Friday, April 29, 2011

Adventures and Blunders in Pumping at Work

The $300ish I spent on a second pump so that I could leave it at work was the best $300ish I think I have ever spent!  But even with this absolutely wonderful added convenience, I'm finding that I'm still running into all sorts of adventures and blunders when it comes to pumping at work.

I've been back to work for nearly a full semester, and have left a vital piece of the pumping equation at home at least a half-dozen times.  I thought I would be smart and leave a back-up set of the hard breastshields at work, which would have saved me the first time I forgot the soft-shields (which I usually use)...except for I hadn't realized that they were missing the yellow part that holds the membrane.   A quick trip to the store proved that I couldn't just buy that piece--I had to buy a full new set of the standard hard breastshields.   But at least I now have a fully-functioning back-up set at work.  Now, if I only had a back-up set of tubing, I wouldn't have had to turn away and drive home twenty minutes into my thirty minute commute.  Luckily, that has only happened far.

But it's not always a matter of remembering to bring my pumping pieces to work--I've also had the days when I forgot to bring the used pieces home to be sterilized.  And then there was the day when I forgot the milk in the fridge at work and had to use frozen stuff the next day for Ella.

Thank God I have my own designated office all to myself, and my colleagues understand that if my door is closed and the screen is pulled that I'm "in a meeting" (which is code-word for pumping).  So far, no one has walked in on me.  I have had students drop by shortly after a pumping session when I've still had the milk sitting out on my desk, but they apparently didn't notice (or didn't mention it).  But I do admit that I've stopped the pump but stayed hooked up in order to answer a phone call and then resuming my pumping when the call was through.

And then there was the day a week or so ago when I finished pumping right before leaving for the day, locked up my office, retrieved the rest of the milk from the fridge in the workroom at the end of the hall, walked out to the car...and noticed that my shirt was completely unbuttoned.  I don't think I interacted with anyone on my way out the door, but who knows if anyone got a sneak-peak as I walked through the student-filled atrium.

I would love to breastfeed for at least the first year of Ella's life, which means making it through the summer and at least the beginning of the Fall semester.  It would be my goal to be able to start the Spring 2012 semester without the pump under my desk.  Life would be so much easier if I could just feed her straight from the breast each time, but overall, I'd say that I've got a pretty good pumping at work routine, despite the few blunders.

Today's blessing is the chance to head up to Seattle with my husband and Ella.  I have to work a bit on Saturday, and most of the day Sunday, but I'm also looking forward to the chance to explore some of the city.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My Little Desert Tumbleweed

I can't take credit for the term--I don't remember which mommy I picked it up from--but Ella has turned into a little desert tumbleweed.  She is rolling all over the place, and it's the sweetest thing to watch.

On Monday, I stayed home because I wasn't feeling well, but it gave me an extra day with Ella.  I was feeling pretty crappy, so I hung out on the couch and put Ella on the floor to see what she would do.  Lately, she has preferred to sit up and play, but she obliged me with some extended tummy-time...which really turned into roll-all-over-the-living-room-time.  At first, she seemed to just roll in one direction, and would just roll and roll and roll...until she got stuck against a wall.  But this afternoon, she figured out that she can roll in both directions, both towards and away from me.  I don't know who is having more fun--me or her!

In addition to rolling, she's also getting on her hands and knees and trying to crawl, but alas, she's mostly scooching backwards.  But it's coming!  She's definitely turning into a mobile baby...and soon, our lives will never be the same.

Today's blessing was a beautiful text picture from my childhood friend (after whom Ella is named) who had a handsome and healthy baby boy last week.  God is good in His timing--she was admitted to the hospital last Tuesday night for preeclampsia...but her water broke naturally just a few hours later.  I pray that we have a chance to meet each other's little ones soon.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Ella is developing quite the little personality.  My in-laws taught her how to stick out her tongue, so now she thinks it's the coolest trick ever.  And I have to admit--it's pretty cute.  But the problem is that she seems to be distracted by this new trick when she is nursing.  I want her to focus on eating, but it's pretty hard not to laugh at her.

