Monday, October 31, 2011

Spoken Word Blog Round-Up: Mary-Ann


On Saturday morning I woke up to a wonderful email and video from a reader.  Mary-Ann wanted to share her story with me and though it broke my heart - I've watched the video multiple times, sobbed through every viewing - I am so glad she did.

Her words are beautiful, her story compelling.  Mary-Ann's blog has been down for quite some time because of issues with the host.  I offered to share her story here and link up with Angie's post because I admire anyone who is brave enough to sit down and speak about heartbreaking loss.

Here is the link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFO4xIrCzMo

Her story starts at 1:20.

Thank you for sharing, Mary-Ann.  I would love to hear all of my readers stories, whether they have lost babies or not.  I love knowing where people come from and learning what has shaped and changed their lives.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sick


All three of us.  Mercy.  I am shaking my fist at the co-worker who showed up sick at J's work earlier this week.  Bennett has so much stuff draining down the back of his throat he was choking last night.  I nursed him a TON which helped break things up.  I figured if it works for congestion in the nose it should work for congestion in the throat.

Bennett slept in bed with me last night.  We have the co-sleeper next to the bed, but when he finally stopped crying and went to sleep I was not risking waking him by shifting him over and I was too scared to have him in the co-sleeper.  When he was settling in to sleep I kept having to roll him to his side because he was choking on snot.

Poor baby.  He sneezes, snot runs out of his nose, and then he looks at me like, this is new, why is this happening mama?  He is sleeping a lot.  He slept 11-5:15, I nursed him for thirty minutes and then he fell asleep at 6.  He's still sleeping, even though he usually eats every two hours until noon.  Do I wake him up?  Do I take him to the doctor?

Last night I started the breast milk up the nose trick.  It helps with his congestion, but every time I do it he acts like I'm torturing him.

Sigh.

I feel awful.  Congested, sore throat, all over miserable.  I want to cry.  I understand why Bennett was screaming his head off last night.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

10.29.11


I'm grumpy.  J is sick and I have the attitude of a three-year-old.  We went to his work yesterday for lunch and he looked a little run down, but I assumed it was the usual end of the week exhaustion.

Hanging out with Daddy in his office. 



Then he came home and crashed out upstairs, complaining of a sore throat and general icky feeling.  My mom was here Thursday night on into Friday afternoon.  I called her this morning and begged for help.  I had to go to Costco, the grocery store, and Target.  I left it for the weekend so J could help me, but there's no way he was marching out into the cold to accomplish all that.  I contemplated tackling it by myself for two seconds and then called my mom.

The house is a disaster, but the shopping is done.  J is still upstairs, quarantined, because if he gets Bennett (or me!) sick life will really be unpleasant.  He's been playing video games all day, specifically Battlefield 3 because it just came out. I am so sympathetic I wonder if he's pushing the 'I feel sick' gig more than necessary because he wants to play video games all day.  I would make a really bad nurse.

I can't get a thing done because I'm on Bennett duty all the time.  I didn't realize how much I need J in the evenings and on weekends so I can do laundry, tidy the house, cook dinner.  We received a box of hand me down clothes from a friend.  I haven't put them away in the nursery because I need to rearrange Bennett's drawers to fit everything.  I dropped the pile on the floor and have been selecting Bennett's clothes from the pile as he needs them.  It works really well, much easier than folding and sorting.  I'm tempted to make it a permanent solution.

There's groceries on the dining room floor, diapers and wipes on the stairs, papers and books on every conceivable surface - and some inconceivable ones too - and I am letting it all go, putting my feet up, snuggling B, a little teary eyed over the fact that he is already seven weeks old.

Enjoy your weekend and All Hallows Eve.  I'm not into the holiday myself, no cute costume for B, or me, or Isabel, but we will hand out candy Monday night and enjoy the little ones running up and down the street with sugar pumping through their veins.  

