Thursday, September 25, 2014

My LONG Breastfeeding Story

So... I've wanted to write this post for a while. Really I wanted to write about this after nursing Quinn. And then once the journey with Teddy started, I really knew I had to write about it. It's long though. LONG. And honestly probably not that interesting for most people. There are so many emotions and thoughts wrapped up in this for me. I'm hoping that it helps a mom feel a little more "ok" with however they feel about breastfeeding. It really is just my story but I know reading others stories sometime help us all feel a little less alone.

Background:
I love breastfeeding. I love the IDEA of breastfeeding and all that it entails. I am all for it. I am a nurse. A baby nurse. SO I know how important breastfeeding can be.  I also am not shy. I don't mind people that nurse in public. I don't mind helping moms in the NICU with breastfeeding. I don't mind nursing in public, although I do prefer to be covered. I am all for taking away the "weird" or "uncomfortableness" that people put with breastfeeding in public. It is what it is... feeding your baby. Nothing more. So people need to just get over their personal feelings about it because a baby needs to eat. And a mother shouldn't feel ashamed of how God made her.

My Story:
Nursing both of my babies physically has been a breeze. Both latched on without effort and ate well and gained weight. I never had supply issues (in the beginning) and it truly was enjoyable feeding them, especially as newborns. BUT both of kids have had reflux. Quinn's was eventually figured out as a milk/soy protein intolerance. He puked and puked and I just knew it was something more than "reflux". I racked my brain for months. I gave up dairy twice for weeks at a time. Throughout this time, he slept on a incline, I held him upright for 30 minutes after every feeding, he puked every time he burped, every time he was put in his car seat and randomly just crawling around the house... for 9 months. And I couldn't figure it out. Nothing seemed to fix it. He wasn't outgrowing it. So around 8 months we took him to a specialist and they suggested we try hypoallergenic formula. I felt defeated. Like I couldn't just feed my baby and it all go smoothly (which I know now, isn't that rare.) So after about a month I caved and tried him on the formula full time. It was a miracle. The puking stopped and he was much happier overall. I told myself that I put myself through so much guilt about giving him formula that if my second child needed formula, I would do it, no guilt. His dairy/soy free diet continued until around 2 years.

Fast forward to Teddy. His journey started while he was in the NICU. I was pumping every 2-3 hours around the clock for the first week of his life to bring in my milk and to give him milk while I wasn't there at night. BUT it was going well. I was making TONS of milk and he was doing so well with it! No puking, no gas. He was just snuggly and happy. I remember thinking and telling people how happy I was to just feed a baby and lay him down. Not have to hold him upright for 30 minutes so that he wouldn't puke everywhere. And then it started about 3 weeks after he was born. And it was worse than Quinn. He was spitting up through his nose multiple times a night. He was gagging and choking multiple times a day. But he wasn't actually puking as much. He just seemed SO uncomfortable. His poop was so weird too. He would literally poop all day. Like leak poop all day. So he had a terrible rash. I couldn't help but think, "Here we go again!". The connection between a mom and a baby when you are nursing is this weird thing. When your baby is possibly reacting to something you are eating that is going through the milk, you analyze EVERYTHING. I over analyze everything. I wanted to fix it. I wanted to have my normal happy eating baby back. But it didn't happen. So I cut out dairy and soy from my diet. I told myself after Quinn that I would cut things out of my diet until I was going a little nuts from it, and then I would switch to formula. So that's what I did. I cut dairy and soy out for 4 months. (Soy is in EVERYTHING.. like every single processed food. It's somewhat tedious to cut out). Teddy's stools did stop from being constant. But they were far from "normal" that I see at work. They were frothy and green, they were filled with mucous. They were just gross. But honestly, I couldn't find it in myself to give anything else up. And through this all, my doctor really didn't see anything "wrong" because he was growing, meeting milestones and gaining weight. Because that's all the matters right?! Being undermined by doctors is AWFUL. But that's another story. :)

Around the time I went back to work, we decided that I would just supplement whatever he needed above what I had pumped with hypoallergenic formula. And it went well. It gave me so much hope. That once I had enough of cutting things out etc, I could just switch to formula and it would all go away like it did with Quinn. RIGHT?! Wrong.

Getting to 6 months was GRUELING. I started to really resent feeding Teddy because he would pull on and off and against me while he was nursing because his tummy hurt. He would claw at my breast and I would be left with scratches all over. And then I just truly felt like a failure because he was still struggling with reflux all day and night. It almost felt like I was "poisoning" him with my milk-- even though I know it was the best thing for him. Around 6 months, I reintroduced dairy and soy into my diet. He had one really mucousy stool with some blood in it, but really nothing else. And I truly didn't see a huge difference. So I continued on a normal diet from there on. I had to hold him after every night feeding for sometimes an hour before his tummy would be settled enough for me to lay him down. It was exhausting. I also figured out that I need space. I don't like to be touched all the time. (My husband can probably tell you that :)) And I was being touched all the time. With an infant and a two year old, there is no space. And breastfeeding will ensure that! :)

So at 6 months I decided, I was done. Formula all the way. So I started to give him multiple bottles of formula a day. After a couple days, he was up all night screaming and he was spitting up all day. GREAT. Major fail in the formula department. I tried two different kinds of hypoallergenic and one kind of "gentle" formula with the same reaction. Also during this time, because I was missing feedings, my "touchy" supply dropped. So after figuring out that formula wouldn't work, I was left with a less than ideal supply. Which meant more frequent feedings, letting him eat anytime he wanted at night and taking some herbal supplements to help increase my supply. It was draining.

By the time we got to 9 months though, things evened out. He was eating more solids and was happier all around in regards to reflux. He has weaned somewhat early and is now nursing 2 times a day, FINALLY sleeping through the night and drinking almond/coconut milk in between. I still don't absolutely love breastfeeding him, but it more enjoyable than it has ever been. I would love it if we could keep these two feedings for months. But I don't think my supply will hold up. He still doesn't eat dairy because it seems to upset his stomach but I am able to eat whatever and really don't see any reactions from what I eat.

All of this to say.... breastfeeding is HARD. It is BY FAR the hardest part of parenting for me so far. And honestly more than anything, I just am disappointed that I didn't get any babies that eat well and don't have any issues. It's almost like those pictures of people nursing their sweet babies taunt me. It all seems so peaceful. And DEFINITELY there are such sweet and peaceful times in my nursing journey. But mostly, it has been exhausting and stressful. Would I do it again? Yes. Because it gives me a feeling of satisfaction to do that for my child. Would I try formula again at some point if I was as stressed as I was? Yes. If it is easier for them to digest, I'm all for it. If it's harder, then I would tough out nursing again. The one thing that I fear the most about having another baby? Breastfeeding. HANDS DOWN.

Which leads me back to where I started. I love breastfeeding. I love the IDEA of breastfeeding. But it has become so clear to me that walking through a journey like mine is rough and that's ok. I have learned so much about myself in the process and really have learned that it IS worth it to me to try to nurse any other baby I have.

I hope that this can help a mom out there who is baffled by how hard nursing a baby can be. There is so much involved. It's not just getting the latch right, there are SO many reasons why it can be difficult. But just because it's difficult, it doesn't mean it's not worth it. I am thankful that things worked out the way they did and that I am still nursing Teddy right now. But I also want moms to know that formula is not evil and it can be the best thing for you and your baby. It dramatically helped Quinn and I will be forever thankful for that!

I know my thoughts are all over the place but I really wanted to write this out while my feelings were still fresh!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Here we are...

At 11 months and 35 months...



It's been a long year. But I can't believe it's almost over. The boys birthday's are 1 day apart so very soon I will have two toddlers.

I found myself actually wondering what to do this morning for the first time in... a year. Teddy is finally taking a good morning nap almost every day and Quinn has school two days a week. I'm hoping this will leave a little more time for blogging (I'm sure Aaron hopes it will leave time for cleaning....hmm...).

For right now I'll give a quick update on the boys.

Quinn is almost 3.
Likes: Talking and laughing, superheroes (especially Hulk, Spiderman, and Superman), playing make believe, parks, any "ball" game-- baseball, football, soccer, running, still loves to play chase if you indulge him, being around people and his friends
Dislikes: Puzzles, coloring and really anything that keeps him from moving around or interacting with you, being told what to do (oh no!), sharing with his brother.

Quinn is a headstrong, smart and stubborn but such a loving toddler/almost preschooler. He LOVES to do any activity that involves gross motor things-- running, jumping, spinning-- and playing with someone. He almost always runs onto a playground yelling, "Let's play!!" to anyone who will play with him. He is full of hugs and kisses for anyone that asks and he loves to snuggle up with Aaron or I while watching cartoons.

This year has been FULL of discipline because he is definitely a child the needs firm boundaries and he will continually test them. Time out was kind of a disaster until we figured out that time out will only work for him in a confined space. He goes in his closet (a walk in closet) with the doorway gated. He HATES it and we still haven't figured out how to get him to sit quietly in time out. It always involves me carrying him screaming to his room, him throwing contents of his closet out into his room and all over his closet and lots of tears and screaming. AND then it involves specific instructions to pick each item up and put it away before he can get out. Therefore, we really don't do timeout unless it is absolutely necessary. I have figured out that I have to stay ON TOP of behaviors over and over and over again before he will stop and decide it's just not worth it to get in trouble or loose toys. Right now we are working on talking back (I mean seriously?!? Is he 13!?). He likes to say, "I don't want to do that." Or "No, I'm not." etc when I ask him to do something. It's almost automatic like he doesn't think about what he's saying before it comes out. So there have been lots of time outs and loosing toys in the last couple days and things have gotten a little better. He knows that he can say nothing when I ask him to do something or he can say "Ok Mommy" and do what I ask, otherwise he will loose a privilege or be in time out. If I give an inch, he takes 5 miles. This is definitely one of the hardest parts of parenting because honestly I just would rather ignore it or just give in. But I know that these little things should pay off in the long run... hopefully.

Teddy at 11 Months

Likes: His mommy, food, moving all the time, chasing his brother and taking his toys, pulling up, opening drawers, climbing up stairs, toilets, putting everything in his mouth, music and dancing
Dislikes: Getting dressed, wiping his nose, hands or mouth, being passed around to people he doesn't know
Favorite foods: Fruits and meats. He could pass on veggies and breads.
Favorite toys: Balls. He has been throwing a ball since he was around 9 months old! It's great! He will throw it. And crawl to get it and throw it again!
Teeth: Three. Two on the bottom and one on top. But there are three more coming in on top. They are taking their sweet time.
 
Teddy is FINALLY FINALLY sleeping through the night. It happened right before he turned 11 months. And consequently, he is also pretty much done nursing as well. I will try to write a whole post on breastfeeding the second time around but to put it shortly, it was a LONG ride for me. He is nursing around 2 times a day now- usually in the morning and after his afternoon nap. And then he is drinking almond or coconut milk throughout the day along with eating 3 meals and 2 snacks like a champ! Although I would prefer him to continue to nurse 2-3 times a day until he is one, I seriously doubt it will happen. I think we will be done within a week. There just isn't much left for him!
 
Teddy is a joy to be around. He is SO snuggly and happy. He truly melts my heart-- he's got me wrapped around his little finger. He's going through this phase where past around 4PM he would prefer if I carried him around until bedtime. Which can't happen, especially since I'm making dinner. He is still pretty chunky and I'm sure outweighs his brother at the same age. The clothes that Quinn wore all winter are already a little tight on Teddy. So we will see how much he grows this winter and if I will need to get him some bigger clothes!

I'll hopefully be back soon with a update around their birthdays, a post on breastfeeding, and maybe one on turning the big 3-0! Also, I finished 0 of the things on my to do before 30 list. Ooops. Maybe this year....
 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

30 Before 30

I wrote this months ago... and intended to add to the list. I can't think of other things that I want to do... but I still want to do these things! Any ideas would be appreciated... especially smaller fun things! 

 While part of me can't believe 30 is around the corner and I still feel like I must be 22, another part of me is definitely aware of all that my twenties brought me and all they were able to teach me! I've seen people do these 30 things before 30 on other blogs and I think it's great timing for me to take this year to do some things for me-- to grow and to be thankful for all that I have here at the ripe old age of 29! So here are my goals:

1. Try a new workout routine. (TRX, trainer, hot yoga, etc)
2. Participate in some kind of race.
3. Read at least 3 novels for fun!
4. Drink more water.
5. Go beer tasting around Indy. I have been pregnant for far too long and missed so many new breweries opening!
6. Go hiking for the day with my family.
7. Continue meal planning and make a "bank" of meals to choose from!
8. Girls trip!
9. Make a quilt with my mom.
10. Organize my photos online.
11. Have a family picture taken.
12. Go on a trip with Aaron or with other couples.
13. Workout/run with my jogging stroller and my kids! (Once or twice... not always!)
14. Eliminate sugar for one month. I'm completely and hopelessly addicted.
15......

Friday, December 27, 2013

One Year



It's been one year since I had to say good bye to my little girl. I still miss her every day.  Memories flood back and I still can't believe that I went through that or that I was able to deal with that pain. This past year has been one filled with so much hope, but never without a shadow of fear because of what happened to Stella.

