Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Still Waiting for How You Raised Awareness....

I've had a few "words" on Facebook with friends who have invited me to play the latest "Breast Cancer Awareness Game" asking women to post a fake pregnancy status. My response to being invited to play this game is letting people know that I will not be participating in the game, and the reason this won't happen is because it is insensitive to the many women left infertile from their cancer treatments.

Of course if you do not have someone who has been left infertile from their cancer treatments it is easy not to realize the pain of that game. You're not a bad person and we all make mistakes. But, there are a handful of people that have challenged the insensitive part of the game by saying that they have cancer survivors in their family who are playing the game and that they are raising awareness of breast cancer so it is important to play the game. Well... I've watched these peoples walls... and I'm still waiting for the part when you raised awareness for breast cancer. Most of their walls look a little something like this:

Cindy: 18 weeks and craving pickles...
June: What??? Are you pregnant?
Sarah: Huh? Really!!!??
Michele: Ha ha ha, funny!
Hannah: Are you serious? Congrats!
Greg: No way!

And so on and so forth. K... so.... where was the part that you raised awareness for breast cancer? I guess I missed it. Was it in the chain email going around?

Ok pretty ladies, it's that time of year again, in support of breast cancer awareness!! So we all remember last years game of writing your bra color as your status?.....or the way we like to have our handbag handy?
Remember last year so many people took part that it made national news and, the constant updating of status reminded everyone why we're doing this and helped raise awareness!!
Do NOT tell any males what the status' mean, keep them guessing!!
And please copy and paste (in a message )this to all your female friends to see if we can make a bigger fuss this year than last year!!! I did my part... now YOUR turn !
Go on ladies...and let's have all the males guessing!
It's time to confuse the men again (not that its really that hard to do :)) Everyone knows it makes their brains work wonders on what we're talkin about!! The idea is to choose the month you were born and the day you were born. Pass this on to the girls only and lets see how far it reaches around. The last one about the bra went round allovr the world.
So you'll write...
I'm (your birth month) weeks and I'm craving (your birth date)!!! as your status.
Example: Feb 14th= I'm 2 weeks and craving Choclolate mints!!


Days of the month:
7-Dairy Milk
9-Peanut Butter Cups
10-Meat Balls
12-Bubble Gum
13-Hershey's Kisses
14-Chocolate Mints
16-Resse's Fastbreak
18-Cherry Jello
21-Creme Eggs
23-Gummy Bears
24-Gummy Worms
25-Strawberry Pop Tarts
27-Mini Eggs
28-Kit-Kat Chunkie
29-Double Chocolate Chip Chrunchy Cookies
31-Chocolate Cake

Nope... not really in there either. Seems to be more focused on playing a practical joke on the guys.

Instead of playing these silly thoughtless insensitive status games... try this instead... set up a monthly boob check buddy system with your girlfriends. Once a month post a status reminding each other to take time out of the day to check your boobs for any lumps or suspicious spots. Pick up some Feel Your Boobies kits. Take some time to look through the photo slideshow for The Scar Project to see real breast cancer survivors, www.thescarproject.org.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Friends Who Tandem Together....

Friends who tandem together.... stay together... 

Mother Hen and Mama Christa happily tandem nursing their toddlers and babies at a playdate. Boobie break time! Thankfully we had a third person to finally snap a photo of our boob fest. Usually one starts nursing and then they all pile on! Chain reaction style.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

First Blogiversary

Hey - so how about that! We've been around for a year! Let's take a peek back at our most popular blog posts of the year;

"Early Breastfeeding Obstacles" - We currently have six posts in our "obstacle" series and they have been passed around quite a bit. So happy to everyone who has shared them with new and expecting mothers. I can only imagine how valuable the information was to them, and we hope it made their journey into breastfeeding much easier and pleasant. The information is timeless, and we hope you will continue to spread the word. Catching people early so they do not fall for booby traps just helps to break the myth that breastfeeding is impossible.

"PSA about how Facebook Walls are Not People." After losing a few real life friends over how they incorrectly perceived me to be based on my Facebook wall I wrote this public service announcement. I hoped that it would prevent myself from losing even more friends, and I also thought it really applies to anyone who posts a lot of information. Online communication is difficult and often times I think it is easy to have a picture painted of yourself that is ultimately totally untrue.

