20 Months Old

DSC_9340-002_WEB Dear sweet babies,

Wow, another fun month! You continue to explore and learn and generally be interested in the world.

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These are the words you know, as of this month: Mama, Dada, no, yeah, uh oh, bye-bye, hi, all done/all gone, yay, ball, basketball, bubble, light, more, outside, fish, car, eyes, nose, trash, bike, baby ( https://flic.kr/p/oaGPq1 ), apple, elbow, bunny (which really sounds like bubbee), up, Elmo, shh, wow, whee, let’s go

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You can do animal sounds on cue too: caw caw, baaaa, roarr (for lion and for dinosaur), woof woof (really more like hoo hoo), ooh-ooh (for monkey)

Now that you say mama and dada, you like to ask about one of us (apparently especially with the nanny). You point upstairs and say, “mama?” Then someone might say, “She’s sleeping” and you go, “Shhh,” with your finger up to your lips (kind of inside your mouth). You’ll do the same if one of you wakes up before brother, and we say, “Brother is still in bed,” you go, “Shhh.”

Emmett, you have become the littlest litter patrol.(video: https://flic.kr/p/oaHZUH You were looking at the truck outside that has been working on the yard next door) You notice ANYTHING that might be “trash? trash? trash? trash?” until we both acknowledge and move the offending item. Maybe this means that you will be a very tidy person when you grow up! In the meantime, it’s very cute. (Except when we’re out in public, like at the playground, and there’s no trashcan. Hard to explain to you that we can’t go put it anywhere.)

One day we sang you guys Row Row Row Your Boat, and you LOVED IT. You can actually say “row row” (which is ADORABLE in your little baby voices) and you get a big smile and sometimes we do a ‘rowing’ motion (which is just clasping hands together and moving them back and forth).

You’ve gotten super interested in water play and pouring with cups (video: https://flic.kr/p/oaHYpP ). Malcolm, you can line up those little cups and pour them quite accurately from one to the other!

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We let you discover escalators this month. This is an excellent free activity on afternoons when it’s too hot to play outside for long.

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We had a daytrip adventure that included cherry picking! You loved picking the cherries from the trees, and putting them into your buckets. You also wanted to pick up all the cherries off the ground for your buckets.

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Generally buckets are a fun thing for you; you love dumping out your wooden pegs and art flash cards, putting them into a bucket, and repeating.

We showed you this fishing toy that Grandma got for you last year. You’re finally ready to play with it, and you really like it! The ‘fish’ are made of fabric that the velcro fishing pole will ‘catch.’

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Mama and Daddy finally tried and mastered the back carry in the Ergo. All four of us like it better!

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At long last we allowed you on the big slide at one of the nearby playgrounds–with parental help, of course.  https://flic.kr/p/oaH13T

You started having Toddler Opinions about socks this month. We have lots of plain white socks, so it’s not surprising that you started noticing the few more colorful socks in your sock bin, and requesting to wear them! (By holding the socks up to one of us and nodding expectantly. Occasionally pointing to your foot or holding it out for us.) (This also means that–for now–it’s no longer a battle to put shoes on you. Phew!) So I found a few sets of colorful socks online, and you now have a whole array of colors, stars and stripes to choose from! Whee!

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You still love being helpful. You like to help unload groceries; you can put yogurt containers away in the fridge, and Emmett, you like to help ‘sort’ the laundry.

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For a few weeks, you slept late in the mornings–til around 8, instead of 715/730. Then of course, you suddenly started waking up at 615. Mama and Daddy say No, Thank You to that. Too early! Not just for us, either; you were cranky and sleepy all morning when you woke up that early. So we’ve been attempting to tell you that it’s too early, to lay back down, and we’ll back soon to get you. We’ve also started putting a water bottle and a book in your crib with you, so that you can sip and entertain yourselves if you need to. Occasionally we’ll hear you reading a book to yourself when we’re not there–hopefully this becomes a fun, sweet habit. :)

You guys are seriously fun and sweet right now in general. We love playing with you and hugging you and telling you that we love you. You are so seriously CUTE and we can’t even take it.

love, mama

Things I Love Thursday: Sunhats

On some Thursdays, I’ll share something random that I’m really liking, enjoying, or appreciating. Just a little post to share a little snippet of life right now. I’d love to know if you also like these things, and what you’re randomly into these days!

At the end of May, I was at Target and bought myself a white floppy sunhat.

Oh my god, how did I not know that sunhats were the best thing ever?

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I’m a fair-eyed gal who prefers wearing glasses. The Portland days are long, with the hottest, sunniest time of day at the end. We go outside pretty much every night after the twins’ dinner, when the sun is out and fierce and in my eyes. The playground near our house has no shade cover, and the sun seems to be EVERYWHERE. Even if I happen to have contacts in and can therefore wear my sunglasses, it is still not enough. Oh, the squinting, the sweating, the hand trying to shade my eyes and face in vain, the misery.

Enter the sunhat. No more squinting! I can wear my glasses and be very comfortable. My face is kept sun-free! What a revelation!

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Sunhats have always seemed like a thing for older ladies, or for stylish younger women who can get away with effortless and whimsical things like hats, hoop earrings, and strappy shoes. But now I’m proudly pro-hat, even if I may not be cool enough to carry it off. (Or maybe I’m just old now. Whatevs.) What a happy difference it makes!

What are you loving this Thursday?

Having Toddlers

I’ve read and heard lots of parents say, “Oh wow, this age is so much fun!” About a variety of ages. I thought they were those crazy parents who loved everything all the time and who only saw things through rose-colored glasses. In short, I thought they were full of shit.

But it’s true! This age *is* fun! The twins are 19 months old and generally, we’re having a good time.

I realized that in the last few months, I haven’t been thinking about the early days of teensy tiny little newborns (I sort of mourned this stage for a long time, because I felt like I kind of didn’t pay enough attention).  I realized that I’m really enjoying who they are right now, and GASP, I also think they’re way cuter now than when they were tiny!

These little personalities have really started to develop and show, while their physical skills have taken off. They’re steady walkers, they can understand almost everything, they’re really becoming people!

They do silly things, they laugh, they crash into my arms for hugs, they crawl under me like I’m a bridge, they make up little games.

They still adore reading books (when they turn around and plop down into my lap–that is my second favorite thing after big hugs from them) and playing with blocks.  They can do chores and fetch! :) They’re figuring out so many new things all the time.

They’re taller and can reach practically everything, and they give us this look when they’re doing something they’re not supposed to. They try to pry off the oven dial protectors. I caught one of them putting a pot and lid into the trash can. They also like to run off in different directions/at different speeds when we’re out and about, so we can only go out when there are two adults to chase after them.

They’re only just starting to say ‘no’ and get tantrum-y. They often want to be picked up and left alone–simultaneously. Neither is really ‘talking’, so they can’t communicate very much or very well, but they understand everything and have definite opinions about many things.

It still surprises me how little they are. I mean, mostly I am in awe about how huge they are, compared to the 5 pound teeny babies we brought home. Now they’re big, strapping toddlers. But when I’m away from them for a little bit, it’s amazing and fucking ADORABLE how small they still are, compared to big people. Those little legs, running everywhere. Those little feet, with jagged toenails they won’t let us clip. Their little hands wrapped around our arm, or reaching to hold our hand when taking a big step up or down.

Things aren’t always easy, but these little dudes are so wonderfully weird and delightful!

I swear I’m not full of shit, either. (However, we do have full-time child care, so I’m not with them 24/7. That makes it easier for me to be positive. :)) I’ve been terrified of the toddler stage since they were born, and I know that we haven’t hit the hardest age yet, so I’m trying hard to stay focused on the fun/good stuff and be patient through the hard stuff.

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I mean, just look at those faces!

Also, I’m laughing/crying at this. I know it will be our future all too soon…

19 Months Old

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You are now 19 months old, cruising downhill toward two. But never mind that for now. You’re continuing to get more sophisticated with your knowledge and understanding about everything. It’s really entertaining to see you do so many things–we’re always in awe of how much you know!DSC_6884_WEBDSC_6891_WEB

Your grandparents visited! They had so much fun cuddling and playing with you, and you loved cuddling and playing with them too!

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They got you a kid-sized basketball hoop, and you LOVE IT. Especially you, Emmett-you are still so excited when you see a basketball–you are kind of obsessed!

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Malcolm, you are a little obsessed with being on the swings. You will just zone out for like twenty minutes and refuse to get out.

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A few more words this moth: You both started saying “bah-bah” for “basketball.” Malcolm, right at the end of the month, you started saying “no” and “yeah.” You also say “more.” Emmett, you started saying “apple” (for applesauce).

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We also went up north for your Aunty’s college graduation. While we were up there, we saw you both hug each other at the same time! (Usually only one of you wants to hug the other.) It was kind of amazing to see your little arms around each other–it made my heart want to explode! But of course it only lasted for half a second before you were off and running again. You guys also loved exploring and hanging out with more relatives, like Uncle Cam, who hadn’t seen you for a year and a half!

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You try to jump. It’s super cute–you bend your knees and then pop back up, with a ta-da kind of look. {VIDEO}

You did your first berry picking! Well, technically, you came with us a couple times last summer, but didn’t do anything. We went to pick strawberries, and you figured it out quickly. You also realized that they are yummy, and ate several right after picking, dirt and all.

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You’ve been loving eating more strawberries and also grapes. Also, you’re a little obsessed with the freeze-dried blueberres/raspberries from Trader Joe’s.

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A recent obsession has been wearing our shoes/walking with our shoes on. It’s really adorable, and you’re actually pretty good at it! Your little feet look so tiny in our giant shoes…I can’t believe that in a few short years, your feet will also be giant. :(  {VIDEO}

And, since you are truly toddlers, you are having more tantrums. Generally for things not going the way you want, which is understandable since you can’t communicate very much or very well. Although, at this stage you don’t always seem to know what you do want…Emmett, one day you refused to be put in your high chair and insisted on having your dinner on the floor. And since then you’ve mostly been happy only if you’re allowed to climb into your high chair by yourself, so we let you do that (with supervision, of course).

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What’s super cool is that you try to comfort each other–one of you will try to rub your brother’s back, or pat his head when he’s upset.

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Happily, you still want and need plenty of cuddles, and reading time on our laps, and you still run to us for hugs. I can totally forget about the tantrums when your little arms are around my neck. :)

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We love you so much!

love, mama

The Mama Matters

I’m in a lot of online groups, and many of them revolve around parenting or babies/kids. Often there are posts from moms who are exhausted and frazzled and emotional. I never have much actual advice, but I like to chime in and say something like, “Your mental health and sanity is really important. You matter too, mama!”

A few weeks ago, it hit me like a brick: I’ve been talking to myself.

*I* matter. My subconscious has been hard at work trying to convince me, all this time.

The first few weeks (months? I have no idea) of life with twins, I cried about many things (though I did my best to do it quietly or out of the way. It wasn’t all the time or anything. I don’t think?). I felt frustrated at many things, and I was trying really hard to do All The Things. I kept trying to make my husband take it easier, or not do as much–like go take a nap, or watch some extra tv or something. And he never listened to me. Which I found (and still do find) extremely, extremely frustrating. He would say something about me taking a nap or taking some time ‘away’ or whatever, and I would say, “No, I don’t matter.”

And then I would tear up or actually cry. Because at the same time, I felt two conflicting emotions: that I and my needs truly did not matter, and that it made me fucking sad that I thought I didn’t matter.

