Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Where We Are: More Talk About Breastfeeding

People have been asking me, "How's breastfeeding going? Is it getting any better?" I answer them honestly. It's not, but I'm okay with it. As silly as it sounds, I had to go through a sort of grieving period. To mourn the loss of the perfect breastfeeding relationship with my daughter that I had dreamed about before she was born. I had planned to nurse Emmy upwards of two or three years, whenever she felt it was time to wean. And maybe we can still, but it won't be exactly as I had planned.

We've been to the lactation consultant once a week for the past two months. We're regulars and the staff know us by name-it's sort of cute. We finally figured out that Emmy has a weak suckle, hence her slow weight-gain and my low supply. We bought a special pacifier to help her learn to suck properly, use an SNS for stimulation and supplement about half of her food with donated breastmilk or formula. I also have to pump between and after as many feedings as I can and take a ton of herbs to try and increase my supply. The process has been exhausting and for awhile I was driving myself crazy with guilt. All day I thought things like: What's wrong with me? I should be able to do this. This formula isn't as good as breast milk. And then one day, I just stopped. I decided that I'm doing the best I can and that's good enough. She still gets my milk, even if she has to have a little extra something here and there. And since I came to that realization, life has been so much easier. I've been able to enjoy time with Emmy more instead of nervously watching the clock and dreading every feeding. And honestly, I think that a happy mama and a great relationship is more beneficial to her in the long run.

So, to sum it up, we're still breastfeeding, in our own little way. And hopefully we can for a long time to come. All I know is that my little one is happy and healthy and so much fun, and that's good enough for me.

Friday, December 7, 2012

What's on my mind...Friday?

So, it seems that babies don't really care about the days of the week. I haven't had much time lately to blog, especially on a specific day, so today I bring you what's on my mind Friday.

Emmy had her first appointment with the pediatrician on Tuesday. She has grown 2.75 inches since she was born, but is still just a few ounces heavier than her birth weight. I know, crazy, right? How did that happen?  Let me start at the beginning.

About a week after Emmy was born, I knew we were having breast feeding issues. Latching was weird, her feeding times were really scattered and she seemed a little lethargic. So, I decided to make an appointment with a lactation consultant. When E.J. was born, she weighed 8 lbs 6 oz. Ten days after she was born, she weighed 7 lbs 1 oz. She had lost way more than normal. The consultant worked with us and was a huge help. She said Emmy wasn't a very enthusiastic eater and that we'd really have to work at it to continue breast feeding. Anyway, from that point until about a week ago, I thought everything was going fine. Until we saw a Nutritionist. She said E.J. was in the 2% for weight. I was devastated. I thought we were doing so well. She had grown out of her newborn sleepers, we had to adjust the straps in her car seat a few times. I mean, I knew she was skinny, but I didn't think she was that skinny. The nutritionist asked me a hundred questions about Emmy's nursing habits with an accusatory tone and I answered them all honestly. Yes, she eats every two hours, yes she has plenty of wet and dirty diapers, no, she doesn't sleep all the time. And the lady just stared at me as if to say "Yeah right".

So I left that office feeling terrible about everything I had been working so hard at. I called my husband and we agreed that we needed to get her in to see the pediatrician. We took her in and he did the whole work-up. Saying everything looked good except her weight. Again, I was asked a million questions. Again, I got the side eye. And he recommended I give Emmy a few ounces of formula after every third or fourth feeding.

I hate the idea of formula. I want to breast feed my baby so desperately. I want to give her the best start in life.  I don't want to seem like I'm having a pity party over here, but I see so many mothers who are complaining because their milk hasn't dried up and they don't want it. I have half a mind to remind them of how lucky they are, and another half to ask them if they could spare a few ounces for my baby. Yeah, I might be going crazy.

So, now I'm spending all of my energy trying to make sure I do everything I can to help the situation. We're going back to the consultant and our midwife has given us some helpful advice.

I'm sure I'm not the only mother who's going through this, but it sure seems like I'm the only one talking about it. Did any of you have any breast feeding issues?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What's on my mind Wednesday

So, I currently have three incomplete posts in my archive. I start one, with every intention of posting it shortly thereafter, and then I stop. What stops me? Insecurity. You may not know this about me, but I'm a very self-conscious person. It's hard for me to really be myself. To let all my thoughts and opinions flow freely as so many people can. I think about every sentence before I say it. I contemplate scenarios before they happen so that I can be prepared and hopefully not look like an idiot. And meeting new people? Oh my god kill me.

You know those people who will give their opinion without even being asked? Well, while they are annoying, I envy them. Often, I find it hard to give my true opinion when asked, let alone when I'm not.

