Friday, October 6, 2017

Breastfeeding Struggles

I'm feeling a little discouraged.  At Carter's pediatrician appointment yesterday I learned that he has not gained enough weight and is falling on the growth curve.  This was pretty upsetting considering he was right on track, albeit on the lower end of the growth curve, at his last appointment two weeks ago.

During the first few weeks as we were learning this thing called breastfeeding I met with a lactation consultant because my breasts were hard as rocks and filled with plugged ducts.  Breastfeeding was incredibly painful and we were having latch issues due to the engorgement.  I learned during this consultation that we didn't really have a latch issue, but instead were dealing with an issue of overproduction of milk.  Due to the pain I had to pump on many occasions, which confirmed that I was producing more than adequate amounts of milk.  But these issues kept recurring and soon I developed mastitis and have dealt with plugged ducts on more than one occasion.  Currently I have one in my armpit.  Not fun.

It is hard to know exactly how much milk he is getting as I am exclusively breastfeeding and now only pump on occasion.  However, when I do pump the amount I'm getting is much less than I was and less than the amount he should be eating at a feed.  I definitely think that some of the issue is that your body produces less milk when you are in pain and I spent a lot of feeds almost at the point of tears due to discomfort.  And pumping, while the best option at times for me, is not pain free either.

The other possible issue we are dealing with is reflux.  Recently Carter has been spitting up more than usual.  Regardless of what the cause is, whether it is one, both, or none of the above, I do feel like I am producing less and the pediatrician wants Carter to get set amount of nutrition three times a day, which means we need to supplement.  I love breastfeeding and feel that providing my son with breast milk is important for his health, but at the end of the day I want to do whatever I need to do to make sure that he is gaining his L-Bs appropriately.  If that means I have to give a bottle of pumped breast milk or formula here and there, I will do whatever is best for his health.  In reality I could be dealing with far worse issues, but part of me feels like my body failed him.  

I am going to try not to be discouraged and want to continue this breastfeeding journey if we can.  This is only a roadblock and hopefully a temporary one.  While I'm trying to bulk little man up I'm also going to experiment and see if I too can boost my milk supply.  I mean who doesn't love lactation cookies?  Am I right?  And if you haven't tried them do it!  I had my first lactation cookie before I was even pregnant.  Granted I worked in an OB office and a patient brought extra cookies in for us.  I'm not sure I would have gone and bought one or made one for clinical curiosity prior to being pregnant and having Carter.  

I'm feeling optimistic from reading other mom's struggles with supply issues and hope I can find a routine that works for me.  Only time will time...  

Monday, September 25, 2017

Here's to one month!

Today my baby is one month old.  The adjusting to this thing called motherhood has been a relatively smooth transition due in large part to the amazing support I've had.  There has been some road bumps and hurdles (recurrent plugged ducts, mastitis, and daily episodes of colic to name a few), but the support of my parents and husband has allowed me to keep my sanity and not turn to a bottle of formula.  Which has been tempting, especially when my son howls in pain due to what we presume to be his discomfort of gas.  Seeing your child in discomfort and not being able to console them is the worst feeling...

Today was the first day that I had to take care of Carter by myself.  I definitely took for granted the help I received while my parents were in town.  Caring for an infant is a 24/7 job, especially when you're breastfeeding.  Formula fed babies tend to sleep for longer stretches of time than breastfed babies because breast milk is digested quicker then formula.  This is not a plug for one means of feeding a baby over another or discounting one's decision to care for their child.  I'm purely just stating facts.  My day literally consisted of: try to figure out how to walk the dog with an infant (Rocky has to do his business too) and feed, change, and console infant on repeat.  Plus I had to find time to eat.  Can I just say that I don't make the best food choices when I'm priced for time... something to acknowledge and work on.  There was no time in my day for anything else and that includes doing dishes, laundry, tiding up, or making dinner, which brings me back to the subject of support.  I truly don't think I could have made it through this last month with my sanity, a fed belly, and a somewhat of put together house if I hadn't had the extra support.  My parents took care of everything including walking and feeding my dog, the dishes, grocery shopping, making meals, cleaning, and laundry to name a few.  These may seem like small tasks, but are so incredibly helpful as all I had to do was focus on myself and Carter.  I sure got spoiled having my parents here and boy do I miss them! 

All the help I received got me thinking.  I would say that if you know somebody who has had a new baby volunteer to go to their house and help them out in some way.  And by helping them out, I don't mean going to visit for the sole means of seeing / holding the baby.  That is not helpful.  Instead, offer to vacuum, do a load of laundry or the dishes, run an errand, or bring a meal...  Don't go to see the baby and expect to be catered on.  New parents have enough on their plate and should not be playing hostess with the mostess.  Also don't overstay your welcome.  New parents get no sleep and naps during the day are important.  Unless you are coming to do something helpful, like I previously noted above, don't stay for more than an hour.  It's exhausting and I'm convinced, especially in my case, that it turns my child into a devil since he can't get the rest during the day that he needs and becomes extremely fussy.

But let's end this on a positive note.  No matter how hard this transition has been or the moments I feel like I can't figure it out, I keep going because I love being a mom.  I truly feel that being Carter's mom is the reason I was meant to be here.  I love cuddling and kissing him and the bond I get when feeding him.  I love his smell and the way he looks so serene when he sleeps.  I love his big, blue eyes and his little lips.  And when he looks at me or caresses me during feedings I melt. 

This is love.  I feel so honored that I was chosen to be Carter's mother.  I am beyond blessed and will do everything in my power to teach him to do right, love him, support him, and give him the best life I can. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Thoughts on being a new mom

As I sit here next to my son resting comfortably I wanted to share some of the thoughts I have had over the last week as I've transitioned into a new title: mom.  I can't believe that I delivered this little one a week ago and my world has forever changed for the best.  I've never felt this kind of love and it is all consuming.  I mean look at him, he's my version of perfection.

Our newest addition
I've had a lot of different thoughts and insights over this last week, some that I feel are important to share for other new mom's and mom's to be.

1. Get a breast pump... well get one in the event that you plan to breastfeed.  If you have no intention of giving your baby breast milk then this does not apply to you and you can skip the rest of this thought.  I, however, plan to exclusively breast feed my son for 6 months.  And for those of you who don't know breast pumps are covered under insurance.  I paid nada for a hospital grade breast pump and we all know that I LOVE free stuff!  The breast pump has helped me for a number of reasons.  First off my nipples became ridiculously sore around day 2 or 3 for a number of reasons: latch issues, frequent feedings (my baby gets hangry like his daddy), our anatomies, etc.  The first day I came home from the hospital I cringed at the idea of feeding him due to severe nipple pain.  In fact I was ready to give up on breast feeding and give him a bottle of formula.  Pumping, however, saved me not only on that night, but whenever I feel that my nipples need a break.  Plus, my husband gets a chance to feed our son.  My husband loves this and I love that they get to bond.  Also it is nice to have the husband take a night feeding so I can get a little chunk of sleep.  Which leads us to...

2. Nap when you can... because you will be tired, real tired.  Tired to the point that time distorts and you have no idea what the beep is going on.  I hear it gets better, but I'll let you know.  Last night was a great night, but I don't want to get excited too soon. 

3. Invest in nipple cream, newborn bottles, and a good breastfeeding pillow.  Once again this only applies if you plan to breastfeed.  Seriously put these things on your registry because:
  • Your nipples will get sore and you will be thankful for nipple cream to help prevent cracked nipples.  I use nipple cream after every feed or pumping session and my nipples are in good shape... not that you needed to know that.  
  • Why newborn bottles?  Because if you are like me and need to pump every now and then you will need a way to feed your son.  If you have the bottles on hand just in case, your poor partner won't have to venture out to find bottles in the middle of the night.  That would suck...
  • Breastfeeding is hard and I highly recommend getting as comfortable as you can.  Comfortable mommy = better milk production for your little one and that is my goal.  I want my son to grow up to be strong like bull and in my opinion breast milk helps on many levels, but that is another discussion for another day.  The breastfeeding pillow has allowed me to feed with more comfort and I like to think my son loves it.  After all I would love to be able to lay on soft foam as someone feeds me liquid gold.  Just saying.
He gets milk drunk
3. Adult diapers.  Yes, adult diapers.  The crazy mesh underwear and pads that you are given in the hospital are totally uncomfortable and irritated my laceration.  Plus, I leaked right through them.  Nothing like having a big blood stain on your ass and not knowing it until after you had walked down the postpartum hall a few times to stretch your legs.  Sexy right?  Enter adult diapers.  Someone had told me to purchase adult diapers and I love them because they are more comfortable, less irritating, and capture all the lochia neatly. And no blood leakage on my new nursing pajamas! 

4. Gas drops.  My poor baby gets terrible gas pain that makes him howl for hours.  I tried to sit outside with him during one gas fit and had to go back inside because I was afraid my neighbors would think I was torturing my poor son.  My pediatric Nurse Practitioner reassured me that gas in developmental in newborns and that the gas drops are fine for my son to take.  Do they work?  Sometimes.  And sometimes is better than never so I use them every time little man gets a bottle.

5. Go outside.  I would also recommend double checking with your pediatrician office before doing this.  I got the green light to go on walks with my son in the neighborhood since the weather is nice, but was strongly discouraged from bringing him to crowded, public places (grocery store, Starbucks, etc.) until he is 2 months old.  Getting some fresh air is amazing and the walking helps with my nervous energy.  Plus an added bonus is baby boy tends to fall asleep after a loop around the block.

6. Take advantage of help.  Don't try to do it all even if you want to and think you can do it better than EVERYONE else.  It's hard for one person to take care of an infant 24/7.  I need breaks so I can sleep or pump or even take a shower.  I know that eventually I won't have any help so I'm extremely grateful for it now because this transition is difficult (but very, very worth it!). 

7. Don't forget to eat and drink.  Having a baby is a lot of work, both physically and emotionally.  By the time you're done feeding / pumping, cleaning up, changing baby, and putting baby down you close your eyes for one second and it's time for his next feed.  Sometimes I feel like a dairy cow... Don't neglect yourself.  You need tons of water to help with milk supply and nutrition to keep you going.

8. You may still look pregnant after the baby.  Maybe some of you bounce right back, but I still looked pregnant after giving birth.  Even though I know better, I thought that in some crazy universe I would push out my son and have a flat stomach again.  Nope.  So please if you see a mother holding a small baby DON'T ask her if she is expecting or say, "wow, Irish twins."  It takes 10 months to put the weight on, so clearly it will take time to loose the baby weight.  One day at a time.

9. Don't forget your fur babies.  Having a new baby is a hard transition for your fur babies too.  Make sure to show them love too.  I sometimes get caught up in the new baby, but I try to make an effort to give Rocky some love too whether it is an extra treat here and there or giving him a little one on one cuddle session.  And we always invite him to lie with us when feeding or resting.

Best friends already
10. Take lots of pictures. I was already crazy obsessed with my dog, but now the focus has shifted to babe.  Each day he looks completely different and I want to capture every moment I can because before you know it he won't be my little baby anymore.  Plus I'm obsessed and like to show him off.

My heart <3