Monday, September 27, 2010

PCOS+a team of doctors=One gorgeous baby girl!

Olivia, the first time we saw her. <3
Shane and I decided to start trying for a baby in the spring of 2007, about 4-5 months after we were married. Sure, we were young (I was 22!) but we knew we wanted kids and I had always wanted them early on. I believe it was probably around March when we made the final decision to start trying. We didn't start on OPKs or anything like that, just doing the deed (and keep in mind, we were newly weds!). After a few months, we weren't pregnant AND I hadn't gotten my period. So I saw a doctor who told me to take ovulation predictor kits (OPK's) for a month to figure out when I ovulated. BRILLIANT idea. Yeesh. Needless to say, I didn't get a positive OPK. Then we went and saw a "fertility specialist" who didn't give me a physical, run any tests or anything. He gave me a prescription and told me to lose weight and come back and see him in 6 months if I wasn't pregnant. I left his office CRYING, I was so humiliated! Shane was beside himself with fury. So THEN, we went back to the regular doctors office who did an ultrasound on my reproductive system. I was told that I had a "string of pearls" around my ovaries but that didn't mean I had Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Which we found very weird because we were told that a direct sign of PCOS was actually a string of pearls around the ovaries...........

Well, by this point it was almost the end of the year and on Jan. 1, my insurance was going to change so I didn't need to have referrals to go to specialists anymore so we decided to wait until January to go see a specialist outside of my network since obviously my network was full of complete nincompoops. So on Jan. 1, 2008 I called a fertility clinic that was near us and made an appointment. I believe it was Jan. 17 or 18. Don't ask me how I remember that though haha! We went in for the appointment and the doctor came in, sat down, opened my file, looked up at me and said:
"So, you have PCOS?"
Ex-ca-use me?! I told him I had been specifically told by last doctor that I DIDN'T have PCOS. And he told us "Well, no offense to your old doctor but I am a specialist and it's pretty obvious by the string of pearls and your lack of period that you have PCOS." He sat down and explained to us what was going on, the medications we would need to take and said "I bet you'll be pregnant within 6 months." After lottttts of medications, ultrasounds and tests, we finally had THE month. The month where we walked into the doctors office, laid down for an ultrasound and saw two big fat eggs about to drop into the fallopian tube and a nice thick endometrium. I SOBBED from happiness. And even better, it had only take ONE cycle of medications to make it happen. Obviously I wasn't pregnant yet but this proved that I COULD ovulate and now we knew what to do. So I went home, called into work **cough cough** I'm soooo sick he he he. I told Shane to get naked!!

Well, we'll skip that, but it was a busy weekend. was just time to wait. And wait. The doctor said I had to wait until March 21 to take the test because of the drugs could give me an incorrect. It was a Friday and I got impatient and took it on a Wednesday. NEGATIVE. Sigh. Oh well, there was always next month (sob). On Friday morning, I woke up very upset from a dream I had had. I'd dreamed that I was laying in bed and turned around and laying beside me was a beautiful baby girl. I KNEW she was my baby girl and I picked her up and cuddled her close. I woke up so upset because I knew that baby in my dream wasn't there that month. Shane, in his infinite wisdom, forced me to take another pregnancy test because that was when the doctor had told me to take one! I was irritated because they don't grow on trees but did it anyways. I peed on my little stick and got into the shower. When I got out of the shower, I picked up the pregnancy test to throw it away and what did I see?

IT WAS POSITIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I SCREAMED, running out of the bathroom "I'M PREGNANT, I'M PREGNANT, I'M PREGNANT!!" Shane LEAPED out of bed and just hugged me as I cried. After we calmed down, I told him "Oh and by the way, we're having a girl."

And so we did...
Olivia Carole Phyllis, born 10-29-08 4 lbs 9 oz 18.5 in

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Getting Pregnant

Rooster and I were married in September 2006 and started trying for a baby shortly there afterwards - or more accurately we stopped trying NOT to have a baby. I felt that actually trying to get pregnant would be stressful, so we just did what we always had done.... just with lack of any birth control methods. Come January when nothing had happened and I was starting to be mildly concerned that this may not be an easy task.

Time for my extra long back track story...

Reason for my concern so soon was that in 2003 I had emergency surgery when a doctor discovered that I had a cantaloupe sized fibroid tumor hanging off the side of my uterus. I had been sick off and on for over a year, and this beast had gone undetected by a handful of doctors. My illness was pretty consistent with vomiting to the point of bile after my monthly cycle was complete. Pleasant, eh? I went into a regular doctor clinic atleast three times and each time they down played my cry for help and told me I just had really bad gas that was blocking my intestines. Honestly I think anytime I had gone in the office used me as a guinea pig for new doctors to practice vaginal exams.

I saw an experienced doctor finally and after just laying one hand on my abdomen he ordered a level two ultrasound which confirmed his suspicion of a fibroid. I was immediately sent to a local hospital and was prepped for surgery. They informed me that if it was cancerous I would be cut from about mid-chest down to my private area, and that if it was benign it would just be from belly button down.

A few hours later I woke up in post-op and remember taking my hand and trying to figure out where the cut was on my abdomen. Belly button down. BIG sigh of relief. No cancer. Once I was more alert the surgeon came in to tell me how the surgery went. This is when I learned just how massive the fibroid was in size, and that it had essentially strangled my right falopean tube. When fibroids are located outside the uterus they grow on a stalk. The stalk and my falopean tube had wrapped around each other nine times - cutting off the blood supply and killing the whole thing. He explained that while they were in there they checked around and found no other fibroids, and that the left side looked great. I was worried about fertility later in life, but he assured me that in most cases women with one ovary/tube combo are just as able to get pregnant as anyone else. This information was confirmed months later at my OB/GYN clinic. The OB explained that sometimes the remaining ovary/tube would "pick up the slack" and ovulate every month, otherwise I would just be fertile every other month therefore still fully capable of conceiving a child.

Back to 2006/2007... come January I was worried that we hadn't become pregnant yet. We starting doing the typical "trying" things like having me lay around with my legs up in the air ala Big Lebowski for a long time after doing the deed. We went off and on of "really really trying" to just "relax and it will happen" attitudes. By October 2007 I was starting to stress out that no pregnancy had occurred. That's when we happened to be shopping at a Half Price Bookstore and a book caught my attention; Getting Pregnant: What You Need To Know Right Now - Niels Lauersen and Colette Bouchez. The part of the book that most caught my attention was the fertility/infertility diet information. The book has a list of foods which hurt fertility... and it was the majority of my vegetarian diet. Oops! I changed my diet by eliminating everything that contained estrogen. This included stuff like peanut butter, peas, spinach, soy, etc.

Another thing that caught my attention from the book was different vitamins for both of us to take, and the cough syrup Robitussin. Robitussin reportedly thins the mucus in your entire body, including what is floating around in your uterus. By thinning it out you allow the sperm to get to their destination faster and easier. December 2007 after my monthly cycle we both took 500 mg of vitamin C every day, and I took a shot of Robitussin every night until the bottle was gone. Laugh all you want... it worked! January 4th first positive pregnancy test!! (after 2 negative ones earlier that week - I knew something was up because I was NEVER late before).

For baby number two in 2010 I had the bottle of Robitussin ready... but we didn't need it, ended up pregnant on the first try.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Better Late Than Never

Hi! I'm Meghan, mommy to Aiden and Chase who is expected at the end of October. I am a stay at home mom, a birth doula on leave for a while, and a placenta encapsulationist. My husband is B (Baris, but I call him B), he's a corporate kiss @$$ and an MBA student, making me an academic widow for at least another year and a half.

