Medication to dry up your milk supply

Our night nurse Cheryl has been a great help, support, and resource to us since day 2 of our baby’s life, when we returned home from the hospital. At 9pm sharp that evening, she showed up with her expertise and wisdom in tow. She has taught us how to properly swaddle (and not using the usual method), how to bathe our baby, how to manually stimulate her when constipated. She has given us tips for burping, for increasing my milk supply, and for ensuring the baby does not get gassy from the foods I eat. She is now helping us stretch her sleep so that hopefully in the near future, our baby can sleep through the night. Given she is with us on average about four nights a week, she has spent more time with the baby than anyone else other than the two of us.

She wasn’t very talkative in the beginning, but as time has gone on, she’s become more conversational and open about everything. She knew that I was struggling with my milk supply and encouraged me to keep going. She also has very strong opinions that “breast is best” and encouraged me to continue nursing despite the baby’s weak suck. She told me the story of one of her previous clients who was adamant about NOT breast feeding in any form, whether that was directly from the breast or pumping. She was dead set on her baby being 100% formula fed even before birth. As soon as she got home from the hospital and her milk came in, she asked her doctor to prescribe her medication to dry her milk supply up. Honestly, I felt pain hearing this; I have tried so hard to increase my milk supply, and then there’s this woman who wanted the total opposite and just didn’t want to give any breast milk to her baby. To each her own, but ouch.

Cheryl made it really clear she hated this approach, but hey, it was her client, so she had to keep her mouth shut and just deal with it. Every mother has their own journey and their own decisions to make, and that includes how to feed one’s child. “I think that’s really selfish, but hey, I don’t judge,” Cheryl said, rolling her eyes. “Everyone has to choose for themselves. I never said anything.”

Well, we are all entitled to our own opinions. I just thought it was funny that she had to try to pretend not to care while working for this client.

When an obsessive mom takes photos of her breast milk bottles

In the beginning, I was only pumping a few ml of breast milk, which is considered normal. But 1 to 2 weeks into the journey of pumping  and during the triple feed program, I was still at best producing only about 1 1/2 ounces of breastmilk, with the random fluke of 2 ounces just once or twice. And I knew that the baby’s appetite would only increase as the size of her stomach increased as she grew. As I made a number of changes, including getting my flange size and type corrected, as well as increasing my number of power pumps so that I was doing them every single day since January 20, I have seen an increase in my supply, but the change has been gradual day over day. Chris has a Google Sheet he uses to chart all of the baby’s eating patterns, whether she is having breast milk versus formula and what type of formula, poops and pees, as well as time of day. I added two additional tabs: one for breastmilk output by time/day, as well as one for a pivot table to show this easily day over day. And I would be lying if I said that I did not get excited when I started seeing that my output was increasing. Not only did I get excited, but I also started taking photos of my combined output when I had reached certain levels, so if I finally reach 3 ounces, then I would take a photo of it. When I reached 3 1/2, I took a photo of that. And likely, when I reach four or five for one pump session, I will be taking photos of that, as well. Hell, one day when I put together a scrapbook documenting the babies first few months of life, whenever I get a chance to do that anyway, I will likely be including photos of breastmilk bottles… Just to remember and fully document my breast-feeding and pumping journey and how obsessed I was about this during this period.

I may never be able to fully produce enough breastmilk to 100% feed my baby with food that my body produces, especially given my relatively late ramp up one month in, but I have made peace with that. A big reason that I wanted her to have breastmilk and only breastmilk in an ideal world is because I hate the American formula industry. Yes, fed is best, but… Let’s just be real. Breast milk is the best milk. That is just a fact. How can any type of formula or milk made outside of the human body be better for a baby? It was designed to be the perfect food for a baby. That is just mother nature. That should not offend mothers who choose to formula feed. 

It is absolutely disgusting that mainstream brands of American formula such as Similac actually have hideous ingredients in them such as corn syrup. Corn syrup does not belong in a baby’s diet, much less a newborn baby’s diet. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that parents should not include any refined sugar in a baby’s diet (after starting solids, obviously) when she is one year of age or younger. If that is the case, then why the fuck does formula include corn syrup — and the most common and popular brand of formula in this stupid country, at that?? It’s like we are training babies in this country to have an immediate and early addiction to sweet, and even worse, CORN SYRUP and other processed nasty foods.

