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Breastfeeding Resources

25 Jul

When I reflect on the advice and guidance I was given as I struggled to successfully breastfeed my first child, I feel a mix of appreciation and frustration. I had some excellent lactation consultants on my side but more frequently, some real uneducated idiots. My daughter’s pediatrician among them as I’ve mentioned in past posts.

Honestly, as I page through the book pictured above, I want to beat someone senseless for some of the contradictory things I was told. More than anything, I want to slap myself a few times because everything I needed was in there. But would I have known what I didn’t know back then though? I don’t think so.

I think the biggest breastfeeding myth is that it’s this natural thing both you and your child will instinctively know how to do.  It’s true that babies will bob around and find the breast, but what happens from there, speaking from my own experience, I can only describe as animal savagery.

It was like a ravenous, colostrum-thirsty vampire/banshee was on my chest. The banshee part is because when the stars didn’t align and my infant daughter couldn’t latch onto my unfortunately ill-shaped nipples, what followed was usually a lot of wailing – both hers and later, as my cracked and bleeding nipples would have it,  me. In my firt week home, i probably cried through most feedings as I nursed through the pain as I was advised to do by the same pediatrician who told me matter of factly that “breastfeeding hurts.”

What I came to realize now that I’ve struggled through the tough early infant days with my own two daughters, is that breastfeeding success entirely depends on you, the mom. And how much you educate yourself.  So it doesn’t seem right that there is so little proper education offered to help mothers learn what we need to learn (imagine stacks of encyclopedias here people) to make it work.

And “make it work” is the right phrase. I was at home and able to nurse on demand with my first child. Now? I’m away from my second child for 3 hour chunks of the day while I work a part-time job. It’s in the afternoon when she usually naps, but still. Should I pump while I’m away? Time feedings to before and after I go and come back? How do I prevent my supply from being affected? What’s out oversupply?

14 Ways to Hack Your Pumping Routine — here

 

Caroline: Week 4

18 Jul

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We’re starting to feel more settled into life with two kids and I am definitely feeling like a whole new person now that I’m more on top of nighttime sleep and have healed even more. Caroline has had a few nights of cluster feedings that wiped Brian and I both out, but otherwise, we’ve been really lucky with her sleep so far. This past weekend, we even ventured out for our first, post-baby event: a family wedding down in CT. My mom and brother Kevin bravely offered to take on the girls for us and thankfully, all went smoothly, save for a little touch of “witching hour” fussiness on Caroline’s part.

 

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My mom has now experienced what Brian and I had only just started to make note of to each other in the 3 to 4 week period home with our sweet Caroline, which is that she’s a girl who needs her rest and has eyes that are definitely bigger than her stomach. After a 5-6 minute gulping session at the breast or bottle, she needs to be propped upright immediately and oh-so-gently burped or all hell will break loose. Otherwise? The girl is the sweetest, most mildly tempered little angel I’ve even snuggled. Truly. She is such a good baby.

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She’s been pretty consistent since birth with the 3, 4, and 5-hour stretches and I’ve tried really hard to time her last feeding before bed to be right around 11 PM. The past week or so, I’ve been particularly drained since I’ve been back at work part-time since last Wednesday so I’ve been trying to get to bed by 9:30 or 10 in order to get a good stretch of sleep in before that 11:30 PM feeding I mentioned. I’d hoped to be sleeping 9:30-3:30 or 4 AM, but so far, we’ve only managed to do one 11:30 bottle and it was very early last week, when I snuck up to the guest room for some desperately needed rest. When I think of how exhausted and spent I felt just a week ago, it feels like a lifetime ago. It’s amazing how much of a difference a good night’s sleep makes.

In the past week, the near-smile spottings have increased exponentially. We really think you’re close to giving us a big smile very soon. We do a little tummy time here and there, more when I think it might help soothe your gassy tummy and you are an expert at lifting your head. Your neck strength has always been excellent from the day you were born. You continue to track us with your eyes and in particular, your  big sister, Emilia. You love her SO much already.

IMG_2865on my first day back to work – waaaa

IMG_2997Mom + Dad’s first time out without the kids

She takes a bottle really well – though she does still gulp it, just like she is at the breast, so I think my supply may still be evening itself out and I think my letdown is on the “overactive” side, so I’ve tried to be better about nursing on demand and not letting myself get too full between feedings. I don’t want her to gag each time she nurses. That’s also how you get yourself set-up for a nursing strike which I really want to avoid! (Emilia had one and it was brutal.) I’ve pumped a bit to take the edge off too which has helped.

Speaking of which, one kind of hilarious, but also kind of not funny at all thing that happened while we were at the wedding was that my mom accidentally melted my Medela pumping parts. The new parts. The most important and expensive parts. Yup. I can laugh now, but when I saw them, I truly thought I would sob for eternity. Pumping is such a bitch and cleaning and sanitizing a million little pieces is enough to drive a sleep deprived mom over the edge, so when I saw three melted valves, I nearly lost my mind. They’re like $11/each to replace. It was tough to handle because I’ve been meaning to buy a few extras to help minimize the frustration of not having enough cleaned and sanitized and at the ready and now I not only need to replace what was melted, but I still need to buy the damn extras! Gah. But, I’m laughing about it now. No big deal. I found new parts that are all one piece which might be more handy and less frustrating to clean. We’ll see!

