Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why no one will ever mistake me for a Lactivist.

I read this little article on MSNBC the other day.  The term cracked me up, Lactivist. I guess its the new slang for a Lactating Activist.  I have so many thoughts and opinions on breastfeeding I thought I'd share a few.

Before I start, here is the best advice I have ever gotten regarding feeding a baby. It was from a nurse from the pediatrician's office.  We were there for a weight check with Toddler T. It was the summer, he wasn't gaining weight. I was hot, sweating, frustrated and overwhelmed. I may have been crying. The nurse looked at me and said, "Your baby needs to eat. He actually doesn't care how he gets fed and it doesn't matter how he gets fed. He needs to eat. Formula, breast, or breast milk in a bottle. It doesn't matter."

She was so calm and supportive of whatever we chose, she just wanted me to take the emotion out of feeding.

This is my stock answer when people ask about feeding babies. Take the emotion out of it. Easier said than done as I am right at a crossroads with where we are going with Tiny T.

With Toddler T, I used a combination of breast, breast milk in the bottle and formula until he was 6 months old. When he hit six months, I made the jump to formula only.  I was proud of myself and thought that if I had another baby, maybe I'd stick it out a little longer.  I thought that maybe I'd get over my fear of nursing in public. I thought a lot of things.

Then Tiny T arrived and as I've written in the last post, I was completely engorged by the time I left the hospital. I mean engorged so that there was no way this child could latch on appropriately.  I was so desperate for relief, that I even ignored his incorrect latch JUST so he would be able to nurse. For the record, that was a HUGE mistake which resulted in bleeding and cracked nipples. Terrible. Simply terrible to look down and see your child with a bloody mouth and know this little bundle of joy was the culprit of your pain.

I continued to pump once a day so that Mr. T could help out with a night time feeding.  I had a visit with a home care nurse and she helped with latch. Things started to get better and for about 4 days, I thought we were on the up and up.

Then all hell broke lose. I got sick. Toddler T got sick. I was doing feedings with a surgical mask on to spare Tiny T whatever bug we had caught. And then the tell-tale signs of oversupply and forceful letdown reared their ugly heads.

Oversupply means that your body produces too much milk. I know, I know.. cry me a river.. better to have too much than not enough, right. Wrong. Oversupply is awful. The ratio of foremilk to hindmilk is off, and your baby gets too much of the foremilk. The foremilk is lactose heavy and the hindmilk has the higher fat content. So what you end up with is a fussy/gassy baby, who is starving and pooping green.  It is awesome. Next, is the forceful letdown. With this large volume of milk looking for an outlet and only having one way out - things get ugly. Imagine your sweet baby latches on and instead of a blissful slow pace of milk - he looks like he has just latched on to an open fire hydrant. He gulps, he spits, he chokes, he latches, unlatches and cries. A LOT.

Having been through this before, with Toddler T, I knew a few tricks, pump a little first, try and let some of the excess milk spray into a burp cloth and eventually it should self-correct. Well, this go around it didn't self correct. After a call to the lactation consultant, I decided to block nurse. Basically, this means feed the baby off one side only for 2-3 feedings to send a signal to your body to simmer down on the milk production. Right, well the problem is, the side that you aren't feeding on, gets engorged and then we are back to latch problems. Tiny T cries, I cry and I swear to anyone who will listen that I will give it one more week. If in a weeks' time things aren't better, I'm going to straight pumping and bottle feeding.

I wanted to get past my fear of nursing in public. I even bought a cute nursing cover and thought, I can do this. But as the days dragged on...my faith weakened. I mean, how in God's name is a girl supposed to nurse and angry, choking baby with milk spraying everywhere, while trying to remain both discreet and keep an eye on a busy 3 1/2 year old. Simply put, I was not nursing anywhere other than my couch until this situation was rectified.

So, its for all these reasons, that you will never catch me picketing a store with my baby nursing in public.  Breast feeding is hard. It has many benefits but many challenges as well. I think that the only thing we should do is support a mom in whatever choice she makes, for whatever reasons she makes it. Because breastfeeding isn't always the beautiful, bonding experience shown in the videos. It hurts, it can be emotionally and physically draining and there can be a whole host of reasons why it isn't always the best.

Here I am, four weeks into it and I'm not sure where I'm going. I know that Tiny T will be fed and he will grow. I also know this this whole process is 2 steps forward, 1 step back until we settle into our groove. I'm just hoping we settle sooner rather than later.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Having a newborn after getting used to a semi-independent little boy is similar to jumping into a freezing cold pool on a hot summer's day. It is a shock to one's system.


Here we are in week three and we are all still standing. How am I doing it? Well, it is very similar to how I got through the last two years; with a lot of help from our family and friends. I'm somewhat ashamed to admit it, but I have had help almost every.single.day from returning home from the hospital with Tiny T.  I know so many moms who dive on in and are total superhero moms. I'm not one of them... I've learned to ask for and then accept help. It's so much better for everyone and generally people want to help.  My mom also reminded me that there is no need to be a martyr. If someone wants to unload your dishwasher or throw in a load of laundry, smile and say thank you.

This is exactly what I've done. I knew on some level that going from one to two children would be taxing, overwhelming, challenging and tiring. What I didn't count on was the emotional side of it. Splitting my time between a helpless newborn who is relying on me for everything and the an active 3 1/2 year old who has grown accustomed to a busy day with Mommy has been hard. I find myself hoping that Toddler T is doing ok with the transition. I worry that he feels I am passing him by for this baby but then when he skips off to spend the afternoon with grandparents, I'm sad that he seems so grown up.  

There are enough practical challenges to adjusting to a new baby - must we add hormones to the mix?

In all seriousness, we've had a few challenges.  

The hospital had run out of pump attachments, so I started off my breastfeeding journey totally engorged and about 2 hours away from developing mastitis.  Latching was a challenge and Tiny was losing weight and turning a lovely shade of pumpkin. Luckily (or unluckily) for me, I had become engorged when Toddler T was born, so I was able to get back on track in a few days. The things that helped; a marathon pumping session to drain all of the milk (think ONE HOUR and 8 OZ of milk), percocet to help with the pain, moist heat to help the milk let down, massage and a brief check in with the lactation consultant from my pediatrician's office.

Once I got passed all that, Tiny T made great progress with his weight gain and started to lose his pumpkin hue.  I continued to feel better every day but was SHOCKED at how swollen my feet were. When your UGGS are too tight across your ankles- you are in a SORRY state.  Mr. T and I started to eek out a routine for the nights and we were doing ok... Until, Toddler T started sniffling. Then he woke up in the middle of the night complaining of being 'chilly'. Then we got an automated call from his nursery school alerting us that a respiratory strain of the flu was making its rounds. Toddler T began to cough more, sneeze more and was generally miserable. Around this time, I noticed that I was feeling the same as Toddler T. So, out came the Lysol spray, Clorox wipes and masks for me and Toddler T.

The good thing was, my mom had been staying us for the past week- so we had a ton of help.  If it wasn't for her, I'm not sure we would have come out all smiles after a week of being sick.

But here we are, getting through each day. Some days have been better than others. Some have been worse. Today has been a good day. Toddler T is feeling better after starting antibiotics yesterday. Tiny T, gave us 2 nights with a 4 hour stretch in between feedings and I got out for a pedicure!

The two things I keep in mind are that - Tiny T has completed our family and the newborn phase is temporary.  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The door shuts and its Game On

Well, no sooner had the security door shut behind me and I realized this was IT. I would not be discharged later that evening with instructions to drink lots of water and to take it easy. One look at the triage room told the story. The compression socks worn during a c-section were laid out on the bed and a gown was right next to it.  I guess this would be my New Year's Eve outfit of 2012.

I was told to get changed and that the doctor would be in to give me one exam and then we'd be headed to the OR.  What?? WHAT?? My bag was still in the car. Would we be those parents taking pictures with their cell phone cameras?  Did my parents know? What about Mr. T's parents?  We should call them. I must admit, I was having these thoughts in 2-3 minute breaks as that was how fast the contractions were coming. Which lead me to something else I was planning on with a scheduled C-section....


But no, there was no denying it. The pain was centered in my tailbone, problematic as I was laying on my back. Poor Mr. T was trying so hard to keep me calm. As this point, I had teetered right over into crazytown. At one point, he told me I was doing a great job. To which I responded, "Let's be serious here. I'm not. I'm not cut out for this. Where is the anesthesiologist????" The nurse tried to calm me down and made reference to the fact that he was on his way. I may have begged her to just be honest with me and tell me how long it was going to be. Teasing me "he's right next door" or "on his way", just wasn't cutting it.

Next in, was the Dr. who I'd never met before. She was nice enough and efficient. She informed me that I was 5 cm dilated.  Holy Crap, how'd that happen? And offered me one last change to change my mind and try for a V-Back. I told her that there had been enough changes and switches and I'd like to stay on track and go ahead with the C-Section and removal of the remaining tube. 

