Reality Check: Breastfeeding is Hard!

I feel like an ill-equipped mother. I want to breastfeed my sweet little one and it seems like everything is in place to do so- she is latching and I am producing- but we are struggling.

Or maybe it’s just me who is struggling.

She shows signs of hunger, so I feed her.

She falls asleep soon after.

I wake her up. Take off her clothes, make her feel uncomfortable by putting a cool washcloth on her body, tickle her feet, mess with different body parts.

She awakes, recommits to eating.

…Falls asleep.

This happens multiple times in the 30 minutes she remains latched.

When she pushes away and seems to be satisfied.

I burp her.

Waiting for her eyes to open up again and for her to begin rooting, I change sides.

Same issue: different side.

I become frustrated.

What is going on my sweet little one?

Are you tired from all the work of sucking? I know, this is so much harder than the bottle and even harder than the umbilical cord that just put food into you for the last 10 months.

She will go for 10-15 more minutes and then give all the signs that she is done.

Limp arms, open hands, eyes rolled back in her head.

I think she is full and so I change her diaper, re-clothe her and she is out.

For 15-20 minutes.

Then she is fussy, squirmy and putting her hands near her mouth.

Really?

Still hungry?

Ok- so I proceed to feed her more.

10 minutes of feeding and then she is milk drunk.

Is she done?

I hope she is full.

I am tired and wanting to take nap- sleep when she sleeps is what I’ve been told.

I put her down, ready to take my nap- and she stirs.

Still hungry.

I don’t know what to do. How often to keep feeding her these little amounts?

I cave.

1-2ounces of expressed milk delivered via bottle.

The easy way out.

She sleeps for 3-4 hours.

I am so tempted to just stop breastfeeding all together.

The bottle is easier for her, for Hubby, and possibly for me as it would be more time back in my day to take care of me and do other things.

But I don’t want to just be a milk factory- I want to breastfeed.

I am conflicted because I thought this would be easier.

No one told me how hard breastfeeding is.

Why is it so hard to feed my baby?

What am I missing here?


Another scenario:

I take a nap and while I’m asleep, Hubby and I miscommunications and he feeds her a 4oz bottle.

I wake up from my nap an hour later, ready to nurse, and surprised to see her nursery door still closed.

Shouldn’t she be up by now?

I ask and that is when I find out the reality.

I began to cry.

What is wrong with me that I can’t feed my baby enough food to help her sleep?

I am so scared of my milk production going down because I am not feeding her when she is hungry that I immediately hook up to the breast pump.

I am scared that I am doing it wrong.Image result for frustrated mom

Scared that she is going to get used to the bottle and reject me.

Scared that my milk production is going to be so out of whack because sometimes I feed and sometimes I pump, that I won’t be able to continue this beautiful act of producing food for her.

I’ve heard that she is young and still practicing this whole eating thing.

To give her grace as she will get tired from sucking for 30+ minutes.

I just don’t know how to take care of myself and sleep when she is eating little bits every so often.

I think I need a day when I just commit to not giving into the bottle and just feeding her, little as it may be and as often as it may be.

How will I get the sleep I need?

I’m not sure- but others seem to be doing it without the bottle. Maybe I’m just enabling her.

My expectations are off–  I didn’t know it would be like this…

She latches well, I have milk- what’s the issue?

I thought it would be easier, but it’s not.

It’s not just me, it’s the way this whole thing works.

God help me be patient with her… and with me.


A FEW DAYS LATER

We tried getting her on a 3-hour schedule of feeding and she was just so sleepy during the breastfeeding portion that we would attempt for a minute and then go straight to the bottle.

It just wasn’t working.

We are now back to letting her sleep until she naturally wakes up.

Little Princess feeds her from me first (which when she is awake is about 20 minutes)

Tops her off with the bottle (which is typically 1-3oz depending)

Play with her

Put her to sleep for another 4 hours.

I still have the twinge of “I’m not a good enough mother to be able to provide her the full meal”, but then I realize, it’s not me. It’s not my ability to provide.

It’s her stamina.

She’s just a sleepy baby.

I keep telling myself- the most important thing is that she is loved, she is safe, she has a full belly and she has a place to sleep.

It’s my ego, my pride, my fear that is keeping me away from the peace and serenity of this season.

I decide to push away the negativity and instead embrace the hours in between when I get to rest and recover while enjoying the moments I get to hold her close.

I’m not a bad mother. We are all just learning.

