Monday, September 19, 2011

Smashing Success

Tonight, I write about a subject that is natural. Beautiful. Moving. Nurturing.

Yet to some, what I write about tonight is argued as risque, taboo, to be kept behind the nursery door.


There, I said it. And if it freaks you out or makes you squeamish, than this post is probably not for you. But if you were one of those who wants to know how things are going, read on. :)

Tonight, I write about what so many of my friends and family have asked about, skirted around, been curious about, or been snide about over the last few months. Are you still nursing? Why? How is it going? Is it hard? Does it hurt? Let's get it out in the open- because it's awesome!

I had every intention of nursing my first son, Micah, four years prior to our newest addition. I was working 25 hours a week, taking 5 classes a semester, trying to be superwoman and my body just did not cooperate. I gave in to so many "booby traps" (pun intended) that sabotaged me. From the git-go, Micah had a horribly recessed jaw and I was a little, er, misshapen, so he was physically unable to latch. No lactation consultant saw me for almost 24 hours, and the nurses were no help. Micah had to end up using a nipple shield to nurse, which was humiliating. Then, I decided to follow BabyWise, a method of scheduling when to breastfeed your baby, instead of feeding on cue. I got a mediocre breast pump that could in NO way maintain my supply. I introduced formula in the beginning- one bottle a night, before bed- because I thought it would help him sleep through the night, and Jose could be involved. I went back to work when he was 4 weeks old, and back to school when he was 8 weeks old. I had to pump in the car or in the college's bathroom. So many things added up to me abandoning breastfeeding when Micah was 9 weeks old, my milk supply was nil, and I was an emotional wreck. I felt like a failure as a woman- unable to do what women for centuries have done for their children. I sabotaged myself by being misinformed, having no support base, and not asking for help in the beginning when I had the chance.

When I became pregnant this time around, I knew from day one that I was breastfeeding, and conquering this skeleton in my closet. I had unfinished boob business. I wanted the absolute best for my baby, and for myself. I read through a book that I strongly urge any mom wanting to breastfeed to read:

I talked to my husband about my goals, and he was amazingly supportive. He understood that this was something that so affected me after our first son was born, and the fact that he was on board really cemented my decision to breastfeed this time around, no matter what obstacles came my way.

Many women take a laissez-faire approach to deciding if they want to nurse. "I'll try it"can easily turn into "I'll try it in the hospital, but I don't care if someone gives the baby a bottle, and when I see that it's hard at first, I am bailing." Breastfeeding, if you want to be successful, is a decision that needs good support, educated parents (NOT just moms) and sound resources.

I was armed with my supportive husband, my informative booby bible, and my research, but there is one more thing that I brought in to play, that was the game-changer: prayer. I am a firm believer that God delights in us even when we come to Him with the tiniest things-things we don't think He could possibly have time to care about. But I know that if we don't ask, we don't receive (Matthew 21:21-23) and that God knows the most intimate desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4). So I without inhibition laid it at God's feet and asked that He make it possible. After praying about it, I came up with my goals, based on the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommendations: six months of exclusive breastfeeding (no other liquids or foods), and continued breastfeeding through the first year after introducing foods as being a main source of nourishment. After that, to continue breastfeeding as long as baby and I are still content with it.

Levi was born on January 28th at 0158 that morning. Levi latched and successfully nurse for more than 40 minutes within an hour after birth- the "magic hour" (Babies nursed within an hour after birth recieve so many benefits, and it solidifies baby and mom's decision to breastfeed.) No shield, no nurses helping, nothing but mom, dad, and baby working as a team. Nothing short of a miracle!
In the beginning, it was definitely difficult. I nursed on demand, or "cue feeding", whenever Levi was hungry in order to build my milk supply. I had to make it through having a crack for close to two weeks- one of the worst pains in my entire life, and I can handle pain. Pshhh, I had two kids with no epidurals. I had to be meticulous about my nutrition and vitamin intake in the beginning. I have hypocalcemia, so it's already hard for by body to make milk, but it's been harder keeping up with a hippo like Levi! I have had to drink like a camel. I take a lot of herbal supplements to maintain my supply that are in tinctures (highly concentrated in alcohol), and burn like the dickens but work like nothing else has. And perhaps the most uncomfortable for some, we room-shared with Levi for the first 5 months until he was sleeping through the night consistently. For me, it was awesome and all worth it. I am so giddy and gracious about being able to do it that I have an album of nursing pics on my computer to remember it by :)

We made it to our first goal of six months exclusive breastfeeding on July 28, 2011. Levi is now almost 8 months old and we are going strong. He nurse about 7 times a day, and is sleeping through the night pretty regularly. He goes to bed at 8:30 when Micah does, fills up his tank about 11ish before I settle down for bed, and sleeps until about 6:30-7. PLENTY of sleep, compared to what I was getting a few months ago. He also takes 2 naps a day, each about 1-2 hours or longer.

One of the greatest things for me, that I did not expect, was how much of a bond it has created with Levi. I am obviously bonded with my first son, Micah, but having to give up nursing and go back to work and school when he was so young definitely affected how attached he was to me in the beginning. This time around, nursing has become a time that Levi and I so enjoy. He is so in love with his mommy, and I am amazed at the difference between our early relationship and Micah's. It was not one of the reasons I was driven to wanting to breastfeed, but is one of the most amazing benefits.

I have also had the privilege of becoming quite the lactivist. Since successfully nursing, I have had the honor of helping two close friends with problems early on in nursing. I am thinking of becoming a lactation consultant (IBCLC) and continuing to advance breastfeeding awareness in our community. The more society is made aware of benefits, the less of a stigma nursing moms face, and the better care our babes get!

That's the long version. The short is, I love it, and if you want to nurse, get educated and have lots of support. Don't give up, because it's not always easy, and if you can make it through the first 4 weeks, you will be golden. Yes, it will hurt in the beginning, but it doesn't after a little while. No getting up to make bottles, no extra dishes, no gross smelling formula spit up or gross smelling poo (breastmilk poo has almost no smell to it). You never have to check the temperature, and you can do it lying down in bed and snuggle after. So perfect, even Jesus did it (ha!).

Now, off to my nursling. He has one last stop on the milk train before the clock strikes midnight. Ciao to you and chow for him!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


There have been many a change in the Molinuevo household over the last two weeks since I blogged; hence, there have been no posts! Here are a few tidbits to get you through until I get to the nitty gritty later in the week.

Micah started kindergarten. This was a major leap of faith on our part as parents. Micah does not turn 5 until December, and we had him signed up for VPK this fall. However, we looked at the curriculum and Micah already knew it, in its entirety, for the entire year. I know my child, and if he is not being challenged, he acts out. We decided to start him privately with a good friend of the family who does homeschool-tutoring in a group atmosphere- almost like a schoolhouse setting from way back when. While Micah seems to be doing well (he memorizes everything, spits out his vowels and consonants, Bible verses, and so on, it is raising new battles in the parenting arena. My child is a very social child, who loves to be with other kids, and apparently thinks that is the only reason for school. So while the other children are busy doing there seat work like good little children do, my child is dawdling through everything. One coloring sheet took him 25 minutes, and he had to take it outside and finish while everyone else had recess. You would have thought the world was ending. He just cannot seem to make him self concentrate on the task at hand. And it's carrying over into everything at home. An hour to eat dinner. Brushing his teeth is suddenly a daunting task. He can't seem to get motivated to do anything, because he cannot focus. To write his name 6 times took him almost an hour, because he writes it once...and looks at his pencil...and looks at the dog...and then the ceiling...and asks me a question...and... and... and... He says he gets to distracted with the other students and wanting to play. "All I can think about is playing, Mom." He knows everything they are doing so far. It's not that it's too hard, it's that he just doesn't want to.  Oi vey, it's going to be a long year. I know we were doing the right thing by challenging him intellectually, and getting him socialized with other kids, but it's just going to be a lot of dragging of feet along the way.

Jose has started working as a charge nurse. This has been scary but exciting for him. He has been a nurse at LRMC for a little over a year, and was injured by a patient back in March, so he has been on light duty and hasn't been allowed to do regular RN duties since because he had to have surgery. Surgery was August 8th, and since then he has been charge nurse a few times, but it's becoming more and more frequent. He said a few months ago he wanted to see how far he can go, and now it's time!

Levi is hitting milestones. He is doing a modified crawl like an inchworm: stretch out, get on all fours, stretch out, get on all fours. He is starting to pull up on things on a regular basis. He pulled up on Micah's school desk leg, slipped, and bashed his head into it. Poor baby! He is also eating like a champ. We are doing Baby Led Weaning (BLW)- very common with breastfed babies. It really is amazing. He is 7 1/2 months old, and eating whole steamed veggies, cheerios, maria cookies, cut up fruits, avocados, whole beans, pancakes, small pieces of chicken or fish...all with NO TEETH. He has completely bypassed purees and cereals (which for the most part, have NO nutritional value). BLW allows for parents to be responsible for providing nutritious food for the baby to eat, and allows the baby to be independent in deciding how much to eat and independent in feeding themselves. Levi hates utensils, and for the most part, we don't push it. He eats with his hands until his belly is full, eats what he likes, and meal times are enjoyable- not a fight to get a spoon in a baby's mouth. Breastfed babies use different muscles in their jaw to nurse than a bottle fed baby does. It is easier for them to learn to mash with their jaws and eat whole foods than purees; whereas the opposite is true for bottle fed babies. The have to learn to use their jaws to chew since bottle feeding is no real work; they do better with purees at first. The whole process is truly amazing. I highly recommend learning more here at the BLW website.

Micah told one of his first public, real lies. And boy, was I livid. I had been up SUPER early with Levi, about 5, to nurse/let the dog out. He fell back asleep as the sun was rising, and Jose knew I was really tired, so he was kind enough to let me sleep in a while and offered to take Micah to school. Levi slept until 8:15, shortly after Jose left with Micah for school, and we got up and got the day started. I was so grateful...until I picked Micah up from school. I arrived, Micah said hi, and another student promptly asked me what time I get up in the morning. Not thinking anything of it, I answered "usually before 7, why?" I was then told by 3 students that "Micah said all you do is sleep all day."  Oh really... Is that what he said... Later in the car, I confronted him about it. He said that he knew I didn't sleep all day, he didn't know why he said it, and on and on as kids do. The next morning, he told his teacher and classmates the truth and all was fine. A little sliver of me wishes there was a shred of truth to that. One day to sleep, ALL DAY, would be amazing. But who would cook? clean? take care of Levi? be home work help? take the dog out?..... in my dreams.

 As you can see, life is busy. A few friends of mine have asked me how the cloth diapering and breastfeeding are going, if I am still doing it, etc, and there will be a long and short answer. The short: Yes, still doing both! Yes, still loving both! I will do a post dedicated to each later in the week.

And now, for a hot bath and sleep. My pillow calls...