Tag: baby #2

In May 2017 we learned we are having a second baby (pseudonym: Pumpkin). This series of posts includes various pregnancy-related topics and some random thoughts as we add a new member to our growing family.

The Challenges of Pumping

The Challenges of Pumping

Long before I had children of my own, I knew I wanted to breastfeed any children I might have. I did not know what that would look like in a practical sense, I just figured breastfeeding was natural so it would happen smoothly. I was optimistically naive.

After our son was born, I discovered that breastfeeding is not always smooth. Due to complications, I pumped exclusively for the first three months… Well, almost exclusively. There were two different short periods where we had to supplement with formula and fortified goat’s milk.

Around the time our son was finally able to nurse on his own, I went back to work full time so I continued to pump during the day and nursed overnight and in the mornings.

I am going to be blunt: pumping is hard.

No, seriously.

There is no way to sugar-coat the reality that pumping, whether exclusively or routinely during working hours, can seem to be an insurmountable challenge wrapped in many obstacles and sprinkled with discouragement.

But through it all, I am so grateful I was able to pump for ten months.

I was fortunate in many ways:

1. I had 9 weeks of complete maternity leave and then 3 weeks of part-time before returning to work full-time. Many women here in the United States only get three weeks and any additional days their saved vacation and sick hours might provide.

2. My office has a private wellness room with a lock, power outlet, side table, and comfortable chair that was perfect for pumping, and occasionally when someone else was using the wellness room, I had access to a private unisex bathroom with an power outlet and long counter. Many women do not have a private place to pump and have to make do with storage rooms or their cars. Or the only room available is a long distance from their actual place of work.

3. Most days, unless there were multiple meetings, I was able to pump three times throughout my work day for twenty minutes each. Many women are limited by rigid work schedules and can only use their regular ten-minute breaks (if they get breaks at all) and lunch time.

4. My supervisor was very supportive of my decision to pump and as considerate of the time I needed as a boss could be. On very busy days, I would take a small work laptop with me to the wellness room to continue working while I pumped. On light days, I used the pumping time to relax or doze. Many women do not have supportive supervisors/managers and are pressured into stopping pumping (and often complete breastfeeding) earlier then they intended.

To all of the mothers out there who have chosen to pump in order to provide breastmilk for their infants, you have my greatest respect and sympathies. No matter if it was for a month or a year, you sacrificed many hours worth of sleep, many comforts, and suffered indignities and awkward moments for your precious child. He or she may never fully understand your sacrifice, but let me speak on their behalf: “Thank you!” and “It is worth it.”

To give everyone a small glimpse into what life is like when you are pumping, here are some challenges that a pumping mother faces.

+ Hearing variations of the “You’re not breastfeeding?” question (often accompanied by looks of disapproval) whenever you pull out a bottle of your own milk to feed the baby in public.

+ Trying to avoid the unsolicited follow-up advice on how to get your baby to breastfeed, as if you have not tried everything already.

+ Having to lug a pump and all of its accessories (bottles, caps, cleaning wipes, etc.) around with you every time you leave the house because you have to pump every 2-3 hours to provide enough food for your baby and to keep your supply from dropping.

+ Trying to find a private place to pump while away from the house and feeling very awkward because it takes 15-20 minutes just to pump. Flanges, bottles, tubes, etc. is not as easy to unpack and pack again and require rinsing/cleaning to stay sanitary.

+ Having to spend money on enough bottles and nipples to cover pumping and storage, plus a bottle brush, special soap that breaks down the residue breastmilk leaves behind, and a rack for drying everything.

+ Losing even more sleep than usual because, after feeding the hungry baby a bottle, you have to go spend about half an hour pumping… every 2-3 hours.

+ Figuring out how to even use the pump, what size flanges to use, how low/high to have the suction, etc. Reading tutorials and guides online do not always help and it is often a process of (painful) trial and error.

+ Having to miss visits with family and friends or fun outings because of either your pumping schedule or because you forget an important piece of your pump. Did I mention you have to pump every 2-3 hours? Oh, I did.

+ Using lots of nipple cream to ease the soreness.

+ Experiencing engorgement if you don’t pump often enough, blocked ducts, blebs (milk blisters) and real blisters. Crying into your pillow or in the shower because of the pain.

