Needles in my Nips

!*!*!TMI Warning!*!*!

Well hello thrush. How very nice of you to show up. You feel like needles in my nipples. You’re welcome to leave sooner rather than later…

So here I am…sitting out on my back patio topless…sunning my nipples. I read that helps. I’m thinking the heat is stimulating my let down reflex a little because I’m dripping. I’ve got blankets lining the patio for privacy. Yay motherhood. The first of many glorious things I’m sure.  

There are times when I see myself in situations and think “This is so weird it’s funny!!” and “Well… I never imagined I’d be doing this! But here I am!”. And then I think about if someone saw me or took a picture of me. They would be thinking “What the fuck is she doing?” HA! This is one of those times. Though this pretty much sucks, I’m happy to have noticed the good things in the situation.

Good thing #1 – I didn’t continue to think this is ‘normal’.  I thought maybe this pain was normal or perhaps due to using incorrect sizes on my breastpump. I figured soon I’d find the right size and the pain would stop, but I tried every size and the pain continued. Finally, on Saturday morning, I called the Le Leche League Lady to get more input on where Samson and I could go next. Eventually, I would like to try nursing again, but the pain was just too much right now. I couldn’t even imagine trying to breastfeed if this condition didn’t get better. It had to get better, right? She mentioned thrush so I came home and looked that up. Yup! I self-diagnosed that quickly!  

Good thing #2 – Good people.  The book said there is an over the counter remedy, Gentian violet. I called the Downs drug-store. No luck. I called S&S. They didn’t have it. I couldn’t bare the thought of going all weekend without something to help. I asked if the pharmacist was in. Yes! He was!! Thanks for working on Saturday!! It was pretty strange telling someone you know about the fungal infection on your boobs…but whatever – the whole world knows now. He suggested I call the ER to see if I could get a prescription. I did! The nurses were great! They called the doctor and called me back right away to let know it was being sent over. It was 12:30 and the pharmacy called back to let me know they got it and they close at 1. Crap! My mom had just left Ellsworth and was planning to swing by on her way through. We made it work. 

For the little things like that, I’m grateful for Good Thing #3 – Small Town Life – where people are willing to help people out!

Good Thing #4 – Samson doesn’t have it. This condition is easily passed between baby and mama. I’m thinking we lowered the risk because I went strictly to pumping and bottle feeding for various reasons. The first few times I chose to do that, I felt like a failure. Now I see it as a blessing.

Good Thing #5 – Less noticeable tan lines.  

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So Thankful for the Rain

No – I’m not a farmer.  Nor do I have grass planted this year.  I am thankful for the rain because God knew I needed my husband today.  We didn’t get much, but just enough that he didn’t work today.  I’m sitting here being a slave to the breast pump, power pumping to try and increase supply.  The baby is actually sleeping and Drew is in the back bedroom playing his guitar and singing.  In this moment, I am happy.  I just pumped more than I ever have and it’s so calming hearing Drew play and sing.

Samson tricked me last night.  Two times during the night, he fell right back asleep and I was able to lay him down and go right to bed.  I was hoping to do the same this morning at 5 am, but he had other plans.  Clearly, it was time to get up.  As my husband kissed me goodbye to go to work, I was weeping a little and whining “I just want to sleep!”.  Only weeping, not sobbing.  That’s progress!  He returned home around 8:30 when Samson and I were napping in the recliner in the nursery.  Thank God.  

After Samson ate again, Drew and I decided we were hungry.  We decided we would both LOVE to go to Hebrews for breakfast, but felt it was a little risky.  We called the order in to go.  The drive to Glen Elder and back almost felt like a date and the coffee was SO GOOD!  We flipped on The Price is Right and ate our breakfast.  Best date ever!

Today he’s been helping me around the house here and there and truthfully, it’s just calming to have him home.  He sterilized the bottles, emptied the trash, changed one big ‘ol dirty diaper and helped me make homemade ice cream.  That man! He’s just so amazing!  I cannot count how many times during the day when I think to myself “How does anyone single parent?  I am so incredibly blessed to have such a loving and serving husband!”

Holy Tits Breastfeeding is Hard

Samson is 3 weeks and a day old today.  Physically having a baby was hard, but I was prepared for that.  I knew it would be no piece of cake.  I was ready for the most exhausting workout of my life.  I was not, however, prepared for breastfeeding to be this hard.

