Postpartum Joint Pain, breastfeeding & more travels

My blood test results all came back within the normal range – however, I am still missing some results, so not all questions have been answered. The doctor wasn’t sure why the results hadn’t come back yet or if those particular tests were ever done. But so far my rheumatoid arthritis factor, insulin and inflammation levels, they are all within the normal range.  That’s a relief to hear that it is unlikely to be rheumatoid arthritis.  So the doctor who called me with the results (not my doctor because she was on leave) prescribed me naproxen to see if that would help alleviate. The drugs made no difference, I took them for a week but no change.  I still wake up in the morning very stiff, sore and in pain in my hands, wrists, toes, ankles and knees.  And then throughout the day my fingers will be noticeably sore at various points unless I keep them moving.  So the current theory remains – postpartum joint pain, crazy hormones, and apparently my body is unlikely to return to normal until after I stop breastfeeding.

Some things people in my breastfeeding support group who had experienced similar suggested – cutting out grains (apparently causes inflammation), vitamin D supplements, chiropractor and naturopathic doctor.  I’m inclined to find a naturopathic doctor.  Part of my brain has been tempted to stop breastfeeding as a result of the pain, but then I figure what if it has nothing to do with breastfeeding?  Then I’d be stopping for no reason, and I’d regret it.  And I’m not going to do that just yet.

I’ve been on work travels again, to Paris this time, and it was another reminder of how much of a pain in the ass pumping is.  Dragging the pump, parts, storage, sanitizing stuff, special bag, hands free bra and cover, through airport security, across the Atlantic and to my host office is tiresome.  Trying to remember to make sure I have everything in my bag, cleaning out the bottles and parts, proper storage and handling, dumping milk I can’t store, it gets tedious, especially doing all this in another country.  One of my colleagues said he was impressed I am still doing it, but I said I’m probably more stupid than impressive.

I’m only pumping three times a day now, I should definitely be doing four pumps because my supply has suffered, so I’m supplementing a couple of ounces a day.  Whilst I have been on my travels Chris has been feeding Aviana milk from my frozen stash.  I managed to build up 6.5 days supply from May to July back when I had a couple of ounces to freeze at the end of the week.  I am hoping I can replace the four days supply with milk I’ve been pumping whilst in Paris – I’m currently carrying with me about 70oz home in my checked luggage.  I’m hoping it all survives the journey, because my days of any over-supply are gone.  I’ve had a little bit of success at increasing my supply with lactation cookies, body armour drink mother’s milk tea, but only managed to get an extra 1-2oz per day, so I’ve been short a few ozs still.  I don’t want to stress over it, so I’m not going to go to extra ordinary lengths to get my supply back up.  The only other thing I might try is consider renting a hospital grade pump to see if that makes a difference; my pump is second hand, so there is a slight chance it’s losing its power and has not been removing the milk enough. Exclusively pumping is HARD!  My hats off to all of you who do it all the time.  I’m not sure I would have survived this long if it hadn’t been for the facebook group ‘exclusively pumping mamas’.

Speaking of travels, this time was harder to leave Aviana than it was when I last travelled in May.  Mostly, because I feel like she notices when I am there or not, but also because I generally miss her more!  I also miss Chris too and get jealous of them having fun together.  My next work trip is in October, but this time I am taking Aviana with me because I have two conferences in the UK, but I would be leaving Chris behind for two weeks!  I will be flying transatlantic on my own with a 9.5 month old, who is on the verge of being mobile.  I swore I wouldn’t fly again on my own with a baby!  Am I crazy?  Probably. No, definitely. BUT it’s a great opportunity to take Aviana back to see family and friends, so I will seize this as a positive opportunity and try not to worry about the possibility of a few (several) hours of hell.

Currently, Aviana and I are not sitting together on the transatlantic flight because we have two different classes of tickets (in economy!).  American airlines have not been very helpful when I called them to see if we could get seats together in the ones designed for infants, but the woman on the phone said “you need to do it online otherwise I have to charge you $50 to do it on the phone or wait to check in”.  Clearly this woman was not understanding the fact that I couldn’t do it online and waiting to check in would probably mean the chances of us sitting together would be zero – and oh, did I mention I am with my 9 MONTH OLD BABY?!?!  She couldn’t understand why I paid for a seat anyway, was her attitude.  Clearly she hasn’t flown transatlantic with a baby before.  I was at work so didn’t have time to complain, accepted it in typical British fashion.  So now I reckon I will be sat in the middle of a row pissing other passengers off with my squirming, crying baby on a red eye.  But I have a plan – I’ve put my seat in the ‘extra leg room’ seat (I get it for free because of my airline miles status)…and am hoping someone traveling on their own who is currently sat next to Aviana will jump at the chance to swap with me to get extra leg room.  IT’S SOOOOO STUPID.

Wish me luck!!!

How my 3 month baby coped with jet lag and flying transatlantic

Guys…if you ever travel transatlantic you will know that it is harder to cope with jet lag when travelling East than it is West. Well, not my 3 month old baby!!!! She was the complete opposite. What a weirdo.

I GTS’d* ‘baby and jet lag’ and found little scientific evidence about what was going to happen to my baby when she travels across time zones. I found some tips, but no one was really in agreement. My sense is that it totally depends.  I was curious if at 3 months old my baby had any circadian rhythm at all. I’ve always questioned how she has been so good at going to bed every night no fail at 7pm. Was it the bedtime routine? Or was it the daylight cueing her to sleep for 6,7,8hrs straight?

So this is what happened….

Aviana proved that she didn’t need a bedtime routine to fall asleep for her long night time stretch of sleep, she fell asleep in her buggy before we boarded the flight (a little later than usual – around 7.30pm) and stayed asleep until her usual time of getting up for her mid-night feed.  Our flight was at 10pm, she stayed asleep when we visited the lounge, when we boarded the plane, when she cuddled on my lap as the plane took off and even when we transitioned her into the bassinet that slots into the bulkhead. What a superstar. 

Aviana in her bassinet on the American Flight to London Heathrow

Once we arrived in London I carried her in the mei tai carrier (because the buggy was taking too long to get off aircraft so I had to pick it up from the baggage carousel) and she fell asleep in that too as we went through customs and picked up our baggage. She was great. The new environment didn’t stop there for baby girl, we then drove for 1.5hrs to my parents house. That was the longest she has ever been in a car. She didn’t fuss and slept for most of that too. (BTW inbetween all this sleep I was feeding and changing her ;-p). We then had another 1.5hr car journey to my gran’s house and she was brilliant again. After all that sleeping and change I wondered if she would stay up all night and stay on US time. So I put her down for what I thought would be a nap at 6.15pm UK time…and she just kept on sleeping right through to 3am as if she was on her normal time zone! What is this witch craft??! And for the rest of the holiday she stayed on UK time and generally went down to sleep at 7-8pm as usual.

Baby carrier was essential when we landed in London Heathrow

What about the journey back to the US? Well first of all that journey was crazy because it was a daytime flight. How do you entertain and tire out a 3 month old baby on a plane for 8 hours!?? Fortunately I was sat in a seat with a bassinet by the window and the seat next to me was empty and in the aisle seat was a Jewish man. I only mention that because I’m not sure he was overly comfortable with me breastfeeding next to me, but I have read that in Judaism it is permissible to breastfeed in public in modesty, but I’m not all clued up on different sects. I like to think I’m modest when I’m feeding Aviana and he didn’t change seats, so I think we were both OK about it in the end. I digress…..I asked if he would like to swap seats because I anticipated I would be getting up a lot with baby. But he declined. Something I think he may have regretted because I made him get up about 20 times during the flight to let me out!! Plus, like I said, there were plenty other seats free on the plane!!!

Throughout the flight Aviana kept a good routine of eat, play, sleep, but she didn’t sleep well because our seats were right next to the galley, so there was a lot of loud banging. She was a little grumpy as a result. Going through customs I put her in the baby carrier and she screamed blue murder. So much so in the immigration hall I was ushered to the front of the queue!!! Brucie bonus! Once I cleared immigration and customs I put her back in the buggy and all was good with the world. Until the second internal flight. More grumpiness and crying. Fortunately the plane was practically empty, and there were a few doting grandmas to give me words of confidence. She fell asleep at about 4pm US time (9pm UK time) and she was out for the count. Nooooooooooooo. This was not good!!! When we landed and finally made it home we tried to keep her awake with a bath-feed routine. But alas she woke at 1245am and wouldn’t go back to sleep until 5am. Brutal. The next day we managed to keep her awake until 6pm, but she woke up again at 1.30am and stayed awake again until 4.30am. The second day we stretched her out to 6.30pm and she woke up 2.45am, back to sleep at 5.45am. Finally, by the third day she was back on routine -7pm bedtime one night time feed at 3.45am, back to sleep til 6am. Phew. So there you have it…dealing with a jet lagged baby isnt easy, especially  if one of you isn’t jet lagged! It takes a bit of patience, but it won’t be the end of the world!

Bassinet on return journey from London to JFK on British Airways

It took 3 days for Aviana to get back into a routine coming west and 0 days to get into a routine going East. So it wasn’t actually that bad in the end. Could have been worse?

I have some handy tips I’ve discovered when flying with a baby that I will share in another post! For now…I need just a bit more sleep ☺️
*Google That Shit