Adding a New Baby

By Anonymous Guest Blogger

It started in the second trimester of my second pregnancy. My daughter was about 3 and 1/2. Up until a few months before, we shared a bed every night. See, my husband travels for work and while I was pregnant, we didn’t travel with him. My daughter and I stayed with my parents and we spent about 10 days a months with my husband. Not ideal, but could have been much worse.

We were new back in the area, all my friends from high school with kids were gone, and I had long ago lost touch with the child free bunch. I didn’t really know what to expect about going from one child to two. My mom had vague and fanciful memories from my childhood, as the baby of three. She didn’t offer much advice or guidance and what was happening to me was too shameful to talk about. And so I kept quiet.

As the days past and my belly grew, I became more and more irritated by my daughter. Certainly she had her own feelings about the impending birth of her baby brother, but she seemed excited about it. She had some questions, but nothing out of the ordinary. She was acting basically the same as she always had, like a three year old. So why was she driving me crazier as each day passed? It must be the hormones, I concluded. It was the logical explanation.

When my son was born, it was more wonderful than I remembered, and not in the way where you just forget how wonderful it is to have a baby. It really was better. The first time around was stressful. I cried every waking moment, it seemed. Looking back. I did not enjoy my daughter as a newborn. Not the way I’m enjoying my son.

As the months passed by, I kept nursing my son, we kept bonding. It seemed as though the more I bonded with him, the less I could stand my daughter. I began to dislike her. I resented her when she needed something from me, when she wanted my attention. It took time away from me and the baby. She was trying so hard, too. I felt guiltier and guiltier. Her touch made me cringe. Am I even a woman? Am I becoming a monster? When she laughed or told me she loved me I wanted to shake her. I wanted to hit her. I could not stand my own child. How could this happen? I was so happy. My marriage had never been better and I had never felt a love like I had for my boy. I wanted to ask someone, anyone, if this was as bad as I thought. But I was too ashamed. I thought I should probably see a counsellor. But I didn’t.

I googled it. Nothing. No one else seemed to be falling out of love with their first after the birth of their second. Finally, I got up the nerve to discuss it with my best friend, my husband. He assured me that I did not, in fact, hate my daughter. He was so wonderful to me when I felt like a monster. Maybe it will change…?

Then, slowly, I started to laugh with her again. Not a lot, and there was still more bad days than good ones. It seemed, as the baby started crawling, I could hug her again. We started playing together. The baby started walking and it seemed it was leaving. That horrible feeling. It was going away. Almost as gradually as it had started, I felt myself developing a relationship with my baby again. It was different from when she was the ‘only’ but it was getting better.

So whats my point? I learned, about the same as I started recovering from this…this thing, that MANY other women go through this. But no one seems to talk about it. It just sounds awful. We don’t want to admit it. We don’t want to be judged. We want people to think, to know that we are good moms. I cried myself to sleep every night during the happiest point in my life.  I KNEW there was something horribly wrong with me. But there wasn’t. So, I want to help other women that might be experiencing this to some degree or another. You’re not a monster. You don’t hate your first child. It will pass. Don’t beat yourself up, Momma. You’re not the only one.

Normalize Love

I am seeing so many incidents of breastfeeding discrimination lately in my newsfeed. I would be willing to bet that incidents are not on the rise, but that women are feeling more empowered to speak out when something does happen. It is still very unlikely that anything negative will happen to you when you breastfeed in public. The majority of women go through their entire breastfeeding journey with no such experience. We should still continue to breastfeed in public at every opportunity to expose the world to beauty, nurturance and love.

We also want to make sure we do not become too reactive. We don’t want to create an “Us versus Them” atmosphere with society. We live in a culture where breastfeeding is not normalized. The majority of incidents are ignorant employees that need further training. The businesses usually make a public statement of apology and express their support of breastfeeding mothers. It is our responsibility to accept these apologies and look at these businesses as allies in our mission.

Badass Breastfeeder logo-OUTLINESThe most important thing we can do is spread the message that we will continue to breastfeed wherever and whenever we choose. The manner in which we have the biggest impact on society is simply living our lives and breastfeeding on demand. Non-breastfeeding parents can show love and nurturance while in public; this helps too because breastfeeding is an act of love like all the rest. Negativity toward breastfeeding is a symptom of a society sick with a lack of love.

We will not tolerate harassment; we will mobilize and act in the appropriate way in such an event. But we will not be sucked down the hole of negativity. We hold our heads up high, we smile at our children, we hug our families, and we extend information and tolerance to those who have not yet been exposed to this.

Breastfeeding will be normal. Normalize love.

Abby Theuring, MSW

Kids These Days

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“Kids these days…

aren’t spanked enough.”

aren’t tough enough.”

need more discipline.”

are pussies.”

are out of control.”

I hear these heartbreaking statements about children all the time. The thing is “kids these days” are every generation. Generation after generation of adults have been referring to children this way. We were referred to this way when we were children and so were our parents. The current generation of children are being talked about like this. And it’s likely that people will be saying this about the next generation of children as well.

The problem is not with the kids. It’s with us. It’s with the people who utter these ugly words. I’m not going to disagree that we don’t need to make changes with our children. I am disagreeing with the way we go about it. The answer does not lie with the children. It lies with us.

The way to make change is not to drag others down, instill fear or cause physical pain. We make change when we build people up, when we empower them and support them. It is our job to give our children the self-esteem, confidence, love and nurturance that they need to grow into a truly changing generation. And to give parents the tools, support and connection  to help them get there.

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Abby Theuring, MSW

Breastfeeding and Church

By Krista Gray, IBCLC

I have spent the majority of the past ten years living overseas.  Since my oldest child is just turning eight, you can imagine the culture shock I’ve experienced since returning to the states at the end of last year.  There is no area this shock is more pronounced than in my views of parenting – I am a huge breastfeeding and baby wearing fan – and no place I feel more discriminated in than the church itself.  As an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and mom who has had (and breastfed) four babies overseas, I am secure in who I am and can withstand the comments, stares, and outright glares.  But my heart goes out to all the new moms who experience, on a daily basis, the incredible underlying pressure that is heaped on them when it comes to breastfeeding in public.

Let me say this outright – I am a passionate follower of Jesus Christ.  But gently nurturing and parenting your child through breastfeeding in public – at church even – is not contradictory to the Bible.  It drives me crazy that many churches put up more (nursing in public) breastfeeding barriers than anywhere else.  It may be filled with breastfeeding moms, but they are encouraged to be “modest” and go to a special room – (we’re told because they will be more comfortable) rather than continue to worship in the service with everyone else.  Mothers who bottle feed are welcome though.  We’re told it makes others feel uncomfortable…and the teens…oh we definitely would not want our teenagers to know that a mother is using her breasts for what they were designed for!  We’re told it may cause a visual image in a man’s mind that he will never be able to rid himself of.  (Does anyone know of a breastfeeding mom flashing herself in church…ever?!) So new moms cover and receive glares, leave the service, desperately try to get their little one to nurse beforehand, try to pump a bottle, or miss church entirely so that others won’t feel uncomfortable.  For the record, I am all about not being a stumbling block for someone else in their faith but this is not one of the times I feel this argument is valid.  Let’s think about it this way:

1. Boobs were made for nursing babies.  This is normal.  This is His design.  He doesn’t think nursing is immodest.

2. By making moms uncomfortable enough they feel they mustn’t tend to their babies’ needs in a service we are putting an adult’s [wrong] thoughts about breastfeeding above a baby’s God-designed need for breastfeeding.  We are putting up barriers to a mother’s God-designed parenting through breastfeeding; and we are making a statement that the presence of the person offended by the most natural thing on earth is more important than a mother tending to the most primordial need of her baby.

3. Teens NEED to see this.  That way they can learn that boobs are for breastfeeding and not sexual perversion.  (And when I say “need to see this” I’m really saying, “Need to know a mom is nursing” because, let’s face it, moms are not showing anything for them to see!)  If we want to change a culture’s perception of something you start with the youth not the adults.  Same for breastfeeding; the more children see it the more natural and normal the idea will become.

4. Churches can have all kinds of social events around sugary desserts, cheap hot dogs, and complete junk food given to children and youth (seems to be an essential component)…which perpetuates people inside the church being just as unhealthy and not taking care of their bodies like the rest of society. But give a baby breast milk at the breast…a mom is vilified.  What would happen if those within the church took care of their bodies and were healthier than the general public?  Would this alone not be a testimony?  Where does health and nutrition begin?  Absolutely, hands down, without hesitation through breastfeeding!

5. The Bible talks about breastfeeding.  It is not taboo.  Jesus was breastfed.  Samuel was breastfed. Moses was breastfed. For a long time.  He wasn’t weaned at 12 months either. (I just did a simple Logos search for the word “nursing” and effortlessly brought up over 20 references related to breastfeeding.)

And what about the issue of saying moms can nurse but they must cover?  Relegating a mother to be required to cover is like saying she can’t nurse at all.  Let me start by saying this:  if someone is more comfortable with a cover then please use one…there is nothing at all wrong with that.  But there are many mothers and babies where a cover just creates another barrier that makes nursing harder – if not impossible.  Let’s face it, there are ways to nurse in public that are more or less modest.  I have no problem with saying that there are public places (churches included) where one should try to nurse with modesty…but these are places I would advocate dressing more modestly as well.  (Wear clothes that don’t leave you feeling naked and don’t sit front and center where everyone must look at you in order to see the worship leader for example.)

