This was a really nice weekend. We had a TON of family time.
I also enjoyed my own break – from the pump. My GOD it is so much easier for me to just . . . feed G the normal way*. I am still struggling mightily with this issue while at work, but am trying — trying — not to let it completely overpower the joy that comes with having a baby at this extremely cute stage:
It’s tough, though. On Thursday night I am somewhat ashamed to admit I ended up bailing on a concert that probably would have been amazing (Ben Folds performing with the Nu Deco symphony downtown) because I pumped 12.5 oz, she drank 14 oz, and I was devastated. Crying at the end of my last pump session at work. Feeling a combination of anger (at our culture for “forcing” me to go back to work when G is so young) and guilt/shame for not being able to do what others find much easier. I was also exhausted. I chose to stay home, pump 2 oz at 9 pm, and go to bed rather than having what would probably have been a really special night with Josh.
I can’t tell whether sacrifices like this are right “for this season” or just completely insane. But I am looking forward to the “season” ending. I am promising to myself right here and now that at 6 months I am going to 100% chill about the whole breast milk / pumping thing. 10 weeks. 70 days. I can do this . . . I think.
Friday through Sunday were a million times better because this burden/stress was mostly absent (though I still wonder about whether I’m ‘enough’ for her when she wakes up 3x in one night . . .). We had a family jam session, a really fun and festive Passover seder, and lots of pool time for A&C.
family shot! (Josh’s parents, my BIL/SIL and spouses, and all the cousins)
Annabel wants a dog.
We will consider her request in approximately 5 years.
Annabel reading to Cameron. This makes my heart melt.
At least her double chin (and arms, and thighs . . .) are reassuring re: her nutritional status
Anyway. It’s Monday. A new work week, and the beginning of a new month. My one and only goal this week is to do my best and not hate myself for the # of ounces I can produce. I will pump 5x/day and will get what I get and not get upset, in the wise words of my children. I also really want to try to keep up with charts, but will not beat myself up if I end up with a pile to do on my day off/weekend (I did 15 at home over the past few days). It’s a season. And before I know it, she’ll be crawling around and it will be summertime.
* Mind you, she still eats 11-12x/24 hours — I counted on Saturday — but at least she’s efficient and it doesn’t hurt like the pump does.
Have been a reader of your blogs ever since the podcast started and loving every bit of it. In fact I was worried when I didnt see a post for most part of last week – was hoping everything was going well with you. As the mother of a girl who is 20 and boy of 15, your account of this period reminds me of mine with my girl all those years back.. Hang in there – you are doing your best – please dont flog yourself for that.. things are only going to get better
Krishna thank you so much. I love comments like these that help me maintain perspective. You’d think with 3 I’d be there already but . . . no 🙂
Hi there! I’m a new reader as I stumbled across your blog when looking for some advice when going back to work/pumping (my little girl is just a few days older than your new adorable little one). Just writing to say thank you. I have really been relating to your pumping/feeding issues–it is amazing this isn’t discussed more, but it is nice to know there’s someone else obsessing with the same things. Pumping hasn’t been too terrible for me, but I’ve limited myself to twice a day for my own sanity and she gets a few ounces of formula a few times a week and it is what it is. After several days of panicking at every red light that I wasn’t getting home fast enough to nurse, I decided I didn’t need to be living like that. Anyway, all that sleep-deprived rambling to say thank you and you’re doing a great job. Hang in there.
Thanks Ash! I really appreciate you sharing – it helps to know others find this as hard as I do.
If it makes you feel better, I’m on the flip side of this struggle…my 4 month old baby doesn’t like to take a bottle but isn’t quite gaining enough weight. He prefers nursing, but even then, really only likes nursing while sleepy / asleep. So really, he just doesn’t seem to like eating all that much! Luckily, he’s not losing weight but his pediatrician is starting to get concerned so we are going to see a GI tomorrow. So that’s the bright side of your situation – your baby is gaining weight really well, seems to take to a bottle just fine, and does not appear to have borderline eating disorder like mine. 😛 But I totally relate to your hatred of pumping and the resentment of having to go back to work so soon. (I was the commenter on Instagram asking about breastmilk benefits after 6 months – if I can get my kid to consume more by bottle, I am sooo tempted to give in and just give formula. If you have any recommendations on formula, please do share! All my friends seem convinced that American formula is all crap and only imported formula from Germany is good enough.)
