"Hold your baby's hand instead of a bottle"

The WINNERS for the ItzBeen have been announced! Check back later for the next giveaway!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Need a laugh? 11 Lessons in Parenthood!

Okay so this isn't breastfeeding related, but it's hilarious and hits so close to home that I have to share!

Lesson 1
1. Go to the grocery store.
2. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.
3. Go home.
4. Pick up the paper.
5. Read it for the last time.

Lesson 2
Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who already are parents and berate them about their...

1. Methods of discipline.
2. Lack of patience.
3. Appallingly low tolerance levels.
4. Allowing their children to run wild.
5. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's breastfeeding, sleep habits, toilet training, table manners, and overall behavior.

Enjoy it because it will be the last time in your life you will have all the answers.

Lesson 3
A really good way to discover how the nights might feel...

1. Get home from work and immediately begin walking around the living room from 5PM to 10PM carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly. (Eat cold food with one hand for dinner)
2. At 10PM, put the bag gently down, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep.
3. Get up at 12 and walk around the living room again, with the bag, until 1AM.
4. Set the alarm for 3AM.
5. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2AM and make a drink and watch an infomercial.
6. Go to bed at 2:45AM.
7. Get up at 3AM when the alarm goes off.
8. Sing songs quietly in the dark until 4AM.
9. Get up. Make breakfast. Get ready for work and go to work (work hard and be productive)

Repeat steps 1-9 each night. Keep this up for 3-5 years. Look cheerful and together.

Lesson 4
Can you stand the mess children make? T o find out...

1. Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains.
2. Hide a piece of raw chicken behind the stereo and leave it there all summer.
3. Stick your fingers in the flower bed.
4. Then rub them on the clean walls.
5. Take your favorite book, photo album, etc. Wreck it.
6. Spill milk on your new pillows. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?

Lesson 5
Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems.

1. Buy an octopus and a small bag made out of loose mesh.
2. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hang out.

Time allowed for this - all morning.

Lesson 6
Forget the BMW and buy a mini-van. And don't think that you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don't look like that.

1. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment.
Leave it there.
2. Get a dime. Stick it in the CD player.
3. Take a family size package of chocolate cookies. Mash them into the back seat. Sprinkle cheerios all over the floor, then smash them with your foot.
4. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.

Lesson 7 (this one is my favorite since I have two "goats")
Go to the local grocery store. Take with you the closest thing you can find to a pre-school child. (A full-grown goat is an excellent choice). If you intend to have more than one child, then definitely take more than one goat. Buy your week's groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys. Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.

Lesson 8
1. Hollow out a melon.
2. Make a small hole in the side.
3. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side.
4. Now get a bowl of soggy Cheerios and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane.
5. Continue until half the Cheerios are gone.
6. Tip half into your lap. The other half, just throw up in the air.

You are now ready to feed a nine- month-old baby.

Lesson 9Learn the names of every character from Sesame Street , Barney, Disney, the Teletubbies, and Pokemon. Watch nothing else on TV but PBS, the Disney channel or Noggin for at least five years. (I know, you're thinking What's 'Noggin'?) Exactly the point.

Lesson 10
Make a recording of Fran Drescher saying 'mommy' repeatedly. (Important: no more than a four second delay between each 'mommy'; occasional crescendo to the level of a supersonic jet is required). Play this tape in your car everywhere you go for the next four years. You are now ready to take a long trip with a toddler.

Lesson 11Start talking to an adult of your choice. Have someone else continually tug on your skirt hem, shirt- sleeve, or elbow while playing the 'mommy' tape made from Lesson 10 above. You are now ready to have a conversation with an adult while there is a child in the room.

This is all very tongue in cheek; anyone who is parent will say 'it's all worth it!' Share it with your friends, both those who do and don't have kids. I guarantee they'll get a chuckle out of it. Remember, a sense of humor is one of the most important things you'll need when you become a parent!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Celebrities Breastfeeding!

When a family member told me that I shouldn't feel pressure to nurse because it's some new trend, I told him that it wasn't like I was the only one who wanted to breastfeed my baby. I explained that my sister in law, her friend, my best friend, my UNCC friend, and her best friend all exclusively breastfed their babies. He then asked me the infamous and ridiculous question: if all of my friends jumped off a bridge would I do it too? He went on to say that I shouldn't have to breastfeed just because my friends are doing it! Looking back I don't know what the big deal was or why it would matter to anyone else that I wanted to breastfeed my own baby. But if you are feeling alone and don't know anyone in your circle of family and friends who chose to breastfeed and need to know you're not the only one doing it, check out these celebrities who also breastfed their babies:

A list of breastfeeding actresses:

A video of Salma Hayek nursing another woman's hungry baby while in Africa!

Jennifer Garner nurses daughter Violet for 14 months!

Christina Aguilera thanks breastfeeding for her slim figure

Celine Dion talks about nursing challenges

Brad photographs Angelina Jolie while nursing her twins

Kourtney Kardashian's views on breastfeeding

Kerri Russell says breastfeeding is miraculous for the figure

Orlando Bloom's wife Miranda Kerr proudly poses for pic while nursing their newborn baby

Celebrities talking about breastfeeding

And there's so many more out there! I hope it makes you feel better to know some of your favorite celebrities breastfed their baby too!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Great Kid Stuff...To Love Again! Do-Overz!

For all you South Florida Mommies check out children's retail and consignment boutique Do-Overz!

5785 S. University Drive, Davie, FL 33328.
954 530 5364

And check them out on Facebook mention my blog and receive 20% off your next consigned purchase up to $50!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The downsides to breastfeeding...

Okay so a few of my friends / relatives formula feed, and I have to admit that as much as say I am "pro-breastfeeding" I'm also a little jealous of moms who are able to feed their baby formula. I've been honest with you about everything else so I'm going to share the downside to breastfeeding. I've promised to give you all the pros, but here are the cons:

1. Since something like 70% of women try to breastfeed but only 40% are still nursing at 4 weeks this would indicate that women want to do it but can't. So not only does breastfeeding add pressure and stress for a new mom to figure out how to do it, but it really hurts in the beginning. Though the pain is only initial, it still sucks when you're already recovering from birth to have to endure any extra pain, multiple times a day and throughout the night.

2. When you're recovering and all you want to do is sleep and rest, you're the only one who can feed baby (at least until you're able to pump) and there were many times when I hated my husband because he didn't have breasts or a bottle of formula.

3. You and baby are dependent on each other. Things like having to have surgery or fears about getting in a car accident or something that keeps you from baby are extremely scary and difficult for mom and baby. It can be overwhelming once you realize you are your baby's only life source. This dependency also means if you want to go out for any extended period of time you have to bring a pump. Because I make the commitment to nurse for one year, that means I have to tell family and friends that I can't join them for weekends away or drop off the baby for a baby-free weekend with the hubby (which I'm DYING for!!). I can't even go see the newest Harry Potter movie without my husband texting me "The baby needs you!!!!!!" 20 minutes before it's over. Of course, as soon as I think about my baby needing to nurse, my milk comes in and now I'm engorged and ready to burst. It's hard to even run to the store when every time I leave the baby I'm filled with anxiety over getting back to him asap (I know some moms who can pump and baby takes bottle, mine gags and throws up whenever he sucks on even a pacifier so bottles are no help to me).

4. Every time baby cries you become the human paci, and if you're not giving baby a bottle then all you're going to hear from dad is, "the baby wants YOU" and baby will always be your deal to calm down (though in dad's defense it is easier for mom to just nurse baby then for dad to bounce, walk, and rock him).

5. It's easier to feed baby a bottle in public or around company than to hide under an udder cover and nurse.

6. Your formula feeding mommy friends / relatives not only have freedom to leave baby whenever they wish and allow others to feed him / her but they don't have to wear nursing bras, and nursing pads and worry about engorgement and milk leaking.

7. If baby is colicky you worry it's something you ate and because you can't see how much baby gets when he nurses you'll always wonder if he's getting enough (at least until you become secure in your body and know how your diet affects baby).

8. Some breastfed babies sleep through the night at 2 weeks old (this sounds crazy but it's true, my best friend's second child is proof - 10-12 hours straight, every night for 5 months now) but if your baby is up every hour or two and you admit this to anyone they will tell you the baby needs a bottle of formula. Breastmilk is rapidly digested so traditionally they need to nurse more often - and this really sucks at night time.

