How To Protect Your Kids Even When You Aren’t There (Plus God and Wonder Woman)

 

The Stairs Are Scary When You Baby Has No Sense of Depth

I had a “how to protect your kids” epiphany this week as I was watching my one-year-old slide down our ultra steep stairs on his butt. In order to explain my realization, however, I need to give some background information.

Our stairs have a door at the top of them. When our little man became mobile we endeavored to keep the door closed at all times. But sometimes, despite our best efforts, it was open. More than once I chased him over only to realize that he was inches or feet away from a fall. A fall he probably would have instigated without knowing any better.

It was at this point, I realized, that even if I tried, I couldn’t always keep him safe. I was not the only person living in the house, my son would eventually be able to reach the doorknob, and sometimes the door didn’t latch … I knew the day was going to come when he would be faced with those stairs and I wouldn’t be there.

So, I Decided That The Best Way To Protect Him Was To Prepare Him.

We started at the bottom of the stairs. I piled pillows on the carpet near the last stair and we practiced climbing them. I helped him at first, showed him where to put his hands and how to move his legs one at a time. Then I followed him and caught him if he faltered. Then I watched from a distance ready to help if he needed it. Once he had mastered going up, we practiced going down.

L and I would stand at the top of the stairs and hold hands. He would run forward and try to leap but my hand kept him at the top. Time after time we practiced sitting down, scooting forward, and sliding down carefully one stair at a time.

This prep work wasn’t fast or easy. It took months to master and we are just barely at the point where he can go up or down without me. But long before he mastered it, he started being careful.

At one point he would carry a pillow to the bottom of the stairs before he tried going up. Later when he happened upon the open door at the top, he would sit down and yell for me. When I got there he would hold my hand and start scooting down.

Because I had taken the time to practice with him and prepare him for something, he had an idea of what to do when he was faced with the situation and I wasn’t there. Because he was prepared, he was safe.

Now, I am not saying that he won’t fall or hurt himself on the stairs at some point. Accidents happen. In fact, I tripped down several stairs not terribly long ago. I am just saying that he is far safer having learned how to deal with the stairs then he would have been if I had continued to try to keep the door shut and failed.

Take A Look at Wonder Woman (Spoilers)

Wonder Woman grows up in a happy, peaceful environment. However, her express purpose is to help those less fortunate, to fight warmongers, and help bring peace to others.

Her mother, wanting her to be safe and happy, attempts to shield her from this reality. She doesn’t want her to learn to fight or to understand her destiny. Her aunt, on the other hand, knows that the best way to protect her is to prepare her for whatever may happen. So, she trains her.

It is because of her training and extensive preparation that she is able to survive and fulfill her destiny.

War is not a safe place to be but it would have been even more dangerous for her if she had remained untrained and “blissfully” ignorant like her mother wanted.

Knowledge = Preparation = Protection = Power (Maybe not over your circumstances but over your actions.)

Back to Our Own Children

If preparation is the ultimate long term protection that we can give our kids, then teaching it should be at the top of our priority lists. Doors and baby gates can only go so far…

I took a minute to think about what worries me most during this phase of my child’s life (toddlerish years) and it turns out I am worried about a whole lot.

  • Getting Lost
  • Getting Hit by a Car
  • Chemicals
  • Falling
  • Kidnapping
  • Sexual Predators
  • Pornography Exposure
  • Making Friends
  • Animal Encounters
  • And the list could go on and on…

Having had my epiphany, I realize that the best thing I can do is prepare my son (as much as possible for whatever age he happens to be at) for these frightening possibilities and/or eventualities.

He needs to know what to do when strangers approach him, or when he gets his hands on the Windex. He needs to spend time with other kids and learn how to share and be kind. He needs to understand his own body and what is and is not okay. He has to learn that the road is full of cars and isn’t safe (and then how to cross it safely at some point in the future).

If I want to protect him even when I am not present, I need to prepare him to the point where he knows what to do when/if he must face it alone.

Back to the Stairs

Catching your child every time they fall is impractical and impossible. Teach them how to prevent falling in the first place. Teach them how to catch themselves if they do fall. Then teach them what to do if they totally biff it anyway. Knowledge is power.

