Monday, May 21, 2018

Back to Work: Pumping after Maternity Leave

I have been back to work (with Kenny in daycare) for nearly a month now, which is hard to believe!  Since I've had a few people ask me about pumping as a working mother, I figured it merited a blog post.  Caveat: I'm a first-time Mom who feels completely unqualified to offer advice to anyone on motherhood, but I am willing to share what has worked for me!

I'm very much of the attitude that a fed, healthy baby is the most important thing, so I keep formula samples that we get in the mail just in case.  We used two bottles' worth while I was hospitalized for preeclampsia, but other than that Kenny has been exclusively breastfed.  My original goal was nursing for three months, with a hopeful goal of six months.

Before Kenny was born, I ordered a free breastpump via my health insurance.  I chose the Spectra S2, a closed system pump, based on reviews and recommendations.  During maternity leave, I would mostly use a silicone hand pump on my nightstand to relieve engorgement.  Any milk that I saved, we'd use in an occasional bottle for Kenny when we were out and about.  We figured it was good practice for him.  As work began to approach, I would try to do a morning and evening pumping session to build up a stash for daycare ahead of going back to work.

My pumps, my pumps my pumps my pumps... check it out

Before I went back to work, my Mom and I helped Kenny "rehearse" for daycare by bottle feeding during the day for four days.  This accomplished two goals: training him to accept the bottle repeatedly and determining how much he eats.  The tough part of nursing on demand means you aren't on a consistent schedule or counting ounces like they do at daycare.  But we were able to estimate what I needed to pump and have in each bottle based on those few days!

Now that I've been back at work for a few weeks, I'm averaging 3-4 pumping sessions during the work day.  Sometimes my first session is at home before I leave.  I find I really need to maximize that first session, because my supply is best in the morning.

I also bought a barely used Spectra S1 rechargeable pump via Facebook Marketplace, because keeping one pump at work and one at home for home/travel minimizes the amount of stuff I have to haul on my commute.  Since Spectras are closed system, I feel confident that there isn't a risk of contamination after sterilizing the parts, but you should be careful when purchasing used pumps.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Checking In

You guys, there's so much I could write, but we all know I've sucked at keeping up this blog for the past few months as I've been throwing myself headfirst into motherhood and getting back to my corporate gig.  Yikes, it's been a while...  this space used to be my escape and release in a way, a creative outlet.  Now, I don't get here as often because it's usually easier to wax philosophical on Instagram while I'm pumping...

I love my tiny human.  Kenny is a good baby, and we're in a blissful period where we're sleeping a bit more and enjoying lots of smiles and giggles.  It seems like every time we get something figured out, it changes; babies are 100% a moving target!  But it's fulfilling, and it sort of feels like he's been with us forever.

I've definitely had to say no to more things...  after-work fun, local influencer events, blog opportunities, etc.  I'm exhausted each and every day!  But I did manage to page at our DAR state conference by having Mom stay at the hotel with the baby.  We've also survived a few weeks of daycare, an evening with a non-family babysitter, an overnight work trip away, a week of solo parenting, and a road trip.  Whew!  That's a lot for a little guy who's only been out here breathing oxygen for a few months.  So I think that what's happening in non-essential stuff is eliminated from the calendar, and the stuff I really want and prioritize is making the cut.  That's not a bad place to be.

I'm also "graduating" from regular therapy!  I started using Talkspace over a year ago, because I was stressed out and struggling.  Dan and I were having conflicts about trying to conceive (it can put a lot of strain on a marriage!), I was overweight and overeating, I was navigating work and personal relationships, and I needed an objective ear that wasn't my friends.  Having a therapist in my phone to text or video chat with helped so much.  I went from a monthly video chat and 5x weekly texts to just texts, then to a few times a week, then to once a week texts.  Now, I don't feel like I need the sessions anymore, and my therapist supports me stepping back until I know I need help again.  I made sure I had support from that point, through pregnancy nerves, to those initial baby blues, to my transition back to work, and I couldn't be prouder or happier that I feel so much better now than I have in so long!

I've made sure to do some things for myself since Kenny was born.  I'm still active in the DAR, which I love!  I've gone to Happy Hours (just not 2-3 a week like the old days).  I've gone to Target after the baby is asleep to walk around.  I've worked on my scrapbooks and photo books.  And now I'm taking some time to reconnect with this blog, as I've got a bunch of stuff on my mind that people might find useful or interesting to read!

I have a few posts I'm thinking through, including my latest Stitch Fix recap, my experience going back to work (and pumping!), favorite baby things, and Kenny's 100 Days party/my first Mother's Day!  Hopefully I'll get around to those now that I'm tackling my to-do list to an extent.  But the desire to write has to be > the desire to sleep, and I have to have showered.  Because sometimes you just have to go into survival mode, and put yourself back together when you can.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Nursery Tour

When we found out I was pregnant, we decided that rather than moving to a larger home, we'd stay in our 2BR 2BA apartment.  We have plenty of space (1200 sq ft!), so we felt like it would be better to stay put and save money for now.  That said, with all of our family out of state, we wanted our 2nd bedroom to be a dedicated guest room for extended grandparent visits.  So we decided to share one walk-in closet in our bedroom and turn the other into our nursery.

I've had a lot of friends curious about our "closet nursery" so I decided to share it here.  That said, it's not going to be one of those lifestyle photo shoots, just a completely functional peek into our life with baby!

Outside of the nursery, on my side of the bed, we added a rocker, my Christmas gift from my mother-in-law.  We got it via Amazon, carefully looking for a smaller rocker that would fit that specific space.  We also got a ton of baby books from folks too, which wouldn't fit in the over-door hanging storage I got.  So the wall above the rocker became a baby book nook with display shelves, and the over-door hanging bins became storage for stuffed animals.

Inside the nursery, we were fortunate to have a great space and some closet shelving to work with.  For obvious reasons, we kept the shelves above the crib empty, but I felt confident in the strength of the shelves to store diapers above our changing table.  After all, baby isn't to be unattended on the changing table!  We also love having everything we need for the baby in one main spot, organized so we know where to reach even when we're tired.  Kenny loves the mobile above the changing table too.

Since I took these photos, I've filled up the bottom clothing rack with 3-6 month clothes!

We also chose a mini crib because of the space, and Kenny sleeps in it every night!  It's shorter than a full size crib, and about four inches less wide.  The space is the size of a pack 'n' play basically.

We've also got baby "stuff" in other areas of the apartment, but we try our best not to let it take over the whole space!  I think that once Kenny is bigger, that will be tougher... but for now, it's not so bad!  We have a mini dishwashing/drying station by the kitchen sink.

In the living room, we have two bins under the coffee table that hold books and toys that we use for the day.  We also have a little foldable swing and Kenny's activity mat.  Usually there is a bunch of baby stuff on the coffee table during the day, but by creating designated spots for baby stuff we have managed to keep it pretty tidy in general.

In addition, because I was craving natural sunlight, Dan put privacy film on the lower 2/3 of our patio windows, so I can see clearly outside when standing but be hidden when I'm sitting on the sofas nursing.  Since we're on the first floor facing the parking lot, I really appreciate the privacy, and Kenny and I get good natural lighting all day.

So there you have it!  That's how baby has changed our apartment, and how we created a nursery in our closet.  We like having Kenny "in" our room, so our family can stay in the other bedroom and visit us as often as possible.  I'm sure once he is mobile and getting into things, we will have to childproof and adapt, but for the past couple of months it has worked for us.

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