Here’s another blog post Ive been trying to get done for a while. But I never want to write a post just to finish something. I really like to make sure I’m in the right mind set to go back in time to those first raw real moments after becoming a mom. I never want to rob my readers of the realness each post brings. And its not always easy for me to reach down deep and pull out the hard times and shares my struggles. Usually the last thing I want to do after a long day of doing, what seems like, absolutely nothing is reflect and relive those emotionally high moments. And that is exactly what our nursing journey has looked like. Highly difficult and highly beautiful.
If I’m being honest, before I became a mom the thought of having someone suck on my boob just seemed barbaric. And if Brian would have been home during those first couple of sleepless months I would have given up and resorted to bottle feeding. However I had to cover the nightly feedings my self. Well most every feeding my self. My milk took about 3-4 days to come in. And since Adaline was taken from me it was a lot harder than it should have been. I remember this specific time in the shower, before getting ready to go to the NICU, just crying and I literally lifted my boobs up (like they were a living sacrifice) and prayed that The Lord would fill me with milk. Sorry if thats TMI. Like I said, raw and real emotions here. I think my milk came in the next day. But that was after lots of breast massages, hot compresses, lactation tea and cookies and a hysterical moment between me, my mom, my sister and an old fashion hand pump. We actually made a joke they were my milk maids. I would wake up every 3 hours in the middle of the night to pump, even though Adaline wasn’t home with me yet. I should have gotten my last couple nights of full uninterrupted sleep, but lets be honest, there wasn’t any sleeping being done. More just crying until my eyes were so puffy and swollen I had to shut them for an hour or so. And once my milk came in having adaline take the breast was IMPOSSIBLE. She was covered in wires and IV’s and I had NO idea what I was doing. We had asked to see a lactation specialist like 3 times, but no one ever showed. I think Adaline latched for about 10 min total the first week.
Down Syndrome babies have a hard time nursing because of their small palette and low muscle tone. But nursing is a huge benefit for DS, if you can conquer the challenge. It helps strengthen their muscle tone in the tongue and prevents them from having severe speech problems. So I was determined to make it work. Plus, knowing that these NICU nurses were pretty much being her mom made me want to be able to give Adaline something that no one else could. And I knew what my milk was being made of.
Once she came home from the NICU feedings were worse. I tried EVERYTHING. I played music, I sang, we took baths to destress her, I tried every position there is. And after 6 long weeks of screaming, crying, mastitis, a week of formula and a gnarly rash we FINALLY conquered Breastfeeding and haven’t looked back. We have been EBF for 6 months! And man it has been beautiful. I am SO proud of her. Something we were told would be hard, and man were they right, Adaline conquered. And now she won’t even think about a bottle. Which is not always fun. I’d like to go on an overnight date with my husband for the first time in almost a year.
Sometimes I wonder if I should have stuck to pumping so other people could bond with her and feed her. But actually, I have to fight for time with Adaline because everyone is obsessed with her. So nursing guarantees me having her at least every 4 hours. Im not sure if Ill be as motivated for the next one. If there is a next one.
Nursing has lots of pros and cons. I know everyone knows the health pros. But since Ive done both pumping, formula and nursing I can say that nursing is the easiest for convience. No clean up, no preheating, no freezing, no packing or defrosting. Just pop it in and go. Though sometimes the looks, whispers and comments are uncomfortable. However, not being able to wear certain clothes is SO annoying, and not having a break isn’t very fun. But all part of the sacrifice we moms make for our children. Overall, I am very proud of Adaline for nursing so long. And my body is pretty cool too for being able to produce her main source of food.
A lot of you have asked how I got Adaline to sleep through the night so young. And I have one word for you. Well two. Schedule Feeding. Now, I know schedule feeding isn’t for everyone. And I am not one to force my methods onto anyone. So this following insert is for those of you who asked.
Schedule feeding pretty much started day 1 for us. Adaline was transferred to Queen of the Valley NICU 2 hours after she was born. And they have a pretty strict schedule. She was to be fed every 3 hours. Ie. 2 am, 5 am, 8 am, 11 am, 2 pm, 5 pm, 8 pm, 11 pm. Repeat. They always fed her after she woke up from a nap. So the schedule went wake, change diaper, check temperature, feed, and then when I was there we would get to hold her for an hour after the feeding and bond and then she would sleep for another hour. And actually those first couple days she slept most of the bonding time. So almost 1.2-2 hours every three hours. So thats kind of confusing so I’ll write it all out in a time frame.
