Thursday, June 27, 2013

Postpartum: Reality: Breastfeeding is Hard


Maybe someone told you breastfeeding was hard. Maybe someone told you it was easy.  Maybe you thought it was natural and would just come to you. Maybe you read a dozen books.  Who knows... But here is my reality: Breastfeeding is hard!

Fair warning - This post will contain the words boobs, breasts, nipples and the sort.  It is a intimate post about my experience breastfeeding my son.  It is by no means the only way or the way it is for everyone, and if any of this sharing makes you uncomfortable... just skip this post. Much love!

My son and I have had quite a journey in the last eight weeks.  It's crazy how much you can learn about a person in such a short amount of time.  And you do have to... have to learn so much.  Let's start at the beginning of the path for us. Shortly after Moose was born, a kind nurse unsnapped the top of my hospital gown and placed my son on my chest.  At that point everything was still pretty surreal.  I had read books and online articles, so that when this momentous occasion arrived I would have so clue about how to latch my son.  I had heard horror stories of newborns destroying their mothers nipples on day on, and it becoming excruciating to nurse.

So there we were in Labor and Delivery, in a post birth haze.  My beautiful big eyed son nuzzled up to my breast and latched. No pain. No problems. Just victory! I thought I had it in the bag! I had so much to learn.

The immediate days after delivery were filled with quite a bit of pain for me, but not in the breastfeeding sense just in the healing process.  I thought we were doing a pretty good job at the hospital, but I was beginning to have a hard time getting Moose to latch and stay latched.  A well meaning Lactation Consultant suggested that we use a nipple shield to help us out and to be sure the baby was getting enough, so entered the nipple shield into our lives. My milk had come in just 24 hours after delivery (unheard of), and I was feeding him every 2 hours.

We used the Medela contact nipple shield everytime I nursed, but even still it wasn't the most comfortable thing in the world.  At the hospital a shield is easy. You are in one room, in one bed. There's very few places it can go... But once you're home, chaos! 

Week one, we lost the shield while Moose was hungry- cue catastrophe!!! Immediately, Sam went out and got us two more shields. I was exclusively breastfeeding and terrified he wasn't eating enough. I woke him every 3 hours to eat, even throughout the night. At Moose's two week appointment, the doctor said I could start letting him sleep more at night as he had gained back his weight and put on more. 

Those first two weeks are a hormonal haze at this point, and then came weeks three through five... 

Things really began to get hard when I was alone with the baby for the first time. I was trying to hold off any pumping until at least four weeks, but each feeding began to be more and more painful. I realized my sweet little boy was latching really shallow even with the shield. This is when a milk bleb (or blister) showed up on the right nipple. It was a tough little white spot that made each latch and feeding feel like ground up glass being sucked out of me. I cried a lot. I finally called the lactation consultants at the hospital and decided to give myself a little break. I began to pump. 

I was only pumping so that Sam could do the nighttime feed and give me a break to heal up. During the day, I was nursing through the pain more and more. I was hoping that having him nurse more on that side would pull out the clog.  Somewhere in the midst of this I created the perfect storm. 

Stress. Tears. Frustration. Pain. Exhaustion. Hello Mastitis!

In hindsight, it was a short lived sickness only lasting a few days, but at the time it was awful, scary, and in some ways terrifying.  The feeling came on quickly.  I had a fever and felt like a Mack truck had run me over.  It was awful.  I had a terrible pain in my left breast (not even the side that had a dang clog...which is probably because I wasn't draining the left all the way because I was too busy fussing with the right).  As I tried to get up for the day and get moving, I just kept feeling worse.  I finally texted Nurse Emily who promptly told me to call my doctor's office.  I did and after talking to the on call nurse, they called in a prescription for antibiotics.

I pumped mostly because I felt miserable, so Sam let me sleep a lot. I set an alarm to pump every three hours around the clock.  I got severely dehydrated during this whole ordeal and at one point thought I might have to go to the hospital.  We made it through, and I resolved to ask Moose's doctor about giving up breastfeeding at his one month appointment.  I was ready to bring on the formula. 

At that one month appointment, the doctor encouraged me to make it until 8 weeks.  He said after that we could reevaluate the situation.  He explained the same thing that I read a million times It gets easier.I just couldn't see how, but I wanted to do the very best for Moose.  With all that in mind, I vowed to make it until 8 weeks.  I relied heavily on my pump as we began to get out of the house more and more.  It also saved me from tons of pain while Moose figured out how to latch.

I can say now only days away from week 9. I made it! And it's cliche, but IT GETS EASIER!

I pump much more often than I feed, but he is getting breast milk and that is what matters to me.  I have zero judgement for anyone who has gone less or more or heck even just used formula, but for me it's awesome to know I've made it even this long.  I read a statistic somewhere that over 60% of American women who start out breastfeeding aren't breastfeeding anymore at 6 weeks.  I totally get it! Without the support of my husband, mother, friends, and pediatrician I wouldn't still be at it.

