…to the last drop! #bfing Stories

Today’s post is yet another in the Breastfeeding Blog Hop Series hosted by Life with Levi. If you have something to share, please link up on her page!

I fed her off and on for four weeks, even though she is lactose intolerant and we had to use a shield.

I got over his sucking obsession that left me in dire pain for the first week of his life. It’s been 5 months and a week and he’s never had a drop of formula. The look on his face tells me that he loves it, down to the last drop.

I am proud of the successes my children and I have had, even if there have been downsides, like worrying about adequate supply. Yay for being a proud ‘nursing mama.

Crying Over Spilt Milk

A baby’s milk is like liquid gold, right? Whether formula fed or nursed, a baby relies on their milk to get them through the day, to power them through learning how to roll over, creep, and crawl. Formula is not cheap, and nursing mothers often have to make sacrifices (pumping while driving, missing out because people are not comfortable with public feeding—with or without a cover, making special work arrangements, etc.) to feed their babies. I think it’s fair to say baby’s milk is gold (right next to those half gallons of Soy Milk Miss A drinks, too, ::ahem::!)

Since I began to suffer from Vertigo, my supply hasn’t been where I need it to be and the “stockpile in the freezer” is down to four bags. I have been mentally beating myself up over the fact that ‘Lil Man is drinking about 6 or more ounces per feeding and I only bring home about 8 ounces after a day at work. If you know how to do third grade math, you know 2 feedings a day times 6 ounces leaves one mama 4 ounces short per day or 40 ounces short per week. That’s over 1 bottle of ready to feed formula per week! Besides introducing him to rice cereal and oatmeal over the past few weeks, he’s only ever known “Mama’s Milk” as his source of sustenance. There is formula in the house, but I don’t want to have to give it to him unless I have to.

So the other day when I realized G and I had left about 10 ounces of milk in the cooler overnight and I woke up only to have to dump it down the drain, you can see why I ended up crying on the kitchen floor. I opened the freezer and saw those four bags and didn’t know what in the world I was going to do to make sure he had enough food for the week. Everyone tells me it will be ok to supplement, and I know that, but in my heart of hearts I really wanted this time to work. I wanted to be able to say that I didn’t have to turn to a manufacturer to help me out, that I was able to be enough for my child. It’s a mother’s pride thing, but I know I can’t let that get too much in the way of ‘Lil Man’s needs.

Today I will start drinking my own version of “Mother’s Milk”, an herbal tea with fenugreek, a supplement that is supposed to help with supply. If this doesn’t work, it looks like we will have to start supplementing, but I need to remember, my boy is growing fast and he needs all the nutrition we can give him. I just hope it can continue to be from me.

I Wish I Would Have Known…

I chose to write this post as part of Life With Levi’s Breastfeeding Blog Hop. This week’s topic is “I Wish I Would Have Known”. Enjoy!

Before I became a mom, I knew that there were a lot of things about my life that would change. My evenings were spent reading books, magazines, blogs, and websites about pregnancy and motherhood. I would soak it in like a sponge, but I don’t know that I took more than 10% of it to heart. Now that I am a mom, I know that there are a lot of things that no book, magazine, blog, website, or other parent (or in some cases, non-parents ::ahem::) could have prepared me for. These are the things I wish I would have known…

There is no greater love than the love a mother/father has for their child. For me, I knew I was a mother the moment I found out I was pregnant, but I wasn’t a MOM until I heard Arianna take her first breath of life. Five months ago, I got to feel that joy again when Evan was born. From that moment, for each baby, all I wanted to do was hold them and love on them. Every day when I look at my babies, I feel that love wash over me again.

There is a good deal of guilt being a parent. About four and a half weeks into Arianna’s life, I had a mommy meltdown and I needed a break from her. The second I dropped her off with my friend for the night, I immediately wanted to turn around and get her back–why should I want to feel any joy without my baby? But I needed it. I was a single mom, taking care of my baby pretty much alone 24/7, and probably would have gone crazy if I didn’t take a little break, have dinner with my friends, and sleep in. Now, I feel guilty when my family drops me off at work because I am missing some of the “new” moments in their life. I feel guilty when I eat cheesy macaroni or buttered popcorn in front of lactose-intolerant A. Will the mommy guilt ever let up? Probably not, but I think it’s a good kind of guilt…it proves you are a good parent I guess.

There is a lot of pain involved in the first few days, but it goes away. Since I had an “emergency” c-section with Arianna and didn’t get to try VBAC with Evan (I met my scheduled date too soon), I can only talk about the pain of surgery regarding childbirth. That and weeks of contractions makes a body weak, tired, and battered. Anyways, the surgery, the adjustment to nursing, followed by odd body reactions–excretions that don’t need discussed, lead to the need for a lot of healing. I can’t tell you how quickly the pain goes away, but it does. But it is also painful, so I am not going to deny that truth.

How great baby wearing is when A was little. There is a great feeling when I wear Evan in our Moby Wrap–it reminds me of when I was pregnant and cradled him close. This is an amazing feeling, and I think that not enough people know how convenient it is to cuddle a baby close yet have two free hands (because when you wear a baby, you really SHOULD have two free hands, not having to support the baby all the time). I’ve been able to shop without a meltdown and walk without a stroller. I’ve found it also helps with those people who like to come up to babies and touch and coo. They still love to look at the baby and compliment how cool it looks to “wear” a baby–but there’s something about the baby being so close to their parent that keeps the touchie feelies at bay.

You have to be willing to laugh, and laugh a lot. There are a lot of opportunities to laugh as a parent, and you have to be ready to do it. Both of our kids give us so much to laugh about every day–attempts to roll over, grunts, singing silly songs, eating pints of blueberries without abandon–and we are thankful. It makes life worth living.

Be ready to get flack about your parenting choices, but remain strong. You, the parent, knows what is best for you and your children. Be it breastfeeding, diapering, discipline, education, childcare, religion, television, diet…there is going to be someone who has something to say about your choices. It’s important to have atleast one or two other people to turn to who understand your choices; however, you can’t expect everyone to agree with you. Keep your head up, and be proud to make your own decisions. It will make your child unique, and the world needs more of that.

And finally, Babies really do grow up fast!I can’t tell you how quickly the last two and a half years have flown by. Our daughter has gone from smiles and coos to talking in sentences, counting by twos, and trying to write her name. It feels like our son is doing everything his sister did at lightning pace. The whole “Cherish them, they grow up so quickly” sure is one piece of advice that I wish I really would have taken to heart. Sadly, there is nothing you can do about this one–they just keep growing (which is in itself a precious gift)!

Style with Function: Is it Possible?

I laugh when I think about me as someone who worries about style. Back in my single days, I didn’t really care if I went out in pajama pants and a completely mismatched shirt. The folks over at “What Not to Wear” would probably have a hay-day in my closet. But when it comes to nursing clothing, I feel like there is a need to have clothes that are stylish yet functional.

Trust me. I have seen some of the nursing clothes out there. Clearly, these clothes were not designed for the Coco Chanel every little girl has within. They are stuffy or boring. Or stuffy and boring. And if you chose to not go with the stuffy/boring lifestyle, you usually are given something to pick from that has stripes (yeah, cause every single nursing mom with enlarged breasts needs stripes). Or low cut–helllllooooo cleavage! Sorry boys, but these ladies belong to Mr. E!

Maybe my experience with nursing clothing is so boring because I am a plus-sized mama. Maybe they just don’t make clothes that have some flair and function to them.

What is my go-to, then? Well, I can tell you one thing. I absolutely MUST have a good nursing bra for starters.

The quest for a good, supportive non-wire nursing bra has failed me; however, I have made do with a decent style from Target, Gilligan & O’Malley. They also sell great nursing tanks; however, wearing them to the office just doesn’t feel right (for me, I need to wear nursing necessities to work due to pumping–I’ve had many a Lane Bryant “dip” bra get stuck in the pump flanges). So pretty much, I wear the heck out of my choices during the weekdays and immediately change when I get home from work.

And what goes on top? If you want the honest truth, I gave up on my search for a decent “stylish” nursing shirt and just wear something comfortable. One day I was nursing while wearing my Steeler jersey and my grandmother pointed out, “You know, they make shirts with buttons for a reason”. Well, sorry Grandma, but they don’t make cute Steeler button down shirts for a lady of my size and age. Basically, I won’t compromise the little bits of “style” that I do have for nursing function. I make it work.

But I am dying to hear if there IS an option out there for me. I mean, I do have a few months left in nursing. So is there something you recommend? What about with summer coming–tanks will work like a breeze, but what am I going to do about swimming? So many questions, but so worth making that little man of mine full and happy, right?

I chose to write this post as part of Life With Levi’s Breastfeeding Blog Hop. This week’s topic is Nursing Clothing. One other “nursing clothing” must I have is my PumpEase because it makes pumping so easy. You can check out my thoughts about the Pump Ease here on my blog. Enjoy!

