Monday, February 24, 2014

21 Weeks: I can sit!

This week's huge accomplishment is sitting! My baby is sitting all on his own, a little longer each day. I'm so impressed with him, since he's not even five months old yet. We keep practicing with him, and he is learning how to better self correct his balance each time we do it. He's an awesome little dude!

Kaiden has also been sleeping in his nursery since Friday. We started Friday night, and so far, every night has been great. He hasn't been crying himself to sleep at all. He usually just talks to himself until he peeters out. He's been sleeping from 8pm to 4:30pm most nights as well. Yay!

We've upped his bottle intake to six ounces right before bedtime, since it didn't seem like four ounces was cutting it anymore. He still gets two bottles a day, for his reflux. I've also been trying to get him to eat rice cereal from a spoon, but that's hit or miss. He's been watching us eat with so much interest, so I try to give it to him while we are eating, which is when it works the best. I'm not rushing him, either. He loves his boobie, and he rather than then solid food any day of the week.

He's also started to reach out for my boobs and grab them, and/or bury his head into my chest to tell me he is hungry. Such a boy, huh?

He's growing up too fast. Someone tell him to slow down. :(

This is Kaiden after eating some sweet potatoes for the first time. I cheated and gave him some to try and get him to eat his rice cereal. :P

Thursday, February 13, 2014

20 Weeks: Holy Attachment, Batman!

Kaiden has officially entered the "I WANT MY MOMMY" phase. It's both very heartwarming and very annoying. I especially hate when he does this with my husband. I tell DH not to take it personally, but how can you not? I can see the despair in his eyes when the baby is flipping out, tearing up and screaming for me, and there's nothing DH can do but hand him over.

Sleeping has been on and off. Some nights, all Kaiden wants to do is make sure I'm next to him.  He sometimes holds a hand up in the air and waits for me to take it, or he wants to nurse every hour or two. Other nights, he only wakes up once to be fed and is good until the morning. It's left me very tired, either way.

This past weekend was my first time traveling back home (2+ hours) with Kaiden, alone. It was very, very stressful, especially because Kaiden was tired of being in his car seat. One night, while we were at the Cheesecake Factory, waiting for a table, Kaiden had an honest-to-God meltdown. He was tired, overstimulated and sick of being in his car seat. Nothing I did calmed him except for when I took him out of the restaurant all together. He was so frazzled when we got back to my mom's that I just put him into bed with me, cuddled him and fell asleep. I felt guilty and horrible all weekend, and I'm not sure when I'll do something like that again.

Otherwise, all is going well. My baby is growing every day. He started at a new day care this week, and when I picked him up on Monday, he REACHED OUT for me. I didn't realize it at first until Miss Rhonda pointed it out to me and I nearly cried. It was a sweet moment that I'd never trade. :)

Kaiden has been trying to sit up more, as well as roll over onto his tummy, which he can do, but pretty much only when he's sleeping and doesn't notice he is doing it. He scoots for his toys, screams and sings, and gives lovely belly laughs when he thinks something is funny. He also has a fondness for animals, just like mommy. <3

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Breastfeeding is a Bitch

I felt inspired to write my breastfeeding post tonight. That’s because, tonight, I gave away 50 oz of milk to a couple of dads who want to make sure their daughter gets breastmilk. One of the dads came to my house at 8:30 at night and I handed over the milk with tears of happiness in my eyes. I told him how much this meant to me, because I had such a hard time starting out, and now, not only am I feeding my own baby, another baby will be drinking my milk as well. It makes my heart swell. I didn’t know this man at all, but I gave him a hug and sent him on his way with the milk. My milk. Kaiden’s milk. 

So, I wanted to write this post for a long time, because while there is a ton of breastfeeding advice out there on the internet, very few of it seemed to be “real” to me. Very few took into account the misery that precedes the joy of breastfeeding. Now, I know that women don’t want to hear about how much it sucks…but they have to hear it…because when they don’t hear it, they start to feel guilty about not having an easy time of it, just like I felt guilty. So, here are some private moments from my experience that I hope can help other women who are struggling. 

Tig Ol’ Bitties

You would think that women who are made with bigger boobs should be better breastfeeders…right? I mean, why have gigantic breasticles if you can’t use them well? I’ve asked myself that question many, many, many times. I have been blessed with a generous rack ever since the seventh grade. But, when it comes to breastfeeding, my boobs are a pain in the ass. 

Women with big breasts can’t necessarily just whip them out and feed their infants. We have to whip out a boob and hold it practically the whole time to keep it in place. Or you have to prop it up, or stick something under it. Oh, and forget that nursing cover. That’s more of a nuisance than it is a help…and really, it isn’t a help at all. 

Getting ready to breastfeed with giant boobs is a task all in its own. So, if you are a big-chested lady, it is completely normal for you to have to take some time to learn to set yourself up before feeding the baby. You’ll try every position in the book, you’ll use burp cloths, blankets, Boppies, pillows…all sorts of crap. And even after all that, your baby STILL might not understand why these gigantic flaps of boogie are overshadowing his face. 

What I found worked with me was rolling up a washcloth or burp cloth and slipping it under my boob to keep it propped up and the nipple where the baby could latch to it. I also like using the football hold sometimes, because the baby doesn’t have to angle his head strangely. 

Flat Nippies

My nipples were super flat. Super. Flat. All the nurses kept telling me that the baby would be able to pull them out, but all the nurses didn’t know shit. My son couldn’t latch at all because he had nothing to fill his mouth when he was latching. It wasn’t until my LC gave me hard-shell bubble shields that my nipples started to come out.
You can buy these at Babies R’ Us. I suggest the Medela ones that are slimmer and don’t look so awkward when you wear them in your bra. You should wear them all day long and take them off when you sleep. If you don’t take them off when you sleep, you will wake up with bubbles filled with milk. Trust me. 

The shields will help put pressure around your nipple to push it out. Eventually, your nipples will understand that they can’t hide forever. I used the hard shells for about a month before I ditched them. 

I also used silicone nipple shields, which are super, super annoying. Beyond annoying. They suck. I had to use these for a couple of reasons, but it was mostly to help my baby find something to latch onto, since my boob just wasn’t doing it. Eventually, I had to keep using these for an extended period of time, but it wasn’t because of my nipples; it was due to other issues my son was having.

Bad Latching/Nipple Soreness/Wanting to Die

I like to call the first couple weeks of breastfeeding “Nipple Boot Camp.” This is when your nipples are going to hurt like someone is setting them on fire every night, and you will want to instantly quit. The pain is unbearable. 

Everyone will tell you to check the latch, check the latch, check the latch. I’m no LC, but hearing that the baby has a bad latch day in and day out while you are already struggling to breastfeed your infant is exhausting. Most days, if Kaiden had a bad latch, but he was nursing? I let him. I let him because any pain was worth him being able to breastfeed. I immediately regretted it later. 

If you suspect your baby has a bad latch, please see your LC. I saw my LC every week for about seven weeks trying to get it right. My son had some rear tongue tie, had to get his tongue clipped, then had to relearn how to latch and suck all over again. It was very frustrating, and I think these weeks were the lowest weeks I had breastfeeding. I don’t know what I would have done without my LCs. More on them later. 

There were some nights when the pain was so bad, I’d cry after every feeding, stick my boobies in some hot salt water and pout. It made me miserable and depressed. No one likes to be in constant pain…but a mother will choose to be in constant pain if it meant the best for her child. Especially a mother who is struggling and already feeling guilty. Which leads to my next point:

Depression/Guilt/Struggling with Breastfeeding

There is a strange phenomenon that surrounds breastfeeding these days. Absolutely no one has to be actively shaming you for not breastfeeding your child, but you will still feel guilty about it. You will feel like the worst mother out there. You’ll feel like a failure that you can’t feed your own child. It is awful. 

On top of that, those first six weeks? They suck. Let’s not screw around here and call it something it’s not. IT FUCKING SUCKS. I even cursed there. 

I remember having a conversation with my breastfeeding friend, and it went like this: 

Me: I am so depressed. All I do all day is sit on the couch with my boob in Kaiden’s mouth. I don’t do anything for myself. I do nothing.

Friend: You aren’t doing nothing. You are feeding your baby. 

Now, she might not be happy with me saying this…but that is complete bullshit, and I am calling out anyone who thinks that it is just WONDERFUL to sit on your ass all day doing nothing, smelling like sour milk, fighting with your baby to breastfeed and waiting until it’s night time so you can sleep for about two hours and get away from it all. That is BULLSHIT. 

This was one of the hardest parts for me. I already suffer from depression, and having to sit on the couch and do nothing but feed my baby (the pump afterwards) wasn’t helping. On top of that, I wasn’t getting any sleep because I’d have to fight with Kaiden every nursing session at night, and it’d last anywhere from one to two hours long. Every two hours, I was fighting to feed my baby…and it wore me out quickly. 

So what did I do?

Use a Damned Bottle

I used a damned bottle. Kaiden had some weight gain issues in the beginning due to the poor latch, tongue tie, flat nipples, etc.. I had to start supplementing with formula, and I tried, Lord, I tried using the SNS system, but it was too much every time i had to feed him. I had to prepare the SNS system, tape it to my boob, line it up with the nipple shield, weasel it into the baby’s mouth, then unclamp the tube to make the formula flow. Every single feeding was a circus. 

I went to the pediatrician, and he told me straight up, “It is okay if you are giving him a bottle.” Now, I know this is not popular opinion, and there’s the whole nipple confusion camp that I do not subscribe to or believe in…but I was putting so much added pressure on myself to try and do this the way the breastfeeding books suggest I do it…and it just wasn’t working. 

Kaiden took the bottle right away. He was two weeks old. He gained weight. I used a bottle every other feeding for his supplementation. He didn’t die. He still knows how to breastfeed. He never confused my nipple with anything else. 

Using a bottle was always a source of contention between the EBF (exclusively breastfeeding) moms and me. Even if they didn’t mean it, every time I had an issue with breastfeeding, they would blame it on the bottles. “Oh, maybe he’s not breastfeeding well during the day because you use bottles at night.” No. He’s not breastfeeding well during the day because babies need to LEARN to breastfeed. Some babies are really quick at it, some babies have trouble. I don’t think I started to comfortable nurse until around 12 weeks. That’s two times longer than most moms say breastfeeding gets easier. 

I took a lot of flak for choosing to use bottles in addition to breastfeed. And if I mentioned formula on top of that, HOLY SHIT. The truth is, I chose to use bottles to supplement because my baby was rapidly losing weight. I chose to use bottles for night feedings because it would take, on average, about an hour and a half to feed Kaiden each nursing session, and most of that hour and a half was fighting with him as he screamed and cried, to latch. It was a miserable experience for the both of us. 

I will never forget what my lactation consultant told me, a woman whose whole job is to encourage breastfeeding. She said, “Stephanie, it doesn’t matter HOW your baby is being fed, what matters is that he is eating, he is healthy and he is happy.” 

Suck on that, all you breastfeeding judgers out there. 

Give Yourself a Break

You need one. Sometimes, this means having to give daddy a bottle to feed baby at night. Sometimes, this means you’ll have to give formula for a feeding or two so you can pump and build up a supply before you go to work. Sometimes, this might mean that you go into the bathroom, shut the door and cry, cry, cry. 

All of this is okay. 

In the end, you are the mommy, and you know what is best for your child. Try not to feel guilty about anything. We are our own worse enemies. 

It took me a long time to learn that I wasn’t doing anything wrong and to BELIEVE it. 

If breastfeeding works out for you — awesome. If it doesn’t? That’s okay. Formula isn’t going to kill your child. It’s not “bad” for your child. You aren’t less of a person for having to use it. Heck, I still use formula for Kaiden’s reflux…and sometimes I use it when I need a damned break. That’s my business, my decision…and everyone else can deal with it if they have an issue. 

Good Luck, Mommas!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

18 weeks: Four month check up

Check up went well. Kaiden is well ahead of his milestones, and the doctor's impressed. A couple of days ago, he scooted for the first time and pulled himself out of my lap and toward a pacifier that he wanted. I think he'll be on the move soon. He's ready to go!

Here are his stats:

Weight: 14 lbs 13 oz (21st percentile)
Length: 25 inches (46th percentile)
Head: 16.5 inches (61st percetile)

We learned that Kaiden also has eczema. Boo. It's not so bad right now. He just has a couple of patches on his cheeks from drooling so much. But, we have to stop bathing him every day and start putting lotion on him 2-3 times a day instead.

And, in other news, I am donating 50 oz of my frozen milk to a couple of dads who are visiting the area on vacation. I'm so excited! It's amazing to me that I went from struggling to feeding my own child to helping to feed someone else's child. How wonderful!