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Welcome back, old self. It only took 16 months. That’s like low term in state prison.

Welcome back, old self. It only took 16 months. That’s like low term in state prison.

It’s been over a year since I’ve blogged.

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I’ve been meaning to blog, but with the birth of my second child, I just haven’t felt up to it. Blogging was constantly on my mind, but it was hard for me to do it. Honestly, going back to writing is about as awkward, unsettling, and weird as having sex for the first time after giving birth (if you don’t know what I mean, read Erin Donovan’s “Dead Vagina Walking” to get caught up to speed). Plus, there was just so much to write about I honestly didn’t know where to start.

Since blogging about all that I had wanted to write about in the past year would take forever, so I’ve just made a timeline. Here’s a year of my life, condensed:

12/2013: I give birth to #2! After laboring at home and giving up because my beloved husband FELL ASLEEP while I was dancing to speed things up, we end up at the hospital, 6cm dilated and me yelling for an epidural because 1) holy oxytocin, back labor and 2) I was so desperate for sleep.

Eight hours later, my husband would help deliver a sunny side up, 7 pound 3 ounce baby girl. Unlike with my first baby, the moment they put Juliette into my arms, I was in love. Unlike with my first, I was not overwhelmed with the knowledge that I was now responsible, legally, morally and otherwise, for a tiny human being whose survival depended on me. Instead, I felt proud and confident. The past nine months had been terrible, both physically and emotionally, but after giving birth I felt amazing.

dancegome

Of course, no way could I ACTUALLY do this immediately after giving birth.

1/2014: On New Year’s Day, we go to Disneyland with my son and my brand new baby girl. Being in the hospital had been terribly tough on Tiny Boss, and I wanted to do something special for him. Unfortunately, this turns out to be a horrible idea and I end up with a sick, feverish infant and several sleepless nights. Those sleepless nights haven’t disappeared, by the way.

2/2014: I am pumping so I can save milk for Tinier Boss because FFS, she is going on the bottle as soon as we get her two month shots. I am NOT making the same mistake I did with her older brother (who never took a bottle and therefore I never got a break).

3/2014: I have way too much milk because she’s not on the bottle. I’m going to start donating milk. Or maybe I should sell it. I found a website that puts you in touch with parents who need milk. This person is willing to pay $2/ounce for fresh, unfrozen milk. I’m pumping 6-12 ounces a day. I am literally a cash cow! Wait, not a cow. Poor choice of words.

Later in 3/2014: I make $20 selling breast milk! After emailing the buyer, who promises to be discreet (ok?), we meet at Starbucks.

You’re K.C.?”

whaaa

Fine. Maybe he’s a dad? But a few hours after we meet up, K.C. texts me, “Your milk is delicious.”

ewBut maybe I shouldn’t judge because thanks to Google, I’ve learned that some cancer patients drink breast milk (it is full of nutrients and extremely easy to digest). Also, some bodybuilders do it too, although based solely on appearance, this guy wasn’t a bodybuilder . . . I speculate that I have sold 10 ounces of my breastmilk to an adult baby (thanks Wikipedia!).

4/2014: I am still disappointed that I can’t make money with my boobs.

sad

What happens to a dream deferred?

8/2014: We travel to Mexico with both kids by plane.

Vacationing with tiny humans is awesome!

Vacationing with tiny humans is awesome!

The kids do awesome and I am proud. On the return flight we are stuck in a holding pattern for almost two hours due to bad weather and no one under the age of three in my row has a meltdown. On the other hand, our surrounding passengers must have been coming back from a convention for assholes. I regret not being a Tom Clancy fan; otherwise I could yell out spoilers at the man sitting next to me pretending to read but he can’t due to the amount of eye rolling going on. Bless his heart, he can’t seem to stop alternating between rolling his eyes and huffing like he’s trying to get to the head of the Hometown Buffet line. dwight

Next time I board a plane with kids, I’m printing out required reading (including this and this) to pass out. How’s that for goody bags?

booobitch9/2014: My son is potty trained! I’m forever grateful for the 3 Day Potty Training method.

