Tag Archives: lactation

Diary of a Diaper-Eating Doberman

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you know my dog eats a lot, and specifically a lot of things he shouldn’t eat. Twice his strange eating behavior has landed him at the emergency vet and once he even had to have a scope to remove the foreign object from his stomach. So far his menu of banned items includes countless baby socks, two leather-soled baby booties swallowed whole, a seat belt, and most recently a diaper.

I never really worried about him eating diapers before because we have a Diaper Champ, which not only keeps dirty diapers from fouling up baby’s room but also keeps them safe from thieving Dobermans. But every once in awhile, I’d get lazy or forget and just chuck a dirty diaper in a regular trash receptacle. Now my dog will never let me live that mistake down.

I thought he was being good, chewing on the bone that I had just given him. But that was not the case, as I soon found white papery chunks littered around my living room. Upon inspection, I found that the dog had eaten the crotch clean out of what had obviously been a dirty diaper. I just kept imagining super absorbent diaper bits getting bigger and bigger in his digestive tract and knew that couldn’t be good. Fortunately, I was able to get a couple neighbors to take shifts watching the baby while I drove out the emergency vet to get the dog’s stomach pumped. The whole way I was kicking myself for not putting the damn diaper in the Diaper Champ.

So, with another lesson painfully learned, here’s a little poem in honor of the antidote to diaper-eating Dobermans:

Ode to the Diaper Champ

When I put you on my registry
I wasn’t sure you’d please me
Or if I really needed you
To stash all the baby poo

But wet, full, or just slightly damp
There’s a reason you’re the Diaper Champ

Baby’s britches are a hot mess
We’ve definitely put you to the test
You’ve kept the room from stinking
Which is why I’m totally thinking

Wet, full, or just slightly damp
There’s a reason you’re the Diaper Champ

Bring on the diaper blow out
You make it easy to throw out
A week’s worth of dirty underoos
Without leaving smelly clues

Wet, full, or just slightly damp
There’s a reason you’re the Diaper Champ

Not only can I use my own sack
But you keep the dog from a tasty snack
Of diapers, dirty, ripe, and wet
And ending up at the E.R. vet

Wet, full, or just slightly damp
There’s a reason you’re the Diaper Champ

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Filed under babies, babyproofing, diapers, pets

Why Car Seats Might Be One of the Worst Things for Kids’ Health

I absolutely hate removing my car seat from its rightful spot in the back of the car, mostly because it’s an endeavor that that usually leaves me sweating and exasperated enough to have to dial for back-up to get it back into the car correctly. I also hate it because it’s confirmation that, yes, my car seat is just as nasty, if not more so, than I had imagined.

And it’s not like I don’t try to keep it as clean as possible. I brush my kid’s car seat free from crumbs and other debris nearly every time we use it. And about once I week I probably take a rag to it to try to rub out obvious stains. But it’s when I actually get the time to do a deep clean that I start to really get grossed out. Because for as much as moms focus on  health and cleanliness for our babies, spending small fortunes on products like hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, and immune boosting vitamins, the car seats we put our kids in day in, day out are crawling with germs.

Or at least I know mine is.

My first step in de-grubbing the car seat is always just to get the darn seat out of the car, which comes with its requisite huffing, puffing and pushing, pulling to get it free. Immediately, I remove the cover and hose it down while aggressively going at the crumbs smooshed into every corner and crevice with a hand-held scrubber brush. (Sometimes I also just throw it in the washer.)

Once the cover is hanging up drying somewhere, I move on to the actual seat. It also gets the hose and a soapy water rubdown. I’ve learned that I need to actually flip the seat upside down and spray the bottom as well to be sure it gets really clean. Why? Because sometimes stuff like this is hanging out under the seat:

Ewwwwwww!

Yes, that is a Wheat Thin stuck to some gunk that probably was milk at some point. I still don’t understand how this stuff managed to harden into a solid and adhere itself to the underside of the seat, but it did.

Next, I move on to cleaning up the back seat. Also disturbing:

Yuck!

This stuff actually required scrubbing to remove it. But it’s curious to me how much stuff ends up under the seat given how much seems to end up either in baby’s belly or all down the front of him.

