How to increase your supply: Breastfeeding Post #4

10 Apr

When embarking on your breastfeeding journey, be aware that you may find yourself, at some point, needing to increase your supply. This will especially be the case if you are a working mom who has to work away from the home and your baby (You are in good company if you are…I’m right there with you).

We’d all like to think that nature will work perfectly and we’ll have a perfectly smooth breastfeeding journey where our babies will always be satisfied with as much milk as they need. This isn’t always the case and it is one of the major reasons moms supplement with formula–which, by the way, is totally fine! But if you want to reduce the amount of formula you have to give or not give any formula at all, you probably will have to increase your supply at some point.

So how can you increase your supply? Here are some of the things I’ve done that have helped!

1. Feed on demand in the early days: It’s really important for establishing your milk supply that you feed on demand those first couple months. Hopefully, by 3 months your babe will be able to go 3-4 hours without eating, but that first month or two you might find yourself feeding every 2 hours. At times, you will experience “cluster feeding” where your kid is literally eating round the clock. This is probably because they are going through a growth spurt, but it’s also a natural process that helps moms to up their milk supply as your kid will gradually need more milk at each feed until he’s about 3 months old (that’s when things start to level out a bit).

2. Mother’s Milk Tea: I love tea so naturally when I heard there was a tea that promotes lactation, my interest was piqued. However, this tea isn’t exactly my favorite. It tastes a lot like licorice, and while I don’t dislike licorice, it’s not exactly my favorite flavor of tea.  That being said it does help with supply, so I try to drink one cup a day. If I notice my supply going down, I’ll up it to 2-3 cups per day. I get the brand below from Whole Foods for about $5-6 a box.

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3. Fenugreek: Fenugreek is a supplement you can take that promotes lactation. I buy it from Whole Foods for about $11 a bottle. I get Nature’s Made brand. You can take 2 capsules with food 1-3x per day. I started taking this with my first son when I went back to work.

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4. Oatmeal: Oatmeal, especially steel cut oats, is a great food for increasing supply! I have a great oatmeal recipe (below) for those of you who may not love oatmeal. I’m not s a huge oatmeal fan, but this stuff is bomb! (Yes, I said bomb).

Oatmeal Recipe: Put all of the ingredients below in a crock pot and turn to “low” for 5-6 hours. Add a little milk every couple hours to keep it moist and from sticking to the sides of the crockpot dish. This will make quite a few servings so you can put it in some tupperware and have it for breakfast for several days. I like to add fruit to it (berries are the best!). You can also add nuts, dried fruit, etc…

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cup water

1 1/2 cups milk

2 apples cored and sliced into small pieces

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup steel cut oats

pinch of salt

flaxseed (add a little to pack an extra punch for lactation!)

5) Water! One of the simplest things you can do to up your supply is to drink more water. After all, breastmilk requires lots of water to be produced so the more your body has the more you can make. This one, though simple, is hard for me simply because I don’t enjoy drinking tons of water.

6) Gatorade: Similar to water, Gatorade helps you stay hydrated and it has electrolytes which will help you produce more!

7) Pump: Pump after as many feeds as you can. This tells your body that your baby needs more milk than he or she is getting. In turn, you will make more milk!

Other things I haven’t tried but have heard good things about: Blessed thistle, lactation cookies/desserts (you can find recipes for these all over the internet!).

And finally, things to avoid while breastfeeding because they will DECREASE your supply: 

  1. Parsley
  2. Peppermint
  3. Sage tea
  4. Excessive alcohol (which also isn’t good for baby anyways). I only drink one drink while breastfeeding. 2 if it’s a special occasion, but I pump for baby ahead of time.

 

 

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What’s the deal with pumping?

9 Apr

So this post will be all about pumping breastmilk. It’s not something I knew much about before having kids and I had no idea how much of it I’d have to do to have a successful breastfeeding journey while being a full time working mom.

