Cuteness & Pumping

My last post was a little depressing, so I wanted to add a little cuteness!

Audrey loves the little bear she got from her cousins in Minnesota:

photo(2)

Audrey’s “Uncle” Dan picked this up at a sale in his office, I hope she lives up to the name!:

photo(3)

She might be a couch potato… Audrey loves TV! Here she is watching Ancient Aliens (in the second image, she’s on her potty!):

photo(4)

Luke snapped this photo of her and I sleeping in the morning:

photo(5)

In an adorable Dr. Seuss outfit we got at her shower:

photo(7)

Audrey is such a happy baby that she smiles in her sleep:

photo(8)

ON PUMPING

I’ve written on breastfeeding and pumping, but I have learned more since. I started work a couple weeks ago and have been pumping in the wonderful lactation room at my office. I soon realized that I would need to be pumping more than Audrey could eat… Since she doesn’t actually suck on the bottle, her care providers have to squeeze the milk into her mouth and hope she drinks it. She never finishes a bottle, only drinking half an ounce or one ounce max. I’ve started bagging my milk in 1-1.5oz portions so there is less waste, but it’s much better if there is too much milk than not enough!

I was concerned when I first started back at work, because it seemed like I barely had anything, and only pumped a couple ounces total during the day. I read up on how to increase supply while pumping, and it actually ended up being an easy fix! The more you pump, the more your body produces.

So here’s my basic schedule for the day:

8am – Wake up Audrey and nurse if she is hungry
8:45 – Drop Audrey off at daycare and nurse
9:15 – Once I settle in at work, pump
10:30 – Pump
12:30 – Visit Audrey at daycare and nurse
1:30 – Back at work, pump remaining milk
3:30 – Pump
5:30 – Pick Audrey up and nurse

Supposedly you make more milk in the morning, so it can really boost your supply to pump regularly (even if you just nursed), and even dry pumping can get the milk factory going. I use the Ameda Purely Yours breast pump and it’s great- it literally takes me less than 5 minutes to completely empty myself out. And with this strategy, I have majorly increased my supply!

photo(1)

Adventures in Breastfeeding

After I had been home for about a week after giving birth to my baby girl, I commented to my mom who was staying with us to help out for a couple weeks, “Everything that I read made breastfeeding sound like it’s so difficult!!” She responded that when things are going well, what’s there to say? I just want to put my experience so far out there – not to brag, but to show that while there may be problems or difficulties, breastfeeding is very simple and natural. You might have to push through some pain or overcome certain obstacles, but breasts were made to nourish babies!

After a very difficult birth, baby Audrey was placed on my chest covered in blood and goo, and she immediately shit meconium all over me. I was flat on my back with my feet up in stirrups while the doctor stitched me up so I couldn’t even really see the baby on my chest, but Luke assured me that she was beautiful, awake, and aware! After a short rest, my midwife Judy moved the little baby on to my breast and helped her latch for the very first time! My memory is pretty fuzzy after all the intensity of childbirth so fast-forward to my recovery room.

We stayed in the recovery room at Morristown Memorial (lucky #39!) for two days, and Audrey spent much of her time with me in bed. We slept together, and she nursed heartily on colostrum for about a half hour at a time, every couple hours. Nurses came in and made sure everything was going well, and one told me that what I was doing was a perfect example of “laid-back breastfeeding.” Nursing this way uses gravity in your favor to minimize strain and keep both mother and baby comfortable. I think I started nursing this way just because I could barely move in the bed! Later a lactation consultant came by to give me her wisdom. Audrey had no trouble latching and eating, but I did learn that with the position she was in, she was actually pulling on my nipple causing some discomfort. I just moved her up a bit and the problem was solved!

There was also the problem of nipple pain. When Audrey latched, she latched HARD…  The nurses called her “Barracuda Baby!” My nipples were also dry and had little scabs, so I was rubbing them with lanolin and breast milk between feedings. They hurt and stuck to my clothes for at least the first week, and whenever Audrey latched I had to take deep calming breaths for a good ten seconds before the initial pain eased up.

My milk came in after a couple days, around the time that we came home from the hospital. When we got back I remembered the LilyPadz I had purchased, which are silicone nursing pads. Unlike a bra or cloth nursing pads, they didn’t stick to my nipples and actually held moisture in! I really recommend these for the early days when your nipples are getting in shape!

When my milk came in, Audrey started nursing for much shorter periods of time but more often, presumably because of the size of her tiny tummy. I guess she got plenty to eat though, because she is gaining a good amount of weight and inches! She is now pretty efficient at eating and gets a lot from her short feeding sessions. The funny thing is she could practically feed without even sucking once the milk drops…

If I hear her milk cry, or sometimes even out of the blue, my boobs will just start tingling and if I don’t have nursing pads in, I know I’m getting wet and soon enough have milk running down my shirt. It just comes out! Then when I am nursing on one side, milk also shoots out the other boob. And if Audrey detaches for a minute, milk will literally spray her all over the face! And if she sleeps for a long time and I don’t pump, my breasts get really full and hard. At night I keep a washcloth by the bed to both catch the milk leaking from my “extra” boob, and to wipe up all the overflow from Audrey’s side that ends up dripping all over me and the bed!

Now that I am mostly recovered from the birth, we’ve been out of the house and I have successfully nursed Audrey in public! I have this Boppy nursing cover that I absolutely love – it’s big enough to cover up everything, and it has a little wire around the neck line that props it out a little bit so you can glance down and check on your baby, or easily see while you adjust her. I am so lucky that everyone in my life has been so supportive of breastfeeding… I’ve heard of people who got judged for it, but so far, I have not received any judgment. If anything, there has been more curiosity and family/friends watching her nurse (which can be a little awkward when she breaks her latch, but whatever haha…) and people ignoring it all together which is fine with me!

It just took a couple weeks for breastfeeding to become painless and the beautiful bonding experience you see in photos. When Audrey latches to my breast, I feel momentarily overcome by emotions and hormones, and I just want to squeeze her and love her and protect her. It is really incredible! In the last couple weeks she has really started making eye contact, so on top of all that, as she is suckling on me she will be looking at my face and in my eye, and I really feel like my little baby is telling me that she loves me. It is such an amazing feeling!!!

There are so many tangents I could take from here but I’ll leave them for another post, including a Link Love dedicated to breastfeeding articles!

Finally an update!

I realize that I have been slacking here, but what can I say? I have a baby who likes to be held constantly, and I have no patience to type with one hand! 😉 For once I have an evening where she is asleep right now with Luke, and I am not quite ready to go to bed, so I can give an update! I want to go over a bunch of things quickly, and hopefully later I can do some more in-depth posts.

MY RECOVERY

This has actually been a long process for me. I know I didn’t get a c-section or anything, but I feel like I might as well have! Because of the physical trauma from the difficult birth, I had trouble walking at all for at least a week and couldn’t sit normally for a couple weeks. There was all the initial bleeding and healing that I was expecting, but there was also throbbing and itching that has gone on and on!! I finally felt good enough to go on a walk for the first time a few days ago and have been trying to do some physical activity every day. I think the exercise is helping, my only problem now is some itching. I don’t know the reason for that, but I have an appointment with Judy this week and with the OB-GYN who attended the birth in a few weeks so hopefully I will be 100% and maybe have answers on these residual symptoms soon!

BABY’S GROWTH

I can’t believe how much Audrey has grown… she will be 6 weeks old on Wednesday and she is now topping 10 pounds. She is getting too long for her newborn clothes, but I figure it’s a good workout for her legs when she pushes against the fabric, right? I am packing away the newborn clothes slowly and have two 0-3 month outfits (what’s the difference?) someone gave us from Gymboree that fit her perfectly, and soon enough she’ll be in her 3-month clothes! At her one-month check-up she was 21.5 inches (75th percentile) and up to the 50th percentile for weight. All that breast milk is doing her good!

BREASTFEEDING

Speaking of breast milk, breastfeeding has been amazing. I was fully prepared for it to take some learning and be tough at first… I read lots of articles about the benefits and challenges so I would be fully prepared. I didn’t realize how natural and simple it could actually be. She was very alert when she was born, and after a short recovery period, my midwife Judy helped her latch on (I was still flat on my back getting stitched up). From then on, it was pretty non-stop!

Audrey was very clear about when she was hungry, and I just had to place her on my breast and she would start suckling. At first she would nurse on the colostrum for about a half hour at a time every couple hours. My milk came in after 2 days- right about the time we came home from the hospital. She started nursing for much shorter periods – five to ten minutes at a time – but much more regularly. She would go on eating binges when she was awake, nursing for five minutes at a time every 15 minutes to a half hour. I am thinking this was due to the size of her belly, that she just couldn’t hold that much!Now I think she has gotten quite efficient with her nursing. She will eat for 5-10 minutes and it will last her a lot longer. She nurses more often when she is awake, every hour or so (she is awake for longer periods now) and sleeps for 2-3 hours at a time.

The thing that surprised me the most was the hormone rush that came with breastfeeding. When she latches on, I actually feel the oxytocin pulsing through my veins. I feel so happy and like I want to cry all at the same time… so full of love and joy. I know that some women can’t breastfeed and some women just don’t want to, but the thought has crossed my mind that I actually feel bad for these women that they never get to feel the emotions and bonding that come with it.

Later I intend to post about it all in a little more detail- about nursing in public, dealing with the initial pain, etc.

MY BODY

I was really surprised at my body… I’ve learned that it’s true- the days after birth, a woman’s body changes the fastest that it ever will. With birth you immediately shed a bunch of pounds from the front in the form of an infant and a whole bunch of fluids. My belly was palpated several times to feel that my uterus was firming up and retreating to its original size and shape. I had a lot of fluids coming out of me for a few days, and I had to keep pads in for a few weeks to deal with the residual bleeding. I thought it was interesting that my belly went back to flat. I barely gained any fat in my abdomen, so it actually looked pretty good, but the funny thing was that my abs were (are) completely destroyed. I always had a small layer of fat on my belly, but it was super firm underneath. Now I attempt to flex and it’s all just mush! One day I’ll be firm again, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be starting from scratch creating these muscles again.

BABY POTTY TRAINING

I had originally intended to begin EC (Elimination Communication, or infant potty training) much sooner, but it took me much longer to sit on my butt, straddle the toilet seat, or really just move than I had anticipated. We started a couple weeks ago when she was a month old, switching from disposable diapers to cloth and a BabyBjorn potty! It is actually going shockingly well. Audrey hates going potty in her pants, and will hold her poo until she feels the cold seat of the toilet against her behind! She hasn’t gained bladder control yet, but she goes pee in the potty regularly as well. I’ll definitely do more in-depth posts on this!

Well, Audrey woke up and I am back to one-handed typing so it’s time to call it a night!

Link Love

“Before you were conceived, I wanted you.

Before you were born, I loved you.

Before you were an hour old, I would die for you.

This is the miracle of life.”

—Maureen Hawkins