Tuesday, June 26, 2012

DWITYTD* -- Pump up the Jams

*Do What I Tell You to Do: a series of totally-unsolicited-proffered-expertise-conferred-solely-by-virtue-of-birthing-two-babies...

One of the many delightful parts of the WOHM-itude is everyone's favorite: pumping. The frequent breaks are nice (though definitely cut into my productivity, and since I share an office with my boss/dad I am SO NOT doing the hands-free pump at my desk thang). And I am super glad to express enough that Baby G has her mama-milks when we can't be together (though for a while I couldn't keep up and she was getting one bottle of formula, no shame in that game). I was using a little manual pump at first but soon graduated myself to the mighty Pump-in-Style. A few months of missteps and being super annoyed with the constant washing and clutter of pump parts and bottles and etc... I have finally hit on a system that works for me, thanks to loads of research, ignoring said research, and alternatively following and ignoring the unsolicited advice of other moms. As you do.

Anyway, let's share, shall we?

First, I remember reading somewhere that milk supply tends to be highest in the morning, shortly after your first nursing session of the day. Ah yes, here it is. For me, that was so very not true. If I don't put a good three hours between nursing and pumping at any point during the day, my output is sad. Nothing like dusty, dry boob to make you feel like a failure as a mother. So I wait until I feel ever so slightly uncomfortable for that first session, and then pump every 2 hrs after that. And then once more before bed. All for -- at best -- 16 oz of milk total for the day. It helped to decrease my expectations per this article. I also drink the Mother's Milk tea sometimes and eat a ton of oatmeal.

[PRO TIP: don't be an idiot like me and assume that turning the pump way up is best. Stupid goddamn OW. I start at a high-ish speed and then turn it down as much as possible during the expression phase.]

Too cute! Ow! My boobs!
Lie back and think of England your baby during your session for best results. Seriously, I have loads of video of Baby G being adorable and 1200 other photos to scroll through. Works like a charm, also is good for distracting boss/dad when he wonders why I must take 1.5 hours of breaks every day.

Between sessions I just stick the bottles with the flange and all attached in a plastic freezer bag and put the whole kit in the fridge. With a nice note: "ANYBODY TOUCHES MY STUFF...YOU FUCKING DIE."

Then! My best hack ever! At the end of the day, I cap off the bottles of milk and take apart the pump parts and put them into the baggie to travel home. When I am cleaning up after dinner, I squirt some dishsoap into the bag, fill it with the hottest water I can stand, seal up and swish it around for a bit, poke at the weird tiny crevices with my little brush from my bottles (which also fit right onto the pump, win/win), rinse the parts with hot water and put them on this awesome little drying rack. Every couple of days/when the dishwasher is full, I put everything into this wonderful amazing thing, just to get everything all hot and sanitized.

(Why, yes, in fact, getting excited over plastic bits from Target does give me an identity crisis. Domesticity FTWTF.)

So, there you have it, folks. Much ado for about pumpin'. Any other mamas have any advice to add?

Con muchos besos, A

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Than It is to Rust

I am having a hard time starting this post. Figuring out the tone. Finding a way to convey that I am well aware that he was just a cat, and that if he had to go, at least it was quick, and he was healthy until the moment he died, and knew he was loved (Do cats care about that? He at least knew all his needs would be met with great haste, and isn't that what cats demand of us?).

But, you guys. My cat got run over, and I am sad.

You never know how pervasive these creatures are, the pets we choose to share our lives, until they are gone. I keep seeing him disappear around corners out of the corner of my eye. I catch myself waiting to hear him tap-tap-tapping into the den to sit next to me and purr too goddamn loudly before I start my nightly episode of Mad Men. My heart seized last night when I thought I heard a rustle in the corner where he liked to sleep (on a pile of my maternity clothes that was meant to be bagged and sent to Goodwill but I kept because he liked to sleep on it). Every morning I push the container holding his steroid pills (the stupid guy had asthma, have you ever heard of such a thing) further into our vitamin cupboard. I can't throw them out, yet. His bag of treats is still sitting on the counter, though my father-in-law picked up his food bowl and hid it away in the pantry.

He was the cat we worried about most when we first brought Little A. home from the hospital. Worried, like, would he scratch the baby? Would he scratch up the couch because he is mad about the baby? Our worries were completely unfounded. He was the most awesome cat after all. He would let the baby pull his tail, or a handful of fur, and never once raised a paw. He would give me a oh god please help meeeee look, and I would accordingly unclench the fat fist from whatever body part. But never once, not once, did he even threaten to hurt anyone. Not even when Little A. squished his most-amazingly-soft underbelly, or tried to pick him up by the front paws, or when Baby G poked him in the eye and pulled his whiskers and put his tail in her mouth.

Grey kitty photobomb
Every morning, he would meow his way up the stairs, thump into our bedroom, jump onto my nightstand, meow some more and then grumble around trying to find a place to cuddle in the middle of the family wake-up routine. This Sunday, I woke up to find him already cuddled next to the baby, who was having her post-super-early-nursing-session snooze next to me. I said hey you're not allowed at this end of the bed, and he gave me a very cat you talkin' to me about rules, mama? Psssht. look. And Little G rolled over, delighted to see Kitty! Pull fur! Fur in mouth! YAY! 

A couple of hours later, while we were packing up for a trip to Gramma's house at the lake, and doing the last minute locate-and-lock-down-the-pets routine, Tim discovered his body in the middle of the road. No one stopped, we didn't hear any brakes.

Mama is very sad, Little A., because Grey Kitty got killed by a car, and we are never going to see him again.

Don't worry, Mama. We can get another one, she said, soothingly, and patted my arm. Don't be sad.

But I am going to be sad, for a little while longer, because while it is most likely we will get another cat, we will never find such a good-natured, fat, incredibly soft cat, who I will imagine is gay, into furries, and has a British accent (c'mon, you don't over-anthropomorphize too?)

No, this one is irreplaceable, and now he is buried in his most favorite sun-dappled spot in the yard, from whence he would survey his territory, and protect the chickens, and come dashing when I called for him. For even though Tim brought him home from the shelter years before I met him, the Grey Kitty was truly mine. And I miss him so.

Con muchos besos, A

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Rainy Dampish Soggy Squishy Wet-Everything Blues

Rain rain rain rain rain rain rain rain rain. Rain. Rain. Rain drizzle rain.

You get the idea. It has rained a shitload recently, and all of the rain went into my motherpluckin' basement.

Home ownership. It is lovely for about...3 months out of the year. When the grass in the backyard is lush green, and one can sit on the deck with a glass of wine listening to birdsong, or the entire landscape is curvy white with snow and the air smells new. When the leaves are all burnt sienna and a deer tiptoes across the treeline. Before we have to turn on the heat in the fall or the air conditioners ('cause Mama don't sleep in a hot bedroom) in the summer. When we have a houseful of friends because we can. When the chickens are pecking through the bugs and the kids are on the back porch and I can open the kitchen window and breathe in the fresh Maine air. And smell a little chlorine from the pool.

And then there are the other times. When the boiler craps out because someone *ahem* forgot to call the oil company like she said she would. When staring at a pile of laundry that the dog peed on that can't be washed because the machine decided to be a bitch. And, I found out, when waking up on a Sunday morning to discover the kitty litter box floating on top of 6 inches of water in the basement. Dudes, this was seriously gross. I mean, at least the water wasn't IN the box, but. That is a small comfort. The dank water was actually high enough to snuff the flame to our oil burner, which meant no hot water.

And the cat was so mad about having a swimming pool around his box that he barfed on our bed. 

They're smiling because they can't smell themselves.
I dunno about you, but for me, with two small kids and a dog and a cat and smelly butts all around everywhere, hot water is a necessity. I was not in the mood to go all Little House (which we did several times this winter when said boiler crapped) and put a pot of water to simmer on the stove, so decamp we did to my parents' house, my childhood home. We brought pizzas and grandkids so my folks were not put out. Little A. got to play with my mother's ancient dollies and have ice cream. Baby G greeted my dad with outstretched arms and didn't want to leave his lap the rest of the night (which might have been the cutest thing I have ever seen).

And I had a glass of wine and read O Magazine after the girls went to bed and Tim went home and sump-pumped out the basement because if you're going to have a crappy old house it is very handy to obtain a partner who knows how to fix all kinds of things so take my advice and get one of those. And also a sump pump, and a fire extinguisher, and a good homeowner's insurance policy. By Monday morning, the oil burner was back on, and by that evening, the cellar floor was basically dry.

So we all lived happily ever after, except for all the piles of sodden disgusting crap (some literal, some figurative) in the basement. When you next visit, please ignore the dumpster in the driveway. We're trying to keep it classy around here.

Con muchos besos, A