Monday, July 27, 2015

Feeding a Baby is Stressful

Feeding my son is one of the most stressful things I have ever done.

Please put down your pitchforks and hear me out. I know what you're thinking; another post about formula vs. breast feeding. Well this isn't that, or at least it's not supposed to be. This is about my experience (which is still ongoing and ever changing) with breastfeeding and how it has changed everything.

Ever since Max and I found out I was pregnant I knew I wanted to give breastfeeding a shot. It is an experience I knew I wanted to have even if just for a moment. I didn't want to look back and wonder what it would have been like or if I somehow missed out on something. I figured I would give it a full faith effort and whatever happened happened. If I had to switch to formula who cares. Formula fed babies are fine babies. You never see a 3 year old and say "wow that kid was totally formula fed." And if you do you have some other deeper problems.

I of course have the myriad of friends who formula fed from day 1 to ones that breastfed until their child was 2. And whenever we get together you have to do the fake smile and nod and direct the conversation in another direction because things are bound to boil over.

This is stressful.

I had just told everyone I was pregnant and instead of being full of joy people were asking me if I was going to breastfeed. I could see them getting ready to defend whatever choice they made just in case mine didn't line up with theirs. As if me making a different decision some how meant theirs was wrong. Instead of just having an honest conversation I quickly came up with a generic all inclusive response "I want to breastfeed; but I understand it might not work so I'm trying to prepare for that."

Tip-toeing around family and friends is stressful.

Our hospital has what they call the "golden hour". So once Jack was born we spent an hour skin to skin while he rooted around and eventually fed. He latched on perfectly, he sucked great, the nurses were impressed...I just gave birth to a miracle child who eats perfectly. Lucky me, right? This is my first baby, I have NO IDEA what I am doing. I asked the nurses so many questions but mostly; "How do I know if he's getting anything." Jack seemed constantly hungry, even for a newborn, and he hadn't had a wet diaper yet. I knew something wasn't right. The nurse informed me that I should hear a swallow sound about 2-3 times a session. Well I hadn't heard one yet; or at least I hadn't noticed. Ever since she told me I became the quiet police; shushing everyone while I fed him so I could listen. I even put a finger on his throat to see if I could feel him swallow. Nothing.

This was stressful.

Jack finally had a wet diaper and we could go home. In the first two days at home Jack had one more wet diaper and he was crying every 30min to an hour for food. I would feed him anywhere from 20-45 minutes; desperately trying to hear him swallow. But my crying wasn't helping my hearing. I knew something wasn't right. That second night home Jack woke up in the middle of the night; his lips were chapped, his cry was hoarse, and his tongue was like sand paper on my skin. He was clearly dehydrated. After a terrifying Google search I knew we needed to get something into his system. We had a received a sample can of formula so we made up a bottle. Max had to give it to him because I was crying too much to see what I was doing.

A dehydrated baby is stressful.

I continued to feed Jack and supplement with a bottle of formula after each feeding. Our pediatrician encouraged me to pump after every feeding to help bring in my milk. This totally worked. After a few weeks my milk had come in and Jack was eating less and less out of the bottle. And I could supplement with pumped milk instead of formula. I'm not sure why this mattered to me. I had spent 9 months thinking I would do what I could and formula feed if I couldn't. But the thought of it broke my heart. I felt like a failure. During my pregnancy by boobs had grown, gotten sore, and even leaked a little. What was the point in all of that if not to produce milk for my child. My nerdy, accountany, detail oriented, logical mind knew formula was fine, knew it didn't matter as long as he was healthy. But somewhere deep inside me I felt crushed.

Feeling crushed is stressful.

There were many times I wanted to give up. I told Max over and over that I should just stop, clearly it wasn't working. He held me close and told me to keep trying. That word trying, everyone uses it. "Keep trying", "try as long as you can", "Try to breastfeed first", "You should at least try." But try isn't the right word. Try implies that improvement is possible if I try harder. I can try every conceivable way to increase my supply but it still might not work. I failed, did I not try hard enough? Is my "tryiness" not good enough? Am I not good enough? I should be telling myself that it's just my boobs, producing milk is science, factual, biology, no amount of "tryiness" is going to change biology. Either my boobs will produce or they won't. Don't get me wrong there are things you should and should not do for your supply but ultimately your body will only do what it can. I know this, I still feel less than adequate.

Thinking something is wrong with you is stressful.
Feeling like a failure is stressful.

