Friday, February 25, 2011

Baby steps.

In the coming weeks, I have a few projects planned. First, I'll be starting a new blog. This yet-to-be-named endeavor will *exclusively* house information related to pregnancy/birthing/ breastfeeding/pumping at work/other similar topics. This website will also contain helpful resources related to those subjects and serve as a starting point for info regarding my doula services. Second, I'm working on a series of posts focusing on pumping at work, tentatively broken up into "Environment," "Equipment," and "Attitude." So look for lots of new info in the coming weeks!

On a personal note, I'm feeling like I'm stuck in a bit of a slump. Training for my half-marathon is going well, the girls are doing great, work is okay. I can't help but feel that I'm in some kind of holding pattern, though. It's hard when you know where you want to be in life, but are not in the position to make the changes necessary to get there.

I have about a year left in the military. Then I'm out, and we're headed back to Athens so Brett can finish up his PhD. While he does that, I'll be busy with the girls and my doula-ing. By the time Brett graduates, it'll be time for Lucy to be in (gasp!) kindergarten, and Junie will be right behind. Right now I plan on focusing on the girls until Brett graduates and they're both in school, at which point I want to pursue a Midwifery degree- preferably through Emery's Nurse Midwife program.

Right now, all I can do is try to be patient. To work on my doula certification so that I can get as much experience as possible working with mamas and babies. To enjoy spending time with the girls and Brett- because once he starts working post-PhD, he'll likely be on the road most days of the week.


The days go slowly, but the weeks fly by.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The secret about extended nursing.

I know plenty of people who’ve nursed their children passed the 1-year mark. Heck, my own mother nursed my youngest sister until just past her 3rd birthday. In the online world, I chat frequently with mamas who’ve nursed beyond that marker. And even though breastfeeding after the first year of life is categorized as “extended” in the US., it’s much more common to nurse for longer periods of time in other countries.

While extended breastfeeding isn’t popular in the US., the benefits of it are numerous. After all, it’s not as though breast milk magically stops being nutritious once a child turns 1 year old. Breast milk has a lot to offer- a few key points from Kellymom (see that page for full citations):

- In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:

o 29% of energy requirements

o 43% of protein requirements

o 36% of calcium requirements

o 75% of vitamin A requirements

o 76% of folate requirements

o 94% of vitamin B12 requirements

o 60% of vitamin C requirements (Dewey 2001)

- Nursing toddlers between the ages of 16 and 30 months have been found to have fewer illnesses and illnesses of shorter duration than their non-nursing peers (Gulick 1986).

- In fact, some of the immune factors in breastmilk increase in concentration during the second year and also during the weaning process. (Goldman 1983, Goldman & Goldblum 1983, Institute of Medicine 1991).

Besides the benefits listed above, the moms I know are quick to point out that they enjoy the breastfeeding relationships they have with their children. They are proud to continue to share both the physical and emotional components of nursing with their children. In fact, I seldom ever hear anyone talk about extended nursing’s little secret…

It’s challenging!

That’s right, I said it.

I don’t say that to discourage mothers from breastfeeding into the toddler years. On the contrary- I gently encourage it. However, I do think it’s important to understand the differences in breastfeeding an infant versus breastfeeding an older child. I think moms benefit by having some idea of what to expect, because choosing whether or not to continue nursing into the second year and beyond is an intensely personal decision. It’s not for everyone. Here are some of my observations based on my experiences nursing an older child:

1. Toddlers are very easily distracted. It’s not unusual for Lucy to start nursing, nurse for a moment or two, then pop off to do something else. The amount of time she nurses practically always coincides with the amount of time it takes for my milk to let down. Ugh. Nothing like your toddler running off and leaving you with a milk-spraying boob.

2. Toddlers don’t like to sit still, even to nurse. Lucy is constantly moving while she nurses. Sometimes it’s cute- like when she signs “milk” or gently touches Junie’s face when they nurse together. Other times it’s downright annoying- like her new habit of kicking anything within reach. Lucy also enjoys shoving her little hand in my mouth so that I pretend to bite her. She apparently finds this hilarious.