If we are able to reach about 75 to 80% of her diet to be breastmilk only, then I will feel satisfied and like I did enough to increase my output and ensure her diet was what I wanted it to be. This is my motherhood obsession.

When the husband goes back to work

On Monday, Chris goes back to work. He has 26 weeks of family leave in total, but he chose to take just seven weeks upfront. Given that he had 26 total weeks, I didn’t think that it made sense for him to only take seven weeks upfront. When would he use all of the other 19 weeks? He was only planning to use about a month or so at the end of the year to go back to Australia, so I had no idea how he planned to use the other weeks. And I told him that it would get messy if we were to hire a nanny and then tell her that we didn’t need her for big blocks of time because he would be on leave. That is a very easy way to send the signal to your nanny indirectly that she should look for a new job.

Both Chris and I are extremely privileged by American standards in terms of the amount of family leave that we both have. I have 16 weeks, and he has 26 weeks off. Americans are lucky to even have one week off, as there is no official family leave that is recognized at a national level (the Democrats tried and failed to push through 12 weeks of leave, and are looking at a dismal 4. This is despite the fact that OUR tax payer dollars are paying for federal employees, which include Congress, to have 12 weeks of family leave). That goes to show how little this country values families. It’s quite pathetic and absolutely infuriating, and every day that we have gone further and further into my leave, the more viscerally angry I have gotten about how sad our society is. In Australia, new moms get an entire year off. It is very similar across all of Europe. The United States is the only industrialized country in the world to not have paid family leave. And yet, people who are so used to how stupid our system is defend it and say that they should not be responsible for paying for other people’s choices to have children. This completely ignores the fact that the same people benefit from future generations being born. Who the hell is going to be fund their Social Security? Who is going to be doing all the work at the stores and businesses that they need to survive?

So given our privilege, I told Chris that he really should be taking more time upfront and he disagreed. Men have a lot more pressure to not take all of their leave, even if they work at a company that has generous family leave. He was worried about how it would affect his career growth at his current company, plus general perception. While I understand all of this, I also am looking at how our day-to-day has been structured over the last seven weeks, and I am genuinely concerned.

While there are certainly pros and cons of having your baby exclusively nursed, one major pro is that whenever you feed your baby, you are actually interacting directly with your baby and taking care of her right then and there. However, when you are pumping, the only thing you are really interacting with is… the damn pump. And when you have bottles connected to your breasts, It is very difficult to try to hold your baby or feed her, particularly if she is still a newborn and needs to have her head held up. So I got worried about how I was going to be able to balance feeding her on schedule while also accommodating her grazing habits… Along with my pumping schedule, both have to happen every three hours during the day and one has to happen before the other… Because I cannot allow my baby to starve while I pump… That makes no sense. I am pumping milk specifically for her to eat. Having someone else bottle feed her has allowed me to pump on schedule pretty much every day in the last seven weeks. It has also given me a little free time to do things like shower, go to the gym, cook, clean, and nap. If I have to bottle feed her and pump, especially given that I pump seven times a day, this would be very challenging for me to accomplish all by myself with no help at all. I told him this, and he said that he would see how this would go for the first few days or the first week. So, I am bracing myself.

Pointy nipples

My nipples do not feel the way they did pre-breastfeeding. In fact, they do not look OR feel the same. They are incredibly pointy now, which can mostly be blamed on using my electric breast pump so often. I was even told that for some women, their nipples stay that way and never go back to normal!

When going to the gym these last few times, it was a challenge to figure out what bra to even wear. The first time, I squeezed myself into one of my pre-pregnancy sports bras, which fit fine throughout pregnancy, But now, my nipples almost felt like they were being squeezed in and being inverted, and my breasts definitely were not happy with me after. The second gym workout, I tried to go sans bra altogether and just with an oversized t-shirt, and that was also terrible: my breasts were bouncing up and down like I’d never experienced before while on the elliptical, and it was also just very uncomfortable. Finally, the third visit, I did what felt the most comfortable: I wore one of my pregnancy/nursing bras that I started wearing in the second trimester of pregnancy onward, and my breasts were not only supported but comfortable. Plus, my nipples had space to exist and breathe.

So who knows what my nipples will be like after my breastfeeding journey with Kaia is completed. They may remain pointy. They may go back to pre-pregnancy size and shape. All I know is that this experience has really amazed me in terms of how much my body can change just because I birthed a baby into the world.

First workout since baby’s birth

Today, I finally decided to do my first workout since giving birth to the baby. I had already had my six-week postpartum checkup on Monday, and my doctor had cleared me for exercise. I was actually feeling up to it even before that but decided to hold off on it anyway… partly due to laziness, and partly due to just not being in the mood between feeds and pumps.

Well, I suppose I was a bit aggressive, as I started with a one-mile jog on the treadmill, followed by about 20 minutes of core and leg exercises. When I began the jog, I felt pretty comfortable and light on my feet. But as it progressed, I started feeling like someone had put weights on my pelvic floor region, and it felt quite heavy. I went for about ten minutes and stopped to stretch, then proceeded to do core and butt exercises, which felt pretty comfortable and normal. But it’s been hours since that workout, and my pelvic region still feels heavy. When I sneeze now, it feels similar to the discomfort I felt in my pelvic region shortly after giving birth. I guess my clearance for exercise really didn’t factor in pelvic floor health, huh?

Pelvic floor and its importance and care are really ignored by the entire mainstream medical community here, and it’s so sad and pathetic, especially given it is the norm in postpartum care in the EU. I will need to continue doing kegels and find other pelvic floor exercises to do in order to strengthen myself down there, but obviously with no help from my doctor. I guess running and jogging will need to be on pause until my pelvic floor strengthens, whenever that may be, and I’ll need to do low impact cardio like elliptical and walking until then.

Weight loss since giving birth

During pregnancy, I gained about 27 pounds. A woman of healthy and average weight can generally expect to gain between 25-35 pounds during a singleton pregnancy, and so that basically means I was average in my weight gain, as well. Within the first week after giving birth, I lost 11 pounds. This is likely due to the baby (about 6 lb), plus the loss of the placenta, umbilical chord, as well as the amniotic fluid that protected the baby within the uterus. I was told that with breastfeeding and pumping, I would be back to my pre-pregnancy size and weight in no time. But I was checking my weight once a week each week since giving birth, and my weight loss so far has stagnated to just 12 pounds overall despite consistent nursing and pumping, which confused me. My stomach is almost back to pre-pregnancy size, and I assume that the excess flab I still have there is not from my uterus, but rather from the fat that my body created in my core to protect the womb. This just means that once I start going back to the gym more regularly that I’ll need to rely on exercise to get back to my pre-baby size and weight… whenever that will be.

Mucus and snot sucking to another level

So, I previously wrote a post about how snot sucking is one of the pleasures of becoming a new parent to a newborn baby. While I did take some delight in sucking snot out of my babies nose, I did that thinking that the situation would be isolated and she would only have the occasional booger for me to remove.

Unfortunately, what I thought would be an occasional booger ended up being daily boogers. And then, it progressed into mucus that she started developing in her nasal passages. We started noticing that it sounded like she was breathing heavier, and when she would cough or cry, She definitely started sounding more congested. And our Night Nurse mentioned to us that she needed to use a bulb to suck out some of the excess mucus because there were some nights when she was waking up because she was so stuffy and trying too hard to breathe. It’s normal at this time of year given the cold weather, the night nurse said, so nothing to be concerned about. As you could imagine, this did not sit well with me: the thought of my baby struggling to breathe really scared me, so I wanted to do everything we could to clear her. This ultimately meant sucking out snot and mucus before bedtime right before her 10 PM feed, and then also again before her 10 AM feed. She certainly did not enjoy this process because… who on earth would enjoy having anything sucked out of their nose? But alas, it must be done.

