May 30, 2013

Spill About Your LOVE


Want to know something embarrassing that I do in front of my husband? Well, hop on over toApril's blog, A. Liz Adventures today where I'm spilling the details of my love life! Trust me...you don't want to miss this series!
#don'tjudgeme

May 29, 2013

The Breastfeeding Diaries: Laura from Tiny Toes, Little Nose

Hi Everyone!  I'm Laura from tiny toes, little nose.  I have been married to my husband, Conor, for almost 3 years and became a mom to the sweetest little boy, Liam, 10 months ago.  I'm a stay-at-home mom and love every minute I get to spend chasing Liam around.  I am a huge advocate for breastfeeding, so I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share my experience.  Liam has been exclusively breastfed, which is something I am extremely proud of.  I absolutely love breastfeeding and feel that the bond it creates between mother and baby only grows stronger with time.  While nursing a newborn has its magical moments, nothing compares to the sheer joy an older baby shows before, during, and after a nursing session.  I can't imagine stopping anytime soon!

Breastfeeding is something I knew that I always wanted to do.  My mom breastfed my brothers and I and always talked so fondly of the experience.  When I became pregnant, she bought me La Leche League's book, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, to get me excited about the journey that was ahead of me.  I read the book cover to cover and absorbed all the information in anticipation of Liam's arrival.  I also attended my local La Leche League meeting during the last month of my pregnancy.  I wanted to get myself established with this group of women beforehand, so I had the support once my baby was born.  I loved being surrounded by so many nursing moms and hearing all of their advice and stories as I anxiously waited for Liam's birth.

I had a long and traumatic delivery (which you can read about here) and could not have been more exhausted once Liam was born.  However, nursing him was my top priority!  I wanted to try breastfeeding immediately.  After a little latch check on my nurse's pinky finger, Liam latched right away.  It was the most natural thing! Liam would start to fall asleep not long after beginning to nurse, so I would rub his little ears to encourage him along.  The following day, nursing was still going well for us; my chart even read that I was "breastfeeding with minimal assistance."  I was so proud of the two of us!  The first night we were home with Liam went fairly well.  Both my husband and I were exhausted and slightly worried that he wasn't getting any colostrum even though he was latching and sucking like a champ!  I was able to hand express some colostrum, so I felt confident that Liam was getting something for all his efforts; we decided to trust my body and trust Liam's instincts.  My milk came in 3 days after Liam was born and he continued to gain weight at an excellent rate.  During the 1st week, my nipples were slightly sore, but no bleeding or cracking.  I attribute this to the excellent latch Liam had and finding a nursing position that worked well for us.  I did use coconut oil to make sure my nipples wouldn't get too dry from all the nursing, and it seemed to work perfectly.

Since Liam was born, I have always nursed him on demand.  I am comfortable nursing in public and in front of others; so, whenever the baby is hungry, he eats!  And he eats a lot!  Nursing on demand helped me immensely when establishing my supply and fit right into my parenting style (I would
consider myself to follow many "attachment parenting" practices).  Breastfeeding came relatively easy to me, but not without a few struggles along the way.  When Liam was only a couple of months old, I started noticing that he would frequently choke at the beginning of a nursing session.  I had such a powerful letdown, sometimes he just couldn't handle it.  This resulted in him popping off my breast numerous times and breast milk going everywhere!  I had to change my shirt and bra multiple times a day.  I even embarrassingly sprayed down the lady sitting next to me at a La Leche League meeting once!  I had somewhat engorged breasts on a fairly regular basis and noticed that Liam was starting to have a bit of mucus in his stools.  All signs pointed to an "oversupply".

