My Breastfeeding Journey So Far

To the handful of guys who read my blog…  Well…  You might want to skip over this one.  HA, HA!)  Also, just to warn all of you, this is a long post.  🙂  


 

 

Breastfeeding…  For something that’s supposed to be so normal and natural, it sure isn’t easy.  At least not for me.  And knowing that, I faced breastfeeding Kaitlyn with a much different goal in mind than I had when I fed Brady.

Approaching my second breastfeeding journey, I decided that I would nurse for six weeks only.  This would provide Kaitlyn with the extremely important colostrum, as well as additional weeks of high-nutrient, germ fighting liquid gold.  (It’d also help me lose some of the baby weight, which was a win-win scenario).  After that point, I’d begin purchasing an organic formula, since I knew that nursing would prove to be even harder this time around.  And I didn’t want to take on more than I could chew.

HAHA, so accurate. #breastfeeding

Like her brother had, Kaitlyn latched on beautifully once I was in the C-section recovery room.  Also like her brother, she made finding a comfortable position for nursing difficult, since she was so large.  😉  Being almost 10 pounds herself, I struggled with being able to support her body and head while guiding her to feed.  My arms weren’t long or strong enough to hold that much newborn.  Ha, ha.  I knew from before that lying down would be the easiest position, so – after a few days of struggling to support her – we stuck to that position.

Because it was my second time around, my milk came in fast, which was a good thing because Kaitlyn was always hungry.  Her scrawny legs and arms filled in REALLY fast and continued to do so during the following weeks.  (My babies tend to eat a lot, but my breastmilk also has a high-fat content.  Sooooo, my big babies only get bigger).

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For two weeks, nursing was honestly the sweetest, easiest of experiences.  I told one friend that I now understood why some women love it, because it was the most precious of times.  I still had to lie down to feed her, but Kaitlyn was nursing well (although with each passing day, more and more milk was dribbling out of her mouth and onto the towel beneath us).  Still, I had a great milk supply.  She seemed happy.  And the moments that she nursed were just incredibly sweet and priceless.

Then week 2 hit.

Kaitlyn started to get fussier and fussier, crying a lot and refusing to be soothed no matter what we tried.  Nate and I started to talk about getting her checked by the specialist who had diagnosed (and treated) Brady for a lip and tongue tie.  By this point, I had pumped and introduced her to a bottle, and her latch wasn’t very strong at all. She also would easily fall off my nipple if I so much as moved.

The night after we called to make an appointment with the specialist, we ended up bringing her to the emergency room.  She had been screaming all afternoon, and Nate had placed her down onto the changing table when she suddenly stopped breathing.  She went from screaming to silent.  (Now we know that she was choking on reflux, but – in the moment – we had no idea what was going on).  It was terrifying!  We called my parents who rushed over within 8 minutes to watch Brady, so that we could rush her to the ER.

The next day, she was put on the same medication that Brady had once been on for acid reflux.  I also was encouraged to go on an allergy restricted diet; so I decided to give up all the main allergens:  Dairy, soy, eggs, nuts, and fish.  (I slowly brought back foods to test her reactions, and she was fine with fish.  But I ended up having to give up Dairy, soy, and nuts for months.  I now can eat nuts and eggs, but she still won’t tolerate dairy and soy).

Jumping on a restricted diet was a bit easier this time around, since I knew what to expect.  (Also, it had been particularly tough last time, because the diet started on Christmas Eve.  That was a rough day, realizing that I wouldn’t get to eat any of my favorite foods.  AND we missed out on the family party, because Brady was screaming so badly).  So needless to say, the jump to a restrictive diet was much less traumatic with Kaitlyn.

That being said, I had a few days of what felt like near-starvation before my sister helped me come up with a bunch of food ideas!  When you’re a nursing mom, you’re hungry all the time.  So having to avoid so many food options is not only hard… it’s can be an emotional blow.  (I never would have thought I’d cry over cheese, but I seriously missed pizza SO badly in the beginning).

A week after our trip to the ER, the dentist did confirm that Kaitlyn had a lip and tongue tie; so she had a procedure done to fix both.  Her nursing improved almost immediately!  That fix, along with the reflux medicine and my restricted diet, resulted in incredible changes.  I’ve honestly never met a happier, more giggly baby.

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Now you might be wondering where along the way my six week goal turned to six months.  😉  And the answer is an easy one…  My baby girl is thriving on breastmilk. On the other hand, she has a diary intolerance that has been confirmed by testing at the doctor’s office.  When Kaitlyn was four months old, our pediatrician warned me that special, dairy-free formulas can be very expensive and rather gross tasting for the babies. She encouraged me to push forward as long as I possibly can for the best of my child.

I honestly couldn’t care less about the cost of the formula.  But being told that my baby might not do as well on prescription formula?  That’s all I needed to hear.

Over the past month or so, Kaitlyn’s dairy intolerance has been lessening, I believe.  I’ve had one or two foods (very randomly) with dairy in them with no reaction from her.  I also occasionally supplement a couple of ounces of formula here or there when I need to.  (I read that formulas with hydrolyzed dairy proteins tend to be more easily digested by babies with intolerances, and – so far – Kaitlyn has done fine on a bit of Earth’s Best sensitive formula).

The reason for my needing to supplement at times is that pumping every 3-4 hours (in order to keep my milk supply up) wasn’t fitting into my lifestyle.  I have a almost three year old who is constantly on the move.  He was struggling with my always needing to nurse the baby or pump, and I decided that enough was enough.  Brady needed attention and time too.

I now breastfeed only at night and bottle feed during the day.  I pump only three times a day at 8am, 1pm, and 6pm.  I honestly pump just about enough for her bottles anyway, because – well – she doesn’t eat much during the day.  Ha, ha.  My baby girl is very clever and realized that mommy will nurse her at night (as apposed to feed her the bottle, which she isn’t a fan of).  Sooooo, she wakes up to eat almost every 2 hours (9pm, midnight, 2am, 4am, and 6am)… and then picks at her bottles during the day.

Haha! #somuchtruth I used to get so scared that I was going to pass out and drop our baby!

Yes, I am very much sleep-deprived, as I haven’t had a solid night’s sleep in 6 months now.  (Because on top of waking up almost every two hours at night, I also have a toddler who usually wakes up once and needs to be put back to bed).  But I keep reminding myself that she is my last baby and that I will miss these breastfeeding moments.  (Don’t I sound so positive and upbeat here?  Trust me, I’m not always!  Sleep deprivation is no joke and is seriously a special form of torture).  🙂

We have added food into Kaitlyn’s diet now though, so she’ll automatically begin to drink less.  And maybe once she’s in her own room, she’ll automatically wake up less too.  But for now, these are the moments that will be too quickly gone.  So I really am doing my best to treasure them.

I’m continuing to take it one day at a time.  And honestly, there are good days and bad days.  I’m excited about how it has helped me lose weight (despite how much I’m eating ALL day).  I LOVE how chunky, beautiful, and healthy she is from her mama’s milk.  I treasure the way she peaks up into my eyes and then smiles while she’s drinking.  On the other hand, I wasn’t such a fan – at all – of mastitis (which is every bit as painful as they say it is).  There are days during which it’s hard to be on a restricted diet.  And pumping, even only three times a day, can be a lot of work when I’m also trying to care for a baby and a toddler.

Still, we’re marching forward!

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That’s my journey so far…  Stay tuned for the conclusion in the upcoming months.  🙂  I too am excited to see how it all ends!

 

 

 

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When Being Mommy Hurts

There’s no easy way to explain the fierce love that a woman experiences when she becomes a mom.  I was trying to explain it to Nate the other day, and he kind of just looked at me with a slightly confused (or maybe concerned) look on his face.  It just doesn’t make sense when you’re trying to explain it.  But to a mom, it’s reality.  And quite frankly, to every mom reading this, I needn’t go on.  They know what I’m talking about already.

They just get it.

I guess if I were absolutely required to express these emotions and feelings with the help of words, I would say this:  when I became a mom, it was as though a small, treasured piece of me left my body.  And that piece of my heart began to beat on its own, protected only by a beautiful, tiny person that it now lived in.

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This happened the moment I set eyes on my baby boy.  Suddenly, my own self came second.  My whole world (my whole need to protect, and nurture, and care) began to revolve around someone else.  But it didn’t feel like self-sacrifice.

Because that little someone else was a piece of me.

When Brady was in my womb, I constantly prayed over him, worrying about every little thing that could go wrong, and dreamed about the day that he was born.  Then, and only then, would I stop worrying; because then I would physically be able to hold my perfect baby boy in my arms.  Then I could physically protect him with my super-human, mommy strength  and always know that he was okay.  Because I would make sure that he was okay.

But once he was born, I quickly realized that my womb had been a safer place than this world we call home could ever be.  At least then I could carry him in perfect warmth and protection.  At least there, no hurtful words or angry bullies or harmful environments could touch him.  He was safe inside his mommy, soothed to sleep by the sound of my voice and rocking of my movements.

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But suddenly, he was living in this often hurtful, cruel world.  Suddenly, that small piece of me was detached and wasn’t always with me.  Suddenly, I was forced to sometimes leave that piece of my heart with someone else and to trust that he was being cared for the way that I would care for him.

It’s terrifying.  Absolutely terrifying.

My little guy is only two, but there have already been moments that have made me want to whisk him away to a safe place where nothing hurtful can ever touch him.  Kids have already been mean…  He has already faced challenges that made me want to swoop in and solve a problem that he needs to solve himself.  He has learned that sometimes life hurts.

But he is still so sweet and innocent.  Still such a baby.

As he grows, I will have to learn to slowly let go.  To trust that I raised him to be confident, even when the bullies taunt.  To know that God will continue to guide him, even when he isn’t snuggled in my arms for a Bible story.  I will have to be strong enough to let him take flight on his own, knowing that I taught him right from wrong.

As a mom, I look back on my own life with a new sense of respect for everything my parents faced, from letting me cry when my first job overwhelmed me to letting me travel thousands of miles away from home for college.  They knew that fire makes gold burn only brighter.  They knew that those hard moments were only molding me into a stronger, bolder, more confident woman.  They knew that quitting wasn’t an option, and so they guided me and stood with me.  But they didn’t hide me.

They held my hand and let me step out, so that I could learn to shine.

I’ve already come to realize that being mommy is going to hurt sometimes.  Because that little someone who holds a piece of me will hurt sometimes.  And every fiber of my being will scream out to protect and shelter.  But sometimes I’ll have to let go of my baby’s hand, even if it may result in cuts and bruises.  Sometimes I’ll have to trust him to someone else’s care, so that he can learn independence.  I’ll have to watch him attempt challenges that test his endurance, patience, and will.  And sometimes, I’ll have to watch him take a leap, even if he may fall.

Because he may also be ready to fly.

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He’s only two, but I already know just how hard it will be for me to ever see my little guy struggle or hurt.  But at the same time, I also know that the hard moments only strengthen us and prepare us to be strong.  To be confident.  To be leaders.

Sometimes, it’s the tough moments that propel us to greatness and to a more meaningful life than we could have imagined.

One thing I know for sure is this…  As fiercely as I love my baby boy, there is One who loves him even more.  And so I can only raise him the best I can and then trust him into the arms of the Savior who can – and will – always be with him.

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Cupcake Dreams

I had planned to do my Q&A vlog this afternoon, in addition to writing a heart-felt blog post that has been on my heart lately.

But yesterday morning, I woke up to this.

I spent the early afternoon playing with this…

and swirling sweet buttercream frosting into this.

I turned 50 cupcakes into this for my sister-in-law’s bridal shower…

then came home after a baby-free afternoon to this.

And right now, I am soooo happy but soooo tired!  🙂  And after such a busy weekend, I am looking forward to spending a quiet afternoon at home with him.

So I’ll blog a real post soon!  Right now, I’m just living it…  🙂

 

Makin’ Time for Me

My Time

I realize that now I’ve entered the world of poopy diapers, endless laundry loads, constant cuddles, and messy spit-ups, it’s important to make time for me. I need to make sure that I’m being refreshed every so often, especially since the role of mommy is 24/7.  Just this morning, Brady decided to make it a triple-whammy kind of day, presenting me with explosive poop, excessive spit-up, and a nice warm squirt of pee… all within the time frame of roughly 30 minutes.  I realized, as I was scrambling to cover the pee fountain, that I was really tired.  It’s as though 3 months of no sleep decided to suddenly catch up with me, and I went from tired to oh-my-goodness-give-me-the-largest-coffee-ever-before-I-die-of-exhaustion.

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So Me-Time…  I think I need to squeeze some of that back into my life.  AND, for the record, listening to Taylor Swift while folding laundry doesn’t count!  😉

That being said, I’m not yet sure what ‘me-time’ is even going to look like. These days, finding the time to do a quick makeup job in the morning is about as close as I get; and considering how rushed it is, I’d hardly call it refreshing. 😉

Anyway, I started to put some thought into what I might consider ‘me time’ for a new mama…  It was tough at first, because I couldn’t think past ‘take a bath’ or ‘nap’.  😉  But I soon realized that I just really, REALLY want to make time for some creative outlets that make me feel like myself.  Quite frankly, taking care of Brady makes me the happiest mommy in the world. It really does… He makes my heart melt every single day. But still, we all need those moments during which we do something for ourselves. Those moments that fill us back up and that challenge us creatively. Or those moments that leave us feeling rested and pampered.

My sister came over to visit a few days ago and presented me with a photography challenge: to come up with a theme-of-the-week for the rest of the year and to try to capture images that fell into that theme. Seeing as how photography is a passion of mine (although I still have so much learning to do in regards to it), I instantly jumped on board.

This is perfect! Photography is something that I can do while Brady is little and to meet a weekly theme is most definitely doable. It will challenge me without being too much. And it’s a way for me to keep my creative juices flowing without taking too much away from my mommy time.

I’m still working on some more potential ways that I can slip me-time into my busy schedule… (Some other ideas of mine consist of exercising, running occasional 5k’s with friends, writing, reading, and volunteering). Ooh, and my friend Wendy and I both signed up for a cake decorating class that starts next week!!!

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But back to photography…  I’m excited about sharing the photo’s with all of you! 🙂 Each week, I’ll post the picture(s) I took, and I’ll post the following week’s theme. That way, any of you photography lovers can join along! (If you do decide to take pictures that follow along with the theme, send me the link to your blog post so that I can check out your works of art)!

Ready…set… SMILE! 🙂

Whether or not you’re a mom, how do you add me-time into your busy life?

The Theme for the week of March 1st is ‘HOMEMADE’. Who wants to take part in next week’s photo challenge?

 

A 24/7 Job!

I’ve had so many posts that I’ve wanted to write this week… but I just honestly have not had one free moment.  🙂  Baby Brady is in a cluster-feeding stage and is eating every hour.  And since I’m breastfeeding, that means I’m the one who has to feed him every 60 minutes (even over-night), before I change his diaper (with lots of diaper-changing support from the hubby), burp him, settle him down a bit… and then do it again.  (Settling him down for rest isn’t very easy these days either, because he has a very gassy tummy and a bit of acid reflux, poor guy).

I honestly had no idea that someone could function on so little sleep.  Last night, I opened my eyes when he cried, and I was so exhausted that I saw double for a moment.  Wait, why are there two babies??  

And yet, at the same time, I had no idea that someone could be so happy.  🙂

I have my moments when I feel a bit overwhelmed or just a little too tired.  I cry almost once every day thanks to hormones-gone-wild.  But then I look at his precious little face, and I realize that there is nothing else I would rather do!  Someday, I’ll miss these moments of snuggling with a squishy little baby who loves nothing more than to sleep on my chest and nuzzle his soft head under my chin.  So I am doing my absolute best to embrace every single moment…

Because I love him so much that sometimes I think my heart could burst!

Hopefully I’ll have some posts up and running next week.  But for now, here are some pics I took of my cutie-patootie!  At two weeks old, he already has a smile that melts my heart (which comes out when he hears his mommy or daddy’s voice), and he’s so strong that he’s already holding up his head by himself.  He loves Christmas lights, his pacifier, and fleece jammies. 🙂

 

Sigh…  I have fallen in love all over again!

 

 

Thank Goodness for Google!

Because the doctors kept commenting on how well I was doing and how my C-section had been a textbook procedure(meaning it went exactly how it should without any complications or challenges), I started to drop hints that I really wanted to go home early.  Okay, fine, they were a bit more blatant than hints.  More like, “Gee, I’m feeling pretty good.  I wish I could go home today!”  😉

Although I had pain at the incision site and still felt weak, pain meds helped to take the edge off; and I was able to get around quite well.  Quite frankly, after only two full days in the hospital, I was more than ready to leave behind the cafeteria food and lack of privacy.  Because Brady had been born so late on a Tuesday night, the hospital assured me that I could stay as long as Sunday, but I made it known that I really wanted to go home on Friday… as long as the doctor felt it would be safe for me and Brady.  And much to my relief, after one final exam that morning, the hospital staff agreed that I could be discharged by noon that day.

I think that both Nate and I breathed a huge sigh of relief when we walked into our home with Brady.  Nate walked me in first, making sure I didn’t trip on the driveway, which was covered with a thin layer of ice.  (Thanks to my dad, the driveway had been shoveled clear, however, so Nate didn’t have to worry about snow removal once we got home).  Then Nate ran back to the Jeep to grab our baby and carefully carried him into the house for the first time ever.  We looked at each other over the top of the carseat and took a deep breath.

We were parents and now we were on our own.  No more doctors and nurses down the hall to call whenever a question arose.  That’s when reality really sets in, if it hasn’t already.  And as you can imagine, a few things are bound to happen that will shake up a new mommy and daddy’s confidence.

We were home less than an hour, when I heard Nate yelling in a slight panic.  I was just feet away, unpacking my hospital bag, and I rushed over to him as quickly as I possibly could.  He was standing by the changing table, where a very naked Brady was lying… and peeing a nice arch of urine across the room.  Yes, our baby boy hadn’t wasted any time in christening his new home or his daddy.  😉

By the time the second hour had passed, we were on the phone with the hospital to discuss a few questions.  They had answers, thank goodness.

And that night, just before bed, Nate and I discovered that Brady despised his sleeper / bouncer, which was supposed to act as Brady’s bassinet, while he slept in our room for the first couple of months.  His long frame was kind of hunched over in an uncomfortable way when we put him in it, and he fussed until we took him out.  And his crib – now put together in the nursery – wouldn’t fit through the nursery door, so we didn’t have the option of dragging that to our bedroom.  Desperate times called for desperate measures, and we went so far as to see if a blanket-lined hamper would work as a makeshift bassinet for one night.  (It’s not necessarily an idea that I’m proud of, but – like I said – desperate times and all…  It was late, and the three of us were quickly hitting over-tired status).  Thankfully, we discovered that Brady did love his swing, and he slept in it that night, all swaddled and cozy.

Actually, he has slept in it every night since then.  As I said, he loves it…  And it’s nice for the nights that he’s fussy and likes to be rocked to sleep.

Thankfully, we all slept pretty well that first night.  Brady woke up quite often to eat, but falling back asleep after he fed wasn’t an issue for either of us.  And Saturday was a new day…

Nate and I discovered that even though we were new to this parenting thing, a mommy and daddy intuition helped to guide us more often than not.  We just kind of sensed what he needed.  We sometimes just knew what to do.  And – as Nate likes to say – when there were moments that left us clueless, “Thank goodness for Google!”  🙂

Our Thanksgiving – 2014

Seeing as how there was a snowstorm on his due date, Nate and I really appreciated the fact that Brady was born a day early.  By the time the snow swirled in, Brady was held warmly in our arms, and we were safely recuperating in the hospital’s Delivery Ward.  From my hospital bed, I could watch the snow blow against the window and pile up outside.  And since it was the first day after my C-section, I appreciated the quiet that the storm had brought with it.

Because up until that point, it somehow hadn’t dawned on me that a C-section really is major abdominal surgery.  😉  By the late morning hours of my first day in recovery, I was insistent that I wanted to get up and move around a bit.  The nurses encouraged my movement but insisted on staying by my side, as I ever-so-carefully swung my legs over the side of the bed and stood up for the first time.  I thank God for the motherly nurse who was by my side that day.  She caught me when I almost fell… twice.  She helped me clean up, when I bled.  And she chatted casually with me as though it were perfectly normal to have a conversation with someone while they were being sponge-bathed or having a catheter inserted. 

Gosh, I am REALLY thankful for her!  Everytime I tried to apologize for my inability to care for myself, she would have none of it.  I don’t know how she did it, but she somehow kept me from feeling crazy self-conscious.  Instead, she praised my small triumphs, like the first time I walked without assistance or even the time that I learned how to sit up by myself (thanks to the help of the electronic bed).  Because trust me, sitting up is nearly impossible when your abdominal muscles have been sliced into the day before. 

So, yes, recovering from the C-section was definitely a lot more intense than I had expected.  But at the same time, by day two, I was moving around quite well and had been allowed to shower.  (It’s amazing what clean hair and a quick makeup job can do for a woman)!  The doctor who came in that morning to check on me said that he had never seen someone recover so quickly.  So even if I felt as though I was taking baby steps, apparently I was recuperating a lot faster than most women do.  Hey, I’ll count my blessings!

It worked out well for me, because day two was Thanksgiving.  🙂

My parents arrived late afternoon, a few hours after Nate’s family had come to meet little Brady, and they were possibility giddy to meet their first grandchild.

And I was possibility giddy for him to meet them.

It’s amazing how our family now has another member…  And how, even though he had only been a part of our family for two days, we now couldn’t imagine life without him.  Brady was very much embraced and loved from the very beginning!

That night, Nate and I swaddled Brady and laid him all comfy-cozy in his bassinet to sleep.  And while the cold wind blew outside, we sat down at our little table by the window and ate the Thanksgiving dinner my mom had brought for us.  It was actually very romantic.  And even though it was very different than the Thanksgivings we had celebrated in the past, it was special in a way that we’ll never forget.  Because it was our first Thanksgiving spent with our precious little son.

And if anyone had looked in from the snowy outside and caught sight of me and Nate – smiling and dreaming over our plates of turkey and stuffing – I’m sure they would have noticed that our window glowed warmer and brighter than any of the others.  Because you can’t get much happier – or more thankful – than we were that night!  🙂