"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." -Winston Churchill

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

At-Breast Supplementing

I was a die-hard SNS fan for years, but I made the switch to the lact-aid nursing trainer with baby #5 and I love it! I now have experience with 4 types of at-breast supplemental devices, so I thought I'd make a post comparing them. 

Home-made At-breast Supplemental Feeding Devices

Syringe and feeding tube 

A small syringe is filled with milk (collected colostrum, donor milk, formula), the tube is placed in baby's mouth while latched to the breast, and mother or support person slowly depresses the syringe to inject the milk into baby's mouth.

A 5ml syringe and French 5 feeding tube

A larger syringe for bigger feedings

Pros: Good for small feedings in the early days when baby's intake is very small, perfect for feeding colostrum harvested during pregnancy (I'll be working on a post about that someday, too!)
Cons: Often requires a support person while mother is supporting baby, can be frustrating to attempt without support person, not convenient for larger feedings which would require refilling or switching out syringes
To clean: fill syringe with hot, soapy water and attach feeding tube. Force water through. Repeat with vinegar (optional) and clear water.
Recommended? It's worth a shot, at least for the first few days. But it's not easy to juggle a newborn learning to nurse AND slowly depress a syringe at the same time, so ask someone to help you! And if there's no one to give a hand, I'd recommend nursing first and then supplementing with the syringe without the feeding tube. 

Feeding tube and bottle

For this version, I drilled a hole in the lid of a milk collection bottle and fed the tube through the hole. Our IBCLC gave us the feeding tubes, but you may be able to get some through a medical supply store or online.

The end of the feeding tube that attaches to the syringe goes into the bottle and helps weigh it down. 

A different version of the same kind of set up, the feeding tube is fed through the nipple of a bottle making it more spill-proof.

Some moms prefer a longer feeding tube so the bottle can be placed on the table, and some moms keep the bottle close to baby. 
To clean: fill a syringe with hot soapy water, and flush through the tube. You can repeat with vinegar, if you'd like. Then flush with water. 

Pros: Inexpensive. Stiff tubing can be easier to insert into baby's mouth. Can be used with any size bottle or container.
Cons: Some babies dislike the feeling of the stiff tubing in their mouths.
Recommended? Yes! This is a great short-term OR long-term supplemental feeding set-up (although the tubes will need to be replaced if using long-term.)
I'd also recommend this for someone attempting to relactate or get baby back to breast before investing in the more expensive commercial at-breast supplementers. 

Commercial At-breast Supplemental Feeding Devices

Medela Starter SNS

 This is probably my least favorite as a low supply mom, but it could be more helpful for a full-supply mom who just needs a little help getting her supply up.

The starter SNS consists of a teat with a tube, and a valve assembly, which attaches to a 2.5 ounce collection bottle. 

The Medela Starter SNS is (supposed to be) a short-term supplemental device. It's a gravity-fed system, and the height of the device dictates the flow. You can also prime the teat to "prime the pump"/release some pressure.
To clean, you take the assembly apart and rinse, then fill with hot, soapy water and reassemble, then force water through by squeezing the teat. Repeat with vinegar (optional) and clean water.
Pros: Relatively inexpensive. Okay for short-term use.
Cons: Feedings often take a long time which may tire baby out. Not really built to last. Hard to use discreetly in public (if you're into that kind of thing).
Recommended? Eh, if you get one for free, give it a shot. Not my favorite, but some people prefer it. Different strokes for different folks.

Medela Long-term SNS

I have a LOT of experience with this one, obviously. And my most recent experience taught me even more.

The Medela long-term SNS has two tubes. It's a gravity-fed device like the starter SNS, and height dictates flow. Second tube can be released to let out pressure or left open for faster flow. 
The best instructions I've found for using it are on this website. http://watanabe.fastmail.jp/sns.html
To clean: rinse bottle, fill with hot, soapy water. Reassemble and force soapy water through the tubes. Repeat with vinegar and water.
Pros: 3 different tube sizes (small, medium, large). Made for long-term use, reusable bottle. Easy to see how much baby has eaten with clearly marked milliliters and ounces. Gravity-fed milk flow can be helpful for weak babies.
Cons: Prone to leaking if cap is too loose or too tight. Expensive to replace tubes or missing parts. Hard to use discreetly in public.
Recommended? Sure. I used it for years, although I always said I had a love/hate relationship with my SNS.

