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Saturday, June 20th, 2009
Well, I finally made the decision. I’m quitting pumping!
I knew that I needed to quit. It was making me crazy. I was pumping eight times a day, for 15-20 minutes each– that’s between 2 and 3 hours of pumping a day. It was uncomfortable and mechanical and to tell you the truth, I was starting to resent my baby a little bit. I was measuring my worth as a mother in ounces pumped. It was kind of a sickness. And I’m done with it.
Since I’ve made the decision, I’d say I feel about 90% relief and 10% guilt. Making the decision was the hardest part. I was just hanging on because I was hoping that she might grow out of her reflux enough that I would be able to nurse her again, but the GI has told me that is unlikely. And, I needed to wait until I could feel more relieved than guilty. If I could have kept nursing, I would have gone the full year. And I know some moms keep pumping if their babies can’t nurse for whatever reason. But I’ve come to terms with the fact that I just am not one of those moms. I’m okay with that now.
So, I’ve dropped down to three pumps per day, and over the next two weeks I’ll drop the other two. I’m hoping to be done by the time she’s five months old. I need to go slowly since I am so prone to mastitis– I’ve already had it three times. (The last pump to go will actually be our early morning nursing session, which I am really not supposed to be doing anyway… that is the one I will really miss.) I feel a little bit sad, but mostly I just feel free. No more hooking myself up to a machine. No more trying desperately to keep up with her demand. I just started weaning yesterday, and I already feel like I am enjoying her more.
Some of my friends told me I should smash my pump, Office Space-style. Haha. If I had quit anytime before now, I probably would have wanted to. But now I just feel good about it. I did the best I possibly could have done, and I’m at peace with it.
Thank you to all who have offered me support since my last post. I can’t tell you how much it has meant to me.
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Tuesday, June 16th, 2009
I debated about whether or not I should blog about this, because I know that some people I know in real life read my blog. But I guess I’ve blogged about every other aspect of my pregnancy/motherhood, and what I’m about to say really isn’t anything to be ashamed of, so, here goes.
I’ve been feeling really crappy lately. I’m not sure when it started. I was feeling okay for awhile, or maybe I was just too busy and worried about Caroline to notice. I also kind of assumed that it was just a situational thing, because I had to make such a big adjustment in moving from school to staying at home, and all the other changes having a baby brings to your life. And, you know, it’s pretty isolating to stay at home with a baby when all of your friends are either far away or in an intense dental program… and none of them are even thinking about having babies of their own.
It wasn’t just that, though… ever since we brought Caroline home from the NICU, I’ve been having nightmares. Horrible dreams that she’s dead in the bed with me. I wake up several times a night from the same dream, digging frantically in the blankets for her because I’m convinced that she’s in there. And I think about the NICU and the midnight transfer in the ambulance all the time. I still cry about it every day. It was a traumatic experience, for sure, but still feeling like this just doesn’t seem normal to me. I was hoping that all this would go away with time, but it just… hasn’t.
So, I was going to my OB today anyway because I was having an issue with my IUD. I brought up my concerns with the nurse practitioner and she left the room for a long time. When she came back, she told me that the OB on call wanted me to go to a psychiatrist across the street, and that they could see me immediately. I went over there, feeling kind of like I had done something wrong and lost my recess.
I talked to the psychiatrist for a long time, over an hour. When she was done asking me questions (questions that included things like “can you tell me today’s date” and “what do apples and oranges have in common”… ummm… I’m not that far gone, lady), she put her clipboard down and said:
“I think you have moderate to severe postpartum depression. You went through a very traumatic experience, what with having your new baby in the hospital in uncertain condition, right in the middle of a mess of postpartum hormones and physical pain. You’ve had to continue struggling with her health and weight gain, and to give up breastfeeding for a much more mechanical, demanding way of feeding her. You’re continuing to torture yourself with all this pumping in order to try to live up to this unattainable ideal that our society has of the perfect mother, who gives her baby breastmilk, no matter what. You had to suddenly leave your program and all its activity and human interaction to stay at home with your baby, with no friends who understand what your new life is like. On top of it all, your pregnancy was unexpected, you say you were an anxious person to begin with, and depression runs in your family. How could you not be depressed?”
Well. I have to say, she heard me. It felt like a huge weight was lifted, that somebody understood me. I’ve sort of brought it up with Tyler and my mom, but Tyler just said “she’s healthy now, why is it still bothering you?” and my mom just gave me a look that I couldn’t quite read. So, it was such a relief just to have someone tell me that it was okay to feel sad. In general, I try not to think about any of that, because I don’t have time for self-pity and it doesn’t do anything for me anyway. But clearly ignoring it isn’t helping, so I have to try something else.
She suggested that I start two medications, check in with her over the phone while we’re in ND, start counseling once we get back, and quit pumping. I told her I was fine with all of that except the pumping, and that I just can’t quite do that yet, I’d feel too guilty. She went over to her desk, handed me a picture of a really pretty girl about my age, and said “this is my baby. I had to quit breastfeeding her after one month. And you know what? She’s fine. She’s great. How you feed your baby is just one tiny part of being a good mother. You’ve done everything you can for four months… do what’s best for you, but also know that maybe it’s time to give it up in order to focus on all the other very important pieces of the puzzle.”
So, that might be happening in the near future, I haven’t decided yet. All in all, I’m so glad that I said something to the nurse at the OB. Maybe the medication will help me feel more like myself. All I can do is try it, right? So… wish me luck!
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Sunday, June 14th, 2009
I am the worst blogger around lately. I’ve been keeping you all in the dark about the following important pieces of info:
- Caroline had her 4 month appointment and she is back on the growth curve! 23.5 inches (25th percentile), 11 lbs 6 oz (10th percentile), something-or-other for her head (50th percentile… I had the mumbly nurse and couldn’t understand her). We also had a GI appointment in preparation for leaving for the summer, and they decided that even though she’s back on the curve and doing well, we’re going to keep her on the high-cal bottles.
- Latest developments: she’s rolling both ways, laughing, and putting everything into her mouth. Including her feet, which makes diaper changes rather challenging. I also just put all her newborn and 3-month clothes away and got a little choked up over her teeny tiny sleepers. Here she is, with her funny patchy hair, at the pool a couple weeks ago.
- We’re leaving in a week for North Dakota and we won’t be back until mid-August. If you’ve been reading for awhile, you know that Tyler is a grad student in paleontology and he does his field work out there. This year Caroline and I will be accompanying him. We’re renting a house down the street from where Tyler’s parents live. I’m excited to spend time with my sister-in-law and my two nieces, since I have zero mommy friends here.
- #3 means, of course, that this summer I will be even more of a slacker blogger than I usually am. We’ll have internet at the in-laws’ house, but otherwise we’ll have no access to technology. Cell phones don’t even work out there!
I want to write a longer and more fun post about my newest obsession (cloth diapering!) but I’m too tired tonight. Hopefully I will get to it tomorrow– just wanted to post a couple of updates and let you all know that I am still alive and kicking.
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Thursday, May 28th, 2009
We went back to the GI today… always a fun experience. Let’s split it up into the good news and the bad news.
Good news: We only had to wait about 5 minutes before the nurse called us in. Last time we waited over an hour and a half.
Bad news: Some lady in the waiting room asked if I was there for me, or for Caroline. It’s a children’s hospital. BURN!!!
Good news: Caroline is almost two pounds up from when we first were referred to the GI! The doctor said she had even exceeded their expectations for her weight gain.
Bad news: I still have to keep waking her to feed and forcing as many ounces as I can into her poor little belly. I am freaking exhausted and haven’t slept more than a couple hours at a time in weeks. Also, I am permanently bruised from my pump. You’re welcome for that mental image if you know me in real life.
Good news: The nutritionist gave me new, higher-calorie recipes for her bottles so that I can skip a nighttime feeding.
Bad news: I’m not allowed to add more nursing sessions in place of pumping sessions. I asked if I could, and the doctor told me that she considered my nursing sessions to be “comfort only”, since Caroline’s reflux is so severe that literally everything comes back up unless it’s pumped, thickened with rice cereal, and bottle-fed to her.
Seriously? It sucked a lot to hear that. I worked insanely hard at breastfeeding for many weeks because I thought it was best for her. Turns out it doesn’t even count towards her nutrition in the doctor’s eyes.
So I guess that’s pretty much it for nursing. I’m sad about it, but I’m trying to look at it this way: at this point, my desire to nurse is really just selfish. It’s easier and more convenient than pumping, and I enjoy that closeness with her. But it’s obviously NOT what is best for her. So, I just have to pump for as long as I can to give her as much breastmilk as I can… and beyond that, it’ll be formula. I definitely want to reach at least six months (just two more), and then I’ll reevaluate after I meet that goal.
And honestly, I am just happy that her issues are this easily solved, and that she’s doing so well. So I guess that’s the best news of all. [:)]
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Tuesday, May 26th, 2009
It’s been awhile since I last posted! But in my defense, I had a bazillion people visiting this week for Caroline’s baptism, and they kept me pretty busy.
First of all, Caroline’s weight gain has been awesome since I switched to pumping to thicken her feeds and started waking her up to eat. At her last weight check (almost a week ago), she was 10 lbs 1 oz! So she gained over a pound in just one week. I was so incredibly relieved. I think I might have lost it in front of the pediatrician (again) if she hadn’t gained anything after working so hard at it all week long.
This has been pretty hard on me, I’m not going to lie. I worry so much about her, and Tyler has been gone for most of this month (he’s gone again as of yesterday, but will be back tomorrow). I was pumping every 3 hours around the clock for awhile, which is exhausting. I used everyone’s tips on how to increase my supply (thank you all so much!)… I did end up bringing my supply up enough that I’ve reduced the amount of formula she needs by about half. I’m hoping that the GI will let us add more nursing sessions (right now we’re at 2 per day) if her weight gain still looks good when we go for our follow-up this week. It’s definitely nice not to have to change both of our outfits every time she eats!
Then, in the middle of all this, we had Caroline’s baptism. Tyler’s parents, brother, sister-in-law, and their two little girls came out for it. Everyone except his parents stayed with us in our tiny apartment… it was very chaotic. They left yesterday, and I am still tired. It’s just kind of stressful to have to do all that pumping while trying to be a good host/wife/mom to 6 adults, a toddler, and two babies– all in a very small space. Especially when the toddler keeps busting in on you while you’re pumping and then runs away, leaving the door wide open for your father-in-law to walk by and check out the dairy-farm action. Sweet.
Well, that’s about all I have to report for now. It’s a relief to have things seem to be looking up for my little one. I’ll leave you with a picture of her after her baptism, on her great-grandma’s lap– check out that (newly) chubby arm!!
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