juthwara: (Chu)
This evening, we went to story time at our local bookstore, which turned out to be a bust because they were having a book fair for a local elementary school, resulting in rampaging hordes of children and interruption of regular programming. While we were waiting for coffee in the cafe, I sat down to feed James before we got on the road. I usually don't bother to use any sort of cover these days, mostly because a combination of James not caring for his head being covered and my forgetfulness in bringing one has meant that I've gotten pretty good at my "reach down my shirt, unhook my bra, lift shirt and pop baby on without flashing all and sundry" technique. I was a bit nervous about it in the beginning, but the sheer frequency that newborns need to be fed means I had to get over it pretty quickly if I ever wanted to leave the house. I've been lucky enough to never have anyone say anything negative or pay much attention to us, which is really how it should be. Babies need to be fed, and it's not my problem if anyone can't handle being reminded that there are breasts under my shirt, especially when they're not actually seeing said breasts. No one should be overwhelmed by the awesome power of my boobies.

So you can imagine how surprised I was when a woman hugged me from behind, thanked me for nursing in public and then handed me a card saying the same thing. It was a card from a breastfeeding advocacy organization, so this woman wasn't so lunatic as to make up her own business cards for to thank breastfeeding women for doing their thing, but really...well, okay. Um. Thanks, I guess?

I mean, I can see value in wanting to counteract the intimidation many women feel about breastfeeding in public because of the negative reactions they can experience. I'm torn between feeling gratified because breastfeeding even the easiest newborn is a hell of a lot of hard work and not wanting to encourage the implication that successful breastfeeding makes me a better mother than a mother for whom it didn't work out, or who didn't try at all. After all, I'm that mother (the one for whom it didn't work out) too.

But mostly, I'm just bemused that I now have a business card complimenting on my baby feeding choices. How... professional?
juthwara: (Default)
I've been mentally composing blog posts for the past two weeks, but never quite getting to it because of the many things in my life conspiring to prevent me from typing. In no particular order:

* Alec has been out of preschool for the past two weeks. We had known about last week, because his preschool year ended a week before his summer program starts. However, he wasn't able to go to his last week of preschool, for absolutely infuriating reasons. For the past couple months, he's had molluscum, an utterly harmless virus that causes painless bumps on your skin. There's no real treatment for it, except for unpleasant sounding things like freezing or scraping the spots, or medications that may or may not work after a few weeks. So unless there's a problem, you just wait it out. It's really common, and as I said, he's had it for a couple months. Unfortunately for us, it's on his face, and the preschool called us concerned about a couple of the spots the next-to-last week of preschool. We humored them and took him to the doctor (K had it in preschool as well, so we recognized it right away), who wrote us a note saying that it was harmless and there was no reason he couldn't attend school. But the preschool director saw that it was contagious and refused to let him attend, even after talking to our doctor on the phone. I would like to take this opportunity to point out that he almost certainly caught the virus at preschool, but as far as I know, there was no effort made to inspect any of his classmates to see if they needed to be sent home because they had this terrible virus. Just Alec, because he was unlucky enough to get the spots someplace visible.

So we need to find a new preschool for next fall, because aside from being nail-spitting mad, molluscum can last for months and it's entirely possible he'll still have it in September. I'm hoping that the drive to his summer program won't be too bad and we'll be able to send him there in the fall. It would have the advantage of removing the time pressure of getting him potty trained before the fall.

Meanwhile, he's been home for two weeks, and he's developing an advanced case of Three, mostly in the form of finding it funny to defy us. Summer camp starts next week and it can't come soon enough.

* I'm still working on the stupid homeschooling portfolio. It's turned out to be more complicated than I expected, because I stupidly didn't read the stupid guidelines closely enough and discovered that while I had been keeping a stupid book log, it was supposed to be a dated stupid book log. I feel dumb now. And I've been a bit busy fudging reconstructing the stupid book log.

We're meeting with the evaluator on Monday, so I have to have it done by then. I should, in fact, be working on it now.

* I'm beginning to suspect that James has reflux. It took a while, because he hasn't been doing the classic arch away during eating, although he's starting to get fussier during feeds. Instead, he's falling in a pattern of eat for half an hour, fall asleep and sleep for 10 minutes, wake up when the acid makes it too painful and want to eat again to soothe the pain. Repeat on endless loop throughout the day. I can usually get one longer nap in the middle of the day where he can be put down, and he's getting pretty consistent with an 8 hour stretch at night, which is saving my sanity. But other than that, it's me pinned to the couch all day long, feeding him endlessly and I find it difficult to type around him. I know he's getting plenty of milk, because he does an excellent Vesuvius impression (in addition to the copious emissions from the other end). Meanwhile, I'm going slowly crazy sitting trapped in one place while my two older children engage in spirited attempts to kill each other. He's getting fussy enough that I feel justified in calling the doctor on Monday instead of waiting until his next appointment, nearly two weeks away. I might develop bedsores if we wait that long.

* This isn't actually preventing me from typing, but it's weighing on my mind: shortly after getting home from the hospital, I got a call from my mother's main health aide saying she was in the hospital after a period of atrial fibrillation. As it turned out, one of the smaller arteries going to her heart was 80 percent blocked, and she was placed on medication to break it up. But she's been very low energy ever since, and when I discussed it with her aide when they were visiting that one doctor at the hospital said she was showing signs of the early stages of congestive heart failure.

So yeah, that's super fun. I've known for a long time that people in wheelchairs often live shorter lives. If nothing else, Mom has a perpetual UTI because she has a catheter. It's sent her to the emergency room a couple times, and I'm sure at some point she'll get sick with something else and it will rear up while she's weakened and make everything far more complicated. But being prepared for the possibility of my mother starting to develop life-threatening problems doesn't make it suck any less when it happens.

* Oh yes, did I mention I have a cold? That's super convenient right now.

So to sum up: I'm busy and stressed. But I'll try to find more time to type after the stupid portfolio is in.
juthwara: (Default)
Watching people wearing shorts coming into the library from frolicking in the park last weekend, it was hard to believe that we were closed three weeks before for a snow day. It's been gorgeous the past week (although less so the past couple days). Sunday, we found boxes of the most delicious strawberries for a reasonable price at Trader Joe's, grown in this hemisphere no less. Florida, actually, which falls in my zone of "not local, but at least within a day's drive." Better than California, at least. It was a reminder that it's not too long before we start getting good produce again locally, as the warm weather comes north.

***

I've been working on this entry for the past four days, with nothing more impressive than the above as my result. I don't know what it is lately - I sit down and the words just aren't there. I go through my days mentally crafting things to write and they go walkabout as soon as I'm in a position to type. It's always been a bit that way (I have some mental posts that I've been wanting to write since K was a baby), but it's worse lately.

I'm tired. The children have been off and sleeping badly since the time change. K has been extra... feisty lately, pushing boundaries in every direction. Alec is forcing us to be a lot more aware of baby-proofing, which is a lot harder this time around with an older child skipping around throwing up handfuls of choking hazards in her wake.

And I've been thinking a lot, about how much I hate pumping and I want to stop. I don't think I need to explain why exclusive pumping is a no-fun, very bad, extra spicy pain in the ass, do I?

Only I don't want to stop lactating. This presents...difficulties. I don't question that switching to pumping and bottle feeding was necessary, given that his suck was so weak that he wasn't gaining enough weight with a bottle with a newborn nipple. The fact that he gained 3 1/2 pounds the month after I switched to a faster flow nipple is proof of that. Even Dr. Sears says that dealing with a weak suck is very difficult and not likely to work out. I regret a bit not trying harder to get him back on the breast when he was three or four months old, when he was bigger and stronger, but still young enough that he probably could have been persuaded without too much difficulty. But as it turns out, I only have time and patience to do two out of the three: 1) take care of two small children, 2) pump, and 3) attempt to breastfeed. Since the first two weren't optional, the third is what slid off my plate more often than not.

So now I have a nine-month-old, and I'm torn between packing it in and searching the Web for any clue if it's possible to get a baby this old on the breast. Preliminary research says "Situation uncertain," although there are adoptive breastfeeding websites where people say they've managed to get an older baby to start nursing. What they don't really do is give good instructions as to how. It would be awfully nice to find some, if for no other reason than to be able to look at them and decide whether it really seems realistic or not.

So right now, I'm sitting here, not wanting to continue pumping but not wanting to stop because that would really be the end, and I'm not ready for that yet.

Moo

Sep. 25th, 2009 02:07 am
juthwara: (Alec)
One of the few advantages of pumping full time is that you know exactly how much milk your baby is getting. I typically pumped about 22-25 ounces a day with K, but she nursed over night so I never knew precisely how much she was eating.

With Alec though, I'm pumping it all, so I know precisely how much I make. I'm currently producing 28-30 ounces a day, which is almost a quart of milk a day. Moo indeed.

Mixed trio

Sep. 15th, 2009 12:05 am
juthwara: (Default)
1. So the amended budget relief bill has passed the House, with most of the amendments the Senate added stripped out. Now it falls to the Senate to pass or punt it. They have four days before layoff notices go out and three weeks before the city shuts down. I hope they can pull their heads out of their asses and compromise before then.

Meanwhile, I've realized a problem with the move back to Michigan plan is that if we haul all of our stuff back to Michigan, then [livejournal.com profile] longstrider gets called the next week to get offered his job back, he'll get kicked off of unemployment if he turns it down. Yet at the same time, our lease is up at the end of November, and I certainly don't want to get to February or so and run out of money only to be stuck with another 9 months of lease. So it's going to be a weird timing act balancing the likelihood of the crisis being resolved versus needing to move. Assuming it's necessary.

Sigh. I don't do limbo well.

2. We went to a church picnic Sunday and had a lovely time. There were four babies in church today and we had a good time talking with two of the other sets of parents. One of the babies was a day older than Alec and K had a great time playing with his 2 1/2 year old brother, so I'm hoping we might be able to get together with them.

We've had the worst time trying to meet people since we moved here. It's been a combination of weird work schedules that prevent us from going to the places where we could meet people, having a small child and bad luck. We perhaps haven't been as proactive as we could have been in following up on continuing to get together with people after having an initial social contact, but, well, our phone receives calls too, so it's not like it should all be on us. This is the first time in a long time that I've had multiple good, long conversations with people I'm not related to or have known for 15 years. It makes me hopeful.

3. Alec and I had a productive thirty minute nursing session tonight. It wasn't enough to fill him up - I eventually ended it because he was getting frantic and handed him off to his father for a bottle top-up. But I had pumped less than two hours previously and got only two ounces when I pumped again after feeding him when I would have expected at least four, and he drank only two ounces out of the bottle when a typical feeding for him is 5 1/2, so he clearly got quite a bit of milk from me.

It took a while to get up the will to try again. First I had thrush, then he developed painful reflux. And as it turns out, I felt so defeated after his one months appointment where he was only half a pound over his birth weight despite bottle feeding on demand that it took a while to get up the courage to trust that he would get any real nourishment. But as it turns out, I really hate bottlefeeding in the middle of the night and would give quite a lot to be able to breastfeed him in bed, especially when I find myself dropping the bottle on his face as I accidentally drift off and lose my grip. I also have the pressing dealine of wanting to be able to breastfeed him on the plane when we fly to California next month. Even if we have to give him formula as well, I really don't want to have to figure out how to pump on the plane and there's no way I won't have to relieve the pressure somehow on a six-hour flight. I don't feel the need to work towards exclusive breastfeeding; I like being able to hand him off to [livejournal.com profile] longstrider so he can do a late-night feeding or nudge him to get up with the baby in the morning. But the ability to breastfeed when it isn't convenient to pump would be the best of both worlds.

It seems like as I had hoped, getting older has increased his strength. I was reflecting today that it should have been a hint to me that when I was in the hospital, I was marvelling at the fact that my nipples weren't hurting at all despite all of the breastfeeding. I suppose they wouldn't if your infant isn't sucking on them with any real suction.

Near miss

Aug. 17th, 2009 10:58 pm
juthwara: (Default)
I spent most of Saturday feeling really tired, the sort that leaves you utterly unmotivated to move, let alone leave the house or fulfill your parental responsibilities. You would expect any parent of a seven week old to feel this way, even one so lucky as to have a spouse who let them go back to bed and sleep until noon that day. My right breast was hurting as well, but I didn't think much about that since I've been fighting thrush, which can cause shooting pains. Despite that, I hauled us to the park and back, and once we were home, took Alec into the bedroom with me to share a nap. When I woke up, I felt even more tired and I realized I was shivering, despite being under the covers and having a small heat extruder on top of me. So I took my temperature - 102. And then I looked at the breast that had been hurting and discovered it had a large red and blotchy spot. This was starting to look an awful lot like mastitis.

Argh. I debated calling the doctor, given the high likelihood that it would result in having to spend Saturday evening cooling my heels on the Group W bench in an inner-city ER. With that in mind, I decided that waiting 12 hours for antibiotics wouldn't kill me, and spent the rest of the evening alternating warm compresses and pumping. I'm just as glad I did, because while I still felt lousy when I woke up the next day, my fever was gone and the red spot was much smaller. I spent the day pumping frequently again, and today the redness is pretty much gone.

So apparently it was a mild infection that my body fought off on its own. Whew. But now there's the issue of what brought it on. The most likely cause is that I'm not pumping enough, which I'm not sure what to do about. I'm pumping just about as much as I can during the day. Occasionally I'll go too long when I probably could have fit a session in, but mostly I'm doing the best I can carving out pumping time while caring for a baby that won't be put down and a preschooler. The only real time to add a session is in the middle of the night, which everything I read on exclusive pumping says I should be doing but I haven't on account of it would kill me dead.

I'm not a good sleeper. It takes me a long time to go sleep and I wake up easily, but it takes me a long time to really be awake. And once I've been woken up and had to move around and be functional for too long, it takes me a long time to go back to sleep. It wasn't much of a problem when K was a baby because she nursed at night, so I just pulled her into bed and while I couldn't sleep through it, at least I was able to lie down and not be too awake. With Alec, I've mostly been able to give him a bottle lying down in bed, and while I occasionally lose my grip, it usually works fine and we're both back asleep within 45 minutes. If I have to get up and pump, the odds that I'm going to really wake up and have trouble going back to sleep are going to go way up. But if I don't do it and getting mastitis turns into a persistent problem, it's either going to be that or giving up pumping.

For the moment, I'm going to try to militant about not letting too much time go by during the day and making sure that I get up promptly in the early morning - I think part of a factor in the infection was that I was lazy and stayed in bed a lot longer than I should have both Friday and Saturday. Hopefully that will do.

What's clear is that bottlefeeding is definitely the right choice for now. When I switched Alec to a faster flow nipple, he went from drinking 20 ounces a day to 35. He's backed down to 30 now, since apparently he had some catching up to do for a while. But in three weeks he's gone from skinny little arms and legs to chubby, meaty limbs with deep creases at his wrists and a pleasing double chin. Instead of going and off the bottle and taking two hours of fussing and dozing to get a feeding down, he dispatches them in 20 minutes. Clearly he wasn't getting enough, and if he couldn't get enough food from a slow-flow nipple, he certainly wasn't going to do it through exclusive breastfeeding. I'd still like to try and get him breastfeeding part-time, but I've been reluctant to try when I'm trying to get rid of thrush. If that means our opportunity to get him back on the breast has passed, that makes me a bit sad but we'll survive. I'd rather have a chubby, happy little boy.
juthwara: (Default)
I've been mentally writing several different posts on our breastfeeding situation here as it has changed, but I think it has finally come down to this: without really intending to, I've wound up back with exclusive pumping, and I don't have a lot of confidence that that's going to change.

Initially, I had to pump because my supply had gone way down after a rocky start to breastfeeding and then a two-day separation when I had to go back to the hospital. So I would breastfeed him, then finish the feeding with a bottle and pump as much as possible. And it worked - he's almost completely on breastmilk for the past three weeks. But even after my supply was where it should be, he was still breastfeeding for over an hour, then requiring at least two ounces from a bottle. When you find yourself spending that much time breastfeeding and still having to bottle feed and pump as well, it starts to get really easy to just skip the breastfeeding and pump, especially when it means you can hand the baby off to someone else for a while.

Initially, I blamed myself, that maybe I had brought this on myself because I just wasn't dedicated enough. Then as I did more research, I discovered that it's just not normal for a baby to feed for over an hour and only take in an ounce or less. To take over an hour to drink a bottle, even with a slow-flow nipple, is even less normal. What it was adding up to is that Alec has a weak suck.

I added up weak suck to baby who started life at the 75th percentile and has dropped to the 20th by one month, who hovers at the lower bound of acceptable weight gain and eats the lowest amount of the average range of milk intake for his age. Then I switched him to a fast flow nipple and discovered that suddenly, the boy could eat, to the tune of increasing his intake by 25 percent. He also stopped constantly pulling away from the bottle and crying, a behavior that had me panicking over reflux but now is clearly because he was hungry but upset at how hard he had to work to get milk.

From the research I've done, dealing with a suck involves a lot of work and stress, preferably in close consultation with a lactation consultant. Well, our insurance doesn't cover a lactation consultant and we can't afford the cost of even one session, let alone an ongoing relationship.

I've decided I'm not ready to give up yet. I bought a cheap supplemental nursing system off of Ebay today, which will hopefully get Alec used to getting milk at the breast while still getting enough food. And if it doesn't work, I'm surprisingly not as bothered by that as I would have thought. I've pumped for a year before, so I know I can do it again. Alec is also not showing any sign of K's milk allergy, so if we have to switch to formula, we won't have the prospect of $30 cans of formula to pay for. I think it upset me a lot more with K because we had a working breastfeeding relationship that just completely fell apart. I really had hopes that things would be easier with Alec and even cherished hopes of extended breastfeeding into toddlerhood, but I'm finding it easier to let go of expectations of how things should be with him.

Pumping isn't fun, but the baby is getting fed, which is what counts. And if anyone wants to start waxing rhapsodic about how you can only bond properly at the breast or quoting me that stupid hierarchy of baby feeding where pumping comes in third after feeding from the mother and then using a wet nurse (as if that were remotely practical in our society), they're cordially invited to bite me.

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juthwara

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