Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012...Trauma and a Miracle.

I have never cared less about a New Year than this year.  We have no plans.  I barely even knew that New Year's Eve is actually tomorrow.  Mr. GG flies out for a business trip on New Year's Day.

Originally, I was planning to spend New Year's in the NICU.  But now it just doesn't seem like there is a point.  Baby should be asleep.  And sure I can tell him one day that we were with him at midnight...but does it really matter?  I will be awake since I usually pump at 11:30 but I'm just not that into it.

That being said, Mr. GG and I did come up with a last minute plan.  Sushi and wine.  Hot tub and smores by the fire pit.  And sex.  (I really hope my mom isn't still reading this blog.) We have not had sex since...hmm...well somewhere back when I was pregnant.  And before that was probably before we started IVF.  In April.  Our count for 2012 is probably somewhere around 10.  Maybe I underestimate.  We were trying to make a baby at the beginning of the year.  But since then...close to zilch.  Until tomorrow... ; )

Being in the NICU is getting harder and harder.  The first 3 months were fine.  I knew he needed to be there.  I wasn't supposed to have him until January.  But it's almost January.  And all of the people that were due around me are starting to have their babies.  And take them home.  I kind of felt like if we could take him home by his due date, that it was all okay.  Because all of this has been borrowed time.  But it's very likely that he won't be home by then.  I'm working on preparing myself so I don't totally freak out.

He just needs to eat.  But it's so hard!!  He eats 44 mls a sessions, but the most he's ever taken by bottle is 22 mls.  And that was just once.  Yesterday he took 17 twice.  Today 10 (but he was working on a big poop at the time).  Two days ago...2!  He seems so normal at this point.  His heart rate still drops occasionally, but in general he's doing so well.  He's over 5 pounds!  He seems so close to coming home...yet I have no idea when he'll start to get how to feed.

Anyway...2013 is going to be a whole different world.  2012 thoroughly sucked.  Besides the fact that I conceived and had Dylan.  That was great.  But every single thing surrounding it was traumatic and I will gladly put it behind me.  Here's to a new year!

And to those of you who are still in the trenches...I am rooting for you every day.  I was a little frustrated by the fact that during the Sandy Hook coverage everything focused on parents.  "Go home and hug your kids today" was all I saw on FB.  But you do not have to have a child to feel utterly devastated by what happened that day.  I've been thinking about this since then and wanted to all of you to know.

If you are still interested in following Dylan's blog and haven't been added yet, send me an email.  If you have put your email in a comment instead, I probably haven't added you.  Sorry!  It's much easier to reply with the link by email.

Here's a recent pic:

Friday, December 21, 2012

Exclusive Pumping: Supply

I've been worried about my supply since before Dylan was born.

My sister had her first in June and has struggled ever since with low supply.  It's been so frustrating for her.

Then, after Dylan was born, the lactation consultant put the fear in me even more!  It's so important to follow a few rules at the beginning and if you don't, you potentially won't be able to make up for it.  Premie moms typically have a harder time with supply so she really drilled the rules in my head.

The basics:

