Done!

Ingrid and I cut the breastfeeding cord two weeks ago.  My supply had dwindled after my girlfriend getaway (I didn’t pump while there). We stuck it out for a few weeks with morning and night feeds but eventually she just seemed generally confused as to why she either had to work harder for the milk or why there wasn’t as much milk…and then she started biting me so that put a stop on things pretty quickly.

After her 1st birthday I stopped pumping at work since I didn’t have daycare bottles to fill anymore.  This was unusually liberating.  Not having to pack and lug around that nonsense felt weird. As I would get ready for work I was like this is it? This is all I need? My backpack with my lunch and a computer? No separate heavy bag with a pump and parts and blah blah blah.  I felt so light and free!

2013-05-13 07.44.20

so much extra space on my desk! yay!

And the time! Oh my I didn’t have to plan my day around when I could fit pumping into my schedule. I can go to meetings and not have to rush back to pump before the next meeting. I can sit in a chair in the sun and get some reading done.  Its all so revolutionary.

Untitled

5/9/13 – First bottle I ever gave Ingrid

I was very much looking forward to being done, but I’ll have to say my favorite right now it not wearing cami layers all the time…and being able to wear dresses.  I haven’t had the energy (because work is still nuts) to start back again with a consistent running routine, but I hope to get out soon and maybe even hit up some of the trails that I haven’t seen in over 2  years.

I’m still getting used to the fact that I don’t have to be present all the time.  Just this weekend Royce was putting Ingrid to sleep so that I could get some work done and that was the first time I had been present in the house and had someone else put her to sleep. Crazy!  I’m sure I’ll get used to my new found freedom with time.

Since it’s been a few weeks my body is done adjusting and since we weaned gradually I skipped the annoying leaking stage.  I was very conscious of the loss of calories that I was burning as Ingrid self-weaned and adjusted my diet so I haven’t gained any weight back, but my poor boobs have shrunk. The other night I was out with girlfriends discussing this exact topic and we were all laughing hysterically because I could store my cell phone and my car keys in my current bra.  Handy and hilarious…guess I need to go shopping!

In the end I’m proud  to say that neither of my girls got a drop of formula. But I’m also aware there isn’t a special place in heaven for me because of this…no mother of the year award for it either. All babies that are loved, regardless of breast or bottle are healthy.

But to myself it feels good to know that I nourished them through thick and thin.  I sacrificed my time, my sanity, my body — for a year.  Just a year.

But I’m very very glad to have it back now.

When I’m done…

I can’t count the times I’ve said “When I’m done breastfeeding I’ll do/be able to X”.  I think my comment on my friend Katie’s post yesterday made me step back and laugh at myself cause it’s defiantly been a theme this time around.  Then again there are  a lot of things that I’ve set upon completing this milestone, not to mention the ginormous amount of time I’ll get back to myself again.

Just for fun I started thinking of all the things that will change when I’m done:

  • I can run (or do heavy cardio workouts) again.
  • I can wear a normal bra that fits well and is pretty.
  • I can wear a dress.
  • I won’t have to pump.
  • I will not have to think to myself “can I breastfeed/pump?” in this top when getting dressed or buying clothing.
  • I can stop wearing cami’s under all my shirts.
  • I can take a long trip by myself (no pump necessary).
  • I no longer need to be the first person to respond when Ingrid wakes up at 6 AM.
  • My presence will not revolve around Ingrid’s feeding schedule.

That’s a lot of stuff (some I’m not posting because, well, ahem, it is personal)!  No wonder I’m feeling a bit trapped and claustrophobic at the moment. I know I should cherish, and I do, all the close cuddly gushy moments I get with my babe during these times — but holy cow I want my body back, and I’d like to spend some time away from Ingrid. Sweet as she may be, I’m always the one that needs to be with her. I think I’m also antsy since I know this is the last time I’m doing this; I know that when I’m done,  I’m done — for.ev.er. No more maternity clothes, no more pregnancy weight loss and I can burn the nursing bras, throw away the pump and never look back.  Oh how glorious that will be!?  I’m giddy with excitement.

Breastfeeding has definitely been easier this time around with Ingrid than it was with Sydney, but I find myself wanting it to come to a close sooner rather than later.

Only 4 more months left (not that I’m counting)!

(and I’m acutely aware I can stop at anytime but there is also the certain mentality of “I’ve gone this far why quit now?”… so alas we continue until Ingrid decides she is done, or Ingrid turns 1-year and can get milk from the moo-cow instead of the moo-mom).

6 months to go

I haven’t posted that much on breastfeeding this time around because we didn’t start off with the struggle that I did with Sydney and it’s kind of old hat at this point. I do plan to go for the full year if she will let me. Even if she self weans, as some kids are prone to do, I still have a lot of milk in the freezer to get her through a year (moo).  The one thing I’ve never had a problem with is production and for that I’m grateful…although I always get a bit nervous when big storms like Sandy hit because losing electricity means so much more when you lose a chest freezer full of milk than a freezer full of meat.

Unlike with Sydney where I felt breastfeeding took up so much of my time, I find myself enjoying the 15 mins (or longer if she falls asleep) I get to just sit with Ingrid. I can catch up on email, Facebook, read or just close my eyes and rest. This can be a welcome reprieve after chasing Sydney around. Thankfully Sydney is pretty good at ‘being quiet’ while I feed Ingrid because there is nothing more distracting than Big Sister.  Ingrid loves to watch her and even if she is hungry she will delay eating to watch the whirling dervish that is Sydney. Ingrid is at the stage though where some feedings I feel like I’m getting beat up by a baby. She slaps my face, puts her fingers in my nose, pulls at my mouth, grabs my ear lobes, fiddles with my clothes, pinches my flesh, rips of my glasses — Oy! it can get exhausting.

IMG_1253.jpg

mama give me that milk!

One thing I’m really looking forward to is not making bottles, cleaning pump parts, and all the other things that go along with this process. No matter how fast I try, it still takes me a solid 30-mins to get everything cleaned, prepped and ready to go for the next day. There is no doubt about it, breastfeeding can be time-consuming between the 15+min feeds, and the pumping, but I think of it as a great gift of time I get to look forward to getting back in about 6-months! Until then I will get small amounts of time given back to me. As she gets older and her solid intake gets better she will wean from the 6 pm feeding which I remember to be a big deal with Sydney.  It really opened up time to do other things at 6 PM which can be a busy time right before supper.

All done!

(waves hands in the air)  <– we are working on signing can you tell?

Sadly a side-effect of vacation without baby is that Mom’s milk supply tanked.  I tried to pump twice a day to maintain supply for Syds morning and bedtime feeds but it didn’t work.  She was super cranky yesterday morning after not getting enough from me, and then this morning she woke up at 5 AM presumably hungry since she didn’t get much from me before going to bed.  She happily chugged 6 oz from a bottle (she is finally taking them again, but I had to switch bottle types) this morning after my attempt at feeding her.  Thankfully we still have enough milk in the freezer to get her through the next month so that we don’t have to go out and buy any formula.  But it still pains me to say we are ‘all done’; I was really hoping to go for a full year and wean her when I went to Orlando in December.  

It’s been a bittersweet year.  Bitter at the beginning, but sweet in the end.  We put some serious sweat and tears into getting it right that first month.  It was hard, no doubt about it.  But I felt this overwhelming sense of obligation to at least try my hardest for this little babe who didn’t know what she was trying for.

I took the same sense of obligation with me when I went back to work.  I felt that I could at least give this much of myself (the time it took to feed her in the mornings, pump twice a day, to clean and repack pump parts, to feed her at night) for her who I left each day in the care of others so that I could go do something that made me feel more ‘normal’.  I really figured it was the least I could do, for her.

At times I resented it.  The hours in the evening spent feeding her whilst thinking of all the things I could have been doing instead.  I could have just as easily told Royce to feed her a bottle of formula while I went for a run, or stayed late at work, or ran errands, or sewed, or cooked dinner.

But other times it was bliss.  On demand milk when away from home or traveling, no bottles or bottle warmers required.  Although discretion was needed (unless I wanted to make habit out of midnight feeds) I also haven’t found a faster way to sooth a hungry baby in the middle of the night.

There were many other benefits too, but the tangible ones were the most believable (I’ve never been thinner!; the $$ we saved by not having to purchase formula).  Not that reducing my risk of breast cancer and bumping up Syds immune system are not important, I’m just not all that ga-ga over these benefits and they weren’t the reason I stuck it out.  I did it for so long because once we got into a routine it was quite comforting, and heck I enjoyed burning an extra 300-500 calories a day!

But now we are done.  It’s sort of sad this transition.  I really thought I would be ecstatic to be done…much like the euphoria I had when I quit pumping at work…but that’s not the case.  I’ll miss it.  I’m sure this is just a prelude to many transitions to come as Syd grows up, so I better get used to it!  

I hope the next go-around we are as lucky to go this far again.  At least I’ll know a priori with the proper support from a helpful husband and some self-sacrifice,  it can be done!

Being the “milk-lady”

I thought I would take the time to write a bit on what its like to be the sole provider of food for our dear daughter…or as Royce like’s to put it…being the “milk-lady”.

