Friday, June 22, 2012

My Experience with Breastfeeding

Before having any children I did a lot of reading on Breastfeeding.  Some of the advice was very helpful, like the fact that because I have large breasts (42DDD when breastfeeding, normally 38DD) the football hold is great when you are feeding a newborn.

Some things did not translate though.

The first month of breastfeeding (and I'm on my second child) is a little painful.  I am extremely sensitive to having my nipples touched on a normal basis, breastfeeding is a little more than just touching.  Thanks to using lanolin, much of the pain is avoided as everything stays supple.  If I forget to use lanolin over several feedings, I eventually dry out and it hurts way more.  With my first child I was able to forgo using the lanolin after about 6-9 months (can't remember exactly when as it was a while ago).  I thought something was wrong with the way I was breastfeeding my first child because it initially hurt to start the suckling process but the pain went away after a minute or two and the rest of the feeding didn't hurt.  I brought a La Leche League adviser to my house to help me and she couldn't explain why I might be hurting and flipped back and forth through her massive breastfeeding book for about an hour.  She suggested that I pull my child off and on a few times to get a better latch.  That was not fun.  What I learned was that that gave me blisters and if I'm going to try for a better latch to only do it once, not several times. I also learned that a little pain was probably due to me just being sensitive.  I liken it to people calling labor pains, "surges" and that they shouldn't hurt.  Ha! I think it depends on a woman's body and pain tolerance as to if she is going to feel pain.  Some are much better at handling things than others and sometimes they don't feel the pain at all.

Another thing I noticed was that everyone claimed that you would know when your milk came in by the firmness of your breasts and that would also tell you if your child had drained your breasts of milk.  That wasn't true for me. Perhaps it is because I have very large breasts, but they always felt squishy and never firm. I do feel a pins and needles pain when my milk is in need of letting down, but that's about it and it doesn't always happen.  I had to go by my child's diapers to find out if he was drinking any milk.  We have 12-15 wet diapers a day in the beginning and now it is starting to taper off to 8-12 per day.

Just because a breastfeeding experience is similar with most women does not mean it will be the same for all women.  And what some might perceive as a problem, is not a problem for others.

As far as weaning goes, yes my first child weaned when he was 13 months old.  I did not ask him to even though it hurt so much when he did nurse.  I'm not sure if the pain was from him gnawing with his two bottom teeth or if I was extra sensitive because I was four months pregnant at the time.  My best guess as to why he weaned was because I was pregnant and the flavor of my milk had changed.  Another guess was that my milk was drying up.   I often felt like I wasn't nourishing my child properly because he wasn't gaining weight in line with where he had been measuring.  He was in the 20th percentile from birth to 9 months, then he dropped and dropped until he bottomed out in the 4th percentile.

Had my first not weaned on his own I don't know how long I would have continued.  I was prepared to continue breastfeeding as long as he wanted as I feel that breast milk has a lot more nutrients than store milk.

With my first child I dealt with a lot of insecurities as to my ability to provide.  I had blisters and blocked ducts.  My back hurt from nursing in awkward angles. I never mastered the cradle your child in your arms with the breast in their mouth (I was sure I was suffocating the child with it's massiveness). I stained shirts and leaked.

I don't know what will happen this time around with breastfeeding but I will march along and deal with things as they come.

Rambling Thoughts on Being Young vs. Being a Little Older

When I was a teenager I felt like time took forever.  I wanted something to happen.  I wanted to be pushed forward by events to see how I would handle them.  I wanted to stretch my wings and see how far I could go.  Now being in my mid-thirties time slips by with frightening speed.  I feel like I'm trying to do things as fast as I can before I run out of energy and out of time.

Where does the time go? When did I switch from waiting around to running to keep up?

Add on top of that the need to feel something, anything. We become so numb inside with all this technology, time saving devices, and lack of connection with the real world.  No wonder people like to party, drink to excess, drive fast, and be crazy.

When my children get to this age of time taking forever, how will I help channel their energies into serving God? What can I propose they take on and do as an alternative to the rebellious culture of youth? I want them to find a focus and drive in their vocation.  How will we find their vocation?