Eating for Two: My Year Long Struggle

About a year ago now, we found out we were pregnant with baby number two and about 4 weeks later (or 7 weeks in), my body began its cycle of “I HATE YOU BEING PREGNANT”. I had food aversions to every.single.thing.I.loved. There was no more chicken. No more ice cream. No more fries. Pretty much, I was destined to eat crackers and popsicles like I did with my first baby.

After about 5 months, I had lost 20 pounds, the amount I had lost by my 39 week appointment with Miss A. Like my first pregnancy, my OB was not concerned with my weight loss because the baby was healthy and my measurements kept up with my due date. They said it was ok because I was overweight in the first place, so not to worry. Then, out of nowhere, my appetite came back but the nausea did not go away. I had to rely on Zofran to get through my days without being sick. This let me gain back the 20 pounds and birth a 9 pound 1 ounce healthy baby boy.

Even though I struggled with nursing my daughter, I wanted to try again with Lil Man. Thank goodness I did, because this little one is a comfort nurser (more to come on that in the future!). He was wanting to eat all the time, so what did I want to do? Eat ALL.THE.TIME. It was like my body was making up for what it couldn’t do during the nine months I was pregnant.

I did some research and joined online weight trackers because not only did I want to try to lose baby weight, I wanted to lose post-single life weight, post-college weight, post-high school weight…etc. Well, all of the trackers told me I could eat more calories per day because I was feeding him. But because I somewhere deep inside DO love my body (even if society doesn’t), I wanted to make sure what I was putting in it was good for me and good for him.

This wellness kick was really jump started about 2 months ago when I joined a Wellness Challenge at work. For me, the biggest thing is getting active, but also making healthier decisions. To be honest, I have not lost any weight since joining (I go up and down each week), but I do have a few crutches–I still don’t feel like I am eating enough to eat for him and me both, I am suffering from a bad case of vertigo and exercising hasn’t been friendly, and work has been extremely busy. Excuses aside, I try to eat healthy for Lil Man and I while I do indulge on a few delights every once in awhile.

My go-to treats have been:

Salads–I try to eat two a day if I can–with the Wishbone spray dressings (10 sprays=10 calories and PLENTY of dressing for my salads)
Cottage Cheese–1%, even though I CRAZY crave 4%!
Water–lots and lots and lots of it.
Granola
Yogurt
Mangos
Carrots
Apples

Lil Man and I are benefiting from my choices, and I have to constantly remind myself of that with every single bite that goes into my mouth. It is hard, but not impossible. What are your favorite “good for you” foods? How do you keep a balance?

I chose to write this post as part of Life With Levi’s Breastfeeding Blog Hop. This week’s topic is Healthy Eating. Enjoy!

Balancing Work and Mommy-hood

My boss and I were working hard to find a tiny error that was making us miss hundreds of thousands of dollars. Outlook kept flashing, reminding me I had 3 outstanding reminders. Communicator was blinking, trying to tell me that I had IM’s waiting for me. My eyes were crossing from looking at the numbers all morning, and my heart was racing, hoping I would find the error. A glance at the clock told me it was 10:47. We were supposed to leave 17 minutes ago–phew, I could still do math–and I was holding us up.

Finally, the error was found, and I quickly pulled my things together and rushed down the hall to meet my cousin. My body told me I needed to pump or there was going to be a major problem. J told me she would drive to our networking event so that I could pump along the way. I was about to embark on the oddest moment in our parking lot–attaching the pump. Thank goodness I had my cover!

If you have ever driven on [I hate] 28 or Fifth Avenue, you know what was ahead for me–pothole city. Somehow, I managed to balance just right and didn’t spill a drop. I also kept decent–no pedestrians or fellow passengers “snuck a peak” at Evan’s precious *ahem* “supply”. What a feat.

The things we do as moms (and dads) for our kids, right? This little adventure on my way to an afternoon of networking was not the first time I’ve had to get creative in order to sustain Evan. I’ve pumped in parking lots in PA and Ohio. I’ve pumped while G flew down the highway. This adventure won’t be my last–I am away this week and will be pumping in the airports, at the hotel, and in between conference sessions. I had to pump 30 bags of milk ahead for Evan and will have to send lots back with Greg.

Balancing work and being a mom is not always easy, but it is so rewarding. I know that I am working to provide for my family. That means that sometimes I am going to have to make some creative or tough decisions. Every single one of them is worth it.

Here’s a shot of the pump with a shout-out to my PumpEase which kept me safe and pretty discreet during this adventure. I’d also like to thank my cousin J for driving carefully and letting me pump along the way! What laughs and memories.

Milk Stash

Ever since I got approval to attend a conference at the end of March, I was stressing out over how much milk I would have stored up for Evan while I was away for a little over a week. It was November, and I was still quite pregnant and had no clue if Evan would even be able to nurse. What was I wasting energy on?

Well, Evan is quite the avid nurser, he’s been solely fed my milk since he was born (go Evan, go mama!). So, about 4 weeks in, I started to get worried. I had been able to store up a few spare bottles here and there, but wasn’t overly successful at having a big stash of milk. I was watching other #bfing mama tweets and blog posts about their stashes and got quite jealous. What I wasn’t remembering is that I was dealing with a pump that was on it’s last leg and a kid that was eating every three hours for 30+ minutes at a time.

Luckily, my pump purchase afforded me to gather up quite a stash. Going into our weekend sans kids two weeks ago, I had over 20 bags in the freezer. This let me send up enough milk for E for the weekend. Surprisingly, even after a small spill (oops, accidents happen!), he still has 4 bottles worth at my parents’!

And how ready am I for going away? Well…let me just show you what approximately 30 bags and spare bottles in the fridge look like. I think we are prepared.

Props to my PumpEase!

This post is a follow-up to my recent list of Top 10 Nursin’ Mama Must Haves–a verification that the Pump Ease was well worth my spend. Remember, I have not received any products or compensation from the companies I mention, I am just letting you know what items work for me!

With the end of my maternity leave fast approaching, I realized I needed two essential items to head back to work and continue nursing my son—a new breast pump and a pumping support bra. With a dying pump to at the least get me through, the support bra became my number one concern. I’d been lurking around, reading tweets and posts from other breastfeeding mamas. My search led me to choose a Pump Ease hands-free support (PumpEase or @pumpease); however, I kept putting the purchase off (because I really was not ready to get back to work).

With a week to go, I finally went back to the site (which boasts their supports as “pretty things” that “will hold your breast pump in place as securely and comfortably for your 1000th pumping session as it did for your 1st”). Lucky me, there happened to be a sale on a few supports that either the design was being discontinued or there were minor defects. I picked a design that looked cute (‘Forget Me Not’) and put it in my cart.
Since the company is based in British Columbia, I did not expect to receive my Pump Ease before returning to work, so I started to practice flipping my nursing tank over my pump horns as a back-up. Needless to say, this method left me with a lot of spillage and frustration. My frustration didn’t have to last long—my Pump Ease arrived the Saturday before I returned to work!

As I tore into the package, my husband asked, “You want to whip out the pump right now, don’t you?” Obviously! I knew it didn’t matter, but the pattern I had picked out was adorable (and there are plenty other great patterns including a “Very Cherry” and classy polka dotted “T-Bird Red”). Although I read on the website that the support was made of a “super soft” “88% polyester/12% spandex high-performance technical fabric” that would remember my body shape (thank you memory), I had NO idea just how soft it would feel. Imagine a running shirt and t-shirt sheets made sweet love and this was the baby.

I slipped the support bra around my chest and did up the eyelets. Next, I put the horns (of my Medela Pump in Style Advanced) in place behind the support and through the openings (which are supposed to fit horns of any breast pump—I believe it as they also worked with my backup Playtex Embrace). With two quick snaps, I was attached to my bottles and ready to pump.

My lifesaver was FOUND! I was able to do anything within reach of my pump tubing (wipe my toddler’s nose, pull crackers away from the dogs, and replace the blanket over baby boy’s feet). No milk was lost and I had a killer first pumping session. When it was done, the bottles stayed nicely in place until I was ready to dump into the storage bags. The little drops that did fall from the horns wicked off the Pump Ease with no fear of having to toss yet another piece of laundry in before the weekend was up. For a half a second, I was actually excited about going back to work and taking my pumping breaks!

I highly suggest the Pump Ease for any nursing mama who will be returning to work and pumping. While I can’t say it will be the best experience, I will actually be able to do some work while pumping and will be able to get home to my nursling and toddler quicker. (Definitely a win.)

Although I can’t verify that the Pump Ease will hold up for the 1000th pump, I have been able to pump with it quite a few times and the ladies did not sag once yet. Just based on my first few pumps, I am sure the claim is true—you know I will keep you posted.

Thanks to Pump Ease’s Facebook, I found out that there is a BOGO sale on the “Very Cherry” pattern from now until the end of February. Perhaps two Pump Ease’s would allow for a back up (one in wash, one in pump bag) or a great shower gift (if you know the mama’s size—but definitely read up on the sizing chart on their webpage before purchasing). Who’s tempted?