I of course asked for assistance at my next LLL meeting, and the women were so helpful!  I learned that if I laid way back while nursing Liam, the let down wasn't as powerful and he could handle it better.  I also began more of a block feeding schedule (feeding on one side for multiple nursing sessions before switching to the other breast).  These two things helped immensely and Liam and I were right back on track.  I would still say I have a bit of an oversupply, but I've learned to manage it.  Sometimes when Liam is teething or not feeling well, he doesn't eat nearly as much; therefore, I quickly become engorged.  I used to occasionally pump on those occasions, but now I just hand express enough to make myself comfortable.  Also, at 10 months post partum, I still have spontaneous let downs!  It blows my mind and is the strangest thing to be shopping or doing laundry and bam! all of sudden, milk is coming!  Because of this, I still wear nursing pads daily and have actually soaked through them on occasion!

These little speed-bumps in our nursing relationship have always worked themselves out!  I absolutely love breastfeeding and can't imagine raising Liam any other way.  It totally works for me and my family!  I have no plans to wean Liam anytime soon.  I hope that he self weans when we are both ready, but if not, I may start that process myself when my husband and I decide we are ready for baby #2.  For right now, I can't imagine not having the special time we share while breastfeeding.  Liam is so busy now that he is mobile; I just cherish the moments he settles down in my lap, looks up at me with his beautiful blue eyes and relaxes while getting a "snack".  Even though he nurses throughout the day and night, I love every moment!

For any new or expecting moms out there, I highly recommend reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and attending your local La Leche League meeting while in the last month or two of your pregnancy.  These two things will be a huge help and confidence booster as you head into your nursing relationship with your baby.  Trust your body and that it will provide for your child!  In the event that you experience any difficulties, I encourage you to surround yourself with supporters. Know that numerous women have worked through a multitude of breastfeeding struggles and gone on to nurse their babies for many months and even years!  You are about to embark on what I feel is one of the most wonderful and amazing journeys in a woman's life.  Embrace every minute that you can, it truly is one of the most special gifts!
All photos courtesy of Haley Sierra Wedding Photography

You can catch up with the rest of the Breastfeeding Diaries series at the top of my navigation bar.

May 28, 2013

Lessons Learned Over a Long Weekend...

1. Weekends should always be 3 days. Who do I speak with to get that changed?

2. Ashley Slater from The Sweet Season is just as sweet in person as she is on her blog. I finally got to meet her over the weekend and told her we have to be real life friends asap. 

3. Following me on instagram (girlintheredshoes) is good. You got saw this sneak peak of Hudson's photo session by Ashley. Oh my word, she is talented. 

 4. Sometimes you need a glass of wine to help you cope with all of the whine. Why didn't someone tell me this earlier?

5. Everything is better on a stick. See also: everything is better with wine. 

6. Babies in hats are hilarious. 

7. Dogs don't like birthday hats, even when you bribe them with a special birthday treat. (Wrigley is 4 years old today!!!)

May 24, 2013

Falling for Friday: Stripes

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Now that it's finally warming up around here I can't help but fall for some fun stripes for mommy and baby! What are you falling for this week?

May 22, 2013

The Breastfeeding Diaries: Janet from Love is Blonde

loveisblonde-bfing-twins
Hi everyone. I'm Janet, mom to 6-month-old twin boys Teddy and Holden. After a long journey getting to the point of bringing healthy babies home from the hospital, breastfeeding was our next, and biggest challenge. The good news is that my boys have been thriving on nearly 100% breastmilk for the past 6 months. The bad news is that we never really became successful at nursing, so I have become an "exclusive pumper," which is just as glamorous as it sounds.

I first wrote about my breastfeeding journey at the four month mark on my own blog, Love is Blonde. At that point, my boys were still nursing a few times each day, and getting the rest of their milk from a bottle. I called it "recreational nursing" because it was more of a bonding experience than anything. I was topping off their nursing sessions with bottles of expressed milk at nearly every feed. It was taking up all of my time just to nurse, bottle feed, and then pump for two babies!

Since that post we transitioned ever so gently to just pumping and bottles. I resisted it for so long, but I know I gave nursing everything I could for four months.

Now our daily schedule revolves around naps, playtime, and eating, and I am able to pump at (mostly) convenient times. We generally all wake up at 6am, and I give one baby a bottle, my husband gives the other baby a bottle, and I pump at the same time. Then I pump again around 11am, 4pm, 8pm, and 11pm -- "just" five times per day. This is a HUGE improvement from pumping 7-8 times per day! My 11pm pump is usually my only alone time for the day and I can catch up on emails, twitter and my DVR. Also, all of these times are flexible, as long as I don't go more than 5 or 6 hours between pumps.

One of the things I worried about as we moved to exclusive pumping was if I would still feel bonded to my babies during meal time. Turns out I did NOT need to worry about that. In fact, once the pressure for them to nurse went away, things got a lot better. I used to get my feelings hurt when the babies would reject my boobs. Irrational, I know, but it was hard to see them react to my breasts with crying, laughter, or refusal, and then happily devour a bottle the next second.

I want to gobble these babies up

Now I'm faced with how long to keep pumping, when to wean, etc. It's more emotional than I thought it would be. I'm proud to have made it to the six month mark and I know we will go a bit longer, but probably not to a full year. I'd rather be on the floor playing with my babies than hooked up to a pump and watching them play from afar. But, I'd still like to give them some breastmilk so we will keep going until it just doesn't make sense anymore.

I learned a couple of things along the way and the one that sticks with me is that even when it's easy, it's not easy. By that I mean, even if breastfeeding is going well (supply is good, babies are good at it, etc.), it's still hard work. It's around the clock without any breaks. Things happen -- clogs and supply dips and a zillion other things. Even the "best" breastfeeding experiences are not easy. I had to really learn and accept this so that I could stop idealizing breastfeeding, stop mourning my own breastfeeding shortcomings, and start accepting where I was in the process and celebrating what I was able to provide my babies.

Quite literally buried under a pile of babies

My hope is that every mom is able to feel proud of what she does for her babies, no matter how she feeds them. We all want to have happy, healthy, growing babies and there are many paths to get to that point. My path was a bit of a crazy one due to twins and prematurity, and I'm finally at a point where I am truly happy with where we are with breastfeeding.

Thank you so much for listening to my story, and for all of the mamas who shared their stories as well!

***If you are a mommy who's baby had a Milk Soy Protein Intolerance (MSPI) or similar food allergy or food intolerance I would love to hear from you and have you share your story. Email me at thegirlintheredshoes @ gmail

May 21, 2013

Brought to you by the letter "B"

"B" is for Boobie Biter. 



Dang it if that didn't hurt like crazy. 

Today I am especially thankful for my little boobie biter. I cannot imagine the pain of the mommies who lost their little ones in Oklahoma. Praying.

May 20, 2013

This weekend we....

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....finally got our first tooth!....(and now mommy needs a drink...)...

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....spent some time outside....

....ate some kitty....

....started doing this, which freaked mommy out....

....read some books....

....and generally just looked adorable....

How was your weekend?

May 16, 2013

Living Room Updates

 photo DSC_1170.jpgLast week I asked for your help with my living room....thanks for all of your great ideas! The rooms needs a major face lift in the form of pops of color. You can see the before here. Over the weekend I had made a few little changes, moved some furniture, and got new curtains!

 photo DSC_1175.jpgThe curtains are these from Target's Threshold line in navy. I'm thinking of adding pops of yellow, so I brought down two yellow pillows from my guest room to see if I liked the look. What do you think?
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 photo DSC_1177.jpgI also moved our side table from the left of the couch to the right in an attempt to baby proof and hide our laptop charger cord. Hudson has already pulled all of the picture frames out of the table, so that needs to be changed asap. I also want to pant the table...maybe yellow? Grey? Navy? Thoughts? And probably either paint the lamp or buy a new one too. 

This weekend I'm going to try and update the gallery wall behind the couch to add more color! 

 photo DSC_1183.jpgAnd in case you were wondering, here's the other, more chaotic, side of the room, thanks to Hudson and all his toys! The coffee table needs to be painted too...but what color?

 photo DSC_1190.jpgThis little munchkin is slowing down my progress in that room big time....good thing he's cute (and that spatulas entertain him for a few minutes!)

