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  • Archive for December, 2014

    This was a year, y’all! On Christmas Eve this year I kept thinking “This time last year I had a hunch I was pregnant.” On Christmas I thought, “I was pretty damn sure I was pregnant this time last year and was keeping my hunch a secret.”, and remembering how much I was analyzing my possible symptoms before getting a pregnancy test. The day after Christmas this year I thought that it really couldn’t have been a whole year ago that I went to visit my friend Stephanie and was too nervous to tell her I thought I was pregnant and to ask her if I could please use her bathroom to pee on a stick. I thought about how I instead I peed on a stick in the Starbucks bathroom, and then waited for my coffee order to come up while I peeked inside my purse at the stick I’d shoved in there after leaving the bathroom, and grinning with shock and excitment when it said I was pregnant.

    That’s been a whole year ago now!

    So, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that my # 1 best of for the year is Forest!

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    1. Forest: Of course my very best of 2014 is going to be my kid! From first seeing him on the ultrasound to introducing him to the world, he’s definitely been at the forefront of my thoughts for the majority of the year. What a trip these last four months have been! I have a post on motherhood brewing in my head, but a short synopsis on what introducing a child to your life is: intense love, insanity, and life changing. I thought really hard during Christmas this year because it was one year ago that I was someone who’d never gone down this path of parenthood in any form and then in that tiny moment of looking at the pregnancy test everything changed. It is still surreal. I covered some of that in my Postpartum Thoughts write-up.
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    3. Finishing my Florida Trail book: I wrote a giant treatise on the first of the year last year on Reconsidering The Florida Trail As A Valuable Long Trail which in turn got some attention from folks in the Florida Trail community as well as those outside of it in the general hiking world. I’m glad I wrote it, getting some frustrations out and hopefully spurring some interest in the trail itself. The Florida Trail needs some love!! That led to being invited to talk about the FT on The Trail Show which was an awesome experience and I was glad to spread the love of the FT to the hiking community.

      At the end of January I finished my book and in my perfect hindsight view I realllllly should have edited it before Forest was born. Since I didn’t I plan on getting that done this spring and we’ll see what happens with it after that. I’m just glad I wrote the dang thing and will remember all of the frustrations with my slow studio computer (my old laptop), piling on blankets during the cold months because the heat didn’t do my studio justice, and listening to internet radio. I’m ready to spend some more time in my studio polishing up the book and getting it out there.

      I should also add that recently I was interviewed by Sandra Friend at Florida Hikes! as part of her Wild Women series. You can read my interview here but please check out all of the other fantastic ladies that were interviewed as well!

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    5. Florida!: In March, just as I was getting over the first trimester nausea and before I was really showing, we went back to Florida for the first time since we’d hiked the Florida Trail three years previously. We hit up Little Slough for some rambling, and saw several old friends…oh it was good to see them! There was Paddling at Riverbend Park and Swamping in Fakahatchee Strand. Just thinking about doing all of these activities makes me long for the days when Forest is big enough to go exploring. I miss it so much.

    Those were the big things this year. We had a few big garden projects but I wasn’t as involved in those and as summer wore on my outside involvement reached nearly to nil and once Forest was born it was nil. There weren’t any big creative projects after I finished writing my book, which bums me out a little bit and makes me itch to get a lot of creative things done this coming year. I suppose the one creative thing I somehow managed to do was put together a printed book of Forest’s birth story as well as a scrapbook of his birth. I managed that on maternity leave and Forest’s more sleepy times.

    In all, it was definitely a good year but I’m excited for the upcoming year. I picked a word for 2015 and hope to share it with you soon. I haven’t picked a word in two years!

    2014, you were one crazy-awesome year!

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    The last three weeks have been rough here at the house. The three of us have been recuperating from being sick, officially diagnosed in Forest as RSV and an ear infection. I finally caved and went to the urgent care clinic and was told I had an ear infection and sinus infection. Chris healed easier than all of us and was probably down only about a week whereas I am hanging in here at the longest at three weeks. What’s left is some sinus drainage and a nasty cough. Forest coughs on occassion but we’re giving him a daily Albuterol nebulizer treatment along with liquid amoxicillin. Giving a baby liquid medication is about as difficult as giving it to my cats, maybe just a bit easier. When it is dyed pink it’s even more fun to attempt to keep it from getting on clothes and furniture.

    So, that’s been my reason for delaying these updates, just not feeling up to par and feeling like sitting down to write what’s going on.

