Tuesday, August 19, 2014

// a d v e n t u r e s i n b r e a s t f e e d i n g - a m a n d a ' s s t o r y //

 Yay for another adventures in breastfeeding story.  I love how Amanda not only shares her story, but offers her support and encouragement as well.  This is why I share these stories- so that we are able to stay connected.  Thank you to the lovely Amanda for sharing her breastfeeding journey!  <3

With Mackenzie, my first, breastfeeding felt more like a chore and a bit of a hassle. I didn't get much information or encouragement of it. I nursed my daughter only for five months. My breasts were engorged and painful. My nipples were sore. And I was embarrassed by the leaking & nursing in public. And also, because she was so tiny & I could not see exactly how much I was feeding her, I was so scared she was not getting enough milk. I ended my BF journey with her when she was only 5 months. And switched her to formula. It wasn't up until I had my son four and a half years later where I felt sad and a bit ashamed of it. I thought about how could I be so selfish to let myself stop nourishing my daughter with the best food there is for her.. I finally came with the conclusion that I was young. A first time mom. I fed my daughter the best way I could at the time. She was and still is happy and healthy little girl. And because I gave her formula, doesn't not make me a bad mom. Formula is just as good as breastfeeding. I did my best and that's all that really matters!

Almost 10 months ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy! The baby boy who changed my whole outlook to breastfeeding. With the help of all the normalization I see on Social Media. Because of all the recent normalizing breastfeeding I have seen and the encouragement of friends and family, I knew when I found out that I was pregnant that I was going to EBF! I had 9 months to do all the research & ask questions from new BF mothers I've made. And since my son first latched on, it's been pretty easy ever since. Except for just the one thing that no one ever really talks about, how time consuming it is!

Around my fourth month of EBF, the time has come where my son was attached to me. I could not put him down for a nap, I could not unlatch him from me at anytime he was asleep. I have now become.. A human pacifier! I pumped but he refused to take a bottle. During this time, I was exhausted. I felt as if I'm doing something wrong. Am I nursing too much? Will this be bad in the future? I suddenly broke down. I was confused and afraid of where this attachment to breast feeding would lead to.  It was then where I searched it all online, finding IG mamas who were in my same position. After reading and chatting with moms about my (what I had thought was) problem, come to find out, it's no problem. All babies are different. Just because they are attached to you, does not make you a bad mother for letting them nurse on demand. It just means that you are giving your baby the best possible thing that they need. You're helping them feel comfortable. You're soothing their pain, their worry, their happiness. You're being a mother!

And to be honest, after the first 5 months, it does get easier! If you are at the beginning of your breastfeeding journey or even near the end and you feel like you want to stop, I would hold you tight, and tell you that you that you are not alone, to not give up! This journey you're going through will get easier! There is that light at the end of the tunnel and this bond you have with your baby will only get stronger!

This community of breastfeeding mamas are incredible! If it weren't for all of you, I would not have the most amazing bond with my sweet baby boy! I've decided to breastfeed him as long as he wants and as long as he needs to. I don't have the heart to completely take it away from him at 1 year. Instead let him self wean himself. Even though I am nursing, does not mean I don't feel the same for formula fed mothers! We are all different people which mean we have different choices. And just because we may feed our babies a bit differently DOES NOT mean I don't support you any less! If you are a mother who takes care of your children the best way you can. I support you!

As for me, this breastfeeding journey has been far more than amazing. I'm loving the fact that he needs me. Still at ten months. He falls down, he'll come to me to nurse for comfort.  He's sleepy, he'll come to me to nurse him to asleep. He's grumpy, he'll come to me to nurse him till he's happy. I only hope when he's grown and this breastfeeding journey is long gone, he'll still come to me. To make him dinner when his belly is hungry, to help him with his problems, to give him the best motherly advice as I possibly can. I hope this for my daughter as well. Even though I didn't breastfeed her for very long, we will always have that special bond because of it. Breastfeeding is a start of an everlasting mother/child bond that  I will always share with both my babies. 

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Friday, August 15, 2014

// a d v e n t u r e s i n b r e a s t f e e d i n g - c a s e y ' s s t o r y //

Casey is sharing her story today.  Casey is a family friend, of sorts.  I haven't met her (YET!)  but she is daughter of my mother in law's good friend.  I was so excited to hear that she wanted to share her story.  I think her experience is so important to share because although breastfeeding is magical it can also be HARD!  It really is a lot of work, sometimes.  Usually it is, but there are those who experience no difficulties.  Thank you for sharing, Casey!  I look forward to meeting you and your lovely family some day soon! <3

Ever since I found I got pregnant, I didn't even question formula or breast. I knew I would be a badass breast-feeder, hands down. So fast forward to the day I deliver and it's time to have my main squeeze latch on to me. Well, that was an epic fail to say the least. I had about 10 different hands on my nipples and breasts.. all of them trying desperately to shove my nipple into his mouth to get that sweet tasting colostrum into him! I got about 5,000 different opinions as to why he wasn't latching.. "he has a shallow suck", "he's lazy", "boys take longer to learn than girls", "your nipples aren't long enough", "you aren't holding him right"... I became frustrated needless to say. After a day and 1/2 in the hospital, they sent my husband and me on our merry way with barely any information on nursing (which I find absurd..), and literally said "GOOD LUCK". 
The next week was absolutely brutal. I was trying EVERYTHING to have my guy latch, and I even saw a lactation consultant who happens to be Declan's nurse practitioner affiliated with my midwives. He was eating, but not efficiently. The following week, Declan was diagnosed with thrush.. and at this point I almost said, "screw this I'm doing formula". I couldn't take it anymore. What happened to nursing being such a beautiful thing? All of these women posting beautiful pictures of their babies nursing so lovely on social media sites... why wasn't that us? How could I snap a good shot if my son is popping on and off my breast and SCREAMING his head off while milk is squirting him all over his face?? I didn't understand. 
The following weeks didn't get easier either. His thrush cleared and came back and he passed it to me.. (or so we thought) and I was put on an antifungal immediately, along with Declan staying on his medicine as well. But something didn't seem right to me.. this was not normal. So I started asking around different breastfeeding groups on facebook and almost immediately found some answers.. (those women are LEGIT) Lip-tie. They recommended me to oral surgeon and off I went to get a consultation. The next week we were scheduled for surgery. I googled my little heart out about lip ties and the recovery and found that almost everyone wrote that instantly their child's latches were fixed from this procedure. I was SO excited for him to get it done! 
Well, again, that wasn't us. His latch did get a little better, but it still felt like my nipples were on fire... Okay, maybe not fire, maybe like a 2nd degree burn now. Recovery for my son was INSANE.. crazy swelling, screaming for hours, still popping on and off my breast, spitting milk everywhere, both of us crying. WHAT THE HELL.

So here we are today, 3 days post surgery and it's getting better.. we're pushing through, just like we did from day 1 together. I realize that my story isn't beautiful like some women's are where their child latches and white doves fly into the room and harps start playing lovely music.. but my story is still special. I pushed through for my son. I didn't give up EVER because he didn't either. Eventually we'll figure this whole thing out. Eventually it will become easy.. I have to remember this. The fact that I can still provide my son with enough breast milk to become the porker that he is, is satisfying enough for me. I love nursing my boy, even if it's not picture perfect. 

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

// a n e w h o m e //

I have tears as I think of having our own place.  No, we have not bought a house or even rented a huge apartment.  We live in a house that has three different apartments.  We rent a tiny two bedroom, but I cannot express the gratitude I feel right now.  You see, I really try to keep all my public posts as positive as possible.  But, I will say this:  These past few years have been both heaven and hell for our family.  Heaven, because it was full of beautiful moments.  Beautiful moments in the midst of a terrible, terrible storm.  We lived in a broken down shack for two years: we all slept in a mattress on the ground in a room so tiny it only fit our bed.  Our living space was a tiny room and besides the bedroom it was the only room where our kids were allowed.  We had to block off the kitchen and bathroom because they were unsafe.  I know we lived in the most beautiful place on earth (basically) and that accounted for all the beautiful, beautiful moments.  However, practically, we were going a little insane  Now?  We are renting a normal apartment with a HUGE backyard!  Wildlife surrounds us (even bears.  but that's a different story. yikes!) This morning, as I watched our boys giggle and play around our backyard, I began to cry.  I literally had huge tears streaming down my face because seeing my boys play outside, without being right next to a busy road, made my heart soar with gratitude.  As hard as it's been, I am so thankful to my husband for not giving up and getting us here. We have a long ways to go, but as we move forward we get to witness all of this: 

(all photos taken outside were taken in our backyard!  except the butterflies.  those were from my parent's garden.)  

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// a d v e n t u r e s i n b r e a s t f e e d i n g - a l i c a ' s s t o r y //

I feel terribly about the break in the series.  Adventures in Breastfeeding is one of my favorite things about blogging and I plan on continuing it as long as their are women willing to share their stories.  I wanted to remind everyone that this series is not just about successful breastfeeding.  It's about women sharing THEIR stories, whatever that story may be.  It's about seeing how connected we really are, despite differences in opinions/experiences.  We love our kiddos and that's all that matters.  Today, I am sharing Alica's story.  I love the spirit of her story; that all our successes as mothers can help other mother's out there.  Even our difficulties can be used to help others.  I relate to her story and am so grateful that she has shared it! Thanks lady. <3

God has blessed me with 2 beautiful little beings, Alivia 3 and Oliver 1.  Alivia is my adventurist, free spirited and full of love child; while Oliver is a loving, calm, and at times, wild child.  Both are the happiest children I have ever seen, full of smiles and laughs all day long.  They make being a mama so rewarding for me!

When I was pregnant with Liv, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed.  I figured, "how are could it be," babies are born to breast feed?!?

On March 10, 2011, my beautiful, 9 pound 11oz, free spirt came into this world.  After 13 hrs of labor, I ended up having to have a c-section because she was getting stuck.  It was another 4hrs of waiting after birth until I was finally able to hold her and try nursing.  I was exhausted and tired, but I was very eager to start our breastfeeding relationship!  With the nurses help I was actually able to get her latched for a few seconds.  However, it wasn't going the way I had it planned out in my head.  She was tired and didn't really want anything to do with eating.  So we all got some sleep and decided to try again in a few hours. The next attepte wasn't much better than the first, and it eneded with use both crying and me telling the nurse that I couldn't do this. The next 2 days we spent in the hospital werent any better.  Each time we tried to breastfeed I would end up feeling defeted and stressed.  I didn't understand why this was so hard for me!

We had just moved to a differnt state 5 months before I had Alivia, so I didn't really have anyone I could lean on for help. I sought out help from a lactation consultant who reasured me that I was doing everything right, but after 2 weeks of lots of tears, stressing and feeling defeated, our breastfeeding realtionship ended.  3 years later, I am still hard on myself for not trying just a bit harder or sticking it out just a bit longer.  Alivia is happy, healthy and beyond bright and that's all that matters!

When I became pregant with Oliver, breastfeeding was the only option for me.  I was not going to fail again! I spent the next 9 months reading and filling my brain with every piece of breastfeeding knowledge I could!

On June 27th, 2013, my handsome 9 pound 2 oz Ollie was born.  I rememebr the nurse saying, "wow he's a big boy!"  My husband and I just laughed and said, "he is little compared to what his sister weighed!"  He had some breathing problems right after birth so, again, it was another 4hrs until I was finally able to try nursing him. He was a natural! This baby in my arms was born to breastfeed!  I thought to myself,  "so this is how breastfeeding should be," and it made my heart so happy!

When we got home I started to stress a bit.  Even though everything was going great, I was stressing about something going wrong like it did with Liv. In the hopital you have people there to help you.  At home, when it is hardest, you are all alone!  I just wanted to live at the hopital for the next year?!?

The next 2 weeks were extremely  rough!  My nipples were constantly sore and my milk coming in.  This is the stuff moms dont warn new moms about.  I was just frustrated that I didn't remember all this from last time?!?  It was around 3-4 weeks that our perfect and easy breastfeeding relationship started getting really hard for me. Every time Ollie would nurse it would hurt so bad.  I would watch the clock just waiting for him to be done! I remeber calling my friend crying and begging her to come over and help!  After 5 weeks of horribly painful nursing, I finally decided to go and see a lacation consultant.  Of course, while she was watching, I was able to nurse pain free.  Why couldn't I do this at home?  At the appointment she was able to find our problem, Oliver was tongue tied.  Being tongue tied was making it impossible for him to take in enough nipple while nursing.  This was causing my nipple to rub againt the roof of mouth because of a shallow latch.  Finally, I dont have defected boobs!!!

My lactation consultant directed us to an oral surgeon, and around 7 weeks we went to get his tongue tie clipped. The first nursing session after the procedure was a success.  I could tell a difference right away.  It took us another 2 months until we finally got a good latch down because he was so used to nursing the wrong way for 7 weeks.  It was going to take time for him to learn how to nurse the right way.

Before I became a full time breastfeeding mama I looked at breastfeeding in a totally differant way.  I supported breastfeeding, but always viewed it as something that should remain private.  I felt it was somthing that should be done under a cover or in another room.  I had never been around it a lot, so I didn't know any better.  Within the first 2 months of nursing Ollie my views completely changed.  I now understood why using a cover was so annoying.  It's 100 degrees outside, why am I covering up my kid? Why should I have to hide something that is so natural?  And thus, I began to openly breastfeed wherever I was. 

Breastfeeding has opened my eyes, and my views, to a whole other world.  A world filled with milk sharing, support and love!  It's somthing that I love, and am very passionate about.  It's somthing that I love sharing and normalizing with the world!

We just hit 13 months on the 27th of June, and I have had 13 months full of support from my husband, family and friends.  Without them, I wouldn't have made it this far!

As of now, we have no plans of stopping anytime soon!

I urge veteran moms to encourge and support new moms.  Encourage them not to have fear about nursing in public, covered or uncovered.  Encourage them to not listen to  the negative comments or advice, but instead, listen to their baby.  Give them help and guidence if they need it, and always show them love <3

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