When There Is No Glow- Nymphai and Nurturing Our Own Healing

by Jessica Martin-Weber
I have a tattoo on my upper right arm that starts at a three pointed scar on my inner arm and wraps up and around my shoulder. A twisty, viney type of tree with swirls, knots, and sharp looking points. The tree looks like it has grown around many obstacles and against the wind. It isn’t a tall, straight tree, it is a tree with gnarls and curves, marked by it’s struggle to survive. A beautiful tree that springs from a scar in the soil. Flapping their wings, 6 birds that may have just been resting on the curved and hunched branches of this tree are taking flight. Delicate but obviously powerful, these birds are majestic and strong. I dreamed of this tattoo for years, shared the vision with my tattoo artist Colin Kolker, sketched many variations with my husband Jeremy, and eventually Colin captured the essence in the design that is permanently etched into my arm. This tattoo means so much to me it is now woven into Tekhni fabric to carry babies. Find your opportunity to enter in a Tekhni giveaway at the end of this article!
This is why.
When pregnancy isn't glowing

Photo Credit: Meghann Buswell, Your Street Photography.

“You look terrible!”  There was concern in her voice, not malice. I did look terrible, frightening even. I could have been auditioning to be an extra in Schindler’s List. I knew I looked bad. Not wanting to explain much, I tell her I’m ok, I’m just pregnant. She looks horrified and whispers “I thought pregnant women glowed.”

No, nope, nu-uh. Ok, well, some pregnant women glow. Maybe even most. I don’t glow. Unless you count the green tinged pallor I sport in pregnancy a glow.

In my head pregnancy is going to be this serene existence of light, one with the earth, I’ll feel like a goddess, my body humming with the growing life within and a sense of wisdom and peace filling me. It radiates from me as I float along my every day life where everything suddenly has more meaning. I had expectations.

Unfortunately, that isn’t what happens.

Instead of floating, I crash to the ground in a heap of extra saliva and a stomach that rejects all food and liquid all day, every day. This causes my skin to lose elasticity, my body fat to burn off quickly, my kidneys to release toxins, my eyes to sink deeper into my skull, the tiny blood vessels in my face and neck to burst, my complexion to take on a green yellow hue, my head to spin when I shift my weight, my other organs to work harder as they dehydrate, and my veins to go into hiding so that every IV attempt results in bruises the size of plums up and down my arms. I don’t even know how to tell youHyperemesis Gravidarum.

Decidedly not glowing.

Every pregnancy I hoped the results would be different. There were plans, you see. Plans for how I would eat, how I would prepare for my coming baby. Plans for a level of physical activity and creativity bursts. Plans for how my baby and I would grow together, healthy and strong. Plans for how my friends and family would share in my pregnancy, how we would celebrate and enjoy the journey. Plans for how everything would go the way it was supposed to go. Plans that never came to be.

Because no glowing.

I hate being pregnant.

Cue a new glow, those fuming at me for not fulfilling my role of goddess mother because I dare to admit I don’t love pregnancy. Even Kim Kardashian, who people love to hate and hate to love, can’t state that pregnancy isn’t an experience she enjoys without encountering more vitriol than normal.

 

Pregnant mothers are supposed to glow and love pregnancy.

You can fail being a mother before your kid is even outside of your body.

All because you didn’t. feel. the. glow.

When pregnancy isn't glowing

Photo Credit: Meghann Buswell, Your Street Photography.

We have a romanticized version of all aspects of motherhood upheld in our society. A version that is always glowing, radiating from some isolated pedestal of unattainable idealism. While sometimes we may feel like a goddess in our mothering, for many of us those luminescent images require metaphorical if not literal special lighting, makeup, shape wear, and most elusive of all, a nap. In other words, the river goddess nursing her baby in the stream may be beautiful and remind of us some inner peace we’ve made contact with a time or two but for many of us it is heavily staged.

Most of my moments in parenting haven’t been glowing. Some of them I was barely surviving.

When pregnancy isn't glowing

Photo Credit: Meghann Buswell, Your Street Photography.

It can be crushing to realize that your experience with conception, pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding aren’t a breathtaking image of serenity, that your reality isn’t naturally incandescent. When all you want is to glow, to radiate, to enjoy the path that gets you to your baby but what you get is near destruction, it can be hard to separate the journey from your own personhood. Sometimes it can be hard to separate the journey from the gift. There were times when my baby felt like my enemy, my torturer, my reminder of my failure. Those times were dark and twisted. But they were nothing compared to the times when I felt my baby suffered because I just. couldn’t. glow. The agony that my babies paid the price was by far the most painful to endure.

  • Infertility.
  • Pregnancy loss.
  • Pregnancy complications.
  • Birth trauma.
  • Relationship problems.
  • Financial stress.
  • Disrupted bonding.
  • Feeding difficulties.
  • Postpartum depression.

Whatever it is, the grief is real, the suffering is profound. And the shaping is valuable.

Even if you aren’t glowing.

Specially if you aren’t glowing.

Poopins front wrap Tekhni Nymphai

Photo Credit: Meghann Buswell, Your Street Photography.

When there is no glow, particularly when there is no glow when pure radiance is what is expected, how do you go about being honest with yourself and others? And how do you start to heal while accepting what it is?

Here’s what has helped me.

Journal. Write it all down. The reality, the struggle, the loneliness, the fear that the fact that you feel this way or have experienced these things means you’re not enough. All of it, write it down.

Cry. Yep, cry. You’re going to anyway. Give yourself permission and cry. And don’t dismiss it as hormones or being a woman or overreacting or whatever. Cry because you’re human and humans cry when something hurts. It is not weakness to cry, it is a strength to stop pretending.

Art. Whether you enjoy expressing yourself through art or not, drawing, coloring, painting, sculpting, dancing, playing music, you name it, artistic expression can be incredibly cathartic because sometimes words alone just art enough to full get those feelings out. And taking in someone else’s artistic expression can be just as powerful.

Talk. You may be afraid that people may not like hearing your journey because it isn’t warm and fuzzy but more often than not sharing your story will actually help someone processing their own glowless experience. That sharing can help you and them. Be it in person or online, opening up about our struggles builds community that values authenticity and that can actually help save lives.

Commemorate. An event, big or small, to honor the journey (but please don’t do a balloon release, it’s littering and hard on animal friends); a special purchase that holds a lot of meaning for you; a ritualistic occasion that connects deeply with you; a meaningful plant/tree/shrub planted in your yard as a hopeful yet gentle reminder; compile mementos in a book; create something unique that captures the profound nature of your journey.

