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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Lactation Room Etiquette

Some “Do”s and “Don’t”s when in the office lactation space. At my office there are two cubes in our room, so that set-up does influence some of these tips. Some of these things may or may not have happened to me or fellow co-workers of mine.

“DO” say hello to your fellow lactating mama when you enter the room and one of the cubes is already occupied. Signs of occupation include: the light in the room is already on, the sound of a pump is present, the “occupied” sign is flipped on a cube, etc. Saying hello lets your fellow pumper know that you are female and you respect the other female in the room.

“DON’T” wonder in to a cube to make sure it is unoccupied. “DO” vocalize your question instead: “Hi. Is this cube occupied?” or “Which cube are you in?” Walking in on a co-worker pumping could be awkward.

“DO” feel free to engage in cordial conversation with your fellow pumper. “DON’T” continue to attempt engagement if the other person in the room clearly doesn’t want to communicate which is generally demonstrated by either their one-word answers to your questions or not answering your inquiries at all (maybe she has her headphones on or something). Pumping is an intimate act and not everyone wants to talk while hooked up to the machine. (I actually like a little conversation as I find pumping a bit boring, but it seems that most of my lactating co-workers are a bit more introverted.)

“DON’T” use the lactation space if you aren’t pumping, such as escaping your desk to take a nap, call your sister, cry about your last meeting/meager pay/insensitive office mates/etc. “DON’T” use the pumping space if you’re not a lactating mama.

“DO” feel free to multi-task while pumping, including eating lunch, reading blogs, checking email, etc.

“DON’T” make phone calls from the lactation room. It is perceived as an invasion of privacy by your fellow pumper. And it’s generally weird. Do you make calls from the bathroom? Well, you shouldn’t. Gross. (And I’m not AT ALL saying the bathroom and the lactation room are the same because they ARE NOT but the privacy etiquette required is similar for both places.)

“DON’T” leave your lunch/breakfast/snack leftovers in the lactation room fridge (prompting a “Why does my breast milk smell like onions?” at the end of the day) and “DO” clean up your crumbs.

“DO” clean up in general after you are done pumping. Breast milk is awesome but no one wants someone else’s milk (or my own milk, really) all over the table they are about to use. It can get sticky. And just generally gross. Clean up includes any spots impacted by milk spills, should they occur, including the floor base boards (ours are speckled with milk, ew), chair, cube walls, etc.

“DO” say “Bye!” or “Have a nice day!” to anyone else left in the room when you leave. This lets the other person know for sure that they are by themselves again.

“DON’T” turn off the lights in the room when you leave if someone is still in there. “DO” turn off the lights to save energy if you know the room is empty. “DO” double-check the occupancy status of the room with a quick, “Hello?” or “Is anyone still here?”

“DON’T” assume others in neighboring offices can’t hear you singing at the top of your lungs while you pump. This is distracting to co-workers.

“DON’T” talk about fellow pumpers habits in the room with anyone else, be they a lactater or not. That’s just rude.

“DO” respect others, protect privacy and positively support your fellow lactaters.

Six in One Hand, Half-Dozen in the Other

Baby2 has really come into her own this sixth month. Her personality shines through in everything she does. Her face still looks very much like her brother’s but also more like other family members; she’s coming into her own unique “look.” She’s quickly becoming more and more independent (for a six-month-old; independence at this age does have its limits).

As we have already seen in the proceeding months, Baby2 is such a happy girl. When she catches our eyes her whole face smiles with joy. When we have a dance party together she laughs and squeals with excitement. She bats her eyelashes and shields her gaze when you smile back. Her little cheeks puff up when she smiles and her dark blue eyes sparkle.

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Look at those faces! Mr. Handsome and I believe they are the two cutest faces we have ever seen (although I know every parent says that!). Kiddo1 at six months (ish) is on the left and a pic of Baby2 from the other day is on the right. They could be twins! But I think Baby2 has a more feminine look. That’s good, considering she’s a girl…

Baby2 has grown so much! Now that I have had two children and they have similar growth patterns I can safely determine that Mr. Handsome and I simply do not have big babies. Baby2 is just now doubling her birth weight, for example. But our pediatrician certifies that she’s super healthy. We also saw a heart specialist last week (to proactively check out a supposed heart murmur that was not found by the specialist and is said to come and go in young children) and that doctor said she is “in picture-perfect health.” I feel incredibly fortunate to have such healthy children.

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She is mobile already. Last month she would roll from side-to-side but now she’s rolling clear across the floor. I put her down, turn around to grab something and she’s already like 10 feet away. Time to get the power strips and tiny Lego pieces off the floor I suppose. Oh baby-proofed house, how I’ve missed you (insert sarcastic face here). She will usually start on her back playing on her little “ocean” thing there but she’ll escape it and roll away in a flash!

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She wants to do things for herself. We have started giving her solid foods and she already wants to hold the spoon, mostly because she wants to grab at anything in front of her. We are giving her whole foods: we started with avacado, mashed with a spoon and mixed with a bit of breastmilk. She wasn’t too fond of the avacado and I can’t blame her – this recipe is no guacamole, folks. It’s pretty bland. Yes I tasted it. We are on bananas now. We just scrape a bit of banana on a spoon and serve it up. And then I eat the rest of the banana. Yum! She loves the banana. She probably eats twice as much of it in one sitting than the avacado. So like two-peas-size worth instead of one. She has a tummy the size of her fist and she’s already full of breastmilk when she’s fed a solid, so I’m not expecting much yet. Mr. Handsome says her poo is already more green though. This will be our cloth diaper test I believe. Stay tuned.

As for me, I’m feeling pretty fantastic. I’m back down to my pre-pregnancy weight and I don’t feel the “squishness” in my midsection that I had felt even just last month (just feeling my normal squishiness now). I recall that after Kiddo1 was born it took a good six months before I felt “normal” again. Seems like six months is my adjustment period, which is just fine with me. If only I could have taken a six-month maternity leave, eh? However normal I feel, though, I still have my linea negra and I still have not had a period (and I’m pretty sure I’m not pregnant) so I’m just patiently – very, very patiently – waiting for the last piece of “normal” to fall into place. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it just never came back?!

Speaking of patience, Kiddo1 is getting better at connecting with his sister. He started actually acknowledging her at Christmas. Now he will sit at the table with her in the morning, eating his breakfast and not complain too much that she is staring at him (she loves to look at him!). He even picked up her toys when she dropped them to the floor the other day. We call this the “drop-pick-it-up game” in which the baby drops a toy over and over while someone picks it up for her every time. Kiddo1 invented this game so to see him play with his sister is pretty sweet. He was reluctant to play but he did it! They’re taking baby steps toward playing together.

I can’t wait to see what the next six months bring!

Breastfeeding Milestone 1

In my mind, I have set three big goals for breastfeeding at six, nine and 12 months. At each goal point I am to re-evaluate how breastfeeding is going and decide for myself if I want to continue. So here we go… Time to work this one out!

How is it going? Well, as I see it and in my situation there are three main facets to this. First, there’s actually breastfeeding. This constitutes the time that I’m with Baby2, baby to breast, the good old fashioned natural stuff. Second, there’s actually pumping which is the time spent with my trusty pumping machine. Third is breast pump maintenance: time spent on cleaning, boiling, transporting and whatever else involves my pump except for the act of and time spent pumping. Let’s look at each category…

Actually breastfeeding: OMG I love you. Convenience, bonding, no cost, limited clean-up (just bottles for when I’m at work), etc. Breastfeeding is the most wonderful of wonderfuls.

Physically pumping: I can stand you. We’re okay. Cordial but not over-friendly (seems odd to be saying that about something as intimate as a breast pump though). Getting some engorgement relief is great; if I go past like 10 am without pumping (even on the weekends when I’m home) I’m a-hurtin’ so thank you Veronica for some sweet relief. (Hmm, that’s an odd sentence fragment.) Also, knowing that not only my baby but other babies out there benefit from my pumping makes pumping with it. AND it doesn’t hurt at all for me. So score there.

Pump maintenance: I FUCKING HATE YOU PUMP MAINTENANCE!!!!! Lugging that god damn pump bag back and forth through the work parking lot and through the building every day is inconvenient at best. Washing and boiling the pump parts every damn day is time-consuming (and I have already reduced my boiling times to once a week AND I don’t even wash my pump at work I just store it in the lactation room fridge between my two pumping sessions). Also, worrying that the god damn thing is going to break on me again is giving me grey hairs.

So to recap, I love breastfeeding and pumping is worth it but I hate pump maintenance. Therefore, it’s worth at least another three months of FUCKING PUMP MAINTENANCE.

But I’m having trouble staying motivated. Pump maintenance is really dragging me down you guys. So here’s a list of the 10 things I love most about everything breastfeeding. I shall refer to the list when I am cursing while cleaning my pump for the fifth time this week.

10. Helping the other babies. Did you know there are babies out there that literally cannot process formula? On our Arizona trip I donated milk to a mama of an adopted baby girl who had seizures, SEIZURES, after eating any kind of formula (she listed off some types that I had never even heard of) but when she started a consistent breastmilk diet all that changed. No seizures, started gaining weight regularly, meeting developmental milestones, etc. AMAZING what some boob juice can do.
9. Baby2’s comfort. I know that sometimes she isn’t hungry she’s just pissed or in pain (teething, shots, that one time that I let he fall on the floor while practicing sitting up) or tired but she stops crying or starts sleeping when put to the breast.
8. Health benefits for Baby2. You know, like she’s less likely of having diabetes and junk. We’ve all heard the enormous benefits before, no need to repeat them here. My fingers are tired from all this typing already.
7. Health benefits for me. Less chance of breast cancer, etc. Plus I’m burning more calories which is awesome.
6. It’s free. Well, I did have to buy the pump and some nursing bras but that’s it. Certainly better than spending hundreds of dollars on formula each month.
5. Breastfed baby poops don’t stink… too bad. They really do smell a little bit sweet. They dissolve nicely in the washing machine. Of course, now that Baby2 has started solids we’re in new poop territory, but we’re still seeing the benefits of breastfed baby poops. (Wow that would sound weird out of context.)
4. I have provided all the nutrients she needs with my boobs ALONE. That’s pretty cool. And empowering. Even now that she’s eating some solids she still gets the vast majority of her nutrients from me. It’s like a pseudo pregnancy and that’s absolutely wonderful. Because I love being pregnant and I love providing for my baby’s needs.
3. There is nothing more convenient! No bottles to fill, warm, wash and store (well, except for the one or two bottles Mr. Handsome uses during the week while I’m at work). No need to remember to bring a bottle when we go out, no need to keep track of it. No warming bottles in the middle of the night. No waste from the formula manufacturing or packaging. Nothing going into my baby that I don’t control. No recalls!
2. Did I mention the cost savings? I like saving money. A lot.
1. Bonding. Even when I’m pumping, I feel connected to my baby. And let me tell you, this week I really need any connection I can get. I’ve been working late a few nights. Sometimes I get home just before or right after Baby2 goes to bed. Some days I only get sleepy feedings in the middle of the night, no good daytime ones. And that sucks. A few times I’ve felt like she’s pushing the breast away, like she’s rather have a bottle. And then just thinking about all the time we’ve spent trying to get her to take the bottle and all and then to think that she might prefer that? Ugh. Luckily I know that’s not the case, but still, the mind wanders.

And everything, EVERYTHING, that I hate about pump maintenance is completely forgotten when I’m nursing Baby2 and she looks up at me with those dark blue eyes and she smiles, then goes right back to nursing. Or when she can tell that the boob is about to come out and her little arms shake with excitement and she opens her mouth and roots into anything – my hand, her hand, my shirt, etc, and makes the cutest rooting noises that I can’t even describe but I hope I remember for all time. How could I possibly give these things up because I have to clean my pump every night and carry it to work and back every day?

Yes, at least three more months of all this is just fine with me.

Holiday Wrap-Up

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The 9YL family wishes everyone on the internet a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Ours was fun but exhausting…

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Unwrapping at home

We spent Christmas Eve and Day at home just hanging out. Baby2 discovered a love for wrapping paper. As we unwrapped her gifts with her she stared with wonder at the paper. Even after her gift was uncovered she reached for paper first every time.

Kiddo1 got the 3DS XL that he’s been wanting and saving up for. Mr. Handsome wrapped a box in a box in a box so Kiddo1 had to unwrap a few boxes to get to it. Although I don’t agree with the practice it was fun to watch Kiddo1 get a little frustrated and then SO excited when he saw the actual gift.

Kiddo1 had some, what I’ll call, “milestone” interactions with his younger sister as he handed her presents and said things like, “this one’s for you, [Baby2],” and said them while looking her in the face. This is a milestone as he doesn’t tend to acknowledge her much. I really need to write a whole post about this subject because it is interesting how Kiddo1 makes little baby steps toward interaction with his sibling. I have heard that it can take most kids (and I’d think especially older kids) at least six months to start really acknowledging the new family member. I’m trying not to pressure him too much because I don’t want to do any damage but at the same time it’s like, dude, she’s not going away get over it already. But that’s not fair. Ugh, I could really get going but I’m saving it for another time.

Anyway, Mr. Handsome and I spent the rest of Christmas Day preparing for our annual trip to Phoenix to visit family. My parents and his parents live there, as well as my only living grandparent, my only brother and one of Mr. Handsome’s two brothers, although none of us is actually from the area (Kiddo1 was born there though). It’s always good times seeing our family, and this year was especially sweet to re-introduce people to Baby2. Babies change so much in such a short time; she’s so different now than when they saw her as a newborn!

This was Baby2’s first trip away from home and logistically it was great. We traveled with cloth diapers and I gotta tell ya, it was super easy. I don’t know if cloth diapering is so easy for us because I pretty much refuse to acknowledge that disposables exist at this point or if we’re just really lucky. Baby2 still being exclusively breastfed probably helps a little, too. We took about 15 diapers with us and did diaper laundry three times during our five-day stay. My carry on bag (backpack) was about half full of diapers, but honestly there’s not much else I need except for my wallet and water bottle.

Of course breastfeeding simplified things a ton because we never had to worry about when Baby2 was going to eat or how she would get fed. One less thing to plan for us to worry about, thank goodness. I did take my pump with me and I’m glad I took the whole big electric pump instead of just my manual one. I worried about putting it in our checked luggage (what if it got lost?! Or damaged?? The horror!!) but everything turned out fine. I strapped it in our checked car seat for some extra security. I was able to donate all the extra milk that I pumped during our trip so I didn’t have to hassle with bringing it back and I met another very sweet mama of an adopted baby girl who was grateful for a little extra milk.

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She loves the peanut packets!

Baby2 did very well during her first trip. The flights were fine (direct on the way there, one connection on the way back) and the altitude change didn’t seem to bother her sweet baby ears at all, although she was eating during take off for each flight so I hope that helped. She made what she probably considers the greatest discovery of her life so far when she saw the airlines packets of peanuts. I’ve never seen her so excited or grab an object so quickly. We asked for extra on the flight back and we now have a couple sitting around just in case she needs a major distraction. They’re shiny and crinkly! What’s not to like?

Kiddo1 is a seasoned traveler and was not at all phased by the extra family member during this trip. He’s been handling his own bags for years so we were free to manage everything else. There’s one of the major benefits of having kids several years apart – you really only have one “wild card” kid at a time. Baby2 could (potentially) freak out at any moment but Kiddo1’s behavior is fairly constant at this point.

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Baby2 watches Mr. Handsome play in the water from her warm and dry Ergo

Wearing Baby2 through the airport and during all our “site-seeing” worked wonderfully. We had hands free in the airport to mess with bags and check in. You don’t have to take off your baby carrier when you go through x-ray which was great (although they do an alcohol-swab test on your hands for explosives which only takes a second). We could walk through the tiny terminal stores and restaurants without getting stuck – a stroller would never make it through some of those spots. My mom  had bought a stroller for us to use while we were there (even though I asked her not to) and we didn’t use it at all. Anytime we went somewhere we either held Baby2 or used our Ergo. It worked out quite well.

All in all it was a good trip for everyone. We were super grateful to return on New Years Eve at around 11 so we made it home and snuggled in to watch the ball drop just before midnight. We counted down the seconds left of 2012 and cheered in the new year together. Then we finally had a good night’s sleep in our own beds. I’m sure I can speak for everyone in the family when I say it was so very wonderful to sleep in our own beds again.

Happy 2013, internet!