April: City Mama
With her baby due any day now, April is equal parts excited and nervous. She’s amazed by the life growing inside her (especially how the pregnancy seems to have taken over her body) and can’t wait for the arrival of her new baby boy. At the same time, the job of parenting sometimes feels very daunting. For one, there is no OFF button… and while she will rely on help from her mom and mother-in-law in the early days, April finds herself wondering how she will meet the demands of a new baby without losing sight of her personal goals.
I’ve been taking some time to look back over the last 9 months since having my baby and to be honest; those first days are already kind of hazy in my memory. I wish I can relive the moment when Aiden was first placed in my arms but here I am, the mother to this growing boy with a budding personality and I am in awe every single day. He is by far the greatest thing that has ever happened to me and I am so grateful that I get to be his Mama. He started cutting his first tooth this past weekend and all he wanted was for me to hold him and cuddle him. I know that our bond is special and for that I know I can thank breastfeeding.
12:20pm on Thursday January 26
7am – crawl out of bed quietly so as not to disturb sleeping baby
7:15am- crawl back into bed to nurse baby back to sleep
7:20am- get ready for work and run out the door
7:50am- 9am- commute on the subway to work
9am-5:30pm- at the office11:45pm on Tuesday January 10
In my family, we celebrate Christmas and it is the one time during the year that I like to go “all out” planning and decorating. My Christmas cards go out the first week of December, the tree goes up, poinsettia, lights, a wreath -- I love it all! This year was no exception but it was even more fun because I got to see my little boy’s reaction to all the sparkly stuff and it made him so happy! I am so excited for Aiden’s first Christmas.9:43am on Tuesday December 13
Sleep deprivation…. It’s the one thing I had no way to prepare for when I was pregnant. I could prepare almost everything else that had to do with caring for my baby ahead of time but not sleep… I couldn’t “pre-sleep” or “stock up on sleep” beforehand but I sure wish I could!9:00am on Tuesday November 29
Around this time of year, people start talking about the things they are grateful for. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, not because we get to eat lots of yummy food (although I LOVE THAT) but because It's a time when people slow down and take a moment to smell the roses. Today I sit here and honestly I feel so grateful for my nursing relationship with my son.9:00am on Tuesday November 15
I remember those initial weeks breastfeeding. They say that it isn’t supposed to hurt, which is true if you have a proper latch, but with a new mom and new baby an improper latch is bound to happen and when it did, I’ll admit it I saw stars. I had cracked, bleeding nipples and that together with engorgement made those first days pretty painful. I remember just wanting to walk around topless at that time – ha!9:00am on Tuesday November 8
I grew up in a pretty traditional, Christian home and we never really celebrated Halloween. I always knew that when I started my own family, I would have to think about a way to celebrate holidays and start my own family traditions. Now that I have a son, I want to teach him the importance of our faith and certain values I grew up with but I also want a healthy balance, so that he doesn’t feel like his faith is boring or depriving him of enjoying things that other kids enjoy. For us, Halloween is one of those things.9:00am on Tuesday November 1
Daylight savings time is just no fun this time around. By the time I get out of work it’s dark out and it just feels like the day is over. It’s so hard to be away from my baby all day and then get out of work to a dark, cold, night. While I love the Fall season, I wish the sun would stick around a bit longer. Now that Aiden is 6 months old, his little personality is shining and this new, big baby Aiden is really fun to see… though I admit I’m a bit nostalgic for the newborn, falls asleep on my chest Aiden. He is growing so fast! My cousin is expecting a little boy this winter so I got a box and started packing some of Aiden’s newborn clothes as “hand-me-downs” for her. I never imagined how sentimental it would make me. Folding these tiny clothes that once fit him and packing them away. Sometimes I wish I can get that day back when I first held Aiden in my arms and he barely weighed anything at all. Now, at nearly 20 pounds, it’s as if he’s a totally different baby.9:00am on Tuesday October 25
Out of everything I was anticipating about becoming a mom, breastfeeding by far was the thing I worried most about. I’d heard so many horror stories and everyone in my family had just formula-fed their children so I approached it with not much confidence to begin with. I realize now that I could have prepared myself a lot better for breastfeeding. I thought that reading a few books would suffice but now I really wish I’d taken a class while I was pregnant or met with a lactation consultant. I think that there could have been ways for me to make it work despite everything I went through that first week postpartum. I was in so much pain, I had to lie on my side and it hurt just to switch sides. My baby needed to cluster feed during those first days and I didn’t have the strength. I look back on those first weeks and remember what it felt like to see my mother or mother-in-law taking care of my baby while I healed. It hurt so much because this was MY baby and I wanted to be his everything.
After working with a lactation consultant, I learned that I could nurse side lying with my baby in bed next to me. My husband would do diapers and cuddling, and then bring Aiden to me in bed when he needed to eat. We did this all day until around midnight and then one of the grandma’s would give Aiden formula overnight. I would still wake up at least once to pump and go check on Aiden. I felt guilty for giving him formula and I realize now that it isn’t because I think that formula is “horrible” it’s because I had a goal for nourishing my son and I wasn’t reaching that goal.
