Feeding My Baby

        No one really prepares you for what it’s like to keep a human alive from what your body can produce for it to eat.  It’s a full time, high stakes, pressure filled, anxiety ridden job let me tell ya. 

For me, it all started when they threw that beautiful baby boy on my chest after squeezing him out of my J. He looked at me with love and admiration in his eyes for a solid 30 minutes before he realized that his solid stream of yum-yums directly into his tummy had been cut off by his grandmother and a scissors and he was STARVING.  He then spent the next 30 minutes rooting around trying to find a giant boob with a protruding nipple filled with milk.  He found the big boob, but much to his frustration and dismay, he found a first-time mom with flat nipples and no idea how to get things working. 

And that’s how it starts.  We tried and tried at the hospital for a couple days.  I used a nipple shield with some positive results and waited for the lactation consultant who kept picking the perfect time to drop by while Clayton was off getting tested for this or snip snipped for that.  By the time we finally connected, about an hour before we were supposed to get discharged, it turns out I was doing everything wrong.  I was holding him wrong, putting the nipple shield on wrong, and wasn’t manually pumping to get it all going.  So… my baby was starving.

She sent me home with some syringes and told me to use my electric pump to get that sweet gold colostrum out of my boob and syringe it into my baby’s mouth because he needed those calories stat.  But also, I was to continue to nurse from the teat and figure that shit out too. Oh, and also, I wouldn’t start making actual milk for 3-7 days so I could pump all I want and just little droplets of gold would come out and I had to make sure the baby got those.  I went home on a mission. 

You know the saying, “No one ever cried over spilt milk”?  Well it is 100% verifiably untrue.  I can prove it by letting you know I did in fact cry several times over split milk.  Because there’s nothing like having an electronic milk pumping machine milk you for 15 minutes for a half an ounce of liquid gold that your baby literally needs to survive and that you can’t duplicate or make again spill on the counter while your baby screams because it’s starving.  Oh, and you also can’t go out and buy formula STAT because there’s a pandemic and the shelves are cleared out and you can’t bring a baby into a store or they will call CPS on you.  So… boob milk it is!

My first spilled milk

Fast forward after 2 days at home with the nightmare of nursing, pumping, screaming, crying, (yes, me, Clayton was patient and angelic) we went to the pediatrician for the first time. She told me that the baby had lost 10% of his birth weight and I needed to start supplementing STAT and come back in 3 days to prove I could feed my kid.  Well there went my pride in showering, brushing my teeth, and dressing Clayton in the cutest most gangsta going out outfit ever.  I needed to run home and figure out how to feed my baby. 

First time out of the house and headed to the pediatrician

Good news is that I was determined and had a lady gang of mothers ready to give me all the advice and get us over this hump.  First decision I made was that I was done breast feeding.  Way too stressful for both of us, and it was inevitable that I was going to start to have to pump when I went back to work, so I decided then and there that I would become a milk making factory and bottle feed my baby whether I could make milk or not. They call me an Exclusive Pumper.

Best decision I’ve ever made.  I got to pumping.  I pumped and pumped and my milk didn’t come in at first.  I was still getting little bits of colostrum, half an ounce tops.  My glorious best friend Cynthia is also an exclusive pumper with a 10 month old son. She is an over producer making 50-60 ounces a day so she became Clayton’s wet nurse for a few days until my milk arrived.  She handed off over a hundred ounces of her son’s extra milk that I was able to give Clayton by bottle, as his encounters with formula resulted in some hard core spit up and upset tummy.  It really does take a village, and now I understand how life worked before modern technology like pumps and bottles and formula came into existence.  You handed your baby off to a mommy who was a breastfeeding pro so the kid wouldn’t die while you struggled. 

I went hard core into the internet and researched how to get my milk flowing and did All. The. Things.  Here is my list:

I use an app Cynthia suggested called Pump Log which allows me to track how many ounces I pump, how long I pump for, how much I stash in the freezer, and how long I have to go before I have enough milk saved up and can stop pumping! The only thing this app doesn’t have which I wish it did was a way to track when and how much he eats. I’m having to do that in the notes portion of my phone and then weekly creating an average to help Pump Log calculate my last pumping day. I started pumping one week after having Clayton and made 1.5 ounces from both boobs.  Last night at 3:00 am (middle of the night is my best pump session) I made 14 ounces out of both boobs.  Since March 19th I’ve been strapped to my pump for 2 days, 19 hours, and 30 minute and made 17.9 gallons of milk.  $%&*@*% wild.  I have saved up 950 ounces of frozen milk in the freezer so far which will stay good for 3 months.  If any of my friend have space in a deep freezer, I could store it for 6 months…  Anyone have room for some boob milk?

At home I have a pumping spot where I use the Medela Pump in Style Cynthia passed down to me.  (She just finished pumping and has also given me her Spectra S1 pump which I’m excited to try.) My insurance covered the Ameda Mya which I LOVE for being portable.  One of my proudest mom moments was pumping on a boat with the Ameda Mya.  YOLO.  The Medela is a work horse though.  I can finish a pumping session in 10 minutes on the Medela vs 15 minutes on the Ameda Mya. 

One of my proudest mom moments… pumping on a boat

Pumping is terrible, but also a way for me to stay busy and competitive on my maternity leave slash pandemic quarentine.  Some crappy things:

  • Washing bottles and pump parts.  I have a sweet set up and an efficient system including refrigerating my pump parts during the day so I don’t wash as much as some people probably do.  Plus, these reusable Medela Steam Bags save me a shit ton of time on the sanitizing front. 
  • One of my nipples is a nightmare.  The other is great and hasn’t changed at all, but one of them had some trauma from being pierced as a young wild youth and doesn’t quite love the normal sized flanges, so I’m thinking of trying some custom ones.  It cracks, bleeds, and occasionally Clayton drinks some pink drink himself.  Not as often now as in the beginning, but…  it’s always sore.
  • Having to find the time to pump.  I’m pumping every 4 hours during the day, and it always seems to fall in the middle of something that isn’t opportune for whipping off my shirt and attaching contraptions to myself.  Hence the boat pumping.  Also, taking care of Clayton makes it hard.  I usually only pump when he’s sleeping, but he loves to wake up at inopportune times. 
  • Feeding myself is near impossible.  Between taking care of the baby, being strapped to an electric pump, letting the dog out, trying to shower/brush my teeth, finding time to cook/feed myself is laughably impossible.  I’ve had amazing friends that set up a Meal Train and have been feeding me, which I couldn’t have lived without during the first couple of months.  Now, I need to get my shit together and start eating healthy and cooking my own meals.  Those stout beers really add up and I need to be taking care of this weight loss that’s supposed to come with breast feeding/pumping instead of fighting it.  Started Weight Watchers a couple weeks ago.  Time to get serious.

Now that I’ve overwhelmed you with information and TMI at that, I’ll stop talking about it.  I literally could talk about it all day though so if you want to FaceTime and see my system and talk more about it, I would love to.  Also, if you have any more tips or tricks to make life easier in this part of momming, I would love it!

Thanks for following me on my journey,


A Birth Story

It all started at 2am on Friday the 13th of March. Some may argue it started the day before when I was in Chicago for lunch with a colleague and client and then a happy hour and gala Thursday night. (I certainly YOLO-ed it up until the last moment!) I did eat a delicious raw oyster Thursday night at The Harbor House so that may have done it.  (Side Note: Totally worth it.) I woke up at 2 am to my dog staring at me and whining, and then a text message from my best friend Tetter in Arizona.  My first question was for my dog, Sushi, and that was, “What the heck? Go back to bed!”  (Side Note: She’s a really good sleeper so it was very unusual for her to be awake and alert at that time of night) My second question was for Tetter and that was “What the heck are you texting me for at 2 am?” Turns out both of them had their spidey senses on, because I was having contractions.

Tetter had me download this contraction timer app, and the app told me that my contractions were a minute or so long and 5 minutes apart.  Both Tetter and the app then told me to go take a shower and eat a meal.  I took the shower, shaved my legs, and blow dried my hair but didn’t eat because I wasn’t hungry. (Side Note:  I’m an idiot.)  After the shower I timed my contractions again and they were about a minute long and 4 minutes apart.  Both the app and Tetter then told me to make sure my bag had everything I needed.  So I put away some laundry. (Side Note:  Dumb.)  After that they were about a minute long and 3 minutes apart so both Tetter and the app told me to call my ride to the hospital. 

