The Baby Blues
Â Â Â By Elizabeth Pantley, author of Gentle Baby Care
I remember when I was lying in my hospital bed after the birth of my fourth child, Coleton. I had endured a full day of labor and a difficult delivery (who says the fourth one comes easily?), and I was tired beyond explanation. After the relief of seeing my precious new child came an uncontrollable feeling to close my eyes and sleep. As my husband cradled newborn Coleton, I drifted off; my parting thoughts were, â€œI canâ€™t do this. I donâ€™t have the energy. How will I ever take care of a baby?â€ Luckily for me, a few hours of sleep, a supportive family, and lucky genes were all it took to feel normal again. But as many as 80% of new mothers experience a case of the baby blues that lasts for weeks after the birth of their baby. This isnâ€™t something new mothers can control Â¾ thereâ€™s no place for blame. The most wonderful and committed mothers, even experienced mothers of more than one child, can get the baby blues.
What are baby blues?
Your babyâ€™s birth has set into motion great changes in your body and in your life, and your emotions are reacting in a normal way. Dramatic hormonal shifts occur when a body goes from pregnant to not pregnant in a manner of minutes. Add to this your new title (Mommy!) and the responsibilities that go with it, and your blues are perfectly understandable. Youâ€™re not alone; this emotional letdown during the first few weeks is common after birth. Just remember that your state of mind has a physical origin and is exacerbated by challenging circumstances Â¾ and you and your body will adjust to both soon.
How do I know if I have the baby blues?
Every woman who experiences the baby blues (also called postpartum blues) does so in a different way. The most common symptoms include:
- Anxiety and nervousness
- Sadness or feelings of loss
- Stress and tension
- Impatience or a short temper
- Bouts of crying or tearfulness
- Mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble sleeping or excessive tiredness
- Not wanting to get dressed, go out, or clean up the house
Could it be more than just the baby blues?
If youâ€™re not sure whether you have the blues ask your doctor or midwife, and donâ€™t feel embarrassed: This is a question that health care providers hear often and with good reason. If youâ€™re feeling these symptoms to a degree that disrupts your normal level of function, if your baby is more than a few weeks old, or if you have additional symptoms Â¾ particularly feelings of resentment or rejection toward your baby or even a temptation to harm him Â¾ you may have more than the blues, you may have postpartum depression. This is a serious illness that requires immediate treatment. Please call a doctor or professional today. If you canâ€™t make the call, then please talk to your partner, your mother or father, a sibling or friend and ask them to arrange for help. Do this for yourself and for your baby. If you canâ€™t talk about it, hand this page it to someone close to you. Itâ€™s that important. You do not have to feel this way, and safe treatment is available, even if youâ€™re breastfeeding.
How can I get rid of the blues?
While typical baby blues are fairly brief and usually disappear on their own, you can do a few things to help yourself feel better and get through the next few emotional days or weeks:
Â· Give yourself time. Grant yourself permission to take the time you need to become a mother. Pregnancy lasts nine months, the adoption process can take even longer, and your babyâ€™s actual birth is only a moment Â¾ but becoming a mother takes time. Motherhood is an immense responsibility. In my opinion, it is the most overwhelming, meaningful, incredible, transforming experience of a lifetime. No wonder it produces such emotional and physical change!
No other event of this magnitude would ever be taken lightly, so donâ€™t feel guilty for treating this time in your life as the very big deal it is. Remind yourself that itâ€™s okay (and necessary) to focus on this new aspect of your life and make it your number-one priority. Tending to a newborn properly takes time Â¾ all the time in his world. So, instead of feeling guilty or conflicted about your new focus, put your heart into getting to know this new little person. The world can wait for a few weeks.
Consider as objectively as you can just what you have accomplished: You have formed a new, entire person inside your own body and brought him forth; you have been party to a miracle. Or, if you’ve adopted,Â you’veÂ chosenÂ to invite a miracle into your life and became an instant mother. You deserve a break and some space in which to just exist with your amazing little one, unfettered by outside concerns.
Â· Talk to someone who understands. Talk to a sibling, relative or friend with young children about what you are feeling. Someone who has experienced the baby blues can help you realize that they are temporary, and everything will be fine. A confidante can also serve as a checkpoint who can encourage you to seek help if he or she perceives that you need it.
Â· Reach out and get out.Â Simply getting out (if you are physically able and okayed for this by your health care provider) and connecting with people at large can go a long way toward reorienting your perspective. Four walls can close in very quickly, so change the scenery and head to the mall, the park, the library, a coffeehouse Â¾ whatever place you enjoy. Youâ€™ll feel a sense of pride as strangers ooh and ahh over your little one, and your baby will enjoy the stimulation, too.
Â· Join a support group. Joining a support group, either in person or online, can help you sort through your feelings about new motherhood. Take care to choose a group that aligns with your core beliefs about parenting a baby. As an example, if you are committed to breastfeeding, but most other members of the group are bottlefeeding, this may not be the best place for you, since your breastfeeding issues wonâ€™t be understood and you wonâ€™t find many helpful ideas among this group. If you have multiples, a premature baby, or a baby with special needs, for example, seek out a group for parents with babies like yours. And within those parameters, look for a group with your same overall parenting beliefs. Just because you all have twin babies doesnâ€™t mean you will all choose to parent them in the same way, so try to find like-minded new friends.
