Posts Tagged ‘breastfeeding challenges’

Bottled Up

Friday, August 12th, 2011

Even though I had a wonderful time at BlogHer and am so glad I got to attend this year, leaving Caroline was a mistake. I shouldn’t have done it. I should have realized this wasn’t the right time to go and sold my ticket and spent the weekend hiding from Twitter, feeling sorry for myself and glaring at Caroline…but at least I would have been here for her. Every time I saw someone with a baby I was wracked with guilt and babbled endlessly about how I had a baby too but she was at home and I was pumping and I’m sure my husband had gotten her to eat by now even thought she’s never taken a bottle before but don’t think I’m a bad mom… and I secretly worried they thought exactly that.

It didn’t help that one mom said “Oh, I could NEVER leave my baby” in that tone of voice moms use when they’re judging you (even if they don’t THINK they are judging you and would deny it TO THEIR DEATH). Like the SAHM to the working mom: “Oh you are so strong! I don’t know HOW I could leave little Johnny all day!” or the cloth diaper mom to the disposable mom: “Oh I WISH I hated the environment so much that I didn’t care about filling up the landfills!” Well, maybe not that last one. But you get the idea.

One of my challenges is that I have never pumped with a purpose before. The freezer full of milk I left E with was just overflow from my early days of engorgement or Caroline sleeping a few extra hours at night. (Sidebar: I thought I had a GAZILLION GALLONS of milk in the freezer but between bottles she refused, bottles she didn’t finish, and a few bags with holes/freezer burn I came back to less than 20 oz. I was shocked.) I’ve never pumped to actually empty my boobs before, or to keep up my supply, and both proved to be a lot harder than I anticipated. While I was traveling all I had was a couple of hand pumps – my plan was to pop one on each side and get the job done faster – but doing that while standing up in an airport bathroom was impossible. And messy.

I was so sore. I couldn’t move without a constant reminder I was away from my baby and I SHOULDN’T be. My body was straight up guilt tripping me with the added benefit of physical pain to make it EXTRA GUILTY. It distracted me from focusing on the people I was there to meet and prevented me from giving everyone the hugs I was there to give.

Thank GOD the kind people from Hygeia Baby lent me a double electric EnJoye breastpump while I was at the conferenceĀ  (and that my roommate was kind enough to drag it back to the hotel for me)(and also show me how to use it because I was freakin’ TERRIFIED the first time I looked in the box). By Friday afternoon I had gotten the hang of the fancy double electric action and was a regular milk machine, filling up bag after bag to donate to a local mom. I LOVED that pump.

But Sunday screwed everything up again – I returned the fancy pump and was left with my hand pump, I was stuck in an airport, and it was almost midnight when I got home. I had only pumped three times all day and after just a few minutes of nursing Caroline I was out of milk. My once insanely-overabundant supply had dwindled and we had to use the last of the frozen stash to calm the baby down. BOOB FAIL.

I threw my diet out the window and threw a giant chocolate bar into my face and I THINK we’re almost back to normal in terms of milk production but there still seems to be a lot of screaming. I suspect a top front tooth is to blame (which was NOT such a nice surprise on my poor nipple) but I’m going to worry about my supply constantly until the screaming quiets down a little. It’s made reentry to real life post-BlogHer (what?! it’s HARD) stressful and sleepless, both of which hurt my supply even MORE and then I’m trapped in a vicious cycle and can’t get out.

Also, I don’t think E is ever going to forgive me for the screaming he put up with before Caroline caved on the bottle. (She DID eventually cave, and now sucks them down like a champ. She might actually even PREFER the bottle, but too bad so sad baby girl, it’s back to the tap for you.) I suspect there was a LOT of screaming, but he’s being vague on exactly HOW AWFUL things were. Bless him for not complaining – although it might be because he’s barely speaking to me – but it hasn’t helped me feel any better about the situation.

So, to sum up, I am a selfish bitch who is now starving her baby and her husband hates her. I’m not doing so good at this mom gig right now.

Why Buy The Cow When You Can Get The Boobs For Free

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Breastfeeding baby #2 is a piece of cake compared to the first time around. (Mmmm…cake. I would like some cake. I would like a whole cake and no I don’t want to share because I am SOOOOO HOOONGRAAAY from the nursing.) All the stuff I struggled with during Little Evan’s early days made me an expert on boobs. A Boobspert, if you will. I figured out Caroline’s latch sooner, my engorgement went away sooner, I recognized the thrush and knew how to treat it sooner, we’veĀ  introduced a bottle sooner, I’m building up a nice little freezer stash of pumped milk sooner. It’s been almost 2 years since I first started nursing and I have FINALLY got the hang of it.

But in the process, I have confused the hell out of my toddler.

Hello, I'd like some more milk please.

Little Evan was exclusively breastfed until he was almost 13 months – and when I say “exclusively” I don’t mean that’s when we switched to milk, I mean that’s when he started eating ANY solids. The first time I ever saw him eat enough food to be considered a meal was his birthday cake. The child hated baby food, threw up Cheerios, screamed at sippy cups and lived entirely on boob power for more than a year.

I don't see what the problem here is, I know you've got milk in there. Do I need to say PLEEEEEEESE?

When I got pregnant the second time, my supply dropped dramatically and he weaned in a matter of weeks, just after he turned 15 months. We started with rice milk and eventually made the switch to organic whole milk. He LOVES his (fancy, expensive) milk and drinks it like it’s going out of style.

Fine, if you're going to be that way I'll just do it MYSELF

Now that he sees Caroline nursing all the time, he’s started to wonder why his milk comes from a cup instead of straight from me. I haven’t had to flat out refuse him yet, but he keeps patting my chest and saying “mama milk”.

Yes yes, put the milk in my belly! Wait, I don't think this is working.

I’m pretty sure he’s going to be OK in the long run, no permanent damage from his cold, withholding mother who won’t nurse him any more. Actually, one day he’s probably going to DIE OF SHAME that I talked about breastfeeding on the internet at all.


Sorry baby. Send me the therapy bill.

The end of a topless era

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

I think Baby Evan reads my blog, because some time between when I wrote this post and yesterday he totally weaned himself. I am thrilled and horrified and brokenhearted and nervous and happy and relieved and so, so confused. Technically he’s not TOTALLY weaned – he still wants to nurse first thing in the morning and occasionally asks during the day – but if I want to I could get him to drop those feedings without a single tear.

I just don’t want to. Not yet. As much as I would love a break before the new baby comes, I can’t even remember what life is like as a non-breastfeeding mother. I don’t remember how to wear clothes that don’t offer easy access to my chestal area. I’m not sure I can make it through a whole day without flashing some unsuspecting mall shoppers. I have very few “oh no the baby is upset” coping skills besides boob. I’m afraid I’ll start offering to nurse anything that cries, including stray cats and random strangers. I think that’s the sort of thing that gets you banned from Stop & Shop. I know I’ve only been breastfeeding for 1/27th of my life but it’s been such a huge part of every single minute of the last 14 months it feels like much much longer.

I’m really not even sure how this happened. One day he screamed if you so much as showed him a sippy and the next he signs “milk milk milk milk” but points to the cup on the counter like I’m a crazy person if I unhook my bra. If you’re looking for advice on how exactly to go about weaning your child, here’s everything I got:
Step 1: Get pregnant with baby #2.
Step 2: Give baby #1 sippy cup of rice milk.
Step 3: There are no more steps.

Really, I can’t take credit for this at all. I did nothing besides stop making gallons of milk that let down strongly enough to squirt across a room. I didn’t stop offering, I didn’t try to distract him, I didn’t give him a lot more solids than I was previously. Which makes me feel a lot better about the whole thing, since I was very close to forcing him to wean whether he was ready or not. Now I spend a great deal of time asking “Do you want milk? Mama milk? Please come here and try some nursies! Baby Evan, stop running away from meeeeeee!!”

As conflicted as I am about not making it to the two year mark, I think I’m happy where we are now and won’t do anything to intentionally alter our nursing relationship for the next few months. I’m going to be away from him for at least 12 hours in August and probably even longer in September (for a friend’s bridal shower/bachelorette party and wedding, respectively) and I feel like those will probably be the stepping stones to total weaning. And then I can be a non-nursing mother for at least a few weeks before everything starts all over again.

OMG I’m going to have to start ALL OVER AGAIN.

Maybe I Should Send Him To Milkaholics Annonymous

Monday, May 24th, 2010

I feel like I need to start with a disclaimer: This post is not part of the breastfeeding/formula debate. My choice on that matter was made a long time ago and I fell firmly on the breast side of the fence. I struggled, I cried, I fought and after almost FOUR MONTHS of problems, with a very supportive LC and a lot of luck I made breastfeeding work for us. I now attend a weekly breastfeeding support group, at which I am one of the “veteran” mothers who give advice to those just starting out. I have nursed Baby Evan successfully and exclusively for his entire life. I would even go so far as to say I am a lactivist, especially when I compare my opinions to many of the posts and articles I see online. My original goal of nursing for 1 year was extended to 2 years a long time ago.

All that being said, I NEED MY BOOBS BACK.

Did you know that when you’re pregnant, the volume of blood in your body doubles? All that extra blood flow can lead to a lot of changes – both good and bad. You can use you imagination on the good stuff. (If you need any more details shoot me an email, I’d be happy to explain.) But thanks to increased sensitivity my nipples now feel like they’re being pierced with dull yet burning hot needles by someone who sucks at piercing things every time Baby Evan nurses. Let me tell you, it’s not very fun. I’d rate it somewhere between root canal with no Novocaine and having a toenail ripped out with pliers.

As far as I know, there really isn’t any way to alter this pain level, unless I were to rely on heavy narcotics. Which I don’t think is a real option. It’s not a matter of a better latch or a new way to hold him or teaching him not to bite. We’ve got all that down. The only way to stop it from hurting would be to stop nursing.

And there’s my problem. Baby Evan still nurses like an infant – every 3 or 4 hours with a couple of 6 hour stretches a night. I don’t mind morning, bedtime or even naptime nursing – there are enough hours between those that my nipples get a chance to recover. But I both CAN’T and DON’T WANT to stop nursing Baby Evan completely. I CAN’T because despite his ever increasing acceptance of solid food, Baby Evan still doesn’t eat nearly enough to count as a meal – especially not a well balanced one. French fries, animal crackers and an occasional bean or bite of apple is not lunch. At least as long as he’s nursing I know he’s not going become malnourished or obese. He still wants his milk when he’s hungry and offering other options just gets food thrown in my face and an earful of angry screaming. He never got the hang of a bottle – he’s too old for one now – and cups are usually played with and then thrown on the floor. He also doesn’t get any other liquids (although we did convince him to drink half a sippy cup of juice* this weekend) so I’d be worried about dehydration if I suddenly stopped nursing. I don’t WANT to stop because I set a goal of at least 2 years per kid. I don’t want to end my nursing relationship with Baby Evan just because of this pregnancy. I don’t think that’s a good way to introduce a new sibling to our family – “Say hi to Baby Sandy! No more milk for you! Now don’t go resenting anybody!”

Clearly, weaning him entirely isn’t in our immediate future**, but what I need is advice on how to gently lead a baby towards solids and away from the boob. We’ve past the point where I would need to use formula – my doctor OK’d starting him on whole (preferably organic) milk – but is there an easier transition? Maybe soy milk? It’s closer in consistency and flavor to breastmilk. Do I try to shorten our nursing sessions? Do I force solids on him despite the screaming and throwing? Please help a mama out.

*OK, so it wasn’t juice. It was Crystal Light. But it was orange flavored and I did water it down quite a bit some. Go ahead and judge, things are pretty desperate around here.

**I am clinging to the stories I’ve heard of toddlers who suddenly lost interest in nursing around the 5 month mark of pregnancy due to a change in milk flavor. If I KNEW the end(ish) was within sight I think I grit my teeth through the next 3 months.

Knocked Up

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Today you get the long version.

E and I have always planned on more than one kid, although we’ve never actually decided how many. I’m one of three, so I think three sounds good. He’s one of four, and insists middle children always turn out weird so we have to have an even number. My original “plan” to “plan” on kids 15 or 16 months apart flew right out of my crazy-ass brain the second I went into labor with Baby Evan but the further I got from the actual birthing event the sooner I thought maybe I’d like to do it again. So when I couldn’t remember to take my mini-pill I didn’t sweat it. Besides, I’ve only had one period and one almost-period since June 2008 thanks to breastfeeding full time – nature’s child spacing, if you want to be a hippie about it. But just like EVERYONE TOLD ME, nursing is not a foolproof method of preventing pregnancy and so here I am. Although if I’m being totally honest, I would say we were trying to get pregnant harder than we were trying not to. Believe it or not, nosey cow at the blood-draw lab, I DO know where babies come from and how to keep it from happening. And this one happened on purpose.

I decided I was pregnant about two weeks ago, right around my own birthday. I didn’t base my suspicions on any medical facts or actual symptoms – just my own intuition. I mean, I don’t want to sound like a crazy person, but I could just sense that I wasn’t alone in my body anymore. Although when I say it like that it sounds INCREDIBLY CREEPY. I had a few moments of heartburn, a little light headedness and a tiny bit of nausea but not any more than I’ve had every other time I’ve imagined I was pregnant. I suppose my biggest clue was my milk supply seems to have decreased a little – not enough to starve my child to death but I’m definitely not going to be wet nursing any stray babies people leave on my doorstep. I think right now my biggest fear is that this pregnancy is going to ruin my nursing relationship with Baby Evan – either because my milk dries up or because I can’t handle sharing my body with TWO babies – and that makes me want to cry. We worked so hard to make nursing work, it’s not fair to take away his favorite thing in the world. At least I still have some time to figure all that out.

Since I don’t know when I was ovulating, I really don’t know how far along I am. My best guess is I conceived at the end of March, although it could be as early as February. I had the same problems getting a test to register my knocked-upped-ness as I did when I was first pregnant with Baby Evan, so I think convincing myself I’m probably already 5 or 6 weeks along is just going to end up being disappointing when I go in for my 10 week ultrasound and I’m only at 5 weeks. Unfortunately, instead of wanting to see me SOONER to determine my stage of pregnancy my OB scheduled my first visit for JUNE 2ND. JUUUUUUNE SEEEEECOOOOOND. That’s a ridiculous amount of time to wait to find out a due date. How am I supposed to start counting down the seconds if I have no idea how many seconds to count?

So there you go. Bebehblog is now going to be Bebehsblog (not technically, don’t change you bookmarks or anything drastic) and I’m going to be a mother of 2. Oh crap.

p.s. Any suggestions for what to call Baby #2 while we wait to find out what he/she is? I never managed to come up with something cute for Baby Evan,