Category Archives: breastfeeding

Nurtured or Not

Have you ever wondered what makes a child “nurtured”?  I got to thinking about it today.  Someone made a breastfeeding comment that offended this very vocal (formerly) nursing mama.

It made me feel bad about the minimal formula my older two had after birth.  They were jaundice and my milk took awhile to come in…blah, blah, blah.  My second child had exactly one syringe of formula, every other drop came from mama.

Anyway, none of that actually matters.

What I am trying to say, is that got me thinking about what makes a child nurtured.

A few things it is NOT:

  • breastfeeding
  • cloth diapering
  • cry it out or not
  • homemade baby food
  • babywearing

It is:

Mamas making the best decisions they can for their child(ren) taking all aspects of a situation into account. Maybe for some moms, at least for a season, they choose to do some or all of the above as part of nurturing their child(ren).

Other mamas may look at their life and child and find other things nurture their child.  Maybe it includes formula feeding, daddy doing the night time feedings, co-sleeping, staying at home full-time, working outside the home full-time.

It takes different forms for different women and families.  And for everyone, it will take different forms as the child(ren) grow.  Somehow, mamas need to know and understand that nurturing is different for every family and will be different in all the many phases of growth and learning.

Nurturing is not defined by any one action or decision.  It is loving that child in the moment for who they are and how they are.  Loving will lead to nurturing, no matter what form that takes.

Can I Do Saturday Confessions on Sunday?

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I have a million blog posts in my mind. I have a million other thoughts in my mind. It is hard to put any of them together. I couldn’t come anywhere near putting them together yesterday.

So, can you join me in pretending I am writing my Secret Mommyhood Confessions on Saturday? I’ll confess my need to follow all rules, even which day to post topics, on another Sunday Saturday…

In case you missed it, I recently weaned Patrice after 19 months of nursing. Of course, if you missed that, we have never crossed paths on twitter or my blog, so I should say, “HELLO, welcome to my part of the web!”

Back to the topic at hand.

Weaning her makes me sad, and scared.

Now before you think I’m getting on a high horse about how breast is best…let me pause and say, I believe that, but that is not any part of this blog post. I’ll let others worry about beating that drum.

I’m sad and scared for me, not her.

I’m sad because I was uber proud of being a nursing mama. It was something I set out to do and did it. Big confession here, I did it was some judgment of other mamas and from a high horse, but that is another topic, heck probably one for the doctor and I to deal with. Please let me say I’ve been learning a lot about that high horse and I’m climbing off of it.

I’m sad because now anybody can do any or all of Patrice’s care. She doesn’t really need me anymore. Daddy can do everything I can. A lot of it better than I. I can’t sit and cuddle her without her wanting to nurse. This morning she clawed me when I wouldn’t nurse her and tried to just hold her. She climbs into daddy and “Miss Susie’s” arms to be rocked. Not mine. Never mine.

I’m scared I will lose my place in the breastfeeding world. Who will listen to someone who weaned their baby for their own needs instead of letting the baby self-wean?

I’m scared the depression will deepen, as it already has, due to the hormone changes associated with weaning. Weaning itself can cause postpartum depression. What if I get even worse? I am hanging on by fingernails as it is.

And my biggest fear is the hormone changes will allow the Multiple Sclerosis to come out of remission and I will lose the physical progress I have made. And that terrifies me. A horrible run, where you fall flat on your face, is better than one single minute of steroid treatments for MS or half a moment in a wheelchair. What if the nursing and pregnancy, continuous for all these years, has kept me healthy. What will I do if I wake up one morning and I literally no longer know which was is up? I am pickin’ scared of that possibility. Just typing it is making me dizzy. Oh no.

(Um, yeah, I think it is a good thing I have a standing appointment with my doctor every week!!!!!)

What makes you sad or scared about a big change in your life?

Join me at Kimberly’s.

Shopped Mercy–Loved What I Got!

I made my first purchase from the Mercy Shop and I LOVE what I found.  So does Patrice.  And our family doctor.  And I think you might too!

It says mmm.breastfed.mom

And that works for me! 

Wordlessly…or close to it.

Weight Gain in Babe 2

So Sue was born 15 1/2 months after Caitlyn.  By this time Caitlyn was doing much better in her weight gain and development.

So I guess it must have been time for round 2 of why gain weight…

Sue, from the very beginning, decided not to gain.  She lost her entire 10% plus a bit, and then thought gaining an ounce about every 3+ days was a good idea.  Mind you, the experts like to see babies gain on average an ounce a day.

Praise the Lord we had our wonderful doctor.  She understood my little girl.  And decided we could just watch her.  Sue thought it would be fun to spit up a lot.  She would eat and spit it up.  She was a happy spitter…she did not seem to be in any pain…the only pain was having to change her clothes, and mine,. all the time.

The doctor and I just watched it.  And watched it as Sue very consistently gained slowly in the under the 3rd percentile.  Then she started gaining even less.  At 10 months the doctor decided it was time to treat the reflux.  I hated it, but my doctor had continued to earn my trust by taking things very slowly.

She had not jumped to formula supplements.  She knew breastmilk was the best thing for Sue.  While babies on average take in less fluid ounces than a formula fed baby, the breastmilk can be more completely used by the baby–giving more caloric bang for her eating buck.

She had also not forced early solids.  To the contrary, we had actually backed off Sue’s amount of solids to make sure she was taking in as much breastmilk as possible…you know that caloric bang for her eating buck.

We did some lacto-engineering.  I pumped after she would nurse to increase the hindmilk, the fattier milk with more calories.  We even did a little bit of playing with her pumped bottles.  I would take 2 after they cooled, skim the heavier milk off from both and combine it in one bottle.  Did it help?  Hard to tell, but some combination did, Sue went back to her 3rd percentile weight gain.

Shortly after she turned a year, she started gaining a bit more for a few months.

Right after she turned two, we finally got decently on the chart.  That lasted a few months, then she got a stomach virus and lost a pound in 3 days.  But we got that back on.

The child eats, a lot.  Half the time she out eats her older sister.  So do we know why she gains slowly, no.  Maybe she is just lucky and has a fast metabolism.  Maybe she will catch up later.  We don’t know, but we do know she is healthy and developmentally does fantastic. 

I am so thankful for a doctor who watched the situation, intervened when absolutely necessary, and let my daughter be herself, in personality and growth.

Again, none of this is meant to be medical advice at all.  Nope. It is just our experience with little kids and a great doctor.  For her patience and trust we are very thankful.

Weight Gain in my First Babe

Recently I have had a couple friends dealing with slow gaining babies where doctors are wanting to do lots of tests, interventions, etc.  I have had two experiences with slow gaining babies.  I thought I would share one of my experiences today (I’ll get to Sue’s another day).  Please know I do not mean for this to be any type of medical advice and I absolutely know there are times that require intervention.  I am only speaking from my experience.

Caitlyn was 6 lbs 8 ounces at birth.  She gained the 1 ounce per day the doctors like to see from the beginning.  It was amazing to see how fast she grew.  Then at 6-7 months, she stopped expressing hunger.  It was weird.  I would realize, from looking at the clock, she had not eaten in 5 hours and she was happily playing and doing her thing. So I started to watch the clock a little more closely, but we kept nursing and introducing solids.

Then I took her for her 9 month check up with a new pediatrician.  The pediatrician freaked out.  I mean freaked.  Caitlyn had only gained about 5 ounces since her records showed at her 6 month appointment.  The woman told me to wean her immediately and give her whole milk (yeah, at 9 months) and that if Caitlyn did not like the cow’s milk, to put strawberry or chocolate syrup in it.

I was in shock.  Really.  I asked the doctor questions about how you wean a baby but not much about her idea of cow milk…

Then as I drove home I started to freak out and cry.  What was wrong with my baby?  How desperate was our situation if I was being told to bribe her with chocolate milk at 9 months old????  I cried for days.  I just could not bear to wean her.

By this point I was pregnant with Sue and had a midwife appointment just a few days after the doctor appointment.  So, I took Caitlyn with me.  I held her up to my midwife and sobbed out my story.  How the doctor wanted me to put her on cow milk with chocolate syrup and wanted her assessed for developmental delays.

My midwife, you know the one I adore, said, “she looks healthy to me.  Here is the name of my family doctor, call her and tell her I sent you.”  I called the next day…try as I could to not cry on the phone, I fell apart.  We had an appointment the next day.

This doctor, who I have grown to adore as much as my midwife, looked at my daughter, and said, “yes, her lack of growth is concerning, but no, we are not going to try cow’s milk, nor are we going to put chocolate syrup in anything.  And she does not have to be weaned.” 

She looked at our entire situation, talked to me about nursing and pumping, and we sorted out I was having low milk supply due to the change in hormones caused by my pregnancy.  Not all women see a milk drop, I did.  So we did add formula, but only after nursing.  Caitlyn and I kept going 2 more months before she weaned herself.  And we were both satisfied with the outcome.  We had made the choice that was best for us.  This time around, due to her young age, and our bonus pregnancy, formula was part of the answer.  But it did not have to be traumatic as an immediate weaning would have been.

Did I like the formula route, heck no.  Is that always the answer, definitely not, as my story with Sue will show…

What were the main lessons I took from this?  It is absolutely necessary to have a doctor you trust.  One that resonates with you.  Who trusts your intuition.  Who knows how to communicate with you so when something is needed, you understand why and are willing to walk that way.

