Thursday, September 29, 2011

Seven week update

Today Emma is seven weeks old.  She is growing and getting substantially stronger, and I love feeding her.  She eats with gusto.  I still only produce about 30 mL (one ounce) of breast milk at one feeding, which amounts to about one cup per day, but I feel that it has increased a little, by about five mL each time, over the past two days, so I am happy and looking forward to it increasing even more.  I know that I will likely never be able to exclusively breastfeed, but I feel that Emma and myself can call our breastfeeding journey an absolute success.  Given what I had, which was a very limited breast milk supply, a willing baby, a lot of patience, and the random finding of the SNS idea in a book, we have struggled and made it work on autopilot.  And we are both very happy, Emma because she is getting fed and she has her boob to put her to sleep and comfort her, and me because I get to bond with her in this very special way, and I have a powerful tool available to calm her down instantly.  Plus I have enough milk to soothe her if I even get caught out of the house without the SNS/formula.  

I had some worries about the soy formula, mostly after reading on various websites that its safety has been questioned in Europe (due to the phytoestrogens and also to the higher amount of manganese which can get accumulated in babies).  So far however, she is doing so very well on it that it is hard for me to justify switching her to something else, especially since many many people have done well on soy despite the current concerns.  Soy formulas have been around since the 1960's, and I think if something were terribly wrong with them, we'd have known it by now.  I am occasionally tempted to try the lactose-free formulas, but I suspect that she is allergic to the cow milk protein, since her skin broke out in such a bad rash, which cleared almost completely since the soy.  Again, I must make the best decision that I can given the circumstances, and after asking a pediatrician friend about it and being advised that it is considered safe, I will keep her on it.  If any of my readers have been on soy or put their kids on soy formula, please comment, for some reason it makes me feel better to know that I am not the only one that has made this decision. 

Emma is a very happy, very easy baby.  She cries only if hungry, and that is easily rectified.  She is finally starting to like the car rides, thank God, because so far we were avoiding the car like the plague since it was one big screaming match.  Now we are doing very well.  She loves to bath, and has a great time on Saturdays when we bath with her in the big tub.  I only use infant body wash on her once a week, usually on this occasion.  The rest of the week I find that baby poo and spit up are very much water soluble and do not require soap to clean.  And I swear she smells good :)

For myself, I have started to exercise again quite seriously.  I use the elliptical trainer for 20-30 minutes a day, or I run 4-5 km on the indoor track while pushing the stroller.  (I don't have a jogging stroller, but the Stokke is very good on the rubber track, it maneuvers easily, and it has a car seat adapter, so I use the car seat with a sleeping Emma in it).  I also hike daily for one hour in a nearby forest.  In the evenings, when MrH is home and I can do my strength exercises, I do whole body stuff like burpees, pushups, planks, medicine ball exercises, step ups on a bench, jump squats and general plyometrics.  I have found a great website with workouts already created,, and am following one workout daily, or I create my own.  I used to be very fit, and am now struggling to do pushups, or the wheel (bridge) in yoga, or generally anything that requires upper body strength.  I am improving though, and it makes it easier to do daily tasks like carrying laundry or lifting the stroller into the car.  But I am about six months from where I used to be.  I have to hold myself back and try to increase slowly, as I am prone to tendonitis if I go too fast, in particular with the running.  

As far as weight loss, I am 5'9" and used to weigh 155 lb before my pregnancy.  That was a great weight for me, easy to maintain and looking fab, in particular if I had a good muscle development.  I now weigh 184 lb.  I have lost about 3 lb in the past month, and am happy about that, it is not a lot but it is steady, so I am on the right track.  I eat pretty much the same things every day:  one cup of steel cut oats that I cook in a big pot once a week, with almond milk and 1/4 cup of walnuts in the morning, plus one cup of berries that I sprinkle on top.  For lunch I usually have a banana, and two slices of manna bread (sprouted wheat) with almond or cashew butter.  I snack on an ounce of cheese and an apple, perhaps another banana later on, and on carrots and celery sticks.  In the evenings I have a glass of carrot and celery juice, some beans or chicken casserole or steamed salmon, always with steamed veggies (zucchini or broccoli or asparagus usually) and a salad made with tomatoes and avocado and spinach leaves, usually without oil if avocado is added, but with some balsamic vinegar.  If we have desert it is usually tofu pudding or sugar free icecream.  

I know that the first part of my day is heavy on carbs, but they are mostly the slow burning kind, and I compensate by going lighter on the carbs in the evening.  We don't eat much meat or animal products, I have my homemade yogourt daily and the occasional boiled egg (MrH does not eat either), and I cook chicken once every two weeks for both of us (about four portions total), that's about it.  That leaves us with beans, nuts, fruits and veggies, and grains.  I don't intend to feed Emma a vegan diet, although she will probably eat much of what I am eating, so I don't forsee a lot of meat in her future.  I think our diet is well balanced and I have never run into any health problems, despite having eaten this way for most of my life.  In Romania meat was expensive, and always eaten in small quantities, mostly as part of a casserole dish, not as a steak or ribs or a hunk of meat in general.  I got used to it this way.  

I am having a great time so far, and am feeling very fulfilled.  No complaints at all.  People ask me if it was worth it, and I say of course, a thousand times over.  I would do it all again in a second.  Emma is so precious and makes us so happy!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

first bath in the big tub



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

soy formula

It looks like the Similac is giving Emma bad cramps, she starts screaming out of the blue, she regurgitates like mad, and she has a fine rash on her face that looks like a heat rash.  Her milk donor, my friend, is gone for a few days, and we are on all formula minus the amount of breast milk that I am providing (more on that one below).  She is really suffering with the cramps.  She is a very mild, gentle baby, with big attentive eyes, and for the past 24 hours she has been crying so much that we could hardly leave the house.  The only way I got anywhere today was with her on the breast for most of the time, pushing the empty stroller while holding her latched on to pacify.

So today we decided to change her over to Isomil, a soy based formula.  Because she is so young, and because of the SNS, I am using the concentrate, and adding filtered water.  I don't know if I will be able to use powder formula in the SNS at a later date, so I might have to carry with me the cooling container in order to transport the concentrate whenever we go somewhere.  That is ok.  Everything is worth the fun we are both having "breastfeeding".  I don't know whether to use the term or not, but she is literally feeding on the breast, it's just that she is getting formula more than breast milk.  She loves it, and I love it, becoming more and more comfortable with the tubing and the container of liquid around my neck, the rest is like the old fashion way.  I hope we can keep doing it for a long time, in any case for as long as we both enjoy it.

But back to the Isomil, she is really better on it, after the second serving she has stopped cramping, she burps much less, and seems calmer.  It might be a fluke, so I will wait a few more days before I pronounce the verdict on it, but so far it is definitely well tolerated.  As far as my breast milk goes...I pumped four times today, in between feedings, and I got a glorious total of 50 mL (just under 2 oz).  I don't know how much of that she is getting in addition to the embarrassing pump output, but hey, any amount is good.  I don't think it is decreasing, but I am not seeing a big increase either.  I think that might be it, the cow is leaving...

On a totally unrelated note, this morning I had a whole hour to myself!  I woke up suddenly at 6:30, remembering that I left the barbecue on with eggplants on it ... yesterday, at 4 pm!  I went to check on the barbecue.  The gas had run out (duh!) and the eggplants were carbonized, only the dark shells remaining.  I cleaned up the mess, and then I got on with some things that require two hands, which I don't often have.  I showered, washed and dried my hair with a hairdryer (!), epilated my legs, underarms and bikini line with the silk-epil, plucked my eyebrows, put makeup on, put lotion on, and then, being all done with my grooming, I started grooming the cat!  I cut her clumps of hair, cut her nails on the front paws, and petted her a little as she does not get much attention from me lately, except when she jumps on the bed (and that would be the undesirable sort of attention).  It was a much needed hour for both of us.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Baby paraphenalia

I did not want a lot of stuff when I got pregnant, and as time went on, I tried to decide what was absolutely necessary, and what was desirable, from other people's experiences.  I hope my experience will help others decide what to try and what to forgo.  As a warning, I am not fond of clutter, I generally don't like garish colours and I absolutely hate plastic toys, and anything that is not environmentally friendly, so that should explain some of my choices.

