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Monday, March 26, 2012

new mommy of 2 - Sarah T!

My wonderful friend from graduate school just had her second baby less than a week ago. Ruby Katherine entered the world last week, so tiny and yet tall and strong. She's so precious! It made me remember I have yet to post her maternity photo shoot, baby "sprinkle" party pictures and a couple from the hospital visit I had with her. Enjoy!

SO happy for you, Sarah, Tim and big brother, Eli!



Because this was a second baby and her parents did not need much, her friends threw Sarah a baby "sprinkle" instead of a shower. Everything was sprinkled with love - including cupcakes to decorate! So fun!


SO happy for this new addition to a great family! My baby (due in 3 weeks) will be Ruby's BFF (best friend forever) or BF (boyfriend!), we shall see when we find out what it is. Regardless, we'll be having tons of fun with this new little girl!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Dear Almost Big Brother Owen,

Dear Owen,
Yes, it's true, you are going to be a big brother. Very soon! In about 3 weeks you will have a sibling around here crying and sleeping and eating and for you to do who knows what to it! Dad and I are so excited to add another one of you crazy kids to the mix in this house. You have brought so much joy to our lives that we can't imagine how incredibly awesome it's going to be with two of you around here.

Still, I know we have some challenges ahead. I'm not sure you exactly understand what becoming a big brother means. Oh, you are into it, this whole pregnancy thing. You went with me to one doctor's appointment early on and heard the baby's heartbeat. Ever since you race to take out the stethoscope from your doctor's kit and check the baby's heartbeat in my belly. You always want to "check baby," which means lifting my shirt to touch the crazy looking belly button I've developed. I think sometimes that you think the belly button IS the baby!

Today you were dancing around the living room with your baby doll. You have bottles for her and we talk about how babies drink bottles and big boys drink from cups. When we first took the baby swing out you were mesmerized by it for 3 days, pushing it way too fast and pressing all the buttons on it to play music. I was terrified, imagining a baby in there shortly. But a few days later you were over it. Now, your baby doll sits content in the swing, reminding all of us that a real baby is on its way to take the doll's place very soon!

We have tried to slowly do this preparing for baby thing around here, so as not to totally overwhelm you. Taking things out a little at a time, not talking about baby non-stop but also reading books about baby to familiarize you with what on earth is going on around here. It has been a very conscious effort to try to make sure you are OK with what is happening... as OK as a two-year-old who doesn't really get it yet can be I guess.

Lately you have started to react, I think. Call it Mother's Instinct, but I can tell you are "off." You had an ear infection about six weeks ago and ever since waking up in the night for that you have barely slept a solid night. You used to sleep 12 hours straight no problem, since you were an infant. Yet the last month or so you wake up at least once a night crying out for me. When I or dad get upstairs to your room you have real tears and are totally afraid and tell us "O scared..." and sometimes you tell us why (the door, the blocks, the blanket, etc.). We rock you, change your diaper, and put you back to sleep a few minutes later. You are also very sensitive lately. When we say no, you sometimes throw yourself on the floor sobbing, like you are so offended. When we are with other people who you see all the time and totally adore and I go to use the restroom, you get very anxious asking, "mama go? mama go?" You have never ever been like that.

I know all of this is normal. You are sensing the changes happening around here and of course with my growing belly. I know you will be OK through this, as you've survived every other stage in your development thus far. Still, it makes me sad.

You are my baby, afterall. You are my firstborn. There is something to be said for that, a bond like no other I imagine. I never understood why my own mother continues to this day to sometimes hug me extra tight as we're saying goodbye and rock me back and forth saying, "My baby, my baby..." She does not do this with any of my three siblings, just me. I'm her first. Now I know that's why she does this. I'll always be her baby because I was her first baby.

I drove past a mother waiting for the bus with her son the other day. The boy was probably 14 years old. The mom reached up and pushed aside his hair like I do now with my two-year-old. It was sweet. I could tell it was one of those moments of, "You are still my baby, and I still take care of you because I'm your mother."

Throughout this pregnancy the one thing that has really gotten me anxious and brought me to tears several times is the idea of how having this second baby in our lives is going to change things for you, Owen. I am so sad that I won't be home to put you to bed and wake up seeing you in your crib in the mornings for 4 days while I'm recovering from a C-section in the hospital. It kills me to imagine you crying out for me in the night and me not being there to rock you back to sleep. I know it's only four days, but even writing about this is bringing me to tears now.

