Breastfeeding Story: Holly's Journeys

In honor of National Breastfeeding Month in the US, I reached out to mom friends and asked them to share their breastfeeding stories. We all know that breastfeeding can vary from one mother to another, but siblings can also have two very different journeys. Here is Holly's breastfeeding journey.

 

Holly's Breastfeeding Journey: Two Kids, Two Stories

 

I always knew I wanted to breastfeed. I grew up with my mom telling stories of breastfeeding both me and my older sister. She joked about weaning me at nearly 3 years old because I would have been happy to continue nursing well into elementary school. She talked about joining La Leche League and the friendships she formed through the meetings. I was 20 years old when my sister had her first baby and I watched as she dove right into breastfeeding; I watched again as she nursed the two children that followed behind. I watched my friends start having and nursing children of their own. Breastfeeding was natural, it was easy, and it was something I never questioned I would do.

I was 29 when my first child was born. His complicated birth ended with meconium inhalation and a collapsed lung. The first days of his life were a blur of NICU visits, tubes and wires, fear and worry. I was encouraged by the nurses and doctors to pump my breastmilk and bring it to the hospital so they could feed it to him through his NG tube instead of formula. I was given charts and syringes, told to keep a close eye on my output. But I was going to breastfeed; I was going to make it happen. We couldn’t hold him or touch him overly much, but I was going to get that baby on the breast as soon as I possibly could.

I still remember the day my son’s NG tube was removed and we were able to try a latch for the first time. I was so nervous, worried that we had already faced setbacks that couldn’t be overcome. I was determined, though, and the hospital’s lactation consultant came up to help walk us through the process. She was kind, though a bit impatient, but we were able to get a latch! I was over the moon! My baby and I had taken the first steps on our journey of breastfeeding and I couldn’t have been happier. My husband snapped a few pictures and I am so glad he did; they are photos I will cherish forever.

But it wasn’t like I thought it would be. My son would latch, but he fell asleep at the breast quickly without feeding for more than a couple of minutes. I was instructed by the LC that I had to wake him up, swap breasts, don’t let him stay on there for more than five or ten minutes. I was poked at, repositioned, talked at. My baby had fingers put into his mouth, his body moved around, his ears rubbed, and became agitated. I felt frustrated and defeated. The LC left with instructions to call her back if we needed her. The nurse came with a bottle of formula and I handed my baby off to my husband to feed. I cried.
 

Baby J being bottle-fed Holly's expressed milk in the NICU. First feeding after his chest tube was removed.

Baby J being bottle-fed Holly's expressed milk in the NICU. First feeding after his chest tube was removed.

My son was discharged and came home on his fifth day of life. I felt afraid and overwhelmed. I tried to remember all the things the LC had told me at the hospital. I tried getting my son to latch again and nurse. He screamed and fought. So I would pump and give him a bottle. After a week or so I called and made an appointment with the hospital LC. Brought my baby to her and asked what I was doing wrong. She had a laundry list. My nipples were flat, I was holding him wrong, I wasn’t waking him often enough to feed, I wasn’t keeping better track of my output when I pumped or how much he was eating. I felt like a failure. Why wasn’t I able to do this? Literally every mom I knew was able to breastfeed. Why was this so damn hard for me?? My appointment ended and the LC suggested I come down to her office to rent a hospital-grade breast pump. I ran away to my car and cried on the way home.

I kept trying, albeit half-heartedly. My husband tried to help, bless his sweet heart, but his suggestions were absorbed by my wounded pride and turned into criticisms by my heartache. I sought out advice from my sister who had successfully breastfed three babies at that point, but it was no help; she was unable to teach me what came so naturally to her. My mom told me she didn’t remember anything from her breastfeeding days; the decades had wiped away every details save the general experience of having done it. I felt like I didn’t have any support. I languished. I stopped trying.

I resigned myself to pumping.

And so it went for months. I pumped five, six, times a day, every single day. I sobbed every session. After the first couple of months I began to experience horrible pain in both of my breasts, a feeling like a thousand fire ants were stinging them from the inside, every time I pumped. I talked to people about it and got sympathetic (albeit confused) replies instead of answers. I suffered through a bout of mastitis so bad, I felt like I would pass out if something happened to graze my breast. I took antibiotics and was told by the doctor I would have to dump my milk while I was on them. So I did, dumping ounce after precious ounce of milk down my kitchen sink while I wept bitter tears and fed my son formula. The mastitis went away. I kept on pumping.

When my son was about four months old my best friend had a baby, her third child. I would go over to her house with my baby to visit, dragging along my pump and bottles. I watched her nurse her newborn while I fed my infant his bottle. I hated her for doing what I could not.

A couple of weeks later my sister had a baby, her fourth child. I visited her in the hospital post-cesarean, nursing her child, so happy and in love with yet another successful breastfeeding relationship begun. I hated her for getting off to the good start I did not have.

I decided to try breastfeeding again. My son had not been offered the breast in over three and half months but I thought, “I can do this. I WILL do this.” I caught him as he was waking from a nap, still a little sleepy, right about the time he would get a bottle. Instead, I freed my breast from my shirt and coaxed him to latch. He did. He nursed for a solid ten minutes on one side; I swapped him to the other and he nursed for another twenty. I snapped a picture with my phone and texted it to my husband. I was enraptured. It was pure magic.

We had two days of breastfeeding before mastitis hit me again like a truck. I was crushed. I pulled out the pump only to discover it was toast, the motor dead and its days of pumping done. I was also done. Done with trying to nurse, done with pumping, done with everything having to do with my breasts as a source of food. I called my sister and wept; she said she would pump for me so my son could keep having breastmilk, she had more than enough, was pumping anyway, it was no trouble. I went to the store and bought a cabbage, stuck its leaves into my bra. My milk dried up in two days. I threw the pump in the trash and dusted my hands of the whole thing. I grieved. HARD.

Two and a half years later I was pregnant with my second child. I knew I wanted to try breastfeeding again. I wanted to have everything go as smoothly as possible during the birth, determined to get off to the best possible start without the delays and setbacks I had before. When my second son was born, he went immediately on my chest. I watched for cues and offered the breast within an hour of his entrance into the world. He latched. He suckled. It worked. The hospital LC came to visit during my recovery--- different hospital, different LC than with my first--- and proclaimed us perfect. She gave no tips or tricks because she said none were needed. I was elated.

We got home and I spent the first two weeks in a topless haze of milky boobs and a nursing baby. I learned my nipples were not only flat but slightly inverted, something not brought to my attention the first time around. I got a nipple shield that seemed to help. Things were going well. My son has his two week checkup at the pediatrician and I was told he’d lost too much weight. He set me up with the office’s lactation nurse for a consultation. She was very kind, very soft and gentle. She listened to my story and my fears, gave me good advice and reassured me. We kept trying.

Baby C during his newborn photo session at 2 weeks.

Baby C during his newborn photo session at 2 weeks.

My baby was about a month old when I began feeling pain again. Both breasts, every time I nursed. That horrible needling pressure and the stinging, crawling sensation that I’d felt before when pumping for my first. It began happening when I was not nursing. Sometimes the pain was so bad, it would wake me in the middle of the night, tears pouring down my face, as I screamed into my pillow and beat my fists on the bed while I waited for the pain to stop. I was in agony.

I started feeling again like my body was broken, that maybe I just wasn’t meant to nurse a child. So I turned to the internet. Good old Dr. Google, haha. After poring through several articles on thrush and determining that just didn’t fit my symptoms, I stumbled across a link through the La Leche League website which referenced Raynaud’s Syndrome, a vasoconstrictive disorder that affects the extremities. The blood vessels spasm and tighten, cutting off the flow of blood and causing extreme pain; when they relax, the blood comes flooding back to the area and the pain fades away. The article I read mentioned this particular phenomenon occurring in the breasts and nipples, causing pain like the type I was feeling. It’s often misdiagnosed as thrush because the feeling is so similar, but unlike the fungal infection, Raynaud’s of the breast could not be treated by medications like diflucan. The article said to check for signs of nipple blanching---when the vessels contract, the color drains away---followed by a purplish then reddish flush. It said the condition is exacerbated by cold temperatures and could be prevented by keeping warm and covered while nursing.

I cried, this time tears of relief. I felt like finally, FINALLY I had an answer as to what was going on with my body. So I kept nursing my son. I kept myself warm and made sure to cover my breasts quickly after each session. It didn’t always work, but the pain was greatly reduced. I felt free; I felt redeemed.

For nearly eight months I fed my son with my breasts. No bottles, no pumped milk, no supplementation. Just him and me. I still grieved for the loss I felt not breastfeeding my first child. Sometimes I would look at my nursing baby and feel sadness for not having bonded the same way with his older brother. The loss is still sharp sometimes, even almost seven years later, but that’s okay. My youngest nursed for 33 months, weaning himself when he felt ready to do so. It was gentle and bittersweet. Those 33 months were magic, even with the fear and the pain and the frustration and everything, I was able to feed my baby with my body as I always wanted to do and I was triumphant in that success.

Baby C breastfeeding at 7 months as Big Brother J "helps"

Baby C breastfeeding at 7 months as Big Brother J "helps"

Breastfeeding is not always easy. I had created this expectation of natural and instinctual simplicity by observing the women closest to me when I should have been talking to them. I wish I had talked to more women, heard more stories, been able to follow more journies, been exposed to a more diverse set of experiences. I wish I’d given myself and my son more grace, more time to figure out what we were doing. I wish I had people in my life tell me that it was hard, but that hard was okay.

My nursing days are far behind me now but I still share my story with those who wish to listen. Because I don’t want them to learn the way that I did that breastfeeding IS hard. But hard is okay.


Holly is mother to two boys and lives outside of Fort Worth, TX. She is the owner and creator of Ginger Jay, a small business specializing in natural products for everyday living. Ginger Jay is committed to using the power of nature to create effective products free from harsh chemicals, designed for everyday living. You can visit Ginger Jay's website or find them on Facebook.


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Breastfeeding Story: Allie and Rhodes

In honor of National Breastfeeding Month in the US, I reached out to mom friends and asked them to share their breastfeeding stories. As with all new skills, there is a learning curve with breastfeeding. Sometimes our paths don't start as easily as we thought they would. Here is Allie's breastfeeding story.

I’ll start off with a little back story. 13 years ago, I was 17 years old trying to nurse my daughter. I had no help. I didn’t read any books, and the internet was fairly new to me. She wouldn’t latch. No matter how hard I tried, she wouldn’t do it. There were no nipple shields then either. It sounds like I was living in the dark ages, and I felt like I was. 17 year old me decided pumping would be better than nothing. Also, 17 year old me had no concept of keeping a schedule for pumping. I got mastitis. Twice. I listened to the doctors who told me I needed to stop breastfeeding. So I did. Breastfeeding lasted all of 6 weeks for me, back in 2003. Almost 30 year old me is really proud of that 17 year old girl. She didn’t have to even try, but she did. Good for her!

Continue with me on my journey, to 2014. I’m older, wiser! I’m pregnant with my second child and ready to totally rock this breastfeeding thing! I bought books, I read articles on the internet. I bought nipple shields for my difficult flat nipples! Everything was going to work out this time! Right?

 

Wrong. Well, partially wrong. See, I watched so many women in my life just effortlessly nurse their babies. It seemed to just come natural to them. It looked seamless and easy. The truth is, it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. It is natural by definition, but it certainly isn’t easy.

Rhodes was born on November 20, 2014, at home in our bed. The whole experience was empowering. There was nothing I felt I couldn’t do, until I tried to latch him. Then all of the memories of trying to latch my daughter came back to me. It was hard, it wasn’t happening. Over the next few days I remember feeling so defeated. How could this happen again? I was so ready this time! Turns out, little tiny newborn mouths are super difficult to work with, especially in combination with flat nipples. I couldn’t even get the hang of a shield. In a moment of sheer desperation and exhaustion I fixed him 1 ounce of formula. I relaxed, he relaxed. I decided if nothing else, I could pump. My husband and I slept in shifts. What little colostrum I could pump, I did. I’d pour it into a bottle, hand it to my husband and then sleep for another hour or two until I had to wake up and pump again. We weren’t getting ahead of him. Sometimes it was a rush job. I would pump just enough to satiate him, hand over the bottle and pump some more. Finally my milk came in and I got a bottle ahead of him! I formulated a plan to start exclusively pumping. I knew it wasn’t ideal and it wasn’t really what I wanted. His well-being was my number one priority. I told myself I would do it for a year. I could do anything I set my mind to. I wouldn’t get mastitis because I knew what I was doing this time. He took a bottle like a champ. At least once a day, I would try to get him to latch, either with a shield, or without. No dice. This lasted for a week. At the time, it felt like an eternity.

I had my husband drive us to Target when Rhodes was about a week old. We stayed in the car and I asked him to buy every shield that Target sold. The brand I was using wasn’t working for me. Through some internet sleuthing I found that not all shields are created equal. I still hadn’t given up. Rhodes was hungry and I didn’t have a bottle with me in the Target parking lot. I opened up one of the new shields (I didn’t sterilize it! Gasp!) and tried it. HE LATCHED! HE STAYED LATCHED. He was doing it!

We were doing it! I cried. I was convinced it was a fluke. It wasn’t. That shield saved my breastfeeding relationship with my son. I had 5 of them on hand, at all times. I had a whole drying and cleaning system for them. They were next to me on the couch, in my bed. Everywhere I was, there was a nipple shield nearby. When Rhodes got bigger, I started trying to wean him from the shield. It didn’t take long before he was nursing without it and I felt like I had won the biggest award of my life.

 

 

Rhodes is now 20 months old, and he still nurses every day with no end in sight. There are days when I feel like he’s going to twist my nipple off. There are days when he’s bitten me hard. There are days I hate breastfeeding. But the majority of days I look at him snuggled up to me, and I am so proud and happy we have come this far. We did it together.

 

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Guest Post: To the Mom Missing It All

Today's guest post comes from Jenny of Princess Turned Mom. Jenny writes a letter to the mom who feels like she's missing out.

 

“Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are THE MOST important work.” -C.S.Lewis

It often feels like we as moms are missing out on just about everything. I see the mom who leaves the work out class early because their baby is crying uncontrollably. I see the mom who is in the back of the church missing the sermon trying to entertain the toddler who refused to go into the nursery. I see the mom looking disheveled, exhausted and patience running low at the grocery store. I see these moms because I am this mom.

Here entails a short letter of sorts to the mom missing it all, or who feels like she is missing it all.

To the mom who is missing out on the hip new songs on the radio (radio; do you even remember what that is?). To the mom missing the news, any kind of news; worldly, nationally, locally, or even next door. To the mom missing clean clothes, a clean house, a clean room, a clean anything. To the mom missing the biggest blockbuster movie release. To the mom missing the girls night out or the spa day with her bestie. To the mom missing putting on her best dress and stiletto’s for date night with her hubby. To the mom missing her younger looking skin, face, or body. To the mom missing sleeping in or just sleeping at all. To the mom missing hot meals, hot showers or even hot sex (yes, I said it). To the mom who feels like she is even missing her brain at times.

To that mom, here is the truth; the only thing we might be missing, that is actually important, is the little moments with our kids. If we let ourselves dwell on the things we think we are missing that are so great, then we are bound to miss the “I did it all by myself” dance. The “I conquered a milestone” gleam. The “look at me” twirl. The “I’m a big kid now” leap. The “did you see that?” strut. These are life’s most important snapshots that we can not re-create. There will always be a big movie release you can see, the house I’m sure will be clean someday, the stilettos can always be dusted off and all the other stuff will still be waiting for you when it is the time. I can guarantee you that the moments with your children are the ones you do not want to miss. This is what life is all about right now, so soak it all in, every second, because the days may be long, but the years are oh so short!!

(I included two of my favorite moments caught on video: when our son first said “mama” and when our daughter took her first steps. Click links below to view.)

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Jenny is a retired princess navigating life as a wife and mom. Once upon a time she met her Prince Charming, fell madly in love, had two beautiful children and lived happily ever after (most of the time). Now she writes stories of motherhood; the good, the bad and the really funny over at Princess Turned Mom.

 
 

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Guest Post: Live Grow Play Austin

This week's guest post comes from Live Grow Play Austin, a new online family guide for parents and caregivers in and around Austin, Texas.

We Don’t Say Parenting Is Easy, But…

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…It Just Got A Little Easier

Whether you’re a Mom or Dad, a Grandparent or caregiver, an Austin newcomer, an expecting, first-time, or been-there-done-that parent, we are bombarded daily with a whole lot of questions and are forced to make decisions we can only hope are the best for our kids.

Questions range from which playground to take the Grandkids to today, to where to get ideas for our little one’s birthday party, to what Mommy and Me classes are available, to where to send our kids to preschool, dance class or soccer practice, to how to find the right pediatrician or specialist?

Many of us devour parenting magazines, browse through countless websites, join numerous Facebook groups in the hope to find answers to those questions and to ease our decision process.

We, just a normal Mom and Dad of two pre-school aged girls living in the outskirts of Austin, were (and still are!) in the same boat. Over the last 9 months we’ve been picking our brains and spending our nights working on a one-stop resource for Austin families that provides parents and caregivers with the information and assistance they need to help their kids live, grow, and play. 

And voila, we’re excited to introduce Live Grow Play Austin:

  • Live Grow Play Austin Directory: Find health and childcare providers, schools, camps, arts, music, sports, and other things to do in the 512. Search by age, category, and location. 
     
  • Live Grow Play Austin Ratings and Reviews: Read or leave reviews for businesses listed in the directory and contribute to making Austin’s parents’ and caregivers’ lives a little easier. 
     
  • Live Grow Play Austin Community: Ask questions, provide answers, make new friends, get the scoop, buy and sell, or just join in on the conversations of Moms and Dads and caregivers just like you.
  • Live Grow Play Austin Events Calendar: Don’t miss out on Austin’s many events for the whole family and see what your fellow Austinites think about them.

Join us and many other fellow parents in making parenting in Austin a little easier.

Helping Local Businesses and Giving Back to the Community

We love supporting local businesses (after all, we’re one of them!). That’s why our services are effective and affordable for any size business, from the Mom and Pop Shop to big business.

We offer a Free Plan which includes a free business listing in our directory with the option to upgrade to our Basic Plan or our All Access Plan which allows for many additional cool features. Review and compare the benefits of our three plans here

Nonprofit organizations receive royal treatment at no charge. In addition, at the end of the year, we will donate 5% of our annual revenue to one of Austin’s children-oriented nonprofit organizations, since we firmly believe that every child deserves to live, grow, and play.

 

Live Grow Play Austin is a new online family guide for parents and caregivers in and around Austin, Texas. Live Grow Play Austin allows users to search, find, rate, and review anything from local health and childcare providers, to schools, to activities for their little ones. In their forums users have the opportunity to ask and answer questions, share experiences, or buy and sell their no longer needed kids items. Their events calendar lists fun events hosted by businesses in their business directory. Visit their website and follow their Facebook to stay in the know!

Guest Post: the Birth of Eli

Today's guest post comes from Vanessa of FitFoodieMomLife. Vanessa shares the birth story of her son Eli, who recently celebrated his first birthday!

June 25, 2015 changed my life forever. And when I mean forever, I mean I went from a very organized, everything scheduled, never late to anything, and always on top of life, to having to plan at least an hour ahead of time just to leave the house and make it to my event only fifteen minutes late! But June 25th was also the best day of my life and I will always and forever treasure the memories and the first of everything.

Two days before my due date!

Two days before my due date!

 

June 24th: the day before my son entered this world, my husband and I went to the beach with my family. We took a beautiful long walk along the shoreline, enjoying the fresh warm summer air along with a good meal. My husband dared me to do a full-blown burpee. He knows better not to do that because I will of course do anything anyone challenges me to do. So, at 39 weeks pregnant, I got down on the beach and kicked my legs back, did a pushup, jumped my legs forward, and then jumped up. Yeah, I felt a little lightheaded but quickly felt okay again.

