Friday, July 26, 2013

Feeding, Breast and Otherwise

I feel like if I had a third baby (not in the plan) I would really get this nursing / pumping thing down. I'm like the Goldilocks of breastfeeding - too much, too little - and I haven't quite gotten to the juussstt riigghhttt part.

With Ellen, I've come to the realization that I had a SERIOUS oversupply of milk. When you see how much milk was in my freezer, I think you would agree, but it didn't occur to me at the time how unusual it was. I started to wean her at 9 months, she was fully weaned at 10 months, and she still had breast milk through 12 months. Not exclusively, but most of her feedings each day were breast milk. Crazy. And, that was after I had purged about 600oz of milk shortly after I went back to work for lack of freezer space. That's all fine and good, except it also reflects the fact that I pumped every morning after I nursed her (literal time suck), and many times during the day if she didn't nurse well, and I leaked when she was due for a feeding almost every time for 9 months. No bueno.

So, with Georgia I was trying to reach a happy medium. I ordered 6 boxes of freezer storage bags before she was born and have barely cracked the second box. I have a little bit of milk in the freezer, but probably only a week's worth, and I find myself thawing some each week to make up the balance of her bottles and not putting any back. I think any time spent breastfeeding is worthwhile and I know 9 months is an accomplishment, but I have an unrealistic standard for myself based on the first go-round and I'm a little stressed about my supply.

I stopped pumping after the first morning feeding around the time I went back to work because I just couldn't make it fit with the morning (harried) routine. But, I think most breastfeeding moms will say that they can pump the most milk in the morning and sometimes relatively little late in the day. I would always pump if Erik gave her a bottle, but if that was the last feeding of the day, I wouldn't always pump an equivalent amount. So, it's kind of a vicious cycle of chasing your tail. I was pumping enough at work to make her bottles, but that has slowly tapered down (and probably accelerated when she was sick for 2 weeks and feeding poorly) and now I'm not. I know it's not a big deal to give her formula, but I would like to avoid the cost if I can. Also, if I'm being really honest, I'm just not ready to wean her. She isn't disinterested in nursing at this age like Ellen was. It's fast and easy. It burns calories! So, we'll see how much longer we can hang on ...

Finally, in reading about pumping and supply and such, I've come across a few things about the motor on your breast pump wearing out. I'm not sure what Medela would say, but I've seen a few posts from moms who exclusively pumped about their motor wearing down. Not that it would quit, but was just less effective. I didn't exclusively pump the first time, but sure pumped A LOT, and I wonder if that may be contributing? Too late for me to get another pump, but might be worth investigating for someone else and I think many insurance companies cover the cost of pumps under the Affordable Care Act.

So, moving on to solids. Again, unrealistic standards I set for myself. I've decided that part of the reason I cook most of the food for my babies is because that is one of the ways I show people I love them. I like to cook, and generally find it kind of relaxing, but also I think I'm good at it. Not gourmet and not an expert, but cooking doesn't scare me. I'm not the best mom at taking my kids on adventures or reading all day long or playing sports with them, but cooking I can handle.

That being said, I spent 6 hours in the kitchen last Saturday (Ellen was gone which is the only reason it was possible) cooking for Georgia and I wondered at the end of it What.The.Hell.I.Was.Doing. I used to make the argument that it was cheaper to make your own baby food and I think it can be if you are strategic, but for me it always involves a trip to Whole Foods (with some extra things thrown in the cart, OF COURSE) and then 1+ hours cooking. Maybe (maaayyybbee) I break even if compared to organic food pouches.

But, I like knowing exactly what goes in her mouth and I love that she eats it up. Seriously - this girl can EAT. Hasn't turned her nose up at a single thing! We are venturing into meat and chunkier textured foods and I still find that the recipes on Nurture Baby are some of my favorite. I made the pork with apples and sweet potatoes last weekend in the crockpot, and the chicken soup (minus pasta, stirred cooked brown rice in after I pulsed it up), and the turkey and white beans. For all the recipes I strained the solids out and pulsed in the Cuisinart until tiny chunks, but not smooth.  I figured out the easiest way to freeze it is to use a small ice cream scoop and freeze single scoops on a foil-lined baking sheet, then move to a plastic freezer bag. We are stocked for 1-2 months and maybe then she'll be on mostly finger foods. Phew.

Finally, on the feeding front, I've wised up and realized that baby puffs are just an expensive thing to sweep up from the floor. Georgia really wants to have some kind of food to eat while we have dinner, so puffs kept her happy, but I've switched to puffed brown rice from Whole Foods. It comes in a plastic bag in the cereal aisle and is about $2 and lasts forever. They have all kinds of puffed grains, but rice seemed about the right size to start with.

