Monday, June 27, 2011

Breastfeeding the First Time Around: "Training Wheels" and Returning to Work!

Our first night at home was relatively uneventful. Of course everyone was exhausted, but I was glad to finally be home! My mother in law met us at the apartment ready to help out, and served us dinner and helped clean up. She helped with the baby as much as she could too. I believe at this point, I basically was just giving P the samples of formula from the hospital. I had the manual pump that was a gift from the hospital, but that was so much work just to express just a little teeny tiny bit of milk!

The next day, I called the lactation consultant who had given the free breastfeeding class that I attended a few weeks prior. She agreed to meet with me that day, and I went into her office feeling hopeful, but ended up in tears at some point. I never would have imagined that breastfeeding could have been so frustrating! She even had real trouble getting him to latch, then finally, he latched, and nursed for several minutes! He quickly fell asleep, though, and we were back at square one.

While she was helping me get situated with him, she began to not seem very hopeful about our breastfeeding relationship. I heard her say in amazement, "he does not associate you with food at all!" It was discouraging to hear her say that, but I was just not interested in giving up. I ended up renting a pump from the boutique where her office was. She advised me to just keep pumping every couple of hours, and to let her know when I was up to two ounces every two hours. She wanted me to focus on building up my supply, rather than focusing on getting him to latch while still struggling with not enough milk.

So that's what I did. Every two hours, I would "set up shop" and start pumping. Sometimes people would visit, and I would have to excuse myself to go take care of business and make the baby's next meal. He quickly caught up with my production, immediately drinking what I would produce. I had a can of sample formula that I had received by mail sitting in my kitchen, so once the hospital samples ran out, we opened the can. As my supply was growing, I pretty much only used it if I didn't have a chance to pump or if we went out somewhere.

Within a week or so, I met my goal of two ounces every two hours. I called Mary, the lactation consultant, and she advised me to try to reintroduce him to the breast. I had been given a nipple shield, so she advised me to use that since he was used to bottle feeding at this point. I tried offering him the breast when it was time for a feeding, and sometimes he would latch on and sometimes he wouldn't. He would move his head back and forth and get frustrated really easily at times, and then we'd both be crying! Then I would try giving him part of a bottle, then switching back to offering the breast after he had a little bit to eat. That seemed to work pretty well.

During that time of trying to teach him to breastfeed, I had a couple of really hopeless-feeling moments. I remember being in the car with him after another meeting with the lactation consultant thinking "if I don't breastfeed him, it won't be the end of the world or anything". I just decided to take it one step at a time. I could not focus on the big picture, just on what was right in front of my face at that time. I was desperate to get him used to nursing, especially since I would be going back to work shortly.

Thankfully, by the time I returned to work at three weeks postpartum, he was exclusively nursing with the help of a nipple shield. It's kind of like breastfeeding "training wheels". It was so liberating to be free of the pump! As Mary said to me, "I'll bet you're tired of feeding him twice, huh?" (Pumping, and then feeding him the expressed milk). Was I ever!

Thankfully, my employers were gracious enough to let me bring my son to the office with me. I had worked out a new schedule, going from full time, to part time. I worked five hours a day, four days a week. I had a personal office, but it actually had a big giant window, so it wasn't very private! My employers installed mini blinds so that I could have some privacy during feeding times. They're kind of my heroes! I'm not sure if I would've done so well without their support. I was still using the nipple shield when I returned to work, so there was quite a bit of fumbling around when it was time for a feed. To say it was difficult to be discreet would be an understatement!

Finally, within a couple of weeks, he was able to advance to nursing directly without the shield. This really made life so much easier. My supply was plenteous, and it was pretty much smooth sailing. No more washing of pump parts, bottles or nipple shields!

That first month or so was rough, but I'm so glad we persisted.

What challenges did you overcome in the first several weeks?

Friday, June 24, 2011

One Year, One Hundred Posts!

How quaint that my one-year blogiversary would coincide with my 100th post! I'm super excited to say that I've been blogging for one year already! (Actually, one year and one day by the time you read this!)

I'm so honored that so many people would want to read what I have to say. I mean that. When you start a blog, you really have no way to know who will pay attention, let alone who will return. So, thank you to all of you faithful readers! I am truly thankful for the encouragement to keep going in the form of new followers and sweet comments. Many blogs don't last a whole year, so I really am grateful to all of you!

It seemed like that first big hurdle was getting ONE follower. I'm forever grateful to that first brave soul (hi, Leslie!). I'm just so thankful that I've found the "blogosphere" to be a friendly place filled with many incredible, encouraging women. And y'all are talented, too!

Anyway, I'm not doing a giveaway or listing 100 things about myself (sorry, I'm just unprepared for that!) or anything really super-duper special other than just sharing my heart.

My goal for the next year is to grow more as a writer, reach out to more women...maybe even learn to take good pictures! :P I know I haven't been a terribly ambitious blogger, but hopefully I'll become a little more driven for this coming year in blogging. Not in an obnoxious way, though! I just want to be more available for God to communicate through my blog to touch others. And of course continue to provide helpful information, and encouragement (hopefully I was succeeding at doing this in the first place! Lol!)

So, a big HOORAY for one year and 100 posts! Thanks again for continuing to read and grow along with me!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Breastfeeding the First Time Around: Hospital Issues

I have decided to publish my experience in multiple posts. After I began typing, I just realized I had much more to share than would fit into one appropriately-sized post! I hope my experience will help others that may be dealing with similar situations, and be an encouragement to not give up on their goals!


After giving birth to my precious boy, things got off to a rocky start for us. I began to lose a lot of blood, and I was ordered to strict bed rest for the entire day after he was born. That meant a catheter (yuck!) and not being able to get up and shower or anything (double yuck). Of course this included not being able to care for my baby. I was able to hold him and begin feedings, but that was about it. I also was given a blood transfusion, so I had an IV, which doesn't make it any easier to correctly position a baby for nursing.
My little guy a couple days new! So sleepy!
His first attempt at feeding didn't go so well. Because of the hemorrhaging, I didn't get to attempt the first feed in the one hour window like I wanted to. By the time the hospital staff got around to letting me nurse him, he was pretty much too tired for anything. I remember nurses coming in periodically to help me try again, and not being very successful. I think he might have latched once and nursed very briefly. (I gave birth on a Friday night, and the lactation consultant wasn't scheduled to be back on duty until Monday).

After my day in bed, the pediatrician came by. He tested P's bilirubin levels and they found he was jaundiced (probably from not feeding enough- I realized this in hindsight- I didn't allow any bottles of formula at the start because I was determined to breastfeed, and didn't want anything to thwart my efforts). He was taken to the nursery for pretty much the entire day on Sunday to be placed under the special lamp to help his body break down the bilirubin.

I had brought my nursing pillow (My Brest Friend- I highly recommend this pillow!) with me to the hospital, and so every couple of hours, I would make the trek to the nursery (now that I could finally stand without the risk of passing out). It may have just been my perception at the time, but I really felt like the nurses looked at me like I was from another planet- with my funny green pillow under my arm ready to nurse the snoozing baby. I couldn't just attempt a feeding when I wanted to, I was instructed that he needed an uninterrupted 2-3 hours under the lamp at a time. That made things pretty difficult. I fought with the nurses there about offering him formula, and giving him a pacifier. While he didn't get a bottle without my consent, they did give him a pacifier on a couple of occasions- which in my immediate postpartum upheaval of emotions, made me really angry.

I tried so many times to get him to latch- with not very much success. He just wasn't very interested. He was very sleepy and difficult to rouse. And of course, without a lactation consultant, I wasn't getting the best guidance. The nurses tried to be helpful, but each one had a different technique and a different opinion. My milk hadn't yet come in, as it was delayed by the postpartum hemorrhaging. 

