29 Months

***This post is about nursing toddlers.  If you are uncomfortable in any way with this topic, please do not read.  I don’t mind thought provoking comments and friendly discussion, but I WILL NOT tolerate hurtful or rude people on this post.  It means a lot to me.***

Sadly, this is the closest thing to a nursing picture I have with my daughter.  I always tried really hard to be discreet with her, and didn’t like to show my breasts at all.  She is about 5 days old in this picture, and if I remember correctly, we had figured out the latch but she wasn’t interested in nursing because she still had her feeding tube.

I did so many things with her I regret.  Not only the birth, but with breastfeeding and starting solids.  Thinking about all of it just makes me hurt for our lost breastfeeding relationship because I took the advice of others instead of going with my gut.

She was a month early, but when her actual age was 4 months old, we were told to start rice cereal.  Her adjusted age was 3 months.  Saying that makes me cringe.  She was so young, so basically we sat her in her carrier and dripped rice cereal filled with breastmilk down her throat.

At 5 months (4 months adjusted) we started orange vegetables.  ONLY orange, just like her doctor said.  She was yellow for the first three months of her life because her jaundice level had gotten so high and it was taking a long time to work out of the system, and then we started the orange foods.  My baby was actually orange for a few months.  Looking back I see how completely ridiculous it all is.

At 6 months (5 months adjusted) we started green vegetables.  Her orange slowly faded out as we added more foods, but even then, she never really liked food that much.  We used the baby food jars, and if you have tasted them (besides some of the fruits) you know how truly disgusting they are.

I went back to work when she was almost six months old, and when she was about eight months she started nursing constantly.  She was eating three solid meals a day, and we wouldn’t ever really nurse during the day, but she would nurse ALL NIGHT LONG.  At the time I had no idea it was normal and she was just reverse cycling and comfort nursing, so I thought something was wrong, and at nine months, I weaned her.

She went straight to cows milk.

I heard it was fine, since that’s what I did when I was a baby and weaned at nine months, so I figured it was okay and she didn’t need to nurse anymore.

After we stopped, she got sick more than she ever had been in her life.  My milk never truly dried up, but there was no way I would be able to get my supply back, so I sucked it up, and realized that our nursing relationship was over.

When we had issues getting pregnant, I craved that missed relationship.  I wasn’t able to comfort her like I used to, and it felt like I had been replaced since the one thing only I could do for my daughter I had willingly given up.  In place of a gallon of milk from a cow.

Fast forward to August.

I had started learning earlier this year about the benefits of nursing toddlers, and even though I loved the idea, I had been raised thinking that toddlers did not need to be nursed and that it was “creepy”.  I was slowly coming around, but even now, sometimes the thought creeps into my head and I feel guilty for thinking about it.

I lost Tyrion and started pumping.  Glade, who had been weaned at nine months, 28 months ago, started becoming very interested in my breasts and the milk.  I had little jars in my freezer and I would fill them with milk and she would eat them like popsicles.  She was healthier, and it made me feel good that I could do something for her.

Then, about the end of August, she wanted to drink from my breast directly.

I was amazed.  I had wanted to do this for so long, and I thought it would be as easy as pulling my shirt down and she would latch and go to town.

I was so so so wrong.

No matter what we did, neither of us could figure out how to get her to latch.  When I weaned her she didn’t have teeth, so that was one struggle on its own.  Plus, she is very active, so she didn’t like lying still for that long, since the easiest way for us to practice was side lying.  We tried watching movies, having her suck on my finger, me showing her how to suck with my finger, I tried talking her through it, and all it did was end with me in tears and her wanting to go play.

She became disinterested, and I kept giving her my milk in cups or in her popsicles, and I thought we were done trying.  It was like I had failed at nursing her all over again.

Last week, I was finishing pumping, and so my breast was still hanging out of my shirt, and Glade dove.  She looked so excited that she just went for it.

And she latched!!

She was so thrilled that she popped off, looked at me completely shocked and said, “Mom, there’s milk in my mouth!” and went back to nursing.  I couldn’t believe it!

My three year old, after 29 months off the breast, had successfully latched and nursed!

Even now, after nursing again for a week, I cry thinking of how good that first time felt.

She doesn’t nurse very often, once or twice a day and sometimes if she gets hurt or upset, but even then, I know she is getting nutrition from me again, and hopefully it will keep her healthy this winter.

I know a lot of people would think I’m crazy for being so excited about nursing a three year old, but to me, this is one gift that my body knows how to give.  I have never had a problem with breastmilk supply, and it feels like even if my body sucks at other things, it can sustain life through its milk.

My three year old is now also getting that gift, along with the two babies I donated to.

And for me, right now, this is something that I also needed.  I am unable to give her a living sibling that she so desperately craves.  I felt like a complete failure when I let her down and ended our relationship early.  It shouldn’t have been my place to decide that.

This time, I am doing it different.  This time, we will do this as long as she wants.  This time, it is her choice.

My Must Have Pumping Items – Mama Goddess Birth Shop

*** Before I start, I want to say that to breastfeed, you truly don’t need anything besides breasts!  Everything else is gravy.  Same for pumping.  You don’t even really need a pump if you are able to manually express.  These are just products that were donated to me, and I decided to do reviews on them because of their generosity and how much I loved all the products.  I am doing these reviews on my own, and received no monetary compensation or anything besides their selfless donation to me in my need for items. ***

Another great company that sent me items is Mama Goddess Birth Shop.  They sent me:

and also their calming spritzer.

Their Nourishing The Nursing Mother Tea is absolutely incredible!  It contains Nettles, Red Raspberry, Fennel, Anise, and Orange Peels, and I am amazed how well they fit together.  It is one of my very favorite teas I have ever drank.  I don’t have supply issues, but it does bump up my supply a little bit if I drink a cup of it, and I only have a cup of it a dy with dinner.  I bet it would help a lot if you drank more than that a day.

I do believe it is the orange peel that makes the tea so absolutely delicious.  I have started making a big batch of this and keeping it in my fridge in a pitcher, and heating it when I want a cup.  It has made my fridge smell absolutely delicious, plus, I don’t have to wait for the tea to heat and then steep.

It is truly by far my favorite tea.  I think I will cry when I run out ::wink::.

They also sent me the calming spritzer.  It contains purified water, lavender, roman chamomile and rose geranium essential oil and also witch hazel.  I spray it around the room before I pump, and it gives me a calm, and now if I smell it, I let down.  Definitely just proves breasts are awesome!

This company also provides tons of supplies for pregnancy, birth, and beyond, and I love cruising their website just to see things I want.  It is truly an amazing company!

My New Scope – Ideas Appreciated!

About a week ago, I was invited to “like” a group on facebook.  I get invitations from other doulas and birth geeks all the time, so I didn’t really think much of it besides clicking “like”.

Then, I saw a post from one of my good friends (if you can call people that if you only know them online hehe) about this group that I “liked”.

The Abundant Doula wrote about The Amethyst Network.

I went back to the group on facebook, and actually read what they were about.

This network is “a nationwide network of doulas working together to support parents during and after miscarriages”.  (If you are interested in helping women with this, you can email theamethystnetwork at gmail dot com).

I knew instantly this is what I needed to do, to help with.

Amethyst is the February birthstone (which would have been Tyrion’s birth date had he made it to full term) which I think is amazing in itself, but Amethyst also is:

A meditative and calming stone. It works in the emotional, spiritual, and physical planes to provide calm, balance, patience, and peace. It has been traditionally used to help heal personal losses and grief. Amethyst has a gently sedative energy that promotes peacefulness, happiness, and contentment. It also brings emotional stability and inner strength. – (link)

The need for support for those that are suffering with miscarriage or stillbirth is intense.  My last experience in the hospital when I lost my son just proves how much those that work there don’t or can’t give women what they need.  They can’t sit with a woman for hours while they cry or are in the process of losing a baby.  They can’t help them talk it through.  They can’t help give information on treatment or options the woman has.

I know that with my first two losses, I didn’t know anyone except my mom that has lost children.  My third was a little easier, both in that I had more friends for support and that I got pregnant less than a month later.  My fourth I am still processing, but it is getting better with support and understanding.

I haven’t had the heart to start taking more hospital doula clients since the beginning of the year mainly because I have been able to attend amazing homebirths and I didn’t want to spread myself too thin.  I had thought about starting again now that I am off bedrest and not pregnant so I don’t really have anything on my plate, but I just haven’t been able to commit to taking clients again.

I had emailed this Network and let them know I was definitely interested in helping do whatever they needed, but they are still in the process of setting everything up (their website is set to be up and running during October probably near the 15th, which is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day).

So, this week I have been going about and finding information on others that are doing this, support groups that I could start in my area, and I was able to call a few of the OBs in my area to see if there was an interest in this.

Now, my problem is that I don’t know exactly how to go about this.  I am starting a support group for those that have lost babies and also for those that are pregnant after a loss (which in itself can be so much more emotional than the loss).  I looked into starting a support group through an organisation such as Share, but I am not allowed to apply to start a group until 18 months post loss.  Which makes sense since you don’t want people to not be prepared, but I want to be able to start things now, while I have the intense drive to do so.

So now I have the idea of how to do the meeting, what time/place/topic, which I don’t really know anything about.  There is a support group in my area (I haven’t gone to it yet) but I want to do a more formal meeting where people can come and we can actually talk through all the topics pertaining to miscarriage/pregnancy after loss, kind of like how LLL does with breastfeeding or ICAN does with cesarean awareness.

