Friday, July 30, 2010

Sometimes a picture says it all

Day 3 - The Trials and Tribulations of Breast Feeding

I think most of you probably know my story, but maybe not all of you, especially my new readers.

When I was 21, I had breast reduction surgery. I had terrible back problems from my breasts, including scoliosis from the weight of my breasts pulling my shoulders forward and constant pain throughout the back. The muscles in my shoulders and on the sides of my rib cage are still phenomenally tight, 10 years later. They never relax, and after getting massages, they relax for a few minutes but then are right back to how they were before.

I was, of course, warned about potential issues breast feeding in the future, but I was a 21 year old college kid, not in a serious relationship, and having kids seemed very far off. I thought that I would be able to deal with not being able to breast feed if that was what happened, if it meant that I could reduce the physical and emotional pain my breasts caused me. So I had the surgery, and it was wonderful to fit into normal sized clothing, to have less pain, and to feel more confident.

Fast forward 9 years, and it was summer of 2009. We learned in early August that we were going to have a baby. I was ecstatic- finally, my dream was going to come true! But not far into pregnancy, I began thinking about breast feeding. It was apparent to me pretty early on that I was leaning towards a more natural, more AP lifestyle and parenting style. Not breast feeding would be devastating. I began to get pretty depressed over this. I cried sometimes, wishing that I hadn't been selfish and had the surgery. It is one of the first times in my life that I had real regrets. I knew logically that I was a healthier person for having had the surgery, but the idea that I did something knowingly to potentially jeopardize my ability to breast feed Cecilia was tearing me apart.

The solution I came to, with the help of the amazing ladies on (breast feeding after reduction) was to count on having to supplement, and purchasing a supplemental nursing system (SNS). It's essentially a small bottle that has capillary tubing coming off of it. You line the tubing up with the nipple (early on I used tape to hold the tube, now I am pretty adept at just lining it up) and latch the baby one, and she gets supplement while nursing. There are a few benefits to using an SNS.

1. Baby still nurses for nourishment. Whether the mom makes almost no milk, or like me makes a decent amount (50-75% of Cecilia's needs), the baby can always use the breast to get milk, even if it's coming from an artificial source.

2. Mom's milk supply is still stimulated at every feeding. Breast milk supply is dependent on how much the baby nurses, and for women with low supplies, it's vital that the baby nurse as much as possible. Using an SNS means that the baby nurses for every meal and keeps the body producing milk

3. No worry about nipple confusion. It doesn't happen to every baby, but when it does happen and the baby prefers the faster flow of a bottle to the slower flow and more work of breast feeding, it's devastating to the mom. This also seems to affect low supply mamas more often, since full or high supply mamas tend to have a pretty rapid flow too!

4. Easy to use and keep clean. No mucking about with sterilizing nipples, losing bottle rings, trying to find a bottle that the baby will take (not as easy as it seems like it would be for a lot of babies).

There are probably more, but those are what I can think of right now.

The next question for supplementing is figuring out what you want to supplement with. Many moms choose formula because it's readily available and easy to find. I chose donated breast milk. If I have my way, Cecilia will never have formula. Before she was born, I had amassed around 500 oz of supplemental milk, and that lasted us more than 2 months. Sometimes getting milk is a hassle, but I have not been tempted to give up yet, so I might be able to reach my goal of 100% breast milk for the girl!

My next blog post will be about what happened this week with trying to get another shipment of milk. It's not a happy story!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Baby Led Weaning

My friend Rhiannon linked a wonderful article on her Facebook about BLW. This is the route we plan to go with Cecilia, and we plan to wait until at least 6 months to start, if not later.

Baby Led Weaning: An Alternative Approach to Starting Solids

Day 2 - Parenting Styles

One of the first things you realize when you're pregnant with your first baby (and for all I know, this continues with subsequent pregnancies) is that everyone wants to give you advice. Most of the time it's well-meaning, some of the time it's "You're planning to do WHAT??" kind of advice.

For the most part, I got pretty good at smiling and saying something like, "thank you, I'll think about that." But sometimes it really frustrated me, especially because I'm such a big research nerd. Sure, I trust my gut a lot, and I feel like my mama instinct is very strong and true, but I also tend to do a ton of research before making decisions. So when people would look at me aghast when I would talk about things we were planning on doing-- like cloth diapering-- I had a very hard time not being super defensive.

I get really tired of hearing people talk negatively about the parenting choices we've made. For the record, we are attachment parenting parents. The definition of attachment parenting according to Wikipedia is:

"Attachment parenting, a phrase coined by pediatrician William Sears, is a parenting philosophy based on the principles of the attachment theory in developmental psychology. According to attachment theory, the child forms a strong emotional bond with caregivers during childhood with lifelong consequences. Sensitive and emotionally available parenting helps the child to form a secure attachment style which fosters a child's socio-emotional development and well being."

In a nutshell, it's about using your baby's cues to determine what she needs, use sensitivity and empathy to build a strong emotional bond with your baby, and especially not to ignore her needs that don't fall into the eat, poop, sleep category. More specifically, I'm referring to ignoring a baby's need for attention, comfort and touch. I believe that not immediately attending to your baby when she starts to cry leads to an insecure child. And I believe that comfort and physical touch are needs as vital to a baby as food.

It makes me so sad when I see a baby being ignored when she is upset because the parent has decided (arbitrarily in my mind) that she's not wet and doesn't need to eat, so she doesn't need the parent's attention. I saw this just the other day at Target-- there was a couple there with a baby a month or so older than Cecilia, and she was bawling in her stroller. With both parents there, my assumption was that one of them would pick her up and comfort her and the other would push the stroller. Nope, they just ignored her. Sometimes one would distractedly say, "It's ok, baby." But that's it. No other comfort. I wanted to say something, but of course, I didn't.

I just wish that everyone else had enough respect for our parenting style to keep their mouths shut too.

I didn't mean for this to get all negative, so please accept an adorable picture of Cecilia to make up for it! :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I guess it's time to update the blog...

I probably should apologize for not blogging for so long! I've been told by a few people that they want updates on Cecilia and on our life, and I have been remiss in fulfilling that wish.

The truth is, I have always been bad about blogging, because I always feel like I have nothing to say. Or that what I do say is inane and really doesn't need to be read by all. So, to break myself of that, I am going to set a new goal to write for 5 minutes a day (or more if I want to) every day for the next 30 days. I figure if I don't have enough for a full blog post, I can combine a couple of days' worth of rambling into one post. Or just post a short entry. Or something. Whatever. (See what I mean?)

So, I figure I can take this opportunity to blog about our family in general. Cecilia arrived on April 6 after about 20 hours of labor. My birth story is long and full of unhappiness and I will save that for a future blog. Suffice it to say birth didn't go as we had hoped, but we did get the best prize ever: our sweet, healthy, smart, happy baby girl. We brought Cecilia home after 2 days in the hospital (so wanted that to be 1), and thus started the newest, and best, adventure of my life.

Being a mom I don't even really know how to put this in words. Those of you who know me well know that this has been a long time coming. I have desperately wanted to be a mama forever. When we found out I was pregnant last July it was literally the best moment of my life. The reality of having my girl makes that feeling pale in comparison. This is the hardest and most exhausting work I have ever done, but also the most rewarding and fulfilling. I have never felt more complete than I do now.

For those of you tuning in from work, you already know this news, but for the rest: I have decided to leave my job at Intuit and be a stay at home mama. It wasn't an easy choice to make. We're essentially losing half of our income in this decision. And more than that, I'm losing a great network of co-workers who I will miss a ton! But if I am being fully honest here, this has been my dream ever since I met Chris and knew that we were going to be together permanently. And when I got pregnant a year ago, I dreamed constantly of staying home with my baby.

When Cecilia came, I realized very quickly that there was just no way I could go back to work. I just can't not be here with her. I can't risk not seeing her first steps, or hearing her first word. Or missing the milestones I've already seen, like her rolling over for the first time, or her first smile. I would be devastated if I missed anything. I firmly believe that if it's doable for either parent to stay home during a child's early years, they should take that option. It's such a vital time of development!

So, on to the girl herself. Cecilia is such a joyful baby! She is happy and sweet and bright and a constant pleasure to be around. She's small-- at nearly 4 months she is just under 12 lbs. She was 6 lbs 3 oz at birth, though, so she is pretty close to doubling her birth weight, which doctors want to see by 6 months. She has a pretty big noggin, though, enough that we had to retire her NB sized clothes before her body outgrew them, because they didn't fit over her head anymore!

Cecilia loves to play with toys, especially now that she can grab them herself. Unsurprisingly, everything goes straight into her mouth when she grabs it! She rolls over easily from front to back, and can mostly go from back to front, but her arm gets in her way before she makes it 100%. She smiles and coos all the time, but no real giggles yet. Can't wait to hear those! I'm so looking forward to hearing her laugh!

The cats adapted surprisingly well to having the baby home. Three of them just ignore her, even when she cries. The fourth loves to be near her (see below)!

I think that's a good start for now. Will write more tomorrow!