Hen’s Data (counting chickens, if you will)
Weight : 9 pounds 8 ounces – Of course, this data is SUPER reliable. We used an A family heirloom, a vintage table scale, to take this measurement. However, I think it just might be accurate, because when we tested it with a 5 pound barbell, it read – viola! – 5 pounds on the dot. Regardless, I’m underestimating. The scale actually read 9 and 3/4 pounds.
Height : 24 inches – This little lady is seriously tall.
Nights : Sleeps for one 4 hour stretch – Hen seems like she wants to feed from about 7 PM to 10 or 11 PM, with only a couple 30 minute breaks tossed in. Once she’s finished, she usually sleeps for about 4 hours (at least for the last couple of weeks or so). We’ll get up (she’s not a fan of doing any serious feeding in bed), she’ll feed for 40 minutes, wet her diaper three times, and then we’ll go back to bed for another 2 and a half hours (three hours on two lucky occasions).
Feeding Schedule : Feeds 8 – 10 times a day – We pretty consistently feed 4 times before noon, and then she’ll take a three hour break. We’ll feed once or twice more before her evening marathon. Save the evening, she feeds for anywhere between 25 and 50 minutes and then takes about a two hour break. We plan all outings in two hour intervals, and when she feeds, I make Joshua get ready so that we can put her in the car seat or ergo as soon as she’s done feeding. Oh yeah, we’re pros.
Wardrobe : Finally starting to fill out the 0 – 3 month sizes – Hen has some of the cute creases and rolls, but really, I think most of her weight gain is really in her height. She’s not much more roly-poly looking than she was at 2 weeks, but she’s definitely a lot longer. Most of her outfits are still a little loose, but length-wise, she fits into 3 month stuff.
Diapers : 12 wet diapers a day; 1 dirty diaper every 24 – 72 hours – While the wets are reassuring – there’s definitely plenty going in, if there’s that much coming out – the first time she went without pooing a whole day, we freaked out. But apparently, breastfed babies can go for TWO WEEKS without pooing. I shudder to think of that poo. It must be MASSIVE. As it is, these are no wimpy quarter-sized feats. They’re the kind where you have to take a bath afterwards.
- Hen throws both arms over her head when she sleeps for longer than an hour. We call it her “deep REM pose.”
- She hasn’t smiled yet, but she tracks us with her big, blue eyes.
- She has started cooing.
- She’s still very calm. She cries (like all babies), but it’s pretty much always for a reason, and once her diaper is changed or she’s fed or rocked, she stops.
- She kneads like a kitten when she’s nursing.
- She is STRONG. Her grip is difficult to undo, and she’s kicking all the time. She holds her head up on her own for long periods of time.
- She’s gassy, and by default, our little comedian. All of our interactions with people are punctuated by very loud farts.
Best Web Resource : I spend a lot of time nursing. I remember when I worked the night shift at Fed Ex the summer after I graduated from high school. My shift started at 10 PM and ended at 2 AM, and I spent those four hours hauling ass. One day, I wore a pedometer and discovered that in one shift I walked 12 miles. But walking isn’t all I did. I was in charge of carrying incompatibles – oversize or oddly shaped boxes – from the conveyor belt to the trucks. The funny part of this story is that Anderson windows ships through Fed Ex, and because the 90 pound windows were definitely considered oversize packages, I was responsible for heaving these behemoths to the trucks. Yeah. Picture that. 115 pound girl carrying a 90 pound window. ANYWAY, the moral of this story is that when I did a very repetitive job and then slept immediately afterwards, I felt as though my shift was actually much, much longer, because my brain could find nothing more scintillating to dream about than – that’s right – carrying boxes from conveyor belt to truck, conveyor belt to truck. So I dream of nursing. I wake up, and I think I’ve been nursing. During the day, it’s been all I can do not to obsess over this singular subject. The anxiety of making sure that Hen is getting enough, coupled with the incredible amount of pain I was experiencing, made it almost impossible to think about anything else. So all of this is to say that I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what was wrong, why it hurt so freaking bad, and what is normal (or not normal). There’s a lot of crap out there – namely, forums where people write in all lower case letters and misspell their, they’re, and there (ok. So I’m a snob. Tell me something I didn’t know.) – but one resource that doesn’t parrot the same catch phrase over and over again (“It shouldn’t hurt, if the baby latches on correctly, muthaf***a”) and actually has supportive (and no, I don’t consider any of the following supportive: “you might have to supplement with formula,” “use a nipple shield,” or “you might just have to pump for a while…”) and useful information is: http://kellymom.com/ . The site is well researched and easy to use.
Number of Support Groups Attended : Three. These were so-so, and ultimately, my faith in lactation consultants has taken a plunge. It’s hard to disagree with a certified expert when you’ve just been nursing for one week, so when I was told to supplement with formula, I did. Over the course of three days, Hen drank a total of 6 ounces of formula. In the end, the amount was so small and she spit up so much that I decided to defy the expert and never give her another drop of formula again. The long reaching effects of this particular piece of advice have not harmed Hen – 6 oz. is negligible compared to the hundreds of ounces of breast milk – but I can’t kick this niggling doubt that I’m not producing enough for my baby, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Very helpful, making me feel inadequate and needlessly worried. I decided to eschew the “support group” all together when I saw one of the consultants help a crying mother put on a nipple shield. I guess I’ve become a bit of a purest. In breastfeeding, supply is a direct result of demand, but augmentation – pumps, bottles, shields – can and often do upset this balance. Pumps don’t express as much as a baby. Bottles give babies a different flow. Babies become attached to shields, and shields can lower your milk production because it diminishes the skin-to-skin contact necessary for keeping the supply and demand relationship going. Plus, there was this feeling the whole time that before formula, or pumps, or shields, every human being since the dawn of time was breastfed. There must be a way to do it with out the hoopla. (Caveat: I will have to go back to work, so I will have to use the pump, but I found the pump and bottle much more harmful when Hen and I were just learning in the early weeks.) La Leche League was only marginally better. People recommended that I see a lactation consultant. One woman told me about her godsend: nipple shields. So. Now I don’t go to support groups. Instead, I take it on faith – and the number of wet diapers and our old scale – that I’m producing enough and that Hen and I will figure it out. It’s scary, but it’s better than making it worse with augmentation.
Weeks of Pain : I may have suggested that I was “turning a corner” in other posts, but it seems as though I’ve had a number of obstacles in succession. For me, Mother’s Day was an all time low. I was in excruciating pain. I was doubting myself, and I felt absolutely miserable. That was five and a half weeks, and before that, I must have only gone one or two days in a row without serious pain during and after feeding. It’s been five days since Mother’s Day, and those five days have been good. Not pain free, but good. I’m not going to jinx myself by saying anything else.
Thrush : This sucker is tenacious. Hen and I were prescribed Nystatin four weeks ago, and we still haven’t nipped it in the butt. I tried the old-school remedy, gentian violet, for 5 days, but unfortunately, all we have to show for our efforts are a number of deep purple stains on our couch and end table and a baby who looks as though she’s gone goth. Hen still has a white stripe down her tongue, and my boobs still burn.
Plugged Duct : The first time Hen slept for four hours, I woke up with a rock-hard, hot, and very painful lump the size of a golf ball in my left breast. It was so large and hard, we could literally see the exact size and shape of it poking out from under the skin . How are you supposed to get rid of this? Oh yes. Pressure massage: pushing down as hard as you can on the lump until the pain eases somewhat. And oh yes. It hurts. BADLY. But thankfully, after beating up my boob for two days and putting hot water bottles on the lump and nursing through it all, it dissipated.
Tearing Off/ Wrestling : This is by far and away our struggle of choice. Hen is a very wriggly baby, and she tends to wrestle while breastfeeding. Sometimes, she tears off without releasing suction first, and this is very painful. For weeks, this has left my skin raw and very sensitive to touch. Of course, it’s very painful when it’s happening, and this is the malady that brought me to my knees on Mother’s Day. Thankfully, my sister is a Psychology rock star, and she suggested Operant Conditioning. Apparently, infants respond well to punishment – in this case, being taken away from the boob and told firmly, “no” – and can learn to refrain from certain behaviors. I tried it right away, and it began working within the first 30 minutes.
Supply : I have to have faith that this is not really a problem. I don’t augment nursing with anything – so much so that I’ve refused to give Hen a bottle or pacifier – so I supply what she demands. Her weight tells me that I’m right. But just in case, I drink Milk Thistle tea, take Lactaid supplements, and the Motherlove tincture. I’ve also brewed Fenugreek tea and taken Blessed Thistle.
6 Weeks Post-Partum Check Up
If you will recall, I had 21 stitches after labor. These stitches are in a very scary place, and they never really stopped hurting. A week after I gave birth to Hen, one of the nurses gave us a courtesy call, and when I asked her when my stitches should stop bleeding, she dismissed me and said that the stitches should have already dissolved within a week. Even though I was pretty sure that the blood was coming from my stitches – it was bright pink – I assumed that this was just how it was supposed to be. After all, I’ve never had a baby before.
Fast forward to my check up. I tell the midwife that I don’t think my stitches are healed quite yet, and she looks at me dubiously. Clearly, she thinks I’m telling tales. But then she examines me. It hurts to sit down or put underwear on, so believe me when I say that this was not fun. Immediately, the tenor of my office visit changes. Midwife no longer thinks I’m telling tales; in fact, she’s very apologetic. Apparently, I have an infection. She tells me to wait while she calls a doctor from another office to come and see. Doctor comes and sees; doctor pokes the infected areas and verifies that there is “puss pockets” – yum. They want another doctor to come and see. Apparently, they need three people to figure out what to do. Doctor number two comes in and asks me how I’m doing. When I smile and say I’m fine, she says, “well, obviously not.” She examines me, apologizing the whole time, and tells me that infections are rare – they only see them a couple of times a year. All three of them are looking at me like I’m a freak, and they’re wondering why I haven’t been knocking down their door, screaming in pain before now. They comment again and again on my “very high pain tolerance.” I tell them that the pain down there is nothing compared to the pain in my boobs. This concerns them even more.
After a brief catalogue of my trials and tribulations nursing, the midwife decides that I have deep tissue thrush – the yeast colony has set up camp inside the ducts. I am prescribed an anti-fungal and anti-biotic, both for 14 days. Before I leave, the midwife looks at me with pity. “It isn’t usually this hard,” she says.
On the up side, the midwife gave me permission to begin running again. So, I ran 1.5 miles yesterday and 2 miles today. It was seriously difficult, but it feels good to sweat and breathe hard again. It’s hard to believe that I’ve lost so much fitness in just 6 weeks, but it’s true. I can’t think of a time – ever – that running a mile was difficult for me, but I’m determined to get it back again.
Hannah flew in on Saturday, and since then, we’ve gone to Echo Lake on Mount Evans and Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. Hen loves her auntie
Before Hannah came into town, we went on another adventure to Corwina, an open space outside of Morrison. Colorado weather has been warm and sunny, and we’ve loved stretching our legs, even if it is in two hour intervals