And that is what I stress to mama’s when I share my story, to make sure you trust your doctor.  That their philosophy does not always include formula as an intervention.  That respects the personality of the mother and the child.  It truly makes all the difference, whether you end up needing to intervene with a health situation or you find a solution that does not require intervention.

When have you had to trust your intuition?  Have you had to change doctors because you knew something just wasn’t right?

I am a nursing mama….one of those nursing mamas

When you were a little girl did you imagine the kind of mama you would be?  I did.  I have to admit I do not remember all of my musings, but I do a few…  I thought I would be one of those mamas that would take my maternity leave and then be thrilled to leave my kids at daycare while I went to work.  Wrong.  I hate leaving my kids and we are praying about how we can change things…but that is not for this post.

Back to the type of mama I thought I would be.  I remember one time I was dressing my baby doll, I was probably 7 or 8, and I put her on her head to get her pants on.  My mom saw it and told me “you can’t do that with a real baby.”  Well, I have found she was kind of right and kind of wrong.  You don’t put them directly on their head, but they start moving a lot earlier than you expect, so you have to dress them while they put themselves all over, sometimes I think they will end up on their head.

What I did not ever consider was whether I would nurse my babies or give them formula bottles. I was not nursed and only those “natural people” we knew did any of that.  You know what I mean?  The ones who used honey instead of sugar, had healthy tasting snacks.  Those people.

Fast forward many years.  I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at age 15.  You can not control most risk factors for MS, it is most prevelant in women, in climates like Michigan, in Middle Class families, etc.  It is wierd.  But there is at least some research that at one point said those who were breastfed as babies were less likely to develop MS.  So I decided since I could not control many of the other risk factors, that I would “at least” nurse my children.

Fast forward more years.  I went into remission from the MS and my husband and I decided we would like to start a family.  And our first daughter was born.  The first 2 weeks of nursing were hard, really hard.  And then we got into our groove and it was great! 

Caitlyn was exclusively nursed or given pumped milk until 9 months old.  My milk then dropped significantly due to my bonus pregnancy with Sue, so we supplemented.  Man I hated it.  I cried.  I felt so bad that Caitlyn was not getting to nurse as much as I had planned.  But she was happy to nurse part-time until 11 months old, when she weaned on her own.  At the time I thought I had failed her, but later learned it is normal for nurslings to wean when mama is about 18-20 weeks pregnant as the milk changes taste.

So fast forward 20 weeks and 3 days…and Sue arrived.  I really thought since I had just weaned a baby that nursing this time would be like old hat.  But I felt again like all thumbs; like I had never done this before.  It caused some stress.  Okay, I’ll be honest, I felt like freaking out.  Thankfully the lactation consultant and my midwife calmed me down.  They assured me it was normal, that I was not the only learner here…nursing is natural for babies, but there is still a learning curve.

Then the next two weeks were hard again.  I kept saying to my hubby, it gets better right?  And he said over and over, yes, in about two weeks. And you know, it did. 

And this time I pumped milk like a crazy woman.  I wanted to make sure I had plenty and I did.  Sue did not have cows milk regularly until 20 months old.  Now, I have nothing against cows milk, but I had the stash and my Sue is very small for her age.  She thinks gaining weight is optional.   She can out eat her sister and still sits around the 3rd percentile for weight.  Breastmilk is great for just such a child as ounce for ounce it has the most perfect caloric load for a little one.  The milk can be used completely by the body, everything it takes in can be used, rather than taking in fillers that are eliminated.

Now fast forward to 27 months old.  My Sue still loves nursing.  Does she get much nutritionally, no.  It is a comfort thing for her.  She is an incredibly confident, confident child, but a couple times a day she likes her mama minute.  When I first found out baby number 3 was coming, I was incredibly sick for several weeks.  I wanted to wean Sue soooooo bad.  But she would have none of it.  She would cry so pitifully.  The only way to deal with it was to put her in her room, and it just seems wrong to “punish” a child for wanting to nurse, so we made it through mama being sick with the baby and now we are back to nursing some days, other days she gets too busy, and that’s okay. 

I am again just about 18 weeks along.  It will be interesting to see what happens with Sue.  Will she wean like sissy did?  Is she even getting enough milk to realize the change in flavor, I doubt it.  So I don’t know how we will proceed.  I really don’t.  But I know that right now my heart is not ready to force her to wean. I have held a strong belief in child led weaning since I was pregnant with Caitlyn.  And that has not changed…so it is as much a “dilemna” for mama as it is Sue.  And I am very glad there is nothing really forcing me to make any decision at this moment.  So I continue to think about it, weigh my options and pray.  We’ll see.

Please feel free to ask questions about nursing, pumping, etc.  I love to help mamas with nursing, whether it is a challenge they are facing or trying to decide what is best for them.  I love it.

And just so you don’t forget what my cuties look like, here they are: