10.12.2013

Blueberry.

This is a really random post... especially for someone who never blogs anymore, but here it goes.

The Heartstrings Walk for Remembrance and Hope was today.  This is something that I've been to 2-3 times before.  This walk is to remember those babies who have passed on, whether during pregnancy or shortly after birth.

The first time I attended, I went for Hudson Graham Ray, the son of Lisa, a friend from college and classmate of my husband in high school.  Hudson was the first time I had ever experienced the death of a child, an infant no less.  This rocked me to the core.  I have never been the same.  I realize now that no pregnancy is fool proof, every life is sacred.  You never know what is going on in a child's body and you hope and pray that all is well, but sometime's it isn't.  Hudson passed away the night he came home from the hospital from a heart condition that was not previously diagnosed.

The second time and third time I attended was for Emma Grace and Joshua Ryan McKinney, the daughter and son of Amy and Ryan McKinney.  We went to church with this couple and were very involved in their lives during Amy's pregnancy and after the twins passed away.  The twins were carried a little over half way through the pregnancy, and passed away 10(?) days and 14(?) days after birth.  This was such a difficult time for every one involved, but especially (obviously) Amy and Ryan.  Amy and I became quite close during the months after their passing.

On April 11, 2009, my husband and I suffered a miscarriage.  My little one was 8 weeks old, the size of a blueberry.  (hence the title)

Fast forward to May 21st 2013.  Callie Hernandez, one of my childhood friends, delivered Chatelle Mae, her full term beautiful baby girl, who passed away in the womb a couple of days prior to delivery.  I took photos for them shortly after birth.  This is one of the most challenging things I have had to do to date.  Callie's oldest son, Marcus, and my oldest, Nate, are a month of so apart and love to play together.  We have had many a "play dates" since May.  Callie and I have become very close in the past couple of months and she is one of the strongest women I know.  The pain she must feel, I can't imagine.

That brings me to the reason for this post.

When we were planning for this years Walk for Remembrance and Hope to honor the life of Chatelle Mae, we decided to have t-shirts made.  Callie approached me and said she would like to put my little one's name on the team shirt.  At first I declined and she insisted.  So, we planned it out.  Our little one was too young to determine a gender, so we never decided on a name.  We have always said our little Blueberry.  So, we decided "Baby Blueberry Downer" would be on the shirt.

Someone at the walk asked me why I didn't have Blueberry's name read aloud with all the others and I struggled with my answer... I don't feel worthy of that.  I can't compare myself to those who had perfectly healthy children to our knowledge, like Lisa and Callie, then to have their children snatched away, literally in their arms.  I can't compare myself to Amy who has lost, not one but TWO children within days... (and later another miscarriage)
Their pain is much greater than mine.

But is it?  If I really think about what I believe, I believe in life from conception.  My baby was just as much a baby as Hudson.  Just as much a baby as Emma, as Josh.  My baby was just as much a baby as Chatelle.  No matter what stage of life, it's still a life.
So.  If I'm backing up MY beliefs, what I profess as someone who is PRO-life, I should feel worthy as well.

And yet I don't.


6.19.2013

Breastfeeding.

This is the post in which I talk about breastfeeding.
If you're not interested.  Click. Away. Now.  :)


The Beginning (Nate).
So, to start from the beginning, breastfeeding was something that I have always "wanted" to do.  I planned to breastfeed Nate, and had some setbacks from the start.  I gave birth to him, he didn't latch immediately, and I had help from lactation at Women's Hospital.  She immediately looked at him, told me he had a "tongue tie" and said we probably wouldn't be able to breastfeed or we would have a lot of trouble.  Discouraged.  Immediately.  Looking back on this now, I see how horrible this was to say to a first time mother.  At the hospital, they made us give him a bottle of formula because he still had not urinated, and they wanted to make sure that he was functioning correctly.  Looking back on THIS, I was not an advocate for my child, I should have stood up for that and looked into another option.  When you know better, you do better.   Nate never truly latched.  Every time I tried to put him to the breast, he screamed like I was literally HURTING him.  Heartache.  So I decided to pump.  I was diligent.  I made a decent amount of milk to start with, but this quickly decreased.  I was upset he didn't latch, upset I didn't make enough milk, upset we were feeding him formula... just upset.  Heartbroken.  Stress decreases you milk supply as well, making for a no-win situation.  When Nate was 8 weeks old, I put away the pump.  Devastated.

The Tongue.
9 months after Nate was born, I found out that they could "snip" a tongue tie.  Yeah, thanks for letting me know "lactation consultants."  This could have been the answer to our problems.  Yeah.  Thanks.

I ached.  I am obsessed.
Ever since I stopped pumping, well, really ever since our failure at breastfeeding, I ached to breastfeed.  I can't even describe it, except for the word "ache."  I wanted to try again.  I wanted to succeed.  When Nate was around 1 1/2 we decided to try for another baby, and conceived around Christmas/NewYears.  I became obsessed.  I researched, and researched, and researched some more.  Tongue ties, supply, demand, anything and everything that had to do with breastfeeding, I read.  My goal for Jackson was no formula.  To go even further, I didn't want to give him any solids at all for the first 6 months.

Enter Jackson.
Born at 2:56 pm.  Jackson didn't latch right away, though we tried, and tried.  Family came in and out, we were busy, we still tried here and there.  I asked for lactation, as I knew to establish supply, the sooner he latched, the better.  They were gone for the day.  Do they not realize people have babies after 5:00????  Ugh.  Nurses tried, and we scheduled lactation for the next day.  We even put off his first bath, as that would make him more lethargic and less likely to stay awake.  I also asked a pediatrician that came in our room whether he had a tongue tie, and he said "no" he looked great!  What a relief!   Meanwhile, I pumped collostrum and fed him through a syringe.  Liquid GOLD baby!  That next day, we did it.  Jackson latched.  That night, he fed for 45 minutes straight.  Maybe we can do this?  What a VICTORY!  I told all of my breastfeeding friends... we were doing it!

Feed. Feed. Feed.
Jackson was a cluster-feeding child from the start.  He fed ALL THE TIME.  Well, that's what it felt like anyways!  He has been a very fussy child, just his temperment I suppose.  You begin to doubt yourself, well, I do anyways.  He lost a bit of weight at the hospital, and didn't gain it back as fast as the doctors wanted him too.  We had multiple weight checks and home visits to check him.  We had to make sure he could gain weight!

Mastitis.
A week and a half into our breastfeeding journey I was hit hard with mastitis.  I cannot even tell you the last time I was that sick.  I never get a fever when I'm sick and I had a temperature of almost 103!  I didn't want to give him a bottle, but I got so sick that we gave him a bottle of pumped breastmilk.  A round of antibiotics and toe curling nursing, and we were back to normal.

The Doc.
Jackson had an appointment at 2 months and the doctor wasn't too thrilled with his weight, but he HAD gained, so we continued on.  I started taking probiotics and fenugreek to boost supply and hopefully boost the fat content in my milk, apparantly I make "skim milk"!  :)  Who woulda thunk it?
At 4 months we were given an ultimatum at the doctors office, we had to make sure he COULD gain weight, or we would have to go through a battery of tests.  Between November 20th and February 1st, Jackson only gained a little over 2 lbs, since birth he had only gained 4 lbs.  This is not typical for a breastfed baby.  And trust me, he was DEFINITELY feeding on demand.  Here begins our struggle.  Our pediatrician told me that I needed to build up my supply, feeding him first, then "topping him off" with formula to make sure he was getting enough.  (As I've done more research, I'm fuming as I type this, I should have just trusted my body here.)  I was already giving him some oatmeal (trying to avoid formula), made with my breast milk, but I wasn't able to give breast milk to that, and to him as well.  At the time, I simply wasn't making enough.  Oh yeah, stress didn't help the supply situation here either.

Enter the hardest day of my life.
Opening the can of formula.   I couldn't bear to do it.  I said "no formula."  I cried.  No really... bawled my eyes out.  Sobbing.  I couldn't do it.  I literally couldn't do it.  Finally I looked at my husband and said I wouldn't, he needed to do it.  It was such a heartbreaking moment for the both of us.  The bottle was made, put to his lips.  YUCK!  He hated it!  Enter satisfaction.  He KNEW what the good stuff was!

From then on, a "compromise"  (of sorts) was made.  Formula was used for oatmeal, and ONLY if he had "emptied" me and was starving for more.  Even then, he often wouldn't take it.

The Lip.
Around 8 months, we found out about a condition called a "lip tie" (in the same realm as a tongue tie, but on your upper lip).  The symptoms fit Jackson to a T.  OH, THE FRUSTRATION!  Could this have been the answer?  Why didn't the pediatrician or lactation consultant look at THIS in his first hours of life?  Could we have avoided formula YET AGAIN?  We went to an Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist and confirmed the lip tie, but he wasn't interested in putting an 8 month old under anesthesia at this point.  If you're not educated on what a lip tie is, it often hinders a correct latch, causes painful breastfeeding, and many times can cause supply issues.  If a baby is not latched correctly, they cannot empty adequately, therefore, cueing your body to make less.  UGH.

So, where are we now?
Right now, Jackson is nursing in the morning when he wakes up, before nap time in the afternoon, and before bed.  Most nights he wakes up and nurses one or two times in the bed with me.  Nine times out of ten he stays there until we wake up for the day.
I'm still struggling with supply.  Right now, I am using a soap that has fennel and basil in it, which is supposed to help with lactation (3 Little E's, y'all), and eating granola bars here and there.  (oats are supposed to help as well)
I've drank teas (that were super gross), taken supplements, etc, etc, etc.
At this point, Jackson is eating pureed baby food (most of which I make), some oatmeal here and there, and we are starting him on chunks of real food (bananas, avocado, squash, zucchini, just to name a few.)
Probably 50% of the time, he has a bottle of formula during the day.  Sigh.
Jackson is thriving, happy (well, most of the time!), and satisfied with the nutrition he is given, whatever that consists of.

Where am I now?
At this point, it is what it is.  I'm really frustrated that in the thick of it, I didn't trust my body.  I was weighed down with an ultimatum given by my doctor and worried about the possibility of my child having weight issues.  No one wants their child to go through a battery of tests!  In reality, if I would have kept ONLY nursing him, no oatmeal, no formula, my supply would have caught up.

On the other hand, I am STILL nursing my child.  Today was Jackson's 9 month birthday, and I feed him everything I have 3-5 times a day.  I still offer my body to him, though it doesn't supply his full nutrition any more, it is still breast milk, and it is STILL what is best.  So in those regards, I am happy. I am proud of myself that I'm breastfeeding him 9 months longer than I did my first child.

I plan to nurse him until he is a year old, after that, I'm just along for the ride.  If he decides to wean at that point, so be it.  If he wants to go a bit longer, I'll work with that too!

So, there is is.  Our breastfeeding journey up to now.  Nine months in and counting.  For the next kid.  Well, I say again:  When you KNOW better, you DO better.  Here's to trusting my body.  Learning from the first two, and hopefully exclusively breastfeeding and having extra!  Who knows, maybe we'll even be blessed enough to donate milk to other babies the next go around!  :)



P.S.  I wouldn't be where I am without a great support system.  My husband, first of all... also Dana, Dusti, and Veronica.  Thanks for letting me ask questions, vent, call, text.  You ladies are amazing.

3.07.2013

Open Mouth. Insert Foot. - Cloth Diapers.

Okay.  Open Mouth.  Insert Foot.  We have switched to cloth.

Yep, I know, us?
I had NO interest in cloth with Nate.  I had a friend named Dana (our oldest sons are a month apart in age) who switched when her son was 6 months.  Hmm... I know someone who does cloth.  I became closer "Facebook Friends" with an old friend from elementary school named Dusti.  She does cloth.  Hmmm... two friends that do cloth.  Nope, no interest.  I hate laundry.

