Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Breastfeeding with P-Nut: Part 1

Every time I've mentioned breastfeeding so far with P-Nut I've said, "it's going great" or "she's a breastfeeding champ!" That was the case in the very beginning but things have most certainly changed and I've been experiencing some hardships.

First of all I will say that although I chose to breastfeed both Little C and P-Nut, I do not think that formula is evil. I breastfed C for one month before switching to exclusively pumping. That lasted for 2 1/2 months. So all-in-all C received breast milk for 3 1/2 months (along with supplementing when necessary) and straight formula the rest of his first year.  We are also currently supplementing with P-Nut as needed.

I'm not here to preach about how "breast is best" I just want to share my story in hopes to help someone in a similar situation. I hope everyone out there does what is best for them and their baby.

As for me, I really want to breastfeed for as long as I can but I will be the first to tell you that I'm seriously going day-to-day on that right now. It is not easy and even though I believe in the benefits of breastfeeding I also believe that a happy mom makes for a happy family. Right now, breastfeeding is not making me happy. I will touch more on that topic in another post because I want this to be focused on the logistics of what is going on.

From the beginning we've had a good latch and Little Miss P-Nut is doing her part as far as sucking goes. That is already leaps and bounds better than it was with Little C. But then all of a sudden she started becoming extremely fussy in the evenings and every time I offered her my breast she would pull off and shake her head from side to side very quickly as she cried. I assumed it was because I didn't have enough milk for her at the end of the day and she was angry about it.

I started to pump in the mornings to ensure we had a bottle (or more) for her in the evenings when she would start fussing and that seemed to make her happy. She did not experience any confusion switching back and forth between breast and the bottle. 

Since I wanted to have a bottle for her each night I started to feel pressure to make sure I was able to pump one for her. I wanted to avoid the stress her and I felt each evening while she was fussing terribly and having the bottle also allowed the Hubs to participate and give me a break. But the stress I put on myself to get that bottle would cause me to sit at my pump with nothing coming out! My milk would not let-down. That is a terrible feeling.

I would sit for 20-30 minutes with not so much as an ounce coming out. I would start to get tense which didn't help anything, plus I was in pain. I noticed after a long day of breastfeeding, and especially after I pumped, that the tips of my nipples turned white. They were so incredibly painful and uncomfortable. I'm talking pain radiating from the tip of my nipple, deep into my back. It goes away but while it's there I am miserable.

So between my fussy baby refusing my breast, the lack of let-down at the pump, and the pain radiating from my white nipples, I knew I needed some help. In addition to doing some research online I made an appointment with a lactation consultant (LC). I am so glad that I did!

She came to my house and spent two hours with me observing, offering advice and answering a plethora of questions. Here is what I learned:

1) I have a forceful let-down. Based on what the consultant saw, P-Nut was pulling off my breast because the milk was coming too fast for her to handle. And here I thought it was because I wasn't producing enough milk. The LC showed me some positions for breastfeeding to help ease the forcefulness of the let-down. I also learned more from the Kelly Mom website.

2) The white nipples are caused by something called a vasospasm. The blood vessels are constricted during nursing and when the baby releases and blood is able to flow back into the nipples which is when the pain is experienced. Also, since I have the forceful let-down P-Nut is clamping down on the nipple to try and slow the flow.

Another possible cause of the vasospasm is something called Raynaud's phenomenon which causes poor circulation to the nipples and sometimes other extremities. I don't think Raynaud's is the culprit at this point but I will be discussing it with my OB/GYN at my postpartum appointment.

