Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I'm back

San Diego was great. Well, mostly great. Almost perfect, except for a few snags and (ahem) breaks along the way.

Things that went wrong:
Frst of all, Darth A. got sick the second day we were there. Like, fever of 103, throwing up, upset stomach, the works. By the end of the third day, we were debating whether I should go home with the baby and sick kid, and leave Darth B. with husband in San Diego.

But the night of the third day, as I was walking from the bathroom to the bed, I walked into a door and...broke my toe. How bad was the break, you ask?
Bad enough that I took one look at it and realized that I would be spending the next few hours in the emergency room.
Bad enough that husband took one look at it and said, "I better go get help."
Bad enough that I knew that if I didn't get it straightened out, it would become very difficult for me to wear closed-toe shoes.
Bad enough that it suddenly looked like I had a thumb on my foot.
It was BAD.

So off we went to the emergency room, leaving the Darths with the wife of one of my husband's co-workers. Three hours and four X-rays later, the doctor finally agreed that yes, my toe was, indeed, broken. He pulled it back up (without any pain medication or any damn WARNING for that matter, WHAT THE HELL??), wrapped it to the other toe with a wad of tape, and sent me on my merry way.

The next day, my toe was still causing a limp but I was fine on Advil, and Darth A. was all better, so we decided to stay the rest of the trip. It was great from there on in. We hung out at the beach or by the pool, went out to eat a lot, and basically took it easy.

I didn't pump once. By the second day, my breasts were completely back to normal in shape and feel. I can still squeeze a few drops out of them if I try, but I think that's completely normal and might actually take a while to stop.

So, my friends, my pumping days are officially over. I'll probably write one more post on what it felt like to stop pumping, how I did it, etc., since I've gotten some questions about that. But after that...I don't know. I don't know what to do with this blog. I am no longer a "Pump Mom." The factory has permanently shut down. Should I hand the blog over to another Pump Mom? Should I keep it running, and have, like, "guest bloggers"? Let me know what you think.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Tah Tah for now

Am packing for trip. Will not be posting until return.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

My creative side

As I sit, in pain, exhausted,
My breasts all hard and hot to touch
My goal's in reach, almost accomplished
I'll say "goodbye, lactating ducts!"

For (almost) five long months I pumped
These overfilled huge breasts of mine
So that my baby could get plumped
On only breast milk he did dine

At all hours, day and night
I hooked myself to the damn machine
None could help with me with my plight
I couldn't even drink caffeine!

I did the best I could, I know
to give the best food to my child
I kept on pumping, even though
The clogged milk ducts, they weren't mild

People really just don't get
how difficult pumping can be
it tedious, it's hell--and yet
I'm sure other mothers would agree

It's all worth it, if you feel
That breast milk is above the rest
But sadly, your ideal
Of putting baby to the breast--

Just won't happen. The babe won't suck
for one good reason or another
It's sad that you're just out of luck
You're still a good mother.

And when I look at my sweet son
My heart just melts, I swell with pride
I say to myself, "it was worth it, hon."
He is my joy personified.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A father's role

First of all, thank you guys for the kind comments to my last post. So far, I haven't gotten a single comment or email of the "YOU ARE A TERRIBLE MOTHER HOW DARE YOU STOP PUMPING YOU ARE KILLING YOUR CHILD" variety, which I was really dreading.

Second of all...engorgement?
ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow fucking ow fucking ow fucking ow fucking OW OW OW OW
I've had cracked ribs before. This is way worse, people.

So. This question has been on my mind for a while.
How much influence do you think the husband/father of the baby should have on a mother's decision to breastfeed or pump? And how much influence do you think that they have in reality, regardless of whether it's "fair" or not?

When I had Darth A., three days after he came home and I had been reduced to a sobbing shaking ball of something resembling humanity on my bathroom floor, the last thing my husband wanted to do was pressure me to breastfeed. In fact, he knew that most of the angst I was feeling was directly related to my failure at breastfeeding. After all, I had been told time and again that breastfeeding is
"the most natural thing for a mother to do"
"the best thing for your baby"
"the fastest way to bond with your baby"
"the most incredible feeling in the world"
"something you will think on with pride for the rest of your life, because you did it"
But I couldn't breastfeed, which made me...
a bad mother
unable to bond with my baby
incapable of feeling good toward my baby
shameful and remorseful, because I was a failure

Thank God, my husband recognized that at that point, getting me out of that cold dark hole I had crawled into was way more important than what we fed the baby. So he kept repeating over and over to me what a good mom I am, how loving I am, how my breastfeeding skills (or lack thereof) in no way reflected the love I felt for my baby. So I managed to crawl out of that numbing gulf of desolation I was in, and I was okay.

