SOCIAL MEDIA

01 July 2019

Cooper - Four Months

I can't believe that my baby is already four months old! It feels like just yesterday that we brought that tiny little boy home from the hospital, Alex slowly driving us, with me sitting in the back seat, eyes fixed on our son who came almost a month early. Cooper has grown SO much in the past four months and things are really starting to get fun now. The way he interacts with us is great. We love doing silly things to make him laugh. I sing to him every morning and he always wakes up with a smile on his face.

This kid can roll from his back to his stomach and to his stomach to his back. He loves to sleep on his stomach now, just like his mama. He has soft, small giggles and sometimes burrows his face into your chest when he's feeling exceptionally shy from smiling. He babbles a lot now too. You can find him consistently making noises and "talking" with people.
He truly enjoys gnawing on and holding onto his bunny blanket soother, which Alex & I have named "Shadow" and he can't get enough of playing with his wooden Skwish rattle. Cooper loves kicking his feet when he has his out of boots and bar time. Tummy time used to be a dreaded thing in our house, but Cooper loves it now. He even does it on his own. He's a champ at sleeping too. He'll sleep from 10pm to 7am! Needless to say, Alex & I are finally catching up on so much needed sleep.
It's been so fun seeing Cooper's personality come out more and more. He's so easy going and smiles at the drop of a hat. We're still trying to figure out who he looks like most. Somedays he'll look like me and other days he'll look like Alex had an immaculate conception. His eyes are starting to show some color and I think they might eventually be greenish. He's still wearing size 3 months in clothes because he's long and lean like his dada. We can't wait to see what happens over this next month. We love you little one!
14 June 2019

My Breastfeeding Journey & Why I Chose To Exclusively Pump

My breastfeeding journey was rather short lived and definitely not at all what I expected. My son was born almost a month early and as a result his ability to nurse wasn't that great. Obviously, the nurses we're concerned. After trying to nurse him and failing miserably, I started to freak out. He was already so tiny! I just remember the feeling of utter defeat when one of the nurses mentioned formula. I was devastated. I knew my son needed to eat, but formula wasn't something I had planned for. I wanted me time to try but everything I was doing didn't seem to work. I called my midwife in tears and told her the situation. The next thing I knew she was up in my hospital room, speaking to the nurses about donor milk. I cried so many tears of joy.
Once we got the donor milk, Alex & I had to learn how to syringe feed Cooper the milk until I was able to provide him with my own milk. Alex worked on massaging Cooper's cheeks and opening his little mouth to help familiarize him with suckling. In order to kick start my supply I spent a lot of time hooked up to the hospital's breast pump. Before the hospital was able to discharge us, the lactation consultant wanted to make sure that Cooper was able to nurse. And with the help of a nipple shield he was able to - even if it was a little touch and go. Once we got home from the hospital, Cooper didn't always cooperate with our nursing sessions. When that happened Alex would syringe feed him while I sat next to them in tears, pumping and in. This wasn't what I was promised at all.

Let me tell you something though, that nipple shield was an absolute nightmare but I persevered. Cooper didn't cooperate that well either. He was so sleepy he'd sleep through his feeding times so I'd have to rouse him. I remember waking him up and trying to get an extremely upset baby to latch. I don’t use “extremely” lightly either. He would get so upset that he would do what Alex & I referred to as “angry baby tai chi”. He would turn red and repeatedly hit himself in the face and knock the nipple shield off. It was sad and incredibly frustrating.

During my whole pregnancy I envisioned a beautiful breastfeeding journey but that wasn't what I got. It was a nightmare but I did it anyway - I managed to breastfeed him. Even if there wasn't anything beautiful about it. I would nurse him and then pump, religiously. He was eating like crazy and I felt like I couldn't keep up physically. I still had to somehow manage to calm him down to nurse. Sometimes it was easy to nurse him and it was beautiful and sweet. But most of the time I struggled to calm him down. Those moments were the absolute worst. Between feeding him every two hours and pumping right after, and the lack of sleep - I was quickly becoming an emotional wreck.
Then at Cooper's one month visit the pediatrician told me that he was indeed gaining, but just not as quickly as she had hoped. That’s when my anxiety kicked in. He was already so small - and a late term premie - so I started to worry. So I paid for a visit with a lactation consultant. She watched him nurse and did a weighted feed to determine what was going on. Surprisingly Cooper was able to pull 2 1/2oz from one breast but only 1oz from the other. But since he was having to work so hard at the breast, he was burning more calories than what he was taking in. The result? I’d have to feed him every hour and a half AND pump. This was definitely not what I wanted to hear - especially when I was already running on fumes and physically and mentally drained.

