Positive Breastfeeding Experiences

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Okay, Lil G is almost 9 weeks old, and I’ve got to say, I’ve been eating my words. While I don’t LOVE breastfeeding, I am growing, again, to appreciate the little noises he makes as he suckles happily. The way his little arm flails around as he tries desperately to get as much milk as he can as quickly as he can. And the little sleepy smile he gives when he is finally satisfied.

I’ve got to say that I’ve never had any particularly negative public breastfeeding experiences, but on Monday I had a sweetly positive one while quietly drinking coffee at a French bakery near Potamus’ daycare. There were these two older couples there, the first old man was cooing over Lil G, and I could tell it was genuine in his affection. Lil G was hungry, so I began feeding him under my nursing cover (something I do sometimes, but not all the time), when the second man came up with their order of pastries. We were all chatting and then he asked, “are you breastfeeding?” “Yes,” I said, smiling, and he gave me a big thumbs up as he bit into his croissant.

It was one of those happy little moments of acknowledgment that makes me happy in a world full of negative breastfeeding stories.

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Babywearing FTW

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Of course in my obsession to foster attachment with Potamus (which, let’s be honest, was really in order for ME to foster attachment to HIM), I looked up all the attachment parenting tricks, and eagerly dove in to babywearing. In fact, Potamus slept on my chest or in my shirt for the first two to three weeks of his life, and from then on he was held pretty constantly, either by me, or by Boof when I wasn’t around. I don’t want to think that is the reason he’s 4 and won’t sleep without us…but, I digress.

I used the Moby at first, because when you see mainstream babywearing, the Moby and Ergo are the two go-tos. Baby Bjorn is considered sinful and a “crotch dangler,” but we inherited a hand me down version that Boof liked wearing with Potamus for awhile. But I did the Moby. I found it clunky and hard to wear. Then I used the Ergo, when he was old enough to hold up his head. It was great, except I’m only a shade too tall for it, so it didn’t quite sit on my hips right.

And then I found a sling.

It was a used sling, and it was great for hitching Potamus up on my hip for walks around the neighborhood. I used it well into his toddler years, and so with Lil G I decided to get myself a sling from the get go. I did a little online research, and went with Tula Baby ring sling, despite its price tag. And I LOVE it.

At first it felt a little stiff, but after I wore it once or twice, I was in heaven. It is so easy to wear, easier than the slightly padded hand me down I had used with Potamus. It’s super easy to put him in it, bee bop around the house or doing errands, and it has been a lifesaver with a 4 year old. I can easily strap Lil G in the sling, and play soccer with Potamus, or cook dinner, etc. While I’m not loving breastfeeding this time around, I’m loving babywearing more than ever!

Step Into the Sunshine

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There’s something about a confession that leaves even just the slightest bit of room for a shift. I wrote in my last post, I hate Breastfeeding┬áthat the second time around, I am hating the whole breastfeeding process. It felt good to say. And it’s not entirely true, anymore. It was true then. It’s not true today. I’m okay with that.

Maybe it’s the sunshine, or the fact that my nipples are mostly healing, or that it’s week 5 and we’ve settled into a little bit of a routine, but I don’t hate nursing today. I don’t love it. I don’t feel the necessity of it in the way I felt with Potamus. I feel ambiguous about future weaning, but I feel ambiguous about a lot of future events (like him starting daycare at 6 months old). But today I don’t hate breastfeeding, not in the sunshine, in my backyard, with this sweet lil G man.

I Hate Breastfeeding: 2nd Baby Confession

12496528_10100828356823473_3734553706941214189_oWhen Potamus was born, I struggled for the first 7 weeks to get breastfeeding down. I had overactive letdown, oversupply, and there’s a picture that will never make it to the internet where my areola was bigger than his face. It was a struggle, including one 8 hour sleeping stint leaving him too weak to nurse, even with the nipple shield, where I was sobbing and spoon feeding milk into his mouth while Boof was on the phone with La Leche league. Rough.

