This wasn’t the plan.

For the last 6 months I’ve (Machelle) watched as two friends continue to nurse their first baby through their 2nd pregnancy. They also plan to tandem feed once baby #2 comes along. I looked at these two moms with envy. It was like watching a big sister. “One day, that will be me!” I was ready to join the special club, and hop on the tandem nursing train. I too could be the “Ultimate Badass Breastfeeder”.

It’s taken me a week to process how I feel about what is happening- I cried for days, but now I’m coming to a point of healing.

Why? Why did I want to do this when I wasn’t even sure I was going to be able to nurse at all? Then I reached 3 months, then 6 months, then 12- and then suddenly I was nursing a 14 month walking talking toddler.

But that’s normal in my village. Lots of moms nurse into toddlerhood- and if they can do it, I can too.

We knew we wanted another baby, so we started seeing a new infertility doctor in town right after EJ turned a year old. My new specialist was actually very supportive of me continuing to nurse while taking infertility medications. I had done my research, weighed my options, and decided I was comfortable nursing EJ through infertility treatments, pregnancy and beyond.

After 12 months, EJ continued nursing and I continued pumping. However, her primary nutrition source was clearly food.

At 12 months I stopped nursing her at her school. She would get very upset when I left and I didn’t want her to get off their schedule and cry for the rest of the day. She wasn’t even nursing much when I came anyway, mostly wanted to play.

At 13 months my supply started dropping a bit because of the fertility medications, but EJ still nursed on. I stopped pumping at work- but she nursed in the morning, when I got home and at night. We did our first round of medicated IUI (insemination) with clomid and a “trigger shot”. I was convinced I was pregnant- but period came. That two week wait can be a real misleading bitch.

The nice thing about infertility is that if you fail, the turnaround time to start working on the next cycle is 3 days. So you don’t have much time to be upset that you didn’t get pregnant that month, because by day 3 of your period you start the hormones again to try, more ultrasounds to see follicles, blood work to track levels, inseminate again, and before you know it- you’re back in your two week wait.

We inseminated on November 16th.

And I had no symptoms. Nothing. In fact, since I got my positive with EJ at 9 DPO, on day 10 this time since I was still negative and no sign of symptoms I figured, “Well, this month is out…” and drank a huge espresso drink from Starbucks.

The next day I was volunteering at the hospital as a breastfeeding peer counselor. On the way to the hospital something just told me to “Go by Walgreens, get a test, and a gift bag to wrap it up in…”

I peed on the test in the staff bathroom before I started working and to my surprise- a very visible 2nd pink line appeared.

Holy fuck.

We’re pregnant.

But I couldn’t tell anyone. I had to wait until my 4 hour shift was over. On the way home, I wrapped it in the gift bag and gave it to Mary to open.

Still cautious of course, but excited. That was on Sunday 11/27.

EJ’s nursing took a sharp dip. I figured it was teething. She nurse a little on Monday, and maybe twice on Tuesday. She would latch for 1-2 seconds and then come off crying. She refused on the 30th and the 1st. I was devastated. She just stopped. She would turn away from the breast if I tried. I cried.

Thinking it was a nursing strike, I tried hand expressing- then I tasted my milk on Friday the 2nd. What once tasted like vanilla creamer now tastes like warm ocean water. No wonder she hates it.

I was completely unprepared for this. And I can’t process this sudden weaning with my village, because I’m scared to tell them I’m pregnant. What if I lose the baby? Then I’d have a toddler who weaned and no baby. I felt like she hated me. That our bond was just severed so fast.  She, actually, didn’t seem upset at all. She didn’t cry to nurse, or even “ask”. She just stopped.

I texted a couple of friends to process this. But I felt like I was in the weaning closet. I wasn’t ready to tell people why she weaned…but I don’t want to lie and make it seem like we are still nursing.

I felt so guilty. I wanted babies close together so she would tandem. I felt like the village outcast.  Everybody else could do it. But me.

So after a few days of crying, I calmed down.

It’s not my fault, I had the best of intentions. It was EJ’s decision, and who can blame her with such salty milk? It’s okay to grieve a relationship that ended before I was ready. Many people would have loved to be able to nurse their baby for 14 months.