May 15, 2013

The Breastfeeding Diaries: Vanessa from Sunflower State of Mind

Hi everyone! I'm Vanessa from Sunflower State of Mind and I'm so excited to be here sharing my story with all of you.  A huge thanks to Julie for creating this series and for letting me be a part of it!  

Meet Arden.  She is almost 9 months old and the absolute light of our lives.  She loves bath time, peek-a-boo...and most of all, her dog Hazel.

My journey to becoming Arden's mom definitely wasn't picture-perfect (you can read more about that here if you want) and my breastfeeding story hasn't been either…but in the end, I believe both worked out just as they were supposed to.

Like so many other women, I always knew that I wanted to breastfeed my children.  Mostly because my mom and the other women in my family had done it...it was all I really knew.  I took the classes at the hospital, read all the books, but as my due date approached I got more and more anxious about the whole thing.  I would probably go as far as to say I was more nervous about nursing my newborn than actually giving birth to her!  Because of my fertility issues, I always felt like my body never did what it was supposed to and I worried it would react the same way to breastfeeding.

Arden's birth is still kind of a blur, but one thing I will never forget is the moment that the nurse laid her on my chest..my heart was overflowing with love. When it came time to feed her for the first time, I remember being pleasantly surprised at how well she latched on and how natural it all seemed.  The nurses gave me a few tips and cheered me along, but I still wasn't convinced that I was doing it right.  Over the next couple of days in the hospital, it was a lot of the same thing…everyone telling me what a great eater Arden was and me still not believing that it was working.  When we checked out of the hospital she had lost about 6oz, but the nurses and doctors assured us that that was normal.  I was still a little worried about the weight loss, so when I got home my mom encouraged me to try pumping to see what I could get.  On day 4 I was still getting just a tiny bit of colostrum. Of course I was amazed to see anything, but I knew that in most cases the milk would've already come in. With some guidance from my mom and sister, I kept pumping, trying to speed up the process and "get to the good stuff".  

Fast-forward to Arden's first doctors appointment at 5 days old--she was down another 4oz.  When the nurse announced her weight I just burst into tears.  I felt like my one job in this world was to provide nourishment for my child and I was failing miserably.  The doctor came in and I tried to keep it together, but when he started talking about malnourishment and brain shrinkage (yes, brain shrinkage), it was sob-city all over again.  He went on to tell me that sometimes it just doesn't work out to breastfeed and that I couldn't beat myself up about it.  The ugly crying continued and he asked his nurse to give me some formula samples to get us started.  When we walked out of the doctor's office I felt completely defeated…not only had I let myself down, but I had let my baby down.  Luckily I had my husband and my mom to reel me back in and encourage me not to give up on it just yet.  I didn't want to, but I also didn't want Arden to go hungry.  Once I had calmed down, the three of us came up with a plan.  First thing was to give Arden a bottle of formula to ease my mind. I needed to know she had a full belly, even if it wasn't from me.  Next I called around and found a lactation consultant who could come to my house the next day.  She gave me tips and taught me about different nursing positions…but most of all, she provided me with confidence and assured me that there was no reason that breastfeeding couldn't work for us.  She also witnessed our dog eating the remains of Arden's umbilical stump that had fallen off...but that's a different story for a different day ;)

For the next couple of weeks our schedule looked something like this: 1oz of formula, nurse, pump whatever was left to build up my supply, repeat.  By the time I finished this routine it would be time for the next feeding.  It was exhausting, but so worth it when I finally saw that real milk being pumped…and even better when at 2 weeks old, sweet Arden was back up to her birth weight.

