Posts filed under ‘Parenting’

Hello, I Am An Exclusive Pumper

An exclusive pumper, or an “EP” as we in the business like to say (mostly because we’re on Twitter and “EP” takes up only 2 of our 140 characters instead of 16), is a woman who exclusively pumps her breastmilk and does not nurse. I don’t discuss this often on my blog because, well, there are several dudes who read this and for some reason, breastmilk gives men the heebie jeebies. Probably because most men think that breasts aren’t for work, they are for play. Or maybe the idea of juices coming from a human is too much to handle. Well get over it. Or at least skip today’s post. This is what is happening in my life and I’m going to talk about it.

There are several reasons for making this decision. I assume the most popular is that you want to provide the benefits of breastmilk, but for some reason or another your baby won’t latch properly. So instead of fighting with your newborn every few hours, you throw in the towel and let Medela do all the work.

That wasn’t exactly my reason. When I came home from the hospital, I was in serious need of some boob drainage. I had two massive bowling balls attached to my chest and I couldn’t concentrate on anything but the throbbing pain of my skin being stretched to its limits. I don’t remember the circumstances but I couldn’t nurse. Maybe he wouldn’t eat enough? Not sure. That part is fuzzy. All I know is that Stephen encouraged me to find refuge in my pump, and that’s exactly what I did.

I nursed exclusively for weeks but I knew I’d eventually have to start pumping. I had a mere 6 weeks for maternity leave and I needed to build up a stockpile so Jansen would have food while I was at work. So after I nursed, I’d pump. As I did this, I realized how efficient pumping was. I knew how much I was producing, it didn’t hurt as bad, it encouraged more production, and most of all, my Medela Pump in Style didn’t have ADD.

We got to the stage where Jansen would be awake while eating. He no longer closed his eyes for the duration of his meals. Turns out, this kid is a curious little one. He looked around and took it all in… taking me along for the ride. It wasn’t enjoyable in the slightest. But the worst part is that his feedings took forever. I was getting frustrated just sitting there for up to 45 minutes while Jansen wretched his neck to see a ceiling fan, yet still not knowing how much he’d actually eaten. Frustration combined with postpartum hormones is a nasty thing. I started resenting Jansen when he was hungry. NOT AGAIN! And I have one of those amazing babies that only eats every 4 hours, so it’s not like Jansen was being unreasonable. So I started to bottle feed when I was in a hurry or away from the home. It was SO EASY.

That’s when the thought crossed my mind. Is it crazy? Do people ever do this? Is there any reason why I shouldn’t quit nursing? I had honestly never heard of such a thing. I figured that even when I went back to work, I’d nurse when I could and pump when I couldn’t. I asked The Google. Apparently exclusive pumping is a real thing and people do it all the time. Instantly a weight was lifted off my shoulders. This was my answer.

I had a goal to breastfeed until Jansen was 6 months, but I knew that at the rate I was going, I wouldn’t last that long. I wanted to provide breastmilk, not just because of the benefits but because it’s cheaper than formula. Pumping would allow me to do that.

It’s been bittersweet. I hate how much time I spend with that stupid machine. I hate that I still go through phases where it hurts as bad as it did when I started. I hate that it’s unreliable, sometimes producing 4 ounces and other times producing 8. I hate that I have to take supplements (Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle) in order to maintain production. I hate that people give me back-handed compliments like, “Good for you! Formula is terrible.” I hate that even though I spend approximately 3-4 hours pumping every day, I still have to supplement with formula.

But I also love it. I feel like a provider, like this is a way for me to show Jansen how much I love him. (I know that probably doesn’t make sense to anyone but me. Pumping is a labor of love.) I love that I save money. I love that it forces me to sit still and read for a bit. I love that it gets me out of my office for an hour at lunch, even though I sit in a shady parking lot with homeless men occasionally tapping on my window. I love that I am still losing weight (I think… I don’t believe in scales) but I’ve also been able to keep my pregnancy boobs. See? Bittersweet.

