July 1, 2015

The Breastfeeding Diaries: Mackenzie from Baby by Oakley

Hi! I'm Mackenzie and I blog over at Baby by Oakley. I am so happy to be a part of the Breastfeeding Diaries series on Julie's blog! I've been following The Girl in the Red Shoes for quite some time and always look forward to these posts. I am married to Justin and we have two little girls - Gracyn is 2 {and a half!} and Leighton is 6 months old. I am currently a work-at-home mom and am fortunate enough to structure my time so I'm able to keep the girls home with me. We're a hot mess most days but we're making it work and I'm so grateful to be able to be home with my babies while still contributing financially to our little family.

I had a very easy first pregnancy and knew from the beginning that I wanted to breastfeed. My mom (and most of the women in my family) breastfed and always talked about it being such a wonderful experience. I was fully aware of the health benefits associated with breast milk so I prepared as best I could as we awaited the birth of our first daughter. I ended up being induced at 40.5 weeks and after laboring all day, ended up with a c-section (you can read Gracyn's whole birth story here!). Even with a c-section I was able to nurse her within the first hour of her being born. She latched beautifully (or so it seemed) and continued nursing throughout our hospital stay.

By the time we were discharged, 3 days after delivery, my milk had come in. My nipples were sore and red but a last-minute meeting with a lactation consultant confirmed that the baby was still latching properly and I was assured the pain would subside in the coming days.

Um, no.

Once we were home, each feeding became increasingly painful. On day five, I called the hospital's lactation consultant in tears trying to explain my situation - painful latch, pain that continued throughout the entire feeding, a baby who decided it was fun to constantly play tug-o-war with my nipples. Nipples that now looked like they had been chewed up and spit out (too graphic?! sorry.) and were essentially scabbing over in-between each feeding. The nice lady on the other end of the phone suggested I try a different position and possibly a nipple shield to give myself time to "heal". I did both of those things which didn't seem to help. At two weeks old, my daughter was eating every 2-3 hours and I spent each feeding crying in pain.

Breastfeeding was not magical; it was not a precious bonding experience for me. It hurt like a mother 'effer and I hated it.

After one particular rough night, I turned to my pump for relief. I needed a break, pumping didn't hurt and Gracyn took a bottle like a champ. My original plan was to pump for a day and then try nursing again. I ended up pumping more than enough to feed her via bottles and never looked back. I became an exclusively-pumping mama.

In all honesty, I preferred pumping over physically breastfeeding. It sounds crazy but it's true. Once we fell into a schedule of pumping and feeding, it was so much easier for all of us. I wasn't in pain and Gracyn was still receiving all the benefits of breast milk. I started to enjoy feeding her instead of dreading that time together. I exclusively pumped until she was 7 months old (you can read the whole story here) and I'm so proud that I was able to make it past my original goal of 6 months.

Fast forward to baby number two! After a tougher pregnancy and scheduled c-section, Leighton was born bigger and more bald than her older sister. Even though my first breastfeeding experience hadn't gone as planned, I had every intention of nursing Leighton, too. I knew what to expect, what questions to ask, and took advantage of the resources available to me. This time around, the baby latched perfectly and I wasn't in pain.

And for some reason, I still didn't LOVE breastfeeding. I thought for sure that if I had a positive breastfeeding experience, I'd come to love it and feel those warm, fuzzy feelings everyone talks about when they're nursing their own babies. But I didn't. I don't.

Leighton is now 6 months old and is predominately bottle-fed. I'm a mostly-pumping mama, again. By choice. Again, it sounds crazy, but I almost prefer pumping over the physical act of nursing. We had a rough couple of months with Leighton as we battled colic and tried different things to help her learn to self-soothe at night. She refused pacifiers and wanted to "snack" all day (and all night!) long. It was exhausting and I started to resent breastfeeding.

