"But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure." Psalm 71:14-15

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It's not about how hard you try

There are many things that I wanted to give my child before I actually became a parent. I wanted a drug-free, natural labor. I ended up with a C-section. I wanted to use cloth diapers, and that's actually going very well. But more than anything, I wanted to breastfeed my baby. In my mind, breastfeeding had to be the best part of being a mom. All the women in my family breastfed their babies. My mom always talked about how much she loved breastfeeding me, and how much she cried when I weened myself at 6 months. As much as I ached to have a baby, I looked forward to breastfeeding more than any other part of the experience.

I admit, I was a bit of a breastfeeding snob. I found myself judging women I saw in public bottle-feeding their babies. Wondering why they would settle for second best for their babies. When people had problems breastfeeding and chose to switch to formula, I just thought they didn't try hard enough to make it work. I assumed that there were things you could take for milk supply problems, techniques to try for lazy eaters, etc. If you were willing to try hard enough, anyone could make it work. Boy was I wrong.

From the moment Levi was born, I loved breastfeeding. It was everything that I thought it would be. We had a great first feeding, even after all the commotion of Matt's seizure. After that he was much lazier. He was in that newborn comatose sleep for a few days. There was 12 hours or so when he didn't have a wet diaper in the hospital (day 2 or 3, I can't remember), and that's when we first started supplementing. I cried so much. I hated giving him formula; it made him puke. The day I was discharged, my milk started to come in and I don't think we even brought any formula samples home with us. I was done with it, I thought.

At Levi's 1 week check-up he was not back up to birth weight, but the doctor wasn't too worried. He wanted to see us back for a 2 week to make sure he was gaining. In between those visits, the damage and pain from breastfeeding had really set in. It was difficult to let him feed as long as he needed to. I had also read a book that suggested single-side feeding, which I was doing to try to help myself heal. So he was only eating from one side each time, and I am not a large breasted woman so there isn't much storage space. Looking back, it was my fault he wasn't gaining weight. I was starving him, but I didn't know that. He was still losing weight at his 2 week appointment, he lost down to 7 lbs 2 oz from 7 lbs 15 oz at birth. I did nothing but nurse him and cry from the pain for the next 4 days. I saw a lactation consultant who did pre and post-feeding weights on him and said that it was "fine" for him to only get 1.6 oz in a 40 min feeding (we'll get back to that). When we went back on Friday (his weekly appointments were on Mondays), he had only maintained his 7 lbs 2 oz. Levi's pediatrician had me begin supplementing with formula or fortified breast milk. Each feeding I would nurse him as long as I could (25-40 min), then give him a bottle, then pump for 15 minutes. By the time I washed bottles and pump parts it took nearly 2 hours and he was eating every 3! The pediatrician said we not only wanted Levi to gain weight, but we wanted him to learn the difference between full and hungry so that he would be a more vigorous eater. I followed this routine from Friday to Tuesday and Levi gained a whole pound! I was a zombie though.

We decided to back off to supplementing every other feeding for the next week (I pretty much gave up the pumping though), and he continued to gain. I was still in a lot of pain. Everyone had told me that the pain goes away by week 3 or 4 and it hadn't. My husband was telling me to give up because he hated seeing me in so much pain. I've told everyone, I had more pain from breastfeeding than I did from the surgery. I called and made an appointment with another lactation consultant. She gave me some pointers on how to deal with the pain (nipple shields really help when you know how to use them!). She also did a pre and post-feeding weight and said that I had a low milk supply and that I would have to start supplementing with every feeding because Levi wasn't getting enough calories from me. At this point, Levi was 5 weeks old and I had seen the first LC at 2.5 weeks. I was so frustrated because I felt like I could have dealt with this issue a long time ago if she hadn't told me it was "fine." I was put on a strict breast-bottle-pump schedule every 3 hours to stimulate my supply. I was also on an Rx to help with milk production, one that my LC said she had only seen not work on 2 women in 15 years (both had PCOS, which I don't have).

Over the next few days I saw my milk supply plummet. I guess it was the increased supplementing. I panicked. I waited a few days for the Rx to kick in, nothing. I went back after a week with no improvement. She said give it another week, I did. I began to hate the breast pump. I loved nursing Levi, and I didn't mind as much giving him a bottle, but I always had to put him down right away to hurry off and pump. I hated it. I did this ridiculous routine every 3 hours, even trying to wake up in the middle of the night to pump while my baby slept, for nearly 3 weeks. I cried, and mourned and generally felt mad at the world. I was mad because my body was failing to do what it was made to do. I can't make enough milk to feed my son. It doesn't matter what I try, because I've tried it all (herbal tea, oatmeal, fenugreek, power pumping, Rx).

