Lucy is Two Months Old Today!
Okay, so I keep going back and forth between counting each week and each month. Will I ever give up counting her by the weeks. After tracking my pregnancy predominantly by weeks, it is a little hard. 37 + 8… We are talking 45 weeks now that I have been thinking in terms of weeks. As for my pregnancy, I didn’t really say that I was so many months pregnant until about seven or eight months, because I wasn’t totally sure when the months started. The weeks just seem easier. So as we have had an internal debate about how old Lucy is, she turns X number of weeks each Thursday and X number of months on the 14th of each month. And today she is two… months.
And what a big girl she is! By the grace of God, she slept through the night. No, I did not wake up once. We gave her a bottle of breast milk at 11 (3.75 ounces to be exact) and put her down at 11:30. I was finished pumping and in the bed by midnight. I think that is a first, except for several weeks ago, when we went to bed for a nap at 10:30 and I got up to pump, feed, etc at 2. That does not count.
Plus Lucy was so happy this morning that I woke Henry up at 6:30. She loves to lay on her changing mat and look at the little lanterns I made for her, kick the mirror (which is a big no no), and laugh. So today feels like a new day. Yesterday, not so much. It actually felt like Week Two.
I did not sleep much the night before last. I was up writing in my journal for the first time since I delivered her. This was not an uncommon practice for me over the last fifteen plus years. If I can’t sleep, I write or scribble in my journal until I can feel my body relax enough to go back to sleep. But since Lucy arrived, I have been so exhausted that very little has kept me awake at night.
When I went home to NC, people would comment on my blog. First of all, way more people are reading it than commenting on it. That is great. But way more men are reading it than I imagined. And knowing Alex’s reaction to all of my talk on breastfeeding, I thought, Wow! This man knows all about my breastfeeding woes. He probably does not want to know that. But no worries, because all people seem to care about are baby pictures. So Warning! You can skim from here on out, because I am going to finish my thoughts on breastfeeding. At least I hope so.
After Alex left, Lucy and I seemed to relax and fall into place. We were about half and half bottles and breast. Things were going well. I had gotten my pumps down to three times a day. I was able to reassure people that the days of 8-9 pumps were over. You could literally see looks of horror melt away. I thought, Oh yeah, I probably need to let people know that those days are over. When we left for NC, I made the decision not to time everything on the Itzbeen, although I did pack it along with the Baby’s Daily Feeding Log, which was was also ignored.
So for over a week, we were blissfully existing between bottles and breast. I asked my OB about how long it would take to diminish my milk. She said that some women notice from feeding to feeding; others over weeks. So I thought, I’m flexible; my breasts are part of me. They are flexible, too. I generally pumped three times a day, but there were a couple of days when I didn’t. The toughest day was our drive back to DC. I only breast fed her once during our five hour drive when she had a meltdown in Fredricksburg. And that was in the parking space next to the door of the gas station. Not in the back of an empty parking lot under a shade tree like I would have picked. But I guess when you have a screaming baby, you look for the first space available.
By this past Friday, I started to suspect that my milk was going down again. I told Henry that this weekend I was going to start adding in additional pumps. By yesterday, I was completely freaking out. My breasts had gone from feeling full to completely flat. Like a pancake flat. Or maybe more like a slow leaking tire. I thought it seemed a little low, but the numbers were still consistent with what I had been pumping all along. But as soon as I started to worry, the numbers started to drop. I went from pumping one large bottle of milk to need to pull out the small test-tube-looking bottles I packed away last week. Help! I didn’t sleep after my self-inflicted 2:15 am pump. I was starting to spiral out of control again.
So I made some action plans, which also included a few relaxation techniques. But before all of that panic set in, I should have searched the simple term, “my breasts dont feel full.” Well, that was a relief. This was exactly what I needed to read. It even explained why Lucy would continue to eat when we give her a bottle and seem unsatisfied. Huh. That makes sense, but I still needed convincing that I could give up pumping. And I haven’t fully. But a visit from Kim helped keep me calm and gave me the opportunity to fit in four pumps yesterday.
But the danger of both breastfeeding and bottle feeding breast milk, is that you find times when you are pumping and it conflicts with feeding. Especially since we aren’t really on any kind of a schedule. I have read Babywise and think it sounds wise, but I have had a very hard time implementing it. Between guests and travel, plus appointments, frustration… I just kept saying this girl is a serious snacker. So when Pat, my lactation consultant, aka DC’s breast whisperer, called me back, I told her that we were doing great, but now I’m worried. We talked a little and established that I was not stimulating my milk production in the middle of the night. Otherwise, sometimes I give her a bottle if that seems easier. Yes, I was probably self-regulating, but just stay ahead of her by four ounces. I was doing that. But by the end, I still felt confused and frustrated. I had heard all of this before, but on the eve of her two month birthday it still felt like Week Two. Like I said before!
I called Lauren in frustration. She was like why are you pumping at all? Finally she convinced me that I needed to cut out the bottles. She said, “What do you have to lose?” My milk! I can’t lose my milk again. She told me her strategies with feeding Ziggy. She would distract him until it was time for him to eat. She also vowed that if she came down for a few days, she could straighten us all out. So I finally relented to Lauren’s own frustration with hearing me talk about this again for the millionth time.
Our plan from a few weeks ago was three pumps and three bottles – one in the morning, another at the dinner meal and a final at bedtime. But what I knew deep down was that we were using the bottle as a crutch. We would take it out with us and pop it in her mouth when she was crying. Or I gave it to her in the middle of the night. I pumped it at some point, so what was the harm? Apparently more than I realized.
Last night, Rocky came to the rescue… He had a few friends over and they provided the perfect distraction to those evening times when I cave in and give Lucy a bottle. No more 7 pm pump and bottle. That is out. I feed her for about thirty minutes. Right as we stopped, Rocky called and requested that I bring Lucy to the roof. The same thing happened three hours later right after I fed her during the mid-evening feeding. This time they were back in his apartment. I was able to leave Henry and Lucy and took a nice long bath. I read quite a few essays from a book Kim brought over called “Unbuttoned: Women Open Up About the Pleasures, Pains, and Politics of Breastfeeding.” Oddly, you would think, take a break from the breastfeeding already! But somehow I found comfort in the stories of these other women who were also struggling with breastfeeding. Henry returned to find me happy, shriveled and relaxed.
After a successful bedtime and morning feeding, I pumped. Henry caved and gave her a bottle. She ate 1.5 oz and spit up. Maybe she didn’t need that bottle after all. Plus I had already outpumped her by my four ounces for the day. Success.
We then had a great day. I think that I might actually get her on a three hour eating schedule within a week. To distract her, I began reading Mary Poppins to her before she fell asleep in each Eat/Play/Sleep cycle. Then I usually let her eat about five minutes early, except for the beginning of unhappy hour around 5. Instead of waiting until 6 (or 5:55), I fed her at 4:47. Almost two hours between meals is not so bad. I had a 6:30 community meeting and knew that she would sleep in my carrier for the full three hours or more. I was right! So now… Let’s hope that tonight is the beginning of a great pattern for many more nights to come. My fingers are crossed.
I'm glad to hear things are going better — and that you enjoyed the book. Kim said it freaked her out a little, but I agree that it was nice to hear shared struggles — maybe it's a better book for during or after breastfeeding rather than before!