The Final Part of My Epiphany: God

In the last several months I have heard of several unexpected and heartbreaking deaths. I was not particularly close to any of the people who passed on, but I do know several of the people who they left behind.

I don’t really blog about it much, but I am a very religious person, so I shouldn’t have been caught off guard when someone I knew specifically asked me why God was taking away someone she loved so much.

But I was caught off guard. That is a big, heavy, hard question. I spouted off several things, all of which I believe with all of my heart but none of which were very satisfying answers to this individual. So I started doing research.

Why would a father in heaven let us face such hard things? Why wouldn’t he save everyone from early, untimely deaths? Then it hit me. He is our parent.

Like human parents, he cannot protect his children from everything (for our own good not because he can’t). We must be free to make mistakes in order to learn and grow. We need the opportunity to face our own staircases (which we may or may not make it up and down without incident). But, he doesn’t send us to the stairs blindly. He has prepared us for hard things and continues to offer aid if we will listen and accept it. (See this lesson for more information.)

My Point

So, the best way to protect our own kids, whether we are there or not, is to empower them with preparation and knowledge. This is exactly what Wonder Woman needed to face everything she was called upon to deal with and it is the same thing that our own Heavenly Father has done for us (even if we don’t always remember it.).

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A Beginners Guide to Sleep Training

Sleep training was and is one of the hardest things we have faced as parents. I often feel like being a parent comes with a lot of guilt. Guilt about stuff I never even thought about before I had a baby. There is just so much new territory to cover and it’s hard to know where to get directions from. Books? Websites? Friends? Family? I have spent a lot of time wondering whether I am doing what is best for L and whether or not I am messing him up. Sleep training was and still is one of those times.

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At about five months, our pediatrician told us that the cry it out method was what would be best in the long run. He assured us that L would suffer no psychological repercussions from being left in his crib alone sobbing. He also told us not to feed him every time he woke up at night because he should be able to make it 6-8 hours. According to him, feeding the baby teaches the baby to fall asleep to the bottle and makes it difficult for him or her to self-soothe. We were given a handout that explained that we should let him cry for 5 minutes, check on him, let him cry for seven minutes, check on him, etc.

A friend described her cry it out method which was basically put the child in his/her bed and don’t go in for any reason. She has extremely well-behaved, obedient children that don’t seem psychologically scarred.

My own mother and many other women I know told me that they just couldn’t or chose not to do the cry it out method. They favored cuddling, nursing, sleeping with the baby, or watching movies as an alternative. I turned out fine, I think, so that must work too.

The internet was full of variations of cry it out methods, no tears methods, shuffle methods, and just let your kid sleep in your bed until they are 10 methods.

It is hard to know what to do.

So, after much anguish and advice and study, we decided to try the doctor’s handout first. The first time we left L in his room sobbing I sat on my bed sobbing. Nick told me that he really couldn’t handle both of us crying at the same time. So, I went and got him and we both cried and I  thought about what I should do for a few more days. We decided to try it again but I had to leave.

For several days I hung out in the one room in the basement that is quiet regardless of what is going on the rest of the house. And guess what? L started going to sleep on his own. There was crying for a few days but then he started just going to sleep. And we had it made. . . .

Nope, then he learned to crawl and sleeping was no longer on his agenda. So, we did it again. For a while when he was learning to crawl I had to put pillows next to the bars in his crib so that he wouldn’t repeatedly ram his skull into the wood. Then I would watch him on the monitor until he stopped ramming and sneak in and move the pillows. (I am not advocating that, it is just what we did at the time.)

Eventually, he was retrained using a combination of cry it out and Shawn the Sheep (that is the highly sophisticated method of Daddy watching Shawn the Sheep on mute with him in his dark bedroom).

Then he got teeth, or learned to walk, or got sick . . . and everything fell apart again. But, we were able to fix it each time after a few days.

Solutions. . .

