[That was me catching my breath.]
The past couple of days I’ve been in the clutches of a freezer-meal fiend, and I can tell from experience that this is only the beginning. The more I feed it, the bigger that greedy thing grows. I begin to lay plots for the humblest of leftovers. Surely I can get another freezer meal out of this if I put it with that and the other. And then there are the mixes…too easy to put together…this is addictive…
We are in baby-will-be-here-before-you-know-it mode, except there’s no baby belly, sore back, or swollen feet begging me to stop and take a nap in the afternoons. I am relishing this part of our preparations to the full. I love being in the middle of a huge, creative, productive, messy kitchen day. But the results of it are even better. I chose the word “greedy” on purpose. Freezers full of relatively healthy and inexpensive homemade meals and mixes will be worth more to me than money in the bank when the storm hits, and even then I will be loathe to spend them unless we really have to.
We took a date night to assess and revise our family routine, making it as watertight as possible. Watertight, you understand, to help keep the ship afloat when that aforementioned storm hits next month. As usual, we began testing the new routine immediately.
Switch from crockpot meals to freezer-friendly cooking, check.
Make three, eat one, label and freeze two, check.
Then make more, check.
Tweak the little boys’ activities, check.
Tweak family mealtime routine, check.
Cut Verity’s therapy visits back to once per month, check.
Mom get up an hour earlier, check.
Mom drop a pumping, from four down to three, check…
Apparently that last innovation was going too far. After six months of holding steady at four pumps per day, after cutting back to three, my milk supply dropped drastically in a short time. It only took a couple of days, and I was barely keeping up with Verity’s appetite, let alone putting a supply away for Katie.
~We had been hoping that I could supply both little girls at least until the end of the upcoming flu season.
~We are planning to keep both girls off of dairy, gluten, and refined sugar, simply as a preventative measure. Also, soy is not recommended for individuals with Down syndrome.
~Alternatives to my milk are costly or otherwise unsuitable even without the dairy-free factor, and would not provide the girls with my immunities.
~What do the immunities have to do with it? Even for our relatively healthy family, Verity has been healthy beyond our most unreasonable hopes. Some of you may remember that she spiked a fever one night last spring. That was it for her first fifteen months of life. We can’t prove her health is a result of mama’s milk, vitamin D, probiotics, fish oils, grapefruit seed extract, Sambucus, extra-virgin organic unrefined coconut oil, superfood fruits and vegetables, staying away from dairy and groups of peers with runny noses, or any other factors! But they can’t be hurting, either. Her regimen may seem intimidating from the outside, but in reality it is just a small part of our daily routine.
~Why are we so vigilant over Verity’s health? When typical babies get sick, even repeatedly, it doesn’t affect their overall development. They will still meet their milestones effortlessly. When babies with special needs are repeatedly ill, it can have a serious negative impact on their long-term development. Since her birth, we have done our best not to let Verity have any “down time,” no break from being challenged and stimulated in some way, unless she is asleep. Again, this has become part of the collective family consciousness. We all help to keep her engaged and working, to keep her from sitting and doing nothing, or “blobbing,” as I call it. As I hope I have made very clear, this is one of the most fun and rewarding “duties” that we have, and does not feel like a burdensome chore! She is so precious to us! Keeping her healthy is part of helping her progress, and she is making remarkable progress.
~We are aware that we could look into the possibility of human milk donors. But the best milk for my girls is from my own body, and my body does work. It produces plenty for both of them with the four pumpings per day. Even with the stress of the travel to see Katie, and Verity drinking two weeks’ worth of frozen milk, our freezer stash has been growing since our friends stopped coming once a month to pick up milk for their baby. We have a freezer full and were starting on the second one when we attempted to cut back.
~So now we know. At this point, if we deliberately choose to keep me at three pumpings per day, we would be deliberately choosing a hasty weaning. In other words, if we choose to buy a little more time for the rest of the family by cutting back on my pumping time, we would be choosing to do it at the expense of the two smallest and most vulnerable members of the family.
And we are not willing to make them sacrifice for us.
So there you see our decision, laid out in black and white. It’s all there but the foundational reason, the why underneath my last statement.
But that’s a story for another day.