Happy World Breastfeeding Week

Whether you breastfed your baby for one day, one month, one year, or longer, good for you!

I wanted to share a little of my story.

I felt a lot of negativity surrounding breastfeeding when I was pregnant. One person told me they had absolutely no interest and didn’t even try. One told me to make sure not to open my breastpump because most people have production issues and can’t produce enough for their babies. My mother-in-law told me a lot of people have issues breastfeeding after I told her I planned on breastfeeding.

I was determined to do it!! My body would produce what my baby needed. My body would give her all she needs. I could do this! I thought breastfeeding was going to be natural and easy. I thought those who complained about pain where doing it wrong, and those who gave up didn’t try hard enough or didn’t want it badly enough. Breastfeeding was the only way I was going to feed my baby. 

Boy was I in for a rude awakening when I had Michaela. 

Michaela was a very healthy baby when she was born. And by healthy, I mean, 9lbs 5oz of chunky cuteness! In the hospital, she lost a lot of weight. I had a csection, which they say delays your milk coming in. I was ready to go home the night before I was supposed to be released. The doctors gave me the okay to go but when the pediatrician checked on Michaela, we were advised to stay because she had lost so much weight. Pediatricians and lactation consultants conflicted stating, “she’s lost too much weight and needs supplementation” and “your body is producing, your baby is okay, all babies lose weight after birth”. What was I to do? I was devastated that my baby wasn’t gaining weight like I had hoped. Even after some good feeds, she was still losing. We ended up supplementing a couple feeds. I was torn up about it. I knew my body would produce but after being advised several times, we thought it best to supplement those few feeds. 

We had latch issues and lots of pain. I was sore and tired and thought how could I possibly do this for a whole year? No judgement towards those who find breastfeeding is not the way they choose to feed their babies because you know what? It’s hard work and it’s a huge time commitment. For the first month or so, I was stuck to the couch for 45 minutes every 2 hours. I couldn’t get anything done besides feed. Finally I realized I was being used as a pacifier more than anything and our feedings got much shorter!

When Michaela was about 3 weeks old, I was sitting next to my husband on the couch feeding her. I had latch pain and the letdown pain was excruciating! Knives. I threw my head back and was telling my husband how painful it was. He knew how determined I was. He suggested we try for one more week and if it didn’t get better, he told me it was okay if we switched to formula. That was just what I needed in the moment. He was supporting me enough to push me one more week because he knew how badly I wanted this, but supported me enough to let me know it wasn’t the end of the world if it didn’t work out. 

About three days later, after a lot of Googling about proper latch and other breastfeeding pain, my pain vertually vanished!! Now eight months later, we are still going strong. I love breastfeeding. My body is providing Michaela exactly what she needs. It’s a tailored meal made just for her. 

Sure, my breastfeeding story has included sore nipples, clogged ducts, letdown pain, engoregment, worry about producing enough, testing food elimination, and reducing my alcohol and caffeine intake, but my story is one I wouldn’t trade. There is such joy seeing the scale go up with each pediatrician visit, knowing the milk I provide is enough for my daughter to grow and thrive. There is so much love and adoration towards my daughter when I hold her to feed her, knowing I provide not only a meal but comfort and love. I love it! 

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

The Phrase “First Time Mom” Doesn’t Begin to Describe it 

I have been slacking on my blog. I think about writing often and have a lot on my mind to write about but I seldom get around to sitting in front of my computer to focus on a topic. 

Life as a mom of a living child is amazing. I am more in love with this tiny human than I thought was possible. Michaela fills my days with happiness! Even though I’m over the moon about Michaela, I often think about Joshua. Perhaps less often than I used to, but I think of him every day. It’s easier to talk about him and I cry much less often than I used to. Sometimes I think about when we lost Joshua; internally I’m sad but the tears can’t find their way out, even when I try really hard to release my emotions. 

Now that I have a little human to take care of, she takes up so much of my day. As many “first time” moms, I obsess over whether Michaela is breathing – especially when she’s sleeping. But being a mom who has had a baby who died, I’m almost compulsive about it. Michaela actually slept in my arms until my husband and I were ready to go to bed until she was 3 months old. She slept in a crib next to my side of the bed until she was 5 months old so I could peek in her crib whenever I woke at night. She’s now in her crib in her own room but I still check on her multiple times before we go to bed and check the monitor when I wake up in the middle of the night. One night I came to bed after checking on her and asked my husband, “do you think I’ll be checking in her when she’s 5?”  He laughed, “of course you will!”  He laughs at me but he’s the same! 

I will also reach my hand back when she’s asleep in the car to feel if she’s breathing. Or I stop and watch her tummy go up and down when she sleeping in her stroller or car seat. I’m always checking on her. I believe it’s because when Joshua was born, although he wasn’t breathing, he looked alive. To me, there wasn’t anything about him that looked dead. So when I look at how peaceful Michaela is when she’s sleeping, sometimes I see her and think of how peaceful Joshua looked. 

My husband and I call each other the Safety Police. We know we are overprotective when it comes to certain things. Perhaps we would have been the same way with Joshua, perhaps not. What we went through with Joshua shaped how we are parenting today. We know not everyone will agree with our rules or reasoning behind things; we are okay with that. She’s our daughter and we should be able to parent her the way we wish. 

Soon after we had Michaela, I would often feel trapped by my fears. I was afraid something I would do would harm her in some way. What if I don’t wash my hands and she gets sick. What if I let her suck on a hand-me-down toy that’s made with BPA plastic and she gets cancer? What if I do this and she gets that? Statements like that still go through my head on occassion. 

Let’s see, what are some things I’m the Safety Police on?!? I wash my hands a million times a day that I started making our own foaming soap! I triple check the car seat straps to make sure they are tight enough. I pull up on the car seat when I set it in the base to make sure it’s locked in place. I make sure she sleeps in light clothes, on her back, with a fan and a pacifier to reduce SIDS. I make her organic food myself and freeze it in glass containers. I limit my caffeine and alcohol intake because I’m breastfeeding and don’t want those in her milk. I don’t let certain people hold her while walking because I’m afraid they’ll drop her. She’s been babysat precisely 3 times in her almost 8 months.  

The list could go on.

Some of these things will seem normal to one person and strange to another. 

What are some idiosyncrasies other loss moms have? 

A Letter to my Daughter on our First Mother’s Day Together

Dear Michaela,

Today is Mother’s Day. Today is a day I’ve been dreaming of for years. I always say I was born to be a mother and today I feel most myself with you in my arms. It started four years ago when I was trying to convince Daddy to have a baby. Three years ago, no baby yet. Two years ago, I was pregnant with your brother. And one year ago, I was pregnant with you. Today, you’re here with us and I couldn’t be happier!

Just over a year ago we found out we’d be expecting you. I was excited and nervous. I was excited to be your mom and have you in our lives but I was nervous your life could be cut short like your brother’s was. December 1, 2014 was the big reveal. In one moment, you entered our world and changed my life. 

You are my light. You brighten my day. You fill my heart with more love than I could have possibly imagined. You make me incredibly happy. 

I love you more than you will ever know and my love will only grow for you with each passing day. I love your smile and your cries. I love your eyes and those long eyelashes. I love your cheeks and your rosebud lips. I love your hands and feet. I love how you rub your eyes when you’re tired and nestle your head on my shoulder. I love how I can make you laugh and soothe your cries. I love watching you grow and discover new things. I love everything about you! 

You are growing too fast. Each day brings new discoveries and new adventures. You seem to be learning new things every day, most recently how to sit on your own. I text Dad when he is at work about your new discoveries and call him to brag about how smart you are, how cute you are, or simply to gush about how much I love you. 

There are so many moms who want a day off on Mother’s Day. They want to sleep in, get a pedicure or massage, go shopping, and take a break from being a mom. Today, especially today, all I want is to be your mom. I want to wake up when you need me at night. I want to be there when you coo in the morning and get you out of your crib. I want to be with you all day for whatever you need your mom for. And I want to feed you and rock you to sleep, basking in your beauty. 

You and Joshua are the reason I am a mom. So on a day that is celebrating mothers, I am celebrating you. I am honored to be your mother. I couldn’t have asked for a better daughter. You are simply amazing. 

I love you, Michaela!!!

MOM

1.5

Today is April 26th. That means it’s been a year and a half since I held my firstborn, Joshua. 

A year and a half.

How has time slipped away from me? We’ve done so much since we last saw him. We went to Alaska, Vancouver, Chicago, and Arizona (4 times). We did multiple house projects. We attended 8 weddings. We’ve cried, laughed, and lived. We had a baby, and she’s almost 5 months already. Seriously, where did time go?

I long for Joshua. I wish he was here. I wish I could see him walking and calling out for “mama”. I wish I could see him interact with his little sister. As Michaela grows and does new things, I wonder if Joshua would have done the same. 

I wish he was on vacation with us. A couple days ago, I had Michaela on the hotel bed and started thinking of Joshua. “I bet he’d be jumping on the bed right now,” I said to my husband. He laughed and agreed. I know Joshua would have had a full spirit and been just as rambunctious as his dad was when he was little. 

When I was in the early days after losing Joshua, I wanted so desperately get back to my “normal” life. I wanted to feel me again. It didn’t take me long to realize that was never going to happen. The me now is different than  the me before. 

I wonder if it’ll ever get easier. Is that even the right word? How can the pain of losing a child get any easier? Sometimes I still feel alone in my grief. Sometimes it even feels like my husband didn’t go through the same thing as I did. Sometimes I sit, thinking of sweet Joshua, and cry. I miss him. I miss what would have been. 

I have to be honest, I’m not the person people say never asked, “why me?” I do. I ask why me often. It’s not fair he died. It never will be. I want to know why. For what reason did my son die? Was it to give me strength? Was it to deepen my faith? Become closer to my husband? Bless me with Michaela? Make me see life in a new light? All of these things have happened since we lost Joshua. But I still would like answers. 

But today, I don’t have any of those answers. I have a deeper appreciation for life and love. I cherish my family and know my little girl is the most important thing in the world. And I have a son watching over her who taught me more than I could express. Mama loves you Joshua!

It’s Still So Fresh

When Joshua passed, I couldn’t function. I could hardly talk about anything without crying. Slowly I was able to go a day, two, maybe longer without shedding a tear. I coached myself on what I could say to people and practiced it until I could say it without tears. “We had a baby and he passed away at birth.”

While I was pregnant with Michaela, I was a mix of emotions, thanks to hormones. Some were good days, some were bad. My self-coaching was able to get me through the “is this your first?” questions and be able to answer them honestly without tears. 

Now that Michaela is here, sometimes I’m a bag of tears. Of course in the first few weeks after she was born, the roller coaster of emotions had me crying most days. I’d look at her and bawl. Cry because she was so beautiful and I was so in love. Cry because I missed Joshua and it wasn’t fair that I missed out on things. 

These days when people ask if it’s my first, I never give the same answer. It depends who asks. Sometimes I tell them about Joshua and sometime I don’t. Frankly, sometimes it’s just easier to say “yes, she’s my first”. 

In many ways she is my first. She wasn’t my first pregnancy or firstborn. But she’s my first daughter and my first experience with a living child. I’ve experienced all my firsts with her outside my womb. And in that respect, she is my first. 

I didn’t always think that way. After Joshua was born and when I was pregnant the second time, I was adamant that everyone knew of his existence. He was real and everyone was going to know about it. When I heard of other loss moms not including their baby in “their count”, I was appald. These days, I feel differently. Joshua is still real to me, but I don’t always want to go into details. Nor am I good at handling people’s responses. Will I need to explain more, will I have to listen to a story about someone else’s baby who almost died, will they change the subject?

These days, when I choose to share my story, I typically cry. Experiencing the birth of a living child makes it harder for me to relive the reality that there was a different outcome the first time around. Babies are magical and remembering that I didn’t get to experience all these moments with Joshua brings me to tears. I miss him everyday. 

People have described that grief comes in waves. It ebbs and flows. I’m positive I will once again be able to tell my story without crying. If not though, that’s okay! My tears are present only because of the immense love I have for someone who is not. 

“Maybe You Should See Someone”

Today I met an old friend for lunch. It was so great to catch up and see her. We hadn’t seen each other since Michaela was born. 

We chatted about kids (she has two) and the crazy newborn stage. We chatted about life in general and were having a great time. 

I admitted to her that I’ve only been away from my near three month old once. Her response shocked me! “If you’re feeling like you don’t want to leave her, maybe you should see someone about it.” Excuse me?! I’m still in the honeymoon phase. I have no desire to leave her. The fact is, I like hanging out with my daughter. 

