Friday, July 29, 2011

10 Weeks Old

(Nursing Norah. It was so cute I had to post it!)

Half of me doesn’t even want to write a blog this week, but I want to let you come along on our journey of parenthood even when it isn’t great. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Actually, everything IS great, except for breastfeeding. But that is so important to me that when it isn’t going well, it’s all I can think about.

Last Thursday, I met with Leslie, the La Leche League lady. She was able to figure out that while Norah is latched on correctly, she isn’t quite sucking the right way. She is “tongue thrusting,” which means that instead of having her tongue overtop of her gums, she is moving it in and out with each suck, so it’s almost like she’s chewing on me. No wonder it’s so painful. I was so relieved to finally have an answer.

However, this isn’t an easy problem to solve. We have to work with her to keep her tongue in the right place by letting her suck on a finger and gently pushing down on her tongue, which reflexively makes her stick it out further. (She actually seems to like this “game.” She will suck a few times and then stop to smile – SO cute!)

By Friday evening, just a day after my meeting with Leslie, she started to suck the right way on my finger! It felt better to nurse her too. I thought we had the problem solved.

However, a couple of days later it was apparent that something she’s doing is still causing me injury. The pain got worse again, and by today I wasn’t even succeeding at holding in the screams anymore. So here I am again, pumping from the right side to let it heal, and nursing her from the left for as long as she’ll tolerate the slower flow of milk.

So, I have two theories for why I’m still in so much pain. Either she is still sucking incorrectly and I just can’t tell (or she’s doing it for part of the time), or the fact that she will not open her mouth wide until she is already latched on is injuring me. So I’m working with her on that, too. I always say, “open,” and open my mouth wide to show her, and pull down on her chin, and reward her by letting her latch on. Sounds like training a puppy, doesn’t it? Sometimes the only way I can get her to open wide is to wait until she opens her mouth to cry.

If that’s the problem, then I’m sure we can fix it. If the suck is still wrong, then I’m afraid time is running out to correct that, because the habit is going to be so ingrained that she won’t be able to change it.

I’ve started pumping every night after she goes to sleep so I can start storing up a supply in the freezer. I’ve been getting 3.5 to 4 ounces each night, but every morning when I’m way too sleepy to subject myself to the torturous pain of breastfeeding, I ask Travis to give her what I pumped. So, I still don’t have any milk stored for later (with the exception of the 8 ounces she’ll eat in the middle of the night and tomorrow morning), but I am proud of the fact that it’s been a week since she’s had any formula. I’d love it if she never has it again.

I made this dispenser for my frozen milk. It has a slit in the bottom so we’ll always pull out the oldest milk first.

Another thing we’ve been working on with Norah is using the toilet. I know this is a completely weird and foreign concept to most people, and I myself used to think it was crazy. However, with very minimal effort on our part, Norah has been going on the toilet usually once a day, which is one less poopy diaper we have to deal with. She’s learned the cues. We just hold her over the toilet and tell her to go. Of course, we’ve had to learn her cues as well. We usually know when she needs to go. I really have no expectations from her on this. It’s mostly for her own comfort (not having to sit in poo). Us not having to deal with the diapers is a bonus, and another bonus might be easier potty training later on. It’s also just really fun to communicate with her and know that she gets it.

She has also been doing a lot of imitating lately. Travis’s favorite game with her is to have her imitate him sticking out his tongue or saying syllables. Her favorite sound is still “gah,” but she’s learning new ones almost daily. She’s starting to babble and squeal more, which is so cute to hear.

New toys: Travis’s parents recently gave her a jungle-y activity mat, which she really likes. She likes to look at the little dangling animals and bat them around. If she’s in a good mood, she’ll entertain herself with that for probably ten minutes (while Daddy naps).

We also got her a doorway jumper. This was our one splurge for her. We got the best one we could find (Merry Muscles). It was designed by a physical therapist, so it’s really safe and good for exercise, plus it can accommodate 10 to 40 lbs. (approx. 2 months to 2 years). It also has full back and head support so it doesn’t matter that she can’t sit up on her own yet.

We were really excited for her to try it since she loves to be able to look around and she loves to stand up. She seems to like it, but not as much as she likes looking at her dangly toys. I’m sure she’ll like it more when she figures out how to jump in it.

I’ve met lots of other moms of babies lately, which is really nice. I went to a La Leche League meeting a couple of weeks ago, and I really liked every single person there. It’s like a support group for breastfeeding, but you can discuss whatever you want. Most of the other moms were cloth diapering too, and I just related really well with them. It’s so nice to spend some time with women who are going through the same things. I also went to a mother baby luncheon today, which was also nice, but a bit more formal. The La Leche League meeting just felt like getting together with a group of good friends. I plan to go to that every month. I wish it met more often!

We’re getting ready to go back to work! Travis starts school on August 8th, and I’ll start teaching lessons soon after that. I’m actually kind of excited, but I know Travis isn’t! I only have to teach for a few hours a day, sometimes less, so I think it will actually feel like a break for me. Norah needs me almost constantly during her waking hours, and don’t get me wrong – I love spending time with her! But I think it will be refreshing to be away for a few hours. Even when she was three weeks old I liked leaving her with my mom while we taught at Summer Music School. It made me feel like I’m still my own person even though I’m someone’s mommy. And actually, I think I’ll only be away from her on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays unless I get a lot of new students. She’ll come with me when I teach my nieces, and if it works out I plan to have her here with me, hopefully napping, while I teach the students who come to my house. Anyway, I’ll let you know how all of that goes.

Here are some more photos!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

9 Weeks Old

This week has been our hardest yet!

Norah was fussy for several days after she got her vaccines. She has always been such a calm, happy baby as long as she’s fed, so we really didn’t know what to do with her.

On top of that, we’ve been having really difficult breastfeeding issues. This is a bit of a long story, but I will start from the beginning. Don’t read this if it makes you squeamish, or if you just don’t want to know.

When Norah was a newborn, she had trouble latching on to me, and it hurt me when she did. So as soon as my milk came in on day three, we bought a nipple shield on the advice of my midwife (see below).

It really was a great tool to have. I’m not sure what we would have done without it. Norah was able to nurse fine with the shield, and it didn’t hurt (much).

I was, however, annoyed with having an extra step and trying to be discreet while putting it on in public, etc. So I started trying to wean her off of it while we were in Pennsylvania. For some reason, one side hurt more than the other, so I started nursing her without the shield on the side that didn’t hurt as much. She soon got the hang of nursing without the shield and all was going well.

Things started going south about a week and a half or two weeks ago, around when we got home from PA (no pun intended, about the going south…).

First I noticed that after she nursed she was still acting hungry. This had never happened before. She would always eat for a long time, maybe 45 minutes, and then usually fall asleep. Now she was eating for a shorter amount of time and then getting squirmy, and finally pulling off and crying. I’ve had to supplement with formula almost daily, which I hate. I also was getting less milk when I tried to pump, and everything I pumped I just ended up giving her later the same day.

Over a week ago now I started the More Milk Plus capsules. A couple of times I could tell they were working, but I did not consistently have more milk. In fact, overall it seemed like I was producing less and less milk, despite my efforts to increase my supply.

At the same time, Norah was starting to refuse the nipple shield altogether. She decided she liked nursing without it better, I think because she can get the milk out easier without it. She has made it very clear that she doesn’t like it. Several times in the past week, this has been the scenario:

I nurse her without the shield on the side that doesn’t hurt, which, incidentally, is the one that produces much less milk. (I am told this is very normal. However, I don’t feel like it’s normal to be quite as lopsided as I am. She will only nurse for five minutes on that side, if I’m lucky. It’s usually more like two minutes.) Norah fusses while I switch her to the other side and try to nurse her with the shield. She will suck a few times, and then pull off and scream angrily because it isn’t coming out fast enough. After trying to get her to latch on several more times, we offer a bottle of pumped milk instead. She refuses it and keeps screaming. (She is beginning to show a distaste for bottles.) I finally give in and let her have what she wants: to nurse with no shield on the side that hurts. Now I’m the one who is holding back screams. Remember how I said labor and delivery was a 13 on the 1 to 10 pain scale? Well, this is at least a 9.5.

It is SO sad for me to let her scream and cry, knowing that I can give her what she wants if I can stand the pain for just a few minutes. The hardest thing is when I’ve already pumped and she either has to take the bottle or go hungry for a while. I’ve been trying to avoid that, but I also need to pump when I can to help increase my supply (the more milk you remove, the more your body makes).

