Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How Breastfeeding Saved My Life

I'm excited to bring you another guest post, submitted by Star a WIC breastfeeding peer supporter and gentle breastfeeding advocate.  Star shares her story of the unexpected impact breastfeeding had on her own health and indeed her life.  I am honored to be bringing you this guest post and appreciate Star sharing her story.

I’ve addressed before how I’m sort of the reluctant lactivist who originally thought she wouldn’t breastfeed.  I talked a lot about how and why I changed my mind, and the struggles I faced to nurse my first.

But there was one crazily unexpected benefit that I didn’t discuss.

Rewind a few years to when I was 25, and pregnant with my first daughter.  I had a very high risk pregnancy.  Part of this was because I was classified morbidly obese.

If you just met me today, you probably wouldn’t think such a thing.  In fact, at 6 months postpartum with baby 2, and still carrying around an extra 10-15 pounds, I’m still within a very healthy weight range for my body frame/height.  In fact, people have been known to call me slim. 

But this was me then:

I was, at the end of my pregnancy with baby #1, slightly over 300 pounds.  Granted, I’m tallish for a woman – but not tallish enough that that much extra weight was even close to ok.  I’m also asthmatic, severely – so carrying that weight was a huge burden on my health in many ways.  I didn’t worry about it until I got pregnant.  And then one day, while looking at my chart, I saw the words “morbidly obese” notated there.

Those are NOT fun words to see on a chart describing yourself.  Like, at all.  Especially when you think of yourself as more like “attractively plump” or “large, but well-proportioned.”  But those two words are pretty effective at drying up denial quickly.

So I had my daughter – by c-section – something that I’ve always wondered if my weight had an impact on.  And then I thought about how I didn’t want to be the fat mom who couldn’t run around with her kids, or was the butt of their friend’s jokes, or anything like that.  And I certainly didn’t want to die young – which was a very real possibility with some family history and my obesity.  But I had literally no clue how to change things.  And I was having those aforementioned issues with breastfeeding and my daughter, which, quite frankly, made life too stressful to even attempt a lifestyle change.  So I put it off.

Then something pretty awesome started to happen.

Little by little, my jeans were looser.  My face was thinner.  I could button jeans that I’d only dreamed of buttoning in the past. 

“Well,” I thought, “I probably just lost a little more after the pregnancy.  No big deal.  It won’t continue.”

But it did.  And I bought new clothes and weaned off one of my asthma meds.  And I hadn’t done anything differently. 

It was 60 pounds later when I stopped just losing weight by existing.  Let me repeat that – SIXTY pounds.  Sixty.  Six Oh.

At a routine checkup, my doctor said, "So, what are you doing differently?"

"Nothing," I told her.  "I think I have a tapeworm or something.  Can you check for tapeworms?"

She laughed at me and flipped through my chart.  “You’re breastfeeding?”

“Yeah.  Is that ok?  Because, seriously, I’m not completely joking about the tapeworm thing.  Can tapeworms go through breastmilk?”

She shook her head at me.  “Your weight loss is likely caused by breastfeeding.  I highly doubt that you have a tapeworm or anything else wrong with you.  I can run a blood count if you’re really concerned that you have something wrong with you, but I see this a lot with breastfeeding women.  The weight just kind of melts off.  That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make changes to become healthier overall.  But this is a good start.”

I took that to heart.  And, yes, I did eventually have to work out and eat better foods and all that jazz to get to a good place, weight wise.  But breastfeeding kick started it.  And that kick start gave me the confidence to continue it.

Star after breastfeeding her first baby

I'm sure some of you will scoff at the notion that breastfeeding saved my life.  However, I don't think any doctor would argue that being morbidly obese sets you up for a whole slew of life-threatening ailments.  And when you add in all the *other* health benefits of breastfeeding too, well, it no longer seems like a stretch. Not to mention the 60 pounds it helped me to lose, it’s really probably not that far off from the truth.  Breastfeeding saved my life.

