Monday, August 29, 2011


Since Baby Boy was born, M and I have been extremely sleep deprived. Since he was 2 weeks old, our house has been a mess, and we haven't found someone reliable to clean it. Since he was 3 weeks old, M has been extremely busy with school. And me? I've been basically non-functioning. The little bit of free time I have between feedings I spend a) showering, b) trying to nap, c) checking email, in that order. And that's about it. So no wonder that with a lack of schedule, a struggle to get meals together and no outside help, by week 7 M and I felt as if we were drowning. All that was missing was some sickness (me) and exams (M), bugs in the pantry, spiders on the wall next to the play area, and a cockroach running around to put us over the edge. I won't sugar coat the tension, because we were struggling, until the explosion came (read: yelling in the street).

So it was time for a plan. We are going to try to extend Baby Boy's night sleep stretch from 3/4 hours to 5, try to get him to like his crib so that I can put him down in the middle of the day, and pull out the pacifier from time to time. I'm going to re-take charge of cooking, at least once a week, and re-fill the freezer with meals ready to go, and we're going to try a prepared meals place. We're going to try out 2 more cleaning ladies, with the goal of finding one (or two) that can come twice a week, so that M doesn't have to worry about that. And we're going to try to get together a weekly schedule, so that our tasks get done somehow and we're not struggling to stay afloat. Luckily, one of the Grandmas is coming to stay for a week, and we're going to take advantage to try to get re-organized.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Feeding Chapter 5: Looking Forward

So where are we now?

It definitely took several days for Baby Boy to get back in the groove after being exclusively bottle-fed. We tried the boppy again; we tried the cross-cradle position; we tried the walking around. He kept re-adjusting his latch to one that was way too small, but is getting better every day. Unfortunately, I depleted my entire freezer stash during all those feedings, and so I will have to start pumping a little more to re-build it for another rainy day.

I learned a lot from the experience though: about the composition of breast milk, about how medications are absorbed into the body (more or less), about holding my ground and not taking doctors' opinions as pure fact. As this saga shows, sometimes our limits are tested over and over and now that Baby Boy is finally showing some fat rolls I can be proud of myself for sticking to my gut instinct and getting this breastfeeding thing to work.

I am not disillusioned that this is the last of our problems. His latch is still not perfect. Nursing in public is still a major deterrent of going out for extended periods of time for me. And I am most definitely paranoid about "draining" the breasts at every meal. I still have the occasional thought that I wish he was 6 months old so that I could start weaning and not feel like a cow much of the day. But I have hope that we can make it.

My new goal: 3 months!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Feeding Chapter 4: Mastitis

I guess the title says it all. We had a GREAT week. Baby Boy was eating more or less on a predictable schedule, latching on was taking less and less tries, and I was walking around the house while nursing to keep Baby Boy alert and drinking. I had re-embraced the nursing bra after walking around bra-less for the last few weeks. One day Baby Boy got a rash, runny nose and (TMI alert) green stool. I decided to check if it was a food allergy by eliminating several things from my diet. But no matter, at least he was feeding and I was walking on air. And then my throat started to hurt.

Within a few hours I had chills and a fever of 103. Consequently, I looked carefully and saw that my breast was inflamed, but this was no blocked duct, it was full-on mastitis. Murphy's law being what it is, this was on Sunday, the day before M's biggest exam of the semester. So I took tylenol and took care of Baby Boy, while shivering in bed. It was the WORST feeling I can describe: feeling helpless and trying to take care of a fussy baby on my own. (We now know his symptoms were most probably a virus, but using that bulb to suck out his snot at 3 am, while running a fever was unpleasant to say the least).

The following day we made it to the doctor and got the diagnosis. He said to stop breastfeeding immediately, pump to get out the infection, and gave me a cocktail of antibiotics. He offered some medicine to help me dry up my milk with the rational that I was likely to get re-infected, since the infection most likely came from Baby Boy's mouth. I was crushed and asked about expressing milk, to which I was told I could keep on giving Baby Boy breast milk only by pumping and using a bottle, starting after I finished the antibiotics.

