Mommy porn at the office

Thought that might catch your attention! So, when it comes to pumping, I forgot another important tip, make sure to bring what my husband likes to call “mommy porn”. When your breast starts to release milk, it’s called “letdown”. It occurs, after the baby has sucked on the breast, essentially priming it. The milk than releases and starts to come out on it’s own, the baby is not sucking the milk at this point, he is actually just gulping it. Well, in the case of pumping, you sometimes need to trick your boobs a little or they will refuse to let down. One of the best ways to get your happy milk hormones going is to look at pictures of your baby and think about how awesome your baby is. Videos work really well for me 🙂

adorable photos will help with letdown

What doesn’t work well? A stressful environment. I’m lucky enough to have a pretty swanky “mothering room” at my office. The downside is that three of us have to use the mothering room and apparently, my boobs are really malu (shy!)

I always pump by myself in there but the other two ladies don’t mind sharing. So yesterday, I was filling my bottles just fine, when H.P. knocked on the door and I decided to let her in. Well, the next thing I know, my ladies just completely stop working. The more H.P. talks to me, the less milk I produce. In a panic, I started flipping through my mommy porn on my iphone, but to no avail. The dairy was on strike. So, I packed up my bottles and pump and hightailed it out there, leaving her hand-expressing into some freezer bags…

I say, it’s ok to be shy. Whatever happens, it’s important to be kind to yourself as a mom. Everybody is different and some things will be harder for you than others. No matter what anyone says, just remember, you’re exactly the right kind of mom for your kid. At least, that’s what I tell myself as I try to negotiate through this strange, challenging and wonderful new world.

Roly poly baby

Note to self: Bailey is 5 months and one week old. A few weeks ago, he did his first rolls from stomach to back. They were infrequent but completely on his own. Just five days ago, he did his first roll from back to stomach (the harder way – for him at least). Jump to three days ago — every time you put him down on his back, he rolls over to his stomach and starts exploring. He ONLY wants to be on his stomach now. He can turn himself in circles whether he’s on his back or stomach and he can inch his way forward about two feet as well. He’s not super mobile yet, but just the changes in one week are making me realize we need to get on that babyproofing business asap!
Bailey also picks up a ton of new ideas by watching other babies. His first day of daycare was Tuesday (2 days ago). And the next morning, he was on his back grabbing his feet for the first time. He definitely picked that up from the other kids. If he picks up one new skill a day at daycare, he should be walking by the end of September. Gulp! Hopefully, he won’t learn that fast!

Bailey playing on his floor bed

And speaking of daycare, he did great his first day. Within minutes of getting there, he was rolling on to his belly to explore new toys and when I picked him up 6 hours later, he was on his belly exploring new toys. He barely got any sleep, but for being an overtired, overstimulated baby, he sure looked excited and smiley.

Oversupply, Undersupply, the fine balance of breastfeeding

Breastfeeding and pumping have probably been some of the most challenging aspects of being a FTM (first time mom). I was lucky that Bailey latched on right away and to this date seems to know exactly what he is doing, I, on the other hand, not so much.

In the first few weeks, nursing was actually pretty uncomfortable for me. Not every time, but often enough that at least once every other day, usually in the wee hours of the morning, my inner voice would whimper “I don’t wanna do this.” But I stuck with it and learned some tricks along the way that may or may not work for you. Here are the highlights or lows depending on how you look at things…

Ouchie boobies!

If you feel like you have blocked duct or like you’re on the edge of mastistis, I highly recommend a hot Epsom salt soak for your breast. The easiest (though perhaps not most dignified) way is to fill a tall mixing bowl with hot water and Epsom salts and then lean over your bathroom counter and dunk your lady in the bowl. Hang out for a few minutes and then switch sides if needed. I would do this before and after each nursing session and always felt pretty instant relief. You can also warm something up and drape it over your chest before your nurse to soften up your milk ducts. You may be wondering, how do I know if I have a blocked duct? Well, for me, it was sore when B was nursing – the pain would sort of radiate into my breast a couple of inches and would get worse, the longer he was on me. And then it would hurt for awhile after nursing.

Oversuppy:

This is probably more of a blessing than undersupply. However, oversupply can completely overwhelm baby and a baby like Bailey compensates by learning to pinch down on your breast to stop the flow. Ouch! But then he’s not choking on milk so good for him.

Different positions: It helps to play around with different positions. What worked for me was a more laid back seated position with him draped across my lap, bum down almost like he was sitting with him diagonally across my body. Not sure if that was a clear visual. Imagine cradle hold, but then drop the baby’s bum down and maybe rotate them in more so you’re tummy to tummy. Having the baby more upright and my body more laid back helped slow down the milk flow.

Block Nursing: If you tend to have oversupply on one side (me!), then you can try block nursing to balance things out. To Block Nurse, you do two feedings in a row on one side – this will tell the side you are using to produce more and tell the side you didn’t use, to produce less. The oversupply side that you don’t use will probably feel engorged – the key is to not express milk on that side even though you will really want to. You can hand express a little bit for relief. And in fact, you may need to hand express before the next time you nurse on that side just so baby can get on you.

Undersupply:

I had tons of supply when I started out, but as time goes on (especially now that I’m back to work), my supply has settled down and now I’m in constant fear of undersupply. Here are some tips about maintaining your supply or building your supply.

Food & Beverage Helps!

Hydrating and eating regularly is king for maintaining supply. Hello! You’re feeding another human being, now is not the time to go on diet! Also, there are specific things that may help build supply. They may also be things you want to avoid if you have oversupply.

  • Gatorade – does wonders for me! I drink it every day multiple times a day
  • Oatmeal
  • Fenugreek
  • Nursing tea ( I like the one from Rebecca’s Apothecary better than the ones in the grocery store)

Pumping and bottles:

If your little one is not eating directly from you for a portion of the day, it’s important to pump the same number of times that your little one is eating. Example, baby gets 2 bottles from someone else? You pump twice. There are different sorts of “rules” like pump an hour or more before the next time you feed your baby. Wait an hour after you feed your baby. Or pump right after you nurse to empty out your breasts. Or, early mornings and middle of the night reap more milk. Some of it will apply to you and some of it won’t. What does seem universal is that when you first start pumping, you may not get much, but the more regularly you pump, the more you will have come out of you. And, if you try to pump at consistent times each day, your body will produce milk accordingly.

There are tons of great online resources for nursing tips and nursing woes. I got a ton of information from Kellymom.com

I could go on and on about this subject, but I think that’s enough for now!

Planes, taxis, rental cars, oh my! (part 2)

On the way to the rental car place, our taxi narrowly avoided a turtle trying to cross the road. It was actually a 5 lane highway and he was just starting to cross the road. As we swerved around him, I saw him tuck his head into his shell and I thought, turtle vs highway, does not look good for turtle. I hope that he made it or at least decided to turn around. Did I mention that we were in Detroit. Who knew turtles like to hang out in Detroit?

Once we were settled into our rented Chevy Impala, we began the slow trek through rush hour traffic to Lansing, MI. A few hours later, after one snack stop (oreos, fritos and gatorade – we’re really healthy on the road!) and one nursing stop, we arrived at the YMCA for a lovely dinner with close friends and family of the bride and groom. There was a little bit of pass-the-baby, but B was tired and wanted mama. It was maybe the third time that he has shown a bit of stranger fear in big group situations.

A little part of me secretly loves when he starts to wail and then throws his arms out towards me. I gather him up and tell him he’s fine and he ducks his face into my shoulder (and he immediately stops crying). Intellectually, I know that he knows I’m his mom, but the emotional side of me feels oddly validated when he so obviously chooses me over everyone else. I guess that might be where the concept of “mama’s boy” begins.

Don’t worry. I don’t hog him too much. I make sure to calm him down and then tell him that “fill-in-the-blank” is going to hold him again and that he is doing great…

B asleep as the wedding band begins to play

Both nights of our trip, we made sure to get B to bed around the usual time and we totally lucked out with pretty average nights that included 2 night feedings. Despite being overtired, the whole weekend, B. had plenty of smiles to share with everyone. We tried to give him some space for his 2-3 daily naps but they tended to be short since he was so excited and since they weren’t in the most optimal settings. We also tried hard to avoid public meltdowns. It’s amazing how a baby will immediately calm down if you go outside. I think everyone ends up happier that way.