 

 

 

Caroline: Week 1

29 Jun

What a blur our first week home with Caroline has been. She truly is a little doll; she has the most delicate little features and the sweetest temperament. We’re absolutely in love and to say that Emilia is smitten would be an understatement.

My first instinct is to say we packed a lot into C’s first week but the truth is, since our too-long stay in the hospital, we have been very low key, hanging out at home and just adjusting to life with two kids.

My mom has been extraordinary as far as helping Emilia to adjust and has taken her out on fun excursions to give Brian and I some solo time together to be with Caroline. They went to Friendlies one day and over to her house for a visit another day. Emilia returned saying “I go Nana’s house and had SO MUCH FUN!!” As she stomps and extends her arms wide above her head for emphasis.

My mom has also made sure Brian and I were taken care of, dropping off sandwiches for lunch one day and rushing out to get me a sitz bath (sorry, TMI) after I burst into tears on our third night home. I’ll explain more on that in a moment but it was a combination of not getting a stitch I probably needed and nursing through some pretty severe blister damage thanks to baby girl’s slight tongue tie.

I’ve found it especially true this time around to sleep when the baby sleeps and accept any help that is offered. We had a few visitors but have generally tried not to overbook ourselves with guests and have found it to be far less stressful than our first time with a new baby in the house.

The general vibe around here has been very relaxed. Being a second time parent is a lot easier in many ways; we know a lot of the tricks and which mistakes to avoid this time around and I think the confidence of having already had one child makes a huge difference. But that’s not to say that having a toddler running around isn’t without it’s challenges. It also really helps that nursing is going far better than it did with E at this same point.

Emilia is really handling everything beautifully. Between Brian and I and my mom, we prepared her for months in advance of her sister’s arrival, but it’s the daily things we’re doing to make sure she knows how special she is and loved by us that I think are making the difference. She refers to herself constantly as “a big helper” and “a big sister” and seems so incredibly proud in her new role. And she truly has been an excellent helper. When I’m confined to the couch while nursing, she’ll run around the house looking for my cell phone or hand me my huge Mason jar of water . I think her most used phrases after “I’m a big sister” are “I take care of you” and “I a BIG helper.” I melt every time.

Brian has been doing the majority of the one-on-one with her so I can focus on the feedings and just recovering from those brutal first few days post-delivery, but we try to sneak in small moment together, just the three of us. Usually it’s around meal times or at nap or bedtime. I’ve also been careful to try to coordinate one of the baby’s evening feedings and naps with Emilia’s bath and bedtime so I’ve been able to sneak in to watch a little of bath time or for a book or two or put her to bed myself a few nights. I also try to take a walk with her or do at least one “special project” or “mama time” with just her. It could be as simple as just holding her and looking through photos together of her as a baby on my phone and chatting about what she was like then and how Caroline is the baby now but that she can always have “baby love” anytime she needs it. This idea was introduced to me thanks to the fabulous Oh Crap Potty Training book by Jamie Glowacki and has been hugely helpful as we navigate adjusting to life with two kids.

We do have moments of regression though. It’s largely her wanting us to hold her like a baby or wanting to get into the baby’s rock and play or co-sleeper. Thankfully, I received some great advice from my favorite lactation consultant at the hospital, Mickey, (who incidentally helped me to learn to nurse EMILIA two+ years ago). She advised that we not make anything forbidden as she adjusts to her life as an older sibling. If Emilia wants to nurse, let her. If she wants to lay in the co-sleeper, no big deal. It gets it out of her system and helps diffuse any jealousy she may feel toward her sister using all her old gear.

That said, the girls are absolutely adorable together and I melt every single time I see E holding her little sister. And Caroline is an absolute dream of a baby. She definitely is a bit more temperamental than her sister though. For one, she absolutely hates a wet or dirty diaper which is completely new to us, and is notably calmer than Emilia, but loses her cool when she she is even remotely hungry. Nursing is a bit easier thankfully and my milk came in very quickly so this hasn’t been a huge problem, but I have been on a bit of a short leash as far as my freedom to move about the house, or go out, since having her. She definitely favors mom at this point and I have a sneaking feeling she might just be a mama’s type of girl. Right now, I seem to be the most comforting source for her which definitely wasn’t the case with Emilia. She favored both Brian and I.

I need a few more days to gather my thoughts about her birth and our hospital stay since those are two very long posts in and of themselves, but for now, I’ll just say that even though I managed to eek out another “natural” or unmedicated birth, it was a much longer, drawn out labor this time around despite my efforts to avoid that by seeing a midwife for my pre-natal care and active labor was even quicker than with E.

I’m just glad she’s here and we’re settling in. XOXO