Night Weaning The Beast!

Jackson just turned a year old on October 14th and is of course still nursing. I really do not mind the fact that he is still nursing but I decided that I would really like to sleep more than 2-3 hours at a time at night. Good nights, he would wake to nurse 2-3 times, bad nights Brad and I were up 6+ times. Exhaustion had ruled my life for far too long.

Starting last friday, I started sending Brad in to Jackson every time he woke up. He would give him a drink of water, pat his back, give kisses and hugs and then leave the room. There was a fair amount of anger and rage emitting from his room that night. He wanted nothing to do with Brad. I felt bad but I really needed rest, real rest. I had done nothing but nurse him for an entire year and it was time. I felt Jackson was finally mature enough to understand that I was just in the next room and that he was okay.

Night two, he only woke up ONCE! And not until 4:30 ish in the morning. Success!

Night three, he also only woke up ONCE! and not until 6:45 am! BOOYAH!

He has yet to sleep until 8:30 straight through but I am way okay with that. I have gotten more rest in the last few nights, than I have in the last year and it is pretty great indeed!

Every morning around 8:30 I go into his room and get him once he awakens for the day. We then return to my bed for snuggles and nursing. He is so happy to see me and I am just as happy to see him!

Hes almost 13 months, we did not rush “sleep training” or whatever you want to call it. I think each child should be considered as an individual and not shoved into a cookie cutter moulding of what they “should do at ___ age”. I waited for the right timing and it was a smooth transition.

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Jacks Growing Independence

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My little Jack is turning 10 months on Aug 14th. That is only a measly 2 months from being a whole year old, and I for one am sad. Why should I be sad? My son is growing and thriving, he is happy and playful. Over the last few weeks, Jack has gotten his first tooth, taken his first steps, starting sleeping in his own bed (well not the whole night), & started to wean himself from breast feeding.

While all of those things I just mentioned seem like good things, and they are good, they are also terrible. Terrible because they all lead to independence from ME. My baby is turning into a boy, and boys grow up to be teenagers and then when they are about 40, they turn into adult men… I’m kidding about the last part, well kind of. And adult men do not and should not cuddle with their mothers.

Until the last few weeks, Jack has needed me in every single part of his daily life. In fact for the first 10 months in utero and much of his infancy thus far, he has needed me to stay alive. So his growing independence is bitter sweet. I am having so much fun playing with him, reading him books and finding new ways to make him laugh. But I am also finding myself missing my baby, he is in the same apartment, even the same room sometimes and I will start to cry. He has only begun to wean so he is still nursing a few times a day but it still saddens me. Sometimes I will offer to nurse him and he will slide off my lap to retrieve his noonie or a toy. REJECTED! That is the only way to describe what I feel when he would rather do other things when I am offering him the milk I have worked so hard to produce.

I am sure that this is just the natural progression of things and that my feelings toward these changes are normal. I can see why people tend to get pregnant again so soon after the weaning of a child. There is a longing in the heart of a mother for her baby to be snuggled up against her in the dead of the night where in those moments, they are the only 2 who exist.

 

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My Breastfeeding Experience: A Difficult Journey

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My Breastfeeding Experience: A Difficult Journey

I thought that Breastfeeding would come naturally to me. I thought it would be easy because our bodies were created to nourish our offspring. I thought it would be this beautiful bonding experience. Everything I thought, turned out to be wrong.

I read lots of books about pregnancy, labor, birth and breastfeeding while pregnant with Jack. It was not even a question in my mind as to if I would nurse my baby. Of course I would, I was not going to give him an imitation when I had the real thing free and readily available in my very own body. I would never drink baby formula myself or even the first two ingredients – corn syrup & vegetable oil so why would I give that to my baby? So the decision to breastfeed for me was an easy one. What was not so easy, was actually doing it!

I had Jackson on a beautiful warm morning in October. My labor was a short but intense 6.5 hours resulting in a medicine free natural water birth. It seemed so easy and natural and as soon as I took my slippery pink son into my arms, he immediately began to root searching for my breast. I put him to breast before even getting out of the tub. I thought WOW! He’s already nursing like a champ, this is going to be great! We nursed a few more times before leaving the birth center to return home.

That evening it was my husband, myself and our new baby all alone. We had no idea what we were doing, and panic started to set in. Our baby cried all night long, he awakened every 30 minutes to an 1 hour around the clock. I nursed him on demand just like the book had said, and changed sides, just like the book had said. But something was just not working.