After I had Darth B., my husband was very concerned that I would fall back into that depression if I tied too much of my feelings of "goodness" and "worthiness" as a mother into my ability to breastfeed again. So he made it very clear that he didn't care if I breastfed, one way or the other. But this time things were different, because I had my electric pump. I knew that formula was not the only alternative to breastfeeding. So when things went bad, I got out the pump and fed Darth B. the breast milk that way.

The husband was not that supportive, though. I mean, he thought it was a great idea, and was enthusiastic about it in theory, but when it came down to me handing him the baby and telling him to watch both Darths so I could disappear for a while and go pump, he wasn't so happy about it. He didn't really comprehend that at least in the beginning, I would need him to shoulder a lot more responsibility around the house so I could have the 'extra' time to pump. So in subtle ways, he made his 'minor' aggravation over the whole situation known over and over again. He NEVER came right and said, "don't go pump," but he acted so displeased every time. After a while, I stopped pumping so often, and only pumped when the baby was okay by himself or when my breasts got very full. But I had not started out with a good supply to begin with, and not keeping to a good pumping schedule didn't help. After two months, my milk was gone.

With Darth D., my husband's attitude was very different. He wanted Darth D. to get breast milk for as long as possible, but at least until he started solid food. When the whole 'nursing strike fiasco' happened, he made it very clear that he was willing to do whatever it took to help me pump. He would watch all three Darths while I went into another room to pump, he cooked, he cleaned, he pampered me...when I asked, he would stay up in the middle of the night with me just to keep me company while I pumped, so I wouldn't be lonely. He stayed home from work when the clogged ducts were really bad, so I could keep to a two-hour pumping schedule. Really, he was great.

The flip side of all this was that I knew that if I stopped pumping, I would be disappointing him greatly. Again, he never came out and said "I want you to pump no matter what," but the feeling I got from him was that if I stopped, I would be letting him down. And after all he was willing to do to support me, I didn't want that to happen. So I stuck with it through countless clogged ducts and sleepless nights. I don't want to give anyone the idea that I was pumping just for my husband, or that I was forced into it. But he was like my coach, always giving me pep talks and showing me how he believed that I could do this. Without his help, I never would have lasted this long.

His opinion didn't change until recently, after I had to go on antibiotics for mastitis for the second time, and the pediatrician said Darth D. could start rice cereal. Then he found out he was going to San Diego for a week. I brought up the idea of me and the children going with him. "But I don't think I should be pumping anymore," I said. "I think I should stop before the trip." He said, "yeah, I think it's time." And that was that.

In theory, breastfeeding (and pumping) should be the personal choice of the mother. It's her body, her time, her decision on how she feeds her baby. But in reality, I think the father has a huge effect on the mother's decision and the outcome of the whole situation. Of course, there will be women on both sides of the spectrum going "I was going to breastfeed my baby for as long as I wanted, no matter what! Even if that meant he would still be breastfeeding in elementary school!" And "there was no way in hell I was going to breastfeed, and I was ready to divorce my husband if he made an issue out of it!" But I think most women feel as I do, that they want what's best for the whole family, and sometimes that includes going that extra mile to make their partner happy. Sometimes that might mean breastfeeding or pumping for a little longer than they had planned, and sometimes, it might mean a little less.

I'll tell you one thing, though. I can't imagine how a woman could attempt exclusively pumping without any support from her partner or family. That would be too damn hard.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Last Bell

So here's the news:

In about two weeks, my husband is going on a business trip to San Diego. He'll be going for an entire week. We've decided that me and the kids will go with him, for a little vacation before school starts.

My plan is that by the time we leave for San Diego, I won't be lactating anymore. I'm going to stop pumping.

Last week I started to drastically reduce the number of times I pump per day. Instead of pumping every two to three hours, I started going to every five or six hours. I'm still making enough to feed Darth D. breast milk, but I'm not freezing anymore. I'm now going to really start the process of getting my body to stop making milk. I'll only be pumping when my breasts get really painfully engorged, and even then, I won't be emptying them.

