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Let It Go.

I’m an exclusive pumper. I think I am the only exclusive pumper that I personally know. I fell into this lifestyle not really thinking about it and just did what I thought would be best and what was working for me and my baby/family at the time. I didn’t even realise such a term existed. Until one day after trying in vain to get a clogged duct out and getting frustrated with the online suggestions to “just nurse the baby to get it out” I stumbled onto the most amazing Facebook group of women ever! Thats when I knew I really wasn’t alone in this.

These women, just like me are struggling with the loneliness and pure exhaustion that is the world of exclusive pumpers. It requires A LOT of support from family. It is  unbelievably difficult to do on your own and yet I am inspired by so many who do just that. Young single mums, mums with unsupportive family members, mums who work and even mums to have lost their own baby but continue to pump to donate. And I am humbled. And grateful. And I pump away – knowing that I got this.

There are jokes shared like this one.HA!

And stuff you make us laugh like this one – Top 2o songs to pump to!

And of course the usual tips and tricks to make it all easier but theres also a tremendous tremendous amount of support given and shared amongst these women. No one is put down for choices they make, but neither are they patronised. It’s amazing because this group of over 2300 members must be made up of all sorts of women and yet there is a common thread of understanding that runs through us all that makes us empathic towards each other. It works. it really does.

I am proud to belong to such an amazing group of women who continue to inspire me every single day. Pumping is hard. Its a lonely task. and these women make it all better. That and chocolate – chocolate always makes things better 🙂

Thought I’d share a link that really moved me and I feel its worth reading – just to think about the other side for a change. The women like us. Cant breastfeed and won’t give formula. The in-betweeners 

http://mom.me/blog/14091-exclusively-pumping-moms-exist-too/

 

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Look Ma! No Hands!

When I was in the hospital, after having delivered Z – I knew NOTHING about pumping. In fact in spite of all the reading I did prior to childbirth, I did not prepare AT ALL for pumping. Never thought of buying a pump, never thought of researching the different kinds or even considering if I may need one.

To make my life a bit easier, a good friend had donated her old Medela to me and although I took it gratefully I never really gave it much thought at all. So, coming back to the hospital – there I was, in my room, holding my brand new hours old baby boy and trying to nurse him. And not quite getting it. Along came Nurse no 1. who did a bot of fiddling and got him to latch. Yay! and 30 secs after she left the room, my boy unlatches. So off went the husband for the nurse and along came Nurse No.2, also got him to latch after some positioning adjustments and no sooner had she left that he unlatched AGAIN! This continued for the 4 days that I was in hospital. My ability to get him to have a proper latch was hit and miss. I saw lactation consultants, I was visited my numerous nurses, my breasts were prodded and twisted and grabbed and pressed but I still could not quite get it. But that is another story. Anyway, in the meantime – my milk had come in – in full force! And since he wasn’t taking it all in quite as fast I was told to use the hospital pun and express it out otherwise I could get engorged.

After one brief experience with chilled cabbage leaves, I decided maybe pumping would be better and so the husband kindly obliged and wheeled in a Medela Lactina (I didn’t know it was called that then) and thus began my pumping journey. That was just over six months ago. I still pump today. Still use a Medela and still have trouble latching.

In the early weeks my friend’s medela PISA helped tremendously! I’m not sure if it was a combination of the Lactina for the first five days and the PISA or just sheer luck but thank God my supply never really dipped. It wavered but never fell drastically. As the weeks passed and I realised that pumping was fast becoming a reality I began to read more about it. The various pumps available, the techniques to massage the breasts, the methods to increase supply and avoid clogs – there was so much there!

After my first clog I realised that the internet is not the best place to get information for exclusively pumping mums who face issues with milk production. Every single resource tells you to ‘latch the baby’. Huh? If I could do that I wouldn’t be exclusively pumping! So I joined a Facebook group for mothers like me and found that to be a fantastic resource and support system. And I fell into a comfortable routine. Except that now as my baby grows he’s getting more and more animated. He wants to interact more and is no longer satisfied with just lying back in his cot and staring at the dreamcatcher on the window.  I now needed to have a way of moving with him and yet sticking to my pump schedule.

So I got the Simple Wishes handsfree pumping bra. Used it for the first time this afternoon and my first impression? Super product! I managed to cook while pumping…brilliant! Will probably do a more detailed review once I’ve used it a fair bit but I just had to say it now that I love it so far!

Heres to pumping for as long as I can – its been a great journey so far and I know things will only get better 🙂

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Itchy and Scratchy

I guess it was inevitable – given just how hot and humid it is here and the fact that my sweet lil Z sweats a LOT, sooner or later we would have to deal with an outbreak of diaper rash. *sigh*

Now we only use cloth diapers. Always have, ever since he came home from the hospital. We only use disposables when we go out for the entire day and in the very early days for nights. But no more. We find that the cloth diapers hold much better, no leaks and no accidents. But thanks to the heat and my sweaty lil boy, the darn diaper rash has struck. This morning Z was very fussy and cranky. This is very unusual for him as he rarely cries for longer than five mins – usually to communicate something. But this morning he wouldn’t stop. We checked everything (including the diaper) and there was no reason for him to fuss so much. Until I opened up his diaper (remembering that yesterday he was a bit red when changing) and he stopped crying immediately. A little bit of probing and I saw his poor lil bummy all red and sore. And a bit of the rash was also on his hips. The poor lil baby. Immediately wiped him down, and left him open. He fell asleep after his feed and was calm and relaxed. Until he decided to pee. All over our bed. Well I guess theres a first and its great that we managed to go 4 months with a baby and no pee on the bed right? *sigh*

Anyway, it seems like a mild outbreak so Im hoping it goes away soon. Applied some Mustela and will see how things go. He is no longer crying and seems like his happy sweet self again.

On a separate note – my supply has dropped again. Super stressed. Not sure why this time but Ive started on the fenugreek again. Fingers crossed it bounces back asap.

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Blocked.

Now I know (I think) what it feels like to have a blocked duct. It’s horrible!

I don’t know why or how it happened, maybe it was some tight clothing/bra and/or a long gap between pumps but whatever it is, it hurts like hell. My left breast has been a bit of an under performer when it comes to milk production which is why it often gets neglected when its time for a massage before pumping. But today it is so so sore. It hurts to just graze my finger over it (especially a path over the top of it) and I actually cried when I had to massage it. I could’ve stayed under the steaming hot shower for ages just to ease the pain. It hurts so badly. I only hope it goes away without any medication or anything. Every single resource I refer to says I should just directly latch my baby onto the affected breast for it to unblock and the pain to eventually subside but why don’t they have resources with information for women who are exclusively pumping like me?! I pump because my baby doesn’t latch so you telling me I should latch to relieve a problem is pointless isn’t it?

Anyway, its not a good day for me and I hope this too shall pass sooner rather than later.

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Frozen

Ever since I (unconsciously) realised that I may have to become a full time expressing mum, I knew that I would have to build up a stash of frozen breast milk for days when I fell ill, my supply dropped or simply as a backup just in case.

We started off with some of the free stuff we got at the hospital; great milk bags and some containers and bottles. Little did we know that we would fall painfully short very very soon! Our little freezer was overflowing and we soon ran out of storage space AND containers. So the hunt began for a chest freezer (we got a lovely one!) and storage options.

Until now, we’d been using Avent storage pots (the 240 ml ones that can be reused) and some Autumnz bottles that we had purchased ages ago. But I felt these were not just expensive and encouraging the use of more and more plastic but also occupied a ton of space in the freezer. So I started to look up other options and came upon this. Sensible Lines seemed like a good bet, but it was so expensive! So when I found these food trays made in Korea I knew I had to try them out. And the best part, they were on offer at a baby fair (buy two and the third is free)

What I love about them is the option to freeze different portion sizes. And the fact that they can be reused for not just breast milk but also baby food and our food as well. It may not be as convenient as the sensible lines in terms of weighing out exactly one ounce but they do have individual measurements for each pot and thats easy for me to calculate my feed then.

Used them over Easter weekend and love love love them!

Image © TheAmmiDiaries

Image © TheAmmiDiaries

Image © TheAmmiDiaries

Image © TheAmmiDiaries

Image © TheAmmiDiaries

Image © TheAmmiDiaries

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Express Yourself – Hey Hey Hey Hey!

Never ever ever make the mistake of going to the first day of a baby fair ‘with’ your almost four month old, on a public holiday. We did that this friday and boy did we pay for it.

It was at the Expo, we’ve been to this fair the last time it was held (October 2013) and I was about 7 months pregnant. Although it was crowded then, it was nothing compared to this time. And since there was no one at home to watch Z we had to take him along. Now, Z was a complete angel, no fussing or crying but I felt bad for the poor chap as it was hot and stuffy and very very crowded. We hardly got the time to browse any stores, barely saw a quarter of the products on offer and yet ended up spending close to 5 hours in the fair – 43 of which were spent standing in payment queues. *sigh*

Personally I paid for this dearly. As an expressing mum, I need to express milk every three hours or so. But with such a small baby, planning doesn’t always happen on schedule and so I had pumped my last round at 9.30 am. It was close to 5pm and we were still at the expo. It would take me another hour at least to get home by the mrt (if I joined the queue for cabs probably longer). Luckily for me earlier in the day while I was browsing the store for stuff I noticed the Tommee Tippee Manual pump marked down to 34$.(less than half) We use their bottles and although I’m pleased with my Medela Pump in Style I needed something to throw in a bag when outside. I bought the pump and when we walked out of the expo hall realised that this was the perfect opportunity for me to test it. My breasts were hurting so bad that we barely had the time to tear open the wrappings and set up the pump before I started to leak 😦

Image courtesy :Amazon

The Positives?

  • Easy to set up.
  • Not too many parts to assemble. And not to difficult to use.
  • The big silicone horn was comfortable and didn’t hurt me at all. The box came with literally everything I needed to pump! which made it so much easier for me to use it then and there.
  • I also liked the lid they gave with the bottle.

The Negatives

  • Yes, I did drip all over myself, but then again that happens to me with my medela too sometimes so I think its all in the angle of holding the pump.
  • Having never used a manual pump before, I thought it was tedious and my hands did hurt.
  • Since I hadn’t pumped all day my milk was flowing very freely but I wonder if the pump would be as effective on a normal three hr schedule.
  • The teeny tiny milk jars that came with the box – what was that about?! they could barely hold a pickle. I think they should’ve put in one larger jar that held at least 120 ml. This was probably 50 or less.
  • When we got home and washed the parts up I noticed that one of the parts was not as easy to clean. If used regularly it could become quite a pain to keep milk free.

Overall, I like that it complements my tommee tippee bottles. It’s also handy to throw in a bag to avoid engorgement on a day out but it’s not as easy to clean and can hurt the hand if used continuously for a long duration.

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It’s Been a Hard Day’s Night

..and this week has been one of my hardest to get through so far. I have a headache that refuses to go away since tuesday and last night was probably one of the toughest nights for me since I’ve given birth.

Somewhere in Feb I started to notice my milk supply dropping. Of course I panicked. Started on fenugreek seeds twice a day (which works wonders BTW) and saw the supply slowly pick up. I reached a stage where I could actually start freezing my milk. And until yesterday I had built up a nice solid stash to help me out in case my supply ran low again or for emergencies. I worked hard to get that milk. Lots of pain and sleepless nights, lots of sacrifices in time spent at the pump after feeding baby, lots and lots of washing, sterilising parts, labelling jars…it was not easy. And then last evening we found the freezer door open. More than half of my frozen milk had defrosted. It was no longer viable. I took one look, walked into the living room, sank down on my sofa and sobbed. I have not cried that much or that hard for years. Maybe it was a bit hormonal too (but I was never hormonal during my pregnancy so it was new for me) and maybe it was a lot of pent up exhaustion and frustration but I really really cried. I cried for all my wasted efforts, and all my stress, all my loss of sleep and my hours and hours spent pumping instead of sleeping/reading/bathing/going out/relaxing/painting my nails or whatever.

I don’t ever ever want this to happen again and I was heartbroken.

But today is Jamshedji Navroze. A new year – the advent of spring. And with it I hope to have new beginnings and a new fresh outlook to life. The best is yet to come. Navroze Mubarak!