And of course the door:

Not so yummy

It sort of freaks me out when I think about how many germs the typical coffee cup contains, you know, the ones that kind of hang out in people’s cubicles never getting a truly thorough washing. So, when I see this, my inner germ-a-phobe comes rushing to the surface. Can this really be healthy for our kids?

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Filed under babies, baby travel, car seats, cleaning, daily life, health, hygiene, transportation, travel

My Love-Hate Relationship with Swim Diapers

It’s full-on summer these days and when the temps start climbing, there’s really nothing more adorable than a baby in a pool or at the beach. While I have always been the type happy to sit waterside for hours on end with nothing more entertaining than a beer, babies certainly do not have my tolerance for nothingness when the sun is shining. So, I’ve been trying to figure out how to get the most out of whatever pool or beach time I can get with a one year old.

I thought swim diapers might turn into a hot-weather essential, but after a handful of uses I’m becoming more skeptical. Here are the pros and cons, as I see it:

Pro: Swim diapers don’t suck up unbelievable amounts of water after every dip,  end up weighing a gazillion pounds, and drip it out all over you when you pick up your kid.

Con: Because they are not absorbent, despite their name, they are not intended to be used actually as diapers. I learned this after I thought I was being smart, got my kid into his swim gear, popped him in the car seat, and headed to the lake. When I pulled him out of the seat a short time later, not only was he literally dripping wet, but his car seat was soaked. I still feel like my car smells.

Pro: They aren’t ridiculously expensive. That’s always a plus in my book.

Con: Not a fan of the S-M-L sizing, particularly since it seems to run a bit small. I’d imagine that a one-year-old would be a medium, but they seem tight.

Pro: The pull-up style of the swim diapers helps them stay on better when soaking wet. When regular diapers get really wet, the adhesive straps can unstick due to the weight of the diaper.

Con: The pull-up diaper is a nightmare when we’re talking No. 2. My kid has the uncanny knack of always taking a dump about 5 minutes after the swim diaper goes on. (What is with that, seriously?) So, after I get him all dressed, I have to undress, and then redress him. The on and off of clothes is trying to begin with at this stage because baby is too big to lie there but still too small be very sure on his feet. Tear away sides or not, I am usually trying to shimmy a full diaper down my squirming baby’s legs. It’s a mess. Literally and figuratively.

 

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Filed under babies, baby gear, diapers, swimming

My Inner White Trash Mom

I don’t know whether it’s the fact that it’s summertime or that I’ve taken refuge at my mother’s house for the season, but I’ve started to notice that my parenting standards are slipping.

Bedtime was the first routine to go. The first couple of missed bedtimes I justified by saying to myself that we hadn’t seen my parents in awhile and we were in a new place. Things would settle down and we’d be back on our old routine. Not so much. Twice in the last week we’ve been out to dinner at baby’s bedtime. (Thankfully sans meltdowns.) Not to mention that I’m so not a co-sleeper mom and yet three times in the past week, I’ve tried to have an all-night struggle with my baby. (I have regretted that decision every time as I found myself hanging off my queen-sized bed at 4am.)

Cleanliness also has been debatable since we’ve been home. Whereas at home baby gets a bath around 5pm every afternoon, at Mimi and Grandpère’s, baths are much more fluid. (No pun intended.) We’ve been so busy that it feels like I’ve been in almost a rush to get him into bed at the end of the day, bath or not. But the other day, I found an entire lock of hair encrusted in some sort of baby food. Seriously, how did I miss that?

Yes, that is a Dorito

But I’d say where I’ve been doing the worst in recent days is in baby’s nutrition.

I consider myself totally that mom who tries to buy organic for baby, who thinks about balancing fruits and veggie servings every day, who doesn’t get more adventurous with snacks than Goldfish or an occasional Wheat Thin–two of baby’s faves.

As a total aside, I’m a big fan of HappyTot foods; love the foil pouch, random mix of flavors–seriously, spinach, pear, and mangoes?–the thicker consistency (no need to add oatmeal or rice cereal), and the fact that it includes the so-called super grain salba, which has the awesome powers of omega-3. But these days, this type of wholesome food is only a tertiary part of his diet.