Friday, October 28, 2011

The community of the lost


I live in a great town for long walks.  I love that the next street over takes me downtown, to the capitol, within a couple blocks of J's work.  All I have to do is walk straight for a mile or two through old neighborhoods with rundown houses nestled next to well kept up giants with enviable porches.  Fall is beautiful here.  The leaves are crunchy, the porches hold kittens and pumpkins, the former stretched out in the sun, and the rain is holding off so far, which makes it seem as if we are temporarily living in an alternate less damp Oregon that has been hiding behind the curtains of rain that normally blanket the streets and sidewalks this time of year.

The capitol is gorgeous, with parks surrounding it and nice walking paths.  Just before crossing the street into the park there is a popular coffee shop, the IKE box, and the YMCA.  I've been to that coffee shop many times, but I've never heard or known the story behind it.  J said he told me once, but I don't remember the conversation.  Yesterday I purchased drinks and snacks while my mom stood off to the side with Bennett.  A woman approached, commented on Bennett, and then struck up a conversation with my mom.  I paid for our things and then joined the conversation.

As we talked I learned she was the owner of the coffee shop.  When she asked if we knew the story behind the shop I said no.  She explained that after losing her first son she began a community project called Isaac's Room.  When she mentioned Isaac I said, "I lost my first, Charlotte, shortly after birth."  The conversation immediately shifted, from a casual chat to a conversation about the missing, how much they are loved, how even the thirteen year anniversary is hard, but the day to day is easier after such a long time, how life comes crashing down around you when your baby dies.  It's amazing how quickly a connection can form between mothers who have lost.

But this community project, it's incredible.  Here is a statement from the website which explains the goals and mission of Isaac's room:

Isaac was our first son. Born in October 1998 with a heart problem, he only lived for two months before we lost him on December 29 of that year.
Isaac’s Room is our effort to extend the family love and support that we would eagerly have given Isaac throughout his life to the young people in our community who have suffered from a shortage of it throughout theirs. Just as the room that Isaac was supposed to live in is physically empty and therefore available, the space we make in our lives for our own kids is now available through Isaac’s Room.
So IKE is a nickname for Isaac, and the IKE Box is the street name and “storefront” of Isaac’s Room in the community. The IKE Box is a place where we look after each other and encourage each other to pursue our best life possible, just like we would have done for Isaac. It is, appropriately, like a family.
Our family tree has a lot of branches – we do concerts and coffee and event hospitality, we offer a life-development program called IKE Quest, and we are home to many other interesting groups and cool projects – but bringing it all together is this place in town called the IKE Box, named after this space in our lives, a creatively devoted space for fellowship and belonging one to another, a space we call Isaac’s Room.
We hope that when you walk into the IKE Box, you can feel that you’re walking into a story. And we hope you walk in sometime soon.    


The owner said they have brought well over a hundred teenage foster children into their home where they provide love, nurturing, and a place for them to work, grow and learn.  All of the love they hold in their hearts for their lost baby is poured into the lives of teenagers without loving families.  How incredible is that?

This community of men and women who have lost children amazes me.  We have been through the unimaginable, the thing every parent fears.  To turn from overwhelming loss to reach a hand out to others requires astounding courage, beauty and grace.

I've never admitted this, never let this idea out into the world, but I've carried it for a long time.  Sometimes I feel like a bad loss mama because I don't have a big project, or great idea, or way to help other mamas or grieving parents.  I don't have a memorial site, I don't create memory boxes, I didn't start a group or foundation after Charlotte died.

I'm slowly realizing that doesn't matter.  I'm a writer.  I remember Charlotte through words because it's hard for me to express myself any other way.  I would love to paint, sing, dance, but I can't - no really, I can't - so I write.  I'm learning to say thank you when people compliment my words.  I don't like talking about my writing because it feels like bragging about something inconsequential.  I don't get paid to write and sometimes I'm embarrassed by how often I need to write.  It fills up some unspoken part of me to come here nearly every day and write.  I feel closest to Charlotte with keys beneath my fingers and thoughts flowing from my brain down my shoulders to my arms and into my hands, even when those thoughts aren't about her. 

The loss community needs the big names, we need people to make weighted bears, write names on an indescribably beautiful beach in Australia, and fight for legislation changes. We need them to be the face of our community, to explain what we have been through, to ask for compassion and understanding.