Latching is much, much better now (not that it doesn't hurt sometimes), and just last week he even did it all by himself in the middle of the night.  He was flailing at me like a ravenous bird, and womp I felt him grab me and slurp that boobie right into his mouth.  I started pumping to get rid of my troubles and now the vicious cycle is that I really can't stop the pumping or I hurt and begin to feel those clogged ducts again.  I have a bit of an oversupply now, and we have about 450 ounces in the freezer.  (Remember, though, we do primarily bottle feed, so we use about 30 each day).

I am now planning out how I will pump in the fall once school starts, and my new breastfeeding goal is 6 months.  Who knows if we will make it or not, but I am so incredilby thankful for this awesome gift that God has given me.  Who knew that feeding your baby and feeling like a cow, could also make you feel so good?

So here is my reality... Breastfeeding is Hard, but it gets easier! 

Lots of Love!


Monday, June 24, 2013

Moose: Weeks 7 & 8: Hello Growth Spurts!

Taking care of an infant is a full time job, so I am a little bit behind on the blog... but here are the last two week's worth of updates :) 

How Big?: He is HUGE.  When I put him in his car seat now, he just looks like a giant.  We go to the doctor for his two month visit on Tuesday, so we will get the official weight and height then! 
Clothing Size?: 0-3 months and a few things that are 6 months.  Nothing newborn even remotely fits anymore.  Diapers are still a size 1, and we have decided that our favorite kind of diapers are the Huggies Little Snugglers.  
What/When is he eating?: Oh my gosh, Can I just say that breastfeeding gets so much easier over time!!! He is a good eater these days.  I very rarely have pain that goes on past the initial latch.  I am pumping a lot more of his feedings, which is very convenient, but also gives me so time to myself.  He still has only had 100% breast milk! Another huge goal met... woohoo!!! (There is no judgement of anyone who has used formula by the way.  It's just this was an epic accomplishment for us.) 
Sleep?: We have a bedtime routine now.  He gets a big bottle between 9-10.  Then, he gets put in his pack-n-play at around 10:30-11:00.  He normally settles himself to sleep and sleeps until 6:00.  He is a little alarm clock at dawn.  In the daytime, things are less scheduled, but he normally sleeps from about 7:30am - 9:00am.  Yay for a good sleeping baby!  
Movement?: He moves all over! He can wiggle himself in a big circle.
Milestones?: Smiling at us when he sees and hears us.  He can recognize us!! Best milestone so far.  (Sam wanted to contribute that Moose's poop has officially started to stink in the last two weeks.) He got to wear his first Rangers shirt and celebrate his first Father's Day with his daddy! Incredible stuff to see a man and his son.  Moose also got to meet his Uncle Shawn and his cousins for the first time.  What a fun fun summer. 
Hardest Moment(s) of the last two Weeks: It was really hard for me to leave and go to training the week before.  I had to learn how to pump while away from the house, and I had to be away from Moose all day.  I made it through those two full days and one half day a lot better than I thought I would. 
Best Moment(s) of the Week: These last two weeks of summer have been full of fun and memories, so many that there is no way that I could narrow it down.  Here is some of the fun that we have been up to...

First time swimming with Daddy... Moose loves the water, but he can't be cold for too long or he is one unhappy little camper.

Uncle Shawn got to hold his nephew for the first time! And so did little Sammy.  Coolest stuff to have a bunch of family and kiddos running around the house. 

Shawn and his family stayed out at the lake when they came to see us, so my parents came with us out to their campsite.

Sam got to celebrate his first Father's Day as a daddy at the Rangers Game.  Moose couldn't go this year because it was just too hot, but he and Alan got to kick back under the home run porch in the shade.  Fun stuff!

I found a new app that lets you put really, really cute font on pictures!

Moose and Momma went to see daddy play softball.

Moose loves to lay there and look out those windows when his Grandma changes his diapers!  Our other big news for the week... Grandma is going to keep Moose when we go back to work! No daycare for Moose!!! Hooray!

Looking Forward to: Continuing to exercise! Continuing to love Summer!  More pool time. More relaxing time. More of all the wonderful-ness!!!!!!! 

