Can I Have a Do-Over Please?

So I was in Wal-Mart’s baby section the other day picking up a bed guardrail and I was approached by a couple looking for useful gifts for a new mom. Of course, Scooby and Puppet were in tow, so I must have looked like a veteran. It got me thinking about how I would redo my baby registry. This is my new and improved list. I spared some of the usual items and just included my personal must-haves.

  1. Earth Mama Angel Baby products:  Breastfeeding essentials – Nipple butter, Booby Tubes, Bosom Buddies, Milkmaid tea; Postpartum Recovery essentials – Postpartum bath herbs for sitz, New Mama Bottom Spray (LOVE it), Bottom Balm.
  2. Baby bottles that convert to sippy cups, like BornFree or Avent. I love my Dr. Brown’s, but I’m stuck buying separate sippy cup, after cup, after cup.
  3. Bottle drying rack.
  4. Fast bottle warmer.
  5. An assortment of bottle and nipple brushes – because you will go through them like they are going out of style.
  6. Organic crib mattress. Why? I found that my guys have inherited my sensitivities to fragrance, fumes, and detergents.
  7. Organic sheets and blankets in bamboo, cotton, etc., for the same reason listed above.
  8. Organic crib guardrail covers – Babies get to teething pretty quick and our crib looks like we’ve been harboring a chipmunk.
  9. ERGObaby carrier and accessories (teething pads, cover, insert, pouch, and backpack) to save my aching back and keep baby close to my heart literally. They love to be worn.
  10. My Brest Friend – because Boppy just doesn’t cut it. I love how My Brest Friend cinches to my waist while supporting my back and arms and stays where I put it to help support Puppet while he is nursing. It even has a little pocket where I keep the baby nail clippers and an emery board, and sometimes the TV remote and phone.
  11. Folding bed guardrail for co-sleeping. Babies are bed hogs. I find myself dangling off the edge of the bed in the morning. It will keep me and him from falling off and you can use it when transitioning your child to their own “big kid” bed.
  12. Shopping cart cover – More sanitary to keep the germs away and comfy for their tushies too.  Mine even has loops to attach toys. Whohoo! No toys on the grocery store floor!
  13. Lots of zippered sleepers with feet. Babies just want to be comfy. An occasional cute outfit is cool for a photo op and outings. I just find sleepers so much easier on a daily basis. No lost socks either. I adore zippers because snaps suck at 3 a.m.
  14. Whisper-soft humidifier. Our little ones were used to a wet climate in the womb and I find the humidifier helps to keep their skin and mucous membranes from drying out at night. It also produces a little white noise which helps them sleep.
  15. Vitamin A&D ointment for those meconium diaper changes. That stuff is like tar to get off and this ointment helps create a thin barrier between their skin and the meconium, making clean-up a snap.
  16. Lots of thin receiving blankets and cloth diapers for burp pads, barriers, padding. I use these on top of my changing pad and under their tushies when they sleep as they are easy to wash.
  17. Head supports for car seat and stroller.
  18. Car seat/stroller strap covers. We have the ones with puppies on them. They are not only cute and protect their necks from the strap, but they support their heads when they fall asleep.
  19. Side-snap T-shirts for newborns. I find these less invasive and jarring to the newborn as you’re not pulling anything over their heads, like a onesie. God knows their necks are floppy enough. Also, I find it gives their healing bellybutton air and it’s not constricting.
  20. Beaba Babycook Food Maker – It’s too cool for school – steamer, blender, warmer and defroster to prepare fresh, healthy meals for baby in 15 minutes!!! Santa, I think you forgot our house this year. I want one of these so bad now that I have 2 children and my youngest is getting ready to start solids. I can hardly make dinner sometimes and this would help in efficiency and clean-up.

Weaning the Reluctant Toddler

When Bugster’s 1st birthday hit in March, I couldn’t believe that I was still nursing her.  To be honest, I was really ready to be done with it all. But, it was clear that she was showing absolutely no signs of stopping.  She wouldn’t take a pacifier and wouldn’t go to sleep any other way (except for the car, but that’s not incredibly convenient at 3:00 in the morning).  I even asked the pediatrician for ideas.  His response?  “If you want to stop nursing, just stop nursing.”  I didn’t see it as being nearly that easy. 

Now, she’s almost 18 months old.  I’m preparing to leave the girls for a long weekend with Dear Hubby in a couple weeks and was going to wean her that way.  But, all of a sudden, on Saturday night, I decided I was done.  I nursed her for a few minutes, stopped, and then looked at her and said, “I’m done.  That’s the last time you’re ever going to do that.  Sorry.”  I hadn’t planned on it stopping so suddenly, and I hadn’t discussed it with Dear Hubby.  But, upon hearing my proclamation, he didn’t try to talk me out of it.  Instead, he took Bugster from me and attempted to put her to sleep, because she wasn’t all that pleased that her human pacifier suddenly called it quits.  She really wasn’t happy with me at all.  She fell asleep for him, and it went pretty well.  Bugster woke up in the night, and that’s when the real temper tantrum began.  I refused her attempts to nurse to go back to sleep, and that was a serious lapse of judgment from her point of view.  However, I am happy to report I stood strong.

I think she held a grudge for a couple days.  There have been a lot more requests for Daddy in the middle of the day than usual, and she pretty much gave me the cold shoulder in to Tuesday.  But, the hard part is over.  She occasionally still tries to get me to cave when I’m putting her to sleep, but never for more than a few seconds.  Bugster also still likes me rocking her to sleep, and we’ve already fallen in to a new routine. 

I have no regrets.  I think she was actually ready, or it wouldn’t have gone so well.  I felt bad at first, because it was such a radical change in her life.  And, she also had a cold this weekend, making me think it was really rotten timing on my part – but I then realized there is no such thing as the right time to do something like this.  However, I suppose some of my mommy guilt was probably erased by the kahlua I have been drinking this week. . .

I honestly didn’t think she would ever wean.  But, it turns out that her pediatrician really is a wise man; it was as simple as just stopping.

From Breast to Bottle

Today’s story comes from our newest contributor “The Professor”…

As a new mom, we all want to do absolutely everything “right” for our newborn. We read all the books, research on the internet, get advice from other moms to help us make the important decisions about what is best for baby. There was never a question in my mind that I would breastfeed my son. I had a Boppy and a Brest-Friend. I dragged my husband to the breastfeeding class through the hospital. I had nursing bras and pajamas. I was nervous about nursing, but ready to go. But as we all know, even our best intentions do not always go as planned…

I knew from talking to friends, that breastfeeding could be a challenge, but I could never have been prepared for the difficulties from the very beginning. The day my son was born the nurse came into my hospital room and told me I should try to feed him and then just waited, as if I would just know exactly what to do. It was tough at first, so I asked for help. I did not expect that the nurse would then go get four interns, including a male intern to “help” me learn how to nurse. I am a very modest person, so there I am, exposed to the world, all these eyes staring at my breasts as I struggle to feed my poor hungry baby. Once they left, I let the nurse know that I needed help, but would prefer some privacy. She seemed taken aback, but finally conceded.

The next road block came that evening. I had always imagined keeping the baby in the hospital room with me, but as the pain from the C-section started creeping in, my husband suggested we take the offer to have the baby go to the nursery for the night. When the nurse came in to get him he was very hungry and upset and she said she wouldn’t take him unless I fed him or she could give him some formula. I tried again with no help and no success to feed him, with the words of the lactation nurses in my head to not offer formula or a bottle. Exhaustion and pain finally got the best of me and I let the nurse take him and give him formula, hoping that a night of sleep would prepare me to jump into motherhood the next day.

When the baby was brought back to me in the morning I was told again to feed him. Once again, no help. Where were these lactation nurses we had been promised? After a morning of almost nonstop crying, my husband finally hunted the lactation nurse down and I felt that maybe I could do this after all. She went over everything, helped get him to latch on, set me up with a pump. What a relief. After nearly 24 hours of feeling completely helpless, there was hope! Or so I thought… Over the next few weeks, breastfeeding became a part of my life. The baby latched on very well, but was a lazy eater, so the lactation nurses suggested I pump and feed him from bottles at night so he would sleep longer. My days consisted of sleeping, nursing, and pumping. On top of that I was recovering from the C-section and dealing with a horrible rash that I had broken out in the day I gave birth. Physically, I felt awful. Emotionally, I realize now that I was dealing with some post-partum depression. Nursing became increasingly more and more painful, but I just figured that was part of the process. When my son was about 3 weeks old, I noticed some very hard places on both breasts and I started running a consistent fever. I automatically just knew that I had developed mastitis. At my two week check up I had mentioned to the doctor that I thought I might be heading toward mastitis, and she said no, I didn’t have all the symptoms. She’s the doctor – of course I believed her. So, on Easter Sunday with a 102 fever I called the on call doctor – the same one I had seen at my two week check up. Were there hard places? Yes. Are you running a fever? Yes. Is there any redness over the hardness? No. Well, then it’s not mastitis.

My fever continued for about a week. My OB was still out of town, so I went in to see, unfortunately, the same doctor who had twice told me I did not have mastitis. She was who was available. Once again, with no breast exam, no mastitis. I must have a touch of the flu, that’s all. Who am I to question the doctor. So, thinking I had the flu, I made an appointment with my general practitioner. At this point, my son was already 5 weeks old. Her diagnosis – mastitis. At this point I had been dealing with it for over a month and between the infection, the rash that still had not gone away, and the healing surgery incision I was physically a mess. I just wanted to be healthy so I could enjoy my son! My GP put me on a series of antibiotic injections to hopefully clear up my now raging case of mastitis, but they did not work. The infection was too deep by that point.

This is NOT the enemy!

Six weeks after my son was born I had my six week check up with my OB who was horrified by what I had been through. She was shocked that this other OB, her colleague, had missed the mastitis. I had been able to clear up the infection in my left breast on my own, but the mass in my right breast would not budge. It had been there too long. I was sent to a specialist for an ultrasound which showed a very deep blockage, lodged behind some fibroids. It if did not go away on its own it would require surgery. I knew that the first six weeks were the most important for a baby to get breast milk. I had hit those six weeks. My gut told me that I had done all I could, but that it was time to stop for both my physical and emotional well-being. The main thing keeping my nursing was the pressure from other people. I was faced with a very difficult decision.  Nine weeks after I gave birth, I was once again at the doctor’s office for a follow up and she made the decision for me. I had to stop nursing. My health was suffering too much. The longer I nursed, the more chance there was of the mastitis never clearing up and that I would need surgery. The relief I felt brought tears to my eyes. I had enough breast milk frozen to give my son another week and then he switched to formula with no problem. I was finally able to focus on healing myself which made it so much easier to enjoy being a mommy.

I can appreciate how passionate women are about the benefits of breastfeeding. We are very lucky to be able to provide for our babies in such an amazing way. But I wish that women could have as much passion for other women, the ones who struggle with nursing. Through my ordeal I did not feel support from other moms, I felt guilt, especially from women that didn’t know me. I hated that I didn’t want to admit that I wasn’t breastfeeding because I’d get an earful from some woman who was not willing to hear the whole story, just thought that I was harming my baby. We women need to be there for each other, and have compassion for all situations. When I would explain what had happened to me, instead of support I was usually told that I could have kept nursing through it. Who cares what my doctor said, right? I was a strictly formula-fed baby and am just fine. My son is now four months old and as healthy as can be. I have another breast ultrasound this week and see the breast surgeon the week after to determine if I will need surgery to clear up the blockage. Will I nurse if I have another baby? I’m certainly going to try, but if I can’t for whatever reason, I need to forgive myself and hope that instead of the judgment that I felt with this experience, I will find support and compassion.