funny kind of place

I find myself in this odd place. Every morning Trav and Gwen leave for work and school. I sleep, setting my alarm for 8 a.m. so I don't get too too far off my schedule (night owl that I naturally am). I am more well rested then I have been in ages. My maternity leave is more then half over, and I am going to start setting that alarm earlier and earlier, getting myself back on schedule, while hopefully keeping this non-sleep deprived feeling that I hadn't experienced for a while before now.

I've kept track of days of the week by necessity, a dentist appt last week, a trip to bring some baby items to a friend due next month, and before that, visits with the family. If it weren't for those things, my days would blend together so blurrily that I would have absolutely no way to tell them apart. I have more appointments in the near future to keep me on track: a hair appointment, another trip to the dentist, a massage appointment, and a (long awaited) tattoo appointment. In between, I read, watch TV, take care of little errands and tasks that have been put aside for way too long.

Its the last week in January, and I already feel February's arrival and the end of my leaving coming. I want to go back to the routine of work, yet I wish I didn't have to ever. The only reason to want to return (other then seeing some lovely friend's faces again), is that this in between place feels so surreal. Its hard to believe that I was pregnant, and now I'm not; except my body is not back to what it was before either. I'm more relaxed then I can remember being, but its impermanence sits just on the edge of my consciousness. This non-routine is something I could get so used to, but I just can't allow myself to.

If I didn't have to go back, I wouldn't. I'd fill months with all of the little house things that there never seems to be time for, I'd read all the books that sit in stacks waiting to be read, I'd do daily yoga at home (something I'm not really capable of at the moment), and I'd cross off all of my to dos. I've made a good start of it, but always there is more to do.

A young coworker of mine called with a work question, and asked if I was bored yet. All I could do was laugh. It would take me years to get bored.


feeling full hearted

A girlfriend from high school days came over on Friday. She brought her fiance and daughter, and we hung out for a few hours, which was really nice. The past two weeks have gone by really quickly, and I'm enjoying my time at home, but it was really nice to have someone pop by and break up my solo days! Plus, she's getting married next year, and she made my day by asking me to be in the wedding!! 

Saturday dawned early, with Gwen coming into bed with us at 5:50, and not going back to sleep. Yawn. I let Trav sleep a bit, then we headed to the grocery store. After a shower and a lazy afternoon I did something truly exciting... got dressed in my normal, pre-pregnancy clothes!! A real bra, non-maternity pants!

The big occasion was a dinner with the family, and the head of the surrogacy organization. It was a great dinner, a lovely (unexpected) last visit with the family, and just a fun night. Gwen hit it off with the surrogacy head's son, and they hung out all night. I got to have my first drink since before I started meds for the transfer (a glass of a nice red, and then a glass of a really great champagne), and I was able to give the family another 35 oz (155 oz total!).

On our way home I talked to my brother's fiancee, and I'm going to be in their wedding too (this summer)! What a weekend for feeling the love.  :-)  I feel like I'm in my 20s again, with all these weddings (my cousin is getting married later this year as well).

Sunday was a rainy, cold day with ice warnings in the morning. A very good day to stay in. So stay in we did! First Trav let me sleep in (until 11, I haven't done that since I was a teenager). Then Gwen and I never bothered to get out of our PJs. Trav and Gwen put away the Christmas decorations, Gwen and I did some playing with dolls and her bat cave, and when the afternoon rolled around, we relaxed with a movie.

There was also some puppy snuggling, which made me very happy. Gwen snuggles with Daisy a lot, but I think this was one of the first times Daisy has snuggled on Gwen! Love those two.

Trav and Gwen are back to work and school today. I'm back to my relaxing days of recovery (today's big task: put away some laundry, and maybe vacuum). The family is off to the airport, and back home. What a full-hearted weekend!


nursing vs. exclusively pumping

In talking with the parents before baby boy's birth, the mom expressed to me her wish for him to have breastmilk. Being a lactivist myself, I was happy to hear that, and more then happy to offer to pump for them. Not only would that provide the baby with great colostrum and milk, but it would help my body recover. Having nursed and pumped for a long time with Gwen, I thought I knew exactly what to expect, but I can definitely say that exclusively pumping is a different ball game!

30 oz of colostrum and transitional milk
Now obviously the biggest difference was the absence of a newborn in the house! Most people choosing to pump are doing so still with a baby around, which would obviously change the experience. So please read the rest of this with that big caveat in mind!

So lets start with the differences: for me, pumping meant only waking up once a night vs. 4 or 5 times a night with nursing. But that pump meant getting out of my warm bed, walking downstairs, turning on the light, putting together pump parts, and sitting there in the cold for 20 minutes. I infinitely prefer rolling over, grabbing a baby, and popping her on the breast! Even if it is multiple times a night. I was also able to cut out that pump once my milk was in, and I knew they were heading home soon.

My milk took a little longer to come in, but that might have been because of not having a newborn to remind me of eating time. Without that constant reminder, my pumping was inconsistent for the first few days, which definitely slowed things down. Once my milk did come in though, it became a lot easier to remember when to pump (my body lets me know!).

Babies are much better at getting milk out of the breast, so I did run into a clogged duct (on each side!) pretty quickly; but I learned fast to help the milk from the back work its way down to ensure that didn't happen again.

One unexpected bonus to pumping was getting to actually watch my colostrum change into milk. The CLEC in me was very interested in seeing in person the changes in color and amount from sparse, yellow colostrum to abundant, white "mature milk."

60 oz of milk in the family's fridge!

Though seeing the amount was a double edged sword. Intellectually I knew that the baby's stomach was very small at the beginning (still is!), and that they need very little milk to fill it in the first days. However, having last pumped for a 2-year old, and having been used to getting at least 5 oz, it was hard not to worry about the 1-2 oz I was getting at first.

Speaking of which, not having to be as strict about pumping helped when we wanted to go out somewhere, but one of the biggest differences between nursing and pumping was having to time feeding/pumping sessions: I was fine with nursing in public, but obviously I'm not breaking out the pump in the middle of a public space (for a million reasons!). So I do have to be aware of when my next pump will need to be to avoid massive discomfort!

This, again, would have been less the case if I had been providing 100% of the baby's nutritional needs, but it was assumed from the beginning that I would provide as much milk as possible, and they would supplement the rest with formula*. Since they were staying close enough to visit, but far enough that I wasn't up to the trip for the first few days and couldn't do it daily while recovering, I would stockpile milk for a few days, then deliver, then stockpile, then deliver. 

I was used to both nursing and pumping, thanks to Gwen, but not pumping from the start. This time it was relatively pressure-less (absolutely no pressure from the parents, a little from myself!), since they knew there would be some supplementing. However I can see that for myself with my own child, pumping from the beginning out have absolutely been a stressful thing for me. While nursing can also be stressful at first, its easy enough to pop them on the boob when in doubt. They control the flow and can comfort nurse if that's what they need (which helps with production). Comfort nursing doesn't really work on a bottle, and it certainly doesn't help up your supply.

That said, emotionally it was a wonderful way to feel connected with the baby and family. I felt like I was still supporting them in a very real and tangible way. Obviously it doesn't evoke the same feelings that nursing my own child brought up, but it still made me happy to do. And that is one of the biggest similarities!

Differences aside, I'm so glad that I could do this for the family. It was one more rewarding aspect to this whole incredible experience.

* In the end, in addition to what I pumped and fed him during the first day when we were together at the birth center, I gave them just over 120 oz 155 oz; or enough for about half the time he was here in the states.

I am continuing to pump, while I slowly wean myself down (I do not want to deal with clogged ducts or mastitis!!). I'm freezing that milk (60 oz so far) and plan to donate to a local mama in need.