1.  cloth diapers.  I wanted to write a separate post on these, but there is not much to say.  I chose g-diapers because they were the only ones I had seen (here in my town, the cloth diapers are rare, and my friend had a g-diaper to show me, I thought it was ok and went for it).  I wash them daily, one doesn't have to wash the whole diaper, just the cotton insert, but I wash the whole thing anyway each time.  I bought eight pairs and it is enough.  If you plan on doing laundry every second day, then I guess you'd need about sixteen pairs of all-in-one diapers, or about twenty inserts for the G-diapers, or twenty prefolds.  I take the dirty diaper off, and rinse it if it is poop, then throw the insert in a bowl filled with water and a little nature friendly peroxide solution.  In the mornings, I dump the water and do the laundry, including my clothes, my husband's clothes, and Emma's clothes and everything else in the house minus the towels around the bird cage which I always do separately every second day.  I am not squeamish about baby poop, it smells clean (especially if breastfed) and they do not have much in the way of harmful bacteria at this point.  When she starts on solids I will probably do the diapers separately, as it might require a longer cycle, right now I just do a rapid wash cycle with warm water and nature friendly detergent (we use Nature Clean right now).  I line dry in the house most of the time, and if in a hurry then I use the drier and feel appropriately guilty.  They always come out clean and smell-free. 

2.  cloth wipes.  I use fuzzybunz wipes.  I bought a packet of 10.  I wash them, fold them in a little box on the changing table, and when I need to use them I wet them with water from a thermos (I like it warm for Emma's comfort, so I put it in the thermos hot twice a day), no soap or other cleansers, and wipe her with it, then put them into the bowl of water.  

3.  I don't have a diaper pail, I just use a large bowl filled with water, which I rinse out every day.

4.  I don't use any baby lotion, potion or anything else.  Everybody in the house uses the same kind of wash, which is Dr. Bronner soap, and I will soon change to Live Clean baby wash for everyone as well.  It is much simpler than having a separate soap/shampoo for each person. I use cornstarch for her bottom if it gets red, but she has never had a diaper rash so it is more preventative.  I store it in a glass bowl and apply it with a cotton pad. 

5.  We don't have a baby tub.  I wash Emma in the sink every morning, or I have a shower with her.  I wash the sink beforehand, and I don't use it for anything other than me and her.  We share the same bacterial flora anyway. 

6.  A change table is a nice thing.  She loves the change table as it has a plant that extends a branch over it, and she loves looking at it.  I find it easier on my back than changing her on the bed, but I am pretty tall.  I also needed it to store her clothes into, so I picked one with three drawers.  

7.  I have an Ergo carrier with the infant insert and I love it.  I use it for walks, for housework, and for my daily exercise on the elliptical trainer which I have started last week.  Emma loves sleeping in it, especially on the elliptical.  If you like your hands free, get one. 

8.  I also like the Stokke stroller a lot, and use it for my daily shopping trips to the grocery store.  I like to buy small amounts of food often, and the stroller has a nice bag on the bottom that fits all my groceries.  I  can also maneuver it with one hand and hold her in the other hand if she wants to breastfeed (or more like pacify on my rather underachieving breasts) or to be held.  During the day I use the stroller's bassinet for her to sleep in.   But I consider a stroller entirely optional, as the Ergo can do the job just fine.

9.  A fleece blanket for the stroller, as it gets cold.  I got a fleece sleeping bag, since it is quite windy here.

10.  About four Aden and Anais blankets in organic cotton, they are soft and gauzy and amazing for swaddling, covering her against the sun, and using as a cover when breastfeeding if one feels the need to cover.  I have about twelve of them, but I did not really need this many.  I just love them.

11.  Four onesies, three pairs of pants, and three long sleeve tops.  Two pajamas or sleepers.  I also found invaluable a fleece costume that I got for going out on windy/cold days. 

12.  Two hats, one in some kind of wool (I prefer cashmere or merino) for cold weather, one in cotton.   Wash the cashmere one by hand or in the machine on cold/cold cycle and line dry.

13.  Two pairs of wool/cashmere socks.  Her feet were very cold in cotton socks, and since I got the cashmere ones she is much more comfortable.  I keep them on her feet with hair elastics and make sure that the elastics are not too tight and do not leave marks on her skin. We don't use mittens yet, but will use thick cashmere/wool ones in winter. 