Lact-aid Nursing Trainer

Somehow that blue thing is supposed to help you hold up the bags while filling, but I just stick the bag in a clean coffee cup. The funnel goes into the bag for filling. The little white thing is a filter for formula, you insert into the funnel. Then there's an assembled lact-aid, and cleaning syringe. 

The lact-aid is hard to describe. And I know it looks overwhelming. I was overwhelmed, myself. 
The lact-aid is not a gravity-fed device, and in the early days, my baby was not strong enough to remove milk well. The bags also have no units of measurement printed on them, so unless baby has been able to remove an obvious amount of milk, it can be hard to tell if the milk is flowing at all.
Once my little guy was gaining well and gaining strength, we got the hang of the lact-aid and never looked back. Now that it works for us, it is THE BEST THING EVER! 
Cleaning is pretty easy with the bulb syringe. Fill it with hot, soapy water, flush the lines. Repeat with vinegar. Repeat with water. No sweat. 
Pros: Looks complicated, but isn't. Easy to tuck in bra and go. More discreet use in public. Less leaks than Medela SNS. Multiple units make life easier.
Cons: Not cheap. May be difficult for a struggling baby, can be hard to tell if the milk is flowing, bags are single use*, bags aren't marked in mililiters or ounces so harder to monitor baby's intake.
Recommended? Yes. This one is by far my favorite. Unlike the Medela SNS, I have a love/love relationship with this one. If you do get the lact-aid and fall in love with it, get as many units as you can. Makes life much easier. :)

*I've heard some people wash and re-use bags, but for liability's sake, you didn't hear it from me. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Birth of Baby Bluebird

I'm November 5th- I woke in the night to several mild to moderate contractions, but instead of getting stronger, they fizzled out and I went back to sleep. Throughout the day, I continued to have random mild contractions, but no pattern and no consistency. I lost my mucus plug, though, and started having my bloody show.
I thought labor was beginning several times, but contractions continued to stop. I ate, rested, and kept myself hydrated.
At 10 pm, a contraction woke me up. I went back to sleep. At 11 pm, I had another. I got up to pee and then the contractions began to come every 5 minutes. I began to make the groaning cake, pausing to moan and dance through contractions. We called the midwives. I popped the cake pans in the oven and mixed up the frosting.
The first of our birth team arrived and helped Rob start to fill the birth tub. My contractions were already incredibly intense, and I couldn't wait to get in the water. Unfortunately, we have very low water pressure so I had to wait what felt like forever. 
I couldn't believe how strong my contractions were, and I couldn't find relief. I dropped to my hands and knees and tried to rock through a contraction, and then I was told the pool was ready. I hopped in eagerly and immediately had another contraction. 

The water helped a little, but I continued to be slightly overwhelmed by the power of my contracting uterus. I was already quite over the whole labor process. I was hot, I was cold, I was shaky and felt slightly nauseated. I felt like my contractions were transition strong, and bellowing to the point of almost pushing helped me get through the peaks.

My transition during this labor was by far the longest, and I was desperate to cross the finish line. I had been kneeling, but decided to sit back, and my contractions began to get "pushier," but I wasn't fully pushing yet. 

I kept changing positions, listening to the feedback of my body. I stuck two fingers inside and was quite surprised to find the bag of water and his head about 2 inches from the opening. I knelt with my legs wide open, and kept my fingers on his head and felt him move down with every push. 

My amniotic sac ruptured and I could feel his wrinkly little head. At first, I thought he was another baldy baby, but a few pushes later, I felt quite a bit of hair. 
I kept waiting for the "good feeling" I'd had with previous births while pushing, but it never came.

I continued to change positions from kneeling to almost all fours, supporting my perineum as needed. In what felt like an incredibly short time, his head went from inside me to outside me. "His head is out!" I gasped, and I could feel the cord around his neck. Another push and his body slid out. "He has a nuchal cord," I said, and unwound it from around his neck. It was wrapped around twice! Then I pulled him out of the water. 

He was a little stunned and wasn't immediately responsive. He looked surprised! We rubbed his back and feet and soon he began to grimace and then let out a soft little cry. And then he began to take in the world around him, quiet and alert. 

He was so peaceful and calm, completely unlike his siblings at birth. A totally new experience, and one I had been wishing for. 

The pool began to feel cool, so Eliza cut the cord and we waddled our way to bed. He latched on like a pro while we waited for my placenta to detach. 
I was so pleased to have a minor "skid mark" tear, because I've needed stitches with all four previous births, from a 3rd degree episiotomy to a fourth degree tear. That alone was a huge victory for me. 

