Breastes?

I previously wrote an article after my first daughter was born that was more or less my realization that breastfeeding was hard times. At that point, becoming a mother was so new to me and I just felt like I was running behind the struggle bus just trying to get on. Now that I’m two months postpartum with my second daughter, I’m captain of the struggle bus and here to give you all the tricks and trades of breastfeeding that I’ve learned in my nursing years.

Breastfeeding is like meditation, it’s something you have to work for incessantly to hopefully achieve the all and mighty great supply (I’m talking overstocked freezer-considering donating your stash, hindmilk rich supply milk). I haven’t gotten there myself, but it seems to me that it usually comes to the mother’s that a) don’t stress about it or b) don’t care about it, which I’m neither.

I.

The most important rule in breastfeeding is DIET. Oh gawd, I thought I’d get some slack with my second child since my first was super colicky, but nooope. Her intolerance was almost immediate. After two days of consecutive witching hours, I gave up dairy* I was stubborn and kept my splash of creamer in my morning coffee. However, the joke was on me–less than one ounce of creamer in my coffee caused about 2 hours of constant crying/screaming during the evening. Since eliminating these foods, I have given up caffeine, tomatoes (mostly cooked tomatoes like pasta sauce) and dairy (raw, not cooked-ie. milk, cheeses, etc). I’ve also tried to stick to whole foods and limit sugars as much as possible. Somehow I’m still one of the lucky ones to hold on to my pregnancy weight while breastfeeding even though my diet is on point (wahhh).

II.

Water. I can’t ever seem to keep myself hydrated so I try to cheat as often as possible. I started by hydration journey by adding Liquid IV to my water once a day but realized my sugar intake was high so I switched to Nunn tablets. Both are sold on Amazon, Nunn comes in tablet form and is 10 calories per tablet/5 grams of sugar where liquid IV is a powder form and has 50 calories./11 grams of sugar . Nunn is also gluten free and is made with plant based ingredients and has 13 flavors to chose from where Liquid IV comes with 3 flavors and has a new hydration technology that also includes daily vitamins. I order them subscription from Amazon for a discount. Liquid IV is also sold at Costco (major convenience).  Or you know, you can just drink water like a normal person. Momming two girls has me cutting every shortcut possible since I can never find where my water cup is or I’m stuck with a sleeping baby in my arms and don’t have access to any nearby water supply.

III.

Community. Sign up for a mom forum (Facebook has hundreds of groups) or get breast friends. Literally nothing has helped me more than bouncing my problems off another breast feeder. Am I producing enough? Why is her poop green this week? When and how much do I pump? Is birth control going to rid my supply? Do I have a clogged duct? Is this product worth it? Gah, the ladies who have shared their TMI stories, advice and problems-you rock. I whole heartedly thank you. My best, unsolicited advice is to find that breast friend, and if you don’t have one-I’m here for you.

IV.

Legendairy Milk. Thanks to my friend, Rebecca, for introducing them to me (hay girl). Can we talk about how amazing their product line is? I admit, it’s overwhelming at first, I lied, it’s still overwhelming to nail which product(s) are right for you, but there is nothing more gratifying than building a freezer stash. I have a 15 lb/2 month old child currently, for new moms out there, my second child is the same size as my first child was at her 4 month appointment. I can somehow continue to grow her AND produce enough for my freezer stash. I have about 60 oz from 10 minute pumping sessions 1-2 times a day from the past month. I started with their popular bundle (liquid gold, pump princess and milkapoolaza) then ordered their tea (tea-tas) when I was convinced my hormonal IUD was going to diminish my supply. I just got their Lecithin and I’m planning on ordering the pump princess and cash cow bundle and lactivist to bump up my hind milk supply (just take all my money). I’m determined to have a solid milk supply. Plus their orders come with a ton of helpful hints on breastfeeding and their Instagram handle is my absolute favorite right now. Promise me, you will at least follow them if you’re planning on nursing.

V.

 Haakaa. I wasn’t sure I needed this at first but then my friend told me how much she saved from her leaky boob in two months, and I had ordered it before she could finish the conversation. I don’t know if she would want to be named in this article considering I just told you she had a leaky boob, but I ordered this and I plop it on my other boob while I nurse if I begin to leak and I’ve saved up to 5 oz in one cluster feeding sesh alone. Best of all, it’s like $13 dollars on Amazon and is the perfect tool to help get out a clogged duct, if you end up getting one. I consider a clogged duct to be a breast feeding badge of honor, so better to plan ahead IMO.

VI.

Learn your pump. I got the Spectra and tbh I had no idea what I was doing. I finally got my groove down, apparently you’re supposed to change the suction and duration during the feedings? I had no idea. I also didn’t know that you can pay the difference from the health insurance covered Spectra for the cordless Spectra (which is like a difference of $30.00), wish I knew that earlier. I have the Medela pump from my first pregnancy but I heard the suction was better on the Spectra, and so far I’m a fan. The plan I follow for my pump sessions is what I got off Legendairy Milk’s IG:

70 cycle for 3 mins

54 cycle for 6-7 vacuum 

38 cycle for 7 vaccum for 3-4 minutes, or until milk runs out

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I also just ordered the Willow pump, so I’ll let you know how that pans out in a later post. I was stressed out about how I would find the time to pump before/during work and find time to take care of the kids, nurse and find time to work out since my maternity leave is running out. It’s a wireless pump that will allow me to pump in the car and at my desk and I’m hoping this will change my life, but as most baby products you buy, it’s like a 50/50 shot, ha. If I can pump 3x a day at work or during work hours plus work out on my lunch since I’m not leaving my desk 2x a day for 40 minutes, it should be a total game changer.

I also have researched formula, too. I supplemented with my first when I went back to work but managed to still breast feed for 15 months. I confuse myself on why I’m so determined to breast feed, truly, since it 100% consumes my life. I just know it’s a miracle milk and if I’m one of the lucky moms that can do it, no reason why I shouldn’t? I just figure I have an extra year of pregnancy, because I’m counting down the days until I can use retinal, inject Botox, and have endless margaritas by a beach. Until then-I’m just sharing what I’ve learned since it’s the absolute most confusing part of motherhood minus the actual baby part.

Moms, feel free to contribute. Thanks for reading.

xx

 

9 MONTHS WITH P

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WEIGHT: 20.9 LBS 5 OZ HEIGHT: 27.5 IN

What She’s Wearing: Children’s Place Denim Vest (similar here), Old NayTop (here)  Old Navy Bottoms (similar here) & Headband (here) All of these items were on SALE 🙂

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Clothing Size:  Def only buying 12 months and up! It’s just easier to have clothes a tad bit bigger rather than  cutting off the circulation in her legs. As you can see, lil P has chubby thighs and we’ve had to say goodbye to a lot of her 9 month clothes for that very reason–and I’m a HUGE fan on spandex shorts so that’s what I’m stocking up on at the moment.

Diaper Size:  4’s. Changing a diaper on a 9 month old is challenging, there’s a lot of twisting, turning and grabbing on to anything in sight–so I’ve learned the bigger the diaper the easier! I still use cloth time from time,  to be honest, I’ve just gotten a little lazy with it. I’ve luckily just had diapers from the shower I’ve been using so once I run low I’ll probably go back to cloth.

Milestones: I just got back from her 9 month check up, and as confident as I was about where she was at with her milestones–it just took a huge dive when I was filling out the survey checking the no or sometimes boxes. Unlike other babies her age, Presley has only recently started crawling within the last couple of weeks. She got around by maneuvering crawls, rolls and standing up, but now she’s finally crawling pretty consistently. She has more interest in walking, so we’ll hope for that. However, when she’s on the move, she’s incredibly fast! If I leave her in one area of the house, she ends up 10 feet away in a matter of seconds. She can clap with objects, and she is starting to pull herself up on to things. I tried to get her to climb up our stairs and she was mildly freaked out by it (which is good because I cringe at the thought of her using them as she gets older). She talks non-stop, babbles, screams, and sings. She mimics things and people, and she is just FULL of personality. She sits up pretty well from a laying down position and she seems very strong (considering I’m kicked by her non-stop). She also wrecks havoc wherever she goes, especially when I carry her on my side (she recently took down hanging pictures in the hallway and knocked Sergio’s mug off the table). Honestly, she seems like she’s a different person every morning, and is definitely keeping our hands full.

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Sleeping:  This is hard to tell, girlfriend has 4 teeth coming in. Sleeping has been off. She’s currently taking her second nap of the day. She wakes up around 7:30 in the morning and naps 2-3 times a day (depending on the length of the nap), and because I work late (I work until 7), she goes to sleep later (around 7:30-8:30). She doesn’t sleep through the night, she wakes 1-2 times in the night to feed. #nursinggamestrong #thatsajokebecauseI’msooverofnursing

Teeth:  Her two bottom teeth are grown in, & she currently has 2 teeth about halfway out and two more coming in. The two that have popped through and midway grown in are her top right front tooth and her right incisor (which is super early for her–typically they come in around 16-18 months). The two that are shy under her gums are the matching left teeth. She has been itching her ears a lot and seems a little cranky today, safe to assume her teeth are bothering her. Also, the doctor I go to recommended using flouride toothpaste on her, which I’m still on the fence whether I should use it or not because most all infant toothpaste is fluoride free–do any parents have an opinion on this? I’m using natural toothpaste since she straight up swallows it. 

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Talking:  I swear she said Hi today! She babbles & she laughs when I mimic animal sounds. She seems to respond to conversation, especially when I tell her “excuse you,” or “bless you.” She seems fascinated by whistling and she talks, screams, sings almost always when she’s not being played with (like when she’s in the car or when I’m writing this blog). She is def talkative. She loves to use her tongue to make rolling L noises (if that makes sense), and when she cries she uses those sounds the most. She also knows how to use her hand in front of her mouth to manipulate sounds.

Favorite Activities:  Her grandmother takes her to the Science Museum, Children’s Museum, Water Park, PHX Zoo, Wildlife Zoo, Aquarium, and Natural History Museum on a weekly basis. I commend her, because I haven’t even been to all those places with her! She’s very lucky in that sense. Above all, she LOVES being in water! For her 9 month birthday, we went to the water park since it seems to be her favorite. We’ve also gone to classes held at the Children’s Museum that help give great ideas for toddler development (they’re pretty cheap, if not free–see here). Splash pads are a big hit with the AZ heat! She likes to be independent (obvs if you know me, you know she got that from me). She enjoys sitting with us at the dinner table, she likes to feed herself (poorly), and move around at her free will. I’m currently in the hunt for baby proof items for the house–feel free to throw out any advice because I’m sort of learning as I go which sucks because you often find out with tears from your baby. Worst. Feeling. Ever.

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Foods: She loves to eat! I’m still nursing and she still supplements with formula. She eats pretty much everything from chicken, tuna, fruits and veggies, noodles, cheese, yogurt. We definitely know to give her avocado and prunes sparingly (I’ll spare you the details), and she really hasn’t been too picky of an eater. I’m currently trying to get her to use a straw. It’s become an obsession.

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Can we be Breast Friends?

When I found out I was pregnant, I pretty much knew what I was in for. Since I said sayonara to my teens, I have been exposed to pregnancy culture from various friends, family, film & reality television shows . I knew there was a possibility I could gain 100 lbs., get stretch marks all over my stomach, or any random thing that happened to a friend of a friend that conjured a fear & sort of stuck in my mind only to resurface once I saw that small second line on my pregnancy test.

Oh man, but boy does pregnancy take on a new life (pun intended). Once you begin to show (around 5 months or so), suddenly you’re an epicenter for unsolicited birth & baby advice. “Did you watch the Business of Being Born?” Yes. “Are you having an epidural, you know it drugs the baby, right?” Probably. The mommy advice never stops. So at some point, you’re spinning around in circles praying for it to stop, then suddenly you find yourself in my position.

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Why doesn’t anyone talk about how hard it is to breastfeed?

Obviously I knew the first couple of weeks would be tough while your nips get accustomed to a newborn feeding on them every two hours, that’s common knowledge. But what happens if your baby, like mine, wants to feed for five hours straight? FIVE HOURS. I thought it was a joke the first time it happened. Nope, P was a cluster feeder and she continued this pattern for 2 months straight.  Imagine feeding her at seven pm and sitting on the couch for five hours with just enough time to change and burp her, and maybe she’d end up taking a nap or two–but she’s asleep in your arms. Your day will fly by, and you won’t accomplish a single thing.

Oh, and food allergies? Your baby has them. Their sweet sterile stomach isn’t capable of breaking down certain foods, so currently I’m on a dairy (especially cheese), chocolate, caffeine, peanut and alcohol free diet. Jealous? Thought so.

Then there’s the whole nipple confusion/milk supply dilemma. You can’t introduce a bottle too soon otherwise you’ll confuse the little one on how to latch properly so your breastfeeding her every time. Oh and two hours? Lies. I have a snacker. Girlfriend feeds every hour or so, still pretty consistent at snacking hourly even at 3 months. “She’ll start to go longer between feeding” they say.