Now, my husband was and is pretty much the best partner in this baby thing as anyone could dream of. It’s never been a question that he does the babycare/parenting work. He’s not a babysitter or an “involved dad”; he’s just a parent. No question. So even though we have twins, which is fucking hard, our twins have been good babies, and I’ve had it really pretty good. We got a nanny two days a week when the babies were 2 months old, mostly so that I could do things like take a nap and go outside by myself. Seriously, I have nothing to complain about.

But those first few brutal weeks, I still felt like I didn’t matter. That I was not important, unworthy. The least important person in the house. I stopped saying it, because it made my husband upset (rightfully so!), but I continued to feel it.

Once a new baby arrives, all the attention is directed there. When new twins arrive, there is lots and lots of attention! Not just out at the grocery store, but at home. And not just between the nuclear family, but also the extended family. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, everyone’s so excited and thrilled about the adorable squishy baby! And well they should be–babies *are* exciting! (Well, more in theory than in practice; generally they just sit there.) But the parents–especially the mother, I think–get lost in the baby shuffle. Nobody  pays attention to the new mom.

Plus there is or was some remnant in my head of the idea that anything the dad did, was extra, bonus, not to be expected. So I felt guilty, and extra grateful, and extra dependent, and extra beholden. And I was beholden–I physically needed him to do a lot of work those first days, as my body recovered from the c-section.  But I also didn’t want to put him out too much. I didn’t want to be helpless.

Listen to me: I didn’t want to put him out too much? Like I would have to tiptoe and hope and beg for such a favor as to please change diapers today because my torso was sliced open a few days ago and my drugs aren’t doing enough?

There’s a lot of culture at play here–I would have sworn I was immune to this patriarchal nonsense. But look at these words coming out of me without even realizing it! It’s a real thing that women, especially mothers, do and want to and should (????!!!) put themselves last. Because they don’t matter. Or because what their kids or spouses want is more important, and the mom has to make sure to accommodate all of that and mitigate all of that, because her own needs have to take a backseat.

It’s hard to really see and escape this kind of thinking that’s embedded in our society. Sorry, I didn’t mean to get political, but it’s kind of really the core of the issue here.

I didn’t think I mattered.

If that’s not something to make you/me tear up, I don’t know what is. It’s heartbreaking! But apparently it’s taken me this long, and the impartiality of a social network screen, to learn the lesson that I matter. That I was and am an important person, not just for the sake of my children, but for my own sake, as a fully functioning human person. I’m not a vessel or a robot. I’m allowed to have space, time and opinions of my own. (How very 20th century of me!)

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So, listen. No matter what: YOU MATTER, MAMA. Always. Along with your partner, you are one of the two most important people in your new baby/ies’ life. Of course your baby needs a lot of attention, and grueling, tedious attention it is for the first few endless weeks. (But you’ll also get to snuggle with your sweet new baby!) Parental needs get pushed to the back burner for awhile.

But, please please remember: You are a person too. You are not just a feeding/diapering machine. You have wants and needs, and you are allowed to have them. And! you are allowed to get them. Sleep is a biological need, not a selfish want. So naps aren’t indulgent, they’re necessary! You deserve to be at your struggling best–you probably need some rest, time and space away for a few minutes. Away from everything and everyone, blessed quiet for your frazzled new-mama mind. It doesn’t have to be a day at the spa (though you certainly deserve a massage at the least!). Just a few minutes to breathe. A few minutes to take a shower, walk through the grocery store aisles, feel the sun on your face–all without a tiny person all up on you, demanding all of your attention and energy. A few minutes to be YOU.

Maybe that means your partner hangs out with the baby/babies solo for awhile. Maybe it means that your free time is only in the evening. But go find that time. Ask for it, demand it. Figure out a way for each of you to get some naps, some alone time, to get some you time, to get that space and that silence. It is so, so important.

You’ll feel better, and you’ll be a better parent for your sweet new baby. Your baby deserves healthy, rested parents

YOU MATTER.

Pumping for Twins

I’m finally posting this on the one-year anniversary!

Medela Symphony PumpOn the babies’ seven month ‘birthday,’ I pumped for the last time.

Yes, I was finally DONE WITH PUMPING.

It felt like a major decision. And for a long time I still didn’t know how I felt about it!

Once I knew that I didn’t want to nurse, I figured I’d pump for maybe the first three months. Well, that came and went pretty quick and then they were like five months old and I was like, hey…I’m still doing this? But I didn’t want to stop at a random time, and their six month ‘birthday’ was really close, so I decided I would go for seven months as my endpoint.

I can be somewhat terrible at actually Deciding to Do Things. I would much rather decide that something needs to happen and then kind of wait for the chips to fall. Or have something assigned to me. I think I worry that I’ll make a wrong decision, or a strange decision, or that I don’t know how things will play out later on, so I’d sometimes be happy to let the Fates decide! But sometimes I have to be a GrownUp and put on my Big Girl Pants and make a Damn Decision Already.

I was never one to have a ‘goal’ for something like nursing or pumping, because I didn’t know how I would do, if I would like it, or what our life circumstances would be. I didn’t want to tie myself down to some mental milepost in the future.

But once I started, I figured I might as well keep going for awhile. It seemed to be working pretty well, and my supply kept up quite well. I never made enough to fully feed both the babies, but for many months we only had to do one set of formula bottles (for anywhere from five to eight feedings a day). This was pretty great. Especially because with samples and gifts, we didn’t have to buy any for maybe 3 or 4 months.

I need to include an aside about formula itself, as a principle. I love it; I think it’s great. My babies needed more food than my body provided, and formula kept their bellies full so they could grow.

Since the babies tolerated both Enfamil and Similac regular formulas without even noticing the switch, once it was time for us to buy the formula, we tried the Costco brand and it was good.  And it is SO MUCH CHEAPER. On Amazon, the big brands are a dollar an ounce; at Costco those brands are like 80 cents an ounce. The Costco formula is forty-five cents an ounce! Winner! (But really we are just lucky that our babies don’t have any special dietary needs/restrictions. And that I don’t care about organics and stuff.)

Even with the cheapest formula option, it still costs money. As I transitioned to fewer pumps per day and my output dipped, we used more formula each month. And of course then once I stopped, we had to buy a lot. The babies take 32-35 ounces a day, times two, so the giant can only lasts 3 1/2 – 4 days. Again, even cheap, it adds up.

And to me it felt like I was forcing the family to pay this extra money because I was being lazy and selfish by not pumping anymore.

I wanted to be free. I wanted my body to be my own again. I wanted my schedule, all the hours in the day, to be my own again (or as much as they could be with two infants). But I also waffled a bit.

There was a nagging thought in the back of my head that if I was able to make food for my babies, I should keep doing it. That maybe my needs weren’t really needs, just wants, and that my babies’ biological needs trumped whatever I wanted.

Happily, my husband insisted that I should stop. Not pressuring me to or anything, but asserting that I had done a lot already and it was more than okay for me to stop. He respected my seven months of pumping and my decision to be done. But I asked a lot of times, “Are you sure it’s okay? Should I just keep going after all? Is it too much money?” He always said “No, you should stop. It’s really okay.”

Another aside: apparently some husbands think it’s their business to insist on or pressure their partners to pump or breastfeed. What the everloving fuck?! Unless a man is the one strapping a baby or a milking machine to his own body, he has zero right to push for his partner to feed a baby that way!

Anyway, so over the course of a few weeks I weaned myself down and then off the pump entirely.

The last pump was on a Friday. I wasn’t sure how the stopping process would go for me, physically. All was fine for awhile, at first it didn’t feel any different. Later on Saturday I started feeling uncomfortable. By Sunday it was actual pain. It hurt to hold a baby and it hurt to sleep–pressure on my engorged chest. I read that other women had pain for up to a week when quitting! I tried cabbage leaves, I thought about finding whatever herbs or drugs might help after a few days…Sunday night it got even worse and so Monday morning I broke down and pumped for ten minutes. I decided that if I needed to do once a day for a few more days I could handle it. I got another 10 ounces or so, and after that my body totally got the message. No more pain, no more milk, all done, all gone. My body was once again all mine.

It’s been two months A YEAR now and I can’t believe how glad I am that I stopped, and how incredibly much I don’t miss it. I look back and wonder, jesus, did I really do that?! I have not regretted the decision to stop for even a SECOND.

And now for all the random thoughts I have about pumping.

1. NUMBERS! DATA! NERDINESS!

I kept a log while I was in the hospital so I would know when to pump and be able to see how much I was getting. And then…I kept going. I continued to keep track of every single pump for all seven months. And then I graphed it! Is that dorky or what?

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Several things to note:

-The stars indicate when I decreased a pumping session. At first I believe it was seven times a day, so the first star is when I went down to six times a day. I did 30 minutes each time, until going to five times, when I did 45 minutes each time.

-I don’t even want to think about the total amount of time I spent pumping. Hours and hours and hours. I essentially lived on our couch.

-My supply really jumped up quickly at a clear pace and I had a really good average–over 50 ounces a day for a long time. Again, though, the babies were taking 60 ounces.

-Looking at this graph, it looks like such a short period of time. And I guess it was, in the grand scheme of things. But those days and weeks and months of pumping felt looooooong. So very long. Never ending, really. I can’t even tell you how long it all felt. Such a slog.

-I was fascinated to learn (thank you auto-sum!) that over the course of seven months, my total output was SIXTY SEVEN GALLONS. That’s a full milk case at the grocery store. FROM MY BODY. That is crazy weird strange cool. Check out my badly-photoshopped graphic of SIXTY-SEVEN GALLONS:

Pumping for Twins

2. THE ENERGY

The first few weeks of pumping, I could literally feel the life draining out of me at each session. It felt like I was wilting from the inside out. It was probably because I wasn’t eating much of anything at first. As time went on,  I didn’t feel weak anymore, though I doubt I was ever eating enough. When I went out for errands, I frequently stopped for a chocolate milkshake to get some extra calories.

Sitting in one place for so long so many times a day forced me to drink a lot of water–I easily drank 60oz a day, and that made a huge difference for my skin and for my energy level.

Also, I was surprised that I didn’t lose weight faster than I did. I dropped forty pounds in the first week, but only another six pounds in the next six weeks.

9 wks pregnant; 1 week pp; 7 months pp

9 wks pregnant; 1 week pp; 7 months pp

3. THE SCHEDULE

A lot of women keep pumping every three hours (around the clock–that means overnight!) for way longer than I did. I was never willing to do that. Within a week maybe I was skipping one overnight session, for a total of seven pumps a day instead of the ‘ideal’ eight. My supply may have been higher if I’d done that extra session, but I was not willing to sacrifice even more sleep. As it was, for many months I could only go 5 or 6 hours between pumps, which meant starting the last one of the night around 2am, which meant getting to bed around 3am, and then getting up again to pump at 7am.

The worst part was when someone would suggest that I should sleep in. Or my husband would offer to do something so I could sleep. I wanted to cry and scream every time I had to say (and good lord I hated that everyone else seemed to forget what a slave to the pump I had to be), “I CAN’T; I HAVE TO PUMP.”

Eventually I started doing the last one a little bit earlier and earlier, stretching out the overnight. It took awhile, but man, the difference it made to get more sleep….indescribable. I know that a lot of babies don’t sleep well and continue to wake up every night every few hours for many many months….but ours didn’t, and being unable to take advantage of their good sleep was so frustrating. I was a zombie for months when I didn’t ‘have’ to be.

The best part was when I got to the point of 8 or 9 hours overnight between pumps. And when my amazing husband started getting up with the babies so I could sleep for eight hours. I think that was in April, when the babies were about five months old or so. Oh my god, I felt like a real person again. It was an incredible, priceless gift.

The other sweet spot was when I finally got to four pumps a day. That felt really manageable in the daily schedule: first thing in the morning, lunch time, late afternoon, night time. (Until I got to three times a day; that was even better.)

Of course, the relentless pumping schedule means that you have to schedule your life around your pump. Date nights, playdates/mom groups, exercise–all of it has to be done in those times between pumping sessions. And if they overlap, then you can’t just skip. Your body won’t let you. So you have to pump before and after your fun event.

4. THE HASSLE

Pumping sucks. Literally and physically. In so many ways.

First, there’s all the crap. Keeping track of all the parts, washing them in between pumping sessions, finding room to let them dry on the counters. If you pump in different places, you also have to cart the pump and accessories to different parts of your house (or car, or work, or vacation).

Then there are the accessories. Often I would rush home from an outing and immediately run upstairs and do a fast clothing change to pajama pants and a nursing tanktop. I also had a special hands-free pumping bra, plus a muslin blanket to cover up (I just tied it on like a giant neckerchief). Then the bottles and lids, and eventually you might need to keep extra bottles around in case one fills up and you need to switch before the pumping session is over. It really sucks when one leaks or overflows and you don’t notice until it’s already been going on for who knows how long. Ick and ack.

It is a huge hassle to stick to that schedule. Your boobs don’t need a clock; they know when the milk is due, and whether or not your pump is going, that milk will come. Occasionally time would get away from me, and I would feel a tingling, and then suddenly realize I needed to be pumping. On our trip north in January, three different times I was busy being social and missed the pumping times and leaked everywhere. Yuck.

5. THE IMMEDIACY

When I would say I have to pump, that might RIGHT NOW. Not right now in three minutes, RIGHT NOW THIS VERY MOMENT GET OUT OF MY WAY. Occasionally my husband would try to give me a hug or leisurely talk about something as I was frantically trying to get all the pump shit ready and I would be like I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS RIGHT NOW I NEED TO PUMP.

Imagine that feeling when you’ve needed to pee for a long time and you’re about to burst and you’re on the way to the bathroom. And someone wants you to stop and chat.

Except that ability to hold it in is not available and the ‘ready to explode’ feeling keeps building painfully and there’s no immediate relief.

So a note to all you friends or partners who are pumping: get the hell out of their way!

I would frequently lose track of time and be like, Shit! I have to pump! And then proceed to run around getting all the pump stuff and accessories ready, and oh yeah, fill up my water bottle, since I’ll be stuck in one place for almost an hour. And I probably need a snack. And I should go to the bathroom now while I can. Where’s my kindle? Is my laptop plugged in? Make sure I can reach the remote!

Now imagine the fun times when I was alone with two babies and pumping! For months I did at least one feeding a day *while* pumping. It was difficult and extremely, incredibly annoying. But I figured that multi-tasking was the best way to use my time. As I slowly changed my schedule and those pumping/feedings got fewer, it was such a relief.

6. THE IN-BETWEEN-NESS

Everyone wants to know how you feed your baby. It’s none of their damn business, and I have a much bigger post brewing on that, but people will still ask. It does come up organically sometimes. And I think people in general like to categorize things, and seek out people with similar situations. It pretty much seems like there are only two options: breastfeeding and formula feeding. And…I was neither. Or kind of both. My babies obviously got formula from the start, so I was a formula feeder. And I only nursed a handful of times ever, so I wasn’t a breastfeeder. But I was pumping. So they were getting milk from me. Does that mean I was breastfeeding because their food came from me? Or does it mean I wasn’t breastfeeding since that food from my body went into theirs via a bottle? Then there are the small, forgotten segment of Exclusive Pumping mothers. Which, I wasn’t that either, since I was pumping like 70-80% of what my babies ate, not 100%.

I never liked being neither, or both, or nothing easily categorize-able. I always wished I could find other people like me, in all those facebook groups where it seems everyone is an exclusive and/or extended breastfeeder. I wish I could have found a community of other in-between-ers.

7. THE UNEXPECTED BONUS

Once I was a little less zombie-fied and was more stable with my pumping schedule, I began to enjoy my late-night (2am) pump session. I’m a night-owl anyway, so it wasn’t a stretch to stay awake for so long, even though I was tired. But I was alone. I could do whatever I wanted, as long as I could do it while sitting on the couch. I wrote blog posts; I read the internet; I watched Netflix (mainly a ridiculous and fun Aussie teen soap called Dance Academy); occasionally I would read on my kindle.

I came to relish that quiet alone time, and actually look forward to it. Even though I wasn’t really doing anything different than during the rest of my day, my mind felt calm and quiet. Relaxed. I suppose the time sacrifice was worth it for the mental break, in a way. Sometimes you just need to get away, and sometimes the only way to do that is to stay up until 2 or 3am.

8. NO, YOU’RE NOT LOSING YOUR MIND.

Many women–including myself–hear the pump ‘talk.’ Especially since I had a hospital-grade pump for the first 6-7 weeks, which is gigantic but pretty quiet, and then moved to the Medela Pump-In-Style (the tote bag version), which is small and lightweight, but very loud. I heard different words or phrases nearly every day the first few weeks with that one! Then I finally started tuning it out. Here’s a funny/frustrating article about pumps being so technologically un-advanced: Shouldn’t the Breast Pump Be as Elegant as an iPhone and as Quiet as a Prius by now?

Medela Pump Tote Bag

9. TIPS

You can use any bottle with a standard opening. I used the Snappies bottles first, then the 5oz Medela bottles that came with the pump, and then I had to move to something bigger. I found a couple cheap 8oz bottles at Walgreens, and also used the Dr Brown’s 8oz bottles. They actually hold closer to 13oz!

However: lids matter! You can buy separate screw-on caps for the Dr. Brown’s bottles (which fit the 4oz and the 8oz sizes) and they ACTUALLY work. The Medela bottle lids worked mostly okay for the Medela bottles, but not for any of the other kinds.

You can use dry-erase markers to write anywhere on any bottle. We have a bunch of the fine-tipped markers for our kitchen dry-erase board, so I used them to write day/time of pumped bottles. Wipes right off!

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For chafing, almost everyone recommends lanolin. Lanolin is really, really sticky. Which means that you and your pump parts are always a little sticky. I dug around and finally found another suggestion: olive oil! Put some on a paper towel, and then wipe it around the inside of the pump flange. Et voila, no chafing, and no stickiness!

9. IN CONCLUSION

You can feed your baby however you like. One method (formula or breastfeeding) may work best for you, or you might combo feed. You might use a pump also. It’s pretty neat that our bodies can feed our babies, isn’t it? But–the best things to remember are that 1, if you’re feeding your baby and loving your baby, that means you’re a good mother–period. And 2, YOU matter. Your time matters, your physical AND MENTAL health matter. If you want to pump, and you can, then great! If you don’t want to, or you can’t, great! Love your baby. That’s what matters. I support you!

Pinspiration: Father’s Day Craft

Last spring, I decided semi-last minute to do a craft for Father’s Day. I found this on Pinterest :

fathers day pinterest

Pinterest             /        Original source

“Heartfelt quotes” aren’t really our thing, and they’re definitely not my husband’s thing. But I figured it was a great basic idea.

Here’s my take on it:

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This was a really quick and easy project, and I only used things I already had.

First, I used my black stamp pad to stamp each baby’s footprint, so that together they made a heart. (I wrote each baby’s name next to the print.) This was just on regular copy paper.

The background is scrapbook paper, the blue heart is another piece of scrapbook paper. I wanted a cool pattern for the letters, but didn’t like any of the paper I had, so I actually went online and into Photoshop to make a pattern. I then typed out the letters in outline and printed it all, and painstakingly cut out the letters.

Then I put it into an empty IKEA frame we had lying around. Et voila–Happy Father’s Day!

This is a really easy craft, and super customizable. And best of all, besides being free, it’s super cute and a great keepsake!