Wordless Wednesday: I'm hungry!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012
My husband posted this this morning with the following caption: "Dad I want eggs for breakfast"

Pin-It Thursday

Thursday, January 19, 2012
My very dear friend over at Whispered Words Forever Captured does a Pin It Thursday so I thought I'd hop on that band wagon, so to speak.

This is where I show you all the great things I'm Pinning on Pinterest
If you don't know what Pinterest is, you need to figure it out! Basically, it is a virtual cork board. You make cork boards and Pin different things to them. Each thing you pin to a cork board is a picture that links to a website to tell you how to do something, where to find something, etc. ♥

Here are the things I've been pinning this week. I'm focusing on healthy recipes and quick meals and such because I'm determined to get my family living a healthier lifestyle, and eating from home more often. I also just got a crock pot so I want to learn to use it. We never used one of these when I was growing up so it will take some getting used to. All the pictures will link to the web pages they came from =)

Foods to eat daily to maintain a healthy diet.

28 Day Mind and Body Challenge. I'm actually planning to start this the last week of January/first week of February. I need time to get used to cooking again.

Artichoke and rice salad - sounds yummy!

Sweet potato and spinach gratin, mmmmmm.

Cauliflower crust pizza - must try! Maybe I can use it to make cauliflower crackers/toast for salsa?

20 quick fixes for boneless chicken breasts.

16 of the healthiest foods to eat.

Skinny Crock Pot recipes - yes please!

Do any of you have suggestions for sites or recipes to look up for healthy meals, and quick fixes?

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, January 18, 2012
A sleepy boy at the sitter =)

Our breast feeding journey thus far

Tuesday, January 10, 2012
**NOTE: This post contains pictures of breast feeding.

Today we are celebrating 13 months of breastfeeding.

Ugh, rewind please. I thought your son turned 13 months old on the 5th?
Oh. Right. Well, We weren't able to breastfeed until day 5. So, today we celebrate.


Before I ever even considered the thought of pregnancy, I knew I would breast feed. My mother breast fed, her mother breast fed, breast feeding was the way to go. Of course babies drank out of bottles and had formula sometimes, but I would breastfeed.

In April 2010 we found out we were pregnant with our surprise baby. I started reading and researching and doing everything I could to educate my self on as much as possible. All of this made me more determined to breast feed. I would be successful, because my mother was, and her mother was, and

I had no reason to believe I wouldn't be able to exclusively breastfeed.

I also had no reason to believe I would deliver my child, 5 weeks premature.

When Turtle-Love was born, at 35 weeks 3 days gestation, I was too busy contracting and wondering if my baby was going to be okay to even think about when we could start breast feeding. We got to spend about a minute with him after his birth when he hiccuped and his color changed. I notified the nurse immediately, they had thought we would get 30 minutes with him before he needed to go to the nursery, but that didn't happen. They rushed him off to help him breathe. Little Turtle-Love was under an oxy-hood in the nursery for that day and the next, and was then transported to the NICU at another hospital and placed on a CPAP.

What does any of that have to do with breastfeeding? For us, everything.

Since Turtle-Love couldn't really breathe on his own efficiently and without serious effort and strain on his body, he obviously couldn't nurse. They waited a whole day to see if he would be able to go to breast, which he couldn't, before deciding I should be pumping. I was provided a hospital grade pump on loan at the hospital, which was replaced later that day by the one WIC gave me. The lactation consultant I met with at our birthing hospital was great - and I left there feeling good about pumping. She was impressed I was expressing so quickly, and because my milk "sprayed". I felt like I would be the milk producing champ I had always thought I would be, like my mother. (To this day I bet she could express milk, and her children are in their 20's!)

I spent 4 days exclusively pumping, getting a few mLs here, and a couple mLs there. The lactation consultant had given me a syringe with a tube attached so I could suck up every little drop in the flanges etc. That stuff is liquid gold, you know. I was thankful the NICU had pumps there for me to use, so I only had to cart my horns and flanges and tubes and a sterilizing bag around, (only?!) and not the pump too (oh right, that thing is big and clunky!). They even had a mother's room with comfortable chairs, snacks, juice, and a TV. Every three hours, or as close to it as I could get, I spent 15-20 minutes holding my pump horns up to my breasts and pumping. I don't even know how long I spent after words washing, sterilizing, and drying all of the parts, labeling each syringe containing colostrum with Turtle-Love's personalized little medical stickers, and hand writing a date and time. It seemed like I would spend a whole hour in the pumping room, between setting up, pumping, and cleaning up. Sometimes it actually took longer. It was awkward to be pumping in front of other women at times, and I didn't know what to expect. I would see other moms come in to pump. Some NICU mommas, some nurses with babies at home. Everyone was there for the same purpose, doing the same thing.