    Other than being sick, Forest’s mental development is getting stronger. He absolutely loves playing on his playmat but gets frustrated after awhile when he can’t eat the toys that hang down and he’s getting a little frustrated that he hasn’t figured out how to roll over from back to front. He’s been ‘close’ to doing it for a month now, we keep thinking he’s going to roll over but he never does. He gets close but the arm he’s rolling over just isn’t positioned right so he never gets completely over. On the tummy time front he’s been doing better which I think is attributed to daycare. He’s been able to stay on his tummy for longer periods without getting fussy. His abdominal muscles are also getting stronger and I can help pull him up off of his back with his hands and he will sit up for a few seconds before we roll back down onto his back.

    In a week he’ll be four months old and a week later he has his four month well visit and vaccinations. I’ve decided to try breastfeeding him while he gets his shots this time as I read after the fact last time that it seems to soothe babies during the ordeal. We’ll see.

    Now that we’re getting closer to introducing foods, I’ve been reading about Baby Led Weaning. We’ll be waiting to introduce solids until closer to the six month mark due to the increasing research that the digestive system isn’t developed well enough for solids much earlier than that. I know they say the range is 4-6 months but I’d rather wait until closer to six months, plus Forest isn’t sitting up on his own yet and is still working on his gag relex by sticking his hands in his mouth as far as he can. The ‘weaning’ part is misleading, I’m not actually going to be weaning him, it’s more like baby led ‘feeding’. Chris will be harvesting some carrots from our garden in a month or so and I’d like to try some of those out pureed as well as small pieces that he can feed himself. It will be an interesting adventure introducing food to Forest!

    I’ve been doing some elimination communication with Forest, mostly still catching the pees but if I’m diligent in the mornings I can catch his #2s in the morning. I’m not always diligent.

    Daycare is going alright other than picking up all the germs that are there. Chris and I have a good routine down, he takes Forest in the morning and I pick him up in the evenings. It gives each of us about 30 minutes of quiet time at the house before everyone is there. It is still a pain in the butt to be going out of our way to drop him off and pick him up but it would be like that no matter where we took him.

    Other than that there’s not much else going on. He’s just growing and playing and grabbing everything that he can to shove in his mouth—which means we’re having to watch him a lot closer! I’m having to put my hair back a lot more because my hair is a great item to grab! I’m trying to teach him the parts of a face after I feed him. He’ll grab my hand and I’ll point to his nose and then my nose and do that with all of the facial features and eventually I’ll ask where my cheek or nose is. Sometimes he’ll push our hands in the right direction of whatever part I mention. It’s still early for that recognition but I figure it’s not a bad idea to get started in teaching him things like that.

    Ok, well, I have to just finish this post and get it up or else we’ll be tacking on week 17! I should really be more diligent and write a short blurb weekly so I have it to post easier. We’ll see how I am at that next time around! Oh and someday I will get around to ironing that sheet he gets his photos taken on…

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    Our trip to McKinney Falls State Park was very short as the sun was already low on the horizon that afternoon. We visited both the upper and lower falls but our plans to see the old cypress in the park were thwarted when learning that the bridge on the trail to the cypress was out. Apparently it was a little rough crossing and I doubt a stroller was going to make that trek. So, we made it a short trip and decided we’d have to see the rest of the park another time.

    It has been awhile since I had gotten a Vox Box but I was sent a survey from Influenster back in November to determine if I was going to fit their target audience for the #FrostyVoxBox. After I submitted it several weeks went by and I never heard back from them. I had submitted another survey for a different box several months before that and didn’t get chosen for it so I figured I wasn’t going to get this one either. Then, finally, I got the email saying it was coming in the mail. Overall I’d say this was a pretty good box and I’ve now used the brush, which I really like—so much so that I’m tempted to stop using my other brush unless I’m putting my hair up in a ponytail (it has tighter spaced bristles)—and I’ve also used the eyeliner. It went on smooth but I can’t say I’ll end up buying it in the future as I’m not really a brand specific makeup person, especially since I don’t wear a lot of makeup. Though, as I said in the video about feeling dowdy, I have worn makeup twice in the last few days and it has been fun to put on again. However, I miss rubbing my eyes whenever I want…I always forget I have makeup on and want to rub my eyes. I had to throw out the eye makeup I did have as it was four years old (yeahhhh…I don’t wear makeup much).

    I also did try the Boots #7 face serum this morning and it wasn’t greasy which is a plus in my book, but I still don’t think I’ll be switching from my Alba Sea Moss Moisturizer, though.