And, just a health note of sorts. In the midst of Georgia's two week respiratory junky awful-ness, she was found to have an ear infection and we started amoxicillin. About a week later I noticed she had a little rash on her back, which progressively worsened over about 5 days. It conveniently started the day she first had wheat (pasta) and was worse the next day when she had wheat again. So, I took all wheat out of her diet, stressed about a wheat allergy, and racked my brain about what she could possibly be eating that would make her rash worsen. I took all sorts of stuff out of her diet (I had really just been giving her anything and not keeping track of what/when) and it was super annoying. We've come to the conclusion that she has the relatively common amoxicillin-associated rash, which I guess isn't a true allergy. It just didn't occur to me that the medicine would be the culprit because the rash started about a week after we started the medicine, but I guess that is how it typically starts. Sooo ... if your kid starts a new medicine, maybe be more mindful of what they are eating and not starting any new foods to save yourself a lot of time Googling "nightshade family allergies".

Friday, July 5, 2013

Summer schedule?

Guess I'm taking a not-planned, but clearly obvious break from this here blog. I find that the recovery from all things involving two small children takes, like, weeks. I wouldn't say we've been all that busy, but we were out of town for a long weekend, followed by a week of swimming lessons every evening, followed by a sick baby and, well, I know you get it. Harried is an understatement.

A couple of updates:

One, Ellen's bedtime had degenerated into a mess. Georgia is so easy these days, but Ellen's bedtime routine just required from both Erik and me at the time of day it was hardest to muster. So - new plan. We have two "tokens" (random pieces of wood I dug out of her treasure box and labeled 1 and 2). We do the regular brush teeth / potty / PJs / book / bed and try to move it along. She has 2 tokens to start the night. She can leave her room for "free" to potty as long as she gets back in bed by herself. If she needs to talk to me or Erik she can spend a token to do so, but only has 2 passes. If she keeps her tokens, though, in the morning she gets 1 or 2 stars on her ice cream chart. (I drew a picture of ice cream and filled it with little circles where the stars go). When her chart is full, ICE CREAM! I do randomly give her a star during the day if she does something especially good without prompting, but it's mostly a bedtime thing. I've also taken away stars for especially bad behavior. One time I was going to take away a star and forgot and I told her later she was lucky. "Well, too late now, Mom. HA HA!!" So, I then I erased one for sass. It has actually worked pretty well - we will see for how long. She did ask Erik to come up and scratch her back the other night - "It was worth a token, Dad."

Georgia was sicky, sick this week - same usual respiratory crap. Pro tip for the future: if you own a nebulizer machine and have the meds at home, take it all with you to the doctor's office visit. You can use all your own stuff and save yourself the $$ of getting it there. DUH. I'm sure we will be back ...

And, some stuff I've come across:
Good Guard, Bad Guard - how to know if your lifeguard is doing a good job. Ellen took swimming lessons for a full week and made great progress, but is still not swimming. She is almost LESS safe in the water because she feels confidant, but doesn't yet understand about quickly going into deep water and such. I was watching her and within seconds she took a few steps into the deeper end and was underwater and panicking and my friend had to jump in and pull her out. Not good times.

Similar to the emergency link last time, tips on packing a Go Bag. We haven't done this and, truthfully, I kind of glaze over when I think about it because it seems so monumental. I have a goal of becoming much more paper-less with our important things, which fits nicely with this. A high school acquaintance recently had a bad house fire, which makes all of this feel more important. And, makes me feel that Ellen really is old enough to start talking about this stuff. Again, glazing over ...

Some of my best friends are germs - really interesting article in the New York Times about the microbiome. Well, interesting for you science-y folk. Most fascinating part to me? There are compounds in breastmilk that babies can't digest, but they are specifically intended to nourish good bacteria in the baby's gut. Amazing.

Why Women Aren't Crazy - interesting article, with a take-away message of using caution in how you address your children, girls in particular. I find myself often telling Ellen - "you are so dramatic!" and over time, I think it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I'm trying to be more aware of what I say to her or how I describe her actions.

Finally, there was a nice article in Parents magazine this month about encouraging kindness in your children - teaching it as a skill, just as you would responsibility and independence and such. For those of you who have time to read, it lists two interesting-sounding books: Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents, and Becoming the Parent You Want to Be. It basically talks about listening to your kids - is their complaint about a tummy ache or hurt toe masking their desire for an extra snuggle or some special attention? Also, cultivating a culture of cooperation - helping your kids pick-up. Essentially, if there is a situation where you would normally like some help for yourself, do the same for your children. I must say that I'm probably not good at this - it would be kinder of me to offer to help Ellen at times, and then hope my example encouraged her to do the same for others. And, being kind to yourself - taking time to do nice things for yourself is part of taking care of your family.