Monday, August 18, 2014

The Thing I Said I Would Never Do: Co-sleeping

I've mentioned before on here how I was trying to avoid co-sleeping---sharing a bed with the baby. I know that humans have done it for centuries and that many cultures around the world still do. My parents and my in-laws did it too. I even read about how to do it safely. But it really did not sound like it was for me. I am very particular about my sleep because I struggled with insomnia in the past. Plus, it just seemed so weird. I wanted to share my bed with my husband, not our child. I brought it up to Michael and he said he will do whatever makes me happy. So agreed Jack would sleep in his own bed every night.

Clockwise: On the monitor in his crib, on the monitor in
the bassinet, in his pack n play, and in his swing.
We bought Jack a lovely crib and fixed up the bassinet Michael used as baby. We also bought a Pack n Play for when we visit family and friends. And we got a swing second-hand from a friend. Jack had plenty of places to sleep, no need to even give co-sleeping a second thought. When Jack was born, he was pretty willing to sleep anywhere.

At the hospital, he was so tired it was like talking to a zombie.
We started putting him in his crib at first, but getting up 10 times a night got old fast. What we didn't consider is that babies wake-up every 2-3 hours to nurse at night. And sometimes, even every 45 minutes. And we didn't realize how exhausted we would be from the whole birth experience. Do you know how much it sucks to get up every hour when you are still sore from pushing a baby out? Do you know your husband will be a zombie from not being able to sleep much at the hospital? That went on for about a week before we decided to try something else.

Then we tired putting him in the crib for the first part of the night when he slept the longest, then after I nursed him sitting up in put bed and I put him in the bassinet next to me. So when he woke up again, all I had to do was reach over and pick him. It was so much easier, but we still weren't getting enough good sleep some nights.

One day three weeks postpartum, I was woke up very very sore. It hurt to sit up to nurse him. My mom mentioned to me that she loved nursing laying down because she could rest. So I laid him next to me on the couch and nursed him. He fell right asleep and stayed asleep next to me while I watched TV for 3 hours. It was great!
"I look like I'm sound asleep, but put me down and I will SCREAM!"
The next Monday Michael had to go back to work, meaning it was Jack and I alone for the first time. I was still tired and sore, so of course Jack decided he only wanted to sleep in my arms. I thought maybe I could just lay down with him in the twin bed in the nursery for a bit? So we tried and both went asleep easily. Two hours later we woke up very happy.


Right before he woke up from our first long nap together, so cute.
I talked to my mom about it and said explained again that it really was the only way she got any sleep in the beginning. But I was so worried about SIDS or him suffocating. She said that yes, tragic accidents do happen but she did it with me---and I am still alive. The next day I decided to try again with his afternoon nap, but this time in our queen-sized bed.The next thing I knew Michael was walking in the door and we had been asleep for 4 hours! Jack had even latch himself on my breast in his sleep. I remember pulling him in closer instinctively, then going back to sleep.

So I thought about it some more and realized maybe I had demonized co-sleeping for no reason. The concerns I had before mostly vanished. Once I got over the initial worry,  I actually slept great. And I didn't need to get up every hour because Jack was right there. He would either fuss and I pulled him to my breast, or he would just latch himself on. Then he went right back to sleep. And he could stay latched as long as he needed and I could go back to sleep. And I naturally adjusted to having him in the bed and didn't mind sleeping on my side.

I talked to Michael about it and he said he was willing to try whatever we needed to get some more sleep. But he was concerned about somethings. So we did more research and we came to an agreement. We would not co-sleep the first part of the night because we did want Jack to learn how to sleep on his own. And we agreed we would not co-sleep every night. And we would follow the rules every time he did sleep with us.

We didn't  try sleeping together as a family until a week later. Jack got his 2 months shots and just conked out after. Michael and I were tired too, so we decided to try a family nap. We took all the heavy blankets off the bed. Michael and I only had a light sheet tucked-in around our waists. I laid down with Jack, then Michael got in. Soon we were all fast asleep. Three hour later we all woke up very happy.

They were so cute, I just had to take a picture.
Co-sleeping on occasion is a great choice for our family. Now we only put Jack in bed with us if he's fussy and it's still too early to get up for the day, like around 5 or 6 AM. And he and I take naps together a few times a week too. Not only is it so much easier, but it's so beautiful. When I open my eyes to see my boys laying in the same position with the same happy looks on their faces, my heart melts. And Michael loves coming home to see us snuggled up together. Looking back at my own childhood, I think about those Sunday morning where my brother and I jumped into bed with my parents for snuggles and I can't believe I ever denied co-sleeping.

All that being said, before you dive into co-sleeping, please do some research and make sure it is right for your family. Sharing your bed with your baby isn't for everyone, so please discuss it thoroughly with your partner and take all factors into consideration first. The information I got from my local La Leche League was the most helpful. Please scour the internet, there is tons of info.

Resources on co-sleeping:
Sleep-Sharing: The Family Bed, Baby Center
Pros & Cons of Co-Sleeping, What To Expect
Sharing Sleep With Babies: The Benefits of Nighttime Slumbers, La Leche League
SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths, American Academy of Pediatrics
Co-Sleeping and Bed-Sharing, Kellymom
Safe Co-Sleeping Habits, Ask Dr. Sears


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Oversupply and Undersupply

I was one of those lucky women whose milk came in quickly ( 3 days after birth). And I made the correct amount right from the start. The first two weeks I was just engorged enough to meet Jack's demands during those first few growth spurts but not be leaking all the time. Then I somehow got it in my head I needed to accumulate a massive freezer stash as soon as possible. So I started to pump whenever I could. I also took fenugreek everyday for 2 weeks to boost my supply. By the time Jack was a month old I had over 100 ounces frozen. I was so proud, my baby could eat for several days!

His first milk coma. I should have know if
he was happy, I was making enough milk.
Around this time I got my first clogged duct---and man did it hurt. A few days later I got another. Then another. I also noticed Jack's diapers where green and frothy. He also started to cough/choke and pull off my breast when my letdown started. I asked my lactation consultant, she said I likely had a strong letdown caused by an oversupply. I told her I was pumping a lot and she said that was really unnecessary. Unless I planned on being away from him often, I didn't need more than a few bottles worth stashed.

My freezer stash again. I am considering
donating some of it now.
I looked up on La Leche's website how to correct an oversupply. I stopped taking the fenugreek and right away I stopped getting insanely engorged. Then I didn't need to pump during the day at all. I only pumped for relief if Jack slept through the night. And when he woke up to nurse at night, I pumped the other side after to keep it from leaking and waking me up. It was painful at first and I got two more clogged duct during the process. Jack's also stopped choking and his diapers went back to normal. I felt silly for thinking I needed to make so much extra milk everyday. It only caused Jack and I problems.

Then my milk stabilized around 12 weeks postpartum. Many moms mistake this for their milk drying up. Your body figured out how much milk to make for your baby, so you no longer get engorged and will leak a lot less. I knew this was coming and welcomed the relief. I only woke up 1 or 2 times a week to pump at night.
I had just nursed him and he was still giving me the milk face.
About this time I also went back on birth control. I know that exclusively breast feeding can be a very effect form of birth control when done correctly, but I didn't want to take that chance. Jack is the best surprise of my life, but I am so not ready for any more. I selected Mirena, which the doctor told me repeatedly has little to no chance of interfering with my milk supply. At first there were no issues, so I didn't think twice about it. Then Jack hit the 4 month sleep regression. He woke every hour to two hours at night, demanding milk. I had plenty so it was not an issue at the start. He was nurse for 5 minutes then would easily go back to sleep. About a week into the sleep regression is when my Mirena took full affect and I noticed right away Jack was nursing for 20 minutes or more. And he getting frustrated. Sometime he even demanded the other side as well. This also started to happen during the day. One day I pumped to make a bottle so I could go out for a bit and hardly anything came out. I mean I spent 30 minutes barely getting 1 ounces from both sides. No wonder Jack was getting frustrated! I know pumping is not a good indication of total output because your baby is better at removing milk, but I always responded well to pumping. Something was wrong. 

I realized that it had to be the Mirena, since nothing else changed. I talked to my lactation consultant again. She brought up the whole "most mom mistake stabilization for a loss of supply" thing, despite me telling her I knew the difference. So she weighed him before and after a feeding session right there at the office to show me he was getting enough. Jack nursed for 20 minutes and barely got 1.5 ounces. She said that he will need to nurse more often if that is all he getting. And eventually I might need to supplement with formula if it interferes with his weight gain. She really did not want that to happen though, she urged me to just keep at it. 