I know there will be women out there who think I should try to go on vacation and pump there. There might also be women who think that if I can't pump while on vacation, then I shouldn't go at all, and stay home so I can pump. You know what? If you think that, then you are entitled to your opinion. But you are not me.

One of first conditions I had about pumping, from the beginning, was that I would do it only as long as it didn't have a negative effect on my relationship with my husband, older children, or baby. My family needs this vacation; we need the time away, and the opportunity won't come again for at least another year. I know that if pumping in any way would ruin this trip with my husband and kids, then I would be just incredibly resentful and depressed about it. And it definitely would have a huge negative impact on the trip. I would constantly be worrying about finding places to pump on the beach, in amusement parks, at tourist attractions...or I would be stuck inside the hotel room while my husband took the kids out. Nights would also be a disaster--I would have to pump in the middle of the night, waking everyone up in the hotel room. And if I couldn't pump, then I'd be in severe pain.

Darth D. will soon be five months old. Five months is longer than either of my other two kids got breast milk. I'm very proud of myself for making it this far. It was a personal choice made from the beginning, with the support of my husband.

And it's my personal decision that this part of my life, and Darth D.'s life, must now draw to an end.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Topic: Bottles

When I had Darth A., I started out with the playtex bottles with the disposable inner liners. I thought that they would save time, by not having to wash bottles. But I was wrong on that count: being the paranoid yiddisha mamma that I am, I washed the liner holders (nursers, I think they're called?) after each feeding. So at the end of the day, I was still washing nipples, nipple rings, and bottle nursers, but I was also paying extra for the liners.

That system didn't last very long.

I quickly switched over to the Avent bottles. Darth A. did well on them, and we used them with Darth B., as well.

So when I was about to deliver with Darth D., taking my history into account, I decided to have some bottles in the house, you know, just in case. And I bought the Avent ones.

But once I started exclusively pumping and feeding Darth D. by bottle, it quickly became obvious that he wasn't doing so well with the Avent bottles. He kept choking on the milk, and was getting a lot of gas. A lot. I think any parent will say that listening to their newborn baby screaming for hours because of gas is just about one of the worst experiences to have to go through. It definitely adds to the whole "WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING WHEN I HAD A BABY?" mentality.

Then I read about the Dr. Brown's bottles, how they have a reputation for helping babies with gas, so I went out and bought a few. And you know what? They did help. Darth D. started falling asleep after feedings, instead of screaming in pain. I had been skeptical about buying them, but they actually made a huge difference.

Now that he's four months old, however, I would love to switch him back to the Avent bottles, since there are some very clear advantages to them. And he doesn't seem to be suffering from the gas like he did as a newborn. But he WON'T SWITCH. It's the most annoying thing. He's the most stubborn baby out of all three of my kids. When I try to offer the milk in an Avent bottle, he just spits the nipple back out, and razzes at me. Cute, but annoying. So here are some differences between the Avent and Dr. Brown's bottles:

Avent bottles are available in most stores. They have a lot of accessories available, including manual and electric pumps, bottle brush, sterilizer, warmer, etc., all specifically designed for the Avent bottle system. The bottles themselves come in multiple sizes, including an 11 ounce size bottle. They are easy to clean.

Dr. Brown's, on the other hand, are harder to find. They do not have a whole "bottle system" available, so you'll be stuck using a warmer and/or sterilizer designed from a different company. The bottles only come in 4 or 8 ounce sizes, and if you fill them above the marked line, they WILL leak. They come in tall or wide bottles, but the wide ones are even harder to find. The bottles have more parts to them, so they take an extra few minutes to clean. BUT! They probably will reduce gas in your baby, which means fewer hours of agonized screaming, and anything is worth that.

If I had to do it all over again, I definitely would have gone with the wide Dr. Brown bottles, since the nipples are so much closer in shape to the Avent nipples (in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if you could alternate between the two). Then I wouldn't have such a problem switching over to the Avent bottles, which are so much easier to clean.

Of course, there is a HUGE selection of bottles out there these days, coming in a much wider selection of shapes and sizes than when I had Darth A. (God I feel so old). I'm only sharing my experience here with the kinds that I have tried. For the whole, you know, DON'T DO WHAT I DID WRONG thing. But if you are using a different kind of bottle system, and have anything good or bad to say about it, then please comment. I'd love to hear what kinds of bottles other parents have tried and liked (or hated).