Honestly, when I started I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.  I had friends who had it easy, friends who had it hard, and friends who did OK at the start and then stopped shortly after they went to work.  Given this, I really didn’t set any expectations for myself when I set out on this journey.  I armed myself pre-baby with as much info as I could.  I took a class, read my breastfeeding chapters in my pregnancy book and wished myself the best (while subliminally knowing I would have trouble from the start).

Many readers know my struggles I had in the beginning.  I’m not sure why we had problems.  Was it because Syd didn’t make it to breast until over 4 hours after birth (supposedly they have the strongest sucking reflex within the first hour after birth)?  Was it the lack of lactation support immediately after birth?  Was it the stupid nipple shield they started me on at the hospital? Was it Syds tongue?  Was it the fact that my boob was 3x the size of Syd’s head?  Who knows…  Let’s just say whatever caused our problems they somehow got solved after a month.  We figured it out and all was right with the world.

When I returned to work, I also didn’t set any expectations for myself.   I just blindly went into it figured I would give pumping the proverbial college-try with 6-months being my goal.  But the thing is, I had been pumping since day 1.  I pumped 8 times a day my first month, and then 2 times a day my second month, and then about 1 time a day my third month.  Me and Mr. Pump were getting along just fine.  I had plenty of practice (and plenty of milk in the freezer).  This practice (and stock) made pumping when I returned to work a complete breeze.  It wasn’t foreign, or weird.  I knew what I had to do and I got it done with in 10 mins flat.  Actually, now I don’t mind it at all.  It gives me 10 mins two times a day where I can lock my door and be alone…no one can pester me, nor can I use my computer all that effectively.  I can stare into space (I prefer to stare at pictures of Sydney) and just relax for a while.  It’s my office reset button.

I think one of the reasons I’ve had so much perseverance is that you can’t talk about breastfeeding without considering the press recently on the benefits, both financial and other, for it.  But no matter how much the media guilt’s us into doing this for longer periods of time, I have to wonder when things will give?  When will lactation consultants be reimbursed through insurance plans?  When will employers be required to set up lactation rooms and provide good hospital grade pumps to their breast-feeding mothers?  When will breast pumps and other lactation devices be reimbursed through medical insurance plans and flexible spending accounts?  How can something that is supposed to be free cost so much and then sadly be available to only those who can afford it?  When will women be able to feed in public without having to cover themselves with devices to feel secure and avoid getting stared at?  When will all women be given 6-months of properly funded maternity leave so that they can do what the medical profession and media tell us is best for their babies; stay at home and be the ‘milk-lady’.

I’m lucky that I had the resources I had through my pediatricians lactation consultant to get me started.  Now that I’ve found my rhythm I’m thinking heck with getting through 6 months…lets try a year!  It will keep me from going on my much desired solo vacation with girlfriends, not to mention keep me from playing long rounds of golf this summer, and of course my relationship with Mr. Pump won’t be going anywhere anytime soon either.  Not that I have the energy anyways, but it will also push back the time til I can really (comfortably) get into running again.  But the benefits, o’ the benefits, not just for me (can we all say together ‘weight-loss’) but for Sydney too.  I’ve come to really enjoy our times together; I read or just stare at her and I’m not sure her excited face when she realizes she is about to nurse will ever get old.  These moments are really quite the juxtaposition from our teradactyl wrestling sessions we had just a mere 4 months ago.

Give Syd milk from the ‘milk-lady’ until she can get milk from the moo-cow.  It’s a lofty goal and I hope I can stick to it.

We still have a long way to go.

This is definitely a venting post so if you don’t feel like listening to a sleep deprived new mom on her soap box…move along…this post has nothing in it for you.

Growing up here in America you think you have it pretty good as a woman.  We have reproductive freedom (for now at least), we can work, vote, and most of us get paid somewhat similarly to our male co-workers.   I always thought that seemed to be enough, and then I had a kid.

First blow was lack of paid maternity leave.  I blogged on this back when I was pregnant.  It sill pains me to tell people when asked that “the federal government does not have paid maternity leave”. They gasp, and I feel embarrassed. Why?  because large companies typically offer a meager 6-weeks to new moms.  But our federal government, which should be setting the standards in my opinion, doesn’t give squat.  I’m glad to report that starting next week I will have exhausted all my accumulated sick leave and will be dipping into my annual leave bucket to cover the last 3-weeks of my maternity leave.  I could take a 3-week vacation…but I guess this is considered vacation…some vacation!  LOL.  Oh and keep your fingers crossed that Syd (or god forbid MOM) doesn’t get sick when I go back to work because I have no sick leave left to cover any time away.  A co-workers wife who works for a European embassy has an entire year off with her new baby.  I’m not sure of the details…I’m almost certain she is not getting her full salary during this time…but I know she is getting *something*.  Must be nice.