These questions will be answered over time, I just hope I can keep up by the time our children need our help in answering them.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Ramble on my Faith

For most of my life I was Protestant, only coming to the Catholic faith 13 years ago. I struggle with reconciling my faith with all the different ways and things I've been taught. I find it is not easy to let go of my Protestant ways.

How Catholics deal with sin is completely different from a Protestant though we are both Christian. Catholicism has a better whole picture view of dealing with sin but I find myself slipping into the easier Protestant way. This does make confession extremely challenging because rather than keeping track of my sins, I forget their frequency and occurrence.

Other faith challenges I find in myself is my difficulty finishing books of spirituality. I have lots of books, but very few have been read cover to cover. At first I read books like crazy, but after a few chapters I put the book down and forget about it. Sometimes I wish I could be trapped on a desert island with all those unfinished books just so I could finish them.

Reading retention is another problem. I have dyslexia but rarely notice it. My husband gets frustrated when I read out loud as some of the sentences make no sense since I am pulling words from the next line in the book. I love the sound of words and will listen to myself speak them and assemble meaning to those words and sentences afterwards. It makes comprehension impossible if I'm really tired or excited.

I do better audibly but only a little bit more so. I was listening to podcasts and books for years on religious topics. I would do best when I was doing data entry at work or driving in the car. I had to be doing something with my body so I could be still inside and listen. The only problem now is finding inspiration that doesn't knock me unconscious when I start nursing my baby and I'm super tired. A lot of great religious material out there is very very dry. Other great material is too academically advanced for my brain.

As a Protestant, these topics would never bother me. My focus was on being a good person to others because that was all God wanted while I waited things out here on Earth. As a Catholic, I struggle to bring my faith forward with learning more and new things about who we are as Catholics. I struggle with being present at Mass, during prayers, and reading religious books.

I hope one day I will be better at my faith. I pray that my heart will grow and be more the way God wants it to be.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Post Pregnancy Weight Loss

Today my stomach is officially smaller than my chest.  Hurray!

I've also lost between 25-30 lbs in two weeks.  It's amazing how fast baby weight comes off.  I'm not dieting in any way, other than eating foods that are not processed.  My only real cheat is that I drink tea with white sugar in it and I'm not modest with the sugar.  I like my tea sweet.

Since about  2/3rds of the way through my pregnancy I have been avoiding grains of all kinds.  This includes wheat, spelt, barley, oats, corn and rice.  It is challenging only in that if I want to eat packaged foods I have to scour the label for hidden grain ingredients.  Oh, and I'm avoiding soy too.

The good news about eating this way is that during the third trimester of my pregnancy my blood pressure did not go up the way it did with my previous pregnancy.  I didn't get bloated and I slept fairly well.  The very best part was that all of my allergies disappeared.  It was heaven after spending the last 15 years congested and barely able to sleep at night because I felt like I was drowning.  If it were not for that last part, I'd be eating grains again.  I can do bloating and ignore high blood pressure, but congestion free sinus' are amazing.

I'm working on making sure I don't go into ketosis.  I'm a huge fan of low-carb diets for losing weight.  I've been in ketosis before, however I could never understand why it was not recommended for pregnant women since I'm sure women in the past (like 100 or more years ago) have likely been in that state and were perfectly healthy.  Then I listened to a podcast with the author of The Healthy Baby Code and he finally clued me in on the why.  If a mother is in ketosis when her child is born, that child has a greater propensity to store body fat because the body thinks that it is being born into a state of starvation.  That is not something I want for my child.  It is good for survival rates but in this day and age where food is abundant, it's more of a drawback.

When I'm finally released to start exercising and my breastfeeding is on solid ground, I plan on fully embracing the Paleo/Primal Blueprint lifestyle (giving up sugar, dairy, and legumes).  I really feel that it is something our bodies are designed for.  There is a lot of great scientific research out there on the physiological and biochemical reaction of food on the body.  We'll see how my body re-balances itself when I get to my new stable body weight.