I don’t think you’re crazy for choosing to stay in. I do think it’s reasonable for this season, especially when babies are keeping us up at night! The idea of a date night makes me cringe when I think of how late I will have to stay up, how many times I will have to get up to feed in the middle of the night, and how I can’t sleep in because my kids will still wake up whenever they want – which is always earlier than I would like! But we do try to make time for each other after the kids go to bed at 8pm – for us, it’s not about where we are but that we can spend some time with each other. 🙂 One day, we will go back to being cool and going out and staying out past the kids’ bedtimes!
Little babies are so cute but it is so, so hard! I didn’t comment on your last post but I was crying right along with you at the lack of sleep you got when you were on call. We suffered through a similar schedule for a few weeks when our 4 month old (at the time) stopped sleeping. It is hard to explain the amount of emotional dysregulation that accompanies being that sleep deprived. I felt like crying frequently, for no real reason ("I want coffee! But I want to nap! If I have coffee, then I won’t nap!" Cue indecision over and over again, all day long). Add in, for you, full-time work and pumping, and I don’t think it’s that surprising that you are stressed. When I’m that tired, I can’t stop worrying (about whatever thing I have focused on at the moment, the thing is not important) until I have slept. The best I can say is try to imagine what well-rested you might say to sleep deprived you about pumping….. and, look at those squishy thighs and that happy happy baby!! She looks like a squidgy delight 🙂
Anyways, also just want to say sorry you are struggling. I’m only on my first baby but am finding it joyful but extremely hard.
I think many many women need to supplement once they start work and I am 100 percent positive that I will once I go back to work this time around. I also have a giant baby but am not a particularly large woman myself so I feel like I am barely keeping up now and pumping just doesn”t work as well for me no mattter what I do. Most of my friends have supplemented either from their frozen stash or with formula so I have assumed it”s pretty common but people don”t want to talk about it because there is plenty of judgement for working moms even with out admitting you aren”t EBFing. Having a hard time pumping is not anyone”s fault- it”s a crapshoot and the fact that we even have to roll those dice is due to our incredibly broken leave structure in this country (I also received no paid maternity leave beyond what I had saved up of my annual/sick leave). I had to dump my whole freezer supply right when I started work after having my oldest when she developed a milk allergy. That was pretty painful even though I didn”t have that much stashed away compared to many women so this time I”m just not even trying to freeze any thing. I”m just feeding my baby and doing my best to be ok for the rest of my family.
Obviously this is your decision about how hard you want to push yourself for how long and you are extremely well equipped to make it as s third time mom and a physician but I kind wanted to cry when you wrote that you got up @ 5 to pump after your awful call nights. Lack of sleep would also make my supply tank so you really can”t win. Anyway I have so much sympathy for you and hope you get some sleep and some peace soon.
Sarah, it is totally ok to forego date night for sleep. I want to tell you, you went through the same thing with A&C, and things got better. They will get better again. You are superwoman. Next time you”re on call consider hiring a night nanny for the week. *hugs*
Haha it is definitely a school thing. My son says the exact same "you get…." phrase to us. Hang in there! You are doing awesome.
Sarah — I’m sorry you’re struggling. I logged in to ask a question but I’m going to give you a hug instead! You’re awesome — don’t forget it.
(signed a lurker who doesn’t comment much)
Pumping is hard. But you being an amazing doctor and pumping is a superhuman feat.
Have you thought about getting a baby scale (I know you only have a month left). They’re about $45 on Amazon and it saved me so much sanity the first 6 months. Weight checking before and after boob feeds.
Hang in there!
Oh, Sarah, this is hard to read because of the pressure you are putting on yourself. Pumping 5x a day…whew. I also was terrible at pumping and tried everything. For me it seemed to be a relaxation issue (not being able to let down to pump). I’m sure you are doing everything you can, but here are some things that worked a little bit for me.:
1. hospital-grade pump
2. hand pump while taking a shower
3. hand pump by the bed and trying to pump one breast while baby fed from other
I also did the fenugreek pills and power pumping and all the other crazy stuff. And you know what? For both kids, the day after I stopped pumping, I was fine. No guilt or remorse. WIth my daughter I continued morning and evening nursing for quite a while as well.
I’m sorry. It all really stinks, and I feel for the pressure you feel. The thing is though, nothing magical will happen when she turns six months, and nothing bad will happen if you introduce formula sooner. I think it can be easy to set up goals for yourself and be so focused on reaching the goal that you make yourself miserable in the process, and it’s just not worth it. I would not have made it as long as you have pumping…I work mostly from home, so could just come out of the office and nurse, and I was still OVER it at the end. (I am also REALLY skeptical of all the benefits of breastmilk…first, it doesn’t seem like any of the benefits are missed if you supplement, because then she’s getting both…but beyond that, both of my kids wound up vitamin D deficient and we had to give them supplements, whereas they would’ve naturally been receiving it through formula had they been on formula.) If you can, just be gentle on yourself and realize this isn’t a matter where you can succeed or fail….either way she is fed and happy (and so adorable)!!!
I have also been extremely irrational about the pumped milk:drunk milk ratio. My daughter was easy because she hated bottles and took so little during the day. It started out this way with my son and I thought we would cruise through 12months! Then he started liking the bottles around 5mos . one day our nanny gave him 25oz. I pumped 15ish (I thought that was good!).I could not look at her when I walked in the door. It”s hard!!!!! He nurses many times a day and overnight too- but I don”t think it”s related to his milk intake.
Hi Sarah! My baby is two weeks older than G, so I feel ya! I was looking at your chart on insta, and thought I”d throw out an idea. What if you stopped feeding her immediately after every nap? I found my daughter didn”t need those…it was just pleasant habit for us…and she is only waking up at 1 and 430am now. Maybe coincidence, maybe not. Basically, just trying to mix it up so waking isn”t automatically associated with food every time…
Best of luck. You got this, Mama!
Hello! I don’t know if you’ve gotten a comment like this already…but I wanted to chime in to say that I when I was pumping, I could sort of “keep up” with the baby”s needs, but daycare would often make a full bottle (5oz) and then the baby would drink 3-4 and fall asleep…and they would have to dump the rest due to accreditation policies. It just killed me, as it often meant the last bottle of each day while I worked was formula. One day our dr. told me- as I complained about this- that even if your baby only gets a few ounces of breastmilk “he is still a breastfed baby.” Somehow that smile phrase helped me release myself from the guilt of not being about to exclusively breastfeed. Hope that”s helpful…I know this is a hard phase though!
Hi Sarah! This is a going to be a long comment, sorry! I have been reading your blog for probably six years. I really like hearing about your life as a working mom and a super planner. I really relate to your pumping struggles; nursing was really difficult with both my kids and I went to a mix of formula and pumped milk pretty quickly. My oldest got sick quite a bit that first year, and I had some guilt wondering if it was due to lack of breast milk, and the whole experience was pretty traumatizing so I waited almost four years to get pregnant again! I think I pumped for 6 months, but probably just three times a day when I went back to work. I had the same nursing issues with my second, but I only pumped 4 months until I went back to work. I even rented a hospital grade pump and although I got milk faster, it was still a paltry amount. I just couldn’t keep up pumping while taking care of a preschooler and a newborn (hats off to moms who pump while taking care of multiple kids). Anyway, I felt much less guilt the second time because my son weighed more and just seemed more sturdy right away, if that makes sense. Plus it was really nice not to even deal with pumping at work. Anyway, I understand why you track how much G eats every day, but is it possible NOT to track how much you pump every day? Maybe you label your bags so you automatically add it up, but I wonder if you might benefit from tracking less closely. If you track every day then there is that pressure and sense that if you make changes you can pump more the next day. But you might not be able to control the outcome, as you’ve mentioned before. You would probably know when your freezer stash is getting low and then you could decide if you want to try formula. And I also can’t remember, did you never give any formula to A or C? I can only speak for my own experience but we would not have survived without formula, physically and mentally. Anyway, want to add what a great job you’re doing in this season of life and it is a great service to document these challenges for other moms to know about!
Unbelievably, I’ve been reading your blog for some years now and somehow missed the fact that your eldest and my youngest share a birthday, the year included 🙂
Arggh. Wrong post.
Another doctor mum but over the water in the uk, where (at the moment at least). We are entitled to more paid maternity leave than you guys. I got 8 weeks full pay and 16 weeks half pay, which as the main/only breadwinner in our family was a squeeze financially, but with planning and extra shifts before I went off, was do-able. I was so very grateful for that time and would have found it so much harder going back sooner with either of my 2, so am amazed to hear that you”re doing so admirably. Likewise I couldn”t get on with the *^%?!*** pumping either, but my kids were weaning to acttual food when I returned to work so the pressure was less. I fed morning and night and overnight once or twice on demand and pumped if I wasn”t home due to on calls. I still remember how sad I was as the supply dropped off due to this though and my daughter in particular switched happily to formula! I think much of it really is hormonal and outside our control. So give yourself a break! You are doing an amazing thing and you are right to be angry that the expectation to work again so soon after having a baby is the norm.
Oh man, 24 weeks would have been AMAZING. I got literally zero "paid time" – it was all my own vacation and accrued sick/disability time. Although I’m thankful there was enough of this to provide a paycheck during those 12 weeks.