The tree on my arm represents me, the birds my daughters. My tattoo turned Tekhni woven wrap, named for the nymphs of Greek mythology who nurture nature, has helped me glow. From reclaiming my body to having a beautiful woven wrap that represents so much healing, hope, and promise in nurturing that surrounds other moms and their precious children, I have found a glow I can’t contain. May we all glow with honesty and hope.

When pregnancy isn't glowing

Photo Credit: Meghann Buswell, Your Street Photography.

________________

Thank you for reading my story, I would love to hear yours as well. Comment here sharing your glowing or not-so-glowing experience with parenting, how you’ve found healing, and how you commemorate that experience.

If you’d like to share your story with a larger audience, submit your story with photos, your bio, and the subject #MyStoryMatters to content @ theleakyboob.com (no spaces).

________________

Jessica Martin-WeberDrawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com,co-creator of BeyondMoi.com, and co-creator of OurStableTable.com, supporter of A Girl With A View, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. She co-parents her 6 daughters with her husband of 19 years and is currently writing her first creative non-fiction book and a children’s book.

 

Enter for your chance to win a ring sling with a pattern based on my tattoo. This beautiful Tekhni Wovens ring sling in Clover is yours for the winning! Enter below:

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2016 Infant Feeding Guide with Product Reviews + Giveaway

by The Leaky Boob Community

The CDC says that the number one reason for women who intend to breastfeed but don’t end up reaching their breastfeeding goals is lack of support. Support goes a long way in making a difference in our feeding journeys. From familial, social, medical, and employment structures, there are many ways we can find and experience support. With story sharing, information sharing, and resource sharing, The Leaky Boob is dedicated to making support for the infant feeding journey easier to find. It may be breastfeeding that brings us all together but through support and finding community we stick around for the connection and rally behind the boob, bottle, formula, and solids. Our infant feeding guide pulls together information, resources, product reviews, and tips from our community to offer that support we’re committed to.

Not much is really needed for feeding a baby in those early days, provided everything goes smoothly. But since it doesn’t always go smoothly, sometimes we need some products to support the journey. Plus, even when it does go smoothly, there are some things that help make it easier and more fun.

After flipping through our guide, be sure to enter to win every product featured in our guide this year!

And we’re giving it ALL away! Every single item included in our 31 page guide is being given away. Divided into 2 separate bundles, we’re excited to be able to give 2 different Leakies each one of these bundles from our guide. Use the widget below to enter and tell us which bundle you’d want to win in the comments.
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Good luck and a huge thanks to all the brands that wanted to make this possible!

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Pregnancy Sonograms: What You Will Learn- Part 2

by Elizabeth MacDonald
This post made possible by the generous support of My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear
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This article originally published on mybabysheartbeatbear.com on November 10, 2015.

 

In the article “Pregnancy Sonograms and What You Will Learn, Part 1” we talked about the different kinds of ultrasounds and their purpose, ending with more detail about the general anatomy scan common around 20 weeks of pregnancy. In this article, we’re taking a deeper look at the types of scans done prenatally and the reasons why your healthcare provider may recommend them as a diagnostic tool. These scans can provide valuable information on the health of your baby when necessary.

MBHBB- Preg. sonograms, June 2016

Your doctor or midwife may recommend one or more of the following sonograms throughout your pregnancy, for various reasons. You may not know when you conceived or may have suffered previous miscarriages. You may be over the age of 35 and your doctor requires extra screening. There may be genetic reasons for extra scans, or a low lying placenta that could threaten a vaginal delivery. Your little fetus may stubbornly decide to lay transverse and a late sonogram is needed to see position. There are numerous reasons to receive sonograms other than the 20 week anatomy scan.

  • Dating Scan: A dating scan is an ultrasound examination which is performed in order to establish the gestational age of the pregnancy. If you or your doctor/midwife is unsure of the date of your last menstrual cycle, if you have had an bleeding, are unsure of when you conceived or your estimated due date, you will receive a dating sonogram. This ultrasound will show you exactly how far along you are, and can see the start of a pregnancy as early as 4 weeks and 3 days along (but some pregnancy cannot be seen until 5 weeks). You will see the beginnings of a gestational sac, but no heartbeat or further fetal development yet at this stage. An embryo and fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as 6 weeks and 3 days, but may not be picked up until further along. You will also know the location of your pregnancy. If there is a chance that it is ectopic, you will find out now. At this stage of pregnancy, the dating scan will be done transvaginally, meaning the ultrasound wand will be inserted into the vagina to see the pregnancy. A dating scan can determine the number of gestational sacs present (which may decrease by the end of the 1st trimester, if there is more than one). Your cervix, uterus position, and ovaries will also be seen, and you will learn if there is any visible clotting or fibroids. A sonogram done before 9 weeks will be the most accurate to use for dating the pregnancy.
  • Breakdown of what can be seen:
    • At 5 ½ weeks gestation tiny sac can be seen in the uterus, but the baby and its heart beat may not be detected yet. 5 ½ weeks gestation means 5 ½ weeks from the first day of the last menstrual period, which is usually about 3 ½ weeks from the date of conception (confusing, isn’t it!).
    • By 6 to 7 weeks gestation the fetus is clearly seen on trans-vaginal ultrasound and the heart beat can be seen at this early stage (90 to 110 beats per minute under 6 to 7 weeks, then 110 to 200 beats per minute as the baby matures).
    • By 8 weeks gestationthe baby and its heart beat can be detected relatively easily with trans-abdominal and trans-vaginal examination.
    • This is presuming that the pregnancy is actually at this stage of development.
    • Sometimes a trans-vaginal examination shows that your pregnancy is less advanced than expected.
  • 1st Trimester Scan (Also known as a NT Scan): Having a transabdominal sonogram between 12-13 weeks is performed to confirm your baby’s heartbeat and conclude first trimester screening for chromosomal abnormalities. The screening is optional for one or all of the following: Down’s syndrome, Edward’s syndrome, and Patau’s syndrome. Down’s syndrome is also called Trisomy 21 or T21. Edwards’ syndrome is also called Trisomy 18 or T18, and Patau’s syndrome is also called Trisomy 13 or T13. The screening test offered at 11-14 weeks is called the combined test. It involves a blood test and an ultrasound scan. If a screening test shows that you have a higher risk of having a baby with Down’s, Edwards’ or Patau’s syndromes, you will be offered diagnostic tests to find out for certain if your baby has the condition. In addition to screening for these abnormalities, a portion of the test (known as the nuchal translucency) can assist in identifying other significant fetal abnormalities, such as cardiac disorders. The screening test does not detect neural tube defects. The combined accuracy rate for the screen to detect the chromosomal abnormalities mentioned above is approximately 85% with a false positive rate of 5%. A positive test means you have a 1/100 to 1/300 chance of experiencing one of the abnormalities.
  • Level II ScanWhile technically the anatomy scan is a Level II scan, there are other reasons to come in for a Level II sonogram. During your anatomy sonogram, you will learn if another Level II scan is needed. Level II scans are reserved for higher-risk mothers, but may be used to rule you out of the high-risk category. Common indications for a Level 2 ultrasound include family history of birth defects, maternal medical problems associated with birth defects (poorly controlled diabetes, for example), exposure to medications associated with birth defects, a maternal age of 35 or older, abnormal serum screening results, and birth defects suspected on a Level 1 ultrasound. While there is no ultrasound that can detect 100 percent of serious birth defects, most birth defects that are undetected with a Level 2 ultrasound usually are clinically less significant (such as a small hole in the heart which commonly closes on its own after birth or an isolated cleft palate with intact upper lip which can be fixed surgically after birth without any long-term complications). A survey of your baby’s internal organs will be conducted, as well as:
    • The umbilical cord
    • Amniotic fluid
    • Location of the placenta
    • Fetal heart rate