This past week’s menu has been pretty much an incarnation of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. While baby’s still sucked down tons of milk and chowed on at least some of his his normal breakfast, lunch, and dinner foods, his appetite has been decidedly more geared toward a number of treats:

Last Thursday, baby ate French fries.

Friday, he ate a lemon wedge, a carrot with ranch dip, and part of an onion ring.

Saturday, he ate watermelon, salami, and macaroons.

Sunday, he ate soft-serve, vanilla-chocolate twist ice cream with rainbow sprinkles.

Monday, he ate gingerbread cookies for breakfast and Doritos.

Tuesday, he ate barbecue-flavored pretzels, a grilled cheese, and part of an Arnold Palmer (half lemonade, half iced tea).

Wednesday, he ate animal crackers.

Taking stock of his intake definitely makes me feel a bit like a white trash mom. The collective nutritional value of these menu items is darn near zero. But then part of me thinks that it’s summer at grandma’s house, so why not have a little fun and indulge. We’ll make up for it with an extra gummy vitamin or two.

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Filed under babies, co-sleeping, daily life, feeding, food, health, hygiene, infants, parenting

Becoming a Fashion Forward (Or At Least Not So Behind) Momma

This post on a friend’s Facebook page about Diane von Furstenburg collaborating with Gap to produce some limited-edition GapKids must-haves for wee ones reminded me of a post I have been meaning to write for some time.

At one of my baby showers (one of the only blessings that come with divorced families), a nice friend gave me this book called Baby Steps: A Little Handbook for Happy Parenting. Rule No. 3 in the book was: Yes, the baby will dress better than you for awhile.

I remember laughing at reading that at first. But then something happened and I almost took it as a challenge.

I have never been really concerned with fashion. Sure, I want to look good. But for years, I have been a believer in basics. Accessorize black, white, gray, or tan with some fun earrings, funky jewelry, and/or cute shoes and you are all good. It makes perfectly logical sense except that what you don’t realize (especially when on a budget) is that, year to year, your clothes never change–and quite possibly neither do you. I started to realize this in college when, as a joke, my roommate outlined my wardrobe–a black long-sleeve turtleneck for winter, a black short-sleeve turtleneck for spring, and a black sleeveless turtleneck for summer.

Point taken. And while in my post-graduate years, I took this all into consideration, I’m not really sure I made many significant strides. I actually hated skinny jeans until I realized that they were way easier to tuck into riding-style boots, which is one trend I absolutely adored. (Still do.) But cargo skinnies? No way. Gladiator sandals? Definitely a little too bold. Flat t-straps were okay, but the big-heeled version seemed a little excessive. And fancy shorts? Not a chance. Who  (other than celebrities) can get away with wearing silk shorts out to a bar or club anyway?

I still cared about looking current, but I didn’t really care about being trendy. In fact, I was willing to forgo trends for my own style comfort. But then came baby.

Ever since my little bundle of boy arrived, I’ve been so more interested in what clothes I’m wearing than I ever was. (Ever.) I don’t need expensive, designer duds, but suddenly I do want things that at least look trendy even if they come from Target. I will admit that one of the first things I bought for fun once I lost my baby weight was a pair of gray skinny cargo pants. (A lesson in never say never.)

But I’ve bought also sorts of crazy stuff in the past year because it was hot, cool, trendy, or fun. (By definition that would mean it also would totally qualify as impractical as a new mom. I think I might be taking “Pregnant in Heels” to a new level.) Yes, I actually bought a gorgeous pair of grey suede, over-the-knee, chunk-heeled boots this past fall. I don’t doubt that I made a statement when I wore them to my first French mommy group.

Similarly my last two shoe purchases for summer were as follows (the one on the left is Nine West and the on the right is Franco Sarto):

These gladiators were made for strollin'...

Not the greatest picture, but also arguably not the greatest selection, if you are talking about heel height versus functionality when it comes to lugging car seats or diaper bags or chasing children around. But, at the time, I felt that I needed (and deserved) them, so I bought them. (I still feel justified.)

