Well, I’m back at work now. I wish I didn’t have to be, but we can’t afford for me to stay home (we’re both fortunate to have good jobs, but our student loan payments are even bigger than our mortgage payments, and it would be expensive to put Ari and me on A.’s health insurance). In a way, it’s kind of like getting back to normal life, only a little more challenging. The major issues I’ve been concerned about are: getting time to pump at work, not losing my milk supply, sleeping during the day, A. being alone with Ari at night, and having time for taking care of things at home and still having time to relax and visit with family and friends.
A.’s parents were here all of last week, which helped with the transition (also his brother and his wife were here this last weekend!). At the beginning of the week, I had my first two (12-hour) shifts. The first night, A.’s mom texted me around 2am to let me know everything was fine! She was just keeping an eye on things to make sure A. didn’t fall asleep when he was taking care of Ari, but she wasn’t getting involved to help. I struggled with pumping – I got there early to pump before my shift and then locked my pump and cell phone in my locker with a new lock, and forgot the combination! I had to call A. on a coworker’s phone and have him find the combination in old text messages, and by the time I got my pump out it was time to start work. My patients had to wait longer for their bedtime meds so I could pump around 10pm, and a coworker had to give some meds for me, but fortunately there were no emergencies. In the morning, I was frustrated with having to stay and finish charting when A. called to say that Ari was hungry and crying, but I knew someone could given him a bottle.
After the two nights, I had four nights off, and then another two nights working. The second night, one of my patients wasn’t doing well when it was time for me to pump, and we had to call a rapid response (ICU nurses to come to the bedside) and the doctor, and then I had to accompany that patient to a CT scan. The charge nurse had to watch my other three patients plus another patient I was supposed to be taking on at 11. I left the CNA with the patient so I could pump while we waited for the transporter, then had to stop when he arrived. I was SO frustrated that I was thirsty, hungry, had needed to go to the bathroom for several hours, and it had been over 5 hours since I had last pumped, and I felt like there wasn’t enough help for me to take care of any of those needs. I got those few minutes to pump, but eating, drinking, and going to the bathroom had to wait longer, and then to fit those things in later, I didn’t get in to see the new patient I was taking on as quickly as I should have.
It seems like most people say you should pump every 3-4 hours, max, to keep up your supply while you work, and I’ve been making it every 5-6 hours. I pump right before the shift, usually again around 11 or 12, then around 4 or 5, then I wait until I get home and breastfeed after I shower (and then I might just fall asleep without eating anything). I really don’t want to lose my supply, but the nanny brings him to me in bed so I can breastfeed him all day whenever he needs to eat, and I’m still pumping more than he’s eating at night. When I’m home with him and we both sleep for six or seven hours, I don’t panic about it, so why should I need to pump that often at work? The pediatrician says that pretty soon, he should be going eight hours without eating at night for his oral health, so my body should be able to adjust to that, right? Especially since I’m still feeding him on demand all day. It occurs to me that one of my coworkers who was pumping that frequently was also donating to a milk bank, so she was producing more than she needed for just her baby.
Also, in the next few months, he’ll start eating more solids and my supply will start to decrease anyway, right? At some point I think moms breastfeed less frequently but still produce enough for occasional feedings. It’s sad to realize how quickly we’ll be starting to wean! Feeding him has been such a time-consuming, big part of my life for the past few months!
Our nanny is fantastic and I have been sleeping comfortably during the day (in between feedings), knowing she is taking good care of my baby. She sings to him and takes him for walks, keeps Andrew from barking too much, and helps with housework when Ari is napping or eating. I had to go to one of my committee meetings at work the other day in the afternoon and I didn’t want to have to pump again, so she came along and texted me when I needed to leave the meeting to feed him!
A. is doing great at night! That part is going much better than we expected. Ari is turning out to be a good sleeper, going to be around 10pm or sometimes earlier, and not waking up until around 5. Then he eats and goes back to sleep until I get home and feed him.
We’ve decided we need the nanny to arrive earlier in the morning than we thought, so that A. can leave for work before I get home. I’ve been really struggling with having a lot of charting to do after I report off in the morning. Maybe it’ll get better if I can figure out how to chart while I pump! I wish I could leave on time (and I’ll be in trouble soon if I keep staying late!), but at least A. can hand Ari off to the nanny and leave on time.
A. has become the expert at putting Ari to bed. He reads to him, plays lullabies on his phone, and lets him fuss a little bit before he goes to him, which seems to be working to help avoid the overtired screaming spells. When I’m home, if I go in the bedroom when I hear crying, A. will say, “I’ve got it, go away!” So me going back to work means that I have to let him be a more involved dad, and I think that’s a good thing, at least.
In terms of having time for the rest of my life, it’s going to be hard. Tonight is my last of four nights off, and after this I won’t have any more of these long stretches off. I haven’t cleaned the house or done laundry yet, I’ve spent way too much time going through photos because I wanted to order prints to put on my locker at work, and most of my other to-do list items are totally going by the wayside. On the other hand, I’ve had some good days. Ari is getting more independent, and I’ve been able to let him hang out in his swing, watch his mobile, or entertain himself under his IKEA activity gym while I do other things. Now he will actually reach out and bat at it and grab the ring. The other day, he was lying on his back and looking at Andrew and grunting like he was trying to get closer to him, so I had Andrew come give him a kiss and he seemed happy about that. Yesterday, I wanted to do yard work so I put him down on a blanket and he just laid there looking around, with Andrew walking over and checking on him sometimes. I’m getting better at just getting things done with less fussing about it. Also, our breastfeeding sessions are a lot shorter and less frequent than they used to be, and I think he’s taking in more because he’s spitting up more! He’s more interactive, too, so we also get some good alert time to smile and coo at each other. He’s just doing so great! Mothering was so overwhelming at first, but now it’s getting really fun.
I can now walk Andrew and push the stroller at the same time, so long walks are fun. I set up the bigger seat in the stroller and he seems to like it. With that, I can use the rain cover when it starts raining! He’s still doing great when we go out to restaurants, so this week I’ve done plenty of socializing with friends. Fortunately I don’t have any more hesitation about breastfeeding in public! I also think it’s probably good for him to sit on my lap, watch me eat from that perspective, and listen to adult conversation. But sometimes I think he gets overstimulated and then has a meltdown at bedtime, so I’ve been reminding myself not to push it or stay out too late.
With A.’s parents’ help, I got some new things at IKEA and fixed up the nursery some more. I want low shelves he can access for his toys, and that he can pull up on and use as a play and work surface. The little white chair was A.’s, and I got the table to go with it. The table might be too high though. The mirror might be nice to put on the floor when he’s spending more time scooting around.
Last week, he had his “two-month” well-child visit (delayed because we had no insurance while I was on my last month of maternity leave – hmm, why are the United States’ scores for maternal and infant health so much worse than other developed countries’?). He weighed 12 pounds, 15 and a half ounces, which put him now at the 50th percentile, so he’s been gaining weight very well. He was 24 or 25 inches long – I don’t remember which, but they said he’s in the 75th-90th percentile. He also got his first vaccinations. There’s currently a shortage on the combination one, so he had to have five shots instead of three! It was awful, but they did a good job, with two of them to stab him at the same time so it wouldn’t last so long. He got a little temperature later and his legs were red and sore where they poked him, so we gave him some infant tylenol and he seemed to feel better. A few days later, he was unhappy and had a little temperature again, so he had some more tylenol. Poor baby!!
Okay, here are some pictures!
Tummy time is getting better!
In his stroller, he seemed to be having fun using one hand to pull the other hand to his mouth:
Dogs playing under the table!