We just have this special bond, you and me. I know you better than anyone. I'm the only one who can always decipher your words. Even your dad, who is the most involved father I know - giving you baths, doing bed time routine as much as I do it, feeding you and playing your funny games - does not always understand you like I do. I worry that if you do wake up in the night while I'm in the hospital and you say, "find blankie part" to whoever is staying with you, they won't understand that it means you want help finding that little tag on the edge of your silky blankie because it helps you go back to sleep.

I worry that when you are in the car driving up to the hospital to see me and you get tired and overwhelmed with sitting there too long, and you say "it it" nobody will understand that it means you want to lay your head back, suck your thumb, relax and hear me sing "itsy bitsy spider" to you to help calm you, and then continue on with our other 7 favorite songs.

We have routines, you and me. I know you will be fine out of your routine for a few days... but still it makes me sad. Since you were a little baby your dad and I have tried to be very open and include your family members all the way with holding you and babysitting and being around. We are pretty hands-off parents when with family members. We let them take over. So it's not like I'm terrified to let others help us out. It's just that I feel so guilty that I won't be there for you when you are experiencing something that is anxiety-provoking.

I think it makes it worse for me to imagine because the changes extend past the first 4 days in the hospital. Because I'm having another C-section I know my limitations physically. I will not be able to pick you up in the crib or car seat for a long while. I'm supposed to not pick you up 8 weeks... I have no idea how I can do that. And yet I don't know how I can pick you up either, even if I wanted to. This is major surgery, I remember how painful it was and how long it took me to recover. I think knowing the long recovery just makes me worry more that you'll see things are changed.

I told a friend at work about how I feel and she said it's totally normal for me to feel this way and that you are also going to have a tough time, which is very normal. Yet, she said, "You have to remind yourself that you are giving your son the best gift you could ever give him, a sibling." It's true. I know this is true. I am the oldest of four, your dad is the youngest of four. We always planned on having several kids because of this one reason - siblings are incredible. They are your best friends. I know that's how will be when you grow up with this new baby following you around.

So, Owen, I just want you to know that despite all the changes we are about to experience in our little growing family, I love you to the moon and back, and that will never change. You will always be my baby.

I know you are going to be a great big brother. It will be hard and totally weird at first. But I know you are going to be super cool. You have developed this cute baby voice lately. Dad says it's a voice I use sometimes. You use it for your baby doll or animals or cute things like that, and when you're saying "Sorry mama" after getting into trouble. It makes me realize that as little as you are, you know what it'll take to be a good big brother.

Love you, pal. Let's just stick with each other through this next crazy part of our life. Dad will do his best to keep us both on track anyway, I know. We have nothing to worry about.

Love, Mama

P.S. Don't worry, I'm writing a list of all your favorite foods and the words to our favorite bed time songs so whoever is helping out when I'm not able to will know just how we like things done!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

feeding #2 - doing it my way this time

Baby #2 is on the way!
We are busy at home preparing for baby - diapers and wipes are bought, the bassinet is in our room, newborn clothes are washed and folded, diaper bag is packed, swing is in the living room, hospital bag is ready to go, and car seat is in the car.

With all of these preparations around here you'd say we are all set for baby. Yet there was one more area that really needed some planning and considering in order to be really ready for baby to come. For me, that big thing was what and how to feed my second child. As I've written about in another blog post, my experience with trying to nurse my first child was a disaster. He was tongue tied, a large baby (9 lbs 3 oz!) so was starving, and I had a C-section, which made my milk come in later. I struggled with guilt and pressures from lactation consultants and family and friends to strictly nurse. It was difficult for me to supplement with formula at first. Then I started pumping... and the rest was history. I pumped for 12 months! It worked for us. Nursing did not.

Because of what we went through (which you can read more in my blog post, "Breastfeeding mishap turned pumping miracle" from March 2012), I have changed my mind dramatically about how I intend to feed baby #2.

My Feeding Philosophy
My philosophy before my first child was born was that I intended to nurse and that was it. I didn't know anything else, which is strange because I was a formula-fed baby, so were my siblings, and several friends' babies. But I was told nursing was best, so that was what I was going to do. I read about 6 books on the topic. I bought breast pads. I registered for pumping parts, breastmilk storage bags, and Lansinoh cream. I took a Breastfeeding 101 class with my husband so he'd even be clued in to what I was doing. It was going to work great. There were no concerns or worries in my mind that it would not work. I figured it'd be hard, but doable.