I mentioned this sudden new-found interest or commitment or whatever you can call it in fashion–or at least trends, because who am I kidding, I don’t dare spend my husband’s hard-earned deployment money on essentially a label–to a couple of other mommy friends recently and found I wasn’t alone. Many of them were feeling the same, like they needed to make an extra effort to look good anytime they went somewhere other than the grocery store or gym. Showering was no longer just enough; we needed to have the whole package together. It’s like a passive-aggressive refusal among new moms to fit the stereotypical image of a new mom.

I say this, but I certainly don’t mean that women like me are trying to forget or hide that we are moms. I mean, we’re all cool with being a mom and having a lifestyle as a mom. I think the question is, do we need to wear t-shirts, khaki shorts, and flip flops or sneakers (or worse, Crocs) everyday? Hells no!

The only unfortunate part to this new sense of fashion daring for mommies like me is that we don’t have all that many places to go. The options are seriously limited–grocery store, Target, gym, church, work, and anything else pretty much is extra effort that may or may not require a babysitter. So while I’m buying these cute wardrobe goodies, I’m not really putting them through their courses for a night out on the town or anything. (In this sense, I actually look forward to meetings at the office because it means that I can get semi dressed up.)

But I buy the clothes anyway, despite some of its impracticality–I also recently bought a black, silk tulip skirt, which totally qualifies–because it’s really the only way I feel connected to the normal world. I’m so busy chasing, cleaning, feeding, bathing, and putting to bed that I barely have time to turn on the TV or answer e-mails, much less keep up with the all the latest happenings from around the globe. (That totally sucks, especially for a journalist by trade, to be constantly behind the power curve when it comes to knowing what’s going on in the world.) So, wearing something that looks sort of trendy is almost like a last stretch to stay connected with everything around me.

Maybe it sounds completely shallow. And maybe it is. But I completely feel more human and more together as an urban momma when I’m pushing my stroller wearing gladiator wedge sandals.

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Filed under babies, baby clothes, daily life, fashion and style, infants, maternity fashions, mom style, mommy care

Match Dot Mom

Back in my swingin’ single days, I used to spend all week waiting for the weekend to kick off with Friday night happy hour. Although I think it really should be called happy hours since many weeks I found myself still lugging my work bag around town at 1am on a Friday night. As a mommy now, obviously things have changed. But I still look forward to Fridays, but mostly because that’s the day I meet with my French mommy group. It’s a far cry from the happy hours I used to have, but it still is one of my happiest hour and a halfs every week.

But finding the right mommy group is hardly easy, as many of my mommy friends can attest. In fact, when I think about it, it’s kind of like dating all over again.

The ideal is to find a group of educated women who have laid-back personalities and a sense of humor, varied but complementary interests,  keep to a similar schedule, live relatively close to you, and, of course, have (at least) a kid around the same age as yours. It’s a tall order by any standards. I’m not sure I had as many requirements when looking for my last boyfriend. (Thank god my husband found me first.)

But where do mommies go to meet other mommies? The options are somewhat finite:

But let’s get real… chances are you’re looking for a mommy group because you don’t work at the moment, don’t go to church (or at least aren’t active in the community), don’t get to the gym as often as you’d like to admit, don’t have time for volunteer activities, and don’t want to shell out anywhere near $70/month for a membership to a baby club. And if you had friends with babies who lived in your neighborhood, you’d already be hanging out with them.

I lucked out and found a mommy group on the Internet, through http://www.meetup.com. (I totally get why people Internet date now and would admittedly be going down that road if I was single, as it’s an efficient and economical way to meet people.) I had to give on some of the said requirements–I drive roughly 40 minutes (although it’s probably less than 10 miles from my house) to get there–but the French connection outweighed the distance.

I think I lucked out, too, in that I’m sort of an inaugural member of the group. I found out about the group and was able to show up for the first meeting, and that likely made all the difference. It’s so much easier to try something new when everyone is new at it. I definitely think it would be much harder to jump into a very established group.

