Posts tagged ‘birth experience’

Stuff.

I don’t want this post to be a mish-mash, but unfortunately that’s what it may come down to.  I’ve spent too long wanting to do this post and just avoiding it altogether, simply because I couldn’t get my thoughts in check, and because honestly?  I thought I was being ridiculous and silly and over-reacting in a sense.  I am going to stop myself right there and not excuse any feelings, because I hate when other people do that in themselves!  Bottom line, if we think something matters, if we are bothered by something, then, it matters. 

I’ve posted the boy’s birth story with promises to myself to do another birth story from more of an analytical point of view.  I still haven’t done that, but this is a start.  Basically, in a nut shell, I was induced and (shockingly or not, depending on who you talk to) had an incredible birth experience for the most part.  I was induced with Cervadil (a cervical ripening agent) and then received Sintocinon (synthetic oxytocin).  I also had an Epidural, and while I loved it at the time, an Epidural or any medicated pain-relief would not be my first choice next go.  Considering how inductions can and often do go, I think that we were blessed, and lucky.  The boy and I were healthy throughout labouring, and the delivery pretty well went off without a fly.  My boy was born healthy as can be, and I was ecstatic.  After I gave birth, I became immersed in a world of birth, the online natural birth communities, reading about how awful and terrible interventions and pain-relief drugs can be, and how they can affect bonding and breastfeeding and the birth experience as a whole.  As much as I appreciated the information, and still do so much, I hated how I often felt like garbage after reading them.  Was it so shameful that I was induced?  I felt like I had to justify it.  I still sometimes do.  While I wish I would have been armed with more education, information, research so as to possibly avoid an induction (though high blood pressure can be SO damaging to mama and baby and I do think inductions can be medically necessary), the reality is, I was induced.  So sue me?  Except, not.

I’ve read far too much ‘all or nothing’ sentiments, but I’ve also read a lot of good, supportive information from strong communities.  However, it’s the all or nothing that gets me.  I despise how women are nearly made to feel bad if they had a good relationship with their doctor, or heaven forbid, liked their doctor.  But doctors are evil, money-hounds!  Truth is, I liked (and still like) our family doctor.  How dare I like someone who recommended an induction, I know.  The mere thought is paralyzing to some.  I don’t feel like she recommended an induction with her interests at stake (financially or convenience).  I felt supported by her, and honestly, when she came to the hospital the day I was in labour (she came 3 times I do believe), I felt calmed by her presence.   She was and still is a great support.  She spent an hour with us at our appointments, not in and out in 15 minutes.  If, for our next baby, the home birth/midwife route doesn’t work out for whatever reason, I would feel 100% confident having our doctor at the birth.  Confession: while I ‘interviewed’ her prior to deciding on her as our caregiver, there are more questions I would want to ask.  Things I’d want to clarify, and to have a good strong birth plan in place.

I think as women we need to choose our caregivers carefully.  We need to ensure that our doctor’s or midwife’s philosophy of birth matches our own, and that we will be able to feel comfortable and supported during such an extremely transformative experience.   There are great midwives and awful midwives and there are wonderful doctors and absolutely terrible doctors.  One size does not fit all, and families need to go with their gut.  What feels right?  What feels good?  Do you want to ditch the doc and find a good strong midwife, maybe birth your baby at home, maybe not?  Great, do that.  Are you fine with having your baby in a hospital attended by your doctor, not so cool with the midwife-route?  That’s fine too.  Do you feel comfortable having an unassisted birth in the comforts of your home, with only your spouse, your children, and possibly a friend or two as support?  So awesome and I support you 100%.

So, that was totally an aside, and what I meant to right about was the emotional pain that I experienced during our post-birth experience.   Like I said, I put it off for so long, because I couldn’t formulate the thoughts or the words.  I felt for so long that I was worked up about something that didn’t matter.  Sometimes I really need people to flip a new perspective on things for me so that I can give myself permission to feel and to heal.  Is that healthy, no, not necessarily all the time, but in this case, it’s what I needed and so I’m allowing myself that.

When I had the boy, after an hour of pushing, he popped out and I’m not really exaggerating.  None of this head, shoulders, rest of the body biz.  He flew out in one push, which I think is largely attributed to a) epidural and reducing sensation resulting in me not ‘going with the flow’ in terms of pushing b) strong contraction + strong push also connected to not necessarily knowing how strong I was pushing.  So needless to say, my perineum wasn’t in the best of shape.  I remember after I gave birth, I didn’t want to put my legs down.  It. hurt. so. bad.  I knew that that the on-call OB/GYN was going to be attending for ‘repairs’ (it was a partial 3rd degree tear, so our doctor referred to the OB) and the mere thought of getting ‘comfortable’ and then having to sprawl out again when the OB got there, was enough to send me packin’.  I think I eventually put my legs down, though, because it took I think 30-45 minutes for the OB to actually get there and start stitching.  I received my hospital health records a couple weeks ago, and it surprised me how long it took for them to get there, but how little time it actually took to do the repairs – 15 minutes, yet it felt like an hour at LEAST.

The main part I wanted to talk about, was not necessarily the tearing or the repairs and healing themselves.  I’ve talked about that, but I wanted to talk about the OB’s words and how they stung.  I am doing everything I can to hold myself back from apologizing for feeling what I’m feeling.  One side of my brain + heart is telling me to just get it out there, talk about it, recognize how it hurt you, and proceed to heal.  The other side is telling me to woman up, suck it up, stop making a big deal out of it, and get on with your life.  It’s ridiculous really.  It’s not holding me back from living my life, but it is something that bothers me, that makes me shudder.  One thing that does bother me about blogging about it, is that taken out of context, I don’t think the feeling, the harshness, is quite there.  And I guess I just have to be okay with that, because that is part of what this (blogging) is about.

When I was getting stitched up, it was very painful.  It is the part I remember the most (in terms of pain) about the experience.  I would have thought because I had an epidural, that it would have been a bit more numbed up, but it just wasn’t.  And so it hurt.  A lot.  I was in visible pain, squirming, but trying to stay still so they could do their thing.  It was the OB and a resident, and I believe it was the resident who did most of the repairs, with the OB pitching in here and there.  I asked how much longer, and the OB said it will be awhile.  A little bit after that, I asked him “Are you almost done?”  and his reply, the words that stung, that sting, and that took all of the power he had and threw it against me, “Do you want me to fix you up or not?”  

It’s the control thing.  The power.  He took all the power he had, as a man in authority, in power, in ‘good standing’ in the college of medicine or what have you, and used it against me.  His words bit me ,they cut a knife through the vulnerable state I was in, and they hurt my heart and they ached my soul.  A couple weeks ago I was talking to Kyle about this experience, and he put that into perspective.  I wondered for a long time why they bothered me.  I knew they were insensitive and rude, disrespectful comments to make, but to still sting 11 months later?   Last night, a dear friend and I were reminiscing about our birth experiences, and she put it into perspective again for me, as she tends to do with a lot of things, and said that while she didn’t want to assume anything, she saw his comment, his treatment of me, as emotional abuse.   I asked Kyle why he didn’t say anything, why he didn’t stand up for me, when the OB was being so completely awful.  He barely remembers the OB and that moment – his main priority at that moment was his newborn baby, whom he was so over the moon with, and supporting me, in the various stages of post-partum pain.

I’ve thought about doing a complaint about this man’s treatment towards me.  I haven’t taken any steps, and honestly, I don’t know what I would need to do, but I’m still considering it.  Why is it okay to let him make other women feel like this?  Like I said, language, words, are powerful.  I really think some caregivers ought to learn some sensitivity, empathy, and plain and simple caring for the human spirit.  Compassion isn’t that difficult to embrace is it?

I am an emotional being, and I have softened up a lot since I had the boy.  I was pretty soft before.  I’ve always been a sensitive soul, but toss in pregnancy, birthing, and being a mother into that mix and wow.  Wow.  Shit stings, you know?  I’ve spent many a year, many a decade, ignoring my feelings and truckin’ on for the sake of others, and even myself.  Easier to put a smile on sometimes, isn’t it?  I’m sure we all know about that.  I think sometimes people see me as some sort of weird pillar of strength.  I am strong, and really, it’s because I have so much strength in my life.  Family, friends, resources, things.  I have great influencers of strength, strong support networks, and people that encourage me in any way possible.  I have ‘stuff’ too.  And sometimes?  That stuff gets shoved under other stuff, and then it never comes out.  Or if it does, it manifests in ways that are maybe not as healthy as say, letting that stuff out.

 

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October 6, 2011 at 10:10 am 11 comments

Offbeat Mama!

I had planned to do a post on my review of the DivaCup, however, I noticed that I got some traffic via Offbeat Mama, and realized that my post is already up!  I may have read the e-mail wrong, or perhaps there was an error in the date they told me, but, my post is up!  It is a condensed version, obviously, because the actual version is very long – but I am thrilled nonetheless and so excited to be sharing my experiences and sharing in other’s experiences as well by way of my story.

I am so thrilled, I really really am.  The response already has been absolutely incredible.  I want to reply to every single comment, and when I have a bit more time, I absolutely will.  I feel truly honoured, blessed, and lucky to be able to exchange stories, share information, and support with other parents in such a great capacity.  I have learned an insane amount about parenting, about life, and about myself as a result of birthing, the transformative experience to motherhood that it is, as well as breastfeeding, and the journey that it is.  To be able to network with others, belong to a community of like-minded individuals as well as individuals with completely different values, philosophies as myself – is incredible.  I feel like I have had the opportunity of a lifetime.

So with that, we’ll talk about the DivaCup later.  For now, I’m just going to celebrate this.  I’m going to bed one happy mama tonight.

XO, to all of you.  Through and through.

 

 

 

September 26, 2011 at 10:35 pm 4 comments

September 28, Mark It!

I got a very pleasant e-mail yesterday from an administrator on Offbeat Mama, and it said:

Hey Trista!  This will run on Sept.28 at 11AM PST.

And by this, she is referring to my breastfeeding story that I submitted, the same one I posted on my blog 2 months ago.   I was really surprised to get the e-mail, as I wasn’t sure if they would publish my story.  They get a ton of submissions, and obviously cannot publish all, so needless to say, I am pleasantly surprised.

By posting it on my blog, I had an amazing response.  All of your replies brought tears to my eyes.  I recognize the emotional extent of the breastfeeding journey, through and through, or at least from the perspective of someone who has had struggles, and so I kind of feel like I can say, I get it. 

I had a Facebook chat with a friend who is a Certified Lactation Educator.  We have talked extensively about breastfeeding, our journeys, and our birth experiences, and we have quite similar birth experiences and very eerily similar breastfeeding stories.   She was curious about my situation, and so was wondering if she could ask a few questions.  Of course I did not mind, anything to try to get to the root of what went on!

From what I informed her about my pregnancy and about our birth experience, she feels 95% certain that my struggles were not related to anything physiological. Of course, she cannot say for sure, but I really do respect her education, background, knowledge, and experiences with breastfeeding.  She feels that there were a whole bunch of things lined up against me, and that is what affected our journey.   So, it was more circumstantial, based on her evaluation.  What she said that sort of summed it up was:

IV fluids, epidural and pitocin cause the body to swell. The tissue in the breasts swell and prevent the ducts from releasing milk. It can cause a delay in mature milk coming in. It also contributes to severe latching problems for the baby, so they are not able to remove colostrum/milk. When the milk is not removed, feedback inhibitor of lactation builds up, and tells your body to stop making milk.

She also offered to support me next go, which is just fabulous.  When I say friend, I guess I sort of mean acquaintance (in the best way possible), and only because I feel like I know her well, but we don’t hang out real-time!  It was good to talk with her, and have her take on things.  I know it’s really hard to pinpoint any answer, and while I’ve already considered the Epidural/IV/Pitocin combo, as well as had it suggested by health care providers, it was good that echoed.  I want to feel confident for next time around, and this helps me to feel so.

Anyway, I am passionate about breastfeeding.  I consider myself a breastfeeding advocate, which probably sounds silly.  But with that being said, I consider myself a women’s rights advocate, feminist, advocate for personal choice, and with that, I think the BEST thing we can do is support women, support health care providers, and provide breastfeeding education that SO many of us have to search down on the Internet for rather than being provided it through and through, no questions asked.  This is information that should be readily available, and not just when there are issues.  Women should have access to support peoples if they need be, if THEY feel they need, and not denied when someone thinks that there is no need.  Families should be educated on all the feeding choices for their newborn/toddler/child, and make a decision from there.  Only a woman and her family knows what is best.

I am excited to be able to share my story, and to be able to heal from it, and learn from it.  I feel honoured to be able to share and support other women, and to hear other women’s stories, as heart breaking as they may be.  I really feel like I can hear people out.  I’m not a fan of “I know how you feel” because obviously, I don’t, but I feel that in this situation, I can get as close as possible, but because breastfeeding is so personal, I truly respect and honour each woman/baby/family’s personal experience.

I have learned a crap load, and would love to be a Lactation Educator so that I can fuel my passion and support others that are learning the ropes of breastfeeding.  Actually, what I really want, is to take the doula training course.  That is my next goal and I hope to achieve it by spring of 2012.  I think that’s doable.  The only thing holding me back is budget.  It’s just not in the budget.  Unfortunately, because there is a course starting up in a couple weeks that I would love to enroll in.  Thems the breaks.

So to wrap it up, on September 28 (Wednesday!) check out www.offbeatmama.com and you will see my story.  I am pretty excited by this, I really feel honoured that they will be sharing my story with the world, on a site where there is some major exposure, and a lot of really good people who read and belong to that community.  I’m really beyond thrilled.

September 22, 2011 at 9:58 pm 4 comments

C25K: Week 9 Day 2

Soooooooooo close!  I THINK this might have been my best run yet.  I ran 3.88km in 30 minutes, and combined with my warm-up and cool-down, I did 4.8km in about 38 minutes.  Not too bad really, right?  I’m kinda impressed with myself.  Slightly.  I did a few calculations and given my running pace/distance, it took me on average 7.7 minute to run 1km, so at that rate, it would take me about 38.5 minutes do run 5km.  AWESOME!

I can’t believe I have 1 more run and I am done.  Just like that.  And to be honest?  As much as I want to believe in myself, and as far as I’ve come, I wasn’t always at this place.  Before I started, I doubted.  I really wondered if I would make it this far.  Of course I WANTED to but if I could and would was another story.  I’ve joined many gyms, different programs, classes, and what have you.  I typically get bored by things after a couple months, but not this.  I feel like I am just getting started, and that?  That feels amazing.

The runner’s high is like no other and it is starting to control my life.  Everything I do reflects back to running (well, and of course being a mama!) and I am pumped.  I had this revelation tonight when I was running, and it was that now that I have started running, there is no looking back.  That is not an option, because if that happens, and I come to a standstill, I’m going to have to start at square one again.  And while there might not be anything wrong with that for you, there is a LOT wrong with that for me.  I feel like this has just been weaseled into my routine, I’ve adapted it and we’re friends now, like, besties.  I can’t let go of this, because if I do, I’m letting go of a very important goal, a dream, and letting go of dreams just seems so… emo?  And lame.  And discouraging.  So we won’t go there.

I say we make August the month of really tackling those pesky fears, of really letting go, grabbing a hold of them, and wrestling them to the ground.  I started this program and June, and this is where we’re at now, almost done.  June was the beginning of my tackle all the fears in the world way of living, and so far so good.  It was not only a huge success, but it has continued to be, and it has only grown.

I know I’ve compared running to breastfeeding, and I think I’ve compared it to birthing as well, but can we go there again please?  Birth can be such a huge mind thing.  With mental blocks and the works.  It’s like running.  They’re both physiological to an extent yes, but I think a huge part of it is that we have to go DEEP within ourselves and git’er done.  We need to conquer it in whatever way is going to make us feel most comfortable.  For some people birthing, that is in a hospital and for some it is in a home.  For some runners, that is running on a busy street and for some it is running on the back streets, along the river at dusk.  There’s a lot of preparation that needs to go on.  Education.  Research.  Building up your knowledge base.  Healing your heart and going forward.  When I was about to give birth to Cade, when I was labouring, I kept checking in with myself, making sure I felt like I was in a good head space, making sure I felt positive and empowered.  I do the same when I’m running.  I remind myself that I am capable of this because I am this.   It’s like one of my favourite birthing mantras – you can overcome and work through the contractions, they are not stronger than you, you are the contractions.  Sounds fluffy and crunchy, but I think it ought to work.  I never really realized that or internalized that until after I birthed my precious boy, but I think that statement is incredibly powerful and important.  I know birthing and running are not the same, trust me, I realize that.  What I am doing is comparing my mind sets in both of them, and pointing out how similar they can be for me, and why they have both transformed my mindset and the way I live my life in such huge, powerful ways.