Baby was weighed and measured, 7 lbs, 8 oz and 20 inches. It was my most intense birth experience, but so incredible to catch my baby all on my own. 
Our family is complete. :)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fourth Time's a Charm


Coming up on 11 months of nursing!

I never would have imagined we would be where we are before a year. Baby J is now wholly sustained by my breastmilk and solid food.

No SNS, no donor milk, no smoothies.

He nurses often, eats 3 meals a day (and sometimes a snack or two) and has a sippy cup of water available to him whenever he's thirsty.

It's really incredible. I never would have expected this. I don't know if my supply has just gotten so much better because I've addressed my insulin resistance with a good diet and exercise, and I'm not sure I'd have enough to fully nourish a baby who wasn't also eating solids, but I don't care. Whatever. It's working!

I finally have the kind of nursing relationship I've always dreamed of! I have a baby who can crawl in my lap, latch on, and be satisfied without having to hook myself up with tubes and bottles and "boob tape." It's what I've always wanted.
Fourth time's a charm! 


Saturday, June 7, 2014

So Long, Donor Milk. Hello, Smoothies!

When I last left you, faithful readers, we had just begun using solid food to supplement Baby J's diet, and it was going very well. But since we'd introduced more solid food, he was less interested in nursing, so I began to pump every 2 hours or so during the day, and feeding him the pumped milk in the SNS. We were using very little donor milk, and some days, NO donor milk, and Baby J was doing fabulously! But the rigorous pumping schedule was difficult to keep up with 4 children and a LIFE, and I found myself using donor milk a little more. But Baby J was becoming more and more fussy... And then I put it together. Even a small amount of donor milk from a dairy-drinking mom made him feel crummy which made for a very cranky, fussy baby.
I decided to stop seeking donor milk, since dairy-free is basically impossible to find.
So what do you feed a baby who doesn't drink formula?


And Baby J is quite content with the situation. I use a canned coconut base, and add banana, avocado, coconut water, a handful of fruit, some fresh greens, and offer him sips throughout the day. He loves it.
Today, when I took this picture, we were sitting in the chair and he was nursing. And when I was empty, he started on the smoothie.
Happy growing baby with no tummy ache/happy, relaxed mama. Win/win situation.
We are rarely using the SNS at all anymore (although I do pump a little, and give him an SNS full of milk when I have accumulated enough for a feeding.)

So that's our new routine! So far, so good.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Operation: Increase Solids/Decrease Donor Milk Update!

It's been a little over a week since we decided to try and reduce the amount of donor milk and increase Baby J's solid food intake. It's going very well! After getting over the initial hiccups (trying to figure out how to get more liquids into him because he was dealing with some constipation), we seem to have a good system going.
He's really enjoying the solid food, and I'm enjoying a bit more freedom because I can leave him with daddy while I run errands (or 5Ks!) and I don't really have to worry about him preferring bottles to boobs, because he can eat solids while I'm away.

Baby J eats a lot of bananas, avocados, bananas mashed with avocados, guacamole, sweet potato with coconut oil, and those organic baby food pouches.
He drinks a little water, a little coconut water, some donor milk, and whatever milk I make.

I decided last week to stop taking the brewer's yeast and leptaden because they weren't helping. I'm still taking the goat's rue. Not sure if it's helping, but it isn't hurting. I'm pumping when I can, too.

In just shy of a month, Baby J has gone from 16 pounds, 4.5 ounces to 17 pounds, 14.5 ounces, and he's been a very happy boy! I wasn't sure at first, but I think this was definitely the right choice for our family.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Operation: Increase Milk Supply and Solids/Decrease Donor Milk is in effect!

Baby  J is now 6 months old, and we have started  adding solid foods. At first, my plan was just to use solid foods  for fun and learning how to eat, but recently, donor milk has been a bit harder to come by, so, under the guidance of dear friend (who also happens to be an IBCLC),  I am attempting to increase his solid food intake  and decrease his donor milk intake (He will not take formula.). I have also decided, despite my  prior promise to myself to just let my milk supply be what it would be, to attempt to increase my milk supply with some galactogogues.

Day 1:
3 tablets of brewer's yeast, two tablets of leptaden (an aryurvedic medicine I though gave me a slight boost with Lola.) with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Goat's rue should be arriving tonight!