With that said, I always look forward to seeing if there are any new people at our weekly meetings and even if it’s a bit awkward and forced, I feel like my group’s organizers really try to make everyone feel welcome. But I can tell almost immediately who is never going to come back. In our group’s case, it’s usually someone who realizes the second she walks into the room that her French language skills maybe aren’t as good as she remembered them being in college.

But even as one of the regulars, more or less, I still find myself trying way harder than usual to have these women like me. I literally get up a half hour early, so I can spend extra time on my hair and make-up. I also spend an abnormally long time (for me) deciding what I’m going to wear; I always feel like I want to look fresh and chic and not the strung out and underdone that I usually am. I even stress a little over what baby is going to wear.

That’s when I know this is so like dating. Only minus the drinks and the free dinner.

And perhaps that’s why I find mommy groups, at least the one I’m in, a little awkward. Basically we sit around and watch each others’ kids play and make small talk about breastfeeding, nap schedules, and our husbands’ jobs. We don’t even have coffee or donuts, which makes me think that maybe I should bring some next time. Then again, everyone is currently thin, so maybe that wouldn’t go over so well, if it became a regular thing.

Maybe this whole blind-date, first-date feeling lasts for so long when getting to know other mommies because everyone sort of knows that they either (a) would never have crossed paths or (b) never become friends, if there weren’t babies in the picture. That fact is just sort of the Barney in the room. No wonder so many of my mommy friends who have tried some mommy groups have never gone back to them; that’s kind of a hard thing to get over if the chemistry just isn’t right. And seriously, when you have an infant, who has time to make an effort to spend time with women they don’t necessarily like?

But for as awkward as it can be during some of our meetings, I’m so glad that I’ve stuck with the group. Of course, I love getting the chance to practice my French, but every week, I get to know the women, at least the regulars, a little better and I like them not just a little but a lot more every week.

I just hope they feel the same way about me. I don’t want to have to try to pick up another mommy group any time soon.

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Filed under babies, bilingual baby, child development, daily life, foreign language, infants, mom style, mommy care, moms, parenting, play time

When Your Kid Quits You Cold Turkey

Baby is going to turn one next week. It’s definitely cause for celebration, but part of me has been wishing it wouldn’t come so soon. I’ve been doing okay as a baby momma, but I don’t know about a toddler momma.

Aside from the bittersweet-ness of such milestones and my somewhat irrational fear of being unable to handle the challenges of a toddler, one of the things that I’ve been stressing about in hitting the 12-month mark is what to do about breastfeeding. Stop or keep going?

I never really pictured myself as a breastfeeding mommy. And I’d venture a guess that most of my family and friends are still shocked that I’ve lasted this long. I started out just wanting to make it to three months. Then three became six, six became nine, and all of a sudden I’m at the end of the year and still breastfeeding.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking more and more that I’m done. Not to mention that my husband is pretty much just weirded out by the idea of breastfeeding any longer; at 9 months, he thought baby looked too big and strangely out of place in my arms for a feeding. But more than that, I’ve been feeling like I want a little bit more of my life back. I’m tired of staying up an extra half hour at night (or worse, getting up a half hour early) to pump, traveling with a cooler, and always feeling self-conscious when nursing in public.

But I was also feeling a little sad and perhaps even guilty about stopping. Breastfeeding is not only such a healthy thing for the baby, but it’s such a special bond between baby and mommy. Nursing forces you to take the time to slow down and hold your baby close. And you can’t do that without always seeing your baby for the special little jewel that he (or she) is.

Turns out my anxiety over this was perhaps a little overblown because for as much as I was weighing my choices, I really didn’t have a choice in the matter. Last Friday baby up and decided he didn’t want to nurse and that was it. Dumped. Kicked to the curb. Dropped like a bad habit. For however many ways there are to say it, he was over me.

I’m not going to lie. My feelings were hurt.

I couldn’t believe that this was the end of breastfeeding road for baby and me. I tried for two days after that to get baby to nurse–unsuccessfully as it turned out. Baby was not going back on his decision no matter how tired, hungry, or upset he got in those two days. (I have to admit I admire his conviction.)

Maybe part of him knew that I was feeling ready, so he just decided to make things easy for me. I like thinking that, that we have been so in synch with each other that we were actually growing and changing together. But it’s also hard not to view it as a critical first step in his independence.