  • Pump between 8 and 12 times each day.  I'm sure you can do the math, but this means every 2-3 hours.  To me 8 times doesn't sound like a ton.  Every three hours sounds like a bit more...  But what I didn't take into consideration was that pumping takes 30 minutes itself, then add another 10 for prepping/cleaning and it feels like you've just finished when it's time to pump again!  Nuts!  I stuck with 8 pumps a day.  I honestly cannot imagine doing even one more.  If you!  I had a lot of trouble waking up in the middle of the night.  I'd sleep through my alarm with no recollection of hearing it and then feel guilty the rest of the day.  But missing a pump every once in awhile is not a big deal as long as it's not every day.  You can always add a pump in later...they do not need to be evenly spaced.
  • Pump until you are empty.  This one is so hard at the beginning.  First - I never felt empty.  Second, I didn't even know what empty felt like.  Until one day...  An empty breast feels completely deflated - not firm at all (really weird).  Basically, you want to pump until 5 minutes after the last milk comes out while trying to build supply.  You are training your breasts to make more milk.  "They" say you only need to pump for 15-20 minutes at the beginning.  I probably did that for the first 2 days until my milk came in, but as soon as it did I went all the way up to 30 minutes because the milk never really stopped coming!  I think this was key in establishing a good supply for me.  The number of minutes in a day that you pump is just as important as the frequency.
  • Keep up this schedule for at least 12 weeks.  This is the amount of time that your body is learning how much to make - basically through supply and demand.  The more often you empty your breast the more your body is told to fill the breast.  Makes sense, right?  I've cut down a little bit quicker, but I've been really careful about watching to see if my supply has dipped.  If you are worried about supply, do not drop pumps until after 12 weeks.
  • I guess the last thing would be to use a hospital grade pump (or at least a quality double electric).  I use the Medela Symphony and I love it.  It's much quieter than most pumps which is nice when I'm pumping in the middle of the night.  I also think it's two-phase system helped build my supply.
I've been saying I have a good supply, but if you're new to this, you probably wonder what that means.  A baby eats approximately 30 ounces (give or take 10).  Some people make upwards of 60 ounces a day!  But oversupply can be just as big of a problem as under supply.  So when I consistently hit about 35 ounces a day I dropped to 7 pumps a day.  When my supply stayed put for awhile at 7, I dropped from 30 to 20 minute sessions.  I'm now at 6 pumps a day, 20 minutes per session, 10 weeks in.  This is earlier than the 12 weeks and I agonized about dropping, but I went slowly and I can always add more time back in if I notice a dip.

Here's how my supply came in:

Week 1: maxed out at 10 ounces a day - I seemed to add an ounce a day after my milk came in (But at the beginning it's literally a few drops, then 10 mls, then maybe an ounce.  It starts very slowly...don't worry!)

Week 2: maxed out at 23 ounces - about 19 average

Week 3: average - 25 ounces (max 28)

Week 4: average - 29 (max 31)

Week 5: average - 31 (max 34)

Week 6: average 31 (max 36) - dropped to 7 pumps a day

Week 7: average 36 (max 39)

Week 8: average 34 (max 38)

Week 9: average 36 (max 39) - dropped to 20 minutes a session

Week 10: average 33 (max 39) - dropped to 6 pumps a day

I currently get between 4 and 5 ounces a session with somewhere between 6 and 9 ounces during my early morning sessions. (You make more milk during the night - I also go longer between pumps.)

I still worry about my supply each and every day!  But I'm a worrier.  But Dylan is only eating a little over 10 ounces a day right now so I have frozen a ton of milk.  A TON.  I even had to throw away about a quarter of my supply about a month ago because someone left the freezer door ajar and I didn't even cry.  Because I have SO MUCH MILK.

Don't believe me?

Check it out. 

Our regular freezer.  They are stacked 2 deep.  Each bag hold between 3 and 9 ounces!  (Average 5.)

Thank goodness Mr. GG had just bought a new fridge for the garage.  Also 2 deep.

Ooh...some room left in the door!

There are also about 100 frozen bottles at the NICU.  I've been a busy girl.

If you are having a difficult time pumping, just remember that it gets better.  It really does.  It took about 2 weeks for me to not feel desperate, but every now and again I'll have a bad day.  And also...pumping more will help with all problems.  Don't skip pumps - just power through and it'll get better!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Exclusive Pumping

I've been meaning to write this post for weeks now, but after just spilling breast milk all over my computer to the point that my mouse barely's the time.

There are some things that the pregnant and not yet pregnant ladies need to know about milk and pumping.  Here are a few that I've learned.

1) Don't stop using the stretch mark cream on your boobs after you give birth!  My breasts went up one cup size during pregnancy from a C to a large D, but they are ginormous now - to the point that everyone comments on them.  I was looking at the sports bras at Target since mine are too small (and are size small - or maybe medium).  I held up the way.  XL, maybe.  I got it home and the XL was perfect.  I know understand some of the gripes of the large chested.  My clothes (that still fit) just don't look the same since my whole body shape is different.  I know this might be short-lived, but it's here now.

