My personal journey with breastfeeding…so far

Oh, breastfeeding. People talk about how amazing and easy (compared to making bottles) this incredibly natural act is. I must say, though, it truly is incredibly difficult those first few weeks, way beyond the difficulty of childbirth. Breastfeeding has taught me what it really means to sacrifice myself for the sake of my child. I wanted to give up every single day. I would watch the clock nervously, knowing that the next feeding was just a few short hours away. I began to resent my daughter’s cry of hunger..really. It was that bad. I hated breastfeeding. I am pretty sure that the only thing that kept me going was my own stubbornness.  I wanted to prove to myself that I could nourish my baby all on my own, like it was supposed to be done. So I kept going. Let’s start at the beginning:

Week 1

The first week really was amazing. As you might have read HERE, I had the perfect birth experience and went home the very next day to a house full of people I love making me food and keeping me company. I was sore, but I accepted that as part of the breastfeeding experience and went along happily.  At Charlie’s 1 week appointment, she had gained 4 oz. YES! I was doing it right! I was thrilled and encouraged to keep going. So I did.

Week 2

The second week was a little rougher. Instead of just being sore, I found out that Charlie had a really shallow latch and she was actually hurting me. I watched countless videos and read many, many articles to learn how to correct it, but it just seem to get worse.  I figured she was just little and awkward and she just needed some time to grow a bit, so I kept going.

Week 3

Weeks 3 and 4 were the bottom of the pit for me. On Sunday I decided I was feeling good enough to deep clean my house and rearrange my living room (I was only 16 days postpartum).  I also cooked a wonderful dinner for our friends, the Witte’s.  The next day I woke up with angry red lines running down my left breast, an achy body, and chills.

Mastitis.

Sam was set to leave for a night the next day, so I prayed with all my might that this infection would leave my body in time. I swallowed 3 or 4 raw garlic cloves and took the hottest shower I could stand while giving myself the most painful deep tissue breast massage that I could manage. As bad as it hurt, I made Charlie nurse the left breast as often as possible. I guess God really supported my decision to breastfeed because he honored my request and the next day I woke up feeling brand new! Sam’s first night away was hard though. It was hard managing my two year old and taking care of the baby too. He was coming home the next day, but I was still stressed to the max. Well guess what else causes mastitis…stress. So Wednesday morning begins with more aches and pains and more angry red marks. I was ready this time. I took a few mega-doses of vitamin C, swallowed a few raw garlic cloves and a tablespoon of raw, local honey, took more hot showers with more painful deep-tissue massages, nursed the heck out of the infected side, and rested. I managed to kick it again. But then I started to ask myself why I was subjecting myself to this torture.  I mean, Milo had been formula-fed and he turned out great! I kept my thoughts to myself though, because Sam was beginning to see my frustration with breastfeeding and if he even so much as hinted towards me giving her formula I was going to light him on fire.

Week 4

The mastitis was gone, but Charlie’s latch was really starting to injure me. It hurt so bad that I thought I had thrush. Every time she would suck, it would feel like she was sucking fire and broken glass out of my nipple. Every muscle in my body was tense during feedings. I was like a dead person after rigor mortis has set in. My husband was really starting to get concerned and one day decided to make that “off-limits” suggestion. I ripped into him like a momma bear ripping into a curious camper who got too close to her cub. It was so bad that I don’t even remember what I said. I decided it was time to see a lactation consultant.

The first thing the LC wanted to do was weigh her. So, I stripped her down and placed her on the scale and watched the numbers nervously. Eight pounds, 10 ounces. WHAT?? This girl was, by no means, lacking food. As bad as it hurt, and as shallow as her latch was, she was getting all the food she needed. The LC was floored at her weight gain (she was 6 pounds, 5 ounces at birth and this was just a few short weeks later).  So she wanted to watch me nurse. Of course, Charlie actually latched perfectly in the presence of the LC (something she had only managed to do once before), making me look like a big, dumb idiot for coming in at all.  She gave me a few helpful tips (best one – do not hesitate to get her to the boob when she opens wide!) and sent me on my way.