Now, I am not about to suggest that there is a right way or wrong way to sleep train. I know people in many camps who feel very strongly about their own methods. I think that the cry it out method can work. I don’t think it is inherently evil (I have heard that). I also don’t think that there is anything wrong with having a safe family bed. I have come across research backing up both methods (not to mention the five billion variations of each).

What I do want to say is that there are two questions you should ask yourself before you decide how you want to go about sleep training (or not training) your child. The first question is: What can I live with? The second is: What does my own child need?

 

What can I live with?

When I was studying methods and alternatives for the “cry it out” method. I came to the conclusion that I could not live with a perpetually screaming child. So we decided that ten minutes was our max time. If he made it crying for a whole ten minutes we would go in and check on him. We also decided that if he was sick or having a particularly tough time, that there was nothing wrong with extra loves and cuddles.

On the other hand, we decided that we could not handle being up with him late every night like we had been. We both needed some time at night to do our own things and regroup. I am also the type of person who needs a good chunk of sleep to function and be civil. I never got used to that newborn stage of no sleep and it was hands down the most difficult part of L’s life (for me). So, we needed our own time at night and more uninterrupted sleep.

 

What does my child need?

After some sleep training experimentation, we figured out that there were a few things L needed to have a successful nights sleep. Food was the first. So, having a bottle became part of his night time routine when we put him down at 8:00 pm. We didn’t put it in his bed or let him fall asleep with it. We just fed it to him while we read scriptures. Then, we figured out that if we woke him and fed him another bottle around 11:30, more often than not he could sleep until 8:00 am.

We also realized he slept better with the sound machine on. Then later he needed a nightlight and eventually a stuffed animal. As he has gotten bigger and we have gotten better at listening, we have also learned that he has different cries and can recognize them. He has tired cry and we are comfortable letting him cry longer than 10 minutes if it the tired cry. He also has a panicked cry and a sick cry and a pain cry. Those cries merit more immediate attention depending on the circumstances.

Our Solution

After a lot of trial and error and guilt, we finally have a system that works for us and L (it also changes slowly as he gets older). Figuring it took some time but it was worth it because it is a large part of what keeps us sane.  I need that three hours at night to have something akin to an adult life. I love playing with L all day, and keeping up with the house and yard aren’t bad, but it is so nice to have a few hours of time each night to spend with my husband or develop my own skills or work on projects. To me, those three hours were definitely worth training L to sleep at a specific time in his own bed. The sleep training also helps us get large chunks of undisturbed sleep. That is what we can live with.

That being said we are not super strict. We listen carefully. Sometimes he cries, sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes we get him sometimes we don’t. Occasionally we watch Moana until ten or go on a walk if the night is really hard (see post here). We can all live with those choices and L goes to sleep without issues 6 out of 7 nights. Those odds work for me and my family.

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The Point

Do your research but don’t expect to find a magical correct way to sleep train. There isn’t a right way for everyone. Do what works for your family. Be prepared to be flexible if the need arises. Stop feeling so guilty, you are doing your best.

I am not a medical professional and don’t submit this post as medical advice. This is just what I have learned after 15 months with kid one.

Comment below with sleep training tips and methods that have worked for you.

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Five Ways to Get Exercise With a Toddler (Who Loves the Outdoors)

The other night, my son woke up screaming at about 10:30 pm. Now, sleep training and crying it out are a whole other matter that I will get into later. Suffice it to say we fall into an in-between camp and pay close attention to what his crying sounds like. We always go comfort him when it is his panic or pain cry. This was his panic cry, which we have come to guess coincides with nightmares (it is very distinct), so I went. He put his arms around my neck and sighed and started speaking rapid baby to me.

 

I wasn’t smart enough to teach him sign language early on, so our communication consists mostly of the word da (with various emphasis and intonations) and lots of pointing and hand gestures. This usually works well enough but exhausted charades in the dark was a bit too much for both of us. He was sobbing again before I realized that what he wanted was not his stuffed animal, or a story, or a bottle . . . he just wanted to go outside.