The evening of day four, my husband brought me a diaper and said “hey this looks kinda weird”. I looked at the diaper and saw my worst nightmare. A light red rust like substance lay there revealing the hard truth, my son was dehydrated. He wasn’t getting enough colostrum and my milk still had not come in. I felt defeated and totally lost. The next morning Jack had another diaper laced with urinate crystals and I was grief stricken. He was still crying day and night, hungry no doubt and it was all my fault. I contacted my friend Brigid who was nursing her sweet baby girl at that time. I asked her if she would be willing to give me some of her breast milk to feed my son, since I was not able to at that time. She brought milk over right away and even tried to nurse him herself, but he would not latch. We filled a small medicine syringe with breast milk and slowly filled his mouth. His face and whole body relaxed in satisfaction and he instantly fell asleep.

I pondered what I would do next? Would I start formula? Would I try to obtain more donor milk? What was wrong with me? Where was my milk?

Another friend visited me that afternoon to comfort and console me. As we were talking she looked over and asked me, “what is that on your nipple? IS THAT MILK?” Sure enough my milk had come just shy of 5:00pm on the 5th day after birth. What a relief! I could finally feed my son like I needed to. But my problems were far from over.

Over the following weeks, I continued struggling to feed my darling son. I suffered extreme nipple damage. Both sides were bruised, cracked and bloody despite the creams, soothie pads, and air drying, I was in constant pain. I cried every time I fed him, tears would stream down my face. It was so unbearable, I dreaded nursing him and he ate so often. Unknowingly I battled nursing a baby with a thick upper lip tie and light tongue tie. I was made aware of this after reaching out to a lactation consultant at a local hospital. Getting it surgically corrected at that time was out of the question. I was not in a proper emotional state to deal with that, so we waited.

And waited, and waited. I waited for it to get better like the ladies at the La leche league said it would. For the constant shooting pain to go away, and i waited to not HATE feeding my baby whom I loved with all my heart.

For two months straight, I took it day by day & nursing session by nursing session trying to keep our breastfeeding relationship alive. I stayed active on the local la leche league Facebook page and attended meetings for support. Finally around the 3rd month, I felt like things were getting better.

I practiced all the healthy habits to protect my milk supply. I never supplemented with formula to sleep, I drank water like crazy, took fenugreek, and ate a million lactation cookies. I also stopped eating dairy in an effort to help Jacks horrible tummy aches and extreme gas.

Jack is 6 months old now and he’s still nursing. It’s easy now and I don’t have any pain. The only problem I have is the occasional love bite, I say love bite because he’s always smiling when he clamps down on me. I’m proud of myself for enduring the pain and fighting for our nursing relationship. I am so grateful to be able to provide the best nourishment for him.

It’s hard for me to think on my breast feeding journey. I feel angry, robbed and ashamed. I feel angry because I wasn’t prepared like maybe I could have been. Angry because things did not happen like I wanted. Robbed because I did not get the deep intimate bonding that I thought I would have. Robbed of the enjoyment of my newborn son. Precious, unrecoverable time spent exhausted, in pain and constant despair. I had waited so long for him and then could not enjoy him, how sad?! Last of all I feel ashamed. Ashamed that I ignorantly allowed my son to get dehydrated before reaching out to someone for help. Ashamed because I hated nursing my baby, that I didn’t even want to look at him sometimes because of the pain I was in.

I do not have birth trauma, I have nursing trauma. This experience has scarred my heart and makes me question having more children. I hope that my heart will heal over time and that one day I will be able to let go and forgive myself.

If you have trouble with nursing please reach out to other wise women who have nursed children, your local La Leche league and lactation consultants in your local area. Know you aren’t alone in your struggle and you can get through it!

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Breast Feeding Is Not Against The LAW!

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Breast Feeding Is Not Against The LAW!

Breastfeeding is not against the law, well at least in Louisiana it’s not. That’s where Jack and I live, and we nurse wherever, whenever he is hungry.

I nurse in public for one reason and one reason alone. That reason is: My son is my priority, not the comfort of others. PERIOD. I will not deny my son food when he is hungry in order to please people that I do not know, and may never see again.

Let me say this though. Even though I do NOT think breast feeding is sexual in any way, as a Christian I try to be modest. I do not want to be a stumbling block to those around me. When I say modest, I mean as modest as possible with a flailing 8 month old on my lap, that will not tolerate a blanket or a standard nursing cover over his head while he eats. So I wear nursing friendly clothes and multiple layers to show the least amount of skin and boob possible. That is what I am comfortable with and what works for Jack and I.

I feel that all babies should eat when hungry and all mothers be able to nurse those hungry babies without fear of attack.

I know of someone locally that while feeding her baby in a restroom at a public shopping mall was told that she was turning her baby into a slut or a lesbian by doing that (breast feeding).