I started researching on the best way to gradually decrease the amount of formula I am giving my baby and increase my milk supply. I have to say that the internet did not offer much optimism on this subject. Everything I read made it seem like if you give your baby “just one bottle” you have ruined your chances of exclusively breastfeeding for life. I can’t explain why but I simply refused to accept that.
My friend Courtney wrote me a beautiful email that offered some great advice on how to increase my milk supply… and more importantly, she offered encouragement and assured me that I could make this happen! I started pumping between feedings and letting Aiden nurse more often. He even started nursing for comfort and I remember just propping myself up on the sofa and watching a whole movie while Aiden fell asleep at the breast. I didn’t unlatch him, I just let him nurse (whether for food or comfort) for as long as he wanted to. Then of course there is CO-SLEEPING! I was afraid to put a tiny baby in my bed at first but once I did, I slept lighter than I ever have, aware of his presence next to me and I knew that he would be safe. Co-sleeping is controversial I know, but it saved my breastfeeding relationship with Aiden! He was able to nurse as often and as long as he needed to overnight and I actually got sleep. It was a win-win if you ask me.
When Aiden was 8 weeks old, I went into my cupboard and grabbed the formula. It felt so good to throw it away! I didn’t need it anymore and I could feed my baby on my own with nature’s best milk!9:00am on Tuesday October 18
I started work again full time when my baby was 3 months old... it has been so hard to be away from baby Aiden for so many hours during the day and even though I’ve been back at it for two months now, I still find myself getting choked up when I think of him and crying in my cubicle. I am incredibly blessed that my mother is my baby’s full time babysitter! I trust her more than anyone else and I leave every morning knowing he is in the most capable hands of someone who loves him almost as much as I do. He is growing very attached to her and when she walks into the room his face lights up. It makes me so happy that they have bonded and puts my mind at ease. Still, I am his mother and it isn’t easy leaving my baby.
On the flip side of that, I really enjoy waking up every morning, getting dressed and actually putting makeup on to go somewhere. I have more respect for stay-at-home moms than ever because it can sort of feel like “hamster on a wheel” when you are home with a baby. I lived in my yoga pants for 3 months with my hair in a knot and a shirt constantly adorned with spit-up. I certainly was happy for the time with my baby but excited to get back into the world again and have some adult conversation.
Some people say you can’t have the best of both worlds but I have been determined to be a working mom, my son’s primary caregiver and not compromise his nutrition in the process. We worked so hard to get to the place of exclusively breastfeeding and now that we are here, I can’t ever go back. I pump at work every two hours and try to stay hydrated. At first I was using my single electric pump but realized after about two weeks that I needed to rent a hospital grade double pump. It has been amazing! I keep milk for Aiden in the refrigerator at work and then bring it home every day to be stored in freezer bags. I won’t let my career or anything else stand in the way of breastfeeding my son – there’s no stopping us now!! Who knows maybe I’ll even nurse a toddler? Yikes!9:00am on Tuesday October 11
I’m really grateful to have had three months home with my baby… we spent this time bonding and getting into the swing of our new life together. I treasured the moments spent cuddling with him on the couch and reading books to him in the nursery. We took long walks together, long naps together, and I learned all about him. The time really flew by and before I knew it, maternity leave was over and it was time to get back to reality.9:00am on Tuesday October 4
When I was pregnant, I remember being overwhelmed by advice… Making baby decisions can be really tough when all sorts of advice are being thrown your way, on top of all the information out there in books and online resources. The best piece of advice I got was from a co-worker when she said “April, no matter what people say just always trust your instincts.” At the time, I didn’t think this sounded like a very difficult thing to do, but now I get it.
Parenting isn’t one-size-fits-all; every baby is different and I believe now more than ever that every mother is equipped with an instinct, a sixth-sense to know deep down what is best for HER baby. The first few weeks after Aiden’s birth, we relied on help from our moms. I was recovering and it took some time for me to grow into my new “mommy shoes”. I thought that I should listen to the women who were more experienced than I was, who had raised more kids, because after all, I had never done this before. I was afraid of being responsible for this delicate little life and how could I know what was best?
When Aiden was about two weeks old, he got a diaper rash. Who knew that this would break my heart the way it did. I was consumed with getting rid of it. He started getting washed in the sink after every bowel movement (he loved this by the way) and my husband and I started seeking out advice on what products to try for his rash. A nurse from the hospital recommended one brand of ointment so we tried that for a few days… my mom recommended another ointment, mother-in-law bought a powder, and I got lots of other recommendations as well. I took some of the advice, but when a friend of mine asked me if I had tried an anti-fungal cream, this struck a chord with me. I did some research and realized that Aiden’s rash seemed a lot like a yeast infection. Yes, boys can get these too! I had already left a message for the pediatrician but it was Saturday and she wouldn’t be in until Monday. I packed Aiden up and went out to get an anti-fungal cream. His rash cleared up in 24 hours!
