So… Not sure anyone cares or needs this, but the new (If last October still counts as new) blog is called Searching For My Voice. It’s at www.searchingformyvoice.wordpress.com. You’re welcome to follow the (increasingly sparse) breadcrumbs or friend me on FB – I’m at Facebook.com/Bree.Davidson. Just send a comment with your friend request so that I have enough context to support/cheer/laugh/commiserate with you.
Rilo is eight months today. I don’t have the energy right now to write a big eight month post, so instead I’ll share a perfect moment.
Most of yesterday was less-than perfect. Rilo woke up too early and refused to be set down even for a second. This threw off the normal morning routine that Kyan and I have built together, and I was cranky about it. I skipped my shower to give him more attention, but when I set him down while I hurriedly dressed, he screamed his head off. He continued to crank through our morning drive (45 minutes counting school dropoff). Even before I started work, the day was shot.
It was a sucky day at work capped off by a monster traffic jam on the way home, again with Rilo in the car. What normally takes 40 minutes took 1:38.
When’s the perfect moment coming, you wonder? Now.
Not only did Rilo sleep like an angel through the entire frustrating traffic jam, but when I got him out of the car at home, he looked at me with big eyes, then very deliberately hugged me. I stood in the driveway with my little guy in my arms, and enjoyed a perfect moment.
I like eight months. And I love hugs.
I’m a baby person. I love when they’re eensy weensy. I’ve been known to hold a sleeping baby for hours, responding to each sigh and snuggle like it’s a little tiny hug.
My baby isn’t eensy any more. He’s more like a middle-aged baby. Suddenly he’s giant and semi-mobile (not crawling yet, but not staying put either) and so incredibly engaging. He is going to be a funny kid. He laughs a lot already. He has a special playfullness reserved for Michelle alone. Kyan is without a doubt his favorite entertainment, with her tried-and-true comedy routine called Here I Come. (All she has to do is walk towards him and he chuckles and snorts.) And I am the go-to mom for snuggles and love.
I think I’ve mentioned before how much I like mothering the second time. It’s stunningly easier this time, mostly because I’m so much less worried than last time around. I trust that I’m a good enough mom and follow my instincts. I can sit back and watch Michelle be a fantastic mom without being jealous. I notice that we don’t hover over him the way we did with Kyan, and I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing. I trust that Rilo will thrive, even when he gets a cold or bumps his noggin on the (carpeted) floor.
There are certain parts of life that are much more challenging because we have another child. We have to be conscious of our spending in a way we’ve never had to before. It takes us a dog’s age to get out of the house these days, so we aren’t having as many spontaneous adventures as in summers past.
But those challenging parts just melt away when I see the smile in my little man’s eyes. Can you see it?
Here’s the look he saves for Mommy. It melts my heart to watch them together. Every time.
This is a poor little rich girl sort of post, so if you’re in a bad place and still in the TTC trenches, feel free to skip it. Nothing groundbreaking here.
One of Michelle’s exes is pregnant with twins and just announced their genders (a boy and a girl).
Guess who’s jealous? I’ll give you two guesses plus a hint: it’s not me.
It turns out that Michelle, despite her very real reservations about my TTC process (she was skeptical that it would work, she was worried I’d lose my rabbit-ass mind, and she dreaded the doubling of our childrearing expenses), misses the thrill of expectation. And the planning. And the attention, even.
“It feels weird to be done, and I kind of miss it,” says she.
In another reality, I would have jumped in with “Let’s do it again!”
And yet, I’m done. Really truly done. But it DOES feel weird. And I do kind of miss it.
I find that I still put a lot of energy into cheering for those still in the good fight. Part of this is because I feel like “Leave no woman behind” is an unspoken motto of the TTC community, but there’s something else to it too, something that I haven’t quite figured out yet.
I know that some IF veterans take the fight to the enemy, as it were, and become surrogates. In my heart of hearts, I harbor a little wish that one of my gay boyfriends will ask me to be his surrogate, but he doesn’t seem super paternal AND I’m pretty sure that my third-trimester complications would disqualify me anyhow.
So it’s not about being pregnant again. I really do feel like our family is complete, and it’s not like I think about surrogacy much except for that one circumstance. I wonder if it’s about letting go of my long-standing alter ego, Brave Subfertile (with my trusty sidekick, Non-TTC Supportive Partner)? Yeah, maybe that’s it.
Tomorrow you will be six months old. (So will Puffer’s boys… happy six months little dudes!)
You are a spectacular little guy and I can’t imagine our family without you. Before you were born, I had a feeling you would be a happy boy. So far so good. You are happy-go-lucky, with an easy smile and an infectious laugh. At any type of gathering, you end up getting passed around and cooed over, and you seem to love the attention.