But we also need the quiet members, the ones who rarely speak of their loss, who hold their babies close.  We're all different, we all process our loss in our own way.  The loss community is like a family in that regard.  We have every stripe of person and each one makes a difference whether we know about them or not.

Whether you are a vocal or quiet member of the loss community, you're in, you are one of the baby lost and every single grieving parent matters.  Even if you never share your story, you and your lost one(s) are loved.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A very short hiatus


I don't like not blogging.  I'm not good at it.  I like socializing in my pajamas (does reading comments count as socializing?).  Although now that we know our neighbors I do a lot more real life pajama socializing than I used to.  Just the other day a neighbor came over to drop off baby clothes and then we went down to her house to fetch a gift to give to our midwife, who is kind-of like our neighborhood midwife - everyone knows her - and I was wearing these awful, but comfy, star pajamas my mama bought me while Bennett was in the NICU, slippers, and Bennett in the Sleepy Wrap.  And on down the street I marched, and then back down to my house we went where we stood outside and chatted for a while star pajama bottoms be darned.

While we are on the subject of neighbors I just have to share this story because I am enamored with it.  A couple weeks after we came home with Bennett I posted on the book about wanting blueberry muffins.  The neighbor across the street brought fresh baked ones over an hour later.  The muffins were on a blue plate and when I offered to switch them over to one of my plates and give her the plate to take home she said, "That just showed up at my house one day.  Pass it on to someone else."  So I did.  I baked brownies and gave them to the neighbor who brought me baby clothes in the previous paragraph.  She whipped up a batch of Rice Krispie Treats and took them on over to the missionaries on sabbatical from Mongolia who moved in recently.  A couple nights ago they showed up at our door with the blue plate and carrot cake cupcakes and the next afternoon I piled home made chocolate chip cookies on the plate and took it across the street to another set of neighbors. I call it the blue plate of goodness.  It seems to have taken on a life of its own.  You know you want to live in my neighborhood.

I have been taking life slowly.  Bennett is growing like crazy right now - his new nickname is the nursing monster - and we've spent a lot of time at home cuddling and relaxing.  We've also done lots of walking and some wood stacking.  Wood stacking is one of my favorite chores, it's up there with laundry.  I'm sure I will tire of it someday, but I just love bundling up, heading out to the backyard with J, stacking wood and chatting.  I probably like it because it's hard to get J to hold still long enough to talk and when we are stacking wood he can move and I can talk at him, which is really the best of both worlds.  We were stacking wood in a cradle next to the shed last night, in the dark mind you, because the wood shed is full.  We stacked it to the top and then KABOOM the entire thing fell, J had to re-stabilize the cradle, and we had to start all over.  J was standing directly in front of the wood cradle.  I'm so glad no feet or heads were broken when it fell.

I feel good, I haven't felt this healthy in a long time.  I've had problems with my thyroid for 8 or so years now, 10 if I count the years before diagnosis, and I had no idea how much it affected my life.  I have a lot of energy and I feel all over good.  Some of that could be attributed to the placenta capsules of course, but I am taking those on an as needed basis now.

I still have ten pounds to lose before I hit my goal weight, 8.5 to lose before I reach my weight before I got pregnant with Bennett.  I am trying to ignore the numbers and focus on being in shape, firming up the muscles that slowly withered throughout two close together pregnancies.  I am not focusing on diet AT ALL.  At least twice a day I say, "I need to eat this because I'm nursing," or simply "I'm nursing!" as I dish up seconds or grab the last cookie in the house out of J's hand (I haven't really done this. At least I don't think I have).  After Charlotte died I hated the extra weight I carried around, the no longer flat stomach that was oddly flabby, but with Bennett here and healthy I could care less.  It's refreshing to put aside the worry and obsession and just be proud of my body for birthing two babies in less than two years as well as providing nutrition for Bennett.

Today we have a five mile walk planned - we managed three on Monday - and then we are having all four parents over for dinner.  I said no visitors for a week, but I cannot deny the grandparents.  I'm fairly certain they would storm the house if I tried, much easier to open the door and invite them in.