At first, this is awesome, but then the realization that my schedule is now ruled by his bladder (or worse) quickly sets in. I learn the importance of always knowing the location of a bathroom or a good bush wherever I go and accumulate bad juju for the number of times we have peed on the seat or elsewhere (shudder). I spend good money on a Kalencom portable potette that is used and accepted by every American toddler except for ours.

11/2014: Flu season has set in. You know what’s worse than being sick with one kid? You guessed it.

12/2014: Baby girl is one year old. I can’t believe a year went by.

And that’s what I’ve been up to since I last blogged.

IMG_9513Actually, it wasn’t that bad getting back into writing. Stay tuned for my next post, which will be about transitioning from one to two kids, and the number of new gray hairs that have coincidentally sprouted at the same time.

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It’s official: I am a crunchy mama.

 I’ve always been on the earthy, crunchy side of things, or at least I tried reasonably hard to be. I EBF’d (no pacifiers or bottles to date, a decision I semi-regret), proudly wore my baby whenever practicable, and pureed some pretty epic baby food. I probably should have cloth-diapered.

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Wearing my favorite carrier at the time, a Didytai.

But today, I made up for it. By rubbing someone else’s breast milk all over my body, in the name of cleanliness.

If this is making you want to throw up your Plum organics a bit, you’re not alone. When my friend gave me soap she had hired someone to make from her own breastmilk, I pretty much said the following (in my head):

  1. OMG
  2. hahahahaha
  3. Ew . . .

Unfortunately today I ran out of shower gel. While showering is still an almost luxury these days, I still hold onto my anti-Unilever stance when it comes to soap, due to the environmental destruction caused by unsustainable farming of palm oil – a key ingredient in soaps in brands like Dove.

My husband couldn’t care less about ecofriendly soaps, so we have our share of Dial, Tone and Dove under our sink. Thus, my choices were between ecologically destructive soaps, Axe “Thai Massage” douchebag shower gel, which I have no idea how that made its way into my bathroom, and the breast milk soap my friend gifted me.

I opted for the breast milk soap. Even though I kind of hate other people’s bodily fluids. I may have a phobia; I don’t know. I still remember being in trial once with my hep-C positive client, and realizing, in the middle of something stupid really, really important that the judge was pontificating upon, that my client’s styrofoam cup of water was perilously close to mine. What if he was drinking my water? What if he had been drinking my water this entire time we’ve been in trial?

And I like to think I’m not the only one who kind of gets grossed out by breast milk in the wrong circumstances. Most of my female friends kind of view it the same way I do – it’s good for the baby, and the baby only. When she told us about how her dad, not trusting her assertion that freshly pumped breast milk can be left unrefrigerated for several hours, tasted the milk before giving it to her daughter, we all shrieked, “Ewww!”

But today, faced with the dilemma of killing some rainforests, smelling like a douchebag, or rubbing Kendra’s breast milk into my asscrack, I opted for the third option.

breastmilk soap1

It’s (unsurprisingly) creamy.

The scent was fantastic. By that, I mean it smelled like fragrant flowers, and not like breast milk or dairy or bodily fluids. A closer examination of the ingredients list was a nice surprise – it contained a nice blend of hydrating herbs and oils. I started feeling guilty for being unappreciative of Kendra’s gift. She probably had a limited supply and was generous enough to give it to me.

Consider me a convert. I’ll probably still head to Sprouts tomorrow and pick up some Kiss My Face, but I’ll keep using Kendra’s soap. It smells great and so far, no ill effects detected.

So if any of you are in Southern California, and you are not squeamish about these things, go ahead and give it a try. But consider keeping the resulting stash to yourself. You can always give a gift card, or even fruit cake.

Yes, I know there is palm oil in here. I know that now. I'll just say that at least it was locally crafted and maybe, just maybe, the palm oil was sustainably sourced.

Yes, I know there is palm oil in here. I know that now. I’ll just say that at least it was locally crafted and maybe, just maybe, the palm oil was sustainably sourced. So this was not all for nothing.

Silver Linings, and Lessons From Poison Control

God bless the California Poison Control center, or in my case, the California Center for Reassuring Nervous Moms.

It’s been a rough week. What was supposed to be a restful week off from court (more on that later) turned into caring for a sick toddler, and then myself, after I found out I had thrush from breastfeeding.

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A week off? Silly me.

Tiny Boss came down with a fever a couple days ago. No other symptoms, so all I could do was bring the fever down, keep him comfortable and snuggle with him as much as he wanted.

Unfortunately, as luck would have it, I contracted thrush, which means that not only does breastfeeding feel akin to sticking your nipples into a lamprey’s mouth (other mothers describe it as shards of glass in the breast), but Tiny Boss was also unable to comfortably breastfeed. So he’s been miserable. I’m telling myself there’s a silver lining. Perhaps he’ll finally wean?

Insert nipple here to find out what it feels like to breastfeed with thrush. Source: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/marquette/

Not breastfeeding friendly.
Source: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/marquette/

Last night, on day two of fever with no other symptoms other than some ear pulling, I decided to give Tiny Boss some of his leftover ear drops from his last ear infection. A couple hours later – coincidence or not – his fever was gone and he was back to his usual way of wearing me out – running around, grabbing stuff, spilling stuff, throwing stuff and just in general doing all sorts of stuff he’s not supposed to do.

Based on last night’s success, I elicit my husband’s help this morning in giving Tiny Boss another round of ear drops. Four drops, left ear only, easy enough, right?

WRONG.

In my defense, it was early, it was dark, and my contacts were sticking to my eyelids.

“IT’S SPILLING OUT OF HIS EARS!” My husband started yelling.

Apparently the drops were coming out of the dispenser but I just couldn’t see them, so I had been steadily squeezing a stream of antibiotics into his ear. How many drops did I give him?

“Like, maybe 10?”

“He’ll be fine,” I said, sounding much more confident than I felt.

That confidence quickly wore off, however, because Tiny Boss began to cry. Loudly. With tears and everything. What could be wrong? Did his ear hurt from the sudden, unexpected flood of liquid? Did some of it trickle down to his throat? DID I JUST POISON MY BABY?

The offending drops

The offending drops

I had no idea, so I did what every health practitioner hates (I only assume this because I hate it when my clients do their own legal research) – I turned to Google.

Unfortunately, “put too many ear drops” only turned up with two relevant hits.

The first one was from Yaboo! answers by some poor sap who used too many ear drops in one ear and now couldn’t hear. The second was a fact sheet from the New Zealand government for Cilodex, which sounds close enough to our prescribed brand of ear drops, Ciprodex.

For Cilodex, you’re supposed to rinse the ear(s) with warm water immediately and call a pharmacist or doctor “if you use too much (overdose).”

Wait, so you can overdose on ear drops? As far as the ear rinsing, I wasn’t even going to go there. It was too early to call the pharmacy, and I didn’t want to hear any lectures about not finishing the ear drops last time or using the drops this time without being prescribed.

The poison control center would be my best bet. 24 hours a day, staffed by MDs, RNs and pharmacists.

“My name is Steve. What can I help you with?”

“Um, I accidentally gave my son too many ear drops.”

“Sure. What’s your son’s name?”

“Raynor.”

“Full name please.”

And then he wanted my full name, and by this time I was pretty sure it was to call CPS or the cops if necessary, or at least to add me to the state roster of bad moms.

“How many drops is he supposed to have?”

“Four.”

“And how many did you give him?”

“Uh, maybe 10?”

“Oh boy.” Seriously. The man said that. But then he said these magical, beautiful words, words that were rang sweeter than Susan Boyle’s voice and brought more relief than Rolaids.

“He’ll be fine.”

Apparently you can’t really overdose on antibiotics, and since he didn’t ingest them, he probably won’t even get the stomachache, vomiting and diarrhea that is usually associated with taking too much of an antibiotic. Tiny Boss had used these ear drops many times before, so an allergic reaction wouldn’t be a concern, either.

Silver lining: I learned about antibiotics overdose and after today you’ll never find a more precise ear drop administrator this side of the Mississippi.

After that, everything indeed was fine, that is, until Tiny Boss managed to simultaneously spill a smoothie and tea on the coffee table and the dog ate my fried rice.

Silver lining? My coffee table hasn’t been looked this clean in months. Fried rice is unhealthy, anyways.

Shortly thereafter, I realized I did not have the day off and I did, in fact, have to go to court today.

To quote Liz Lemon: blerg.

Silver lining, anyone?

Must. Strengthen. Resolve.

To go to the spa.

No, really.

I know it doesn’t make sense. But it’s 6am, I’ve been up half the night with a teething and determined-to-nurse toddler, and with my husband’s Saturday class over, today is my chance for my first real day off since Tiny Boss was born.

How can this be, you non-parents (and parents maybe?) might ask? Well, Tiny Boss never used a bottle. Worried about weight gain and his cleft lip and palate at birth, when we found out he had almost doubled his weight within the month, we followed our pediatrician’s advice of “keep doing what you’re doing.”

I, of course, went to the extreme on this. So he never took a bottle.

But I digress. There’s no real reason why I haven’t taken a day off, now that he doesn’t necessarily need to nurse during the day and I’ve left him before with my in-laws for a solid six hours (gasp, I know). I just haven’t because honestly, I haven’t put myself first. Until recently.

When my husband asked me what I wanted for Mother’s Day, I told him I wanted alone time. Me time. Specifically, there’s no “us,” “you” or “baby” in the words “me time.” One of my favorite mommy bloggers, Toulouse and Tonic, talks about this in her groundbreaking, earth-shattering post (to daddies, baby daddies, and the like), What She Really Wants for Mother’s Day:

What she wants most on Mother’s Day is a break from being a mother.

Your wife may not feel comfortable telling you this, so I will.

Let’s use my husband as an illustration.

I woke up the Thursday before Valentine’s Day to a note that said, “Happy Valentine’s Day. Your to-do list for today: pack bags for the kids because I’m taking them to my parents for the weekend!”

It’s important to remember, dads, that YOU must go too. I’m sure you’re thinking, “WHAT? She just wants a break from the kids, not me. She wants to spend some private time with me!”

No. No, she doesn’t.

Damn straight. I’ll take “what do moms really want” for $500, please, Alex. And I’m going to take it one step further.

For my Mother’s Day gift, my alone time was also conditioned on the fact that Tiny Boss’s other subservient peon, aka his dad, spend that entire time taking care of Tiny Boss. This means no rushing over to the grandparents and dropping Tiny Boss off with a “whew, that was close!”

Why? Because I need to know that Dad, who works long hours outside the home (and often inside the home) gets a little taste of hell glimpse into the day of a WAHM. I’m not doing it because I want Tiny Boss to slowly wear my husband down into submission, or to make Tiny Boss cry unnecessarily, because he does that already. Because for Mother’s Day, what better present to get than some true understanding from your parenting partner of what you go through on a daily basis? Yes, I just want to be understood.

Ok, so maybe I DO want him to squirm a little. Just a little.

Ok, so maybe I DO want him to squirm a little. Just a little.

So where am I headed to? I’m thinking a Korean spa. Why? Because as much as I would love a day at the beautiful, tranquil Glen Ivy hot springs where you can sling mud on yourself and walk around a grotto, some geothermal springs and 40 pools, or something like that, I’m not about to pay $52 to get in and risk being paged back home. Plus, Wi Spa offers:

  • Free wifi. I don’t care if I should be disconnecting so I can truly relax, or whatever it is you hippies and yogis insist on. This is my chance to use an iOS device without the immediate interference of little hands. I’ve got blogs to read, Yelp reviews to write, and there’s always Facebook.
  • A Korean restaurant inside the spa. Shall I order the spiciest food in the hottest plate possible, now that I don’t have to worry about it spilling all over anyone but myself?
  • Napping stations. Yes, f’real.

Plus, the spa requires no clothes be worn in the bath and sauna areas (which are segregated by gender), and I’m looking forward to having seeing some boobs that sag even more than mine (lots of elderly men and women frequent these spas).

