Saturday, September 19, 2015

Breast vs. Bottle Battle...a.k.a. A Really Long Post That Probably Gets A Little Too Personal

Breastfeeding was so important to me. It wasn't even a question, of course I was planning to breastfeed my baby. How could you not want to?! I took a class, read Pinterest posts with tips and stories, etc. etc.

It was hard at first, we both cried, but within a few days, we got it figured out. Then she started to grow and grow! She was eating so often and never seemed to be satisfied. Then we both got Thrush (a yeast infection that affects baby's mouth and mommy's breasts). She seemed to fuss every time she nursed and I think her mouth was sore. I started giving her a bottle with pumped breastmilk, and that seemed to be more comfortable for both of us while we dealt with the Thrush, but then she lost interest in breastfeeding. The milk didn't flow as quickly as it did from the bottle and she lost her patience fast. I tried and tried for a while, but then I started almost exclusively pumping. Then my supply started to seriously diminish. I'm not sure if it was from my Thrush, or the exclusive pumping, or what, but I could barely get 2 ounces per side during each pumping session. I had never really overproduced, so I didn't have any freezer storage to fall back on. I started supplementing with formula. I cried and cried when I made that first bottle for her, but she ate it with gusto and I could tell that although it was foreign to her little tummy and made her gassy at first, she was full and satisfied for the first time in a long time.

Now, a few months later, I'm still struggling with it all. My supply has steadily decreased, JoJo will only nurse when she's calm and not too hungry. If she's really got an appetite, she'll just cry when trying to nurse because she's not getting enough food fast enough. I have truly and honestly tried absolutely everything to increase my supply. I drink the recommended amount of water every day, I get enough sleep, I try and manage my stress and stay calm and happy, I've taken 3 capsules of Fenugreek 3 times a day for months, I've used essential oils, I've tried different breast pumps, I pump ever 2-3 hours including sometimes in the middle of the night, I drink lactation tea, I eat oatmeal every day, I've tried massage, I've tried more frequent nursing, I've tried more frequent pumping, I've tried praying, I've tried sobbing, I've tried begging, and nothing is working. As we sit, I only get 0.5-1 oz. per side, per session. Josie drinks about 5.5 oz. per feeding, every 3 hours. She gets whatever breastmilk I produce + formula, mixed together in a bottle. JoJo seems to be handling Similac total comfort formula pretty well, although we had to try several types to figure out which one seemed the best for her tummy. I am trying so hard not to be upset that she is pretty much a formula baby at this point, but I really am upset. THIS IS NOT WHAT WAS SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN! I know that I've done everything I can to provide her with breastmilk, and I'm proud of every half ounce I have been able to give her, and I will continue to do that for as long as I can, hoping and praying that she's receiving some of the important benefits.

Providing food for my baby takes twice as long as it does other mothers, whether they formula feed or breastfeed. I have to pump, then prepare a bottle, then wash everything, etc. It really is tough.I have learned a lot, and I have some ideas to try for our next baby that I hope will help me have a more successful breastfeeding experience next time, but I just don't know that there's any way of turning this ship around at this point.

Really, I just feel like I am a disappointment. Other mothers (and grandmothers and neighbors and friends and total strangers) seem to think that it's okay to ask if you're breastfeeding (which I kind of think is personal and not really their business to ask about...haha, obviously I feel like volunteering that information is different...if *I* bring it up, then we can discuss whether or not I'm breastfeeding...haha), and when you tell them that you're trying, but that you're giving formula, the disappointment and concern on their faces is really hurtful. I know the benefits of breastfeeding. I am not giving it some half-hearted effort. It's not that I don't want to breastfeed. I don't know what's wrong with me or why my body won't cooperate, but that's my situation.

I'm not worried about the aspect of bonding with my baby. When I feed her that bottle, I snuggle her close and look at her beautiful little face and talk to her just like I would when breastfeeding her. We are bonded, she loves me, she knows I love her. I am, howeverworried about her immune system and future susceptibility to diseases and conditions that breastfeeding seems to decrease the risk of, and that's why I continue to pump and give her the feeble amount of milk I'm able to produce.

It's just hard. I'm not a patient, carefree, easygoing person. I am an uptight, anxiety-ridden, perfectionistic person. Failure (or perceived failure) is so hard for me to handle. Criticism is also hard for me to handle. Those character flaws make this situation so frustrating and hard for me to let go of. This has been weighing on my mind so heavily for the last few months and I just needed to put it out there into the world. Maybe I'm hoping for support and for people to say, "don't listen to anybody, you're doing what's best for you and your baby," or, "I feed my baby formula, too. I know how you're feeling," or something. Maybe I'm hoping someone will tell me I am a bad mom so that I can get mad and defend and rationalize my choices, I don't know. But there it is.

