Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Night Shift, My Hell

Well, David and I have both been back at work almost 2 weeks now.  Honestly, it feels like an eternity.  Those first 3.5 months where one of us was home with her full time were like a fantasy, and then we had to dive into a hell also known as “mommy and daddy both work full time and daddy is in the midst of night shift month.” 

The first few days were hectic, but bearable.  I changed my start time from 7:30 to 8 to accommodate our new schedule, woke up earlier, got home later, suffered through rush hour traffic, and never even had time to stop for Starbucks (the travesty)!  Our original plan was that L would only go to the babysitter’s on the days that JD went in for a night shift.  This meant that he could sleep during the day before his shift, but it also meant that on his “off days,” he would come home from working all night and then stay up to take care of her.  I always suspected this wouldn’t work out, but JD wanted to try.  Last Wednesday was the first test of this.  It did not go well.  JD texted me late morning to tell me he was so tired he felt sick, so I offered to come home early and relieve him of his duties (it was a beautiful day out, and I’m always happy to come home early and see my baby, so this wasn’t such a bad deal for me).

We worked out a new deal where David’s grandma would watch the baby on those extra few days of night shift months when JD came home from a shift and needed to sleep.  Our babysitter is flexible and I’m sure she would have picked up the days, but it will save us a bit of money and allow his grandma some bonding time with the baby, so everybody wins.  Things seemed to be back on track… until today.

Today was JD’s first day home with the baby where he was off last night and will be off again tonight.  He went to bed at 2am in an effort to get enough sleep to watch the baby today without messing up his sleep schedule too much.  It did not go well.  She woke up earlier than usual, was fussy all day, and didn’t want to take a nap.  He texted me throughout the day and I could tell he was getting progressively more tired and more frustrated. 

I sat at work, wishing I could come home and fix everything.  Wishing I didn’t have to work.  Aching for my baby.  Wanting to sway with her in the hammock and enjoy the late spring breeze.  Wanting the freedom of being home with her.  Wanting nothing more than to just take care of everyone- the baby, the house, the dogs, and my husband, who desperately needed to sleep.  Feeling helpless, I did the only thing I could do at the moment, I went into that little barren room called the “Mother’s Room” and pumped.   I listened to the rhythmic noise of the pump and the drip of my milk into the bottles.  Then, for the very first time since I’ve been back at work, I cried.

No one can prepare you for how hard it is.  I spent 9 months convincing myself that I wanted to continue working because I knew I didn’t have much choice.   I’m still not sure if, given the choice, I would even choose to stay home.  There are definitely pros and cons, but I hate that I don’t have that choice.  In a lot of ways, I hate that it has to be a choice at all- that we can’t have the best of both worlds. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

First Reponders

My heart goes out to the people affected by yesterday’s tornadoes in Oklahoma.  The sadness.  The loss.  The innocent little kids in that elementary school.  Devastating.

Whenever tragedy like this strikes, of course I am thinking of the victims, but I also pause to think of the first responders.  I’ve seen firsthand how something like this can affect the people who are ready to sacrifice their own lives to save others, and who work tirelessly to dig through rubble and try to find survivors.  It’s a shocking experience that will never leave them.

Last year, JD responded to a call where two kids who had been fishing with their uncle fell into the river and were immediately pulled under by the current.  He was first on scene and didn’t think twice about diving into the frigid, fast-moving water to try to save them.  The truth is, by the time he arrived, it was probably too late, but that didn’t stop him.  I never blogged about it because it was something he didn’t like talking about.  It haunted him for weeks.  Maybe it even still haunts him now, I don’t know.  My point is that I saw how hard that incident was for him, and when I see those first responders digging through the aftermath of a disaster like yesterday's tornadoes, I know how hard it must be for them, and how hard it will continue to be for a while.

So please, whether you pray or simply send a healing thought that way, don't forget to include the first responders.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Loralai's First Day With The Babysitter

7:00am: While feeding the baby, I notice a small red mark on her neck.  It’s probably irritation from dried milk, but I’m tempted to call it a “big rash” and stay home with her for the day… or forever.

7:30am: Arrive at the babysitter’s house with 2 big bags of stuff.  Wonder whether I compulsively over-packed like I always do, or if I’m just an organized and prepared mom. The babysitter greets Loralai excitedly and Loralai smiles back.  I’m reassured that we picked the right caregiver for our love. 

7:35am: I tear myself away as K (the babysitter) promises to text me pics throughout the day.  I get in the car and pull away, determined to be a strong mama and not cry, but my heart aches.  It’s like leaving a piece of my heart with a stranger.

8:00am: Arrive at work and give myself a pat on the back for getting both of us ready and out the door on time on my first attempt.  Am slightly surprised when my co-workers don’t throw confetti to celebrate my punctuality.

8:05am: Wonder why K hasn’t already sent pictures.  I mean, it’s been a half hour.

8:30am: Missing L like crazy.  Realizing that this is even harder than when I first started work and left her at home with JD.  Send my mom a sad text.

9:21am: Receive first pic from K.  L is happily snuggled in the car seat taking a nap while K drives her daughter to school.  Glad to see she’s not freaking out and that I’m not missing anything other than nap time at the moment.

12:10pm: Receive a video from K of L cooing.  Miss her.

2:15pm: Pull up Google maps to determine fastest route to babysitter’s house.  Determined to find a better way than this morning.  I want to pick up my baby ASAP.

3:00pm: Receive another picture of L napping.  Notice she’s wearing a different onesie than this morning.  K informs me she had a diaper explosion.   That makes me laugh.  Our sweet L just had to break in the new babysitter right away!

4:00pm: Wonder if this day could get any longer.

4:29pm: Leave for the day.  Am tempted to run down to my car but refrain myself.  This is still a professional environment, after all.

4:45pm:  Curse traffic.  Also, stoplights.  The afternoon commute seems infinitely longer than the morning commute.

5:00pm: L is still napping.  K is talking quietly so she doesn't wake her up.  I don't care, because I'm picking up my baby and giving her a huge kiss.  L stretches but doesn't fuss.  I get a groggy half smile.

We head home, and suddenly nothing else matters.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Loralai- 3 Months

Wow, where has the time gone?  Hard to believe that Loralai is already 3 months... I have failed to post new pictures in quite a while.

She is still the sweetest and happiest baby.  She even took a plane ride with daddy up to Michigan to meet the rest of his family last week.  I was nervous for JD traveling with her alone, but she did great- not a peep out of her on any of the flights!

She is starting to grab and hold smaller toys and LOVES reaching for her favorite butterfly when she's lying on her play mat.  This past weekend, JD and I bought a Bumbo for her because she's been wanting to sit up more- she loves that too!

Here are a few pictures I took from when she turned 2 months.

Happy baby after a good night's sleep

Dressed up for tea with Great Grandma.

Bath time!

Little peanut passed out in the hammock.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Got Milk?

Let’s get personal for a minute.  Today we’re going to talk about boobs.  And breast milk.  And being topless at work.  And the not-so-simple act of providing sustenance for my baby.  Feel free to skip this post if any of those topics make you uncomfortable :)

For me, breast feeding has been a labor of love.  Sadly, I was never one of the moms who enjoyed it.  I wanted to love it.  I wanted to stare down at her lovingly and bond while my body did this magical thing for her, but that’s not the way it worked out.  From the beginning, I was sore, tired, and miserable.  I resented the fact that feedings were solely my responsibility, and I spent a lot of my day staring at the clock, counting down, dreading the next feeding.  When she decided she was hungry before those 3 hours were up, I would grow even more frustrated that I didn’t get the full “break” between feedings that I was so desperate for.

But I was determined to do it.  I wanted her to have all the benefits of breast milk so I made myself suffer through the beginning when it’s especially  hard.  Pumping helped.  It gave me a break from the constant feedings and helped alleviate the soreness.  Whoever invented the breast pump is pretty much my hero.  If it weren’t for that, I would have given up on breast feeding a L-O-N-G time ago.

We had a good thing going for a while, and then, at 2 months, we found out she wasn’t gaining weight, meaning I wasn’t producing enough milk and we had to start supplementing with formula.  I cried.  I felt like I had failed her.  The doctor casually said, “some women just don’t produce enough milk.”  My friends and family told me that I couldn’t have known (she is almost too good of a baby because she showed NO signs that she was hungry or wasn’t getting enough to eat!) and it wasn’t my fault.  But I still blamed myself.  It’s a mom thing, I guess.

We started giving her an ounce of formula at the end of each feeding and her weight went up.  Ever since then I’ve had a new appreciation for my milk, as it is even more precious now.  I spilled an ounce of it one time and almost had a nervous breakdown.  Every drop is priceless.  Every.  Single.  Drop.

Before I knew it, I returned to work and adjusted to working life as a breast feeding mama.

I’m lucky that my office provides a mothers room.  It’s not the most comfortable or fanciest room in the building (it’s basically a barren room with 2 lonely chairs and some holes in the wall from an old dart board), but it’s private and I can lock the door, which I am eternally grateful for.  Not all working, pumping moms have that luxury.  Leaving your baby is heartbreaking.  Getting back into the swing of work is hard.  When you throw pumping at work on top of that, it just makes everything more difficult.  

Pumping at work is a strange concept.  One minute you’re on a conference call discussing a high spend account, the next minute you’re topless in that little room next the office of the big shot in IT.  The last thing you want to worry about is someone walking in on you.  So  yeah, having a locking door is pretty much the greatest thing ever and my heart goes out to the dedicated moms who continue to pump without the “amenities” I have.

After a while, my milk production slowed even more- to the point that she is only getting a bottle of breast milk every day- everything else is formula.  I’m not sure what caused the drop.  Yes, I’m pumping a lot at work instead of nursing, but I was doing a lot of pumping while I was still on maternity leave too.  I try to nurse in the evenings and on the weekends.  I’m drinking teas with Fenugreek, an herb that stimulates milk production.  I chug water.  I eat oatmeal  every day (another thing thought to increase production).  In a week of desperation, I stuffed my face with pretty much every calorie I could get my hands on (breast feeding moms actually need more calories than a pregnant mom, and add in several workouts a week, I’m sure I need a ton of calories to compensate).  Nothing seemed to help and in one of what has turned out to be many moments of frustration during this process, I told JD that I wasn’t sure it was worth the hassle of hauling my pump back and forth every day, and taking time to pump 3-4 times a day on top of the nursing sessions I could fit in.

I’m disappointed that there isn’t more information out there for mamas like me.  Most education seems to center around the “all or nothing” approach like “most moms don’t have a problem with their production” and “formula is fine, but breast milk is better.”  I did a little digging, and from what I’m reading, even if she was only getting an ounce of milk a day, she would still be benefiting from the immunities (actually, it’s thought that mamas with less milk might actually have a higher concentration of immunities in their milk).  I found forums with posts from moms like me who were doing a lot of supplementing and struggling to keep their production up.  I realized that I am not alone and felt empowered in the knowledge that all the effort it requires to get her that 1 bottle a day is still benefiting her enough that it’s all worth it.  

I have a renewed determination to do this.