Wednesday, October 23, 2013
It's time to talk about breastfeeding.
I've mentioned in a few posts, that I was really surprised at how tough breastfeeding was. When I was pregnant I researched every single part of pregnancy, labor, delivery and taking care of a newborn. I even taught myeslf about 100 words and counting, of sign language, so that I can start signing to Aria (starting in 2 weeks) and she can learn to sign before she learns to talk. I love researching things and teaching.
I never once thought to do any reading on breastfeeding. I just thought it was one of those things that was natural. The baby comes out, the mother holds him/her and they magically start breastfeeding. I mean, it has been working since the beginning of time so it must pretty easy to pick up.
There is a huge learning curve for the mother and baby and a lot of other possible issues that can all be tied to breastfeeding.
I believe that whichever method (breastfeeding or formula) a mother chooses to feed her child is her choice and no one else should make her feel any sort of negative feelings about that. I've seen a lot of negativity flying around about mothers food choices for their children. Being a mother is the hardest thing I've ever done and I can't be the only person who feels this way. It's the most important role I've ever played and it's crazy to me that other mothers can be so judgemental and self righteous. We're all struggling to maintain our sanity ladies...let's not forget that were on the same team.
When I got pregnant, my plan was to exclusively breastfeed. I really like all of the health benefits and mental benefits tied to breastfeeding. Plus it's free. There's also something to be said about the fact that it's pretty amazing how our bodies produce this perfect food taylored for our babies.
Our struggles started early. Once my milk came in we had some really tough latch issues. Aria could not latch and it was causing us both a lot of stress. She was screaming because she was hungry and I was frustrated because I felt like I was doing something wrong. I went and saw a lactation consultant 2 days after coming home from the hospital. After a long session, we hadn't really gotten anywhere. My breasts were very full and Aria just could not get latched.
She suggested that I try a nipple shield, until we could get a good latch. The LC told me that often if a baby can't latch, using a nipple sheild can give them a way to "practice", then we could wean off the shield. A nipple shield sits over your nipple and it gives the baby an easier vehicle to latch on to. It also slows down the flow of an overfull breast, which is helpful in the beginning, when your boobs are engorged. I was a little disappointed because it would be a piece a silicone between the two of us, and I was really looking forward to the skin to skin bonding that occurs during breastfeeding...but I was desperate.
The nipple shield worked and Aria was able to latch and eat!
We used the nipple shield for 3 weeks, then weaned off of it. I worked on weaning her off little by little...then one day she just didn't want it anymore.
The next few days started to get tough. Aria was screaming and having explosive poops full of mucus. We went back to the pediatrition and he concluded that Aria was allergic to something I was eating. He suggested that I cut out dairy, gluten and soy. I was happy to. I would do anything to relieve some of the pain my baby was experiencing. Plus, that would basically put me back on Paleo...which I was familiar with.
I cut everything out of my diet but the days were still bad. She would scream because her stomach hurt and it made me feel awful because I knew it was because of my milk. Then over the next few days she started having other symptoms. She was having terrible reflux (about 5 spit ups/projectile vomits after every feeding). I wondered if she was keeping any of the milk down. During the nights she had so much congestion in her chest because of the reflux, that she couldn't breath...which meant she barely slept. She wanted to sleep, but she couldn't because she was choking on either spit up or mucus.
Nothing wakes you up faster than the sound of your newborn choking. It was scary. I also felt like I was going insane from lack of sleep. We went back to the pediatrition and he concluded that all of these things could be linked to the allergy.
Additionally there was the actual act of breastfeeding. I was dealing with a super case of oversupply, even after the initial few weeks. So feeding in itself was rough. She was constantly getting sprayed in the face with milk, choking, gulping, pulling off numerous times per nursing session, crying, kicking, screaming, arching her back trying to get away. Also, she would only eat for about 5 minutes a session (maxing out right around 8 minutes) because she was taking in so much so fast. Because she couldn't nurse for very long, she was hungry hourly, day and night. It was exhausting and the bonding that I was looking forward to, was not happening.
Not to mention, my chest was constantly full and constantly in pain.
As the weeks passed, I felt overwhelmed with frustration and guilt. She didn't seem to be getting any better and I felt like I was doing everything in my power. I followed the no dairy, no gluten, no soy diet to a tee. I would sit her upright for 30 minutes after feeding, to try to keep some of the milk down. We spent many nights and mornings in the steamy bathroom to try to break up the congestion. I put eucalyptus oil in the humidifier. I tried expressing milk before I fed her, when I could. We just weren't seeing any results.
I also felt angry because I felt like it wasn't fair (Ugh! I hate those words...it's not fair. They sound so adolescent) that I work so hard to be healthy, yet I'm still causing discomfort to my child. I'd like to add that the postpartum hormones are totally koo koo.
Finally after 4 weeks her gas started to subside. Ahhh, some relief. She wasn't screaming from gas pains and wasn't having crazy looking mucus poops anymore.
Unfortunately the awful congestion, bad reflux and oversupply issues still loomed.
The following weeks were hard. Aria started going on nursing strikes because of the oversupply. Sometimes it would be just for a feeding and then it turned into an entire day. That was really hard for me. I felt like a failure and I cried a lot. Those days she was on strike I would pump and give her a bottle of breastmilk. The time she was on strike for the whole day I gave her pumped milk for every feeding.
Once I was able to get over myself, I realized something. It was kind of nice. She ate happily and wasn't in distress. She didn't unlatch 10 times, she wasn't kicking and screaming, or being sprayed in the face with milk, and she was peaceful. She also wasn't having nearly as many spit up/vomit episodes as usual. While she ate she stared into my eyes so sweetly. And that night she slept for 4 hours at a time, only waking to eat twice.
We kept at it and tried to nurse the following days. Seeing your baby scream and try to get away from you when you are attempting to feed her will break your heart.
Six days ago I started exclusively pumping. I've been feeding Aria pumped breastmilk since, and the difference it has made is unbelievable. She has been sleeping soundly, not choking, and the reflux is finally starting to get under control. I'm hopeful that as the reflux relax's, the congestion will also wind down. Yes, it is a ton of extra work to pump so much, but I'm committed to breastfeeding my child, and I'm making it work.
I purchased a super pimp pump, and it is amazing. Especially compared to my insurance supplied pump. I did my research and we've gone into this full force. I'm fortunate enought to have the milk supply, and I know this is what I want for Aria, so were jumping in head first.
To give you an idea of this oversupply...Aria eats about 25 ounces per day. I now pump 40 - 50 ounces per day, easily...and this is with me doing 15 minute pumping sessions each. It's insane. My boobs are always full. I haven't been able to face the shower and let the water run down my front in 6 weeks. You ladies know what I'm talking about.
Right now I pump about 8 times per day, including overnight. No, I don't need to do that to feed Aria, but I'm starting with that for two reasons. One, because I want to maintain my supply to ensure, now that Aria isn't feeding from me, I continue to produce. (I've read that many women who experience oversupply, end up with an undersupply from attempting to cut back on milk production.) And two, because I'm freezing all of the extra. That way when she hits a growth spurt I will have the extra milk to help supplement.
I'm finally feeling at peace with this and it's really nice.
Happy Wednesday everyone!!!
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Hello there! Were officially one month...well, 5 weeks...post delivery of our leaky creature. I can honestly say, the past 5 weeks have been the most challenging I've ever experienced. Taking care of a newborn is mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting. And cute...
Labor, delivery and learning the baby care ropes, have given me an entirely new perspective on mothers. They are some bad ass bitches.
This first month has been full of a lot of surprises and a huge learning curve. Biology kicks in when it comes to the basics...but everything else is like taking a crash course in underwater basket weaving, that is being taught in Mandarin, while a screaming human wails in your ear to hurry the F up.
What has been the most challenging part of the first month?
I have a lot to say about breastfeeding. Enough for it's own post...which I'm sure only 5 people will read, because well...it's breastfeeding. But it has been an experience that should be shared. If not for the release...for the support. More on that later.
I've said it before and I'll say it again...this has been the hardest part of the first month. Not just the act of breastfeeding...but everything that goes along with it. The supposed bonding, pumping, oversupply, strong let down, milk messes, leaking, engorgement, screaming, refusing to eat, Aria's mystery allergy, reflux, gas pain, reflux pain, wondering if I'm doing something monumentally wrong. And just for the record...breast milk stains!
I am committed to breastfeeding because it's what I want for Aria. But it is not without a mental and emotional price. I've had more breastfeeding meldowns than anything else.
Everything else is falling into place. She changes so much every single day. I feel so fortunate to be able to see her changing and growing because it happens so fast. She had her first developmental growth spurt last week. We pulled through, and after it was over she was doing things I had never seen before. She makes eye contact longer, she actually trys to reach for the animals on her hanging gym thing, she coos and she lets out a few smiles. She also grew out of all of her newborn clothes over the weekend.
We've been doing all kinds of fun things. It isn't always easy to get out of the house to do things. Who am I kidding...It's NEVER easy to get out of the house to do things. But when we get moving...even though it's after noon, it's so worth it.
We take a lot of walks.
The Baby K'Tan wrap is my favorite carrying device for Aria. It's comfortable and she love it. I reccommend everyone get one! Even if you don't have a baby. You can just put your stuff in it.
We took a trip to the pumpkin patch...
Plotting how to take over the world...after thier naps of coarse.
We run errands, take trips through Whole Foods begging for free samples, frequent the baby stores, play chess, sing songs (she is a huge Jack Johnson fan), talk politics, read books, discuss the importance of being a strong, independant woman.
She isn't really old enough to grasp what were doing yet...but it's fun to introduce her to new things. She's starting to become aware of things around her now, so it's interesting and fun to watch her look at new places and new things. Today were going to take a walk down at the beach.
This will actually be our second attempt. We tried this 2 weeks ago and she had a melt down at the start of the boardwalk...so we came home.
How am I doing? I'm doing pretty well. There are some really hard days. And there are some really unbelievable days. Even on the hardest days I'm still so thankful that our amazing little girl is here.
It has been difficult for me to get used to not having a schedule. I'm a list maker, schedule follower, task completer. I love getting things done and crossing it off my list. Not happening anymore...at least for a while. Aria calls the shots now. We do a lot of eating, sleeping, crying and playing...over and over again. The fear I had of my house being messy is now a reality. During her naps I usually have adequate time to clean the first floor (kitchen, dining room, living room). Anything upstairs is a free for all right now. Guests are not allowed upstairs. It's a safety hazzard.
I feel very guilty that I can't spend as much time with the dogs now. When I was pregnant and home on maternity leave, we did tons of fun things and we had a lot of snuggle time. Now I'm taking care of Aria all day and she isn't yet at the point where they see her as fun...so they just lay around looking sad.
I am back to working out regularly. It is very important to me that I keep a little bit of time set aside to be me and stay in touch with tami. Getting my workouts in is very tricky because I'm doing them at odd times of the day. If my mother in law stops in to see the baby, I'll dash out on a run. While my sister is getting ready for work, I'll park Aria's swing in her room and sneak a workout in. And if none of that works, my wonderful husband will come home early so that I can get a few miles in. He's either extremely understanding of my committment to fitness...or he's afraid of the beast that will arise if I can't channel my energy into some fitness.
I'm able to get in 4 days of running in and 2 days of strength training, right now. I overlap one run day and one strength day...so I'm working out 5 days a week, right now.
It is very hard to squeeze in sometimes...but it's a priority to me so I make it work.
I'm still dairy free, gluten free and soy free because of Aria's mystery allergy. I have to say though...I feel really good. It's challenging to come up with meals during the day sometimes...because I don't have much time, or I have a baby in my arms. However, because I'm eating minimal processed food, and very nutrient dense foods, I feel really great. Which is important because I haven't slept more than 2 consecutive hours in 5 weeks.
Well, I'm off to spend some time with my puppies before the lion cub awakens.