A Raw Moment In Motherhood

This isn’t “fed is best” or “breast is better”. This isn’t a Postpartum Depression post. I touch on both of those in this post, and they may be something I touch on in the future, but for now I just want to be open about what I experienced as a new mom in the hopes that sharing my story will help others who have been through this and also help me feel a bit of closure about it.

When we got pregnant with our first, I wanted to breast feed. There wasn’t even a thought or discussion of doing anything else. It was just a decision. Breastfeeding and then pumping a bit her and there for my husband to do a bottle or if I needed a break.

I was so sure about breastfeeding the thought that I would not physically be able to had never even crossed my mind. Our bodies are truly something incredible with the abilities that are built in when it comes to our children.  I had grown this little child from a small seed to a full baby (all 41 one weeks of my pregnancy) and I felt so strong in my own body and it’s capabilities.

We first started to see problems when he was about 2 weeks old. Our sweet easy going newborn became different. He just didn’t seem to “fill up” with a full belly. I would nurse him for what seemed like a long time, both sides, just for him to be hungry an hour or so later. It just seemed like we were struggling. I knew that part of this was part of a growth spurt (after hours of online searching) and tried to go with it for about a week.

At the tale end of 3 weeks old (on the cusp of 4 weeks), I decided offhand to go ahead and just try and pump and give him a bottle of pumped breastmilk. I was exhausted and somewhere deep down just knew that something wasn’t right. The moment I started pumping, I knew. It became even clearer after the first 2 or 3 pumping sessions. I should have been producing more. I knew that pumping wasn’t ideal for getting milk out (thank you google), but after going back and forth with breast and pumping, I also knew that there was no way he was getting much more the natural way either.

***Now, let me clarify something before everyone jumps in with comments. I tried EVERYTHING. I took every supplement, herb, tea, diet plan, anything that I read could even have a smidge of helping us out. I researched the hell out of breast feeding, pumping, power pumping, increasing supply, etc. You name it, I tried it. I’ll get into that in a minute, but we will just say I pushed beyond what I should have pushed to make this work. Again, this post is NOT ABOUT THAT.***

I cannot even begin to put into words the feeling that comes with the knowledge that your body is failing you at something. Something that you should be able to do, that is built into our bodies and you cannot do it. Very rarely am I at this loss for words and on this, this I have no words.

This alone feeling was different from the times I felt it before (with my abuse and trauma). There wasn’t anyone that I felt like I could talk to about it, that would really actually understand how I FELT rather than just say why don’t you do this, or this will help (which honestly doesn’t help when you have a woman on the verge of tears at every second), or the worst, this is obviously not working for you. I felt so so alone, like I was fighting a very solo battle.

***I did have a very strong support group in my husband and our family, but nothing can replace the feeling of having just ONE person say, “hey I’ve been there. I know how you feel”. ***

It was a never ending, physically and mentally painful experience. It is something no one prepares you for. Something no one even thinks to talk about. Something those going through it don’t know who they can talk to about it.

I pushed my body past its breaking point, in both a physical and mental state. I was doing everything I could to pump any bit that I could do, while simultaneously trying to balance my infant, work, home and myself. I beat myself up over and over wondering why. Why was my body letting me down. Why was this the one thing I could not do. I had seen all those posts of those moms who had breastfed so easily, you see them more than anything else, why was I struggling?

I finally switched over to formula for him at 3 months. I was broken. I felt like I was constantly fighting. Fighting my own body, fighting my own mind (hello Postpartum Depression), and I was tired. I felt like I had failed my child, failed my family, failed myself. It took me a full year to feel better. To know that even though I couldn’t do this one thing didn’t mean that I failed. It didn’t mean anything less for my children. Didn’t lessen me as a person or a mother.

And it doesn’t lessen you either. Motherhood is a beautiful time of trials (physically and mentally), of taking care of yourself and your new child, of blessings, of new adventures. No matter how we are doing this, what our bodies can do is incredible. What we can do is incredible. Don’t be afraid to let go of what you thought motherhood was going to be and embrace what it is. I wish I had done that earlier on in our first year of parenting.

 

To My Little Bear on Your First Birthday…

Man the big first birthday. How have you already been in this world for a full year? Where has the time gone? More importantly, how have you grown so much in this short little period of time? It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year, but here we are. Celebrating your first birthday the way we do, just a small family moment. 

Over the past year I have seen you grow, watched you learn, discover, play, fall down and then promptly smile and get back up. I have watched you struggle with colds, with those darn teeth, and with getting a break from big brother (he sure does love you though). I have watched you learn how to roll, crawl, stand, and walk with assistance. You’ve found a love for food (you’re gonna eat us out of the house), laughing, music, and a special love for your big brother. 

You’re a reserved little guy at first, but will open up and just give the biggest, brightest smile. That smile that lights up your whole face and will make the whole world smile along with you. You’re laugh is infectious and while you may not totally share your brothers endless supply of energy (thankfully), you still are quite a firecracker. You are really starting to grow your own little personality and I can’t wait to see it shine through even more.