You are going to need some new bras for your new size and new need for comfort.  I LOVE these:

Bravado Nursing Bra

They're on the pricier side for a nursing bra, but they are extremely comfortable.  I bought a medium before my milk truly came in (it takes a few weeks for it to pick up volume) but it's still comfortable.

2) You're going to get milk everywhere.  So much so, that you'll stop caring.  I had a bitch of a day today (worthy of another post) and ended up going 5 hours between pumps.  My large bottles are still dirty from using them overnight (when you make more milk) so I'm using 2 1/2 ounce bottles.  When they get full, they overflow.  This has happened to me a few times now.  I think I'm watching and paying attention; the next thing I know I'm sitting in a puddle of breast milk.  Fun.  I'm not sure exactly how breastfeeding compares, but most people who breastfeed pump at times anyway.

The best place I've spilled milk?  In my lap.  In bed. In the middle of the night.  A whole bottle overturned.  And it's so sad because it's a product of so much effort!  This must be where the phrase "Don't cry over spilt milk" originally came from.

3) You need a lot of supplies.  I mentioned the need for a hands-free bra in an earlier post, but it's a MUST.  Get it now.  I'm sure you're planning on exclusively breastfeeding, but when it doesn't work, or if your baby has to go to the NICU, you're going to want this handy (the hospital will supply you with a pump and pump parts).  When you get home, you're going to need lots more pump parts.  I have 5 full sets plus a bunch of odds and ends.  I was washing twice a day.  Now I wash everything once and just one at a time in the middle of the day.  You'll want a bottle brush for the bottles and horns, but otherwise there are no specialty tools to clean pump's just a pain in the butt.

You'll also want Lansinoh lanolin for your nipples.  You want to keep them moist so that they don't crack (so you don't get mastitis or thrush).  You can lubricate the flanges with lanolin also, but I prefer olive oil.  I just keep it in a little tupperware container and use a paper towel to apply it.

I also have Medela quick clean wipes for times when I'm not around a sink, but they're expensive so I use them sparingly.

Oh and breast milk bags.  I've used Target Up & Up and Lansinoh (everyone's favorite).  I haven't defrosted any yet, but I've heard you should do it in a bowl in case the bag leaks.  I'm going to try Honeysuckle brand next since you can get them in a larger quantity.

ETA: an electric sterilizer.  Mine still hasn't come from Amazon, but I am completely over using microwaveable bags 6 times in a row to sterilize all of the parts.

*     *     *     *     *

Pumping is hard.  I know that breastfeeding is hard too, but they are different hards.  You'll want to quit.  You'll feel like your entire life is chained to the pump, but it does get better.

There is so much more to say, but I'll save it for another post.  If anyone has pumping questions, please feel free to ask!

Also check out the Exclusive Pumping boards on BabyCenter or iVillage and Kellymom or LaLecheLeague.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Nursery Sneak Peak

Dylan's nursery is not nearly finished.  So far it's just paint, a rug, and a closet unit, but it's coming together!  I had my shower today FINALLY and came away with some really cute additions to the closet.

The closet is IKEA.  It was definitely the hardest IKEA piece I have ever put together.  Mr. GG said he would have smashed it to pieces if I hadn't figured it out...but I love the final product!  The middle section is a toy chest.  We plan to hang a rod above the dressers eventually, but I needed somewhere to put the cute stuff from the shower and it's perfect!

Here's a close-up of the best part.  The picture in the middle is my shower invite designed by my husband's step-dad's girlfriend (that's a mouthful - but she'll be "Gram" to Dylan).  She did this in watercolor and had it framed.  A friend got the elephant from pottery barn and my mom got the dinosaur.  That's a picture of Dylan in the middle.  My mom put pictures of him around the shower.  My step-dad made a slide-show too.  It was set to Forrest Gump Suite and was quite emotional.  

We still have a long ways to go to finish the nursery, but we're getting there!  (Just need to buy the crib and changing table, decide on a glider or rocker, and get the details.)

If you haven't read the other blog, Dylan's doing really well.  He's 3 pounds, 3 ounces today...huge to us.  We set up a Christmas tree in the NICU.  Things are going well : ).