October 22, 2014

The Breastfeeding Diaries: Kristen from The Tale of Three Ps

Hi! My name is Kristen and I blog at The Tale of Three Ps. I have an adorable little girl, Miss A, who turned one at the end of March. I nursed her exclusively until five months and we continued nursing until her first birthday. Nursing was absolutely a rewarding experience but it was one of the most difficult things I've encountered so far in parenting. No one ever mentioned to me that it would be difficult! I so appreciate that Julie has this series because it really helped me feel that I wasn't the only one struggling.

After finding out that we were expecting, I threw myself in to research. I am a very type A, information oriented person. I read up on epidurals, vaccinations, and breastfeeding. We also took a Bradley birthing class (which I really recommend). Bradley focuses on a natural birth experience and emphasizes nursing. After all of that research, talking to friends, and taking our class, I felt like I was totally ready to nurse. It was really, really important to me. I felt that it would provide Miss A with the healthiest start I could give her. I remember while I was pregnant, I would imagine nursing Miss A. I just knew that it would come naturally and would be an incredibly sweet, simple experience. To say that I was surprised by our actual experience is an understatement. 

I was in labor for almost 36 hours and was in the hospital for 23. My plan for an epidural free birth went out the window but my plan to nurse didn't. Right after Miss A was born, we introduced her to our friends and family, and then tried to nurse.  I remember being so proud that she latched on almost immediately and thinking ""this is great, we've got this down"". That first night, Miss A kept eating and eating. I knew about cluster feeding and I figured that was the issue. When the lactation consultant came in the morning, she told me that in actuality, Miss A wasn't getting anything. She was a really abrasive, pushy person. She chastised me for allowing Miss A to go to the nursery for an hour, told me to NEVER give her a paci, and that I shouldn't even attempt a nipple shield because I could ruin her chances at nursing. Our latch was all wrong and the consultant was frustrated that I hadn't noticed that Miss A wasn't getting any milk. I was totally overwhelmed by this woman and was terrified to ask her questions. We spent two more days in the hospital and it seemed like things were getting a little better and we headed home.

At our first pediatrician's appointment, we found out that Miss A had lost a little bit more weight than what the doctor liked to see. We didn't have to supplement but I needed to offer her more food. At this point, I started having issues. No matter how much Lanolin I used, I cracked and bled. I would cry when Miss A was hungry. I didn't want to feed her because it hurt so much and then I felt horribly guilty because I didn't want to feed my baby. It was rough.  I ended up pumping for three or four days to let myself heal and then we tried again. It was still painful but I was more proactive with the Lanolin and I figured out a better hold for Miss A. I also remember being frustrated that I was the only person that could feed her. Even though my husband and I split time and had a shift system going, if she was hungry, I was the only answer. That was really difficult for me. I felt horrible saying that out loud, too. There were a lot of nights of tears. After a few weeks, we finally hit our groove and it was smooth sailing after that. 

I'm a teacher so I was able to be home with Miss A for almost five months (summer breaks are the best!). She was exclusively breastfed until her five month checkup. We found out that she had dropped a lot of weight, mostly because she had begun to crawl. We started her on solids at five months but I continued to nurse her until she was a year old.  My husband was wonderful and his work schedule allowed him to bring Miss A to me at lunch each day. I was so thankful for that because I got to see her every single day. Eventually, Miss A weaned herself. She just stopped being interested in certain feedings and I followed her cues. 

I was definitely surprised by how difficult nursing was but I was even more surprised to find that it's difficult for most women. I really believed that it would be natural and easy. That's the way it seems on tv! When I confided in friends, I found that they had all really struggled as well. Knowing that I wasn't alone was what gave me the tenacity to get through the really hard parts.  I also have a very, very patient husband. He was wonderfully supportive and kind and he never showed a hint of frustration, even when I was in tears for the third time that day.  

I am so glad I decided to nurse and more than that, I'm glad that I stuck with it. I really cherished spending so much one on one time with Miss A. There's something so sweet about a pair of big brown eyes looking up at you.  When Miss A was little, she would reach up and pat me on the mouth while I fed her. Those are really precious moments that I'll have forever. I also loved the convenience and ease of nursing. Miss A and I could go on any adventure we felt like, so long as I had my nursing cover. It was great!

My advice to new moms would be that breastfeeding will be hard but it won't be impossible. In the middle of the night, when you're exhausted and in pain, it might seem impossible but it really isn't. Also, whatever you decide to do is the right thing. I would also say that it's ok to ask for help. I was so overwhelmed by our lactation consultant while we were in the hospital that I wouldn't call her once we were home and things got hard. That was really silly of me and looking back, I should have called. I could have saved myself hours and hours of tears. Asking for help isn't failure! 
Thanks so much to Julie for letting me share my story! I hope that it was encouraging to someone going through something similar. 

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

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October 20, 2014

Pumpkin Patchin' It

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Over the weekend my in laws were in town so we took advantage of the extra hands and headed out with Hudson to the pumpkin patch! Well, pumpkin farm might be a better word for it. It was COLD but that didn't stop Hudson from having a blast. 

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He loved running through the pumpkins. We got there early and had the entire place to ourselves!

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Picking out the perfect pumpkin was tough. 

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Luckily we came home with two pumpkins, a fun gourd, an apple pie, two bags of apples, and a dozen donuts. Yup....it was  a good trip!

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They also had a fun little kids play area with swings, a sand box, and this giant rope web. 

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And a fun tire maze which Hudson was surprisingly good at, even in rain boots!

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And tractors of course. Hudson was in heaven!

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Love these boys! How was your weekend?

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P.S...flashback to Hudson at the same pumpkin farm last year. Oh. My. Word. 

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October 17, 2014

Oh Hey Friday!

Hey hey Friday! Nice to see you again....

{one} Hello three day weekend! I took today off of work and it's basically the best thing ever. Hudson and I have big plans...plans to watch Toy Story and stay in our jammies all day. Heaven, I tell ya. 

{two} Speaking of jammies....I wish I looked this cute in mine. Trying to teach Hudson to say "trick or treat" has turned out to be pretty hilarious. Our neighbors are going to wonder what on earth I'm saying around my child.

{three} Also, have you seen Toy Story of Terror? Because it's kinda scary. But Hudson loves it of course. I guess I'm just a wimp.

{four} Any type of facebook post about being a boy mom totally sucks me in....I've been obsessed with reading all of the "how to be the kind of mom your teenage boy needs" and "10 signs your a boy mom"....anyway, I stumbled upon The MOB Society (mom of boys) and I can't get enough. It's a great resource for boy moms!

{five} Just a reminder that I am co-hosting a Halloween Costume Party link up and would LOVE for you to join me! Share some photos of your little one all dressed up for Halloween. I seriously can't wait! The party starts October 30th. More details about the link up can be found here

Happy Friday! And now I'm linking up with basically everyone....

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

Friday Favorites with A Little Bit of EverythingMomfessionals, and Grace and Love.

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October 16, 2014

Let's talk hair.....

 I think my hair is probably my most favorite feature. Sure, I hated it growing up. I was the only redhead in a sea of blue-eyed blondes and I wanted so desperately to fit in and not stand out. Isn't that just silly? I wish I could go back in time and tell my little 6 year old self to love her hair. Because I sure do love it now!

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I always want my hair to looks it's best, but don't want it weighed down by a lot of product. There is nothing worse than running your hand through your hair and it getting stuck in a bunch of sticky product! Fun fact about me: I am a lover of all things Dove....I love their products and I also love that they encourage women to feel beautiful from the inside out. Recently I discovered  Dove Pure Care Dry Oil collection and my hair has never been so silky and shiny! 

Dove Pure Care Dry Oil collection is ideal for all hair types and delivers five times silkier hair even after just one wash. I found that these products nourished my hair without making it feel greasy or heavy. The dry oil features a blend of African Macadamia oil and Coconut oil and smells divine!

After washing with Dove Pure Care Dry Oil, I dry my hair and then pump a little bit of the oil on to my hands and run it through my hair. I typically do all of this at night....I have so much hair that it would take me forever to get ready in the morning! Once I wake up, I curl my hair with a touch of hair spray and a 1.5" curling iron. And done!

