Happy Thanksgivukkah!

I’m a bit late with this post, I realize that. The entire extended Thanksgiving/Chanukah weekend was a whirlwind, one that didn’t stop when we came home from Florida. Here are a few photos to make up for it, though, interspersed with eight things for which I’m thankful, in spirit of the combined holiday weekend. :) (I’ll admit, I totally got that idea in particular from Mayim Bialik’s blog on Kveller.)

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1. I love that we have all these family traditions. Traditions, no matter what they are, just feel important to me, and I’m thankful that we have so many already to pass along to our son.

2. My friends are so supportive and have such wonderful advice. This parenting thing is HARD, and I’m glad to have friends who have either been there, done that or are currently there and doing that. It makes it easier knowing that there’s someone else going through blowouts, teething, and learning to crawl at 2am.

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3. My family — old and new — is very diverse in its beliefs, practices, and personalities. While they don’t always get along, I’m thankful for each one of my family members, as they make a very rich environment for my son. I’ve learned a lot about tolerance, acceptance, and finding joy in our differences, and I know these will pass down to Tycho.

4. We had Chanukah at Matt’s parents’ house, then Thanksgiving at my parents’ house. I love that we can share time with each of our families, due in part to how close they are in proximity to one another. I have to admit, I also love and am thankful for their food and hospitality. But mainly the food. ;)

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5. I am grateful for YOU. I know I don’t say this often enough, but I’m eternally grateful for your readership and, most of all, your friendship. I hope you continue to become an influence in our lives, and I hope that we can provide some helpful tidbits along the way, too!

6. I am thankful for my job, and for Matt’s job, and that we can and continue to create a rich life together. I’m not talking “rich” in terms of money, but in terms of time spent, which has always been more valuable to us than any money we could make. But having good jobs and good health thanks to good insurance definitely helps, and I’m grateful that we have these.

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7. Thank you Spirit for providing for us, and for giving us our greatest blessing, Tycho. I probably don’t thank Spirit enough, either, but I really am grateful for everything that has been provided to us. I’m sure that hard work and dedication aren’t the only things driving our lives, and if there’s anything out there giving us that extra boost, well… how can you not be thankful for that. :)

8. I’mma steal this in part from Mayim: The last night of Hanukkah contains the most light of the entire holiday: eight candles and a shamash (leader candle). While we didn’t get to the eighth night (bad Jew and worse pseudo-Jew!), we did get a chance to celebrate the first night surrounded by family, and you could seriously feel the light and love in the house that night. My only hope is that we can share that light and love with the world. <3

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Relactation Journey: A new high! <3

I was just thinking to myself about a week ago, how awesome would it be if I never had to travel along the relactation road. How great to not have to worry about my supply, to maybe even have an oversupply, to pump what my son needed without effort, to generally not waste these months of my life for what.

Then… I have a day like this:

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And all doubt goes flying out the window!

(Okay, so I still wish I hadn’t stopped, but I’m glad to have both our breastfeeding relationship AND my sanity back. ;) )

People. That’s 12oz right there, only 3oz short of what my son takes in on a daily basis while at daycare. That’s enough for almost three whole bottles, and considering I have about 2oz left at home, I only need to make up a tiny bit with formula.

Or, since he’s really digging food right about now, bring an extra snack to daycare:

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I am beyond thrilled by where this journey has taken me. It has been a long, difficult, and for the first month, seemingly unproductive test of my patience and my perseverance. And here we are today: Pumping almost everything he needs, breastfeeding full-time at home, and giving my all to this little charmer.

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My regimen is ever strict, is never bending, and is as follows:

  • 80mg Domperidone, spread 3/3/2
  • 6 Fenugreek pills, spread 2/2/2
  • 4 More Milk Special Blend, spread 1/2/1
  • lactation cookies from Miracles for Mommy, 1 during my first morning pump
  • pumping with my Spectra Dew 350 hospital-grade pump

I pump three times a day at work, then breastfeed at least three times while at home on weekdays and exclusively (so 5-7 times) over the weekend.

