Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Breastfeeding: My Story

So. Breastfeeding. Where do I even start??

I guess there’s no better place than the beginning. Many, many people have written about their personal experiences. I know this because I read them ALL during the first few months. So, why am I writing? Because if this reaches just one person who’s sitting at home quietly struggling then it’s worth it. 

So, back to the beginning. 

I tried to breastfeed the girls, but they were in the NICU for the first two weeks working on developing their sucking reflex and got used to the easy flow of the bottle. I also was stressed to the max about being a first-time mom with two babies in the hospital. I had no idea what I was doing or what to expect. So, I ended up pumping and supplementing with formula. Then when I couldn’t pump any longer, we switched exclusively to formula. My girls turned out fine!! Well, fine enough. Ha! 

Let me stop here and say I am a firm, firm believer in “fed is best.” There are pros and cons to your health and your bond with baby EITHER way you do it. Love your baby, feed your baby and do your best — that’s my motto. 

That being said, when I couldn’t breastfeed the girls, I felt inadequate. What does it mean that I can’t feed my own babies?? I was hopped up on hormones and exhaustion, so no doubt that played a part. But this wasn’t a logical thinking process. It was pure, raw emotion. Some mix of societal pressure and natural instinct to keep our young alive allowed these feelings of guilt and shame to take up residence. Once I accepted the circumstances, it turned out fine. The feelings of guilt and shame went away. I saw the rainbow of not stressing about pumping and started enjoying their babyhood more. 

But when Henry came around, there was a fire deep in my belly — I burned with determination. I was going to prove to myself (because it really wasn’t about others) that I could do this. 

The first few weeks were awful. I cried at least once a day. He could have had a bad latch or I was sensitive or maybe everyone feels like that. I often asked Scott to go to the store to get formula and he’d hesitate at the door to see if I was serious and I’d say “No, not really. But maybe later. Don’t go far.” But things got better. 

Then they got worse. For the entire month of September, I struggled with a plugged milk duct. It consumed my thoughts. It was hard to focus on work or sometimes even hard to focus on Henry. All I could think about was getting rid of it before it turned into mastitis. I was terrified of mastitis. I searched the entire internet for advice. I worked with a lactation consultant and my local La Leche League group. I had lists upon lists of advice and tricks. 

By week four, the milk from that side was almost completely blocked. I can’t describe how heart wrenching it is to try to feed your baby in the middle of the night and just have him scream because nothing is coming out. Enter the guilt. Here I am starving my child, so that I can prove to myself that I can do something. 

After that night, I went in and demanded that someone help me. The lactation consultant referred me to the OB. When I called the OB, they told me to call the lactation consultant. That’s when I threw a huge fit. Someone was going to freaking fix me or I was going to go all Hulk-Mom. I finally got into the nurse practitioner at my OB’s office. She diagnosed it as a breast abscess. Don’t Google it, but just know it scared the crap out of me. 

So, I drove to Topeka and went to the breastfeeding clinic. They disagreed with the abscess diagnosis and said they thought it was mastitis. (By the way, if you have any breastfeeding issues or concerns — call Stormont Vail’s clinic. THEY ARE AMAZING women.) 

A couple of rounds of antibiotics and everything cleared up. The infection. The plug. The obsessive worrying. 

After that, things did settle into a bit of a routine. My milk supply returned, he was better at latching — everything seemed pretty good. 

Until it wasn’t. 

In March, he was teething and the little booger bit me - not on purpose, of course. But man it hurt. This might be a little TMI, but I figure if you’re still reading, you’re in it for the long haul. This puncture wound was extremely painful. Maybe worse than the pain at the beginning of breastfeeding? It was starting to look infected, so I called my OB right away and they hooked me up with some ointment. It was still extremely painful though and when I asked my OB what to do, he recommended i just not feed on that side for a couple of days. 

Ha. Ha. Ha. 

This was my mastitis side — that was NOT going to happen. I was not risking that torment again. So, I nursed through the pain. It took a month for it to finally heal. Oh the relief. For a couple of days. Before he bit me again. I’m not even kidding. He bit me again as soon as the first wound healed. 

Repeat this same process. One month later, that wound had healed and things were back to normal. Better than normal. We were like a breastfeeding machine. He knew what to do. I knew what to do. My milk supply was on point. I was doing backflips (in my mind … I can’t really do a backflip, y’all). 

It was about this same time that we found out he was allergic to milk, so I was cutting milk from my diet as well. No cheese. No sour cream. Please tell me how someone eats a taco in these conditions!! Compared to everything else though, removing milk was cake. But not really cake because cake has milk. You know what else has milk? Pie. I love pie. 

Then he turned a year and there was talk of weaning. 

So, let’s recap. Extreme pain, plugged ducts, mastitis, two bites and diet restrictions. I should be happy about the possibility of weaning. Right? Wrong. 

I was so sad about it. The first few sessions were easy to kick. I cut one out every week or two weeks if I thought it was necessary. The last two were so hard emotionally. And the last one? I couldn’t even talk about it. I didn’t tell anyone for days because it was too emotional. Scott asked me some general question about when I thought I’d be done and I said “I can’t talk about this.” 

I don’t know if it was hormones or the fact that it signaled the end of a chapter, but it was intense. 

It’s been almost a month now and things are fine. Henry adapted like a champ and the freedom is unreal! I can go to movies and out with my girls and not worry about needing to be back to feed Henry. I can eat whatever I want (I definitely have). In fact, a few days after I finally fessed up that I was finished breastfeeding, my sweet, sweet husband brought home two pieces of homemade pie. I literally started crying in my kitchen. 

So, having done it both ways, I am here to tell you — FED IS BEST! You can do formula and feel bad about it and you can breastfeed and feel bad about it! You can do formula and feel more mental healthy and you can breastfeed and enjoy the physical health benefits. You bond with them either way. All that matters is that you love them, feed them and do your best. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

A Few of My Favorite Things: First Grade

Miss Claire

Favorite Color: Red

Least Favorite Color: Pink

Favorite Food: Spaghetti with butter

Least Favorite Food: Chicken

What do you want to be when you grow-up: Vet

Favorite Book: Pete the Cat

Favorite Game: Find the Gingerbread Man

Favorite Restaurant: Old Chicago

Favorite Animal: Dog

Favorite TV Show: Pokemon

Favorite thing to do: Go to the pound

Favorite thing about Dad: That he’s funny

Favorite thing about Mom: That she’s nice to me

Favorite thing about Grace: When she says sorry

Favorite thing about Claire: That she likes stuffed animals

Favorite thing about Henry: He’s cute

Miss Grace

Favorite Color: Pink

Least Favorite Color: Black, brown, gray, white, orange

Favorite Food: Donuts

Least Favorite Food: Green beans

What do you want to be when you grow-up: Farmer

Favorite Book: Barbie

Favorite Game: Crazy Eight

Favorite Restaurant: Varsity Donuts

Favorite Animal: Horse

Favorite TV Show: Barbie

Favorite thing to do: Swimming 

Favorite thing about Dad: He makes us laugh

Favorite thing about Mom: She’s nice to me and I have mommy time with her 

Favorite thing about Claire: She stays in the same room as me

Favorite thing about Grace: I love to be pretty

Favorite thing about Henry: He’s so cute and makes people laugh


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

First Day of First Grade

Today I sent my FIRST GRADERS off to school. No tears (from any of us), a couple of extra hugs and off they went. 

They both said they had great first days. A few after-school comments:

Grace: My teacher is AWESOME!

Claire: There was a fly in the class today. We had two choices. Kill it or name it. We chose name it. 

Grace: Mom, first grade is SO easy. 

Claire: I’m so hungry! We don’t even get snack in first grade. NO. SNACK.

Friday, August 12, 2016


It’s inching closer, even right now. By the time you’re done reading, it’ll be even closer.  

And I’m not ready. Except I am ready. But I’m not ready. 

I had a rough spring. At the end of April, my spirit was a hot mess. I was exhausted all the time, short-tempered, depressed. The lack of sleep night after night, the grumpy baby during the day — it was taking its toll. 

But then summer came. And my girls were home. And everything was different. 

Life with Henry was also getting better, so I don’t want to discount that variable, but having them here during the day made me feel whole again. 

Things were certainly more stressful with two more kids who never, ever stopped bickering. I still lost my temper here and there, but my heart was happy. 

It made me realize how much I missed them this year. With Henry and work keeping me busy, I wasn’t fully aware of just how much until they were back home every day. 

I loved watching them navigate school and friends and mistakes and triumphs. I was proud and nervous and excited all at once. But it turns out, I was also sad. 

School starts in four days. 

My house will be cleaner. The bickering will cease. But the days will most certainly feel emptier. 

So, I’m ready. But I’m not. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

A Firecrackin' Time

I love the Fourth of July. It’s so full of summer and energy and excitement. Since I was a wee one, we have trekked to a nearby town, rode carnival rides, ate funnel cake and watched the fireworks. It’s one of my favorite traditions and I love watching the girls love the experience. And eventually Henry, too!

He is still oblivious to it all, but this year he was less content to just be held while we enjoyed the festivities. He wanted down! Now! And to run away and eat stuff off the ground. That was less-than-fun, but the overall experience was just as great as usual. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Trip on the Wild-ish Side

Sometimes progress is so slow that you don’t immediately see that it’s happening. But when Scott suggested that we go to the zoo recently and I actually said yes, I knew then that progress was happening. If he would have asked that question a month or so ago, I would have just laughed and then took a nap. 

It started out as a pretty nice day — overcast, not too hot. But about halfway through, the clouds split and we were all sweltering a bit. I think we made it through about half of the zoo before we decided to head home and return on a less steamy day. But it was fun while it lasted!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Henry's First Haircut

Henry was born with more hair than the girls had at age 1. And they didn’t get a haircut until age 3. He got his first one a few days before his first birthday. The hair over the ears and in his eyes was driving me bonkers. 

So, we made an appointment. Considering he rarely stops moving for more than a few seconds, he did pretty well. And Scott’s barber, Dylan, was ah-mazing. So patient and kind — even to the big girls who kept insisting on making their presence known.