Did you notice yesterday that it was Jansen’s six month birthday? Which means that I reached my 6 month breastfeeding goal. As the day approached, the topic weighed heavily on my mind. Do I quit? Do I keep going? How do I quit? How long to I keep this up? Was there even a right answer? No. No, there isn’t. Because inevitably there are 20 women on one side of me telling me I’m doing great and giving me a “pass” to quit, but then there are 20 on the other side that are on month 9 with no desire to slow down. There are women who think breastmilk is the equivalent of immortality potion. But there are women who don’t think twice about giving their baby formula from day 1. And while I know their thoughts and feelings shouldn’t matter to me, they do.

Stephen and I laid in bed on Tuesday night discussing my options. I decided that I’m annoyed because it’s win-win and lose-lose. I’m thankful that it is my decision and not some outside source (lack of production) making me quit. What it all boils down to is this: I’m not mentally prepared to quit. It’s too hard. It’s too permanent. And it’s basically saying that my baby is growing up, and I’m just not prepared for that right now. So I’ll just cut down to 3 pumps per day, and not worry about the amount of production. (Although there is absolutely nothing worse than putting in the time to pump and only getting 4 ounces. It’s a terrible feeling.)

I didn’t feel great about my decision but I had a slight hint that I was making to right one. I woke up yesterday for my early morning pump. I got 9.5 ounces. At lunch I got 6.5 ounces. My third pump of the day was 5.5 ounces. Okay God, message received. You’ve made it abundantly clear that I’ve made the right decision. I’m going to keep on until you’ve made it abundantly clear that it’s time to quit. I’m going to be thankful for what You’ve provided and try not to whine about it. But also, I’m going to whine a little because it makes me feel better. I’m going to try to stop comparing myself to every other mother in the continental U.S. and just concern myself with the Hurst family. Because we all know that this is only the beginning of Mommy Guilt and Child Comparison and I think we can all agree that it’s well-wasted on a topic like this.

March 3, 2011 at 7:00 am 15 comments

The Birth Story – Part 4

(Click here for Part 1)
(Click here for Part 2)
(Click here for Part 3)

The room was almost silent except for all the beeps and heartbeats coming from the machine next to me. There were heavy breaths from Stephen who had just dozed off. And then there was an occasional sound of a piece of paper coming from my sister who had decided to stay in the room and read a book. She said she wanted to stay because that chair was better and it was quieter, but I’m sure the real reason is because she wanted to be close to the action.

Then we heard it. A blood curdling scream. There were no words at first, just the sound of a woman in the next room in serious pain. Then came the words. “OH MY GOOOOOOOOOD!” We all looked at each other with wide eyes. “OOOHHHH. THIS HURTS LIKE HELL!” Screaming and more screaming.

“Screw the sleep, y’all. I can’t do this. No. This has got to go. I’m about to have to DO that. I can’t listen to that!” So I turned on the television which, in my memory, was located about 30 feet away. The remote was attached to the bed and the sound came out of it. I found something on television that didn’t feature any screaming, blood, pain, or babies and I turned the volume up and put it right by my ear.

A few minutes later my nurse came in to check on me and read the secret number code that was coming out of the machine next to me. The fetal monitor, my monitor, my IV bag, my epidural which was under lock and key, my pee bag, and my blood pressure stats. I felt like a freak show being attached to so many cords and wires, they’d even added a danger-red wristband that said “FALL RISK” to the collection I had around my wrist.

I looked up at my nurse with wide eyes, “Are you hearing this?” She looked back at me and with a sigh and a nice eye roll she replied, “That chick needs to learn how to breathe!” I thought she was being snarky (and I liked it) but then she went on to explain how all of her screaming was taking her energy and oxygen and blah blah blah, she was making her life a lot harder than it needed to be. That was the extent of what I was told at that point. The following day I learned that she’d gotten an epidural but it “didn’t take.” I don’t really know what that means but if I’d had my epidural for longer than 30 minutes and my legs hadn’t gone numb, you’d better believe my doctor would be in there jerry-rigging the heck out of that epidural catheter!

My epidural actually was wearing off and I was beginning to feel the strength of my contractions. They were totally bearable but I knew that it would continue to wear off and I had the worst of it yet to come. They gave me one more pump of the good stuff and I prayed it would last. I don’t know why my body doesn’t understand that painkillers are supposed to kill the pain. I will continue to blame migraines.