Aiden was born on November 17th, 2008 at St. Joe's hospital. I had an awesome waterbirth with the Generations Midwives. While my labor was not particularly fast (about 14 hours, so average for a first time mom) when it was time to push, Aiden flew out pretty quickly. This is relevant to my breastfeeding story, or the start of it at least. Aiden was placed right up on my chest for a snuggle at 6:30pm, he was perfect and I was in love. When we got settled in our room, I briefly tried to nurse him, but I was excited, distracted, and he didn't seem to care at that particular moment, so I just kept him skin to skin with me and enjoyed him. He did nurse successfuly several times through the night and I thought "damn, I'm so lucky, he's so good at this!" And he was! The problem was that because he came so fast, he was a little shocked and confused. He started puking up all the mucous in his little tummy, emptying it out...for those of you who don't know, a newborn's stomach is only about the size of a shooter marble and lined generously with mucous at birth. This enables baby to feel satisfied on the first couple days of colostrum from mother's breast. Well, since Aiden up and emptied this out...he was hunnnnnggggrry and MAD! By 12 hours old he was psychotic. He would latch, then scream, latch, then scream, latch, then scream. Me in all my hormones and lack of sleep (I stayed awake most of the night staring at his perfect face and snuggling him) thought I was broken. I was sobbing and telling my husband I didn't know what to do...this went on for an hour. B insisted that I buzz the nurses, but I was too embarassed, I could do it! So B went running out of the room and sent in a nurse...apparently my psycho babble was too much for him.

The nurse was too sweet. She tried to get him to latch and be satisfied, but he would have NONE of it...nothing respectable was coming out, he wanted food now. So she brought us a supplemental nursing system and (gulp) a thing of formula. He was so mad and worked up I didn't care, poor little baby. It was a last resort after two hours of him screaming at me and not staying latched followed by half an hour with the nurse trying to get him to settle into nursing and me telling her "There's something wrong with me! Do I need a shield?! I can't believe I couldn't even nurse him for 12 hours!!! WAAAAAHHHH!" We tried a few times to use the SNS actually AT the breast, but we couldn't get it situated right so we finger fed him with it, he had a couple milliliters and went to sleep. At last. We only had to use it that one time in the hospital, but we took it home just in case, Aiden nursed the rest of his stay.

At home we nursed religiously to try and flush out his jaundice...he was pretty orange. Once or twice a day we would follow his nursing with a few mL of formula to help with the jaundice since my milk wasn't in quite yet. This felt like the longest day and a half of my But he always latched wonderfully, and would stay at the breast for 20 minutes, then I would switch, he would nurse 20 minutes, and once or twice a day he would go with daddy for a few mL of formula while I pumped to stimulate the milk to come in.

The second evening we were home, THERE was my milk...and lots of it. For the next three months I made enough for twins easily. Aiden was a good nurser and handled my VERY overactive letdown pretty well. He gagged here and there (who can blame him...I would gag too if someone were using a hose to shove milk down my throat) and then he really started to get the rhythm of it and stopped having issues. I had to burp him frequently while nursing because of the overactive letdown, but that was our only real struggle. He gained weight quickly, pooped like a champ, and got rolly in a hurry.

When he was 5 weeks old we hit another speed bump. Aiden and I both got a NASTY cold. Aiden had trouble nursing, we think it was causing him pain to hold the breast in his mouth so he refused to nurse for more than a day. I was DEVASTATED. I pumped and sobbed, pumped and sobbed...Aiden had not had a bottle before and here he was taking every feeding for more than a day from a bottle. Again I thought something was wrong with me...why is my 5-week old refusing the breast after all this great nursing for the last month?! I offered the breast at every feeding and he would just cry, so I would run off and sob while B gave Aiden a bottle of expressed milk. Fortunately for my sanity, he went back to the breast just fine and we nursed with no problems until he was 6 months old. I was fortunate because Aiden was a FAST nurser...5 minutes to empty on one side, switch, 5 minutes to empty, and DONE! It was great!

At 6 months cue the beginning of the end. I had planned to nurse Aiden at least a year, I wanted to wean him by 18 months. Well, at 6 months, he started turning into a beast at the breast...hitting, pinching, unlatching and looking around (leaving my breast exposed to the world if we were in public...something I was NOT comfortable with) and taking forever to finish cuz he was so busy playing. I tried a lot of tricks to keep him focused...nursing only in quiet, dim places, spacing out feedings so he would get down to business and be done instead of playing...lots of stuff. Nothing really worked, he didn't want to snuggle up and get down to business...the stress of it took it's toll on me. I spent two months working every angle, asking questions, trying new things, but he just would not stay at the breast, would not sit even REMOTELY still, and my nipples began to hurt from his lazy latch, his pulling, and his screwing around. He began taking more and more bottles from my limited supply of frozen milk (I was not good about pumping past 3 months...I had no and he would always really do his thing when having a bottle, he would look around all the time, finish his milk and go on his way. Unfortunately, between the stress of his bad booby behavior and his lazy latch not stimulating the milk supply started to fall WAY off. By 8 months we called it quits. One thing you should know about me is that I'm a sexual abuse survivor, so a lot of this was not acceptable to me and made me very uncomfortable that he was treating my breasts the way he was, so my 2 months of fighting with him was a REAL struggle for me to stay focused on what was best for my little boy versus how it made me feel.

Aiden hated formula...he didn't eat that great over the next two months, and I hated formula. Everytime I made a bottle, washed a bottle, gave him a bottle I grumbled to myself about it. At 10 months we just switched him to whole milk, then milk with yogurt which was the ticket to getting his dairy in his belly...he loves plain yogurt.

So that's my story. I didn't have a huge struggle at all, but my experience was way different than I expected it to be. I didn't want it to end so soon...I wanted a baby who LOVED to be at the breast all the time...but aiden was always an in and out nurser, never a comfort nurser. In hindsight I think part of it was because he used a binky. I probably had the opportunity to take the binky away when he was a month old as his need to suck went away (he never would use the breast in this way), but I didn't, and then MONTHS of troublesome sleep started and it was our only link to sanity. I loved breastfeeding, I loved knowing it was how Aiden was getting so chunky...that his donut thighs were thanks to MY milk, MY hard work...I loved making faces at him while he was at the breast, and I loved when he started trying to smile while he was nursing and watching milk get all over. The whole thing was great.

I've always said breastfeeding is a lazy woman's sport. It is...I never had to get up and make a bottle in the middle of the night...just plop the baby on my boob and go back to sleep! Wake up three hours later...there's the baby...fat and happy. I miss it and can't wait to have another little nursling. Whatever it takes this baby will nurse at least a year. I will turn Chase into a boobie monster...since I'm taking a full year off from doula work after his birth, I don't even have to worry about pumping except occaisionally, so he's going to be my little boobie buddy all the time. I plan to avoid the binky at all costs this go around, and to spend the first couple weeks with him tucked skin to skin in my moby while I tool around the house. I was so mad about Aiden's early dismissal of the breast, and disappointed in myself for not trying longer and forcing the issue. It's a lesson learned. :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I'm the youngest of the group and I claim the hardest nursing experience medal! :)

Kangaroo care with Olivia after trying to nurse. 2 days old

My name is Christa and I'm the youngest of the bunch (by 5 months ha-ha). I have no fun nicknames so Christa will do just fine. I have a 23 month old named Olivia and my husbands name is Shane. Olivia will be 2 in October.

Prior to my daughter being born, I figured I'd breastfeed for about 6 months. I don't know how I came up with this number, or why on earth I thought it sounded like a good plan but that was what I thought. Once she was born, that completely changed. I should start by introduction by giving you a brief history of how Olivia came about. It wasn't as simple as a roll in the hay and a positive pregnancy test. We tried for a year, and had to go through infertility treatment to conceive her because I had polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). I finally got pregnant in March of 2008 and was due in December 2008. I had a pretty high risk pregnancy, with low progesterone, gestational diabetes, PSD (pelvic symphisis dysfunction) and then at the end, severe pre-eclampsia. I was diagnosed and hospitalized with pre-eclampsia on October 20, 2008. Exactly one week later, at 33 weeks and 5 days, my blood pressure had risen and sustained to 260/180 and they induced me. I had always intended on having a totally natural delivery but after about 25 hours of labor, I asked for an epidural. After about 48 hours of labor, I ended up with a c-section. Olivia was born on October 29 and weighed 4 lbs 9 ounces. I saw her for about 10 seconds before she was rushed to the NICU and then didn't get to see or hold her again until she was about 7 hours old.

I realize that is a lot of background information but it's important to lead me up to my breastfeeding journey! When I finally got to see and hold Olivia, she wasn't able to feed because of a medication I had been on while in the hospital called magnesium sulfate. She had to wait 24 hours before any food could be given to her. Before she could even eat, the nurses had brought me a breastpump and had me hooked up to it, pumping colostrum, which was stored in small syringes for her when she finally could eat. By the time Olivia was cleared to eat, I was eager to breastfeed her. I was in the NICU holding her and brought her to my breast with a lactation consultant present and we got her on my breast...and she fell asleep. She was barely able to latch on. I was absolutely crushed. Aren't babies supposed to latch on and eat right away?? We tried constantly. I would get up every 3 hours and try to make it to the NICU to get her to latch on but even if we could get her to latch, which was never a proper latch, Olivia would fall asleep right away. She was just too weak to latch on. After a few days, they asked if we wanted to do bottles. I said ABSOLUTELY NOT!! I wasn't going to give her bottles! I was going to breastfeed. But it came down to this--if she couldn't eat, she couldn't go home. So several hours later, and many many tears, I decided to give in to the bottles. I still tried breastfeeding her every time I was in the NICU but it just didn't work. So I continued pumping and she would get my milk from a bottle. We brought Olivia home when she was 7 days old.

For about 6 weeks, I continued trying to bring her to my breast, in hopes she would latch on. We had a few half hearted nursing sessions with a nipple shield but my milk was so fast flowing that it would get overfilled with milk and always falls off. Everytime she would refuse my breast, I would hand her over to Shane or my mom and they would bottle feed her while I sobbed with my breastpump attached to me. Eventually I stopped offering her my breast and just decided to continue pumping. We did have to supplement because the pump just didn't provide the supply and demand nor the latch that a baby did and try as I might, I couldn't get my breasts to give me what my tiny baby needed. I didn't have any education on what I was doing and I was totally flying by the seat of my pants. There is a lot I know now that I didn't know then, but hindsight is 20/20 I suppose!

By the time Olivia was about 5 months old, I'd suffered pretty bad depression about failing to get her to latch, several nipple infections and my supply was so completely low that she was getting about 1 bottle of breastmilk a day. I contacted La Leche League (LLL) and the lactation consultants (LCs) and asked if babies were able to latch on after having spent so much time at the bottle. They said it was worth a try but it probably wouldn't work. I knew that if I didn't get her to start breastfeeding, it would only be a very short time before she had to be completely on formula. On April 16, 2008, when she was 5.5 months old, I came home from work and sat on the couch cross legged. I took down my shirt and brought my almost 6 month old up to my breast.

Like she'd been doing it the entire time, Olivia latched on like a little pro!!!!!!!!!!! She breastfed for exactly 7 minutes before detaching herself and SCREAMING her head off. I had my mom prepared with a bottle, so we finished her feeding with a bottle. A few hours later, before Olivia was super hungry, we climbed into bed and I brought her to my breast again. This time she latched on again with no issues and had her entire feeding from JUST breastfeeding. I was still nervous she wouldn't continue so for quite some time we always had a bottle ready but she never had an issue after that. At almost 6 months old, my 34 weeker latched on and breastfed like a little professional piggie!! I can't even express to anyone how this felt. It was probably my number one biggest achievement of my entire life. Within weeks, my milk supply increased to the point where our freezer was full of breastmilk and I even looked into donating milk. We loved nursing and since we co-slept, Olivia fast learned how to pop the boobie out of my sleep bra and latch on while we were both sleeping.

A breastfed baby is a happy baby.
Olivia, a few days after she latched on.
I nursed Olivia up until February of 2010, when she was 16 months old. I'd wanted to nurse her longer (so much for 6 months right?!) but we wanted to have another baby and the medications I had to take were not safe for breastfeeding babies. So in February of 2010, I weaned her (much to my sadness and her complete lack of caring it seemed ha-ha) and then lo and behold, 2 weeks later....I was pregnant with baby number two...with NO fertility drugs!

Now I'm 26w2d pregnant with our second girl and actually on strict bedrest for pregnancy induced hypertension. We're preparing for the possibility of another preemie and I have my Medela pump and style ready to go. If we have another preemie with latch issues, you bet I'll go through it all again but this time, I am more eduacted and I definitely will not stop trying to get her to latch on.

Friday, September 10, 2010

My First Experience

I will be referring to myself as Mother Hen. The other girls have given me this nickname since I am a generous six years older than them.... thus pretty much ancient. For fun sake my husband will be referred to as "Rooster" and my first born will be "Chicken Little" or "CL" for short. I am expecting my second child, "Hatchling" or "Hatch" in mid-October, gender will be a surprise. EDIT: I had my baby girl on October 12th 2010 and have ended up calling her Chicklet instead as it's just cuter that way. 

My breastfeeding journey began around 10:45pm September 5th 2008. I always knew I would breastfeed should I ever have children, and now the hour was upon me. I brought my tiny newborn son to my left breast and he latched on like a champ. I remember thinking how silly I had been to worry that this would be difficult. I remember the hardest part being trying to get him OFF of the nipple. We had to buzz the nurses several times when I was just exhausted/sore and he had been sucking away for much longer than the recommended "20 minutes per boob every 2 hours" I had been instructed to do.

Through the night I learned that there are challenges in breastfeeding and that doing research as well as having a support system are far from silly. After that initial time on the left breast, he would not touch lefty for about two days. I cried to nurses, doctors, my husband, and anyone that would listen that I was terrified to be a single-boob mom. Whenever I brought CL to my left breast he would arch his back as if there was something revoltingly wrong with it. All the professionals just laughed off my concerns and told me in a few weeks I wouldn't even remember all this "fuss." No one offered to send in a lactation consultant. No one offered me any tips or tricks. I was alone and completely freaking out. I pictured myself needing to supplement with formula and having lopsided boobs. I've known women who were only able to breastfeed with one boob, and hats off to them - but I definitely wanted use of both boobs since I had planned on nursing for a very long time.

Upon discharge from the hospital I let out one last plea to the nurse that came to go through the paperwork with us. She actually offered up some help! She asked if I had tried squeezing my boob to change the shape of the nipple. I did this, and CL went to town for 45 minutes. I couldn't believe how easy it was, and I was extra mad that no one else had bothered to give me such simple advice. I guess when all else fails... squeeze yer boobs! CL has always favored the right side, but I am very happy to have not been a single-boob mom.

Engorgement was ferocious for me and honestly I would have rather gone through labor again. I think part of why it was so bad is that my son was only 5 pounds 10.2 ounces at birth and the hospital had threatened to supplement with formula if he lost more than 5 ounces while at the hospital. I ignored their "every two hours" rule and probably had him on my boobs 90% of the time. He only lost 3 ounces. I win!!

I've had a pretty easy breastfeeding life after that first rough patch. Never any infections or issues (knock on wood). The most difficult part may have been learning how to breastfeed a "triangle" as CL was born with clubbed feet and needed to wear special braces on his legs 24/7 for 9 months, and then just overnights after that. The braces kept his legs far apart, so it was a little bit like holding a small guitar or something. We managed with pillows and plenty of extra back massages from the Rooster.

When my son was around 17 months old I sustained a serious injury, discovered I was pregnant, and needed to be hospitalized for about two days. I was given L3 level medications that I was not comfortable nursing my child with, so I did a few days of pumping and dumping. This period took a huge toll on our nursing relationship. We went from about four times a day down to just once a day. And my son's personality altered to being dependent on thumb sucking for comfort. It really broke my heart! Whenever he is stressed or upset he lays on the ground and sucks his thumb. Initially I tried to offer him a boob, but once the milk dried up due to pregnancy hormone changes he rarely took it for comfort.

Fast forward to CL being 24 months and 6 days old - I am still nursing CL once a day before nap time and occasionally for boo boos. It was my plan to make it to just two years, but with baby number two on the way in about a month I am really thinking that CL will be able to do me the hugest favor in the world by helping me through engorgement again. So, tandem nursing here I come! I'm not sure how long I will nurse both children. That's kind of more up to CL in my opinion. I feel like he got a little robbed out of his last six months of nursing, so at this point it is anything goes.