I asked my local La Leche League for help. A couple moms also experienced a dip in supply when returning to birth control. One mom said that it's because it signals your body to start having menstrual cycle hormones again. Those interfere with the hormones for milk production. She suggested I take the Mirena out if it becomes a major issue. I didn't want to take it out, but I also did not want my milk to dry up. I want to nurse Jack until at least two-years-old, and no stupid little medical device was going to prevent me from reaching my goal.


I was going back to work in 2 weeks and did not want to use up my freezer stash. I knew that if I turned to the stash I would be demanding less of my breasts, causing them to make even less. This would only make the problem worse. So I pulled out all the stops. The lactation consultant told me to go back on fenugreek. I could up to 4 pills 3 times a day if I needed. I ordered a two-pack of the big bottles off of Amazon Mom. I also made lactation cookies (check out my food blog for the recipe) and devoured of them all. I also ate oatmeal with a big scoop of brewer's yeast (also got off of Amazon Mom) for breakfast every morning. I drank Mother's Milk Tea and a ton of water daily too. I also let Jack nurse all he wanted. I even let him stay latch for 5-10 minutes once he fell asleep for a nap to increase the demand on my body. I also pumped every chance I got.

It took 12 days of being vigilant, but it worked! One night I got up to pump at 3 AM and got my normal 3-4 ounces. Jack stopped fussing at my breast during the day and fell asleep easily again at night (though he still woke up often because of the sleep regression). I cut back on the marathon nursing sessions and only make lactation cookies when I want a treat. I am still taking the fenugreek to keep my supply from dipping again. I scaled back though, only 2 pills 2 times a day.

It came just in time too, the next day I started back at work. The milk I pumped that night became his bottles for my first evening back. It's been 4 weeks now and my supply is back to normal. I stabilized again and don't get engorged often at all. I never had to touch my freezer stash (I am actually considering donating my stash now) and I didn't need to supplement with formula either. Stubbornness paid off big time!

How cute is the romper I got in Napa?
I shared this story because I couldn't find another one like it. I am not judging anyone who chooses to give formula or needs to supplement at all. Always do what's best for you and your baby. But I hear from friends and other moms who didn't get the support and information they needed to push through breastfeeding hurdles. Breastfeeding is not always easy and does not always come naturally. It's work and takes a commitment. It is possible to succeed, don't discouraged! If your baby is gaining weight and making enough dirt/wet diapers, don't worry about needing to supplement. Your body is amazing and can fix the issue if you let it. I have fixed an oversupply and undersupply in the span of 4 months now. Get help and seek out support like I did. 

Here are resources I used:
How Does Milk Production Work, KellyMom
Fenugreek Seeds For Increasing Milk Supply, KellyMom
Oversupply, La Leche League
Engorgement, La Leche League
Brestfeeding and Fertility, KellyMom
Increasing Low Milk Supply, KellyMom
Is Baby Getting Enough Milk?, Kellymom



Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Pumping at Work


In my last post I mentioned that I went back to work two weeks ago. Michael feeds Jack bottles while I am gone, so I have to pump at work. Before I returned to work, I did pump a little. Mostly because Jack was sleeping through the night (stupid sleep regression) and I pumped for relief. I never set an alarm to pump, usually Jack woke around 4 AM, ate from one side and I got up to pump the other. I froze that milk so I had a stash for when my parent watch him next month when we go on a trip for anniversary. Side note: I love the Up& Up and Lansinoh freezer bags. But make sure you seal the Lansinoh really tight or they can leak when you thaw them. The Up& Up are cheaper and have never leaked for me though.

The first bag I ever pumped, I was so proud. 
The first time you pump is really weird. It might hurt if your nipples haven't toughen up yet (or were horribly bruised from nursing like mine). To ease the pain, I put a little bit olive oil on my nipples and the flanges first. And once I finished, I put on lots of lanolin. It hurt way less than nursing did at first though. But like I said, it's weird. You really will feel like a cow. But just remember you are doing something amazing for your little one.