Swinging into a new direction...or, My latest obsession

What a pendulum swing. For months I've been obsessed with nutrition, seeking out new and informative choices on eating and living healthy. Today, I find myself looking at artwork of the Eucharist and wishing there were a local Latin Mass I could attend. I've been desiring to wear a veil to mass and have been looking at beautiful chapel veils and Mantillas, contemplating color choices and trim styles.

Where does this come from, these wild spins in direction? Is it due to having a new little on snuggled in my arms? Is it because I've lost patience with my toddler as I try unsuccessfully to dictate my wished from the couch while nursing? Is it my frailty from surgery where overexerting myself results in a three hour involuntary nap and an uptick in uterine bleeding that I thought had stopped?

Whatever it is, when times like this happen I revel in the enjoyment of a new direction. I love learning if it is at my own direction and at my own pace. I know my friends and relatives tire of my prattle over the latest thing I've learned. I wish they too could enjoy my enthusiasm.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Motherhood is Taking Me to New Places

Life is so different when you have a second child.

I don't know how others feel but with our first child I felt like it took months to bond with him. He was so alien to me. Deep down I knew I loved him and being separated was very difficult, but at first it was from duty that I cared for my child and that mothering instinct to protect the helpless. Thank the Lord he made us that way. Now, that love for my oldest has blossomed and I find myself just watching him with greedy eyes wanting to hug, cuddle and kiss him.

My second child is so very different to me. I can't help but kiss him and feel his soft skin. My emotions are in a whole new place. Even though I'm tired from midnight, 2am and 4am feedings, I want to just look at him in wonder, change his diapers and feed him with what I can give him from myself. Sometimes, I want to wake him up so I can nurse him, or get him to look at me with those blue eyes.

Life has changed and I'm very grateful for the newfound love. I hope with each child it gets easier and easier to open my heart. I need to give of myself more and not hide so much.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Tired Days

Our newest little one is keeping me busy day and night. I'm finding it a challenge to be awake at 2am for three hours. The lactation consultant says that's because my body is producing prolactin which makes me incredibly sleepy when I nurse. In a month that will be out of my system but in the meantime I just pray I don't drop the baby while I'm nursing when I jerk back awake.

Tantrums reign supreme here as our toddler realizes he is not the center of the universe. Poor guy. He melts down whenever we won't do what he wants and it doesn't help that he doesn't really talk much at all. I've discovered that he does not want me to make or feed him breakfast, but my husband can. I am a traitor in his eyes as I am taking care of the intruder. I hope this moment will pass quickly and harmony will be found again.

The house is getting organized thanks to my husband. He works on all the little projects that have been put off all the while watching our oldest and keeping him from injury. I am so grateful he can be home with us this month. I don't know what things would be like if I was here alone while I recovered from my c-section. Not pretty.

Lastly, I finally got around to watching Soul Surfer. It was very good and I was crying through half of it. It was a good purge of those postpartum emotions. I definitely recommend people watch it. It is wholesome, sweet, tragic, and honest. I hope more films can be made like this one where sex and mindless violence and swearing are not the topic. Although, if a saint film comes along with the violence (i.e. For Greater Glory) I don't think I'll mind watching it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Feeling Like a Failure

I had mentioned in a previous post that staying in the hospital can make you feel like a failure as a mother. I have felt this way on both of my deliveries. I don't think the hospital quite understands the strain they put on new mothers.

In my first pregnancy and delivery I ended up with a tiny baby. He was only 6 lbs 7 oz. As you can imagine his weight loss was very dramatic because he didn't have all that much to lose. When each night the nurse weighed him she would scold me on how much weight he lost. On the third night she told me I had to supplement with formula or she would call the pediatrician and have him order me to supplement. I had no idea that I would be treated with such hostility, it was shocking.

I told the nurse to go ahead and call the pediatrician. While she was off making that phone call I sat in semi-darkness contemplating what to do. I woke my husband up and told him the news. I felt we weren't going to have a choice in the outcome. My husband grumbled a bit about not obeying the nurse or pediatrician and went back to sleep. I was frustrated because I liked my husband's stance but I was terrified that by disobeying the pediatrician's orders that CPS would be called in for endangering our child's life.

The nurse returned with orders from the pediatrician. I caved and requested soy formula since I was worried about allergies (my husband is lactose intollerant). I didn't understand that soy formula was missing a lot of nutrition compared to regular formula, like cholesterol (a vital building block for infants - breast milk has huge quantities of cholesterol in it), and that it would mess up the gut flora of our baby.

Instinctually, I didn't like the concept of supplementation or using formula. I felt that God would give me the ability to nourish my child. We were nursing but I wasn't comfortable with my natural ability to nurse. I had no idea if our baby was getting any milk. The nurse made me nervous.

After delivering the bad news, the nurse dropped off a bag of instant formula that came premixed in 2oz bottles and left. I carefully administered 1 oz to my child, the bare minimum of what was recommended, and promptly burst into tears. I felt like a complete and utter failure as a mother. Why couldn't I provide for my child? Why was what I had to give not sufficient?

A year and a half later and I now have more answers and feel on solid ground. I can hold my own against well meaning nurses and get them to back off.

The biggest thing I learned that really helped me overcome that feeling of failure was that c-section babies are waterlogged like their mothers. I had preeclampsia. I was retaining water horribly. They let me try to give birth naturally, but with an IV. I was hooked up to saline for 26 hours before my oldest was delivered. So, what he weighed at birth was a lot more than his true weight. He had a lot of water to lose, just like me.

The other thing I found out was that if the baby is pooping and peeing a lot, they are getting milk. Dehydrated babies don't do that. Had I known this I would have felt more successful as a nursing mother.

This go-round I made sure to remind the nursing staff and the breastfeeding consultant that our baby was waterlogged from the c-section and had to lose that water weight. The pediatrician was kind and seemed unworried by the weight loss. And even though the nurses freaked out that he lost 10% of his body weight from birth and told me I should supplement, I was able, with confidence, to tell them no.

I wish the hospitals would use different scales for measuring a baby's weight loss. It would be interesting to see the difference between weight loss in babies that were hooked up to and IV through their mother and those that were not. I bet the graphs would show dramatic weight loss in the first few days in the IV babies as compared to those who went without. And wouldn't there also be a difference between c-section babies and natural birth?

I hate feeling like a failure. I pray to God that he spares me the tears and helps me be a more loving and gentle mother.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Newest Little Man

Home from the hospital and we are settling in. Life is changing and new routines are born. No longer can I pick up or carry my toddler. The house has been transferred to the control of my husband who thankfully has the ability to stay with me for six whole weeks.

Our baby is so sweet and yet makes me so nervous. He is very quick to eat, unlike his brother. He sleeps long stretches at night, making me wonder if I need to wake him. He is so jaundice. He rarely cries.

The contrast between the two boys is a bit extreme. In some ways they are so similar, but in others they could not be more different. I thought with our first I was getting off easy but our newest is turning out to be even easier. We'll see how life progresses as time marches on.

Friday, June 1, 2012

My Big Boy

Eighteen and a half months old and he's been spending the week with my parents. They caught this great photo of him as he was waiting for food. I can't wait to finally get home and hug my big boy.

One Stitch at a Time

On Tuesday, May 29th, I gave birth to my newest little boy. He was born a robust 8 lbs 14 oz and was 21 inches long.

Hospital stays are not fun. The staff changes frequently, lots of noise, questionable food, and plenty of people who can make you feel like a bad mother. Your wishes and desires may be in direct conflict with hospital policy or accepted medical advice.

Currently, I sit in the semi-dark feeding my child. The pain of breastfeeding will eventually fade as we grow and learn day by day. I'm hoping it's sooner rather than later. My abdomen is in a lot of pain mostly because I don't want to take anything I react negatively to. We are trying to manage it with 800 mg of Motrin but it doesn't help much. So, I cry when it gets to be too much.

Our little boy lost 9% of his body weight in two days. 10% is too much and I'm sure we'll exceed that tonight when the nurse weighs him in a few minutes. What a way to feel like a failure. The same happened with our first baby.

Food is tolerable if I'm very careful, but I'm hungry and all the portable food are things I cannot eat. Not so good at 1am.

And lectures abound as to not sleeping with the baby, what your pain really means, and supplementing with formula. I hope hope hope I and the baby are released today. I want to go home.