Category Archives: Birth

A lesson in mindfulness

I feel as though it was a lifetime ago that I walked expectantly into my one-hour-per-week yoga class on campus, extremely thankful it was offered. I wouldn’t have been able to take another grade school or high school PE class.

I wanted to rid myself of extra pounds. I wanted to rid myself of stress. I wanted to rid myself of guilt. I wanted to rid myself of. . . memories.

So many memories.

I believe it was the second time we met that the yoga instructor sat us down in a rather large freaking huge circle. I was curious and open-minded. She got out a box of raisins and I wondered silently, “How the hell are raisins supposed to help me lose weight and get more flexible?” While I’m still completely uncertain how raisins can do those two things for you, I do know how they can help you become a healthier and happier person.

Please allow me to share this lesson with you. And please help me remember this lesson when I’m feeling low.

The yoga instructor had us all choose a golden raisin from the box and then return, quite perplexed, back to our seats.

“I want you to close your eyes and put this raisin in your mouth. Do not chew it. Just place it there. . .” she began. “Roll it around. Feel its texture. Notice the sharp ridges and rounded sides. Feel the weight of it on your tongue.”

She spoke in a soft, slow, welcoming, and warm voice. I felt my shoulders begin to relax.

“Allow the raisin to plump in your mouth. Feel it accepting its surroundings, taking in the moisture, becoming fuller and rounder.”

I began breathing more softly.

“Slowly begin to chew the raisin. Feel the skin pop. Taste its simple but bright sweetness. Try and realize every thought, every feeling, every motion, every sensation it gives you.”

I was suddenly much more enthralled with a raisin than I’d ever been in my life. I may have been more in tune with that raisin than I had been with anything else in my life. And that was the point.

She had us slowly open our eyes and re-tune to our surroundings. I had never enjoyed a raisin so much in my life. I’d never realized so much about the tiny little fruit; nor had I ever known that there is so much to experience – just within a raisin.

The level of pleasure, enjoyment, education, and understanding about a person or situation depends upon how mindful we are of it.

When is the last time you sat to watch something on television but couldn’t remember what you watched as soon as you got up from the couch? That’s because your mind was elsewhere. I’ve had the same happen while driving to and from my daily destination. My mind starts wandering to other places and completely forgets to enjoy the current moment.

I don’t want my life to be a series of flashes and barely-memorable experiences. I want to enjoy and truly appreciate each moment as it’s given to me.

(This is with the exception, perhaps, of giving birth to Tori – I’m glad to remember her delivery but I am also thankful that I remember very, very little of the pain I breathed through while I labored.)

I want to enjoy each day for its own scenario – for that day’s extreme heat, or extreme cold, or for that day’s perfect breeze while I walk. Each song, each story, each task. . . I want to enjoy it for its own simplicity or complexity. Either way – I want to recognize it. It’s amazing that, when I slow down to recognize each moment for what it is, it usually results in me walking away with a smile on my face.

Try it.

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Thinking of You, Beautiful Amy.

Yesterday after 5:00 in the evening, my amazing friend Amy introduced this world to her beautiful baby boy. I’m so thrilled that he’s here. If that little one is anything like either of his parents, this world will be greatly blessed just by his presence alone.

My friend Amy needs a bit more healing time before she’s feeling quite 100%, but her dear husband is keeping us updated about her progress.

Here’s to you, Amy! Happy Mother’s Day! We love you very much and can’t wait to meet your adorable son.

Have you tried Swagbucks yet?

Search & Win

I know a lot of you have tried the “Do Surveys for Money!” and “Submit for a free sample of blah!” gimmicks out there. If you’re like me, you haven’t had a lot of success with actually getting money or free samples from these sites.

Well here’s one that actually works.

I get the most Swagbucks from my searches. When I’ve got a lot to search the web for, I head straight for Swagbucks’ search engine. (It’s powered by Google but you have to look below the link to see if it’s a sponsored ad or not.) You get awarded Swagbucks at random for searching. I even use my Swagbucks search engine when I’m going to familiar websites like WordPress, Facebook, and Yahoo. I just type that into the search bar and then go to the site from there.

