Wednesday, August 8, 2012

love is a battlefeild

*congrats to mandy chiappini on winning the snuggybaby giveaway! didn't win? don't worry, they are offering my readers 10% off for august, just use the code HIBABY at checkout. thanks for entering!

in honor of world breastfeeding week, this week i want to touch a little here on hi, baby how breastfeeding both shapes and plays into our life. this will be a little bit a story about how as long as you perservere, when the odds are against you, you can have a beautiful breastfeeding story and a little bit just about our journey with all three girls and our future with our son.

this amazing week long celebration was hard to miss with so many wonderful photos and tweets hitting my various social networking streams. one of my favorite mommy's in the world posted this amazing photo of her nursing in the milk aisle at her local grocery store - is it strange i can't wait for baby boy to get here so we can do a similar documentation? Mandy, who stood by me and uplifted my decisions while breast-feeding stella, as she was in similar nursing seasons with bennett at the time, writes a beautiful post on her adventures.

while i stand firmly on the, let's just feed them camp and find no issues with a mother's right to choose formula for their infant - i celebrate the fact that as women, not only do we get to grow, birth, and raise these children, but that we can be responsible for their nourishment if we so choose.

as i wrap up my degree this fall, i am even headed off to become certified as a doula, i will focus heavily on breastfeeding so that i can fight along side many other women for education, awareness, assistance, and more - something i feel so strongly is my calling in life.

i was lucky enough to meet this amazing woman, robin kaplan, at blogher where i was able to chat with her about resources that i could pass along to friends who i already saw struggling with their upcoming breastfeeding paths. i picked her brain about craniosacral therapy to help assist with breastfeeding my little guy, something i knew i wanted but was hesitant about - then listened to one of her awesome podcasts on the subject. moral of the story is, don't be afraid to hunt down the best resources available to you, i stand firmly on the fact that is why stella and i had a pretty great experience overall.

so, our journeys...

(sorry, three stories equals a long post)

when i was pregnant with zoe, i was terrified to nurse, i was going to do it but if anyone asked me i was always totally honest - i didn't think i would have the patience for it. maybe it was the young mom in me or maybe it was my add talking, but this was how i felt.

when she was born i gave it a good college try at the hospital, i didn't even give up when she stopped breathing twice while nursing, or when i had a large lactation consultant storm into my room, rip my boob out of my gown and start accosting my nipples, not then either. once we brought her home, we started noticing her very yellow tint right away and after a few trips back to the hospital and numerous heal pokes later our new baby officially had severe jaundice. as if it couldn't get any worse, she was also on the path to pretty bad dehydration, i guess i sucked at nursing, so we didn't even hesitate when it was suggested we supplement with formula. she was going to have to be on a light bed at home around the clock and it just all made total sense. this was a little bit my ticket for getting of the hook for breastfeeding...

i don't regret my decision for one second, zoe is a healthy genius with personality for days.

when i got pregnant with rowan, i was over the moon for the opportunity to breastfeed. this happened to be when this little blog was born and i had a lot more information and stories via bloggers at my disposal for comfort and encouragement, i was going to be a success story too!

well, rowan, affectionally nicknamed tank upon her arrival was my biggest baby to date, a whopping ten and a half pounds. she came out of the womb demanding 3+ ounces of milk that my body just didn't want to make for her, but we pushed on. after a month of struggling, or should i say constant latch to be remotely nourished, a friend sent me her medela pump - it was like a gift from heaven, ha. i was able to pump and store to supplement almost every feeding, with my milk still but so that i could have a little break in between. this went on for a bit, but at about seven months it was obvious that even these maneuvers couldn't keep up with my growing girl and eventually we weaned onto soy formula.

i was proud of our journey, we had made it seven months, against all odds and came out the other side with a healthy, growing, loving baby.

then i got pregnant with stella and this was going to be it! i dreamed of a year of breastfeeding, but made a deal with myself it wouldn't be a second less than six months. i had my breast pump, books, bookmarked websites, and more. stella's birth was fierce and quick and she latched on immediately - we struggled to keep her awake, but when she was this girl knew just what to do.