3 Month Update!

Okay, she's 3 1/2 months old. I stink at this monthly updating business.

Here's the latest about our little princess:

  • Um, she has 2 TEETH! We noticed them on 9/16 - exactly 3 1/2 months old. She has been drooling and chewing on everything for several weeks now, so we thought it might be coming, but it seemed like all of a sudden, I looked and saw 2 sparkly white, sharp little chompers in there! 
  • She's enormous! She's so chubby and adorable. She's wearing mostly 6-month size clothes, although some of them are too big in the shoulders and arms and the pants are usually too long. She needs the extra width in the belly and thighs though! Her best chunky feature is her cheeks. In fact, "Cheeks" is her nickname from her grandpa Jim.
  • Still eating about 5.5 oz at each feeding, usually every 2-3 hrs. apart.
  • Still sleeps through the night! Plus a good nap in the morning and a short one in the late afternoon.
  • Tries SO hard to sit up. Great at holding up her head and always looks like she's trying to do crunches because she's pulling her head up when she's sitting or laying down.
  • Smiles and laughs!!! Her laugh is absolutely the best sound I have ever heard! She's totally ticklish. She also loves to talk, blow raspberries, and make spit bubbles.
  • Still loves baths and walks, the jury is out on car rides at the moment. She either sleeps and is great, or fusses the whole time.
  • She got to visit me at school a few times this month and my students love her, of course! They're working on teaching her Spanish, Russian, and Finnish :) We didn't get a whole lot done in our Choir Council meeting because her cuteness was so distracting...
  • Does okay with tummy time. Sometimes she seems to like it and does good, sometimes she hates it and cries until I pick her back up.
  • Still a total mama's girl! In fact, I get so scared to take her to be babysat because I'm so worried she'll just scream the whole time. She does love her grandmas and grandpas, though! :)
  • Has zero interest in rolling over. I think she's too fat maybe, hehehe :)
  • Loves cuddling and taking naps with Daddy. He can snuggle up with her and get her to fall asleep at almost any time of day. It melts my heart!
  • Spits up kind of a lot. My mom told me it's payback since I was a big spitter too.
  • HATES having a wet or poopy diaper. 
  • Still hates to turn her head to the left. She can, she just doesn't like to. She's got a pretty good flat spot on the right side of her head. We try to get her to turn to the left as much as possible. She eats bottles turned to the left and we put her to sleep lying with her head to the left (and I prop her up a little bit with a rolled up blanket to keep her that way...haha). I really hope it evens out and she doesn't have to wear a helmet...I guess we'll see.
  • Loves music and hearing singing. She smiles and stares when I sing to her and she LOVES to play air drums with Daddy.
I could go on all night. She's the most beautiful, funny, sassy, chubby baby I've ever seen and we love her so much!!!

Josie - 2 Months

Oh, look! Another late blog post!

Josie is 2 months old! Here are some updates:

She had her 2 month Dr.'s appointment and we found out that she is just under 13 lbs. and just under 24 inches long! She has gained about 5 pounds and 4 inches since birth. She got her 2 mo. shots, which she handled pretty well. She screamed for a couple minutes, but then she was okay. It was definitely one of the saddest things I've seen to look at her face after those shots...she just looked so sad and mad and I know it hurt. I kind of had to laugh at her a little bit...that pouty face was just so cute (in the saddest way).

We had a little scare with her shots later in the day. Sean was changing her diaper and noticed that one of her legs where she got the shots was really swollen and hard and red. She would SCREAM if you even touched it. I called the Dr.'s office and they told us to come in to check to see if she was having an allergic reaction or something. We headed there, but by the time the Dr. got in and looked at her, the redness had gone away. The reaction wasn't because of an allergy, she had fallen asleep after we got home from her shots and since she wasn't moving around, the fluid from the injection hadn't had distributed throughout the tissue very well and it got swollen and sore. We just gave her some Tylenol through the night. She was totally fine the next day.

She eats ALL the time. She is drinking about 5 oz. every 2 hours, except at night. She gets about 50% formula and 50% breastmilk (because I can't seem to keep up with her demands!).

She sleeps through the night (has been doing this for almost a month now and we SERIOUSLY hope it lasts!). She goes to bed around 10 p.m. and gets up around 6 or 7 a.m. Occasionally she wakes up around 4, but will eat and go right back to sleep. Also, after she wakes up at 6 or 7, she'll usually go back to bed for another hour or so. I know how lucky we are that she does this...and I am so glad.

She doesn't nap much during the day, surely because she sleeps so much at night. She just 'cat naps' for 15-20 minutes at a time several times a day. It's very strange (and wonderful) if she naps for more than 30 min.

