want to add to your ‘to do’ list is to call the hotel and make sure the fridge in your room is appropriate for storing breast milk. I went to a conference and the hotel told me the fridge was NOT for storing medicine or milk. They then brought in another fridge that was appropriate, but I had to request this. Just something to think about…

    Some advice that worked wonders for diaper rash: after each BM, wipe the area with a dilute vinegar solution (8 parts water, 1 part vinegar, approx). Let that dry on there for a few minutes, then put on the diaper rash cream (buy any kind that has a really high zinc oxide content, like 40% works best), then put a clean diaper on. This works wonders for my son who had terrible diaper rash while teething. The vinegar helps change the pH of the area so that bacteria won’t grow and the skin will heal. Note: if the diaper rash is really bad and the skin is really raw, the first application of vinegar solution might sting. After that though, the skin healed enough that it did not sting any more. This works wonders, trust me!!!

  15. #15 Jennie
    October 18, 2007

    That is my -ology as well. I love that conference you are going to. I’ve gone the past couple years but opted out this year since there is a special session in my discipline at another conference in the city by the bay this December. My husband is in the same -ology so maybe once we have children we will go to the same conferences. Good luck.

  16. #16 j
    October 18, 2007

    Did anybody else donate to DonorsChoose, and not get an email receipt. I funded one of the projects fully (I was inspired!), and after several emails still can’t get a receipt for the donation.

    Good luck with the conference! I think I’m going to try to get my wife to come along with me to my first post-baby conference this spring (my daughter will be about 1) because I feel overwhelmed at the thought of baby-wrangling and conference-going on my own. I’m not breastfeeding anymore, so I could leave her home, but I want to have her meet a bunch of my colleagues and friends.

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