My love/hate relationship with pumping

I always prefer to have the bad news first, so here is why I hate pumping:

For the first month we needed to feed Bash via bottle most of the time (due to his weight, tongue tie, and nipple size). If everything had gone as planned all I would need to do is pick him up, position us both, and let him have at it. Pumping and bottle feeding on the other hand requires the following steps:

  1. Attach myself to a machine and wait about 15-20 minutes as milk is expressed.
  2. Store the milk.
  3. Pour a certain amount of milk into a bottle.
  4. Warm the bottle and test the temperature.
  5. Feed the baby…If he finishes it and wants more, I have to repeat steps 3-5. (If there are leftovers and he doesn’t want them within a certain amount of time, I have to dump the milk.)
  6. Clean the bottles (I hate doing dishes by the way.)

Often I would be holding Bash in my left arm as I scrambled to set up a bottle with my right hand because it takes me longer to get milk to his mouth and I don’t want our neighbors to complain about his pterodactyl cry. I also got a pumping bra that allows me to pump without needing to hold the collection bottles in place. I admit it was almost amusing at how I would sometimes have to pump and bottle feed at the same time.

Tommy also got me a battery pack for my breast pump. I rarely use it, but I wanted the option of being able to get up if necessary as oppose to being plugged into the wall. Well, it came in handy when I suddenly had to use the bathroom during my pumping session. It may sound gross to some people, but 1. the bottles are sealed and 2. even if you aren’t pumping, at some point you will use the bathroom while holding your baby. Trust me.

On a more positive note, I love pumping for the following reasons:

  • It allowed me to feed Bash breastmilk.
  • It’s kind of cool to see how much milk your body can produce, and how it varies based on the time of day, which boob you are pumping, how you are feeling, etc.
  • It provides relief when you’re breasts are engorged.

He’s sleeping in the pack ‘n play!

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The day we brought Bash home
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Bash at 9.5 Weeks

After Bash’s 2 month checkup, I decided that I was going to try to transition him back into the pack ‘n play to sleep, rather than attempt bed-sharing full time. I will take a nap with him maybe once every other day in bed, but I don’t feel comfortable doing so at night when it’s dark and I’m overly tired (I’m always tired, but at night I’m a bit more tired than I am during the day). People should sleep when it’s dark out. It’s very depressing to be awake in the middle of the night in my opinion. I think that’s part of the reason why I ended up getting an epidural.

At first I thought he would need lots of cuddles (and so would I!) after his first round of shots. But actually, he took his vaccines like a trooper. He did cry when he got poked, and I don’t blame him. I didn’t look at the needles, but Tommy said he thought the needle was so long that it would go all the way through Bash’s leg. Of course that’s an exaggeration, but as a parent, things get distorted when it comes to your child. Bash was easily soothed after and seemed extra tired when we took him home, probably because of the extra commotion at the doctor. I took this opportunity to put him in the pack ‘n play to sleep. He was so exhausted that he didn’t seem to mind!

I basically cut out the bassinet in our bed, and at night I only get up when Bash first starts to cry. Before, I would jump up at every fidget and snort. Unfortunately I still hear every fidget and snort, but I don’t get up until I know Bash is awake and needs something. I’m slowly getting more and more sleep at night. I never thought I would be so excited about getting a four hour chunk of sleep, but babies will do that to you I guess.

 

Ghetto Wooden Baby Gym DIY

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There is nothing more awesome than seeing your baby (which you created) playing happily under a ghetto baby gym you also created.

First off, I did not invent this concept. There’s a billion variations of these ghetto baby gyms on the Internet, which is a wonderful thing. I followed the directions on this blog post Mary linked to me.

Total cost under $5 from Home Depot. Here are some abridged directions on how to make one:

  1. Have a drill and a saw. I guess you don’t even need the saw technically.
  2. Go to Home Depot or Lowe’s or something.
  3. Buy one 1 x 2 x 8 piece of wood. I think this was under $1. Saw it into quarters (2 ft length each). You can do this either with a saw they have in the store, or you can ask the person operating the wood cutting machine. They will do it for free, since it’s just 3 cuts.
  4. Buy one 3/4 x 3/4 x 48 inch dowel.
  5. Just have some twine around the house. Or string or something.
  6. Drill a 3/4 inch diameter hole at the top of every piece of wood.
  7. Drill a 1/8 inch diameter hole around the middle of every piece of wood.
  8. Assemble as shown in the picture.
  9. Friction holds the dowel in place, though you can hold it in place with an additional piece of dowel if you prefer. See the above blog post.

Total cost to make this was under $5, since it’s just some wood from Home Depot. This assumes, of course, that you already have a saw and a drill.

Five ways the baby makes you buff

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The after pic

Dad-bod has a bad rep, but personally, my rippedness has dramatically increased since Mary gave birth to Sebastian.

For a computer programmer who spends 8 hours a day (actually more) in front of a computer, I’m basically Hercules now. I attribute this to the following activities I now must undertake:

  1. Core strengthening – Holding the baby. He’s basically a squirming weight that slowly gets heavier.
  2. Cross training – Lifting the baby from any permutation of your position and his position. The more awkward the lift, the greater the pump.
  3. Pushing and pulling – Rearranging the bedroom furniture 3+ times because your wife can’t make up her mind.
  4. Arm training – Cloth diaper laundry using the bucket and plunger method. (Neighbors wouldn’t want our baby’s poop in the shared washer I’m sure.)
  5. Wearable weights – We have a baby carrier front-backpack thing. Major back strengthener.

Our baby is now a little boy :(

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Bash with Auntie Liz

I don’t know how Bash became a little boy so fast. Although he is only 10 weeks old, he is starting to bust out of some of his 0-3 mos sized clothing. I admit that the cloth diapers add more bulk so that is a part of the problem. However, he just doesn’t look like a baby to me unless I see someone else holding him. His face has gotten round and his fingers have even gotten fatter. His arms are starting to look like sausage links. My uncle said he likes it when a baby’s arms look like longganissa, this awesome sweet-tasting Filipino sausage. I really want to eat some now, too bad it’s raining out and I have a baby, otherwise I’d go out and get some. Anyway, when I was a baby it looked like I had three longganissa links on each arm.

Filipino longganisa! Yum!

I can’t even remember what Bash looked like when he was a week old. Sure I have pictures, but it’s just not the same. Bash has such a personality and I love his facial expressions and the sounds he makes! He smiles, cooes, gets impatient, gives his Aunt the “Concernicus” face – a concerned look basically. She calls it “Concernicus” like the scientist Copernicus. I’d call it weird except that Tommy and I met in the Physics and Astronomy department at  UCLA, so really it does make sense.

Cloth diapering in practice

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The cloth diapering has actually gone pretty well! I used to think I would want to wear gloves to change Bash’s poopy diapers. Maybe out of habit since I used to work at a childcare center. But I don’t mind at all. Once you push a bowling ball out of your butt with a bunch of other random bodily fluids in front of a room full of people, not much will bother you.

Anyway, so far the only downside of cloth diapering has been the cleanup, since we have to wash the diapers everyday. However, this only takes about 30 minutes from start to finish, including hanging the diapers up to dry and putting away the diapers from the day before. That being said, if I’m alone and Bash wakes up hungry as I’m washing, I have to stop what I’m doing. A few times it has taken me 3 hours to finish the laundry and hang it up. I’m not actively washing for three hours, but the delay in finishing the diapers means they have less exposure to sunlight. I have a large diaper stash, but it isn’t infinite. Also, on rainy days we keep the drying rack inside so our apartment looks extra messy.

