10 February 2016

Updated Pumping Thoughts

My pumping situation has improved. As I had hoped, once my body got used to being milked by a machine instead of a baby, it more or less got with the program. I no longer have to actively induce sadness.

I've developed a whole little routine. About 15 minutes before I disappear to pump, I go to the bathroom, and refill my water. I take my water with me to the designated room, and after I get myself all hooked up to my equipment, I take a long drink of water and take a nice relaxing breath.
I look at videos of Everett while I start up my dairy machinery, and then after initial letdown, I read or play on my phone for the remainder of the session.

The pumping room at my work is very pleasant. It has a minifridge for milk storage, and a table, and a comfortable chair. A vision board (?) area where you can post pictures of your baby. An assortment of parenting books, and a space heater. Access is set up in such a way that no one could possibly walk in on you.

Today I went to work in a dress that I can nurse a baby in (one boob), but as it turns out I have to take completely off to pump (two boobs). Pumping breastmilk in a conference room wearing only your underwear is....well it's terrible, if you were wondering.
Terrible, and even with a space heater it is rather cold.
And it got me thinking about work pumping conditions. I work in corporate America, where we can have a designated, locking space.
What if I had Swistle's job of in-home care? Would I have to *shudder* pump at the client HOUSES?
What if I was a waitress?
What if our designated pumping area did NOT have a good locking system, and maybe all I could do is put up a Do Not Disturb sign and hope no one barged in on me??
My, it's a wonder anyone does this at all.

You know what would be great?
If your baby was cared for at your work, and instead of stopping to pump 2-3 times a day, you could stop in for a snuggle and a nurse with your baby! I would be so much more productive, and relaxed.
Hey look at that, I just invented onsite daycare.

03 February 2016

A few things I love (almost entirely infant-related)

This nursing bra. My friend Molly recommended it. Listen. It's better than any of my other bras. It's comfortable. It's well worth the $50 pricetag. I FEEL VERY PASSIONATELY ABOUT THIS BRA, AND IF YOU ARE OR PLAN TO BE A NURSING MOTHER, I THINK YOU SHOULD BUY ONE.
I have one, but it's the only bra I ever want to wear, so I need to buy another.

These 4-oz jars. Excellent baby food containment devices. Also useful for other things. I like the way they stack.

This Formula! (Baby's Only Organic, if you don't feel like clicking through). Everett is like...95% breastfed. He gets an occasional bottle, maybe one a week. I mention this not because I'm holier than thou, but because the reviews for this formula indicate that your baby may have trouble with constipation, which is not a problem for us, but I dunno, maybe it WOULD be a problem if he was on formula exclusively? I read some involved review about how it was because this formula has a whey/casein makeup that is different from breastmilk and blah, blah, blah.
Anyhow, this formula. It's $8.50 for a 12.7oz can. And I like the ingredient list better than ANY other formula I could find.
And, while I realize that water is a chemical, I prefer simpler ingredients, organic products, whole foods (the concept not the grocery store), et cetera.
Everett tolerates this well and I am not offended by the ingredient list and it is not prohibitively expensive.

These diapers (but not exclusively these diapers). Okay, these diapers (Bambo Nature) are, in my opinion, prohibitively expensive for your primary diapers ($0.46 per diaper!). HOWEVER, these are the BEST, MOST ABSORBENT, LEAST LEAKY diapers I have found, much MUCH better than other premium brands. We use cloth diapers during the day, but at night I prefer disposable, and I prefer disposables that are the least likely to leak or fill up in the night, so that we can make it all the way through without diaper changes. THESE ARE THAT DIAPER. I think if I was using plastic diapers only, I would still only have these on hand for nights, and would find something more affordable for use during the day, when you're changing your baby every couple hours anyway, and don't need some holy grail of leakproof absorbency. But if you DO. If you do, get these.

These bottles! I don't like plastic bottles mostly for aesthetic reasons. I don't like the way they get discolored with time, and how the markings fade, and the way they feel. All quite ridiculous, I realize. I like the 4oz version because it keeps Everett from getting overfed at daycare. I use the newborn flow nipples.

Diaper cover. I like this one best. I prefer hook/loop closures for smaller babies (although maybe I'll switch to snaps if Everett starts undressing himself. I like the fit. This is my favorite cover.

And finally, this book light. This is the only thing on this list that doesn't have to do with babies. I got it for Gabriel so he can read in the car without bugging me (we have a 2 hour evening drive home from his dad's every other Sunday). It's rechargeable, and you can position it so it lights up both pages, so you don't have to constantly fuss with it, and it is very bright without being annoying to the non-reading person.

27 January 2016

Gabriel's activities, sitting

Gabriel has been designing a board game for the past several nights.
Honestly, I have no interest in this game. The pieces move in confusing ways, and there are all these sheets of paper you have to reference in order to play.
But I do enjoy being the mother of a child who wants to create his own things.
I also enjoy a child who is quietly occupied in the evening hours.
"Isn't this so cool mom? I think it's going to be really fun, because I think it's a really good idea."
Yesterday was Gabriel's tenth birthday.
He had a roller skating birthday party, after school.
He had wanted a party at the indoor climbing gym, but I dropped the ball and didn't call in time and they were all booked up, so I sold him on roller skating instead.
It was a success, and I'm here to report that a gaggle of nine and ten-year-old boys are not too old to enjoy an afternoon of rollerskating.

Gabriel has started up with jiu jitsu. I am....not remotely interested in this activity. It's a thing that he and Quentin are really into. I think it's very expensive, but I'm supportive of kids activity involvement.

Gabriel also takes a weekly sewing class, and is a cub scout.

He would like to ADDITIONALLY do competitive swimming, but that would be entirely too many activities. I told him it was jiu jitsu OR swimming, not both. For now he is focusing on jiu jitsu. We may switch over to swimming in the spring.
I am relieved to be free of little league.
Everett is a bonafied sitter now!
I know that Gabriel came to sitting quite early, but.....I feel like that was around now? Four months?
That's early right?
Or was it not early when Gabriel did it either?
Gabriel was not an early crawler or walker, which was just fine with me. I don't think Everett will be either.
Sitting is nice though. It really expands their activity options.

25 January 2016

Daycare, breadwinners, casual racism

When I got pregnant, it was with the intention that I would go back to full time corporate office work after my maternity leave ended, and Quentin (who is self employed) would still do his work (catering/cooking classes/neighborhood butcher/other food related gigs) but LESS of it, and he would mostly be home with the baby, who we would put in daycare only part time, to cover the days that Quentin needed to cover for catering.

Following The Quentin Health Crisis of 2015, he is not working at all, not until after his second surgery at the end of March and subsequent recovery. This is the best (and only) thing for it, although there are reasons it gives him heartburn:
-As a self employed person, this time when he is not out there selling himself and building up clients and rapport makes him feel like when he starts it up again this spring, it will be like starting a business from the bottom again, with the slow build of gigs and recommendations and people who like him and want to pay him to feed their friends.
-He frets about his current lack of financial contribution to our household.
I am not especially bothered by either one of these things. The first I know to be true but there's nothing for it. He can't work right now, therefore he's not working right now. The second is just a total nonstarter. Again, he CANNOT work. There is no sense in fretting about the money he's not making while he's not working. While we were financially strapped and could have used that second line of income while I was on maternity leave, now that I'm back at work my salary more than covers our monthly expenses (covers them, plus will allow us to pay off the credit and medical debt we had to (unexpectedly) rack up this fall).
Well, whatever, that's where we are financially right now: not terrible/doing okay.

Although Quentin is not working, we decided to put Everett in daycare 2 days per week anyway, because:
- that gives Quentin a couple days a week to Get Shit Done Without A Baby
- lets Everett get used to his daycare as a younger baby who adjusts to such things more easily
The other three days per week the baby is with Quentin.
This whole set up is just a joy for everyone involved, I think.
Everett loves his daycare lady. He's happy to see her in the morning, he's happy to see me when I pick him up in the afternoon.
Everett also loves spending the day with his dad.
I (obviously) LOVE Everett, and Gabriel, and Quentin, but I enjoy them a lot more as a working lady.
Being home with the children makes me feel like a madwoman trapped in a tower.
I'm not sure if I'm supposed to admit this or not, but I like going to work every day.
I perhaps would not like it quite so well if Quentin and I both had very demanding office jobs, but because he is more at home (and more flexible in his job once he is back to it), and I don't have to add in all the home stuff to my work life, I dunno, I just really think this is the best.
And Quentin loves being home with the baby. He says there's no better person to spend your day with. They just delight each other. This thing, where I'm the primary breadwinner and he's the primary kid wrangler, is the way for us. We both get to do the thing we are best at and enjoy the most and it makes us both like it all a whole lot more.

Now, having said all that, there is this EXTRA (both extra as in very and extra as in additionally) weird piece, which should not matter, yet it does matter.
Quentin and I are not occupying our stereotyped gender roles, which creates an implicit manliness judgment of my husband from the vast unwashed.
This judgment has an extra layer of ickiness because my husband is a black man and there is a stereotype humming away in there about deadbeats who don't support their families.
And speaking of bullshit racial stereotypes, do you know that Quentin gets hassled when he is out with the baby?
That he has had his car blocked in at the grocery store while a woman photographed him and called the police?
That he carries a copy of Everett's birth certificate with him when he leaves the house, because this is a thing?
That there is a non-zero number of people in our community who think it is more likely that a black man running errands with a more lightly complected baby kidnapped said baby than that a black man has a baby lawfully under his care?
To the credit of our community's police force, they have not found reason to come to the scene of the alleged babynappings, probably because it's not illegal to be out with a baby, and no babies have been reported as napped.