Here are some of the things I love about you right now:
- You love food. Love. It. You get so excited for the next bite that you sometimes spray your current bite back at us. When you’re not busy with the food spraying, you’re usually opening your mouth wide and kicking your feet. (Just for posterity, you’ve tried avocado, banana, pear, rice cereal, carrot puree, green bean puree, mango and applesauce. The only one you’ve been unsure of is applesauce.)
- You’re a huge fan of your sister. She can make you giggle just by walking up to you. She can do it over and over again, and you just keep laughing. You love to touch her face and tug her hair, and she knows the trick of tickling your palm to make you release. Whenever we ask you, “Where’s Kyan?” you swivel around to find her in the room. Thus far, she’s the only family member you consistently identify this way.
- You have a very special connection with Mommy. When you see her coming, you get all smiley and wiggly, then turn bashful just as she walks up, burying your face in my chestal region. She loves you so much, and seeing the two of you together just melts my heart.
- You tend to wake up so happy. Sometimes you just lay quietly in your crib, then break into the widest smile when you see us. What a wonderful way to start the day.
- We need to break this habit soon, but for now we have an hour or two of just-Rilo time after your sister goes to bed. Since she’s struggling with jealousy right now, we tend to save our schmoopiest moments with you for this time. It’s one of my favorite times of day.
We also have some challenges, like your current yelling phase, but thankfully your sister taught us that the only constant of babyhood is change. In a few weeks, you’ll have better volume control and will be on to something new.
Speaking of your sister, we spend a lot of time reminiscing about her babyhood lately. Looking back at her baby book, we get a little peek at what to expect with you, plus we see some fun commonalities:
- You’re both good sleeper and eaters
- You both have huge noggins
- You look just a little bit alike. Okay, a lot bit.
|Kyan at 6 months||Rilo at 6 months|
- You both have huge fans in your Mommy and Mama
[If you’ve posted anything about supplementation or milk supply lately, you’ve probably received an overlong comment from me. For that, I apologize. Sometimes I don’t know how strongly I feel about something until I go back an re-read a comment. Obviously it’s time for me to write something here and stop with the hijacking of the comment sections already!]
A Quick History of My Supply Challenges (fairly boring and repetitive if you’ve read PJ for any amount of time. Feel free to skip to the potentially-controversial part.)
I planned to be an exclusive breastfeeder. I didn’t anticipate any real barriers to this goal. I knew that a c-section could slow my milk’s arrival. I also knew that some women with PCOS have low supply. I still assumed that everything would work itself out.
When Rilo dropped 10% of his birthweight while we were still in the hospital, I didn’t fight the attending pediatrician’s recommendation to formula feed, and didn’t feel like I’d failed in any way. At three days of life, my boy was hungry, and I wasn’t going to make him wait another three for my milk to come in. Before we started supplementing, I requested a consult with the hospital’s lactation consultant and asked for a supplemental nurser. I went home with a hospital-grade pump, a tube-and-syringe system, and a plan (feed him at the breast every two hours, then pump for at least 20 minutes after each feeding, keep supplementing until my milk came in, and have him weighed regularly at the pediatrician’s office).
My milk came in on day six, but I could tell something was wrong. My pumping sessions yielded less than 15 ml of milk total (both breasts) and I felt faint every time I looked at the pump. It was all pain and no output. I called the lactation consultants and made an appointment for the next day. The LC was a wonderful and kind person, but the visit was disappointing.
- A weighted feeding showed that Rilo was transferring less than half a tablespoon from me at each feeding.
- My hope that we could stop supplementing was dashed and replaced by a longer-term plan (most of his nutrition would come from formula via the SNS, I would continue pumping for at least 30 minutes per session, I would try Reglan for a weeklong course, and we would continue doing weighted feedings for check for improved supply).
- A quick exam of my widely-spaced and squashy breasts (even with three hours to refill) garned me a referral to a renowned physician who specializes in breastfeeding medicine.
- A discussion of my ongoing swelling and dizziness led the LC to recommend that I talk to my OB’s office about getting Lasix. She theorized that all the swelling might be inhibiting my milk output.
If the LC had not mentioned Lasix, I might never have gone back to my OB’s office in time to catch the fact that I had postpartum pre-eclampsia. Holy scary blood pressure. I was readmitted to the hospital and given IV magnesium sulfate, Lasix, and iron. As the swelling decreased (thanks to 25 pounds of water weight coming off overnight), my supply increased exponentially. Suddenly I could pump an ounce per session, and I assumed that Rilo was transferring more during the SNS feedings as well, as he regained his birthweight and was sleeping soundly for up to five hour stretches.
My appointment with the breastfeeding doc brought some difficult news:
- Even though my supply was increasing, it was unlikely that I would meet 100% of Rilo’s need. Ever.
- A weighted feeding showed he was only transferring half an ounce.
- She examined my breasts and thought they looked hypoplastic (widely spaced, tubular, and lacking enough glandular tissue to make lots of milk).
I grieved during that session, and probably made an ass of myself. The good doctor hugged me, congratulated me for all that I’d done thus far, and wrote a three-word prescription: “Love your baby.”
That appointment was a turning point in the journey. Up until then, I thought I just wasn’t working hard enough or had somehow ruined my supply by agreeing to supplement. I was hypersensitive about my low supply and didn’t feel comfortable going to baby groups where formula might be frowned upon. I was eye-crossingly jealous of those with even adequate supply, and wanted to jump through the screen and strangle women who bragged about their freezer stashes or complained about oversupply. The doctor’s reassurance and encouragement helped me move the goal. I wanted to continue breastfeeding, but it was also time to embrace bothfeeding.
Remember that hospital readmission? While I lost 25 pounds of water, I gained a UTI-turned-kidney-infection, and ended up on Cipro, an antibiotic not safe for breastfeeding. So I stopped using the SNS and switched him to bottles for two weeks. I pumped and dumped, hoping that I could at least maintain my supply and that he would willingly return to breastfeeding. Ironically, I was prescribed Reglan to help with the nausea (kidney infections can cause severe nausea). This time, the combo of pumping, Reglan and more sleep (thanks to the fever) jumped my supply again. I was pumping 14 oz a day, and Rilo was eating 24 oz of formula.
But would we be able to return to breastfeeding? Poor little guy was just four weeks old, and had already been through fruitless breastfeeding, syringe feeding, using a supplemental nurser and bottle feeding. Who wouldn’t develop nipple confusion? Rilo. As soon as I had clearance to try again, he was back to it like a champ.
At the follow-up appointment with the breastfeeding doc, Rilo transferred three ounces and seemed very content. What a huge change. She was very encouraging and sees no reason why we can’t maintain our bothfeeding regimen for at least a year. She discouraged me from using domperidone or any other galactagogues because long-term use is unstudied, and I’d already reaped the short-term benefits of Reglan.
At 23 weeks, we’re going strong. He has great feedings before bed and in the mornings. When we’re home together on weekends, I feed him about five times and he has two or three bottles. My supply continues to increase, and I can pump up to 5 oz in a session. Of course Rilo’s needs have gone up too, so I’ll never catch up, but that’s okay.
I had to mourn my low supply. I had to work through guilt and jealousy and feelings of inadequacy. But I’m or less there. I’m a bothfeeder, and better for it.
I’ve noticed a trend on breastfeeding boards that troubles me. Whenever someone writes about their child losing 10% of birthweight and needing to supplement, there’s this chorus of comments like “Stop supplementing NOW, your supply will tank, your child won’t want to return to breastfeeding, etc.” One woman even wrote, “… I would at least exhaust all my options before I supplemented because that usually leads to weaning.”
These comments seem to be made with the best of intentions, but they smack of a superiority that reminds me of smug fertiles. Remember those helpful comments about relaxing or snorting baby dust? (I assume that’s what you’re supposed to do with the stuff, although I never could find a clean dollar bill when I needed one, obviously.)
So I’ve become an apologist for supplementation. When someone is beating herself up about supplementing, I try to chime in with some encouragement. While it seems like most people can achieve an adequate supply, I acknowledge that some of us can’t. I let her know that it’s possible to maintain a great breastfeeding relationship, even with long-term supplementation. I congratulate her for the hard work she’s already done.
But there’s something I rarely acknowledge on the boards, because I don’t want to open myself for attack. Even though I would not have chosen to bothfeed if I had adequate supply, it’s made my life easier. Because I’ll never keep up with his need, I don’t have to worry about a freezer stash. At best, I’m able to build up a 15 oz fridge stash, but it never sits for more than 48 hours. I don’t beat myself up if I occasionally miss a pumping session. When we’re out an about, I can choose to breastfeed or bottle feed, depending on the situation. I can go up to five hours without breastfeeding or pumping, which gives me a great deal of freedom. Because Michelle can take the early-morning feeding, I get to sleep for eight-hour stretches on weekends.
While I was home on maternity leave, I heard an NPR story about Elisabeth Badinter’s book, Le Conflit, in which she suggests that societal pressure to exclusively breastfeed is anti-feminist. It became an NPR “driveway moment” for me. I was just a few weeks from returning to full-time outside-the-home employment and was just settling into bothfeeding. While I don’t necessarily agree with Badinter on her premise (that women become oppressed by their children in their pursuit of ideal motherhood), I had to acknowledge my own privilege. Bothfeeding, in concert with having 40+ week of paid childcare, a full-time outside-the-home job, and an equal coparent seems to give me more space to be an autonomous woman. Not that I’m doing anything special with that freedom at the moment, but there’s a certain rush in knowing it’s there.