welcome to my internet home. this blog used to be cool, with insights about mental health, social policy, pop culture and the like. now, it's a chaotic collection of my mis-spelled, scribbled-down notes on motherhood (who has time to proof read?). it's over-ran with goldfish cracker crumbles, slobery wet kisses, and un-edited pictures. and i would have it no other way. feel free to laugh and cry along side me while I balance a practice (mental heath) and motherhood, and their interconectedness

Sunday, March 21, 2010

5 months (a month late)

Dear Lyla,
I've decided that the Lord must have a plan; the longer you wait for your babe, the cuter and more lovable she is. It's not just me, people remark all the time about how happy and just down right cute you are. You're happy disposition is infectious. You are simply beautiful. This might sound sort of self involved, but my favorite part about this month is that the love we have has become much more reciprocal. Or simply, you show love now (for me! and dad). You are quite the mommas girl. You want to be held and attended to 24-7. You watch me when I'm not holding you and whine about it! No worries, I adore it. You know when I'm holding you versus others and beg and make faces for me to snatch you up when others are holding you. I'm sure at some point, if this ensues, we'll have to do something about it, but right now, I'm lapping it up. I say you're the happiest baby there is; as long as you're involved and with mom. You're always good to go and be along for the ride, which goes a long nicely with our lifestyle. Dad claims that you hate him because at times you cry when he picks you up (and he claims, pushes against his chest) but he just doesn't see what I do. Your face brightens when he enters a room and he can get you to smile better than anyone. He comforts you. Despite your momminess, You have certainly become more independent this month as well. You're entertained by things for longer periods of time and become more and more inquisitive as your motor skills develop. I'll end as always, love you:)
Some things about you at 5 months:
  1. You sat up for the first time on Feb 12th. It lasted 5 whole seconds!!!
  2. You are so very close to rolling over. I think you haven't developed the ability yet because you have almost no tummy time. This, because of the reflux; you bawl your eyes out, puke, and then bob you face in it. So I don't care what the docs say. We're not doin tummy time!
  3. You're loving "The Barnyard Hullaballoo" & "Chica Chica 123" for books
  4. You've been less and less enthused by the bink but this month you rejected if for good.
  5. Your very most favorite pastime this month has been jumping in your free standing jumper; while watching Baby Einstein. i call in baby crackstein. You go into a trance watching it and it entertains you for almost an hour!! You jump like crazy too. It's so fun.
  6. I call you my bat girl because you love hanging upside down
  7. The milk allergy thing seems to be managed well by me eliminating dairy. Your tummy seems to hurt you a lot less and not more blood..yay!!
  8. You've made associations with things and have learned to anticipate things. Like when I fill the dropper with medicine, you open your mouth. When I go in for a silly kiss, you close your eyes.
  9. You loved the movie, Avatar! The blue peeps really entertained you
  10. I think you might kinda know how to work it. You do fake cries I'm sure of it.
  11. Ty has become a play toy; you love pulling at his ears and pulling out his hair. Good thing he's a good sport. You crack up when he licks your hands. I hate it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Breast feeding

A cautionary tale for my male readers: this post in truth, will contain a lengthy discussion about one of your favorite parts of the female anatomy. However, this discussion will be about those lovely things at their worst: saggy, cracked and bloody, expressing things, and belonging to someone else entirely. So just skip it.

I think I was a fairly educated mommy-to-be. I read all the books, paid attention to moms I respected, and soaked up all the advise to be given. Soon after my little bundle's arrival, i learned, my knowledge about breastfeeding was immensely insufficient. My knowledge was ignorantly summed up by something like this photo:

Doesn't she look so at ease? So natural? So perfect?

Truth is, I thought nature took care of the breastfeeding thing. Requiring no knowledge or effort. Naturally, I skipped all these chapters in the many books I read. Why was so much time devoted to talking about BFing anyway? I thought it was just because they were trying to convince all those "less dedicated" moms why they should BF. I was dedicated. I knew I wanted to do it, so what would be the problem? I even skipped the BF class in our prenatal class and didn't feel too worried about it.
Like I said, soon after my bundle arrived-like 20 minutes after she arrived, all the pages of all the books I had skipped over, came crashing down on my head. I.knew.nothing. I'll briefly ( or not-so briefly) summarize my experience and then get to why I feel like I need to rehash this. I basically got a really bad latch the first time I fed; which was about 20 minutes after delivery. My little hoover (as one of the nurses affectionately named her), just happened to eat off that bad latch for 20 minutes on each side. I kept saying "man this hurts" but everyone kept saying it was supposed to hurt so I went with it. Not even a day later the nips were cracked and bloody. Every feeding felt like razor blades being shoved into that tiny hole that excretes milk. It was horrific pain. My breathing exercises from labor came in handy and I'm not joking here. I elicited advice from every nurse who cared for me, my veteran BFers Mom and Jenny, AND saw a lactation consultant. Each new piece of advise seemed to conflict with the last and left my head spinning. Some thought the problem was my hoover of a child, some thought it was equipment problems, while others still, thought it was just the fact that the girls are giant. Some thought I needed to limit her feeding time, others thought I needed to let her suck as long as she wanted to. Some thought I had too much milk while others thought I didn't have enough.
When I left the hospital, I had a battery of tools; lansinoh cream, cooling nipple pads, nipple shields, you name it. Yet, I felt so completely unprepared. I held to the adage "if you can last 2 weeks you can last a lifetime" and endured countless feeds met with immense frustration and tears, more pain than I ever thought possible, and strong, devastating feels of ineptness and worthlessness. I had looked forward to the BFing all nine months. It always seemed like such a natural and beautiful way to bond...and how great is it that our bodies as mothers produce the one thing our babies need? Beautiful was hardly my experience. Jostling the boppy pillow, arming my nipple with plastic, biting down on my finger to keep from hurling my sweet baby across the room (to avoid the horrific pain) was hardly the picture I had envisioned. 2 weeks went by and things got a tiny bit easier, but it was still rough. At my six week we found I had a yeast infection due to the cracks and bleeding, which can cause immense pain. I thought once this was over, things would be easy but I was wrong. Feedings were still unpredictable; sometimes latching would be easy, others would take almost 20 minutes. They were still very uncomfortable. I kept waiting and waiting; disappointed when each, 10-a day for one-1/2-hour -a-time feeding didn't get easier. It seemed like every feeding I kept thinking about switching to formula and wanted to find a way out; some research to tell me that breast milk wasn't that beneficial. That the attachment wasn't that crucial (it didn' help that I've been a big student/believer in attachment theory since grad school).

Feeding itself wasn't the only thing producing shiny pictures of formula cans in my bubble-cloud imaginations. Due to the equipment problems aforementioned, I have an almost impossible time pumping. I get almost no milk. Imagine the stress this caused when thinking about returning to work. Not to mention the original fear, which was that I just plain wasn't producing enough milk. Anyone that's faced the idea that they're underfeeding their child understands the horror. To add insult to injury, just when we were getting the hang of things, at four months, we learned (from bloody poop) that Lyla has a milk protein allergy. When she was diagnosed I was told I could cut out dairy completely from my diet, or put her on this very expensive formula (like 2x the cost of regular formula). It felt sooo ironic that all through this struggle, I have told myself to persevere because BFing is the best for my babe. Ha! Then to find that in many ways, it wasn't (to be fair though, normal formula would've been REALLY bad for her tummy).
Instead of beauty, the word sacrifice is the only way I can sum up my initial experience BFing. Sacrifice pain and frustration. Sacrifice sleep (my thought; Todd could get up w/ Lyla if she was on formula). Sacrifice freedom, as not being able to pump severely limited time away (okay, I'll be honest here, I never want time away..not yet anyway, but still, it makes things stressful at times). Sacrifice dairy (if that sounds trivial to you, think of everything you've eaten today...surprising how much food has butter, milk or cheese in it huh?). Sacrifice self esteem (I can't do the ONE thing my baby needs from me). I cannot tell you how many times I screamed to Todd "I hate this!" and told myself how bad I wanted to quit.

Now...on to why I've chose to rehash. For my mommies-to-be. For all my friends prego or wanting to be prego in the future. God willing, none of you will have troubles, but if you do, let me tell you from experience...1) you're not alone 2) it is so completely worth it and 3) you CAN do it (sorry if that sounded a bit too Tony Robbins esq). Like alot of things in our have-to-be-perfect culture, I found that BFing troubles is one of those things you rarely hear about- until you start talking about your own. I've since come across many woman who have sacrifised so much more and experienced so much worse (mastitis) just to BF.
My heart hurts when I think of all the beautiful moments I would've missed had I given up....sweet hands rubbing my chest while eating...a forceful unlatch just to stare up at me with a smile...that druken look after she's full...the "I'm gonna rip your shirt off rooting....the playful eating...the ability me and only me has to calm her completely. I'm blubbering as I type because I feel so strongly about it. There's also been other benefits I failed to see at first. It has forced me to slow down and be in the moment. I know myself and I know that when things got frantic, I'd defer to Todd to feed or bottle feed while shopping at the store, etc. BFing forces me to sit down, hold my baby closer than close, and feed her; nearly every hour and half. It puts me in the moment. It makes me chill.

BFing is now so natural, so easy, and so enjoyable that I can hardly believe it was once so hard and I hated it so badly. It's all so very amazing and I NEVER thought I'd say that. I feel like I could BF for another 10 years. In fact, I'm sad that it's time for rice cereal!

I'd like to share *some* of the many things I've learned since pulling my head out and realizing the reality of BFing; that education and skills are crucial. These are hardly stone cold facts; just what you learn when you're a desperate mom who also happens to enjoy research.

Facts, mixed with tid bits and my own advise (as a failed BFer)
  1. Boppy pillows are great. Good posture is very important. Women who struggle to get good latches often refuse to move even the tinyest bit for fear of messing it up. This equates into a very sore back and neck in no time. A boppy helps.
  2. Your child's weight gain is the ONLY accurate way to assess if your milk supply is adequate. Pumping is not even kind-of a good indicator of how much milk you have. You will always pump less than your baby will suck out naturally. Some people (me) might also have equipment problems that limit pumping effectiveness. Also, some pumps suck. Your baby might take a bottle after you've fed her but it doesn't necessarily mean she's hungry. Save yourself the worry and don't do test pumping or test the baby with a bottle. If your baby is growing adequately; your supply is adequate.

3. Formula cannot compare to breast milk in regards to the antibodies. I saw this first hand (knock on wood). My sister got H1N1. So did her 4 year old. Did here 9 month old who was breastfeeding? Nope. We've had H1N1, RSV, the flu and you name, circle around us since Lyla was born. I've had a few colds, but Lyla's been healthy as a horse. Did you know they can actually demonstrate how an antibody built up in a mom's system is passed on to baby? SO amazing.

4. There are also a great deal of other aspects of breast milk that formula just cannot compare to. I've found VERY disturbing studies (in scholarly, peer review studies [so credible journals]) that really highlight how harmful formula can be but I won't go into those.

    5. Lactation Constants are lifesavers. Use them (they're usually free in the hospital)

    6. It was once believed that nipple shields (plastic thing that can prevent cracking and sores) decreases supply, but they're now not able to prove that. So if you've got super sore nips, use em!

    7. Lansinoh cream is worth its weight in gold.

    8. I've come to the conclusion that successful breastfeeding is 80% equipment, 15% baby and 5% ability. That's not to say that there isn't a reason to learn how (before baby gets here preferably) to effectively avoid problems.

    9. You'll hear this a lot but a good latch is the MOST important part of successful feeding. Check out youtube videos, etc to see it. Some tid bits I learned: a line horizontal across the nipple after feeding is bad. Feel the roof of your mouth with your tongue. Feel the hard part and then the soft part clear back there? That's how far back the nipple has to be sucked to not hurt. Baby's lips should be puckered not pursed around the nipple. You can pull down on the chin sometimes to get a better latch.

    10. You don't need to re-sterilize your pump with each feeding. Just take the pumps, put them in a ziploc, and put them in the fridge when you're done to save time.

    11. The most important fact I'd like to share....did you know that there are almost NO documented cases of poor milk supply??????? We're talking JAMA and other medical records dating back to the 70s. It's actually a well circulated myth that many women just don't produce enough milk. These organic poor milk production cases (or women who legitimately don't make enough milk) are generally limited to women with some type of disease, disorder or syndrome; like thyroid problems and PCOS. Soooo...why do so many people think they have no to poor supply? I think, because they haven't grasped the concept behind milk production. Basically, milk supply is based on demand. Demand is determined by nipple stimulation. So, baby sucks on your nipple, or you pump, your nipple gets stimulated, and tells body to produce milk. The more stimulation-the more milk produced. Anyone who's studied the intricate functions of the body has been amazed at how sophisticated it is. BFing is no different. How amazing is it that our body has a built in mechanism for feeding our children adequately? When baby is growing, it naturally eats more, thus stimulating the breast, telling the body to gear up for more milk cuz baby is a growin. This is why feeding on demand is sooo important. So back to my point, if you believe you have a poor supply, what do you do?? Supplement with formula right? WRONG!!! Each time you do this, your nipples are not stimulated-thus causing your supply to decrease--exacerbating your cause. Anytime you supplement or give a bottle of pumped breastmilk, you need to pump as well. Basically, you need to mimic what your nipples would be experiencing if you just plain breastfed without interference, so your body prepares. If husby gives baby a bottle at night, you should get up and pump (crappy I know).

    12. The above is not to say some people don't have less supply than others. To summarize this last point, realize that most moms at some point worry about their supply. It's not like with a bottle where you can measure out your milk and watch baby eat it. BUT, know, that chances are you do not have a poor supply. BUT, chances are you will get a decreased supply it you supplement without noted cause to do so (poor weight gain in baby.

    13. Lower supply does not mean inadequate supply. Some people (me) have much less supply than others (any 100 lbs twig off the street) but both can successfully feed their babies. Us poor saps just might have to work at it. How? NEVER skip a feeding. My rule at first was that something had to be on the boob every hour and a half whether it be baby or pump. If baby is sleeping or not hungry-pump. If she becomes hungry right after you pumped, give her the bottle you just pumped. Also, immediately after you've fed baby on each side, pump for 10 minutes. You won't likely get any milk, it is just to further stimulate your nipples and increase supply. At night don't go longer than 3 hours. The middle of the night is the best time to get the most milk and bulk up your supply. What I'm saying here is some women might have to work harder than others; but nearly 90% of women have the ability to successfully feed their babies.

I guess I'll end by saying that 1) breastfeeding can be a big sacrifice for some. Some women have worse than others but most women CAN successfully do it if they want to and 2) I definitely do not judge those who choose formula. Many have other significant barriers or other stresses that do not allow them to focus on making BFing work. I just put this here for people, like me who desperately wanted to BF but found a number of challenges.
Mommydom Unplugged