And then, when I went back to work, he reverse cycled. And until he self-weaned the night before he turned two, I nursed him all.night.long. It was rough. But I enjoyed it, for the most part. It was what made me a MOM, and I fully recognize that all of my obsession with bonding and attachment were due to my own adoption trauma and while I sometimes resented that I was the only one who could feed him, I was also glad that I was the only one who could feed him. I was mom. Nobody else could take that role.

Now, with Lil G, I’m struggling. It feels very reminiscent of the pregnancy, where, with Potamus it was all glowy and mama goddess, and then with #2 I hated it. Having had mastitis, which left me feeling like shit and ramped up my anxiety to almost agoraphobic levels, paired with nipple trauma, a clipped tongue and lip tie, disorganized suck, on top of parenting a 4 year old who is struggling with the loss of his Universe/Mama to the demands of his new brother, I am thisclose to throwing in the towel on breastfeeding. I had already resigned myself to weaning or partially weaning around 6 months when I go back to work, because I loathe pumping, but part of me feels like the women who allow themselves the option of pain meds during labor and then request them 5 minutes in.

Because, you see, breastfeeding the first go round was for me. I was recently talking to my sister-in-law, who’s exclusively pumping for my niece after a rough start breastfeeding, about how I think that is the hardest route to go. And that if I had to pump I would just use formula, because for me breastfeeding was about the ease and the bonding, not about the nutrition. I nursed for me, not for my baby. Maybe that’s selfish to admit, but it’s true. I needed to feel the bond. I needed to be needed in that way. I needed to nurse to make me a mother the first go round.

But now I am a mother. Now, when Lil Go was born, and I stared into his sweet face, I felt the deep love that I knew nothing could replace. I AM his mom. Nothing will make me anything less than his mom. Nothing will take away my deep love for him. And so I stare at the two free cans of formula on the top of my fridge and think…what if…what if?

It’s only been 4.5 weeks with this little guy, and a struggle, so I don’t want to make a decision out of difficulty. I know I will give it more time, but I also want to enjoy my baby, enjoy time with Potamus, and not dread every feeding. I don’t want to plug my ears when he starts his 5th fussing of the night, pretending for just 5 more minutes that he doesn’t need my barely healing nipples. And the thought of someone else in the future being able to feed him, while I’m a bridesmaid in a wedding, or out at a yoga class, feels so refreshing that I want to skip around in the sunshine. Does that make me a terrible person?

Perhaps in 5 months, when I’m truly weaning (currently my goal is to give formula at daycare, and nurse on off hours), I’ll feel nostalgic and sad that I didn’t extend breastfeeding like with Potamus. Or maybe I’ll feel relief. Can I do something completely different with Baby #2 and still be a rockin’ awesome mom? I think so. I love all the moments with this baby…except when he’s attached to my boob…

One Month: Tongue Tie

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After 3 weeks of nipple pain, a bout of mastitis, and a visit with my lactation consultant friend, and a lot of Googling, it was determined that Lil G had a posterior tongue tie and an upper lip tie. I hemmed and hawed for about a week, hoping my nipples would heal, and that the ratio of painful latching to non-painful latching would become more balanced, that he’d get bigger, and everything would be peachy…I realized that it wasn’t going to happen. And so I made an appointment with a naturopathic doc who specializes in tongue ties.

I am SO glad I made that decision. Already, only 24 hours post op, the nursing pain has decresed incredibly. Could I finally be healing? And, “oh yes, this is what nursing should feel like,” goes through my mind when he latches on. Sure, it wasn’t a miracle cure, yet, as he needs to still work on his sucking mechanics, but overall I am feeling so much hope for the future of nursing this lil dude. He turns a month tomorrow, and I can’t believe it! Flying by!

How Yoga and Breastfeeding Prepared Me for My First Tattoo

I’ve wanted a tattoo forever, and as you know, from this post, foxes hold a special place in our family. I think of them as a spirit animal of sorts, (which maybe means I should change the title from Coyote Mother, to Fox Mother? Haha). So what better inspiration for my first tattoo, than a fox?

I trolled around on pinterest for aproximately 100 years to find the right inspiration (there are a lot of ugly ass foxes out there on people’s bodies), and settle on this beautiful illustration to serve as the basis for my tattoo!

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A rib tattoo for my first tattoo? Heck yeah baby! I headed on up to Two Birds Tattoo, a lovely all-female shop in Seattle. My lovely tattoo artist, Tarah, was initially hesitant to tattoo me on my ribs, since it was my first tattoo, but my confidence in my ability to manage the pain convinced her. As I laid there on my side, with my arm over my head for two hours, I told her that my experience breastfeeding my son prepared me for those moments. Because truthfully, the pain of my arm being wrenched into a strange position was more painful than the actual tattooing. I really enjoyed the process of the outlining, and only found myself flinching in the shading on more tender areas (which, surprisingly, were around my stretch marks and not so much on my actual ribs). I’ve spent so much time lying in uncomfortable positions over the past two years that a few hours on a tattoo table was nothing!

I took little sips of air, breathing through my nose. Tarah said that she has noticed a trend with people who practice yoga, that they tolerate the pain better, especially in the ribs area. I told her that if her other clients ever needed to know why, it’s because nose breathing actually calms the nervous system and helps override the fight/flight panic of adrenaline. I told her that I was basically tricking my body into thinking I was ‘okay’ even though my brain was probably like ‘ouch, pain, run away, you’re being attacked!’ She thought that was such great advice, and would pass it on to clients who needed something to focus on.

I think I’m hooked. I had such a great experience, and love the tattoo so much, that I am already planning on another…

The Dead Cat in the Freezer

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It’s during the deep freeze of winter, and your favorite cat dies. They lived a good long life, and it came to an end, peacefully, naturally, and you want to honor their life. But the ground is frozen solid. And so, with a pioneer wagon train spirit, you bundle the sweetly sleeping-looking kitty, and bundle it up in a bag and stick it in the freezer. In the spring, when the ground thaws, you’ll have a proper burial. There’ll be a shoebox and a eulogy, and a bouquet of catnip on the mound of fresh dirt in the backyard. Maybe some rocks or a stick lashed cross will adorn the little grave. But it’s winter now, and so you wait.

But the space in the freezer fills up. Groceries from Costco are bought, things re-arranged, and time gets away from you. Spring comes, and passes, and suddenly it’s Fall and you remember the cat-in-the-back of the freezer and think ‘well now’s not a good time, it’s almost winter. plus I’d have to take everything out to get to him,” and then the pain is fresh and real again and you think next spring. That’ll be the date for sure. And maybe it will. Or maybe five years will pass. I don’t know.

And I haven’t actually had a cat since college, and he ended up living with a friend’s aunt, and I doubt is in their freezer, but when the New Year rolled around, and we were officially weaned for two weeks, and I thought back to the two times our freezer has thawed since Potamus was born I really thought to myself:

“It’s time to get rid of those bags of milk. They aren’t good anymore. They haven’t been good for awhile now.”

He only ever took a few bottles. And we mixed some in with yogurt around 9 mos of age, but he was exclusively breastfeed…and not always by choice. He refused the bottle. Screamed his ever loving head off any time anybody got close to him with it. He knew what he wanted, and mama’s milk straight from the tap was it. Stubborn as a mule that one!

But I kept pumping. Long past the point where he would ever switch to taking a bottle. I did it out of an animalistic need to provide and seeing the ounces fill the bags that he wouldn’t use was somehow satisfying. I tried to donate some to a friend but my freezer thawed and most of it spoiled and then it re-froze and has been sitting there, labelled with love, for now two years.

It’s time to bury the cat.