14.  I did not need a change pad so far, but I suppose that if you travel or are outside of the house for a long time you would need one.  So far I changed her on her blanket, making sure to interchange the diapers quickly as to avoid her peeing on it.  

15.  I don't have a diaper bag.  If I leave the house, I just take one clean diaper, one ziploc bag, one pair of pants, and the bottle or the SNS as I don't produce enough milk for her at this point.  All of these fit in my purse.

16.  I have six Aden and Anais washcloths that I use to wipe the burped milk off her face.  I don't use bibs.  If she gets dirty, I change her, but I find that if I hold the washcloth in front of her face when I burp her, she does not get dirty.  If I get dirty I wipe the spot with a wet towel, and I wash all my clothes daily with hers anyway. 

17.  A car seat.  We got a Graco, don't get it, it sucks.  It does not have a button to loosen the slack on the straps so I have to use the metal belt buckles for that every time, which takes half an hour.  That is why we walk and avoid the car like the plague.  By winter I might inherit a Peg perego from a friend and be delivered from my pain.  MAKE SURE YOUR CAR SEAT HAS A BUTTON TO LOOSEN THE SLACK ON THE SHOULDER STRAPS.  THIS IS MY NUMBER ONE PIECE OF ADVICE!

18.  We don't have a crib.  She sleeps in our bed and will do so until she no longer wants to.   MrH and I don't mind at all and in fact we like it.  The two of us will have sex on top of the washing machine in the broom closet while she is sleeping.  (If I had a dollar for each time people ask us this question!).  We have several beds in the house anyway, if the need to be conventional strikes us. 

19.  We don't use a pacifier.   She hates them.

20.  If you breastfeed you don't need more than two bottles with nipples for emergencies.  Heck, one would suffice.  I use the SNS, and my two bottles, but have several bottles for transporting the donor milk back and fourth from her house to mine.  If you are a good "milky" like my friend's daughter calls it, then a manual pump would suffice.  Or even hand expression.  I need an industrial strength double pump for my barren breasts.

21.  Somebody lent us a swing, and I am very excited to see if it prolongs her morning nap time, so that I can get more housework done.  I would not have bought one otherwise though.

22.  A pair of nail clippers.  Any kind will do, just keep them for the baby only.

That is it.  I don't like baby toys, so I will let her have one rubber one, and up to three fuzzy soft ones, that is it.  She can play with household items like we did growing up.  I don't think I had more than four toys during my whole childhood, and I still remember them.  I get terrified when I walk into someone's house and I see it filled to the brim with garishly coloured plastic toys.  It cannot be good for the kid's attention span anyway.

end of list.  let me know what you guys think.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Feelin' lucky?

She has caught up in growth tremendously, being again on the 50th percentile for weight, where she started off.  I have not measured her height yet, but she has already outgrown all of her newborn pants, and is now into the 0-3 month stuff, closer to 3 than to 0.  Since I have started supplementing every feed she is content, alert, and smiles often.  Today she smiled for a full minute at her daddy (she smiles at him much more often than at mommy, 'cause she's daddy's girl, although she melts into my arms so lovely that I still feel special :).   She needs only one feed through the night, usually at 3-4 am, and sleeps well in between feeds.

Today she has discovered her right hand, studying it carefully, putting it in her mouth (sometimes missing the mouth) and trying to touch daddy's face with it.  It is quite a different movement than the uncoordinated flailing newborn movements, this is much more studied and calculated.  The most amazing part though is her attention span, it is longer than mine!  She looks at our faces and listens intently for a lot longer than I would, even at my age.  But the best part is her toothless smile, which makes me melt into a puddle at her feet.  She is amazing.  I cannot believe that I have carried this child, she is so amazing that I don't feel deserving of her, but am grateful to have her nevertheless.  I feel like I have won the lottery.

Which is why I find it weird that people still tell me that I am unlucky, referring to all of the things that have gone wrong for me, reproductively speaking and otherwise (the unexplained post op pneumomediastinum after the laparoscopy, the incompetent cervix, the stillborn child, the cerclage that went through the uterine wall, the incisions that won't heal or get infected, and the near death experience with the hemorrhage, due to yet another unrelated complication, the subinvolution of the placental site, and now the possible Sheehan syndrome from the bleed).  That was just a brief summary.  And still... am I really unlucky to have gone through these things, or am I enormously lucky to have escaped at the other end with my life, my uterus and especially with such a beautiful, healthy and amazing daughter?  People see me as unlucky, and one person even told me not to ever play the lottery (I don't anyway, but I probably should...)

