Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Milk mantra

Right now it's past midnight and I'm sitting alone downstairs pumping because I'm in a dry spell. I hate these. Everything's going fine and dandy for weeks and then omgwillibeabletofeedmybaby happens. H is a beast of an eater - 25 ounces just while I'm at work?! - and I so want to be able to keep up with her. So I'm working in late-night pumps and dawn pumps until my body sorts itself out. In the meantime I smell like maple syrup due to all the fenugreek, which makes me even hungrier than I already (always!) am.

Hazel's such a big eater that I find myself only barely staying ahead of her. It's a delicate balance to be sure, sometimes veering dangerously close to the edge. Some days I have one extra bottle in the fridge when I get home from work. Often there's nothing left over, and we have only what I pumped that day. There is no freezer stash. And no Plan B. And so when my body decides it's temporarily only going to work for the baby and not her mechanical equivalent, I have to go into overdrive. I can't not do everything I can to get her what she needs, even though her needs appear to be a tad on the extreme side. The pleasure she gets from eating probably comes from me anyway. So here I am, filling a quiet house with the loudest machine ever as the clock ticks.

I wonder if she'll ever know what this is like. The crazy balance of moving my computer and papers two or three times a day at work to set up in a different room, muting conference calls over my incessant whirring, having all of my colleagues know my pumping schedule? It's weird. But it also just feels like life, like the realities of women in the workplace, and there's a part of making people get over their weirdness about it that I really enjoy.

H is so awesome, though. She's my girl. Her grin just melts me. She's teething already, and having a tough time the last few days as a result. She's also rolling like mad and moving so much at night that she'll wake herself up, stuck in a crazy position. So between the extra pumping and middle-of-the-night wakeups to rescue an upside down baby, it's a tired house. That grin, though! Worth it.

This week we're attempting our first real family photos. I meant to do newborn photos, but I got cheap and time just sort of flew by. She's so much more fun now anyway, so I'm excited that we'll be capturing her at this age. My Wednesday morning work calendar proudly says "PTO - Cherry Blossom Photos." Part of me thinks my colleagues assume this is a euphemism for a strange pumping ritual and don't want to ask questions. I'm excited, though. And since I'm always calculating events as being good or bad for the supply, Cherry Blossom Photos are a WIN. Bonus hours of feeding her myself. Birthday dinner date on Friday with a babysitter at home: bad for the supply. And so it goes. One day at a time, though, that's the milk mantra around here.

Speaking of that most precious liquid, I'm now 30 minutes into this pump with 4.5 ounces on the books. Not great. But every bit counts. And tomorrow is another day.



16 comments:

  1. I know your pain! Are you drinking a ton of water? I had to drink between 80 and 100 ounces when I was nursing to keep up my supply. I hope that helps!!

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  2. I know we all have opinions about this sort of thing - so this is just mine...

    Give her some formula. It will make you less stressed AND you can get some sleep. Your body needs the rest to produce the milk.

    We supplemented with formula even though I had a good supply and I BF for 18 months. It just made it that much easier on you when you have so much else going on.

    Again just my opinion based on my experience.

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  3. Oh friend, the life of a working, breastfeeding momma is not an easy one. I commend you for all the hard work you're putting in. And is it just me or does the pump sound 100 times louder at the office? I was sure they could hear it down the hall and around the corner. I must confess to sharing your pleasure in making coworkers confront the reality of breastfeeding women in the workplace. A coworker discovered my bag of pump parts in the office microwave (in the sanitizing bag) and he about died of embarrassment. I couldn't stop giggling.

    DC cherry blossom family photos sound amazing - I can't wait to see them. Goodness knows any photo of Hazel is sure to be a winner!

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  4. You are to be commended for your pumping commitment. In terms of when to hold em and when to fold em, it's so personal for each mom. There's something to be gain by what we stick to, because even beyond the present benefit to the baby, we as mothers get to always remember what we did for them. Brings confidence.

    On the other hand, there are times when someone wise needs to take us by the hand and say, "It's OK, you get to stop now." Only you can make that call. And I have no doubt that you can and will make it as is best for you and darling H.

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  5. Oatmeal and avocados! There is a natural dip in supply around 4 or 5 months- I think I found info on it on kellymom. It resolves itself!

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  6. 25 ounces! I'm preparing to go back to work in less than a month and I'm terrified I won't be able to keep up. I've turned in to a breast milk hoarder - our freezer is stacked full of those little bags! I just can't figure out how the math works and I too am sneaking in extra pumping sessions whenever and wherever I can. And as much as I know that supplementing with formula would be fine I just can't bring myself to do it. But oh, there's nothing lonelier than the late night pumping session! Good luck!

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  7. Oh pumping and working! It's so much work! My supply took a major dip when I went back to work and never fully recovered. Luckily a friend who also worked and had a baby 3 days younger than Margot was pumping way to much and started giving us her surplus milk. I still pumped as much as I could but then we supplemented with Valerie's milk. Both of our husbands thought it was completely bizarre but we thought it was perfect. I know a lot of pediatricians and midwife offices out west will help facilitate such relationships between low supply and high supply Mom's. Hopefully, it never comes to that and you guys work it out but if you feel like you need a back up freezer supply for the sake of your sanity it might be worth looking into.

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  8. Look at that little love bug! It's crazy how quickly they wrap you around their finger! Good on you for your pumping commitment. I hate that dang thing. I just read a hilarious (and true!) article lamenting the fact that we can make a prius completely silent but not a breast pump?!

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  9. I'm dealing with the same thing now, too! And my baby doesn't eat nearly as mush as Hazel. I had the norovirus a couple of weeks ago, and my supply plummeted. It is just now starting to pick back up again. We went through our freezer stash, so it's been tough and stressful. I feel for you! Hopefully, everything will get better for you when she starts solid foods. That has been what has saved us here. Good luck!

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  10. When I packed up my pump the Friday before my son's first birthday, I never felt more accomplished as a working parent. Good for you. Keep it up as long as its worth it!

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  11. You're awesome, have fun at the cherry blossoms!

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  12. My body didn't respond overly well to the pump and I'd often not have that much at the 30 minute point. I'd pump around 40 minutes and get a decent amount more...just a thought. I know it can be hard to find the time but if you're doing it more, you might be able to trick your body into making more. Good luck and I can't wait to see the cherry blossom pictures!

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  13. You are doing a great job, Momma! My body has never liked the pump (it often takes 30+ minutes to get 4oz), and I have so much respect for working mothers like you who rely on it to nourish their babies. Hazel is obviously a happy and healthy girl. I just love seeing her sweet smile!

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  14. This resonated with me, and not just because I read it while pumping! I was in the same boat with my first daughter and am now in it again with my second. Work stress really affects my supply. One "trick" I've found just this time around is to turn off the pump after about 25 mins, sit for 5 mins, then turn it back on. This usually enables me to get another couple of ounces. I also occasionally drink Gatorade, which is sort of gross tasting, but does seem to help. And oatmeal definitely does.

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  15. Two things that are very helpful to increase production are to: rent a hospital grade breast pump--the quality is a lot higher, the other is to take Fenugreek capsules, sold at hippie stores and Whole Foods.

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  16. Big hugs to everyone who responded here! xoxo

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