Friday, December 28, 2012

Breastfeeding, take 2

Sporadic posting, I know. That really is What I've Learned So Far ... no time for things like this!

I did want to take some time to note my experience with breastfeeding this time around because it was one of the things I was nervous about with baby girl #2. I nursed Ellen for 10 months and I'm pretty sure we had the typical course ... major learning curve at the beginning, figured it out by about 1 month, and then coasted pretty smoothly (with an over-abundant milk supply) to 10 months when I weaned her before a vacation and she was majorly distractable / disinterested.

Despite all that, it was seriously a distant memory and I could hardly fathom doing it again. I dug out my pump (the Medela Freestyle - still convinced it's the best thing around) and found that all my old pump parts were pretty grody. I was planning to order replacements, but that sealed the deal. I guess the old style of breast shields (the Soft Fit) didn't hold up over time, so they aren't available now. I ordered replacements and they come in sizes - I started with the 24mm (standard) and moved up to the 27mm after my milk came in. I have 2 full sets of parts and will have 3 when I go back to work to avoid so much sanitizing and drying during the work day. I also got replacement tubing, just because, I guess. I had everything sanitized and ready at home before I left for the hospital.

The day before I delivered I was looking up breastfeeding videos on YouTube (lame), but I didn't really even remember the terminology and such and needed a little refresher. Lansinoh had a decent video that was protected under like 3 warnings about being age 18 or older - really?

I don't remember much about the hospital days of breastfeeding with Ellen, other than the fact that she was SO SO sleepy that we spent most of her feeds trying to wake her up. I think she was latching well, though, and hadn't lost too much weight when we went home.

This time was different - Georgia didn't latch well at all and kept her tongue at the roof of her mouth. She wasn't tongue tied or anything, just more of a general disinterest in eating. I felt much more comfortable with the nurses and lactation consultants trying to help me, and I felt more confidant in what I was doing (it really is like riding a bike ...) and they all acknowledged that I was doing everything correctly, but that she was just difficult. It was super frustrating, even with my knowledge base, and I'm glad she was #2 instead of #1. I ended up using the hospital pump and pumping after trying to nurse, then giving her colostrum through a syringe on my finger or in her mouth while she was nursing. It was super annoying and very difficult to do by myself and I couldn't see how this would translate to us going home.

Over our 3 days in the hospital she showed VERY SLOW progress, to the point where we all felt comfortable going home and following up with a weight check the next day. Her best feeding was right before we left the hospital and then her weight check the next day was promising. She continued to nurse better with each feeding and by about day 5 she was totally fine - no more tube feedings or any assistance. One of the lactation consultants commented that when she had her babies (25+ years ago), no one expected breastfed babies to eat very well for the first 3 days. Now we get in a panic about it, when I think it just takes time for some babies to wake up and show interest. That certainly seemed to be the case for Georgia (fortunately).

From that point her weight gain was great and I even thought she was a better / more relaxed / possibly more efficient feeder than Ellen. She was eating 7 times in 24 hours and I was able to read or check email on my phone while she nursed, which I could never do with Ellen (needed all hands on deck). Then fast forward about 3 weeks and I had searing, toe-curling pain when she latched on. I was afraid it might be a yeast infection or something, but when I assessed the situation I realized it was just a lazy latch. She was getting milk, but wasn't latching well and I was paying the price. I did quite a bit of reading and even watched some videos (Jack Newman's site is good) of a good latch to really get a picture of what I was aiming for. I worked hard for a few days to improve her latch, which was successful, and it has been smooth sailing since then. So, in the end, it really was about 1 month until everything seemed easy for both of us.