by time we left the hospital she had already lost a lot of weight, they weren't concerned yet by any means but per usual it would be checked when we met with the women's clinic across the street in two days. when that appointment rolled around, same story, her weight had dropped, almost too much, and when i nursed and weighed...she had gained next to nothing...what was going on here?

so, long story short her weight was dangerously low and we were encouraged to supplement with pumped milk. i refused to give her a bottle yet, so they suggested spoon feeding it to her and you know what? this actually worked out really well and this mama's anxious heart could relax a little knowing her baby was getting what she needed. why can't babies just have a "full" light that comes on so we are put at ease? we talked with nurses about possible high pallet issues and they taught me how to latch her on like a pro and that it was ok to rub ice cubes on her arms to wake that sleepy girl up. see, since she had lost so much weight she was very lethargic and it was difficult to wake her and keep her awake. tim and i got a pretty good routine down that helped us in this department that meant pissing her off enough with a diaper change so that she was wide awake.

this went on for about a week, i started to live in the clinic "nurse + weigh" room where i could monitor just how much she was getting. eventually one day, my nurse came in from all the squealing - my girl was back (and more) to her birth weight and registering a few ounces when she nursed. we had made it! the nurse even did a little dance with me right there in the room, she knew what this meant to me and i was ok that people we staring, ha.
tim has always been my rock while nursing, a think a little in part because he loved the idea of "free" food for stella, but either way my rock. he was up for late night runs to the store for my impossible to satisfy appetite, always asking if i needed water, and encouraging me through the beginning when i felt like a failure as a person. (he even found and procured a amazing deal on a new pump for me, since mine is lent out for a while.)

we nursed successfully and almost exclusively, maybe encouraging a bottle here and there after twelve weeks so that daddy could take a shift, till almost a year. however, at about ten months nursing hadn't become enjoyable for either of us - stella would fight, kick, punch, and hang from my mouth with her hand, all things that were not fun for me and showed how bored she was. at this point we eventually weaned down to morning and night feedings only, and she happily accepted from my over the top supply out in our freezer, and we were eventually totally weaned by time she turned one. i would be lying if i said i didn't miss it terribly, even to this day.

i am very proud of each of my stories, because it meant i was doing the best for my baby whether she drank my milk or formula. i can't wait to continue my breastfeeding chapter with this little guy and even feel encouraged to surpass my year long record and maybe shoot for two! i think it is a little funny to look back and see how i built on each experience and got better at my "goals" each time - i again, think it was all about my resources that i had available. i am happy to share the info on the pod casts from robin as well as any other information i have come across, just ask!

so, happy breastfeeding week! what is your story?


melissa rohr said...

You are such a wonderful, and dedicated mama!! I'm all for the "let's just get them fed", but I also think it's important to be informed about breastfeeding and it's benefits so that we can make the best possible decision. If it doesn't work out? We did our best!! Thanks for sharing! Can't wait to hear about your experience with baby boy!

melissa rohr said...

I am IN LOVE with that photo.....ahh, you should frame it! I promised myself that next time I'll take more of those (with me actually in the picture). Such great BF'ing stories, I can't wait to hear how it goes with baby boy!

melissa rohr said...

I am IN LOVE with that photo.....ahh, you should frame it! I promised myself that next time I'll take more of those (with me actually in the picture). Such great BF'ing stories, I can't wait to hear how it goes with baby boy!

melissa rohr said...

I am so jealous of your freezer supply! I'm a bf mama, but I struggle with supply issues and usually only have ~20 ounces stored in the freezer for nights I'm at work. Thanks for sharing your stories! I look forward to reading more.

melissa rohr said...

haha, i was SO WORRIED going into it because of my "not enough" supply the last time that i really focused hard on pumping just to keep my supply up and came out the other side with so much saved i even got to donate some!

melissa rohr said...

haha, i think i do have that one framed :)

melissa rohr said...

i think that is such a huge factor - people give up easily because there are no GOOD resources readily available. i really want to work with the gal i met to showcase some that are right at people's fingertips, a good general "how to"