And it's not just the tongue--she is also distracted by the other kids at daycare when I go to feed her on my lunch break.  Actually, she's distracted by my husband as well if he walks through the room.  He uses his strictest Daddy-voice and says "Eat your dinner, Baby Girl".  She just smiles at him and sticks out her tongue.

It used to be that nursing her was my chance to do my bible study in the morning and catch up on my blog, facebook, email, or shopping in the evening.  But lately she just wants to look at whatever it is that I'm looking at.  She just pops off, looks around, and then pops back on.  My mom has warned me that she may just yank the nipple when she wants to look around rather than popping off and on, so I'm sure that will be a lovely sensation to experience.

With the introduction of solids, I trust that she's getting all the nutrients that she needs.  And she is definitely a focused eater first thing in the morning, and usually settles down after a while in the evenings.  I don't want to give up my lunches with her, so I might just have to tolerate the distractions and cherish the chance to play if that's what she'd rather do.  I guess this is just part of the growing up process--it's great to see her take an interest in everything around her, but I just wish she would focus on eating when it's time to eat!

Today's blessing was sleeping in...for a little bit.  After traveling for work all weekend, I figured that I'm due a little time off (not to mention that I have two furlough hours that I'm required to take).  It felt really good to not wake up at 5:00 am (however, I was up at 5:35 am when my husband's alarm went off...he, on the other hand, also decided to sleep in and didn't get out of bed until 8:00 am).

Monday, April 18, 2011

Walk of Shame

I'm proud to report that I never had to do the "walk of shame" during my college years.  You know the one...where guy/girl hooks up with guy/girl and spends the night and then has to walk home the next morning in what is either clearly their clothes from the previous evening or whatever they borrowed from that particular guy/girl with whom they have just spent the night.  But I admit that I experienced my own kind of "walk of shame" last night (and don't worry--I promise I woke up in my own bed this morning).

So this was the weekend when Ella and I flew to New York for my work.  I didn't want to worry about the hassle of doing bottles and pumping for a cross-country trip, so my mom met us to take care of Ella while I worked.  All in all, it was a great weekend.  Unlike when my in-laws visited, Ella really seemed to like my mom nearly right away (my mom was also really smart about giving Ella a few minutes to adjust before holding her).  Ella was fabulous on our flight from Tucson to Denver (2 hours) and again from Denver to New York (3 hours).  On the return trip, so was again fabulous from New York to Denver (my mom was on the same Denver-New York flights, which was great).  But by the last leg of the flight, she was done.  And who can blame her?  She's 6-1/2 months and we're asking her to sit and play nicely on my lap all day long--with a three hour time change!  About halfway through the last flight (9:00 pm Arizona time/midnight New York time), she melted down. 

It was probably the saddest meltdown I have ever gotten from her--and of course it had to be on the plane. When Ella is upset, I can usually fix whatever is bothering her with a comfort nurse.  So when she started to fuss, I immediately offered her the breast.  It didn't work.  I offered her the binky (which she has recently started to take more as a "toy" than as a "pacifier").  It didn't work.  I held her tight and sang to her.  It didn't work.  I offered her the breast again.  It still didn't work.  Oh, and did I mention that I had a window seat?  It was beautiful for viewing the full moon, but left me feeling pretty trapped with a screaming baby until I finally asked my neighbors to let me escape to the lavatory. 

So there I was on my walk of shame down the aisle, with my beautiful screaming daughter in my arms and the whole plane shooting "shut your baby up" daggers in my direction.  I avoided any possible eye contact and raced to the safety of the lavatory (which, by the way, I have never personally used).  Of course, by the time I closed the door, Ella gave a little sigh, put her head on my shoulder and promptly fell asleep.