The author today, healthier, happier and breastfeeding her second baby.

A Note from Jessica

I love Star's story, it is beautiful, inspiring and full of hope and I am so honored to share it here.  Breastfeeding educators have long shared how breastfeeding can help a woman lose weight and recently the New York WIC caused a stir with their breastfeeding campaign that focused on weight loss as one benefit of breastfeeding.  This isn't a reason to breastfeed in and of itself but it is a potential positive benefit from breastfeeding and a dang good one at that.  At the same time it is important to note that not every woman will lose weight while breastfeeding and some, like myself, may even hold on to some extra padding until they wean.  Even if that is the case, breastfeeding still has so many other wonderful effects on mom and baby that it is worth continuing.  Be encouraged that either way you breastfeeding is wonderful for both you and your nursling!  To your health!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Mark of My Own

I have a bunch of reviews to do and I'm excited to start with one from a Leaky I've known for years.  I knew Lizabeth before she ever leaked a drop.  Now though, she's a veteran breastfeeding mom running her business, A Mark of My Own, and caring for her 3 year old daughter.  She also makes awesome apple pineapple cider and is a good friend.

This past week, in the middle of preparing for Thanksgiving (she had 3 turkeys in a cooler and baking to do!), Lizabeth had our family over to glaze some of her beautiful unfinished ornaments and to drink some of that delicious cider of hers.  She had a dazzling selection of bisque laid out for us and we all selected our favorites.  Amazingly, even with all the hubbub and little ones afoot, not a single ornament was broken and no paint ended up on the carpet or walls.  While I consider avoiding disaster a success in an of itself, the beauty of the ornaments we get to bring home is even better.  We painted well over a dozen of her designs and are excited to have some beautiful handmade ornaments not only for our own tree but to give as well.

Through A Mark of My Own Lizabeth creates handmade works of art that are beautiful left plain just as they are or as a canvas for customers to unleash their own creative flare.  As gifts, gift tags on packages, family memory keepsakes or to create the perfect designer touch for your tree, A Mark of My Own helps you bring a unique artistic touch to your holidays.  Lizabeth fired the ornaments we glazed in her kiln but customers that order through her can either glaze and fire their own (pottery studios will make kilns available for a small fee usually) or use other art supplies that don't require firing in a kiln.

The bisque ornaments- I want a basket of these sitting on my table as decoration:

The artists at work:

Of course I breastfed while painting, Smunchie got hungry!

I swear, this was totally unintentional, I didn't even realize it until Lizabeth pointed out that it looked like a b@@b.
Considered writing "The Leaky B@@b" on it but stuck with the rainbow plan.

 The finished product after firing:

In case you're not sure, here is a little information about what these ornaments are.

Q: What is "bisque" or "bisqueware"?

A: Let's first start with "greenware". It is simply air-dried clay, an unfired clay form that can be destroyed by water.

Once the greenware has been fired it is called "bisqueware," fired ware that resists MOST water, but is beyond the point of being able to be destroyed by normal means. At this point it may be decorated with paint, such as acrylics, colored with a permanent marker, decoupaged, etc.

Bisqueware is also the point where most potters will apply glaze. "Glaze ware" (or finished ware) are ceramic forms that have been bisque fired and then glazed (creates a shiny surface as well as adds protection to the piece). The forms are fired one last time after a glaze is applied, this causes the glaze to adhere and usually pushes the piece to full vitrification (accepts NO water). 


Lizabeth is a delightful WAHM to work with, be sure to check out her shop and let her know I sent you.  Tomorrow she is having a sale for CyberMonday that you won't want to miss.  I'm already planning my next ornament, I'm thinking beeswax block crayons or oil pastels with marker... The possibilities are endless!

Squiggle Bug and Lizabeth's daughter Zuzu enjoy homemade tomato basil soup and cheese together after painting.

