April 30, 2014

Breastfeeding: What No One Tells You

I had never breastfed. I knew people who did. I saw people do it. I read about it. What I thought about it can be summed up in this run on sentence; Breastfeeding is a magical, peaceful, loving experience between a mother and a baby that not only nourishes the baby with the best nutrients on earth, but can make the mom skinny, while the two make an everlasting bond for life. Am I right?

So BOOM. I breastfeed. I like to think I'm an educated, intelligent woman, but some things can only be summed up by saying O.M.G. 

Here is what I have come to find out about breastfeeding that no one tells you. (So I'm warning telling you.)

  1. You will experience pain like no other in those nipples the first few weeks. People say that it's rough the first couple weeks and that you will be sore. They are sugar coating this and giving it to you lightly. It's going to hurt like hell. You will feel like piranhas are chewing on your nipples. Your toes will curl. Although, on a positive note, it DOES pass. Trust me, I almost threw in the towel several times the first 2 weeks, but man, am I glad I stuck through it. It really does get better, serious.
  2. While pain is normal, you should really pay attention to that baby's latch. I had no idea that Halle had what's called a shallow latch. I had no experience with breastfeeding so the numbing pain that I felt, I thought was normal. I knew and expected sore nipples so I assumed that's all it was. Well, no. Halle's shallow latch means that she wasn't sucking on my boob...just my nipple. Since she was latched on and getting milk, I just assumed this was all normal and that my nipples needed to toughen up. In reality, she was sucking on my nipples super hard trying to get milk out since she wasn't sucking on the boob (which helps the milk flow down and out). Because of this I ended up with scabbed, bleeding, and cracked nipples. This pain is right up there with child birth for me.
  3. When you do get the scabbed, bleeding, cracked nipples you need to take care of those precious nips! No one told me about this. Sore nipples were warned, but scabbed, bleeding, cracked?? No one told me about this horror. So when this happens, you need to get some of the soft shells made by Medela to keep your nipple from touching ANYTHING. That soft, cotton, t-shirt that you think is the most comfortable thing in the world? It will feel like shards of glass caressing your nipples. You also need to keep them moist to heal with tons of lanolin and nipple cream. Also, if you can, pump for a bit and give that to the baby until you are healed, or at least better. Pumping doesn't hurt as much as a hungry baby's suck.
  4.  Go to a lactation consultant. This is where I went wrong the first time with Noelle. I had made an appointment to see one, but never made it there, and never rescheduled. Although it seems stupid to have someone instruct you and watch you breastfeed, this is their job. You don't need to be shy. Feed that baby and have the lactation consultant watch. They will correct anything that you or baby are doing wrong, show you proper latch, help you create the latch, and show you different positions to breastfeed. They also will tell you whether you need a shield or not, or anything else breast related.
  5. There's two different kinds of milk coming out of those puppies. Milk isn't just milk? Nope. First you produce the fore milk which is lighter and watery. It looks like watered down skim milk. It contains many important nutrients but not that much fat. Then when the boobs start flowing you get the hind milk, which is a thicker, more yellowish milk that is full of fat that the baby needs. If and when you pump you will see the difference.
  6. There's such a thing as TOO MUCH milk. Say what? Of course I know all about not having enough supply of milk and trying to produce more, but rarely do I hear about a mother making TOO MUCH. Well, that mother is me. Before you hate me and want to raid our freezer, let me tell you what no one told me. Having too much milk doesn't just mean that you are pumping all the time. It means that your flow may be too fast and too much for your baby to handle. This is Halle. She chokes on my milk every single time I let down. She chokes then spits it all back up because it's just too much. Not only that but since I produce more milk, I have more fore milk than is needed. Therefore when Halle eats, she gets full sometimes before my hind milk comes in. This sucks because while she's getting milk, and it's good for her, she's not always getting the fatty kind. If a baby gets too much fore milk and not enough hind you will see it in their diapers - the poop will be more green in color and much more runny. So what do you do? Proceed to #7.
  7. There's this thing called block feeding. I discovered this upon realization that I was making too much fore milk. Block feeding is when you only breastfeed from one side for a block of time (say for 6 hours, or for 3 feedings) so that your baby for sure eventually gets enough of both the fore milk and the hind milk. This also ensures that you fully empty one breast before going to the next. Before I knew I was overproducing milk, I would want to even out my boobs by feeding her a little bit on one side then a little bit on the other. This just gave her two servings of fore milk and no hind milk at all. Fail!
  8. What do you do if you are block feeding and your boobs are totally lopsided? Not to mention engorged?! What I do is feed baby on one side while I pump the other. It's definitely not as easy as it sounds but worth it. I've learned how to balance it all and do it a couple times a day. It also helps stock up my supply in the freezer!
  9. Oh yeah. About engorgement. No one told me that the first couple weeks, not only do my nipples hurt, but my boobs are gigantic and burn to the slightest touch. Engorgement sucks! Your boobs are not used to having milk in them, and all of a sudden they are filled with it. It hurts, BAD. No one bothered to tell me that my boobs would be hard as rocks, be super tight, ache, and feel like they were on fire. Well it happens. Again, the good news is that this will pass. You will want to amputate your breasts those first couple weeks but I promise, it gets better. Even better than better? it goes away!
  10. When you wean your baby off the breast milk (this applies to moms who just pump too) be prepared for more engorgement. One way to relieve the pain? No one told me about it, but I discovered it the first time I had to wean with Noelle. Cabbage leaves. Serious. I wore about two sports bras so that my boobs were bound tight and then I put frozen cabbage leaves in the bra. Oh, instant relief. It helps with the swelling and also just feels good. There's something about the leaves that decreases your milk supply too. After I did this I happily told everyone at ECFE class about it and helped another desperate mama in need.
  11. Breastfeeding isn't always smooth sailing after those 2-3 weeks. For majority of women, it is. However there's this condition called D-MER (dsyphroic milk ejection reflex) which can actually make you feel sad or mad about breastfeeding! If you experience this you are not crazy, and definitely not alone. I'm one of these mamas, and it's okay. The best thing you can do is learn about it, acknowledge it, and work through it. There's many ways to naturally treat it (with certain herbs, teas, vitamins, etc.) or you can do what I do, which is just breathe through it, remember why I'm breastfeeding, and know that this too shall pass. 
So that was my extensive list of things no one tells you about breastfeeding. I really hope it helps other people out as it was a hard journey for me. Anything else you discovered about breastfeeding or pumping that no one told you about? Share and help other BF mamas! :)

When Breastfeeding Makes You Sad (D-MER)

Can I be honest for a second?
I don't like breastfeeding.
I mean, I do it, I support it, I encourage others to do it...but I don't enjoy it.

With Noelle I wanted badly to breastfeed. She was born early and with jaundice and was a very, very sleepy newborn. She never latched on, or sucked, causing my milk to not come in fast enough. I exclusively pumped every 2 hours, producing never enough, for a month before throwing in the towel, exhausted, guilty, sad, and discouraged.

Halle latched on from the second she was born. She latched on and in some ways never got off. She is a champion eater, feasting away every 2-3 hours, gaining weight like a professional. It was literally effortless this time around and I have ample supply. So you ask, why wouldn't I enjoy it?

This may sound strange, because it is, but I noticed each time I was breastfeeding, I would feel these feelings of depression, emptiness, home sickness, and a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach that can't be explained in words. I assumed I was getting a little postpartum depression and shrug it off. Then I realized I only felt this way while breastfeeding and I also recognized that I was getting feelings of resentment towards breastfeeding. This was odd to me, because all I wanted and strived for was to breastfeed my baby.

Although I didn't think I would find anything, one night I googled "breastfeeding depression" and found much more than I thought. Not only was my "condition" real, but many, many mothers feel this way too! Whew. I was so, so happy I wasn't the only one. What I found out was that I'm experiencing D-MER (dysphoric milk ejection reflux), which in short is a when a mother gets an abrupt feeling of negative emotions including anxiety, depression, even agitation and anger just before milk releases. It is a physiological response that is caused by the decrease in dopamine chemicals in the brain when milk lets down. Only a small percentage of women experience this while lactating.

While it's a relief to know that I'm not crazy, it's a bummer that this is happening. It hasn't stopped me or motivated me to quit breastfeeding though. I am aiming to breastfeed for a year. When D-MER strikes, I acknowledge it, breathe through it, and try to think about other things. It's a little disappointing that I don't like breastfeeding because other people have always made it look and sound like such a beautiful thing...such a bonding experience for the mother and baby, and such a peaceful, natural act. For me, I just think about my to-do list until the feelings subside. I look at Halle and try to concentrate on how beautiful and healthy she looks, and wait for it to end. I love that I am solely feeding my baby, and I love seeing her fat rolls and know that she's getting the nutrition that she needs, but really, that's it. It's not a moment I love, and I don't cherish it, or look forward to it. And it's okay. I've accepted that it is what it is, and as long as I can push my way through it, then great.

Sometimes you don't get what you expect, but it's alright. Keep calm and latch on!

More resources on D-MER:
Kellymom.com - Great resource on all things breastfeeding
D-MER (No You Are Not Crazy)

Another related article:
Postpartum Dark Days

Hoppy Easter! '14

We spent Easter this year dying Easter eggs at Grandma Ethel's with all the cousins and second cousins on Saturday and started our new tradition as a family on Sunday - hiding Easter eggs for Noelle. She was young last year and didn't seem to understand Easter so we didn't do it last year. This year was fun - hiding pink and purple eggs all over the house - and a basket full of Barbies and candy. 

Noelle's festive getup for Easter egg dying at Grandma Ethel's!

Halle's first Easter!

Halle with big cousin Ellie!

Noelle's first time dying Easter eggs!

Great Grandma Ethel holding Halle. The newest addition to the large family.

Finishing the eggs at home with some Easter princess stickers.

Easter morning.

Hope everyone had a great Easter!

April 23, 2014

How Do You Reward Yourself, Mama?

I was recently asked, "How do you reward yourself?"* It took me a rather lengthy time to come up with an answer. Ever since becoming a mom I've been too busy to take time out for myself, to get a manicure or pedicure for example, like I once did. Not only am I busy, but those types of indulgences no longer intrigue me. If I find some extra money it will usually goes towards a new doll for Noelle, rather than a new scarf or handbag for me. I vaguely remember back B.C (before children) I could easily reward myself - purses, sunglasses, a trip to the spa - I had many ways to indulge myself after a rough week at work, or a hard exam. So I sat there, and thought, and thought, and thought. How DO I reward myself?!

About a year and a half ago I was still trying to get to my goal weight after having Noelle and I just couldn't get there with my normal workouts. I had never been much of a runner. Every time I saw people running I thought it looked miserable. I often told others that if I was running, something was after me. I would never, ever run for the fun of it. So after convincing myself that I had to give it the good old college try, I became addicted.

Rain or shine, day or night, I made it a priority to fit it into my schedule. It was the perfect "me time" and reward. I loved getting the fresh air, and being by myself. The only things I had to concentrate on was my breathing and my thoughts. I often found myself going in the evening after Noelle was in bed (only time I could find), so I often would run during the sunset. I loved the feeling I got from a good run while the air got cooler and the sun was setting. It was so peaceful! I had found my zen. I also loved to out beat myself and strived to run a bit farther, or a bit longer each time.

It really became a true reward to myself when I signed up for my first 5K. I have never been one to fork money over easily. I've always wanted to save money for emergencies or for Noelle. Years ago I would have never thought to hand over money to run of all things. Pay for torture?! Now, signing up for a race is my ultimate indulgence. Paying to participate in a run and to feel that accomplishment is my ultimate high. I love it.

So now, almost a month after I've had my second, Halle, I'm getting ready to lace up my running shoes once more. I absolutely cannot wait. Nothing feels more rewarding to me than getting to go sweat, think, and enjoy the outdoors with me, myself, and I. It's gratifying, cleansing, rejuvenating, and definitely rewarding after a day of being super mom! How do YOU reward yourself?

April 16, 2014

Noelle's First Haircut

So, the day finally arrived  when Miss Noelle would need her first hair cut. The back of her head was getting ridiculous - with a little wispy tail - so we had to get it evened out. Noelle was not happy to do it but did a great job! We went to Kid's Hair in Roseville and it was cute. They had Elmo playing and lots of toys to distract the kids. Joey blew bubbles to distract Noelle, although I think the sucker was what really worked. She sat still and got her hair evened out, a braid in the front, and some glitter sprayed in her hair. It was adorable. The price was a little steep ($16.50 for a tot's haircut?!) but I suppose it's worth it if your child is scared or difficult. It was cute also because they gave us a little folder that says "My First Haircut" on it, with a little pocket with a lock of her hair, and a frame to put her picture in. 

Getting into the chair. Not having it. 

Her hair "before."

Daddy blowing bubbles, hair dresser getting princess dolls...

Starting to feel better. "Hey, bubbles are fun..."

 Sitting like a good girl for her hair cut.


The back "after." Looks so much better!

 Ta da!

A 'Beary' Fun Party at Tamarack Nature Center!

So when Halle was only one week old, we braved the cold outdoors to attend our friend Willow's 3rd birthday party! It was at Tamarack Nature Center, where I've taken the kids to a lot in the past. It was such a fun, cute, birthday party! It was themed "Going on a Bear Hunt" and the place did a great job with the party! Our party host read the kids the book "Going on a Bear Hunt" (which Noelle loves now), and let the kids touch a real (dead) bear's fur. That was borderline creepy for this age, lol. Then the kids got to all make bandanas, go on a (stuffed) bear hunt, then feasted on trail mix, veggies, fruits, and cupcakes. Noelle had a great time, and it was a great first family of four outing for us!

Learning about bears and touching the fur.

Story time!

 My girls and I.

We found the bear!

 Joey and Mark on baby duty.  (Halle - 1 week, Hudson - 10 weeks.)

Just taking a quick cat nap in the corner! So cute.

Noelle and birthday girl Willow putting some puzzles together!

I had no idea Tamarack did birthday parties, but now it's a place I would definitely recommend to others for parties. It was fun, cute, and educational too!

Cupcakes for Daddy's Birthday

Noelle has been SUPER into Fancy Nancy books lately and her favorite is "Fancy Nancy and the Delectable Cupcakes." So for Joey's birthday, Noelle and I decided to make daddy some delectable cupcakes. Noelle really helped me too, instead of just watching. She successfully added in water, spilled the oil all over the counter and her pajamas, threw a whole egg (shell and all) into the mix, and also wasted about 4-6 cupcakes by pouring the batter all over the counter - but hey - we did it and it was super fun. Noelle had a blast and we ended up with some cute mini cupcakes for daddy! 

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