I then had a good cry, there in the lavatory, with the most amazing miracle sleeping peacefully in my arms.  I was "that parent" that we all simultaneously loathe and pity.  I felt so bad for interrupting everyone's flight, but I mostly felt bad that I wasn't able to comfort Ella. 

She slept on my shoulder for the remainder of the flight.  When we landed, a very kind gentleman sympathized with me and assured me that every parent on the flight understood.  I thanked him for his understanding, but wanted to counter back that every non-parent probably hated my guts.

My mom was kind enough to point out that Ella did great for 9 hours and 55 minutes (not to mention the security line, layover, and luggage retrieval) and only fussed for 5 minutes.  She's right.  I need to focus on how well she did for so much of the trip, and not worry too much about the meltdown.  But I've learned my lesson, and will try to get an aisle seat from now on in case I need to escape.

It was such a blessing to spend the weekend in New York with my mom.  Ella and I both developed colds, but my mom was so great to us.  It was so sweet to spend a three-generation with my mom and my daughter.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Prayers for Kristine

It was right around this time last year that I shared that I had reached out to my best guy friend from college and learned that his wife has suffered a loss.  The similiarities were just so unreal.  A few months later, it was a blessing to learn that they were pregnant again with a strong heart beat. 

I knew that she was due around mid-April, and I saw this facebook post from his parents this morning:

Healthy Baby (Reece) (7 lbs 20 inches) born today in Washington DC. Kristine needed to be transferred from home delivery to the hospital due to high blood pressure (started contractions 6 AM Sunday). She then needed an emergency c-section. She is currently in ICU. Prayers needed.

Please pray for my friend Kristine, my friend Kris, and Baby Reece. 
Today's blessing is having my husband home from his camping trip with his guy friends.  It sounds like it was a great weekend of fellowship, and I'm glad to have him renewed. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Baby Food Chef

Call me old-fashioned, or frugal, or paranoid about preservatives, but I have decided to make our own baby food.  I hadn't even consider that it was a simple-enough possibility until my former colleague told me that she was doing it for her daughter.  So my birthday gift from my husband was some cookbooks and mini containers, and the promise that I could buy myself a new food processor when we got started.

A couple of weeks ago, I started by making some carrots and sugar snap pees.  I wanted to start with a vegetable, so I went with the two the I enjoy the most, and hopefully Ella will enjoy them as well.  Yesterday, I spent a lovely afternoon making baby food with my very dear friend and a new amazing friend (I'll need to find a good nickname for her here...).  My in-laws brought melon straight from their garden (well, straight from their garden last summer and into the freezer).  We also made up some zucchini and pees to add to the assortment.

We're introducing foods one at a time.  I know that we're instructed to start with rice cereal, and that was my intent, but I apparently selected "multi-grains" infant cereal instead of plain-old rice cereal...oops!  Thank God Ella didn't have any sort of reaction!  Since then, she has gotten oatmeal and carrots, and the list will only continue to grow.  She loves to eat.  Scratch that--she LOVES to eat!  Her little legs start kicking and her arms start pumping and she smiles and screeches and gets so excited.  It's so fun to watch.

Making baby food is surprisingly simple.  I'm just using my old little food processor, but after using my very-dear friend's fancy one yesterday, I think that I'm going to take my husband up on the offer to get a good one.  And like I said, Ella seems to love it.  But then again, she's only tasted my cooking...she might not think I'm that much of a chef as she is exposed to more and more in the future.

