Welp, after 4 short months, this day has come: my freezer milk is finally gone.
I have never been a fan of pumping. I find it to be a necessary evil, but I’ve always really really hated assembling all of the parts and pieces, putting on that hands-free bra and hooking myself up like a cow. Since going back to work part-time, I’ve only ever been able to squeeze in one pumping session a day–with GB was drinking two bottles while I was gone–so I was always playing catch-up and not-so-slowly making my way through my freezer stores.
So now here we are. The freezer milk is gone and it’s time to begin supplementing with formula.
With Holden, I pumped twice a day at work until she was 7 months and then gave up and resorted to the freezer. The day I made the decision to stop pumping altogether was straight-up joyous. I think the freezer milk lasted us a few months and I began supplementing with formula around her 10-month mark. I breastfed when I was in her presence and formula-fed when I wasn’t until she was 13 months old and totally over my nips.
The plan with GB will be similar: Breast feed when I’m around. Pump at work (ugh). Mix breast milk and formula when I have milk; and just use formula when I don’t.
I certainly don’t judge anyone who formula feeds their kids but I do feel a little bummed that I’m tapped out so early. The plan is to keep up with the pumping until I just can’t stand it anymore, but good lord do I hate it. Glad to have some reliable back up in trusty ol’ Enfamil.
You may congratulate yourself the morning after that first night with your new baby—even with the nurses in and out of your room all night, you’re still kind of running on adrenaline so the sleeplessness doesn’t bother you too much. You may think, “Hey, that wasn’t so bad. I totally got this.” But… you don’t know. You. don’t. know what awaits.
When I had Holden, a lactation consultant visited my room specifically to warn me about Night #2. There was even a special page dedicated to Night #2 in the “Your Newborn for Dummies (aka You)” manual the hospital gives you. Do not brush off these warnings; be prepared because Night #2 is coming.
This time, I don’t know if I was blocking out my memories of that night in a survivor/PTSD-type situation, or if I was thrown off by the nurse telling me that my little boy would be really sleepy after his circumcision (it’s a trap! Don’t believe it!) but once again, I found myself unprepared for Night #2.
It starts in the evening as visiting hours are winding down and you find yourself alone with your new baby (and possibly your partner if you’ve decided to enlist their support for the night). You feed your bebe one last time before a few hours of sleep… or so you think. But no: this is Night #2, aka New Mom Hazing Night, aka The Cluster Feeding Night aka Nurse All NightNight.
There will be no sleep. There will only be nursing. Every time you take the kid off your nip, he will cry and the only thing that will soothe him will be more nip. Forget about him sleeping in the tupperware hospital bassinet; he will only sleep on your chest with your nip in his mouth… therefore you will not sleep, as the nurses make damn well sure you don’t fall asleep in bed with the baby. You will still fall asleep with the baby in bed with you at least once this night, against your best efforts. This sleep will be fleeting. Your partner will be useless. You will cry. Your nipples will hurt. All the nursing will require frequent changing of your pad sandwich. Your baby will cry while you’re in the bathroom and you will shout, “Okay! Okay! Yes, Mommy will be right there!” out the bathroom door. You may try to make it through the night by watching TV, or reading Twitter on your phone, or ordering little flowered headbands on Etsy at 3am.
You will doubt yourself. But don’t let that baby break you.
Because soon it will be 5am, then 6am, and you’ve survived. They’ll be bringing your shriveled scrambled eggs and blueberry Yoplait soon. You’ll probably be going home today. Your kid is worn out from hazing you and there’s most likely a nap in your future… unless your nesting instinct waits until the day you get home from the hospital to kick in, like mine does. But that’s a different story.
And that, my new-mom friends, is Night #2.
I highly recommend that you check out “Baby’s Second Night” on KellyMom.com for the legit info on why Night #2 is a thing (spoiler alert: it’s because the baby is out of their coming-through-the-birth-canal fog and is all like “WTF?!?” and needs some comfort; and also because cluster feeding helps to build your milk supply) and for some helpful suggestions on how to get through it with your dignity (somewhat) intact. I’m pretty sure that information is what was shared in my hospital manual.
The good news is that it gets better (…and then it usually gets worse for a while, but it’ll get better again. Maybe. Hopefully. Definitely). You got this.
Bottle-feeding moms: how do you get through the terror that is Night #2?
I pretty much had no idea what I was doing when I had Holden. I mean, I seriously had to ask the nurse when I would know to change her diaper. That, coupled with the fact that I didn’t know if I was having a boy or a girl, meant I really didn’t have a clue as to what to pack for the hospital.
So here’s what’s coming with me this time.
Ridiculous(ly adorable) baby boy sleepers and jammies
Teeny baby hats
Swaddle blankets and a burp cloth
Ridiculous(ly adorable) photo props – hats, “Just Born” onesie sticker and little tie (awww)
The boppy pillow and Hooter Hider for nursing
My maternity uniform of nursing tanks and black lounge pants
I’ve been getting some great advice on getting Holden acclimated to becoming a big sister (which will hopefully happen any day now, gah!).
Several people have recommended special toys or activities for Holden to play with specifically when I’m nursing Baby G, so I put together this little Busy Bag for her… with the knowledge that I’m totally going to call it the “Booby Bag,” because I’m inappropriate like that.
The Busy Book: I had a coupon for a free Shutterfly photo book. Holden loves to look at photos of herself on my phone (narcissistic, sure, but it entertains her in a pinch!) and she loves to read, so I made her a book of familiar faces and activities to look at while I’m occupied.
I figure I can add to the bag as I go. I had someone recommend Play Doh and someone else say, “oh hell no” to Play Doh so jury’s out on that…
In all honesty, I started seeing signs not even a week after I wrote that breastfeeding post. I spent my first night away from her, which I think set us on the eventual path of weaning. Then the events over the July 4th holiday weekend got us further off schedule with nursing. And from that point, there was a definite, steep decline in her interest in my boobs… to the point where I would try to nurse her at night and she would just point to her crib. Talk about rejection.
I was so sad to be giving up the nursing (and, let’s be honest, the only thing keeping me thin[er] right now), that I even tried pumping, which I haaaate. It was to no avail, btw; it seems the milk is pretty much gone.
So, Holden is a full-time cow’s-milk-in-a-bottle girl now. It’s a happy time because she’s becoming more and more like a little girl and less like a baby every day. But I’m wistful to be moving on from something we shared for the first year of her life. This watching-your-baby-grow-up-thing is weird.
(yep, totally me breastfeeding in my car at Target when Holden was a week old.)
I’ve been getting some judgey looks and questions lately when people find out that I’m still breastfeeding now that Holden is more than a year old. I get the sense that people think I might be turning into some hippy-dippy weirdo that’s going to breastfeed my daughter until she’s five. So even though no explanation is really necessary, let’s go ahead and talk about my boobies, shall we?
I nursed Holden (or gave her expressed milk in a bottle) exclusively for the first seven months. Around that time, I gave up pumping at work. We had moved into a new office and I lost access to my private pumping space. I wasn’t a big fan of having to hide in the bathroom to pump.
Additionally, in my line of work, it was getting tough to schedule meetings around my pumping times (which were 10am and 2pm). I found myself in meetings that went over schedule, sitting there in agony, unable to concentrate on what was going on as my boobs slowly inflated.
Despite all of those annoyances, it was a tough decision for me to give up pumping. I felt like I was “quitting” too easily, or being selfish. I remember the other women/moms in my office basically giving me permission to stop and to be okay with it.
So after seven months, our schedule was this:
10am: bottle of formula (Enfamil)
2pm: bottle of formula
5:30pm: nurse when I got home from work
7:30pm: nurse before bed
Around 11.5 months, we started to give up the 5:30pm nursing when I got home from work. So now, at a year old, I’ve replaced formula with either organic whole milk or, because I’m lucky to have a relative who works for Enfamil, the Enfamil Enfagrow Older Toddler Vanilla Milk Drink. And I only nurse Holden in the morning and at night.
To be honest, she doesn’t drink very much. I can tell by the fact that my boobs are now even smaller than they were before I was pregnant that I don’t produce much milk. So why continue with it?
It’s a few minutes for us to connect every day, and she seems to take comfort in it. In fact, she casually alternates back and forth between my boob and her Nuk, giving me a look like “deal with it.”
There are, of course, the health benefits for her. KellyMom was my go-to resource for all my breastfeeding questions when Holden was a baby. It’s a great site that provides evidence-based info on breastfeeding, sleep, feeding and parenting in general. KellyMom has lots of info on breastfeeding your child after the first year, including the benefits for the kid, like:
Research shows that breastfeeding toddlers between the ages of one and three have been found to have fewer illnesses and illnesses of shorter duration.
Extensive research on the relationship between cognitive achievement (IQ scores, grades in school) and breastfeeding has shown the greatest gains for those children breastfed the longest.
So, it’s good for her. And it has benefits for me:
Breastfeeding can reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Breastfeeding protects against osteoporosis.
Breastfeeding reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
And, if we’re being completely honest, breastfeeding is 100% the reason that I’ve lost weight after my pregnancy. So, yeah, I’d love to hang onto this for a bit longer… especially because I’m too lazy to actually exercise.
But when Holden loses interest, we’ll give it up and I’ll be okay with that. Until then, those people can… deal with it.
RED ALERT: We have a biter. And I’m not talking about her biting other children. I’m talking about her biting… MY girls, if you get my drift.
Holden is in full-on teething mode, with two teeth at the bottom and two more suckers coming in on top. Let me tell you, those four teeth are not something you want surrounding your… teat. Another fun trick she’s learned is to pull her head back while nursing, taking my mamilla with her, stretching it like it’s a piece of taffy. So that’s pretty cool.
“baby bites nipples” is not a phrase I ever thought I’d google, but here we are. Thank goodness for KellyMom, which was my go-to resource in the early days of nursing and is still just as helpful at (almost) 11 months.
Apparently booby biting is a normal thing when baby is teething and I should just continue as I have been–liberate my nip from her mouth calmly without yelping, because some babies (mine) find the shouting funny and keep biting like it’s a game. Awesome.
I am a little excited to try these secondary options if that doesn’t work though:
If that doesn’t work, pull baby TOWARD you, very close to your breast. This will make it a little hard to breathe, so baby will automatically let go to open her mouth more and uncover her nose to breathe. A variation of this that some moms use is to gently pinch baby’s nose closed for just a second to get her to open her mouth and release the nipple.
Sounds like just a tiny bit of retribution for my aching nippies.