While we were having the conversation, the comment didn’t bother me too much. I know her heart was in a good place. But once I left lunch, I was thinking back at the conversation and the comment made me sad. 

I come from a unique situation. I’m not just a “new mom”. I’m a mom who previously lost a baby. One, I’m not at the point where I want to leave her. I love hanging out with this little girl. Two, I’m not to a point yet where I trust anyone enough to leave her with (except my husband, of course, who watched her the that one time I was away). Three, if something happened to her, especially while away from my care, my life would crumble. Think all you want that “nothing will happen, don’t be so dramatic.” But sadly I live a life knowing that something could happen at any moment. It already happened to me. 

Later in the conversation I think she realized what she had said and started backpeddling. She said, “well, you know, if in a few months you’re still feeling like you don’t want to leave her, maybe then it’s time to talk to someone about it. She needs to get used to being taken care of by others.” Please, don’t go any further.

Some may think I’m being overprotective. Some may think I’m crazy. Some may think I’m just acting like a normal first time mom. Frankly, I don’t care what others think. Until you are in my shoes, don’t judge me!

Blog Birthday!

One year ago I started this blog! One whole year. Wow, time flies. And how different my life is from a year ago! I write this as I lay on my couch with my baby on my belly sleeping (the best way for her to get in a long nap).

One year ago, I dreamt of starting a blog to get my feelings and emotions out. At that time in my life, it was hard to constantly discuss my grief with people who didn’t understand. And I felt I couldn’t constantly cry on my husband’s shoulder. He’s always been my rock but I felt I could talk about my grief all day and didn’t want that to drain our relationship. Through blogging, I quickly found a great group of other loss moms who knew exactly how I felt. At the time I started this blog, I didn’t know I would find those amazing women and didn’t realize how their stories would greatly impact my journey back to normalcy.

One year ago, I wasn’t yet pregnant again. I was still deep in grief and wondering if I would ever get pregnant again and have a living baby.

One year ago, I didn’t know that my blog would touch so many other lives. I’m amazed when I look today and see over 3500 views! I hope that my thoughts and emotions have been able to impact others in the ways that other blogs have touched my life. 3500 views may be piddly to other bloggers but I am in shock! I expected maybe a handful of people to read this.

Today, I’m a new person. I’m a mom to a living child who fills a huge void that was left in my heart when Joshua died. It will never be completely filled because Joshua still holds, and will always hold, a large chunk of my heart. My family, my friends, my blog, even strangers have helped me grieve and move forward into a much happier place than where I was a year ago.

Still, today I woke up thinking about Joshua and missing him no less than I did a year ago. I cried this morning thinking of him and how unfair it is that he’s not with me. How unfair it will always feel and how I will always miss him. That part never gets easier. I’ll always long for the baby boy I didn’t get to hold long enough and watch grow up.

I’ve spent some time re-reading my blog and seeing how far I’ve come. It brings back some painful memories but memories I wouldn’t want to let go of for they are part of my story. They are part of what makes me who I am.

I’m wondering what another year will bring. I can only hope to grow just as much as I did in this past year!

I’m Exactly Who I’ve Wanted to be

It hit me today as I was walking around the mall, I am the person who I have envied all these years. All the years I was waiting for my husband to be “ready” to have a baby, the year it took us to get pregnant the first time, the 9 months we waited for him, then trying again and our pregnancy with Michaela. I’m now the mom in the mall so in love with this new little being, pushing her baby with pride, and loving life! I am a mom (to a living child, I must add)!

Now, that’s not to say everything is all roses and butterflies. Not every moment of every day is amazing. Being a parent is hard work!

Why didn’t anyone tell me how time consuming it is?!? I mean, I knew babies are helpless and rely on you for everything, but I didn’t realize that meant every single second of the day. Sometimes she won’t let me put her down. Or even the simple act of changing a diaper can turn into a 20 minute task once she pees on you, then once you’ve cleaned that up, she decides it’s time to poop, and once that’s clean, she spits up on the outfit you just put her in. I’m not kidding, this happens 5 of the 7 days of the week…if not more. But I love it and it makes me laugh!

I am a mom!! Yes, I believe I became a mom when I got pregnant with Joshua. I’m not just a mom because I have a living child now, I was a mom before this.

I knew I wanted to be a mom from the time I was little. I always said that I was born to be a mom and I still truly believe that. My path to motherhood wasn’t smooth, as I imagine my journey as a mom won’t always be smooth. There will be ebbs and flows. But Michaela is my pride and joy. She’s what makes my heart tick. I never knew how amazing it could be.

I may not be what you see on TV or what people may expect me to be as a new mom but the beauty is that I don’t care. I don’t care that my house has never been messier. I don’t care about my belly and when it’ll shrink or even if it’ll shrink down to its normal size. I don’t care if I’m going the speed limit and the car behind me is annoyed about it. I don’t care that I sit in spit up clothes all day long and my pjs are soaked in milk when I wake up at night to feed her. I don’t care that I’m tired and most times can’t nap when she naps because I’m too enthralled by her beauty. It no longer matters to me that I’m late to things because it took me 30 minutes longer to leave the house than usual.

Today in my New Mom’s Class, the leader asked, “what do you need to do to be you or decompress?” She wanted a response like, “10 minutes alone each day” or “an evening out with friends”. And when I thought about it, it was what I do each day. Be a mom. Take care of my baby. That’s what makes me the happiest. That’s who I am! I am finally the person who I’ve worked incredibly hard to be these last three years.

10 Days Away

Oh my goodness, we are just 10 days away from meeting our daughter. I’m so excited and anxious and nervous. It’s a surreal feeling to think we’ll be looking at our baby within 10 days (or earlier perhaps).

My husband had to go out of town for work this week and enlisted my mom to babysit me while he was away. Actually, it was doctor’s orders. She loved it! She slept over at our house and we watched Hallmark movies at night. It was fun. I was counting the hours until he was home though. I didn’t want our baby to arrive while he was a 3.5 hour plane ride away.

Now that he’s home, she can come anytime! I feel like my body is ready for this baby to come. Clearly my body doesn’t realize I’m having a c section. I have Braxton Hicks contractions all the time. My pelvis hurts and my back is starting to get crampy.

Back to this surreal feeling….It’s so hard to imagine that she’ll be here within 10 days. My life is going to change so drastically. There are so many things I remember changing when Joshua was born that I’m looking forward to again, mainly that instant love and joy I felt seeing him and being able to hold his beautiful body. But there are also so many new things I’m going to experience that we didn’t get to with Joshua. Bathing, breastfeeding, interacting with her, and enjoying all those things that come with having a new baby. I’m so ready for those things, but it’s still hard for me to imagine those things will actually be happening since they didn’t happen last time.

I have no doubts that everything will go well. I pray about it every day. I believe we will be bringing home a beautiful baby, yet I almost can’t picture it. I think it’s something that’s hard to explain to those who haven’t been through something similar. My mind doesn’t wander to those places anymore. I’ve read so many places that a loss takes away the nativity of pregnancy and I fully believe that. I’ve experienced that. My mind doesn’t allow me to daydream about a baby like it did when I was pregnant with Joshua.

I digress! I’ve been slow at blog posts lately and just wanted everyone to know that things are going well. She’s kicking and rolling all the time (something I will miss when she’s out). I’m so excited to meet her! 10 days and counting!

“Are You Nervous”

Oh man, I despise the question “are you nervous”. It’s well-founded, but you know what this questions does to me…it makes me nervous! I go about my time impatiently waiting and anxiously anticipating the arrival of our daughter when I get the question (twice this week).

It makes me think that I have something to be nervous about. Do I have something to be nervous about? Why haven’t I been nervous the last couple weeks? Yep, now I’m nervous! Thanks!

I’m trying to rely on my faith and my constant prayers that she will be born screaming. The silence of last time was deafening. I’m trying to rely on the fact that my excitement has outweighed my fear. The fear comes in waves. I’m trying to rely on the fact that this probably, most likely won’t happen twice. Although, scarcely it does.

When I’m not getting these silly questions, I am excited! We are one month and two days away from meeting our little pumpkin. I know she will be born alive. I’m positive of it. I’ve researched c-sections, asked my doctor a million questions, and watched videos (yes, I watched multiple). I talk to our baby every day and let her know that Mama would appreciate it if she cries the moment she comes out and continues to cry until her daddy holds her.

One month, two days. Did I mention that?! It’s so close yet so far away. I want December 1st to be today so I can meet my little girl. Alive, healthy, and screaming!