Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The other side of the coin...

It's amazing to me how many times a day/week I find myself catching my breath, feeling that lump rise it my throat, pinching myself, or staring in disbelief... How did I get so lucky to be able to be Madeline's mom?!

~When I check on her before I go to bed; cover her with her blanket, put her bunny back in her arms, watch and listen to her sleeping soundly.

~When I get her up from her nap and she immediately nestles her head onto my shoulder and we sway back and forth in rhythm with her lullaby cd while she rubs my arm... sometimes she needs a little snuggle before she's fully awake.

~When I pucker my lips and make the "muah, muah" noise trying to get the squirrel's attention because I know she'll like to look and squeal at him, but instead she doesn't even notice the squirrel and bends and twists to get in front of my face and plants a big kiss on my lips.

~When she stumbles and falls and immediately looks for me and comes running.

~When she hides behind the door and dramatically plays peek-a-boo with me. The harder I laugh, the harder she whips her head back and forth and the louder she GASPS when she comes out from behind the door as if she really surprised me.

~When she comes to me, raises her arm - gives me her outstretched hand, and then leads me into her room to help her get a new toy out to play with her. (since the 84 other toys that were already out are old and boring now. ;) )

~When I'm cooking or doing dishes and she comes up behind me, buries her face into the back of my legs and wraps her arms around my knees.

~When she wants me to pick her up and she enthusiastically throws her arms into the air and then signs "please" (in sign language) and then throws her arms up again.

~And then when I pick her up like she asked me to: she curls her arms up between her chest and mine and then leans into me. Her head under my chin. Happily kicking her legs or wiggling her hips - making it apparent that she's happy to be where she is... in her Momma's arms.

I love this little Bean more than I thought was possible. And I am so lucky to be her Momma. Can't get enough of her. ♥

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Such a strong personality!

At 14 months old Madeline has a VERY strong personality. This is nothing new; she has known who she was from day one. But now that she's getting older, bigger, stronger, louder, etc. There are a few challenges that we've been dealing with. Things that I know are common and routine for toddler-hood, and while I know the psychology behind why she's doing these things, I don't know how to make her feel validated/secure/understood so that she doesn't make these undesirable traits into habits.

1. Hitting. If she's not happy with someone/something she hits it/them. It started with her just swinging at it/them, but has now turned into full on slapping or today - close-fisted hitting. Not cool, dude.

I try to catch her hand/arm before she makes contact, bring it down to her side and tell her either in her ear or in her face while looking directly into her eyes, "No ma'am. We don't hit when we're mad."

2. Head butting. This usually happens if she's sitting on my lap and reaches (repeatedly) for something I won't let her have. IE: A knife at the dinner table. If I have already told her not to touch something a million times and then restrain her hands - usually by holding her hands in mine - she gets frustrated and will throw her head back into my throat/chin.

Again, all I know to do is to tell her "No ma'am. We don't do that. That hurts." If she continues to do it I set her down on the floor (if we're at home) and tell her that if she's going to act that way she can't sit on my lap.

3. Yelling/screaming. Usually if I'm not letting her do what she wants - playing in/eating the dog food for example - and I keep removing her from where she wants to be she'll walk around yelling, "NO!!" or other baby-words that I can't understand, but her sentiment is quite clear. She's pissed and letting me know about it.

I normally don't do anything in this situation because yelling at her isn't going to get her to stop yelling and I don't feel like I need to do the whole "inside voices" schpeal yet since she doesn't really do this out in public.

don't make her angry - she'll cut you!

I want her to be able to express herself is she's upset, and I want her to feel comfortable doing so, but I don't know how to get her to do that without being hurtful.

I'm sure some of your kids have/do act this way when they're upset. What do you do in similar situations? What words of wisdom can you give me?


Monday, October 10, 2011

Milk Sharing

Many moons ago, after trying to nurse my daughter, dealing with thrush, intense pain, nipple shields, Raynaud's, plugged ducts and a myriad of other issues I finally got to a point where I couldn't continue on. Mentally, emotionally, I couldn't keep trying to nurse my daughter. I stuck it out for 11 weeks though, and for that I'm truly proud of myself.

After having a lot of mixed emotions about the events leading up to, and then the actual, birth of my daughter I was determined to at least make breastfeeding work. There was no other option as far as I was concerned. When I decided to exclusively pump there was a couple of weeks where I struggled to get my supply where it needed to be. You see; your body, the hormones in your body that are produced when you nurse a baby, responds SO MUCH BETTER to a child actually suckling at the breast. The warmth of the baby's body against yours, the smell of their sweet baby breath, the sweet sounds of the inhale, suck, swallow, exhale, repeat while they nurse - it all triggers your body to release hormones and other chemicals to tell your body to produce milk. You don't get quite the same physical reaction from the mechanical whir of an electric breast pump. The flanges are cold and hard. There is no peach fuzz covered head to nuzzle. And pumping - especially exclusively - can feel really lonely. So, while I made the transition from nursing to EPing I had a couple weeks where I FLEW through my tiny freezer "stash" and couldn't keep up with what Madeline would drink in a day.

I went to my most favorite breastfeeding support group looking for support and reassurance that my daughter was thriving on my pumped breastmilk. One of my friends/lactation counselors asked how I was doing, and I broke down. I cried and told her that I was out of frozen milk and that I was terrified that I'd have to give her formula. She told me what I already knew: that formula wasn't the end of the world. But I just didn't want to. I wasn't going to give formula unless I was COMPLETELY giving up on breastfeeding and I wasn't ready to do that yet. I asked about herbs to take to increase my supply, I vowed to make special oatmeal lactation cookies, and drink a TON of water a day. But I was still worried.

Another mother at the breastfeeding circle who I had only previously said "Hi" and "cute baby" to, came up to me and asked why I was crying. I explained my situation and she said to me, like it was no big deal, "Don't cry. You can do this. Come to my house after the meeting and I will give you milk. I'll give you enough for a week. If you need more after it's gone come back and I'll give you more. If you don't use it all give it back. But in the meantime, focus on getting your supply up and if you fall short use mine. You can do this." I was shocked. I never would have expected someone to be so selfless. Like I said - I didn't know her, she didn't know me. That was HER milk that she had worked hard to pump that was meant for her daughter. I couldn't believe this blessing had been plopped into my lap.

Truthfully, I don't know that I even knew milk sharing existed. I knew of wet nurses "back in the day", but you don't hear about that happening anymore. I'm sure that in the days before having Madeline I probably would have wrinkled my nose at the thought, but now that I was in the situation I was in, after reading everything I could about breastfeeding, becoming educated on the topic, and being so damned determined to provide my daughter with breastmilk I didn't bat an eye.

Sure, it was someone else's brestmilk. But so is that 2% you buy in the grocery store. The difference is that the milk in the grocery store was originally intended for baby cows. And my daughter was a baby human. Thus, making the human breastmilk idea not so icky after all. Sure, you can worry about all the what-ifs, but I chose to trust that her healthy, happy, chunky-thighed 9 month old daughter was thriving on her momma's breastmilk and if it was good enough for her daughter then it was good enough for mine.

So I went to her house after that meeting and she loaded up an insulated bag full of frozen milk, gave me a genuine hug and sent me on my way. Thankfully all the herbs and water and yummy lactation cookies worked and within a week my supply was up where it needed to be and I was even able to freeze a bag of my own here or there to start my own stash. I returned what I didn't use and was - AM - so unbelievably grateful to that woman.

I always said that one day I wanted to repay the favor to someone else in need. But because I was EPing I always felt nervous to give it away since once I stopped pumping all I'd have left was what was in my freezer, and if I gave away too much my daughter wouldn't have breastmilk for as long as I'd like her to. I told myself I wouldn't donate any milk until Madeline would take another type of milk in a sippy or bottle. I'd have to feel confident that if I gave away some of her milk that she'd be ok and could drink something else.

At 14 months old she will finally drink organic cow's milk if it's warmed up and in a bottle - not a sippy. (Don't even try the sippy. She'll look at you like you're nuts and throw it on the ground.) She still prefers breastmilk - hello?? It's way sweeter! - but she'll drink cow's milk if need-be.

After counting up all the bags of frozen milk in my deep freezer I decided to take the leap and post on the HM4HB Colorado page that I had milk to donate to a baby in need. I posted that I had 60oz of milk that I could part with and was willing to meet up with a momma in Northern CO to give it to her and her baby.

My post wasn't on that page for more than 6 hours before I had someone contact me asking if it was still available. She lived down in Colorado Springs (3 hours South of where I am) but was willing to drive to get milk for her son. Her son is just shy of two years old, he is adopted (which is why she isn't BFing him herself), he has Down Syndrome, two heart defects, bad acid reflux, asthma and was FTT (failure to thrive) on all the different high-calorie formulas the Drs were prescribing to him. He spent most of last winter in the hospital with RSV 3 times and pneumonia twice. Once she switched him to donor breastmilk he finally began to gain weight and meet him developmental milestones. He is still not eating many solid foods, but is doing great on breastmilk and the few solid foods that he does eat. She is hopeful that by stocking up on brestmilk before it gets into the cold winter months she'll be able to keep him inside, feed him the "good stuff" and keep him out of the hospital this year so he can enjoy the holidays at home with his family.

I was more than honored that she trusted me to help feed her child. To help keep her child healthy. She's seen him be sssssooooo sick and weak, she doesn't want that to happen again, and she was putting her trust into ME and MY MILK to keep her little boy from having to go through all that again. I'm honored.

I met with her today at the local Target food court to give her 60oz of my milk in the same insulated bag that donor milk was given to me in a year ago. I feel incredibly blessed to have a healthy daughter who has grown and thrived on my breastmilk despite my struggles. I feel incredibly lucky that I was able to respond to the pump as well as I have so that I could build up a freezer stash of 460oz so that I'd feel comfortable giving away 60oz to someone who could truly use and appreciate it. And if I get to a point where I have more milk to donate I would love to donate again.