Tag Archives: breastfeeding

Top Posts of 2015

Well, 2015 was a landmark year for me as a writer. I was published on three sites other than my own, and even paid for my work! That’s something that I never thought would happen, and I’m so proud of myself, if I’m allowed a little pat on the back.

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So, in honor of a successful year of writing, AND because tons of my blogger friends were doing this, here are my top five posts from 2015! Thanks for reading, commenting, sharing your lives, caring about mine, and contributing to my success!

Things I’ve Heard at 33 Weeks Pregnant – a hilarious account of all the things that strangers tell you when you’re very obviously pregnant.

10 Tips for Soon-to-Be Moms – a first installment of a series (the second is here!) of tips and tricks for moms, soon-to-be moms, and friends of moms.

Why I Decided to Stop Breastfeeding (and You Can, Too) – my breastfeeding journey with D

Accidental Announcement – that one time I told y’all I was pregnant, but I didn’t mean to.

An Open Letter to Friends Who Don’t Invite Me to Stuff Just Because I Have Kids – because I have feelings, and I still want to hang out!

What were your favorite posts of the year?

Why I Decided To Stop Breastfeeding (And You Can, Too)

Breast is best. Did you know? Breast is best. Everyone tells you that. If you don’t know that, you must be totally secluded from women or parents or doctors.

But if you ask me, sometimes, breast isn’t always best.

There. I said it. For me, breastfeeding has been difficult. I have three children, and I have breastfed all of them for various amounts of time. Two nursed only a few weeks, and the rest of the time were fed with bottles of expressed milk or formula. My middle child managed to nurse for 8 months (an incredible accomplishment for both of us), and even though I was also pumping, my supply wasn’t enough for that to be his only nourishment.

I’ve taken supplements, consumed my weight in water, eaten healthfully and plentifully, done everything I could to keep my supply up… It’s just never worked. For me, no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t keep up with my hungry babies. And in my household, a hungry baby made for an angry baby, which made for stressed mom, which made for upset dad, and very little sleep for all of us. Our sanity was going out the window, so we threw “Breast is best” to the wind, and supplemented with formula. Our babies grew and grew, were happier and happier, are rarely sick and the most fun and intelligent kiddos I know.

Just this week, as my youngest turned four months old, I had a difficult conversation with Hubby. “I’m tired,” I said tearfully. “I’m stressed, and I want those two hours of my day back.” Those two hours I spend pumping. Those were two hours that I could be spending time with my children, writing, reading, showering, folding laundry, or SLEEPING were always sacrificed to the milk machine. I slaved at the pump to get less than three bottles a day for my little guy (who eats like a horse – what will I do when he’s a teenager?!) when I could be feeding him formula and actually playing with him during those times. Instead, my free moments while the kids were asleep, at school, or playing with Daddy were spent in my room getting a few ounces of what everyone told me was the best thing for my child.

So I stopped.

I stopped my supplements. I stopped charting my water intake. I stopped stressing about a schedule. I weaned myself off the pump.

Y’all, it feels great. I’ve gotten more sleep, spent more time with Hubby and the kids, and I’m less stressed about how I’m going to plan those hours into my day. Breast was only best for so long… and then it wasn’t anymore. Don’t crack under the pressure if it’s not working for you. I’m not staying don’t try – you absolutely should give it a shot. For so many, it is the best. But if it’s not, that’s okay. You’re not broken and neither is your child. There are other ways to nourish them, and certainly other ways to bond with them. You do you, mamas, however it works. That is the best.

An Ode to My Breast Pump

 I hear a lot of people say they hate their breast pump. Well, it’s true… we all hate it at least a little bit. Working moms (of which I have been one) often feel like they’re dairy cows, hooked up so often to a feelings-less milk-collector. But now that I’m home with my babes, the breast pump and I have a different relationship, and therefore I will now declare my love for my mean, milk-collecting machine.