 WHY I CHOSE TO EXCLUSIVELY PUMP


I just knew there was no way I could breastfeed every hour and a half and pump afterwards. There was no way! I was already an emotional wreck due to lack of sleep and the postpartum hormones left me feeling quick to anger. I was snapping at Alex and I felt as though I couldn’t even connect with Cooper. I knew I couldn’t subject myself to even less sleep, even if it left me feeling like a failure. My baby needed an emotionally sound mama and I also needed to make sure he gained enough weight before his tenotomy surgery (you can read about his clubfoot journey here). Then I remembered one of the girls at the midwifery talk about how she exclusively pumped for her son and thought I could do that too. Besides, what was there to loose?

So instead of switching to formula I decided that the best way to make sure Cooper got what he needed was to start exclusively pumping. The upside was that I would be able to feed him my milk and know exactly how much he was getting. Yes, I was sad about not being able to breastfeed (I actually thought it would kill the bonding experience) and I cried a lot about this decision. But pumping worked and it was so much better for all of us. Plus, no more angry baby! He took to the bottle like a champ.

But then my supply tanked a little, less than a week before Cooper's surgery - surely due to stress. I had a stash of frozen breast milk, but I knew it wouldn't be enough and I was so worried about him getting the food he so desperately needed. I panicked and realized I had to make a very difficult decision. I weighed my options and decided to supplement with formula. It was really hard to come to that decision. It hurt and I felt awful when I headed to the store with my mother in law. But deep down I knew that fed is best, no matter what my mom-quilt wanted me to believe.

Once we had formula on board I was able to alternate between giving Cooper bottles of my expressed milk and bottles of formula. I continued this for almost two weeks until I noticed that my supply was magically coming back. That first day that I was able to give Cooper expressed milk for all of his feedings felt SO GOOD. And thankfully it's something that I've been able to continue. It still shocks me that I am able to feed him and still add to my freezer stash at the same time.

It's been over three months and I'm still exclusively pumping milk for Cooper and he is thriving. This journey isn't what I thought it would be (at all) but it's definitely what works best for us. Sure, it didn't come anywhere close as to what I had planned for but it's still something beautiful because I am able to give my son what he needs. And honestly, I feel like I've been able to bond with him a lot more because of it. Perhaps it's because I'm no longer a zombie due to the lack of sleep that comes from being a new mom or maybe it's because I'm no longer fighting with a crying baby, forcing him to nurse.

Sometimes I feel like my breastfeeding story was doomed from the start. And I’m sure some people might think I failed somehow or that I didn’t want it bad enough to keep trying. But screw that. I didn’t quit without trying - my nipples bled and sometimes breastfeeding hurt so bad that I wanted to scream and run away. It wasn't beautiful to me, it wasn't serving me or my family, so I found something better that worked for all of us. All I did was seek out the best way to feed my son.

But here's the other thing: even if our only option was formula, I would still view it as a victory. Pregnancy and childbirth and feeding is something that we don't really have any control over. It's incredibly personal and what works for one person won't always work for another. What makes us good mothers is the ability to see what is best for our babies and our family and to do whatever we can to reach that ultimate goal. Breastfeeding, exclusively pumping or formula feeding - it doesn't matter. As long as your baby gets what they need, it is still something magical.

Now I don’t know how long I’ll exclusively pump for. At first, my goal was to exclusively pump for three months, now it's morphed into six months. But who knows how I'll feel come six months, maybe I'll go the full year! What I do know is that I have given myself room to be open minded and to give myself grace if I ever decide that this path of exclusively pumping is no longer serving me. And thanks to science, I have a backup plan by the name of formula.


If you're reading this and you have questions about exclusively pumping, please don't hesitate to reach out. I'm not an expert by any means but the sites I've listed below are fantastic resources.
Exclusive Pumping
Kelly Mom
26 May 2019

Cooper - Three Months

24 May 2019

Cooper's Newborn Photos






Pnotos by: Laura Davis Photo