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Category Archives: Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding Goal Met!

Well here we are, the big ONE. Baby2’s first birthday! This is the first of a couple posts I plan to write about the occasion because, quite frankly, ALL THIS AWESOMENESS just can’t be contained by one post alone.

For this first post, I’m actually going to talk about bit more about myself than Baby2 – but no worries, everything else I’ll write about tomorrow is all about her. Speaking of tomorrow, that’s a big day for ME. As of tomorrow, I will have met my goal of breastfeeding for Baby2’s entire first year! I’m going to take a moment to let that sink in. I feel really awesome about this goal. It just feels awesome to meet a goal at all, doesn’t it?!

I tried very hard to successfully breastfeed both of my babies. The biggest difference was that with Kiddo1 I didn’t set any goals for myself, therefore I didn’t really have anything to work toward (other than keeping my happy baby healthy, of course!). This time with Baby2 I set one large, overall goal (to make it to a year) and several smaller goals as well (to make it to six and nine months, to donate excess, etc).

There are more differences between the two breastfeeding jobs I’ve had, and while I try not to get into comparing my children, I think this an interesting contrast:

  • With my first nursling, I didn’t want to educate myself at all because I figured this “skill” would come naturally to me. Come the second time around, I realized that even nature needs some nurture.
  • With my first, I thought a cheap, manual breastpump would do the job (I was so uninformed/naive/young/stupid). With my second, I knew the extra cost of a double electric pump would be worth it (and after a couple months with my Avent, I realized one of those hospital-strength Medelas would be even better, but I stuck it out with Avent).
  • With my first, I didn’t take care of myself first – I didn’t eat well or hydrate enough. With my second, I carry water with me everywhere and I eat SO MUCH better than I did 9 years ago (although these last couple months I have slacked off a lot).
  • With my first, I focused very much on getting Kiddo1 on a schedule (which Kiddo1 took to very well and really was more of a “scheduled” baby than Baby2 is). With my second, I fed “on demand” and didn’t let those evening block feedings phase me at all. Baby2 is SO not a schedule baby, but she does like her routines.
  • With my first, I also focused very much on getting Kiddo1 to sleep through the night (which he did at 5 weeks and never really had much of a regression). With my second, I co-slept and let Baby2 eat at night whenever she needed (more on that later…).
  • With my first, I didn’t seek out any sort of support system (other than Mr. Handsome who has always been amazing). Withmy second, I have a lot more support, mostly in the form of online communities (just reading other women’s struggles and successes is supportive!), but I also sought help from a lactation consultant when I felt like I needed it.
  • With my first, I did a lot of supplementing, mostly so I could go out and be a “normal” 22-year-old, you know? But with my second, I don’t supplement at all unless it is both with milk I pumped and it is because I am literally not physically there with my baby. If I was there with her I insisted on feeding her (except for a couple special occasions that I wanted just one more beer!).

Such a change in 9 years, eh?

In this year with Baby2 we never used a drop of formula, but it was never about an “anti-formula” agenda or anything like that for me. Kiddo1 was formula-fed, so I’m not against it. My motivator started with money, to be honest. Actually I wrote down all my motivators awhile back; I think money was on the list twice. In fact, we’ve done a few things to save money this year (I used Babycenter’s cost calculator and their default settings to calculate the following):

  • Exclusively breastfeeding $1000
  • Cloth diapering $1100 (BabyCenter says my savings here is actually $800 and we should spend $19/month on cloth diapers – without a service – but I think that’s total crap for us because we literally only have laundry expenses for our diapers and those amount to a percentage of the laundry detergent we already use and water, which we pay the same for whether we use none or a shit-ton, no pun intended)
  • Stay-at-home parent $4600

But I hugely digress (money makes me do crazy things). Here are some fun facts to get me back on track:

  • I used my company’s lactation room for 10 months exactly (9/17/12 to 7/17/12).
  • I used exactly 21 milk storage bags and countless number of glass mason jars to store milk (the bags were just used on vacation and once at work when I forgot my bottles).
  • I filled my deep freezer to the top once and I sabotaged my whole freezer stash once. photo 5097A4E7-AAD8-466B-8A41-1E955181E951-1922-000001662E0BA961.jpg
  • I donated over 1000 ounces of breastmilk (which I started doing after I filled my freezer to the top that one time – there was no room for adult food!).
  • I donated my milk to four babies.
  • I could probably count on one hand the number of ounces of milk that I have spilled this year – I have been extremely careful! I only had one little spill at home, never at work.

The only non-breastmilk she’s drank this year is the goat’s milk she’s had this last week as we transition. We selected goat’s milk over cow’s milk because it has more fat, and fat is something this little lady needs. I’m still doing research about fortified and pasteurized versus raw goat’s milk (and kind of leaning toward raw) but for now she’s on milk from the grocery store so it is fortified and pasteurized. More to come on that.

Getting her on goat’s milk has been easy – our first step was to have her take her morning session in a bottle from Daddy now, even if I’m at home. Last week he started mixing one part goat’s milk to two parts breastmilk; this week he’s even flipped that ratio (2 parts goat’s, 1 part mine). Baby2 is taking to it really well. We’re sticking with the 2:1 ratio for another week or so, to make sure she doesn’t react in any way AND to talk with the pediatrician at the end of the week to make sure we’re doing everything right (of course we are! Hahah). She’s still taking her milk warm but after we switch to 100% goats then we’ll probably start trying to give her cooler milk too. So, yes, a very easy switch to new milk.

The hard part we have not yet faced – weaning. More specifically, nighttime weaning. Bleh, I don’t even want to think about it. On the one hand I would really like to have a baby-free bed and a full night’s sleep. On the other, Baby2 is SO EASY to get back to sleep when she wakes up – just feed her! A handful of times that wouldn’t work because she’s just been pissed in the middle of the night, but I blame teething because believe me we tried everything to soothe her those times!

Part of me wants to be really strict and just eliminate nighttime nursing cold-turkey. Just let her cry it out. She’ll totally adjust what she eats during the day so she doesn’t go hungry. No biggie, right?

Then the other part of me, the voice that I hear more loudly, says no, just chill out! (Tanget – have you seen CTFD-style parenting? I love this.) Just keep doing what I’m doing. Why change if things are working well?

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There are just so many variables.

  • Now we have the crib in our room but we’re moving next month (yes we’re actually moving finally!!) and when she has her own room it won’t be as easy to sleepily steal her from her crib so I should transition her away from co-sleeping now.
  • I work full time so I don’t get a lot of time with Baby2 during the week; sometimes nighttime snuggles are the only time I get with her. So I should continue co-sleeping now.
  • I haven’t had a full night sleep since the second trimester of my pregnancy so I should transition her to sleeping through the night now.
  • She’s little and she doesn’t eat much as it is so I should continue feeding her whenever she’ll take sustenance.

I don’t know what we’ll do. Some days I’m totally gung-ho one way and then I flip to the other way. There is no “middle way,” though: we either night wean AND discontinue co-sleeping or we don’t. I’m not walking to her room in the middle of the night and hanging out in there until she’s ready to go back to sleep. What the hell is the point of that? Oh so I can lose MORE sleep at night? No thanks. If I continue feeding her through the night I must do it while half asleep. There just is no other way. More to come on my progress on this end.

I DO know that I’m done pumping at work! Woot! I’ve removed all blocked-off pumping time from my Outlook calendar. I’ve taken my pump home for the last time. I’ve cleaned and boiled my pump parts and tucked everything away in its black bag. This weekend I will pack it in a moving box along with a bunch of other random moving crap (even though we’re not moving for another month). The pump bag will likely sit in my daughter’s closet at the new house, waiting for me to decide what to do with it.

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Pumping at work has been fine. It seems very normal, really, which is fantastic. I am extremely grateful to have the lactation room at work. I’m glad to know that so many other ladies are using the facility as well – I had to take this picture of the most bags I had ever seen in the room at once. So many pumping mamas! When I returned from maternity leave there was only one other woman using the room, and she was on her last couple weeks before her son turned one. For a couple weeks I was the only woman using the room until a couple more co-workers returned from their maternity leaves. Then the room got pretty busy – this picture of all the pump bags happened a few times this year (we always have people coming in the office from off-site, so the number of lactation room users can vary a lot). I didn’t really make any lasting friendships or anything, but knowing other people were in the same place as me was a kind of support in and of itself.

As far as daytime weaning, I’m not there yet. When I’m at home I’m still nursing my nursling, but I don’t know how long my supply will keep up. I don’t really have a plan – we replaced the morning feeding with the “milk hybrid” bottle and we’ll probably replace another at-home feeding with a bottle over the weekend. Maybe. I’m not sure yet. I’m not sure what I want to give up yet. I think most people start dropping their nighttime feedings first, but not us. My weaning plan is a “play-it-by-ear” or a “do-what-feels-‘right’-whatever-the-hell-that-is” kind of plan. A CTFD-type of plan, if you will! We’ll see how it goes.

Finally, everyone’s favorite way to end a post, the fun paragraph in which I tell about my postpartum body (yes I’m still calling it postpartum). I still haven’t had a period!!! (I’m done trying to call that by other names as well.) No, I am not pregnant (I took a test on Friday, just in case). I hope that now that I’m not pumping things will get back to normal. I’m not complaining, but it’s weird. Part of me almost thinks I have some lack of control right now. Not that I can control when it shows up each month… maybe it is the predictability that I miss. Maybe I should just shut the hell up and enjoy it while it lasts. CTFD! Linea negra is still around too.