It was getting late (around 11:30, I’d guess) so people decided to go home and get some sleep. They knew there was a chance that it could still be several more hours. My FIL went home for a nap, my sister and SIL’s went to my house for a bit, and my parents and MIL continued to try to nap in the waiting room. Stephen went back to sleep in his little twin bed and I tried to go to sleep. I found that it was hard to sleep while your eyes were as round as coke bottles and you were staring at the clock. I rested my hands on my belly, simultaneously begging Jansen to hurry up and also to stay put for the rest of our lives. I was so excited, but so very terrified.

At around 12:50 I thought I might be getting this elusive bowel movement feeling they warned me about. I wasn’t sure though and I didn’t want to cry wolf. I put all of my effort into debating the question, “Do I feel like I need to poop or do I not feel like I need to poop??” I felt a lot of pressure down under and I assume that meant that Jansen was beginning his grand entrance… or grand exit. The last time I’d told a doctor that I “just felt a lot of pressure” was early the previous morning (since we were now into Thursday at this point) and that pressure had actually been contractions. So when my nurse walked in on perfect cue, she looked at my screen and then immediately looked at me.

“Your contractions are really strong.” Uh huh. “Yeah, I think I have that bowel movement pressure you warned me about. And yeah, these contractions are really strong.” She gloved up and checked my cervix. “Ten centimeters. It’s time.”

Time. It’s time. Already? I’ve only been here for 1, 2, 3, hmm, like 16 hours. How is it already time? It can’t be time, my husband is asleep!

“Stephen. Stephen, wake up. It’s time.” Stephen popped up. He was a bit taken off guard and kind of in a half-asleep state but he tried to ready himself for the big task at hand. “Can I put my shoes on? I want to put my shoes on.” So he sat back down on his bed and put his shoes on. The same shoes he put on the previous day to go to work, but instead went to the hospital.

My nurse was running around the room preparing everything. Towels and water and whatever else was needed. Stephen stood up with his shoes on and sleep still showing in his eyes, “Deanna, can I go to the bathroom before we start? Please?” So Stephen went to the bathroom and bought me a bit more time. He was back before I knew it. And Deanna told me that we were going to do some “practice pushing.”

Good, I thought. So it’s not actually time. We’ll just do some breathing exercises and wait it out a bit. She started to explain the process to me. “So wait. I push? Like I really push? Like hard? Like I’m trying to push him out?” Okay yeah, there is nothing practice about this. It’s just real pushing without the doctor. The quick lesson and ease of breathing further proved to me that you don’t need birthing classes if you’re getting an epidural. Your nurse is a genius and an angel and she’ll get you through it.

The room was dark and I felt like I was watching all of this happen from the outside. My husband was on my left, holding my leg and speaking words of encouragement to me. My nurse was on my right with my other leg and a wealth of invaluable knowledge. As I felt a contraction hit, I’d begin the process. Breathe, breathe, push, breathe, push, breathe, push. Then the contraction would be over. We’d sit and wait for the next one, and do it all again.

After about 10 minutes of this, my nurse told me to stop and she paged my doctor. Within minutes, my room was full – or so it seemed. My nurse, my doctor, the pedi nurse, and some other woman who I imagine was there incase of an emergency. My doctor got set up with her tools, hair cover, and gloves and turned on the overhead lights. I immediately felt the urge to close my legs and grab a blanket. I’d had my fair share of people looking at my business that day, but spotlights? Really?

Finally they were all in place and it was time to start pushing again. My nurse continued to be my encouragement while my doctor had her serious OB face on. Stephen was gitty and overwhelmed. The real pushing started. It was all very awkward. Since I only pushed during contractions, we had minute or two breaks when there was nothing going on. We had small talk. We discussed the weirdness of the day, the fact that my doctor had already delivered several babies that night and would still deliver a couple more before she got to go home, the baby’s name, how thrilled we were that I didn’t need any pitocin, how my body was made for making and birthing babies, etc.

With the next pushes, the head started coming out. “Stephen look!” my doctor said. He was already looking but she wanted to be she he was seeing it happen. “Oh my gosh! Awesome. Chelsea, the head! I see the head! He’s coming!” He was sort of bouncing up and down as he stood there holding my leg. It was so fun to see his excitement.

I continued to push. It hurt. No amount of drugs can prevent your body from the pain of pushing a human being out of it. It wasn’t bad, it was just there. I was more concerned with the fact that I was pushing so hard I thought my ears and eyes were going to burst off of my face. My doctor’s words changed from “push!” and “good job!” to “keeeeep going!” and “come on, almost there!” I could tell we were getting close. And all of a sudden, at 1:37 am on September 2, 2010, she said, “Okay stop pushing!” I could feel the pressure ease and see a 7 pound 14 ounce red, white, and purple thing get pulled from my body. He immediately peed on my doctor.

She laid Jansen on my stomach and I had no idea what I was supposed to do. He was filthy. And I’m sure my hands weren’t clean. Could I touch him? Should I touch him? He’s very pissed and naked and not really that cute. What’s happening? I told my doctor that Stephen wanted to cut the cord. She seemed excited by that. The cord was short, she told him, so he’d have to be careful. He was nervous but he did it.

The nurse took Jansen to the other side of the room for a quick clean and all the other stuff they do. Stephen went with them. I laid there, wondering what I was to do. I thought I’d have to do the push/breathe thing again to deliver my placenta. But it just sort of plopped out with a little tug from my doctor. Stephen was taking pictures of Jansen like a mad man. I think we have 12 pictures of fresh Jansen screaming on the table with his legs wide open and his newborn baby junk exposed for the world to see.

Stephen came back over to me, probably so he could see the placenta with his own eyes. My doctor showered me with compliments as I’m sure she does with all of her patience. Regardless, it felt good. I only had one tear so the stitches and recovery would be minimal. Once she was done and I was all cleaned up, they brought my little bundled baby to me. I didn’t cry, I didn’t instantly fall in love. I was overwhelmed and tired and mostly I was hungry.

I knew it would take me a while to bond with that baby in my arms. I don’t understand the people who say, “I fell in love the second I laid eyes on him.” I’m sorry, I didn’t. Sure, I loved him. But he didn’t feel like my son. He felt like a stranger.

A nurse came in to make me try nursing. Everything is a blur at this stage. It was after 2:00 am and I’d just been through the most life-changing event in my life. When I think back to this time, I remember it so differently than I think it really happened. I’m sure I wasn’t sitting in a gigantic white room on a random chair in the middle of the room. But that’s how I see it now.

They eventually took Jansen away again for his check ups and real cleaning. Stephen went along to show him off in the hallway to our family who had all come rushing back. I was only a slight fall risk at this point so my nurse walked my to the bathroom where I proceeded to pee the longest pee of my life. In reality though, it was mostly fluids. She walked me back to the bed and asked me if I wanted anything.

“Food. Please, food.” She brought me some chips or crackers or something and the most delicious can of Sprite I have ever laid lips on. We waited around for another hour or so because there hadn’t been a room available, and at 4:45 they finally wheeled me down to the room I’d be in for the next 2 days. It was a shared room but we were told it would be private in a few hours when the other new mom left.

I laid down and started dozing off while Stephen tried to make himself comfy on the new awkward chair-turned-twin-bed. We were asleep for about an hour before the nursery wheeled Jansen in to me and left him at my side. I had a slight panic attack that the people who were trained to handle babies would trust me with a newborn. Buck up, Chelsea. This is it. You’re a mom now and this little boy needs you. There’s no time for doubt or uncertainty, there is only time for parenting. And love, a lot of love.

I smiled and closed my eyes. It was a great day. It was shocking, long, and exhausting, yes. But it was the most exciting day of my life. It’s a day that I like to remember any time I have a free moment with my thoughts. And have no fear, it didn’t take long for me to fall hopelessly in love with this little boy. He’s pretty well wrapped around my finger and filling up my heart!

(The first picture of us as a family. The nurse caught this moment.)

(I will be posting all 4 parts as one piece tomorrow. You can ignore it, I just want to have it all in one place.)

February 25, 2011 at 6:50 am 22 comments

The Birth Story – Part 1

This has been a long time coming. I think we’re almost to the point where none of you care anymore, but I really feel like I need to get this on the blog so it’s here forever and ever.

Some people imagine that their labor will be a lot like the movies, they’ll be doing laundry while their husband is in the other room. They get a giant contraction and yell, “Honey, I think it’s time!” They speed off to the hospital, make it to the delivery room just in the nick of time, and 2 hours later they have a beautiful baby with a perfectly circular head in their hands. Other people assume their water will break and they’ll spend the next 17 hours huffing and puffing in the labor and delivery room before they have a rough battle delivering their baby.

