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.