Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Fed is Best

A controversial topic that has sparked my interest lately is something that I feel compelled to speak out about. 

I read an article recently that made me really think. The article details the devastation of one mother who lost her new baby because of dehydration. Just days after the child was born, she found him unresponsive.  I can't even go there - but I feel like it lit a fire under me.  She was breastfeeding him from the moment he was born and he was feeding constantly.  Unknown to her, she wasn't producing enough or much at all, and her child kept feeding because he was starving. Nurses told her it was normal, he was cluster feeding. She trusted them and had the absolute worst case scenario. While I know this isn't the norm, it got me thinking....

Now, before I get into this, let me say I have had great success with Breastfeeding. No issues latching or with supply right from the get go. Mind you I had the hell of sore and cracked nipples, plugged ducts and mastitis (a nasty infection that gets bad quick if untreated),  I went through overactive letdown, cluster feeding in growth spurts, sleepless nights and had the awesome responsibility of being the one who is solely responsible for feeding. But, overall,  I would call my experience good. But it is NOT always the best or only option. 

I have had so many momma conversations over the past number of years with both friends and strangers and the overwhelming message than has been taken away following childbirth is the steady pressure to breastfeed.  From the moment babies are born, most nurses both in the hospital and public health present the "Are you breastfeeding?" question in a condescending expectant tone. As if the alternative was equivalent to allowing your child to forage for food alone.  It's treated as a dirty F word. You know what I'm talking about momma's - Formula. 

Having a baby is no picnic, as any one who does knows. The first few weeks are culture shock and turn everything you once knew about yourself (and your partner) on it's head.  That alone is enough to trigger emotional mayhem.  Even if you aren't among those unfortunate enough to get the real deal baby blues, you are hot and cold, up and down,  and many times you feel alone. So when you are EXPECTED to breastfeed, now you have this as an added stressor. And it's a big one.  It means you are the ONLY person who will feed your child and sometimes during growth spurts, its for days on end with minimal break.  It means that it will be much longer before your social life comes back as you can't go far unless you have pumped a bottle (assuming you can) and you have to pump as soon as you get home from said night out to relieve pressure in your breasts (it HURTS!) and to maintain supply. It's all consuming. I did it - and it went fairly well for me after all that. So when it doesn't go well I cannot imagine the pressure. 

Here are some things some momma's have told me:

- Many whose babies have difficulties latching have tried endlessly for weeks with help of lactation consultants. 
- Many with these latch issues PUMPED the milk for their babies and then fed them - for MONTHS.  That's double the work. Hours pumping every day and then hours feeding.  (When is there time for themselves? When do they sleep? What about their mental health and life balance?)

-Many felt their babies were starving because they would scream uncontrollably within a half an hour of feeding and they were told not to supplement, instead to try to pump or take medication to increase supply

-many momma's go without sleep for months because their babies aren't getting enough milk during feedings in the day and are still starving in the nights

-those who gave up breastfeeding "too early" felt they had to continuously justify their choice, and felt like failures. As if their emotions and momma guilt weren't all over the place enough already

-this one boggles me - in hospital babies may not feed for 48 hours because of issues with breastfeeding (latching, supply etc), and momma's are discouraged against giving formula! I'm sorry what???? Maybe there is research to support this but my momma instinct prickles here.....

- a friend of mine with no luck with breastfeeding made the conscious and mature decision to try formula on baby #2. She inquired that while there is a breastfeeding support group, why isn't there a bottle feeding support group? She was told she could bring her child to a breastfeeding group to have her weighed, but she was NOT to bottle feed in the group....again...I'm sorry..what?? I think there should be a momma-baby support group - period. Who cares how they are getting fed so long as they are fed. All momma's need help and someone to talk to who can relate. It would be also be nice to have your baby weighed and have questions answered without having to make an appointment with your doctor, regardless your food of choice. It just seems ridiculous even as I write it.   

My personal opinion to those in power is ENOUGH already! I would bet that just about every single mother ultimately wants what's best for their baby.  Without question.  Not one mother I mentioned above wanted to hurt their child. Sure, breastfeeding has proven benefits, but children who are fed formula are okay too! When did it become okay to promote breastfeeding even if it meant your child was starving for any amount of time? Even if it seriously threatened the mental health of the momma? I think something has to change.

 I hope my point doesn't get skewed here. Don't get me wrong, I don't think there's anything wrong with breastfeeding. IF YOU CAN. IF IT WORKS FOR YOU.  IF YOUR CHILD ISN'T STARVING. 

Being a new mom or a second, or third time mom is hard enough without judgment and pressure about how you feed your baby. I say feed your baby, how you want for as long as you want. You want to do 100% breastfeeding? Great! You want 100% formula? Awesome! You want to supplement? Sure! You want to breastfeed for a week or a month and then switch, no problem! 

We should be supporting our momma's and stop worrying so much about how/what they feed their babies, and more about what we can do to help them with their choices. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Back to Work Adjustments

So I've done it. I've added the title of working parent to my repertoire. After my summer long hiatus of blogging I'm back with my thoughts of how we're adjusting to our new life as a dual working family.

