Mama Miller Parenting

Passionate parenting and homemaking.

Along the Milky Way: My Breastfeeding Journey

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K, my oldest, is now a precocious, talkative four year old. He is also huge and tops out the growth chart in height.

But, his beginning was much rockier.

After a 20+ hour failed induction, he was taken by emergency c-section. During the surgery the doctor discovered a large cystic tumor on one of my ovaries. By the time I was wheeled into recovery I was emotionally and physically battered, and less one ovary.

Our first few weeks were very rough. He was jaundice. My milk wasn’t coming in. We had to see an orthopedist because he had a tendon problem in his feet. He wasn’t gaining weight and my pediatrician was awful about it. It was brutal.

Despite herbal supplements, nursing around the clock, and pumping; I completely dried up at five weeks. It was devastating. I had desperately wanted to see his little cheeks grow chubby with MY milk, but losing the ovary had wreaked havoc on my system and thrown my hormones off.

When my daughter, E, came along two years later I knew this time would be different. I still had to have a c-section because of my condition, but hopefully would avoid extra surgery.

My hopes were realized and I was able to nurse in the recovery room. She too lost more weight than desired, but was getting more milk. I had a more supportive pediatrician and I was able to mostly breastfeed with less supplementing than before. I nursed her until my gallbladder started to fail at 5 months postpartum.

I dried up during my recovery from surgery.

Then the postpartum depression and anxiety hit. It was awful. I had worked so hard.

Now I sit rocking my third child, another boy, while typing. My four year old is building a block fort with his two year old sister. I am at peace.

At four weeks old my little man is back up to birth weight and has a full tummy of MY milk.

I fought hard for this moment of peaceful bliss.

During these first weeks I have taken enough Fenugreek and Mother’s Milk Tea to permanently smell like an IHOP. I’ve endured cracked nipples, marathon nursing sessions, and pumping. I’ve nursed with my two year old perched on my legs and patting the baby on the head. I’ve nursed while my four year old talks incessantly about Star Wars. I used a supplemental nursing system to add a little pumped milk and formula to his feedings.

Over the past two weeks something wonderful began to happen- he started rejecting the supplemental nurser because he was full. He was full!

I’ve also shed a lot of modesty on this road. I’ve nursed in restaurants, in the mall, in the car, and even in the Library’s break room. I no longer hide under a huge hot tent cover.

The picture above shows my typical nursing in public position. I use a muslin swaddle blanket and cover the goods, but leave his little head, eyes, and nose peeking out. I’m still fairly modest, but I will not nurse in fear anymore. And I certainly won’t look down on those who nurse without any cover.

I get it now.

I understand the rally cries of ‘breast is best’. Without that motivation, many of us wouldn’t survive the first few grueling weeks.

It can be ridiculously hard. Some babies won’t latch when covered. Sometimes you just feel accomplished to have a shirt and bra on.

For those on that journey: Good job mama. You are a warrior. You are amazing and strong.

I also want to encourage the bottle moms.

I, more than anyone, understand the guilt associated with formula. I’ve sat feeding my baby and looked over in envy of the breastfeeding mom cuddled up with her nursling. I’ve experienced the heartbreak of knowing that I’m not enough to sustain my baby.

Guess what mama… You are doing a good job too.

Your babies will grow and thrive- mine did.

K is a strong, smart four year old. Formula didn’t warp his brain. He doesn’t have an extra limb from his time of powdered sustenance.

E is adventurous and sweet and brave despite her time as a nursling being cut short.

All you sweet, sleep deprived mamas:

You are beautiful.

You are strong.

You will eventually sleep again.

You are doing a good job.

You are enough- no matter how you feed your baby.

With love,

Mama Miller

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Life with three kids

I’ve had a lot of people ask me how I’m doing lately.

How am I coping with three kids?

How am I feeling?

Well, here it is. My uncensored, sleep deprived version of the past four weeks.

● We found a waffle in the fish tank last night.

● I absolutely adore watching K and E interact with the baby. They love to hold him and kiss him.

● E also loves to sniff him and try to decide if he is poopy…

● I am no longer shy about nursing. Being poked in the boob repeatedly by a two year old saying, “Mommy booby milk” will do it. With K I had to be in a separate room and completely covered. With E I used the big tent cover and felt dangerous when I nursed in the mall play area. Now I use a thin muslin blanket to cover the goods, but not his head. No one has been flashed (outside of family) or made any rude comments.

● There are toys everywhere. The house has settled into a state of clean, but cluttered chaos.

● After hours of nursing and being used as a jungle gym by the big kids, I get ‘touched out’ and desperately crave personal space. Husband usually takes over soothing and listening for kids when he gets off work so I can have a few hours of quiet sleep.

● I thought I’d still be crazy sore, but I’m moving around pretty well. Sometimes I do too much and end up super sore though.

● I’m often torn between the need for privacy while I pee and knowing where the big kids are. Peeing alone means yelling, “Do not touch baby!”… Repeatedly.

● I’m sick to death of strangers commenting on how I have my hands full. It is like asking a tall person, “How’s the weather up there?” It is expected and I’m used to it, but it doesn’t make it any less irksome.

● I squirted myself in the face with milk once and K thought it was hilarious.

● I eat an unprecedented amount of cream of wheat. It is easy, warm, and can be spooned into my mouth with one free hand.

● My pits smell like pancakes all the time. Fenugreek supplements (for milk supply) give you a lovely maple smell.

● We call Baby F our little spider monkey because he is all limbs.