So first off…what pump should you get? My answer? Whatever one your insurance will cover because they aren’t cheap. For me, it’s the Medela and I’ve been pretty satisfied with it. Here’s a link to the one I have:

With my first son it worked great until the last week I pumped when one of the buttons broke. Thankfully, my insurance covered another one when my second son was born so I was able to replace it. Typically, a pump will come with 2 sets of flanges, shields, 4 cups for collecting the breastmilk with lids, and an extra set of membranes. Here’s a great website for looking at all the parts and if you need to reorder some: http://www.mybreastpump.com/medelareplacementpartspage.html

The actual process of pumping is pretty self-explanatory. What’s not is the following: 1) When should you start pumping?, 2) How much milk should you save before going back to work?, 3) How often should you pump at work?, and 4) How will you find time to pump? Here are my thoughts on each of those questions below!

When should you start pumping? There is a lot of debate about these even among lactation consultants. With my first son, I started pumping around 3 weeks just once a day to get him used to having a bottle once a day so that when I went back to work he would know how to use a bottle. I had heard a lot of kids refused to take a bottle and that wasn’t going to be an option for me because I have to work full time. My husband is a stay-at-home dad, and unfortunately (for both of us…haha), he can’t breastfeed. So initially I started to pump with the purpose of feeding the milk to him so he could get used to a bottle.

Then I started pumping and saving milk because I also wanted to create a “stash” of extra milk for when I went back to work. I probably didn’t really start saving anything until he was in his 2nd month. I kind of regretted this because the more you can save the better. All in all, I had saved about 235 ounces of breastmilk before going back to work when he was 15 weeks old. I know I would never have made it without supplementing if it weren’t for that stash. Especially around the 2nd or 3rd month I was back at work, I had to start supplementing him with that milk because I wasn’t making enough during the day through pumping.

Fast-forward to baby #2. I started pumping right away. Why? Because I desperately needed my milk to come in. He was born with low blood sugar (I had Gestationa Diabetes the 2nd time) and he had to be supplemented with donor milk until my milk came in. As that stuff is expensive and ideally I’d rather he be eating my milk, not a stranger’s, I started pumping right away. My milk came in on Day 3 and we were good to go! I gave myself a little break from pumping and then picked up pumping 1-2x a day to either give him a bottle or save. Now he is 5 weeks old and I’ve saved about 45 ounces of breastmilk so far. Not that impressive, but it’s a lot harder to find the time to pump now that I also have a toddler who needs my attention when I am not feeding baby.

So the long and the short of it? You can start pumping whenever you like. If you have to go back to work, I’d say the sooner the better. Just be aware that if you pump a lot you could create an oversupply which can lead to clogged ducts and/or mastitis. So just be careful. I only pump 1-2x a day right now because I’m feeding about every 3 hours. Sometimes 2 hours if baby is especially hungry that day.

I go back to work when this little guy is exactly 12 weeks old, but only for 3.5 weeks and then I’ll have 2 more months off which will give me more time to get my stash back up again and hopefully my supply too. So I’m not quite as worried this time since I’ll only work 3.5 weeks during the first 5.5 months of his life. Yay!

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2) How much milk should you save before going back to work? This is also a tough question to answer because, well…there’s no right answer. My answer would be as much as you reasonably can without making yourself crazy. If you are only going to work part time then you probably don’t need as much. I work full time as a teacher so I’m out of the house from 6:45am-4pm most days when I’m working. So I needed a lot because that’s a lot of hours to go without your baby, and most likely he or she will need to eat more than you can pump in that time, especially if you have a demanding job where it’s hard to find time to pump. Teaching is especially hard because I absolutely cannot pump when I’m teaching (obviously), so I have to find time during my prep, my lunch (which is only 30 minutes long), and after school when kids are constantly coming by to ask me questions). In a word, it’s so hard. Pumping at work was my least favorite part of my breastfeeding journey because it really reduced the amount of time I had to get things done during the day, which meant more work had to come home with me which = less time with family which = sux! So the more you can save, the less you have to stress at work about getting in every last drop! Like I said above, with my first I had saved 235 ounces, and that barely got me through the year. I also added to it on weekends after I started working so I could replenish the stash a bit!

3) How often should you pump at work? Ideally? As often as your child would eat. So if you go back to work and your child is eating every 3 hours, then you should pump every 3 hours. This wasn’t realistic for me with teaching. I probably got to pump every 4 hours, which mean that I was short a few ounces every day, which meant I needed that stash for about one feed per day while I was gone. If you work in a place where you can shut the door and pump whenever you like, do it! I certainly would have. But that just wasn’t an option for me sadly.

4) How will you find time to pump? Honestly? With your first child it won’t be THAT hard. When he or she is sleeping, you can pump. Cue 2nd child and it becomes a lot more difficult, especially if your older one is a toddler who needs your attention like all the time. I’d say, set realistic goals. Right now I pump once during the middle of the night and I try to pump once during the day when my husband can watch both kids. It’s not easy. But if you’re determined, you will do it. I do because it’s really important to me.

Ultimately, pumping isn’t really fun. I don’t know anyone who enjoys it. BUT. It does allow working moms to continue to EBF (with bottles of course). I was pretty excited that I never had to supplement my first with formula, but it wouldn’t have been the end of the world if I had. For moms who have a really hard time with breastfeeding, just know that even if your child is only getting 1 or 2 feeds a day with breastmilk that is WAY better than not getting any at all. So whatever you can do, be proud of yourself!

If you have questions for me about pumping, please leave them below. I’m happy to share what I know 🙂 I’ll probably do another post about pumping…maybe something about tips for pumping successfully at work. Let me know if there’s a topic you want me to cover!

Breastfeeding and Bonding

8 Apr

So aside from all the wonderful health benefits for your baby that breastmilk provides, I think probably the most important thing it gives you and your baby is a way to bond. Think of it this way. Your baby has literally shared your body with you for the last 9 months. All he or she has known is what it’s like to be “a part of Mom.” Then he comes into the world and the separation must be painful. For us moms, it’s literally painful, the birthing process. But I think it’s what comes after birth that’s painful for the babies. They have never in their entire existence been separated from their mothers and now the separation begins…slowly. As a Christian, I can liken this only to what Adam and Eve must have felt as they were separated from God. No, I am not comparing myself to God, but there is a similarity in the relationship. Where there was once total communion, now there is separation.

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Snuggles with Joshua.

I reflected on this with my first son when he was 4 months old and I had recently gone back to work. I came home and couldn’t wait to feed him. To just “be with” him. And, unfortunately, I also had to grade papers…it was the first set I had collected since going back to work. I logged on my computer to Turnitin.com and graded a few while he was feeding. And then I stopped and reflected on the whole thing. And I realized. Childhood…is really about a gradual release from the parent. The baby goes from inside his mom, to outside but still very connected to Mom. After all, those first few months, baby is either being held or fed a good portion of the day (and sometimes, night too). So I stopped grading and just stared at him thinking what a blessed time it was to still be close to him. Because I knew there would come a day when he wouldn’t breastfeed anymore, and there will be a day he won’t even live in the same house as me any more. And I wept thinking of this gradual separation between me and my child. Here is what I wrote as a reflection during that moment (thank God I wrote this down!):

My Reflection on Motherhood: It’s 4am and Jack’s up again for the 3rd time in the night, and that means so am I. I’m feeding him or comforting him, and then I get up and go and teach all day, come home and from the moment I walk in the door there’s stuff to do. Put pumped milk away, wash old bottles, change my clothes, go to the bathroom, and then finally grab Jack and play with him or feed him, or just sit with him. After a good hour or so passes, I realize, there’s over 100 essays to grade and they’re not just going to go away, so I have him on one boob and my hands are typing away at Turnitin.com. And then I stop for a few moments and look down and Jack’s smiling at me, and my eyes well with tears. I’m exhausted. I have not one minute in the day that’s entirely to myself unless you count the few minutes going to the bathroom. But I wouldn’t trade this time for anything because one day I’m going to be old, and Jack will be my age with his own family. And even though he’ll still love me he won’t have time to look at me the way he’s looking at me now. He won’t ever be 4 months old again. And so I’m filled with both profound joy and sadness all at once at the fleetingness of life and the intensity of love that swells in my heart, a love that’s never felt greater than it did the day my son was born. So despite the exhaustion and despite the stress, I can honestly say I have never been this happy.

Reading this again makes me cry. Because he’s almost 2 now and he doesn’t need me nearly as much as he did then. But oh boy does he still need me. And it gets harder in other ways. Now he’s adjusting to being a big brother and I get to experience this beautiful bonding with my second child, a child who will never have as much of my undivided attention as my first did.

Why is parenting so achingly beautiful and so achingly hard at the same time? This must be what God thinks when he looks down and sees all of us–he loves us so much but it must be so hard for him to see us struggle.

So aside from all the amazing health benefits. The antibodies. The milk designed just for them. The protection against diseases. The statistics that show a slightly higher IQ for breastfed babies. I think the BEST reason to breastfeed is that communion with your child. That literal bonding of flesh to flesh. It must be so hard to be separated from one’s Mom after being inside her for 9 months. Maybe when they feed like this they get a taste of what they had for just a little while.

Just a little longer with Mommy. I’m good with that.

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Snuggles with Jack–one week old

Two tips for the early days of breastfeeding…

7 Apr

The first few days of motherhood are intense. I mean. REALLY. INTENSE. They are intense for so many reasons. 1) You just birthed a human, 2) You are falling in love with this human, and 3) You have never been so sleep deprived in your life. There are many other reasons why these first days are intense. Maybe your child was born early. Maybe he or she had to go to the NICU. Maybe there were complications. Maybe you are in a lot of physical pain due to your labor or your c-section. And maybe your plans for breastfeeding aren’t going as well as you’d like.

One of the things you’ve likely read about if your an expecting mother is the benefits of skin-to-skin. At birth, most hospitals now encourage immediate skin-to-skin contact between mother and child. Why? It helps promote 1) bonding, 2) regulates blood sugar, and 3) promotes breastfeeding. When the child is placed on your skin it’s truly one of the most amazing, beautiful experiences of your life. Ask any mother who’s had a child. It’s pretty unreal. It’s one of those moments that you want to file away permanently into your long term memory because you know you don’t get many of these moments in your life. It’s up there with wedding day and any other extremely special moments you’ve ever had.

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Me and my oldest son, Jack (one day old)

About an hour or so after birth, if your baby hasn’t already moved toward your breast, you will probably be encouraged to help him or her out so he or she can start the first feed. I remember with my first being surprised at how difficult it was to get the little guy to latch and stay latched. What I didn’t understand was that HE had to learn how to figure this all out too. For some reason, I thought he’d instinctually know (because, hey…survival right?). But no, the mom actually is a really huge part of the process. Holding the baby just at the right height and angle is critical for getting the right latch. Don’t freak out. There are nurses and lactation consultants who can help with this. What else is important? Making sure the baby gets enough of the breast into his mouth. At first, I was just so happy that my baby was suckling, I didn’t care if he had “enough” of my breast in his mouth. But guess what? If he only has your nipple in his mouth, this can cause disastrous damage to your nipples and ultimately make the experience very painful and very unpleasant. I know because even the second go around, I experienced this a little until both me and my son got used to each other. It takes time. Don’t be discouraged. If you don’t get it for a few days…that’s normal.

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Me and my younger son, Joshua (1 day old)

Advice? Listen to the nurses and lactation consultants. But also realize that even if you are listening, it takes practice. I was practically taking notes in the hospital and it still took me several days to get the hang of it, and I think it was also a matter of my little one needing time to get the hang of it too. Don’t give up in the first week (or even first few weeks) because you know what? It takes time. For some women and babies it may only take a few hours to figure each other out. For others it takes days and maybe even weeks. In my case, it took me and my first son a few days. With my second son, it only took a few feeds because I knew what I was doing a heck of a lot better the second time around. So tip #1: Don’t give up during the first few days or weeks. Expect that it will take both of you TIME. It can be hard and it can be frustrating, but don’t give up. And by don’t give up, I don’t mean that you won’t have to supplement. It may very well be that your baby needs formula or donor milk to get her by for the first few days or weeks. With my second child, he had low blood sugar, so we had to purchase 2 days worth of donor milk and supplement until my milk came in and he was getting enough to keep his own sugars stable. (BTW, that liquid gold is expensive…two days worth of breastmilk = $56!).

Tip #2: Get yourself into a breastfeeding support groupI live in Bend, Oregon, which is A) an amazing place to live, and B) a very breastfeeding friendly locale. My experience at St. Charles hospital was fantastic and they recommended a Mommy and Me group at a place called Locavore. It’s a store that only sells locally grown/made products. They have a room just for Mommy and Me. It’s pretty sweet. Every Thursday at 1pm, I go to this group and weigh my kiddo to see what his growth rate is, and then I feed him with other moms and re-weigh him after to check how much milk he’s getting. One of the frustrating parts of breastfeeding is not knowing how much milk your kid is getting. With formula, you measure and see the amount of milk in the bottle vs. how much he/she consumed. With the breast, you can’t see how much milk your kid is getting and even if you’re pumping regularly, you don’t know if your kid is getting more or less than what you pump (probably more btw), because maybe your kid is a super sucker or maybe she has reflux and isn’t even eating your full supply. So it’s super great to have a group like this because you can 1) see if your kid is gaining the suggested amount of weight, and 2) you can find out if she is eating a full meal at meal time. This information can help you determine things like: 1) Do I need to get my supply increased?, 2) Do I need to supplement with formula, and 3) Do I need to see a doctor if my child isn’t gaining enough weight. All of this gave me such peace of mind as a new mom. Now with kid #2, I go mostly for the socializing, but let me tell you, the peace of mind is still great. Why else are these groups great? 1) Well, you get to socialize with other moms who are some of the best “experts” out there., 2) You get free access to lactation consultants who are the “real experts.”, and 3) You get out of the freaking house! I went weekly to my Mommy and Me group until I went back to work with my first, and I plan on doing the same with my second. One of the hardest parts of going back to work was missing out on this wonderful group. Thankfully, I made several really wonderful friends that way. 🙂

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Local Mommy and Me groups are awesome!

Do you have a question about breastfeeding in the early days? Post a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer it!

An introduction to breastfeeding

6 Apr

I don’t think I ever thought I’d blog about breastfeeding, but guess what? When you’ve spent the majority of the last 2 years of your life feeding young children with your BREASTS, it becomes not only a focus but a bit of an obsession. Well, at least it has for me. Before I begin, I want to acknowledge the fact that many women are unable to breastfeed for a variety of reasons, and that is OK. Fed is best. In other words, if you can’t breastfeed or you chose not to, these posts are not meant to judge you or your decision. Rather, they are to encourage those women who are able and have chosen to breastfeed their little ones.

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A little background on my breastfeeding journey.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I attended a breastfeeding class through my local hospital. I also read as many articles as I could find about it. I’m not sure either helped a whole lot with the actual process of breastfeeding, but what they did do was convince me of two things: 1) It’s hard, BUT 2) It’s worth it. 

How did I learn it was hard? Well, many, many women on the internet talk about how hard it is. From the many hours it requires to issues with supply and latching, there’s probably no woman who doesn’t come across some challenges with breastfeeding at some point on her breastfeeding journey. That being said, some women face minor challenges and others face pretty significant ones. And a lot of the time, when women face significant challenges to the actual act of breastfeeding, it can affect them mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I plan on writing a post just about this in the future. Please note that breastfeeding can also have a wonderful effect on one’s spirit because of its bonding nature. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t trying moments that challenge one’s spirit and make one question whether or not it’s “worth it.”

How did I learn that it’s worth it? If you do your research, it’s pretty amazing all the things that breastmilk can do. I also plan on doing a post all about the benefits of breastmilk and breastfeeding, but in a word, breastmilk has antibodies that cannot be obtained through formula feeding. It is actually tailored to your child by your body, and breastmilk is even tailored to your child’s gender and specific health needs. It’s one of the many biological processes that convince me of the existence of God. It’s just too beautiful and perfect to not have been thoughtfully designed.

So if you are pregnant, considering getting pregnant, starting your breastfeeding journey, or in the middle of your breastfeeding journey…I hope my posts about breastfeeding will help you. I am by no means an expert. I’m not a lactation consultant. I’m a mom. I successfully breastfed my first son till he was 13 months. He naturally weaned himself shortly after I got pregnant with my second son. I have a feeling my supply dropped and the milk may have changed. But he was already in the weaning process when we stopped. I still remember the very last time I fed him; it was a bittersweet moment, but I also knew that we were both ready. I was starting to get morning sickness and he was happy with his whole organic milk from the store. It was time.

I am now breastfeeding my second son who is 5 weeks old. We are in the “every 2-3 hours” phase of breastfeeding–the hardest part in my opinion. The part where nights are interrupted and sleep is elusive. But these are also some of the most beautiful times for breastfeeding because they are the most bonding times. I will write more about this too in another post. It’s amazing how much there is to say about this beautiful, natural, (but challenging) part of motherhood.

I welcome questions and hope my experiences can be helpful to you!

Joshua’s Birth Story. Part 2.

20 Mar

In my last post, I wrote about all the events leading up to Joshua’s birth. In this post, I’ll talk about his delivery and the aftermath.

After getting my epidural at around 10:30pm, I immediately was able to relax and get a little rest. I hadn’t slept well in days, especially the night before, and having worked all day, I was exhausted. It was nice to close my eyes and rest through my contractions for about an hour. I never fell asleep but I felt so relaxed. Ben and I just talked and held hands and waited for the big moment. Around 12:30 I was getting ready to push. I could feel the contractions, though they weren’t painful. I felt the pressure and desire to push. It took 3 sets of 3 pushes (or about 20 minutes) to delivery Joshua. Unlike Jack, it was such a calm experience. I wasn’t screaming. I was focused and calm and even though it was still pretty fast, it wasn’t lightening fast. Instead of getting a near 4th degree tear, I got a 2nd degree tear. Let me tell you ladies, a 2nd degree tear feels like a picnic compared to an almost 4th degree tear. I never experienced much pain from it (just a little discomfort) whereas with Jack, I was in a lot of pain afterwards for weeks (severe pain for the first 3 weeks).

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The moment when Joshua came out was so beautiful. I remember that moment well with Jack too (it was where my memories really began with Jack since that’s when the pain ended). For anyone who’s had a child, it’s hard to describe the feeling. It’s this level of joy and love that’s indescribable. Mom’s of second children often worry when they are pregnant about how they could possibly love any other child as much as their first. But that fear just melts away right when you see that second child. I fell in love instantly and I know I love my boys equally even though I’m sure I’ll love them differently. I could see right away that they are different physically. Jack’s face was round and his ear lobes were not attached (this is a detail Ben and I joke about). Joshua’s face is heart shaped and he has little elfish ears. They are both beautiful children and they look like brothers, but they definitely have their own little look.

Joshua latched almost right away and very well right after birth. We did skin to skin and everything was going great. Unfortunately, when they took Joshua’s blood sugar, it was a little low. This was greatly disappointing to me because I had spent the last 3 months watching my diet really carefully due to my Gestational Diabetes. I had good numbers with only an occasional high number. I gave up most of the carbs I ate and ate radically different from how I normally ate, making sure to always pair proteins with any carbs I did eat. His sugars never dropped below 42 (45 is the minimum they liked to see). They tried 3 rounds of glucose gel and donor breastmilk, but his sugars were still lower than what they wanted to see. So at that point the doctors decided he should go to the NICU for an IV of glucose and fluids. Hearing he had to go to the NICU was really hard. I cried thinking of my sweet, tiny newborn with an IV in his hand, but the nurses assured me that it would all be fine and this was a fairly routine procedure. Even if that were true, many of the nurses seemed like they had never (or rarely) had given a newborn the glucose treatment. This makes me wonder just how common it really is.

Josh was taken to the NICU at about 2pm on March 1st. Ben stayed with him for a few hours while I got a little sleep since I hadn’t slept at all in nearly 2 days. Then around 7pm, I went to the NICU and stayed there all night long and cluster fed him to try to get his sugars stable. By 5am the next morning he was in the clear and the nurse and I walked him back to our room. Ben had been sleeping since 8pm the night before (I was quite jealous…lol), and he was so thrilled to see us back in the room at 5am. He got up and let me get some sleep. From that point on everything was good with Joshua including his blood sugar.

On 3/2 the nurses kept watch over him, tested his sugars 3 more times to make sure everything was good (and it was! yay!) and then we were discharged around 4pm that afternoon. It was wonderful to go pick up Jack and go home as a family.

At birth Joshua weighed 7 pounds 8 ounces and was 20.5 inches long. By the time we left the hospital he was 7 pounds 1 ounce, but one week later he was 7 pounds 11 ounces and by two weeks he weighed 8 pounds 6 ounces! Today Joshua is 2 weeks and 4 days old. He’s doing great…he hasn’t quite figured out his nights and days yet, but I’m so grateful that he’s healthy and gaining plenty of weight. We are so lucky to have two healthy boys.

Joshua’s birth story. Part 1.

19 Mar

Birth stories seem to be this new popular thing to share in the last several years…I don’t know about you, but I was never really interested in birth stories until I hit my late 20s and being a mom seemed like something in my imminent future. Then at 30, when I became pregnant for the first time with Jack, I began seeking them out, wanting to know as much as possible about what the labor, birthing, and first hours of mommyhood would feel  like.

The reality is that every woman, every pregnancy, and every baby are different, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to read other people’s stories. So for my fellow mommies or future mommies who find this stuff interesting, here is Joshua’s birth story. I’m breaking it into a couple parts since it’s a bit long…so stayed tuned for part 2!

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My final bump shot at 38 weeks pregnant (just a few days before he arrived!)

On February 27, 2017, I went to bed and really never fell asleep. I was achey, crampy, and generally felt horrible, but I was still 2 weeks away from my due date, so I chose to go to work on February 28th, thinking I still had at least a week to go. Jack, my oldest, was born at 39 weeks 1 day, so I figured that was probably about how long I’d make it with this one…not sure why I made that assumption. Well, when I got to work, I started having some light contractions around 10am which intensified by the afternoon. In fact, I was really feeling them during my prep period which is right after lunch and I even called the office to let them know to be on standby in case I didn’t make it through my last period of the day.

My 7th period is an honors sophomore class, and they are very well behaved, so I was able to teach from my seat for half the period and then let them work. I told them I thought it might be my last day unless the contractions I was having were false labor. After work, I had my 38 week doctor’s appointment at 3:10, which was convenient, since most of my other appointments had been much later in the afternoon. When the doctor came in to see me, he remarked, “You look a little distressed.” I laughed, not realizing that I did look that way. He said, “Well, you’re just always so chipper…I can tell something is bothering you.” He checked me and I was 4cm dilated and 80% effaced. Normally, he said he’d tell me to labor at home for a while, but since I had such a quick labor with my first, he told me to go home, get my stuff, and head to the hospital within the hour.

I drove home, excited and anxious for the evening. I was mostly nervous about having to drop my son Jack off. He’d never spent a night away from us before. Thankfully, our dear friends, Jill and Pete, were ready to take Jack for the night. They have two sweet kiddos who Jack got to play with while we went to the hospital.

When we arrived, we checked in and since the doctor called it in, they actually gave us a room (last time I went in on my own and went to triage where they discovered that I was almost 8cm dilated with Jack already!). This time they hooked me up to the monitor first instead of checking my cervix. I got to actually see the contractions on the monitor which I didn’t with Jack. They were about 5-7 minutes a part when we arrived and when the nurse eventually did check me I was still at 4cm dilated. Things were not moving nearly as fast this time, but I also went in a lot earlier than I did with Jack with respect to my contractions and so forth. The nurse had me walk around for an hour and then she checked me again. I was still 4cm, so she began to think I might get sent home. I was super bummed because I didn’t want to go through it all again and I definitely did not want to go to work the next day after such an exhausting day!

 

Since my contractions were still fairly regular she had me walk again and said they’d check me in another hour. We walked another 45 minutes or so and had a snack and then when she checked I was “close to a 5” but hadn’t progressed that much more. That being said, she wanted the doctor to examine me before they sent me home, so she had me walk one more time for another hour while she called the doctor to come check me. During that walk I felt the contractions pick up substantially and had my first ones that were actually pretty uncomfortable. It felt like a ghost town in the hospital. We were the only ones wandering the halls except for a lone janitor or nurse here or there.

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Hooked up to the monitor…clearly not my greatest look. LOL

When we came back, we had to wait another hour before the doctor actually arrived, but during that time my contractions on the monitor were getting closer together and more intense. I told Ben I didn’t think there was any way we could go home. My contractions were anywhere from 3-5 minutes a part and getting stronger. When the doctor arrived, I was 6cm–yay! He suggested getting the epidural at that point if I wanted one.

I hadn’t decided about whether or not I wanted one, but my delivery with Jack was so incredibly painful that I don’t even have many memories of it. I really can only remember the aftermath of Jack’s delivery…so I decided to opt for the epidural this time. Even though part of me felt like that was a sign of weakness, I’m so glad I did it. I actually remember my labor, I remember Joshua entering the world with each push. I was calm and in control and best of all I didn’t feel like I was dying! lol.

Joshua was born on March 1st and 1:01am…more details to come about the actual labor and aftermath in the next post!