Breastfeeding 2.0

For those of you who were raised in a slightly repressed setting (as was I), I give you warning: I’m talking about breasts today.

Well, not the actual breasts. Just what you do with them. Er. What they’re meant to be used for.

That’s a great start.

Anyway, so if you’re not into discussing breastfeeding, you might want to skip today. Don’t worry, though. I won’t be offended.

Breastfeeding 2.0
For those of you who stuck around, here goes. We’re about two months into this whole “second baby” thing. In some ways, it’s been one of the hardest things ever. In other ways, it’s been easier than expected. I’ll get into that another day, but suffice it to say, breastfeeding is going smoothly.

I’m sure I just jinxed myself.

When she was first born, Harper was taken away just as Hadley was to be introduced to a few family members, measured, and all that fun stuff. I was surprised (and over-the-moon happy) that they didn’t clean her up since there are many benefits to be had by delaying baby’s first “bath.”

Another thing that went down differently than with Hadman was that they got her back to me to feed quickly. Apparently, due to his size (and sheer lung capacity), he was given a bottle in the nursery. Big no-no. I was too out-of-it to be upset and he latched immediately, so I figured that one taste of formula wasn’t a huge deal. As long as he took to the breast, I was happy.

Harper’s what we call our little bird. She’s smaller than he was (by 2 pounds), so while she’s a good-sized baby, she feels tiny by comparison. She also feeds like a bird, head darting all over, eyes closed. All the cuteness, I tell ya. And she did this from the start. Yup, she latched immediately.

I’m what you would call “lucky.” Not bragging here, just being uber grateful.

Compared to our experiences with Had, we’re not bumping into nearly as many issues. She has gas (or some such pain) once in awhile, but not the consistent, ear-piercing, heart-stopping screaming he encountered. For the most part, she’s consolable and calmable with one of the many techniques we learned on Baby #1.

And, ultimately, it seems that the one thing that helps this time around is just that. Experience. We’re much less frazzled when the little birdie starts chirping or gets too worked up to latch or has a bout of fussiness. We know that we’ll get through it because, well, we already have once before. It’s all good.

So, what are our breastfeeding goals? I’m still not a very public breastfeeder, simply out of my own hang-ups. I’ll do it in the car and might cover up in front of most family members (I don’t think she’s a fan, so I don’t do it often). I have friends who have had very public battles over their open nursing, so I’m definitely not against it. I’d actually very willingly call people out for attacking a woman’s right if I were to see it in person. But, I just choose to head to a bedroom, the car, or schedule things around feeding time, myself. Isn’t it nice to have dreams?

Otherwise, the goal is to feed our girl this way as long as she likes. For Hadley, that meant until about 18 months (having weaned for quite awhile at that point – he just wanted an evening comfort nursing at the end there). For Harp, it could mean 12 months…it could mean 24. Who knows? And, honestly, it’s so relatively easy that I don’t mind it.

Of course, pumping is a while other issue. THAT, I DO mind. Such a pain. But, I’ve started using a manual pump to store up a small stash for our eventual first date night and for when/if I head back to work.

In Your Face!

There was a time when I would stick my hand in my mailbox and find an unexpected rush of emotions. Perhaps stress, perhaps guilt, but always a general sense of negativity. Damn you, mailbox. Damn you.

But, I’m friends with the mail again. (Really, it’s not Mr. Mailbox’s fault. He’s just doing his job, quiet and stalwart.) Aside from the rather normal frustration of bills, those “surprise” packages and large envelopes don’t get to me anymore. The only remorse I feel is the fact that I’m adding to the waste issue in America by dumping the contents in the garbage or recyclables.

I’ve gotta say, though, Enfamil and Similac really have their marketing schemes tuned perfectly to the New Mom Channel. Considering the cost of formula, I’m sure some parents are grateful and even relieved to find a $5 off coupon here or there, or even a whole box containing a free, full-sized sample of their product. I get it, I do.

But, for those of us who are making attempts at nursing (and I won’t get into the “breast is best” stuff — doing what’s best for YOU and YOUR situation/family is truly what’s best, no judgment!), those packages can be a punch to the gut. Actually, yeah. It does truly feel like someone’s punching you. Best way to describe it.

