jenn_unplugged: (Resistance is futile)
It seems like there is some sort of organized campaign against breastfeeding these days. There are always the asshats who think it's gross and perverted to feed your baby the way God/nature intended, but in this case, the effort seems to have been spearheaded by women who breastfed their babies and somehow found it a miserable experience.

Okay, I get that BFing isn't for everyone, I really do. But why belittle those of us who not only BF, but who went out of our way to make it work by pumping to start or maintain our supplies? Why mock us for that commitment? Clearly Judith Warner had major issues with her own role as a BFing and pumping mom. Fine, whatever.

But if it weren't for the pump, I would never have been able to nurse Carter. At all. Ever. Breastmilk is more than just "best" for preemies; it saves their lives. In the city I live in, if the mother of a preemie doesn't pump, the doctors write prescriptions to get donated breastmilk for the babies. Since they started doing this, NO preemie here has died of intestinal infection -- and there are 5 NICUs in the area.

I was PROUD to pump for my baby, because it was the ONE thing I could do for him while he was hooked up to machines and living in a heated plastic box. It helped me heal from the devastation that is an unexpected premature birth. It helped me cope with almost 8 weeks of visiting my baby in the hospital before he could finally come home. It made me feel like a real mother, something I desperately needed.

So pumping was and is really, really important to me. Clearly Judith Warner has no idea what it's like to walk in my shoes. She makes good points about society needing to support working BFing moms more, but the idea that a breast pump is some sort of torture device that should be relegated to a horror museum (yes, she basically says that) demonstrates not only ignorance of situations like mine, but also the opposite of the point she thinks she is making.

But you know, things like this just highlight to me yet again how abnormal my parenting journey has been. That is often a source of pride for me, but sometimes it just makes me wonder how people can take their fertility, their health, and their ability to bring a baby into the world for granted like that. If you have no trouble getting pregnant, have a healthy, full-term pregnancy, and then go on to nurse your baby for years with no major difficulties, good for you. But remember that some of us didn't get to do it that way, and be grateful.
Have you ever noticed that boobs float in water? It's finally been warm enough to get in the pool a bit lately, and that is one of the first things I noticed. My mommy-boobs are totally perky in the pool, which is both funny and sad, heh. I wish I could find a comfortable bra that did that...

Speaking of boobs, I was just reflecting this morning that one of the cool things about nursing a baby at this age (14-ish months) is that it works like a reset button. Carter will be whiny and unhappy, and not wanting to be picked up or set down, and nothing is apparently wrong, and then just a few minutes of nursing will be enough to totally turn him around. He curls up in my arms and looks up at me and nurses, and I stroke his hair and his back, and just stare back at him. And then he'll sit up and smile, and wriggle off my lap and be ready to go play. It's like magic, I swear!

I know that moms who don't nurse have their own ways of accomplishing the same thing, but I really enjoy that nursing works so easily. It's like the lazy mom's duct tape. It fixes everything! :-)


Jan. 29th, 2009 09:50 am
Last night I had to throw out 2/3 of my stash of frozen milk. I noticed in the last few weeks that when I came home Carter had drank very little of the milk I'd left. I am only away from him for a few hours on any given day, so it wasn't a big deal. And then I just happened to taste the milk I was defrosting a couple of days ago,and it was rancid. You know how sometimes you reflux a little and digestive fluids come up into your mouth. It tasted like THAT. I felt horrible that I'd been trying to feed him rancid milk all that time! I should have tasted it sooner, but it smelled and looked fine, you know? :-P

Anyway, I did some spot testing in my stash, and ended up tossing about 2/3 of it. I'm not sure what happened, but everything that was bad had been stored in the garage freezer, so maybe the power went out at some point and it all defrosted enough to spoil a bit. At first I was panicked, because I only have about 40 ounces of good milk left in the freezer. But then I realized that it isn't actually a big deal. My supply is fine, and Carter still nurses like 10 times a day. If I'm away from him longer than 3 hours, I always pump, so I replace any milk that gets used. If my stash was much bigger, I wouldn't be able to use it all before it goes bad.

So I think I can finally relax about the milk stash, after a year of needing to see a freezer full of milk in order to be secure. It's okay, it really is. I won't be needing any large quantities of pumped milk until I teach classes this summer, and any milk I pump now wouldn't last until then anyway. And by then he'll be old enough that he won't need 12 ounces while I'm gone. Whatever I pump will be fine.

I feel like I've crossed some sort of threshold here.

One year!

Jan. 9th, 2009 12:06 pm
One year ago yesterday, Carter was delivered and whisked off to the NICU, while I spent the next few days in the ICU recovering from severe pre-eclampsia. Despite my begging and arguing, it took more than 24 hours for a pump to be delivered to my room, and so it was one year ago today that I started pumping.

It took more than 5 months to get him fully transitioned to nursing, but he never had more than about a teaspoon of formula. We're doing BLW, and so he is still basically 80% BF. I love the fact that he is made almost entirely out of ME, that every part of him is made mostly from my body. And now we have earned this:

Some SFW pictures under the cut. )


Oct. 30th, 2008 11:25 am
I usually pump twice on the mornings I'm on campus, around 8:30 and again at 11:30. I usually get about 9.5-10 ounces total from those two pumping sessions. But today? 12 ounces! What did I eat yesterday to boost my supply that much? Not that I'm complaining...

9 months!

Oct. 8th, 2008 05:05 pm
Carter is 9 months old today, amazing as that sounds. Which means we have almost earned this:

I didn't start pumping until the 10th, technically, but still. Nine months!
I was recently reading a parenting book (Baby Matters) that presented a lot of research about how bad cows' milk consumption is, and it was really compelling. You can read about it here, if you're interested.

I've never been a milk drinker; I just never liked the taste of milk. I like cheese and the occasional yogurt, but the main source of milk consumption for me is coffee drinks. I like my frappuccinos and iced mochas, and I love half-n-half in my morning cup. But I was sufficiently freaked out by the stuff I'd read to start trying soy in my coffee instead.

It turns out that I really like the soy versions of Starbucks drinks! Soy milk has a sort of a nutty flavor that really complements coffee well. In fact, I think I like the drinks more with soy than milk! I bought some soy coffee creamer to use at home, and that's still growing on me. I'm not so sure I'm ready to give up my half-n-half.

But the really interesting thing is that I can tell a big difference in Carter since I cut out even the small amount of dairy I was consuming. He went from being incredibly gassy, as he's been for as long as I can remember, to being only minorly gassy. I've read that dairy in the mother's diet can affect the quality of breast milk (and many women avoid dairy while breastfeeding for that reason), but WOW. The difference is huge!

So I'll be sticking with the soy for a while, I think.

As an aside, cheese is apparently not the culprit that milk itself is. It has something to do with the way the proteins have been partially digested during the cheesemaking process, IIRC. (?)
I saw this posted on an online forum and am passing it in. Since Carter was premature I had to pump to establish my milk supply, and then pumped for several months before he was finally able to nurse. As most pumping moms do, I learned lots of little tricks through trial and error to make sure my breasts got emptied every time, which is critical for building and maintaining supply. This linked video contains all the ones I learned and some things I wish I'd known. Awesome resource!


Jun. 15th, 2008 04:15 pm
Carter is doing so well at nursing without the nipple shield. I just did a pre/post weigh, and he got 4.6 ounces of milk in about half an hour! That's way more than he has ever taken from a bottle in that amount of time.

Needless to say, I'm thrilled! I'm down to pumping only twice a day, and we only use the nipple shield occasionally. We're getting there, finally. :-D
This is mostly crossposted from the baby blog, but I thought I'd embellish here.

FINALLY making some progress on breastfeeding, after four months... )
We've been home for about a week and a half now, and I feel like we're finally getting settled in. I'm amazed at how quickly I have adjusted to operating on very little sleep. Doug and I trade off as best we can, but I definitely take on most of the work since it's basically my job at the moment. Besides, I can't sleep for more than about four consecutive hours even if Doug is taking care of the baby, because I have to pump.

Breastfeeding is coming along slowly. We're still mostly pumping and bottle feeding. I have a scale and do pre and post weighs, but Carter seems to take just a third to half an ounce when he nurses. He'll then take two ounces from a bottle, so clearly we have a way to go. He's just not quite developmentally ready to take a full feeding by breast yet. He loves to nurse and works at it enthusiastically, but he doesn't yet have the strength to get a lot of milk. That should resolve itself in the next month or so. I hope it does soon, because all this pumping is getting old. :-P Still, producing a liter of breastmilk a day has benefits for me. I'm now 35 pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight, amazingly enough. Today I'm wearing a pair of jeans I haven't worn in a couple of years!

But other than figuring out the sleep thing, having Carter home has been remarkably unstressful. I think part of that is because he was in the hospital for so long. We got to learn how to take care of him under the watchful eye of the nurses, and so we were pretty confident about being able to do it on our own. I'll also credit all of the reading I've done on attachment parenting; it's really helped me keep everything in perspective. Carter is a sweet and snuggly baby, and we're slowly getting to know each other. He's 39 weeks now, so almost term. If not for the pre-eclampsia, I could be waddling around now and waiting to go into labor. Weird, huh?

I've got a blog set up for Carter at I decided to put it there because I wanted to use the privacy options of blogspot, which are different from LJ. Pics and video will generally go there, and I'll try to keep crossposting to a minimum. If you'd like to watch it just let me know and I'll send you an email invite. :-)


Feb. 20th, 2008 08:23 am
I've been waiting a long time to post one of these ribbons!

I've earned this for six weeks of breastfeeding. It was six weeks ago today that an LC rolled a pump into the ICU so that I could start pumping for Carter. I was still hooked up to a magnesium drip, so those first bits of colostrum are unusable, but only a few days later I was producing milk for my tiny boy. And look how far we've come! He's only had a few ccs of formula in his life, and if I can help it, it will stay that way. He's doing really well nursing, and we're on our way to a great start. :-D
My Mac, which I've been carrying around with me for a couple of months and using to keep up with life outside the NICU, had a fall and sadly is no longer with us. I am currently using a laptop with serious power issues, and it has to be plugged in all the time -- sort of a pain. This has slowed down my emailing and surfing of the web lately, but I will soon have a new laptop! It will take it a week to get here, but it will be all lovely and shiny, and I can't wait.

If you're reading this, you may be keeping up with Carter's progress on his Carepage blog. It's been great to have it, but I'm growing annoyed with the site. It's designed for people who don't have the time, expertise, or energy to maintain a real blog, and so it's fairly inflexible. When we get Carter home, I'll start him a blog somewhere else, and let that one stand as a record of his time in the NICU.

So the rest of this post is about me. :-D )
Everyone knows how great breastfeeding is for babies, and I also knew it was good for mothers too. But two benefits have caught me by surprise: big boobs and weight loss.

Seriously, I am wearing a D cup for the first time in my life! And I'm almost 25 pounds lighter than my pre-pregnancy weight, with no effort whatsoever. In fact, since I'm spending so much time at the hospital, I eat out almost every meal. I'm not eating badly, but you know, I'm eating restaurant food constantly. And yet my jeans are baggy. It's crazy!

Carter is almost ready to start taking his feeds by mouth, and I now put him to the breast when they start his feed (they put breast milk down a feeding tube through his nose). We need to work on his latch and he has a ways to go before he'll have the stamina to get a full meal by nursing, but I'm hopeful that we'll get there eventually. It's really cool to see his little eyes staring up at me while he nurses, though. :-)

Pumping is going well. I'm averaging about 25 ounces a day now, which is good considering that I'm exclusively pumping and started out very sick. I've worked very hard to get that supply so high, so yay me!
I'm not sure how old I was when I became aware of what breasts were actually for, but it was probably early -- I lived in the country and had seen plenty of animals nursing their babies. And even though I had never seen a human mother nursing her baby, I knew it was something I would do from a very young age. That was in the 70s, and breastfeeding was really only starting to be popular again.

So along with all my other plans for this pregnancy, my expectations for breastfeeding were pretty much thrown out the window when I very suddenly had a c-section to deliver little Carter at 29 weeks. As soon as I realized he would be coming sooner than we had anticipated, I started asking questions about breastfeeding a preemie. The lactation nurse I talked to assured me that my milk would come in just fine, and said that breast milk was the best option for preemies, just as it is for full term babies. It's even more important because of the immunity it provides preemies and because of its easy digestibility by a premature digestive system. In fact, the milk my body produces for a preterm baby is chemically different than the milk I would have produced for a term baby; it's suited for his needs as a preemie. Cool, huh?

The thing was, I'd have to exclusively pump. Maybe for months. That wasn't exactly what I'd imagined when I thought and dreamed about breastfeeding my baby. )

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