Posts tagged ‘breastfeeding’

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

Some People.

Some people enter your life and don’t leave a mark.  They pass you by in the street, they say hello to you in the supermarket.  You might look at them and wonder what their experiences have been, what their story is, what memories their body holds.  But that’s that, you pick up your items and you head out the door and continue on with your life.

Some people enter your life and they are there for a reason.  Sometimes this reason isn’t so apparent until days, weeks, months, years.  Sometimes these people enter your life to enhance it, and sometimes they do more harm than good, but there is still a reason for it.  In this case, this experience did nothing but good things for us.  This person entered our life as a cheerleader, a supporter, and an educator.  This person had a profound impact on the beginning of my son’s life, and the start of a relationship between a mother and her son.

When I blogged about my breastfeeding journey, I realized that there was one particular Lactation Consultant who stood out to me.  Out of all the LC’s that we saw during our first week or so home from the hospital, Cindy was the only name I remembered, the only face, too.  She was the first LC that came to our house, and dealt with me, the blubbering, tired, sobbing mess that I was, and Cade, my sweet little angel who was dropping pounds way too fast, and inevitably starving in the process.

She consoled us, she supported us, but mostly she was just kind.  She knew what to say, she knew how to make us feel better, if even just for the interim.  So when I wrote out that journey, it only made sense to me that I wanted to acknowledge her for all she did for us, the impact she had on us and our breastfeeding journey.  I decided that I was going to call her, and let her know personally how incredible she was and how much we appreciated her.

Yesterday afternoon, I called the Breastfeeding Centre and left a message, letting them know it wasn’t urgent, but that I just wanted to pass on a thank you to Cindy.  She called me back shortly after, and I did my spiel.  I told her all about everything we went through (after we were no longer attending the breastfeeding centre, and had just gone on with our own routine) and told her how much I appreciated her supporting us so much those first couple weeks.   She asked me several questions, encouraged me to be really proud of what we accomplished, and reinforced that our breastfeeding relationship absolutely was successful and beautiful.

It’s funny how things work out, you know.  I’ve been putting off calling her for over a week.  I wanted to be able to find the right words to say, to be able to express myself as articulately and accurately as possible.   Cindy told me that she believed we were meant to talk, and I think so too.  She said that she had been off all summer, and that yesterday was her first day back in a long while.

She told me that they are looking at hopefully incorporating a bit of an online support component to the centre/maternal health aspect, and inquired if I would be interested in passing my e-mail address along to provide support to women, if they so request.  Of course I said yes.  I strive to help other women find a place of comfort and healing in this journey.  I told her how emotionally charged it can be, breastfeeding.  She agreed – and she said it is challenging enough when things are going well.  She said that it would be great for other women to connect with real women who have experienced real things, because who wants to hear a nurse going on about breastfeeding?  I get that, but I think that ALL of our experiences, “good” and “bad” (such broad horrible terms, really) are valid, and everyone’s voice matters.  Well, mostly. :)  Cindy asked if I would be comfortable sharing my blog with her, and once again, of course I did.  I hope she’s reading this, but mostly, I hope she was able to read my breastfeeding story.  I felt so good after talking to her, and I knew it was something we had to do, another loose end to tie up, to wrap up our journey.  Cindy, if you are reading this, thank you again.  You are an incredible woman, an incredible nurse, an incredible human being, and my son, my family, and myself are so grateful for you entering our lives.

August 3, 2011 at 10:29 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

Oh Boy.

Four months ago I wrote a post called ‘Fussy Gussy Wussy Woo‘ about my boy being needy and always needing to be held.  I just went back and read the post now, and honestly?  I wish I could sit down my Self from 4 months ago and have a little chat.  A pep talk, if you will.  I know it is all about living and learning and trial and error.  Figuring things out as we go.  Being a first time parent comes with its challenges that is for certain.

In hindsight, I remember the conversations with people (often random strangers) who would ask, “Good baby?”  First of all, that’s a loaded question, and in my humble opinion, kind of a silly one.  Let’s reframe that and get down to specifics, though if you are a random stranger, not sure why you’d want to, however I get that you maybe are just making small talk and love babies.  Sort of like asking someone ‘how are you?’ as a salutation rather than a genuine concern.  So yes, instead of asking if someone has a good baby, ask if the baby is a good sleeper, or ask how the parents are getting the hang of their new role.  I remember people asking if Cade was a good baby.  The opposite of good is bad, and when people ask if a baby is good, I think what they are basically asking is, is your baby needy, does your baby cry lots, and does your baby party all night? By those definitions, no, Cade was not really a good baby.  Was he needy?   Of course he was, he was a baby, he still is a baby.  He has specific needs, and it is up to Kyle and I to meet them.  So if they’re not getting met, then yes, he is going to scream and cry until they are met.  And sometimes, even long after that, as he often did his first 3-4 months of life.

Looking back, the equation seems so simple and so easy now.  Why on earth was it so frustrating at the time, having a baby who wanted to be close to his parents all the time?  Why was this so hard to believe and understand?  Of course he wanted to be close to us.  Of course he wanted to be kept warm, safe, nurtured, cuddled.  Can you imagine, within hours, going from living in your nice cozy warm heated home, perhaps snuggling with your pet or your partner on the couch or in bed, to living on the cold street in the middle of winter, having to rummage for food, seek out some sort of warmth, all while you are feeling alone and no longer have your snugglebug so close to you?  It would be traumatizing and dreadful.  It is no wonder the 4th trimester is so brutally hard on babies and parents.  Everyone is adjusting to this new life that has suddenly grabbed the reigns and taken control.  For the wee one, that means not having immediate and consistent access to food and nourishment (yes, a breast is always close by, but not as close as being DIRECTLY connected to your food source), and not being surrounded and kept warm by a cozy aquatic bubble.

If I could go back and have that pep talk with my Self from January 2011, well, even earlier than that, I would hammer home these very critical points:

  • Your baby needs YOU and that is it.  YOU provide everything else it needs, but first and foremost, it needs you.
  • Sleep, rest, take care of yourself and don’t worry about the state of the house.  It’ll get clean.  I realize this sounds cliche and you don’t want to hear it because you have a teeny little bit of an issue around control, but just let it go.
  • Sleep and cuddle your baby.  It’s winter and winter is a great time to hibernate and rest, so do that.  Lie in bed and take a vacation, a true, restful vacation with your babe.  Set up a diaper station near your bed so in those early days, you really don’t have to get up and you can heal yourself and be healthy and happy enough to care for your child.
  • If your baby is needing to be held constantly, that’s okay.  Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about it.  Don’t google too much because there are some weirdos out there who say that you are spoiling your baby.  You’re not spoiling your baby, you are LOVING your baby and giving your son what he needs, which is YOU.
  • Do whatever you gotta do.  It’s really as simple as that.  Sometimes desperation sinks in and you do what you have to do to survive at that particular moment.  You might even do things you swore you’d never do.  THIS IS OKAY.  Do not feel guilty.
  • Your son will grow to be secure and attached because you have helped him to feel this way because you have not ignored his cries, you have not ignored his cues, and you have not ignored his needs.
  • Cannot say it enough, but the most important thing you have to do for your son is not only take care of him and meet his basic needs, but take care of yourself, take care of yourself, TAKE.CARE.OF.YOURSELF.  If you don’t, your son won’t have a healthy strong parent to take care of him.  This is not cool!
  • Reach out to people.  Tell them how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking.  If people reach out to you, ACCEPT IT.  If they want to cook for you, by all means, let them.  If they want to bring you a coffee or lunch, don’t say you’re good, you need nourishment too, and in those super early days, when your child needs nothing but to be close to his mama, it’s much easier having someone else do the cooking or at least the meal picking up and dropping off.

There’s so much more I could say, but basically, I wanted to hammer home that a baby needs love and protection, safety and nurturing, first and foremost.  Was I tired and exhausted and run down?  Yes I was.  But my son needed me, he needed us, and we gave him what he needed.  I really do believe that all the cuddles, all the lovin’, all the holding, all the carrying, and yes, the co-sleeping, helped to begin solidifying his identity and his healthy levels of attachment and security that he is starting to display.  This boy is a HAPPY, happy boy.  He barely even likes being held and cuddled now, unless he is super sleepy or super over-tired.  I never thought we would see this day, but it’s here and it’s here full-force.  My boy, who could not be put down, is itching to GO.  The only thing really holding him back is his abilities, which are very quickly developing.  And once he goes, he’s gonna be gone.

May 31, 2011 at 1:14 pm 1 comment

SNOOPY SUNDAY.