 But today I am blessed to have a sweet little baby boy to snuggle when I get sad. I am so thankful for the difference a year makes. And I will always cling to the hours that I got to spend with Stella on this day a year ago.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Theodore Jack Reddington- His Birth Story

I am so behind right now in life. Two kids... is busy. I have at least 4 posts to write, all of my thank notes to write from having this baby, Quinn's birthday and my birthday. My house is a disaster full of laundry piles waiting to be put away because my sweet husband has done all the laundry... and I haven't put it away. I will get to it all... it just may take a bit.... But I wanted to start with the birth story of my newest little man. WARNING: there is a bloody picture or two. It is a birth story :)

 I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions with this pregnancy since around 17 weeks. About the same time I started having them with Quinn. At that point they were very irregular and mild. As my pregnancy progressed I began having more frequent BH contractions. Around 34 weeks I started to have them quite often but again, I did with Quinn as well. Coming into my 36 week appointment I really only wanted to know one thing-- could I travel to St. Louis to be in my cousin Skye's wedding? I had no doubt I would be able to be in it, I just wanted my doctor to check my cervix to be on the safe side since I would be traveling for the whole weekend and standing a lot. She wasn't going to but since I was supposed to go out of town, she decided to. Well to both of our surprise, I was 3 cm and 60-70% effaced. I was completely shocked and thrown for a loop. I was 3 cm when my doctor accidentally broke my water with Quinn at 39 weeks. How could I possibly be 3cm at 36 weeks (Technically I was like 35 and 5 days). She and I talked and she recommended that I stay in town and miss the wedding. I was heartbroken and really wanted to be there as a bridesmaid for my cousin! I wanted to see her get married! But I knew deep down this was the right decision. Even as I was sitting in the doctors office I started to have some back pain. A new kind of pain that was different than the BH I had been having. I knew something was up. So I left the appointment freaked out about going into labor in the next day or two. After checking me, I started to have lots of cramping and back pain along with more regular BH. I was convinced it was going to happen ASAP. It didn't even cross my mind for hours that this baby would be early if he was born then. I was honestly just SO excited to go into labor and meet my son. I was so excited to be done with this pregnancy and all the stress that came with it. I wanted my healthy son in my arms.

Fast forward to my 37 week appointment. I was technically 36 and 5 days. Over the last week I had my mom come over multiple times because I thought I was going into labor. I had been up a couple times overnight because I was so uncomfortable from my contractions and thought it had to be the day! All this led me to believe I could walk into this appointment and she would check me and I would be 5 cm and 90% effaced. Didn't happen. I was crushed when she told me that I was EXACTLY the same as last week. There was literally no change at all. She told me, "Whatever you seem to be feeling doesn't seem to be enough to change your cervix." Basically I heard, "Ignore whatever you are feeling until you are truly on the ground with contractions."

That night I was tossing and turning again with uncomfortable contractions but I continued to ignore them with more confidence. In the morning I got ready for the Mom's group that Quinn and I go to on Thursdays. I was having regular contractions... but nothing new. MAYBE a little more regular than normal but that's it. I snapped a picture and put it on Instagram. I was SO frustrated that I was still pregnant after so many days of contractions. Didn't think that would be the last pregnant picture I would have!

I went to Real Moms (a mom's group) at 146th and Hazel Dell. On the way I called my friend Jess to ask how long I could have contractions like this and not go into labor. She had them for weeks. Awesome. Strangely, she got the same call and the same question from Heather when she was in labor.

While the speaker was talking, I started to notice that my contractions were becoming a little stronger. After about 20 or so minutes, I told Heather and she asked if I was timing them. I wasn't.. but I was sure that they were frequent. After a couple more minutes, I decided I probably should time them. I was right. They were about a minute long and coming every 2 or so minutes. I thought about it a bit and decided that just in case this was real, if I wanted to get home with Quinn and get my stuff together, I probably should leave. I got up to leave and couldn't stand easily through a contraction. I got Quinn and my friend Jourdan helped me get Quinn to the car. There was no way I could carry him and we needed to get in the car quickly. I almost left my phone at Grace-- Heather had to run it out. She mentioned that she was probably leaving too. We had previously talked about her taking pictures of my labor, but she had a 1 month old and a 2 year old. I was NOT expecting her to do that. But she called Christian and told him what was going on. Amazingly, he was able to come home and stay with Henry and Caroline. So Heather was on her way home too with both kids to meet Christian.

On the way home first I called my mom to tell her to meet me at home so she could take Quinn and then called Aaron to do so as well. Then I proceeded to get turned around and add about 10 minutes to my drive and then get stuff behind an accident in Meridian. By that time I was breathing through my contractions and I had a little mini me in the back seat breathing along with me. I was stressed about getting home!

I got home and immediately noticed that I had "bloody show". It freaked me out! We ran around and got out the door in about 15 minutes. I hardly had anything packed but we were scared about how fast my contractions were coming. They were still every 2 minutes and getting stronger each time. I stopped a couple times walking into the hospital but at that point the pain was manageable.



We checked in around 11:30 and they checked me. I was only 4 cm. WHAT!? They considered sending me home. WHAT?! But my contractions were strong and frequent enough that they decided that I should stay. After getting checked in my room, Heather came. At this point I had already ditched my loose plan of trying to go natural. No. Freaking. Way. I was not really having a huge break. I was having contractions still every 2 minutes for about a minute each.




It took me a whole 20 or so minutes to decide that the anesthesiologist couldn't come soon enough.
I'll tell you right now-- Heather is the strongest person I've ever met. The way she went through labor without any medication and just breathing through her contractions-- WOAH. I was squeezing Aaron's hand so hard while sitting on a birthing ball and not saying the nicest words either.



I'm not sure what time I got the epidural... my guess is around 1:30 or so.




They checked me right afterwards and I was 6-7 cm. The next couple hours I tried to relax. The pain relief was AMAZING. I felt like a new person. We were all smiles after my epidural.


 Heather was so thoughtful and remembered that I wanted to make little treats for the nurses. In her race to the hospital, she printed labels at home and bought treats! So while we waited, she got crafty and made them for me!





After two hours they decided to check me again. I think I was 9cm. Around 4pm they checked again. I was 10cm and baby was almost coming out! I put on a song (Oceans by Hillsong United) that I have loved recently to calm my nerves; this long journey was about to come to an end. They set things up quickly.




 I pushed through two contractions and out came out little baby boy! I pushed for a whole 4 minutes!


I was overcome with emotion. My child was finally safely in my arms. I felt so much relief. I could just feel months and months of stress wash away. He was here!




Theodore Jack Reddington was born on October 17th at 4:26pm. He weighed a whopping 7 pounds 13 ounces 3 weeks early! He was 21 1/4 inches. And to me, he looked exactly like his brother. It was so sweet to finally meet this new little life.





I could write an entire post on reflections over the pregnancy and delivery. But in the end, God granted me peace throughout most of my pregnancy, a loving supportive husband that always stood by my side and He brought me through the toughest thing I've ever done in my life. I was so worn out emotionally during parts of my pregnancy, it wasn't enjoyable most of the time. Throughout I just wanted to see "redemption win" as a song I love says.... and I KNOW that God doesn't "owe" me that after what I went through with Stella, but this time, Teddy's life was part of his plan and for that I am and will always be eternally grateful.



Thank you so much to Heather for beautifully capturing one of the most joyful events of my life. Having these photos to look back on bring me so much happiness and remind me of all the details of the day. It's such a wonderful gift. Thank you Heather!

At this point in the story this sweet little boy was unnamed. I still can't believe we didn't have something picked. It's just not like us! But we just hadn't come across something that we loved and could agree on. It would be 2 more days... and hours away from my discharge before we named him. We decided on Theodore Jack Reddington. Jack was decided for a long time. My mom's brother Uncle Jack passed away this year and when we found out we were having a boy, I immediately knew that I wanted Jack's name and memory to be a part of my son's life. My Uncle Jack was one of the most fearless, faithful and loving Christians I've ever known. He also was filled with more joy than I knew could fit inside one person. I have many stories that I want to tell Teddy about Jack. I hope they inspire and challenge him the same way that Jack did while he was with us. Teddy's first name was what gave us trouble. But in the end we chose Theodore for a couple reasons- Aaron has always loved it, it's a solid name that has been around forever, the meaning "God's gift" rings so true for us after loosing Stella and we loved the nickname Teddy. After meeting Teddy and FINALLY getting to soak him in while in the NICU-- we knew Theodore fit perfectly.




Theodore Jack Reddington, welcome to our family. We have waited for you. Our hearts have been yours since we found out you were in my belly. We love you so very much.



To be continued.... Teddy's NICU stay.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pictures: 16-20 Months

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These are definitely out of order but just wanted to get them uploaded! Most are from my phone but there are some new ones! He definitely spend a lot of time hanging with his bestie Henry! And also a lot of time being a goof ball and we love it! :)