This was my first experience as a mother that made me realize ---I can take in all the advice, do the research, but also listen to my intuition to make decisions for my baby. The hardest part has been that other moms take it personal when I don’t go with their advice, but at the end of the day I have to do what I think is best as Aiden’s mom. I’m grateful for the help, and now I know that if you’ve raised 4 kids, that’s great but none of them were Aiden… Deep down, I know what is best because I was given those instincts. I call it God, but you can call it nature, the universe, whatever you wish. We can and will make the right decisions for our children if we just take a moment to stop and listen to that little voice inside and trust our instincts.9:00am on Tuesday September 27
As I walk around the city this summer, I see lots of baby bumps. I'm very happy that I was just the opposite – pregnant during the winter and had my new baby during the summer. Winters in New York have been very cold recently and just this winter we saw a record number of snow storms. I’m glad I had a full summer to go for long walks with my baby, read to him on a park bench, and take him for his first dip in a swimming pool. Getting out certainly helped to get my postpartum body into shape and ward off the baby blues. We spend lots of time outdoors together and Aiden loves to “talk to the trees.”
But all good things must come to an end I guess… yet I am confident that it’s just one way of making room for brand new good things.
During the first two years of our marriage, my husband and I lived in a small, one-bedroom apartment right near the subway. Our place was small- kitchen and living room all in one space, a tiny bathroom and a separate bedroom. Our street was pretty noisy as we were right around the corner from the elevated train, grocery store and all the shops. We loved having so many takeout options and being so close to transportation to and from Manhattan. Our neighborhood, our lives were VERY different then.
When we found out I was pregnant, we moved to a quieter, more residential neighborhood. Our two-bedroom apartment has plenty of space for a pack-n-play, baby swing, bouncer and stroller. There is a school across the street and a park right down the block. Any nearby shops close by 8 pm and the commute into Manhattan is not as easy. But this neighborhood is the setting of our new life - life with baby Aiden!
I never really was used to being friendly with my neighbors or taking long walks around my neighborhood. Walking around with a 3 month old though, people stop and say hello a lot more than I've ever experienced. I've gotten to know other moms in the area and people remember me as "Aiden's mom." Recently, a friend of mine came over and we walked to my local diner for lunch. The cook saw Aiden and actually came out from the kitchen to our table to say hello to him! He's like a local celebrity!
Being a new mom in my neighborhood has really been a lot of fun... I thought that I would miss the fast-paced, hustle and bustle of our old place but it's nice to walk down the street and actually get a reciprocating smile and talk with my neighbors. Who knew Aiden would change so many things, and for the better!
Over the years for me, Labor Day has signified the symbolic end of summer... one more day at the beach, one more barbecue, one more iced-coffee before the leaves start to change color and the cool air sets in for the Fall. The ending of one season and the beginning of another. Now, when I hear that word “labor”, it has taken on a whole new meaning for me. When I hear the word “labor” I look back through the rear-view mirror at my very own “labor day” nearly 5 months ago. In many ways, it still is the ending of one season... the season of ME. And it marked a whole new season in my life... the season of HIM... my sweet baby boy.
I’ll never forget when I went to the hospital because I hadn’t felt my baby moving for several hours. I was relieved when his heartbeat was normal and nervous because I was told that I would be induced the next morning. “Order some food and get a good night’s rest, because tomorrow the real work starts” is what my doctor told me. My husband and I ordered a pizza and put the TV on in the hospital.
I was told that the medicine they gave me to help soften my cervix might cause some cramping, but the real pain would happen the next day once I was induced with pitocin. I started to feel the cramping around 9pm and pretty soon, that cramping was becoming unbearable. I was in labor, with contractions around three minutes apart for five and a half hours and I didn’t even know it! I didn’t want to make a big fuss, or wake my husband up and frankly, I thought the pain I was feeling was just the “cramping” I had been warned about and I thought I must have the lowest pain tolerance ever if this was so hard for me. “What am I going to do tomorrow?” I thought. Finally, the nurse came in at about 2:30 am because my heartbeat kept speeding up on the monitor. “Are you in a lot of pain?” she asked. When she checked me, I was nearly half way dilated and we were shocked. My first words were “call my mom” to my husband and I was moved into a delivery room. Thinking back on that, I realize that I am a lot stronger than I thought I was.
Aiden wasn’t born until 11 am the next morning, but the time went by so fast! When other friends who are pregnant ask me about my labor experience that is the one thing I always say... it goes by so fast. But still, in the roughly 14 hours I spent in labor, I was transforming into a new woman. Aiden has given me so much over the course of the months we have spent together. He has given me a joy that never ceases, a love greater than anything I could have imagined, a new-found zest for life... but labor, labor was the experience that taught me just how much I can handle. It was the experienced that revealed a strength that I never knew was there and a confidence I needed to know that I could succeed at this new job as a mother. That this new season, less about me and more about my sweet baby boy would be the best yet!
Here I am, two months postpartum and enjoying every single minute I get to spend with my chunky little guy! I am thrilled to still be nursing and happy to report that my milk supply is right on track and there is no longer a need to supplement. Woohoo!9:00am on Thursday August 25
I was sad to read an article today about a woman who was asked to move to a dressing room because she was discreetly breastfeeding her baby in the seating area of the American Girl store right here in New York City. It definitely got me thinking about what I would do if put in that situation and the overall views of breastfeeding in New York. I can’t say I have seen many moms nursing their babies and I myself struggle not to feel weird about it.
That said, the public response to breastfeeding in my city has really made me rethink my feelings. Why is feeding my baby something I am made to feel awkward about? I personally choose to use a nursing cover but with the recent heat-wave and my squirmy baby, it can be difficult! Aiden pulls at the cover and I can tell he isn’t too fond of it. So, for women who choose to nurse in public without a cover, I say… good for you!
I was recently at a baby shower for some friends who are Indian. The women sitting around me fell absolutely in love with Aiden! They passed him around and at first I got nervous but he was so comfortable and happy in the arms of an older woman at the party. When he started to get hungry, I put my nursing cover on and nursed right at the table. I still feel uneasy nursing in public, like I am being watched… but I go ahead and do it anyway! When I finally had the nerve to look up and make eye contact with people, I got smiles and encouraging nods from the women around me. It felt really good and immediately I realized that breastfeeding is not viewed the same way in other cultures as it is in America... Or at least in New York City.
American women are known for being strong, multi-taskers who are successful both inside and outside the home. Supermoms, Corporate Giants, Brain Surgeons, we can do it all! New York City women are known for doing it all while looking fabulous and wearing stilettos. So what’s the deal with breastfeeding? Why can’t it be just as fabulous?9:00am on Tuesday August 23
Here in the Bronx we have lots of great things – great food (especially pizza and Spanish food), the Bronx Zoo, the Botanical Garden, not to mention, the Yankees! When I tell people from other places that I live here, they imagine a busy, graffiti- and crime-filled city but for me, the Bronx is so much more than any of that. I live on a quiet street in a two-family house with an elementary school right down the street and a public park. There are LOTS of mommies in my neighborhood and just three months ago, I joined the club!9:00am on Tuesday August 16
I am a first generation breastfeeder, "the lone milk machine. In my family they say that Aiden is getting breastmilk instead of "regular milk." Yes, that’s right – "regular milk." Somehow, I thought that even though the women in my family did not choose to breastfeed, they would offer me support but that has not been the case.
When my mother sees there's no formula in the cupboard, she acts like I'm not giving my son something that he needs. Because we have a great relationship I feel like I can tell her when these things upset me and make me feel like I do not have support in the decision to breastfeed. I get similar comments from the other women in my family as well and it is difficult because I know it is not intentional. I love these women and I just would love to be able to relate more with them on my parenting choices in general. That’s why when I recently learned that my grandmother breastfed five of her seven children (which I only recently learned about) but it made me feel so great! I am realizing more and more how important it is for me to interact with other women who have made the same choice as me.
I love reading posts by my fellow Bravado Breastfeeding Diaries Bloggers and reading all the comments readers have on our posts as well. The internet and social media have been such amazing sources of support for me in this whole experience. I have a few awesome friends who also nurse their babies and though I would LOVE to arrange more meet-ups with them, life is busy so we mostly touch base online (Facebook) or through BBM (Blackberry messenger).
My friend Quiana and I met at a pre-marital counseling group through our church when we were both engaged to be married. We bonded over wedding planning, marriage and then having our first babies. Quiana has an adorable 11-month-old and she has exclusively breastfed her since she was born. She has been there for me to talk pregnancy, breastfeeding, and all baby stuff since the beginning. We are very similar in that we really enjoy information and researching everything so when she shares something with me, I am confident that she is well informed about it.
My friend Tati goes to my church and she has two adorable children. She breastfed both and her husband Rich is very involved in that decision. They both talk to my husband and I about their decision to nurse and even supplemented with formula so I felt I could relate to them as well.
Finally, my friend Courtney and I met through our husbands; they were friends before we both came into the picture. She has a beautiful one year old and just weaned her after breastfeeding a whole year. I remember during the first weeks breastfeeding Aiden, Courtney sent me such an encouraging email and I since have read it and re-read it whenever I need a pick-me-up.
While I am not part of a formal group, I am grateful for my friends. I’ve learned how important it is for us as human beings to be in relationships with one another and how support can sometimes make all the difference.9:00am on Tuesday August 9
I’ve read that breastfed babies become very attached to their mothers… I’ve learned about things like “co-sleeping” and “baby-wearing” and I’ve come to realize that breastfeeding mothers, grow very attached to their babies. I was certain that Aiden would sleep in his own crib but he sleeps with me, I have a nice stroller to walk him in but I prefer to wear him close in his carrier, I thought that after three months of being home cleaning poop/pee/baby-spit-up all day that I would be ready to get back to work, but I am not. I am so not ready.
