Fun Finds

I like to share the link love when I get around to it because the internet is a wide, wide place, and it’s often bloggers who help me find what’s good out there.  It’s been a while since I’ve posted some useful things, but I’ve stumbled on some great stuff lately.

Little Sapling Toys – They have some great wooden playthings for kids, and we got Jude’s birthday gift there.  I’m so excited to give him his wooden blocks in a couple of weeks!

This creepy article about mannequins giving birth (thanks, Jenna for sharing!) leaves me a little unsettled.  I mean, on the one hand, if it truly helps obstetricians learn to assist in a variety of deliveries, all vaginal, then great.  But one of these robots yells “I want an epidural.”  Really?  Seriously?  Doctors need to understand that birth is a moment of great change for a woman – a physical change, yes.  But also a profound emotional, psychological, and spiritual one.  No mannequin can communicate that.

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I love my blogger and in-real-life friend, Messy Mom.  Her post on Loving Your Postpartum Body was exactly what I needed to hear.

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These awesome Happy Halloween Printable Tags (yay free printables!) could be a great addition to some little treat bags or a great label on a hostess gift.

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There’s a canned pumpkin shortage in case you didn’t know. I found some at Trader Joe’s this week though!  I’m totally making Martha’s Pumpkin Swirl Brownies when I get the chance.

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Last but not least, my favorite local doula agency asked women for 100 reasons to breastfeed, and the awesome list is still going.  I think we’re up to 94 now!  Check it out on Labor of Love’s Facebook Fan Page.

On Sleep…..

Why is it that with parenting, everything is so polarizing? Breast or bottle?  Vaccinations?  Discipline?  Sleep? All of it requires that you read so-called expert opinions and feel guilty for choosing either side because the opposing team leaves you doubtful and confused.

I have a ten month old boy who is clearly adorable. (duh)  He’s aware, engaged, well-adjusted, friendly.  When we go out in public, it never fails that someone comments on what a happy baby he is.  What a happy boy, they say.  Or he is such a well-behaved baby.  You are so lucky, blah blah blah.  These compliments are nice, but I can’t help but feel that his temperament is most likely something he was born with and not something I am responsible for.  I was blessed with a laid-back, smiley, easy kid.  And for that I am really grateful.

The one hang-up?  He is ten months old and he doesn’t really sleep through the night.  At all. And by that I mean that I feed him once or twice (and maybe occasionally three times) between the hours of 7pm and 6am.  It is highly unusual if we wake up in this house with a full night of sleep.  Like in the past 5 months, it’s happened maybe 3 times.  The truth is, I don’t necessarily care all that much.  I stumble in his room when he cries, I feed him, I stumble back to my bed and return to sleep.  After 10 months of breastfeeding, he’s got it down and he’s a fast eater, so the whole process takes maybe 6 or 7 minutes.  That’s it.  Where I am concerned is when I tell people this, and they look horrified or say that their baby slept all night at 7 weeks old.  Or if someone is telling me about these terrible sleep problems she is having, and later in the conversation, I discover that she means her baby actually needs a midnight feeding and this hasn’t happened since month 3 or something.  Most of all, I worry that this won’t go away on its own and I will end up with a toddler with massive sleep disorders and learning disabilities or something and that it will be all my fault for not “sleep training” him so that he gets proper rest. Oh, mommy guilt.  Gets you every time.



I’ve read it all.  When Jude was about 16 weeks old, he was up at night more than he was asleep.  I was working full-time as a teacher of 150 high school students, and I was getting up every hour and a half with a crying baby at night.  I simply could not function.  I read Ferber’s book (or the chapters that applied to us anyway), and I thought I did “cry it out.”  I say thought because in hindsight, it was “simmer it down” more so than cry.  He whimpered off and on for maybe 30 minutes at a time throughout that first night, and then he gradually stopped.  After that, he slept through the night (well till 4am which is good enough for us and a vast improvement at that time), and I really thought CIO was torturous but a miracle solution.  In hindsight, I am at least happy that Ferber’s book taught me that I don’t have to immediately respond to every little whimper and I can give my baby time to soothe himself.

Then came a bad cold, and really….. what heartless woman can leave her sick baby crying?…. so of course I was up with him for that.  Soon after that came the insane growth spurt he had at 5-6 months where he’d eat hungrily and gained a ton of length and weight to prove it.  So after that we settled in to a pattern of one feeding at about 3am.  He goes to bed at 7pm, so this is 8 hours, and I really didn’t think it was that bad.  Sometimes he’ll get me up at midnight as well, but he seems hungry as he eats, so I am at a loss as to how I can say no.

The past few weeks, he was having nap time woes (as in NOT NAPPING AT ALL).  I quickly realized that daytime sleep is where I gained my sanity, not overnight sleep, and I couldn’t take it anymore.  Three other moms I trust shared their love for this book.  I tore through the book as soon as I got it, and the daytime nap solutions are really working for us already, so all is well you’d think, right?  Except that as I read, I am again struck with the what is wrong with my baby questions when I read about nighttime sleep.  He certainly does not fit the profile of a kid with sleep disorders of any kind.  He cries, eats quickly, goes right back to sleep, but I can’t help but think that he “should” be able to sleep all night.

So here are my questions – Should I be worried?  What are the chances that I am establishing something awful that will need to be amended when he’s older?  “Should” he be soothing himself back to sleep at this age without the food I provide for him?  How do I know if he is genuinely hungry?  Most importantly, be honest with me, what ages were your children when they really, truly, reliably slept through the night?  Did they do it on their own, or did you do something to help them along?

I know Ferber says to cry it out, but when we tried that (a second time and for real this time) for naps and bedtime not long ago,  it only left Jude feeling panicked and HATING his bed and left me feeling frazzled and guilty.  I know that works for some children, but I also know that crying increases levels of cortisol and in some babies (mine included, in my opinion) that only leads to a terrible hyper-alert kind of state that is anything but conducive to sleep. I cannot handle crying for longer than around an hour.  I know that Ferber and Weissbluth say that you really have to let them get it all out, no matter how long it takes.  They also say if the crying episode leads to vomiting, you go in the child’s room, silently clean him up, and lay him back down in the crib.  I know as a parent, I am supposed to set perameters for my child and enforce rules, but that is so so so not instinctual for me, I just can’t be that much of a hard-ass.  I also don’t like thinking of “training” my child to sleep like he’s a dog or something.  I wonder if sleeping is a developmental milestone like rolling over or walking and perhaps I shouldn’t rush it.  On the other end of the spectrum, I adore Sears on basic baby care and discipline, but I also know women who follow his ideas exclusively and they have 3-year-old children who still nurse often and need their attention at all hours.  That might be fine for some families, but I simply cannot do it, and I want Jude to have an independent spirit as well.  I know mothers who follow either model (Ferber or Sears) stringently and have children who seem less than happy and thriving.  I also know families who follow these plans stringently and have seemingly perfect kids.  To each his own.

If I have learned anything these past few months it is that you are the best mother you can be when you are authentic and are doing what feels right for you and your family. My problem is that neither of these extremes or ideas seems right for us.  None of them have worked.

So mamas, what do you do to get your little ones to stay asleep?  Is there a golden ticket?  Do I wait it out till he’s ready or take a more active approach to prevent further problems?  Cautionary tales?  I’m all ears.

Jude’s Birth Story – Part 3: The After

This is the third part of the series.  Be sure to begin with chapter one and chapter two to get the entire story.

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This chapter, in ways, is the hardest for me to write, but also the most important, I think.

The weeks that followed my delivery were rough.  There was the physical healing with both an incision and some vaginal tearing as well, and there was so so much disappointment.  I’m not saying that cesareans are like this for everyone.  I know plenty of women who prefer them, and I understand that every woman’s situation and response is unique; all I can write is my own story and what it was for me.  I think women who have a hard time healing emotionally after a cesarean birth are often seen as crazy people who care about the vaginal birth above the health of your baby.  This is not the case at all, and I understand that surgical birth can save lives that would have been lost a few generations ago.  Nevertheless, I feel like a hole is carved in the memory of my son’s birth.  I will never feel my first-born, warm and fresh, laid on my chest.  I will never be the first one to hold him.  I will never feel him pass through my body on his entrance to the world. It is a moment I can never get back, and one that I craved not because I’m selfish or because it’s a medal of honor or because I wanted to feel pain but because I am a mother, and that is how my body is designed to begin that journey.

Yes, I was in love with this beautiful boy and admiring him more everyday, but what surgical birth robbed me of is the feeling of confidence and contentment in my own body, my own abilities as a mother. I’ve written here before about my problems breastfeeding, and that certainly added to my self-doubt.  I can remember one instance where my mother and sister came by for a visit, and Jude was something like a week old.  I sat on my couch in my dirty, sweaty, stained pajamas and cried about how I was defective.  My body didn’t work.  I was not capable of pushing a baby out, and now I couldn’t breastfeed.  I truly felt, at that moment, like I wasn’t cut out for motherhood and I didn’t deserve my baby.  My cesarean robbed me of joy I should have taken from those first few weeks, and that is something I can never, ever get back.

In the end, it took many things from me.  What did it give me?  A healthy baby boy first and foremost, but a few other things as well. It gave me an appreciation for my hours and hours of intense unmedicated labor.  It is because of that time spent working through every rhythm that I can remember Jude’s delivery as ours alone.  When I think back to his arrival, it is those 22 hours spent in a dimly lit room focusing and breathing with my husband and my doula that I reminisce on.  Many women look back at natural childbirth and remember pain pain pain.  I sincerely appreciate that pain and will do it again gladly.  I am not sure I would have that admiration for the process of labor if mine had not ended the way it did.  My cesearean also gave me a ridiculously stubborn determination to breastfeed. I’d like to think that, even with a perfect natural birth, I would have kept fighting until we got breastfeeding right, but one thing I know is that I craved that confidence in my body and my abilities, and I refused to let my surgery take away my nursing relationship with my son.  It was a lot of crying, a lot of pain, weeks of hard work, a pediatric ENT, a frenulectomy, and 5 lactation consultants, but in the end, I felt relieved to have us back on nature’s path that I felt was right for us.  Lastly, my cesarean has left me plugged in to the birth community in a way that has proven so helpful.  My local chapter of ICAN is very active, and their message board has been infinitely interesting and useful for problems big or small.  My interest in birth, ongoing as a result of my cesarean and the choices it has left me with, is blooming in to an interest in informed parenthood that is continually connecting me with others whose stories and advice make me a better mother everyday.

So at the end of the day, what do I know for sure? I know that birth is a natural process. I know that every woman’s body is different, and nature  knows what is best.  I know that medical intervention is necessary sometimes, and at that moment, it was necessary for my Jude to arrive safely. I also know that medical intervention is overused, and we have to change the way we view birth in this country.  I know that, when you really look at the research, VBACs are indeed safer than repeat cesareans. I know that sometimes life is completely unfair and it absolutely sucks.  I know that a delivery that was so frightening and so difficult has bonded me with a little boy in a way that I never dreamed was possible.  I know that breastfeeding does more than nurture a baby, it heals a mother, too.

I believe that every baby has the right to choose his or her birthday. I believe that every mother has the right to refuse medical intervention that is not absolutely necessary.  I believe that even informed women can be bullied into decisions they know are not right.  I believe that doctors who intimidate women  into deliveries that are “convenient” and overly-controlled make us feel powerless, and they should be called to task for this.  I believe that birth is a rite of passage, one of the rare moments in life that women remember for every second thereafter, one that changes who you are in a single instant.  I also believe that one day, I will have  a beautiful, natural delivery that will validate my body’s abilities and be a source of redemption for me as a woman.

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One of the things I love about the blogging community is the inspiration I find from all of you.  Kelle Hampton’s approach to life’s obstacles sheds light on my own challenges every time I read her posts.  In comparison, my birth story does not hold a candle to hers and neither does my situation, but she wrote something once that hit me at my center.  She said birth is a beautiful transformation, “Especially when it’s a little bit scary. It rocks you to the core. Picks you up, smacks you down hard and then rebuilds you with all new parts…..the minute you welcome [a baby] into your life, you inherit a thicker skin…because the bus will hit you plenty of times to the point you’ll think you damn near died. But you don’t. You pick yourself off the ground, dust off your knees…and move on. Because beauty awaits. The beauty that fills in all the holes and rough spots.”

And rough spots there are.  The scariness, the ugliness, the overwhelming unfairness is what really began my journey to motherhood in a big way.  I cannot forget that.  I cannot pretend it didn’t happen.  But for now, I can dust off and move on and cherish all that it taught me.  I can’t say I’m grateful for it yet, but we’ll get there.  In the meantime, there’s too much joy to dwell on the ugly and too much love to be weighed down with disappointment.

Top Ten Tuesday: Tips for Breastfeeding While Working

 

You guys, I have FOUR days of work left!  FOUR.  I am so excited and ready to turn the page to having only one job (mom) rather than two.  I’ve written before about my breastfeeding struggles and how grateful I am that I succeeded despite the obstacles.  This is sort of another prideful post because I have survived almost 5 months of working full-time as a teacher and breastfeeding  as well. I’ve learned A LOT in the past 5 months, so for Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday this week, I decided to share some of it with you. 

From your comments, it seems that most of my readers are stay at home moms, so I’m not sure how necessary this post really is, but I feel the need to write it all down while it is still fresh on my mind, and I hope it will be useful to someone out there.  So here they are, my Top Ten Tips for Breastfeeding and Working Full-Time.

  1. Invest in a good pump.  It has to be a double electric. I’m a fan of the Medela Pump in Style personally, but whatever it is, be sure it’s effective.Yes they are expensive, but so is formula.
  2. Before you head to work, get lots of milk stocked in the freezer. For most of us, the pump pulls less than the baby does, especially over time.   There is also the occasional growth spurt or hungry day that the baby will experience while you are away at work.  Stocking up lessens the possibility that you’ll have to use formula for supplementation.  I had about 50 ounces stocked up, and it was gone after about 3 months of working.
  3. Set a goal.  Stick to it. For me, I said I didn’t care how much I hated pumping or even how little I got (if my milk supply dwindled) but that I refused to stop before Jude was 6 months old.  For you it might not be 6 months, it could be longer or shorter.  The point is that if you set a concrete goal, you won’t stop.  Plus is feels so gratifying to meet that goal.
  4. Insist on a space and time.  A lot of people told me that there was no way I could continue breastfeeding after I went back to work.  Teaching is a job with NO privacy at all and no free time or chosen schedules.  I was determined to prove them wrong and I ended up (with the help of a nursing friend) securing a room for this purpose.  In a building full of 2,500 people that was actually built for 1,900, this was hard to come by, but we sort of insisted.  As far as scheduling goes, I am late for a class everyday so that I can pump.  For me, it is Yearbook/Journalism with 23 responsible girls, so it’s no big deal.  Without this luxury, I would have had to insist on a little help from colleagues or a change in schedule, I guess.  Depending on your state, there could be a law insisting that employers offer you a place to pump.  It’s also in the new healthcare bill!  Three cheers for that!
  5. Yes you should be insistent, but make the best of what you’re given.  Have humor. I was given a room, and I am grateful for that.  It is, however, a dusty supply closet in a location where I have to walk through another teacher’s class to get there.  I was also walked in on my a male coworker who got a nice clear view of my boobs; it was hands-down the most awkward moment of my life.  The copy room line can still be a little awkward when I stand next to him, but we moved on; you just have to have humor and be happy with the time and space you get.  Make the most of it.  As a side note to this one, you don’t have to rinse out your pump parts after every pumping.  An LC told me to carry a hand towel to wipe them down and then just wash them every night when I get home.  My pumping  room is nowhere near a kitchen or a sink, so I rely on a packed towel and a cooler with an ice block, and we have no problems at all.
  6. Get used to people thinking you’re crazy. Breastfeeding is not a popular choice, nor is it an easy one when you work full-time.  I work closely with 5 other women who all have children under 14 months.  I am the only one who is still breastfeeding.  One is kind and supportive and fabulous while the rest think I’m nuts and tell me so with their eyes.  And occasionally with their voices.  At this point, I’m used to it and somewhat entertained by it.  I know this is the right choice for my family right now, so I just move right along and avoid dwelling on the judgment.
  7. Don’t obsess about the number of ounces.  I was really bad about this in the beginning, but I’m getting better.  Some days you will have lower output than others.  It’s just the way it is.  Every Lactation Consultant and every resource I read told me that the baby is more efficient than the pump, and it’s definitely true for me.  In late March, I ran out of freezer stock and started having to use the occasional bottle of – gasp! – formula.   I freaked out at first until I realized that A) when we were together on the weekends or over spring break, it is not problem and he is satisfied without supplementation and B) if 2-3 small formula bottles a week keep me breastfeeding for a year, it’s worth it for sure.  Some days I make enough.  Some days I don’t.  Just do the best you can and don’t obsess. I’ve also found that I can pump a couple of hours after he goes to bed and get 2-3 ounces a night.  That helps.
  8. When you and baby are together, throw out the bottles. Nursing your baby as often as possible helps boost and maintain your supply.  Plus who would want to get out that pump when you are tied to it all week?  Jude and I never use bottles when we’re together.  They are for workdays and sitters only.
  9. It’s all in how you look at it. It might seem like locking yourself in a closet for 10-12 minutes three times a day is a ridiculous and boring waste of time.  For me, I have learned to  welcome the few minutes of quiet and privacy away from my desk and rowdy students.  I even grade papers in there sometimes!  My students would be repulsed by that image, but hey, it gets the job done.  Well two jobs actually.
  10. Don’t skip out on pumping sessions.  This is probably the hardest part of it for most of us.  You have to be fairly militant and determined to NEVER skip a session.  For me, I feed Jude at about 6am before we leave.  At work, I pump at 8:15 just before my first class, around 11:30 between classes, and then again during my planning period at about 2:15.  In the past 5 months, there have been three times I have missed a session because of  morning meetings.  Three times won’t hurt, but if I made a habit of it, my milk supply would certainly be affected.  It seems like a chore at first, but it will soon become a routine part of your day. 

Above all, know that you can do it!  It’s not the most popular choice, and there are moments you’ll want to quit, but the rewards are numerous, and there are lots of women out there who continue to breastfeed while working.

What I Wish I’d Known About Breastfeeding

This post is included in Modern Alternative Mama’s Breastfeeding Stories Series and is intended as a contribution to “Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me” at Amy’s Finer Things.

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We celebrated Jude’s half birthday tonight, and I can’t believe we’re halfway to the big number ONE.  Every parent says this and it’s so cliché, but I don’t know where the time goes.  When I think back to that first week home or our time together in the hospital, it seems like it was yesterday, but then again so much has changed in our lives that it seems like a lifetime ago.  For every mama, those first few weeks are filled with sweet memories of tiny little newborn diapers, sponge baths, lullabies, sleep deprivation, admiration of those awkward little arms and froggy legs, and laughing at squeaky newborn noises.  And then there’s the hormones.  The crying, crazy hormones that leave you so in love with this tiny creature one minute while the next you find yourself wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into or if you can handle the big task ahead.

Me and Jude, about 3 weeks after delivery

My situation was much like most of yours except that it was further complicated by a few things.

There was the laboring for hours unmedicated (which was exactly what I wanted) and the unexpected cesarean at the end (which was exactly what I feared the most) and so many feelings of disappointment following those experiences.

There was the recovery that results from pushing for more than three hours only to have a doctor tell you to please hold on while I push him back up a little so we can wheel you to the O.R.

And then there was the breastfeeding.

Oh, the breastfeeding.

When I took my Bradley class* before I delivered Jude, we had a session on breastfeeding and all of the wonderful benefits that come along with it.  Focused on unmedicated childbirth, the class informed me that there would be a beautiful moment when my child entered the world, when he was laid on me skin to skin, and he’d latch on beautifully and thus we would begin our loving breastfeeding relationship.  There was some mention of a few latch problems that you can correct should they arise so that you can get the baby drinking most efficiently, but all in all, breastfeeding was introduced as a perfectly natural thing that our bodies were designed to do.  It is beautiful and natural, of course, but what I was completely unprepared for is that it is HARD for some women.

Unfortunately, because of the nature of my delivery, Jude was about 3 hours old when I first got to hold him.  After he was delivered by cesarean, I remained in surgery for about 2 hours.  When we were finally in our postpartum room together, my wonderful doula helped me get proper positioning for breastfeeding.  We tried, but little Jude just couldn’t stay awake.  We’d missed the “magic window” just after birth, and he was so tired and I’m sure influenced by the drugs in my system as well.  He never truly latched on, but at least we got the positioning down before she left and told me to call her the next day if I needed her.

The day following Jude’s birth, I had some colostrum coming in and we were working diligently on nursing.  At the first sign of hunger, I’d bring him to my breast as you should, and he’d seem to be nursing hungrily.  The lactation consultant who helped me that day, however, pointed out that we could see a deep dimple in his cheek and that was a clue he wasn’t latching on correctly.  She assured me that he’d get it if we kept working, and so we did.  Around the clock.  Again and again.  Subsequent LCs who came to help me noticed the same thing, and the third one vaguely mentioned Jude’s tongue-tie as a challenge, but that was it.

Meanwhile I was growing more and more tired and Jude was growing hungry.  The evening before we left the hospital, Jude was angry.  He would respond to my attempts to nurse him by crying at my breast and refusing to suck.  I now understand that he’d learned to associate breastfeeding with frustration because he wasn’t getting much of anything as a result of his tight frenulum and my slow-to-happen milk. My milk hadn’t come in – partially because of the cesarean and, I think, partially because his inefficient latch wasn’t stimulating my milk production accurately.  Frustrated and crying, I felt like a complete failure as I looked at my hungry baby and felt so helpless.  Late that night, a nurse suggested that I give him formula, and I absolutely refused.  I was scared of nipple confusion, and this was not the way things were supposed to be.  What was wrong with me? First I couldn’t deliver my baby vaginally and now I can’t breastfeed.  I was waiting for it all to “click” for the both of us.  The next morning, however, the pediatrician came in and told us that Jude had lost a lot of weight (12 ounces down from his birth weight) and that supplementation would be a good idea.  When she left, I cried my eyes out, and Scott gave Jude his first formula bottle.

I left the hospital feeling helpless and out of control and dependent on doctors and formula and bottles and pain meds and everything I wanted to avoid when I imagined my birth experience.

This story could become very long – even longer than it is – so I’ll spare you the details, but I will say that the days and weeks that followed were filled with many moments of excitement and joy, yes.  But they were also filled with moments of intense frustration and feelings of inadequacy as I absolutely COULD NOT get Jude to latch on and my milk supply was meager. I sought the help of FIVE different lactation consultants and the counsel of my experienced doula after I left the hospital, and we tried every single day for 27 days before we got it.  Let me re-phrase this, JUDE DID NOT TRULY FEED FROM ME, NOT EVEN ONCE, UNTIL HE WAS 27 DAYS OLD.  Establishing breastfeeding was truthfully the most difficult and trying thing I have ever done in my life and, to date, it’s my proudest accomplishment.  I’m proud to say we’re going strong at 6 months, and every second of hard work was worth it!

In conjunction with Amy’sFiner Things ‘s “Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me” series concerning pregnancy, babies, and birth, I’ve simplified the breastfeeding lessons I learned in my month-long journey to contribute.  Oh, the things I wish I’d known!

  • The breast pump can be your saving grace.  Hopefully you will have an easier time than me, and you won’t have to deal with the pump until later if ever.  For me though, it is the only reason I’m still breastfeeding.  My milk came in a tiny little trickle on day 5, but it didn’t really come in until day 8.  And in order for that to happen (and to keep it going until Jude latched), I had to pump 8-12 times a day around the clock.  There is nothing more draining than getting a newborn back to sleep, and then sitting on the floor of the nursery in your sleep-deprived haze and staying awake for another 20 minutes to pump.  It stinks, I know.  But if I hadn’t done this, I am confident that I’d be one of those women saying that I just never made milk.  Even with the pump, I didn’t have tons. Without it, I think I would have leaked and then dried.
  • Don’t underestimate the benefits of skin-to-skin.  We all know it’s important in the moments after birth, but did you know it’s helpful in the weeks following delivery as well?  The 4th LC I spoke with told me to sit around as often as I could with no shirt on and Jude in his diaper lying on my chest.  We lounged like this every hour of every day unless we had company.  We co-slept at night like this for 2 months.  The day after I started doing more skin-to-skin (around day 12, I think), I saw my milk supply double.  It works, I swear.  My husband started calling me “The Native” because of my shirtless habits, but I think it was a sort of rebirth for Jude and I after our difficult journey.
  • Don’t beat yourself up if you have to supplement. I really really did not want to use any formula.  That said, my milk wasn’t there till day 8.  What was the other option?  After my milk came in, the pump was all I could do for 27 days.  A breast pump is less efficient than a baby, so even pumping around the clock, I had to supplement with about 8-10 ounces of formula daily.  Once Jude latched on, however, my supply went up to accommodate his needs within about a week.  At that time, I swore off all formula which brings me to the next point.
  • Never use formula for the sake of convenience. Nursing is “putting in your order” for the next day.  If you ask your body for 20 ounces, it will deliver.  If you ask for 24, it will deliver. (Usually anyway.  There are, of course, thyroid issues and breast surgeries that can interfere with milk production.)  If you have issues with milk production, don’t worry.  Lots of women do, myself included.  There are a number of remedies and such to help it.  A quick internet search can tell you some, but fenugreek works especially well for me.  That and LOTS of WATER.  Trust that God will allow you to provide for your baby.
  • Surround yourself with positivity. Ignore the nay-sayers.  In that difficult month of establishing breastfeeding, I completely avoided the conversation with someone if I knew that person was not 110% pro-breastfeeding.  I have a few friends and in-laws who are not necessarily anti-breastfeeding, but they have a sort of take-it-or-leave-it attitude about it, thinking that breast and formula feeding are basically equal and formula is more convenient.  I didn’t want those people influencing my determination or convincing me that lots of women can’t breastfeed.  (Some people say this is true….  I just read that over 60% of women say they can’t breastfeed!  Realize that statistically that number is actually 2-5%.  With the right support and determination, almost anyone can do it. )  Tell yourself you CAN do it, and surround yourself with people who realize how important it is to you and support your journey.  I would not be breastfeeding Jude if it weren’t for the encouragement of my mom, my sister, my husband, and my breastfeeding friends.
  • Don’t give up! Just look at my story.  Know that your body and your baby were designed for this very task, and it will work if you keep trying and be patient.  When I tell a childless person that it took us 27 days, she doesn’t really seem that affected.  When I tell a mother that it took 27 days, she is amazed…knowing how incredibly LONG that first month can feel.  There were moments when I was afraid our window had passed, but I refused to accept failure and knew that Jude would catch on eventually and my body would provide.
  • Set a goal and commit to it. For me, when Jude wasn’t latching on, I said even if I had to pump around the clock, I was committed to 10 weeks.  Once he latched on, I soon had to go back to work.  Nevertheless, I decided no matter how much I hated pumping, I refused to stop before 6 months.  Now we’ve met that goal, and I intend to make it to 10 months.  At that time, I’l reassess.  Set a goal and hold yourself accountable.
  • Read about the benefits of breastfeeding.  It’ll motivate you to not give up.  You can find articles everywhere but here, here and here are a few to get you started.
  • Use the experts.  It took a team of people to get me breastfeeding!  As I said before, I saw FIVE LCs after I left the hospital, a pediatric ENT (to evaluate Jude’s tongue-tie and clip the frenulum), and a pediatric OT (who gave me daily exercises to do with him to improve his overly compressed suck).  Most major hospitals have a Lactation Department.  Use them.
  • The rewards are better than you can imagine.  It helps you bond with your baby, and it allowed me to feel so much more confidence as a mother.  You can rest assured you are making the best choices for your baby. Plus there’s no sterilizing and filling bottles in the middle of the night or as you pack the diaper bag!

When it all gets to be too much, just relax. Babies can tell when mama is stressed.  There were moments I was intensely frustrated with my situation and disappointed with myself.  When those feelings became overwhelming, I’d take a deep breath and rest with the baby.  Know it will work for you if you keep trying.


*I don’t mean for this to be a negative statement about my experiences in a Bradley class.  It taught me so much about labor and delivery and the many modern interventions that can occur.  When it comes to breastfeeding, however, it wasn’t extensive.  I would suggest that you take a class specifically devoted to breastfeeding information.


Boobies.

Boobs have been following me everywhere these last few days.  Seriously.  Or maybe I’m following them.  I don’t know.

Monday morning I awoke to a throbbing right boob as a result of a thrush problem we’ve been experiencing lately.  Jude has some oral medication for it, and my O.B. got something to me yesterday, so the wincing during feedings is disappearing already.

Additionally, I ran across this fabulous article yesterday and accidentally incited an Epic Facebook War by linking to it.  Apparently I’m a Lactation Nazi or something because I think 12% is an incredibly low number to breastfeed into the 6th month.  Anyway.  That’s neither here nor there, but have a look at it.  Some of it is stuff we all know, but the benefits of breastfeeding are presented in a dollar amount which I had never really thought of before.  It seems a little exaggerated perhaps, but I love that the piece ran in major newspapers and is getting mainstream exposure.  Maybe those LLL freaks know something after all.

Then, I ran across this gem earlier today that basically asserts that pumping on the job will ruin your career, so women should hang it up when they head back to work.  Ms. Ruth Mantell (who had a luxurious 6 month maternity leave, by the way) actually has the nerve to state, “While a can of premium formula comes with a premium price tag, feeding infants with formula uses less of one of mom’s most precious resources: time.” Ummmm, what? God forbid I spend TIME with my INFANT.  Everyone knows babies should never require any time, right?  Having managed to pump and work full-time for the past 14 weeks, I could write and write and write about this, but I’ve reached my boobie quotient for the week.

Tomorrow afternoon consists of a haircut (a daring one by my standards) and a pedicure.  Happily, no more pondering boobies for me.  They’re there.  I use them.  I’m happy to use them for the betterment of my baby’s health.  In summation, that’s all.  I’m boobied out.