Monday, April 29, 2013

Thoughts for My Mom

Tomorrow morning, my mom is having an operation to remove an aneurysm from the underside of her brain.

Michael Temchine Photography

My mom has a long and sordid medical history, but the short of it is that, about a month before Abby was born, my mom fell and knocked her noggin.  When she had a CAT scan to ensure there wasn't any damage, the doctor spotted this aneurysm.  There's no way to say how long it had been there.  The risk of it bursting was small enough that if my mom was 80, the doc would say to not bother, but great enough that, if my mom was 30, he would recommend she have it operated on.  It wasn't urgent, but after months of consideration, my mom decided to have it removed, rather than spend the rest of her life worrying about whether it was going to blow at any moment.

By nature, I am not a worrier.  It may be because my mom is a worrier, and I grew up seeing how stressful that was.  It may also be because my dad is not a worrier.  So, after talking to the nurse at my mom's doc's practice, and reading the consent form that listed all of the risks for the procedure, I wasn't particularly worried.  The risks seem pretty small.  That is, until I talked to my dad today and asked, "You're not that worried, are you?" My mom is beside herself with worry.  She can't sleep, and is making sure to call everyone she loves.

"Well, yeah, I'm worried," my dad answered.

"But not that worried, right?"

"Well, with your mom's medical history..."

So, if my dad is worried, now, I am worried, too.  But I also have a lot of faith that everything is going to be okay, and told her as much.  I know she has a lot of people pulling for her.  And while I'm not the praying sort, I do believe in the power of positive energy and  thoughts.  Whether your good thoughts happen to come through prayer or not, please send some my mom's way tomorrow and over the next week or so, while she goes through this procedure and recovery.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Baby Breakfast Groups (+bonus picture!)

I am not crazy about the term "lactation support group."  It sounds very technical and is a mouthful.  So, Kevin and I started calling the groups "Baby Breakfast."  It's morning and the babies are eating, right?  Although, I guess with starting at 10AM, it's really more of a brunch, but Baby Breakfast has stuck for us.

When Abby first went to the group at Upper Chesapeake,  she was only five days old, and one of the smallest babies there.  Everyone fusses over the smallest babies.  I saw moms with these enormous babies, and I gaped at them.  "How old is your baby?" I asked.  I was shocked to hear that these gigantic babies were sometimes only three months old.  It was hard to believe that my brand new little girl would be that big in three short months.

On Tuesday, our friend Sarah took her brand new little girl to Baby Breakfast.  At only two days old , her baby was definitely one of the smallest.  We took a picture of them, along with our other friend Jenny and her six-week old boy, and me and Abby.  Look who has the huge baby, now!

Small, Medium, and Large.  The babies, that is.  Don't worry, we won't let those nicknames stick.

I go to two different groups, and enjoy both of them for different reasons.  Both offer opportunities for weigh-feed-weigh, if you want to see how much your peanut is eating.  If you're in the Baltimore/Harford County area, here is the info for them:

Upper Chesapeake Medical Center - Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10AM - 11:30(ish).  It is basically a big, social breastfeeding hour with two lactation consultants coming around to assist and answer questions.  It's a good way to meet other moms and get one-on-one support.  The upside is that the consultants will sometimes spend a half hour with someone who really needs it; the downside is if you're not that person, you might have to wait awhile to get the help you're looking for.  Usually, though, you can get the help you need.

Mercy Medical Center - Mondays from 10AM - noon(ish). This is run more as a support group, with everyone sitting around a table, introducing themselves and sharing their issues.  The issues are usually feeding related, but are also sometimes about other things, like sleeping or behavior.  These issues are addressed by the consultant who runs the group, Dee Dee.  She has a wealth of information and experience, and is good at acknowledging how new moms feel, which we don't always feel that we can admit. I like hearing everyone else's issues, personally.  Helps me feel less crazy.  :-) Dads are also welcome to this group, but only a few come.

Those are the only two I've been to, but there are many more all across Maryland.  The Maryland Breastfeeding Coalition has a great list if you're looking for one in a different area.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Our Breastfed Baby Girl

Our little angel baby was four months old on Saturday!

It's hard to believe that this wiggly, 13lb chunker with the chubby cheeks and double chin is the same little newborn who struggled to reach her birth weight by the third week (the goal is by two weeks).

Look how big her diaper was on her!
I am so proud of her; so proud of us, for fighting through our eating challenges.  Those first few weeks were rough - the problems latching, the nipple pain, the hour to an hour and 45 minute feedings.  Those two days when I couldn't wake her up to eat for more than three minutes before she fell back to sleep, and sometimes couldn't wake her up at all. The waiting for weeks to get an appointment with the ear, nose, and throat doctor and pinning so much hope on that getting her tongue tie clipped would solve all of our problems (which it didn't).  I would whisper to her all those hours at night - "We're two smart girls.  We can figure this out."  

I remember when the lactation consultants advised me to pump after feedings to keep my supply up, and I only had a hand pump at the time, so 15 minutes on each side added up to a half an hour.  After trying to feed her who-knows -how-long.  Before they told me I didn't have to do it at night (OH THANK GOD), I sat, pathetic in a bean bag chair, pumping away and longing for sleep.

When she didn't gain her birth weight back until her third week, another lactation consultant looked grave, and got us on a plan to pump and bottle feed.  I know I already posted about this, but I was so relieved to have a plan, rather than just, "Eh, give her a syringe of milk if it seems like she didn't eat enough." LIKE I HAD ANY IDEA! But, at the same time, I was so scared that if we bottle fed, she wouldn't breast feed.  However, there were two moms at the support group who had been in the same boat we were, and they had chubby, healthy four-month olds.  So I had faith.

And now, here we are, with our very own chubby, healthy four-month old.  We've weaned her off of bottles (save for special occasions and a night time one with Daddy), weaned her off a nipple shield, and gone down from an hour, to 45 minutes, to around 20 or sometimes even less.  So, I'm here to say to moms struggling with breastfeeding their babies:  Hang in there.  You and your baby can do it.  Get help, and there may be more than one way to reach your breastfeeding goals.  When I told Lactation Consultant A that Lactation Consultant B had told us to pace bottle feed, Consultant A looked stern and said that she would've had us use a Supplemental Nursing System (SNS), where Mom hangs a bottle of milk around her neck and tapes a tube to the nipple for the baby to get extra (these are the same people who had us using a syringe and never mentioned an SNS).  Consultant A said she'd never seen a pace-bottle fed baby transition successfully to nursing.


I see that a lot of women find the SNS or syringe feeding to be what they need to help them and their baby get through their feeding challenges, so I don't mean to trash those methods. I just want to say that different approaches will help different people, and to find what seems to work the best for you and your baby.  I couldn't be happier with how things worked out for me and my little girl.

I'll write a follow up post with information on some local breastfeeding support groups.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Laughing Abby

I love this picture we took of Abby for Easter, because she looks like she's laughing:

...but I love this video even more, because she actually is laughing:

I knew I would miss something while I worked this week!  I thought it would be rolling over, but it ended up being her first laugh.  Just before this, according to Kevin, Abby was working on rolling over, and was so close!  So, her daddy gave her a little extra push to get her on her belly, and she was just so delighted she started laughing! I haven't been able to stop watching it all day.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Baby Talk

I know some people (her grandparents) would like to see more videos of Abby.  Here's the thing. Although she is a very photogenic baby, as evidenced here:

Don't worry, I'll post more of these soon!

...she does seem to have a little bit of stage fright.  She'll often be wiggling around or cooing, cute and active as can be, but as soon as I take out my iPhone or a camera to take a video, she'll just kind of lay there.  Still adorable, of course, but no one (except maybe grandparents) wants to watch a video of someone else's baby just laying there.

Well, last weekend, Abby either got over her stage fright, or was so enthralled with what she was doing that she didn't notice that her daddy was recording her.  She's moved from the basic coos of last month's video to all sorts of tones and modulations (that sounds so technical!).  The video is precious, though - watch how she reacts when she when she sees me in the mirror with her.

We love watching her figure all this out!  We wonder if she thinks she's saying actual words, actually telling us something, or if she just thinks she's making fun noises.  If she is trying to talk to us, I wonder what she's saying?