Daycare, Doctors, and Pumping at Work

As you can tell from the title of this post, there’s a lot I want to discuss in this post… these are some of the things that are on my mind these days:

Daycare:

In an ideal world, money would be no object and I would be able to stay home with Julia until she’s ready to go to preschool.  At that time, we would find a reasonably affordable preschool with an educational philosophy we wholeheartedly support and with teachers who are loving, nurturing, supportive and understanding.  Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world and, as a family of three, we cannot live on Ken’s salary alone so I need to work.  I also think that for my own sanity and peace of mind I need to work and I would not enjoy staying home with Julia full time (which is why I am very glad to have a part-time job with very flexible hours for the time being).  Working gives me time to be an adult, to exercise my intellectual capacity and helps me to appreciate the time I have at home with Julia so much more than I would if I were home with her full time.  So with all that in mind, we had to find a daycare… and since my boss wanted me to start working very soon after we moved here, we were in somewhat of a bind and needed to find a daycare very quickly.  Luckily we were able to look at daycares during our first week in town when my mom was still here with us.  What we decided to do was send Julia to one daycare for her first 6 weeks and then to switch her to a second one at the beginning of the official “school year.”

There are pros and cons to both daycares but the longer we have her in the first one, the more excited I am about switching her to the second one… I don’t want to give names but here’s the scenario:

Daycare 1: It’s great because it’s very convenient.  It’s RIGHT across the street from the Hospital so in an emergency, I could be there in 5 minutes.  If I run I could probably be there in 2 minutes.  It’s also nice because they provide breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack for the kids, which means that at Julia’s age, all we have to provide are bottles of either breast milk or formula.  It is quite expensive–with the discount we get for being hospital employees, it’s $346.50 per week.  It’s also very corporate because it’s a chain, so they have corporate policies they have to follow.

Quite a few issues have come up in the past few weeks that have made rather upset with them, though to be honest, I have not been good about voicing my dissatisfaction.  First, they had a “cookie day” theme day, when they gave all the kids cookies.  Julia is 10 months old and should not be eating cookies unless I am consulted first.  Under the age of 1 kids really shouldn’t be having unnecessary sugar like that.  It’s not that hard to pick up the phone and call me–“Hello, Mrs. Julia’s Mom, today’s cookie day at school.  Would it be okay to give Julia a cookie?”  Chances are I would ask what kind of cookie it is, how much sugar it has, etc. and I would probably say it’s okay, but I would rather be consulted first.  Second, one kid brought in cupcakes for her birthday and Julia was given a cupcake.  Again, I should have been consulted before giving my baby a cupcake.  It’s not that hard to pick up the phone and call to check that it’s okay to give her a cupcake.  What if she were allergic to gluten or eggs, or the food coloring used in the icing?  Third, there was one day I dropped Julia off earlier than usual and when I dropped her off, I told them that I was going to be later than usual picking her up because I had an appointment and for that reason I brought in 3 bottles, whereas I only normally bring 2.  When I picked her up at the end of the day, she had only been given 1 of the bottles.  (They gave some BS reason about how they tried pouring the bottle into a sippy cup but she didn’t seem to want it so they gave up and didn’t give her the bottle.)  Finally, yesterday I brought her to daycare with her usual 2 bottles of breast milk and for some reason they gave her both bottles before 11:30 AM.  That means that between 8:30 and 11:30 she drank 10 oz. of breast milk.  They should have spaced out the bottles a little better so that she didn’t have to go without a bottle from 11:30 until 4 PM when I picked her up.

Daycare 2: On Monday morning we are switching Julia to a new Daycare… it’s actually a preschool that goes from the age of 10 weeks up to 5 years old when kids can move on to kindergarten.  Julia will be in their older infant room that normally starts around 11 months (so she’ll probably be the youngest baby in the room).  It’s affiliated with a reform synagogue, which is nice because the activities she does, the songs she sings, the art projects she works on will be Jewish themed.  She’ll come home with “Happy Passover” art projects instead of “Happy Easter” projects.  They’ll sing Shabbat songs every Friday and if they get snacks provided by the school they’ll be marked kosher.  The daycare also doesn’t allow pork products or shellfish so if she happens to share her lunch with another kid, she won’t be picking up a piece of bacon from someone’s plate.  This daycare does not provide food so we’ll have to pack breakfast, lunch and snacks to send with her each day, but the tuition is much more affordable (around $1200/month instead of $346.50 per week–doesn’t seem like a big difference but if you add up the difference over the course of the year, we’ll save quite a bit of money in the long run).  The big downside is it’s farther away.  It’s about 15 minutes from the hospital, which means an extra 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon.  But I think in the long run, it will be worth it… we’ll see!

I’m sure this daycare will have its fair share of issues too, but so far they’ve already made a much better impression… we even got a postcard from Julia’s teachers saying they’re excited to meet her and have her in their class, and the whole place just feels a lot more cozy and nurturing.  I’m sure I’ll have complaints about them a few months from now, but at this point in time, I’m looking forward to her starting there on Monday morning!

Doctors:

Since we moved here, I’ve been on the hunt to find Julia a new pediatrician.  We moved here in June and wanted to find a doctor quickly so we could have her 9-month check up in July.  Luckily, I found a doctor quickly who was able to see her for her 9-month checkup but I was not a huge fan of his.  Part of the problem is that he is in solo practice.  There are 4 doctors who are all in solo practice who cover for one another if one of them is out of town.  The problem is they’re in 4 different places, don’t have access to the same records, and you never know who will be on at the time that you need to see the doctor.  Also, because they’re all by themselves, it’s hard to get an appointment.  When I tried to schedule Julia’s 1-year checkup, their “next availability” wasn’t until the 23rd of October (she’ll be 1 on the 8th).

In New Orleans we took Julia to a group practice that we loved.  They had 5 doctors so there was always someone available.  If you didn’t like one of the doctors, you could see a different one.  They had sick visits available on Saturdays and an answering service available after hours and on weekends.  We found that we didn’t like one of the doctors in the practice but we were generally able to schedule Julia’s well visits with a doctor we did like and if Julia was sick, we would just see whoever was available.  We hoped to find something similar here in Baltimore.

I got recommendations about two different group practices but unfortunately one of them is not included on our insurance at the highest level, so we would have to pay higher copays and 20% of all costs.  I went to visit the one group practice that does take our insurance, and I liked the doctor I met there.  They seem to have good appointment availability (we scheduled her 1-year checkup for October 9th), they have drop-in hours from 4-6 every day and sick appointments available on weekends.  It’s fairly convenient (about a 20 minute drive from our house) and has easy and inexpensive parking (it was $1 when I went for the “meet & greet” appointment).

In New Orleans, if we had a question for the doctor after hours, the doctor would call us back to answer our questions so that if other questions came up in the meantime, or we needed clarification on something, the doctor was on the phone with us and we could ask additional questions.  The other day, I had to call Julia’s doctor about a few things, so I called the group practice here in Baltimore where we have scheduled her 1-year checkup… I spoke with an assistant first who relayed my questions to the doctor and then the assistant called me back.  I wish the doctor himself had called so that I could have asked for additional clarification or any follow-up questions that came up.  Also, the answers he gave were very conservative (to be specific, I asked when it’s okay to put blankets on Julia in the crib, and when it’s okay to put the bumpers on the crib.  He said not until she’s 2 years old for both of those!  But then I looked up the recommendation on the AAP website and there they say that it’s generally thought to be safe at 12 months.)  When I asked a follow-up question, the assistant said she would check with the doctor and get back to us so she did just that, called the doctor again and called us back with his answer.  Rather than making multiple phone calls it would be easier to just have the doctor call in the first place to answer our questions.

When looking for a pediatrician, you want someone who will be able to give sound medical and parenting advice but who will also not be too conservative in their recommendations.  You want someone who will respect your judgment and instinct as a parent but who will also answer any questions you have with answers that are well-informed, researched and have some reason behind them.  We will go back to this group practice for Julia’s 1-year checkup but we’ll have to see how we like them when Ken is there with me and when we are able to ask follow-up questiosn and ask for the reason behind their answers.  Hopefully we’ll like them as much as we liked her doctors in New Orleans!

Pumping at Work:

I LOVE breastfeeding.  I HATE pumping.  It’s not that I hate the act of pumping.  It doesn’t hurt, I don’t find it uncomfortable and I actually love that pumping at work helps me to maintain the breastfeeding relationship we have when we’re together.  What I hate about pumping is the stress, the constant worry that I’m not making enough milk to send with Julia to daycare each day.  I also hate that ever since she started daycare, I’ve gotten pushed by her daycare providers to either send more bottles or bigger bottles.  We started out sending 3 3-oz. bottles.  That wasn’t enough so we increased it to 3 4-oz. bottles.  That wasn’t enough so we increased it to 3 5-oz. bottles, but that was more than I could pump each day which meant saying “goodbye” to our freezer stash.  In New Orleans toward the end, she was getting 3 5-oz. bottles a day.  That’s 15 ounces of milk each day that I needed to pump.  I was pumping every 2 hours plus once after she went to sleep.  But, if you look at Kelly Mom, or most websites about breastfeeding, they say that the average is 1-1.5 oz per hour that you’re away from the baby.  So if I’m away from her for 7 hours, she should need 7-10 oz. of milk during that time.  These days I’m sending her with 2 5-oz. bottles each day which should be enough.

Part of the problem is this: there’s no way to know how much milk Julia consumes when she is with me since I nurse her on demand (i.e. whenever she wants to), so I never know how much milk to send with her to daycare.  I’m not interested in drinking gallons of water every day, taking Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle, eating Lactation Cookies every day and putting yucky-tasting Brewer’s Yeast in my Oatmeal every morning.  I will do what I need to do to make enough milk for her but I don’t want to stress constantly about trying to increase my supply.  Also, when I was doing all of those things a few months ago, I didn’t see a huge increase.  Maybe I would make 1-2 more ounces each day but it’s not enough that it’s worth all that stress.

I am very much looking forward to the day she turns 1 and we can start giving her whole cow’s milk.  It’s not that I want to give her cow’s milk INSTEAD of breast milk since I do want to keep nursing her when we are together.  It’s that I want to be able to add cow’s milk in with her breast milk so that I don’t have to stress about being the ONLY source of her milk.  I also want to not have to worry about pumping and using up our freezer stash if I need a day out and need to leave her with Ken.  It will be much easier to leave her during the day when she can have whole cow’s milk.  If she’s a little thirsty after finishing a bottle, it’s easy to just pour more milk into a cup for her.  I generally pump 10-12 oz. of milk each day between 2 pumping sessions at work and one after Julia goes to sleep at night.  What I would like to be able to do is to give her 3 bottles (since daycare keeps saying she needs more bottles) with 4 oz. of breast milk and 3 oz. of cow’s milk (since they also say she needs bigger bottles).  I don’t necessarily want to stop pumping since I think pumping will help me to maintain our breastfeeding relationship.  I just don’t want my pumped milk to be the only source of her milk.

That’s all for now… if you read all that, you get a cookie and a high five!  Thanks for listening 🙂

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One thought on “Daycare, Doctors, and Pumping at Work

  1. I know just how you feel about everything in this post!!! I have had many of the same issues, especially with school wanting more milk. Amelia now goes with a “homemade” juice sippy cup in the morning a 5 oz bottle of BM and a 3oz snack bottle. This has seemed to work for us for now. Good luck and I hope the new school is all you hope for.

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