Category Archives: nursing

Nursing Celebrations–3rd time around

Miss Patrice and I are beginning our second year of nursing.  It is hard to believe the baby in the pictures above is now a year old.  She was just weeks old in the picture above.
We have nursed just about everywhere you can think of. 
People’s houses
More Parks
My philosophy on nursing in public?  Most people would rather you descreetly nurse the baby than listen to her scream.  I know I would!!!
And here we are in our second year.
Happy Dance!!!
Come check out other celebrations at Life with Levi

Breastfeeding Awareness and Education–our experience(s)



I’m celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with Natural Parents Network!
You can, too — link up your breastfeeding posts from August 1-7 in the linky below, and enjoy reading, commenting on, and sharing the posts collected here and on Natural Parents Network.

I am currently nursing my third baby, Miss Patrice.  I have been nursing or pregnant since December 2005.  I have nursed for the first 20 weeks of Sue and Patrice’s pregnancies.  It is my joy and honor to have this bond with my babies.  And to be honest I am darn proud of how long I have nursed each one.  I am thrilled with the myriad of benefits for them now and in the long run. 

But you know what dawned on me recently?  I need it as much as they do, if not more.


Yes, there are health benefits to me.  Lower risk of breast cancer and diabetes in the future…lose pregnancy weight faster (haven’t noticed that one), etc.  But for me, the benefit is much more emotional. 

I need to nurse my children in much the same way I need to breathe.  Right or wrong, it is part of my identity.  I am a nursing mama.  I am enpowered by the fact that I am providing them health benefits in the future, by the fact that I can comfort them in a way during infancy that no one else can.  I am empowered to know that this body of mine, that has failed me often in the past, now nourishes my babies.

I belong to a sisterhood of women, yes, the one of motherhood, which is powerful and embracing, but also the one of nursing mothers.  We share the joys of persevering through the challenges of nursing.  We share the struggles of people not understanding why we choose to feed our babies this way.  We share a bond that I hope some day to pass on to my three girls.  My older two already nurse their “babies” (and no, I did not need to buy them a $119 doll from Europe for them to do that); I hope breastfeeding will always seem normal and natural to them.  That they will be blessed as I am and will be able to nurse their children when they have them.

As of late, I have received another gift while nursing Patrice.

It has worked out that often while I am nursing Patrice, the other two are outside with daddy, so I am sitting in a quiet house just snuggling my little girl.  How often does that happen in a house with three kids?  How often will that happen as she gets busier and needs that time with mama less?  Probably never.  And for that my heart mourns, but for now, I have this time with my daughter that no one else in the universe can ever have.

For this I am so thankful.  I pray I never forget the joy of comforting one of my children by nursing them, never forget the drunk baby look when they have nursed to ultimate satisfaction, never forget the honor it is to hold them in my arms and nurse them.

These are just some of the joys I reflect on during this week long celebration of breastfeeding.<
(Visit NPN for the code to place on your blog.)

WFMW–Calling Nursing Moms

I am finding blog hops to be very fun.  Today I am joining one over at We Are That Family–Works for Me Wednesday

I know I don’t hold any records here, but I am proud I have been pregnant and/or nursing a baby since November 2005.  I nursed my first baby for 11 months, until she weaned while I was pregnant with my second, who nursed until 28 months when she weaned herself during my pregnancy with my newest. 

Nursing and pumping for my first went okay, but I found a lot of great resources while nursing my second.  Here are a few of the things that Work For Me.

One great website is Kellymom.  It has great resources, including how to figure out the amount of milk baby will need when being bottle fed away from mama, info for caregivers of breastfed babies on how to not overfeed with the bottle and ideas on how to pump hands free without having to buy special bras.

I have done tons of hands free pumping. It allows me to type this blog :), play video games, read, hold my other kids, lots of things, all while pumping.  Here’s the instructions I put together on the hands free pumping:

“Hands-free pumping

You can buy bras and apparatus specially for hands-free pumping, and for some that may be the way to go, but after pumping 9 months with my oldest and 15 months for my youngest, I had to find something cheap and easy! Searching on-line I found two methods—a pumping bra and hand-free pumping with any nursing bra.

Pumping bra—buy a cheap sports bra, preferably one that latches in the front. Based on the size of your pump bottle flange, cut a hole in the bra where it needs to line up with the nipple. Make sure to make the hole smaller than the flange so the material hugs it and keeps it in place. This works well if you are home and are not needing to go out. You can tuck a nursing pad in the hole when you are not pumping so you don’t leak. You can also unhook the bra to nurse the baby.

Note: with a lot of movement the nursing pad will move around making odd shapes under your shirt and may even fall out, so I found it undesirable to wear to work, etc.

Hands-free with any nursing bra—this is even cheaper than the first. You need 4 regular size pony tail holders (not scrunchies). Take two, loop them together to form a figure 8. Put the bottle and breastshield through one loop so the loop is just at the bottom of the widest part of the breastshield. Hook the other end of the loop where the nursing bra unhooks from. Position at the nipples. You may have to lightly hold them in place at the beginning of pumping, mainly the let down mode on the pump-in-style advanced. Once the pump settles in rhythm or there is sufficient milk to weigh it down, it should stay in place well.

Hands-free pumping cuts down on neck and back pain and allows you to type, read, write, even pick up a small child while pumping. It also tends to lead to longer pumping sessions which will get you more milk in both the short and long-term due to the supply and demand principles that govern your supply.”

*As an item of disclosure, I need to let you know I am a Medela Mom Maven.  I do not receive any compensation from them, but do get info and newsletters from them in exchange for sharing my experience using their products when pumping for my kidlets.

Another wonderful resource I found was a recipe for more milk cookies.  These are yummy and somewhat good for you and a great way to get the calories you need to keep up your supply.  I originally found this recipe on Babyfit and have modified it some for my tastes:

Housepoet’s Famous Lactation Boosting Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip & Flaxseed cookies ™

Ingredients :

* 1 cup butter or marg
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 cup brown sugar
* 4 tablespoons water
* 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal*
* 2 large eggs
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 2 cups flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 3 cups oats, thick cut if you can get them
* 1 cup or more chocolate chips
* 2 tablespoons of brewers yeast* (be generous)


Preheat oven at 375 degrees F. Mix together 2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal and water, set aside for 3-5 minutes. Cream (beat well) margarine and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mix well. Stir flaxseed mixture and add with vanilla to the margarine mix. Beat until blended. Sift together dry ingredients, except oats and chips. Add to margarine mixture. Stir in oats then chips. Scoop or drop onto baking sheet, preferably lined with parchment or silpat. The dough is a little crumbly, so it helps to use a scoop.

Bake 8-12 minutes, depending on size of cookies.

Serves: 6 dozen cookies

Preparation time: 15 minutes

*can be found at any local health food store.


You can substitute for carob chips, raisins, butterscotch chips, whatever.

Don’t cook too long or they are dry and too “healthy” tasting. Leave them a little moist and they are GREAT!

I hope what works for me will work for you too!

My first and current nursres

Getting to Know YOU

These days are filled with busyness, joy and love.  And dirty diapers, feeding baby and holding baby.  And play-doh, cartoons and coloring.

When we were at the doctor earlier this week for Patrice’s check up, the doctor gave us that little sheet about baby’s development.  One of the things it said to do was get to know your baby.  And that is what we are doing.  Here is some of what we have learned:

Patrice likes to be held.  She doesn’t sleep much otherwise.  She likes the baby wearing wrap.
Patrice likes to eat, and eat and eat and eat.  We’ve never had a baby who liked to eat at this young of an age.  Our older two slept most of their first weeks, getting them to eat was a challenge with a capital C!

Patrice gains weight.  At 6 days old she was within one ounce of her birth weight.  Sue was still losing at that age, Caitlyn was just starting to think about gaining.  At 10 days old, Patrice was 7 ounces over her birth weight.  I am amazed.  She is doing so well, we do not have to go back to the doctor until she is 2 months old.  Both the doctor and I commented how we have never been set loose this early.  We have always been in every week or so until about 3 months old to check weight gain, particularly with Sue.

What I have learned about myself:

I can handle 3 kids, and enjoy it, a lot!!!!!!  Today is the first day I thought I might go crazy but that feeling has passed.  Thank you Mr. Play-doh, Mr. Sidewalk Chalk and Mr. Coloring Books.  You are providing much needed distraction for the older kids.

I feel very accomplished for doing cloth diapers with Patrice.  Does it make me a better mom?  No way.  Is it something I thought about doing with Caitlyn and Sue, but wimped out on, yes.  But thanks to a dear friend I feel less clueless this time and have a great set of supplies.  The earth and my wallet thank her.
I love my littlest girls’ name more and more every day, especially her middle name.  Thank you honey for indulging me in naming her after our midwife.  Actually, I adore the names of all my girls, and each of them, their middle name, holds extra significance.  Caitlyn is the combination of names from three special ladies from my high school years that were great encouragement to me in my Christian walk.  Sue is my mom’s name (and my middle name).  And then there is Patrice. 
Now, maybe most would not think to name their daughter after their midwife, but my midwife has given me a great deal.  She gave me the opportunity to learn my body could handle and do a lot.  With my history of MS, I got told a lot I could not do this or that, enter any number of things, but when I first approached my midwife, who I found through an internet search, she saw me as a person and simply acknowledged the MS existed, giving it no more importance than it needed.  She helped even my neurologist see it did not have to hold me back. She has encouraged me along the  way when I struggled with some postpartum depression with my oldest, and when Sue was not gaining weight she helped me brainstorm ideas on how to help our little one.  She has answered so many e-mails, too many to count really.  She also helped us find solutions for Patrice’s breech position, never giving up and saying we would have to have a c-section. And she invests herself in the mom’s who are privileged to know her.  She has, in short, become a friend. And that does not even begin to touch her role in our birth story (which I am almost done getting written).
I know there is much more to learn about Patrice and about ourselves as we do the family dance, but there are some glimpses in our first 12 days.

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?

Insomnia, oh no, not quite

Over the years I have had bouts of insomnia for many reasons…when the Multiple Sclerosis was at it’s worst I was in the hospital 15 times in three years for steroid IVs.  That will cause major insomnia.  Then I found a doctor that would do the IVs outpatient, so it was two more years of them going to the clinic, much better than the hospital, but still causes insomnia.  Then there are random bouts everyone gets.  And my favorites, seriously, are the ones caused by pregnancy.  Insomnia is actually my first clue I might be preggo.  This time around my husband even noticed and when I told him our family was growing, he said “what made you test, the insomnia?”  It is worst during first and third trimester, but that’s okay.  It is totally worth it.

But today I have been up since 4.  Insomnia, nope.  My girls are sick again.  This time with horrible colds.  And I woke up to Sue coughing.  And the poor thing is so confused.  Think about it.  The gagging of throwing up can be an awful lot like a cough and she just stopped that about a week ago.  So now, when she coughs from her cold, she cries for her “bowl” that she lived with while battling her stomach virus.  It is sad, and cute.

But being up with her, while miserable, is still nicer than the insomnia from the MS treatments.  That was horrible.  I would be sooo tired and then all the sudden I was awake.  The steroids would have me all revved up.  And your mind, after a few days of steroids, is not quite “normal”.  I found with those meds, I obsessed more.  Something would start to bug me that unmedicated I could brush off, but with 3 days of 1000 mgs per day steroids, and that little thing became huge.  It would make me so angry.  Or sad.  Or sometimes, when I was lucky, maybe something would strike me as funny and I could not stop giggling about it.  (That did not happen often!)

And yet, I would do all those steroids again.  It was better than the options when I first got sick.  I was originally tentatively diagnosed at age 15, though it was 4 years more before someone would say it officially (ask any MSer, that is normal and frustrating).  But in the beginning, it didn’t really matter if they officially diagnosed me or not, because there was really nothing they could do.  I remember that first neurologist, looking at me, and saying, “there is nothing I can do for you. I hate teenage MS because I can’t do anything.”  Gee thanks lady. 

She kept her promise, she didn’t do much.

It was a little better when I went away to college, a few years had passed and new meds were coming out.  The first preventive medication was Betaseron interferon 1b. It was, and still is, an injection you did yourself every other day.  It’s goal was not to treat the symptoms but to decrease chances of flares, which are times the MS gets worse and there is more potential for permanent damage. 

It did decrease my flairs some, but not to nothing.  But it was something, it was something I could proactively do. I could give myself the flu every other night.  Okay, not really, but that is what the side effects felt like for about the first month. 

And I continued on Betaseron for almost 5 years.  And it helped to varying degrees. 

Now, when someone is diagnosed, there are not only medications, there are several, 5 main ones for prevention of flares and, hopefully, disability.

I am thrilled to not currently need any treatment.  Pregnancy is often a great treatment for MS, 90+% of women go into a remission while pregnant.  Nursing the baby often prolongs that in women.  (I think I will nurse my last baby for 20 years or so, that will work, right?)

And many of the above options were helped along by the National MS Society, either because of awareness they raised, funding they provided or support they give/gave to patients walking the MS road.  And for that I am very grateful, so as I have said, I give at least an annual nod to the MS by participating in the MS walk in May.  This year it is May 2nd.  I am thrilled beyond words to be walking it with my beautiful family.  The family I thought I would never have because of the MS.  We will walk to let the MS know it can not keep us from moving forward.

If you would like to be involved by supporting me financially in the walk, please see my link at the bottom of my blog. It will take you to my personal page.  I would greatly appreciate it, as would the other 16,000 people living in my state alone who have MS.  We need you to help us keep walking.

Here is a picture of Caitlyn from the walk 2 years ago.

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: