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Archive for the ‘Nursing’ Category

In spite of my resolution a few days ago that I was going to continue breast feeding as long as I can, I’ve made the decision to start weaning Autumn off the boobie. It wasn’t an easy decision and I’m a little sad about it, but right now there are more reasons to wean than to continue. I’m glad I was able to do it this long. It was more enjoyable than I ever thought it could be.

I consoled myself by shopping and bought this last night:

It’s not a Maclaren or a Peg Perego, but it has nice long handles so that her daddy doesn’t have to hunch over like Quasimodo when he pushes her in it. Hopefully we’ll all be able to go out for a walk tonight.

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It’s getting to be that time of year when things are picking up at work. Most people think that summers are relatively laid back when you work at a university, but that’s just not true unless you’re faculty and aren’t required to set foot on campus between the months of May and August. When I was an undergrad I told my faculty advisor once how much vacation time I received each year when I was working at the factory. He shuddered and said, “I couldn’t handle that.”

Anyway, since coming back to work I’ve been pumping the breast milk out so that Autumn can have something to eat at daycare the next day. The office has been pretty cool about me leaving my desk three times a day, but still it’s a bit embarrassing when you have to pick up the phone and tell someone “I gotta go pump” because then you’re sure they’re imagining what you look like with your shirt hiked up and your boobs hanging out with the plastic cones attached and your nipples getting sucked in and out and in and out with the milk dripping into the bottles kind of like this:

So I’ve been toying with the notion of whether to wean Autumn at the sixth month mark. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies should be breast fed a minimum of six months. That was my goal at first. Make it to six months and then decide if I want to continue.

Another thing is I’m really, really beginning to despise the pump. I have a good one, a Medela Pump in Style that has pretty much paid for itself since I haven’t had to buy formula. I do have some on hand for emergencies, but thankfully it isn’t a staple. That shit’s expensive as hell.

One aspect of the whole pumping process is the extra baggage it adds to my morning commute. Every day I walk into the office, weighed down with the pump strapped to my back, my lunch bag in one hand and my mom-sized purse/diaper bag in the other, because you know I can’t go anywhere without an extra outfit, baby wipes, diapers and a burp cloth. So if you see me walking into the building in the morning, I look and feel a lot like this:

The only thing that keeps me going is Autumn. I just love the look on her face when she knows she’s going to get fed. In the beginning we had such a hard time perfecting her latch. I was always worried that she wasn’t opening her mouth wide enough, but now she sees the boob coming and opens wide. If I don’t get it to her fast enough she’ll cry out as if to say, “Get that thing over here NOW!”

You can tell she’s in heaven when the milk starts to flow. Her eyes roll up inside her head and she’s oblivious to everything else. If I don’t give her a burp cloth or blanket to grab while she’s nursing, she’ll grab at my skin and leave tiny little welts from her nails. Okay, so that part’s not so fun.

I guess now I’m more inclined to continue for another six months or whenever the girl is ready to stop, whichever comes first. All I know is that she’s not going to be one of those kids who drag mommy’s teat to kindergarten.

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The Raymond Inqusition

Nathan and I spent a good part of the weekend with Ryan and Marla. Ryan was yet again kind enough to help us install a ceiling fan, this time in our bedroom. He brought Marla and the boys over and the seven of us headed over to our favorite Chinese buffet after the fan was installed.

Now that Autumn is three months old, I’m pretty comfortable nursing her in front of others. I’m always discreet about it and will always ask if someone isn’t comfortable with me doing it in their presence. It’s not like I just plop my boob out and let Autumn go to town. I do cover up with a blanket and show very little skin while Autumn’s latched on. The process has gotten trickier since Autumn has started grabbing things. She doesn’t like to be covered and tends to try to bat the blanket away before I’ve sufficiently covered up.

The first time I nursed Autumn at Ryan and Marla’s, I expected some questions from three-year-old Raymond. Since Marla feeds Conner formula, I was sure Raymond would be curious as to what exactly I was doing when I ducked my head under the blanket to get Autumn latched on. Only after Autumn was well into her feeding did Raymond look at her and ask, “What’s the baby doing?” I told him she was eating. “Why is she eating?” he asked. “Because she’s hungry,” I said. And that was that.

After the buffet on Saturday, we headed back to Ryan and Marla’s to watch Wallace and Grommit in The Curse of the Were Rabbit. Autumn was getting hungry so I started nursing her as soon as we sat down. Raymond was sitting next to me and took notice. Again, he asked what the baby was doing. When I told him she was eating, he reached over as if to pull back the portion of my sweater covering Autumn’s nose. “Oops, don’t touch,” I said and he pulled his hand back. His attention was soon turned back to Wallace and Grommit and there were no more questions after that.

The next day the seven of us met at Cracker Barrel for lunch. I noticed a young lady with a newborn at the next table and pointed her out to Marla. The two of us watched a few minutes later as the woman draped a blanket over her shoulder and started to nurse the baby. “You know I expected more questions out of Raymond last night,” I said. “I would think he would at least want to know why Conner eats out of a bottle but Autumn doesn’t.”

“He must not have made that connection yet,” she said.

While I’m comfortable answering questions and want Raymond to feel free asking them, I just know that when the time comes to explain breastfeeding to him, there’s going to be a cow reference in there somewhere.

Moo.

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My return to work was pretty uneventful. I logged in to my computer, read my emails and took some calls. It was all pretty much as I had left it and I had no problem getting back into the swing of things after being gone for almost three months. My supervisor even came out to see how I was doing, but I suspect I’ll not be as interesting to her now that I’m not a potential emergency waiting to happen.

I kept telling everyone I was fine. Autumn had already been in daycare a few times so leaving her wasn’t an issue. I didn’t cry and looked at her pictures on my desk with a sense of longing that wasn’t at all painful.

Then I got home.

The daycare provider hadn’t yet gotten the third bottle to Autumn so I decided to nurse her. As soon as I got her into position she started to scream. She wanted nothing to do with me. I tried and tried and she just wouldn’t nurse.

This has been an ongoing problem for us this past week. Sometimes she’ll nurse and sometimes she won’t. Sometimes she’ll take one side but not the other. Plus she’s stopped sleeping through the night. She woke me up early Monday morning at 2 am. That’s okay. I wasn’t sleeping anyway.

I called the lactation “warmline” at the hospital and left a message. I thought it might be a nursing strike. I was tired, frustrated and feeling miserable. I cried and cried, convinced this was the beginning of the end of the beautiful nursing relationship I’d established with my daughter.

So this morning I called in sick to work. I was trying to fight off a cold that was getting worse from lack of sleep. A lactation consultant called about 9am and said we should take Autumn to the doctor to rule any physical reasons for the nursing issues. “If she checks out okay then she just might be a little mad at you for going back to work,” she said.

Great. Just what I wanted to hear.

After a little more discussion, the lc assured me that once our routine is established, Autumn should get back into the groove of things. She might, however, continue to wake for a feeding in the wee hours of the morning to make up for the mommy time she’ll no longer get during the day.

All day today I struggled with being depressed about having to go back to work. I never thought it would be this painful. I felt like a horrible mother for working full time. I felt like a horrible mother for staying home today and disrupting Autumn’s routine.

The doctor appointment proved uneventful. Autumn charmed the nurse and was thrilled (as always) to have her clothes taken off. She was fine though. She wasn’t getting a cold, didn’t have a fever or any ailments that the doctor could see. So I guess she’s pissed at me. I’m sure it won’t be the last time.

The good news is today she mostly nursed without a problem. We did have an issue this afternoon but I calmed her and it’s been smooth sailing since.

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Predictability

I’ve been trying to guide Autumn into a schedule. The end of this next week will mark the halfway point of my maternity leave and the control freak in me is hoping to make the transition back to work as easy as possible for the both of us.

Lately Autumn has been able to sleep up to five hours at night, which is great. The other night we put her down at midnight and she slept until almost 5 am. After seeing that, I had the bright idea of putting her down immediately after a 10 pm feeding and see how late she slept. Apparently she does not want to get to sleep any earlier than midnight, nor does she want to sleep more than five hours at a time. That night she gurgled and squirmed in the pack and play for an hour and a half before finally falling asleep. She then woke at 3 am for a feeding and went right back to sleep. I told Nathan we’ll probably have to wait on the earlier bed time until we see she’s starting to sleep more through the night. Hopefully that will happen soon because this schedule is going to kill me once I have to go back to work.

Nursing has become a bit of a challenge. If I don’t get to Autumn before she launches into siren mode (“waaah waaah waaah waah!”) she become very fussy and tends to yank herself off the breast. She’ll be chugging along fine and then her little fist pushes me away. She then starts shaking her head back and forth, mouth open, wondering where the food went. She also has a habit of blocking me every time I try to get her to latch on. I don’t understand this behavior at all because it’s worse on one side than the other. I think I may have corrupted her latch with bottles and pacifiers, so another trip to the lactation consultant may be in order.

Last night we had a very harrowing experience with not wanting to latch on at all. For some reason she absolutely refused to latch on my right side. She screamed and pulled away which led me to start crying myself. Nathan urged me to calm down (“I can only handle one of you crying right now”) and gave Autumn a bottle of expressed breast milk, which she had no trouble with. After she was fed and had calmed down, I tried latching her back on again only to be received with more screaming. I then switched to my left and she took to that side without a problem. We didn’t have any problems at her 4:30 am feeding, but this morning at 9 am she refused the right side again. I ended up calming her down and moved to the living room where she took both sides without a problem.

The unpredictability of caring for a child is a bit disconcerting. I’m a scheduler. I like to be organized and know how I’m going to spend my time. Autumn has taught me that my time is not my own anymore. As I write this, she is starting to wake up and I may have another battle on my hands if I don’t get to her soon. She starts with sniffles and random cries. Her face gets redder and more scrunched up until she wakes herself up into a tantrum or decides to go back to sleep. Apparently the latter was the more appealing option because she’s quiet again. For now.

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I read a lot while I was pregnant and formed a lot of theories as to how things were going to go once I brought my daughter home. She was going to be breastfed only. No bottles, no pacifiers and she was going to sleep in our room in a pack and play so that I could easily wake and feed her at night.

Less than two hours after we brought her home though, she had a bottle full of formula stuck in her mouth because I was afraid she wasn’t getting much to eat. She was terribly fussy and my milk had not yet come in. I was told delayed lactation is a common problem for moms who have a cesarean, but that didn’t make me feel any better.

The formula seemed to fill her up some and we were offered some relief until it was time to go to bed. Nathan and I had not slept much all since I had been admitted to the hospital and were ready to crash. Autumn had other ideas though. She cried and wailed throughout the night. No sooner would we calm her and put he down and she was up again. We tried more bottles of formula and a pacifier that she kept spitting out every few minutes. Eventually her eyes closed and we were able to sleep for a few hours.

One of the problems with having a newborn is that everyone else who ever had a baby also has an idea how things are supposed to go. After that first night of no sleep, I spent the next two nights sleeping upright on our chaise lounge in the living room with Autumn cradled in my arms. She slept well, but I woke up feeling like the worst mother in the world for not putting her to sleep on her back like all the experts say we should to help prevent against SIDS. One nurse at my doctor’s office said we should immediately stop sleeping with her like that lest we create a needy, clingy baby who will never be able to sleep on her own. Another nurse who called on us at home said we should do whatever works for us to get some sleep right now. If Autumn can fall asleep in our arms right now then so be it. Our pediatrician said it’s impossible to spoil her at this point and that I need to get enough sleep to keep my milk supply up.

Speaking of milk, that’s another hurdle entirely. Wednesday I went back to the hospital to meet with one of their lactation consultants who showed me that my latch, while not totally incorrect, was not totally effective. Apparently Autumn wasn’t getting as much milk as she should and in turn wasn’t gaining as much weight as she should. Again I had another terrible mother moment but the LC assured me that things would be fine once we got the latch down. She advised me to pump after feedings to build up my supply because Autumn would soon be hitting a growth spurt and my supply may not meet her demand. Well, that growth spurt seemed to have hit sooner than I thought it would because the girl has been eating like a athlete in training. The constant nursing has taken its toll and I once again resorted to a bottle of formula so that I could finally get some sleep last night.

So, since I’ve been home I feel as though I’ve made every mistake possible with this girl. Maybe there’s a “Parenting for Dummies” book out there for me.

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