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Has it really been a month?

…since I’ve written a post? Over the past whole three months, I’ve wanted to write so much more than I actually have. But, at the end of the day, it is hard to pull myself away to write. Baby2 is growing so fast I’ll miss something if I blink and Kiddo1 is just blowing me away with his awesomeness lately. But, before I completely forget everything I had better take some time to get my thoughts down, so here’s a huge wrap up of things from the last month or so…

First, Baby2 is so freaking amazing. She will be three months old this Thursday. She holds her head up on her own all the time now. She barely lays her head on my shoulder anymore! Only when she’s super duper tired will she give in to a little head support assistance. She’d much rather be looking around and taking in all her surroundings than laying down like a little newborn. Sheesh, we’ve totally outgrown that phase. She likes to “sit” or “stand” while we hold her sides. No more craddle baby hold for her, much to Mr. Handsome’s dismay.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

For awhile there she was not having much of tummy time – it is still hit and miss but I see more hits than misses. She’ll lift her neck and legs until she looks like a little airplane about to take off! It looks like she’s gearing up to roll over soon, although I’m sure it will be several more weeks until that milestone. At least I hope so! Don’t grow too fast baby!

She smiles and it is so freaking cute. When I come home from work and met her eyes for the first time she gives me a little grin and it just melts my heart every time! Of course the second I pull out a camera the smile fades so it has been difficult to get many of them captured! Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppAlthough, the other day I put her down in her crib for just a moment while I put some laundry away in the bedroom. I caught her smiling and looking up at her mobile. That made me pretty happy since I spent so much time on making that dang mobile with its huge balls! Baby2 was just looking at them and waving her arms and smiling. Super cute!

This week I’ve been trying so hard to get her to laugh. I really don’t want to miss that first laugh but I know that I will miss some firsts while I’m at work. Knowing that Mr. Handsome will witness what I don’t does soften the blow a little bit, but it still stings. Most of the time going to work isn’t too hard, but I’ve had a couple days in the last month that I really haven’t wanted to leave. Last Monday was one of those days. When I got home I learned that Baby2 didn’t have too easy of a day herself. We commiserated a bit and felt better.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppWork is great; really, I have it pretty easy. I have a nice room to pump in and I’m down to using it just a couple times a day. Pumping is usually pretty fast for me. It probably takes longer to walk to and from the room than it takes to actually pump! I keep my pump parts in the fridge all day so I only wash once when I get home. It saves so much time that way! I’ve been meaning to write a whole post dedicated to pumping but I’m not sure if I really have enough content for a whole post. I just pump and that’s it I suppose. I wish I had some pumping buddies, though. For a few weeks there was one other woman who used the lactation room but her son just turned one so I think she graduated. Good for her, though; knowing another person made it a whole year of pumping is really good motivation for me! I’m surprised more women aren’t using the lactation room. There are several new moms (or second- to fourth-time moms) in the building but I’m the only one still breastfeeding. I’m sure they have their reasons for not pumping, and I’m not judging them at all! But it’d be nice to have some company sometimes. Not to pump-in-tandem, that’s kind of weird, but to relate to and what-not.

Breastfeeding itself is still going really well. Baby2 doesn’t seem to have any confusion between the breast and bottle. I know I could use the bottle more on weekends but I like keeping the bottle use to times that I’m literally not around and can’t feed her. I like feeding her myself. I don’t want Baby2 to get too comfortable with the bottle so that she starts to prefer the immediate let-down and faster flow. Although, I shouldn’t be too worried. She doesn’t seem to really dig the bottle too much. She’s still eating a little less than I’d like her to during the day. I’m certainly not worried about our frozen stash, though, since I’m probably adding more to it than taking away. We use frozen milk on Mondays and freshly pumped milk Tuesday through Friday. Then on Friday afternoon I freeze the leftovers. I’m usually freezing between 20 and 50 ounces per week. Doesn’t look like I’ll be finishing off the frozen stash any time soon!

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppBaby2 is still eating plenty overall, though. She certainly goes through enough diapers to convince us that her eating habits are quite healthy! Thank goodness for cloth diapers. I figure we’ve saved at least $200 so far, if you don’t count the cash I spent on building our cloth diaper stash, of course. I suppose if you count that then we’ve almost broke even. I don’t count the laundry spending because we don’t pay for water and the detergent is only half used and it cost like $10 or something.

