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. **

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:

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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.

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!

Afghan for my baby girl

This week marks the halfway point in my pregnancy. I can’t believe that I will have another child in less than 21 weeks! I have already started on an afghan for her crib and I plan on doing all of her bedding, too!

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I am just doing a simple sunburst granny square flower and sewing them together as I make each square (the method is actually called “join as you go”).

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You can find the sunburst pattern here. I stopped at row 3 for the sunbursts then used rows 4 and 5 to square it off.

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I still have tons of squares to crochet, then I will go back and weave the loose ends in. I’m super excited to be able to use girly colors now! Have a great Thursday, all!

DIY: Babies

Just kidding. I’m not going to tell you how to make babies, silly. But today is normally the day I share my DIY projects, and it’s not like I don’t have many ongoing projects (hat for friends baby, piano bench, couch slipcover, afghan for couch, etc…), it’s just that I have something that I wanted to share with the world that involves babies!

I’m pregnant and it’s……

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…one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen!

Just kidding, it’s a beautiful skull.  Anyway, it’s a girl! I’m due sometime mid to late January, so yay! Sam is super excited to have a little girl to spoil. I’m terrified because I’m scared she’ll be just like me: mean, stubborn, and persistent. Milo has no idea what is about to happen. So many mixed emotions!

Honestly, though, I’m very excited to be having a little girl. I’ve already discovered how much more fun it is to shop for little girls than it is to shop for little boys. Sam didn’t like that discovery very much. Anyway, I need to get back to some of those DIY projects so I can have something for you for next Thursday! Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday’s Tune: You’re the Best Song…

I still rock and sing my 33lb, 19 month old baby boy to sleep every night. I love it. I love that time we have together. I love singing him old hymns that I grew up with in church, that he probably won’t hear in church. I have a list that I go through, but he’s normally asleep by the end of song #1. I think I normally start out with “Be Still My Soul”, then “His Eye is on the Sparrow”, then “Just a Closer Walk with Thee”, and sometimes I make it to “In the Garden”.

It is my favorite part of the day. I will miss it so much when he decides he’s too big to be rocked and sang to sleep.

I heard this song about a year ago, and knew I had to add it to my list of lullabies. The second and third verses always get me, and they will get you too if you’re a Christian parent.

You’re the Best Song I’ll Ever Write by Bethany Dillon

…and I’m kind of sad I couldn’t find a great video, but the only other one cut off the 3rd verse. The only lyric you miss at the beginning is “Good morning, you and the sun are up before I’m ready. Well, ready or not. You need me. So here I am.”

Butternut Squash Risotto

So this is a yummy recipe that I got from Giada’s cookbook, Giada’s Kitchen.  I love this cookbook. I make almost everything in it, except the Eggplant Timbale, and that’s just because it looks super time-consuming.  Her recipe calls for vegetable broth, and I suppose you could use that, however, being the meat-lover that I am (TWSS for Sarah), I like to use chicken broth.  You can play around with it and see which one you prefer, but DO NOT leave the vanilla bean out! DO NOT! It is such an important part of this dish.

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Butternut Squash Risotto

4 cups chicken broth

1 vanilla bean

3 cups butternut squash cut into 1 inch squares (one butternut squash)

3 tablespoons butter (Giada’s recipe calls for unsalted, however, I prefer the taste of salted)

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped (about a cup)

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (or a medium-grain white rice)

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 cup grated parmesan cheese (1/2 to go into the risotto and 1/2 to go on top)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

In a medium sauce pan, heat the broth over medium heat. Cut the vanilla bean in half, lengthwise, and run the tip of the knife along the inside of the shell to get all of the little beans out. Throw the beans and the shell into the pot of broth.  When the broth starts to simmer, add the butternut squash and cook until tender, about 5 – 10 minutes.  Remove the butternut squash with a slotted spoon, and set aside for now. Turn the heat to the lowest setting to keep it warm.