I've always known this about myself, and I've always been this way. In fact, I was sort of raised to be this way. With a parent who has opinions about everything, how could I possibly have formulated or expressed my own? I never really saw it as a problem until I became a mother. I, as a parent of a girl, am responsible for teaching her, and it's no secret that children learn from what you do, not what you say. Teaching her kindness? Piece of cake. Politeness? Way too easy. To give back? Totally. But to be a strong, independent woman? That's trickier for me. I don't ever want her to feel like she's being walked all over, like I have felt in the past. I never want her to feel meek or helpless-it's gotten me into some really sticky situations throughout life. And I'm taking baby steps in my own life. To become stronger and more confident in myself so that when she's older, she can learn from my example.

I fought a lot of opposition-even from my husband, at the beginning-about having a home birth. Almost everyone close to me thought it was a bad idea. Too risky, irresponsible, crazy, they'd say. But I knew that it was the best decision for me and for my baby. I looked at it as the first good decision I could make for my daughter, so I fought for it, and I hope that can be a lesson for Emmy someday.

Anyway, with this blog, I have ran into a lot of anxiety-what is so-and-so going to think of this post? These unprofessional photos? My thoughts?-and it's hindering me. I've considered walking away from blogging a lot lately, but I'm giving it one last-ditch effort. Hence, What's on my mind Wednesday.

I'm going to allow myself one day a week where I sit down and write about whatever is currently on my mind. It's sort of an excuse to be me, without feeling obligated to write about something relevant or witty or emotionally gripping. And I won't apologize for it, nor second guess myself. I won't spend all day thinking about what I wrote and who I might have offended by writing it. And maybe it'll be good for me, not just on my little corner of the internet, but in life in general.

Thanks for hanging with me, you few patrons. I do love you all. Here's to more freedom of self-expression. After all, isn't that what blogs are for?

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Our neighborhood goes a little crazy for Halloween every year. In fact, many people drive from all over town to Trick or Treat here. Cars full of little ghosts and ghouls line the streets, tiny mummies and witches carry their buckets full of candy in one hand and tiny flashlights in the other, eagerly stopping every few steps at someone's door, proudly holding their bucket or bag out as far as their little arms can reach and exclaiming "trick or treeeat!" 

I had a few sentimental moments last night when I thought about last Halloween. We took our nephew to this neighborhood-the place where my husband grew up, the place where his parents and grandmother still live-and I dreamed of owning a home here someday. I had accepted the fact that it would take a long, long time as houses around here don't open up too frequently, but I knew it's what I wanted. To be so close to family and the elementary where a tiny version of my husband walked to school every day. And then this year, as I stood and watched that now four-year-old nephew of mine walk door to door, I looked down at my newborn, sleeping in her stroller and then over at my husband, with his hands in his pockets and a smile on his face, and I felt so grateful to know that my dream had been realized. We live here. With our baby girl. Forever. 

Happy Halloween, eat lots of candy.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Emmy's Birth Story

Our daughter, Emmy June Sparlin was born at home on her due date, October 1, 2012. She weighed 8 pounds 6 ounces and was 20 1/2 inches long. She took her first breath at 9:05 p.m. after a very long and intense labor.

We went to bed at about 12:00 a.m. on October 1 and I couldn't get comfortable so I moved to the couch (this had become a pretty normal occurrence late in my pregnancy.) I awoke at 2:00 a.m. with menstrual-like cramps and an upset stomach. Our midwife, Debbie, had warned me that both of these things were signs of early labor and that I needed to give her a heads up if either happened. I texted Debbie at 2:22 and she told me I should try to rest and to keep her posted. From what I could tell, contractions were about 8 minutes apart and definitely felt different than the Braxton-Hicks contractions I had experienced throughout my pregnancy. I woke Michael up and he asked what I was doing. I replied, "I think I'm going to have a baby today." to which he simply replied, "Huh uh. Really?" He got up and made sure everything was in order then went back to bed around 3:30. At that point I was way too excited to go back to sleep so I laid on the couch and watched television and worked through the contractions. 

Around 6 a.m. I texted Debbie to tell her that the contractions had been about 5 minutes apart for the last hour and I woke Michael up. Debbie arrived at our house around 8:15 and her assistant, Amy, came about 10 minutes later. They were busy setting up their supplies and filling up the pool so I did a few things around the house to keep busy, stopping every few minutes to let a contraction pass but soon moved to the couch because I had a really bad headache.

Debbie checked me at 9:30 and said I was a 7 1/2, 90% effaced and at a +1 station. We were all very surprised and happy at my progress, especially since it had been so easy. I felt so encouraged and hopeful that I would breeze through the rest of labor. Around 10:00 contractions became stronger and Debbie said she thought I might be headed into transition and suggested that I move into the pool for some relief. I took her advice and the water felt so good. For the next hour and a half I was in the pool, getting out every so often to pee. Michael had put on Planet Earth as a distraction and was giving me sips of grape juice to keep my energy level up (I had only had 2 hours of sleep) and Debbie would periodically give me Belladonna for my headache.