Lots of love!
The Rileys

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Moose: 6 Weeks & Summer Bucket List

Mooserton is growing and growing! Where is all the time going?
How Big?: He is over 10 pounds & over 21 inches long.
Clothing Size?: 0-3 months & officially in a size 1 diaper
What/When is he eating?: He is eating breast milk exclusively, and we have passed the 6 week mark.  I am so proud of the two of us for making it this far.  He is eating about every 3 hours, and we are both getting better at it all. 
Sleep?: He pretty consistently sleeps 6 hours at night, and occasionally goes 8 hours now.  I'm finding that it depends on how much he is awake during the day. 
Movement?: He loves to do his Superman pose.  He rolls from his belly to his back.  He keeps getting wiggly.  Looks like we won't be setting him on the couch and walking away anymore!
Milestones?: First time swimming! Woohoo... he relaxed in the water, but only for a few minutes.  It was pretty cold, though.  (Thank Emily for getting us out of the house.) First time visiting Grandma at work. First time visiting Daddy at work.  We got out of the house a lot this week!!!  
Hardest Moment(s) of the Week: I am going to count my blessings and say that this has really been an incredible week.  The hard moments weren't really all that hard. :)
Best Moment(s) of the Week: Going for a run! I got cleared at the doctor's office on Wednesday to start exercising again, so Wednesday afternoon I went for a run. 1.5 miles and not too fast, but I'll take it all day long.  Thursday, I ran 2 miles a little bit faster.  Friday, I went for a swim (600 meters), and yesterday, Emily and I went for a run together... we got 2.5 miles. And then I went back for 1.75 more.  My legs feel alive! And a bit sore.
The other best moment of the week was going on a date with my husband!!! Sam and I got to eat On the Border all by ourselves & we went to see "Now You See Me".  It was awesome to be just us for a minute. 
Looking Forward to: Getting through this week.  This next week is going to be hard for me... I have to leave the baby for three different days.  We are taking JV cheer pictures tomorrow. I have training Tuesday and Thursday.  I will be so excited when the week is done, and we can start checking things off our Summer Bucket List!

Here are some pictures from our week! 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Our Life: Throwback Thursday: July 2012 - The Honeymooners

As the weather has gotten a bit warmer this week, I have been thinking how nice it would be to be out on the beach with nothing to do and no where to be.  The blog has been very full of my wonderful son (who I adore), but in honor of Throwback Thursday I thought that I might reminisce on the very best vacation of my life... Our Honeymoon.

Sam and I didn't know what we would do for a Honeymoon, and in a last minute decision we chose to use a travel agent.  It turned out to be a great choice.  We ended up barely getting Sam a passport in time to go (STRESSFUL)!  I was a bride-to-be wreck about that until it was in hand.  Finally though, all the arrangements had been made.  We chose to wait a couple of days after the wedding before flying out, so we actually left the Tuesday after our wedding.  I highly suggest this!  We were able to finish getting the wedding picked up and got a good night's sleep before flying out.  It also helped me not feel rushed.  (And as God would have it, I actually had a fluke job interview the Monday before we left in a pair of Nike shorts.  That is how I ended up teaching sophomores at the same school as my husband this year. Praise the Lord's timing!!!) 

Anyways, we stayed at the beautiful Excellence resort in Playa Mujeres.  It was gorgeous.  I still close my eyes and dream of this trip.  Our room was incredible.

The pools were clean and warm.  There was plenty of seating and tons of wait staff ready to provide you anything you wanted.  (Go all inclusive at least once in your life.)

There were tons of different restaurants (and they didn't need reservations...) We goofed off and looked good. See Sam - strong like bull!

I read the first 8 books in the Southern Vampire Chronicles series while we were gone (aka Sookie Stackhouse). 

We managed a sunrise run on the beach!! Once... lol.

Mostly, we just hung out! Occasionally planking. :)

I tried Lobster for the very first time! (Not my thing.)

I can close my eyes now and smell the beach.  I can feel the sunshine on my skin. I wonder if any trip will every live up to this one.  Our last baby-free trip.. we had no idea that it would be.  I am incredibly grateful for where this life has taken us, but it's nice to reflect on all the fun we have had as a couple.  (And super important to remember as we muddle through sleepless newborn nights...)

Moose's weekly post is coming up soon. Can't believe he's already 6 weeks, but then again I can't believe it's almost been a year since we Honeymooned.  Hope you all have wonderful summer trips on the horizon. :)

Lots of Love!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Moose: Newborn Pictures

The week after my little Moose man was born the wonderful Maegan came to our house to take his picture.  I was a nervous wreck and the baby cried half of the shoot... and yet Maegan still managed to take gorgeous photos in our house!

These photos will always be part of our coming home story because if you recall from our one week post, my darling husband shaved his entire face and head just days after we got home from the hospital. Cue the waterworks! I was a hateful momma to him and asked, how could you do this to me? Before our ONCE in a lifetime photo shoot!!! Oh how cruel are the hormones, haha! Well, now that story will live on, and so will Sam's chin in our wonderful newborn pictures.

You can check out our incredible (and crazy patient) photographer on her Facebook page here, and also you can see the awesome maternity pictures she took with us earlier this year.

Without further ado... Moose-zilla