    Overall it was a great box, would have loved an actual jar of the face serum to actually use for a longer period of time to see if the claims for wrinkle and age reducing actually stood up to what they claim.

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    On Thanksgiving morning we got up from our hotel in Austin and tried to find something we could take for lunch with us on our day hikes. The only place open was an H-E-B grocery store and we made do with some pre-made sandwiches and random snacks. In hindsight we should have thought it out a little better and brought stuff from home but that’s not what happened. Our goals for the day were to hike at Hamilton Pool and at Reimers Ranch next door with a stop at McKinney Falls State Park on the way home. We ended up ditching Reimers Ranch and only hitting the first and last places.

    We were definitely surprised at the number of people out on the trails at Hamilton Pool for Thanksgiving, but even more interested that it was mostly non-white people out there with a focus on Asian and Indo-Asian folks. I’m not sure if they were tourists and therefore not celebrating Thanksgiving or if they were U.S. citizens but didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving? Either way, I was glad to see a diverse group of people out on the trail, it is definitely something we don’t come across a lot of the time when we’re hiking. It’s usually young, white people and mostly men at that.

    This was the first time I had used the Ergo carrier for a hike instead of just to take Forest to the breastfeeding group or to walk around the house or yard. He was fussy for a few minutes but quickly settled down. We had to take him out early on for a diaper change but after a few minutes of fussing afterwards (with a side comment from a hiker ‘too young to hike!’—No, he’s not!) he settled in and napped the majority of the time we were out there.

    We had lunch down at the little bluff above the Pedernales River. It’s definitely interesting trying to eat something over the head of a baby and hope you don’t drop something on him and wake him up!

    It was a great hike and time exploring this small park. I really would like to hike around Reimers Ranch next time we’re over there, we’ve only ever poked around a few areas on previous trips.

    Our short trip report to McKinney Falls State Park is next!

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    We arrived at the wildflower center in the early afternoon with the light just right, producing glorious color everywhere we turned. The light made the Virginia creepers at the entrance look spectacular in their fall dress. Virginia creeper might be one of my favorite native vines in the fall.

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    Out and about in the gardens there were quite a bit of butterflies flitting about like this sulphur.

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    And this skipper. I tried to identify it but without a photo of the wings open I am not having much luck.

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    This gulf frittilary was a great ‘old’ friend to see.

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    I think this is a common checkered skipper.

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    Light, the light…slanting in from the west, it gave a lot of wonderful photo opportunities. I left my dSLR at home and opted for the point and shoot the entire weekend.

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    It’s been a good foliage year, from the meager amount I was able to see. The color in the Hill Country was just as good as it was over here in SE Texas.

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    Oh man, I meant to write here more this week but we were all three hit hard by whatever upper respiratory infection virus that is going around. Forest has had it longer so he seems to be recuperating better, though he is still snotty. Chris got sick but seemed to have it maybe the mildest out of the three of us, and I—well, I got hammered by it. Forest may have been hammered by it too, but it was hard to tell as he wasn’t always fussy. I thought I was on the mend on Wednesday and went to work after taking Monday and Tuesday off only to wake up on Thursday morning nauseous and with chills. Since Forest seemed better, Chris took him to daycare and I stayed home and slept the morning away. And while I slept I went through some serious sweat and chill spells which required me to take a shower when I got up. The first half of the shower was divine but the second half had me thinking I was going to pass out, complete with little spots floating about. Needless to say I ended up staying home the entire day and took a second long nap in the afternoon. I woke up this morning feeling slightly better, no fever and no nausea, but have been battling stopped up ears all day. I haven’t been this sick in five years when I had bronchitis and was out from work for four days.

    I did want to write something this week so here’s a Forest Friday post with photos we took at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center the day before Thanksgiving. Forest was sleeping through all of these photos but I thought it would be fun to show him later on when he was grown up!

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    How are we already at 3 months old? Y’all???? *sniff, sniff* Forest’s growing up!

    There have been lots of changes in the last two weeks, he’s really shed that newborn baby phase and taken hold into the just-a-baby phase. Every day a new little light flickers in this brain, activating some other process that had previously been quiet but is now actively engaged. Like grasping, that’s taking off a lot! I only use blankets on Forest when he’s napping on the Boppy or in the Mamaroo, places we keep an eye on him but he’s now figured out how to grab the edge of the blanket and pull up on it. So that means watching him like a hawk even more so until he develops this grabbing skill better and knows how to pull it off his face after he pulls it on his face. I’d been working with him on the grasping thing here and there but he’s really taken to it himself in the last week.

    He’s also starting to entertain himself more while on the playmat. This is now giving me the opportunity do some chores and not feel guilty that he’s just lounging in the Mamaroo, instead he’s playing and learning. The Mamaroo is also starting to become less interesting for him and he really only likes to sit in it during the morning when he’s still sleepy or we’ll stick in him in when we need to use the restroom. During mealtimes he’s increasingly wanting to be with us at the table which is unfortunate since the dude can’t sit up yet, therefore a high-chair isn’t quite on the agenda yet. Sometimes I put him in my lap, holding him with one hand and finishing a meal with the other. He likes to be involved! More recently I’ve pulled the playmat up to the table with us during dinner and he’ll hang out there while we eat. He’s starting scooting a bit and managed to move himself down to put his head under the dangling toys which allows him to grasp it better. He tried to lick one of the lower dangling toys the other day! Yeah, he’s becoming mobile!

    The talking/babbling has gotten a lot more frequent now and we have little conversations quite often now. When my niece was little I swore she knew words at a young age and I swear Forest is doing the same thing. I know, he doesn’t actually know the meanings of the words but I truly believe he’s working to mimic the sounds. I’ve started incorporating a few sign language words in with my talking on occasion in an effort to do some signing when he’s older and for him to be able to sign back, before his talking begins. I had gone back and forth about using baby sign language, worried that it would prohibit language development, but from what I’ve read this isn’t the case and can help language development. If anything, I’d like him to know a few important words so when we’re in an in between stage of language later this year he will be able to communicate his needs.

    He’s definitely interested in being engaged with more these days and I feel that our evenings during the week needed to be screentime free (no computer, no iPhone) while he’s awake unless we need to make some separate time for ourselves to get something done or take separate breaks for some personal time. Even prior to having Forest we noticed how much people focused on their phone or device out in public but I’ve been increasingly reading about distracted parenting. Of course I would love time to surf the internet like I used to in the evenings but these early years are vitally important in building his personality and the bond we’ll have with him. As we get into more of a routine as he gets older it’ll be easier to divide up time since he will have a set bed time, but for now I feel it’s more important to devote evenings to him while he’s awake, in my opinion.

    As for his side of technological interest, Forest is definitely aware of the television. Sometimes he gets so distracted during a feeding that I have to turn it off so he can focus on feeding. Sometimes I like it better that way anyway, getting to hang out and talk to him while he’s eating, but then again if I get to talking too much he gets all distracted by that as well. He’s in a phase where everything is interesting at the moment! We have let him watch a few things on You Tube (Baby Einstein) and on Chris’ iPhone in order to get him to switch his focus from hating his car seat during the car ride to Austin over Thanksgiving weekend. He’s definitely into it all and I can see where those early technology addictions start! It’s going to be all about balancing out the right amount and use of screen time as he gets older.

    He also started his first week of daycare during the start of week 13. It was a little worrisome at first, and I’m still not 100% comfortable with it (wish I could afford a nanny or to stay home myself, and I’m already thinking about his learning over the next few years), but he’s adapting well—finally took a two hour nap on Friday whereas the rest of the week they were teeny, tiny nap periods throughout the day. With 8 babies in the room I can imagine it gets loud and crazy in there. His caregivers are nice and have so far been happy to use the cloth diapers. We tried to make it as easy as possible for them so they wouldn’t have any problems with it. I guess one thing that really stunned me was being told, reassuringly, that they checked diapers hourly. Um….what? I guess I didn’t realize that checking hourly was a good thing. For one, cloth or disposable, my kid likes his diaper changed just about immediately unless he’s sleeping. He’s been like that since he was born. He’s started easing up on his fussing about it so I just check him if it’s been 15-30 minutes since I’ve last checked him at home and the majority of the time he’s usually peed. I tried to let them know that he really isn’t fond of a dirty diaper and his main reason for fussing will be for a dirty diaper, and I think they are starting to get that but I know he doesn’t always get his diaper changed more than once an hour. Since this shocked me I went and Googled about it and apparently other daycares do it every two hours (WTH??) and I ran into a lot of forums that had parents saying they let their babies go 2+ hours between changes. Yeah, maybe if they were a toddler and could hold their bladder/bowels better, but letting young one sit in it that long during waking hours? I don’t care how absorbent disposables are, that’s just gross.

    He’s still growing like a weed, I swear he gets longer by the day. I think his hair might be starting to thicken up a bit. Oh, since he started daycare we’re now entering the germy phase of our life. It’s time to start beefing up the immune system! His first day at daycare they sat him in a bouncer seat right when we got there *right* next to a baby who had a cold. By Thursday Forest was sick and by Friday so was I. Yippiee. And to make it worse I have to watch what I take since even some herbal stuff can reduce my milk supply and some OTC isn’t safe for breastfeeding. And forget anything for him, most things aren’t good to give babies until they are at least a year old if not two years old. All I can say is “breastmilk do your thing” and get those antibodies into his system!

    (By the time I’m getting those post up we’re only two days away from 14 weeks and staying home from work and daycare due to this crummy cold. Both of us are feeling like crapola. I’m trying to get those post out before he wakes up…but he’s stirring!!!)

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    As is usual with my longer posts these days, they are always up later than I intended. So, here’s a Thanksgiving post a week late! There’s probably TMI for some of my readers, but that’s life and it’s my blog and I’ve gotta write what I’ve gotta write. Avert your eyes from this post if body part talk makes you squeamish. Also, this isn’t meant to be a judgemental post re: formula v. breastfeeding. It’s just a post about my experiences and some information I wish I’d known beforehand.

    This year has been one eye-opening life changer that’s for sure. Of course I’m thankful for my family and friends and definitely for my crazy little buddy Forest, but honestly I think the biggest thing on this Thanksgiving that I’m grateful for would be for my success with breastfeeding. I know I have expressed here before that prior to my own experiences with breastfeeding I had encountered very few people who had been successful or had gone long-term with breastfeeding. The people I did talk to about it however, (Chris’ mom, a coworker, a couple of people I know in real life) were optimistic with me about it and gave me what advice they could and all I could do was hope for the best when the time came to implement it for real.

    Going into Forest’s birth I was nervous on the outcome of breastfeeding, or the successful beginnings, rather. With the last minute c-section and not seeing Forest for an hour and a half after birth I wondered if he’d latch properly, if the colostrum would be there and he’d take it. When I finally saw him and he latched right away I was thrilled! The night of his birth—or early morning, rather—was so bleary eyed and hazy. I remember watching as one of the night nursery nurses came in to change his diaper while Chris attempted to sleep on the built-in couch in the birth room while I was still recovering from the traumatic events from hours before. I had mentioned to her that we’d successfully nursed and knew that we’d be nursing every 2-3 hours, but it hadn’t been relayed to us at that point in time the necessity of supplementing with formula due to his high birth weight and that he was hypoglycemic. It was mid-morning, many hours after that visit with the night nursery nurse, when the neonatologist told us of the importance of supplementing with some formula, that the colostrum wouldn’t be enough to get his blood sugar up in the immediate days in the hospital. Of course we were immediately freaked out by this and the possible implication of letting his blood sugar remain too low. And then I was immediately worried that my milk wouldn’t come in fast enough and I’d be tethered to formula feeding.

    First, we had to get his blood sugar back to an acceptable level within a certain time period and secondly, the dude was hungry. I always nursed first on both breasts and then give him the formula. As I sat there in the hospital bed, swollen from IV fluids and feeling out of sorts, I worried about when my milk would come in, wondering how long we’d be needing to supplement and if along with failing for my goal of a natural childbirth I’d be failing at breastfeeding, too. The dude was so hungry, chugging that formula down! It really made me doubt my milk producing capabilities at the time.

    We played the breastfeeding/formula game for nearly two weeks despite that we’d gotten his blood sugar up to a happy level before leaving the hospital, mostly because Forest was so hungry and my milk hadn’t really came in by the time I’d been discharged from the hospital. The weekend after we came home from the hospital I began pumping, using an electric pump my sister-in-law, Stephanie, generously gave to me. It was one she’d used for her children. I’d ordered replacement parts before Forest’s birth but hadn’t figured out how to use it. In the hospital Chris had gone home at one point to get the pump in an effort to try to start jump-starting the milk to come in but we didn’t end up using it there. I tried it a few times in the first day or two when we got home and quickly got sores on my nipples. It hurt so bad! I hated pumping! I was in tears, wondering how on Earth I was going to be doing this for months on end…it wasn’t looking good to me.