Nurse Baby J,  then  offer solids: (Sweet potato  mixed with coconut oil, banana and applesauce), offer water after bath.
Nurse again, and then offer 50ml of  donor milk in the SNS.
Nurse Baby J, offer solids: avocado mixed with banana. Offer water after his bath.
Nurse frequently. Offer donor milk when he is obviously not satisfied with nursing and water.. (Disclaimer:  We're not talking about a lot of water, here.  He had maybe 3 ounces all day.)

All told, he had about 8 ounces of donor milk yesterday, about half his normal daily intake. Probably could have been even less, but I skipped a solid food dinner for him because he'd already had two baths that day and I was just done bending over and wrestling a slippery baby. :)

Baby J seems quite happy with the new arrangement. He really loves to eat food. I'm feeling a little sad and, as usual, inadequate because I know how awesome breast milk is and had hoped it would comprise the bulk of his diet for his first year. But, I can't control what I can't control, but what I can control is making sure he is eating quality, whole foods to make up for the lack of breast milk.
Just doing the best I can in this kind of situation.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Sweet Spot

One of the most heartbreakingly common questions I see on our Low Milk Supply Support Group is "When does this stop hurting so bad?"
Of course, the answer is different for everyone. Sometimes, the pain of living with low milk supply lasts for years. Some find peace when they wean. Rio was a toddler and I still wept over our failed attempt at nursing. (He's a strapping boy of 9 now, and the pain has faded.)
As for me, I'm there. I'm finally there.
When I was pregnant, I decided I was not going to put myself through all the stress of gulping down handfuls of herbs and medications (that didn't help me anyway), I was just going to let my supply be whatever it was going to be. I had my SNS, I had my freezer full of donor milk, and that was that.
I still had to go through a brief grieving period, but it was much, much shorter than all the others. And we still had to learn to use the SNS together, but it didn't take long. We still dealt with reflux and food sensitivities, but we got that sorted out, too.
A few months ago, I realized that we were doing it. We were making it work. I no longer had the fear that had haunted me through Lola's first year- the fear that we wouldn't meet my goal of breastfeeding for at least a year.
I KNOW we're going to make it to a year, and much, much longer.
But tonight, as I nursed my sweet boy, I had the most amazing realization:

I no longer feel broken.
(And that's a huge thing for me.)

Yes, half my son's nutritional needs are met by another mother's milk flowing out of a little tube attached to a funny little bottle, but he is so TOTALLY a breastfed baby.
Our nursing relationship is exactly what I've dreamt about since I first imagined nursing my first baby, all those years ago.
I'm finally there, in the sweet spot.

So, I urge you mamas out there, aching with the blow of low milk supply, find your sweet spot. The spot where the only thing that matters is the love that flows between you and your baby. It doesn't have to be the same as my sweet spot. It doesn't even have to involve feeding at the breast or breast milk. This is YOUR sweet spot. 
You'll find your healing there.

This post has been added to the World Breastfeeding Week Blog Hop for 2014!
Please check out the rest of the blogs on the blog hop!
Butterfly Birth www.butterflybirth.com
The Healthy Start Coalition Bloghttp://healthystartsarasota.org/blog/

Thursday, February 27, 2014

What Fresh Hell? (Or Life with a Reflux Baby)

As we continue to play catch-up of Baby J's early life....

So, Baby J and I had found what worked for us and we were doing great with the SNS! And then the spit-up came, and with it, a very fretful, inconsolable baby. He was not a happy boy. Days were spent holding, nursing, cleaning up spit up, crying with him. His poops were greenish and mucous-y. What was making my baby so unhappy?

I decided (grudgingly, but also desperately) to start on an elimination diet. But how would I know what he was reacting to in donor milk? Again, low milk supply was a slap in the face. I started seeking donor milk without the common allergens, but it wasn't always easy to come by. I stopped eating dairy, eggs, gluten, and coffee. Eventually, his poops became normal breastmilk poops, even with donor milk that contained what I was avoiding.

It took me a while to realize that I myself probably have a leaky gut and that was the reason he was reacting to the foods I ate but not the donor milk.

But still, Baby J was a difficult nut to crack. He still cried much more than my other babies had. I was exhausted. He'd been wearing an amber necklace since he was a month old, and I decided to try a hazelwood necklace, too. Within an hour, he was a markedly happier baby. I'm a hazelwood believer.
I also started him dairy-free probiotics, and that's helped him immensely, too. Slowly, the happy and charming Baby J is starting to emerge.

These short paragraphs simply can't do justice to the hell that was our life for the first several months, but the little guy is teething and I just don't have the strength to relive it all. Maybe someday. But I'd rather just forget it.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Guest Post: "What NOT to Say..."

by Brittany Sears

When I was pregnant, I saw lots of information on how to be sensitive to people who are struggling with infertility: don't ask couples when they're planning on starting a family, don't lament your 2 "oops" pregnancies to someone who can't get pregnant, etc. I've been thinking that for those of us who struggle with breastfeeding -- especially when we discover that despite our diligent research and best efforts, we will probably never make enough milk for our baby to eat -- similar information is needed for family and friends. This is a heartbreaking ordeal.

Here's a list of things I've compiled from my (online) groups. They sound like casual conversation to most people, but are actually emotional landmines for moms who thought they'd be exclusively breastfeeding for the next year. If you'd like to be sensitive to new moms whose background you don't know, or someone like me who you know to have low supply, please take heart! Please share widely if you're inspired to do so, and leave this line, which gives credit to me, Brittany Sears, for writing it.

"Are you breastfeeding?" Here is the stream of thoughts you've just inspired: Am I? Is this really breastfeeding, even though my baby would starve if I didn't add a bottle at every feeding, too? How can I really be a mom if I have to add a bottle? It's not really any of your business, whatever your intentions were when you asked.

"Oh, she's so tiny!" Such an accident, but this is a huge barb for many of us. Yes, she's smaller than your cousin's friend's 15 lb 3-week-old, but she's gained 3 lbs since the day the doctor was talking about hospitalization for failure to thrive. We really don't want to revisit the pain of that conversation.

"Breast is best..." or any other breastfeeding propaganda when you've JUST learned that we can't make enough. Formula is poison? What do you propose I do, let my baby starve?

"Everyone can breastfeed if they try hard enough." Oh REALLY? So visits to two doctors for surgery to fix Lucy's tongue tie, 11 hours with 4 lactation consultants, every supplement known to man, and innumerable books, websites, and support groups isn't trying hard enough?

Reassurance that "Formula is fine!" Yes, it is. But many moms get to CHOOSE formula. We only got to choose it in that we could choose to use formula or have a starved baby.

"How long are you going to torture yourself [by breastfeeding what little you can and adding an onerous pumping routine to your day]?" As long as I can give my baby the best I can, that's how long! Something is better than nothing until *I* decide otherwise.

"Have you tried... ?" Yes. I am forgiving about this one because people are genuinely trying to be helpful, but here's what I personally have tried with no effect. Galactogogue foods: oats, flax, brewers yeast, beer, you name it! Herbal supplements: fenugreek, blessed thistle, red raspberry leaf, goat's rue, alfalfa, chlorella... Gatorade, Emergen-C, too! And even a prescription drug, which has helped marginally. And for the love of Pete, yes, I drink enough water!

"I know it's hard." NO, you probably don't.

"Only 1% of women truly suffer from low supply." Awesome! I guess you should go buy a lottery ticket today, now that you've met me! Maybe you'll see a leprechaun later, too.

"Is that all you pumped?" or "She's still hungry!" THANKS CAPTAIN OBVIOUS.

Anything about your oversupply. You cannot imagine what any of us would give to make TOO much milk. (Personally, I don't mind hearing about it from the lovely women who are giving Lucy milk from their freezer stash!)

I know this list makes it sound like there's nothing you CAN say that isn't an emotional firestorm. And maybe that's true, and it's probably true of any new mom. So what is a good thing to say? Just stick to the positive! "Your baby is beautiful," "You're doing a wonderful job," and "What do you like most about being a mom?" are all much better options than asking a stranger if she's breastfeeding.

About Brittany:

I’m 29 years old and I just finished my PhD in Biology at the University of South Florida here in Tampa, FL. In fact, I held my 11-day-old daughter throughout the graduation ceremony! Lucy was born just a smidge early, at 36w6d, au natural and 7.0 lbs. After losing a pound in the first 5 days after birth, she did not regain ANY weight in the next two weeks. Our pediatrician then found a tongue tie, which we had corrected. Fast forward 5 weeks of still-poor latches, a second opinion from a wonderful pediatric dentist revealed that she was still tongue-tied, which we had corrected again. Whether due to missing a narrower-than-usual hormonal window, her continued poor latch, or some degree of IGT, I make 6-7 oz per day, including what my daughter gets on the breast. I am only now, at 12 weeks postpartum, settling into a routine and beginning to accept what is our normal. I credit my wonderful husband and family for support, the Freemies pump (so I can pump and hold my baby), and the IGT group for bringing me to terms with everything.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Low Milk Supply, Take 4!

So, after our lovely, natural home birth, the stage was set for a great start to breastfeeding.

While I still hoped for a slightly better supply this time, I had no illusions that I would somehow be blessed with a full milk supply. I had prepared. I had syringes, supplemental nursing systems, and a freezer full of donor milk. I was ready for this!

Baby J, one day old.
The first few hours went well. Baby J had a big, blow out diaper full of meconium.Yay! But, as the day went on, it became clear that he wasn't being satisfied by the amount of colostrum I was making. Having gone down the starving baby route before, I wasn't going to let that happen again, and I broke out the syringe and bottle of frozen colostrum. I gave him a few milliliters and popped him back on the breast. Continued ad nauseum.

We brought him to meet his pediatrician when he was 2 days old, and he had lost a pound. Even knowing what I know (different scales, different weights, some weight loss is normal for newborns), it was a very traumatizing visit for me. As a low supply mom, it brought back all the tearful visits of the past with sick and hungry babies. When we got home from his appointment, I offered him a whole ounce of colostrum in the starter SNS. He ate it all.
First SNS feeding.
I waited, not so patiently, for my milk to come in. Eventually, I felt the telltale hormonal shivers that signaled that my milk was beginning to come in, and come in it did. Slowly. Baby J started actually gulping and swallowing from the breast alone. But the gulping didn't last long, and there continued to be signs that he wasn't getting quite enough. He would "wet" diapers, but his urine was dark and there wasn't much of it. And he wasn't pooping the way he should have been. He was falling asleep before finishing an ounce with the SNS. He was starting down that dangerous road.

How could this be happening? I was prepared? I knew what I was doing, didn't I? Hadn't I walked this path before? How could I still be screwing this up so badly?

All the old feelings of inadequacy came flooding back. My body was a failure, and I was a failure as a mother. Even with all the things I'd done to prepare, I was still failing my baby.

Baby J was 5 days old, and I'd already failed him.

 I was lucky enough to have my dear friend (and IBCLC) be the voice of reason for me. He was working too hard with the starter SNS to get too little milk. It was time to try something else. I tried a bottle. No luck. He couldn't latch. I tried finger feeding. No luck. I went back to syringe-feeding. Still no luck. Could I BE any more of a failure?

Frustrated and terrified at the thought of another sick, dehydrated newborn, I cried. I raged. I mourned. I thought I'd been prepared, but I wasn't. I wasn't prepared for the emotional rollercoaster insufficient glandular tissue had dragged me onto, despite all my prior experiences.

I lay in our hammock in the sunshine, crying, and nursing my baby boy.
I cried for a long time while he slept on my chest. And then I looked around. I saw my three happy and healthy children, and I knew J would be okay. I'd made it work before, I could do it again.

When he woke, I decided to try the full-size SNS, the same kind I'd used for 20 months with Lola.
It worked. He got the milk he needed without using more energy than he was taking in. Hallelujah!

There were still bumps in the road, for sure. Using an SNS isn't quite the same as riding a bike. I still had to figure out how best to position the tubing, and where to place the bottle so the milk didn't flow too fast or too slow, but together, we learned to make it work.

Next Post: "What Fresh Hell?" or "Living with a Reflux-y, Colic-y, Food Sensitive, Unhappy Baby"

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Baby J's Beginning

I'm back! A few weeks before giving birth to my son, our old computer died and I just finally got a new one (Thank you, Taxreturnmas!).

So, new nursling, new story. So, let's start at the beginning.

Baby J's Beginning
(Photo by Lindsay Lee Photography)
At 6 p.m., September 28th, 2013, I tracked my first real labor contraction. The kids and I had just gotten in the van to head to the park. About 40 minutes later, I had my second labor contraction, and I decided it was time to head to Daddy's work, have dinner, and then go home and have a baby!

 Everyone pitched in, straightening up the house, and setting up the birth pool while Daddy ran to the store for a few last minute supplies.