Oh, breast pump, how I’ve missed you!
I truly, truly have.
Though if I said that to them,
Some other folks would laugh.
They’d say, “No way! We hate that thing!”
But me? I know the truth.
You have a few perks on your side,
A thing or maybe two.
First of all, I find myself
Engorged beyond belief.
The pain I feel is all too real;
My breasts have just been beat.
So finally I hook you up.
And oh, the sweet release!
For you can do what baby can’t,
And empty me complete.
The second thing I love about you
Is quite a selfish thing.
I cannot use you when I’m surrounded
By my family.
So retreat I will into my room,
For quiet and for peace.
You are the perfect reason to be
By myself a piece.
So there they are, the reasons why
I think you’re not so bad.
I’ll love you still – I always will.
You make my boobies glad.

My Journey as a Mother: Breastfeeding (Part Three)

If you’ve read my other posts about breastfeeding my kids (here and here) you’ll know that breastfeeding has looked different – with varying levels of difficulty – each time. My youngest sweetie, Davis, is three weeks old now, and I can honestly say it’s been another less-than-I-hoped-for sort of journey so far. 

 When D was born, I already had enough experience to know that I needed a nipple shield, so I was armed with it in the delivery room for the first time he nursed. During our hospital stay, he nursed fairly well, despite being pretty sleepy and exhausted – it’s work to be born!

When we got home, he was increasingly difficult to wake up and keep awake to eat well. Therefore, he wasn’t getting enough each time, but would wake often to eat. It wasn’t exactly cluster feeding; it was more that I couldn’t get him to stay awake through a feeding. This was, looking back on it from my spot at three weeks, already making my supply decrease even before he was a week old.

When we went to the pediatrician for his two-week check up, I knew what was going to happen as soon as he got on the scale. He was still 5oz short of his birth weight, and I could see the rest of the visit playing out in my mind. My eyes welled up with tears of fear and guilt before we made it back to our exam room. How could I not be giving my child what he needed? Why was it that my body couldn’t manage to nourish my babies after it had done so well for nine months?

At his two week check up, he was still not back up to his birth weight, and so my pediatrician suggested supplementing with a little formula (or expressed breast milk, of which I had little) after every feeding. She gave me some samples – some ready-to-use and some cans of powdered – so that I wouldn’t have to buy any if I didn’t end up needing it for very long. When we got home that afternoon, we tried our first bottle with a couple of ounces of formula. He was very wary of it, and took some convincing to start eating it. He didn’t have much before we stopped for a burp, and when he sat up straight, he immediately puked up most of what he’d eaten. You can imagine how excited I was for that to happen. So we cleaned him (and everything else) up, and I mixed in a little breast milk with the rest of the formula, thinking it might improve the taste and also be easier on his stomach. He took it a little more readily, but still threw up the majority of what he’d taken.

You can imagine I was getting a little worried now. If he can’t keep formula down, and my milk supply is low, how am I gonna beef the kid up? Well, we switched the brand of formula and started off with very little formula in the breast milk, and he’s gotten more and more used to it. He still nurses a little, and it’s still not terribly efficient, but I think it’s helping keep my supply from dropping more than it might if I was exclusively pumping. But he’s gaining! And I’m taking my fenugreek (gross, by the way), drinking TONS of water, and eating my oats. It’s work, especially with a couple more little ones, but I’m doing everything I can to help him be healthy and growing. I don’t know how long I can keep up the pumping (honestly, it’s tough to find time to sit down and not have to get up while I’m doing it) but my goal is to at least get him to six weeks with having mostly breast milk with only a little bit of formula supplement. It’s what’s working for us right now, and when it doesn’t work anymore, we will change it. You can only do what works, right? Whatever is the best thing you can manage is what you do.

My Journey as a Mother: Breastfeeding (Part Two)

my two chunkers, with their buddy Styles, who refused to smile 🙂
  As a continuation of my breastfeeding journey with EK, my journey breastfeeding J was much easier. Already, I knew the pain I’d feel in those first few days – and I was prepared mentally this time. So that was less of an issue. He had a MUCH better latch than she did, and so we started off much better. My milk came in more quickly (while I was packing to leave the hospital, in fact!) and so he got the full effects of that more quickly.

However, he was a sleep-nurser, which in turn made him a little less efficient. Therefore, he didn’t gain as much weight, so the pediatrician was worried about him, so I was worried about him, and we went through everything we could think of to keep him awake, get him to eat instead of pacify, and get him to gain some weight. That basically turned into me pumping and giving him some bottles more often (he’d finish a bottle without stopping, just not nurse for very long without sleeping) and eventually supplementing formula.

He continued being a good nurser once he started gaining weight and we were doing bottles as well as nursing. It didn’t take him much longer to find a rhythm, get the benefit of breastmilk as well as formula, and be a chubby babe just like his sister was. He continued doing bottles with breastmilk and with formula while I was working, and nursing while I was home until he was 8 months, when I had stopped making very much milk (I had stopped working by then) and he just weaned himself. He stopped being interested in nursing and just wanted bottles, and my milk dried up. Since he was so old, eating food as well as taking bottles well, and was clearly not having any weight troubles anymore, I didn’t press the issue and let him make his decision.

I don’t have any regrets about this process. I don’t regret giving him bottles and formula to help his weight gain. I don’t regret letting him wean himself at 8 months. I don’t regret a moment of our journey. He’s a healthy, sweet boy, and we have bonded and have a wonderful relationship. I have loved every moment getting to know him more and more, and I know that our initial bonding with breastfeeding helped that along, but isn’t the only thing that mattered in our relationship. Bonding can happen without breastfeeding. Bonding can continue after you stop. Make the best choice for you and your baby, and whatever that looks like, good for you!

My Journey as a Mother: Breastfeeding (Part One)

I want to start a series. I don’t know often it’ll be added to, or what I might put in it, but I’d like to call the series of posts “My Journey as a Mother”. Instead of snarky things my toddler says, or cute things I’ve baked with friends, I want it to be honest and personal, about my unique journey as a mother. Since my kids are so young, I doubt I’ll ever truly run out of things to talk about, and I can add things as often as I feel led to write about them. 
Something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently (as I’m preparing for the birth of my third child) is something I don’t think I’ve blogged about at all – breastfeeding. This can be a really hot topic, one that many women/mothers/caretakers feel passionately about. I don’t want anything I say to be a “persuasive article” or “offensive rant”. I just want to share my story, my struggles, my successes, and my hopes for the next breastfeeding journey on which I’ll embark.

When I was pregnant will EK, it was a no-brainer that I would nurse her. It’s widely accepted as the healthiest thing to do, so of course it would be what I did for my daughter. Where her birthday fell during the school year  (mid-April), I knew I would have several months of potential nursing before I would have to go back to school in the fall and likely into a routine of more pumping than nursing. I was looking forward to April-August being able to mostly nurse, and introduce bottles and scheduling a pumping routine as I went back to work.

This, as you might imagine, wasn’t how my perfect plan worked out.

EK had trouble latching right off the bat. I know now that I didn’t do everything I could have, but she also had a few problems as well. I’ve already accepted this and moved on from it with no guilt, so I will suffice it to say that nursing, after a painful, tedious six weeks or so, just didn’t work very well for the two of us. However, being a mama who wants to do the very best thing for her children, I decided the exclusively pump. This turned into the longest five more months of my life. At first, my supply was good, I was even able to freeze some milk, and never worry about my baby being hungry. She never shied away from a bottle, and seemed very pleased to be fed by whomever offered the bottle to her (just an early glimpse of her hungry-hippo nature that still exists). I got more sleep when Hubby was able to feed her a bottle at some point during the night (or late night before he went to bed, as it often was) and we didn’t know any better than to think this was our best possible situation.

But after a couple of months of pumping several times a day (and sometimes during the night if I got too uncomfortable) for almost 45 minutes each time (looking back, I’m appalled by my slow letdown and need to go through several letdowns to get what my baby needed), I was growing tired of the chore. I was eating oatmeal everything, drinking water like a camel, drinking a dark beer a day, using warm compresses before I pumped, and everything else I knew how to do to up my milk supply and make it worth it to keep going.

It seemed like the harder I tried, the less milk I made. The more I tried to find times to pump at school or during the night, the less milk I got at each pumping session. It was truly disheartening to feel like I was failing at feeding my child the “natural” way. Finally, after a few months of “supplementing my milk with formula” I released myself from the pump’s shackles.

I cannot TELL you how this freed me! Pumping several times a day wasn’t bonding with my baby. It was hardly getting her anything she needed. She was eating enough by the time I stopped at six months that I was barely getting a bottle’s worth in an entire day. It had been such a struggle to force myself to keep going, when I wasn’t yielding enough to nourish her. I was becoming emotionally wrecked about it, and I just couldn’t shake the feeling I was failing. But when I finally let it go and switched to 100% formula (well, she had started purees by then as well) it was a load off of my shoulders and my heart.

And let me tell you – this gal was healthy. (Does the baby in that photo up there look like she’s not getting enough to eat?!) She IS healthy. She is smart, beautiful, well-adapted (as much as toddlers can be) and we do not have a lack of bonding in our relationship! I can confidently say that I made the best choice for her, the best choice for me, and the best choice for my poor Hubby who would lose me for several hours a day to the pump. We were all much happier when we made the switch.

So here’s a little encouragement: breastfeeding, while widely accepted as “healthiest” and “best” and “why wouldn’t you do it?!” isn’t for every mother and every baby. If it was easy, we’d all do it. If everyone was able to be with their baby 24/7 and was blessed with great supply and didn’t have any problems latching and was never treated as inferior by a lactation consultant (that happened to me, also) I’m sure that all mothers would breastfeed. But folks, it just isn’t that way. And that’s okay. Thankfully, there are many ways to have a healthy baby, just like there are many ways to deliver a healthy baby, and there are many ways to raise a baby. Let your mama instincts take over, and do what you believe is best.

I’ll post a little bit about my journey breastfeeding J soon. I hope you were encouraged by my experience with EK.

Did you choose to breastfeed? What was your experience?

Pregnant With My Third! (Volume 6)

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Written at 10 weeks.

I saw a Facebook post this morning, while laying in bed with my terrible cold (happy new year, am I right?), that made me laugh out loud. A friend of mine with two little boys, similarly aged to mine – oldest is a bit younger than EK, youngest a bit younger than J – posted her resolution for 2015: no childbirth. She elaborated that after two consecutive unmedicated labors/deliveries, she wanted a pain-free year in which she could have more than one cocktail. And you know my reaction – directly after the laughter, that is? Total understanding and a little bit of jealousy. I will have had a baby in 2012, 2013, and 2015. I will have been pregnant or nursed most of the way through each of those years and also obviously 2014. That’s a long time of taking extra precautions because another living thing is quite literally depending on my health and habits. Not just that if I’m sick, I need to get well quickly. Not just that I need to be present and attentive. It’s literally growing a child in my womb, who relies on my every decision. It’s literally nourishing a child via the nourishment I provide for myself. That’s pretty heavy stuff.

But it’s also been good for me. I’ve led a healthier lifestyle in general – I’ve eaten more nutritiously and intentionally (food as fuel, know what I mean?). I’ve exercised, yes to lose my baby weight twice, but to be a healthy pregnant woman also. And having two little ones depending on me, not to mention a husband who depends on me (not in the same way, but he still does), has been the ultimate weighing factor in my decision-making. I need to be healthy, mentally and emotionally available, present and nurturing for those in my life counting on me. The best way for me to help others is to be my best self, my healthiest self.

Has anyone else had a few busy years here, creating and nurturing lives? I know I’ve got a few friends who can relate to a few years in a row of eating extra greens and drinking less alcohol/caffeine. Did you change your lifestyle? How? Do you have tips, or best practices to share?