Most wonderful time of the year

It’s that time of year again- back to school!  Normally I’d be hitting all the sales buying “teacher” things.  You know,

  • grading pens -never liked red so I used green, pink, purple, or orange
  •  golf pencils -for those kids who forgot their own
  • extra paper
  • new clothes- love Ann Taylor Loft and New York & company
  • random crap- I’m old school and like to have a paper copy of my plans and grades

I would also be planning and prepping for a new year with new kids.  Changing things that didn’t work last year, adding something different and “engaging” (big buzz word for Dville, idk about other districts).   I would be thinking about how I want to arrange my class, make changes to my routines, etc.

I always met the new school year with both excitement and nervousness, and a little sadness to say goodbye to the lazy days of summer. You never know what you’re going to get.  At the end of last year, I was approached and asked if I wanted to take on a group of students who were historically unsuccessful  in school.  Kids with discipline problems, or learning difficulties.  They asked me knowing that I had been working with special ed kids for the last 3 years and hoping I would be able to help this group.  Unfortunately I couldn’t give them a definitive answer, but had to lean towards no because I was hoping to stay home with Tbird.  My prep for that task would’ve been more intense because of slightly different goals and approaches for those students. 

This year could not be more different than the previous years!  I’m not even positive when school starts back this year.  There are no trips to office supply stores or teacher stores.  No random lists of lessons, ideas, activities.  No plans for classroom management.  Instead I’m singing and dancing around my living room like a crazy person (ok that would be happening anyway, but this time there’s someone who appreciates it).

Just because I’m not in the classroom this year doesn’t mean I’ve stopped teaching.  In fact, I’m probably teaching more than ever, as Tbird seems to be going and learning nonstop.  I’m hoping to peruse the ideas at Play at home mom for inspiration.

This is just one of the many big changes coming for me I’m sure, but it’s a very pronounced one.  I’m still not sure how my days will be filled, but I’ll figure it out.  Maybe I’ll even take up cooking.

Posted in big changes, play at home | Leave a comment

My breastfeeding story

I’ve been inspired by a friend to write about my experience with breastfeeding. It’s World Breastfeeding Week so now is as good a time as any.

Note:  My experience is not the norm. Most people don’t have this much trouble, but knowing that it can will get better can give you hope to keep going through the rough patches.  I suffered for the first 2 weeks because I was too proud do admit that I needed help, once I got help it got easier.  There are resources out there to make this enjoyable.

I always knew I was going to breastfeed any babies I had. I just knew it.  I was surrounded by it growing up- my mom nursed 7 kids for at least 2 years each, my sister nursed 5.  It was normal and natural and easy, right? WRONG!

It is normal and natural, but it’s not always easy.  At least not at first. 

I had  a good start-  support, books, the internet. I was determined to make this work.  When Tbird was born she latched within 30 minutes with the help of my amazing midwife and her assistant.  It hurt, but it was new and I had heard that discomfort in the beginning wasn’t unheard of so I plowed on and didn’t complain. 

Tbird was a champ.  She nursed every 2 hours and had tons of wet and diry diapers. She only lost 3 oz  from her birth weight so I knew she was eating well.  But my boobs hurt!! I had a cracked nipple on my right breast and the pediatrician suggested a different hold to help.  It worked a little, the crack started to heal, but then I got another one.  Two weeks in I had two cracks on the same breast and every time I nursed I wanted to scream.  I cried each time Tbird would latch.  It was immensely painful, toe-curling pain.  THIS IS NOT NORMAL! (note: if this happens, get help)

I realized that I needed serious help when I finally admitted to my husband that I would rather give birth again (another natural, unmedicated birth) than nurse her on the right side.  So after many tears and convincing myself that asking for help did not equate with failure I broke down and contacted a close friend (same one who inspired me to write this).  She asked her doula for a recommendation for a lactation consultant and I got the info for Mellanie Sheppard with For Babies’ Sake.  She came over the next day to help me, and I’m so glad she did.  She watched Tbird nurse, gave me some pointers, and checked her mouth.  No tongue-tie, but she did have a misaligned palate.  This is why I had so much pain on one side, but not the other.  Apparently this can happen when the second stage of labor is very long or very short.  She suggested a chiropractic adjustment to help realign her palate, nursing on the non-injured side first, and pumping if I needed to.

Luckily I was able to get an appointment within a few days to fix the palate.  Unfortunately I developed a plugged duct on my already painful breast the same day, the first of many.  It was literally the size of the palm of my hand (literally).  I had it for 36 hours before I was finally able to get rid of it.   This was so stressful.  I was afraid it would end up infected.  I should be nursing one side first because of the cracks, but on the other first because of the plug.  I plowed on.

Smooth sailing from here right? I mean, 2 weeks in and I’ve had latching problems, a massive plugged duct, and cracks.  It’s time for some sweet relief.  Nope,  after the plug was gone and cracks were starting to heal I continued to experience horrible nipple pain.  Nursing still hurt, my shirts hurt, the water in the shower hurt.  What was wrong with me??

After much time spent on internet research I realized that I had thrush.  Tbird’s only symptom was a slight diaper rash that wouldn’t respond to normal treatments, but my symptoms pointed to classic thrush.  I called the midwives at my birth center and was advised to use gentian violet to treat it, and wash all bras in hot water with vinegar.  After the first treatment I started to experience breastfeeding as it should be, but it wasn’t until 3 days of treatment that it was truly pain-free.

We continued to struggle with latch and positioning for several more weeks, but around 6 weeks things started to click and by 8 weeks we had this whole breastfeeding thing down. 

So after facing problem after problem within the first 4 weeks why didn’t I quit?  I’m stubborn.  I had done my research and knew how good breastfeeding is- the immunity, bonding, perfectly balanced nutrition.  Not to mention the benefits for me- lower risk for breast cancer, losing baby weight faster, not having to buy and mix formula at all hours.   Sure, I had that “friendly” formula sample sitting on my table, waiting to be donated to someone who would use it.  But every time I let myself think about how hard it was I heard all naysayers and wanted to prove them wrong (“there’s no reason to breastfeed past a few weeks” “You won’t last long, it’ll hurt so bad that you’ll quit by 6 weeks”).  HA!  Prove them wrong I did!!

Around 3 months I suspected that Tbird had a sensitivity to dairy and it was confirmed through an elimination diet.  But this didn’t bring the end of our nursing relationship, just a brief avoidance of many foods that I love.  It’s ok, her love is better than ice cream, chocolate, and cheese. 

Tbird will be 9 months on Saturday. We’re still going strong and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon.  My original goal was to make it to 12 months before thinking about weaning, and that is looking like it’s going to happen.   I pumped at work for about 5 months before school got out for summer.  I would wake up early to pump before leaving.  Pump through my 25 minute lunch.  Whatever it took to keep going.

Despite our ups and downs I’m glad I persevered.  I wouldn’t trade all the snuggles for millions of snacks.  All the milky smiles for… glasses of milk (real, whole, cow’s milk, not that almond crap).   My husband was by my side through all of the problems and he was always willing to help or encourage me to keep going.  And now he’s reaping the benefits- healthy, happy baby, happy momma, no bottles or late night formula runs.

Tbird is very funny when she nurses.   She gets so excited if I ask her if she wants to nurse  , smiling and bouncing.  She reverse cycles, so I get lots of late night sleepy snuggles while nursing.  She’s the most distractable child ever, so I laugh a lot while she pops off to look at the dog/ her dad/ me/ her hands/ the fan/everything and nothing, and my milk sprays on the side of her face.  She’s a lightning fast nurser now, 5 minutes and done, ready to play again.   But I love those 5 minutes!

Posted in Breastfeeding | 2 Comments