"Why All the Breastfeeding Posts? " This also came about the same time as the PSA post. I was still hurt and reeling from the reaction of real life friends, and I also started to wonder what most people must think of me with the near daily breastfeeding informational posts. So, I wanted to clear the air and explain why it was important to me to continue to spread the word.

"Don't Even Tell Me You Tried" An online acquaintance of mine reached out for advice when someone in her life was completely and utterly setting herself up for failure of breastfeeding. It still makes my blood boil when I go back through and think of the details of that week and how this woman clearly really did not want to breastfeed. Lies like hers are so damaging to the world of breastfeeding, because that doubt just crushes so many new mothers will to breastfeeding. Any little obstacle and we assume that we must be that rare case of mom who just cannot breastfeed. Doubt is a horrible thing.

"Guest Blog: You're Doing a Real Great Job..." This was one of our wonderful guest blog posts from a fan who wanted to share her horrible experience of nursing in public. It takes a strong woman to stand in the face of discrimination and stand her ground.

We'd also like to pay a little homage to other sites that have been linking and directing traffic our way!
Thank so much to....
Life As A Reader
Melissa Beck

When we started this blog, we really had no idea it would turn into the amazing thing that it has! We just wanted to talk about breastfeeding and our experiences. We all 3 had breastfed our first babies and fully intended on breastfeeding our second. But there was so much more to it. Our experiences, despite our success in breastfeeding, were so vastly different and it was obvious that not all breastfeeding stories are easy! We wanted to share our stories and insights and if people wanted to read about them? Well great! But we couldn't have known that The Good Letdown would become this amazing, supportive little corner of the online universe. We love our fans so much. Thank you for being a part of this! We can't wait for the next year (and the next, and the next...). We have lots of fun things planned for the second year!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bad Advice

When I was breastfeeding Olivia, as we approached the age of 1 I thought to myself, we've actually only been nursing 6 months, so it's not fair to either of us to wean. I'm just going to keep going. I didn't actually KNOW that people did this. When I googled toddler breastfeeding, I was astonished to learn I wasn't alone.
With Ella, the very IDEA of weaning at one never would have crossed my mind. Not even for a second. She'll be a year in 3 weeks (sob), and she still nurses throughout the night and at least every 3 hours during the day, although usually more. She can make it longer when I go to class (4.5 hours, with a snack of solids) but if the boobs are around, she's all up in the bizness.
Because we are approaching a year, I've been thinking about how some people DO wean at a year...and I really want to know how they do this. I'm not being judgmental, really I'm not. I'm honestly curious. If I were going to wean Ella at a year old, it'd be horrible. She's NO where near ready to wean and the idea of denying her breast just boggles my mind.
I decided to google "weaning at a year" to see what comes up. The first website is a website I absolutely detest. Every time I google something to do with parenting, this site comes up and the advice is almost always ::facepalm:: worthy. Kids Health article on Weaning frustrated me so much! They said:

Some experts say that after the first birthday is the best time to begin weaning because kids are more adaptable to change at that age. (A 2-year-old toddler, for example, is likely to be much more attached to breastfeeding and less flexible about giving it up.) A 1-year-old baby is also eating more solid foods and so may naturally lose interest in nursing. Engorgement will also become less of a problem for moms around this time because as the demand for breast milk decreases, so does milk production.
I mean, seriously...they are essentially saying if you nurse past a year, your toddler will be attached to you and be completely insatiable. ::facepalm...headdesk...sigh of frustration:: This blog post actually originally started as a question about weaning at one but now it's morphed into a frustrated blog post about getting bad information about breastfeeding. We see it all the time. We always try to correct it when we see it but it's like never ending. It can get so frustrating to encounter this ridiculous information all across the board.

As we approach our blogiversary (yeah, we're that dorky), I know I personally am looking back on why we started this blog. We started this blog because we wanted to share our experience about breastfeeding as well as provide support and information. We wanted to bust up the myths that are everywhere. As I was writing this post, and I came across some of these stupid webpages that exist, it really reminded me how important it is to keep this up. Keep up providing support. Keep up the information. The love.  The village.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

One Thousand Ninety Five Days and Counting....

