Sunday, January 31, 2010

Curse breastfeeding

I've been thinking a lot lately about stopping breastfeeding.  I've touched on my difficulties at times on this blog, but never in detail.

With initial help from several lactation consultants breastfeeding went very well.  I exclusively breastfed and managed to stockpile some milk for about the first month.  I was no longer stockpiling but still keeping up for the second month.  Right before her 2 month appointment I finally had to start supplementing.  My husband talked me into it, I was very opposed.  But she was crying a lot, and she was much happier when we gave her a bottle (and we were happier when we knew she'd had enough to eat.)  So we started supplementing.  It started at a bottle a day, then slightly increased to maybe 2 bottles a day.  I was okay with it over time; she seemed much happier, it gave me a bit of a break.  It turned out to not be the terrible thing that I had built up in my head.

But then we travelled, right when she turned 3 months old.  Feeding had been going fairly well, and with the traveling I became a bit lax.  It's so hard to breastfeed when your schedule's all out of whack, you're toting a baby and a carseat and a suitcase and a stroller and a diaperbag and and and.... I figured if my supply dipped a bit, I could pump to get it back up.  Then the rest of the week my schedule was still out of whack.  We took an overnight train to San Francisco, there were more bottles, and by the time we got to California my supply had tanked.  Never to return, apparently.

In retrospect, I hadn't realized how fragile my supply was. I was under the impression that it waxes and wains, but with concerted effort you can get it back up, at least to where it had been in the past. Turns out that's not true. I wish I'd appreciated it more. I've now taken fenugreek, had multiple all day pumping sessions, but I seem stuck at producing about 6 to 8 ounces a day. Not very much, really. And every time I pump at work, in my little storeroom without windows, I find it a reminder that I screwed up something that was going reasonably well. It is totally my own fault, and every time I pump I kick myself. I question how much good my measly 6-8 ounces is doing. And my supply seems to be dwindling even from that, even with a continuing ingestion of 5,400 mg of fenugreek a day (fenugreek burps are the worst!) No wonder, considering I'm only breastfeeding and pumping ~5 times a day. It's hard to motivate more than that when I get such a measly amount. And it's hard to find the time.

So I've started to question whether it's worth it. Should I wean. She'll be starting solids soon, so her formula intake will go down. So I started to try to find studies that analyze whether the benefits of breastmilk are exponential or linear. I.e. does the benefit gained from breastmilk scale linearly with the amount ingested, so 6 ounces yields only a little bit more benefit than 4 ounces? Or does 6 ounces yeild a lot more benefit than 4 ounces?

And the amazing thing I have discovered is that studies really don't show that breastmilk is the magical elixir I had thought it is.  I'm not bashing breastfeeding here, I think it's beautiful and important.  I definitely think it helps with illness.  I just don't think it's as all-important as everyone makes it out to be.  Particularly if you get to the point of having to pump.  Yes, it's natural, we're meant to breastfeed.  But we're also meant to reproduce at 15, and you don't hear anyone suggesting that's a good idea.  All in all, doing some research has made me feel better about all of this.  The evidence is not as clear cut as it was for, say, smoking. 

I'm not going to post links to actual studies because most people don't have access to them.  But here are a couple of articles that touch on this.  I blatantly admit I am just trying to make myself feel better, but it turns out to be a lot easier to do than I expected.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Like an overworked mama, I will make up for my lack of presence with presents

Edit:  I will do the drawing tomorrow.  Last chance!

I hope to never get to a point where I am so overworked that I feel compelled to buy my child things to assuage my guilt.  I firmly believe the best thing I can offer is my time and my love.

The same theory applies to my blog.  However, I don't have to worry about scarring you for life by not blogging enough (at east I hope I don't have to worry about this... that might just be more pressure than I can handle.)

And, in addition, this is a belated attempt at delurking.  National delurking week is in early January (who gets to declare national events, anyway?  Could I declare this "National Buy Your Geology TA an Almond Latte Week" and people would oblige?  Or is there a course I have to take first to earn that right?  Or is it like having a baby, anyone can do it but not everyone should do it?  The point being, this is officially "National Buy Your Geology TA an Almond Latte Week".)

And, in addition (and perhaps most importantly) I'd like to get the word out about my friend's Etsy shop.  My in-real-life friend (I actually have those, though I have to give them presents, too, to be my friend.  Maybe I should have asked her first before calling her my friend.)

So, TADAAA! It's my first blog giveaway! I promise not to become a giveaway-whore (I guess that would actually make me a giveaway pimp) by bomarding you with free products. (hint to companies... I would love to bombard my readers with free products).
The giveaway is this fabulously funky necklace.  And let's be honest, folks, I'm not dooce.   Which means you have an honest-to-god shot at winning this.  Better odds than you have of getting your students to buy you an almond latte.