  • The most important solution for this is to make absolutely sure that her latch is correct and to not let either of us get lazy with it. (So far this has been a huge help)
  • After pumping I immediately put a dry, warm heat up to the nipples. I could use a rice sock or a heating pad but so far it works if I just use my forearms or press a blanket against myself and wait for my nipples to get back to normal. I have to press very firmly to ensure I don't feel the pain. Before I knew what this was I didn't want to touch my nipples for fear it would make the pain worse. I'd wait to put my bra back on and I would just let those suckers air out. Turns out I was causing the pain to be worse by handling it that way because cold air leads to poor circulation. I'm so glad I know this now!
3) P-Nut has colic and a food allergy. I had mentioned in my 1 Month Mama/Baby update that my little bundle is super gassy. At first we were told it was normal but then it started to get worse. More constant and very stinky. It was also apparent that the gas was causing her pain and she would arch her back and cry... A LOT. She developed a rash on her neck and cheeks. Reddish little bumps that were found no where else on her body. The LC suspected a food allergy and urged me to call the Pediatrician.
  • Our Pediatrician agreed that the rash was from a food allergy and she recommended that I cut out dairy from my diet. The proteins found in cow's milk can be very hard for baby's system to digest and that is probably the culprit for the gas. Also, the forceful let-down can cause gas so everything we've been experiencing is all related.
  • The LC urged us to get different bottles. I've been using the Medela bottles that came with my pump. They are what we used for Little C so I didn't go out and buy any new ones. Apparently, Medela's bottles are the worst for letting air in and are not good to use with colicky babies. Who knew?!?! I purchased Dr. Brown's wide mouth bottles for colic and they have been working great.
  • We use gripe water when necessary and use all the soothing methods we know of when P-Nut has an episode. All of the combined efforts are really helping.
  • We should use a soy based formula when we supplement. Other formula's are milk based so we had to make the switch. The Pediatrician also said that since we are only using the formula to supplement an ounce here and there, we could go with the more cost effective Target brand which is a very good product. I love how she looks out for my baby and my wallet!
4) Relax at the pump. If I put pressure on myself to pump 10 oz. (5oz. on each side) every time I hook up to the machine, I will drive myself crazy. Now that I know why P-Nut was fussy in the evenings I don't feel as much pressure to have a bottle for her every night. I still try for that but I've taken the pressure away. Now, even if I get 2oz on each side I don't stress because we have techniques to soothe her when the colic flares up and we have the soy formula for when there isn't enough breast milk. Pumping has been much better since I've relaxed.

So there you have it. If you take anything away from this post it is that breastfeeding is not for the faint of heart. If you are committed to it I urge you to get as much help as possible, whenever possible. Don't suffer through it. Doing research online is a great start but getting help from a real person who knows what they are talking about is by far the way to go.

My experience with Little C could have been much different if I had done more research and was willing to get out of my comfort zone and ask for help. And I would still be letting my poor nipples "air dry" after pumping, causing me more pain and I'd still be eating dairy and have a very angry baby on my hands if I hadn't sought out help.

Like I said before, do what is best for you and your baby and please know that you are not alone. Breastfeeding is not a piece of cake for everyone and you will find that there are more moms who struggled or are struggling with it than those who have no problems. And be sure to never forget those five important words...

You are doing a great job.

Keep it up, mama!

For my Part 2 installment click here.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Five Words Every Mom Needs to Hear

My day started at 7am. Well actually that's a lie... my day never really started because the day before never really ended. Or the day before that, or the day before that. As I enter each sleepless night and then spill into the daytime, everything kind of blends together.

But for all intensive purposes, my day started at 7am.

It was my first full day with both Little C (22 months old) and P-Nut (5 weeks old). We were going to be visited by a dear friend of mine and her 20 month old daughter.

I had t-minus two and a half hours to prepare my house, my toddler, my newborn and myself for their arrival. I managed to tidy up the place, get the toddler fed, get the newborn nursed, get us all dressed and even had my teeth brushed and the crust wiped from my eyes before she knocked on my door.

Our visit was spent running after the toddlers with me mostly reprimanding mine as he would not share any of his toys with his little friend. I dealt with screaming, and repetitive bad behavior and did my best to not lose my shit in front of my friend.

While all of this was happening Miss P-Nut would not go down for a nap or be placed down for even a second with out crying. I attempted to nurse her but then I wasn't free to chase after C and was just yelling at him from a chair. Not productive. So I gave her a pumped bottle and we moved on.

In order to get P-Nut calmed down after her bottle I put her in the Moby Wrap and suggested that we take a walk outside so that there were no toys for C to be territorial over and we could all get some fresh air.

Even outside C still would not play nice with our visitor so we headed back home. There was screaming over snack options. There was fighting over who got to ride on the scooter and who got to ride on the busy bee. P-Nut was wailing and the entire time and I was mortified.

I was embarrassed for my son's behavior and I was really stressed out that I couldn't get P-Nut to calm down. I also started to get engorged since I didn't breastfeed earlier. I was a mess. It felt like my friend and her daughter had spent half the day with us but all of this happened within an hour and a half!

Toward the end of our "visit," if you can even call it that since we barely were able to catch up, Little C was still being a booger and P-Nut was wailing from her crib. I'm sure I looked as mortified as I felt and as I went to hug my friend she looked me straight in the eyes and said...

"You're doing a great job."

Man, did I need to hear that. As I spend each day wondering if I'm doing anything right, trying to cater to my toddler's needs and my baby's needs simultaneously. It feels too often that I'm some how failing or that I'm just a hamster on a wheel running, running, running.

My friend's comment put air back in my lungs. Brought my shoulders back down to their place and not tensed up by my ears. Those five simple words gave me confidence and drive to keep on keeping on.

So, to all the moms out there, you're doing a great job. Never forget it.

Thank you, K for being such a good friend. For not passing judgement, but instead providing encouragement and solidarity when I needed it the most. Your friendship means the world to me and you are also a wonderful mother.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day from Little C

Hi, guys! It's me, Little C.

Mom says today is Valentine's Day and that I am her Valentine. Then she said Dad is her Valentine too and she walked over and smooched him! Right on the lips! GROSS.

Today marks my second Valentine's Day and unlike last year, I think I'm going to have a much harder go at things. I started a new school and in a class of 11 there are only 3 girls!!! I'm going to have to pull out all the stops. Or maybe not, I mean, just look at me...

Who couldn't resist this face?
So with that, I'm off to take another crack at finding love. Wish me luck! 
And in case you missed it, here is what went down last year: Baby Boy's Valentine Adventure
Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Bob Knows Best

The countdown to Valentine's Day is in full swing! I wanted to share one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite people, Bob Marley. Not only do I enjoy his music, but the message he conveys is one of positivity and love.
I also love Bob Marley because my husband loves him. I had known his "mainstream" songs but it wasn't until I started my relationship with my husband that I was introduced to his entire collection. I went from liking his music to loving it, mostly because my husband loved him so much and now Bob's songs remind me of the man I love. We even use his music to soothe our children. It really works, I recommend you try it!
Here is the quote: 
 He's not perfect. You aren't either, and the two of you will never be perfect. But if he can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can. He isn't going to quote poetry, he's not thinking about you every moment, but he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break. Don't hurt him, don't change him, and don't expect more than he can give. Don't analyze. Smile when he makes you happy, yell when he makes you mad, and miss him when he's not there. Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect guys don't exist, but there's always one guy that is perfect for you.

--Bob Marley
My favorite part is, "he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break." Most men have two sides to them. The side that they share with the world and the side they reserve for you. That side is private and the fact that you've been able to witness the humility and the tenderness that not everyone gets to see is a true gift. Everyone likes your partner for guy he is, but you love him for the man he's shared with your heart.
So, Mr. Marley, I will take your advice and hold onto my guy. I love my man, and he's definitely perfect for me.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Mama and Baby - Month 1

I can't believe it's been a month since P-Nut's birth!

Then I look at myself in the mirror and think, "yup, it's been a month." 

I've said it before and I'll say it again... this two kids stuff is no joke! It's a non-stop force. I was exhausted and zombie-ish with my first baby but now that baby is a toddler and I have a newborn to go with it. You can take the previous exhaustion and zombie-ness and multiply it by 10,000!!!

But this post isn't about how tired I am or how truly tough having two under two can be. That's a given, and I'm not the first mom to go through it so I will momentarily suck it up and get on with things. (Later in the middle of the night when all I want to do is sleep but can't because I have to nurse my baby and then she won't go back to sleep and just looks at me with her big blues eyes and is all, "I'm up, now what?" And then I finally get her to sleep around 5am just in time for my toddler to start waking up when he's supposed to be sleeping until 6:30am but is now waking up at ridiculous hours and acting a crazy fool all day because he's tired. That is when I will cry and feel helpless and feel like the only person in the world going through this because nobody really tells you how hard it's going to be!) :: sigh ::

I digress.

Life with P-Nut truly has been a joy!

Here's the scoop so far:

She is a breastfeeding champ! We are still subscribing to the "feed on demand" approach which is typically every three hours day and night, give or take. In the beginning she would fall asleep at the breast often so I struggled with keeping her awake to get the job done. If I didn't we would literally be feeding for an hour! She has become much more thorough and breastfeeding in general is continuing to get easier for the both of us.

This may seem odd to be updating you on but if you are a parent you know how the quality, quantity, and frequency of baby's bowels plays a huge role in their overall health. I thought I'd share with you what we're experiencing because with Little C and now with P-Nut I'd always wonder, "is this normal?"

On that note, our precious little girl farts like a sailor! The poor lass passes gas like it's her job. Apparently it is normal and nothing to be concerned about because she doesn't cry in pain when it is occurring. Also in between her thunderous booms, her belly is soft. If her tummy was hard, she was crying in pain, inconsolable, or arching her back after nursing or while passing gas then we'd have something to be concerned about.

Lastly on this glamorous topic I discovered that it is not alarming for a breastfed baby to go many days without a bowel movement. After three straight days I started to get concerned but after doing some research and double checking with the Pediatrician I learned that a newborn can go up to 10 days without a BM and still be very healthy. Who knew?!?

P-Nut has typical newborn sleep patterns. She is just now starting to be awake for longer periods of time which is fun because she is much more alert than in those first few weeks.

So far the biggest difference between when Little C was a baby and P-Nut is their sleep. C enjoyed being swaddled and could be placed anywhere for a slumber. After two weeks he was already sleeping soundly in his crib. P-Nut will not sleep anywhere except in our bed!