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Essentials for Mama After Birth

Labor and Delivery Recovery Must Haves

I read many articles about what to pack for the hospital and honestly, I did not use the majority of things I took. They pretty much had me covered there and then some!

One piece of advice I took from a friend was to take an extra bag to bring home the things they give you for free at the hospital.

What I now know is more important are the things I needed at home to heal.

NEWGO Ice packs– I used these around the clock for the first week to help the swelling and ease the aching.

Tucks Medicated Hemorrhoidal Pads– I got the ones with witch hazel and loved them! Replacing these every time I went to the bathroom to help the healing process for both the stitch’s and hemorrhoids

Herbal Perineal Spray– Using this each time I went to the restroom to help with the healing process for both the stitches and hemorrhoids

Peri bottle– In place of using toilet paper, this was a gentler way of cleaning. The hospital gave me one to use.

Pads with wings– for the first weeks leaving the hospital, using this protection allowed me frequent changes. The hospital gave me some giant pads and I brought some of those home too.

Depend Silhouette– as bleeding slowed down, wearing these underwear made life more manageable with regards to my protection. This style was a better fit for me too.

Sitz bath salts & toilet seat–  The sitz bath ingredients were mixed up by my doula but I have seen many good ones on Amazon. The bath itself is a container that sits in the toilet basin and I got this from the hospital before I left.

Soft robe- a life savor! I got a soft robe from Costco that I can wear without a shirt and it is not harsh on my nipples. I found that cotton can be too rough and irritating.

Clip Down Nursing Cami, Black

Breastfeeding tank top– When I do leave the house or have company over, it’s nice to have a top that is easily used to feed. This provides me the ability for comfort and modesty.

Nipple cream– after every feed or pump, I’ll put some cream on to help protect from cracking and bleeding while also soothing the hardworking area.

Happy prepping!

Little Princess Arrives!

She’s here! Our Little Princess arrived on August 25th and we are overjoyed to have her in our arms.

The story of how she came into this world is not what we thought it would be and we are so very grateful that all are now healthy and healing.

Here’s a general outline:

  • Developed late-pregnancy preeclampsia which put me into the hospital at 39 weeks 2 days.
  • Induced that night
  • Put on a magnesium citrate IV (because of high blood pressure/preeclampsia)
  • Dr broke my water
  • Began Pitocin
  • Labored 15 hours- no epidural
  • Pushed for just over an hour- recalling 3 big pushes that popped her out.
  • Tore my cervix
  • Tore down the birth canal
  • Tore my perineal (2nd degree)
  • Tore my labia
  • Uterus wouldn’t contract to stop bleeding
  • Lost 3 liters of blood
  • Placenta didn’t deliver- Dr had to use her hand to scrape it out
  • The placenta was not completely removed
  • Went to OR for a DNC to get the remainder of the placenta out
  • Discovered I had Placenta Accreta– which can be more common for pregnancies resulting from IVF. It is sometimes caused when the lining is too thin upon conception. Although it’s not said to happen with every pregnancy I have, it is a possibility of recurring in the future and therefore my pregnancies moving forward with be considered higher risk.
  • Dr inserted a water-filled balloon into uterus plus 5 feet of gauze to help with bleeding
  • Received 4 bags of blood (transfusions)
  • Spent 36 hours in ICU
  • Reunited with family and began producing milk! A shock to all since I lost so much blood
  • Little Princess latched wonderfully and feeds well
  • Released from hospital after 48 hours in regular postpartum care

What I can say is WOW! What an incredible experience.

Aside from the scare of the after birth- laboring without an epidural was such a cool experience (that I may never do again) and am grateful to have been able to live through.

Feeling her move through my body with every contraction.

Praying for God to help me through the pain and beliving this is what my body has been created to do.

Being fully present with my thoughts and my feelings as I was experiencing this transition from pregnancy to birth.

Although it did not go according to my “Birth Wishes”, I can see God’s hand in every step of the way.

Hubby was an incredible support and stayed with me through every contraction.

What I thought would be a sweaty, exhausting experience was more of an endurance race for my body… no sweat at all! Not like how they show it in the movies 🙂

My lower back muscles fired with every contraction.

My arms clenched to the side of the bed with each bracing of pain.

My abs and whatever other muscles are down in that area moved naturally to push this baby down into position for birthing.

When the pushing began, I had no control over my body.

It took over and it was my sole job to focus my energy from the loud cry to a deep groan and then into a holding of energy to push fully downward.