The total score will help decide the overall health and well-being of your baby and help your doctor or midwife determine if your baby should be delivered sooner than planned.

  • Bpp Scan (Biophysical Profile)This sonogram combines an ultrasound evaluation with a non-stress test (NST) and is intended to determine fetal health during the third trimester. This test is performed if there is a question about fetal health and well-being resulting from either an earlier examination, maternal/fetal symptoms, or if the pregnancy is considered high risk. There are two parts to the BPP, a Non-stress Test (NST) and an ultrasound evaluation. The NST involves attaching one belt to the mother’s abdomen to measure fetal heart rate, and another belt to measure contractions. Movement, heart rate and “reactivity” of heart rate to movement are measured for 20-30 minutes. The ultrasound portion may take up to an hour, and the technician will watch for a variety of signs that are important in measuring the health of your baby. Usually, five specific fetal attributes are studied and “scored” during the BPP:

Biophysical Attribute- MBHBB 06.16

  • NST Scan: The Fetal Non-Stress Test is a simple, non-invasive test performed in pregnancies over 28 weeks gestation. As mentioned above, The NST involves attaching a belt to the mother’s abdomen to measure fetal heart rate, and another belt to measure contractions. Movement, heart rate and “reactivity” of heart rate to movement are measured for 20-30 minutes. A NST may be performed if:
    • You sense the baby is not moving as frequently as usual
    • You are overdue
    • There is any reason to suspect the placenta is not functioning adequately
    • You are high risk for any other reason

The test can indicate if the baby is not receiving enough oxygen because of placental or umbilical cord problems; it can also indicate other types of fetal distressThe primary goal of the test is to measure the heart rate of the fetus in response to its own movements. Healthy babies will respond with an increased heart rate during times of movement, and the heart rate will decrease at rest. The concept behind a non-stress test is that adequate oxygen is required for fetal activity and heart rate to be within normal ranges. When oxygen levels are low, the fetus may not respond normally. Low oxygen levels can often be caused by problems with the placenta or umbilical cord.

Many pregnancies progress just fine without ever having an ultrasound and health care providers use a wide array of skills and tests to ensure the safety and health of both the mother and the baby through pregnancy and birth. Having any of these scans done isn’t immediately an indication of a problem, it is just an opportunity to check. It is a gift to hear your baby’s heartbeat and see them developing, one to treasure. While it can be exciting to hear your baby’s heartbeat and to see them on the screen, the purpose of ultrasounds is to be an important tool in your prenatal care, not an entertainment experience. They may provide some answers to questions and concerns, reveal a potential problem or that everything is developing normally, and provide reassurance. Be sure you are using a reputable ultrasound technician to perform your scans, your healthcare provider should refer you to one they trust and use regularly if it is out of office. If you feel that a scan is unnecessary and are unsure you want to go through with it, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider about your concerns to better understand the purpose of the scan. If at any point there is something you don’t understand, speak up and let your healthcare provider know you have questions.

____________________

me
Elizabeth is mom to four breathtakingly-beautiful children, and wife to one lucky man. She is a research writer, blogger, and a ghost writer of books.  As a natural-minded woman, Elizabeth takes pride in spreading factual information that may benefit other mothers and future generations.  She has spent the last seven years (and counting) growing babies in the womb and/or with breastmilk.  When she is not writing, she enjoys drinking wine, running, cooking, reading, homeschooling, and loving her family and friends.
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Pregnancy Sonograms: What You Will Learn- Part 1

This post made possible by the generous support of My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear
IMG_4531
This article originally published on mybabysheartbeatbear.com on November 10, 2015.

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There is something so exciting about seeing your little jelly bean bouncing around on the ultrasound screen! Counting down the days until you can watch your baby swim around is something almost all couples do.You get pictures and possibly a video with the heartbeat. All of it just solidifies that you truly are carrying a little life inside.

MBHBB cobranded image 06.16 2

Healthy, low-risk pregnant women are recommended to only receive a sonogram at 20 weeks, but there are times when other scans are needed to check on the baby. There are six common sonograms performed throughout pregnancies, and one or more may be recommended to you. I’m going to break them down and explain their individual purposes and what you can expect to leave knowing after having one.

Before describing the sonograms in the next article, in this first article we’re going to talk about the difference between a sonogram and an ultrasound and explain the most common sonograms utilized in prenatal care. A sonogram is the image generated during ultrasonography, which is a diagnostic imaging technique that uses ultrasound to visualize anything inside the body. Ultrasound is a sound frequency above the range audible to humans, which is about 20 kHz. Both terms are used interchangeably by most people, but in layman’s terms an ultrasound is using sound waves to see or hear something inside the body. A sonogram is the actual visual picture of what the ultrasound is picking up. There are seven types of ultrasounds that may be performed during pregnancy:

Standard Ultrasound  Traditional ultrasound exam which uses a transducer over the abdomen to generate 2-D images of the developing fetus .

Advanced Ultrasound – This exam is similar to the standard ultrasound, but the exam targets a suspected problem and uses more sophisticated equipment.

Doppler Ultrasound   This imaging procedure measures slight changes in the frequency of the ultrasound waves as they bounce off moving objects, such as blood cells.

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3-D Ultrasound  Uses specially designed probes and software to generate 3-D images of the developing fetus.

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4-D or Dynamic 3-D Ultrasound  Uses specially designed scanners to look at the face and movements of the baby prior to delivery.

Fetal Echocardiography  Uses ultrasound waves to assess the baby’s heart anatomy and function. This is used to help assess suspected congenital heart defects.