After the pool was set up, it was time to get the girls to bed. I nursed Lola down to sleep with Lulu snuggled up behind me.
Once Lola fell asleep, my contractions really intensified thanks to the oxytocin her nursing released. I got into the shower and my contractions were already overwhelmingly strong. I got out, told Daddy it was time to fill up the pool and called my midwife.

I turned on some Dave Matthews Band and danced between contractions while I waited for the tub to fill up. Just as the pool finished filling, my midwife arrived. She checked Baby J's heart rate, took my blood pressure, and settled in. Soon, my two photographer friends, my aunt and cousins, and my dad and step-mom arrived, too.

(Photo by Lindsay Lee Photography)

After relaxing in the tub for a while, my contractions slowed down a bit, and my midwife suggested I get out for a little while to get them going again. I went outside for a few minutes and Daddy went to wake up Lulu. It didn't take long for my contractions to pick back up again and I soon retreated back to the warmth of the tub, this time with Rio and Lulu in tow.

(Photo by Lindsay Lee Photography)
(Photo by Lindsay Lee Photography)
Little Lulu was the perfect little doula. (Photo by Jessica Adkins Photography)
(Photo by Lindsay Lee Photography)

I labored long into the night with my family by my side. (Photo by Jessica Adkins Photography)
 I was really surprised by the intensity of my labor this time. Laid-back Lola's labor had been so gentle and sweet, I'd only had one contraction that really overwhelmed me, and that was right before I'd enter transition. And even transition with Lola was blissfully brief.
This time, my contractions required my full attention from much earlier on. Little did I know that the intensity of my labor was an indication of the intensity of my soon-to-be-born son.

(Photo by Lindsay Lee Photography)

The pain was intense, and I vocalized loudly through each contraction. Although it felt like an eternity, soon enough there came the first contraction where I felt pushy at the peak. It was almost time to meet my baby!

Then, the first full pushing contraction came and it felt SO GOOD! Oh, so good to push! I roared through the undeniable, unavoidable, un-ignorable (yes, I made that word up) urge to PUSH and it felt amazing. As intense as my labor contractions were, my pushing contractions were even more so, but what a powerful feeling! My midwife checked quickly to feel where the baby's head was, and it was just a few inches inside. She had me reach in to feel, and I held my fingers there and felt as he moved lower and lower with each push. Soon, more of his head was out than in, and I was holding the top of his head in the palm of my hand.
I just love Daddy's face here. Baby J's head was in my hand. (Photo by Jessica Adkins Photography.)


After experiencing a 4th degree tear with Lola, I was really concentrating on breathing this baby out, with little bumps of pushing. Slowly, slowly, his head emerged. And then his head was out! I expected to do a lot more work pushing out his shoulders (because Lola was a giant 9lb, 14 ouncer), but instead WHOOSH! With just a little push, he was out.

 3:55 am, September 29th, 2013
 (Photo by Jessica Adkins Photography.)
(Photo by Lindsay Lee Photography)
 "Grab your baby, Nyssa!" And I pulled my tiny new one out of the water. Immediately, he was crying at the top of his lungs and Daddy remarked, "He's the loudest one, yet!" (Again, an omen of what was to come? But more of that in a later post.)

                                                                (Photo by Jessica Adkins Photography.)
                                                                  (Photo by Jessica Adkins Photography.)
                                                                  (Photo by Jessica Adkins Photography.)
 (Photo by Jessica Adkins Photography.)
 Big brother Rio cut the cord after it had stopped pulsing. My placenta didn't detach right away and it was hard to see in the murky pool, so I handed the baby to his daddy and went to shower off.

                                                                (Photo by Jessica Adkins Photography.)
 (Photo by Jessica Adkins Photography.)
 After a few stitches (I had a very manageable 2nd degree tear this time), and baby J was weighed (8lbs, 8oz, just like big brother Rio!) and measured (20 inches!) and examined, I was put to bed to meet my new little boy.
 (Photo by Lindsay Lee Photography)
(Photo by Lindsay Lee Photography)
                                                               (Photo by Jessica Adkins Photography.)

(Photo by Jessica Adkins Photography.) 
Just before the sun came up, I nursed my big girl Lola and my newborn together for the first time, and we all fell asleep as a family of 6.

A few hours later, I woke up to use the bathroom, and Big Brother and Little Brother snuggled together as I made myself something to eat.

Here are the links to the slideshows my darling photographer friends made for me:

Jessica Adkins Photography's Slideshow

Lindsay Lee Photography's Slideshow
(These are really beautiful! I just love them so much!)