I keep thinking about something I read somewhere recently about how parental love is the only relationship where loving means growing apart rather than together. I wish I knew the exact quote because it’s so true. Being a parent means loving your kid enough to give them the skills and strength to go out and do their own thing. How simultaneously beautiful and heartbreaking is that irony?

And that’s why I can still manage to shed a couple of tears over the fact that I’m no longer a breastfeeding mommy, even though I was ready to quit in the first place.

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Filed under babies, bottle feeding, breastfeeding, daily life, emotions, feeding, first year, formula, infants, lactation, moms, nursing, parenting

The Ultimate Guide To Traveling with Baby

I have few mommy friends that travel as much as I do with baby, and even fewer that travel that much by themselves with baby. But when I get a chance to connect with the select few who do, I’m always interested to see how they manage on their own. I have found a system that works for me, but I’m never quite sure whether there are more efficiencies to be gained.

So, when my grad school friend decided to check out of the West Coast for a few weeks in favor of a whirlwind East Coast tour with her son, nearly a full-fledged toddler, I was excited to learn that she was planning a pit stop in D.C. Not only could I not wait to see her, catch up on all the news, and, of course, meet the not-so-wee-anymore one for the first time, but I was super curious to see how she managed when traveling long distances with baby.

My friend is a very efficient traveler by nature. But having a baby in tow is definitely challenging this aspect of her. I actually got a message from her a few days before her flight, telling me that she was trying to get all her and baby’s stuff into a suitcase small enough to carry on. It was a very admirable goal, one that I admittedly have toyed around with and failed at achieving, so I was prepared to be seriously impressed (and take notes) if she did indeed edit their accoutrement to fit into a carry-on suitcase.

Despite her greatest efforts, it didn’t happen. But maybe that was a blessing in disguise. Even if it cost her the $25 or so to check her suitcase, she had plenty enough else to deal with–baby, stroller, diaper bag/purse, and car seat.

When she told me she was going to bring her car seat, I really started paying attention. I have only bothered with bringing the car seat on my travels when baby was in his infant car seat. I could clip the seat into his Snap ‘n’ Go stoller and then leave it all at the end of the jet bridge before boarding the plane. No biggie. But now that baby is bigger, there are no simple clip-in solutions like the Snap ‘n’ Go.

To date, I’ve always found a way to work around lugging the bigger car seat. When we went to El Paso, we rented a car seat from the car rental company. Contrary to rumor, the car seat we ended up with was the exact same one as one of the car seats we own. And it was new–or nearly so. It was still wrapped in plastic and in mint condition when we got it out of the trunk. When we went to Chamonix, the shuttle service from the Geneva airport supplied infant car seats and then we traveled by foot, train, or bus after that, so no seat was necessary. And then when we went to South Carolina, Ian’s mom decided to just buy a cheapie car seat to have for such occasions. It was going to get additional use from some of the other grandbabies that would sometimes visit.

Needless to say, I do everything I can to avoid having to sherpa the car seat. And I still feel like I’m totally bogged down. So, I had to find out how my friend managed. Turns out it looks something like this:

Streamlined for sanity

The thing I want to most highlight is how she deals with the car seat on top of the stroller, roller bag, and shoulder bag. Basically she just uses a bungee cord to strap the car seat to the stroller frame. It’s pure genius.

I mean, I think I would’ve have found a bag/cover for the car seat and tried to slide a handle over the telescoping handle of my roller bag. Of course, with my luck, it would be flapping around, throwing the whole bag off balance and making me struggle. But the bungee method is so much more secure. She just nestled a front edge of the seat under the stroller so it had some bottom support, stretched the bungee cord around the stroller and seat, clipped it to the back of the stroller and–voila, voila, voila–momma is good to go.

Granted, even with this innovative thinking, traveling with an infant is still not easy. Most umbrella strollers, which are a travel must given their compactness, have two separate handles over a single bar. This makes steering the baby vehicle significantly more difficult with one hand, especially when you are running to your gate, as I most often am. The other hand is usually busy dragging the roller bag with diaper bag sitting on top.

