this Breastfeeding Mom

For those of you who have been following along, you know we have had some major ups and downs around feeding.

I so wanted to be a successful breastfeeding mom. We tried everything – attempts to latch through his screaming and my pain, support of nurses and Lactation Consultants, breastfeeding clinics, tongue tie snip and a shield.

We have resolved to bottlefeed expressed (pumped) breast milk to our beautiful guy and at night we supplement with formula so that I can actually have a chance to rest a bit. This suggestion, from our doctor, really helped a lot as bottled feeding + burping + changing + settling THEN pumping doesn’t leave much time between feeds. The formula break also seems to help Grayson sleep, as he definitely goes longer between feedings of formula than of breast milk.  So the feeding is working. He is happy and well fed and getting big quickly.

I am not sure what contributes to the wave of intense emotion I feel about feeding my baby. The practical, problem solving me knows that my baby is healthy and that is all that really matters. But for some reason talking or typing about this brings tears to my eyes and sobs that catch in my throat.

Typically, I am a hybrid softie and toughie – a true Gemini. Not unemotional but certainly not openly expressive to anyone and everyone. And I am also generally positive, on the whole. Smiles and bright sides and opportunities to learn and grow. Yet when it comes to my new job as a mom, I have to remind myself that I should not be a voice of doubt about myself. Negative self-talk and put downs are not the me I am choosing to be. But I have to stay on top of myself at times to ward that self off.

In the end, I am defining myself as a successful breastfeeding mom. Just a different version than what most people might think of.

At 3w3d, I have set a goal of maintaining my breastfeeding mom role for 1 month and then I will take it one day at a time.

 

Classic Rock

After a pretty smooth day, this evening has been a little more challenging to get Grayson settled.

We ate, snuggled, changed multiple times, sang, paced, turned lights on and off, stood up, sat down, hat on, hat off…but ultimately it was the glider chair and the Classical radio station that did the trick. This time.

I know “classic rock” isn’t typically applied to nursery rockers and radio stations, but I bet I am not the only new parent that has had that gem combo work. I am crediting the point there, even if it was the longgggg string of efforts and likely him wearing himself out that eventually worked 😉

He’s sound asleep. Zzzz

Eat Well

Now that Matthew has headed back to work, I am thinking a lot about how to make the day run more smoothly while Grayson and I are at home.

I feel I have mastered using one hand to do most of the routine things during the day – wash bottles, pumping accessories, dirty dishes and fill, heat and serve a bottle. Who knew!?! So far I have also done a decent job sneaking in short naps here and there while (or better when) Grayson sleeps. And I drink a lot of water. Important things.

So what could make things go more smoothly?

Being prepared to eat well.

Easier said than done.

To make this easier in order to actually get done, I need to think ahead. To date we have been eating well – living off delicious slow cooked meals (while Matthew was home), the frozen meals my mother-in-law generously provided us with, and the groceries my mom went out to get and Matthew has since topped up. All good things. But like all good things, the frozen meals will run out and we will be solely grocery-dependent. I predict that will be by end of week! And so I am trying to prepare the grocery list.

I think we need easy food items that are healthy and ready to eat or at least INCREDIBLY FAST and easy to prepare. It is not easy to chop or cook with one hand. The time between Grayson’s feedings is short. Shorter because I need to pump milk for him to eat. And I also need to catch a nap or at least rest. I don’t really have time for multistep meals at this point.

In my mind eating well includes all the food groups. Protein, dairy, fruit and veggies and grains. Combined is even better. Quicker and more efficient. We may be able to make a few more ahead meals on the weekend while we are both home. But otherwise I am trying to gather a list of grab and go items that are healthy.

Food that will make sure I am full and Grayson is getting everything he needs from his milk!

My list so far includes the following: yogurt, cheese sticks, instant oats, high protein cereal…And if a trip to Costco happens: guacamole, chocolate milk and ???

As you can perhaps see, I could use some suggestions.

 

 

 

 

My baby steps

Yesterday Matthew, Mugsy and I took Grayson out for his first stroll around the block. That followed many discussions between Matthew and I and seeking the opinions of multiple health care professionals and my brother & sister-in-law (who have a little one, too).

Baby steps has been the recommended consensus – for me. So that I can build up my own confidence and comfort with my new role.

Today I am proud to say I took a few more baby steps.

Grayson and I strolled to the drug store and even stopped to get me a hot drink on the way.

Then when we got home I gave our baby boy a bath. My first time doing that on my own. It was a success.

I feel good about how these steps went today. One thing I do know is that it takes time to do these little steps…and there is only so much time between feedings, so small things will likely remain the norm for a while. And that is okay.

 

Miss you already

Today Matthew headed back to work. We miss him already!

Before Matthew headed out we bundled Grayson up and took him on his first stroller outing – a walk around the block. It was a bright (but cold) day and we even convinced our dog to join us. To say Mugsy is a reluctant walker is an understatement, so that was pretty impressive.

Grayson and I have since had a nice afternoon and evening. We even managed to sneak in a nap between feedings and confirmed our place on the waiting list at our first choice daycare. He is napping now and I am going to try to do the same.

Let’s hope this transition day becomes habit. I could deal well with many more like this one.

Diapers!

Diapers and diaper accessories – a review, so far.

Diaper Disposal – We have figured out that there is no wayyyyyy our diaper genie disposal bags hold the number of diapers claimed. Either that or we have no idea how to use this thing properly. We blew through that first set of bags in no time. However, this did result in Matthew making the find that at Walmart carries the arm and hammer brand of refill bags, which are cheaper and smell better than the original diaper genie brand. Overall, I have no complaints about the disposal unit itself – certainly it seems to contain any bad smells.

Wipes – We bought 2 giant cases of Huggies Natural Care wipes on sale at Walmart (we were prepared to price match elsewhere, if need be). I have to say these wipes win my vote so far. Our little guy seems far less irritated by them and I find they are thicker and do a better job cleaning than the ones we used before. I can’t even remember what kind of box wipes we had before (thank you lack of sleep), but they didn’t impress me. At the hospital we used some spray and these plush paper towel like cloths – that worked pretty well, too. One of the nurses said she swears by warm water and a cloth, which I can see being effective in some poopy situations. However, if you are willing to pay for the convenience – wipes are much easier.

Diapers – we skipped right over the NewBorn (NB) size diapers and went straight into Size 1. So far we have tried 3 brands – Huggies, PC and Pampers. Why all 3? We were gifted a variety by lovely people whose babies had outgrown the size ones. My rating so far – all are pretty good.

PC are cheaper and are very effective. The one drawback when compared to Pampers or Huggies is that there is no colour indicator for a wet diaper. Overall, I liked these, but I definitely appreciated the colour indicator diapers during the first days at home because they offered us certainty about the number of pees our baby was doing (a question asked at every follow up appointment we have had. Also, in NICU they actually weigh the diaper to see how much urine is expelled in relation to feeding amount and IV fluids).

Huggies work well to contain messes and have a colour indicator for urine. They are often on sale at a major grocery and so if you price match, you can probably get them on sale regularly. They are also available at Costco so that makes buying them convenient, if you shop there often.

Pampers work well and have a colour indicator, as well. The one drawback we have found is that the mesh-like lining sticks slightly to our baby. It doesn’t seem to upset him much, but it is definitely happening regularly.

Change Mat – we vote buying more than one of these to throw down on top of your change pad. The change mat is now better known as the “oopsies mat” in our house. It’s a good thing these are machine washable because once the diaper is off there are sometimes messy accidents.

(none of these statements are endorsements, just our observations so far)

Followed Through

Grayson is 2 weeks old and has made it through his follow up appointments.

He is perfectly healthy and will not require any further specialized follow up. We are very happy about this 🙂

Today’s final follow up visit was from a Registered Nurse from the Region of Peel. It provided another perspective about Grayson’s health and mine, as new baby and mom. So far, so good.

Each follow up we have had has been thorough, but different. Aside from the evaluation of Grayson’s health, these appointments have provided us with access to professional opinions and knowledge of the resources Grayson and I can access when we are ready. There sure are a lot of resources!

There do not appear to be clear cut guidelines about when Grayson can venture out into the world. Generally, the idea is keep him away from germs (e.g., sneezing, coughing, fevers, unwashed hands), crowds and extreme temperature. We are thinking we a walk around the block might be doable on a day that isn’t too cold, with his proper clothing on. We intend to wait on the crowds, outings, visits to other spaces than our home until we feel comfortable and  Grayson is a bit older.

The great news is there is a lot to look forward to in our neighbourhood, which is exciting. For now though, we look forward to any nap time we can sneak in and making sure Gryson gets some tummy time each day….trickier than one might think, since he sure loves to sleep and eat!

Time Blur

Time is a blur at this point for me.

There is the obvious blurring – where occasionally I wonder what day it is and what time it is. But that only really matters if there is an appointment we need to get to.