Not me. I envisioned some contractions, strong but manageable. I imagined myself on the couch with Stephen saying, “Call your doctor! Where is your phone, I’ll call your doctor!” while I sit there repeating, “Not yet! Please, just sit down, shut up, rub my feet, and watch the clock.” You see, I didn’t want to be the first time momma who rushed to the hospital only to be sent home to wait it out or, worse, left to labor in a hospital room with nurses constantly asking me how I‘m feeling. I’m a people pleaser, it makes me feel bad to tell someone I’m feeling bad.

The thing about life is that you can’t predict it.

August 31 is my sister’s birthday, it fell on a Tuesday last year. That Tuesday night we gathered at my brother’s house to celebrate with my sister. We ate roast and mashed potatoes and I moaned… a lot. I wasn’t feeling well that day. I felt like I had gained 10 pounds in 24 hours and all of that weight was on my back and lower abdomen. I was miserable and it was written all over my face. I’m not sure that I smiled a single time that night. (Sorry Lindsay.) I was 37 weeks along and I repeated to anyone who would listen that I didn’t think this baby was going to wait much longer.

Jansen and I had a deal going on. He wasn’t due until September 19 but I had a feeling he’d want to come early because, let’s be realistic, he knew that life with Stephen and me would be fantastic. I had politely asked him to wait until September 1. My SIL turned 30 and had a big birthday party on Saturday the 28th. I wanted to be there and I wanted all the discussion to be about her, not on her little nephew that was freshly baked at the hospital. The same with my sister. As much as both of them said they wouldn’t mind sharing their birthday with their first nephew, I didn’t want to steal anyone’s thunder. (Remember: people pleaser.)

In the car on the way home from my sister’s birthday dinner, I told Stephen that I’d like him to do some research on the stages of labor. When the time comes, I’m not going to have the mental capacity to have any clue if this is “it” or if it’s just the beginning of a very long, exhausting previews of “it.” Also, I decided it was about time we pack a bag. I had a few things in a bag for a couple weeks because I’m a crazy person. But Stephen would need some clothes and we’d both need slippers because everyone knows that you can’t have an extended stay at a hospital without slippers.

Right when we got home, Stephen pulled out one of the books. He studied labor until he was comfortable in his knowledge. He packed his portion of the bag, and we went to sleep.

The morning of September 1, I had my 37 week OB appointment. The previous week I was 2 centimeters dilated and after my appointment, I’d had a serious case of Braxton Hicks. I had a feeling that if I felt that bad after last week’s appointment, I was likely to feel worse after this one. Stephen had quit coming to my appointments with me because neither of us saw the point of him missing several hours of work if there was no ultrasound involved. But because I had a yucky feeling about this one, I asked him to come with me. Every Wednesday morning he has breakfast with a few guys from church at the local Einstein’s Brothers, so he went to breakfast and came back to pick me up with a bagel in hand.

I felt better that morning than I had the previous night. I no longer felt that Jansen was about to fall out. (Can you imagine if it was really that easy? If you were just walking along and your baby just sort of slipped out?) We arrived at the doctor at 8:15 and sat down. They called my name and we went back. My nurse took my blood pressure and urine, good as always. She weighed me and I had only gained one or two pounds since the previous week, which was shocking to me since I was eating Oreos with wild abandon. My weight gain was up to 38 pounds as of that morning, and I was certain I’d hit the 50 pound mark by my due date.

My doctor came in at about 8:40 for my check up. I was 2 centimeters the previous week so part of me expected to be up to 3 or 4, but I’d also been told you can hover at 2 or 3 for weeks before you have any progress. My OB had told me that any dialation before labor was great because it was just work my body didn’t have to do later. So I was welcoming a bit of progress in that regard. When she checked me, her eyes opened a bit. “Hmmm.” Stephen and I looked at each other. “Have you been having any contractions?” “No, not really. I think a bit of Braxton Hicks here and there but that’s it.” She looked at me and raised her eyebrows, “Really?” I suddenly became unsure, “Well. I mean, I don’t think so. I’ve been feeling a lot of heaviness, but not contractions. I’ve never had a baby though, so maybe I’m wrong.”

She stepped back and took off her glove, “Well you are 3 centimeters and quite effaced.” That statement didn’t really phase me, I didn’t think 3 centimeters was a big deal. I had heard of this “effaced” business but I had no idea it made that huge of a difference. “All of our beds are occupied this morning so I’m going to send you to the hospital so they can hook you up to a monitor and see if you’re contracting because you are really soft.”

Interesting.

Stephen and I got in the car, my hospital was only a couple blocks away. I texted a couple people at my office to let them know that I was headed to the hospital for a quick check, so I’d be in a bit later than I thought. I honestly can’t remember if I called my mom at this point. It’s likely that I didn’t because I really didn’t think it was a big deal. I just thought, “Oh good, so now we’ll be somewhat familiar with the labor and delivery unit for when we have to run in there screaming, “BABY! We’re having a baby!”

We parked and walked up to the doors. We were talking about how weird this was and if it means we’ll be having a baby in the next couple days instead of the next couple weeks. I saw a sign that mentioned valet parking, “You will be using that when we’re arriving for real! Don’t even think I’ll be making this walk when I’m about to have a baby!”

And THAT, my friends, is what we call foreshadowing.

(Parts 2 and 3 will be posted Wednesday and Thursday.)

February 21, 2011 at 7:20 am 21 comments

On Letting Yourself Go

I always heard about how moms let themselves go when they have kids. How they can’t seem to find the time to do things for themselves. You see it on What Not To Wear all the time. “I didn’t think about myself after I had kids. It was all about my kids. That’s why my jeans are 12 years old and my shoes have holes in the soles.”

Or maybe it isn’t clothes related at all. You’ve heard about the mom that never loses the baby weight because she drives thru McDonald’s on the way home from work every night. Frozen pizza is a much quicker option for her than a true home cooked meal.

And what’s the excuse? “I’m a mom! I work fulltime and I am also a fulltime mother. I don’t have time to cook! I can hardly keep up with laundry.” It just becomes instinctive for women to say, “I’m a mother. I don’t have time for myself.”

Please don’t hear what I’m not saying, y’all. I am NOT saying that we should be able to keep up with everything. But let me just say this: The “I don’t have time for myself” business? That is not entirely true.

I’d like to clear up any confusion. It’s not that moms don’t have time to do things for themselves, it’s that we choose other things. Yes I need to tend to my fingernails, shave my legs, write a decent blog post, and cook a well balanced meal. I need to vacuum my house and scrub my floors. I need to meal plan and cut some coupons. But, you know what? If I have a spare hour of time that isn’t spoken for, chances are I’m going to sleep or watch some television that makes me laugh.

We’ve been through my schedule before, right? Eight hours are spent at work, an additional hour and a half is spent on the commute. An hour is spent on getting ready in the morning. Three to four hours are spent pumping. Then there are bottles to wash, a baby to bathe, bills to pay, laundry to hang, etc. Sometime in there I feed myself and my husband and give my baby some love.

If we’re going to be completely honest, there is free time in there. I’m sure I could sit my baby down in his Bumbo with some toys while I load the dishwasher. But I don’t want to. I’m away from my baby all day so the moments I have with him at home are very valuable to me.

So excuse me if I don’t invite you over. It’s not personal. It’s just that my house is a disaster and I don’t want your judgement. (Even if you say you won’t judge me, you will. I judge me.) And I’m sorry if you invite me to dinner and I bring Jansen along. I emotionally cannot leave him any longer than absolutely necessary. And, unless you are also a working mother, I do not expect you to understand that, I just expect you to accept it.

Being a mom is hard. Being a working mom is harder. I know that being a stay at home mom is difficult work too, but it’s different. You will never know the pain of leaving your child in someone else’s care every single day. You will never know the frustration of knowing that you may miss your child’s first crawl, first word, first step.

And while it’s hard, it is so very worth it. I am blessed beyond measure and I will never take my life for granted. I have a beautiful baby boy. I have a husband and together we have the money to provide a home and food and life for our little family. Even if that food is purchased in the frozen food section and the house has dog hair tumbleweeds.

February 16, 2011 at 7:11 am 21 comments


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