Dr. King, Love, and Nonviolence

It seems appropriate that on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I was reflecting on love and nonviolence.  Dr. King did, after all, reshape an entire country nonviolently because of his love for his fellow human beings and the tragedy of segregation that separated us and limited our ability to fully love one another as people.

I mentioned previously that I intend to start reading Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg. Getting through the first few pages was a real struggle.  When I read his words, I found myself thinking, “What about me? What about my needs?  I’m not a doormat.”  There were several times that I put the book down and just walked away after reading only a few paragraphs.

As I progressed (slowly) through the chapter though, my thoughts evolved from, “What about me?” to “Hmm, so I can use this to get people to do what I want?”  And then I felt horrible because, really, doesn’t that seem pretty manipulative?  And that’s not who I am at all.

But I stuck it out.  As I got to the end of the chapter, the puzzle pieces began to fall into place and I realized what I am getting myself into.  This isn’t a book to learn a different way of talking so you can move through life more easily.  This is a complete shift in how you think, feel, and respond to others.  This book isn’t about dealing with other people.  It’s about inner change.

That scares me a little.  I don’t want to lose who I am.  In a lot of ways, I am a fighter.  I’ve got a stubborn spirit, and I believe in standing up for what’s right even if that means ruffling some feathers.  But then I think of my friend Paris who stands up for what’s right every single day and who inspired me to learn more about this whole nonviolent communication thing, and I go back to the quote I posted the other day from Dr. King:

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

Paris truly loves the people around her.  She surrounds herself with love.  She doesn’t do it to get people around her to change.  She just truly and honestly loves her fellow people.  She manifests that love by reaching out and empowering other women to nurse their babies.  Yes, really.

My dear friend Paris
My dear friend Paris

Look at it this way, what is a more basic act of love than nourishing a baby at the breast?  When you do that, you are flooded with love hormones.  It’s hard to be angry while you are nursing.  And that place of love is where Paris builds a sisterhood.  We are all sisters in motherhood.  We all go share so many experiences.  And there is a tremendous power to change the world when so many loving women come together.  We gave birth to our babies.  We feed them with our bodies.  We are physical manifestations of the divine.  We certainly can change the world with our love.

I am so grateful to count Paris among my friends.  It is people like Paris and Dr. King and Gandhi and others who shape anger into love and create peaceful and lasting change.

 

Lactation Rooms – Your Right

Here is a link to a fantastic post from Mamas at Work.  Cynthia worked hard to research these letters for a friend of hers who was struggling with finding a place to pump at work.  The letters included here are fantastic and could help any mom who needs help talking to her employer about finding space to pump at work.  She also included a letter for childcare facilities that goes into detail about breastmilk and the USDA food program and babies older than 12 months.

Many thanks to Cynthia for putting this together.

 

Lactation Rooms – Your Right.

Wild and Wonderful Toddler Nursing

I finally have to admit to myself that Cricket is a toddler.  She’s walking, starting to talk, getting more and more active, and starting to lose her baby rolls and chub.  I’ve been mourning this quite a bit.  She is my last baby, and while it’s amazing to see her grow, I have a lot of nostalgia for the cuddly baby stage.

These days, cuddles are short and to the point.  So is nursing for that matter.  Sometimes.  And then sometimes nursing takes hours and hours.

That’s right.  We’ve entered the land of…

Toddler Nursing

Anyone who has practiced full-term breastfeeding (also known as extended breastfeeding) is going to be able to empathize with me on this.

Toddler nursing can be exasperating.  Now is when the acrobatics start.  They nurse standing up, upside down, standing on one foot while balance on your leg (Cricket’s

personal favorite). They latch on and off as people walk past and daily activity happens around them.  Can you blame them?  The world is interesting!

They’ve learned to verbally (or with sign language) ask to nurse* and, like any new exciting skill, they like to practice.  A lot.  This means that they seem to constantly ask to nurse.

They are also learning to control their environments, which means that some babies (Cricket) may take to trying to open the shirt themselves.  Often in public.  Or in front of your male boss.

It is absolutely okay to teach nursing manners.  In fact, it is critical to do so at this time.  Teaching baby to show respect and kindness to Mama helps them to learn respect and kindness for themselves and others.  For shirt opening, I immediately either put her down or pass her to her dad. Consistency is key. She is gradually getting better.

Between the ages of 15 and 20 months, they seem to nurse like newborns!  Round the clock!  This is because they are in the middle of growth spurts, teething, and learning that they are independant people. Is it any wonder they need to come back to Mama so much for reassurance?

“I want to run and play, but I need to make sure you will still be here Mommy. You’re still here, right? That was a fun slide! Wait! Where’s Mommy? Oh, thank goodness. There you are! I still need you, Mommy. Don’t leave without me.”

Toddler nursing is just as wonderful as it is wild. Finally, they can thank us and show appreciation for our hard work. A kiss on the cheek, clapping, words of thanks, and hugs are just a few of the ways toddlers show us that they love us.  Those bedtime nursings are still the soft quiet times that they were in the beginning.  We still get to watch those big eyes slowly close in sleep.  The magic is still there.

Like everything else, toddler nursing is a stage.  The hard parts and easy parts and parts that you want to remember forever.

We are in the autumn of our breastfeeding relationship now, and every cuddle and every nursing is precious and fleeting.

*Let me be very clear for the “When they can ask for it, it’s time to stop” crowd: Babies ask to nurse from the moment they are born. We just don’t always understand their language. Believing that they should stop nursing when they finally learn our language is like telling an adult that he can’t have sushi anymore because he learned Japanese.

Guest Post: Misconceptions about Motherhood

P1040069_2Liz is taking a leave of absence from public education to care for her 18 month old and emotionally needy border collie. Before Liz stayed home, she taught every grade from Kindergarten to 8th, but loved middle school because that is where the real changes in life happen.  When she was working, her husband cared for their daughter and then he worked afternoons and nights. Being a mom to her daughter is the best job she has ever had.

I thought having a baby would be easy, like having another dog. I know, don’t laugh at me. I assumed I would feed it and it would sleep, or that I would be able to sit and write while my baby would play on the floor by my feet. Ha Ha Ha. Right now I have to decide if I take this moment of peace while she plays with her shoes to pee or start writing this blog. write while my baby would play on the floor by my feet. Ha Ha Ha.

Right now I have to decide if I take this moment of peace while she plays with her shoes to pee or start writing this blog. Keep in mind that I went back to work at 8 weeks, but I definitely did not have any idea of how much a baby would need me, it’s mother.

The purpose of this blog is not to scare people, but to tell the honest truth so people can have some idea of what they are getting into so they can schedule their lives. My husband always jokes, “You mean it’s not as simple as the new parenting videos make it out to be?”

In the beginning:
A few months before my baby was born, a friend told me that nursing was a part time job. I didn’t really believe it. But no, she is right. A new baby needs to nurse every two to three hours, and sometimes will want more, especially during growth spurts, every four, six and eight weeks. A new baby nurses 10-12 times a day; this is important because it establishes milk supply. During this time I watched a lot of Gilmore Girls. Some people read. Learning to sideways nurse helped a lot because then I could sort of sleep.

The first eight weeks are hard, very hard for someone who isn’t used to sitting down. I had to tell myself that the time would pass and it sure did. It seems like only yesterday I was holding her on a breastfeeding pillow.

A new baby wants to be held, a lot. I assumed that I would nurse the baby and put it to sleep in it’s bed. I learned that that moment between sleep and awake is a fragile moment to a baby, and that they cry. A lot.

I also learned that the best way to maintain my sanity was to wear her on me in either a sling or a wrap; my Moby Wrap and I became great friends because I could have my hands free.

We also danced a lot and bounced on a yoga ball because babies have gas, lots of it. The first eight weeks we nursed, I burped her after each feeding, sometimes we nursed again, we went for walks with her in the Moby, I tried to nap during the day as I was used to getting more than five hours of sleep at a time (a record for new moms actually), she would fall asleep on me or in the Moby and I would have a few moments to relax before it all started up again.

Motherhood is hard. No one tells you that. Sometimes we assume that they will be like little dolls that we can just give a bottle or pacifier and all will be alright. That’s certainly a fantasy world. My child had no interest in a pacifier, which turned out to be a good thing because now I don’t have to figure out how to take it away from her.

Now I went back to work at 8 weeks and I pumped at work. When I came home I still had all the usual chores like shopping, laundry, pulling weeds, cooking and cleaning etc. For getting these things done, I found my Ergo and sling to be indispensable because I could wear her and be close to her and not feel like I was away from her too much. Every day when I got home if it was still light out, I either put her in the Moby or Ergo and we walked, my favorite part of the day. She was happiest when she was involved and up close by me because I could talk to her, sing to her, and she could look at me and feel me.

When she got older and could sit up on her own, I put her in our Bob stroller and we went for longer walks. Of course I also brought a carrier and kept it underneath after learning that pushing a stroller and holding a sad baby is not a fun thing to do.

When she was nine months old I took some time off work, but that month my baby, who crawled at six months, started walking. Before she was born, I assumed there would be so much down time, time to do other things like I used to always. I didn’t count on all the time it takes to dress a baby, comfort and nurse a baby, bathe a baby, and then when baby was eating food, clean up the food that ended up on the ground and in baby’s hair etc. What I’m getting at is that life is different. So different. But so good! I wouldn’t trade a moment of this because watching her grow is the most fascinating thing I have ever seen.

The great thing about babies is that they are portable and travel well. When she was 4 months, we took her to Washington DC and the Smithsonian. From 10 days to 9 months, she spent quite a lot of time traveling to San Diego to visit family and also went camping a few times. At 10-11 months, we took a three week road trip up to Washington. A few weeks shy of her first birthday, we went to Hawaii. Since then she has been camping in Sequoia and has also flown to Michigan. Having a baby changes life, but she’s just a little person who can enjoy the adventure, too.

In the time that I wrote this blog (a little over an hour), I have also stopped my now 18 month old from taking my books off the shelf, have read her a book about South African animals (she picked it!), taken out the ice packs from the freezer because she wanted them (I don’t know why), watched her climb in and out of our Bob stroller and play with the buckle while putting on and off a hat and putting a hat on a ratty dog toy. She has worked on a puzzle, gotten frustrated with the puzzle and crawled on my lap because she wanted to type. I have taken her to sit on the potty and we read her farm book four times. I just left her in her room after we played with her farm animals for a minute, but now I hear her taking out her books. Things change a lot between 8 weeks and 18 months. Now excuse me, I’m being handed a Dr. Seuss book. Time for me to exercise my oscar winning actress skills on my rendition of Oh the Things You Can Think.

Links: Pumping at work: http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/pumping/what-to-expect-when-pumping/

The first week: http://kellymom.com/bf/normal/newborn-nursing/

Nursing: http://kellymom.com/ages/newborn/bf-basics/latch-resources/

breastfriend pillow: http://www.mybrestfriend.com

carriers: http://www.thebabywearer.com

Chronic Plugged Ducts and How I’m Fighting Them

I think it’s finally time to admit to myself that I’m having an issue with plugged ducts. A plugged duct is when one of the milk ducts becomes blocked and milk can’t exit the breast.  A hard, painful lump can form as the milk backs up.  If the milk isn’t removed, a plug has the potential to develop into mastitis, which is an infection of the breast.  Think fever, chills, nausea, etc.  Plugged ducts are not fun.

I’ve had six instances of plugged ducts in the last month and a half, which is more than I had the entire three and a half years of nursing the Grasshopper.  Twice now, the plugs have been especially exciting because I’ve gotten a bleb along with them.  A bleb is a hardened bit of milk that forms a blister right at the nipple. Once, I got a mild case of mastitis and ended up missing work because of it.  Obviously, there’s something going on.

I brought it up the last La Leche League meeting, and I got some great help.  We really thought together about what kinds of things I notice before a plug occurs.  Here’s what I came up with.  My plugged ducts coincide with:

  • My husband travelling for work
  • Eating fast food
  • Especially wakeful periods for Cricket
  • Missed pumping sessions at work
  • Feelings of stress, anger, and disconnect
  • Allowing Cricket to roll her lips in for a lazy latch

In doing some online reading, it seems like these items play into the risk factors for developing plugged ducts: sleep deprivation, stress, poor diet, bad latch, failure to remove milk.

Priority number one with all of this is to clear the plug and remove the milk.  Easier said than done.  My old stand-by trick is to lay the baby on her back on bed, turn myself around so that her chin points at the plug, and nurse over her so that her suction and gravity can clear the plug.  Trouble is, that hasn’t worked the last two times.  The resulting let-downs from the nursing just seemed to make the plug worse.

At this point, hand expression seems to work best.  I express most of the milk out (or have her nurse for a while).  Then I start hand expressing very gently over the area.  If you don’t know how to hand express, here’s a YouTube video.  This is an incredibly valuable skill.

Once I get to the point where I can look really closely and see the pore that is clogged (I typically see a bit of white that just isn’t coming out), I gently squeeze on the nipple to work that bit out.  A warm wet washcloth or even getting into a warm bath really helps with this.  Typically, that bit will come out with a POW! and I’ll be able to very easily hand express the backed up milk out.  Massaging at the front of the plug, instead of trying to push it from the back), can also help loosen things up and get it moving.

If you have a clog that you just can’t get out, get help!  Find a lactation consultant.  Ask for help from (dare I say?) your husband.  Don’t let it sit around.  Having a plug long-term is not only really painful, but it can lead to mastitis.

At this point, I’ve got my plug clearing routine down.  But how do I keep from getting them in the first place?

Here’s what I’m doing to try to prevent plugs from forming:

  • Removing milk often (as in, no more skipping pumping sessions)
  • Taking a lecithin supplement
  • Trying to eat healthier, whole foods
  • Paying careful attention to Cricket’s latch
  • Taking a few minutes each day to relax and have some time for myself

So far, this seems to be helping, but I think to a certain extent, the occasional plug may just be part of my landscape right now with my oversupply.  I’m okay with it happening once every few months, but I’m looking forward to a few plug-free weeks.

Here are some more resources that I found on plugged ducts.

Have you had plugged ducts?  How did you deal with them?  Do you have any tricks for getting rid of them?

Keeping up your supply while you’re pumping and working

I mentioned in my post about maintaining my stash that I have seen both sides of the supply coin.  With the Grasshopper, I struggled to keep up my supply.  Now with Cricket I have an oversupply.  My friend over at gratimood (check her out, she’s a fantastic writer), emailed me and asked me how I keep up my supply while I work.

I remember when I had to go back to work with the Grasshopper.  I had so many questions as a first time mom, but my biggest concern was this: How much milk would she need and how would I keep up?  She was a pretty big baby after all.  How could I pump enough milk?

Imagine my joy when I learned that breast milk isn’t based on Baby’s age and weight!  Not even a little bit!  The breast milk grows and changes with your baby, so you don’t increase the bottle size as baby grows.  So forget those complicated weight-based formulas.  Let them leave your mind forever like lost kites in the wind.

Replace that idea with this:

Breastfed babies take in, on average, 25 oz per day.  That’s roughly 1 oz per hour.  So all you need to do is figure out how many hours you will be away from your baby at daycare, and that’s how many ounces you send!  I kid you not.  It really is that simple.  For more help with this, check out this article from Kellymom.com that includes a nifty breast milk calculator.  The idea is this: Baby’s stomach is small.  Big bottles (over 4 oz) stretch out the stomach.  Smaller, more frequent bottles are better.

Here’s how that played out with the Grasshopper:  She was in daycare from 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM.  That’s about 10 hours.  I would send three 3 oz bottles and then I would feed her when I picked her up at the school at 5:30.  I only needed to get 9 oz.  So when I pumped for her, I would typically get 4 oz at the first pumping session, 3 oz at the lunchtime session, and 2 oz in the afternoon.  Those 9 oz were enough for her at school and whatever she didn’t get at school she would make up for at home.

