pumping

Our Journey

I wanted to write a post about my breastfeeding journey. I know it’s not a topic that everyone will be interested in, and I totally get that. If it’s not for you, feel free to skip this post. πŸ™‚ But I do know some people will be able to relate and honestly I want to share what has been going on in my life lately.

Breastfeeding wasn’t an easy journey for Logan and I. Admittedly I went into it thinking it was something easy. Just put baby on boob and that’s it. No one told me how hard it would be. The birthing class covered breastfeeding for maybe 20 minutes in one class and didn’t really discuss the hardships or struggles that could happen.

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The nurses at the hospital were great but not when it came to breastfeeding and when we left the hospital and met with a Lactation Consultant the first one I met was AWFUL. Truly awful and I left the appointment in tears. It wasn’t until Logan got his tongue-tie fixed a few weeks later and I started working with a different Lactation Consultant that we got things figured out and FINALLY breastfeeding became easy.

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But that first month? It was so so hard. Physically, emotionally. It was stressful. It was disappointing. It was heartbreaking (when it wasn’t working). I wish THIS part was discussed more for new moms because seriously, I felt completely unprepared.

I felt very alone, too. A few people in my life shared their struggles. One said she finally had to quit breastfeeding because it was making her obsessed and a little crazy. She said it was just healthier all around to switch to formula.

In that first week of Logan’s life we had to supplement with formula (with a syringe) and it broke my heart. I felt so defeated, deflated, crushed, angry, sad, depressed. I didn’t understand why it was so hard. All I wanted was to be able to breastfeed. Then I kind of made peace with it and realized it was more important for my baby to be FED, it didn’t matter how.

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Fast forward to recently. After months of successfully (finally) breastfeeding, we’ve reached another roadblock.

I’ve been slowly noticing a decrease in my milk supply. It wasn’t too alarming until recently when I both noticed my numbers dipping AND the frozen stash I’d had dwindled down to maybe 2-3 days worth of milk. I panicked.

I called the Lactation Consultant that was really helpful, Kim, and told her what was going on. She speculated that it could be a few things:

  1. Going back to work and pumping = making less milk.
  2. From the end of May-end of July Logan was sleeping through the night (and it was GLORIOUS! We’ve never felt so good and rested!!) but that probably effected my supply without me knowing it.
  3. Eating less calories/not drinking enough fluids, etc.

That all made sense. I was going longer stretches without pumping or feeding. When I was home I’d feed Logan on demand. When I was at work 2 days a week I pumped 3 times. But I wasn’t making enough to really freeze–just enough for the next day.

About a month ago we increased the bottles of breastmilk from 3.5 to 4 ounces each (hoping it would help him go longer between feedings and hopefully sleep through the night since the 4 month sleep regression–not so much). So we’ve been going through the frozen stash quicker. That’s when I noticed that the frozen stash was getting used so quickly.

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Kim had a suggestion for me. She said I could try pumping after every feeding–even if I wasn’t getting any or much milk in that session–for the next few weeks to see if that helped increase my supply. So for the last week I’ve been back to pumping like 4-6 times a day (I was pumping 1-2 times a day before, except at work).

I’m tired.

It’s been exhausting. And frustrating. To pump that much and not see much after a session sucks but I’m doing it to see if it works. I’ve been feeling run-down and like I was getting sick this past week but now I’m wondering if it was just exhaustion due to increasing pumping and maybe not eating and drinking enough to compensate?

Over the weekend I also started drinking some beer, to see if that helps. It may be an urban myth that beer can boost supply but I was willing to give it a try.

I’m going to make the Lactation Cookies again and see if that helps.

There are other supplements you can try. I’ve taken fenugreek a few times since Logan was born and it definitely works to boost supply but every time I’d take it (for about 2 weeks) Logan would be really gassy and fussy and spit up a lot. It just doesn’t agree with him so I’d stop taking it.

Kim, the Lactation Consultant that has helped me, also said that it was ok to supplement. She said formula was not the end of the world and if that’s what needed to happen it was ok, I was still doing a good job as a mom and Logan would be ok. It was nice to hear that from her and I think hearing that kind of helped me make more peace with the idea that we probably need to supplement.

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Logan starts daycare soon. I mentioned that I was having a really hard time with that and not having enough milk to send to daycare is also causing me distress. I know it shouldn’t, because supplementing will be ok–he’ll still grow and be healthy and happy…

We’ve started supplementing with some formula this week. Once a day or so we give him a bottle of formula. I found that if we do the formula early in the morning then I can pump and get a decent amount (the early morning pumping sessions are always a lot more than any other time of day) and I’ve been able to freeze a little bit. It’s still not a great number but I’m sort of making some progress.

Still having a hard time. I don’t want to end nursing just yet. He’s almost 6 months old and we plan on starting solids soon, in addition to the breastmilk. But there is something just so wonderful about the quiet time we have together.

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I know things will be ok and Logan will be fine. He’s growing and gaining weight (he’s still a little on the average side for weight, though) and even though he didn’t seem to like formula the first few times (he made horrible faces!) he’s ok now and drinks it without making faces.

Anyways. I wanted to share this because it’s something that is going on in my life right now, I’m definitely struggling with it all and I could use advice from anyone that had this happen to them! If you went through this and have tips, I’d appreciate them!

Figuring Out Normal

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I’d have to say that one of the more difficult things with a newborn is figuring out a new normal– trying to figure out a schedule, trying to figure out HIS schedule, and figuring out what things you can just let go of.

Logan is a hungry boy and after a rough start with breast feeding and having to supplement with formula for a few days, I am happy to say we’re now feeding him entirely breast milk. I’m definitely making enough milk that I even have some that I’ve had to freeze (which will be great for later). Maybe it was those lactation cookies!

One thing though, with all of his eating and pumping on such a frequent basis, it’s been difficult to eat regular meals and cook. I am so grateful that a friend set up a Meal TrainΒ for us and that friends have brought us meals! It was a serious lifesaver. If you know anyone in your life that is having a baby or medical issues or just needs assistance, this is such a great idea!

One friend brought us burritos one night. Another brought meatloaf and some fancy bread from a local Portland bakery and then a week later she brought us homemade turkey chili with her amazing cornbread.

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Another friend made us chicken enchiladas and salad (after a week of eating junk food and convenience food, veggies were divine) and some treats.

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Another friend made mac n’ cheese and brought us salad and BBQ from Podnah’s!

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One friend came by to meet Logan and brought me macarons. πŸ˜€

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People have been so amazing. It was such a relief to have tasty food for dinner (and with leftovers) — especially after a really long day when I was super sleep deprived and just plain exhausted. And the leftovers were brilliant when Michael went back to work and I had to fend for myself for lunches. Simple things like finding time to make myself lunch has been a struggle on some days! Who knew??

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So trying to figure out eating has been a struggle. I’ve been able to get a shower every day and leave the house for a walk. I’ve even gone on a few solo walks with Logan and Bella:

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Bella has been great on our walks! She figured out the stroller pretty quickly and is even more well behaved now than she used to be on walks. The weather has been pretty nice (last week it was even in the high 70’s and 80’s!) and getting outside to walk has done wonders. I love being home with Logan but at the same time it’s kind of hard to be in the house all day. I’m so used to having a busy schedule, suddenly not having “stuff” to do is weird. So we go for walks (sometimes twice a day if the weather is nice) and he likes the walks, too. It’s good for all of us.

In some ways I’m starting to get the itch to work out again. I definitely can’t swim yet. I think it’s wise to wait for my 6 week check up with the doctor before doing that. But I’m thinking I might be up to trying the elliptical at the gym soon. That’s pretty easy and low impact and I can’t imagine it would do any “damage” if I take it easy. The rest of it — weight lifting, running, etc, can also wait until I get cleared by the doctor. My doctor agreed. She said it was ok to try doing the elliptical and yoga again but not to do too much too soon.

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Also,Β our new couch arrived! I am so glad we got the couch and that it came at the perfect time because we spend a lot of time lounging on the couch with the baby, cuddling and nursing and just hanging out. The couch is great. We broke it in with all of us laying on the couch snuggling and watched Jurassic Park. πŸ˜‰

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Right now my days and nights kind of look like this:

 

1:00am – I wake up automatically pretty much like clockwork and Logan starts making noises that he’s hungry. I feed him, change his diaper, snuggle and burp him and then put him back to bed while I pump. Then go back to sleep somewhere around 2am (and some nights Logan decides he doesn’t want to go back to sleep).

4:30am – Logan gets fussy and wants his diaper changed and is hungry. Michael usually gets up and takes care of this one.

6:00am – Michael gets up with the baby while I try and get a little more sleep. He showers and gets ready for work and then puts Logan back in the bassinet next to me.

7:00amΒ -I usually start waking up around this time anyways. It’s time to pump again. Feed the baby.

8:00am – I try and eat breakfast. Some days Michael has time to make me breakfast before he leaves for work, which is really helpful.

9:00am – Baby and I both try and take a little nap. It depends on the day if this happens!

10:00am – He’s up and ready to play! Well, maybe not play so much as cuddle and look around at everything. I shower and do some chores. It seems like there is always laundry to do. And time to feed him and pump again (noticing a theme?).

11:00am – Logan, Bella and I go for a walk in the neighborhood.

12:00pm – Lunch time for both of us (usually him first so he goes to sleep and I can eat!).

1:00pm – More naps! I’m getting between 20-60 minutes of sleep at a time during the day, it just depends on how long he sleeps.

2:00pm – Logan, Bella and I go for another walk (weather permitting). Feed the baby and pump when we get back.

5:00pm – Michael gets home from work, takes the baby so I can either take another nap or do something for myself. I feed Logan and pump and then we start the evening routine. Dinner, more chores, watch some TV shows, etc.

8:00pm – The evening routine of feeding Logan and pumping and getting everything ready for that 1am feeding that is totally brutal. It’s the hardest part of the day–getting up at that ungodly hour!

9:30pm – Lately been trying to be in bed and asleep before 10 since I have to get up at 1am. Logan is pretty good about sleep for a few hours at this time and it’s made a huge difference!

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We saw the ENT specialist this week and he clipped Logan’s tongue tie. I’m already seeing a HUGE difference with feeding and I am optimistic that this will make things so much better. For one, I will be able to leave the house for longer periods of time if I’m not chained to the pump like I currently am. I am looking forward to just being able to feed him out and about. I’m already making plans with some friends and thinking of outings to get us out of the house and off the couch.

I’m sure our new “normal” will shift and change on a weekly, if not daily basis, but right now we’re making things work. Sort of! πŸ™‚ And I’m looking forward to getting back to some light exercise!