September 17, 2014

The Breastfeeding Diaries: Elizabeth from Chasin' Mason

Hi everyone! I'm Elizabeth. Wife to Seth. Mama to Mason. And blogger over at Chasin' Mason. I'm so excited to be here today sharing our breastfeeding experience! Though Mason is now two years old, I still remember our breastfeeding journey quite well.

I'm a planner. I like to have things organized and know what will happen when. So when I was pregnant, I got information on maternity leave and benefits and all that fun stuff way in advance (earlier than my HR department thought I needed it, but hey, I wanted to be prepared). When I was pregnant, before I even had Mason, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. And I also knew that I would need to go back to work when he was three months old, which would lead to pumping at work. I had a lot of anxiety about where I would pump once I went back to work. I work at a bookstore at a community college and there isn't a lot of privacy anywhere. You see, we have security cameras...everywhere. Well everywhere except for the bathroom and offices that have too many windows or no doors at all. Obviously I wasn't going to pump in the bathroom or in an office with no door. So, I started planning early. I contacted the Director of the Health Center and she so graciously offered to let me to come over to pump whenever I needed to. I had my plan in place. I thought I had all my ducks in a row... I had a pump, I had the parts and the bottles, I had the place, and I had a fridge to keep the milk in. I was set...or so I thought.

Then, July 18, 2012 happened and I became a mom! It was the most amazing experience I had ever had. (You can read his birth story here). I knew I wanted to try to breastfeed him right away and the hospital and the nurses were all about that. They immediately brought him over to me and we started feeding. He actually did quite well the first time and I was pleasantly surprised. I even thought "wow, this breastfeeding thing is going to be easy!". Ahh, naive first mom thoughts. Things were actually pretty good at the hospital, but, I think, mainly because there was always a nurse who could help me if I needed help.

We went home a couple days after Mason was born and I was on my own. I mean, my husband was there and he was so, so supportive, but, I mean, how much can he know  about how a boob or how breastfeeding work? I struggled with the right "hold" to hold Mason so he could latch on. I struggled with trying to get him to latch. And knowing if he was actually latched. I struggled with knowing if he was actually getting any milk. He would cry. I thought he was hungry. I would try to feed him more but, again, I had no idea if he was eating or getting enough. I asked for advice from my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. They suggested I supplement with some of the free samples of formula I had been sent in the mail. So I did. I also made an appointment with the lactation consultant at the hospital.

When Mason was born, he weighed 7lbs. 8oz. When we went to our appointment, he weighed 7lbs. 1oz. This was only a week-ish or two after he was born. Now I know it is normal for babies to lose weight, but that seemed awfully low to me. The lactation consultant even commented on it. She tried to help me get him to latch and even she had a hard time. We tried a nipple shield and that helped a little, but not too much. She had weighed Mason at the beginning of the appointment and again at the end of the appointment and determined that he had not gotten enough milk. We supplemented with formula. She suggested I take some vitamins (supplements? I think it's called Fenugreek?) to stimulate milk production as well as pumping. 

At first, I was devastated. I felt like a failure as a mom

Why can't I breastfeed my own son? Why am I not producing enough milk? Doesn't my body know I just had a baby and he needs milk? 

Society teaches you that moms breastfeed their babies - that mother's milk is best - and I couldn't provide that to my son. I was so upset. I had been a mom for a week and I had already failed my son. I went home and continued trying to breastfeed. I wasn't done trying. I called my OB/GYN and asked about the supplements. She prescribed them that same day and I went to get them and started taking them. I took them for ten days. I also continued pumping. Everyday. Multiple times a day. My husband and I would both wake up in the middle of the night and he would feed Mason a bottle while I pumped. But pumping was awful. Awful. It hurt. A lot. It also took me away from my baby. And the best (worst) part... I produced 1 oz on each side, maybe 2 oz. Maybe. On a good day. I would save what little breast milk I made and mix it with formula when we would feed him. 

And then he would cry. 

I couldn't figure out what was wrong. I continued pumping but stopped mixing it with formula on a few feedings because I thought it was the breast milk that was causing him to cry. That didn't help. He still cried. I cried. We took him to the doctor. They didn't really know what was wrong but they suggested switching to a different formula (we were still using the free samples of Enfamil Newborn at the time). They gave us some free samples of Gerber GoodStart and we tried that. And amazingly enough, it worked! No crying after feedings! ... for like a week. And then it started all over. I remember one afternoon when my husband was back at work that I couldn't get Mason to sleep because he was crying so much. I rocked him. I put him in his swing. I did every thing I could think of. Nothing worked. So, I put him back in his swing, "shushed" him, and cried. Really cried. I couldn't help it. I had no idea how to help my poor baby who was just crying for me to help him. I felt like a failure again.

I asked all my friends and family what they thought could be wrong and did some research online. I give my friend Brooke full credit as to how we figured out what was wrong with Mason - he had silent reflux. Silent reflux is different from regular reflux where he spits up, but swallows it instead of throwing it up. He had all the symptoms. We took Mason back to the pediatrician and I explained what was happening. I was fully prepared to fight for what I thought I needed, but he agreed and suggested we start Mason on Zantac. I asked about switching formulas as well to Similac Alimentum (hypoallergenic formula) and he said no. I should keep one constant if we were starting Zantac. So we did that.... and he was still crying. I knew I needed to do something. My mommy instincts told me something was wrong. So, my husband and I made the decision to switch to Similac Alimentum. And it made a world of difference. Mason was like night and day. My baby was HAPPY again. And I cried tears of happiness. While I'm sure my pediatrician knows what he's talking about, I'm so happy we decided to switch his formula when we did and not wait.

Then on Tuesday, August 28, 2012 we started our monthly purchases of a 6-pack of Similac Alimentum for $170. That stuff was liquid gold but it kept my baby happy and healthy and full and I didn't care. It could cost $170 a can and I would have still bought it. Mason was our whole world and we would do anything to keep him healthy. At his two month check up he weighed 11 lbs. 5 oz. and all my fears were immediately turned into relief. I knew I made the right decision. And while this decision did not include breastfeeding, it included him being happy and healthy. I needed to realize that how Mason got fed was not the most important thing - it was THAT Mason got fed.

The whole experience was a very trying one. And one that I did not picture in the beginning. I had gotten everything I needed for breastfeeding, not bottle feeding. I had already formed this amazing connection with my son after carrying him for all those months and I was so looking forward to that special mother/son bond that I was going to continue. My whole world was turned upside down. I was a healthy 28 year old and couldn't understand why I wasn't producing enough milk. But, as they say, everything happens for a reason. And I fully believe that. And, to be honest, I think bottle feeding was actually a good thing for our family. I still fully felt that special bond with Mason as I would hold him and feed him. I fully feel like we still got our special mother/son time. But, in addition, my husband got special father/son time that he might not have gotten, or at least in the same way. There's something about that bond you get when you feed your child, knowing you are helping them thrive and grow. Looking back, there's probably a
million other things I could have done, but at the time, I felt that the decisions I made were in the best interest of my son and I have no regrets at all.

Be sure to catch up with the rest of the Breastfeeding Diaries at the top of my navigation bar.

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September 16, 2014

Let's Make a Busy Box! my case busy bag. Same thing. Last week some of my blogger bffs and I shared our busy box exchange...and this week we are sharing how we made them and asking all of you to link up your own busy boxes with us! Yay!

Hudson and I drew Emily  and Owen from Dear Owen as our pick so we got busy putting a little something together for him!

First of all, I'm not a crafter. Well, in my previously life (before Hudson) I was. But having a baby sucked that skill right out of me. So all of the things I made are super easy!

I found these adorable Brown Bear printables them so much. I picked a few of my favoites and sent them to kinkos to be printed on nice card stock. They are all the animals from Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, which is one of our favorite books. I thought Owen might enjoy a little game of memory with these cards. I tested them out on Hudson and it's one of his new favorite games! He doesn't understand that when you flip a card over you are supposed to remember where it is, but still has fun searching for the match.

 photo IMG_8451.jpgI also printed these cards for Owen to match up front and back ends. Definitely a skill Hudson didn't quite understand yet but with practice I'm sure he'll get it soon!

 photo IMG_8455.jpgThe cards were so stinkin' cute. 

 photo IMG_8457.jpgTo go along with the color theme, I took an old egg carton and glued colored paper squares on the bottom and then gave Owen a bunch of pom poms to sort in to colors. Hudson LOVES doing this so I hope Owen did too.

 photo IMG_8462.jpgI found these cute soft blocks at target and drew some shape patterns on paper for Owen to match up...or color...which ever he liked. 

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And put everything in a cute little bag! This was so fun and so easy to do!

Hudson loved his busy box from Colleen and Owen from Meet the Sullivans!

Check out your hosts below and be sure to link up your busy box ideas!

Colleen at Meet the Sullivans
Emily at Dear Owen
Michelle at Ten June
Natasha from Schue Love
Erin from Hello Erin

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September 15, 2014

I'm sensing a theme here....

 photo IMG_8643copy.jpgWe had a nice little weekend over here. Filled with lots of laughs, oreo eating, and playing outside. And lots of pee. The theme for the weekend was officially "mommy cleans up a lot of pee"....and it had nothing to do with potty training....because we are totally not ready for that mess. Hudson peed through his diaper at bedtime twice over the weekend and even managed to soak his pillow. How that happened I may never know. And one of our cats peed on Hudson's pottery barn anywhere chair. Which. Gross. And super hard to clean. 

So that was fun. 

 photo IMG_8690.jpgBesides all the pee, we still managed to squeeze in some fun. But taking a photo with a two year old squirmy boy is darn near impossible. 

 photo IMG_8688copy.jpgBe still my heart. This one's going in the wedding slide show. My husband took Hudson to get his hair cut on Friday and I can't get over how much older he looks. He is going to be going off to college and getting married before I know it. Time, please slow down.

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In other news, toddler emotions are like a roller coaster.  

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Being two is hard.

How was your weekend?

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September 12, 2014

Oh Hey Friday!

Oh Hey Friday!!! Good to see you! Let's do this....

{one} Thank you all for your sweet comments on yesterday's confessions post. Sometimes it's hard to be honest and put yourself out there but you made it easy. You all mean more to me than you will ever know. 

{two} Let's talk dining room chairs. The ones we have now are mis-matched and the seat is fabric covered. They are cute and all but I'm not in love. And they are very hard to clean, especially when a certain someone runs around the house with sticky hands and gets spaghetti sauce/chocolate ice cream all over them. I am in love with these chairs from Restoration Hardware. I also plan to have a farm house table built soon (ahem, husband, ahem) to go with them. What do you think?

{three} I talked about potty training in this post, but our potty seats finally arrived! (for the record, he likes both of the types we bought). Two nights ago, Hudson asked to sit on the potty so I put the seat down for him and plopped him down. He sat there for awhile talking, nothing happened, then he said "all done!" Well. I didn't put his diaper back on because it was time to go take a bath. 30 seconds after I took him off the potty he peed all over the kitchen floor. And then while I was cleaning that up, he peed on the living room carpet. Oh. My Word. I am SO not looking forward to actually starting potty training. 

{four} In my comments yesterday a few of you mentioned you would like to start getting involved with sponsored posts. Working with sponsors can be a fun way to engage your readers while bringing in a little extra income! I have a few recommendations for anyone who is interested. The first is Pollinate Media. I'm a little biased, but Pollinate is really is a wonderful company for bloggers seeking fun and exciting ways to work with brands. You need to have a minimum of 20,000 page views per month (set up Google Analytics to figure out this number). You can see a few examples of work I've done for Pollinate here, here, here, and here. If you do not have that many page views, a great alternative is their sister company, Weave Made Media. Another company I've enjoyed working for is Linqia. They set a budget for you based on your blog stats and are usually pay per click for campaigns.  You can see examples of my work with them here, here, and here. If you have any questions about working for these companies let me know! (and while you're at it, I could use some more clicks on the Pull-Ups links in this post).

{five} Last night my husband and I hit up a massive kids church consignment sale. Hudson made out big time. Lots and lots of trucks, some animals, a Lightning McQueen, Woody and Bullseye, a puzzle, and a ton of books. I don't know who's more over the great deals we scored or Hudson when he sees them all.

Happy Friday!

Today I'm linking up with September Farm and The Farmer's Wife!

And I'm also linking up with A Little Bit of EverythingMomfessionals, and Grace and Love.

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September 11, 2014

Thursday Confessions

These are my bullet list form.

- I've succumbed to the julie-stress trifecta, in which I don't get enough sleep, forget to wash my hair, and eat a few too many bowls of ice cream. So you can imagine what that trio has done for my self-esteem.

- My theory is if you dress for fall, it will come. Today it's only going to be 60 it worked! Also, time to clean my mirror.

- If it fits in the dishwasher, it goes in the dishwasher. #NoTimeForDirtyDishes

- I dropped a bottle of red nail polish on our carpet. And on myself. In my panic to clean up the carpet I somehow got nail polish in my armpit. MY ARMPIT. And in case you were wondering, there is no easy way to clean red nail polish out of carpet. I ended up cutting out the individual fibers that were stained red. And had my husband wipe down my armpit with nail polish remover. I'm sure when he said "I do" he never imagined what that would eventually entail.

- I still haven't taken Hudson's 2 year photos. In my defense, the week leading up to his birthday he had a black eye. And this week it has been really rainy. And how many more excuses do I need before I hire a professional to do them for me?

- Hudson's 2 year photo book also hasn't been started yet. Neither has his 1 year photo book. Someone please make them for me?

- I just finished The Fault in Our Stars. Holy tears.

- In all seriousness, in July my husband and I faced the reality that I might loose my job due to "right-sizing"....which caused an unwanted amount of stress in our lives, and also made us make some big changes in our spending. Unfortunately it also made me say yes probably a few too many times to sponsored content here on the blog, and for that I apologize. It is not my intention at all to have so much sponsored content, and for those of you who commented on those posts anyway, I am sending you a big fat hug. Thank you for being loyal readers and sticking with me when times are tough. Sponsored content helps provide for my little family and justify the time it takes to post here 5 times a week. If you blog regularly, you know how much time that is! The job stress also caused me to say no to a few of you who wanted to do birthday gift swaps, guest posts etc. Thank you all for being so understanding. My goal is to get back to what I love about blogging, which is relationship building. Commenting on blogs, replying to comments, and finding and connecting with other bloggers is truly my passion. And God provides. People I work with read this blog, but if you want to know details about my work situation, please email me. #ChangeIsGood #ThingsAreLookingUp

- Big two year old boys get to finally face forward in the car. And Hudson is loving it. Also, Buzz goes with us everywhere...I am now on the hunt for a bath time appropriate Buzz and also a bedtime Buzz....because both have become a struggle when Buzz can't join him. Send reinforcements please.

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