Time went on, a couple more Facebook "acquaintances" (because i don't really "converse" with these people) had made the switch.  A little research here an there.  Still not interested.

Got pregnant with Jackson.  A friend got pregnant with her little girl, Evangeline.  Meagan says, we're going to do cloth.  You're crazy.  No way.

While Meagan was pregnant with Evangeline, one of my best friends Veronica, someone I talk to, text, and spend time with more than anyone else (who is also pregnant) says:  I'm thinking about cloth.  Nope. You're crazy.  You don't want to do that.

Meanwhile, I'm doing research.  I'm in the closet.  Denial.

Last weekend, Veronica comes over and says... "Guess who's switching to cloth?"  Smirking.
I say:  "Guess who's been thinking about it?"
"No way!" she says.

And there, the addiction began.

Veronica showed me a (little bit cheaper and a little less laundry) system of cloth diapering called All In Two's.  From now on, I'll simply type "AI2."  At this point, neither Veronica nor I were set on which "system" we were going to use, but I figured if I was going to jump, I might as well have a friend to jump in with!  :)

I contacted Dana and told her about our "researching" and she offered to show us her "stash."  Cloth diapering folks call these things stashes.  Hmmm.... kinda like drugs.  Well, yeah, it turns into one of sorts. :)
That next Monday (March 4th) Veronica and I went to Dana's house for her to show us the basics, the different types, her likes and dislikes, etc.  This was very informative!

There's a huge store in Raleigh called "Sweet Bottoms Boutique" that I was interested in going to.  They have the biggest selections of all the different types, even more than our local boutique (All About Baby) in Greensboro... Don't get me wrong, they're great.  Since we weren't too sure which way we wanted to go, we decided to head to Raleigh with the most selection.  On a whim, we decided to head there that day!



The goods!  Get ready y'all!!!
When we got there... i was soooo overwhelmed.  The ladies at Sweet Bottoms helped us out so much, and we decided to still go with the AI2 system.  The brand that we mainly decided on was Flip diapers, from the makers of BumGenius.  In the diaper world, BumGenius is one of the most widely known brands, and best brands out there.  I did buy a couple of another brand called Best Bottoms, but more on that later.


Here are our four new "covers."


The Flip Diaper System uses something called an insert.  We use the "Stay Dry" inserts.  These have a stay dry top, where the baby cannot feel the wetness, and an absorbent bottom, that feels like a wet towel after the baby has urinated in it.


Flip Inserts have small, medium, and large folds in them.  Fold them to size, and (for boys) put the fold in the front flap of the cover, and the other end under the back flap.  You're all done!

One of the great things about the AI2 systems is re-using the cover.  This means less laundry!  After the baby has urinated in the insert, you simply take out the insert, wipe off the cover, and put a new insert in.  Takes about the same amount of time as changing a disposable diaper.  (Isn't this so much easier than "back in the day"?
--- when baby poops, you usually have to change the cover---


The Best Bottom Diapers have a "snap in" insert.  This is the same idea as the Flip insert, it just snaps at the front and the back.  We didn't have very good luck with poop with these inserts, as they are contoured to baby's body, and it leaked out the leg holes.  Pee-Pee gave us no trouble.
Another option we have are "pre-folds."  We have TONS of Gerber "old school" cloth diapers that we use for burp cloths.  We can also use these as inserts for our diaper covers, both Flip and Best Bottom systems.  They work quite well.  We have certain pre-folds designated for burp cloths, and others designated for diapers.  Definitely not overlapping those!  :)

Our last option for inserts is the disposable.  This is good for on the go use, or for family members or babysitters that might not be as comfortable with the "cloth."  These are completely biodegradable, unlike regular disposable diapers.  We have not tried these as yet, but I will let you know how they work!


 One of the great things about these diapers is they are ONE SIZE!  Yep, you heard it right!  Jackson  will be able to wear these diapers all the way into potty training!  So, after the initial cost of the diapers, we will no longer be buying them!  (well, with the exception of a cute cover here and there... i tell ya, addiction.)
Full Size.
Snap down to the size you need.  (Jackson is at the second row right now)
All done!
Here is the detergent that we are using at the moment.  Because of the film that regular detergent leaves on our regular clothes, we cannot use typical detergent.  The cost isn't too bad though, no worries.
 Here's the cuteness!  Now come on, can't nobody tell me THAT ain't cute!

 Now, what do I do with all of the waste?  All of the dirty inserts?  That's easy!  Wet bags!
We bought two.  The first is our wet/dry bag that stays in our diaper bag, made by GoGreen Diapers.  This has two sections:  one for clean diapers/covers, and the other for dirty.  The "wet" section is a PUL fabric that does not leak moisture.  The monkey (way cute!) bag made by PlanetWise is our wet bag for home.  It hangs on the doorknob and is larger than the one for the diaper bag.
When it's time for laundry, you unzip, dump diapers into the washer, turn the bag inside out, and throw it in with everything else!  Easy!

We had to go back to Sweet Bottoms Boutique and take our diaper sprayer back (it didn't fit our toilet.) and I got a couple more covers and inserts to complete our "stash" for now... you know, until something cute comes out.  :)  I also purchased some cloth wipes to see how I like those.
During our second trip to Sweet Bottoms, we also purchased a "Good Night Heavy Wetter" pocket diaper made by Kawaii.  We are going to try this for night time and see how it works.  I'll get back to you on this!



 So, what are you going to do with all those disposables, Heather?  Good question.  We had diaper cakes FULL of size 2 diapers.  These WILL be used.  Right now, we are using disposables here and there, but also using them at night.  We will not let these diapers go to waste.  The diapers in the packs and boxes we have?  We will be trading them in for gift cards to buy the boys clothes for this summer.  Nothing will go to waste, trust me!  Our plan right now is to have one pack of disposable diapers at the house in case we need them, or if babysitters do not feel comfortable using the cloth system.

So there you go... our new venture.  I'm excited about it.  I'm excited about saving money.  The average cloth diapering family saves over $3500 during the course of newborn to potty training.  I'm all about that!

Stay tuned for an update on our new journey!


3.06.2013

Our First Night Away.

Jackson will be 6 months on the 19th of this month.  We had our first night away for our fifth anniversary this past weekend.  We have a hotel in the area called the Proximity, and we decided to splurge a bit (since it was year 5) and stay there for their "Date Night Package."  This included the room, $60 to the Print Works Bistro (the 5 star restaurant in the hotel) and $30 to the movies with transportation in their London Taxi.  Since there was nothing in that particular theatre that we were interested in seeing and we wanted to see the new The Great and Powerful movie, we decided to forgo that and save our tickets for something we WANTED to see.





Bread "service" as the waiter called it
truffle fries... soooo amazing.
Andrew got "Slow Braised Pork Cheek" (next picture)
I got "Sauteed Wild Mushroom and Shrimp Risotto" (picture after that)
our waiter saw us with our anniversary cards and surprised us at the end with a dessert sampler.

 Nate went on his first sleepover with his 2nd cousin (Andrew's cousin's little boy) KJ.  They made little pizzas, watched movies, played trains, and slept on the floor with blankets.  Well, KJ slept, Nate might have kept Andrew's cousin up until 2:30 singing.  :)  The next day, they went to another cousin's birthday party.



 Jackson and Sophie stayed with my parents.  I had a hard time with this, much more than I did with Nate.  I think part of the problem is the breastfeeding.  I have such a different bond with him than I did with Nate, though I in no way LOVE him any differently.  I knew it was time for us to get away, as husband and wife, even if it was in the same city, 15 minutes away, and only for one night.






We had such a relaxing day.  It truly was a little mini vacation.

I didn't bring my camera (gasp!) so all of our pictures are from my phone (and from respective baby sitters facebooks) , but they'll have to do!