I tried to explain to him that it was dark and that it was night time but he just pointed at the window and cried. It was at that moment that his Daddy came in and realized what it was he wanted. Before I knew it, he was being wrapped in a big blanket and Nick was taking him out the door. The three of us ended up on a short walk around the block in our pajamas.

Being outdoors has long been a source of comfort for him and he calmed down significantly on our short nighttime adventure. When we got home, he gave us each a hug and went right back to sleep.

My point is, my toddler loves being outdoors. I am incredibly grateful that the thought of going outside brings him comfort and happiness because I am the same way. This being said, we have been experimenting with safe activities that allow us both to be outside to get exercise and fresh air.

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Hiking

I am blessed to live in the shadow of the Wasatch Mountains and we take advantage of that gift at every opportunity. I wrote a post about what I learned hiking with my baby and most of it still applies to a toddler. But let me tell you, hiking with a toddler is so much more fun. I love watching his eyes light up when he sees new places and things. He loves to throw rocks in the water, watch animals, collect sticks, and touch trees.

In order to help us both get our exercise and outside time, I hike for a mile or two then let him out of the carrier to explore.  The key to a successful toddler hike (in my mind) is three-fold. I get exercise, he gets exercise, we both have fun.

Notice, I didn’t say we make it a specific destination. Pinning your hopes of waterfall grandeur on a toddler is not wise. Hike for the journey, not the destination.

Biking

Before I got pregnant, I used to ride my bike all over. However, after months of puking and no exercise, I had to give it up for a bit. Then I had the baby and surprise . . . babies can’t ride bikes or even sit in bike trailers right away. Then it was winter. So, now that he is 14 months old we are starting our rides.

He loves feeling the breeze and watching the nature right outside of the trailer and he keeps himself busy eating snacks and reading books while I ride. Each time we go, I try to make the halfway point a park. That way he can get out and run around and play before heading back. Once again, we both get exercise and enjoy the outing.

Walking

I know, pretty basic, but sometimes it is all we have time for. Hiking and biking both require a certain amount of preparation and a larger time commitment. Walking just requires some tennis shoes and the stroller. We like to go early (by early I mean before noon) when it isn’t too hot. I try to walk all of the blocks near my house so that we are never too far from home should an emergency arise.

I let him get his exercise either at the park as our halfway point while I stretch. Or in our backyard when we get home.

 

Gardening

My son loves our yard and will run through our juniper trees with his rake for hours while I get everything weeded and cut. If you are thinking to yourself that gardening does not count as a workout, then you are not doing nearly as many squats as you could be while weeding. I just figure since I am already bending over to pull weeds, I might as well do squats and stretches. Gardening often leaves me more sore than any of the other activities.

Playing

Okay, here me out. This, like gardening, is not a workout in the traditional sense of the word. But it can definitely provide some exercise. When I stop worrying about being an adult and play with my son (be it at a park, in our yard, on the hike, in the garden, in the basement, whatever,) I find I am exhausted.

Playing with a one-year-old requires lots of running and crawling and lifting and stretching. A good half hour session of free play burns calories and builds relationships.

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How do you exercise with your toddler?

 

5 Secrets That Can Make You A Successful Stay-at-Home Mom

My stay-at-home mom journey started about a year ago. It feels like yesterday that I left my empty end of year classroom for the last time. I had already packed everything up and hauled it out. My baby was 3 months old and I was just there to finish up the year and say my goodbyes. The summer loomed ahead of me and I was both dreading and excited for it.


 

The Transition

After having been a parent for three months I knew that parenting was harder than I had anticipated. I distinctly recall thinking that it would be so nice when I didn’t have to wake up at 7:00 and go to work. For some reason, I had it in my head that I would be able to sleep in and play with my cute baby at my leisure. . . I was clueless.

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After three months of maternity leave, I knew that being a parent was harder than being a teacher (and teaching is mentally and emotionally exhausting). In fact, being a full-time, stay-at-home mom was hands down the most difficult job that I had ever had. Breastfeeding was awful (see my story here), I was never off the clock, I hadn’t slept for more than four consecutive hours in months, I felt like nothing ever got accomplished anymore, my cute little baby wouldn’t play at all (let alone at my leisure), and I felt like I was disappearing.