Friday, November 26, 2010

This Moment- Earth Baby Gets Her First Pair of Pointe Shoes

{this moment} - A Friday ritual from Soule Mama, one of my favorite bloggers. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

KIDS EAT FREE!- Wild Mother Arts

The Leaky B@@b sponsor Wild Mother Arts have a beautiful giveaway for us this week.  Something special that not only moms but their little ones will enjoy as well, Jacquelyn has created something a unique piece to be cherished.

Goodnight Moon Nursing & Storytelling Necklace

"Goodnight room, goodnight moon..."

This is a very special nursing necklace, made from a 30mm (just over an inch) Millefiori glassworked donut in a calming midnight blue, with a sky full of stars and a little yellow moon. It's perfect for early evenings and can also be used as a storytelling necklace for mama to wear as a signal to your child that it's time to settle down, to listen to stories before bed, or for afternoon quiet times. It makes a wonderful addition to your nightly bedtime routine for older children, too.

It's adjustable in length, has strong woven cotton cord and is dressed up with a lead-free Tierracast pewter bead. The necklace comes in a heavy cotton gift bag stamped with the International Breastfeeding symbol and a little card telling you about the necklace.

  •  To be entered simple comment on this post and include your email address. Not required but would be lovely to see, share your favorite book to read with your little ones before bed time.

  • For a second entry into this give-away go to the Wild Mother Arts etsy shop and find your favorite product in her store, come back here and let us know what your favorite item in her shop is.

  • You qualify for a third entry when you check out the Wild Mother Arts Facebook page and like her so you can hear about sales and new products easily by following her store.

  • For one more additional entry, share this give away on a social networking site such as Facebook, Twitter (and be sure to tag Wild Mother Arts as in your post or tweet- she's @birthgoddess on twitter)  or a parenting board (Not TLB forums) and let us know how you shared it in another comment.

That's it!  This giveaway is Runs from Tuesday, November 23th through Friday, November 26st.

For those that just can't wait or are eying one of the other marvelous products on the Wild Mother Arts site, Jacquelyn has given us an awesome and generous coupon code for 10% off just for Leakies good through November 30th: LEAKYBOOB2010.  Happy shopping!


This Give-Away Is Now Closed!
Thanks to Wild Mother Arts and everyone that entered.

The winner is Rachael! Wild Mother Arts will need your shipping address, I will email you.
Congrats and enjoy!


Monday, November 22, 2010

It Takes A Little Support- Welcome New Sponsors!

I'm so please to have found a way that helps me be able to continue blogging and running The Leaky B@@b Facebook page by having sponsors on the blog.  There are a few new recent additions to the sponsor team and I'd like to introduce them to you.

Wild Mother Arts -  In the top far right corner is a beautiful ad for Wild Mother Arts one of our newest sponsors.  Jacquelyn creates beautiful jewelry for mothers.  For the last week I have enjoyed a new necklace similar to this one from her shop, a lovely stone on a secure adjustable cotton cord.  Smunchie has enjoyed playing with the stone while at the breast though the necklace gets even more love during diaper changes, creating a distraction that keeps her from wiggling away from me, I love it!  Earth Baby has this necklace waiting for her first cycle, her menarche, and I know she's going to love it.  Personally, I've had my eye on these beautiful celtic knot earrings, I think they would look lovely in my stocking come Christmas morning.  Jacquelyn, thank you for your support!

KD's Doll Shop - In our family we avoid plastic materials as much as possible, particularly for our children's play things.  You just can't beat natural fibers that provide a wide range of sensations for exploring hands.  Even more so when that toy is a doll destined to become a good friend.  This is why I'm so excited about this sponsor, beautiful hand made dolls inspired by the Waldorf philosophy of playthings from natural materials and simple features to leave more room for imagination.  The Little Red Riding Hood doll is begging to come live with our family as is this adorable girl with cute pigtails and a cookie shirt.