Some pleasant surprises with the cloth diapers have been:

  • They actually get clean when we follow the bucket method from Fluff Love University! I was shocked. Granted, we pre-rinse the poop off of the diapers before tossing them in the bucket, but still. Maybe when Bash starts to eat solid food his poopy diapers will be harder to clean, but for now, the breast milk poops are very manageable.
  • Sunning the clean, wet diapers really does make the poop stains disappear. I read that the sun does this, but seeing it in action was cool.
  • Although the diapers will sometimes leak urine, they have NEVER leaked poo (yet anyway)! And Bash has some pretty large ones. His Grandfather called it an “atomic bomb” when he heard Bash poo and saw it’s size. I know babies get blowouts all of the time in disposable diapers, so hopefully the cloth continues to contain them.
  • Hand washing = Exercise! I wash the diapers with a bucket and plunger. Between diaper laundry and picking up a baby, my arms have gotten way less flabby!
  • Tommy has gotten into it as well. He has his preferences when it comes to which diaper inserts to use and when. The other day he was trying to determine the best way to hang the diapers to minimize drying time. It was amusing!

Our sleeping situation

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So we bought a pack ‘n play and put it right next to the bed for Bash to sleep in. Well the stinker won’t sleep very long in it. And I can’t comfortably reach my arm in to soothe him. Since it’s now winter, we moved Bash into a small bassinet and put him in our bed. We moved the bed against the wall and put the bassinet between me and the wall. Tommy’s family brought us a twin mattress, and Tommy amuses himself by sleeping on that mattress, which is directly on the floor. I had a cute little baby play area all set up there too. But honestly, if I can’t sleep, I’m not going to play with Bash anywhere. Tommy used to sleep in the living room with the baby. I felt like I rarely saw him and I dreaded the time when he would come in and tell me that my shift was starting. So for the past two weeks we have tried all sleeping in the bedroom.

Bash seems to sleep better when his bassinet is in our bed. He is probably warmer and I know he enjoys being closer to people. I also sleep better because I don’t have to sit up to check on him. The problem now is that he is about to outgrow the bassinet. I’m not sure how that happened since Tommy and I aren’t that tall, but maybe all of the other children will surpass him in height when puberty hits.

I don’t know if it will be better to try the pack ‘n play again when he gets a pinch taller, or to try bed sharing. If Tommy continues to want to use the twin mattress, then I think I can safely co-sleep with Bash on the bed, though I’m not sure if I will. I’m really nervous about SIDS. I do bed share with Bash sometimes in the afternoon for a nap. I notice both he and I fall asleep and wake up in the exact same positions. I also remove the comforter from the bed and wear enough clothes so that only a thin blanket is needed.

The quickest way to get put in the dog house…

So, I’m sure you all know that if a guy asks his girlfriend if she is PMSing/on her period when she is feeling upset, he might as well dig himself a hole and pull the dirt in on top. I expect that a few men forget this rule from time to time and get in trouble with their significant others. However, my boneheaded husband decided to take it one step further.

I overheard him say to his parents that the baby seems to get 100% full when bottle fed breastmilk and only 80% full when I breastfeed. I struggled for the first month to breastfeed Bash, and I now feed on demand instead of going by the clock (though that would make my life easier). That being said, I am positive he is getting enough to eat.

With the bottle, Bash acts like he’s at a buffet. He overeats, gets uncomfy, and goes into a food coma. With breastfeeding, Bash eats however much he wants and when he wants. Sometimes he wants a full meal and other times he just wants a snack. Frankly, I do this all the time.

Sometimes I find myself with my head in the fridge when I meant to do something else. I eat a bite of something because I want the taste in my mouth then I walk away. Or a sit down at a random time of day to eat a very large meal. Additionally, Bash pees and poops nonstop so he is getting plenty of milk.

Anyway well this incident pissed me off of course. When I was cranky later Tommy asked, “Mary, do you think you have postpartum depression?” WTF!!! I don’t know if he was trying to be funny or what. Some moms get postpartum depression and it’s a serious matter.

I definitely got the baby blues, but I was luck enough to not have postpartum depression. Tommy was there with me half of the times I was given that postpartum depression questionnaire and he heard the doctor say I was fine. Did he pay attention? Probably not. That’s his fault not mine.

Bottom line:

  • Don’t criticize your wife’s breastfeeding, especially when she has struggled with it for over a month. It’s like hearing your wife say you don’t make enough money, drive a janky car, or have a tiny penis.
  • Don’t ask your wife if she has postpartum depression every time she gets angry. I’m sure she got angry at you before the baby arrived for legitimate reasons, and she has every right to feel angry after pushing a bowling ball out of her ass, when all you did was sleep through her labor.

The baby challenges our marriage

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The baby has definitely challenged our marriage. Now of course the baby has brought us profound joy. Of course it is a life-enriching and perspective-altering experience. Of course we love him and would never give him back. Nor do we regret having a child. But all of that notwithstanding, it has challenged our marriage in a number of ways.

  1. Less time. Now you can talk to me the power of love to expand your energy and so forth, but there’s only 24 hours in a day. Between changing diapers, breastfeeding, bottle pumping, laundry, loading in and out of car seats, pediatrician appointments, etc. – there is just straight-up less time for Mary and I to work on our relationship.
  2. Less energy. If I have a hard day at work now, and I come home, and I see Mary with her hair all messed up and actively cleaning poop as I walk in, I’m not going to start talking to her about my day. We each need the other’s support, but in that case, both parties are too drained to provide it.
  3. Decreased spontaneity. You know, both Mary and I are pretty much homebodies, but we still had our moments of spontaneously going out to eat, see a movie, grab coffee, hike on the weekends, etc. Nowadays, this might be the new normal:
    1. Let’s go out for dinner! It’s been a while!
    2. Should we wait until your sister is available for babysitting?
    3. If not, we need to pack some breastmilk in an insulated lunchbox for the road.
    4. Does he have a wet diaper, has he been changed recently?
    5. We have enough diapers in the car right?
    6. Oh maybe you should pump first before we go out.
    7. Alright, I’ll shower in the meantime, I forgot to shower this morning.
    8. Now it’s 10 PM and I’m tired, let’s try again tomorrow.
  4. Competition for intimacy. I’ll just say there was one day we went to bed, and Mary kissed Sebastian good night. I waited for mine, but it never came. Mary just went to bed. Hmmph.
  5. More junk in the apartment. This might just be specific to Mary, but when the apartment is cluttered, Mary gets into a foul mood. With all the extra baby junk, the apartment is a lot more cluttered than it used to be.

I realize I’m supposed to end these blog posts on a positive note, but I’m just in a complaining mood today.

Extended family visiting

Since Bash was born in mid-November, both my family and Tommy’s family have been around a lot. My family lives nearby so I see them maybe twice a week now. It’s been both a blessing and a huge challenge having extra people around.

Pros:

  • More help! With other people to watch the baby Tommy and I are able to take naps, do chores, or have time to ourselves.
  • Bash gets to meet and bond with his extended family. I grew up with aunts, uncles, cousins, and my Granny right next door. I always had family I could spend time with, and I loved it. Each person offered something different and provided me with new experiences. Because my next door cousins were boys, I was able to play video games which my dad did not get for my sister and I. My Granny taught me how to crochet and I would spend much of my summer watching I Love Lucy with her and eating ice cream cones.

Cons:

  • Less time to bond with my son. With so many visitors, I spent less time with Bash. I felt obligated to let others hold him as long as he seemed agreeable. I had to pump more and breastfeed less so that others could feed him. My only alone time with him was during the middle of the night, when I was extra tired and at my worst. In the daytime, although others were watching him, I found it difficult to nap. I want to be awake during the day like everyone else and interact with other adults.
  • Unwanted advice. More people = more unwanted advice. It’s a part of having family over, but it’s still very annoying.
  • I feel like a prisoner in my own home. I don’t feel comfortable walking around topless or eating what I want when others are over. There is a lot more compromise involved, and frankly as a new sleep-deprived mom, these things really got to me.

Now that the holidays are over I feel more like myself and actually a bit happier. Although I like to be around people, too much socializing wears me out. I am able to take my afternoon nap with Bash again. I really missed that!