Week 5

Five weeks into this and it still felt like I was nursing a barracuda.  I reached a breaking point in the middle of week five. After what felt like an assault on my chest, my sweet baby laid across my tummy, sleeping soundly with milk, the evidence of the assault, dripping from her mouth, like a vampire who had just had a delicious meal.  I took my computer out and searched the words I’d been trying to avoid this whole time: best organic formulas.  In my mind, I was failing.  **Note – there is nothing wrong with formula. It was just a personal goal for me to nourish my baby by breastfeeding** I spent about an hour researching formulas and finally decided on one that I thought was best.  I was too tired to go get my wallet to place the order so I resolved to do it in the morning and tried to get some sleep.  This was also the week that the disgusting and incredibly ridiculous article about breastfeeding not being all that better than formula came out.  So, I felt a little more justified, even though I knew deep down that it was a load of horse crap.

What happened over that night, I cannot explain.  When I woke up the next day, Charlie was nursing perfectly. It was comfortable, she was happy, I was, for the first time, happy to feed her. It was amazing, and kind of scary. I kept waiting for the pain to come, but it never did. And it has been great ever since then.

They say it normally goes like that. If you just stick to it those first few weeks, drag yourself to hell and back, then it will just get better one day. And that is what happened for me! It just got better, and now I love it. I love nursing her. I look forward to when she wants to eat and sometimes even offer her the breast before it’s “time”.  The best part of this whole thing is that I have not had to give her one drop of formula. She has been completely nourished by me and me alone! I accomplished what I wanted to for her and for me.

I’m writing this to keep a record for myself, but also to encourage any momma out there who is struggling through those first few weeks.  Don’t give up. If you can, avoid giving your baby formula (it’s not a sin, and it won’t kill the baby, but it will probably hinder your breastfeeding relationship). Keep going!! It does get better. I hated hearing that. Everyone kept saying it and I was in so much pain that I just wanted to slap the caring expression right off of their face.  But it’s true. I hated breastfeeding. I would say that out loud every time I was doing it. I kept thinking how easy it was to feed Milo…put the weird powdery stuff in the bottle, add filtered water, shake, stick bottle in mouth, done.  But now that we are over that terrible hump, breastfeeding is much easier than formula feeding ever was. When she wakes up in the middle of the night, I simply turn over and nurse her, both of us laying down and still asleep. That’s productive multitasking right there..sleeping and feeding baby at the same time.

If I can do it with my terrible attitude and tendency to never follow through, anyone can do it.  And it’s so worth it.

** another note – we all do what works for our families. This post was not meant to offend anyone who did not succeed or who decided to formula-feed.  It’s just my personal experience that I wanted to share to encourage any mother who finds herself on the brink of giving up. **

Happy New Year 2014!

Hello!! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday break. We spent our time with close family at home, which is the best way to spend the holidays, in my opinion! Milo was really able to enjoy Christmas this year, since he wasn’t just a little fat-ball baby anymore.  He loved opening presents and spending time with his Grandma, who he has lovingly named “Michael”.  We are a little lost on that one, but whatever floats his boat.

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I’m working on many new things for Me + Three.  Since we will be welcoming our second child sometime in the next three weeks, I have decided to cut down from 5 postings a week to 2-3.  I still want to focus on real food recipes and crocheting/sewing, but I also want to talk more about gardening and my kids since those things are a pretty big part of my life.

Speaking of my children, I recently became an Ambassador for the independent children’s publishing company, Barefoot Books.  If you’ve never heard of them, please, please check out their website! Their children’s books go above and beyond the norm with always-gorgeous artwork and incredibly rich content.  Most of the stories are fiction, however, at the end of most of the books (aside from the board books) there is an educational section with factual information having to do with the story.  For instance, in our favorite book, I Took the Moon for a Walk, the extras in the back talk about the different stages of the moon and creatures of the night.  They have a beautiful World Atlas that I couldn’t help getting for Milo, and surprise! There was a gigantic world map in the back that I am going to frame and hang on his wall!

World Atlas Barefoot Books       Anyway, being an Ambassador is a great way for me to stock my kid’s library and get involved with the community (um, and make a little bit of money).  You choose how to run your own business, so there is no monthly quota, or whatever, to meet.  I am choosing to participate in book fairs at local schools, daycares, and preschools and the local Farmer’s Markets, as well as fundraising opportunities for local organizations.  Many Ambassadors also do in-home parties and birthday parties, and I’ve also heard some do story time at the local libraries.  So it’s a great way to get involved with your community! If you’re interested in becoming an Ambassador, January is a great time since the starter kit is $40 off! I got mine a few weeks ago and decided that even if I didn’t do one thing with my Barefoot Books business, well, I just got $300 worth of goodies for $100! But, of course, I am totally going to do something with my business..haha. Anyway, click on the photo below to find out more about joining my team and what Barefoot Books is all about!

Barefoot Books Ambassador

Alright guys! I’m excited about the new year and everything that is in store for Me + Three! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Weekly Dinner Menu {10/21 – 10/26}

Weekly Dinner Menu

It’s Monday and I am back in action! I took a small vacation, which I’ll talk about after the menu. First, let’s talk food! I like to make a weekly dinner menu for myself so I know what I’m getting at the grocery store, and also because I have a lot of people ask me for healthy meal ideas for their weekly menus. You should know that my definition of healthy is simply eating real foods (including butter). I’m not about excluding one certain type of food or food group (except processed foods).  I may include one processed ingredient like pasta, but it’s going to be the healthiest, least-processed pasta I can find! So the following recipes are from-scratch recipes. Get back in your kitchen and be in charge of what goes into your kiddo’s bodies!

Monday – Butternut squash & Chicken pan-roast

Tuesday – Beef Goulash Soup

Wednesday – Leftovers from Tuesday night

Thursday – Simple & Sweet Stir Fry

Friday – Pineapple, Gorgonzola, & Sausage Pizza with this Light & Fluffy Crust

Saturday – Grilled Salmon with Asparagus & Roasted Red Potatoes

I’m not including Sunday on purpose. Our in-laws may be in for the weekend, so it might be an out-to-eat night. We’ll see!

About this vacation…I didn’t mention it here for home-safety reasons, but my little family and I took a trip over to England to visit my sister, brother-in-law, and my niece, Annabelle.  We had loads of fun and saw all the cool sights around London and took a day trip to Bath. I won’t bore you with photos of castles you have already seen in pictures, but I will bore you with a few family photos.

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

A fun telephone booth in Windsor.

A fun telephone booth in Windsor.

Windsor Castle (Milo is on my back)

Windsor Castle (Milo is on my back)

My sister and her husband, and Annabelle.

My sister and her husband, and Annabelle.

Milo and me at the Roman Baths.

Milo and me at the Roman Baths.

Have a fun Monday!

A Nursery for Charlie Fay

I mentioned a few posts ago that I will be converting my guest bedroom/office/sewing room into a nursery for my baby girl, who is expected to arrive in January.  I’ve been gathering ideas for her room and have pretty much decided that grey and white are going to be the main colors, with pops of bright, girly colors all over the room. Here are a few things I’ve been eyeing:

PicMonkey Collage

1. Big Band Rug – Land of Nod

2. Honeycomb Wall Shelf – Land of Nod

3. Azure Bamboo Changing Pad Cover – Aden + Anais

4. Grey Organic Crib Sheet – Giggle

5. Landscape Floor Bins – Land of Nod

Of course, I have tons of DIY’s in mind such as a cloth triangle banner for the back wall, some ledge shelving, and a few colorful canvas paintings.  I’m so excited to be having a little girl! Having a boy is super fun and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in this world, and now I get the amazing privilege of raising a daughter.  I’m a lucky girl.

Weekly Dinner Menu {9/30 – 10/4}

Weekly Dinner Menu

Who wants in on the W family dinner menu for this week? I decided to do a weekly menu since I hear the question “what do you make your family for dinner?” a lot.  If you’re having a hard time coming up with a weekly menu, then here are a few ideas!

Dinner Menu 9/30 – 10/4

Monday – Easy Minestrone Soup with homemade cornbread. 

Tuesday –  Curried Coconut Chicken

Wednesday – Oven Baked Pot Roast with Potatoes & Carrots with homemade cornbread

Thursday – These enchiladas but made with the leftover shredded beef from Wednesday’s pot roast.

Friday – Out to eat!

Wow, definitely a lot of beef happening this week. Sam will be a happy boy, that’s for sure. I might have a heart attack, who knows. Anyway, have a great Monday!!

Mondays…

I am pretty sure my son is suffering from seasonal allergies. So sad he didn’t get lucky like his momma {knock on wood}.  Everyone else in my family, and my husband, suffers from seasonal allergies, so I guess all of my children are doomed and I’m just completely weird.

Looks like we’re going on a hunt for some local honey and plenty of vitamin C fruits and veggies!

So, I’m thinking of making some changes to my blog schedule. Many of you faithful readers love it when I post food recipes and DIY projects, so I want to incorporate more of those instead of just one each a week. I’ve decided to have a dessert day in addition to my normal recipe day! Sometimes the desserts will be on the healthy side, but sometimes, like this week, the desserts will loaded with good things like sugar and fat. But they will always be made from scratch! I’d like to have another DIY day, but I think instead of another craft day, the additional DIY post will focus on homemade cleaning solutions, homemade moisturizers, and the like.

Anyway, those are some cool changes to be looking forward to, so stay tuned!

Since I just mentioned food, what’s everyone having for dinner tonight?? I’m making these delicious-looking salmon patties with broccoli and mashed sweet potatoes!  Yum.

Disconnected {Some Thoughts on Life}

I feel so detached from my life lately. I’ve gone through most of my adult life like this, forgetting to stop and soak up the moment and really realize what is going on, but since I became a mother, it has worsened. I am on auto-pilot most days, just going through the motions, never giving my undivided attention to any moment. I only realize this when my husband talks about something we did together last week or when I try to recall a memory he believes I should have involving our son. I really need to work on slowing down and being able to be in the moment and really soak it all up. I am missing out on so much. My son does new things every day and I can barely recall the details of some of the most important moments in his life to date, like when he first walked. I just can’t remember the details, only that he got up and walked! Thankfully my husband has a good memory, but I don’t want to keep living on auto-pilot.

Do you ever feel disconnected from life?

What do you do to bring yourself back?

 

5 Cloth Diapering Must-haves

Cloth diapering my son is one of my favorite decisions I have ever made. I don’t think it’s hard at all because I have been doing it for so long that I don’t remember what it was like to do disposables! I don’t mind doing laundry every day, because I would be doing it every day anyway since I don’t like for clothes to just sit around waiting to be washed. And I don’t mind getting poop on my hands every now and then because, well, I’m a mom, and that just comes with the territory. I know cloth diapering is not for everyone, and everyone who cloth diapers has a different way of doing things. I just want to share a few things that work for me, or that have made cloth diapering easier.

1. bumGenius Diaper Sprayer

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This is one of those items that you either love or hate. I happen to love it! I did just fine the first 10 months of cloth diapering without one, but then I saw this thing at a yard sale and she practically gave it to me, so I decided to give it a try and I can’t imagine not having one now. Now, you really need to be able to control your squeeze when operating this sprayer. So, normally men don’t do well with this thing. My husband tried it once and poop flew everywhere. It was pretty bad. Just remember that the first time you use one.

2. GroVia Wetbag

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We take weekend trips to Phoenix to see the in-laws and I normally either do disposables for the weekend or I do the biodegradable inserts and the gDiapers, but now that I have these wet bags I just cloth diaper the whole weekend! Seriously, not one whiff of stink escapes from the top of this thing. I am able to keep my diapers in the bag until we get home where I can toss everything in the washer! I love these bags.

3. Hemp Doublers {Inserts}

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I almost gave up on cloth diapering. Milo was about 5 months old and he was soaking his diapers every night. I was so frustrated. I tried to double up with some newborn inserts that I had, but that didn’t help, so I did some research and decided to buy 3 hemp inserts. Haven’t had a leak since! Don’t let these skinny, little inserts fool you! They can absorb a sink full of water. Well, maybe not that much, but you get the point. I just stick one of these inserts in with his regular one for his nighttime diaper and he’s good to go for the next 8 hours or so. If you’re new to cloth diapering and are having problems with leaks, get yourself some of these things!

4. Ecos Free & Clear Detergent

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Most of us cloth diapering mommas have learned the hard way that we can’t use our favorite smell-good detergent on our cloth diapers. It seems to work (somehow) for some people, but for most of us, we have had to consult this wonderful chart  that rates how safe detergents are for cloth diapers. Ecos Free & Clear just happens to be available at my local grocery for a reasonable price, so this is the one I have used for a long time. I did use Rockin’ Green, but the bags are so small and last about a month while this thing is the same price and will last me about 5 months. If you’re thinking about cloth diapering, check this chart out beforehand. CD’s do require a little extra care, which includes using the right detergent.

5. gDiapers Disposable Inserts

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I know I said I use my wetbags when I travel, and I do for short, weekend trips. For the longer trips, {like the one we are taking to England in October!!} I like to use my little gPants along with these biodegradable inserts. It’s just easier to tote around a few diaper shells than it is to tote around a days worth of dirty cloth diapers. I can just throw the gPants in with our normal laundry and toss the insert in the garbage. I think they do say the are flushable, but I believe I have tried flushing one before and it didn’t go down so well. Anyway, it’s worth a try if you’re still using disposables when you travel. At least these are biodegradable and you can keep reusing the shell until it gets soiled, if it ever does. I’ve also used Honest diapers while traveling, and they held up pretty well. Plus they are super adorable with all the different designs.

