Friday, May 13, 2016

Religion, Politics, and Breast Feeding vs Formula Feeding

"He drinks formula AND breast milk, and he still loves me just the same."
It was our first date. I looked across the table over my craft beer at him and asked, “So, were you breast fed as a baby?” He looked at me strangely and then said. “Ummm…. I don't know actually, why?” and I responded, “Well because if you weren't exclusively breastfed as a baby, then I simply cannot date you.” Haha!! Could you imagine? (editor's note: this did NOT actually happen, and although my husband already thinks I'm weird enough, I most certainly think this would have scared him away on our first date)

To be honest, I never knew that breast-feeding was as controversial of a topic as religion and politics until I became pregnant myself. It was only then that I figured I should start doing some research about the benefits of breast feeding versus formula feeding my baby. I didn't have much to go off of besides that I think my mom breastfed me. Or did she? I guess I never even asked. Does it really matter?? It obviously never did, until I became pregnant myself. For some reason, however, these days society says it does matter. Well I'm here to tell you that as a new mom myself, I’ve already struggled with the “guilt” of the idea of having to transition my 3 month old to formula, because I can no longer pump enough at work to meet his growing little body’s needs. Should I really have to feel this way?

The other day I stood in my kitchen at the counter. I looked over both my shoulders as if I was expecting some lactation consultant to come up behind me and start screaming at me (editor's note: this is nothing against lactation consultants, as I know they play very important roles to some, so please do not take my joke offensively if you have benefitted from using them!). I felt like I was doing something wrong as I dipped that little scoop cup and pulled out a small scoop of formula. I poured it into the bottle, shook it up, and there it was- that little pang of guilt. Why? Why am I feeling guilty about this? I am not doing anything wrong. I am not harming my baby in any way. In fact, I am doing what is best for both him and myself.

When my son was just seven weeks old, I had to return to work. I had been successfully breast-feeding for the first seven weeks of his life and figured I should try to keep doing so as long as I could. On my first day back to work, I threw my pump in my work bag and off I went. To be honest, I hated pumping. From the first moment I attached those cold cones to my breasts, I hated everything about it (aside from the fact that I was able to feed my baby MY milk while I was away). The first few weeks, things went really well. I was pumping enough milk for him to eat the next day while I was away at work. But then one day, things changed. I wasn't pumping enough at work anymore. I was only getting enough for one bottle the next day instead of two. Feelings of stress, anxiety, and guilt washed over me every single day as I went to work, tried to pump, and didn't make enough for the next day. I was failing. I was letting down my baby. Or was I?

I headed to the mom group (shoutout to my girls!) I am a part of on Facebook, scoured the Internet for mommy blogs, and called the pediatrician for advice. I had many mixed opinions on what I should do: try power pumping. Eat more. Drink more water. Do this. Do that. Everything that was suggested, aside from eating more and drinking more (ha), sounded like awful ideas to me. The ideas themselves weren’t awful, but the thought of having to spend more time pumping when I could instead be spending those precious moments with my baby who I was already away from nine hours a day sounded miserable to me.

So there I stood at the kitchen counter pouring powder into his bottle, hoping nobody saw me. Well guys, the secret’s out. My baby is now both breast-fed and formula fed. I started supplementing his bottles with formula so that he could get the nutrition that he needed while I was away at work. And guess what? He is still alive. He's healthy. He's happy. He still loves me. He will drink from a bottle AND from me. And you know what else? I'm happier. I'm less stressed. I enjoy my time both away from and with my baby more than I did before. While the transition wasn't easy at first, those feelings of guilt, stress, and anxiety quickly dissipated when I realized that it's not about what everyone else wants me to do. It's about what's best for me and my baby. Now you do your thing, and I’ll do mine. No judgment here. You love your baby, and I’ll love mine. He drinks formula AND breast milk, and he still loves me just the same.

Oh, and for the record, I’m still not sure if my husband was breastfed or formula fed, and it doesn’t really matter.

with faith, love, & coffee,

kellie ann

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

5 Things No One Told Me I Would Need As a First Time Mom

In case you missed it, we welcomed our little man, Ronan J, into the world on Sunday, January 31st, 2016. Being our first baby, I had done (what I thought was) sufficient research on any and everything I would need upon returning home to take care of this little living human that would need my undivided attention (they weren't kidding about the 'undivided' part of that....).

For any other first time mommy-to-be's out there, here are a few things that I quickly realized I couldn't live without as a new first time mama, some of which I luckily had on hand, and others that I needed to have overnight delivered via Amazon (thank goodness for the internet!).

