Pumping in Public…With an Audience

The past week has been really crazy for my family. My husband was unexpectedly hospitalized (with Lyme Carditis, which means he has Lyme disease and the bacterial infection has spread to his heart). They expect him to make a full recovery after a lengthy and aggressive treatment of IV antibiotics. breast pump flange

Anyway, this meant I was spending a lot of time in the hospital with him, and I tried as much as possible to keep my kids with other adults, so they could avoid the germ-pit that is a hospital cardiology floor. So this meant I was spending a lot of time pumping at the hospital (so much for my countdown to my final pumping session).

I’m sure I could have asked for a private place to go pump if I needed privacy, but it felt important to me to be in my husband’s room and to speak with his doctors.

I tried to be with my husband each morning when the various doctors did rounds. Inevitably, as soon as I sat down to pump, another doctor walked in the room, heard the whine of the motor, made brief eye contact with me, realized what I was doing…and then never made eye contact with me again.

It would seem as though aging, male cardiologists and infectious disease specialists are still squeamish around human breasts used to create human food. I’d like to hope that it’s the oddity of the pump that set them ill at ease, rather than the idea of nursing in general.

That’s ok, though, because my job was to sit there and pay attention to what they were saying and also to provide food for my baby. More people have seen my nipples this week than in the entire rest of my life. Lucky for me I’m on my third baby and totally desensitized to such things. I’m not sure where I’d be mentally if this was my first child.

I wore a nursing tank each day and used my pumping bra, so I could drape my t-shirt over the flanges and really, not too much was visible to the docs. Except when I was done pumping and the doctors were still there chatting while I unhooked everything and dumped my milk into the storage baggies!

It sure was nice to come home to my actual baby and nurse him in the privacy of my own home, where the only people around were my other sons. They’re so used to seeing me pump and nurse that I’m not even sure it registers with them that breasts might be considered a private part.

My husband came home Friday with a PICC line, so now instead of doctors catching me pumping, the home health nurses get to see me actually nursing my baby in person!

Have you pumped with an audience? Leave us a comment to share your experience. 

Accredited Breastfeeding Counselor!

I have exciting news! I have finished all my course work and am now an accredited Breastfeeding Counselor with Breastfeeding USA!Breastfeeding USA

It’s been a slow process (getting pregnant with my third son did nothing to speed along my studies!) but I’m so excited about my new opportunities to support mothers by offering evidence-based support and information about breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding USA is a great organization whose mission is to provide evidence-based breastfeeding information and support, and to promote breastfeeding as the biological and cultural norm.

That’s it right there, but it means so much. What I hope to do with this organization is support working mothers who wish to provide milk for their babies at home. These mothers run into so many barriers to meeting their goals!

My other great hope is to support mothers breastfeeding after cesarean, particularly those mothers with babies in the NICU. I think these are some of our most vulnerable breastfeeding mothers, and they are stretched so thin with so much worry. I’d love to be an ear of support for them as well as provide factual information in the midst of messages from staff members or relatives who might be…well, less supportive.

Finally, since writing is what I do best, I hope to help Breastfeeding USA develop more comprehensive online articles for moms searching for information. Maybe you’ll read some of them here as well!

Where’s an area you could use more support on your breastfeeding journey? Leave us a comment to let us know!

 

#LoveWins: Supporting All Moms

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The Surprising Snip: What I Didn’t Know About Vasectomies

I have 3 sons, aged 5, 3, and wee. When I’m out in public, strangers either ask me if I’m “trying again for a girl” or else they tell me I have my hands full. The truth is that our family is complete now. We’re all set! And so my husband signed up for a vasectomy.scissors

I’ve always had this vague, gross awareness that my father had gotten a vasectomy, because my family makes odd jokes about it, so I knew this was a thing that existed, but I didn’t know the particulars until I was helping my husband get ready for his.

I did not know:

  • Urologists book months in advance! We had to call in October for a late-December procedure
  • There’s a consultation appointment prior to the procedure
  • Vasectomy is not an immediate pass for pregnancy-free intercourse. There’s a period of time after the procedure where the dude is still fertile
  • Men must get their semen tested following the procedure, and sometimes it takes multiple tests to get a sperm-free result, which means using a barrier or other method of birth control in the meantime
  • More vasectomies are scheduled during March Madness than any other time of year, according to my friend who works as a urologist
  • Most practices schedule vasectomies on Fridays so men have the weekend to recover and then return to work on Monday

Apart from all those things I didn’t know, I learned that there’s a difference between urology practices on what sorts of medications patients get for the procedure. My husband was prescribed a Valium prior to the procedure and 24-hours’ worth of narcotic pain reliever for afterward, which meant he couldn’t drive himself to/from the office.

Other practices just prescribe ibuprofen afterward (everyone gets anesthetic during)!

Apparently, the worst part of the whole thing is the shot delivering the pain killer, which the urologist described to my husband as similar to “getting punched in the balls.” My husband said afterward that this was an accurate assessment.

He was asked to shave his scrotum prior to the procedure and told to bring bike shorts or a jock strap to help contain swelling afterward. Then, he nestled into the couch with a bag of ice and proceeded to ask me for nachos or cookies every time I stood up for the next 48 hours. I called in for backup help with the boys, since it was too much for me to take care of everyone all at once.

My husband had instructions not to lift anything heavier than 10 pounds for a week following his vasectomy, which meant he couldn’t lift any of our children, not even the baby. He could, however, hold the kids on his lap if I handed someone over in frustration.

While we got a prescription for the follow-up testing, he was not given a receptacle to transport his semen to the testing facility. We chose to use a breastmilk storage baggy for this purpose, because who has time to drive to Quest and ask for a container prior to the testing?

So, even though we knew for sure our family was complete with this last baby, we’ve now made it surgically so. To use the words of the inquisitive old people on our street, we’ve closed the factory. For us, this was a great decision and it was the least-invasive option for our family. Our health insurance fully covered the procedure, and we haven’t looked back.

Did your family opt for permanent birth control? Leave us a comment to share your experience. 

Image source: jamesrbowe via Flickr

The Final Countdown: Stopping Pumping at One Year

My last-ever baby is 10.5 months old. When he turns one, I will stop pumping my milk for him while I’m working. I have no intention of weaning him, but boy! I’m excited to never pump again. Has anyone ever sat down to a breast pump and thought, wow! Isn’t this great? No. 

I only . . . → Read More: The Final Countdown: Stopping Pumping at One Year

Milk Myths Busted!

Breastfeeding moms have information flying at us from all directions, and it’s hard to separate evidence-based information from anecdotal evidence, especially when people we care about seem to speak the loudest. We know that sometimes, things work for individual people, but this does not mean a habit or practice will work for the larger community. Here, we . . . → Read More: Milk Myths Busted!

Is My Baby Self Weaning?

“I think my baby wants to wean. He gets upset when I offer the breast.” “My baby only nurses for a second and then pops off. I think she prefers solid food.” We hear many mothers of babies around 7 to 9 months old express similar concerns–their babies seem disinterested in breastfeeding. Or even . . . → Read More: Is My Baby Self Weaning?