But we’re all about efficiencies here, so I thought this was some seriously smart travel thinking and figured I should share with other mommies trying to sort out out how they are going to take everything they need on their next trip. Happy packing!

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Filed under babies, baby travel, daily life, infants, newborns, travel

The Joys of Being a Breastfeeding Mommy (and Other Misadventures)

A random text from a mommy friend inspired me to finally write this post that I’ve been meaning to write for awhile. Like me, she’s a working mom who’s trying to balance her work responsibilities while breastfeeding her infant daughter (and take care of a toddler!). Her note, typed from the airport, went something like this:

I have redefined “hot mess.” I’m in Newark (dirtiest airport in New England). My meeting ran over so I did not get to pump before I left the office. My boobs are like rocks. I paid $100 to upgrade to first class so I could skip to the front of the security line. There’s no “family” bathroom, so I stand in line in this filthy bathroom, go into the handicap stall and start pumping. The battery on the pump dies after about two sucks, so now I’m committed and in pain. I stand in the loo, change the batteries while holding pump to boobs (no luck) for 30 minutes then hand pumping with milk dripping on the floor and my clothes, sweating, because who puts A/C in a public bathroom. I’m not able to touch anything because it’s unsanitary to say the least–for 4 blessed ounces of white gold and the elimination of stripper boob. At least it only got on my pants and not my white shirt. Happy Tuesday!

Days like that are ones where you are amazed that you even made it through. Fortunately you can always curse your husband for not being able to help you and then text a mommy friend and finally begin to see the humor in it all.

For as much as traveling with an infant poses some challenges, traveling without your infant when you’re still breastfeeding brings up a whole other set of issues.

First of all, it screws up your efficiency. I’m an efficient traveler to begin with, but when I travel for work, I’m super streamlined. Checking a bag is never an option. In fact, I get annoyed when the airlines make me check my bag planeside. So, the fact that as a nursing mommy you have to bring along a cooler of some sort and your pump really kind of throws your equilibrium off. Business travelers and boob bags don’t really mix.

But somehow you figure out how to make it doable even if it’s not ideal. During my last business trip, for example, I ended up bringing a smaller cooler that was able to be tucked into a larger carry-on bag. The smaller cooler meant fewer bottles and fewer bottles meant that at some point during my trip I had to dump some of my precious white gold. It was tragic–a mommy friend likened it to throwing a piece of heirloom jewelry in the trash–but it was a price I was going to pay to not have to pay to check a bag or waste time waiting for my bag at baggage claim.

I also bagged bringing gym clothes–who was I kidding anyway? Any free time was going to be spent pumping–and found a way to get away with a single pair of heels in order to fit my pump and its accoutrement in my suitcase. Of course, for all my carefully packing, I forgot essential work equipment like my camera and batteries for my Flip cam, but that wasn’t the end of the world either.

The other thing I made sure I did was book at a nicer hotel so that I could be sure that I had a mini fridge in my room. Out went the mini bottles of Smirnoff and Johnny Walker and in went plastic bottles of white gold. And being at the nicer hotel also had an additional perk. Rather than spend  my time running back and forth from the convention center, I just booked nearly all of my meetings in the hotel’s restaurants and lounges, which meant I had an executive-worthy venue to have my meetings and could easily hop the elevator up to my room to squeeze in a pump between meetings.

The pump part that was out to get me

But for all this willing to make being a working and lactating mommy work, there are always these mishaps akin to what my friend experienced today. For me, the small plastic piece that connected the pump to the tubing somehow got chipped in my bag during my travels. That meant that my only hope of using the pump was if I stuffed my thumb  into the hole to create enough of a vacuum to get the thing to suck. And at that point only one tube was operational, so it was going to take twice as long to pump every time I had to pump. Again, not exactly an ideal situation, but workable.

I did that for a day or so before I got the brilliant idea that if I stuck a piece off gum in the hole, I could plug it up and get the pump to work and also free one hand to at least type an e-mail or change the channel. Let me just say bad idea. After that experiment failed, I was left with a pump that was totally useless. And there was no time to order replacement parts from the manufacturer. By the time I paid the gazillion dollars for expedited shipping, I’d be on my way home. Plus, what was I going to do in the meantime anyway?

