House Call: How Happiest Baby’s Lexi Montée Pumps Breastmilk on Zoom Calls

pregnant woman with husband

Verywell / Photo Illustration by Christian Alzate / Lexi Montée

Happiest Baby's Lexi Montée's first three months of parenthood

Bringing home a baby is always full of surprises. There is something new to uncover every day from sleep schedules to sweet smiles. Here, an inside look at Happiest Baby’s Lexi Montée’s first three months of parenthood.

If anyone should be well-equipped to have a baby, it’s the daughter of possibly the most famous pediatrician in the world, Harvey Karp, MD. Dr. Karp is the inventor of the SNOO, and his daughter, Lexi Montée, serves as the VP of Marketing and PR at the brand's parenting company Happiest Baby. Montée welcomed her first child, alongside her husband Dr. Christian Busch, in October 2021.

Baby girl Lola came into the world quickly and in a dramatic fashion. After getting physically ill for her entire labor and literally breaking her hospital bed, Montée pushed her baby out in just 17 minutes. “My entire labor was only 12 hours, but in 12 hours, we jammed packed it full of things,” laughs Montée.

Whether you have a pediatrician in your family or not, Montée’s story is relatable to a lot of parents. Like many of us, she had fears about labor and felt moments of weakness after her baby was born.

Montée was hit with a surge of hormones when her daughter developed jaundice, a treatable, common condition where a newborn's skin turns yellow. Still, she was speed dialing her dad for advice. Jaundice is caused by a buildup of a bilirubin in the newborn's blood and mild cases are treated with light therapy. While her baby cried in an enclosed UV-light treatment bed, Montée was instructed not to open the incubator no matter what.

“There is something very primal—it’s your human instinct when the baby cries to pick them up,” Montée shared. “I wasn’t able to. That was so sad. I was so emotional—it was awful.”

See how Montée is managing breastfeeding challenges, her top mom must-haves, and raising a baby in Manhattan.

Question 1

Verywell Family: Did you have a birth plan for your daughter?

Lexi Montée: Being a pediatrician's daughter and helping run a baby company, I thought I would be so intense about a birth plan. There was some part of me that was like, who cares? The doctor will guide you through. And another part of me maybe felt like it was embarrassing to walk in and distribute packets of paper as if the doctors care. Whatever reason, I did end up printing it out, but it was like five bullet points. Literally five bullets. First and most importantly—I want an epidural.

The second I'm allowed to get one, give me the drugs. It’s interesting because I grew up very, very organic and healthy. I didn't even take a Tylenol during pregnancy. I fought with my OB-GYN about the gestational diabetes drink because it has yellow #5 [food coloring] and red dye 40 and all these things. I found an organic alternative. Yet when it came to the epidural, it wasn’t even a question. 

I heard someone describe it once—why would you run a marathon without shoes? Yes, of course, that's the natural way, but we've invented shoes and they will help you.

Question 2

VWF: Tell us about your labor experience.

LM: I was 37 when she was born, and they treated me like I was 100. They induced me a week early due to advanced maternal age. I got to have an epidural before I ever had a contraction. My entire labor was only 12 hours. But in 12 hours, we jam packed it full of things. I vomited the entire time, I don't know if it was the Pitocin, but it was the whole time.

How it started? I broke the hospital bed. They set me up to give me the epidural and the anesthesiologist has his needles out.

My back is sterilized and ready to go. As he approached my back, the bed collapsed to the ground. My husband and the doctor dive to catch me. They didn't catch me until I was on the floor. I banged up my arms and legs. And I was so nice about it. Looking back, maybe I shouldn't have been because I could have been paralyzed.

That was a weird start. Since I was vomiting the whole time, it moved the epidural needle. The needle was so far out, that it was really limiting what was being administered. So they turned it up and then I said, I can’t feel my legs. I literally can't feel anything.

The nurse turned off the epidural. After half an hour, I could feel everything again. Modern medicine is crazy. I called the nurse and was like, I can't do this anymore—the contractions are so bad. I was 10 centimeters, fully dilated, but they were debating a C-section because she was facing up and she hadn’t dropped.

The nurse warned me that it was going to be two to three hours of pushing because the baby was so high. I pushed her out in 17 minutes. I didn't feel a thing. Oh my God, it was amazing. I feel like that was the universe giving me a gift. I was so scared and after having a short, but tumultuous, painful, vomit-filled, and complicated labor; the universe said, you can have this. She came at 2:30 p.m. on the dot. My husband is German, so I felt like that was a very German thing to do—a very punctual baby.

Question 3

VWF: How was it being pregnant during a pandemic?

LM: I was so scared of getting a C-section. Because of the COVID-19 [pandemic], we didn't go to a labor class in person. It was on Zoom and the nurse thought it would be a great thing to show me how they, with their hands, separate your ab muscles in order to reach the baby. And that scared me beyond. 

Due to the pandemic, my husband wasn't allowed inside the doctor's office. He had to wait out on the street. So every appointment was alone. He was allowed to come to the hospital screenings, so at least he got to hear the heartbeat. But I was at all of the other scans by myself. I did hear of someone who gave birth completely alone—no husband allowed. And I was really scared of that the whole time. Luckily, that didn't happen.

Question 4

VWF: How was your recovery? How did you feel immediately after giving birth?

LM: I was in shock. I don't know if that's common, but I just couldn’t really believe what happened. You see this person come out of your body, and it's like an alien. You don't know how you could've created a human and the fact that it didn't really hurt coming out. That was just so shocking to me.

I chose to personally bank both cord blood and cord tissue, which I think is a really important thing to advocate for.

No one warns you about how many times people come in and out of the hospital room. You just don't sleep. They don't exactly tiptoe and whisper. They just open the door and stomp right in and start talking to you and poking you.

I also felt comfort in having a pediatrician dad. I was like, can you look at her? I was running everything by him. As we were getting discharged, they checked her blood, and she had Jaundice. I had to stay overnight again.

Prepare yourself emotionally and try not to judge yourself.

They put her in this little plastic bin with the UV lights and those little sunglasses women wear in tanning beds.

I started crying. I was not prepared for the emotional trauma of little things feeling big and meaningful. I don't mean to trivialize it. Mild Jaundice is very common. But I was so emotional, and it was awful. Prepare yourself emotionally and try not to judge yourself. I felt crazy and embarrassed because when my baby was crying in that little box, I couldn’t touch her. I was hysterical. I think my husband saw a new side of me.

Question 5

VWF: How are you feeding Lola?

LM: I planned on breastfeeding, and I planned on it going according to plan. I heard about my friends who had quit. I was not that judgy, especially having worked in the parenting industry. I was really lucky—my milk came in right away. She had a great latch right away. And then three weeks in, she just decided she was done and went on a hunger strike. She cried and didn't eat anything all day. At 3:30 p.m., I called my parents and I was like, it's almost four o'clock. And I don't know what to do.

And they were like, pump and give her a bottle. And I had to figure out how to use my pump parts and put them together. I had to use nipple shields and that tricked her into thinking that I was a bottle for a few weeks. And then she decided that she was done with that, too. So now I have to pump a million times a day and try to beat the clock and pump enough to feed her.

She eats 10 or 12 times a day. Every two hours. It's a constant race—there are three ounces in that bottle. I'll start with that and I'll pump while I'm feeding her, and then I'll dump what's freshly pumped into the bottle.

It’s chaos but I'm fortunate to have been able to give her some breast milk and hopefully give her some antibodies from my COVID-19 vaccine. I'm also so grateful for formula because I wouldn't have a surviving baby without it. Formula is an amazing invention. A couple of the overnight feeds are formula, and then the majority of my feedings are breast milk I’ve pumped. I've been pumping on Zooms. I love it.

It's hard and it's annoying. And it hurts. Nobody told me how much pumping would hurt. Some people mentioned breastfeeding [can be painful], but your assumption is that it's the baby biting or sucking the nipple. The pumping hurts, too.

baby in bassinet with mom looking over

Verywell / Photo Illustration by Christian Alzate / Lexi Montée

Question 6

VWF: How is Lola’s sleep schedule? Does she use the SNOO?

LM: I'll tell you the truth. I’m obsessed with the SNOO. I love. It. I can't imagine how people can sleep without it, especially for the rolling-over factor.

It's also not a magic pill. It requires a little energy and adjusting. Every baby is different. There are four levels of sound and movement and I had to poke around and see what she liked and what she didn't like. Every baby is unique. You are unique. I like a firm mattress. You might like a soft one. I certainly urge people to pay attention to their own individual child's needs, but also keep in mind the basics.

I spent my entire life as the child of the "swaddle king." Even though I’ve told maybe thousands of customers, personally, never try “arms out” before at least two, if not four or five, months. Nope. I tried it a few weeks in.

I did all the things you're not supposed to do. That said, I love having the logs. I always thought "I'm such a light sleeper, especially if she gasps or coughs, I jump right up." But I saw in my SNOO log that there were times when it was red. This means she cried, it leveled up, and it soothed her—and I slept through it, which is pretty remarkable. Especially for someone who's been a little nervous as a first-time mom.

Question 7

VWF: Is it hard taking a step back from work at Happiest Baby when you’re basically staring at the SNOO 24 hours a day?

LM: Here we are advocating hugely for paid family leave. We always preach to the choir about taking time off. Meanwhile, I was Slacking from the hospital bed. I came home from the hospital on Saturday, and I was on Zoom on Monday, but that's my own personality flaw. I think part of the double-edged sword of a family business is that I care so much. I used to work crazy startup hours, and now I allow myself to ditch things that aren't mandatory.

I have a great team and they can show up for me and it'll be fine. Sometimes, I show up off-camera. As somebody who feels like a bald rat without mascara, I've been impressed and surprised with myself when I go on video. I turn on the camera and have no makeup on, look tired, and am wearing a pumping bra. YOLO. It’s been nice.

Question 8

VWF: How is your husband helping you through the fourth trimester?

LM: I'm really pleasantly surprised. He's a professor at NYU. He also just wrote a book so he’s trying hard to do all the interviews and all the media and it's busy. He works until late at night. I thought that I would have to do everything alone, but I've been so surprised and impressed. Not only does he help to be fair, but he is obsessed with her. It's really sweet. I don't know if that's idiosyncratic to him or if that happens to all dads, but watching them is so special.

It takes our relationship to a whole new level. He always does at least one overnight feeding, if not more, which is so helpful. He has to leave the house and put on a suit to go teach—I just stay in my pajamas on Zoom!

Listen, I also want to murder him because I will notice that every time he feeds her at night, the wipes are open, the diaper cream is open, or the cream spilled on the sofa. It made a stain. You notice that the little things really irk you, but the big things have been so nice. I feel really fortunate. I feel so grateful. I'd be dead without him.

Question 9

VWF: Your dad is a super famous pediatrician. What's like the biggest lesson or advice he's given you about having a new baby?

LM: My favorite thing from his book, "Happiest Baby on the Block," is that if he could create one bumper sticker slogan for new parents, it would say: “Be flexible or die.” And I think that's true.

I'm gonna say something really unpopular and I'm more than happy to share it. I have a lot of moments where I'm like, this is easy. And I know that we're not supposed to say that, because it's also so hard.

Certainly, [taking] showers have suffered and other things have suffered. But, you know, I'm on Zoom almost all day. I have no help. I just grab her and feed her. Sometimes I'm on camera, and sometimes I'm off-camera. I incorporate it, or I laugh it off.

I had to give a really huge presentation once. She was screaming and Christian was sleeping. I put her in a carrier, showed up five minutes late, and [presented] a deck while standing, carrying my baby.

I'm not the most positive person. I'm pretty negative. My family jokes that my blood type is B negative. So I thought, for sure, I'm getting postpartum depression, because I'm very sensitive. I assumed because I am negative and everything is hard. I'm all alone, it's winter, and it's a pandemic. I have no friends and family left in New York and everything was setting me up for failure instead of success.

mom with baby

Verywell / Photo Illustration by Christian Alzate / Lexi Montée

And then I thought oh, I can do this. And it's not that bad. Yes, there are moments where it sucks, but it's also kind of easy. I certainly, of course, couldn't have gone to work like this, in an office; but being able to do it on Zoom? I'm like, I've got this.

I want to also acknowledge how terribly difficult it is and can be. I'm very lucky. This is also just luck of the draw. I have a good baby—she doesn't really cry. She doesn't have colic. She's so nice.

One of the questions I've asked my dad for sure is: if I didn't get postpartum depression yet, does that mean I won't get it? She's only two months old.

The other things I ask are: Is her poop too watery? Is her poop too dry? Her poop is green or her poop is yellow.

I'm scared of everything, just like everyone else. And I'm just so, so lucky to have somebody on speed dial to answer those questions. But I have ridiculous questions, too. I ask them to like my pediatrician, and then I get embarrassed because she knows who my dad is. And I'm like, oh my God, does she think he's a bad pediatrician and didn't educate me? It was just me being crazy, I swear.

1 Source
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  1. Mitra S, Rennie J. Neonatal jaundice: aetiology, diagnosis and treatmentBrit J Hospital Med. 2017;78(12):699-704. doi:10.12968/hmed.2017.78.12.699

By Dory Zayas
Dory Zayas is a freelance beauty, fashion, and parenting writer. She spent over a decade writing for celebrity publications and since having her daughter in 2019, has been published on sites including INSIDER and Well+Good.