In another medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Sauté the onion just until soft, but not browned.  Add the rice and coat with the butter. Add wine and simmer until the wine has evaporated (about 2 or 3 minutes).  Add 1/2 a cup of the broth to the risotto, wait until it is completely absorbed, stirring in the meantime, and add another 1/2 a cup of the broth.  Repeat that process until all of the broth is gone, making sure to continuously stir the risotto.  Discard the vanilla bean pod.  The mixture should look nice and creamy when done. The risotto will be tender, but not mushy.

Take the mixture off of the heat. Add the butternut squash, the other tablespoon of butter, salt, and 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese.  Transfer to a serving dish and top with the other 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese and the chives.

Now sit back and enjoy your tasty treat!

While I was cooking this, I got a few snapshots of Milo picking on the Shibas.  Poor Shibas.

"Move over and let me dump all of your water all over the floor for no reason whatsoever!"

“Move over and let me dump all of your water all over the floor for no reason whatsoever!”

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Enjoy your Tuesday evening!

 

The “Blowin’s of the coats”

If you are lucky enough to have a shiba (or a different breed who decides to leave his entire coat in small pieces all around the house twice a year) then you probably know what the title means.  Yep, it’s that time of year. Kistune has been leaving a trail of hair (more than usual) every where he walks.  He always looks like a homeless dog this time of year, with little spicks of hair sticking up all over his head and back. It makes me think of the time right after I had Miles. I was in the hospital for a week and had come home in the middle of my stay to shower and gather some personal things.  When I walked in, Kit was standing at the top of the stairs with clumps of hair sticking up all over his head and back. He was running around in circles and doing his “shiba scream”. It really did seem that he had gone nuts while we were away. Haha. I laughed pretty hard, but also cried because that was my first time being physically separated from Milo. Anyway, Grandma caught up with Kit the other day and FURminated him! He didn’t seem to ming, though…

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I raked up the hair from the second brushing, so this isn’t even all of it!

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Oh, and here’s a photo of an adorable baby.

Milo: 11 months

Milo: 11 months

Happy Friday!

Milo – A Photo Bomb

I can’t believe I didn’t post something like this sooner! Here are a few (maybe I should say “several”) photos of mommy (that’s me! Eeek!) and Milo.

I caught his sweet little smile!

 

 

Caught the tail end (or beginning) of a smile!

 

 

May May, sitting next to his replacement.

 

"What the fudge is this hairy thing next to me??!!"

Happy hump day!

Welcome, Baby Milo!

My son was finally born! January 4th was the big day.  I went in to the hospital at 9am for a scheduled induction, disappointed because I really wanted a natural, unmedicated birth, and low and behold as soon as they put the fetal monitors on me labor contractions started all on their own! They were pretty mild for about 2 hours, then his heart rate started dropping in the 40’s, so they told me they had to start IV fluids on me because that was standard procedure when there are decelerations in baby’s heart rate.  As they were giving me my IV (they stuck me 7 times then finally had to call the anesthesiologist who got it in one poke, TWSS) my water broke, and we were informed that there was meconium in the water. I guess Miles just couldn’t hold it. After another hour, they were not happy with my weak-sauce contractions that were not doing anything to change my cervix, so they told me they were going to start pitocin.  At this point, I was still hoping for a pain medication-free birth, and I continued to labor through the very painful contractions (that were back-to-back, by the way) for another 3 or 4 hours, when I completely caved and begged for the epidural.  The contractions were so painful, and as the epidural was being administered I had three but managed to stay completely still. It was a miracle.  After I got the epidural, I was the happiest laboring woman in the world, and I managed to dilate to 9cm within the next two hours! Pushing lasted for about 15 minutes when Miles’ heart rate started dropping again, so the Dr. whipped out the salad tongs and came to the rescue! Miles was born at 10:54pm with a head full of white hair, just like his daddy had.

Back-to-back 90 second contractions, thanks to the pitocin. Ouch.

 

After the epidural...

 

My beautiful baby boy, Miles Robert.

 

Thanks to Mandi for capturing these amazing first moments of Miles' life!

 

Daddy and Miles. Sam was such a baby hog, still is.

 

My next post will cover the first week of his life, since we spent that in the hospital. =( Happy MLK, jr. day!!!