I'm not a fan of co-sleeping. I know it works great for many parents, but for us it is not a good fit. I can't sleep soundly for fear of rolling onto her, or smothering her somehow. I know the likelihood of that happening is slim, but I still can't shake it. Plus, when I return to work a sound night sleep will be imperative.

However, once we discovered that she only wants to sleep in our bed we rolled with it because we were out-of-our-minds-crazy-tired and if sleeping in our bed meant we all caught a few Z's, then so be it. But now I'm ready to start transitioning her to the bassinet first and then off to the crib. We'll see how it goes...

Mommy Update:
I'm doing pretty darn good. I'm not going to lie, the first couple of weeks were brutal. Getting used to not sleeping, the hormone changes, breastfeeding, it is all a bit overwhelming in the beginning. But the past week I've finally started to feel human again. I may or may not brush my teeth, comb my hair, or shower on a regular basis, but human none-the-less.

As far as my mental health goes, I'm very happy to say that I'm doing great considering the stress and exhaustion I'm under. I am human so some days things get to me and I need to take a few deep breaths or even shed a few tears but really overall I feel good about how I've been handling things. I'm not perfect and I'm okay with it.

Speaking of not perfect... there's the topic of my body. I know a lot of blogging mamas post pictures of themselves right after giving birth and then snap shots of themselves each month to show off how well they are shedding the pounds. That is not my style. Losing weight has always been a major struggle for me and although I have lost a significant amount of the baby weight since P-Nut's birth I still have a long way to go.

I don't like to look at the photos of other moms shedding the pounds super fast and splashing it about as if to say, "look at me, aren't I fabulous?!?" Yes they are, but there are some of us out there that aren't as lucky to lose weight quickly or without trying and besides, I can tell when you are sucking in your tummy, standing in good lighting and holding the camera at a flattering angle. I'd look good too.

I just had a baby. I'm not where I want to be but I'm going pretty easy on myself because I want to do this right. Plus, before getting pregnant I was working really hard to stop self-loathing and I'm going to keep up with that mindset.

So, that's about it. I am so in love with my baby girl and each day and week as she grows and develops that love deepens. I also could not have done so well this past month if it weren't for my Hubs. We make a damn good team and I'm so thankful he's my partner. We've also had help from family members, bringing dinners, watching Little C, bringing us diapers, etc. To have so much family around us is a huge blessing and we are so grateful for everyone's help.

Also, there's this...

:: heart melts ::

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

At a loss

My toddler is on some kind of roll these days. The tantrums abound, he's defiant, not listening, and whines or fake cries if he doesn't get his way. He says "NO" to any suggestion we make. He wakes up in the morning and literally the first sounds out of his mouth are whining, then crying and finally screaming until we go in to get him.

He's not like this at daycare, we are told. He's not like this when he visits his grandparents. It is apparently reserved for dear 'ole mom and dad.

I desperately want to figure out why he is behaving this way. I don't know if it is because of all the life changes going on around him or if it is purely his age. If there was no baby sister or a daycare change would we still be getting the same behavior? Plus, he doesn't seem that bothered by P-Nut. He always wants to hold her, kiss her, and comfort her. If she's not in the same room he asks where she is. So far there really hasn't been any jealousy or aggression toward her at all. As for new daycare, the drop-offs are still rough but we are told he has a great time and no issues all day.

When it comes to addressing his behavior it is hard not being able to reason with a toddler. You can't explain to them why they shouldn't be screaming in an attempt to get their way. As I try to explain things to him all I get are blank stares.

It is hard. As much as I love and adore my son I find myself counting down the minutes until bedtime. I'm frustrated that I can't get through to him and I feel helpless. I know there are books out there with helpful information and plenty info online and I'll get around to reading it all when the kids are off to college and I have time on my hands again.

I do feel bad for Little C but this behavior has got to stop. Hubs and I are losing it! Between the demands of a newborn and this new toddler behavior we truly are walking zombies.

Did I mention C's sleep has also been different?!? Yeah, he now refuses naps and takes at least 30 minutes to fall asleep and then maybe sleeps for an hour. He used to average 2 1/2 - 3 hour naps. He has also start waking up between 5am - 6am. He used to sleep until 6:20am on the dot! There is something magical about getting past the 6 o'clock hour. If you are up at 5:55am it is the WORST!! But 6:01am somehow isn't as bad and you feel like you just might make it through the day.

So basically, I'm at a loss. I feel like it is time to crack down and get tough with Little C regarding the behavior that is not appropriate. However, if he truly is going through a hard time I also want to be sensitive to his needs. But being tough and sensitive at the same time will not send a clear message. ARGH!! What to do, what to do...

Is your toddler this way and if so, how do you handle it? How do you curb the defiance and get them to listen?