    I got on the phone to Stephanie to ask for her advice, wondering how much milk she got when she pumped, wondering if the pump flanges hurt her. I was bawling and upset, the situation sucked. At this point I was getting mere drops after a feeding, which was what everyone said to do…pump after you feed the baby and it’ll help the milk come in and you can save the milk for a freezer stash, or so ‘they’ (re: the internet) all said. With the mere drops I was getting I felt like a failure. Not only that, I wondered what Forest was getting. Luckily Stephanie gave me the idea that the flanges were too small, that I should try a different size. Frustrated but hopeful with this new idea, I told Chris the situation. I don’t think at that time he got the seriousness of the pain I was in, how badly it hurt. Through tears I was finally able to get him to understand and he went out to Target at 9pm, rushing to get there before the store closed to get flanges the next size up. The difference was immediate and the sores went away within a few days with a bit of nipple cream for soothing! If I hadn’t have had the help from Stephanie and read online after she’d given me that idea, I’m not sure what I would have done.

    For those first two weeks we made formula for Forest after I breastfed him, giving him a couple of ounces which he downed like he’d never eaten before. Slowly I noticed he seemed more satisfied at night after a feeding and would go to sleep on the breast, and I would hate to wake him up just so Chris could give him formula afterwards. The had become our M.O. Then I began weeding those extra bottle feedings out after that and by his two week appointment the pediatrician said he’d gained all of his birth weight back and was fine to just stick with the breastfeeding since he seemed to be successful at it.

    As for my milk coming in, I don’t think I felt that it was really ‘in’ until a week after he was born. I never really felt a let-down and honestly it has only been since I’ve gone back to work that I feel any sort of let-down-esque sensation. Apparently I’m not the only one as others in the breastfeeding group at the hospital mentioned similar experiences. Heck, all of those breast pads I bought, I’ve never used them as I’ve only had a couple of times that it’s been bad enough for me to need something like that and then it has been during the overnights.

    So from that first two weeks it was then me getting used to Forest’s hunger cues and accepting that I would spend a lot of those first four to six weeks sitting on the couch and nursing. That took a long time for me to accept and I wish I could tell myself back then to just relax and enjoy sitting on the couch with him. I also found out I wasn’t the only person having difficulty accepting the ‘sit down and breastfeed all day’ change, others at the breastfeeding group expressed similar situations. In those first two weeks I could do the every 3 hours feeding but once we really got into the on-demand breastfeeding Forest was all about a 2 hour schedule, a little longer when he took a long nap. You’ll read things about babies supposedly being able to go 3-4 hours, even the pediatrician said that, but that’s not what I found worked best for Forest. He liked every 2 hours, sometimes less if he drank just a little and took a short snooze. Once I started reading more, I found out that breastfeeding by the clock really isn’t ideal for most babies and doing it on-demand worked out much better…as the saying goes, “Watch the baby, not the clock.” That also played into the supposed 10 minutes on each side for a feeding—HAH! Yeah, right. We’re just now getting to that a little bit better with him being more efficient and but now he’s more cognitive and distracted by bright! shiny! things and noises (you’re gonna get a glare if you talk to me while I’m putting him to sleep). Sometimes it would be the better part of 30-45 minutes for a feed and then during spurts or cluster feeds it would be nearly constant with only 30 minute gaps between feeds.

    Then Forest and I worked out the best ways to get comfortable, and when he started his choking ordeals it seemed like we had a whole new hurdle to deal with. Did I have an oversupply? It didn’t seem that way because I wasn’t getting a lot when I pumped after a feeding. I had no idea. I tried new feeding positions which seemed to help but didn’t always. Honestly, going to the breastfeeding support group at the hospital, asking questions and listening to everyone else seemed to help the most. I didn’t feel lost and most of the time everyone else had been wondering the same things I had been wondering—or I wondered about the same things they were asking. It truly helped so much! The lactation consultants had heard just about everything and had an answer for most problems and questions. I’m so glad I went the four or five times I could make it there. In the end it was the lactation consultant who gave me the idea that he might have silent reflux and I went on a dairy free diet in addition to giving him Zantac. The dairy free diet hasn’t been all that bad and in the last week or so we’ve noticed his reflux has gotten a bit better, enough that we don’t feel he needs the medicine at the moment.

    It took almost six weeks before I was getting any kind of stash starting to build where I could freeze it. It’s really about that time that your milk production begins to really stabilize and you had a sufficient production for the coming months. Prior to that, what little bit I pumped I left for Chris to feed Forest a bottle in the evenings so Forest would stay used to bottles when I went back to work. Eventually my supply was built up enough that when I pumped after a feeding I might get an ounce or two total. Slowly I began getting more, particularly in the early morning pumping sessions when milk production is highest. I took advantage of times when Forest only fed on one side and then took a nap, stashing the 2-4 ounces I’d get from the other side.

    Returning to work I faced the hurdle of wonder if Forest would still want to breastfeed during the times I was with him after being gone all day at work. It was a clear answer of ‘yes’ that first day I came home, him clinging to me with a mix of comfort nursing and actual feeding. I’ve come to appreciate nursing him far more now that I’m away, especially now that he’s begun to interact with me—smiling, pulling my shirt or hair, pinching or patting my back from the arm that’s wrapped behind me.

    I’ve also developed a great friendship (ok, it’s more of a grudging friendship) with my pump now that I pump four times a day. My pumping routine is mornings around 7am, a mid-morning pump, then an early afternoon and a late afternoon pump session. When I started I decided to keep a Google document spreadsheet to keep track of my output, to know when I dipped and notice if anything I ate or when I was stressed out, if that affected my supply. That first week I noticed that I did well the first day but it went down after that, which coincided with me finishing off my first batch of lactation cookies I had probably gotten 18-20 ounces during those four sessions and after that it was down to 17 or 18 ounces. When I reintroduced the lactation cookies the following week after making them over the weekend I jumped back into the 20+ ounce range consistently. If Forest nursed during my lunch break (my MIL and mom were caring for him during those initial weeks back to work) then that knocked my production down a bit but it usually evened out because he’d take less from what was stored at home.

    I’ve since tapered off on the lactation cookies though due to the added sugar but I think I’ll make another batch again here soon. However I’ve switched to what I’m calling lactation oatmeal for breakfast. It’s a heaping dose of old-fashioned Quaker Oats, a dash of cocoa powder, a dash of brewer’s yeast, a dash of ground flax seed, a dash of chia seeds, a spoonful of honey, unsweetened almond milk to soak in (a hefty dose), and a spoonful of pecan or peanut butter for protein. I put some granola in it one day to change it up. I let it soak about 20-30 minutes until I get to work and then I microwave it and have a pretty tasty breakfast. I’ve definitely noticed a huge difference in my mid-morning output by doing this, pumping 7-9 ounces at a time. Since during these four pump sessions I’m generally pumping almost a 24 hour period’s worth of milk for a breastfeeding baby (19-30 oz is considered the range) I’m definitely ending up with leftover milk at the end of the week since Forest averages between 14-18 oz during the day, which means my freezer stash is getting built up fast. We’re now trying to start using some of the older stuff since it was frozen in late September and well start cycling through a bag or two here and there.

    Oh, I did find out the dark side to becoming proficient with the pump. During the Thanksgiving holiday we were away for two days. Chris even asked if I wanted to take my pump but I opted not to. Big mistake. Since Forest wasn’t and isn’t eating near what I can produce during the morning hours I was running into engorgement and pain. It was bad enough I made Chris run out to Target before they closed for the holiday and get me a manual pump. Sadly we didn’t have a way to store the pumped milk so I only pumped enough to make myself comfortable again and ended up dumping 8 ounces down the sink over those two days. Keep that in mind when becoming BFFs with your pump if you go back to work after the baby! Sometimes I end up pumping over the weekend mornings if he isn’t feeding frequently in the morning.

    Now that I’ve been thankfully successful with breastfeeding for 3 months I’m definitely on-board with continuing on until a: Forest decides to wean himself or b: nursing to at least 12 months if not 16-18 months. Even if I don’t nurse that long and Forest decides to wean himself, right now I’m open to the idea of pumping in order to provide my own milk for him to drink out of a cup or bottle instead of relying on formula or cows milk (after 1 year). I’d just rather not start the cows milk thing that early if I can avoid it.

    Well, that was a bit long winded!

