Tag Archives: work

An Evolution

7 Aug

I always knew I’d breastfeed. But when I set out to nurse, I think I saw breastfeeding as a static, uniform thing — you did it or you didn’t, and for those who did, it was just all the same. As a new parent, it was both enlightening and reassuring to discover that’s not true. It is, in fact, extremely nuanced, as individual as the ones doing it. But I also discovered that as soon as you find your footing, things change. Like your baby, breastfeeding and the breastfeeding relationship is a living, ever-changing creature.

So in honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I’m sharing with you the evolution of my breastfeeding experience… two and half years of the ups, downs, tears, joys, and mundane of nourishing my little one (and myself) in the process.

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Pre-birth – I suppose this started years ago when I watched my step mother nurse twins for 18 months. I’d never seen a baby breastfeed before and this seemed revolutionary to me at the time (at 15). Closer to time for z-baby’s birth, though, I took a breastfeeding class at work and attended some lunchtime discussions at work for nursing moms (led by a lactation consultant). A few days before I gave birth I started getting nervous and watched every video I could find from Dr. Jack Newman. I watched healthy newborn latches over and over and over…

Birth – Let’s just say it didn’t go as planned. I wanted to nurse right away but z-baby was in a transition nursery for over 6 hours. When I did get him, we started right away and he latched — but not a great one. I had already asked for a lactation consultant and we saw them three times before we left the hospital. Z-baby was a sleeper… he wanted to eat, but he wanted to sleep even more. So my most vivid memory of those days was stripping him down each and every time he needed to eat (so he didn’t feel too cozy) and gently nudging him awake throughout every feed. Z-baby’s papi took this very seriously, like his personal mission those first few days.

Month 1 – My milk came in quickly and plentiful and z-baby was a great eater. I loved nursing, but it was soooooo painful. But not in the way I could have imagined. I had a bit of Carpal Tunnel during the pregnancy, and it kicked into overdrive those few weeks following birth. My hands would freeze up like hooks and I was terrified I’d drop the baby. And my hands didn’t just go numb, they ached and pain shot up through to my elbows. I remember crying through several of those feedings from the pain. My mom or husband would have to either support the baby or my breast or both. It sucked (no pun intended). I couldn’t sit down to nurse without water and a towel because there was so much milk it seemed to get everywhere!
*Nursing equipment was very important: Boppy upstairs, Brest Friend downstairs, multiple towels, nipple cream, pads for the bra, nursing bra.

Months 2-3 – When the painful claw hands went away, nursing became a breeze. I loved it still, and enjoyed every minute of it. Then I had to have my gallbladder taken out and we happily fell into co-sleeping, which made the night-time nursing even better. Z-baby loved nursing and was still in that pre-wiggler phase where he’d pretty much stay put through a whole feeding and was serious about his nursing… no playing for this guy… yet!
*Equipment: We dropped the nipple cream around this time and started trying the pump and bottles. 

Nursing z-baby, 5 weeks

Months 4-9 – I went back to work after 3 months and it was hell. H-E-L-L. Z-baby refused all bottles and reversed cycled. My first day back I had an off-site meeting and tried to pump in the car, only to realize I had no batteries or charger. I got so engorged but survived. I was at a leading public health agency in the country and they had lactation rooms and pumps which were great, but it was still a challenge to find the time during the day to do it and an open time slot in the rooms. I luckily telecommuted several days a weeks and had someone watching the baby in the house, so I could just nurse those days. But on days when I wasn’t home, z-baby waited for me all day and then we nursed all night. I welcomed the nursing, but he would be so hungry that he’d overeat and puke everywhere and I could never keep up with the laundry. We introduced some solids in here but he could care less. Most of this is a blur for me because the postpartum depression set in during this time, though I wasn’t fully aware of it. But I know I worried all day about z-baby not eating and raced home to be with him and only then was I ever at ease. And in those early days of still undiagnosed postpartum depression, it was the nursing that kept me going… alive even.
*Equipment: Pump, pump, pump. And pump some more. Sometime during this time we also stopped using the nursing pillows.

Months 10-14 – I finally started getting treatment for the postpartum depression, and while this was still a very difficult time, it did start to get a little better. Breastfeeding was still the light at the end of the tunnel each and every day. Looking down and seeing z-baby and seeing him relish the time as much as I did left me speechless. Or maybe it was from the biting, I can’t remember. No longer just a wiggler on the couch, he’s a roller during nursing, too. He nurses upside down and sideways, bouncing and swaying. I never knew my nipples were so flexible… I still overproduced and donated gallons (and gallons…) of it to a friend. But I’m finally not gushing every time I go to nurse.
*Equipment: I think I still used nursing pads when at work or separated from z-baby, and the pump, of course.

Months 14-24 – I stopped working, put away the pump, and started staying at home with z-baby full time. Life is goooooooooooooood. Nursing becomes something I do often throughout the day, but no longer think about. Z-baby became vocal about his nursing during this time and asked for it frequently. Nursing in public became both easier and more difficult. Easier because he could just sit in front of me and I could angle away from people… harder because he never stayed in one position and insisted my shirt be ALL the way up to give him total access. I struggled with the decision to wean or not so that I can get pregnant again, but it just never felt right. Z-baby went through lots of ups and downs… times when he needed to nurse a lot (usually growth and developmental spurts and teething) and periods where he didn’t nurse as much. Biting still an off and on issue, and the nipple fiddling started (playing with one while eating off the other). Momma became a serve yourself buffet during this time — z-baby would pull up my shirt and insist on his “deeta” whenever he wanted it.
*Equipment: A chair. That’s it. No pads, towels, creams, pillows, nothing. Oh, and a nursing bra. But I had to be careful somedays because he sees the act of sitting down as an open invitation.

Months 24-30 – Here we are, nursing at 2 1/2 years. Nursing is still an acrobatic act, day and night. We’ve pared it down to going down and waking up from naps and bedtime. He’s starting to respect my wishes some — needing to wait or stop during the night, for example. But he manages which side he wants and the exact position he wants it in. I also have to nurse cars and trains, and he’s even tried to push it up so I can have some, too (such a helper!). He even managed to get chocolate milk out of me one day (that’s a post for another day)!!! He had his first sleepover with grandma (our first night apart!), which was his first night ever that he didn’t nurse. And just very recently did I hit the nursing wall. I’ve finally gotten to the point where I’m ready to wean. I know I’ll miss it, and I can’t imagine motherhood without it (at first at least), but I’m ready. Is he? I don’t think so, and we’re working on potty training so I won’t do anything right away… but we’ll see what the future holds for us.
*Equipment: Nada. Except for the darn bra! There are times when he needs a quick comfort session of about 3 seconds and I don’t even sit anymore… just bend over.

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Two and half years of breastfeeding. No cracked nipples, plugged ducts, or mastisis. A little bit of yeast once. Overproduction and numb hands. Gallons of milk in my freezer. Lugging the pump to work and z-baby on a week-long business trip. Surgery and anesthesia. Postpartum depression and medication. Nursing pads, pillows, and towels. Reverse cycling and cosleeping. Nursing in bed, on the couch, at the table, typing, writing, on the phone, in the car, in public, in therapy, on planes, in meetings, standing up, sitting down, bending over. Two and half years. And I wouldn’t trade a single minute of it for anything in the world.

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Half-way through the year…

16 Jul

July marks the year’s half-way point so I thought it appropriate to check in on my New Year’s intentions and see where things stand. Back on Jan 2, I posted a list of things I was grateful for the from the past year, things I wanted to leave behind this year, and things I welcomed in the new year and hoped to manifest. Here’s a quick update on where things stand:

Things I want to release and leave behind:

  • DepressionStill working on this one (mainly the anxiety). But moving in the right direction, so I feel good about it.
  • Fear of failure This is a biggie. I’ve made some recent decisions despite this fear… but does it ever go away?
  • Fear of taking risks to do what I want because it doesn’t seem to be the responsible or logical decision Took a major leap of faith this year despite logic and so far I still feel good about it. So not like me!
  • Disappointment in and anger at in-laws right after baby was born I guess I’m over this. Just putting it out there was probably enough to get it out of my system.
  • Unhealthy pattern of not exercising, eating out too muchMaking good headway here. We don’t eat out very much at all anymore and I’m cooking every day and walking almost every day. Just need to work more on the walking.

Things I welcome in the new year and wish to manifest:

  • Becoming a stay-at-home momAchieved. Wow. This was huge. Still set up to work part time but haven’t so far. Did I mention this is huge?
  • Healing from the postpartum depression — Actively working on it and feeling good about progress to date, especially in light of recent transitions.
  • Freedom from perceived dependency on current work situationSo. Damn. Free. Yes!
  • Continued financial stability for our familySo far, so good. Major changes, but we’re making it. One of my biggest worries still.
  • Trust in sig-o’s ability to provide for our family — I trust.
  • Starting my own business!Still not sure how to fit this in. There’s always time, I guess.
  • Another pregnancy, if that’s what the universe has in store for us — I’ve thought about it and just don’t know if I’m ready yet or not. But definitely not off the table for this year.
  • Health and wellness for the family — With the exception of a recent setback with my back, we’re doing great. Hope to keep it that way!

Practically Paralyzed

31 Mar

I’m supposed to be working. But I can’t. I’m practically paralyzed with anxiety. About what? Everything and nothing.

I’m undoubtedly anxious about the impending life changes ahead of us — new jobs, new town, new home… But even when I can calm those things down inside me, I’m still left jittery, unable to concentrate on tasks at hand. So  I pace. I’m working from home today, so I’ve started some laundry. I go upstairs and then down again. I obsessively check email and websites for new rental properties to pop up throughout the day. My dog thinks I’m crazy and my blood pressure must be WAY up.  You’d think I was strung out on caffeine, but I haven’t had a drop in days.

I feel bad for not working (the goody two shoes in me), but really I want to scream at them, “Shove it up your arse!” I can’t take it anymore…what was I thinking agreeing to work longer? This is awful… I can’t even fake it.

Off to pace some more…

I did it!

9 Feb

Feeling empty these days. Not even in a necessarily bad way… but just empty. Which is why I haven’t been writing much this past week. I don’t feel like I have anything to say. I can’t tell if it’s from increased anxiety or a lot less of it, which I know makes no sense at all, but it’s true.

So in the meantime, here’s an update on my work situation: Well, I did it! Yesterday I met with my client and told her that I would no longer be working on her project. I gave her 2 weeks notice but told her I would have to go part time. Overall she was ok with everything, but then made a few crappy comments about what a shock it was and how difficult it was that I didn’t give notice when I went on short-term disability for postpartum depression (she knew the reason). If I had needed surgery or broken my leg, she wouldn’t even be making this comment, which really pisses me off. I didn’t engage or let it get to me in the moment, and it just reinforced why I need to stop working with her.

I feel at peace with my decision… better than I’ve felt in a long time, actually. I know it was the right thing to do and I’m proud of myself for having done it. There I said it. Proud of myself 😉

Back to work…

7 Feb

It was inevitable, I suppose. I’m off to work tomorrow. I think. It’s turned into such a soap opera…

I met with my supervisor this week and told him that I would be going to part time and would need to change projects. My current client is still pissed I left on disability in the first place (and she knows I did it due to postpartum depression), and won’t respond to my calls or emails. I let her know I’m starting back Monday, but nothing. So my supervisor has asked me to hold off on going in until we hear something back. So I may be going in and I may not. Dunno. My overall plan was to do 2 full time weeks on the current project then shift to a different project and go part time only. I went in with my resignation letter tucked away just in case, but this seems like a reasonable, temporary solution that I can live with. Now if I can just get through these last two weeks…

I’m not feeling too terribly anxious. I guess that the lead up to the decision and having to break it to my supervisor was worse than actually going back. Of course, it’s easy when you know it’s just a few days…I can put up with almost anything for just a few days. I’m sure I’ll have plenty to vent about on here, but that brings me to a topic I haven’t really talked about on here yet — paranoia. I may have mentioned that I was dealing with a bit of it and the doc added a medication for it. Well, the greatest part of it is related to my client — I’m totally paranoid that she can hear me when I talk about her. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll have a lot to vent about…if I can bring myself to do it. Whew…even writing that much made me sweat!

Dumpdom

1 Feb

Took a dip the past two days. And I don’t mean skinny. I started out feeling ok and even got excited about the prospect of getting the house sold, which energized me to put away at least two weeks worth of laundry. But then, for some reason, I just dipped into the nether-regions of dumpdom. I’m cranky and weepy and it’s not PMS. My anxiety is through the roof because I’m giving notice tomorrow at work. We can’t handle it financially but we’ve decided my health is more important than our finances and material things. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the house will sell and sig-o will get another job that will allow us to relocate. Wish me luck…

Vent of the day — Today my sister-in-law and mother-in-law told me that they think all my problems right now are because the doc messed up my epidural during delivery. This is just another of their attempts to tell me I’m not really depressed and that I don’t really need medication. Gee, thanks…

The spa episode

31 Jan

I’ve mentioned my sig-o in other posts but thought it was time to dedicate a post just to him. He knows that I have this blog but isn’t allowed to read it, so he’ll never know he got his own post…but I think he deserves it anyway.

Now sig-o is a good guy. He’s charismatic to the power of 10. He’s a guy everyone loves. And he’s been very supportive as we deal with this postpartum depression. But it wasn’t always that way.

All I can say is that before I started getting treatment — that is, before a doc validated that I was going through something more than just being stressed out at work and more than being worn out — he was totally whack. We weren’t communicating, we bickered all the time, and he was just plain stupid. I mean it. I very nearly strangled him one day and that was the beginning of my breaking into pieces.

Picture this. It was a Wednesday and I was teleworking that day. The babysitter was at the house watching the baby and I took breaks to nurse (always quicker than pumping!) in between meetings and conference calls. I had a couple of deadlines in the afternoon. Sig-o decided he would go to a coffee shop to work on some stuff since he was having a hard time concentrating at home. I bid him farewell and kept on working. During an excruciatingly boring conference call, I ran around and did some laundry and fixed dinner and asked the babysitter to do a couple of things before she left. It was her day to leave early, and before leaving, sig-o promised he’d be back in time to take the baby so I didn’t have to worry about those deadlines. 2pm came and went and no sig-o. So I call and call and call and no answer. By 3pm the nanny left and still no sig-o. So now I’m trying to get a crying baby to sleep, the dog needs to go out and it’s raining, and sig-o still won’t answer his phone. FINALLY he calls and says “OMG I didn’t realize what time it is — my brother invited me to lunch and I lost track of time. I’m on my way home right now and I’ll be there in 15 minutes.” 30 minutes later he shows up and whisks the baby off and seems annoyed that I’m exasperated with the baby and pissed that’s he late.

I finish my work for the day, exhausted, and collapse on the living room floor. He comes downstairs and we have dinner and afterwards he tells me, “You seem really stressed out. Why don’t you take Mommy night today and go out.” I mumble back something about being too tired to go out even, and then he says, “No, you should really go out. Why don’t you go to the spa? That would make you feel so much better. That’s where I was today — it would really help you.”

Now just imagine footage of a nuclear bomb going off and a mushroom cloud, because that’s all I could see in my head. I wanted to kill him. Lucky for him that I was holding the baby and there was a counter between the two of us because I could so easily have strangled him right then and there. THE SPA? Are you shitting me? I’ve been busting my ass all day and I feel like shit as it is and you’ve been at THE FUCKING SPA? I was so furious, so enraged, that I literally couldn’t say anything. I just handed him the baby and left the room, shaking. He was still standing there looking dumbfounded, like “was it something I said?” Later I managed to say, “I thought you went to lunch with your brother today.” He says, “Yeah. We ate at the spa.” Grrrrrrr……

That little episode landed us in a few sessions of couple’s counseling and was the beginning of my unraveling. Things went downhill quickly from there and when I finally reached out for help he was surprised that things were as bad as they were. And he didn’t even know until recently just how bad things were. Since that time, though, he’s been a saint. I can’t ask for anything more…he’s been really helpful.

So I guess there are a few morals to this story: 1) Men are just stupid. 2) Really. They are. 3) Even if your sig-o is totally whack, too, there’s still a chance that he’ll turn it around and be the great guy you know he is.