On Sunday I had a lactation consultant come over. She looked at Norah’s latch and got me to put her in an ideal nursing position. For a while I thought it was a bit better, but now it’s back to unbearable.

I really don’t get it. I don’t know why it hurts on one side and not the other, and it really figures that the one that hurts is the one she gets most of her food from. There is nothing wrong with the way she’s latched on (which is usually the cause of breastfeeding pain, aside from infections), at least not that you can see. She does not have tongue tie either. At this point I’m wondering if there’s some kind of numbing cream that would be safe to use, but I doubt it. It is really stressful never knowing how the next feeding is going to go. Is it too much to ask to be able to feed my child without being in excruciating pain? There is SOMETHING wrong – I just wish I knew what it was.

Tomorrow I am meeting with a La Leche League leader who helped me when Norah was a day old. I SO hope she can figure out what’s going on. (I just reminded myself of another interesting point: when she (her name is Leslie) came to help me back then, she actually nursed Norah herself for a few minutes to teach her what to do, and also because Norah hadn’t eaten at all in a day and a half. Leslie had no pain. So the problem has to be with me. But it doesn’t hurt when I pump, so the problem has to be with Norah…do you see the conundrum?)

At least I am starting to see an increase in my milk supply. The other night I finally decided to double the suggested dose of the More Milk Plus supplement, which is just herbal. I figured if it wasn’t safe to take more than they suggest, they would have a warning on the bottle. And the bottle really does say “suggested use”… I also read that you have to take a lot of fenugreek (one of the ingredients) to see an improvement in milk production. More specifically, it said, “You know you’re taking enough if your sweat smells like maple syrup.” Strange, I know.

I think my milk supply dropped so low because of the nipple shield. Norah can’t fully empty me out with it, so I think I just kept making less and less milk because my body thought she didn’t need what was left, when really she just couldn’t get it.

The hardest part for me in all of this is that Norah really wants to nurse. If she didn’t care, I’d be likely to just pump and give her bottles, since, as I said, pumping doesn’t hurt. But I’d really like to nurse her, too. And I’m afraid that by the time we get this figured out, she’ll have already given up. That would be devastating to me, if finally we got everything worked out and she just wanted a bottle. I want her to want to nurse.

Speaking of bottles, we’ve been using them so often that we finally decided to get some better ones. The ones we had (Tommee Tippee) were supposed to be the best for breastfed babies, but they aren’t that great, despite their high price.
The nipple shape is great, but the flow is too fast, even with a stage one nipple, and she also ends up ingesting some air. Finally today I took Norah to Babies R Us and bought a couple of Playtex bottles, which were recommended to me by one of my sisters long ago, and also by a friend. They’re the ones that have a bag inside that collapses while the baby eats, so she can’t get any air.

The nipples also flow much slower. The milk will not just drip out – she has to suck to get any. I don’t like the nipple shape as much, but it’s not bad. She seems to do better with them and milk isn’t constantly dripping down her chin and being wasted. They’re also cheaper, and since they use bags you don’t have to have a whole bunch of bottles, just a whole bunch of bags. You can also store milk and freeze it in the same bag you put in the bottle. Much easier.

I’m keeping a couple of the Tommee Tippees in case she can use them when she’s older, but I’ll sell the others at a consignment event or something.

I could talk about more stuff for this week, but this is pretty long already so I guess I’ll just post a few photos from the week and let this be the end. Hopefully next week I’ll have a positive update on breastfeeding.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

8 Weeks Old!!!

Hey, strangers! Sorry it’s been so long – (six weeks!) – since I’ve updated! We just returned from our month-long trip to Pennsylvania.

Our little Norah is now eight weeks old, and not so little! She is now almost 24 inches long (97th percentile!) and 10 pounds 11 ounces (between 50th and 75th percentile). When she was a newborn, she was at about the 75th percentile in both length and weight.

She’s been smiling more and more – several times a day now. She’ll almost always smile when we smile at her and talk to her, and she has a little panda toy that she always smiles at in the car seat.

She still seems very strong for her age. She holds her head up with no problem at all, stands up very well with support, and is able to hold up her head and chest during tummy time. She even rolled over the other day!

She is definitely interested in looking at things. She likes looking out the window and being outside, and she’ll smile at toys sometimes (especially, as I mentioned, her panda).

She’s starting to figure out how to manipulate her hands, especially to get them in her mouth. She likes to suck on her fists. She will take a pacifier sometimes…she has to be in the right mood. We have some Soothie brand ones, but they constantly fall out of her mouth, and they’re not very soft. Yesterday we picked up a couple of Natursutten pacifiers (the natural rubber kind), and she seems to like them better. They still fall out, though!

She’s been sleeping for at least four hours in a row at night. It’s pretty random, though. Once she slept for nine hours! If we’re lucky, she starts out in the Pack ‘n’ Play or the bouncy seat, or occasionally the car seat if we’ve just come home from somewhere. Then I bring her into our bed the first time she wakes up, and she stays with us for the rest of the night.

She’s still really laid back and doesn’t cry much unless she’s hungry or overtired.

She has been cooing during her alert times. The sounds she makes are really cute! She usually says “Guh” or “Gah,” or sometimes just vowels.

Cloth diapering is going really well and still doesn’t seem like much work. Eat your words, naysayers! :-P

We have found that you get what you pay for where diapers are concerned. The BestBottoms ( are by far the best ones. We might’ve had one little leak with those so far. But they’re expensive. The $5 Alva Baby diapers ( are mostly good, but sometimes leak, and a few of them almost always leak. I think they will be better when she’s bigger. The problem is that the leg holes are too big.

Breastfeeding has been going pretty well, too, but it’s been harder than I expected. I’m determined to stick with it even though it is still sometimes very painful and I’m now struggling a little bit to keep my supply up. When we were working at a music camp in Pennsylvania for 4-5 hours a day she had to have some formula almost every day, even though I tried to pump enough for her. I still had enough milk for her on the days I was with her all day, though. When we were getting ready to come home, I was hoping I could increase my supply just enough to pump a few ounces a day to save in the freezer for whenever we need it. Somehow, though, almost suddenly I couldn’t seem to make even enough milk to keep Norah fed. Yesterday morning I fed her till I was empty, and then she took three ounces of formula, and it was the same story again a few hours later.

Since we had our final midwife appointment yesterday, I bought a supplement from them called More Milk Plus, made by Mother Love. It seems to be working already! Thank goodness. They also recommended brewer’s yeast, which I bought today. (You can get brewer’s yeast by drinking beer, but if you do that you have to wait at least two hours before you can nurse again, and I never know when she’s going to want to eat. Also, I just don’t like beer.)

Those of you who have seen me in person lately probably noticed that I’m pretty open about breastfeeding in the presence of other people. As long as I’m not exposed, I could care less. I would never be able to go anywhere if I was embarrassed about it, because Norah eats so often and takes so long to eat. I have fed her in several restaurants, in the (parked) car, at a picnic table in a state park, in other people’s living rooms, at the doctor’s office, and even while walking down the sidewalk! Travis has noticed some strange looks from other people, but I’m so ADD that I’m pretty oblivious, and who cares? Baby’s gotta eat. I think it’s kind of a ridiculous thing for people to get bent out of shape over.

Today Norah had her two-month vaccines. It was the saddest thing ever. There were three shots: two in her left thigh and one in her right. She instantly just squealed and cried like we’ve never heard her cry before. The nurse said she never saw a two-month-old kick like she did!

There was also an oral vaccine that we opted out of. It was called “Rotarix,” for rotavirus, which sounds similar to the flu. The concern with that would be dehydration, but we opted not to give it to her because most children who get rotavirus are in contact with lots of other children (like in daycare). It also is not one of the vaccines that are required to go to kindergarten. We don’t want to give her anything that isn’t necessary. All of the other vaccines prevent against illnesses that are very severe.

Anyway, after she got the shots, I nursed her to sleep and we ran some errands. When we got home and she woke up, I fed her again and she kept whimpering, eventually leading to a total meltdown that lasted for something like a half hour. Finally we gave her the doctor’s recommended dose of infant Tylenol (they said she would be sore), and she went to sleep again for a few hours. She is now on her third nap of the day. I hope she’ll be back to normal tomorrow!

Here is a photo of her today, looking pretty unhappy by her standards:

Anyway, the doctor says she’s perfectly healthy and thriving!

Be back soon for another update!

Here are a bunch of photos from our trip to PA!