One More Day {A Pumping Story}

image In case you haven’t heard, this is World Breast Feeding week.

Every year for the last three years, it’s rolled around and I’ve had many, many feelings.

But mostly, I feel shame.

Before my son was born, I planned to breastfeed. I took all of the classes, bought all of the nursing bras and tanks and Bamboobies and nipple creams. I even had phone numbers for two IBCLCs.

I was scared but determined.

I was ready.

My son was born at the crack of dawn and latched quickly. It hurt, but it was okay. He nursed all day and then into the night. Then he vomited profusely, covering my husband and me in colostrum and amniotic fluid. Then we all slept.

The next morning, he wouldn’t nurse. He was tired. I was tired. Sitting upright to nurse was extraordinarily painful for me, and I felt every ounce of the 3 liter blood loss I suffered during his birth.

That second day, I pumped colostrum and my husband fed it to our baby with a dropper. He perked up, but not much. Soon after, my newborn baby stopped breathing while feeding at my breast.

He turned blue.

As a trained medic, I knew what to do. I breathed for him. We called 911. He began breathing again.

The ambulance came. He stopped breathing again and continued to stop breathing every 10 minutes for the next 16 hours.

Our tiny baby boy had suffered a stroke.

Over the course of the next week, we would learn that a clot traveled through his body to his brain and destroyed cells in two areas in his right hemisphere. I would sit painfully upright in a wooden chair next to my son’s bed in a tiny NICU room where he teetered between heaven and earth.

And I pumped. Every three hours. I willed my body to make milk to feed him because when he decided to stay here with us, he would be hungry. That was a thing I could do. That was THE THING I could do.

The stroke left the left side of my baby’s body weak and slow to react. We did all of the home therapies the hospital showed us. I tried to latch him to my breast but he was unable to form a seal with his mouth because of the muscle weakness.

I was relieved. Deeply, shamefully relived. Because every time I held him to my body, I felt the terror of his near-death shoot through my body like ice water. Holding him to my bare breast sent me into a silent, self-loathing panic and all I saw was his tiny body turning blue.

So, I pumped. Every three hours around the clock.

When he had recovered enough muscle tone to nurse, he looked at me with fear in his eyes and screamed. He was terrified, too.

I passed him to my husband and pumped.

I accepted this breastfeeding failure. And the inadequacy began chipping away at my soul.

A few months later when he was diagnosed with a rare food allergy syndrome and it became clear that he would need my milk for many more months, I cried. Huge, selfish, shameful tears rolled down my face and onto my chest. I could not fathom pumping for another week, much less an undetermined amount of time.

As summer came, so did chronic mastitis. My boobs were done. I did all the things I was supposed to do to prevent it, but after 13 months, living on a 12 food elimination diet to keep my son’s profound food allergies in check and unrelenting stress, my body wanted to be done. But my baby wasn’t. I was still his sole source of nutrition.

Even if I wanted to quit, I could not.

I put a sticky note on my breast pump. It said “One More Day”.

That was my mantra in the morning during my first pumping session. It turned to “one more pumping session” and “5 more minutes of pumping” on hard days.

I watched my son grow as I sat on the couch and pumped. As my husband and friends fed my son the precious gold that came at a very dear cost to my mental, emotional, and physical well-being. I wanted this part to just be over.

And I felt the shame wash over me again.

My final pump session was not the wild, freeing, jubilant affair I believed it would be. After 21 months, I put that electric bastion of failure and disappointment in the closet and whispered “fuck you”.

Then I whispered it again.

Fuck. You.

To the pump.

To the closed closet door.

To my breasts.

To my kid.


To the stroke.

To God.

And then I put it all away.

This week, I opened up that closet and took out my pump. I looked at it with indifference. It was a tool, it was not my captor.
Then the ghost of the shame I’ve been carrying around all these many months reminded me that our story isn’t over yet. There is redemption in this. My pump made it possible to take exquisite care of my baby. It gave me a reason to continue living.

It was a literal saving grace in the midst of the most traumatic time of my life.

The shame is transforming, and transitioning into pride. I did that. Every three hours. Every damn day. For 21 months.

The “fuck you” has turned to deep, unspeakable gratitude. Gratitude for these breasts, that pump, and my healing, thriving 3 year old. Gratitude to God that I get to be his mom.

To all of you mamas making great sacrifices for your babies, no matter what those sacrifices are, you are unbeatable warriors and tidal forces of love. The world and your sweet babies are lucky to have you.

You can do this.






Working While Toddling {A Parenting Fail}

BestDayEverKinda2:55pm, Tuesday

I’m going to attempt something really ridiculous.  Ready?

I will blog while my toddler is awake.

(I’m trying to get a head start at this while he is asleep, FYI.)

As every Work-From-Home-Parent [WFHM] knows, nap time is GOLDEN.  All of the emails and texts you’ve been half-assedly (totally a word) responding to between buttering toast, playing dress up, unsnapping stuck legos, refilling water, putting toys back together, being a human racetrack and jungle gym? They get finished.  You get to do the real work, too.  Like feed yourself.  Maybe take a shower.  Type an entire sentence without your two year-old turning off your computer in one stealth move.

It’s like two hours of industrious, work-like-a-maniac Heaven.

But what if your kid doesn’t sleep?  What if your kid can only sleep on you? What if your kid decides to boycott nap time when you have a deadline or an important conference call? What then?

You let them watch TV.  Lots and lots of TV.  Except, what if your kid doesn’t like TV?  I know what you’re thinking, “What kid doesn’t like TV?!”.

My kid….just woke up.


Where was I? Nap time is golden. Right.  This whole work from home thing, unless your kid is napping, is HARD. I don’t know how you parents who work as accountants and speak in numbers ever get a complete thought out.  I use words, and words are what everyone else uses. But you use numbers.

(Snack break.  And I had to find his favorite matchbox car.)

(Where did that plastic bag come from? Nope, he definitely can’t have it.)

(Wrong snack.  He wanted a rice cake, not mango. Duh.)

(Needs activity. Giving him his new National Geographic Kids magazine.)


Of course, parenting in general is challenging unless your kid is asleep. That’s the best thing ever.  Do you know how productive I am during his sleep hours?  I feel like I have my brain back.

(Good God, WHERE DID HE FIND A BOTTLE OF WINE? It is still sealed shut with the foil intact. At least he knows to bring it to mommy…?)


(Neighbor just got here.  We are “working” together. Kind of.  After a quick social media update for our websites.)


(Neighbor is now getting sidetracked, taking care of toddler and giving him attention. This is a great plan.  I can get my work done!)

(And now my son has has officially abandoned the neighbor, and piled all of his stuffed animals on me.)


Am I still even writing?  Because I have NO IDEA what the frick I was saying to you.  Clearly it wasn’t that important, otherwise I would be able to pick right back up where I left off.

Words? Numbers? Algebra? What?

(And now I smell poop. Damnit.)

(Diaper check did not reveal poop, but there was too much pee to let it go. Then I had to let him climb me like a playground for a minute.)

(He’s “all done” with the rice cakes.  Now we’re moving on to a super nutritious snack of tortilla chips.)


To be honest, I’m surprised that I complete any one task, work or otherwise, while my toddler is awake.  If he’s not distracting me on purpose, I’m getting distracted on accident because I love to watch him move.  I love to see how he interacts with his toys, so I end up shooting sly glances and smiling to myself because he totally melts me.

(Except he dumped out all of his chips while I was writing that last thought because I refused to eat the chip he offered me.  Heartwarming, right? Is it bedtime yet? Wine time? BRB after I sweep up the mess.)


(Refilling his water bottle because he just dropped his cars into mine to tell me he was thirsty. Obvi.)


This work-from-home thing isn’t for the faint of heart.  All of you parents who figure out how to do this with with limited (if any) childcare or other support are my heroes.  And if you have multiple kids and do this, I will buy you dinner in exchange for your WFHP wizardry tips and tricks.

(Nope.  That is DEFINITELY poop.  Did he eat a rotten goat?  That is gagtastic.)

(How did poop get on my shirt? And my elbow? Quick break for a change of clothes and baby wipe bath.)


My husband is home, and he’s early, which means it’s time to take a shower and then start dinner.  I’ll clean this post up later tonight, during the most productive hours of my day when my son is sound asleep, and we are all fed and bathed and content after a long Tuesday.

I can’t wait to do this all over again tomorrow.


Your Fellow WFHP,



TinyTriumphEA couple of weeks ago, I posted this photo and narrative to Our Stable Table’s Facebook and Instagram pages.  I was thoroughly surprised at how far the post went, who was touched by it, and the outpouring of joy, celebration, tears, empathy, and love that came our way.

During the first few months of E’s life, he was drugged heavily to keep seizures at bay.  Once he weaned from the medicine and the effects wore off, he wanted very little to do with being close to me.  He rejected the boob, he rejected mommy’s comfort unless I was the only person available to hold and soothe him. My efforts to console, rock, and hold him close were met with terrified eyes, cries of protest an arching back, or hyperactivity. Yes, it was heartbreaking for me.  But I also fully understood the profound trauma he had experienced, and even though I ached to be his safe place, I knew I wasn’t.  I accepted it, supported him in his choice, and tried my hardest not to take it personally.

E has always been affectionate and sweet, generous with kisses and cuddles (as long as we are standing or sitting upright), and loves his mama. I see it in his eyes, in his playful actions. We laugh and joke and play with ease. But E has never been able to just let go and relax with me.  And he definitely hasn’t been able to sleep next to me.

If I’m completely vulnerable here, I couldn’t relax with him either.  E stopped breathing at my breast.  I blew air into his lungs to keep him alive.  For many days, I didn’t know if he would live or die.  For many months after that, E and I did not trust each other.  E didn’t trust my milk, my breast, my body.  I didn’t trust that E would stay, that he would keep breathing, keep overcoming.

Our trust was broken.

That moment, us cuddling and E sleeping on the couch?  That moment was our healing. The PTSD losing it’s iron-like hold on our hearts.  Our final defenses crumbling down. Both of us giving up the idea of control or hyper-vigilance and relaxing into what our bond is now.  It is unbearably sweet, tenuous, and victorious. It is brand new.

I can trust my son to stay and he can trust me to keep him safe.

I shared our couch cuddle with the Internet because these moments, the small victories that signify huge change and growth, often go unnoticed by us.  Unmarked.  Undocumented.  Unseen by others.  In the midst of heartbreak and fear, exhaustion and anxiety, these are the moments that keep me going.  It fuels me to keep fighting to restore what we have lost as a family, and advocate for the families out there who experience adversity that comes with life-altering circumstances.

So, I have a request: I want your moments. I want your #tinytriumphs.  I want your pictures, the small things that equal big progress and healing in your life and in your family.  I want to share these with other families who often feel hopeless and helpless (like my husband and I often do), because we need each other.  We need to be reminded of victory, even when it stings our exposed wounds.  This is how we move forward, even when the progress is painfully slow.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Send us your picture with a narrative of what is significant about that moment, around 100-300 words.  Fewer words are okay, too.

Ways to submit your #tinytriumphs:

  1. Email me.  Carrie at ourstabletable dot com.
  2. Tag OST on FB or IG, and be sure to change the settings to “Public” if you want us to share.
  3. Private message OST, and we will share it publicly.
  4. Include the #tinytriumphs in the post.

I can’t promise we will be able to share all of the submissions, but we will certainly try.  Because we need this.

We grow together, we mourn together, we celebrate together.  Everyone deserves a seat at the table, and your moments matter here.