Saturday, April 16, 2011

Adventures in breastfeeding - part II

Subtitle: pumping at school!

I really should have kept a journal during these last few weeks; I know there were other bumps in the road along the way (including googling 'I hate breastfeeding' one day) but amnesia has set in a little. I'll try my best to recap...

I believe I left off when baby was around 2 weeks old and I was trying to feed without the breast shields. The shields were great for transitioning us back from bottle to boob, but they get SO annoying to use, especially at night. They start to lose their suction power once they're sterilized a few times, so you end up fumbling to get it on as baby cries for food. I also think someone should invent a colored/ glow-in-the-dark breast shield - the clear ones kept getting lost all over our house! I was paranoid that someone would find one on our couch and be like, ewwww what is this???

It took a couple of days but I was eventually able to feed without the shields, around the time when my husband went back to work and I was on my own with baby all day. Much of that time is a blur but I know there were days when I just sat in our kitchen, holding the babe and sobbing... because I felt like I had NO IDEA what I was doing, feeling totally isolated and unsure I was doing it all 'right.' There were (and still are) times when the baby seems unsatisfied after feeding on both sides: crying, fussing and pulling at me in frustration. This was so stressful for me and it HURT at first, until I realized that it's his way of getting more milk and/or telling the boob factory to start producing more. Nowadays when this happens I just keep switching him back and forth until he is done, which seems to work.

I went back to school part time when the baby was 6 weeks old; a hard transition made easier by the fact that my mom is watching him at our house. My boss was really great about helping me set up a place to pump in a little storage closet near the lab; it's a tiny space but 1. the door locks behind me and 2. there's a big fan running constantly in the hallway so I don't have to worry about anyone wondering what that pumping noise behind the door is. At first I pumped every two hours, for a total of four sessions, but quickly realized I got the same amount if I pumped every three hours, three times total.

I don't get a lot out during each pumping session (nowadays about three ounces total) but I've read that's pretty common (Nice article here). What ends up happening is that I pump during the day, I fill four bottles after school for the next day, and supplement up to 3.5 ounces per bottle with formula. I breastfeed exclusively on my days off, and try to feed him right before leaving for school and right when I get home. A lot of the time I miss that 5:30 pm feed, so I have another pump set up at home and try to pump any time I miss a breastfeeding session. This has really helped me to generate a little breast milk cache to freeze.

Baby is now 11 weeks old and I'm happy to say things are running pretty smoothly (in the breast feeding department at least). I've fed him many times in the backseat of our car, and a few times out in public. He is sleeping with me at the moment, and I can now feed him laying on my side while half asleep. I try not to stress about the formula supplementation; I would love to breast feed exclusively but it's just impossible with me at school three days per week. Baby weighed 12 lbs 8 ounces at his last doctor's appointment (double his birth weight) and seems to be happy and well fed. My original goal was to make it to six months and I think it's totally feasible.

But of course with each challenge mastered there arises a new one, if not multiple new ones! Right now we're working on his sleeping 'situation.' He still eats every three hours or so, including at night. In fact, sometimes he eats more often than that at night, which I'm sure is because I'm right there beside him all night long. So at the moment I'm trying to let him go a little longer between feeds during the day by letting him fuss longer than I normally would, and I've started a little night time ritual - feed, bathe, massage, a book and then hopefully BED. Finally, I've introduced him to the wonderful world of his crib. Last week I put him in there during the day, just to hang out and see how awesome crib land really is. He wouldn't nap but it was a start. Last night after his book he slept in there for a few hours, and then I brought him into bed with me for the remainder of the night.

As I type he's asleep in the crib for his first nap of the day. I'm hoping to get him sleeping in there all night, with me sleeping in the room until he goes a little longer between feeds. Then maybe I can return to MY bed, and my snoozing husband. I'm learning that all of these things are just trial and error and I have to go with the flow and adjust when things aren't working. So we'll see...

Next up: adventures in cloth diapering. We have a consult today with Philly Diaper Service and I'm on board for a 12 week trial period.