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Weaning

Who thought it would be this hard? Who thought it would be this easy?

Ive been pumping since Z was born. Exclusively, since he turned about 3-4 months. It’s been so incredibly hard. But honestly, it was all I knew. I didn’t really know what it was like to wake up and simply latch baby on for a feed. Although he did latch on every now and then, it was rarely without a struggle and definitely not stress free for me (or him I guess) This was probably the main reason why I chose to EP. The stress. I know he didn’t have a tongue tie, nor did I have any issues with milk but it just seemed to be the path of least resistance for me then.

It started with the PISA< sitting on that chair in the corner of our bedroom, hooking up every 3 hours. I was never (unfortunately) one of those lucky women who could empty in like 15 minutes. I always took at least 40 if not much more. So there I sat with the ‘let go, let go, let go’ (at least in my head it sounded like my pup was saying that to me) sound playing in my head, sometimes with my iPad, mostly just massaging and hoping it wouldn’t spill. Every day. Every night.

Initially the husband helped so much! He ran up and down, washing, sterilising, brining me pump parts, changing diapers, feeding Z, rinse, repeat. But slowly he had to stop – other parts of his life and responsibilities had to come into play. And slowly I had to pick up the slack – start doing things on my own. I remember the first time I was shown how to put the pump parts together. I was in such a state! No sleep, my stitches hurt and I could barely stand and there I was trying to remember how to take that lil white membrane out without tearing it.

But I learnt, I had to. And then came the feeds. Z was always such a slow drinker. (Not any more thank God!) I would literally spend over an hour coaxing him to finish a bottle. In retrospect I wonder if I would’ve spent that much time had the milk been formula or if I had chosen to just re use the BM for the next feed. But then, all I wanted was to not throw away the hard work. So I persisted. And he drank. In his own time. It was hard. Very hard. Barely finished a feed when it was time for my 45 min pump. Barely finished that when I had to wash up and sterilise. Once that was done, he would wake up and need some interaction. Once he was fired, it was feeding time again – And the cycle repeated. For weeks.

But then it got better. I never realised it then but it did. He started solids, I dropped to four pumps. Life got a wee bit easier.

It’s 14 months now for Z. Almost. And I just dropped to two pumps yesterday. It feels strange. So strange. So much guilt. So much relief. So much happiness (to look forward to what I can do with the freedom Im giving myself) and so much doubt (am I doing the right thing by stopping? what if he wants more milk and I can’t make it anymore?)

But this day has been coming for a while. I had to drop a pump from 4 to 3 in India when I went for the hols. Time was just not on my side there. And when I came back I realised that I was barely getting enough from my middle pump. To make matters worse, I got a few cracks that refused to heal and got all sticky and sore. Leading to a bad reaction to coconut oil and a hospital visit for some antihistamines. I never really got my supply back after that.  I had to accept it, Im still coming to terms with it – my body is ready. Is he?

He takes a mix of almond milk and BM in his bottle easily. He has no problem with the frozen milk stash I have and he is a great eater (touch wood) so why am I still worried?

Mothers. Guilt. Doubt. Do these ever part ways?

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Angel of Mine

Why do babies grow so fast? When Z was born, I can barely remember the first week (except that we were battling his jaundice). The first month was a blur. Pumping continuously and dealing with a brand new baby combined with no sleep and a new house was too much. Then the days dragged. I was constantly tired, always exhausted and missing my pillow so darn much. I struggled (although at the time I barely registered anything except exhaustion) with balancing my pumping times with his feeds, washing up bottles, sterilising, washing up pump parts, feeding, pumping, washing up diapers – it was never ending. I had no much help. Mum was told (by me) not to do anything but play with Z if she felt like. And the husband helped but then he had to go back to work so the entire day was mine to work. It was hard. When we went to Norway at 4 months I was exhausted with the schedule. I just wanted a break (I still do actually)

But then we came back. He was older. At six months he started solids. That gave me a bit extra work to make his food from scratch but it also was fun. (To make things extra fun we cloth diaper, and when he started solids we did baby led weaning and only home cooked food.) He began to interact more, laugh a lot, develop his personality and I began to fall in love. Again. Reminding me; again, how it was all worth it. The next few months simply disappeared in a flash. And here I am at 13+ months smiling and reminiscing. Why do babies grow so fast?

I love you my fierce lil, beautiful gooey eyed, always smiling for Ammi, banana loving, hand waving dancer, sweet baby boy. Stay this way sunshine. you are perfect.

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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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Brainwave!

Before I forget! I need to write this down and share it because it really worked for me.

Thankfully, in the past six odd months of pumping I have had a clog just twice. Though that was twice too many it still features pretty low in the breastfeeding/pumping world.

When it did happen to me, every single search I did for solutions suggested massaging in some form or another. This along with heat applications should help loosen the clog. Well, the first time I did it I massaged the hell out of my breast until my entire hand was aching and my fingers cramped. I always take really hot showers so that was not a problem but the massaging was taking a toll on my hands not to mention that it really hurt too.

Then the second time I got a clog I was in the shower trying to use the hot water and massage at the same time when my eyes fell on the shelf that holds my shampoo and soap etc. Lying there since I think 2009 (I don’t think I ever used it honestly) was The Body Shop Cellulite Massager.

I picked it up and used it to massage my clog – and it felt great! One pump later and it was gone….I am so so glad I thought of using it for this because I honestly think it brilliant! Yay! so what if I still have cellulite, I am definitely clog free 🙂

Image Courtesy Amazon

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And So It Begins….

….my baby boy has started on solids. Never thought it would hurt so much. He will no longer be completely sustained by my milk. He is growing up. I guess we don’t really think about it much but our babies are constantly moving away from us. All through our pregnancy we walk about with this lil miracle growing inside us not really realising that the day this baby is born is the day we cease to have the ability to protect it the way we can when its inside our womb. And from that day onwards, our baby grows and grows independently.

While I (of course) think this is a wonderful thing, it doesn’t take away the pain felt each time my baby needs me a little less in his life. Solids is the first step. I guess if he was on formula I may have felt it a bit less, but the fact remains that he’s been exclusively breast milk fed so far (and it continues as long as I think I can manage pumping) and seeing hi take delight in tasting that tiny bit of avocado made my heart melt and then hurt – just a wee bit. *sigh*

I love you my darling boy! can’t believe how blessed we are to have you. Your joy at the little things in life. The way you approach each new day with a beaming smile and a furious shake of your tiny lil hands….your constant curiosity and alertness and your incredibly infections happy moods…the way you accept every single new food offered (avocados, rice cereal, oatmeal, pears, sweet potatoes) even though you don’t quite like a couple of them….you are the brightest spots in my day and I can only thank God for giving us you.

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Pump Pump the Jam!

Why can’t every airport be like Changi? It’s not just about the cleanliness, or the butterfly garden, the free osim massage chairs (why do other airports charge you for that?) or the fabulous toilets which are ALWAYS clean. Its not even about the fact that pharmacies and convenience stores are all over the place (I could not find a pharmacy in Frankfurt once – had a splitting headache with my period and had to buy some ibuprofen and some sanitary pads – nothing to be found) or the free unlimited wireless internet. For an exclusively pumping mom like me, its about the pumping rooms. 🙂

In fact Singapore on the whole is fairly kind to pumpers. Malls have pumping rooms, the airport has it, the amusement parks have them and overall its not such a pain to be out and about here. Flying back from or way this month I was wary about my pump schedule. Would I be able to do it on time and in a convenient place?

Stavanger Airport was out of the question. There is simply no privacy, not even a place to sit (unless you sit on the commode) and there are no nursing rooms (that I could find) So I waited till I got into Amsterdam for the stopover.

Now I heard about Schipol being done up recently and that they have this fabulous ‘Holland Boulevard’ which caters to mums and babes so I was eager to find it and see for myself.

Rright, well, its nice – all new and funky looking. They have these living room kinda set ups where people can watch tv and sit around resting. ut I was most interested in their nursing rooms.

For one, its huge! about 6 (maybe if not more) curtained off cubicles with a smallish seat and a huge cot bed like thing in the middle. Now my gripe starts here. The cot bed is probably made for older babies. Because its so so low! if you bend that low to place your 5 month old in, its going to really strain yor back trying to lift them out again. Plus it wasn’t super clean (Singapore has spoiled me) But my main problem was that there were no plug points. There were a few along the wall, but no place to sit next to them so you just kind of stand around it. How was I supposed to pump? (I was conserving my battery for the long flight)

Anyway, I managed to plug it into a socket which was more or less close to the cubicle, passed it under the curtain and then because it fell short, sat on top of the ledge (very uncomfortable) and pumped my 40 min pump. And wished I was in Changi desperately.

Other than that though the place was quite nice. There was a changing table, a huge sink, a microwave and I think some hot/cold water. Still, the world needs to be a kinder place to pumping mums.

Oh Europe! take a leaf from Asia’s book and get these small things right – it will make a world of difference to your service standards!