Next post: cute baby pictures and lots of videos in the 12 month update!

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A Sad Story and Breastfeeding Update/Postpartum Check-In

Big pats on the back for myself right now, as I’ve successful breastfed Baby2 for twice as long as I was able to last with Kiddo1. This time I was more prepared, I was better motivated, and I have been using a better pump. I’m happy with myself, but that doesn’t mean I’m done yet.

I promised myself I’d evaluate my breastfeeding goals at 6, 9, and 12 months, and since Baby2 turns 11 months next week, I’m way behind for check-in number 2. Oops!

But, first, a sad story. Over the last few months, I suppose I have been “winding down” with breastfeeding: I pump a whole lot less, usually just while I’m at work. I don’t even bring my pump home from work anymore. I stopped donating (because I’m just not taking out as much milk anymore) and my freezer stash was down to about 10 6-ounce jars. That isn’t the sad part – that part is actually kind of happy (bittersweet, I suppose) because I’m getting toward the end of being chained to a pump, having to think about getting enough to eat, staying hydrated, etc (things I should probably focus on regardless of breastfeeding, but whatever).

Okay NOW for the sad part. At the end of the week, I take the fresh leftover milk down to the freezer. On Mondays I grab a couple jars from it so Baby2 can have milk while I’m at work. Only this Monday, there was water in the freezer. No. Noooooooo. See, when I made a freezer deposit, I knocked over a fan which was plugged in to the same surge protector as the freezer. Well the fan cord must have pulled the serge protector out of the wall socket, because the whole surge protector came unplugged. Everything in the freezer had thawed over the weekend. All the breastmilk was ruined and we had NO milk in the house for Baby2 that day.

Luckily my job is great so I worked from home on Monday and pumped a bit. But, the story gets more sad! I’ve been pumping just about my usual amount (as far as number of pumping sessions), maybe a little more often, but I’m not getting as much as I usually do. Normally I take home 9-12 ounces each day. Tuesday, when I went back to the office, I brought home less than 6 ounces. Same volume on Wednesday. Now it’s Thursday and I’m working at home again, but I barely pumped half an ounce this morning which is SUPER unusual – first pump of the morning will typically yield 3 ounces at least.

So now I’m sad – even though I know I planned to wean (or at least stop pumping completely) at a year, I suddenly feel unprepared and totally NOT ready to wean. Certainly not ready to see such a drastic drop in supply.

Today I’m drinking a ton of Mother’s Milk Tea, which has all kinds of herbs to stimulate production. I drank TWO beers last night because of the Old Wives’ Tale that beer supposedly stimulates production. We’ll see how that works. Perhaps it is a wasted effort? Maybe this is the universe’s way of saying it is time to stop. I don’t know yet. 

Before this week, though, things were still going really well. I had cut back on pumping so pump maintenance wasn’t super annoying any more. Breastfeeding itself is still awesome and super convinient. I went on a trip with friends last month and I could travel so light – just a bag of cloth diapers and my boobies! That and an Ergo and we were set. Traveling with Baby2 has been so easy. We are super lucky with her.

In other news… is it still considered the “post partum” time when it has been almost a year since the delivery? I’m sure it is in some way. I still have a shade of linea negra, which is weird. Maybe it is the breastfeeding hormones that keep it around. What’s more awesome is that I STILL haven’t gotten a “monthly gift” and I thank breastfeeding for that. Shoot, just that one benefit makes part of me want to never stop breastfeeding!

Otherwise in our lives, Kiddo1 is about done with fourth grade and has had an amazing year. He was voted to student council and at least one special committee; he was the first in his class to log 10,000 pages of independent reading, scoring a pizza party for the whole class; he volunteered a ton of days as Safety Patrol (helping kids cross the street) and Junior Coach (recess help and conflict resolution); he’s been a reading buddy to some kindergarteners; earned a few awards and there’s probably countless other accomplishments. We could NOT be more proud.

Mr. Handsome and I are finally house hunting for a bigger place, and even though we’ve only officially been looking for a month it feels like an ETERNITY. Our market does not havea lot of inventory right now so when something is listed (and it is a decent place) it is gone before you can even get an appointment to see it. We are trying to be patient, but interest rates are slowing rising, our special first-time buyer loan program is quickly running out of funds and our stress levels are not improving.

BUT, we are working to keep things in perspective, on all fronts. There are plenty of people in the world who have things worse than we do, who have to struggle more than we do. No matter how frustrating or unfortunate things get, it isn’t the end of the world, by far.

8 Months

 photo F61A1642-EEC1-4B2B-AC6C-94D31C335B8E-1095-000000C659F68994_zps89debb74.jpgBaby2 has gotten to be so animated this month. She’s developed her “confused” face… or maybe it’s more like a “what the bleep is going on around here?!” face. This picture just doesn’t capture the clear distinction between her looks of upset/about-to-cry versus this newest look of bewilderment. It’s really cute – she wrinkles up her whole face. Such a departure from her usual smiley face but so funny!

She’s starting to rub her eyes when she’s tired which is adorable! Not only is it a cute move but it’s also a much clearer sign that she’s sleepy. Before all we had to go on was this sort of whiny sound she made. And she leans forward as if her head is starting to get a little harder to hold up. She wears herself out so fast because she’s busy scooting all over the house. I have a video I will post as soon as I can get on our desktop computer. She isn’t  crawling yet, but certainly moving in a forward direction.

She can also do this cool “plank-”style trick where she balances on her hands and toes. She’ll only hold it for a second so it’s hard to get a picture of, but here’s an attempt.

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Look at her little toes pushing her up! Sometimes she’ll push up to her hands and knees but same thing as the plank – she only holds it for a second. She’s only been doing this for a week or so, though, so perhaps as she gets stronger she’ll add the scooting element and be an official crawler. We’ll see!

Until then, Baby2 will gladly roll herself right off everything, apparently. She would certainly have rolled off the changing table dozens of times if we weren’t so diligent in never leaving her alone on it. The second I sit her down sometimes she flips right over! And now she knows the knobs on the dresser (which we use as a changing table) are shiny so she wants to flip over so she can reach down and play with them. I can distract her sometimes with cleaver objects such as her comb or a bracelet but diaper changes have certainly taken on a whole new rhythm. She’s a smart cookie – she knows what she wants.

She’s very distractable in general. When I’m feeding her she’s all over the place – unlatching and arching her back to see what’s going on behind her, twisting her head all around while still latched (ouch, but at least she doesn’t have teeth!), flailing her arms all about so she can find something to play with, etc. At the same time, though, I can still distract her back to focus (if that makes sense) by just flickering my fingers or making a funny noise.

Oh and she reads. I’m sure she’s well above the 8-month reading level.

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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.

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!

Milk Matters

A few weeks ago, I started donating my breast milk to a family I met though my local “Human Milk for Human Babies” facebook page. It started because I got frustrated while organizing my stash in my chest freezer: there was so much milk stored in there that we didn’t have any room for actual grown-up food! I had to take out all the frozen meats to make room.

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Milk stash quickly taking over my chest freezer

Plus I still had milk dating all the way back to July so I knew I only had a couple months left to use it or it would expire. So I connected with the facebook group and found a great mom of adopted twins who is driving all over town collecting milk from six different women in order to feed her precious babies the best stuff on Earth.

Think about that for a second: no matter what our struggles with breastfeeding are, I think they pale in comparison to someone not only wants to give her babies breast milk but drives all over town all week long to collect that milk! She and her husband willingly do that work for their babies. How amazing!

The first time she left my house with my milk I felt super weird. I mean, first, that’s MY milk! It came from me! I didn’t realize how attached to it I was until someone came and took it away. Weird. Then I had a mini freak out as I started to think, what if her babies react poorly to my milk?! What if it’s like blood – some types just aren’t compatible with everyone? But my donatee – what a sweetheart – texted me a few hours after she left to say one of the babies just gobbled up a couple ounces of my product and was looking quite content. Ah, sweet relief.

Side note – I almost feel like I’m doing something shady, because every Saturday I text her to tell her how many ounces I have for her and to arrange pick up. “Yo yo yo I gots 50 for ya this week.” If someone was reading our texts they might raise an eyebrow…

So there’s that. And it’s going really well! I give up about 50 ounces a week, which unfortunately only feeds those two babies for about a day. I only wish I could give more, but I know that my 50 ounces are better than zero. I do reserve about a dozen ounces for my freezer to keep just in case (what if I have to go away for a couple days or something? Not that that would happen but I like to be prepared for it).

My donee mama and I are fb friends now which is great because I can follow how the babies are doing. They have such an amazing story. The babies aren’t exactly twins – their mama calls them “twiblings.” One was adopted and the other was born via surrogate after 8 years of trying. Somehow both pieces fell into place at once and the babies were born a week apart. Amazing!

If you’re breastfeeding and you have more milk than you know what to do with, I encourage you to donate! Breast milk is the perfect food for babies. Some babies have allergies to formula and some just need that extra boost the breast milk provides. I’ve found facebook to be a great resource to connect with parents looking for milk. I looked into an “official” milk bank but most of the time you have to give in large amounts (usually 100 oz+) and the milk is pasteurized which does zap some of the sweet enzymes (or so I’ve read). Connecting directly with parents in need provides SO much more flexibility!

Now I love giving up my extra milk each week. It gives me just that much more satisfaction and motivation to keep breastfeeding!