This Working Mama’s Pumping Tips

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As I posted the other day, Ramona is now five months old and I’m left wondering where time went. This means we’ve also been nursing for that long and only have around a month left of her receiving everything from me.
It also means that I’ve been pumping regularly for over two months too.
In those five months, I’ve learned plenty.

I love that I am dedicated to nourishing her myself. I lug my pump back and forth to work. I am renting a Medela Symphony, so that’s a good amount of pump to drag around. We haven’t had to overcome any major struggles, fortunately, but after a move at work, I’ve found it to be more inconvenient.

I have my own small library of tips for working and pumping mamas that I’ve found useful so far.

1.) This should be rest. But I’m realistic and know that you and I will try and fail. But try anyways. Daily.

2.) Eat and eat well. I get more milk when I nourish my body with fresh fruits and vegetables for lunch than when I run to the cafe and eat garbage or order Chinese.

3.) Oatmeal and coconut milk. I eat/drink these regularly and find that the days that I do, I produce more.

4.) Find a schedule that works and stick to it. I actually blocked out time in my calendar. My baby is my top priority and getting the pop-up reminder alerts me if I am really involved or gives me the excuse to drop a call, if I need to go.

5.) I once read that someone repeated a mantra when they went to pump about being grateful to make milk for their baby. I do this on days that I need to connect more with her, which brings me to the next point.

6.) I know that you’re filling your phone with pictures and videos, so use them. Connect with your baby from afar in any way you can. If you aren’t like me and actually have a sense of smell, if you need to, bring a blanket or something that smells like your baby. (I’m told that this smell is addicting. I cannot smell it one bit.)

7.) Drink water. Tons of it. All day. Get yourself a great water bottle and don’t let it leave your side. I always have mine.

8.) Relax. On days that I am stressed or too on the go, I need to stop and breathe deeply and mentally force myself to relax for a minute or two. Tension doesn’t do great things for milk flow.

9.) Nurse whenever you can. Ramona always wants me to nurse when I get home, even if she just ate. I love this opportunity to reconnect at the end of the day. Nursing her after my first day back to work may have been my favorite nursing session ever. Maybe even more than our first.

10.) Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Call a lactation consultant, they are frequently covered by insurance, so check. Join a group in real life or online for support and advice.

11.) Find a breastfeeding friendly pediatrician. Don’t stick around with a doctor whom you don’t feel comfortable or dislike. If you’re told to supplement, seek a second opinion. Supplementation does nothing good for your supply, nursing boosts it.

Do you have any tips that I haven’t covered here? Any secrets?

Five Months! (On Tuesday)

Ramona will be five months on Tuesday and John and I have been left wondering what happened to our tiny squish. I’m posting now because who knows what this week will bring.
Remember this?

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Somehow she’s turned into this:

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“Could you shut my door on the way out, Mom?”

So I’m not sure when that one happened.

She’s sitting for short periods entirely by herself now. She also latches onto anything that could possibly be misconstrued as a nipple and nearly anything that cannot. She’s latched onto her doll’s nose, my nose, John’s nipple, my water bottle, and who knows what else. It’s adorable somehow, even if my face must look like a giant boob. She rolls over both ways but sometimes forgets this and gets angry after she rolls one way and realized that she doesn’t want to be that way. Again, somehow adorable.

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Another month from now she will be starting to eat food and this keeps blowing my mind for some reason.

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John calls these her Elvis pajamas and says he would rock a jumpsuit like this in a heartbeat.

I mean, she will be a year before we know it and then we will blink again and college application time will be here.
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She is legitimately one of the happiest babies I’ve ever met. She has a grin and a giggle for everything, particularly “squishy wooshy tushie.” She also likes it when we yell “free buns!” at diaper change time. We are big on potty jokes here, apparently.

I Am Not A Fan of Wal-Mart, But I Love Their Peanut Butter Cups

I’m a stress-eater. I’m not one of those people who loses weight when life really sucks. Pass me the peanut butter cups and second third slice of pizza. Carrots? Celery? Those are for happy, healthy people, not me.

This means I quit losing baby weight awhile ago. I have continued to shrink a bit, so there was some muscle stuff going on, I think. My arms are looking less blobular and have a hint of definition, though they are nowhere near Michelle Obama arms. But I am not at a level that I am happy with at all, whether I ditch the scale and look in the mirror or not.

And I need to stop making excuses for myself. Eff those peanut butter cups. Stop buying Oreos. They are just gross anyways. If I have breakfast at 5:30 am, this does not mean grab toast and oatmeal when I get to work at 8, just grab the coffee and go. Yes, Ramona gobbles up calories, but I have reserves to burn.

I need to stop telling myself that I will start yoga when life slows down. Dying is a slow process and we’ve all already started it ourselves. Let’s make the most of all of our time here by being as healthy as possible, mentally and physically. He might go tomorrow, he might go three months from now. Why should I be unhealthy because I am waiting for it to happen?

So, internet, I’m putting this out there for you to read and to hold myself accountable that I will get up, get moving, and eat a damn salad. (Not the teriyaki steak bento box that comes with miso soup, white rice, some California rolls, a couple of dumplings, tempura shrimp and a couple of veggies, and some more steamed veggies with my steak. That I eat all of.)

Alternatives

Life has been this crazy mix of highs and lows. I am trying to see the beauty and feel all of the good feelings more deeply to get through this.

No lie, I’ve had some pretty weak moments where I imagine all of us continuing on in this state of limbo in our lives, watching him get sicker and sicker and I just feel like I cannot do it. I get so exhausted in those moments. Each day needs to be taken on its own. Now is not the time to focus on the future.

I took a couple of days off to get some things done. We have a new bed and bedding now. I’m in love and slept so comfortably.

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I also have my own Tula, that I sold the mei tai to fund, lest you think we hit some sort of secret lottery and bought all the things. (Though retail therapy is how I deal.)

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We also enjoyed a delicious meal at the new Steak Stone & Sushi here in Lockport. Ramona expressed her opinion at my order well. And John leveled up in parenting, especially since he’s right-handed.

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I spent some much-needed one-on-one time helping Joey clean his room today. He now has our old bed. He informed me that he wants his room to “look like an adult’s room,” which means that he wants me to take his toys out. I’m not ready for this. We did finally get these up. I had picked them up a month or so ago for him.

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This was all in the last two days and I am so ready for sleep now. Seriously, how comfortable does Ramona look in my new bed??

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Tomorrow is back to normal life for a couple of days and then the long weekend before school starts, which we are ready to take on. Okay, one last picture because how could I not share this perfection??

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And in one last bit of happy news, Sakura Bloom released their fall colors today, so Ramona will have some all new style. (I sold again to help fund!) I love the luxury of feeling the brand new silk or linen and the joy I feel when my stiff, new sling has become so soft and so floppy with love.

Today I Am Numb

Today I am numb.
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He’s still here. He’s at hospice for now, a peaceful, beautiful place with gardens and the koi pond above. On Wednesday, when he went in, we didn’t think that he would come home. He’s made an astounding turn around.
Death is a roller coaster.
I’m nursing a sleepy baby, a little girl falling asleep right now and I have no energy to do anything. My house is in disarray because this week was crazy. And our new bed, mattress, and bedding arrived this week and is currently hanging out in our living room until we have the time to deal with it. The community market starts in about half an hour and we need to buy food and milk. Yet even putting in a load of laundry seems like so much work right now. I just want to sit here in my bed all day. Being positive, being strong, it’s all taking its toll on me now. But I need to keep going for my family.

It seems cruel to admit, but we are ready for this journey to be over. He’s sick. He’s weak. He’s in pain. He’s suffering.
And we are suffering by watching.
This is a horrible disease.

On Tuesday night he told my mom that “they” won’t let him go yet. Things like that really make me think about death and dying. Does he have something more to do or learn before he can move on? Why did he get so close to death, only to bounce back? Is life more of a journey, planned more than we think? Are there expectations to fulfill while we are here? I believe that something happens when we die besides a hole in the ground. But I do not know and I cannot comprehend what that is. My earthly mind is too small and inexperienced to understand.

If you aren’t following me on Instagram, I’ve been documenting these days there. I’ve wanted to remember everything and have been trying to capture it through my phone. It’s this urge that I’ve had so I am going with it because whatever helps right now.

Summer Colds Are No Fun

Poor Ramona has her first cold. John and I have it too. Somehow, Joey has avoided it. I am guessing I couldn’t fight it due to lack of sleep lately.

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Today I worked from home because she couldn’t go to daycare and I couldn’t breathe. I signed off early after a coughing fit that almost made me sick. Babywearing got us through the day.

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I tried to read my training out loud to her. She clearly didn’t care about money laundering.

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I’m grateful to have wonderful bosses.
I’m also exhausted and am hoping that she won’t wake up when I put her down in a minute.
Really I just made this post to waste time and spam you with my baby. And complain about summer colds because, seriously, I miss breathing.

Final Days

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My step-dad’s days with us are coming to an undeniable end. He’s rapidly declined the past few weeks. His pants don’t stay up. He’s a different man now. We’ve had longer than we thought.
I’ve been here before.
This past week, things have become difficult to deny. After I picked Ramona up from daycare on Monday, we stopped by my mom’s for a bit. She hadn’t slept the past few nights. His breathing would slow and pause as he slept. I took the next two days off from work and took the kids over for the day on Tuesday. That’s them, camped out on the floor there together. On Wednesday, they stayed home with John and I went to my mom’s to help her with some stuff. The confusion began on Sunday as he asked about turkey dinners that weren’t there. Bit by bit, the end of life signs have continued to show themselves, blue fingertips as his circulation slows, restlessness last night. We are in the final days. I cannot deny it. They are more stretched out than with Dad, or maybe I’m older and more aware.
Cancer looks like such a godawful way to go.
We will miss him. I don’t know what to expect with Joey. I really have no clue. I’ve let him make the decision to be around or not and explained things and kept him aware. It may be arguable, but it’s what feels right with him right now. Another time, another person, another child, I might feel differently. Joey has thick skin and I’m confident in my decision. And my lap and arms are at least figuratively always open if things get to be a lot. His life, his world, it all must feel so turned upside down right now. He’s a child of routine. A baby and a dying grandpa are certainly disrupting. We will emerge and eventually develop new ones.
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Time Wasting Tuesdays #2

Ah Tuesday, you’re really just a less awful Monday. You’re still close to the beginning of the week and you’re sitting there between Monday and hump day and since those camel commercials, people have started hating on hump day a bit more. The weekend still llooks so far away from here. Fortunately, I have this nice little round up to get you through Monday’s annoying sister.

By now, women everywhere are wishing that they were the one carrying Ryan Gosling’s baby. I giggled at Feminist Ryan Gosling’s Baby. There are so many gems, but “hey girl, I recognize the loaded historical symbolism of yellow wallpaper but I like your parents’ gender-neutral decorating,” ranks pretty up there. I’m not completely obsessed with the man, but if he started babywearing, well, I might develop a strong new crush.

Joey tests me often. He’s exhausting and I love him to pieces. I also need every suggestion and reminder how to keep calm that’s available some days.

I may present myself as organized at times, but I’m really, really not. I am messy but organized, in that when things are in chaos, I am better able to find them. Seriously. But I am trying so hard to be more organized. Manic Pixie Dream Mama has some excellent tips in a nice, long list that you can read while pretending that you’re accomplishing something because hey, you’re learning how to do it. It’s like she read my mind that she doesn’t know exists and timed it so well to go with my own organizing.

So much yes here. I always feel the need to clean my plate completely off.

The concept of microparks is so awesome. These parking spots turned gardens look like such a neat spot to just sit for a minute.

I’m a bit obsessed with the idea of turning basic sandals into something much nicer. These tassel sandals look like a great place to start.

