Thursday, December 9, 2010

My 16 Month Experience With Breastfeeding

Before R and I had even met, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed my future children. My mom was a huge inspiration since she nursed me until I was 9 months old. I also knew about all the health benefits for the baby and the extra calories it burns for the mother post partum. So when M was born, without a doubt I knew I wanted to breastfeed her right from the start.

A pregnant woman's body goes through so many changes from the point of conception, through the pregnancy, during labor, post partum, and during breastfeeding. I think that every single inch of me changed in some way at some point during it all. And just one of these many stages of change in preparing for baby is the production of colostrum. Yes I know it sounds weird and icky to a few people, but colostrum is truly a wonderful thing! In fact, when I first noticed a little bit around week 26 of my pregnancy, I texted my mom that "my boobs work!" Of course I had no idea at the time whether the colostrum would continue and turn into true breastmilk after M was born, but I had high hopes. I was already so proud of my body and natures way of providing nutrition for a baby.

Fast forward another 14 weeks and I was thrilled when my milk came in. And OH BOY did it come it! This was the most painful part for me. The first few weeks of breastfeeding were most painful when I had gone more than 2 hours between nursing or pumping. I was so very thankful that M had a great latch from the beginning, but what made it difficult for both of us was that I had a bit of an over supply. I became a bit of a squirrel {as R called me} because of the stash of breastmilk in the freezer. I was obsessed with adding to it every day.

Yes it is time consuming, yes it can be painful, yes it may restrict what you can eat, but I knew all that before I found out I was pregnant. Now it was time to face any difficulties thrown at me so that I could provide the best I could for my daughter. I took such pride in nursing her and did so on demand, thankful that I was fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home-mom and continue with this {lack of a} schedule for M.

For R, he never expressed difficulty with not having his own bonding time with her. He had his own special daddy things. I know that some fathers have a tough time with not feeding their child, but we thankfully worked things out so that he never felt left out of creating that special bond with M as well.

At 10 weeks I did hit a slump in my supply and I was devastated! I was pumping around the clock again, even getting up every two hours throughout the night. I took a couple fenugreek capsules every day with breakfast and dinner, drank mothers milk tea throughout the day, and consumed more oatmeal than anyone should. All these things definitely helped and in no time {although it seemed like forever} I had an over supply again. As much as that over supply hurt like hell, I wanted that more than the loss of breastfeeding because I wasn't willing to work on it as hard as I did. It truly involves A LOT of work! As long as you are committed to breastfeeding, no matter what your reasons are, I believe you can get through any of those difficulties and breastfeed for as long as you choose to.

When M was 6 months old, we started her on purees and she LOVED them! I knew that feeding her solids could possibly take a hit to my supply but I kept on nursing her on demand and pumping as needed to keep up my supply. If I ever felt a dip then I would restart the fenugreek, tea & oatmeal in mass consumption. Again, I was so very thankful to have reached the 6 month point! It was my main goal before M was born. Now on to 9 months. Then to 12 months!

With only a slight hiccup over Easter weekend when I ended up in the ER twice with a severe case of hives  and not knowing whether my medications were safe for breastfeeding. I nursed M for an entire year and was on cloud nine. I knew that this was a huge accomplishment and I was so very proud of myself for sticking with it no matter what was thrown at me. It was now time to decide how to introduce cows milk into M's diet and how much I desired to continue nursing. Most importantly though were what M's needs were in relation to breastfeeding.

Neither of us were ready to be done. I continued nursing her 3-5 times a day during 12 months and while we slowly introduced cows milk. I then dropped our afternoon nursing session and was mostly nursing 3 times a day when she turned 13 months old. At this time I contemplated fully weaning her. I even set a schedule for it and an end date. But I couldn't follow through. I knew that M wasn't ready yet and when I acknowledge my inner feelings about it, neither was I. The only change I made at this point was to nurse her before both nap time and bed time. Yes, at 13 months old I was still nursing her to sleep. I saw no problem with it though and ignored any articles or comments against such things. Every situation is different and nursing M to sleep after a year old was right for us.

About a month later I dropped nursing M to sleep at nap time and made sure to drink a lot of water so that I could keep my supply up just enough to nurse her just at bedtime. I knew it may not work, but I wanted to try. Neither of us were quite ready to be done. I kept nursing M at bed time up until 1 week ago.

While on vacation visiting my parents, I made the decision to end our single breastfeeding session. I knew that M was only nursing at this time for comfort and that she was no longer getting much breastmilk at all. My thought was that if I was to have our last nursing session away from home and from our beloved nursing rocking chair {which is seriously the BEST chair ever!!} that it would be easier for both of us.

Now that 1 week has gone by without breastfeeding, I am feeling good about my experience and the manner in which I ended it. At bedtime now I am cuddling and rocking M for a few minutes before putting her to bed and I do not feel as though we have lost that special bond what-so-ever. My memories of breastfeeding are happy ones and I greatly look forward to nursing future children.

Elle 26 - mom to M - 16 months old

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"Thank You, Aislinn".

 I am a mother of 3 children, ages 7, 5 and 1. When I became pregnant with our 3rd child, all I wanted to do was get the chance to nurse her.
 
 
   See, I didn't nurse our first 2 children. With our 7 year old, the hospital was understaffed and there were other mothers in labor. When they gave me our daughter I put her to my breast and she screamed and screamed every single time. So, the nurses just gave me a bottle to give her. I was only 23 and had no support from anyone. No one in my family had nursed a baby and my husband had no clue what to do, so we just accepted it and continued with formula.
   
 
 When I gave birth to our 2nd child, I was so happy to be able to try to nurse again! Again, he wouldn't latch, he wouldn't take a bottle anything. We put sugar water on my breast, nothing same with the bottle. Then they gave me a pump and I was able to pump enough for him for 3 weeks. Then my supply started to drop and I couldn't provide for him anymore, so we went to formula again.
  
 
  When I saw the double pink lines on my pregnancy test, I prayed to God to be able to nurse this baby, to not feel like I failed again. 9 months later, I met my beautiful baby girl. I was so nervous (and excited!) to try breastfeeding. I put her to me and she didn't scream like her sister, she didn't refuse me like her brother, she looked at me and just latched on! I cried with so much happiness! I think I cried every time she nursed for the first month. I began pumping after 3 weeks so my husband could assist with her feedings, at 4 months she refused her bottles, but I continued to pump. I had so much extra breast milk, that I was able to donate over 600 ounces to Mother Milk Bank of Austin.
  
 
  My baby just finished nursing, the day after she turned 1. She was nursing 5 times a day still, morning, nap and bedtime and twice on the overnight. So when she stopped, I was so shocked! I felt all postpartum again and man, did my breast hurt! But now, I can be in a room with a breastfeeding Mommy and not cry, just reminisce about how I was able to give her the best possible thing for a year and a day. Don't get me wrong, I totally miss that bond, but I know that GOD answered my prayers with her and helped me provide for premature and critically ill babies by giving my an amazing surplus of milk! I Love that I was able to nurse her, it was truly an amazing year of my life!
 
Thank you for letting me share my breastfeeding story with you!
 
 
 Brooke, 30 Mommy to Aislinn, 12.5 months
 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just Do It!



Today, I stumbled across this article entitled Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple. The article talked about all the "rules" that have been developed in recent years to help make breastfeeding easier for mother. Hold the baby this way. Move their head like this. Make sure they are latched like this. But in all reality, are the "rules" really helping to make it easier for mothers?

I knew that I wanted to breastfed from day 1 of finding out I was pregnant. I read lots of books on breastfeeding and went to a breastfeeding class. I felt prepared. I was ready to go. BUT then reality hit. When I tried to breastfed my newborn son, in the back of my head, I couldn't get out all the "rules" that I had read about and heard from other mothers. I was getting "rules" thrown at me left and right from nurses and lactation consultants who tried to help.

Kolt and I had our struggles starting out. But I wonder how much of it could have been avoided if I had simply trusted my motherly instinct and breastfed. You see, all our troubles and hardship stopped when one nurse said this, "Stop everything else. Just put him to the breast, and let him breastfeed."

Mothers are made to breastfed. God gave our bodies the ability to nourish a life inside our womb for 9 months and then outside. Perhaps if we forgot all the "rules", relaxed, and just did it, more mother's would be successful at breastfeeding. I am so lucky and blessed to have been able to provide such wonderful nutrition for my son for 11 months and counting!


Marah 23, Mom to Kolt, 11 months

blog: Diary of a Devil Dog Wife
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

October 20th, 2010

  • Just over 2 years since we found out we were expecting the sweetest squishiest baby ever.
  • 16.5 Months since we had said Squishy Baby.
  • 500+ days of our lives.
  • Easily over 3000 Nursing sessions.
  • Hundreds of hours of bonding time.
  • One formally 10lb 2 oz baby, Now a healthy 26+lb 33inch Toddler.
  • Cracked nipples.
  • Un-totaled amounts spent on nipple creams, nursing bras, breast pads and other breastfeeding paraphernalia.
  • Pinch marks.
  • A million sweet smiles hidden sweetly behind my breast.
  • 14 teeth.
  • A few bite incidents.
  • Countless public boob flashes.
  • A place where sleep kissed both of our eyelids from time to time.
  • Sweet Hands on Mama's Face.
  • Soft baby skin for me to rub with love.
  • A lot of hard work.
  • A lot of love.
  • An end of a chapter.
  • A healthy beginning.
  • A sad and sweet moment for me.
  • A reminder of Roots and Wings.
My son has been fighting his only nursing session of the day. The past few weeks, nursing has only been frustrating for him, and work for me. Last night I nursed for the last time. I am thrilled to have made it this long. I am counting my blessings. I am sad it ended this way. I always thought it would be him nursing, gazing into my eyes, me knowing it was our last time nursing. A tear or two. A sweet end to a rough beginning.

Instead I knew it was the right thing to do. My son self-weaned himself. I had gotten him to a point where he was ready to be done. I just thought it would last longer, and end different. I am kind of numb to it right now. Despite the fact that my son was ready, my breasts are still feeling full having not nursed in over 24 hours. I knew being a mother would be filled with ups and downs, but I never realized it you could be filled with such sorrow at the same time as you are proud to have made it this long.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I Can't Believe What I Am Hearing!!

I love breastfeeding. While I try to keep an open mind about the many different opinions regarding the matter, I get highly discouraged when I hear someone being negative about breastfeeding. I always knew I would breastfeed. I had a great experience with my first child. I did research, I learned the laws in different states, I mentally prepared myself to defend my position on breastfeeding knowing not everyone felt the way I did about the matter. I nursed my first baby for 17 months, until I had complications with my second pregnancy. Who knows how long I would have nursed him if I didn't have to stop.

Luckily, in those 17 months I never had to defend my position on my choice of nutrition for my child. (Though I did have one horrible, degrading, infuriating, instance during jury duty when the judge and everyone in the courtroom laughed at me when I asked if the breaks would be sufficient enough for me to pump for my 3 1/2 month old....but, that's a whole other story!)

My second child is just under 13 months old and while I have had the mental preparation to defend breastfeeding for the last 3 years, I began to think I would probably not have to do so. How wrong I was!

About a week ago I came down with a nasty little cold, which turned into a sinus infection. I tried several things at home to kick it, but the pain was becoming unbearable. I don't have time to take a day off work to make an appointment at a doctor, so I decided to go to a quick care after work one day. During the appointment the doctor walks in the room, does his very quick look over and sits down to write the prescription.

Typing on his notepad, the doctor asks if any antibiotics are not good for me.

I respond by saying, "No, as long as they are safe while nursing."

He stops typing, says, "Oh," pauses for a moment and then asks how old my baby is.

"He's one. Well, close to 13 months, so one."

"He's one?"

"Yes."

"How often does he nurse?"

"Well, it really depends on his mood...."

Cutting me off he says, "It's time to stop."

Taken aback I slowly say, "No...it's not."

The doctor says pointedly, without looking at me, "He is one. It's time to stop."

Now, I hate confrontation....like HATE with a capital H.A.T.E! But, I was shocked at this! A DOCTOR is telling me I should NOT breastfeed longer than one year? What right does he have? Out of anyone, a doctor should know the benefits of breastfeeding. Obviously not this one!
My stomach started twisting as I fervently said, "NO! It's NOT!"

He stops typing again, looks at me with a look that seems to say, "is she seriously talking back to me?" while he asks, "It's not?"

Here it is...the moment I have been prepared for for the last 3 years..."No. I enjoy it, he enjoys it, and it is still nutritionally healthy for him." Pause to keep my composure. "Besides, the World Health Organization recommends until 2. And the world average is 4."

I stopped right there, but oh how there were so many other things I could have put out there. It was so hard to bite my tongue.

Under his breath I can hear him mumble, "Really."

As though I'm making these random statistics up! He then asks how many children I have. I tell him two. I held my tongue because I wanted so badly to tell him off! I wanted to tell him how long I nursed my first son and how that wasn't even long enough. How I plan to nurse this little one for longer than the first. I wanted to say so much more, but I didn't.

I suppose it's good I stopped when I did, because as it was, I really ticked him off. He didn't look at me for the rest of the very short appointment. When he was finished typing out the prescriptions he said, still without looking at me, "I'll be back with your prescriptions." A moment later, he walks back in, hands me two pieces of paper, says, "Here they are," and walks out. No "hope you feel better," "thanks for coming in," "take care".....nothing! How rude.

I walked out of the office, baffled by what had just happened, and called my best friend. Who was just as shocked and angry as I was. Before heading over to the pharmacy, I mentioned I thought I should talk to the pharmacist just to make sure all of the prescriptions were safe. And, it's a darn good thing I did. Because, here's the kicker to it all.....the doctor gave me a prescription that is in a class not recommended for breastfeeding mothers. Oh, but wait for it....the medicine was for something I didn't even need! I have a SINUS INFECTION! You know, nasty, thick, yellow, mucus with intense pressure in all sinus cavities that gets no relief? Sure enough, the prescription I didn't need was for allergies. Which, let me remind you, I am NOT suffering from during this fall season. Can someone with a doctorate degree really be so.... [trying to pick a nicer word] idiotic?

You know, even through the anger I was feeling, I'm almost glad this happened. It made me feel stronger, a little taller, and in a way, accomplished. I can stand up for what I believe.

I felt proud, too. Not just that I could stand up to someone with differing opinions than my own, but that I was making the best choice for my child. I felt proud to know I was a part of this amazing group of women who choose breastfeeding. I felt proud to know that there were a huge group of women out there that would back me up. I felt proud to know there were women who would probably be just as angry, or even more so, than I in this situation. And it felt really good to know there were places I could go to get support and backup on my position on breastfeeding.

Probably, nothing will ever come of this experience for that doctor. But, I hope he does a little more research on breastfeeding and realizes he was wrong. I hope he never puts another woman in the position he put me in. We should never have to defend our breastfeeding to anyone, but especial never to a doctor. Yet, even though we shouldn't ever have to, we do. And I suppose, that's why I felt I had to prepare myself with a defense three years ago when I first started breastfeeding, and why I'll do my best to be prepared to do it again. Because, if I have to, I will. Because, for me and my children, I have decided that regardless of what anyone else has to say, breast IS best.

~Cami 27, mom to CJ 3 and Caed 13mo

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Agony and Bliss

Let me just start by saying I think this blog is brilliant. I truly hope that every woman who finds it shares it with someone because breastfeeding might just be one of the hardest things a woman will ever do.

At 37 weeks of my first pregnancy, my water broke. We rushed to the hospital and I was immediately put on antibiotics (I was group B strep positive) and pitocin to induce labor. Just 8 hours later, I was holding my beautiful baby boy. There were no complications and he latched on like a pro. The nurses were amazed that everything came so naturally for my son and me and that nursing was so easy.

Within a week, I had to bite my lip to keep from screaming in pain every time he latched on. His latch was proper, and he was staying latched right throughout the nursing session, but my nipples were cracked, bleeding and pain was shooting through my breasts during and after every feeding. After doing hours of research online, I went to a lactation consultant who suggested either prescription medication or gentian violet for thrush.

Thrush is a yeast infection. Some of the symptoms are pain in the nipples, cracked or bleeding nipples, burning during or after nursing in the breasts, and shooting pain during and after nursing. The symptoms may be cyclical with periods of no pain (for me it was a week on and a week off of pain). If you have any of these symptoms, please for your own sake look into thrush! Especially if you were put on antibiotics during labor, which throw off your body’s natural balance of good and bad bacteria and allows yeast to grow, look into the possibility of thrush.

Being poor college students at the time, I decided to try gentian violet. If you haven’t ever used it, try not to…it’s a mess. You have to rub it on your breasts and throughout the baby’s mouth after every feeding, and it stains anything it touches. I still have a purple towel from this experience. After over a week there was no improvement.

My sister in law knew my pain and suggested going to the doctor, who gave my nystatin cream. This did not work either. Nor did the oral medication. Nor did the natural treatments found online. Finally, I called the doctor in tears after another painful nursing session and the nurse suggested Newman’s Ointment. Because my pain was cyclical, giving me periods of respite from my pain, I kept thinking it was done, so I would press on. After literally months of struggling with thrush and the associated pain, I found relief…Newman’s Ointment did the trick.

The joy I was finally able to feel in nursing my child was amazing! I went on to nurse for a year before I chose to wean him. Was it worth all the pain? Yes, in the end, for me the benefits of breastfeeding far outweighed the negative aspects. Is it the same for other mothers, no. Breastfeeding is a very personal choice!

Know your options…know your possibilities. If nothing else, ask other mothers. Ask if they have had this problem. Nursing is still such a controversial issue that it’s not really talked about unless someone brings it up. You have to ask to learn! If you have struggled with nursing, there is no need to be ashamed! Help other mothers get through their pain and struggles by sharing your story!

If you would like to read more of my story, please join me over at What I Live For!

I love your blog! Thank you so much for providing a place to spread the word about breastfeeding. No one tells you how hard it might be. No one tells you of the pain, the insecurity, the embarrassment! Thank you for telling others!

Judy, 24, K 3 and C 18 months.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Why Breastfeeding was the Best Choice for Us


Today I realized that we may be closer to the end of breastfeeding then I thought. While I have a million reasons to be sad about that, I am only feeling happiness. My son is 15.5 months old now, and considering our beginning to breastfeeding, I am thrilled to have made it this long. If you haven’t already done so, please check out my story about beginning breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding wasn’t easy for me, and I realize there are many situations when breastfeeding isn’t possible. Whatever your choice for not doing it, I would never judge you. My theory on parenting choices is two fold – Your baby, your body, your choice. And Happy Momma = Happy Baby. Please know this is not a post about formula vs. breastfeeding. This post is about me, and my baby and our choice to breastfeed. For me, Breastfeeding was the route I wanted to go, and best for both Squish and Me.

There are many benefits of breastfeeding. Here are the ones that have made breastfeeding such an amazing experience for us.

  1. The bonding time was/is indescribable. The first time he smiled at me while nursing, or the way he would touch my face, play with my hair, or simply just stare at me. The softness of his skin and hair that I got to stroke as he ate in the wee hours of the morning. Those are moments I would not trade for anything in the world.
  2. I suffered from Migraines prior to getting pregnant. Once I got pregnant my migraines all but disappeared. I feared after I had Squish they would return, but they didn’t (well I have had 3-4 since getting pregnant, but not nearly as severe or often as they used to be.) When I asked my OB about it, she told me it was the chemicals released during pregnancy and by breastfeeding those chemicals continued to keep my migraines at bay.
  3. While I didn’t lose my baby weight right away, I did lose all of it in a decent amount of time, with not dieting. I did start to change my eating habits after I had lost the baby weight, but the initial lose I attribute to breastfeeding.
  4. I love the convenience of breastfeeding. Once I got comfortable with it, and figured out what worked for us, I never looked back. Not to mention the money saved.
  5. For me, breastfeeding didn’t keep illness at bay. Squish was sick plenty. But we never did have any ear infection issues, and when he was sick I knew that I could always turn to breastfeeding as a source of comfort.
  6. Finally, (well there are many more things I loved about breastfeeding, and things that made it clear it was the best choice for us) but I loved that for 7 months my Squishy thrived on only my breast milk. He was constantly at the top of the growth charts. There was a real sense of accomplishment knowing I was able to satisfy my son’s nutritional needs.

While I don’t think breastfeeding for us will end tomorrow, or next week, I can tell that the end is close. Squish is down to 2 nursing sessions a day. One in the am, and one before bed, and honestly he could easily drop the bedtime nursing. I am so glad I stuck it out, and pushed through the hard times in the beginning. The moments I nursed my son are moments that will be with me forever.

the Baby Store PLUS September Breastfeeding Celebration

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You can also find me on my family blog at Family and Life in Las Vegas.

Monday, September 6, 2010

My “Baby Nurse” Story

“Baby Need Nurse” - one of the most common phrases heard throughout our house. Maggie, 3, and Emma, 2, are some of the biggest fans of nursing I know. Every time Baby Zylie (Zion), 5 months, cries or even whines or whimpers, they come to tell me that “baby need nurse”. Here’s my tale of breastfeeding continually for 4 years.

I married my husband, Jeremy, while I was 24 and he was 29. We were blessed to get pregnant either on our honeymoon or a few short days afterward. I never gave much thought to how I would feed the baby. I just took it for granted that I would breastfeed since it was what my mom had done and it was healthy and cheap. (We do like cheap around here.) Come delivery day, Oct 1, 2006, everything went well, not as natural as I had hoped but good nonetheless. Maggie nursed well from day one and never had any problems. When my milk came in I was slightly engorged but that subsided and other than a few leaking problems there was never any problem with breastfeeding. She nursed every 2 to 2 1/2 hours (including nights) almost until she was 12 months old. *Sigh* That’s a lot of nursing.

We found out that we were pregnant with blessing #2 when Maggie was 13 months old. I had had one cycle prior to pregnancy and yes were trying and had been since Maggie was a few months old. We want LOTS of children. I decided not to wean since she was still nursing so often. I was blessed to never have any breast pain or discomfort. I never noticed a change in milk, supply or type, throughout the entire pregnancy. Maggie never nursed any different. We did night wean her during the pregnancy so I could get some much needed rest. With baby #2 we decided to have a homebirth. For several reasons but one being that I had never been away from Maggie and she was still nursing and I could go on and on with others reasons.

Emma was born June 28, 2008 at home in a kiddie pool with no power during an electric storm in the “veil” with a head full of red hair. It was truly amazing. Total testimony to the way God intended birth to be. She nursed to sleep shortly after delivery and then Maggie came and snuggled in the bed with us and nursed to sleep as well. It was one of the most fulfilling moments in my life. She weighed 8 pounds and 8 ounces and was 22 inches long. One of the best things about nursing a toddler after having just given birth is that there is never (or at least not for me) a time of engorgement. It was wonderful. We never skipped a beat. Emma gained weight just fine throughout our time of tandem nursing. Maggie self weaned when Emma was 3 months which means Maggie would have been right at 2. There were never any complications while nursing Emma.

We found out we were pregnant with blessing #3 when Emma was 13 months old (sound familiar) and like before I had had one cycle and yes we were desperately trying to get pregnant. Just like before I never noticed a change nor did Emma have any reactions. This time we were planning a home-birth but I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 30 weeks so we decided to use a midwife at a local doctor’s office who does hospital births. She was great just for the record. The plan was to just have the baby in the hospital and then come home within 24 hours. Yeah, so much for plans. My water broke at 37 weeks 2 days and I didn’t go into labor. Long story short I had to be induced (nasty nasty business, this induction stuff) Baby Zion was born weighing 7 pounds 6 ounces 21 inches long (I think) and had poor muscle tone and very immature lungs and was rushed off to the NICU where he spent the first 11 days of his life. Horrible horrible horrible. We were not able to touch him the first day and not able to hold him until he was 4 days old. I was not able to nurse him until he was 9 days old. I pumped and I pumped until the hospital frig and freezer were full and they ask me to start taking the new milk home. : ) My 21 month old made a PERFECT breast pump for the extra milk. Once I was able to nurse he did just beautiful except for when his oxygen saturation levels would plummet while he was gorging himself on milk.

Finally when little man was 11 days old we were able to bring him home. He was back up to his birth weight on the day of our departure from the NICU and quickly started gaining.....and gaining. For a period of a couple of months, he gained a POUND A WEEK. Eck. Pure breastmilk, nursing about every 2 hours. When he was about 3 months old (which is when Emma self weaned, right before her 2nd birthday) I started trying to stretch his feedings out to about every 2 1/2 to 3 hours. With this guy, I have had all kinds of pain, lumps, blisters. He’s been such a challenge even during pregnancy. Thankfully he is very laid back on this side of the womb and such a smiling happy baby.

Right now he is 5 months and weighs a whopping 21 pounds and 3 ounces. He is strictly breastfed but don’t think that there aren’t days that I battle with supplementing. He’s my first baby that will take a pacifier (thank you NICU) and he will also take a bottle (with breast milk). I must admit that it is a challenge to carry around a large baby since I myself am small boned and not very muscular.

I have loved nursing my three children. I loved nursing throughout both pregnancies. I have loved nursing two bundles at a time but should the Lord bless us with another pregnancy I do not plan to nurse throughout this pregnancy. I would like a break and I would like to wear a dress (not a skirt and top) without first thinking “how am I going to nurse in that dress”. But who knows the Lord just might change my mind. There is nothing quite like looking down into that little face (or in this case big face) while they nurse and play with your hair, knowing that you are giving that baby the very best that you have to offer.

Should you desire to see this sweet and LARGE baby boy that I speak, or the red head born in the water, or the big sister to the circus, you are welcome to come and visit us at our family blog, Ponder The Path.

~ Emily, 28, mommy to Maggie, 3 (almost 4), Emma, 2, and Zion ,5 months, and Lord willing many more to come

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Story: Nursing Through Pregnancy, Triandem Nursing, Child-Led Weaning & Milk Donation

Breastfeeding has been an AMAZING journey for me and my babies. It has offered me so much, and I feel so blessed to have had this time with my children and look forward to it with future ones. Even though I've been blessed with a massive milk supply (though I share!) and have continued nursing my babies well past toddlerhood, we've still had our share of struggles...but it's been worth every second, even in the difficult times. And while I feel like my experience has been quite easy compared to what some mothers and babies have to go through, my story is also one of the more uncommon, which often translates to less support. I don't know anyone (personally) who nurses through pregnancy. I only know one person who nurses a child over 3 years old. I don't know many people nursing 3 children. I don't know many people who pump for donation. And many of the people that I DO know seem to think that what I do is odd...sometimes they even imply that it's wrong. So the internet has been a HUGE support and encouragement to me, because this is the one place I've been able to find common ground with other breastfeeding mothers. And that is the reason I want to put my story out there as well.

My husband and I got married when I was 18 and he was 21. We wanted a baby whenever God would give us one, but it took 18 months and we had several miscarriages along the way. But during that journey I had a lot of time to "plan out" my parenting. I never gave much thought to feeding though. I remember asking my husband what he thought we should do, and he said, "You'll breastfeed, of course." LOL (He comes from a family of 6 kids where each was breastfed for at least a couple years) So that made my decision for me, no qualms about it. Clearly I wasn't very concerned either way at the time.

So when my first daughter, Miss I, was born in February 2006, we began our breastfeeding journey. I was very blessed to have it come easily and naturally for both her and I. There was that normal, toe-curling discomfort for the first week or so, but we got the hang of it. I never really had any issues while breastfeeding my daughter alone. We had a short bout of thrush at about 4 months but it cleared up only days later, and around 7 months I started to get really sore when she'd nurse for some reason (still not sure why that was), but that was about it. Pretty uneventful!

When Miss I was almost a year old, my sister-in-law had a baby girl. 2 weeks after she was born, my sister-in-law got an infection and was hospitalized for another week. God was able to use me and I went and nursed my niece since her mommy couldn't, and she wouldn't take formula. I am very grateful to have been able to provide that for her.

I got pregnant again when Miss I was 18 months old. I continued to nurse her during my pregnancy, even despite my fear of miscarrying again, though I knew God had it all under control. I chose to nightwean her during the early weeks, primarily because I was SO uncomfortable laying on my side in bed that it made for a miserable experience all night long when she wanted to nurse. It took us about 2-3 weeks but worked out well in the end. My milk turned to colostrum at 16 weeks, but there was still enough to satisfy my daughter for the rest of the pregnancy. It went pretty well until the last 6 weeks or so, at which point nursing became VERY painful. We toughed it out though, and it was a blessing in disguise because when my new baby, Miss B, was born at home, we didn't experience ANY of that "new nursling discomfort". So we just sailed smoothly into our tandem nursing experience.

Nursing my two girls went very well. They were both nursing champs, very efficient (neither one of them ever, even from birth, nursed for more than 5-10 minutes per session and emptied the breast(s) each time). Miss B, however, slept through the night (we're talking 6-8 hours at a time) a LOT during her first 5 months of life and even though most mama's would consider that awesome, I didn't feel that way! I had read so much about deep sleep and increased SIDS risk and it worried me! I wasn't quite as worried about my milk supply though, since I still had Miss I nursing, but I would still try to wake her at times in the night to see if she'd nurse, and she just had no interest. So I learned to accept it, and lo and behold she started waking again to nurse throughout the night before she hit 6 months of age.

When Miss B hit 6 months I started to pump milk for donation. I feel like that if God has given me so much milk, even more than what I "need" for my own babies, it's only right that I should make it available to other moms and babies who haven't had as much success with breastfeeding. Most people are still getting used to the idea of donated breastmilk, but to me, it's only natural that we offer up human milk first! I hadn't done much in the way of pumping before, but with a simple Avent Isis manual pump I was getting 6-7 ounces per session and after a few weeks I had quite the stash built up. It took me a while to find someone to offer it to, but eventually I found a couple local mom's who needed milk and was thrilled to be able to share it with them.

Shortly after that time, when Miss B was about 9 months, I had to have my wisdom teeth out. I wasn't concerned about how it would affect nursing, because it was a short procedure and I was able to nurse immediately prior to it and as soon as I got home from it. However, the one thing I wish I never would have done was accept the antibiotics. I am not a fan of them (at least not used as often as they are), because of how they truly do so much damage to the gut and it's colonization (and therefor having a domino effect on the rest of the body), but for some reason I opted to take them after my procedure. And that's when my first big breastfeeding struggle began. We ended up with thrush (despite me taking quality probiotics regularly even prior to the procedure). Badly. After 2 weeks I was just starting to get on top of it, but then I got an infection in one of the tooth sockets and ended up going BACK on antibiotics, despite knowing there were many natural alternatives I could have tried (I guess the desperation got to me?). Of course the thrush came back with a vengeance. It took me 3 months to get rid of it, and even though it was gone for the time being, the damage the antibiotics did has stuck with me...I've struggled with candida issues ever since. (If anyone is interested I do have loads of information and natural treatment regimens and dietary changes for candida/thrush) It was an extremely discouraging and painful time.

I got pregnant with my third child when Miss B was 13 months old. At this time she was still nursing regularly throughout the day and night, and Miss I, who was 3, was only nursing maybe once or twice a day, and sometimes she'd even skip a few days in between. Just by chance, Miss B ended up sleeping through the night (completely) one night early on, and so I just went with that and choose to use that as the beginning of our nightweaning experience. Normally I wouldn't nightwean a baby under 18 months but since she sort of started on her own (and did well continuing with it), we chose to go ahead with the process.

I ended up dealing with thrush several more times during the pregnancy. My natural treatment regimen usually cleared it up. The girls nursed well and normally the rest of the time (again my milk turned to colostrum at about 16 weeks), but once again, about 6 weeks prior to delivery, I started to get VERY sore during nursing sessions. Just like last time, I sucked it up and just dealt with the pain, hoping it would lead to another comfortable transition with a new nursling.

I ended up with a yeast infection in the last 3 days of my pregnancy. Honestly, I was terrified. Not because of the infection itself, but because I knew that, because the baby's gut is colonized during delivery through the vaginal canal, it could very likely cause my baby to have candida problems from the start, which in turn would probably mean dealing with thrush. Again. And the thought really depressed me. I treated it and just prayed that everything would be okay. My new baby BOY, Mr. C, was born in March and it was another beautiful home birth. Mr. C was a big boy...born at 9lb 10oz, 22 inches, and a 15.5" head! SO glad I was at home for his birth, as I have no doubt I would have been told I "had" to have a c-section if I was in the hospital because of how things went (and then who knows how breastfeeding would have gone for us!?!). He nursed well from the start, quick and efficient just like my girls (though I did have some longer nursing sessions with him, which were new to me!). Nursing 3 kids wasn't any more difficult than just nursing two of them, and I'm VERY glad I was still nursing Miss B as she was still fairly young when Mr. C was born and it was important that she still have that consistency. Miss I still just nursed once every 2-3 days, sometimes every day, and I was ever so thankful for my older nurslings when my milk came in and I was dealing with painful engorgement.

As I had suspected, we did end up getting thrush. I was able to treat it naturally, but it kept coming back, and eventually seemed to be cyclical. We dealt with it for about 5 months, and even more so than the last time we had it for months, it was an extremely painful, trying and discouraging time. Mr. C is now 6 months and we've only been "thrush free" for about 4 weeks, and unfortunately I have a feeling it's coming back (cyclical, remember?). I am confident that this all began with the antibiotics throwing my natural got flora out of whack, because never in my life had I dealt with these kinds of candida issues until that point. So we're on the road to healing...slowly, but surely. The most difficult thing has been knowing that if we ARE passing it back and forth (though I treat all of us, we all take probiotics regularly (thrush or no thrush), etc), it's so much harder than when just nursing ONE baby since it's harder to pinpoint and more difficult to get under control. I struggled with the decision of whether or not to wean Miss I, and possibly even Miss B, just to lessen that, but I'm SO glad I haven't. I admit I even had thoughts run through my head about weaning all three of them, even my baby Mr. C, and THAT is one of the things that scared me the most, because obviously breastfeeding is extremely important and special to me, and it had to take a LOT or discouragement to get me to that point.

Shortly after Mr. C was born, and before we started dealing with thrush, I started pumping for donation again. This time I was able to use a Medela PIS double electric pump from my cousin, and I was SHOCKED at how well that thing worked. The first time I used it I got 10 (yes TEN) ounces on ONE side (and six on the other that Mr. C had just recently nursed from)- granted, it was shortly after birth so I had loads of milk as my supply hadn't regulated, but wow. I was flabbergasted! Previously I wasn't aware that an electric pump would make that much of a difference. I was wrong. LOL I wasn't able to get more than just over 100 ounces total before the thrush took over, at which point I stopped pumping. I was so excited to have found a young mom to donate to. She was actually located at our vacation destination so we traveled with the frozen milk and dropped it off with her. It was a neat, blessed experience for me. Again, I thank God that I'm able to share what he has so abundantly blessed me with.

And here we are today. Mr. C is still nursing strong, every 2-3 hours (sometimes longer) during the day, and every 1-4 hours (depending) during the night. Miss B, at 2 years old, still nurses 2-3 times a day, sometimes less. Miss I, at 4.5 years old, is still nursing anywhere from once a day to once a week. I have to say, it's been VERY neat to watch the natural progression of child-led weaning. The circumstances that have led to where she's at today have been natural life events, not anything forceful on my part, and I can testify to the fact that they DO slow down on their own, and I know that soon I will also be able to say "they do STOP on their own." I admit it makes me sad to think about. I know we will be ready, but one of the hardest aspects of child-led weaning, for me, is knowing that we won't know that her last nursing session IS her last until hindsight, and I don't want to miss it! It's going to be a milestone for us both when that day comes, as my first baby, my first nursling, will have moved on. I'm SO grateful for the time I've had with her though. It's been absolutely precious.

A few other notes...

All of my babies have dropped over a pound of their birthweight and it takes them about 2.5-3 weeks to regain it. While according to some that might have indicated a need for supplementation, my mommy instincts knew better. It was normal for my babies (especially considering they all have my husbands lightening fast metabolism...wish I could say the same!). I'm so glad I never interfered with that. They had adequate diapers, were alert, still gaining (just slowly at first), very healthy...no reason to add anything artificial into the mix for the sake of numbers.

Cycles..oh cycles... Oddly enough, for me, it seems like more nursing equals less time away from my favorite (sarcasm intended) monthly visitor. Though that's not entirely accurate, as I don't get "normal" cycles back immediately, but with Miss I, I was nursing constantly around the clock, naturally following the "rules" of LAM (co-sleeping with baby, no pacifiers, feeding on demand, etc) and got my first period (albeit anovulatory) at 4.5 months postpartum. I was not thrilled. It wasn't until about 10 months postpartum that I actually started ovulating again, though. Then after Miss B, who nursed LESS during those first 5 months (since she slept through the night so often), but still following LAM "rules," I made it to 7 months postpartum before my first cycle. I hoped for a longer break after Mr. C (considering I'm nursing 3 kids and was pumping for a while too!) but it didn't happen...at only 3 months postpartum I had my first anovulatory period, and it's happened twice since. Despite keeping track of my temperatures and all that fun stuff (think NFP), I am at a loss as to what my body is doing this time around!

One of the hardest things (for me) that I encountered along the way over these last 4.5 years was just the negativity from some people around me. I don't live in an area where a ton of people breastfeed- at least not where it's KNOWN that people do. As I mentioned before, I definitely have never personally encountered anyone locally who tandem- or more, triandem- nurses. Or even nurses through pregnancy. I have, thankfully, met one person who nursed her children until they weaned on their own, both around 5 years old, and she has been such a blessing to me. But it seems like most people are just anxious for me to wean my babies, and are bothered that I'm nursing them past a certain age. I've never figured that one out- my babies are healthy, social, advanced, independent (as much as they need to be), and breastfeeding is doing them absolutely no harm. In fact, they BENEFIT from it. But even as confident as I am in our decision, it's still hard to hear the negativity. I just wish more people were educated on the benefits of breastfeeding (including tandem nursing and extended breastfeeding).

And so that (a novel later) is my story. I realize it's not a typical one, nor is there anything super exciting about it, but it's been my experience nonetheless, and I hope that somehow it might encourage someone else out there.

If anyone ever wants to chat about breastfeeding, or if you need any support or help dealing with thrush (which obviously, unfortunately, I have plenty of experience with), feel free to contact me on my blog (Joy Filled Frugality). I'd love to offer up anything I can!

-Brynna, 25
Mom to Miss I (4), Miss B (2), and Mr. C (6 months)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Tale of Two Babies: My Breastfeeding Journey

When I was late in my pregnancy with the Boodge, I remember standing in the shower, looking at my breasts and wondering when I would see the development of a hole to let the milk come through. I guess I envisioned my nipple taking the shape of a bottle. When I shared that with my dear mommy-mentor friend, she laughed and assured me that little holes would open up all over my nipple to let the milk through.
There was so much I didn't know about breastfeeding, but I was lucky enough to know some of the things that would get me off to a good start. I was familiar with the research that outlined the many benefits to mother and babyof extended breastfeeding. I knew that the World Health Organization, Canadian Pediatric Society, and UNICEF all recommend breastfeeding for 2 years and as long as the mother and child want to thereafter, and I wanted to do that. I knew that it may be difficult at first, so I was prepared for some struggle to get started, and was determined to persevere. And I didn't have any inhibitions about nursing in public, which helped me feel free to go anywhere and enjoy social situations with my baby.
But I had no idea how much it would mean to me and my son, and the bond we share. Nursing him as an infant, I gazed at him for hours, falling more and more in love. My ability to nourish him from my body somehow helped me feel that mothering was natural, and gave me confidence in my new role. As he grew, we reconnected at the breast several times a day and we each restored our energy and peace of mind. It was a place where we could both be still in the tremendous changes we were experiencing, and just feel our bond. I was grateful for the way it soothed him when he was upset and gave him vital nutrients, liquids, and comfort when he was sick.
I also didn't know the ways in which it would be challenging, but I expected that as with any commitment in life, it would have ups and downs. Teething and illness brought a constant need to nurse, causing me to boil inside with the frustration of having to choose whether to comfort my child even if it hurt me, or refuse and deal with a wakeful, miserable baby. Nighttime nursing eventually exhausted me, and when I became pregnant again I found I could no longer cope with waking every few hours to nurse. And the first trimester also brought shooting pains that felt like hot pokers inside my breasts, causing me to seriously question whether I could keep nursing.
I didn't know how some people would react to my nursing a toddler, especially while pregnant. Although I realized I was nursing beyond what most women do, I wasn't prepared to face questioning and judgment about a choice that seems to me to be solely between a mother and her child. I didn't know I would have to strengthen myself inside so that the judgment of others wouldn't influence what I felt was right. I'm grateful to have one good mommy-mentor and the many voices on the internet that assure me that there's nothing wrong with extended breastfeeding, and much that is right with it.
As with any commitment in life, the more I have put into maintaining it, the more important it has become to me. Now, it is one of the most precious things I have given to Boodge, and he to me, so far. When I began I wasn't sure I would go as far as "natural weaning", which is when a mother lets the child nurse until he or she is ready to stop, often at around 4 years old. Before I nursed a child, I thought when to stop was going to be something I decided, and I didn't realize that my child would have strong feelings about it that I would want to consider.
Now, I know that to stop nursing Boodge would be to take away something that means comfort, security, pleasure, emotional restabalization, connection to his Mama. Just as it has come to mean a lot to me, it has come to mean a lot to him, and I don't want to take that away from him until he's ready to give it up. Before I nursed a child, I didn't realize that nursing was about so much more than nourishment.
Before I nursed a child, the idea that I may want to nurse two children, born over 2 years apart, never even crossed my mind. If it had, I probably would have thought that was a bit too "out there" for me. Now, I'm committed to the idea, even looking forward to it in some ways. Boodge is still happily nursing a few times a day, and I'm still enjoying sitting my big pregnant body down to rest for half an hour, connecting lovingly with my little boy who will soon not be my one and only baby.
I just don't see any reason to give up something that is so special between us, especially when our connection is about to change in so many other ways. I'm hopeful that tandem nursing will help Boodge adjust to having a sibling, and even, as many mothers who tandem nurse report, facilitate a strong bond between the two children.
Just as with learning to nurse the first time, I'm prepared for it to be hard in the beginning. I'm ready for tears and meltdowns and questioning whether I can do it. Maybe I'll even find I can't. But I'm also prepared for beautiful moments with my two nurslings, and feelings of pride and triumph just as I experienced the first time. Once again, I'm heading into unknown territory. I'm excited to see what it brings. To follow my tandem nursing journey or just enjoy some good reading about my life as a Mommy, check out my blog.

Katy, Mom to Boodge, and one on the way

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Cautionary Tale about Breastfeeding…

Has breastfeeding become the latest status symbol in our culture?

If you’ve read Hanna Rosin’s 2009 article “A Case Against Breastfeeding,” you might think so. After all, she likens breastfeeding – and the length of time a mother nurses – to the same status one might earn by rockin’ a pair of skinny jeans, owning Tom Ford oversized sunglasses, or possessing the sleekest stroller on the playground. Because being a mom is one thing…but being a cool mom is totally different, right? And breastfeeding seems to have become the ultimate badge of motherhood.

A friend alerted me to Ms. Rosin’s article when I was about eight months pregnant with our first child. I was horrified, to say the least. What a terrible example for new mothers, I thought when I read the article. She should be supportive and encouraging, not pointed and judgmental. She sounded bitter, jaded, and a touch hormonal. I threw it aside without another thought.

But this was all before I gave birth to our bouncing baby boy only weeks later. And then I realized, she was right.

About just about everything.

Our little guy Scotty came into this world two and half weeks early, weighing 8lbs, 6ozs. I endured three months of bedrest due to premature labor prior to his arrival, but I spent my time on the couch well – I read book after book I could find about babies, childcare, and pregnancy. I attended two classes with certified lactation consultants (wheeled there by my loving and patient husband) at my local hospital. It was there I was told to my face that formula was “poison” and there was nothing more beautiful or more natural than a woman nursing her child. Good mothers nurse; bad mothers use formula.

In fact, in one of the classes, we watched a video that showed an interview with a pediatrician who stated (and I quote, since I wrote it down), “Women ask me what the dangers are to breastfeeding. I tell them, ‘there are none. There are only dangers to using formula.’”

Famous last words.

We were released from the hospital after 36 hours. But by the time Scotty was four days old, I knew something was wrong. While it felt like he was latching appropriately, he cried…all the time. I began thinking the “sleepy newborn” was nothing more than a myth. At our first ped’s visit on day 4, he had dropped down to 7lbs, 6ozs. Totally normal, I was told by multiple people, including medical professionals. Still, I pressed for a lactation consultantation that afternoon since there were orange and red crystals in his diaper. This is usually a sign of dehydration, per my books. The ped reassured me it “wasn’t blood,” and encouraged me to continue breastfeeding. She even used several personal examples about her own children, all of whom were terrible nursers at first. She wrote on my chart “dehydrated,” “jaundiced,” made a note of Scotty’s weight, and set us up for a five to seven day follow-up.

The LC recommended I open a “breast-araunt” for the weekend (it was a Friday) and come back on Monday. Nurse constantly, she told me. When he cries, nurse him. Keep him at the boob for hours. Let him use you as a pacifier. I agreed, although this sounded like a prison sentence. There was no mention of formula.

For the next two days, I did nothing but nurse. I used my nipple shield. I warmed wet towel to drape over my engorged breasts with the hope of getting the milk out more easily. I didn’t sleep. I didn’t eat. I didn’t shower. I didn’t do anything other than sit in our new glider with the baby in my lap, with his face up to the boob. And he did nothing but cry when he wasn’t using me as a pacifier. And I did nothing but cry as I felt trapped in the nursery. But I could do this, right? I mean, everyone I know has had a bad nursing experience at first. And they tried, and tried, and eventually, it worked. I considered myself a hard worker, never one to shy away from a challenge, and did it. I bit my lip, swallowed my pride, and chained myself to the glider.

By Monday, we all held our breath when Scotty was put on the scale. It read 7lbs, 8ozs. The LC, a different one from Friday, shook her head with worry. This wasn’t good, and it wasn’t right. She gave us a new plan of action: pump breast milk and then feed it to Scotty via a hand dropper. During the entire consultation, there was no mention of formula.

We stopped at Babies’r’Us on our way home and bought a dropper.

And by Wednesday, things were looking better. Scotty was sleeping more. He was quieter and much more relaxed. I had several doctor appointments that day and each professional commented on what a good baby he was. In fact, it wasn’t until the LC from Monday called Wednesday afternoon to check in did I realize something was terribly wrong.

“What does his poop look like?” she asked over the phone.

“It’s still brown…not the meconium from birth, but it’s really dark and seedy looking,” I told her, exhausted from the day’s appointments, sitting in that damn glider again. My prison cell.

“It’s what?” She sounded startled. I told her again, and it was her tone of voice that sent chills through me. “He’s eight days old…it needs to look like Dijon mustard by now. If it hasn’t transitioned…you need to get him into the pediatrician’s office as quickly as possible.”

Fear hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt blindsided that I missed this. After all, I was just relieved to have a quiet baby. Within minutes, we were on the road back to the doctor’s office. The doctor, too, was stumped and sent us off for blood work. She reassured us that she put a STAT order on the blood so we would receive a call later that night with instructions regarding what to do.

When the call came in at 8pm that night, it brought me to my knees. The doctor on the other line told me that Scotty’s bilirubin levels were at 28. That we needed to take him to an emergency room right now. When I suggested a local hospital, he told me no, go to *** one. It was on the complete opposite side of town, but I agreed immediately. Confused but acting quickly, I raced upstairs to pack an overnight bag when the phone rang again.

It was the doctor. “What is the baby’s mental status?” he asked me.

As a former marriage and family therapist, this question was ridiculously common to me. In fact, it felt laughable that he was asking me in such a manner. I was used to talking about clients’ mental status once upon a time, back when I still had a private practice. Before the bed rest, before the birth, and before this hellish day that just wouldn’t end.

“His mental status?”I repeated. “He’s quiet, lethargic. Extremely sleepy. I can’t wake him to feed him. He won’t wake up.” I was just about to tell him that I think Scotty is exhausted, too, from the day’s activities, when he interrupted me with the most chilling statement I had ever heard:

“You need to call 911 right now. RIGHT NOW.”

I think, at that point, my brain just left. Because I don’t remember feeling anything after that. It was like my heart turned off and my head turned on. I became a robot. I hung up with the doctor. I dialed 911. I told the woman on the other end that I have an eight-day old newborn with a bili level of 28 (whatever that meant) that would not wake up. I had no idea what was wrong, but I knew it was bad.

An ambulance arrived an agonizing seven minutes later, and we arrived at the hospital (lights and siren) in less than 15 minutes.

It seemed like twenty people filled the room immediately, working on my child who was no bigger than a football as he lay on the giant hospital gurney. My husband and I just huddled in the corner, silent, watching the frenzy of action. We recited the events of the last eight days to two doctors who grilled us about our baby’s very short life. We watched as they put the largest blue light on the baby and covered his little eyes with what looked like baby sunglasses. Wires, tubes, and stickers covered his body, no longer than 20 inches. His little doggie onsie, the one my husband had bought just days earlier, sat crumpled and flecked with blood on the bed while Scotty laid naked in just his diaper.

The whole event seemed like an out-of-body-experience.

Eventually, Scotty was wheeled up to the NICU and the nurses told us to go home. It was now 2 in the morning; he was in good care and was stable. They would have more information for us tomorrow. Overwhelmed, both physically and emotionally, my husband and I began the long trek home, unable to speak since both had no idea what was happening.

Over the next few days, we learned a lot. We learned that a normal bili level for an eight day old baby is about 14. In fact, 14 is considered high. Twenty-eight – or 28.9, to be technical – was off the charts. And bilirubin, that substance that is present in the bloodstream of newborns, produced by the liver and excreted by urine and feces, is what causes jaundice, or the yellowing of the skin. I knew Scotty was jaundice – I read the books, attended the classes – but I didn’t understand what the big deal was. 60% of newborns develop jaundice. And none of the brochures, pamphlets, or books mentioned that it was a dangerous condition. All recommended sunlight as a treatment option.

But I understand now. If bilirubin isn’t excreted through urine or feces, it builds up in the blood. Once it hits a certain level (and it depends on the age and size of the newborn), it can cross the blood barrier in the brain. It is toxic to brain tissue.

Toxic. As in, it kills brain tissue…and the tissue doesn’t grow back.

It can cause, among other things, mental retardation. Cerebral palsy. Profound hearing loss. Blindness. And in some cases, death.

Death. As a result of jaundice.

During those few days, we were able to connect the dots. My milk didn’t come in until day 5; since I was told that formula was poison, I didn’t have any formula in the house. I had short-suited myself, intentionally giving away free cans to friends. My child was going to be exclusively breast-fed, remember? Because that’s what I was told. By lactation consultants, friends, the La Leche League, popular media, everyone. Only bad mothers give their children chemicals. Good mothers nurse.

Scotty essentially didn’t eat for the first five days. The colostrum my body produced was enough to sustain him, but not nourish him. When my milk finally did come in, he was already behind the eight ball and was too sleepy and tired to nurse properly. And it became a dangerous loop – too tired to eat, no food to push out the bili. So the bilirubin continues to climb, making him sleepier, making it harder and harder to eat. In fact, breast milk contains trace amounts of bilirubin from the mother, making it harder for the newborn to excrete their own. I later learned that formula is actually recommended when jaundice becomes an issue.

It was the perfect storm of variables. And despite all of my research prior to his birth, not one person or source mentioned this. Not one. And after reviewing six books about breastfeeding, only two even mention the word “kernicterus.” Kernicterus, latin for ‘yellow kernel,’ is the name of the disease given to kids who had hyperbilirubin at birth. Kernicterus kids, more often than not, have the list of conditions listed above: cerebral palsy, hearing loss, mental retardation, etc.

To find this information was astounding. Totally healthy, full-term babies, within days of their birth, develop permanent, chronic conditions that will forever affect their quality of life. All because of high bilirubin. Being “just a little yellow.” And in one study I found, researchers followed kernicterus kids and discovered a shocking 81% were “exclusively breastfed” prior to the spike in their bilirubin. Eighty-one percent.

Why are more people not talking about this? Why are LCs not required to disclose this information to their patients who want to exclusively breast feed? Why doesn’t breastfeeding come with a warning label? After all, we tote our children around in state-of-the-art car seats. We know not to let a newborn sleep on his tummy. Scotty had been given three hearing tests in the first eight days of his life – a non-life-threatening condition – but yet no one explained to us what happens when jaundice goes untreated.

And in the back of my head, during those eight hellish days of breastfeeding, I kept going because I heard a voice chanting, “Breast is best. Breast is best. Breast is best.”

************

Kernicterus can only be diagnosed when the child starts missing developmental milestones, such as head control, eye gaze, and hand coordination. I hadn’t anticipated seeing pediatric neurologists, pediatric gastroenterologist, and multiple visits with my pediatrician, but this was my new reality. I knew that in the event the bili had crossed the brain barrier and a kernicterus diagnosis was imminent, our next step (our only step, really) was early intervention.

I’m happy to report that Scotty managed, by the grace of God, to come out of this ordeal 100% unscathed. He’s a happy, thriving little boy about to turn one in mid-August. He coos, he laughs, he says “dog!” “Dada!” and “Mom!” with reckless abandon. But not all kids are as lucky; there is a Yahoo group dedicated to hyperbilirubin called “newborn jaundice” and the stories on this site are heart breaking. Absolutely devastating. I never deleted my membership, even after we realized Scotty was okay, to remind myself that this condition happens, and it happens all too frequently to be okay.

When Scotty was released from the NICU on day 12 of his young life, I made a vow to myself that if he was alright, I was going to do everything in my power to tell people about our experience. To warn them that sometimes, “breast ISN’T best.” Do what’s in the best interest of your child. Don’t be swayed by the La Leche’s media campaign or overzealous lactation consultants or well-meaning friends. Don’t buy into the playground hierarchy that whoever breast feeds longer is the better mother. I said I would march on Washington if that’s what it came to in order to tell new moms to supplement, use formula and stop the shame spiral that formula feeding has evolved into. It’s not a competition; it’s a life.

And do whatever is in the best interest of your child.

Kim, mom to Scotty (11 months)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

It’s Worth It

When I was pregnant with Sweet Thing, I read all the books about pregnancy and birth and even a little bit of parenting! One thing I didn't give a second look was breastfeeding. I knew I was going to breastfeed, I wasn't worried about getting my newborn to latch. I thought it would be a piece of cake.

How wrong was I?

Breastfeeding was a challenge for us from the beginning.

After giving birth, we tried to latch about an hour later, with not much luck, we didn't worry about it. She wasn't hungry anyway. Later on in the day we tried again, and it was painful, and the nurses were trying to help, telling me she's got it, she's doing well. But it was still painful, after unlatching and relatching, I was still in pain, finally I gave up and kept my mouth shut because the nurses weren't helping. Sweet Husband helped me hand express the colostrom to spoon feed our newborn.

We went home the next day.
That night was awful our beautiful newborn screamed for what seemed like an eternity, we tried everything, rocking, bouncing, singing. Anything but nursing. I didn't want to, I was hurt.

Finally we had a nurse come to our house, she then gave me a pump and told me to pump every two hours and 'finger feed' Sweet Thing so I could heal.

I healed and we tried nursing again. It was still painful, like someone pinching my nipple as hard as they could. We tried different positions. Nothing helped. We were told she had a tongue tie and may need to clip it.

A new nurse came a few days later and fitted me for a nipple shield.
Finally after 10 days of pumps and tiny cups and syringes full of mommy milk Sweet Thing was able to nurse, and I was pain free!!
I was ecstatic, I felt like a real mommy!

We nursed successfully from then on with the shield, and only recently have we both been completely weaned from it now at 8 months.

Although the beginning was tough and I had more than my fair share of doubts and not wanting to do it anymore. I stuck it out and I am so glad I did. I now love breastfeeding, it is a nice quiet time for me and Sweet Thing, I love that I am the only one who can do this for her. I love that she was a tiny 6lb 9oz baby girl and and now she is a healthy 18lb 8 month old, all thanks to mamas milk. I am sad that our breastfeeding is slowing down now that Sweet Thing is on more and more solid foods lately. I will not wean her, this is her decision.

I urge every mother to breastfeed, and though you may think you just can't do it anymore, you can! You really can!

Sarah, 21. Mom to 1 girl, Sophia 8.5 months

Friday, August 6, 2010

Helping Them Grow

There’s a certain feeling of awe and accomplishment that comes over a new mother with the first glimpses of her baby. After nine long months of watching your belly swell, of feeling kicks in your ribs and trying to guess whether this poky bit is an elbow or a knee or a heel, it’s still a shock to see the tiny person that was in there. Those perfect little fingers, soft baby skin, itty-bitty nose all grew ¬inside of you and because of you. You’ve shared your food, your air, and your energy with this child in the most intimate and complete way possible, and now you finally get to cuddle him or her in your arms.

The beauty of being a nursing mother for me is that I get to repeat this moment every day. For the first six months of my daughter’s life, I was able to nourish her as completely as I did in the womb. There was nothing I needed to buy, nothing that someone else made that I needed to rely on—just my breast (although I did go through a few boxes of breast pads in the beginning!)

I always had a special feeling of pride when the pediatrician plotted her increasing weight on the growth charts. I wanted to say to her “You know those two pounds she gained? That was all me!” It was incredible to watch my daughter first wiggle, then roll, then crawl, knowing that every ounce of energy she was using came through me. And as she nurses, I marvel at how the baby who used to curl up on the Boppy now can stretch her long legs almost across our nursing chair. I wonder if I can see her fingers and toes growing when she pauses to look up with her sweet milky face. We’ve definitely had our share of sore nipples (I told my husband that the first few weeks of latching HAD to be the same feeling as for him to get kicked in the crotch!), nursing-marathon nights, skipping out on events because the baby needs to eat, and awkward wet spots on my shirt, as well as my first plugged duct making its appearance this week, but overall nursing has been full of far more ups than downs for us.

We started solid foods about three weeks ago, and I had a moment of sadness the first time she tasted something other than my milk. But I also know that my job as a mother is to help her grow, not just physically but also developmentally. I did that for six months with breastmilk alone. Now we’re still nursing for most of her nutrition, but the avocado and the carrot and the sweet potato helps make her part of the family at mealtimes and sets the stage for weaning someday. And I still watch her with joy after she nurses off to sleep, knowing that over six months after she was born, I’m still helping to grow a person.

~Elizabeth, mom of Amelia, 6.5 months

Thursday, July 29, 2010

World Breastfeeding Week!! ~ and other updates.

Did you know World Breastfeeding Week is right around the corner?? Yep that’s right, 2010 WBW is the first week in August. From August 1-7 the World alliance for Breastfeeding Action along side breastfeeding advocates from more than 170 countries are joining together in celebrating the 19th annual WBW. This year’s theme centers around “Breastfeeding: Just 10 Steps, the baby-friendly way”.


Join the World in Breastfeeding Action this year!

• Draw attention to the role of the Ten Steps in improving breastfeeding rates.

• Renew action by health systems, health care providers and communities to make breastfeeding the easy choice for women.

• Inform people everywhere of the risks of artificial feeding, and the role of breastfeeding for children’s development and lifelong health and the health of mothers.

• Enable mothers to enjoy full support for breastfeeding in health care systems and beyond.

So what are the 10-steps?? Well, stop by the World Breastfeeding Week website. There is a lot of great information. You can take a pledge, and even buy a shirt to show off the numbers and initiative.

I hope you will join in the initiative.  Numbers speak volumes.
Source for Post.
 
In other news, if you haven't had a chance to enter yet, I am hosting an EcoMom giveaway on my personal blog.  I know you were all open to having giveaways on this blog, but I want to try to keep this site more for breastfeeding and issues related to that.  I thank you all for continuing to spread the word.  Is there anything you would like to see on this blog that you don't already?  Would you like links to breastfeeding friendly articles?  Any suggestions are welcome!! Welcome to all our new followers; don't forget to "like" Simple Gifts on Facebook!
 
Best,
Emily

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cracked Logic

Item # 482 that no on tells you about becoming a parent: Breastfeeding doesn’t always come easily.

When I found out we were pregnant, there was no question in my mind that I wanted to breastfeed. My mother breastfed all three of her children, I had been around babies since I was little and knew that breast milk was really good for a baby. I also knew formula was really expensive. I had read the research, and never doubted for a second that it was the choice I was going to make.

I read books and articles on how to breastfeed. I learned about establishing a supply, and all the wonderful bonding that goes on between a mother and baby. I educated myself about the added benefits to breastfeeding, like added weight loss for post-partum mommy, reduced risk of SIDS for baby, adaptation of your breast milk for your babies nutrient needs as they grow, lower risk of obesity and diabetes in children, and a reduced risk of breast, ovarian, cervical, and endometrial cancers for mom. I even took the class at the hospital complete with my stuffed animal we were to bring along to act as a child. I brought a Cow, it seemed appropriate.

I just don’t understand why when you are pregnant people who have been there don’t tell you the hard stuff. Okay, maybe a stranger off the street coming up to you would be odd, but a friend, relative? It’s not like telling someone who isn’t pregnant yet, and then worrying you are the reason that they decided not to have children, we are already past that point. Our bellies are hard at work growing and developing a beautiful little human being. So why keep this stuff to yourself?

After Squish was born, I can’t tell you how many times I would say to a friend who already had children, “I didn’t realize breastfeeding would be so hard.” and got the response, “I know! I was surprised too!” Every time it happened to me, I wanted to scream, “If you knew it was like this, why didn’t you warn me?”

Besides not wanted to freak out a pregnant lady, I suppose people don’t tell you how hard breastfeeding is because they assume there isn’t much you can do about it until the baby is born. Or maybe it is because they think if they tell you that, and then you have an easy time making it work for you, you will think less of them. Either way I really really wish just one person had pulled me aside and said, “Listen, breastfeeding is amazing, but it doesn’t always go smoothly. This is what I found that worked for me.”

So by now I am sure you are grasping the concept that Squish and I didn’t have an easy road into the world of breastfeeding. Squishy was born via C/S at 38 weeks after I had labored for 26+ hours. I had wanted a natural birth, but after 20 hours of my contractions being less than 2 minutes apart, and making no progress with dilatation, I gave into the epi. 6 hours later I still had not made any progress. I was exhausted; Squishy’s head was swollen from being slammed up against my pelvic bone. We went ahead with a C/S. Squish was born 10lbs 2ozs. The first words out of my OB’s mouth were, “Oh My God!” to which I immediately cried, “What’s wrong?!” “He’s huge!” she replied. I was thinking… um hello this is what I kept telling you…

I knew things weren’t quite right when I didn’t really get to see Squish before he was taken to the nursery. I got to give him one kiss, and take a picture, and he was gone. My husband looked at me, and I told him to leave me and go with Squish.

After I was wheeled back into recovery, the pediatric nurse came in and told me that I would not be allowed to see my baby until after they stabilized his blood sugars, and the best way to do that was to let him have a bottle of formula. I wanted to see my child, so I told them to do whatever it took. (I did not have GD while pregnant, so his size and low sugars were a surprise.)

So much for not wanting him to have any formula, and breastfeeding right away. When I was finally able to see my baby, he did latch on pretty well, but he wouldn’t stay awake to eat. It took 2.5 days for his sugars to level out. During which time I was required to give him formula after every nursing session. I took him to the nursery once, because my husband was worried about me taking my first shower post C/S, and having to look after me and the baby at the same time. I fed him and wheeled him over. I told the nurses that he just ate, but if he needed anything to please bring him back.

When I returned 20 minutes later, I was shocked to discover they had fed him a full bottle of formula. I asked them why as he had just fed, and her response was, “You must be a first time mom, babies get hungry.” I think my husband had to pick my jaw off the floor, but I was too exhausted and sore to say anything. (I later told the lactation consultant about this when I came to see her 6 weeks later, and she told me that the hospital had taken a contract with a formula company while she was on maternity leave, and tried to push it on everyone.)

By the time we got home with Squishy, he wouldn’t latch on to my breasts and would scream until he got the immediate relief of the formula. I spent that night letting him take sucks of the formula bottle, and latching him on when he calmed down. By the 2nd day home, we were done with formula, but the damage had already been done. I would later learn that drinking the bottle was like not having to work for it, where the breast took some work on his part. He would latch on right and slowly slip down until he had a bad latch. My baby had become a lazy nurser. But since I didn’t know that breastfeeding wasn’t always easy, I just thought it was normal and let it go on.

When my mom came to visit, she said she didn’t go through what I was feeling, so when Squishy was 2 weeks old, I called the number the hospital had given me to call for questions. They gave me the number to a free lactation consultant. I took Squish in, and we nursed in front of the lady, and she told me he was a great eater. They did a weighed feeding and he was getting 4 ozs off only one side. She said I should try another position besides the one I was using to let my nipples heal a bit. She told me my nipples just had to get toughened up. I left feeling relieved and upset at the same time. If I was doing it right, why did it hurt so much?

I continued this way until Squish was 6 weeks old. I would dread having to feed him. I cried during most every feeding. My husband tried so hard to be supportive, but he couldn’t understand what I was going through. I felt like nursing was supposed to be natural and easy. I couldn’t understand what was wrong. My nipples were so sore. They were cracked and bleeding. My bras hurt, but if I didn’t wear one I would leak milk everywhere. I must have tried every kind of nipple cream on the market; I bought nipple shells to wear so my nipples didn’t rub on my bra. Even taking a shower hurt. I was exhausted and in constant pain. I felt like I must be the only one having this problem, because surely someone would have said something to me. If someone had handed me a bottle of formula right there – I just may have taken it. The guilt that I wasn’t enjoying this special bonding time was overwhelming. Not to mention the fact that my brain kept telling me to quit.

I finally decided I would try one more lactation consultant. And boy, am I glad I did. She realized that Squishy was a lazy latcher. That even though he was getting a lot of milk, he was sliding down the nipple while he nursed which is why it appeared that I had a good latch to start with. She corrected our form and had me stop and start Squish several times until he figured it out. She also advised I take a day off of breastfeeding and pump to let my nipples heal. (For reason even though I was pumping in the morning to create a stash, it never occurred to me to try the whole day.) She recommended Evenflo’s Breast flow bottle because they really required the baby to work for the milk like he did when he was on the breast. Finally a mixture of warm water and sea salt was to be applied to my nipples after every feeding. The sea salt doesn’t sting like iodine salt does, and it sure helped heal my poor cracked and bleeding nipples.

Shortly after that my nipples finally healed. I finally understood how joyful and special breastfeeding could be. I am so proud of myself that I stuck it out, but it would have been a whole lot easier of a journey to this point if just one person who didn’t have an easy go of it had said something. I would have prepared more; I would have bought the nipple creams and started using them right away. I wouldn’t have had it in my head that breastfeeding was natural and therefore easy. I wouldn’t have felt silly for asking for help sooner. Had I known it wasn’t always easy I would have found out that there were so many resources at my fingertips. My first weeks may have still been hard and painful, but at least I wouldn’t have felt alone and frustrated.

I later found out that a lot of my mommy friends struggled with breastfeeding. Some gave up, and were happier because of that, some stuck it out and figured out what worked for them, but not one person shared their experience with me until after I mentioned something to them. It was that feeling of frustration that drove me to create this blog. I wanted a place where women could share all kinds of different experiences in the hopes that it would help one mother to push through or just feel like they aren’t alone.

Emily 28, Mom to Squishy, 13.5 months and Creator of Simple Gift ~ Stories from Breastfeeding Mamas


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Oh how I loath, uh, I mean love my pump…….

Before I start I will tell you a little about me. I am determined, decisive, and generally once I decide something that is that. When it came to breast-feeding I always wanted my child (ren) to have breast milk. It is best, and it is free! I thought I would just pop my baby on and bam we would be breast-feeding.

Then came a major curve ball. At our 8 week ultrasound we found out we were have twins. TWO babies??!! My mind wasn’t big enough to wrap around that. How was I going to do this? I didn’t know how to take care of one baby, let alone two! (I had never changed a diaper before my boys were born). What a wrench.

I decided I would try to breast feed, but knew more realistically I would be pumping. Twins are almost always preemies so they have a harder time latching, as that is one of the last skills to develop. Because of the preemie status they almost always go to the NICU straight after birth to be at least checked out. Mine were born at 36 weeks. 3 days and as promised went straight to the NICU. I didn’t get to see them until 12 hours later (because of my c-section and the fact that I gave birth at night). All of these things were strikes against us in getting them to latch.

In the hospital they did latch…kind of. I found pumping less stressful then having two hungry babies and trying to get them to latch. I will admit that I was okay with the idea of pumping; I saw my breast as sexual objects not as vending machines (and, frankly, so does my husband). I thought it would be less conflicting for all involved without their mouths actually on my breasts. So I started exclusively pumping, and decided I wanted to make it at least 6 months. About 30 seconds in, I totally understood why women quit. It H-U-R-T. There was no support except the help I asked for from the nurses. I was surprised they didn’t encourage it more without prompting. My nipples bled. Even still I rented a pump and my husband picked it up before I got home from the hospital.

We went home three days later with one of the boys. I pumped and wasn’t making enough for anyone to have a full meal. We had to supplement with formula. And the guilt began. Did I bring the milk to the baby who was still in the NICU? Did I split it evenly? I pumped every three hours around the clock. Thankfully Baby B came home only a day and a half later. We made a schedule and stuck to it as if our lives depended on it (it very well may have).

Every three hours they needed to eat. I would sit on the floor with a baby on each side of me and bottle-feed. Then I would change them and get them back to sleep. Then I would pump, split the milk in two and put it in the fridge for the next feeding. If my husband was nice enough to get up in the middle of the night and feed them, but I still had to wake up to pump. My teeth didn’t always get brushed, a shower was optional, but I pumped no matter what. For a little while there I did make enough for both of them, and even had a tiny freezer stash. However, soon enough they started eating a lot more and I had to supplement again.

Guilt. Guilt that I didn’t make enough. Pain. It felt like someone was trying to rip my f&(@)#g nipples off. Exhaustion. Sleeping in 1.5 hour stretches is not really satisfying. I fantasized about quitting every time I hooked up that pump. I hated that pump. I wanted to throw it out the window. No one could talk to me when I was pumping because I was straight up angry when I was pumping. During the day I would put the boys in their bouncy seats and bounce them and sing to them while I pumped. I would always be on the internet when I pumped, it distracted me just enough. Did I mention the pain?

Around 10 weeks old my boys started sleeping through the night. I never knew 6 hours sleep would feel SO good! Except on my boobs! They were SO full in the morning. Despite my best efforts I began so see my boobs as food machines for my babies and not as sexual objects. My husband wasn’t allowed to touch them, or even look at them. They were sore. I felt like a cow; hook me up, and pump me out. But I pumped on.

By four months my boys had made it to the 95% in weight and height. They were getting about 50/50 breast milk/formula. Then they hit a growth spurt, and wanted about 40 oz. to drink a day. I couldn’t keep up so we started solid foods to get them down to 32 oz. a day. I felt good about the results. I felt like I accomplished something, that the breast milk helped get them where they were. I was still determined to make it to 6 months even though I still fantasized about quitting every second of it.

Then they got RSV and again I felt guilty. I felt like maybe if they had gotten 100% breast milk they wouldn’t have gotten sick. (I know these are not logical thoughts, but I am pretty sure mommy guilt is not based in logic). Still I kept pumping. Then I got a clogged duct. Oh, the new fresh pain. I massaged, I sat under the shower and rubbed. My husband offered, in jest, to help me rub them…. I almost hit him. I had no sense of humor regarding the pump or my boobs anymore. It finally unclogged. My poor poor nipples. Pump pump pump.

By six months the boys were wearing 12 month clothes, and still in the 95% for weight and height. They were eating solid foods by now and they were eating a lot! But I made it 6 months! On the one hand I gave myself permission to quit, on the other I had….you guessed it….GUILT! I had made it this long, why not keep going? It is still the best thing for them. I started to reduce my pumping times, from 15 minutes, to 13 to 10 to 8, etc, until I dropped a session.

I loathed being tied to the pump; “Nope sorry, I have to go home so I can pump.”, but I loved giving them breast milk. I loathed the discomfort, but I loved the free milk. I loathed my husband touching about or thinking about my boobs. I loathed/loved the pump. Even though I had started to wean off the pump, I had a really hard time finally giving myself permission to quit. It was at this time I got another clogged duct, and I had to start pumping more again to unclog it. It took a few days, but it finally unclogged. (Sitting in the hot tub one night cleared it up the best). Over the course of the next few weeks I weaned off the pump. The boys didn’t mind, after all they had been getting formula the whole time. We started going through a can of powder every 3-4 days! Yikes! That is about $60/wk on formula. I started fantasizing about starting pumping again. But I didn’t, and instead I returned the rental pump.

Even though it was so bittersweet, I had made it! I was proud of myself for making it that far, and at the same time ashamed I didn’t make it further. I could have done a year if I had tried, but I hated it so much. I was done, and it was over. I decided to just not think about it anymore. What’s done was done.
Once I stopped pumping my boobs deflated like a pair of old balloons left out in the sun. I have never been big or full-chested by any means, but what was left on my chest looked like the before picture in a plastic surgery picture. The kind that are so sad that you don’t wonder why the woman had the surgery. I was so depressed. Even though my husband was glad to have his boobs back, I still wouldn’t let him touch them because I was so insecure about them. I had never felt so unsexy (yes, never). He told me he loved them, that I was beautiful. Blah blah blah.
Slowly my nipples healed, slowly the guilt faded. (It did not go away; it never goes away.) Slowly I decided that I should listen to my husband. (Even though I still thought he is lying). Slowly I began to see my boobs again as the sexual objects they used to be (PS-I now know what Victoria’s Secret actually is). I can once again claim my body as my own for the first time in a year and a half. That feels good. I think it is no coincidence that when I stopped pumping, I started doing my hair again, wearing make up again, and worrying about plucking again. I no longer had to get up early to pump, or stay up late to pump. I got more sleep, I felt better.
I have decided that pumping is a mind over matter situation. For me it was my stubbornness (aka determination) that served me well in this venture. I absolutely understand why women quit. I didn’t have to go back to work so I could sit home and loath/love my pump. My husband was beyond supportive even when I was sitting there barking at him while I was pumping. My babies were both calm and quiet and gave me time to pump while they hung out in the swing/bouncy/play mat. If any of these things hadn’t lined up I don’t know if I would have made it.

My boys are 9 months now and wear 24 month clothes. They are off the charts in height and in the 90% for weight. They are still doing great, even without the breast milk. Although, as I reduce the amount of formula I give them, my thoughts still turn to the fact that I would be making enough breast milk to not have to give them formula at all at this point. I am hoping that I can stop thinking about it all together when they turn one, and they can have cow’s milk.

But knowing me, I might just be sitting here when they are 18 thinking they might have gotten better scores on their SATs if I had pumped more.

Lisa 28, Mom to Identical Twin Boys – 9 months
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