After those 2 weeks I was able to swap out the formula for breast milk, and after a month we dropped the bottle-supplementing all together!  From that point until about 4 months, Arden was gaining weight like a champ.  It was at her 4-month well check that she had gained weight, just not as much as in the months past.  The pediatrician told me that my supply was probably dwindling and ordered the nurse to give me a handout on starting solids and weaning.  I didn't cry this time…instead I found a new pediatrician :) I also reached out to my lactation consultant, my mom and my sister to get their advice…and of course, they all encouraged me not to throw in the towel just yet.  And thank goodness I didn't because now here we are at almost 9 months and still going strong!  There have been many bumps in the road--from nursing strikes, to biting, and everything in between--but I'm so thankful we've been able to make it through them.  That's the thing about breastfeeding (and parenting in general, I suppose)…just when you think you've got it figured out, everything changes and there is a new challenge before you.  Babies sure do keep you on your toes, don't they?!

While I'm by no means an expert breastfeeder (if there is such a thing!), I wanted to share a list of tips that I've put together for moms-to-be or new moms who have just started out on the breastfeeding journey...
  • Sometimes it really hurts.  I remember wincing in pain every time I fed Arden for the first 3 weeks.  Giving birth to my sweet girl was the best day of my life, but the first time that I nursed her without pain was a close second!  Just stock up on soothies and lanolin and know that it will get easier. I promise!
  • Every baby will eventually get quicker and more efficient.  While I love, love, love the bonding experience and I wouldn't trade it for anything, I'm so glad that Arden doesn't nurse for an hour at every feeding anymore.  Yes, I said an hour.  According to my BabyConnect app, I nursed my child for a whopping 162 hours in her first month of life.  Wowza!  Needless to say, I dominated every season of Parenthood and Downton Abbey and became a pro at making Target runs in 36 minutes or less :)  And now I'm happy to say that we're down to 5-7 minute sessions these days. Hallelujah! 
  • Start pumping as soon as possible.  If we are blessed with another child, I will have a whole new game plan, which will include asking the nurse to wheel that hospital-grade pump right into my room.  I'll start pumping right away and will have no problem supplementing with formula until my milk comes in.  
  • Get your partner involved.  Chris came to classes, met with the lactation consultant, and was with me every step of the way.  Not only did I love having his support, but I think it made him feel closer to Arden and more involved in the whole process.
  • Build a support system!  There will undoubtedly be people along the way that try to discourage you or tell you to give up, so you'll need plenty of others who will cheer you on and give you a boost when necessary.  I would also recommend finding a lactation consultant before you deliver, if possible.  If I'd had an appointment already made it would've been far less stressful coming home from the hospital.
  • Keep practicing with a bottle even once your baby has mastered it.  Arden was a champ with the bottle from the get-go and she didn't seem to have any problem switching back and forth.  But when I decided not to go back to work, we spent very little time apart and I went a couple of months without giving her a bottle.  Big whoops.  Now the little rascal refuses it altogether.
  • Bookmark "The Timeline of a Breastfed Baby". A friend sent this to me when Arden was a couple of months old and I've been following along ever since.  Such a great resource!
  • Soak up the sweet moments.  My goal is to continue breastfeeding through Arden's first birthday but I'm already starting to get emotional about "the end".  I love the bond that only we share and I cherish the moments where she rests her palm on my cheek or falls asleep with her hand on my chest.  I swear it takes me back to that first moment in the hospital and I am just overwhelmed with the amount of love I have for this little person.
  • Do what's best for you.  Although I didn't want to hear the pediatrician say that sometimes it doesn't work out...he was right.  Sometimes it doesn't and that's okay.  One thing I've learned from this series is that every single person's story is different...and no matter which route you take, it will be the right one.
I have learned so much from the other women who have contributed to the Breastfeeding Diaries and I hope that my story might provide a little bit of encouragement to even one person out there.  Thanks again to Julie for letting me be a part of it all!

I love that Vanessa said "no matter which route you take, it will be the right one." Such great advice for all mommies, not just one's who breastfeed. We are all doing our best.

Make sure you catch up with the rest of the Breastfeeding Diaries series at the top of my navigation bar, or by clicking here
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