RULES:

1) Every Sunday, I will post an answer to a question from a reader.   You can ask me questions on Facebook or by commenting on my blog.  The question I choose will be random – I will put the questions in a hat and pick one out; that will be the question I answer.

2) Once I answer a question, I will visit your blog or your Facebook and ask you a question in return.  I will also link to your blog when I write the answer to the question you asked.

3) I don’t know if this is exactly a rule, but I will encourage my regular readers who have blogs to also participate on Snoopy Sundays.  Let’s make this fun, shall we.

4) Questions can be relating to anything, although try to keep it somewhat appropriate.  I cannot police how you interpret appropriate, so be nice.

Chandra was nice enough to shoot out something like 4 questions for me so I got the pick of the litter, and this time I chose: Do you think after the experiences you have had, are you more inclined to have more children or less?

Honestly, I guess I picked this one ’cause I thought it was an easy question.  Call me a copout.  I slept on a camping trailer-style table-bed last night, and my hips still get achy from giving birth, so my sleep was a little on the not so great side, forgive me please and let me just have my moment.

The short, super simple answer is, my experiences have not really changed my mind about how many children I want.  Not really.  For the first 3 months post-giving-birth, I was totally on the fence because I was down in the dumps about my experience in terms of my perineal tear and not so fun healing process, breastfeeding struggles, and the cryfests of 2011 that turned into late-night (think 4am) parties that only technically involved 1 of us as the 2 adults and 1 dog were basically were walking zombies, sleep-deprivation induced mania, if you will.   But guess what?  Things are looking up.  My hormones were all over the map and so I was upset and sad about every and anything.  I know that it’s not the worst thing that could have happened.  I know that.  I am fortunate.  Things could have been more hectic, things could always be worse.  Always.  But, it’s all relative and I must give acknowledgment to my experiences and how they have shaped us.

So with that being said, I could not believe that I would be going through that whole journey again.  Give birth again to another child?  Yeah right.  As beautiful, amazing, empowering and wonderful as it was, the after-part was the sucky part, and it scared me to think that we would trudge through those murky waters ever again.  However, look at us, we made it, and I’d say we passed with flying colours.  But then again, I’d say every parent does because parents are wonderful beings and can take on the world.  Especially some parents, whom I am so blessed to say, I know some of those people.  And they are fricken’ amazing.  They take on challenges like nobody’s business.  They possess the kind of strength those silly UFC fighters would be jealous of.   Anyway…

So yup, we made it through the 4th trimester. The 4th trimester is one thing a lot of people fail to talk about.  Seriously, I think instead of trying to fear-monger every pregnant woman with war-like stories of birth, let’s talk a little bit about the stuff people seem to ignore, like the 4th trimester, realistic breastfeeding tips, how to heal yourself physically and mentally, sex after childbirth (which may or may not happen in the 4th trimester, depends on how brave you are, really), what to do when you seriously feel like you just might lose your mind and never ever EVER find it again, and maybe a good tip for partners: how to deal with your baby when your baby is screaming at 3am and mamabear is screaming louder than the baby.  NOW we’re talkin’.

Ok, I keep getting off topic.  4th trimester…. yup, made it, and it seems after that 4th trimester, well, give or take a couple months, I found myself slowly creepily climbing back on the baby bandwagon.  Read that carefully people, BABY BANDWAGON, NOT BABY-MAKING BANDWAGON.  Instead of being all, omg, how will I go through this again, I was all, yeah.. I could totally do this again, and even, I want to do this again.  Yes, want, as in, desire.  K and I for sure want at least one more child, possibly two, and if you asked K, possibly three, though that seems a bit hectic and chaotic panic-inducing to me.  The thing is, I have one sibling, and always thought it would be cool to have one more (sorry broseph, you’re like, really cool and all, but…).  But then three siblings is an odd number, but four, while an even number, seems just WILD.  And expensive.

Another thing about my experience (and I’m merely talkin’ labour/birthing experience here) is that since I’ve given birth, I have been a crazy lady with research, reading birth stories, watching birth videos, reading birth plans.  I have already begun to create a birth scenario and birth plan for our next one.  I have visions of home births (or at least, doula-accompanied and major talked about “natural childbirth” plan with lovely doctor style hospital birth) dancing very rhythmically in my head.  But with that being said, there’s things I need to do, personally (physically, emotionally, etc) before we bring another life into this world.  There’s also this thing called time and age gap, both of which we want a decent chunk of.

Personally, I can’t imagine just having one child.  And I say that without any judgment (seriously!) on people who choose to stick with just one kiddo.  I just picture Cade and his brother(s) and/or sister(s) playing in the yard, setting up forts with miscellaneous items, and of course, with the aid of nature.  I picture them creating games and implementing their own rules, each helping the other how to figure out fairness and justice via an awesome game that they imagined and then put into action.  I picture them fighting and tattling on each other.  It makes my heart glow and beam so, so, so much.  I know we’re in for still more challenges and just ’cause we’ve made it through the 4th trimester (and well, an additional 4 months after that) it’s not that I think we are just totally good to go.  I just know that we can take on whatever challenge that this little dude is gonna present to us.  You deal with what you’re dished out, right, isn’t that how the saying goes?  Some people’s dish is piled high with medical needs, some people’s dish is piled high with super active toddlers who might as well be nicknamed Crash, and some people don’t even just get 1 dish, they get the whole friggin’ buffet.  Whatever it is, whatever it may be, we can do it, and you can too.  So with that, I say, bring on the kidlets.  But not too soon, will ya?

May 29, 2011 at 10:24 pm Leave a comment

There are some things that I want to tell you.

I always feel this looming pressure to have ‘structured’ posts, but today I am putting my foot down and going out on a whim.  There’s just things I want to talk about and granted, I could expand on some of them and make them into lengthy essay-like posts, I DON’T WANT TO.  I just want to share the wealth, the randomness, the peace of sorts.  Peace is self-defined, so don’t hate.

After witnessing the brilliance that is the gift my good friend received, a colouring book entitled “Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away With Another Spoon“, I knew that this was a purchase that had to be made for the boy.

With such gems as, “Prince Charming searched high and low for the owner of the glass slipper… to find out where to get a pair in his size” and “Enough war!  Tonight I’m going dancing!” there is no question that this was a smart purchase, one that needs no defending or justifying.  I have always been excited for the day that Cade and I can sit down and colour glorious, elaborate scenes with fancy shades of purple and green, but now I am absolutely ecstatic and have these beautiful visions of us sitting down with our art supples splayed out on the table, going over each picture in a kid-friendly sociological analysis of each page, giggling and laughing at all the haters who would think this book is garbage.  My child will be and IS educated, smart, aware, and free.  Of judgement, of respect, of life.

And sorta somewhat related but not really (because I know wearing pink doesn’t necessarily mean anything at all in terms of identity, beliefs, what have you) in the most recent cloth diaper purchase (which I can fearfully see becoming an addiction of sorts) there was a bright, hot pink diaper, that I cannot wait to adorn my boy’s bottom with.  Precious is as precious does, ain’t that right.

In an effort to replicate one of my favourite restaurant salads (Citrus Feta from Prairie Ink), we purchased all the goods on the weekend and whipped up a couple batches this week.  The verdict?  Pure delightful tasty amazement.

Last Sunday, we had a late lunch/early supper at Prairie Ink, because I was achin’ so bad for this salad, and plus, I couldn’t quite remember what was in it, and I wanted to be able to make it at home.  So naturally, we had to go there and I had to eat it.

Since I’m not the greatest recipe-sharer, here’s how you make yourself a glorious salad that will make your tastebuds dance in delight:

Ingredients

Black sliced olives

Oranges

Slivered almonds

Feta

Red onions

Grilled chicken

Fresh greens

Buttermilk ranch dressing (homemade I’m sure would be best/healthiest, but we opted for Renee’s brand)

Basically, place a sufficient amount of greens on your plate (this is a Field Greens mixture), and then top with the above.  Crumble feta over top, drizzle with the buttermilk ranch, and mix all that tasty goodness together.  Engorge in the food and then have a nap.  Easy peasy.

I’ve recently seen some ‘long-lost’ photos of minutes after Cade was born and they make me very, very happy, and yet it is hard to believe that day was 6 months ago.  The craziest, most beautiful and exciting day of my life was that long ago already.  Just blows my mind really.

It is crazy that this:

Became this:

In what feels like a matter of days.

I love looking at those pictures of when Cadester was first born.  They make me happy, and they make me emotional.  They help me to reflect on that day, the days leading up, and even the months leading up.  Looking back at them inspires me to write more in-depth about the birth experience.  I of course did a post on the birth story, but I just have so much more to say, after reflecting even more, and after reading more about birth and women as strong and in control of the birthing process right from the getgo.  I can say that I had an amazing birth experience, aside from having to be induced (which in terms of how inductions CAN go, went fairly well I think) and tearing pretty badly.  There are definitely things I would change next time around (did I just say that?) but I have no regrets about how my birth went, because it produced the most beautiful little boy ever, and it was also the birth of us becoming parents.  I am a bit of a birth/breast feeding research junkie, and I have learned so very much in the past few months about birthing, labour & delivery, breastfeeding, etc.  In some ways I feel shameful that I was not this actively seeking out informatio when I was pregnant.   Maybe not shameful, but sometimes I feel I should have done more.  But then again, I’m going to stop right there because I cannot beat myself up about it, and I cannot change the past and how things panned out, I can only change how things are from here on in.

Something that I wouldn’t say I have regrets about, but that I think about on a day to day basis (not even lying, wish I was) is breastfeeding and how my journey has been.  I realize we all have struggles in our lives, and perhaps some of you may think that I should just get over it, move on, not get so wound up in “what could have been” but the fact remains, that breastfeeding is a highly personal and emotional experience and journey.  I never fully understood that until I became a breastfeeding mama.   Lately, Cade has been on somewhat of a ‘nursing strike.’  He does not want to latch on and will get fussy if we try.  The only time he seems to want to nurse is when he gets up in the middle of the night to eat (which, for the past 2 nights, he hasn’t done, but subsequently, will then nurse when he gets up in the morning).  As of Wednesday, I have stopped taking Domperidone altogether.  I was gradually reducing the dose, but I have weighed the pros and cons of taking it versus the amount that I am actually breastfeeding, and I have just decided that the benefits of taking a prescription medication for one nursing session a day are not really there anymore.  This whole process has been emotional.  I have felt upset, sad, and highly anxious over the fact that he has basically chosen to start, what it seems like, weaning.  As I said, breastfeeding and our whole journey around it consumes my life, I think about it daily, I wonder what could’ve been, every single day.  I know this is probably not healthy, and I know I need to come to terms with it.  I think a part of it is also part of the whole mother identity as well, and coming to terms with who I am now.  However, the other day, for some (what I know now) absolutely crazy reason, I thought I would pull out our nursing aid (tube that goes into the bottle and then I place beside my nipple as he latches) and see if he would latch on and then nurse and receive the formula through the tube.  It was a gong show!  Cade would not latch, and when he did, as soon as I placed the tube in, he knew and would unlatch.  I beat myself up for it, after all, why would I subject us to that again?  It brought back not-so-fun memories of the first 4 weeks, trying and trying and trying to nurse.

The other evening, I was talking to an acquaintance, a woman with a very kind and gentle soul, (also, whom I had just learned that night was a Certified Lactation Educator) about my experiences.  She passed on some very genuine words to me, words that made me feel strong and empowered as a mother and as a female.  They resonated with me in such a way that I would like to share them here (copied and pasted, left some parts out):

That’s okay, even that one night nurse (if you want to keep doing it) packs a very high amount of fat, vitamins, minerals, and immune factors. Human milk is richest in these things between the hours of 12 AM and 7 AM, believe it or not. Also, around 6 months many babies suddenly stop needing to nurse for 20 minutes or more to get satisfaction. 6 months is a great accomplishment, even that much will have given him a great start. You should be really proud of yourself, especially as you’ve been fighting the whole way. If you decide to keep that night nursing, even if it’s a few swallows, know that you’re passing on some immunities that will help keep him healthy and shorten the duration of illnesses. Think of it as vitamins! Your body will keep producing enough milk for that night nursing as long as he keeps taking milk. If it comes to an end, don’t let yourself be buried in guilt or regret, be really proud of yourself. You’ve done amazing! really believe that if you do all you can for your child, it comes down to quality, not quantity. Even a teaspoon a day, if that’s all you can do, is enough for your little man. Besides, breastfeeding is about so much more than the milk. The milk is small compared to the benefits of just suckling. The skin-to-skin and suckling develops neural pathways in the baby’s brain, helps to shape his orthodontic palate, stimulates brain growth and left-right co-ordination, and has huge emotional benefits besides, and that’s without any milk. I always ask moms, if you could only ever feed your baby breast milk from a bottle, or formula from your breast, which would you choose? The milk, and amount of milk, is the least of breastfeeding.

May 6, 2011 at 11:09 am 2 comments

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