I’d read some about it and Carol had given me some information on it, which I briefly looked over.  It seemed from what I read that this was going to be a ‘natural’ thing.  I mistakenly interpreted ‘natural’ for ‘easy’.  So many emotions are stirred up with this process.  Inadequacy.  Failure.  Stubbornness and an attitude of “I can do this”.  Excitement.

Everything you read nowadays gears you toward breastfeeding and how superior it is to formula.  Of course, I want my baby to get the very best!  But not only that, I want to be the one who comforts him.  It’s just something that I saw myself doing when I became a mom.

During our first three days at home, I tried every little tactic they showed us in the hospital.  Each time we tried to feed him while we were there, we got different advice from different nurses.  Each time, it was quite a stressful situation.  Samson was so worked up he wouldn’t eat.  I would calm him down and he would go right to sleep.  Not knowing any better, we thought perhaps if he was sleeping, he was content.  I started getting concerned that he was sleeping too much, not eating enough and that he hadn’t peed or pooped very much.  

“Don’t give them a pacifier, it’ll cause nipple confusion.”  “You don’t need a nipple shield unless you have inverted nipples.  So try and stay away from that.”  “You can’t force feed a breastfed baby.” “Just kind of stick is head on there even if he’s wailing.”  etc.

After our weekend in the Beloit hospital, things seemed to go better.  By this point, we just needed to get some fluids in him, so we introduced a bottle.  I would pump, then try and nurse him, then give him the bottle with the remaining breast milk.  Was I producing enough for him?  Was I pumping too much before feeding him?  I felt inadequate; like I could not provide for my baby.

I called the volunteer for the Mitchell County Le Leche League and spoke with her quite a bit.  She offered some more advice that I tried and it seemed to help a little.

One afternoon last week, Drew came home one early afternoon to a sobbing wife.  I’d just gotten Samson to sleep, but only after pumping and feeding him the bottle.  He would resist me each time I tried to nurse him.  I felt so rejected.  I wanted him to be comforted by me!  Not the dang bottle.

Another rough night,  I had a fever and was exhausted.  Samson would eat, but it would take nearly an hour to get him to settle down and he was still kind of showing signs of hunger.  I broke down and we supplemented with formula.  And the waterworks came again.  I felt like a failure.

Yesterday, Sam and I went to a lunch and learn event at Heart Choices for breastfeeding.  Hannah told me her story and why she’s passionate about breastfeeding.  I told her about our experience and the problems we were having.  I told her I would have probably given up by now if I wasn’t so stubborn!  I want this to work!!  After we watched a short video, I was able to stay and nurse him there.  It was still pretty rough, but the video and Hannah had provided some new ideas to try.  Sometimes, I think what seems to help the most is being encouraged by another mom who has been there.  My husband is supportive, but encouragement is different coming from another mom.  It’s much more calming.

I was very somber yesterday, as my husband described.  Today, I am happy to finally get to the last emotion described.  Excitement.  Samson and I are both a little calmer since yesterday and I’m doing my very best to keep our nursing time stress-less.  I even moved our spot from the chair to the couch because I felt stress was associated with that chair!  Our feedings last night were better and today he latched on very quickly!! YAY!!!  We’ve now gone through a few feedings without the bottle at all.  I’m so excited and praying that this continues.  I feel like things could change any minute so Samson and I decided we’d start saying a mealtime prayer each time he eats.  Sure doesn’t hurt to have God help us through this!

 

Samson’s First Few Days

My heart is so full of gratitude.

Looking out the east-facing hallway window this morning, I caught a glimpse of the brightest star.  Chances are, it was actually a planet.  Back in high school, one of my good friends told me that the really bright stars that don’t twinkle are planets.  Planet or star, it held my attention.  I snuggled my new babe and remembered the morning of the day we first knew about him.  How I’d prayed and wished for him as I laid on our front patio that morning.  This morning, Samson and I gazed at the stars together, and I thanked God for such a beautiful blessing.

We’re slowly adjusting to this new life of ours.  Boy, the first few days were rough.  We got home from the hospital on Wednesday and on Friday we called to see if the doctor could see us that day.  Samson was showing signs of jaundice.  Fussy, Lethargic, and I thought he was looking a little yellow.   Both Thursday and Friday morning, I passed him off to Drew in tears after being up trying to feed him unsuccessfully.  I was exhausted and at a loss of what to do.  Thankfully, God blessed me with a husband who simply asked his mom.  Per her recommendation, we called the doctor.

Our appointment was scheduled at 12:30 and they were very quick to see us.  We spent the next three hours with the doctor and nurses helping us with breastfeeding.  At least once, the doctor actually ran to her house to grab some things to show me.  She called a nurse over from the hospital to help and that nurse called another nurse.  By the end of it all, Samson had finally eaten and everyone in the room had touched my boobs.  They pricked his heel for a blood test for jaundice.  We left to go grab something to eat while we waited for a call with the results.  The results showed a bilirubin level of 16 and Samson was admitted to the Beloit Hospital.

We headed home so I could grab a few things and try to feed him again.  In Samson’s room, I sat in the rocking chair sobbing and pumping.  Drew held our screaming baby and did his best to try and console us both.  How does anyone do this on their own??  On top of that disaster, our air conditioner started leaking and the water was pooling up on the floor and soaking the sheetrock.  Finally, we made it back to the hospital, got checked in and settled.  The nurses placed a goofy looking mask on Samson and stuck him under the bili-light.  I thought it would be best for Drew to go home and get some rest away from his two crying humans.

The hospital stay was certainly a blessing in disguise.  The night nurse specialized in post-partum care and she was absolutely wonderful.  She came in and woke me up each time I needed to nurse and helped us through it.  Each time we worked with Sam, she added in little tidbits of information.  I was able to really sleep hard in the few hours between feedings because I knew she was coming in and I didn’t have to worry about waking myself up.  It was also super nice to just have someone there to talk to.  I learned a lot about Courtney that night and it was refreshing to have a conversation about something other than the baby.

Mom and Drew showed up at the hospital on Saturday morning around 8am.  They switched on and off keeping us company.  Samson was doing much better by the time the doctor came in but he still had to poop before we could go home.  That happened around 7pm Saturday evening and who knew we could all be so excited about a big ‘ol poop!!  I texted Drew a picture of it.  I’m sure he loved that.  We decided to stay another night and Mom stayed with us.

I thought we’d be able to just wake up in the morning and head home, but that wasn’t the case.  We had to wait for the doctor to come, which didn’t happen until about noon.  By then it was time to nurse again so it was 1pm when we were checking out.  We pulled up to the house and I needed a little space and a little normal.  Drew and I went for a short walk together and afterwards, I put my podcast on and tidied up the house.  Ahhhh….

We went back to the doctor on Tuesday for a check-up and all was well!  Samson even decided to show off his skills and pee all over the clinic bed while we changed him.  It was the classic pee up in the air move.  Thanks dude!

That evening, I spoke with a volunteer for the Le Leche League here in Mitchell County.  She gave me some more helpful feeding tips.  After I spoke with her, I was able to just calm down a little more and I feel like our nursing sessions have been much more relaxed.  Things are not necessarily where I’d like them to be at this point, but it’s so much better than it was!  Hopefully, with a little more work and different techniques, we’ll get the hang of things.  Clearly, neither I or Samson have that instinctive skill that the books speak of when it comes to breastfeeding.

We will keep praying for this to click for us.  Then we go ahead and pray for all breastfeeding moms and babies!  I like to think that when Samson and I are together – which is all the time at this point – my prayers are his prayers too.  That’s two humans praying – which gives us better chances, right?

The Flowery Dress with Pockets

I remember buying this dress.  I bought it with you (Drew) in mind.  

IMG_1157The night before I left to study abroad in Prague in 2009, I slept on the couch in the living room of my apartment.  My apartment next to your apartment.  You sent me a text that said something along the lines of “When you get back, can I take you on a real date?”.  My heart jumped.  It always seemed to a little around you.

Over the next few months, we talked a little.  Through Facebook messages and through Skype a little.  I wish I still had those messages!  The time difference was always kind of funny.  I remember one weekend morning about 8:00 my time, you were just coming home from the bars and decided to call me.  I was awake and you didn’t expect me to answer and said “oh…I was going to leave you a message!”  I told you I could hang up if you wanted!!  So instead we talked for a bit about who knows what.

Back to the dress.  At some point, you asked me to go to a wedding with you over the summer.  I was so excited and wanted to get the perfect dress to be your date.  This is the one I chose.  From Zara.  It had pockets for my lipgloss.

Purpose?

For whatever reason – I always like to start with where I am.  I feel like when I read through it later, it takes me back to what I was doing at that time.

7:08am Kitchen Island.  Ate my eggs; now drinking coffee.

    This morning was purposeful and happy.  I drug myself out of bed after pondering going back to sleep or not.  I decided it would be a happier day if I just got up, so I did.  I liked the workout today and it felt good.  It was measurable, and I like that.  Everyone rushes out of the gym in the morning – off to start their day.  I typically stay and stretch and it was nice to talk to KC for a little bit too.  Human interaction! YAY!  I headed home, hopped in for a quick shower and started breakfast.  While eating my eggs & avocado, I read more of my bible study book Walking with Purpose.  Why didn’t I think of this yesterday?  When I felt like my life was so purpose-less!?!  Probably because I was an emotional disaster and it wouldn’t have sunk in yesterday anyways.  God purposely brought this to me this morning.
    I read the sub-title; OBSTACLE #3: I DON’T KNOW IF HE REALLY UNDERSTANDS HOW HARD MY LIFE IS.  I thought Yea. Yea. I know He understands how hard my life is.  To think He doesn’t is just a little ridiculous.  As I read the next 8 paragraphs, I marked and starred and underlined practically all of it.  He certainly understood what was going on yesterday…which is why He brought me this today and intentionally not yesterday.
    The section started with a short story of Mother Teresa and how although she did such great work in lives of others, there were times where she experienced times of loneliness, doubt, and abandonment.  How in the world could this be considering all the great things she did?  The truth is – even though most of us aren’t out doing what Mother Teresa did, we all experience doubt – wondering if what we’re doing has any purpose at all.  Being all alone for a solid 12 hours yesterday, I was thinking this all day!  How could I possibly be impacting the lives of others and why do I care so much?  I was an emotional wreck by the time my husband got home.  God bless that wonderful man!!
    “Satan sees your weariness as a perfect opportunity to discourage you and tempt you to give up.  He wants you to give in to despair. One of his most effective tactics is to whisper in your ear, “is that all you are doing?  What value does that have in the big scheme of things?”… He will try to convince you that because you aren’t doing more, God isn’t pleased with you.  But nothing could be further from the truth.”
    This makes me wonder a little bit.  So – were those thoughts yesterday really mine?  Or were they really not mine?  Am I going crazy and making a big deal out of nothing?  Or is this a push for me to keep trying to find something that fulfills me more?
    “You need to accept yourself as God sees you – as his beloved daughter.  Your dignity does not come from what you accomplish or from what you do.”  
    As an achiever, I think this is hard for me.  It’s hard for me to find where my identity comes from.  During my first few years out of college, I pulled so much satisfaction out of being great at my job.  Though I’m still good at it, after more than 6 years of doing the same thing, that satisfaction has rapidly decreased.  Though I am good at motivating myself to keep doing it well, where do I find purpose?  How can I stop feeling ‘stuck’?  How can I grow? Where do I go from here?
    “What God calls you to do, he does not expect you to do on your own strength.”  
    Great!! Becuase most of the time I have no idea what He’s calling me to do!
    “He will give you the strength and the endurance that you need for every task, for every day.”
    Also Great!  Because sometimes I have no idea what I’m doing with myself!

The Early Christmas Surprise

Our original plan:  To make your gender a Christmas surprise.  I had it all planned out!  We would keep it a surprise to Drew and I both, then open this little box on Christmas that would have a little pink or a little blue pacifier in it!  Our appointment was on a Monday and our awesome nurse removed one of the two pacifiers from the box and sent Carmen a snapchat telling her what you are so she could get some little cards ordered for us to send out by the end of the week!  I Christmas wrapped the box up as soon as she brought it back to us!  Your dad hated this plan from the beginning.  I am ornery.  And truthfully, just thought it was funny to watch your dad squirm with impatience.

    What really happened:  Tuesday morning I woke up and had dreamt about this little box ALL NIGHT.  In THREE different dreams!!  Two of them were about the little box with the ONE pacifier in it.  In another dream, we had the sonogram pictures, but you weren’t a baby!  You were some sort of tiny reindeer or something!  We used them as clues to try and figure out your gender, but we never did!  This little box and CD of ultrasound pictures sat under the Christmas tree all day.  I was half tempted to go to LHS over my Lunch so Drew and I could just open the box!  Carmen said don’t do it!  I was laughing at myself never thinking it would be this hard to wait just 6 days.  Maybe what got to me was the fact that other people knew and we didn’t know, plus all we had to do was open the box!  After making Drew promise not to tell ANYONE – not even a “don’t tell Shannon I told you” to Greg – we opened the little box Tuesday night!  (Carmen don’t be mad! :)).  Drew opened it and I had the best time watching him open it and seeing his reaction!  

The next week we sent out our Holiday scratch cards!  It was so much fun seeing calls, texts and snapchats come in from all of our friends and family who had received them!!!