Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pumped to Have Pumped (and to Have Stopped)

The Pookie will be one next Monday. (Can you believe that?) And it’s a good thing we are so close to his birthday, typically when babies get the go-ahead for cow’s milk, because I have not been pumping enough milk for him during the day for the last month. This time, pumping has not been as rough for me as it was last time, but I simply have not been pumping enough milk! Thankfully I had built up a pretty good freezer supply, because over the last month the Pookie has had at least one bottle of milk from the freezer a day.

The week before we went of vacation, I counted out how many bags were left and how many days until his one year appointment with the pediatrician, when I was hoping to the doc would say we could start him on cow’s milk. It was going to be close. But if I upped my pumping to 3 times a day, for 30-45 minutes each time and if I pumped over the vacation a few times, we could probably make it.

Of course, that didn't happen. Twice, I was able to pump 3 times, but even that didn't produce enough for the two 4.5 ounce bottles the Pookie takes a day. And on vacation? What can I say... I just didn't do it.

So this last Monday, my first day back to work after our vacation, I pumped twice for 30-40 minutes and got... 2 ounces of milk. Not even enough for ONE of his bottles. I was disappointed and frustrated and stressed. We were down to 4 bags of frozen milk. That would definitely NOT get me to his doctor's appointment next Tuesday.

I thought about what my sister had said, that there wasn't some magical thing that happens on their first birthday that makes them suddenly able to handle cow's milk. What if I started him on cow's milk a week early?

Tuesday morning, with my pumped cleaned and packed, I called the nurse at the pediatricians' office on my commute into work and asked her if it was okay to start the Pookie on cow's milk. We went through some factors, and she said it should be fine, give it a try. I called my hubby and the nanny, and gave them the news. His second bottle of the day was cow's milk, and he did fine.

I didn't pump all day! That was my very first day at work without pumping! I was done pumping for the second time, and it was wonderful. I will still continue to nurse him in the mornings and evenings, as I did with the Pumpkin, but it is so nice to not have to pump during the day.

Yesterday, I wore a dress to work! That was the first time in over a year that I was able to wear a dress to work (since my cute maternity dresses, which I actually miss a lot). In fact, that might have been the first time I wore a dress at all since the Pookie was born. I love dresses, and it was fabulous to be able to wear one again. Also? I have been wearing real! bras!

I'm so glad that I pumped for the Pookie. I am proud that we got through the whole year without needing to supplement, because that is a hard thing to do. In the last 9 months, I have been working on a client site, without access to the Mother's Room my company provides at it's main offices (which I was able to use for the Pumpkin). My desk is a cubicle surrounded by my mostly male coworkers.

I have been to numerous rooms, getting shifted around from whichever room happened to be available at the time. I've had to push and prod to ensure I (and the other nursing mom and soon-to-be-nursing mom) would have a private room with a lockable door where I (and we) could pump. I have pumped in rooms used for storage, surrounded by boxes and extra supplies. I have pumped with my shirt lifted up in freezing cold rooms, empty of everything but a desk and chair. I have pumped in rooms with windows whose blinds wouldn't shut all the way. I've had to figure out when a person with an office would be in meetings so I could use their office to pump. I've had to juggle my schedules and meetings around my pumping time. I've had to figure out what work I can bring with me to rooms that didn't have internet access. I've done a lot to ensure that I (and the other nursing women on this project) was able to pump my milk for my baby.

And I'm a lucky one. Everyone I work with, men and women, people with and without children, everyone supported me in this endeavor. Everyone worked to make sure I would have a place to go when I needed it, and that the place would NEVER be a bathroom or my car or my open cubicle. Even with this support and ability to find a place, it wasn't easy. It was a chore. It was sometimes painful. It would often disruptive of my work schedule.

But it was so worth it to me and my baby. I encourage all mothers to try to make it work as best they can. And I insist that all companies and employers make sure that nursing moms have the opportunity to make it work, and ideally make it even easy for them to pump. Not only does it feel great to have accomplished this feat, but the more women who figure out how to pump at work help it become more and more acceptable, which means that mothers returning to work can still provide what is the natural food and nourishment for their babies. And who wouldn't want that?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Water as a Force of Nature

Before leaving for vacation, I had told the Pumpkin that we were going “to the beach.” I realized as we were leaving, she thought we were going directly to the beach. We quickly explained that we were going to the “beach house” where we would spend our vacation, making trips to the beach while we were there.

Although we got that cleared up, there was still a lot of build up about going to the beach. So once we were there (it’s only a 2.5-3.5 hour drive), unpacked and settled in, I thought I would take the Pumpkin to the beach itself for a little while, leaving the Pookie behind with Londo to continue getting settled in. One of my BFFs and her hubby and son (who is the Pumpkin’s age) were staying with us for the weekend, and they had the same idea. In fact, they may have had the idea first. But the point is that we all drove the 10 minutes or less to the beach to stick our feet in the sand and our toes in the ocean.

We didn’t bother with bathing suits, since we weren’t planning on getting anything but our feet wet. No towels or beach chairs or beach toys came with us. It was already 4:30 or so, and we just wanted a little time at the beach to be at the beach.

When we got to the path through the dunes, we kicked our shoes off and reveled in the feel of our feet in the sand. We hurried down the path to the beach, shouting out that we saw the ocean as soon as it was in view. The Pumpkin was laughing and having fun with her friend, as I was with mine.

In moments, we were in the surf, standing and running about in the edge of the water in our shorts and bare feet. I showed the Pumpkin and her friend how to run and tag the water with their feet. My friend and her husband splashed around with us.

I turned and took maybe two strides from my daughter to put my purse and shoes down in the sand, out of the way of the water. I kept my eyes on my fearless, adventurous daughter, and was just straightening to go back to her side.

As I watched, a second little wave crept up over another one which was receding. At the same time, my daughter hopped on one foot, turning, twisting, playful and having fun. The second wave was more forceful than it appeared, and my daughter was less balanced than she should have been.

It knocked her right over. Swept the one leg she was standing on right out from under her. Tumbled her onto her back. Started to pull her with it as it receded. Tugged at her, while she flailed her arms and legs, unable to get purchase on the wet, moving sand.

And it might have succeeded in taking her into the next wave, about to crash down. But I was RIGHT THERE. In the heartbeat of a second it took to knock her down and start to tug her away, I was there, grabbing her up into my arms. Into safety.

I’m not sure how to adequately describe how quickly it happened. From the moment I saw the her start to fall, I took two large strides and was pulling her up. And yet, in that short amount of time, she was knocked down, unable to get up and starting to be pulled into a very dangerous area of the water where all the waves crash. In a SECOND it all happened. But also in a second, I was there getting her up and comforting her.

Was it the force of an unusually strong-but-small wave? Was it that she slipped because of the shifting sand? Was she simply teetering anyway while she hopped and turned? I have a feeling it was a combination of all those. It was just one of those freak combination of factors that turns an innocent moment into something that could have been tragic.

It totally scared the CRAP out of BOTH of us. Do I need to tell you all what scenarios passed through my head in that instant? The scenes that keep popping into my thoughts, though I quickly push them out? The thoughts about rip tides and undertows and what if I had been more than two steps from her? I think it’s best I don’t, that I keep pushing those thoughts away.

She was crying, scared and so very upset. She didn’t know that the water could do that. That it could be so unpredictable, dangerous, a Force of Nature. We all quickly headed back to the car. In addition to being shaken up, she was also wet and cold.

I stripped her down, standing in the back of my Highlander. But we had no towels in either of the cars, no change of clothes other than the spare pair of her underwear I had in my purse. I was ready to rip my shirt off and drive back in my bra, so long as my child was comforted by being in clothes. Luckily, my friend’s husband had a jacket in the car, and my friend had a box of tissues. I dried her off with tissues, put on the pair of underwear and the way-too-big-but-dry-and-warm jacket, hugged her and quickly got her into her carseat.

On the way back to the beach house, she said things like she didn’t want to go back to the water or the beach. I was able to turn it around, so that she knew we weren’t going then, but would go back the next day. I played up how I would show her to “stand strong” against the water so it wouldn’t push her down and how to keep her feet from slipping when the water was moving. I told her she didn’t have to go back into the water if she didn’t want, but that Mommy (and Daddy) would always be right there with her to pick her up. Wasn’t I Right There? Of course! And we could hold her hand or hold her while we go in the water.

Thankfully, it worked. After a bath together to get the sand and salt off of her, she was talking about how we would go to the beach the next day and all the things that she would do. Even though the water scared her. And we did. We went back to the beach for full Days at the Beach 3 more times.

And although it was one of the scariest things in the world to me and her and although I hate to see my daughter scared of the water, this incident actually served a purpose. It instilled in her a healthy fear of the ocean. After she readjusted to being at the beach and playing in the surf, she enjoyed the beach, the sand, the waves and the ocean--but did not run into the water carelessly or fearlessly.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Question of the Week - Coming Back from Vacation

Did you all miss me? I was on vacation all last week! We went to the beach, which is my favorite place to vacation. I had only intermittent internet, and barely had time to even touch the computer. But that was a nice break for me as well.

I thought I would have time to write some posts offline, posts which have been percolating in my brain for months. And I did write one, which I will probably post later this week. But only one, not the half dozen or more I expected to write. Instead, I spent a lot of real quality time with my kids, my husband, and my parents, as well as my best friend and her family for half the week and my sister and her kids for the other half. It was a great trade.

I’m getting back into the swing of our regular routine. It always takes some time to do so, for me, Londo and the kids. I can’t even remember the last time we had a whole week vacation. Did I take a whole week with the Pumpkin when I was pregnant two winters ago? Possibly, but it could have been a long weekend. Other than that, it would have been the beach vacation two years ago (we didn’t go last year because I was only a couple weeks from my due date with the Pookie during our timeshare week, and I was not willing to chance going into labor while away from my docs and hospital). This was definitely the first whole week vacation since the Pookie was born and the Pumpkin started pre-school.

This week’s question of the week is:

What is the hardest part about getting back into your regular routine after being away from it for a long period of time (a week or more)?

I think for us, it’s probably the sleep, although the readjustment here is in large part to the allowances we had to make to all stay in the same room for a week. We had just been getting the Pumpkin to go to sleep by herself (that’s one of the posts I didn’t get to write yet), and the Pookie was doing really well sleeping through the entire night—and even when he would wake up and fuss, he would usually get himself back to sleep after a few minutes of fussing. Fussing that could have woken the Pumpkin sleeping in the bed with us.

So you see the issues. The Pumpkin was co-sleeping with us, and Londo had to lie down with her to ensure her going to sleep quickly and quietly. Meanwhile I nursed and rocked the Pookie into deep sleep to put him down, and I or Londo would quickly get up at any fussing to quiet him back down and get him back to sleep. These were big set backs, bigger than usual considering the progress we’ve had with both kids, which I will write about soon.

Luckily, our week at the beach is from Friday to Friday, so we had the weekend to help us get back on track in so many ways. The laundry is done, and just needs to be folded and put away. The dishes are… well… manageable, after cleaning out the fridge (holy smokes, there were some gross stuff in there!). We were able to go grocery shopping on Saturday and even make dinners Saturday and Sunday night! What a difference to have the weekend to help us get back into the swing of regular life.

What about you? How do you get back into your regular routines? Any tricks for the really hard stuff? What do you find the hardest about coming back to real life?