Something Drastic

Today I dove in and got my hair cut short. Bob short. An exciting change I’d been looking forward to since I made the decision a few weeks ago. I’ve been browsing Pinterest, gathering images on my ‘haircut possibilities’ board.

Long hair has been linked with my identity, but I’m ready for something different. Something fresh. An invigorating way of exploring the new me.

Of course there was also a bit of apprehension, since I’ve always had long hair, but I went for it anyway and I’m glad I did. Grateful to have a friend cut my hair. Thanks so much, Sam, you’re the best!

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Daring to be free

It takes courage to take the blinders off, but the blissful clarity that follows can be amazingly spectacular.

Let go of the unnecessary garbage that bogs us down. Cast it off and breathe easier under a lightened load. Be free from perfection. It’s an illusion anyway. Let others be responsible for their thoughts and actions. You are only in charge of your own. Know that all you are is enough and all you need to be, unique in the universe.

I’m exceedingly grateful to have, in my husband, an authentic and devoted partner who delights in uncovering truths. Unafraid to get up in the guts of an issue. Cheering me on along the way, reminding me that we can conquer anything and come through stronger for it.

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In the works

Today I went through my fabric and pulled all I could use for nursing necklaces. I knew I had some, but was delighted to see the bin-full I was able to gather.

Fox enjoyed helping me go through it, snuggling the fabric pile on the floor. How could I resist a snuggle break?

fabric snuggles

As I was gathering supplies, I stumbled upon ways to improve my work space so what I need is close at hand. I got out a lidded box for precut fabric pieces, emptied a small vintage suitcase for my ribbon and beads, and brought out my thread pegboard to hang on the wall above my desk.

I was also able to fine-tune my business card design and get them ordered. Yay, progress!

I called to catch up with my mom, telling her I just needed to buy wooden beads and ribbon and I’d be ready to get cracking on some nursing necklaces. As luck would have it she has boxes and boxes of exactly that in her craft supply stash!

A few years ago she attended an auction at a craft supply store that was going out of business. Being the crafty Girl Scout leader she was, she bid on what she thought was a single shelf of supplies. However, upon winning she discovered it was actually for the entire shelf. Top to bottom. But I digress.

After Fox wakes from the nap he’s currently taking, I’ll be getting the fabric ready for when the beads and ribbon arrive next week. So thrilled to be making headway while still being able to break for naps, nursing, reading, and snuggles with my sweet little guy.

Stoking the Coals

If you want to know where your heart is, look where your mind goes when it wanders.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel

As a little girl I danced and preformed in recitals. I played flute and tenor saxophone throughout middle and high school, continued as Music and Art major in college, and worked in an art gallery while painting and exhibiting my work.

But then it all took a backseat to life. Moving a thousand miles from my hometown and starting a family.

Lately my creative energy has been channeled into my son, but now that he’s getting bigger and spending more time playing on his own I’ve got a fire in my belly to get creating again.

For too long I let doubt, uncertainty, and distraction keep me from going down the path that felt right. Unsure of how to make it happen, I grew complacent, doing what was easy instead of following my heart through uncharted territory.

Yet during this creative down time I’ve cultivated ideas and developed into a new version of myself. I’m eager to explore who I am now and what I’m capable of. I believe I have the power to make the life I want a reality.

I’m itching to put my talents to good use, crafting something beautiful and helpful for moms and others who care for babies and toddlers. Nursing necklaces, diaper bags, wet bags, ring slings…

Lots of new and exciting things have been put in motion and I’m excited to share it along the way.

 

A man without passion is only a latent force, only a possibility, like a stone waiting for the blow from the iron to give forth sparks.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel

My Breastfeeding Journey

 

While it hasn’t always been easy, it was important to me to get breastfeeding to work for us. We’ve had our share of bumps in the road, but I’m delighted to say we’ve made it to 16 months with no signs if stopping.

This is our story.

 

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The day my son was born a lactation consultant visited our hospital room and taught me how to hand express colostrum and feed it to him with a flexible little cup. Throughout our stay various lactation consultants helped us learn about proper latch and gave us bottle/nipple recommendations for a breastfed baby who was still getting the hang of it. They taught me how to use a breast pump and got me set up pumping for 15 minutes every 2 hours, around the clock.

I am exceedingly grateful for lactation consultants.

Since he was jaundiced we had to set alarms to wake him up for feedings. And we had to keep him awake long to get enough to eat. Tickling him or removing his swaddling blanket.

We had to use donor milk for a couple days, to help get his bilirubin levels down, while waiting for my milk to come in.

I’d wake up my husband and have him start warming a bottle while we’d try to nurse. He’d usually get too frustrated and need the bottle, but sometimes we’d get a good latch and he’d nurse for 15 minutes to an hour.

I continued pumping for about two weeks. I was so exhausted I remember closing my eyes, for just a moment, while pumping and instantly dreaming. I also recall feeling a bit like a cow, hooked up to that machine when I just wanted to hold my baby. (My hat’s off to exclusively pumping mamas).

12 days after his birth, he had a bottle in the morning then successfully nursed the rest of the day. And he hasn’t had a bottle since.

At first I could only nurse sitting up, with the football hold, but we gradually transitioned into the cradle hold and I was excited to learn about laid-back breastfeeding from The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. That was a game changer for us. Especially at night. Being able to nurse while lying down meant I could latch him on and go back to sleep, barely having to wake at all.

Once we got on a roll, our biggest hurdle was managing my over supply and overactive let down. My little guy would often arch his back and cry while nursing. It was awful not knowing what was wrong or what to do to make it better.

My husband and I tried to determine the issue and remedy online, but found contradictory advice.

In desperation I called the WIC breastfeeding line and left a voicemail for the WIC peer counselor. She returned my call shortly after, listened to my story and gave me some suggestions to try before our appointment.

I also made a lactation consultation appointment at BABS. It was there we discovered my little guy had a tongue and lip tie. Fortunately it was minor enough that he was still able to get a good latch and, since he was gaining well and nursing wasn’t hurting me, we decided not to have it lasered. It merely caused him to nurse more often, since he’d get tired with the extra effort of moving his tongue.

I learned that block feeding was the answer to our oversupply issue. (Keeping him on one side for a time, still nursing as often as he wanted, then switching to the other side for the same length of time). I had been trying that at 2 hour intervals already, but I had to gradually increase the time I kept him on one side until I was at 5 hours. I think it took about a month to get my supply under control after implementing my block feeding plan with my lactation consultants.

You might think that oversupply would be a good problem to have, (FEED ALL THE BABIES), but in addition to a fussy baby, it made for plugged ducts and mastitis. Luckily the remedy to those issues is more nursing, (and antibiotics for mastitis). What a beautiful design!

At 16 months, we’re still nursing on demand, often to and during sleep. Not only for nutrition, (along with solids), but also for comfort and bonding.

My soft goal is three years. That’s how long my mom nursed me. We’ll continue to nurse as long as he wants to.

My story is not meant as a substitute for professional advice. Everyone is different. If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulty breastfeeding I highly recommend making an appointment with a lactation consultant.