Friday, October 28, 2011

The Boob Post

I suppose I should write a post about my experience with breastfeeding, since it's how I spend the majority of my time. In fact, it's what I'm doing right now.

I think I should start off by saying that I am so lucky. This has come easily for me. Tycho is 100% exclusively breastfed, with a bottle of expressed breast milk here and there, but mostly straight from the source. I say this, though, without arrogance, as I've seen my friends struggle with supply and latch and pain and babies that just aren't growing, and I am grateful I haven't been faced with those challenges. For us, this has been very easy, or at least as easy as being a 24-hour-a-day on-demand food source for a (not so) tiny cranky person can be.

Tycho is a grazer. (Like mother, like son.) He eats for short spurts, all the time. It's rare for him to go more than an hour without a snack. I can't say I blame him, as I prefer to eat in much the same way, but between keeping him sated and his diapers dry, I rarely have a stretch of time long enough to do the dishes, much less any more time-consuming chores. Especially since I prioritize showering and my own meals over vacuuming.   So things are crazy right now, and I'm not thrilled about that, but this is such a short time in our lives... Sometimes I do feel resentful that he wants to eat AGAIN, and why can't my husband start lactating and share this burden? But I try to take a deep breath and settle back and enjoy the quiet moment with my son. It's not always easy, and I'm not always successful, but when I can stop myself from trying to reach out beyond our little bubble nursing can be an amazing, beautiful perfection.

We have nursed pretty much everywhere. When babies are hungry, they are hungry, and I try to get out of the house at least three times a week, so Tycho comes with me, and he eats wherever we are. I've nursed him at restaurants, at parks, at the zoo, at family reunions, at the doctor, in the hospital. Airports, airplanes, grocery stores, shopping malls, a birthday party, yoga class, in bed, half asleep. In front of my sister, my parents, my in-laws, my boss, summer daycampers, little old ladies, teenage boys, both mine and my husbands entire extended families. I don't own a nursing cover. I've used a muslin blanket a couple of times when we're outside in direct sunlight, and not for any sense of modesty. (After giving birth, I have none.) And I haven't heard one word about my public display of my breasts, except my father-in-law commenting after the fact on how none of his family members seemed to care. I worried, as I'm not exactly the most discreet, nor do I have any intention of trying to be, but so far I've felt nothing short of complete acceptance and encouragement.

Body issues are common, I'm sure post-partum. In general, I feel pretty good about where I'm at. I can fit into some of my jeans again, however they do look a little different. But my chest challenges me. Back during my pregnancy I had very little breast development, and I was concerned that it would lead to challenges with milk supply later. But oh how wrong I was. Finally I went for a bra-fitting at a local hippie/breastfeeding/cloth diapering/baby wearing store, and wow. I went from a 32A pre-pregnancy, to a 34E. E wasn't even in my boob alphabet. I'm still kind of shocked, to be perfectly honest. So while I can shimmy into pre-baby bottoms, anything on top is just hopeless, as you can probably imagine. And even with cobbling together a new, bigger wardrobe, I find that the style I have cultivated for years simply doesn't flatter my new voluptuous body. Add to that the need to find clothes that allow for easy boob access, and I'm really struggling with my style right now. Considering my career in fashion retail, I find this particularly difficult. Even when I return to work, I still need to have access for pumping. But what I wouldn't give to be able to wear a boat neck dress!

Speaking of returning to work, I go back full time in a month. (I have more than enough thoughts on this for another whole blog post, so let's keep it to breastfeeding.) I'm committed to keeping Tycho on breast milk, for at least his whole first year, and I know that it might be difficult for both of us. We started trying  to introduce a bottle when he was around six weeks, and it's taken until quite recently for him to accept it without a fight. We make sure he has at least one bottle everyday, so that he maintains his bottle-feeding skills, but this is very frustrating for me, more of the milk I am pumping goes to these bottles instead of into my frozen stash. I had quite a bit stored, but before we left town I gave it all to a friend in need, so I've had to start all over again. I'm hoping to have at least 100oz frozen before I go back, and I think I'll get there without too much trouble. I am, though, concerned with being able to keep up with Tycho's demands pumping at work. I do pretty well with the pump, but at home I usually pump from one breast while the baby nurses from the other, and I get a much better letdown than I would by pumping solo. But I'm trying not to worry about it until I actually have a reason to, if at all.

