Leaving My Baby

Libby has fully recovered from her mild case of the chicken pox. The blessing of her getting it last week was that it allowed me to be home with her, which was extra special since I'll be leaving her for 5 days and 4 nights this coming week. I have a conference in Chicago to attend for work and we've decided that rather than have her and mom come with me, like we did in October when I had to go to Seattle for work, we'd just have her stay home with J and my mom and I'd go alone. I am nervous and anxious about it. Not so much about Libby...she'll probably do just fine with daddy and grandma!

I've never been away from Libby for longer than 18 hours! And we're still nursing so I am worried about how she'll do without her "mama milk" and how my supply will fare. I've only ever pumped once a day and never relied on pumping alone to maintain my supply. So I plan to pump at least 5 times each day that I am away (Tues-Sat). I've arranged for a mini-fridge in my hotel room so I can store the milk. Since Libby won't do previously frozen milk, my hope is to bring it back and give it to the adoptive mom to whom I've been donating my extra milk. I want to bring it back refrigerated, not frozen, so the mom can either use it right away or freeze it and use it when she needs it. If I try to freeze it at the hotel I am worried it will defrost by the time my flight home lands and then she'll have to ALL of it within 48 hours or toss it. We shall see.

For now, my plan is to pump, scald using an electric hot pot (I did this in Seattle) and then cool the milk in the fridge. Once it's cool I'll transfer it to a Lanisoh Milk Storage Bag. I'll collect all of those bags into one or two gallon Ziploc bags and place in my soft-sided cooler bag to bring home on the plane. When I check out of the hotel, I'll get a bag of ice to keep things cool until I get to the airport. Then, I'll toss that and once I clear TSA with the milk, get some more ice from a vendor on the other side. I hope this works! I've been scouring the Internet for tips from other pumping-and-traveling mamas and this is what they do (except for the scalding thing...which only mamas with excess lipase have to do). I know it seems like a lot to manage and it would be so much easier to pump-and-dump, but that's a lot of precious breastmilk to waste when it could feed a baby! I am guessing I'll have 100+ ounces to bring back...hopefully TSA will be cool about it. I've downloaded their latest guidelines for nursing mothers traveling with milk but without their baby and plan to have a copy on me if I am given any hassles about it. I pray that I don't end up in a scenario like this nursing mother! Sadly, this went down in November 2010, so I am hoping the TSA in Chicago know better than these morons in Phoenix.

Libby has never taken much expressed breastmilk in my absence. She definitely prefers her mama's milk straight from the source. Typically, she'll take 1-2 oz. by cup in the mornings, before breakfast, while I am at work. I usually come home at lunchtime and she nurses. Then she'll hold out until 4 p.m when I get home and nurse some more. Between 4-7 p.m. she typically nurses 2-3 times and has dinner. These nursing sessions include the one before bed. And she'll wake 1-2 times before 5 a.m. and nurse. Since we're doing Baby Led Weaning and still actively nursing she gets the bulk of her nutrition (probably close to 75%) from my milk still.

So I am really anxious to know how she'll handle me being gone for 5 days. I hope deciding not to take her is the right choice. She refuses to take any previously frozen milk and doesn't like cow's milk. So, I've been pumping like a mad woman since Tuesday to store as much "fresh milk" for her as possible. I've got about 30 oz. in there now and think I'll be able to add 15-20 more to the stash before I depart on Tuesday morning. So that'll give her about 10 oz. milk/day. The rest? I've told my mom and J to get as much food in  her as possible, especially higher-fat foods like full-fat yogurt and cottage cheese (which she likes to eat) and offer her cow's milk at regular intervals. If she refuses the cow's milk then offer her water. Luckily, she's in the 90th percentile for weight so even if she drops a little weight while I am gone it won't be detrimental. I am hoping she'll take the cow's milk if she's really wanting milk and has had all of mine for the day. If it's gets desperate and she's hardly eating anything, they can give her a little fruit and vanilla ice cream milkshake. I've also asked my mom and J not to share too many details about how much she has or hasn't eaten or how much milk she's taken because it'll just make me insane to be a thousand miles away and unable to do anything about it.

Wish me luck. I hope it goes well for her. And me. And J and my mom. Right now I just have a pit in my stomach even thinking about it.