RSA remains something of a blur--of handshaking, of elevator waiting, of waving, of hurrying, of attempts to extract myself from welcome greetings and to do so with some modicum of grace. With the possible exception of the nonhuman rhetorics panel, I feel like I was barely able to glide across the surface of the conference.
One of the authors in (I believe) Mama PhD--or maybe I read it on the blog by the same name--mentions the enthusiastic reception of babies by senior men colleagues. At RSA I noticed this phenomenon too. It was fun to watch them get all googly-eyed. Really everyone was super nice about the bambino, but more than one generationally senior man pulled me aside to tell me that "this" [gesturing or referring to N] was "important work."
N also became the occasion to meet and chat with other conferencing mothers, many of whom left their children at home because they (the babies) are a little older. One such woman wanted to hold N because she left her baby at home for the first time. Others told me eye-popping stories about conferencing with babies when they were graduate students. I traded birth stories with my peer colleague KH and provided cell-phone pictures on request.
These were all new ways of relating for me and added a new dimension to my conference. The Bean pulled me away from usual conference habits, some good some bad. For example, since there isn't much to do in a hotel room with a sleeping baby, I slept really really well, and we ordered LOTS of room service, whereas I typically spend conferences sleep deprived and in large groups looking for food. More than once I had to excuse myself from conversations people struck up while I was making my way toward--or waiting for--an elevator to rush up and feed N (see previous post about what happened to the expressed milk). Relatedly, I had to check my phone for texts and messages more frequently than I would have liked, and I missed more than JM would have liked (sorry honey!).
All of this kept me at the surface, and barely. Even so, to go from talking about dolphins and lions in ancient texts to N grinning in her little monkey t-shirt was awesome in its own not-so-surfacy way.