Thursday, December 31, 2009

My new regimen...wowza!

So, the last few weeks Craig has been commenting how he is always exhausted and fatigued. He literally passes out on the couch or chair by 8:30pm each night. Even on nights where he gets as much sleep as me or more he is exhausted about 5 hours before me. It's been an ongoing problem and we haven't known what to do about it. He got the bike trainer he wanted for Christmas from my parents so he has started riding his bike again in the mornings and I know that will help, but we also want to do more. Messing around on Google today and looking into energy and metabolism we came up with all these supplements that are supposed to help with many of our issues. Craig is dealing with weight issues, lack of energy, getting sick frequently, and always being tired. I am dealing with insulin resistance, trying to get pregnant, and weight issues. I will say that in trying to conceive Eliana I did lose about 20lbs and we waited for 6 months before trying any fertility medication. I cut out nearly all carbs, especially refined and ate no junk food at all. Unfortunately I still did not have a period or ovulate even with that weight loss. Then I got on Provera and Clomid and conceived within 6 months. I seem to have a more intense version of PCOS than the woman that still occasionally ovulate since I NEVER ovulate (on my own). Boohoo! I'm not giving up on the journey to better health though!

So, last night we made a list of all the specific foods that are good for metabolism and weight loss which include:
broccoli
cauliflower
turkey
quinoa
almonds (decided against these since it would be way too tempting to eat about 10 times the recommended daily amount :) )
oatmeal
yogurt
spinach
apples
And we took a trip to Fred Meyer to make sure we had all of them. But, before that we took a little jaunt to Super Supplements in East Bremerton. We met Rafael who was SO helpful and knowledgable. He just moved here from Olympia where he was the supplement director for an organic food co-op. His wife is also in nutritional medicine so that helps with the knowledge, too. Everything he said really lined up with what we've been reading and he even gave us some print outs about dosing and what foods contain the supplements naturally.
This is what our new regimen will include:
Super Enzymes-digestive enzymes help break down fats, carbs, and protein in the foods we eat.
L-Carnitine- Transports fatty acids so that your body uses up fat for energy.
Alpha-Lipoic Acid- Useful in the treatment of diabetes and insulin issues.
CoQ10-Facilitates the transformation of fats and sugars into energy.
Hi Potency B Complex- Supports energy and nerve function.
Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (2 tsp mixed in 8 oz water, didn't taste too bad)- Numerous benefits but namely in making the body's pH at a more natural state.
Vitamin D- Numerous benefits including calcium balance and boosted immunity.
Fiber Tabs-These are for Craig, I definitely don't need 'em :)
Men's one a day Multi-vitamin for Craig.
Pre-natal vitamins for me since I'm trying to get pregnant again.

Wowza! We've never done anything like this before but we just kind of came to the point where it's like, wow, we need to do something. For instance, looking online today I came across tons of articles about the use of Grapefruit and Grapefruit juice in weight loss and helping insulin issues (and it also thins the cervical mucus to aid in conceiving!). I have never heard that from a doctor before! Also supposed to help with weight and insulin are curry and cinnamon. How interesting, huh? I mean, why just go straight to prescriptions if there is a possibility that something totally natural can make a difference in my health. Don't get me wrong, I am a total advocate for physicians and I don't believe I would have my sweet daughter if it wasn't for the wonders of medicine.....I'm just saying let's think outside the pharmaceutical box for a minute. So, I am still obviously going to be taking the 2 fertility medications I just got and the Metformin which is for blood sugar problems, but I also will be taking these natural supplements. I told Craig I think we should give it at least 2 weeks to see if we notice a difference at all. We also need to get in the habit of taking all this stuff. I gotta say though, I was really amazed at all the supplements and things available to naturally help pretty much any problem out there. So, if this sounds interesting to you at all, go talk to Rafael! :) Also, Super Supplements has awesome prices.

I know I've never blogged about supplements before so bear with me. This is definitely a new phase for me and I never pictured myself going this route, but at this point natural sounds really good to me, as much I can anyway. And I'm also sick of Craig always being tired. As I type he is snoring on the couch :) I told Craig earlier that for the price of a simple office visit to a Dr (not even including any tests or medications) we got a whole bag full of supplements, so it sure is worth a shot. If this takes care of some of our issues then we've just saved a bundle.
Here's a picture of our newly filled 2x a day one week pill holders (blue is Craig's, white is mine) :


We'll see how this goes, I guess it's our New Year's resolution. Happy New Years!!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

TTC- The journey begins again! :)

So, today was the long time coming Doctor's appointment with my new Ob/Gyn. I went under the guise of 'needing my annual' (which I did) so that insurance would pay for it, but also was really hoping to walk away with prescriptions for the Provera and Clomid that I need to get pregnant again :) It was a successful visit!

Dr. Quimby is great, I really liked her. All my friends raved about her and it sounded like she would have the warm personality that I really appreciate in a physician, and I gotta say, she was awesome! She seemed to really get me and understand what I was saying without me really having to explain myself much. I always feel like I have to explain me having PCOS and that I am working on my weight and blah, blah, blah. I just feel so crappy and guilty about being overweight and not all physicians really get how hard it is for PCOS'ers. Dr. Quimby was very cool about it. She said, "Oh, I know hon. Don't worry about it. You are a storer. If you look at a piece of bread you gain weight." Haha, but so true! I've never heard it put that way, "storer". Very appropriate though I think. We also decided to run a blood panel and check for thyroid issues and specific ones that don't show up on the general thyroid test (this was recommended by an RN friend of mine with PCOS), and also check for diabetes. I pray to God I don't have it, but since my bio dad does and me having PCOS, it's very possible. I'm curious about the results.

It was so weird picking up my prescriptions this afternoon because it just all began to feel so real. Eliana has been the only baby on my mind for nearly 2 years and it's just bizarre to think of having another baby. It also has been this 'thing in the future' about going to the dr and TTC (trying to conceive) again, but now it's all a reality. Strange!

So, this is how it works for those who want to know or are going to be facing it themselves:
1. Provera for 10 days (this makes my body think I ovulated and gives me a period, which I don't have on my own).
2. The first day of any spotting/bleeding is called day 1 of my cycle.
3. Days 5-9 of my cycle I take Clomid (makes my body ovulate).
4. Days 13-24ish be intimate often to catch the window of ovulation (I ovulated after day 21 when I got preggo with Eliana, which is considerably late in the cycle).
5. Day 24 have blood draw/Progesterine check (this tells us if I've ovulated on the current dosage of Clomid)
If I ovulated, wait 10 days (I think) and take a pregnancy test.
If I didn't ovulate, start process all over.
I also take 1000mg of Metformin a day (this helps with being a 'storer' and the blood sugar issues).

Fairly simple and not very expensive either. The Clomid was not covered at all by insurance but was available in a generic named Clomiphene. A monthly dose of 100mg was $18.00. Provera as a generic (don't know the name) was less than $4.00. 3 months of Metformin is $10. So, considering we have crappy, high-deductible insurance, that really isn't much for a month of fertility drugs. I was pleasantly surprised!
I will start the Provera most likely tomorrow mid day and we'll see how it goes from there. I am hoping that since I have Eliana to keep me busy, distracted, and happy, that I won't get too stressed out about it all this time. We'll see. I know that God already knows the faces of all my future children and the exact day they'll be conceived. I'm just a little anxious to meet them! :)

I also realized on the way home from the grocery store that I should've bought tampons! I haven't had a period since January 2008, right before I got pregnant with Elly. At the dr's today the nurse checking me in said, "Ok, when was your last period?" and I said, "um, never?" and she said, "oh you're on birth control?" and I said, "no, I just never have a period. I've never had one unless medicine forced it. Like ever in my whole life." Such a weird concept I think for the normal woman who menstrates at least fairly regularly. Lucky me I don't have to worry about the mess of being a woman! But unlucky me I can't get pregnant the old 'it was a surprise' way!

So, here goes to the next phase of life and what it will bring our way. I have so many friends that are also TTC and facing the frustration and pain of it and I so empathize. It's sort of one of those things that you don't realize how many people can't get pregnant easily until you talk about it and go, "wow, there's a lot of people with fertility issues!" So, I'll be keeping this blog fairly updated with it all as I feel up to it, although I told Craig I would not be putting details of 'our time together' in it :) Sorry, this is at least a PG blog, haha.

I talked about it in a previous TTC blog, but the specific fertility issue I have is PolyCysticOvarianSyndrome, known more commonly as PCOS, http://www.womenshealth.gov/faq/polycystic-ovary-syndrome.cfm . For me it means that I have partially formed eggs in my ovaries, on a vaginal ultrasound they appear as non fully formed follicles. I never menstrate without medication to force it, meaning I also never ovulate on my own. I fortunately have not had the cysts that often come with PCOS, but definitely deal with the insulin resistance and infertility issues to name a couple.
TTC with Eliana I started on 50mg of Clomid and ended up conceiving at 150mg.

If you have questions, please ask! After all I've been through I see little point in secrets, so I'm generally an open book :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Craig's accident

I've decided to talk about Craig's accident that happened July 2, 2006 a little more in depth than I have before. I did not have Facebook or a blog at the time and so I didn't write about it except emails to family. Here is my recollection and I'm sure I will remember more as the hours pass.


I will admit, when I got married I didn't quite realize the gravity of the decision. I was 21 and although I felt mature for my age, still so young and naive. Within a very short period of time (weeks), Craig and I began to see hard days. We were immediately caught up in drama with his ex-girlfriend over custody and child support for his son, who was 5 at the time. And then if that wasn't bad enough, 11 months into our marriage Craig was in a horrible mountain biking accident. He broke his T-12 (back) and C-6 (neck) and most of his face including his zygoma, nose, and mandible. His face was literally crushed by the large rocks he landed on. He was unrecognizable. The accident happened the weekend before July 4th in 2006. We were camping on the Elwha River outside of Port Angeles with Craig's high school buddies since it was his 10 year reunion. I had worked that day and was tired after the long drive so I went to bed around 11pm. Craig wanted to stay up and hang out with the guys. A couple hours (I think) later someone came to my tent and said Craig was hurt and needed to go to the hospital. I honestly thought they were joking. When I realized they were serious I followed them to the scene of the accident and saw Craig sitting in a pool of blood and moaning, nearly unconscious. I felt dizzy seeing him. I was half asleep still and did not imagine seeing him like that. I remember almost falling over and having to sit down. One of his friends said they'd drive him to the hospital and I just nodded. They took off and a couple minutes later I followed in a car driven by a few more of his friends. The terrain was rugged as we were offroad for our campsite. It was very bumpy and I have no idea why any of us thought it was a good idea to transport Craig ourselves, but it didn't cross any of our minds at the time. I had no idea what had actually happened but his friends seemed to think it was just a concussion.
It was about 30 minutes but we made it to Olympic Medical Center, the small but efficient hospital in Port Angeles. Craig was already back in the ER when I got there. I was in my pajama pants, a tank top, a hoody and flip flops. Luckily I had grabbed my wallet. I could hear Craig screaming and the nurses were asking me questions about his medical history and our insurance. I filled out forms and they brought me back to his room where the Dr was trying to gently pick the rocks out of Craig's face and in particular the part of his upper lip hanging on by a thread. They were doing a physical examination of the damage and ordering test after test. At first they thought just a couple broken bones maybe or a minor back injury but every time they ran a test they found more wrong with him and then ordered more. I kept trying to ask what was going on and the story kept changing as the ER team was trying to pinpoint all the damage. It definitely was not a concussion. At this point it was about 2:30am and I was all alone. Craig's friends had been drinking (I had not) and wanted to go back to the campsite and sleep it off so they gave me their cell numbers and said to call when I needed a ride or anything. So, there I was in a city I didn't know all by myself in my pajamas.
I again heard Craig screaming and learned they were putting the catheter in. Another hour went by and they mentioned needing him to go to a Trauma Center. Um, what??? Ok, so this was bad. This was really bad. I was freaking out about money, too. I know that sounds stupid in a time like that, but all I could think about was our mortgage (for the house we'd just bought!) and the $700plus of child support we'd just been ordered to pay monthly and I was afraid of how much insurance wouldn't cover or even if we had insurance yet. His employer wasn't supposed to enroll him for a few days but Praise the Lord they did it early and it literally became effective the day of his accident!!! Talk about providence.
So, somewhere around 3am the ER physician ordered a helicopter to take Craig to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. However, that morning had a huge cloud/fog cover and it was not safe for the flight. We waited and waited with Craig hanging on and moaning and moaning and saying over and over to me, "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry." Eventually the Dr realized that we'd be waiting all day for the cloud cover to lift so he ordered a fixed wing flight from the airport. I thought I'd be able to go with him but was told I'd need separate transportation. All the way from Port Angeles to Seattle! I tried calling Craig's friends back at the campsite but most didn't answer. One did and she asked if I could take a cab to the campsite and then get Craig's car and drive to Seattle myself. My insistence that this was really serious and Craig could die and I didn't have any cash and I was scared didn't seem to matter. She ended the call saying, "sorry." I was all alone. I had been trying to call my parents all night but they weren't answering. I finally got my dad around 4:30am and he said he could come get me. Although I realized that if he did it'd be 1 1/2 hours for him to get there and then another 2 hours (at least) to get to Seattle. I then remembered that Craig's sister and brother-in-law (Karyn and Jim) live in Port Angeles. I didn't know them very well since Craig and I had only been together 2 years but I gave them a call. Jim answered and graciously offered to come right down to the hospital and drive me to my parents house in Poulsbo. He came to the hospital and gave me a great big hug and was such good support. I just couldn't handle being alone any more. He drove me all the way to Poulsbo and I'm sure he was supposed to be at work. I could barely say a word the whole ride. I was exhausted from only getting a couple hours of sleep but also terrified about how this accident had changed the course of our life and that my husband might never be the same, if alive at all. At the time I left the hospital Craig was being prepared for his flight and I didn't even know if he had use of his limbs. Before leaving Port Angeles Jim took me back to the campsite to get Craig's wallet and car keys and I had to walk past the pile of bloody rocks. Wow. I left our tent and everything in it knowing I didn't have time to pick everything up.

I got to my parents home around 7am or 8am (I think). I called the hospital and Craig had not arrived yet. I then told my mom what had happened and asked her to make phone calls to my boss and Craig's boss to let them know we wouldn't be at work the next day. I couldn't talk on the phone or even really talk at all without crying. I was devastated. My mom took notes of everything and started a notebook of information for me about who she called and what was going on with Craig.
After much insistence from my mom I took a shower and changed (admittedly it did help me feel a lot better) and my mom, dad, and I left a little while after that for Seattle. Around 11am Craig was in the ER at Harborview Medical Center. Someone came out to the waiting room and went over insurance stuff with me and told me not to worry that there was help available and just to focus on my family right now. She said he'd be going up to the Intensive Care Unit once the ER could get him stable. Then she led us back to his corner of the ER. A handsome, kind young doctor with gentle blue eyes was taking care of him. I was in shock, just sort of numb. Craig's chin and nose were nearly flat to the rest of his face ( his chin was actually indented on one side). His cheeks and forehead were extremely swollen and also purple and bloody, with his eyes swollen shut. I don't remember if he could talk at all but I'm pretty sure at that point he was very out of it and not able to talk. He did not at all look like my husband. He looked like the girl on Grey's Anatomy a couple seaon's ago whose face got smashed. My dad took a couple pictures before the security officer came over and put the kabosh on that. The ER Dr was undoing the messy lip stitches the Port Angeles hospital did and trying to clean our more little pebbles and save his upper lip. We were led back out to the waiting room while they did scans and more tests. My mom made more phone calls and let Craig's ex know what happened in case we'd need to fly his son up to see him one last time. My mom said she cried and promised to call DSHS and cancel child support for the time being (side note- she never did that) and also said she'd work on getting jacob a flight (never did that either).

A few hours later Craig was taken to the ICU on floor 9 which is actually the Burn Unit and Trauma overflow since the Trauma Unit was full. He had the best nurses there and had one on one care. There was always a nurse in his room 24/7 to watch him and bring him back the many times he'd stop breathing.  There were no plans yet for surgeries as he was way too swollen. It was a waiting game. I was not allowed to stay in his room so I went home with my parents that night and the wonderful nurses told me to call them directly any time I wanted for reassurance and they would tell me exactly how he was doing. Just being able to call them before I went to bed to make sure he was still alive was at least some comfort. I went back the next morning on the 8am Bainbridge Ferry. Harborview has a free shuttle available to employees and visitors that picks you up at the ferry and brings you there so that was awesome. I did that every day for the next almost two weeks, staying the whole day and going home when it was late at night. I would usually drive to our home in Bremerton and water our new flowers I'd just planted, check the mail, and then drive back to my parent's home in Poulsbo to sleep. That first week was really a blur. Craig does not remember anything from falling off his bike to 1 1/2 weeks later. He doesn't remember me visiting and sitting with him all day or anything that happened. I, however, remember it all. He had his first surgery on July 4th and it was over 8 hours long. I believe that one was for his back. After that it was one surgery after another spaced just enough apart that his body could recover from the post surgery swelling. He had large metal screws and rods put in his back and then was fitted with a body brace he had to wear 23 out of every 24 hours for the next three months. They didn't do any surgery on his neck hoping it would heal itself over time. He wore a Miami J collar for that. I don't remember when but they started doing the facial surgeries after the back surgeries were done. This included many small metal plates in his chin that they literally screwed his many broken bones onto. They put a metal plate under his left eye for that bone and also put titanium pieces in his nose. There was then a surgery to wire his jaw shut. He could not open his mouth at all. It's like closing your mouth so top and bottom teeth touch and then not being able to open. Not fun! That had to stay on for 2 1/2 months.

A little before the 1 1/2 week mark he was taken from the ICU to a more normal floor, meaning he had to share a room and had lots of different nurses all the time who didn't speak the best English. He had a call button if he needed anything but what would happen is he'd press the button and the nurse would ask, "what can I get for you?" and then he wouldn't answer since he couldn't talk and they'd just leave him!!!! It was so infuriating and Craig was scared every time I left in case something happened and he was all alone. It was so awful. I was worried every night when I left but I wasn't allowed to stay in his room. Every morning when I got there Craig looked so relieved that I came back and that someone could finally get him help. He would try and scribble on a pad if he needed something or I'd ask questions until we could pinpoint the problem. We had to tell the nurses multiple times, "he can't talk, so if he buzzes you, GO IN THERE!" My mom even called the Charge nurse a few times.

It had been 9 days and Craig had not even been able to get down some chicken broth. They were threatening him with a feeding tube and that threat worked! He got down some clear liquids and maybe some milk. After that he made good efforts to eat something (rather 'drink' something) every day and we didn't end up needing to go the feeding tube route. Then it became time for him to try and get out of bed. For those of you that have been through it you know how much even 1 week of laying flat in bed can really mess with your muscles. It was huge for him to even sit up in bed. He was dizzy and sweating like crazy. We just worked on sitting up for a while that day. The next day I came in and was told that he had gotten up (with the physical therapist of course) and very slowly walked a few steps with the walker and security belt. I was shocked! He looked so proud and I know he'd wanted to do it for me. Going through this ordeal was so taxing on us and every day that I left Craig thought I wouldn't come back the next day. He felt so guilty for his stupid mistake (staying up late being stupid, showing off with his buddies) and that he had put us through all of this. I will admit (and Craig knows this) that I did feel anger sometimes and sometimes I did want to leave. But I knew that wasn't the admirable choice and I knew that he needed me more than ever. He was learning to really trust the Lord and to trust me. After the day that he started eating and then walking he seemed to improve a lot every day. He got to where he could slowly make the rounds down the hall and back, and while still really sweaty and worn out, he could do it. He mastered a few stairs and was able to scramble an egg with the occupational therapist. At about 2 or 2 1/2 weeks (I can't remember), he was discharged to go home (with regular appointments in Seattle with his multiple surgeons). Believe it or not we took the hospital shuttle, slowly walked onto the ferry and got home that way with no car! My mom picked us up and drove us home on the Bainbridge side. My Aunt Karen went grocery shopping and got the high calorie items I needed to make his liquid meals. It didn't feel like Craig was ready to go home but the hospital really likes to see their patients go home asap because of the risk of infections like MRSA from long hospital stays. So, home we went. Craig was not allowed to even think of going back to work for 3 months and he couldn't drive. His face was very much still healing with a few more surgeries to go. His back was recovering in the full brace, he still had the neck collar and his mouth was wired shut. I got very good at making high protein, high calorie smoothies and sticking soups in the blender. Whatever he ate needed to fit through a straw in the corner of his mouth and also contain hopefully 2000 calories per day. Even with that amount he still lost 30lbs in a matter of weeks (some of which was obviously muscle). My strong, hard working husband was stuck sitting on the couch watching movies and walking around our tiny home. I went back to work after a few days so I wouldn't lose my job and also to pay our mortgage. Each morning I got up and made him a high calorie liquid breakfast, got him all his medications, then I would make sure he was ok and had a movie to watch (I don't think we had cable) and a phone nearby. I hurried to get ready for work and tried to suck up the tears and be professional. I promised to come home on my lunchbreak. I would go to work and try to be a good teller and help my customers but all I wanted to do was crawl in a hole and sob. I would race home on my lunch and make Craig a high calorie liquid lunch, do all his medications, then spend the next 30-45 minutes on the phone with insurance companies and hospitals trying to work out the bills. It was exhausting. Then I would race back to work and try to hide the fact that I sobbed the whole way there. My co-workers were so kind and hopefully the customers didn't think I was too weird for being red-faced and super sensitive. I don't think anyone really knew how bad our situation was and I just didn't have the energy to talk about it. After work I would go home and begin the slow task of removing the dressings under Craig's body cast, giving him a shower, putting on new dressings and putting the body cast and neck brace back on. He literally couldn't help at all with this so it took a lot of time, energy and strength from me. Often I'd shave his face so he wouldn't feel so messy but I couldn't shave certain parts because of all the healing wounds. Then I'd get him settled in the living room and once again make him a high-calorie liquid meal, do all his medications, and try to think of something for myself to eat and then go through all the many bills that had arrived that day. So went my life for 2 1/2 months. Craig was dying of boredom as we didn't have a dog at the time and most of his 'friends' seemed to disappear after the accident. He felt so lonely all day and also super anxious to get back to work. Tim Ryan Construction was graciously holding his job for him. During the 2 1/2 months of being home before going back to work Craig had a few more face surgeries, mainly on his nose. It had been so badly crushed that it was very difficult for his otolaryngologists to reconstruct it. After the 3rd nose surgery they told us if they did any more he may not have a nose ( I believe they actually said it might end up like Michael Jackson- RIP) so we'd just have to live with it. The nose surgeries were also for things like a constantly running tear duct and breathing issues- not just cosmetic :) Although I do have to tell you that my favorite facial feature of Craig's prior to the accident was his adorable nose. I always told him how much I loved it and that I hoped our children would someday have it. It was a bit devastating for that nose to be gone and just the fact that he no longer looked like the man I married. I mean, I realized that we'd get old and gray and probably fat, but I never thought his actual facial features would change. It was so hard for me and I know he felt really bad about his new face, too. He saw himself as a monster. All this after not even a year of marriage! I was 22 and Craig was 27. We spent our 1st anniversary (July 16th) doing nothing in particular. What's the point of going out to eat or getting your cake topper out of the freezer when your jaw is wired shut! Craig eventually went back to work and life went on, although it was very challenging for a solid two years. Our marriage went through more than I'd wish on anyone. I felt bitterness and anger that Craig put us in the situation he did. I felt sorrow for all I'd been through and wished that like Craig I just wouldn't remember it. I was SO stressed about money. Medical bills just kept coming and coming and my lousy $10.50 an hour job at the Credit Union just didn't cut it.

Once his jaw wires were cut and his body brace and neck brace were retired (after three months), we began the tedious and expensive task of putting his mouth back together. When he landed on his face he efficiently managed to knock out a couple teeth, grind a couple down to the pulp, and crack a dozen more. His mouth was a decaying mess. It was barely salvagable. And we were told that although they wanted to save most of the teeth that because of the trauma to his jaw it was possible the nerves could die at any time over the next few years and his teeth might just fall out. Oh joy! Some of the dental was covered under our insurance company's 'dental accident clause', but it took phone calls to the insurance company every day to remind them of the accident and what the work was for otherwise I'd get an explanation of benefits saying ,"patient does not have dental coverage." And then I'd have to call and say, "I know he doesn't have dental, this is his dental accident coverage, please review all the notes from every other time I've called!" And then I'd have to retell the whole story of the accident, living it all over again. So frustrating, as you can imagine. Because of the extent of the damage to his mouth and also his jaw being shut and his lip having major stitches and scarring, we were unable to kiss for over a year. I sort of got used to it and still to this day struggle with kissing and the intimacy it brings. It's hard to hide your feelings or your flaws or your anger or your hurt when you are that close to another person; face to face. It's just requires such a huge amount of trust for me, even more so than other types of intimacy. It's sort of hard to explain but I know it comes from all we went through. It's something that gets easier with time and I'll keep working through (and honestly is probably somewhat to do with all the men that hurt me (bio dad, boyfriends, etc) prior to Craig).

Right after the accident I began looking for another job with better pay and benefits since we didn't know if Craig would be able to go back to work. Six months later I started a great job with Bank of America as a personal banker and we were able to slowly get back on our financial feet. It's been 3 1/2 years now since this whole ordeal and we don't talk about it too much. We know what we endured and that it almost cost us our marriage. We are survivors. It's allowed us to see marriage as something you commit to over the long haul. We are in love and feel more committed now than ever. I wasn't sure I'd ever get there in the middle of the hell we went through. Since then we've encountered an expensive custody battle with Craig's ex, infertility treatments, and Craig getting laid off to name just a few things. We've had quite a journey! My hope and prayer is that God has brought us through all of this to teach others and to encourage others; perservere, don't give up, let go of selfishness! Our journey is definitely not over, but I'm proud of how far we've made it. Most people have no clue what we've endured or that Craig looks different than he used to. I hope that's a testament to the God that we serve and that He can give us beauty for ashes. He WANTS to give us beauty for ashes. To take our failures and our messes and turn them around and redeem them. Redeem us. We don't deserve his love or favor, but he still wants to give it to us.

I hope I can encourage you to press into your marriage. To love your spouse with a real and true love that is prepared to fight the good fight. I hope you can commit to make it work and not see divorce as an option. And I hope you can open your heart and let the God who created you, who loves you more than anything, transform your life and give you joy no matter what set of circumstances you find yourself in. May God richly bless you this Christmas.
~ Diana

My hubby in Oct 09!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What Every New Mom Should Know About Breastfeeding

How to establish a good milk supply-
NURSE ON DEMAND. I don't care what any well meaning nurse or the books say about getting your little pumpkin on a schedule or teaching your newborn a routine; for a newborn, you need to be on their schedule! It is super important to establish a good milk supply in the beginning and then you can tone it down a bit as time goes by. This is much easier than starting slow and trying to build it. Breast milk only sits in the stomach for 45 minutes, meaning your baby is going to be hungry a lot. You will probably feel like, 'why even wear a shirt'? That is normal and what you should be feeling. If you feed only every 3 or 4 hours and let your newborn sleep through the night (as they sometimes do if you don't wake them for feeds) you will be doing you and your child a great disservice. Most Dr's tell you to wake your baby every 2-3 hours for feedings after you leave the hospital. The important thing to know about this is that it's not just for your baby but mostly for your boobs. You are establishing supply and demand. The more you demand the more your boobs will supply. I fed Eliana every 1 1/2 -2 hours during the day and often every 3 hours at night for the first few months. She was never too high on the weight charts (she ranged between 25 and 75 percentile) and I never had a supply issue. It is nearly impossible to overfeed a breastfed baby, so err on the side of feeding too often rather than not enough. When in doubt, nurse!

In a nutshell-
1. Offer the breast every time they root, seem fussy and you know it's not a dirty diaper or something else, etc. (Even if it's every 45 minutes! It could be a growth spurt).
2. Wake your infant (generally if they are under 11 lbs) every few hours at night for feedings.
3. Let your infant set the feeding schedule. Their bodies know what they need and they will tell your breasts how much to supply (That being said, babies that are lazy eaters or sleep for long periods of time MUST be woken for feedings for their own sake and your milk supply). Six hours is generally the absolute longest a newborn should be allowed to go between feedings at night.

As time goes on and your newborn becomes a full fledged baby you can work on getting life into more of a schedule for your own sake, but to do that with a newborn is really just going to sabotage your breastfeeding efforts. Many mother's of newborns feel that all they do day and night is nurse their child. This is normal and honestly I think how it is supposed to be. Laundry, dishes, vacuuming, and dinner can always wait (or better yet get Hubby to help!). But your infant and your milk supply should be top priority. This is such a fleeting time in your life, learn to enjoy it. Get a book or a TV series or something you can do while your child is nursing and learn to enjoy the peace and quiet. You will miss this time later on!

Many new mothers seem to want to put their children on a schedule, ie. nursing every 3 hours or every 2 1/2 or every 4, etc. I can't even tell you how many mom's I've heard say, "well it hasn't been 3 hours, I'm not going to nurse yet." And then my thought is, "WHAT THE!"

The 'feed every three hours' rule of thumb really only applies to formula fed babies. Formula is hard to digest and therefore stays in their little belly's longer so they don't need to eat as often. Breast milk is custom made for their specific nutritional needs that day and is easily digested and used by their bodies. They digest it quickly! Feeding your newborn every 3 hours (as in, to a T, on a schedule) will often lead to you not having enough milk and not being able to keep up with the demands of a growing baby. There will be times that your baby will need to eat every 45 minutes (Elly did that a lot!). These are referred to as "cluster feeds". They do this on purpose to tell your boobs to produce more in preparation for a growth spurt. There may also be times that it does end up being every 3 hours or even 4 and they are fine. I want to encourage you to not be afraid to feed often. I have seen so many moms have their children on schedules and end up quitting nursing because they couldn't keep up. This is so sad and completely avoidable- feed more often! I am not advocating overfeeding babies or forcing nursing sessions when they clearly don't want it. Listen to your supply and your baby. Eliana ate very often and has always been in the 25-75% weight range and 95% height range. Definitely not a fat baby, but a healthy one.

Many women end up giving up on nursing because they feel they are not satisfying their baby and that they do not produce enough. Very rarely is that actually true. When I ask a mom why she thinks her baby is getting enough, the answer is commonly, "well s/he is hungry all the time!" My thought- "Good!" A new baby should be a hungry baby. If they fuss and want to eat every hour it does not mean you are doing anything wrong. That being said there are times when it might be a problem. If your baby is suckling for 45 minutes and you're not seeing a good swallow (watch here on Dr. Newman's Breastfeeding Website- it's incredible) AND/OR if your baby is constantly getting a shallow latch (not enough areola in the mouth) and the latch may be hurting you....I then start to think there might be a tongue-tie going on. Your pediatrician or lactation consultant can check for you. I've heard a Dr say, "well it's a small tongue-tie, not a big deal. If your breastfeeding is still having issues in a couple weeks we'll just have you supplement." WHAT!??? Um, hello, this poor mother is going to have to supplement BECAUSE of the tongue-tie! To clip a tongue-tie in an infant is a very easy, quick procedure. Your baby will be able to nurse again within minutes. If you wait til your child is a toddler it will then become a surgical procedure and a much bigger deal. If you choose not to clip a tongue tie you may continue having breastfeeding struggles and your child may have a speech impediment (think Rosie Pope of Pregnant in Heels).

Other items to help milk supply:

Lots of water for mommy! General rule of thumb is when you go pee you shouldn't be able to tell that you just did. So pretty much clear water. That being said, too much water (like gallons and gallons a day) can actually decrease your supply. It's the whole 'everything in moderation' slogan. Let your pee be the guide :)

Fenugreek- Herbal supplement. It has been said that you know you're taking enough if you start to smell like Maple Syrup. According to KellyMom.Com you should take at least 3500mg daily,  KellyMom on Fenugreek , to help with milk production (*note- this is much more than the bottle will tell you to take as that is for it just being a dietary supplement). You can pick up Fenugreek a lot of different places, I recommend Super Supplements.

Rest- Breast milk production really ramps up while you are sleeping. I know you're thinking, "Sleep? What sleep? I'm SO tired!" I know, I get it. But that being said, try to rest whenever you can.

Oatmeal- I have heard this works and it's worth a try. Definitely not going to hurt you. Maybe have oatmeal for breakfast. Babies with sensitive tummies sometimes get gas from mommy eating oatmeal, so just watch out for that.

Lactation Cookies- These are spectacular and yes they really do work! This is the recipe- Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies . I ate a ton of these (I mean seriously- a TON), ha! The Brewer's Yeast is the magic ingredient among others.

Beer- Yes, most of us have heard, "just drink a beer!" Well sure, I suppose if you really want one you can, but wouldn't you just rather eat some cookies??? As I said, it's the Brewer's Yeast that is the magic ingredient- NOT the alcohol :)

Fenugreek Granola- Central Market carries a lot of different granola in their bulk section that have fenugreek in them. Read the label to find the right one, there's a lot! :)

Pumping- This goes back to the supply and demand scenario. The more you nurse/pump the more milk your breasts should make. I will say, however, that you will not have the same letdown and hormonal interaction with your pump as you do with a nursing baby. Pumping usually takes much longer and you often won't get as much as if your baby nursed. For example, when Eliana would nurse first thing in the morning at around one year old she would gulp for 5-10 minutes and I'd be empty. With a pump it took me 30 minutes and I'd get 7-9 oz and still not feel empty. Babies are magicians at getting milk out of our boobs.The pump is a poor substitute for them, yet really the only other thing we can use. So, keep in mind that while a pump is a great tool for increasing milk supply, it should not replace your baby actually nursing.

Nipple Shield- When the question was asked at LLL how many moms have used one at some point in their nursing journey, over 1/3 of the women raised their hands (me being included!). If you have inverted nipples especially, you may need a shield. And on that note, you may not know you have you inverted nipples. When someone says 'inverted' it's easy to picture a weird looking inverted nipple, but often you cannot tell just by looking. It has to do with the structure of the internal part of your nipple and if your baby will be able to draw it out enough for feeding. If not, your poor baby will be sucking and sucking and getting nothing or next to nothing and you will be in pain! Nipple Shields are easily available at Target, Walmart, etc. They cost around $6 and are clear. You only wear them during the nursing time, not all day. I kept one in the diaper bag and one at home and an extra in the nursery. Hospital lactation consultants will have them available for you also. I do believe that shields can end up being used longer than needed though and then it's hard to get your baby off of it. I recommend seeing a lactation consultant after a couple weeks to get off of it if you are having trouble doing it on your own. I used one for over a year with Eliana and it was a pain. I have not used it even once with Evangeline :)

Other misc items:
Many babies are jaundiced shortly after birth and require treatment for that. Breast milk naturally contains vital nutrient that fight jaundice. I was a little disillusioned to find out that the Bili-light Eliana wore was only supposed to remove 15% of the problem. What a hassle for a small amount of change. Breastfeeding works hand in hand with Bili-lights, so give your babe unlimited time on each breast.

Most hospitals and even counties have lactation consultants available for you and they really do want to help you. You'll want to get your baby on your breasts as soon as you can after birth. If you're getting any resistance from staff, request the lactation consultant asap (be firm!) and she can help fight for you :)
I know that Kitsap County offers a lactation consultant that will come to your home after you've been home a couple days. Take them up on this free help. Often you'll feel fine in the hospital and then you get home and the rubber meets the road and you start to panic. Having someone come to your home can really help. A breastfeeding friend can be a great resource and having a support group like a local La Leche League Chapter is wonderful, too. Don't be afraid to ask for help. I guarantee whatever difficulty you are experiencing, someone else has faced it before! Breastfeeding really takes commitment and a "whatever it takes I'm going to make this work" attitude. The first few months are usually the hardest as your baby, your boobs, and you are getting in the swing of things. Over time it'll be second nature for both of you and you'll learn to really "mother through breastfeeding."

PS. I love this website for finding all sorts of info: La Leche League

For some reason this pic is really unclear on the blog, but it's from Harrison Medical Center late 2009. A friend of mine took this picture showing their advice to feed every 3-4 hours! YIKES! And yes, she had major supply issues following that advice. Things turned around when she started feeding On Demand (yes, it's more than a Comcast remote button).

Friday, December 18, 2009

Inspiring Mommy Group

Eliana and I had Moms & More today (our mommy group). We always enjoy it but today it felt particularly inspired.
Here's a few highlights:
One of my table leaders shared with us about Stormie O'Martin's book, "The Power of a Praying Wife". It was so insightful and really got us thinking about praying for our husbands and just praying for everything in general. Some of what she talked about was how when something happens we often go to prayer as our number 3 (or 4 or 5, etc) line of defense. We wear ourselves trying to fix the problem when we could just pray about it first and save ourselves so much stress! Today on the drive to M&M's I found myself feeling a little anxiety about the weather and some crazy drivers. I immediately took it to the Lord in prayer and just found myself praying the whole way. All the little things that were bugging me or worrying me I released to the Lord. I want prayer to be a habit in my life, not a last resort. I really think that the reason why I was able to have peace and move on from Eliana's sickness and nursing strike was from praying (and those praying for me). Nothing I did in my human power made a difference, but giving the control to God and realizing I don't have control anyway....made all the difference.
Another mentor mom commented how she was feeling a little bummed about Christmas and the economy and just everything I think we're all feeling this year. She had her tree out and was not exactly excited to decorate it. Then she pulled out an ornament that her child had made years ago and she realized that the ornaments are a collection of her life and memories and she gets to display them on the tree. Much like how Jesus was displayed on tree for us. Both the Christmas tree and the cross that Jesus died on were dead. Both trees had pieces of us stuck to them. Our Christmas trees hopefully have happy memories in the ornaments. But Jesus took all of our sin and shortcomings to the cross for us. I think this is an incredible parellel and we were all blown away. I had never thought of it like this! The tree is not just for putting presents under but it's a collage of our life displayed. I hope that every year as I put my tree up I can remember this and think of Jesus on the tree for me and take time to be grateful (I feel like I didn't explain that very well, but it's past midnight, so forgive me. I hope it sorta made sense!)
Pastor Tom also shared a great story from us from "Searching for God Knows What." Very thought provoking. We were all chuckling during the story but then in the end it was brought home and there was silence. We were all busy thinking! The main point was about how people may view or see God because of what they see in the world, on tv, in stories, or God forbid, in us. Do we turn people off to wanting to know God?
As you can see there was just much to absorb this morning. Wow!

Ok, subject change. I made Tawny port/marionberry cornish hens and bacon and parsley green beans for dinner. Both out of my new Taste of Home Magazine (which I totally love). Well, the green beans were actually supposed to be with mushrooms but I didn't have any so I subbed bacon :) The port sauce was easy to make and tasted great. But I fell a bit short on the cooking of the hens. I think I didn't thaw them all the way first so the cooking time took like 2x as long as it should have. The first time I brought it out the meat thermometer said it was done so we served it and took a bite and yikes! Not cooked all the way! So, back in the oven it went but understandably we were pretty leary after that. The green beans were absolutely yummy. Super easy, too, only took me maybe 5 minutes. Cooked up chopped bacon in olive oil and butter (Hey Paula Deen, I am listening!), then added chopped parsley, sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dry bread crumbs. Then you add the cooked green beans ( I prefer the organic ones from Costco) and top with grated Romano. Delish!

My brain is fuzzy...better stop writing :)
Oh, and thank you so much to all my readers! I read every comment and I love the feedback. Thank you!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

'Boobs' are feeling better;Making mommy friends;Bad chicken;Baby Model

Ok, so I'm now starting day 4 of trying to get my milk to dry up. The pain is getting much better. I think day 2 was the worst. Everything, and I do mean everything, hurt! It hurt just to pick Eliana up! I was getting scared about how long that pain would last. I took prescription strength Ibuprofin which probably helped a little, but like most things it just takes time. I did do the cabbage trick for a little while, but they just don't stay cold very long inside a bra so the relief is short lived. What actually felt better was standing with the freezer door open! haha
I'm getting used to not nursing or pumping and it's actually kind of nice :) And not wearing an ugly nursing bra is nice, too. I know you will say that they do make cute/sexy nursing bras, but that is absolutely false if your milk twins reach the gargantuan size mine did (that would be an I cup, did you know that existed?). We'll see how much they deflate after the milk is all dried up. Part of me hopes a lot so they'll get much smaller and then the other part of me hopes not much since I'd rather not be able to tuck them into my belt. Getting the picture? haha
Yesterday Eliana got her flu booster and the H1N1. She took them like a champ, I was so proud! No screams, just a sad little cry that seemed to say, "How could you? That was so mean!" After that we went to a cookie exchange with 3 other mom's and their kiddo's and had a great time. Relationships don't just happen out of thin air, it really takes effort and being intentional about it. So althought I am normal and like everyone else get an invite and think about the effort of packing up all the kids stuff and will it fit into the day, etc....you just gotta do it! I learn so much from being around other mommy's that love their family and love God, it's a worthwhile investment of my time and resources to be around them. Do you have a best friend, do you have a group of people that challenge, encourage, and grow you? We all need these kind of people in our lives. My best friends are friends I made years ago. They are the kind of people that never judge me and that love me unconditionally. It seems in each stage of life I make new friends and some people are friends for a season and some are friends for life. My new mommy friends have been wonderful and I'm sure that many of them I will be friends with for years and years to come. It's completely worth the effort and willingness to be vulnerable to open up to these new women :) Plus it's not entirely fair to call my friends with no children blabbering about how Eliana won't poop or what kind of rash there is or how she hates brushing her teeth.......but my mommy friends totally get it and empathize!
On a side note, during the first week of Eliana's nursing strike (see previous 'Strike' blogs) I found myself eating more Dove milk chocolate caramels than any person should (and I know, not good for someone with PCOS!).......and the particular bag I bought had encouraging things inside the wrapper. I wanted to share 3 of them that really seemed to fit for the occasion:
Don't take it personal.
You are that Superwoman, so enjoy!
Compromise is a sign on strength, no weakness.

I realize those could fit most situations, but they were very fitting for me life. It was extremely hard not to take the strike personal, I sure didn't feel like a superwoman when my baby kept rejecting me, and eventually I did have to compromise and realize that it might be the end of nursing for us. I just thought it was funny that I actually got something out of messages in chocolate!

Last night I made rosemary garlic chicken (again), hoping it wouldn't taste like a salt-lick like last time. I had assumed it was salty because I didn't measure (I usually don't measure).....so I made it again hoping for better results and this time used the tsp measurer. Well, I gotta tell you, it was pretty much just as salty! I don't know what the heck is going on. The rosemary, garlic, and sherry flavors are yummy but totally overpowered by salt. I'm beginning to think the recipe has a typo (it calls for 1 tsp salt) and I even used low sodium chicken broth. Not sure whether to try it again or just invent my own rosemary/sherry reduction chicken recipe.

Oh, and yesterday I got the CD from Eliana's modeling shoot in November with Baby Beau and Belle ( http://www.babybeauandbelle.com/ and http://www.christeninggowns.com/ ) and the photo's are so darling. There are nearly 300, so I'm super greatful for the opportunity and the beautiful free pictures. You can see her on http://www.christeninggowns.com/ , just type in ella or joli in the search bar. Currently she is on the homepage :) I feel like one of those crazy pageant moms...I'm just so proud that she is my daughter!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Warning: I say the word boobs in this blog :)

Watched Julie and Julia last night, wondered how many people started a blog after watching it. I said to Craig, "you know I already had mine before this, right? " haha. The meals looked amazing, makes me want to make that beef meal in the pot with the wine.......can't remember it's name.

I am on day one of trying to wean myself. I know that sounds weird but it's essentially what I'm doing since Eliana has already weaned herself. It's just my poor huge, full of milk boobs that need to be weaned. I only pumped 3 times yesterday for a few minutes each time and still got 15oz. I haven't pumped since 9ish last night. I am full! I read lots of blogs and websites and of course read all sorts of different advice. The one consensus I did find was NOT to bind. Apparently that often causes mastitis (infection of the breasts, very very painful) or a clogged duct (again, very painful). Both of which I don't want, so no binding. The other advice I came upon many times from mommy blogs and medical professionals was.......cabbage leaves :) Seems weird, but it's also very natural and really can't hurt. I read that they should be very cold and that is part of what helps. Supposedly there is also something in cabbage that acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. Well, cold cabbage leaves did not sound very nice last night when I was reading it, but by this evening sounded ok. Let me tell you, it felt wonderful. For about 30 seconds. Then they got warm and I couldn't even tell they were in. I'm starting to think longingly about the economy size bag of frozen peas in the freezer! We'll see. I'm nervous about tomorrow morning as that as when they are always the fullest. Although I can't imagine any fuller than right now.
Some people say keep pumping here and there to help with the pain and fullness but overall it seems that if I pump it will just delay the milk from being reabsorbed by my body, which is a weird concept in itself. The cold turky method seemed to be the most popular. Sort of like grin and bear it and get through it faster. Although I did read a few moms who hadn't nursed in over a year and still had milk at the ready. Weird! It's all about the hormone Prolactin (thus 'lactating'). My body needs to realize that no baby is needing the milk and then it will produce a Prolactin inhibitor. Very interesting actually. Breastfeeding and milk are pretty fascinating. Craig and I came up with interesting questions last night. So, we know that someone can make their body create milk........like if you adopt a baby it is often possible to pump several times a day for several months and you'll be able to lactate (amazing, right!). But, is that milk customized to the adopted baby the same way it is for a vaginally (don't mean to be gross) born child? God was so genius when he created breasts and all their multitude of functions and how amazing it is that we can sustain the life of a child with a whitish substance that comes from them. Its flavor changes with what we eat and also the needs of a child. Like when a child is over a year the milk becomes more fatty to keep up with the calorie needs of a toddler. I could see that first hand in the refrigerated milk I had in the fridge last week. There was a very thick layer of fat on top and I don't remember it being that thick when Elly was little. I have also met an amazing mommy friend through La Leche League who had a little guy born extremely premature. She was under tons of pressure from the NICU to supplement him with formula but she kept insisting for them to do a calorie count on her breastmilk. She finally got them to do it and believe it or not her breastmilk was 1/3 more calories (correct me if I'm wrong K.G., maybe even higher?) than a normal mother's milk. Her body new that a little baby was fighting to survive and needed those extra calories. Incredible!!! I'd like to see formula try and customize itself to each individual child; not gonna happen.

Today was also the first day I've worn a real, non-nursing bra in over a year. Woohoo! Luckily my old ones still fit ok. We'll see about that once all the milk is dried up. Anyway, here's to a new chapter in my life. We're looking forward to our dr apt in 2 weeks (to see about getting prego again) and curious how it will go. Like will she write prescriptions that day or want to run tests first, etc. I don't know. I'm hoping since we've been through this already that we can just go ahead and get the show on the road. And let's pray the prescriptions won't be too insanely expensive!

I can't believe it's almost Christmas! We had planned to not buy any Christmas presents this year, not even stocking stuff. We just don't have any extra money and don't know for sure that Craig has a job after Christmas (may be getting laid off again, who knows). We didn't buy any gifts last year either (or for our birthdays or anniversary for that matter) so it's nothing really new, but still kinda sad :( However, I found this cute little child kitchen for $15 and we had to get it. I'm sure it's kinda cheapy and of course doesn't hold a candle to the awesome one at Costco. But, oh well. It's something and Eliana will get to open a big box. At this point in the game I'm just thankful for the roof over our heads, 2 cars, food in our fridge and clothes to wear. The rest is all extras and really non-important. What matters is my family and the impact we make on other people. It is a little tough when it comes to church and things like that where you are asked to participate in giving to needy families and part of me is thinking, "um, I can't even buy anything for my family, how the heck will I or should I buy anything for someone else?" But I will suck it up and find a little money somewhere and buy a toy for a needy child. I know that God sees my heart and he'll provide for us like he always does. There has never been a time that God hasn't come through for us. Even through court issues/child support/custody battle (expensive!) for his son, Craig's accident that came with a $300k pricetag, infertility treatments, Craig being laid off , etc.....no matter what comes our way God always pulls through for us. We may not have all the things we 'want', but we sure as heck have all the things we 'need'.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Strike- My decision

So, it's now been a full 10 days of the nursing strike. I can tell you I've come a long way in that time and am finally, finally (!!!) feeling some peace about it. Before I go further I just wanted to say that part of the reason why I decided to go into detail on my blog about this stuff was because as I was dealing with the strike and trying to find info from other mother's online I wasn't finding a whole lot about babies the same age as Eliana. It's my desire that if another mother finds herself in my shoes that maybe she'll find this and not feel so alone.

Ok, so here we are 1 1/2 weeks out and I feel completely different than I did last week. To be honest, I was depressed last week. I didn't even want to leave the house much less go to the grocery store or run errands. I didn't really go anywhere or do anything. I showered every day (although one day not til 4pm) and I fed my family and kept up on the laundry, sort of. I just couldn't wrap my head and heart around being a mother without breastfeeding. It's a lifestyle and especially after you've done it for so long. I had no idea when Elly was only a couple months old how much it would become a part of my life and my identity as a mother. I was devastated every time she rejected nursing and it felt like she was rejecting me as her mother. I prayed and prayed and prayed, "God, please remove whatever is blocking her from wanting to nurse. Remind her that she loves it and that it's comforting and won't hurt. If you won't make her nurse again, please give me peace." Well, the week went on and she was not nursing and I had no peace. I was miserable and going out of my mind. I even forgot to make Craig's lunch for work a few times so poor guy had no lunch!
I think it was about 2 days ago I woke up and felt different, like I was me again. Like I had the Lord's peace. Eliana still refused nursing that morning and had a few times the night before, but it didn't bother me that morning when she said no. I just chuckled, said ok, and put her down to play with a sippy cup. I am still feeling that peace and I'm so thankful. Her abrupt nursing strike was honestly one of the hardest things I've been through and if you know my life you know I've been through a lot!!!

I think I have peacefully come to the realization that we are done nursing. Can I keep pumping for 2 months in the hopes that she'll go back to it? Yes. Do I want to do that? No. I feel that the peace I have is my answer on what to do. I need to come to grips with it, not beat myself up, and move on. I need to learn to mother without breastfeeding. It's hard for me to think that I won't be a part of the community of breastfeeding moms. For those of you who have stuck with it and been long term nursers you know what I'm talking about. It would've been nice if I could've had a gradual wean, but things out of my control changed that. I have tried all the advice I could find and tried multiple times. Her reaction is always the same; she shakes her head no and moves away from me.

I have been pumping about 17oz a day and she happily drinks it so I'm sad she'll lose out on that....but on the other hand I am not willing to keep pumping. I will keep going til Saturday when she is officially 14 months and then I can say she nursed til 14 months! After that I need to do a little research on the best way to help myself dry up without getting clogged ducts or something. 

As a matter of business I feel like I should reiterate that children under 18-24 months who abruptly stop nursing are in a nursing strike and there typically is a cause (ear infection, teething, mother yelped when bitten, cold sore, etc). VERY RARELY it is self weaning. I can't even tell you how often someone says that a 5 month old baby is self weaning. This is not happening! Nipple confusion, too many solids, teething, etc, are to blame. A young infant will not self wean but can often go on strike. Please see the La Leche League site for more help. http://www.llli.org/ There are resources available, you just need to reach out. I am so thankful for LLL and my sweet leader, Katie.

On another note, something else that has been on my mind is how God knows my heart. I have been going through this pretty much every day in my head, "what am I going to do at my dr's apt after Christmas? They won't give me Clomid (med I need to conceive) if I'm breastfeeding. But I'm not willing to wean Elly just so we can try again. But on the other hand I don't want to wait to try again. But I don't want to wean!" and back and forth it goes. I have prayed a couple times about it, although not nearly how I should have, but even without me saying it, God knew I was really struggling with this decision and what to do. I even thought about lying to the dr and telling her I'm not breastfeeding so she'd write me the prescription (I know other mom's who've taken it while BF but their docs are in Tacoma). But clearly lying to my dr is not the safest, or most Godly, route. God knew I couldn't make a decision and had this in the back of my mind driving me crazy. He made the decision for me. Could he have had Eliana go back to nursing? Absolutely, it's within his broad range of power. Did He maybe choose to have this strike be the end so I wouldn't have to choose? I think so. So in that way, I'm thankful for how things went. I can go see the dr in a couple weeks and know that I can get prescriptions without lying to the dr or forcing my sweet angel to suddenly wean against her will.

What a road life is. Many things are out of our control. We do what we can with what we've been given. Eliana seems to have a stubborn streak and that is just part of her personality. She is pretty mild and gentle most of the time but I'm seeing that when she makes up her mind about something, don't mess with her ! :) Back when she was a tiny baby she refused to take a pacifier. We tried many brands and it was a no go. One dr suggested using my clean finger on the roof of her mouth so she'd suck and calm down during the months of colic. Well, that did help (slightly and I do mean 'slight'ly) and every little bit of help I took. So, instead of a paci she took my finger. Of course this was inconvenient as I had to keep a finger clean no matter where we were (think shopping carts, eww) and I always had at least one hand tied up. Well, on Mother's Day we were in church and she had just been dedicated to the Lord. We were sitting down in our seats and she was half asleep sucking on my finger, happy as a clam. Later that day she was fussy and tired so I offered my finger and she refused! Pursed her lips and never wanted it again, ever. I remembered this story the other day and realized that she is stubborn once she's made a decision. I can only hope that as her mother I can help direct this tenacity in positive ways through the years!

Well, here I am again, always making this longer than I intend to. I just feel like I have so much in my head. On a good note, since Eliana is not nursing Craig has been able to put her down for bed. I'm glad that he is able to do this and it gives him something more hands on with her. Tonight I even left for a cookie exchange and he did it all by himself! :) Way to go honey.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Nursing Strike-Almost a whole week

So tomorrow morning makes it officially 1 week. I'm finally feeling like myself and not so devastated every time she rejects nursing. I still have no idea if she'll go back to it. Although today when I was pumping she was sort of hanging out near me and I put on the nipple shield and offered it to her and surprisingly she opened up and put it in her mouth and....bit down super hard. OUCH! I didn't yelp or anything but sure wanted to. She almost drew blood. However I still see that as an improvement that she even allowed it in her mouth. I tried again after that and she put it in her a mouth a few more times but only to bite, no sucking whatsoever. After that she kept shaking her head no if I'd say, "Elly, do you want some milky?"
I rocked her to sleep tonight and tried putting the shield in her mouth after she was asleep but she pursed her lips and shook her head no, what a stubborn little booger :)
I'm almost curious to wait this out and see what happens and then part of me is ready to be done with it. It's a tough decision and one I guess I won't make quite yet. Still pumping and up to about 17oz a day.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Nursing Strike; Day 6

Last night I did end up going back into her room to see if she'd nurse while sleeping/sleepy, but she turned her head away and actually ended up waking herself up she got so upset. I put her back down in her crib and she slept the rest of the night. So, that makes 3 times trying while she is asleep, no luck so far. I also tried multiple different times today and she rejected each time. The only different thing today was that I put the shield on my finger and she opened her mouth for it but just bit it really hard. As soon as I put it on myself she shook her head no and crawled away from me :(
I'm still pumping 5 times a day and am getting about 15oz which she drinks. Just today I finally started feeling a little bit more like myself. I've been feeling kind of depressed over the whole situation, just really out of sorts about it. I'm learning that she won't die if she can't nurse and she'll still grow into a happy and well-adjusted person. I'm trying to be thankful for the 13 1/2 months I had. I kind of wish I knew that last Tuesday morning would be our last nursing session so I couldn't really enjoyed it rather than sitting on the couch watching Live with Regis and Kelly. Don't get me wrong, I haven't given up yet, but I am trying to be at peace with where ever things are at as there is only so much I can do. While she is just a baby she is still her own person. We'll see what tomorrow holds. I'm still dreaming that she'll magically open up to nurse as if nothing ever happened.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Strike; Day 5

I found several entries on LLI.org today from mother's whose children near Eliana's age had also striked on nursing. Most were able to return to it while a couple gave up and weaned. It was extremely encouraging to read that these women had the exact same emotions that I am currently experiencing. "Mothering through nursing" is the only way I know to mother. When she is sad she nurses, when she's tired but upset about something she'll nurse to sleep, when she's not feeling well she nurses, etc. It has been how we cope with stresses and life being crazy. It was a constant for her and also for me. The tips I've read/received the most are to spend time at home topless so they are at easy access and to try nursing while the child is asleep or half asleep. I spent much of yesterday topless and she didn't even want to look at them so I said forget it on that one (at least for now). Last night I went in and got her out of her crib after she'd been asleep for a few hours. I sat on the floor (no chair in her little room) and offered her to nurse and even being half asleep she still arched her back and shoved me away. I put her head back on my shoulder and she cuddled up and went back to sleep. I hoped I could bring her into our bed for the night so I could try night nursing several times but she was not thrilled at all about being in our bed so that didn't work either. I put her back in her crib and she slept through the night like usual.
Well, after reading about other mother's experiences on the La Leche League site today I decided to not give up yet and to keep trying. I borrowed an old rocking chair from my parents (that we used to rock my lil sis to sleep 16 years ago) and put it in Eliana's bedroom. I did our night time routine; dinner, pj's, vitamin (haven't been brushing her mouth this week because of the cold sores and new molars), and then I went into her room with her and rocked her in the chair. She cuddled on my shoulder and was super sleepy. Once it seemed she was mostly asleep I tried putting the nipple shield on my finger and seeing if she would allow it into her mouth. She pursed her lips closed tight or would cover her head with her blanky or arm. What to do, what to do! I kept praying (and have been all week), "please Lord, whatever is blocking her from nursing, please remove it. Please help her associate nursing with comfort and love again". Eventually she did allow the shield on my finger in her mouth but all she did but bite hard. She basically had her jaw clenched down on it. I allowed this as I see it as an improvement that it at least got past her lips! I should probably celebrate this little victory but I'm so anxious for her to just 'go all the way', so to speak. I tried to put the shield on me and get it in her mouth but she got very upset at this and sat up awake. I ended up just putting her back in her crib.
I have not decided if I should try again tonight or not.

I feel that her mouth may still in pain so that also comes in to play as a reason for still not wanting to nurse. The insides of her cheeks are still healing from her biting them with her huge new molars (she now has 4), and I'm not 100% sure that the sores are gone. When I try to look in her mouth she flips out and gets upset.

I found a blog a mother had written in 1996 about her 20 month old son's 40 day nursing strike and that gave me hope that even after such a long period of time a child can still go back to it. I don't know that I have the patience to be pumping and waiting for that long, but at least I know I'm on the right track and that in the big picture 5 days isn't that long. I feel in my heart that she isn't done nursing and I really don't want to be either, however I also don't want to drag this on forever. For mothers who have dealt with this I know you empathize with me and can identity with feeling grief and almost like a member of the family has died. More than anything right now I just want her to latch on and eat like a champ, but even 2 minutes would be great! I feel sad, rejected, lonely, angry, anxious, disoriented, frustrated, exhausted, etc. etc. etc.

If only she knew how much pain she was causing her mommy!

On the plus side (this being about the only thing I can think of) my husband was able to put her to bed two nights in a row. I've decided that if/when she does go back to nursing I may still like to pump sometimes so that he can put her to sleep. Although I have a feeling that if/when she does nurse again, I'll never want to pump!
I also am getting about 2 oz more of milk each day that I pump. Day 1 I think I only got 5oz or something like that. Yesterday I was up to 14 1/2 oz. So at least I know my supply is hanging on and there is milk available for her.

The other dilemma is wanting to try to get pregnant again.......we have a dr. apt for after Christmas. It's very likely that my dr won't prescribe the needed medications if I'm nursing. So, now it's like, "should I just take this as a good time to wean her?" But in my gut I feel like I'd rather wait another 4-6 months and have her nurse.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Strike; Day 4

I thought last weekend was rough and boy has it just continued. I noticed a white patch on Eliana's tongue Monday morning but it looked like she'd just bit herself with her new molars. She was kind of cranky that day and wouldn't nurse for too long. She was also drooling like those dogs that slobber all over everything. Tuesday morning she ate on each side but then by noon when I tried to nurse her before nap she refused. Like literally pushed me away and shook her head no. I looked in her mouth and found more little white spots on her cheeks and inside her lips. Poor baby. Then as I went to change her diaper I found a rash. I was then getting a little freaked out. In 13 1/2 months Eliana has never had a rash and has never refused a nursing session. I called the dr and made an appointment for later that day assuming she probably had thrush. I was beyond stressed that she wouldn't nurse, I didn't know what to do!

Her normal dr whom we love was busy so we saw a different dr who I am no so fond of. He always acts busy and like I am inconveniencing him with my questions. Well, excuse me but I am paying $100 for 10 minutes of your time. You darn well better answer my questions! His diagnosis was that she has a cold sore outbreak (aka Herpes Simplex 1). Gross! He said 95% of children get an outbreak by age 5. This was news to me. He said she got it from someone else with a live herpes virus like maybe sharing toys with another kid that has it or even from a stranger's germs on a shopping cart. Her body was creating more saliva because of the molars coming in but then she couldn't swallow because of the pain, thus the major drool. He said not to worry about her not nursing and just try to give her liquids when I can.

Despite knowing she is in major pain, I still felt and feel majorly rejected by her abruptly not wanting to nurse. I know many of you have a first response that she is 'self weaning', however I'd urge you to read this http://www.babycenter.com/0_nursing-strike_8490.bc. Kellymom.com puts it this way, "Nursing Strikes:


When babies abruptly stop nursing, it's a nursing strike - not weaning. Babies rarely wean on their own before 18-24 months, and self-weaning is almost never abrupt. "

Well, here we are going on day 4 of the strike and I feel completely emotionally exhausted. I'm hurt by how awful the past week has been and then feeling so rejected every time I offer for her to nurse. This is not how I pictured the end of nursing going! I am still pumping 4-6 times a day to keep my supply but honestly doubt that she'll ever go back to it. I really hadn't realized how much nursing Eliana had become a part of my life, my go-to problem solver, and part of my identity as her provider and mother. I am sorrowful to think that she may never accept me again.

My LLL leader has suggested trying while she is sleeping, so tonight I am thinking I may go in and get her out of her crib after she's been asleep a few hours. We'll see how it goes. I almost am weary to even try anymore as the rejection is painful. However I'm trying to stay strong and help her feel unconditionally loved.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My shaky weekend and 2 rude people

Had a tough weekend.

Craig and I had been looking forward to this past weekend for months, literally. He also took an extra day off to make it a 5 day weekend. Last Thanksgiving was nice with our families, but also hard because Eliana was severely colicky at that point so it was filled with screams. It was hard to enjoy much of anything back then. We knew this year would be better and she could actually participate and eat her first Thanksgiving meal (with no screams).
As we were all sitting down to eat, my father-in-law Gotz (pronounced Gertz) began having chest pains. Craig took his mom and step-dad to the Poulsbo Urgent Care only to find out they were closed. They called 911 and an ambulance took Gotz to Bremerton Harrison Hospital. On the way he had a heart attack. It lasted nearly 2 hours.  I tried to keep updated from Craig as best I could but it was pretty much 45 second conversations every few hours. I felt bad for him missing the meal as his plate of food got cold and also worried for Gotz and the concern that I'm sure my mother-in-law was facing.
Eliana did love her first Thanksgiving meal, I just wish Craig could've seen it. It was good for me to be surrounded by so many wonderful friends and family. A dear mommy friend of mine came with her husband and sweet baby girl who is only 6 weeks older than Eliana. It was special to have the two beautiful little girls in their dresses running the show :)
Craig got home around 9pm and Eliana and I around 9:30. I finally got her to bed at 10:30 which was 3 hours past her normal time. Things felt tense between Craig and I. I think he thought I was mad about how the day went, when in reality I was just sad about it and exhausted from the day. We finally went to bed sometime after 1am. I hoped we'd all sleep in the next morning. Well, unfortunately a cell phone rang at 8am. I was cranky and irritated that he had the ringer on high. And since he knew a call would be coming, "why the heck did you not bring it in our bedroom on low ring!(yes, that was what I said to him)" I was so irritated that it woke Eliana up because I knew she'd be tired and cranky the whole day (and so would I).
The weekend sort of went on like this with one thing after another happening. For instance, in the checkout line at Target this conversation happened:
Stranger woman: "oh she's so cute, how old is she?"
Me: "thank you. 13 months."
Stranger woman:"Oh I have a 9 month old. And you're pregnant again (looking at my stomach)?"
Me: "no". And I then walked away.

After the 2 days we'd had and then the "are you pregnant" question I wanted to go find a hole and shoot myself. But that's not all.......on the way home from Target Eliana was screaming (super tired from not enough sleep that night) and we were all super stressed. I saw the undercover cop car on the driver side of the vehicle and I assumed Craig did. He did not. Yes, he got a ticket. On top of a heart attack on Thanksgiving, not getting enough sleep, spending 3 hours in the hospital that day, getting asked if I'm pregnant, a cranky, screaming baby.........a ticket!!! It's like, enough is enough. Come on already. I was speechless. I'm sure Craig thought I would light into him but I more than anything just wanted to find a quiet place to go cry. And Eliana was still screaming (why do cops go sit in their cars for so long?! just write the dang ticket already). Not a good day.

We slept in Sunday and really tried to reconnect and have a better day. We tried to communicate nicer and improve our weekend. The following days were considerably better but boy did the weekend start out rough! Oh and I was asked again (!!!) if I'm pregnant. I mean, come on people. Where is common courtesy. It is absolutely, indisputably RUDE to ask someone if they are pregnant. I see people all the time and I think to myself, "oh she might be pregnant." But then again she might be like me and put on weight in her midsection. I'm an apple as far as gaining weight goes. My butt and legs are always fairly trim no matter what. My belly, that's another scenario. It's genetic that I gain weight where I do. If I could change that and evenly distribute all my fat, I probably would. I would love to have some hips!

That being said, here's a motto I would like to pass on to all the inconsiderate feet-eaters out there, "Think before you speak."

Words hold power and saying things before you think about the consequences can be very hurtful to another person.

I would love to be pregnant, but I don't have that option yet as I'm waiting for my upcoming dr's appointment. I would also love to lose weight and it is an ongoing battle for me. So these two woman (who might I add were both very heavy) who thoughtlessly asked if I was pregnant, should heed the wisdom I learned as a child in regards to thinking first. I wonder how many other people they've made thoughtless comments to. They should be the one's embarrassed by their rudeness and stupidity, yet it was me (the victim) who feels embarrassed and humiliated.

I'm still working through it. I feel like everyone is looking at me now and thinking, "well she's either pregnant or just really fat". I just want to wear a big jacket everywhere. Or better yet lock myself in a room and never go anywhere. I wish it didn't matter what these two people that don't care about me said, but the fact is I can't just forget their comments.