Monday, January 31, 2011

Snow Day Giveaway!!

Hey, it's a snow-day, a snowy, beautiful day, and so I thought that such a pretty snowy day required a pretty smelling giveaway. Here's the goods:

Burt's Bees Baby Bee Shampoo and Wash! One bottle to a winner by random draw. You can enter by doing one of the following:
1. Leave a comment on my blog about a topic/subject you'd like to see posts on, or about your favorite post! or...
2. Email me a post of your original work at for publishing on my blog. No length or subject requirements, as long as it's in the ballpark of motherhood.

The drawing will take place on Friday, February 4th. Good luck!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

our little Lydia

Just taking some time this morning to write about our daughter and other musings before she wakes up. The mornings, although early, are so peaceful here. Hot tea, blogging and a sleeping baby. Mmmm.
Lydia is just over four months old. Today we're heading north to visit Grandpa and Grandma Freeman up in Brainerd, which will give me time to work on Lydia's baby book. Road trips are really the only time I have to get at recording her life; we went up there for Dad's wedding in October and I think that's the last time I've really written some solid material. I thought I would be one of those moms to catalog every move, every smile, every little milestone, in a journal, but alas, this is not the case. If I'm lucky to get a few pictures of her a week, that's an accomplishment. Whenever we get around to it, our second child probably won't feel like he/she got the shaft, because Lydia's albums won't be THAT thick. Thick, but not extremely so.

That said, I do love taking her pictures and writing in her baby book. Even though I don't get around to it that often, each entry and photo reminds me that she is growing so incredibly fast.
When your little one is permanently attached to you, you really don't notice how quickly they change. Other people hold her and I'm amazed at how big she is. But when her daddy holds her, and she looks tiny in his arms, it calms me to recognize that she is still my little baby.
Little things that have made me smile in the last month or so:
  • The other night she fell asleep in the shower, snuggled up close to Charlie.
  • She has this thing where, if she's feeling particularly mischievous, she'll tuck her chin to her chest, raise her eyes to you, and grin with her eyebrows raised. Hilarious.
  • She has favorites. A favorite blanket, a favorite toy (her elephant, Horton Hears a Whoozer), favorite songs.
  • Feeding her little bites of bananas has been so fun.
  • We discovered when my friend Bethany was here that she loves (loves) playing with a glass of water. The only thing is that she gets over-excited way too fast with it, and ends up dissolving in a puddle of tears and water because she just.can'!
  • I had to go through and sort out all her clothes into 6-9-12 months. All her 0-3's are put away, which is both great and painstaking. I washed all of them one last time and put them in bins, not to see the light of day again until we have another little girl, or until Lydia or her subsequent siblings have girls.
  • She fits into the Carhartt overalls I bought her in Alaska. So cute.
  • Charlie and I got her to cackle and giggle by bouncing her around the house going "bum-bum-bum-bum...". She loves the noise and the motion, and one of us bounces her while the other's our first family game that she's absolutely delighted with!
  • She fell asleep on my chest yesterday and I realized that I couldn't hold her little butt in one hand anymore. It took two. Wait, this made me cry, not smile.
Breastfeeding is going great, almost too great. Still not even close to comfortably taking a bottle, which is unfortunate and annoying at times. I went to a martial arts class the other night and came back to a screaming baby who refused over and over to take a bottle; this is not good! It's no use for me to try, but I think we could do better at doing it more often when Charlie's here at the house. My only caveat with doing so is that I can barely keep up with pumping enough as it is. When she does take a bottle, she runs with it and drinks 10-12oz at a time, totally taking out my little cache of milk in the freezer. So the prospect of pumping more and trying to sequester another stash for practice is daunting, to say the least.
We've started some solids, just for fun and not to replace breastmilk at all. She's actually eaten bananas and loves them, but has only tasted apples, celery, gravy (don't ask), pumpkin and a variety of other foods that I swipe her lips with as I cook. She loves smelling spices and other aromatics. I can't wait to order her a little chef coat...she can be my sous chef! You can't start a kid too early in the kitchen. I have friends up in Alaska whose children are better bakers than I am, and probably just as good at handling a ten-inch blade too.
And oh, she's sassy. We were warned that she'd take after us, but I just never expected her personality to beam through so quickly. She's snarky, full of the dickens, and a complete love. I observe her playing with her toys, interacting with her world and the people in it, and she takes in everything and processes it with a speed I didn't think possible. So observant, even with her one-second attention span. I am going to have my hands full when she's mobile!
That's about all she wrote. Time to check on my sleeping little one and start my day (again). Have a fantastic weekend and we'll be back at it next week. If anyone out there would like to write a post (or another one, if you've already contributed), please let me know!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