3:45am, June 25th: I woke up to my husband’s alarm and went to the bathroom, only to find blood on the toilet paper this time. I panicked. What was going on? My husband reassured me everything was okay and the baby was making his way into our lives. Was it that burpee? When the events suddenly fall into place, this whole birth thing sounds a lot more real. We started keeping track of contractions but they were so random and all over the place at this point. I tried to go back to sleep for a few more hours but I couldn’t. My tummy ached and my back hurt so bad. I took a shower and remembered feeling a whole lot slower that morning. Oh, I was also in the middle of finals so I grabbed my computer and worked on a research paper.

11:30am: my husband called (he went to work that morning) and asked how I was doing. I told him I was still bleeding and losing some mucus (now I know this was my mucus plug!). He decided to call it a workday and came home. My mom suggested we go for a walk around the block, but it was 95 degrees, humid as heck, and I could barely walk to the front office. All along I prayed in my mind this was the real deal and not false labor. My friend Kori came over around 1:30 and we started timing contractions and Sam kept track of their length and space in between. Around 2pm my midwife came over and checked on me. We all thought this was false labor and life would go on. I was really crossing my fingers I could get through finals. My midwife checked me around 3:30 and I was 4cm and 100% effaced. THIS WAS GOOD! I was super encouraged and was told baby would come soon. I continued to labor and breathe through my pains. The back pain killed most because it felt like someone had a knife running up and down my lower back. It was intense. I had to leave the room where my family and two midwives hung out along with my two friends. Sam and I went to the bathroom and I sat in the tub with warm water and tried to breathe through a few intense contractions. An hour later the midwife came back in and I progressed to a 9. It was now 6:30pm and my midwives suggested I sit on the toilet and labor some more. This had to be the worst pain I felt in my entire life. The gravity, the pressure, and the dull feeling in my back were unforgiving.

Proud dad with his boy!

Proud dad with his boy!

I briefly remember constantly asking, “how much longer?” The midwifes would reply back, “honey, we can’t tell you that answer. It’s up to you!” Disappointed and frustrated of course, I continued to breathe through my contractions. They were super close now and merciless. Around 8pm I moved to the bed and leaned against a few pillows. This part was actually the easiest because there was actually a two minute break. My contractions were timed at this point and I started to push around 8:20. Shortly after my water broke and splashed in my husband’s face and all over my midwife’s shirt. Talk about getting real personal! I zoned out after every push. After 15 minutes of pushing, I pushed through the last contraction. The baby popped out and Sam caught him! With one pat on the back, he screamed and everyone cheered and celebrated! Baby and I immediately did skin and skin and he latched on with just a little bit of help.

Maybe labor started because of that burpee? I don’t know. But getting to experience a drug free birth was exactly what I asked for. And if you ask me today if I remember any of the pain, I will say absolutely not. The birth was a beautiful experience and I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to labor at home.

Sweet baby Eli

Sweet baby Eli

Eli has been my biggest blessing and I’m so thankful for his little personality and cute smile!

 

I’m Vanessa, momma to handsome little Eli and wife to my hero, Samuel. We live life in the crazy fast lane but love to slowdown whenever we can and make the most out of the time we have. I love living adventures and exploring new things. Coffee, blogging, Jesus and family are my go to in life. You can read my blog, FitFoodieMomLife, or follow me on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

 

Guest Post: Form Over Function When Traveling With an Infant

Today's guest post comes from the lovely Mal Holcomb-Botts, mama to Reef. She shares her tips on traveling with an infant and mom style on what to wear while traveling.

Aloha! And welcome to Mal's form over function guide to dressing for travel with an infant. Please join me as I pinpoint areas where practicality is generally recommended for this journey, and also places where we sort of chuckle in the face of common sense. So, a few weeks ago my baby boy Reef (2 months old at the time) and I took our first trip together to the mainland. Well actually our first trip together... anywhere. Living on an island in the pacific really limits us in the trip department…

 And since it was Reef’s first time on an airplane (actually it was more like his 30th time on an airplane, but it was his first trip "on the outside";) I thought it warranted a special outfit (ok let's face it, when it comes to Reef anything from Easter to the 6th Tuesday of his life warrants a special outfit, but this one really was a big deal!)

So for this fantastic occasion I decided to be incredibly practical regarding a few things for the trip and here they are:

  1. The Baby Carrier: I had to suck it up and get rid of the one that was gifted to me for *FREE* and go and purchase a new one because while the gifted one was wonderful and got the job done when he was a bit smaller... my child (fruit of my husband’s loins, who is measuring the size of a 4 month old at the ripe old age of 2 months) is a little bit too big and it made my back feel like it was on fire. SO I purchased a new one that I am IN LOVE WITH... (The one we purchased was the Infantino Flip Advanced 4-in- 1 Carrier but more on that at another time..)
     
  2. The Diaper Bag: Now I LOVE my diaper bag. My girlfriend/wifey/female love of my life bought me my diaper bag on one lovely sunny afternoon spent up on the north shore. It is large, it has a cooler section inside it, it has an adorable print and PER MY REQUEST has almost no pockets... which is exactly how I like it for my day to day rummaging around for what I need by feel. It is not only my style but my preference.
    However, when traveling, alone, for the first time with an infant... alone... this is probably not the best plan of action. SO I got a backpack,  like a tactical/sport/hiking/rescue mission backpack with 87 pockets, waterproof lining, straps and clips and hooks and doodads and basically everything I need to be so beyond efficiently organized that I was beginning to question who I am...  (I can't even find the one I got it's so good! but here is one similar... )
     
  3. The Suitcases: There were two. Just two. And inside the just two, there was a myriad of items from a portable basinet to my electric breast pump and everything in between. This for me is one heck of a feat considering I usually have approximately two suitcases and a carry on suitcase... for myself only. Please hold while I actually physically pat myself on the back.
     
  4. The Seat Selection: Now I am a window girl through and through. With the exception of being a particularly round 6-month pregnant woman, I generally like to slap my pillow against the window curl up my legs and sleep, soundly (drunkly) for the duration of my travels. Not this time... it was aisle seats for us. I was under no illusions that this was going to be the type of trip where we do not get up. I knew we would be up and down no less than 37 times on this flight and I wanted to be able to do so with the most ease possible and the least amount of likelihood that the person next to me would shank me with their spork by the end of the trip.

This brings us back to our traveling attire. Now. It. Was. Not. Practical. In fact it is what I like to refer to as completely form over function (which is one of the main aspects of life that my husband and I can't seem to come to terms on... in case you couldn't guess... he is function, function, function and I am form, because... well, pretty!

And here it is!

OUR TRAVELING ATTIRE!

Now it was definitely a little matchy, matchy... because it is ADORABLE. (Please God don't let him grow up to hate me for this!)

Let's start with my outfit

Click on image to shop

 

And now let's move onto the little man's outfit

Click on image to shop

 

 

OK SERIOUSLY LOOK AT HIM, HE IS PERFECT!! :) As I know all of your babies are!!

Well that's our "guide" on how to dress impractically for a 10 hour flight with an infant... all in all we survived, and if you happen to take heed of our advice.. we hope you do too ;)

XOXO,

MAL & REEF


Mal Holcomb-Botts lives with her husband and baby boy on the island of Oahu in Hawaii where they have to deal with things like crystal clear ocean water and picture perfect sunsets. She is a wife, mother, sporadic blogger, self proclaimed comedian and event designer. Please join her on malcombdesign.wordpress.com as she shares a bit of truth and a little humor on marriage, motherhood and the corporate world as seen through her eyes. Basically it is just her life, one wild and precious day at a time. 


Guest Post: The Pumping Mama

Sometimes birth and breastfeeding don't go the way we want it to. It can leave a mother feeling hurt, angry, sad, disappointed, and even traumatized. Writing a letter to your health care professionals can be very cathartic and provide women a way to heal. The Pumping Mama shares her letter to her health care professionals.


To The Health Care Professionals

Thank you for letting me down.

Thank you for not reading my birth plan, for ignoring my wishes, for arguing about my care while I laid bleeding to death.

Thank you for forcing Moo to the breast, for making her first nursing experiences as traumatic as possible. Thank you for not calling on specialist help.

Thank you for noticing her tongue tie, but choosing to do nothing about it for five weeks. Thank you for not supporting me after the procedure to correct it.

Thank you for telling me to quit, that mastitis meant the end. Thank you for telling me that me being happy meant that my baby would be.

Thank you for being so unhelpful and unsupportive that my main source of advice and encouragement were strangers on the Internet.

I don't know if it's because you were so busy, understaffed, over stretched. I don't know if it's lack of training and experience. All I know is that I'm hurting, and I shouldn't be.



The Pumping Mama is proud mum to Moo, age 2. She writes about her experience as an exclusive pumper and is very open about her battles with depression. You can also find her on Facebook.

Guest Post: Yoga for Everyone!

Fun and Yoga
 
Where is the fun??? Fun is an element in adults’ lives, and even in kids’ lives, that is often neglected and dismissed as unimportant. Let’s rediscover the importance of fun and some of the benefits:
  •        It makes you happy! …and therefore healthy! Yay for endorphins!
  •        It’s a much safer environment to learn in, as opposed to fear.
  •        It helps to release tension.
  •        It creates space to explore and release unprocessed emotions.
  •        It’s a place where we learn to interact and communicate with others.
  •        While having fun we learn to play and live under certain basic rules of mutual respect.
When we have fun, we step out of ourselves… out of our worries and out of our usual thought patterns. So having fun is a kind of meditation, and a well needed one.
People need to lighten up! That’s why I love teaching kids yoga – it reminds me that life is about playing, exploring, and having fun!  In my kids yoga classes it is more important for the child to have fun than to have perfect poses or perfect balance or a perfect understanding of Sanskrit.  Those will be achieved with time but having fun in the moment of that practice and feeling great about themselves in the practice of those elements is much more important than drilling in a forced position or perfectly recited mantras in Sanskrit.

Having fun is an essential social service that needs to be administered much more often in our society.  And because fun and happiness are a social engagement, when we have good healthy fun we inevitably make other people happy too. It’s a way to promote global health and well-being. World peace, baby! Fun is simply the best way to relieve tension in any form of relationship. Fun is, of course, an attitude rather than an action.
Yoga is really a practice of attitude, actually what makes it yoga or not really is your attitude. If you do yoga poses while thinking about how much you hate someone, you are not doing yoga at all. Yoga is in the mind. Yoga is what you think rather than what you do. Yoga is WHY you do it; it is your attitude.

Happiness is an attitude too.  And like yoga, it is something that needs to be practiced.  Do something fun every day! Keep yourself busy with having fun, or in helping others be happy.  Being happy is a selfless pursuit. When you are happy you are a light in everyone’s path.  Your shared happiness is making their hearts feel lighter and their faces shine with smiles.

I’ve seen a lot of unhappy people lately in the community. I’ve been unhappy at times myself.  We all have.  It’s a kind of mood you drop into when your purpose is not clear, when you are not sure anymore why you are doing the things you are doing. It’s a valid feeling, but it’s a stupid one. It doesn’t benefit anyone, especially not yourself.

Happiness is here and now inside of you and all around you. It’s in your body and it is in the world.  It is in your child!  So come on… let’s have more fun, tap into our happy, and let it shine brightly!



Why Yoga for Kids?

Gymnastics, swimming, dance, martial arts, basketball, soccer… There are already many choices available to parents for physical, movement-based extracurricular classes for their children. What makes yoga different? And what are the benefits for yoga for children?

Yoga for kids is a fun way for children to develop important skills in a fun, non-competitive environment.
Even at a young age, children often feel pressure academically and socially. Yoga is a great remedy; there is no judgment in a yoga class about how a child does a pose or plays a game. Doing a pose ‘perfectly’ is not the aim of yoga.  The aim of yoga is to nurture a child’s inner strength and self-acceptance.

This nourishing atmosphere encourages children to relax and have fun while they develop not only strength, coordination, flexibility and balance, but also body awareness, better focus and concentration, and self-confidence.

In Winks & Wiggles Yoga classes, there is a balance between spontaneity and structure, so that children learn to listen to themselves and each other as well as express themselves creatively. Interweaving story, song, games and poses, children learn in a multi-sensory environment, exploring kinesthetic, visual, and auditory learning.
But what makes yoga classes different from other movement-based activities incorporating music and games, like Gymborees? Besides the immense physical and mental benefits, a central principle of yoga practice is respect and honor: for ourselves, for each other, and our environment.
 In a yoga class, children can go on a magical journey around the world, and learn about many cultures and places. Since many of the yoga poses are of animals, children also learn about nature, different animal habitats, endangered species, and even recycling!
Yoga is a holistic practice, with an inner as well as outer focus. But most importantly for kids, yoga is fun!

Want to try out a Winks & Wiggles Yoga class?  Well, you can! First class FREE!
Join Winks & Wiggles at two locations:
N. Ft Worth/Keller on Heritage Trace Parkway and Southwest Fort Worth on South Hulen Street. 
Check them out on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/winksandwiggles.signandyoga

Guest Post: The Tata Tirade

After surviving four months of bed-rest and a completelyunmedicated childbirth (not so much as a blood draw or IV during labor and delivery), it was time to tame a whole new animal: breastfeeding. Throughout my pregnancy, women were more than happy to share their "horror" stories of birth, but no one breached the subject of nursing...I was left to discover the ups and downs of Boobie Town myself.

From Day One latching was a problem. My sweet son was much more interested in sleeping than eating. Several different nurses and two different hospital lactation consultants instructed me to work through the pain and gave me techniques on how to wake him up to feed. I figured the first few weeks would be uncomfortable, but I never imagined the amount of pain I'd be in trying to feed my baby. He lost ten percent of his birth weight in two days, so before I left the hospital I already had an appointment with a lactation consultant for the next day for a consult and weight check. After the consult and weigh-in, the LC told me to go home, pump, and bottle-feed; she also let me know supplementing with formula was next on the list. 

At his one week check-up, the pediatrician encouraged me to supplement with formula - which I did. Honestly, I was happy to have that advice. By this time, my nipples were cracked and bleeding...the word "sore" didn't begin to describe my pain level. Compared to breastfeeding, drug-free childbirth was a walk in the park. I decided to nurse him during the day, then pump and feed (supplementing with formula) during the night. In spite of the few hours of boob-rest throughout the night, the pain was incredibly intense as soon as he latched on the next morning - like nursing a snapping turtle. His weight was still an issue, and at his two week follow-up, the pediatrician said, "Breastfeeding works for some, but not others. It's time to switch to formula." 

I was equally relieved and devastated at his words. He had given me permission to release myself from the incredibly painful ordeal of nursing, but I felt so guilty and inadequate as a mother. My body was made to feed babies - how and why was it failing me?! I went home and cried. As much as I wanted to give up, my stubborn personality wouldn't let me. Had the doctor never told me to quit, I probably would have given up on my own soon after because of the unbelievable, constant pain. However, I'm the type of person who doesn't like to be told "No." After receiving much-needed encouragement from a small circle of fellow nursing mothers, I decided to press on...even after he vomited blood. For those who haven't experienced it, watching your baby vomit blood is quite an unsettling experience. Realizing he'd been drinking a fifty-fifty milk-blood blend was even more unsettling. 

