Adventures In Breastfeeding- Aubri

This post is a part of the Adventures in Breastfeeding Project sharing mother’s unique experiences, successes and struggles with breastfeeding. This post is by Aubri. Here’s what she had to share:182

My journey with my sweet baby girl revolves around two facts: that I am a first time mom and I am a nurse. My pregnancy was amazingly uncomplicated, as was my labor. Presley was born on July 11th, 2011, one minute after midnight. Because I was a nurse at a Childbirth Center, I was very patient with the two hour recovery process that happened in the middle of the night. Because I was a nurse, I was eager to get Presley skin to skin and start breastfeeding and make sure I had a good latch. But because I was a first time mom, I really wasn’t sure what I was doing. It’s incredibly easy to be the one telling people what to do – how to obtain a good latch, how to sooth your baby, how to carry them – but when it’s your baby, you suddenly become a sleep-deprived mass of cluelessness. But I was a nurse, and I was supposed to know how. And so the nurses at the hospital assumed I knew how. And I pretended I did. I was great at pretending I knew how. For the first 24 hours.

Our first night home with Presley was serene. I felt like this maternal goddess – tired and happy and full of wisdom. And then this tiny, discrete little threat popped up, literally. It turned out I wasn’t paying attention every time Presley latched on. So about 38 hours into motherhood, I had blisters on both of my nipples. Breastfeeding became a test of will. She would latch and nurse perfectly, and I sat there crying because it just hurt. As much as anyone could imagine someone sucking on an open wound would hurt. But I was determined. I would alternate positions and use nipple cream every hour. And in the middle of all of this, my milk came in. I felt relieved – until I felt full. And then I felt engorged. For weeks. And because I was a nurse, I knew how to treat it. I took warm showers and did all of the things you were taught to do. But because I was a first time mom, I had no idea how much it hurt. Or how helpless I would feel when after a shower I became this dripping mess. So I got a doctor’s order for a pump, and I started pumping after Presley nursed, which was great. This also helped me to build up a supply for the day I dreaded – the day I had to go back to work.


Don’t misunderstand me – I love my job. However to leave my baby girl and go spend twelve hours in the middle of the night with other moms and their babies was not something I was looking forward to. But it had to happen. Since I was new at my job I didn’t have a ton of time saved up for maternity leave. So two months after P was born, I went back. Everything was set – I had found a daycare that did overnight care, and was on the way to the hospital. I had bags upon bags of frozen milk stored, and I would pump every few hours at work. But slowly, my frozen stores started dwindling. This stressed me out like nothing else. I would set my alarm for every three hours, and make sure that if Presley wasn’t eating, I was pumping. I had in my mind that if we had to start supplementing her, I would have failed. So I pumped and pumped and pumped. But eventually, in the middle of the night, Nikki the caretaker ran out of milk, and had to give Presley formula. When I picked her up that morning, I was amazed at how disappointed I was in myself. I mean we had gone months before even introducing formula – Presley was getting ready to start eating solid foods. But for some reason I couldn’t shake that I wasn’t doing my part to feed my baby.

Eventually I came to terms with my limitations, and continued to pump at work, but also made sure the box of formula was in the diaper bag. About six months in, we were in a good rhythm. I had enough loose-fitting tops so I never had to worry about what I was wearing when we were out and Presley needed to eat (I’m all for public breastfeeding, but I’m also a private person, so I always tucked her under my shirt). Presley only occasionally needed a bottle of formula at Nikki’s house, and on days after I worked, I tucked her into bed with me and nursed her every few hours till we both fell back to sleep. And then Presley’s teeth came in. I had heard from my mom friends at work that this was the defining moment – the moment you stop or push through till they self-wean. And once again, I was determined. I was going to follow the WHO recommendation of feeding her for a year (it hadn’t been changed to two years at that point haha). And because I was a nurse, I knew how to reinforce that biting when she ate wasn’t acceptable. But because I was a first time mom, I wanted to swear every time she ate for the next two weeks. She figured out pretty quickly that mama would take away the goods if she bit me, but it felt like a long time.