As my hysteria grew, my bag showed up with the camera. Mr. T put on scrubs and I was wheeled back to the OR.  Saint Anesthesiologist showed up and put an end to my pain in seconds. Then I started to cry- everything was happening so fast. We had been on this roller coaster for almost two years and now in a matter or minutes it was going to end. Luckily, Mr. T showed up at this point and was able to wipe away my mascara stained cheeks. (As emotional as I was, I didn't want raccoon eyes in those first pictures).  Everything progressed as a c-section should and at 7:15 pm on New Years Eve, our second son was held up over the curtain, Simba-Style (from the Lion King) and as I heard him scream and scream and scream, I exhaled fully in the first time for two years.

Man Plan, God Laughs

If I ever were to get a tattoo.. I'm pretty sure I'd get this stamped across my forehead.

Why, because its true. As a total planner, a girl who works out every last detail her head. I always forget it. No matter how well we plan, organize and stare at a calendar.. when God has another idea in mind, your plans go right out the window.

Since my last post there were so many changes with the delivery plan of this baby. My due date was changed from January 5th to January 8th or 10th. Not sure why, but it was. This made a December 31st  C-section outside of the 39 week window that most insurance companies will provide authorization for.  Then I realized that there was a mix up with the scheduling and I was scheduled with a doctor I had never met before. Then I cried and panicked. Then I got over it.

Then I met with Dr. MissesTheMark.. (We have since moved passed our earlier issues and I do find him pretty likable these days.) Anyway, he moved my C-section date to January 8th.

Amazingly, I was OK with this. All I did was change my hair appointment, manicure/pedicure appointment and arrange for someone to watch Toddler T while I took care of my pre-baby, beauty needs.  I scheduled everything for Friday, January 4th. I was ready. I filled my freezer with post-delivery dinners. I went to Target to stock up on last minute things.. I mean who wants to run out of paper towels or toilet paper in those first days home??  I called our parents to work out babysitting arrangements for Toddler T.  I checked things off my to-do list left and right.

And then I woke up on December 31st, New Years Eve Day. I had the strangest pain in my lower abdomen. I started noticing some Braxton Hicks contractions.  I wouldn't learn until days later that BH contractions usually happen in the evening only and if you are feeling them in the morning.. Its probably the real deal.  I called my parents to tell them we would be coming to their house for New Years, that I wasn't feeling great. My mom asked if I was in labor.  I smartly informed her that I was simply 39 weeks pregnant and wasn't feeling great.

I said that I couldn't possibly be in labor, because;

  •  My doctors all felt that I would go past my due date. 
  • I was SCHEDULED for a c-section the following week.
  • I couldn't possibly be in labor.. I really, really wanted to get a pedicure and my highlights. (now, I know that sounds awful... but isn't that the beauty of scheduled c-section? And after looking like I was hit by a bus following the birth of Toddler T, I wanted to take a few extra steps to look more human post delivery.
  • This wasn't my plan.
I called the nurseline. She gave me the standard, contractions 5 minutes apart, 1 minute in duration and lasting for an hour. Still in disbelief, I downloaded a contraction app for my phone to track the contractions. I figured, it would just prove that nothing was happening. Then I started doubling over when my stomach tightened. Then I found I couldn't talk when it was happening. Then I called Mr. T's aunt (The very level headed OB/GYN).  I told her that I was afraid of calling the on-call number, because I didn't want to be sent home for false labor. She advised me that I was probably a good idea to get checked out.

So, I called my parents and gave them a heads up. Asked them to make the drive to come hang out with Toddler T.  Next, we started to get all the last minute things ready for my 'quick evaluation to the L&D department.  I soon realized that waiting for my parents to arrive so that they could watch Toddler T was not going to happen. I had to admit it. I was having full fledged contractions. They hurt and they were coming fast. It was a bit of a balancing act trying to stay out of Toddler T's sight while I was doubled over in pain. I accomplished this by hanging out upstairs in our room, while Mr. T entertained him downstairs.

Finally we were ready to head to the hospital or hostable and Toddler T calls it. One day, when he is older, I'll share with him the challenges I faced as I fought through contractions while he sat in the backseat and we chatted about nursery school.  I was relieved to walk through the Emergency Department doors. Nervous when the nurse said, "Well, please don't have that baby here. Let's get you upstairs." And laughed when Toddler T offered to push me in the wheelchair.

We made it upstairs, just as my parents arrived and after a nano-second to say goodbye to Toddler T, I was pushed through the secure doors of the Labor and Delivery Department. 

At that moment, I'm pretty sure God was laughing as my plan went right out the window.