So day 3, let’s do this.  It’s going to be a good one, a big one, and I’m not going to wrestle you to the ground, because that wouldn’t be very indicative of where we started and how far we’ve come.  I’m going to grab you, love you all up, get all huggy and romanticize the shit out of you.  You’re a run, I’m a runner.  Let’s do this.

August 2, 2011 at 10:52 pm 2 comments

C25K: Week 9 Day 1

We’re in the final stretch now and it feels OH. SO. GOOD.

I’ve been saying and thinking “I’m doing this! I’m doing this!” all along, and pretty soon I can say “I DID IT!” and do you know how friggin’ good that feels?  Conquering a fear, something I told myself I couldn’t do, and instead, went on to prove myself, and I’m sure many other naysayers wrong?  Shit yeah!  I belong in some kind of new club or something now.  I feel like when I see people running, and I’m just out for a leisurely walk, I want to yell out, “I can do that too!  I’m just not doing it right now.”  

I did my first run of the last week on a treadmill, because by the time I got my butt in gear to go, it was way too flippin’ hot and I didn’t want to battle heat exhaustion like last time I decided it was an amazing idea to git’er done in the sun.  I don’t know my exact distance, because the treadmill kept turning off whenever I’d switch the fan on, but I THINK it was almost 3 miles, which is aaaaaaaawesome for me, best yet.  There was a time where I had the speed set to 5.5 mph!  But my average was about 5.0 mph, which is still a huge step.  The only other time I ran on a treadmill, I was running at about 4.3 mph, and that was week 6 day 3 I think?  We’re making headway, oh yes we are.

My weight loss is at about 10 lbs, I think I’ve posted that before, but even more awesome is my energy level has increased and I am very aware of that.  My clothes are fitting looser, and I feel like I “take up less space” than I did before.  I am learning to love my body again, but we’ve still got some work to do.  I went through a nasty phase when I was a few months post-partum.  It was hard and difficult and… interesting, because I had worked so long to come to a sort of peace with my body and its “imperfections.”  So when my mind came crashing down and tried to tell me to hate on myself, I sort of listened to it at times, and we were not in a happy place as much as we should’ve been.  But we’re getting there!  We’re working on it, and there are so many contributing factors, including… my happy pills (Vitamin D and Omega 3’s), sunshine, exercise, well-balanced diet and treating myself one day a week, and most of all, my fricken’ awesome little family and life I’ve got going on here.  I’ve got to do a lot of reminders, daily almost, because I see things I don’t have but desperately want, and then I start to feel like a little kid and am sad that I can’t have such and such.  That’s when I have to take a tiny little step out of my mind, look at what I’ve got, as cliche as maybe it sounds, and re-evaluate.  We do that a lot lately.

I’m trying to think of a way to treat myself after I finish this program.  One thing I am doing is going out with a couple of my besties on Thursday.  I don’t do it very often so that will be a huge treat, however, I’d like to personally reward myself with something.  It’s hard when money is tight, so it can’t be anything too extravagant, and I don’t necessarily want it to be something food-related either.   Anyone have any ideas?   I’d love to buy myself a brand spankin’ new pair of awesome, pro-fitted runners, because I know that I need them to avoid potential injury, but I’d be looking at about a hundred dollar bill there.  We’ll see.  I haven’t bought myself new running shoes for about… 3 years, so, yeah, it’s probably really bad that I’m running in these ones, but they are in decent shape.  Still though, I need to get in on the shoe market SOON before I smash my feet all up.  So throw your ideas at me and we’ll see what we can do.

Oh and totally not C25K related, but I’m taking on a little project and I’m having a lot of fun with it.   I’m now an Admin on the Facebook page for The Birthing Site.  It’s awesome, informative, and fun.  I love to support amazing people as they go through an amazing stage in their life, and I am learning a lot.  You should come check it out.  You don’t have to agree with all of the articles posted, or links, or what have you.  We are welcoming of ALL birthing experiences, not just “natural”.  The main thing is we encourage woman to be educated about what ALL of their options may be, so they can make the right choice for THEM, which may not be the right choice for anyone else, but that’s not the important thing.  Come and say hello!

August 2, 2011 at 12:09 am 4 comments

A Story of Blessings, a Baby, and Breasts.

 

 

*EDIT: I forgot to add this within the story, and I just want to make a note that I did have blood work done in November when I was first struggling with low supply.  Nothing of concern was noted.  I also had more blood work (hormonal levels and thyroid) checked in March at my annual physical, and again, no concern.  I do realize this does not MEAN there are no physiological reasons, but these were explored and so that is why I am at such a loss!  Thank you for reading – I am overwhelmed with the response to this post, and I feel SO honoured to hear so many stories from amazing mamas.  <3 

When I was pregnant, one of the biggest themes present in my crazy, extremely vivid pregnancy-style dreams was that of breastfeeding.  My baby, in my dreams, was faceless, but beautiful.  I didn’t know if my baby was a boy or girl, because we had decided not to find out, let nature run it’s course, and find out when I gave birth to our child.  In my dreams, it was the same, I didn’t know if it was a boy or if it was a girl, and sometimes, it was a boy, and sometimes, it was a girl.  But for the most part, when I would dream about my baby, my baby was simply that – a baby.  But MY baby, a beautiful tiny little being, full of life, love, and full of dreams.