9. Maybe my experience is not the norm, but I felt like there was a lot of pressure to formula feed from everyone (nurses, doctors, family & friends, even from strangers!) and so I got teased a lot for being "so stubborn about breastfeeding."

10. Although breastmilk will most likely never be "recalled" I have to point out that at my pediatricians office I noticed a sign on the door about a nipple cream that about how Mommy's Bliss had been recalled! The reasons for the recall:
"Potentially harmful ingredients in Mommy’s Bliss Nipple Cream are chlorphenesin and phenoxyethanol. Chlorphenesin relaxes skeletal muscle and can depress the central nervous system and cause respiratory depression (slow or shallow breathing) in infants. Phenoxyethanol is a preservative that is primarily used in cosmetics and medications. It also can depress the central nervous system and may cause vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration in infants."
Naturally I was relieved that I wasn't using Mommy's Bliss brand nipple cream while nursing my two week old baby Jonathan, but I was terrified that maybe it WAS in the brands I did use. I searched for those chemicals on the bottles of the Medela nipple cream and the Lanolin-free all natural cream I had purchased at Target. Both were free of those chemicals, but it got me thinking that I was taking a risk that you never know when some study might prove that the cream I did use was harmful. Later on I thought about how the soap I use, the detergent on my nursing bras, the absorbing chemicals in the nursing pads I wore, all these things are in contact with my breast and may transfer traces of these chemicals to baby every time I nurse. So I have to point out that even when nursing, breastfeeding does not completely guarantee you that your baby won't be exposed to something that might be recalled. (FYI Medela pumps claim they never used plastics with BPA in them, in case you boiled their bottles or micro-steamed their pumping gear prior to all the BPA updates. However, other pumps may have had BPA in their products).

11. You are limited in the things you can consume (alcohol, medications, certain foods, etc).

12. I don't know about dying hair when nursing, b/c I know some breastfeeding moms who did it and their baby is fine, but I personally cannot wait to have my step mom do the Brazilian blowout straightening product on my hair which they say shouldn't be done when pregnant or nursing so I'm stuck with my curls so long as I'm still breastfeeding my son.

13. Although you burn 500+ calories per day while nursing (and this helps most women lose weight) I personally found that my appetite increases when nursing and so I'm snacking ALL DAY and I am always hungry.

14. You will probably experience the sore, cracked or bleeding nipples in the beginning, but later on you might experience a mastitis infection, a clogged duct, engorgement, or discomfort during let downs for a while.

15. If you chose to nurse for at least the first year you might have to learn how to nurse with a baby with teeth, and that can be tricky and especially painful if baby tends to bite or pull your breast with his new set of chompers.

16. Maybe this is something few deal with but based on my experience with nursing you might be teased or mocked for it. Ex: You might be called old fashioned, a fanatic, stubborn, perverted, cheap, weird, crazy, a hippie, animalistic, etc.

17. Your breasts may no longer seem sexy when you realize what they're designed for (though some nursing moms love the extra cleavage) and you and / or your spouse might view them exclusively as baby's bottles so long as they have milk in them!

* Obviously I chose to breastfeed in spite of these downsides to nursing and it is 110% completely worth it, every single time I look down and watch my baby smile while nursing or get "milk drunk" and watch his eyes roll back into his head and pass out while nursing. I love the bonding experience, feel a sense of pride when I look at this 18 pound baby and know I did all that with just my milk (Nick calls him a ball of breastmilk), and as much as it sucks to deal with all 17 of those downsides to nursing, I decided that for me it's worth the initial pain and sacrifice of sleep, the frizzy hair, the judgement from strangers and family (I've learned to laugh when my own mother refers to me as "the milk wagon"). I want you to be aware of all the downsides I've experienced with nursing and know that at the end of the day, I'm genuinely sad that I only get 6 more months to nurse my baby (that's assuming he doesn't go on strike early or get his first tooth and bite me to the point where I have to quit, etc) because every nursing is precious to me. One year is such a small amount of time, a drop in the bucket as they say, when you realize just how fast it goes and how quickly they grow up.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The ItzBeen Giveaway!

I am SO excited for this giveaway and have to thank Anya at ItzBeen for supporting my blog and providing us with this generous $25 value donation!

Okay so for this giveaway instead of doing a raffle on the facebook fanpage, I'm going to test out my new gmail account: TheVeryBreastThing@gmail.com and see if maybe there are a few moms-to-be out there reading this blog that either don't have a facebook account or were too shy to publicly like a status in order to get a free product. If you are interested in winning this item all you have to do is email me at the gmail address listed above and you'll be entered into the raffle.

What is an "ItzBeen" you ask?

This is an ItzBeen:

As you can see from the picture above, an Itzbeen is a small handheld device (about the size of a beeper) that has four timers that help mommy (and daddy) keep track of the time. For example you can time the last time baby's diaper was changed, the last time you fed baby, how long baby's been sleeping, and one extra timer for whatever you want it to be for (I used it for when I last took my pain killers or for something in the oven later on). At the very bottom of the ItzBeen you can slide the dial to the right or to the left to indicate which was the last side you last started nursing on. Beneath the title on the Itzbeen is a little flashlight button (in case you need to search for your cell phone in your sheets, but don't want to turn on all the lights and wake up baby). There is also a backlight button under the * to display the time in case you're in a dark room.

I give all the credit for being able to nurse my first son to my sister in law, my medela nipple cream, my breast wedge, the my brest friend nursing pillow AND I could not have nursed successfully without the ItzBeen! I heavily relied on this stopwatch while I was nursing because I was so sleep deprived I could barely remember the last time I took my pain medication let alone how many minutes baby was nursing on one side for. Also, time goes by so fast in that before I knew it I'd look down and see it had already been 2 hours since I last started feeding and it was time to nurse again! I also used the Itzbeen as a timer for pizza bites in the oven, because I always had this stop watch gadget on me and when I was upstairs nursing or rocking Ben to sleep, I could check on the status of my lunch without running downstairs and looking at the oven timer.

In my post "BreastFeeding 101" Breast Friend Aimee writes:

"I agree wholeheartedly about the Itzbeen! I used it faithfully for the first couple months and it was a HUGE help. After that, Titus and I had established routines and I didn't need it to keep us on a schedule or help with timing."

NOTE: Winner will be randomly selected on Sunday, February 6th, 2011!

A Breast Guest Story: "Just Give it Two Weeks"

Our first featured "Breast Guest"!

Lil'ExecutiveMomma writes:
"When I was pregnant with my first baby, back in 2006, I was also a student at FAU, completing my student teaching internship as a second grade teacher at a public school.  During my teaching semester, I was not paid (but was actually paying for a semester of college), and thus, was on a tight budget.  Because of this, I knew that I was going to breastfeed my baby, not necessarily because it was considered the best thing for him, but because it was the cheapest option for me—free.  I didn’t even bother researching all of the benefits of breastfeeding, simply because my decision had already been made.
At the time, I was also good friends with someone who already had two children, and was pregnant with her third.  She was the only person who spoke openly with me about child birthing and breastfeeding—she shared with me the good, the bad, and the ugly, and I’m glad that she did!  Up until that point, partly because of my new found obsession with “A Baby Story” on TLC, I thought that having a baby would be a wonderful experience, and that we would leave the hospital, go home and sleep peacefully at night.  Haha!  (Has that happened to anyone?)  I didn’t even consider that MY baby would be colicky, and would cry ALL day and ALL night for three months!  No, I was living happily in my very own fantasy land where I thought that I would breastfeed my baby without any issues, and we would all live happily ever after.
One of the things that my friend told me while I was pregnant (which turned out to be a very important message) was that breastfeeding would be painful for about the first two weeks, and I just needed to “stick it out that long” and everything would be smooth sailing afterwards.  She also told me to pack nipple cream in my hospital bag and apply it after EVERY feeding, even after the very first feeding (before the pain set in).   Well, she was right about having to stick it out for the first two weeks!  Breastfeeding was extremely painful for me (although, I’ve heard that has not been everyone’s experience, so don’t get discouraged).  Even with the nipple cream applied after EVERY feeding, it was still very painful, especially since my baby needed to nurse every two hours.  I remember crying in pain before/during a few feedings, and came VERY close to switching to formula, despite my budget.  But, I remembered my friend’s advice, and vividly remember her telling me to stick it out for the first two weeks, and then nursing would be pain-free after that.
Partly because I’m stubborn and am determined to make everything work in my favor, and partly because I had already nursed my baby for a week, I didn’t want to give up so easily (when I only had one more week of pain left, according to my friend).  I did stick it out another week (after a few conversations/pep-talks with my good friend), and I am so glad that I did.   After my two-week break-in period, nursing became extremely easy for me.  I no longer needed nipple cream, I could nurse comfortably in front of the TV, or even in public, and I didn’t have to pay for formula.  That only left me to deal with a colicky baby 24/7… but four and half years and three breastfed babies later, we ARE living happily ever after. 
So, I will gladly echo my friend’s advice to all new mothers who are planning to breastfeed, “just give it two weeks”."
Thank you Lil'ExecutiveMomma for sharing your story, for the great tips and for being a breast friend to our readers!

I did a little research to see exactly how much it costs to feed your baby formula. According to Suite101:

"Pre-Mixed Ready-to-Feed Formula - Cost Per Day - $6.00, Cost Per Month - $180,
Cost Per Year - $2,160

Concentrate in Cans (Mix with Water) - Cost Per Day - $4.60, Cost Per Month - $138,
Cost Per Year - $1,600

Powdered in Cans (Mix with Water) - Cost Per Day - $3.75, Cost Per Month - $112,
Cost Per Year - $1,350

Cost of Hypoallergenic and Organic Formulas for Babies With Special Needs:

If you are savvy parent-consumers, it does not take you long to realize that the cost of formula varies widely. Our list above is by no means an all-inclusive list. In fact, some of the more expensive, hypoallergenic, lactose-free and organic brands of formula can run parents $14 or more for approximately 24 ounces of formula. This translates to about $420 per month or over $5,000 per year. Not to mention, by the time your baby is several months old, he or she will be eating more than 24 ounces of formula a day."

And that does not include the cost of bottles, sterilizers, nipples, brushes, etc. Health care expenses also increase with formula fed babies because they are sick more often.

The article did a price comparison for the cost of breastfeeding:

Cost of Breastfeeding Supplies:

Double Electric Breast Pump - $400
Breastfeeding Pillow - $40
Breast Milk Storage Kit - $30
Breast Cream - $8
Breast Pads (Pair of 2) - $20
Nursing Bra (2) - $50
Breastfeeding Tops (4) - $120

Total Amount of Breastfeeding Supplies - $668

I just have to say that those numbers seem high to me. Maybe some moms go out and spend $120 on a new "nursing wardrobe" but I wasn't one of them (okay maybe I spent $8 per nightgown from Target and bought a weeks worth - still that's only $56!). And not all moms buy a pump, though I do highly recommend the Medela Double Electric Breast Pump which is currently selling for $279.00 at Target, compared to the $400 estimate listed above.

And as our "Breast Guest" pointed out, breastmilk itself is free!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Winner for the My Brest Friend Pillow!

I put all five names in a little bowl, told Ben to pick one out, and he first dumped them all out, put them back in the bowl, then I told him to just take one, and he took one out and I said, "Good job!!!" then asked him if I could have it and he handed it to me.

In case you can't read the ticket, Congratulatins to Chelsi from Florida (I think that's how they do it on the radio and stuff) you are the lucky WINNER for the My Brest Friend nursing pillow - the ultimate nursing pillow!

Please email me with your address so I can give it to the company and they will ship it to you at no charge! Thank you for entering and for those that didn't win check back tomorrow to see what's in store for next weeks raffle!

Update from the winner: "It arrived and it's awesome! They even sent me an extra cover and a nursing cover to use when I breastfeed in public!!!! Thanks so much again!!!!!!" ~Chelsi

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jonathan's Birth

They say that time heals all wounds. They say you forget the pain of labor and that's why people continue to have babies even though they swore they'd never have any more. Time did heal my wound, but there isn't enough time in this life to make me forget what I went through to bring Ben into this world. With that said, you might be just as shocked as I was to learn that I became pregnant with my second child just 14 short months after Ben was born.

We had just moved back to Florida when I found out I was pregnant again (we conceived THE day we moved back). I had to find a new OB and I knew I wanted a female doctor this time. My mother made some calls and helped me select the very best OB in my area. I sat down with her for a long time filling her in on all the details of Ben's birth and my recovery. With eyes wide with compassion, she held my hand and promised me I would never go through anything like that ever again. She said women in third world countries that gave birth in dirty fields didn't suffer as much as I had. She also told me that I was an ideal candidate for an elective Cesarean. I don't know why I was so afraid of having a c-section. Even after my birth gone wrong, I still feared the unknown more. Throughout my entire pregnancy I told my new OB that I felt more comfortable going through with a vaginal birth because at least I knew what to expect. My exact words were, "I'd rather take the chance that I might tear again then have you filet me like a fish."

Towards the end of my pregnancy my doctor re-examined me and told me that I was VERY lucky to have healed so perfectly without any lifelong issues. She was very uncomfortable delivering Jonathan vaginally when my body didn't have all that long of a period to heal and I was smaller now than I was before I had Ben. Two weeks before my due date the Ultrasound determined that the baby weighed between 7.5 and 8 lbs and since I tore with Ben at 7 lbs 11oz there was no way I wasn't going to tear with an even bigger baby. She explained that she couldn't guarentee me that this time I might not heal perfectly and I might have lifelong problems that could be completely avoided by doing a Cesarean delivery. I trusted her and agreed to have a c-section.

The week before Jonathan was born I ate a very high fiber diet and eliminated all dairy. I had learned after 9 weeks of an extremely high colicky baby that the protein found in dairy is different than the protein in human milk. One Saturday I ate cereal, yogurt, pizza, and a glass of milk and my son cried for 8 hours straight, refused to nurse for 6 of those hours, and puked up two different kinds of formulas (both dairy based). I called the after hours pediatrican on call and she asked me about my diet and told me to lay off the dairy. It turns that cow protein "Casein" is very difficult, sometimes impossible for babies to digest - which is why you don't give a baby cow milk until they are one year old (why they make baby formula with cow milk makes zero sense at all). Anyway, if a mother consumes dairy products this protein passes through breastmilk and apparently Ben was intolerant to it (not allergic or else he'd have foamy green poop or blood in his stool). I wasn't taking any chances with my next baby so I just eliminated all dairy from my diet.

On July 9th 2010 at 5:30am we arrived at the hospital. Nick and I put on our hospital gowns and I told Nick he would have made a VERY attractive doctor. We rested in the hospital bed while Nick and I discussed some of the details from Ben's birth with the staff there. My sister in law had her third Cesarian delivery just 22 days before I was about to have mine. She and my UNCC "breast friend" filled me in on what to expect during my c-section. One of the nurses asked me if I was ready for my catheter which I was told my by sister in law to ask if I could wait to have the catheter placed after my spinal tap. "Of course, that's not a problem," she told me sweetly. A different nurse then tried to get me hooked to an IV but instead of the IV fluids going into my vein, the blood began to backup into the IV tubes. I looked at the small bubble forming in my forearm and started to panic. I could envision the blood flowing freely from my vein and wondered if I could die from internal bleeding if it didn't stop. I don't remember what it's called when this happens, but I thought this was just the beginning of more bad things to come. A different nurse tried my other arm and got the IV in with little more pain than a quick pinch. I tried to remain calm. The nurse who failed at getting the IV needle into my vein returned with two bags of IV fluid that she said were heated. She told me that they are meant to be used for other patients but replaced my ice cold ones with these pre-heated bags. As this warm fluid filled my veins I did feel better and had a little hope.

Another nurse asked me if I had shaved in preparation for surgery. I had not only shaved but I'd blowed out my hair, flat ironed it, had my eyebrows waxed and had a pedicure too! She asked if she could check just in case, and I was thankful that my sister in law had told me to shave down there ahead of time. Unfortunately, when you have a belly the size of a beach ball it's a little difficult to see what you're doing and so she brought out a cheap disposable razor and had to get the areas I couldn't see or reach. This was pretty embarassing so if you are going in for a scheduled Cesarean have your husband help you shave the night before.

