BF Blog Hop: Breastfeeding Goals

This week's Breastfeeding Blog Hop topic is How did you determine your breastfeeding goals?

Before I was pregnant, I didn't really know a lot about breastfeeding. I thought it was easy and came naturally. I also thought "Meh, I'll just use formula if it gets too hard." Taking birth classes while pregnant really opened my eyes to how important it was. I knew I wanted to breastfeed for the recommended 6 months.

The first few weeks after birth were awful. I wanted to quit a number of times, but we persevered and made it through. Our next challenge was my return to work when Ethan was 12 weeks old. I was really worried about how my supply would fare with so much pumping rather than nursing him all day long. We had a couple of tough weeks, but it went really well.

Six months came pretty fast and I realized I wasn't ready to stop nursing him. I changed our goal from six months to 12. Surely at 12 months I'd be ready to wean, right? I was wrong. As E's first birthday approached, I wasn't ready to stop yet and neither was he. I decided I'd keep going until he decided he didn't want to nurse anymore.

We had a couple of scares, especially when he was night weaned. I thought he'd be so mad that the wouldn't want to nurse at all. Thankfully he was okay with cuddles/water/pacifier at night and after a few tough weeks, he was night weaned. We kept nursing up until a few weeks ago.

I chose our breastfeeding goals, but didn't want to hold myself to them especially after our rough start. If I kept them fluid, I could make the best decisions for my family and not try to attain something that was difficult. I am also kind of weird and like round numbers (6 months, 1 year, etc.), so I knew I'd push to get to one of those goals. In fact, we were so close to 2 years that I really wish we'd made it that long, mostly for the round number than anything else! 21 months and 9 days isn't a nice even number!

How did you determine your breastfeeding goals?

Weaned

Well, I think we're done nursing. I know I've said this before, but I really mean it this time. What makes it different? Ethan hasn't nursed in almost a week. The last time he nursed was last Wednesday, 9/19/12, just before bed. Since then, he asks for milk and but doesn't nurse, just snuggles up against my breast. Sometimes he won't even do that, he'll just lay his head on my stomach and fall asleep. Guess he loves the skin-to-skin. He's done the same thing almost every night since then.


One of my favorite pics of us ever, E is almost 6 months old

It's been a long time coming, he's been slowly cutting down the sessions. After I stopped pumping at work back in March, he would jump on me when I walked in the door from work. I didn't mind, I was pretty full by the time I got home. That stopped sometime in July; he'd still want to nurse after I got home, but it he didn't want it as urgently as before. At some point between July and September, he cut out the post work nurse and would nurse to sleep. Now he is all done.


Nursing E at almost 18 months old

I'm really sad about this. We've had an amazing run, 21 months and 9 days. I never thought that we'd nurse this long. I never thought that I'd want to nurse this long. But here we are, just a few months shy of the 2 year mark. I'm especially proud of how long we nursed because I work full time outside of the home. I was hoping to make it to that point, since we were so close. I am also sad that I didn't realize it was his last time. I wouldn't have been so quick to offer him a paci or play around on my phone while he nursed.

To me, it's been about much more than just breastfeeding and nourishing my child. Our adventure together has given me a purpose and direction in life. For years I've felt directionless. Two years ago, I still didn't know what I wanted to be when I "grew up". Then E was born and we had our rough start. As our nursing relationship developed, I realized that I wanted to offer moms non-judgmental support through their rough times. It really lit a fire within me and I am so excited that I am on the path to making a career out of something I'm passionate about.

So what do I do now? Do I keep offering? What if he asks for it? Should I let him? Mamas who've been through this, I need your experiences please. Sorry this post is kind of all over the place. I've been feeling kind of all over the place with this.

31

Today is my thirty first birthday. Yup, the big 3-1. It's been getting me down for the past few weeks and I couldn't pin down the reason. I turned to Facebook for the answer. Thank you to those that commiserated with me on the sense of disappointment on birthdays after a milestone birthday.

Last year, I wrote a post about what I wanted to do in my 30th year of life. Well, I didn't do all those things. Heck, I didn't do most of those things. Rather than reflect on what I didn't accomplish, I thought I did do.

Figured out what I want to do when I grow up. I want to support breastfeeding women as an IBCLC. I may have known that already, but the past year has confirmed and reconfirmed that decision. I've honestly lost count of the number of times I've thought, Yes, this is what I want to do.

Started down the path towards IBCLC. I am officially a Certified Lactation Educator & Counselor. This means I can talk about the normal course of breastfeeding and teach! It's also provided some incredible opportunities for me. See previous point.

Gotten more involved with supporting breastfeeding in my community. Between helping co-lead For Babies' Sake meetings and being a part of the Tarrant County Breastfeeding Coalition, I feel like I'm doing my part.

Successfully managing to work and be a mom. Even when it doesn't feel like it, I'm pretty proud of myself for doing it. It's not everyone's situation or everyone's solution, but it works for us.

Being confident in my beliefs. Whether related to parenting, politics, or everything else, I know what I believe and why I believe in it. It's going to take a lot to shake those beliefs. I don't apologize for them. I won't apologize for them.

Accepting my body as is. Sure, I have days where I bitch about fitting into my jeans, but I'm really happy with the way I look. D is pretty happy with the way I look too.

Realized that some friendships have an expiration date (and that it's okay to let go). Sometimes friends grow apart. Calls, texts, and messages aren't returned, eventually you're no longer friends on social networks. Sometimes I wish I could find out what I did (I have my suspicions for some), but chances are that I don't miss them.

That's what I accomplished in a year. It may not seem like much, but I'm pretty satisfied. Besides, I don't want to get everything done in a year. The rest of my life would be pretty boring. Happy birthday to me.

Eighteen Months

Dear Ethan,

18 months ago you came into the world and turned our lives upside down. You are growing stronger and smarter every day. I love watching you learn how to do things, whether it's crawl, walk, dance, a new word, or a new sign. At this rate you will be smarter than me by age 2!


Minutes old. Photo by Keri Duckett Photography

You've shown me just how selfless I can be. Things that once seemed important to me don't even register on my radar. I'm humbled by how much I've grown since you were born. I'm blown away by the love I felt for you since you took your first breath and it brings me to tears to know my parents felt the same about me at that same moment in their lives.

Thank you for giving me the easy labor you did. You earned me the name Super Birther. Even though you were 3.5 weeks early, I have been waiting for you my whole life. Thank you for not coming out while I was transitioning on the toilet. I'm glad you didn't want to be a toilet baby.

Please don't hate me later in life because I have to go to work every day. Know that I never stop thinking about you and wish I could stay home and play with you all day long. Daddy and I are doing the best we can to give you a great life.

I know that we didn't have the smooth breastfeeding start I imagined us to have. I'm sorry you were hungry and I didn't know any better. I think back to those moments and feel physically ill that I did that to you. I don't think those feelings will ever go away. But our breastfeeding experience really ignited a fire in me. I realized just how much support a new mom needs and I want to be that support for every nursing mother I need. You've given me something to strive for after I thought the drive was gone for good. It will mean that I will be away from you sometimes, but I'm doing it because you showed me how important it was to me.

Thank you for still nursing and not biting me with all your teeth. My favorite part of the day is coming home to you, you saying, “Hi Mama!” and then wanting to nurse. I wish you would sign milk instead of sticking your hand down my shirt. Oh well, I can get over it. I'm happy to keep nursing until you decide you don't want it anymore. I never thought I'd be that mom, but here we are.

Know that I love you regardless of who you marry, what you do with your life, and where you end up. I am your mama and I will be your biggest advocate and champion until my last breath. The last 18 months have been incredible. I don't have any words to describe them. Maybe you'll know if you decide to become a dad. I can't wait to see what the future holds for us.

All my love always,
Mama

Odds & Ends

Last week, my friend Mae came over and we took some beautiful pictures. E is still nursing, but not nearly as much as he was a month ago. I think we're starting to wean. I've said this a bunch of times yet here we are at 17 months of nursing.


How I've been putting E to bed for 17 months...

I'm fully entrenched in the Certified Lactation Educator and Counselor class and loving every minute of it! While I am learning a lot, I'm also surprising myself with what I already know. I can't wait to share this knowledge with others and teach what I have learned. So that being said... I think I'm going to have to take a break from this little blog.

Between working full time, being E's mom, D's wife, taking this class, and trying to maintain a teeny tiny bit of sanity, I won't be able to update this blog as much as I'd like. There are lots of balls and I can only juggle so many at a time. It's only temporary, I have about 5 weeks left of the class. I will be active on Facebook and Twitter, so you're welcome to keep up with me there.

Thanks for understanding and I hope you stick around!

Breastfeeding and Exercise

This week's Breastfeeding Blog Hop topic is Breastfeeding and Exercise.

Exercise. Something I don't do too often, even though I should. I've never been big into fitness. Before and during pregnancy, I belly danced in a troupe. I wouldn't say I was particularly good, but it was a lot of fun and a hell of a work out. We also had a gym membership at the time, so I'd often go and get on the elliptical for a few miles before calling it a night. I was hooked on the endorphin rush.

Since having E, I've dropped the gym membership along with whatever routine I had. I've been trying to be better about exercise, but it is difficult to feel motivated when all I want to do after work is veg on the couch with my son. I have tried to incorporate E into my exercise routine. He goes in the stroller while I run or jog. Now that he's walking, we go for walks around the neighborhood and then I will go run a little. Unfortunately, this happens very infrequently.