Oh, & you have to constantly worry about your milk supply. I worry more about this on a regular basis then I do about the recent measles outbreak, Russian politics, American Sniper celebrated as a war hero, and my finances COMBINED. As if I wasn’t already sleep deprived, I’m probably losing more sleep on it. Oh, if you pump too much before your milk stabilizes then you’ll over produce which you’ll a) have to keep up with (pump and store–but who has time for that?) or b) you’ll lose your supply because he/she won’t eat enough. For the first month & half, I was her bottle and had to stop, drop and feed at her command & I can’t tell you how many hours I spent feeding her in the backseat of my car because she wanted to be fed at the most inopportune times (like a graduation ceremony).

So then, praise Jesus, you begin to pump. Now you have to introduce the bottle. “If your baby is hungry enough, she’ll eat.” Lies. The first time we tried the bottle at home, she took it like a champ. So for my boyfriend’s 30th, we went out to a nice restaurant & after I had my first glass of wine postpartum it was like she never saw a bottle in her lifetime as she screamed her head off in hunger pains. We went through over $100 in various bottle systems and suffice to say we’ve finally gotten that down (ILY, Dr. Brown). But even so, it’s still a pain–like you are on this endless search for hot water (to warm the bottle), or  you accidentally pack the wrong nipple flow, or you forget to refridge the bottle when you get home therefore you throw out a full bottle.

No matter how many ounces, it hurts me to waste breastmilk.

So then comes the “Is she sleeping through the night?” questions that haunt me every day, and it’s like “no, she breastfeeds and it metabolizes at lightening speed.” Hell,  I’m happy with 4 hour intervals. Leave me alone, judger.

So am I bitter? Probably. It’s like everyone told me how their sister’s birth was the WORST ever, or that if I got stretch marks as a teen I’d get them again during pregnancy making me inspect every indent from clothing under a microscope to make sure it wasn’t one, or tell me I’ll never wear my beloved shoes again because my feet grow with pregnancy, BUT did anyone tell me that breastfeeding was going to be the hardest thing ever?!? No, and I could have used the unsolicited advice.

But here I am. 3 months postpartum and things are finally getting easier & I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

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My Family Tree is Broken.

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Why does understanding who is and who is not family have to be so black and white?

It seems like the more I try to identify or normalize what family is supposed to be or should be, the more my family evolves in to something much stranger and farfetched.

For example, the other day I got a message from a woman claiming to be my half sister, and from that moment on–I knew that my family life could never be conventional. It’s amazing that by blood I have this small and rather disconnected family, while through marriage or life, I’ve gathered the closest and strongest family around.

To give a better understanding, I was three when my parents divorced. They separated before I could ever know what it was like to have my mother and father living in the same house. My idea of family time was spending every other weekend visiting my dad while my mother raised me by herself. There weren’t many Christmas or Easter traditions because the majority of those holidays were spent with different sides of the family and often times in different cities.

Since my mother grew up on the East coast, her father, sister and my only cousin lived in New York, while my father’s side of the family lived in Washington. I was either traveling on Christmas day to be with one side of the family or it was a untraditional gathering with family friends. Needless to say, it was never the same.

Also, my family was constantly changing. My father remarried to another woman a couple years after his divorce from my mom to a woman who has been in my life since I was born. While her two daughters officially became my sisters, we were already extremely close–nothing but the label changed. To this day, I still consider them my sisters, and they truly are the most amazing women I know.

Almost from the beginning my step-mother included me in her family, and continues to do so even though her obligation ended long ago. Even her parents (my ex-step grandparents) continue to send me birthday cards every year. Even though we’re now just people with a couple degrees of separation, but they are part of the best family I have.

And then a little less than ten years later, my step-father came in to my life when my mother remarried, and while I still have my dad in my life, Kevin has stepped up to the plate by raising me while he continues to be the stability, or the rock I need in order to become the person I want to be. He’s been one of the most amazing mentors in my life, and his family has been just as loving and welcoming. From a teenager on, his parents, brothers, sister, aunts, grandparents and cousins (he comes from a large family) have been a huge blessing in my life–while none of them ever had to be.

What my intention of writing this was not to bore you with my family tree, but to sort of envelop that family isn’t always something you’re born with, and while I have another sister out there, I have already been blessed with three. I just wanted to share my story to give a better understanding that it’s okay if your family tree colors outside the lines, it’s 2013 for goodness sake–nothing is normal anymore.

For me, family is whatever you need it to be. I’m an only child who has two sisters by marriage, and a sister and brother by many years of friendship. I have a mother, step-mother, second mother, and father, step-father. Not including a whole bunch of family that doesn’t share any of the same blood, but believe me when I say they’re more of a family I could have ever wished for.

& while I’m excited to meet and learn all about my new sister, she just has to keep in mind that in my world, family is what you make it.