Some tips I have learned this time around:
- Use lanolin (or a comparable product) EVERY TIME you nurse or pump. I started in the hospital and have been diligent and I haven't had any cracks or bleeding.
- Have some smallish ice packs on hand and frozen for when you come home from the hospital. When your milk comes in you will be happy you have them (cold is better than hot - that just adds to the inflammation). I would wear my nursing tank, then a zip up jacket on top to hold the ice bags in place.
- I pumped much more this time when my milk came in, which I think helped matters. With Ellen I think I was afraid to pump too much for fear it would just produce more milk. This time I bet I pumped 4 or 5 times the first day, and 2 or 3 times the second day, in addition to feeds until my breasts felt soft(er). By the 3rd day I think I was pretty much back to just the regular feeding schedule.
- While you are doing all that pumping, just save your pump parts in the fridge in a ziploc bag so you aren't constantly sterilizing and drying parts and use them as needed.  It should be fine for 12-24 hours.
- We are still using the little Medela regular neck bottles that fit on the pump for Georgia's bottles. She takes them just fine (gave her first bottle around 3-4 weeks, no issue). I sterilized all the bottles and caps and rings before we left for the hospital and bought new slow flow nipples. Nipples for regular neck bottles are almost impossible to find anymore, just FYI. I don't even think Medela makes them - I used the Green To Grow ones.
- I still pump at least once a day (usually last feeding of the day when she gets a bottle from Dad) and sometimes twice (early morning after first feed now that she is mostly sleeping through the night).
- I am on the hunt for a good hands-free pumping situation that might allow for me to get ready for work in the mornings while pumping. I have read good things about the Rumina tank and may splurge.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Random thoughts

It's amazing what you come across at 2:47am while you're perusing all of the internet on your phone. 

The Car Seat Lady explains the new American Academy of Pediatrics Car Seat Recommendations

Why I don't bake from scratch (but think it's awesome if you do)

We finally got all the Christmas decorations up. And by "we" I mean me and my sister who I guilted into helping me. It was on my to-do list for 5 days and I just finally felt that it was now or never and I put up the easy stuff and called it good. I even contemplated doing something different with the Christmas tree - something easy and simple - but I couldn't get to the store or spend any time on a DIY project, so the standard stuff had to suffice. It's fine. It's good enough (see article above).

As much as I love Pinterest and wasting my brain cells reading blogs, I must say that this season I have felt like maybe all of this stuff is a double edged sword. I like the inspiration, but dislike the standard it sets. I like doing crafty and creative things, but don't like feeling like my thoughts aren't original anymore. I like celebrating, but don't like the guilt that seeps in when the birthday party for a small child isn't "perfect" or your Christmas decorations are the same you've had for forever. And The Elf? Don't even get me started ... perhaps I would be happier with Nicholas if I didn't have a newborn to contend with.

I'm trying my hardest to slow down and enjoy this season with Ellen, but the days are just merging together. There has been an endless parade of gifts for her entering our house - big sister gifts, birthday gifts, and Christmas is starting to trickle in. Every one of them thoughtful and enjoyed, but a 4-year-old faced with weekly gifts becomes a bit greedy. I suppose we all would if we had gifts to open every week.

I'm just trying to pick my battles, trying to have patience when it's in short supply, and trying to make memories of our Christmas this year. Not gonna lie, though ... January 2nd is looking really good.

Monday, December 3, 2012

She's Four!

My dearest Ellen (poodle, button, sister bear ...),

Happiest 4th Birthday To You!

What a year this has been! It has been a delight watching you grow into a real person - leaving most of the baby behind and, at times, seeming wise and/or mature beyond your years. Last year was marked by the upheaval of moving, and this year was marked by the upheaval of a pregnant mother and new baby sister. You met both challenges with grace - a quality I hope you will always have.

You continue to be funny and surprising and sometimes surprisingly funny. You can almost always get a smile or giggle from your parents, even at an inappropriate time (i.e. 9:45pm), but your timing is impeccable - we generally are in desperate need of a giggle and you seem to sense that.

You are caring and kind, sometimes to a fault. It is hard to watch you and your little friends bicker and it is tough to see you have your feelings hurt, though it is a part of life. I hope we can teach you to roll with the punches and to be your own person.

You are smart and inquisitive and I love seeing how your mind works. You ask insightful questions about life and death and nature and people. I hope you continue to ask us questions and I hope we are smart enough to give you good answers.

You are creative and artistic and it has been so fun to watch your skills develop over the least year. You could scratch out your name when you turned 3, but have become so much more confidant in writing and recognizing your letters.You like to look at books and objects and copy the letters, ever so precisely. You spend much of each day coloring and it has been amazing to see the transformation from scribbles to coloring in the lines and drawing people and families.

Finally, you are a Big Sister. You cherish the title and it warms my heart to see you interact with Georgia. You have been nothing but sweet to her and, while I know it won't always be this way, I hope she is as much a gift to you this year as you are to her.

I love you to pieces, my favorite Big Girl.