The bigger blurring is the challenge to keep up with what happened when, hour-by-hour in just a day. We have resolved to record feedings and diaperings – something we had begun while in NICU. For me, my mind can’t keep track of things right now, so if it isn’t on the paper it may as well not have happened. This extends to self care too; it is currently 11:20am and I know I was up feeding Grayson 3 times through the night because I wrote it down. I know i took some Advil and Tylenol, fed and walked the dog because I also wrote that down. I don’t know what or if I ate. Sometimes I can infer based on the dish or granola bar wrapper left behind. I guess I need more lists.

It’s the itty bitty minutes of sleep that have taken a toll on my mind and my body. This is hard. With the reintroduction of pumping at almost every feed those minutes have become even more precious. The honest truth is, I know I often wonder if I didn’t eat, should I bother or just try to sleep? Crazy what takes weight. I know it doesn’t stay like this forever – it wouldn’t be humanly possible to keep this up. In the meantime, some I have some tough calls to make.

Battle to Breastfeed

Today has been a tough day on the breastfeeding front.

Since our first appointment last week at the Breastfeeding Clinic (BFC), Grayson has steadily been breastfeeding (with a shield) during daytime feedings and it has been going well. Yesterday at BFC he even latched without a shield.

Today….he has other ideas.
Each time I have brought him to feed he has engaged for about 10-15 minutes in total – with burbs, snuggles and changes as efforts to try to re-engage him. Nope.

The outcome of the screaming, punching, kicking and general “nooooooo!” bring dished out by this little human is his bottle to finish eating. And he will happily take that. He eats it up and seems to be quite content. To date he has had no real problem switching between breast and bottle, but today has me worried.

Today’s battles to feed have been trying. I hope this stuggle resolves. Upset baby is hard. Upset baby and discouraged mom is double hard. But in trying to keep perspective, he is fed and he is healthy….either way. Keeping that at the forefront is key to keeping our spirits up.

Postpartum IDKs

Things I now know and can offer to moms-to-be…

  1. Extreme Thirst – Since delivery I have been the thirstiest version of myself. And this is perfectly normal. If you are breastfeeding and/or pumping you are losing a lot of fluid. My doctor recommended that every feeding I drink at least an entire glass of water. I can tell you, I can do that and then some (as long as it is within arms reach).
  2. Swollen Feet, Legs, Hands and Face – I never had much swelling while pregnant, but postpartum I was (am) swollen! My feet looked like I had tensor bandages on under on socks and I had to leave the hospital in my slippers because I couldn’t get my boots on. Glad we brought those hard soled slippers.
  3. Sweat – Much like changing our baby’s onsies, I find myself changing almost as often because I am sweating nonstop, especially when I am sleeping. My Doctor said that is perfectly normal but all the more reason to drink as much water as you can.
  4. Overpack – I regret following the advice of sites and pins that suggested bringing only the essentials in our hospital bag. I recommend bringing more than you think you will need. Sure, it is a hassle to cart around for your partner (or whomever) but ultimately I believe it beats having to have that person leave to go restock if you find your stay is longer than planned.
  5. Bring Lanolin Ointment – I never thought I would be pumping on the birthday of my son, but sure enough I was. I didn’t pack lanolin but was lucky to be given some freebies from the hospital to tie me over until the onsite pharmacy opened. My personal preference is Lansinoh (no endorsement). I tried this and Medela, I found the Medela too slick; it made it hard to properly use the pump and shield.
  6. Milk Mishaps – I should have asked a nurse or lactation consultant for help with pumping sooner (or latching, but they were on top of that). It sure would have been better than hoping it’s all good and hurting my tissue, which may have interfered with milk production/collection. If you pump be careful trying to get that last drop out before you seal the container…my tapping resulted in a spill of more than a drop -,-
  7. Pump Settings – I didn’t know that a breast pump has settings. It does. I was assured by one RN I just needed to turn the power on and go…. The LC later informed me this may be why I was having a hard and painful time as the settings were too high!
  8. Comfortable Shoes – My partner offers the advice of making sure support people/ labour coaches wear comfortable shoes. Although the discomfort is nothing compared to giving birth, the person (if like Matthew) will be standing basically the entire labour.
  9. Slow Cooker – A genius invention that has mostly sat in our cupboard until now. We found a few easy recipes and are doing the fill and forget method of cooking that this appliance allows. Highly recommended.

New parents out there, what did you not know that you can now share with soon to be parents?