My milk supply is staying at 1 oz per feeding, and I don't have much hope for it ever returning.  I am so happy with the SNS system though, it allows me to breastfeed until she is full even though I only have a bit of my own milk, I just sneak in the tube when there is no more milk coming from me (with experience you get to recognize it, she gets frustrated and the suck/swallow ratio increases).  She also feels safe at my breast and loves it.  She is very comfortable with my body, just melting into me, while with other people she arches or stiffens.  She is also getting very comfortable with her daddy, which is also nice to see.

I wanted to make a post about baby paraphenalia, and I will do that next.  I have a minimalist approach to baby stuff, and hence I don't have many things.  It might not even make for a post longer than one paragraph.  I also want to make a post about my approach to weight loss, since I have about 25 lb left to lose.  But all I want to do is to talk about Emma, so I never get around to these things... hehehe...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

new SNS just arrived

Just a quick update about the Medela SNS (the commercial version), which just arrived today.  I boiled the parts as recommended and used it with breast milk, it worked very well.  What is nice about it is that I can hang it around my neck and the tube can be taped in place, so it leaves my hands free (except for the hand that i use to hold Emma with).  The tubing is thinner than the 5 French so it takes longer to take in the same volume, which is a little time consuming and makes Emma fall asleep on the job.  Then she wakes up hungry, and today twice I gave up and used the bottle to finish the feeding, as it was taking almost two hours to feed her and I got tired myself.  I think tomorrow I will try the thicker tubing in the evenings, as she is more tired and is just taking forever to eat.

I don't know exactly if this is worth the time and effort, especially since she takes both the breast and the bottle very easily.  But I will persist with it.  I also don't know if my milk production has increased at all, since she is still taking sometimes 3 oz of supplement, which is almost a whole feed.  But I have to keep trying.  All I can say is that I am glad I don't have a full time job.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

lactation aid how to

Here are details of how I do the improvised lactation aid system.  I got the nasogastric tube from the lactation consultant, and have ordered a more commercial version of the system from Medela, they sell it.  In Canada I got it from weefeeds in Calgary ( or something like that), they order from Medela for me.  But for now all I have is the nasogastric tube (5 French, 25 cm) and a syringe to clean it with.

So let's walk through a night feeding.  I wake up when Emma starts fussing and looking for food, she is usually awake at 3 or 4 am for the first night feed (the last one is at 11 pm or midnight).  I grab her, I latch her on the LEFT boob, and I go pee while breastfeeding.  (Sorry, I can't hold it, and if I don't give her the boob, she starts screaming and wakes up MrH, who is working in the morning).  I wash my right hand, and hope that the other one is clean enough, but I only use one hand for the materials anyway.  I walk downstairs, open the fridge with the right hand, take out the milk or the formula, depending on what I have on hand (it is not my milk, it comes from a friend of mine who is a SAINT), and I grab also a clean bottle (for pumping afterwards) and the nasogastric tube and the syringe (I put some stuff in my armpit, and some in my mouth if I have to).  Then I walk upstairs where I usually feed and pump, I sit down on my glider, I put everything to my right hand side on a little coffee table, and continue feeding from the left breast until Emma lets me know that the flow has slowed down (she gets angry and starts making funny sounds, while biting and pulling on my nipple).  I then do breast compressions, to try to milk more, but I don't have much left usually.  I switch her to the right breast, and feed from there using breast compressions as well.  When there is no more milk coming, I put her back on the left breast, and let her latch well, then I take out the cap from the bottle with one hand (this is tricky, don't screw the cap on too tightly or it is almost impossible), put the nasogastric tube in the bottle (or bag, like here in the picture), and hold the bottle or bag between my legs as I am sitting.  I put the other end of the tube in Emma's mouth trying to enter at the corner and aiming upwards so as to not go under her tongue.  Sometimes it takes three tries, sometimes I get it right away, sometimes she gets annoyed with me poking her and pulls away, in which case I put the tube along the areola and nipple and let her latch onto both when she does.  Then she starts sucking, and I use my legs to hold the bottle, my left hand to hold her head, my left armpit to hold her body, my right hand to hold her hands that sometimes fly all over the place, and if her arms are pretty quiet and she is calm, then I use my right hand to surf the internet on the iphone while she is eating, because once she starts sucking the high flow of milk, she goes pretty quickly and in relaxed fashion, and the whole thing is on autopilot.