Still, in two weeks I am starting back at the office and I have to come to terms with this. I’m so grateful that my mom will be Aiden’s full time babysitter because I trust her so much, but still, it’s going to be so hard to leave my baby. I know one thing for sure – I do not want to compromise his nutrition and all the progress we have made nursing so I will do everything in my power to make sure he keeps getting my breastmilk. I have started pumping on my downtime and am stocking the freezer so that we have a little “safety net” that first week.
I spoke with my boss about pumping and there is an empty office that I can use so we are all set. I wonder if I should record Aiden’s cries on my Blackberry and look at pictures of him to make sure the milk flows… I’ll do whatever it takes – we aren’t taking any steps back now!
I also plan to nurse every chance I get… in the evenings, early in the mornings, weekends, the overnight feedings. I secretly (well, I guess not so secretly) wish that the overnight feedings never end so that we can keep nursing. I can’t believe that I am even thinking that! But it’s true, I want to keep nursing! Right now, I am working with Aiden to take bottles since he has as of late been rejecting them. I do hope he will come around and take a bottle but I hope he doesn’t forget about me!
Going back to work is going to be challenging but I have to find the strength to be the best working mama I can be…
Do you have any tips for getting ready to go back to work?9:00am on Tuesday August 2
This weekend, we all traveled to Saratoga Springs, NY – about three hours north of New York City – for my aunt’s wedding. Aiden has a pretty good bedtime routine so it was business as usual on Friday evening. He had his bath, nursed and went to sleep before we left so it was just a matter of getting him in his car seat without waking him. The drive up was going well until he began to stir in his sleep and suck his fingers as he usually does. Aiden is used to being pulled into bed and nursing until he drifts off into sleep once again but that’s not quite how it went. Once at the rest stop, I pulled him out of his car seat and he was NOT happy. There were tables and chairs in the rest area but I decided to just nurse in the car. Part of the reason was that the baby was so upset and I didn’t want to bring a screaming baby around so many people… but I guess part of the reason is – I am still kind of weird about nursing in public.9:02am on Tuesday July 26
For the past six weeks, my life has revolved around my little guy. Breastfeeding is a huge commitment especially in these early weeks since baby is eating so often. He is growing so fast – we already started gathering clothes that no longer fit him to give away. I am thrilled that baby Aiden is such a good eater and he’s packing on the pounds, but as he gains the weight, Mama would like very much to lose it!
I had my six week postpartum check-up today and was given the green light to go ahead and start exercising more. Up until now, I’ve been taking long walks or doing some Wii Fit a little each day for cardio and I’m pretty sure that carrying the stroller up and down the stairs counts as strength training. But I am so ready to hit the gym and get my body back!
There is so much information out there about diet and exercise for breastfeeding moms and as always, I have been given a ton of advice about it. These are some of the most interesting I’ve heard:
- burning fat while exercising can release toxins into my breast milk and harm my baby
- working out will make my milk taste salty and my baby might not like it anymore.
- working out will decrease my milk supply
- I can get plugged ducts from lifting weights
Kellymom.com has some great articles about weight loss while breastfeeding and put a lot of these issues to rest for me. Some women think they have to wait until after they wean their babies to even start to lose the pregnancy weight, but so long as we go at a healthy, steady pace it is totally possible to get back in shape while nursing. Plus, breastfeeding in itself burns about 200-500 calories per day so not only will I be committed to hitting the gym but I’ll keep nursing! I may be wearing a one-piece swimsuit this summer, but I plan to look fabulous in it!
In response to April’s post on exercising and weight loss while breastfeeding, we turned to Heather Kelly -- Bravado’s trusted breastfeeding brain and resource -- for some sage advice on the topic.
An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Heather has been affiliated with the Elizabeth Seton Childbearing Center and is a member of the Manhattan Lactation Group, a private practice group of four consultants in New York City. She also serves as a lactation consultant for Realbirth, NYC’s premier pre and post-natal education center.
Read on to see how our resident expert weighs in…
Getting back into shape after growing and carrying your little one for nine months can be daunting. Starting on an exercise regimen too soon post-partum can put extra stress on you at a time when you are juggling so many new demands. Don't be too hard on yourself; it took nine months for your body to change and adapt to growing a baby, so it can take several months for your body to return to its former shape. However, breastfeeding in those early months can actually help the weight come off. The act of breastfeeding itself contracts the uterus back to its pre-pregnancy size through the repeated release of the hormone oxytocin. Additionally, the body of a nursing mother does not seem to need extra fat while her levels of estrogen are lowered.
In terms of exercising while nursing, there really are no rules or do's and don'ts. One thing to be vigilant about: make sure you don’t wear a sports bra or a restrictive bra for too long either before or after exercising. Since your breasts will be heavier and denser during lactation, it is important that your exercise bra be supportive and properly fitted. However, wearing an exercise bra for too long could set you up for plugged ducts or mastitis. Remember to stay hydrated during any exercise, including that during lactation.