Lullabye Kisses - Leaky mommy Amanda owns and operates this company bringing hand picked natural parenting products to mommies and daddies everywhere.  She welcome suggestions of products she should carry so if you don't see something you'd like, let her know so they can look into adding it to their shop.  Safety products and information on car seat safety are available on their site, check out these SafetyTats you and your child will love.  The gift registry is perfect for expecting Leakies looking for a way to let friends and family know about the natural products you'd love to welcome your newest bundle. 

Healing Pixie - I have been a fan of Healing Pixie teas for quite some time so I was thrilled when Lisa was interested in becoming a TLB sponsor.  She has a shop on Hyena Cart as well as Etsy.  Teas, coffees, and spice blends, her shop is chuck full of delights to tantalize your tongue.  My absolute most favorite tea is her Harvest Moon Chai, a warm mix of flavors that say "autumn" to me.  Not that I only drink it in the fall, I like it far too much for it to be seasonal!  I have 3 other teas from her sitting on my shelves plus a sample of her Supply and Demand tea, a breastmilk boosting combination that I actually like!

A heartfelt thank you to all the new sponsors that have joined The Leaky B@@b support.  These sponsorships help make it possible for me to continue to give my time to encouraging breastfeeding moms and the people support them.  Please show your support of TLB by clicking on their links and ad banners and consider giving them your business.  Each and every sponsor currently on my blog is also an actively participating Leaky, I love that we have the chance to support one another.  If you have a business and would like information about becoming a TLB sponsor check out this information and email me if your are interested in joining the team.

Friday, November 19, 2010

This Moment- Avocado and Pumpkin Smiles

{this moment} - A Friday ritual from Soule Mama, one of my favorite bloggers. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

If These Boobs Could Talk- More Than Fun Bags

I have finally found and understood my purpose in life.  Most people never get that and yet, I have.  And I'm just a pair of boobs.

B@@bies.  Jugs.  Fun Bags.  Hooters.  Tits.  Ta-tas.  Knockers.  Rack.  Bazongas.  I've got a lot of names, a lot of incarnations, and a whole lot of varieties.  Breasts, no matter what you call me, pretty much every woman has me front and at least sort of center on her chest. Perky, droopy, apples, melons, socks with rocks, long, full, short, floppy and everything in between, I've been bouncing along for as long as humans have traipsed around this planet.  Which is a long time.  But every woman has to figure out what to do with me at one point or another and it isn't always easy.  It has been vogue at various times of history to leave me free and unfettered under clothing, to push me up and out, to bind me tight and flat, to pierce me, paint me, hide me and flaunt me.  In some cultures I'm always out and open, others I'm so revered I'm covered yet a peek is desperately sought so much so there are men that will even pay money for it.

Before they have their own pair, every little girl at least notices that the adult version of herself has some sort of extra padding on her chest, something her male counterparts do not have.  These chest pillows are fascinating and in today's western cultures a bit of an obsession.  As little girls grow they start experimenting with what they'd look like with soft round growths on their chest.  I am the mark of woman.  Not alone in that responsibility, I share the distinction of being uniquely feminine with the female pelvis and vagina.  With the exception of man-boobs.  But for everyone's comfort, we'll pretend those don't exist, anywhere.  Ever.  Before I begin to develop on immature females, they play that I am there just because it is synonymous with playing a grown-up.

Then they sprout their own pair, slowly or quickly breasts eventually appear.  Confusing feelings mingle with my advent on a changing girl's chest.  Pride and excitement about becoming a woman collide with embarrassment and a desire to stay a care-free child.  Eventually she learns that in western cultures breasts equal a certain kind of power, one she may not be comfortable wielding or one that is wielded against her.  Her breasts may feel like a burden regardless of their size or like a defining part of her personhood that she can use to her advantage.