You can also do surveys on the site, take a daily poll, do tasks, things like that. And you’re actually awarded Swagbucks, unlike those other survey sites that say “Hey, we’ll give you a dollar!” and then, twenty minutes later, you find out you haven’t qualified for their survey.

Ahem.

Back to the point, just give Swagbucks a shot. Click here and go look around. I’ve already redeemed some of my Swagbucks for music prizes, and I’ve got a lot of other things from the Swagbucks store on my wishlist – things like a Wii, a Keurig Single-cup Coffee Maker, and a Dali poster.

This site really works! Try it out! (And if you join from these links, I’ll get a referral bonus when you use the search!)
Search & Win

Perspective

I’m taking a quick break from my Breastfeeding 101 series to write about something that’s been weighing heavily on my heart the last couple of days. I’ll warn you now that this will be a sad post, so if you’re hormonal and / or going through a depressed phase right now, you may not want to continue. (I’m serious about that.)

Tuesday I was plowing through our unpaid bills and wondering how we’re going to make it through. Josh has been talking about getting a part-time job, but there are things he needs to accomplish before he can begin looking. We’re also still waiting for all the tax information we need to be mailed to us so that we can file our taxes. We’re waiting with bated breath until we receive our refund check and can pay off some loans that are nearly choking us. All I could do was hang my head and wonder exactly how we’re going to swing things until we get more money coming into the household.

I decided to take a quick break and head over to Facebook to see if I could find a chuckle. I didn’t find a chuckle – but what I did find made me realize (yet again) that everything truly is a matter of perspective.

One of my new-found friends who is going to help me take this blog places (you should totally visit her blog here or here) posted a blog that she’d found.

The blog was written by a daddy-to-be. He and his wife had been trying to conceive for nearly two years when they received the great news they were pregnant. Their little one’s due date was fast approaching. You could read the light in this man’s eyes as he wrote sometimes to family and friends, sometimes to himself, and sometimes wrote to his darling daughter whom he had yet to meet.

Then an accident happened. Just a few days ago his darling bride and their unborn daughter were in a car crash.

His wife didn’t make it. Their daughter was delivered but stayed in critical condition for a couple days afterward. For two heart-breaking days, the new father watched his little girl in hopes that she would start showing brain activity. . . but she never did.

Everything else I was worried about fell from beneath my feet. I couldn’t catch my breath. I couldn’t imagine being within a week or two of my little girl’s arrival and having the two people that meant the most taken from me within a couple of days of one another.

My heart aches for this man. Can you imagine how closely I hugged my beautiful baby daughter, and my husband, when I got home and saw them again?

Our problems are nothing compared to those. Nothing. And this man, partially through the grace of God and partially through the support he’s received in real life and through his blog, is holding his head up high and honoring his beautiful wife and daughter.

At this point, the only thing about which I have to hang my head is my own shame for feeling so sorry for myself – over money.

It really is all about perspective, isn’t it?

Our Story – Persistence!

Brand New Baby

Brand New Baby & Happy Family

I wanted a completely un-medicated birth so that Tori wouldn’t be sleepy when she was born and could nurse right away. I ended up having to have a low dose of Statol late in labor, but it was no big deal – she was born in two contractions (yay!). I had them lay her on my chest immediately before they cut the cord to give her a bit more security. I had them clean her up in the hospital room quickly and then give her back to me so that I could initiate breastfeeding right away. Sure enough, just as soon as I presented her with my breast, she latched on like a champ. Because of the Statol she didn’t nurse but a few minutes before falling asleep and I’m not sure she even transferred colostrum – but hey, that was a start.

I didn’t see a lactation consultant until nearly 36 hours after delivery, despite my attempts to let the labor and delivery nurses know that I was interested in exclusively breastfeeding. When I finally saw the lactation consultant, she helped me make small corrections to Tori’s latch and helped me position her better. Unfortunately, the total time I spent with the lactation consultant was 15 minutes.

Instant Love

Instant Love

The third night I thought I would die. I’d latch Tori on, she’d suck for 2 minutes, fall asleep on the breast, I’d transfer her to her crib and just as soon as I did she’d wake up again. It wasn’t so difficult at first but I was wondering if I was starving her, I thought I was a human pacifier, and frankly latching and unlatching her repeatedly made my nipples worse. If I had it to do all over again I would have left her attached on each breast a lot longer and avoided so much the latching/unlatching dance. This is because through the near-constant stimulation, she was working to bring my milk. The next morning when I got out of the hospital my milk came in.

About 10 days in we were getting a lot faster at latching but my nipples were still *killing* me. My MIL told me to pick up Neosporin Pain. I’d apply it after each nursing session and (gently) wipe it off before she latched on again. It was a life saver. By three weeks my nipples were completely healed and we were nursing comfortably.

Sleepy Baby

Sleepy Baby

We made the mistake of offering Tori a paci when she was a few weeks old because she was nursing all the time. Literally. She’d be on for 45 minutes, I’d put her down to sleep, and 15 minutes later she’d want to come back. Repeat. We tried to give her a paci just to give me a break. That was a bad idea. Because babies suck on a paci differently than they do the breast, it completely messed up her latch. If I had this to do all over again I would baby-wear so I could continue to do (whatever) hands free and Tori could nurse, or comfort suck, or anything she wanted to do.

After the paci snafu it took 3-4 days to correct her latch. By that time the growth spurt was over and she was sleeping a more predictable 1-2 hours between feedings but somehow we developed thrush. It felt like a lifetime before we completely cured her of her thrush. Then, suddenly (and too soon), Tori was six weeks old and I was looking at having to return to work in two more weeks.

I started pumping in hopes that I could build up her first day’s supply before going to work. I screwed this all up and, long story short, I ended up giving her all the milk I’d pumped from a bottle almost as soon as I pumped it. I tricked myself into thinking I had a milk supply problem because I couldn’t get ahead of myself. I did NOT.

Milk Drunk

Milk Drunk

When Tori turned 8 weeks old, I went to work for the first day and got a frantic call from Josh about 10 am. Tori wouldn’t drink any of the milk I’d frozen for her. I made an emergency trip home with what milk I’d collected that morning and she drank it no problem – I wondered what the issue was since she was taking a bottle no problems before. Turns out I had a problem with lipase. We had to overcome that issue. Then a week later I got Mirena inserted because doc advised me that it was a great long-term birth control and because it very rarely affected milk supply. Within two weeks of getting Mirena my milk supply really did plummet (which I should have known – I’ve always been *extremely* sensitive to hormonal forms of birth control; if you aren’t sensitive don’t worry – but if you are sensitive, any form of hormonal birth control can completely screw with your supply). Then I started taking *more* meds to increase my production.

I had only been back to work for a week or week and a half when Tori started refusing the breast whenever I was home to offer it to her. Tori learned very quickly that bottles were easier to drink from. In offering her the bottles too early (and too consistently), I also created a bigger problem that I came to deeply regret. I’d created nipple confusion (or, more accurately, nipple preference.) I’d put her to breast and she’d scream and kick and cry (so would I). I felt so rejected. When I tried to work her out of this nursing strike, she’d strangle from an overactive letdown I had created with all the milk production meds, get more frustrated, and then she couldn’t be coaxed back to breast for the rest of the night. If I had this to do all over again, I’d wait until it was *necessary* to introduce the bottle to her and I’d limit her time on the bottle, meaning I’d run home from work on lunch and nurse, nurse before work, directly after work, etc. so that she’d have as few bottles as possible.

Awww

Awww

The only relief I had from her nursing strike was at night. We bed-share, and, while she was asleep / too tired to fight she’d roll over to me and dream-feed. That’s the only thing that kept my milk production up long-term because after using the production meds so long (and not knowing that was causing my daughter to drown!), I’d messed with my breasts’ idea of what kind of supply they should have, the meds lost their efficacy, Tori wasn’t nursing *enough*, and, my breasts gave up and my supply crashed for the worst. On her three-month birthday Josh and I had to start supplementing with formula.

That lays out the song and dance until she turned one. I stopped pumping at work but she continued dream feeding at night. Within two months she gently weaned herself – going from two nursing sessions a night to just one, and finally in October, at fourteen months old (exactly) she nursed the last time. I tried offering the breast at night for a few weeks since then but she didn’t want it anymore – just her paci. (Insert sad-face here).

All told, my beautiful daughter was exclusively breastfed due to my crazy pumping schedule for the first three months of her life. She was supplemented with roughly 25% formula until six months old. Past that she received 50-75% formula . . . but . . . I never gave up. I gave her every ounce of Mama milk I could until she was a year old. I must say I’m quite nostalgic about our breastfeeding relationship and the hours I spent on the breast pump. I’m also proud of what we accomplished together – but I admit I’m filled with a little regret. If I’d known then what I know now every step of the way, I could have avoided a lot of the boobie traps placed in my way.

That’s precisely why I’m trying to assist any mothers expressing interest in breastfeeding with my new blog series. I hope that the moms I’m helping can overcome any obstacles and breastfeed for as long as they, and their little bundles of joy, wish.

You can find this and other breastfeeding stories at My Practical Baby Guide.

Sweet Nurser

Sweet Nurser

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please click “BF 101” on my topic cloud to see all the posts in my Breastfeeding 101 Series, or choose the topics about which you’re most interested by following the track-back:

Breastfeeding 101 Series (Intro)

BF 101: Preparing During Pregnancy

BF 101: Helpful Resources

BF 101: Labor and Delivery Can Affect Your Nursing Relationship

BF 101: The First Few Days

BF 101: The First Few Weeks

BF 101: Growth Spurts

BF 101: Birth Control

BF 101: Sleeping through the Night

BF 101: Working Mama

BF 101: Pumping and Milk Storage

BF 101: Nursing Strike

BF 101: Supply Issues

Circus Act

I’ve always considered myself a strong person. I’ve been proud of how much I have tolerated and still managed to come out on top. (Well, not necessarily on top – but I’ve been able to keep my head relatively above water and make the most of any situation.) Part of the reason I never wanted to be a mother before I conceived Tori was that I knew I’d be responsible for another little human being and I was sure that would push me past my limit.

When Josh and I conceived Tori, I was petrified. Instantly. Life as I knew it was over. It was time to shed my old skin and re-emerge as someone completely different – as a mom. Sure, I had almost 10 months to prepare, but 10 months is nothing after you’ve been concerned with sustaining only yourself for 27 years before that.

I read everything I had time to read about motherhood. I took a childbirth class. I took three breastfeeding classes. Did I feel more prepared? Nope. I felt more terrified. I had days when I wondered, “How will I do this?” Some days I thought, “What was I thinking?” On others I simply felt amazed at what was going on within my body. Pregnancy is truly a miraculous experience. Over time I became more and more nervous about labor and delivery.

When the morning of August 2nd came and my water broke, I busied myself with laundry while Josh got his last couple hours of sleep as a non-parent. I spoke nervously to my tummy. “Do I get to meet you today, little one?” I asked as I stood in front of the washing machine and rubbed my bump tentatively. Tori didn’t answer me but my heart fluttered. As it turns out, I didn’t get to meet her that day but I did the next – August 3rd at 12:07 a.m., after 17 hours and 37 minutes of easy labor. Then life truly changed.

Suddenly I was no longer April – daughter, sister, college graduate, employee, wife. Suddenly I became a circus act – a juggler. I became all the things listed above, plus mom.

Now instead of going to work, paying bills, coming home, spending time with the husband, and going to bed – I’m getting up, taking care of Tori, being “moo-mie” (making milk), going to work, paying bills, making doctors’ appointments, being moo-mie again, running errands, paying bills, coming home from work, and then again being moo-mie, taking care of Tori, orchestrating baths and showers, grabbing a quick bite to eat, and then settling to bed with my favorite snuggle-bug.

I sure am busy . . . but life is wonderful.

A brief birthday story . . .

Since I have no idea how much I’ll be able to be on or how much I’ll be able to write . . .

Sunday at 6:30 a.m. my water broke. J and I headed to the hospital at roughly 4 p.m. By the time we got settled in, the contractions had gotten quite noticeable. By about 6 p.m. I’d gone into what we’ll call true labor. I did really well with the breathing exercises I was taught.

At about 9 p.m. the real pain started . . . I had gotten to 6 centimeters when I was sure that I was going to end up hanging from the ceiling from my fingernails. The nurse gave me a low dose of Statol to take the edge off the contractions, so I suppose I didn’t have give birth 100% naturally, but folks let me tell you . . . ALL it did was take the edge off, just barely.

J was the most excellent childbirth coach a girl could ask for. He knew exactly when to help me with my breathing, just when to back off, and he knew just when to whisper into my ear “You’re doing SO well Baby, we’re almost there. We’re really close. You’ve almost done it!”

At 12:07 a.m. T came into this world. There were no complications; we just had to use a bit of caution because the cord was over her neck, but Doc unwrapped it as soon as she was born, no problemo.

She was born 6 lbs. 6 oz. and 18.5 inches long. She’s perfect. =) She looks almost like a carbon copy of her dad minus her furrowed brow which is the only recognizable facial feature of mine that she’s got! Go figure! She’s got my fingers and toes too, though. She’s being an excellent baby, only fussy when she absolutely needs something. She’s also taken incredibly well to being breast fed. I’m proud of her for learning so quickly. Of course, now my nipples may be the most sore things on the face of the planet but that’s ok, too.

So here she is, folks . . . thank you for all of your well-wishes, prayers, thoughts, visits, and love!

OK, here’s the scoop.

T is messing with her mom.

(Before I go too much farther, here’s a warning to the males reading this that I’m going into female-medical-issues, but not in TOO much detail. But consider yourselves warned.)

Friday when I went to the doctor he pronounced me 90% effaced, 1 cm, dilated, and T low in my pelvis, head down, ready to go. I didn’t think too much of that until early Sunday morning when I lost my mucus plug. All day Sunday J and I went from store to store and got final things taken care of, small things picked up, and packed our bags for the hospital.

Yesterday (Monday) morning I called the doctor’s office just to confirm “So hey – since I lost the plug that means I’m looking at anything from a few hours to a week or so, right?” They wanted me to go to the hospital to Labor and Delivery to get monitored just to make sure. I get to L&D and they find that I am actually contracting and that I’m just over a cm dilated so they tell me I’m in early labor and that I should go home and rest up. By the time I left the hospital, I was feeling the contractions.

I make a big deal of it at work, come home yesterday, and wait. From about 11 am to 12 midnight I experienced contractions between 6 and 10 minutes apart, consistently, but never regular. They never got to 5 minutes apart to get me to go back to the hospital. So, a very tired person, I went to bed. I woke again at 6 this morning and the contractions weren’t as often as they had been. I called the doctor’s office again expecting to go in and see if I’d at least progressed since yesterday before noon. Instead of bringing me in to check me real quick and give me peace of mind, she set an appointment for me for Friday and said if my water hadn’t broken and that if the contractions weren’t unbearable I could return to work.

So now . . . with only a couple contractions an hour . . . I have no idea if I made any real progress, if it was just Braxton Hicks (practice contractions, but I wouldn’t imagine so with them going on for 24 freaking hours), if it’s pre-labor, or what. Thankfully my friend C is a midwife and she’s been able to inform me that it’s pre-labor, not just false labor, so I feel a little less embarrassed . . . but NOW I’ve brought my mom up here, a 500 mile trip for her, and uprooted her from her life, I’ve missed a day and a half of work I can’t afford, I’m tired, I’m still contracting (though not much) so I’m not comfortable, and I’m just very . . . very . . . very frustrated.

No, I’m not overly anxious for her to get here after all this, I’m just frustrated because of the uncertainty and because I honestly feel like I’ve been robbed of that “oh boy we’ve gotta rush to the hospital” moment. And . . . and . . . and . . . argh.

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