Mommy Moment: Meet Your New Best Friend

As I mentioned in a previous post, and everyone who has attempted it will tell you “breastfeeding is the most unnatural natural thing you will ever do” and I can only say from my perspective that nothing rings more true about the premature baby experience than this. 

The day after Monkey was born Michael and I headed out to Babies R Us and picked out the highest rated, most compact, most expensive breast pump we could buy. Breastfeeding was by far the most important thing for us to achieve and we were going to do it no matter the sacrifice. Now as a side note and a piece of advice I will give about this is get the insurance they offer that allows you to easily return it if there are issues. When we got back to the Ronald MacDonald House to sterilize and set up the pump we opened the box to find several parts broken. I have never returned a pair of jeans as easily as they exchanged the pump for us… but that could have been the tears and hysteria on my face that read “Don’t mess with this mama”.

Once we got everything sorted and had a pump that actually worked it was time to start “building up my supply” and because pumps are not babies and I hadn’t  been able to hold Monkey I had a long road ahead of me. This meant every 2 hours in the day time and every 3 at night I was to pump for 20-30 minutes or until 5 minutes after I stopped leaking, which ever came first. Which in theory sounds like a lot of work but in truth is was expanentially more work than what appeared at first glance. Each pumping session began either 2 or 3 hours from the beginning of the previous one, so if you began pumping at 12noon when you finished at 12:30 you had 90 minutes to lable the milk, store the milk, wash and sterilize your pump parts and with whatever time was left eat, sleep, or do whatever else you need to to get by and then prepare to start again. The day time pumps were not so bad, they helped make the time sitting on the unit fly by which is a blessing when you are there for weeks on end, and really what else did I have to do while watching my Monkey in an isolette all day. Where the real struggle was and where you learn to make good friends with your breastpump is those middle of the night sessions where you move slower so even though you have that extra hour it probably isn’t used for sleep but for remembering what day it is so you are labelling the milk properly, or crying because the hormones and exhaustion have taken over and you “just can’t” watch another cat video, or see another favourite get kicked off Big Brother or the Island or whatever mindless television you are watching to make the time go by and take your mind off of what is happening. 

From what I could tell for a lot of moms on the unit this went on for a few days, maybe a week, and then their littles started demand feeding and you were only building supply in the fridge on the unit for when you weren’t there for a meal and at night. This was NOT the case for Monkey and I. This schedule not only lasted the entire time Monkey was on the unit, but continued after his discharge for about 2 weeks. This was because even though Monkey had mastered breathing to his full lung capacity, breathing while in deep sleep, and waking to demand food on a semi regular basis, he refused to feed orally. I give him credit though, how many of us juice or drink smoothies because they are so convenient you can even work out and lunch at the same time. Well he brought it to a new level with his NG feeds where he could sleep and eat at the same time. And it wasn’t that he was unable to bottle feed, it was that he just didn’t want to. It was moments like this where Michael and I realized how much of our personalities were genetic.

Thankfully at this point the breastpump and I had a solid relationship and we had the pumping sessions down to a science. I could pump enough mls for a day in one session so from time to time I could skip a session at night to sleep. My freezer was overflowing with extra to keep up with the demands of a baby gaining several ounces a day. And with the help of my husband and reaching out to a lactation consultant Monkey finally made life a little easier for me and began nursing on his own. Now I have to give props to all the formula feeding and exclusively pumping moms out there because those extra steps are a lot of work, because I am reminded again of all the work it takes. You see between Christmas and New Year I became too sick to nurse Monkey and had to revert to an albeit much less taxing pumping schedule to maintain my supply and was reminded of those long days and nights from 9 months ago. So keep on moving forward with your feeding goals Mamas no matter what you choose, you are doing what is best for your babies and families and no one can make that decision for you.

Mommy Moment is a weekly post that covers my thoughts, feelings and experiences as a mom. Come by every Monday to read about what it’s like to be a once career focused mom of a premature baby, who sometimes solo parents, loves cloth diapering and often bites of more than she can chew.

Mommy Moment: A Mother’s Instinct 

Shortly after Michael and I got home from our honeymoon we learned that we were expecting our first child and due in May of 2016. This was such exciting news, baby would be the first grandchild on my side of the family and the first in 3 years on Michael’s. Everything was going to plan; which is pretty typical for me. I am a planner like no other according to my best friend Alissa.

The pregnancy went along smoothly, my prenatal appointments looked great but in the back of my mind I kept thinking “there’s something wrong”. I would often say we need to have everything ready by the end of March because you never know what could happen. At one appointment I broke down crying to the doctor saying I was worried there was something wrong and no one was telling me. I was reassured that the baby was healthy and I had absolutely nothing to worry about. 

I kept attributing the worry running through my mind to first time mom jitters, but boy was I wrong… and extremely accurate.

Easter 2016 arrived and Michael and I spent the weekend at Mass, and celebrating with family. I felt great after just getting over probably the worst cold of my life. When I returned to work on Tuesday I teased my officemate that I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions all weekend and that maybe I would go into labour in the office… his biggest concern since finding out I was expecting.  I thought I was hilarious!! On Wednesday I started my day a little late, a voice told me to take my weekly bump shot before leaving for work because it could be my last. Like I had been doing for months I pushed that out of my mind and rushed off to the office. 

That entire day I felt off, I struggled to sit and stand and had no appetite. On my way home I decided to stop by my clinic and thankfully my GP was working walk in. He did an non stress test and said everything seemed ok and I was probably dehydrated from my cold so go home, rest, drink lots of fluids and if there is any blood or sharp pain go directly to the hospital. So I did just that… all of it.

On March 31, 2016 around 2am I woke up and went to the bathroom and there was the tiniest bit of blood. I debated (can you believe it, I DEBATED!!!) waking up Michael to go to the hospital but thankfully after months of fighting it I let the little voice win. We packed up a few things because my hospital bag was not ready and we headed out. 

While waiting in the exam room at the hospital and having nothing to look at but the giant clock on the wall I realized that the cramping that had been going on since weekend were about 3 minutes minutes apart. After the doctor examined me, Michael was told I was being admitted and would not be going home until baby came whether that was in 6 hours or 6 weeks. 

Later that afternoon after hours of more poking, and ultrasounds Michael was sent home to get my things because I had only thrown a shirt and an extra pair of underwear in my purse because when packing that night I was certain this was not happening. The nurses put me in the bath hoping it would slow labour because I still hadn’t progressed any further than my exam at 3am. 

At about 2pm my water broke, Michael was still gone and the little voice said you couldn’t have done anything different except pack your hospital bag. Thankfully Michael made it back to the hospital just minutes that felt like hours later and at 2:50pm in a room full of labour delivery nurses, obstetricians, pediatrcians, and a NICU team of nurses and respiratory care specialists our son was born. He cried, Michael cut the chord and he was taken away to be examined by the NICU team. Then he stopped crying…

Our little bundle was whisked away to the NICU and Michael followed where his journey of several respiratory treatments began to stabilize him. Over the next few days we watched the team of nurses and doctors perform procedures and treatments on him to stabilize his breathing so he could come home, and after 36 days he did. And now he is a happy, healthy, growing far too quickly 8 month old Monkey.

I will post more about our time in the NICU and how we managed to get through that difficult time soon. 

Mommy Moment is a weekly post that covers my thoughts, feelings and experiences as a mom. Come by every Monday to read about what it’s like to be a once career focused mom of a premature baby, who sometimes solo parents, loves cloth diapering and often bites of more than she can chew.