Monday, December 8, 2014

Breastfeeding, Bottles, and Swallowing My Pride

Disclaimer, I really don't think my choices are better than anyone else's. I had natural labors, but that doesn't mean I believe that's the "right" way. You wanna schedule that C-section, that's your business. I like to wrap my baby. You use a stroller, cool. I'm telling about my experiences, so don't think I'm declaring my way is the right way. I'm not. It's what was right for me. You do what's right for you. 


I loved breast feeding both Taylor and Rio. Don't get me wrong. It was hard, and I had to fight for it. But it was worth it. It helped me in bonding with them. I absolutely loved that only I could give them what they needed. They were completely dependent on me, their mommy. 

I was able to nurse Taylor a year and Rio 9 months. There were times with both girls where I had to really fight to keep it going by pumping and taking non FDA approved medication, but fight I did. 

So this my third time around, I was soooo excited. I thought this would be super easy since it was number 3. I planned to nurse by demand feeding, meaning I'd let her nurse all the time, whenever she fussed at all. Well, she was born, and nursed right away. Hooray. 

She didn't seem to be a very hungry baby. I would have to wake her up to feed to get my supply up, but after trying everything, she would not eat unless she decided to. Once in the first few days, she went 9 hours refusing to nurse. I was a nervous wreck. Walking around with her trying every thing I could think to get her to nurse. Sobbing. Pleading. Finally she gave in and ate. She seemed to latch on fine once she ate, and she nursed the normal amount of time at each feeding. She wasn't too fussy until night time. 

Then she would cry and cry and, I'd have to wait her out until she would finally fall asleep. I assumed it was just her fussy time of day. Then I go in for her 2 week check-up. She has not made it back to her birth weight. Okay. We can fix this. I will try getting her to nurse more. 

I borrowed a scale to weigh her during feedings and see how much she was taking in. The first time I did it, she nursed an hour and only took in an ounce total. She was casually sucking. I panicked. At each feeding, she wasn't getting enough. I frantically started pumping and supplementing, but it wasn't helping my supply. I was worried constantly that every cry meant she was hungry. I was feeding her, supplementing, pumping, and then doing it all over again. I did that for two weeks, but she still wasn't getting enough. I finally decided I can't keep this up. My other children are being neglected while I'm spending all this time pumping. I was devastated. But I knew when I was beat. So, I made the switch to just formula. 

After a week, I had a new baby. And I knew I had made the right decision. She was happier and sleeping better and gaining weight. 

But the guilt. And the grief. I mourned not being able to nurse her. I wanted to so badly. Grief would strike me out of nowhere and make me so sad. And I made myself feel so guilty. 

My pride. Oh my pride. I also was ashamed that I wasn't nursing. When anyone would see me feeding her a bottle, I immediately felt the need to explain everything, because I didn't want them to judge me for feeding my baby formula, because I was judging me for feeding my baby formula. 

There it is. Boom. Heart revealed. I did think my way was better. How silly of me. Bottle or breast, my baby was getting fed. I do think it's so awesome how God made us able to feed our babies straight from us. But that's not always the best or even possible way for everyone. And that's okay. I could never know all the circumstances that play into a mom making the decision about how to feed her baby. So what would give me the right to pass judgement. 

So, now I say, "Momma, you do what's best for your baby. I'll do what's best for mine." I'm just thankful that such a thing as formula exists. 

And I'll do my best to stop feeling the need to explain myself. 

Breast is best. 

Except when it's not. 

These are the only photos I have of our short-lived breast feeding experience. I will cherish them. But I'll also cherish feeding my baby with that bottle. 

Willow Drew at Two Months

Dearest Willow Drew,

You are the sweetest baby. You are two months old now and so very precious. At your checkup, you weighed 10.10 and were 24 inches long. That puts you in the 40th percentile for both, which is a record for one of my petite babies. Way to go, Sugar. You usually only wake up once at night, take a bottle, and go right back to sleep. Best baby. You've been sleeping in your own bed since 7 weeks old. You and I slept on the couch for the first 5 weeks, then moved into the bed once you were better at turning your head. You've almost always slept on your belly, which is why we were on the firmer couch. You were not the greatest napper unless mommy was holding you or wrapping you, and then you slept great. Right at 2 months old, I realized you were not enjoying being rocked to sleep anymore. You were fussing and having a hard time getting comfortable on me. So I put you in your bed just to see what you'd do. In 5 minutes of quiet fussing, you fell right to sleep. I thought it must be a fluke, but it happened again the next night. Then I tried it at naptime, and surprisingly, you fell asleep again on your own. This is a strange new development that I'm not too sure I like all that much. It is very helpful, but I am sad to miss all those snuggles. Don't worry, I will still wrap you whenever I can because you do still love it. I love wrapping you, and you love it too. As soon as I get you all wrapped tight, you instantly relax and snuggle. Best ever. 

You are such a happy baby. As soon as you make eye contact with anyone, mommy especially, you grin and grin and grin. You will coo and talk my ears off as long as I hold your gaze. Your eyes, pretty and blue like your sisters, are bright and wide when you are awake. 

Oh, and you adore your sisters. If they are in sight, you are focused on them. All I do is put you in your bouncer on the floor, and you are entertained just by watching sisters run around playing. They are always asking to hold you and hug and kiss you. Rio affectionately calls you "new baby". And they both copy whatever mommy does to you. I fake pinch your cheeks and make a kiss noise, they do too. It is an extra joy getting to watch how much they love you, kid. You are lucky to have them as your big sisters. (Don't do what Rio tells you, though she means well.)

No one needs to remind me to cherish every moment, because I'm doing that just fine on my own. Every. Moment. 

You're my favorite Willow. (Just so no one thinks I'm playing favorites. I also say "you're my favorite Taylor. And "you're my favorite River Jane. Notice the lack of comma before the names. 😜)

You are a gift. 

Love always,

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Willow Drew Owen's Birth Story

This is my first time blogging in forever, I mean forever. I just wanted to document the birth of Willow. This will be long and graphic, fair warning. So here goes…


I have been dreaming about this birth since the first moment I found out I was pregnant, literally. I loved my other two births and could not wait to do it all over again. I quickly contacted Rachel, the doula that helped with River Jane’s birth, because I desperately wanted her again. Score, she was available!

Here’s a little background to this birth. I got back in shape before getting pregnant this time around, because a) I wanted to and b) I hoped it would benefit being pregnant. Wrong. Being pregnant the third time around was much more difficult than I anticipated. I was sicker the first trimester, tired almost the entire time, achy and painful anytime I slept, and I felt like my bottom would fall out at any second. Graphic, but true. I loved being pregnantdon’t get me wrong. Nothing compares to feeling that tiny baby moving around inside one’s tummy. I was always judgy when women would complain their whole pregnancy, but this time around I totally understood why women felt that way. Pregnancy is hard. And this is coming from me, when my pregnancy really wasn’t that hard. Anyways…


I naively thought that maybe the baby would come earlier since this was my third birth. I had my hospital bag packed weeks before my due date. Fool. This time we decided not to find out the sex of the baby, just to add a little mystery to it all. We took awhile but finally narrowed it down to one girl name and one boy name. So, week 40 came and passed by yet again (as it did with my other two births)I wanted a natural birth again, so I was willing to wait as long as possible to minimize interventions. My doctor’s office only wanted me to go to 42 weeks, so I began to get a little nervous. The 42 week date got closer and closer and my doctor mentioned scheduling inducting, and I have to admit, it freaked me out. I knew that was the next step, but still it really freaked me out. I called Rachel in tears because I felt like I had no control of my birth. I knew I really didn’t have control; God is completely in control and had sovereignly planned this birth. I mean I felt like my doctor wasn’t giving me any control. After talking to Rachel, I felt much better about the possibility of an induction. She informed me she was great at inductions with natural labor.


Friday, the 3rd of October came, and we arrived at the hospital at 6:00 am bright and early for my induction. It felt so weird arriving at the hospital when I wasn’t having any contractions. Usually they break your water and then start the pitocin, but I talked to Dr. Mac and he agreed to let me keep my water intact. Having my bag of water intact really helped manage the pain for the other births. (It didn't get broken until baby was coming out, FYI, so that was cool). They hooked me up to an IV at 7:00 am and began the dreaded Pitocin. I had imagined Pitocin was thick and black and that I would be able to feel it creeping into my skin. Oh, and that it was evil. Thankfully, I was wrong.


They started me out at 8 (insert measurement) of Pitocin. My doc had assured me I’d be able to at least walk around the room while hooked up to the Pitocin. One of my fears was that I’d be trapped in the bed the whole time. I knew I couldn’t handle natural labor while trapped in the bed. So, I began my slow walk around the room pulling my Pitocin behind me.

Contractions started right away, but they didn’t really hurt yet. They actually felt good. I had been craving contractions for so long, finally having them felt wonderful. I was able to still walk through them and occasionally rock when necessary. I bounced on the ball when I needed a walking break. 