Before I post a few pictures I want to say a quick thanks.  Thank you for watching my video for the spoken word blog round-up.  Thank you for being kind and not minding my tears.  Reading that letter to the camera was hard, really hard, and it brought up a lot of grief.  I miss Charlotte SO much.  Thank you for missing her with me.

Here's B.  Little guy is growing like mad.

A 3 month sleeper that fits!



Trying to capture a smile during tummy time.


Got a yawn instead.


And then he fell asleep.


Sometimes I can't believe he is mine.


Out for a walk.



I love fall.


Hanging out while we stack wood.


Family picture under the porch light.


Love.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Spoken Word Blog Round-Up


So I said I wasn't going to post for a few days.  Then Angie over at Still Life With Circles started a spoken word blog hop.  Watching the videos of others reminded me I am not alone, and helped me feel connected to the amazing women who have stood beside me since Charlotte died.  

I apologize for the fidgeting, this was very hard for me.  Bennett was sleeping on the other side of the room while I recorded this, but he did talk a bit in his sleep.  And I think I look awful because I'm running on around four hours sleep, but there's no way I'm recording it again.

Enough excuses, here's the video.  If you want to join this wonderful project you can do so here.


Untitled from Angela Rodman on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

10.23.11


We have a baby on our hands!  No more newborn shenanigans around here.  Bennett is smiling and chattering the day (and parts of the night) away now.  He seems to have put himself on a schedule at night as well. He nurses and then goes to sleep between 9 and 10, sleeps for four or five hours, nurses at 2 or 3 am, sleeps for three hours, nurses at 5 or 6 am, stays up for a bit and then sleeps for four or five more hours.  Sometimes he decides the 2-5 or 3-6 hours are social time, but I can usually get at least one hour of sleep in there.

Even with the good amounts of sleep I've been logging I am exhausted.  I have decided not to get out of bed today, although next Sunday we MUST go back to church.  We have visitors coming Tuesday night, but other than that visit I am shutting the door on visitors for a few days.  Last week was relatively empty and before too long we were doing something every day.  (Dear friends and family who read this and know me in real life - don't get all excited.  I love you, I love seeing you, I just need some time off).

It's tiring getting myself and Bennett ready for visitors, not to mention the house.  Thankfully my mom is still helping with housework or I would have greeted people with a trashed house instead of a slightly messy one.

Bennett and I are going to spend this week enjoying my favorite time of year. We are going to walk through crunchy leaves, sip hot chocolate, enjoy the sunny October weather (this will be our last chance to absorb Vitamin D naturally for a while), read, cuddle, talk, laugh, enjoy each other's company. And when J comes home from work we'll be cheerful instead of exhausted and snappy.

I am going to do my best to stay off the blog for a few days, though I miss all of you when I do.  Bennett will never be six weeks old again and I want to enjoy every moment with him (He was cuddling on my shoulder as I typed this and as I typed that last sentence he spit up all over me, including down my shirt and in my hair.  Good timing B.)

A few pictures and then I'm off:

Hanging out with my aunt.


He is now in size 1-2 diapers! They're still a bit big, but the newborn ones were too tight.


I tried to get a picture of him smiling, but it was too hard to capture.


Back soon.

Friday, October 21, 2011

10.21.11: Picture Update


Bennett is 8 lbs 13 oz!  That's two whole pounds up from birth!!

Thank you to everyone who offered to send clothes/dropped off clothes.  I did not expect so much generosity when I posted about our clothes woes.

Our neighbor brought us this sweet outfit (and tons more!).  I call it B's flight suit.  (Side note: J doesn't want me to call Bennett 'B' anymore because he says it reminds him of a rapper, or a girl, and he doesn't like it.  I think I'll continue calling him B anyway, but only while he's small).



Play time for Bennett and Isabel.



I love baby feet.


Tummy time!


Where are you going?


Oh I see, you dropped your soothie.



Sweetness.


I'm not having fun, mama.


Thursday afternoon: I'm annoyed.  We have to return those shoes mama bought because she broke her phone and had to buy a new one.


The smiles are increasing.  Perhaps we will have a laugh from him soon.


I wear this sweatshirt a lot.  Bennett holds onto the drawstrings, I melt. 