From Notivation to Motivation

So even though I can't claim that anything on my body is "baby" weight (I only gained two pounds with Lydia), I am still approaching weight loss and becoming healthier from a perspective of postpartum need. I focused so much on being healthy, eating correctly, choosing organic and unprocessed, exercising and staying strong during my pregnancy, and my drive has vanished along with all the energy I thought I'd have once Lydia was born. Not getting up to pee every hour should increase my daily energy, right? Alas, not so much.

I put out a FB status update saying I needed a personal trainer, which was cheeky but pretty much true; I'll be truthful when I say that I am NOT great at holding myself accountable and being honest with where my body's at. But I need to be. I need to pin myself to the fact that my current trajectory is unhealthy, and puts me at risk for heart disease, diabetes, painful joints and more.

I'm not traveling this life alone anymore. My beautiful daughter and amazing partner are beginning to awaken a need inside me to become healthier, to live stronger and with more deliberate action toward wellness and good energy. We've already made some steps in the right direction:

1. Taking control of what we eat. We're trying to incorporate more fresh fruits and veggies, but being bread-and-cheese people make this difficult. I would much rather eat a cheese sandwich than an apple or carrot sticks, or a cheesy/creamy pasta instead of stir-fry. So would Charlie. And our portions are abysmal. At Christmas we patted each other on the back for only having one plate and not going back for seconds at our family's holiday dinner, but that joy was short-lived as one of us realized that our "one plate" was actually someone else's two. Baby steps! :)

2. I have realized that I'll never "find" time to work out, but rather I have to "MAKE" time to do so. I have a great picture of myself on the fridge that was supposed to serve as motivation...I'm running in a cross-country meet in the photo, and my legs look stellar! I looked at it today and remembered never actually having the time to run in high school, yet somehow I put in 75 miles a week and wore a size 8. Part of the motivation was running with the team...I loved running with my co-captain and the other girls (Oh yeah, I was a captain).

3. Realize that stressing about our current situation with finances and feeling like we're spinning our wheels won't help, but being productive will. Bettering our lives isn't just about our bodies. It's about the huge stack of papers I have to sort and deal with, the dishwasher that needs to be emptied, the projects in our spare bedroom-office that I want to tackle. It's about finding the balance of meeting Lydia's needs, Charlie's needs and my own. It's about focusing on making my relationships just as healthy as I want to be, and I think that being more productive and lessening any burdens I can around our home will be beneficial.

So there's a few ideas. I may or may not find a trainer, but I've definitely found a light of integrity and dedication that will grow over time. And now I'm going for a walk :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Doulas: a most certain DO!

About the time I found out there weren't many midwives in the area in southwest MN where we'd be having Lydia, someone asked me whether or not we were planning on having a doula present at the birth. I hadn't thought about it, mainly because I had no idea what a doula was. Now I know that having a doula is a completely necessary thing during birth, especially in this area.
Doulas are trained birth assistants, present during a birth and usually for a time postpartum as directed by the mother. Some doulas do a lot of pre-birth visiting and monitoring of the mother's physical and emotional health. Doulas coach parents in childbirth practices, laboring positions, healthy lifestyles before and after baby is born, and emotionally support a mother's decisions during birth. Without reciting the entire website, a fantastic place to go for more information is DONA International, the website for all registered doulas. If you are interested in looking for one in the area, surprisingly New Horizons Crisis Center has a brochure and listing on many doulas in southwest MN. I can get it for anyone who's thinking about it!

As for the medical benefits of having a doula, I copied and pasted this from another one of my favorite blogs, Birthing Beautiful Ideas. Her post on doulas was fantastic, and this is an excerpt:

Doula support has multiple (and unique) benefits for both moms and babies.

I couldn’t say it any better than this (from DONA International):

Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula’s presence at birth

  • tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications
  • reduces negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience
  • reduces the need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction and cesareans
  • reduces the mother’s request for pain medication and/or epidurals

Research shows parents who receive support can:

  • Feel more secure and cared for
  • Are more successful in adapting to new family dynamics
  • Have greater success with breastfeeding
  • Have greater self-confidence
  • Have less postpartum depression
  • Have lower incidence of abuse

In a word, doula support is truly invaluable for a woman and her partner!

Our doula, Ruthie, is from Cottonwood. We loved her to pieces. I was able to get in contact with her through a chiropractor in Marshall. Our first meeting was in August, and we (Charlie, myself and Ruthie) discussed the finer points of what kind of birth Charlie and I were seeking to attain, what I was taking for vitamins and herbal supplements, how I was feeling, how Charlie pictured being a part of the birth, and how she could further support us in finishing out a healthy pregnancy. Our second visit with her, in later August, dove more into how Charlie and I could be strong together during labor, and we tried out different laboring positions that could help bring Lydia into the world with more ease and grace (HA).

After our second visit, Ruthie and I stayed in touch via texting, and waited for Lydia to arrive. I texted her probably three or four times a week, asking questions about what Lydia was doing in there, how I was feeling, what supplements could help my symptoms of fatigue and stress...pretty much any question I could think of. She gladly answered them for me, and encouraged me to stay in close contact as our due date came and went. Finally, on a clear and sunny Sunday morning, I called her while experiencing cramps and contractions 6-10 minutes apart. We talked about the fact that we'd chosen to labor at home as long as possible just the two of us, Charlie and I, and that she would meet us at the hospital in Luverne when we decided to take off.
When we all got to the hospital around midnight, Ruthie kept a calm presence for Charlie and I in the labor/delivery room. Throughout the night I remember her quiet, meditative help in keeping me centered on what I was doing. She offered gentle suggestions on how to alleviate my pain, and kept Charlie feeling positive and reassured our friend Lani that everything was going fine during our birth. Charlie and I mainly worked together to birth our daughter, but she took over when Charlie was fatigued from the work of helping me out, and gave him ideas as to what he could do for me--letting me hang onto one of her tools called a rebozo (I'll explain later), feed me applesauce and lots of water, push me to do squats and hip circles, rest on my hands and knees over our birth ball...lots of different things to do instead of laying on a bed!
I'm pulling with all my might on a rebozo in the picture above. A rebozo is a long piece of woven fabric designed to withstand some heavy use during a birth. Ruthie used it with me in different ways: tying a knot in one end, hanging it over a closed door and letting me hang on it to do squats, pulling on it in a tug-of-war with me during a contraction, wrapping it around Charlie's neck and letting me hang from him doing squats, and pulling on it while wrapped around the squat bar during the actual pushing and birth process. Ruthie had other things she'd packed in her doula bag for us too, but the rebozo stood out the most to me. I suppose a person could use a pashmina or a similar tightly woven scarf, but a rebozo would probably be the best bet. I wouldn't want it to rip during a birth!
While I was pushing, Ruthie helped me to envision how to push, when, and told me what I'd be feeling. After Lydia was born, Ruthie helped me to establish breastfeeding (our first latch was done using the football hold) and then she left us to revel in the glory of our new baby. She came down to Slayton a couple days after Lydia was born to check in with us, help us with the new baby, and brought us some homemade granola (YUM) and a cute outfit for Lydia. In one of the pictures she's teaching us how to get gas out of the little one's tummy by bicycling her legs and massaging her abdomen, something that came in very useful in the days to come. I hadn't yet mastered getting Lydia latched properly, and so she was taking in a lot of air along with her meals. Problems solved!

I highly, mightily and happily encourage anyone who's having a baby to consider the services of a doula, especially if you're at all nervous about the following:

1. Being able to stand up for your beliefs during your birth. Your doula will act as your birthing advocate, and will support your decisions. She will remind doctors and nurses of your wishes, and will keep you focused on your birth without compromising your beliefs. If you don't want something to happen and you've already told the doctors and nurses, she'll make sure to keep your wishes at their first priority.

2. What your partner will do during your birth. Having a baby can put tremendous strain on a couple. Whether or not your husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/special person is going to be in the room and helping you, a doula can provide services to the both of you as you work at bringing the little one into the world. She helped Charlie figure out how to best help me during labor, and all of the nurses and our doctor said they'd NEVER seen a more involved and dedicated birth partner than Charlie. I threw out his back, breathed my horrid sick breath in his face, screamed and cried in his ear...and he still stayed by my side and labored with me till we had Lydia in our arms. And then there are husbands who faint at the sight of blood, think that birth and breastfeeding are gross, and have no willingness or ability whatsoever to help or support their loved one. Doulas can provide support in the absence of a partner, or champion a couple through laboring on their own.

Has anyone else had a doula out there during a birth? After reading this, would you be willing to see if having the services of a doula at your next birth would be for you?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Things I Never Thought I'd Be Able to Do

I'm glad to be back after a short hiatus from posting. I have been doing a lot of research on a topic near and dear to my heart, but have yet to formulate a blog post for it. In the meantime, a post with gravity and sweetness from a friend of mine who also happens to have a little Lydia! Melissa highlights a few of her accomplishments in motherhood in her post. Thank you, Melissa, for addressing the sheer bravery it takes to get through some of the things you mentioned. :) Who thought that poop would be a topic of conversation nearly every day? Or that I would go through daily life covered in drool, poop, pee, breastmilk and spit up? We've all been there, and that's why Melissa's words are so refreshing. Thanks doll!

Things I Never Thought I’d Be Able to Do

I’ve been a mom to a little girl, Lydia Claire, for a little over eight months. She was born on May 13, 2010, which was five days after my due date. Over the past 17 months, I’ve learned many new things, some of which I thought I’d never be capable of. Here goes the list of things I now know I can do…

Being pregnant. And not passing out about knowing it. I once got my pinky slammed in between a piano bench and the keys on a piano. I had to go to the doctor to find out if it was broken, and I almost passed out on the examination table having to hear an explanation of what was wrong with my (only bruised) finger. This was not the first, nor the last example of this problem. What can I say? I’m a lightweight when it comes to medical issues. I had imagined hundreds, if not thousands of times, spending 9+ months nauseas and woozy, simply because of knowing there was a bambino in my belly. So…when I found out I was, in fact, in the family way, I was surprisingly calm (*Disclaimer: I was NOT calm taking the test and waiting for it to work!) after the test stopped flashing. Not once did I ever feel nauseas or woozy knowing I was pregnant. I handled the whole deal like a true champ.

Going through labor. If the thought of being pregnant had the potential to give me the woozies, thinking about labor – actual labor – made me a little queasy. Most of my nine months (and five days…those five days are important and not to be forgotten… just ask my husband! Haha!) went off without a hitch. However… some days, it would hit me like a ton of bricks out of nowhere: “This baby has to come out of where?! Although I was scared to death sometimes during my pregnancy, once I was actually induced into labor, things progressed slowly, yet quickly enough that I could handle each new change that came my way. In the end, I labored for 10 hours, 54 minutes, including about 45 minutes of pushing. I’m not going to lie, it hurt like hell. Though I had to be on oxygen to regulate my breathing, had suffered a stage three tear, and felt like I had just battled a school bus, I’m proud of myself for being able to do what I did. Besides, when you’re someone’s mom, you have to buck up sometimes.

Breastfeeding. I had always intended to be a breastfeeding mom. I knew the benefits of doing so and making it through the first year was a goal that I felt was easily attainable. It also helped that the lactation consultant for the hospital I doctored/childbirth classed/delivered at is a good family friend and I knew I could ask any question any time I needed to. Lydia started life as a natural nurser (Hey, I teach English to high-schoolers…I can make up ANY word I want to!). She latched on well and we worked well together as a team. Even though we work through it well together, some days I don’t want to be a breastfeeding mom anymore. Some days (okay, and nights) I don’t want to get out of my warm bed to sit and pump. And pump. And pump. Some days I want to spend my prep. hour at school doing something work related. Not pumping. Some days, I just simply don’t want to be a milk machine anymore. And some days I just. don’t. want. to. do. it. anymore. BUT…I’ve made it eight months now. At first I told myself “Self, if you can make it 6 months, you’ve done good.” The six-month mark came, and I told myself I could make it just one more month. When “just one more month” came, I convinced myself that the old girls had another month in them. While it’s been overall a wonderful experience, it hasn’t always been the most fun and sometimes I just don’t want to do it anymore. For that, I am proud of myself for pressing on in nursing. It hasn’t always been easy to want to continue.

Getting Barfed Upon. And pooped on. And pee’d on. And spit on. And snotty-nosed on. So, anyone that knows me will attest to the fact that I gag. A lot. Smells make me gag, as do certain textures in food. I gag just thinking about gross things sometimes. It’s not a nice little grossed-out thought that I think I’m gagging about. No, it’s an all-out, if-you’re-watching-you-think-I-will-literally-throw-up-on-you kind of gag. All of that seems to go out the window when you have a child. Now it’s not that I don’t gag every once in a while. We’ve moved on to eating more baby food in our house lately. If you think that poop stinks when it’s just a milk poop, baby food poops have WAY more potency. Sometimes I still gag about the smell, but in all honesty, the thought of being projectile vomited upon (or any other bodily function) is not so gross anymore. It happens the first time and you think “Oh, I’m SO glad that finally came out!” Which leads me to my next accomplishment…

Being Excited About Poop. I don’t think I need to explain this one. The old adage goes “When Momma ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy.” Once baby came, the saying (at our house at least) could be “When baby aint’ pooping ain’t nobody happy… or sleeping…or playing nicely…or being pleasant!” Poop = happiness. Enough said.

This list could really go on, and it grows by the day. I always thought that motherhood would come naturally, and to a point, it has. With that said, there are some things that took a little getting used to, and, I’ll be honest, a little will-power and “mustering” of strength on my part. Being a mom hasn’t been easy all the time, but with the help of the momunity (yep, another new made-up word…like community for moms), I make it through the tough times. Having friends who are moms – whether they are online, at work, or on the phone -- has been a lifesaver for me, not only to ask questions, but for moral support. Life with Lydia has been beautiful. Motherhood has been the hardest, most natural time of my life and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Baby Bradley: A Preemie Story

Thank you to Jenny for sharing such an incredible post about her baby son, Bradley, born prematurely. What a struggle your family endured to bring your son to health! I am not familiar with the intensive energy and love it takes to care for a premature baby, and I certainly appreciate your giving us a new perspective on mothering a newborn preemie. Your concern over the supplemental formula is valid...I as well question why, when you were producing such an abundance of colostrum and milk, they felt the need to add in formula. Like your milk didn't have everything Bradley needed already in it? And like you couldn't nurse him more if he so desperately needed extra calories?

Anyway, without further ado, Bradley's birth story:

Well, I have wanted to contribute to this blog for a while now but have never really known what to add. With all the comments on nursing and birth experiences I decided I would weigh in on the subject and add my experience as a mother of a preemie.

My preemie was my second child – I am a mother of 4 children – 4 ½, 3 ½, 2 and 4 months. My pregnancy was not out of the ordinary - some mild morning sickness and fatigue but an overall healthy pregnancy with no complications. When I was about 30 weeks pregnant we went to the Boundary Waters camping and had a great time. We came back and about 3 days later my knee locked up and I had meniscal knee surgery at 33 weeks pregnant. The baby was monitored very closely through surgery and did extremely well. I did fine after surgery and felt great. I did not take any pain meds in fear of what side effects they may have.

About 5 days after my surgery at 34 weeks pregnant I started having some cramping/contractions and bleeding. I called my midwife and was told to come in. I was in the hospital having my contractions monitored. I was not dilating and my contractions were not regular. Being at 34 weeks I was in the gray zone for trying to stop labor. After about 3-4 hours of monitoring they were preparing to send me home when I suddenly started having much more intense contractions and I suddenly dilated to a 3. My husband and one year old child were in the hospital this entire time with me. I was immediately admitted and told that I was going to have this baby today. I was in tears immediately and didn’t know why this was happening. What had I done wrong? What was going to happen? Would my little boy be okay? I felt like a terrible mother.

I knew I had to make it through labor and delivery and my little guy maintained well through the entire process allowing me to avoid an emergency c-section. The only issue I had through the entire labor process was that I spiked a fever but I was already receiving IV antibiotics since we did not have a Group B Strep result.

I delivered in the OR in the event that an emergency c-section would need to be performed and since the NICU staff needed to be on hand. As he delivered, the cord was immediately cut – my husband was not even given the opportunity – and my little boy was whisked away. I only had a quick glimpse of him as he was run through the doors. This was nothing like my first experience or any of my experiences for that matter. He did not cry for a little while and I was experiencing shock. I was taken back to a room to recover and left alone not knowing how my baby was doing. About 2-3 hours later I was finally taken to the NICU to see my baby. He was laying there with so many cords, an IV through his umbilical stump and was on a ventilator. I was only in there for a brief moment before I was again separated from him and told I need to rest. I still could not believe my little 4 lb 3oz, 17 inch baby boy was in this world. It all seemed like a bad dream.

Like Melanie, I was left with a breastpump and told to pump every 3 hours to get my milk to come in. I did so faithfully still blaming myself for Bradley’s early arrival in this world. At about 12 hours old Brad was overbreathing the ventilator and was able to breath on his own, but we were still far from out of the woods. At about 3 days of age he was found to have some common heart defects in preemie babies and needed to be put on meds to help take care of them which was going to delay milk feedings by another few days. Finally on day 5 I was able to hold my precious little boy, but only for a little while before the nurses made me put him back since he was not able to maintain his body temperature. Day 10 he was finally given breastmilk through a tube but was still not allowed to nurse since he has started having apnea episodes. He was sometimes having up to 13 episodes a day. I pumped for him every 3 hours around the clock. It was very emotionally and physically draining. Even though I was told this wasn’t my fault I blamed myself. I was made at God. Why was this happening to me? I had a one year old at home that needed me. I had a baby in the hospital that needed me. The nurses are telling me I don’t need to be there all the time, but it’s my little boy laying there. I was so torn. Finally at about 2 weeks of age, I was allowed to nurse my little boy for the very first time. He was a champ!! He did absolutely amazing right from the start. I was so happy. We had been told it may not go well but he did great. I was only allowed to nurse once a day since he was still having multiple apnea episodes daily.

Finally at 5 weeks old we were able to take him home! He left the hospital with an apnea monitor but he was home. We were told to allow him to nurse and then supplement with a bottle after every feeding to be sure he was getting enough. The bottle was to be formula – Neosure. Why? For extra calories?!? I was pumping about 12 ounces every morning and was able to pump 3 ounces after a feeding and about 5-6 if he wasn’t eating. There was plenty of milk for him. At a check up 2 days after coming home he had gained 4 ounces and we discontinued the supplement. He was doing well. We did end up having the apnea monitor for about 3 months but he did well!

My Bradley is now a strong healthy boy but I still get very emotional over the entire thing. There are some things that happened during his stay that bring up other points for another topic but for now this is enough. This was a very emotional experience and very challenging for me as an individual and for us as a couple. I spent a lot of time blaming myself. There are days I still ask why? Or what could have I done differently to prevent this? But then I look at him and realize he is a perfectly normal, healthy little boy and I did everything I could for him despite the circumstances.

Friday, January 14, 2011

When breastfeeding doesn't work: Melanie's experience

Thank you to Melanie for submitting a post on a related subject: when breastfeeding simply doesn't work. I can't imagine the emotional and physical turmoil you encountered during your experience. Your words humbled me tonight; Lydia has been keeping me up at night nursing, and at times I forget to be grateful that we can do so at all. Without further ado, Melanie's post:

A Happy Mom is Best for Baby!

I had the perfect pregnancy; no morning sickness, minimal weight gain and enough energy to stay active my whole pregnancy. I was also planning on having the perfect delivery, snuggling into the big double hospital bed with my husband and new baby and trying to breastfeed (although I must admit this was the part of motherhood I was most nervous about).

However, Adam arrived about three and half weeks early. After 30 hours of labor (I finally got IV pain meds at hour 27), I was able to have a normal delivery. When Adam was born he didn’t cry when they placed him in my arms and the doctor said to my husband, “Dad hurry up and cut the cord, we don’t have time. “

Soon after I was all put back together, my parents were able to come in the room and then we heard that Adam was making grunting sounds, was on oxygen and would need to be transferred to another hospital. Later (much later), I found out that my baby was quite critical. About three hours after birth I got to hold my boy before he received his very first ambulance ride to Omaha. My doctor told me I could be released in the morning so I could go be with Adam-thank goodness she is an anti-c-section doctor!

So my first night as a mom I was left alone with a breast pump instead of my baby and was told to start trying to get out some liquid gold. I pumped faithfully for the next few days because I knew it was the one thing I could do for Adam since I couldn’t hold him or cuddle him.

About 5 days after birth the nurses came to me and said that Adam could try to nurse. Trying to feed Adam was very difficult. He wouldn’t latch on and eventually I had to use a shield. We tried hard for three or four days, seeing a number of lactation consultants, but Adam just wouldn’t stay awake to nurse. After trying for at least an hour and a half each time, I would usually ask the nurses to come and get him and then they would supplement him through his feeding tube. I then had to leave to pump because he didn’t eat enough to empty me out.

About a week after his birth, Adam nursed good three times while in the hospital so I didn’t pump that day. The next day, I felt my right breast becoming hot and hard. I showed the lactation consultant and she instructed me to try hot packs, pump every 2 hours even during the night and call my doctor for antibiotics. I did just that and the pain went away within 5 days. Trying to avoid putting antibiotics in Adam’s milk, I stopped the antibiotics-advice-don’t ever stop antibiotics!

Adam was able to come home at 2 weeks. We decided in the hospital that he would receive a bottle at night so he could get the feeding tube out of his nose. The plan was to bottle feed and pump and work on nursing when we got home. Adam did okay but was just seemed to be a much happier baby when he got his bottle.

The morning after Thanksgiving, I woke up with terrible pain, was shaking and almost passed out. I knew my mastitis was back and I knew there was no way to take care of my baby. I called my family who just happened to be here to visit to come immediately. Thank goodness for them because I was so sick I could not take care of Adam. I continued to pump and started my antibiotic again and headed to the doctor.

This cycle continued. It seemed like every Thursday I would have a flare up, especially if my antibiotics were gone. I wanted to stop pumping so bad (by this time I had given up on nursing-he just wasn’t interested), but I didn’t know how because I was so afraid that giving Adam formula was the wrong decision and I was very afraid of how my body would react if I stopped pumping. I was full of guilt for hating pumping and for wanting to give formula. Everywhere I looked I saw the breast is best saying and the tears would come rolling down my face. This happened on one of my many trips to the doctor and she told me that I would not be a terrible person for giving Adam formula. She told me that what Adam needed most was a HAPPY mom.

Finally, I began to hear stories from moms who stopped nursing. I thought I was the only one who was not successful. This also helped me to realize that whatever decision I made would be okay.

It seemed that just as I would think about stopping pumping or pumping less often, I would heal up and life would be fine. However, on December 17, two days before I was to be a bridesmaid in a wedding, I got the worst bout of mastitis I had had. It was so bad I pumping out pus and was told to go straight to the ER to make sure I didn’t need to be admitted to the hospital, and of course to keep pumping every two hours. By this time I was really in tears because I knew this had to be it, I could not handle this pain anymore. If I kept pumping wouldn’t I keep producing? I was given a large does of antibiotics, so strong I had to start pumping and dumping. This had to be the end. I very slowly weaned myself off during Christmas while I was taking my antibiotics. That was my last bout and now I am finally happy to say I am done. The last time I pumped was probably one the happiest days I had since Adam was born. I may have done a little dance.

I don’t know why I had so many problems, but I can honestly say I have never been so sick in my life. Not feeling well physically, the stresses of being a new mom and being full of guilt did not make the first weeks of Adam’s life very enjoyable. All of us need to remember to take care of ourselves and remember my doctor’s advice…a happy mom is best for our babies!

By the way, my 5 pound 12 ounce boy now weighs in at 9 pounds 12 ounces at 2 months and is perfectly healthy. We never did figure out the cause of his breathing problems, but we’re happy that he is thriving now.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Motherhood: we're all in this together

I received a few interested parties to my plea for new writers on this blog, and this post was the first one I have received. Heartfelt and determined, I grew weepy reading it. The author, Jennifer, has some amazing things to say. Jen, thank you so much for your words. I'm sure I speak for my readers as well as myself in saying that we appreciate the emotional risks you took in writing this post...thank you for being vulnerable, and exposing a hidden side of motherhood that we need to be aware of! Love to you and your beeeyouteaful daughter :)

And now, her post:

Well here goes nothing! How do you start a blog post anyways. Please bear with me.

To start I am a few things. I am a new mom, I am a fiancé, I am a daughter, and I am me. And who I am plays a lot into the previous roles listed.

I found Katie’s blog when she posted the link on facebook. So, naturally I read it. I love to follow blogs of people I know. I have a plump folder on my favorite file on my internet browser full of links to people’s blogs. I am intrigued by all the differences in everyday lives of people. Maybe that explains my addiction to reality television? That is whole other topic.

Fast forward. Katie asked if anyone wanted to co-author. I thought, well I might like to. I have often thought of starting my own blog. But I never knew what I would write about. I don’t think I am interesting. I go to work, I raise my daughter, I love my fiancĂ© and dog, and I do normal everyday average things.

Katie’s blog peaked my interest. Like Katie, I am a new mom. My daughter is almost 6 months old. So not to much older than Lydia. My pregnancy was a blessed surprise and I would not have changed one moment of it our or new life with our daughter. Katie once posted on facebook how she was grateful that her unborn daughter was healthy. She hit a cord with me. Being my pregnancy was a blessed surprise, when I found out we were having our daughter, the past months of my life haunted me and I replayed every step worrying that I might have done something to harm our unborn daughter. However shortly after, she was born and she has been a bright, happy, healthy baby girl. Sometimes I wonder where she gets all her energy and happiness! Then all the time I wonder what I have done to deserve such a blessing.

Alas, to the point. When I was pregnant I was asked, by all women, “so are you going to nurse”. My laid back, take it as it comes attitude was “I will give it a shot and see how it goes. I am never adamant either way. When our daughter was born she was the text book nurser. She nursed like a champ and I never had any issues physically.

Fast forward. Two weeks passed. I was now nursing and pumping. And I was now getting emotional. I left the room to nurse if people were over. I pumped with the door closed. I felt like a cow. I broke. I could not do it anymore. Looking back I think the post-partum emotions you go through played a lot in this. I weaned our daughter to formula and I endured the painful process of stopping nursing (painful physically). I felt like a failure. I felt like a bad mom. The short statements above show how I felt. I was short with everyone. I was unhappy. Why?

I am to this day not sure why. Being a more private person I never felt comfortable nursing in public. I never felt comfortable talking about nursing when caring women in my life asked. Then reading Katie’s blog it hit me… I really think that some society, some component of society, something I had connection with in my life created a self conscious feeling in me when it came to nursing and what nursing is about.

So here is where I stand. Nursing is a wonderful and natural part of life. What did they do before formula? NURSED! But that was the option so I have a inkling it was “normal”. If you can nurse and pump and provide the natural nutrients for your child, you get a big “you go girl” from me. If, like me, you find yourself struggling emotionally, you or your child can physically not nurse for whatever reason, or it is just not your thing… you get a big “you go girl” from me. Here is the big picture. YOU ARE A MOTHER. YOU PROVIDED LIFE. You have accomplished, what I think, is the biggest feat in life. Either way, it is time as mothers; we support each other’s choices. What we all need to band together on is being a mother period. You choose to cloth diaper your child, more power to you! You choose to use disposable diaper, more power to you. You make your own baby food, you rock! You purchase baby food, you rock! You nurse, you go girl, you provide nutrients for your child through today’s advanced formulas, you go girl.

You, we all, have accomplished, day to day being a mother. Regardless of your style, your beliefs, your politics, your religion, we have one thing in common. We will and do lie down on the line for our child or children to nurture them into being the best people they can be both physically, mentally, and emotionally. Let’s keep the conversations open in all our different parenting ways. Differences are a good thing. We all get to learn. But let’s keep in the back of our mommy minds that we all have being a mother in common, and that is what matters the most.

To end, I wanted in some way to say that in the bigger picture, your choices on how your raise your child are yours and they are right for you and your child. That is why I love reading Katie’s blog. We parent different in some ways. Even though what she does may not work for me, I get to gain greater perspective on different child rearing ideas, thoughts, techniques etc.

Look at yourself, as a mother today in the mirror and tell yourself you can’t not do everything, but you can do ANYTHING. And keep on trucking on momma!