Isolation of a New Mom, Part II

IMG_0077

Isolation of a New Mom, Part II

So I recently wrote a post lamenting my feeling of isolation as a new mom. As I reflect on that post, I wonder what advice I would give myself if I could go back in time to try to prevent this sort of quandary.

I have really not come up with any answers.

 

 

Blame

I really want to blame the people I interact with. Blame them for not offering to help when I wasn’t sleeping for months on end. I really want to blame them for not dropping off little packages of food for us to eat so I wouldn’t have to worry about that for a day.  I wanted them to offer to come and just sit with me for an hour to make me feel like a human being.. I know there are people out there that do this for their friends, and not one ever did it for me.

So you may wonder if I was that kind of friend to anyone else? Well, most of these friends as I said, had older kids. Their days of child rearing are over.. so I would not have done that for them.

Certainly they have had other needs. Was I a good friend then? There were some situations I could have done better with. Yes. Certainly. But as I look back- I think of helping people move from one home to another. I think of parties we had at our home. I think of people we gave rides to when they needed them. Nothing big. No, but if help was ever in need, I would like to think that I would have responded and did.

Certainly MANY of these folks have had kids and know what it is like. Seeing me post day in and day out about my exhaustion and frustration certainly must have been some clue of my need.

I can blame all I want, but in the end, did I ask for help? No.  I suppose I was just too overwhelmed mentally and not in the mindset to even consider it. Looking back though, I wonder if anyone would have even responded? At this point, I am thinking no.

So I find myself here.

What could I have done better?

I suppose the best and easiest answer was to make more effort to find friends with similar situations sooner.. to interact more with the moms that I met at the Birth Center we had the baby at. It was my best option really.. but I think unless I had had more help to keep me from being exhausted at home, I never would have been able to support the time required to maintain those relationships.

The other answer was to pay someone to help me. I needed more help than my partner could give most days. He was working A LOT to keep us in the green. He would take care of the baby while I showered or even just went to the bathroom alone. But it was not the time off I needed to maintain any kind of friendship. That route would have required that I go back to work or risk not having money to stay home. Not really practical for the goals we had set.

So really, I have no answers on this.

Family doesn’t come around much. Most family is plane rides away. So most people don’t have that network of caring aunties and such to come help out.

Unless the child is in school, you don’t have that network.

Unless you are working, you don’t have that network.

The isolation of a new mom is such a western phenomena. We have kids, we stay in our homes and we just don’t have the community that other countries seem to have (or so I read.)

What are your thoughts on this? Did you experience the isolation of a new mom?

Isolation of A New Mom

Isolation of A New Mom

Staying home with my daughter for the last 2.5 years has been an interesting social experiment. But when I say social that does not really describe what has been happening in any way.

newcars

I suppose it really isn’t shocking how it happened to me, or how isolation of a new mom happens to anyone, but for some reason, I just over estimated the social network I had built and grossly miscalculated how it actually worked.

What does that mean?

 

Well, I have/had a few different circles of friends. Each of them was formed based on a similar activity that we would engage in together. Although there were outside activities with some of these folks, at the heart there was still that particular activity at the center of it. Once I stopped participating in those activities due to pregnancy or the care of the newborn, I was no longer in any actual contact with any of those people outside of Facebook.

Don’t get me wrong- interacting on Facebook has saved me from going insane on those long nights breastfeeding my daughter, zombie like at 3 am etc. I was sleep deprived and really was not in any kind of mindset to go and do anything. I was barely able to keep myself fed and bathed on some frequency because I was so completely overwhelmed with the care of this child that needed to eat every 20 minutes to the most 3 hours for almost a year.

I am not whining. This is the path I chose, and I do not regret it. But, at 2.5 years later, I wonder what happened to my friends?

I went to a children’s museum last week and saw some awesome moms and their friends with their similarly aged kids playing together. They were having fun, the kids were having fun and I pined for this kind of interaction with anyone at all.

I realize that none of my activities related friends have kids under 10. The activities they partake in are generally not going to be suitable for a toddler.