If I pumped and fed her bottles, I was able to track how many ounces she was getting and since I was working from home and chasing a toddler around, it was necessary for me to implement a schedule where she was eating a full meal every three hours during the day instead of getting a quick bite to eat (drink?) every 90 minutes or so. We put a bedtime routine in place and every once in a while, we'll supplement with a bottle of formula if need be. Overall, it seemed to really help her. She will still take the boob if I offer it - mostly for middle-of-the-night feedings and any major freak-outs when nothing else will soothe her! I know you can do all of those things while physically breastfeeding (get them on a schedule, routines, etc.) too, but bottle-feeding the majority of the time seems to be working for our family. And, I'm a cow and can get away with only pumping 3 times a day to get what she eats during the daytime hours.

My goal the second time around was again to be able to provide my milk until she was 6 months old and I'm so happy to say that we made it to that point. I have started the weaning process and we will gradually get her over to formula on a full-time basis until she's a year old.

If any mamas out there are struggling with breastfeeding, just know that it's OK to feel defeated or feel like giving up. It's also OK to try different things until you figure out what works best for you and your baby.  Breastfeeding is hard and emotional and sometimes no one tells you those things. If and when we have another baby, I will again have every intention of breastfeeding them the "traditional" way. I feel like I've learned so much from each of my breastfeeding journeys that I'd be even more prepared should a third child join our family in the future.

If it doesn't work out - or if I simply don't want to nurse - I know there are other ways to nourish my baby. Everyone says breast is best - and everyone knows the obvious benefits of breast milk - but it's just as important to make sure the entire situation is working for everyone involved. Especially mama!

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


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June 26, 2015

Oh Hey Friday

Hey Friday...I'm back! Blogging with two kids under 3 is HARD.....so thank you for sticking around while I adjust and get back in to the groove. 

{one} This boy. He's a big brother now and seems so grown up. He's been pretty great with Sadie...kissing her on the head, talking to her, and being gentle. But want to know what's not so grown up? Waking up twice each night. That's what Hudson has done since we came home from the hospital and it is NOT COOL. I'm up twice with Sadie, and then up twice with Hudson. Holy cow, I'm tired. 

{two} My blog friend Leah madeHudson this big brother shirt and I love it! You can check out her adorable shop, Simply Made with Love here. I had specific instructions for our family that Hudson wear this shirt when he came to the hospital to meet his new baby brother or sister for the first time. WELL. Toddlers and plans don't really mix well. He refused to wear the shirt. And he refused to sit in bed with me, look at the baby, and pose for a picture. So my "moment" was ruined. But such is life with a toddler!

{three} Little miss is already 2 weeks old! How did that happen? She has fit right in with our family and I already can't imagine life without her. 

{four} We just got back Sadie's newborn photos and I can't wait to share them with you! Here's a quick sneak peak....love her. 

{five} And it's almost Nordstrom sale time! Who's excited??? I'm a card holder so I get early access.....which is trouble!

Happy weekend everyone!

Linking up with these lovely ladies....


Oh Hey Friday with September Farm and The Farmer's Wife!

Momfessionals


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June 24, 2015

The Breastfeeding Diaries: Stasia from Our Life on a Budget

Stasia here… I blog over at Our Life on a Budget. I am wife to Andrew, mama to Bailey Drew (two years old) and Jameson who is due any day now! Those that know us or follow me over at the little old blog know that the hubs and I work with the college/20s age group. One thing that I have found really fun… is that when I am hanging out with the girls… the conversations almost always turn to all things birth and breastfeeding. So when the opportunity to share my whole breastfeeding experience came, I thought, "Why Not:)!" 

To be honest, I did not really know what I was getting into with breastfeeding, but I just assumed I would make it to a year because that is what is recommended. I ended up breastfeeding for 20 months! That being said, we started our breastfeeding journey on March 23, 2013 when our daughter BD was born at a whopping 9 pounds 9 ounces. I thought for sure she would breastfeed right away (especially because I had a natural delivery), but no such luck. For the first 24 hours she did not breastfeed much, maybe she just needed time to adjust to the world. She was content (and big and healthy) so nobody forced formula on her and after a day or so she started really breastfeeding and I was so thankful!


Those first days were good all things considered. I never had to deal with supply issues and my little one that already existed on a growth chart of her own gained weight at an impressive rate that kept her above the 100th percentile in weight and looking much older than she was. Since things were going well and I was supposed to go back to work when she was 6 weeks old, I started to pump and we attempted to introduce a bottle.  

*Cue frustration and tears*

*From the both of us*

I was spending valuable time pumping and she was not having any of it! We tried so many bottles and it did not matter- she would only accept milk from the source. After weeks of trying we took a break and I went into HR and said I was going to have to take to the end of the school year unpaid because our daughter would not take a bottle (luckily this was only three weeks).  

Then when our daughter was two months old, we moved 9 hours away across multiple states. We had bags and bags of milk in our freezer… like pushing 100 ounces… and I left them all behind. This is ridiculous when I think about it in hindsight, but I was so frustrated at the time I guess it was my way of just letting it go. Now I know I could have donated.

Then the next week… after I threw out all the milk… she took a bottle… it figures, right?

When we got settled in our new location I started a new part-time teaching job and this is when I really feel like we began to hit our groove. She always nursed first thing in the morning, one bottle at school, once to nurse down for nap, when she was young again in the afternoon, and once again to nurse to sleep at night. Yep, we were nursers to sleep, and I became totally okay with that. She stopped nursing to sleep on her own eventually… just like with most other things with babies, they do it when they are ready :).

As time passed and we neared her first birthday people kept asking if I was going to stop. And we chose to keep going for a few reasons: 

*BD was not ready. She still nursed to sleep and periodically through out the day.

*I was not ready. I still enjoyed the time we had together.

*It is recommended to go past a year, so why not try?

*Ultimately, why stop something that was working?

On we trudged in the breastfeeding world… 12 months, 14 months, 18 months, 20 months… and with each month that passed she nursed less. We were down to about 1-3 times a day and it was not even at the same time each day- sometimes morning, sometimes nap time, sometimes bedtime… it just depended on the day. She could now fall asleep on her own now no problem. Then we found out we were pregnant and cue incredible morning sickness. I knew for me, my body was spent making another human and that for my own sanity I needed to go ahead and let BD wean herself.  

                  
It happened so quick. We went down to once a day, then occasionally missed a day completely, then one day it just stopped. The last time I nursed her I did not even realize it would be the last time… I do wish I had.  

Now with little Jamison (or not so little if he takes after his sister) I wonder if my experience will be similar. I wonder if it will be easier or harder.  Will I just fall into the groove or have to work at it?Will we make it to a year again? 18 months? 2 years? I don't know… but what I do know is that for me personally it is worth working at through the good and the bad!
Photobucket


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


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June 22, 2015

Sadie's Birth Story

Thank you to everyone for all the well wishes on our new baby girl! We are over the moon excited to be a family of four, and still surprised that we have a girl! As most of you know, I had to have a c-section with Hudson because he was breech. I had my c-section scheduled for my exact due date at 11am....and my water broke on it's own that day at 4am and I had him at 7am (so it's safe to say if I had him vaginally he still would have been born on his due date). And Sadie was born on her due date too....so yeah, that has to be some kind of record right? Two babies born on their due dates? 

Anyway, let's get started. 

I started having contractions on Tuesday, June 9th, that were all over the place. They would come one after another and then stop for an hour. And then start back up. They were not painful but uncomfortable enough that I knew something would happen soon. Then, that evening they started to be more frequent. Around 9pm I talked to my mom (who is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in labor and delivery and is my go-to expert on on this stuff) and she encouraged me to try and get some sleep, because chances were good I'd be in the hospital the next day! Well....I tried to sleep but the contractions were starting to get uncomfortable. Jon came upstairs around 11pm and noticed right away that things were happening fast....and I was in denial. He called my mom and said he thought we should go to the hospital. And for some reason I said it wasn't time. I was so nervous about going there and then being sent home. Really, it was silly. Then around midnight I just knew....we had to go. I called the on call doctor and she said to come in. Luckily my sister-in-law was able to come over to watch Hudson and we headed to the hospital and met my mom there. 

The nurse checked me and told me I was at 1 cm....and I might have said totally said "oh crap"....only one stinkin' centimeter? You have got to be kidding me. They decided to monitor me and see if I made any progress before admitting me. Over the next two hours or so I tried everything....walking, bouncing on the birthing ball, standing....and I just couldn't get comfortable. The contractions were coming fast and strong and I was pretty miserable. They put me in a whirlpool tub and Jon held my hand and adjusted the jets in the tub for an hour while I contracted more and more. When I got out I was at 3cm and finally was admitted.