3. You may have to set limits. With young babies, I’m a strong believer in breastfeeding on demand. The babies needs come first, regardless of what I’m doing. With an older child, though, it sometimes becomes necessary to set some guidelines. We’re going through this with Lucy right now. She seems to feel it necessary to nurse every 2-3 hours through the night. This schedule is unmanageable for me, so we’re in the middle of teaching Lucy that, “Mama goes to sleep, Daddy goes to sleep, Junie goes to sleep, Lucy goes to sleep, and ‘nummers’ go to sleep. No more mama’s milk until ‘nummers’ wake up with the ‘new day.’” Because two of Lucy’s new signs are ‘sleep’ and ‘new day,’ it helps to incorporate them into our little lesson. She seems to understand, albeit *very* unhappily.

4. You may have to reevaluate your breastfeeding relationship. See above. When I acknowledged that I could not continue our relationship as it stood (i.e. constant nighttime nursing), I had to evaluate whether I was ready to consider weaning entirely, or whether I simply needed to change one aspect of nursing to make it manageable. The latter ended up being the case. If something isn’t working for you, change it. I don’t feel *extended* breastfeeding is more important than a happy mama. If you aren’t enjoying nursing, it may be time to reevaluate things. This is *especially* important in a tandem-nursing situation.

5. It isn’t just about breast milk. Toddlers nurse for comfort, they nurse for reassurance, they nurse because they can. Could Lucy be healthy without breast milk? Most likely. Would she be happy? In the long run, yes. But right now? No. It’s too important to her. Lucy’s little world has been upset enough already with a new little sister and physical developmental like new teeth. Nursing is a standby for her- something she can rely on when everything else is changing. That’s why she’ll often nurse for only a moment or two- just to reassure herself that she can.

I’m sure there are lots of other differences out there, but these are the few that are on my mind right now.

Have you nursed/are you nursing for an extended period? What differences did you notice between nursing an infant versus nursing a toddler?

Friday, February 18, 2011

PA Trip, Part 1 (aka I begin to experience premature graying).

We look better than we felt, I promise.

I’ve been hesitant to blog about our recent PA trip because of the fiasco we had getting there and getting back. Have you ever gone on “vacation,” only to return more tired than when you left?

The plan was to fly out of Pensacola on a Saturday morning around 7 am CST. We were supposed to make connections in Atlanta and Detroit before finally arriving in Erie at 3 pm EST. June’s baptism was scheduled for the following morning.

We made the flight out of Pensacola, caught the connection in Atlanta where we met up with June’s godfather, Rhett, and had a smooth trip into Detroit. Lucy and June were so well-behaved that I couldn’t believe it.

After we boarded our flight for Erie, however, the proverbial s*%t hit the fan. Although the weather wasn’t great (picture snow and wind), we were second in line to be de-iced, and were still scheduled to take off on time. We pushed away from the gate, moved behind another plane at the de-icers, and waited.

And waited. And waited. Finally the pilot announced that we were being delayed because visibility was low. Still, he said, we’d make it out. Thank goodness for two things: breastfeeding and carrying-on our *huge* bag of cloth diapers. At least I didn’t have to worry about my kids being hungry or wet!

We waited some more- about another hour more.

Pilot comes back on and announces that our flight has been canceled. No worries- we’ll be back at the gate shortly and can rebook flights.

We wait another hour. Pilot announces that we’re waiting for a gate to become available. It seems that after we pushed back, another plane parked at our gate. The entire time we were waiting to be de-iced, other planes were landing and filling up the other gates. There was nowhere for us to park. Still, he said, we’d be back soon. According to new FAA policy, they have 3 hours from scheduled departure time to either take off or return to the gate. Otherwise, the airline has to pay the FAA a hefty fine- $20,000+ per traveler.

Guess what? Delta’s gonna have to pay up.

We ended up being on the plane for over 4 hours. They never were able to get a gate for us- ended up bringing out a ladder and having us climb down and then hike it across the taxiway. That’s right- I carried my 8 week old down an icy metal ladder and ran across the taxiway with a blanket over her head. Did I mention that it was like 10 degrees, windy, and snowing?

After we made it back inside we joined the hundreds of other people in line waiting to be rebooked. Rhett and I both got on the phone with Delta while we waited. He got through first and managed to snag seats for us on a flight to Buffalo later that night.

Hallelujah, I thought. Even with a 1 ½ hour drive from Buffalo we’d make it to Erie that night.