And everyone was expressing more milk than I knew could be made.

One mother I met in the mother's room was pumping for her daughter, who was now 3 months old(if I remember correctly) and still in the NICU. She had been born very early, and her twin sister had not survived. My heart ached for her when she told me her story. She was in pumping for her daughter as often as I was for my son. She regularly pumped 4+ ounces at a time! She told me she had an entire freezer full of milk at home, and that her storage space at the NICU was always completely full. We had bonded a bit, and it felt good. It felt good to have someone there in the same place who understood what it was like. I had such high hopes of being able to pump like her.

Like all the other moms I saw pumping.

The mom's who produced 4+ ounces while I struggled to slurp up 10 and 20 mL with my syringe.

I was feeling okay about it though. That is, until I found out the hospital was giving him formula.

He was still unable to go to breast, so all the milk I was pumping was being given to him through an NG tube. They were giving him a specific amount of milk every three hours and I noticed after coming back from dinner one time that there was evidence of him receiving formula. I was crushed. I was mad, hurt, upset, and felt betrayed. I had just spoken with a lactation consultant the night before, who was also his nurse. She had given him a label that said he loved mother's milk - their way of noting that he should be exclusively breast milk fed. So why did someone give him formula?! I was ready to lay into whoever did this to my baby! I was furious! I confronted a nurse about it, nicely, and her response was that I wasn't making enough. I had just enough left for his feedings the last time I checked, and I had turned in more. Maybe not exactly enough, but they had it! Why didn't he get it?!

Because they upped his feeding amount. They increased how much they wanted him to be getting, and because there wasn't enough breast milk they mixed it with formula. Bring on the tears.

Not only did I feel like a failure because I birthed my baby too soon, but because on top of that I couldn't feed him.

I could not make what they wanted for him. I didn't understand why they needed to increase his feedings, every day. They wanted to stretch his little tummy out! That sounded just horrible. I hate feeling overfull, I could only imagine how my poor child felt as I watched them check to see if he had digested his last feeding, only half, and continued to push a full feeding in on top anyways. I was sick with grief, and frustration, and the feeling of not being able to save my baby from this awful policy that made no sense to me. My body was designed to produce what he needed, why wasn't it enough?!

How could I be such a horrible mother?

From that point all of his NG tube feedings were part breast milk, and part formula. However, I was finally allowed to put him to breast! I was so excited, the moment had finally come! Not only was my baby getting better, but he was getting better to the point hecould actually eat!
Preparing to breast feed for the first time

I was terrified.

I always had a pang of fear each time I held my son. He was connected to so many things. Electrodes, monitors, his CPAP machine, and two umbilical IV lines. Time and time again I had been told to be so careful of them, because if they tore out the risk of him bleeding out and dying was very severe. Thankfully they had been removed, but that didn't stop me from being terrified.

What if he still couldn't breathe well enough to eat at the same time?

What if he choked?

What if he didn't know how?

What if I didn't know how?

With the supervision of Turtle-Love's nurse, who was also a lactation consultant, and the support of Turtle-Love's other nurse, Toad, and my sister, I put him to breast. It took a moment, but he latched! And well!

It was so sweet to finally get to feed my son, they way I had always known I would!

The lactation consultant was so pleased with our form, and they way we fit perfectly together and how good his latch was, she called the other two consultants and told them they needed to see this.

I felt relieved, so relieved and happy. Finally, I felt like I was doing something right as his mother!

The long awaited moment

We started breastfeeding at every feeding we were there for the next day. We had trouble with him snuggling up and falling asleep after a few good moments of nursing. I would feed him, and cuddle him, and hand him off to Daddy for cuddles. Then I would pump, wash, sterilize, dry. Every three hours I spent two hours nursing and pumping. At his midnight weigh in though, he had lost weight.

What? How did this happen? I was immediately told I was not producing enough and that we needed to give him bottles. Bottles? What about nipple confusion? What about him being exclusively breast fed? I thought we were doing so well! Everyone seemed so pleased with our progress, what happened?

I put my foot down. I wanted him exclusively breastfed.

They made arrangements for us to stay the night with him, now that he wasn't on any machines or oxygen, we could stay with him. We could stay in the family suite in the NICU so that I could continue to breast feed through the night. I was so relieved, and yet terrified.

We were going to spend the night with our son for the very first time.

We did well nursing through the night. I thought he was doing a great job latching - but I had never been able to feel let down, or feel milk come out, I could only feel him suckling. He was a very content little boy, hanging out with Mommy all night and the next day.

Turtle-Love's first bottle
At his next weigh in he had gained weight, but they still weren't happy. We were told we had to give him a bottle after every nursing session because I wasn't pumping enough they said I wasn't making enough milk - so be it formula or breast milk he had to get something after every feed, in a bottle.

Even with pumping after every nursing session, I had only pumped enough milk to make two supplements. The lactation consultants didn't see anything wrong with how I was pumping, or how he was nursing. Everything seemed fine - it just wasn't enough.

If we exclusively breastfed, he could lose weight or not gain and he couldn't come home until he gained more weight.
Our choices were to leave him in the NICU longer, while we waited for my milk to hopefully come in and for him to start gaining, or to give him the supplements and help him gain faster so he could come home.

We chose the supplements. I wanted my baby home. Coming home meant he was okay, really and truly okay. My thought had been, we would supplement at the hospital like they wanted, but once we got home and he was doing well we would just breast feed. The next night our son graduated from the NICU, and we brought him home.

After bath time
I continued to nurse him every three hours like we had been, once we got home. However, We were sleeping 5-6 hours at night. I also continued pumping after each session, and putting the milk into the freezer. Most of the time I was still able to collect it in syringes, and in the mornings I would pump one side while he fed the other and went back to sleep which gave me just enough to be too much for a 10 mL syringe most days, and a little more than that on occasion.

His weight check reveled that he wasn't gaining enough weight in their opinion, so we were back to supplementing. One ounce after each day time nursing session. I hated it. I was furious and didn't think it was necessary. Gaining was gaining! But I didn't want to not give him the supplement and for him to not grow.
I quickly ran out of breast milk and gave in to giving him half formula for the supplements, he had already gotten the formula in the hospital so it just didn't seem to matter as much anymore. I was too exhausted to be bothered with pumping after every session anymore. It was too much work to nurse, pump, label, store, wash, sterilize. By the time I was done with all that, assuming my son allowed me to do much of anything, it seemed like it was time to nurse again. I couldn't bring myself to do it. I wasn't getting anything after he ate, what was the point? All that work for no pay off, I wanted to enjoy my baby. Where was my blissful motherhood?

So I continued to pump just in the mornings. His supplements became more and more formula, and less and less breast milk.

Turtle-Love had been nursing every 90 minutes, if not sooner, and continued to do so. I was told he nursed too often, and to space him out. How was I supposed to do that? If he was hungry, I put him to breast. End of story. I was supposed to skip a nursing session? But that would mean my supply could go down because it wasn't being demanded... This was the opposite of the advice I had received elsewhere which was to let him nurse on demand. What was I supposed to do?

Nothing was ever good enough.

I felt like the people closest to me were undermining me. Giving my son bottles every chance they had. I felt like everyone tried to 'fatten up' my perfect little baby. I constantly felt like what I could provide him wasn't good enough, that I wasn't good enough. But I never gave up. I didn't let it keep me down. The lactation consultant I spoke with, the doctors I talked to, my family members... no one believed I was, or could, produce enough milk for my son. I was it. I was the only person in my corner.

I was practically willing my supply to be there.

To be enough. I hoped, and I hoped, and I hoped.

I even bought a digital scale. I would weigh him before and after most feeds. I even did it before and after his supplements - to prove it worked. The issue became I couldn't account for his output. If he peed while he was nursing, the weight comparison would be off and I didn't have the brain power at the time to calculate for absorption or to Google whether or not a diaper would weigh specifically the amount output more, or if there was some type of exchange. The math and the attempt to keep records of every weigh in before and after every feed got to me, and I stopped obsessing. Well, I stopped doing it every day. The numbers were proving nothing in either direction - only causing me frustration.
Nursing to sleep
After a couple months of this, we were finally able to stop supplements. The day our pediatrician was happy with his weight gain was a fantastic one. I felt so relieved. I could relax. I didn't need to stress, and weigh, and worry, and count. His pediatrician was content with his growth rate, he was small and grew a little slower but very steadily.
At the office with Mommy =)
I returned to work at my office (I had been working from home)around that same time. I was unable to pump what he needed while I was at work. I was only getting between 1 and 2 ounces at a time, every 2 hours - I only work 6 hour days. Turtle-Love was eating 4 ounces two, sometimes three times while I was at work. He nursed both sides in the mornings and all through the night so pumping in the morning wasn't an option anymore, if I wanted to get anything from it. Turtle-Love had to continue to receive formula bottles on the days I didn't have enough breast milk at home for him. Which was more often than not.

Where were my magically flowing milk ducts?

Why wasn't I pumping 4+ ounces at a time?

I spoke with the lactation consultant at the pediatricians office. She recommended I pump less often. Every three hours, instead of every two. It sounded far fetched, but I tried it.

I was no milk spewing fountain, but I found what worked.

I finally figured out I had to pump for 30 minutes not 15 and I had to pump every 3-4 hours not every 2 in order to get a decent volume.
I was finally pumping almost 4 ounces.

I was almost like the milk goddesses I had seen.

The trouble is - almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
I was only able to pump once or twice at work, getting around 5 ounces for the day. My son had started eating 5 ounces per bottle, two or three times while I was gone.

I just accepted it. It was hard to swallow - but I was tired of fighting my body. I was tired of worrying, of counting, measuring, stressing. We were breastfeeding. If I was home, he was breastfed. That had to be good enough, because that was all that I could do.

I had to learn to let that be good enough.

Eventually we fell into a routine. Breast milk bottle in the morning after I leave for work (he wakes up 10 minutes after I leave, no matter what time I leave) and I would pump an hour after arriving. If it was a day I took him to the sitter (or brought the sitter to him) when my mom left for work, I would nurse him before heading back. He would usually take a bottle before I made it home, and I'm so very lucky that my sitter(and friend) is amazing. Sometimes Turtle-Love takes 2 bottles before I get home, but others If I didn't need to take him to the sitter (or the sitter to him) because Daddy was home, or one of his aunt's were visiting - of course I would stay at work and pump.

I need to mention how much I love my job. They have been so supportive of my adventure into motherhood - I was able to work from home until Turtle-Love was 6 months old. Then my office mate was kind enough to let me pump at my desk =) Much love to you! Of course, she is a very unique person - not the slightest bit squeamish, never bothered about me pumping or feeding at work. She pretty much rocks anyways. I've even been lucky enough to be able to bring Turtle-Love in to the office if needed. In fact, his pack n play (all though rarely used) has a special spot in our office. Of course there is also the fact that everyone who works here likes his little smiling face and high spirit =)

All smiles

The hospital grade double electric pump I was provided through WIC had to be returned at his one year appointment. I haven't pumped in a whole month. On the one hand it feels great to be rid of that beast. On the other, my boobs really hurt by the time I get off. Especially if I didn't get to see him mid day.

Turtle-Love still breastfeeds. As a matter of fact, he is quite in love with 'the boobie' and any excuse to latch. I'm very happy we are continuing to breastfeed, and I have enjoyed almost every moment of almost every feeding(I don't know of anyone who enjoys being bitten when teeth come in - yeeouch!). I feel that we will be continuing to nurse for at least a few more months, maybe longer - I'll continue to nurse him until he weans himself. He does still take a bottle of formula in the morning, and sometimes in the afternoon with the sitter as well. He does eat 'real food' and has breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks as well. We will probably wean him off of the formula this month, now that he is a year old, as well as a year adjusted.

An adjusted age is used when a baby is born prematurely. The adjusted age date is your due date. When you have a child born prematurely their birthdate is their real age of course. However, many doctors will use their adjusted age when looking at growth and development because preemies have to continue to develop outside the womb. So while Turtle-Love is now 13 months old, when we look at his height/weight/growth/development we are comparing to 12 month olds, because he was born a month early. I hope that isn't too confusing!

So - has breast feeding gone successfully? Well, yes.
Climbing 'Mount Boobie' before bed

I feel like so much emphasis is put on exclusively breast feeding. At least, the articles and blogs I come across are geared this way. Exclusively breastfeeding is great! However, it took me a long, long, long time to accept that I was doing the best I could. That I am doing the best I can.

That we have and are continuing to successfully breast feed.

We have been able to breast feed, even if not exclusively, for thirteen whole months. I find this to be a wonderful accomplishment and I am very happy to say that I no longer feel guilty, or like a failure, because I could not produce enough.

I can and do produce enough. Enough to help. Enough to make a difference. Enough to give him as much as I can.

I also love that my son has been able to teach me just a little bit about expectations, and what I can do with them =) However, I'll subscribe to hope, any and pretty much every day.

Now you can scroll through a couple more pictures from the past 13 months of us breastfeeding. Including at the March of Dimes March for Babies, while out for ice cream, and at our wedding!

Strolling around town eating ice cream
(and a milk shake?)

Walking through downtown while nursing
during the March for Babies
Yes, that is the ceiling. Because he likes to push me over
and walk around my head. While nursing.
'The boobie dance'
Nursing break during our wedding

Yes, we are nursing while in my wedding gown at my wedding
(Yes, I and all my bridesmaids wore Chuck Taylors)

Nursing at the office just before the holidays
Trying out for the Nursing Olympics: Lap Exercises

While writing some of this blog post

Cool new digs, eh?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Those buttons? -->--^ Yeah... they don't work yet. I haven't figured everything out just yet. I do not have a Twitter (should I?) or a StumbleUpon (a wha??) but my Facebook for this blog can be found right here.


It's Monday.

I have a big post planned for tomorrow. *hint* Tomorrow we will be celebrating 13 months of breastfeeding. Oh! And there will be pictures.
Yes! Real pictures!

You love Scentsy? Help send me to BlogHer'12!

Friday, January 6, 2012
After writing my post yesterday, I was contacted by a friend of mine - Independant Scentsy consultant - Monique with an opportunity for a fundraiser. That's right, a fundraiser. To get to BlogHer'12!

I ♥ you Monique!

Monique has been kind enough to set up a fundraiser for me through her Scentsy page. How does it work? Well pretty much...

You click this link to buy Scentsy products

You get taken to this page - make sure you see the Little Tiny Love (BlogHer '12) Fundraiser title at the top

Isn't her page cute?!

Start shopping!

After you make purchases, wonderful mulah will flow to the "Send Little Tiny Love to BlogHer'12" stash box!

Now... if you are wondering to yourself (or aloud)... uh, wtf is Scentsy? Well, Monique can answer that best if I suck at informing you. Pretty much Scentsy provides really nice candle wax warmers (even collegiate sports teams, for the *ahem* sports lover in your life) and over 80 scents of candle wax to put in the warmers. They also have things like tarts, auto-air fresheners, and even Scent Buddies - cute little animals you put scent packs in for your littles (or your self) to snuggle. The warmers come in 3 sizes - full size, mid-size, and plug-in. I personally have a super cute plug-in style warmer in my bathroom (the design is called Taro and has dandelions on it!), currently warming some Eskimo Kiss wax to replace the, uh, fumes that waft from the diaper pail on occasion. I'll say, what a difference! I don't even have to have the warmer on to smell the wax =) Everyone that comes over mentions how lovely it smells, which makes me feel great!

So - go forth and purchase deliciously scented wax, beautiful warmers (or manly - hey that is your business), and help me get to BlogHer'12!

Oh, of course - Thank you in advance =)

I want to go to BlogHer '12!

Thursday, January 5, 2012
Wooo! First post of the New Year is actually in the first week! This feels like a great step in the right direction!

I was on my personal Facebook page, perusing about when all of a sudden I see a link from the Natural Parents Network Facebook Page about BlogHer'12.

I remember finding out about BlogHer'11 and seeing all the cute little blog buttons and badges on the blogs I read almost daily, and thinking *whiny voice* I want to go toooooo! Of course, I couldn't. The funds weren't there, and there was no way I would make it across the country by car with my baby(I'm an east coaster, you know), I'm terrified I'll be terrified of flying (long story), and I was not ready to leave my baby to go alone. I was still trying my best to establish and maintain my milk supply. Actually, I was afraid I'd lose my supply - it had already been established I suppose.

Anyhow - I really want to go to BlogHer'12, and since it is on the east coast this time... and near my birthday... I think I should totally go!

There are a couple little hang ups with my wants of course. Purchasing a ticket for the weekend to go could prove difficult. As we are getting ready to move into a larger space, of course our money is tighter. I'm sure I can work some magic some how. Host a bake sale? Hah! What about Turtle-Love? Oh, he would totally come with me! I can picture us now all snuggly together with a carrier! Err... he likes to walk now, this could prove difficult. Oh well, an adventure it would be! Side note: Con my sister into coming with us for an extra pair of hands... How does Turtle-Love's Dad feel about me taking his son to NYC? Ummm... well, I don't know yet. I haven't talked to him about it yet.

He doesn't read my blog right?
Hi, Honey!

Look. Realistically, going to BlogHer'12 would totally help me with my blogging! I could find inspiration there, learn how to accomplish great things! Blogging is going to be is my outlet! Certainly I should feed that ability, to maintain my mental well-being?! So, I have decided to use BlogHer'12 as an incentive.

Part of my New Year's Resolutions was to blog at least once a week this year. I have decided, if I have successfully posted at least one time a week through May, I'll take myself to BlogHer'12!

Are any of you planning to attend this year?