Area Man Cares For Infant

I do not need to tell you that this is bullshit.
And that it makes me very angry.

It also makes me very sad.

22 January 2016

The all consuming joy of baby lip

My baby's lip! Can you even? I cannot even.
My whole life right now seems to be squishy little babies, which, whatever. I'm not sorry.
Babyhood is such a brief phase in all of our lives, and also such an all-consuming one.
And here I am, consumed by babyhood!
Particularly, I find myself consumed by the design and execution of this baby lip.

Is anyone else struck by how fair skinned my children are? I mean....that's unexpected, right?

21 January 2016

A post about feeding babies

Pumping at work is still (ha, "still"! Since yesterday!) a total slog. Not that I was expecting an overnight improvement. I do think it's getting slightly better each day, as my body gets used to producing milk when my baby is not around. Like, pumping today was better than pumping ten days ago. For sure.
However! Feeling sad and anxious 3X/daily for the sake of milk production is not super sustainable, so I'm eager to push past that. My hope is that I will simply grow out of this phase, and I think I MIGHT.
I'm giving myself 6 weeks to see an improvement, and then I'm going to pump without self imposed sadness, and produce what I produce. 6 weeks from when I started work that is, which was almost two weeks ago.
I just counted it up on my calendar and Everett will be 18 weeks old on Sunday. I'm already counting down to when I can be done with this pumping business.
34 more weeks!

When Gabriel was a baby, the recommendation was to introduce solids at 4 months; now it's a recommendation of 6 months. An interesting thing about having kids almost 10 years apart is that you can really SEE how parenting experts have changed their tunes. And yet, whatever the recommendation is RIGHT NOW, that's the one that is DEFINITELY RIGHT AND WE WILL NEVER CHANGE OUR MINDS.
There are some things like car seat safety and such where obviously we just have better technology and better laws now, but there are other things, like cosleeping for instance, where it's such a moving target, I think it's silly how FIRM 'they' are in their current position, even though that position will likely change if you give it a year or five.
But anyway, now the recommendation is six months (at the youngest) and there's quite a body of research backing up that age.
I have been sorely tempted to start Everett on solids at five months, to take some of the pressure off of this whole pumping situation, but realistically I'm too intimidated by all that research to really go against it.
Well that probably won't happen but there's this research that says it MIGHT and I just cannot be the one who dances with the devil on that stuff.
Everett already shows signs of developmental readiness (pincer grasp, can sit on his own, good hand-eye coordination, interest in food), so I am pretty confident that he'll be ready at six months.
 Can I maintain my PUMPING SADNESS for the extra five weeks past my self imposed deadline to get him to where we can start supplementing with solids? Well if you break it up into chunks like that, I think I can.
Six weeks to see if it gets better (and we are already through two of them), and then five more weeks after that if it HASN'T.
This I can manage.
And now I'm going to jot down the stuff that Everett does at four months, which is really just a record for myself, because the poor neglected second child does not have a baby book:
- Sits on his own (for a few minutes at a time before he wobbles over)
- Rolls easily from front to back
- Rolls from back to front only if he's naked
- Sucks his thumb
- Reaches for (and successfully grasps) toys
- Coos, yells and giggles (has /k/ and /g/ consonants)
- Pats me while he's nursing
- Plays with his feet

20 January 2016

Things (I Hope!) To Do While Pumping

My current at work pumping schedule is 3X day, for a 1/2 hour each time. The actual pumping portion is more like 15-20 minutes. 
Right now, in week 2, day 3 of Jenny is a Working Lady Again, I can't really do ANYTHING while I pump, because I don't have effective pumping sessions unless I am actively looking at pictures and videos of Everett, making myself feel sad maternal feelings about not being with him.
This sucks!
Three times a day, I have to make myself intentionally sad about being away from my baby!
This does not ease the transition of being away from my baby!
At all!
Each night I take videos of Everett nursing to watch the next day, to induce maternal longing, to produce breastmilk.
I'm hoping this is temporary, and eventually my body will get with the milking on demand situation, and I can do things during these 1/2 hour periods besides feel sad and a little bit anxious.

I would LIKE to do the things that I do while I'm nursing Everett, which include:
Listening to podcasts
Catching up on email
Playing games on my iPhone

I would surely appreciate your recommendations for favorite books, podcasts, and iPhone games, because I hope to someday (soon!) be able to do that.
Nothing that will make me too anxious or distressed (no Serial).