By 7:30am my OB met with me and reassured me that everything was going to be fine. An elderly nurse with a southern accent reminded me of the older nurse that had delivered Ben in North Carolina. She warned me that the room they wheeled my bed into had very bright lights. She pulled my pony-tail out from under my head and stroked my hair away from my forehead. It seemed like her entire job there was to comfort me because I don't think she did anything medically related. She asked me if I was cold and would bring me more blankets if I needed them, which I didn't. I told her, "I'm a hot blooded Italian," so I rarely get cold. The Anesthesiologist had me sit up and my older nurse placed my arms over her shoulders. She told me to lean forward and "hug her" which felt kind of awkward until she started patting and softly rubbing my back, whispering in my ear to just breathe and squeeze if I needed to. As it turned out, the IV (the good insertion) was more painful than the prick of the spinal tap. My sweet grandma-like nurse helped me lay back down and continued to comb my hair back.

Nick was sitting on a chair beside me and I heard him suck in a deep breath. I looked up at his face and saw him staring at he ground. I knew the sight of blood left him dizzy and was worried he might pass out on me. "Look at me," I told him. He looked towards me but his eyes were unfocused like he was looking through me and concentrating hard on something. "Hey, I'm okay. Look in my eyes." I tried to keep him calm. He looked like he was close to tears. I squeezed his clammy palm and told him that I loved him. "I'm fine," he tried to assure me. Men! Here I am about to be cut open like a fish and I'm comforting him. The truth is, I think he was genuinely worried about me and his family doesn't call him a soft shell for nothing. Poor guy, looking back I don't know how he handled Ben's birth. He was probably in more pain than I was in...well maybe not physically, but emotionally and mentally I was at least drugged with Ambien and had some relief from the Epidural, he was up all night suffering along with me.

The Anesthesiologist explained that my body might start to tingle and feel cold, and it did. My grandma nurse placed straps around my wrists and told me this was in case I decided to try and "help my doctor" during the surgery. I laughed. Partially because I thought of how some patients might actually get anxious and pull at the curtain or freak out and want to stop the doctor from cutting them, but mostly I laughed because I remembered a story that involved my Nanna's wrists being tied up. Nope it's not some kinky story! Back in the "olden days" when my mother's mother gave birth they use to tie a woman's hands down. When my Nanna had been strapped down and in labor for several days she tried to trick the nurse into unstrapping her hands. She thought if she could just get her hands free, she'd get up and leave. So she told the nurse she had an itch on her nose and could she please unstrap her hands so she could scratch it. The nurse walked over and began to scratch my Nanna's nose, even though it wasn't itchy!

My doctor heard my giggle and asked me if I could feel her touching my belly. Maybe she thought I was ticklish and that was why I laughed, but I couldn't feel anything. They began to wipe that orange stuff across my belly, I think to sterilize it, and then they placed a blue curtain across my chest and my doctor explained that she was going to do a small test to make sure I couldn't feel anything. After a moment she said, "You're doing beautifully," and I thought that was kind of funny since I was just laying there doing nothing. She continued to cut through my stomach and I felt nothing. She was focused on her work sometimes warning me that I might feel pressure. I could tell someone was moving my body around, but I didn't feel any pain. My grandma nurse continued to ask me questions, trying to distract me from the surgery I guess.

My OB was talking medical jargin with her assistant doctor and I caught part of it and repeated it back to her, asking what that meant. She laughed and said she was going to have to watch what she said since I was paying attention. She explained that they were just deciding who should do what. Being the hypochondriac that I am, I wasn't going to waste anymore small talk with my grandma nurse. I guess my OB decided that if she was going to perform this Cesarian AND have a conversation with her patient it wasn't going to be about the surgery itself. She picked up where grandma left off and talked to me about books I was reading. When I told her I was rereading The Host by Stephenie Meyer she asked if that was the same author as the Twilight books. I told her yes, and we both went on discussing our love for the books and the differences in the movies. I was having so much fun I remember thinking, I could have a kid every day if this was what have a c-section was all about!

Occasionally the Anesthesiologist would interupt our dialogue with a warning about how I might feel like the wind got knocked out of me and it might be hard to breathe, but I felt fine and continued to discuss my love for these books with my doctor. Then, grandma held my hand and told me the baby was coming. I felt a small pressure followed by Jonathan's little cry. I looked up at Nick who stood up to take a picture. I was jealous that he could see him and take pictures. I wanted to see my baby too! I focused on Jonathan's gravelly cry. It was so much softer than Ben's had been. I was eager to hold him and comfort him. A second later a swaddled Jonathan was handed to Nick and without needing to ask he lowered the bundle so I could see his face. He was still crying but it was cute somehow. His little quivering bottom lip pouted and it made me want to kiss his face. I then noticed his hair and saw that it was curly. "He has my curly hair" I said to Nick. I looked up to see his expression now and the tears in Nick's eyes brought tears to my own. This was the beautiful birth experience that I had expected and had given up on.

Jonathan was born at 7:48am, weighed 8.0 lbs even and was 21.5'' long. Grandma continued to stroke my hair and had even unstrapped my hand so that I could touch the baby. I think they told Nick he could go into the recovery room with the baby and the doctor and I picked up our conversation. After another 15 or 30 minutes (I can't remember we were so engrossed in our conversation) it was time to lift and roll me onto a new clean bed and wheel me into the recovery room to join Nick and baby Jonathan. Jonathan was wide awake and was smacking his lips already. I knew that nursing as soon as possible was important, but I was a little scared about how to do it after my stomach had just been cut open and sewed up. I placed a pillow over my belly, and got my boob wedge out and had Nick place the baby sideways in my left arm with his head facing my chest. I got him to latch on after the first try and told Nick to set my ItzBeen so I could time it. He nursed for 11 minutes before passing out and I was ecstatic!

I may have had the worst vaginal birth ever, but I was blessed with the very best Cesarian delivery and I have to give all the credit to my very compassionate and talented OB. I really wanted to share all the details of both birthing experiences with you because I think every woman should be prepared for the best and worst case scenarios. I don't think it's fair to make women believe that giving birth is going to be this picture perfect experience. Not all births are beautiful, and sometimes surgeries are needed. It's okay if you feel let down, or that you didn't get the birth you thought you were going to have. The reality is sometimes there are complications, and just because you didn't love your pregnancy or birth experience that doesn't mean you don't love your baby. On a similar note, my wedding day didn't go as planned but I had to remind myself that the actual wedding isn't important, all the details I planned for didn't need to be executed perfectly. What mattered is that I got to marry the perfect man for me and I get to spend my life with him. Go into your pregnancy and labor with the same attitude, because after it's all done and over with, whether or it was beautiful or horrible, you get to spend your life raising and loving your baby.

With that attitude in mind, treat breastfeeding the exact same way. For some, it may come naturally with little or no challenges. But be prepared and get as much education and support as you can. Be willing to accept that it will take days for your milk to come in, you'll spend hours trying to get your baby to latch correctly, you and baby will cry together, you might get engorged, get a clogged duct, a mastitis infection, have sore cracked bleeding nipples, and God help you if you have a colicky baby and that can of formula winking at you saying "I'll make everything better" and family and friends with good intentions telling you that it's true. Don't give up because eventually you and your baby will get the hang of it and you'll have a beautiful nursing experience that you'll cherish more than just about anything else you can ever do for your child.

This blog entry is surprisingly a lot longer than I thought it would be so I'll share some of the nursing challenges I had with Jonathan in another blog. Yes, even after successfully nursing Ben I had to relearn how to do it with Jon.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ben's Birth Part 3

What a small world we get pregnant and have babies in! Nick and I took a four week birthing course at our hospital and always sat next to the same couple. They were expecting a girl several weeks after us. As it turned out, I was almost 2 weeks late and she had her baby a week early. What were the chances that the day after Ben was born we took a stroll around our floor and happened to recognize the name of the couple on the baby pink announcement ribbon on their door? A few hours later we wheeled our little screamer to meet at our friends door. Hospital policies on the protection and safety for babies are very strict. Each baby has to wear a little anklet that sounds the alarms if a baby enters a room that it does not belong in (like another patients room) so we just waved through the doorway at mom and their baby girl sleeping peacefully in her arms. We tried to talk about our nursing struggles, but I could barely ascertain over the cries of my baby that their biggest problem was their baby slept all day and wouldn't wake up to nurse. It's a good thing I wasn't in the same room as her because I might have been tempted to sucker punch her right there, and while she was unconscious I could switch our babies...well the plan might have worked if they weren't wearing those annoying ankle alarms, or if my Ben had been born a girl. But I tried to focus on other things like how crazy I thought it was that our babies were born less than 30 minutes apart. She told me that she had a scheduled c-section and thought the young doctor she had just met a week prior to her scheduled delivery was very rude and wouldn't answer her questions or concerns during the surgery. It was the assistant doctor that kept comforting her. Remember how my doctor had to rush through stitching me up because he had to hurry off to a scheduled Cesarean? Wouldn't you know it, my male cocky doctor that missed my delivery and left me without words of comfort and answers to my questions was the very same doctor that delivered her baby!

Not 24 hours after this doctor missed the delivery of my son's birth, I hopped up on my hospital bed and distinctly felt a snap like pop. I was already in so much pain that I couldn't be sure if a new wave of pain really hit or not. I paged the nurse and she had my OB check on me...hours later. Well he never examined me but he assured me that the stitches were internal and were intact (how he could know this without checking I didn't know but I believed him). I assumed it was natural to feel discomfort every time I had to pee, so I tried not to drink as much. This became one of the many contributing factors that led to my inability to pass a bowl movement - which is supposed to be required before a new mom can leave the hospital.

Two days after I got home from the hospital I still hadn't gone to the bathroom (aka #2 I'm doing my best to keep this blog as tasteful as possible when it comes to vocabulary choices) so I called my OB's office. The secretary who answers the phone gave one of the doctors there my concerns and I was advised to continue taking stool softeners (which I think I skipped a few because I thought they "made" you go and I was very afraid to go after pushing out a baby!) and to have my husband help me with a suppository. If that didn't work I needed to use an at home enema. I started getting really painful stomach cramps and was pretty sure that I was being internally poisoned from the toxic levels of the Alfredo chicken, pizza, steak and potatoes building up. (This is why with baby #2 I lived off water and salad the week before my birth and I encourage all moms-to-be to follow a similar diet). As odd and embarrassing as it is to admit this I had experienced these painful cramps before when my intestines became blocked. In the past, I ended up in the emergency room, so I knew I was playing with fire by not going to the bathroom.

I married the best man on earth and ended up having to have him help me with the enema and suppository (if that didn't send him running I don't think anything ever will!). A couple of hours later I found myself in labor again. I seriously should have been taken back to the hospital, but I labored alone in my powder closet. By the time I was sure nothing else could ever leave my body again I staggered toward the sink and felt like my legs might collapse they were shaking so hard. I felt a tingling trail running down my leg and saw a line of blood racing toward my ankle. I didn't make it to the sink. I dropped to the floor, curled up into the fetal position and didn't even have the energy left to cry. I just laid there wondering if I was the only one who had to go through all this. Maybe I wasn't made to have kids. I thought about how if I had been born a couple hundred years ago (before modern medicine) I probably wouldn't have made it this far...

Eventually, I pulled myself together, showered off my bleeding body, took out a mirror and looked myself over. The "internal" stitches were clearly visible and resembled a set of unravelled shoe laces. I called my doctors office and told them I had finally given birth to the weeks worth of food I had consumed. I explained again that at the hospital I thought I had popped a stitch and that during this second labor process I was pretty sure they continued to tear and unravel. She relayed my message to a doctor who I'm almost certain which one it was, because I was told that it was "highly unlikely" that I could have torn my stitches. I insisted on being seen anyway. I was correct in my assumption of which doctor had responded because my young OB was the only doctor available that day so I was forced to see him again.

I was very close to the nurse that always took my urine sample, weight, blood pressure, etc and cried in her arms. I told her that I didn't trust this new OB at the office because I felt he missed my birth on purpose (because of my snarky comment about him responding to my pages like "lickety split") and that something was very wrong with me down there and I didn't want him to hurt me more. She promised me that he was not just a good doctor but a good man and would never do such a thing. God bless her soul, she was able to walk baby Ben in the halls and put him to sleep so that I didn't have to endure this exam while listening to him scream. I must admit that while I laid on the patient bed, the OB was very compassionate and gentle. One look and he acknowledged that I had indeed torn my stitches. He told me that I might need to go back to the hospital to have surgery done. I told him I was breastfeeding and was concerned about the time I'd be under and out of it, unable to nurse, plus I hadn't really established enough of a milk supply to start pumping and dumping. He then said something I'll never forget: "You know, the vagina is a wondrous thing!" He went on to explain that some doctors don't even use stitches because the tissue heals itself over time. He told me to wait two weeks and see if the problem doesn't resolve itself.

Over the next two weeks I developed an infection. I didn't know I had an infection because of the pain, that was a constant, but I noticed an unusually bright neon stain in my underwear. The color was such a vibrant hue of green that I actually took a picture of it beside one of the bright green soothie pacifiers because the colors were nearly identical. I was given a prescription antibiotic ointment to apply to my wounded flesh to treat the infection. Two weeks later I think I had a urinary tract infection. Six weeks after Ben's birth my favorite male doctor told me I was to see nobody but him. He scheduled me to go in for surgery two days later. I don't remember all the terminology for the vaginal reconstruction. I must have blocked that out because I usually remember medical terms when they apply to me (ex: I had an aneurysmal bone cyst in my right foot 9 years ago and still remember the name of the bone in the foot that the tumor was eating through - the navicular). But I do know that there was "dead tissue" and "lacerations of the vagina" were done because though I might have had a 3rd degree tear during labor, the OB was concerned that during that "second labor" I might have had some internal 4th degree tears. This meant that if surgery was not done correctly I might have problems going #1 and #2 for the rest of my life.

I had the surgery and was able to go home shortly after and only had to pump and dump once to eliminate any of the drugs used during surgery that might have gone into my milk supply. I started pumping regularly now to store milk in our freezer so that my husband could feed the baby while I was in class on Wednesday nights - yes on top of a colicky baby, no sleep, and vagina surgery I was still a student! I remember pumping late one night and thinking the devil was inside my machine. I heard him talking through the motor, and he said, "Love it, Love it, Love it, Love it," sometimes changing it up to "Need it, Need it, Need it, Need it" during the stimulation phase. When the faster pumping phase started the machine began to tell me, "Lac-tate, Lac-tate, Lac-tate" then "Ro-tate, Ro-tate, Ro-tate." Months, maybe even a year later I confessed this to one of my "breast friends" who confided in me that her pump talked to her too. Only hers said, "It's not pain, It's not pain" to "It's Lactaid, It's Lactaid." Most recently it's been telling her, "Booty call, Booty call, Booty call"! So if your pump talks to you too, it's okay, the devil isn't speaking to you. You're just very sleep deprived and that does funny things to your brain.

Two weeks after my vagina surgery I went in for a check up and found out that the piercing little stabs I constantly felt were from the stitches that had not yet dissolved. The doctor had to cut the knot above each stitch and pull each string out. I was told to wait another two weeks before trying to have sex. I thought he was crazy if he thought I was going to let anything near my vagina again...but three weeks later when we were crazy enough to try, our attempt was not only extremely painful but clearly impossible. I returned to my doctor to learn that once the infection and swelling went down, as I healed properly, I was vaginally reduced to the size of a nine year old girl. I'm guessing he cut too much skin away and sewed too much? He told me to order these vaginal dilators and apply this prescription numbing cream and use both twice a day for 20 minutes at a time, starting with the smallest dilator first, then work my way up. First of all, if I had 20 free minutes they were spent showering, scarfing something down my throat, brushing my teeth, etc. But I didn't want to never have sex with my husband again so I tried the smallest one that was about the size of a tampon. Even with the stupid numbing cream it was painful and extremely difficult to insert. I told my husband that if we ever wanted another child (which didn't seem likely at the time) we were going to have to do artificial insemination (FYI - I forgot to mention that the very first words that left my mouth when Ben was born weren't "He's beautiful" or "Can you believe we made that?" No. My first statement after Ben entered this world was, "We're adopting the next one.")

Another two weeks later I returned to my doctor to inform him that the dilators were a waste and then I sobbed over the reality that I was never going to be able to make love to my husband again. He re-examined me and told me that he wanted to do another surgery to reopen me up, then sew me up more opened. I didn't really understand the concept but he assured me that with this last vaginal surgery I would have a normal sex life again. So a couple days later I went back into his office for an inpatient surgery and I would be completely conscious for it. I felt a dozen more "bee-stings" as he injected numbing medicine and then began to re-cut and re-sew me back up. By the time he was half-way done stitching me up the Novocaine wore off and I felt each prick and pull. I felt like the female version of Frankenstein. I took my pain relievers and waited another two weeks to have the stitches that didn't dissolve, removed, again.

I am pleased to report that my doctor did a phenomenal job repairing my poor body. By six months after Ben's birth, I was finally healed. I told my doctor I was too afraid to look at what was left of my body and he assured me that I healed beautifully and it would be difficult for even another OB to know what I'd been through without having been told my history. There was no more pain going to the bathroom, no more infections or surgeries needed. It took several more months before making love began to resemble our sex life before we had Ben, but to this day my husband and I joke that giving birth made my body a forever virgin. I don't know how common this is but I have another close friend who also tore badly and she too confided in me that having babies made her a lot smaller too, which unfortunately makes it a little difficult and sometimes painful to make love. So for those who think they want to have an elective  Cesarean (not because they are afraid of having a birth gone bad like mine) but because they don't want a "floppy vagina" (I didn't make up this term another friend of mine did) think again! Having a vaginal birth might just be equivalent to having a vaginal rejuvenation surgery only you get a baby out of the deal!

Through the pain, tearing, infections, surgeries, dilators, stitches, extreme sleep deprivation, on top of pumping blistered, cracked, bleeding nipples and lots of tears and meltdowns that I endured after my traditional "vaginal" birth (which I think gets way more hype than what it's worth) I managed to master the art of breastfeeding. I had made a commitment before he was born to nurse him for one year (as is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics) and I ended up nursing my son for just over 11 months (if I'd had it my way I would have done it for the full year but he went on strike as you read about on that blog). I'm excited to share with you Jonathan's birth (which should only take 1 part to cover!) and my nursing experience after recovering from a very boring, non eventful C-Section.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Very Breast Thing Giveaway on Facebook!

I just created a Facebook fan page and am excited to announce the blog’s very first free give away! All you have to do is log into your Facebook account, search for The Very Breast Thing, go to the page and "like it" to become a fan/follower. Once I post this raffle on the Facebook fan page just click, "like" beside the status which will give a thumbs up and you'll automatically be entered into the raffle!

This raffle giveaway is for a brand new My Brest Friend nursing pillow and a brand new cover for the nursing pillow. Jessica, the office manager from http://www.mybrestfriend.com/ has generously agreed to donate this item to my blog and ship it to one lucky winner, valued at $44.99! Please only "like" the status on our Facebook fan page if you or someone you know could use the very best nursing pillow - the My Brest Friend!  

Winner will be randomly selected and announced on January 19, 2011.

By liking my my fan page you will get a Facebook notification whenever I change the status to let you know about other upcomming giveaways / prizes / raffles as well as whenever I post a new blog entry.

Check it out: TheVeryBreastThing on Facebook!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Beetles, Larvae, Glass, Rocket Fuel and Poison in Infant Formula! Oh my!

I've been avoiding this blog because it makes me feel really bad, not just for writing it, but because some moms who read this are going to feel really bad because they HAVE to feed their babies formula because they aren't breastfeeding. BUT just because I feel bad about making them feel bad, doesn't mean it shouldn't be said. (Telling people that smoking is bad makes them feel bad, but we say it because it's not only true but we are trying to reduce smoking because it's just not healthy).

"What? Baby Formula has been recalled?  In fact, between 1982 and 1994 alone, there were 22 significant recalls of infant formula in the United States due to health and safety problems.  Seven of these recalls were classified by the FDA as "Class I" or potentially life threatening."

Well, over the past 2 years I've come across a few formula recalls and all of them are very concerning to me, not to mention just plain gross!

In April 2009 15 different top brands of formula were tested and perchlorate, a chemical used as the main ingredient in solid rocket fuel, contaminated every single can. This chemical is also found in ground water in 35 states, in higher concentrations in areas where shuttles take off, and "mixing contaminated powdered milk with contaminated water in those places could result in a dangerous exposure."
There was no recall because the amounts have not been proved unsafe - yet.

In October 2010 I noticed yet another sign on the shelf of formula cans. All Similac products had been recalled, but the reason wasn't stated. As it turns out, beetles were laying eggs in this factory and beetle bugs, body parts, and larvae were discovered / hatching in the formula powder. As gross as it is to think about feeding this to your newborn baby, the FDA says it "poses little to no threat to humans even when ingested." Can I just add that I recently was told that all cereals, crackers, flour, basically everything in my cupboard that was packaged in a factory has bug eggs in it, and these eggs will hatch over time which is one of the reasons an expiration date is stamped on these items. True it's not considered unsafe to consume, but it kinda makes me feel sick every time I pour a bowl of Smart Start. I can't imagine feeding my little baby formula knowing larvae is hatching in the bottle. It makes sense that bugs, rats, rat poop, larvae and God only knows what else is in all the processed foods we eat would end up in the manufactured baby foods that are handled and packaged in the same factories. Think I'm going to start feeding my 6 month old exclusive homemade babyfood (it isn't that hard to mash a banana!).


In 1993 bits of GLASS contaminated over 102,000 cans of Mead Johnson Infant Formula.

In September 2008 in an attempt to save money manufacturers watered down the baby formula and added the chemical Melamine to the mixture to produce a false level of protein when tested before distribution. "Melamine is a nitrogen-based compound used in industrial and commercial plastics. The chemical can cause kidney damage. More than 6,000 babies were fed the stuff became ill and three infants died. 160 babies are now suffering from acute kidney failure."
Regarding this same recall, the article below states that over 6,200 babies are sick from the scandal involving the tainted formula powder and 4 babies have died from it.

Think this chemeical was only found in formula manufactured in China? WRONG! Melamine and Cyanuric Acid traces were found in over 90% of formula manufactured and distributed in USA.


"The FDA and other experts said the melamine contamination in U.S.-made formula had occurred during the manufacturing process, rather than intentionally as was done in Chinese production. The manufacturers insist their products are safe."

"The chemical, which legally can be used in product packaging and a solution to clean manufacturing equipment, can bind with other chemicals in urine, potentially causing damaging stones in the kidney or bladder and, in extreme cases, kidney failure."

"A spreadsheet the AP obtained from the FDA under a Freedom of Information Act request stated that Mead Johnson's Infant Formula Powder, Enfamil LIPIL with Iron contained traces of melamine." "The FDA had incorrectly switched the names of the Mead Johnson product with Nestle's Good Start Supreme Infant Formula with Iron. That meant, Leon said, that the Nestle's Good Start had melamine while Mead Johnson's Enfamil had traces of cyanuric acid."

"The FDA said last month that the toxicity of cyanuric acid is under study, but that in the meantime it is "prudent" to assume that its potency is equal to that of melamine."

You might be wondering if these formulas distributed in the US were known to contain Cyanuric Acid and Malamine they would recall it, right?

"The agency would only seek to remove a product on the basis of a risk, based on scientific evidence."

So only if, and after science can prove that the amounts are harmful will the formula be removed.

"The FDA originally said there was no safe level for these contaminants in infant formula. So this formula is contaminated," said Jean Halloran, the group's director of Food Policy Initiatives. "It is very disturbing to us that no recall has been requested."
  • Nestle's Good Start Supreme Infant Formula with Iron had two positive tests for melamine on one sample, with readings of 0.137 and 0.14 parts per million.
  • Mead Johnson's Infant Formula Powder, Enfamil LIPIL with Iron had three positive tests for cyanuric acid, at an average of 0.247 parts per million.
"Separately, a third major formula maker — Abbott Laboratories, whose brands include Similac — told AP that in-house tests had detected trace levels of melamine in its infant formula. Those levels were below what FDA found in the other formulas, an Abbott spokesman said, and below any nation's safety guidelines.
The three firms — Abbott Laboratories, Nestle and Mead Johnson — manufacture more than 90 percent of all infant formula produced in the United States."

On a watering down formula related note: On Nov 25 2008 A young mom in Florida nearly killed her baby by adding too much water to the formula. "Adding too much water to powdered formula can cause abdominal pain, insufficient calories and an altered salt balance. Results can include excessive sleep, seizures, brain damage or death."
“The problem with infants is there’s this margin of safety that’s so narrow.” http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/28030635/

As a breastfeeding mom, you won't have to worry about measuring the perfect amount of (hopefully unpolluted water and untainted formula powder) in the middle of the night. No bottles to boil and nipples to sanitize. No chance of burning the baby b/c you can't over heat the milk in your breasts. You don't have to depend on some company to make sure they are adding the proper ingredients to your baby's diet. Your breastmilk makes the perfect balance of everything your baby needs, including things that no factory can reproduce!

Some defend formula by saying, "I was fed formula, and I turned out okay." True and people can live off junk food too, but that doesn't mean it's healthy or that it won't cause health problems later on. It's common knowledge that eating fast food isn't good for you either, but people still eat it. Well I think it's time to start educating mothers that formula isn't this perfectly concocted alternative to breastmilk.

I use to say, I'm not "against" formula, I'm just very "pro-breastfeeding" but I have to admit that the more I read about formula the more "pro-breastfeeding" I become. Even without all the new knowledge of the benefits discovered in breastmilk, the stuff they are finding in formula is making breastmilk look that much better - not just because of what's in breastmilk, but because of what's NOT in breastmilk, if that makes sense.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ben's Birth Part 2

After my favorite female doctor told me she still couldn't give me an epidural because I wasn't showing any progress, a new nurse (I can't decide if she's on team Heaven or Hell) decided to check my cervix for herself. I held my breath and fought against an unnatural discomfort as she searched and reached as though her life depended on how deep she could dig. Just when I couldn't bare the pain a second longer she found what she was looking for. For the first time that night I screamed. Screamed like someone was brutally murdering me. My husband said he was worried she'd done something terribly wrong as my spine arched and then my body collapsed and my eyes rolled back showing only the whites. Apparently she located my cervix, but it had gone "posterior" which means instead of facing the birth canal, it was facing my spine. After this discovery she decided to hook her finger into the opening of the cervix and pull it forward, forcing it to face the correct position. This was when I passed out from the overwhelming pain and complete exhaustion. I was furious when I woke to another contraction. I wanted this night from hell to end! My doctor explained what the nurse had found and how she fixed my cervix. It just so happened that after 7 hours of writhing in pain every 3-5 minutes I had actually dilated to almost 9 centimeters. You only have to be 2-3 centimeters to be given an epidural so the anesthesiologist was on his way. I passed out in the minutes it took for him to get there. When he did arrive I only remember a time when I was sitting up instead of laying down. I don't remember the sting of the injection or the relief from my labor pains. I was asleep before they laid me back down.

An hour later, my favorite female doctor woke me up to tell me that she examined me again and I was at 10 centimeters and it was time to push. I could barely open my eyelids as I tried to comprehend that the baby was on his way out. I could move my arms, but I struggled to even lift my head, everything below my neck was numb. I looked up and saw my best friend. Apparently, I told her to bring me my make-up bag and to help me put mascara on - for the pictures. I have absolutely zero recollection of this, but I was so out of it I probably thought I was playing Bella and the birth would be on camera. After my make-up was applied, I turned my face to the right and saw my mother at my side. "I'm going to throw up," I mumbled. She placed a small basin under my chin and I puked. I tried to explain to the doctor that I couldn't sit up, I couldn't move, but my throat was so hoarse from all the heavy breathing and screaming that my voice was barely a whisper. She turned off the epidural IV that was connected to my spine and came back 30 minutes later to rub a cold alcohol wipe across my collar bones, to see if I could feel it, which I couldn't.

At this point her shift was over and a new doctor, one that I'd never met at my office, told me he would be on call that day and would be delivering my baby. He checked on me 30 minutes later and when I could feel the sensation of the cold alcohol wipe against my belly he told me it was time to start pushing. He explained that I had to wait for a contraction and as soon as one started I needed to push while he counted to 10 and only stop pushing to take a break when he reached 10. I was SO TIRED and just wanted him to cut the baby out and be done with it. After one practice pushing session he told me he would be back to check on me. "You're leaving me??" I couldn't believe he was going to walk out when I was trying to push a baby out! "The nurse will page me when you get closer, I'll be just around the corner," he explained. "How much longer till the baby's here?" I asked. "It all depends on how well you push. It would be great if you could have the baby at..."he checked his watch, "1:00 because I have a scheduled Cesarean at 1:30." I looked at the clock behind him and took note of the time. It was barely noon, I had plenty of time. "So the second she beeps you, you'll be here lickety split?" I asked, just to be sure. I swear I saw an evil glint in his eye before he smiled and assured me, "I'm just two seconds away." Somehow, my maternal instincts told me that young cocky doctor wasn't going to be there for me.

With every push I held my breath while the nurse counted to 10 and every time she got to around 7 or 8 I began to see black. After 15 minutes of pushing a corner of my mind thought about my best friend's birth and how she only had to push for 10 minutes before her baby was born. "How many more pushes?" I asked the nurse. "You're doing great," she said without answering my question. Another 15 minutes later I asked her how much longer, again she encouraged me to keep going. 45 minutes later I told her I can't do this anymore and to tell the doctor to just cut the baby out of me. She said it was too late to do that and wheeled over a tall mirror. She sat at the foot of the bed with the mirror beside her and when my next contraction came she placed it in front of me. Disappointment washed over me and left me completely hopeless. A small oval shaped opening about the size of a ping pong ball revealed the top of my baby's head. I could see blood matted in his black hair. I began to weep, "He's never going to come out of me" and the nurse patted my leg and told me to keep on pushing, and that I was doing "great." She paged the doctor and told me the baby would be here soon.

Around this time the Epidural had completely worn off and each contraction forced me to push regardless of whether or not I wanted to or had the energy to. It was like my body knew what to do and wasn't going to surrender to my need to give up. "Where is the doctor?" I demanded. The nurse hurried to the phone to page him again. During one of the next pushes I began to see black and couldn't hold on any longer. I want to say I had an out of body experience as I remember seeing my husband holding my hand, looking at him, looking at me. I heard him say, "Breathe hunny, BREATHE!!!" and I sucked in a breath and then I was looking through the eyes of the body in labor again. Suddenly, the pain of the contractions continued but a new pain demanded my attention. I looked down once more and saw in the reflection of the mirror that the baby's head was crowning. A burning fire erupted with that image. Instinctually my body sensed that pushing was the only way to eventually extinguish the flames that were spreading fast. Of course, the nurse told me to stop pushing at this point.

I think she told her assistant nurse to get a pediatric team in there. "What's wrong?" I asked. "There's meconium," she answered. I knew this meant that the baby had passed a bowl movement in my uterus during labor, but I didn't think it was uncommon or put the baby in any danger, so what was the hold up? Didn't she realize that a baby was hanging out in my birth canal??? My body was trembling from the internal fire that continued to build. I guess a doctor or team of pediatricians entered the room but I don't remember seeing them. An odd suction noise caught my attention and I looked for it and saw a long clear tube running along the side of the bed. They seemed to be pumping a thick brown fluid out of the baby's lungs. I couldn't endure the pain much longer, my body wouldn't hold out any more. "Please hurry!" I cried. And then the fire combusted and I opened my eyes and saw a streak of blood splatter across my nurse's chest. I wanted to die at this point. I didn't feel that beautiful miraculous moment that my baby had entered the world. There was no denying he was here, his shrilling screams filled the room, but I could only focus on my pain, on my desire for it all to be over. My mother was right. She knew me best. The long painful labor and my exhaustion had robbed me of the initial joy I was suppose to feel.

My nurse continued to blot towels against my broken body and I think I went into shock because I was shaking so badly. While the doctors cleaned up my screaming baby, my OB finally entered the room. He had missed the birth entirely, looked over at the crying baby being swaddled and then looked at me. "Nice pushing," he said. I looked at the clock and realized the baby was born shortly after 1:00, just as he had asked, and yet he was nowhere to be found, just as I knew he would be. He took the seat at the foot of the table and began to look me over. "I'm going to give your stomach a little massage," he told me. Well that's the least you can do I thought. In a quick succession of blows he began to apply pressure to my gut, as if he was attempting to pump an extra large heart back to life. As soon as he finished his compressions he reached inside me and began a sweeping search. "WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?" I demanded, catching my breath. "There's not another baby in there!" I was completely taken off guard and thought this man had absolutely no compassion for what I'd just gone through (without his aid) and the aftershock my body was left in. "I had to deliver the placenta," he explained. He started asking the nurse for things that I didn't understand. He began working on my wounds when I asked him how bad the damage was. "Did I tear?" I asked already knowing the answer. "Yes," he answered coldly. "How bad?" I was trying to remember if a first degree tear was worse than a 3rd degree tear (I'd soon learn that there is such a thing as a 4th degree tear). Whatever he was doing began to hurt. "I'll answer all your questions when I'm done. "OUCH!" I cried. "You can feel that?" he asked. Did he not remember that they turned off the Epidural? "YES! I exclaimed. He told the nurse to get him some Novocaine. "Bee-sting," he warned. "Bee-sting" he warned again as he pricked my torn broken flesh, injecting a numbing medication. After a few more ows, I continued with my questions. "Am I hemorrhaging?" "No. I'll explain everything when I'm done," he said impatiently. I let him continue his work with my baby's cries as background noise to mimic my own internal sobbing.