My sister made me this incredible chocolate zucchini bread right after Bennett was born.  I tried to replicate it for my midwife.  I failed.


Twice.


So I made chocolate chip cookies for our last appointment instead.


Our appointment was bittersweet, but I did not cry!  Bennett had fun with our midwife.  He scooted a bit, and even tried to roll over!  He is going to be mobile long before I'm ready. 

Hanging out after getting weighed.


Working on rolling over.





Midwife + Baby = Love 




Six weeks of joy and laughter.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Only


Bennett is nearly six weeks old, which is not very old at all.  He is still new enough that the question of whether or not to buy another ticket on the pregnancy/birth ride shouldn't come up in casual conversation.  But it does. Over and over and over again.  I understand when friends and family ask, but random people at the grocery store don't need to know how I feel about having more children.  Next one who asks may just get an earful on birth, loss, and trauma.

J brought it up last night.  Or maybe it just came up naturally.  I honestly can't remember.  That was four feeds and countless diapers ago.  I don't think he understands how adamant I am to only have the two - one living, one dead.

While holding Bennett J said, "Look at that face!  You really don't want more? Can't you just see a little boy and a little girl running around here?"

I reached out, stroked Bennett's face.  "I already have my girl," I said.

J's face fell, sorrow etching over joy.

Do I want more children?  Yes.  Do I envy those who have two or three or four living children? Yes. But I just can't go through another pregnancy/labor/delivery.

I've been told to give it time.  Let the hormones settle.  Baby fever will strike after a year, or two, or three.  It's not a question of want.  I want two, three, four babies, but I don't have the will, or strength, or ability to make it through another pregnancy and birth.

I wish I could form the words which would create understanding about the difficulty of Bennett's birth.  I was terrified, out of my mind with fear.  It's pure self-preservation to do all I can to avoid those feelings again.

Time is needed.  Counseling may be in order.  I understand that how I feel now may not be how I feel forever.

People say it may not be as bad next time.  Lovely but wishful thinking.  And if the next one happened to be a girl I can only imagine the emotional complications and fears.  If I have a third pregnancy I want a c-section at 38 weeks and that's not an idea I'm comfortable with. 

I love Bennett.  I love that he looks like his sister, me, and his daddy.  I wonder what his little sister or brother would look like.  I know J is not happy with the idea of an only child.  Honestly, I'm not either.  We could adopt, yes, but I don't know my feelings on adoption, and adoption costs are astronomical.

When pregnant with Bennett I read an article about being done with having children - how you know, decide, feel at peace with that decision.  Somewhere in there it said something along these lines: You will know you are done when you look around your dinner table and don't feel like someone is missing.

Not helpful, we'll always have a place that should be filled at our dining table. Our family will never be complete, whole, the perfect number for us.

I'm not one to let life happen to me.  I had strong notions about pregnancy and birth before I had my babies.  I carried those opinions, along with determination and strength, into my pregnancy with Bennett and watched it slowly wash away.  I lost my belief in birth and its wonders.  I lost my confidence.  I don't believe I can do it again, so I won't.  

If J and I decide to forgo having more children I will mourn for those who could have been, but the specter of that sadness is not heavy enough to out weigh the fear.  Perhaps it will be in two years, but today I cannot imagine willingly living through that fear again.

It breaks my heart to hold so much birth sorrow in my soul but I've lived with a broken heart long enough to carry it comfortably.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What am I doing?


I feel like I spend most of my days asking myself that.  Also: Is this really a good idea? (Usually it's not, but parenting is one of those trial and error things).  And, what was I thinking?


I spent so much time before Bennett was here trying to buy enough clothes in the right sizes, but not too many mind, and somehow I have ZERO clothes in that strange 0-3 month size.  Wait, I have two things.  Both are too big, he swims in them in fact, but his newborn clothes are ever so slightly tight now (sob).  So do I leave him in diapers only until he fits in three month clothes?  Do I buy a few 0-3 months clothes?  Where do I buy these clothes?  I think the reason I didn't buy them is because I could only find that size at Gap and the only Gap baby clothes I own are from the consignment store.  Why isn't there a 1-2 month size?