I hope this makes sense, email me with more questions if you need to, I will post pictures of the commercial system which you hang around your neck so it should be easier (sometimes holding things between my legs means I need to bend forward for the entire feed, and my back hurts).

This is by far the hardest way to do it, with finger feeding being way easier.  For finger feeding I just lay her over my legs, with her head on my knees and her legs on my abdomen, I put my right index finger in her mouth with the nail side on her tongue and let her latch, and the tube goes in the same way (corner of the mouth).  You have the whole left hand to use to hold the bottle and it makes it easier.  You can also hold the NG tube between the thumb and middle finger, paralel to the index, and insert both the index and the tube in her mouth at the very beginning, it is even easier this way.

Once the feeding is done, I burp her if I gave her formula, otherwise no burping is necessary for breast milk, I pump a bit with her on my knees, then I put her down on the changing table, I wash the bottles with tap water and rinse the tube with the syringe, then I change her diaper, then we go back to sleep with the boob used as soother.  In the morning I take the bottles downstairs to the dishwasher and I rinse the NG tube again with filtered water.

The only trouble is that my daughter has figured out that the milk is coming out of the tube, and she sometimes spits out the nipple and sucks just from the NG tube.  It is very funny to see.  She does not do it often though, only when she is pretty full and has enough energy to play and explore.  When she is hungry she just does the latching and feeding with no questions asked.

I rarely do give her a bottle, if someone else has to feed her or if I am out of the house in a place where I cannot set up my lactation aid.  But I try to avoid it, although she clearly still prefers the boob, despite receiving several bottles so far.

One more from the top

This is the improvised lactation aid setup

trotting along

The milk is staying at 1 oz per feeding session for now, or in other words about 8  oz per day.  That is good, but she eats 24 oz easily at this point, trying to catch up, and so it is hard to imagine that I will ever be able to supply all that for her.  The tube system that I use for feeding her is hard to use, much harder than a bottle, as it requires someone to hold the bottle and me holding the tube and someone holding her hands that fly all over the place (and I am that someone and the other someone too, but I only have two hands and two legs and one set of teeth, all of which are getting used in this process), and I often just want to pop a silicone nipple onto the bottle and give it to her the old fashion way.  But I don't.  Not because I am holier than thou, which I am of course, but because if I give it the old fashioned way, she tends to spit up a lot more, and FORMULA STAINS!  I had no idea until I used it myself, but it stains and it reeks.  The stains don't come out in the regular wash.  Any spit ups just about require a bath and a full change of clothes, and I am lazy.  So tube system is here to stay.  But man, is life ever complicated!  I just wish my freaking milk was coming back through my nose.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Got milk?

On day 27 of Emma's life I have started supplementing her feeds with a combination of donated breast milk from a good friend (for which I have enormous gratitude!) and formula.  I realized that I had no more milk! I put her on the breast, and she was pulling off repeatedly and crying, and when I squeezed there was NOTHING coming!  I was shocked.  I tried pumping for the next few days, and got a grand total of 5 ml (1/6 of an ounce) out of the morning pumping session, and NOTHING out of any of the other pumping sessions during the day.  The milk had completely dried up.  When I saw that, and I first supplemented her, and she took 120 ml (4 oz) in one feed, I realized that I had starved the poor baby for the prior couple of days, as the process must have been gradual.  I did not know why she was crying and not wanting to latch. Now, after supplementing, she slept like a normal baby, and did not want to continuously be held and sucking on the breast every five minutes.  She actually has 3-4 hours where she is content, awake and alert, looking around, chatting with us, and is a completely different person.

I feel like such an asshole, for not recognizing that she was hungry all this time.  I beat myself up tremendously for it, but in the end I did watch her much more carefully after seeing that she did not gain the expected weight.  My doctor did not seem alarmed and told me to come back in 3 weeks, I am glad that I continued to weigh her and to worry.  The supplimenting system that I use is actually a feeding tube (the kind that the hospital uses for nasogastric feeding of infants) which I sneak into her mouth while she is latched onto the breast, and put one end of it in the breastmilk or formula, and let her suck it up like if she were breastfeeding.  I saw that in a book, and thought it was cool.  She does take a bottle, but I wanted to have the closeness and the association of the breast with the food.

