Showing posts with label breastfeeding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label breastfeeding. Show all posts

Monday, June 24, 2013

Pump hero

I needed to meet with a team to grade their students and had set up a time to meet them in their team room. This is one of the best team rooms we have in the hospital. It's spacious, with a wall of computer stations on either side, and windows lining the opposite wall from the door, filling the room with natural light. When I'm bringing the third-year students around to their team rooms after orientation, I always deliver this team's students last since it's kind of like closing the curtain between first class and coach.

I walked into the room and saw a medicine intern with her back to me, working at her computer. At the other wall, the senior resident was reading some papers before him. They greeted me as I sat down with my folders and took out my forms for grading.

"I hope you don't mind, but I'll be pumping while we do this." In the sudden quiet, I heard the telltale rhythmic sounds that I knew so well. She was pumping. Right there. In the team room. I didn't notice earlier, but she apparently had a hands-free set-up going, and was typing away, doing her notes. I glanced back at the senior resident, nonplussed. This was routine business.

I was filled Admiration. So impressed.

"I think it is so awesome that you pump in the team room!" (Could I have?)

"I've lost all modesty after 9 months," she said with a smile.

We graded. She finished pumping, cleaned up, stored the milk, and I could not stop smiling.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Last Bu-bu

WE DID IT!!!  When I started breast feeding I was determined and optimistic!  But, as I persisted I got discouraged more times than I could remember.  There were latching problems, cracked nipples, thrush and the pumping!  PUMPING SUCKS!!!!  I celebrated when we hit the one year mark and I stopped pumping.  My plan was to allow my baby girl to self wean.  Well, she wasn't interested.  I stopped pumping but kept making LOTS of milk, so we persisted with morning and nighttime feeds.  When my baby girl was a year and a half I left the lab and went back to surgical residency hours.  My initial stint on transplant kept me at work around the clock and I felt for sure that my milk would dry up.  Miraculously it didn't and "bu-bu" time became a special time with me and my baby girl in the midst of all the chaos.  Well, the time has finally come.  Baby girl is losing interest, I've basically stopped making milk and my baby girl is a smart, amazing, beautiful big toddler now.  She hasn't had bu-bu in a week.  I put her to sleep by telling her princess stories or stories about my "doc-tur house" while she lays her head on my chest.  I'm a bit sad our "bu-bu" time is over but amazing grateful for the two and a half years we had of this amazing connection.  I'm incredibly proud of our accomplishment that survived even the insanity of residency and as always I am crazy in love with my beautiful child.  I can't wait for all the new memories we will make together.

Now off to pick some strawberries!  Happy Saturday!

Friday, May 11, 2012

A tired American - an angry rant

Ok, so this is risky, and I’m likely to attract plenty of debate but here I go.

First, why am I writing about this?  Because I took an oath to be a healer.  To me this means tolerance, justice, acceptance in order to achieve a greater good, in order to promote a healthy society.  So, I am just a little irritated today as I look at my country which appears to be at odds with itself.  My anger started while listening to NPR on the drive to work this morning and hearing about all of the discussion resulting from the TIME magazine cover of a model-like mom breastfeeding her three year old standing on a chair.  Criticisms flying everywhere about extended breastfeeding and self-important moms. There is the typical sexualization of breastfeeding with lots of reference to the attractiveness of the mom on the cover, and the usual “if they can ask for it” type comments.  (side note: newborns ask for it too - its called crying!!)  So funny, that anyone who decides to formula feed their infant gets nearly stoned for not going the “breast is best” route.  Then we flip it around and hate on the moms who keep breastfeeding.  I realize I’m using the proverbial “we.”  If this doesn’t apply to “you,” then feel free to ignore.  But for all the rest of us: Lets STOP THIS!  Mothers are always criticizing mothers - breastfeed or not breastfeed, work or stay at home, work a lot or a little, nanny or daycare or grandma, etc, etc.  Even Fizzy’s post last week, illustrated how quickly we jump to judgement.  As clinicians we do know the literature and the evidence, but the first step in being able to do no harm is gaining the TRUST and RESPECT of our patients, and in order to do this there needs to be more tolerance and listening.

Anyway, I’m just all revved up.  I live in the Amendment 1 state.  Justice, tolerance.  I won’t say anymore than that.  Our political system is full of polar opposites, butting heads and refusing to compromise.  We’re arguing over reproductive rights of women... AGAIN!  WHAT IS GOING ON!!!

Can’t we all just get along?

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Today was one of those insanely busy days, the kind that I had never come close to encountering prior to having my first child. On top of my regular clinical duties, I had additional responsibilities that had been "saved" for me since I couldn't do them while (inconveniently) out on maternity leave. The end result was that I ran around like a headless chicken trying to round with my housestaff, see consults, see clinic patients, fit in two pumping sessions, and deal with some seriously crazy patient scenarios, straight out of Grey's Anatomy.

Today, multi-tasking was the only way I could survive. I seriously had almost no time to sit still, I barely ate lunch (two hours after I initially heated it in the microwave), and always, always took the stairs.

My most peaceful moments were, coincidentally, while pumping. At least then I had no choice but sit in my office and internet surf or read my email (probably against OSHA regulations to walk around the corridors while pumping).

Of course, during my second pumping session, I actually paged the resident I was working with on consults to discuss our patients, you know, seriously multi-tasking. I made no excuses for the background whirring noise. "I'm pumping," I announced unceremoniously at the beginning. There was no time to be modest.

(I knew she was a mother; I certainly wouldn't have said this if she were a man.)

She chuckled. "I've so been there."

Which is why I love working with housestaff who are mothers themselves. There's an unspoken understanding.

They get it.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Herbal Suspect

I first learned about the potential dangers of taking herbal supplements in medical school. The point was driven home by a patient with rhabdomyolysis. Another with acute liver toxicity. Many an attending warned us to ask about supplements or instilled the fear that anything could make it's way into an herbal pill, and thus their usage should be actively discouraged.

I frowned at the lack of strong evidence supporting their usage. I have to admit that I grouped those who used herbs (and usually it was multiple offenses) as a little bit out there. You know, a crunchier sort, not grounded in science or rigor.

My mother, as luck would have it, would fall into that group. She is all about the holistic and the natural. Her evidence has always been in the form of testimonials and N=1 logic. A friend cures constipation with mega doses of Vitamin C? She's on it. Her cousin's babysitter ate flaxseed once and had more energy? Done. A friend of a friend of a friend of a friend (who is wife to a physician!!!!) swears by walking on her hands to cure the hiccups? She asks for how long. I've often wondered how half my genes are from her.

I, on the other hand, harbor a healthy fear of supplements, with herbs topping the list. They frighten me because they can very well be biologically active in non-perfectly-elucidated ways. Perhaps it's the complete lack of control in terms of production, dosing, effect, and potency that scare the OCD scientist inside me. Then, there's the fear of hidden toxicity. Who knows what could happen? A couple of years ago, I would have never thought I would ever try taking herbal supplements. No way.

Yet, when I started stressing about returning to work and pumping enough to keep my newborn son fed exclusively on breastmilk a few months ago, I read with interest about fenugreek and Mother's Milk Tea. Really? Increase milk production? Mine more liquid gold with every pump? Of course, I didn't look into possible negative side effects at all; I didn't even care. If it meant being able to nurse longer, I would consider trying it. Fear of the unknown and the unaccounted for never entered the equation.

I decided to try Mother's Milk Tea. The ingredients include fennel seed, anise seed, coriander seed, spearmint leaf, lemongrass leaf, lemon verbena leaf, althea root, blessed thistle herb, and fenugreek seed. Listing out those ingredients makes me feel like a witch mixing a potion in a cauldron in my backyard.

I drank my first cup excitedly, thinking about how much more milk I'd produce that day. It tasted slightly bitter and medicinal, certainly nothing I would voluntarily choose to drink if given the option. Over the next few days, I diligently brewed my herbal concotion and did notice an increase in how much I pumped if I drank two or more cups a day. Maybe.

So, now, it's been a little over the month, and I have often wondered aloud why Costco doesn't carry Mother's Milk Tea by the crateload. For my child, I've recklessly turned from a science-based pragmatist into a herbal-tea-chugging junkie who's just looking for her next fix.

Which makes me think about how much motherhood (and the compulsiveness to be a "good mother") has changed me.

Also, if I grow a third eye, you'll know why.