That I can all figure out (but if any of you have any ideas, I would love to hear them!), but one of the bigger problems I am finding is how I go about “advertising” (if that is even the right word) that I am a doula for those that are miscarrying/will miscarry or those that have or had a stillbirth.  I am going to write formal letters to all the OBs/midwives in my area to feel them out about the idea and hopefully get meetings with all of them to discuss it, that way if they have patients that go through it, they can refer to me and they can call if they want.  But even then, if they don’t tell their patients, I am nowhere.

I can’t put up flyers since that would be a little morbid, so I am wondering if I should just start the support group and work through that.  Word of mouth has always done really well with me getting clients or people to call with questions, but most people don’t like to talk about miscarriage (which *really* needs to change!) so that would be hard to spread around.

I am still working on logistics for it all, and I know once I get all this up and running or at least have an idea on how to do it, it will all come together, but I am just at a loss for most of the ideas still.

I will be posting more on this as I think about it, come up with ideas, but any you all have, I would love to hear!

I am really really excited about this shift, and cannot wait to get started.  This is needed so much more than most people realize!

The 414 Ounce Donation

Sunday was the one month anniversary of Tyrion’s birth and death.  (If anyone doesn’t know, my son was born at 13 weeks 5 days on August 5, 2010.  My milk came in three days later and I have been pumping to donate this milk).

This weekend we went up to northern Utah to hang out with my family during Labor Day.  One of the mamas that I talked to about donating my milk lived up there, and my freezer was filling up very rapidly.  We didn’t know when they could come down or we could meet for me to drop off the milk, but this was perfect.  I was able to drive up there, and then drop it off at their house when they were home, that way we didn’t have to meet anywhere, and I was only 20 miles away from them.

In my freezer, by the time I needed to pack the milk, even the green crate on top was more than half full.

I did a trial packing of my cooler to see how much of my 450 ounce stash would fit in it, and I was so excited that on my first pack I was able to get 392.5 ounces!!  There was still a bit of room left, but I didn’t know how big or how much room the dry ice would take, but I figured I could fit 400 ounces in it very easily.

I unpacked it and then repacked it again right before we left so the milk would be at its coldest.  I had about 30 ounces of just colostrum, so I made sure that was tightly packed on the bottom so even if the top thawed, this would stay frozen for a few days.

I packed it Saturday and was able to fit 401 ounces of milk, plus have room for two pounds of dry ice, since it was packed so tightly.  My grandma also has a deep freeze, so I knew I only needed to make it to her house and then we could just drop the cooler right in until I went to the mama’s house to give it to her.

We had planned to meet Saturday night after she got off work, but everything got really busy, so we decided to meet Sunday after I got back from my hike and her first son took his nap.

We didn’t get back from our hike until 2:30 pm, and then I had to shower, pump, eat and by then it was 3:30.  Right after I was done eating, she gave me a call that her son was up and asked where we wanted to meet.  I didn’t want her to have to drive, then have us transfer the milk to her cooler, then her freezer, so I offered to just drive to her house since it wasn’t far, and we would be there in about a half hour.

We only got lost once (because my husband was giving me the directions and he told me to turn before we were supposed to haha), but we got there in one piece with the milk still frozen.  It helped that it was only a half hour away haha.

And, she opened the door, and I could finally give her a huge hug!!  I had never met her before, but her story is absolutely amazing (if she lets me I will post a link to her blog so you all can read it.  She is awe inspiring!!).  I just wanted to cry, it just felt so right being there that day.

She was able to fit all the milk  in her freezer until they could go over and put it in their deep freeze, but since I had pumped Saturday, my total donation was 414 ounces!!  There were 91 storage bags, and they looked so big in her freezer.  I really hope they last her special boy at least a few months!

We chatted for a few more minutes, and then my husband and I went back to my grandma’s.

I know a lot of people don’t believe in providence or God, but I do, and I know that he made this so it happened on September 5, 2010 for a reason.  Yes, I was with family and I was having a good time, but this was what I needed.

Even through the burial and pumping and other things, it never felt like it was complete.  I never felt that there was anything good ever going to come out of this.

And Sunday, I realized I was very wrong.

My son was able to help me after his death by helping another family.

I know he was there with me, and I will never forget the peace I felt when I was watching her fill her freezer.  Never again will I doubt that good can come from bad.

My son helped me do something I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.

And for that, I know that this was the reason he had to pass early.  This was the reason I carried and birthed him.

He needed a body and a spirit, and then he needed to help this little boy.

I think Tyrion will always be remembered because of this.

And I will never forget how I felt.