Teaching included a lot of 10 hour days, extra meetings, planning, preparation, and pressure from everyone (students, parents, administration, legislature, etc.) . . . but it gave me sense of purpose. It was also easy to look at a day of teaching and see what had been accomplished. Furthermore, I got to sleep at night. For me, sleep seemed to be key to my well-being.

As I closed the door to my classroom that last time, I wondered if my new job was going to kill me. Going from full-time teacher to full-time mom permanently had suddenly become a very daunting task.

The Secrets to Success

Success is defined by many people in many ways. My definition of success coincides closely with my family’s health and happiness. That includes me. I have been home for over a year now and through a lot of trial and error (and exhaustion, and tears, and loneliness) I have figured out five things that keep me sane, make me happy, and leave me feeling successful.

1. Take Care of Yourself

This is a difficult task physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is often physically difficult to leave your baby if you are breastfeeding and most of your free-time tends to go towards things like sleeping, eating and showering. Mentally the days and nights blur together and it’s hard to think outside of the necessities. Emotionally, it’s easy to feel guilty for even thinking about putting something you want or need to do above something your baby or family needs.

It wasn’t until about four months in that I realized I needed to do something that was genuinely for me. Hiking was what I missed the most, so asked my mother-in-law to babysit so I could go to my mountains. IT WAS REJUVENATING. When I got back after the two or three hours, I was ready to be the mom again. I missed my baby, I suddenly had some energy to spare, and I was happy.

The saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup”, is so very true. It’s okay to leave your baby somewhere safe and take care of yourself sometimes. My mother-in-law graciously offered to watch my son at the same time every week. My husband agreed to go to work early every Thursday. Both, so that I could do what I needed to do for me (hike). I look forward to those four hours all week and boy can I tell if I don’t get them. I know that I am a better mom and wife when I take some time to do the things I love.

2. Create a Schedule (But be Ready to be Flexible)

The combination of not having to get up and be somewhere at a specific time every day and a tiny human who does whatever he wants whenever he wants can really throw a person off. A few weeks into Mommyhood, I sat down and wrote out a very ambitious weekly schedule for myself. It was a very teacher-y thing to do. I had my days planned down to the hour and more goals than I probably could have accomplished in a month at that stage. I realized fairly quickly that that wouldn’t work and came up with a simpler system. I have one BIG goal each day and two to-do lists.

My big goals repeat weekly so that we both have consistency. My first to-do list is full of things that I need to do each day.  The second to-do list is full of things I would like to do if I manage to find some time. I keep all three lists in the same app on my phone and check them off as I go.

I love a good checklist. Something about watching an item disappear when I check the box gives me a sense of accomplishment.  Some of the things I check off each day are fairly basic. BUT I STILL DID THEM.

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Some days are super successful and I make it several items into my second to-do list. Some days I throw everything to the wind and do something spontaneous (there are some perks to being a stay-at-home parent). Other days I can’t even accomplish my one big goal. Regardless of the daily success or lack thereof, the lists and basic schedule help me use the time I do have to do the things I want to do.

3. See Other People

After my husband went back to work, the loneliness set in quickly. It was just me and this tiny guy who didn’t do much of anything for hours and hours and hours. Most of my friends were at work and I felt really alone. I spent a lot of time waiting for five to roll around and my husband to be home.

Eventually, I decided that I needed to find ways to get out and find people to talk to. (so what if the people I was most comfortable with were still working a nine to five?) I started by visiting my parents and in-laws. Next, I planned play dates with my friends who did have kids. Then, I started going to library storytimes and group activities. Later, I started my own play group and found some community service to participate in. It has taken time and effort, but I have found that finding ways to be around people is super important for my mental health. 

4. Listen Politely to the (crazy) Advice that You Get . . . Then Decide What Works for Your Family

I have heard a lot of different advice. Some of it has kept me up nights because it made me feel like I was parenting wrong. Some of it was exactly what I needed to hear. People tend to mean well and assume that what worked for them will work for you. That may or may not be true. Only you can figure that out.