Guys. I seriously went from absolutely nothing — to not even a hint of milk — to making almost everything my son needs. Can you even imagine?!

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This is what just one dose looks like.

This is NOT a journey for the weak-willed, and I have to admit that it’s not the right journey for everyone (I’m thinking mainly about those who can’t breastfeed for whatever reason, be it medical or physical or mental or any combination thereof), but I’m incredibly glad I took it.

And judging by how readily he breastfeeds, I imagine he is, too. :)

Though at this point, he eats just about anything... LOL

Though at this point, he eats just about anything… LOL

And finally, I can’t NOT post this picture:

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That’s my boy, all right!

While Tycho was a-cookin’, I was running under the assumption that he would look little, if anything, like me. If you look at Matt’s side of the family, particularly his mother’s, the male genes tend to dominate every feature of their offspring, sometimes even including their daughters. Matt is an interesting mix between his father and his mother, but he still looks strikingly similar to his maternal grandpa.

So imagine my surprise when he came out looking like… well, neither of us, really. We figured he’d look like Matt as he got older, but at almost 6 months, we’ve determined that I reproduced by splitting off asexually:

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Yeah… Matt’s genes had no chance. ;)

Keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, rollin’… AAAH!

So guess who learned how to roll from back to tummy yesterday!

That’s right… THIS BOY!

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Look at those feet… LOL

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Am I doing it? Or am I teasing Mommy…?

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Hanging on for dear life…

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SUCCESS!!

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Very proud of himself! :)

(Also, “Rollin’” was released by Limp Bizkit in 2000. Guess who feels old now…)

4 Months! And Relactation Journey: Day 20 – How’s it going?

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My baby turned 4 months on the 13th! To celebrate, we had our 4-month appointment, where we got his stats:

Height – 24″ (10th percentile, 6″ up from birth)
Weight – 12lbs 15.5oz (5th percentile, 6lbs up from birth)
Head Circumference – 42cm (58th percentile, up about 6cm from birth)

So basically, big head… tiny body. ;)

He can now roll from tummy to back and is working on the other way around. He can get onto his side for now! He babbles all the time, including consonants like “B” and “G” (i.e. “agooooo!” and “aaaaabah!”), and angrily does so when he’s tired (I prefer that to crying, lol). He stands supported, taking a few steps in place — we’re going to have an early walker! — and bending his knees to jump high! His hands are constantly in his mouth, and he recently found his thumb, which is SUPER fun. Drool EVERYWHERE. He’s still in and continues to rock physical therapy, and he’s so much happier and back to his normal self now that we’re not continuing helmet therapy. And these smiles all the damn time. :D

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Sigh. I love his little face. <3

In other news, I’m continuing the relactation process, and so far, it’s going well! I’m actually able to get some milk when I pump now, and I have to admit that the hospital-grade pump rental was a VERY worthwhile investment. I ended up with an Ameda Elite, and not only is it so much quieter than the Purely Yours, but it’s much more efficient, too. I’m not sure how, but I’m liking it!

To that end, some pictures of progress:

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Yesterday’s afternoon pump. First time I got something!

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Today’s morning pump.

It doesn’t look like much, I know. But it’s something!! I have been so stoked by going from nothing to getting something now every time I hand express or pump. The former is and probably always will be more effective, but pumping is easy, haha.

This is my current regimen, if anyone is interested:

  • Pump/express 7x/day (plus extras if I’m feeling spunky), plus one at night.
  • Domperidone, 20mg 4x/day
  • More Milk Special Blend capsules, 1 pill 4x/day
  • Cuddling with Tycho without a shirt on

That’s all I’m doing for now. I want to introduce the SNS soon, but I’m really nervous about that as he seems to have no interest in my breasts. If I dangle them over him, he might go for it, but he screams when I cradle him and coax him that way. Sigh. :(

But last night, I put my bare skin on his as he was falling asleep, and he cuddled up next to me, so… maybe? I don’t know.

I think the SNS is going to help with motivation on his end, whenever I start implementing it. Since there’s not much coming out even still, there’s really nothing to get him to the breast. I’m scared that even having the SNS won’t do anything — after all, while we switched to wide-neck bottles, a bottle still isn’t the same as a boob — but there’s no way to know until I try.

This WILL work out. I’m really anticipating an even partial breastfeeding relationship with my son, one that will hopefully last into toddlerhood. :)

STOP… Helmet Time! (Part 2: Tycho gets helmeted!)

Tycho’s helmet experience… in pictures. :)

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Wait… you wanna do *what*?!

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Daddy snuggles between fittings. :)

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My men. <3

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Showing off the leggings… and his tush, lol. (THAT FACE HAHA)

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Still a smiley, happy boy!

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… but not for long…

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Helmet’s on at daycare! (LOL, his derpy eyes.)

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Still all smiles!! <3

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Okay, naptime…

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The helmet makes it easy to spot him on the daycare’s cameras. ;)

Physical therapy (and some pictures of my cutie)

Tycho’s physical therapist (PT) is a member of Maryland’s Infant and Toddler Program, a state-sponsored program that provides infants, toddlers, and children and their families with support and services related to physical therapy and other special education programs. It’s based on the federal Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) and ensures that children with disabilities have the chance to receive a free and appropriate education (FAPE) to support their developmental and learning needs.

We were referred to them after our pediatrician’s office noted his tort and brachy. To qualify, we needed to have, I believe it was, a 20% delay in his overall development, be it physical, mental, or otherwise. The state had a PT come out to evaluate him, and they were with him for about two hours while they checked him out from head to toe.

We just managed to qualify partly because of Tycho’s tort, and as a result of the same, he’s developmentally delayed in his gross and fine motor skills. No biggie, especially since they caught it early, but it’s still something else we need to work on.

Our PT is Jen, a really vivacious woman who seriously reminds me of a west coast Florida beach bum somehow plopped in the middle of Maryland. (So that’s to say, I can relate. ;) ) Tycho took to her pretty immediately, offering smiles and coos until she started manipulating him. To his credit, though, it was 6:45 in the morning!

Jen taught us a number of exercises we can do with him, from side-lying on the affected side to increased tummy time and stretches to tilt his head to the right. We have a feeling he’ll be more inclined to do them once we get one of these spinning wand dealies, which kept him plenty distracted and actually stopped his crying in its tracks a few times.

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She’ll be coming a few more times over the summer, save for weeks when she’ll be out of town. After that point, we can decide if we want to switch to PT in Howard County (which means we can have someone visit him at the daycare, but we’ll need a new therapist) or if we want to keep these 6:45am appointments. If it continues to go as well as it did today, I might be inclined to keep the latter. Plus, having one therapist work with him without real change would be nice!

I feel so fortunate that we’re able to get this service free of charge and at our home. It takes a bit of stress off myself and Matt, and gives Tycho the chance to get better while in the comfort of familiar space. Between this, the chiropractic appointments we have, and the helmet, we’re thinking all of this should be resolved by 7 months at the earliest, and best prognosis at a year. I’m stoked!

As a thank you for sticking with me through all these posts, here are some cute pictures. Not that I’m biased or anything. ;)

 

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“Tycho Airliiiiiines!”

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Cousin love! <3 (Babe on the left is 6.5 weeks older than Tycho!)

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He may be sick (yay daycare), but he’s still all smiles!

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3 months and LOL-worthy. ;)

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In his Hungry Caterpillar cloth diaper! (That’s right, we’re starting cloth again!)

And mostly for lulz:

 

 

 

 

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Project: Clothespin Photo Frame

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A friend at work has been asking me to share my photo frame with everyone on Pinterest, so here it is! This was a really quick project that took me a night to accomplish, and it took very little artistic skill. (Trust me. It needs to if I can do it!)

I wanted a frame that I could keep at work so I could see Tycho all the time, but be able to easily trade out photos as he grows up. No fuss, no muss… and thus, the clothespin photo frame was created!

What you’ll need:

* a photo frame (the bigger, the better!)
* acrylic paint of your color choice
* a cheapie paint sponge thing
* ribbon of your choice
* a hammer (or other slammy-type object)
* thumbtacks
* clothespins of your choice (I used the baby shower ones from Michael’s)
* lots and lots of pictures!

This idea actually came to me after finding a photo frame for $10, originally $50. Y’all know how expensive frames can be! I was THRILLED to find such a cheap one with such a nice design.

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ASSEMBLE THE HORDE… uh, your materials. I ended up not using the chalkboard paint, but I’ve got it on hand for future projects!

And those beautiful flowers? Those are from Matt, for our 8-year dating anniversary (25 June). Aren’t they gorgeous?! :)

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Disassemble your frame. All you’re going to need at this point is the frame itself; you can ditch the backing and the signature board thing.

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Ditch the glass, too, but be careful when removing it. Mine shattered! Cheap for a reason, right?

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Paint the frame with whatever color you prefer. Or don’t! I ended up painting mine because I hated that brassy color.

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Just one coat and I was done! I didn’t cover the brass entirely as I liked the antique look that one coat gave.

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Measure out your ribbon and cut. Leave enough at the ends to fold over the end for extra support. Hammer down the ribbon to adjacent sides of the frame, getting as close to the frame edge as you can (hard to describe; see the photo above — you want to be as far from the back of the frame as possible as the photos will be free-floating).

You’ll want to measure how much room you want between each ribbon, too. I wanted mine to hold portrait-length photos with a bit of overlap.

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Test it out! Grab some clothespins and hang a few photos from your ribbons.

And voila, you’re done! I hung mine up with a couple regular tacks. :)

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This crunchy hippie mama is doing what?!

I’m not sure when I’ll be brave enough to post this. As of the start of this entry, Tycho is 10 days old, so we’ll see how long it takes me to actually… you know, buck up the courage. :)

I was so lucky to have the most perfect birth I could have ever asked for. It was at a birth center, no interventions, with supportive people, in water… it seriously could not have gotten better. I was taken aback by how quickly and ideally it worked out, and have come to savor in it.

Everything since then, however, has been completely different.

I had all these pragmatic ideas on how we would raise Tycho: We would cloth diaper (after his umbilical stump came off, as even the BG newborn AIOs were too big for him!), I would exclusively breastfeed (EBF), we’d introduce a bottle only when preparing for daycare, we would cosleep. Literally none of those have worked out.

And you know what? I’m okay with that.

Probably the most poignant “loss” I experienced was the breastfeeding relationship… if you could even call it that. As a side note, I ended up getting some mild PPD after his birth, and for at least the first week of his life, I was in a desperate fog where I actually found Tycho to be so much a burden that I wanted nothing more to do with him. Nursing was the main issue, as it took at least an hour each time, and though his latch and suck were strong, it didn’t seem effective if he was on the boob for that length of time. He was eating every two hours, and considering one of those hours was spent actually feeding him, I only had a break for an hour before he’d be crying with hunger again. This went on day and night, leaving me exhausted and cringing at the thought of the next feeding.

Not to mention what all this did to my nipples. After only a couple days, Tycho had made some deep gouges in both of them, my right nipple especially, and I came to dread each time I would have to feed him. So it wasn’t only taking forever and leaving me drained and exhausted, but I would come close to crying at the thought of that one hour of rest flying by because I knew I would be in so much pain.

But I went through it for another few days. By day seven, I had given up, telling Matt that I didn’t want to do it anymore. I ended up supplementing by pumping for a day or two after that. Pumping showed that I was making enough milk (if barely), and I’d have 3 ounces from both breasts combined. Pumping came with its own struggle, though — when I wasn’t feeding him bottled breastmilk, I was pumping, tied down to a machine that left me feeling like a dairy cow. It would take a half-hour at least to get that milk out, and when you add that to feeding him (another half-hour) and that he was still feeding every two hours, I wasn’t saving myself any time or energy.

The final straw came when, in a fit of desperation, I supplemented with formula — Similac Sensitive, to be precise. He took to it really well, so well that I debated throwing in the towel altogether. I still had some pumped breastmilk in the fridge, though, that we wanted to use up before deciding if it would be the end or not, so in between formula bottles, we gave him a bottle with breastmilk.

It ended up being the last time he would touch the stuff. Not even twenty minutes after the breastmilk bottle, Tycho started to look really ill. He was lethargic, his face was contorted, and his stomach was making all these terrible noises. Finally, he released a torrent of breastmilk (and some partially-digested formula!) all over me, himself, the couch, a prefold we’ve been using as a burp rag, everything. And while he did look better, he still slept for four straight hours after that, obviously recuperating from the ordeal. Gave me a bit of time to hop in the shower. :P

So we decided, that’s it, we’re done. At that point, he became an exclusively formula-fed (EFF) baby, and he’s been doing so much better.

I asked Matt several times while feeding him if we were terrible parents for deciding to EFF. While switching did wonders for the onset of that PPD, it still screwed with my mind — it’s not what I wanted for Tycho! I was planning on EBFing him for at least a year, if not much longer. Choosing formula destroyed any chance of that, especially since I decided we would never go back and would let my milk supply dry up. I was a failure, a crunchy hippie mama who could have an all-natural birth but who couldn’t — and eventually wouldn’t — feed her baby breastmilk. An utter (udder?) failure!

Gods bless my husband, my doula, and the woman who did my placenta encapsulation, who all kept reassuring me that it was for the best, both for my mental health (as it started to steadily improve after this decision) and for Tycho, as he clearly didn’t do well after that expressed milk. Matt kept saying, we were formula-fed, we turned out fine, he would do great as well. And he needed a healthy mom.

Tycho is now almost three weeks old (as of tomorrow!), and we’re very happy with how everything is going. We did end up switching his formula under the supervision of his pediatrician, from Similac Sensitive to Gerber Good Start Gentle, and he’s doing great on it. I also love that Matt can help with the feedings, and like me, he enjoys gazing into our son’s eyes as he looks up at us with his “Thank you, oh giver of life!” look. :)

In the end, I found that I was my own worst enemy when it came to switching to EFFing. I had always been a “breast is best!” pragmatic… asshole (I’ll admit it!) when defending breastfeeding, so you can imagine how much an asshole I was to myself when we ended up making the switch. I beat myself up terribly, blaming myself for his latch and my production and the way he reacted to the expressed milk when he had already gotten used to formula. I didn’t feel like a terrible mother, I was a terrible mother.

Now that he’s been on formula for almost two weeks and I see just how much he’s thriving, I’ve loosened up a bit. I no longer feel like I’m poisoning my son when I go to feed him, I don’t feel like I have failed him in some way, and I take joy in the way he gazes in my direction as he eats. At this point, you could even call me a fearless formula feeder… many thanks to Melissa for that site!

Formula feeding does not mean you’ve failed your child in any way. Whether it be due to lifestyle, inability, or PPD as in my case, or whatever other reason you decide to EFF, you’re not screwing over your baby. After all, my mother didn’t fail me when I went on formula at 6 weeks, and Matt’s mother didn’t fail him when she started formula-feeding at 2 weeks. If anything, they’ve still raised two perfectly capable, intelligent, healthy, striking individuals… who have now created an individual of their own and are feeding him in a similar fashion.

And I know Tycho will grow up to be just the same: Capable, intelligent, healthy, and striking. All qualities we plan on feeding him not through formula, but through our parenting. :)

(Now a photo dump… as I just can’t get enough of this kid!! <3)

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