Dove Hair is launching "Dove Silky Hair Dare" and is challenging women everywhere to try Dove Pure Care Dry Oil, risk-free now through December 31, 2014

Share your silky results at #silkyhairdaresweeps for a chance to win** $20,000 in prizes up for grabs
Visit Dove.com for more information

*If you are not completely satisfied with the Dove Advanced Hair Series Pure Care Dry Oil system Dove will refund the purchase. Visit hairmoneyback.com for details.
**No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. The Dove Silky Hair Dare Sweepstakes is sponsored by Conopco, Inc., d/b/a Unilever. Open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. & D.C., 18 & older. Begins 12:00 p.m. ET on 9/25/14 and ends 12:00 p.m. ET on 11/20/14. For Official Rules, visit http://www.dove.us/Products/Hair/Advanced-Hair-Series/rules.aspx

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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October 15, 2014

The Breastfeeding Diaries: Stefanie from Lexi Loo, Lily, Liam, & Dylan Too

 Hi, my name is Stefanie and I blog over at Lexi Loo, Lily, Liam, & Dylan Too. When I found out baby #4 was on the way, I didn't even think about whether I would breastfeed or not. I knew I would.

After nourishing 3 children, I knew what choice was right for us. My firstborn was formula fed, with no regrets, and my next two were exclusively breastfed. Breastfeeding was convenient and free!

With my first pregnancy, I wasn't sure if I would breastfeed or formula feed. I decided to keep an open mind and decide at birth. After preterm labor, weeks of bed rest, weeks of grieving, a long labor, and giving birth a month early, I was mentally and physically exhausted. When the nurse asked if I was going to breastfeed or formula feed, I said formula without another thought. About a week after we came home, I was curious. I tried to get my son to latch on, but he didn't want to. I never tried again, and never regretted it. My son was always very healthy and very smart. He's nearly 10 years old, and rarely gets sick. Formula feeding worked well.

When I was pregnant with my second child, I knew I wanted to give breastfeeding a try. I was a rookie. Even with the help of a lactation consultant, I wasn't prepared for just how much it hurt! During a particularly horrible night in the hospital, I decided to quit, and I gave my daughter a bottle. Once home, in a more relaxed setting, I gave it another try. It worked, the pain eased, and I exclusively breastfed my daughter until she was 11 months old. Our breastfeeding journey came to an abrupt end after I had a medical procedure done. My daughter was unable to breastfeed for 24 hours, and she refused from that point on. I was bummed, but still proud of how long we went!

Four years later, when baby #3 was born, she latched on immediately after birth. I knew exactly what to do and it barely hurt. Our breastfeeding journey was easy from the start and she nursed until she was 14 months old. Sadly, I can't even recall the last time I nursed her. She gradually weaned until she just wasn't interested anymore.

Two months after she weaned, we were very surprised to find out baby #4 was on the way! Thankfully, I was healthy and still taking the remaining prenatal vitamins from my recent breastfeeding days. Other than the awful morning sickness I had until the day I delivered, which was exactly like my previous pregnancies, my pregnancy was uneventful.

I went into labor three weeks before my due date. In between the awful contractions, I was giddy with excitement. My husband and I argued names and took bets on whether the baby was a boy or a girl. We couldn't wait to meet him or her!

When our child entered the world, my husband cheered, and shouted, "It's a BOY!" We cried and hugged, but we were surprised when the doctor immediately handed our son over to a nurse instead of handing him over to me.

The room was eerily quiet for what felt like an eternity. Our son wasn't crying and medical professionals crowded around him. Nobody would answer our questions or let my husband come over to see him. The room finally emptied, and the remaining nurse handed our son to me and walked out the door. My sweet baby boy stared into my eyes, and I just KNEW. My heart plummeted and my world came to a crashing halt.

Sure enough, a doctor eventually walked in and explained that he and another doctor believed our son had Down Syndrome, based on a few physical characteristics. Our son was whisked away for testing, and we were left alone to grieve the loss of the child we thought we were having and accept the new life we were given.

The memories of that day are foggy. I remember the feelings, but I can't remember the timeline. At some point, Liam was back in my arms, and in that fog, it registered that I had to feed him. I lifted him to my breast, and tried to get him to latch on. I remember staring down at him and watching my tears drip onto the top of his head.


After a few minutes, it was evident that breastfeeding him was not going to be easy. He was so sleepy and his latch and suck were so weak. The lactation consultant came in, smiled, told me it was obvious I knew what I was doing, and walked back out. I wasn't sure how to feed a child with Down Syndrome and I felt completely helpless.

I fell in love with my son in the wee hours of the morning. As I stared into his eyes, the fog and the grief lifted. I vowed to love him and protect him, and give him the best life I possibly could. Once again, I lifted him to my breast and I just kept trying to get him to latch on and stay latched on. We did it over and over again until it was time to leave the hospital. I was determined to make it work.

When Liam was 2 weeks old, it was confirmed that he had Down Syndrome. I wasn't surprised.

The first month was a struggle. When he was a few days old, we went to the doctor for a weight check. He was still under his birth weight. We returned a few days later, and he still hadn't gained any weight. Getting him to wake up to nurse was very difficult. He just wanted to sleep all the time. His weight started to plummet, so we returned to the lactation consultant to get a supplemental feeding device. She made sure he was nursing properly (he was) and showed me how to use the device.

Every time I breastfed Liam during the day, I used the device, filled with high calorie formula. At every feeding, he got breastmilk and formula at the same time. He continued with the weekly weight checks and his weight continued to drop. I knew it wasn't a supply issue, because I pumped regularly and was producing plenty.

When Liam was 2 months old, he was still under his birth weight. He was nursing really well, but not gaining any weight. He had his first appointment at the Down Syndrome Clinic, and even thought he looked great, the doctor was concerned enough about his weight to hospitalize him.

We had our first encounter with the feeding team during our 3 day stay. They immediately told me that if the tests showed he was aspirating, I would have to quit breastfeeding. As soon as they walked out the door, I started to cry. I knew I would do what was best for my child, but after a lot of research, I felt like breastmilk was the best option. At that moment, Liam's wonderful pediatrician called. She reassured me that I should not give up on breastmilk, even if he was aspirating. She said the feeding team would insist that breastmilk could not be thickened properly in a bottle, but it was possible. I hung up the phone and breathed a sigh of relief.

After many tests, some of which were very invasive and involved him being put under general anesthesia, they were unable to find a cause for his low weight. With the exception of discovering mild reflux and Laryngomalacia (floppy vocal chords/airway), everything checked out perfectly. We were sent home with medication for the reflux and we were told to start supplementing with bottles of high calorie formula.

Liam had a very difficult time drinking from a bottle. It took him over an hour to drink 2 ounces. Within a week of leaving the hospital, Liam started Occupational Therapy. His therapist got him to drink properly from a bottle 5 minutes after she arrived! Liam continued to breastfeed the majority of the time, but we supplemented with 1-2 bottles of high calorie formula a day.

Our pediatrician monitored Liam's weight gain, and worked closely with his Occupational Therapist. He had been going for weekly weight checks since he was born, and continued with them. He finally reached his birth weight of 7 lbs 11 oz after he turned 2 months old. He started to gain, but it was very slow, and his weight often plateaued. The high calorie formula wasn't making much of a difference, and at 4 months old, he refused the bottle. He definitely preferred breastfeeding. It was so much easier for him!

At that age, he began watching other people eat and reaching for utensils. Our OT and pediatrician recommended starting solids at 5 months old. Armed with a list of high calorie foods, we started with one solid feeding a day, and stopped forcing the bottle on him. It was at that point that Liam finally began to gain! His pediatrician and OT always felt that Liam's slow gain was due to him burning off almost as many calories than he consumed. Breastfeeding became easy for him, but he had to work harder to take the bottle. When we made the switch to exclusively breastfeeding and giving him one solid meal a day, he gained an entire pound in a month. That was more gain than ever before!

At 6 months old, Liam returned to the Down Syndrome Clinic. He finally reached 10 lbs. The pediatrician and OT were thrilled with his weight gain, but his stats still weren't even on the growth chart. Liam's doctor at the Down Syndrome Clinic recommended a visit with the feeding team again. We loved his doctor at the clinic so much. He was very thorough and cautious, because he didn't want to miss anything. That being said, we were not looking forward to meeting with the feeding team!

Prior to the appointment, Liam's OT told us everything the feeding team was going to say. She worked on the team prior to switching to in-home therapy. She explained that they were very anti-breastfeeding, and would insist that we switch to formula feeding.