Remember that regardless of what your best friend’s sister or second cousin insists upon, you have to do what works for your family. That will probably take some guessing, research, and more than one attempt but you will figure it out. There is no perfect way to be a stay-at-home mom.

5. Don’t Ever Forget the Reason that You Decided to Stay Home in the First Place

It is terribly easy to get caught up in the day-to-day craziness that is the life of a stay-at-home parent. It is also easy to become disenchanted with the monotony of the everyday routine. Do yourself a favor and take time each day to remember why you are home.

For me, that reason was that I wanted the opportunity to be the one who raised my son. I wanted to be his teacher and his exploring partner and his soft place to land. When I take the time to think about my original goals, the hard parts of staying home suddenly seem worth it.

 

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What are your reasons for becoming a stay-at-home parent? Or, what is your best advice for a new stay-at-home mom?

Nine Reasons I Hated Breastfeeding and Five Things that Helped Me Keep at It

Okay, so I don’t hate breastfeeding anymore, strongly dislike might be a better word. But when L was first born and breastfeeding was my life I dreaded it.

There were a lot of reasons to hate it:

      1. It hurt. L had been a powerful little sucker since day one. When he was born, he immediately put his thumb in his mouth. Anyway, it was painful. I called him my barracuda baby because he made me bleed so often and so much those first few weeks.
      2. It was my life. Breastfeeding was all I did all day and night. I would sit in my nursery recliner for what felt like an eternity hoping that he was getting enough to live off of. Then he would fall asleep and I would have to decide if it was worth moving him or if I too should just nap in the chair primed and ready for his next feeding in 10-40 minutes.
      3. I lost my freedom. Because breastfeeding was my life, I felt like I had to give up everything that made me me in order to be a milk factory day and night.
      4. It caused hours of agonizing guilt. I felt like I was a bad mother because I hated it so much. It became a vicious cycle. Due to hormones, or conversations with other moms, or a combination of the two, I was under the impression that breastfeeding was something I would eventually love and look forward too and I just absolutely didn’t.
      5. I felt trapped. I didn’t think that there was a way out. For the first two months, I swear I had to either feed L or pump every two hours. A pumping session took anywhere from 20-50 minutes leaving me with hour and a half intervals to live my new insane life. I had to pump every two hours or get clogged ducts.
      6. Clogged ducts, hurt me almost as much as giving birth did. There is nothing quite like having gigantic painful boob wedges that can only be relieved by, you guessed it, more pumping and nursing. This is why I felt so trapped. Every time I tried to lengthen the time between pumpings I would get clogged ducts which would make it so I would need to pump more often.
      7. The cycle. Pump every two hours. Try to pump every three hours instead. Clogged ducts. Revert to extensive nursing and pumping to relieve ducts. Have daydreams about early weaning. Experience guilt because of daydreams about early weaning. Feeling hopeless, “will this nightmare never end?”. Pump every two hours. Etc.
      8. No one really knew what to do about it. I read blog advice and medical journals and went to see a lactation consultant and a dermatologist (after 6 weeks of excruciating pain). There were many suggestions but nothing concrete. The lactation consultant said L was latched correctly. Great, it still killed. My dermatologist said that I had Raynaud’s syndrome and to put hand warmers in my bra. That made my boobs nice and hot.  Pump more? Yeah right. Oh, and clogged ducts just require a super painful massage to fix. No biggie.
      9. Then, to make matters worse my pump started making me just as sore as L did. This left me with no reprieve from the pain.

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So, even though I loathed breastfeeding/pumping. It was not what I would call a magical bonding experience. I kept going because I literally could not stop. At one point, I was pumping over 62 ounces a day. This meant I had my super sore boobs hooked to the pump for over five hours in a 24 hour period. At that same time, I was also nursing L as often as he needed. So between nursing, pumping, and washing all the dishes that came with pumping, my life was consumed and I wondered what on earth I had gotten myself into.

But then…

Over 1500 frozen ounces of breastmilk and 10 weeks of agony and endless pumping later, I was ready to try anything. It was then, that I managed to find a few things that saved my sanity and sore breasts.

  1. Lecithin: This was recommended by the lactation specialist I saw but it took about two weeks to actually start working. I had seen this mentioned on kellymom.com and several other blogs but didn’t try it until it was recommended by a professional. I only had one clogged duct after it started working. 
  2. Letting go of Guilt: I finally talked myself into pumping the majority of the time. This required me to let go of a lot of the guilt I was hauling around about giving my kid a bottle rather than a breast. Making that decision simplified my life. I spent less time with my baby attached to me which made me more excited to spend time with him in other capacities. It also gave me the freedom to leave and know that he was fine. Getting some me time back was rejuvenating and made me a better mom.
  3. Pumpin Pals Breast Flanges: I found these gems when I was desperately searching Amazon for something that would make pumping less painful. I ordered them and figured if they didn’t work I might just wean early. Lucky for L and I, they worked. These were almost as a big a game changer as the lecithin. I could pump and not even think about it. (Seriously though, sometimes I forgot I was pumping until I had a sizeable stain on my lap.)
  4. Pumping Schedule: Once the Lecithin finally kicked in, I was able to get myself on a pumping schedule. It took about a month but I got to the point where I only had to pump four times a day. This was infinitely better than 12. 
  5. Keeping the Pump Stuff in the Fridge: I don’t keep the actual pump in the fridge just the stuff that gets milk in/on it. That way I only have to wash it once a day instead of four times or, heaven forbid, twelve.

At month four, pumping has just become a part of my routine. I pump at roughly 5:00 and 11:00 in both the am and pm. I set my pump up by the computer for the 11 pm and 5 am session. This gives me time to answer emails, blog, play with gimp, and make movies. For the other two times, I take my pump with me or move it to where L is. Yes, I can change a diaper while pumping.

As a side note, I didn’t stop breastfeeding entirely. L still breastfeeds roughly five times a week. Now that he is a little bit bigger and the breastfeeding is less frequent it hurts much less and is more enjoyable. I like to cuddle him and I love how he looks at me. Breastfeeding is also a magical tool for when he is inconsolable, which doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it is nice to have a plan.

Fast forward to 10 months. . .

At about 8 months I dropped one of my pumping sessions (the 5 pm one) and started being really lazy about the timing of my other sessions. Not having clogged ducts gave me the ability to push the sessions a few hours or complete them early. This did not help my milk supply at all. When I was pumping 4 times a day at almost the same time every day I was making about 40 ounces. Once I dropped one session and threw my timing to the wind, the amount I produced easily dropped to 30 ounces than 25 ounces within a few weeks. Luckily, I had hundreds of ounces saved up. This enabled me to feed L using just breast milk until he was almost nine months, at which point I slowly introduced him to formula.

Around this time, L stopped breastfeeding entirely, preferring the ease of the bottle. I remember the last time I fed him. Physically it still killed but I no longer hated it. I knew it was the last time and I was grateful that I had stuck with it as long as I had.

During his ninth month, I dropped another session because we went on vacation, I hadn’t intended to drop it, it just happened. I am now just pumping twice a day, twelve hours apart, and I only pump between nine and twelve ounces. This isn’t much but it’s close to a third of what he drinks in twenty-four hours. My goal is to make it to one year before I quit.

To some people, that might seem like a failure. However, making it this long, was one of the most difficult things I have ever done and I am proud of myself!

Month 11

At 11 months, I am officially done pumping. The amount I was making steadily decreased because I wasn’t consistent with my timing and I just wasn’t being careful about my supply at all. It got to the point where it didn’t make sense to keep doing it so I took a few weeks and slowly stopped altogether. Didn’t quite make it a year but I did make it a lot longer than I thought I would. Hopefully, this experience better prepares me for my next kid.

What I would do differently

  1. Keep my pumping four times a day schedule longer. If I could have maintained that I probably could have pumped for as long as I wanted (but it was hard and time-consuming.)
  2. Maybe introduce formula sooner?

 

Please comment below with your own experiences and suggestions.

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-This is not medical advice, it is simply my experience with breastfeeding.