More About Breast Feeding

Tomorrow, I’ll be 24 and she’ll be 5 months. What a milestone for both of us.

We’ve been breast feeding successfully for five months. To this day, she has not had a drop of formula. Don’t get me wrong here, I am not boasting about that fact, rather, I am praising God for it. There were many moments when I feared that I wouldn’t make it this far.

Go ahead, tell me I’m being ridiculous. I would agree with you. I don’t know why I let breast feeding define me so much. I became so emotionally attached to the idea during my pregnancy, that I knew I would be devastated if I wasn’t able to breast feed. I didn’t know it until after I had Ali that milk production is a challenge in my family. My own mother was only able to nurse me for three months before she wasn’t able to produce any more. Everyday, I fear that it’s my last. There have been times where my milk has fluctuated wildly, from one day to the next with no cause, then there are days that I will produce way more than I thought I could.

By no means do I claim to be an expert on any topic I write about here, but I have done a lot of research — not to mention that I work at a health care company, so I have a lot of resources others don’t — and consider myself to be knowledgeable in the subjects relating to childbirth and breast feeding. Unfortunately, I still let myself get anxious about being able to nurse. I am trying to change my way of thinking from “Please God, please help me make more milk for her” to “Thank you, God, for allowing me to provide the best nutrition for my daughter another day.” So far, I am beginning to feel more comfortable with the fact that, one day, this is going to end. I was prepared for it to end through weaning, but now, I like to think I’m prepared to just let it take its course if it needs to.

For those of you thinking about nursing your future children, please seek out resources and support from others. Nursing is hard, just as hard as labor. There are a lot of women out there that make it look easy, I don’t know how they do it, and I’ll admit, I have been jealous of those to whom it looks like it is so easy for them. Sometimes, it seems like Andrew’s the only one telling me that I’m doing a good job, and I know my sister tells me the same. But it’s hard to hear it, and then really believe. For some reason, my lactation consultant has always been the only one that can truly put my mind at ease.

I can’t say it enough: if you’re going to breast feed, get a lactation consultant!! Or you can visit your local chapter of La Leche League. I didn’t do this before delivering, but LLL can provide a lot of instruction prior to having your child. Post-partum, having a consultant was a huge gift. I still call her when I have a question or concern. When Aliana started sleeping through the night around 9 weeks, I didn’t realize that I couldn’t let myself engorge and leak. That sends a signal to stop producing, and my supply reduced significantly. She quickly gave me some tips and a schedule of sorts to get me right back up. I haven’t had that severe of a fluctuation since.

Secondly, buy a good pump. But whatever you do, unless it is a hospital grade pump that you are renting, do NOT use a second hand pump. Do not purchase a used pump online or from anyone you know. Commercial pumps are called “open system” pumps. The system is not designed to keep breast milk from potentially coming in contact with the motor. Medela’s “Pump In Style” pumps are open system. Your milk can potentially enter the tubes and even come in contact with the motor. If you don’t clean it, or even realize that this has happened, it can form mold, and the spores can travel back into your collected milk and can potentially harm your baby. There are companies that use a “closed pump” system, such as Ameda’s “Purely Yours” (which I think I will purchase for the next kiddo, I have a love-hate relationship with my Medela), and the milk will never touch the tubing or vacuum source. Definitely do your research regarding pumps before you purchase one. Better yet, just rent one from the hospital. I used Medela’s “Symphony” at Albany Med, and it was a great pumping experience. This one is considered a closed system, because it uses closed diaphragms to create the vacuum needed.

This is pretty much all I can think to mention at the moment. Knowing me, I’ll probably revisit the topic. I doubt that any male readership that we have gained will want to hear more about this, it is kind of a personal subject to speak of, but my goal since the beginning of this blog has been to share what I learn in this experience. I was the first of my friends to get engaged, then married, and now to become a mother. I think it’s only fair that you all see what I have gone through in this process as well.

If you girls have any questions, feel free to ask me. I love sharing my knowledge, and if there’s something we need to figure out together, together we will.

 

I Know What It Feels Like to Be a Cow

(18 weeks pp)

I know what it feels like to be a cow. Every morning, I wake up, and perform my toilette, wake up the calf, and feed. Said calf feeds twice if I’m lucky (and she’s not too sleepy) before heading out to work.

Once I arrive at my place of employment — where I spend the day grazing on my 50 million snacks because I am always hungry — I have about an hour or so before I have to hook myself up to a machine that vaguely resembles this for fifteen minutes. I repeat twice more every three hours. Collected milk stays in our fridge in a small black cooler with a giant ice pack designed to fit around the bottles.

Once home, I transfer expressed milk into four freezer bags — totaling four servings — for my calf to eat while at calf care from one of these. My freezer is full of milk. There is barely enough room for the sustenance my bull and I require, but we manage.

When the calf comes home with the bull, she feeds directly again. Repeat process at least 4 times before her 7-8 pm bedtime, and I’m pooped. At this point, I require a large ice cream on a sugar cone. I take a few moments to thank God for the cow that provided her cream in my cone before consuming, and promptly go to bed.

…only to repeat the next day, and will continue to repeat until my time is over.

Dear friend, I commiserate with you. Our babies require the best food possible, so we do our best to provide. Unfortunately for you, you’re feeding thousands (including me), and I’m only feeding one. It’s a tough life, but someone’s gotta do it.

Ode to the Button

Your shape was decided in 1987
And 23 years later have received
An unexpected makeover.

Once an innie, now a flattie,
You’ve revealed your true shape within,
Like a lotus chip, your compartments now
Reveal spaces previously unknown in your natural state.

Soon, the flattie will become an outtie,
and you’ll poke through my clothes.
No popper stopper for you (sorry Jeff),
I promise to embrace your changes gracefully,
And allow you to finally see the sun.

ps: the hair you've sprouted grosses me out.

 

One word never used to describe being pregnant: miserable

Week 26, day 6

Okay, quick topic here. The last few weeks has brought on new aches and pains, particularly, in the ribs. I don’t feel much bigger than I was a month ago, but she’s definitely growing herself. I feel her more and more each day as she grows. She’s quite the little punk too, especially now that she can reach my ribs with her feet. She kicks, she prods, she pushes up against my belly and it feels like she’s a chest burster trying to bust out. She’s made me cry a few times with how much her pushing and shoving has hurt. But, that’s all in adjustment. It’s not so bad now but I’m sure I’ll be listing new pains as she gets a little larger.

What is bad are the mood swings. How one minute I can be absolutely ready to bawl or scream at everyone and the next I’m all ladeedah and laughing. One thing I wasn’t ready for, nor warned about, were the days of absolute misery and utter loneliness.

There are some days where I don’t even want to wake up. And when I get home from work, I just lay on the couch and either whine or cry in complete silence. Being pregnant is hard work! There is so much going on inside your body that just zaps all your energy and leaves you feeling so empty and alone.

I know I shouldn’t complain, God has given me quite a gift here, but one thing I wish is that I was warned there would be bad days when you just want it to be over, just to feel some sort of control over your life again. Knowing this might not have helped me prepare for the actual feeling of it, but at least I would know that I’m not alone. To know that I’m not the only one that has felt this way while pregnant would have been comfort enough.

For now, I don’t really have many people I can really talk to about it (in terms of those who have experienced this). Andrew has been a great supporter throughout all of these ups and downs. I’m sure he’s had whiplash from the sudden (mean) outbursts  and the rebounding laughter two minutes later. But when all I’ve really needed is someone to hold me or rub my head while I try to fall asleep he’s always right there next to me comforting me and trying his best to make me feel better. I think he’s figured out that there really are no words necessary.

A true ally. I am soooo thankful to have such an understanding partner in all of this. I don’t know where I would be at this point if he wasn’t how and who he is.

Reason number 54890987 living in Troy ended up being amazing

Hi. Remember us? yes we’ve been away for a few weeks, life kept us busy. Between finally getting the car repaired from the accident to the morning sickness coming back with a vengeance and feeling like my body has been fighting coming down with the bug going around we were kinda busy.

I owe you two belly pictures, and after that I have an awesome story to share.

 

20 weeks 6 days

 

22 weeks 1 day

 

So, we’ve been cooped up at home finishing the baby’s room and I’ve been begging Andrew to take me out just to see other people in existence. We went to the mall yesterday to visit our friends Kristen and Allan (they own an awesome wine shop called For Love of Wine at the mall. We’ve known them since they opened and have developed a wonderful friendship), ran into an old college buddy of mine that lived in the same dorm freshman year, got my wedding rings cleaned (and was told by our jeweler that it’s still safe to wear them so i’m back to wearing them again) and just people watched for a bit.

So today, I tell Drew that I want to go to the Farmer’s Market in Troy because a) we haven’t been since November when we took Mom and Dad and b) more people watching, and most importantly c) I was really craving a Jamaican beef patty. I need to learn to stop asking for cocoa bread because they don’t bring it to the market, but they do have it at their restaurant. After eating we walked around a bit and made our way downstairs and we’re just about done with the circuit when I spot a familiar looking guy taking a picture of the band that played (which btw, ten times better than the Black Eyed Peas). He had the most adorable little baby in a baby bjorn and a pretty sweet camera. I paused.

“Hey, Andrew, wait….I think that’s ‘Adeline’s Daddy'”
“Who?”
“The guy, the daddy blog, when we were researching Michelle…”
“No way, really?! Let’s go talk to him!”

Me says no, leave him alone, he’s just trying to enjoy his day. Can you believe it, ME, shy?!?! I was intimidated. Here’s this dude we’ve never met, yet read his blog when we were researching our potential midwife. His blog helped cement to us that Michelle was the right pick and would provide the best care for how we wanted to give birth to our child. (Don and his wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Adeline in October while in a birthing pool in their living room, with Michelle as their midwife.)

Andrew quickly pulls me over to him and starts up a conversation. Don was very gracious and told us a bit about his experience, and how Michelle has become a very good friend even after the birth of their daughter. Talking to Don was so comforting, and just confirmed that we’ve made the right decision (I must emphasize, for us, because everyone should choose their best birth). Probably the funniest bit, he introduced us to his neighbors, Elizabeth and Andrew, who had a baby named Lily (probably spelled that way, I don’t want to assume that they also spell their daughter’s name like mine) 3 weeks apart from Addy. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to talk to his wife, who was upstairs, but it was so great to get a chance to meet someone else who has a relationship with Michelle and are extremely satisfied with the care they received and have a wonderful little baby.

It’s amazing the people we’ve been able to meet and the things we’ve had a chance to do all because Andrew and I chose to go to RPI. The City of Troy has brought us so many opportunities and continues to give us these wonderful gifts, including each other.

I definitely recommend you go and read Don’s blog, he is also a graphic designer and writes the sweetest little stories about being a first time father. It would be wonderful if we could continue contact, it would help us so much to know other first time parents in our vicinity!

If there is ever one place Andrew and I will be able to call ‘our first home’, I can say without a doubt it will probably be Troy.

Another little treat for you. We finished preparing the crib for our sweet pea. We walk into the room a few hours later to a little surprise from our resident Satan’s Spawn.

 

Ziggy, this is not the new cat bed!

Women who say they enjoyed every minute of pregnancy, did NOT have morning sickness

(For continuity’s sake, today is Week 7 day 6.)

Notice I haven’t actually written here yet? Yeah, it’s because I couldn’t get my head either out of the toilet or off my pillow long enough.

Okay I’m exaggerating, I’m only averaging about 1.5 times a day, but still. It’s pretty detrimental to my day, and leaves me slightly weak. All I want to do is nap afterwards. A few time’s I’ve actually avoided throwing up by simply falling asleep. And what’s with it being called “MORNING sickness”? it should be called ALL THE TIME SICKNESS. I’ve had tons of suggestions from well meaning mommies but nothing has really worked for me. At this point, I just smile and say thank you, I appreciate your trying to help. Ugh…

Let’s talk about the fun stuff though. I’m going to get pretty graphic, so if you don’t want to read it, please don’t continue.

My body is changing. Last time something like this happened, it was puberty, now it’s something entirely different yet the same at the same time. I’m getting pimples in places I’ve never had them before (mostly on my face). My boobs are growing, and I won’t tell you which one is suddenly bigger than the other (okay fine, it’s the right one). My pants don’t close!

The good side is that there’s this awesome thing out there (there’s different kinds but this is the kind I bought) called BellaBand which can hide unbuttoned and unzippered pants and also helps keep them from slipping down (which, with this extra width I’m carrying is not very likely). This is super helpful, because it looks like I’m wearing a camisole under my shirt, so I’m not dressed inappropriately at work. This also means I can hold off on buying maternity pants for a bit more, since really, it fits everywhere else, just not where baby is sitting.

Tomorrow, my uterus will be the size of a grape fruit and baby is the size of a lima bean. Note that the uterus in it’s natural state is only the size of a plum, so quite a bit of growth in just two months!

I’ll leave you with a picture from two weeks ago. This is my 6 week’s belly photo. as you can see, it’s not very noticeable yet, and the only difference I can even tell myself is by my pants not fitting. but we can at least begin to tally how my mid section will change week to week.

6 week belly