I decided I needed to focus on building our bond in other ways the next 9 months before our world really changes. And I’ll probably have a huge over supply again and I can just put my extra in her cereal, right?

The plan was we’d find out we were pregnant, and I would nurse through pregnancy, then tandem with a flower crown in a field like some lactation goddess. But that’s not my reality- and since I can’t change it, I just have to change the way I think about it.

6 months

I know, I know.

We used to be so good about actually updating this every.  Single.  Week.

Right, but that’s when I was just pregnant. Then the baby actually came…and…

Well…then I went back to work…
Then she started daycare…
Then spring semester started…
Then Mary got a new job with more responsibilities…

And then its like we blinked and we suddenly have a 6 month old who found her feet and is on the verge of sitting up on her own.  She has distinct preferences. She loves popping sounds, sleeping on her side, any teething toy.  She can be very fussy, but turn on Adele’s “Hello” and she is calm within 5 seconds.

She’s been in daycare now for almost 3 months.  She’s brought home some germs- a GI bug and pink eye…but other than that doing pretty well.  We love our daycare and her teachers are so nice.  I go by the daycare once a day to nurse her- and she is always being held and loved on.

Waiting for a baby seems to go by so much slower then actually watching the baby grow up.  She’s isn’t a newborn anymore, certainly not tiny.

She’s almost 16 pounds, and truthfully I have no idea how long she is but I will next week at her check up.

And we’ve changed too…

While I don’t recall every saying it; Mary swears I promised that we wouldn’t co-sleep or bedshare.  Whelp…then that 4 month sleep regression happened; and EJ sleeps with us 90% of the time.

I swore my baby wouldn’t ever watch TV….til I needed just 20 minutes to tidy up the house.

I swore I wouldn’t buy girly cloths.  Yeah…about that.  I just bought lady bug shoes tonight and planned out her outfit for our breastfeeding photo shoot (it involves a tutu and flower headband.)

And yes, we met our first breastfeeding goal of 6 months.  And its all going well- so we hope to meet our next goal, 12 months 🙂

I’ll try to do better about updating…thought at least if I wrote a blurb it would get me back in the habit.

 

 

 

 

The day before daycare 

Geeze–all I feel like doing is screaming, crying, jumping up and down and slapping every stay at home mom I can find (Ok, maybe not actually slapping–but at least cutting them a dirty look).

Tomorrow EJ starts daycare part time (3 days a week) while Machelle and I both are back at work full time. We have transitioned our schedule to both still work 40 hours a week but just longer days so we can both have an EJ day and she will only have to be there part time. 

I know that we are paying them to watch our child–and we like them–but nothing compares to having someone at home with EJ. She’s so freaking adorable, starting to become extremely interactive and now for part of the day–these people at daycare are going to get to spend that time with her. 

They don’t do cloth wipes, like we do at home–and in all reality, it’s difficult to find any daycare that truly supports cloth diapering and breastfeeding. I know, somewhere deep down, that for right now we are making the right decision for our family. It may not always be the same decision that we stick to–but it’s what we have to do right now. Does that make it any easier to know that tomorrow will be the first time she is away from one mom or another for longer than a few hours? No. Absolutely 100% no. 

I keep trying to remain positive and not get bogged down in the negative–especially when Machelle is around because I know she is hurting just as bad if not more than I am. 

I also know that this daycare is full of good staff and the babies are always interacting with someone when we go in there. I try to think that this will make her going to kindergarten easier–because by then we will be old pros at this. I try to think about the tons of children who have gone to daycare and been absolutely fine. 

In the car this afternoon Machelle tells me she hopes that EJ didn’t inherit the biting that Machelle was guilty of while she was in childcare. 

Great. Here’s to hoping we win the lottery.  

    
    
 

Token of Accomplishments

I’ve (thankfully) never needed to be in “in recovery”- but I like the idea of how they pass out “tokens” for milestones. Little bits of accomplishments you can carry around in your pocket.  “2 months sober” type of thing.

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They should make those for breastfeeding moms.  Like, every time you go to our version of “AA” (La Leche League Meetings, Breastfeeding USA meetings, or Mother’s Milk Support Groups), if you’ve held your shit together for another month, you get a shiny new token.

Literally, they seem just like AA- I mean, it is peer support.  “Hi, my name is Machelle, and this is Emerson.  She’s 11 weeks old and nursing is going well but…”

Sometimes I half expect the other moms in the room to say in unison, “Hi Machelle…”

I’m pretty fortunate, I don’t have any terrible problems.  But it’s the same stories every week:
“My mother in law is pressuring me to give formula…”
“I have mastitis…again!”
“My nipples feel like they are going to fall off…”
“My husband wants to give a bottle to bond but I’m not ready to pump yet…”
“My father got upset when I breastfed at a restaurant…”
“I don’t have supportive family…”
“My baby was in the NICU/premature/had surgery and now won’t latch as well…”

I didn’t really grow up “seeing” breastfeeding.  Honestly, the first and last time I saw someone nurse a baby (before I was actually pregnant myself) was about 4 years ago.  Mary’s cousin, who also happens to be a LLL leader had just had her 2nd child, a son.  He oldest daughter was still a toddler.  We met them at a bar (okay, that sounds bad- but its like a family-friendly craft beer establishment).  She nursed her new son, without a cover, in public.  (GASP).  And then, she nursed her toddler (DOUBLE GASP!!!) I wasn’t offended, or embarrassed or anything- I was honestly amazed….and wanted to learn more without being the creepy lesbian wife of your cousin trying to figure out “exactly what you are doing…”  I was curious, because I hadn’t “seen” nursing before.  I was honestly trying to workout the logistics of how it all worked in my head.

When I was about 7 or 8 months pregnant, I went to a birth circle, and saw nursing for the 2nd time in my adult life.  There were 3 or 4 moms there and all of them just whipped out their boobs and fed their child like it was nothing.  Again, I didn’t want to stare, but I was mystified.  I was half tempted to be like, “Look, I’m about to have a baby in the next month or two, and I’m not trying to be creepy, I’m trying to watch and learn…”

You know, like the way you watch a cooking show and figure out how to do something.  Or the way you learn to dissect a frog in anatomy.  You watch someone else more experienced do it before you give it a go.

When I was pregnant, I had two co workers that pumped at work.  I asked them for advice.  They were exclusive pumpers, not “to the breast-feeders”.  They asked me about what cover I was getting- but I had already heard that so many babies hated eating in the dark with something on their head.  I casually said, “I’m not sure I’m going to use one.”

GASP!  You would have thought I said I was going to run naked up and down Wrightsville Beach.

“IN PUBLIC?!?!?!”

Uhhh…yeah.  I guess so.

The first 6 weeks, I tried to use a cover.  Honestly it is way harder than it looks, its hot, EJ hates it, and I think it draws more attention to me.  I hate the cover- it works for some, and good for them.  There are times when I want to have a bit more modesty- but I’m slowly getting to a point while I’m nursing that you really can’t see anything, even if I don’t use a cover.  EJ and I- we are getting to be pros at this.

A new store in Wilmington has started selling nursing shirts for us plus-sized ladies, and Mary got me two- they are freaking awesome because I can nurse more discreetly without a cover.

So, I’ve somehow become one of those women I stared at.   Half of Wilmington has probably seen a little flash of my boobs.  Sometimes I see women, often they are pregnant, sort of looking- and I know why.  They too didn’t “see” nursing growing up- and they’re just trying to “watch and learn”.

A girl I met who I know is breastfeeding her 10 or 11 month old son just told us she is expecting.  She was so excited.  Which means, it gave me hope that one day I might find myself tandem nursing two babes…I might have to watch and learn how she does it  (with 2!) a little more.

Anywho, the reason I felt the need to write about “seeing” someone nurse:
Last weekend, our original plan was to meet our friend (a photographer) for some outdoor holiday pictures.  As luck would have it, it was raining that day.   So instead, we went to her house for some pictures in front of the tree.  And of course EJ got hungry.  She had mentioned taking some nursing pictures, and I’ve seen others have them on social media, but the thought of someone photographing you while nursing seems a little…well, weird.  So what was supposed to be an outdoor Christmas party photo session, turned into an indoor one with a side of nursing.  But I’m so glad it happened, because they make me feel like I’ve accomplished something, like I’ve reached a milestone of success.

My breastfeeding “token” of accomplishments I can carry around in my pocket.