She loves: food, snuggles (my favorite thing on earth is to hold her up on my shoulder - she snuggles right up under my chin and just wants to stay there forever), MOM (I'm definitely her favorite, hehe), prune juice (Dr. recommended we give her some each day because she's not pooping as often as she should), baths, when mommy sings and talks to her, going for walks and car rides, being swaddled, her puppy swing, and her binkie.

She is SMILING! It's the most wonderful thing in the world. I just melt into a puddle of happiness every time she smiles at me. She is starting to coo and make noises. I love that she seems to startle herself sometimes when she makes a noise. It's so cute and funny.

Depending on who you ask, she looks JUST LIKE ME or JUST LIKE SEAN. Hahahaha. I think she's just a good combo of both of us and we'll have to see which features she really got from which parent as she grows. It is fun to compare our baby pictures to her though...there are definitely some similarities!

She has been able to spend lots of time with both of her grandmas and grandpas and lots of extended family this month. She has been on lots of adventures too! Walks by the river, lots of lunch and dinner dates with friends, being babysat by Gma and Gpa Morris, lots of car trips to visit family, meeting lots of friends and cousins, lots of shopping trips, celebrating the 4th of July at Willard Bay, the Peterson Family Reunion (Sean's Peterson side, not mine...we're both Petersons, but we're not kissin' cousins...I promise), a family pool party, and more that I'm sure I'm forgetting.

She was blessed on Sun. 8/2 by Sean in our ward in Ogden. SO MANY of our friends and family came! This girl is very, very loved. We were so grateful to have so many people come to share the day with us. She got to wear the same blessing dress that my sisters and I wore. It was made for my mom for her blessing out of the same fabric as my grandmother's wedding dress. She also got to wear my mom's bracelet - a pretty gold bangle that was given to her for her blessing by her great-grandmother. My mom also made Josie a sweet little beaded bracelet that I know she will treasure forever. I bought her some cute little booties and she wore a headband that she got as a baby shower gift from a friend of mine at work. She looked like a perfect little angel! I recorded her blessing on my phone so that I could type it up and put it in her baby book for her. It was a beautiful blessing and I know it will be a treasure for her when she gets older.

I had a cool experience with her blessing that I wanted to write about. When Sean and I started thinking seriously about trying to have a baby, I remember praying and saying, "I know this world is a scary place to raise children, but I also know that there are many of Thy children who are still waiting for their chance at this earthly life. I want to be a mother and I want to raise up a child that will change the world for the better and be a warrior for Thy kingdom." I didn't really talk much about those prayers to anyone, even Sean, but in her blessing, she was told that she will be a light in the darkness and an example that people around her will look to. I just felt a strong witness that Josie is a very tough, special girl. She has a purpose and a work to do in this life - a work that God has chosen her for. It was a neat thing to hear, and even from what little of her spirit and personality we have come to know these past 2 months, I know it is true.

She is a beautiful, healthy, strong-willed girl and I am so proud of her. I love her with all my heart and am trying to cling to this newborn stage for as long as I can. I'm trying to soak up every snuggle and spend as much time just holding her and looking at her as I can before she changes even more!

Josie Jo's 1 Month Update

Well...I forgot to post this when I actually wrote here it is, just a couple months late!

Josie Jo is one month old! Well...actually she's almost 6 weeks old...but who has time for blogging when you don't even have time to take a shower? Anyway, here is some info. about our little monkey!

FOOD! - She is ALWAYS eating. I am not producing near enough for her, so she gets both breastmilk and formula (hopefully this is just temporary...we both have thrush, and it's affecting my supply and her ability to nurse). The formula seems to make her gassy, even though I give her gas drops every time she eats it. It does seem to fill her up better than breastmilk, so she's sleeping better, which is nice.

Snuggles - She just loves to cuddle. She loves being wrapped up in her swaddlers and to be held close. I'm trying to take advantage or every baby snuggle I can get!

The Swing(s) - We have a Mamaroo and a Fisher Price Snugapuppy swing (why do we have 2 swings? Because Dad couldn't resist the Mamaroo technology...that's why *eyeroll*), and she likes them both. They're also lifesavers for Mommy and Daddy...haha.

Going Out! - We joke all the time that she's easier to handle at the store than she is at home! She loves loves loves going for walks in the stroller. It's probably her absolute favorite thing. She also does pretty well on car rides and loves to look around and figure things out when we take her out to the store or wherever.

Grandmas and Grandpas - We've been able to spend lots of time with both of Josie's grandparents and she just loves them. I love to see her snuggle with them!

Movement - Whenever she's being held, Josie loves to be bounced, rocked, swayed, patted/burped, etc. In her bassinet, she loves for the vibration setting to be turned on.

Baths - She was not a fan at first, but now Josie loves being in the bathtub.

Getting out of the bathtub, having her diaper or clothes changed, taking her Vitamin D supplement (she shudders every time), and wearing her mittens (she has been scratching her face SO badly, but I'm too scared to do her mittens it is)

Here's a list of things I've learned in Josie's first month:

  • Huggies. Don't even bother with anything else. The Up & Up brand from Target are okay too, if you must.
  • If you put baby down on a surface without a burp cloth underneath her, she WILL spit up on it. 
  • It will take you twice as long as you think it will to get out of the house.
  • You CAN eat dinner in 30 seconds. It will already be cold by the time you have that 30 seconds to spare, though.
  • 4 hours of sleep in a row can feel like a luxury. WHAT?!
  • Breastfeeding is hard.
  • Resolve brand stain sticks...they will save the lives of all the cute outfits you bought (both hers and yours).
  • Hormones, anxiety, crying, endless questions that keep you up in the middle of the night, and a general lack of well-being are the new normal.
  • Boobs are no longer a private part. Nearly everyone who has spent any time at my house since she was born has now seen mine....but I don't even care.
  • I both love and hate Sean more than I thought possible. He's the best daddy and husband in the world, and Josie and I are so lucky...but at 3 a.m. when I've been up for 2 hours and he's snoring away next to me, I tend to forget that...
  • Being a mommy is wonderful. It's pretty amazing to be someone's favorite person in the whole world.

My Thoughts On... (AKA What I've Learned So Far)

So, I've been a mom for 3 whole weeks, which makes me basically an expert now ;) hahaha. Here's what I've learned so far...

My Thoughts On:

Labor & Delivery
Everyone's experiences will be different - from person to person and child to child, but, in my experience, it's NOT AS BAD AS THEY MAKE YOU THINK IT IS! My labor and delivery was so smooth. Yes, contractions are painful, but by no means were mine excruciating, and I was at more than 8 cm and 100% effaced before I got an epidural. BTW, my epidural was not scary at all. It didn't hurt, it didn't take long, and it was definitely a wonderful thing to have. Not being in any pain helped me to have a calm, peaceful, happy birth experience and I loved it.

It's hard. It really is. The first few days really were the worst. It's hard because it's frustrating if it doesn't work out easily from the beginning, it's hard because it's painful sometimes, it's hard because it feels like all you ever do is sit on the couch nursing your baby, it's hard because you want your baby to get plenty to eat and get all roly-poly like the Michelin man and you're just not sure if you're giving her enough. Also, breastmilk....everywhere. Just everywhere.

Cute Things
Why do we put cute changing pad covers over the waterproof changing pad? That's dumb. It will just inevitably get poop, pee, and spit up all over it, and you will change it every single day at least once. Also, it's unfortunate that babies can't just be nekked all the time, because their poop, pee, and spit up will also get all over their adorable clothes and stain them beyond redemption.

**Update: So, now I've been a mom for 3 whole MONTHS! So, I'm for sure an expert now if I wasn't before. Ha ha ;) Here's a few more things I would add to this list at this point:

Diaper Bags
I bought a cute, sort of expensive diaper bag. Then I found out it was really too small to fit all of the stuff I needed (*cough* firsttimemom *cough*). So, I ditched it and bought an equally cute, waaaaay cheaper, and much more useful diaper bag from WalMart. WalMart ftw.

Favorite Products
Here's just a gigantic list: muslin swaddle blankets, Avent natural bottles & binkies, Burt's Bees baby wash (best smell everrrr), Boudreaux's Butt Paste & diaper rash preventer spray, Huggies little snugglers (seriously THE BEST), Similac total comfort formula, Angel Care baby monitor, vinegar (I know, you didn't think that was a baby product...but it is. I use it in laundry, washing bottles, cleaning, etc. It's my favorite thing ever), binkie clips, Grow With Me socks.

The first few weeks of JoJo's life were so hard. Now I understand that what everyone tries to tell you really is true: you really do know what your baby needs better than anyone else. Your mother's intuition IS enough, you are doing a wonderful job, and everything WILL be okay. And the stress does get easier to manage. It doesn't go away, you just adjust and learn to be happy through it all and not take life too seriously.

In my experience, most of the "judgy-judgers" aren't actually trying to bring you down. They usually have good intentions when they make little comments or give you unsolicited advice. Listen to them, then decide for yourself whether or not it's worth taking to heart. If you don't feel like it is, or if you're somehow bothered by it, learn to brush it off and say to yourself, "Well, I'm the best mom ever, so I'll just do things my way, thanks." ;)