I get really easily distracted. This list may just help.

The First Week Back to Work

So I have three days down now at work. First of all, I can safely make the announcement now. I have been promoted within my team! My focus is now more on projects and that is awesome. I am so grateful to work for a department with excellent women (and men!) who did not see me having a baby as a sign that I do not take my career seriously. I do, obviously, but I hear so many stories of women being told just that or more or less that when they have a baby, no matter how they feel about their job. So a giant thank you to all of them.

On Wednesday and Thursday, John jumped into full-time parenthood with Joey and Ramona home with just him. I had a nice supply of milk in the refrigerator, a supply of clean diapers, and more milk in the freezer. He quickly learned that being a stay-at-home parent is a whole lot of work and much harder than he ever expected. I came home on Thursday, the day that she clearly started her three month growth spurt and saw a pile of breakfast bar wrappers on the bookshelf in the bedroom. It was pretty much all that he had managed to eat all day. So the housework has been a bit neglected the second half of the week since Ramona and I just want to snuggle and nurse after work and he’s too busy holding her and then is exhausted after work. But we’ll all find our groove. I’m getting there. I’ve managed dishes and laundry and some quick picking up so far.

On Friday she went to daycare for the first time. I only called twice, but may have cried a bit while walking out of there that morning. The day went really well, actually. She ate a ton, but wasn’t angry all day. I think that transitioning at home, with daddy, helped a lot.

Pumping once before work and three times during work has definitely made breastfeeding even more special. I am always so happy to get home and hold her and nurse her.

This morning we went to the post office and the farmer’s market. We hung out at my mom’s for a bit. I haven’t accomplished anything more than just yet and that’s alright. The housework can wait. My days of baby snuggles won’t last forever. Right now she’s in the mei tai and asleep on me and we are both as happy as can be.

And I didn’t change or anything until after holding this baby for almost two hours after getting home my first day. IMG_0146

Three Fantastic Months

Here it is. The morning that has been looming ahead for the past three months. I’m off to work in a bit. I don’t want to focus on that. Three months ago today, I was on this computer, working, before I went to my last prenatal appointment, meaning today is also Ramona’s three month birthday!

Ramona,

You will never know the joy that you have brought into our lives. We spent so long waiting for you and then, one day, you came. I stared at you with amazement, in awe of how you were just inside of my body that morning and there you were, with us, earthside. You were absolutely perfect. And now, here you are, three months old. That’s one fourth of the way to a year already. These months have been amazing. I feel so lucky to have been with you for all of this time, watching you grow and change.

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The world is filled with such wonder to you and you don’t want to miss a thing. We generally have to work to get you to take a nap. It’s as though you are already afraid of what might happen while you drift off for a little while. Your favorite way to nap is in the wrap. You’re starting to recognize it too. The other day you were getting sleep so I went to wrap you. You watched as I pulled it around my body, getting ready to put you in. But I realize that I probably wanted to change your diaper first. You were so angry about that diaper change. You’re never angry about changes. You’re all smiles and coos, with a side of giggles. You calmed as I picked you up and put you in the wrap, as though you knew all along what you wanted. I love that you love being so close to me.

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I swear that you are starting to teeth already. You’re a drooly mess so often and have started to dive-bomb my knuckle for something to shove into your mouth. When we hold you, our arms and shoulders are covered in drool every single time. It’s okay though because who could be angry at this face?

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The noises that you make are just wonderful. And you laugh so hard at your big brother. The two of you were being so silly in the backseat the other day, it completely melted my heart. You are constantly expanding upon your own vocal range, besides giggles. I swear that you change physically as well, even on a weekly basis. These two photos were taken only a week apart. (In the crib that you don’t sleep in just yet.)

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You have also decided that maybe swaddling isn’t quite for you now. (And this is where you actually sleep, in the co-sleeper, right next to me.)

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Baby girl, I cannot wait to be home tonight, snuggling you again. I’ll miss you incredibly all day long.

Love,

Mama

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