After 8 weeks I had to go back to work. Our bank account demands to be fed as much as Jack does. This means I pump at work. Jack eats 12oz (currently) while at daycare. I don't pump 12oz at work. I'm falling behind. My stash in the freezer is getting smaller rather than larger. I sit in the mothering room at work, pumping, and wonder how I can produce more. See "tryiness" above. I know it might not work; but I still wonder...what if this works. The internet will give you a 1,000 ways: eat oatmeal, take fenugreek, buy lactation cookies, pump more, dance around counter clockwise until the crow cries and it starts to rain. I'll be damned if I didn't consider all the options. But in the end I don't want to risk it. Milk is liquid gold and pumping sucks. So while these options may work for some it may harm others. I'm a nerd so for me it's about supply and demand. The pump demands, my boobs must supply right? I was desperate. I AM desperate. This is still a constant battle for me.

Pumping is stressful.

My daily routine consists of searching on pinterest for ways to increase my supply, finding nothing concrete, getting discouraged, wanting to give up, deciding formula is FINE because it is, leaving to pump, getting stressed about how much I pumped.

But once I'm home and looking down at my son's face as he nurses, especially those times he unlatches to smile at me, it makes that stress worth it. No matter how this crazy feeding game plays out at least I know I did my best and he's happy. He will get fed one way or another. I am his mother; and what's being a mother without some stress anyway?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Monthly Must Haves : Birth - 2 Months old

Jack is officially 3 months old! The first 3 months have just flown by, not like the first three months of pregnancy which took forever, so here is my list of things that we just couldn't have possibly survived this long with out. Keep in mind this doesn't include necessities like a car seat, crib, diapers, etc.


1. Bobby - Let me just start off by saying this is the best thing in the world! I won't lie though I didn't use it until a few weeks in. At the hospital I kinda forgot I had it and then once we got home it didn't fit quite right in the rocking chair we have so I didn't use it. But once everyone left and I could nurse Jack in the living room on the sofa this became my bff. It holds him up for me so I don't have to hold all his weight. And if I fall asleep during those late night feedings he is nestled in close and won't fall off. Not that I have ever fallen asleep ;).

2. Breast Pump - I started using this earlier than most. The hospital recommends not using it until week 2 but since Jack was so dehydrated and I needed milk fast the pediatrician recommend I start using it at week 1. I would nurse Jack then pump, while I only got a tiny bit out it really helped boost my supply and in only a few days we had Jack back on track. I highly recommend getting one and using it whenever you feel ready.

3. Milk Freezer Storage Bags - The pump only comes with four bottles so as soon as you get some milk to freeze go for it. These Lansinoh bags are the best because they freeze flat which takes up less space in your freezer.

4. Swaddlers - We used two different types of swaddlers depending on Jack's mood. I love these muslin swaddlers because they are lightweight for the hot desert nights. But sometimes he liked to be swaddled super tight so we bought some Swaddleme swaddlers. They are super easy to use if you aren't confident in your swaddle skills and they are tight so he wont startle himself awake.

1 Month Old

1. Moby Wrap - I was so confident that I was going to only wear Jack that I didn't even want to buy a stroller. But we did anyway and I'm so glad. Jack didn't take to this until about 7 weeks. But when he did I was so grateful! I could just wrap him up and go. I could do dishes, clean house, relax, all without him crying from being separated. My only complaint is this wrap is bulky. The fabric is really thick and makes us both pretty sweaty by the end. But a quite baby is worth it :).

2. Bouncer - I love having a bouncy chair. It gives us a place to put him down so we aren't constantly holding him. Our's was a hammy down so I'll just tell you some of my favorite features. I love that its in the reclined position not too straight up and down. We had another one that sat up more and when he was little he would slump over and cry. I also love the obvious, bouncing. He loves to bounce, not vibrate or sway but bounce. So we are thinking about upgrading to this one with an auto bouncer; which would be awesome!

3. Burp rags - I know this seems obvious but they are more necessary than you think! Jack really didn't start spitting up until he was around a month old and then he didn't hold back. My favorites are these because they are larger and thicker so they absorb more.They aren't the most stylish but when they are covered in spit up no one cares :).

4. Binkie - Max and I swore up and down that we wouldn't be binkie parents. But Jack loves to suckle. When he's done nursing he quits swallowing and just suckles. At the beginning I would let him do this until he feel asleep which took forever! If I tried to take him off earlier he would cry. So in the interest of saving time and getting some life back I thought since he's not eating maybe we try a binkie to suck on and that would serve the same purpose. BINGO. Now we are binkie parents. It took us a few tries to find the kind that he liked the most so if your little one doesn't take to it right away, maybe try a different shape or brand.

5. Jungle Gym - My favorite feature about this is that there is a setting that only makes sound based off motion like if Jack hits a toy or does something. This means it's not constantly playing the same song over and over and over. It's also the perfect place for him to get some floor time so he can learn new things. He loves looking at the lights and hitting the toys.

2 Months Old


1. Swing -When we first got this from a friend I immediately regretted it. It is ENORMOUS and our house is so little. I had no idea where we were going to put it. I thought with all the other baby stuff we had surely this was over kill. But my mom assured me that it was her #1 baby item and that we would get endless use of it. So after a few days we plopped Jack in it to watch the magic my mother spoke of...he hated it. Great. But after many tries it eventually became his favorite nap spot and now I can't imagine not having it. Watching the mobile go around and the night time music really helps him fall asleep for naps. Of course my mother was right.

2. Books - Around 2.5 months Jack really started to take less and less naps so I needed to fill his day with something and of course I wanted it to be something that would help him develop so I grabbed some Dr. Seuss books we had and started to read them to him. At first he didn't seem to care about the book but liked to hear my voice which couldn't make a mommy happier.

3. Bumbo - We started using this for short bursts around 11 weeks. Jack could sit up in it pretty well and we have a toy that attaches to the tray that he can bat at. While he only lasts a few minutes in it and of course we only use it on the floor and supervised it has really helped him enjoy sitting and being more independent. Plus he looks so cute! :)

4. New Swaddlers - Around 2 months Jack started fighting being swaddled. I would wrap him up and lay him down and he would fuss. Until one night I swaddled him up a little looser than normal and he fussed until his arms popped out and he put them over his head and fell asleep. He officially no longer likes his arms being stuck down. So we bought these new kinds of swaddlers that can be wrapped around his arms or under his arms. And the best part is that they unzip at the bottom for super easy diaper changes at night!

I'm really excited for this next stage in his life; this is when things will get interesting (well at least according to the billion pinterest posts I've read). He'll start giggling, rolling over, sitting better, cooing more, I just can't wait :).

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Babies and the Outdoors

Over the long 4th of July weekend Max and I decided to take Jack out on his first hiking adventure! This would also be my first hiking adventure postpartum. While I was excited to see Jack in the outdoors and get out of the ridiculous desert heat, I was a little nervous as I haven't done anything physically demanding for a while :). 

Now since my husband runs his own outdoors blog, Lesser Places, we all knew the overlapping day would be coming soon and now it is upon us. If you want to check out the places he's gone with and without Jack go check it out. Plus I'm in some of his pictures, YAY! :).

Back to the hike...

To get out of the heat we had to go up North so we headed NE towards the Mt. Baldy Wilderness. It was about a 3 hour drive and we left pretty early since we decided to try fishing the little stream along the trail.

Max packed up the hiking gear, the camera gear, and the fishing gear. He also volunteered to carry Jack in the moby wrap, which we all know I just can't get enough of, while I carried all of my stuff and Jack's stuff. It's true Max got the heavier end of the stick but he's bigger so HA!

The trip started off good. Jack slept the whole way up there and through most of the hike, but once we stopped to fish it threw of his groove, and like emperors you never throw off a babies groove. And since we didn't have any luck with the fish anyway we packed up and decided just to hike the trail instead of fish it.

It was a beautiful day and Jack was doing so well as long a we were moving. All in all it was a lot of fun and we got the hang of how to take a baby hiking. Even if it does mean that Max has to hold his head with one hand the whole time because he refuses to put it in the wrap ;).

Looking forward to our next trip!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Jack's 3 Month Update

Weight: ~12lbs.

Length: ~24"

Loves: Sitting up, staring at the tv (hopefully he's not absorbing whats on it lol), mobiles, tummy time, getting tickled, smiling, swim lessons, being held facing out so he can see the world, being wrapped in the Moby Wrap, being talked to.

Hates: Not being able to see us at all times, his car seat, tummy time after a while.

Milestones: Lots of drool, only to get worse once he starts teething. Hurray? He is on the verge of giggling and has officially rolled over from tummy to back a few times and is working on making that a regular thing. He can roll onto his side from his back but hasn't been able to make it fully over onto his tummy yet.

Sleep: He has one long sleep for 6-7hrs. and we have made the move from 7 to 10! He regularly sleeps from 10 to 3:30-4:00 which is fantastic!

Food: Breastfeeding every 3 hrs. and eating 4 oz of pumped milk at daycare.

Teething: Nothing yet.