Parenthood is intense in a funny way.  One night J and I discussed whether or not we should buy Bennett more newborn diapers for close to an hour. We even brought my mom into the discussion because she was here with us. Every decision feels monumental and important, but by tomorrow we'll have encountered some other quasi-crisis.  I make life more interesting (read difficult) by over thinking everything.

We're struggling with sleep issues right now too.  Bennett sleeps really well some of the time.  Last night he slept 11:15-3:30, but stayed awake from 3:30-6:30.  He was so restless and out of sorts I moved him from the co-sleeper to the bed (this happens most nights) and spent the three hour period nodding off, putting his pacifier in his mouth, rubbing his belly, rubbing his head, trying to soothe him to sleep.

Our much loved but oft abandoned co-sleeper


Love waking up like this, but not sure if it's right for us


Sweet boy, why won't you sleep like this in your co-sleeper?



If we let him co-sleep in bed with us all night I think he would sleep without issue.  If I put him in his crib at night I think he would sleep without issue.  I'm not comfortable with either situation so we'll continue to use his co-sleeper for now.  It works most of the time and I think it would work all the time if the mattress was memory foam or some such thing.  Bennett is like me, he loves to be comfortable and warm.

Bennett has discovered the joys of staying awake and fighting sleep as well. He will go hours during the day without sleeping.  Sometimes I'll take him for a walk just to make him sleep for a couple hours.  We went on a long one yesterday.  It was warm here, too warm in my opinion, and we walked so far I had to check street signs to navigate home so I didn't get us all turned around and headed the wrong way.

We saw an old man while out and about; he had a sucker.  He stopped and asked, "How old?" while peering into the stroller.  "Five weeks," I said with a smile.  He clasped his hands, sucker and all - what talent - and smiled.  "Oh, mama!  Oh my!  He is gorgeous!  Take good care of him," he said as he patted my shoulder.

And we walked through neighborhoods and down alleys.  I peeked in backyards and felt okay about the unkempt state of ours.  The leaves are changing, vibrant reds and oranges all up and down the streets.  I love that I can walk for an hour here,  While the sidewalks are a little cracked and bumpy the neighborhoods are safe and everyone says hello when I stroll by.

Monday, October 17, 2011

10.17.11


I wasn't going to post twice today, but I have a bit of time (thanks J).  I finally saw my hairdresser for a cut and color this morning.  It feels so good to have manageable hair back - I couldn't even tame it with the flat iron - and to have my gray hair covered.  She cut three inches, but left it long enough for me to pull into a ponytail.



I feel better, lighter, refreshed, but at the same time my heart is so heavy.  I learned of two friends who are really hurting today.  Really hurting.  My heart is broken.  I am sad for them, for the pain and struggles they are enduring at the moment.

Today I learned that this adage - "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle," (Plato) - is very, very true.  It is hard to know I can do nothing but say, "I love you, I'm sorry this is happening to you."

We all have our moments, our times of trial.  Holding B tight this evening. Grateful for life and breath and the light that comes after immense darkness and grief.  Hoping and praying my friends find comfort and light in their darkness.

Loves and Recommends: Big Fat Nursing Edition



Breastfeeding ... it's hard, much harder than I expected it to be.  Those who have been there always say how hard it is, but I didn't understand what they meant until Bennett and I learned how to do it in the intensive care unit.

I needed lots of extras to make it work.  I still need lots of extras to help me along.  You know those people who say you are ready to have your baby as long as you have a few clothes, a place for him or her to sleep, and your breasts?  They need to add a few things to their list.

Boppy pillow:

I didn't buy a nursing pillow while pregnant because I didn't think I needed one, but this little circle of goodness saved our nursing relationship when Bennett was in the NICU.
While in the NICU it was hard to find a good, comfortable position to feed Bennett in.  The recliner was our best (and really only option) but it was nearly impossible to feed him without my back hurting and the pillows I tried to support his head on slipping off my lap.  When a nurse noticed me using two pillows and two receiving blankets to prop him up she suggested a Boppy pillow, which J promptly bought.

