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Posts Tagged ‘breastfeeding’

As I mentioned in a previous post, I made the decision to stop breastfeeding when Alexander was about seven and a half months old.

 

My original plan – long before Alexander was born, or before I was even pregnant really – had been to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months and then to continue breastfeeding until the one-year mark. Of course, the plan was quickly squashed when I had a teeny tiny preemie who was too weak to fill his needs through exclusively breastfeeding and wasn’t stimulating my breasts enough for my milk to come in before he was ten days old. So we had to supplement until my milk came in. And, even then, I had to pump every three hours around the clock for the first five weeks of his life and supplement with pumped milk to ensure that he was getting enough to eat. But after he was ten days old, he ate exclusively breast milk. And after he was five weeks old, he rarely had a bottle of even pumped milk. I hated the pump. I didn’t respond well to it, and had to pump around the clock in between feedings for an entire day or more just to get enough milk to make a full bottle. So it wasn’t worth the time or energy. When he wanted milk, he got the boob.

 

I was always a little worried that he wouldn’t take well to breastfeeding or that he’d learn to prefer bottles since we had to start them right away. But those fears were completely unfounded. That boy LOVED him some boobies.

 

Loved them.

 

Loved them so much that he nursed every three hours around the clock right until he was weaned. Loved them so much that he woke up EVERY.SINGLE.HOUR at night just to hold them and touch them and comfort suck. And that became part of our problem. Combined with his intolerance to dairy and the necessary diet modification that came with it for me, breastfeeding became too much for me. I couldn’t eat any of my favorite foods. (Because a dairy intolerance isn’t like have a glass of wine – the protein stays in your system, and the baby’s, for weeks. So you can’t just cheat and skip a feeding. If you even slip up once, you pay the price for a loooong time.) I comforted myself by eating a lot of crap that I wouldn’t normally allow myself to eat. I was sleep deprived from being up every hour at night. I was (irrationally) resentful of my husband for not being able to help with Alexander overnight, and (again, irrationally) resentful of my poor innocent baby for needing me so much. Things were a mess. Something had to change.

 

But, yet, I continued to breastfeed. It was “THE PLAN”. I was “supposed” to do it for a year. It was the “best” thing for my baby.

 

So for months after I knew that something had to change, and that breastfeeding was probably that “something”, I continued to resentfully whip out my boob every time my child wanted it.  I grew more and more sleep-deprived and more and more resentful. And then one night, while rocking my precious little man, I realized that I wasn’t even enjoying him. He was cuddled in, loving me like I was the most amazing thing in the entire universe, and I wasn’t even enjoying it. I wasn’t rocking him because I loved the snuggle time. I was rocking him because he had just nursed and it was the only way to ensure that he stayed quiet for a few more minutes. And, even sadder still, I realized that most of our days were spent like that – with me gritting my teeth and tolerating the moments I should have been treasuring. That night, I rocked my baby and cried. SOBBED. I mean, I really bawled my eyes out. I’m surprised he slept through it. But I had finally made the decision to stop breastfeeding. I knew I had to do whatever it took to start enjoying my baby. I FINALLY realized that what’s “best” for a child is whatever makes sense for the family. Maybe that’s breastfeeding until the baby is three. Or maybe that’s not breastfeeding at all so the baby can have a happy mommy who actually enjoys him. The next morning, I went out and bought a can of formula.

 

… but I couldn’t bring myself to use it. That can of formula sat on the kitchen counter for almost another week, while I cried every night at the thought of using it the next day, before I finally gave in and made the decision to really switch. Had Alexander not had an intolerance to dairy, I probably would have just supplemented him with formula at night to see if it would help him sleep and continued to breastfeed on demand during the day. But I needed to stop the restricted diet. So my plan was to slowly wean Alexander over to formula over the next month or two, and then add dairy back to my diet when he was fully weaned from the breast. But once we started the weaning process, I just wanted to be done. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I wanted out, And weaning wasn’t an easy process for Alexander. He did fine when he had a few bottles in a row. But if he got the breast for a few consecutive feedings, he fought the bottle something fierce. When he got used to having boobies again, he wanted boobies.  So I decided to stop pretty much cold turkey.

 

I went out and bought cabbage leaves to stuff my bra. I took allergy medication to hopefully help dry up my supply. And I suffered through hugely engorged sore breasts for a while. For the first time in the entire time I had been breastfeeding, I leaked through my clothes at night and woke up covered in my own milk. I had to stuff towels inside my sports bras to soak up all the milk I was leaking at night. I hand expressed minute amounts of milk to relieve pressure when necessary, and nursed once a day for the first few days when things got totally unbearable. Every time I nursed, I cried. I cried because it was possibly the last time I’d ever nurse my baby. I cried because I wasn’t sure I was making the right decision. I cried because my hormones were going crazy at the sudden change in my breastfeeding habits. I cried… and I cried… and I cried.

 

After about a week, I was pretty much all dried up. I could still express milk if I tried. And I occasionally leaked a tiny amount from time to time. But I was done. Alexander was completely weaned to bottles. And the actual last time that I nursed him, I cried for what felt like forever.

 

It still makes me sad that I wasn’t able to breastfeed until Alexander was a year old. I would have loved to have been able to do that for him. But it just wasn’t the right decision for us. I’d never take back my breastfeeding experience – tears and all – because I am so proud that I was able to provide my son with breast milk for as long as I did. Especially given the obstacles we overcame in the beginning. And sometimes I do wonder if quitting was the right decision. Maybe I could have gotten medication to help me deal with my emotions and I would have been able to continue breastfeeding. Maybe I should have just sucked it up and powered through it for the sake of continuing to breastfeed my son. But, deep down, I know that I made the right decision for us. When I’m laughing with my son and playing with him and enjoying snuggles in the rocking chair without an ounce of obligation or resentment, I know I did the right thing. I’ve enjoyed him more in the last five months than I did for the first eight months of his life. Hell, I’ve probably enjoyed him more in the last eight days than I did in the first eight months of his life. I feel terrible even typing that. But it’s true.

 

I wasn’t always so confident and pleased about my decision. About a week after we were completely switched over to formula, my cousin (who formula-fed both her children without even considering breastfeeding) asked me if I found bottles to be more convenient. My answer? HELL NO. Whenever my baby was whiny or unhappy or hungry before, all I had to do was whip out a boob. BOOM. Problem solved. It didn’t matter if he wasn’t hungry, boobies were the answer. He loved them. They fixed it. You can’t just give a kid a bottle of formula every time to comfort them every time they need something. Well, I guess you could, but your kid would be obese. And giving bottles meant WASHING bottles. Every.single.day. Not just one bottle on the occasional time that I decided to pump and give him one. Multiple bottles. Sometimes multiple bottles multiple times a day. And you have to MAKE bottles. You don’t just whip them out. So when the kid wakes in the middle of the night, you actually have to listen to him wailing while you prepare a bottle instead of just filling his mouth with some delicious boob juice. And you have to prepare ahead when you’re going places. You actually have to BRING bottles… and water… and powder. And you have to consider how long you’re going for because you have to bring enough of all those things. With breastfeeding, his food was always just THERE. But, over time, formula-feeding becomes just as easy as breastfeeding. And you hardly even think about the extra work involved.

 

Of course, I don’t think I could have EVER been formula-feeding long enough to get used to the extra money involved. Alexander required a hypoallergenic formula that costed nearly $25 for a can that lasted approximately 3.5 days. DO THE MATH! Over $200 a month just for formula! And that was after he was eating solid foods! I can’t even begin to imagine how much it would have cost at peak consumption!

 

But! Extra work and extra cost aside, I really do feel that switching over to formula was the right decision for our family. We’re all much happier now. And Alexander is no worse for the wear. He’s still as smart and cute as ever. And still weirdly obsessed with my breasts.

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Tonight I had a craving for something sweet.

I’ve also been reading up on home remedies for increasing your milk supply. I don’t have any reason to think that my supply is necessarily low. But I’d like to get a bit of a stash in the freezer. And having a child who still feeds every three hours around the clock doesn’t leave me with much extra milk for pumping.

The solution to both problems? Oatmeal cookies!

The evidence to support that eating oatmeal (in any form, even cookies!) increases milk production is mostly anecdotal. There are some theories to support the science behind it. But not a whole lot has been proven. Either way, I figured it was worth a shot. If it really did increase my milk supply, well fabulous! If not, hey, I still got to eat cookies! 😉

I just used the Robin Hood Oatmeal Cookies Recipe found on the package of quick oats.

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Ingredients:

¾ cup (175 mL) margarine
¾ cup (175 mL) brown sugar, packed
½ cup (125 mL) sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp (30 mL) water
2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla
¾ cup (175 mL) Robin Hood® All Purpose Flour
¾ tsp (3 mL) baking soda
2 ½ cups (625 mL) Robin Hood® or Old Mill® Oats
1 ½ cups (375 mL) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Cream first 6 ingredients together on medium speed of electric mixer until light and creamy. Combine flour and soda. Add to creamed mixture, beating on low speed until blended. Stir in oats and chocolate chips. Drop dough by heaping spoonfuls onto greased or parchment paper lined baking sheets.
2. Bake at 350ºF (180ºC) for 12-15 minutes, or until light golden. Don’t overbake.

It called for chocolate chips, but I left those out to make them dairy-free. I finely chopped a little unsweetened chocolate and added it in to give them a little taste of chocolate, but they honestly should have gone without it. It was a little bitter for my liking.

Now I’m off to pig out on cookies… umm, I mean “increase my milk supply”. 😉

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I have finally found an acceptable cheese substitute!

I hadn’t even bothered to check at our teeny tiny local grocery store because a) it’s really small, and I assumed it wouldn’t carry any dairy-free alternatives and b) we rarely shop there because it tends to be more expensive than the larger chain stores. However I had to pop in there one day last week to pick up some milk (not for me!) and noticed a new brand of cheese substitute – Daiya!

I purchased the mozzarella-style shreds. They’re mostly made with tapioca and arrowroot flours and vegetable oils. So they’re free of dairy and soy, as well as gluten, eggs and hormones/preservatives. You can also get cheddar-style shreds and several wedge varieties.

The Mozza ones are great. They actually melt and stretch and have a great creamy texture! I’ve used them to make a modified version of chicken “parm”, garlic cheese toast, and omelettes. So far, they’ve worked well on everything I’ve tried. I’m really looking forward to trying it on pizza and getting the cheddar ones to try. 🙂

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Today’s adventure in my new dairy-free existence was to find a suitable replacement for chocolate milk.

 

Yes, I am an adult. And a dietitian. And I drink chocolate milk. Moving on.

 

I’ve opted not to replace dairy with soy because many children who have sensitivities to dairy also have them to soy. Plus there’s the issue of soy containing estrogen which, in large amounts, can decrease your supply of breast milk. Highly unlikely in the amounts I’d consume in a few soy-based foods, but why chance it? So that left me searching for a beverage to replace chocolate milk – one of my all-time favorite dairy products. And that brought me to almond milk.

 

It’s actually not bad. If I had bought plain/vanilla to just use on cereal or in recipes, it would probably be fine. But I wanted something to replace the chocolatey goodness that is chocolate milk. And it just wasn’t chocolatey enough. So I did what any respectable adult would do – I put chocolate syrup in it. Haha. Problem solved.

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Tonight I decided to see how my rice cheese would work on pizza. And I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised!

I made homemade pizza dough using a recipe I posted earlier (here!), laid down a base of EVOO and some herbs, covered that with a mixture of BBQ sauce and a little hot sauce, topped with chicken, green onion, Serrano peppers and tomato, and finished with some grated rice cheese.

… Voila!

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Again, the cheese didn’t melt well. Not even with being in the oven for the prolonged time necessary to bake the pizza dough. And it didn’t give that same gooey goodness you’d get from cheese. But it was actually pretty good! I would definitely do it again!

Now I can have pizza again! Hooray!! 😀

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I’m not even sure how I discovered Baby Rabies – maybe it was through something I googled or maybe it was mentioned on a forum I participate in – but I am soooo glad I did. It has quickly become my new obsession and I find myself spending too much time reading her backlog of posts dating all the way back to 2007. I absolutely love honest, uncensored accounts of motherhood, and Baby Rabies is definitely that!

I bet you’re wondering how exactly a new mom with a needy baby manages to spend hours a day reading mommy blogs. I do it when I’m breastfeeding. Now before you get all judgmental, I don’t spend every minute of my breastfeeding experience attached to my phone or iPad. There are times when my sweet little man looks up at me with his big bluer than blue eyes and he’s feeding so gently and calmly that my heart melts and I spend the entire time just soaking up every ounce of cuteness I can get. Those are the times when I snuggle him just a bit closer and gush to him about how loved he is. But there are also times when he’s screeching like a howler monkey and coming at my breast like a rabid dog for the ninth time in as many hours, and the idea of feeding him again is enough to make me want to throw in the towel and hand both baby and a bottle of formula to my husband and call it quits. Those are the times when a refreshingly honest mommy blog is just what I need to distract me through a feeding.

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Yup, cheeseless pizza sucks.

I write this while choking down my crappy cheeseless pizza and watching my husband chow down on gooey delicious pizza covered in mozzarella goodness.

Have I mentioned that I’m a little bitter about breastfeeding a baby who likely has a cows milk protein sensitivity?! Don’t get me wrong, I’ll do whatever I have to do to give my baby the best possible nutrition during those ever-important early months – including give up all of my favorite foods. (And I do mean ALL of my favorite foods!) But it really does suck. Pizza, for instance, will never be quite the same. It’s dry and not at all appetizing.

Even with extra sauce.

Even with lots of extra herbs and spices.

Even with bacon crumbled over the top.

Conclusion? Cheeseless pizza sucks!

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