Thank you Jamie, for sharing part 2 of your journey!
I want to tell you all about my breastfeeding journey. My daughter turns 1 in approximately 24 days (but who’s counting!?). Before even becoming pregnant I always knew I wanted to breastfeed and pump. Just hearing stories from my mom and other women in my life, it seemed like such a special bonding time and how cool to be able to provide something for your baby that quite literally keeps them alive! As my due date approached, I began to give this more thought and was preparing myself for the possibility of it not working out. I tried to go in with little expectations.
My baby girl was born July 8, 2017, and it was truly love at first latch. Those first few weeks were definitely challenging in the nursing department though. For one, you’re feeding around the clock and each nursing session was taking a long time. We were both getting used to this new concept. By the time she finished nursing, it was almost time to do it all over again. I finally understood what cows being milked feel like! And I don’t care what anyone says, it hurts! I was fortunate, however, to have had the amazing guidance from Metropolitan Breastfeeding from week 1. Although things were going well, I had wanted a professional to literally just watch me nurse and make sure we were set up for success.
The real fun began when I started pumping. My only prior experience with this was when I had seen my best friend pump when she had her first baby a couple years prior. I couldn’t get that image out of my head – her on the bed, hooked up to wires, bottles and a machine, nipples protruding 3 inches out, and a loud pumping noise, with milk filling the bottles 2 drops at a time. Every ounce deserved applause. I knew that would come with nursing because I was headed back to work at 4 months and would need to keep my supply up for my baby while she was with her various caretakers.
At the advice of doctors and friends, I started my pumping journey at about 2-3 weeks postpartum. I had a lot of anxiety about pumping. The idea of it overwhelmed me. How to use the pump, how long to do it for, was I getting enough, the storage of the milk, thawing it, heating, etc. Little did I know, I would become the pumping pro. I was doing it around the clock to store enough for the future and so my husband could have his bonding time with our daughter to give her a bottle when he got home from work (and so I could have a break – only to clean bottles). My IBCLC always reminded me to “feed the baby, not the freezer,” but I couldn’t help myself. I was obsessed with having a solid freezer supply.
There were also several times where I quite literally cried over spilled milk. You may have heard the term “liquid gold.” It’s a real thing. Breastmilk IS liquid gold and if even a drop spills out during the dreaded transfer, it’s very upsetting. It is OK to cry and get frustrated. Let out a big scream and then let it go. You will make more. That also leads me to pumping and dumping. I luckily only had to do it a few times, but it was a few too many – it killed me to watch it swirl down the drain into the abyss. But again, it’s probably for good reason. You needed a drink, and you deserve it.
Going back to work was stressful for so many reasons, but one of them was figuring out my new nursing/pumping schedule. I am an event planner, so I knew I would have to use my professional logistic expertise to make this nursing/pumping thing work, for a year, which was my goal. I am almost there (pumping as we speak)!
Throughout the past 11+ months, I have said numerous times to my husband that I feel like I should write a book about all the places I’ve pumped. When mentioning this to my IBCLC, she encouraged me to blog about it. So here we are, but maybe one day you will find my book in Urban Outfitters or something ????
So, here’s to us women. We are incredibly strong, powerful, resilient, and will do whatever it takes to keep our children happy and healthy. I feel so honored to be part of such a remarkable tribe, that of Motherhood. It’s only been 11 months so far, and counting, but I am looking so forward to many more chapters to this crazy novel and to continuing this amazing journey.
Thanks for reading!
P.S.I couldn’t end this post without attaching a few photos of my breastfeeding and pumping journey. I have had the support and encouragement from friends and family and the constant reminder that no one is looking or watching me, which I still don’t necessarily believe, but if a child needs to eat, you gotta do what you gotta do! Oh, and a huge shout-out to my Udder Cover®, which has helped protect me from all those wandering eyes, and now causes my daughter to pant whenever I break it out!
Pumping on a boat on a bachelorette party! (left) Pumping in a public restroom. (middle) Pumping in another public restroom! (Right)
We’re excited to share the first of two blog posts by Jamie Kramer, mom of Molly! Thank you Jamie!
As I sit here writing this blog post (my first ever!), I reflect on the past 11 months of my life. These have been the craziest, strangest, most exhilarating, joyful, weirdest, most frustrating, happiest months. Now you might be thinking: how can something be the most frustrating but also the happiest time? Readers, I introduce you to parenthood. I wanted to pay my experiences forward to others as I am so appreciative to all of the mothers who blogged, Instagrammed, Facebook posted, called, texted, or emailed me their advice which helped me through my first year as a new mom. So, thank you to Metropolitan Breastfeeding for providing me with this forum to do so.
Things I learned that every expecting parent should know
My biggest advice to all new moms out there is to enjoy the journey. There is no “destination” per se in having children. Your ultimate goal of course is for your kids to be happy and healthy their entire lives. But, in my mind, it’s the journey that counts. It’s those memories that your kids will look back on, we hope, with smiles. And even in those earlier years where they won’t remember much, we will. So, try not to sweat the small stuff. Have fun with it. Having babies is an exciting journey and whether you are doing it as a single parent or with a partner, remember to stop and laugh every once in a while, because dirty diapers, baby giggles, delirium and baby gibberish ARE funny!
I’ve been in medicine for no less than 45 years. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a diversity of families. So, I can confidently say that I am a very experienced medical practitioner. Now with that being said, there was no amount of experience that could have completely prepared me for the birth of my own grandson, H. Throughout the experience I had to keep reminding myself, “This is not about you.” I’m sure that is a common phrase that grandparents/in-laws have to repeat to themselves. The important decisions weren’t mine to make; they were for my daughter and son-in-law.
Asker vs. Guesser
While it can be difficult to take on that mindset, understanding and utilizing the theory of Askers vs. Guessers helped me gain new perspectives of those in my family, as well as my patients. My daughter had shared with me an article underlining a theory that we live in an Ask vs. Guess culture. I think understanding this theory regarding our society can assist parents and grandparents reach a common ground of understanding. Ask vs. Guess culture, as explained by Oliver Burkeman of The Guardian, is where a person is defined as either an Asker, someone who will ask for anything regardless of whether could be no, or a Guesser, someone who will only ask a question in which they know the answer will be yes. Keeping this philosophy in mind, I’ve grown to better understand my daughter, son-in-law, and myself through the arrival of H. I genuinely believe it has helped transform me into a better practitioner.
As I mentioned before, I was not really ready for the text message explaining my daughter was in labor. (I’m not sure if anyone can truly be ready, medical practitioner or not!) I rushed to pack my things, made the 3pm bus to New York City and walked the rest of the way to the hospital. After some time, I finally laid eyes on him and said a quiet prayer for the miracle lying in my daughter’s arms. After all my rushing to see H come into this world, I was brought to a stop. Perched in the corner of the hospital room like a grandma vulture, I was ready to swoop in and do something (anything) to help. I watched as a flurry of doctors, nurses, and doulas came and went; I was impressed, but overwhelmed.
It was the ‘Asker’ in me that wanted to take over and ask to help but, as Burkeman explained, an Asker’s questions may come across as expectations and assertions. I worked hard to be deferential towards my daughter and her decisions. “This is not about you.” Grandparents/In-Laws may want to offer help and advice, but we must be mindful of our language- both verbal and physical- to ensure that the parents don’t feel expected to do anything they aren’t comfortable with. Sometimes we must sacrifice our own comfort and pride for the greater-good of the parents and child.
I was an Asker
My personality trait as an Asker was put to the ultimate test once they began testing H for jaundice. The hospital suspected jaundice and recommended a pediatrician run blood tests at the first office visit. My daughter wanted me to come to the appointment because she valued my experience and expertise. Even so, she needed to build an independent relationship with this provider as well. Once we arrived at the appointment H had his blood taken and his levels came back fine. I knew that the hospital had this done to divert responsibility if H had jaundice and that the pediatrician – who did a great job! – was just following the cascade of clinical decision-making because it is customary to do so with every patient.
Once again, the Asker trait in me was conflicted. I wanted to tell the pediatrician, “I got this.” But, I kept quiet, did nothing and left feeling deflated. It felt like I walked out with my tail between my legs, but I refused to compromise the respectful boundaries for my daughter solely for my pride. It is helpful to understand whether you are more of an Asker or a Guesser, but what is most important is to respect the boundaries set by parents and not impose your own beliefs and methods onto them.
What I Learned
The time I spent with my daughter’s family has undoubtedly made me a better practitioner. I’ve learned to pace myself and avoid cramming in information all into one visit. I’ve also learned to make each visit more palatable and easily integrated into the parent’s daily life. My patients deserve medical professionals that not only treat them but support them and their choices. Becoming aware of my Asker attributes and mannerisms has allowed me to be more mindful of each patients’ specific concerns and needs.