Friday, October 14, 2016

Seven Tips For Exclusively Breast Pumping

Thank you to everyone who commented on yesterday's post about my initial struggles with breastfeeding and my decision to exclusively pump.  I was shocked at how many women have had similar stories!  I wanted to share a few tips that I've found to be helpful throughout this process.  I've learned a lot throughout the last four months, and the key for me is keeping it as convenient as possible.  Here are my seven tips for exclusively pumping:

Tips for Exclusive Breast Pumping

1.  Invest in a good quality pump- I can say with 100% confidence that I wouldn't have made it this far if I didn't have a good pump.  When I found out I was pregnant I went through the process to get a free pump through insurance, and received the Medela Pump In Style.   Around the same time my sister in law offered to let me borrow her Medela Freestyle.  At that point I thought all breast pumps were created equally, but boy was I wrong.   The Freestyle is battery powered (rechargeable batteries) so I'm able to go anywhere with it.  I pump in the car (as a passenger) all the time.  The pump mechanism is small, and even has a belt clip, so that you can pump and move around at the same time.  Before I had Thompson, the thought of using someone else's breast pump really weirded me out.  But after using one, I realized it's basically just the motor that's being reused.  I purchased all new tubing and parts so that anything that actually touches my body and my milk is brand new.   If you don't want to shell out the big bucks for a pump, you can also rent one through the hospital.  The hospital grade pumps are even more powerful, and I've heard great things about them.  If mine ever bites the dust, I'll definitely look into a hospital rental (I think they are around $80 a month). While the free pump I received through insurance isn't the best, I still would advise anyone to go ahead and request one through their insurance company if it's going to be covered at 100%.  It's comforting to know that I have a backup just in case I ever need it.

2.  Buy a hands free pumping bra- After reading tons of reviews, I purchased this bra through Amazon and I've been really pleased with it.   I have the pink but I'd recommend buying the black one.  Even with regular washing, the pink one starts to look a little dingy after a while.  Using this allows me to be totally hands free when I'm pumping, so I'm always able to multitask. Plus, I think the added compression it gives helps me pump more milk.

3.  Get a good nursing cover- I mentioned above that I pump in the car a lot.  If T and I are taking a car trip that's more than 20 minutes, I plan to pump while I'm riding.  It's a great way to save time and make use of that otherwise wasted time in the car.  This stretchy nursing cover makes it so much more discreet, plus it can also be used as a car seat cover and a shopping cart cover, too.  Several different brands make these, but I love that this particular one is Prime Eligible on Amazon.

4. Stay hydrated- I'm pumping anywhere between 30 and 40 ounces of milk a day, which means I'm losing a lot of fluid.  Staying hydrated is the best way to keep milk production up.   I sip on decaffeinated tea, water, and gatorade, and bring a 32 oz tumbler of water with me to bed each night. I prefer a Swell bottle or a Yeti cup so that my water stays ice cold throughout the night.

5.  Purchase reusable breast pads- File this under things no one ever told me about before baby.  I had no clue that wearing breast pads would be an everyday requirement.  These ones on Amazon are leak proof, which is really important for the first few months while you're supply is still regulating.  If you don't get the leak proof ones, you may end up in a situation as depicted by the picture below.  How embarrassing.  I now stick to dark colored and printed tops only.

6.  Buy lots of extra bottles and pump parts- At any given time I usually have 3-4 bottles of milk in the fridge, 3-4 that need washing, and a few clean ones that I can use throughout the day.  I wash bottles and bottle parts once per day, so it's really helpful to have several extras on hand.  We use these because they work with my pump, but really any bottles will do.  