A capturing of energy from outward to inward and downward.

Such a beautiful science.

What people didn’t tell me:

  • My expectations (even unconscious ones) held me back from seeing the good in the journey and led me to more discouragement.
  • “She is coming ‘soon’”, does not mean in the next 10 minutes or the next hour, it may mean in the next 4-6 hours. I grew to not like the word ‘soon’ as it was too misleading and discouraging.
  • Having a meal during heavy contractions may not be the best idea. I threw it up within the next hour.
  • Ice chips were a lifesaver in the heavy contraction stage!
  • Dilation takes a longer time than I expected. I was hoping to be in active labor when I was still 4 cm dilated.
  • The pain of childbirth is unlike any other pain I have experienced. It’s ongoing, tiring, repetitive, painful.
  • Hours seem long and patience goes out the window when you don’t know how long you’ll be in that state of pain.

The joys certainly outweigh all the hardship– this is a true statement.

Little Princess was and is worth it!

She is perfect.

Arriving into this world weighing 7lbs 6oz, 20 inches long, full head of brown hair and a perfectly round head. I think I pushed so quickly that it didn’t give her head time to reform as it was moving through the birth canal. Her eyes are grey/blue and I’m hoping they stay on the blue side (Hubby has blue eyes) but am ok if she is a brown-eyed girl (like her mama).

I’m not going to say I won’t birth another child. Maybe next time I’ll go the route of the epidural. Part of the reason I wanted to go without was to be able to A) fully experience the feeling of her moving through my body (which I did and it was amazing!) and B) so I could be fully alert with her afterward.

Given that I didn’t get to live out the second half of that desire and still be okay with my bonding and connection shows that in the future, it might be okay to have the pain relief.

Swedish Hospital was an incredible place to have this traumatic delivery. I was amazed at the care and attention of each of the nurses and staff to me, Hubby and Little Princess. I felt completely taken care of and seen as a person, not just another patient.

Huge shout outs to the following nurses: Mackenzie, Becky, Allison, Mel, Callie, (there were 2 in the ICU that I had that I was too foggy to remember), Kelly, Terri, Mandy, Dani, and the lactation consultant Dotti.


Our journey is not over, as it’s simply just beginning.

I am amazed at how in love with this little peanut I am.

Years of wanting her. Desiring a little one and scared of letting go of my independent, self-centered lifestyle.

One thing I know for sure- the writing of my fertility journey may be over for the time being, but my thoughts and struggles, experiences and trials of being a selfless, caring, discerning, trusting mom are just beginning.

For those of you who have read this blog looking for connection in the fertility journey, I do hope you have felt understood. I certainly have not been alone as I have walked this road and found the more open I have been about my own struggles and emotions, the more connection I have felt.

To those still on the journey- know that it is worth it. Each poke of the needle, pop of a pill, inconvenient Dr. appointment, etc… it’s all worth it to have a little tiny human in your arms, loving and needing you.

We are not sure what our future holds with more children. We would like to have another or more but know that it might look more in the form of adoption than another IVF journey. Hey, we are even open to conceiving all-natural! 🙂 We will see what God has in store for us. For now, we are grateful to have this little one.

Decisions Meant for an Adult

I know I’m going to mess her up.

It’s not my intention to and it really is the very last thing I want is to mess this little perfect thing up in her first minutes, days, weeks of being on this earth.

The responsibility seems daunting and I am trying not to be paralyzed with fear of what could happen to her if I make the wrong decision. When did I become old enough to make decisions for another human life? When did I become an adult?

I am scared that I won’t be a good mom and that the decisions I make for her will impact her for the rest of her life.

I have already decided that I’d like to breastfeed as long as my body will allow within the first year. I am going to need to pump and bottle feed after 6 weeks because I am returning to work (I know, I know we can talk offline about that topic). I will continue to breastfeed when I’m home though to keep that bonding going.

We aren’t going to co-sleep per se, but I am open to having her in her bassinet next to me for the first weeks that we are getting up together, or maybe we will co-sleep. I’m learning that I don’t really know what I’ll do until I’m in the situation.

Still not sure how the sleeping routine will go between Hubby and me, but since I am committed to breastfeeding, it’s on me to be up and ready to feed (especially those first few weeks before a bottle is even recommended to be introduced).

How do I feel about that?

