On a normal conference morning, my alarm would wake me up, I would shower and get dressed, have a quick breakfast and head to the convention center. Today was not a normal conference morning.
With my baby in tow, I was awakened by her hungry fussing an hour before I would otherwise have awoken. I fed the baby, changed her, used my breast pump, and played for a little while before my mom woke up. After getting about we ate breakfast while trying to get the baby to nap at the same time. Then I left the baby with my mother and headed to the conference.
My presence at this conference is only possible because my mother has graciously agreed to come to DC with me and babysit while I’m at the conference. Hopefully next year, when I’m not nursing, it will be easier for the baby to stay at home with her Dad.
My mother’s presence is necessary because this conference does not provide a child care center. This surprises me, especially since other professional conferences (including those in male dominated fields) often provide on site care (for a fee).
The one thing missing from this conference is those chance conversations at dinners and receptions and other informal gatherings – when I’m not in a session, I am heading back to the hotel to feed my little one and take care of her.
As a result, I get to hear about evening receptions and tours via twitter, instead of attending myself.
I am grateful that my mom is retired and excited to help me out for the week: I wouldn’t be here without her.
I wish this conference (and others) would offer more support for mothers with young children. They are often at a point in their career when they could use all the benefits a national conference has to offer but cannot take advantage due to the challenges of conferencing-with-baby.