The appointment was worse than we ever imagined. A pediatrician, speech therapist, occupational therapist, and nutritionist were in the room with us. They spent the entire hour talking over each other and talking over us. They didn't even look at Liam as an individual. They treated him like he had every possible characteristic of Down Syndrome. They watched me breastfeed him for 30 seconds, then told me that breastfeeding was not an effective feeding method for children with Down Syndrome. The nutritionist was the only one who tried to help us with our current feeding plan, but she was flat out told that it wasn't an appropriate solution. They told me to stop solids, stop breastfeeding, and just give him bottles of thickened formula until he was 1.

By that point, my head was pounding. I explained that he was not aspirating liquids, and I inquired about how we were supposed to just feed him bottles of thickened formula when HE WOULDN'T TAKE A BOTTLE. They replied that he was just going to have to learn. The speech therapist came over at that point, made the thickened bottle, and repeatedly tried to shove it in his mouth. Poor Liam was sputtering, gagging, and crying, and I couldn't help but wonder how this harsh method was better than the relaxing, easy way he breastfed.

My husband was furious and I could tell he was ready to flip out. I just nodded my consent, so we could leave as quickly as possible. As we walked down the hallway, he asked me if I was really going to take those fools seriously. I looked at him, smiled, and said, "Absolutely not. I'm not changing anything."

I didn't change a single thing. I was producing enough milk and Liam was breastfeeding effectively. Liam continued to breastfeed and eat one solid meal a day. He went to weekly weight checks and had weekly sessions with his OT. A nutritionist came to our house once a month to weigh him and make suggestions on what high calorie foods he should eat. All three medical professionals were pro-breastfeeding and they were Liam's biggest supporters. He gained a pound each month. I knew we were doing the right thing.

At 9 months old, his nutritionist said she was thrilled with the way he was eating and gaining. He was released from her care. At that point, his pediatrician said he didn't have to come in for weight checks anymore. After 9 months of weekly weight checks, we were so happy with his progress!

At his 1 year appointment, Liam's doctor at the Down Syndrome Clinic was very happy with his weight gain. Liam was finally on the chart. Very low on the chart, but finally following his own curve! He asked if the appointment with the feeding team helped, and I told him the truth: that following my gut, cutting out all the unnecessary intervention, and just letting him breastfeed was what helped. I knew he was doing it right and I knew fighting with him to take a bottle was doing more harm than good. Once we relaxed and just let him be, he started to gain.

Liam is 13 months old and he's still a tiny kid. At 15 1/2 pounds and 28 inches, he is approximately the size of an average 6 month old boy. Instead of fighting it, like we did for the first 6 months of his life, we all came to the realization that he's just small. It's how he's supposed to be. Developmentally, he is doing many of the same things a typical child his age does, but because of his lower muscle tone, he has to work a lot harder doing those things. He burns off more calories than a typical child does.

Liam still breastfeeds twice a day. He is an amazing eater. He self feeds every meal and drinks from a straw cup. I will let Liam wean from breastfeeding when he's ready. I know we only have a little bit of time left, and that thought makes me sad.

This post is going live at perfect time. October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. There are so many myths and misconceptions about Down Syndrome. Although there are many babies with Down Syndrome who do have feeding issues, there are those who can and do breastfeed effectively. Sadly, many medical professionals tend to push formula feeding, thinking it solves everything. My hope is that this post will help another mother who finds herself in a similar position.

It IS more difficult to breastfeed a child with Down Syndrome. They tend to be harder to wake at the beginning and their suck is a lot weaker, due to low muscle tone. With determination, support, and lots of practice, it is very possible to succeed. I know there are obstacles to overcome. When safety is an issue, such as aspiration, formula is absolutely the right choice.

No matter what feeding choice you make, with love and proper nutrition, your child will thrive.

We succeeded with the help of 3 medical professionals who believed in Liam and knew breastfeeding really was working for him.

Despite being told over and over again that a baby with Down Syndrome could not breastfeed effectively, we stuck with it. I am so glad I went with my gut instinct and I'm so proud that Liam is still going strong. Liam is perfectly healthy and he is THRIVING. Breastfeeding was the right choice.

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

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