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Life in the Miller house.

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Baby F’s Birth Story

Disclaimer: This is a birth story, and birth stories often contain information that some may find icky. There is nothing too traumatic in this story, but still…

My sweet husband and I had thought our little family was complete. We had one boy and one girl. I just felt incredibly lucky to have children at all.

With the birth of K I found out that I had an ovarian condition. One of my ovaries had been taken over by a large cystic tumor and had to be removed. I had a 30-50% chance of developing one on the other side. I was told not to wait too long if I wanted another baby.

E was born 2 years and 3 months after K. Her birth had been a much easier c-section than my first. Although I am totally supportive of VBACs, I knew it was safer with my ovarian condition to continue with cesarean births.

When E was about 15 months old our little world was turned upside down. I went to the doctor thinking I had an UTI and found out instead that we were pregnant! I had just been up on a ladder painting in our renovation house. We really had no clue.

The pregnancy went by very quickly this time. We moved into our house. We adopted Miri the big red dog. We found out we were having another boy.

I had some blood pressure issues toward the end of both my previous pregnancies, but not this time. We scheduled my c-section for September 26th- exactly ten days after E’s second birthday.

The day before I was still driving and getting things ready.

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Oh so very pregnant...

The big kids went to spend the night with my in-laws and we got up super bright and early to head to the hospital.

I had heard from a laction consultant friend that my hospital was now offering more family centered c-sections. I had discussed with my doctor being able to have skin to skin with the baby while still in the OR. He was fine with it but said to remind the nurses when we got there.

I was very worried when the first nurse I talked to wasn’t sure about the new policy. She said she would ask our ‘baby catcher’ nurse. Luckily, we had the best baby catcher ever. She was very excited and willing to adhere to our wishes.

At about 7:30am I left my parents, in-laws, and big kids in the recovery room to go back. I had a fairly smooth spinal block and epidural. Soon I was ready to go and had Andy by my side.

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My mom and dad waiting with the kids.

At 8:08am we heard him cry for the first time. Our amazing baby catcher, Monika, quickly wiped him down, suctioned his nose and mouth, and promptly placed him on my chest.

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She really was the best nurse ever. She helped us hold him on my chest and eventually worked all the blankets down enough to help him latch. I got to nurse in the OR!

It was the best cesarean experience I could have asked for. Everything went by so quickly with him to focus on. It was much more personal than the swaddled kiss I had with my other births.

He stayed with me until right before they moved me to the transport bed. She took him to measure and weigh while I was moved.

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8lbs 8oz and 20 inches long

He rode on my chest to the recovery room for more nursing and meeting his family.

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I had supply issues with both K and E. I desperately wanted to make it work better this time around. I think our early skin to skin definitely helped. We had some serious cluster feeding marathons while in the hospital. He lost over a pound, but was wetting, pooping, and feeding well. He wasn’t overly jaundice. I had some great lactation consultants visit with me and show me how to use a supplemental nursing system if needed.

(It is a canister that attaches to a thin tube. The tube is slipped into the corner of baby’s mouth while nursing. They get the expressed milk or formula while still nursing. No bottles or nipple confusion. I highly recommend looking into one instead of bottle supplements.)

My hospital stay was tiring, but fairly uneventful. I was walking to the restroom later that night. I took a shower the next morning and was able to slowly walk to the nurses station and back. We got the ok to head home Sunday morning.

He is nursing well and slowly gaining weight back. He isn’t quite up to birth weight, but because he is so healthy our pediatrician isn’t worried. I offer formula in the supplemental nursing system a few times a day after feedings, but he rarely takes any.

I couldn’t have made it through the first couple of weeks without my parents and in-laws. They helped us so much with the kids and transportation. We also had some amazing church family send us meals.

I’m still sore, but I’m driving now and I’ve even made a couple of outings with all the kids. I even got to go to my 10 year high school reunion this weekend (with the baby).

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Baby F is here!

I know it has been a while dear friends. Baby F did, in fact, make a safe healthy debut. I’ve had a hard time blogging during this pregnancy.

In many ways this pregnancy was the easiest. I knew what to expect. I had no weight gain (lost 25+lbs and gained back about 15-20lbs). I never had high blood pressure…

It was also the hardest in many ways. Chasing two kids while pregnant is not easy. We also renovated a house and moved. I also made the choice (along with my OB) to go through this pregnancy without my anxiety medicine.

After E was born, postpartum depression and anxiety hit fairly hard and I had been on a low dose mild medication since she was five months old.

There are so many wrong assumptions about what depression looks like. I never laid in bed and cried all day. I didn’t look like a little cartoon with a storm cloud over my head. I just didn’t feel right. Little things would make the stress resonate in my shoulder blades. I was moody and didn’t cope with things as well. I would want to write or visit friends or do something, but a weirdness would wash over me and I’d hold back.

I was still me. I still got up every day and made breakfast for my kids. I could still joke and visit family. Please remember that if a friend or family member ever approaches you about depression. They may not look depressed or anxious. It can be a silent affliction that lurks in the shadows.

I made a plan with my doctor and pediatrician to start a new breastfeeding safe medication while in the hospital. I don’t regret waiting out my pregnancy, but I feel much more like myself now. Adjusting to three kids is much easier when you don’t feel like you are drowning in stress.

Baby F is almost 4 weeks old now. E and K are over the moon for their baby brother. They both like to hold him and both help grab things for mama. We are well. I’m hopefully back.. As much as a newborn will let me be.

Stay tuned for his birth story with more pictures!

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