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I’ve always said that Presley was a miraculously easy kid. That was definitely the case with breastfeeding. Once we got over the biting phase, the rest of our breastfeeding journey was very smooth. And then slowly, around her first birthday, she just started nursing less. She was sleeping through the night, so I would pump only once or twice during the night. And by fifteen months, she had completely weaned herself. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I could wear whatever I wanted, and do whatever I wanted on my breaks at work, but I felt sad. I felt like something truly special had ended. Once in a while, I wish she would still nurse. Of course now she’s two and won’t sit still for anything. But I loved that moment – the moment you’re nursing and look down at this sweet little face, and they’ll look up at you and smile and keep nursing away. I feel very blessed to have been able to nurse Presley for as long as I did. It made me a mother, and it made me a better nurse. Now when my patients are crying at three o’clock in the morning, I can honestly tell them that right now is the tough part, but that it will get easier. And when it does, it will be amazing.

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Adventures in Breastfeeding -Kristin

This post is a part of the Adventures in Breastfeeding Project sharing mother’s unique experiences, successes and struggles with breastfeeding. This post is by Kristin. Here’s what she had to share:
My pregnancy was a Christmas day surprise.  We really had no idea what to expect but I was certain of two things, I wanted to have a home birth and I wanted to breastfeed my baby.  That summer was hot, unlike any summer before.  I spent many evenings with my husband floating in the pool.  I will always remember those moments, floating in that pool day dreaming about what she would look like or if “she” was really a girl.  We had prepared for her birth by taking a Birthing From Within course; I assumed the rest would come naturally.

Violet was born at home on the 1st of September at 41 weeks 5 days.  My labor and her birth were hard. At 6:30 Am., my beautiful girl was born with an Apgar score of 2. While I was being treated for hemorrhaging, she was being suctioned. We were both exhausted, so nobody seemed too concerned that she wasn’t able to latch on right away.  My midwives advised me to try a nipple shield since I had flat nipples, and she had a tiny mouth.  I sent my deliriously tired husband to Babies R Us for what would become my first of many breastfeeding “tools”.

She would nurse with the shield for an hour or more at a time and when I’d pump after, I’d only get drops.  I would rarely hear her swallow, but I just kept hoping it would change when my milk came in. It never did.  There was no warmth, no engorgement, no leaking, no signs it was even there.  I tried all day long to get her to latch without the shield, hoping that was the key to our success.  My midwives came for weight checks and reassured me that my body would work, and she was just trying to get the hang of nursing.  At around a week old she stopped peeing all together, so I called my midwife in a panic. She had lost almost 2lbs.; she was starving.  I was literally starving my newborn.

From that point on, I obsessively researched how to make it better, how to fix her latch, how to make more milk.  I struggled to feed her milk that wasn’t mine, feeling like a failure with every bottle I gave her. I visited an IBCLC for help. Test feeds showed she was transferring an ounce or less, after 45 minutes of effort.  I was dismissed by them, and told “It’s okay to stop,” and “It’s too late to do anything about it” I missed my window.  “Take a break,” they told me “it’s ok to feed her formula.”  It was my fault.

I’m stubborn.  I bought the book “Making More Milk” and read it cover to cover trying to pin point why my body was failing me.  Maybe it was because I lost so much blood, or maybe something with her mouth?  Maybe my prolactin receptors didn’t form properly because she didn’t latch those early hours, or maybe my boobs were just broken.  I rented a hospital grade pump and a baby scale, I ordered Domperidone from overseas, visited an herbalist, and acquired an extensive collection of pills and gadgets that didn’t help.  At 5 weeks old, Violet latched on without a shield. I started using a supplemental nursing system (SNS) to be able to feed her at the breast.  It was a beast of a gadget; it caused many meltdowns (mostly me) and countless pools of spilled milk, but it got her to want to nurse.  We went on like this until she was about 8 months old, trying everything under the sun along the way.