Just like I was.  I frequently had dreams about my unborn baby, and I would always wake up and tell Kyle what happened that previous night in dreamland.  Most of the time, it was nothing new.  Most of the time, it was simply that I was holding my baby, rocking my baby to sleep, and breastfeeding my baby in my arms.  Simple, right?

Throughout my pregnancy, and for any of you that have been pregnant I’m sure you can relate, one of the hot topics is how you are going to feed your baby, except it is not asked in such a way, it is asked of you if you are going to breastfeed.  It’s just one of those natural things, right?  Right.  I had done a lot of reading about pregnancy, birthing, and breastfeeding (however, not NEAR as much as I do now, the birth junkie that I am) and so I felt like I had a good handle on it.  I was not fearful of the labour or birthing process, in fact, I was looking forward to it.  I was amazed that my body was going to take over, with the aid of my brain and my baby, and we were going to do something miraculous, yet totally normal and happens all the time.

For the 9ish months that I was pregnant, I was waiting for my breasts to change.  I was waiting for them to get ginormous, to say the least, and it never happened.  I knew that this didn’t always happen, but I never really experienced much in the way of breast changes.  The only time I remember any pregnancy symptom that was breast-related, was in the summertime, being in the hot sun and going for dunks in the lake, and having the sorest most tender nipples EVER.  It was uncomfortable but secretly I was cheering inside because I had always wondered up to that point what was up with the lack of boobie changes?  On more than one occasion, did I wonder out loud if I would have issues with not being able to produce milk for my child because my breasts were not showing any evidence of this whole pregnant deal.

Cade was born on November 3 at 8:08pm and as most of you know, it was the most beautiful and transformative experience of my life.  Cade was born and I was born as a mother.  Just like that.  It still blows my mind, really.  He was immediately placed on my chest for me to introduce myself (though he had known me all along) and love all up.  I was in a state of complete bliss, and perhaps a slight amount of shock, but most of all, I was ecstatic and beside myself.  I couldn’t believe it.  “Oh my god, Oh my god!  I can’t believe this!  I can’t believe you are mine!  You are so cute!  Oh my god!  You are so beautiful!  I love you so much!”  I wish, to this day, that the moment that Cade was born was video’d, because it was incredible.  And not only that, but my declaration of love was, am I allowed to do this, flippin’ AWESOME.  I was over the moon for this little being!

And while I was beside myself, blissed right out, it did not cross my mind at that moment to breastfeed my son.  I don’t know if it crossed anyone’s mind, because it didn’t happen right then and there.  I wonder to this day if it would have made a difference, and I don’t THINK it would have, but I’m a sucker for not knowing.  I held my son for quite awhile, and Kyle and I gushed over him like mad.  I don’t remember timelines exactly, I don’t remember when he was taken to the warmer, Kyle right beside him for the whole time, and I don’t remember when they wrapped him all up, but I know that we had skin-to-skin for awhile.  I have tried not to have any regrets about this moment, because I know in my right, rational mind, there is nothing I can do differently about it, and having regrets is unhealthy.  So I don’t regret it, but I use it as a learning tool.  I would loved to have delayed everything, the “cleaning” of my son (rub that goodness right in!), the weighing, you name it, and I would’ve wanted us to attempt the breast crawl right off the bat, to initiate eye contact and bonding in such a way.

It wasn’t until we were up on post-partum, after I had showered and cleaned up, and after Cade had been wrapped in blankets, warmed right up, and had a bath, did we attempt breastfeeding.  He knew exactly what to do.  I remember the nurse that was helping me, bless her heart, said “look, wow, he knows exactly how to do this, he is a pro.”  I believed her and we went on with our night, as rough as it was.  Cade cried most of the night, despite frequent attempted feedings, cuddles, and skin-to-skin.   Kyle and I were both exhausted, and I broke down at one point because I “didn’t know what to do and I was so tired” and the nurse swaddled Cade up tightly, rocked him a bit, and handed him back to me.  It was not until 6am that he finally got some sleep, and so did I.

I always say that the beginning of motherhood is so insane.  You start off after going hours, days without sleep, and then you are thrown into a whole new wild world of breastfeeding, caring for a baby, and trying to heal, physically and emotionally from everything that just took place.  That’s exactly where I was at.  I could barely lie in bed without my perineum aching, and not only that, but I couldn’t pee due to the epidural/IV combo I had been infused with.  Toss in sore and cracked nipples into the mix and I’m spent.

The next day I remember being a bit calmer.  I would frequently breastfeed Cade, and I felt that things were going well.  I was in a sleep-deprivation induced haze, but was over the moon and in love with everything.  The tears poured out of my eyes over any and everything.  I was tired, so I cried.  I was in love with Kyle as a father, and so I cried again.   I remember the nurses in the hospital telling me to rest up that day, as baby’s second night of life was usually chaotic and they wanted to be up eating all the time.  I felt somewhat prepared, but that didn’t really happen.  That night, actually went off without much of a hitch.  Cade would wake up every 1.5-2 hours to feed, and would then go back to sleep.  Kyle and I woke up feeling somewhat refreshed, but still extremely exhausted.  Mostly, we were excited to be taking our little boy home, as that was the plan.  They tested his bili levels and they were fine, he was not jaundiced, and so we were able to go home.  That morning, I remember asking a nurse for the help of a lactation consultant, to ensure that everything really WAS going well and that we were latching.  The nurse basically denied me this request, saying that the LC’s were usually reserved for individuals who were struggling and having breastfeeding issues.  At the time, I accepted this, especially because she told me she had a passion for breastfeeding and offered to help me out.  I thought this was fine and dandy, and she really WAS of great assistance and showed me different positions to ease my achy nipples, however, looking back, I do think this was wrong.  I should have not have been denied the support of a LC by any means, and while I don’t think this affected our journey at all, I just think it’s unfortunate.

So homeward bound we were, and we couldn’t be happier.  I was on a strict regiment of having 2 baths a day, and to feed my son on demand, which I would do anyway.  The thought of using formula never crossed my mind.  I thought things were going quite delightful actually, until that night.  The sun went down and the evening reared its ugly head.  Cade turned into a nightmare, and in turn, so did his mama.  I must say, thank goodness for the best father ever, because he really was our rock at this time.  I’m sure there were times where he wondered who he should comfort first, though obviously that answer is pretty clear-cut.  Cade screamed.  All.  Bloody.  Night.  Despite constantly nursing him.  Despite endless cuddles and swaddling.  We swaddled him with an additional blanket.  It was shortly after that that he stopped crying and slept.  That was around 7am.  And I must say, we were pretty proud of ourselves.  Oh, so THAT was it. He was just cold, well DUH!

But it wasn’t just temperature regulation that was the issue, oh no, because he lost his mind the next night too.  And I felt oh so bad for this poor little boy.  What an entrance to this thing called life.  He screamed.  He screamed some more.  He cried.  He yelled.  He wailed.  I cried.  Kyle rocked and swaddled and patted and rocked and cuddled.  I think it was about 8am that Cade finally crashed for a couple hours.  Kyle and I were absolutely zonked.  I knew in my heart that something wasn’t right, and Cade looked a little on the yellow jaundicey side of things, and so I called the Healthy & Home nurses and demanded that they come for a home visit that day.

It pains me so hard, it breaks me into pieces, and it hurts my heart to think what COULD have happened if the nurses didn’t come that day, if something wouldn’t have told Kyle and I that we NEEDED to seek out support immediately.  I was starving my boy and I didn’t even know it.  Except, I did.  I knew something was wrong, and it was only after 2 nights of solid screaming did I wonder if perhaps he wasn’t getting enough to eat?

I was in tears on the phone with the nurse.  They sensed my urgency and they came over within an hour and a half.  They weighed my poor, sad, hungry little boy, and he had lost a pound of his body weight, which totalled 13 % which is a major red flag.  He hadn’t pooped in a couple days, and I really don’t remember his wet diaper count, but it wasn’t good.  I know that some major lactivists might say I was booby trapped after I say this next point – and maybe I was and maybe I wasn’t – what I DO know is my boy HAD to eat and he was a completely different baby after we fed him formula.  The nurses with Healthy & Home are lactation consultants as well, and Cindy, oh dear Cindy, was a kind, compassionate soul.  She understood my deep desire, my need, to breastfeed my son, and she understood my need to nurture him, with love and with nutrition, and she understood that he HAD TO EAT.  This was not an option, and I was not producing enough for my poor, sweet boy.  When we came to this conclusion, I was heartbroken.  I burst into tears, I had a million questions, and Cindy was amazing.  I swear, I should’ve sent her flowers.  I don’t know if it’s because she was the first nurse we encountered after going home or what, but she is the only LC’s name that I remember, and there were I think 5 different LC’s that visited us at home within a few days, to check on Cade’s bili levels and to provide breastfeeding support.  (Actually, this is an aside, but I think I am going to contact Cindy and let her know how much I appreciated her. )

Cindy basically demanded that we had to get some calories into this boy asap.  She asked if we had some on hand, and sure enough, WE DID (go on lactivists, attack me for not tossing out the free formula samples).  I saved everything we got in the mail, why?  I don’t know.  I remember thinking when I got the formula samples “oh, well, I’ll never need these, in the closet they go.”  I showed her the only bottle we had on hand (also a free sample), and she encouraged us to try the Supplemental Nursing System if we wanted to continue breastfeeding as well as getting formulas into our boy at the same time.  I remember the method seeming petty and confusing, and WORK.  But we agreed to try it out, and she showed Kyle and I how to team up and make it work.  It was complicating and stressful and just thinking about it gives me a lump in my throat.  Basically, we would fill a syringe with formula, attach a tiny sterile tube to the syringe, and then place the tube alongside my nipple as Cade latched on.  We were still trying to perfect the latch, so adding an extra step in caused much grief, but we did it.  For nearly 4 weeks, every feed, we would use this tiny little tube and place it as Cade latched, so that he would still nurse and hopefully stimulate my breasts to provide milk and increase my supply, but that he would still get substantial calories as well.  I remember feeling increasing anxiety as it came time for Kyle to go back to work, because how the hell was I supposed to do this on my own?  It took my tears, many tries, until we figured out a system that (sort of) worked.  When the tears got to be too much, I would just use my finger and feed the tube along my finger to feed Cade, after breastfeeding him.  I was scared of the bottle and we avoided it for as long as I could stand to.

After going in to the Breastfeeding clinic to meet with an LC there, Cade’s suck was evaluated and determined to be great.  The LC checked out his slight tongue tie, and also determined it to be very slight.  Our doctor has said the same.  This is still something to this day I wonder about.  Everyone has said it would not affect breastfeeding because it’s so slight and far back, but I am skeptical, if only because I am searching desperately for answers.  At one point when we met with the LC, I was breastfeeding Cade, and the LC was doing hardcore breast compressions to attempt to get the milk flowing.  And it still didn’t flow.  It just would NOT flow, stubborn supply.  The plan was to rent an electric hospital grade pump and attempt to pump after every feed for approximately 10 minutes per side (or all at once if using a double pump).  Needless to say, this was exhausting, but we did it.  The pump became my worst enemy.  I felt overwhelmed and intimidated by the pump.  We were not friends and I don’t believe this helped to increase my milk supply either.  I began to despise the pump, everything about it.  I hated washing out the pump parts a million times a day, I hated sitting there with the flanges on my breasts, making the “werr, werrrrrr” noise with every suction.  I hated anxiously watching the bottles that would catch the pumped milk, waiting to see a bottle at least half full.  I hated seeing next to no milk come out of my pumped breasts, my breasts that were so desperate to be full.  I’m sure one day I will regret it, but I wanted to experience hard, aching, full of milk boobies.  I felt envy and jealousy when my friends would have to slip in a breast pad because they were leaking.  I wanted to leak.  Shit, let me leak all over my shirt, let’s soak it up.  It never happened.

I attempted to take Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle, two supposed galactagogues, but the only thing they did was give my body a sweet and spicy odour.  I took these in combination with Domperidone, a prescribed medication used to treat stomach issues with the sometimes fortunate side effect of inducing lactation.  Again, I’m not sure it did much, though I did take it for about 6 months.  After 4 weeks of feeling in my heart that I tried everything I could to increase my supply, but to see really no improvements, I retired the SNS and revamped our routine to 1) Breastfeed Cade for as long as he would latch and suckle 2) Give him a bottle with formula to top him off.  This worked and I felt like a huge amount of pressure was eased off of me.  The SNS created stress and I began to cry at almost every feed.  Was it worth it?  Was Cade benefiting from a depressed and completely worn-down mother?  Eventually, I returned the pump.  I held onto it for a very long time, because I couldn’t bring myself to take it back for fear that it was signalling I had given up.  I hadn’t used it in days, and it was sitting there, taking up space, it was almost daunting in a way.  I returned it, and I felt a twinge of sadness, until I realized why I was returning it.

It took me a long time to realize what our feeding routine was doing to my son, and to myself.   I was completely worn out, I was stressed, and I was depressed.  I had begun to question if I really did everything I could, surely I missed something, right?  But when I realized that I did everything I could, and when I realized that it was worth it for our feeding routine to change, was when I felt a complete let-go of the stress that had been bogging me down.  I felt this within myself, and I noticed a change in my son at feeding.  He took to the bottle like a champ, and he took to the breast like a champ.  There were no issues with him going from breast to bottle and back.  Was it so important to me to not use a bottle because it might mean failure, even when it might have meant not so pleasant things for my son?  He truly thrived when I was happy, and I didn’t realize that in the moment until we had decided to change our routine, for everyone’s sake, but mostly Cade’s and my own.   Cade needed me, he needed his mother, to be happy, and to be content, and to feel GOOD about the time spent feeding him.  I was not feeling good about this, and what was this doing to him?  Did I want to transfer so much negative energy to a sweet little baby?  Of course I didn’t, so why I was doing that for so long, I don’t know.   I have determination and I have perseverance, and because I knew in my heart that that was one of the best things I could do for my son, was breastfeed him.

This was what factored into my decision to keep at it for so long.  I understand that everyone has a choice to make, and that choice is truly their own.  I respect each woman’s choice, and I do believe that decisions are made for a reason, based on past experiences, life issues, and the like.  The choice that I made, that we made, as a family, was for me to continue to breastfeed Cade for as long as we could sustain it.  Even if it was a teaspoon of milk he was getting from me.  Even if it was a drop.  We had become pros at breastfeeding, and it was part of our routine, so we kept on keeping on.  Gradually, he started to get more formula and less breastmilk, though there were times where he would breastfeed and did not want to take a bottle after that.  Those times?  I felt happy.  I felt good.  I felt like that was a huge success for us, and it was sort of a gift, a karmic gift, after the breastfeeding struggles we had endured.

We kept on with this routine until Cade was about 8 months old.  Eventually, it had turned to where he would only breastfeed in the morning when he first woke up, before having a bottle, or in the middle of the night when he would wake up to eat, while waiting for the bottle to warm up.  He got to an age where he got so distracted, and nursing was not on the top of his priority list, and so we went with it, and we excelled at that for awhile too.  Around 8 months old, he lost his interest in nursing, and it sort of happened gradually, which I am thankful for.  I remember thinking that I had to prepare myself for the end of this rocky journey that we had had, but because it just dwindled off, I am just now mourning the conclusion of it, pouring it all out there.
Truthfully?  I feel okay with how things went.  I had to come to terms with it, and I still have many what if’s that cross my mind, sometimes on a daily basis, but not as much anymore.  Do I wish that things would have went differently?  I do.  But I have learned so much based how things did go, and they went according to the agenda in which they needed to go.  Not only have I learned an insane amount about breastfeeding, pregnancy, birthing, and how the birthing process can affect breastfeeding, I have learned even more about my son and myself.  My son is patient and determined.  He possesses these traits like no other, and while some might argue that I can’t determine that since he’s so young, I CAN and I know that he will fight for what he wants, and if he wants it, he will get it.  I feel like at such a young age, only 8 months, he already knows exactly what he wants and how to go for it.  When my son is old enough to understand, I want to talk to him about our journey, and I want to thank him for being patient with me as I learned, and for helping me to learn.  He taught me the gift of patience and perseverance.  He taught me to believe in myself, and to be strong when times were tough.  And really, by simply being born, he has encouraged me to conquer my fears, to take on anything.

Still to this day, I don’t know why we were not able to exclusively breastfeed.  I don’t want to say that we weren’t successful at breastfeeding, because the way success is measured can be so trivial.  We were successful in ways that we had to be.  Was it the tongue tie?  Is it because I was induced and my body just wasn’t ready?  Was it the epidural and intense infusion of IV fluids?  Did the pitocin have something to do with it?  Should we have done skin-to-skin sooner and commenced the breastfeeding journey right then and there?  Do I have insufficient glandular tissue, a physiological condition that can prevent a sufficient supply of milk?  There were times where I wanted to be more successful, and around 6 months old I seriously considered attempting the process of ‘relactating’, but aptly decided that I would be doing more damage than good by taking on that.  That’s just a whole other ball game.

Just like any other mama who breastfed once but is no longer, I miss the feeling of my beautiful little angel’s tiny hands on my chest, resting on my breast, as he nursed and looked at me, or nursed and got so comfy he dozed off.  I miss being skin-to-skin and having his warm and so very soft tummy pressing against my own.  I miss his little “hmm” noises he would make when he was latched on.  I miss the feeling of nutritionally nurturing him, knowing I am providing him with the antibodies that he needs and his body desires.

I had many moments where I felt extreme amounts of guilt.  I didn’t want to feed him in public, because pulling out that bottle meant that I had failed breastfeeding, and so obviously I had failed as a mother, right?  WRONG.  I learned that breastfeeding did not equal perfection, nor did it equal motherhood.  Was it a huge component of motherhood?  Yes it was, but it was not the be all and it was not the end all.  In the end, I was doing for my son what I needed to do for him.  We learned along the way.  I’m hoping with future babies (probably only just 1 ;) that breastfeeding will work out, and that I will be able to use the tools that Cade taught me, in order to be “successful.”  But that’s for another time, and for now, this is where we’re at.

But most importantly, I am proud of where we were and where we have come.  I feel blessed that we were given an obstacle, a hurdle, and we flew right over it, with a little bit of turbulence along the way.  I know that my experiences might seem trivial compared to other’s, but the fact is, this is our story, and it does matter.  Our story might help others, but most of all, it has helped us.  It will make us better people, more empathetic, stronger individuals.  I feel like I have a surge of compassion that has been injected in me because of it.  I feel better able to understand other’s experiences with breastfeeding.  I never realized the emotional intensity of a breastfeeding journey and all that goes along with it.  I now do, and I think that that is beautiful and such an important part of the life that I want to lead.   My boy is thriving and I am happy and as healthy as I’ve ever been.  We work as a team, and this was only the very start of it.  We are in for a very wonderful, a very fulfilling, and a very triumphant ride.

July 25, 2011 at 11:31 pm 26 comments

C25K: Week 3 Day 1

Wow, just wow.  If you would have said “Yeah, you can run for 3 minutes straight” once again I would have laughed SO hard in your face.  But turns out, it is possible.  Dreadful at times, excruciating, and hard, but possible and doable, as I proved to myself today.  Two times, in fact, coupled with two 90 second runs as well.  (90 second run, 90 second walk, 3 minute run, 3 minute walk and then repeat the cycle again)

I guess I should clarify, when I say run, what I really mean is jog very super slowly.  I wonder to myself, I could probably walk faster than I’m jogging, so why don’t I just walk fast?  But nope, I won’t do that.  I am stubborn kinda.  If I can jog, I’m going to jog.  I am pushing myself, but not over and above my limits, and not to the point where I will be discouraged.  That’s also one of the beauties – I know my limits, I set them, and I won’t push them more than I am capable of.

So yes, it was hard.  I had to definitely tap into my brain and re-wire my thinking to more positive, encouraging thoughts, because when I started the 5 minute warm-up, and was aware that a 3 minute run was in my very near future, I was feeling disheartened.  I told myself, if I can do this, then I can run a marathon.  I re-wired that thought once again, I can do this and I will run a marathon.  Also, when I was running, and felt the excruciating pain, and my breathing was struggling, I spoke out loud to myself, I said “go go go, keep moving forward, kick some ass” (yes, I said “kick some ass” – slightly embarassed by that, but when adrenaline takes over, it takes over.)

Again, I felt the emotional surge of “holy shit, I’m doing this.”  It’s kind of a neat feeling actually.  It gives me a sense of power, a sense of fear conquering, which I love.  I think back to the day when Cade was born, and what my body was able to accomplish.  If I can do that, I can do anything.  I refuse to let fear guide me, and I refuse to let it get in my way.  I want to take it on, I want to challenge the fear that lies within me, because I can still feel it in there sometimes.  I want to get rid of it, and this is one of the first steps of doing so.  When I was pregnant, I was not fearful of my body labouring and birthing a child.  I really do believe that helped me to have the type of birthing experience I had, and I want to feel the same about jogging, and believing in my body and all that it is capable of.  Fear is a nasty and unfair emotion, but I do understand the beauty of it.  Fear allows us to overcome things, and in turn, allows us to feel good and proud of our accomplishments.  That is exactly what I am doing and I do feel like this is just the beginning.

June 20, 2011 at 11:56 am 2 comments

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