Friday, August 04, 2006


Sorry for the lack of posts. Yesterday was my ten year wedding anniversary, and my husband took the day off so I could get an actual haircut at a real beauty salon (as opposed to one of those five-minute-a-cut barber shops, where they spray your hair with water instead of asking you if you want a wash--where my husband and kids go all the time because it's fast and the one cut they can do well is the cut that all three of them wear). Then I quickly came home, pumped, and went straight out again to do some shopping. Let's bold and italicize that. Shopping.

It was one of those days when I was so happy that I wasn't breastfeeding, because it meant that I could pump on my own schedule, and be out and about without the baby.

I have some posts coming up, including one on bottles, and some news. But right now, I have to go enjoy my new stuff.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Back from Darth D.'s four month check-up.

Height: 60th percentile
Weight: 70th percentile

He's already rolling over both ways, "scootching around like a caterpillar," as Darth A. likes to put it, reaching for things, smiling, and cooing, so I'm really not worried about his skills or development.

He's also eating over forty ounces of breast milk a day, which, according to the ped, means I can start him on some rice cereal.


This kid just seems like a leaky bucket, always eating and pooping. He finishes his bottles like there's no tomorrow, and still can't go more than seven hours (at MOST, and it is RARE) at night without a feed. I'm assuming it's because he's eating breast milk, and not formula, since by this age both my other children were already on formula and sleeping a good eight hour stretch at night. Hopefully, with a little rice cereal in his belly at bedtime, he'll be able to sleep a little longer. And really, every little bit makes a huge difference.

The clogged duct has thankfully resolved itself, although the area around the not-dearly-departed clog is still painful and tender. According to my past experiences, of which I have had TOO MANY GOD DAMN IT, that pain should go away in 24-28 hours.

By the way, yes, I have read this post, but no, I am not going to put up a picture of myself pumping. I applaude those women who can "put themselves out there" in the blogging world (and maybe this isn't the right place for quotation marks, since I am being QUITE LITERAL), but I am simply not comfortable with the idea.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


I don't know if it's from my newest clogged duct (how many does this make? Eight, nine? I lost count, GOD HELP ME), or if it's my hormones, or if it's just being overwhelmed lately, but I'm feeling really depressed.

I told my husband last night that my life is made up of three M's: Mother, Matron, Maid. I am mommy first, wife second, and homemaker third. My work as 'maid' actually includes the jobs of housecleaner, butler, driver, mediator, secretary, manager, cook and gofer.

But there's also another job: Pumper.

My job as 'pumper' adds so many restrictions to my life. It's not just about the time it takes to pump, although that is very significant. It's also about not being able to go anywhere for any length of time, since I always have to watch the clock to make it home in time to pump. It's about not being able to eat what I want, since Darth D. is not only lactose intolerant, but also allergic to cow protein, which means absolutely no dairy for me. It's about not being able to excercise, because it might make my milk acidic. It's about the whole mentality involved in pumping, which I can't even come close to describing. It's like, I am so proud of myself that I can do this, I can pump to feed my baby and provide the best food I can for him, but at the same time there is a part of me that is so fucking resentful that my body has become part milk machine. My breasts don't even feel like they are a part of my body anymore, they are just the equipment needed to make the milk, just like the pump is the apparatus to draw out the milk. I can't go where I want, I can't eat what I want, I can't sleep when I want, because the boobs, they need to be pumped. My breasts are no longer attached to me, I am attached to them.

Add to that all the stress of being a mom to three kids, having to make meals for them, solve fights for them, having to take the baby with me into the bathroom because I can't even pee by myself anymore...I am just wiped out.

There should be another 'M' in that list: ME. Me, myself, the person who existed before I became all these other things, and who still exists in some pale form. I realize that my other jobs must come first, they MUST take priority, but still, I should be somewhere on the list, damn it. Even if I am last.

But since the baby's arrival, the three M's have taken over. Even when I am pumping, I am usually trying to do something else at the same time. I am taking multi-tasking to a whole new level.

I know, I KNOW, eventually things will get better. But right now....

P.S. Thank you, thank you for your comments and emails to my last post. Your words of encouragement help me so much.