MaternalMusing

A Personal Adventure Into Parenthood

The Selfish Breast-feeder: What’s in It for Me? November 11, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 10:14 am
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Note: This post does contain pictures of a nursing baby. If this offends you then I’d recommend putting on some Netflix and carrying on!

Brace yourself! This isn’t another one of those blogs that goes on and on about how breastfeeding is the be all, end all of raising your new son or daughter. If you choose to nurse, awesome! If you choose to formula feed, right on! And if you choose to pump you straight up deserve a gold medal. We all have breastfeeding shoved in our faces on a pretty consistent basis as mothers and honestly I’m getting sick of it. It drives me crazy to hear uneducated harpies (#sorrynotsorry) pipe up in conversations, both IRL and online, with made up statistics and unhelpful admonishments. You know the ones that start ​with ‘Well only about 27% of women ACTUALLY have trouble producing enough’ and ‘Dark beer with help you up your supply!’? Yeah those… A note to those ladies: Quit selling your half-baked advice to fragile new mothers who think they’ve started off as a failure if they don’t take to nursing like a fish to water. You’re not helping anyone and really just seem to enjoy the sound of your own voice…

Perspective shot during a nursing session. You get the same angle bottle feeding btw...just in case you were worried!

Perspective shot during a nursing session. You get the same angle bottle feeding by the way…in case you were worried!

For V I pumped…and pumped…and pumped… so when I had A I knew there was no way in hell I could do that again. I set my goal to pump and try to transition to breast within three months or that kid was going to be getting his nutrients through whatever formula I could buy in bulk. As second time mom I felt empowered to make my own decision that would allow me to maintain a happy, healthy baby AND mother. So long as you have a full and sassy kid on your hands, however you choose to get there you’re doing the right thing.

He sure does...and formula...and really any type of food he can get in his mouth.

He sure does…and formula…and really any type of food he can get in his mouth. He’s not picky so long as he’s full.

Anyways as it turns out A was a champ. Switched to nursing like it was nothing and we settled into a great routine. I never had any mastitis, engorgement, blocked ducts, cracked nipples, etc. Honestly, and hate me if you want, it’s been awesome. But not because I’m providing that ‘Liquid Gold’ to my son. There are a host of other benefits that I’m revelling in, even at one year in. He’s still had a bottle of formula or two a week up until a year ’cause honestly Mom needs a break sometimes but let me fill you in. I’m a selfish breast-feeder. I do it more for my benefit honestly than his…and there are tons of upsides here. Check this out:

A) Cost

It’s free!! I didn’t have to pay to feed my kid for 6 months. I never even bought a nursing bra (giant waste of money…sports bras are a zillion times more comfortable and come in convenient 3 packs at Walmart). I did buy a cover and that was a mistake. Infants may be okay with cloth dangling on their face while they eat but try doing that with a 7-8 month old and see how fast it gets tossed on the floor.

B) Laziness

I hate cleaning bottles with the passion of a thousand suns. Seriously. Have you ever tried to clean out a bottle with gooey, caked, congealed formula at the bottom. The smell alone could clear the room. Also you need to buy bottles, a sanitizer, dishwasher rack, bottle scrubber, drying rack and be prepared to give up half your counter space to the various feeding gadgets. A’s feeding source came attached directly to me so…win!

C) Laziness Pt. 2

I didn’t have to get up to prep bottles at 3am. I literally grabbed the baby, lifted up my shirt and went back to sleep. Feeding my infant went from a 30 min production in the middle of the night to a drowsy, 15 min snuggle. Have you ever stumbled downstairs at midnight, in the dark and tried to measure the correct water to formula ratio while half-awake? It blows.

D) Space Saver

When I packed the diaper bag for V I always had to make sure I had pumped milk, knew how long it would be out of the fridge, etc. It was stressful and took up too much space. Plus when bottles spilled all over the inside of the bag, wiping out diapers and clean outfits, it was enough to pull my hair out. This time, when I left the house all I had to do was make sure I had a change of clothes, wipes and enough diapers to get back home again. No fuss, no mess, no stress! My food supply was kind of obligated to come along with us.

I refuse to live in a world where I'm the only source of nutrition for my kid! Although a bottle of water is less gross to clean than milk...especially if you forget!