7.  Stock up on extra parts and bottle cleaning/sanitizing supplies- It's a great idea buy an extra set of pump parts, that way you won't have to wash them constantly throughout the day.  Pro Tip- after you use your pump parts they can be stored in the refrigerator until the next use.   This will keep them from growing bacteria, and you don't have to wash them after each use.  I do this throughout the day and wash everything once at night.  I usually sanitize parts every other day, using the Medela Sanitizing Bags. Using these bags is much easier than having to boil everything, just pop it in the bag, microwave for 3 minutes, and it's done.  My favorite bottle brush is the Oxo Tot Bottle Brush.  It's bristles are really soft and flexible, so it doesn't spray all over you when you pull the brush out of the bottle.  That is my biggest pet peeve.  And for feeding bottles, we really like the Dr. Brown's Options bottles.  They are great because you don't have to use the vent if you don't want to.  Less parts to clean if your baby ends up not needing that vent down the road.  If you're looking at buying these, go ahead and buy the 8 oz bottles, rather than the smaller 4 oz ones.  You'll only be able to use those 4 oz ones for feeding for the first couple of months, and then they're useless.  I'd also recommend getting the narrow bottles because they can hook right up to your breast pump, and the Medela caps fit on the top of them.  It's nice being able to interchange the caps and nipples as needed.

If you have any other tips or product suggestions for me, please do share!  I'd love to know what has worked for you.  

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Bad and The Ugly

Last night I had dinner with a few of my Greenville blogger friends, and it really made me miss the days when I was blogging more regularly.  Having a baby and owning a business definitely keep me busy, but blogging has always been something that I've enjoyed.  I love looking back at old posts, it's so great to have such a detailed diary of these past years of my life.  Just last week T was headed to New York for work, and asked about a place that we ate when we were there years ago.  I sifted through the archives and was able to tell him exactly where we went and what we ordered.  I just love having a record like that of the past.  I don't mean to loosely quote Ferris Bueller here, but life moves so fast that you tend to forget the little details of each day. Having a written record of the first years of our marriage, my pregnancy, and life with our new baby are absolutely priceless.

It feels so easy to write about all the good things that are happening in my life.  Sharing the pretty pictures and the great things that are happening in our life right now.  And, I'm so lucky to say that those good things definitely outweigh the not-so-good.  But, just like everybody else,  we have our fair share of the bad and the ugly, too.  Just this week I was talking to a friend about how the first few days after having a baby are the hardest.  Everyone told me how bad labor pains can be, and what my healing process would be like, but they failed to inform me how tough those first few days after baby can be.   You're exhausted, in pain, and loopy from pain meds.  Yet, you're expected to keep this new little baby alive.  The baby's screaming, you're crying, and your husband is looking at both of you with a helpless look on his face.  And, on top of all of that, the only way to get your baby to stop screaming is to breastfeed, which no one at the hospital really told you how to do.

(This picture in no way truly shows the ugly that I'm referring to.  In reality its much, much messier, uglier, and at least two out of the three of us are covered in spit up.)

While I was still pregnant, another one of my new mom friends told me she'd rather give birth twice than have to go through the first 2 weeks of breast feeding.  At that point, I thought she was crazy.  And now, I totally get it.

Whether it was error on my part or truly a baby who didn't want to latch, I will never know, but feeding from the breast was just not for us.  Maybe it will be for a future baby, but for Thompson and I, it just wasn't going to happen.  Those first few days I would just dread feeding him, it was painful, and he nursed for what seemed like forever.  In reality it was probably close to 30-45 minutes, but when they are eating every two hours (meaning two hours from when they started eating) you feel like you're constantly nursing.  A few days after he was born Thompson had his frenulum clipped because he was tongue tied, and we hoped that would help. We tried nipple shields to help with the latch and the pain, but then our dog George ate BOTH of the ones that I had.  I reached my breaking point when I was feeding him in the middle of the night and bawling from the pain, screaming to my husband through the tears "We're going to have a formula baby! I can't do this for one second longer!"

I have no issues what-so-ever with formula feeding.  I know the topic among moms is somewhat controversial, but I'm of the mindset that every mom should do what is best for her and for her baby.  And that looks different for everybody.  We may even decide down the road to make the switch to formula, I just don't know at this point what the future will hold.  I really wanted to make breast feeding work for me and Thompson for the first several months.  My body was producing the milk, so I wanted to be able to use what my body was making.  The challenge for me was just getting that milk into my baby's body.  That same night that I reached my breaking point, I went downstairs and filled a bottle with pumped milk I had in the refrigerator.  Thompson took it like a champ, and we never looked back.   I've now been exclusively pumping for over 4 months now, and that has been what works best for us, for now.

We hit a little speed bump this month with the development of a dairy allergy.  I now eat a pretty much dairy free diet, and after trying that for two weeks his tummy issues have finally cleared up.  (You can read a little more about that in this post)  I'm so glad that we found out what the issue was, but I have to admit it did just about kill me to have to get rid of the stash of over 300 ounces of frozen milk I had worked so hard to build up.  I was able to donate it though, so it didn't have to go to waste.

I plan to publish a separate post either later today or tomorrow with a few tips I've found helpful throughout the last four months of exclusively pumping.  There are a few items I couldn't live without.  I've had to make this process as convenient as possible so that I wasn't ever tempted to stop.

So while this post isn't for everyone, I hope it may resonate with somebody.  When I was making the decision to exclusively pump, I didn't find many resources out there to read about other women's experiences.  And selfishly, I'm writing all of this down because I'll probably forget it in several years when I have another little one.  If you have any questions what-so-ever about what I have done to make this work for us, please don't hesitate to ask!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Thompson is 4 Months

Our sweet boy is now four months old.   He is now 16.3 lbs (64th percentile) and measures 25" long (39th percentile).  Thankfully his body has caught up with his head which is now in the 59th percentile, down from the 90th.  He's now rolling from back to front and front to back, and absolutely loves to jump in his Jumperoo.

Right at the three month mark, Thompson started having tummy issues.  We were at the beach on family vacation when it all started.  And when it came, it came on strong.  I'll spare you the details, but suddenly I went from changing one dirty diaper a day to about 12-15.   After several trips to the pediatrician and running tests, we came to the conclusion that he has a dairy allergy.  Since he is still exclusively receiving breast milk, I needed to cut out all dairy from my diet.  We're now three weeks into eating dairy free, and finally things are back to normal.  Cutting all dairy out of my diet has definitely been a challenge, but it's been good for us.  I've had cut out a lot of processed foods, and we're eating more of a clean diet these days.  I do really miss pizza and ice-cream though...oh, and real milk in my coffee.

While I haven't felt or seen any teeth breaking through his gums, he's well on the way to teething.  Drooling like crazy and chewing on everything.  His favorite things to chew on are Sophie the Giraffe and Nuby Teether Keys.  I also switched him from a Nuk pacifier to a MAM paci because they don't have a hook (he uses that to pull it out of his mouth), and they are more breathable on his skin.  

He's now wearing mostly 6 month clothes, but still manages to squeeze into a few 3 month outfits.  His torso is so long though, and I'm afraid he may outgrow a lot of his 6 month outfits before the fall is over.  I remember holding 6 month clothing up when he was a newborn and thinking that it looked SO big.  I just can't believe he's already fitting in them.  I bought this Sherpa Lined Vest for him the other week, and cannot wait to see him in it.  Never thought I'd get so excited about baby boy clothing. 

With every month, Thompson's personality starts to show more and more. His food allergy hasn't effected his attitude at all.  He's still the sweet happy giggly baby that he was before all this came about.  I can't wait to see what new developments come about in this next month!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Family Vacation in Oak Island

It's only taken me 4 months, but I've finally set aside a little bit of time to post something other than Thompson's monthly update.   Other than those monthly updates, I haven't posted anything since late spring.   We had quite a whirlwind of a summer.  T and I spent those first months getting to know our newborn and adjusting to being first time parents.   Because Thompson was born in late May, the majority of our summer was spent indoors keeping him cool and out of the sun.   We had a few little outings here and there, but nothing major.  We were able to end the summer with a family trip to Oak Island, NC where he finally got to dip his toes into the ocean.

Being away from home for a week and not having easy access to all the baby gear and gadgets we were used to was tough, but it was so nice to get a little escape.  My sister Sarah hadn't gotten a chance to meet Thompson yet, and I was so glad that she got to come for the entire week with us. My oldest sister, April, her husband, and their two daughters were also there along with my parents.    It was so nice to have my entire family there to lend a helping hand if T and I needed a break.  Thompson has seriously been the easiest and best baby ever, but sometimes it's nice to hand him off to a grandparent or aunt and just check out for a few minutes.   Here's a few photos from our trip.

I'll be back in just a couple of days with Thompson's 4 month update.  Hope y'all are having a great week!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Thompson is Three Months

Well, for the 3rd month in a row, Thompson's monthly update has been the only post I've managed to write. The little guy has been keeping me busy and business is picking up a lot, so my blog has taken last priority unfortunatley.

Thompson, you are now three months old!  You are quite a big boy, weighing in at 15 lbs, and your easy going and happy personality is really starting to shine.  Nothing makes me happier than seeing that toothless grin and hearing your giggle.  You also love to babble and blow saliva bubbles, and you cackle every time we fake sneeze in front of you.  Dad has also started to play airplane with you, which really gets you laughing.

You're now wearing size 2 diapers and wearing mostly 0-3 month clothes.  Some 6 month and even 6-12 month outfits fit you now, which blows my mind.  You've got really good head control now, and we can even sit you in the Bumbo for short periods of time with close supervision.

You're still drinking strictly breast milk. You never wanted to latch, so I have now been exclusively pumping for 3 months.  It's a little more work on my part, but thanks to a good quality portable pump I've been able to make it work.  You take 5 bottles a day, ranging from 5-7 ounces each, and you drink them like a champ. Drinking them has never been a problem for you, but keeping that milk down has been the issue.  You spit up like nobody's business.  Most days I don't even bother to dress you because you'll end up soaked in minutes.  We do a lot of hanging around the house in diapers.

(Sidenote: would any of y'all be interested in a post about exclusively pumping?  I know I struggled to find a lot of information on it when I was exploring this option.  If so, leave a comment or shoot me an email to let me know you would.  I would be happy to share everything I've learned so far!)

You've really adjusted well to the Moms On Call schedule we put you on.  Not only has it been good for you, but it's great for me and planning my workday.  I know what hours of the day you'll be down so that I can arrange to get all of my work done during that time.  At this point you're sleeping for 18-19 hours a day, which has been absolutely amazing.  You also are sleeping in a Merlin's Magic Sleep Suit, which has worked wonders on your sleeping habits.  I'm able to get all of my work done while you're asleep, so that we can have great quality time together in the few hours that you are awake.  I'm praying that these good sleeping habits will follow you through your first year.  

Your hair has started falling out in the most peculiar pattern.  Your Aunt April described it as "epic hair" and that truly is the only word I can think of to describe it.  You're almost bald on the sides, but still have a thick tuft of long brown hair on top.  It's quite a hipster look from the front.  From the back, not so much.  You have an insane cow lick which sends the back of your hair standing straight up like alfalfa, a little bald spot from where your head rubs in the crib, and then a line of hair at the top of your neck straight mullet style.  Epic, truly epic.  

Sweet boy we fall more and more in love with you each day.  We are so thankful that God chose us to be your parents. You are so incredibly loved. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Thompson is Two Months

This is a few weeks late, but better late than never!
Thompson, you are two months old!  You're such a happy baby, and quite a little chunk.  At your two week appointment you weighed 12 lbs 14 oz (70th percentile), your length was 23.25"(66th percentile), and your head circumference was in the 90th percentile.  You've outgrown all of your newborn clothes, and you're primarily in 0-3 month clothing. A few 3-6 month outfits even fit you now.  You're in size 1 diapers, but they're starting to get a little snug.  We'll probably move you to size 2's for night time soon.  

You're still taking breastmilk exclusively, and take a 5-7 ounce bottle every 3.5 hours.  This month, we decided to put you on the Moms On Call schedule, and you've adjusted so well to it.  Within 1 week of putting you on the schedule, you were already sleeping so much better through the nights.  At 8 weeks, we moved you to the next schedule, and you're now sleeping all the way through the night!  Hallelujah.  

Per Moms On Call recommendations, we swaddle you each night.  You're quite an escape artist, and the the Miracle Blanket is the only swaddle blanket you can't get out of.  You always want your left leg out of the swaddle, and if we don't leave it out, you somehow find a way to wiggle it out of there. 

We have tummy time at least once a day for 5 minutes.  It's not your favorite, but you put up with it and you're getting stronger and stronger each week.  At your 2 month appointment, the pediatrician told us you were very close to rolling over,  and the next day you rolled over from front to back just like it was nothing!  This is a few months ahead of when babies usually roll over, and your grandma thinks you're going to be our little athlete. 

At around 5 weeks, we noticed that you were really only looking to your right side, never to the left.  I switched your orientation in the crib and on your changing pad, and also switched the side that I give you your bottle on, and that has helped a lot.   A girlfriend who's a physical therapist also gave me a few exercises to do with you, and I think the combination of all of these things has got you turning your head to both the left and right now.  The pediatrician did notice a little more flatness on the right side of your head, but wasn't concerned about it.  

You've now started to smile when we smile at you, and even laugh a little bit.  It melts my heart every time I see you do it.  

We took a trip to my parents' lake house and stayed in their cabin for the weekend.  They're building a house and staying in a small rental for the time being, so we stayed in the cabin that they have on their property.  You took a little dip in the lake, and loved the boat ride. 

You have grown so much over these last two months.  I notice something new that you're doing almost every day, and it never ceases to amaze me.  

Friday, July 8, 2016

Thompson Is One Month

Holy moly, I can't believe it's already been one month.   Sweet boy, we are over the moon in love with you already.  You're such a good baby.  You love to be held by mom, and you only get fussy when you're hungry.  You eat every 2-3 hours, and take about 3-4 oz of breastmilk at each feeding.  We didn't have the easiest time with you latching, so I now exclusively pump and bottle feed you.  You take a bottle like a champ, and seem so much happier after we switched you to bottles.  You're not too picky about bottles either, you'll drink it warm or freezing cold right out of the fridge.

At around 2 weeks, we introduced a pacifier.  You don't need it all the time, but like it when you're about to take a nap, or to tide you over when you just start to get hungry.   You're sleeping really well in the Rock 'n Play beside our bed, and you also love to take naps in the mamaRoo.  You sleep best though when you're belly to belly laying on mom or dad, or in the Ergo 360 carrier.

During the first several weeks, you had several visitors come to meet and hold you.  You are one lucky little man, you've got many aunties who love you so much. 

At six days old, you had your first photoshoot.  You were wide awake during most of the shoot, so we captured your pretty blue eyes in a lot of the pictures.   Your eyes have already started to get a little bit lighter, and the pediatricians are saying that they think they'll stay blue.  

In this first month, you've grown quite a bit.  You're now 10.66 lbs, 22.5 inches tall, and have a head circumference of 15.35 inches.  You measure in the 59th percentile for weight, the 86th for height, and the 92nd for head size.  You've also moved up from newborn diapers to size 1.   Most newborn clothes still fit you, but you can also wear a lot of 0-3 month as well.

You've just started to make eye contact with mom and dad, and smile back when we smile at you.  It's only happened a handful of times so far, but it melts our hearts every time you do it.   You're a pretty good sleeper at night.  Usually going one 4 hour stent and one 3 hour stent.  We are counting down the days until you sleep through the night for the first time.

It took about 3 weeks for your umbilical cord to fall off, but as soon as that happened we gave you your first bath.  You LOVE a bath in your Puj Tub.   For a baby that doesn't like being naked, I was surprised that you like the water so much.

We took a trip to Columbia to the house that I grew up in to say goodbye.  Even though you'll never remember, I was so glad that you got to visit my childhood home one time before my parents moved. 

During your first month we took two big road trips and you were great during both of them.  You love your carseat, so car rides and stroller rides put you right to sleep. We spent a weekend in Mocksville, NC where you took your first dip in the pool. 

And traveled to Plains, GA for a family reunion where you stole the heart of a very special man.  Everyone told us what a well behaved baby you were, and you were definitely the littlest baby there.  Your great grandfather was cousins with Jimmy Carter, they grew up together in Georgia.  We were invited to a family reunion last weekend, and were so excited that you got to meet him.

Baby Thompson we love you so much, and can't wait to see all the great things that month two with you will bring!

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