The End of Breastfeeding!

Finally getting around to posting something again! Sorry for all the blog radio silence. It’s because kids are overwhelming, and I’ve spent my time doing other things (like dishes and laundry and grocery shopping…lame stuff like that). But I’ve missed it and hope to get back to doing it regularly again, someday:)

Anyway, I wanted share my story of breastfeeding now that that particular chapter has closed. This is not a “breast is best” post. Seriously. I don’t care what you feed your child. All 3 of my kids have had formula at some point in their 1st year of life. And I feel no shame about that, and you shouldn’t either. I just want to share my story, cause it’s my own…and it’s what happened. It’s not implying anything negative about someone else’s story. (Because people love to get offended on the internet these days I feel like I have to say that).

Before I had my first kid, the majority of what I heard about breastfeeding is that “it’s so easy and natural and totally what’s best for your child.” That was it. No mention of clogged ducts or mastitis or any other difficulties that could come along with it. But I’m glad I dug a little deeper into my research and got a more realistic idea of what it’s like so I wasn’t too surprised going into it. Because…it was NOT easy. And I think being mentally prepared for that is half the battle. So, more than anything, my goal is to share a real-life nursing experience with you (to get more realistic stories out there), and to reflect for my own personal memories ūüôā

It’s lengthy…sorry.

We’ll start with kid #1, Gwen. Right off the bat, before we even left the hospital, I was sore. Ya’ll…it hurt. And I had a night nurse who was a bit too aggressive with the breastfeeding thing in the middle of the night, basically shoving Gwen’s face into my boob. I cried. It hurt and I just wanted to sleep. My milk hadn’t even come in yet for goodness sake. So that already put a damper on the experience for me.

Then we went home. Still sore (everyyyyyywhere). But especially the boobs, because, ya know, they weren’t used to having a little piranha-like hungry baby attached to them. It was so bad one day, I stood there crying in the bathroom not wanting to wear a bra or shirt because anything touching them was too painful. I wanted to quit already. That’s where my support person came in- my husband. I think having a support person to encourage you during those first few weeks is CRUCIAL. He reminded me that the pain would go away, that I was strong and could do this and that I was already doing an amazing job. Then he went to Target and bought me a super soft, comfortable nightgown and “soothies” for my boobs lol. And he was right. After awhile (seemed like forever at the time), it did get better. The pain and soreness eventually went away and things got easier.

Then I got a clogged duct. I didn’t know that was a thing. But it was also painful and annoying. Gwen favored one side over the other, so the neglected boob was the problem side at first. I would try to pump on that side to make sure it was getting fully drained, and I felt like a cow being milked by a machine (I hate the pump). Eventually the clogged duct cleared and all was well again.

Fast forward (just a bit) to when Gwen was about 6 months old. Things started to go downhill. It seemed like my supply was dropping and she was pretty frustrated and fussy at the boob. She also wasn’t gaining weight as fast as she had been. Turns out…SURPRISE….I was pregnant (WHAT?!)….yes. I had a 6 month old, and was pregnant again. Ok then.

My OB basically told me to wean Gwen right away. Because I had a previous miscarriage, she said it was just better that I stop. I had read that some people breastfeed while pregnant with no issues, but since it wasn’t going well anyway at the time and because I was terrified of miscarrying again, we stopped and switched to formula after just a few more breastfeeding sessions. Fortunately, she took to formula in a bottle right away, and that’s what we did for the remainder of her 1st year. I was definitely sad at first and I struggled with the fact that my plan of breastfeeding her for an entire year was cut short. But seeing her eat well and start growing at a good pace again made me feel much better.

Kid #2, Ivor Baby. The first weeks were a little easier this time around. Still some soreness, but not nearly as bad. I was also at a new hospital this time with nurses who just let me do my thing and didn’t aggressively shove a baby on me (thank you Good Samaritan Hospital!) I experienced a few clogged ducts again in the first few months, 1 of them turned into mastitis (breast infection that causes fever, general crappy feeling, super painful boob, etc.). No fun. I took antibiotics and worked hard to clear it. It eventually cleared and all went smoothly again.

Until around the 10-month mark. My supply tanked, and he started losing weight (!) because he’s stubborn and resistant to change and would. not. accept. ANYTHING other than the boob. I tried everything. Formula in a bottle. Formula in a sippy cup (tried every single sippy cup on God’s green earth). I tried what little I had left of breastmilk in a cup.¬† He wasn’t having any of it. Our pediatrician referred us to a GI doctor (who scared the crap out of me with talk of a feeding tube to get his weight back up, and just generally had horrible bedside manner) . She recommended PediSure. PediaSure is basically a milkshake. It’s insanely sweet and I did not like giving it to him, but we were desperate…and it worked after the first few tries. He drank it out of a sippy cup and started gaining weight again. I slowly weaned him off that and onto cow’s milk by his 1st birthday, which he had JUST started accepting when we found out he was allergic to it. But that’s another story lol. He started drinking almond milk after that and now he’s a happy, healthy, growing boy! (Still stubborn and resistant to change though…lol)