8 am: Wake up
8:05 : Change Diaper
8:10 Check temperature
8:15 Begin Feeding
9:00 Burp + Change Diaper
9:00-9:30: Play time/bonding
9:30-11:00: Nap time
After the first week of this I decided to change the schedule to be on the 3rd hour.i.e.
3 am, 6 am, 9 am, 12 pm, 3 pm, 6 pm, 9 pm, 12 am. Once she was about 12 weeks old she was sleeping 10-12 hours through the night. So our last feeding would be 9 pm. We would give her a bath and let her float around and play so she’s extra tired. End the night with a little massage and then she would fall right asleep. Now that she is 7 months old and teething she wakes up about 5 am every morning. Her last feeding is usually 7 pm so she is still going the 10 hours without eating. We should keep her up later and she would sleep in later but my husband starts work early so we go to bed around 8 or 9pm. And its pretty crucial for our relationship to end each night with at least 2 hours to our selves.
We don’t really co-sleep, other than the past couple weeks when she wakes up throughout the night from teething. But once those suckers breakthrough its back to her crib…hopefully. She sleeps in the same room as us anyways, so I trick her into thinking she’s falling asleep with me, but really she’s going to be in her crib. Im sure she will eventually catch on. Also, Adaline goes about 4-4.5 hours in between each feeding now since she was 5 moths old. Down Syndrome people have a harder time telling when they are full and I noticed Adaline started wanting to snack all the time, instead of full meals and then her tummy would hurt. So we switched to only 10 min each side every 4 hours. She’s definitely not starving. Got to love those baby rolls. Why can’t arm rolls on me be super cute?
When I say Adaline is on a strict schedule, I guess its not really true. haha. What I mean is that we have a system. But just like anyone else life, things comes up. I don’t just sit at home and wait around for the next nap or the next feeding. Sometimes she skips a nap, and its usually the first nap of the day she doest take because she just slept 10 hours. Or sometimes she will eat at 5 am and then sleep until 7 am. I listen to her body and the things she needs. When she is sick or teething we nurse more on demand. If there is nothing that can soothe her other than nursing, then we nurse. If we have dinner reservations at a time where she would eat, then I will feed her before we leave, or push her off another hour because I fed her longer than normal the feeding before. Essentially, you are your child’s mother. There is no wrong or right way to do this. Everyone is different. You figure out what works for you both.
As for foods we stay away from when nursing there are lots. Well, I don’t stay away from them all, but I make sure I have the essentials to help Adaline digest my milk if I know I will be eating them. Here are some of the side effects some foods give Adaline…
Dairy–> Watery stool
MSG –> Constipation
Cranberries –> Rash
Chocolate –> Rash
Indian/Thai/Pho/ Mediterranean –> CANNOT HAVE ( which sucks because its my favorite)
I think thats about it. We’ve started on some solids. She hates the puffs, they hurt her stomach. I think she might not be able to have gluten. So far she has had carrot, sweet potato and butternut squash puree. I’ve let her try apple, pear, lemon ( she loves it), orange, pickle ( also loves it), and zucchini all by holding the actual food and bringing it to her mouth. She gets mad when you take it away. Sounds like this mama. She’s not crawling yet, so we aren’t supplementing meals with solids. Hopefully soon though. Whenever she sits on my lap while I eat she always tries to grab my drink or my fork. Its the funniest thing ever. I have to eat or drink completely off the side of the table so she doesn’t knock it out of my hand.
I don’t want to make this super long, because its not super interesting. And like I said before, just because something works for me doesn’t mean it will work for you. And don’t get discouraged. You are his/her mom. You know whats best for your baby. I don’t. I simply just want to share my experiences and trial and errors with you. If it works for you then awesome, Im happy to help. And if it doesn’t, its okay. You’re not doing anything wrong. Your child is breathing and eating and loved. You’re doing everything right.
Best strong + Be fearless.
Onesie by : Deck & Oar