So all in all, breastfeeding is going pretty spectacularly for us, and mostly I like doing it. It's so cool to look at Tycho and be able to say, "I made that."

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Jet Set

Please excuse my absence, friends. We've been busy with travel. That's right, Tycho took his first airplane-type trip to meet his relatives in Ohio.

I stressed over this trip. I worried and ranted and ultimately researched my butt off on how to make things go smoothly. And on the way there, they did. I wore the baby through the airport. I was going to use the Ergo, since it's my everyday carrier, but at the last second decided to wear the Moby instead, since it seemed easier to sit in for long periods of time. (I packed the Ergo in my carry-on just in case, but ended up being happy with my choice.) We borrowed a Snap 'N Go stroller frame, popped in our car seat, and piled our luggage on top for easy airport navigation. I had to have some additional screening because I asked for my breast milk to be hand screened, but it was no big deal. We were able to gate-check our car seat and stroller, and we were seated in the very last row of the plane, for easy access to the lavatory for diaper changes. On the second leg of our trip our flight was only partially booked, so we were able to bring the car seat on board and give Tycho his own seat. I didn't specifically nurse him on take-off or landing, because he wasn't hungry during those times, but he didn't cry or fuss, and beyond the normal discomfort of sitting in a cramped airplane seat for hours on end, air travel was no big deal.

The trip itself was pretty lovely. The transition wasn't hard for Tycho at all; we co-slept at my in-laws just as we do at home, although he kept on his Seattle schedule, which made for some very late nights. But hey, vacation, we can sleep in. We left him with his Grandma and Grandpa a couple of evenings to go out with friends, and his first time(s) being babysat went as smoothly as you could imagine. And I didn't even stress out too much about it.

I think perhaps my favorite thing about the trip is this. We spent some time paging through old albums of baby pictures of Kyle and found something astonishing:

I seriously couldn't believe it. Everyone we showed it to thought it was a picture of Tycho at first. It really could be a picture of Tycho, if Tycho had a velour tracksuit. I need to procure him one. It's funny to me, because although it is obvious that he is his father's son, I really just see "Tycho" far more than I ever see either of us in him. But I am his mother and that is how it should be, I think.

The trip home was slightly more difficult, with delayed flights, rerouting, no layovers, many extra hours in the air, and Kyle and I being separated in middle seats in different rows. By the end of the second flight Tycho had had enough of sitting on my lap for hours on end with no time to stretch and wiggly and here I am sandwiched between two strange men with my boob out while my baby cries and spits up all over me. I'm still not completely over it, if you couldn't tell. But I supposed all's well that ends well, and we made it home in one piece, minus a little bit of a sleep regression, but that may be tied to some growth-spurting, too.

In other news, Tycho is three months old today. I can't believe how much he's grown, both physically (and how!) and developmentally. He is not at all the same baby we brought home from the birth center. He interacts with us now, he coos and shouts and grunts and he can stick his fists into his mouth and hold onto some of his toys and all of the sudden he miraculously will tolerate tummy time for more than three seconds. A couple of weeks ago this all really started to feel real and permanent for me. Before it just seemed like we were simply playing house, and sometime soon someone would come and take him back and things would go back to how they were before. But the new reality has solidified for me, and I truly feel like I am his mother, and always will be, and that is that. And that is nice.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Hi there. Recent data suggests that lots of people I know are reading. Or that lots of strangers that coincidentally live in several places I have friends and family are reading. Anyway, hello! Congratulations on your successful Google-ing. Sorry if you now know waaaaaay more about my cervix than you ever desired. You should comment, so I will feel less lonely.

Thank you for your time. Here is a cute baby picture:


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