Tag Archives: breastfeeding

She Says… My New Philosophy and Review of NuuNest App

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time you know that I am very Type A. I am organized and research obsessively and write everything down and thrive on routine, schedules, being in control. From the minute Owen was born three years ago he challenged these tendencies (as babies tend to do), and since then my personality has shifted significantly to be much more in-the-moment and flexible. Still, though, my structured ways remain in tact in many ways, and thankfully as Owen grew up, it turned out he, too, thrived on regular nap and bedtimes and the repetition and predictability of a structured day.

In an effort to understand my newborn in the best way I knew how, I made lists and charts and kept notes on just about everything Owen did and when he did it. Even in the hospital mere hours after he was born I was filling out charts of how many dirty diapers he’d had, how often he nursed, how many minutes on each side. As his feeding issues escalated I had spiral notebooks filled with notes about each feeding, what I ate, how it went, how he cried, how much weight he gained. Same with sleep — I charted and highlighted and looked for trends and counted hours. As a new parent, this helped me make sense of the world of unknowns I was facing.

Fast forward 3 years to Emmett’s arrival and it’s like I am a different person.

I don’t know if it is the clear-headed perspective of the 2nd time mom or the fact that I researched and documented my brains out on Owen, but I have a completely different philosophy this time around. On day 1 of Emmett’s life the nurse encouraged me to feed him every two hours and to look into using an app on my phone to document feedings and diapers until things normalized. While I stuck to the feedings every two hours and checked out a few apps, I quickly realized that I had no interest in/need for documenting every breath and twitch and drop of pee.

I wanted to enjoy my baby, work on breastfeeding and maybe get a little sleep instead of spending my hours filling up spiral notebooks. I kept mental notes of when the last time I fed him was, and what side we ended nursing on. That was it. I didn’t stress over times or minutes or number of diapers. If he seemed hungry before the 2 hour time frame, I fed him again. If his eyelids drooped, I helped him sleep. If he wanted to be awake, I gazed into his eyes and enjoyed those brief moments instead of trying to make him sleep (a futile effort, anyway). We’re 3 weeks in and I’m still following the same guidelines, with very few expectations about what “should” be happening at a given moment.

It’s incredibly, incredibly freeing.

And, even though I don’t have any written proof, I can assure you so far Emmett is just about as structured as his older brother (eats every 2 hours during the day and averages every 3 at night, poops/pees regularly/constantly). Just because I’m not always analyzing his habits doesn’t mean they are any less “regular”, it just means I have a lot more free time.

That said, I don’t think it would have worked to be quite so carefree with my 1st baby. I just didn’t know enough. I needed the information in my spiral notebooks so I could make sure we were doing what we were supposed to be doing. It was my ammo at doctor’s appointments or when Googling the many, many questions I had as a new parent.

There are many apps available to help document this type of information without weighing a new parent down with notebooks or requiring them to create homemade excel spreadsheets. I had the opportunity recently to give one of them, NuuNest, a test-drive when Emmett was born.

LIKES

  • GREAT information. One of the things that sets this app apart from other baby trackers is that it is loaded with tips and tricks (about everything from car seats to safe sleep to poop) from the creators, Cindy and Jana, who are nurses and lactation consultants. On almost every screen there are tidbits of information that are important for parents of newborns, especially first-timers.
  • Tracking. You can track breastfeeding, diapers, and even things like giving your baby Vitamin D, which can be so easy to forget to do. They have easy-to-set-up push notifications and alerts that you can use as reminders if you want to as well.
  • Baby profiles. NuuNest allows you to set up profiles for your baby/babies with their birth information so you can track weight gain and other details as well. This would be extremely helpful for parents of multiples, as many apps that I’ve seen assume that you have only one child.
  • Design. I like the clean lines and simple design of the app. No cutesy pictures or silly icons… nice for a designophile like myself.

DISLIKES:

  • Entering past/missed feeding information or deleting incorrect information. In the hospital when I started using the app, I wanted to input past breastfeeding sessions so I could have the “complete” picture, rather than starting from Day 2 or whenever it was that I actually had the time to pick up my phone. I found the inputting kind of tricky if it wasn’t a “current” session and couldn’t easily figure out how to delete/change information if I put it in wrong. Note: This is probably user error, but it was frustrating enough for me to check out other apps when I couldn’t figure out how to get my info entered quickly and correctly.
  • Automatic push notifications/reminders. I looked at the app a few weeks before Emmett was born, just to check it out. Once I opened it and started poking around, some notifications/reminders were already set up and every time I opened my phone it said things like “You haven’t recorded giving your baby vitamin D yet today” or “You haven’t recorded any diapers”. Umm, right. I don’t have a baby yet. It took me too long to figure out how to turn them off and they were annoying. That said, if I had been a normal person only opening the app once my baby was born, these reminders could have been considered helpful and not annoying!

Aside from the two dislikes above (which were really more MY issues than the app’s), I think NuuNest is an excellent resource for parents. It tracks only the vital information and acts as a great resource at a time when there are so many new things to learn.

What apps do you use for your new baby?

 

*I was not compensated for this review. Cindy (one of the NuuNest creators) reached out and offered to let me poke around the app for free and I offered to test it out and review it. All opinions are my own!

She Says… My Secret Weapon

Enough tooting my own horn yesterday. You wanna know a secret? I have a trick up my sleeve.

I finally found the one activity that will keep Owen occupied completely, 100% independently.

He adores puzzles, and he’s excellent at them, but he still likes someone to sit next to him and chat about each piece and pretend that he doesn’t know where they go even when he does. He loves playdoh, but again, he can’t seem to do it without someone else to play with it with him (and, since there’s gluten in it, it requires extensive clean-up that an adult needs to help with). He’s never been one to look at books by himself. He has a hilariously creative mind when playing with Legos/blocks, but he still prefers to bounce ideas off of, ahem, someone else. As I’ve said before, he’s an extravert to the extreme, and it seems he has trouble doing anything without talking about it. Out loud. Which can get… exhausting.

A few months ago Owen’s teacher at school mentioned that he is excellent at circle time and when they listen to “tape stories”. You remember those cassette tapes that you probably listened to as a kid where someone reads a story aloud and you turn the pages? Apparently they do these a lot at school and Owen will sit perfectly still, criss cross applesauce, and listen to a whole story. And then he’ll request another. And another.

I had never seen him do anything so quietly, so I immediately went searching on Amazon for the modern day equivalent (CD stories… obvi).

When Owen met Emmett for the first time, “Emmett” gave him a present. It was a HUGE Curious George book with 7 different stories in it, and a set of 5 CD’s where they are read aloud with page-turning sounds. The stories each take 10 minutes or so to listen to. Owen will sit, mesmerized, next to me on the couch when I nurse and listen to 2 back-to-back, which gets us almost the entire way through a nursing session (without relying on tv). He turns the pages himself when he hears the sound. All I have to do is start him off on the right page.

It’s brilliant, really. Curious George stories are a little dated (we’ve had lots of discussions about what a pipe is and why people are smoking them on every page even if they are bad for their bodies…), but timeless. The audio CD’s have musical sound effects and background music and are really well done. Owen sings the songs and repeats the phrases and knows almost every story by heart now. He talks about them afterwards and asks really detailed questions about why the characters did what they did.

And I get to nurse in peace. Right there next to him. Thank you, Curious George!

What’s your secret weapon to keep your child occupied while you do what you need to do?

She Says… Breastfeeding, Take 2

Those of you who have been following for a while know that Owen and I had just about every breastfeeding issue in the book. Undiagnosed tongue tie. Reflux. Low milk supply. Weird nipples. Thrush. Undiscovered food allergies/sensitivities. Lipase. I struggled through and allowed (forced?) Owen to nurse with a bad latch that resulted in blisters and cracks that didn’t heal for months. Figuring out our breastfeeding issues completely consumed me and I was like a crazy person trying to fix things, some of which probably didn’t even exist. Even after giving up feeding from my actual breast at the doctor’s orders, I exclusively pumped for another month or so, which nearly broke me.

Needless to say, once I switched him over to formula and the dark cloud that had been hanging over my head dissipated, I could finally see clearly enough to see that IT WAS NOT WORTH IT. Keeping formula out of my child’s mouth for those months was NOT worth the strain it put on our relationship or our lives.

This time around, the ONE thing I promised myself I would do differently was not to put the same pressure to breastfeed on myself or my new baby. I would give breastfeeding a good, solid try, but if it didn’t work out, I would nourish my baby however I needed to, and would move on. No drama.

You already know that Emmett’s birth was quite different from Owen’s. Emmett came flying out at shocking speed. He was facing the right way and didn’t have a cord wrapped around his neck. I actually got to experience that moment of having my newborn put right on my chest seconds after he was born. The cord pulsed. I cried and cried. Immediately, instinctively, he bobbed his head around and shimmied himself over to my nipple mere minutes after his birth. He sucked. Just the way he was supposed to.

Now any mother will tell you that having a good “sucker” does not perfect breastfeeding make. There’s a lot of work involved. But I will say that right off the bat, Emmett seemed to be really, really good at his part of the relationship. I asked for help at every turn (nurses, doctors, midwives, lactation consultants at the hospital, lactation consultants out of the hospital, attending a breastfeeding support group, etc.) and told each person that although this is my 2nd child, I want to start from scratch. Help me. Teach me.

In the first few days before my milk came in, I was diligent about getting Emmett on my breast every 2 hours. He sucked and sucked and sucked and every time a medical professional came in my room they praised both of us on a good latch. Still, when I left the hospital, my nipples were red and blistered. And it hurt. It was worlds better than what I had ever experienced with Owen, though, which gave me the confidence to keep trying.

Since my milk has come in, it’s gotten easier. We’ve found positions that work. I’m learning more about my boobs and how they work. I have one side that makes very little milk and has a slow letdown. Sometimes Emmett has the patience to work it out; sometimes he doesn’t. The other side makes a lot more milk, but unfortunately is the side that has a crack that hasn’t healed and hurts like hell when he first latches on (even when the latch is “correct”). If I count to ten, though, the pain dissipates and I can actually discern what lactation consultants describe as “tugging/pulling sensation, but not pain”. Something I never felt with Owen.

So we’re going to keep on keepin’ on. I’m getting some APNO (all purpose nipple ointment) to heal that crack, and hopefully that will stop the searing pain I feel when he latches on. We’re also going to introduce a bottle in week 3 (next week), and while I’m going to start pumping during the day to make that bottle out of breastmilk, I’m not opposed to possibly trying a little formula at night to get us through his hardest feedings that are beating up my nipples. We’re figuring it out together, and I’m doing my best to stay far, far away from that dark place I went with Owen. I’m just going to feed my baby.

The most helpful resource I have found on breastfeeding (aside from a one-on-one consultation) is Isis Parenting‘s breastfeeding webinars. They have a live webinar every Thursday at noon EST where you can ask questions to Nancy Holtzman, a certified lactation consultant as well as my personal friend and guru about just about everything baby-related. (If you’re on Twitter, TOTALLY follow her. She knows everything.). They also record the webinars so you can listen whenever you have time.

Last week I wrote to Nancy with a list of questions about my breastfeeding issues and she invited me in for a personal consultation and asked me to be a guest on the live webinar. It was hilarious, actually: Nancy propped me up with pillows in a conference room and helped Emmett latch, and then we chatted about boobs and milk and positions and the joys and sorrows of being a brand new mom live with people all over the country. Here is a recording of that webinar if you want to listen in.

All of that to say… breastfeeding is going. It’s not perfect, but Emmett and I are doing our best to make it work. I’ll keep you posted.

 

*Please note: Breastfeeding is still a very personal topic for me. If you’re going to leave a comment that is negative about my decision to give my baby formula, or telling me if I “just work harder, breastfeeding will work out”, just don’t. I will delete it. I do not write this to open myself up to criticism; I do it to share my story and possibly validate the others out there who experience a rocky road to feeding their baby.

She Says… Double Diagnosis

Remember when we FINALLY figured out that Owen’s eczema (and likely a lot of his breastfeeding issues) was related to a wheat sensitivity/allergy? Since he was 8 or 9 months old we have kept Owen gluten free and so many of his health issues have disappeared. Despite the fact that we thought maybe he would grow out of it as he grew up, every time that we have re-tested wheat back into his diet (under direction from his doctor), his rash/ear infections/other illnesses have returned. It’s so clear to me that there is a link here, even though it hasn’t been confirmed by blood tests or extensive allergy testing. That’s enough for me.

Still, Benjamin and I were somewhat confused at the diagnosis because neither of us have any food allergies (Benjamin has developed oral allergy syndrome late in life, but that’s just a minor reaction, likely related to his seasonal allergies). But, I figure they have to start somewhere. And even if we never know “where it came from”, it’s there. Which, again, is enough for me.

Fast forward to this past April. Benjamin started having extreme stomach pains, tenderness and bloating. At first I thought he was just complaining (which, as a self-proclaimed hypochondriac, he has a tendency to do…), but the pain persisted for weeks. He saw several different doctors, had blood tests, a urinalysis and an ultrasound done, but still, no solid diagnosis. It began to feel like even the doctors thought he was imagining it. The stomach pain spread to back pain and even materialized as testicular pain, leading him to new doctors to rule out [very scary] things like testicular cancer. Finally, a blood test came back with a marker than indicated celiac disease. After a few more appointments, seeking out a celiac specialist (thank goodness for living so close to some of the top medical institutions in the country, including Beth Israel, which is one of the only hospitals in the world with a Celiac Center) and an endoscopy, the diagnosis is now confirmed.

Benjamin has celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder characterized by a damaged intestinal lining that can lead to serious health issues if a strict gluten free diet is not adhered to. The endoscopy showed that his intestinal lining is pretty severely damaged, despite the fact that he hasn’t had any poop issues or other common celiac symptoms. If we hadn’t persisted with the doctors for these vague stomach pains, we never would have found out.

We had been testing out a gluten free/dairy free diet for Benjamin for several months while he saw the multitude of doctors, since I am a firm believer in the impact of diet on our bodies and suggested he try it. As it turned out, my instincts were right again. And, given Owen’s experiences with wheat, Benjamin’s diagnosis almost doesn’t surprise me. I say almost, because I’m still totally amazed at how acutely the symptoms materialized, and how extreme they were, despite the fact that he has eaten gluten his whole life with no issues.

Since we already keep Owen gluten free, I am pretty familiar with what the good products are, how to bake muffins and breads, and what I can and can’t make for him. However, we often “cheat” a little with him (using soy sauce, for instance, or a marinade with a wheat-based ingredient in it) because he is able to tolerate very small amounts of wheat with no symptoms.

With Benjamin’s celiac diagnosis, though, there can’t be any more cheating. For him, it’s not the symptoms (in fact, even when staying gluten free, his stomach pains still come and go) that are the problem. It’s the invisible and undetectable damage to his intestinal lining. “Cheating” now means permanently damaging his body and increasing his chances of cancer, malabsorption of vitamins, other autoimmune disorders, liver disease, and on and on.

Given that 1st degree family members of celiacs have a higher likelihood of having the disease, I am going to conservatively assume that Owen has celiac and work to make our house 100% gluten free (perhaps later in life we will get him blood tested and even do an endoscopy to see how damaged his intestines are). I’ll still eat some granola bars and boxed cereals with gluten, but in general, this won’t be a huge shift for us, given that we’re already more than halfway there. I feel so thankful that we know this now so that Owen has the potential to escape the serious health implications of this disease through a strict gluten free diet for the rest of his life.

So, any fellow celiacs out there? How strict are you about sharing dishes – do you have a strictly gluten free set of pots and pans, baking dishes? What about things like butter and peanut butter – do you have a separate one for knives that touch gluten? What do you say at restaurants or when friends invite you over for dinner so they understand the severity and what it means? Where is the strangest place you’ve ever found wheat/gluten? Just this morning we realized our multivitamins had gluten and we need to find a different kind. Thankfully we eat very little processed food so I’m very in control of the ingredients we use, but things like vitamins and shredded cheese were not even on my radar before this diagnosis.

She Says… Waaaaaah

Remember this? This was me one year ago today. Buying our new car just days before Owen was going to pop out. And pop he did. Oh man was I gigantic! And swollen!

Testing out the new Sienna

And then this happened. And all of a sudden our little family grew.

And Owen arrived. And my heart grew even bigger than I ever imagined was possible. And, thankfully, my stomach STOPPED growing. Because really, it was getting a little ridiculous.

And then something weird happened. Time started to distort.

During those first few days and weeks, time seemed to stop. I didn’t answer emails or phone calls. I was totally and completely wrapped up in my own little world. It took me 5 minutes to change a diaper, carefully wiping around that weird little umbilical cord stump. I agonized over how to wrap swaddle blankets and if Owen should have socks on and if he was getting enough to eat. Tears ran down my cheeks as I tried and tried and tried to breastfeed but there were just too many issues to contend with. I beamed with pride at the little miracle… the tiny person I had just brought into the world. I gasped and clapped and celebrated every movement he made, every stretch of his fingers and little milestone he reached.

A few months later as I got the hang of the whole mom thing and went back to work, time started flying. ZOOMING by. The milestones began coming a mile a minute. He can sit unpropped! He can roll over! He can roll over both ways! He’s eating solids! He can pull up to a stand! He can babble! He can drink from a sippy cup! He’s feeding himself! He took a step! He took five steps! He’s WALKING!

These days, if I close my eyes even for a second, he is off and toddling. He is climbing and twirling and eating and exploring. He babbles and parrots sounds I make and does some sign language. He understands concepts like “in” and “out”, “open” and “closed”. He can understand sentences like “Give the ball to the doggie” (that particlar one is usually combined with, “No! Don’t eat that! Yucky! That’s a DOGGIE BALL. DOG. BALL.”). Or “Can you put the toy IN the basket?”. It is astonishing to talk to him and feel like, all of a sudden, he knows what I’m saying. And it means something to him.

So today marks the beginning of the weekend-long celebration of Owen’s first year. Yes, we had to reschedule his party, because no one was around, but we still have an awesome weekend planned. And there will be cake. Oh yes, there will be cake. It’s got me thinking a lot about what was happening this time last year. I’ve never in my life felt so overwhelmed by how much changed in a year. Waaaaaaaah! Mama’s feeling sentimental!

Owen will have been outside of my body for 365 days on Sunday. That’s a lot of days. HE WILL BE 1 WHOLE YEAR OLD. In the shortest year of my life, he has transformed from a helpless, wriggly newborn into a rambunctious, hilarious toddler. Wow. That’s a lot to celebrate.

She Says… The Great Allergy Experiment

I talked with our pediatrician yesterday about Owen’s possible wheat allergy and asked for her opinion on seeing an allergist this early in Owen’s life. She confirmed my instinctual reservations about involving an allergist at this point. Babies at this age have lots of intolerances and allergies and issues with various foods because their guts are not mature. Going to an allergist right now could result in false positives, false negatives, and a general sense of frustration if we came home with a list a mile long of things that he tested positive for. Even with that list in hand, we still wouldn’t know which were “real” or which he would grow out of, or which were potentially dangerous or not a big deal at all. She encouraged me to keep a detailed list of things I think he has a reaction to, and at our 9 month appointment when they already draw blood for some other tests, she could run a blood allergy test for those specific things. I’m happy with this plan.

But although that appointment is only a few weeks away, I’m not satisfied with just sitting and waiting until then. No, not me. That would be too easy. And wouldn’t satisfy the voice inside my head that asks every day, “WHY is Owen’s eczema still here? What can I do to make it better? What might be causing it? How can I test this?“.

My pediatrician pointed out that it wasn’t necessarily the wheat that he reacted to. There were a few other ingredients in there he had never had before also. Milk. Or molasses. Or baking soda. It was a super simple bread, thankfully, and I made it myself so I know exactly what went in it.

As we talked, one word kept ringing in my ear. MILK.

The idea of a cow’s milk protein allergy has come up many, many, many times in the last 8 months. When Owen was having reflux and breastfeeding issues, I went on a strict milk and soy-free diet to test this theory. While I thought I saw some improvement in his eating behaviors about a week into the elimination diet, we were still having other physical challenges (due to his tongue tie and my nipple issues), so it was impossible to tease out what was helping and what was still problematic. Once his eczema started in November, he was eating regular formula so beautifully that I didn’t even consider it as a possible culprit because I was so thrilled to have a baby who ate comfortably and happily. We blamed the cold weather, the dry air from the heat in our house, the wind. Since he was doing solids around the time the eczema started, I eliminated each thing he had eaten, one by one, to rule them out. The eczema never budged, so after discussing with my pedi, we decided food wasn’t to blame, and to just keep treating the eczema symptoms. Fingers were crossed it would go away in the spring.

At Owen’s 6 month appointment we were encouraged to add yogurt to his diet, and recently we also added cheese. I guess I figured that if he was allergic to milk proteins, that something more dramatic would happen when we gave him more and more milk-based products. But nothing did. So in my head I pushed the possibility of a milk allergy farther and farther away.

When his cheeks flamed red after eating that bread last week and I saw “contains wheat” on his baby oatmeal, I thought I had figured it out. I really did. I thought that as soon as we stop the oats-with-wheat and wheat, his face would clear and we’d have our answer. And maybe it will; we’ve only eliminated those things for 4 days so far and it takes 10-14 to clear his system.

But yesterday his cheeks were worse than ever. Before we left for daycare that morning and I was packing Owen’s food into his backpack, I said to Benjamin, “Wow, Owen’s eating a lot of dairy today!”. He had yogurt and fruit and rice cereal for breakfast, broccoli, butternut squash and ricotta for lunch, and cheese cubes for a “chewing” snack. When I picked him up from daycare, his cheeks were riddled with raised, red bumps.

Finally, something clicked.

I think I may have been avoiding testing one of the most common allergens. One of the most common causes for eczema. The “food” that he has been eating since day 0, since I practically lived on them during my pregnancy. Milk proteins.

New plan: We’re going back to basics with everything Owen puts in his mouth. Starting with formula. Benjamin ran out last night (at midnight!) to get hypoallergenic formula for Owen. For the next two weeks, until April 20th, we’re eliminating all dairy AND wheat from Owen’s diet. No new foods allowed. Only fruits and veggies that he has eaten previously. Please, please, please let this test tell us something. Even if nothing changes, I guess that tells us something too.

The weather is still cold, so honestly I can’t rule out the possibility of the eczema being caused by dry air from heat. The eczema has never spread beyond his little cheeks, so it’s not like it is a whole body issue. It doesn’t seem to itch him like it did a few months ago, and he’s no longer scratching his cheeks and ears until they bleed. I thought it was getting better. But it’s not. It’s staying the same.

The Great Allergy Experiment begins NOW.

She Says… Food, Glorious Food

Eating has always been one of Owen’s favorite pasttimes. Yes, we had issues with nursing and breastfeeding, but eating food has always been a highlight of his day. Gee, I have NO idea where he gets that from.

I recently had a reader (Hi, Megan!) ask me to post about Owen’s eating and how it has progressed since we started solids. Happy to oblige.

We started “solids” super early with Owen. 4 months and 5 days, if my blog is correct. His first food was avocado mixed with breastmilk, and he gobbled it right up. At that point we did food midday, between bottles, whenever it was convenient. I think I started by doing it every other day, and then slowly got into the routine of doing it once every day. For the first few weeks he ate only avocado, peas, butternut squash and brown rice cereal. At almost 5 months I figured out I had excess lipase in my breastmilk, and breastmilk was still giving Owen reflux issues, and I was about to go back to work, so I made the decision to switch him to formula full-time. I wanted to make sure that the switch to formula wasn’t eliminating subtle flavors that Owen enjoyed, so I took his solid food to the next step.

At 5 months he was eating 2 solid meals a day, in addition to 4 bottles, and his repertoire had expanded to include oats, carrots, apples, prunes, bananas, green beans and sweet potatoes. Each meal was 2-3 food “cubes” (frozen ice cube tray sized cubes of pureed food, I think about an ounce each) with some oats or rice to thicken it into a paste. Instead of keeping foods separate, I started to mix and match. Even weird combinations. Anything to change the flavor slightly to give his taste buds something new. Apples and green beans? Sure. Sweet potatoes and avocado? Yum. Peas and oats? Delish.

By 6 months Owen had graduated to 3 meals a day, and honestly sometimes he would not even give me an “all done” sign like turning his head or pursing his lips. This kid could eat, eat, eat all day long. I imagine that if we’d actually kept feeding him we would eventually find the bottom of his little stomach, but I would usually cut him off after a bowl (or two) of food. I started making all kinds of foods to mix with the ones he’d already eaten. Spinach, white beans, lentils, yogurt, chicken, pears, blueberries, peaches, corn. He gobbled every single new thing I made him. There isn’t a single food he has refused (YET!). The mixtures got more and more fun as he consistently ate 3 food cubes at each meal. I could make little “complete meals” like chicken and sweet potatoes and green beans. Lentils and butternut squash and peas. I started adding spices like turmeric, cinnamon, and garlic. They were like little science experiments, mixing and matching and adding a dash of this and a pinch of that.

Now, at 8 months, a new development. I’ve been giving him chunkier purees for the last 2 months to try to encourage him to “chew” (aka gum, since he doesn’t have teeth yet) and to tolerate thicker textures. For awhile he would NOT tolerate chunks, and would do this very dramatic heaving/gagging when a single pea or blob of chicken escaped the food processor blade and made its way into his mouth. Finally something clicked, and he figured out how to moosh solid food between his gums. So now, in addition to three bowls of 3 food cubes a day, he’s also putting back a handful of puffs or bites of bread. Oh, and 28+ ounces of formula. Despite how much food he eats, he never really cut back on his formula ounces (he was drinking 30+ ounces of formula at 6 months!).

I know “they” say that babies under 1 only need formula or breastmilk to meet their nutritional needs. But I gotta tell you, I’m pretty certain Owen would be starving without his 3 meals a day. He is a HUNGRY kid. Lord help me when he gets to be a teenager.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I’ve noticed that his cheeks turn bright red and get hot after he eats bread, so I’m presuming that he has a sensitivity to wheat. Neither Benjamin nor I have any food allergies, so I followed the AAP recommendations to introduce wheat at 8 months (ok for non-allergenic babies). I’m pretty sure it’s a reaction to the wheat since it happened about 30 minutes after he ate, and lasted only for a few hours. But we’ve only tried twice and I am not 100% certain that’s the issue. Has anyone else had this happen or dealt with similar food sensitivities? Did they turn into lifelong allergies, or were they just a baby thing?

Any ideas for other finger foods I can introduce that don’t contain wheat (just to be careful for now, until I ask the doctor about the possibility of a sensitivity/allergy)? Last night I made some mixed veggies and offered him individual peas and pieces of carrots. He did NOT like the way that they didn’t mush up in his mouth like the puffs and bites of soft bread, so I’m thinking he’s not quite ready for veggies. What else can I give him? The kid loves to eat :)

She Says… Get Out The Microscope

I love to fill my posts with stories and pictures and videos of Owen. But this post is going to be all about ME. Well, more like a lack of me. An absence of what once was. A situation I wasn’t quite prepared for.

As of a few weeks ago, I have no boobs.

Like, NO boobs.

Let me back up a second. I’ve always been a small-chested gal. And I awaited the day that I would get pregnant and could look forward to a little natural plumping in that department (among other things to be excited about, of course!). In the final weeks of my pregnancy, however, my boobs had barely budged an inch. My rib cage had expanded, so I outgrew all of my bras, but I didn’t see a huge difference in actual boobage. You know, cup size. I kept telling myself that when my milk came in, they would grow. And they did… eventually. I don’t remember it happening right in the beginning (though, let’s be honest, at that point I had put on about 40 pounds and everything was a bit plumper!), but once I started pumping and Owen was chowing down via a bottle, they really… uhhh… rose to the occasion. Yay! Despite the fact that they were super sensitive, I was happy with my new shape.

When I stopped breastfeeding (cold turkey, if you remember those few excrutiating days) I knew that they would deflate again. What I WASN’T prepared for, however, was that they would deflate MORE than they had grown!

That’s right. I have SMALLER boobs now than I did before I got pregnant. THAT’S something they don’t tell you in the baby books!

Sigh.

She Says… Cabbage Boobs

That title sounds like a bad spell check suggestion… but really, it’s true. I have cabbage boobs.

The last chapter of Owen’s and my breastfeeding saga is here. I’ve decided to stop pumping. I’m going to preface this post with a request that I have never made before: If you do not agree with my decision to stop breastfeeding, please keep that opinion to yourself. While I’m generally very open-minded about others’ opinions, I don’t want to hear it this time. I have thought long and hard about this decision and it has weighed heavily on my heart for awhile. So, please. I have enough guilt already. It was hard enough to make the decision and even harder to write about it, but I am confident that it is the right decision for our family at this time, so I will promptly delete and ignore any comments or emails that make it any harder for me.

That said, here’s how it all went down. I had originally envisioned breastfeeding Owen for a year. When we were in the throes of figuring out the complicated mess of issues that made breastfeeding impossible for us (reflux, a tongue tie, low milk supply, latch issues, etc.), I could barely imagine going one more feeding with nursing, let alone another day or another week. As time went on and we teased out the issues one by one and addressed them, we fell into a happy pattern of exclusively pumping and supplementing with formula whenever I couldn’t pump enough on a given day. A few weeks ago I realized that my entire freezer stash that I had worked so hard to save was unusable because I have excess lipase, and Owen refused to drink the funky smelling milk. Still, that was not the final straw. I continued pumping and planned on doing it until Owen was at least 6 months (January 24th).

However, as I begin to imagine how our lives are going to change when I return to work and Owen starts daycare in two weeks, I realized something important. If I have only an hour to see my son in the morning, I don’t want to spend nearly half of that pumping and sorting milk. And I don’t want to waste my brain space on counting ounces and calculating bottles and thinking about how many hours milk has been out or if it’s gone bad. And I would really like to get back into a routine where I can do things like work out and run errands on my lunch break or after work and not sit chained to my pump.

Still, there is a large part of me that feels like a terrible mother for making this decision because of things that I don’t want to be doing anymore. That’s where the guilt sets in. But, as Benjamin reminds me every day, people make most of their decisions based on their own wants and needs. I am certain that I have given Owen an outstanding start to a healthy life. And the whole family has sacrificed a lot to give him that in the last 5 months. Now that he’s eating solid food like a champ (he can’t get enough), I feel comfortable knowing that his palate is getting a wide range of flavors and textures and his body is getting tons of nutrients and vitamins from natural sources… and they don’t have to come from my body. And, bonus, he loves formula! Once he’s getting all formula, we may even be able to take him off of the reflux meds, because formula sits heavier in his stomach and he may not have the same issues with stomach acid.

The only problem now is how to stop. Since I have always been a low-producer, I thought it would be easy to stop pumping. Boy, was I wrong! Our bodies are made to feed our babies, and it’s not like a faucet you can just shut off. Hence, the cabbage boobs.

Now that I’ve made the decision to stop, I would like to be completely weaned from the pump by the time I return to work on January 3rd, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for slowly removing one pumping session a day, and gradually cutting back the amount of ounces I’m pumping. Instead, I opted to go cold turkey. Or, as cold turkey as I could handle, which is turning out to be a LOT more painful than I expected. I’ve read that putting cabbage leaves on your boobs can help manage the pain and swelling. I’m not sure what’s so magical about cabbage… maybe it’s just that it feels like a gentle ice pack when it comes straight out of the fridge, but I’ve been doing that for the last day or so. I’m also wearing a sports bra instead of a regular bra, since I’ve heard that compression can help keep the swelling down too. I’ve taken Tylenol a few times to reduce the swelling, but I don’t like popping pills if I don’t need to. And even though I’m trying not to pump, I’ve had to pump off 3 ounces or so every 6 hours during the day because the pain has gotten unbearable. I know I’ll have to stop doing that, too, so today I’m going to try to pump even less.

But… wow. It is pretty amazing how much it hurts, and how hard my boobs can get! They feel like rocks. For the first time in my life I feel like Dolly Parton.

Anyone else gone cold turkey on nursing/breastfeeding once your milk supply was established or struggle with engorgement? Any remedies I haven’t tried that worked for you? I’m desperate! But I sure am glad that I’m doing this now and not while I’m sitting at a desk trying to work (and leaking milk all over my nice work clothes).

She Says… Zen

For all of my blog posts “worrying” about this and “stressing” about that, you’d think I would be a wreck over what I’m about to say. But I’m being totally honest when I say that I am not. At all. In fact, I’m feeling pretty darn zen and at peace with pretty much everything right now.

After a few tries over the last few days with my funky frozen milk (we’ve tried it straight, mixed with fresh milk, mixed with formula, cold, warm, etc. etc.), Owen has made it clear that he won’t drink it. Or at least, he won’t drink it without a fight. A fight reminiscent of his eating prior to reflux meds and bottle feeding. A fight that I thank my lucky stars every day that we don’t HAVE to have, now that we’ve figured out all of his issues. And frankly, the smell is so disgusting to me that I don’t enjoy feeding him, and that has become one of my favorite things to do.

So I’ve made the decision to dump all the funky milk and just give him the fresh stuff. I don’t want to spend my last full month at home with Owen scalding, freezing and defrosting milk, being nervous about how long bags have been in the freezer and sniffing all of his bottles incessantly.

Hindsight is 20/20. I wish I’d known I wouldn’t be able to use my frozen milk so I wouldn’t have worried so much about increasing my supply to put some away. Or ordered that freezer for Christmas. Oops. We haven’t picked it up yet, so maybe I can return it :)

In any case, I’m impressed with my new “whatever will be, will be” attitude. Maybe it’s a result of knowing my time at home with Owen as a stay-at-home mom is running out, or maybe I’ve finally learned the lesson that I’m not in control (of pretty much anything!) anymore. Either way, we’re not going to sweat this. Now there’s more room in the freezer for ice cream and homemade baby food!