I felt like I didn't have any other options, and the hospital staff sure made it sound that way. He was given formula, and that helped him to get the bilirubin out of his system, thankfully!

Finally, on Monday, the lactation consultant arrived. P was out of the nursery, and she helped me to finally get him to latch on long enough for a feeding. It was an amazing moment, and the difference between a proper latch and the improper latch that I was getting on my own was an amazing feeling.

I think I called her in a couple more times before we were discharged from the hospital for help and counseling. I still had challenges getting him to latch on correctly. We still were giving formula, but it was really a decision I was not entirely comfortable with. I had begun pumping every couple of hours as well, and insisted that P be given the four and a half drops of milk I was able to express per session.

We left the hospital late Monday afternoon, with formula samples in tow and much uncertainty about my ability to breastfeed this little guy. 

What was your experience like in the hospital? Did you feel supported by the staff in meeting your goals?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Around These Parts

Well, I've been kind of on the weekly posting schedule, I guess! Which I suppose isn't bad, as long as I'm consistent. (I'm trying, I really am!)

There's a couple exciting things coming up "around these parts" that I wanted to share with you all. First, my one year blogaversary is coming up next week. I can't believe I've been blogging for a year already! I'm not quite sure just yet how I will celebrate this milestone, but I'm definitely open to suggestions! (Do you have any?)

The second thing is that I will (in the very near future) be a regular writer on Devotions for Moms! In case you aren't familiar, it is a sister site of Christian Stay at Home Moms. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to share more of what God has been teaching me as a mom. I will let you know when I am featured there so you can follow me over there, too! (In the mean time, check out the great posts over there for some godly encouragement!)

Right now, I'm in the process of writing about my first breastfeeding experience. (Kind of a follow up to my son's birth story). I'm considering posting it in parts, because as usual, I have a lot to say! ;-) Though, I personally usually don't mind reading longer posts if it's something I'm interested in, so we'll see. What is your take on longer posts? Would you rather read one long one, or several shorter ones?

Anyway, what's going on with you? I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Learning to Receive

Before I was married, I read several books on marriage. I learned about communication, covenant, and certain things that were reserved for married folk only (ahem). I learned about Five Love Languages, and His Needs, Her Needs. And I keep on reading. I want to continually grow as a wife, and be the woman that my husband (and God) needs me to be.

Just recently, I came to the realization (with the help of this book) that I'm not doing such a great job receiving from my husband. There have been times when I have FOUGHT to get him to GIVE to my needs, speak my love language and all that other fun stuff that I learned so much about. It's as if I'm telling him, "you want the key to my heart? Here it is, in five easy steps." All the while, I'm missing out on the blessings that are coming from him.

As a wife, I can't very well receive anything from my husband if I'm telling him in great detail what to give me! Men do not operate that way. It's like going to a restaurant and ordering off the menu...well the waiter isn't bringing me a salad with ranch dressing instead of the bleu cheese just because he's so nice and understands that I don't like chunky things in my salad dressing. He (the waiter) did not acquire that information because he was so intimately acquainted with the desires of my heart. He brought that salad just the way I wanted it because I told him exactly how I wanted it. He was just doing his job.

But that kind of approach doesn't work with my husband. He doesn't want me to tell him what to do! (Wow, there's a big shocker, right?) But he wants to please me, I know this much. (The Word even confirms it: "But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife." 1 Corinthians 7:33) My husband wants to give to me from his heart. Just like when we were courting! Somehow, in the midst of marriage, parenting, and other busy-ness, I began to fail to see this. I wanted to be in control. I wanted my husband to adhere to my top five needs and speak my love language all the time, or else I concluded that he didn't really love me. I thought that something in him had changed!

Are we as wives, looking at the heart of our husbands the way God does? "...For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) How many times have we missed our husband's loving intentions because what he gave us wasn't exactly what we ordered? I really believe now that I could have avoided so much struggle in my marriage if I had "gotten" this truth early on.