Â· Tell Daddy what he can do to help. Itâ€™s very important that your spouse or partner be there for you right now. He may want to help you, but he may be unsure of how. Here are a few things that he can do for you Â¾ show him this list to help him help you:
- Understand. Itâ€™s critical that your spouse or partner feel that you understand that she is going through a hormonally driven depression that she cannot control Â¾ and that she is not â€œjust being grumpy.â€ Tell her you know this is normal, and that sheâ€™ll be feeling better soon. Simply looking over this list and using some of the ideas will tell her a lot about your commitment to (and belief in) her.
- Let her talk about her feelings. Knowing she can talk to you about her feelings without being judged or criticized will help her feel much better.
- Tend to the baby. Taking care of your baby so Mommy can sleep or take a shower can give her a breath of fresh air. Have her nurse the baby and then you can take him for a walk (using a sling will keep Baby happy) or go on an outing. A benefit for you is that most babies love to be out and about and will enjoy this special time with you.
- Step in to protect her. If sheâ€™s overwhelmed with visitors, kindly explain to company that she needs a lot of rest. Help her with whatever household duties usually fall to her (or get someone to help her) and do what you can to stay on top of yours. Worry about the houseâ€™s cleanliness or laundry upkeep will do her no good whatsoever. If relatives offer to take the baby for a few hours, or to help with the house, take them up on it.
- Tell her sheâ€™s beautiful. Most woman feel depressed about the way they look after childbirth Â¾ because most still look four months pregnant! After changing so greatly to accommodate a babyâ€™s development, a womanâ€™s body takes months to regain any semblance of normalcy. Be patient with both her body and her feelings about it. Tell her what an amazing thing sheâ€™s accomplished. Any compliments that acknowledge her unique beauty are sure to be greatly appreciated!
- Tell her you love the baby. Donâ€™t be bashful about gushing over the baby. Mommy loves to hear that youâ€™re enraptured with this new little member of your family.
- Be affectionate, but be patient about sex. With all that sheâ€™s struggling with physically and emotionally, weeks may pass before sheâ€™s ready for sex (even if sheâ€™s had an OK after her checkup.) That doesnâ€™t mean she doesnâ€™t love you or need you Â¾ she just needs a little time to get back to the physical aspects of your sexual relationship.
- Tell her you love her. Even when she isnâ€™t feeling down, she needs to hear this Â¾ and right now itâ€™s more important for her health and well-being than ever.
- Get support for you, too. Â Becoming a father is a giant step in your life. Open up to a friend about how it feels to be a Dad, and do things that you enjoy, too. Taking care of yourself will help you take care of your new family.
Accept help from others. Â Family and friends are often happy to help if you just ask. When people say, â€œLet me know if I can do anythingâ€ they usually mean it. So, go ahead and ask kindly for what you want, whether itâ€™s watching your baby so that you can nap, taking your older child to the park, helping you make a meal, or doing some laundry.
Get some sleep. Right now, sleeplessness will enhance your feelings of depression. So, take every opportunity to get some shuteye. Nap when the baby sleeps, go to bed early, and sleep in later in the morning if you can. If you are co-sleeping, take advantage of this special time when you donâ€™t have to get up out of bed to tend to your baby. And if your babyâ€™s sleep patterns are distressing to you then reach out to an experienced parent for help, or check out my book The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night.
Donâ€™t fret about perfection right now. Household duties are not your top priority now Â¾ in fact, nothing aside from getting to know your baby is. Remember that people are coming to see your baby, not your house, so enjoy sharing your baby with visitors without worrying about a little clutter or dust. Simplify, prioritize, and delegate routine tasks, errands, and obligations.
Enjoy your job. If you work outside the home, then view your time at your job as an opportunity to refresh and prepare yourself to enjoy your baby fully when you are at home. Go ahead Â¾ talk about your baby and share pictures with your co-workers. Chances are, theyâ€™ll love to hear about your new little one. This is a nice and appropriate way of indulging your natural instincts to focus on your baby when you canâ€™t be with her.
Get into exercising. With your health care providerâ€™s approval, start exercising with short walks or swims. Exercise will help you feel better in many ways both physical and emotional. Even if you didnâ€™t exercise before you had your baby, this is a great time to start. Studies prove that regular exercise helps combat depression, and it will help you regain your pre-baby body much more quickly.
Eat healthful foods. When the body isnâ€™t properly nourished, spirits can flag Â¾ particularly when the stress of recovery makes more nutritional demands. If you are breastfeeding, a nourishing diet is important for both you and your baby. Healthful foods, eaten in frequent meals, can provide the nutrition you need to combat the baby blues and give you the energy you need to handle your new role. And donâ€™t forget to drink water and other healthy fluids, especially if youâ€™re nursing! Dehydration can cause fatigue and headaches.
Take care of yourself. Parenting a new baby is an enormous responsibility, but things will fall into place for you and everything will seem easier given time. During this adjustment phase, try to do a few things for yourself. Simple joys like reading a book, painting your nails, going out to lunch with a friend or other ways in which you nourish your spirit can help you feel happier.
Love yourself. You are amazing: Youâ€™ve become mother to a beautiful new baby. Youâ€™ve played a starring role in the production of an incredible miracle. Be proud of what youâ€™ve accomplished, and take the time to know and enjoy the strong, capable, multifaceted person you are becoming.
This article is a copyrighted excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)
The Sleepless Challenge: Battling PostPartum Fatigue
By: Demetria Zinga
For me, it was â€œwelcome to motherhoodâ€. Ready or not, I was in for a wonderful experience. But my first challenge was to overcome the first few months of literally no sleep. It was my first baby, and I felt the pressure of doing everything â€œjust rightâ€. I wanted to be a perfect mom. But I quickly learned that parenting was going to be a lifelong journey and that I would make plenty of mistakes along the way.