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Your doctor or midwife will likely use the Doppler during each prenatal visit to pick up the baby’s heartbeat. Generally, they keep it short and use this as reassurance to you that your baby is doing well. This is very common, but can be denied if you feel the urge not to have it done. (As an almost fourth time mom here, I’ll tell you just how amazing it is to hear that little heartbeat every few weeks!)

While many women will receive other ultrasounds during their pregnancy, other than the Doppler to check heart tone at prenatal exams, the standard ultrasound anatomy scan around 20 weeks is the most common. See below for more information about the anatomy scan.

  • Anatomy Scan: Between 18-21 weeks, you will have a more in-depth ultrasound done to determine the baby’s size, weight, and to measure growth ensuring the fetus is developing according to plan. In addition, the anatomic ultrasound looks at and takes measurements of many different anatomic parts of the fetus. The technician or the doctor will be looking for any signs of slower than normal development. The skeleton should be hardening at this point and the sex of the baby may be visible. In many cases, the baby may have its legs crossed or be facing away from the abdomen and thus the sexual organs will not be visible during the anatomic ultrasound. But fingers crossed, you will learn the gender! On the plus side, you’ll receive many pictures of your little one during this scan. The following fetal parts are checked during the anatomy ultrasound:
    • Face: Depending on the positioning of your baby, the technician may or may not be able to detect if your baby has a cleft lip. Rarely are they able to detect if there is a cleft of the palate.
    • Brain: The technician will be assessing the fluid-filled spaces inside the brain and the shape of the cerebellum, which is in the back of the brain. He or she will also be able to identify if any cysts are in the choroid plexus, which is a tissue in the brain that produces cerebrospinal fluid. Fetal cysts may indicate an increased risk for a chromosome abnormality; however, the majority of these cysts disappear by the 28th week of pregnancy with no effect on the baby.
    • Skull (shape, integrity, BPD and HC measurements)
    • Neck (nuchal fold thickness)
    • Spine: Your baby’s spine will be evaluated in the long view and in a cross section. The technician will be looking to make sure that the vertebrae are in alignment and that the skin covers the spine at the back.
    • Heart (rate, rhythm, 4-chamber views, outflow tract): Congenital Heart Defects are one of the leading causes of birth defects and infant death. A prenatal diagnosis can prepare you and your medical team to provide your infant with the best medical care possible throughout your pregnancy and after birth.
    • Thorax (shape, lungs, diaphragm)
    • Abdomen (stomach, kidneys, liver, bladder, wall, umbilicus, cord, abdominal circumference AC)
    • Limbs (femur, tibia, fibia, humerus, radius, ulna, hands, feet, femur length FL)
    • Genitals (gender, abnormality)
    • Cervix (length and opening)

Based upon the results of the measurements, the gestational age of the baby will be predicted based upon the average size of other babies scanned during the 20th week of pregnancy. If any abnormalities are found, additional examinations are indicated.

In our next article, we’ll go more in depth into the other Sonograms some women experience in pregnancy and their purpose. No matter what kind of scan you’re given, it can be an exciting time and a bit of an emotional roller coaster. Hearing and seeing how your baby is doing can be both nerve-wrecking and encouraging. Read here for more potential emotional impact of a prenatal ultrasound experience.

____________________

me
Elizabeth is mom to four breathtakingly-beautiful children, and wife to one lucky man. She is a research writer, blogger, and a ghost writer of books.  As a natural-minded woman, Elizabeth takes pride in spreading factual information that may benefit other mothers and future generations.  She has spent the last seven years (and counting) growing babies in the womb and/or with breastmilk.  When she is not writing, she enjoys drinking wine, running, cooking, reading, homeschooling, and loving her family and friends.
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Exploring The Potential Emotional Impact Of The Prenatal Ultrasound

This post made possible by the generous support of My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear
IMG_4531
This article originally published on mybabysheartbeatbear.com on January 2, 2016.

 

The day has come to say hello, to see the one who’s still so small.

A heartbeat will bring many tears, but still will come all the fears.

Will she grow strong and tall? Will we lose him… and my heart will fall?

Are there two or three? Will my birth choice be mine to make free?

My arms ache to hold you. My heart aches to know you.

Above all else though, I know you are mine.

I will love you in every way, no matter what the doctor will say.

Today is the day that I will see your face, tiny and real, you will move to a place

A place in my heart I had never found…

Until today’s ultrasound.

-E.MacDonald

Ultrasound

Ultrasound Day:

Seeing a heartbeat.

Seeing multiple heartbeats.

Not seeing a heartbeat at all.

Revealing a gender.

Fighting the urge to discover the gender.

Learning devastating news.

Counting ten fingers and toes.

There is no denying that a pregnancy ultrasound will change your life.  While most women may check it off as just another day of pregnancy, even seeing a healthy little baby swim around should spark a light of life-changing emotions. The miracle of life is one our society tends to shrug off and sometimes the effects can cause us to become unaware of how we truly feel towards seeing this tiny human being on a screen.

Technology is a wonderful (and scary) tool.  We learn so much in a matter of moments, whether it is a healthy or unhealthy pregnancy, if baby is growing well, whether vaginal labor will be a safe option, if the gender we dreamt of is what exists, and if everything is okay with the mother.  Primarily a diagnostic tool, the necessity of prenatal ultrasounds may be heavily debated but there is no doubt that as routine as they have become, the prenatal ultrasound is a significant moment in the lives of parents-to-be while providing information to care-givers to help the parents make informed decisions.  Along with this education comes the anxiety and fears before the truth is learned.  And what’s worse is that after this brief moment of time, the heart and mind will create a new laundry list of emotions based off of what was discovered during the ultrasound.

Let me state this: There is no right or wrong emotion to feel – Sadness to be pregnant, panic to be pregnant with multiples, triumph to have a healthy baby past a certain date, pride that you created this being, even confusion on whether to keep or adopt.  Emotions are a very personal thing, and you have a right to not feel guilty about any of them.

It is ok to let the tears fall.

A Healthy Pregnancy:  A healthy “typical” ultrasound will have you crying tears of joy; especially if you were terrified going into it.  It can also leave a woman experiencing an unplanned pregnancy in agony, as she will be filled with choices, fears, and guilt.

Multiples: Multiple heartbeats found on the screen may lead to disbelief, panic, excitement, and many many questions. Fear of placenta(s) and sac(s) and nutrients may dance through your mind endlessly.

An Unhealthy or High Risk Pregnancy:  Knowing you will be closely monitored may either be reassuring or cause further anxiety.  When the baby or mother is at risk, the emotional rollercoaster typically picks up quite a few more passengers. Bearing the weight of your own emotions, along with your family and friends will become all encompassing. Reaching out for support and having a safe sounding board to cry to will allow you the ability to have the healthiest version of this pregnancy possible.