As for me, I was just an average pair of smallish boobs, situated on a small framed woman that often wished I was bigger.  To make matters worse, one of my nipples was a split nipple, malformed and strange looking.  Her dissatisfaction with my size and shape led to uncomfortable bras to pad me out and push me up and I endured criticism every time she looked at me in a mirror.  No matter what I did, what I wore or how I participated in lovemaking, fashion and life she was unhappy with me.  She never knew what to do with me and I never knew what to do with myself.  I was inadequate.

Until one day.  There had been change, I had grown recently but she still wasn't satisfied, now I managed to be too big or too... something.  No matter what I wasn't good enough.  My bigger size included painful growing and she was distracted by other physical changes that were apparently far more important than me, the neglected, the unloved ones.  That is until that day.  The uterus and vagina, in one of their greatest moments of achievement produced a baby.  As the placenta left the uterus I got a signal, one that changed me forever: feed baby now.  I had already been producing a golden yellow liquid for which I saw no purpose and caused her even further disgust in me but when that baby came out and was placed on the belly, I knew.  Arms drew this small person close and the baby's mouth immediately began searching for something: me.

In no time it became clear that I was this baby's favorite thing in the world.  Every chance she got she latched on to me.  She loved me.  She didn't care if I was perky or sagging, smooth skinned or flecked with red stretch marks, if I had large or tiny nipples, or even that one nipple wasn't quite right.  She had a special sign for me, and that was the first sign she ever used.  It took us some time, the 2 or really 3 of us, but it was really just getting used to each other and figuring out how this works.  There were some rough moments, a few tears and frustrated words but we got it, we worked it out.  We had to.  Because this was what we were made for.

Now I have a position of respect and I am celebrated.  Five babies now have been nourished by me, have searched for me in their sleep, patted me as they suckled and asked for me by their special name.  I have comforted a small one hundreds of times over when nothing else would do.  Through me has flowed the healing power of sweet milk custom made for the baby whose mouth opened expectantly.  Small cheeks have rested on me in slumber after I have satiated their hunger and their need to be warm and close.  When I am seen in the mirror I am viewed sometimes critically but always with appreciation and I am treated tenderly.  My purpose is clear, everything else I do is nice and I enjoy a full and active life but nothing has fulfilled me as much as feeding a baby. 

Some day this job will be done and I will no longer feed babies.  I am ok with this; for when one finds and understands their purpose and the time in which it is served, one can accept when that time is over, satisfied in having discovered and served a purpose at all.  Knowing that I was more than an inadequate pair of fun bags and meant the world to 5 little girls is enough for me.

Not every pair of breasts will find their purpose the same way I did but I hope more and more do.  It doesn't matter what you call me, what I'm dressed in, what society says I'm supposed to look like or what my role is, I'm happy.  I have been appreciated, loved and enjoyed for who I really am.

P.S. I love this video.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Letter to Mommies and Daddies About Sleep

Dear Mommies and Daddies,

Some time ago I saw a promotion for a breastmilk substitute that will help your baby sleep through the night.  Sounds like magic, right?  According to the formula maker's website  (I kind of hate to link to it) this product is "Designed to gently thicken in baby's tummy and digests slowly for a natural way to help keep baby feeling satisfied."  Doesn't that sound so perfect?  If their dinner gently thickens in their tummy as they are sleeping, they won't feel hungry and won't wake up to eat and you, mom and dad, might actually get to sleep through the night!  Hallelujah!  Parents everywhere rejoice, you don't have to be sleep deprived!

Wait a second; gently thickens in their tummy?  What does that even mean?

It means that there is a thickening agent in this product that actually bulks up the longer it is in your little one's tummy causing an artificial feeling of fullness, blocking the trigger between the tummy and the brain that says "WAKE UP!  We need more nutrients, more energy, more food so start crying and get those big people to fill us up again!"  While normal infant nutrition (AKA breastmilk) breaks down quickly making it easy for the body to absorb all it's nutrients and make quick use of the fuel needed to, well, grow, this product will keep junior feeling full hopefully for the entire night.  So with this stuff sitting in their tummies getting thicker they won't get the signal that they need more nutrients and fuel for growing, instead, maybe they will actually let mommy and daddy get some decent shut-eye.  Instead of waking their parents to feed them they'll sleep right through the times when they need to eat!  YAY!

How the heck can that be good?

If your baby is waking often at night to feed it is because he/she needs to, needs the comfort, needs the nutrition, needs you and needs to wake up. I know it is hard but you can do this without filling your baby's tummy with nutritionally empty fillers so you can get more sleep.  Babies that sleep through the night have an increased risk for SIDS. A baby that wakes often avoids staying long in the deepest part of their sleep cycle where they are mostly likely to stop breathing.  The baby that wakes often is the one most likely to wake up at all.  Read more about that from Dr. William Sears in New Beginnings, Vol. 16 No. 3, May-June 1999, pp. 68-70.  Please note that I'm not saying it is a guarantee, just an increase in risk for babies that sleep through the night.

I get wanting a good night's sleep, I really do.  When you're just so tired that you feel sick, on the brink of going crazy and you would do just about anything for a nap.  When you worry that you can't be a good parent, spouse, worker, friend or anything else and you question if you should even be driving or left alone with your baby due to the overwhelming fatigue.  In those times you need to get help, explore co-sleeping or bedsharing, get a sitter, take shifts but ask for help when you feel that tired.  And hear this, it will get better. Some day, not as far away as you might think, you will look back and vaguely remember the sleep deprivation like a bad dream during one of the most beautiful times of your life.  You know this already but I have to say it anyway: there are more important things than sleeping through the night. By all means, if it seems as if something is wrong such as your baby behaving as though they are in pain, then have your baby checked out and get her/him real help but don't mask a potential problem with an artificially full tummy. Eventually they will stop waking so often and you will get the sleep you so desperately need.


Another Sleep deprived mommy,
The Leaky B@@b

This Moment- Bath Time

{this moment} - A Friday ritual from Soule Mama, one of my favorite bloggers. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.  This week's photo was taken on my iPhone using the Hipstamatic App.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Tale of Two Preemies

Leanne shares her story of journeying through her own physical problems and then her preemie daughters.  The differences in hospitals dedicated to getting human babies human milk is highlighted in this touching story of struggling to get preemies the milk they so desperately need.  I am honored to be bringing you this guest post and appreciate Leanne sharing her story.  Leanne has a personal blog, No Spelling Required, and she would love for you to come say hi.

I believe that sometimes we, as humans, go against what is or should be possible.  I am a prime example of that.  Genetics has not been kind in my family.  I've survived three genetic illnesses that are incurable.  Two being autoimmune.  Silent diseases that no one else can see, but I can always feel.  I was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes when I was barely 5 years old.  At the age of 17 I was then diagnosed with Grave's thyroid disease.  5 years later I had a secondary diagnosis of Fibromyalgia.  It's been proven that people who suffer from one genetic, autoimmune disorder often suffer from another at some point in their life.  I was also a rare case with the Grave's Disease because of my young age when it happened.  Most people who get thyroid disease don't get it until they are into their 40's and 50's.    The Diabetes I've always been able to deal well with.  The other two illnesses, on the other hand, have wreaked a lot of havoc on my life, making me sick for years on end and also causing problems with my two beautiful girls.

My first had breathing problems due to being born early and having underdeveloped lungs.  She spent about two weeks in the NICU back in '96 when she was born.  Surprisingly enough, she came out of it with flying colors even through the horrid radiation treatment I received while I was pregnant with her.  Her only mishap being that she had a heart murmur which had resolved itself by the time she was 6 months old.

