Breastfeeding Confessional

>> Tuesday, June 28, 2016

I certainly shared my mixed feeling about nursing during Ada's infancy. I'll try not to hit all that stuff with a stick too much longer -- but I wanted to address breastfeeding today. I have a conflicted relationship with it. On one hand, I feel fortunate to offer food and comfort to our tiny babe. I know it's good for my health and hers. On the other hand, the early days and weeks can be downright maddening. Cluster-feeding, hour-long sessions, engorgement, and a total lack of personal space.

At just two weeks in, the ride is only beginning.


Am I alone in feeling this way?

Pregnancy is this absolutely miraculous process. But I don't love being pregnant because it means I'm solely responsible for nurturing a life. It means that I'm a host. Especially this time around, I was terrified being pregnant much of the time. In fact, one of the first things I said after giving birth was "I'm so happy I'm not pregnant anymore." This huge rush of relief surged through my body, washing away the anxiety that had plagued me for much, much longer than my 38 weeks.

Breastfeeding is a whole new and different responsibility. On the second day in the hospital, one of the lactation consultants visited me and asked how things are going. Well, I said, baby's latch is amazing -- but she fed every single hour last night. I'm exhausted, I said with a bit of a laugh, and really need a break. I looked for some sympathy, some understanding. But I was met instead with a concerned expression. I was also given information on newborn nursing habits and a brief chat about PPD.

I know all of that, I said, and I know it gets better (after all, I nursed Ada for nearly 18 months) -- but it's still just difficult for me. I'll come back later, she said, when you're more rested.

I don't know. I choose to breastfeed and go through all the emotions and, yes, inconvenience because I do believe it's beneficial for baby. I do enjoy the bond, but I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that sometimes -- even in summer -- I just want to wear a turtleneck and not bare my chest hours at a time. Also: Being home, I feel like breastfeeding is a small way that I'm contributing by not having to buy formula. And my babies (so far) seem to be really good at it. Yup. In so many ways, nursing is a natural choice . . . and it's one I'll continue to choose despite not loving it all the time.

But that's the thing. Is it horrible that I don't love breastfeeding?

This isn't some funk I've fallen into postpartum. It's how I felt with Ada, especially in the beginning. Is it OK not to relish the hours on end marathons of boob eating from 5 PM to 10 PM each night? Is it alright to feel frustrated that I'm on a constant 2 to 3 hour clock after four years of blissful independence? But is it also acceptable to admit all these things and still say that it's what I want to do? Why can I not be a bit irked with the whole thing (getting used to it again, at least)?

I guess these are hypothetical questions. In the end, it's all my choice. I feel fortunate to have choice. We're making our way through the trenches of the worst period, and I will admit it's easier this time around. Little Eloise is really my joy. I love seeing that she gets so much comfort from being near me.

Still, last night I don't think Ada saw me with a shirt on from after her nap until bedtime. Craziness. This time around, though, I'm hoping to go more easy on myself. The first time, I was pretty hard on myself for not feeling that nursing is a magical experience to cherish always. Right now, I'm trying to savor the good and make it through the bad and ugly. We've even decided to do pacifiers because the comfort sucking is a bit nuts, but that's a post for another day.

When I look up some questions about nursing on the web, I feel like there are two main camps. The people who quit really early and can't stand it OR the people who embrace it and just adore nursing. Please tell me I'm not alone being somewhat between these ends of the spectrum.

And HAPPY TUESDAY!

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The Rest of the Story

>> Friday, June 24, 2016

I am absolutely overwhelmed with the support and love you all have shown us. Not just after the birth of Eloise -- but throughout the entire process. When I check through my Instagram feed at night and see your thoughtful suggestions and ideas for easing into the newborn phase, I smile. When you guys share with me your common struggles and triumphs, I get all warm and fuzzy inside. There have been so many times I've considered stopping blogging, but in the end -- there's so much good that has come of it.

I thought I'd answer a few questions we've been getting today. If you have more, let 'em in the comments. I would like to get started with some informal video blogging again. But I don't have any hard and fast goals for this site right now. I am writing when I feel compelled and when I can. (This morning, making these lactation cookies was top of the priority list!)


#1: How's it going?

Pretty well. We are definitely not having a perfectly smooth transition, but it's not half bad either. Mostly, it's hard getting used to being so tired again. I suppose that's one advantage of having kids closer together -- you wouldn't have the time we've had to relish all the sleep. And instead of being tired and able to rest when the baby rests, we have a big girl with lots of energy now that preschool is over for the year.

It's definitely easier in many respects because so much of having a baby is like riding a bike. We quickly remembered what different signals mean. We aren't freaked out if the baby starts crying in public. We don't need to pack our diaper bag with every last item in our house. We feel like we can get out and about without too much trouble, etc. That's all been so nice.

#2: Talk about perfect timing!