I did not lose hope though, I presumed that the milk dried up because of the hypovolemic shock that left my pituitary gland without much blood supply, and hence decreased the prolactin.  I was not expecting that it would take a week for the effect to show, but it did.  Hoping that maybe it is temporary, I keep on pumping, feeding, and taking domperidone (motilium) 80 mg /day, fenugreek capsules (12 per day) and blessed thistle capsules (9 per day).

This has been very stressful for me, not being able to feed my daughter, losing that bond, worrying about the effect of the formula as she seems to spit it up and get constipated on it, trying to find more donor milk (the Vancouver milk bank told me that they don't have any milk, and to try again in 2 weeks!), and feeling like I have failed Emma in a very basic way.  I have tried to keep in mind that it is all about her though, and that she is lucky to have a live mother, the breastmilk vs. formula problem does not even compare to the immense luck that I have had to survive.  (I found out today that I needed 10 transfusions in total, not 8 like I had thought, that makes me think of how bad the situation really was).  She is lucky, and I am lucky.  And c'mon, I mustn't forget that I am lucky to have her at all.

But sick with a mastitis of the left breast (from too much pumping) and worried about my daughter, and about my husband who is working way too hard, and about my bird who got a concussion that made him scary ill, and recovering after my blood loss (I am still very weak and tired), all of these burdens broke the optimistic camel's back for the past day or so, and I have been down.  Today however, I went for a walk with Emma in my arms, and she latched onto my breast for comfort.  We were sitting on a park bench, and the sunset was warm and beautiful, and I felt peaceful with her, I felt her precious body laying on my belly and realized how good everything is, how magical, how peaceful.  Then I went home, and asked MrH to take me on a motorcycle ride, since my mom is still here and could look after Emma.  We rode past wheat fields, past the river, and saw the moon starting to rise above the horizon, smelled the forest, and I felt really peaceful, really close to my husband, and felt like I was ok, like maybe I haven't failed, maybe it was just life, the way it is, imperfect, full of obstacles, but beautiful nevertheless.

Then I went home and pumped...and got one ounce of milk!  That was enormous for me, especially at night.  The mastitis suddenly improved, my breast started to drain, I pumped again another ounce three hours later, and felt on top of the world.  Maybe my milk is coming back!  Will watch and see.  The important thing is that I have realized that there is much more to the bond I have with Emma than just the breastfeeding, and that I am sure we can be happy and peaceful no matter how the feeding goes.  I am, however, certain of one thing:  I will never let her be hungry again.  I am going to top her off after every single feed, just to make sure.  Even if my milk comes back.  I cannot bear to think that she was hungry, and it will never happen again.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

So much love

I cannot believe how much I love Emma... I want to stare at her and kiss her scrunchy face the whole day.  In particular I want to kiss her mouth when she screams like a lunatic.  It is so sweet.  She has increased periods of quiet alertness, looking around with her big soulful eyes, and today she grabbed my nose twice and I think she wanted to put it in her mouth.  She is starting to reach for things, and I have the feeling that her arm movements are becoming more purposeful.  She looks into MrH's face, and into mine when breastfeeding, and we feel like we are melting.  The best way to summarize this is that it's much much better than I thought it would be.

I don't ever leave her alone because she does not like it, and at this point in her life I don't see the purpose in doing things that she does not like.  This means that my day goes something like this:  wake up at around 7 or 8 (today at 10, I got spoiled) when Emma starts making I-want-boob sounds, feed her while wondering how and when I will get to pee, decide to go pee while breastfeeding her despite how gross and unnatural this sounds like, then on and off feed her for about one hour.  Ideally I feed her on one side, and pump on the other side, to have some pumped milk just in case the evening meal is not enough (I have a lot of milk in the morning, and less at night).  The best pumping session so far with the home Medela-mini has produced only one ounce, so I am waiting for a better pump to arrive in the mail, in the meantime struggling with the mini which is probably fine for someone with abundant milk, but not  very easy for me to use.  While feeding her with one hand and pumping with the other hand, I also try to eat breakfast with my third hand, and drink coffee with the fourth.  After we both get fed, I pass her along to my mom and have a quick shower and do my make-up and hair.  What will happen once my mom leaves this coming week is anybody's guess, but I am hoping to be able to shower in the morning before MrH goes to work, or if that fails then at night.  I can always do my makeup and hair with her in the sling once she falls asleep.

Then, once I showered, I wash her in the sink.  She enjoys her morning bath, and only cries once I dry her and try to dress her.  She does not like getting dressed.  (Undressed is totally fine).  So I stopped dressing her after her bath, I just slap a diaper on (we use g diapers, a type of cloth diapers, with cloth inserts made by, a company in Alberta) and then breastfeed her again while we are both naked, she loves the skin to skin contact.  Finally though, I manage to dress her and feed her again, this time while she is in the sling, so that once she falls asleep I can do some stuff with both hands, like make the bed and do the laundry.  So far I have not had to cook yet, but I will once mom leaves, and I am planning on cooking twice a week, once on the weekend when MrH is around to hold Emma, and once during the week, probably on a Tuesday, and probably a whole lotta beans and rice.

She sleeps for three hours in the afternoon, and I often take her out during this time.  We go for a walk in the stroller, but she wakes up frequently and wants to feed, so I end up pushing the empty stroller with one hand, while breastfeeding with the other (football hold rocks!).  If we had a rough night, we both take a nap though, and she sleeps quite well.  She usually wakes up cranky and we spend the evening trying to soothe her, usually by swaddling and constantly feeding/soothing on the breast, and if that does not work then we throw in bouncing on the medicine ball at the same time.  She is starting to take a soother, for little short periods, but that is definitely a success, and I need to keep going, as she only soothes on the breast and that is stressful for anybody other than myself who has no boobs to soothe her with.  Then, from nine pm onwards she sleeps for a good five and even six hours, cuddled in bed with me, warm and comfy, and for the rest of the night she wakes up briefly and feeds with us both lying down, then goes to sleep again.  Only once through the night I get up to change her, and to give her a feed where I am sure that she has eaten well (if I feed lying down, then I fall asleep and can't supervise her properly).

Overall we do pretty well, but she is constantly on the breast, and that means that there is not a single person in my town who has not seen my boobs yet.  I don't use a nursing cover since I would have to walk with one around my neck all the time.  It just would not be practical.  I even have a hard time wearing a BF bra, since I have to open and close it thirty times a day.  The easiest is to wear the Lillypadz and a nursing top, or just the nursing top.  Next thing I am going to buy Birkenstocks and grow my hair in dreadlocks, all while wearing long floral skirts.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

behind in growth

Emma had her first checkup today, at three weeks of age, and she is not yet back up to birth weight.  Her birth weight was 3.67 kg and she still weighs only 3.48 kg, about 200 grams below (7 oz).  Theoretically she could catch up in one week.  Practically, I hope she does.  She has grown in length and head circumference, but the rate of growth is slower than expected in both.

Clearly this hemorrhage episode of mine has taken a toll on her.  Her weight was about the same as it is now in week two of life, just before my bleeding episode, so for the past week she has probably done poorly, with me trying to establish my milk supply again.  Not to mention that we had difficulties right after birth as well for a bit, with her losing almost 10% of her weight because I did not have much colostrum and then I took a while to build the milk up to meet her needs.

I did worry, and still do a little, but instinctually I feel that things are improving and that she will catch up.  There is a big difference between the fussiness of yesterday, when all she wanted is to be on the breast, and the contentedness of today, when she slept for 3-4 hours at lunch, and had a bit of social time too.  I think that the lack of gain is reflecting a past, not present, problem.   That being said, I also struggle with the feeling that I am inadequate once again as far as reproduction goes, and that I am failing yet another basic human function, that of feeding one's infant.  But those are my own feelings, and I don't plan on letting them interfere too much if I can.  I know that supplementing would help with the growth in the immediate future, but I also know that in the long run it will deprive her as my milk supply will only go down once again, probably for good this time, and that she will not have the benefit of being breastfed like I planned for her.

I will weigh her again in one week.  I am expecting a pleasant surprise.