Sucking out her mucus and boogers ended up becoming a much lengthier task than I had originally imagined. While before, when I would suck out her boogers, it would usually only take a minute or two, in the mornings when I need to clear her, I end up having to allot about 10 minutes to getting all of the mucus and boogers out. And I am completely disgusted when every morning, there is so much mucus that I am shocked that it came from such a tiny little nose from a tiny little human. Part of the reason that it takes 10 minutes is not necessarily the fact that it is so deeply lodged and I am trying to suck it all out. It’s actually because I need to take breathing breaks for myself so that I don’t totally exhaust myself and need to pass out after getting this task done. So as you can tell, it is taxing on both the baby and me.

Chris will often times check in to see how much mucus there was that I was able to dislodge. And, being a very hands-on dad, he tends to stand by and look at the end result in the tube instead of actually watching this task in progress. And several times, I have asked him if he would like to suck the snot and mucus out of our daughter’s nose. And each time, he will respond, “No, that’s OK. You can do it.”

So, he is a hands-on dad to be clear, but he really does not enjoy tasks like this. He takes zero pleasure out of doing things like this… Whereas he knows that I actually feel a sense of accomplishment after doing it myself. But some days, it really does take the wind out of me… Literally. And I really want to just take a nap after. But I have a child to take care of, and so I can’t really do that.

6-week postpartum check-up and sexpectations

In most western countries, in the weeks after birth, new moms are attended to with in-home nurse visits, pelvic floor therapy, and attentive medical services. In the U.S., you won’t see your OB until six weeks postpartum, and that will be for, at best, a 10-15 minute visit. Here, she will ask you how you are feeling (are you experiencing postpartum depression?), examine your vagina (or c-section wound, if you had a c-section) to see that the stitches have healed, and basically send you on your way and give you the seal of approval that you can move forth and have sex and exercise once again! It’s pretty ridiculous how basic it is, and it really highlights how little care women get in our society in general.

My doctor said that I was fully healed, which I already knew I was. She asked me what I was doing about birth control, and my gut reaction was to smile and let out a little laugh.

“Abstinence?” I responded, frankly. “I’m so exhausted and sleep deprived that the very last thing on my mind is sex!”

Even though I had technically healed, I didn’t fully feel “normal” down there. I cannot imagine having sex or even putting a tampon into my vagina at this point. How do people have sex in the few weeks after giving birth, and how the fuck do men try to force or guilt their partners to have sex….??? I’ve read too many awful stories about this and it makes me so sick… to my vagina.

Avoiding dysfunction by blaming Omicron

My one cousin who lives in New York has suggested that he, his wife, and son come to our apartment to visit our baby for the first time. While in regular circumstances, this would be a happy visit, in my circumstance, or at least, with my cousin’s life, this is not a happy visit. He has a miserable work life and and arguably worse family life, and he complains like no one else I’ve ever known in my entire life. Woe is always him, and he’s always a victim. Chris can’t stand him for obvious reasons and does not want him coming over. So the easy way to push this visit out is to blame the rising rates of positive Omicron cases and to say we are holding off on visitors due to this, which my cousin would easily understand. I can’t use that excuse forever, but at least for now, I can keep his negativity at bay from my family.

Grandparent demands for photos and videos

It is often said that parents, when they become grandparents, become totally different in the way they interact with their grandchildren. In the handful of Asian mom groups I am in on Facebook, it’s a common experience shared that when we were children, our parents were extremely strict, never said “I love you” or expressed any type of loving emotion towards us to our faces. Yet when they interact with our children, who are their grandchildren, they suddenly become super affectionate and actually start saying “I love you” directly to them.

My parents have become obsessed with Kaia, constantly demanding photos and videos as though that’s all I spend my days and nights doing. My mom finally got the hint that I was no longer going to answer the phone when she called 4-5 times per day, so she’s laid off and occasionally calls and sends a text message. But when I don’t send a photo or video for a day, she immediately gets worried and just jumps to the conclusion that something is wrong, which is really annoying. My dad would email me (because that’s how he likes to communicate with his only living child) and ask if everything is all right, and to please send photos.

On the one hand, it is cute. On the other hand, I do not exist solely to send photos and videos of their grandchild to them. I have to actually… TAKE CARE OF and raise this child, and it’s not a hobby. It is my responsibility, and I am not going to just send photos and videos at their beck and call.