Posts filed under ‘Breastfeeding’

Baby Steps

Phew, with a toddler and a baby, I find I have to be patient…when it comes to my extracurricular activities.  I definitely don’t complete projects nearly as fast as I used to.  I have to be satisfied with short bursts of progress, baby steps if you will.

This weekend, I managed to get just a tad bit closer with a couple of projects:

3D Printed Breastfeeding Pendant
It took me a couple of months to eke in Blender tutorials and make time to fix non-manifold edges and the like to make my Origami Owl Breastfeeding Charm.  Earlier in March, I ordered a pendant version.  I LOVE it.  A week ago I took pictures…and this past weekend I finally got everything up on Shapeways.  If you covet a breastfeeding pendant, shebam!  You can order one now!  🙂

Pallet Vertical Garden
I also aspire to make a vertical garden out of an old pallet I procured in December, following Life on Balcony’s “How to Turn a Pallet into a Garden” post. December through March the pallet just sat next to the driveway, a visible reminder of my inaction. : ) Two weeks ago, I bought potting soil and landscaping fabric.  Last week, I bought the plants.  This week I had hoped to plant everything….but I had to settle for just stapling all the landscaping fabric on the pallet while my children played beside me.  I didn’t even trim the excess fabric off. So this project is now about 14 weeks in the making. : )

Pallet Vertical Garden in Progress
Pallet Garden – Week 13

Photo Wall
A family friend has this amazing wall in his house dedicated to his favorite photos.  I have been wanting to do something similar since December.  Six weeks ago, my husband purchased picture frames for me which have sat in our foyer ever since.  They too are an effective souvenir of my inaction. A guest entered our house last week and announced, “Vicky, these picture frames are still here!” Luckily, I was able to report forward progress. Two weeks ago I picked out 29 “finalists” and ordered 5×7 prints.  One week ago, I figured out who to lay out the frames.  What was my accomplishment this week?  Brace yourself! 

I. Picked. Up. The. Printed. Pictures. 

A remarkable feat, I know.  🙂

Photo Wall - Actual Photos
Actual Pictures…. How Long Until They Are On The Wall? : )

My Mom’s Taxes
This one is almost done…really.  Last week, I got the bulk of everything gathered and entered.  Just a couple more items and I can scratch this one off my list.

Staying Fit
This one was a bit easier this week.  The weather warmed up, so it’s easier to merge “time with my sons” with “exercise.”  Long live that jogging stroller!  I got a 5K run in with Dyson during the week, tons and tons of walking with the boys, and I actually made it to the gym for some weight lifting over the weekend.  I’m far cry from a super-athlete, but I am pleased my husband and I have managed to weasel exercise into our schedules.

Write My Friend Meg
I have a friend battling cancer for the second time.  A bunch of people have been sending her letters and cards.  She’s been thrilled to be getting real mail every day when she checks her mailbox.  Anyway, I have a goal to write her once a week.  I am falling short on that.  I’ve only sent her three letters in the past five weeks.  D’oh!

P.S. Meg’s been particularly touched/surprised when she hears from strangers, so if you are interested in mailing her something, let me know!

Uh… yeah. Definitely room for improvement on this one. I have plenty of content ideas. Northern Virginia, family-friendly hikes alone is easily a dozen-plus posts. I just don’t seem to ever get to it. But I got this post in, so maybe one day. : )

Trees on Mars Stories
Finally, I’ve continued work on a collection of short stories about the people involved in the “tree phase” of terraforming Mars (one of which was published at Luna Station Quarterly).  I have about 35,000 words edited and pretty finalized…but I have another 30,000 still needing attention.  This one, progress is probably the slowest.  It is the hardest hobby to do with my children awake, but I’m sneaking in a half hour here and there right before I fall asleep.

Slowly, but Surely.  Slowly, but Surely.  Slowly, but Surely.  When you have a baby, I’ve found they aren’t the only ones making baby steps. : )

April 8, 2014 at 1:00 am 1 comment

Open Source – Creating a Breastfeeding Origami Owl Charm with Blender and Shapeways

A girlfriend of mine recently started selling Origami Owl.  It’s a neat concept.  You purchase a “Living Locket” which you can fill up with charms.  Between exclusively pumping for 16 months for my first son and nursing my second son, breastfeeding has played a significant role in my life the last 2.5 years.  It’s near and dear to my heart. Alas, Origami Owl did not have a breastfeeding-themed charm.

