Sunday, October 20, 2013

Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to Us

In the first hours of being a parent, it almost feels like you won't survive the upcoming weeks. In those first few weeks, it feels like you will never make it to a few months and then all of the sudden you put an infant to bed and wake up with a toddler. It almost seems impossible.

Not long into my journey of motherhood, I read the saying, "The days are long but the years are short." Now that our little one has turned one, that first year flew by. Sleepless nights and all.

We are blessed with what I will call a "good baby." She sleeps 10-13 hours, naps at least once a day for two to three hours and sometimes will take two naps if we are home, or a quick snooze in the car. There is hardly a food I put in front of her that she won't eat. She grew eight teeth with only the first one wreaking havoc on our daily lives. Matter of fact, her last two teeth were out pretty far before I even noticed them. Oops. She was a late crawler, (8.5 mos.) and, much to my delight, is not worried about walking just yet. She happily plays independently in her play area and bounces up and down to her musical toys.

She wakes up easily and with a smile and goes to bed with the same sweet demeanor. I am not sure what I did to have such an awesome kid.

On the eve of her 1st birthday, I spent a little extra time snuggling her, dousing her hair with tears of joy and slight sadness. It was hard to believe that the first year has come and gone and that one year prior, I didn't know her. I didn't even know if she was a he or a she. As I finished giving her her evening bottle and placed her in the crib, something special happened. Our little peanut is a squirmer, she has half squirmed out of my arms by the time I get her over the crib, yet alone even in the crib. As I place her on her back, she quickly rolls over, grabbing for her Wubby and getting into her own sleep position But on this night, She stayed on her back, locked eyes with me and gave me a look of approval, that yes, we did indeed do it. We all survived.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Approaching a Year ...

Next week, our baby turns 1 year old. While there were moments when I never imagined that we would survive a week or a month, yet alone a the first year, I can't believe her birthday is a mere seven days away.

One year ago, I looked like this ... puffy, big, bloated ... and beautiful.

My feet were like Herman Munster ... square with the lines from my flip flops embedded into my skin. That morning, we scheduled my induction for the following week, when I hit 39 weeks. I really didn't want to endure the amnio testing, so I chose to wait it out ... another long, puffy, bloated, heavy, big week. I also scheduled an acupuncture appointment but at this point, nothing could help me.

The last month of counting down to Smushie's bday have been emotional ... wondering if I savored every moment like I should; kicking myself for not blogging more or writing more or journaling more; wondering if I should have left the house more; questioning my love/hate journey with breastfeeding and wondering if we'd ever be able to do it again.

No, there is NO discussion about a No. 2 right now, so don't even ask. :)

The last year has been one of incredible growth for my husband, myself and Smushie. One that tested our wits, our strength and our ability to be unconditional. In the last year I've impressed the crap out of myself. There were days when I completely lost it, and there were days when I totally held it together much to my surprise.

As I write this, our little one is snacking in her high chair, letting the dog lick her hands, laughing at the TV and babbling an entire conversation with me. To think that a year ago we didn't know if she was a she or a he, how she would make it into this work and how we would be as parents. And today, it feels like she's been with us for our entire lives.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Catching up: Breast or Bottle? How about both?

This post was in my drafts ... dated May, 2013. Oops ... I slacked on blogging, but that will change ... This post is an account of my story ... and to help support those who find challenge in breast feeding. No judgement here and no judgement in the comments, please. 

Shortly after having my daughter, I was often asked "Breast or bottle?" To which I reply both and that causes looks of confusion on the questioners face. She is fed breast milk from a bottle. That is both, right?

I have yet to share my experience with breastfeeding on this blog, but if you catch me in line or out somewhere, boy I can talk your ears off. I mean that.

Prior to giving birth, I decided I would breast feed. It was great-- I saw my sister do it with both of her children for over 12 months. The baby cries, she lifts her shirt, sometimes even tosses an aden + anais blanket over her should and away the kiddos drank. Me? Not so much.