A Miscarriage: Expecting to see a flicker of blinking light on the screen where there is none can be devastating.  It doesn’t matter if you are 9 weeks or 15 weeks when you see that the life you thought was growing has stopped. You are no less of a mother. It does not matter that others say, “The next one will stick” or “At least it ended this way instead of a sick baby.”  There was life within you.  Mourn in the ways you need to.

A Pending Loss:  To learn that your child will not survive the pregnancy will bring forth unexpected emotions – Joy that you will still have time to grow and love this baby, but so much heartache that you will never know him earth side.  There will be anger and fear, but hope that things will change. There will be days of normalcy, but so many of confusion and pain.

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A Genetic Marker or Cause for Concern:  Sheer panic may occur; heart-racing fears and a lifetime of scary images may cross your mind.  Stress will be unavoidable, but handling it well will be needed.  Further testing will be done, causing more emotions, more tears, and more prayers.

Gender Disappointment:  Gender disappointment is real. (Ask me how I know.) No one should make you feel guilty for your feelings of desire toward a certain gender. You know that you will love the baby that is growing, and that he was meant to be.  However, the heart will mourn the fact that you will not have ribbons and bows and tutus.  Taking the time to let go of those feelings will help you welcome the baby you are growing without resentment or sadness.

Placenta Complications:  A healthy baby.  A healthy mother. But a placenta that is covering the cervix or attached to the uterine wall improperly. This is a recipe for a mess of emotions.  Knowing everyone is absolutely healthy is reason enough to yell from the roof tops, but knowing there is absolutely nothing you can do to prevent a cesarean section from occurring will bring about lots of birth emotions and fears.

Fetal Positioning:  While at a normal 20 week ultrasound, there is no need for baby to be in birth position, if your midwife or doctor suspects an awkward position later in pregnancy, an ultrasound will be done to verify.  If you are planning a natural birth, this ultrasound may send you into panic mode.  There is always time, even during labor, for baby to turn correctly, but the fears will be real.  Letting go of stress will help the body relax, chiropractic care, specific exercises, and manual manipulation are all available to help.

No matter what you learn during your ultrasound, your pregnancy journey will be changed.  Sorting the emotions will be an ongoing (and hormonal) battle that can potentially affect your labor and delivery. Taking the time to accept your feelings and live through them will benefit your mind body and soul.  Try to handle your emotions by talking through them, living a healthy lifestyle, practicing a mind-centering exercise such as yoga, seeking acupuncture or chiropractic care, and finding support.  Your pregnancy and baby will be all the stronger if you can do this.

May your ultrasound be filled with many happy emotions, but be real with yourself.  Do not hide or feel ashamed with any emotion that comes rolling out.  Find support if you feel alone in your emotions.  Share your fears and sadness right alongside of the joy and excitement.  Let sorrows be known and heartache be felt for you will not truly experience the highest level of happiness until you have worked through all of your other emotions.

_____________________

me
Elizabeth is mom to four breathtakingly-beautiful children, and wife to one lucky man. She is a research writer, blogger, and a ghost writer of books.  As a natural-minded woman, Elizabeth takes pride in spreading factual information that may benefit other mothers and future generations.  She has spent the last seven years (and counting) growing babies in the womb and/or with breastmilk.  When she is not writing, she enjoys drinking wine, running, cooking, reading, homeschooling, and loving her family and friends.
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Bump, Baby, and Beyond Product Guide 2016 + Giveaway

by The Leaky Boob Community

We asked around from our favorite parents (you!) and put together a guide of the products we love for pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and newborn care. Introducing our Bump, Baby, and Beyond 2016 Product Guide! But that’s not all, our readers gave us their best tips and advice they wish they had received about pregnancy, birth, and having a new baby. There’s a lot of wisdom here! Take some time, browse through this issue, and comment letting us know what you love, what you’re interested in, and what you think we left out, there are so many great products and advice, we’re bound to miss some.

And we’re giving it ALL away! Every single item included in our guide (over 50!) is being given away. Divided into 3 separate bundles, we’re excited to be able to give 3 different leakies different bundles from our guide. Use the widget below to enter and tell us what 2 friends you have that you’d like to win the other two bundles in the comments.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and a huge thanks to all the brands that wanted to make this possible!

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My Journey As A First Time Mom; a #MyStoryMatters Leaky Share

by Kelly Warner

guest post, leaky to leaky

Meet Samuel. This is my rainbow baby, who we welcomed with joy in January, 2014. After struggling with infertility for 5 years, my doctor in Houston told me it was unlikely that we would ever conceive. When we moved to St. Louis we started seeing a fertility specialist, who discovered a few factors that were either keeping us from getting pregnant or not allowing us to sustain pregnancy (an underactive thyroid, being a carrier for MTHFR and either not absorbing folic acid well or clotting after conceiving, and low progesterone). Once we addressed those issues we got pregnant right away, which was so encouraging after having our arms ache to hold a child for years. Unfortunately, we miscarried at 9 weeks and would later miscarry a second time at 6 weeks.   We were in a very dark place but continued to trust God with our fertility. A few months after our second miscarriage we found out we were pregnant again. 40 weeks later, after a snowstorm and before another one shut down the city for a week, our sweet Samuel Bennett was born!

I was so focused on maintaining a healthy pregnancy and having a natural birth that, admittedly, I didn’t educate myself on breastfeeding. Our Bradley Method instructor encouraged me to attend LLL meetings while pregnant to meet other like-minded moms, but I didn’t make it a priority to go. I knew that I wanted to breastfeed for a minimum of 12 months and had hoped that I would be able to make it for 2 years, but I figured I would have the baby first and then it would just naturally come to me. You know, because so far my story has been so natural and easy that it makes sense that I would just figure it out.

We had a beautiful natural birth and our nurses were great about immediately putting Samuel on my breast and delaying all newborn procedures until we had time to bond. He didn’t latch right away but found comfort sleeping on my chest. (In his defense, he did have a pretty long and intense birth that included 4 hours of pushing, his cord wrapped around his neck twice, and the threat of a C-section before I pushed so hard I broke my tailbone and his head came out before the doctor was even suited up to catch him). I kept trying to get him to latch and had just about every lactation consultant and nurse helping too. We were adamant about not using bottles, sugar water, or formula, so when he started showing signs of dehydration, we all panicked. The LC informed me that the combination of my flat nipples and large breasts were making it difficult for Samuel to latch and she recommended we use a breast shield. I was a nervous first time mom, who just wanted her baby to eat, so I took her at her word and began using the shield. I have since come to learn that there are absolutely medical situations that warrant the use of a shield . . . but mine was not one of them. Samuel began “latching” and getting colostrum, but it was so frustrating, painful, and messy for me. Worried that I would give up with breastfeeding, the LC convinced me to rent a breast pump to take home, pump my colostrum, and feed with bottles until my milk came in. Although she unnecessarily encouraged me to use a shield, I have to give her credit for pushing breastfeeding. She showed me how to use the pump and was shocked when I pumped 2 ounces of colostrum in a few minutes. At the time I was super confused why she was all giddy (and felt the need to show my liquid gold to everyone working in the maternity ward) but have come to learn that colostrum is not typically measured in ounces. That gave me hope that I was going to be able to feed my baby – it was just a matter of figuring out how.

My milk came in a few days after we got home from the hospital and my already large breasts became so engorged I didn’t know what to do with them! Seriously, they practically had their own zip code (38-K)! I had a serious oversupply problem and a fast letdown that Samuel did not find nearly as amusing as my husband and I. He’d pull off the breast and get super-soaked in the face or just grimace as a stream of milk shot halfway across the room. I guess when you’re an exhausted new mom you find the humor in anything, because everything else is just so, so hard!

We continued to use the nipple shield but struggled. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to quit. Thankfully, my husband knew, deep down, I didn’t really want to quit and I just needed to be encouraged to continue. He was up at every diaper change and night feeding with me, sitting at my feet, praying for me. I remember one time in particular: It was 2am and I was exhausted from nursing Samuel around the clock during a growth spurt. My husband and I got up to feed him and I burst into tears when Samuel latched and I felt the “60-second sizzle.” I said I didn’t want to mess with the shield anymore and that I just wanted to feed my baby. He comforted me in that moment and said he had read that night feeding was a good time to try to wean off the shield. So, figuring it couldn’t get any worse, we took off the shield, and together, we re-latched Samuel. I’m talking, all 4 of our hands were trying to hamburger my nipple so Samuel could latch! There were more tears (by me) and more words of encouragement (from the hubs), and finally Samuel latched! This was such a small thing but felt like such a big breastfeeding victory!

I continued to pump out a few ounces before EVERY feeding to soften my breast tissue so he could latch better. It was really annoying to be tethered to my pump and time-consuming to have to constantly be cleaning out pump parts (and during the winter, which made my hands crack and bleed), but it was worth it to be off the shield and begin having a successful nursing relationship with my son. Plus, it allowed me to build up a good stash of breast milk that I donated to my friend to give to her adopted newborn.

By the time Samuel was 6 months old my supply had finally regulated. It was so freeing to be able to feed on demand and not have to pump first. Samuel was healthy and happy and in the 50th percentile for his weight, and an added bonus was that he was a really good sleeper! Shortly after he turned 7 months old, however, he started waking up multiple times at night to nurse. We brushed it off and assumed he was just teething or going through a growth spurt, but it continued for weeks. I called my pediatrician and asked her why she thought his sleeping pattern changed suddenly. We ruled out ear infections, viruses, the Bubonic Plague, and continued to be dumbfounded . . . until my ped asked if it was possible that I was pregnant. I probably offended her for laughing so loud on the phone, but, come on! Me? Pregnant? I mean, sure, it was a possibility I could be pregnant, but I was exclusively breastfeeding, had not introduced solids, and remember how it took the stars aligning for me to have a healthy pregnancy with Samuel? I hung up the phone, dug out an expired pregnancy test from the Dollar Store, and took the test . . . and then proceeded to take another 3 before I believed my eyes! I told my husband and he didn’t believe me, so he went to the pharmacy and bought the most expensive digital pregnancy test . . . which told us the same thing the 4 tests prior did, only in words instead of hieroglyphics. I. Was. Pregnant!

guest post, leaky to leaky, pregnant photo

Once the initial shock settled we were thrilled for our news, but clearly my milk supply had already begun to decrease. Ahhhh the irony! My ped suggested starting a supply-boosting supplement that was safe while pregnant, but cautioned that it was likely we would need to supplement with donor milk or formula. Having just donated all of my pumped milk to my friend for her adopted baby, we were forced to supplement with formula. We chose the only organic formula that we can buy locally and hoped that it would be palatable. Only, Samuel wouldn’t take it. Clueless about what to do, I emailed Jessica from The Leaky Boob for advice and was so humbled that she took the time to answer me. She encouraged me to get a Supplemental Nursing System (SNS) to keep stimulating my breasts to produce milk while getting Samuel the supplementation he needed. He had lost so much weight he dropped to the 5th percentile, so we were ready to try just about anything. All I can say is using an SNS is like trying to juggle flaming arrows while blindfolded! I feel it apropos to high five any mom that has successfully nursed with an SNS. First off, that thing is impossible to set up alone (thankfully my husband is really supportive of me breastfeeding). Secondly, the tape that is supposed to keep the tube in place is worthless! Thirdly, my son was so offended that I was trying to sneak that tiny plastic tube in with his latch. Needless to say, we gave up.

After giving up on the SNS we tried to introduce a bottle. By this time Samuel was close to 9 months and had only had a bottle when I pumped my colostrum the first few days of his life. If he was offended about the SNS tube, he was not having the bottle either. We must’ve bought one of every brand of bottle on the market only to find out he would rather starve. We tried syringes, medicine droppers, spoon-feeding, sippy cups, open cups and this kid was not impressed. The only thing that he took a liking to was a straw – and not a sippy cup with a straw because that’s far too juvenile for a 9 month old – a straw that you, a grown adult, would get at a restaurant. He’d sip on the formula throughout the day but never really had a “feeding” like he would with breastmilk. We sneaked it in smoothies, made popsicles, and just about anything to get that kid to drink milk.

Keep in mind I’m still pregnant through this . . . I’m tired, hormonal, my nipples are sore, and I’m nauseous! I lost 10 pounds from throwing up and not being able to eat food while pregnant and still nursing Samuel. Those days were ROUGH! I kept telling myself that, “This, too, shall pass.”

We found our rhythm and made the most of our cuddles and nursing sessions until Samuel started throwing fits when I offered him the breast at nap-time or bed when he was 13 months. After a few days of us both crying at every feeding, I assumed he was no longer interested in nursing and wanting to wean. I stopped offering it and we just, kinda moved on. Looking back, I honestly believe he was having a nursing strike from being frustrated from having to work so hard to get any breastmilk.

