Bottled Up

Even though I had a wonderful time at BlogHer and am so glad I got to attend this year, leaving Caroline was a mistake. I shouldn’t have done it. I should have realized this wasn’t the right time to go and sold my ticket and spent the weekend hiding from Twitter, feeling sorry for myself and glaring at Caroline…but at least I would have been here for her. Every time I saw someone with a baby I was wracked with guilt and babbled endlessly about how I had a baby too but she was at home and I was pumping and I’m sure my husband had gotten her to eat by now even thought she’s never taken a bottle before but don’t think I’m a bad mom… and I secretly worried they thought exactly that.

It didn’t help that one mom said “Oh, I could NEVER leave my baby” in that tone of voice moms use when they’re judging you (even if they don’t THINK they are judging you and would deny it TO THEIR DEATH). Like the SAHM to the working mom: “Oh you are so strong! I don’t know HOW I could leave little Johnny all day!” or the cloth diaper mom to the disposable mom: “Oh I WISH I hated the environment so much that I didn’t care about filling up the landfills!” Well, maybe not that last one. But you get the idea.

One of my challenges is that I have never pumped with a purpose before. The freezer full of milk I left E with was just overflow from my early days of engorgement or Caroline sleeping a few extra hours at night. (Sidebar: I thought I had a GAZILLION GALLONS of milk in the freezer but between bottles she refused, bottles she didn’t finish, and a few bags with holes/freezer burn I came back to less than 20 oz. I was shocked.) I’ve never pumped to actually empty my boobs before, or to keep up my supply, and both proved to be a lot harder than I anticipated. While I was traveling all I had was a couple of hand pumps – my plan was to pop one on each side and get the job done faster – but doing that while standing up in an airport bathroom was impossible. And messy.

I was so sore. I couldn’t move without a constant reminder I was away from my baby and I SHOULDN’T be. My body was straight up guilt tripping me with the added benefit of physical pain to make it EXTRA GUILTY. It distracted me from focusing on the people I was there to meet and prevented me from giving everyone the hugs I was there to give.

Thank GOD the kind people from Hygeia Baby lent me a double electric EnJoye breastpump while I was at the conference  (and that my roommate was kind enough to drag it back to the hotel for me)(and also show me how to use it because I was freakin’ TERRIFIED the first time I looked in the box). By Friday afternoon I had gotten the hang of the fancy double electric action and was a regular milk machine, filling up bag after bag to donate to a local mom. I LOVED that pump.

But Sunday screwed everything up again – I returned the fancy pump and was left with my hand pump, I was stuck in an airport, and it was almost midnight when I got home. I had only pumped three times all day and after just a few minutes of nursing Caroline I was out of milk. My once insanely-overabundant supply had dwindled and we had to use the last of the frozen stash to calm the baby down. BOOB FAIL.

I threw my diet out the window and threw a giant chocolate bar into my face and I THINK we’re almost back to normal in terms of milk production but there still seems to be a lot of screaming. I suspect a top front tooth is to blame (which was NOT such a nice surprise on my poor nipple) but I’m going to worry about my supply constantly until the screaming quiets down a little. It’s made reentry to real life post-BlogHer (what?! it’s HARD) stressful and sleepless, both of which hurt my supply even MORE and then I’m trapped in a vicious cycle and can’t get out.

Also, I don’t think E is ever going to forgive me for the screaming he put up with before Caroline caved on the bottle. (She DID eventually cave, and now sucks them down like a champ. She might actually even PREFER the bottle, but too bad so sad baby girl, it’s back to the tap for you.) I suspect there was a LOT of screaming, but he’s being vague on exactly HOW AWFUL things were. Bless him for not complaining – although it might be because he’s barely speaking to me – but it hasn’t helped me feel any better about the situation.

So, to sum up, I am a selfish bitch who is now starving her baby and her husband hates her. I’m not doing so good at this mom gig right now.

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53 Responses to “Bottled Up”

  1. Joanna says:

    Oh Suzanne. You are so so so so far from a selfish bitch or bad mom. I’m so sorry about the whole supply/pumping thing but you didn’t do anything wrong by enjoying something to yourself. You’re an amazing mom. I am inspired (and often in complete awe) of all of the awesome things you do with both of your kids as I haven’t even ventured to the grocery store with both of mine.