Finally, kid #3…miss Fiona. My most successful breastfeeding experience of all 3. That’s not to say it was totally without struggle. At this point I knew I was prone to clogged ducts and although I tried hard to prevent them, I failed. I didn’t get a lot of them,¬† but 1 in particular developed QUICKLY into mastitis and I went to urgent care because we couldn’t get my fever down. I just needed to drink more water because I was dehydrated, which was making everything worse. Eventually of course, I got better and all was well again. After that, I felt so comfortable and natural breastfeeding her …to the point where it really was totally “easy and natural” (but it took me 3 kids to get there lol). I also abandoned that dang nursing cover by kid #3 too. #freedom

Around the 10-month mark (again) I feared that my supply might be dropping. She wasn’t losing any weight, but also wasn’t gaining much. Because I was terrified of the same thing happening to her that happened to Ivor Baby, I started to supplement with formula. She refused at first, but eventually took it. I never stopped breastfeeding and continued to try that first, and offer formula second. Closer to her 1st birthday I tried cow’s milk in a sippy cup, which took her awhile to accept so I kept breastfeeding, but gradually weaned down to twice a day. Then once a day.

And we officially ended our breastfeeding “chapter” just a few weeks ago, around 14.5 months. I’m pretty sure my supply was gone and it was more of a comfort thing for her in the last month (and let’s be honest…for me too). Because she’s my last baby, it took me a little longer to “let go” of that stage. Because now, it’s just done. It’s over. And it makes me a little sad ūüôĀ

My husband asked me (after her 1st birthday) when I planned to stop. And I didn’t have a great answer. I knew I would just “know.” So I said “I don’t know….when it’s time.” The original plan was just for the 1st year, but again…this is my last baby. I wanted to hang on just a little longer and continuing past her 1st birthday just felt right.

So what made it the right time for us? A little bit of her getting frustrated and lacking interest and a little bit of inexplicable mom-instinct. We were both just ready. I don’t know. It’s hard to explain.

And that’s my story.

Here are the things I will NOT miss about breastfeeding:

Sore nipples
Clogged ducts
Mastitis
Being the only one in the middle of the night to feed my child when I just wanted to sleep
Supply issues
Pumping

Here’s what I WILL miss about breastfeeding:

Being able to sustain my child’s life for the first 6 months of their life using ONLY my body (seriously mind-blowing how cool that is)

But most of all….this….

 

That little hand.

Such a sweet, precious time with my babies.¬† The good times really did outweigh the bad. And it’s over before you know it! For 4.5 years, breastfeeding was a big part of my mom-life. And now it’s just over. I have a 4.5 year old, 3.5 year old, and¬† 15 month old, who no longer needs mommy in that way.

Ok. I’m gonna go cry now.

The End.

 

3rd Time Around

There are no shortage of posts out there about what it’s like having a 3rd kid. The common theme in all of them is that basically “anything goes” by the time you’re on kid #3. And¬†5 weeks in…I can say that’s accurate for the most part lol. Here are some things that are different/new now that our #3 has arrived.

*Breastfeeding. With the first kid I was all about sticking to “THE SCHEDULE!”…every 2-3 hours baby must eat (at least in the very beginning). And be on each boob ¬†for a minimum of 15 mins, per ¬†the advice I received from¬†the hospital. Also each nursing¬†session must begin on the¬†boob you didn’t start with last time. I also covered up using a nursing cover anytime people other than my husband were in my presence. Note: I never had, nor do I currently have a problem with breastfeeding in public with or without a cover. I just always chose to do it for my own personal comfort/modesty. This time around…I DESPISE the dang nursing cover. It is such a pain and it’s really stinking hot for both me and baby (since I had a summer baby). Fiona hates it. I hate it. I’m just over it. It’s not like I just leave my boob hanging out for a long period of time for the world to see. And while baby is latched, there isn’t much to see anyway. Once she latches on I can throw shirt or something over any exposed skin, but I’m not completely covering my entire baby in a huge piece of fabric¬†anymore. I just can’t do it.¬†As far as “the schedule”,¬†I dropped that with baby #2. We nurse on-demand. When she’s hungry, she eats. For as little or long as she wants. And while it is definitely a good idea to switch up which boob you start with each session, my mom brain just can’t remember most of the time. So I no longer care.

*Sleep. We are SO lucky that Fiona is a great sleeper. My first 2 kids were not, at this stage anyway. And since this is our last baby, I am soaking in all the bedtime snuggles I can get. Normally at this point I would not want to nurse her or snuggle her until she falls asleep. I’d want to put her down while she’s still awake, but drowsy so she can learn to fall asleep on her own at night. And at some point I probably will switch to that again. But right now, while she’s still so tiny, with her soft newborn skin and smell and little noises, I happily nurse her until she falls asleep and then take a few extra mins to snuggle her on my chest. I just love how she buries her face in my chest and tucks her little head snug underneath my chin. Sigh…

*Daytime Schedule/Routine:¬†Before having any kids, I always said “our world will not revolve around baby” thinking we wouldn’t need to schedule our day around naps, feedings, etc. And then of course we had a kid and we realized how important routine and naps were for the health, happiness and sanity of EVERYONE. However, now that we’re on baby #3 and we already have 2 older kids, 1 of which is in preschool, and we have other scheduled activities etc….baby 3 kind of has to learn to go with the flow. Otherwise, we would never leave the house…EVER. One thing we will remain strict with, however, is bedtime. We believe in an early bedtime for our kids and plan to stick with it. But as for our days, anything goes ūüôā Thankfully Fiona seems to be pretty easy-going and can nap on-the-go, especially if I’m wearing her. Which brings me to…

*Baby-wearing:¬†I didn’t do this much with my first 2 kids. I never quite got the hang of the Moby wrap and it’s mile-long fabric. Again, I wanted to wear them during the summer and wrapping myself and baby in a crap-ton of sweat-inducing fabric just did not appeal to me. I did use our Ergo-carrier when they got bigger but only while we were out and about. And even then, with 2 kids so close in age, they were in the double stroller most of the time. So baby-wearing wasn’t a common occurrence. This time around, however, it’s pretty much a necessity. I need to be hands-free to wrangle my 2 older kids. I found a great carrier from a company called Nesting Days.¬†I won’t get into a full review right now (because it’s coming) but I will just say that it’s amazing and perfect and exactly what I was looking for. ¬†And again, because this is my last baby, I’m really enjoying the whole baby-wearing experience and keeping her close for as long as possible.

That’s all I have for now. I’m sure I’ll add more to this list as time goes on ūüôā

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3, 2, and Brand New!

If you missed it, we have 3 kids now. Fiona Joy graced us with her arrival on July 22nd. She’s 3 weeks old now and as expected, things have been a bit of a blur. This post is my attempt to sum up what¬†life has been like since her arrival, while it’s still fresh. I’ve decided to break it up into categories to keep my brain organized. Because “pregnancy brain” turns into “mom brain” and it just gets worse the more kids you have. So my brain is basically mush at¬†this point.

Here we go.

EMOTIONS

The first 2-3 days home from the hospital were the worst. Baby blues hit as expected. This time it¬†wasn’t centered around any one thing¬†specifically. Just an overall sad/depressed feeling. And it hit around the same time each day, about 4-5pm. A wave a sadness hits and the tears come. Thoughts of feeling overwhelmed flood your brain. I¬†wanted¬†to fast-forward time to when Fiona sleeps through the night, is bigger and can play with her siblings, etc. I just wanted to skip over the whole newborn stage¬†and jump to when we have life figured out. Wondering how the heck I was going to manage 3 kids on my own was terrifying. It’s a crazy thing, those hormones. You don’t feel like yourself at all. Thankfully, it was short-lived. Don’t get me wrong- feeling overwhelmed still happens and will continue to happen, but that feeling of walking around with a rain-cloud over my head has passed. Also during this time I get really clingy/needy with my husband. Not sure what it is…it’s like everything else in the world has changed and he’s my only constant. And I just need cuddles. #NotAshamed

SLEEP

I hesitate to even talk about this, because I don’t want to jinx myself. But….it could be worse. She may be the best sleeper out of all 3 kids. The first few nights at home were rough. My¬†milk hadn’t¬†fully come in yet so she was just never satisfied. I’d nurse her until she appeared to be asleep, but a few minutes after I put her down, she’d start fussing and crying and would only calm down if I put her back on the boob, or just held her. So there wasn’t much sleep happening at all. Once my milk came in though, she started sleeping in 3-4 hour stretches. We have occasional “bad” nights when she wakes up 3-4 times. But most of the time it’s¬†1-2 times. Keeping in mind this is with an 11-11:30pm “bedtime”. Gwen and Ivor Baby still go to bed around 7-7:30pm. But Fiona stays downstairs with us until OUR¬†bedtime. I feed her a few times while we’re watching TV. Then one last time upstairs in our room right before we all go to bed. So the waking up 1-2 times is from that point on. All of that said, I know things can easily change…with growth spurts, teething, and other random reasons etc. So I won’t get my hopes up. I’d rather prepare for the worst and then be pleasantly surprised if it stays this way. But for now, I am so thankful to get a solid stretch of sleep at night so that I can function the next day.

SIBLINGS

So Gwen is 3 and Ivor Baby is 2. They each come with their own challenges. Gwen can be emotionally exhausting and challenging. Ivor Baby is more physically exhausting/challenging. And having a newborn who nurses-on-demand can make things a little crazy, trying to make sure everyone’s needs are met and get the attention they’re demanding. We’re still working that out…especially now that I’m on my own with them during the day. But so far there have only been a few times where crap hit the fan and all 3 were¬†screaming or needing something at the same time. Let me tell you, the first time that happened, it really did feel like this:

3 kids

And I just wanted to go run and hide in the closet.

As far as sibling interaction: Gwen is doing great with Fiona. She’s like a little mommy and loves to help. She loves touching her hair (who doesn’t?!) and giving her kisses. Ivor Baby kind of ignored her¬†most of the time in the beginning, but he’s starting to take a little more interest in her now and he even gives her kisses too. He still needs to be more careful around her. ¬†He’s a bit like a tornado when he’s playing, destroying everything in his path, and doesn’t pay attention to his surroundings. Like I said, it is physically exhausting trying to keep him from hurting himself and others. But…he is a 2-year old boy.

BREASTFEEDING

Not much to report here other than the stupid infection I got (mastitis). I’m prone to clogged ducts and have had mastitis once before (which makes it even more likely to happen again), so I wasn’t all that surprised that it happened. Except that I didn’t even realize I had a clogged duct. Usually you have a clogged duct first, and then if you don’t unclog it within a few days it can turn into mastitis. In my case this time, it all seemed to happen in one day. I started the day off just fine, then around lunch time I felt some pain in my boob and thought “crap…clogged duct”. But then within just a few hours it progressed quickly, I came down with a high fever/chills and was in urgent care by dinner time (it wasn’t that bad the first time I got it, with Ivor Baby). Thankfully with antibiotics, a breast pump, warm compresses and Fiona spending more time on the boob, the issue was resolved in a few days. We’ve been doing great since.

PHYSICAL RECOVERY

Aside from the bout of mastitis, I’ve really felt great physically compared to my previous experiences.¬†I had a smooth, vaginal delivery and didn’t require any stitches this time (despite pushing out my biggest baby!) The fact that it was my 3rd time probably had a lot to do with that. So I am very thankful. Don’t get me wrong, there has still been recovery involved. To paraphrase¬†Ryan Reynolds, a human being did indeed exit my body and that’s no trivial ordeal.

I’ve started to ease back into working out again ¬†by lifting weights. I’m basically starting from scratch again and rebuilding muscle. My core is really weak right now…I can¬†barely do a sit-up. I mean..my core/midsection has housed, sustained and grown 3 human beings, 3 separate times in the last 4 years, so it’s kind of to be expected that my core strength isn’t what it used to be (especially only 3 weeks postpartum right now). ¬†And¬†I’m totally okay with that. I’m starting light and going slow. I feel no pressure to “get my body back” in any particular time-frame. But there’s no denying the benefits of working out…I feel better mentally and physically when I do it. Results will come eventually.

SUPPORT

Last, but¬†not at all least, I’ve been blessed with help/support in these first few weeks! My mother-in-law was here at first and was a huge help, occupying my older kids, cleaning, etc. My awesome friends brought over meals. And my husband has been a complete rockstar. He also occupied the kids, took over potty-training with Gwen (she had a regression just before Fiona was born and it was causing me major stress). He went grocery shopping, He cooked meals and fed me (and poured the wine!) He did dishes. He did whatever he had to do so that all I had to worry about was nursing and resting. He also made sure we got out of the house, especially during my “baby blues” phase. Today is his first day back to work and we miss him already ūüôĀ

The fun is just beginning! Gwen starts preschool next week, MOPS will start back up again next month and I’m looking forward to settling into a new routine.

Here are some snapshots from the first few weeks…

 

 

12-Month Update (Ivor Alan)

I’m a little behind on this post for several reasons. 1. I’m in denial that he’s a year old 2. We’ve been busy bees–just getting back from our trip to PA- and STILL catching up on laundry (we came home with more stuff than we left with!), editing photos from the wedding I shot, doing dishes, looking at potential houses to buy, etc. etc. And 3. Generally the monthly updates are positive and include all the fun new things he’s doing and how he’s growing, but he’s been struggling with a few things recently and I just haven’t felt like writing about it, until now.

The biggest issue we’ve had is his weight. Right around 10 months, my milk supply dipped big time. So I thought it’d be a good time to start weaning him. Well, weaning was not something he was AT ALL interested in. He refused a bottle, and a cup (and I tried 23947 kinds of cups), and wouldn’t drink anything, except from me. But again, mama’s milk was running low (and my attempt at weaning just made it worse). So for 2 months, he ate solid foods but¬†had very little to drink. I ¬†could tell he lost weight, and his doctor’s appointment confirmed it. He lost almost 3lbs between his 9 month and his 12 month check up ūüôĀ He hasn’t been ill, and he’s generally pretty happy and active. They did some blood work on him and everything came back normal, thankfully. So we’re pretty certain the weight loss is just from lack of calories (low milk supply and refusal to drink anything else). His pediatrician recommended we see a GI doctor too and THAT¬†doctor kinda scared the crap out of me. His pediatrician was concerned, but not too freaked out by it. The GI doctor, on the other hand, looked¬†at his¬†growth chart and emphasized how “terrible” the drop in weight is, how thin he looks, that she wants him tested for Celiac’s Disease, starts talking about using a feeding tube (as a last resort), recommended we see an occupational therapist to get him to drink from something and tell them it’s “urgent” so we don’t have to be on a waiting list, etc. “Terrible” “Feeding Tube” “Urgent”. Not words you want to hear at your baby’s doctor appointment! ¬†She even mentioned “emergency” too I believe (in the context of getting us into a¬†child’s clinic that usually has a long wait).

The GI doctor also gave us some PediaSure samples to try in the meantime though, to see if he’d drink that. Well, after a day or so…he did! Up until this point, the best luck I’d had getting him to drink anything¬†was either from a regular cup or a food pouch. So we started with PediaSure in a food pouch, and once that was successful, I tried an actual sippy cup (without the leak stopper, so he’d have more immediate results)- he fought it a bit at first, but a day later he drank from¬†it without a fight (and finished¬†it!) This is a miracle, people. He went a loooong time freaking out at the sight of bottle or cup, pushing it away and turning his head. So, this is huge. As soon as I see an improvement in his weight, I’m going to stop giving him¬†PediaSure though. Even now¬†I’m diluting it with regular milk, because it is so loaded with sugar and a million other ingredients. Ugh. I hate giving it to him. But I’m so so thankful that he’s finally given in and embraced the sippy cup and something other than breastmilk. He’s getting a lot more calories now. He goes back in for a weight check next week, so I hope to have some good news! Keep him in your prayers.

Developmentally, there a few things Gwen was doing by now that he’s not (not that I should compare of course). But part of me thinks it’s because of his weight and that he’s not quite strong enough yet- like pulling himself up to stand and walking along while holding furniture. He can stand on his own while holding onto something, but again, doesn’t pull himself up to get there and certainly hasn’t started to walk yet. He crawls all over the place though, feeds himself (finger foods), he’s quick and sneaky, and smiley and cuddly. As recent events have confirmed, he is indeed stubborn and resistant to change. It takes him awhile to get used to something new. While we were away in PA, I could tell he was uncomfortable and not quite himself in a new environment surrounded by new people, etc. He was extra clingy and fussy. But the day we got home (after a meal and diaper change) he was happy as a clam and crawled all over the living room, played with his toys, all while smiling and laughing. He was so happy to be home ūüôā

A year sure does fly by. It’s hard to believe that my little baby boy will soon be entering toddlerhood, right alongside his big sister.¬†His sister is a fire cracker,¬†full of life and energy,¬†and he brings a nice peaceful calm to the room (and to anyone who comes in contact with him). He can make you melt by laying his little head on your shoulder and letting out a happy sigh. Looking up at you with his big brown doe eyes, and flashing you the sweetest smile, complete with complimentary dimple. He has forever stolen my heart!

Happy 1 year Ivor Baby. We love you!

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Clogged Ducts Suck

BUT you can get through it! I haven’t written about breastfeeding in a while. Especially since I thought it was all smooth-sailing the 2nd time around. And in¬†a lot of ways, it has been. But unexpectedly, when the little guy was almost 6 months old, I started getting recurrent clogged ducts, which is unusual this late in the game. Clogged ducts tend to happen in the first few weeks of breastfeeding when your boobs are trying to figure out how much milk to produce for your baby. Your boobs produce more milk than is being expressed, resulting in a clog. It first happened to me when Gwen was just 2 or 3 weeks old. It’s painful and annoying, but you can usually clear it within a few days if you’re persistent with nursing and/or pumping. And some women never get them, and I hate those women (kidding). But anyway, I think it happened to me this time around because he¬†started getting really inconsistent with his nighttime wakings and feedings around this time. He would go several days in a row sleeping straight through the night, so my boobs thought “Hey, we don’t¬†need to produce as much milk overnight anymore. Cool.” Then he would go several days in a row waking up and needing to eat 2-3 times every night. My boobs got confused. They started producing lots of milk overnight again, then he’d sleep through¬†the night and I’d wake up with a clog.

The first time it happened, I cleared it within a few hours. Hot showers, warm compresses, frequent nursing and some essential oils. Bam. Done. Then, a week later…another clog. This one was stubborn and wouldn’t clear. I even tried something I read online about nursing on all 4’s (because… gravity). It was awkward and uncomfortable, and it didn’t work for me. Eventually this clog turned into mastitis. It was mild, but still not fun, especially when you have to care for 2 children. I took antibiotics for 10 days and thought I was in the clear. Then a week later, another stinking clog. Same boob. Same location on the boob (which is usually the case). I’d had enough. I did¬†more research, and at this point I started searching Google for¬†“recurrent clogs”, instead of just clogs, and came across an idea on Kellymom.com to take Lecithin supplements. “Seems too easy,” I thought. But I was desperate and willing to try anything. ¬†So I consulted my doctor; and she told me it was OK to try.

Now, I should state the obvious. ¬†Correlation is not causation. ¬†My results may not be your results. And if you’re considering trying Lecithin supplements, talk to your doctor first to make sure it’s OK for you. ¬†But…

I started taking one 1200mg pill, 3-4¬†times per¬†day. The clog cleared and I’ve been clog-free ever since. Coincidence? Maybe. But I’ve heard of other moms experiencing the same thing.

I still take them and will continue to do so until I’m done breastfeeding. I don’t have time to deal with clogs and mastitis, so I’m not risking it. I’ve lowered my dosage to twice a day, sometimes only once when I forget. And still, no clogs. Woot. That’s not to say I rely solely on the supplements to avoid clogs. I still make sure he drains each boob when he nurses, has a good latch, etc.

If you suffer from recurrent clogged ducts,¬†and your doc is cool with it; it might be worth a try. I know how painful and frustrating clogs are. I wanted to give up on breastfeeding altogether because of it. But I’m so thankful I found something that works for me so I can continue. Over 7 months now and going strong. I’ve mentioned before that the little guy¬†hasn’t taken to solid foods yet, so he really is relying just¬†on breastmilk for his nutrition. At this point, solid foods are just for fun and experimentation anyway. But still. He’s happy and healthy and growing really well on boob juice alone, despite the challenges we’ve had recently. That’s a really good feeling.

So be encouraged, breastfeeding mamas who face challenges, you are not alone! And there are a lot of resources out there to help you overcome those challenges.

 

Breastfeeding the 2nd Time Around

I saw this article shared on facebook this morning and was inspired to write this post. I couldn’t agree with it more. Breastfeeding is so very natural, but NOT easy. I think more women would stick with it if they didn’t have unrealistic expectations. If they were aware of the very common challenges and difficulties, they might not think something is wrong with them when they experience it. I’ve even heard several times that “if you’re experiencing pain or soreness while breastfeeding, you’re not doing it right or your baby isn’t latched on properly.” Rubbish, I say! Yes, if your baby has a bad latch, it will definitely hurt. But it also hurts when they have a good latch! At first. Every single woman I’ve talked to who breastfeeds, experienced some pain in the beginning (some more than others). It’s normal. But, it DOES get easier. It really does. Knowing that in advance and having support and encouragement is the only thing that got me through those painful first weeks with Gwen (you can read about that experience here)

The 2nd time around for me has been much easier. I did experience some soreness again at the beginning, but not nearly as bad (no tears this time!)¬†I think it helped that I really did know what to expect and was more mentally prepared for it. Now, if I could tell my first-time-breastfeeding-self one thing though, now that I’m going through it the 2nd time, it would be this: Relax, watch your baby, not the clock. I was told in the hospital after Gwen was born, to make sure she eats¬†for at least 15 minutes on both sides and to never let her go more than 3 hours without eating. Is it a good rule of thumb and guideline, sure. Especially as a newborn, they should be eating about every 2-3 hours. But I kind of obsessed over it at times¬†and got really stressed out whenever she didn’t do that (which was a lot of the time). Eventually I abandoned that and just let her eat on demand, for as long as she wanted. But this time around, I’ve done it from the beginning and it’s been so much more enjoyable and less stressful. He eats when¬†he’s hungry, and eats until he’s full. Makes sense, right? Sometimes it’s only 10 mins, sometimes it’s 30 mins. And I don’t keep track of anything. Having a toddler running around makes that difficult anyway. If you were to ask me “when did he eat last and when will he be ready to eat again”? …I probably wouldn’t be able to give you an accurate answer (an estimate, maybe, sure). But he lets me know when he’s hungry and that works for us.

Also, I don’t obsess over “what can I eat/drink while breastfeeding?” as much as I used to either. I drink coffee. I drink wine. In moderation, of course (which I normally do anyway). But I’ve adopted the same mentality here, “watch your baby”. Some babies are more sensitive to what you eat and drink than others. So just pay attention. If your baby seems to be super fussy or crazy after you’ve had 2 cups of coffee, maybe cut back to 1 (or none) and see if that makes a difference. But with Gwen I would make sure I waited at least 2 hours after drinking a glass of wine before feeding her again. 2 hours exactly. No less. Because I read that’s how long it would take for the alcohol to be ¬†completely out of your system after 1 glass. Even though very little alcohol actually makes it into your breastmilk, it’s better to be safe. Blah blah blah. This time around, I’ve been known to drink a glass of wine WHILE feeding Ivor. Judge me if you’d like. He’s fine.

The main point¬†I’m trying to make is, RELAX. Don’t obsess. Pay more attention to your baby than to what you’ve read (especially on the internet, including my posts lol) or even what you’ve been told, because like that article mentioned, there’s a lot of bad advice out there. Obsessing and stressing just makes breastfeeding more difficult and less enjoyable. At least that’s been my experience. Maybe others have found great success while obsessing and stressing …but I haven’t met any of those people.

A great resource I used a lot in the past is kellymom.com. But also, nothing can replace the support and encouragement of real live¬†people ūüôā

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2 Weeks, No Sleep

I had forgotten certain things about having a newborn/baby. Yes, Gwen is still my baby…but she’s more of a toddler now. And her¬†toddler activities and the whole pregnancy thing made¬†the last year a blur. So as I’ve been spending the past few nights awake with a tiny human feeding off of me ALL NIGHT, wondering what in the world was going on…it became clear and I remembered those pesky things called…growth spurts. Brief periods of time during a baby’s first year that they act like they’re STARVING and need to eat 24/7. Growing is a good thing. Meeting milestones is a good thing. I get that this needs to happen and the result is good. But for a nursing mama it’s kind of an exhausting process. As my toddler and my husband snooze away at 3am, I’m awake…sitting up in bed with a baby on my boob. Hoping that maybe THIS time when I lay him back down he’ll actually sleep for longer than 1 hour. A solid hour is all I ask for at 3am. Is it too much to ask?

Sigh.

It goes by quickly. It goes by quickly.

Fortunately at his 2-week check up this morning it was confirmed that he has indeed grown. He’s up to 8 1/2 lbs now and 21 1/4 inches long. His head is bigger too. Always reassuring. I’ll be taking BOTH kids in for a check-up in about 2 weeks. It will be Gwen’s 15-month and Ivor’s 1-month. It will likely be the first time taking them somewhere by myself too as that day is also (big) Ivor’s first day back to work. Waa. Pray for me.

Aside from the lack of sleep, we are doing well. He’s such a sweet, handsome little guy. He loves to cuddle and poop in clean diapers 2.5 seconds after I put them¬†on him. When he’s awake, he’s very alert and looks all around and studies faces and objects. He makes lots of funny faces and noises (grunts and squeaks). He doesn’t seem to be phased at all by his sister’s loudness. Speaking of, Gwen has started giving him kisses! I melt.

Also, I’d like to say thanks to everyone who has brought a meal to us. We appreciate it SO much! I especially love when these meals include cookies…and wine. Seriously, it’s the best ever. THANK YOU ūüôā

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9 Month Update

Gwendolyn is 9 months old today! We had her 9-month check up a few days ago and I was so happy to hear how much she’s grown. She’s still on the smaller side of the growth chart but she has made so much progress since her 6-month check up when we were having weight/milk supply issues. To recap quickly: I got pregnant and my milk supply tanked. Gwen wasn’t gaining weight (even lost some!) so we decided to supplement with formula. I was hoping to get back to exclusive breastfeeding eventually once my milk supply got back up, but once I found out I was pregnant I had to stop taking Fenugreek (one of the main things I was using to help my supply). Fenugreek is a no-no during pregnancy. Gwen was less and less interested in nursing and was doing really well on formula. Also, my OB discouraged breastfeeding while pregnant (even though I read that it should be perfectly safe). I probably would’ve fought harder to keep doing it if it had still been going well. But since she was doing well on formula, my supply was still low, and she didn’t seem interested anymore, I slowly weaned her off. She’s 17 pounds (32nd percentile) and 27.5 inches long (50th percentile) now. Much better than being off the chart completely (in weight). Way to go baby girl!

I was telling her pediatrician how amazed I’ve been at how much happens developmentally between 6 and 9 months. She’s doing so much now I can hardly keep up! She crawls all over the place like a pro. But she’d much rather stand. She pulls herself up on everything she possibly can and even walks along while holding onto things. She has no fear. Occasionally she thinks she can stand or walk without holding onto something and will just let go! Cue mommy heart attack. She got her first boo-boo while attempting to pull herself up on something. She tripped over something on the floor and face planted into our DVD case, catching her eye on the shelf. She had just a little mark on corner of her eyelid but I thought she’d wake up the next morning looking like Rocky Balboa, with a big puffy black and blue eye, and everyone would see her and judge me for being a horrible parent. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought (I tend to assume the worst). She’s a tough cookie.

She also talks up a storm. Yells and growls. She can make “maaaa” sounds and “daaaa” sounds, but won’t repeat it when we ask her to or say “mama” or “dada” when we ask her to. She mostly says “ba ba ba ba ba ba” over and over. She occasionally has tantrums that include shaking her little fists at us. Yep. Can’t wait til she’s a toddler……

She’s our sweet little fireball and we love her so much!

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7 Month Update

I haven’t updated since last month because, well, it’s been a bit busy and eventful to say the least. But baby girl is 7 months old now and doing great!

We’re still having breastfeeding issues and decided to supplement with formula because she just wasn’t gaining any weight (she actually dropped off the growth chart completely). I wanted to make sure there wasn’t some other reason for her lack of weight gain which is why we made the decision we did. And thankfully, after supplementing with formula she has started gaining weight again, which is the most important thing. There’s more I can say about this and plan to in future posts, because there’s a lot more to the story. But we’ll leave it at this for now: she’s gaining weight, she’s happy and healthy and we feel we made the best possible decision for her at this time.

Moving on.

Sleep. I vaguely remember what that’s like. It’s cruel really. For 2 months straight she slept through the night. I’m talking 11-12 hours. Then around 5 months she decided…”who needs sleep???”. For the past 2 months, she hasn’t slept through the night once. Sigh. On a good night, she’ll wake up once. On most nights, 2-3 times. I’ve blamed teething. But there are no teeth. I’ve blamed sickness. But she’s healthy. I’ve blamed this “sleep regression” thing people keep telling me about. But is that supposed to last for 2 solid months?! At this point I just keep telling myself “this is a season of life…she’ll be driving before I know it, I will sleep again”.

As far as new things:

*Planking. (The fitness kind). Pretty sure it’s an attempt to crawl. But she’ll get up on her toes and her hands and hold the position for a few seconds. She’s going to have a very strong core.

*Still gets on all fours and rocks back and forth. She’s started moving her knees forward but hasn’t figured out yet that she needs to moves her hands too. It’ll happen soon enough.

*Eating. She still loves her solid foods. We haven’t found anything yet that she doesn’t like. But we’ll be introducing a lot of new things this month so maybe we’ll find something that she turns her nose up to.

*She’s so interactive now, I love it! You can have “conversations” with her. You respond to her, she’ll respond to you. And back and forth it goes. She really is a happy little girl who loves to smile and laugh. She can brighten up anyone’s bad day!

*Loves her reflection. Whenever she sees it on my phone she puts her face right up to it. Same with her little toy mirror. She’s so fascinated. “Who IS that adorable baby? We should be friends!”

*Miss-pees-a-lot. She’s been soaking right through her diapers at night. Time to do some cloth diaper troubleshooting. I’ve tried double stuffing, but she just soaks through both inserts! And for the record, she soaks through disposables too. We’ve tried those. Next to try is hemp inserts. If that doesn’t work, perhaps wool covers. If that still doesn’t work, we may try a fitted cloth diaper of a different brand. Any other CD moms out there have issues at night? If so, what did you find worked well for you? I’m open to suggestions! We have a heavy-wetter on our hands.

*Making more sounds. When I sneak up on her and scare her she literally screams “Ahhh!” and then starts laughing. She also said “daa” once. Ivor was beaming. But she wouldn’t say it again lol.

That’s all for now. I’ll leave you with this face:

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and this one…

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Happy 7 months Gwendolyn Jane!

6 Month Update! (and breastfeeding woes)

I may or may not be in denial that Gwen is 6 months old now. As in, half a YEAR! I swear I was just pregnant yesterday. Time flies. STOP IT, TIME.

So before I get into the “breastfeeding woes” portion of this post, I’ll start off with “what’s new”:

*Rolling all over the place. Right after I posted the 5-month update, she started rolling over…like the next day. So she’s been doing that for awhile now. Took her a little while, but she can now roll from her tummy to her back. At first it was just back to tummy. She also goes in both directions.

*Sleeping on her side/stomach. It scared me the first time I saw her sleeping on her tummy, but…she likes it. And even though I always put her on her back to sleep, she ends up rolling over at some point. Twice I’ve flipped her back over, and she woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep. So…I’ve stopped doing that. She also sleeps on her side sometimes, which I think is really cute (mommy’s a side sleeper too!)

*Sitting up! She can sit up with support just fine. But recently she’s been sitting up without any support for about, oh 20 seconds or so before she topples over lol

*Didn’t think it was possible but she’s even MORE vocal now. She always babbling to herself, her toys, to us. She likes to blow bubbles and make farting noises. And then laugh.

*Loves her some solid foods! So far we’ve done rice cereal, oatmeal, sweet potatoes and avocados. She’s loved all of it! And she gets mad when she finishes. The 2 oz. portions just aren’t enough for her. Which brings me to “breastfeeding woes”.

I suspected that my milk supply was getting low about a month ago. My boobs started shrinking back to normal size (which is totally depressing). And Gwen suddenly became super fussy while nursing. She acted hungry, but would only latch for a minute or so and then would get really frustrated and fuss/cry. Which immediately made me think that there’s just not enough milk coming out. Heck, I’d be frustrated too! But I went to kellymom.com and it said that many moms THINK their supply is low when it really isn’t, and that the size of your boobs and the behavior of your baby is NOT the best indicator of a low supply. Ultimately, it’s weight gain. She’s always been on the small side, and not super chunky like most babies. But she had been growing “along the curve” just fine and her doctor was never concerned.

Except that yesterday at her 6-month checkup we discovered that she actually LOST some weight since her last appointment (which was actually at 5 months). Not a significant amount of weight, but still. You want to see your baby gaining weight at each appointment, not losing it! Ugh…talk about feeling like a failure as a mom. (and she hasn’t been sick so that’s not the reason)

So now I’m in obsessive-get-my-supply-up mode. I’m taking fenugreek, drinking a lot more water, pumping after each feeding, drinking mother’s milk tea, etc. And in the meantime I’ll also be increasing her solids (2-3 times a day instead of 1, and larger portions). I’d really rather not supplement with formula if I don’t have to. I will if I have to. But I want to try everything else first.

I’ll keep everyone posted on our progress. We go back for a weight check in 2 weeks. I’d appreciate prayers!

That’s all for now. Happy 6 months, baby girl!

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