After stumbling out of bed frequently for middle of the night feedings Iâ€™d wake up around 6 a.m. to my newborn crying a joyful solo for yet another feeding. After about three weeks of this, and then another month I was completely worn out! Following a cesarean section, I immediately thought I could be Supermom, Grand Interior Decorator, and the House Cleaning Company all at once, and of course I thought I could simultaneously juggle the responsibilities of a baby that I was so certain would sleep through most of the day and night.
After a few restless nights, and having noticed that my sweet infant was rarely sleeping at all, be it night or day, I began to really wonder about her. Was this going to be the norm? Did infants really stay awake for hours at a time demanding a feeding every hour and half? Was I doing something wrong? I couldnâ€™t help but wonder if this pattern would ever end. Iâ€™d read all the many parenting articles that tell you when your infant should stop waking up so frequently and begin sleeping peacefully through the night. Well, I dare say that my little one kept waking up again and again for nights on end. After a few months I began to think I was the only mother out there suffering from severe sleep deprivation! Of course, I knew that I wasnâ€™t REALLY the only one, but it sure hits home when it happens to you.
My young one is now an active toddler, and things have definitely improved as far as her sleeping habits go, but I learned quite a few things during those seemingly never ending nights of sleeplessness and days of extreme fatigue. If I had to do it all over again, I definitely wouldnâ€™t have tried to be the Grand Interior Designer and the House Cleaning Company (and following a c-section at that)! Here are some handy tips that I should have used and will keep in mind when I have my next baby:
â€¢ Rest, rest, rest! Okay, it sounds trite, and while pregnant youâ€™ve probably heard everyone in the world tell you to rest, but once youâ€™ve given birth itâ€™s even more important that you still adhere to the resting phase the first few days you are home from the hospital. I canâ€™t even begin to explain how much rest is needed after a cesarean sectionâ€¦but in either type of delivery, your body needs time to recuperate, so take it easy. What does resting mean? It could mean using paper plates so there are fewer dishes to wash. It could mean having a friend or relative come sit with you a few hours a day and help you around the house (which is especially helpful if you have other younger children). And if you have older children, it could mean having them help out with more chores around the house. Most of all, it means to just let some things go. The dusting doesnâ€™t have to be done right awayâ€¦perhaps it can wait a few more days, or weeks even.
â€¢ People say to sleep while the baby is sleeping. Well, that didnâ€™t work for me, mostly because I was attempting to get things done around the house that I couldnâ€™t do efficiently when my daughter was awake. So hereâ€™s what I say: REST while the baby is sleeping. Sit down, take a break. Schedule that time, and give yourself at least 30 minutes to do absolutely nothing.
â€¢ Thicken babyâ€™s milk. I breastfed my daughter for several months. In the beginning nurses were telling me that breastfed babies need to get fed more often because breast milk apparently â€œgoes right throughâ€ their systems. After my daughter was a few weeks old they gave me the go-ahead on thickening her breast milk with rice cereal (about a teaspoon full). It did wonders for her nightly waking ritual. Instead of waking up every hour and half she slept about two hours longer than usual. I say thatâ€™s good for mom and baby! Of course, check with your pediatrician first, and again, there are differing views on thickening babyâ€™s milk, so do (or donâ€™t do) what you feel is best.
â€¢ Breastfeeding mothers take a break. For mothers who nurse, I highly recommend pumping so the baby can be given a bottle by other members of the family while you rest up. Breastfeeding is a demanding job and takes quite a bit of energy reserves. Did you know you burn approximately 500 calories during one nursing session? Thatâ€™s equivalent to the amount of calories I burned on the treadmill a few days ago. So thereâ€™s another reason for you to take a breather.
â€¢ Take your prenatal vitamins. Keep taking these. Youâ€™ll need them, especially during this time of recovery. Your body needs all the minerals and vitamins necessary to boost your immune system and promote overall health. Youâ€™ll be glad you took them daily.
â€¢ Continue to eat for two. If you are nursing, this is an especially important concept, since youâ€™ll need to eat enough to keep your milk reserves flowing. Itâ€™s very easy for postpartum women to want to begin dieting right after giving birth. However, the healthiest choice is to simply continue the intake of nutritious foods, and to eat enough to keep your energy levels up, because you will definitely need energy in the wee hours of the morning! In addition, doctors recommend that postpartum, nursing women intake anywhere from 2000-2400 calories per day. So eat, and eat healthy.
â€¢ Keep others in your life. Donâ€™t ever feel alone or isolated. If you donâ€™t have relatives nearby who can help, seek for help within your community: churches, civic groups and non profit organizations, as well as friends. In addition, there are a host of online communities and discussion groups specifically geared toward pregnancy and parenting issues that are helpful for new moms.
Most of all, do the things you like to do most: read, meditate, write, and work on crafts. Do something you truly enjoy every day for as much as you can. With time, your baby will start sleeping through the night, and one day you will realize that you can finally catch your â€œzâ€™sâ€.
Article Source: http://www.thewahmshack.com/articledirectory
About The Author: Demetria Zinga is a Navy wife and mother of a fun preschooler. The founder of Christian Ladies Connect www.christianladies.net/ and Christian Ladies Talk Radio, a ministerial ezine and online radio podcast for Christian women, she has a passion to help other women.
Thoughts and Feelings of Being a New Mom, Again
By: Alyssa Avant
Sitting here days after giving birth to my second child, my head spins with thoughts, feelings and emotions. I am not sure exactly how a person is suppose to feel after becoming a mother for the second time, Iâ€™m not even sure how she should feel after becoming a mother for the first time. However, I can assure you the two experiences are very different. With my son, I was overprotective, emotional, and scared. I remember coming home from the hospital and wanting everyone to just go away so I could be alone with him, hover over him, and not let anyone else touch him. Visitors came and visitors went, it seemed like theyâ€™d never leave. I remember thinking and so Iâ€™m told even saying out loud, â€œIâ€™m really tired, I think I need a napâ€, in hopes that they would get the hint and leave. My husband says at times I was on the verge of rude, and Iâ€™m not normally a rude person.
This time was different literally hours after giving birth to my second child, a daughter, I had a room full of friends and family, at the hospital I might add and I was literally sitting up in bed laughing my head off at their antics. After coming home, more friends and family flooded in and I just sat back smiling as they ooohed and ahhed over my daughter. It was not until the thought hit me that I was going to be caring for two that I even got the least bit scared. My husband was home for a week therefore; I had not yet experienced trying to do that on my own. However, as soon as the thought hit me, another one did as well, â€œIf she can do it, I can do it.â€ She being all those moms you see in the grocery store, with newborn in the car seat and another child hanging on the end of the basket. I began to get a little more confident, I had completed other difficult tasks in my life, and surely, I can do this.
I have not yet discovered how I will make this all work, being that it is all still very new, however, I know that I will be caught trying to be the best mother I can possibly be.
Article Source: http://www.thewahmshack.com/articledirectory
About The Author: Alyssa Avant is a Christian Author and Speaker who helps moms connect with their daughters. A work at home mom , Alyssa is the founder of Beauty By Design Ministries, www.beautybydesignonline.com Receive a free â€œMy Princess: A Letter from a Kingâ€, a letter from God to your daughter when you sign up for my e-zine. groups.yahoo.com/group/mom-daughter_connection/
Fallon’s Birth and Breastfeeding Story
Here is a great birth and breastfeeding story for you from Karen Clark of Story Time Felts.
FALLON’S BIRTH AND BREASTFEEDING
My husband, Greg, and I kept a journal the day
Fallon was born and the first few weeks of her life so I have many
details written down, but many will come from my own memory of
Because of the baby’s size (predicted 10+ pounds)
and the fact that I was a week overdue, combined with the fact that
my husband’s leave would run out soon, my OB and I mutually agreed to
induce on August 18, 1994, one week after the original August 11 due
date. Since I had stayed in California for the duration of the
pregnancy while Greg was transferred to St. Louis in February, he had
flown out for a month’s leave so he’d be here when the baby came. He
came a week before she was due, hoping she’d be early or at least on
time. Since he only had a month, and 3 or 4 days of it would include
him driving my car back to St. Louis, we really felt the pressure of
time. We had the choice of waiting it out another week, but that
would mean Greg would have had to leave when the baby was only days
old and I would more than likely have had to stay on at Mom’s a week
or so longer. So we opted to induce in order to ensure that Greg
would have almost 2 weeks with the baby and that we’d have time to
make sure everyone was healthy before moving to St. Louis. We planned
on Greg driving back and my Mom and I flying out with the Baby at the
end of August.
On August 18 at 7:30 a.m. we checked in to
Petaluma Valley Hospital. The head nurse was the mother of a high
school classmate of mine, and although the nurse was a strict,
no-nonsense type, she and I hit it off fairly well because we had
something in common to talk about. Her son and I had been friends and
we shared stories back and forth. It was a good diversion throughout
the day, especially when she brought out pictures of her family. I
found out she is a real softie despite her outward appearance.
Once hooked up to the fetal monitor, I was told I
was having fairly strong contractions, but I hadn’t even noticed. I
made some remark like “Those? I didn’t know those were contractions!
They’re nothing!” I had felt very minor cramps that morning, but
nothing I’d have called a contraction. So maybe I would have gone
into labor on my own that day…I’ll never know.
At 8:10, they started the Pitocin, and by 8:20 the
nurse said the contractions were about 2 to 5 minutes apart. At this
point my OB came in and broke my water. It was only as uncomfortable
as a pap smear and I was fascinated by the amount of liquid and how
hot it was. At 8:30 they upped the Pitocin. So far things were going
smoothly and I was looking forward to the long day’s work. At least I
hoped it would only be a day!
At 9:00 I had the first really strong contraction.
It was uncomfortable, but I just made an effort to relax and it was
fine. Greg was totally fascinated by the whole thing and especially
with the fetal monitor. We were really getting excited and having a
good time! We were both in good spirits, although nervous about what
was to come. We could not wait to get our hands on our baby!
My Mom arrived at the hospital at about 9:30 and
stayed until after the baby was born. Early in the pregnancy I asked
her to stay with us during labor and the birth. Since Greg was in St.
Louis for most of the pregnancy, Mom was a big support and even
attended some of the childbirth classes with me. I also felt that
being there would give her an extra closeness to this baby that she
might not get with us moving so far away. She ended up spending most
of the time reading or looking around. Really hung back and waited.
Looking back on it, it must have been pretty boring!
So we went along throughout the day, the
contractions getting stronger and closer together. At one point they
were back to back and a nurse came in and asked why we hadn’t said
something and she turned the Pitocin down a bit. For the most part,
we were left alone all day. The nurses only came in once in a while
to check the monitor and the Pitocin, ask how I was doing etc. I
really liked that. My OB came in once again to see how things were
going. Everything was going as planned. Although the contractions
were strong, we were getting through them by doing our deep breathing
and just trying to relax. I also used a lot of visualization. I just
pictured the baby working hard to move down with each
At about 1:30 p.m. I started feeling very dizzy
and got a bad case of the shakes. Since I tend toward hypoglycemia
and I hadn’t eaten since the liquid breakfast at about 8:00 I
suspected that was what was going on. Up until then I had been
alternating between walking around the room and rocking in the
rocking chair, or just standing, but once I started getting dizzy I
had to sit down. The nurse came in and I asked for something of
substance to eat and she went to get some juice. When she returned,
she very sheepishly said something about maybe now is the time to
consider some pain relief, or maybe something just to take the edge
off. I refused at first, but I knew I was so out of it, and thought
maybe just one shot would be all I would need to get my act together,
so I agreed. At 2 pm I had my first shot of Fentonyl, a narcotic
similar to Demerol. It lasted less than an hour, but it was just
enough to relax me and get rid of the shakes and let me focus. The
contractions were very strong and by a quarter to 3 , I was asking
for another shot. I got it and kept going. At a quarter to 4, I asked
again and I was told no it was too close to pushing. They checked me
and I was 9 cm dilated. I didn’t think I could go on but I kept
thinking about Fallon and how she would arrive very soon.
The nurse said at that point that I could go ahead
and push if I wanted to. Now, looking back, I know I shouldn’t have
because I wasn’t fully dilated and never had the urge to push that
they tell you to expect, but I was so eager to get the baby out that
I did it. Well, I ended up pushing for 2-1/2 hours. I had the most
intense leg cramps imaginable, my ribs felt like they were busting
and I couldn’t reach my legs to hold on. I was in a semi-sitting
position and I had wanted to squat. I could barely breathe because
Fallon was so high on my ribs. The pushing stage overall was far
worse than any part of labor. I have never worked so hard in my life.
In fact, it was so exhausting that I skipped a few contractions and
didn’t push because I needed a break. I don’t think this would have
been possible if I had been really ready and had that undeniable urge
to push. I was pretty oblivious to what was going on, just focusing
on Greg and the baby and pushing with all my might. Finally the nurse
said just one more and the next thing I knew Fallon’s warm wet body
was on my belly. That was the most wonderful feeling in the world! I
was surprised to see her but so happy! I held her to me and told her
how beautiful she was. She was gorgeous. She had a head full of black
curly hair and pudgy round cheeks and the cutest little lips I had
ever seen. I was amazed and I hollered out how wonderful this felt
and that I could have 10 kids! Delirious I know, but I truly felt
that overall it was not too much work or pain for the wonderful
reward I got at the end. Within minutes, Greg whisked her away to my
parents who were both sitting there in awe (Dad joined mom sometime
during the pushing). Greg couldn’t stop crying. He was so happy and
so proud. Everyone was crying, even my father. Greg brought her back
to me and I held her and looked her over some more as they began
stitching me up. Evidently I didn’t tear until the last minute and I
tore pretty badly. I asked if I could nurse her right away and they
wanted me to wait until I had delivered the placenta and they had
stitched me up.
Later on, I found out that Fallon’s shoulders had
been stuck for quite some time. I had no idea this was going on, I
was just pushing away, but my Mom said they were preparing the
Operating Room for an emergency C-Section…They were going to push
her head back in and do a C-Section because she would not come out!
What they ended up trying first was that my OB reached in and grabbed
Fallon by the arm and literally pulled her out of me during that last
push. Fallon’s right arm was weak afterward and we were instructed to
exercise it to help rebuild any pulled muscles/ligaments. Later on
during an exam we noticed a bump of scar tissue on her collar bone
and now know that it was probably broken during the birth. I have a
lot of hard feelings about that part of the birth, but am grateful
not to have had to have a C-Section. I did some research and found
that pushing too soon and being semi-sitting can contribute to
shoulder dystocia. If I had been squatting or on my hands an knees,
she may have been able to turn better and not become lodged in my
pelvis. I’m hoping to avoid that problem with my next child.
Back in the delivery room, I was finally allowed
to nurse Fallon at 7:15 (she was born at 6:38). She latched on right
away and made the cutest little sounds, like she was saying “Ahhhh
I’ve been waiting for this!” She sounded so sweet, like she was
enjoying it so much. It was the second best feeling I have ever had,
next to having her hot little body on my stomach. She fell right to
sleep after that and Greg continued to show her around the room. By
then my Grandmother and brother and sister in law were there, and a
little later aunts and uncles. All together we had almost 2 hours
before anyone from the hospital even took her away to weigh her! They
did the preliminary things in the room, but it was kind of funny
because people were getting ready to go home and no one knew how much
she weighed! I was grateful to have had so much time with her. Greg
and my father accompanied her to the nursery where they did the tests
and gave her a shot. She weighed in at 9 pounds and 4 ounces and was
22 inches long. It seemed like they were gone forever, but Mom kept
me company as I ranted and raved about what a piece of cake the whole
thing had been. She looked at me like I was crazy because I think it
was really hard for her to see me in so much pain, but to me it was
all relative. So we talked about how pretty Fallon was and marveled
at her dark, long hair. It was past her collar! Even though the
nurses and doctors all told us it would fall out, we knew Greg had
Cherokee in him and thought that it would stick. It did!
Back at the room, we held Fallon forever. We were
just so amazed. I ate and tried to nurse her again. She seemed like a
pro. I used the football position because I couldn’t get the hang of
the cradle hold right away. My breasts are fairly large and her head
kept falling down under it. It felt really awkward so I switched to
the football hold with lots of pillows. It was so easy to see her and
make sure she was opening her mouth really wide. It was the best
feeling nursing this tiny little baby. She was very sleepy and would
only nurse a few minutes at a time so I let her rest. We tried to get
some sleep but were too wound up. We just sat and stared at her for
hours! We roomed in 100%. The only time we were separated was when
they took her for a blood test in the middle of the night and Greg
was sound asleep and I was too uncomfortable to go along on my own.
Greg did go with earlier when they took her picture. Other than that
she spent the whole time in one of our arms or, later in the night
when we did think maybe we could sleep, in the bassinet. When she was
in there I had to hold her hand the whole time, or let her suck on my
finger. I don’t think I ever did sleep that night. I did continue to
nurse her every once in a while, but got conflicting advice from
different nurses as to whether I should be waking her up to nurse or
just letting her sleep. So I did both. I wanted to nurse her, but it
was so hard to get her to wake up, so I gave up a few times and she
ended up sleeping for 4 or 5 hours at a time. Between feedings, I
wore breast shells I had bought at about 8 months to help me correct
flat nipples. They worked like a charm and by about 1 week the
problem was corrected permanently.
The next day we were anxious to get home, and
after the pediatrician came at about 4 pm we were allowed to check
out. The pediatrician did say that Fallon had A- blood and that since
mine was O+ she would likely become jaundiced in the next day or so,
which she did. Other than that and the shoulder weakness, she checked
out great. We couldn’t wait to get her home to show off to
At home, we had a bunch of people waiting for us.
I cried uncontrollably as we carried her in the house, thinking about
the reality of us bringing our very own baby home. It was such a
special feeling and at the same time terrifying! We shared her with
everyone and looking back I probably tried too hard to be “back to
normal” too soon. Next time I’m going to hibernate in the bedroom and
get some rest for a few days! I really did feel pretty good
physically, once I sat down! But after a couple of hours I was ready
for everyone to leave, and they didn’t. In fact mom invited everyone
to stay for dinner so I felt pressured to help “entertain.” I ended
up in tears because I wanted to visit but still wanted to just go off
with my baby and be by ourselves. So I went off to nurse frequently,
which continued to go well.
The day after we got home from the hospital, a
nurse came to visit. She checked Fallon’s temperature, asked how I
was feeling etc. We reported that all was well except that she was
keeping us up at night. The nurse advised us to try to “teach” the
baby the difference between night and day by making sure all the
lights were on and window shades open during the day and it was very
dark and quiet at night. Fallon had also become jaundiced by this
time, which we were warned about in the hospital because she and I
have different Rh factors. Before we left the hospital the
pediatrician had told us that if it appears to call her and let her
know and make sure she gets lots of exposure to sunlight. We began
undressing her and putting her bassinet in front of the window for
about 10 minutes a few times a day.
Up until 2 days after she was born, Fallon was a
happy very alert baby. She spent an amazing amount of time staring at
everyone and everything around her. She rarely cried, and when she
did I could nurse her right away and she would settle down. On her
3rd night, she began long screaming spells. We spent hours walking
her, singing to her, trying everything . It was a nightmare to see my
precious angel in such distress for such long periods of time with
nothing I could do to console her. The whole family tried to calm her
down but it would only last for 10 or 20 minutes, around the clock.
It was awful. I called my cousin who had had a colicky baby and she
recommended Mylicon drops. I also read in Dr. Sears’ “The Baby Book”
that cutting out dairy from my diet might help. I called the
pediatrician first thing in the morning and she recommended hot
baths, motion etc. and the drops if I felt they helped. We got the
drops and they did seem to help a little, but now Fallon would start
screaming when I offered her the breast. Greg had written in our
little notebook: “August 22 (4 days old) 10:00 Taking little sucks
then cries.” There are several other entries like this, where she
refuses to nurse or starts then cries. I began pumping to relieve my
engorgement because she wasn’t nursing well and my milk had come in
on the 4th day.
I called La Leche League that Monday and it was
one of the hardest calls I have ever made. I had been to one meeting
prior to having Fallon and was very comfortable with the leaders. But
the thought of calling them made me feel like something was wrong. I
got very nervous and put it off a few hours. When I finally got up my
nerve I described the situation and emphasized that Fallon would cry
when I tried to nurse her. The leader was very helpful in most things
but did say that I should try to get the baby calmed down before I
tried to nurse her, which I had already been doing. I must admit I
was a little frustrated with the leader because I kept saying that
she would start nursing and then cry and the leader kept telling me
to get her to stop crying first and then nurse. But the rest of the
information was wonderful. One of the best things she told me was to
help with engorgement, which I had for about 2 days after the milk
came in. She told me to pour about a cup of water in a disposable
diaper and heat it a little in the microwave to make a hot compress.
That way, you don’t get wet, it’s reheatable, and those little
newborn diapers fit perfectly in a bra. I still tell people about
this. I used that method to encourage a let down so I could express a
little milk to soften the breast so Fallon could latch on. Then in
between feedings I used ice packs.
By the time Fallon was 8 days old, her night time
crying spells and gassiness had subsided, which I attribute to the
elimination of dairy from my diet. She began sleeping better at
night, but was still crying at feedings off and on. By the 8th day we
were starting to get concerned because her wet diapers became less
frequent and she had gone 2 days without a bowel movement. Thinking
this was a normal progression once the meconium had left her system,
we didn’t worry about the lack of bowel movements since she was still
having 6 wet diapers a day. But on that 8th day we decided to call
the doctor and check, since it was a Friday and wanted to be able to
see her if there was a problem. When we called the doctor and
explained the situation to the nurse, she explained that babies can
go anywhere from a day to 5 days without a bowel movement and that
she is probably just getting her digestion in order. We asked could
she be constipated from something in my diet and the nurse said
probably not but we can see how it goes over the weekend. We also
reminded her about the jaundice and she recommended we swing by just
to have the doctor take a look at her. We did do that and the doctor
literally met us in the courtyard, pinched Fallon’s arms and legs and
said it looks great and then went back into the office. I was glad
the jaundice was going away but wished she had spent more time with
us. As far as the bowel movements go, at that point we figured it’s
got to come out some time so we tried not to worry. She had been
nursing for long periods and Greg had written in the journal about
how he heard her swallowing and that it sounded “like someone
drinking milk out of the carton…gulp…gulp…gulp…” so I don’t
think it ever occurred to us that she wasn’t getting enough milk. She
was still fussing when I tried to nurse her, but not every time. I
had written down that she wasn’t nursing as strongly but did it for
longer periods of time. I did check in with LLL again and got ahold
of a different leader this time. I explained about the lack of bowel
movements and that I was concerned maybe Fallon was constipated. The
leader told me breastfed babies are rarely ever constipated and as
long as she was having 6 to 8 wet diapers a day that she was fine,
that every baby is different and not to worry.
By the 11th day, we had her first regularly
scheduled post-partum pediatrician appointment. We still hadn’t had a
bowel movement so we were glad to be able to find out what was wrong,
and had visions of Fallon having to have a rectal laxative inserted
or something equally fun. As soon as we got there and the nurse had
weighed Fallon we knew something was terribly wrong. She weighed 7
pounds and 3-1/2 ounces, a full 2 pounds less than her birth weight.
I immediately started crying uncontrollably, even before the nurse
had left to get the doctor. Greg had tears in his eyes as well. I
just kept looking at him and saying “Oh my God” between the sobs. It
took forever for the doctor to get to us. When she did she looked her
over head to toe and asked us how she was eating. I said she was
crying when I tried to nurse her and the doctor said “Is it like she
pops off after she starts?” I said, “I guess you could say that…”
All this time she was examining her. She finally got to her ears and
said she had an ear infection! That was why she was screaming when I
tried to nurse her. I was shocked! How could my baby have gotten an
ear infection!?! I was glad to know it was something treatable but I
felt so incredibly guilty for not bringing her in or for not somehow
knowing something serious was going on. And then to top it all off,
when I said that Fallon hadn’t had a bowel movement since Thursday,
the doctor said, “Of course not. She’s starving!” I totally fell
apart at that point. I felt so terrible for starving my baby. I had
visions of her wasting away. That was the lowest moment in my life,
hearing those words.
After I collected myself, the doctor asked a bit
more about what was going on as far as nursing and she told me to
rent an electric pump right away and begin pumping every 2 hours
around the clock to get my milk supply back up, since Fallon
obviously had not been nursing effectively because of the pain it
would cause her ears. She also said to give the expressed breastmilk
to Fallon in a cup or medicine dropper since it would be too painful
to nurse, and we would want to avoid nipple confusion with a bottle.
She said that a few times a day I should try to nurse her, even maybe
giving her Tylenol before hand, just so she wouldn’t forget how to
nurse at the breast. She instructed me to bring Fallon in every day
to have her weighed. She prescribed Amoxicillan and we left. I’ll
never forget that ride home. We were both so upset. We had no idea
that things were this wrong. We never even noticed the weight loss,
but now when we looked at her it was obvious. So then we felt guilty
again and kept asking why we didn’t know, why we didn’t bring her in,
how could this happen, etc. We went directly home and within minutes
Greg was sent to get an electric pump.
My first tries at pumping were so discouraging. I
would pump 20 minutes or a half hour on each side and get only 1 or 2
ounces total, which I thought was hardly any. I was so worried that I
wouldn’t be able to express enough to feed Fallon. We gave her
everything I could manage to pump, which I did do around the clock
every 2 hours. Sometimes Greg would feed her while I was pumping and
I remember feeling so sad that she had to eat that way. Greg of
course felt very helpful and was very sweetly giving her the milk
little by little out of a dropper. She would look into his eyes and
he would tear up. There were many moments when I couldn’t relax
enough to get a let down for the pump, so I used the hot diapers
again and would look at Fallon imagining the day when she would be
able to nurse on my breasts exclusively. I did try to nurse her but
it was obviously painful to her and all I could think about were the
times when I had almost forced her to nurse all the while she was
screaming, remembering it, but now knowing I had been hurting her. I
just couldn’t do it any more than I had to so at the first sign of
rejection I let her go. The image of me trying to nurse her through
those screaming spells still haunts me, as I imagine the pain she
must have been in. I wished I had listened to her instead of trying
to continue despite her cries.
After a day of pumping, we decided it was best to
supplement the expressed breastmilk with a little formula. This was
the toughest decision we had ever made. It was so hard, as I had
wanted to avoid formula, but my supply had decreased so much and we
were so concerned about her gaining her weight back, that we felt it
would be best . I was still pumping every 2 hours during the day, and
every 4 at night, looking forward to the day that we could toss that
formula! By the 3rd day, we had switched to a bottle, since Fallon
was getting frustrated with the dropper. But after a couple days I
was able to nurse her about half time, and we both felt a lot better
about that! By the 6th day, I felt ready to go back to exclusive
nursing. It just happens that this was the day that my mother and I
were to fly into St. Louis to meet Greg, and essentially move across
the country. Fallon had gained a pound in that week, and her ears
were clear. I was so nervous about being able to nurse her
exclusively, but we were leaving the rented electric pump behind for
good and I had no choice. So Mom and I went to the airport and went
for it! We did bring a couple or small cans of formula “just in case”
but I am happy to report we never opened them. We got through about 8
hours of traveling with me nursing Fallon on demand and in public, at
only 2 weeks, and only 6 days after finding out about her ear
infection and 2 pound weight loss.. From that day on, until she was
about 6 months Fallon received only breastmilk.
Our nursing relationship continued and as time
went by I fell more and more in love with my baby. She was like an
angel. She did still have fussy periods that I could trace to some
food I had eaten…Even a piece of cheese on a burger would set her
off. She did have trouble with throwing up a large amount every day,
at least once. The pediatrician kept telling me it was just a case of
getting “too much, too fast” but unfortunately didn’t tell me what to
do about it! She made it sound like it was normal and she will grow
out of it, so I just put up with it. I didn’t even mention it to my
LLL Leaders, at least not as a problem I was having…It wasn’t until
about 2 or 3 months that I realized I had an oversupply problem. I
read an article in “The Doula” magazine about overabundant milk
supply and so many of the symptoms fit us! Gassiness, very short
nursings (she was nursing only 5 minutes at a time), milk spraying
across the room, vomiting…So I took their advice and started to
nurse on only one side at a time. It worked! It took a while for the
supply to settle down, but the gassiness ended, she stopped throwing
up, I sprayed and leaked very little, and she started nursing for
longer periods. She still never really nursed for more than 10
minutes, but that was all at one side. She compensated by continuing
to nurse every 2 hours and every 4 at night until she was about a
year! I have done a bit of research about oversupply and it can now
be classified as one of my “causes,” as I think it is a very common
but frequently overlooked problem. I have since found out that it can
cause nursing strikes, “self-weaning” at an early age, and nipple
soreness as well as the symptoms I had.
At about 4 months I needed to be away from Fallon
for 4 or 5 hours to take an exam to get a Missouri teaching
certificate. At that time I was still planning on returning to
teaching, mainly for financial reasons, at least part time, sometime
when Fallon was 1 or 2. This was to be the first time I would be away
from her for more than 2 hours and we had tried for months to get her
to take a bottle in preparation for this, but to no avail. Someone at
a League meeting suggested we try a sippy cup–the kind with the
flip-up straws. It worked! So that day Fallon had her first
mommy-milk without me. I was surprised that a baby that young could
drink from a straw, but she did a great job! It was SO hard to be
away from her. I ended up passing the test, but I don’t know how,
because I was so distracted thinking about Fallon at home!
Fallon’s weaning started at about 5-1/2 or 6
months when we gave her her first solid food. I hesitate to call it
weaning though, because she never decreased the amount she nursed! We
didn’t use solids to replace feedings, but fed her after she had
already nursed. I was very pleased with my pediatrician’s attitude
toward solids…She told us that for babies under a year, solids are
mainly just for their enjoyment and experimentation. So we never
pushed them on her, just offered when she seemed interested. Her
first food was rice cereal. We soon found out that constipated her so
we switched to baby oatmeal and barley. When she ate that first
spoonful, I cried! She was growing up! And she wasn’t dependent on me
100% anymore. It was a sad day, but I was excited for her. When she
got it, she had this look on her face like she had been waiting for
that all her life! She had been grabbing for our food and giving us
that begging look since she was about 4 months, but I put it off as
long as I could stand it. I struggled with that for a long time. I
remember writing a friend of mine asking for advice, because I felt
that beginning solids would be the beginning of the end of nursing,
that she would prefer them over me, or that my supply would
decrease…Wrong! On all counts. It barely affected our nursing at
all, and I am grateful for that. Up until a year, Fallon continued to
“nurse like a newborn,” and we would offer her solids whenever we
were eating. She didn’t really eat much, just a taste here and there.
I was concerned, but grateful that she was nursing so much because I
knew she was getting a balanced diet no matter what she took in from
At right around a year, she began to ask to nurse
less and less. It seemed to drop off very suddenly, sometime around
just before she started to walk. Someone asked me how much she nursed
then, and I counted the times she had nursed that day and it was only
something like 5. Then there was the day around 13 months, when she
was fussing a little, so I offered to nurse…”Do you want some
mama?” Fallon toddled right over to the counter, raised her hands up
and grunted! I offered again, and she grunted even louder! So I got
the crackers she was eyeing and she was SO happy! I was crushed. That
was a sad day, one that I will never forget, because it became
crystal clear for me what self-weaning meant. But at the same time, I
was thrilled to see that Fallon is growing up and is doing it on her
The rest, as they say is history. Fallon is
now a happy thriving 2 year old, never had another ear infection or
any other illnesses thanks to breastfeeding.