While the doctor was stitching me up the assistant nurse asked me if I was ready to hold my baby. Is she crazy?? I'M DYING here. "I can't hold him," I told her. I knew babies could sense what people are feeling so I didn't want this first moment in my arms to be filled with my lingering pain and anxiety. "Well dad, come over here and hold your son," she said. I gripped Nick's wrist, "don't leave me," I told him. The nurse heard me and said, "Well someone needs to hold this baby!" "Bring him here," Nick said. She walked across the room with our crying baby and handed him to his father. Instantly, baby Ben stopped crying. Nick leaned him forward so that I could look at him for the first time and I wondered if he had been through just as much as I had. I tried to focus my attention on him and not on the ridiculous amount of time the doctor was spending before answering the one-thousand-and-one questions I was waiting to offload. "That's about it," he finally said. "I've got to get to that scheduled Cesarean. Good luck raising a baby." And with that he was gone, and I was left without any of the answers to my questions, worries and fears. As much as I swore I never wanted to see that man again, I was forced to see him a week later when my stitches (that he told me over the phone were impossible to tear) had indeed torn and unravelled leaving me with infections and not one, but two vaginal reconstruction surgeries to follow.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ben's Birth! Part 1

I've had both a traditional vaginal birth and a scheduled Cesarean delivery. Many women are under the impression that it's easier to breastfeed if you've had a natural birth and once you involve drugs and or an emergency / scheduled major surgery it becomes more difficult for the mother to breastfeed. This is probably typically true, however in my case it was the complete opposite. I'll share my experience with both births and how they each affected my nursing abilities.

No two birth stories are alike. If you are familiar with only the beautiful, happy miraculous tales and want to keep those pretty versions untainted then don't read this entry. This birth blog comes with a warning: It is not for the faint-hearted or those with sensitive stomachs. If you've eaten a meal you should treat this blog like swimming and wait 30 minutes before continuing.

Now, if you want the truth, if you can handle all the gory descriptions of a bloody birth then maybe my experience can enlighten or prepare you for what a birth gone bad is really all about. I had the worst birth. Ever! Okay maybe Bella's birth in Breaking Dawn was worse, but hers was fictional, mine was not! (Read the Twilight series, or watch the movie when it comes out November 2011). Back to reality, before Ben was born my visions of what having a baby was going to be like were far, very very far from reality. I have to describe the blissfully ignorant world I lived in prior to Ben's birth so that you can fully appreciate the shock I experienced when reality hit (it didn't help one bit that my husband Nick was just as unprepared and naive as I was).

Towards the end of pregnancy every normal woman is anxious and ready to not be pregnant anymore. I was overly excited to meet the little love creation my husband and I both wanted more than anything. Throughout the entire pregnancy we would talk to my belly, telling Ben how much we loved him and couldn't wait to look at him and hold him. Once I hit 40 weeks Nick began telling Ben to "come out already" and that I shouldn't be "so selfish." He went on to say, "You can't keep him in there forever...just try and push a little." I actually wrote in my journal, "I can't wait till you're born. I want to hear your little cry just so I can hear your voice." Yea, I know you're laughing at me, and I'm laughing too now. Oh the IRONY!

The day before I was scheduled to be induced my mother sat down with me and tried to convince me to make sure an Epidural was lined up in case I needed it and not try to do a natural birth. (Yes I was that naive and wanted to go natural - for those of you who are able to do a natural birth, more power to you!) My mother explained that she had very long, painful births with me and my brother and didn't want me to suffer too. She tried to tell me that if I wasn't in pain I could better appreciate and enjoy the birth experience and would be able to bond better with my baby. I responded with anger, "You think if I don't have an epidural I won't love my baby?!" I snapped back. I wanted to live in my happy bubble and felt she was trying to burst it with her epidural needles!

At 41 weeks and 2 days I was finally induced. I went to the hospital on a Tuesday night (after stuffing as much fettucini Alfredo from the Olive Garden into the little space my baby left for my stomach to expand - this is important you'll know why later). There were six or so OB's at my doctor's office and I favored two of them and planned my induction date according to when those two were on shift back to back. My favorite male doctor had cervidil placed inside me to "ripen my cervix" which means getting it ready for contractions - although his description made me think of green fruit. All night long my adrenaline and nerves kept me pumped. I thought within a few hours my son would be here. Every 30 minutes the band on my arm would squeeze and take my blood pressure, which is always naturally low and would sound off the alarm. After several hours, and this siren being the only action our room was getting, the nurse showed me how to reset the machine so that I wouldn't have to wait for her to do it for me.

The sun rose and baby was nowhere near on his way. My favorite male Doctor's shift had ended so my favorite female doctor hooked me up to an IV with Pitocin. This drug makes the body have contractions and contractions are suppose to push the baby out. I knew my dad was flying up but was completely surprised when my best friend walked through the door behind him. My dad could hardly recognize me I was so swollen, not just from the pregnancy, but with all the fluids from the drugs and IV. My face was the shape of a full moon, distorting my nose and smile. My small audience watched the spiked contractions come and go on the computer screen all day, but I couldn't feel them. I foolishly thought maybe I would be one of those super rare women who experiences zero pain during childbirth. Hehe. We waited and waited and by 6:00pm the nurse took me off the IV because I had no progress and told me to enjoy my "last meal" (I had been put on a liquid diet all day which I made my husband go on as well out of support to me :)  I can't remember if this was the night we ate pizza or steaks from Outback. After dinner the nurse told me that I needed to get some sleep (I hadn't slept Monday night and it was now Wednesday night) because I was going to have a baby the next day and I needed my rest. So, at 10:30 at night she offered me the worst thing in the world you could possibly give a woman in labor - not one, but TWO Ambien sleeping pills. I want to believe she honestly thought this would be helpful and wasn't the actual devil incarnate.

I fell asleep (passed out into a coma) about 30 minutes later and my parents and friend left me to get that much needed rest. Just before midnight my body decided, without Pitocin, that it was the right time to go into labor. I woke from the dead and thought my body was being torn in two. No, it was being torn in two while an unearthly, ungodly force rocked through my entire body, debilitating my capacity to focus on anything but the pain. I vaguely remember Nick trying to breathe with me. The pain faded as suddenly as it came and I went under...maybe from the relief and all the energy it took out of me, or maybe it was because I was drugged with sleeping pills! Seven minutes later I returned to consciousness by the pain that overtook me and left me struggling to breathe. Every five to seven minutes I'd wake to the worst pain imaginable, truly indescribable and pass out the second it ended.

At some point, minutes or hours later I do not know, Nick finally got a nurse to check me over. I remember her trying to make me "stay with her" (and with those words it occurred to me that I must be dying!) so that she could explain that I wasn't dilating yet, but she can offer me some steroid to help with the pain. Pain was the part that I understood. Pain? Yes, that word was probably the closest description to what was happening inside my body. I was so out of it I didn't realize I was in labor, or that I was even pregnant for that matter. Not until she told me that there is a risk to the baby and that it would have to be administered during a contraction. I didn't have the energy to focus or care about anything else she had to say at that point. I passed out and supposedly during my next contraction she gave me some steroid to ease the pain. I say "supposedly" because the pain was never eased and after hours and hours of going through this I finally gripped consciousness enough to make my demands. "Give me an epidural, cut the baby out of me, or kill me!" These were the only options I gave satan my nurse. She explained that an epidural at this point might slow the labor process or bring it to a halt and since I still hadn't begun to dilate I had to wait. If I had to wait I wasn't going to be able to do it awake so I closed my eyes, sought darkness and went back under. After the next contraction the doctor was in the room and I restated my demands. The doctor examined me internally but she still wouldn't give me an epidural. She never cut the baby out, and she obviously didn't kill me...