It’s never going to be normal until the majority are doing it.  If you are uncomfortable with a mom nursing in church…please use this as food for thought.

unnamedKrista Gray is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), La Leche League Leader, and mother of four breastfed children, including preemie twins. She has a Private Practice for Lactation in the upstate of South Carolina as well as around the world via Skype and FaceTime.  At Nursing Nurture Krista shares research-based information and experience to help moms in their breastfeeding journeys.  You can also connect with Krista on Twitter {@nursingnurture} and on Facebook {fb.com/nursingnurture}.

Breastfeeding Was Once an Afterthought: Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction

By Badass Alison

I never really thought much about breastfeeding in my early twenties. I was more concerned with getting a degree, building a financial footing for myself, and being taken seriously in my chosen career field. These reasons, combined with back issues, led me to the decision to have a breast reduction at 22. In the plastic surgeon’s office, I was told of the side effects: pain, swelling, tenderness, possible anesthesia complications, and at the end of the consultation, “you may not be able to breastfeed.” “That’s ok,” I replied “It’s not that important to me.” Famous last words.

Seven years later, I am married, and pregnant with my first. My baby comes into this world via c section. The reasons for this are not important.  “You gave birth to a teenager!” My OB happily says, before my husband announces “it’s a girl!” She is a whopping 10 lbs, 9 ounces.  I knew, despite my reduction and the c section, that as soon as that baby was placed in my arms, I needed to do everything I possibly could to give her the best start at life.

It’s incredible how your perspective shifts so rapidly. Breastfeeding was once an afterthought, but in a flash, it had become my whole world. I saw how I could soothe my daughter at the breast. I felt the ability to do something amazing for myself and her, and I was determined to make it work. So I set myself up with (what I thought) were the best tools at my disposal. At the hospital I birthed at, I requested a Lactation Consultant and made an appointment at the Breastfeeding Clinic. I had my husband come with me for support. My daughter had lost more than 10% of her body weight upon discharge, and I was determined to not have to bottle feed, if at all possible. I was told, at our first appointment, that my daughter was barely getting any breastmilk, 5 days post-partum. I asked if she had a tongue tie. They said “no.” They checked her latch, and we were shown how to use a supplementation aid at the breast, with formula, and I rented a hospital-grade pump. I was told to pump after every feed. So for a week straight I did nothing but feed my daughter, pump and try to sleep. I think I pumped half an ounce per day, with at least 3 pumping sessions.

I was miserable. My baby wasn’t sleeping, I was in constant pain, and I couldn’t sleep when my baby slept, because I was at the mercy of my pump. I went back to the Breastfeeding Clinic, and was told that while my breastmilk output had increased, I still needed to use the supplementation aid at the breast, with formula. I went home, bought a case of formula, and cried.

My daughter’s pediatrician, at her 5 day post-partum and 2 week checkup, said that her weight gain trend was good. She also told me:

“you will want to get her on a bottle as soon as possible, breastfeeding is not beneficial past 4 months old, and you can stretch your feeds out to three hour intervals, because studies have been done on orphans that have shown that three hours between feeds is enough for optimal nutrition.” At this point, I was feeding on demand, and my daughter was eating every 45 minutes to 1.5 hours.

Because of the pain, my confusion about feedings, and what I realized were depressive thoughts creeping in, on the guidance of my doula, I sought a second opinion regarding my daughter’s breastfeeding and possible tongue tie. We went to a clinic that specializes in these issues. At the consultation, the doctor charged with performing tongue ties noted that my daughter, at 5 weeks post-partum, was only 10 lbs 1 ounce. She had not regained her birth weight. He told me that my daughter was close to being diagnosed as “failure to thrive.” I was devastated. I thought: “but I have done everything right!” I feed on demand, I pump, I use the supplementation aid with formula, what more can I do?

They told me she had a third-degree posterior tongue tie. There was no question: it was getting clipped. One quick snip, a few cries, and she latched right away, under the watchful eye of the clinic’s Lactation Consultant. She fed for an hour. We were told to come back in a week to check her progress.

I spent the week feeling like I failed as a mother. I was starving my baby, and it was happening under the care of trained medical professionals, whom I trusted. So I sat and fed my baby. And fed her. And fed her. When we returned to the doctor, my daughter had gained a pound. We were ecstatic! I stopped pumping and focused on my breastfeeding relationship with my daughter. And I stopped feeling so ashamed of having to use formula. We are breastfeeding, I choose to focus on that.

Today, at 9 months old, my daughter is thriving. But it took a long road to get there. We still use the lactation aid at the breast, and I still fill it with formula. This is what our breastfeeding relationship looks like, and for us, it is perfect. There are so many things that I wish I had known, but the biggest thing is that I didn’t know how much breastfeeding would mean to me. I wish I had known that doctors, particularly pediatricians, don’t seem to know very much about breastfeeding, or just don’t care. I wish I had cared less about what a liability my large breasts were. I wish someone had told me “you will want to breastfeed. It will mean the world to you.” Because I do. And it does. And I am grateful every single day that I had the support of my husband, and some amazing healthcare providers, to push through, and give our daughter the best possible start in life.