I refuse to live in a world where I’m the only source of nutrition for my kid! Although a bottle of water is less gross to clean than milk…especially if you forget!

Now there are definitely some downsides to nursing as well. I can tell you more people have seen my rack in the last year than have in my entire 30 years before that. It bothered me to start but honestly at this point it doesn’t even phase me. I’m not someone to push my nursing on anyone else though. If I’m not at home I’ll usually leave the room or set myself away from the group after asking the host if they’re okay with me breastfeeding. I don’t think the fact that I’m lucky enough to nurse my child means that I have to become a warrior for a cause. Breastfeeding is like religion, it’s a personal choice and doesn’t need to be rammed down anyone’s throat.

Milk drunk. Infants make this face with a full belly, formula or breast milk.

Milk drunk. Infants make this face with a full belly, formula or breast milk.

I’ve also seen the differing reactions from family, friends and strangers now that I’ve reached the year mark. Those who tipped their hat to me about what a great service I was doing my child at 4 months suddenly ask, ‘Oh, you’re STILL nursing?’ I should be clear here that I’m not still nursing because I believe in extended breastfeeding (and it’s totally cool if you do). I’m actually actively trying to wean but A still enjoys the comfort and snuggle in the morning and before bed, so it is what it is. I’m going to take the fact that we’ve gone from 5-6 times a day to 1-2 as a victory here and find comfort in the knowledge that we’ll stop before a) he can actively remember it and b) before he can verbally ask for it or start pulling down my shirt in public. No free peepshows courtesy of my toddler thanks!

Gotta make sure Mom doesn't go anywhere...

Gotta make sure Mom doesn’t go anywhere…

In the interest of full disclosure, I did also have my days where I struggled with breastfeeding. Not because it was uncomfortable or hurt in any way. It was because I felt trapped. I’d literally be ‘touched-out’ by the end of the day and just want 30 mins of complete solitude where no-one was crawling all over me. I was A’s main source of nutrition so I couldn’t leave him for extended periods of time, go on a long weekend with my husband or even drink more than a glass or two of wine at a party or celebration. Also I’m not sure if I just have a slow metabolism or love food too much, but it’s also done absolutely zip for my post-pregnancy weight loss strategy. Those moms who say that they lost 50 lbs purely based on their boobs are full of crap.

Funny part of a breastfed kid? They'll literally try to nurse off of anything. Exhibit: A trying to nurse off the wall.

Funny part of a breastfed kid? They’ll literally try to nurse off of anything. Exhibit: A trying to nurse off the wall.

Another load of baloney that mothers are fed is that your bond with your child isn’t as strong if you don’t breastfeed. Hooey. I never nursed V and I love both my boys just as fiercely. How your child eats isn’t the basis for love and anyone who tries to sell you that load of garbage is obviously dealing with some serious issues of their own. Smile, nod, and walk away slowly.

Breastfeeding is a huge commitment. Not as big as pumping honestly, having done both, but still a pretty big deal. I was very proud that I’d managed to stick it out for a full year and I decided to celebrate reaching my goal by having some nursing pictures taken. We never did newborn pictures with A, like we did with V, and I wanted to do something special and unique to celebrate getting through the first year happy and healthy. I’m lucky that we know a very talented photographer who had no qualms about capturing what ended up being a very sweet moment between mother and child. The pictures honestly brought tears to my eyes, not because I’m breastfeeding, but because you can see such a strong bond in the pictures, something that’s hard to find words for. I’ll treasure them forever.

Courtesy of Grace Barnhart Photography.  Adore this.

Courtesy of Grace Barnhart Photography.
Adore this.

So in the end, breastfeeding is awesome and not for all those reasons the crazy mothers will drill into you. There’s definitely an upside for you in there but if it’s not what you want, then do what keeps you and your child happy and healthy! Just in case no-one has told you lately, you’re doing a great job, enjoy a virtual high five from me!

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Prepping A Big Sibling: Only Child Expiring Soon April 13, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 9:00 am
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V is a truly awesome kid. I know, I know…I’m his mom so I’m pretty biased but this past year has really shown me what a fantastic, thoughtful, caring little boy we’ve been blessed with. Last winter, while I was overjoyed to find out we were expecting a sibling for our little man, I was also worried about how to tell V, how it would change our relationship with him, and honestly if I could love another child as much as I loved my miracle baby. For 3.5 years V had had all of our love, attention, resources and focus….how could we possibly divide that with another baby? And how would we help V adjust to sharing all of those things? I’m told these are common concerns for repeat parents-to-be and that it would all come out in the wash, but if you know me and my control-freak self, I wanted to have a solid plan in place to make sure our transition from 1 to 2 went smoothly.

First Hold! V was so careful...and carefully assisted by Daddy.

First Hold! V was so careful…and carefully assisted by Daddy.

First of all we had to decide when to tell V that a little brother/sister was on its way. Because there is a large-ish gap between our children and V is old enough to understand most things I felt like we should wait until I was almost done my first trimester to share our news. V is a sensitive kid and I didn’t want to tell him a sibling was coming if we experienced early complications or a miscarriage. You never know, so I felt it was easier to tell him just before we told other friends/family. Obviously there comes a point, typically when your stomach could block out the sun, that older kids will probably notice there is something unusual going on, but early on it’s pretty easy to keep it to yourself.

My tiny 4 year old...and avg sized 4 month old at the time

My tiny 4 year old…and avg sized 4 month old at the time

One other reason we didn’t share about the baby early on is because I was so sick and we didn’t want V forming any negative connotations in regards to his sibling. Kids are typically pretty sensitive and if we’d told him ‘Well baby is making Mommy sick’ we worried he’d think this baby was a pretty terrible thing. The fun part about all this was that I was brutally sick with Mr. A. Vomiting and nausea, all day, every day, for the first 14 or so weeks. Of course V noticed that I spent most of my time lying in a dark room with a cold cloth on my head trying to keep my breakfast/lunch/dinner down but since he has no concept of ‘morning (ha!) sickness’ he just thought I was plain old sick. We also told him about my kidney issues right away since they involved 3 separate (middle of the night) ER trips before I hit my second trimester.

V getting ready to feed Mr. A his first taste of solids.

V getting ready to feed Mr. A his first taste of solids.

When we did tell V we didn’t make it a big deal. We sat on the couch while he was dancing/playing around the living room and told him he was getting a brother/sister. Of course, V being 3 at the time and not understanding how babies are made, started looking around the room like his sibling was about to magically appear. We explained that baby would grow in Mommy’s ‘tummy’ until after his birthday (well we got close!) and then he’d come out and play. We also put more emphasis on what a great big brother he was going to be, rather than how a new baby was arriving. We sold it like a promotion and everyone with toddlers knows that they love anything that makes them feel important or grown up. Luckily V had had a baby cousin born in Jan of 2014 so he at least understood the concept of what a baby looked/sounded like. V, in his typical way, nodded, took the announcement in stride, and went back to playing. In the toddler mind if it’s not happening right that second, then it’s not really all that exciting.

Bubble Guppies is one heck of a bonding experience.

Bubble Guppies is one heck of a bonding experience.

One thing we made sure to NOT do when we told V was start by asking him if he wanted a brother or sister. Let’s be honest, at that point it didn’t really matter if he wanted it or not, so it was better to just tell him what was happening. We also didn’t ask him if he’d prefer a brother or a sister…babies aren’t really the ‘made to order’ type. We had him ‘guess’ what the baby was before our gender ultrasound but he didn’t really seem to care either way. My advice here is essentially don’t let your child feel like they have a choice, when they really don’t. It’s not like asking them if they’d prefer milk or juice with breakfast…

Helping Daddy give Baby A a bath in the NICU.

Helping Daddy give Baby A a bath in the NICU.

Another element A and I discused was how involved with the pregnancy we wanted V to be. He was 3 and a half when we told him about our impending arrival so he was definitely old enough to understand what was happening but still young enough to be impatient or distracted at appointments/ultrasounds etc. We decided that V wouldn’t be attenting any of my pre-natal appointments, tests or ultrasounds. Baby doctor appointments, especially high risk ones, are long and they would have required him to sit still and quietly which is hard to do for any normal 3-4 year old. Some days I would be at the hospital ALL DAY…ultraound for an hour in the am then a 3+ hr wait to see my high risk OB. Not really fun for an active little boy and stressful for me as well. My in-laws were great about watching him while I was at appointments and he had fun hanging out with his cousins all summer!

