Too much of a good thing

If I hadnt dealt with this over supply/over active letdown issue before, I would have thought it odd that I woke up in a pool of breast milk this morning inspite of the super supportive bra I was wearing.

But, since I have been here before…I wasnt shocked. ┬áJust very wet.

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I was weaned

I have spent the last week reflecting on my breastfeeding relationship with Elliott. The difficulties that we experienced in the beginning. The massive amount of pain that came the first few months. The overflowing milk supply a few months later. And the joy and comfort we both experienced as a result of this wonderful bond. Truly amazing. In fact, maybe, the most selfless thing I have ever done.

For many reasons–I always dreaded weaning Elliott. I couldn’t imagine that the day would come. I never wanted to deny him the thing that comforted him the most. I didn’t want to end something that allowed me so much joy and happiness.

So when my 16 month old, sweet faced little man shook his head right to left and pulled my shirt down when offering him the breast– I was heartbroken and felt rejected. I thought it would pass and that once he wasn’t nauseous any longer he would resume his nightly feeding.

Nope.

We are officially broken up. We are no longer a breastfeeding pair. He is no longer my nursling. *Sniffle*

It has been over a week. How long until my breast stops being so swollen? Today I had to massage it in the shower, and when I got out it was dripping milk. I felt like I was a new Mom all over again. Totally unjust.

Inside my head I was thinking that it wasn’t fair to physically punish me for this. I didn’t decide it–it was decided for me. Something I never considered (yes, I am naive).

My rational, less expressed side is relieved. I feel slightly freer. I feel a little more autonomous. I feel almost back to myself again. If only the pain in my boob would subside. Perhaps me and a cabbage leaf will get friendly. Something outta reap the benefits, right?

Dont cry over spoiled milk

The little man has had the stomach flu since Friday AM. Up until this point we were down to one nursing session a day; right before bed. However, since he has been sick he hasn’t wanted to eat or drink anything. Getting him to drink water has been a struggle.

Friday night I was able to get him to nurse. However, Saturday night I offered the breast to him and looked at me like I was trying to poison him. Sunday morning the same thing. He actually pulled my shirt DOWN and wriggled away. Ouchy to the mommy ego. Sunday night I couldn’t even pull the pacifier from his mouth.

During this time, I suggested to my hubby that I try on the other breast. I had been nursing on the same side/once a day for several months.

My hubby then said to me, in all seriousness– Maybe your milk has spoiled.

Hmmm.

Loose ends

I have been thinking about my sporadic posting patterns, and feel bad for not tying up some long overdue loose ends. So this post is a random smattering of unfinished business.

1. When Elliott was 5 weeks or so old, I was still experiencing extreme pain while nursing. I went to a LC and she diagnosed me with Raynaud’s phenomenon. I followed up with my Midwife, who gave me meds to try. I took them for 1 day, and stopped due to other symptoms worse than the nipple pain. Over time, the condition and Elliott’s latch improved until the pain no longer occurred. A fluke, the weather, whatever–It is gone for now, and he is still happily nursing several times a day. Our only issue these days is that each time a tooth breaks the surface (he is working on 8), it takes him a week or so to adjust his latch to the new tooth. The result is my nipples get sore for a while, and then once he figures it out–viola-no more pain.

2. We tried CSA from Seabreeze Farms here in San Diego, and weren’t overwhelmed. The cost was high ($67 every two weeks), but we were willing to pay for locally grown, organic produce. But, the consistency and quality wasn’t good either–some fruit was rotten, items were missing or not substituted, and they left the bag smack-dab in the middle of our sun laden (and not terribly secure) porch. So, I cancelled with this farm. I am going to try a few of the other ones as well. I will keep you posted on that.

3. Hubby and I were toying with the possibility of me not working. We were testing out the budget to see if it would accommodate our lifestyle on one income. And while we could manage with one income–it would come at a cost to our happiness as a family. We wouldn’t have any money left over, even with major lifestyle adjustments–and during our trial 2 month run–that left us feeling more stressed than work does. In addition to that, I think that Elliott likes daycare. He comes home happy, he looks happy while he is there, his schedule is the same at home or in daycare, and he gets to socialize with other children his age. Lastly, I don’t know that I have the patience to be home full time. I enjoy working on many levels, and I receive fulfilment from it. Plus, once the kids were in school I would likely want to go back to work, and re-entering the workforce would be difficult at best, after 5 plus years off.

4. The family challenge is going as expected for me. I have lost 5 pounds so far–which is about 3.5% of my body weight. You do the math.

5. I read the book that was suggested in this posts comments–I found it very moving. I also felt empowered by the honesty and courage that the authors exhibited. I have been trying to be more forthcoming and honest with myself as a result. Thanks for the suggestion!

6. Homemade household products have not yet happened. While I want to do this–I haven’t found the motivation yet! I am slowly (again) moving out products that contain known carcinogens, and (again) considering an organic household. With the abandonment of being a SAHM, we can afford this route again. I am constantly torn between saving money by looking for products that offer the same quality as similar, but more expensive options and organic, environmentally sound products that cost more. The saga continues. I have not purchased any new household cleaners, and we are slowly slimming down out pickins. I have been researching uses for Castile Soap–and bought a large bottle of Castile Soap in the hopes of transitioning some products out and it in. If you have any suggestions or unique uses-please let me know!

7. Of the 5 pregnant women I know–2 have had their babies, and 3 are still pregnant. We had the honor of meeting one of the new babies this past weekend. With the exception of being exhausted ALL the time, newborns are awesome and retrospectively — easy! I was WAY too anxious and over protective, and know that with #2 (whenever that happens), I will be very different and more confident.

Update on the Milk front

Elliott is a rock star. I know, I know, enough gushing and running on and on about my wonderful kid. But, alas I am his Momma and I cant help but ogle over him (and truth be told–most of my readers are here for him).

A couple of weeks ago, I selfishly decided that I was done pumping milk at work. So, after much agony and mental debate–we switched him over to plain organic soy milk. He loves it. After the first week on soy, we also stopped offering him a bottle, which he didn’t seem to miss at all (except when the little girl at daycare is drinking hers–then he tries to steal it from her).

I am still nursing him at least 3 times on days I work, and more on days I stay home with him. I think it is currently the best of both worlds and he doesn’t seem fazed one bit.

I cant imagine a time when I wont be nursing him…but I can now at least forecast it.

Breastmilk vs. soymilk vs. formula

Grrrrr. The amount of information on the Internet is amazing and wonderful, yet staggering and lets face it–occasionally down right confusing.

Elliott is still breastfeeding or drinking expressed milk 5-6 times a day. He hasn’t had a drop of formula yet. I want to stop pumping at work-but I don’t want to stop breastfeeding. So, I have been trying to research the best options to make the transition from breast milk to ‘other’. And to perhaps kick the bottle while we are making the switch.

Elliott was sensitive to dairy products when we first introduced them–yogurt in particular– but his gut seems to be adjusting to the gradual introduction of cheese (and his taste buds love it!). I have never given him anything to drink besides breast milk and water, and like I said he has never had any formula. So, I don’t know how he would tolerate these items. However, since he is only 11 months old–all of the books say not to give your child milk until they are 1 year anyway. This is the first area of confusion. Why is it OK to give your child cows milk products but not cows milk? And why the arbitrary age of 12 months? Does your child’s digestive system miraculously on their 366th day say-bling–you can tolerate cows milk? Or is simply a timeline for when most kids can tolerate it and avoid the potential of allergies later? Or, more poignant–is it suggested to avoid the possibility of parents giving their kids cows milk in place of formula as a cost saving measure?

Well, if I cant give my babe cows milk–that leaves formula or a milk alternative, right? Wanting to research all of my options, I looked on the label of the free can of formula we received in the mail last week and the second ingredient is corn syrup solids. Uhh, no. I cant in good conscious give that to my son because I don’t feel like pumping any more. Caveat: I don’t judge formula feed babies, or a Mom’s decisions to feed formula to their wee ones. I simply can not justify my decision since it is based on selfishness. Aside from that–formula is expensive. The second area of confusion is that the formula can says the age range is for babies 9-24 months. Well, does that mean my baby needs that sort of nutrition until they are 24 months old? Or, is that just a marketing tool to get me to think that feeding my babe formula is the most nutrition option? Or…? Who knows what I haven’t thought of or considered.

That leaves a milk alternative. Our household drinks soy milk. I don’t care for milk, and my husband doesn’t mind soy. So, to save space, money and waste we both drink soy. Can I give my 11 month soy milk? Does it have all of the nutrients and vitamins necessary for his age? Can I replace 5 bottles a week of breast milk with sippy cups of organic unsweetened soy milk? And if so, why is there such a cultural tendency towards cows milk? If I give my baby soy am I forcefully subjecting him to my pseudo-granola lifestyle? Am I giving him a sub-par option? Am I a bad Mom for not offering him REAL (cows) milk?

All of this worry and it doesn’t even touch on the topic of weaning–which I dread the day Elliott decides he isn’t interested in breastfeeding or worse yet–I decide I am not interested in it anymore. If you have experience, advise or suggestions for the best way to navigate this milky pitfall–please comment or email me.

Almost 5 months old!

Sheesh, the time goes so fast! I have been wanting to post a few updates about Elliott, and have been mentally banking them for a later post. He is changing and growing up so fast that I can barely keep up. I am going to bullet point the items just to be sure I get all of them in (while he is still sleep and before I have to work).

  • pre-teething began about 2 weeks ago (drool, sore gums, finger and the whole hand when possible is the mouth, crankiness, etc.)
  • which lead to his first cold (which he is still struggling with)
  • and during both –to chomping and chewing on my nipples while feeding (more on this saga later) due to being stuffed up and having sore gums.
  • he has been tired earlier so we have been giving him his bath at 5:30pm, he eats at 6pm and is asleep before 6:30pm, then I feed him again before I go to bed at 10pm
  • Last week–he slept from 10pm all the way until 4:30am straight through!!! And I think he would have slept longer, but I was so freaked out that he didn’t wake up in the middle of the night to fed that I went in to check on him and woke him up…
  • He seems to be working his way up to sleeping through the night. Typically he sleeps until 2am, eats and then wakes up around 6am. But every few nights he will sleep until 4am (rather than the normal 12am or 2am) without waking.
  • The best part of this is that regardless of what time he wakes up in the AM-he is waking up playing in his crib, laughing, cooing and smiling. What a joy to be greeted by that smiling, happy face. It melts your heart (even at 5:45am!)
  • While the overnight routine is in flux, he seems to also be working out his daytime nap schedule. We have not done too much sleep training. Instead we trusted and have allowed him to decide when to nap and when to go to bed. That is not to say we haven’t helped him along! But, more so we watch for sleepy signs, or excessive crankiness and then follow his lead. That being said, he has had a consistent bedtime since he was about 10 weeks old. And now it seems that the daytime naps are starting to get a little more solidified. Whoo hoo! They aren’t set yet, and vary in length, but they are becoming more consistent. Baby steps.
  • He hasn’t rolled over yet, and doesn’t seem to be showing much interest in it. He is content to lay on his back and occasionally roll to his side. He will play on his tummy for 5 or 10 minutes, but then starts to fuss signaling that his tummy time is over. Maybe we need to leave him there longer and not rescue him…but, i cant watch him struggle for too long before my sympathy kicks in and I need to flip him back over. He will figure it out in his own time. I am not in a rush, as crawling ensue soon enough!
  • He is extremely alert, attentive and interactive. He loves to read books, and play on his play mat. Bee is his favorite toy to swat at and put in his mouth.
  • His hand-eye coordination is excellent. He is very good at batting his toys, sometimes with both hands simultaneously and often times with his feet too.
  • Everything goes in his mouth! What a funny and interesting way to explore your world.
  • He had his first diaper rash over the weekend. It lasted 2 days and then resolved itself.
  • Bath time = Bliss for little Elliott. He LOVES being in the bath. As soon as his tushy touches the water, he melts. We call it spa time because he just sits there, all of muscles relaxed not moving, letting his Dad wash him, and pore warm water over him. Hubby bathes him every night. What a treat to watch the two of them play together and love one another.
  • He is pretty fearless already. He isn’t jumpy nor do loud noises scare him. He seems to like adventure and surprise.
  • He loves being outside. If he is fussy or cranky, we just take him outside. It is like an immediate calming force. While strolling around the neighborhood he just chills in his stroller observing the trees, sky and scenery. When he was sick, I took him outside at 4am just to calm him down (the neighbors probably didn’t appreciate it…but it soothed him immediately).
  • If I prop him up on the floor, he can sit up for a short time before toppling over onto his side. His muscles are getting stronger and soon enough he wont need to be held all of the time, or for matter want to be held all of the time. *weep* My little boy is growing up so fast!
  • I am looking forward to this day because he is so big and heavy, but I also want time to slow down!
  • We haven’t left him with a sitter yet, but I finally feel comfortable enough to consider hiring one for a weekend night. Woot! This will be the first time hubby and I have gone out together with out him. Drunken Saturday night here we come!

Ohh, sweet little boy, do I love you! I occasionally struggle with feeling overwhelmed, over tired or just over taken from…but most times, just a cute little laugh or smile from you is all I need to get me out of my funk and back to reality. Both Hubby and I work hard to be present every day, making sure we are making you are our first priority (he is far better at it than me)! Being present is harder than it sounds (for me anyway). I can always tell when I am not living in the moment, because caring for you ‘seems’ harder. But, when I do a reality check I realize that I am worrying about this or that and not paying attention to the here and now. This is a big challenge and learning opportunity for me. I am still working on it, I am growing to be less selfish and more patient and am WAY better than I was before you were born. Thank you for being patient and allowing me to grow and learn along with you. I love you son.

The wrong reasons

I went to visit a girlfriend and her new baby boy today at the Naval Hospital. When I arrived, she was heading into a breastfeeding class, and asked that I stay and join her. I thought, what the heck…I might learn something!

There were 4 new mommies in the room. They were all memorable in their own unique ways, but there was one who stuck out for the wrong reasons. She was an attractive, young woman and from the look of her and her boyfriend/hubby/baby daddy she was about 20. The class was clearly optional and run by the lactation consultant on staff.

This gals baby started to cry during the class. The young Mom tried to soothe the baby in his bassinet, but was unsuccessful. The lactation consultant allowed the babe to cry for a while, she clearly didn’t want to rush the mom or make her more nervous, before she stepped over to the gal and asked her if she would like to feed her baby, since it was rooting and giving all of the signals that he was hungry. The girl quietly said she would rather go back to her room. The LC (strongly) encouraged her to feed him, but if she was more comfortable, to go to the back of the room.

This poor little crying newborn baby was being put on hold due to this young woman’s shyness, or modesty. Here we are in a breastfeeding class, in the maternity ward, surrounded by new Moms and their babies, and this gal didn’t feel comfortable feeding her baby in front of anyone… In the rear of the class, after several minutes (which for the new Mom, likely felt like 10 years…), the gal was able to get her baby latched on while under the careful drape of her blanket and rejoin the class.

I couldn’t help but feel bad for this gal, and moreover for her newborn son. I wondered why this woman was so uncomfortable with her body? Was it youthfulness? Was it insecurity? Was it embarrassment about exposing her breast for her baby to suckle? Was it at her partners insistence that she be modest? Who knows. All I know is that it ‘seemed’ like her baby was going to be fed only after his mom’s modesty issues were addressed…a fact which seems pretty sad to me.

To me…there is nothing sweeter than seeing a baby suckle on its mother breast. There is nothing more satisfying to me than the act of nursing my baby. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing that my baby is growing and thriving with each drop of milk my breasts provide. I only wish I could express to this girl the love, the bond, and the satisfaction that comes from nursing your baby. It supersedes all modesty, and is worth every sore nipple, sleepless night, and extra pound gained.

But, alas…I left the class with my girlfriend, walked her back to her room, said my goodbyes to Mom and beautiful baby boy, and went home to give my baby the breast.

You are Qualified!

Congratulations, you are now a qualified breast milk donor with the San Gabriel Valley Milk Bank! By becoming a breast milk donor, you have taken a step that can directly impact the lives of critically ill and premature infants.

PS-you can download the new Breastfeeding Icon here.