In terms of dieting during breastfeeding, it is perfectly fine. Any diet you do should include well-balanced nutrition. Some women worry that cutting calories can reduce their milk supply; this is not true. Humans have evolved to nurse through famines and food shortages; dieting or cutting calories will not negatively affect your supply, especially if you are doing it in a healthy way.
So when you feel ready (and this could be several months after the birth of your baby) it is fine to resume an exercise/weight loss regimen – just remember to go easy on yourself and start slowly.
We have been supplementing with formula since day one because my recovery was so difficult. I have been struggling with guilt over this. My plan was to breastfeed exclusively for three months and start pumping so that I can slowly introduce bottled breast milk before I go back to work. I wanted Aiden to have only breast milk for the first six months of his life… there go my plans again! Parenting so far has been in a word – unpredictable.
My guilt about giving my baby formula is somewhat complex and I myself don’t fully understand why I feel so guilty. I know that it was important for me to recover and be in good health, I know that formula offers adequate nutrition for my baby, I know that I myself was a formula fed baby! But to me, for me, I just couldn’t help but feel deep down that I wasn’t giving my baby the best food for him. For days I cried and thought "I’m giving him milk from a cow... he isn’t a baby cow!” But more than that, I had made a commitment to breastfeed and on day two of being a mom, I had already broken it.
Since the first few days are so crucial to establishing milk supply, it has been difficult to decrease the amount of formula we give Aiden, but it is going great so far. He nurses all day long, and all night for the overnight feedings. He usually gets one bottle of formula right before bed. Sometimes he will get some more if he is staying with a babysitter and I don’t have a chance to pump. Pumping has definitely been a challenge but that’s another blog post entirely. For now, I am learning to let go of the guilt and feel good about how I have cared for my sweet boy so far. He is growing, he is happy and he is healthy... what more could I ask for?
At about six weeks old now, my baby has started to make it very obvious that he prefers breast milk over formula. For the past two days, he has been refusing it and wanting to nurse longer. I have to admit, this has made feel all kinds of wonderful. It’s like he is choosing me or something. Regardless of what happens though, I am thankful for how far baby Aiden and I have come in the past six weeks and hopeful for the weeks and months ahead of us.
I just put Aiden to bed and am sitting here with my laptop trying to figure out the best way to put my thoughts and feelings into words. I want my blog to be a place where readers can come and relate; see their experiences as I describe my own… I want it to be a positive, encouraging place but most importantly an honest place. You see, it’s just in my nature to speak frankly and especially when it comes to breastfeeding – I wish more women would be willing to talk about it without sugar coating. So, I’m going to come right out and say it: breastfeeding is hard!
I researched, and read, and educated myself so much about it… even with the challenges I faced while recovering from labor and delivery, I tried to be patient and not give up. I have been doing this for a month now and I will admit that I have considered giving up many, many times. I have experienced sore, cracked nipples that bleed, painful breast engorgement and major leakage to the point where I have to wear a bra to bed.
At first, I was worried about my milk supply since I had to supplement with formula due to my difficult recovery. I pumped in between feedings and made the effort to “catch up” with Aiden. I started to notice that at times during nursing sessions, Aiden would grunt and pull at my nipple. It seemed to me as if he was struggling for more milk to come out. When he would unlatch, there would be milk all over so it was very confusing. After these kinds of sessions (which I just happened to have before writing this) I feel frustrated and emotionally drained because I would rather deal with all of the breastfeeding problems mentioned above before I deal with seeing my baby struggle during a feeding. After researching and asking advice from some friends (including Bravado Breastfeeding Diaries Editor-in-Chief Danielle Friedland who is a Certified Lactation Counselor), I learned that I have a forceful letdown which is actually due to oversupply! It turns out that Aiden is grunting, struggling and sometimes even choking during feedings because too much milk lets down at once. So here I am, after nearly a month of trying to build up my milk supply realizing that I have too much of a good thing.
As you can tell, this month has definitely been challenging… but then I can’t fail to mention some of the amazing times I have had nursing Aiden. Nighttime feedings in particular are really wonderful. We lay side-by-side in bed and he curls his little hand around my finger while he nurses. He is at his most calm and peaceful and I enjoy these times singing to him and stroking his hair. He unlatches, thoroughly satisfied, and after a few burps falls asleep in my arms as I rock him. Truly and honestly – even with all of the issues described above, I am so incredibly grateful to have experienced this entire month nursing my son. It’s the good times that keep me going and carry me through the more difficult ones. It’s knowing that I am giving him the best, most natural form of nutrition available and it’s believing that if I stick with it, things are going to get better. Lots of highs and lows this month, but this City Mama isn’t ready to back down yet!9:00am on Tuesday July 5
When I think about the past two months nursing my son – the ups and downs, highs and lows I have experienced so far and the success I have achieved there is one person, one face I always see in my mind… that is my husband. It’s quite simple… I could never have done this without him!
I am the one who comes from a big family; lots of babies in the family to take care of. I am the one who read all the books (though he did read an article or two) about pregnancy, parenting and all that good stuff. But when it came down to it and baby Aiden was here… I am the one who had to deal with the physicality of bringing him into this world. I am the one who had to live in bed for nearly two weeks and my husband was the one who had to take charge and take care of our baby boy.
