Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Time to Celebrate-Part 2 (my nursing story)

I'm continuing my nursing and now weaning story of Paige.

In my last post, I left off when Paige was 3 months. For me, this is when nursing became easy and enjoyable. Paige was sleeping 12 hours a night, with a dream feed at about 9:30pm. I dropped the dream feed about 4 months cold turkey, and she did great.

At 6 months, we went to just 4 feedings a day, and I loved it!! I loved that I was still her main source of nourishment, but having 4 hours between feedings was life changing. I felt like I had so much extra free time and was really able to get out and do things. 

We introduced solids at 6 months and looking back, I would have gone slower than we did. I was so worried about her having enough calories, and now I know that there really isn't a huge rush. She did great with solids and continued on 4 feedings a day.

I knew that I always wanted to nurse for 1 year. Just to be honest, prior to having Paige I might have judged people who nursed longer than 12 months. I thought it was weird and strange. Now that I've had a baby, I realize how many things I said I would never do, and now don't even think twice about doing them!

So as her first birthday started approaching, I realized how much I had fallen in love with nursing. I absolutely loved it! Paige also seemed to enjoy it. As I thought about weaning, I realized that in my perfect world I would nurse till she was between 18 months and 2 years. But sadly, we don't live in my perfect world :( ha

Daniel and I had a lot of stuff going on with work and travel. I knew life would be very complicated if I was still nursing by this past May, and especially July. Just thinking about weaning made me want to cry. I had a really hard time with it. As I talked to my sister who had already weaned 3 children, she gave me great advice and told me that once you're on the other side you really don't regret it. I didn't believe her, ha!

There really wasn't a good time to start the weaning process. We were traveling a lot and there was a lot of transition. When Paige was 13 months I dropped her afternoon feeding and replaced it with whole milk. It took about a good week for it to really take and she still wouldn't take more than a few ounces at time. About 2 weeks after dropping the afternoon feed, I dropped the 11am. Daniel gave Paige her milk for a few days to help her transition. There were still a few hard days where Paige just cried because she wanted to nurse. It was difficult in the beginning to not just give in and go back to nursing.

I nursed morning and night for a few weeks. I knew that I wanted to wean slowly so it wouldn't be too traumatic for either of us. I was afraid that dropping the last two feeds would be the hardest. The morning feed went pretty well, even thought she still wasn't taking a lot of milk.

The last time I nursed Paige was so perfect. She was really tired that day, so when I nursed her before bed she fell asleep. It was precious! I just held her and watched her for several minutes. It was exactly how I needed it to end. I did cry. It was difficult to let go of something that we both enjoyed. But my sister was right, now that I'm on the other side I'm okay. It was the right thing to do, and i can honestly say at the end, it wasn't as emotional or as hard as I thought it was going to be. 

Dropping the night feed was actually the easiest, much to my surprise. She quickly took her evening milk without a problem. With the nighttime feed going to smoothly, made it much easier on me. After a few days of being completely on whole milk, Paige started increasing her milk intake. Right now, she takes about 15 ounces a day, sometime less sometimes more. I use to worry about her getting enough milk, but she gets a lot of dairy overall, so I know she's fine. 

Over the past several months, I've joked with Daniel that my new favorite Bible verse is Genesis 21:8, where it says that Abraham gave a great feast when Isaac was weaned. I think every mom should get a party after she has weaned, ha! So after talking and joking about it, somehow it came out to Daniel giving me a hotel night away to celebrate nursing Paige and weaning. 

So about 2 weeks ago, I went to a really nice hotel for 24 hours to celebrate. I went to the pool, Starbucks, took a bubble bath, watched TV in bed, slept in, ordered room service, and went shopping. All.By.Myself. 
It was lovely!!!! And such a treat!!! I'm so grateful to Daniel for making it happen!!!! 

I loved nursing, and even though there were hard times it was all worth it! I am so very thankful for this amazing journey Paige and I were able to have together!

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Time to Celebrate-Part 1 (my nursing story)

This post is about my journey of nursing Paige. So if you're male, feel free to skip this.

While I was pregnant with Paige, besides praying for her health I prayed a lot for my ability to nurse her and nurse well. I had heard stories and had friends who had tough nursing experiences and weren't able to nurse. I really really wanted to breastfeed and I prayed often in hopes I would be able to do it.

Little disclaimer to new moms or moms to be-all the baby prep books and pregnancy books make you feel like a nursing failure before you even start. Or at least that was my take on it. It seemed like all the books I read focused on how hard nursing is, the common problems, and focused on low milk supply. I felt like my supply was low just from reading those books! 

So......I had talked to my doctor and nurses and made sure I was VERY clear that as soon as possible after Paige's birth, we would have time to do skin-to-skin. I was so thankful that even though I had a c-section, I had about 40 minutes with Paige for skin-to-skin and to nurse for the first time as soon as I was wheeled back to my room. They waited to do her measurements and checks until after we had our time together. I'm forever grateful for that time. 

I was so out of it after the c-section that when they handed me Paige to nurse, they asked if I had taken a class or knew what I was doing. (what first time mom ever knows what she is doing?) Anyways, I completely forgot I had taken a nursing class and told the nurse I didn't know what to do. I got a little help while I was in the hospital, but they seemed to be more concerned that I WAS nursing, and not so much if it was going well or not. 

Paige started out really well. I had read how important it was to get full feedings, so I was really excited when she nursed both sides for several minutes. Paige was born on Tuesday night and we went home on Friday morning. 

When my milk came in on Friday night, Paige wasn't able to nurse with the new milk, so I called my sister crying because I didn't know what to do. Luckily she came to the rescue! She told me to pump a little bit out and then try feeding. Worked like a charm!

Without being too TMI, I will just say low supply was never my issue, thank the Lord! I know friends who have really struggled through nursing because of low supply so I was sincerely thankful that my supply was more than adequate. Of course, that didn't stop me from worrying about it for the first few months. Again, I blame the books. Everytime something seemed wrong with Paige, I questioned my supply. 

So Paige is a few days old, and nursing is NOT going well. She's eating and sleeping well, but I am in extreme pain everytime she latched. I would gasp in pain everytime. A friend of mine gave me some advice when I was pregnant. She said not to wait to see a lactation consultant, sooner is always better. So I called the hospital and took my 5 day old daughter in for a consultation. We met with a WONDERFUL lady, who watched me nurse and immediately was able to tell me that Paige wasn't latching properly. She showed me what to do, answered all my questions and I left a whole new woman! 

After getting the latch fixed, the pain was completely gone! But I still felt so inexperienced and unsure with it all. So I went back to the LC at the hospital to ask more questions. Sidenote-at Paige's two week check up she was gaining weight right on schedule. 

So I met with the LC again, and asked her all my questions. My big question, was not really knowing when Paige was done eating. Sometimes she would eat for 10 minutes on one side and not at all on the other. After watching me nurse, the LC told me that Paige was full after one side, and that was okay. She also helped me become more comfortable with the different holds. Again, I was so thankful I went and even more that the hospital offered the service for free.

The first few weeks Paige went through a weird phase of latching and unlatching over and over when she would nurse, and fuss a lot. I wasn't sure if it was reflux, a dairy sensitivity, or if something else was going on. At her 4 week check up I asked my pediatrician some questions, and he referred me to a different LC. I loved the one at the hospital, but she was only able to give me a short amount of time. We were about to move back to East Asia, and I wanted to sit down with someone for a few hours while they watched me nurse, to make sure things really were okay.

Daniel and I met with the LC just a few nights before we were flying back to EA. The lady was really nice. However, she was a little on the strange side and freaked us out a bit. After watching me nurse Paige, she told me Paige wasn't sucking correctly and she wasn't taking in any milk. I was pretty surprised because she seemed to eat and sleep on a pretty good schedule and was gaining weight really well. She weighed Paige before and after I nursed, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear that she had actually taken in a few ounces, despite the lady telling me she was convinced Paige wasn't eating.

But then she went into all the weird stuff that I had never heard and told me that within a few months, Paige wouldn't be able to nurse anymore. She said because my supply was so great Paige wasn't really having to do anything right now and when my hormones dropped in a few months, I wouldn't be able to nurse. HI. Umm, thanks for scaring a new mom.

Anyways, she suggested a couple different kinds of therapy for Paige and a minor surgery. When Daniel and I left Daniel said "That lady either knows exactly what she is talking about, or she's crazy." We were leaning towards crazy.

We were pretty upset and stressed because we were leaving in a few days and didn't really have time for therapy sessions and surgery. We prayed about it and the next day I called my pediatrician to discuss what we had been told. He told me the surgery was very controversial and he advised against it. (i know that many babies need surgeries to help them nurse, my point is that none of this made sense with how well Paige was doing.)

We decided to not move forward with therapy or surgery, and felt great with that decision. We took Paige to East Asia at 6 weeks old. While dealing with jetlag, the 6 week growth spurt hit and it about did me in. I was still struggling with doubt about my milk supply and seriously thought about giving up. Looking back, I'm so glad I stuck with it. But at the time, whew!!! I wasn't prepared for the extra feedings and demand increase!

Thankfully we pulled through and made it through that growth spurt. The 6 week growth spurt is really the only one I noticed. I'm sure she went through other ones, but nothing like that first one. It was a doozy!

From day 1 of moving back to EA, I had to nurse in public. Often. It made me a nervous wreck at first. I nursed in public frequently and I will say the more I did it the more comfortable I got. But it wasn't until after Paige was 3 months old, that I really felt comfortable with all areas of nursing and felt like I had a clue. 

That would be my advice to a new mom struggling with nursing-give it 3 months. The first 3 months are hard. It's difficult. BUT, I think the 3 month mark is huge and it gets so much easier after that. 

I know this is a weird place to leave off.....but I'll continue in my next post about my love for nursing, weaning, and everything in between. 

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