Thought I would document some of the more interesting things I’ve experienced or done while breastfeeding: positive, negative, and just plain weird (and I could give you a whole run-on about the relativity of weirdness, but we’ll save that for another day, or at least until I can properly give credit the to guy I first heard it from).
- I panic easily while pumping…maybe it’s the fact that I feel so naked and weird and vulnerable, but I do freak out a lot more than I might if I was just sitting there nursing Cooper. Case-in-point, the day before I started back to work, I dropped Cooper off at daycare for a few hours so I could get a few things done at home and so he could get a small taste of daycare. Of course I had to pump while he was gone. Well, while I was sitting there pumping, our power went out (yeah, we seem to be on a very touchy electric infrastructure). Since we have so much computer equipment in the house, we have all these back-up batteries…and they all beep loudly once the power is out so that you know you have a few precious minutes to save and shut things down properly before the battery goes out. So power goes out, I freak a little (“omigosh, this is SOO going to mess up my supply if I can’t properly pump and get all the milk out so that these silly boobs know to fill back up….”), then get annoyed at all the incessant beeping and throw on a robe over myself, with the breast shields and collection cups still attached to me, to run around to shut down all the machines in the house. I get my desktop and our printer shut down fine, then I run down to the basement to mess with Justin’s desktop and our server. I stupidly bend over the server to reach something (maybe the external hard drive? I’m not even sure now…) and I manage to splash some of that precious milk onto the basement floor, just narrowly missing the computer equipment itself. And of course, instead of stopping, removing the equipment attached to me, I instead just bent at the knee to turn off Justin’s computer equipment.
- I realized that we are not that far removed from the animal kingdom. When Cooper was about 3 or 4 weeks old, I was trying to unlatch him from me to switch sides while nursing him and he GROWLED at me.
- I consider myself of at least average intelligence (maybe even a little above?). When I’m faced with something new, I usually start researching it to the Nth degree so that I am as prepared as I can possibly be. When I was pregnant with Gavin, I read a lot of pregnancy books, articles, and websites. Like many expecting women, I was obsessed with finding out every minute detail about pregnancy, delivery, birth, and even read “What to Expect the First Year” when I was still only 6 or 7 months pregnant. We took a great birthing class that also had the benefit of breastfeeding basics (the instructor was an RN and lactation consultant and had several children…she was fabulous…I still have her business card!). But nothing I came across (or since, now that I think of it) prepared me for this: unlike a baby bottle nipple, or even seemingly a cow’s udder (I do not pretend to know the ways of farm animals…just what I see in cartoons), human milk has SEVERAL points of exit. Yep, I thought that the milk would come out of one little lacta-duct (if you will). Imagine my surprise the first time I saw about 3 or 4 mini-streams of milk…I actually freaked out a bit (albeit, I was pumping, and we have already established that I am a weird weird person while pumping). So other breastfeeding newbies out there, consider yourself EDUCATED!
- Both of my boys latched on perfectly the first time I fed them during the first hour of each of their lives. It was amazing and wonderful, and a little too easy. And I can hear the gnashing of teeth of other mothers out there who had tons of latching-on issues…sorry. It’s probably my only easy part to nursing.
- I should’ve known that when my nurse at the hospital had to interrupt Cooper eating that first hour (well, he ate well into the 2nd hour of his life), that he would be a big, slow eater.
- In the continuing saga of Colleen is a Pumping Freak, I spilled breastmilk on my pants and chair while pumping at work the other day because I underestimated how much I might express at the end of the day…which leads me to my new understanding that breastmilk can stain fabrics. I was able to successfully get the breastmilk out of my pants, but the chair was not so lucky, probably because the chair did not have the advantage of Shout laundry spray and a good run through the washer with Dreft baby detergent.
- Thrush. To many in the breastfeeding community, that one word will bring cold shivers to your spine, and maybe even one or two of you may have gasped audibly. To those of you lucky enough to never have encountered thrush, let me just tell you…I personally rank it as more painful than childbirth. The reason I do so is because the pain of childbirth is excruciating, but there is generally a happy ending…once you pop that baby out, the sharp intense pain is gone (for the most part) and you have this joyous celebration of life. With thrush, you have excruciating pain every single time you feed your baby…and babies nurse every 2-3 hours when they’re really young (or are piggy-eaters like Cooper). The pain I experienced made me wish I had an epidural for my boobs. I bit on my lip to keep from screaming in pain (didn’t want to make eating a negative experience for Cooper), and often bit so hard to prevent the screaming that I drew blood. Then the skin on your nipples is so sensitive and ravaged by the infection that just feeding your baby for a few minutes can draw blood as well. It got to the point where I would start crying before nursing Cooper because the anticipation of such awful pain was more than my post-partum body/mind could handle. I finally stopped nursing him and pumped instead for nearly a week until my thrush was under control. The best part was that I got a second run of it three weeks after the first time…this time I was able to procure a more aggressive medicinal approach (and caught it earlier) and wiped that nastiness out quicker.
- Cooper is a really chubby baby, which is a totally foreign concept to me since Gavin was such a string-bean by the time he was 3 months old, and Justin and I are hardly big people (nor were we big babies or children). I believe it’s because my breastmilk is a good 33% fat! I know this because nearly a third of all my pumped breastmilk is fat floating on top (well, you can see this once it’s been chilled). Sometimes it’s even more than that!
- Cooper is an extremely demanding infant when he’s hungry; conversely, once he’s been fed, he’s very content. But the difference between when he’s had a bottle of formula and when he’s had a bottle of breastmilk is like night and day. After formula, he’s happy and smiley. After breastmilk, he’s like what we call “milk-drunk”…so deliriously happy that he looks and even acts a little drunk.Maybe it’s because breastmilk is really sweet. I mean, formula is sweet with a slight metallic aftertaste, but breastmilk is really sweet, kind of like the difference between regular milk and lactose-free milk…you’d swear there was a good tablespoon of sugar in there.
- Nursing really does help you lose weight quicker. When I came home from the hospital, I still had about 25 extra pounds on me. Now that Cooper is nearly 4 months old, I only have 5 lbs left to lose. Granted, I’ve been blessed with thin genes, but I’m pretty certain that if I wasn’t nursing, I’d probably still have a good 15 or so to lose. Plus, I’ve seen it on other friends who nursed (and didn’t nurse) their babies. It probably helped that I stopped eating like I was pregnant, too (hello, nearly 40lb weight-gain!).
- Your milk supply is nothing to play with, at least in my case where mine is so ridiculously sensitive. Babies are the most efficient emptiers of the breast, so that’s why La Leche League is so crazy about making sure you nurse nurse nurse your baby. But for those of us who need, or want, to work, a good breastpump is a good investment. Some women rent them, since well, what else are you going to use that thing for once you’ve stopped nursing? Suction water off your shower walls? But rental prices can really stack up if you’re doing it for more than 2 or 3 months…by that time, you could’ve bought a Playtex Double Embrace (hospital-grade, closed system like a hospital rental, soft massaging cups–no need to try to find a breast cup that fits, price includes a nice bag with tons of accessories, and WONDERFUL customer service…I know it’s a shameless plug, but I REALLY love my pump), or even the Medela Pump In Style line, which a lot of other moms out there use. They seem expensive (usually starting around $200 or more), but they are WELL worth it. Plus your hands don’t get tired from using a manual pump! And in my case, pumping has the added bonus of making me a complete spaz, much to the delight and entertainment of others.
- Breastfeeding your baby in public is interesting. I’m still a bit shy about it, but I did it a LOT more when I was still home with Cooper and was anxious to get out of the house and interact with adults, which meant that I did it at restaurants a lot, usually while I was eating, too, which is how I dropped food on his face. I’m a great mama, huh?
- And my last freak-pump experience (although probably far from my last) was when I totally forgot the white valves for the breastcups on my pump (#8 on this picture). Without them, the pump doesn’t actually create suction and doesn’t work. So I go flying out of my dark little breastpumping office and drive 20 minutes to the Babies R Us, praying that they carry them. Nope. So I had to drive another 25 minutes away back home to pick up the little buggers, drive all the way back to work, and then still needed to pump. Needless to say, I haven’t forgotten the valves again and I managed to store the extra two valves in my little accessory bag with my pump in case I do forget the others at home again.
Stay tuned for next week when I deliver 13 things I never thought I’d hear/say/experience as a mother.
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