Sunday, October 31, 2010

Breastfeeding SUCCESS!

October 30, 2010
Yesterday, we were speaking with one of Ella's doctors and I asked when we would start introducing breastfeeding. After determining how old Ella was gestationally (33w2d), Dr. Bendel-Stenzel (whom, by the way, I call Gods right hand..) said we could start breastfeeding...RIGHT AWAY. I was so flustered and excited! Ella had just eaten so we decided we'd come back for her 8:00 PM feeding.

That evening, we came back at 7:30 PM and I pumped so that if Ella did manage to latch on again this time (she'd latched on once before), she wouldn't have any issues with choking or aspirating or anything. I got comfy on the chair, with a pillow on my lap and the nurse handed Ella to me. I wasn't sure the best position on how to hold her because she's so darn small! Holding a 3 lb 5 oz baby is much, much different then holding a 15 lb baby to your breast! The nurse asked me how I'd nursed Olivia and I told her that Olivia's favorite way to nurse had always been draped across my body with her belly against mine. So, that's how she told me to hold Ella.'s that simple?? Guess so! 
See those smiles? Those are the smiles of pure amazement
 at a  3 lb baby that latched on and started sucking without any help at all!!!!

I don't have any fancy words of advice to other moms of preemies except it simply can come down to patience and knowing that babies just know what to do sometimes! With Olivia, that wasn't the case, but with Ella, it was. She latched on with not a single issue. She's obviously not taking any full feedings or anything like that and she latches and pulls off but she latched and breastfed from my left breast (both times we've breast fed funnily enough). You can see in the above picture how I held her and that worked out really well except the arm I was using to hold my breast got really sore so I think I need a pillow or something to go underneath it. 

It was so amazing though. I can't even tell you. Just to have her latch and suck but when she actually caused a let down and started nursing for several minutes...I swear, a choir of angels started singing!! It was the most beautiful, natural thing ever. All the fears I had about breastfeeding such a tiny baby completely flew out the window and it was like we fit together like two puzzle pieces. I had worked myself up so much being so worried about having such a tiny little baby at such a ginormous boobie but when she latched on and we relaxed, it all fit together. My advice to new breastfeeding moms, whether or not you're breastfeeding a preemie is to relax and trust your body. And DON'T GIVE UP!! :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fertility and Birth Control...Um...I'm Irish...

OK, so last month Mama Christa and Mother Hen posted their harrowing stories of trying to conceive their first children. They've been harassing me ever since to add my story to the series. The thing is...

There is no story.

Seriously, the most challenging thing about trying to get pregnant for my husband and I was to get him to agree that it was TIME to try to get pregnant! We were married for 4 years before that decision was finally made and we decided it was time to start a family. Personally, I had been clamoring to have a baby since we got married in the first place...I just wanted to be a mom. Good thing my husband is a little more pragmatic. 4 years of planning allowed me to stay at home with our son like I always wanted. Now I have the best job in the world.

So technically it took a couple months, but really it was a logistical problem. B was out of town during a couple cycles, we were sick during a cycle, and happened. We did the horizontal tango 2 times during a cycle (yea, it was one of those months) but it was over that particular time...and BAM! We were pregnant. Just like that. The same thing happened with this second pregnancy...we started getting the URGE for another baby when Aiden was 1. We started trying and 2 cycles later...BAM! Pregnant again...and I knew it a week before my missed period. Both times I engaged in antics to improve our chances because I was convinced we would struggle to get pregnant. So I would lay for half an hour or so with my hips propped up on a pillow afterwards, sometimes even doing headstands...I'm a little rediculous. I didn't want it to take forever, and being pretty much the only person in my family who has ever TRIED to get pregnant, I figured the universe would strike me down and make it nearly impossible. Not the case eh?

So, apparently my ovaries are like clockwork, my husband's little men are abundant and strong swimmers, and we're made for baby making. In fact, I could have had irish fertility returned almost immediately after Aiden was born despite co-sleeping and exclusive breastfeeding. Just so you know, breastfeeding is not reliable birth control for many women! I was ovulating again before Aiden was even 2 months old. I envy women who do not menstruate for months and even years while nursing...You can talk to Mother Hen about that...makes me want to beat her.

So apparently my fertility problem is PREVENTING pregancy. We've always been very careful about birth control so we don't have unexpected surprises. For a few short periods I used hormonal birth control, but it made me fat, um...dry, and KILLED my sex drive so we've been using condoms ever since. In addition we use some family planning. Because my cycles are EXTREMELY regular and you could set your watch by my ovulation, it actually makes it very easy to NOT get pregnant for us. My husband is overly cautious though, and i think he doesn't trust me to just NOT get pregnant...cuz he doesn't pay attention and would just never know. LOL! I also decided against hormonal birth control because of the risks associated with affecting milk supply in nursing mothers. This just wasn't and isn't a risk I was/am willing to take. At my six week postpartum visit my midwife recommended a product I had NEVER seen before. It was a contraceptive film that is to be folded up and inserted into the vagina. Once there it dissolves and is a spermacide, she said it was as effective as condoms when used properly. I was delighted because, really, who LIKES using condoms ok? I actually liked the product...the problem, and I tell all of you this so that you know to try it over a weekend in case this happens to you or your partners, was that B had a very EXTREME reaction to the spermicide the first time we used it that lasted TWO full days and kept him home from work because he was in such excruciated pain. According to the packaging, the burning he experienced (in his urethra) happens to less than 2% of men. But just the same...try this stuff on a Friday night in case your partner or you have a similar reaction and are out of commission for a couple days.