I started researching reasons that nursing would be painful. I called and emailed lactation consultants outside of the hospital. I reached out to other women who'd experienced issues. Through my own devices, I figured out my sweet boy was tongue and lip tied. Fortunately, we had a friend whose daughter was tongue and lip tied and had already gone through the procedure; her advice and encouragement were invaluable. On my own, I set up a consult with a pediatric dentist. When I brought up the issue with my son’s pediatrician, the doctor shrugged it off and said, "Who told you that?" as if I had been misinformed or didn't know what I was talking about. He never even looked at my son's mouth...even after I told him I'd set up a consult with a pediatric dentist and that an LC said he had severe ties. Once I realized the pain of nursing was not temporary, I quit putting him to my breast and focused on pumping. I lost sleep. I shed tears. I came to hate the sound of my pump. Time pumping was time not spent snuggling and taking care of my newborn. 

Finally, the day of the laser procedure came. I was so excited my son's mouth would be fixed and that we'd be able to experience pain-free nursing! The pediatric dentist and his assistant assured me that he would be able to achieve a successful latch just minutes after the procedure. Well, minutes after the procedure I received a sleepy, swollen-mouthed five-week-old who was not interested in anything but being snuggled and NOT using his sore mouth. Understandable. A few hours later, the miraculous latch and comfortable nursing were still nowhere to be found. Turns out, it would take a few more weeks for him to figure out what to do with his "new" mouth. After all, he'd developed those sucking patterns in the womb. 




He was seven weeks old before I could say nursing was no longer painful. I still couldn't call it comfortable, and it definitely wasn't efficient. At eight weeks old, we had a better experience - much less pain, mostly comfortable, and a little more efficient. My supply took a huge hit because he never was able to latch and empty my breasts for over a month, and the original pump I used contributed to my low supply.

By his ninth weekI was nursing and pumping... still supplementing with formula half of the timeWhen he was four months old, we were nursing eighty percent of the time, and I was pumping and supplementing the rest of the time. At that point, I could say nursing was completely enjoyable! At five months old, we went on a road trip to Oklahoma City, and I didn’t pack any formula, bottles, or my breast pump. By the time six months rolled around, he began refusing bottles and pacifiers –although slightly inconvenient, I see it as a major breastfeeding milestone. My son is now sixteen months old, and we have a wonderful nursing relationship! I am indebted to those women who came alongside me and encouraged me throughout our struggles.

To all of you mothers who are struggling to nurse your precious baby: IT GETS BETTER! To those who have given upLET GO OF THE MOM GUILT! Fighting for a successful nursing relationship was the most difficult thing I've ever done  but it is hands-down the absolute most rewarding experience of my life.

Robin is mom to a happy and active 16 month old nursling. This was originally posted on her blog, Robin's Nest











Guest Post: TPC

I’m a busy mom. I’m a stylist, have 4 boys, husband, and a damn dog.

I also breastfeed. My youngest is almost 3 months old and my 2 year old just weaned. So, if you add it up, I have been nursing and having someone all up in my business for the past 30 months. I’m a bit of a hippie, and believe that a baby will wean his/herself when they’re ready. In the mean time I pump when I can’t be home to nurse.

If you know me, you see me carrying around my “sexy” Louie Vuitton bag with my pump stowed away, ever so neatly. Hey, a girl's gotta be stylin', even if it's her pump bag.

I was at work the other day, pumping as usual. I was doing ml routine….TPC. You know how Jersey Shore has GTL [Gym-Tan-Laundry]? Well, I have Text-Pin-Creep.
What’s this, you ask?

T=Text
I catch up on my texting. These days, this is how my clients communicate with me. Sometimes it’s a pain, but it works out well when my pump is laying down some sick beats. They don’t have to hear it and visualize my nipples being sucked into the horns and looking like caterpillars.

P=Pinterest
After I text everyone, I get my pinterest on. Oh Pinterest, how I love thee!!!! If I had all the time in the world, I would spend it doing all of the cool-ASS crafts and baking, all of the thigh thrashing meals that I pin.

C=Creeping
Lastly, once my texting and pinning is complete, I do a little Facebook creeping. I scroll through and even read all of the lame-ass posts. “I just cleaned my kitchen!” – really? You want a friggin' gold star? I especially despise the song lyrics. Seriously people?

While I was getting my TPC on, I noticed a warm sensation on my lap. My bottles were overflowing!!!! I don’t know about you, buy I cry over spilt milk. I scrambled to turn off my pump and salvage as much as I could while I sobbed and sobbed. It spilt on my lap, the chair I was sitting in, and on the floor. I was very tempted to wipe the puddle off the floor and squeeze it back into the bottle. I quickly came to my senses, remembered I was, in fact, in a salon and decided that wasn’t a great idea.


I managed to clean up my mess, but I had a lovely wet spot on my jeans. I got to spend the rest of the day explaining to my clients what it was and why it was there. I’ll be more careful next time I TPC while pumping!


This is a guest post from Kacie: busy stylist, mom to 4 boys, and a breastfeeding bad ass. You can read about the birth of her "Birdy" at Texas Boy Mom or have her do your hair if you live in the Burleson, TX area