I am not really great at making new friends. I have always been this way so most of my people that I call friends are probably more like – people I keep seeing at the same place so at some point they talk to me because otherwise it is awkward…

I did have one mama that I did these kinds of things with a few times, but she moved away, and it made me realize how I wish I could go back and have more of those fun times together. I was so completely tired and burnt out that it felt exhausting to just take a shower some days, so we stayed home. She also worked and it placed more limits on the time we could really hang out.

 

Work

Over the past year, I have been really working hard on my blogs, and also doing the freelance work. I still barely went anywhere. The way my work was, if I had any free time from caring for the toddler, I was building the blogs, editing my freelance work. I need to have money after all!

Suddenly, I have no freelance work to do. I still blog, but it does not need to take my entire day to complete the posts and reviews I have on my plate. My deadlines are my own for the most part. So NOW I am missing the ability to interact socially with anyone else besides the close family. But seemingly, all of a sudden, I have no friends.

Of course, we know this wasn’t sudden at all. I have spent 2.5 years not having (many) friends and not noticing it.

Where did I go wrong? Has anyone else experienced this isolation of a new mom, and what did you do about it?

 

Flashback: Breastfeeding a 20 month old, Updates from 12/13

To continue my celebration of World Breastfeeding Week 2014 I decided to republish blog posts from breastfeeding a 20 month old from my blog http://www.itzybellababy.blogspot.com. This post is from December 2013. I was way over a year into my breastfeeding experience, and the story shows me how far we have come.

logo


So if you have been following along with my breastfeeding posts, you know I have a 20 month old and we are still breastfeeding. No, this was actually not my intention to breastfeed this long- my initial goal was 6 months. Then a year.. then.. well, I decided as long as I was at home with the baby, we would just see where we ended up.



I had made the decision around 14 months to start adding a bottle of cow milk after nursing sessions. I was having a lot of pain nursing a teether, and I had not slept more than 2 hours a night since before she was even born, and needed something. She started sleeping all night, and everything in life got better for all of us. I was sure nursing would stop. It didn’t! ( I am not advocating supplementing, especially before a year, but this is just our story.) I was convinced for about 3 months though, that every nursing session would be our last. What ended up happening was a really good groove. We nursed at naps, bedtime and once at night a few hours before waking. After that session it was back to sleep for both of us.


I always nursed on demand. It was what I was taught, and it worked. Over the last 2 weeks toddler has been really having a hard time off and on with napping and just generally not being herself. She has no physical ailments we could detect, but she has been pretty fussy about eating. She would periodically ask for more than a bottle of milk after nursing. I chocked this up to not eating as much, and since it was periodic, I really wasn’t too concerned. She eats a good variety of food most days. I generally give her what she asks for when it comes to food, and she asks for healthy things.


The last few nights she has been waking up around 3 to nurse instead of 5 or 6 or 7 am. No problem, we nurse. We go back to sleep til 8ish. But on 3 occasions now, she has asked to nurse again a few hours later. I have to admit, that I did not want to nurse again so quickly. Twice in 3 hours is painful. There is not a lot of milk.


At this phase of the game I understand, we are not going to be increasing our supply through pumping and increased nursing like what happens in that first year. I actually talked to a lactation consultant about this around 15 months or so. I usually use fenugreek and a few other herbs and supplements on the second half of my menstrual cycle because after I ovulate, my production is even lower. It helps a little, but not much. It is a temporary fix. Nursing hurts during those 2 weeks. My nipples peel, they are sensitive and she clamps down and sucks harder to try to get more milk out. She bites and leaves teeth marks. She hits and pinches to get more. So when I say I don’t want to nurse another session so quickly, this is why. The rest of the month, we go back to normal.


But then we have this increased nursing request. I said no. It hurt me to say it, and I really hated her reaction which was a full blown toddler fit. What I did do is get her a bottle of milk, and try to hold her while she drank it. The first two times, this worked. She calmed down, drank her milk while we snuggled, and we both went back to sleep. One of the mornings after this, we had more cuddles when we woke up. We just laid in bed snuggling for an hour when we woke up, which is pretty uncommon.


But this morning, after nursing at 3, she asked to nurse at 7. I said no, but I would get a nice bottle. She had a full blown toddler fit. Sobbing, gasping, rolling about inconsolably as I got her bottle. I brought it back and she wouldn’t drink it. She pushed me away. She screamed. I died inside. I did not anticipate this level of upset.I second guessed myself. As I was about to go ahead and nurse, she took the bottle, and drank it, then calming down for snuggles. She finally fell asleep on my chest. All is now well an hour later and she should be getting up for breakfast soon.


So here I am typing away. Trying to decide if I did the right thing, or if I am being selfish. I have been readying my mind for her to wean. I have been anticipating decreased nursing sessions. We have not nursed out of bed in over 6 months. We have really been on a schedule ( hers, not mine), which is something I hadn’t anticipated ever happening based on her first year of nursing.  I admit to feeling very confident over the past few months, and happy with our pattern. Now this. So of course I headed over to Kellymom to see what is said about increased night nursing in a toddler. Of course the reasons are the same as a younger baby- teething, developmental changes and needing more time with momma.


We have had 6 months of all of those things that did not end up in increased nursing. I have to wonder though- since most people are not nursing at this point, what does the toddler do instead? Just more bottles? More hugs? I am feeling guilty about this, but I am not sure what to think. Eventually she will wean. Eventually she will have developmental changes and teeth issues and such. What then? There is so little out there in the way of information about extended nursing compared to a younger child. I suppose I could talk to a lactation consultant or such, but I am sure they would tell me to go ahead and nurse. I know that is probably the answer, except I don’t want to. I feel like a jerk about it. Anyone else have this issue?

 

Flashback: Breastfeeding at 18 months, an update from 9/13

To continue my celebration of World Breastfeeding Week 2014 I decided to republish blog posts from my breastfeeding at 18 months old from my blog http://www.itzybellababy.blogspot.com. This post is from September 2013. I was way over a year into my breastfeeding experience, and the story shows me how far we have come.

logo

http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/ logo


9-30-13

A status update, to my toddler on her 18 month birthday.

I thought it would be a nice time to summarize what you are like at 18 months old. Sure I have loads of videos and pictures, but you cant get a real sense of the things you do from day to day that tickle your parents.


First off- I am pretty excited that you sleep pretty much through the night. You didn’t do that for the first 14 months or so of your life. Since your mom (thats me) also didn’t sleep the last month or so of pregnancy, that is a dang long time not to sleep properly. I was a little insane for a bit. I am better now.

You do wake up a few hours before actual wakeup to nurse. You are asking for milk in a kind of sleepy haze, and as long as I deliver it immediately, you and I can go back to sleep. This is how breastfeeding should be, in my opinion, and this is why we are still doing it. It is easy.

Speaking of sleep. We currently both sleep in your bedroom. We have a crib.. we haven’t used that much in your lifetime, but it makes a great place for your dad’s clothes. I wont comment if they are clean or not. I stay out of that. He has the big bedroom and king size bed to himself, and his 10 pillow empire. He hates sleeping alone, but mom goes to visit him while you sleep sometimes, so its ok.

Back to our sleeping arrangement. We have a twin mattress and the crib mattress on the floor in your room. We have them pushed together, and we sleep there.The room has a little gate on it, and that keeps you in the room if you wake up before me. Usually, you just wake me up with hugs or kisses or sometimes you even wake up giggling and saying seemingly out of the blue things, like CARSEEE. ( your word for cars. I think you think carseat and car are the same.)

We have the ability to turn your crib into a toddler bed, and the crib mattress is supposed to fit that. We also can turn it into a twin bed later. Although, we already have a twin daybed in here. That is currently holding your big stuffed animals and your baskets of folded diapers and clean clothes that I never have time to put away.

We spend a lot of time in the bedroom some days. The past month or so, you have decided that naptime should be sometime between 1-4 pm to start. Since I am never sure, we eat our lunch around 12-1 and then head to the bedroom to nurse, than have a bottle, and then wait until you wind down to sleep. As I type this, I am trying to get you down, but you are telling me something about your blanket, with a pacifier in your mouth, and you are not even slightly interested in napping. You may be pooping. You already did twice today, so I am not sure.

So, you still use a pacifier. I am pretty sure, if I let you, you would have it in your mouth 24/7. I try to limit it to the times we are in this room. If I can, I grab it from you before we leave the room, and tell you its kaka. You laugh. I go hide it under your pillow for later. You of course know they are there, and go crazy if they are missing. I dread the day we have to break this habit. Frankly, they have saved my sore boobs over the past 16 months or so, and I am not regretting introducing them. But I know we face a struggle ahead to stop them.

Bottles.. yes, you are drinking from a bottle at naps. Its not that you can’t drink from cups- you can. You have straw cups all over the house with water in them for you. ( we skipped sippy type cups, supposed to be bad for your teeth- you never liked them anyway) So in the bottles, we mostly have organic cows milk these days. I started you with almond milk, with extra protein. You used to have hiccups from milk- even when I ate it. You have hiccups right now, oddly. I thought you were allergic, but turns out, you arent. So cows whole milk is your friend. You get frozen breast milk once in awhile too. It makes your poo all smooshy like it was when you only drank milk, so I limit it. You still get an eczema outbreak when I drink orange juice, but it isn’t nearly as bad as before, and you don’t scratch your arm off, so I think I can probably drink a bit now and then. You, however, I think should still avoid it. Any lemon juice in the puree pouches will give you the itches.

I still have a small stash of pumped breast milk in the freezer. I haven’t been able to pump anything since about June, and really, I never pumped more than 4 ounces at a time when you were really young, and that eventually tapered off over time. I really wanted to donate some of the milk, but I never had enough stocked up to keep enough for you, and donate. I thought I was going to work, and wanted to have 150 ounces or so, when I thought you would be drinking bottles all day away from me. I am kind of glad we didn’t have to send you to daycare when you were still breastfeeding 10-12 times a day. It would have been a big change for us. I would have been sad. I feel sad I couldn’t donate the milk. It might have been able to help some baby and mama somewhere. Anyway, the milk is all yours, and over time, I will finish what is frozen there.

So we nurse 3 times a day of late. Only in bed. Only at naptimes. You really dont ask for it any other time, and I don’t offer it. You know where it is when you need it. You just stick your hands right down my shirt and grab at it. It is kind of funny. I tried to stop the nap nurse but I got grumpy, so I started again, and felt better. Some day we will talk about oxytocin. It is good. You do not get a lot of milk from me anymore. I count the number of times you swallow as you nurse. Some days you can be there for 3 minutes or so, and only swallow 4-5 times. I have heard up to 10.. but not much more. I sat and counted how many times you swallowed milk in a 4 ounce bottle.. I counted like 60 times and you hadn’t even had a quarter of it. So I would guess my milk is probably less than an ounce for both breasts. You are still getting all the good bacteria and such in that small amount though, so it is not a waste.

I never intended to nurse this long. I figured going back to work would naturally cut that out earlier. But we are home all day together, and we are still at it. I am ok with that. I made my 6 month and then my one year goal, and anything past that is gravy. When you are ready, you will stop. Or I will get a job, and it will probably stop soon after that. But 18 months is a fantastic run!

So we spend our days in rather boring manners. You play with your crazy insane collection of toys. They are everywhere. I don’t even bother to clean them up half the time. I try to do a blog, and I try to get contract work doing my career stuff. It helps pay the bills.

You are pretty much a mellow baby most of the time. I don’t let you get all riled up about things, I will admit… although you do throw a toddler fit at least once or twice or 100 times a day. Usually this involves you banging your head on something, or throwing something. It isn’t very fun to watch.

You like to throw your food on the floor. You like to make your mom crazy from day to day, when you decide what you want to eat and what you don’t. You call blueberries and grapes- balls. You call pears, apples and anything else round and fruity an apple. You ask for pouches of purees by saying- mmm mmm. You also take them out of the cabinet yourself. You ask for cookies and crackers. You call bread by-ee for some reason I don’t understand, and you have a little pink plastic plate in the living room that you cry out by–ee by—eee and I put little torn up pieces of bread on it for you to snack. You haven’t had much experience with a fork, but you can shovel some food in your mouth with a spoon when I feel like giving you a bath. ( you turn the spoon over every time!)

You like to eat dog food. You like to get in the dog’s crate and close the gate. The dog is not impressed by this, but she doesn’t let on. You also splash her water all over the floor, and lick your fingers. I almost vomit when I see this. I stop you by the way, but you are clever sometimes.

You wear cloth diapers and pretend to help me fold them up, after unfolding them helpfully. You like to grab my underwear and wear them around your neck. You also like to put purses and belts and such around your neck as scarves. We are not as amused by this. I have to keep on you not to hurt yourself.. it is odd. I never can tell what you might do next.

Your father has named several of your stuffed animals, and I think you know who they all are. I don’t..I can’t keep track. You love anything with Mickey and Minnie Mouse on it. You love to watch them and anything with Winnie the Pooh. You also like to watch some Sesame Street skits with your dad, on his phone. You say-book book book like the characters. You love heavy metal. You pretend to bang your head like a metal star. You know what hockey is, and point it out whenever you see it.

You are learning new words every day. I stopped counting around 40 or so.. I think that is a lot. Sometimes you string them together. Usually when you are angry and want something. You can still sign a few words, but now that you can say them, you have left most behind.

You were 25 pounds and almost 33 inches the last time I measured you.. may be more now.. it seems the last month or so you have grown a bunch. You have 12 teeth. You do not let me count them. I have to tickle you to make you laugh, and then I secretly look at your teeth. You sometimes will brush your teeth, and by that I mean you chew on your toothbrush. We will work on that one.

You know how to take off your pants and Velcro diapers. You love to wear your squeaky zebra print shoes. You like looking at people when we go out, and you love our hockey friends.

 Every day you do something to make us smile. A surprise nuggle when I am washing dishes, a kiss on my arm when we are watching tv, a kiss on my back when I am sewing and you sneak up on my chair behind me, the way you squeal when your daddah comes home from work…You are an awesome little person, and we sure love having you around.

Flashback: Breastfeeding at 15 Months, Updates from 7/2013

To continue my celebration of World Breastfeeding Week 2014 I decided to republish blog posts from my breastfeeding at 15 months old from my blog http://www.itzybellababy.blogspot.com. This post is from July 2013. I was over a year into my breastfeeding experience, and the story shows me how far we have come.

logo

http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/ logo


7-22-13

The past few weeks we have been doing the breastfeeding then bottle thing with the baby. It has been pretty successful at keeping her asleep almost the entire night, almost every night. I have enjoyed the sleep after almost a year and a half of 2-3 hours of sleep at a time.

My milk supply is dwindling more. We knew this was possible. It was low before we started, so this was no shock. She is down to 3 regular breast feeds on most days. One is between 4-6 am, and she may or may not go back to sleep closer to 6.

We don’t have bottles at that time, and she has only asked for it once, and I said no. She went back to sleep, so that was ok. We have one for her nap, followed by a bottle every time. A few times she refused the breast at that nap, until she got the bottle.

These are hard feeds for me. She will latch on and off several times, cry, ask for the bottle ( which can no longer be hidden to be fooling her.) I feel very sad when she wont take the breast first. She wants that instant bottle which pours into her mouth. I get that.

My let down is slower than ever, and her cries make me tense, making it slower.. we work through it. A few days we dropped the breast at naptime. It was pure hell for me. I was emotional, I was agitated. We added the feed back and I felt better instantly. It took me a few days to even work out that that was the issue.

Weaning like this will not be pleasant for me, and like it or not, I think she is indifferent to it. So, is this the right path? Yes. I needed the sleep. I am not going to guilt myself about it at 18 months to encourage, sort of… weaning.

We have come so far. So much farther than most. Not as long as others. But I think impressively far.

As I thought last time I posted- I could go on like this as long as the milk holds out and she still will take it. If I go back to work before she has dropped the lunch feed, it will have to go anyway. I wont be pumping I suspect.. nothing really comes out these days, and it stresses me. So why bother. I cant increase my flow, only try to maintain what is left for as long as she wants it.

So that is where we are. I am coming to terms with it as best I can. Every time I feed her now, I think- this could be the last time she will take the breast. Enjoy it. I hold her hand. I kiss her head. I feel her little feet kicking off of my stomach, like she does. I breathe deep and wait for the little sounds she makes when she is satisfied. They are fewer and far between at the breast, so I inhale them.

Flashback: Breastfeeding at 15 Months, an Update from 7/2013

To continue my celebration of World Breastfeeding Week 2014 I decided to republish blog posts from breastfeeding at 15 months from  my old blog http://www.itzybellababy.blogspot.com. This post is from July 2013. I was over a year into my breastfeeding experience, and the story shows me how far we have come.

logo

http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/ logo


 

I knew when I got pregnant, that breastfeeding was the only thing for me and my baby. I researched, read everything I could, and was certain that even if I had issues, I was going to work through them.

I wasn’t so much interested in the process, per say, but I knew that the milk I made was the best thing, the most dependable thing I could feed her. I also felt that as long as I was staying home with her, I would try to keep breastfeeding as long as it was working for us.

My first goal was 6 months, then 12 and I haven’t really set a goal past that, as I was planning to return to work, and was not sure how I would feel then. So, initially, I took an awesome class with a Lactation Consultant, who I also engaged as my Doula, and I felt confident in my choice.

I had issues the first couple days, and I will not deny that I gave in to the Doctors, when my giant baby ( 11 pounds, 11 ounces) lost more than 10% of her birth weight the first few days. I was on anti-hemorrhage meds, and it took 5 days for my milk to come in, and at their bullying I broke down and gave my baby formula for about 2 weeks. We did make very conscious efforts about how she got it. Not from a bottle. And always after I put her to breast for as long as I could tolerate it.. sometimes up to an hour, sometimes longer.

When her Dad was giving her those little droppers of formula, I was pumping. Even if I got a few drops at a time of that precious colostrum, she got it. We where lucky, that as soon as my milk came in, it was plentiful and she never got nipple confusion or denied me. Things were still tough. She fed almost continuously it seemed, as newborns do.

I honestly have very little memories of that time. I didn’t sleep even when she slept those 20-45 minutes a few times a day. But we managed to work it out. Fast forward- over the next 10-12 months, that baby breastfed consistently every 2-3 hours, every day of her life.

There are only a handful of days over the past 15 months where she has slept more than 6 hours at a time. Only 2 or 3 of those days in the past month or so. I pumped off and on, and she got pumped breast milk sometimes at social events when mom wanted a glass of wine, or the few times we left her with family for a few hours. I would say though, that our breastfeeding relationship has been really good for most of these months. Teething, and some colds featured some bitey days and demands that were harder for me, but I really grew to enjoy the process, in a way I hadn’t realized I would.

So I have been actively trying to get a job for the past 7 months. I have to admit, it is not going well. I have had more interviews than I can count, and my anxiety has spiraled. As time goes on, I feel not only am I less interesting to an employer, I also feel my work knowledge may become dated. I do try keep up, but it is not the same as working.

I also have had some mental stress about how I will keep up breastfeeding at work. My baby has been slowly, slowly decreasing her feeds over the past 3 months or so, but we are still on the high side of what others are doing at this age. She eats 2 big meals a day and we snack all day, so I know she is getting good nutrition from me, as well as solids. I only recently have added regular, non breast milk liquids to her diet (almond milk with added protein, whole milk rarely and water.)

My period had returned about 4 months ago, and I have noticeably less milk past my monthly ovulation. My let down seems slower, and my baby is less satisfied with our sessions than she used to be. I tried lactation cookies, fenugreek, pumping, and a few other suggested supplements to try to boost my supply during those 2 weeks. But nothing really has helped. I talked to a lactation consultant, and she agreed I was doing all I could, but really, it is hard to increase your supply at 15 months unlike those early months of breastfeeding.

I felt discouraged, but I kept at it anyway. So this month, I have been having a lot of issues with baby. She has been a little growth spurty, teething and is starting to test her toddler limits. She only will breastfeed in our bed, laying down, in spite of all the places we used to do it. She refuses to adjust her latch most days to a nice comfortable position that does not leave teeth marks on me, or even scrapes me. I have consulted many sources on how to reposition her and other techniques, but she is stubborn. It has been painful to say the least.

Prior months we had bitey issues, but we worked them out.. this month, not so much. She is cutting 2 molars, and 2 other teeth right now, so I get that it is a hard time, and may pass. It also may not. But I have to say, that my patience feels thinner for all of this. I feel a tremendous amount of guilt about that. I really want to be able to say that I let her wean, and that we will do this as long as she wants, but there is a part of me that is really considering weaning.

As I mentioned, we had a few nights this month where she actually slept longer than a 5 hour stretch. It was bliss. Good heavy dinners I think helped, but I can’t make her eat anymore than she wants. I just offer variety and hope. I did get a little desperate one night and popped a bottle of whole milk on her, after she nursed me raw for about a half hour- which is a lot longer than she usually nurses these days. She loved it. She slept from 9-4am. It was bliss.. So I thought we would try again. And again. I also started this for naps. Nursing first. Always, and if she wanted more, I gave it to her. I was careful not to let her see the bottle though. Today, for her nap, I made the mistake of letting her see the bottle of pumped milk I defrosted for her. I have a few ounces that will be “expiring” and I didn’t want to waste it. We laid down to nurse, but she could see that damn bottle and when she didn’t get letdown in 40 seconds, like she wanted, (it usually takes a few minutes these days,) she started crying for that damn bottle. I gave it to her.. and cried while she drank it. I felt pretty bad. She started to doze off a bit, but I actively offered the breast to her, and she took it, begrudgingly.

I felt even worse. When I do go back to work, she will be going to daycare. I read so many stories about how babies get sick so often there. Especially initially as they are being exposed to so many more germs and such, than they normally would staying home. I also weigh in that most of those babies are on formula. I know that my milk protects her, as long as we are nursing, and not just getting frozen pumped milk. I want her to have that immunity. I want her to be healthy.

I am not sure where it leaves me. I feel like she may not miss the nursing if we stopped. That milk is plentiful, comes from an endless source and is instant. She does not seem to care if its my pumped milk, whole cow milk or almond milk. That makes me feel even worse. I really feel like it would make my life easy to not have to ever start a job and worry about pumping and lugging milking supplies about. If she was younger, I wouldn’t even consider weaning before I started working, but at 15 months, I feel more like I might be happier to do that.

I will most probably be working with chemicals in my job, wherever it may be, and it gives me a lot more pause while nursing, than it would as a regular person. I know all the risks, and where the hazards are. That is my job to control those for everyone, but that doesn’t ever really mean zero exposure to anyone. I add this to my list of justifications in my mind. I don’t know what we will do. .. I am just not sure I feel like weaning is the right thing for me. I do not want to be selfish. I have been so giving and self-sacrificing the last year and I take a certain pride in that. I know I have done the best I could do in every situation, with her in mind at every turn.

I do not want to look back and say- I should have.. I really have been so confident in my choices so far…this is new ground. I just know I want to make the right choice. One where I will not feel guilty later for stopping too soon, and wishing I hadn’t. I know that there is only one choice that alleviates my guilt, and that is to let her decide. Hmmm…

World Breastfeeding Week 2014

It is World Breastfeeding Week 2014 from August 1-August 7th. I meet this year’s events with a sense of sadness as my daughter decided to wean herself a few weeks ago.

http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/

http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/ logo

It is the first month in 27 months that I have not nursed my daughter. It is a very bittersweet time for me. I was on vacation with her, and really wanted her to nurse through the trip so that she would have that extra layer of immunity during the plane trips and such. Alas, she stopped 2 days into the trip. The last session probably didn’t actually even count, but she did attempt it before rejecting me..so I am counting it.

 

27 months is an incredible run. Most American women do not make it to a year. The World Health Organization suggests nursing until 2 so at least we made it that far. I feel she is healthy, very independent and can be pretty smart and sassy. I am calling it the milk!

I suspect that if I had not stayed home with her all of this time that we would have stopped much sooner. It is a nice thing to be able to work from home, and I am very fortunate we have made it to this point. Most American women do not have this luxury.

Pumping and working is not impossible, so do not be discouraged if you are on that path, but it is hard. It is certainly harder than being able to nurse on demand at home snuggled up in your bed with your nursling. So to those out there who do it- Keep at it! You will not regret doing it, no matter how hard.

One of the reasons I am not working is the difficulty I was facing the first few days back to work. Pumping was to be done in an old computer storage room. It was dusty, dirty, and it had a lock, but there was a missing key, and there were employees that were visiting such rooms to sneak off during the work day undetected, so I was always afraid I would be intruded upon during pumping. I did have a nice hard plastic chair to sit on, the room was windowless, and it was far away from any other offices so no one would be bothered with the sound of my pump.

There was a plug in the room but no table so I tried to balance it on the bag that I brought my milk in.  I had an hour drive to and from work. It was June in Arizona, so I had to really make sure my ice was cold because by the time I got home the milk was not as cold as I would have preferred.

The room was not air conditioned. I would have trouble with letdown. It would take me about 45 minutes to pump a measly 4 ounces of milk between the 2 bottles, and by the time I was done I was soaked in sweat. Soaked. I was still having a lot of postpartum hormonal swings and I was miserable. I was anxious. I needed to pump 3-4 times in an 8 hour shift or I would be so engorged I was in misery. I leaked no matter what. Bear in mind, this was 12 weeks out. Not the 6 weeks that many women go back to.

I quit. I was overwhelmed. I hadn’t slept more than 2 hours for about 3 months at that point. I feel asleep on the ride home one day and it scared the crap out of me. I had to quit.

Is this the worst story you ever heard? Not even. Was it hard for me? Yes.

I had a contingency plan in place at home. I was able to stay home, and I TRIED to make the job work but I did not see any way to do that unless I stopped nursing. So I quit my job. To be completely honest, I had started interviewing for a new position before I found out I was pregnant. I was not happy at the job, and the amount of work for me was dwindling. They didn’t replace me if that tells you anything. I was on my way out of there anyway…

Most women cannot do this. They have to work, and for them the choice probably would have been a bottle of formula and no looking back. No judgement. It is reality. I considered it.

But imagine we were in Canada. Employers give women a year to take care of children. Paid. With health insurance of course. When they do come back from work- they are given protection for the entire time they breastfeed- not just a year.

Other countries give even more.

At my work they were calling me at 8 weeks trying to make me go to their occupational doctor to get cleared to come back. (In spite of my doc saying 12 weeks and I was not physically ready.)

World Breastfeeding week has a tall order. They seek to assert the “importance of increasing and sustaining the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding.”

Certainly my experience was a success to the extent that I nursed my daughter 7 months longer than suggested. But it was a complete failure considering what I decided to give up to keep it going. I don’t blame breastfeeding. I could have made it work if I had really wanted to. But it was infinitely more satisfying on this path.

( I did not intend to stay home this long. I have been unable to get a new job. I tried for a year. I ended up getting work to do at home and for now that is enough to keep me here until something fantastic appears in my inbox. )

But the real question is why I needed to sacrifice anything at all. Other countries did not implode by providing moms more. Their economies are no worse than ours. Their healthcare no worse. In fact, most of those countries have better healthcare. Go figure.

So for this World Breastfeeding Week 2014 I leave you the question-

When will we value breastfeeding like other countries do?