That’s Photographer Me Ra Koh talking about lighting and composition in her Blissdom Photography track session “shoot like a woman”. OBrother and I attended this session and spent most of it in the back where he could crawl around. O, and there were mirrored doors back there, so that was win.
In any session I attended, unless OBrother was already asleep in the sling or pack on me, I usually gravitated toward the back or side of the room. If you’ve ever had a baby at a church service, you’re probably familiar with this tactical approach as well. Being in the back allows you to move, rock, pace, stand up, sit down (fight fight fight! – high school football cheer? Anyone? Bueller?) without blocking others’ view or being a distraction.
Can I take a moment here to tell you how much I love nursing? I was able to conveniently feed my baby without missing a beat of Me Ra’s really incredible session. I leaned my back against the wall and nursed him, then when he was done I let him roam.
There are two important aspects to bringing a baby into conference sessions without being a distraction to others (but also being able to benefit yourself). The first is knowing your baby. Does s/he take off crawling the moment you set him or her down? Then you might want to keep them contained in a sling or pack. Is s/he a happy squawker? Then you might consider keeping a pacifier on hand. What kinds of things entertain your baby? Keep several options handy.
For me, I know that OBrother is kind of a slow crawler at this point (but boy does he have that army thing DOWN) so I wasn’t worried about him getting up to the podium while I was jotting down notes for 2 seconds. I also know he is babbler and at times something of a screaming banshee (No, honestly. The eardrums. They doth protest.). When he wasn’t kissing himself in the mirror or nursing, he often had a pacifier in to limit the noise. I also LOVE that he is the age where everything is new and exciting. I did pack toys and books, of course, but sometimes it was the crinkly wrapper of my Medifast bar that kept him happy.
The second component of having a baby in the sessions is timing. Try your very best to walk into the beginning of a session with all of the baby’s immediate needs met. New diaper, recent snooze, and had a little solid food in him or her (if they’re old enough). That way you won’t be wiping up poop (or leaving to do so), bouncing and shushing, or picking smashed cheerios up off the floor in the back of the conference room. Obviously, as the attendee you don’t have the ability to shift things back 20 minutes so your little one can nap, but you do have the conference schedule laid out ahead of you from the get-go. Take a minute and familiarize yourself with the flow of things, when the breaks are, and plan to at least try to take care of things before walking into a session.
When the stars aligned for me and those items had been taken care of, attending sessions was a snap. Obviously, planning ahead is not always going to be good enough, especially with a baby. (Can I get an amen?)
With all my planning, I still missed a session so that OBrother could take a good nap laying down and not in the pack. We had been to both of the morning sessions where he had dozed off for a while as I wore him, but I could tell he was getting fussy and that a pack-nap was not going to cut it. At that point, I had to decide for OBrother’s sake and mine that preemptively bowing out of the last session of the day was better than pacing up and down the back of the room trying to get a fussy baby to sleep. And I should say this: I missed sessions here and there at other conferences I’ve attended without my baby for a plethora of other reasons (usually to chat/eat cupcakes with friends) so a missed session is by no means the plight of the baby mama. It’s the reality of fast paced conferences!
One last thing: a really freaking cute baby.
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Click here for part one of this series, Parties and Night Life.
I am so enjoying sharing about bringing my baby to Blissdom, and I have more to say! Packing and babywearing, and ‘the s word’. (Not that one, silly. ‘Sleeping’.) I hope you’ll come back over the next few days.