Ok, I’ve pretty much convinced myself and its now 7am. May I stay strong and take this day off. May my ear not be bent by promises of another day off in the near future, or pleas to stay home just today, or simply by the ease of habit. May my resolve be strong, may I ignore the first couple of calls from home, may I be a little bit selfish today. Godspeed.

How Did We End Up Like This?

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1 out of 2 people say this is a great sleeping arrangement.

Let me break it down for you. We once had a reasonably nice bed. Sure, it was from Ikea, but it was a nice black-brown (the actual color name by Ikea) and didn’t squeak, creak, or fall apart (I know my standards for beds might be low).

Then we had a baby.

Then the baby turned into a toddler.

Now the mattress is on the ground. There’s just no other way we can keep him from plummeting to the floor while sleep-crawling.

All pillows are removed from the bed in case he rolls his face into one and suffocates in his sleep. Boppys are allowed, but unfortunately for Dad, he didn’t get his head on top of one before Tiny Boss decided to use his chest as partial lumbar support.

No/minimal blankets for the same reason. Tonight Tiny Boss obviously wants us to play a game of remove-the-stacked-pile-of-blankets-from-beneath-the-world’s-lightest-sleeper.

We have a full size mattress. Although it looks roomy in this picture, it is not. Note that Dad, who is by no means fat, but is also not quite svelte, has been smushed to the very far edge of the bed. Good thing Dad won’t have far to fall!

We have a pack and play mattress extending the top of the mattress by a generous 25.5 inches. Can you say luxury?

It’s 3am and I’m up again, a decision I’ll probably somewhat regret tomorrow. Tiny Boss is over a year old, still breastfeeding, and wakes me up at night. I actually don’t mind  because it gives me a chance to write, and I love writing (I say this now – ask me again tomorrow in the afternoon when I’m dying to get a second cup of coffee).

Too bad when I get the writing bug, all too often I’m drawing a blank. Like I want to write, but I don’t know what to write about. Kind of like those people you know who just talk for the sake of talking.

shutup

But then I found this.

No seriously, I found this. Well, my friend sent it to me. It’s seven writing tips from Hemingway.

Most of these tips are applicable to all writers, not just those writing fiction, as well as other creatives – concept artists, copywriters, designers of all varieties.

So I’ll take the first prompt: “To get started, write one true sentence.”

I have no idea what I’m doing with my life.

This quote kind of sums it up for me – “If you want to make God laugh, tell him all your plans.”

Things were so much more black and white, cut and dry, when I was in college. I could literally list the things I was into, and do them. Environmentalist? Don’t eat meat. Believe in fair labor? Get arrested with 53 other students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in an “anti-sweatshop protest” (the mission was a bit more specific than this, but that’s another post, another time.)

Ironically, the first police report I ever read was my own.

Ironically, the first police report I ever read was my own.

I went straight into law school after college. I don’t know what exactly I was thinking, but it was something like, “if I go to law school, I’ll have the power to start really changing things up.”

It wasn’t a very well thought out plan though. Skip ahead 10 years later, after three years of law school, the bar exam, and changing jobs every two years.

That’s when Tiny Boss came, and life hasn’t been the same since. In some ways, nothing else matters. But now he’s a toddler, and time is speeding up, and I’m feeling that pressure to do something with my life. And I don’t want to be a lawyer anymore.

Being a lawyer (mostly) sucks.

I’m not alone here. Lawyers aren’t the happiest bunch when it comes to job satisfaction, according to the American Bar Association, and me, and Forbes magazine, which lists “associate attorney” as the number one most unhappiest job. There’s even a book, The Happy Lawyer: Making a Good Life in the Law, that explores why so many attorneys are unhappy.

Maybe it’s because, according to the American Bar Association, “only 16 percent of lawyers found that their jobs afforded them the ability to contribute to the public good as much as they expected when they entered the profession.” Maybe.

The book also purports to offer “more fulfilling paths to careers in the law.” Ha! We’ll see.

According to the American Bar Association, lawyers also have more pessimistic personalities than the general population

According to the American Bar Association, lawyers also have more pessimistic personalities than the general population

Mommyvision

I often say that I see the world through the lens of a mother – in a sense, every child is my child. When I see a skinny baby in the bathroom of a courthouse, I wonder if she’s sick or diagnosed with failure to thrive. When I struggle with the NPO guidelines that dictate fasting before surgery – not an easy task to refuse to feed your infant or toddler – my heart aches in a way it never did before when I think of the millions of mothers who watch their children slowly die of starvation and malnutrition.

Yes, every child is my child.

I watched a little girl crossing the street the other day with her mother. When she finished crossing, she ran back to the stoplight so she could press the walk buttons. Going both directions. I laughed, because as a mother, I appreciate the little things that make a kid happy.

A couple years ago, a good friend of mine told me once that she didn’t want to have kids because she didn’t want them to grow up in this world. At that time, I was puzzled, because I couldn’t grasp the thought of not having kids simply due to the state of affairs of the world. But I understand her now, because I worry a lot more about pollution, cancer, sustainability, abuse, and just humanity in general. Yet at the same time, I still believe my child will make this world better.

And me, now that I’m a mom, I know I should make this world better too. But how do I do it? Some days I barely have enough energy to get through the day. Not to mention the whole lawyer thing.

This is probably my longest post yet, and part of it is because I’ve been up for over three hours and I’m finally starting to feel it. So I leave you with this:

“As parents, it’s not our job to toughen up our children to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.” – L.R. Knost, author of Two Thousand Kisses a Day

The Most Interesting Man in the World + Breastfeeding

After Raynor’s cleft palate surgery, he went from a happy nurser to a nursing striker. Hence, I am back to pumping. At 12 months, I am nowhere expressing 8 ounces at a time, especially not from the one boob that is still “active,” but I didn’t think saying “2 ounces from one breast” was quite as catchy.
The sudden nursing strike (or maybe accidental weaning) was very emotionally painful for me at first. Whatever hormones that were in place were now suddenly gone, or were fluctuating wildly. I was as teary as I was when I first gave birth, and I felt a deep, profound sense of loss.

I was surprised to find out what I was feeling was common among women who are forced to wean before they or their babies are ready. Apparently depression and weaning all too often go hand-in-hand and are documented, with even the Huffington Post running an article, but unfortunately there isn’t much research on it. What studies that do exist show are that what I was feeling was real, and it can be bad.

The article states that one reason mothers who wean suddenly might become depressed is due to the “actual physiological changes taking place in the body. Breastfeeding stimulates the production of hormones such as oxytocin, known colloquially as ‘the love hormone.’ Mothers’ moods may plummet in its absence.”

Dr. Alison Stuebean , an OBGYN and assistant professor of maternal and child health at the University of North Carolina, told the Huffington Post, “Research on pregnancy has been focused on the effects of pregnancy on the baby. The mom kind of disappears from the radar.”

Yup and yup. How many times do we say “how’s the baby” compared to “how’s the new mom?”

Anyways, I ended up talking to a couple of lactation consultants recommended by my local La Leche League. I didn’t know if my son was accidentally weaned, or if the post-surgery traumatic feeding experience (more on that in another post) caused a nursing strike. Either way, I’m now pumping to give him breast milk in a sippy (which he doesn’t really like) and to keep my supply up.

I’m open to continuing the nursing relationship if my baby wants to. We’ve gone one step forward, two steps back. The first few nights were tough – since infancy he had always been allowed to nurse at night, which he took full advantage of, up until his surgery. Now, without nursing to sleep as a tool and comfort source, I was exhausted.

Walking him back and forth for naps, rocking every hour on the hour when the rest of the house was in a deep sleep – I was dying. I hadn’t felt this tired since he was a newborn. But he’s since stopped the nightwaking, I’m starting to get more sleep (which is how I’m able to blog semi-coherently) and I have to be honest, the newfound freedom is nice. We use sippy cups or regular cups for everything. I don’t have to rush home to breast feed (we had never used bottles before). But I still miss nursing sometimes.

So whatever happens – I’ll be okay with it. Parenthood is all about doing your best, rolling with the punches, and getting your laughs where you can. So The Most Interesting Man in the World Pumping Milk is funny, right? Right?

Maybe I still need more sleep.