Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Supermodels don't know everything

A couple months ago, Giselle Bundchen was quoted saying there should be a “worldwide law that mothers should breastfeed their babies for six months”. I remember how much that comment irritated me because my own experience with breastfeeding had been so difficult and it seemed as though she was completely disregarding the possibility that breastfeeding might not be the best option for all women.

People kept telling me what a great bonding experience it would be to nurse my child… and for me it has been, but it took a long time to get there. What made matters even worse for me in the beginning was the feeling that I was the only one having trouble. Eventually I reached out to friends and family and quickly learned that most women I spoke to had experienced many of the same problems I was dealing with. Whether their milk never came in, or the pain never got any better, or their baby never learned to latch on, many of the women I talked to stopped breastfeeding sooner than they planned.

I think it’s important that people acknowledge how difficult it can be for some women and respect their decision to do so or not. Below is a recap of my own experience and how I got to where I am today.

I was determined to breastfeed but from the first hour Nathan was born, I struggled. He couldn’t figure out how to latch on properly so it hurt. A lot. Plus my milk took a few days to come in so even when he did latch on for a minute or two, he wouldn’t get anything. I was in tears from the pain. Nathan was in tears from hunger. I would watch Will and our parents and our friends cuddle Nathan and hold him and gaze at him. And I would sit there dreading the next time he let out a hungry cry, knowing I would have to pick him up and attempt to feed him again. Picking up my baby was becoming a negative experience and that was breaking my heart. We were both miserable and we were certainly not bonding!

Breastfeeding was supposed to be a natural thing, why was I having such a hard time?? I can’t remember how many times I broke down crying in the first few weeks. People kept telling me to rest, that I was just exhausted and needed to catch up on sleep. But how can you catch up on sleep when your newborn wants to nurse every two hours and each attempt took a half hour, sometimes longer? I tried everything. I read books, I watched YouTube videos. It looked so easy. Yet every time I tried to feed him, we faced the same problem, we just couldn’t figure it out. I took him to a breastfeeding clinic where lactation specialists worked with me to help find a comfortable position and worked with Nathan, helping him learn how to latch on. But when we got home, neither Nathan nor I could repeat what we had learned.

One night around 2 or 3 in the morning, Nathan was crying hysterically from hunger and frustration and I was crying from guilt and pain. The hospital had sent us home with sample bottles of formula and I finally gave in and fed him one. He drank the whole thing in minutes and quickly fell asleep and so did I. I kept trying to nurse him day after day, week after week, until one day I realized it didn’t hurt anymore and Nathan was actually eating. Will walked in the room one morning to see me simultaneously nursing Nathan while filing his fingernails, and said “Wow, you’ve come a long way."

I don’t know why I was so against formula. I think I associated it with being a failure because I felt so much pressure to breastfeed. The importance of breastfeeding had been drilled into my head week after week during our childbirth class, and in my pregnancy books, and on posters hanging in my doctor's waiting room. It seemed like everywhere I turned, I heard that annoying phrase “Breast is Best”. And I knew it was but it just made me feel guilty for ever wanting to use formula.

One person who never pressured me was my amazing husband. Will was incredibly supportive and told me again and again that I was doing a great job and it was OK to use formula and give myself a break. He wanted me to be happy and to enjoy my time at home with Nathan. He wisely pointed out that although breastfeeding might be best for baby, you also have to consider what’s best for Mommy. Nobody benefits from a mom who’s stressed out and crying all the time, especially the baby. What worked for me was eventually switching to formula for nighttime feeds since after almost 3 months, Nathan was still waking multiple times throughout the night to eat and I was losing my mind from lack of sleep. Switching him to formula at night allowed Will to help out with night feedings and let me catch up on much needed sleep.

I look back at those first few weeks now and I’m proud of myself for sticking it out. But I can also acknowledge that had I decided to stop breastfeeding, Nathan would have been just fine. What’s important is that your baby is fed. And whether you feed him breastmilk or formula, it does not say anything about what kind of mother you are or how much you love your baby.

So take that Giselle and stick it in your teeny weeny Victoria Secret bikini!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Starting solids 101

We've been feeding Nathan cereal for just over a week now and we gave him some banana last night.

Lessons learned so far.

1. Don't give baby his first ever bite of fruit an hour before bedtime.... sugar rush!
2. Make sure baby has his own spoon or he will endlessly try to grab yours.
3. Don't stop to take pictures or baby will move onto eating foot and lose interest in food.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

On being pregnant

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that Nathan was once in my belly. That a human being literally grew inside my body! Some women hate being pregnant, some are indifferent and I fall into the third category – I loved it.

I was lucky to have a fairly easy pregnancy. Of course I could have gone without the first trimester – I was tired, dizzy and nauseous all the time. Living in NYC, I was used to walking everywhere and suddenly I couldn’t go a few blocks without having to stop and rest, or put my head between my legs. And the worst part is that nobody knew I was pregnant so I had to pretend I felt fine.

The second trimester was fun. I was starting to actually look pregnant (instead of just looking like I had finished the biggest meal of my life) but I felt great. The morning sickness was gone and I could actually talk to people about the pregnancy because we announced it to friends and family at 14 weeks. And the bigger my belly got, the more I loved being pregnant. Let’s face it, people are nice to pregnant women! I always got a seat on the subway. People told me I was glowing. And I got to buy a whole new wardrobe to fit my ever growing belly :) And the absolute best part… you start to feel the baby move around. Tiny little flutters that at first make you think “Maybe that was the baby?” turned into tiny jabs and kicks and you know “There is someone in there!!”

The third trimester was crazy. I was getting ENORMOUS! I had to pee all the time. I could barely get out of bed. I could never get comfortable. But it was so surreal and there were so many “If I don’t laugh, I’ll cry” moments that I look back at now and still laugh. I remember staring at my belly, not able to remember what I had once looked like without it. I would tell Will “I can’t imagine not having this gigantic belly!” But now I can’t really remember what it felt like to have it all that time.

There was one night where I got sad that my pregnancy was coming to an end. I remember thinking how strange it would be to no longer feel “Flipper” inside my belly. We had spent every single moment together for the past 40 weeks and I was going to miss resting my hand on my belly feeling him move around, selfishly enjoying that I had him all to myself. But Will very quickly pointed out “If you love feeling him move around inside your belly so much, just wait until you can see him and hold him!” And of course, he was right.

While I loved being pregnant, all good things come to an end and this end was so rewarding. Seeing Nathan for the first time and holding him was by far better than any of my favorite pregnant moments. And being able to have a glass of wine at night is great too!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Bon appetit

Nathan had his very first bite of real food last night! Well... if you consider watery, baby rice cereal real food. I dipped my finger in the bowl and took a taste, it pretty much tastes like cold, watery oatmeal. I wasn't too impressed.

I'm not sure Nathan was a big fan either because most of it just got pushed back out of his mouth, accompanied with a look of disgust. After 5 months of only nursing or bottle feeding, he also seemed confused as to why Mommy kept trying to shove a weird stick in his mouth over and over.

But once he gets comfortable with the spoon in his mouth and understands how to move the food around and swallow it, we can move onto the fun stuff like bananas and avocado!

Monday, September 6, 2010

In honor of Labor Day, a recap of my labor

Friday, April 9th
My due date comes and goes. My doctor tells me to enjoy the weekend but to plan on coming in Tuesday night to be induced.

Sunday, April 11th
7:00 pm - Walking, sex, spicy food.... hoping one of the old wives tales will work

11:00 pm - Go to bed

11:25 pm - Something worked, my water breaks and wakes me up

11:26 pm - I go into panic mode!

Monday, April 12th
12:00 am - Talk to the on call doctor at the hospital, she tells me to come in so I can be checked

12:30 am - Will and I head to the 24 hour pharmacy at the corner to buy sanitary pads as I am officially a leaking faucet.

12:35 am - 24 hour pharmacy is closed! Yellow caution tape, nobody allowed in. (Still to this day have no idea what happened in there but of course it happened the one time we needed to take advantage of the 24 hour aspect!)

12:40 am - I head home, unable to keep a straight face as I am basically peeing my pants in public, continuously. Will heads to the next closest pharmacy, 3 blocks away

12:50 am - Will calls to tell me "There are a million different kinds, what do I get?" I reply "The biggest, fattest ones you can find - look for words like Overnight, Heavy and Maximum"

2:00 am - We leave our apartment for the last time as a couple and catch a cab and head to the hospital 12 blocks away

2:30 am - Admitted into hospital - start to feel slight contractions


4:10 am - Only 1 cm?!?! Do I want an epidural? YES!!!!


7:00 am - Anesthesia comes, epidural is administered

7:01 am - Happy as a clam


2:30 pm - Grandparents arrive, come up and say hi before heading to the waiting room to await the birth of their granddaughter or grandson

5:30 pm - Time to push.... This is crazy, I can't believe I'm pushing a baby out! Oh my god, I can't push anymore.

6:01 pm - Welcome Nathan Bradley!