In May we welcomed our daughter, Felicity Claire, into the world. Once his sister was born he started showing interest in nursing but it was as if he had forgotten how it all worked. He constantly talked about my “ba-ba’s” and wanted to touch them for his sister’s first month of life. 4 months later, he asks for milk at bedtime and smells and touches my breasts asking for more. It breaks my heart that I likely cut our nursing relationship short, but I am glad we were able to overcome so much and still make it 13 months.

guest post, leaky to leaky

So far, Felicity nurses like a champ and I feel so much better prepared this time around. While I wouldn’t wish my struggles with breastfeeding on anyone, I am glad I had to persevere through them. Not only did it show me how much support I have, but it highlighted how important a good support system is for breastfeeding. I hope that other moms find support to help them reach their breastfeeding goals and that my story encourages them in their journey.

____________________

guest post, leaky to leakyKelly is a mother of two from St. Louis, Missouri, who lived a good chunk of her adult life in Houston, Texas.  She and her hunk of a husband struggled with infertility for 5 years and had multiple miscarriages before having their first child in 2014.  Prior to starting a family, she taught 7th grade life science at a college preparatory charter school for low-income, minority students in Houston.  When she’s not nursing her 5 month old or telling her 21 month old to stop throwing balls at his sissy’s head, Kelly enjoys hanging out with her husband, binge-watching Gilmore Girls, and writing music.  Despite many struggles with breastfeeding, Kelly nursed her son for 13 months; 6 of those while pregnant with her daughter.  In addition to being passionate about breastfeeding, Kelly loves baby wearing, cloth diapering, staying up to date on car seat safety, and having grandiose dreams of being a midwife someday. In the meantime she’ll stick to chasing her sports-nut toddler around the neighborhood and hoping that she remembers to put her boob away before answering the front door.  

 

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TLB Comic: Proportionally Adjusted Snacking- Breastfeeding While Pregnant

by Jessica Martin-Weber, illustrated by Jennie Bernstein

 

TLB comic, funny Friday

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Our Nourishment Journey

by Angela Parish

Angela Parish, Our Nourishment Journey, guest post

I am a proud “lactivist” and breastfeeding Mama of almost 17 month old twins. There was a time when I thought I would never get here. Not because motherhood and nourishing my babies isn’t something I desperately wanted, but because I struggled (and still struggle) with infertility. Infertility isn’t really part of my breastfeeding (and bottle feeding) journey but it is part of a more complete picture of me as a mother and as a person. My husband and I struggled the dark years of infertility from November 2009 until the conception of our first successful (In Vitro) pregnancy in August of 2011. It was a long and painful year and ten months.

Our first son, Elijah was born in April 2012. It had been my dream to nurse Elijah, exclusively. I did so for about five and a half months before introducing solids. He was developmentally advanced…sitting up unassisted at 4 1⁄2 months. We practiced babyled weaning with him and because he showed all signs of readiness, we allowed Elijah to experiment and ingest a slowly increasing variety of whole foods.

Angela Parish, Our Nourishment Journey, guest post

Nursing Elijah, my first born.

I produced A LOT of milk and so I had bloodwork done so Elijah and I could donate milk through Mothers Milk Bank. We also made several donations to private individuals struggling with supply. It was a very fulfilling time in my life as I not only fed my baby but also helped feed others in need. As we neared Elijah’s first birthday, I began to stash my milk again. We knew we wanted to pursue more children and had decided that after Elijah’s first birthday we would have another fresh in vitro cycle. This would require weaning my baby. And so by Elijah’s first birthday, he was no longer breastfeeding but did continue to get Mama’s previously pumped milk every day until he was almost 16 months old. Although I think Elijah would have been an excellent candidate for full term (extended) nursing, the choice to wean was the right one for our family and it resulted in our beautiful fraternal twin boys born in February 2014.

Angela Parish, Our Nourishment Journey, guest post

We had planned an HBAC (Home Birth After Cesarean) for our twin boys, Patrick and Rory. But God had other plans for our family. After about a week of prodromal labor, and what felt like an eternity of some very difficult and painful labor at home with no progress, we transferred to the hospital. I continued to make no progress for several hours until the Pitocin and epidural had been in place. When we arrived we had been turned away at Texas Children’s Hospital by the OB on call because we were a home birth transfer. However a Fellow on duty not only agreed to take me as a patient but allowed me a trial of a vaginal birth….and actually seemed excited about it. Still, I was heartbroken. I found out that I had to push in the operating room and my midwife, doula and birth photographer would not be allowed in. This was not the birth I had planned.

Angela Parish, Our Nourishment Journey, guest post

I was put on an operating table, forced to lay on my back on a table that was broken and push. I got my first VBAC. Rory Mark was born and immediately taken away so that I could start working on Baby B. This was not the plan. At home, I was supposed to nurse Rory to keep contractions going, and get on hands and knees if necessary because Baby B often needs encouragement. I don’t think they even showed me Rory, let alone allowed me to nurse him. One thing that I was not expecting was not being able to feel my tummy tighten from contractions once one baby was out. My stomach was so tight and stretched from pregnancy that once I gave birth to the first baby, I could no longer feel when I was supposed to push. And the nurse that was supposed to be helping me with that was not telling me when to push.

Angela Parish, Our Nourishment Journey, guest post

In the end, little Patrick was in distress and I ended up having an emergency cesarean. (So much that they started cutting me before the anesthesiologist was in the room and I felt EVERYTHING for the first few minutes.) Patrick was not breathing nor did he have a heartbeat when he was first born. His vitals started shortly after birth, but he was whisked away to the NICU before I could see him. He was placed on a cooling blanket treatment for four days and not allowed to nurse (or get anything other than an IV) or be picked up. I got to see the him next morning, but had to leave Rory in our hospital room because he was not allowed in the NICU. My twins, who had been together for 38 weeks 2 days, were separated for the first time.

Angela Parish, Our Nourishment Journey, guest post

Rory and I seeing Patrick from our hospital room. 

When day four arrived and Patrick was taken off his cooling treatment, the first thing I wanted to do was nurse him. He had a lot of catching up to do! And to my surprise, my tiny boy latched on right away! It was a weak latch but a latch nonetheless. It was my intention for this baby and his twin to be exclusively breastfed. But plans change. And in order for him to come home more quickly, he needed to be given bottles of Mama’s pumped (and some donated) milk. There would have been no way for me to exclusively breast feed both babies when they were not allowed to be in the same room. And even if I could have exclusively breast fed Patrick, the NICU doctors liked to keep track of intake and I knew the bottle would get my baby home faster. I went down at every feeding I could and administered his bottles myself, also offering the breast so he could practice. I called his nurse after every feeding I was unable to make it to in order to find out how many cc’s he had consumed. It was two steps forward, one step back for twelve days. During that time I consulted with the hospital lactation consultant who basically told me I was doing everything right and while that was flattering, it was not at all helpful. I knew that once I got him home, I would need to call BABES, a very reputable and supportive lactation consultant organization here in Houston.

Angela Parish, Our Nourishment Journey, guest post

Patrick came home on Valentine’s Day, 2014 which was my original due date. I always nursed him first. And then I would offer the bottle. He came home on a Friday. By Wednesday, my lactation consultant, Leah, came to our home and gave me some amazing advice on how to hold him so he had a better angle. By the following Friday, he was OFF THE BOTTLE! We were so blessed! I know it would not be that easy for everyone. I was and am so grateful that we had bottles when we needed them. And I am also grateful that we no longer did. Both parts of our journey are precious and special. Both provided needed nourishment to my baby. And even when I was bottle feeding him my pumped milk, I felt this incredible connection and bond as I nourished his little body.

Patrick has now been nursing for one year, four months and three weeks. Rory has been nursing for one year, four months, three weeks and four days. Neither shows any sign of stopping any time soon and while nursing toddlers (especially TWIN toddlers) presents its own challenges, I love this season of life. They both had Mama’s milk exclusively until their first birthday as planned, consisting of mainly nursing with occasional bottles so Mama could get out for a bit. Mamas needs breaks in order to be good mamas! It has been an amazing journey providing nourishment to all three of my children and I look forward to doing it again one day.

Angela Parish, guest post, Our Nourishment Journey

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Angela Parish, Our Nourishment Journey, guest post
 Angela, who is a photo-junkie, lives with her husband and three beautiful boys in Houston. 
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Breastfeeding During Pregnancy AKA Why Does It Feel Like My Nipples Are Falling Off

by: Joni Edelman

breastfeeding during pregnancy, beautiful breastfeeding

My husband and I decided to at least try get pregnant with our fifth (yes, I said fifth) child when our fourth child was just 8 months old. This was a conscious choice because: A. I was (am) getting old. Fast. B. Since I was already Advanced Maternal Age (whatever that means) we considered that it might take a few tries before we were successful, we thought, “Hey, let’s get this party started.”

It took one month.

One.

So I found myself pregnant, mid-summer, with three teenagers and a 9-month-old baby. It’s worth adding that the 9-month-old baby slept about as good as a newborn baby, or worse. Just imagine the worst sleeping situation you can. Multiply it by 2. That’s her. Oh and by the way, my husband works out of town three days a week.

I know you’re probably saying to yourself, “WHAT THE HELL is wrong with this woman? Is she insane?’

Yes.

I am.

Breastfeeding is important to me. Also, I have a guilt complex. There was no damn way I was weaning Ella. Even if it killed me (and it came close), I was hanging in.

And the first few weeks were really nothing special. I was nauseated, having a hard time nursing and keeping food in my body simultaneously. There was some gagging. Ok, there was a lot of gagging. It passed. There was some discomfort but nothing to moan too much about. Ella seemed thirsty, but Adventures in Tandem Nursing was my trusted companion. Having read that milk can take a turn for the salty, I kept a water bottle nearby and soldiered on.

The second trimester crept up before the holidays and one day, nursing Ella down to nap, I realized I hadn’t heard her swallowing. I snuck away, attempted to hand express some milk, only to find that I could not. I chalked this up to some inexplicable cause, I was dehydrated, hungry (neither of which are plausible), any cause really, other than the actual cause: my milk was gone.

It hadn’t even occurred to me that my supply would even dip, much less drop to nothing. And so I sat on the floor of my bedroom, huddled next to an outlet with my pump, topless and awkwardly entangled in tubing, pleading for even a drop of milk to appear. And of course — or there would be no point in this story — there wasn’t a bit. Not an ounce or a teaspoon. Not even a drip.

Blame it on the hormones, the dark winter, the shortened days, the overwhelming task of taking care of four children, blame the tears on what you will. I sat huddled, crying, sobbing, irrationally devastated. The only thing I wanted to do was feed my baby, and birth my other baby. And those things couldn’t co-exist.

Cue guilt.

Suddenly I felt the crushing guilt of everything I’d ever done; my divorce, my new husband, the new baby, the other new baby, the non-organic fruit in my fridge, that time I bought french fries, that other time I bought french fries, that glass of wine I drank during the third trimester, that time my sprinklers ran all night and we were in a drought, global warming. All of it.

Guilt complex. Did I mention it?

I took my guilt and terror into the second trimester. I took my crying to twitter. I asked for reassurance anywhere I could find it (including The Leaky Boob). I was so sure she would wean and it would be my fault and I would have broken her and myself and everything.

But she didn’t wean.

And sometimes I wished she would have. I know that doesn’t make sense (see: I’m crazy). But there were at least three occasions in the middle of the night — Ella screaming to nurse from a breast that had no milk (and PS that isn’t super comfortable) — that I wanted to literally put her outside. It was winter, or I might have.

Pubic symphysis dysfunction nearly crippled me. I had no milk and a baby that wanted nothing but milk. I had four kids that needed me and I was crawling on all fours to the laundry room. I wanted to put my screaming baby outside. I wanted to cover my head and come out finished with pregnancy. Sometimes I didn’t want to be pregnant at all. Sometimes I wanted to cease to exist.

It was not a good time.

And of course, because guilt, I was sure my unborn child knew I didn’t want to be pregnant. And I knew he’d be born and feel unloved and unwanted. I knew it.

And then my homebirth turned into a hospital birth (though that’s another story). And because I didn’t feel guilty enough about the fries and the lawn and everything else, I now got to feel guilt that the baby (who I was already sure felt unloved) had to be born in the hospital.

Less than two days after Max arrived my milk came in with a gush. When Ella realized the milk had miraculously returned after 6 months, she looked up at me, slowly signing ‘milk’ with the deliberate opening and closing of her tiny fist, she smiled her tiny smile, tongue still curled around my nipple. Her hand stroked the back of Max’s head, as if to say, “Thanks for coming. And oh also, thanks for bringing the milk with you.”

We made it to the other side. We graduated to tandem. And I didn’t put anyone in the backyard — excluding myself anyway.

Back to feeling guilty about global warming.

beautiful breastfeeding, cuddling, feeding two kids

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IMG_0670
 I’m Joni. I’m lucky enough to have 5 amazing kids (19, 16, 15, 4 and 2), one fantastic husband, an awesome sister and a yarn addiction. When I’m not raising up people I’m a freelance writer, RN, and the momma behind mommabare. Love is my religion. I like cake and crafty crap. And yoga. In that order. 
You can follow Joni on Instagram here and on Twitter here.
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