And here's where it starts to get fuzzy. The contractions were so strong and I just couldn't get a break. I couldn't focus, or answer questions....and I just felt like I was drowning. They offered to give me Stadol and I agreed....and let me just tell you this: It did NOTHING but make me feel groggy and tired. The pain was still there. I asked for an epidural and like magic the anesteglogist was there and they started prepping me. I'm not sure how long it all took but it felt like HOURS because I was in so much pain. But man, once that epidural was in I was a whole new person! I actually could look at people and answer questions. Thank God for epidurals. 

Shortly after that my doctor came in (maybe around 7am?)...and I have never been so happy to see him in my life! He said I was at 4cm and broke my water....and said we would have a baby before noon. I totally didn't believe him. Because I was having a VBAC, they had to monitor the baby's heart rate really closely. At some point shortly after breaking my water everyone rushed in to my room....I guess Sadie's heart rate slowed down big time and caused an alarm to sound. They moved me in several different positions and finally settled me on my right side, since that position seemed to help her heart rate return to normal. They also started monitoring baby internally with a monitor on her head. I was at 5cm by then and then they let me rest. I remember being worried that my progress would slow down big time since I wasn't moving around at all, but honestly I was so tired from being up all night and from that stupid Stadol that I just closed my eyes and tried to sleep. At some point I sent my mom and Jon out so that they could get some breakfast before the excitement started. And of course, while they were gone I felt a sudden urge to push. And I ignored it. And then it happened again. And again. So I called my nurse and she checked me and said I as at 8 cm! Holy cow. It seemed to be going so fast! She paged my doctor and I nervously waited for Jon and my mom to return. It figures they would be gone right when things started happening, right?

Thankfully my mom and Jon came back and shortly after that and my doctor checked me again and said it was go time! They broke down the bed and got prepped....everything happened so fast. Side note: For the past few weeks my mom and I have been talking about if she should be in the room while I push or not. She doesn't do patient care any more but has spent the majority of her career as a labor and delivery nurse. So she's seen it all. When it was time to push I told her I wanted her to stay....and I'm so glad I did. Having her and Jon there to help motivate me really helped and comforted me.

So around 10 am I started pushing. And man, it was hard. My epidural was amazing so I didn't feel any pain but could feel when contractions were coming....so I think that really helped me push. The big fear for women having a VBAC is that their uterus will rupture during labor. And the main sign of uterine rupture is a drop in baby's heart rate....I had to stop pushing a few times so they could make sure Sadie's heartbeat stabilized.....but the whole time I felt safe knowing that my mom, my doctor, my nurse, and my mom's friend Becky (who is also a nurse) were all watching out for me and my baby. After less than an hour of pushing Sadie Mae was born at 10:57 a.m.! My doctor placed her on my chest right away and told Jon to tell me what it was....when he said "it's a girl!" I think we were both in shock. Not only did I just push a baby out of my body but it was a girl baby! I am SO glad we waited to find out the gender. It was such a fun and thrilling surprise!

I couldn't stop staring at her and was just in awe of what happened. Sadie got cleaned up a little bit while on my chest and then immediately started rooting around and wanting to breastfeed. She's a breastfeeding champ, just like her brother! After an hour or so they weighed and measured her and we were all shocked again that she was 9 lbs 1 oz and 21 inches long. Holy cow! I pushed a 9 pound baby out of my body. Let me say that again. I PUSHED A 9 POUND BABY OUT OF MY BODY. Dang, I still can't believe it....but I have the second degree tear on my lady parts to prove it.

Of course, everyone wanted to know what her name was....and I said "I don't know!" Jon pulled out our list of 5 girl names and 7 boy names and we just started crossing some off.....she just looked like a Sadie to me and Jon agreed! Picking her name in that moment was so much easier than narrowing our list down to 5 names!

I am so glad I decided to have a VBAC! My recovery this time around has been so much easier and we were able to go home after just one night in the hospital. I know a lot of you have VBAC questions so I'm planning a post dedicated to my experience with a c-section vs. a VBAC just for you, so stay tuned!



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