source
Anyways, I first bought an Evenflo Deluxe Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump. I knew nothing about pumps so I just went by price. For the price the machine is not bad and did get the job done. It comes with a tote bag,  a separate mini cooler with ice packs, 2 bottles and 2 different flanges sizes. I also like that it's not that loud. But, it's not that powerful. I have a really strong letdown, then afterwards it goes to a weak stream. Without a strong suction to boost the stream up, it just takes forever to drain my boobs. To be honest, I think I wasted my money on it. If you are just going to pump on occasion or don't need that much suction, it is worth the money. However, for me personally, it just didn't cut it.
Stimulation mode is awesome and the
suction is good for such a small device.
After awhile it became such a pain to set-up and use an electric pump at night when I was only doing one side. So I thought I'd try a hand pump. I got a Medela Harmony and it worked fantastic! It's easy to clean and use when I am half asleep at 4 in the morning. I love that it has two pumping modes, stimulation and normal. The stimulation mode starts my letdown way more efficiently than the Evenflo one did. And because I controlled the pumping speed, I could change the suction instantly to my needs. I got way more out with just this simple little pump than I did before. They are fairly inexpensive and totally worth the money. And great to keep with you when are travelling or if you start leaking while away from your baby.

I LOVE this pump. And yeah, I am using the treadmill
 as table for my stuff. Joys of pumping in public.
Then when I turned to work I got the Medela Double Electric for free (your insurance company and WIC will provide you with a pump for free). I LOVE IT! It has great suction power, stimulation mode, and several speeding settings to keep my stream going as needed. It comes in its own portable bag too. You never need to take it out, there is a zipper opening on the side to access the controls.


There is a pocket inside to store all the parts. And a cooler with ice packs to store the expressed milk for up to 10 hours. I should have just waited for this pump. It's more expensive (if you don't get it for free) but SO worth the money.

As far as pumping at work, first you need to know your rights. All employers MUST give you a break to express milk, a reasonable amount of time to do it in, and a place that is not a restroom to do. This is all under Federal law. Check out the Department of Labor website here for more information. My husband was nice and talked to our HR guy for me while I was on maternity leave. He suggested that the gym was the best place for me to pump. Not many people actually use the gym so it don't have to worry about people barging in. Plus the door locks and there is a shade on the window next to the door for privacy. A couple people have asked why I keep going into the gym, so I just politely explained and they understood. I also talked with my boss before I went on leave and before I got back. He approved my pumping schedule. It was pretty easy overall, but I really suggest working this stuff out beforehand and making sure everyone who might be affected is on board. That way there are no issues to stress you out (stress hurts your supply) when you get back to work.

I pump every two hours for 20 minutes. Once at 5 PM and again at 7 PM. I chose these times because this is normally when Jack eats each day. I suggest (if possible) having a pumping schedule similar to your feeding schedule so it does not effect your supply.


I suggest either buying or making your own hand-free pumping bra. It really sucks to be sitting there holding  your boobs for 20 minutes. I made one out of an old sports bra by cutting slits wide enough for the flanges to go through.  And bring something with you to do while you pump, it can get boring. I either play on my phone or take some paper work with me.

Since breast milk can be left at room temperature for up to 8 hours, I don't fully wash the pumping parts after each session. I rinse off them in the breakroom (once again, no one cares, just do it calmly and quietly). Then I put them back in the bag with and use them again for the second session. After the second session I just stick back in the bag and give them a thorough cleaning when I get home.

I first started pumping into the storage bottles that came with the pump. But it got annoying washing 2 or 3 extra bottles at night. I realized that the bottles Jack drinks from fit onto the pump so I started pumping straight into them. I bring an extra storage bottle just in case I make extra.

source
Jack likes the Evenflo Classic Glass 4 Ounce Bottles. I got great advice from a friend when I was pregnant on what bottles to start with---pick ones that look most like your nipples. After some trips to the store and awkwardly trying to decide what looks the closest, I settled on these.  However, you may have better luck with bottles designed for breast feeding babies, like these suggestions from Baby Center. Also, don't wait to introduce a bottle until you go back to work. They might get too used to the breast and not take it. However, don't introduce it too until they have latched correctly and repeatedly, or else they may get too used the bottle and reject your breast. We introduced a bottle slowly starting at 3 weeks. He would get maybe one a week. Then a few weeks before I went back to work he started to get several more a week to help ease the transition.

It takes a little guessing on how much to leave. The lactation consultant told me an ounce for every hour I'm gone. I last nurse him 6 hours before I get home, so 6 ounces. So the first day I left two 3-ounce bottles. Jack plowed right through those, obviously this kids needs more than 1 ounce an hour. So the next day I left two 4-ounce bottles, plus a little spare. He plowed through the first, and then happily suck the other down slowly later. I found the winning combination. And sometimes he doesn't need all of the last one either, I think he knows I'm coming soon and waits for me. To make this all easier on Michael, I line them up in order of use in the fridge.

All lined up and ready to go in the fridge.
Then there is the storage issue. Some moms rotate their freezer stash. They pumped milk while on maternity leave and thaw out as needed each day, using the oldest bags first. Then replenish the stash with what they pumped that day. Others don't have a stash and just use what they pumped the day before. This is what I do, even though I do have a stash. What I pump on Monday gets bottle up and fed on Tuesday. Tuesday gets fed on Wednesday, & etc.. And since breast milk lasts up to 6 days in the fridge, Friday's get fed on Monday.
My freezer stash of about 350 ounces.

Before I went back to work I read some other blogs about pumping and it really helped. Happy Home Fairy's Extreme Pumping- Confessions of an Exclusive Pumper is SUPER helpful. Although I'm not a teacher, I really like Healthful Mama's Back-to-School Breastfeeding: Pumping in Your Classroom.

So far I have been able to comfortably pump at work and make enough milk each night without having to touch my freezer stash. However, check out my next post about the supply issue I had a few weeks ago that also had me reaching for my stash.













Thursday, July 31, 2014

Back to Work After Maternity Leave


I returned to work after 17 weeks of maternity leave. The State of California allows up to 4 weeks off before your due date, plus 12 weeks off for bonding time. The extra week off came from vacation time. I have the same job, but I am working second shift for only part-time hours right now. As Jack gets bigger I might slowly add more hours back to full time, but no rush from my boss as long as stuff gets done.

Michael and I worked it out so we avoid paying for childcare. He works first shift while I stay home with Jack. Then I put Jack in the car, bring him to our work and we trade cars. Then he drives home with Jack and I go to work. Then I get off just in time to get Jack ready for bed. I like this solution for two reasons: we avoid the $1000 a month bill for childcare and we both get time to bond with our son. And so far Jack doesn't seem to mind. He usually falls asleep in the car with me and wakes up when Michael gets home. 
How could I leave this face?
But the first day back was hard. The night before I bawled my eyes out over it. Jack had been my whole world for three and half months, how could I leave him? That day I brought Jack in the building with me because he was awake when I got there. Michael was ready to go so he quickly took Jack from me and kissed me goodbye. I just stood there thinking No! Bring me my baby back!  I went to my desk and started to work, but I kept worrying about my baby. What if he wont take the bottles? What if he wont nap? What if Michael doesn't do tummy time? What if he just cries the whole time? What if he forgets me in these next 5 hours and never wants me to hold him again!?!?

When it was time to clock out, I rushed home. My boys were standing at the door to greet me, and Jack lit up when he saw me. Everything was alright. Michael is an excellent dad and takes great care of him. I had nothing to worry about. That being said, I am a mom and I will worry about them both every day still.

Michael sent me this on my first day.
 He was just fine, and even started to grasp his bottle!
But am I exhausted? Yes (especially with the sleep regression still going on). Are there some days I feel like Jack and I are never going to get out the door on time? Yup. Does it suck I get even less time with my husband now? Totally. As much as I wish I could be a stay-at-home-mom all the time, it's not feasible right now. And everyone at work is so accommodating for what our family needs that there is no reason for me to quit.
I get to come home to this face every evening!
Being back at work also means I'm pumping at work too. I will do a post about how that'd going next, so look out for that.






Friday, July 25, 2014

Dealing With Sleep Regression

It happened so suddenly and quickly snowballed. From about 3 weeks-old, Jack had slept through the night. Maybe twice a week waking at 4 AM to nurse, but usually sleeping right till 7 or 8 AM. And he would take three 2-3 hour naps each day too. I did very very light "sleep training", if you ever want to call it that, but he was just naturally a good sleeper. It was a dream come true! Then one night it all vanished.

It all started three weeks ago. The first few days he just woke up one extra time a night to nurse. Then in a few days it went to twice. Then before I knew it he was waking up every two hours. Then nap time went out the window, only 30 minutes at a time. Then he became insanely fussy at bedtime and it would take over an hour to get him asleep. Needles to say I am exhausted and frustrated. Did I mention that I started back at work this week too? Such fun. 

This is the last good night of sleep we got three weeks ago.
He woke up at 7 AM and we put him in bed with us until 9:30!
Jack is in what is known as the four month sleep regression. It can happen anytime around 3-5 months though. I knew it could happen and I did some research on it. But let me tell you, I didn't think it would get this bad. He didn't even act like when he was a newborn! It sucks, really really sucks. However, because I did my research I know it should not last forever. 

Now he only wants to sleep in my arms during the day.
 don't mind short term, but it would be nice to clean my house...
So what is the evil sleep regression? Essentially Jack is learning how to sleep like an adult. Before this he slept like he did in the womb, one basic sleep cycle. He didn't need to recharge any of his major systems because he wasn't really using them. Now that he is bigger and doing bigger things, he needs to have deep REM and non-REM cycles like adults. But unlike adults, he has not learned how to sleep through these cycles yet so he wakes every 45-90 minutes. Also during this time Jack is undergoing a major growth spurt and a mental leap. That's a lot of stuff for a little guy to go through, no wonder he's having a hard time sleeping and wants more milk! However, once it's over, he should return to normal. I can't wait for that day. 

But for your amusement and because I was bored when afternoon while he slept in my arms...

 Four Stages of Grief For Sleep Regression:

Stage 1.) You deny it's happening. He's just having a bad night...for the past 2 weeks. He'll be fine tomorrow night. He will take a good nap this afternoon too.This isn't sleep regression, it's just a growth spurt!

Stage 2.) You get angry and blame everyone. Your husband has the TV too loud so you ban him from it. The neighbor's dog won't stop barking so you yell out the window for it to shut up. The house is too hot so you call the AC repairman demanding he come out today. The room is too bright, the sun must be imploded! You think you are a bad mother and just cry. 

Stage 3.) You plead with your LO. You will give him anything or do anything if he just goes to sleep. You want to co-sleep, will that make you happy? How about a new sleep sack, we can get one with owls on it! More milk before bed? You want a puppy? A Porche on your 16th birthday? You want me to stand on my head? Daddy will sing all night long for you, please just sleep! 

Stage 4.) After some research, talks with your mom, consulting the online forums and calls to you doctor, you finally accept it. Your sweet little angel is in the middle his first sleep regression. You hope it will be over soon and you just pray you keep your sanity till then.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Why I Am Happy I Didn't Give Up Breastfeeding


Eleven weeks ago, I couldn't imagine that I would ever say this phrase: I love breastfeeding. I really do! But it was not an easy road to get here. It hurt so bad for the first three week. Jack latch wrong and severely cracked/bruised my nipples. I was beyond exhausted and was so overwhelmed that Jack asked to nurse every hour. I also didn't understand why Jack wanted to nurse so often so I was afraid I had a supply issues. All this made me consider giving up. But I educated myself and realized I was doing everything right. Check out my previous post on this for the full story.

But I am so glad that I pushed through and did not give up. This is seriously one of the best experiences of my life. Look at this picture and tell me it is not beautiful?

Just nursing Jack on the shores of Lake Tahoe, no big deal at all.
The first reason I am glad I did not give up is the most obvious: I know I am doing the best thing for my son. Did you know that the milk I am making now is designed just for Jack (La Leche League meeting)? I think that is really cool! It is literally the best possible thing I can feed him right now. It is giving him the correct nutrition he needs and the composition of it will change to meet his needs as he gets older. He also gets all my antibodies to help his immune system and nervous system develop. And not to mention he gets my love and affection. The look he gives me when he latches on is the definition of unconditional love.

The milk face. He gets so happy
when he realizes he's getting fed.
Second reason, it empowered me as a women. Not only did my body make a baby, it is feeding that baby. That is freaking amazing! I am doing something that no man can ever do, a unique privilege reserved for women. It's creating a bond with my son that only I, as his mother, can provide. I feel like I understand the female body now, and it's beautiful. I accept all the flaws of my body because I know what it is capable of doing. And  the willpower of a women is the strongest thing in the world. It took such great mental strength to overcome all the initial challenges of breastfeeding. I admit that most men have more brute strength, but I argue that women have a greater overall strength now.