I call my neighbor, Apostoli.  Apostoli is a friend of mine who lives in the same building I do.  We are the same age and over the past couple of years have become good friends  At this point it’s 3 am.  I say: “Hi!  Can you take me to the hospital?”, Him: “Why?” (Side Note: This has always been the plan, he’s been calling himself “The Waterboy” for months) Me:  “Because I’m having a baby.  Can you meet in the lobby in 10 minutes?”  (I would be discombobulated as well if I got a call at 3 o’clock in the morning!)

5 minutes later he’s at my door grabbing my bag and the baby’s car seat and acting with a sense of urgency. Which I am not. We get down to the lobby and he already has his car pulled up and heated.  On the way to the hospital I’m fairly chipper (Side Note:  The contractions just feel like period cramps at this point so I’m not super uncomfortable) and asking him if he thinks we should go through the McDonald’s drive through just in case. (Side Note: Have you seen McMillions on HBO? Mind blowing.) He looked at me sideways and said, “Did you call your mom?”  I told him I was going to wait until they checked me in and were for sure going to keep me.  He said he was going to wait with me until my mom got there.  I said, “No.  You’re going to drop me off at the door and then go home.”  He looked at me with horror and said, “Um, we obviously didn’t discuss this part of the plan. I’m not doing that.”

We pull up to West Allis Memorial Hospital (Side Note: I was born there!).  I get out and thank him for the ride.  He rolls his eyes, gets out of the car, grabs my bag and the car seat and follows me inside.  I roll my eyes, we head to the emergency OB wing.  We get in, I walk to the check in desk and say, “Hello!  I would like to check in.  I’m having contractions that are 3 minutes apart.”  I then turn around and say to Apostoli, “You can go now”.  He looks at me with horror and goes to the counter of nurses who are staring at us with confusion and amusement in their eyes.  I can tell he’s asking them to take care of me until my mom gets here.  I shout, “He’s just the neighbor!” I finally convince him to leave, he reluctantly does, and I smile at the nurses who are staring at me in horror.  I realize they think I just forced my baby daddy to leave.  I say, “Oh no, he really is just the neighbor, he gave me a ride, I’m doing this alone.”  Still blank stares. I point to my stomach and say, “IUI and Sperm Donor.”  At this point they all let out a sign of relief and laugh. One of them says, “Damn, that’s a nice neighbor” and one of them looks at me and says, “OMG, I thought you were just [messing] with him!” 

They then put me in triage and set me up with monitors on my belly.  One to measure the baby’s heart rate, and one to measure my contractions.  They checked my cervix.  (&$%* I hate that more than anything) I was one centimeter dilated and 60% effaced. They ask if my water broke, to which I didn’t know.  They roll their eyes. (Man, lots of eye rolling in such a short period of time!) I thought it might be a little moist downtown, and the night before I thought I peed my pants a little on the way to the bathroom, but peeing my pants had become fairly normal the past couple of weeks so maybe it happened in the shower? Since I wasn’t sure, they swabbed me and told me it takes 20 minutes to get the results to find out if my water did break or if they were going to send me home.  (Imagine me thinking about getting sent home.  I for sure was going to be calling an Uber and not putting Apostoli through that trauma again. He now calls himself, “The Godfather”) 

The doctor who swabbed me peeked her head in 20 minutes later and says, “Your water broke.  We are admitting you.  You’re having a baby!”

I call my mom (It’s probably 5am at this point) and she gets really excited and says, “It’s the 13th!”  What’s interesting about this is that March 13th was my Grandpa’s birthday.  Ever since he passed 11 years ago, I laid claim to his name for my firstborn son, even threatening my sister in laws for the rights to the name on their marriage nights.  (Side Note: Clayton’s middle name is Jonathan. That’s my brothers name. So Clayton is named after my grandpa and my brother, two of the most amazing men I know in this world. Since Clayton doesn’t have a father (yet) I wanted to make sure he knew he was surrounded by amazing male influences) I told my mom not to get exited because the doctor and nurse were smugly telling me that I was going to be there for a LONG time.  Apparently first-time moms are in labor for days sometimes and I wasn’t dilated enough for them to think the baby was coming anytime soon. 

By the time my mom got there around 6am, things had gone from 0-60 in 7 seconds.  I was 2 cm and 80% effaced and starting to swear like a sailor.  (Yeah, I guess that isn’t anything new and exciting is it?)  I had previously told the nurse I was going to be going au natural with the birth like my mom did because anything my mom can do, I can better. Apparently, they’ve all hear that before because the nurse went over my pain options with me anyways.  About 10 minutes later after a few rip roarin’ contractions, I asked her to tell me a little more about the oral pain option, and she left the room to get it.  Minutes later when she came back with the oral pain meds, I asked her to tell me a little more about the epidural. (Side Note: What the actual heck with contractions, that shit is serious business.)  Because it was now around 7 am I had to deal with a little thing called “shift change” and didn’t get the epidural until 7:30 am.  Most brutal 30 minutes of my life.

Let’s talk a little about this epidural business.  It’s officially a yes for me.  I had previously been a no, or an “I’ll go as long as I can”, but now I’m 100% yes.  They put a little drugs in your back and you just can’t feel your belly or downtown area.  You can feel everything else!  Legs and feet move… In fact, I guess I had a pretty good one because everyone kept complimenting my epidural.  I was like, “Thank you, we’re pretty happy with it as well.”  My favorite part of the epidural was the catheter.  I stayed SUPER hydrated and never had to go to the bathroom!  I drank about 80 gallons of chicken broth and apple juice so my bag was extra orangish yellow and had to be emptied all the time. I wish it was socially acceptable to tip nurses for all their hard work.

My labor and delivery nurse was freaking amazingly unbelievable.  At one point when she wasn’t in the room, I called the nursing station and said, “I can feel something moving in my vagina.” She comes in laughing and said that everyone heard me say that, and then got them to give me a booster in my epidural.  Drugs are amazing.

My SIL Natalie was supposed to be there to pull the baby out, but she was sick and devastated to miss the occasion.  My mom stepped in enthusiastically as volunteer for the downtown business part of things and made it her job to investigate every check they did on my lady bits. A special “You’re Welcome” to all the people that stared into my lower abyss for gritting my teeth and bearing through that Brazilian wax the week before.  In lieu of Natalie, my best friend Cynthia was magically off of work and had a sitter, so she stopped and picked up lunch for her and my mom and came to the hospital to be my birthing partner. 

This is where things get exciting.  I napped from epidural time to pushing time.  Yes, epidurals are that good. Around 3 pm, Cynthia and my mom snuggled on the sofa with an iPad and a headphone splitter to watch “This Is Us” together.  Around 3:01, I abruptly woke and shouted, “I’m going to poop!” and the nurse ran in smiling saying, “We’re having a baby!” The room then filled with people.  A surgical tech set up a table of interesting contraptions for the doctor, and 2 people from the NICU came in ready to assist the baby if need be.  (You may remember, the baby has a Persistent Left Superior Vena Cava, so it was all hands on deck if the baby came out struggling) Cynthia grabbed one knee, the nurse grabbed the other, and the doctor and my mom took the downtown view with the surgical tech behind them. 

Sidenote: Earlier in the day, the nurse had goaded me a little.  She said new moms can push for hours so I shouldn’t get too excited about the baby coming out right away.  Then she said, “But you seem pretty feisty.  I bet you would be a good pusher.”  I, of course, replied, “HELL YEAH I’m going to be a good pusher.”  I don’t know how in such a short period of time she identified my character strengths and weaknesses, but she wins.  I was actively in a competition with myself to push that baby out as fast as I could.

When it was time to push, I would push 3 times with each contraction. Each push was 10 seconds long, all in one breath out, and one big breath in between the pushes.  I was told to curl my body like a shrimp when I did, and push with all my might.  About 45 minutes later, someone grabbed my hand and let me feel the head coming out.  SO COOL. Knowing it was that close, I gave it my all and pushed the baby out.  To put that in perspective.  Imagine an alien movie.  And then imagine a slimy alien being squeezed through a tiny hole and you could feel all of that happening, each and every slimy body part.  That’s how that felt.  TMI? Then the baby cried, the doctor showed the baby to my mom, my mom screamed, “It’s a boy!” and then my mom cut the cord.  They then threw Clayton on my chest and he looked me in the eye and stopped crying, and that’s when I had the most euphoric, out of body, primal, powerful, unexplainable reaction I’ve ever had and never imagined.  I made that tiny human from scratch and he lived inside me upside down for almost a year and then there he was staring me in the eye and basically recognizing me and loving me unconditionally all in a moment. What. A. Miracle. Cynthia caught this live photo of that happening, and I can’t even think of that moment without getting choked up. I’m honored and wildly grateful to have experienced it.

Clayton and I stared at each other for a whole hour while the room cleared out and the doctor did some damage control downtown.  I had it pretty good, only a second-degree tear. It sure looked like she was in The Wizard of Oz when they are putting the scarecrow back together. I could imagine her singing in her head, “A stitch stitch here, a stitch stitch there and a couple of la dee das!  That’s how we work the day away in the merry old land of West Allis Memorial Hospital!” My placenta was interesting.  I asked to see it. It was awesome.

When they finally took Clayton out of my arms they measured him, weighed him and performed his first test, the Apgar Score (which he got a 9 out of 10 on.  Such a winner.)  Cynthia then delivered into my arms a Chicken Cheddar Sub from Cousins that she had gotten for me at lunch and kept in the fridge for me knowing I would need it.  Besides Clayton, it was the second-best thing I had ever held in my hands that day.  It was life. 

So there it is!  Clayton’s birth story. A day to be remembered by all as that also was the day shit hit the fan with the Coronavirus.  Happy to be locked inside with this little nugget but also can’t wait for the world to meet him!

Pain Points of the Final Weeks of Pregnancy

I’m 9 months pregnant.  Half of me is shocked there will be a human here soon.  The other half of me is shocked at how long I was pregnant.  Sheesh!  I’ve been pregnant since June!  The better part of a year!  I think you’re pregnant this long so you can mentally prepare for the dramatic lifestyle change of taking care of a small helpless human that can’t survive without you.  (No, I’m not prepared, to answer your question.)

I’m about to get real with where I’m at in these final days and weeks.  What that involves is some squeamish topics involving bodily functions and medical procedures.  These may be TMI for those of you who do NOT want a child, partners who would prefer to not know the details, people who want to have a child but are on the fence about it, and others that fall into categories like this.  WARNING. Stop reading now.

For those of you who are ready to read the gory details of this final stage…  Here goes.  Let me start by reiterating, I LOVE BEING PREGNANT.  I genuinely don’t want to stop being pregnant.  I love the way I feel, I love the way I look, I love this hard little baby butt protruding from the upper right-hand quadrant of my belly… I love love love it.  I feel like I’m going to be sad when I go back to my traditional 6-pack.  Of beer.  Obviously.  Still would love to be a surrogate right after this or have a billion more babies.

A list of some current Pain Points:

  • I can’t wipe my butt good.  It’s really becoming a struggle.  Between the wild carpal tunnel in my wrist, hands and fingers, the belly in the way, the twisting that isn’t possible…  I feel like the only effective wipe job I can do is to get in the shower.  So that’s shitty.  (See what I did there?)
  • I have 3 pairs of shoes that fit.  One is a pair of bulky winter boots. One is a pair of Vince white tennis shoes.  The third is a pair of strappy gala-type shoes.  I can’t really tie the tennis shoes well.  I throw my foot on top of my knee and then tie it on the side, then repeat with the other foot. Bending to the shoe is not an option.  It’s too late for me to invest in any other shoes, sorry.  This is what you get. 
If you look closely at the white tennis shoes, you’ll notice my knots are off to the side, as I can’t bend down to tie, I can only bring my foot up to me, sideways.
  • I don’t like getting my cervix checked.  Also, I have conducted formal scientific research while getting my cervix checked over the past couple of weeks.  One of my cervix checks was a man, the other was a woman.  I prefer the man.  Long fingers get him to the cervix quicker without having to shove his whole hand up in there.  I thought I was going to prefer the small dainty hand woman, but her fingers were too short so she had to get all up in there and I hate her.  Overall, I don’t prefer getting my cervix checked and will decline this service going forward.  Thank you.
  • I guess I pee my pants now.  Gone are the glamorous days of dating while pregnant and feeling sexy.  This shit is getting real.  I have one pair of jeans that fit and that I feel comfortable and beautiful in.  They get washed every couple of days. Last week I put them on fresh out of the dryer onto my body and then I coughed.  A little pee came out.  I was surprised, and then I coughed again.  More pee.  The third cough made it so that when I peed a third time it was more pee than I’m comfortable sitting in and showing off to the public.  I didn’t have time before my next event to wash them a second time, so I threw them in the dryer and just dried the pee to the pants.  Dry Pee Pants.  Done.  This is life now.
  • I’m up to 26 pounds gained.  I’m RAVENOUS for food and have an INSATIABLE thirst.   I drink all the drinks and eat all the food.  My underchin is starting to fill out nicely.  And by nicely, I mean I’m getting a gobble-gobble turkey neck. 
38 Weeks Pregnant!
  • My vivid sex dreams have pivoted to vivid worry nightmares.  I also vividly fight with people who love me in my dreams.  I’m still sleeping like a world-class award-winning sleeper at 100% sleep quality, but my dreams have really taken a turn for the worst.  I almost called my mom this morning to apologize.  But it was just a dream.  They are all just dreams.  I miss the sexy ones.  Those were cool. 
  • People tell me that I don’t look 9 months pregnant so I do take that as a compliment. Even though I love when pregnant people look like they have a torpedo coming out of their belly. Everyone comments that I’m not waddling yet.  Well, I am an athlete, so I’m pretty quick and balanced on my feet so that’s just never going to happen.  You know when someone parks too close to you and you must shove yourself in?  Well, that’s not a thing you can do with a baby belly.  I actually climbed up and over the seat and Superman-ed my way into the drivers seat the other day, much to the horror of my friends who were in the car.  (Best designated driver in the world up in here!)  Again, I’m an athlete.  Nothing holds me down. 
  • I’m SO HOT.  I can’t sleep in clothes.  I can’t sleep with people.  I can’t sleep with the dog.  Sushi now knows she better relocate herself to the furthest corner of the bed because I will kick her off so fast she won’t know what hit her.  When I’m at home alone, there are not many clothes on my body.  I’m happy I didn’t buy a maternity winter coat because I NEED to have my coat open no matter how cold it is.  In fact, I’m sitting in a café writing this and it’s snowing outside and I didn’t bring a coat with me. And I don’t care. Now I’m editing at home and it’s 44 degrees outside and I have my windows wide open. 
  • I’ve started slowing down a little though, I will admit.  I’m trying to wrap up or consolidate and delegate some projects at work, which you can imagine for a control freak is difficult.  I keep having to remind myself that people do this all the time and the world won’t fall apart because I’m off for a few months.  My amazing colleague who is babysitting my email and accounts while I’m gone literally said to me in front of our boss… “It is my absolute honor to do this for you.  I’ve gone through this, and most women will go through this and it’s our responsibility to each other to make sure no one ever has to feel bad.” *Insert tears of gratefulness pouring down my face for such an amazing teammate here*
  • Still haven’t looked into childcare.  (Yeah, I know, I know, I’m screwed) My plan is to find a college kid for over the summer.  Or a nanny share.  Or a mix of daycare and other care.  Or a stay at home mom that wants to make a couple extra bones once in a while.  Ug.  Must. Focus. On. Procurement. Of. Childcare.

Well, that’s where I’m at!  My bag is packed.  Car seat installed.  Ride to hospital secured.  (My best building buddy has labeled himself “The Water Boy” and is demanding I call him if my water breaks at home because he wants to take me to the hospital.)  Or an Uber.  Or my 3rd Ward Neighborhood Friends have all been notified they are on standby.  Sushi knows something is about to change.  (She loves the nursery and spends a lot of time sniffing things and exploring and trying to play with the baby’s toys).  I’m still trying to YOLO and say yes to almost everything because… life is about to change I’m told. 

Thanks for being on this journey with me!  Next time you read a blog post of mine, hopefully it will be a story of sleepless nights and live baby butts.