Thursday, May 21, 2015

Breastfeeding Battles

In life, I have had to say hello and goodbye to a lot of different things. We all have.

We said hello to riding a bike all by ourselves, and goodbye to training wheels. We said hello to a full day of school and goodbye to careless days of endless freedoms and naptime. We said hello to parenthood and goodbye to our selfish childless ways.

Having Lydia come into our lives was one of the biggest HELLOS I have ever faced (second only to marriage).

It pretty much meant we would be saying hello to a lot of new things all at once. I've been really sentimental with every stage of hellos and goodbyes that Lydia passes through -like crying when she moved out of her newborn sized diaper-and I know that goodbyes will only get more difficult than moving out of a diaper size.

Someday our baby will go to school, have a job, move away, get married, and have babies of her own. And then there will be no more hellos.. just a lot of goodbyes to pass through.

One of the hellos that came with having Lydia was my hello to breastfeeding.
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During pregnancy I was excited about breastfeeding but also so nervous that I would dream about it EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. I would dream that I ate apples and only produced apple juice. I dreamed that I would forget to feed my baby for weeks on end. I would have nightmares that I couldn’t feed my baby or get myself to make any milk at all.

This all made me even more nervous for the arrival of baby Lydia because in the back of my mind the cloud of “breast is best” loomed over everything.

I was told often that it was the greatest gift I could give my baby, and sure it was, but like a lot of gifts, it requires some sort of sacrifice-and in the case of a new mom, that requires a lot of time and attention, really sore nipples, patience, and lots of crying on both the baby and your part.

Now.. I’m going to be blunt.. I’ve said before that I truly believe that our experiences can reach out and help others, but we first have to share them right?

To prepare myself for breastfeeding, I actually cut little inch in diameter circles out of sandpaper and wore it in my bra for a few weeks before I gave birth. I wanted to toughen myself up a bit so that the first 2 weeks wouldn’t be as bad. I know. That sounds absolutely horrible. But throughout the day it would move around enough to just be a bit uncomfortable and toughen me up a little bit.

And honestly.. I felt myself get a little tougher each day. I don’t say everyone needs to do what I did because we all know that is a bit crazy. I just really wanted to prepare myself to be a champion mother-and in my na├»ve mind that meant-breastfeeding my new baby no matter what.

I can’t tell you if the sandpaper really worked or not because it still hurt like crazy the first two weeks of breastfeeding but maybe it helped it not be so much of a shock.

Lydia was a sucking champ. In her first HOUR of life, she gave herself this lovely blister on her finger because she came out of the womb sucking it. Now imagine that on the nipples. Yeah! OUCH!

The beginning of breastfeeding was just weird. It felt weird, trying to hold her was awkward and I just had absolutely no idea what I was doing. It was special too.. it was amazing to know that the body that had fed this baby inside the womb, was now feeding the baby outside as well. I do admit that I did feel a special bond with Lydia-though it could have come more from the fact that she was my child and not from breastfeeding alone.

It was hard to know if I was feeding her enough and how to control my milk supply. Sometimes I felt like I was so full I could feed an army of babies and other times I felt like I was squeezing every last drop to feed the baby.

I already talked about my first night of motherhood-so I guess I should have known that the “prefect” scenarios I imagine up don’t really happen. I tell myself to prepare for the worst, but I don’t really do that.. I just kind of expect the perfect to happen or that the perfectionism in me will make whatever scenario perfect by just working at it.

Well the first few months went by and I will admit that I felt like I was a breastfeeding and pumping champ. But I was a slave to my milk in many ways. When I wasn’t feeding Lydi, I was pumping and there were times at night when I would have to get up and pump because I’d be so full.

My goal was to save a bag or two of breastmilk each day in the deep freezer to use when we needed (like when I was away from Lydia) and to use towards the end of breastfeeding. Little did I know how much I would really need those saved up.

Random side note-I was NOT the best public breastfeeder. It always made me really nervous and it was just hard to do while remaining covered sometimes (especially with a wild child). My sister told me to get this handpump and I used it in the car when we would drive places (like church) and then I’d have a bottle ready to feed her in public and wouldn’t have to go find somewhere to feed her. It was and will remain a diaper bag necessity for me.

I had friends tell me “You were born to have kids and breastfeed” because it seemed to come so naturally for a few months. And honestly.. I really liked doing it. Lydia was a quick eater. I’d go to the doctor and he would ask how long I fed her on each side and I would say 10 minutes and they would act all concerned and then hurry off to weigh the baby only to find that she was plumping up just swell.

I will admit, I thought to myself on many occasions- “Breastfeeding is not so bad at all!”

Around 4 months, I noticed that Lydia had some white spots on her lips and I immediately knew it was thrush (a fungal infection). My sister’s kids had dealt with it and so I was pretty familiar with it all. Talking to my sister, she told me that I needed to get on Lydia on medicine as soon as possible before it got worse or spread to me.

I went into the doctor, who checked Lydia and confirmed it was thrush but told me to call him back in a week or so if it had progressed. I was furious because I knew it would only get worse. Within one day it was all over me- And by the next day after that I couldn’t even nurse without crying because I was chapped and bleeding. I made Brian call the doctor and demand some medicine. Okay.. demand is a bit strong, but I was a wee emotional at the time and knew Brian would be able to be firm and let him know our need.

On top of the thrush-I could tell that I had a milk blister (bleb or plugged nipple pore). It was a teeny weeny dot the size of the end of a pin, but it was sore and it burned and hurt. No matter what I did, I could not unclog it.

My storage of freezer milk came in handy during this time because I would pump during the day and then just freeze it and feed her my saved supply and restock it as we went. We were given an oral Nystatin for Lydia which didn’t end up working and then it was on to Fluconazole. I just used a cream that my friend had given me which worked great for me in getting rid of the thrush (not the clog though), it just took a while for Lydia to get better.

During all this, Lydia’s weight plateaued and after a month and a half she started to lose weight. This got us quite a bit concerned and the doctor had me come in every 2 weeks to see if she was gaining anything.

Around 6 months, I could tell there was something else wrong as well.. She wouldn’t eat from me as much and I just felt empty all the time and never had the feeling that I was full of milk anymore. When I did feed her, I felt like I just kept switching sides back and forth, back and forth to get anything out. She on the other hand, would stop eating because she would get tired of sucking and having nothing come out.

We went to a new doctor and found she had a double ear infection, which solved part of the problem but she still would get tired of sucking because I wasn’t making enough anymore. My milk was just not there. And the milk blister was still causing me a lot of pain. I talked to the doctor who told me that due to hormonal changes around 6 months-my body could be drying up the milk. She told me to try lactation cookies, and try pumping more often, and drinking more liquids which I tried. Nothing seemed to be working.

Brian sat down with me and told me that we were going to give Lydia formula and that I could keep trying to breastfeed her if I wanted, but that she was obviously not getting enough and she needed more.

This was probably the most difficult for me emotionally. I liked breastfeeding, things had been going great-I wasn’t supposed to have all these problems in the “scenerios” in my head.

My family and friends know that I was going around asking everyone’s opinions.. I guess I just wanted validation that I was doing the right thing. I had this perfect scenario in my head right? The one where I was a perfect breastfeeding mom and would do it for the perfect amount of time and all would be well.

But Lydia was not getting enough and I needed to try another option. 

I knew it was ultimately up to me. It wasn’t as if I could tell a difference between the breastfed vs formula fed babies or anything and I knew that it was me that had to get over the fact I would soon have to say goodbye to breastfeeding and hello to formula.

Well.. I have been done for over a month now and I have my last 2 bags of breastmilk that will be used today and tomorrow. Lydia has been having a few formula and breastmilk bottles each day and after tomorrow she will be solely on formula.

And guess what? I have come to the conclusion that it just doesn’t matter as much as I was making it out to be. So this is what I would say to new mothers and those wondering about breastfeeding vs formula.

1.    We should not judge. While I felt like I was going to be judged by everyone as a breastfeeding failure, I think I judged myself more than anything.  

I went to take pictures of a 6 month old back in March. I got talking to the mom and I asked if she was breastfeeding. Her response was no, followed immediately by a rehearsed list of why she couldn’t breastfeed-meaning that she was expecting me to judge her right then and there for her feeding choices. I instantly wanted to come to her defense and let her know that I wasn’t going to judge her. It made me feel bad that she felt she had to give me reasons why she was formula feeding her child. That just isn’t how it should be. We should not have to worry about being judged. Everyone should just expect that each and every mother is just doing their best and that best may be formula.

I was worried people would be like, “She must not have worked hard enough to breastfeed. She gave up too fast. What a shame she isn’t breastfeeding that baby” There are many reasons why people can’t breastfeed or even don’t want to.

At the end of the day, we are all mamas who just want the best for their little ones so let’s not judge or criticize.

2.     It doesn’t matter how your baby is being fed, just that she is being fed. The way you feed your baby is your business. It comes down to what you want and need and what your family wants and needs.

A lady I used to nanny for could only breastfeed her babies because they wouldn’t take a bottle. Whereas another family I nannyed for couldn’t breastfeed because her baby had to have very special formula because she had so many allergies.

It’s the same for starting solids with a 4 month old vs a 6 month old. As long as the baby is being fed, we shouldn’t care! You know your baby best and how you want to do it perfectly acceptable. 

3.     Nurturing is more than milk. It is defined as caring for someone and encouraging them to grow and develop. Nurturing is how you love that child and it encompasses the sacrifices you make physically, emotionally, and socially to protect and rear that child.

I was worried that by feeding Lydia formula we would lose the special bond that we shared together. This was not so at all! In some ways, our bond has only deepened because I knew that I loved this baby so much that I was willing to do anything to help her in any way I could.  

4.     You know what is best for your child. And you also know what is best for you. You may not be able to breastfeed-maybe your baby doesn’t latch or your milk supply is low like mine was. Maybe you battle thrush or mastitis or clogged milk ducts or maybe you just don’t want to breastfeed. There should be no shame in that.

I had to change the whole "quitting" early from using the word quit. I have never quit loving this baby with my whole heart and I am just doing what is best for her and for me.
My baby girl is healthy and gaining weight like she should be. It was a bit nerve-racking for me to know what to do, but this is what was best for us right now.

I will still encourage my mama friends to at least try breastfeeding, but I will understand if it doesn't work out and cheer them on if it does. While I used to be of the opinion that “anyone” could breastfeed, I’m pretty sure that Heavenly Father wanted to teach me that it isn’t as simple as it looks and not everyone can or wants to.

I loved all 203 days that I was able to breastfeed this baby girl and I will try it again with the next and maybe we’ll go for 204 days… who knows? But I will try again.

I actually enjoyed the night time feeding (ask me if that still remains after my next child) because it was a quiet time where I would feed her and then she would fall asleep in my arms and I would just hold her close.

Breastfeeding kept me linked to my daughter in a way I hadn’t felt before. I focused on her and what we alone were sharing together. I paid attention to the little things, the way she would swing her hand back and forth or the way she would caress my hair with her stubby fingers as she ate. I am grateful for those moments and will hold the memories close-chest to chest, heart to heart.

Goodbye breastfeeding! Until we meet again.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Kendells Take Chicago

    My parents and little sister Brooke came out to visit us the last weekend in April. It was honestly one of the best weekends we have had in a long time. My mom has only been once before (right when I had Lydia so we didn't get to do a whole lot at that time for obvious reasons) and it was my Dad's and Brooke's first time visiting so we tried to pack a lot in to the 3 days they were here.

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      The first day we went to our favorite breakfast joint called Wildberry. Hands down the best breakfast food I have ever have and I am usually not a big breakfast person! Then we went and drove around all the mansions and cool houses in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff. It was a bit too cold to get out and walk it. But we stopped quickly and got out to show them Lake Michigan at one of the beaches.

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Lydia decided to share her lunch with Brian. 
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    That night, after Brian was done with school and tests, we ordered our favorite deep dish pizzas from The Silo and rented a redbox and just played with Lydia. She loved having her grandparents and auntie visiting. It was Christmas all over again!

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      Saturday we got ready to drive into Chicago to first do the architecture tour by boat (which is THE BEST way to see Chicago) and then walk around and see the Bean at Millennium Park and Magnificent Mile and whatnot. We were pooped by the time we got back to the car and ready for naps.

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Seahawks in honor of my brother James serving an LDS mission in Seattle Washington.
     Sunday we went to church and came home for a quick walk and lunch before they all took off for the airport. Short and sweet was the visit (a bit too short for me-I wanted them here longer!) but it was so nice to have them come see us! We love having family out!!
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Friday, May 1, 2015

Wild Child: 6&7 Months

     More than half a year has passed since we welcomed Miss Lydia into the world and into our home and hearts. I will admit that it hasn't been the easiest time. Between battling baby acne, colds, thrush, low milk supply, an angry bleeding diaper rash, a clogged nipple pore, and double ear infections-my poor baby girl has had it rough. But looking back. those things are the "little bad things" because the joy and happiness that has come with this girl and all the things that she is learning and doing far outweigh all of it.
     Honestly even the distress that labor brought with all those contractions, and the painful beating that a woman's body goes through to bring a child into the world-is so faded that I can't even remember what the pain really felt like. Which is such a blessing in so many ways.. Don't get me wrong, I know there was pain, and a lot of it, but it isn't something I remember very clearly and I think Heavenly Father has big part in that. We remember those first pure moments of joy when we held new life and the raw emotion that was in the room.
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     7 minutes old and 7 months old... I feel like I was just holding my newborn baby and now I am chasing after a crawling wild child.

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This girl is my little diva. She has quite the attitude ha! I have loved watching her personality develop more and more over the months. She is my social butterfly and wants to be involved in everything-meaning the center of attention!
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Now that it is finally warmer-we are enjoying the nice weather by going to the parks. This girl loves swings! Look at that crazy hair!!
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"Lincoln and Lydia swinging at a park..."
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    She is learning and growing so much! She loves to feed herself and usually ends up stuffing her face with everything we put on her plate. She is a "crawler" for her own form of the word. She knows how to get from point A to point B but she does it in her own style by flopping like a fish out of water. It's hilarious. But she is so fast at it that I wonder if she'll ever learn normal crawling.
    She is still sleeping 12-13 hours at night with one wake up that we are currently trying to get her to break. She is a major chatter box and will talk and squeal your ears off if you let her. Her favorite toys are her fingers but she'll grab anything out of your hand and make it into something to chew on if you aren't careful. She loves to eat bananas and if you leave a bottle in site she will zoom across the room and grab it before you know what hit you.
    She loves looking at board books and is trying really hard to turn the pages. She and the cat have become "friends" which pretty much means they just ignore each other. She is very animated and makes THE BEST faces that get us all worked up in laughter (which only eggs her on).  photo DSC_0133_zpsasswwjr9.jpg  photo DSC_0143_zps0dppyt4t.jpg
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Oh I live for this face! Sometimes Brian and I just go sit beside her crib and watch her sleep-both secretly wanting to wake her up and play with her.  photo DSC_0234_zps5e3nmovv.jpg
Bath sinks are the best! Best load of dishes I've ever done!
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