+ Being forced to skip a pumping session, then suffering from the pressure of the milk building up in your breasts or leaking.

+ Constantly worrying if your baby is getting enough, tracking the milk expressed down to the milliliter or ounce, and fretting when a pumping session results in less milk then usual.

+ Doing tons of research and trying so many things… including herbal teas… every time your milk supply decreases in an often futile effort to reach whatever time goal you had for breastfeeding. And every time you think you can stretch the time between pumps to four hours, your supply plummets and you desperately go back to every 2-3 hours.

+ All those awkward moments: lugging a heavy pump with you everywhere you go, sitting in your car with a small hand pump trying to express milk while your hand cramps and milk spills because you cannot keep it suctioned right, or sitting in the nursery at church trying to pump really quickly so your crying baby can eat and people (including men) keep walking in to “talk”.

 

Every women’s experience is unique. Some women have amply supply of milk and do not have to pump as frequently. Some women, like myself, struggle with low supply. Some women are able to push through the obstacles and make it to their breastfeeding goals. Others are forced by their circumstances to stop breastfeeding early.

No matter your situation, I want you to know that you are a wonderful mother. Pumping is hard, and yet there are many women who are courageous and selfless enough to face the many challenges, whether due to circumstances or choice.

At least for me, it was all worth it. And I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. In fact, I might have to do it all over again with Baby #2.

To those who have never had to pump, let me just give you a little word of advice: next time you see a mother give her infant a bottle, don’t judge. First of all, you have no idea what the food in the bottle is. It could be expressed breastmilk or it could be formula, and either one is absolutely fine. You also have no idea the emotional rollercoaster that mother has been experiencing since the birth of her child. One judgmental look or condescending comment can literally be the nudge that pushes her over the edge of discouragement and into depression.

If you really care about that new mother, ask if there is anything you can do to help ease her burdens. Offer to come over to clean her bathroom(s) or cook dinner or vacuum the living room or watch her little one for an hour while she naps.

Baby #2 Pregnancy Update: 24 Weeks

Baby #2 Pregnancy Update: 24 Weeks

As you may have noticed from the eleven posts tagged Baby #1, I did not track our first pregnancy weekly or even monthly. Likewise, this time with Baby #2, I’m also not flooding the blog with frequent pregnancy updates. You can call it a desire for privacy, too much busyness, or just plain laziness on my part. After all, I only just announced our second pregnancy last month!

All that aside, I figured it might be worthwhile to do a pregnancy update.

How far along: 24 Weeks

Size of baby: At our most recent ultrasound (last month) , the baby weighed about 13 ounces. At our monthly check in with the doctor last week, my belly/uterus was measuring exactly 23 inches. Various pregnancy sites claim the average 24 week baby is about the length of an ear of corn and the size of a cantaloupe while the uterus is about the size of a soccer ball! Now that I think about it, I do feel like I am carrying around a soccer ball…

So far I have gained 15 pounds since conception, but I actually lost a pound between the ultrasound appointment and the doctor’s appointment.

Gender: Since we have already shared with all of our family and friends, I might as well spread the exciting news. We are having another boy! For now, I think I’ll continue referring to him as Baby #2 until I find a nice pseudonym.

Movement: This little fellow is extremely active… far more so than our Peanut was, and I thought he kicked a lot. Baby #2 is almost always moving around. In fact, as I type this he is kicking me.

Sleep: It can be a challenge to find a comfortable position even with extra pillows, and some nights I toss and turn a lot. I tend to get up about two times a night, but one of those is because Peanut wakes up hungry. When I do get comfortable, I usually sleep fairly well. The last few nights, though, I have barely been able to fall asleep despite being very tired and it is not a deep, restful sleep.

Workouts: I have not been exercising consistently this pregnancy, but I have been trying to do a little more physical activity lately. A few days a week, I climb the four flights of stairs to my office, and this last weekend, we went camping so I did a lot of walking, standing, lifting, etc. It felt really good actually. I should do more pelvic floor exercises, too.