Look at that, kids...a little of everything...Breastfeeding, fertility, and birth control!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Being objectified while breastfeeding/pumping

I had a creepy thing related to pumping happen tonight and I was talking to Shane about it and he thought it would make a good blog post for TGL (TGL=The Good Letdown).

I was at the NICU tonight, pumping before I did K-care (kangaroo care for those who aren't sure) with Ella. I had closed the curtain to the front of the room but it hadn't gotten closed all the way. As I was sitting there pumping, I noticed an older man in the hallway who was pacing back and forth. At first I thought he was just mindlessly pacing or being impatient as he waited for the family he was with. It was obvious he wasn't a parent, I think he must have been the visitor of the family whose room is next to ours. After a minute or two though, I realized that he was moving back and forth and each time he moved within view of Ella's room, he stared me. Pumping. I gave it probably another minute to make sure I wasn't completely crazy but no, he was definitely looking into my room at me pumping. I brought my sweater down to cover my breast shields and then our nurse walked in. I immediately asked her to close the curtain all the way and told her what was going on. She said she also noticed him and was about to go say something after she checked on Ella. She did and I don't know if he left or went into the baby's room he was visiting.

Now, I'm all for nursing in public and I have pumped in public more times then I can count. In fact, I think I've pumped in public more then I've nursed in public! I don't mind people seeing me pump, although I don't prefer it simply because it's a very mechanical thing as opposed to breastfeeding which is totally natural. But he wasn't just seeing me pump. He was watching me pump and going out of his way to stare. I felt extremely uncomfortable about the whole thing. When I was telling Shane about it, he got angry and said the man was objectifying me. I would have to agree. I definitely felt creeped out and objectified by this man who was going out of his way to stare at me as I pumped.

It may not have been a sexual thing for him. Maybe he was just a nosy person, or a weird-o but it certainly seemed to be since I was pumping and my breasts were exposed. Regardless of whether it was, it's creeptastic men like this that make so many American women feel uncomfortable with breastfeeding in public or even breastfeeding at all. It's people like this who take the primary function of our breasts and make them dirty. Don't get me wrong, I understand that my husband enjoys my breasts and not for the functions of feeding our children. And that's okay. But primarily, they are for feeding my babies (and he'll get punched in the face for using them for anything else right now because they are sore ha-ha) and he understands and respects that.

This man, and so many others like him, seek to pervert the natural act of providing sustenance for our children as God (or your maker, whatever) has engineered us to do out of ignorance, selfishness or outright being a skeevy dirty pervert. And it makes me sad that women experience this and it actually affects their decisions on how to feed their babies or when. Have you ever felt objectified while breastfeeding (or pumping, as it was in my case)? What's your take on this whole situation?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wasted Away Again in Tandemville...

Three days after the birth of Chicklett I was starting to feel more fullness in my chest and knew that the milk would be coming soon. I had thoughts back to two years ago and how painful engorgement was for me, but thankfully this time around I have a secret weapon in my pocket! My toddler, Chicken Little, was going to be the star of the show for a few days by helping keep ahead of the engorgement wave.

The first night CL had already gone to bed before I realized that a flood was upon me. Chicklett was gulping and nursing more, but I knew from experience that a newborn is not generally enough to keep up. Around 4am I had serious thoughts about waking CL up JUST so he could nurse and drain me. But I just kept with Chicklett's newborn schedule and knew that soon enough my boy would be awake to help.

Rooster brought CL into the room around 8am and I informed CL that I had a present for him. We cuddled in bed and he had the surprise of his life! After 6 months of just comfort nursing and getting some colostrum (or "cat nip for toddlers" as I like to call it) he found himself access to mamas milk again! He did about 5-8 minutes on each side and I immediately felt much better. We were both happy campers all morning!

For the next week we had a bonus nursing session every morning where he would come bursting into the bedroom and nurse for a few minutes on each side. I was careful not to let him nurse for too long as I was afraid of him actually creating a demand of milk at that time and thus making a vicious cycle where I would have over supply in the morning. We soared through engorgement with flying colors and I couldn't be more happy!

I did nurse both children together a handful of times. It was difficult to do, but very sweet experience. Big brother would reach out and hold hands with little sister while they nursed. Melted my heart! And of course the camera was never around to capture the moment, but there will be more opportunities I hope!

During my pregnancy there were several times when CL went on a nursing strike and am I now very glad that I fought to keep our nursing relationship alive. Not only did I get to the goal of the World Health Organization of nursing for a minimum of 2-years, but now my children have a special bond and sharing opportunity. CL is only nursing about 1-3 times a day, and I will let him decide when he is done with mamas milk.

