Sunday, February 27, 2011

The first bag of milk

This is probably not an accomplishment to anyone other than myself. But I filled my first bag with breastmilk today. Pumping for 20 minutes each day for three days produced a single 8 ounce bag.

I don’t want to think about how, by the time I go back to work, she’ll probably guzzle that down as just one of many daily feedings. I won’t focus on how many of those bags I’ll need for a single day away.

Instead, I’ll be grateful that despite all the problems, I’m successfully feeding her. She seems to be tending toward chunky at this point, which means I have sufficient milk for her needs. In addition, I’m able to set some aside, even if just a little bit. This is going into storage – a savings account that I can later use to buy myself some freedom.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Reassurance and excitement

Today a lactation consultant confirmed that my nipples do indeed look like they are recovering. Also, I got the appropriate dosage of nifedipine (30 mg/day slow dose), which is reducing the episodes of burning pain and nipples changing color. I have to continue the diet for a few weeks after I stop the diflucan, but signs are indicating that perhaps, maybe, I’m close to returning to normal.

I asked the consultant about our trip away next weekend, thinking that perhaps I could/should try to start pumping and see if I could get enough for a night away. She advised against it, saying that if Willow hasn’t even taken a bottle yet, then I suddenly leave for almost 24 hours, that could cause a nursing strike. She said I didn’t need any additional problems to deal with, and since I’d have to pump while away anyway, perhaps it’s not so different to have her there. So she’s coming along, but I feel better that it’s the best thing to do in the circumstances.

I also received some helpful information on pumping. We are planning to travel for the month preceding my return to work and I know from experience that I’m not going to keep up regular pumping while traveling. So I basically have the next three months to start building up a supply in the freezer.

The consultant suggested starting out with pumping once a day for 20 minutes, so I did so when Willow took her afternoon nap. I have an old hospital-grade Lactina Select that I purchased off Ebay when I was about to lose my supply with River. I sat on the couch, watched TV and got just over two ounces. Not bad.

It’s been a while since I’ve heard the whir of the breastpump. It’s a noise that lodges in your brain, a constant vroom, whish, vroom. I recall the moments spent pumping in the passenger seat of the car, in the driver’s seat, in a classroom with an unlocked door, in bathrooms, where I cringed with embarrassment at the loud noise that could easily spook someone who is not thinking about breastfeeding. I’m not too thrilled to spend a lot of time attached to that thing, but I also need to be able to get away, so I’m glad it’s available.

In other news, the trip we planned to Wisconsin Dells has now turned into a month-long journey. I received a brochure for a conference the other day and almost threw it right into the trash. This was the same conference I went to when River was eight months old and almost lost my milk supply during the nine days away. I wasn’t going to do that again. But instead of throwing it away, I held on to it just to read through, in the same way I flip longingly through the dessert cookbooks. Food porn and intellectual porn.

Then I realized that the dates weren’t so far off from our planned trip. We changed the plans a little bit, my parents agreed to take River for the week, and I did a little research that leads me to believe I could take Willow with me, getting enough childcare to give me plenty of time, but being able to feed her at night, in the mornings, and perhaps even once during the day.

A month away is a long time and has its stresses. But I figured I should use the freedom while I have it. Granted, we aren’t going to any exotic destinations, but I’m super excited to be able to see family, to spend some family time as tourists, and to be able to do something of interest to me, while still caring for Willow. It’s as close to an adventure as I can get these days, so I plan to make the most of it.

The first signs of bilingual rejection

I knew this would come someday, so I tried to prepare for it. We aren’t at outright rejection yet, but River has started to show a bit of resistance to the Spanish. I worry this might just be the beginning and may be a sign that he sees English as dominant, more important, more often used among his peers.

Today he asked me for blueberries, but refused to say the word in Spanish. “Quiero blueberries, muchos blueberries.”

I figured it doesn’t make sense to act like I don’t understand, since he hears me speak English with other people. So I asked him to say it in Spanish.

“Blueberries!” he repeated.

Mark also told him he had to say it in Spanish, but he wouldn’t.

An hour or so later, when it was clear to him that saying it in English didn’t get him blueberries, he asked for it in Spanish.

I don’t want language to become a subject for fights. But I do think it’s important for my kids to speak Spanish and I want them to stick with it. Eventually, I’d love to take him to a Spanish-speaking place for several weeks, where he can hear it as the dominant language and see children who use it as their main means of communication. But it will be a while before that is a possibility.

In the meantime, I’m thinking that I’ll continue to speak to him and read to him only in Spanish and will only fulfill his requests if he makes them in Spanish. If he eventually asks why I speak Spanish to him and English to dad and so many other people, I’ll tell him that I think it’s a beautiful language and it’s important for him and Willow to know so that they can travel many places and communicate with different people. He does have a strong interest in travel, so I’m hoping that will make sense to him.

But I’m not sure. I haven’t done this before and I don’t want to screw up, as it could affect his communication abilities and/or our relationship. Does anyone have any tips on how to avoid or deal with a bilingual language strike? Any thoughts on whether introducing Chinese this fall will make it better (my hope is that he’ll see that there are different environments for different languages and they are all useful) or worse?

Breastmilk ice cream

Wow, people will pay $22.50 per servingpound to eat this. I’ve got an ice cream maker, so I suppose if I found myself with excess milk, I could give it a try. Somehow eating my own bodily product makes me uncomfortable. But perhaps it’s just a result of socialization.

Would you buy ice cream made from breast milk if it was available? Would it make any difference if it contained your milk or milk from someone you know?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New experiences the second time around

Some new parenting experiences I’ve had recently include:

1. Being asked to leave the gym floor after walking on the treadmill (on a flat incline at 2.7 miles per hour) while carrying Willow in the Ergo. Since the gym wouldn’t take her into childcare until three months and wouldn’t let me exercise with her attached to me, I basically can’t use my gym membership. Yes, I know people can trip on treadmills. But I can trip on a curb outside too (but it’s much colder there) and I also could have tripped on the treadmill while nine months pregnant. I was so bummed at not being allowed to exercise I almost burst into tears.

2. I breastfed while having my teeth cleaned. Willow arrived hungry and started crying as soon as we entered the room. I told the hygienist I’d do whatever was easier for her – either feed Willow while she did the cleaning or let her cry until the cleaning was done. She told me to go ahead and feed her, she did the cleaning, and it worked fine. Who would have known?

In addition to those fun things, I’ve been getting a few comments that perhaps lead me to believe that River is under more stress than I might think. One of my friends (the mom of River’s best bud) has twice commented that River seems “sad.” She’s offered to let us drop him off at their place so they can help restore his happy self. The attendant at our church nursery commented that he was blinking a lot, as though he had a tic, something I hadn’t noticed. I have noticed that he has his finger in his nose a lot, which is listed as one of the signs of stress common in three-year olds in a book I’m reading. And then there was our recent trip to a museum, in which he asked if I could “leave Willow,” so that he and I could eat lunch alone in a café.

Mark doesn’t buy it. He thinks River is fine. Perhaps River is fine with Mark, because he is getting more time and attention from him than he used to. But I think he may be sad about the time he has lost with me and this makes me sad. Just yesterday, he kept asking for attention and I felt annoyed, harried, impatient. I knew what he needed and I wanted to give it to him, but I was tired and felt I was dealing with too many demands.

For now, our alone time consists of the one hour weekly Spanish story times at the library. I hope to be able to take him out, alone, on some fun excursions again. Though I know it will be a while before I can do that. I just hope that we don’t lose our bond in the meantime.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Our scheduled escape, or not

Before River was born, I purchased a night away for Mark and I in early March. I thought I’d start pumping early and that two months would be plenty of time to store up enough supply for a night away.

Two months after her birth and one week before our scheduled escape, I haven’t pumped once.

My excuse is that I’ve been waiting for the thrush to go away. I didn’t want to infect the equipment, nor did I want to add the time it takes to pump to my to-do list.

The signs of thrush are beginning to diminish and I’m hopeful we are getting better. Yet I still find myself reluctant to pump. Looking at the big blue box, which looks like it might contain a construction worker’s tools, I’m brought back to what inspired the purchase – nine days away from River with a defective pump, during which I lost a good deal of my milk supply.

Thinking I’d be on “vacation” away from him, instead I set my alarm for every two hours at night, pored over the internet looking for ideas on how to increase supply, and finally contacted a local hospital and rented a hospital-grade pump for a few days. I felt miserable, desperate, as though I was failing him, despite the fact that I rationally knew then, and still know now, that not breastfeeding him is not the end of the world. Though I managed to continue breastfeeding another 3-4 months, I felt I was just hobbling along for that period, getting him a bit each day, but not much more. I thought I’d screwed things up.

This time I find myself frightened to do anything that will mess with my supply. As long as she gets all of her milk from breastfeeding, I’ll make enough and she’ll get enough. Once I start pumping and there is milk in the freezer, whoever is caring for her may turn quickly to a frozen pack, whereas now, there is no choice but wait until I return. I’m scared to mess with the cycle, for fear that I’ll goof things up again.

I have no choice but to pump, eventually. I’ll have to start a supply that can be used when I return to work. Since it looks like we may be traveling for about a month shortly before I go, it’s probably a good idea to start building that supply soon.

Nevertheless, I’m hesitant. I don’t want to do it. As much as I’d like to get away and have a bit of a life, for now, I’m OK with carting her along with me and being available to her. Just as we are maybe, hopefully, coming towards the end of a long battle to get breastfeeding on track, I’m scared to do anything that will throw it off again.

Which may mean that Willow will accompany us on our anniversary night away.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Turning the corner?

My nipples are still pink, and I still have Raynaud’s and some burning. But they are no longer Rudolph the Red-Nosed reindeer bright, which gives me hope that perhaps we are turning a corner and heading toward recovery. I will be so very grateful when this thrush is gone.

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve had any sweets and though I still fantasize about eating them, I’m starting to get used to this new diet. I can’t wait for the day when I can bake a batch of cookies with River, but in the meantime, I’ve found that Granny Smith apples with cashew butter and Greek yogurt with mixed berries serve as my treats. I must admit though, that when I had a little bit of free time, what did I do but walk to the library, grab a stack of cookbooks, and salivate over the pictures. There was a picture of a French silk pie in the America’s Test Kitchen 2010 that I would not have been able to resist if the actual pie had been in front of me.

With a little release in the intensity, I feel like I’m able to poke my head above water a little. I’m starting to take Willow to some evening readings and lectures where the presence of a baby can be tolerated. I take her to my Spanish bookgroup and recently attended a MothUp, or story slam, with her. The ability to listen to interesting adults tell stories while I breastfed was such a treat. Soon I’ll be attending a girls night out.

I still don’t go anywhere besides my statistics class, or for a short walk, without a child. True independence will come when I can leave them both for more than two hours at a time, but I know that will come one of these days. In the meantime, I treasure looking at her bright eyes that reflect my image, at feeling the curves and muscles of her tiny body, at listening to coos of delight and in having a couple of moments, here and there, where I have the full use of both hands.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

8 weeks

Eight weeks today and I’m starting to have hope that things are going to get a bit easier. Willow still sleeps through the night, usually waking up for feedings around 1, 4 and 6 a.m. But some nights she only wakes up twice. And one night she only woke up once – at 1 a.m. That was heaven.

Even better is that she’s starting to take some naps during the day and to be more content to spend some time in her Bjorn babysitter and occasionally, even the swing.

Yesterday was a milestone in that I cooked my first dish from scratch since her birth. It took days to choose the recipe, get the ingredients, line them up, then find time when I could manage to prepare it. I ended up doing much of it while bouncing Willow against my chest in the Ergo, or entertaining her in the babysitter. But I ended up with a pot of stew – enough for several servings to go into the freezer for later and some to eat fresh.

My relations with both of the kids seem to be back on keel. River is happy and well-adjusted. Willow is filling out and I love to marvel at her smiles and her increasingly strong body. I don’t like being home alone with both of them, but I’m starting to venture out with both of them more often, usually doing something each week. Normally it’s just to church, but yesterday we went to a planetarium with a friend and her son, and perhaps soon I’ll start going to the gym. I’ve only gone to places where there is another adult present to help keep an eye on River though – no shopping trips with them both yet.

My only real break remains my three weekly excursions to my statistics class. Who would have thought that statistics would be my welcome release? But it’s a start. Hopefully one of these days I’ll again be able to devote several hours to knocking things off my to-do list, reading a book, or doing something fun for myself.

Starting today I am upping my daily step goal by 500 steps per week and reducing my caloric intake by 25%. Since my caloric intake started out very high, and since I’ve already had to eliminate sweets, white carbs and other delicious things, I don’t expect it to be too hard initially.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Raynaud's of the nipple

For those not interested in the details of breastfeeding problems, you may want to skip over this. I’m putting this out there for the new mothers who will come after me, spending their few spare moments googling for help/information/advice. Perhaps something I learn along the way will be useful to someone else.

There is a helpful article here about Raynaud’s phenomenon of the nipple, one of the other fun breastfeeding challenges I’m facing. I’m pretty sure I had this with River too, as I distinctly remember it being painful to go outside in the winter, though no one diagnosed it then. This time, a lactation consultant identified it when I mentioned turning back from a walk because my nipples hurt too much to continue on.

Until now, I’ve been focusing on trying to get rid of the thrush, hoping that the Raynaud’s would go away as a result. But a new lactation consultant said I should go after the Raynaud’s first. The consultant I’ve seen most often is mystified that my big crack has still not healed after six weeks. The new consultant suggested that perhaps the constriction of the blood vessels are preventing blood flow to the nipple, which is preventing the crack from healing. If I can heal the crack, I’ll eliminate the open portal that makes it very easy to transfer yeast and bacteria. So yesterday I got a prescription for nefidipine.

My ob/gyn had never heard of the use of nefidipine for Raynaud’s, though he uses it regularly for pre-term labor. However, he said it’s a safe drug and unlike other doctors I’ve come across, seemed to respect the opinion of the lactation consultants. So he prescribed it without hesitation.

The bottle said that the medication should not be taken in conjunction with grapefruit, so I gave the pharmacist a call. I’ve been using a lot of grapefruit lately in trying to battle thrush – 750 mg of grapefruit seed extract tablets, grapefruit seed extract applied topically to the nipples and I eat a grapefruit every day.

The pharmacist said that grapefruit can magnify the potency of the drug, up to 50%. She said that since my dose wasn’t too high, a 50% increase wouldn’t be toxic, so it was up to me whether or not I wanted to continue with the grapefruit.

I must have had a lot of grapefruit in my system, because I could immediately feel the effects after the first pill. My cheeks became flushed, I felt a rush to my head and I could literally feel my blood vessels expanding in my legs. I also had a headache for hours. It was pretty surreal. However, with only one pill so far, my nipples are doing much better. I’m going to try it for two weeks or so and see what happens.

Crossing my fingers we are nearing the resolution phase!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The early introduction of formula

I still go to the breastfeeding support group weekly and I’m pretty much the only person who attends so regularly. In seeing a lot of moms with newborns over the past several weeks, I’ve heard so many who were told they should supplement with formula in the first days due to the baby losing too much weight. “My baby lost 11% of her weight!” one said, without realizing that 11% of seven pounds is not that much.

It makes me sad to see so many moms caused to worry when initial weight loss is normal for so many babies.

“Maybe I wouldn’t listen if it was my second child,” one new mom said. “But with a first child, you don’t know what you are doing and you don’t want to take any chances. So you do what the doctor says.”

It makes me so glad that we had a doula our first time around. She encouraged me to have the confidence that my body would do what it needed to do. I needed that encouragement, as my body took a very long time to do it. Long enough for River to lose over a pound. Long enough for the pediatricians to express concern, to suggest formula repeatedly. Long enough for River’s lips to become chapped from dehydration. I think it was somewhere around a week when my milk finally came in.

I never had a copious supply, but it was adequate. If I had supplemented earlier, I wouldn’t have had enough and I’m doubtful I could have caught up.

This time, Willow dropped from 7 pounds 15 ounces to 7 pounds 5 ounces and our pediatrician expressed concern. She sent us home with a sizeable sample of newborn formula, in ready-to-feed bottles. She worried about the lack of poopy diapers as well as the weight loss. This time, we were able to ignore her supplementation suggestion with confidence. We put the formula in the corner, the milk came in (earlier than last time) and she’s been doing fine.

Week after week, I see women struggling to pump and to get their supplies back in line after introducing formula. As one woman described it, once the formula is introduced, it’s a downward slide from there in terms of breastfeeding.

That was the case for us. Once I started giving River a decent amount of formula (around six months) I was never able to give him only breastmilk again. I was able to give him some breastmilk until he was a year old, but I constantly struggled to pump and felt like I was always behind.

I don’t think this is a bad thing if formula is the right choice for a family. But it makes me sad to see women with newborns, who wanted to breastfeed exclusively, but were instructed by people they trusted to introduce formula so early.

I imagine in some of their cases it may have been necessary. I think in many of them, it may not have been. That perhaps they could have used a little encouragement to ignore the scale and the diaper counts and the precise measurements of what goes in and out, and instead to trust their bodies to do what is needed for their babies.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lacking in ideas

Today I had lunch with a childless friend, who juggles multiple jobs and projects and generally leads an interesting, active and involved life.

I told her how good it was for me to get out, alone, a couple of times a week, even if it’s to go to statistics class.

“Yes, it must be helpful to be around people and to have experiences, which can then give you things to write about,” she said.

True in general, I thought, but not so much of a statistics class. But I didn’t say anything. I commented how even the opportunity to walk to and from class is a welcome relief.

She agreed. “That gives you the chance to think of ideas, or for ideas to connect, so you can later implement them.”

“I’m afraid I’m a bit short on ideas right now,” I said. “I’m in more of a survival mode.”

Part of me knows this is normal and it won’t last forever. But another part felt old and boring at my inability to have exciting ideas percolating through my head as I take walks. My thoughts are more along the lines of – boy it will be nice when spring comes and I can move the stroller along the sidewalks uninhibited. Or: Ouch, the loss of blood to my nipples when I go out in the cold is very painful. Or: If I could get Willow to sleep a little this afternoon, I might be able to put away the new dishes and go through part of the stack of paperwork.

It’s not only a lack of time to think of new and interesting things, but I also feel my mind is operating at reduced capacity. After I backed into another car in a parking lot this weekend (the first time I’ve done that), Mark asked when the 5% loss in brain matter that occurs during pregnancy comes back. I do feel like my driving skills are lower than usual. I lack confidence in my Spanish and I even struggle to find the correct words in English.

Is it lack of sleep, something hormonal, or just me? Does anyone else feel they’ve lost at least a small part of their mind during the newborn days?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I could get used to this

Willow naps, during the day, and I can get a few things done. Yay! We’ve had a couple of these in the past few days and the time feels like such an undeserved luxury. I’m hesitant to be too optimistic, but perhaps we are beginning to settle into a schedule. Maybe we are emerging from the toughest period. I don’t want to declare victory too early, but I feel an initial sense of relief, and hope that it will be easier from here.

Willow is really “growing up,” funny as it may seem at seven weeks. At the last breastfeeding support group meeting, she was the oldest baby there. Her mid-section is now “solid,” the same way River’s was from birth. She has a nice little collection of fat rolls. She spends more time alert and not eating, and we enjoy little progresses, like smiles that seem to be directed at us. She seems to be thriving, though I haven’t bothered to weigh her since she last went to the doctor when she was a few days old. She’ll have her two-month checkup in just a couple of weeks and I expect the news to be good.

I’ve started my class, so am now required to leave the house three times a week for 1-2 hours at a time. Mark asks me why I don’t use that time to write instead.

“Because I don’t have to leave the house to do that,” I said. “And it’s too easy for everyone to turn to me when I’m in the house.”

It might make more sense to use that time to write rather than to listen to more lectures about probability. But as supportive as Mark is, I don’t think he’d be thrilled about me leaving him with two kids so that I could go to a café and write for an hour. But the class has set hours and I should be there at that time, like it or not. I find it helpful to be forced out of the house. Sitting among other people for an hour, with no focus on babies on children, is great. It makes me feel like I’m slowly returning to who I am when I’m not a 24-7 milk machine.

If only this darn thrush would go away, I’d really be feeling good. In desperation, I’ve eliminated sweets, yeast and alcohol and greatly reduced cheese, white carbohydrates and processed foods. There are no magic rules though. Some of the suggested diets are so incredibly restrictive I can’t fathom following them, especially when I have no time to cook. Others suggest cutting this, or that, but I haven’t been able to find clear guidelines. And I have a tendency to bend the rules. A bran or a whole-wheat muffin is a whole grain, right? Even though it has sugar? Can I eat it or not? I have been eating them, and wonder whether I’m feeding the Candida.

I’ve also received a lot of contradictory advice. Walk around barebreasted to avoid creating a dark, moist environment where yeast can grow. No, cover your breasts immediately to keep them warm and reduce the effects of Raynaud’s. Use Dr. Jack Newman’s all purpose nipple cream. No, the steroid isn’t a good idea, nor is the antibiotic. Squirt breastmilk on your nipples to promote the healing of cracks. No, don’t do that as it’s bad for the yeast.

The doctors don’t seem so well-versed in these matters and while the lactation consultants have been helpful, different consultants say different things. So my best source for the moment has been moms who have been through thrush. If anyone has suggestions of what killed it for them, I’d be happy to hear it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

comfort blanket

Someone gave Willow this very cool present. It’s a stuffed tortoise. When you undo the latches it turns into a pillow. And when you unzip the two zippers, it’s a warm, fuzzy blanket with her name embroidered on it in bold letters. It’s called a Zoobie and though I hadn’t heard of it before, it is so strikingly cute that I wasn’t surprised to read it won several awards.

No surprise that River immediately gravitated toward this tortoise. He wanted to carry it around and to sleep with it. Yes, he might scuff it up a bit, but I thought he might as well enjoy it for now, then Willow could have fun with it later.

“But he’s going to cover it with pee,” Mark said, referring to River’s continued habit of wetting while sleeping. And of course, it did have her name on it. Maybe we should get him one of his own.

I showed him the animals available from the website and let him choose he one he wanted. He chose the elephant and I promised to order it.

It was only a couple of days until it was ready, but in the meantime, he was thinking about it all the time. Before he went to sleep, he’d ask about his elephant. It was the first thing he’d mention upon waking. He’d tell people about the new elephant he was going to get. It made me a little anxious to have to keep putting him off, but it was also beautiful to see his excitement and to know that we’d be fulfilling his wish.

Last night the elephant arrived. His smile was so genuinely happy it was well worth $40 just to see it. He held the still nameless elephant (according to the tag it’s Ellema) under his arm as he watched his evening Sesame Street. He carried it around the house with him. He stroked its trunk and its horns.

Unfortunately, the outer part is spot-clean only, so this isn’t a great thing to pee on either. We didn’t say anything when he left it downstairs to go up to bed.

We’ll see whether or not the interest lasts. With the exception of an old blue musical bear he liked as an infant (and which later broke), he’s never had any type of security object. I was OK with that, since I thought not having one would cause us less hassle should anything ever happen to it. But with the stresses and changes that a new sibling have brought, I think it might be nice for him to have something that makes him feel happy and secure with its mere presence. I guess if he wants to let it get peed on, that’s OK. For now, its role is to be his buddy.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

At seven weeks

Willow has developed rolls of fat around her upper thighs, her neck and her wrists. This is good for her sake (she must be gaining sufficient weight, though I haven’t weighed her since she was 7 pounds 5 oz) and for mine (I must be providing enough milk, despite our difficulties).

I am full-out fighting thrush, but it is still winning. The big crack from the early days is still there. I wonder if my nipples will ever be normal again.

We are getting smiles and coos and these light up our lives. There is nothing more heartwarming than my baby looking up at me and smiling. I feel a great sense of fulfillment in ensuring her happiness and well-being.

I have yet to try pumping or giving Willow a bottle. I’ve wanted to wait until we get over all our breastfeeding problems before I add another element into the picture. I wonder if this is a mistake.

River seems to have returned to his cheerful, good-natured self. He is wonderful with Willow, telling me she needs milk when she cries, giving her kisses, and caressing her fingers. It’s beautiful to watch. Though his relationship with Mark has strengthened in the past several weeks, I still feel our bond and that is reassuring. He watched part of a movie about Lagos with me and asked me repeatedly to take him to Nigeria. I didn’t assent as willingly as I do to his requests to travel to other places (I’d be nervous about going to Lagos myself), but I do love the possibility that he may someday be interested in joining me on some adventures.

I will leave Willow for an hour or two at a time. But since I have no food to leave with whoever is caring for her, it’s a precarious situation. I do it only when it’s necessary (mainly my class – which meets three times a week) or quick (taking River to Spanish story hour or other short outings).

It seems kind of early to me, but it feels like Willow is already on something pretty close to a schedule. She sleeps from somewhere between 6 and 8 p.m. until about 7 a.m., waking up for feedings in between and then going back to sleep. She gets tired in the late morning and might sleep a bit. The best way to get a nap of any significant length is to take her on a car ride. Then I can carry the car seat into the house and if I’m lucky, I might get an hour or two.

A pedometer has been reattached to my hip and I’m slowing increasing my goal for daily movement. I’m now at the rather modest goal of 4,500 steps per day. But even that is forcing me out of the house more, even into the cold. I can’t wait for spring to arrive.

I’m pretty sure I’ve spent more on breastfeeding issues in the past seven weeks than formula would have cost. At some point, I’d like to do the math. Though breastfeeding is something I want to do, and something I want to give my baby, it bothers me when people argue that it’s easy and cheap. Some social assistance programs are now promoting breastfeeding among low-income women. Which might be great. Their babies need the benefits as much as anyone else. But it is not fair to put a lot of pressure on women to breastfeed without also offering the supports needed to do so successfully. As in sufficient time off of work, the time and space to pump at work, the equipment needed to pump, and care for older siblings to allow time to breastfeed and/or pump. I have all of those things and am still struggling enough that at times I wondered if I could continue.

It seems so obvious, but I’m often amazed at just how dependent babies are on those around them. I understand how what happens now, when they are so helpless, can shape them for the long term. Thinking of the babies who are ignored, mistreated or otherwise acquainted with the harshness of the world from their earliest days makes me very sad.

I’m so grateful for the maternity leave I have. If I had to go back now, as many American women do, I’d have to stop breastfeeding. If I had to go back after 12 weeks, I would spend the entire leave either trying to solve breastfeeding problems and/or preparing to pump for work. I wouldn’t be able to experience even a week of relaxed quality time with my baby. And since I’m doubtful I could pump enough right off the bat to cover the absence a full-time job would require, we’d probably have to start supplementing and breastfeeding would then begin its slide.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

My life has become a battle with thrush

It’s all out war now. I’ve had enough of this thrush, of the burning pain, of the bright red nipples, of the many supplements, medications and procedures aimed to kill it. I’m finally taking the last of the possible steps – which is cutting out (or at least drastically reducing) the sugars and white carbs in my diet, as well as yeast. I was hoping to not have to take this step. As a big eater and admitted sugarholic, this is killer for me, especially while breastfeeding. When I’m tired and stressed and not getting out much, sometimes all I want is some chocolate. But now I can’t.

If there are any thrush experts out there, would you please let me know if there is anything I’m missing in my attempts to get rid of this? Here is what I’m doing:

-tried Nystation for a short time, then went on Diflucan for two weeks. Medicine is about gone now.

-on Diflucan for about four weeks now
-taking Natren Healthy Trinity 3 times a day (two pills each time)
-taking 250g grapefruit seed extract three times a day
-applying liquid grapefruit seed extract to nipples
-wearing bras and shirts and using towels only once.
-rinsing clothing in vinegar during wash
-applying Dr. Jack Newman’s all purpose nipple ointment after each feeding. This contains Mupirocin 2% ointment (15 grams), Betamethasone 0.1% ointment (15 grams) and miconazole powder so that the final concentration is 2% miconazole
-taking one capsule of coconut oil per day and using coconut oil for any cooking (which isn’t much)
-each yogurt and grapefruit daily
-just recently, started avoiding white carbs and sweets.
-have been attending a weekly breastfeeding support group to get assistance.

How to help a family with a new baby

1. Call or send a note to let them know you are thinking of them.

2. Bring food. Offer the family a couple of choices and ask when they can use it.

3. Especially in the first few days after arriving home, ask what you can pick up for the store from them. There will almost certainly be something from the pharmacy, the grocery store, or last-minute baby or feeding supplies that are needed, but it’s not so easy to get out with a newborn.

4. If you have baby gear/clothing/supplies you are finished with or won’t need for a while, let them know what you have and whether you are willing to give or lend it.

5. If there are older children, invite the older child out or over to your house for a while to give the parents some quieter time at home. If you live near a shop the family frequents, offer to let them drop off the older child while they shop.

6. Find out whether visitors would be welcome or a nuisance. If welcome, visit. Some company can brighten the day of a parent stuck in the house most of the time.

7. If you are family, or close friends, do whatever you can around the house. Laundry, dishes, cooking, picking up, or other household tasks.

Other ideas? What was most helpful to you when you came home with your new baby?