breastfeeding & pumping & being a working mother

My goal when Jackson was born was to breastfeed him for one year. I didn’t really know what I was asking of myself, my emotions and my body, when I set that goal. I was lucky. First of all, I had helped so, so many women start breastfeeding when I worked L&D, so I understood the basics and knew the tips and tricks for starter success. Secondly, I was anatomically set up for breastfeeding success – not too big, not too little. And lastly, I made plenty of milk.

The first three months of Jackson’s life I was tremendously busy with school, but was on maternity leave from work, and a significant amount of my pumping went into the freezer, because I was able to feed him at my lunch breaks when he was at home with the nanny. When I went back to working 12 hour shifts at the hospital and Jackson went to daycare, I had to learn a good pumping system. I’d pump right before I left for work, and twice during each shift. Some days it was easy to slip away from the activity of the hospital floor to pump, other times it took a little more planning and sometimes I just had to say things had to wait, because pumping was really important. Like most pumping mothers of today, I spent my pumping time catching up on FB, blog reading, and making phone calls home to check on my baby. I also tried to eat a snack every time I pumped, making the most of my time. I’d pump about 10 minutes, which really isn’t a significant amount of time, but it was enough time to pump more than enough for Jackson to eat. While pumping gets old quickly, it has been worth all of the headache. It really has.

Now, Jackson is 10 months old (let’s be real, almost 11 months old 😦 ) and my body is no longer over producing. I’m making just enough to send to daycare the next day. When this first started to happen, I began to panic, even though I find it nice to not be freezing milk constantly. I have a stash in the freezer, too, should I start to not keep up, but I think I’ll make it through the next 2 months. Then I get to start the process of weaning, which will probably be equally hard on both Jackson and I. Jackson still nurses 3 times in 24 hours directly from the boob during those day when I have to work – evening, mid-night, and morning, and gets 2 bottles at daycare. Once he’s a year old I’ll keep that up until I dry up, but I will not keep pumping. Will not. I’m proud of myself for providing this for Jackson for a year, even when I couldn’t always be physically present. It’s been one hell of a committment. And, it’s been worth it.

The days I stay home with Jackson and I don’t have to pump are awesome (like today!!). It’s just us, and I love it. Women who are afforded this luxury full-time are lucky, and I am jealous. I am excited to move on with my career and the next steps that are in my path… but I also wish that we could afford to have me stay home. I wish I didn’t miss those little moments and was afforded the ability to fix every problem throughout the day. However, this is the life I knew I’d have. These are the sacrifices I knew I’d have to make. And I’m really excited to be a nurse practitioner!

I have made a decision and accepted one of the positions I wrote about, and I will fill you all in soon. I am officially done with all of my graduate school commitments. ALL OF THEM. I just have to attend my hooding ceremony in August. And take boards. My life has made some of the most dramatic changes I’ve ever encountered in the last 12 months. It has been amazing, exhausting, and crazy.

I now hope to have a smidgen more time to blog, and I hope to provide an interesting and somewhat original insight into working motherhood. And make some mommies out there feel okay that their child watches Frozen at least once per day, eats Gerber graduates snacks instead of organic, and has more toys than he knows what to do with… but is SO, SO loved.

10 months

I’m not sure why, but this turning of double digits in months has me all emotional. Or maybe it’s that I was able to spend a 4-day weekend with him over Independence Day and got to soak up all of his baby goodness.

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He is amazing right now. Truly, every day he’s learned something new. He’s mastered “real” baby crawling and gets everywhere he wants to be in a hurry. He’s gotten the grasp of “no-no,” although he tests those boundries constantly. He possibly ate dog food last week 🙂 if it’s good enough for Nella, it must be good enough for him, too, right? He pulls up on everything, and often greets me in the morning with a big smile while standing in his crib. He wants to walk – but he most certainly can’t. He prances around on his tiptoes and high steps while we hold his hands.

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He is a momma’s boy right now. I fix all problems. He crawls behind me from room to room, needing to know where I am. He uses me as the ultimate jungle gym when we play on the floor. He is my sun, I am his moon. I am already dreading weaning… but I am very ready to ditch the breast pump, so after he’s 12 months I’m planning on feeding him in the morning and at night when we’re home together until I run dry. He can have frozen at daycare until that’s gone, and then it’s moo-moo milk for the little man.

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He likes pretty much anything we’ll feed him for food. He had (pureed) steak 2 weeks ago and loved it… yummy beef! He pops open the puffs containers with his bottom teeth and gets at them himself if we let him. We try not to let him, as he typically dumps them everywhere. He really likes graham crackers, and he likes feeding them to Nella even more. She’s found a new best spot, which is right next to the high chair.

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Mostly, he’s just a normal little boy. He loves baths and swimming and swinging. He loves food, his dog and cat, his mom and dad, and crawling everywhere. He sleeps pretty good now, still up once a night most of the time, and I won’t get real serious about breaking that habbit until he’s weaned.

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And yet… he also the most amazing little boy. His eyes sparkle when he’s excited and are the saddest eyes ever when he is sad – like his daddy, he speaks through his eyes. His blond hair has just a touch of red in it – it is so soft, and fluffs up when he’s swinging outside. His skin is still soft, but his little knees are getting tough from exploring the world while crawling. He still only has 2 teeth – and I hope it stays that way until after he’s weaned. I mean that.  He talks to us in babbles. You know what he’s thinking based on tone inflection from those babbles. I wish he could talk like this forever because it’s adorable – but I also cannot wait for him to say mama and really mean me, not just be another babble in his vocabulary. He chats at himself in the mirror while he’s in his carseat, if only I knew what he talks about with himself, probably about how much he loves his new big-boy car seat because he can see out of the window. He got too big for me to carry in the infant carrier, so we upgraded. (it made me so sad to wash up the infant carrier seat and know that the next time I can use it will be with a different baby).

He is our amazing, funny, little man.

And in 2 months he’ll be a year old. That hit me last week and I panicked for a second, because I hadn’t thought about a party yet. I think I have one mentally planned now. It will, of course, be 400 miles away from our house, which makes it a big (BIG) pain in the butt. BUT, that is the best way to make sure family can be involved. And my baby brother is getting married 2 days after Jackson’s first birthday, so we’ll be on the other side of the state anyway. Convenient or not.

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graduating from grad school

I haven’t talked much about school in a while. Let’s be honest, I haven’t talked about much in a while on my blog, as it is just enough for me to keep up with monthly Jackson updates.

Two weeks ago I went in front of my graduate committee and defended my final project and my entire graduate education. This was a big deal, because if I didn’t earn passing marks I would be “held back” and not allowed to graduate until December. And a big deal, because it is kind of like the precipus of grad school. So, I stood there and presented my project, my statistical analysis, etc., and then answered nearly two hours of questions regarding not only my project, but also anything they wanted to ask me about over my five-year NP curriculum. FUN. Like I said, this was a big deal.

I passed. Which means I am now just waiting on a date to test for my national certifying board exam and finishing up my last two weeks of clinical time. Graduation is August 15th.

Passing was a big deal, worth getting TWO sets of flowers over.

Passing was a big deal, worth getting TWO sets of flowers over.

I currently have three job offers on the table. All of them have perks and downfalls, and Jesse and I have been discussing this quite a bit, trying to determine what is best for our family.

JobA: This is a family practice position at a local clinic where I did the majority of my clinical time – I love the staff and the atmosphere. I would have no call time, no holidays, no weekends – just 40 hours, probably in 4 days per week. Downfall? The pay is barely above what I’m currently making as an RN, which doesn’t give me much to work with as far as paying back my loans.

JobB:  This is also a family practice position with the local clinic/hospital.  I already work in this hospital, so I know the good, bad, and ugly of the company already, and I’m well acquainted with the staff – this is both a bonus and a drawback, especially since I work in the nursing role right now, but one day would walk in as a NP and be expected to almost both be a new person and yet be the same nurse I have always been. I would have call-time, work a few weekends and holidays. I would probably cover some extended hours into the evenings. I would get more acute care experience also, which would serve me well in the future no matter where we live someday. I have racked up quite a bit of sick time here, since I’m already an employee, and would hate to lose that (since I’d love to have another baby soon, hopefully!). I will have good CME reimbursement and a decent amount of vacation time. And they do have a loan repayment program.  The salary is better, but that’s obviously because there’s more time involved here, which would be less time with my family.

JobC: This is a “fall out of the sky” opportunity of my dream job. The day after passing my oral boards, I received a phone call from my old OB/Gyn office in our hometown – their current NP is leaving at the end of the summer and they were offering me her position! This clinic is ran by a physician I adore – I worked with him as a nurse on L&D, he was my physician, and he was my women’s health/OB preceptor. He knows how I work and I know how he does, too. There are no holidays, weekends, or call time. AND I get to assist in surgery in the OR. This was a dream come true and I would have accepted the job on the spot, except, there are no open places in my husband’s company to transfer to right now that are within driving distance of our hometown, which is 350 miles away from where we currently live. We are going to send out some resumes, but the job we’ll move for for him is pretty specific, and we want to stay with a co-op because their benefits rock (think even infertility care coverage!!).  I know deep down that I am probably going to have to decline this position, which breaks my heart, but I have to do what’s best for the whole family. Jesse worked hard for his degree, can I cannot ask him to put that by the wayside for my dream job, it just wouldn’t be fair, since I have job offers here. Maybe God will intervene and a job opening will pop up for him, but realistically, we’ll be staying here. And as one of my preceptors told me, “You don’t want your first job to be your dream job. You need to learn how to be a NP, then go after your dream job.” We have always hoped to move back to the east side, closer to family, friends, and our roots, but this may not be the time. And, since this physician sought me out, I’m hoping that in the event that we do move back in the future, he would consider adding me on to his practice then… 🙂

There are worse problems in the world than three good job offers, I know this and I don’t want to sound like I’m whining. I have been so, so blessed and just hope I take the job that best serves my family, my career, and my heart.

Until then… just a little more time until graduation. Just a little more time until boards. Almost there!