We rounded up our stuff, made it to our new terminal, got dinner for ourselves and the girls, and settled down with books and other trinkets with which to entertain Lucy. It was our saving grace that the girls were so well-behaved the entire time. A few hours later, we boarded our new flight. Carry-ons stowed, seatbelts fastened, we joked and laughed about how terrible the trip had been so far. We heard the engines spin up and were ready to go.

Just then the *new* pilot comes on the line. Our flight’s been canceled- the Buffalo airport has shut down because of the weather.

That, my friends, is when I lost it.

We once again went back into the terminal. I overheard someone say that it was a 4 ½ hour drive to Erie from Detroit, and that got my head spinning. It was about 8:00 pm in Detroit, and if we rented a car, surely we could make it home in time.

Problem is, the weather in Detroit was too bad to contemplate a nighttime drive with two babies in tow, and, besides, we had checked our carseats, along with all our clothing.

As much as it pains me to say this, I gotta give Delta credit here. They comped us a *very* nice hotel room, gave us free car seats, and put the notice in to have our luggage pulled- a process that, we were told, could take upwards of 6 hours. I watched the girls inside while Brett and Rhett stood outside waiting on the shuttle to the hotel. We finally made it onboard, got to the hotel (where Lucy finally had a breakdown after a VERY long day), and settled in. Well, Rhett and I did. Brett headed off to rent a car and wait for our luggage to show up.

Apparently once the order is put in, you HAVE to be there when your luggage hits the wheel. If you’re not, it gets put back in storage, and it could take ANOTHER 4-6 hours to get it back.

Brett had $50 ready to pay off an airline employee to pull our bags personally, but- miracle of miracles- made it back to the airport just in time to see our bags (and carseats) emerge at the claim area. How he managed 3 large suitcases, a smaller one, and 2 carseats, I’ll never know. He made it back to the hotel at around 11 pm.

We finally fell asleep and caught a few hours of rest. At 5:15 sharp the next morning, I dragged myself out of bed, got ready, prepped and nursed the girls, and packed the car. We were driving away from Detroit by 6:00, made it to Erie at 10:30, and had an hour to recoup and get into our Sunday best.

And yes, June Elizabeth Nolan was baptized as planned.


Oh, and I almost forgot the best part!

Because rental car shops are individually-owned, it’s darn-near-impossible to rent a car one-way. If we wanted to rent a car in Detroit on Sunday and leave it in Erie the next day, we’d be charged $1,500 for a one-way rental. For $225, we could rent in Detroit, drive to Erie, keep the car all week, then turn it back in at Detroit. So that’s what we did- altered our return flight to leave from Detroit instead of Erie. That meant another 4 ½ hour car ride- joy.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Day in the Life...aka why I haven't had time to blog.

11:00 pm Bedtime.

3-4:00 am Lucy wakes up at least once. Nurse her and put her back to sleep.

This inevitably wakes up Junie. Go back to sleep while nursing her down.

5:15 Alarm goes off. Shower & get ready for work.

6:30 Change both girls, one last nursing session.

6:45 Out the door for work.

7:15 Arrive at work.

8:45 Pumping session #1

11:00 Workout #1- Run 3-4 miles. Quick shower, back to work.

12:00 Pumping session #2. Eat lunch at same time.

3:00 Pumping session #3

4:30 Leave work for home.

5:00 Arrive at home- nurse girls.

5:30 Prepare dinner and eat.

6:30 Lucy’s bathtime followed by pajamas and stories.

7:15 Lucy’s in bed.

7:30 Junie’s eating again. Clean up house- mainly Lucy clutter.

8:00 Workout session #2- P90X

9:30 Shower, recovery drink. Prep for tomorrow- make/pack breakfast and lunch, etc.

10:30 Catch up on email, little bit of free time

11:00 Bedtime


- 3 pumping sessions

- 9 hours of out-of-home work

- 2 ½ hours of working out

- At least 2 nursing sessions for Lucy, more likely 4

- Allowance for 6.25 hours of sleep, but with wake-ups it’s really more like 4-5 hours. Getting in bed before 11:30 is a miracle.

No wonder I’m exhausted! You’ll notice there’s almost no time in my day for housework, laundry, or cooking- thank goodness for a rockstar husband who takes of it all for me. I don’t know what I’d do without him.