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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#MOMLIFE (Part 1 of 3)

My son is 2 1/2 years old, and my beautiful baby girl has just reached one month.  So between the two of them, they don’t speak very much, except for awkward sentences and vocalizations along the lines of “Is me all wet?” and “Waaaaaaaahh!”  But despite the lack of an extensive English vocabulary, I’m fairly certain that these two are already communicating…

It’s as if they plan their hysterical, break-mommy’s-heart, tear-filled meltdowns to coincide with the other’s.  It’s like they know that I’m outnumbered.

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Oh, you’re going to hysterically burst into tears, demanding milk from Mama, at a quarter past three?  Great, that works for me too!  I’ll bash my big toe in around then…

It always happens all at once.

Just the other day, I was sitting on the living room floor and pumping breastmilk while attempting to cradle my screaming baby girl.  (If you’ve never tried holding a baby against your chest while pumping, then you totally should.  It’s a riot).   And since I had thought it would be a good idea to bring my toddler’s highchair into the TV room to watch cartoons while I pumped, baked beans were raining down on my head… on the newborn’s head… and on the newly installed carpet.

You know, because I had thought that it was a good idea to feed the stickiest meal ever to my tantrum-throwing toddler… during a part of the day when I couldn’t easily get to him…. all while my baby girl was uncomfortable, screaming, and desperate to be held.  (Come to think of it, purchasing new carpet months before the arrival of a newborn probably wasn’t the smartest decision we’ve ever made either).

You live and you learn, am I right?

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But there I was, once again, surrounded by complete chaos; because my littles decided to impeccably plan their need for attention.  Brady needed to be held and shown love.  Kaitlyn needed to be held upright and secure to help her through a painful acid reflux episode.  ‘The girls’ needed to be pumped like two hours ago.  Oh, yeah, and the cats also decided that now would be a great time to sit at my feet and beg earnestly for their lunch.

All…at…once…

And granted, no one is going to die or be injured if they’re left to cry for awhile longer.  But it just seems to happen a little more frequently than I’m comfortable with, and – quite frankly – it breaks my heart.  I’m left having to choose.  Who do I comfort first?  Who do I disappoint?

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Who has to sit in the background while Mommy tends to the other child first?

And the more I ponder that in my head (at a rapidly fast pace), the more my anxiety levels go up.  The more my mommy guilt shoots through the roof.  The more I somehow blame myself for not being able to properly diffuse the situation.

Because I’m a mom…  So obviously, I’m supposed to be able to split myself into two mommy blobs and handle both problems at once.  (Which, for the record, wouldn’t be necessary if my kiddo’s didn’t somehow communicate and sync their schedules so perfectly).

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(…to be continued)  🙂

 

 

 

Q & A!

Hey Guys!!

Some of you might remember that I did a Q & A vlog when Brady was a newborn, and I answered some of your questions about life as a new mom.   I thought it might be fun to do another one, since now I’m new to being the mom of two!  🙂

If I get enough questions, I’ll do another vlog.  And if I only get one or two, then I’ll probably answer them in blog format.  Either is totally great!

I just thought I’d give you all the option of asking any questions you might have.  You can ask about anything, right down to what my favorite food is right now.  LOL!  Anything goes!!

You can post the question below OR you can email it to me at:  nicole_leb@hotmail.com.  (If emailing, just include the header “Just Live It Q & A.”  Or something like that, so I’ll know what it’s for).

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!!

Love, Nicole

That’s Me

I Am That Momma

I was the last of my friends to get bitten by the bug my bestie Ashley refers to as ‘Baby Rabies’. You know the one… The ‘fever’ that leaves you ‘oohing’ over every newborn and dreaming of tiny little onesies. While my girlfriends were all eagerly dreaming of the day they would become mommies, I was busy mapping out my career.

Life was good, and I didn’t feel that there was anything missing… So while I knew that I wanted to start a family one day with my husband, I also knew that I wasn’t in any hurry. After having worked so hard for a college degree, I felt that I wanted to reap the benefits and spend some time in the work-force. (I also was really focused on traveling AND paying off bills, and my job paid pretty well so that I was able to do both).

(My Hawaii trip was already 2 years ago now.  Oh, how I miss that beautiful island)!

My friends who already had babies didn’t quite understand my hesitation, assuring me that there was no love like a mother’s love. No job like being a mom.   But they also respected my choices and accepted the fact that – in the grand scheme of things – we’re all different. We all have different goals, and dreams, and passions. So they supported me in my career right up until the day that I quit my job in the hopes to start a family. (At which point they all erupted into cheers of eager excitement that their friend had finally come around). 😉

(Me and a few of my friends on the morning of our first 5k.  I can’t believe this was almost 3 years ago now)!

Now I have no regrets over the path that I chose. We’re all built differently, and I truly believe that I needed to work – and to work hard – in order to reach a certain fulfillment within me. I needed to prove to myself that I could advance and that I could tackle – and conquer – a challenging job placed before me. I’m proud of what I achieved those 7 years as an Accounts Receivable Specialist, even if it was a stressful job most days. I also really appreciate the opportunities I had to help pay off our debt (down to just the house and one vehicle), as well as provide us with abilities to travel together.

That being said, I now understand where my friends were coming from when they encouraged me to start a family sooner rather than later…

And what does surprise me, now that my baby is three months old (as of today), is that I have become one of ‘those’ moms…

Baby Brady is allowed in bed with me and Nate. I was going to be a modern mom who followed the ‘rules’ down to the letter, and all the latest books and articles say to never let your child in bed with you. It only makes sleep training more difficult if baby knows that mommy and daddy’s bed is a comfortable alternative to the crib. But when your baby is screaming bloody murder from stomach gas and the only thing that calms him down is a cuddle in bed – well – all rules are thrown out the window. (And… when you’re a breastfeeding mom and your baby is waking up every 2 hours to eat, you kind of come up with your own, comfortable system. And nothing is more comfortable than bed at 3am). So, yeah, I’m one of ‘those’ moms.

I’m excited about baby supplies. I used to see them as nothing more than practical things, while I’m now obsessed with researching the latest gadgets and gizmo’s. It’s fun. I’m slightly obsessed. And it’s turning me into one of ‘those’ moms.

I’m planning to join a mommy / baby play-time group. A woman at my church asked me if I would be interested in taking part in one, should she decide to start such a group. I was giddy at the idea of meeting other new moms and letting our babies play together. Yes, I am SO becoming one of ‘those’ moms.

I wear my baby. I was never against baby wraps or carriers, but I also just didn’t see myself doing it. That was for women like my friends who had spent their entire lives wanting to be a mommy and who wanted to keep their baby close at all times. It shocks me, but I am one of ‘those’ moms. Baby and I wear our new Ergo like we’re sporting the latest fashion trend.

I have a breastmilk stash in the basement freezer. It’s probably only two day’s worth right now… But whenever I’m able to add another bag of breastmilk to the supply, I feel this unexpected sense of accomplishment and pride. I never in a million years would have thought that I’d be one of ‘those’ moms. Seriously, who am I?

My entire world revolves around one squishy, little baby; and I guess that doesn’t surprise me. Yes, I am one of ‘those’ moms.

And I wouldn’t change it for the entire world. 🙂  I love my lil’ rascal SO much!

Happy three-month birthday, Brady!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Funny Valentine

My Valentine

I love the way your diaper crinkles when you kick your legs. How your hair smells like vanilla and is fuzzy-soft like a peach after it’s been washed. How high-pitched and excited your squealing becomes, when you try to talk.

I love our morning snuggles, how you rest your chubby, dimpled hands on my shoulder as though giving me a little hug. How you lose your latch when you’re eating because you suddenly catch sight of me looking at you, so you can’t help but smile. I love how you fall asleep in my arms, knowing that you’re safe with me.

I love the little coo’s that you make when you try to talk. The way you splash your legs in glee, when it’s bathtime. And the way your forehead wrinkles, when you’re curious or staring at something intently.

I love how fast you’re growing up, yet dislike it so terribly too. I wish I could pause this moment forever, yet eagerly await each new moment as you discover something new.

I love you, my baby boy. I love you forever and ever. And you will always be me and Daddy’s valentine!

Even though it’s late, I just had to share Brady’s first Valentine’s Day.  🙂

Embracing the Crazy!

There isn’t a class that can prepare you for the crazy that comes with being a parent. Trust me… I looked for one. And all the books in the world, as helpful as they may be, only give you a guideline of what the majority of parents have gone through. If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far, it’s that every child – and therefore every parenting experience – is different.

Basically, good luck and enjoy the ride. It’s going to be a bumpy one… So you might as well throw on a pair of goggles, tighten your seatbealt, and throw up your hands in excited exhilaration. Because trust me, it’s either that or freak out and panic. And I imagine that 18+ years is a long time to live in panic mode!

It’s amazing how quickly you do start to adjust once a mini-version of yourself arrives on the scene though. I never really was a ‘baby person’ before, as I’m hardly ever around one. But only six weeks in, and I officially have Baby Rabies, as my friend Ashley likes to put it. I’m obsessed!! And my husband Nate and I have already mastered the sweeter-than-honey vocabulary known as baby-talk. (Something we always swore we’d never participate in, by the way).

In just these few short weeks, without even really trying, we have even created our own set of words along the lines of ‘binky’ and ‘lovey’. For example, to ‘Poot’ is to poop (have a bowel movement) and to toot (to pass gas) at the same time, something that Brady is particularly good at, I might add.

He is a pooting fiend!

And we also like to make up the silliest of songs, mostly because we don’t seem to actually know the words to any. We’ll be singing a tune that we thought would be familiar, only to realize that we have absolutely no idea what words come next. Even Rock-a-bye Baby tripped me up, and there’s only so many times you can sing You are my Sunshine (although that’s my favorite, and one that I hope Brady remembers me singing to him)! 🙂

So we just create random songs to melodies we know, because – in the end – Brady just likes to hear our voices.  (Or so we think…  He doesn’t know English yet, so he can’t exactly tell us either way).

Most of the time, we’re actually pretty good at coming up with sentences that rhyme and that almost make sense. Seriously, it’s too bad that there isn’t some kind of parent-singing-competition that would showcase our skills. We’d at least be finalists, gearing up to win diapers for life or something like that. But the other morning, I was rubbing the exhaustion out of my eyes as Nate changed Brady’s diapers, and I heard him singing “European, European, European” over and over again.  It was really early, and I was slightly crabby after a night of very little sleep.

So I abruptly sat up, shook my hands in frustration, and exclaimed, “Oh my goodness, why are you singing ‘European’ over and over? It’s too early for this!”

Nate looked confused a moment and then replied, “No, I’m singing ‘You’re a-peein’.”

“Oh,oops. I’m sorry,” I said apologetically. He was changing Brady’s diaper after all, so it made sense. My bad!

Yes, the craziness is real, my friends!

The other evening, Brady was screaming bloody murder, and we could tell that it wasn’t his usual “I’m in pain from the gas in my tummy” type cry. We just weren’t quite sure if it was a dirty diaper, hunger, or both that was causing him to shriek so viciously. So while Nate quickly carried the red-faced baby to the changing table to freshen his diaper, I ripped off my top to prepare to nurse him, in case he was hungry.

Seriously, I ripped off my top. Somehow, in my crazed attempt to get my shirt off as quickly as possible, my thumb tore through the fabric of my sleeve. It wasn’t even at the seam, so I’m still slightly amazed at my sudden strength. That my friends, is desperation to get your child fed and soothed. (And it was also fashion sacrilege, as it was one of my favorite striped shirts, may it rest in pieces).

So anyway, I’m sitting on the bed, staring at the ripped shirt in my hands with a slightly shocked look on my face, when I called up to Nate to look over at me. I was slightly horrified and devastated… and slightly impressed. I kind of felt like the female version of the hulk, which was sort of awesome.

Nate, however, had his own troubles, as he was wrist deep in poop… literally.

See Brady likes to poop the minute his diaper is taken off, as he seems to feel that it’s not quite as comfortable to poop in a diaper that he has already peed in. I find it slightly frustrating, but mostly hilarious. My logical, ducks-in-a-row husband, however, freaks out every time. Oftentimes, it does mean that Brady will go through two diapers at a time, as we’ll have to change him the minute we’ve finished changing him. (And as you already know, I’m sure, diapers aren’t cheap). And sometimes, Brady likes to time it just right so that he poops the minute his dirty diaper is whipped away… so that he ends up pooping on the changing table. Seriously, the kid has his timing down so perfectly, it’s almost impressive.

Anyway, Nate wasn’t going to be outsmarted this time. So when Brady started to poop before a clean diaper could be rushed under his bum, Nate decided to catch the poop in his hands.

Once I saw that happening, I knew that Nate had taken things to a whole new level of crazy, and my ripped shirt just didn’t cut it anymore, which was a little disappointing. But honestly, I’ll take a ripped shirt over poop in my hands any day, so Nate can take that prize. He was looking quite proud of himself for a moment, before Brady started to giggle uncontrollably.

To this day, we’re wondering if the clever baby had that planned all along.

We’ll never know, I suppose.

All I know is that even though it is crazy and messy and exhausting, I wouldn’t trade our lives for all the money in the world! 🙂 And THAT, my friends, is why you don’t need a class to become a good parent.

It’s all about a whole lot of unexplainable, immeasurable love… ripped shirts, poopy hands, and all! 🙂

Just a Mom

The first week of motherhood wasn’t all that difficult…  Actually, it was shockingly easy.  Brady slept most of the time, occasionally waking up to make adorable faces at us or to stare mesmerized at the Christmas tree.  (Gosh, he loves Christmas lights)!  Then I’d feed him, he’d sleepily blink his eyes a few times, and he’d fall asleep for a couple of hours.  Life was good… and practically perfect.

Then week 2 hit…

The acid reflux and gas issues seemed to hit him the moment day 14 arrived but progressively got worse throughout the week. My ever-happy baby was soon screaming in pain, his little face reddened and scrunched up in discomfort.  His cries could not be comforted, no matter how gently I rocked him.  The cramping in his belly and burning in his throat were just too much.

I cried. It broke my heart that my little baby was in so much pain, and I couldn’t make him feel better. Even though I knew it wasn’t the case, it made me feel like a failure as a mom.  I should be able to soothe him with my healing touch and to help him feel all better.

No matter how long I burped him, I couldn’t seem to get him to release the gas bubbles in his belly. And there was no instant-relief medicine in my bathroom cabinet that would help him feel better. Even a trip to the doctors didn’t give us any answers, other than the suggestion to give him gripe water and to begin a food journal (in case something that I was eating might be bothering him when I breastfeed).

There was no quick fix. Nothing to release the sharp pains that made him cry.  Finding a reason for his unhappiness (and therefore finding him relief) was all about the process of elimination.  Oh, how I wish he could talk and tell me what hurts and what I could do to make him feel better!

That’s the thing about being a mom… You want nothing more than to be able to kiss away your child’s pain. To chase away the bullies that make him cry. To scare away the nightmares and to replace them with happy dreams.

What you wouldn’t do to change places and to feel that pain instead, because nothing hurts more than to see your little one suffer.

But at the end of the day, you are ‘just’ a mom. And while – to your child – you might be superwomen and a safe place of comfort, you are also human. And as much as you long to, you can’t shield your child from the hurt and pain that he will experience along with all the joy and happiness throughout his life.  You can only raise him to be prepared for it…

You can, however, be a constant source of love in an uncertain world. You can always be there, when he needs you. Always a hand to hold, always a warm hug on a cold day, always a source of encouragement when others might not believe.

Always there.

Even now, when I can’t take away my Brady’s pain, I will let him know that his mama is here when he cries. Always.  Because sometimes, ‘just a mom’ is what a little baby needs.

“So sleep easy, my little one.  Mama will be here when you wake.  And hopefully, tomorrow will be an easier day, and you will feel better.  I love you… always.”