Not your typical breastfeeding post…..

If you’re looking for a post that’s going to tell you that you SHOULD breastfeed, or attempt to make you feel guilty because you’re NOT going to or don’t want to breastfeed, you’re in the wrong place.

To breastfeed or NOT to breastfeed…..

This is more a place for moms who are on the fence about breastfeeding, and quite possibly for moms who ARE breastfeeding and thinking everything I’m about to say but don’t because you have more tact than I do… which is probably a good thing.

As many of you reading already know, 16 years ago I gave birth to the most perfect baby ever. It’s hard to believe that baby now towers over me, talks about boys, wears makeup (occasionally) and is talking about college, but here we are. It is ALSO hard to believe that as I’m preparing one to be a junior in highschool, I’m also prepping for the 1st birthday of my second birth child.

When the first baby was born 16 years ago, it wasn’t a question. Formula was my only choice. Her father didn’t really have an opinion one way or anther, and I was going back to school and work 4 weeks after her birth so I never gave breastfeeding a second thought.

Bow from:
Mimi’s Tutu Parlor

When my SO and I began discussing our wants and needs for this pregnancy/delivery/baby raising, breastfeeding was something that was important to my SO, not me. Quite honestly I found myself in a different place because of my age, my job, my goals, my belief systems, and past experiences. Truth be told, pregnancy was really rough on me, and my mental health had tanked in a LOT of ways so old memories crept up and forced me to deal with them again.

As we talked about breastfeeding or formula feeding, the memory of being molested as a little girl was brought front and center. This was the main reason I didn’t breastfeed with my first birth child, and the other factors I had going on in my life at the time just reinforced that I was making the right decision to formula feed. This time around was a bit different as many of the stressors and obligations I had 16 years ago were no longer an issue for me. I was done with college, I was going to work from home, my other kids are old enough to be (mostly) self sufficient. It really just came down to deciding if I could get over it and give it a shot.

Waiting to be induced!

Now, I want to make one thing VERY clear here…. My SO really wanted me to breastfeed. He was also aware of my childhood experiences, and the bullying that followed and how that had affected me throughout my life. He was also extremely aware of where my head was (and wasn’t) throughout this pregnancy and he was a champ. As much as he REALLY wanted me to do this, if I’d said I couldn’t do it, he would have been okay with it. AND, had he NOT been okay with it, I would not have EVER let him force me to do it and I’d probably be writing a blog on coparenting an infant with an ex. I don’t think ANYONE has the right to tell you to just get over it. My SO was always great about understanding that this was 50% HIS baby, but 100% MY body and as such, there were many things that I got the final say on.

Our final agreement is that I would try, but if I couldn’t, I wouldn’t. If I could, then it was baby steps in timeframes… 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, etc…. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that almost eight months later I’d still be breastfeeding.

He obviously loves me, and I’m so high I love everybody….

I have to admit moments after she was born she latched automatically. It was a really special moment that I will probably never forget. My SO got to help with the latch, and in that moment we were the only three people in the room. This bliss was only momentary, and I’m happy to share the ups and downs with you.

My situation: I am currently a stay at home mom. It wasn’t initially going to be this way, but it’s just easier right now for us.

Does it hurt? Initially no… a few days later it feels like someone is raking razor blades across your nipples and then they adjust and it doesn’t hurt at all. (At least until they get teeth, or so I’m told. We’re not there yet.) There were some days there that every time she latched I cried and said lots of bad words. But LITERALLY, that’s only a week, if that, or so. Nipple cream is your friend. It doesn’t last forever so don’t let that be the deciding factor.

Is it easy? Yes. You’ll figure out your system and you’ll be off and running. I had to watch videos on Youtube and read websites because I literally had not ONE clue how this all works, but a little research points you in the right direction, and Mother Nature will take care of the rest.

CharlieJoy prefers boob to bottle. Obviously.

Is it convenient? For Me? Not in the slightest. I’m the only one that can feed the baby. I don’t pump because I don’t have time (more on this later), so literally every time the baby has to be fed I have to stop what I’m doing and feed her. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, taking a shower, sleeping, taking 37 seconds to myself, it all stops because nobody else has boobs with milk in them. If you don’t mind that, then breastfeeding is for you. If you have two teenagers, your mom, a husband AND a house, PLUS the baby, then you’re gonna make some concessions like taking a shower, brushing your teeth and sleep, or you’re going to want to make sure you have a good backup system to help out with your everyday routine that you will no longer have time for.

You haven’t lived until you’ve pulled a boob out in Chic-Fil-A.

How is nursing in public? People look. You’ll notice it more in the beginning. By the time you make it to my point, you’re googling nursing t-shirts with people flipping the bird because you literally DO. NOT. CARE. You will pull a boob out in the middle of the cereal aisle in Walmart to quiet a screaming baby, regardless of how many old men, five year old children or baptist ladies are standing there, and you will keep right on moving with deciding between Cheerios and Fruit Loops. I promise.

How does your SO and other kids feel about it? My SO has done fine. He’s a help when I need a shoulder covered or don’t realize I haven’t put my clothes back on. The older kids have gotten used to it. It was weird at first, but they’re fine with it. I’m fairly discreet about it, so that probably helps.

Pumping in the car.

Do you really bond? You do. It’s just different. I don’t feel any closer to Charlie than I do Grace, but it IS different. Ask me again when Charlie is 16 and I’ll tell you how it all turned out.

Biting/Pulling/Clawing: We don’t have teeth, and I’m not looking forward to that part. She DOES pull hair and she DOES claw. That part sucks. Trimming nails helps, but I woke up the other morning to having my nipple pinched. Welcome to co-sleeping with a seven month old.

Do I stockpile milk? Nope. Never even felt the need. I did a lot of reading on that thinking that I should do it, but then I ran across something that said if you’re stockpiling for daycare, remember that you only need enough to get through the FIRST DAY and that changed my whole mentality. I think the only time you need to worry about stockpiling is if you’re worried that your milk might dry up and you’ll have to formula feed before you’re ready. If it’s for daycare, remember you’ll pump that first day and that will give you then next days milk. Of course, pumping a few bottles ahead is never a bad thing which the few days I’ve sent her to daycare, has come in handy.

Anytime you wanna go anywhere this is part of getting ready…

What pump do I use? Spectra 2. It’s awesome. I’ve never had one problem with it. I got it because it is able to suck clogs out. Or so it says… I’ve never actually had one, but just in case, I didn’t want to be stuck. If I got another one, I’d want the Spectra 9 hands free. I would probably pump more if I had that so that I could still be productive while pumping. The Spectra 2 keeps me tied to the chair, couch, or bed. At night it’s not so bad, but when you’re up moving, it sucks to have to go sit down for 25 minutes at a time when you have other things you need to finish.

Did you introduce solids or are you waiting? We started on solids at month 4. She wanted to eat. It was totally baby led. There are ALL SORTS of groups that will JUMP YOUR CASE for giving a baby solids before a year if you’re breastfeeding, but truly, I think it’s a personal choice. For us, if she wants to eat, she eats. If she doesn’t, I don’t worry about it because she’s breastfed. I know that she’s getting what she needs from me.

Pumping at work… the parking lot of the Federal Courthouse. It was a LONG day.

How long will I breastfeed? The goal now is one year. I have four and a half months left. There are days when I’m ready to throw the towel in because I just want to sleep for one damn night, or take a shower while someone else feeds the baby, or just finish one freakin’ thing without having to stop and nurse, but literally I blinked and my firstborn is ready to start driving. This too will be over before I know it. There are so many times when it just sucks. There are so many days when I look down at her and I can’t believe I’ve made it this far. There are times I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be a mom again and have this little moment before she realizes her dad is more fun, or she’d rather hang out with her friends.

CharlieJoy’s Tree Of Life Photo. The only public photo you’ll ever see of my breastfeeding journey.

Would I do it again? Yes. Absolutely.

Would I do it differently? Yes. Absolutely. I would have a handsfree pump in addition to my Spectra. I would exclusively breastfeed for some currently undetermined period of time and I would pump from that point on. Doing so would allow others to step up and help giving me the opportunity to take care of things that need to be done and take care of myself as well.

Overall. breastfeeding has been a great experience. It has definitely not been a bed of roses, but there was never anything so great as to deter me from trying it or that would make me stop. I say that to say that I think there’s a misconception that this is the most amazing, beautiful, simple, and natural thing a woman can do. For some, maybe that’s true, but for me, it’s not. I write this to the woman who feels overwhelmed by the pro-breastfeeding community and just isn’t sure she agrees or belongs, or the woman who isn’t sure she can do it. You CAN, and if you choose not to, THAT’S OKAY TOO.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Boobie Cookies

While there are many products out there promising to turn you into a super milk producer such as pills, drinks such as teas and sports drinks geared toward hydration, I’ve opted to stick to cookies. I just find it’s quicker and simpler to deal with. I can usually find time to snag a cookie and go rather than try to make an entire meal geared toward lactation.

I’ve picked up a couple of bags of lactation cookies in the baby section at Walmart and they were good, but I’m one of those “why am I paying $1.98 for 5 cookies when I can make these” kind of people….

I think the most frequently asked question is simply “Do they work?” The most specific answer I can give you is “I don’t know”. The reality is, I believe that hydration and diet are probably the two most important factors when it comes to breastfeeding. The next factor would simply be to recognize that some women can breastfeed, some can’t. Of those of us that CAN breastfeed, some of us are going to be those super producers that can supply a small country.

I am no expert. I’m just wingin’ it. I’ve done some research here and there so what I share with you here is from that tiny bit of reading and my own experience and should NOT be taken as medical advice or the gospel truth.

I DO notice that after I eat a few of these cookies, I tend to feel fuller the next day. I’m not going to be able to feed the neighbors kids too, but I feel as though my kid is getting a super size meal if that makes sense. Is it medical? Is it psychological? Is it just me? I don’t know. If you read the reviews on ANY product that guarantees you’ll make more milk you’ll see the following:

  • “This product sucks. In fact, I dried up after three days of using it.”
  • “No change. Waste of money.”
  • “This product turned me into a super producer and I’m now donating 3 gallons of breast milk every week to my local NICU.”

Seriously. So remember, you’ll try things, try different things, but whatever you try, maybe talk to your doctor first? And don’t do it right as soon as you get home from the hospital. Milk takes a bit to come in. Don’t mess with it until you know that you really need to.

And if you can’t breastfeed, you’ve tried everything under the sun, you just know you can’t do it and you’re feeling defeated… IT’S OKAY. IT REALLY IS. My first birth child is 5’10” and 168 lbs. She’s smart as a whip, an excellent artist, can read, write, has excellent communicatin skills, etc. Her attitude sucks some days but that’s probably more a result of her age than what she ate as a baby (which was Enfamil until we became poor, and then it was the Nestle Good Start the WIC program gave us).

When it comes to breast feeding, there appears to be a holy trinity of products that are most commonly associated with increased milk supply:

Oats, Flax Seed and Brewers Yeast

As you can see, I’m the big spender with my Great Value brand Oats and Badia Flax Seed. The Brewer’s Yeast is from GNC. This product is a little tricky because it tastes awful. Read the reviews before you buy it. There are other brands out there that aren’t as strong in taste. Also, you may not need all of these products to up your supply. Obviously for these cookies the Oats are going to be a must, but you may find you can leave out or the other, or both of the flax and yeast. In my case I use all three, but I only use about one and half tablespoons of the yeast. YUCK.

And on with the recipe:

  • 1 cup (or 2 sticks) of butter
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of firmly packed brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of water
  • 2 tablespoons of flax seed meal (ground)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspon of vanilla
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 cups of oats
  • 1 cup of chocalte chips (I used semi sweet)
  • 2-4 tablespoons of Brewer’s Yeast (I used 1.5 tablespoons)
Never fails.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix flaxseed, and water together and let sit for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Beat butter (I heated the butter up for a few seconds to soften), sugar, and brown sugar well.
  4. Add eggs and mix well.
  5. Add flaxseed mix and vanilla, beat well.
  6. IN A SECOND BOWL: Sift together flour, brewer’s yeast, baking soda, and salt.
  7. Add dry ingredients to butter mix.
  8. Stir in oats and chips.
  9. Scoop onto baking sheet.
  10. Bake 12 minutes.
  11. Let set and then remove from tray.

Notes: My oven died forever ago so I’m using a toaster oven. I baked mine 14 minutes, and then moved them to a wire rack to cool before packing up.

Also, this recipe makes a TON of batter. The stack you see is only HALF of the batter, minus the 4-5 that had already been eaten. The other half of the batter is in my freezer waiting for the next time I get the urge to bake.

Once they cool they tend to get a little tough. I put two on a paper towel in the microwave for 15 seconds and it’s like they just came out of the oven – or toaster oven in my case.

Finally: I totally stole this recipe from: https://www.food.com/recipe/oatmeal-chocolate-chip-lactation-cookies-by-noel-trujillo-192346

First Blog: Birthday Date Night

I’ve been putting off writing my first post for a multitude of reasons and this morning it all fell into place for me. Translation: I didn’t want to go get that next load of laundry and fold it so I might as well write something.

It’s 6:58 am on Monday, and I’ve been awake since basically 4 am. Even though I am STILL sick (ugh) I nursed the baby and got her back to sleep, made coffee, put in a load of laundry, folded another load, made sure my significant other (SO) had socks, underwear and undershirts, started a grocery list and pulled out the ironing board. NO, I didn’t iron, let’s not get crazy. My SO spent 15 years in the Marine Corps, he knows how to iron (and I do not iron to his satisfaction, not that I tried or anything, I just make him take my word for it). And no, this doesn’t happen every morning, I’m just kissing up and trying to make myself look good after his awesomeness this weekend.

I opted to start the blog with a story and given that this weekend was our birthday and our first REAL planned date night since we had the baby, I figured we could just start there. If you know me and you’re reading this, you already know that I’m basically a walking disaster, and if you don’t, welcome to the sh*t show.

My SO and I have the same birthday, a year apart. I turned 41 and he hit the big 4-0. For a good year it was pretty awesome dating a younger guy, still in his 30’s. Now we’re just old AF. Literally, we bought a new mattress for our birthday because, well, back pain.

I didn’t make any plans for this birthday because I didn’t want to celebrate. I’m turning 41 for God’s sake. I am 9 years from 50. In 9 years I will be HALF A DAMN CENTURY old. No thanks, I’ll pass on the balloons and stuff, but if you wanna give me gift certificates for xanax and botox, I’m totally game.

My SO on the other hand, secretly planned to take four days off from work and take me to an amazing dinner. I didn’t find out about all our impending quality time until last week, and when I did, I did what any good future wife does, I made him a list of tasks to complete (which he mostly did, hence his awesomeness).

I dreaded this date night for a week for the following reasons:

  • I breast feed. NOW I have to find time to pump on top of everything else.
  • Who is going to keep the baby? And what if she cries the whole time I’m gone (again)?
  • I have nothing to wear because my ass isn’t a size 4 ass anymore.
  • It was going to take ten razor blades, a landscaping crew and three days to shave my legs.
  • I’ve worn my hair in a bun on top of my head for so long right now that I’m considered an honorary Pentecostal.
  • I haven’t worn makeup in so long that every time I look at my makeup bag I wonder to myself if I was auditioning for Rupaul’s Drag Race prior to getting knocked up.
  • AND if I can solve all of the above, I’d rather just take a nap than have to go through what it’s going to take to make myself look like a human being again.

I did manage to get one single bottle pumped shortly after lunch. HOWEVER, as my luck runs, I’ve been sick with a head cold for over a week and by Thursday my SO came down with it, and just to keep life interesting, by lunch on Saturday, my mother who was going to oversee the babysitting for us came down with it. Scrap the babysitting, we just got a miniature third wheel.

I got my clothes together and headed to the shower. Or at least I tried. Of course I couldn’t find the shirt I bought to wear to dinner. I was really looking forward to wearing something other than a Walmart tank top. I’ve lived in them for three months straight because they’re easy to nurse in. In fact, it’s Monday and I STILL haven’t found that stupid shirt!

In the bathroom I took my hair down and discovered I had a huge knotted mess on one side of my head, and a full out dred in the back of my head. Pretty sure it took half a bottle of conditioner to get that out. I can’t believe it actually worked.

Fast forward to dinner, and the baby is doing great. She’s quiet and sweet. I swear she does it and waits until we get confident that it’s going to be a good night and then she just blows. Needless to say, she got tired/fussy/and hungry all in the same second.

Now, I don’t mind breast feeding in public. I’m modest about it, but I’ll do it. I fully believe I have the right to feed wherever, whenever, but I’m also not going to throw a nipple in some strangers face, or leave parents to explain things to kids that they’re not ready or comfortable explaining. It’s more of a “just because I can doesn’t mean I should” sort of thing.

So I proceed to get myself situated. I’ve got myself covered, my boob is out, I attempt to get the baby comfortable and latched and as luck would have it, the booth seats are too narrow. Damn you Outback. Instantaneous end of the world for my little baby. I look at my SO and ask him to cut my salad up for me when it arrives. I can eat with one arm and hold the baby with the other.

So I proceed to walk to the bathroom, which of course requires a full lap through the restaurant. My boob is still out. My baby is screaming. The hostesses are giving me sympathetic looks. Other patrons are giving me “THAT” look.

I get to the bathroom and Miss Losing My Ever Loving Mind decides we’ll play with dinner. She latches, then dramatically unlatches, throws her arms back, looks at me and smiles. Super cute kiddo, now eat and let’s go. After half a dozen more times of this I cut her off and head back to the table.

My salad HAS arrived. I wolf down as much as possible and low and behold she fussy again. I swear it’s just a game at this point. It’s intentional. She totally knows what she’s doing. As I get up from the table my SO asks me if I want my steak cut if it arrives before I get back… Well, of COURSE… I can already tell I’m not going to get to eat in peace here.

In the bathroom we finally decide to eat and go to sleep, which means that we’re awake again by the time I get back to the table – but we’re quiet. Long enough for me to inhale just about all of a 9 oz of Filet Mignon before all hell breaks loose in the form of a writhing sleepy, frustrated, yelling 3 month old.

I spent the rest of my birthday dinner sitting in the handicap stall of the ladies room on the toilet. It’s fine. I had to pee anyways. I managed to latch a baby AND get my pants down with one hand. Of course that ALSO requires thought and planning because you’re not going to have a free hand to zip and button them up when you get done. Guess it’s a good thing I was born without hips.

Just about the time the baby finished I got a text from my SO that everything was boxed, the check was paid, and he was waiting for me at the front door of the restaurant. Awesome. Pulling my pants BACK up was going to require some maneuvering. I finally figured out if I duckwalked over to the sink and balanced the baby’s behind on the sink that I could pull my pants up without waking her up.

Of course she slept the whole way home, and went right back to sleep after we got home and got her into some pjs. As for us? I laid the baby in the bassinet, and my SO rolled over then wrapped his arms around me and we shared a super romantic 15 second kiss and then we passed out because we’re sick, old, exhausted, back pain, new baby, it was past our bedtime… I could go on here, but you get the point.

I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world, but man there are moments where it’s tough! I am not one of those mamas who thinks every single second is the most amazing thing that has ever happened. I sincerely love all my kids, but I’m also not afraid to say that any particular given moment REALLY sucks. But you know, it passes so quickly. It’s only temporary. And she sure makes every moment worth it. Sometimes it’s hours or days later, but it’s worth it. 🙂