I was addicted to that pillow for the rest of our NICU stay and our first couple weeks at home. (I'll never forget the first time J saw me stand up and walk around while nursing.  He was accustomed to me yelling for the Boppy and there I was, walking and talking and nursing.  He was a bit shocked and amazed).  Bennett is five weeks old and I don't use the Boppy for nursing anymore, although sometimes I think I should remember to because it really is comfortable, but it has other uses.

Tummy time 


Watching football with J


Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter:

It absolutely threw the nurses for a loop when I pulled out my own cream before pumping/after breastfeeding.  From the Mama/Baby ward to the NICU, all were confused as to why I wasn't using the cream provided by the hospital. Most acted as if they didn't know other creams existed.  One incredulous nurse said, "That is a standing order from Dr. K for all of his patients!  Why don't you have the lanolin?"  I smiled, said I didn't need it because I had my own cream. She looked confused and declared, "I am going to find you some of that lanolin!"  (I never saw her again.  I ran off to the NICU to be with my boy and by the time I returned to my room shift change had occurred and a new nurse was on duty.)

I love this company and its products.  The cream has worked really well, I've had a bit of pain, but nothing too bad.  I have heard stories of cracked and bleeding nipples and mamas who have to clench their teeth when baby latches.  I have had a few clenched teeth moments myself, but most of the time things are just fine.  Five weeks out and I still use it after Bennett nurses.

Cabbage:


Cabbage is necessary for comfort when my milk comes in.  I spent at least a week, if not longer, walking around with cabbage in my nursing tank.  I take it directly from the fridge, put it in my shirt, wait until it's hot and wilted and remove.  It works wonders for engorgement pain, and my midwife claims it helps tone down the swelling on a sprained ankle too. 

 Lansinoh nursing pads: 


After lots of trial and error, and a desperate blog post, I discovered that these are the best nursing pads.  I used washable pads at first, but once my milk came in that was no longer an option.  My milk soaked right through and rendered them useless.  These pads fit well and are the only ones I've never soaked through.  I would like to try the Lily Padz because I hate how many of the disposable ones I go through, but I am all about easy products that work right now.  
Nursing Tanks: 

When I was pregnant I hoped I would be able to get by with wearing nursing tanks, not bras.  I don't like nursing bras because you have to pull your shirt up and expose your stomach for nursing access.  I wear the Gilligan & O'Malley nursing tanks from Target morning and night (although I wish I didn't have to wear anything at night!) and love how comfortable they are.



The tank tops come in multiple styles and colors and to be honest you don't have to be really small to wear them.  I know they won't work for every woman, but they provide enough support for me to feel comfortable wearing them out and about.  I have one nursing bra tucked in a drawer somewhere, but I haven't even tried it on.  Another bonus: the nursing tank tops are $17-$25, which is much less than most nursing bras. 

Burp cloths, wash cloths, bibs:

I always use two cloths of some kind while nursing: one to wipe Bennett's face, grab in case of emergency, use for burping, and one tucked into my nursing tank that Bennett can lay on so I don't soak myself and his clothes.

A friend made me a set of burp cloths using prefold diapers and pretty fabric.


They are amazing, I cannot believe how much milk and spit-up they soak up, and they dry really well so I can use them for multiple feedings.  If you are ever so slightly crafty you can make these, and if you're not, find yourself a friend like mine who will make them for you.

Lifefactory water bottle: 


Okay, this one is a bit random, but to keep the milk supply up one must hydrate.  These water bottles are glass with a silicone cover, dishwasher safe, difficult to break - I've dropped mine on the hardwood floors in our house multiple times and it's still intact.  And if you like their water bottles, they carry baby bottles too. 

I should probably include a breast pump on this list because it's nice to have one, but I have a love/hate relationship with pumping.  I pumped for over a week (which is not very long, I know!) because of the NICU situation and never wish to do it again, but it is a good idea to have pumped milk stashed in the freezer for nights out with friends or the husband. 

If you can, nurse.  It takes time, dedication, and support to learn how to make it work for you and your baby.  Be patient and kind, use cookies and chocolate as rewards, and if you just can't make it work don't berate yourself.

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