Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Go With the Flow

"There are three reasons for breast-feeding: the milk is always at the right temperature; it comes in attractive containers; and the cat can't get it." ~Irena Chalmers

Say the word "breastfeeding" and its like a game of stream of consciousness. People love it, people hate it. People think its beautiful and natural, people think its vulgar and inappropriate. Phrases like "Granola Mom" and "Nursing Nazi" get thrown around. I've heard it was the worst experience for people, and I've heard its a bunch of tree loving hippie crap. Sometimes I think our country's Puritan foundations make for all kinds of panties being put in a twist over baring a boob in public, regardless of whether its because of a wardrobe malfunction or to feed a hungry baby.

But I do breastfeed. I've breastfed Monkey and Scootch, and I'm breastfeeding Little Bear. And yes its beautiful and natural, but its also because I'm kind of lazy and poor. To me its infinitely easier to pull my kid out of the co-sleeper and yank up my shirt when he's hungry in the middle of the night, than to have to stumble downstairs in the pitch dark and cold to fumble in the kitchen with making a bottle. And its also easier for me to always be able to whip out the pump and make a bag of liquid gold for free instead of running out to the store for formula. It might not be the answer for everybody, but it works for me. Even if it doesn't work as smoothly as it should.

No matter what anyone else thinks about breastfeeding, I always liken it to the endurance course I had to do at Scout Camp when I was 16. We were split up into groups and each group had to work through different pieces of an obstacle course, only getting assigned the next challenge when you completed the piece of equipment you were currently on. So there really was no time to plan ahead, or plan in which order your team members should go according to their strengths and weaknesses. It was just hard and surprising. For everyone. To me breastfeeding is the same way. There are so many problems, and so many issues, and there is no way to know ahead of time or plan for them all. Some kids don't latch. Some kids are allergic to the milk. Some moms can't make enough milk, and some moms make too much.

I've struggled with oversupply with all 3 kids. Basically my body makes enough milk for triplets instead of a single baby and so the quality of the milk isn't balanced enough, making for all kinds of gas and discomfort in the infant. With Monkey it was really bad. I mean, I was a first time mom, following the guidelines of 10 minutes each side that they told you at the hospital. She wasn't a great nurser to begin with, so there was alot of sipping going on just to tease my body into thinking it had to make more, more, MORE milk. I was also pumping a lot to stockpile a frozen supply, which didn't help either. Poor kid was almost 5 months old before I finally figured out why we had such a love hate relationship with nursing. She'd sit there and scream and fight the entire time she was gulping and clawing at me. But after that experience, I was on the alert with Scootch. I made sure not to repeat any of the mistakes I made with Monkey. He also turned out to be a champ in the nursing department. I think he was born, stuck on my chest, and was eating within 6 minutes or something. Total boob man from the beginning.

Little Bear's experience is back to being frustrating again. I knew I'd have the oversupply issue again as soon as my milk came in, and nursing time became the bit in UHF where the little boy got to drink from the firehose. I had to make sure Little Bear wasn't drowning at each feeding. I started block feeding to try and even out the milk supply which leaves me walking around with a lopsided chest. And all those "beautiful" and "natural" people really need to experience the beautiful natural pain that goes hand in hand with this. Letdown likened to the force of a pressure washer isn't a comfortable thing. But its 6 weeks later, and I think we're "over the hump" as my Dad likes to say. I actually get nursing sessions followed by soft smiles and coos instead of just being done with the screaming and ending the feeding. I'm still block feeding, but its taking less time per block to get to the point where we can switch to the other side and even out my appearance. So I'm hoping the dedication comes through. Because I'm still too cheap to want to have to shell out money for formula.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


My husband has a theory about Deja Vu, and the easiest way to sum it up is to use a line a character said in one of the shows my husband follows. "Deja Vu is just fate letting you know you're on the right path."

Well, my premonition about Scootch having a food allergy issue around Christmas came true today. Not the same as Deja Vu, since I would have actually known what to expect, but I'm starting to think it works along the same lines.

I don't know if you can tell from the above picture, but that is Scootch with his eyes swollen from an allergy attack. He looked much worse before the picture, and the case of hives that he had on his hands looked even more worse than that. His Grandmother ate some walnuts while we were visiting today and then put her hands on Scootch. I'm not sure whether she helped him with his coat, or if they came in contact when she was saying goodbye to him, but while I was walking him out to the car he was scratching his wrists like crazy. So I pulled up his coat sleeves to take a look and his wrists and hands were covered in hives. I quickly had hubby give him one of the Benadryl Perfect Measures I carry on me, and then I wiped his hands with a baby wipe. Apparently the baby wipe didn't do enough, though, because he rubbed his eyes and by the time we got home he was crying that his eyes hurt and the left one was halfway swollen shut.

More hand scrubbing followed by nail trimming (in case any residue was still under his nails) followed by cold compresses and we had ourselves one unhappy (but somewhat healing) little boy. But now that its hours later and I'm having time to reflect, I can feel the panic rattling under the lid I have clamped down on my anxiety. I mean, I don't even want to imagine what his reaction would be to ingesting a walnut if this is what happens if he merely touches one. After him having no reaction when exposed to almonds, I was actually feeling a little optimistic about his food allergy. Now I'm back to being completely terrified and feeling entirely helpless and vulnerable.

And the hardest part is that Scootch really isn't old enough to understand. He didn't understand why he kept itching, had no clue why he had to take medicine, or why his eyes were "hurting" after he had rubbed them. And meanwhile, Monkey is asking me if I have to use the needles on Scootch, or if he has to go to the hospital. Not exactly the right thoughts to be putting in my head at the moment, but it floored me a little that she was so astute of the situation. Even while she was telling Scootch that she knows he's sick from food he shouldn't have because he has the "polka dots" on his hands.

Walnuts: 1, Kel: 0