Today's blessing was some spring rain yesterday...though I'm sure it made conditions a bit challenging for my husband and his guy friends on their camping trip!  After two years in Oregon, I'm finally able to appreciate a good spring rain in the desert, because I know that it will be sunny again soon--something I couldn't ever count on while I was living in the Pacific Northwest.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

So Far, (Mostly) So Good

Ella didn't know what to think of her grandparents when they arrived.  She cried when my mother-in-law first held her.  I think she's in that "stranger = danger" phase (and her regular daycare providers have commented on this as well when the "floaters" come into the infant room to help out).  I thought that perhaps she would warm up if my mother-in-law fed her rice cereal that first night, but she again cried, even though I was sitting at the table as well.  But she warmed up a bit the next day (even despite the shots from her six month appointment), and was all smiles by Tuesday morning when I left for work and she stayed home with my husband and her grandparents.  She's home with the grandparents again today while both my husband and I are at work, and my mother-in-law just called to inform me that she seems to know that something is different but is happy enough.

My mother-in-law has made a few tiny comments that I'm trying to let slide, but for the most part, they are respecting our wishes in how we're raising our daughter.  Ella fussed for a minute or two around 1:00 am the first night, and sure enough, they left her alone to fall back asleep.  She has been waking up in the 4:00 am hour, which isn't quite normal, so I've been "trouble-shooting nursing" at that point, and praying that she'll go back to her 5:30 am wake-up after this week.  They leave on Friday morning, so that gives us two more nights to get through, and then the weekend to recuperate. 

I'm really trying to have a good attitude.  My husband is disappointed that I've been going to bed early and haven't stayed up to visit and chat after Ella goes down.  But I'm waking up at 1:00 am to pump, and waking up at 5:00 am to get ready for work, so sleep is very precious to me.  I know that they love Ella very dearly, and the last thing that I want is any sort of friction.  I just want Ella to be happy.

Today's blessing is seeing our trees start to bloom.  We had a late freeze in the desert, so it seems like it's taken everything just a little longer to turn green.  Slowly but surely, it's starting to feel like spring in the desert, and it's absolutely beautiful.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


My in-laws are due to arrive within the next hour or so.  My husband is super excited to see his parents.  I'm more...apprehensive.

For the most part, I really like my in-laws.  They have been so amazingly good to me and welcomed me as part of the family when my husband and I were just dating.  I'm definitely proud to be a part of his family.  But things were a bit...frustrating...when they came to visit when Ella was born.  Granted, we had both my parents and my in-laws together in the same house, with a new baby...and two sleep-deprived oh-my-God-this-is-awesome-but-I'm-also-a-little-overwhelmed-and-tired brand new parents.  Which leaves me wondering how things are going to go this week.

My first concern is with sleeping.  For the most part, Ella goes down really easily as part of her evening routine (eat, shower, story, nurse, sleep), but she will wake up from time to time in the middle of the night and fuss for a little bit (two minutes max).  I intervene if she's legitimately "crying", but we don't pick her up if she's just "fussing" (there is a difference, am I right?).  I worry that my mother-in-law will want to step in and fix the situation...even though Ella will usually just go back to sleep on her own.  My husband has assured me that he'll instruct his parents to let us handle it, but then I worry what she'll think of me.

My second concern is that I'm bringing Ella into daycare tomorrow because she has a doctor's appointment in the afternoon.  I know that my in-laws would be more than happy to watch her, but I don't want to leave Ella alone with "strangers" all day long, even if they are family.  My husband is taking Tuesday and Thursday off, and I'll work a half-day each of those days, so I feel okay leaving her home then.  And I'll even leave her alone with them on Wednesday.  But by then, hopefully she'll be more familiar with them.  I just hope that they aren't offended that I want to bring her into town with me tomorrow for her doctor's appointment (six month check-up that's been scheduled for two months).  I can just seeing her telling all her friends that she drove all the way from Montana and I didn't let her spend any time with her granddaughter...

I'm probably worrying too much.  I want to please everyone, and yet my main concern is Ella.  I need to have a better attitude.  I just pray that this week goes well and that Ella's routine isn't too disrupted.  Sure, grandparents can "spoil" her with love and attention, but I just hope that it's in a way that is conducive to Ella's needs and not just their desires.

Today's blessing is a clean house.  In my anxiousness to please the in-laws, my husband and I got the carpets cleaned and it makes the house look so much better.