1. Rock N' Play Sleeper
This thing has been a lifesaver for us. A lot of moms recommended it, and I'm so glad it was one of the items we were gifted from our registry. The best part-- it doesn't take batteries, instead it plugs into the wall and can literally rock your sweet little one for hours on end (not that that actually happens, but it would be nice to think that if you wanted hours to yourself, your baby could have somewhere safe to go 😉). Ronan loves napping in his during the day, and I've even heard moms who use it to have baby sleep in at night. No matter how you decide to use it, it is definitely a must have!

2. LilyPadz Nursing Pads

Something everyone seemed to forget to warn me about pre-baby.... leaking milk. Yep, it happens. A lot. Once your milk comes in, you will find out very quickly that while you're feeding baby on one side, your other side thinks it's feeding time as well apparently, and the next thing you know you've entered into a wet t-shirt contest in the comfort of your own bed with no audience but yourself and your little one (not as fun as it sounds...). My friend Ashley over at House of Five recommended these to me and let me tell you they have been an absolute lifesaver (and by lifesaver I mean wet t-shirt in the middle of the night saver). Haha in all seriousness, I wear these 24/7 to prevent any leakage, and they have saved me at least a few dollars in laundry costs (we won't talk about the additional laundry being done due to baby spit up and pee...). Long story short, if you plan on breastfeeding- buy these now!

3. White Noise App (or machine)

The first 7 days of Ronan's life at home were pretty much pure bliss. Sleeping 18+ hours a day and even for long stretches at night. Something else I was failed to be warned about-- growth spurts. Apparently it's perfectly normal for a seemingly "good baby" to all of a sudden scream at the top of their lungs for long periods of time until they are either fed or somehow eventually cry themselves to sleep from exhaustion. Out of desperation one night, I searched and downloaded this app and selected every "falling water" option they had (heavy rain, thunderstorm, waterfall) to be played at once. I'm not sure who it helped sleep more- me or baby, but it did get us both through five hours of uninterrupted shut eye (not sure if I owe this all to the app or not, but I've used it every night since just in case 😉).

4. iPhone Extension Charging Cable
I knew that taking care of a baby (and myself, after having a C-section) would mean a lot of time spent sitting or laying down. I guess I didn't realize quite how extensive the amount of time would be. I'm not kidding, I'm pretty sure there is an imprint of my butt on our couch, the rocking chair in Ronan's room calls me by name, and my bed never knew me so well. All of this "down time" meant a lot of time spent on my phone.... I know, I know- I should have been reading a good book or something else more "productive", but let me tell you-- my brain did not want to go anywhere besides Pinteresting all of the meals I didn't have time or energy to make right now, googling what to do when my baby's umbilical cord fell off or why he all of a sudden wanted to do nothing but eat and cry between the hours of 6-10pm, joining new mom support groups on Facebook, and Instagramming photos of my oh-too-cute new baby boy. So, phone it was. And giving up time to let it charge by an outlet that was just a liiiiiitle too far out of my reach was not something I wanted to happen. Extra long charging cable saves the day on this one.

5. A surplus of your favorite Granola Bars

Andddd if your favorite granola bars just happen to have fiber in them, double bonus for you (another thing to add to the list while you're at it-- stool softeners. Don't ask, just believe me. You'll need them). As I just pointed out in my #4 recommendation, you will literally have ZERO time to even think about cooking any kind of meal, let alone even pouring yourself a bowl of cereal at times. Luckily, I have a husband who loves to cook AND who was amazing at waiting on me hand and foot to bring me anything I needed.... which was nice when he was home, but not so helpful when he was away at work. Sometimes you forget to eat, sometimes you don't have time to eat, and sometimes there's just no way you're going to get anything into your belly... unless you have a stash of granola bars sitting on the end table next to your permanent position on the couch. Especially if you are breastfeeding, it is SO important to keep yourself nourished AND hydrated (water bottles are another huge must have-- I can't even tell you how much water I drank, but it was so needed), even if some days that means eating your baby's weight in oats & chocolate bars.

There are obviously countless other things that I have been using and found necessary to take care of little babes since being home, but these are the things that I frequently didn't see on other lists that I had googled. Please keep in mind that the views and recommendations in this post are solely based on my own experience (with a 2 week old, mind you, so I in no way claim to be an expert).

Anything you think I missed? Comment below and let me know, I'd love to hear!

with faith, love, & coffee,

kellie ann

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Baby Hanlon Bump Update: Weeks 31-40+

Andddd now for the final homestretch! To see all bumpdates for Baby H, check them out here:

Weeks 4-10
Weeks 11-20
Weeks 21-30

And by far the best bumpdate.....

with faith, love, & coffee,

kellie ann
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