He changed diapers, swaddled, cuddled, rocked and soothed our baby but most of all, he was hands on in the process of learning to nurse. He put baby in position, checked for a proper latch, and encouraged me to keep at it. He even got into bed and spent that time bonding with us and so the nursing experience was not just for Mama and baby… it was for family.
During the lows especially, my husband has been my greatest support system. He defends OUR decision to breastfeed to anyone who offers their unsolicited opinion and when I am frustrated and have said "let's just make him a bottle" my husband is the one who says "why don’t I take him for a while and then you can try again?"
I know that in pregnancy, labor and delivery, and nursing that we women get all of the credit… but I have can honestly say that there is no way I could do this without our "man behind the milk!"9:00am on Tuesday June 28
My husband is probably one of my most favorite writing topics. He has come to expect cards, letters, and even emails on a regular basis from me since I love to express how he makes me feel and I love to write about my love for him. I think I’m pretty lucky to have married such a cute, smart, funny, (insert awesome adjective) here kind of guy.
One thing about my husband is that he is so much fun to be around and I knew that when we had our first child, they would be the best of friends. He already can’t wait to get up and watch Saturday morning cartoons with baby Aiden, though I insist that he will only be allowed very limited television time when he is older.
Jay loves coming home and taking Aiden right in his arms. He is very hands on with diaper changes, bath time, burping after feedings, and every way he can possibly contribute to take care of the baby. I have to admit that I didn’t expect him to be so natural and comfortable handling the baby, but he surprised me! The first week and a half of my recovery was so difficult; I could not get out of bed or even pick Aiden up by myself… Jay just took charge and really got us through that time. I truly could not imagine doing it without him. I learned to love him in a whole new way since then.
The greatest change I have seen in him has been his protectiveness of the baby and me. He seems more alert, more on guard almost and I think it’s really sweet. It really feels like the three of us are a unit now and Jay has been such a huge part of making that happen. He is also very supportive and on board with the decision to breastfeed our baby. That has meant so much because since we both come from families where we were not breastfed and the support isn’t there in many ways. When I have my mother or mother-in-law say something like “Oh my God, you are out of formula, we have to go buy some right away.” My awesome husband will come in and say “No, we don’t there is plenty of milk right here with Mommy.” It’s nice to know that he and I are on the same page and we are a team. Team Aiden!
In my last post, I shared about my first night as a new mom to the most beautiful boy – my Aiden Kyle. It was definitely a challenging night and the week ahead was to present even more challenges in my commitment to breastfeed. I consider myself to be pretty tough; I grew up in and live in New York City so what can possibly make me back down from a challenge? I’ll tell you though, breastfeeding has been a doozy.9:00am on Tuesday June 14
On April 21st, my life changed forever. I gave birth at 11:01 am to the most beautiful baby boy I have ever seen. My contractions started at about 9 pm the night before and the labor went a lot better than I had imagined it. My son Aiden Kyle Picon was finally here weighing in at 7 pounds 3 ounces. The nurse placed him skin-to-skin on my chest and he immediately made his way over to my breast and latched on! I thought to myself “wow, this is going to be easier than I thought”… boy was I wrong!9:00am on Tuesday June 7
As I sit here and write this, it's my due date; still, no signs of labor and I have to admit I am getting antsy! Everything is ready – car seat is installed, crib and bassinet have been assembled, I even got a special mani/pedi in baby blue for my baby boy - baby blue nails look fabulous by the way! I'm not sure how else to occupy myself while waiting for labor to start so I'm glad I can sit and write what is on my mind about breastfeeding.9:00am on Tuesday May 31
I usually make a huge fuss for my mom for Mother's Day every year but this year, my wonderful family made a huge fuss for me. Having Aiden a few weeks before Mother’s Day, I was thrilled to be showered with the kind of love and attention I always imagined could be coming my way when I became a mom. My husband made me breakfast and my mom, brother and in-laws sent flowers. My husband’s aunt even made me a beautiful charm bracelet with Aiden as the inspiration. I can’t wait to put a little picture of him in the locket and add charms to it of all our adventures together. But when I woke up that morning I felt grateful for the best gift of all – my gorgeous healthy baby boy.9:00am on Tuesday May 24
This is going to sound a little crazy but the biggest surprise (for me) about pregnancy has been the ways my body has changed. I've always heard that a pregnant woman's body changes and to some degree I totally expected that change to take place but never did I imagine it would happen in the so many small areas that it has.