I finally decided that I needed to accept that I was a "formula mom" (something I NEVER wanted to be). I decided that I was done with the pump. I couldn't go anywhere or do anything because I was tied to a breast pump. I could nurse my son and give him a bottle while I was out, but I can't pump just anywhere. I only pump like a normal person, 3 times a day. I nurse Levi and he gets all I have to offer, but the bottle makes sure he gets enough food. Yes, I'm disappointed, mad, jealous of moms who can feed their babies. But I've made peace with the fact that I tried everything, for a long time, and nothing worked to bring my milk up to a full supply. I know I did everything I could to give my baby the best, and maybe next time it will be different. Some people may think I'm nuts for not giving up completely and just bottle feeding. But just because I can't feed him a whole meal doesn't mean I can't feed him anything. Anything he gets from me is good for him. And as long as we both enjoy it, who cares what other people think?

I have learned not to be so judgmental of those "formula moms," because I don't want someone to judge me. They don't know my story or how hard I tried to make it work. Maybe this post will help someone who was like me to be more understanding when their friends give up on breastfeeding. Because sometimes it doesn't matter how hard you try, or how bad you want it, it just doesn't work the way it's supposed to.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Top 10 Things We Can't Live Without

Babies come with a lot of STUFF. And unless you have done it, making a registry for the STUFF you will need is really intimidating for a first time mom. Giant box stores that make a killing off of this STUFF make you feel like you have to have EVERYTHING or you are a bad parent. You should see the enormity of their "suggested registry." Below I've put together my own little Top 10 list of things we love, things we need and things we can't live without around here. Now keep in mind, our son is only (almost) 6 weeks old. I'm sure there are other products we will need/fall in love with as he grows. But for now, here is our Top 10.

10. koala baby hooded towel - I had to give a shout out to Koala Baby. This is by far the best hooded towel set we have. It is so thick and plush, I know we will be able to use it into the toddler years. We also love these wash cloths by BRU, definitely invest in the nice wash cloths with binding around the edges! If they just have serged edges, they will curl after being washed and are so flimsy. The ones we received I ended up using to make our cloth wipes.

9. the boppy - Everyone loves the Boppy for its many uses, propping up, supported sitting, etc. This is definitely a necessity for every parent.

8. the diaper caddy - This is one of my favorite things I received from our registry. I love it! It has a place for everything I need to change Levi's diaper and groom him. It makes everything so convenient, especially since he is in a bassinet in our room right now. I was also able to easily convert it from disposables after the first few weeks, to cloth now. It goes from room to room, wherever you need it. I think if I had a 2 story house I would want one on each floor!

7. the snap-n-go - I LOVE LOVE LOVE this stroller! It is by far the best piece of "gear" we purchased. I had an unplanned C-Section and had lifting restrictions for several weeks. I had to make a few trips to the hospital for tests and things and this stroller saved me from carting his heavy carrier all over our enormous hospital (I only made one trip without it before it went in my trunk). It's great because it's lightweight, easy and you don't have to wake baby to move him from car seat to stroller, the seat snaps right on! We have a jogging stroller for when he's older, but you can't beat the convenience of a snap-n-go when they are small.

6. organic cotton breast pads - These are a necessity for any breastfeeding mama. They are luxurious, soft and the only thing my lactation consultant recommends wearing (as opposed to disposable pads or plastic anything). I have 6 pairs of them so that I'm not constantly doing laundry and I can have fresh ones each day. They are heavenly.

5. the LaLa - Levi, like his daddy once did, loves his LaLa. We couldn't live without it, judge me if you will.

4. sleep sheep - It plays a heartbeat sound to comfort baby and remind them of being in the womb. I swaddle Levi, put his LaLa in his mouth, turn on the sheep and he's out in no time. Since he is sleeping in a bassinet in our room, I get to fall asleep to the sheep too. I think I'll miss it when he's in his crib!

3. bouncy seat - Call me a bad parent if you will, but this is the only way I get to take a shower or eat a meal. Levi is still too small to enjoy the toy bar, plus it seems to overstimulate him, so I use the seat without it now. The kicker, it vibrates. He loves it, sue me.

2. cloth diapers - Even with many things not going well or as planned, this is one thing that makes me really feel good as a parent. The link is to a post describing our extensive cloth diaper stash, and all the other necessities to get started for interested parties. I've loved knowing that I'm not putting chemical laden diapers on my baby's bum on a regular basis. The fact that it's good for the environment is just the cherry on top of the sundae!

1. aden and anais swaddle blankets - Not every baby likes to be swaddled, but Levi loves it. When he gets really worked up it's the only thing that will calm him down instantly. It helps him sleep longer stretches too! These are by far the best blankets for swaddling out there. The muslin material makes them stretchy and not too hot for warm weather months. And unlike other "receiving blankets" they are big enough to grow with baby for months. We have 4 of these, and when we are down to 1 clean one I know it's time to do laundry.

**Honorable Mentions:
  • Born Free glass bottles (BPA and all other nasty plastic free) - Even if you plan to breastfeed, you may want a feeding or two off.
  • bottle drying rack - I didn't know if this was one of those "need" things or not, but I've used it so much more than I thought I would. It's great for drying all those little parts of the breast pump too!
  • Burts Bees Baby Bee buttermilk lotion - It just smells heavenly. Period. And you know it's made from good, natural stuff because it's Burts Bees. Available at your local Target store.
  • video monitor - This was on the recommendation of one of our friends who is a parent. Get a video monitor because you will want to know whether or not to go in at nap time when they are older (if they could sleep longer or are ready to get up).
  • bassinet pads - They keep the sheets clean from accidents... LESS laundry!

So there you have it! These are my recommendations for all those Moms-to-be out there of the things we love and can't live without!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Levi is one month old!

Is it me, or is this the most precious face you've ever seen?!

I just love the dimple!

He started smiling at 3 weeks

The Needham Feet :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Adventure in Cloth Begins...

I celebrated Earth Day this year by embarking on our cloth diaper adventure. I've been stocking up on fluff since before I was pregnant. I've known for several years that I wanted to use cloth when the time came, and as the time got closer I just started stocking up when good bargains came my way.

I took the advice of other cloth diapering mamas given via online forum and invested in the old school diapers for our newborn stash. I've been using prefolds & covers mostly. I have several "convenience" diapers, like mini pocket diapers or small size AIOs (all-in-ones) described previously, but the only leaks we've experienced since Levi arrived have been from the "convenience" diapers. Changing the soaked outfit along with the diaper when you are away from home is not very convenient! From what I can tell, these diapers are leaking because my little man has skinny little chicken legs. He will probably outgrow them in other areas before his legs are fat enough for them not to leak. I must say I'm disappointed. I really wanted to love my Happy Heiny's MINI one size diapers, but because they leaked I don't. I wish that instead of the smaller "convenience" diapers that we got I had invested in more fitteds like the Kissaluvs Size 0 or Sandys Newborn Fitteds (I have 2 and love them), just to have something easier than a prefold to reach for. I can tell that I'm going to love moving up to the regular one size pocket diapers once Levi is big enough. The ease and convenience of the pocket diaper design is awesome in comparison to prefolds and covers.

That being said, I am not loving the prefolds and covers. My little man hates diaper changes. He wiggles and kicks the whole time, which makes maneuvering the prefold and snappi a challenge. Diaper changes take a lot longer than I would like. I knew prefolds and covers would be kind of a pain, but I thought it wouldn't be bad for a little while. I thought we would move into the pocket diapers after a couple of months. But seeing what a skinny boy I have, we may be in prefolds longer than I planned! I just hope we can move to the pocket diapers before I go back to work and he starts daycare. I know they won't use the old school diapers and I don't want to have to buy disposables!

We have a pretty good stock of one size pocket diapers to move up to when the time comes. We have a couple of diapers in several different styles and brands to see what works best for us before buying our big stash. Our pocket diaper stash includes the One Size versions in snap and aplix closure of bumGenius, FuzziBunz, Rumparooz, Happy Heinys, and Kawaii. Like I said before, I can't wait to dive in and try them on little Levi!

Even though there are things I would do differently, different diapers I would buy, I still don't regret our decision to cloth diaper. It's one of the things I feel best about as a mom. Even though it's not very convenient, it's still not as much of a pain as people make it out to be. And once we grow into our pocket diapers, it's going to be so much easier!