Second blow is the one I’m dealing with now…attempting to get my pump purchase and pump rentals reimbursed by my Flex-Spending Account.  This seems like such a no-brainer to me.  Its $$ I set aside tax-free to cover medical expenses, yet something that is considered to be ‘medical equipment’ isn’t reimbursable.  Huh?  I’m confused.  I’ve called, I’ve submitted claims…reject, reject, reject.  I even tried calling BCBS to see if they would just pay for it outright…the lady said No..but should have included a statement of the like:  No, we do not reimburse breast-pumps because that would promote breastfeeding and that would promote healthy babies which leads to healthy children and then we wouldn’t have any sick child visits and we wouldn’t make any money.

Luckily for Syd and me our pediatricians office has a nurse practitioner on staff who is also a lactation consultant.  Our weekly doctors visits with her during Syds first month were billed as ‘feeding problems’ instead of lactation consults which wouldn’t have been covered.  Our neighborhood lactation center charges $100/hour for a consultation.  Not cheap.  And definitely not something affordable by all women of varying socioeconomic classes.  Honestly if it wasn’t for my ability to get help from our pediatricians office for our $25 co-pay I’m almost 100% sure I would have given up on breastfeeding entirely.

Sadly, yes, BCBS  and Flex-Spending reimburses for Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs.  Said bluntly, erections are more important to the Federal Governments health plans than healthy babies.  Disgusting.

I could go on…the maximum 5k we can set aside with a Flex-Spending account to cover child care expenses is just laughable.  That 5k will barely get us through 3 months of day-care.  And the measly dependent deduction we get for taxes.  Make you wonder why people even want to have kids, and maybe explains why some women choose abortion.  No one is willing to help them raise a healthy child, or give them time off to bond with their child.  I’m actually amazed the pro-lifers haven’t starting using this spin to get somewhere in congress.  Maybe instead of taking away our rights to abortion they should start lobbying for women and family rights, which in turn would give women and families the support and encouragement they need to have their baby.

Makes sense to me.  I can only hope and dream that by the time Syd is in this situation there have massive changes to support these rights which seem to be forgotten.  Sadly, we still have a long way to go before all women and children are considered equal to the big rich guys (and their erections) in congress.

For the birds?

Or I guess I should say some other mammal but “breast feeding is for the birds” sounds way better than “…it’s for cows”.  Let’s just say there is nothing natural, easy or even remotely peaceful about breastfeeding a newborn.  This little squirt has bruised me, scratched me, and gotten herself addicted to a nipple shield.  Feeding sessions feel, and sound like I’m wrestling a teradactyl.

This entire process has been a huge blow to my ego not to mention basically chained me to my ‘breastfeeding nest’ in the living room since the process starts with pumping (to start milk so baby has it easier), feeding 15 mins on one side…8 on the other, giving a 1-2 oz. bottle of expressed milk, and then finishing off with 10 mins of pumping.  Assuming this squirmer actually latches properly at the get-go this entire process can take upwards of 40 mins if I have no help with the bottle part and I have to do it all myself.  People who want to visit and think I can just calmly sit under my hooter-hider while I peacefully feed my babe are shockingly mislead and it has caused frustrations for me when they show up late or near a feeding time and sit there and say “well just go ahead I don’t mind”.  Well I do, and it’s why you get shooed away during feeding time so that I can sit in my nest half-naked and not be concerned with discretely covering myself as I pump, feed, and pump again.

It’s exhausting that is for sure and when you have to repeat it 7-8 times per day it can be truly mind numbing.  Yesterdays weight check appointment where she didn’t gain one stinking ounce and remained a 6 lbs 14 oz (6 oz shy of her birth weight) after what I thought was a fantastic week of feeding, was about all I could handle as I broke down in tears totally defeated.  The only positive I can find from this entire experience is that 17 days in to it I’m back to my pre-pregnancy weight and in my pre-pregnancy jeans and the numbers are still going down.

Seems so easy to just plug a bottle of formula in her, let her suck for 2-5 mins and be done with it…then I have 2 hours 55 mins to do something else before I have to repeat.  Instead I’ll forge on, give it a good month before I throw in the towel.  But this little miss has got to learn to latch to breast and break this nipple shield habit they started her on in the hospital.  Never ever again will I use one of those things…I don’t care how much pain I’m in.

So please send happy breastfeeding and weight gaining thoughts our way, we need them!

%d bloggers like this: