Six Months

I eluded to this the other day on my tumblr blog. I wrote early on that nursing wasn’t easy and I wrote another follow up to that a few weeks ago.

Our nursing journey has essentially come to an end. It’s bittersweet but in the end, I’m mostly relieved, as painful as it is to say that.

It was an uphill battle making it to six months. I always felt like I was fighting a losing battle. All those sweet babies who nurse happily, and fall asleep at their mum’s bosom…Ethan was never like that.

He was, what many would call, a lazy nurser. He never had a great latch – it certainly got better around 2 – 2 1/2 months – but with my faster letdown early on, once things slowed down and evened out, I think he got lazy.

Lately, my supply has plummeted. I know there’s tons you can try to boost it – but after the bars, the muffins, the baking lactation cookies – all of which I’ve done. The fenugreek which only made me nauseous, drinking myself to oblivion with water – none of it helped much. If at all.

I sensed on our trip to South Carolina that he was going to sleep still hungry. Even after nursing. His nursing sessions were shorter, but I attributed that to efficiency. I heard it was common for babies to nurse for only 5-10 minutes. But he’d still scream and cry as if he was still hungry, as if I was starving him but after that, he wouldn’t latch back on. He’d slap my breasts and pull away giving me horrid bits of “niplash” where babies unlatch themselves too quickly.

It got to be too much. He wasn’t eating and no one was sleeping.

So we limped to my short term of 6 months. Barely. But we made it.

We started him on purees around 5 1/2 months, he was showing signs of readiness so after I picked up our high chair at the wee sale, we started him on about 1 tablespoon of pureed vegetables once per day. At dinner time, before bath time. It added a really nice structure and he’s so far loved the veggies and some fruits we’ve given him.

That probably didn’t help my tanking supply but he was going to start sooner or later and the doctor said it was fine if he was showing interest.

But man, the guilt. The overwhelming feeling of guilt – as if 6 months is nothing. As if it wasn’t good enough. Six months of giving myself to my child, unconditionally, and providing him with his only source of nourishment. There have been lots of tears, there still are. I’m still pumping mind you – four to five times per day – but I’m barely getting two ounces per session. I pumped 3 oz the other morning and I wanted to jump for joy even though 3 ounces used to come easily and I would always get more than 3 oz easily in the morning. (How long I continue pumping is yet to be determined based on my sheer level of hatred for the pump especially considering how little i’m getting with each session)

But then I talked to some pals. They reminded me that a happy mama matters as much as a happy baby. There’s no reason to stress about this, formula is not poison, having a well fed baby regardless how you get there is all that matters. I am not a bad parent for feeding Ethan formula. I am not a bad parent for not wanting to break my back trying to boost my supply with success unlikely. None of this makes me a bad parent.

Adam will be the first to tell you that he loves that he can experience feeding the little guy now also. And I get to see sweet moments like this each night now. Really, we’ve found a perfect balance. I don’t know how long I will continue to pump but right now he’s getting 2-3 bottles of formula each day, and the rest is breast milk. We’re at about half and half so far and I’m trying to pump enough to keep up with that without dipping too far into my freezer stash which is probably enough to last a couple of days total. I’ve considered it for emergencies…I suppose this may classify as desperate times though right?

Either way, he’s a happy well fed child and really, no matter how you get there, that’s all that matters.

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#AANurseIn…a recap

I get a little teary eyed thinking about the American Airlines nurse in yesterday at BWI. Watching the coverage, reading the posts. The comments in response to some of those posts get my blood boiling, but for the most part watching it all unfold has just been…mind blowing and truly shows the power of the internet.

To recap – here’s the original letter from American Airlines after our pal emailed them about her awful experience.

aaletter

The post quickly went viral and has turned into an international affair as of yesterday getting picked up by the Daily Mail in the UK.

Here’s a clip from one of the local news stations taken yesterday at BWI.


It was a fitting way to end World Breastfeeding Week. Where the main goal is to normalize and bring awareness to breastfeeding. I mean, really, so many people say “it’s been happening for years…discreetly…cover up…” etc… and yet…if it’s been happening for years, why are people associating nursing with sex, strippers, and indecently clad women. I’m not slutting it up in a club, I’m feeding my child. Pretty sure there’s a big difference.

Why do I have to sacrifice mine and my child’s comfort because others can’t handle breasts in their most natural form – feeding children. Others have commented on any of the many articles and blog posts written up about it about “turning away when a cow or a dog feeds their babies/puppies?” Nope. Probably not.

bwi nurse in #aanursein

I keep getting a bit emotional when I think about this all. These women that I stood next to, and this sounds incredibly cheesy but it’s so true – are amazing. The community that they have built, is so incredible. Personally, I said this yesterday on facebook, but there’s no way three or four months ago when I was still getting the hang of breastfeeding, would I have ever had the confidence to go out there and be a part of this. Shit, we did a mini nurse in at Target one Tuesday because one of our pals got a dirty look and a snide comment while she was discreetly nursing her daughter and I didn’t nurse Ethan while we were out.

Three or four months ago, all of our play dates and errands were scheduled around his feedings. Yesterday, I nursed in an airport. Then at a play date at the mall. I bought airfare to visit family down in Charleston where Ethan and I will be traveling…alone.

This newfound nursing confidence didn’t come easily. There were lots of tears, nights when I questioned if I could do it anymore. It’s because of that community, those moms and their never ending advice and encouragement and support that I’m confident we’ll make it to six months. We’ll likely make it to a year. And I’m so proud of baby and I for sticking with it.

They say it takes a village. And it does. So new mamas, find a village and lean on them.

And next time you see a nursing mama, don’t offer her a blanket, don’t stare her with evil eyes…just turn away if you don’t like what you’re seeing. Be an adult and just look away.

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Baltimore Half Training Week 3

Last week was a pretty good week training wise.

It didn’t hurt anything that the weather has been mostly cooperative. Thanks mother nature!

I had a solid run Friday night to get in my six miler, and Adam and I did a solid four miles for my tempo run on Wednesday night. I didn’t get my short three miler in, but I did get in a nice brisk 3 mile walk with baby on Sunday morning so that was positive.

This week, we’re off to a rough start…it’s already Tuesday and nothing yet. Whoops?

{source}

This week’s workouts…

Wednesday: 800m w/u & c/d with 200/400/800/1200/800/400/200 with a minute rest in between.

Thursday: Yoga or short 3 miler

Friday: walk 2-3 miles

Saturday: 7 mile run with Sarah Jane. We’re meeting at 6:45a….Will have to make sure to have everything laid out ahead of time!

Sunday: travel day (at and coming home from Mommy Con in Philly)

Needless to say, I’ll feel good if I get my running days in this week. Thursday morning baby’s getting his four month shots and I’ll be working from home in the afternoon so he and I can lay low but I do still hope to get my workouts in with a little support from hubs.

And thats the thing I keep reminding myself about this training plan – I allowed myself flexibility. I am a lot stronger than

{via}

Slightly off topic but not really…going on in the mama world – a mama in my group was treated horribly on an American Airlines flight. The letter that she got in return has since gone viral on babble, jezebel, consumerist, and buzzfeed among others. Tomorrow AM (well Wednesday) at 10a at least 70 mamas will be conducting a nurse-in at the American Airlines ticketing area at BWI to let them know that their “policy” regarding nursing mothers is just not okay.

No matter what your thoughts on the matter are, whether you think that mama’s should cover up, here’s the deal from one nursing mom to the rest of the world – when you have a baby who doesn’t like covers? I don’t give a crap what your policy is. Ethan? Hates them. He flails, punches, and screams and pushes me away. I’ve said before that he’s never been a great nurser but when he’s covered? Uff. It makes us both miserable.

So when you experience any sort of ill treatment as this mama did, you feel like the rest of the world just doesn’t get it. And often times, they don’t. I love how among the many comments on the related blog posts and facebook shares, so many dudes are like “cover up” and other WOMEN without children are like “no one wants to see that.” Like nursing my child is the grossest thing in the world. What can you see?? Side boob? Hi. I see more walking through the mall. Don’t want to see babies eat? Don’t look. Its as simple as that.

Respect. I’m not going to shove my tatas in your face if you let me nurse my child in peace. My child will not starve or be otherwise put in discomfort while nursing to make the rest of the world not feel awkwardsauce. Sorry. That’s just how it’s going to be. Covers worked for Ethan for a while, up until really recently actually. And I still try to use them when I think he’ll cooperate but 99% of the time he’s like BLAHHHHHHH and screaming baby…in my ear…flailing and slapping me with his baby hands means nobody’s happy.

“If mama ain’t happy…ain’t nobody happy.” #truth

Either way, my point here is the next time you see a nursing mama and want to say something or tell her to put a cover on, rethink it. Mind your business and look away.

So tell me friends, what workouts are YOU looking forward to?

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Our Breastfeeding Journey (part 2)

Confession….I’m not in love with breastfeeding.

Ethan and I have not had a great journey. There have been days when I’ve wanted to just give up. More than I’d like to admit.

The warm fuzzies? Haven’t ever really been there. There’s always been a bit of reluctance on his part – he’s not the type of baby who will happily stay latched for long periods of time until he’s off into a happy state of milky drunkenness. First it was that my nipples were too flat and we used a nipple shield which was just…messy and frustrating. As many advised, he weaned off of it around 8-10 weeks. Then came the latching which was okay, but he’s push away with a force I didn’t know he had in him.

The other night before bed, he hardly nursed at all and just kind of screamed the entire time. If there’s anything more heart wrenching than a crying baby, it’s a crying baby who won’t eat what you’re feeding him. It was like this much of the past few days and I’m torn about where to go from here.

I wrote a couple months ago about what people don’t tell you. The tears, the pain, difficulties.

Here’s another thing that people don’t tell you that’s been in discussion a lot lately, the judgement.

People don’t tell you that you’ll be judged in Target when you try to subtly nurse your child.

They don’t tell you that people will deny you entry into public places (illegally might we add) and call the cops on you for feeding your child.

They don’t tell you that you will be publicly scorned on an airplane for feeding your child in front of another child.

They don’t tell you that you’ll feel bad when you just get so tired you want to give up and it will through all of your emotions for a loop.

milk drunk baby

Instead, you find a community of women, who are passionate, educated and inspiring who make you want to keep going because you know this is what’s best for your baby.

Instead, you participate in an amazing community event where the love and warm fuzzies you’ve been wanting to feel for four months – they finally rear their warm, fuzzy heads and you look down at your baby in a crowd of 130+ other nursing mamas and feel the strongest sense of love and pride in what you’re providing for your child.

Thankfully, it’s not a journey I’m ready to give up on yet. There will certainly be bad days, every journey has bad days right? There will likely be nursing strikes, biting (he’s learned to clamp down, not fun. Not fun at all.), distractions, and then some.

Seeing my boy grow, every day, getting bigger and bigger because of my nursing him, and feeding him my milk is so rewarding and amazing and makes the whole rocky journey worth continuing on.

How long will I nurse? I don’t know. Six months? A year? Who knows how long we’ll be on this journey but we’re back in gear, and we’re both in it for the long haul.

In case you weren’t aware – World Breastfeeding Week is from Aug 1- Aug 7, 2013!

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Recipe: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you’re a nursing mama, you know that there are number of foods that can assist with any sort of supply issues that may arise. When I saw lactation cookies come up in conversation on my mama group’s facebook page, I knew I had to try them.

What makes them so lactation friendly? This post does a good job explaining the key ingredients and how they help, but it’s all about the oatmeal, brewers yeast and flax seed. I accidentally forgot the brewers yeast but I did have the oatmeal and flax seed. I did still see a slight uptick in my supply (and I mean very slight). Lately I’ve been mildly concerned about whether Ethan is getting enough to eat – he seems to be eating for shorter periods of time, and more frequently. Whether this is a concern or not, I don’t know, since he still seems to be gaining weight. I’m going to make another batch in the next few days after I pick up some brewers yeast. In addition, I’ll start eating more, not that I’m dieting (I don’t believe in diets. I believe in eating healthy and balanced) but I think I often don’t eat enough calories. Because I’ve been working out, I need to make sure that I’m eating enough to compensate for the fact that I’m nursing AND working out. Do I need to worry about my supply? Ehh, probably not according to KellyMom but can you ever be too cautious?

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lactation cookies
{via my mama’s group/an LC at AAMC}

Ingredients

1 c. butter/margarine
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
4 T water
2 T flaxseed meal
2 large eggs
1 t vanilla
2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
3 c. oats (thick cut if you have them)
1 c. (or more) chocolate chips
2 T. brewers yeast (be generous)

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix together flaxseed meal and water and set aside for 3-5 minutes.

Cream butter (or margarine) and sugars. Add eggs one at a time and mix well. Stir flaxseed mixture and add with vanilla to the butter mixture. Beat until blended.

 

Stir together dry ingredients except oats and chips. Add to butter mixture. Stir in oats and chips.

Scoop or drop onto baking sheet, preferably lined with parchment.

The dough is a little crumbly, so it may help to use a scoop.

Bake for 8-12 minutes. Makes about 6 dozen (depending on size of cookie). May be frozen for future use.

All in all, regardless of whether they really help with milk supply, it’s still a delightful cookie recipe. Next time? I might add peanut butter chips.

Don’t want to make your own cookies? Check out the MilkMakers website to order a pre-made mix subscribe to mail order cookies.

Hey mamas: did you have any supply issues? Any miracle cures that worked to boost your supply? 

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Nursing…what no one tells you

Here’s one thing I’ve learned over the past month…nursing ain’t easy. No matter how many books you read, classes you go to, and people you talk to…it’s something you don’t really “get” until you try it. It’s not “instinctual,” and it can be frustrating…despite it being natural. This is especially true if baby doesn’t latch well. Which my baby hasn’t…since day 1.

After I got into recovery after my cesarean, I was given the opportunity to nurse Ethan, I attempted, and the nurses in recovery told me my nipples were too flat and promptly threw a nipple shield at me – figuratively, not literally. Things didn’t get much better from there. On night three after four straight hours of a screaming baby, despite every attempt to pump/nurse to squeeze every ounce of colostrum out of me for my hungry boy, we supplemented with formula – I’ve never felt so helpless. I can’t imagine what hubs was thinking with a screaming newborn and a sobbing wife at 3am – especially as sleep deprived as we were (are still mind you).

We tried, over the next few days, to latch without the nipple shield with small bouts of success but after a couple minutes of latching properly he’d push me away.

After more research, I’m getting the sense that it’s a flow issue. He becomes fussy, and on a bad nursing session, he’ll scream til he’s red in the face. We’ve worked on and off with latching and he just…doesn’t seem to want to without that damn shield.

There have been tears… many of those. And lots of sleepless nights.

I have to wonder (and I need to meet with a LC to confirm) if I have a hyperactive letdown – which may be causing Ethan’s over fussiness, gassiness and poor latch. Because he’ll latch…for a minute or two and then push me away as he gets sprayed in the face by my milk. There’s nothing more frustrating and upsetting than a hungry baby pushing away the food you’re trying to give him.

But no one tells you this stuff. No one tells you you’ll wake up feeling like your boobs are going to fall off when your milk first comes in (holy engorgement batman). No one tells you that you’ll cry when baby won’t latch correctly and you feel like a failure. No one tells you how much your nipples will just hurt from baby latching poorly and attempting to relatch. No one tells you how tiring it’ll be being the sole provider of food and nourishment for your little one. No one tells you any of that.

They just tell you this is the best thing for baby for so many reasons (which I am not at all disputing). You’ll be told over and over again that your life is no longer your own that baby dictates everything from here on out – God forbid you take him out in public and God forbid you rely on the nipple shield. And though everyone has the best of intentions, none of the commentary is helpful or particularly encouraging. All it does is emphasize those often times overwhelming feelings of failure and frustration with yourself for not being able to get something that should be natural right. All the advice in the world from mom’s who have been there, while it’ll make you feel better knowing you’re not alone, won’t help because there’s nothing to subside that feeling of complete helplessness in the middle of the night when your baby is trying to eat and just can’t seem to get it right and gets frustrated.

Yesterday, I went to have coffee with a mom group I recently joined and while the lot of them were super comfortable and seemed at ease with nursing their little one’s discreetly in the coffee shop, I packed Ethan up when he got fussy and hungry because we’re just not there yet with the nursing in public. 90% of the time we still revert back to the nipple shield because it’s just…easier. Easier than being pushed away by a screaming, red faced infant. The other 10% is successful latching after he’s been nursing for a bit. But the nipple shield, while it’s to account for the pseudo-success of my breastfeeding journey over the past month, is messy. It’s really not good for public nursing, and shouldn’t be relied on for the long term which is why we’re trying to ween him off of it. But still, it made me sad to leave this amazing group of women, slinking away unable to say why and have a screaming infant in my car for the next fifteen minutes til we got home until I could get my gear (burp cloth, boppy and nipple shield. That go with me pretty much every where. Well. Not the Boppy) and feed the hungry, fussy bebe that I just couldn’t bring myself to nurse in public. Coordination? We don’t haz it.

Despite the frustrations though, there is something wonderfully rewarding about seeing a happily full baby resting next to you, too full to continue, sleeping soundly. There is an amazing feeling of accomplishment knowing that your baby is gaining weight at a healthy clip thanks to the nourishment you provide for him. And the feeling of warmth you get when baby looks up at you while he suckles, as if thanking you for the nourishment is incredible. No one tells you all that either.

{after a 3am nursing session}

Thus far, breastfeeding is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done but also one of the most frustrating…something no one ever told me was even possible. And while rewarding…I can’t help but feel like a complete failure at times. And no one tells you that that feeling will be impossibly overwhelming when you least expect it.

Did you/do you nurse? What was your experience like?

 

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