I am surrounded by supportive friends and family members whom I think understand the importance of this extended breastfeeding. It may not be the "norm" for our country, but there are a lot of things I do that aren't considered normal for the United States but is totally normal everywhere else in the world. :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Becoming a breast milk donor

This is not a picture of my milk. 
When I was struggling with exclusive pumping with my first daughter, I didn't know there were milk banks. I didn't know that women donated their milk for other babies. But even if I had, I couldn't have afforded it. While I had a premature baby, insurance probably wouldn't have covered it just because I didn't produce enough milk because she wasn't SO premature that her body couldn't handle formula. Milk banks charge, from what I've seen, $2-3 (or more) per ounce. If a newborn baby eats 2-3 ounces per feeding and eats about 9-12 times a day, that adds up REALLY quickly. Unless insurance is covering the cost, most people couldn't afford to give their babies donated breast milk from a milk bank. 

Now, I'm not saying that milk banks aren't a great idea or shouldn't exist. With my current baby, Ella, who as many of you know was born at 29 weeks, if I hadn't produced enough milk or if my preeclampsia had caused me any problems with my milk, insurance would have covered the cost of milk from a milk bank. Is it absolute choice? No, because they do pasteurize it which does affect the nutritional value of breast milk but it is definitely better then formula! In our file somewhere, there is a signed form authorizing the hospital to give Ella donated breast milk if it was necessary. 

Fortunately, for me, it wasn't necessary. I pump 40+ oz a day and have milk stored both in my freezer and Meg's freezer. I'm a milk machine. I have more milk then Ella would ever go through unless I decided to stop breastfeeding and as we all know, that is not going to be happening. In fact, since this is my last nursling, I intend on breastfeeding her until she's in college because I wasn't prepared for only two nurslings so I'll be producing breast milk forever. ha ha 

Once I filled up my freezer and literally couldn't fit a single more bottle in, I turned to my friend Meg to let me store milk at her house. The day after I did that, I started seriously considering donating milk. I was pumping 40+ ounces a day and my baby was eating 1 ml every hour. It was adding up. Even by the time she got to full feedings for her gestational age, she would be no where near eating what I was producing. Even though I was only 2 weeks in to pumping exclusively, and I knew there was a chance that my supply would decrease, I decided to look into private donation. I did this because I wanted to ensure that a baby who wouldn't get it otherwise, but needed it, would get breast milk. A friend of mine told me about Milk Share, which is an  is a parent-to-parent connection tool for those seeking milk and donating milk ( I went on there and immediately found a posting from an adoptive mom of a preemie baby girl who wanted to provide milk for her baby. I was ecstatic! I contacted her immediately and we set it up. Within a week, she had somewhere around 100 oz of my perfect-for-a-preemie breast milk. I am so thrilled to be able to provide milk for her baby girl! Disclaimer: If you do private milk donation (whether giving or receiving) it's important to ensure that the mother is screened for diseases and dangerous medications. 

If you're interested in milk donation, whether private or through a milk bank, here are a few resources: Human Milk Banking Association of North America Specifically for low birth weight and premature babies.

Do you know of any other resources? Do you or anyone you know have any experience with milk banks or private donations? Had you ever heard of donating breast milk? What are your thoughts on this?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Being an Exclusive Pumper (part 1)

The hospital grade Medela pump I'm using

I will be writing many a blog post about exclusive pumping. This first one, I thought I'd just talk about how I slipped into being an EPer (EP=Exclusive Pumping) with my first and briefly touch upon EPing with my second daughter. I touched upon exclusive pumping in my first blog post, and some of this will seem repetitive but it's a bit more detailed about my EPing journey!

My first daughter was born at 34 weeks due to severe preeclampsia. I tried really hard to breastfeed her but every time I'd bring her to my breast, she'd fall asleep. The few times she kind of latched on (and it was never a proper latch), she would doze off before she could start suckling and never got even close to causing a let down. The lactation consultant (LC) at the hospital where I gave birth was pretty useless and didn't help AT ALL. Luckily, when my daughter was in the NICU, the nurses brought me a breast pump and had me start pumping immediately. If they hadn't, I honestly don't think it would have ever occurred to me to pump full time and I'm guessing I would have taken the formula route. I continued for several weeks to try and get Olivia to breastfeed but each time, we would fail and I would end up a sobbing, pumping mess while my husband bottle fed her. After several weeks, I gave up and just decided I would pump. I had NO idea what I was doing or how often I should pump. I called a lactation consultant and she said to pump every 3-4 hours. I pumped every 3-4 hours and for a while, I woke up at night but the LC told me I didn't need to do that because my sleep was just as important. NOTE: Yes, sleep is EXTREMELY important while your breastfeeding but if you go 7-8 hours without pumping, it drastically decreases your milk supply!! I also wasn't using the right size breast shield (which is the part that actually touches your breasts) so my pumping wasn't as effective as it should have been.

