My Abnormal Breastfeeding Journey, Episode 2: The Issues Multiply

Welcome back to the continuing story of My Abnormal Breastfeeding Journey! Last time I shared about how trained professionals all informed me that I would be unsuccessful in nursing my newborn unless I used the nipple shield all throughout my nursing experience. There were no tips offered from any of them either, I might add, that could have made all the difference.

I completely believe that, had I had the proper information from the beginning, I could have weaned her successfully off of the shield and began nursing in the way God designed. Here are some of the breastfeeding tips out there that I learned all but too late in the game for me:

  1. Prior to nursing use a breastpump for a few minutes
  2. Prior to nursing let the baby suck on your finger a few minutes
  3. Prior to nursing roll nipple back and forth between fingers
  4. Attempt nursing without shield during the early signs of hunger (prior to crying) or be prepared to reintroduce the shield if baby gets too upset
  5. Give your baby ample time to root around and find you for themselves

There are, of course, pros and cons to using the nipple shield. The main pro (for me) being, there was nursing happening. The main con for me, that there is little to no natural stimulation of the nipples and the shield is basically acting as a breast pump at this point. I ended up trying self stimulation for a period of time – With varying levels of success for me. 

Stimulated nipples are supposed to get your milk following faster, stronger, etc. And in a normal nursing experience, a suckling babe provides all the stimulation you need.

And though I was happy for being able to do some form of nursing, it was not a walk in the park. As time went on, there were more and more difficulties that introduced themselves into our routine:

  1. We were using the nipple shield, period. Not the most stressless of tasks in of itself. There were multiple times in the middle of nursing with tears, and flailing, causing me to have to reinstate the shield I was trying to get rid of. I’m sure all mothers using the shield have shared my envy of mothers who were blessed to not need it.
  2. Baby had pretty poor suction. So, after nursing as best as she could, she was still hungry and not strong enough to pull out what she needed to fill her belly. I ended up having to introduce a bottle long before I wanted and even a little formula to catch up with my pumping.(she was only a week and a half old)
  3. I was only able to produce the necessary amount for her intake for a very short period of time… around a month. In spite of all my efforts to increase my supply, I was never able to catch up with her needed intake amount. (Before you assume what I was or wasn’t doing wrong, stay tuned for more on this part of the story.) I literally was forced to regularly supplement with formula.
  4. I had to calm down a hungry baby prior to her even accepting the bottle (every time).
  5. I had to spend time pumping after time spent nursing and also bottle feeding. (I also often had to comfort her again after the bottle, even when she’s had her fill, had burped, etc., before pumping could take place)

The whole routine of nursing, bottle feeding and pumping were all much more demanding than anyone might realize. You see, as I nursed I was more or less chained to my seat because of the nipple shield (It often fell off during nursing for various reasons, and was a hassle to reattach,)  preventing me from being able to preprep her bottle one handed (which would finish her meal) let alone stand up for anything. She would nurse until she was upset / frustrated for not being able to get anything more from me. At this point it was nearly impossible to calm her, and I had to somehow prep the bottle while trying to soothe the poor soul. 

Once her bottle was ready, I would do my best to finish calming her down as much as possible again for her bottle to be accepted, then all was well again for a short time. After her meal, I would then try to focus on pumping.

It took anywhere from 5-10 minutes to get my pumping gear in order (depending on how skilled I  was at assembly and if everything was clean and ready to go or not.) Sometimes, baby was asleep while I prepped, sometimes she cried, and other days she was just laying quietly. But, she never failed to have some desperate need for me 3-5 minutes into pumping. I would pump as long as I dare let her cry, pause my efforts, and come back again as soon as possible. There were definitely days that I pumped off and on every hour just trying to meet the recommended pumping time.

This meant that many of my days were spent with some degree of a constant flow of nursing, bottle feeding, and pumping, combined with time spent calming baby, changing baby, helping relieve baby gas (a story for another day!), bathroom breaks, etc., etc., etc. It was a vicious circle of events that never really seemed to end. 

Many might say that I could have and should have let her cry while I got my pumping sessions in, but I didn’t feel justified in doing this. Every time she cried, it was because of a genuine need. She didn’t like being in wet/dirty diapers and remained this way for 8-9 months of her life. In fact, for the longest time, she even knew when it was about to happen and give warning cries as well as cries at the time of the deed. But all was well when she had a dry diaper on.

And since her cries were all a result of an actual need, be it diapers, hunger, gas, or otherwise, I wanted her to know that she could depend on me to do my best to ‘fix’ the issue. I even read multiple articles saying that responding to babies cries and needs as soon as possible would build trust in their eyes. And I wanted her to trust me. Pure and simple.

As stated above, I was only able to produce enough breast milk to fill her little belly for a very short time. Which meant we had to look at other alternatives. 

Well, what about the breast pumping? And that formula feeding (what a completely blasphemous thought!)!?! Was it really necessary for me to stoop so low and deny or baby the healthy benefits of breast milk?! 

To Be Continued…………..

Please check back with me next time for the story finale! Follow me for notification on my next post!

Resources Used while writing this article series:

Nipple Shields


So Thankful for Friends

“So, are we still good for you to babysit tomorrow?” I messaged my sister. I’d asked her to look after our one year old a month earlier and double checked with her again that things were still a go a week prior to this. You can imagine my shock and frustration when her response came in, “Oh, no! We are our of town. I’m so sorry. It was very last-minute and we had to go.” 

While I couldn’t wrap my head around what made it so necessary to go to the closest tour trap city near us, my frustration was still able to subside with each message she sent. I could tell she was genuinely feeling like a heal. I tried to let her know I want upset with her (because by now I wasn’t and thankfully hasn’t joined at it earlier) and immediately sent a text to one of my very best two friends to ask the last minute favor. 

I felt an urgent need to find a replacement as soon as possible, because my Dr. appointment the next morning wouldn’t really allow me to take a toddler, or at least would promise (let’s call it) an “interesting” experience that I wasn’t excited to have. I would be in that office over an hour and didn’t want to corral a teething tot while trying to focus on things there. 

I was so relieved when my friend responded, “Of course! I’d be glad to help you out.” She has two children of her own under 3 with another on the way, but she has always made it known that her doors are always open. And they have been! Any time this has happened to me before (and it has), my friend has always come through for me! She never takes money and always offers to do it again “any time.”

I only regret that sometimes my schedule keeps me from being so wonderful for her! To often one had to say no, but I will always say yes whenever I can! And hopefully, someday I can be as wonderful a reliable friend as she is to me. 

I thanked her over and over again for all her help and even thanked her kids for playing with our daughter. My friend’s oldest gave a very grown up “you’re welcome,” feeling her own important contribution. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so thankful for friends since our journey in parenthood began.

True friends are such a blessing. May we all bless their lives back as much as we possibly can!

Trusting Again

Trust. As a small child I remember it being so easy to trust everyone in everything; my parents, their friends, our family, my friends, their family, leaders, teachers… It was a world where everyone looked or for the interests of others. A carefree world. That’s the beauty of childhood, I suppose. But, with each passing year, my view changed more and more as I slowly realized the hard, sad reality; that part of it humanity means that everyone will let someone down at one time or another. 

Sometimes the hurt from abandonment, deceit, or otherwise can be so great our trust in others is completely broken and we begin to doubt the people we can and should always count on. But nothing is ever so broken that it can’t be mended. 

Healing can take time, but trust can rise again, and with it will rise a new wisdom inside of you. A wisdom that can both protect you from being hurt that way again and even protect you from building walls too high or too strong. 

I’ve had my trust broken by others more than once in my lifetime. And it’s always been by someone I expected to be different, though later I realized why those expectations were unwarranted. You can see the warning signs if you are paying attention. What you choose to do with the broken pieces though is up to you, and will have a great deal to do with who you will become, or what kind of boundaries or prisons you create for yourself. 

Trust me, people, those prisons… Not a healthy place to put yourself. Boundaries are the answer, not the prison walls. I hope you will be and have been unlike past me, and choose to do the healthy things for yourself. 

Until next time, friends, treat yourself right! Blessings!

My 30 Day Challenge for the Facebook Community – Daily Challenges and Exercises

​My 30 Day Challenge for the Facebook Community begins today, and I’m in the process of compiling some daily aids to help you achieve your goals. If you don’t find them helpful, no biggie! Feel free to let me know things that you have found to be helpful to you though, I’d love to hear about them! The whole point is to get yourself thinking and speaking more positively; it doesn’t really matter the tools you use to get there. 

Since this is a brand new challenge to me too (hey, I only thought of creating it yesterday!) I’ll probably have several posts to update and improve the challenge anyway through the years. But we can’t find a better road without first choosing a road to begin traveling. 

Like I said, I’m still in the process of creating the daily challenges. Please check back with me at this post for the remaining daily challenges tomorrow. If you have a suggestion for a daily exercise, please leave me a comment and I’ll take note of it. 

Now, without further ado here is your first challenge:

Day 1 – Try a day of silence and reflection. Without posting on your wall, comments, reply, messages, meditate on what words you think you might be saying for those around you to read. You can still navigate FB as normal, but do not engage in conversation. Think about the words you want to say and if they would be positive posts or if they could most definitely have a negative impact on your readers. Ask yourself how many different ways you could write say your peace, but in positive ways. 

Day 2 – Allow yourself one post today, but make it a good one. It can be on your wall, a comment or reply, a message, or a note. It should be uplifting to you. Continue meditating on the words you would normally respond with and if they hold any negativity. 

Day 3 – Set your own post restrictions, but post only positive things. Don’t allow yourself free reign of Facebook yet.

Day 4 – Today, you are free to fully engage in Facebook. But, remember to continue thinking about your words before posting. 

Day 5 – Post something super positive/uplifting about someone close to you who you know you don’t day enough good things about.

Day 6 – If you see Facebook friends posting something negative, ask how you could help them change their perspective into something positive, select one friend and offer up those words of encouragement. Choose everything wisely with this challenge!

Day 7 – An end of the week day of silence and meditation. Reflect on the past week and how your thought process has changed (or hasn’t); ask yourself what you should work on and set an attainable goal for yourself to work on over the next 7 days.

Day 8 – Homework day! Focus on the goal all you set for yourself.

Day 9 – What goes in must come out.  listen to and watch positive things today (music, movies, videos, etc.) Post about how something like these affect your attitude for the best. If you are up for it, the K-Love radio station has their own 30 day challenge when it comes to turning on the tunes!

Day 10 – Focus on your goal. If you’ve accomplished it already, great job! What is another goal you can set?

Day 11 – Get out and do something new and exciting, out just do something you love and write about about it. What do you like/love about it? How does it encourage your heart/soul, etc., etc.?

Day 12 – Say something kind/loving about someone you know that you’ve spoken negativity about before on social media (perhaps on a regular basis.) Was it your mom, dad, spouse, sibling, etc.? They probably have no clue, right? You know who they are!

Day 13 – Turn a negative feeling about yourself into something positive! We all have that one thing we get down on ourselves about. What is it for you? How could you find anything positive in connection with this for any other person? Example: are you overweight? People love you for you, not for the scale numbers. Such love from those close to you is worthy of a post filled with gratitude for them in your life. 

Day 14 – Day of reflection and personal goals. Reflect again on how things are going, improvements or lack of, new goals you want to reach, post goals you have reached or are still working on.

Day 15 – Homework day; self assessment. 

Day 16 – 

My 30 Day Challenge for the Facebook Community

You know that friend. You’ve been that friend. And so have I. Facebook gets addictive for everyone at least once it seems, and when Facebookers live to post about their lives, sometimes we can let things get a little too personal or out of control. And you know what I’m talking about there too! There is the angry at the world friend, the woe is me friend, the I’m broke, please give money friend, the obliviously and constantly inappropriate friend, and sometimes the friend who is all of the above. There’s even the friend that Ted Mosbey and the group from How I Met Your Mother might define as the Oh, Honey friend, but perhaps we shouldn’t count her, beside we’d be saying ‘oh, honey’ regardless of how much she posted. The list of negative friends seems to be a little endless to me.

These are often the friends that post the things that undoubtedly will bring me down, sadden my heart, and encourage me to do something better with my time. I don’t want or need their negativity. Sometimes the best answer is to delete them as a Facebook friend, but sometimes this isn’t an option. 

The constant flow of posts filled with (often pointless and unjustified) anger, the incredibly poor financial choices that end with comments with hidden requests for a handout, the neverending downright depressing posts from someone who refuses all helpful advice from even their counselors, and the belittling on social media of their husbands, children, parents and friends… It is just to much for me sometimes. 

So, which friend was I when I posted everything? I don’t know, but I’m not sure I want to know either. What I do know is that I’m working harder than ever to be the positive friend. 

Being positive isn’t even that hard. You don’t have to only post words of wisdom, or encouragement, or even scriptures to be a positive friend (though I do like seeing those daily scripture posts, myself). Do you know what is required to be a positive posting friend?? It’s easy: just don’t be negative. By altering your thinking on how you word posts, you can easily go from the red zone into green. 

Instead of posting: I’m so upset with my loud neighbors for keeping me awake, you could instead post: my neighbors have been loud and kept me awake for X # of nights. Does anyone have suggestions for noise blocking during sleep that I can try?

See the difference? You may still be frustrated with those neighbors, but you at least aren’t sharing that negativity with everyone. 

Now, just to be clear, I realize we all need to vent sometimes about the crap we endure – no argument there! But please, choose your battles in negativity just like you should with family arguments. Not everything is necessary to share, just like not everything is worth fighting about. Everyone will be happier. 

And so, I’ve decided to try something different here. Most of us have encountered a 30 day challenge for this or that, but had there ever been a challenge involving your Facebook posts? Well, there is now!

I challenge you, whoever you are, whenever you read this article (even if it’s years after my post date), to do the following for the next 30 days:

1. Think before you write/post. What is it you are wanting to say.

2. Ask yourself “Is that a negative point of view?” 

3. And then ask “How can I be more positive/remove the negativity?”

4. Only post positivity. Nothing negative can be connected with your profile. 

At the end of your 30 days, feel free to come back and find me. I’d love to hear how the challenge affected your life or if it did at all. I hope you discover about yourself that you are already very positive, but if you learn otherwise, I hope the exercise can help you grow to be a more positive thinker. 

Life is so full of crap already. Let’s do what we can to lessen the burden.

This article was inspired by the word of the day prompt, subdued.

Hope Is Like a Candle 

A light in the darkness; a search for joy, truth, or freedom. Hope is like a Candle burning in the night. And hope’s flame will only die the moment we let it. 
Everyone has that single one most devastating event in their life. Mine took place in college. I knew during those hard, dark, cold months that if it wasn’t for my faith, I would have ended my life. I’m not preaching to you, but my faith was really the only reason I am alive today, writing this article, reading your stories, and enjoying the sunshine a only a loving husband and beautiful daughter can bring. 

My candle didn’t burn out. My flame did grow very small, but hope lived on. Hope that tomorrow things would change. Hope that tomorrow the pain would begin to fade. Hope that the sun would begin again to some through the darkest night I’ve ever known. Hope came through, and the sun did shine again!

If you are going through your darkest days right now, please don’t give up. Please hold on to hope for a better tomorrow. I know the pain can sell like more than we can bear, but you don’t have to carry it alone, and the sun is already shining for you, waiting for you to find your way back to it again. And the warmth it will bring your heart is with the pain. The strength you’ll gain is worth the pain. The help and hope you can someday bring someone else is priceless!

You are stronger than you know, you are braver than you realize, and your candle burns brighter than you can see. 

It will take time for healing to come and the pain to subside, but trust one who’s made it through the forest, and the valley, and the river crossing, etc… One day you will wake up and life will be bearable again. It starts when you allow yourself to begin thinking positively again about yourself first – especially if you need to forgive yourself, then life, then the way you can use this experience to help someone else, and last, the person(s) that hurt you. 

Still not preaching, but these verses have seen me through many a dark night, and I pray they can make your own candle burn a little brighter:

Romans8:24-25 (New American Standard Bible)

24For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

Thoughts on Bucket Lists

​I recently read a post by Crave Life entitled 50 simple things. It’s an unconventional bucket list of things to do with your life. Things you forget to think about but probably wouldn’t mind doing during your lifetime. Things that are more within your reach than, say, visiting every country, or shaking the hand of every President and firmer President alive during your lifetime. 

Not everything on ever bucket list is for everybody, but it was an inspiring list for me. It birthed the question of “what things I might want to put on my own list?” For me, one of those things would be to start and complete a New Year resolution! I’ve tried to do them before, but always get so distracted by life, I forget, and before I know it the year is gone and I’ve failed, yet again to complete a resolution. 

A friend of mine one year had the ultimate list (yes list) of New Year resolution goals. It was at least 3 pages long, front and back. It was mainly this long because it had a list of books and movies she was planning to read and watch that year in addition to other personal goals. She’d taken recommendations from family, friends and students on what to put on the book and movie lists. It was a fun year for everyone watching her check items of her list. With over 100 things to achieve, some of us wondered if she would pull it off, and she was one of them. But she did! What an inspiration. 

But I’m getting away from my subject of bucket lists…

Here is a small, but simple list of my own of things that should be doable at some point in my life:

1. Meet a New Year resolution goal. (Hey, you knew this would be one)

2. Make a quilt for each of our children.

3. Come up with an easy and regular meal plan routine.

4. Get creative on tasty ways to get more veggies in our family meals that will actually get eaten.

5. Go on regular/semi regular nature walks.

6. Hang my pictures on the wall still waiting around after our move!

7. Loose 10 pounds.

8. Write more regularly (stories, not blogs)

9. Begin Christmas crafting several months early.

10. Start an herb garden.

Most of these are probably specific to me, but if you would like to start a list of your own, here are a couple of ideas:

  • Start an emergency/savings fund. 60% of Americans can’t afford unplanned expenses. Even though Dr. build can for sure fit in, I’m not talking Cancer; I mean engine trouble, dead appliances that affect you storred foods, job loss, etc. Having a 3-6 month emergency fund in place at all times can eliminate a lot of stress, and mess. But you have to build it over time. Start with whatever you can afford each paycheck. Even if it’s just a few dollars at a time. 
  • Watch a classic movie new to you with your partner or a friend. There are some great ones out there, and if like to believe that there is at least one everyone can enjoy.
  • Try something new each month for a year. See what new hobbies, sports, or foods you fall in love with. 
  • Find a way to give back to your community in ways you’ll be sure to repeat.
  • Sponsor a child, or house a foreign exchange student. Building relationships with these kids can start out as an act of love or charity towards them, but it can end a real blessing to you! 

Well I hope some of this has been an inspiration to you. Check out the link above to the article by Crave Life and see if there are things we don’t have that you want on your own list, and let me know what those are.

Until then, happy trails!