A few months ago, I had run across Shapeways, a company that will 3D print your models for you, and I really wanted to try something out with them.  This seemed like a first very easy project to learn Blender and 3D printing!

I still have so, so, so much to learn about 3D modeling, so this post isn’t a tutorial.  Instead, I will be referring to other tutorials and tools that helped me out along the way:

Learning Blender
I downloaded Blender for free from  I watched a few tutorial videos to start to learn the software.  The tutorial that applied most to what I wanted to do the most was “Modelling with Curves” by BlenderNerd.

I did what the “Modelling with Curves” illustrated.  I made a 2D image of what I wanted and then set that as the background to my grid.  My 2D image was based off the Public Domain International Breastfeeding Symbol by Matt Daigle. I had to make some modifications to connect the Mom’s head to her body.

The International Symbol for Breastfeeding

Then I was able to use Bezier Curves to build my object.

Screenshot of Bezier Curve
Using a Background Image, I Traced My Charm In Bezier Curves

I extruded it to give it volume and voila– my breastfeeding charm!

Breastfeeding Charm - Extruding Curve
Extruded Bezier Curve

Now, I specifically wanted to learn Blender and 3D modeling.  If you do not, Shapeways has a 2D to 3D Print Creator to make the model for you.

Locket Size
I had the medium silver locket which is roughly the size of a nickel.  I decided I wanted to keep my charm no larger than 17mm x 17mm.  I was also going to aim to have it no more than 4mm deep. I decided to treat one Blender Unit as 1mm and I scaled my object appropriately.

Converting to a Mesh
When I was satisfied with my curve, I converted it to a mesh. The command was Object->Convert To->Mesh From Curve/Meta/Surf/Text.

Breastfeeding Charm - Converting Curve to Mesh
Converting to Mesh

3D Printing Toolbox
To help me achieve my end goal of 3D printing, I downloaded the 3D Printing Toolbox for Blender.  This helped me out quite a bit by highlighting trouble spots in my model, specifically Non-Manifold Edges and where my walls were too thin.

3D Print Toolkit Checking
The 3D Printing Toolbox Telling Me What’s Wrong

Non-Manifold— Wha?????
Almost immediately, I found out that tons of my edges were non-manifold.  I didn’t know what the hell that was, but I knew it was bad.  I did some Googling.  Non-manifold meant it was an edge that did not connect to two faces.  But… but…but… looking at my model, all those edges looked like they were connecting to two faces.

Looks can be deceiving!  It turns out, I had vertices over vertices.  So those faces along the side of my curve, they weren’t connecting to my breastfeeding curve at all.

Non Manifold Edges - Vertices Over Vertices
Oooh… My Faces Aren’t Actually Connected! No Wonder!

What I did to fix it was just delete the duplicate vertices (which deleted my side faces) and then created new faces with the correct vertices that were hidden below my bad faces.

Made New Faces
Making New Faces

A big hat tip to the “Fixing Non-Manifold Models” tutorial over at Shapeways.  Specifically, the video under “Open objects: coincident edges” was an excellent illustration of what my models issue was.

Thin Walls
I also had an issue with thin walls.  The Shapeways Material Comparison Sheet tells you the different specifications for each type of material.  Sterling silver, for example, requires walls that are 0.6mm apart.  The plastics, which I wanted to print my initial model on because it was cheap, required 0.7mm.  The hole that made up the baby’s head…. well, it was too close to the wall that outlined the baby’s body.

Uh Oh Thin Faces
Uh Oh… Those Yellow Faces Are Too Close Together. They are a “Thin Wall”

I did some rescaling of my object and moving of the baby’s head to fix the issue (which I got to learn the Border Select for).

Export to STL and Upload to Shapeways
Once I had my Non-Manifold Edges and my Thin Faces eradicated, following the “Preparing Blender Files for 3D Printing” tutorial from Shapeways, I rotated my model 90 degrees along the X-axis and exported it to STL file.  The 3D Printing Toolbox in Blender was warning me about “Overhanging Faces”, but that did not hinder my model from being accepted by Shapeways.

Thanks to all the tutorials and research, my model file returned no errors on its initial upload.  If I knew that, I may have named my model file something other than “breastfeeding-first-shapeways-submission”.  🙂  I was expecting multiple iterations and a lot of trial and error.

I ordered a version in Hot Pink Strong & Flexible Plastic and a version in Alumide.  Because my models were so small, they were very economical – just a couple of dollars! I expected once I saw my prototypes I would order one in the more expensive silver, but I have found myself satisfied with the plastic versions.

A few weeks later, I had my breastfeeding charms, which fit perfectly in my Origami Owl Living Locket!  So now I have a breastfeeding charm in my Living Locket! 🙂  My camera had a horrible mishap this winter, so behold my charm via my cellphone camera. It currently hangs out in my Living Locket with birthstones for my two sons.

Breastfeeding Jewelry - Mother's Day - Origami Owl Plate
Breastfeeding Charm in Raw Bronze

If you happen to want the Living Locket version, you can order one for yourself at Shapeways. I have a prototype of a pendant version on order that I should see in a few weeks. If all looks good, I’ll make that one available as well. Also feel free to download the model for your own projects! Go Public Domain!

Breastfeeding Pendant
Pendant Version Coming Soon…Hopefully!

March 6, 2014 at 1:37 pm 9 comments

Views While Nursing – Sacagawea-ing It


Sacagawea (Photo by MudflapDC)

I’ve been continuing to take an ongoing collection of views while nursing my second son. One of my favorite subset of photos are what I refer to “Sacagawea-ing It”. Sacagawea was an interpreter and guide for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. She gave birth to her first child, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, and continued her travels with her infant son. Whenever we are out on the trails with infant Dyson, I think of Sacagawea hiking with her son.

We hiked with my older son as well, but we’ve been getting significantly more mileage in with our second. I think part of this is we know we aren’t going to break him. But another factor is the breastfeeding. You don’t have to bring along a cooler and bottles and you don’t have to time your hike between visits to the breast pump. I’ve been really enjoying how easy family hikes are and I certainly don’t mind feeding the youngest… particularly when he decide he’s hungry at a glorious overlook. 🙂

We’re still only 4.5 months into our breastfeeding journey, but here are some new “Views While Nursing…While Hiking.”

September 22, 2013 View While Nursing...from the Appalachian Trail's Angel Rest near Pearisburg, VA
Appalachian Trails’ Angel’s Rest, Pearisburg, Virginia

View While Nursing for September 29, 2013 - Fishing Pier Through Trees at Leesylvania State Park, Virginia
Fishing Pier, Leesylvania State Park, Virginia

View While Nursing for October 20, 2013-  Wetlands at Veterans Park.  Woodbridge, VA  Http://
Wetlands, Veterans Park, Woodbridge, Virginia

View While Nursing for November 1, 2013 - High Point Overlook on Bull Run Mountain.
High Point Overlook, Bull Run Mountain, Virginia

View While Nursing for November 3, 2013 - Bald Eagle Nest at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Bald Eagle Nest, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Woodbridge, Virginia

P.S. Instagram allows me to upload photos directly to Tumblr, so more Views While Nursing can be found at

November 19, 2013 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Our First Family Camping Trip – Prince William Forest Park

This year for his birthday, my husband requested a camping trip. With our two year old and our two month old accompanying us, that made it our very first family camping trip!

Keeping It Simple
Keeping in mind we had two kids with us now, we kept the outing simple. Our original plan was to camp at Sky Meadows State Park which is about an hour away from our home. Our campsite there was going to be a mile hike from the parking lot. However, when that park closed for a Search and Rescue operation, we had to revise our plan. We went to the even closer Prince William Forest National Park and the expedition was made even simpler as our car was parked right next to our site. Initially I was disappointed in the lack of a hike, but I did like being very liberal with my packing knowing the car was right there. I was particularly liberal with layers for the kids. : )

Camping at Prince William Forest Park - View Whlie Nursing Saturday
Car Within Sight

Our menu was insanely simple too. Hot dogs, campfire baked potatoes… and s’mores. We don’t really eat hot dogs at home, so it was a special treat for two year old Sagan. He ate 2 1/2 of them!

Camping at Prince William Forest Park - Sagan Eats Hot Dogs
Sagan Eats Hot Dogs

Beforehand, Ryan and I were strategizing how to most peacefully limit Sagan’s s’mores intake. That turned not to be an issue. He may have liked s’mores, but they paled in comparison to the hot dogs.

Camping at Prince William Forest Park - Sagan Eats Smores
S’mores. Not as Good as Hot Dogs

For our campfire baked potatoes, we wrapped them in tin foil, threw them in the fire Friday night, and let them do their thing. Saturday morning, we woke up and pulled them out of the ashes and devoured them for breakfast. Sagan’s reaction after his first bite:


That was my reaction too. Campire baked potatoes are a favorite of mine. No salt, no butter, or any kind of fixings. They are delicious as is.

For this outing, the act of camping and nature itself was entertainment enough for our two year old. He very much enjoyed helping with the normal camping chores such as setting up the tent, gathering wood, and starting a fire.

Camping at Prince William Forest Park - Sagan Helps Ryan with Tent Poles
Sagan Helps Set Up the Tent

Camping at Prince William Forest Park - Sagan Helps Ryan With Sticks
Sagan Helps Gather Firewood

Camping at Prince William Forest Park - Sagan Helps Daddy With Fire
Supervising the Fire Getting Started

Co-Sleeping Win
We were enjoying the campfire when Sagan suddenly requested, “Night night.”

“We’re going night night in the tent,” Ryan said.

Sagan looked over at the tent and said, “No Night Night Tent. Night Night Home.” : )

His hesitation was fleeting. Once we were all in the tent, Sagan was immediately at ease and went to sleep almost right away. We co-sleep and have done a fair amount of traveling. No matter where we’ve gone and what strange rooms and beds we’re in, Sagan has had two constants with bedtime– his mommy and his daddy.

It might also help that at home we sleep on the floor, so camping wasn’t a big leap.

Recent studies indicate that camping can help reset your circadian rhythms within a week. Well within a single night, we all feel asleep much earlier than usual.

Nursing Win
I exclusively pumped with Sagan. We never camped when he was an infant, but we had talked about it enough that I had considered the logistics– getting batteries for the breastpump and enough ice for the cooler, packing enough bottles and cleaning wipes. It would have been do-able, but there would be effort involved.

With little Dyson, we are breastfeeding directly and I have to say, it’s liberating. To feed my child, there was only one thing I needed to pack– ME!

Plus I got to take in some pretty good views while nursing as well. : )

Camping at Prince William Forest Park - Ryan and Sagan At Fire
View While Nursing – Ryan and Sagan Enjoy the Campfire

MobyWrap Win
Sagan’s old MobyWrap continues to prove to be super useful with baby Dyson as well. Dyson rode in it while we gathered wood, did a moonlit walk around the campground, and just normal camping activities.

Camping at Prince William Forest Park - Vicky Feeds Sagan Smore
Dyson in MobyWrap While Mommy Feeds Sagan a S’more

Parenting Cliché Fail
When Sagan woke up after his first night in the tent, he was really energetic and excited. As he played and explored the campsite and the woods, he expressed his giddiness verbally… and loudly. Aware that there were campers in nearby sites who were perhaps still trying to sleep, I found myself spewing out a common parent phrase:

“Use your inside voice!”

Worrying Fail
The only big downside of the trip was my own mind. At first, my sleep wasn’t the best because I kept worrying about little Dyson. I had him layered up, elevated off of the cold ground in his car seat, and right next to me, but I still fretted about waking up to find that he froze to death…silently, without making a peep. As a result, I kept waking up and poking him to check his body temperature. After the first time he woke up to nurse, however, I realized all was well and normal. I was able to sleep much better after that.

Camping at Prince William Forest Park - Dyson Sleeps in Tent
Dyson Not Freezing to Death

One thing I could have improved upon with Dyson is the layers I chose for him. His base layer was zip-up pajamas, so when I changed his diaper overnight, I had to expose his chest. (Narami, you mentioned this on Twitter, but the lesson didn’t fully sink in until I was changing diapers in the cold). Next time, I’ll make a more strategic choice.

Post Camping Hike
After a great night of camping, we decided to check out Carter’s Pond on the way out of the park. It was brief and beautiful and Sagan got to meet the Polythemus Moth. The moth is named after a cyclops because of the fake eyes it has on its wings. Ryan showed Sagan the moth’s fake eyes and its real eyes.

Camping at Prince William Forest Park - Carter's Pond - Pond
Beautiful Carter’s Pond

Camping at Prince William Forest Park - Carter's Pond - Moth on Tree (Close)
The Polythemus Moth

Camping at Prince William Forest Park - Carter's Pond - Ryan Shows Sagan Moth's Real Eyes
Sagan Learns Where the Moth’s Real Eyes Are

Our first camping trip was a great success. We may have been celebrating Ryan’s birthday, but it ended up being a gift for the entire family. I might have to steal the idea for my OWN birthday. 🙂

September 30, 2013 at 1:00 am 3 comments

Views While Nursing – September 1st, 2013 – September 7th, 2013

My phone met its demise this past week, but I still managed to snag some more Views While Nursing… including shots from our very first Family Camping Trip. Enjoy.

September 1, 2013 View While Nursing - My Older Son Playing with Me
September 1, 2013 – Playing with my Older Son

View While Nursing...Sept 6, 2013 - Camping!
September 6, 2013 – Camping!!!

View While Nursing for September 7, 2013 - Getting Ready to Leave Our Campsite
September 7, 2013 – Getting Ready to Leave Our Campsite

September 11, 2013 at 6:00 pm Leave a comment

Anne Frank and Views While Nursing

For many of those early nursing sessions with my second son, my view was exactly the same. I would be sitting on the floor of our dimly lit bedroom. Next to me, there was small crack in the closed curtains which provided the slightest sliver of outside. During the daytime, I could see the my neighbor’s crepe myrtle blooming and above it, the blue sky. Often I would see clouds and sometimes a black vulture would silently glide through my view.

I was reminded of Anne Frank.

This is by no means to say that breastfeeding is as bad as the Holocaust. I find it to be quite the opposite, in fact.

In her diary, Anne Frank mentions a horse-chestnut tree (Fun fact– Horse-chestnuts are actually in the same family of trees as buckeyes and are not closely related to the American chestnuts) three separate times. One of those mentions:

Nearly every morning I go to the attic to blow the stuffy air out of my lungs, from my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind. As long as this exists, I thought, and I may live to see it, this sunshine, the cloudless skies, while this lasts I cannot be unhappy.

In those hectic first weeks with a newborn where days and nights blur together, used diapers accumulate in little piles by the bed, and your own body doesn’t even feel like its your own anymore, my fatigued eyes found that little sliver of nature to be particularly peaceful. I could appreciate how meaningful and powerful a view of the outside can be, even if it is just a small glimpse. And if it meant that much to me, I can only imagine how very precious it was to Anne Frank.

Now that my son is older, we are getting out and about more. We are happily continuing our breastfeeding relationship and taking in a variety of views along the way. Last week, I started collecting shots of the things I see while nursing.


View while nursing.  (Leesylvania State Park)
August 25, 2013 – Potomac River, Leesylvania Park

Tonight's view while nursing (Rockledge Mansion)
August 27, 2013 – Rockledge Mansion, Occoquan, Virginia

8/29/2013's View While Nursing...Sagan and Ryan play while we wait in the examination room for Dyson's Two Month Checkup.
August 29, 2013 – In the Examination Room Waiting for the Pediatrician

8/30/2013's View While a Steak and Shake eating supper.
August 30, 2013 – Eating Supper at Steak and Shake, Fredericksburg, VA

8/31/2013 View While the seashore.  (The dark blue object at the bottom is a chair pad I propped up to provide just a tad more privacy)
August 31, 2013 – At the Seashore, Virginia Beach, VA

September 2, 2013 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Exclusively Pumping: Tips for Quality Time with Baby

Last Saturday, I passed the 15 month mark of Exclusively Pumping (EPing). Since August, we have gone down from 4-5 pumping sessions a day to just 2. Even though I have been rather enjoying the new flexible schedule, at no point in time in the past 15 months did I ever want to quit. At no point in time did I hold the pump in distain. At no point in time did I hate what I was doing. I have had a very positive experience.

I have read my fair share of Exclusively Pumping forums and blog posts, so I am aware my positive experience isn’t shared by all mothers. There are definitely a lot of challenges and a lot of factors involved and I do recognize I had very little discomfort after birth, a top-notch support system, and the flexibility of a telecommuting job, so I paraphrase a wise statement from my Mommy-friend Quinn:

     Every family needs to pick the path that is right for them.

With that disclaimer, I am “open sourcing” a little bit of my process for anyone that wants/needs it (accompanied by completely safe-for-work photos). This is stuff that worked for me. If it looks like it can be adapted for your family, that’s great. If it isn’t a good fit for you, no worries.

Pumping Challenge: Bonding with Baby?
I’ve read a lot of Exclusively Pumping accounts where one of the biggest challenges and heartaches a mother describes is the lost time with her baby. The mother feels like she has to keep leaving her baby to pump (some posts use the verb “abandon”). She worries she is neglecting the baby and losing bonding time. Even worse, maybe she frets she is fostering attachment issues for the poor child! One mother described feeling helpless when her baby started crying while she was pumping and desperately wishing she could “go in the other room and pick her up and console her.”

When I first read those accounts, it took me by surprise. That wasn’t my experience at all and I thought, “What in the world am I doing differently?!?” It couldn’t just be the Simple Wishes Hands Free Pumping Bra. It looks like most people independently made that same discovery (If you haven’t– definitely get one or a similiar product. It opens a lot of doors of what you can do while you pump).

I’ve reflected a bit and I think I’ve pinpointed some possible differences.

I Pump with the Baby
Now, there were times where I felt like I was missing out on time with adult family and friends because of pumping, but for me, time with the pump and time with the baby are not mutually exclusive. In fact, there are times where I pick up the baby and tell my family, “I am going to take him upstairs and pump. We’ll be back.” A lot of our pumping sessions could easily be described simply as “Mommy-Son Time”.

It’s easy for me to pump with the baby and I think part of it is because…

I Pump on the Floor
Well, at home anyway, not in public restrooms. 🙂 I’ve always pumped on the floor. I pump on the floor because I sleep on the floor (even when I was pregnant). So when we arrived home from the hospital and were faced with the question, “Hmm…Where should this breastpump go?” the natural answer was, “Oh hey– how about right here on the floor?”

Sagan - Day Seventeen - Helping Mommy With Server Update
Day 17 – Breast Pump on the Floor

Because I was on the floor, the baby could also be on the floor where that scary gravity and all the injuries and disfigurements it aims to inflict on my child are kept at bay. The baby could be right next to me or even physically on me (more on that in a moment). If he needed something, I was right there. Thanks to the hands-free pumping bra, I could give him a bottle, I could comfort him, I could change his diapie (though really messy poopies I would recommend handing off, particularly when the child is enamoured with crawling). Heck, I’ve dressed him for daycare while pumping. And even if he didn’t need anything, I was still right there where I could just stare at him, sigh, and think about #$*&ing lucky I was.

Now, as far as comforting and burping, there is the limitation where you can’t really hold your child to your chest while you are pumping, which brings me to my next possible difference…

I Tailor Sit and Use My Legs A LOT
Tailor sitting is also known as “Indian-style” and I do it a lot. I always have. Even in chairs, I often opt to tailor sit in my seat. It’s true. I’ve been reprimanded by librarians (They aren’t fond of people’s feet being where other people’s butts will be). Because it is so natural to me, tailor sitting also makes cameos in my mothering. My crossed legs have proven to be a nice comfy spot for my son to hang out…and sometimes nap.

Sagan - October 28th - Resting in Lap While Mommy Works
Tailor Sitting – 3 1/2 Months In

Earth 383 10 Year Anniversary - Sleeping Sagan, Vicky and Malena
Tailor Sitting – 13 1/2 Months In

If he is having gas or discomfort, I’ve found bouncing my knees or rocking to be effective. I’ve also found my legs to be a great way to prop him up while he takes a bottle.

Now when I’m pumping, I may not be able to embrace him and hold him tight to my chest. BUT I still have full use of my lap and my legs. Sure, you have to move tubing around, but I’m there and available for my son. Plus it is good motivation to keep good posture as babies seem to get annoyed when pumping accessories are shoved in their faces (I haven’t tested it out, but I suspect most adults would experience a similiar reaction).

I think the trickiest part to master was finding a way to burp him while pumping. It didn’t come up often because my husband was so attentive but when it did, I would lay the baby stomach down on my thigh and pat his back that way (Hat Tip, my mother-in-law).

Exclusively Pumping with the Mobile Baby
I think like with most things, exclusively pumping gets more challenging as the baby gets mobile and wants to explore. I still pump on the floor and around the “pumping area” are a whole bunch of toys, including this wooden workbench that continues to captivate him. For the most part, we play and talk. Sometimes I supervise him as he explores the room and there are times where I quickly disconnect the tubing so I can go fetch him. The most friction we’ve run into is an ongoing disagreement about how much fun it is to yank the tubing out of the breast pump. Though I expect the incident rate of both his exploring and my adbrupt retrieval missions to increase in the future. : )

Exclusively Pumping - Sagan Plays With Happy Lights Bear
13-Month Old Sagan Plays, I Pump AND Take Pictures (Also there is that tailor sitting again)

Shared Moments
Pumping with my mobile son has had some spectacular moments. One day I got to watch as he figured out how to stick his toy screw driver into a spare breastshield he pulled out of the breast pump bag. The breastshield and its funnel shape turned out to very friendly to the unadept and a marvelous tutorial. A couple of days later, I pumped and watched my son’s more confident hand manuever the toy screwdriver into the small holes in his workbench. Then from day to day, I got to witness his increased steadiness as he stood and played. He develops right before my eyes.

And then there was the first time in the middle of playing, my son paused, crawled over to me and gave me a hug. Children are adaptable, and sure enough, my son found a way to make a hug work.

Exclusively Pumping - Sagan Hugs Me
13 Month Old Sagan Hugs Me While I Pump

I didn’t miss these moments because I was attached to a breast pump.

And maybe (if it is right for your family), you don’t have to either! : )

October 15, 2012 at 12:32 pm 4 comments

Parenting Confessions

This post was written for inclusion in the May blog carnival hosted by One Fit Mom. Today, participants share their funny, honest and even poignant confessions of how they are less-than-perfect parents (or parents-to-be). Please read to the end of the post to see the full list of links to other carnival submissions.

1) We Let Our Son Fall Out of The Stroller
We might be able to take the cake in terms of confessions. My husband and I are both computer programmers. Our livelihood depends on logic! Strapping a baby into his stroller makes complete logical sense. I would also like to think we have a solid understanding of the concept of gravity. Yet we still had to learn an important lesson:

A 9 week old infant being too small to wiggle his own way out of the stroller does not preclude said infant’s parents from being idiots.

When you are teaming up to carry a kayak, it doesn’t matter if one person’s side is a little lower than the other. It turns out, it matters quite a lot when you are teaming up to carry a stroller, particularly a stroller with an unrestrained infant.

A Kayak Does Not Equal a Stroller – Change Your Strategies Accordingly AND Strap In Your Baby!

Our lapse of good judgement brought us an emergency room visit, an overnight hospital stay for observation, but a fully recovered and oblivious infant. Our little guy had no idea what all the hoopla was about.

I consider us extremely lucky.

2) Milk Metrics May Be Too Important To Me
I’m an exclusive pumper and over the course of the last ten months, I have kept an ongoing spreadsheet of the milk production. The intention is so I can note if the supply starts to drop and take measures to build it back up. However, the numbers have taken on a life of their own and have acquired an inflated priority.

In the middle of the night a few months ago, my son needed a bottle and I pulled one out of the handy dandy cooler next to our bed. He did his usual drinking, drinking, drinking when I noticed something odd. I pulled the bottle next to my handy dandy nightlight and the milk did not behave as one would expect a liquid to behave. In fact, it seemed to have texture. Could this bottle be frozen?!? I opened it up and discovered that inside the bottle with the milk was the paper towel I had used to dry bottles earlier in the day.

Now my first thought wasn’t “Oh gawd, I just fed Sagan a paper towel bottle. Is that safe?”

My first thought was how somewhere in my spreadsheet there loomed an inaccurate number.

My second thought wasn’t “Oh gawd, I just fed Sagan a paper towel bottle. Is that safe?” It probably wasn’t my third thought either.

Instead I started to ponder how I should adjust my numbers to account for the paper towel. : )

Bottle + Paper Towel = Bad Metrics

3) My Dog Almost Took a Dump on My Son’s Head
I have a 15 year old dog, Jimmie, who in his old age struggles to control his bowels. My husband, my son and I all co-sleep on the floor. One day, the baby was napping and I was on the other side of the room. Between us, Jimmie suddenly stood up on his dog bed. Such an abrupt ascent is usually followed with an abrupt deposit.

“No! No! No! No!” I shouted as Jimmie assumed the position.

I startled the dog and his instinct was to waddle away from me….. and toward the sleeping baby! With super human speed, I crossed the room, snagged the dog and hurled him off our mattress.

The dog missed… but in a distance that could easily be measured in centimeters or inches.

P.S. The baby slept through the whole thing!

Other submissions:
Cassie at Mama PhD ‘N Training discusses her cloth diapering dilemmas, and how they might be interfering with the progress of her dissertation.

Carmen at I Love Being Mom shares the guilt and relief that came with the end of her breastfeeding relationship.

Quinn at Sun Flower and Sunshine (whose baby is due any day now!) confesses her third trimester diet debauchery.

Cheryl at Mommy & Co. learns firsthand why her mom may have made some of the parenting mistakes she did.

Carli at One Fit Mom reveals an amusing list of her best, er, worst parenting transgressions

May 4, 2012 at 9:00 am 8 comments

Recommended Reading: Breastfeeding in The American Philatelist

My father-in-law is dabbling in stamp collecting and as part of his hobby he receives a copy of the The American Philatelist. The January 2012 issue has an absolutely fascinating article by William Moskoff entitled “The Campaign To Reduce Infant Mortality in the Soviet Union 1917–1939”.

With women in the factory workforce, Russia started to experience a tragic infant mortality rate. “In 1917 infant mortality was 350 for every 1,000 live births among women who worked in factories.” Moskoff writes and notes that was 2.7–3.5 times higher than the U.S.

Recognizing the issue, Russia took measures to educate its people. How did they deliver their message? Postal materials! Postcards and stamps provided instruction on topics such as how to bathe a child and how only doctors should remove bugs from a child’s ear (apparently common enough to warrant a postcard). Another thing the propaganda prescribed… breastfeeding!

“Nothing can substitute for the milk and heart of a mother.”
-Caption from a Government Sponsored Postcard, 1920

I thoroughly enjoyed the article and appreciate all the research William Moskoff put into it. Definitely check it out… at the very least to learn about the soskas rural infants were given while their mothers were working. Crazy!

You can read the article online here and download a full PDF of the The American Philatelist from the same site.

January 29, 2012 at 11:31 pm Leave a comment

New Appreciation For…The Sparkles Girl (Sad Packer Fan)

Yesterday morning I enjoyed feeling smug and superior to a young lady featured in a YouTube video entitled, “Sad Packer Fan” (Hat Tip, @HokiePhotog).

In the video, the main character is distraught at Green Bay’s recent playoff loss.  She really, really, really wanted to see them win the Super Bowl and even went to the effort of painting her fingernails with green sparkles to secure a win.  Although she had the best intentions, that gesture backfired and undermined the very team she sought to help.

Oh I laughed at her silliness, forwarded along the link and laughed some more and then went about my daily business.  On the agenda besides work — our “Solid Food Initiative” with little Sagan.  On Monday, Sagan had been to the pediatrician and when we described how much milk he was eating overnight, the doctor recommended increasing his intake of baby food.  And truth be known, we were being a little lackadaisical with solids thus far.  In the past weeks, he’s tried a variety of vegetables and ingested his fair share of rice cereal, but it wasn’t an every day occurrence.

So yesterday, we decided to take the initiative seriously.  In addition to his usual breast milk intake, Sagan had two meals of rice cereal and then in the evening he had what we thought was a pretty hearty supper of green beans and breast milk.

Alas, last night he woke up numerous times and all in all ingested roughly 13 ounces of breast milk.  13 ounces!  That was twice as much as he was eating at night when we talked to the pediatrician AND about the same amount he ingests when he is at part-time daycare… you know, during the actual day.

His consumption was so much, I had to do an emergency unplanned pumping session in the middle of the night (I often have planned pumping sessions at night which is a different story).  On the outside, I may have looked stoic, quietly trying to find some kind of comfortable position to hold my head so I could rest my eyes.  But on the inside I was that Packer Fan!!!

Instead of blubbering on about sparkles, however, my thoughts were centered on another item of the same color.


I have no doubt our little family will eventually figure out this whole solid food thing.  In the meantime, though, maybe I shouldn’t laugh so hard at people on the Internet.

I am just one more sleepless night away from completing my transition into the Sparkles Girl! : )


January 20, 2012 at 1:44 pm 3 comments

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