For the trip back home, we actually flew out of Lansing, had a 2 hour layover in Chicago, a 3 hour flight to Denver and then got home at 9:45pm. Overall, I preferred the fly and drive vs the 2 flights and a layover. Either way, it’s a long day for a 5 mo old who has never really traveled before.

Bailey really showed us how amazingly resilient and adaptive babies can be. Once we got through the first day of change which included some expected fussiness and crying; it seemed like he adapted to being in a constantly changing environment. Although his naps were short and not very deep, he barely fussed about the situation and always awoke smiley and ready to go. I was really impressed. In fact, I think we slept worse than he did. During the night, it felt like our hotel room was permanently lit to resemble 6am in the morning. Why can’t hotels invest in some good room darkening shades? It’s a simple thing that would make hotel stays sooo much better.

And before you think, oh I guess this baby is really portable and doesn’t need the daily routine of naps at home (or in one stationery place); he did make up his sleep once we got back home. The first day back, he took two 3-hour naps, and then crashed for a 12 hour night. The next day, he was at grandma and grandpa’s house and was still overtired. He had a hard time napping and spent most of the day rubbing his eyes, fussing and wailing but also refusing to go down for his naps. We owe grandma and grandpa a big treat for dealing with the aftermath of a whirlwind weekend trip.

I hope that today he is back to his normal routine because next week, he starts daycare two days a week. Eeek!

Scent of a mama

I don’t know about other ladies, but when I became pregnant, my skin and hair started changing. It got really, really dry and  I found myself in search of new skin and hair care products. For those of you expecting the “pregnancy glow”, it doesn’t always happen. Instead, you may find yourself with a case of acne or even weird dry red rashes on your face. It definitely doesn’t feel lovely.

One of my goals during pregnancy was to look great. In fact, I think I tried harder while I was pregnant than before I was pregnant. Anyway, I searched and searched online for recommendations on face creams for sensitive, super dry skin and I finally found Origins Mega-mushroom skin relief soothing cream. A bit pricey, but it felt like heaven on my face and it had a distinctive smell that I will always associate with being pregnant and having my firstborn child.

As I applied the cream to my face last night, I paused and wondered if Bailey will associate that smell with his mama too.

The scent of my mama will always be Oil of Olay. She doesn’t even use it anymore, but throughout my childhood, it was her go-to face cream. To this day, anytime I smell it, I think of being snuggled up to my mom as a kid. Warmth, love and safety. I hope B will feel that way about me when he is grown and has his own family…

random flash back (to my gluten-full past)

Speaking of finding balance. I would say I was decidely not balanced when I used to buy and then eat an entire entenmann’s rasberry danish twist in less than 48 hours. My rationale was 1) they go stale so fast and 2) it’s all gonna end up in me so I might as well get this over with fast. 10 seconds in the microwave per slice – damn, that was my favorite sweet treat ever of the gluten-full kind. That texture is pretty impossible to recreate without gluten. But maybe it’s better that entenmann’s is a distant memory of my gluten-ness past. sigh. On a side note, why in the world is the name of the parent company Bimbo Bakeries?!

Planes, taxis, rental cars, oh my!

We just got back from a whirlwind 3 day trip for a family wedding and all I can say is that B is a really great baby. And he showed us how amazingly resilient and adaptive babies can be- it makes me feel like one proud mama!

My biggest worry for the trip was about naps since Bailey has been pretty reliable about when he needs his naps for the last month and he can be pretty vocal when he’s overtired. Oh, and he is highly distractable and curious these days which generally means it’s sometimes hard for him to go to sleep especially if we’re on the go OR he won’t focus on eating and then suddenly be starving and cranky – just like his papa!

Day One (part one):

On Friday morning, we left the house at 8am, caught a flight to Detroit MI and then drove a rental car to Lansing MI. We got to the night-before-the-wedding dinner at 7pm (ET) and then to the hotel just after 8pm. Bailey made it to bed by 9:15 which worked out to his usual bedtime of anywhere between 6:45-7:45 MT.

Happy Bailey on his first plane (5 mo. old)

We got on the plane about 1 hour past B’s first nap. B typically needs a nap every 2-2.5 hours. So an hour late is pretty significant. However, he was a happy smiley boy if slightly glassy eyed right up until he feel asleep nursing on take off. He only got a 15 min nap in but woke up smiling and excited  see his new surroundings and he completely missed the take off which meant silent baby! About an hour in to the flight, he had a minor melt down but really it was maybe 3 minutes long of “I’m soo tired” crying and then he fell asleep again. Overall, I think the flight made me and Lee more motion sick than Bailey.

Important tip: I did make sure he was either nursing or sucking on his pacifier during take off and landing which really did make a difference with his ears. I was told that babies respond to pressure change way before you even notice it in your own ears, so I had him sucking on the runway and basically til we leveled off. The one time he stopped sucking on his pacifier, he did start whimpering and crying so Lee and both became crazy pacifier cheerleaders – “suck Bailey suck, you can do it!!”

Once in Detroit, we took a taxi to the rental car place. For those of you newbies to parenthood, the taxi driver had no problem strapping our car seat base into his van for Bailey’s car seat.

Oh! I should probably digress into other  important tips for getting through security without becoming that family that takes half an hour and holds up the line – no offense if you have been “that family”!

  1. You can bring milk and water for the baby. They prefer clear containers and that you open the water bottles to show them – we didn’t bring any liquids so it wasn’t an issue for us.
  2. We did bring a car seat, car seat base and stroller. We packed the base in a checked bag and we gate checked the other two. Both the stroller and the graco snugride 35 seat fit through the xray machine. But put them through first because they need the weight of your other bags to push them through.
  3. I wore shoes that were easy to slip off and already had my hoodie packed away so that I didn’t have to deal with taking stuff off. I carried Bailey through the metal detector and then we grabbed our stuff on the other side and went.
  4. The stroller takes two hands to open up again (at least it does for me) so either be ready to instruct the security person on how to do it or have your hubby/travel partner take care of it. I’m sure there’s a single mama way to do it but I was at a loss and strangers are often scared of holding your bambino which means you get to do the one arm flailing thing while security people look on helplessly unless they’ve had kids recently in which case they’re much more helpful.
  5. Now this might seem obvious, but give yourselves plenty of time if you’re not used to having twice as much luggage as usual. I saw a family on the way back where the mom was freaking out as they tried to find their connecting gate. I really hope I’m never that mom you see -storming through the airport, sullen red-faced kids in toe and a scared looking father/hubby. You know the kind I’m talking about!

The good news is that if your baby is not crying, everyone around you thinks he/she is adorable and they generally slow down and smile more at you. And even if baby is crying, I swear it sounds a lot worse to you than anyone else.

In terms of packing, my approach was to get as much as possible into one checked bag and then carry as little as possible on the plane. I also recommend backpacks over diaper totes or really anything that goes over one shoulder. I like having both hands free to carry the little one.
I packed one backpack with 2 toys, 2 books, 1 fleece blanket, 1 little lovie blanket and the diaper stuff. The diaper stuff was all in a plastic bag in the backpack so that it was easy to pull out for use once passing through security. I also brought one of those expandable tote bags to put the diaper stuff (the kind that folds down into a tiny bag). We used everything we brought and didn’t feel like we’d forgotten anything. Our one extravagance was the Snuggleme pillow – looks kind of like a dog bed but it’s really for baby and it’s AWESOME for home and on the go. We used it in the hotel room (we’re non-crib folk – and that’s for another a post) and we also used it in the terminal during our layover on the way back. Other than that, baby stuff like clothing doesn’t take up too much room, but pack double in case of blow-outs or spit ups. Yay babies!

Last, we also brought a cheap baby monitor which worked out really well since Lee’s parents had a room a few doors down and we hung out there once baby was asleep in the evenings. Whew, Logisitics out of the way. Back to the story…