Walking in the Lord's Grace day by day....


Looking back on the hardest year of my life

I can't believe that I haven't posted since our sons birth story. To be honest there just wasn't space. But in planning my 2016 Goals, I feel like I still have had to come to terms with the 2014-2015 of our life. I wrote this email to a Lactation Consultant as an overview of what our first 10.5 months looked and I thought it was a great overview. I just have to post here to remember how incredibly hard what we went through was, but that God was faithful even though he was distant during this time. Also to give hope to anyone that might feel alone like I did during this.

Now I know looking back I probably would do things differently, but I can say from the depths of my soul I gave every ounce that I have and did the best I could with what I had, in my clouded and extremely sleep deprived state. 

HISTORY | Written May 16th 2015 |

First, I had an extremely challenging 51 hour labor. I still was able to have him vaginally but I was completely out of it for the next 4 days after Cal was born and honestly haven't gotten a full nights rest since last June 2014. As you know we have been working with Teresa and sleep has been a constant completely debilitating part of our parent hood especially motherhood for me. 

Anyways rewind to the hospital, I invited many LC's into our room as I have a size 34 MM chest I knew it would be a bit challenging. I noticed a lip tie and the LC confirmed and they clipped it before we went home. My milk didn't come in due to my body's pure exhaustion for 4ish days as I still wasn't sleeping as Cal was screaming constantly hungry. I called the hospital just in distress and the nurse made me promise to go get 2hrs of rest at least and my milk should come in and she was right. 

Nursing in the early days was challenging with the size of my breasts and having to hold two hands to get it right. My left boob is quite larger than right and it was tricky, but all reasonably normal figuring it out. Finding a nursing bra was the worst experience ever, over 7 stores, $2500 spend on Amazon to find one that fit (praise the Lord for free returns), I had a custom one made at Nordstroms, still the only one I have that doesn't cause problems. Ooffda!

I am a wedding photographer and had a wedding 4.5 weeks after Cal was born, so introducing a bottle late 2 weeks or early 3 was important except that pumping was super hard for me and was a big stress. I tried and tried, then got the hospital grade pump and different flanges and things were going well. My first big event went well and Cal took bottle and came back to breast easily. We would always feed in a chair or on a couch as side lying didn't work well with him and Cal would never settle co-sleeping. The only one thing at all in those days was that Cal seemed to nurse much better when he was angry, crying. When it was casual it seemed like he never worked hard enough to nurse. 

My next wedding back was at able 3.5 months and Cal went on a nursing strike for the next weekish and the only way I could get him to nurse was bouncing on a stability ball fully swaddled and latching on there with a boppy and then I would try my dangdest to move to a chair once he was on. It was so incredibly stressful and hard. This was the first time I realized that he was a different nurser than any of my friends. From here on out I scheduled nothing the day after my weddings or big events to really recalibrate nursing and it took some work, but it was better than that first week. I honestly didn't know what to do and why my baby would refuse that early.  

October hits and Cal is starting to wake every 1.5 hours and only taking 27 minute naps during the day, he from birth screamed till the point of being blue in the car and we are extremely exhausted and trying all that we can do to manage the situation. Doctors, sleep coaches, it was incredibly hard getting up 8-16 times a night to feed him. I got my period back this month only 4 months after birth while full breastfeeding, no supplementing. I was also pumping during the morning nap if I got one to build supply. 

We went through 2 months of trying to figure this out but failing and just becoming more and more discouraged and sleep deprived than I already was. I was often only getting 30 minutes of sleep at a time. I still don't know how I survived that. My doctor ruled out reflux and wanted to try to put him on formula for a full week (while I pumped) to see if it was something in my milk, but my gut said that Cal would completely stop nursing if we went that route. 

On December 13th, I cut out all dairy, soy, wine, eggs, caffeine or chocolate and had already not had gluten or  (as I have been gluten free for years.) as we were going to try our first sleep training method and I just couldn't cope unless I knew nothing in his tummy was making the difference. He responded reasonably well right away and we were getting 3-4 hour stretches back that we hadn't had since he was 2-3 months old. I do believe dairy was the big culprits as well as eggs, and soy. The hope was that I would back food as sleep improved. Yet, nothing has impoved completely so honestly I am terrified. To add much back in, for the last 6 months I have eaten the same things and I just feel like until we are done, done then I will feel better about trying food again. 

Yet, also around the October time Cal was way too distracted to nurse during the daytime or is awake time. The only way if it was light out I could nurse him was on all fours with my breasts hanging above him or sometimes side lying, but it was incredibly stressful he never would work hard enough and I knew there was milk there as I could hand express. I just went with it and tried my best to hold toys, have necklaces do anything to keep his attention, but his only real great feedings were and still are when he is sleepy. 

In January, I decided that pumping after a feeding during his nap was the best choice as it was emotionally hard and just so tough to nurse him during the awake times. He especially wouldn't nurse well 4pm to bedtime. So I was and still am pumping during morning nap and afternoon nap to get enough milk to fill him up. Also, Teresa wanted to make sure we could see/control the amount of milk going in him!

We do see a strong correlation to wakes around my period, and until this month I would see a drastic drop in supply for usually the week before and a 4 days in. We usually see a huge sleep regression around this time waking every hour for a week or so and it just throws off everything. This month I finally think I could the right amount of supplements to take daily too keep me going, but it's still not perfect. 


So my current supplements I am taking 3 times a day. Took from April-September 2015

2 Sunflower Letchin (I started taking this early Jan and it super helped Cal being a bit more interested in the breast, maybe helping fatty milk come out easier?)
3 Go Lacta
2 Goats Rue
1 Calcium/Mag supplement 1500/750 a day or a little more. (I finally got my dosing right this last two months and I think it has been really helping)
Fish Oils

I also do mothers milk tea here and there, but I can't do oats as they make me feel super sick. 

Right now our feeding and my pumping schedule is. (after midnight) Jan-September 2015

1:30-4am range
Nurses Usually nurses for 12-15 minutes. (trying to wean this down to closer to 4am with sleep training intervals which is proving tricky)

5:30-7:30am range
Nurses for 15-20 minutes (on a good nights sleep this is upon wake, this last week he did the first two times ever, nursed well upon wake, I still feed him in a dark room with sound machine. 

8:00-8:30am range
 One hour after wake he eats. 1/3-1/2 avocado, rotisserie chicken usually 1/4 cup and prunes and some banana.

9:30-10:30am range
Nurse to sleep before nap  1. 10-12 minutes (This I just have started to do as he has been refusing more and I know the end is near, for months 4-9 I would nurse if he would latch and then rewake and put in crib to sleep train. 

PUMP 1 (1-3.5 ounces) I pump during nap 1. Usually 15-30 minutes as it's really hard for me to let down. I yield anywhere from 1 ounce to 3.5 ounces, it's different everyday. 

12 or 12:30pm range One hour and a half after wake he eats. 1/3-1/2 avocado, rotisserie chicken usually 1/4 cup and prunes and some banana again and I try to sneak in 1-2 ounces of pumped milk here. He honestly always drinks bottles in sips so hard work. 

1:30-2:40pm range 
Nurse to sleep for nap 2. 10-12 minutes. 

PUMP 2(1-3.5 ounces)
I pump during nap 2. Usually 15-30 minutes as it's really hard for me to let down. I yield anywhere from 1 ounce to 3.5 ounces, it's different everyday. 

3:15-4:15 pm range 
He wakes and we try to get some ounces in before his next feedings at 4:30pm. Not always successful. 
He honestly always drinks bottles in sips.

Eats 1/3-1/2 avocado, rotisserie chicken usually 1/4 cup and prunes and some banana.

We try hard to get him bottles at this time, but he is just not interested, but we still go for it and try to get at least 2-3 ounces here even though it's a full time job. He honestly always drinks bottles in sips. 

PUMP 3(1.-3.5 ounces)
I try to pump during somewhere btw 5-6pm. Usually 15-30 minutes as it's really hard for me to let down. I yield anywhere from 1 ounce to 3.5 ounces, it's different everyday. 

7:35 Bedtime
Cal is now refusing to nurse no matter what at bedtime. (we have tried cutting out all bottles after last meal) nothing works, he is now drinking anywhere from 3.5-5.5 ounces at bedtime. This is the ONLY time he will sit and drink a bottle in it's entirety and we even have to do some songs to get him to finish the last sips.

PUMP 4(2.-4.5 ounces)
I try to pump during somewhere after bedtime. Usually 15-30 minutes as it's really hard for me to let down. I yield anywhere from 2 ounce to 4.5 ounces, it's different everyday. 

He shouldn't eat until 12pm or later, but with some travel and crazy teething and such we will have add a feed here otherwise he screams for hours. This is our constant battle.

PUMP 5 (1.-2.5 ounces)
I try to pump during somewhere around 10pm to meet the amount that he drank. Usually 15-30 minutes as it's really hard for me to let down. I yield anywhere from 1.5-2.5 ounces.  it's different everyday. 

I honestly can't believe we made it through 8 months of a feeding schedule like this, it feels crazy. Crazy to think that I cut all of the foods out for close to 10 months. Crazy to look back at. While our son started sleeping a bit better once he hit 13 months. Goodness y'all, sometimes babies are just hard! I love you and I am here for you to pray and give you any support or resources I can.

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