There are even reminders on the envelopes saying, “If nursing isn’t working out…” or “Breastfeeding can be hard, there’s no harm in supplementing with formula” or “You’ve reached the 4-month mark, it’s time to give yourself a break”. ARE. YOU. KIDDING?! *words that aren’t really words but I utter them in my own language to avoid extensive profanity* Yes. Words. Blerg.

They’ve got their fingers on the pulse, alright. They know that breastfeeding is a downright challenge. I’ve never ran a marathon before, but I imagine it’s similar — ups and downs, a very long trail to a very emotional end that, once accomplished, you feel victorious for. And, for those who can’t make it through, it must feel just like quitting a race — deflating, demoralizing, downright depressing. And they’re playing right into that emotion.

I’m lucky. We’ve certainly had our ups and downs, but aside from some mysterious issues that are non-food-related (we hope), it has been what I like to call “an eventual success.” We no longer have to fight to get a proper latch. We no longer have *ahem* glorious, obnoxious, unexpected fountains. We no longer find him crying during meals (other than when he WANTS to eat). We no longer have an ounce of pain. It might have started miraculously, then reality sank in, but our new reality is that we’re a BFing family. I have an awesome son who now does exactly what he’s supposed to, an incredible husband who has the perfect instinct (definite Papa Bear going on), and I have finally learned, through trials and tribulations, how to feed my son. Not everyone is this lucky.

My supportive family, luck and general stubbornness have brought me to this point, and nothing else. So, thanks to those reasons, I find that I have developed an armor — an armor that Similac can *poink* bounce off and a shield that tells Enfamil to kiss my…erm, hand.

If there wasn’t such a fast expiration date, I’d try to put aside the coupons for anyone who may use them (but you find out so-and-so only uses the soy version of Similac and you only have Enfamil, or vice versa). No one at school has babies that are using formula (got another BFer in the house, though, yay!). And, in a horrible excuse for humankind, we’re simply too busy to drop them off at a home for women in need. So, the guilt of waste (and being unable to help) is still there…but my mail emotions are no longer of guilt. Triumph? Yes.

Leaky Boobs is Right

If you’re not into breastfeeding or think there’s too much of an “ick visual” (I mean you, brothers :-)), please feel free to skip reading this post. Otherwise, be sufficiently forewarned that this is a TMI post. Thankyouverymuch.

I “like” a blogger/support group (although there’s often more argumentation over whether folks are pro-formula, pro-healthy babies, pro-breastfeeding/anti-formula, etc — it’s still a good resource, though) on Facebook by the name of “Leaky Boobs.” Gotta say…their name ain’t lyin’. Those babies, on occasion and without any warning of any kind, will soak through a pad, bra and T-shirt. Can you say “wop wop” moment?! Thank goodness that it hasn’t happened in front of a library full of students…yet.

When I started this post, Hadley was three weeks old and was not on a true feeding schedule yet. We’ve come a long way! There have been ups ‘n downs, including fighting off the occasional blocked milk duct, but I’m currently claiming breastfeeding as a success in our household. (Please, karma, don’t bite me in the arse on this one — I know this can take a quick turn for the worse!!!) Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly (so far!) for any of those interested in knowing —

The Good

The benefits! All the antibodies and kazillion other goodies that are provided in breastmilk? Fuggeddaboutit. Crazy healthy. Oh, and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE know that I’m a total proponent of formula — heck, it’s FOOD made for BABIES, so it’s MUCH more important for folks to keep up the growth and nutrition of their babies rather than NOT feed them enough over principle. (I kid you not, I heard of a woman who didn’t feed her baby for DAYS after bringing them home, so stubborn was she over breastfeeding.) I know the guilt over not breastfeeding these days, and I would’ve been pretty devastated had I not been able to breastfeed, but ultimately what’s most important is that baby. As with all things, remember that we all have our own minds and MUST use them, regardless of the strong “voices” that insist we “must” do one thing or another. You’re the parent; do your own research and make your own decision. If you don’t, I honestly fear for your kid. Oh, and raise your hand if you were formula-fed. You can’t see, but my hand’s up…you also can’t see, but I don’t have a third eye or hugely horrific underlying conditions. At least, not of which I’m aware. 😉

He latched immediately. It was a miracle, and yep, I cried over it. (You’ll see below that miracles can be fleeting.)

At three weeks in, I was finally able to pump, so I could share one or two feedings a day (before returning to work) with Dave. While I wasn’t much for napping, it’s mostly about seeing him be able to share in and connect with the lil’ guy. (That’s what we found to be most rewarding, at least.) Now that I’ve returned to work, pumping in the library’s back room has been working out – although I always get a twinge of nerves over exposing my boobies in school (yes, it’s secluded and locked, but I’ve been trained to be appropriate at work!).

Now, at 7+ weeks, it’s become close to second nature. We’re bonding more, although he’s generally more concerned with staring off into space than looking at me very much. We still have the occasional fussy moment, but I’ve determined the two possible causes (more often than not, gas…or MAYBE a wet diaper, just maybe). Oh, and our secret weapon? The pacifier. More on that below.

The Bad

While he’ll fall asleep at the end of a breastfeeding session (woohoo!), for some odd reason he doesn’t find sleep at the end of a bottle. Makes it tough for his babysitter/grandma. He also doesn’t seem to be able to know when to STOP eating from a bottle, so he’ll go through a full 5+ ounces. (Actually, more like 6oz. even these days.) He was doing this at 2 weeks old. That’s ca-raz-ay! Chunkamunk!! (And, yes, while he was over 10 lbs. at birth, and is steadily increasing now, he doesn’t LOOK like a porker. I am observing some porkier tendencies lately, though – ie arms ‘n legs. Not that it’s a concern. Newborns are SUPPOSED to eat. It’s just something I have to continue to watch to know that he’s getting enough.)

Ouch. That whole “it doesn’t hurt to breastfeed” thing (for me, at least) seems to be a crock. The first time we fed, almost immediately after he was born, it didn’t hurt – but I was numb from the stomach down and was pumped with painkillers. Since then, I’ve learned about the variety of pains that accompany breastfeeding. Hadley started off to be a bit of a “chewer/chomper/grinder”, so I had lots of cracked/bleeding nipple issues. We now have this under control, but at 3 weeks he was still incredibly frustrated at times (which inevitably means he cried bloody murder, making his tongue shoot up to the roof of his mouth…taking forever to latch under those circumstances), so he’d still chomp from time to time. There was also a pinching sort of feeling at times, and often some soreness. And, of course, the pain of blocked milk ducts feels like a pinched nerve or pulled muscle, along with a lump or two or more. Way better than mastitis (which I’m PRAYING I never get!!!), but still obnoxious and, at times, unbearable. But, the pain is getting to be less and less, and some days not at all noticeable. It’s like your nipples change sensitivity…weird.

Over-exhaustion + frustration = where the eff did I put my patience?! My oh-so-kind husband has said numerous times lately, “I don’t know how you do it” (and sweetly says that I haven’t lost my patience…well, maybe once or twice…ha!) I have surprised myself at keeping my cool, but I’ve thrown my head back in frustration more times than I could count. Reason #1 is when Had’s either over-tired, gassy, or otherwise frustrated, hence gets overly aggressive and has a hard time latching. (Reason #2 is when he just WON’T fall asleep! Whether crying or not, when YOU’RE tired, it sucks.) At least I’ve got the hubby fooled into thinking I’m generally patient…mwahaha. 😉

Pay no attention to the pump instructions.
After days of sending Dave, my parents and, finally, myself to search for a different piece for my breast pump (eventually determined that it’s not MADE anymore), I realized that the instructions regarding nipple size, etc was a bunch of crap. It was a huge pain in the butt, especially in the midst of the exhaustion and trying to heal from the C-section. Damn you, Medela. Damn. You. To. Heck. Although, admittedly, the visual of my stepfather OPENING boxes of pump parts up at Babies ‘R Us with his Swiss Army knife still dissolves me into a fit of giggles.

The Ugly

I wasn’t raised in a very physical family. Not a lot of hugging or kissing. There’s love, of course, but emotions weren’t really worn on sleeves a whole lot. Needless to say, we were pretty discreet as far as nudity ‘n stuff, too. Sure, my sister and I shared the bathtub and a certain member of the household peed with the door open, but that’s pretty much where the line was drawn. So, no matter how I try to get my head into the “embrace public breastfeeding” game, I’ve got walls up. You can tell me a million times how okay it is to do and that people need to get used to public BF, but you just can’t break down that wall. I don’t feed in front of family (with the exception of Dave and my sister); not even my mom. This might change as time goes by, especially as it gets more streamlined and easier, and he fusses way less frequently. But, I should say that the places I’ve fed him so far include the mall parking lot, the Holland Farms parking lot (mmm, half moons), the Babies ‘R Us courtesy room, Dave’s bedroom from when he was a teenager, and a couple of other odd bedrooms. I’m sure it’s only gonna get stranger.

So. Much. Stigma. Sure, some of it must be based in truth. But, in my case, we’ve been lucky and the bad things I’d heard about that would SURELY throw BF out of whack simply didn’t. Maybe it’s because we’re publicly quiet about it. Regardless, the ugliness – be it from the “everyone MUST breastfeed, if you’re not you’re doing something wrong” side or the “I’m offended that you’re using your body in such a disgusting manner” side – is a sad thing. Luckily, we generally don’t deal with it.

Ouch 2.0. Sure, there’s been boob pain, but a less-expected pain? The ol’ back. Between leaning over a pack ‘n play for everything from changes to sponge bath sessions (yes, he does get bathed in the sink, too) and general games of peek-a-boo and mimicry, a new parent’s expected to have some aches and pains. Pile on the pain of wearing a bra 24/7 and the additional weight that these puppies now carry and it can be excruciating. I was big before (at times uncomfortably so), but this is…unpleasant.

Moo. I mentioned above the fact that I’m able to pump at work and when I’m not with Hads. It’s great, it really is. If we didn’t have the technology to be able to pump, I’m not sure Hadley would be on breastmilk at all. (I have yet to attempt hand-expressing.) But it is starting to feel normal to pump, and only because routine breeds a feeling of normalcy. Otherwise, there’s anxiety of being at school, or the fact that I’ve caught my husband staring, half in awe, half in what seemed to be terror, as this heaving, sighing machine milked me like a cow. I’ve milked cows and never felt this weird before. Oh, and I even had “the opportunity” to try out the battery pack for it, pumping in the backseat of my car in a full parking lot overlooking lots o’ city traffic. My first attempt was great. When I returned during my lunch hour, a woman was taking her lunch hour (apparently by sitting in her car doing nothing other than directly facing me). I’m used to putting on shows, but…yeah. It’s definitely one of the “uglies” of BF.

Not all nipples are created equal. I’ve never been a fan of mine, but throw in the extra heft goin’ on, they were bound to get…erm…bigger. So, all those shots that we see of a baby BFing but there’s almost a sense of modesty to it since their head (or mouth!) is covering all of mama’s *gasp*-inducing naughty bits…yeah, that doesn’t really happen with us. It is what it is.

And on that TMI note, I leave you with a video that I recently viewed. While I don’t use Luvs, I luv the vid (even though I’d never treat a waiter or other customer service provider this way!) I’m sure I’ll be back for BF follow-ups, but, man it took me awhile to finally write this one!

Sock Sack O’ Beans

I know what you’re going to think — “Wait. You’ve been absent HOW LONG and all you’re going to write about is a stupid DIY heating pad? What about the B-A-B-Y?!?!” And you’re more than entitled to have those thoughts. But, let’s just say that it takes all the power in me to write a post at all.

Not saying that I’m that full-blown exhausted that everyone talks about. Sure, tired, but generally speaking I’m doing fine. Got some strong emotions going on that I’m sure I could talk about (no post-partum depression, though, as far as I can tell :-D), but I don’t really feel like wasting time discussing that stuff, either. But my days have been pretty much a sequestered existence consisting of rotating feedings and changings. So, I thought, “I could wallow in the fact that it’s now August (“sweat drops, sweat drops” – anyone? “SNL”/”Cathy”?) or I could finally write a blog post.” So, here I be! Arrrgh.

Yeah. Maybe I am a tad overtired. I’ve had one nap since we brought the baby home. I’m not a big “napper”, but maybe I should take advantage of “free time” while I still can.

Why the HECK is this post about an old sock filled with dried beans? Because I don’t make it out of the house much…I needed a heating pad solution…and I was pretty proud that I made one. Don’t judge. These days, it’s the little things that make me happy.

So, I suppose what I’m getting at is more so the fact that I need a heating pad in the first place. As far as pain goes, I’m usually pretty tough, and wouldn’t have anything on hand for aches and pains. Hey, I felt like I was, in a way, gypped over Hadley’s birth in having a C-section; I didn’t get to experience LABOR and didn’t have much pain (beyond the whole issue of coughing, sneezing, laughing, etc with that darned incision), but I’ll post more on that when I feel good ‘n ready to do so. 😉 Long story short, though, through our trials and triumphs of breastfeeding (also more on that in a future post), I seem to have developed a blocked milk duct.

Funny. Had’s got a blocked tear duct that causes one of his eyes to goober up with yellow stuff (not puss, and ’tis completely normal – believe me, the doc has been consulted as to every inch of his cute lil’ body). Wonder if there’s a connection beyond grammatical. And, now, I’m not leaking yellow goobers.

Anyhoo, being a) quite the independent bugger and b) more than a tad intimidated by the overbearing lactation consultants, I’m determined to handle this issue on my own – unless, of course, it becomes a bigger issue (ie mastitis…an infection…in da booby. Yeah. Let’s hope not, shall we?). So, after researching via books ‘n the interwebs, I found myself filling a cute ol’ sock with dried beans. I wasn’t up for going all Martha Stewart with my sewing machine, so I took the easy way out.

Between using my bean-filled buddy (microwaved for a couple of minutes and wrapped in a kitchen towel), “pressure massaging”, attempting to pump (and feed) more on “that side”, and taking the occasional ibuprofen, I’m hoping that the issue

Otherwise, for those of you who are wondering (and since it’s World Breastfeeding Week), I should say that breastfeeding has been a challenge — and, in some ways, way easier than I had expected (example being – even though Hadley had been given a small bottle right after he was born — due to his size and a necessity to keep his body heat regulated, and the fact that I was getting stitched…er, stapled up — when he was brought back to me in Recovery, he immediately latched on — what a moment!) and in others, purdy darn frustrating (example – let’s just say he doesn’t always latch well, and he’s got a temper AND an impatient streak that make for meltdowns…can’t IMAGINE where he got those traits, hee hee). That’s the nature of breastfeeding, though.

I should shout from the rooftops that I’m terribly lucky. I’ve healed very well, have lost weight VERY quickly (some might say TOO much too fast – I swear I’m eating and trying to drink enough for the both of us, though! And, no worries, my tummy still looks like a satellite image being beamed in from Mars), can almost always get him to settle down for a feeding (even when there are latching issues), am able to pump so Dave (AKA “The Dorky Daddy”, AKA “Best Father and Husband on Earth”) can have some one-on-one time with his little man…and, miracle of miracles, my milk came in before leaving the hospital. The little guy was already starting to gain weight after his first week home, so all appears to be working! And, hey. Isn’t that all that matters? 🙂

Thanks, as always, for reading. I promise to write the birth story when I’m up to it, as well as more on breastfeeding. Oh, and for those who are wondering, we’re not using cloth diapers quite yet — not with how quickly this lil’ guy goes through them, and with how few we currently own. Gonna stock up and move onto that next step when things are a tad more, um, solid. One thing at a time, but we’ll get there. Oh, and just so I’m not a completely stingy b-word keeping things from you, here’s the unofficial birth announcement for those of you who may not have heard —

Our wonderful Hadley Allston was born on  
Friday, July 13th at 11:48am via scheduled C-section.
He weighed 10 lbs., 1 3/4 oz and was 22″ in length.