Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Breast Pumping - a tiny memoir

At your baby's birth a nurse comes in,
chanting the mantra "breast is best"
and before you know it, she's got your baby
and pushing his face toward your chest.

He huffs and puffs, breathes in, breathes out.
Frantically looking for his food source
and the nurse's cold hand is on your boob -
something natural, she's trying to force.

You get the latch, there's a suck or two
then baby says "I'm done with this"
But you know he wasn't fed enough -
from "cradle" to "football" you try to switch.

You take him home and begin to plead,
harness your chi, say some curses,
"To hell with this!", you finally say.
No wonder the Tudors had wet nurses.

You invest in a pump to measure your goods,
finding comfort in each milliliter
and all of a sudden your finicky boy
has turned into quite the eater.

You may think "nipple confusion" is just a myth
but your newborn is no fool.
"The boob," he says, "is too much work,
but this bottle she's got is pretty cool".

So you resign to pump exclusively,
which once you accept, brings peace of mind.
You can see your output, plan ahead, and
some solace you start to find.

BUT the pump is not all peaches!
You're at the mercy of this machine
and between the cups, the tubes, the pumps,
the Mandela Freestyle is cruel and mean.

You put your nipples in a vice,
not once a day and more than twice.
Pulled and stretched, the milk "plunks" down
to the rhythmic sounds of the device.

Expelling the food from your knockers
like a million tiny mammograms
You begin to question your sanity,
putting your bosoms in such a jam.

You watch your supply collect.
Two ounces, three, four and growing
and even though your tatas hate you,
there is comfort in knowing

your giving baby what he needs,
enough to keep his tummy round and full
so you wake up at night, lift up your shirt,
and give your nips a little pull.

Austin's Christmas Gift to his Grandparents 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Venturing Out

Once you get home from the hospital, you will spend your first few days in a "rot spot". Whether this spot be on your couch, in a favorite chair, or in your bed - you will be at the beck and call of your baby, especially if you are breast feeding. You will also have little reason to brush your hair, put on anything but sweat pants, or look presentable in any other way. Clearly, your "downstairs" will still be pissed off at you for various reasons and your movements will be limited so, at first, this sedentary life style will work; however if you are like me, it will also wear off quickly.

After a week or so you will start to look for reasons to put on pants and leave the house.You may even resent your husband as he goes about his day, goes to the gym, and has happy nether-regions. This is not good. Find some place to go - even if its just for a half hour.
Austin's first outing was to Target with my mom and me. It was good for both of us to get some air, break in our over priced stroller, and move. You will still protect your baby from onlookers who want to peer over the stroller and gawk at your baby. You don't want him to get infected by anything and you are convinced everyone has something to contaminate him with.

You are also supposed to wait 6 weeks before exercising but I am vane and shallow and didn't want to wait that long. By November 9th, I got my butt into the garage and created some hybrid heavy bag/kettlebell/ tae-bo work out. I was pleasantly surprised with my performance and became a much better person to be around in the house. Clearly use your judgment and listen to your body as you work out, but if you are like me - endorphins are a wonderful thing. Since then, I have increased my workouts and yesterday I was able to run 6 miles at a decent clip  and my uterus didn't fall out. (sshh - don't tell Dr. B)

This leads me to my next mini-rant.
I chose not to gain 80 pounds during my pregnancy. I gained 22 - 7 1/2 were baby and about 8 were miscellaneous fluids and gunk. This left me about 7 pounds to lose once I got home. Good news! Maybe I could have cheated more - I never did get the carrot-cheesecake muffin I promised myself at the 7th month mark - but I chose not to because I am shallow and didn't want to be a fat mess. This said, I'm sorry Jessica Simpson got huge but that was her decision. I don't need to see her and all these other celebrities all over the place with their post-baby bodies. If you exercise during your pregnancy, make smart choices, and work your ass off afterwards (literally), you can wear your pre-pregnancy clothes home from the hospital. I was able to do it without a personal trainer, a nutritionist, a Weight Watchers endorsement, or paparazzi.
There is more I can say on this topic, but I am going to move on.

Once you know you can put on your pants, you will want to go out and socialize with the world. My first adult outing was bridesmaids dress shopping. This was an excellent idea as well as a not so excellent idea. The morning of the 10th, I was so excited to blow dry my hair, put on make up, and not talk in 3rd person. As I drove up the Garden State Parkway, I felt like Thelma or Louise, minus the cliff. I love my son dearly, but there is something to be said about adult conversation and applying foundation. It was so nice to see my friends, feel clean, talk about something other than poop, and look at bridesmaid dresses with one of my absolute favorite people in the world.

I was resigned to just offering my opinion and not trying anything on since some of my parts were still soft and others were still angry; however when a bride-to-be finds a dress she loves, a dutiful bridesmaid tries it on. The dress was beautiful but the lighting in the dressing room was not. It's also not easy when one of the bridesmaids is a fabulous 5'9 and itty bitty and another is my height, but also itty-bitty. Even though I was back in my jeans, somewhere between hormones, the industrial sized pad in my undies, and my extra cushion, I was not the bridesmaid goddess I had hoped to be. At this point, I started to feel sad. Mommy-guilt started to kick in and it was time to go home. In hindsight, I took on a little too much too soon and should have started with a lunch or a walk and waited before trying on clothes and getting measured. Lesson learned.

First Thanksgiving! 

Bringing Baby Home

I intended to write this a week after Austin's birth - then a week turned into two - and now its been over a month BUT here I am with a few minutes to spare for an update. There are a few things I want to cover in this post so it may be broken into a few sections - starting with the first nights home, maternity leave, venturing out, and a few little firsts.

At the hospital, as much as the nurses come and go - your baby also seems to sleep more often and less fitfully. Then they release him to his parents, who naively expect this sleep pattern to continue at home, and he becomes bionic in his baby strength, baby arm-flailing, and baby lungs. One thinks babies cry because they are hungry or dirty, but at bedtime there is a whole arsenal of sounds they can pull from. There is the wimper, the grunt, the fart, the fart-wimper, the pre-cry, and the full fledged breakdown - among others. If you can catch him at the pre-cry, you may have a shot at soothing him in a reasonable amount of time and putting him back down in about a half hour but if you miss that opportunity and don't respond in time, you could find yourself shushing, feeding, bouncing, and pleading for 90 minutes. I don't know how the nurses do it in the hospital, but the joke is on you when you get home and think you can just put your baby to bed.

The hospital pediatrician suggested we sleep with Austin in our room for the first 6 months. 6 months!! Long story short, this lasted 2 weeks. When your baby is in your room, you hear every single sound - most of which mean nothing but still have you out of bed checking on him. Then, when he isn't making a sound you assume he isn't breathing so you are out of bed again to make sure he is still breathing. Between the sounds and non-sounds, you clearly aren't sleeping. Also, we do not live on the salary of a pediatrician therefore its not like Austin is in one wing and we are in another. His room is 10 feet from ours so monitor or not, we can still hear all the things we need to and everyone is much happier about life.

DJ and I found solace in swaddling or "taking away his arm privileges"  as we called it. Babies tend to wave their limbs erratically in their sleep, often waking them from the slumber you worked so hard to achieve. Don't undo your hard work and swaddle the heck out of your little one. He will look like a silly little burrito person, but that's ok! Its definitely worth it. Also, you have to put a little muscle into it, since you have to pin your babies arms down at his side - but remember this could equal an extra hour of sleep. Priceless.

Also! At the hospital, allow the nurses to take your baby for a few hours. These will be your last nights of sleep for a few months and relish in them. Plus, as the mommy, you have so much other stuff going on between your hormones, your boobs, and your angry girl parts - not having the extra worry while you are trying to take a pee is worth it. DJ and I didn't know any better so we had Austin with us 90% of the time - which was beautiful and loving of us, but  again - blissfully ignorant.