Weaning Update


I had hoped that our trip away would help Roo with the weaning process. She did great leading up to our departure and had gotten down to nursing really fast in the morning and right before going to sleep. Because she no longer nurses for nourishment, I knew she would be fine while we were away for four nights and five days.

It was so much fun to eat and drink whatever I wanted. I ate nuts, eggs, drank lots of bubbly and overall just didn’t worry about what I was putting into my body for the first time since before I got pregnant!

I thought I was free from nursing. I was wrong!

As soon as we got home on Wednesday afternoon, Roo wanted to nurse. She threw herself into her nursing position and pulled on my shirt. I thought was dried up and so I told her there wasn’t anything there but she could try. I was wrong! Nope, not dried up! So, we are back to nursing again.

Boy oh boy, my girl just isn’t done. It’s OK. She’s still a baby in so many ways. I know she won’t nurse when she’s in kindergarten, so I’ll let her keep doing it for now.

Just promise me, friends. If Roo is 4 and still nursing, please oh please! Stage an intervention 🙂

Making a mess with finger paints while we were away.

Making a mess with finger paints while we were away.

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Extended Breastfeeding


I always knew that I wanted to breastfeed Roo. I always thought that it would be until she turned one. Then I had a preemie and her pediatrician recommended that I continue to breastfeed for at least two more months for the immunity benefit that breast feeding provides.

I never imagined that I would last this long. From what I’ve read, in the US, when one nurses for more than one year it is called extended breast feeding. The WHO encourages breast feeding for at least two years but it is typical for Americans to only do it for the first year and wean shortly after.

In my mothers group, every one of us started out breast feeding. There are 11 of us. Today, nearly everyone has already weaned or begun the weaning process. Other than me, I can only name two other moms who still nurse at least twice a day. I can think of only one other mom who nurses on demand still.

I am not judging. I’m just stating the facts. I honestly thought I would be done. Mentally I actually would like to be done. My understanding is that once I’m done that my sex drive will return. I hope that my boobs will attempt to return to a state of something more normal (but I doubt that). I also hope that I won’t be so exhausted (more in another post).

Apparently, I am not the only one getting a health benefit. Extended nursing has been thought to prevent breast, uterine and ovarian cancers in moms. That’s a fantastic benefit that I will take. Additionally, it continues to help mothers keep their weight down. I’m actually at a weight that I haven’t been in for years. I’m a petite person to begin with and it’s hard to imagine that I would ever weigh this little again but I am. Not surprisingly, pregnancy changed the shape of my body so even though I’m skinny as all get out at the moment, my hips widened and so my body is still a strange shape. My super skinny pants still don’t fit properly even though I weigh less than I have in years.

I actually also still enjoy nursing. The ability to comfort Roo is a delight and lifesaver. She’s screaming?! I pull out a boob! She’s hungry and I don’t have a snack along?! I pull out a boob! She wants to snuggle and feel close?! I pull out a boob. I love the closeness it offers us.

It isn’t often that I offer it to her proactively anymore since she eats three to four solid food meals a day but she still asks to nurse four to five times a day. Sometimes she will ask up to six times a day. That seems like a lot to me.

What I don’t like? I don’t like how distracted she can be. I hate when she latches on and then pulls off five seconds later to look around and then rinses and repeats over and over. I hate how my bras don’t fit properly anymore. My boobs aren’t as big as they were in the beginning so my nursing bras fit poorly. I don’t want to invest in more bras since I’m on the closer end to weaning. I hate how exhausted I am and I think it’s tied to still nursing her on demand. My body is still feeding two. I need to do a better job of feeding me!!

My goal is to make it to 15 months, which is only two months away. I will see what my pediatrician says then and go from there. I’ve read that kids will naturally want to wean between 2 and 5. I might let her lead the way but I would encourage her to wean on the earlier side. I can’t imagine that I would be “that” mom whose 4 year old is still nursing. Again, no judgment. Just how I feel.

Mommies who have/are sound extended breast feeding. Have you introduced cows milk at all? When did you start to wean? Did you wean partially and just nurse at wake up and night or did you still nurse on demand? How long do you think you will still breast feed?

I’m curious to learn about others experiences with extended breast feeding.

Breast Feeding Update


One of the big topics at a baby’s one year check up is breast feeding and introducing cow’s milk. The recommendation is to breast feed until age one, if possible.

I was really lucky. In spite of Roo’s early arrival, my milk had no problem coming in. I pumped and pumped and pumped. When she was four months old, I was given permission to breast feed her exclusively – though we also supplemented with Neosure for additional calories to help with her weight gain.

On Tuesday, Roo’s pediatrician asked me to continue to breast feed her for at least an additional two months, which gets us to one year adjusted. She says that it will help with the continued immunity and good nutrients. She also wants me to continue to give her the Neosure instead of introducing cow’s milk.

Surprisingly, I’m happy with this plan. In my head, I’ve been dreaming about not nursing. I can’t wait until I don’t have to wear a nursing bra again. I look forward to/dread seeing what my “new” post-breast feeding boobs will look like. But, I also have always thought that as long as my body allows me to nurse and as long as she wants to nurse, I will. I know this isn’t new news to you 🙂

I’m glad the pediatrician is encouraging me in this direction. I love that I can be successful in this area and I know today that I won’t even think of weaning until we go in for her next appointment in September.

In food related note, I’ve been nervous about giving her true solid food and sticking with chunky purees. I mentioned this to the pediatrician and she assured me that there is plenty of time for Roo to eat solid food. She will learn to like it in time. She said its more important that Roo gains weight and has a healthy appetite than eats solid food.

Mamas of preemies who were able to nurse: did you delay weaning until your babe’s adjusted age of one? Did you wean at his/her first birthday?

The Great Breast Pump Search is Over


As you may remember, I agonized over what kind of breast pump I should get. I found a previously owned but never opened pump but never had the game to pick it up because my water broke. After having Roo, because she was so early, I had to use a hospital grade pump to help my supply come in.

Once my supply had been established and I was given permission to exclusively breast feed, I returned to hospital pump. But before I returned it, I needed to decide if I wanted to have another pump available to me and if I did, what would I get: a manual, an electric, a single or a double.

Like all of my stuff, I did a lot of research again. I decided the cost differential between a single and a double was worth the extra for a double in the event that I do go back to work. I also decided it was worth the expense to purchase an electric over a manual pump. However, I knew that it wouldn’t be used very frequently so I choose a less expensive pump to fit my infrequent pump needs: the Ame.da Purely Yours Double Pump.

I’m pleased so far. I’ve used it only twice when I had engorgement problems. The pump worked perfectly!!

I’m quite used to the power of the hospital grade pump so it is incomparable to that but it does the job and in glad I didn’t spend the extra $100 or so for the more popular Med.ela Pu.mp in Style.

New Way of Life


My life since Roo was born has changed tremendously. Life has changed even from the time she was in the NICU versus when she’s been at home. I don’t know what it is like to have a full term baby and so I’m sharing my experience as a first time mom of a preemie.

When Roo was first born and in the nicu, I spent at least 8 hours a day with her. I would wake up and drive into the city with MH and stay with Roo at least until 1pm. Then I would go home for a nap and them return again in the evening to meet MH and spend a few hours with her again. We would go home and have dinner and then sleep and start again the next day! But, at least I was able to get sleep between pump sessions.

Since she’s been home, my day is even less structured and a whole heck of a lot harder. In the hospital, she had a care schedule that meant she ate every three hours and not a minute sooner or later. Now she eats on demand. When she first got home, we stuck with that schedule for the most part because she did well with that schedule and even though she could eat on demand she pretty much stuck with it. I would pump and someone else would feed her a bottle of my pumped milk with human fortifier. Then because she spits up a lot after eating we have to hold her upright for 20-30 minutes. The whole process took about an hour. I would almost immediately go back to bed and someone else would watch her for me. My body was exhausted from being on bed rest for two weeks followed by the stress of having a preemie in the hospital and, oh right!. I had just given birth!!

Either no one told me or I didn’t listen but the first few weeks/months with a new baby at home is based solely on survival. Helping your new baby survive by feeding her, making sure she is clean and allowing her to sleep. She needs very little else. It is mind numbingly exhausting. I has no idea it would be this hard.

We have left the house with her only a handful of times for pediatrician appointments, a visit to the lactation consultant and for the first time this past weekend for lunch at an outdoor cafe, where we sat very far away from other tables.

We have no routine other than the fact that she eats around every 2.5-3 hours, give or take 30 minutes on either side. Since I started exclusively breast feeding her, it can take a while. She can be a slow eater. That means if she is cluster feeding, she might want to eat every other hour and it might take her 30-45 minutes to eat before starting over.

I don’t get a lot done. In fact, I get very little done. Some days especially in the beginning I don’t even get a shower in. There are some days when I don’t get out of my pajamas.

Roo is now considered full term. That means we can follow the books and she will start to behave like a newborn baby instead of a preemie. I’m looking forward to watching her develop especially as she starts to eat and sleep like a newborn!!

I’m dreaming of the days when she will sleep quietly without being held. I dream of the day when she will be able to lay on her tummy time mat and entertain herself for a few minutes. I can’t wait until she has her vaccinations and we can take her out in public. I can’t wait until I feel comfortable taking her with me as I run errands. I haven’t run an errand since she came home from the hospital – crazy as it sounds I am excited for my new normal to start.

Motherhood is way harder than I thought. I love it though. Today, she and I were snuggling on the sofa and I stared at her in wonder. MH and I made this beautiful baby and I birthed her into this world. She is a little, amazing creature that I worked hard to bring into the world. She is worth every bit of pain and sorrow.

I’m sad we lost our first little one but if we hadn’t lost that one, Madeleine would not be here. And so, I’m reminded that everything – good and challenging – happens for a reason.

My life has changed and it will never be the same but it is better and will only continue to get better as Roo grows up! I’m so excited!!

Thank goodness for cabbage and football


Seriously, thank goodness for cabbage leaves and the football hold. Both of those were lifesavers this weekend.

On Friday night the relief I finally got was from cold cabbage leaves placed on my affected boob and then pumping a little before putting Roo to my breast using the football hold. Those three things finally gave me the sweet relief I was needing.

It was wonderful! Then on Saturday afternoon my other boob became engorged. Immediately, I went to the fridge for the cabbage leaves, pumped a bit off and had Roo nurse using the football hold. Again, relief within two feeding sessions.

She has been cluster feeding. A. LOT. I can’t wait until this growth spurt ends because I think that is contributing to my engorgement problems. I also stopped taking the fenugreek since clearly my supply concerns are no longer valid!!

This experience has taught me a good lesson: this too shall pass and as bad as it gets, it will get better so I just need to hang in there. Breast feeding is probably one of the top two hardest parts of motherhood so far. I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be so hard even though people warned me.

Hope that you all are having a great weekend!!

Xo,
Michelle

Rough Day: feel like giving up on nursing


My left breast is terribly engorged and I’ve done everything recommended to fix it (hot compress, massage, hot shower). It hurts so much and she is cluster feeding every two hours and is constantly hungry because she only can get milk from one side.

I’ve taken ibuprofen but it hasn’t helped. I can’t even hold her because my boob hurts so much.

I’m beside myself and I’m in pain. I feel like giving up and just quit breast feeding but I won’t yet.

Any suggestions?

Double Trouble


Today Roo is 6 weeks and 4 days old and she is full term at 40 weeks and 2 days. At her weigh in today, she is 8 pounds 4 ounces – a little more than double her birth weight (my math sucks especially with lack of sleep!) of 3 pounds 14 ounces. She is double the trouble and double the cuteness with her chubby little cheeks!! 🙂

Her pediatrician says that she is doing so well that I can move to exclusively breast feeding her! I’m so excited and proud of myself!! The last month has been really hard. Pumping and feeding her has been one of the hardest parts of motherhood that I’ve experienced.

When she was still in the NICU, pumping wasn’t hard because the nurses fed her more than half the time. All I had to worry about was getting my breast milk to the hospital. At home, it has been twice the work. Yes, I’ve had help but it has been an exhausting challenge.

I know that there will be challenges with nursing as well but I hope that it will be a lot easier than juggling both. I will need/want to pump occasionally so that I can leave Roo and if she doesn’t nurse from both sides, which happens sometimes, I’ll pump the other side.

We also don’t have to fortify her milk as frequently. The doctor recommends it to help supplement her vitamins but only if we give her a bottle.

Now, I can go back to obsessing over which breast pump to invest in. I can send the hospital grade pump back!!! Now that I’m a ‘pro’ I think I’ll only get a single pump. I don’t need the double – unless I get a job outside of the home, which is very unlikely at the moment.

Woohoo for tremendous progress! I’m proud of Roo and of myself!

Thanks for all of your support and encouragement! Nourishing a baby, a preemie, is hard and a lot of pressure.

Xo,
Michelle

Update on Supply Issues


It’s been a little more than a week when I talked about my supply issue concerns, maybe longer but my mind is so foggy these days! Things are getting better – kind of – and I thought I’d share what has been working for me.

First, I started to take regularly Fenugreek, which has helped some. I thought that my supply would go way up but it hasn’t. However, I think it has helped my body maintain its supply.

I also started breast feeding more every day. I pump/nurse every three hours and in the past I was pumping while Roo got her bottle. Lately, we’ve been giving her a small bottle with my pumped milk fortified with formula and then I’ll nurse her, and she gets the most of her nourishment from nursing. I’ve been doing this for most of her feed sessions. The longer nursing sessions has helped to increase my supply as it makes as much as she is demanding. The only downside is that she can nurse for 45 minutes, which is tough on my ni.p.ples.

Finally, I’ve noticed that when I skip a pump session and allow someone to give her a whole bottle feed and I sleep. The solid sleep of four hours rewards me with a really good milk result 🙂

Someone suggested oatmeal and I’ve been trying to eat a bowl every morning! It might also be contributing!!

Thanks for the help and advice!!

Xo,
Michelle

Is it possible?


Is it possible that even with my little one nursing every 2-3 hours that my period has already come back? Or, is it just some delayed post-partum bleeding?

If it is my period – wow! That was fast. I guess I need to think about what kind of birth control I want to use. I’m definitely not interested in another Roo anytime soon. I don’t want to go back on chemical birth control so I’ll have to figure out how to chart while breast feeding.

With frequent and erratic wake up times, temping is out of the question so I’ll have to figure out CM charting. But, I wonder how accurate it is and if by itself is a good way to prevent pregnancy.

Any thoughts from you all? You always come through with awesome advice!

ETA: by the way, after all we went through to get pregnant with Roo, I feel a little silly thinking about birth control but I’m not sure I can handle another one emotionally or physically at this point. Also, it is my understanding that after a preemie we need to wait at least 18 months before trying again to lower the risk of another preemie.