I was ready to go back to work. I missed chatting with other adults, having responsibilities that went beyond diaper changes and heating milk, and I was excited to have things to talk about other than the number of poops my little guy had each day. I had the luxury of staying off beyond the year mark and feel it was this extra time that allowed me to prepare mentally to take the big step back into the working world. My little guy had gained some independence over the summer and is one of those babies that loves to occupy himself and can do so for hours. I found myself wanting more things to do that were different from my usual daily tasks. We had a great summer and while there were some mixed feelings when the season dwindled down, I was more than ready to move into the next phase of my life.

Daycare adjustment has been fantastic, with little tears, in fact any of them were my own. I was okay leaving him, not worried or stressed, but did get a little upset as the reality that I would not be his primary caregiver anymore settled in. I have decided that at this point in my life that being a stay at home mom is just not for me, but I have the utmost respect for those that do it every day.  That said, it still saddened me to know that my time as his main caregiver has come to an end.

After getting used to the first few weeks of routine, seeing what our busy morning getting ready to leave looked like, and developing a pick-up routine, we are adjusting well. The first week back I felt like a zombie most days because getting used to full days out of the house and away from baby were challenging. Plus little guy was going through another period of fitful sleep, that thankfully ceased when we went extinction cold turkey - we gave up going in to check on him. It worked!!!! He sleeps great now, over 12 hours. I'm not sure how I could go to work each day if he didn't. The zombie time was short lived and now I feel rested and that I'm starting to settle in to my new home life and my new position.

Of course there are downfalls to everything - he's already picked up a cold and had a couple sick days, and appointments that myself and hubby have had to balance. Then of course there is the mommy guilt. Sometimes when I realize just how much I love my job I feel a little guilty because I am essentially dropping off my own child for someone else to raise during the day. I miss him so much and enjoy our evenings and weekends together, but I do like having a different set of tasks each day. I know he enjoys daycare and that it's good for him to be around other children. I suppose no matter what we do as mommas there will be some form of guilt for enjoying ourselves without baby.

All that said, the very best feeling is when I go to pick him up at the end of each day. I'm so excited as I drive to his daycare and see him light up and move mountains to get to me as fast as he can! That excitement I wish to see until he's a teenager and runs the other way!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Crying it Out

How is it that after all this time, I'm STILL here? Let me clarify. 'Here' means up at night, listening to that ear splitting mind numbing late night cry that comes back night after night no matter what I have tried. I feel as though I have fallen into a trap of mommy mistakes that I am destined to repeat again and again in order to keep my sanity. Or am I? Have I found a way out, or is it something that I am being tested on and will have no other choice but to give in?

My son STILL wakes in the night. STILL. It's been on and off since he was 4 months old. The bliss that allowed me to have bragging rights after he slept through the night at just 9 weeks lasted just under two months and then things went steadily downhill. At first these wakeful episodes were sporadic, and easily justified with teething, belly cramps, growth spurts, illness, etc.  It's amazing what you will tell yourself as a parent to justify interfering with a baby's night time wails. The truth is, you will do ANYTHING sometimes to silence that piercing scream because you just need sleep. Surely that's not too much to ask.

The problem with that is, once you start interfering it becomes a routine. In the past, sometimes his wails would receive immediate gratification - a crib side visit from both mom and dad, a brief belly rub, a fresh nummy and some benedryl for what we believed to be aching teeth and gums.  Other times after twenty plus minutes of cries he would get some time in the rocker with mommy and a fresh diaper. Nights when it was longer, and I mean HOURS longer, or none of this worked, one of us would rise and drag our sleepy selves to his fierce screams and rescue him from the throes of his crib. It was here we would commit the ultimate crime - I would nurse him and we would allow him to fall back to sleep in our bed between us. These desperate measures soon became habit, because more often than not, they were the guaranteed fix. So we would reason with ourselves. Why would we let him cry for such a long period when we were just going to give in and do this eventually, why prolong the inevitable? Why not just do it the moment he begins to spare ourselves the discomfort?  Problem - we found ourselves locked in a vicious cycle. Then a new problem. This foul proof method began to fail. A lot.  And sleeping with a baby is hard! He kicks. He sprawls out. I can't move for fear of waking him. Now what?

Here's what I know- I am tired of that and finally at my breaking point. It MUST stop.

So following a couple of major schedule disruptions from our vacations where all nighttime 'rules' were abandoned for the greater good of sleep, I have had it with the nighttime waking. I can't take it anymore and (as of right now anyway) am willing to put in the legwork to let him cry it out simply because I am out of ideas.

I have figured out that I can't simply lie in bed and listen to the wails. When I have done that I can't decide which is worse - the steady screech or the false- hope inducing silence that lasts sometimes as long as a minute only to be shattered by yet another ear splitting scream. Both types leave me wanting to stand with my head planted firmly against a wall, pulling away only to slam it  back and forth repeatedly in frustration. Clearly this is not a healthy coping strategy.  So I have conjured up a new tactic. When the cries start, I get up. I retreat groggily to the living room to watch tv, blog, read - do something to distract myself in order to be awake enough to monitor the persistent cries but not in the semi awake state that was my cozy bed. I have found that while this is frustrating also, it is not nearly as bad as thinking I can go to sleep only to be roused steadily every thirty seconds as the shrill cries continue.

There are still troubles here though, however. I have a breaking point. After two hours, I need to do SOMETHING different. When this point nears, I conjure a plan of 'ok, so I'll change him and cuddle him, but no way am I feeding him' etc.  Progress is welcomed, no matter how small. If he cried for two hours one night and only an hour and 40 minutes the next, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. But then there are the set back nights when he digs in an goes even harder the next night for a whopping three hours. Once pain is ruled out and stubbornness is determined as the contributing factor (usually because he is wide awake, babbling at this point, ready for play) you reach a point where all your hard work is threatened and you are hitting that place where you will resort to your old damaging habits out of desperation. It's just soooo much easier.  'Come on. Go get him. Feed him. Put him in your bed. You'll both win. You can SLEEP.'

Trouble is, he seems relatively un-phased the next day, whereas I am a zombie. He's up at his regular time, busy as a bee and I am in a daze, desperate for nap time for some rest. There are days when I feel I simply have no drive for anything extra, that I just can't keep up with him, and how is that he was up as long as I was, but he's FINE??????

As I write this blog I am hopeful for a solution as we enter hour two of his latest wakeful episode at what is now 2:30 am. Wish me luck that I can outlast him in this battle, and that the nighttime wars will soon be over.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Extended Breast Feeding

Today's post is long overdue..Momma has been taking a writing break. Call it writer's block or mommy busy time, or whatever you want - but finally I'm making my way back into the blog world.

As most of my readers know I have survived my little ones first year on planet earth. Among other goals, one of the "buzz word" goals I have heard all year is breastfeeding your child to the one year mark.   From the start I always took the mantra of breastfeeding as long as it worked for both myself and my son and now that he is past the one year mark - it is still working.  This decision is mine alone and I am very comfortable with it but there are (as always!) issues with it in my world and in the social world around me.

I can deal with the issues in my world. Basically I can strip them down to some sharp teeth and attention shifting. He sometimes nips me, rests his chompers while suckling and pops off without warning to follow a sudden sound or sight.  Those things I have adjusted to. It's the outside things that I struggle with.

Is it just me or is there a negative connotation associated with breastfeeding a baby to a certain age by most of the general public? And is it just me or does the media perpetuate this? Time magazine had a 'controversial' cover a few months back of a little boy standing on a stool so he could feed while his mother was standing and posing for the cover of the popular magazine. I've seen it on news reports, magazine articles - how long is too long? When is the "right" time to wean? Many movies make fun of it by having children who can walk and talk sidle up to their mothers and help themselves to some milk amidst judgemental and harrowing glances from the other characters present - poking fun at this in an extreme way.  The sad part is, before baby I was inclined to side with this "disgusting" view of it. Funny how being in the situation has shifted my views, as is usually the case with everything.

At this point in mine and my son's life I am still comfortable feeding him from my breast. The number of feedings, the times of these feeds and when he eats other foods are up to us and we are happy with where things are. I FEEL that stigma that I should have started weaning by now though and I know I have to rise above it, but it can be tough. 

My motto - what works for me right now may not work for anyone else now or ever. I am not causing any harm to anyone (other than the occasional bite for myself....haha) and the message I would like to send - you never know how you would react to a situation until you are actually in it.  Before you can walk in someone else's shoes, you must first remove your own.

I plan on getting back in the blogging game more regularly now. Stay tuned for some new post 1 year old baby topics :)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother's Day

It is the eve of Mother's day, my second officially, but the first one that I have my wits about me. Last year my son was just two weeks old, and things were chaotic in my home and my life. Now we have reached a more calm atmosphere, not totally calm, just more calm - we do have a one year old living here after all!

These past few weeks we have seen so many changes as his personality emerges. He is a feisty little fella that has learned much to my surprise even at this young age how to manipulate a situation. He has a fake cry and loves to perform for visitors, he is happy to empty toys all over the floor and stack blocks, he loves to jump and laugh - he is his own little person. The development he is making is remarkable, now he claps and cheers on demand, he has learned to play peek a boo by raising a blanket over his face and is smart enough when we pretend we can't find him to be quiet and giggle uncontrollably when we finally "discover" him.  All that said, he has decided to change his bedtime around and his night wakings have started again, so bye bye sleep and free time in the evenings. I can't wait for that to be sorted out again. It's a good thing he's cute.

Being a mom really is the best job on earth. Don't know how else to explain it, or what to say to really express just how happy I am that tomorrow will have significance for me personally once again.

Happy Mother's Day to all the new mommies, to those that are seasoned, those that aspire to be and those that are gran mommies! Have a great day!!