The next 3 days were horrible. I was still not feeling well and frustrated at having to pump and dump. Baby Boy was upset because he couldn't comfort feed. And M was going at 90 miles an hour to take care of us while doing overtime in the school clinic. Meanwhile, we were both researching the medications I was taking and looking for a second opinion regarding continuing breastfeeding. M check medical references (some said ok, others said no) and asked a doctor friend for a second opinion resulting in a "probably better not but we don't know". I consulted Dr. Hale's book (Medications and Mother's Milk) resulting in a "probably ok but not sure". Then I emailed Dr. Jack Newman resulting in "definitely continue" (with the explanation that the tiny percentage of antibiotic that gets into the breastmilk is still better than formula). Finally we asked the pediatrician who said "probably ok". Plus the knowledge that antibiotics prescribed to children are of a much higher dose than what gets into the milk and those are considered safe. And that's what decided it for me- back to breastfeeding it was.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Feeding Chapter 3: Blocked Ducts & Low Supply

We had 5 great days of feeding. Baby Boy still needed about an hour and a half to get through a feeding, with multiple re-latchings, but at least he was doing it. It wasn't perfect but at this point I couldn't be happier to be done with the syringe and the pumping multiple times a day.

It was the day we had to got to the consulate to get Baby Boy's American passport in the works. We didn't have enough time to finish his morning feeding (that was taking well over an hour at this point), so we kept going in the car (not recommended). Then we had to wait, and wait, and wait. (The customer service is not exactly up to par, but that's another story for another day). And so Baby Boy got hungry, and I had to feed him there, in the One big waiting hall. It was pretty much a disaster, not to mention that I was starving (because you're not allowed to bring food- like I said, that's another story).

Shortly after we got home, I knew something was wrong. I felt extremely "full" and so decided to pump, when I realized that I wasn't getting much. This prompted me to take a closer look, and I realized pretty quickly that I had a blocked duct (from some combination of erratic feeding and a bra that was too tight). Baby Boy refused to feed on that side, so it was back to pumping and syringe feeding. My doc prescribed an anti-inflammatory, and with a few warm showers, massaging of the area and lots of pumping, by the next day it was gone. But we had another problem: Baby Boy had forgotten how to suck. We were back at square 1, ok maybe square 2.

It took a few more days to get going again because now I was dealing with low supply- a side effect of the medication. This meant that after every single feeding, I would pump to make sure both sides were drained and to get extra stimulation; it was exhausting pumping day and night and I really couldn't do anything but feed Baby Boy (not to mention sore nipples from all that time). What really helped though, was watching the Jack Newman videos and recognizing when Baby Boy was getting milk, so that I could help him re-create his positioning. Once he was back on track, my supply re-stabalized and we officially hit a serious milestone.

It was a really big deal.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Feeding Chapter 2: Nipple Confusion

My first meeting with a La Leche League leader was reassuring and overwhelming at the same time. By the time she arrived I was a crying sleep deprived mess. Grandma tried to sit with us, which only made things worse. So I asked her to go on a walk and call M, who was picking up another set of grandparents, and make sure they would not come while she was here. Finally we could get down to business.

Baby Boy's refusal to latch at the breast despite repositioning and an experienced hand led us to a devastating (yet not totally surprising) diagnosis: nipple confusion. Our remedy was going to be a long and hard road ahead. I would pump and then feed the baby with a 1 ml syringe. Every session, I would try to put him at the breast, give a little syringe, and let him suck on my pinky finger to practice the sucking motion. I would need to try to "trick" him by quickly removing my pinky and trying to put him at the breast. Upon refusal, he would get more syringe, since the most important thing was that he eat.

This charade would go on for an hour at every feeding time for week. Little by little he would be willing to go to the breast for a suck or two, but since we wasn't latching correctly yet, he wouldn't really get much milk, and would get frustrated and cry. Did I mention the crying? Every feeding was a cry-fest, and the more he cried the more I wanted to as well. So we had the lactation consultant come again.

This time we had something to work with, because at least he was recognizing the breast as the place to get milk. We did some repositioning, got some more encouragement, and without the imposition of house guests M and I together got to focus on the plan for the next week. Our session ended with Baby Boy at the breast for about 10 minutes- it felt like forever and was quite wonderful. We were also advised to let him get hungry enough that he would request food and that was one of the key factors we kept in mind the next week.

It was another full week of syringe feeding and "playing around" at the breast, until one day, we had a breakthrough. He stayed on the breast for significantly longer, and within 72 hours was feeding almost solely directly from the breast. I should note though, that at this point, he needed to be re-latched on multiple times throughout the feedings, but at least things were looking up.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Feeding Chapter 1: Sleepy Baby

I've been putting off writing this next series, because I haven't wanted to dwell on the difficulties of parenthood, but honestly feeding our Baby Boy has been absolutely the biggest challenge we have had. So it might be a bit wordy, but here goes nothin'.

Before having Baby Boy, I was not worried about taking care of him. I'd changed a diaper, I'd taken care of children, and I trusted that my instincts would lead me down the right path. The only thing that I was prepared to have a learning curve for, was breastfeeding, so I tried to read up a little, but was still way under-prepared for reality. To be frank, I kind of expected that I would be handed Baby Boy, some nurse would show me how to position him, and it would be smooth sailing from there. In retrospect I was pretty naive about the whole thing. Sure it could have been that easy, but now I know that for so many women it is not, at all.

It seems that in the hospital, pretty much we did everything wrong. Hospital policy had him put in an incubator for 4 hours right after the birth. I had M go to the nursery and tell them that I would like them not to give the baby formula and please bring him to me as soon as possible to nurse. After the 4 hours they did indeed bring him to our room, but unbeknownst to us had given him a bottle of glucose water beforehand. From the first moment Baby Boy was put on the breast he just fell asleep. So a couple of hours later we tried again, but Baby Boy was just too sleepy, and the nurses wanted to give him more glucose water so that's what we did. As I mentioned before, Baby Boy was born pretty small and we were all very concerned that he didn't want to eat. A couple of times a nurse stayed a little longer to show me how to position him, and told us that my nipples "weren't well formed" and we should buy a nipple extractor and use that (basically a bottle nipple). So I used that and Baby made a few motions, but the whole time that he was in the hospital, the nurses kept giving him glucose bottles. So throughout this time he was neither awake enough, nor hungry enough to be given a really shot a breastfeeding. Needless to say, by the time we were going home, I was told to keep using the nipple extractor, and if he doesn't eat to give him bottles of water until my milk comes in.

The next few days were pretty much torture. We were freaked out that he wasn't eating and my milk hadn't come in yet. So we were playing around between him sucking at the breast and at the plastic nipple, hoping he would get something, anything. We gave him a few bottles of water and tried to survive his screaming cries. I should point out that the postpartum hormones, complete sleep deprivation, stress of having houseguests, and just generally trying to figure out how to take care of baby, were not helping. By day 5 my milk had come in and the engorgement was excruciating, I kept trying to put him on the breast with and without the plastic nipple, and eventually just settled into using the plastic nipple every time because I could see that he was getting some milk. Meanwhile, we kept trying to get a hold of the one lactation consultant in town. Everybody we asked (my doctor, the pediatrician, the nurses from the hospital, and the La Leche League website), kept referring us to the same woman, and we could not get in touch with her. I knew that I didn't want to keep using the plastic bottle nipple, but I was so concerned about Baby not eating that I did it anyway; I had to take advantage of every opportunity that he was awake enough to eat. More tears were shed that week than I can count and every feeding was a nightmare. At the end of day 7, after getting confirmation from the pediatrician that Baby Boy had lost weight, we finally managed to get some help.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Potty Humor

Ok, I know we are still far away from potty training, but a friend shared this and it's too funny not to post. Pee, a shared interest of every parent.

So here's Anderson Cooper re:peeing on the floor:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

On A Political Note

I know I don't talk about politics here, and actually I rarely do in real life either. To be honest I don't have much patience for it. But, I've always found myself quite turned off by women that lack a sense of compassion for the rest of humanity (that is not just like them). Being a mother has only reinforced this.

So with that said, a little John Stewert re:maternity leave:

It's only an entitlement program if it doesn't apply to you.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Baby Boy and I are both under the weather. As soon as we're better, lots of posts to come!

Friday, August 5, 2011

His First Package

It only took 35 days to get here; thank you Mexico! And because I'm clearly not a germaphobe- I couldn't resist a little picture. Thank goodness I got it on the first shot, though, because it might have been a bit of a precarious position...Oh well. All's well that ends well.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Things I Can Do With One Hand

Pour myself a glass of water

Reheat leftover pizza

Make an espresso

Hand wash a bottle

Load the washer

Transfer clothes from washer to dryer

Hang prefold diapers to dry

Put on pants

Apply eyeliner

Read emails/blogs/magazines

Open the door and pay delivery boy

Water plants

Pick-up junk and take up/down stairs

Open fridge, lament how there's nothing I want, close fridge

*I cannot, however, manage to take pictures of these, so you'll just have to believe me.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Routine (6 weeks)

The morning:
The alarm goes off, I need to un-swaddle baby to wake him up. He's not happy about this. We change his diaper to help him wake up, and then have our first feeding. It's a small one; he's not really a breakfast person. Semi- alert, I put him in the rocker and give him a steam bath- a.k.a. mommy's shower. By the last couple of minutes Baby realizes he's been put down, and starts to fuss. So I get out and we dance together. Calm again, Baby gets put in the Moby and I get to have breakfast. If everything went quickly we might hang laundry or do some dishes, but not too much because it's time to feed again. By this time Baby is hungry and the feeding take much longer. Half-way through we have a changing, and then he's out for a nap. I get to check my email/pump/have lunch and before I know it, it's time to feed again.

The afternoon:
Assuming the lunch feed didn't take 2 hours, now is a good time for a walk. If it did and Baby is alert, then we play. Sometime between now and the evening we'll have an explosive poop, which will trigger a bath time. Usually Daddy is home by now, so we have some 2 parent back and forth, and before we know it, we're feeding again. Daddy likes to take "Family Nap Time", but usually only he sleeps; sometimes Baby joins him, but usually by the time I'm ready to doze it's time to get up for the evening feed.

("family nap time")

The evening:

I dread this part of the day, for about 4-5 hours between 6pm and midnight, Baby is feeding on and off. I can't even figure out where one starts and the next begins. In between we have frequent bowel movements and incessant fussiness. I've been up since 5 or 6 in the morning and I'm beginning to loose it. Daddy's in the office trying to study and the crying doesn't help. At some point we, the adults, try to have dinner. Either Daddy has to cook, or we order a pizza, or defrost a meal; either way, Daddy still has to do dishes, and I still have to clean bottles and pump parts to get ready for the night.

When the never-ending feeding ends, we can all go to bed. We carefully do a 2-parent (=extra tight) swaddle on the just-sleeping baby and pray he doesn't wake up. Once he's down we have 3 blissful hours before my alarm goes off; sometime I cheat and give us a 4th because parents need to sleep too. This is the easiest feeding, Baby is super sleepy, so I pump and give him a bottle at the same time; it's the only way we can be done in less than an hour. I change his diaper, and put him on my chest to fall asleep, hoping he will burp so that he doesn't later choke on his regurgitation when I put him down. Once he's asleep, I swaddle him, put him on his side of the bed, and set an alarm because in 3-4 hours we have to feed again.