I tried to find support and help but I didn't know the term "exclusive pumper". I felt like I was the only person in the world who pumped their milk for their baby. I also had no idea that you could actually do this successfully because the advice I had received from the LC was incorrect and my supply was decreasing drastically. I started looking into what I could do to increase my supply. I tried the typical things, drank tons of water, ate oatmeal everyday, Fenugreek, and Mothers Milk tea. The Fenugreek and Mothers Milk Tea did actually work a little bit. I believe it increased my supply by about .5 ounce each pumping, sometimes as much as an ounce. Olivia was eating way more then I was producing though and it was getting to the point where she was getting more then half her feedings in formula. I found some information about marathon pumping sessions and I tried this a few times, but that didn't help me very much because by the time I tried, my milk supply was so low it just didn't make a difference. By the time Olivia was 5.5 months old, she was getting one bottle of breastmilk a day and the rest was formula. I was beside myself and knew that it wouldn't be long before I wouldn't be able to give her any breastmilk at all. Luckily, I was able to get her to latch on and successfully breastfed her until 16 months, but that's a story for another day!

My second daughter, Ella, was born at 29 weeks gestation and with her, I started pumping within hours of her birth. I know so much more now then I did with Olivia and my supply is out of this world. I'm hoping that this continues, and I'm working hard to ensure that my supply stays up until she's strong enough to start breastfeeding which probably won't be for several more weeks. The LC program at this hospital far, far surpasses the one at my original hospital and they are used to dealing with moms with preemies so I have high hopes that we'll be able to successfully breast feed! I'll talk more about why I'm so much more successful with EPing in my next EPing post.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Welcome to Our Second Nursling!

Well, Mother Hen had her baby on October 12th, at 1:22pm.

Chicklett is a sweet little girl weighing in at 7lbs 3oz, born into her mamas hands. Here's her first nursing picture...she nursed for 2 solid hours and is a little champ!

When she has the time and energy she'll post her birth story, a very different event than her first. For those who are wondering, Fiby caused no issues. :)

Chicklett Birth Story

Sunday 10/10/10 I was excited to have some noticeable contractions starting around supper time and lasting through most of the night. They were exactly every 30 minutes apart. By Monday morning that was gone and I chalked it up to false labor. I was a little bummed, but I knew that even false labor is doing some good. Getting baby into position!

I had a generally average Monday with Chicken Little and met Rooster for lunch at his work. After putting my son down for his afternoon nap I noticed regular strong contractions exactly 10 minutes apart and lasting about 20-30 seconds long. This most certainly got my attention! But I tried not to get too excited after what had happened on Sunday.

After about 5 hours of 10 minute spread contractions we were at the point of voting whether to try and do things to speed up labor or doing something to slow it down (as if I have complete control over the situation – ha ha ha). Laboring overnight did not sound like fun to me, and I was already tired from the contractions the night before keeping me awake. We went for a short walk around the neighborhood, it seemed to not increase intensity or frequency of the contractions. I was convinced it was probably just more false labor. My friend Meghan told me that taking a bath might reveal the truth in what is happening as her experience as a doula showed that a bath would slow/stop false labor but not the real thing. She also knew what complete and utter denial I’ve been in over going into labor and thought I might be mentally blocking myself. I took a bath, tried to relax, and had a serious talk with my lady parts. I gave myself permission to go into labor and promised that I wouldn’t let bad experiences from the past get in my way anymore. This baby was going to be here soon no matter what, and fighting it wasn’t going to do me any good. I called my mom who was going to be watching my son to see if she wanted to spend the night here just incase this was the real deal rather than risk having to drive here in the middle of the night. She came right over for a sleep over!

I went to bed early with some anticipation of activity overnight. Rooster stayed up late to watch the Vikings football game, something he probably regrets for a number of reasons. Ha! He came to bed close to 11pm and was having an allergy attack and overall annoying me by talking and being loud. I had a real hard time falling back asleep, it dawned on me around 1am that perhaps the reason why I couldn’t fall back asleep is that the contractions were happening closer than 10 minutes apart. I got up and went online to use a tracker. First spacing was 8:22 minutes apart and lasted about 50 seconds, then 6:22, 6:15, 5:45, 5:40… this would be when I started to get nervous. My midwives had instructed me not to “play around” as my first labor was only 4 hours long. I was supposed to go to the hospital when my contractions were 7 minutes apart. Oops! I called the afterhours midwife hotline and spoke with Mary. She thought it best for me to go into L&D and be monitored just incase. I called my doula to give her a heads up, and woke up my husband. We finished packing the labor bag (because I am Queen Procrastinator!) and made it to the hospital around 3:30am. At this point my contractions had gone back to being 10 minutes apart. They did a strip of monitoring baby and me and told us to stay for a few hours for observation. I allowed an internal exam… not even 2 cm dilated. Slightly devastating to hear, even though I KNOW it doesn’t mean I’m not in labor.

We did some walking to try and kick my contractions back up to 5/6 minutes apart, but it didn’t seem to take. Around 5:30 being completely exhausted I voted that we take a nap.

I woke up about 7am and realized that no contractions had really kept me from napping. I was immediately depressed and convinced that we’d be going back home. I kept waiting for a nurse to come in and check on us, no one had checked in since around 5am. My husband woke up around 8am and I told him I thought they had forgotten about me. We pushed the call button several times, no one came. Finally we went out to the desk and asked to be assisted. Ha! I told the nurse that my contractions had disappeared and we probably just needed to be released. They wanted to hook me up to the monitor just to double check. Right before she hooked me up I had a really good contraction and remembered being very upset that she missed it because they had been so spaced out I was afraid the 20/30 minute strip wouldn’t catch any.

I laid in bed feeling overall sorry for myself and was on the verge of crying that all this had been for nothing and I wouldn’t be holding my baby anytime soon. I had my husband call home to let my mom know we’d probably be back there in about an hour. While they were talking I suddenly got very nauseous and threw up several times. Then the contractions came like a huge wave. Very intense and very often. The nurse came in and did an internal check. I was holding my breath imagining her saying 3cm and knew I was just going to lose it. Then came the magic words… 5, almost 6 cm dilated. Say WHAT??? That’s when things got going very fast. We called my doula, who had heard nothing since 2:30 when I initially called her. Karen said she would be there ASAP.

I was aiming at a water birth and the tub takes 45 minutes to fill. They started filling it immediately! Ha! My midwife Mary came within about a half hour and we had everything set up. We had to do a few laps around the hospital as the bathtub ended up being 107 degrees so they had to cool it down. Oops!

I spent about 2 hours in the tub. I found it relaxing, but overall the pressure seemed to be hitting more on my tailbone and I was unable to really get comfortable. I got out to use the bathroom and while sitting on the toilet felt the first “urge to push” wave hit me. I got back in the tub and we tried some different positions, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I suggested the birthing stool as I thought the positioning would be similar to the toilet so maybe I would feel the urge to push again. I stayed on the birthing stool for about an hour and made great progress. I had major contractions and pushed several times. I did my patent pending “mooing” style, it was effective, though not quite as much as with my first labor. Karen was worried about my throat being destroyed and had me try silently pushing. This was just as effective so yay!

My back was starting to get very sore and I had thoughts about getting into bed. It felt a little bit like defeat to end labor in standard position, but something was telling me to do it. I moved over to the bed and my pitiful left leg lasted about 1 minute before starting to shake. My wonderful husband took over that leg and did everything for it.

At this point my water was still intact! I had lots of fun thoughts about my baby being born in the caul, but second or third contraction to the last one that bag popped and shot water about 5 feet across the room! I was so glad I opened my eyes and caught it. I almost started laughing, but then another contraction came fast and stopped that “BWHAHAHAHA” moment temporarily.

Within about ten minutes of being in the bed we got to crowning. My midwife had me touch the baby’s head and let me see everything in the mirror. After the contraction that got us to crowning my midwife explained that with the next one I should take a nice breath and then just go “puh-puh-puh” rather than bearing down. I waiting with anticipating through the ring of fire… and waited… and waited. Suddenly panic struck in… the contraction was not coming. I wasn’t sure what was wrong or why my body wasn’t kicking that final contraction into action. Four minutes past… and then it finally started up. I went to bear down and my midwife held the baby inside while yelling at me to stop! This last part needed to happen slowly for me to avoid tearing. I took a breath and went again to bear down. I couldn’t remember what she had told me to do and she kept just instructing me to breath. I wasn’t sure what I was doing wrong! Finally I heard someone say “puh puh puh” and I remembered. Third breath the head and shoulders were out. My midwife had me reach around and deliver the baby myself! I loved being so much more involved with the delivery instead of just letting medical staff handle everything. I pulled baby out and up onto my stomach. The cord was very short so she could only be about belly button height. I immediately went to try and see if we had a boy or girl.

Baby was so swollen and the cord was in my way. I thought I saw a girl… but just couldn’t believe it. Indeed we have a baby girl! Chicklett was born at 1:22pm on Tuesday October 12th 2010 – completely intervention free. She weighed 7 pounds 3 ounces, 19 inches long, with a 13 inch head. She looks exactly like big brother, but with black hair instead of red. And when I say she looks exactly like big brother… I mean it… we have another surprise clubbed footed baby. The adventures in leg braces and castings will begin for us next Monday when she will be only 6 days old.

Chicklett is a nursing champion! She latched on and did both breasts for about two hours immediately after birth. I hope this is only a sign of things to come!

Big brother has been interesting in nursing more, though I think he'll be unstoppable once the milk comes in. So far there have just been a few extra comfort nursing sessions for him.

P.S. I had been a hemorrhage risk due to having a 9.5 cm fibroid tumor growing on the outside of my uterus. We were very fearful of needing surgery immediately after birth to stop my bleeding and remove the tumor. Thankfully "fiby" did no harm and infact less than 72 hours after delivery I appear to already be done bleeding! This has been amazing!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

5 Breastfeeding Myths You Probably Believe are True

Here is an article on some common breastfeeding myths. Have a look and comment about what other myths YOU'VE heard about breastfeeding. In coming posts we will address more breastfeeding myths! 
"There are so many barriers and roadblocks to successful breastfeeding that make it so hard for so many women who want and do try. Medical professionals often get in the way of breastfeeding -- sometimes even lactation consultants can give bad advice.
No wonder our country's breastfeeding rates are so low, eh?
The number one weapon we have against bad information and advice is to SQUASH IT LIKE A BUG!By perpetuating myths, we only continue to make things harder for women in the future. That's why it's so important to really listen when someone tries to explain to you where someone misled you if you're discussing reasons why breastfeeding didn't work out for you -- even if it's too late for you, any time you discuss your baby's feedings, you can help quell the myths that were your downfall so maybe where you failed, someone else can succeed!