    The Highlights

    • If you are planning on breastfeeding or have any inclination of doing so, read up about it while pregnant. Find out if your hospital or any local hospital offers a breastfeeding class. Ours did and it really helped and boosted my confidence! Take it with your spouse, too. They will be involved in the process in some form (ie: refilling your water, bringing you snacks, offering you mental support!) and the more everyone knows about any issues that might arise, the better chance you’ll have with being successful!
    • Nurse on demand! Forget trying to put a newborn on a feeding schedule—the more you feed when the baby requests it, the more your body produces milk and the sooner the production will begin to increase and then stabilize! If you skip a feeding because the baby is napping or you decide to give a bottle, do not forget to pump! You still have to continue that stimulation for milk to be produced and if you skip a feeding too often you are just telling your body to produce less milk during that time period.
    • After a few weeks of breastfeeding, you can start pumping after a session to start building a stash if you will be going back to work or plan on being away from your baby for certain periods of time. I didn’t do this every session, but it did help when I did. Don’t expect tons of extra milk after you’ve breastfed, unless you have an oversupply. Half an ounce to two ounces might be all you get, total, from both sides. It’s ok!
    • What you pump does not tell you how much of a supply you have or how much the baby ate! Some women’s bodies aren’t as receptive to pumping, some pumps aren’t as efficient as others. In the end the baby is the one who is proficient at getting the milk out. (see this)
    • Reach out to a lactation consultant or someone from the La Leche League if you have questions, want to know if the baby is latching properly or feel that something is wrong after you get home from the hospital. Several women I met at the breastfeeding group were able to find out their babies had lip or tongue tie which can inhibit breastfeeding. Once those issues resolved they were usually able to continue breastfeeding successfully.
    • It’s hard. It’s frustrating. I wish someone had told me that I should just envelope myself in it those first few weeks so I wouldn’t get frustrated with how much it seemed to tie me down. This is probably part of a societal problem more than a breastfeeding problem, the need to feel we have to get up and ‘do it all’ weeks after having a baby. Just sit on the couch, watch tv, read a book, nurse, and let the baby snooze on you! Once I finally accepted this role it went much better in those later weeks and I still find myself just accepting it during the evenings when Forest wants to nurse and cuddle more. It won’t last forever—they do grow up!
    • Don’t beat yourself up if you have to supplement with formula to get their birth weight back up or if your supply takes longer to come in. Do what you can! I’m sure there are more militant breastfeeders out there who disagree with this statement, but it is really about taking the guilt away and making it as easy for you to be successful at breastfeeding as you can be.
    • Make water your new best friend. Drink it! A lot of it! Staying hydrated keeps your supply up.
    • Night nursing can be unfun, especially when you are exhausted and feeling lonely. We went back and forth for awhile talking about having Chris get up to commiserate with me during those early morning hours, having him give a bottle so I could sleep, but it didn’t really work that way—I would have still had to pump since I would be missing a feeding. So, I just accepted my role as the squinty eyed mom who listened to the sound of dogs barking (and the occassional coyote pack) in the night with a howl of a train in the background while she nursed her son.

    Link and Resources
    All links are just me linking, I’m not part of any affiliate and don’t make money off of links.

    • Kelly Mom: Probably the most cited resource for breastfeeding out there. Also, great information on why you don’t have to pump and dump after having a glass of alcohol. (Shout out to my friend Cindy for even telling me about this!) I went to this site time and time again when I thought I had an oversupply and when dealing with Forest’s choking issues.
    • Womanly Art of Breastfeeding: I’ve actually never finished this book and should probably flip through it again, but it was a great resource in the early days.
    • Breastmilk Storage Guidelines
    • Longest Shortest Time Podcast: This one is about breast pumps and making them not suck! Also touched on in the podcast is the sound of the pump and what it says to us—mine says “Blackhole, blackhole, blackhole” among other things.
    • Breastfeeding laws: Know your rights about time for pumping at work as well as breastfeeding in public!
    • Lactation Cookie Recipes: I’ve made the first recipe twice—they are very tasty! I’ve noticed the bottoms burn just a bit for the length mentioned, so keep an eye on the time.
    • Mother’s Milk tea: I’ve read several people complain about the taste but I like it. I’ve made it as iced tea several times but also enjoy a cup of hot tea, too. I think the fennel is what gets most people on the taste.

    Thanks for wading through this with me. It has really meant a lot to me to have come this far with breastfeeding and am thankful that it has worked out for me. It really hit home when we took Forest to daycare earlier this week and he was one of two babies that are breastfed out of the eight that are there. And if you have a question, feel free to ask. I’m glad to offer my meager, 3-months in wisdom. I can help with what I know, which really isn’t all that much, just what has worked for me. I also want to thank my friend Jessica for patiently reading and responding to my crazy emails in those early days! You saved my sanity on many occassions! And of course I am very thankful for Chris and his support in this endeavor, listening to me cry and become frustrated with all sorts of emotions but always being there anyway and refilling my water glass and bringing me chocolate (dairy free! dark!) too. Oh, and for making 99.9% of the dinners around here now so that I can spend time feeding the little dude. I love you!

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