We are still using prefolds and covers and I really love this method. We have about ten pocket diapers that are just starting to fit Baby2’s little frame. I have used the pockets a few times and they almost always leak for me. Maybe I leave her in them too long, I’m not sure. But I can never tell because the pocket material wicks the pee into the soaker so fast that most of the time I can’t tell if she’s wet. But when I use the prefolds they aren’t usually too soaked she’s not siting in wetness a lot. Who knows, but I’m thinking I’d like to sit with what works and keep the pockets in “reserve” status for when I’ve forgotten to finish up my cloth laundry. We wash just about every day, sometimes every other day. Most of the time that frequency isn’t too annoying. Sometimes it’s just like, ugh, laundry, you know? No one likes doing laundry all the time. You just tolerate it I think.

Overall Baby2 is a pretty good sleeper. She started sleeping in six to seven hour chunks several weeks ago, which was an awesome pre-return-to-work present. Since she hasn’t been eating as much during the day now though, I think she’s eating a bit more at night so she’s up more. I say I think because once she gets up the first time I keep her in bed with me so she could be eating every hour and I won’t really realize it because I hardly wake up anymore. I just pull out a boob and she does the rest, for the most part. Mr. Handsome kind of laughs at us (and spends a lot of time on the sofa with the dog!) but this is the method that nets me the most shut-eye so it is what it is. And I’m sure Baby2 is enjoying the snuggling. I might be enjoying it as well!

Finally, I know I don’t spend too much time on this blog talking about Kiddo1. I think that’s just the nature of starting as a pregnancy blog – I’m used to dishing baby stuff all the time. But this blog is really about having two kids with a crazy age gap, so I’d better get some more Kiddo1 memories down here!

So far there isn’t too much age gap drama or fun to report. Kiddo1 doesn’t do too much with Baby2 yet. She really isn’t all that interesting to him. He likes when she smiles so I think once she starts really laughing he’s going to have a good time trying to get her to do that.

4A2B0FC6-85B6-4642-BDD9-9ACFC880214C-1729-000001CE3E669687Right now he seems to be having a really good time getting involved at school. When he started kindergarten he said he really wanted to be a playground helper and safety helper once he got to fourth grade (which is when kids can start doing that at his school). Now that he’s in fourth grade he is doing both jobs and seems to be having a great time at it. He is so good with helping the younger kids at recess. Sometimes there’s a disagreement or something and he tells me how he helped. He’s such a good kid – he is going to be so awesome with Baby2 when she’s a little older and needs his help.

Finally, Kiddo1 went and got himself elected to Student Council this year! I believe fourth grade is when they can start doing that job, too. Mr. Handsome and I were so excited for him. We’re interested to see what is going to be his “thing” in school. For us it was always music (and also sports for Mr. Handsome, for me my second love was dating sports boys, haha). Kiddo1 is a little into music, not so much into sports, so we’re wondering if maybe school politics would be his thing. He now has this whole handout/book about public speaking, crafting an argument, etc. We got so excited when we saw it!

Overall things are quite awesome. We are loving our new life as four. Mr. Handsome and I love having a baby around (maybe too much!). Everything she does makes us appreciate life, appreciate Kiddo1, appreciate what we have that much more. Of course some days are a challenge but they are far between the good, amazing regular days. I can’t ask for much more!

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Dear Formula Companies

Dear Similac/Enfamil/Gerber:

Thank you for the ice packs and coolers you have sent me! They keep my work-pumped breastmilk nice and cool until I get home to my baby and freezer.

I could do without the weekly coupons, though. And the breastfeeding “tips.” You can keep those to yourself, thankyouverymuch.

Sincerely,

Mother Mary

Back to Work

Today was my first day back at work. It was okay. I didn’t cry, but I’m not much of a crier. I’m the working-outside-the-home type. It’s good for me – I like the routine, the adult interaction, the use of my brain, and I do think a little separation from the fam is good for me. So returning to work is generally good. I’m a little numb this evening, but I’ll fall back into this just fine. Luckily I hand my baby off to Mr. Handsome, so a whole bunch of worries are alleviated right there. He works a couple nights a week and stays home during the day with the kiddos.

Two kids. It’s still kind of weird to say that I have two kids. Weird but nice.

So this morning I packed up my big-girl purse and my lunch and my pump bag and headed off to the office. Suddenly my “small and discrete” pump bag feels huge and covered in neon signs that read, “This lady uses her boobies to feed a person!” The thing is bigger than my purse (and I carry a big purse). But, I managed to lug it in and around the building.

All my breastfeeding books say you should check out your company’s lactation facilities before going on maternity leave so you know what to plan for and expect upon your return. Yeah… I totally didn’t do that. I work for a big enough company. I should be fine. I figured, even if they didn’t have a room, per se, I would figure something out. There are a couple spare windowless offices. There’s always the bathroom, if nothing else. I could buy one of those electrical outlet adapters for my car if I get really desperate.

Well, lucky for me, my company does have a lactation space and it isn’t too bad! I have to ask for the key from security every time I use it, and let me tell you that was pretty awkward the first time (“Um, hello, breast breast breast, can you help me, breast breast breast”). I’ll be seeing the security guard about three times a day so he and I are going to get to know each other pretty well this year. Score.

Anyway, the space is nice, private, clean, well-lit. The room has two high-walled cubes to pump in, each with a chair and table, there’s a little fridge and microwave (for storing milk and sterilizing pump parts, respectively) and even a private bathroom! The toilet doesn’t work but they only have it to fulfill some “running water” requirement for the space, so the security guard tells me. I had no idea there were requirements!

So I used the space three times and Baby2 has fresh milk for tomorrow. On Mondays we’re using my stash of frozen milk (I counted 350 ounces!) and on Fridays the milk will go in the freezer. I’d still like to donate some of my frozen stash, but for now I’m holding on to it.

All my co-workers were super sweet and accommodating, slowly bringing me up to speed as my brain adjusts to real-time use. Shoot, all I really did today was clear out emails and apply for new positions (within the company, I am overdue for a promotion) and my brain already hurts. Damn.

I’m not sure if Baby2 fared as well as me, though. I’ve talked about how she’s not a napper. Well, she really didn’t nap at all for poor Mr. Handsome. On my way home I started to wonder how he was getting ready for work this evening with a crying baby to deal with. I walk in to him flossing while holding Baby2 (he has one of those flosser tool things). Poor guy. Then I get home and Baby2 passed out at the boob. Go figure!

Anyway, enough of my fragmented, discombobulated ramblings. We survived the first day. We’ll take it day-by-day from here. And the paychecks and health insurance will continue.

Book Review: The Milk Memos

This book was recommended to me by fellow new second-time mom and blogger, The E is for Erin. Thanks Erin! After reading Nursing Mother, Working Mother, I was looking for more books on the topic of breastfeeding moms working outside the home.

http://www.milkmemos.com/The Milk Memos is about a group of moms who work at IBM and pump their breastmilk. This real group of women kept spiral notebooks in their “pumping palace,” as they called their lactation room. They wrote back and forth to each other and encouraged each other to keep pumping and somehow stay sane in the endless search for work/home balance.

I identified so much with the women in this book. I returned to work six weeks after my son was born and pumped breastmilk several times a day. I recall the struggle to leave my baby at such an early age. Luckily I left him in the capable hands of Mr. Handsome (which I will do again after this maternity leave ends) but that hardly takes away the separation anxiety that a new mama feels upon returning to work. The women in this book felt the same things I felt then and will feel again when I return to work in September.

What’s great about this book is that the women are like characters in a story that is woven through a practical breastfeeding book. These women suffer through everything that typically plagues working mothers of infants: separation anxiety, struggles with milk production, faulty pumps, “mama brain,” unsympathetic bosses and co-workers and finding balance between a job you love and a baby you adore more than anything in the world. I very much enjoyed reading about their real lives and how they overcame real struggles, struggles that I’m sure I will have once I return to work.

Like I stated, this book is also a practical breastfeeding manual, covering the typical sub-topics but also giving them a working-mom slant. There’s great advice on buying a pump, storing milk, reheating milk, educating care-givers about handling breastmilk, finding an appropriate childcare solution, dealing with sleep deprivation, and on and on and on.

Also, the idea of keeping a notebook to write to other pumping moms in the company is complete genius. When you work in a big company (my office contains several hundred people), it’s hard to find co-workers in a similar situation. Having the notebook in the room not only helps to find like people but also encourages support and sharing within those people. I’m inspired to bring a notebook to my company’s lactation room so that I can try to find something similar to what “the milk mamas” had.

This book is well worth the read for any breastfeeding mama working outside the home!

Next review: Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers by Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PhD, IBCLC

Friday Update: Week 39

39 weeks! We’ve made it this far!

This week, it looks like summer may have officially hit the Pacific NW, after lots of teasing – going back and forth between 80/sunny and 60/rainy. Very weird spring/early summer weather this year, but now that the sun is here (to stay?) I can’t complain. I’m very excited to walk about with Baby2 in the sun, strapped to my chest and shaded, of course.

With the heat coming it’s time to break out the 20″ box fan to keep cool in our non-air-conditioned house (we don’t really need the A/C anyway, we have a basement. Sure, sometimes we sleep in the basement, but we save a whole bunch on our utility bill!).

Wait? 20″? Well, that’s the approximate length of Baby2 this week!

And speaking of summer, after today summer vacation (aka maternity leave) officially begins. I put one of these on my office email today:

See you office homies in 10 weeks, yo!

Like a lot of things lately, I am both excited for and nervous about maternity leave. Excited because, duh, I don’t have to work. Nervous because, well, I like to work! I like the routine, I like the sense of accomplishment, I like getting out of the house and being independent. What if I miss important changes at the office (our company is changing all the time; things are very fast-paced, especially in my wing of the building), what if I miss opportunities? Urg, the uncertainty!

Luckily, I will have the sweetest distraction that ever could be: my super awesome, amazing family, complete with brand-new Baby2. Not such a bad trade-off, I suppose. Besides, work will be there for me when I return (September 17th, I’d better not start the countdown already!). And by then, I’m sure I’ll be ready for it.

But… while I feel ready for leave and ready for this baby to make her appearance, I’m not so sure if I’m ready for not being pregnant anymore! These last few weeks have been especially excellent, despite having to roll myself off the couch at this point. I know this is the last time in my life I’ll be this way, and it’s kind of depressing me all of a sudden.

I will really miss this time so I want to make the most of it – but what can I do? Other than trying to not rush myself or be impatient, I don’t know how best to take advantage of it. I’m taking pictures to look back on, of course. I’m journaling, blogging, all that good stuff. I guess just living in the moment is the best thing for me, being grateful for all that I have right now.

Anyway, before the weekly standards, a few updates about our latest midwife appointment. First, she says Baby2’s head is super duper low in my pelvis – so low she could barely feel it! Baby2 is faced toward my back and her back is centered in my uterus (ie she’s not favoring one side or the other, although I think I feel her move to my right side sometimes). She’s in the perfect position for birth! My fundal height was only about 37 cm, but I was having a contraction while she measured (she actually pointed out the contraction!) so I could be more like 38 cm. Either way, our midwife was not at all concerned – she estimates baby will be about 7 pounds or so (Kiddo1 is concerned that she’ll be bigger than he was at birth!). We talked a little about Group B Strep (half of us in the centering group tested positive!) and she didn’t say anything that I haven’t already heard (call if your water breaks, call earlier than you think you should, you need antibiotics 4 hours before birth, another dose after 4 hours would be best, etc, etc). Another great appointment, hopefully the last one! The next one is scheduled for four days after my due date.

On to the regular updates:

  • Total weight gain: 33 pounds. I thought I’d break down the typical weight gain for myself, just so I can see that the number really isn’t so bad (in fact, it’s great according to my midwife!). This is according to the American Pregnancy Association:
    • Baby: 7-8 pounds
    • Placenta: 1-2 pounds
    • Amniotic fluid: 2 pounds
    • Uterus: 2 pounds
    • Maternal breast tissue: 2 pounds (at least! ha!)
    • Maternal blood: 4 pounds
    • Fluids in maternal tissue: 4 pounds
    • Maternal fat and nutrient stores: 7 pounds
  • Cravings: Spicy foods, like my extra spicy ginger cookies. Perhaps this craving will help entice our little one to make her way into the outside world?
  • Coolest symptom: More defined limbs are sticking out the sides of my belly. I’m pretty sure I grabbed a foot the other day. I like to tickle her little feet, then she pulls it back in. It’s a fun little interaction that I know won’t last too long. But soon I’ll tickle her actual feet, so that’ll be cool!
  • Lamest symptom: I’ve got this strange muscle-tightening thing going on sporadically in my right groin muscle. It’s weird. It only lasts for a moment but stops me in my tracks. Not really painful but I can’t walk through it either. Also, my wedding rings are getting a little tight. I still wear them, but I hope it doesn’t get any worse!
  • Exercise this week (the goal is 210 minutes 180 minutes): I missed water aerobics entirely this week. It’s only offered three times a week this summer – I missed Saturday because I was lazy, Monday because I had too much other stuff to do and then I realized too late that Wednesday is a holiday so they weren’t offering a session. Lame! I did do 75 minutes of yoga though, so all was not lost, plus about 60 minutes of biking over the 4th. Oh! And about an hour of walking around town with the fam over the weekend. So I guess that puts me at goal after all!

Here’s what’s new with Baby2, courtesy babycenter.com:

Your baby’s waiting to greet the world! He or she may measure about 20 inches and weigh a bit over 7 pounds, a mini watermelon. (Boys tend to be slightly heavier than girls.) Your baby continues to build a layer of fat to help control body temperature after birth, and the outer layers of skin are sloughing off as new skin forms underneath.