Breastfeeding with Jordan was short lived.  The hospital at the time had taken total control of her feeding "schedule" and immediately put a bottle into her mouth when she was no longer feeding from her IV alone.  I never even had a chance to latch her on once.  This is the happenings of hospitals bought out by formula companies.  I tried repeatedly to get her to latch on and gave up quickly with lack of proper support and knowledge at the time to do much more to help her become used to breastfeeding.  I pumped for a few weeks afterward and still felt it was useless because of how little I was able to produce at the time.  Our entire breastfeeding relationship had been sabotaged right from the beginning.  I was only 20 years old at the time and did exactly what I thought every mom eventually did anyway and of course started her immediately on formula.  I regret every day that I didn't have the information I do now.  I would have made sure I succeeded at the one gift I could have given her that was so very important.  

After Jordan was born, I had also decided I didn't want to ever try for another baby as well.  I felt like I had been through enough with her to have her be my only little star.  In 2006 I knew I was never going to have more children and did something that, at the time, felt very right for me and had breast reduction surgery.  At 5 ft. even and being a DD bra size, it was way too much for me and I wanted to finally be comfortable, therefore I went through it.  For 3 years I was in love with myself all over again and felt great!  Little did I know that last Christmas I had a small gift in the beginning stages of pregnancy starting.  I found out two days before Christmas day that I was pregnant with my second daughter!  I just about went through the roof when we found out.  My first baby was now 13 years old!  I had not expected this ever.  Fate had different plans for me than to be only a mother of one though.

After the initial shock wore off, I spent many of my months of pregnancy doing a lot of homework, joining online mommy groups, and studying up on how I was going to attempt breastfeeding again after my reduction.  I dove into this feet first and learned how much things had changed.   I had the internet this time around to guide me and boy did I ever utilize this ability!  The thought of donor milk and milk banks had crossed my mind after learning about them, in case I couldn't produce enough.  I expected not to produce enough, but was adamant to make sure I was able to at least breastfeed a little this time around. Little did I know at the time how expensive buying breast milk was!  

Sam and I ended up have little Zoe almost 7 weeks early because of my illnesses.  Once again, I had another baby in the NICU.  Only this time with many more problems and a much more intense situation.  Zoe was born with thyroid issues as well.  She was another very rare case.  Something that almost NEVER happens to babies of women with thyroid disease did indeed happen to her and I.  The antibodies that I still carry in my body, even after treatment, had crossed over the placenta and started attacking her thyroid gland.  This is only supposed to happen with a woman who is actively hyperthyroid while being pregnant.  I was not.  My thyroid function has actually gone deeply the opposite way.  I can no longer produce thyroid hormone at all on my own due to I-131 radiation treatment I had received during my first pregnancy.  The case of this happening runs at only a 2% chance that the baby will be affected.  That would mean about 1 in 25,000 babies would be born with Neonatal Thyrotoxicosis like Zoe was born with.  The fact I was no longer hyper with my thyroid function makes this almost an anomaly type of situation as well and that much more of a rare case!

Zoe ended up spending a little over a month in the hospital to take care of these issues with her.  My heart just aches for her and what she went through prior to being born and after as well.  I remember having Thyroid Storm myself, and feeling like I was having a heart attack during the entire thing.  The anxiety it creates, the rapid heart rate, palpitations, loss of hair, and weight, all things I remember all too well.  To have to endure this when not even born yet, and have it affect you so badly your heart stops at birth as well as your breathing, it is so painful to my heart to know she had to go through this.  It is painful to never know how a normal birth would have been for her or my oldest either.  