 

 

2 Months of Bliss

Yep– I (Mary) am going to be that Mom.

I am going to be the one that talks about how wonderful everything is and make you wonder why your baby isn’t as perfect as mine.

Emerson Jane turns 2 months old today and I love her more than I did the day that she was born.

When I have to go to work in the mornings, it still stings–but it is getting a little easier. I know that she is at home with Machelle and that they are having a blast. Machelle is the best mom that I have ever been around. She is so incredibly loving and I fall in love with her a little more every day too.

Emerson loves baths (except for the one she had last night). She loves her other Mom’s new baby carrier and she loves going places. She loves to ride in the car and is generally a happy baby. She also loves to watch the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers are 8-0 going for 9-0 this afternoon against the Titans. I know kids are not supposed to have screen time before the age of 2–but spare me the lecture please–I do not care. Her sneezes are adorable–hell, even her poops are adorable.

Even when she is not happy, she is still perfect. She is starting to smile, babble, coo, and interact more with the environment around her.

Machelle’s aunt came to visit us this weekend and we were so happy to see her! She lives in Virginia and were so thankful that she was able to take time and come meet Emerson!

We were walking downtown this afternoon/morning and we stopped on a bench so that Machelle could breastfeed. The sun was shining, it was gorgeous and I couldn’t help but notice the incredibly peaceful and beautiful moment that was taking place between Emerson and Machelle. They were both so relaxed and so one with each other–it was wonderful. It still amazes me that Emmie can be completed sustained on the milk that Machelle’s body provides.

Between the breast feeding and the cloth diapers, I told Machelle this morning that EJs ecological footprint is pretty much non existent. I am not huge in to ecological footprints–but its pretty neat to think about.  Machelle takes EJ to an outing almost every single day–between play groups and baby yoga–and she is just wonderful. I hear other Moms say that they are cautious of when they take their baby out because they are sleeping–that has never stopped us. If she is sleeping, she comes along just like she would if she were awake.

While Machelle’s aunt was down, we watched the videos of when EJ was just born in the hospital and although it has only been 2 months, the videos still make me tear up. We talked to Machelle’s aunt about feeling like we were waiting for the bottom to fall out because everything just seems too perfect. She basically told us to stop doing that and focus on what is going well right now–I appreciated hearing that. She also told us that Machelle’s other aunt had told her that Machelle and I were 2 of the best parents that she had seen in a while. I am not sure if she will ever know how much that meant to me. When people tell me I am a good parent, it is the most rewarding compliment that I could ever receive.

Emerson’s 2 month appointment is tomorrow–so that means shot time 😦 I know that Machelle will be fine because she used to work in a Pediatrician office and is accustomed to what will happen–but I am a little nervous.

After her appointment, we go to the daycare that EJ will be going to in December. We will be able to ask the questions that we may not have known that we had when we toured about 6 months ago. I guess we will need to make sure that we ask the correct questions, but I am not that worried about her going to daycare. I know that this place will be taking excellent care of her–it just won’t be at home.

I don’t have too much else to say this afternoon–because I would rather be staring at my perfect daughter.

Oh–I think that I can see a date night on the horizon–stay tuned for that :-D..

I’ll just leave these pictures right here…
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It Doesn’t Matter How You Feed Your Baby…It’s Wrong.

I (Machelle) have determined that if you are a mom feeding your baby in public- you’re doing it wrong.
Breastfeeding?  How dare you expose a small portion of your breast in public! There are children!  My husband might see your nipple!  This is a restaurant and I’m trying to eat!  
Feeding with a bottle?  You’re being judged- I promise.
“I hope that’s breastmilk in there!”  “Are you aware of the risks associated with formula feeding?!?!”  “Don’t you want the best for your baby?!?!”
So I have determined, it doesn’t matter what you do- you’re screwed.  I read an article over the weekend in which one mom who uses formula would try to arrange her schedule so that her baby wouldn’t need to be fed while out.  Or she would go out to the car to give her baby a bottle because she didn’t want to be judged by other moms.
Oh wow.  Doesn’t that sound familiar?  Because I nurse in the car all the time.
Its like its impossible to just feed your baby in a way that works for you unless it’s done at home,  in the car, in the bathroom- out of the public eye.  Which is hard to do when your baby wants to eat every 2-4 hours while awake.  That’s barely enough time for a meal or a trip to a store.
You know whats more distracting and disturbing then a little boob showing or a mom giving her baby a bottle?  A screaming, hungry infant.
I have to have faith that all parents want whats best for their babies.  Just let mom’s feed their babies how they see fit.
I apologize for the rant.  Here’s some cute pictures of EJ to make me seem less jaded.
In other news:
1. She passed her hearing screen (yay!)
2. She officially has hit the 6 week fussies.
3. We start Mommy & Me yoga tomorrow.
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Coming Out…of the Crunchy Closet

When I (Machelle) worked at a local pediatrician’s office as an MA, I could spot the “crunchy” moms when they walked in the door.  I didn’t have anything against them but I didn’t always understand them.  My only experience with pediatrics was what I had learned on the job. 

They were easy to spot.  They’d walk in “wearing” their babies.  What did they have against just bringing in the car seat?

I’d bring them back to a room and ask them to undress the baby while I started asking the routine questions.  How often is she nursing?  How often does she have wet diapers?  Where does the baby sleep?  Daycare?  What questions or concerns do you have for the doctor?

I left that job over a year ago and could still rattle off the age-based questions from memory, grade a developmental questionnaire in my sleep and try as I might, I still can’t forget the vaccine schedule.

The crunchy moms had babies in cloth diapers.  They were cute, I agreed, but I didn’t get why they “made it harder on themselves”.  Their babies nursed on demand instead of on a set schedule, they co slept, they wanted to discuss the vaccine schedule.

I respected their decisions, but “Why don’t they just make it easy?” I thought… Feed your baby every 3 hours, sleep train, use disposable diapers, and put that kid in a crib.  Why are you crying over your breastfeeding struggles?

Yeah.  Okay, I think we know where this is going.  Then I became pregnant.

Look, I’m in grad school- I finish the MBA in May, but in the meantime I need to pinch pennies.  Textbooks each semester sometimes cost $200 EACH.  How can I save houndreds of dollars so I can get the books I need and finish the program before she starts walking?  Cloth diapers.

Plus, they’re kind of fun.  Need more?  No need to run to the store- just do a load of laundry.

I became committed to breastfeeding success.  Went to several classes while I was still pregnant and take advantage of every breastfeeding support group in the Wilmington area.  We go to at least 2 a week.  I don’t always have questions, but sometimes I just need to be around other people who know what its like to nurse a baby 24/7.  So far, so good.  (Plus, its cheap- also making textbooks more affordable…)  The the lactation support groups get me out of the house and prevent post partum depression…double win!

Baby wearing?  Well hell, that’s just convenient.  I love having two hands available while out and about with her.  And if you’re getting up every 2-3 hours to nurse a baby why in the hell would you put it in another room?  Might as well make it easy on yourself and keep her within arm’s distance so you can nurse and go back to sleep as soon as possible.

So, for a long time, I was denial about my “crunchiness”.  I mean, I just want to save money, not get depressed, get more sleep and have two hands available at Target.  I’m not crunchy…

That’s the thing.  Crunchy sneaks up on you.  And before I knew it- Any ailment anyone in the house had I’m convinced can be fixed by squirting breastmilk on it. Diaper rash, baby acne and eczema can be magically cured by breastmilk- I’ve seen it happen with my very eyes.   “Why don’t we just bathe in this stuff?” I thought.

And then, a lady told me about this woman who will take your breastmilk and turn it into bar soap.  Wow!  This will help her baby acne and my eczema!

And when I forked over $25 to have my breastmilk turn into soap it hit me.  Shit.  When you get to the point of turning breastmilk into soap- you’re crunchy…no doubt about it.

So here we are.  We wear cloth diapers.  I love our Ergobaby carrier.  We exclusively breastfeed on demand.  The baby sleeps with us.  And apparently, we are going bathing in my breastmilk.

I’d write more…but we have a busy day today.  “Boob Club” (Lactation Support group) starts at 11 🙂

Oh yeah- one other sort of “crunchy” thing I did this week- made her first Halloween costume…She’s a “Very Hungry Caterpillar”.  I did the cocoon and the antennae and a friend made the red cap, eyes and nose.

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