By then, Violet was fully engrossed in the world of solid food.  We cut back on bottles and SNS feedings and just nursed.  I finally felt like a breastfeeding mother. All the heartache was worth it.  She loved to nurse and we kept going strong even after I went back to work when she was 11 months old.  I didn’t have much for her, but it was her comfort.  She drank her “mama milk” until I was 4 months pregnant with her brother.  September 1, 2011 was the last day Violet nursed, her second birthday.

Everett’s story is much of the same, heartbreak.  I really thought deep down it would be different.  We had an amazing home birth, a totally different experience than with Violet.  He latched!  It hurt like hell, but he latched.  The first 2 weeks I nursed him through extreme pain, using a medicine dropper to feed him the tiny amounts I pumped.  I had a galactocele (a milk filled cyst); in my nipple hat I had developed while nursing Violet that was contributing to the pain and bad latch.  At 2 weeks, my milk wasn’t enough anymore, so I had to supplement.  This time I reached out to my local community of “crunchy” moms for breast milk donations.  I was met with remarkable kindness from strangers who were doing extra work in their day to feed MY baby.  The first time I went to a donor mom’s home to pick up milk, she reached out and hugged me.  From that point on, Everett only drank breast milk until after his first birthday.  In the beginning, I was pumping 8 times a day plus nursing.  At my high point I provided half of what he needed, then I got mastitis and it dropped about 50% and never recovered.  I spent countless hours setting up SNS bottles, filling tiny capsules full of herbs, seeking out donations, and waiting for my next shipment of supplements. I went to a breast surgeon for my galactocele.  Her solution was to drain the cyst in between feeds to relieve the pressure, and hope the “drain hole” would stay open.  Draining my cyst with a syringe needle multiple times a day was added to the long list of crazy things I did to breastfeed.

I went back to work when Everett was 4.5 months old.  I pumped 2 times during the day and brought home 2-4 ounces.  It was a lot of work for what seemed like such small amount, but my milk was Everett’s perfect milk, he deserved it.  I gave up pumping when he was 14 months old to enjoy nursing my crazy toddler and stop counting the ounces.

I want to pursue my IBCLC because I love helping others nurse their babies.  I get so much joy from knowing my encouragement has helped even one person breastfeed.  I don’t know 100%  why I can’t do what my body is supposed to do, but I strongly suspect it is IGT (insignificant glandular tissue) since I had few breast changes during pregnancy, and I have some of the physical markers. My husband supported me 100% through all of the tears and heartbreak, but it was really hard for him to watch, and I know he felt helpless. I found a lot of love and support from a Facebook group for moms with IGT and also MOBI during the dark days with my daughter.
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I am a nursing mother. I am enough for my babies. I did everything I could. I gave everything I had.  I am proud, and I am sad.  I’m stronger because of this.

Adventures In Breastfeeding- Rebecca

This post is a part of the Adventures in Breastfeeding Project sharing mother’s unique experiences, successes and struggles with breastfeeding. This post is by Rebecca. Here’s what she had to share:

Being a single, working, exclusive breast feeding mom is a tough job. Well “breast” feeding isn’t 100% accurate since my son takes a bottles of breast milk when I’m away.

You go to classes, research at home, and talk to other people about what to expect. None of it fully prepares you for what you agree to when you decide your baby will only drink breast milk. There were lots of hardships in the beginning, but that’s not the story I want to share today. From the day Maverick was born I had a countdown till I returned to work. Till the day he would be away from me for 9 hours, and would have to receive my milk from some foreign object instead of his warm mom. Till the day I would have to wake 3 hours before work to nurse him as quickly as possible and check my pump bag a dozen times to assure I had every crazy piece to my free Ameda pump. Till the day i would have to hook up tubes and bottles to my breast and have it forcefully suck the milk out. As that day grew closer, the more I wanted to call and say I couldn’t work anymore.

Knowing I needed as much milk as possible, my boss agreed I could pump 3 times a day. Day one I nervously watched the clock, doing the math in my head, “I fed him at 7, so I MUST pump at 9, 12, and 3” believing my mill would dry up the next day if I didn’t do it correctly. After a few whispers from coworkers, and one rude comment, the day was done and I proudly had 11 ounces for my son, who only took 9 while I was away.

As the time went on, my pump sessions got further apart, sometimes being 5 hours before I could pump again. Being painfully engorged and constantly checking under the apron to see if I started leaking milk all over and more rude stares from coworkers because I got extra breaks during the day were pretty normal in my work day. My supply has never taken a drop, but it also has not increased. Maverick makes sure he gets the amount of milk he needs each day because he wakes 3-5 times a night to nurse. Add that with the extra time you have to wake to prepare the bottles, assure you have clean flanges, and extra bottles to store milk in, you spend more time than moms who use formula!

But knowing what is best for my son and loving his eagerness to nurse when I’m around has kept us going strong.


Wicked Hot Mostly Organic Vegan Chili

So this stuff ended up like melt your face off hot. Didn’t really see that coming. In the future I’d probably chill out with the chili powder and jalapeno but it is good this way. Just a lil spicy for kids. Which is the point of this post really. I’m gonna be starting to work on recipes for the girls in a hand written journal. Or at least I’m planning on doing that. This is the first of many to come.

Ok Here’s the recipe:
2 cans of black beans
1 can of kidney beans
1 can of white kidney beans
2 huge cans of diced tomatoes
2 cans of tomato paste
Vegetable Broth
2 celery stalks
1/4 onion
2 jalapenos
1 jar fire roasted red peppers
1 palm full of chili powder
oregano, basil, salt, pepper and garlic to taste.

*corn chips and green onion garnish.

Open cans. Chop onion and celery. Rinse beans. Layer all ingredients in a crock pot (except the garnish). Stir well. and let cook on high for 6 hours.

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Adventures in Breastfeeding- Mandy

This post is a part of the Adventures in Breastfeeding Project sharing mother’s unique experiences, successes and struggles with breastfeeding. This post is by Mandy. Here’s what she had to share:


Ian wakes around 7am (this is a new, very exciting development, as it used to be 5:50am for like, his entire life). He plays and talks and sings for a bit, then calls out, “Mommy daddy come get me!” Usually dad goes in, changes his diaper, and brings Ian into our bed, where he will nurse, if scheduling permits, for about 30 minutes. I cuddle him and play with his hair. We talk about the day. We look at Instagram photos. It’s a lovely, quiet time to transition from sleep to play play play play play until (hopefully) naptime.
Naptime is where the next nurse will happen (we may nurse in between, but those aren’t guaranteed, especially if we’re busy). We go into his room, change his diaper, turn on his small fan for white noise, grab his blue blankie that happens to be his receiving blanket, and have a nurse on a folded up brown futon. If he doesn’t pass out on the boob, the nap could very well not happen, but he at least has to have “quiet” time in his room for an hour while I take a break (i.e. pass out). His quiet time never is, but he does play pretty happily on his own with minimal disaster.

If a nap does happen, which it thankfully still does about 75% of the time, he will always want to nurse unless something super exciting is happening. He’ll go for another 30 minutes easy, and if he wakes in a bad mood, nursing is the only sure way to shift the energy. He is such an active child, always moving, always talking, and I see his nurse time help his body to slow, and when I talk to him I swear I can see his mind process.

The nighttime nurse. After teeth brushing, diaper change, story, kiss goodnight from daddy, Ian and I are back on the futon. This nurse also involves singing, and no matter how hard I try to bring new songs in the mix, I always end up singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Time After Time, My Favorite Things, The Sound Of Music, and Stay Awake from Mary Poppins. The last song is always Edelweiss, then a kiss on the forehead with the pronouncement, “All done with milks.” He’s awake and happy, tucked into bed, musical night light stuffed owl turned on, and mama’s out the door.

I’ve been nursing since 1.1.11. Before my son was born, I didn’t think much about breastfeeding. My mom breastfed me and enjoyed it. I figured I would, too. I didn’t think about bottle-feeding and I also didn’t demonize it. I didn’t think about how long I would breastfeed or if I’d breastfeed on a schedule or if I’d pump and bottle feed…I was focused on living through the whole labor and giving birth part. Everything else was on the periphery.

Then he came out: A successful water birth at home after 47 hours of labor. Ian latched easily and has pretty much stayed on. He was born 7lbs 4 oz and was over 9lbs three weeks later. A well-meaning aunt said I should only feed him every three hours or he would gain too much weight. Another aunt told me if I let him nurse for longer than ten minutes per side, “There isn’t any milk left anyway, and your nipples will become raw as hamburger.” Yea, I tried that for about 90 minutes and when I couldn’t comfort him any other way, he nursed. We’re an on-demand family, my nipples are perfect, and he’s strong as an ox and in the 50th percentile for weight.

I guess you could say my story is about not having a plan. Ian didn’t take many bottles because I am lucky enough to be able to mostly stay at home. I do a bit of work from home, and when I needed to leave, he would take a bottle when he was younger, and now he’s old enough to supplement with food until I return.

Ian will turn 3 in January. He nurses about five times per day. I think about the unusualness of our nursing relationship a lot. I justify in my head why we’re still nursing (the health benefits, the unspoken comfort he receives when he can’t express to me exactly what he wants, the precious, quiet, snuggly moments we share because my high energy, boisterous kid is most often anything but snuggly). Sometimes I fantasize about weaning (long weekends away-BY MYSELF), and there’s talk about weaning once he’s potty trained (lord knows how long that will take). Honestly, and I haven’t officially committed to it, but the concept of fullterm feeding, nursing until he’s done, feels right to me. I feel incredibly sad when I read weaning stories of moms and babes who mutually loved nursing, yet stopped because “it was time.” This is not to say that I judge mamas who have a cut off date out of necessity or just because they feel done. I’m talking about mamas who love it, who mourn it, and wean because…why? Because Americans think it’s weird to nurse a toddler. Because the toddler can ask for it. Because their community no longer supports it.
I recently heard someone say, “When we’re babies, we are encouraged to explore, walk, and talk, and for the rest of our childhood, we’re told to not touch, sit down, and be quiet.” The same goes for breastfeeding. It’s beautiful, and then your baby turns one, and it’s shameful.

So yea, I’m nursing my big old boy. He’s 33 pounds, 37 inches tall, plays soccer and baseball and volleyball and golf and thinks he’s Super Why. He asks for “Milks.” I’m not running away from this aspect of our relationship. I embrace it. I totally didn’t think I’d be the nursing toddler mom type, yet here I am. As a doula, I’m grateful I can bring my experience to the table, not to pressure anyone into breastfeeding, but to be a support for mamas who want to experience it, because it takes a tremendous amount of support. It’s usually not easy, especially in the beginning. I was lucky in terms of an easy latching kiddo and abundant supply, but I also had mastitis six times. I can’t think of anyone I know that didn’t have an issue with nursing at some point. It’s hard, and it’s easy, just like parenting.

Letting go of “the plan” has been one of the most painful lessons I’ve learned (and continue to learn) as a mom, and surrendering when Ian will be done nursing is part of the great mystery I’m beginning to embrace.

Mandy has also shared a video of her first nursing session. I instantly have fallen in love with her awesome family. So much YES.
You can follow her amazing blog here: Mama Mandy.

quiet afternoons

Our home has people coming and going constantly. School schedules, working days, working nights. Leaving for dance practice or to go pick up coffee. But there are a few times a week mila and I get a few hour block, just us two. For the most part she naps and I watch master chef. But sometimes I just watch her. Now Im not implying I don’t miss Lucy and Justin when they are out. I DO! but not always. Sometimes the quiet is just so darned nice.

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