A bit nervous. I find it to be an honor and privilege to be the source of nutrition for Maxee but I also find I can teeter on resentment that Hubby is off the hook from this imperative need she will have for me every 2-3 hours for how long???

God, help me to continue to see the good and stay in gratitude that I GET to provide this for her. I do pray that my milk will come in easily and breastfeeding will be easy, so when I stay in the gratitude, my mind stays even and I am able to see what a gift God has given to us.

The decisions that need to be made continue to come through. I can’t put some of these off because they either need to happen now or in the near future. Some recent discussions have been:

  • Vitamin K shotImage result for infant shots
  • Eye ointment
  • Hepatitis B shot
  • Let her stay in the nursery at the hospital vs. next to me
  • TDAP booster shot for mamma
  • Delayed vs regular shot schedule

 

I know the decisions we will need to make will only continue. I’m grateful to be married to someone who is so keen on research and making decisions based on the facts that are gathered.

I will admit though, I’m lazy!

I want someone to tell me the magic formula for raising Maxee.

It doesn’t exist.

Instead, this is my mind shift that will help- this is my new project- Raising Maxee.

Turning the “I” to “we” is going to be important. Raising Maxee is a shared responsibility between Hubby, me and God. Hubby wants to be just as involved in Maxee’s life as I do and that is another gift. Learning how we can come together in a partnership of parenting will be an aspect of Raising Maxee that I know I will have a lot of growth around.

Not being a bulldozer and telling Hubby how it’s going to be and also not being a pushover and doing whatever he wants. Instead, it’s going to be consistently finding the balance between the two.

For me, it’s going to be learning how to know my truth and communicate effectively with Hubby so that we can come to a decision that fits us both well.

This is not something that comes naturally to me and I pray that God will help me to engage in this approach to relationships and communication that I have pushed away up until now.

With a child in the mix, pushing away healthy communication is going to mess her up more than some of the other decisions listed above.

God, please help me change my ways so that I can approach partner parenting and my marriage in a healthier, more effective way.

Bittersweet: week 37

What a gift these past nine-plus months have been for me. I can’t believe we are weeks away from meeting our baby girl!

It’s been a hot summer and yet I have been so fortunate to have time off from my work to sleep and take care of myself.

Over the past two weeks, my body is progressively feeling more sluggish and the water retention makes me feel like a water balloon.

Crazy to say, I LOVE this!

I really don’t want the pregnancy to end.

I know, I know. It will only get better when she is in my arms. I believe that to be true as well. But I will never be pregnant with her again.

I have loved feeling her kicking and moving on my insides.

Being with her everywhere I go.

I feel bonded and connected to her in a way that only a mother can and I am feeling this sense of gratitude for the mere opportunity to carry a child.

We have waited for FOUR YEARS as a couple to become pregnant.

I myself have wondered for 20 YEARS if I was going to be able to experience this incredible gift of pregnancy.

Now that I have been living it, I don’t want it to end.

I understand the purpose of pregnancy is to deliver and raise a baby to a child to a young adult.

For me though, I knew I would always have children (through adoption if needed) so I knew that the raising of a child would be in my future.

It’s this precious period and the gift of pregnancy that was so unknown to me- so desired.

Will I ever be able to experience pregnancy again?

I pray this to be the case.

At the same time, I’m aware that this may have been my one opportunity.

What a great one it has been.

I mourn the ending of such a sweet time in my life.

The way I feel in my body, carrying this life, is something I pray to never forget.

People look at me with a precious look of endearment and excitement.

I feel this look only happens to pregnant women.

Once Maxee comes, I will join the ranks of all the other women who are mothers and this special space of pregnancy will be in my past.

I’ve heard it said before, “don’t be sad that it’s over, but happy that it happened”.

I can soak in every moment of this pregnancy and know that I have made the very most of it.


UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_89cc.jpg

Many have commented that they ‘bet I’m ready for her to come out and have my body back’.

Partially yes, I’m ready to be able to roll over in bed or get off the couch without pulling on Hubby or strategically maneuvering my limbs to prop me up. I’m ready to get back to jogging and bending over to stretch my hamstrings.

In reality, though, I don’t want to wish away any minute of this gift.

God, thank you for gifting me with the experience of growing and carrying my child inside of me. Thank you for allowing me to share my body with this sweet little human and provide a safe and healthy home for her to grow and form.

Thank you for entrusting me with one of your precious children.

May these final weeks be savored and these 10 months be engrained in my memory as an example of your love, grace, almighty ability to create life and power for redemption.