My doc came to check me a little after 12 pm, and he announced my dilation. 3, maybe 4 centimeters.I was crushed. It had been 5 hours, and I was only dilated 3 or 4. Dr. Mac and Rachel could clearly see that I felt defeated. They explained that getting to 3 or 4 would be the longest part, and that it should go faster now. Also, baby had been way high, like still floating around when I got there but had dropped down to -2. He/She was moving into the birth canal, so that would speed things up. I thought they were just saying that to make me feel better. Rachel talked to me about having the right attitude. When a contraction would come, instead of starting each contraction with “oh no”, to greet each contraction with “this is helping baby get here”. So, they bumped my Pitocin up to 10 (whatevers) and the contractions immediately got stronger. Rachel wanted me to remain upright to aid baby in sliding down and cause me to dilate more. I had to hold onto Jonathan and moan through contractions now. Right before one would start, I would try and smile, take a deep breath, and welcome the contraction. I labored a little on the potty, slow danced with Jonathan, and sat on the edge of the bed. I would hold tightly onto Jonathan’s arm and burrow my face into his arm for each contraction.

They were getting to be really strong and difficult. I even told Jonathan no more being funny; it was starting to annoy me. 

I was so exhausted after each one, I just felt like going to sleep. They were intense. I cried a little at how tired I was. Apparently Rachel knew I was probably in transition, but didn’t tell me. I didn’t know how to gauge the contractions, since I was on Pitocin. I thought I had a long way to go, so I felt so sad.


I was sitting on the edge of the bed, moaning loudly through a really strong contraction, when I felt something strong, and yelled out, “What was that?!” Rachel said it was probably the baby connecting with my cervix. I realized that it felt like the baby had slid down. Awesome. I told Rachel I had to change positions, that sitting on the bed wasn’t working for me anymore. So she suggested a new position to rest a bit. Ha ha. What a joker. Rest.


She had me lie on my side and put the peanut balls between my legs. I HATED it. I frantically grabbed the sides of the bed during the few contractions I had to endure in that position. I yelled at Rachel, “I hate this thing! I don’t wanna use it anymore.” She later informed me that this was a distraction position while she sneakily checked me. Again, I hated it. Jonathan said she realized I was really close, so she quickly called the nurse to tell them to get in there. Rachel then had me change positions. She had me get on my knees, reach over the top of the bed, and grab the back of it. This was very helpful. 

At this point I was in my deliriously crazy stage. Screaming loudly, panicking, gripping the bed for dear life, unable to understand what Rachel was trying to tell me. She was right in my face trying to get me to breath slower and yell lower. I remember saying, “I don’t know what you are saying.” Once I finally understood what she was saying, I did my best to get control of my breathing. All of a sudden I felt the pressure. The pressure that told me it was time to push. I screamed out, “The baby is coming!” In my head, I still thought that Rachel didn’t believe that I was so far along. When in reality, she had already got the doctor and nurses in the room. Dr. Mac checked me to make sure I was dilated all the way before they wanted me to push. Rachel came and got in my face (cause that’s the only way I would listen) and told me that I was ready to push, and that I probably wanted to turn around so that I could actually see the baby being born. I was scared and panicked and screamed, “I can’t move! I can’t turn around! I can’t move!” And then another strong contraction hit me and more panic. The doc told them it was now or never for me to turn around. So, Rachel gently grabbed my arm and leg and ‘tricked’ me into turning around quickly. I’m so glad she did. Once I was sitting up on my backside, I felt great. Dr. Mac said okay push whenever you want. They were trying to set the mirror up for me to see while I pushed, but the lady holding the mirror turned it the wrong way. I angrily screamed, “I can’t see anything!” Jonathan said I also screamed, “Don’t you know how to use a mirror!” Whoops. I thought that I had only thought that last one. I pushed twice, I think, and out came the head. One more push and baby was out all the way. Pushing felt so great after all those intense contractions. Once baby was out, I immediately felt so much better. I did it! Victory! Hoorah! 

They gave my baby girl to me right away and I was overjoyed. She was finally here! Once everything was all cleaned up, I nursed her for the first time. Wonderful. So very wonderful! 

Willow Drew Owen was born at 1:27 pm.I went from 3-4 cm to baby out in about an hour. Rachel joked to the nurse that she knew I was in transition, but didn’t know that transition was only going to last five minutes. It was a very intense and painful hour, so glad it was so fast. I can’t believe how great it went. I was terrified of the Pitocin not working on me, but it worked wonderfully and got that baby out in 6 ½ hours. I am so thankful that I was able to have the birth that I had wanted. It was a wonderful wonderful birth. Jonathan was fabulously patient and calm and strong. Rachel did awesome again. She helped suggest things to progress my labor and to help me manage the pain. I could not have made it without the two of them. Dear Abby was also with us as the photographer. So glad she got to share in this with us. All of the fantastic photos are hers.