Here, I will spare many of the details, but if you want to know any specifics I am happpppppy to email with you about them. If you can't find my email on her, ask me in the comments.

My trouble with nursing was with latching and my diabetes. I am not the only diabetic to ever try this, but for me the post-birth recovery did a number on my blood sugar and I was always running low. Nursing my daughter made my think it was running an Ironman race, so that made my sugars even lower. Newborns eat often and if my sugar was 60 when Smushie cried to eat, I was screwed because I needed to eat something.

After one to two weeks of round-the-clock nursing (with a nipple shield for the latching challenges), I started to pump and let me tell you something-- it sent the lactation world off! Apparently that is not the "right" thing to do. It messes with your supply.

I reached out to many about this and was told that the baby is the best pump possible and it helps regulate your supply. In my mind, if "breast is best" and she is getting milk from the breast, what is the problem??

So I continued on and around week six, I became an exclusive pumper. To be honest, I thought that I was the only one in the world who did this. I couldn't nurse in public and my kid doesn't wait until we get home for a snack. So pumping allowed me to get out of the house and pack a little bottle and anyone can feed her.

Before I go on, I do not feel that feeding her from a bottle affected our bond, I think that it helped me when I returned to work when she was 8 weeks old. She was willing and able to take bottles from anyone and didn't only want to be fed by me. And I was OK with that. Some moms love that intimacy and bond, but I can assure you no bond was broken by the bottle.

Pumping was also my way of getting a break, which I needed. I was feeling like a milk machine and honestly felt a little trapped. Here is another place I struggle: I personally know many wonderful, amazing women who are aching to become mothers and their biggest dream right now is to experience my worst problem as a mother. It pains me to say that I felt trapped because they would give anything to feel trapped with a baby of their own. But in the beginning of motherhood, I needed a break. And every few hours I got one--I shut my bedroom door, sat on the floor, shut my eyes and relaxed for about 15 minutes. It was great.

Then came the annoying parts like washing pump parts, not spilling the milk, taking it downstairs to the fridge or freezer, the leaking bags, spilling it (worth mentioning twice). Once Smushie start to sleep 6+ hours and I still had to get up and pump, that was a real bummer. It was a few weeks after she started to sleep longer when the hubs and I started talking about weaning.

If you want an emotion journey, there ya go! Choosing to NOT do something some women CAN'T do and are hoping to do. Again, guilt.

Pumping can be an option if you want to give your child breast milk. I know there is a percentage of women who can't produce ANY milk (or barely any!) and I know that there are women who can produce a few ounces a day but not meet their child's daily needs. If that is you and breast milk is important, you can pump. You can do it.

When Smush was just over six weeks old, we were having spit-up problems and her doctor recommended a lactation consultant at UMC. I made the appt., it was one of my first trips alone with the Smush and this LC was AMAZING. (I am happy to share her information with you, just leave a comment.) She had my daughter nursing without the nip shield for the first time. But I had to be honest with her and let her know that I was not sure I would give up the pumping, especially since it was 10 days before I returned to work. While she was amazing, when she followed up with me a few days later and I told her that I was still pumping, she totally dropped me like a fly. I never heard from her again, as if she would not help me because I was not nursing. Again, get is getting the milk. She told me that my supply would drop and that made my heart drop. I wasn't ready to stop giving my daughter breast milk at four months, but at this point I also did not know how long I would in fact continue on.

Well, let me tell you: AFTER I returned to work, my supply INCREASED. I started pumping twice what the Smush drank in a day. My freezer was full of only breast milk. We literally could not fit anything else into the freezer. I even had a friend fill her 2nd freezer with frozen milk bricks.

While I may not be the "norm" in this situation, that is what worked for us. I pumped, she got the breast milk, anyone fed her, we saved money ... My last pump was March 5, 2013. Her last drop of breast milk was May 23, 2013. For 7 months and 1 week, Smushie was breast fed from a bottle.

And I wouldn't change a thing about my decision.