As I sit here trying to figure out what to make for your first birthday cake (and your first dose of sugar), I’ve been trying to think of a good way to put the first year of your life, but there are no words (well that’s a little strange considering that I’ve typed 249, wait 250 words now). What I mean is that this past year has been priceless. Every little moment with you has been incredible and you’ve brought so much joy into our little family.

Happy Birthday Andrew Gage. We love you so much. 

Storytime: Mom Knows Best

I’ll be completely honest right now, I don’t really know even how to start this post off. I think I’ve thought about writing it for so long now and I’ve actually written and re written it several times. I’m still not sure how this is going to go, but I really want to share this. Being a mom can be scary at times and even the most confident, will stumble at a time or two.

I know that this can lead to a sensitive topic for some, so I want to quickly say that weight gain is a serious thing and I know that. It can be a sign of a lot of potential problems and I took every bit of what we were being told (as well as some of my own instincts and research) in. I am not a doctor andI do know that there are times that I will need to listen to Doctors (and do!) and understand that they know better than I do, but on the whole I have realized that sometimes it’s best to also take your own judgement into consideration. Our issue was not that he was not gaining weight, but that his picture of health as a whole was not taken into consideration from the beginning. What I was seeing and how little man was acting as a whole did not match what we were being told.

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Sweet Little Man (around 12-13 months)

Our first son is 14 months old now and I can definitely say that I’ve learned a thing or two about being a mom and being more confident in myself and my decisions as a mom. Things that I will be keeping in mind as we welcome our second son this summer. One of the most important things that I have learned is there is nothing like Mom’s Knowledge/Intuition.

We struggled with Doctors and Colton. I should preface this with the fact that both myself and my husband are above average height with small to average frames. My husband is 6 ft tall and thin and I’m around average (ish) height and thin as well. Colton follows along the same line, which we realized very quickly. When he was born he was long enough to fit into 3 month clothing, but definitely not anywhere near in the weight department.

At Colton’s two month appointment, I had a Nurse Practitioner sit and insinuate that I was starving my child. That I was not providing enough for him. Now before you say, well what did she say, maybe your hormones blew what she was saying out of proportion. No. She said that I was not providing enough and he was starving. He had gained weight and grew quite a bit longer and I was struggling to reconcile what she was saying with what I was seeing. I could see the growth in my child. He was happy, eating healthily, meeting the milestones that he needed to be (although not many at that time) and I was in shock at what she was telling me.

*It was about a month after this appointment that we realized that my milk, while it had come in, my supply had not been able to keep up with the demand. So while he was getting enough from me up until this time, it wasn’t enough for a long term nursing situation.

If that wasn’t bad enough to be told as a first time mom, when your son is 2 months old, it got worse. The first time she said it, I was in a little bit of shock. The second time, my mommy instincts kicked in and I said “Ok. What do we do”. Instead of working with me and coming up with a plan, she just continued on with her statements. We went back and forth, with me trying to come up with a plan. If my child truly needed more, I was willing to do whatever it took to get that for him. In the end, after several times of asking, I decided that we would supplement with formula. Eventually we ended up switching entirely over to formula.

*Honestly, I could (and maybe I will at some point) write a whole separate post about this experience, but for now this little summary will do.

Colton continued to grow longer and started filling out a little bit. He started to surpass the developmental milestones that they are supposed to meet and again, I was looking at a happy and seemingly healthy baby. I had recovered from my complete breakdown after Colton’s two month appointment and everything was back on track. Then, we headed to his 4 month Well Baby appointment.

Again I was told that he wasn’t gaining enough weight, although he had put on a lot for him and grown much longer, and that I was not doing what I should be. Let me just say, I was letting Colton decide how much he wanted to eat at every bottle. I couldn’t force feed him more than he wants and he was eating close to 6 ounces every single bottle, if not more. He had surpassed most of his developmental milestones and was working on 6 month milestones. I could see with my own eyes that he was doing wonderfully, but I had a Nurse Practitioner (and then a doctor) telling me that I was failing. It was at that point that I said to hell with it, switched doctors, and started tracking things on my own.

It was clear to me that my son did not follow along the growth curves like other children did when it came to weight. He puts on weight, but he is more likely to grow longer than wider. His first doctor did not even bother to review not only his growth as a whole to include his length, but to look at how we, as his parents, were built. I was mad leaving his 4 month doctors appointment. My gut as his mother was continually telling me that he was just fine, healthy and that we were doing everything we were supposed to.

Things got better once we switched his doctor. We still have issues from time to time with the concern over his weight, but it’s not in a way of his doctor saying we are starving him. I take most of his weight gain concerns in, keep a watchful eye on how his eating is going, and overall watch how his behavior is. I am with him all day long and I am the first to realize when something is wrong. Realizing that I am his number 1 and best advocate and that at times, I will know best and will know better than the doctors has been the best thing both for him and for us as a family. By having this attitude, my son is not only happy, healthy, meeting milestones way above his age, and growing appropriately, but our family is also happier and healthier. I am happier and healthier.