Here’s how it’s working with Cricket: She is also at school from 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM.  With her, though, I am able to go at lunchtime to nurse her, and she wakes often in the night.  I nurse her at around 6:30 AM, pump at 9:00 AM (she takes about 1 oz at school at the same time), nurse her at 11 AM, pump at 3 PM (she takes 3-4 oz at school around this time), and nurse her again at school at 5:15 PM or so.  So I don’t need that much milk for Cricket at school either.  Just 5 oz each day.

That said, I remember with the Grasshopper that it was a real struggle to get those 9 ounces.  We had some pretty serious nursing issues during the first few weeks and she was not able to set up my supply early on.  This is why it’s so, so critical to bring baby to breast as often as possible during the early weeks.  Do not space out feeding.  A newborn eating every hour is letting your body know that it’s time to produce milk.  If you let your baby nurse as often as he or she wants, you’re setting yourself up to have great supply later on.

This brings up another important point:

What you pump is absolutely not an indicator of what your supply is.

I pump a lot of milk these days.  I’m not going to tell you how much.  It’s completely abnormal.  Instead, please read this article about what is normal: http://www.kellymom.com/bf/pumping/pumping_decrease.html#normal

Pumping is a funny thing.  With the Grasshopper, I struggled and struggled to pump enough.  I know that if I could have been with her and allowed her to just nurse, I would have had zero supply issues, but when it came down to it, I just didn’t respond all that well to the pump.  Totally normal.

But still,I needed to get those 9 ounces for her for daycare.  So here are some things that I did:

  • Drank Mother’s Milk Tea every morning instead of my regular green tea.  But really, don’t rely on tea alone if you’re dealing with pumping supply. You’d have to drink gallons of it to really have that strong of an effect. I think the effect of this was mostly psychological, which is okay because with breastfeeding psychology is half the battle.
  • Took herbal supplements.  Sometimes I did a combo of Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle (3 tablets of each 3x/day), and sometimes when I was feeling extravagant, I took the MotherLove herbal More Milk Special blend.  I found the Goat’s Rue to be very helpful.  The tincture seemed to work better than the pill. Don’t do this if you don’t need to. There are a lot of problems that come with oversupply and all of these “natural” supplements have side effects.
  • Took a Calcium/Magnesium supplement from the day I ovulated until a few days after my period started.  I got my period back with the Grasshopper early on, and something they don’t tell you is that getting your period can cause a supply dip between ovulation and when your period starts due to calcium loss.  The Cal/Mag helps with that. This was important.
  • Never, ever skip a pumping session.  This was the most critical thing. Milk production is supply and demand. Skipping sessions gave me more milk the next session, but much, much less milk the next day.  The short-term gain was absolutely not worth the long-term loss.

All of those things really seemed to help.

Below are a few more tips that I compiled for the corporate lactation program that I helped to found within my company.  I’m cross-publishing here because I and other moms within the corporate support group have found them to be pretty tried and true.

Pumping Quick Tips

  • Come up with a pumping plan(when, where, what you do, etc.) and stick to it. Set your times in your outlook calendar so you won’t get too busy and forget to go pump.
  • Pump at around the same time your baby would be nursing or taking a bottle.
  • Pump for a full 15-20 minutes even if no milk is flowing. Remember, milk is a supply and demand system. You have to demand it so that it will be there for the next time.  Please be aware that pumping for longer than 20 minutes at a time can cause breast tissue damage.
  • Typical output is 2-3 oz, so if you aren’t getting 8 oz like some people talk about, don’t worry! It’s normal!  Those 8 oz ladies just respond really, really well to the pump.
  • Feed only what you can pump. Remember, it doesn’t take as much breast milk as formula, so don’t let a formula fed baby’s 6 oz bottle make you feel inadequate. Breast milk grows with your baby, so you don’t need to increase your bottle size.  1 oz per hour is the rule of thumb, so if you’re away for 9 hours, three 3 oz bottles should cover you!
  • RELAX! Kick back, read a good book, don’t try too hard to multi-task if you find it interferes with the flow. Just take the time to relax and think about your baby.
  • Keep up with your pump maintenance. Medela users, don’t forget to change those white membranes regularly. I change mine every 10 days.
  • Don’t shake the milk! Mix the fat back into the milk by swirling it gently and warming it. Human milk is full of live white blood cells that carry your immunity to your baby. Shaking the milk breaks those cells open and “bruises” the milk. It’s precious gold. Treat it with respect.
  • Use slow flow bottle nipples. A breastfed child never needs a faster flow than a newborn nipple. Slow flow, wide mouth nipples more closely mimic the flow from the breast.
  • Go hands free!  Using an Easy Expressions Bustier or a homemade hands-free system gives you the flexibility to do other things while you’re pumping.

Do you have any tried and true tips that help you pump?

Setting the bar too high for nursing moms

With everything that Cricket and I have been through so far on our nursing journey, I’ve been thinking about what all we (and by we I don’t mean me, I mean society) ask of breastfeeding moms.  This particular line of thought was sparked by a conversation with a cranial osteopath who was seeing Cricket to help her with her jaw muscles.  He grilled me a bit about my diet, and I felt ashamed to tell him that I’m just so thrilled about being able to eat again that I am just eating whatever I can get my hands on.  Lots of meat, cheese, spices, Indian food, Thai food, Mexican, etc.  I was embarrassed to admit that we don’t always eat home cooked meals.  In fact, we eat out fairly frequently.

This confession of mine earned me a lecture on healthy eating.  I should eat only organic food.  Whole grains.  Home cooked.  Gluten free.  And while I’m at it, I should stop eating dairy and soy because that’s probably why Cricket has a stuffy nose.  What I eat goes directly to her, didn’t I know, so I must avoid foods with chemicals of any kind and by the way, I should only eat brown rice, not white rice.  Scratch that, don’t eat rice at all because of the gluten in it. Does rice even have gluten? I don’t know.

I left the appointment feeling guilty, overwhelmed, and exhausted.  The more I thought about his speech to me, though, the more irritated I got.  Aside from any rare allergy issues in kids (where there are very specific and dramatic clinical signs) milk is milk.  Milk is not made from stomach contents.  You don’t go to the drive through and then have cheeseburgers coming out of your nipples.  Unless the situation is one of extreme famine, a mother’s milk will always be rich enough, nutritious enough, and wonderful enough.

I kept turning this over and over in my head and getting madder.  If I was another woman, one who wasn’t as plugged in to breastfeeding resources, I might have walked away from that conversation believing that since I couldn’t live up to this doctor’s impossibly high standards, my child would be better off on formula.

I experienced this kind of situation again following Cricket’s tongue tie clip.  First I had to get her clipped by a very specific doctor out in L.A.  Then I was supposed to see a very specific lactation consultant (also in L.A.) to retrain her to latch.  On top of that, I needed to get her in to see a cranial osteopath to get her jaw muscles working properly.  Follow that up by special exercises and speech therapy, and you’ve got one seriously overwhelmed mama.  How many specialists do I need to take my kid to?  Can’t we just nurse?

Confession: I took her to LA for the clip, but I stuck with local lactation consultants to help with the latch.  I only saw the cranial osteopath three times instead of the recommended five visits because darn it, it’s expensive and I don’t really dig it anyway.  I haven’t been doing the exercises very religiously.  We probably won’t do speech therapy at all unless we find out that she actually has a speech issue.  Her sister didn’t.  Her father and I didn’t.  If she does, we’ll deal with it, but I’m not prepared to assume that she will.

Want to know something else?  I eat fast food sometimes.  Sometimes I even feed my family fast food.  I don’t always cook.  I do my best, but some nights, it just doesn’t happen.  I take ibuprofen when I have a headache.  And I cook with butter.  So there.

There is so much pressure for breastfeeding moms to be perfect.  Setting the bar so high can ultimately drive women away from breastfeeding, and it’s critical that we not do that.

So nursing moms–all moms for that matter–Be good to yourselves.  You’re not perfect and that’s okay.

Breastfeeding the Second Child Part 2: Tongue Tied or Not?

When we left off last time, Cricket and I were nursing better, but something still wasn’t working quite right.

The IBCLC I had been working with, was puzzled.  What we were seeing mimicked a tongue tie: the slower growth, the loss of suction, the odd shaping of my nipple after a feed…  But Cricket could very clearly stick her tongue out.  What was going on?

She referred me to the director of breastfeeding medicine at one of our local hospitals: a pediatrician and an IBCLC all rolled into one.  unfortunately, she wouldn’t be able to get me in for another two weeks.  If there was a tongue tie, I needed to get it corrected immediately.

I called her pediatrician back.  Her regular pediatrician was in Africa providing medical care to orphans.  His partner, who happened to also be a lactation specialist, could see us that day.

Again, poor Cricket had to deal with people poking around in her mouth.  And again, we were told that there was no tongue tie.

That night, on my twitter feed, I happened to see some tweets regarding tongue tie that were a part of an #LCchat.  One in particular stood out to me:

http://twitter.com/#!/NurturedChild/status/126850705125425152

This was what was going on!  I tweeted back to @NurturedChild and she sent me this link with pictures of the much more difficult to diagnose posterior tongue tie.  This, especially the cupped tongue when she cried, really helped solidify my belief that we were dealing with a tongue tie.  I just had to find a medical professional who would really listen and take my concerns seriously.

I called my IBCLC back and explained the situation.  She told me that she had previously encountered one other really difficult case like this.  She had referred this case to the breastfeeding medicine doctor who, in turn, referred them to an oral therapist who then referred them to a surgeon to get the tie clipped.

What if we skipped the middle man and went straight to the oral specialist?

That’s exactly what we did. She was able to see us the very next day, which was a Saturday.

This is what she saw:

Posterior tongue tie
Posterior tongue tie
Cupping of tongue as she cries indicating posterior tie
Cupping of tongue as she cries indicating posterior tie

She very quickly agreed that the tongue was certainly tied.  The posterior tie meant that she couldn’t lift the back of her tongue to squeeze milk out of the breast.  Instead of using her entire tongue to nurse, she was using the front of her tongue and her gums to scrape the milk out.

That explains the pain!  It also explains why she was breaking suction.  She couldn’t lift her tongue to maintain suction.  She was having to break suction in order to swallow the milk and control the flow.

But there was more:

Tie on the lower lip
Tie on the lower lip
Tie on the upper lip
Tie on the upper lip

The ties on the lips were also interfering with nursing.

When a baby nurses correctly, her lips should be flared out in almost a trumpet shape.  Cricket couldn’t flare her lips out because of the ties.  This added to the chewing action that she was having to use to get milk.

No wonder I was in pain! No wonder she was struggling to latch and nurse properly!

So what do we do now?

We get the tongue ties clipped, that’s what.

Next Up: Breastfeeding the Second Child Part 3: Tongue Tie Clip and Recovery.

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Breastfeeding the Second Child Part 1: Not as Easy as I Thought

I thought breastfeeding this time would be so easy.  I mean, it’s not like I haven’t nursed a baby before, right?  Three and a half years of nursing should make me an old pro, right?

Wrong!

This journey, while not quite as difficult as it was learning to breastfeed the Grasshopper, has been incredibly difficult.

Cricket latched on almost immediately after birth.  It was fantastic.  I thought we had it made.  But by day three, the pain was starting to get intense.  Note that I said “pain” and not discomfort.  Breastfeeding shouldn’t be painful, but this was.

She was born on Tuesday, and we took her to see her pediatrician on Friday.  He checked her for a tongue tie, but didn’t see one.  He encouraged us to meet with an IBCLC, Rhonda (not her real name).  We called her and scheduled an in-home visit.  Good thing, too, because by the afternoon I was in tears every time she latched.

She came and helped us to latch correctly.  Things got better for a few hours, but in the night it got much worse.  By morning, I was a bleeding, crying mess.

Saturday, I called her in tears because I was reaching the point where I just could hardly stand to bring her to breast anymore.  She recommended pumping and syringe feeding until my nipples healed.  I did not want to do that, so I called my midwife who came right out to the house and helped me learn a new position to nurse Cricket in.

I still wasn’t healing, though, and the pain and bleeding were getting worse.

Monday night, I went to a meeting, where I met two angels: Two IBCLCs for one of the hospitals here (NOT the hospital where they tortured me).  One of them, Paris taught me a 3rd way to nurse Cricket, and it didn’t hurt!

Unfortunately, by the time I left the meeting at around 7:30 PM, I was shaking.  As I drove home, the shaking got worse and worse.  When I got home, I took my temp and it was 102 degrees.

Mastitis.

My husband ran to the pharmacy to get my antibiotics (God bless my midwives for acting fast and calling it in immediately), and I had to pump after every feeding so that the milk didn’t sit and grow bacteria.  It was a long, brutal night.

36 hours later, I was feeling much better.

It was Thursday, and we had an appointment to meet with the other IBCLC from the meeting.  She helped us again with Cricket’s latch and taught me to tuck her little hips in against my body.  This is a natural way to get a baby to extend her neck a little more and to keep her from tucking her chin.  It worked!

But I had a suspicious tingle in my nipples and Cricket’s mouth was coated in white.  We walked a block over to the pediatrician who took one look at her and diagnosed thrush.  I asked him to look in her mouth again for a tongue tie, but he very confidently said, “This babe is definitely not tongue tied.”

So after a week of Cricket taking Nystatin and me taking Diflucan, we were ready to move forward.

But something still wasn’t right.  She was growing slowly and her lips were blanched after every feeding and full of blisters.  She also clicked and lost suction as she nursed.  Nursing wasn’t bringing me to tears anymore, but it wasn’t very much fun either.

What was going on?

Next Up: Breastfeeding the Second Child Part 2: Tongue Tied or Not?

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A Healing Article from a Hyperemesis Gravidarum Sister

Just this past week I learned that Jessica from The Leaky B@@b also suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum.

I had no idea!

And, in a fortuitous twist, she published a fantastic article that struck to the core of some of the emotions I’ve been feeling about my HG pregnancies: Tone, filters, and information.

It seems like every time I turn around, there is some article that gets published about how if you have a great diet during pregnancy or exercise during pregnancy, your baby will be healthier and have a number of advantages.  Since good eating and exercise aren’t really options for those of us with HG, these articles usually cause me to roll my eyes, feel guilty, and sometimes even angry that I can’t have just a normal pregnancy like everyone else.

Oddly enough, I feel very strongly that we shouldn’t take on guilt simply because of our circumstances.  We should be able to share information to mothers be it about childbirth interventions and risk management or breastfeeding.  We should be able to discuss these issues openly and honestly without the knee-jerk defensive reaction.

And yet…

And yet, when I see the information out there about pregnancy diet and exercise, I experience that same feeling of defensiveness that makes me crazy when talking about non-HG-related issues.

Jessica writes:

Do those articles set out to make me feel guilty that I barely eat during my pregnancies?  No, they are just sharing information and sometimes aim to encourage and inspire moms.  Do the moms celebrating their beautiful pregnancy experience do so to punch me in the gut and knock me down?  I’m pretty sure they are just excited about their own experience.  Does the fact that I have very little physical activity during the prenatal stage of my mothering make me a bad mom?  I don’t think so but it doesn’t mean I don’t wonder from time to time or that it doesn’t hurt a little when I’m faced with the reality that it really isn’t a good thing and could be putting my children at risk.  Blaming the information though doesn’t help me or make my reality better.  Hiding it, or worse denying it, doesn’t help anyone else either.

We should still share information, we should still read information and we hopefully do this in a safe community where processing the information can happen through trusting and supportive dialogue.  I hope that by keeping in mind the fact that we do not know everything there is to a person’s back story and why they make the choices they do we can remember to be more sensitive in how we share information.  I hope that by keeping in mind the fact that we all bring our own baggage to any topic we can remember to try not to take information sharing as personal jabs.  It is through these steps that we can support one another and make a difference for others.

Reading this article really gave me a sense of healing.  It helped me build a bridge from one aspect of my life, writing, and personal views to another.

Thank you Jessica.  You gave me a lot to think about.