Oh he's beautiful! - V

Oh he’s beautiful! – V

We, of course, would show him the ultrasound pictures when I got home and he loved looking at them and trying to pick out his brother’s features! He’d ask to see ‘his’ baby sometimes during the day and we’d let him look at the scans as much or as little as he wanted. We also let him touch my belly and feel his brother kick when I got far enough along. This weirded him out honestly and he only did it a couple times. Around 20 weeks when I was getting bigger he started asking me daily if his brother was coming out to play yet which was a little freaky since we’d had one pre-term kiddo already. I took it as a good sign that he was so excited to meet his little sibling. V also got to hear baby A’s heartbeat once during one of my many hospital stays. This was probably the most excited I’d seen him…he loved it! He told us ‘Baby August’ was talking to him.

Helping Daddy feed his baby brother.

Helping Daddy feed his baby brother.

We had also decided that V would not be present when I went into labour. I’m not a big fan of sharing that with anyone other than my husband and we didn’t want family in the waiting room etc this time either. My parents were lifesavers and took V to their house for numerous weeks in the summer when I was so sick with my kidneys and Andrew was at work. They agreed to pick V up when I went into labour (or was being induced as it ended up) and they’d bring him back to visit his sibling when we were ready. This was a hard decision to make since we didn’t want V thinking he’d been ‘replaced’ while he was away, but it ended up being a pretty smooth transition. V has a lifetime to spend with his little brother so waiting an extra day to see him after he was born wasn’t going to make a difference in the grand scheme of things.

My boys in Baby A's second flight..home from FL!

My boys in Baby A’s second flight..home from FL!

I’ll be honest, I spent a lot of my pregnancy randomly in tears about how the whole ‘new baby’ thing would change our family dynamic. We’d had almost 4 years to get into a pretty smooth routine and as happy as I was to welcome a new life into our family I was also worried that we’d be living in chaos for the next 14-18 years. I had all of these plans to savour and celebrate V’s last summer as an only child. We were going to go to Canada’s Wonderland, visit the CN Tower, see many, many Jays games at the Rogers Centre! We were going to spend all summer, just the three of us, enjoying our calm before the storm. And then we didn’t…

Introducing his baby brother to Ace!

Introducing his baby brother to Ace!

At 21 weeks I was admitted to the hospital with devastatingly painful hydronephrosis and had a tube inserted into my kidney. At 26 weeks I had a recurrent infection that required another hospitalization and a permanent PICC line inserted. I’d get to carry a portable IV pump until I delivered. I had another hospitalization in August because my left kidney had blocked (although 2 hrs before my surgery for my second nephrostomy tube it cleared Thank God!). I had my tube changed once a week, met with an Infectious Disease specialist every two weeks, my high risk OB weekly due to blood pressure issues, had weekly progesterone shots in my backside to help keep Mr. A inside longer than his brother, AND monthly meetings with my urologist. I was at risk for septic infection, pre-term labour and strokes/seizures. I was told by all 4 of my departments that I wasn’t allowed to leave the city…I had to be within 30 mins of the hospital at all times. There went all of our summer plans….

Taking a 'picture' of his little brother!

Taking a ‘picture’ of his little brother!

This was incredibly hard, not just on my body, but mentally as well, for me and for A and V. V was shuttled back and forth between my fantastic in-laws and my amazing parents. All in all V was in Niagara over a month last summer when you add up his various trips. He was there so often he called it his ‘Niagara House’. Luckily he adores my parents and vice versa so he had a great time visiting them, playing outside, splashing in his kiddie pool and learning to use the toilet like a big boy. Have I mentioned how much I love my parents? We wouldn’t have gotten through last summer without them. I’m so blessed to have family who loves our child like we do and literally re-arranged their whole lives to help us out. I was so overwhelmed by their love and thoughtfulness that it’s brought me to tears more than once.

Posin'

Posin’

When V was back in London he spent his days with my sister-in-law and his cousins. Sometimes being dropped off at 3am when we were rushing back to the hospital with pre-term contractions, blood pressure spikes or kidney issues. Do you know what a relief it is to know you have someone to call when you have a middle of the night emergency? Huge! I also still live in awe that my sister-in-law was able to convince him to nap at her house on a regular basis…

As awesome as all this was for us, imagine how it was for V. He’s not old enough to really understand why all of this shuffling around was going on. All he knew was that some days Mommy was home in bed and he went to Auntie C’s house for the day, then he’d come home and give her a snuggle. Some days Grandma and Grandpa would come pick him up and he’d come home in a week (or more). Other times he’d head to Auntie C’s and then after he’d visit Mommy at the hospital because they’d ‘kept’ her. He started to get anxious when I’d tell him I was going to the doctor, asking me if I’d be home after. He’d cry on Skype asking us if he could come home like he was in some kind of exile. This was absolutely heartbreaking but honestly it was better that he had a stable routine especially during weeks I had multiple procedures.

Taking care of Baby A once we came home

Taking care of Baby A once we came home

As much as I wanted to spend all of my time with him I was physically unable to. Between all of these appointments I was on bedrest for my blood pressure, or recovering from having my tube replaced. I couldn’t lift him, bend down or chase after him. I couldn’t bathe myself so how was I supposed to help him? I felt useless and awful that I’d ruined his ‘last’ summer. And then I realized I was being stupid. All in all, V had a great summer! He was the number one guy for a lot of people last year! Our whole family pulled together to make sure he had a pretty awesome summer despite the chaos happening at home. He got to travel, see Blue Jays games, swim and run around outside. Sadly I wasn’t able to really participate but the summer was supposed to be all about him…and it was.

After all the chaos, to be honest, A’s arrival was pretty anti-climatic. He really does deserve his own post on that so I’ll skip to our first meet and greet! V was with my parents during my labour and delivery and was finally able to come visit his new sibling on his 4th birthday! Our b-day gift to him was a doctor’s appointment for vaccines so he could get into the NICU. Andrew got to tell V that Baby August had arrived the day after he was born, but V didn’t come down to London until the Monday evening to meet him. My parents brought V up to the NICU and we helped him sanitize his hands and walked him down to Baby A’s private suite (The ‘new’ NICU is pretty freakin’ swanky let me tell you!). On our quick walk we explained to him what he was about to see. Baby A was in a special crib to help keep him warm, he had a mask on his face to help him breathe (like Bane) and was on a special blanket that made him glow! He was too little to hold right now but he’s so excited to meet his awesome big brother! V skipped down the hallway, anxious to meet this little person who’d been hiding in Mommy’s belly!

What followed made me sob like a baby. V was the sweetest, most loving big brother I’ve ever seen. He sighed when he saw his ‘beautiful baby’ and whispered to him that everything would be okay now, Vaughan was here. He blew kisses into the isolette and kept telling us how amazing his baby brother was. It was such a special moment for the 4 of us and I’ll carry those memories with me forever. V was so sad that Baby A had to stay at the hospital until he was big and strong but he promised his little brother he’d come visit him again. Heartbreakingly beautiful…that’s my boy!

Aww I love him! - V

Aww I love him! – V

August was in the NICU for 16 days and V was able to come for several visits after he arrived back home. When we brought him for visits we encouraged him to give his brother kisses on the forehead, ‘help’ give him a bath and even help us hold his bottle. He loved being so hands-on! One thing we never pushed though was contact with his brother. If he didn’t want to give him a kiss then that was his choice. We explained that it would be nice if he did it, and his brother loved his kisses, but if he wasn’t feeling it I wasn’t about to hold a screaming toddler over a 4 lb something infant forcing them to snuggle. We tried very hard not to create any negative emotions surrounding our new addition. When V visited the NICU it was all about what he could do to help!

It's okay Baby August...Vaughan's here!

It’s okay Baby August…Vaughan’s here!

When we finally brought Baby A home, V was over the moon! He wanted to help with everything and we still try to keep him very involved. He would sit next to him and rock his chair, replace a dropped soother, and sing him songs when he was sad. He was everything we’d imagined he’d be as a big brother and now, 7 months in, he’s exactly the same. V will shush us when he see his little brother sleeping, pick up dropped toys and come find us if he thinks Baby A is hungry or sad.

The one thing V doesn’t do is hold his brother. Not that he doesn’t want to, but let’s be honest. Baby A is considerably bigger than V was as a baby…and quickly gaining on how big V is as a 4.5 year old. V weighs a whopping 27 lbs…and August is quickly approaching 17 lbs at 7 months (delightfully average for the most part!). V just can’t hold that much squirming baby safely, so we keep the snuggles to the bed or playmat.

V is a very protective older brother, he worries if Baby A isn’t with us. He doesn’t like when I take him for doctors appointments and makes me promise that I won’t let the doctors keep him because August is ‘big’ now. He gives me a stern talking to if Baby A doesn’t come with me to pick him up from school. If we’re going somewhere he wants to make sure Baby A can come too. He’s eagerly awaiting the day that Baby A can play with him and they can have sleepovers. He tells people that Baby A is his best friend. Oh…and he also asks me not to swallow Baby August anymore…he didn’t like it in my belly apparently.

Snuggles before V heads to school for the day.

Snuggles before V heads to school for the day.

I did have someone ask how we ‘made’ the boys get along. The answer is ‘We don’t’. Kids are just like everyone else…sometimes you just want time alone, you aren’t feeling affectionate, or they’re just plain getting on your nerves. We respect V’s personal space and if he wants to play by himself, away from his brother, for an hour or so, he’s free to do that. I don’t believe you can force anyone to get along, even siblings, and there will be a lot less resentment, if you just let things unfold organically. I should also probably mention, on the other side of the spectrum, Baby A is obsessed with V…No-one else can get a smile or laugh quite as quickly as V can when it comes to our August-man.

We are so glad Baby A came into our lives and it’s also nice to know that he and V will always have each other. Siblings are for life, and good or bad, they’ll be each other’s rocks when they’re older. Now to get prepared for when August starts grabbing V’s toys….wish me luck!

Oh the attitude...

Oh the attitude…

 

The ‘B’ Words: Breastfeeding and Bonding August 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — maternalmusing @ 7:58 pm
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I’m pretty sure I’ve said it before but as soon as we’d found out we were pregnant, one thing that A and I both agreed on was that we wanted to at least attempt to breastfeed; give it the ‘old college try’ if you will. Not only did we feel that it was the healthiest start we could give our baby, but it was also significantly cheaper than formula. Formula feeding also opened the doors for confusion over the insane amounts of brands and choices, potential food allergies, lactose intolerance, stomach upset, etc, and we figured the less variables we introduced the better we’d feel as first-time parents.

Now this being said I was aware that breastfeeding isn’t necessarily an option available to all mommies and I’d never take anything away from any mother that did what they had to to feed their baby. Sometimes milk just doesn’t come in, or at least not in adequate amounts to feed tiny, angry, growing bodies and other times there are physical difficulties with a good latch, lactation support, colic or a host of other small things that stand in the way. Breastfeeding should be a positive experience and if it’s causing nervous breakdowns or panic attacks, a trip to the Walmart formula aisle might be just the ticket to restored sanity!

I’ve already posted about my personal relationship with my pump and the good luck I had with my production, but figured I’d dedicate some time to reliving our first attempts at natural nursing, although we ended up, unfortunately, abandoning the concept later on in favour of getting V home with us as soon as possible.

Once we reached the NPCU (aka the feeding and growing room), one of the things I started to bug our nurses about was breastfeeding V naturally as opposed to syringing it through his nifty little gastro tube. Since they had introduced a bottle that same week it seemed to reason that he would also be awake enough to try and nurse. We set up a meeting with our LC for the first attempt so I could be taught how to properly hold, adjust and latch the baby onto my ‘lovely lady lumps’ (am I showing my age by quoting ‘old school’ Black Eyed Peas?). The nurse set up a privacy screen, handed me a nursing pillow, and told me to strip down my top half while she weighed V.

The NICU is absolutely fanatical about weighing the babies before and after any breastfeeding attempts. Since the amount of milk swallowed can’t be tracked like a syringe or a bottle the baby is weighed before and after each feed with each gram gained equal to one mL of milk swallowed. V was up to 35 mL every three hours so we were hoping for a 35 gram gain!

Starting the breastfeeding session prep: Baby stripdown!

I eventually had to learn the art of weighing a newborn since we did attempt nursing every visit after the first experience. This is hands-down the scariest thing I’ve ever had to do as a parent! Imagine holding a 3lb baby covered in monitors and tubes, stark naked, squirming and screaming, all while trying to reset a scale, lay down a cloth so you don’t freeze their tiny buns off and then cap it all off with this crazy flip to rest them on their tummies which the nurses seem to be able to do in their sleep for the most accurate measure you can get. The first time I tried to weigh V I literally stared at him, then the scale, then him again and then asked for help. For some reason my brain could not send the message to my hands on how exactly to get my face up, in my arms baby to end up face down on the scale without dropping him, or his head falling off, or some other scenario my hormone filled and sleep deprived brain was flashing through my consciousness. I eventually got the hang of it, but was never something I was truly comfortable with and gladly pawned the chore off on Daddy when he arrived for his evening visits.

Anyways, back to the first attempt. After I was sitting half naked , mostly shielded by the screen, in the middle of a room full of other parents (have I mentioned having a newborn rids you of any modest, inhibitions or shame?) the nurse handed me my diaper-clad baby and helped me get the hand of the nursing hold. For anyone who has never nursed, or attempted it, it is this slightly awkward one handed grip when you hold your infant across your chest and use the other hand to mash their face into your cleavage. Due to my post-baby voluptuousness this whole concept made me very nervous as I was sure he was not going to be able to breathe! The LC assured me that infants will tip their nose to make sure they are able to get enough oxygen and then went to help me get V to latch properly.

Well much our surprise V didn’t need any help at all, he just hooked right on and went to town. I about hit the ceiling since the sensation is like nothing you can describe. Weird definitely covers it, but natural at the same time. The LC would only give me 20 minutes to get all I could into him and then we had to call it quits since breastfeeding is very energy intensive for little babies. V actually stayed latched the whole time until we had to pry his tiny self right off! The nurse went to weigh him and I had high hopes, he stayed on the whole time right? Well, yes…but he’d apparently been using me as a soother since he only went up 4 mL. Ugh… This was followed by a lesson in observation so that I was better able to determine if he was actually swallowing or just sucking…tricky on a tiny infant and in V’s case swallowing was actually a rare occurrence.

Step 2: Untangle cords and head for the scale – no pics of that since there was no way I was juggling a camera on top of that whole hot mess of a production!

The next few attempts we tried all sorts of tricks to get him to take more than he was getting. This first attempt had been post-pump, so the next time we tried before I pumped. Well V almost drowned! He just wasn’t able to deal with  the letdown, breathe and swallow at the same time so he started to choke. From then on we went back to the post-pump timeframe and tried to see where we got. Unfortunately due to his size V wasn’t capable of putting out great suction and my letdown just wasn’t quick enough for him. We spent a solid 3 weeks with him using nursing as self-soothing and bonding time, but not for any actual nutrition. Frustrating to say the least.

He would also fall asleep while nursing and because we were on a strict time limit we had a whole bag of trick to try and wake him up. I guess cuddling skin to skin with his mommy was nice and cozy! We tried keeping him uncovered so that he’d stay a bit cooler, and theoretically awake, but that didn’t work. We tried tapping his cheeks and the bottom of his feet, re-latching him, switching sides and even putting him down on the couch/chair/bassinet to wake himself up…no dice! This kid sure was one deep sleeper.

Step 3: I apologize for the terrible picture but please feel free to focus on the adorable, completely asleep baby in my arms. This is heading into a private room to try and wake the kiddo up and get some milk into him!

The one plus to nursing was definitely the bonding time I got alone with V and the immense pride I felt as a mother and woman that I was fortunate enough to be able to ( or at least attempting to) provide nutrition for my son. We got to snuggle, the two of us, skin to skin and just enjoy the time we had together. I can definitely understand why a lot of modern mamas try to keep up nursing as long as possible, although don’t get me started on that crazy Time magazing cover…

In the end, V’s inability to take a full feeding from the breast (the most we ever got to was 20mL over the 8 months we attempted – you can’t say we didn’t try!) most of our experience with breastfeeding was frustrating. We were hoping to take him home completely breastfeeding but the nurses wouldn’t let you piggyback a nurse, then bottle then tube if all else failed. V had to get his meals either with breast/tube or bottle/tube, not a combination of the three since it was both exhausting and confusing for him. Double Ugh! Being that our whole criteria for getting V home was that he had to eat tube-free for 48 hours we definitely had some hard decisions to make….

On a random sidenote at the end of this post: Sometimes I wonder what V will think of this blog when he’s old enough to understand. I may keep it for blackmail purposes when he’s trying to be ‘cool’ in front of his little 13-year old buddies…