At this point I remember there being a section in my breastfeeding bible, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, on hand expression. Of course I didn’t read it, but I do remember there being a line in the book somewhere about how every nursing mother should learn how to hand express. I remember thinking, “Why in the heck would I ever need to do that?” Apparently I’m either not very forward thinking or very imaginative (or both) because suddenly I found myself in Orlando on a business trip needing to teach myself how–or end my career as a breastfeeding mom.

So, after a little trial and error, I figured it out. It’s really not that hard, but

The back-up plan

the process definitely made me feel more like a cow than I felt before. That didn’t seem possible at the time, but it was so very true.

But like most of the other setbacks I’ve encountered as a newbie mommy, I survived after having learned a thing or two the hard way. My advice? Go out and buy a hand pump to take along with you. I bought an Evenflo SimplyGo manual pump so I’d never be stuck again.They aren’t expensive and are surprisingly efficient even if your hand can get tired.

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Nursing Mothers Unite!

Last Friday, baby and I ventured out of our neighborhood into the ‘burbs of Northern Virginia to go to an inaugural get-together with this group called Bonjour Les Amis. A friend had sent me the link to the group’s Meet Up site, which was a new group that was forming to promote French learning for children (infants to five-year-olds).

This whole random mommy-and-me group thing is a new concept for me, but baby and I went despite my ridiculous cold. The whole experience is totally worth a separate blog post, which I promise I’ll get to soon enough, but I’ll just say it was pretty cool. Totally awkward at first, but a pretty positive experience overall.

But the best part… While I was there I met this woman with whom I had a lot in common. She was an American but had lived in France for a good amount of time and spoke excellent French. She was married to a Czech man and they have a seven-month-old son. As we were nearing the end of the play date, she whips out her nursing wrap and begins to nurse. All of the mothers in the room basically tell her that there’s no need for modesty with them.

She then begins to tell us about a woman from Rockville, Md., who was nearly kicked out of a museum in downtown D.C. for breastfeeding in public. The news of the incident spread like wildfire through D.C. metro mommy networks, spurring some mommies in the area to organize a “nurse-in.” This one particular woman was planning to go to show her support.

Hell no, we won't go!

This was all news to me, so of course I went home and at the first free moment started Google-ing the event. The story is that roughly 100 mommies showed up at the museum last Saturday morning with their wee ones and, at the stroke of 10 o’clock, executed a synchronized unsnapping of the nursing bra and latch on. The whole point being to remind the public of all mommies’ federally protected right to feed their children in public.

Now, as a breastfeeding mommy, I’m personally not all that comfortable with basically whipping out the boob in public–nursing wrap or not. That’s of course not to say that I wouldn’t ever if my kid was in full meltdown and I had no other option. But I just personally feel awkward. I think it’s because I like my nursing time with baby to quiet, relaxed, low key–pretty much just about me and baby. And that’s not exactly the environment you get when you’re out at some place like Buffalo Wild Wings, watching the football game with a bunch of friends on a Sunday afternoon. Even if all your friends have their own babies in tow.

Honestly, I think if I had been the woman at the museum to whom the security guard said she had to move her nursing to another area like the restroom, I probably would have complied with the request even if there wasn’t a convenient nursing area. I can so see myself contorting in a bathroom stall just so I can get a little privacy while I give my baby enough food to get him to stop crying. Oh wait, I’ve done that before. Foxy’s bathroom last summer. As we were waiting for our bill, baby went into a code red meltdown and it was the only option other than listening to him scream bloody murder from Fishers Landing to Clayton.

But I do think it’s awesome that there are women out there who feel so strongly about their right to feed anywhere, anyhow that they will make enough of a stink about it to remind the public of their legal mommy rights. Not only good for them, but good for me. I appreciate their “lactivism.” I mean, breastfeeding is hard enough–I’m still amazed I’ve gotten to this point–that it’s nice to know that other mommies have got my back (or chest, as it would seem) if and when I ever need it.

Photo: Courtesy of The Washington Post Online

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