Then life happened. Reality set in. My son could not latch on, physically it was not happening for him. So I learned pretty quickly - by day 4 - that my ultimate responsibility was to feed my child, and that it did not matter anymore WHAT I fed him or HOW I fed him.

Because of what I experienced last time I've changed my tune dramatically with preparing how to feed this second baby. And while I was sad, felt defeated and guilty having to supplement with formula, only pumping and using bottles, and having to give up my ideal of breastfeeding with my first child, now I don't feel that way. Now going into this a second time, I feel empowered, confident and entirely stronger. I'm ready to take on whoever tries to make me feel guilty about how I feed my child! I feel like this time I can be in control, in the driver's seat.

So what's my new plan? It's simple and it's complicated - isn't that the way having a newborn should be anyway?!
My husband and I have already talked about our new plan, because part of what was so challenging the last time around was that we were on different planets when it came to feeding our son. I was the emotional, hormonal, feeling side of imagining nursing working. He was the realistic, proof, factual side saying our son just needs food, didn't matter what or how. Now, we are on the same page, and I think it's going to make a world of difference.

The New Plan
I am going into the hospital this time with the plan to breastfeed my baby right away like I did with my last child. I intend to do lots of skin-to-skin contact to bond and let the baby really know who I am. I intend to try nursing from the start. However, nursing is not going to be my main mode of feeding my child. In fact, the only real reason I intend to try nursing this time is for the bonding that I think is so important that first week with a newborn. I want my baby as close as possible to me like it has been for the last 9 months of pregnancy.

My plan for actually feeding my child is slightly different. Because I know my milk won't come in for at least 5 days after the surgery, I know there won't be much milk to provide to my child via the breast in the hospital. So, I intend to start pumping on the second day in the hospital. Whatever milk I come up with we'll feed to my baby from a bottle.

If I do not produce enough milk in those first few days by pumping, I'll feed my child my milk first, then get out a bottle of formula to supplement. We will continue this pattern until I'm strictly pumping enough milk, which for my first child happened when he was about 6 weeks old or so.

Changing My Tune
I intend to use bottles. I plan to nurse for the sake of bonding, not the sake of feeding. How long will I try nursing? Honestly, I don't want to nurse as the main way of feeding, something I never thought I'd say! So I really don't know. Let's just say this baby latches perfectly and milk comes in and everything is perfect - I still don't anticipate myself being a full-time nursing mom. After my experience and how it opened my eyes to some of the downfalls of nursing, I've completely changed my mind about it - FOR ME. That is not to say I don't agree with nursing. Of course I do. It's great, definitely. But I'm beyond that. I'm beyond the pressures and expectations.

I'm all about doing what is right for me, the baby, and my family of 4 this time around. Because I realize it all affects everything else. And I don't just have me, husband and baby to consider - I also have a toddler to consider in how this all affects him. With my first child we had to stay an extra day in the hospital because he had not gained enough weight to go home, yet I was discharged. It was awful. Having that first child at home this time while I am in the hospital with #2 makes me want to do all I can to feed baby #2 well enough in the hospital to get home ASAP to my son. Having him has also changed how I feel about feeding the second one, because of course my first child is part of this family and all that we do affects him, too.

Because I could not nurse, I now have a very different view on how it all works.
I have noticed many things that are different for the average breastfed baby versus bottle-fed baby. I don't think I'd be comfortable nursing in front of people. I see that nursing babies take at least twice as long as pumping and bottle-feeding takes. Having a toddler around means I don't want to be tied up for an hour at a time, every other hour. Recovering from a C-section is really hard work, which means I need my child to sleep, which my first did and I credit a lot of that to getting a certain amount of breastmilk from a bottle versus nursing. I liked how my husband could help with feeding our first son. I liked how it made him feel included and how my son seemed to have this very serious bond with him from the start. I want the help, and believe especially with this second child I'll need that help even more.

Mostly, I know now that it's OK however I feed my child. Everything will be fine, it's not the end of the world.

Still, I'm nervous.
I'm a little scared of those lactation people pressuring me and getting to me when I'm hormonal and perhaps not as strong as I am now. I'm worried that when I try to explain this new plan to family and friends that they will look at me strange and not get what we are doing.

At the end of the day, my husband supports me, and this is our baby, our family. If I've learned one thing about being a parent it is that you have to do what is right for your own family, not what others expect.

Re-reading this blog post has me in shock! It's sooo entirely different from where I once was two years ago before the birth of my first child. I'm really proud of myself actually. It's difficult to acknowledge your own truth and reality, and go forward in doing what works for you minus the guilt.

So this time around I've taken the free samples of Similac at the doctor's office. And when my full-time, no issues breastfeeding sister-in-law came over recently and opened that cupboard and saw formula in there I didn't even feel guilt for two seconds (not that she would make me feel guilty about it, I would have done that on my own). When people post on this blog about using formula I stand right up immediately and admit that yes, we too, supplemented with formula and it was totally fine. I have already sterilized the bottles for this second baby. I registered for breastmilk storage bags and new pump parts. I even got one of those cool nursing covers so that I can use it in the hospital and feel more comfortable nursing, as well as use it at home when I'm pumping in front of my toddler. I have ordered new pump tubing and am getting ready to sterilize all of those parts, too. As you can see, it's going to be an "all systems go" type of feeding process around here.

At the end of the day, I know my baby will be fed, by me, and that's a good feeling.

(Now if only everything will work JUST as I've described it here, we'll be good to go! Ha!)

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Breastfeeding didn't work for me and my son.
That is a whole long story that I've shared in a previous blog post. The end result though was me pumping every 2-4 hours for 12 months. For the first 5 months or so I woke up in the night, despite that my son was sleeping through the night from 5 weeks on. I was afraid to let myself sleep through the night because I thought my milk would decrease if I did. Then eventually I slept overnight and the milk was OK.

It was a big decision, a huge effort and took tons of dedication on my part, I admit. It is something I'm very proud of having accomplished, and yet something I have zero clue on how I stuck with it. Everyone I talk to congratulates me, thinks I am amazing, albeit a fool, for exclusively pumping. They tell me it must have been such hard work, harder than just nursing.

For me, it was about starting with small goals (pump today, pump this week, pump until maternity leave is over, pump through the summer...) until I just could not quit because I wanted to prove something to myself for some strange reason. I told myself it was my job during maternity leave. Once that was over and I returned to work for a few weeks I said to try to get through a few days of pumping at work. I worked in a school, so only had a few weeks before summer vacation. I ended up getting through that first week back to work, told myself to continue just until summer. Summer came and went and I decided pumping would be my job again during the summer off from work. By the time fall came around my son was 7 months old and I just could not allow myself to quit. I'd come too far. I had to prove to myself I could do this. It had nothing to do with not liking formula - we had supplemented with that in the first and the last months. It had nothing to do with being a great mom or proving something to others or feeling guilty stopping providing breastmilk. It was truly about proving to myself I could keep with this big goal I totally thought would not work for me early on.

I pumped in my car in behind buildings. When it was time to get a new car half-way through my son's first year I told my husband the only thing I really needed was tinted windows for my pumping escapades in the car! I had a car charger for pumping and yes, I'll admit I've pumped while driving (one at a time so a hand on the wheel at all times, don't worry!). I pumped at work and had a system of putting up a bright orange poster on my window of my office door and a do not disturb sign, which people came to know what it meant. It was a process...

On the days these next two pictures were taken I don't really remember all I did those days, except having to pump in my car! The first picture is of my sister-in-law holding my son. I had her keep him while I ran out of the baby shower I was attending to go out to my car to pump. The next picture is of my good friend on the day we went shopping for her wedding. I left her in the store while I went out back behind a shopping mall to pump. Oh the creativity and challenges of pumping!

Why choose to strictly pump?
There are a number of reasons why women choose to pump, exclusively or even a little bit. Whatever the reasons, it's easy to feel alone in your decision because most people are in one of two categories - breastfeeding or bottle feeding formula. Most don't exclusively pump. If people do use a pump it's in conjunction with nursing. It's easy to be misunderstood and feel like nobody gets what you are doing.

Resources for Pumpers!
I searched the Web and a few books for some info. I didn't find tons, but wanted to share what I came up with. Check it out!

The best book I ever read regarding pumping and nursing issues was The Milk Memos by Cate Colburn-Smith and Andrea Serrette. It has tons of real stories that help you feel less alone in this crazy pumping process.

Article - Mothers Who Forgo Breastfeeding for Pumping by Nancy Mohrbacher
Article - Choosing a Breastpump
Article - Why Women Choose to Exclusively Pump Breast Milk by Stephanie Casemore,9171,1975328,00.html
Article - Women Who Opt for Breast Milk, Not Breast-Feeding by Catherine Sharick, Time Magazine, May 2010 - An incredible article that will make you feel less alone if you choose exclusively pumping!
Pump Mom! A great blog by a woman who exclusively pumped, a bit old, from a few years ago, but still interesting to read.

Several Facebook pages/groups:
Exclusively Pumping Moms
Exclusively Pumping Breast Milk
Exclusively Pumping Moms (because we want the best for our kids)

What you need to be a strict pumper:
1. A reliable double electric pump. I used Medela, which I hear is the best by many mommy friends, but just as long as it's double and electric that's what matters to make the most of your time and efforts.

2. A cooler bag with ice packs to transport your milk after pumping.

3. A car charger for your pump - just in case!

4. Spare pump parts (when you are a strictly pumper you will go through those little white pieces called membranes... and if you bust one of those without realizing it you could think, like I did for 4 days, that your milk has dried up!).

5. A towel or as I used a burp cloth to put under your bra while pumping, especially at work so nothing drips.

6. Supportive nursing bras and nursing pads.

7. A good set up at home of where you will pump every few hours. Needs to be comfortable for you. Couch? Chair in your bedroom?

8. Breastmilk freezer bags for all of your liquid gold!

9. Above all, you need SUPPORT. It's going to be a challenge to need to take a time out every couple of hours to do this pumping thing. Your partner especially needs to be on board so that they can take care of baby while you do your thing.

"It is difficult to argue that breast milk is not the best nutrition possible for our babies. When breastfeeding just doesn’t work out, you can not breastfeed, or do not want to breastfeed but still recognize the value of breast milk, there is another option instead of formula. Women need to know this. You need to know this. While it is sometimes a more difficult road to travel, it is one that will be worth the effort when you look into the eyes of your breast milk-fed baby." - Stephanie Casemore, author of the book Exclusively Pumping Breast Milk
This is the best personal account I've read, well really one of the few personal stories I've read about someone who chose to pump exclusively. I agree!
"People are so limited in their definition of breastfeeding, that the only way to get milk to your baby is through your breast. It's because nobody is thinking outside the box.
"One of the reasons I easily embraced pumping was because I believe in egalitarian parenting, and a nursing relationship does not involve the father. I don't care how many women say, 'Yes, but he goes to the bassinet to get little Johnny, and he stays up and rubs my shoulders while I nurse.' I don't care. It's still not an egalitarian parenting experience. I think, in some ways, Darren is closer to Baby because he had more infant responsibilities with her.
"I actually feel that pumping, not nursing, has been one of the most empowering experiences of my life, and it definitely helped define me as a mother and woman. Through that entire quagmire, and in spite of what anyone said I found what truly worked best for me and my child, not what was expected, acceptable, or the norm.
"My breastfeeding experience was proof that I actually can do it my way, and the hell with anyone else. I derived so much strength from bucking the system, and I ride on that to this day."

-Valerie Vass, Manchester, Vermont, from the book, Breastfeeding Cafe by Barbara Behrmann

Sunday, March 4, 2012

a breastfeeding mishap...turned pumping miracle!

Not latching on
This is one topic that is pretty upsetting to me, but also one that when I started this blog I really wanted to write about. After reading the book, Mother Shock by Andrea J. Buchanan, and reading her essay in there, "Confessions of a Bottle-Feeder," I feel ready to shed the light on the whole breastfeeding process, at least what I experienced.

The cold truth of it is that breastfeeding did not work for me or for my son. He would not latch on. I tried for four days in the hospital, with him screaming and sobbing louder than he has still ever screamed in his two years of life. I hurt like hell. He and my husband were miserable.

I remember one night we had visitors who'd traveled a long ways to see us, but it was time for me to nurse. I had a hard time nursing and physically moving the baby where I needed him due to my C-section and literally not being able to turn or move in bed those first few days, so I always needed help to get him onto me at first. This one night a lactation person kicked everyone out of our room, undressed me and my son, saying the skin-to-skin would help better with nursing. She left me that way, with my husband out of the room entertaining the guests. The baby moved and wasn't latched right and I was having a really hard time getting him back on correctly, because again I could not move. I started sobbing. I looked up and realized that the window was completely open, it was night time, and you could see directly across into other patients' rooms, which told me they could see into mine... which further upset me. I tried reaching toward the table for my cell phone to call my husband, but could not move to reach it. It was an awful moment.

Essentially, we were told by the doctor we had to stay an extra night in the hospital because my son did not weigh enough to go home. Actually, we were told I was discharged from my C-section stay, but that our son needed to stay an extra night because he had lost too much weight. Luckily they allowed us to stay in the room with him that night, but it was devastating.

Tongue Tied?
On the last day in the hospital the lactation consultant said she thought Owen was tongue tied, meaning the part under his tongue was literally tied too much to his mouth making it difficult for him to latch appropriately. She told us if we did not have it taken care of he would not nurse at all. Nursing being my priority, we agreed to have the tongue specialist check out our newborn's mouth. The doctor came into the room with a briefcase, looked at Owen's mouth, talked to us for a minute about what we'd been through with trying to nurse, and determined, yes, Owen had tongue tied. We asked what he would do about that. He said he would take care of it right here and now if we wanted in a "surgical procedure" of cutting the part under his tongue with scissors. No medication would be used to numb it. The doctor moved toward his brief case to start. I glared at my husband and gripped his hand, as if telepathically saying "Get him out of here NOW!" My husband said, "Thanks very much, doctor, but we are not prepared to do that right now and will let you all know if we need to."

Right then and there I made the decision to stop nursing and to get formula for my son who was starving. I was 100 percent opposed to this tongue tied procedure. Several lactation people tried telling me our son would have speech problems forever if we did not take care of this situation right away, and of course they reminded me I could forget my dreams of ever nursing if we didn't do the procedure. My sister-in-law is a speech therapist whom I trust very much. She disagreed, said she has never in all of her career heard of a child needing speech therapy due to having tongue tied as a newborn.

I know many close friends and family members who have indeed had this procedure done on their children in an effort to nurse their babies. I respect their opinions, truly I do. Doctors will even say that the procedure does not hurt the baby and is OK to do, so it's not like it's inhumane or anything. However, for my husband and I, it was a ludicrous request at something that was already not working to begin with. It was the end of the line, the last straw for us. In my opinion, it was just too much to put into something that was not the end result in life.

I am grateful now that my son had tongue tied. It gave me the power I needed to reassess the situation and to realize that I did not need to nurse, it was not the end of the world. It helped me take control back from the lactation people and nurses and family and friends who were pressuring us to "keep with it, don't quit now, he'll get the hang of it, you'll see."

I am still shocked how completely clear I became in that one second when the doctor said "surgical procedure to help your son nurse." My husband had been trying to convince me for days that we could supplement with bottles while the nursing took some time to get working, but I wouldn't listen. I couldn't. The pressure I felt from everyone else - and even myself - was way too much to think clearly at that time (in the midst of hormones, lack of sleep and a C-section recovery process).

To supplement and pump we go!
After lots of tears and discussions with my husband (including the biggest fight to date after 12 years of being together where we were both at our wits ends over what on earth to do to help our poor hungry baby), nurses, doctors, family members, lactation consultants, etc. we decided we needed to feed this baby, he was starving. We gave him formula from a dropper, then from a tube. We finally gave him a bottle 5 days later. He stopped crying immediately. My husband looked relieved.

I felt guilty, embarrassed, depressed, defeated, and furious with the system. I felt like a terrible mother. I felt like I'd failed at something that was "supposed" to have worked easily for us.

Help is on the way!
The same day we gave my son formula a wonderful, sweet, young nurse came to check me in the middle of the night. I was still crying over feeding my son formula. She suggested I pump. I had no idea what that even meant, nobody had mentioned it to me - not friends, not doctors or nurses or lactation people. She helped me at 3 a.m. and I produced maybe one ounce of breastmilk from both sides. I was so incredibly proud of myself. From that moment on I started pumping every hour to two hours and gave that milk to my son first, then offered the formula. Voila! We'd found OUR system that would work to make all 3 of us - me, baby and husband - happy. I will forever remember this nurse. I swear I see her as some angel. She was young, blonde, soft spoken and just was the answer to my prayers at that moment.

My doctor came to see me the last day when we were being discharged and I was still sad about nursing not working (despite that I kept trying nursing for a week after the hospital too). She bent down near me where I sat in a chair and said, "Angela, listen, I'm your doctor so you trust me, right?" I said yes. She proceeded to tell me that even she did not nurse past 4 weeks. She said it was too hard, too much effort, made her a worse mom, and that her baby was on formula and did great and is still thriving. It's not the end of the world. "You are not a bad mother," she said. The pediatrician was in the room at the time checking out our son, too, and she said the same thing. "Oh yeah, I used formula, too. It's not the worst thing." I stared at my doctor in disbelief and laughed out loud saying, "Well, I wish you'd told me that 5 days ago!"

Going home!
We went home with about an ounce of pumped breastmilk, a rented breast pump, and rules about how long to put milk on the counter for, how to manage supplementing formula and breastmilk together until my milk came in steady to just strictly use my milk. I no longer felt pressure to breastfeed. In my opinion, it was the milk that counted. I let go of the pressure, feelings of defeat, and just accepted this was what would work for us. I did try nursing off and on that first week home from the hospital, but eventually was OK letting it go completely because the pumping was going so well.

Being home with my new family, away from pressures of lactation specialists and nurses and visitors made me gain confidence that I was a good mom and doing just fine. When a visiting nurse came to weigh him and he'd gained almost a pound in a week she said, "Wow, congratulations, you guys are doing something right!" My husband smiled at me and said, "My wife is doing something right." We told her I was pumping and supplementing with formula. She said, "That's great, just keep feeding this little guy!"

The silver lining

In the end, I am happy this was our story and that I was not a nursing mom. I strongly believe my son slept better because he was given bottles. I believe I recovered faster from a horrible ordeal in the hospital and a C-section because I was not up nursing him for hours every night. I feel like my husband has a special bond with our son since he was able to help right away with feedings. I know we had an easier time when I had to go to work after 11 weeks and did not need to transition him to bottles because it was all he'd known. I don't think I would have been very comfortable nursing in front of people as I've seen many friends do, so even that was a blessing in disguise that I could excuse myself to another room for 10 minutes instead of the 45-60 I've seen nursing moms have to do so frequently.

It was nice also to share our baby with others who had been so patiently awaiting this first grandchild on my side and second on my husband's side. At first I had a rule that all breastmilk bottles I strictly fed to my son, to keep the feeling that I was feeding him myself and bonding with him. Then formula bottles his dad would feed him or sometimes others would feed him. Within 4 weeks we did not need anymore formula and he was strictly on my milk for 10 months, until we supplemented one formula bottle a day until a year old.

We did it!
It was not at all how I'd predicted it would be when I read all the nursing how-to books, and it was not at all what the Breastfeeding 101 teacher said it would be. But it was what it was, and now I can look back and be grateful it turned out how it did. Pumping was just my thing. And now I know that was OK.

My mission

It has since become my mission to help new moms or moms-to-be understand that nursing is not the only way to feed your child. Yes, I agree wholeheartedly that nursing is the best thing in the world. However, it's breastmilk that is BEST, not nursing in my opinion. Formula is not evil either. Many of us in this generation were raised on formula. Back in the day breastmilk was considered bad just like formula is considered today.

I support moms in whatever they choose to do. I just hope moms who want to breastfeed stop and think to themselves, why do I really want to do this? Is it because I believe this is best or is it because I've been told by everyone and their mother's lactation consultant that it's the ONLY way?

I have heard stories of moms nursing and blood coming out into the baby's mouth in the milk because her nipples were so sore. A lactation consultant told her that was normal. I have heard of moms who struggle for two months with cracked nipples and are up nursing every hour for 45 minutes to an hour straight - without eating, using the restroom, sleeping or seeing visitors to cheer her up. I have heard of moms being told bottles should never ever be used until 6 weeks old OR ELSE. I have heard of fathers who wished they could be part of this thing that mom was in charge of for 9/10 months, but can't be part of it because the baby eats from mom. I have heard hands down that most breastfed babies do not sleep so their parents have a harder time. I have heard of lactation people saying "oh that's just normal" to things that moms themselves question, "Do I really need to put myself and my body through this?"

It frustrates me that this is such a hot topic - nursing or bottles. I never feel guilty when I'm around moms who use cloth diapers and I use disposable diapers. I don't feel pressure to use cloth diapers. I don't feel like I'm a terrible person or bad mom because I use disposable diapers. However, even when I was pumping breastmilk and feeding my son a bottle in front of other moms I'd have to make a comment like, "Oh you like mom's milk in a bottle, huh?" just so the moms would know I was a "good mom" for still providing breastmilk. I did that a couple of times until I realized how stupid that was considering I also used formula and thought there was NOTHING wrong with formula. Why the pressure over what and how we feed our children, yet no pressure about how we dress them or diaper them or what age we potty train or if they stay at home without peers or are socialized early on in a daycare? It does not make sense to me. But I digress...

I'll say it here- lactation consultants are wonderful and you should certainly ask for their assistance in the hospital. I have nothing against them. My personal experience with them was terrible, but it was in conjunction with a myriad of symptoms. I support nursing and breastfeeding parents. I just want some of that support reciprocated for those who choose another way... pumping or formula or supplementing or bottles.

I hope we all can realize this is HARD WORK. Way harder than anyone imagines it will be, even those who latch correctly right off say it's hard work. I hope we can all support one another in the process of feeding our children, and realize that a year from now we won't care how they were fed just that they are growing toddlers at that point and we did our best to be good mothers.

Friday, March 2, 2012

book - The Mother Trip

The Mother Trip - Hip Mama's Guide to Staying Sane in the Chaos of Motherhood by Ariel Gore

This was an interesting read. She wrote another book about Hip Mamas. What I liked about this book was it was all short stories about motherhood, the truth about the ups and downs of it all. She has a witty, honest way of saying it like it is, in a way that makes you feel better about whatever you were struggling with as a parent.

On page 20 the author wrote, "The world tells us all - in a thousand ways - that there is no margin of error in mothering. But I am here to tell you that there is a margin, and it is wide. Just as the occasional piece of chocolate cake can't make you fat, just as a few days off won't make you a lousy employee, blowing it as a mother every once in a while doesn't spell disaster for your kids' psyches. It simply doesn't.
"We are human beings, after all, and sometimes we have to roar. We may feel caught between the tides, caught between who we are and who we think we ought to be, but we can also be honest. We can offer our children the whole of who we are, 3:00 A.M. roaring and all.
"Take a moment to imagine the perfect mother. No, wait. Take a moment to look in the mirror. She is you. You are enough for your children, no matter what the choir says, no matter who you imagine you 'should' be, you are enough. Remember that."

It's also about taking care of ourselves.
On page 37 the author wrote, "We need time to ourselves, moments of awareness, connections, meaningful work. We need cheap art, good sex, nights at the bowling alley and days at the beach. We need good coffee, hearty meals, lush gardens, and time to relax and enjoy our lives without worrying so much about whether we are good enough mothers or skinny enough girlfriends or wives. We need to take care of ourselves so that we can mother our children soulfully and lead lives worth living."

After reading this paragraph I feel like taking a bubble bath and eating ice cream and putting my feet up!
On page 51, "We are taught that motherhood is a selfless profession, but I'm here to tell you that it doesn't have to be. We can loaf. We can meet our children's needs and fulfill our own desires. We can take care of ourselves - not just because our own comfort and happiness will make us better parents (although it will) - but because we deserve the same attention we give to our kids. We are worth the trouble."

On page 62, "System Error," is a hilarious but totally true story about all the crazy things that interfere with your day as a mom, little things that come up. At the end of this she wrote, "Take a seat. Take a breath. And let yourself laugh. This is how it is meant to be sometimes." I love this! It's so true. All we can do sometimes when our children are throwing the food we just made across the kitchen and splashing us big time in the tub and running through a library screaming... is LAUGH. What else can we do?

I like what the author wrote about not being able to do it perfectly, because there is no such thing. On page 63 she wrote, "As far as I'm concerned, there are only about three things we have to do for our kids: Nurture them in a child-friendly culture or subculture; give them appropriate limits and boundaries; and refuse to abandon them. Will following these three rules guarantee you ever-happy, problem-free children? No. There is no such thing as an ever-happy, problem-free person. If there were, she would probably die of boredom.
"We put everything we have into our kids, but they do not turn out predictably. They do not 'turn out' at all. They are human, always changing. We can't parent them in a totally controlled environment. When things go wrong in their lives, we can rarely pinpoint a precise cause and effect..."

This was a great book! It's all about empowering we moms to know that we ARE great moms and that yes it is OK that we take time out for ourselves. I think we all need this reminder.