The Pump Chronicles (+ Marriage equality, Job updates . . .)

1. The Pump:

My new Spectra S2 came in the mail last Wednesday, a full week and a half after I’d ordered it which felt like an eternity because Amazon Prime has made me a wretchedly impatient person. I checked the UPS shipping update page on that order WAY too many times.

In the interim, I scored a couple of free hand pumps. One was the medela hospital kind that looks like a piston and, at least for me, didn’t work at all. It came free from one of the ladies in my local FB breastfeeding group. Then I got another – this time, a single handed lansinoh – from a co-worker and OMG I kind of love it! Obviously, it’s not as efficient as a double electric, but it’s actually come in handy a number of times in the last week and a half I’ve had it. Ansel has slept a bit longer a few nights and only eaten on one side when he does wake up, so I’ll pump the opposite to take the pressure off and score a few extra ounces. I’ve also used the hand pump in the car a few times when I was out at meetings and couldn’t get back soon enough. It’s maybe not the safest thing in the world, but it has helped when my schedule is crazy. I’m also going to try pumping on my way to work with the hand pump this week to up my supply and squeeze out another ounce.

But, back to the Spectra . . .I love it. It’s like night and day in terms of the pain/suction. It uses a sort of vibration type of suction that is much more gentle and also feels a little more like an actual baby nursing. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s still a pump. But its a gentle pump! I’m going to do the PISA part hack so I can use the flanges I prefer and because the Spectra bottles are stupid and I have 8 medela bottles so I have less to wash. I’m hoping the pumpin’ pals flanges boost the comfort even more! So far, I haven’t seen any huge bump in the amount I pump but my use of the Spectra has really been too limited to draw too many conclusions yet. On Wednesday, we had crazy flash floods in Denver and my office got flooded (so did one of our cars . . .because the universe just can’t let us actually get ahead financially . . .) so I worked from home most of Thursday and Friday, and I normally WFH on Monday, so I’ve only used the spectra about 4 times so far. I don’t seem to be one of those women who can eat of bowl of oatmeal and get 2 oz more than the day I ate eggs, though . . .and I pump what A needs, so I try not to let the pictures of overflowing bottles posted to FB nursing groups get me down. In any case, being able to pump for the same amount of time with substantially less pain was always my goal. And that goal has definitely been met. My vote in the pump election goes handily to the Spectra.

2. Marriage Equality: I have a lot of complicated feelings about all things marriage related, political and personal. It’s definitely an historic event, to have same gender marriage recognized as legal across the country. I’m not very surprised at the decision, since all the signs pointed to this being the decision from SCOTUS. And I would be lying if I said I wasn’t happy about it, to some extent. After all, it means my family has legal recognition across the country – no more worrying what states we are traveling to or through and how that might impact how we are legally recognized as a unit. So, that’s good.

But, honestly . . .I don’t think it’s what it’s cracked up to be. Yes, our families are now legally recognized. But queer folks can still get fired from their jobs, turned away from housing, or denied entry to services. Trans women of color are still being slaughtered at incredible rates. LGBTQ kids are still almost half of all homeless people under 21. This thing got SO much money and SO much attention, and it really only is the tip of the iceberg. It really mostly benefits folks who already have some degree of privilege. And if we had fought for it under those pretenses, I think I’d feel more excited about the win. But the LGBTQ ‘machine’ has poured millions of dollars into this one fight, at the expense of many other organizations and causes. And that sucks.

So, it’s fucking exciting, yes. But, I want just as much energy and passion (and MONEY) to go towards reforming (or abolishing!) the prison system that kills queer folks every day,reforming the health care system that robs people of their dignity, the discrimination that the least of us face. And I just think that, without the respectability and easy narrative of marriage, that’s not going to happen. And it makes my heart hurt.

My final note is that the LGBTQ community – particularly the poorest, most visible of us (which usually means low income trans women of color) will face intense backlash because of this decision. It’s already started. This kind of thing happens with almost every ‘win’ but it doesn’t get talked about. So take care of yourselves and each other, and throw some money at your local LGBTQ anti-violence organization. If you’re in Colorado, it’s Survivors Organizing for Liberation – SOL 

3. JOB Stuff (if we know each other “in real life” please keep this on the DL)

So, I’ve alluded to the fact that I have a possible new opportunity coming up. It’s still in progress, but I thought I’d share because I’m thinking about it a lot and why not?

So, one of the school districts I work with (side note: my current job is working at a non profit helping school districts select good sex ed programs, then training them to deliver those programs, writing additional curricula/materials for them, helping them re-write policy, etc. whatever they need to make sex ed sustainable for them) decided last winter that they wanted to hire a specific position to deliver sex ed at the middle school level in all of their schools. They asked me if I wanted the job and I jokingly said, ‘depends on what it pays.’ They took my half hearted not too serious response and ran with it, asking me what it would take for me to leave my current job. Based on the teacher salary schedule, it was quite a bit more than I currently make. Plus teacher schedule – off early, off summers, etc.

While I was on leave, the health program coordinator called me and said that, because of how the district hiring stuff worked, it might be better if they could just contract out my time through my current organization. The problem with that is that 1) my organization doesn’t really do direct service, as a rule and 2) I wouldn’t get the financial and schedule benefits, since I’d still be an employee of the current org. I told her this, and she agreed that it probably wasn’t the best choice.

A few weeks after this, she proposed that I be an independent contractor – create a contract, ask for what I want in salary plus some to cover benefits, etc. I thought this through, did a bunch of research and concluded that while it was a possible solution, it wasn’t ideal. Mostly because it meant holding aside money to pay taxes, buying insurance out of pocket, and no other benefits. I told them this, as well as my desire to do addition training and coordination in addition to the teaching, and they said, ‘ok, we’ll work it out.’

No matter what happens, it feels pretty awesome to have someone want to hire YOU so much, they’ll twist in knots to find a solution. They are currently working on a job description, and I’m currently working on getting an alternative teaching license so I can be a legit teacher. It’s not a done deal, but it does seem to be moving. It could be as much as a $10K/year increase from what I make now, which feels staggerly awesome. (It really says something when you’re moving up in the world so substantially by going to a public school position) It would take so much pressure off and might actually give us an opportunity to get ahead of our finances, for really the first time ever.

But I LOVE the organization I work with, I adore my colleagues, I have a flexible schedule where I work 1 day from home and can schedule appointments kind of whenever and I can totally wear jeans to work. These things are far less likely to be the case in a school system. Then again, the school retirement plan is amazing, having a teaching license and working in the school system affords incredible opportunity for growth and movement (my mom stayed in the same district for 30 years and just kept moving to new and better paying jobs) and I really do love teaching (although I mostly teach adults these days) and have kind of always figured I’d end up here. Lots to think about . . .

4) My final update is that I cut all my hair off and I’m really fucking happy about it. (and also I got a ring sling and it’s rainbow because I am that gay.)

2015-06-29 11.07.11

3 Months! and F**K the Pump

The most exciting news is that Ansel Jack is three whole months old, as of yesterday! And look how he’s grown!


I knew my little smidgen of a guy was small . . .but now I can see that he was, well . . . kinda scrawny. Still unbelievably adorable, obviously, but definitely a little on the bird like end of things. But look how deliciously chubby he’s gotten! I feel a great sense of pride both because he is so ridiculously cute now (being able to smile in response to outside stimuli really helps, there) and because I had deep fears and a lot of anxiety about breastfeeding and, well, it’s clearly working. (this is a disclaimer that I find it really difficult to walk this line of pride and happiness about my breastfeeding relationship while not being weirdly judgey or militant about it. I’m still learning how to do that, so if I F up, tell me, ok?)

I don’t have a weight on the dude, because we haven’t been to class in a few weeks, and he isn’t due back to the doc for a few more weeks. I’m guessing he’s closing in on 13 lbs, based on his weight gain rate from before. But that’s pure conjecture. He is at least double his birthweight of 6lbs5oz. His head is also, clearly, gotten really huge.

Ansel enjoys:

  • The small stuffed puppy that hangs above his carseat
  • the butterflies that rotate above his infant gym
  • “Rainbow Connection” made famous by Kermit the Frog
  • His mommy’s duck voice
  • His mama’s boobs
  • snuggling in the bed after 5am, and preferably, sleeping in past 9 (yes. really!)
  • motion. rocking, swinging, bouncing, walking, whatever.
  • The bath. then, now, forever.
  • Sitting forward
  • Putting things in his mouth
  • Scratching while he nurses

Ansel Hates:

  • napping in the afternoon
  • Being in the same place for too long
  • The bunny that hangs above his carseat
  • Getting out of the bath

The fact that I can so readily think of what he loves and not what he hates is a testament to his personality. He is laid back, calm, observant, and rather jovial. He’s pretty content to hang out wherever, whenever, provided there is some motion involved (or he has a boob in his mouth) This has made him a rather lovely companion on almost all adventures. Last week I took him to the drive-in for a friend’s birthday, and he contentedly hung out with whoever, and then nursed to his hearts content through the movie, fell asleep on the ride home and transitioned to his rock’n’play easily. I know this might not last, so I’m enjoying it now.

Here is some more of this lovely little lad:

IMG_20150611_201822 IMG_20150615_122719 IMG_20150616_185944

So, obviously, Ansel is the bright spot in my day.

The eye of the shit storm is pumping.

I have been back at work 3 days/week for the last 2 weeks, and I’ll be in 4 days a week (with 1 day work from home) starting this coming Monday. Although I’m still bummed to leave my baby, I can now do so without crying or scheming how to be able to stay home all the time. And I’m still on a bit of a curve getting back into the swing of things professionally, but summer is a slower time and I’m getting back up to speed fairly well. But pumping? Ugh.

It’s time consuming (I pump 3-4 times a day, depending on when I get in and how my day goes), loud, distracting, messy and . . .it hurts.

I thought maybe this was just par for the course, until I noticed blood blisters on my nipples. Before you say anything – yes, I’ve checked the flange/shield size (to be honest, none of them seem to work for me), I’ve lowered the suction, I’ve used coconut oil, I’ve done massage. In order to get the 9-10oz I need for the boy, I have to pump increasingly longer (from 15 minutes in the morning to pushing 25 at the end of the day) and the pain is becoming unbearable.

But breastfeeding my baby as long as possible is important to me. Important enough that I needed to explore some options. I’m not sure what will work to make this less painful, but I’m starting with a new pump.

I got the Pump In Style Advanced through my insurance because everyone said it was the best double electric pump out there. In retrospect, I should have done more research. Unusual, because I usually go overboard with the research. But I also trust my friends, all of whom recommended the “PISA” as it is known on ye olde breastfeeding FB groups.

Had I done my research, I might have found out that the PISA has a reputation for being kind of painful. Do I know this would have kept me from choosing it? No, maybe not. But it might have, too. In any case, I have it now.

But I will also, very soon, own the Spectra S2 as well. Obviously, I used up my one freebie on the medela, so I shelled out cash for this one. But, it also has great reviews and, most importantly, is reportedly the most gentle pump around. My nipples were worth the extra cash (which, by the way, is still cheaper than the medela, even though the spectra is hospital grade.)

I’m hopeful it will also help with my output at work. I’m able to pump an adequate amount for Ansel, but it does take some time and effort. It would be great to be able to get the same amount in a shorter amount of time. So, fingers crossed on that front too. It should be here no later than next wednesday, which feels impossibly far away for me and my nipples.

Lesson: research your breast pump, my friends! And if you’ve got sensitive nipples and are planning to pump a lot – maybe avoid the medela? It sucks to finally feel like I’ve got the nursing thing down, only to have pumping go and screw it all up again. Basically, this just makes me want to never be apart from AJ unless I absolutely have to – no movies, no date nights, no nothing. stupid pump.

So much for the weekly update goal . . .

Oh, lord . . .it’s not even worth apologizing!

First things first, I didn’t get the job. I finally got an e-mail last Friday (almost two weeks after I thought I’d hear) – a form email, at that – but at least I can let it go now. I do have another potential opportunity (locally) but I’m going to hold off on sharing until I have more details.

Last week, we traveled to Indianapolis so AJ could meet the rest of his family – including his great grandfather Jack, after whom he’s named. Indiana can be a toughie for me, since La’s family is huge and we spend most days there with everyone. Luckily, being introverted and lactating in a less-than-perfectly-comfortable-with-nursing culture meant I had an excellent excuse to go hide out in another room a few times a day. It was a really lovely trip, seeing Ansel with his Oma, his cousins, and his GGPa. He was a super star on the plane – he nursed at take off and landing, and then slept most of the flight. And, because no one wants to sit next to a baby and we fly southwest, we had a seat between us both there and back.



I’m up to three days back at work this week and next, then 4 days + 1 day work from home the last week in June. It is, in fact, getting easier. I’m pumping 4X/day now instead of 3, both because when I’m home AJ seems to eat every two hours, and to try and keep up with his intake. Last week at nursing group, I talked to the LC about my nerves – namely, I could usually get a full 9oz on Tuesday, but then only 7-8 on Thursday, and I was trying to leave him 9-10. She told me, in part to take the edge off, to try and have La just give him whatever I pumped for the next day, and be less worried about things being matched ounce to ounce. So, if I pump 8oz on Tuesday, he drinks 8oz on Thursday (or whenever I’m next at work) – and if he *really* needs some, there is a little extra in the freezer. I think it’s taken the pressure off a bit, and spacing my pumping to 4 times a day rather than three also helps me feel less pressure to get a huge quantity out at one time. Nursing has definitely gotten easier. Pumping . . .not so much.

I also managed to leave my flanges, valves and connectors (ie: 100% necessary no McGuyvering available parts) at home on a day when I really didn’t have time to spare. I could either go to Target and get some replacements or go home and get the ones I already owned. I ultimately (in hindsight) made the worst possible decision and went to Target, where they did not have the $8 valve/connector/flange set, but only the $50 ‘replacement part package.’ It also ultimately took me longer. But I couldn’t have known these things. I now have an extra set of parts that will stay at work and I have officially earned a Working Mama merit badge.

Ansel is getting chunky and even more adorable, if that’s possible. At last week’s group, he was 11lbs even, so I’m guessing he’s probably around 11#7oz this week and will be hitting 12# by next week for his three month birthday. He’s still solidly in the 10-25 percentile, but he’s growing so well. And he has chins! and neck rolls! and he is beginning to maybe edge out of the 0-3 month clothes, especially lengthwise. And, of course, he’s upping his game on lots of other developmental milestones – but I’ll save all of that for his 3 month update next week (because maybe it will light a fire under my ass?!)

I bit the bullet and decided to go to the Birth Without Fear conference in Denver. Ok, and they opened up more tickets so that I could actually still purchase one at this late date. If you don’t know about BWF already, check them out here. The site is dedicated to supporting folks in their birth choices – no matter what those are. I’m still having a lot of feelings about my C-section, not so much like a ‘failure’, but just that I missed out on things I really wanted to experience, and that it was actually a very fear-filled and scary experience overall, and silly things like not being able to make jokes about squeezing a baby out my vagina cause, you know, I didn’t. Anyway, between my general interest in birthy things and my need to process all of this, I thought it was a good thing to go to.

I’m also thinking about maybe becoming a lactation counselor. I mean, it might be totally far fetched and not feasible, but I just feel like I benefited so greatly and feel really fascinated by all that I’ve learned. I need to look into what it takes, because I know some credentialing requires medical coursework. And I just had an infant, so maybe not anytime soon but . . .you know, pipe dreams.