Monday, August 8, 2011

An Oversupply Story

In honor of world breastfeeding week, I thought I'd share a little bit about my adventures in nursing. Growing up, nursing was foreign to me. There were no older siblings to watch, my mom nursed my brother only a few weeks and in the 80's breastfeeding just wasn't that popular. Thankfully, I married into a family that promotes breastfeeding and I felt comfortable and supported as I prepared to nurse my first baby. Sigh. If only it were that easy. You see, I'm one of those people who thinks they know everything about everything. Because I do. No really, it's true! Hahaha. While pregnant for the first time, I read everything I could find about birth and nursing and knew when the time came I'd pass the test with flying colors. Then came the swift kick to the behind called "you're a new mom" and I realized I knew nothing. All of the reading and studying helped me feel calmed and prepared, but that was where it ended.

Adalyn (First Try)

After an exhausting, but natural birth (a story for later) Adalyn latched on easily but I only nursed her for a little while before heading home from the birth center. Eight hours later we both woke up and I offered her the breast and she refused. At the time I wasn't worried about it, knowing that it takes a while before a newborn to get hungry. At my home visit that day the nurse couldn't get her to latch either. She cried and turned away. So we tried a nipple shield. She still wouldn't latch. At 24 hours my milk was in and I was completely engorged and in a ton of pain. Goodbye dreams of ever having a boob job! I was told to pump and use an SNS (supplemental nursing system) in which the milk was put in a syringe and pumped through a small tube into the nipple shield. So. Freaking. Exhausting. This was every two hours. On day five, the SNS broke. It was 2am. I called the birth center, completely freaking out and my oh so wise midwife told me I didn't need it. And she was right. Adalyn nursed with only the nipple shield. At this point Adalyn started to become very fussy, mostly at the breast. There was lots of crying (not just from her), begging and praying that is would get easier. She was also awake most of the night crying. When I went in for my two week postpartum visit my midwife told me I could either begin an anti-depressant or start getting more sleep. I started pumping in the evening so that my MIL could watch her from 7-11 and I could get a few hours of sleep. This helped me a lot, but Adalyn was still miserable. One day I noticed her poop was green and frothy. Google to the rescue. Hind milk, fore milk imbalance! Oversupply! Overactive letdown! All of the answers were right there. Pumping had sent my supply into overdrive. Next we tried to fix the problem. Block feeding, no pumping, B6, birth control pills, sage tea, cabbage leaves. You name, we tried it. Nothing worked. I was terrified of pumping at this point, thinking I would make the problem worse. I didn't realize that the fore milk has A TON of lactose and that was making her really, really sick and uncomfortable. The lactose overload eventually damaged her intestines enough to cause a dairy intolerance which was hell to deal with. We weaned from the nipple shield at six weeks. The engorgement didn't fade until she was about 9 months and eating solids regularly. I was then that nursing became some what pleasant although Adalyn never really enjoyed it. She never once fell asleep at the breast. It was something she was forced to do (she would never take a bottle). When she weaned at 16 months it was bittersweet. I felt relieved, but guilty that it didn't go better.

Ethan, four weeks
When Ethan came along he latched and nursed perfectly. My milk came in and the crying began. All day. All night. I waited about six weeks and worked closely with a lactation consultant to try and get my supply down. Once again, nothing worked. I decided I wanted a happy, healthy baby more that I wanted to nurse. That night I went to Target and bought a set of bottles. I pumped once in the morning and once at night (both sides) and never offered the breast. Because the milk was mixed in the bottle, the hind milk/ fore milk imbalance was no longer an issue. Twelve hours later I had the sweetest baby ever. It was such a miracle. Over the next few months, I would pump and then let him nurse to make sure he would still latch on. At about four months, I could tell he had no interest in nursing and it became a struggle to get him to latch on. For most moms, it wouldn't have been a big deal but I wanted SO badly to nurse my sweet boy. I hated washing bottles and pumping equipment. So, I threw it all away. Every single bottle. We were going to make it work. Before he nursed I would trigger a letdown and then express an ounce or two into a cloth before letting him nurse. This worked pretty well and he remained healthy and happy. He weaned at 16 months but still nursed once every other day or so until he was about 22 months.

Simon, six weeks
Simon nursed amazingly well from the beginning. Once again, my milk came in full force at 24 hours and the engorgement was here to stay. It wasn't until day three that I started to experience a lot of pain when he would latch on. My right nipple ended up with a horrible crack which took about two weeks to heal. For those two weeks, I would nurse on the left and pump on the right. At four weeks postpartum I tried a seven day course of birth control pills to lower my supply. They worked well, but we all know what happens when you stop taking the "active" pills. You start your period. Well, my uterus wasn't completely healed and that resulted in a pretty severe hemorrhage and me in the ER. Don't try this. I knew from nursing Ethan that sugar increased my supply but didn't realize how dramatically until this time around. At six weeks, I began counting calories while avoiding sugar and highly refined carbohydrates. And what do you know... perfect supply. I could nurse on one side for only ONE feeding. Not 12 feedings! Just one! I still have to pump first thing in the morning but that's it. If I eat sugar I pump 12 oz in the am. When I avoid sugar I pump 4 oz. That's a big difference! Nursing Simon has been heaven. It's everything I've dreamed of. It is romantic, beautiful and relaxing. I feel so blessed to be able to nourish him and keep him content.

It would have been easy to give up; I'm so thankful I stuck it out and figured out what worked for me. Lessons learned: Nursing takes hard work and determination. If you want to nurse your baby, you can*! It DOES get easier! With that being said, be easy on yourself. Nursing is a sacrifice. Only you will know what's best for you and your baby. And now I'm off to cuddle my sweet boy :) Happy nursing!

*I realize that there are some situations in which nursing is not the best choice. Deciding how to nourish your baby is personal decision. This is only what worked for me. The most important thing is that it's a mutually beneficial relationship. If you or your baby are not happy, please consult your doctor or a certified lactation consultant for help.

Six Months Old!

The past six months have been absolutely amazing! By far the best months of my life thus far... mainly because of this little guy. Here he is reading this morning.
At the beach with Dad a few weeks ago
My happy boy
Disclaimer: This is rare. Very rare.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Simon's Debut

A little over six months ago, Simon joined our family. He has brought so much happiness to our lives. I don't know what I would do without him. More than anything, he is my sunshine.

Dear Simon,

It had been a long week leading up to your due date. Those past few days I’d been feeling anxious, worried about your position. For some reason, you were spending way too much time OP. I did NOT want an OP birth. My back and hips were causing me a lot of pain and making sleeping almost impossible. I spent Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday in the chiropractor’s office, getting massages and crawling around on hands and knees. On Friday you finally turned LOA for good! I was determined to keep you that way. Friday night Dad and I went out to dinner and afterwards Aunt Kim and I went to walk the mall for a while. On our way home I told Dad to stop at the drug store so I could pick up some castor oil. I hadn’t decided if I was going to use it yet, I just wanted to have it on hand in case I was still feeling desperate in the morning. Dad laughed when I told him that, knowing if I had it on hand it surely would be used. I woke up Saturday morning (your due date) and decided to scramble a half dose of castor oil with my eggs. It would either work or it wouldn’t but the possibility of meeting you that day was too exciting! I just had to give it a shot!

I finished the castor oil at 9:30am. After a few trips to the bathroom, I began having mild contractions around 2pm. They felt like menstrual cramps; not really having a beginning or an end and seeming about a minute apart. More than anything, they were annoying. I lay down to rest for a while and mentioned to Dad I thought the castor oil had irritated my uterus. I just needed to wait for it to wear off and I thought the contractions would stop. Maybe you’d show up tomorrow. Aunt Kim and I talked on the phone for a while and I told her I was really hoping they’d space out and get longer. Thirty second contractions surely weren’t going to do anything except make me feel discouraged. I told her to call me in a few hours if she hadn’t heard from me. I called my midwife, A, and told her about the contractions and wondered if I should have a glass of wine to get them to stop. She said we might as well wait a little while and see what happens. More than likely the castor oil would wear off and we could try it again in a few days if you still weren’t here. Call her if I need her.

Around 4pm I decided to get in the bath and see if it helped quiet the contractions. They were becoming uncomfortable and I wanted them to stop. I still didn’t think I was in labor, just that the castor oil had caused some really annoying contractions. Dad came in and sat with me for a while and timed them. On average they were forty-five seconds long and about a minute apart. Grandpa D had called and I mentioned to him that I thought I might be in early labor but nothing serious was going on yet. Grandma Kathy said she was going to stop by on her way home from the grocery store. I was still in the bath when she showed up and we chatted for a while. The contractions were still really easy but I was couldn’t help wonder why they were SO close together. A break for a few minutes sure would have been nice. Grandma Kathy left at 4:15 and told me to call her later that night if anything picked up. As soon as she left the contractions became pretty uncomfortable and started lasting about a minute and half with thirty seconds between. I was sure I was in labor now. I had Dad call Cici to come and pick up Adalyn and Ethan. I was starting to vocalize through the contractions and didn’t want any interruptions. Ethan came in and said, “Mom, you’re a ghost! Ahhhh, oooohhhh!” I remember laughing at him and telling him, “Yep. I sure am!”

When Cici arrived a few minutes later I was beginning to doubt myself. The contractions were unbearable. I was sure you were malpositioned. The pain was so intense. I know a lot of that had to do with only twenty seconds to re-coop and prepare to do it again. I told Dad I didn’t know what to do. Something was surely wrong. I got out of the tub at 4:45 and Dad called A. I told her I didn’t know what was going on, but you felt transverse. When I checked myself I couldn’t even find my cervix and could no longer feel your head. I was really panicking at this point. She listened to me have a contraction and told Dad to have me lie down on the bed on my left side and to watch for your head! Dad was nervous! She was on her way here and would see us in about thirty minutes. I came and stood by the bed. With the next contraction my water broke. I felt a lot of pressure along with a sharp unmistakable sensation and thought for a moment it was the castor oil kicking in again but knew it was your head passing through my cervix. I didn’t want to ruin the carpet so I went and sat down on the toilet. Dad followed me into the bathroom, looking for your head and I yelled at him to stop!

During the next contraction your head was crowning into my hand and I was SO happy to know the pain was almost over. Feeling your head there made me calm and centered. I was no longer worried about you or your position. Dad said, “Do NOT left him fall into the toilet!” I stood up and birthed your head. I told Dad to catch you as I birthed your shoulders. You were born at 5pm! Only 45 minutes of active labor!

Dad held on to you and I sat down. I held you close and marveled at how perfect you were. I couldn’t have been happier in that moment. You were purple and quiet but watching me intently. I asked Dad to get me towels and the bulb syringe out of the birth kit. I suctioned your mouth and you pinked up nicely but never cried. You were so calm and alert! Dad and I sat together in shock that you were actually here! The placenta came out about a minute later. A called to check on me and let me know she was about 15 minutes away. She was also shocked you had already arrived. Dad called Aunt Kim to come over. It was so nice to have her here. She has such a calming presence. She helped us clean up and then A was here. I was so happy to see her. She was wonderful; so positive and reassuring. Aunt Kim cut your umbilical cord and we weighed you. You were 7lb 14oz. Just perfect!

You've only been with us for three days and I am already head over heels in love with you. I feel so grateful that Heavenly Father has entrusted me with your care. You are my own little piece of Heaven here on Earth. Your labor was fast and furious and I’d do it a million times over just to have you here with me. I love you Simon. I can’t wait to spend eternity with you.



Five minutes old
Newborn exam
Dad dressing Simon for the first time

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A year later OR take two!

Alright. I know, I know. Add my name to your list of failed bloggers. It's been a year since my last post. I could make lots of excuses about how life got in the way but what it comes down to is that I lacked the confidence to maintain this blog. In retrospect, I had no idea how vulnerable I would feel at exposing myself, my feelings, to whoever lives out there in cyberspace. But I've learned a lot over the past year. And one thing I've learned is that I shouldn't be scared. There are tons of blogs that I follow and I admire these people and learn from them. They are not perfect and I appreciate their willingness to share themselves, mistakes and all. So today, I am granting myself the grace and love to try again. And again. And probably again.

PS- In case you'd like to see one of my many excuses, here's Simon at six weeks. Now he's a whopping six months. We have a lot of catching up to do! Cheers!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Birthday Presents

A few weeks ago I attended an awesome homebirth. It was the second homebirth I've attended with this family. Through out the birth we chatted about homeschool and the co-op they were a part of. Her doula that was also there was a part of this co-op as well. As I was getting ready to leave, the mom told me there was a gift for me in the closet. A few weeks prior the co-op had made these fantastic preschool activity kits and she had made one for me for attending her birth! So thoughtful! My kids just love it and it keeps them busy for hours. Each activity is in its own ziplock bag with directions. Most of them the kids can do on their own. I kinda wish I would have saved it for after baby number three when I needed a quick game to keep them busy. Oh well! Hopefully it will still be fun in six months!
Ethan working on matching patterns and textures.

Here is Adalyn working on sorting beads and putting them onto pipe cleaners.
Yay for easy, creative activities!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Recently I read The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise (Susan's mom). It was an amazing read. For someone like myself who is interested in homeschooling and feels inspired to teach their children themselves, this book cannot go unread. I've been so over-whelmed, wondering HOW I could ever be wise enough to home school my kids. I have no degree, let alone a teaching certificate. But this book put my mind at ease. If you want your child to have a classical education (knowledge based), it tells you exactly what options you have for suitable curriculum. No more guess work! I decided to take a leap of faith after reading it.

Susan emphasizes the importance of a child being able to read fluently as soon as they are ready (normally around age 4-5). Before school? How can they learn to read before their teacher teaches them how to? Surprisingly enough she suggests that the parent should teach them how. With all their un-certified glory. So I made up my mind that indeed, I would teach Adalyn myself. Susan also wrote The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading. I went ahead and ordered a copy along with the first set of BOB Books. And what do you know- Adalyn is already reading!!! She's actually sounding out the letters and putting them together to form words. It's amazing! I would highly recommend both books to any parent who wants an easy, phonics based program for teaching their child to read.

Ethan on the other hand isn't reading quite yet. But he is already potty training! Just as exciting, I know! There's nothing quite as beautiful as hearing a toddler yell, "Mom, I pooped in the potty!" Amen. We went out together today while Adalyn was playing with another princess. First we went to Kohl's to look at toys for his birthday. He picked out a Fisher Price Castle that comes with a knight and dragon and a green tee-ball set. Pretty easy, right? After Kohl's we went to Moe's to have lunch with Dad. We made it back home with no potty accidents! Wahoo! He's getting so big. When baby three arrives I know he'll look like a giant. A giant in super hero underwear. Man, he's just so stinkin' cute!

Speaking of baby three can you believe I'm already 13.5 wks? Just two days away from the glorious 2nd trimester. Yes! My nausea is almost gone but my energy is no where to be found. I assure you this is completely pregnancy related. The new Krispy Kreme in Wake Forest and my lack of exercise has nothing to do with it. In just three weeks we'll be able to find out if this little one is a boy of a girl. I'm betting on a girl. Ryan is siding with a boy. One of us will be right. At first when I spoke with our insurance company sonograms weren't covered until we met a 1k deductible. No way that was going to happen. But after calling and speaking with someone different I found out they ARE covered if there is a medical need. Ryan having a few congenital heart defects is certainly a risk factor so for a $40 co-pay I can have my level 2 ultrasound and feel at peace about the health of our baby and having another home birth. I can't wait!

Ryan may have a job interview coming up. We would appreciate any prayers on his behalf. We really want to stay here in NC. And for that to happen a new job is a must. Thanks!

So yeah, that's life as of now. And I love it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The most important work I'll ever do

If you haven't listened to Jeffery R. Holland speak before, you are missing out. The compassion and power with which he testifies of eternal truths is so comforting to me. Whenever I am feeling down his words are sure to remind me of who I am really am; a daughter of my Heavenly Father. His most recent address is to all mothers. I could listen to this over and over and over again. When it comes to mothering I feel like I can ALWAYS use the reminder that although what I'm doing isn't easy, it is the most important work I will ever do. Enjoy.