When it does happen, I haven't noticed a drop in supply. I have always been careful to drink a lot of water and eat extra calories because of breastfeeding. I did hear or read somewhere that a baby should not be nursed for an hour after exercise because the milk may taste different. I'm not sure how true that is.

One thing I have noticed is a lack of supportive sports bras for well endowed nursing moms. My $14.99 Target sports bras aren't cutting it for something as high impact as jogging or running, but I'm not sure where to get any better ones. Any suggestions?


School is in Session

While I didn't really think that I had found a work life balance, I feel like I came pretty damn close. I was able to come home, spend some time with my family, go to bed at a semi decent hour, and have a little bit of a social life. I was proud! Well, I kind of dropped all the balls when I decided to add something else to the mix.

I recently posted that I had signed up to take online classes to become a Certified Lactation Educator Counselor. My classes started earlier this week and I'm already freaking out. Apparently in my 7 years since graduating college, I have forgotten just how much work is involved! I'm watching 2 hours of video a night, staying up to do assignments, haven't even looked at the tests. Oh and there's the little matter of sitting through a community breastfeeding class. Yikes.

But you know what? I love everything I'm learning;I'm getting so much out of this class. As weird as it is to say, I am pretty eager to watch the lecture on Perceptions of Support and Issues of Guilt. Can't wait for to call around to set up the community breastfeeding class. Um, I'm actually looking forward to a test!


It's very fitting that colostrum was discussed on the first day of class!

Thankfully the course is self paced. There aren't actual due dates, just turning in the assignments by the end of the session. It means my social life will be nonexistent for the next six weeks other than things I already have planned. I'm also lucky that I have a supportive partner who lets me lock myself in our bedroom watching videos on my laptop with headphones. E has figured out how to open doors, so he usually interrupts at least once a night. It's all worth it to me because I'm doing something that I love. I'm really excited.

“The sacrifice which causes sorrow to the doer of the sacrifice is no sacrifice. Real sacrifice lightens the mind of the doer and gives him a sense of peace and joy." - Gandhi

Baby Steps

One of my New Years Resolutions was to finally start on the path to become an IBCLC. After finding the best pathways to becoming an IBCLC that fits my life, I'm not sure I would be able to sit for the exam in the time provided. Between working full time, being a mom to E, and trying to maintain some semblance of a life, I'm not sure I would be able to give it the attention it deserves.


I still want to earn my full IBCLC accreditation, but realistically I don't see it happening in the next year or two. I found this Lactation Education Counselor program to work towards in the meantime. At the end, I'll have some letters behind my name so I'm not just some random person who is interested in supporting breastfeeding moms; I'll be a certified random person who is interested in supporting breastfeeding moms! I called myself a "lactation enthusiast" at a recent breastfeeding coalition meeting. Thankfully, I was in a room full of IBCLCs, peer counselors, nursing moms, and supporters, so no one thought I was creepy!

Seriously though, I'm so excited to start this and can't wait for the text book to come in so I can start reading. Getting some kind of lactation certification was the most important resolution on my list. I'm looking forward to this new chapter of my life.

Breastfeeding by the Numbers

A breakdown of our nursing relationship. Some of these numbers are approximations generated from careful mathematical equations and formulas.

14: number of ounces E lost in the first few days of life
65: number of ounces of donated milk we used
0: ounces of formula E has had
3: number of times I wanted to quit breastfeeding in the first month
3: number of lactation consultants we saw
2: number of times we battled thrush in the first month of life
4: E's age (in weeks) when we first nursed in public

1: number of nursing covers owned
4: E's (in months) when I first NIP without a cover
0: number of nursing covers used (occasionally)
3: number of times pumped during a 9 hour work day when E was exclusively breastfed
1: number of times pumped during a 24 hour day (currently)
3: number of pump parts and bottles purchased
2: number of hands free bras owned
450: number of times in nearly 1 year of working away from home that I went into my pumping "room" (glorified closet) and made my baby's breakfast and lunch
2: number of times I have been walked in on

6: number of pictures of me nursing floating around the internet
6: number of nursing bras owned
5: number of nursing tops owned
0: number of nursing tops used (currently)
3: number of plane trips (roundtrip) E has taken
4: number of states nursed in
1: number of countries nursed in
6: number of months I wanted to breastfeed (original goal)
6.5: E's age (in months) when solids were first introduced
4: number of teeth that have come in
12: number of months I wanted to breastfeed (modified goal)
0: number of ear infections E has had
500: number of ounces of milk donated

Number of months nursing: 14 and counting

OOTD: Date Night

D and I try to go on date nights once or twice a month. It's usually a quick dinner out once E has fallen asleep. This week was a little different. Rather than going to our local Chili's/On the Border/casual dining restaurant, we decided I persuaded him to go to a new upscale sushi restaurant.

Earlier in the day, I had gotten my hair done from my hair stylist BFF earlier in the day and was feeling pretty darn good. Serendipitously, a dress I had ordered and forgotten about came in the same day (a few days earlier than scheduled!) and it fit perfectly. The stars aligned and I looked and felt like a million bucks. I apologize for the crappy quality of these pics - my cell phone camera was the only handy camera at the time.


Dress: Asos Curve
Shoes: Christian Louboutin "Nappa", June 2009 (similar)



Clutch: Express, Fall 2008 (similar 1, similar 2)
Cuff: I can't remember, I've had it forever (similar)
Nail polish: Essie "Mint Candy Apple"

2012 Resolutions

I just wrote about my breastfeeding resolutions for 2012, so I thought I would strike while the iron is hot and write about my other resolutions for the year.
    2012 Resolutions
  • Find an exercise routine and stick with it. Yes, this is the standard resolution that 99% of people have and I am no different. I started belly dancing again at the end of 2011, I'm not sure if it's something I want to continue in 2012. I (briefly) took up running and that kinda fizzled out too. Once this bronchitis is gone, I want to start running again. It was cheap and helped relieve a lot of stress. Whatever I end up doing, I want to stick with it. I want to be healthy so I can set a good example for E.
  • Take Weight Watchers seriously. I've been on WW since the end of October and I really haven't been taking it very seriously. I do a terrible job of tracking my food and therefore haven't seen the kind of results I saw when I did it previously. I want to take it more seriously and lose the weight. I don't want to be a size 2 (I like myself with some curves), but I want to be healthy. See above about setting a good example for E.
  • Learn to walk in heels 3 inches and higher. If you've been reading for a while, it's no secret that I love shoes. I am a little embarrassed to admit that I can't walk in heels higher than 3 inches. I clomp around with the grace of a Clydesdale horse. I need to fix that. Please leave any tips or websites or whatever here. Something more than "heel, toe" is preferred.

    My favorite coffee mug. It's from DSW.
  • Embrace my waves. My hair is naturally wavy. Pregnancy seems to have amplified the wave all over, except for the very back of my head. That area is stick straight. Yeah, my hair is weird. Anyway, I normally straighten my hair for work. I've gotten pretty good at using the blow dryer by itself so my flat iron is used about once week. I don't want to have to straighten my hair 3-4 times a week. I'd rather sleep in. I need to figure out how I can work with my naturally wavy texture. Tips on this would also be appreciated.
  • Shop more often. I need to go shopping more frequently. Instead of hitting the mall, I need to shop in my closet and find pieces I have purchased, but may have forgotten about. I've been using Pintrest to find outfits I can recreate with existing clothing. Now I just need to wear those outfits. In public.
  • Finally start working towards my dream job. Obviously I am passionate about breastfeeding and try to support nursing moms as much as I can. Why not make a career of it? I'd like to eventually become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC for short), but it will be a long process. I do have a few things figured out, but now I need to make them happen. I will register for the appropriate classes, touch base with contacts I've made, and get my rear end in gear. I may not be able to sit for the IBCLC exam for a while because I work full time out of the home, but I will start working towards it this year.
  • Wear colored eyeliner. I wear black eyeliner 360 days of the year. This year, I want to change it up a bit. I have lots of colors to choose from already: grays, browns, turquoise, gold, and silver. It's time to have some fun with more than just my eye shadow.
  • Read more. My goal is to read one non-parenting book a month. I'm currently reading The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine by Somaly Mam. I'd really like to read Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Kristoff and WuDunn next.
  • Do something for my fellow man. After my Christmas, I would really like to do more to give back. I'm not sure how to do it, what I want to do, or how frequently I want to do it, but I want to do something more than once a year. Hm... will have to think more about this one.
What are your 2012 resolutions?

Breastfeeding Resolutions

This week's Breastfeeding Blog Hop topic is about Breastfeeding Goals for the New Year.

    My breastfeeding goals for the new year are pretty simple:
  • Keep it up. E and I have now been nursing for almost 13 months. My original goal of six months has come and gone. Same with my modified goal of 12 months. My new goal? Keep doing it until he doesn't want to anymore.
    I will admit, D and I have been thinking about night weaning so we can get a full night's sleep, but it we haven't started anything yet. My fear is that E will get so upset about night weaning that he will wean himself entirely. My kid has my hot temper.
  • Support nursing moms. I couldn't have made it this far without support. In turn, I would like to support nursing moms. I've provided advice to friends who are having difficulty nursing and participated in flash mobs and nurse-ins to support a mom's right to feed her baby in public. This leads me to my third goal...
  • Start pursuing my dream of becoming an IBCLC. I feel so strongly about breastfeeding and providing good support to moms (especially moms nursing for the first time) that I want to do it for a living. Becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant takes a lot of time, especially since I work full time. I am determined to do it.

You can bet I'll be writing about these ;-)