Saturday, May 31, 2014

Pump It, Take II

So, an update on my last post.

First of all, thanks to those who either called, emailed, messaged, or commented in support. I was really thankful to hear others' stories and kind words. It means a whole lot!

I decided that part of what was getting me down in pumping was the set-up. The Medela pump and madonna bra get-up is just about the least sexy, cow-standing in a pumping barn set up you can have. And I have a VERY supportive husband, but I just felt demoralized whenever I wore it. Add in hormones and stress of constant pumping and I was a raging mess.

So, I found a website I had bookmarked when I was pregnant: Freemie.

(by the way, if you just google "breast pump" you end up with a lot of sites that are NOT breastfeeding-related. YIKES)

Freemie makes a breast pump where the milk collection actually goes INTO your bra. There's a video here on how it works.

Personally, I thought it was too good to be true. And since it was new (and my insurance which covered pumps required I buy a pump from a brick and mortar store), I decided to go with tried-and-true Medela pump for me.

Until I was pumping around the clock...

Last week, I decided enough was enough. My pump wasn't compatible with Freemie, but my friend just finished breastfeeding and her Medela pump was compatible. I sprung and ordered just the Freemie cups (a $50ish investment, instead of their cups and pump, which would have been a $150ish investment... a higher amount I wasn't willing to risk on a whim that they'd work. And yes, I will follow up with my insurance company to try to get that $50 back)

Whoa, what a difference to not have to be running around the house attached to an ugly external milking machine.

The upsides: Everything, except now I can't use my cordless Medela pump-- Freemie is only compatible with a plug-in pump. But, if James starts squawking in the middle of pumping, I just turn off the pump, LEAVE THE CUPS IN my bra, and attend to him. When he's settled down. I just reattach the tubes to the pump and go away. Sure, the cups aren't super soft, but they also don't jostle or run the risk of detaching like the Medela collectors do, and I can actually pick up my child and hold him against my chest with the cups on.

I also feel more human(?), womanly(?) (unsure of the right word) with pumps that are concealed. And it's so nice not to have to put on a special bra and get up.

All of this is making me feel a lot better. I also have an appointment with a different lactation consultant on Monday. We'll see what she says about the new system and if she has changes and other recommendations.

Moving forward...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Pump it.

I must admit that the title of this post makes me think of that Black Eyed Peas song.

But, instead, it's about breastfeeding (or lack thereof). Warning, long long post ahead, written by a tired mom.

James won't nurse.

I've met with several lactation consultants, and he won't nurse. He got in the habit when I was pregnant of sucking on the back of his hand. Even our ultrasound at 20 weeks showed the little guy with his hands by his mouth. And in the 36-week ultrasound, his face was completely hidden by hands. The habit ruined his latch. He'll latch for a few seconds, get frustrated, and come off. Again. And again. And again. But a bottle of pumped milk? Fantastic Mom!

At first I was relieved to have a way to feed him. The first few days in the hospital were rough, hand expressing every.single.drop of colostrum into a thimble and feeding it to him with a spoon. Then trying to express as much milk/colostrum as possible until I was sore and frustrated and sleepless. Luckily, our hospital has donor milk, so I was able to feed him. But the anxiety leading up to our hospital release was great. I was being released from the hospital without a way to feed my baby besides formula? And, my milk hadn't yet come in.


Luckily, my milk came in 24 hours after we left the hospital. It wasn't enough though, and we had to supplement with some formula. Not too much, but some.

Once my milk came in, I started focusing on how I was feeding him. I remember crying to my husband that I didn't feel worse about not nursing. Oy, postpartum hormones.

But we had tried SO many things. Nipple shields. James peeled them off, so I taped them on, making me more sore. The nipple shields had tubing to a syringe of milk. I had to snake the tubing into the shield (while somehow maintaining suction) and then juggle a newborn baby, a syringe, a kinda suctioned covered breast and milk, and the loss of my modesty. Oh, and a baby that didn't want anything to do with the contraption but it occasionally worked, so I kept going anyway. Then after the baby would eat, I had to pump, at first to encourage milk to come in, and then after to catch anythign that happened to come out.

The nipple shield contraption was not maintainable. With him eating every 1-3 hours (between start of the last feeding and start of the next feeding) and the process taking 30-60 minutes, it just couldn't be maintained. So, we switched to finger feeding. We'd trained him to suck on a finger after a lot of work on day 1 and 2. So we took the tubing and syringe and had him suck on a finger with the tubing instead. But after a few days of that, we realized we might as well switch to a bottle. So we did.  The lactation consultants said it wouldn't harm his latch attempts to do bottle feeding, so we did.

But this has committed me to pumping. And being alone with him during the day is really difficult. I swear, he has a sixth sense and can start fussing as soon as I start pumping. He just KNOWS. I try to get 6-8 pumping sessions in a day. I have a hands-free bra so I can massage and pump both simultaneously. I need a window of 15 minutes for pumping, 5 minutes for set-up, and 5 minutes for take-down. I have a portable pump, which is nice too.

But, I can't comfort James that well with the pump on. And the pump dribbles stuff out when I bend over. And it constantly needs cleaning. And I still get stuff on me (it's not like the pump makes it a lot cleaner a process).

What's worst: I can't hold my baby while trying to pump to feed my baby.

And so, I dread pumping. I have to do it, but I dread it. I normally don't dread James crying, but if I'm pumping and he starts up, my heart SINKS. And then I have to stop pumping if I can't comfort him, but of course my milk doesn't stop coming in, so then I have milk all over (and attempts to soak it up via pads), and inevitably I can't shower right away, so I end up smelling like old milk.

It's frustrating. In a weird way, it makes me WANT to go back to work because most of my pumping sessions will be scheduled without interruption. Of course (enter the postpartum hormones) this makes me feel like a bad mother.

And, since pumping doesn't encourage milk production as much as nursing, I'm on a gabillion supplements from the lactation consultant, tea, and even lactation cookies (which do not help my pregnancy pounds come off, which leads to further emotions, sigh).

All this for this face:

For that face, I'd do anything. 

But I wish it wasn't this hard. There's a lot of other hard stuff about newborn-ness... Happily, James is an easygoing kiddo in all other aspects. Rare (knock on wood) are crying spells that last longer than a minute or so. I just wish that providing food for him wasn't quite so challenging or such a rollercoaster. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Flower power bath

He LOVED it.

Monday, May 5, 2014


James was born late on April 28th. Absolutely perfect in every way. 9 pounds, 8 ounces, 21.5" long.

Needless to say, we're over the moon.