This isn't a comment we've received from anyone online. But just about everyone we run into out and about comments on how perfect our baby timing was for Stephen being home for summer vacation. We usually just laugh and shrug -- but you guys know we didn't time this stuff. In many ways, it's also awful timing. Summer is heating up, our AC unit just broke, and we have no paychecks coming in. (PS: Our furnace broke shortly after Ada was born!)

All that stuff aside, though, it is great to have Stephen home. He was gone for long days during track season, so we felt like we never saw him. Now he's here all the time. All or nothing -- lol!

#3: How did you decide on the name Eloise Joy?

With Ada, getting pregnant so easily meant the whole thing felt like it went by at lightning speed. This time around, there was so much waiting. We had literally a gazillion names picked out for boys and girls. Then we had specific ones picked during different pregnancies that we didn't want to use again out of respect. It became kind of nuts how long my lists got.

Stephen had liked the name Eloise during Ada's pregnancy. I really liked it, too, but had my heart set on Ada at that point. So, when we got serious about the names discussion, I remembered Eloise. And it just felt right. The Joy, as you can imagine, simply comes from our emotions tied to her arrival.

#4: How's Ada adjusting to being a big sister?

About as well as can be expected. The first visit, she was conflicted to say the least. I think the hardest part to her has been the crying. Ada's sensitive to noise -- it's a sensory thing she's always had. So, we are working with her on understanding why Eloise cries and giving her ideas on what might help her feel better when the crying gets bad.

Otherwise, she really is in love. We put her to bed last night and about a half hour later she wanted to come downstairs just to say goodnight to her sister again.

#5: How did everything turn out with the GBS and meds?

As weird as my birth was being augmented and all -- I think the whole scenario worked out really well for my anxiety over GBS. My water broke (or hind water or whatever) only a bit and I was able to get meds ASAP before even contracting. This meant I was able to get both doses of the medication in before delivery (my delivery was almost 8 hours after starting the meds to the dot!), which is something I really didn't think I'd have time for.

#6: What sling do you have?

I've had so many questions about my sling! It's a Maya Wrap, size medium with light padding. I think I should have gone for the small, but it still works. It's definitely comfortable and I can see using it a lot. But I guess I'm old fashioned because I still prefer using my old Moby Wrap for newborn carrying.

#7: Does Eloise look like/act like Ada?

It's hard to compare babies, especially at this newborn stage. I feel like Eloise looks almost exactly like Ada did as a tiny baby. They also nurse similarly and make tons of the same noises, seems to be developing reflux, etc. Did you moms of 2+ kids notice a big difference right away? My pregnancy was so similar, the date when I gave birth was within like 24 hours, and I just can't perceive a big difference! I know this will change with time, though.

#8: What are your must-haves so far? Have they changed since Ada?

It's still early to tell, but I will surely do an updated post on this topic. As a short list, some of my must-haves are different. For example, I didn't have a Rock 'n Play the first time around. This time? It's so handy as a place to put Eloise during the day! We also bought this amazing White Noise Machine that is the best one I've ever experienced. It has a real fan inside, so we run that on the main level of the house during the day to help absorb noise.

What hasn't been a must-have is our swaddlers. She doesn't like to be swaddled at all. So weird!

#9: What's your biggest challenge right now?

That's a tough one. I would say adjusting to nursing again. After being "free" to come and go as I please for so many years, it's hard to be back on an on-demand nursing schedule. I also don't love feeling engorged (who does?). And right now I'm dealing with some over-supply on my left versus right and trying to correct it -- so that's annoying. I know it will all sort out soon.

At times, I have been somewhat torn between Ada and Eloise. Like, they'll both have needs . . . and usually Eloise's is more pressing, but Ada is much more aware of my timeliness. You know what I mean. It's tough. Any tips on that?

#10: Other stuff:

When we got home from the hospital, Ada had a cold. We tried really hard to not have it spread, but now I have a cold and the baby does, too. The house was really clean the day we got home from the hospital and not so great now. The laundry was all caught up and now it's exploding again. We had postponed our HelloFresh boxes for a couple weeks -- so meals have been spotty and weird.

So, the whole perfection thing we had going after Ada's birth is just not there. That's the main difference I've seen between having one baby versus two kids. We have to prioritize and just live moment to moment.

That's all I have time to write right now. I've been walking about 30-45 minutes a day, so I'm off to get in my slot before Stephen heads off on a run. I have much more to write about! So, stay tuned and HAPPY FRIDAY!

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One Week // Postpartum

>> Monday, June 20, 2016

I'm just about one week out from when I delivered Eloise Joy, and I'm feeling . . . great? I'll backtrack for a moment to explain the question mark. After I delivered Ada, we stayed in the hospital 24 hours and the day we got home, this gloom set over me. I cried, a lot. Over seemingly insignificant things. I felt anxious and angry.

I wanted everyone to go away and to stop holding my baby. I sat on the couch for several weeks, not wanting to get up. I would go to my room and cry sometimes when family was over. Definitely a case of the baby blues that lasted a good three weeks.


Mood

This time? We were in the hospital 72 hours total. When we got home, I was bursting with energy. Not in an unnatural way. I was ready to see Ada and hug her tighter than I had in nine long months. I was ready to do things. I was ready (and still am!) to go places. I was just ready to resume everyday life.

I was bracing myself for some conflicted emotions after the whole journey it took to get us to this point. I am still on watch and have asked my family to please tell me ASAP if I show warning signs of PPD to encourage me to get help. I'm not going to make any grand proclamations right now -- but I'm wondering if I'll continue on this up-swing?

Physical Recovery

Maybe some of this difference has to do with my physical recovery. It, too, has been much better than the first time around. Now, I won't kid you. I tore just as severely with a quick two-push delivery as I did with Ada's grueling 2 hours. Perhaps even a bit worse. That surprised me. But I think less time overall spent pushing treated the rest of my body well. Plus, I knew more of what to expect with all the bleeding, soreness, and other issues, so it wasn't as demoralizing.

That being said, it's summer. I am looking forward to the Mega-Period ending and for everything else to return to normal.

Night Sweats

I don't think I wrote about the crazy night sweats I had after delivering Ada. They were downright awful. I'd wake for weeks just drenched. Trying to navigate breastfeeding for the first time while waking in the winter nights completely damp and chilled was terrible. I had one night of some sweating in the hospital but haven't had any sense. I do wonder how my body is ridding itself of the excess fluids from pregnancy, though. Maybe I'm not out of the woods yet.

Sleep Paralysis

You guys. I had a mild episode of sleep paralysis the other night. I am really, really, really hoping it won't happen as severely as it did with Ada. Basically, I woke up unable to move with tremendous pressure on my chest feeling like someone was pressing down. I was trying to scream out Stephen's name but nothing would come out of my mouth. And then I woke up gasping.

I have told my midwife about it, but she isn't familiar. I know it has something to do with my body not getting out of REM sleep as I wake up. Not fun. Have any of you experienced this? Thankfully I've had it before so it isn't as frightening this time around . . . but I am trying to get good blocks of sleep to keep it at bay.

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is going well. Eloise has a strong latch and is nursing from each side pretty much every feed. I think an average feed is taking around 20 minutes right now. She does like to comfort-suck. And we're right on with the newborn 10-12 feeds per day right now. She'll nurse about every two hours during the day and maybe space things out to 3 hours on occasion.

Another difference with nursing so far is that my let-down reflex isn't as strong, but my milk production seems to be plentiful. With Ada, I used to get this wave of sadness when my milk would let down . . . and so far, I haven't had that. I am also far less overwhelmed with having to feed Eloise all.the.time because I know it doesn't last forever.

Weight + Exercise

I started pregnancy at 138 pounds and I think I topped off around 162 (the week before she was born). I am down to around 146 right now, but I don't have any major weight goals for anytime soon. Ultimately, I just want to be back around 135, which seems to be my happy weight when I am eating well and running.

This is annoying, though: I am ravenously hungry and trying to limit sugar, which I'll get to in a minute (it isn't dieting, I promise you!). As far as exercise goes, I have started walking a bit. Unlike with Ada, I don't feel like my organs are going to fall out of my body -- but I'm not going to test my luck. I may do a little bit of Barre sometime soon. Mostly stretching. One of the 10-minute videos.

Oh, and funny thing -- Eloise TOTALLY calms down when I do Barre squats.

Misc.

There's the not-so wonderful news in all this goodness. My urine test before delivery showed both Group B and Group D strep strains. I flipped out momentarily because, I mean, STREP D? WTF?  I don't get sick very often. I've never had all these sorts of infections. I am really starting to wonder what is going on with me. My midwife says it is probably just being immunocompromised from pregnancy. It's definitely a source of anxiety for me, so I am hoping we can clear whatever is going on up soon.

I am on antibiotics -- for the 1,000,000th time this year -- to try to kick out the D from my system. They are 4 times a day for 10 days. After just being on hefty IV meds during delivery. Ugh. I am really hoping I can kick these UTIs. I've never, ever had them in my life. I will say that I am worried about developing yeast, thrush, or major digestive issues like C. diff. I am taking probiotics and don't know what else to do. I am trying to limit sugar, but I am SO HUNGRY FOR ALL THE CARBS and can't seem to.

Overall

I do think the time of year has something to do with things being better this time around, too. Not only is Stephen off from school basically tomorrow, so I have lots of help transitioning. We are extremely close to the longest day of the year. Seeing the sun start to rise before 5 AM and set after 9 PM makes me dread the long nights far less. It's warm outside, so we're able to get sun and fresh air. I guess I am going to try to stop questioning why I feel so well and, instead, be thankful.

It's been a long stretch of sadness and anxiety and uncertainty, and I'd like to think that maybe -- just maybe -- the clouds are lifting. I'll be back soon with some answers to questions I've received about how we're adjusting to family life. What it's like having an older kid and a newborn (she is so tiny!!!). If Eloise reminds us of Ada. And etc.

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