The one wonderful thing about the hospital we had Zoe in was the milk banking they did.  Huge amounts of stored breast milk donated by local mothers for all these NICU babies!  I was petrified that I'd again be doomed to have to deal with formula pushers, especially after my previous experience.  This time I came in knowing exactly what I didn't want though!  I knew I wanted to breastfeed her exclusively for as long as I possibly could.  I knew I'd probably have to supplement, but I wanted to her to have MY milk first and foremost!  The hospital agreed!  I was so shocked when the doctor started trying to talk me into signing the consent form to have donated milk given to her.  I think I shocked him as well by grabbing his pen and signing the form before he even had a chance to finish what he wanted to tell me.  The lactation consultants were also amazing.  They knew the hard road that Zoe and I were facing with trying to produce enough milk after reduction.  They did everything they could to keep me going with pumping for her while she was in the NICU and when she was finally able to start latching on, they continued with the amazement.  Everything under the sun was tried to make this work for her and I including giving me my own SNS to supplement her with.  The consultants, nurses, and doctors were all so diligent in helping us succeed in this.  Zoe exclusively breastfed for a full month as well as she was on the donor milk.  I will be thankful every day for having that hospital staff during her traumatic birth just for the fact that they were so supportive of all our needs and wants.

I eventually gave them the go ahead to start bottle feeding her my pumped milk as well when I could not be there for all of her feedings.  As much as we mothers would love to move into the NICU with our babies, that's just not reality and there were times I had to go home too.  Nipple confusion amongst young babies happens very quickly.  It did indeed happen again in our case as well.  I'm OK with this though.  I had a choice to make, either feed my baby so she can go home with me finally, or salvage a breastfeeding relationship while she continues to be fed through her NG tube.  You can imagine what my choice was immediately.  I did choose the easier way out.  I wanted her to be home with us, not stuck in the hospital for a longer period of time.  I will not regret it.  She did so well breastfeeding even only for the 5 to 10 minutes intervals that she did in her first month.  For such a little baby, that is hard work!  Born at 4 lbs. 9 oz. and weighing just over 5 lbs. when she was finally able to go home, I was so proud of her for trying so hard.

I continued to pump when I got her home.  Eventually it became too frustrating for me to pump like crazy and only get, on average, 10 ml for both sides.  I was taking Reglan from the doctors, Fenugreek, and eating oatmeal like crazy.  I would produce the milk and become engorged like a mad woman, but never be able to get anything more than tiny bits at a time.  Throughout a 24 hour period I'd pump just barely enough to fill a full 4 oz. bottle.  It was too stressful at the time to continue to do this.  I did give up completely.  However,  I was then on the search for a donor.  Two weeks ago I finally found the lady for my little girl!  A woman who had donated before to an adoptive mom and is willing to donate to Zoe all the extra that she gets.  She fills her freezer up, and I come when she calls and take it off her hands.  It's an amazing, beautiful gift that this lady has give Zoe and I and I could never be thankful enough to find someone like her to help us.  It takes someone so very special to be able to part with something so personal such as breast milk.  I am completely amazed every time I meed such a selfless person in my life such as this lady.  She gives such a precious gift to my little girl of her own free will.  For that, I am just plain thankful, again amazed, and completely honored.

Through all of this, and with the help of everyone who has in the past few months given so much to us, we are coming out on top.  The antibodies of mine that invaded Zoe's tiny little body are finally starting to die off.  Hopefully by the time she is 6 months old they will completely die.  Until then, we will continue to care for her special needs and delicate situation.  The amazing people who have joined us in keeping up with what's best for her will never ever be forgotten, even when I grow old, I will always remember.  Zoe may not, but I will always be forever thankful!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

All in a days eating- Guest Post on 3 Moms and a Kitchen

I like food.  A lot.  With a family of 7 we eat a lot of it too.  Fortunately, though you may think all I do is talk about breastfeeding, I cook and I enjoy it... most of the time.  So I was honored to be asked to guest post over at 3 Moms and a Kitchen this week.  Since I couldn't pick a recipe to feature I decided to do a sampling in a day's worth of cooking for our family.  One of my favorite breakfast recipes that's done and ready to eat when you wake up, an iron boosting, protein packed dip for snack, a carrot salad that's a hit with our entire family, and a dinner straight from France, these are recipes are a big hit every time.  Hope you enjoy!

Friday, November 5, 2010

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual from Soule Mama, one of my favorite bloggers. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

Wishing everyone a lovely weekend!

Related Posts with Thumbnails