It's time for me to stop trying to get my husband to "do everything right" and start receiving the expression of his love that God puts on his heart.

Do you struggle in this area too? It may be time to stop and take note of the things your husband does to please you.

What actions has he taken lately to benefit you in some way? (Big or small). 

Linking up with Come Have a Peace for Marriage Mondays 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Scriptures for Pregnancy and Birth

There's a lot of attention paid to preparing your body for birth. Or getting your birth plan just right or packing your suitcase (if giving birth in a hospital). But what about preparing your spirit? Pregnancy and birth is quite the spiritual event! I found it was helpful to be prepared with some Scriptures ahead of time. They strengthened me and gave me a better perspective on the big changes that were happening.

Before I gave birth to my daughter, I compiled this set of Scriptures on index cards to meditate on while I was in labor. Here are some of my favorites (All Scriptures are taken from the Amplified Bible):
Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him; Psalm 37:7a

Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, my Help and my God. Psalm 42:5

No unbelief or distrust made him waver (doubtingly question) concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God, fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He had promised. Romans 4:20-21

Because you have made the Lord your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place, there shall no evil befall you, nor any plague or calamity come near your tent. For He will give His angels [especial] charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways [of obedience and service]. Psalm 91:9-11

Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness--trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never]. Psalm 91:14

Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. Romans 5:3

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. 1 Corinthians 13:7

I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Psalm 16:8

For by You I can run through a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. Psalm 18:29

Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord. Psalm 27:14

The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever leans on, trusts in, and puts his confidence in the Lord is safe and set on high. Proverbs 29:25

He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is firmly fixed, trusting (leaning on and being confident) in the Lord. His heart is established and steady, he will not be afraid while he waits to see his desire established upon his adversaries. Psalm 112:7-8 (Just leave off that last little bit if you write this one down on an index card! :P)

The strong spirit of a man sustains him in bodily pain or trouble... Proverbs 18:14a

But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently. 1 Corinthians 10:13b

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the [consistently] righteous man [upright and in right standing with God] runs into it and is safe, high [above evil] and strong. Proverbs 18:10

But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired. Isaiah 40:31

Mark the blameless man and behold the upright, for there is a happy end for the man of peace. Psalm 37:37

A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body, but envy, jealousy, and wrath are like rottenness of the bones. Proverbs 14:30

Support from God-
But the salvation of the [consistently] righteous is of the Lord; He is their Refuge and secure Stronghold in the time of trouble. Psalm 37:39

Blessed be the Lord, Who bears our burdens and carries us day by day, even the God Who is our salvation! Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! Psalm 68:19

Those who trust in, lean on, and confidently hope in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides and stands fast forever. Psalm 125:1

The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, endure forever--forsake not the works of Your own hands. Psalm 138:8

God's Perfect Will-
The lot is cast into the lap, but the decision is wholly of the Lord [even the events that seem accidental are really ordered by Him]. Proverbs 16:33

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. Jeremiah 29:11

We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. Romans 8:28

[For it is He] Who rescued and saved us from such a perilous death, and He will still rescue and save us; in and on Him we have set our hope (our joyful and confident expectation) that He will again deliver us [from danger and destruction and draw us to Himself], 2 Corinthians 1:10

Concerns for Baby-
For He has strengthened and made hard the bars of your gates, and He has blessed your children within you. Psalm 147:13

But thanks be to God, Who in Christ always leads us in triumph [as trophies of Christ's victory] and through us spreads and makes evident the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere,

He makes the barren woman to be a homemaker and a joyful mother of [spiritual] children. Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!) Psalm 113:9

All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances]. Proverbs 15:15

Obviously, there are many more Scriptures that can apply to pregnancy and birth, but this should get you started!

What are your favorite Scriptures pertaining to pregnancy and birth? Add them in the comments!

Linking up here: