August 27, 2014

The Breastfeeding Diaries: Morgan from Pampers & Pearls

 Hi, my name is Morgan and I blog over at Pampers & Pearls. I come from a breast family. No, not large chested women, but women who all exclusively breastfed. My mother breastfed my brother and I through the first year, my sister in law breastfed all my nieces and nephew through the first year, and even my mother-in-law breastfed my husband and his siblings until they were drinking out of a cup. Bottles just weren’t a thing in my family, and I assumed that I would breastfeed exclusively as well. Well you know what they say about assuming!

I gave birth to my son Wakeland on February 17, 2013. My labor was long, and just straight up sucked! Wake was occiput posterior, meaning the back of his skull was laying on the the back of my pelvis. He was head down...just not right side down. So every time I had a contraction his skull would push on my sacrum and send a shooting pain up my spine. It was terrible. Needless to say I got my epidural when I was 3cm. Other than that his birth was fine and he was perfectly healthy; 7lbs, 7oz, 21.5 inches long. Yes...very long. Now I know why I couldn’t sit towards the end of my pregnancy, his legs were legitimately up under my ribs. He was our little string-bean but latched on to the breast like a champ!! 
We packed him up after only 24 hours at the hospital and headed home. We were first time parents so everything was new to us. We just went with the flow whenever he seemed to need something. He ate for 45 minutes at a time, every 2-3 hours; this was “normal” for us. Looking back on it I now know why I was so exhausted; that schedule is ridiculous! For example, Wake would eat from 10 - 10:45pm, go to bed, and then be back up between midnight - 1am to eat again. This was giving both of us only 2 hour periods of sleep at a time. Then one day when he was about 2 weeks old, I sat on the couch and fed him for 2 hours straight. He took a 45 min nap and woke up hungry again! Everything was now going in reverse in an even worse direction! I was losing it! I called my pediatrician, mother in law, sister in law, etc... asking for help. They all gave me different advice; he’s just using me as a pacifier, my milk isn’t fatty/filling enough, I’m not making enough, and so on and so forth. So the first step was to try and increase/ fatten up my milk. I ate everything that I read/heard could do this; spoonfuls of coconut oil (BARF), peanut/almond butter, avocado, cheese, etc... I drank tons of water and an occasional dark beer. I tried it all...and nothing was making a difference. 

Finally at Wake’s 2 month appointment I told my pediatrician that something had to give. I was defeated and desperate. I don’t even want to tell you what my nipples felt/looked like. Wake was completely perfect and healthy so the pediatrician simply “diagnosed” him as a very hungry baby and said I would need to start supplementing with formula. It was suggested that I feed him on each breast for 15 mins at a time (total of 30) every 3 hours, and if he still seemed hungry, offer him 1-2 oz. of formula. Well, Wake was ALWAYS still hungry and he always took the extra formula.

Now I’m not an OCD person. The only thing on my birth plan was NO MIRRORS, I did not need to see my va-jay-jay in that state, gracias! Otherwise I went into my pregnancy and labor with zero pre-conceived notions or expectations. I was 100% confidant that between the doctors, my husband, and myself that we would all work together to make the right decisions for my baby as things progressed. However, the one thing I had planned on, not thinking it would be an issue, was breastfeeding. And here I was unable to keep up with my baby’s demands. I was sad. I felt like I had fail6y`1ed him as a mommy. However, as much as I vacillated about giving him formula (I hated the thought of pumping him with unnatural, manufactured stuff) he was finally full and satisfied. He was eating larger quantities of food over a shorter period of time which allowed both of us a little bit more sleep and peace.

As time went on Wake took the breast less and the bottle more. The bottle was easier; he didn’t have to work hard at sucking and the formula filled him up more too. By the time he was 6 months old I was completely dried up. It was bittersweet. I was sad to not have that intimate moment of cradling, connecting and providing for him, but now his eating was more independent which gave everyone in the family the opportunity to feed him.

Now I was really lucky when it came to work. I was a teacher, so with my maternity leave and having Wake in February I didn’t have to return to school until the very last week for finals. With this little bit of luck in timing we didn’t have to put him in daycare, and I was able (albeit very time consuming and painstakingly) to pump enough milk to get him through the week while I was back at work. I was also able to pump in my (empty and locked) classroom during my planning period and lunch break which kept my milk flowing. Then it was summer and I was right back on schedule with my little nugget. BUT with how much Wake was progressing away from the boob at the time I can only assume that we would not have even made it to the 6 month mark at all had I had to go back to work permanently right after maternity leave.

Looking back on it, I did not really have a difficult time. However everything was strange and new and difficult to process when you have a specific idea of how you want to raise your child. I had this vision of effortlessly breastfeeding Wake like Giselle (that bitch) until he was over a year. I’d never heard of anyone else experiencing something like this before. But once I started talking about it, and asking questions, so many people told me they had the exact same thing happen with their babies. I had always only ever thought people exclusively breastfed or formula fed, but apparently supplementing very hungry little ones is very common. I wish I had known all of this beforehand because I think it would have saved the whole family a lot of stress. But you live and you learn and love your nugget no matter what. 

Wake is now 18 months old and is healthy and contagiously happy. He is still off the chart in height and eating like he’s going to the “chair.” It’s just who he is; Stretch Armstrong with a Buddha belly and I wouldn’t change a thing!!

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

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August 26, 2014

Hudson Hearts Snacks

We are pretty serious about snacks over here. Hudson demands a snack after school and after his nap....and I happily oblige. I mean, I kind of want a snack then too. (and yes, we are still sporting a black eye up in here)

I'm even happier to fulfill his request when I know that I have something healthy and yummy to offer him. Some of our favorite go-to snacks are applesauce, raisins, fishy crackers, fresh fruit, cheese sticks, yogurt, and granola bars. 

 We recently were introduced to Nature's Path EnviroKidz line of yummy organic crispy rice bars and cereals....and they were a big hit with all of us! Hudson's favorite (and mine too!) is the Peanut Choco Crispy Rice bars...they are so yummy.

They are officially Hudson's new favorite snack. He also loves pointing out all of the animals on the packages.

Nature’s Path lives to bring people healthy, great-tasting organic foods.  But it is also a company that wants to do more than just sell breakfast foods. Nature’s Path’s EnviroKidz line provides organic, gluten-free, Non-GMO options for kids and teaches them about protecting the environment by donating one percent of sales towards endangered species, habitat conservation and environmental education for kids, including 1% For The Planet.

 The entire EnviroKidz line, which includes the new Choco Chimps and Jungle Munch, is gluten-free so everyone in the family can enjoy breakfast together. They are also vegetarian, whole grain, low fat, wheat-free and trans-fat free.

EnviroKidz is sending three lucky families on an EnviroTrip to Costa Rica to help save the sea turtles at SEE Turtles, a non-profit wildlife conservation travel operator in the beautiful OSA peninsula.  Three lucky winners and their families (three groups of 4 people) will get an all-expense paid trip to Costa Rica in March 2015. To enter and see the official rules click here

Compensation was provided by Nature’s Path via MomTrends but all opinions are my own.

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August 25, 2014

Road trips and ice buckets

We had a such a fun little weekend! 

My in-laws came for a visit so my husband and I took that opportunity to let them enjoy some one-on-one Hudson time while we made the drive out to see our good friends, Ali and John, who just had a baby girl last month! She totally gave me baby fever and was such a good girl the whole time we were there.

We got stuck in major traffic on the way home and no amount of ice cream and Beatles sing alongs could make it better. Put a fork in us, we were done!

The rest of the weekend was spent eating pancakes for breakfast and then doing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge! I lost my grandpa in 2001 and my co-worker in 2012 to ALS so I was very proud to participate....and of course after Hudson saw me dump water on myself he had to do it too.....about 20 times. He thought it was the most fun thing ever.

We wrapped up our night with some ice cream and watching Hudson's ice bucket video over and over. And yes, Hudson has his first black eye! It actually looks way worse in real life but doesn't seem to slow him down one bit.

I hope you had a great weekend!

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August 22, 2014

Clean Up, Clean Up, Everybody Clean Up

Not sure if I heard that little ditty somewhere or if I made it up. But whenever it's time to clean up, you can hear me sing "clean up, clean up, everybody clean up" over and over to Hudson. He's started to sing it too...but basically in toddler speaks comes out as "cleeeaaaan, cleeeeaaaan, cleeeaaaan!" Hello adorable.

It's totally my duty as a blogger to tell my readers when I stumble upon a new must-have.....and today's must-have item is........Viva Vantage paper towels!

 photo IMG_8322.jpg
I recently broke up with my old paper towels. They just weren't holding up to the big time messes that we Hudson leaves in his wake. And honestly? These paper towels rock my socks off. Seriously, they are now a necessity it my home. 

We get pretty messy up in here. Especially when eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich...and not contained in the high chair.

Viva Vantage paper towels are like my new favorite thing ever. And I'm serious. It's like I never knew how awesome a paper towel could be until now. 

And I may or may not have started singing "Viva Las Paper Towels!" to Hudson over and over last night. He thinks mama is so funny. 

Totally made clean up a breeze and they stretch so they scrub counters (and sticky hands!) really well. Perfect for the everyday messes we always have in our home. You can find out more info about Viva Vantage paper towels here.

 photo IMG_8322.jpg This post was sponsored by Viva® Vantage and Walmart but my love for these paper towels is all my own. 

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August 20, 2014

The Breastfeeding Diaries: Chelsea from Play. Wash. Rinse. Repeat

 I sat here thinking about where to begin with my story. I think about my daughter’s birth and how everything went so not according to plan that I’m shocked this actually worked out for us. But let me begin with her birth, because I feel this is an important part to our story. 

I was 40 weeks and 6 days and at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City at 6:00am March 13th, 2013 being induced. I wasn’t dilated. I wasn’t having contractions. Everything was normal and wonderful, except for that I was overdue. They induced with Pitocin, then Cervadil, and still, no dilation. My contractions were at a minimum, even on the highest dose of everything. I was armed with my perfectly typed birth plan, which, at a minimum, said to deliver her and nothing else. 

36 hours later and my birth plan completely out the window, I delivered Ava via c-section. In all honesty, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I was walking the next day. I began trying to get Ava to latch to breastfeed around very 4-6 hours…because that’s how often they told me to offer. We went to two of the breastfeeding classes offered in the hospital and the nurse said I had plenty of milk to go around. Great! This was the first thing I felt in control of. 

By Sunday, we were ready to go home, I was adjusting the car seat to fit her and she went for her vitals. She had a fever of over 101. I was called and told she was in the NICU. Just like that, I wasn’t in control of my own child. This was my baby, not theirs, so how could they just take her there without letting me know? She was immediately started on antibiotics. We freaked out…this was not our choice. How could we go home and leave her? 

Needless to say, I cried for the two days that she was in there. I know two days isn’t a lot…especially after you realize a lot of other babies are in there for a lot longer. But it doesn’t hurt any less knowing you can’t have her. 

In the interim, I began pumping. I was told to pump, even after nursing Ava, which only made my oversupply even worse. I was at the hospital every three hours with her and she was getting better and better at nursing and on the last day, I knew we were finally going to go home and be just fine. I was determined to make this work, and no one was going to tell me that this wasn’t possible. 

 When I look back at everything that happened in the hospital, I realize I should have been nursing her much more often than every 4-6 hours. For this reason, I highly suggest a doula or midwife and attending La Leche League while pregnant. I didn’t do any of those things. We live and learn, right? 

Those first few months are so confusing. You question everything, wonder what’s next and learn more than you ever thought you needed to know. I felt like all I did was sit on the couch and nurse, mainly because I did! Every 2-3 hours, and forget about growth spurts. I smelled of spit up and had milk in places that milk shouldn’t be. Those times can be trying, because all you want to do is feel like yourself and step out for two seconds of your life! But these moments won’t last forever. To make my time well spent, I started making jewelry and began following a lot of great social media accounts (like The Leaky Boob). 

I realized when Ava was spitting up a lot and choking that I had a pretty forceful letdown. I quickly learned to express into a burp cloth at the beginning of each feeding to help Ava be able to more comfortably feed. By the time she was two months old I had cut dairy out of my diet due to severe colic symptoms at night. I also immersed myself in La Leche League meetings and online support forums and found such comfort, normalcy and amazement in what I was providing for my daughter that I wanted to shout it to the world: “BREASTFEED YOUR BABES! Let me help you! I’m here for you!”

I went back to work at four months and my pumping schedule was three times a day within an eight hour period. I was racking up milk like a hoarder and found HMBANA and the Mothers Milk Bank Northeast, where I donated over 400oz. of milk to premature babies in need. This made me feel so great that I could give back, especially after I saw first-hand so many of these fragile babies in the NICU. 

 At a year breastfeeding, we went down to pumping once a day and that’s currently where I stand as Ava is 16 months old and we continue our breastfeeding journey. We’re not sure how we will continue at this point. Some days I’d like to go until she is two years old, and on others I’d rather begin the weaning process. We currently take it day by day.

 Not to say that our journey wasn’t without the occasional bite or minor nursing strike, but for me, this is the one and only thing that worked out as planned and gave me the empowerment that I lacked after my birth. 

 I am a mom who, like most of us, is trying to do what is best for my daughter and my family. Without support, I would have had a much harder time keeping up with nursing, nursing past a year and feeling comfortable nursing in public. Stories of success, failure, honesty, comedy and sadness are what brings us together and empowers us all. I hope that this story makes everyone realize that whatever path you choose or end up on, you can always change directions and push forward. My birth was the last thing anyone on this planet would ever want, but here I am…and I learned about what I will do differently the second time around and what made me who I am now. 

Chelsea Vassi is owner and blogger at play. wash. rinse. repeat. She is a Michigan native and currently lives in New York City with her husband Steve, daughter Ava and two dogs. To learn more about Chelsea and follow her adventures in breastfeeding past a year, among other topics, visit her blog and social media accounts.

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

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