Nursing the Babies - In the event of "what if"

If I had posted this a few weeks ago like I was supposed to, I would be posting a slightly different story, but as you can see from Christa's last post...things have changed. Initially we thought Christa would be giving birth last, not first, so she was going to be the recipient of a lot of "trickle down" cross nursing support. As it turns out, She's going to be filling the gap for us! Mother Hen has stated, she has a large fibroid tumor on her uterus that may or may not cause problems following her latest baby's birth. There's no way to know until the baby is born if the fibroid is going to cause heavy bleeding. If it does and the medical team is unable to control the bleeding through the use of medications and fundal massage, she will have to have surgery to remove "fiby" and control the bleeding. In this case Mother Hen's little Chicklet will need some breastmilk to get by on until she's off her meds and can nurse safely. Initially she had arranged for a friend's milk to be available, she has several 1oz bags of breastmilk in her freezer. Unfortunately this milk is intended for an 8 month old baby, and as we know breastmilk composition changes with the baby's age and of those really awesome things nature built into our really awesome bodies. So really, this was never ideal, but filled a potential need. Well, as we know, Christa had to go and have a preemie (29 weeks) and is now lactating like a crazy woman. She estimates on the order of about 30oz a day and sweet baby ella barely gets any right now as her feedings are largely contingent on her health and medications right now. So now, if Mother Hen needs it, she has fresh pumped NEWBORN breastmilk just down the road!

If you remember from my nursing story with Aiden, it started with much fuss after he puked up all the mucous lining in his tiny tummy and left him feeling hugely starving and unsatisfied with colostrum. We had to supplement with formula using an SNS system a couple times a day for the first couple days. Well, initially Mother Hen was going to either pump a little for me in case Chase needed it OR just directly nurse him for me so he won't have to have formula. This was always something we were unsure of because Mother Hen seems to make just enough milk for HER baby and never had a great deal of success with pumping. Well, again, Christa to the rescue, with her huge and growing store of breastmilk, she's going to set aside a little milk in case I need it for Chase or directly nurse him.

So what does Christa get? Well, Christa is in a funny spot, her milk supply is good right now, pumping is going well, but it's likely it could be as much as two more months before her baby is home, and she spends limited time skin to skin with Ella because of her health. Evidence has shown that sometimes pumping alone is not enough stimulation for the breasts to keep supply up to adequate levels. So Christa will have access to Chase and to the Chicklet for direct nursing if her supply starts to dip and she needs a boost to keep things going.

There is a great deal of controversy around arrangements like many ways this constitutes wet-nursing. Many people think it's wrong, or unhygeinic, or gross, or or nurse another mother's baby. People often ask "well what if the mother isn't healthy," "what if baby has thrush," "what if mom is on meds," and so forth? This is a concern with donor milk as well as direct wet-nursing. However we are all familiar with eachother's lifestyles and trust one none of this is an issue. Breastfeeding isn't a sexual act, simply an act of nurturing, so there is nothing obscene or wrong about nursing another baby who needs to be nursed. With the three of us, soon ALL to be lactating (albeit out of order... ) we have our bases covered to provide the best for our babies' health and wellness.

So what do YOU think about wet-nursing and sharing breastmilk with other mothers? Would you nurse another woman's baby if it was needed? Would you take donated milk from a friend if you needed it? what about a stranger? Would you let another woman nurse your baby if you were in a situation where you could not? Please, share your thoughts and experiences!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Birth Story of Chicken Little

Before I deliver my second child I'd like to take the opportunity to relive my first delivery experience. I am going in with the same idea this time around, but have found a voice and support staff that agree with me. I am hoping for a healing birth.

Chicken Little's incubation period was extremely typical and problem free. I saw an OB the entire time, even though my heart and head told me that midwife was the way to go. I am a creature of habit, and having gone to this particular OB/GYN office for 10+ years it was hard to
consider making a switch.

I saw the same OB the entire pregnancy until 38 weeks. She was off delivering a baby at my appointment time, so I was handed off to a different OB. It was at this appointment that interventions started that I never even saw coming. I remember this internal exam being particularly painful, I chalked it up to just being so used to the other OB. Two years later I have come to the conclusion that this OB stripped my membranes without my permission. I feel completely violated and angry that someone would decide to damage my perfect pregnancy in this way.

That night after watching some evening television I noticed my pajamas were damp upon standing up to go to bed. I thought it was unusual, but in the end ignored my wandering mind figuring that it was either sweat from the hot August night, or maybe I had finally turned into one of those pregnant ladies that had bladder control issues.

A few days later things started to get quite funky. I had a horribly itchy private area and could barely control myself. I assumed I was getting some type of yeast infection. I called my OB office and they bumped up my 39 week appointment by a few days and got me in. Tests revealed no yeast infection, but a lot of bacteria. They gave me a cream to use in order to stop the itching and that was that. During my appointment with the OB she noted a concern about the size of my baby. She wanted to order an ultrasound to check on babies size and he had not done a whole lot in the last few weeks. For whatever reason, they couldn't get me in for an ultrasound for 4 DAYS!!! I kept telling myself that if it were serious they would have got me in right away, but it was definitely a stressful week.

Come Friday September 5th at 11:20 we were ready for our appointment. Rooster and I had planned on dining at one of my favorite restaurants afterwards. A huge mistake on my part at this point was skipping my midmorning snack thinking I would totally pig out at the restaurant. Note to self - always load up on liquids and food before an ultrasound... especially towards the end of pregnancy. The ultrasound revealed that I had extremely low amnio fluid. First off.... DUH, because I hadn't eaten for 3 hours and secondly... amnio fluid had been slowly leaking for 8 days! The OB ordered an immediate induction. They stripped my membranes (this time with my permission) and sent me to the hospital.

I called my parents and our doula to let them know the baby was coming today. At the hospital I came upon a whole new set of problems. Having a nurse that supports your idea of labor is key in making a pleasant experience. I arrived at the hospital a completely overwhelmed and terrified first time mom armed with a natural birth plan. The nurse actually laughed at my birth plan and said that I was being mean to deny myself pain medications. I let her comments roll off of me as I had bigger things to worry about, but this should have been my first clue to request a change in nursing staff. I was stuck with her abuse for about 8 more hours.
I now know that you can "fire" a nurse... but that isn't something they always advertise to you. As a scared first time mom I just took abuse for 8 hours... never again.

The nurse broke my water and attempted to put an internal monitor (but CL wouldn't cooperate - YAY!!). With just the membrane stripping and broken water I was contracting and progressing very well. The nurse mentioned that she didn't think we'd need to use pitocin. I was so relieved! Not 30 minutes later the nurse came in and snuck a bag of pitocin on my IV pole. We were completely blindsided!! I was in a scared, dark, angry place - but wasn't standing up for myself or my labor experience. This is not where you want to be as a woman in labor... you should be relaxed, calm, and participating in your labor.

I did the usual stuff of sitting on the birth ball, taking baths/showers, walking the halls, and swaying. It was intense as the nurse kept coming in every 15-20 minutes and increasing my pitocin. She would make rude comments like "You're still smiling, it must not hurt yet," even though I was totally using all my energy to embrace the pain and not turn it into suffering. I firmly believe she had the opposite goal.

Around 7pm there was a shift change that probably saved my labor from turning into another "emergency" c-section from pitocin distress on the fetus. The new nurse came in and cut my pitocin dose IN HALF!!! She informed me that this was "your labor and we're going to do it your way." I immediately relaxed and swiftly dilated. It's amazing what feeling like you are in a comfortable environment will do for your labor!

While laying on my left side in bed with only my husband and doula in the room I suddenly thought that I was crowning. My doula peaked under the sheet and confirmed my thought, and quickly got the nurse. The nurse pushed the "little red button" and then the "big red button" and within minutes the room was full of resident and student doctors. They all tried to shake my hand and introduce themselves, which I thought was a little odd... within a few minutes and with very little effort on my part my son was born into this world. I don't even remember pushing, I just know I was making low moaning noises and he just came flying out.

For more information about "pit to distress" check out these links;“pit-to-distress”-a-disturbing-reality/“pit-to-distress/”-part-2-top-6-ways-to-protect-yourself-from-unnecessary-harmful-interventions/

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Eleanor Dayle-birth story!

Ella, 2 lbs 10 oz, 15 in, b. 10-2-10 at 6:34 PM
I think she looks like a little gnome here! <3

I was the last one due but the first to have my new baby! She's now almost 3 days old and here is my birth story! We've already started our breastfeeding journey, so there will be lots of future posts regarding that, especially since as of right now, I'm an exclusive pumper again! 

On October 2, I woke up with very elevated BPs. I ate my breakfast but then the nurse informed me that there was a good chance I would deliver that day because the preexlampsia was obviously getting worse. I was told no more food until we knew more. While I was obviously upset by the fact that we were looking at delivering at 29w2d, I had a sense of peace about it. I realized that at this point, I had no control over the situation and all I could do was be strong and go forward for our new baby. Within 2 hours, they thought they had me stabilized and my labs came back perfect so we were told no delivery. I ordered lunch early (thank GOD!) and ate it when it came up. Literally right after I finished the last bite of lunch, my BPs shot back up. We were told again there was a possibility of delivery and no more food. This was at 12:00 PM. I decided to take a nap because I knew that if Ella was coming today, I would need what strength I could get. Shortly thereafter, one of our pastors came to visit us and we said a prayer for Ella and our family. It was immediately after she left that the doctor and nurse came in and said they couldn't get me to stabilize and it was no longer safe for me to be pregnant. The doctor explained to me that while yes, they could probably keep me pregnant for maybe another day by using multiple different blood pressure medications, at this point they were just chasing the BP, trying to get it to temporarily stay down. Once they got it down, it would only stay down for a few minutes before immediately shooting back up. If we waited, we would chance my severe preeclampsia getting even worse which could lead to an emergency c-section as opposed to a planned one. In the case of an emergency c-section, they would probably have to do general anesthesia and I wouldn't be awake for my birth. I told her no, that's absolutely what I do NOT want. I may have no control over when and how this birth is done, but I at least want to experience my birth. Regardless of whether it's major surgery, it was still the birth of my child and I wanted to be there for it. So she told me she was going to deliver triplets and then I was next. We called Constance, our doula, and started making phone calls.

Earlier in the day, I'd felt that sense of peace and it was still borderline...borderline with absolute panic. I tried to keep calm because I knew I needed to be strong for Ella and for myself but millions of thoughts rushed through my head. Mainly that I simply was NOT ready for her to be born 11 weeks early!! I broke down and cried multiple times and when they came in to get me, I was beside myself upset. I had described to the doctors and nurses my terrible experience with anesthesiology in my last c-section and the anesthesiologist came in and talked to me about the anxiety I felt regarding the whole situation. She was an absolute angel. I leaned on her the entire birth, it was like she was there for me and me only. We were unable to have both Constance (my doula) and Shane in the operating room, so she became my second support person. I originally thought this would never work but she was beyond amazing. I don't know how I could have gotten through this without her. She helped keep me focused and calm, especially once Shane went with Ella! 

I was brought back to the OR and prepped for surgery. I cried and cried but I was trying SO HARD to keep myself calm because I wanted to make sure that this birth was MINE and it wasn't taken away from me!! I kept talking to myself and visualizing all of the women before me that I cared for who had been in labor. I drew from their strength and leaned upon their spirits. This helped me immensely. It calmed me down and I finally stopped crying. Annie, the anesthesiologist, came and kept eye contact with me and rubbed my face and shoulders while softly speaking to me the entire time. Shane was on my right side, holding my hand. I was very calm and collected. There were a few times where the pressure turned almost into pain as they worked on getting Ella from my body and I had moments of brief panic but Annie stopped them immediately by working on deep breathing and soft speaking with me. 

 I could tell that she was about to come out because I felt and incredible amount of pressure and, oddly enough, I felt the urge to bear down and push her out!! I had NO idea I would feel this way, especially since she was being taken via c-section. I obviously couldn't push and didn't need to but there was no doubt that the urge to bear down was there. My body was attempting to make it as natural as possible. Immediately after I felt that, they said that she was coming out. I can't explain to you how rewarding it was to be able to feel that natural compulsion to push my baby out. I didn't get to do it, and I'll never know what it's like, but it was a sensation that truly allowed me to feel a little more healed by this birth.

As soon as she was born, Shane took my birth necklace that my doula and two very close girlfriends had made and blessed for me and put it in my hand while he went back with Ella. Once he was gone, I used this as a focusing object to help get through the remainder of the c-section. He was with Ella and I was with Annie. Again, I thank God that she was there because she really allowed me to draw strength from her! I clung to my necklace and pictured all the women there with me, being my strength and peace. I kept telling myself that this was MY birth and while it wasn't ideal, our baby was here and she would be okay.

 It was very shortly after that that they came out and told me that not only was Ella doing very well but she was actually BREATHING ON HER OWN!! They were able to bring her to me and while I wasn't able to hold her, I got to touch her face and blanket cradled body while kissing her cheeks for several minutes. She was doing so well that she didn't need any extra help and we got to share some special skin on skin contact, even if it was only my fingers and face. The picture to the right was the very first moment I laid eyes on our sweet baby girl. 

We were told that Ella didn't need to go to the Level III NICU because she was doing SO well on her own. She'd need to go to the special care nursery at Abbott and while there was a possibility (and still is a possibility) she will need to be brought to the NICU at Children's Hospital, it wiould only be  for a short period because of how amazing she was doing. My amazing doula, Constance, met me in recovery and we talked about the birth and she held my hand while they stabilized me. 

Once I was stabilized, they wheeled me up on the gurney to the next floor up to be able to see Ella. I wasn't able to sit up or hold her, but I stuck my hand in her isolette and we held hands for a long time. She had a wonderful grip in that teeny, tiny hand and was gasping for breathe, but appeared to be calmed by my touch and soothing whispers. I told her how much I loved her and rubbed her hands and chest. The nurse explained to us that while she was struggling for oxegyn, and she had amniotic fluid in her lungs, she was doing really, really well. She said that they almost never get 29 week gestation babies up there because they don't do this well. She explained that while Ella may need to be moved to the NICU if she got worse, she probably wouldn't be there long because of how great she was already doing. She said that it'd be some shakey first couple of days but that Ella was a major fighter. She kicked and cried at the nurses the entire time and that, she said, was amazing, especially for her gestational age. She said they had no doubts she was going to thrive and do amazing because she had a major fighting streak in her! 

Was this my ideal birth plan? Absolutely not. Do I have guilt? Yes. However, for an unplanned c-section, at 29w2d, this was the best it could be. I had amazing support from my anesthesiologist, my husband, my doula and all the women in my life who were spiritually there for me, allowing me to draw on their strength. The fact that I felt the urge to bear down was SUCH a rewarding experience and brought me a lot of healing. 

(Ella) Eleanor Dayle Johnson
Born 10-02-2010 
2lbs 10 oz, 15 inches long
6:34 PM at Abbott Northwestern Hospital