Maternity clothes: I am still comfortably wearing most of my maternity clothes from the first time, though one of my favorite maternity pants I had to put away because the stretchy band put pressure on the underside of my expanding belly at just the right spot while sitting at my desk to cause pain. (That did not happen the first time, so I know my belly size/shape/position is different this time around. It is definitely more protruding.)

Symptoms: I tend to be quite tired in the evenings after a long day at work, and sometimes if I sit too long I have a hard time getting back up. (That is caused by a combination of the pregnancy and an old rollerblading accident to my tailbone.) I do have more muscle pain this time around, especially in the abs and sides. Other than that, though, I seem to be doing pretty ok. I usually can move and walk normally, unless I do something ridiculous like trip on an uneven sidewalk.

Cravings/Aversions: Just like with our first, I have not really had any cravings, per se. Earlier on my sense of smell was heightened and many things that I would not have been able to smell before or did not seem strong before would make me retch. I haven’t noticed that heightened sense of smell in the last week, though.

Missing most: It is a tie between sleeping on my stomach (I’m a stomach sleeper!) and being able to bend over without the pressure of a protruding belly.

Preparing for baby: We are making progress very slowly. We need to move quite a bit out of the “nursery” (aka the boys’ room) and do a complete re-arranging. Peanut is now walking and I want him to be able to start playing in the room without me having to stand there watching over him.

The bassinet is dismantled and under the bed in our master bedroom. It can be easily re-assembled in the week or two before Baby #2 is born. The new baby will be with us in our room for probably the first five months, and then Peanut will transition to a real bed and Baby #2 will get the crib. So we have quite a bit of time to work out all the room details.

Cannot wait for: Seeing and holding our little bundle of joy! It is amazing watching Peanut grow, and I cannot wait to see how he interacts with his little brother.

Well, that is it for this pregnancy update. I think I’ll aim to do a monthly update from here on out. If you have had multiple children, how did your pregnancies differ from each other?

Peanut is getting a promotion…

Peanut is getting a promotion…

About two weeks ago, our little Peanut celebrated his 1st birthday. He is not really a little Peanut anymore. He is such a big boy now in many ways. He wants to feed himself, he is playing with toys more intentionally, he will find his favorite books for us read, and he loves to talk! (Sometimes it is words we can recognize!) He even took his first steps last week all on his own!

We actually had to postpone his 1st birthday party because he came down with his very first cold, which caused an ear infection. Poor little guy! In the end, he unintentionally gave his cold to me, both of his grandmothers, and even one grandfather and his dad had a few days where they were a little under the weather (though not nearly as sick as his grandmas and I were!).

Around the same time we were celebrating Peanut’s birthday, we also began sharing the news that he is getting a promotion to big brother!

Yes, that is right. We are having another little one!

The due date is still a little up in the air. We originally thought it was around January 28, 2018, but a recent ultrasound may suggest closer to February 10th. However, Baby #2 was not very cooperative during the scan so the tech was unable to get the full measurements that they like to have. We are going back in a few weeks for another try. I do not mind one way or another, because as I learned with Peanut, babies come when babies are ready to come.

So we could be anywhere between 18 and 20 weeks along, but I am showing much earlier with this pregnancy. (To be honest, this time around I feel and look huge.) Granted, this pregnancy has been extremely different from our first. With Peanut, I had the occasional nausea and some fatigue during the first trimester. This time I was sick all day long, from the moment I woke up to the moment I fell asleep, for a little over three months! The fatigue and aches and pains have been a bit challenging, as well.

Fortunately, I have been doing much better the last three or so weeks. I have gotten a lot of my energy back and am starting to exercise again. Nothing strenuous, but I need to get into decent shape to prepare for Baby #2’s arrival. I lost some weight during the first trimester when I could barely eat anything, but now I feel like I’m gaining a little too quickly. I’m already at the weight I was when Peanut was born! (To be fair, he was only 4 pounds 11 ounces at birth.)

So I’m gradually increasing the number of times I climb the stairs as work (I’m on the fourth floor), trying to walk more (I want to get back to a mile a day), and standing at my desk more (alternating that with propping my feet up!). I think these small changes will help.

We do know the gender of Baby #2, but I will save that announcement for next time.

If you have had multiple pregnancies, how have your pregnancies differed? What was similar between them?