At 39 weeks now, I feel like my body has been completely taken over and it's no longer my own. My lungs are crowded out by my huge uterus which has made breathing (especially while sleeping) nearly impossible. I love to eat but heartburn kind of ruins the experience and let me not even go there with the hemorrhoids! My ankles are non-existent, I snore like a lion, and there are just so many more things that I don't have the heart to list here. I'm super excited to meet my little boy, but never imagined it would take all of this! And I haven't even gone through labor yet!9:00am on Tuesday May 17
Advice... I love advice... I appreciate it when friends, family, my doctor and others in my life give me advice. I am usually very open to it and it makes me feel secure in a way because I know I am hearing from someone who has "been there, done that." One thing I can say about pregnancy is that people offer LOADS of advice. From the moment I announced I was pregnant, it just came at me from all directions and it can be overwhelming. May I just also add that a lot of the advice I get one from person contradicts that of another?!? Yeah. That can sometimes be tough.9:02am on Tuesday May 10
I had little chats with both my mother and mother-in-law today and it seems that Baby Picon will be the first branch on our family tree to be breastfed. I see this as an important event for our family as a whole and I'm excited that the scientific information about breastfeeding that is available to a new generation of mothers is making a difference in our family.
My mom had her first child (my brother) when she was 20 years old and she admits that she simply wasn't informed about the benefits of breastfeeding. She had heard that it was very painful for a woman and after experiencing a difficult delivery and a pretty bad perineal tear on top of it, she decided that it would just be too much to try to breastfeed. When she had me almost nine years later, she was working in a factory and had just separated from my father. Her place of employment would not be supportive had she chosen to breastfeed and since her first child responded well to formula; she decided to do the same with her second.9:00am on Tuesday May 3
I guess I should start by saying that I am definitely one of those people who believe that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes life can take us through straight, other times curvy, sometimes narrow, other times wide paths and I'm learning more and more that while it's great to make plans, it isn't about things going exactly as I've planned them. Rather, it is more about things turning out exactly as they were meant to be. This pregnancy was not in my or my husband's plans but now that we are here; a little over eight months pregnant with a son due in April, I know that things are exactly as they were meant to be.9:34pm on Tuesday April 26
Today, I'd like you to meet April, one of our new moms from the Bravado Designs Breastfeeding Diaries Class of 2011.
With her baby due any day now, April is equal parts excited and nervous. She's amazed by the life growing inside her (especially how the pregnancy seems to have taken over her body) and can’t wait for the arrival of her new baby boy. At the same time, the job of parenting sometimes feels very daunting. For one, there is no OFF button… and while she will rely on help from her mom and mother-in-law in the early days, April finds herself wondering how she will meet the demands of a new baby without losing sight of her personal goals.
While April plans to return to her job at a media buying agency in Manhattan, she’s also committed to breastfeeding her son for at least six months (and up to a year if things are going well).
April lives in the Bronx, NY with her husband of 2 ½ years. In her free time she loves to read and blog and she also sings with The Symphony Chorus in NYC.
We asked each of the new bloggers these questions to get to know them better. Here is what April had to say:
If you had 24 hours all to yourself, how would you spend them? Probably curled up under a blanket reading.. Or if it's a sunny day I would read on the beach. I probably love the ocean more than anything else in nature.
Besides your child, what is your proudest accomplishment? Being the first in my family to graduate from college. That was definitely a proud moment for me.
If you could travel back in time, what decade would you most want to live and raise a family in? And why? I think I really like the 50's, mostly so that I can dress like I'm in GREASE, but I also think it was a really wholesome time where family and marriage were valued a lot more than they are today.
How did you meet your spouse? How did you know he was "the one?" We actually met on My Space. We had some mutual friends and I came across him. He had written a blog that really inspired me so I commented on it. I can't really explain HOW I knew he was the one. I just knew. I remember sitting in a Starbucks with him having coffee and he got up to get some napkins. I watched him walk across the coffee shop and something just clicked in my head -- "this is my future husband." We just kind of fit like a glove from the very start.
What was your favorite thing about being pregnant? Feeling the baby move inside of me. Probably the coolest thing about being pregnant in my opinion. Just knowing and anticipating this new life to begin has been pretty amazing.
What do you dislike the most about being pregnant? Morning sickness, swollen feet, hemorrhoids, snoring, lack of sleep. Ha!
What was your favorite week or month or trimester of pregnancy? Second trimester was the best! The symptoms calmed down and I had the cutest baby bump. It was the perfect size for me to look "cute and pregnant" and still be able to move around and not feel like a beached whale.
What surprised you most about pregnancy? How much my body would be completely taken over! I never considered the complexity of my body until being pregnant. It has literally affected every nook and cranny in ways I never imagined.
What is your relationship with your parents and your spouse's parents like? We were both raised by single mothers. So they are very special to us. We see them a lot and spend lots of time with both "the moms."
What piece of parenting advice are you most sick of hearing? That I am never going to sleep again. That my life is over.. that sort of thing.
What part of being a parent excites you the most? That we will have a little part of us (my husband and I) walking around on earth. That I will have someone to love and be loved by forever and that I can somehow contribute in this world by raising a good young man.
What part of being a parent scares you the most? That it's forever... that there is no OFF button. Sometimes I wonder if I can handle it and if I will be a good mother. I wonder if I'll make it to the goals I have for my own life while still prioritizing my son. I hope so.