I got out of the pool around 12:00 because I wanted to be closer to Michael. I went though a few contractions standing and holding onto Michael and a few on the couch. We laid down around 1:00 and I was able to sleep between contractions for about 20 minutes. Debbie checked me again and I was at an 8 1/2 to 9. My headache seemed to be getting worse so Michael made some coffee and I sipped it with him on the couch. 

We went back to bed around 2:00 and at 2:30 I had a huge contraction and didn't say a word to anyone as I darted back for the warmth of the pool. This is when things really started to pick up. In Debbie's chart notes she writes, "Vocalizing and thirsty." I moved from lying to squatting to hands and knees in that pool but just couldn't get comfortable. At 3:40 I was at a 10 and +2 station. I knew the next step was waiting for the urge to push but I just hadn't felt it yet. The contractions were becoming very intense and I couldn't stand the pool any longer. I moved from room to room. From couch to bed. Hung off Michael's neck and sat on the birth stool. 

At 5:50 Debbie suggested we try "coached pushing". I laid on the couch, Amy and Debbie each held a leg and pushed them back to my head with each contraction as I bared down. Let me tell you, that was the worst thing I think I've ever done. I don't know how women do that in hospitals. They only made me do it for a few contractions before I couldn't take it any longer.

We realized at this point that things were moving very slowly and it was probably because my water hadn't broken. The midwives don't like to rupture the membranes because it can sometimes send baby into distress and all through labor, Emmy's heart rate had been perfect. So we tried several different positions to try to make them rupture. Finally, Amy suggested that I stand up, wrap my arms around Debbie, put one foot on the birth stool and squat and push with the next contraction as Michael held me from behind. After two contractions, my water broke. Debbie was thanking Jesus and Michael was crying but I was in business mode at that point and immediately sat on the birth stool, sitting between Mic's knees with my elbows resting on his thighs and my body began to push all by itself. 

About 5 minutes later, Emmy's head began to crown and I felt the ring of fire, which really felt more like the ring of tearing. I held a warm washcloth on myself as her head descended. My entire body was pushing with all it's power and I remember thinking I wanted to give small pushes so I had time to stretch but it just wasn't happening. The next thing I knew, her head was out. I threw the washcloth and my body continued to push and all at once, her body followed in a warm, wet rush. Debbie immediately yelled out, "Grab your baby!" and I did. She felt so warm and wet and all I could say was "No way, no way, no way!" Michael cried. Emmy gave two tiny coughs and a tiny little cry and just looked up at us. I couldn't believe she was here. And she was mine. Forever.

Quickly after she was born the midwives realized I was bleeding quite a bit from a tear and told me to lie down. We delivered the placenta but left Emmy attached to give her all the nutrients from the cord. Debbie gave me one stitch while I fed my baby but told me I had a pretty severe tear that she didn't feel comfortable stitching and wanted to call in a Senior Nurse Midwife to finish up the stitches. Michael cut the cord (which he had been completely opposed to prior to the birth) and we moved to the warmth and comfort of our bed. It took until about 2 a.m. to get me stitched and Emmy checked over. Of course, she was perfect and we three were in heaven.

So, I got the home birth I wanted. I was in labor for 19 hours and spent three of those hours pushing. The whole neighborhood could hear me "vocalizing" and I was hoarse for two days, but I wouldn't change a thing. If we decide to have another one, we'll definitely have another home birth. The birth was such intimate experience for Michael and I and the support and level of care we received from Amy and Debbie were exceptional. I couldn't imagine doing it any other way. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dear Baby: Welcome, Emmy June

Dear baby,

You were born on Monday, October 1, 2012. You weighed 8 pounds 6 ounces and were 20 1/2 inches long. Giving birth to you was the hardest thing I've ever done and being your Mama is the most rewarding.

Here's what I've learned over the last nine days:

  • Breast-feeding is hard, man
  • Sleeping while you sleep is not only nice, it's essential
  • Business in the front, party in the back never looked so good on anyone
  • Home birth is a must and Midwives are amazing
  • Your father is some kind of baby-burping expert
  • You're perfect, and I've never loved anyone so much

Emmy's birth story will be up in a day or two, It's a doozie.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Eat Your Heart out: Muddy Buddies

Since I quit my job, I have a lot of time on my hands. I can think of a million ways to spend all that time, but none better than making deliciously unhealthy treats. So, today I made Muddy Buddies. Before I found this recipe I had always heard it called "Puppy Chow" which never sat well with me because, well, I don't really like to eat dog food and I don't like to eat food that shares a name with dog food. 

Anyway, this is probably the easiest thing you'll ever make. In fact, the hardest part is probably trying to resist the urge to eat it all before your husband gets home. ;)