Then of course you hear of the women being kicked out of restaurants and denied their law given right to pump at work or on an airplane even.

The point of this post is- Know Your Rights! Look up your state law regarding breast feeding and save it on your cell phone. Keep it with you I case you need to utilize it while nursing in public.

Here is a link where you can find the laws by state.

http://m.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/breastfeeding-state-laws.aspx

Keep your head up nursing mama and do right by your baby!

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Planning To Breastfeed? My Ultimate Shopping List

Knowing what I know now, here is my ultimate shopping list for expectant mothers planning to breast feed.

1. Motherlove Nipple Butter

– I went through 4 jars of this in my first two weeks of nursing. Soothing, natural comfort for hurting nipples.

buy it now!

2. Lactation Cookie Ingredients

– Eat lots of these. Brewers yeast, oats and flax to boost milk. They are calorie dense and provide extra needed fat while building supply.

my recipe!

3. Therapearl ice/hot gel packs by lansinoh.

– felt so good when my breasts hurt and I had clogged ducts!

learn more!

4. Earth Mama Angel Baby Organic Milkmaid Tea

– I drank 3-5 cups of this a day to help my fluid intake and boost my milk supply. Not my favorite flavor so add a little honey if you prefer.

buy it now!

5. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding Book.

– This one is non- negotiable! You must have this book and read it. Every question that could come up, is answered in this book!

Buy from LLL!here

You may not need all of these things or you may depend on every single one like I did. I wish I would’ve been prepared instead of reacting to the situation as things happened. It’s better to have nipple butter on hand to soothe rather than wait until they are cracked as bleeding before running to the store to find some.

Nursing moms, if you are reading this…

What would make it onto your nursing shopping list?

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

All Breasts Are Not Created Equal: A Guest Post

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When I was 25, after years of trying to conceive, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Other than fertility issues, I never really thought about how that diagnosis would affect me in other ways. After only two rounds of Clomid, I finally got pregnant for the first time! A co-worker had also just found out that she was pregnant with her first, and through our pregnancies, we developed a deep bond that quickly developed into an amazing friendship. When she first asked if I was going to breastfeed, I immediately said no way! I had never in my life known anyone who breastfed, and neither did my husband. I was completely ignorant on the subject. She continued talking to me about it and finally convinced me that I should at least try. After a male co-worker of my husband, whose wife was also pregnant, had a conversation with him about how awesome breastfeeding was, he came home to tell me that I should breastfeed too. So, I made up my mind that I would try. When my breasts never grew or hurt throughout my pregnancy, I never gave it a second thought other than being a bit upset that I hadn’t gotten that perk of pregnancy–big boobs! My daughter was born at 38 weeks via cesarean section after nearly 24 hours of labor and my body doing nothing. I felt like a failure for the second time. Not only could I not get pregnant on my own, now I couldn’t give birth on my own either. This drove me to be more determined than ever to breastfeed my beautiful Cecilia, even though I had virtually no support from my family. Well, she latched immediately and nursed for what seemed like hours. Things seemed to be going well, but in reality, they weren’t. She wasn’t pooping much, became severely jaundiced, and my nipples had become a cracked, bloody mess. However, I pressed on through the pain. After 5 days in the hospital (3 of which were spent with her under the bili lights for the majority of the time), we went home. I continued breastfeeding. A couple days later, we took her in for her 1-week checkup, and she had lost a full pound. I was devastated. At the suggestion of my doctor, I continued nursing, pumping immediately after (even though I got NOTHING out), and supplemented with formula. With no real support and very little education about breastfeeding, our nursing relationship ended at 8 weeks. I had no explanation. No answers. I was crushed.

Fast-forward two and a half years to my third pregnancy (2nd live birth). I was determined to make breastfeeding work this time. Again, the fact that my breasts did not grow didn’t really cause me much concern. William was born in April of 2012, latched immediately, and nursed beautifully. I saw a lactation nurse several times while in the hospital. Other than mentioning that many women with PCOS struggle with breastfeeding, she didn’t have anything negative to say. His latch was perfect, and he seemed to be pooping and wetting fine, even though he continued to lose weight. Again, at the first checkup, my baby had lost nearly a pound. By the next week, he had continued to lose. We started supplementing, but I was determined to make it longer this time with breastfeeding. A friend added me to a local breastfeeding group. That was both the best and worst thing that could’ve happened to me. I was made to feel like a terrible mother for feeding my child formula, aka poison. I wasn’t trying hard enough, needed to pump more, nurse more, drink more water, take this pill or that one. I was told that “my body was made for this” and that I just needed to work harder. I was devastated and spiraled quickly into severe postpartum depression.

Finally, a mom in the group asked me some questions about my breasts. (The good thing that came out of my joining the breastfeeding group!) I had always hated them! They were super tiny (even though I have always been plus-sized), and they are very oddly-shaped, as well as widely spaced. They are triangular-shaped, point downward, and my nipples turn inward. They are also very uneven. Although I didn’t know it (and had never even heard of it), I had all the classic signs of IGT (Insufficient Glandular Tissue), also often referred to as breast hypoplasia. My breasts are deformed. Yes, it is a medical deformity! I joined an IGT support group on Facebook. Finally, I was connected with women just like me! Their stories were my story! Their breasts looked just like mine! They got it. It was like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. The black cloud of depression was lifted! I didn’t cry anymore. It wasn’t my fault! I really was doing all that I could! Through this group, I learned that giving my baby formula was not wrong! It did not make me a bad mother. In fact, it made me an amazing mother for realizing there was a problem and doing what was necessary for my child to thrive!

Although IGT is considered rare, it is so much more common than many believe it to be. There hasn’t been a real study done in over a decade. In that decade plus, there have been many advancements in the medical world, specifically in fertility treatments. Many women who suffer from fertility issues, such as PCOS, have been given the chance to bear children with all of these new advancements. PCOS and IGT often go hand-in-hand. Because we women are now bearing children (where it was impossible before), we are also wanting to and trying to breastfeed our babies, only to realize that we struggle in this area as well. IGT is real, and it is more common than we think. Doctors are becoming more aware of it, and women are being diagnosed more often and earlier on.

One of the best things I learned along the way is that breastfeeding doesn’t have to be all or nothing. With the help of formula as a supplement, I was able to breastfeed my son until he weaned at 8 months. It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was downright hard! I pumped an ungodly amount, even though the fruits of my labor were minuscule. I took a plethora of herbal supplements that are known to help increase milk supply (also called galactogogues), including fenugreek, blessed thistle, green superfood capsules, Dairy Queen*, and Shatavari. I consumed unrealistic amounts of green smoothies, lactation cookies, and oatmeal. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it, and I wouldn’t change any of it!

I’ve learned so much along the way, but the most important lesson I learned was not to judge. We are all mothers just trying to do the best for our children. We don’t know each others’ personal situations. Choose your words wisely. One comment can be the breaking point for a mother, especially a struggling mother who is reaching out for help. Don’t assume anything. And, most of all, never make a mom feel guilty about her choices!

It has become my mission to educate the breastfeeding community about IGT. Even if I can connect with one struggling mom and let her know that it’s not her fault, then I feel like my job is done!

~Michelle
Mother to Cecilia 4.5 and William 1

Other great links and resources:

http://kellymom.com/bf/got-milk/supply-worries/insufficient-glandular-tissue/

http://www.facebook.com/groups/IGTmamas/

*http://www.euphoricbirth.com/product/dairy-queen-2/

http://diaryofalactationfailure.blogspot.com/

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No One Told Me…

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No One Told Me…

Everyone that I encountered in the natural birth community told me about the wonderful experience child birth could be. You know… about the power within me, the rush of love hormones immediately after and the great sense of accomplishment that would come with delivering my own baby.

While all of those wonderful things turned out to be true, there were a few other “experiences” that went unmentioned.

No one told me:

1. That after the love hormones subsided, I would feel like a freight train hit me.

– I mean come on, that would’ve been use information! I could have prepared differently to aid the recovery process.

2. The painful swelling of my nether regions after birth.

– No one and I mean no one talks about this. And why would they? It’s horrifying especially if You end up with stitches like I did (19). But again, had I realized this, I could be invested in some site bath herbs or numbing spray ahead of time.

3. That my body would transform into something resembling a tube sock filled with lumpy sausage gravy.

-This one was unavoidable so even if I had known, I could not have prevented this. But no one told me nonetheless…

4. My libido would become non existent and the thought (let alone the act) of “relations” would cause such pain.

-This is a biggie. I only have 2 thoughts on the matter. Ouch & my poor patient husband, God Bless him.

5. That Breastfeeding may not be easy. Or that I would continue to have contractions every time I fed the baby.

-Set proper expectations people! I have actually written a whole post about my traumatizing Breastfeeding experience. You can read it by clicking here.

I know we should focus on the positives of every situation instead of the negatives. BUT! I feel that setting proper expectations are vital to an overall fulfilling experience and necessary for adequate preparation.

If you are a mother reading this- what did you find surprising after birth that NO ONE TOLD YOU?

Me at 37 weeks pregnant with Jackson

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