    I hope things get back to “normal” for you soon.

    • bebehblog says:

      Thank you Joanna! And don’t be afraid of the grocery store – people are very forgiving of screaming/yelling/forgotten wallets when you have adorable babies, and you definitely do!

  2. Kitty Conner says:

    You, young lady, are amazing. Mom, blogger, crafty person, feeder of actual human beings from your actual human body, whatever. You are excellent at all of it.

    That is all. Amazing. Full stop.

  3. Sara says:

    OK so I just started reading your blog recently, but I have to say there is NO WAY that taking a few days to yourself in any way made you a bad mom/wife/person at all!

    Too bad, so sad, back to the tap… LOL

  4. Shut your face! That’s not even a little bit true!!! I’m sure you will all be back to normal in no time!

  5. molly says:

    Awwww, Suzanne. I’m so sorry to hear your return to normal life hasn’t been so normal. I know it will go smoother with a few more days.

    And don’t you feel guilty for one second! You are with your kids all.the.time. You never ever get a break from being, well, everything to them. You were rockin’ it at blogher. You were a networking pro! I think it was good for you. You might not feel like it was now but soon you’ll be really really glad you went.

    (((hugs)))

  6. Leah says:

    Caroline doesn’t hate you. E doesn’t hate you. Your boobs don’t hate you. All will recover and likely not even remember the bad times. Plus, E can now say that he is the one who finally conquered the Great Ginger Bottle Refusal of 2011. Like, make him a medal or something.

  7. Sarah says:

    Oh Suzanne, that does sound so hard. I hope I wasn’t too flip this morning when you mentioned it – I didn’t want to make a big deal! Teething does sound like a screaming culprit, and I’m sure you know all the supply-boosting things (oatmeal is pretty low points, I think, for a big galactalog) to try. She looked very happy this morning at class!

  8. MKP says:

    xs and os, my friend – we all love you and your family does too.

    Just because things are hard doesn’t mean they’re not worth doing. In fact usually the opposite is true. And it kind of sounds like you think it’s no big deal if you have to put up with screaming but E shouldn’t have to, which… that’s not equality in parenting (I know these were special circumstances, and you were feeling guilty already and dealing with biology-related consequences to your decisions too). You and your kids have WHOLE LIVES ahead of you that are going to be in-no-way affected by the time you took a trip and went away for a long weekend. And if you did some how wound Caroline’s tender soul, you can always give her the extra iPad.

  9. Kimberly says:

    I didn’t go this year- not because “I could never leave my baby” (there are definitely moments I think I would like to leave for much longer than 3 days) – but because I was not as brave as you were. I didn’t have the confidence in myself or my husband to make it work, and I regret it.
    I hope you get to take a nice long nap today- everything always feels better after a nap :)

  10. Robyn says:

    Suzanne

    i know how you feel. i am eaten up with Mommy guilt every time i leave my daughter to go to work. i know logically that i am a good mom, and i would stay home with her if i could, but a big part of me still feels guilty. yet, she still loves me everyday and prefers my company to anyone else, even though she spends the majority of her time with someone else. you are a great mom, and Caroline and E still love you, i promise. it actually was probably good for E to spend that much time alone with the kids. i love the fact that i know for certain that if i left for a few days, my husband and daughter would do just fine together. and now you guys know the same thing. i think it’s good for dads to know that. i think it gives them confidence to be even better dads.

    and also, thank you for sharing the horrors of pumping. i pumped religiously at work for over a year and it was tough. i nursed when we were together, but pumping was always the thorn in my side. and worrying about my supply was a constant battle. people who dont’ have to or choose not to pump have no idea. i wish my co workers could read this post and understand why it was so important for me to have my 3, 15 minutes breaks to go pump for my child.

  11. Audrey says:

    It’s not selfish to have fun. You deserve to have fun. Plus it was work! And also, your babies and husband are alive, yes? Limbs and eardrums still attached? Well then. See? You did fine, kid. Adjustment periods will be painful but not permanent.

    • Audrey says:

      Also – as a SAHM I’m always looking at moms and dads who go to jobs not as inferior to my motherly care..but with envy. ENVY I TELL YOU! Love my kids and my free time..would KILL for adult time more often, though.

  12. Cole says:

    I have no advice or helpful comments (you know Mommy and I are no breastfeeding experts), but I can offer sympathy! I hope everyone feels better soon {hugs}

  13. Mama Fisch says:

    You are beating yourself up and you shouldn’t. You deserved to go and I am just sorry that the experience was tainted because of your guilt, pumping etc…
    Pumping is a pain. As a working mom, my pump was my best friend and even though I eventually became an EP, if my supply dipped, all I had to do was nurse.
    Hang in there…re-entry whether it’s summer vacation to school, or a 4 day trip to BlogHer is HARD! You will find your way…

  14. You are such selfish bitch. Jeez.

    Stop beating yourself up. Taking time for Mommy is one of the most important things you can do for your children… And it’s also a great way to give your husband perspective should he ever question what you do all day.

    I will say though, there certainly were an abundance of cute babies at BH… However, seeing the pics? Yours are cuter :)

  15. Anna says:

    Oh honey, you are amazing.

  16. Jessica says:

    Just started reading your blog recently and I just have to tell you, you are SO brave! No one hates you, my DD would never take a bottle either and I let that trap me (as a SAHM), and I am so envious of you because I know had I left her she would have taken it and been fine. Just as I am sure Caroline was. I’m sure E doesn’t hate you, maybe envious of your trip?! I am! Wish I had enough confidence to even restart my blog! :-D Beautiful babies you have by the way!

    • bebehblog says:

      I let the no-bottles thing trap me with my first and I still regret it. I was miserable by the end – I couldn’t even say nice things about breastfeeding because I was so angry. So I think in the end two weeks (at the most) of unhappiness will be worth it. Thank you!

  17. barbra says:

    As others have said, you were right to go. E does not hate you. Do you hate E for all the times you dealt with a screaming mad baby while he was off doing something else? You might have been cursing him under your breath in the moment, but you don’t hate him. And just think about all the times you dealt with a mad baby by yourself compared to the number of times E has dealt with a mad baby by himself. No contest.

    E knows that and that’s why he is being vague about how bad it really was. It might not have been that bad, or it might have. It doesn’t matter. E knows you deserved to go and that everything will be just fine. Not to say he wasn’t cursing blogher under his breath in the moment (he very well might have been and more power to him). But he wasn’t cursing at you or the bebehs.
    You once gave me a piece of advice when I was in the throes of a breastfeeding disaster and I think it applies here as well: we as moms beat ourselves up over issues that seem huge now, but are really just a tiny piece of our babies’ long childhood. (I still repeat this to myself at times).
    Your baby and your hubby have probably already forgotten the whole thing. Go have a great weekend together as a family. Have a glass of wine on that fabulous patio.

    • bebehblog says:

      Sometimes the line between HATE and RESENT is really really thin. But in the end, no, no one hates ANYBODY.

      Wine on the patio is EXACTLY what we need. xoxo

  18. Amanda says:

    Okay, obviously, OBVIOUSLY you are an amazing mother. But maybe you are right that going away wasn’t the right decision for your family. Both those things can be true.

    *Total bitch warning – I am going to get seriously flamed here*

    I find that the comments on blogs tend to be kind of sycophantic. In your original post, I was a little bothered by the refusal of the commenters to really address the issue you were looking for advice on. There were a zillion women – some of whom I’m sure you know in real life, but many of whom I gather were people you only know through blogging – saying versions of “Go! You deserve it, Mama!” And that bugged me, not because I disagreed with them, but because it was completely irrelevant to the issue of whether Caroline needed you to stay, which was what you were worried about. Sure you deserve it. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for your family, and most of the commenters probably wouldn’t really be in a position to judge what was right for your family.

    That’s what I wanted to say, but I was cowed by all the other comments, so instead I just said If you go, make sure that you have a trial separation to see if Caroline will cave on the bottle, and make sure that you have a plan in place for how to keep your supply up.

    So now reading this, it bugs me that again there are a bunch of women saying that going was the right thing to do because you deserved it, instead of addressing the issue of whether it was the right thing for your family. This time I’ll say what I actually think. If you feel it was a mistake, you are probably right. You know your family far better than any commenter on this blog. That doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad mother, just someone who made a mistake and will hopefully learn from it. And maybe the bigger lesson to be learned here is that just because a bunch of commenters on the internet tell you something, especially something you want to hear, doesn’t mean that they’re right.

    • bebehblog says:

      I do not think anyone is going to flame you – HEY, FRIENDS, DON’T FLAME AMANDA – and I appreciate your honesty.

      We DID actually try a trial-run with the bottle but she was stubborn and E wasn’t willing to go through all the crying TWICE. But she was drinking from the side of a cup and eating a lot more solids so I figured she would survive, even if she wasn’t happy. Which is what happened. She took the bottle. It just took…a while.

      I suspect a lot of the guilt I am feeling is because I am imagining I have done TERRIBLE IRREVERSIBLE DAMAGE to my baby, which is not true. It’s just not. But when my husband is still annoyed about The Epic Crying it makes it SEEM like she’s practically signing up for therapy already. And my (suspected) decrease in supply is a reminder I wasn’t nursing. But my supply is almost back to normal (I’m betting it’s through the ROOF by Monday because of the teething-nursing) and in the end the skill she’s learned is going to make my husband AND me better parents, because we’ll be able to go see a movie for the first time in THREE YEARS.

      And like Jill said above, I REALLY needed this weekend. I was close to the end of my rope with no break in sight without BlogHer to look forward to, so even if leaving made me feel guilty and in hindsight I should have reconsidered, I am going to be a better mother NOW because of it.

      • Suzanne says:

        I totally feel your pain, Suzanne. My daughter never took a bottle and now that I am preganant with my second, I told my husband that we HAVE to make sure the next one takes a bottle. I have friends who nurse and pump and I cannot get over how they actually go out on dates with their husbands and leave theif baby for more than 2 hours. We never did that. For over a year.

        I have heard other people who had the same problem as us, and the only solution I EVER heard that worked was for the mom to be somehow out of the picture while the father deals with a screaming baby until they eat. So E is in a brotherhood of a lot of other dads who “man up” when the situation arrives.

        In the end, it doesn’t matter WHY you were gone. And I think that you do deserve to have a weekend at blogher- or whatever- and I am not being sycophantic. I just have been there with the baby who won’t take a bottle, and the pressure is so high for a nursing mom. It can make you crazy and resentful of your husband for all of those months, which is detrimental ot the marriage. In the long run, this will be best for everyone in the family. E (or a babysitter) can give an occasional bottle. You can have a date night with E or even with Little Evan and not be miserable who whole time you are gone, worrying that Caroline is hungry and inconsolable. This is a good thing.

        Glad you had fun!

  19. Post-event bummers are always the worst, but they’re a constant of of any conference! Things will go back to normal before you know it!

  20. :( You are NOT a bad mom. We had nearly the same experience, minus the bottle refusal. But, the rest? Pretty similar. I just posted a lighthearted post about how I came home to a thinner baby. I was making fun of it, but it made me sad. She actually thinned out in 5 days because Scott was afraid he wouldn’t have enough milk and gave her a ton of purees.

    For the first 48 hours after I was home, she was SUPER fussy. She fought and fought me for naps, scratched and pulled and bit my breasts. I’m 99% sure it’s because my supply took a huge hit, and also because she was now used to and preferred the faster flow of a bottle. It was hard.

    We’ve worked through it and are back in our routine. I feel a smidge bad, but I’m not going to let myself get too upset about it. I needed last week. I really, really needed it. I hope you can come to terms with what last week and feel less guilty about it, too.

    • bebehblog says:

      If you can make enough milk for that squishy round thing you call a baby then I can DEFINITELY catch up. Thank you for the support!

  21. Krista says:

    No. No. No. No. No. No. You are not a bad mom or a bad wife. You deserved to go. You thought long and hard about it and you were right to go. Teeth are dirty rotten bastards. And maybe E is just in awe of what you do everyday!

    • bebehblog says:

      If I knew FOR SURE she was fussing because of the teeth, I wouldn’t even have written this because teething is not my fault. Stupid teeth!!!

  22. I think either way you would have had regrets. This way I got to hang out. Selfish Amy is glad you came.

  23. Katherine says:

    Ok you STOP that negative talk RIGHT NOW!!! Seriously. You are not a selfish bitch. You guys all survived. You’ve all recovered. And you know what? I think you’re all stronger for it too. Right? I had to leave Rylee for work when she was 3 months old and while she already took a bottle like a champ she had only ever had breast milk. We had a good stash in the freezer. SInce I was working I had an electric pump already but even with the electric pump it is HARD to pump in an airport bathroom. You know where else it sucks to pump? A Porta-Potty! Yep. Did that. Hope I never have to do it again! SO I for sure feel your pain w/ the pumping in awkward locals. But…seriously…you are a fantastic loving mother and wife and do NOT second guess that. Ever.

  24. Alena says:

    I don’t have a teething breast feeding baby….but I came home to a child who hadn’t been on a schedule since I had left 5 days prior. It sucked. Bad. She was a cranky fussy mess. And for whatever reason she’s not eating as much (And considering she could out-eat ME that’s saying something). But part of being there for my family is being there for myself. Cody doesn’t think twice when he has to go. And in the hierarchy of a military spouse our needs almost always come last to our children, our spouse and the military.

    Everyone is healthy and alive. And you got a break. And your soul got fed. Boom.

  25. Callie says:

    All this talk about boobs and milk just made me let down… thanks. lol.

  26. Upstatemamma says:

    As I just said to you on twitter I went through the same thing a little over a year ago. I went away and left my daughter. I was worried about how she would do, I felt guilty, I kind of hated myself for going. I blogged incessantly (having mini tantrums even) before I left. My husband and I fought a bunch. But in the end I went. A year later I can say if I had to do it again I’d bring my daughter with me. Not because she has had any lasting damage or anything just because I would have felt better about it. In the end, though, I am glad I went. At the time I felt it was a big mistake but now I am glad I went. Someone said above if you feel it was a mistake it probably was. I don’t know about that.It’s only been a few days. In a few months, when you have fully recovered and have gotten your routine back you will know. And only you can know. And next year you will have to make the decision again – and it will be different because the whole situation will be different.

    But most importantly you are not a bad mom! You are a great mom! Mistake or not you are still a great mom!!!

    • bebehblog says:

      The conflicted feeling is the WORST, right? I am GLAD I went, I had a GREAT TIME. It was good for me and is going to make me a better mom because I got to be MYSELF for a few days and not just Mama. But was it what was IDEAL for the baby at that point in time? No. But lots of children survive things that aren’t ideal – even in loving, supportive, wonderful families – and they aren’t damaged for life. Thank you for understanding.

  27. Nancy says:

    Anyone that makes you feel guilty is just jealous that they couldn’t get a little break hehe.

  28. Veronica says:

    I brought my baby and it still sucked. I told you privately why but I swear to God sometimes I feel like society as a whole has turned against me to prevent me from doing anything but taking care of my husband and children. I went and while I did not have the time of my life and it was one of the roughest weekends of all time I am glad I did it to prove to myself I can. The no bottle thing is effing hard and if she likes the bottle now you won and i am jealous. harumph.

  29. Veronica says:

    And anyone that was all oh I could never have left myyyy baby is an ass.

    • bebehblog says:

      I’m sure I said the same thing at some point when I was nursing Little Evan – because I felt like I COULDN’T leave my baby, because he might CRY and if he cried too much he would DIE, right????? But it stung to hear someone say it when I was already feeling bad.

  30. Jennie says:

    #1 “too bad so sad baby girl, it’s back to the tap for you”– YEA, still giggling.

    #2 not that you need a reason to drag two kids to the grocery store… BUT– Mother’s milk tea… BEST STUFF EVER. (Taste’s like rotting compost on crack…but it works. I found that drinking it cold made the taste more palatable. And with a nursing screaming infant, and a toddler, I suppose, like me, you are used to drinking your beverages cold.)

    #3 I wish I was brave enough, to be a good Mom to my kids to be a little bit selfish and take a few days off to enjoy being what is left of ME. It doesn’t make you a bitch, if anything, it makes you the opposite of one. My oldest is SEVEN and my youngest 18 months this week (HOLY CRAP!) and come October I will take my FIRST EVER long weekend away from my children to go on an anniversary trip. Can we say LONG. OVER. DUE.?

    You are blessed my dear. And an inspiration to many. Chin up. This too shall pass. Luckily, Caroline won’t remember it, and in six months time, you’ll find it comical.

  31. Londonmum says:

    Mummy guilt is a pain in the a…
    You don’t hear much about daddy guilt do you? Not having a go at dads, I am just saying that mums are wired to feel the guilt way more. Leaving your kids is going to make you feel bad… How will they survive without their mum?? Well, they do. They might yell a bit but they are fine and weirdly, not damaged for life.
    I finally stopped breastfeeding my son when he was 8 months because I went on a work trip for 6 days and I felt dreadful but he has turned out ok ;-)
    Breastfeeding is hard because it does tie you to the baby constantly and you never get a break. That made me hugely resentful of my husband last time and this time round I am going to give my new one a bottle once in a while (of shock horror ….formula…I am such a bad mum ).
    If getting a little break once in a while means that I am a less stressed mum then surely that can only be a good thing for my family.
    You are a great mum, reading your blog for months and anyone can see that.
    Life is too short to beat yourself up, let Caroline ‘s new tooth take care of that and you’ll all be back to normal soon enough x

  32. raincheckmom says:

    Face it. When has that happy joyful baby ever been miserable? When she’s teething…

    It is a nasty coincidence that it happened on the heels of your trip….

  33. Kelsey says:

    So here’s the thing. I’m a working mom and this guilt thing gets old quickly if you let it bother you. You have to just take control of your emotions and choose the emotions that will empower you to be the best mom you can be TODAY, in this moment. My son Owen refuses to breastfeed on Friday nights, after a week of bottles at day care. Then he adjusts over the weekend and by Monday he refuses bottles at day care. So no matter how often you do this, or how prepared you are (Amanda and her “plan”), the baby calls the shots. And the baby ain’t that reasonable.

    Good luck continuing to adjust back. Also? See if you can work a bottle every 2 days into your routine so that future getaways or even date nights aren’t nerve-wracking for you and Caroline and E (or sitter). She’s taking the bottles now so don’t let her forget how!!!!!

  34. TMae says:

    You know, here I am, with a kid who’s going to be TWO in less than a month, and I *still* can’t bring myself to leave him. Because I’ve gotten so sucked in to the bullshit that flies back and forth about what makes a MOM a GOOD MOM. Leave him, he’s nursing you can’t leave him, you need to leave him, etc. And the roar just gets so loud that I crawl into a corner and hide. And I’ve been to exactly 1 movie sans husband or child in almost 2 years.

    Which is my somewhat convoluted way of saying; I don’t think you made a bad decision. I think that sometimes things, initially, look like they were bad decisions because they cause stress and force change and accommodation, but that really, in the end, they were fine decisions that just required a little period of adjustment. I hope you all have adjusted, and her tooth is in, and you’re shooting milk across the room. Sincerely. ACROSS THE ROOM. :-)

  35. Julie S. says:

    Oh you are NOT a bad mom! Hindsight is always 20/20, and you had both of your interests at heart before deciding to go. I am sorry that it is painful (I remember weaning Brayden) and that it was hard on your hubby- but this too shall pass. It’s a short time in life- so just keep pressing on, and a new season awaits! :)

  36. […] bebehblog on August 19, 2011 TweetWhen I’m not busy abandoning/starving* her, Caroline is still the sweetest baby ever. Notice I didn’t say “most […]

  37. Kodi says:

    I’m just now reading this, and I don’t nurse but I’ve totally been the same way about leaving my baby just because of his schedule and I know his little idiosyncrasies but I know it’s really not good for me to never take an hour alone. That was a horrible run-on sentence but you know what I’m saying. Getting away makes us better moms and our children would probably benefit from not having everything go their way 24/7.

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