Saturday, June 29, 2013

Another One Bites the Dust

Oh my gawd, I’m 34. I keep accidentally typing 35, but no, I just feel like I’ve aged two years in the last 365 days.

Man, the last year, what can one say? It’s been amazing... and hard... and it’s crazy to think of all the changes. Last year this time, I was hugely pregnant. It was one million degrees outside. I opted out of birthday celebrations after having been baby showered twice in weeks leading up to my 33rd birthday. It was just me and Joey, and I couldn’t even tell you what we actually did on my birthday.

Of course, this year was different. Between working, taking care of the bug, and attempting to keep up on life, I was pretty serious about having some “me” time. I took Friday off work so that I could spend the morning going to my favorite Zumba class, taking myself to lunch, and getting a massage. I realized this: Massages are like crack. Every time I have one, I feel like I desperately need another one. After my morning alone, Emme and I met some neighborhood friends for a little playdate in the park. Friday night, my MIL came over to watch the Babe sleep, and MM and I went to dinner and got yogurt at Red Mango, my favorite make-your-own-fro-yo place.

On Saturday, we decided a small cookout would be a solid way to celebrate, so we invited family and a couple of friends over for an afternoon BBQ. The weather ended up cooperating, which was a nice surprise. The food was fantastic, other people entertained my baby, and I had a few drinks in the sun.

It was a really good birthday. Just enough celebrating.

Like I said above, for all the amazing stuff that has happened this year--Emme is without a doubt the light of my life--it’s also been hard. Adjusting to being a new parent is never easy, and MM and I have spent a lot of time re-evaluating what we want moving forward. I am hopeful that my 34th year will bring lots of changes that will not only allow our family to have more balance, but will also allow me some space to really figure out what’s next for me. I truly believe this is going to be fantastic year, and that when I write a post this time next year, I’ll be blown away by how far I’ve come.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Resolution

I swear this has not going to become a breastfeeding blog (does that sub-genre even exist?), but after my last few posts, I feel like resolution is necessary.

There is good news. My last ditch effort to increase my pumping output--which was switching out my pump's membranes--worked.. at least sort of. Now instead of pumping three times a day for 4 oz. total, I am pumping twice a day for about 7-8 oz. Still small, but somehow less soul crushing. I could pump three times a day, but at this point, it takes me between 30-40 minutes just to get those 3.5 ounces per session. I decided that I'm calling it. I'm officially pump weaning, and I will stick with two a day until I drop to once in a couple weeks.

So, math: Between pumping, my freezer stash, and the amount of time I plan to be home with Em over the next few weeks, my revised goal is to make it to the week of July 15, at which point we will begin supplementing with whole milk. She'll be two and a half weeks shy of her first birthday, and despite the minor baby Internet forum hysteria about introducing whole milk before your baby has logged 365 days outside of the womb, we have decided that it is somewhat ridiculous to transition from breastmilk to formula to whole milk to cover what amounts to eight daycare feedings.

Anyhoo…

Yesterday, Em and I had a playdate with @ and another friend of ours who has a two-year-old son and a newborn daughter.. After relaying my current pumping predicament, our BTDT mom friend said something along the lines of:
Breastfeeding is a contract between mom and baby. The terms can be renegotiated or the contract can be terminated if it is no longer working for mom or baby or both.
YES. THIS. SANITY.

Sometimes you just hear the thing you need to hear.

Here's the thing: No matter how much we do for our babes, we moms tend to be pretty hard on ourselves and what we should do. And there's so much noise. Here's a tip for any moms-to-be out there: Step away from the Internet forums. Find some moms you trust IRL (in real life). Moms who have a balanced perspective about all this. Moms who will not judge you for making the tough decisions you need to make, not just for your baby, but for your family and yourself.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Know When to Fold 'Em

I'm not typically one to indulge in mommy guilt. Sure, I may joke about how "I'm the worst mom ever," because my kid shoved some dog hair in her mouth or something similarly benign. But in reality, I actually think I'm a pretty good mom who's been able to keep this whole parenting thing in perspective so far.
"I don't know anything about any 'dog hair.'"
…And then there's breastfeeding.

Yes, breastfeeding. Have we already discussed this once or a hundred times? So here we are again, but this time, it's different. This time, I fear that we have reached the end of the road, just six weeks shy of my goal of being able to pump enough for Em for a year. I haven't thrown in the towel yet, but I am running out of tips, tricks, supplements, options… I am not pumping enough to keep up with Em anymore.

Scratch that--it's actually worse than that--I am barely pumping anything anymore.

As I mentioned in my last post about this mess, it all started in May, when prior to a stressful family event, I had plugged ducts, but with a little acupuncture and a mild temper tantrum on my part (it was cathartic), things got back to normal pretty quickly, despite a small drop in my supply. I did the math--because I'm insane--and even accounting for what i thought was the "worst case scenario" (now known as the "best case scenario"), we would make it to a year without needing to supplement.

But then, after I thought our problems had been solved, there was more pain. I started needing to pump for upwards of 30 minutes. My ducts became plugged again. And then, for whatever reason, I just stopped being able to pump. The milk was there. It just won't come out. I've massaged; I've hot compressed; I've had my pump's motor checked; I've taken supplements; I've deep breathed; I've switched out my pump parts. I keep thinking that this is going to turn around, and yet, it's just not. With my freezer supply and what I'm pumping now (apprx. 4 oz a day), I'm two weeks from being completely out of business.

As much as I have bitched and moaned, feeding Em exclusively breastmilk for a year is something I was committed to doing. And when I failed all other tests of new mommy hood--I haven't lost the baby weight; I stopped making Em's baby food; I can't commit to an exercise routine; I struggle to get a healthy dinner on the table even a few times a week--I held on to this as the thing that I could do. I could do this for my baby. I could set this one goal and reach it. Around nine months, I started to get cocky, let my guard down, began to assume that we were out of the woods. The end was in sight, and with no major hurdles ahead, we would have no trouble making it to August 1.

I was wrong.

I struggle so much with this because I know in my head that this is no big deal, that I've done a great job for my baby, and it is time to move on with our lives. And yet, the whole thing kills me. I cry when I think about it. For the first time as a mom, I feel like a failure. I am comparing myself to other mothers who reached their breastfeeding goals despite the hurdles. I have questioned where I went wrong. Maybe if I had bitched less. Maybe if I hadn't followed the peditrician's advice and tried dropping from pumping three times a day to twice. If I was just home with her more this wouldn't even be an issue.

MAYBE MAYBE MAYBE IF IF IF...

And so on, like that, for at least a little while longer. 

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Another Update on that Whole Pumping Thing

I’ve been pumping for almost as long as Emme has been alive. When we first brought Emme home, she had some trouble gaining weight. We were struggling to breastfeed, but I was determined (in my postpartum haze of insanity) to make it work.

With the support of our pediatrician, I called a lactation consultant who helped troubleshoot our issues and provided us with a plan to overcome Emme’s lack of weight gain. The plan went something like: Breastfeed, pump, feed Emme a bottle with the pumped milk. Rinse and repeat.

Anyone who has been through the early days of breastfeeding knows that--even when it’s going well--it takes FOREVER. Like upwards of 40 minutes every two hours. So, if you breastfeed your little bug at 1 p.m., and you’re done at 1:40, you have approximately 80 minutes before you are supposed to put that baby back on the boob. Fun times. Well, add in pumping, and you just cut your time sans shit attached to your boob by a third. It sucks. Big time. And literally.

But, in my postpartum haze of insanity, it never occurred to me to give up. I’m really proud of myself for that, and I know it was totally worth it, but if I found myself in that situation again, I’m not sure I’d be able to do it. It was really, really hard.

Eventually, Emme and I overcame our challenges, and once the whole cluster feeding nonsense settled down, we’ve had a pretty fulfilling nursing relationship.

But then there’s pumping. Clearly, I’ve had my ups and downs with working full time and pumping, but from February through roughly April, I pretty much accepted my fate and just did what I had committed to doing.

And then May happened, and I lost steam. Work became very busy. We had some stressful family situations arise (OK, one stressful family situation, but that’s another story). I dealt with colds and allergies. And, I tried to drop from pumping three times a day to twice, which resulted in plugged ducts. By the end of May, my supply had tanked, I’m pretty sure I had a milk blister, nursing hurt like hell, and my attitude was shit. I dipped into my freezer supply again and again and again.

At this point, I could quit. Emme is 10 months, and that’s a pretty solid amount of time to commit to breastfeeding. Even if I kept breastfeeding, I could stop pumping at this point. Supplement during the day, nurse in the morning and evening. I know these things. I have told myself this time and time again.

But we’re so freaking close. Emme will be a year in 56 days. I only have to pump for 56 more days. I know it’s insane that I’m counting, and I don’t want to rush Emme out of babyhood, but I am ready to be done, especially with pumping. We’ll probably continue to nurse in the morning and evening for a little longer, but as rewarding as nursing can be, I don’t think I’ll go much past 12 months--I sort of have 15 months in my head as a hard stop. I’m looking forward to my body being my own for the first time in almost two years. I’m ready to stop planning my days and nights around nursing and pumping. I'm just... ready.

56 days.