Still look pretty good in my bikini,
not as great as before but I embrace it.
Third, it has made me fearless. At first I hid when I nursed my son. I would always be covered, go to another room, or just bring a bottle of expressed milk. That got old pretty quick. Nursing covers are difficult to put on while holding a hungry baby. And Jack likes to wiggle when he nurses so they don't always stay on well. And it embarrassing walking around looking for a private place to nurse with your baby screaming their head off. It actually draws more attention and stresses you out more. So one day I decided I was over it. I am not doing anything vulgar so I had no reason to hide. So I started nursing openly in public. No one can tell me stop or cover-up. I am polite and don't flash my boobs around by any means. I just find a nice place to sit, calm start nursing him, and sit there quietly. I've gotten a few dirty looks but it's their problem, not mine. I am totally within my rights and not breaking any laws. I am fearless mother.

It took 5 minute to get him situated
 under the cover. Not worth it.
And so far I received overwhelmingly positive response. A man and his toddler walking by one today told me to not worry about covering up because his wife went through the same thing. An old lady told me I was giving my son the best gift possible. Even at a loved one's memorial service when I stepped outside to nurse him, someone gave me a shout out of encouragement.

I also need to give a big thank you to La Leche League.I started attending meetings last month and it inspired me to keep nursing. It was refreshing to hear that the other moms have gone/ are going through the same problems. And it's so empowering to see women nursing for over a year. With the knowledge I've gained from the meetings, I am now determined to nurse him for a year minimum. Then I will decide between pumping or continue to nurse for another year. It will just depend on what's going on in my life then, but either way Jack will get two years of my milk.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Life Without A Travel System


While I was pregnant, I did a post about Why I Don't Want A Big Stroller. In a nutshell, I think they are annoying, rude to take out in crowded places, and I wanted to hold my baby. So how did it work out now that I have my baby? Did I call my mom crying over how stupid I was for not getting a travel system?

No, we still do not have one big travel system. And have no plans on getting one. We did receive a jogging stroller from Michael's friends as a shower gift. We do use it, but it is not our main choice to take Jack out in public. I still think it's rude to the big stroller out in most public places. They get in the way and take up so much room. We use it mainly for walks around the neighborhood and to non-crowded parks. It reclines pretty far back so he went in it for the first time at two weeks old. But he doesn't like it that much. He will stay in it for about an hour then screams to held.

Shortly after I took this he woke up screaming, he's not a big fan.
We also have a detachable car seat carrier we received secondhand. We put it in Michael's car (the car we use the least) so both cars have a seat just in case. We do carry him around in it sometimes. But I want to add he doesn't stay in there that long. It's not like we are staying out to midnight. We go out for a couple hours and are back before his bedtime. It does not connect into our stroller, so it's not convenient to carry him around in it. But it's nice because he will sleep in it and we can give him a bottle easily if he's hungry. It honestly saves my sanity at the grocery store. My hands are free and the movement of the cart usually lulls him to sleep.

He wasn't too sure about that basil...
I need to stress it is not recommend to use a secondhand car seat, a new one is always preferred. However, if you are going with a used one, there are a few rules. First of all, make sure it is not passed it's expiration date (ours has a year left so after Jack out grows it we will throw it away). Make sure you know the person giving it to you (ours came from a nice family who our friend nannies for). Only accept it if you know for sure it has not been in an accident (ours has not). And lastly sanitize the fabric but do not wash it. Car seat fabric had a fire retardant on it that can be washed off.

The main form of transportation for Jack is babywearing. He loves being worn! It is a sure fire way to calm him and get him to sleep when he is fussy. We still have the Infantino Swift Carrier I mentioned in my other post. Michael uses that one on occasion. I used when he was first born. It's nice but, I wanted something more snuggly so I ordered a Boba Wrap. I fell in love with babywearing the first time I put Jack in it. He's all snuggled and secure, but my hands are free!

Sleeping while we went out to lunch
But the Boba gets hot, so after some research and a meeting with the local BabyWearing International group, I also ordered a woven wrap. Jack loves this wrap too. We stay cooler because it's made of cotton. I use this wrap almost everyday for walks now. I think Jack likes this one a bit more because he can sit a bit more upright and look around more. Though he sleep in either one like a champ. Both were great investments, absolutely worth the money.

Checking out the neighborhood on our walk.
So how is life without a big travel system? Great! I am not that rude mother knocking people over with her oversize stroller in a crowd. Nor am that friend who shows up for a late dinner and plops the car seat on the table. Nor am I the parent who never holds their child and leaves them in the car seat all day. I will confess one thing though---it would be easier to have a travel system for when Jack falls asleep in the car and I don't want to wake him when I pick him up to put in the wrap. But overall, it's not that big if a deal since he loves sleeping in his wrap.