September 5th, Labor Day, we celebrated Chicken Little's third birthday... and on a higher or lesser note depending on who you are... we celebrated my 1,095th day of breastfeeding (329 of those tandem nursing - does that make my total 1,424? I like to think so.....) I've only been away from him twice overnight - once when I broke my knee and the other when I went to have his baby sister. But I don't believe he's ever gone 24-hours without breastmilk straight from the tap even with that. I worked part time his first year of life, only being away twice a week for 2-3 hours at a time. He would get a bottle of freshly pumped breastmilk from that day, and on rare occasion get frozen stash if I was unable to pump enough.

Tandem Nursing 9/6/2011
Chicken Little age 3 years 1 day and Chicklett 10.5 Months
On average he probably still nurses 4-6 times a day. We pretty much operate on a "don't offer, don't refuse" basis - though I always just do it right before nap time out of habit. I'm sure if I laid him done and didn't offer it up he'd be asking for it before I could even inhale to utter the words "nigh nigh, see you later."

I have mixed feelings about this age. We are now within the normal natural range of weaning for a human. I often wonder how it is going to go... Will he just stop one day? Will it be gradual? When will he be ready? Will *I* be ready?

Then on the same token.... I could only be halfway done with his nursing journey. Will he be breastfed until he's 6? Will he go even longer than that? Will his younger sister wean first? Although we're not planning on having any more children, what if we did have a third? Will I have the stamina to keep up with that?

I know in some circles I am already treading on thin water by nursing such an "old" child. Not that I care what they think, but you wonder if your child will pick up on their mean vibe and start to think something is wrong with them.  The older they get the more defense I feel like I need to be... when really... why do I feel that way? Who cares what anyone else says. I know this is normal. I know this is good for everyone directly (and indirectly actually) involved.

I know the older they get the more shy I am about doing it in public. I've had a fairly innocent 'nursing in public' life having never been harassed. I'm almost afraid at what might happen should someone approach me. I might just run away crying... or I might set off a nuke. It'll probably depend on what kind of a day I'm having already... but there is no way to know in advance... In the past year my son has asked me for boobies twice while in public... and I denied him both times. :( Oddly enough both times I was with all the women here at the Good Letdown, so I couldn't have asked to be in a more supporting environment. But I just couldn't do it. The first time we were all out for breastfast with our spouses. I think Chicken Little was overwhelmed and wanted me... but I denied him several times and felt horrible about it. WHY??? I still don't really know. Was it the table full of seniors that were already eyeing our table up for having loud "naughty" children? Was it because I was hungry and just wanted to eat my food and be selfish? The second time he asked we were at an indoor play area and when I started to nurse Chicklett he came over and wanted a snack too. I don't know what planet he was on to think I was going to tandem nurse in public. I'm not that brave.

But this year, I'm going to suck it up. So rarely the occasion happens, but when/if it does... I'm not going to deny him. Mark my words! Okay, maybe in the event of tandem I will make him wait his turn.... but other than that I will be nursing a toddler in public. THE END.

Wanna calculate how long you've been breastfeeding? This should make it easier - check out the time calculator. You're lucky... I had to do it manually... Ha ha ha

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sleep, Nursing Strikes, and Teething

Remember how I was trying to get Chase to sleep in his own bed? Talk about bad timing guys! ::headdesk::

OK, so I couldn't figure out why I had so much success followed by so. much. FAILURE. We were making great progress, but unknown to me, Chase was working on top teeth. We had several nights of extended midnight parties, then Friday all the poo hit the fans. He was up for three hours, wouldn't nurse to sleep, wouldn't do ANYTHING, and was a crab monster. It then occurred to me he hadn't actually nursed (other than a very short dream feed) since 2 that afternoon...then he was up and wild for three hours that night. He woke up and partied AGAIN at 3 and AGAIN would not nurse. I was growing more and more concerned, my breasts were growing fuller and fuller, my heart was starting to panic. Saturday he would not nurse and was struggling with sleep...then I looked at his top gums.

The face of one seriously teething baby.
Oh dear. They were so so swollen and it looked like at least FOUR teeth were trying to come through.

At this point I throw in the towel on the bed switching because he clearly needed to be with me, and I needed to be sure that if he was willing to nurse, that he could. He did NOT have ample wet diapers on Saturday...and I watched the hours tick by without him taking the breast. In fact, aside from a few sips from a sippy, and three different bottles, he wasn't drinking anything! We gave him some advil in case the homeopathics weren't strong enough for him in the hopes that he would nurse. At nap time (about 24 hours in) I got naked, got him naked, and snuggled him in the dark for nap time. I got him to take 4.5oz from a bottle because he still refused to nurse.  It was kind of tricky because he had wanted nothing in his mouth all day, so as he was sucking his fingers, I dribbled milk between the two fingers so it would slowly go into his mouth...this worked, he relaxed, and I was able to trade the bottle for his fingers. Then I laid down with him in bed...and he latched on.

First nursing in 24 hours.
 Cue giant sigh of relief. 24 hours without actually nursing...I actually cried. The whole situation was so stressful. We napped, but he would not nurse again. We took a bath with some calming essential oils, and went about our day. He did not nurse again the whole day, in fact. We limited his solids, and offered breastmilk as well as water in varies sippy cups and bottles as well as offering the breast but he definitely wasn't taking in enough. I probably pumped 28 or so oz and he didn't even take half of that.

Then it was bedtime. I didn't give him advil since it didn't seem to help any more than the homeopathics and I don't like OTC pain meds for little kids (or myself if I can help it actually). We started bedtime late because of a MASSIVE storm that knocked out our power and that was rumbling away still at 9pm. But again, I got naked, got the baby naked, offered the breast and just let him snuggle with me to see if he would calm enough to dream feed. He was clearly tired but could not settle, I'm assuming because he was hungry. So...I snuck the bottle in his mouth to get him some milkies in the hopes he would settle down with just a little then go on to dream feed. He did half the bottle (maybe 2oz) then wanted no more. He just snuggled there next to me sleeping and I was just rocking and relaxing with him when suddenly...VOILA! He latched on and nursed like he meant it. FINALLY!

We got into bed and snuggled down for the night. He woke at least 3 or 4 times to nurse during the night (1 time to party, and the other time to cry as hard as his darling little body could cry...poor guy). I kept up with his homeopathics during his wakings and he nursed thoroughly. I thought we were over it. But this morning he refused to nurse again. I offered him a sippy of breastmilk with his breakfast and again, as before, he would take only sips. So I went to pump, filled a bottle, and we went out to run errands as a family. While we were out he started getting cranky in the Ergo and wanted to nap but clearly was hungry. I decided to go to a quiet spot and offer the breast again to see if he would take it. Thankfully he did, but not for long. I think just enough to take the edge off his hunger so he could sleep...but it was progress. He did not want the bottle or a sippy (all this wasted milk!) so I let it go and he took a nap. Once we got home it was obvious it was time for a solid nap. So, again, I took a bottle to the room just in case, bared the boobies and the baby, and rocked him...and he nursed....nursed NURSED!

He had two boobs for nap time then slept almost two hours. I think after 48 hours I'm ready to call his strike off. His teeth have not erupted yet, and he's clearly still uncomfortable, but he's back to breast right now. Clearly this is calling the victory a little early and I'm kind of tentative. I am, however, hopeful that our strike was only 2 days and we will nurse happily ever after from here forward. This was probably the hardest two days I've had with Chase, and that's saying a lot. I cried several times, I was so concerned I was destined to be stuck to a pump for weeks waiting for him to come back to breast full time. I was worried that I wouldn't have the stamina to see it through. I was terrified he was done, even though I know better.

The thing that is difficult to convey in the telling of our very stressful 2 days is that whenever I offered the breast I did so calmly and gently. If he didn't want it right away, he wasn't going to, so I didn't force the issue on him since that would only frustrate him further and perhaps create an aversion. It took a lot of deep breathing and talking myself down from panic about the whole situation. I was a bit of a wreck on Saturday and I was very lucky to have friends reminding me that it was a phase, that it would pass, and to just take care of him and keep pumping until he came back to the breast. Another reason why it is SO vital to have a solid support system behind you when nursing.

Tonight he will probably go back into his crib, depending on how the rest of the evening/afternoon goes. We'll stick with the homeopathics and nurse as much (or as little if that be the case) as he likes. I would say his latch is not so hot right now because he is trying to get comfortable...so I'm a little bit sore between that and the pumping. It's nothing a little nipple butter won't smooth out though.

Nursing strikes can be very worrisome and stressful. It is important to remember, however, before 1 year of age, if a baby stops nursing, they are NOT self-weaning. Weaning indicates that a baby is slowing reducing the amount and frequency of their nursing. Few children self-wean prior to the age of 2 although there are some opportunities to gently wean when baby is busy busy busy after the age of one. If your baby is not nursing as they seem like the should, do not automatically assume baby is weaning, first assume it is a nursing strike and work on breaking the strike. Make sure you get lots of support from your fellow mamas online or in real life because this is an emotionally difficult time. Our No Time For Nursing post has some wonderful tips compiled from personal experience as well as research to help with a baby who is refusing to nurse. I would like to add a few tips to this that I have learned (and been reminded of by my dear mama friends) during the last two days.

  1. As difficult as it is, try to remain calm, cool, and collected. Your baby can sense your mood. Before offering the breast, take some slow, deep breaths, try to get some snuggles in with your baby, laugh and tickle and cuddle.
  2. Get Nakey! Or at least topless, and get your baby, no matter his or her age, down to diaper. Skin to skin is calming for babies of all age. If you bedshare, nap with baby if you are able, the closeness and availability of the breast will encourage breastfeeding. Taking a warm bath helps to calm your nerves and baby's nerves as well as provide more skin to skin time.
  3. Don't force the baby to the breast. If baby isn't going to take the breast right away, generally he won't do it in 5 minutes or 10 minutes either. Just be cool about it. Give baby a kiss and send him on his way.
  4. Make sure baby is getting fed...sippy, cup, bottle, whatever. You don't want your baby getting dehydrated in the process.
  5. Protect your supply. Make sure you are effectively and regularly expressing milk (hand, pump, whatever works for you). Any refused feeding should be replaced by a thorough pumping. If you allow the milk to fill your breasts, your body will assume that it no longer needs to make that much milk. So make sure you keep removing the milk.
  6. You can diagnose the cause of the strike to death, but it won't do you any good. Just be persistent, calm, cool and collected. So many things may cause a baby to refuse nursing. In Chase's case it was encountering pain from teething while nursing, so that even when he wasn't in pain, he was afraid he would be at breast. Sometimes babies get startled when you gasp or jump because they bit you and are afraid to nurse. Often, there is no reason that anyone can put their finger on. Maybe a cold? Sore throat? Headache? Whatever, it doesn't really matter. Moving forward do lots of things to make it a pleasant and enticing experience. Sing to your baby, snuggle and tickle, play little games, chomp on little fingers and toes.
  7. Be patient. Chase's strike seems to have been short, but some last a week, two weeks, a month! It is very trying, it's emotionally exhausting, it's physically exhausting, but sticking it out, protecting your supply, and letting the baby come back to breast on his/her own terms will yield great payouts for you and for your baby.
Here are some resources I hope you will find useful should you find yourself in the midst of a nursing strike:

  • Kelly Mom (of course!): Regards any age baby not nursing, it isn't necessarily directly about nursing strikes, but the tips here are VERY useful if you are in the midst of a nursing strike. It also has helpful hints and techniques if you have a very young baby refusing the breast for any reason.
  • Mother and Child Health - Surviving a Nursing Strike, I am not all that familiar, but this article seems to have some good tips though some seem to be more appropriate for younger babies than mine. If I gave Chase my finger to suck on, he would bite it off. ;)
  • La Leche League:
  • Dr. Jay Gordon's Site: Nursing Strikes
  • I recommend checking out The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding for great information on strikes. The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers also has some good tips, but in general I do not recommend this book to moms, it's too much reading. It would serve you well to go look at the section on nursing strikes while you are in the book store or library and just leave it at that.
  • And for a little hope that THIS TOO SHALL PASS...Chronicle of a 40-day Nursing Strike
I hope that you find some helpful tips here and that this can help you weather your own situation. It's OK to KNOW that your baby isn't weaning, to KNOW that this too shall pass, to KNOW that this is temporary and still feel totally overwhelmed by emotion. I was shocked by my own reaction not only by Chase's refusal to nurse, but by the fact that each time he HAS nursed that I have cried a little and breathed a huge sigh of relief...that's I've felt tension and anxiety melt out of me with each successful nursing over this period of time. I felt like I held my breath for two days, but to me, no matter how long this could have lasted, it is worth it to see it through.

We here at The Good Letdown are here for you too, if you are in the middle of a strike and need mamas to reach out to, information, support, someone to tell you that it's going to be ok...you know where to find us!