To enter you must do the following:
1)  Go to ChickaDeesigns and post here with your favorite item in her shop.

If you want extra entries you can do the following:
2) Add my blog to your public favorites and post here to tell me you did (lurkers begone!)
3) Add ChickaDeesigns to your Etsy Favorites and post here to tell me you did.
4) Become a fan of ChickaDeesigns on Facebook and post here to tell me you did.
5) Vote for my blog! (upper right corner... see it?  Click it!)  Then tell me you did.  I know this is attention whoring, but product pimps like whores.  That's me.
6) And one more... if you write about this on your blog that's an entry too.  Just post a link to it here.

Winner will be chosen by  Probably next Tuesday.  But maybe sooner.  Or maybe later.  Probably later.

(Edited to add:  Oh yah!  Tell me how I can get in touch with you, in at least one of your posts.  Either via your blog, or phone, or house flyover.  Whatever method you prefer.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

On avoiding BPA

In an effort to avoid BPA, I have started to cook beans myself, then freeze them in 1 cup portions.  My husband thinks I'm insane.  His argument being that we really don't eat that many beans.  My argument is... I'm not sure.  It just sounds like a good idea.  And cheap.  I'm all about the cheap.

On Sunday I put a pot of black beans on the stove, set the timer, then laid on the couch with my sick baybee.  She was so cuddly it was irrestible.  I'm not saying I like it when she's sick, but there are definite perks.  She has been unwilling to nap on me since... I don't know, 6 weeks old or so (some advice to the pregnant ladies, enjoy it while it lasts... they won't nap on you forever, and if they're as precocious as MJ will stop sleeping on your chest faster than you can say "Conan O'Brien".)  Anyway, I fell asleep, soaking in the sleeping-baby-bliss.

And the timer didn't go off.  The beans burnt.  Crusted to the bottom of my brand new Le Creuset dutch oven, which explicitly says "Do not dry cook in this or the gods of french cooking will smite your every attempt to make Beef Bourguignon."  They paid me back by filling my house with the worst smell I have ever conjured in a cooking attempt.  So while I may be avoiding a small amount of BPA each day, I suspect that the vapors me and MJ inhaled while we slept will cause not only cancer but sleep terrors and bunyons.  Maybe BPA's not such a bad option.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fastfood with a side of life

For the first time, I think I understand why we Americans eat so much fast food. When I pick up MJ at daycare at 5:30, knowing she goes to bed at 7:30, that leaves me only 2 hours to get all my baby kisses in. I have started to get up earlier (6!) just to squeeze in a little more happy-baby time, but it is simply not enough. The end result is, if DH is on an evening shift, I'm not about to spend any of those precious 2 hours cooking, and my stomach simply will not allow me to wait until 7:30 to start cooking. Neither will my sanity.

The real end result is that I call in a pizza order.
"We have a special going right now. Buy two mediums and get one free!"
(Without a moment's hesitation) "Yes, that sounds great!"

Because I need 3 pizzas. For me. And my dog. And my non-solid-eating baby. 3 pizzas is a brilliant idea.

Being back at work has been... hard. There's no more eloquent way to phrase it. The upside has been that I have become incredibly efficient... I'm not about to spend time at work, when I could be home with my baby, unless I'm actually working. That means the blog has suffered, and will continue to suffer, but it has become a full-fledged hobby now and I have no intention of giving it up. Though I have a hard time finding the energy to be funny. I have always wanted this to be a funny blog, humor is generally my coping mechanism. But trying to find that spark of humor has been hard. It's easy to find the happy... my morning, rushed as it is, is always wonderful. MJ can be counted on to be happy, happy, happy when she first wakes up. That's evidence of evolution if I've ever heard it. Very few people enjoy waking up at the ass-crack of dawn, but when your baby is all smiles you don't mind. If they were grumpy the human species might have died out a long time ago, as babies everywhere wilted from malnourishment.

The happy is my husband, who can always put a smile on my and MJ’s face, and always wants to, even after a rough shift. The happy is also my evenings, after MJ is asleep, the diaper bag is packed, the dishes are done, and I can relax. I can feel like my old self again. The happy is even my job, where I get to use my brain again, which I have spent a long time cultivating, but most of which I had tucked away because it wasn’t being used.

Now I just have to manage to find the funny again.

MJ is ready

How could they lose with a fanbase like this?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I used to daydream about boys.  A lot.  About the latest date, about something he said, or did, that just made my heart go pitter-patter.  Before that, I daydreamt about... I don't know, toys?  Or cupcakes?  It's been a while since my pre-boy-filled-daydream times began.  

But now, now I find myself sitting here, daydreaming about my baby.  About the smile that lights up her face when she first sees me in the morning, even when she's starving. About the way she clings to me when she's upset.  About her coos (some might call them shrieks) as she tries out all her new found sounds.  She is the new love of my life.  Boys just can't compete.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

First day back

Today was my first day back.  And since I don't talk about work on here, I'll spare all the details of what my world is focused on right now.  But I will go into a few things.

1.  I cannot figure out where to pump.  Talked to the building manager about finding an empty room, but there's so much construction she's concerned about toxic dust and what not.  Probably a legitimate concern.  I already find how much I hate pumping.  I already knew that, but it's more profound now.  It really takes a chunk out of my day.  And since my supply has already been going down, that means I take a chunk out of my day to pump, but only manage to supply with her about half of what she's taking in (and that might be overly optimistic).  So the question is, is it worth it?  I could theoretically leave work a little earlier if I didn't take time off to pump.  What's more important, the little bit of time she would get with me, or the little bit of breast milk?  I hate having to make decisions like this.

2.  The hard part about leaving her at daycare is seeing how small she is.  That's the part that's striking.  You see her sitting there, as you're leaving, and all you can think is how small she is.  Much too small to be leaving.  Much to tiny to be handing over to someone else.  If I had a large child would I still feel this way?  Probably.

3.  She had her 4 month checkup last Thursday.  She's a tiny bit on the small side, but doing great all in all.  However, she's 30th percentile for height and weight, and 75th percentile for head circumference.  Mah baybee's a bobblehead!

4.  She rolled over yesterday!  She had rolled over a couple times before, but it was always an accident and she couldn't repeat it.  Or she was on a slope (or I happened to help her.)  So the ped recommended to up her tummy time.  7 or 8 times a day.  And after only a couple days, she did it!  I was putting some things away while she played on the floor when I heard a "thump".  It's a lucky thing they have hard heads, even with padding our hardwood floors aren't soft.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


I'm not sure what the etiquette is on posting pictures of other people's children  Actually, the etiquette is probably "don't do it."  But it's such a great moment, maybe the mama will forgive me?  Especially if I don't identify...  and FYI, the tiger is behind glass.

Friday, January 15, 2010

It's liquor or this.

I'm not sure if there's anything more frustrating than being exhausted all day, because you were up way too late and your baby was up way too early, and swearing to go to bed early, and actually succeeding, and then being unable to fall asleep. Actually, I'm sure there are more frustrating things, and I'm sure they will happen tomorrow, but for the time being let's go with it. I'm considering downing some tequila just so I can pass out, but I'm pretty sure that qualifies me as either an alcoholic or someone with a sleep disorder. Either way, that means I would need to see a therapist, and I just don't have time for that.

So I think I've made peace with this whole going back to work thing. At least for the time being. I'll take it one semester at a time, which sounds totally do-able. The thing that helps is the realization that I've gone a little stir crazy this week. DH has been working non-stop. Most people I know are back at work/school post holidays. And so it is MJ and I, which is glorious. But after 4 days of baby-solitude I am longing for more. It's not that I want to give up all the MJ time, but I guess tradeoffs must be made. And I've further realized how much harder it's getting to take her to all of our social events, and this will only get worse. I suspect I will see less and less of my friends over the coming year, as she gets to be more and more of a handful. Yes, she is getting more fun, but the vegetable phase is, in many ways, easier. Or at least lends itself to more outings.

So, now that I’ve spent tomorrow’s full calorie allotment on chocolate chip cookies tonight, stared at the Christmas tree lights contentedly (my husband threatened me when I mentioned taking it down; he’s campaigning for a year round Christmas tree, but we compromised on a January tree,) and settled down a bit, I will return to the marital bed. Hopefully a blog post is as effective at inducing sleep as tequila.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I thought the bumbo would last longer

Good lord, she looks like she has a unibrow here. I swear she doesn't.

But anyway. Here's some product recs. I have loved the (craigslist) bumbo, but I really thought it would last longer. Now that she is pushing herself backwards out of it, head touching the floor, I realize that it will not. So we had to buy her a high chair, even though she is months away from real food.

But I do recommend the Manhatton Toy Skwish.  You can stick her hand in it in such a way that she can't drop it.  She never tires of it, and it's chew friendly (i.e. no chemicals, plastics, etc.)  If I could have only one baby toy, this would be it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

No longer a newborn

My baybee turns 4 months old today. I feel like every day is better than the day before; every day she is more fun. But still, it makes me sad. She's already not much of a cuddler, and it makes me wonder if her cuddliest days are behind her. We're working on her falling asleep on her own, and she's doing great. But I want to hold her in my arms! I want to see her little contented smile. I remember those first few weeks, everyone that saw her told me how fast time goes. And they were all correct.

When she wakes up from a nap, all smiles and love, the world stops. It is her and me. She has no thoughts of broken hearts, or wars in other countries, or money or drama with her girlfriends. This will all come in time. Right now, she is only smiles. Joy. Amazement. The world is all new, and it’s all good. Thank you, little girl, for showing me what that looks like. Thank you for being part of my life.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Breaking my heart.

I need to be working on some paper revisions.  I said I'd have them done this week, and I've barely begun. 
But all I can think about is my return to work, one week from today, and it's breaking my heart.  I never talk about my job/school on here, because I generally feel it's best to keep that separate from my online self.  That's how one gets in trouble (dooced, if you will.)  But right now I can't help it.

I'm a graduate student.  But, in the sciences, that generally means you get paid to go to school.  Generally through a research assistantship, or teaching assistantship.  So you actually pay nothing for tuition, and you get paid to either teach or do research part time.  The rest of the time you're expected to be working on your PhD.  Furthermore, at my point, I don't actually take classes, I just go to the lab and do work.  So, although I'm a student, it really feels like more of a job.

The plan all along has been for me to take a semester off then return in January.  I thought 4.5 months off would be more than sufficient.  I thought by that time I'd be itching to be around adults again.  That I'd be bored at home all day.  The problem is that I love it.  I love spending all day with my baby.  I love waking up and playing with her, doing a little housework during her afternoon nap.  I love being able to be around when DH has time off and going on family outings. 

The thought of leaving her next week is breaking my heart.  The thought of missing part of her childhood makes me cry. 

And what makes it even worse is that I don't have to return.  I could choose to stay home.  We can afford it.  And I'm not sure I want to become a professor, so I'm not even sure whey I'm getting my PhD.  The thought of getting it for self gratification no longer seems sufficient given what I'll miss.

But the thought of quitting is terrifying.  Of becoming completely reliant on my husband.  Of leaving the workplace.  Of no longer being marketable.  And I know I wouldn't want to stay home forever, so how do you re-enter the workplace?  Once you leave a PhD program you're pretty much done; you just can't stay up on the science.  So what would my future look like?  What would my identity be?  All of my friends, our friends, are in my discipline.  I'm sure we'd still stay friends with several of them, but to lose that community would be hard.

This is what's on my mind.

Ice Fishing

DH had last week off (and I was thus too busy to post.)  He was supposed to attend a conference but (it's a long story) we ended up taking a staycation.  It was wonderful; most of our friends are between semesters so there was much festivitating.  And, it turns out, baby likes the cold: she's truly a Minnesotan.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

It's -2 outside.

Which is up from -13 when MJ and I ventured out to buy some fenugreek.  But at least it's sunny.

I thought I could avoid the year in review post

But its pull is too strong.  It's too tempting to look back at how my life is different than it was last year.  Furthermore, it's like a keepsake ornament.  Something to look at in future years and reflect on.

I found out I was pregnant last December 30th, right before leaving for my friends birthday party.  I took the test very offhanded, assuming I wasn't, and that the result would be my greenlight to consume alcohol.  I was so shocked by the result that I didn't believe it.  I figured it was wrong.  I was so convinced it was wrong that I almost ordered a fancy-schmancy cocktail, but decided against it.  When I got home and told dh, I took two more tests.  Both were positive.  I no longer thought it was fake.  So, needless to say, it was an alcohol free New Years, whilst trying to hide my status.  Which was a total waste of effort because my friends figured it out.  But anyway.

This has been the year of the baby.  I was so clueless about having a child.  About what I could eat during pregnancy.  What I needed to buy for a baby.  How labor should go.  How to parent a newborn.  I was obsessed.  I read, read, read.  Books.  Message boards.  Bathroom stalls.  Anything that might clue me in.  As a result my research suffered, because the only thing I was truly concerned with was ths wee one on the way.

To think that's how my year began, and how it ended was a totally happy, healthy child, and true parenting confidence.  Sure, we have our bad days.  But all in all I feel great about how she is doing, and thus I feel great about how we are doing.  And I finally can let my brain rest from all the parenting books (they're still being read, just not 24/7) and focus on research.  So when I return to school I will finally be able to focus.  Furthermore, knowing she's in daycare means no more wasting time for me.  Procrastinating when you could be spending time with your baby just won't cut it.  There's no excuse.

So I hope next year at this time we are looking back with satisfaction on our ability to lead fulfilling careers and have a happy, healthy child.  I know it will be stressful to try to do both, but happy parents makes happy children (at least, in part).