Anyway, those are my cloth diapering must-haves. I mean, I could definitely get by without them, heck, people were doing it for thousands of years before the 20th century, but these things make it a lot easier for me to keep going.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Honest Diapers are Non-Toxic, Eco-Friendly, and Fashionable. Learn More!

Upcoming Blog Events {Hint: Giveaway}

I had a sick baby this past weekend. Last Tuesday, I picked Milo up from preschool and noticed clear, slimy mucus running from his nose. Too bad I didn’t notice it earlier, because I’m pretty sure they are most contagious when the clear mucus is present. He didn’t act like he felt bad, so no need for any medicine. I just gave him ACV/raw honey drinks and plenty of fluids and took him back to preschool on Thursday. Thursday afternoon he seemed fine, still had some mucus, but that night he developed a fever.

When the fever comes along and the mucus turns from clear to greenish, then you know the infection is almost gone! He held a steady 101.6 for 2 days and it finally broke Saturday night as I put him down for bed. He wasn’t uncomfortable, so I didn’t want to give him anything that might take the fever down. After all, fevers are a productive way for the body to fight off the infection.

Sunday was a good day! Still pretty boogery as his body was ridding itself of the infection, but we played outside in his little pool and had a great day.

I have some fun things coming up this week! An amazing recipe, and my first **GIVEAWAY**!!!!  I’m really excited for the giveaway, so stay tuned this week so you can enter to win some handmade items by yours truly!

Have a great Monday, everyone!!

It’s Grandparents Day!

I’ve been very blessed by having my grandparents around my whole life. Only recently have we lost my mom’s mom, and my great-grandma. Most people don’t have their grandparents around, or they aren’t a big part of their life, well into their 20’s!

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This handsome couple is my mother’s parents, Charles and Janice. I never got to meet my grandpa, since he died when my mom was about 10 years old, but my Mamaw was around until just a few years ago. We have lots of funny stories involving her. She lived with us a lot over the years so we got to spend a good deal of time with her. She always walked around mumbling things under her breath like “well, I swan!”.  She was a funny lady. She was always warning us about things and she would always start her warnings out in a really low voice saying, “ooh, amber….”  She died the month before Sam asked me to marry him, but we had been dating for a while and she thought he was such a handsome young man. I really wish she could be here to see the life we have made. She would be head over heels in love with Milo and Annabelle (my sister’s daughter).  I miss her so much, but I’m so thankful for all of the years I had with her.

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These two are my father’s parents, Bob and Sharon.  They are both alive and well and still a big part of my life. They have been a wonderful example to me and my cousins of what a marriage should look like, which is anything but rainbows and unicorns. I grew up close to their farm in Florida near two of my cousins. The four of us (me, my cousins, and my sister) would run around in the woods, building forts and exploring, what we thought was the wilderness. It seemed so big when we were so small. Anyway, occasionally we would do something completely idiotic like climb grandpa’s pear tree and we knew we were in trouble. He’d catch us, make us go back and pick a switch off the tree. We only did those things once, and we learned quickly to stay away from trees and bushes that had skinny, whip-like branches. Haha. My grandma only punished the 4 of us once. I can’t remember what we did, but all four of us were laughing when she lined us up, bent over her bed, and she pulled out a yard stick so she could take care of us all at one time. Haha. She always made us play outside, which I am so thankful for! She would give us a few old pots and some spoons and we’d go out on the front porch and play house all day. She also taught me and my sister how to play the piano and read sheet music, which is knowledge I will cherish forever.  I have been very blessed to have such a close relationship with them my whole life.

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I feel that I should also include my great-grandma in this celebration of grandparents! She lived right down the road on the same farm, so we saw a lot of her.  We’d stop by her house sometimes on our way to her part of the woods. She lived through the Great Depression, so she had tons of canned food stockpiled in her house. My dad always told us not to eat anything over there since she like to keep food around a little longer than it wanted to stay around. Haha. She was a sweet lady, and I never fully appreciated having her around until after I was married and had Milo. She lived a long and full life and passed away just a month or so ago.

I am very blessed to have such amazing grandparents. I know many people have strained relationships or no relationship at all with their grandparents, so I definitely consider myself blessed in this department.

Happy Grandparent’s Day to all of mine! Thank you for being such a big and important part of my life. You all have helped shape me into the woman I am today. I love you all!

What are your favorite memories with your grandparents, or how have they impacted your life?