Tuesday, February 28, 2012

We did it!!!

*I just want to make this disclaimer right up front. This post is about me, my son, and the nursing milestone that we've reached today. It's just about us and our happiness. Please do not interpret our excitement as judgment or disapproval of anyone that has made different choices than I have, or has nursed for a different length of time than I have. I choose to celebrate breastfeeding, whether it's a lot or a little. But today I'm just celebrating our nursing milestone, and not worrying about the details of anyone else's. That's between you and your baby. :) Also, I realize that the struggles I share in this post look like a cake walk compared to what some mothers have endured to nurse their kids. In sharing our small struggles, I do not intend in any way to diminish the greater struggles that some have gone through. I hope that all makes sense, and if it doesn't, please read this wonderful post at The Leaky B@@b- it explains how I feel much better than this little paragraph does.





We did it. We did it!!! Today is Tristan's second birthday, and we're celebrating two years of breastfeeding!!! I'm so excited. Thrilled would probably be a better word to describe how I'm feeling. We did it! We made it! All that hard work, all those painful moments, all those wonderful memories have now added up to two years of nursing!


This is it- THE milestone I was hoping for. My ultimate goal. I broke it up into smaller goals, of course. I thought it seemed a little silly to look at a day old baby and proclaim, "My nursing goal is two years!!!" But in my mind it's been two years all along. Hayden nursed for 15 months, and while I'm super proud of that, and proud that she never had formula, I know that 15 months is not ideal, or really physiologically normal. I still struggle with a bit of guilt over that, especially since she still can't fall asleep without her pacifier. I wish that we'd been able to nurse for longer.


Tristan and I got off to a good start. He nursed for about 45 minutes shortly after birth. I have such sweet memories of that time. We had to transfer to the hospital about 6 hourse after he was born, and he was a bit disinterested in nursing for the next 12 hours or so after he got an iv. The next day we were able to pick right back up though, and things were pretty smooth sailing for a while. I started pumping once a day, first thing in the morning, and built up a decent little freezer stash. I felt so proud of all the bottles and bags of milk in the freezer. I'd stare at them and think, "I MADE that!"


When Tristan was about 3 months old, we hit a big roadblock. I don't know how it happened, but I got a sore on the side of my left nipple. It didn't seem to fit any of the descriptions of any of the nipple issues that I was reading about. I still have no idea what it was or where it came from, but boy oh boy was it painful!!! I could hardly stand for him to latch on at all. Anytime he nursed it would send shooting pain through the whole left side of my body. After a week or two of hoping that it would heal, I went to see a lactation consultant who suggested using a nipple shield to protect my nipple and hopefully give it a chance to heal. She also suggested some antibiotic cream. Great ideas, right? Right, except that Tristan was NOT a fan of the nipple shield. Hated it. After much crying and coercion, I finally got him to latch onto it. After a couple of days, the sore seemed to be gone, and since Tristan hated the shield so much, I stopped using it. Surprise, surprise- it wasn't as healed as I thought it was, and split right back open again!!! So discouraging. We went back to square one with the nipple shield, and again, I jumped the gun and stopped using it too early. My nipple split back open, again. By that point I'd been dealing with excruciating pain, the hassle of the nipple shield, and a baby who hated the nipple shield for about 4 weeks. If you know me, you know how much I believe in breastfeeding, but even I was ready to give up at that point. Not give up breastfeeding of course, but I was seriously considering letting my left breast dry up and just nursing from my right. Isn't that hilarious? I mean, it is totally doable- just funny to look back now and remember that I was seriously considering it.


I really don't remember how the crack finally healed. I think it was a combination of prayers of desparation and me finally being disciplined enough to use the nipple shield for long enough to let it heal completely. I was just so, so relieved to have the pain over with. We were back to smooth sailing.


When Tristan turned 6 months, I started giving him samples of solid food. I was doing baby led solids with him, so we didn't do purees. He wasn't a fan at first, and totally hated solid food until a week before he turned 9 months. He tasted a bite of his sister's lemon yogurt and never looked back. He loves to eat. Baby led solids was so easy! I didn't have to worry about what he was or wasn't ready for, because I just followed his cues. I didn't have to cook or buy seperate food for him. I was still doing cloth diapers and wipes at the time, and enjoyed walking past the baby aisle at the grocery store, knowing I didn't need a single thing from it!


As Tristan started to eat solids, I made a real point to make sure that he was still nursing first, and nursing regularly. I knew that he still really needed the benefits of my milk, and I also wanted to do what I could to nurse him for longer than I did Hayden. I think a couple of factors played into her weaning at 15 months- I think I did too many solids, too soon, and of course the fact that I got pregnant again was probably also a big factor. My strategy worked, and he turned into a big booby loving baby! He totally loved his num nums, and still does.


I held my breath as we reached 15 months. I got really excited and celebrated when we reached 18 months. But I knew that two years was my real goal. If we could make it to two years, I'd be so thrilled. Relieved, even. Anything past that would just be icing on the cake. And here we are!!! Two years of nursing. I'm so happy. So thankful. So thankful to have been able to offer this gift to my son- not just the nutrition but the warmth, softness, and comfort of my breast. The wonder of the amazing bond that we've built. So thankful for all that I've learned, and all that he's taught me through this process. It takes vulnerability to be able to share your body with another person, and my son has taught me how to begin to be vulerable and how to love and be loved. I'm so thankful to be on this nursing journey with him, and I look forward to every day that we have left.




Friday, February 24, 2012

No More Babies!!!

It's official. I don't have a baby in the house anymore. Tristan will be two in just a couple of days, and boy can you tell! He's grown up so much the past 6 months, and even just in the last two weeks. He's all little boy now- full of adventure and opinions. He's still got the sweetest little personality though. He loves to snuggle, and says thank you when he nurses. So precious.



He's talking so, so much now. About 6 months ago, I was actually a little worried that his verbal development was delayed. (Hayden was saying over 100 words at 20 months old, so I think that skewed my opinion just a little.) Just as I was starting to get worried, he had a language explosion. And then another a couple of weeks later. And then another. Then about a month ago, he just started talking in semi-complete sentences. He can carry on a conversation now! If I tell him not to do something, he now responds with, "Why not?" If he can't find me, he'll walk around saying, "Mommy, where are you?" When we're driving in the car and pull back into our driveway, he says, "Made it home!" It's so funny just how involved he is in the family conversations now. He even likes to tell jokes. His favorite one is to say, "Mommy, guess what?" and then when I say "What?", he makes a toot noise. He thinks it's so funny.

Is it just me, or does he look like a disgruntled teenager here?
Is it just me, or does he look like a disgruntled teenager here?



Life is definitely easier now that he's talking so well. If he's hungry or thirsty, he can tell me. If he has a dirty diaper, he comes to tell me. I really don't have to do a lot of guessing or mind reading anymore. He's always been a little person, of course, but now he's a verbal, semi-independent person! He's worlds different from the baby he was.



He's also really learning how to play and pretend. He loves to crawl around on the floor saying "meow! meow!" Just in the past two weeks or so, Hayden and Tristan have magically learned how to play together! It's been such a relief for me. After having to give nearly constant supervision since Tristan's been born, it's still almost surreal for me to see them go into one of their rooms and play together nicely for 20 minutes at a time. Amazing!


It's so different to not have a baby in the house! Hayden was only 21 months old when Tristan was born, which means for the last 3.5 years of my life(and for my entire career as a mother sofar), I've always had a baby in the house. I've got two kids now- this is a brand new season! We can walk and ride bikes to the park without anyone having to ride in a stroller. I can safely step out of the room while they're in the bath(always within earshot, and just for a minute, of course) to pick up toys. They're both walking, talking, and playing- together! I miss having a baby, but I'm excited to see what this new season will bring, and especially how the kids' relationship will grow as they get older. I know we have such fun times ahead!




Thursday, February 16, 2012

I'm guest posting, and coming out of the no-spanking closet

I'm so honored to be guest posting at Dulce de Leche's blog today! I have a lot of respect for her and all the great things that she's shared on her blog. I appreciate her giving me the opportunity!

And with that post, I'm officially coming out of the closet. I don't believe in spanking anymore. I've stopped spanking my kids(well, kid, really, Tristan's never been spanked), and I don't intend to ever start up again. Shocking, right? But I've learned so much over the past couple of months, and grown so much in my relationships with my kids and my skills as a parent. I'll be sharing more about my decision in the near future, and about methods for disciplining kids and setting healthy boundaries without spanking- it's possible! But for now just check out my post on Dulce's blog, and while you're there check out some of her other posts- it's all good stuff!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

For the Love of Dishes- GAPS Update # 1

As I write this, my dishwasher is running for the third time today. The THIRD time. And that's been pretty much normal since I started on GAPS. I'm enjoying it though! It's a good feeling to be eating only real, homemade food. I joked to Thad today that I was pretending that we're living in the 1700s and I'm having to make everything. It really has been fun experimenting in the kitchen. Right now I've got several things fermenting on the counter- pickles, sauerkraut, yogurt, and kombucha, and I've also got bone broth cooking in the crock pot. I let my kombucha SCOBYs die when we moved, and I've been growing a new one. It's taken longer than I thought it would, but I finally have a real SCOBY in my jar! I'm hoping this batch or the next one will be drinkable. This week I've also made coconut milk, coconut flour, and several batches of yogurt, and that's not even counting all the breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks.

I tried a new salmon patty recipe today, and they were absolutely AMAZING. I modified the recipe a little, adding onion and garlic and leaving out the lemon pepper. Then I whipped up a little dipping sauce from yogurt, dill, dijon mustard, and lemon juice. They were seriously the most delicious salmon patties I've ever tasted. I gave Tristan a little piece of one as I was cooking them, and he just couldn't get enough. He kept asking for bite after bite, so I finally just sat him up in the highchair where he devoured two whole patties. Hayden even liked them! I had to bribe her with the promise of mac'n'cheese to get her to try one, but after she tried it she liked it! Then she even ate another half of a patty along with her macaroni- amazing!

I've finally got a good lead on some raw milk, for only $6 a gallon! I'm really excited about that possibility. I've been wanting to get raw milk for a couple of years now, and it just hasn't been realistic for us. The farms have either been too far away, or the milk was too expensive. But this farm is fairly close to our house, and I've got a friend who wants to get milk too. We figure if we take turns we'd each only have to go out to the farm about once a month.

Like I said in my last post, I am seeing some improvements already! The bone broth seems to help tremendously with my allergies. My digestion is improving- or was until I had hot sauce on Sunday during the super bowl. (Note to self- just because something is GAPS-legal does not necessarily mean that your body will be happy to digest it.) It took me a couple of days to recover from that. It was a little discouraging, but all just a part of the learning process. And I am super proud of myself that I didn't have a single bite of the gorgeous spread of food that was at our house during the game. Willpower FTW!

One of the main things I've been hoping to see is an improvement in my mood/hormone issues. I'm pretty sure I started to see that happen, because about a week ago I felt really, really good. I just felt so calm and peaceful-more peaceful than I can remember feeling in a long time. And then my ovulation time rolled around. Ugh. I don't know what it is about the ovulation hormones, but they make me feel like an absolute crazy person. I literally feel like I'm not even myself. I feel so anxious, and the tiniest irritation can send me over the edge- even things like people touching me or the tv being too loud. Sometimes it makes me feel panicky, or like I just need to go into a rage! Yesterday was pretty bad- it was all I could do just to hold it together. I did feel a little better after a good cry, but not a lot. It's just so frustrating because it's all the opposite of the real me. I'm normally a calm, somewhat patient, reasonable person- just not when these hormones are coursing through my body. I know it's not just my mind playing tricks on me, because I have physical symptoms too. For the past two days I've had off and on dizziness, nausea, and a racing heartbeat. Does anyone know what that's all about? I think even just understand the process of what's making me feel this way would make me feel a little better about it. I'm hoping GAPS will help alleviate these issues and then I won't even have to worry about it.

So that's my GAPS update for the week. I'll leave you with a list of things I've learned:

*You can never have too many mason jars.
*Don't look too closely at what comes out of the can of salmon- just look at the tv or something until you've stirred it all together. And make sure you crush all the little spine bones before you go to fry the patties. Yum. (Seriously though, they were delicious.)
*Don't put a jar of half frozen broth into an already hot pan of water. It will break.
*2 whole coconuts can produce about 2 quarts of milk, and only less than 2 cups of flour.
*It's not a good idea to lose the blade to your food processor right before you start GAPS.
*Homemade bone broth makes for an amazing chicken soup, with a beautiful layer of fat on top after it's been in the fridge for a couple of hours.
*My dishwasher deserves a hug. Because I wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't for my dishwasher.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Celebrating a gluten free year- and moving on to the next step!

It's hard to believe, but it's been a whole year since I've gone gluten free! A whole year without deep dish pizza, brownies, or regular bread. And you know what? I honestly don't really even miss those things. There are so many delicious foods that are naturally gluten free, that I really don't even think about the gluten containing foods very often. And when I do, there are decent GF substitutes for most of them. Except deep dish pizza. Haven't found a gluten free substitute for that yet. Thad came home with a deep dish pizza from BJs tonight. I'm not going to lie- I was totally drooling over it. I wouldn't cheat though- last time I accidentally ingested gluten I felt like I was digesting glass for the next 12 hours or so. Totally not fun.

So it's clear that I have some sort of gluten allergy, or an intolerance at the least. My digestive issues have improved since giving up gluten (and like I said- I get a pretty bad reaction if I have just a tiny bit). But I'm still not seeing the results I'd like to. I'm still struggling with chronic diarrhea. I'm still struggling with occasional gas and stomach pain. Things have improved since I cut out gluten(I was having blood in my stool- and trust me, that's pretty freaky), but it's obvious that I still have some underlying digestive issues. So I've decided to take the next step! I've decided to implement the GAPS diet.

The GAPS diet is a very intensive, very restrictive, but also very effective, gut healing diet. Not only is gluten not allowed, but no grains or starches are allowed either. Apparently grains are really hard for the body to digest, and actually aren't very good for you. Who knew?!? Processed foods and sugars of any kind(except for ripe fruit on the later stages of the diet) are also a no-no. There are several different stages, starting with the super restrictive intro and moving forward into what's called "Full GAPS", which you're recommended to stay on for at least 2 years to see full gut healing. This diet is not for the faint of heart! Since processed foods aren't allowed, you have to cook everything yourself- and not things like opening jars of spaghetti sauce either. We're talking homemade bone broth, homemade yogurt, homemade ferments. You know- all the stuff you can just pick up at the grocery store- I'm signing up to make it all myself. Apparently the pre-packaged stuff isn't good for you either. That one's kindof a no-brainer, but it can be easy to forget in this fast food world.

So why would I sign up for this? Because apparently years of what I thought was a decently healthy diet really wasn't. Years of eating out, eating processed grocery store food, hydrogenated oils, and genetically modified foods has damaged my gut- leaving me with a gluten allergy and all kinds of other issues. GAPS stands for Gut And Psychology Syndrome, which is the name of the book by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride. The first several chapters of the book explain how the digestive system works, and just how harmful eating these damaging foods can be. The wrong diet can leave you with what's called "leaky gut syndrome", which means that you literally have tiny holes in your intestines, and pieces of undigested food(particularly particles from gluten and dairy) can get through the intestinal wall and straight into your bloodstream where they don't belong, and where they're attacked as intruders. When that happens, your body develops an allergic reaction to those substances. I'm guessing this is how my gluten allergy developed, because I haven't had it my whole life. The book goes on to explain how the gut and brain are closely connected, and how leaky gut syndrome can cause all sorts of psychological, neurological, and immunological disorders. The focus of the diet then is to focus on healing the gut, because when the gut is healthy then the body is able to heal itself.

Since the diet is so involved, I've decided to take it slow so that I don't overdo things or get overwhelmed. My goal for the month of January was to read the GAPS book, which I did. I'm now slowly easing into "full GAPS". I was already gluten free, but on the first of January I cut out sugar and stopped drinking milk. Within the past week or two, I've also cut out nearly all grains/starches. I'm also starting to incorporate homemade bone broths and ferments. I'm trying to be patient with myself and give myself room to not have to be perfect right away, since this is a pretty complex process and I do struggle with perfectionism a bit. After I get the full GAPS diet down, I plan to go back into intro and progress through the other stages, and also include the recommended supplements.

I have several issues that I'm hoping to see resolved through doing GAPS:
*Digestive issues/diarrhea- I have diarrhea, every single day. Not fun.
*Depressive symptoms- I've struggled off and on with depression for several years now. The worst year was right before I gave up gluten- and now I'm starting to understand that my gluten allergy/gut issues could have played a big part in that!
*Hormone swings- I'm so, so tired of feeling like a slave to my hormones.
*Allergies- I've had "allergies" year round since I was a teenager.

The awesome news is that with just the changes I've made sofar, I'm already starting to see results!!! The very first day I started drinking bone broth my allergies improved drastically. I could breathe comfortably through my nose for the first time in a long time. Today after about a week and a half of being mostly grain free, I've also seen some big improvements in my digestive issues. Knowing that I'm seeing results even before I've even done the diet perfectly, is very encouraging! I can't wait to see how great I feel at the end of this process!!!