5 months

This big boy is 5 months! He is around 12.5 pounds, 22.5 inches long.

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He has changed so much in the past month. He now laughs, rolls from belly to back, “talks” non-stop – he is so fun!

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Joey got to go for his first plane ride(s) this month when the two of us traveled to Chicago! We met up with 6 other girls I met through an infertility group about a year and a half ago. We’ve chatted almost daily for so long, gone through lots together, and it was so great to meet them in person! We enjoyed a day exploring around Navy Pier.

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We also started a fitness class called Burn Baby Burn this month. It is awesome! Joey stays with me in the class and the instructor utilizes the babies as weights for us! It’s a great chance to get out of the house, meet fun friends, and get some exercise!

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Happy 5 months, sweet boy!

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Human Milk for Human Babies


World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival - NursingFreedom.org and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center

Welcome to the World Breastfeeding 2013 Blog Carnival cohosted by NursingFreedom.org and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center!

This post was written for inclusion in the WBW 2013 Blog Carnival. Our participants will be writing and sharing their stories about community support and normalizing breastfeeding all week long. Find more participating sites in the list at the bottom of this post or at the main carnival page.

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This was published in a recent issue of Life & Style magazine.

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I’d love to share the REALITY of milk-sharing in 2013 and how it has brought life into my breast feeding relationship with Joey.

When Joey was born 9 weeks early, he was not able to breast feed right away. I didn’t even see him until he was 12 hours old, and didn’t take him out of the isolette until he was 6 days old. Due to the trauma of his delivery, his body basically shut down his digestive system in an effort to re-route all oxygen to his brain and heart. He got his first drops of breast milk through his feeding tube around the 6 day mark, I believe. This meant if I wanted to breast feed him eventually, if I wanted him to have breast milk, I had to start pumping. I knew all through my pregnancy (and actually long before I got pregnant) that I intended to breast feed. I knew those nutrients and antibodies are like none other when it comes to nourishing a growing baby. But then I had a preemie and it became even more important. Studies have been done on preemie milk and it has been found to he higher calorie, and vital in providing antibodies he didn’t store up on in the third trimester. Pumping was HARD work. It was not easy to be awake enough to pump every 2 hours, especially when recovering from a c-section. Sitting straight up was one of the most painful things those first few days, but I pressed on. I don’t think pumping ever got a ton easier – it was painful, draining (in more ways than one!), time-consuming, exhausting – but all that work was paving the way for us eventually being able to breast feed.

By the time Joey came home almost 6 weeks later I had around 1000 ounces of breast milk in our freezer. About halfway through his NICU stay we had to purchase a deep freezer because both our regular freezer at home and his space in the NICU freezer were overflowing.

The first couple weeks home, I continued to pump. By being consistent with my pumping, I had trained my body to make a LOT of milk, about 3 times what he was eating. I gave him a few bottles off and on as we worked on breast feeding, and after a couple weeks he was exclusively nursing.

This left me with a ton of milk we simply wouldn’t use. I worked HARD for that milk. I wanted to use it for something good. There is a hospital near here that does take donations, after you go through a process of becoming a donor. They then sell it to families for (from what I’ve heard) $2.50 per ounce.

Enter Human Milk 4 Human Babies. This organization strives to connect donor moms with babies in need. Each state has a page on Facebook where you can connect with families. Since my milk was from a preemie, I wanted to be able to bless another preemie family in need with it. I got connected to a mom with an adopted former preemie who has medical needs that leave him completely dependent on breast milk. Because he is adopted, his mom can’t produce breast milk for him, so he’s reliant on donations. When I told her I had around 1000 ounces for her, she told me it brought tear to her eyes. I was able to empty my freezer and hand deliver the milk. I loved the personal connection of it all! He has a story, he has a name, I have a picture – it means something to me.

She thanked me so many times and I told her it was me who should be saying thank you, too. Without pumping all that milk, I never would have had a milk supply to exclusively nurse Joey 6 weeks in. And the fact that I was able to pump enough to feed him AND provide for over a months worth of milk for another boy in need blessed MY life! All that time and effort wasn’t for nothing. I provided life-giving nutrition for two very special preemie boys. That’s something to be proud of and I definitely am.

So, yes Life & Style magazine, it is 2013. A time when we know human milk is best for human babies. And a time when we have the technology an resources to connect families in need with the amazing gift of breast milk through donations from moms like me.

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1000 oz on its way!

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World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival - NursingFreedom.org and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center Visit NursingFreedom.org and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center for more breastfeeding resources and WBW Carnival details!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants. Below are a list of links for today’s participants; you can find a complete list of links (updated throughout the week) at our main carnival page:

(This list will be updated by afternoon August 5 with all the carnival links.)

  • An Unexpected Formula-Fed Attachment — Kyle (of JEDI Momster and) writing at Natural Parents Network, exclusively breastfed three healthy babies. So when she was pregnant with her fourth, she assumed she would have no breastfeeding troubles she could not overcome. Turns out, her fourth baby had his own ideas. Kyle shares her heartfelt thoughts on how she came to terms with the conclusion of her breastfeeding journey.
  • It Take a Village: Cross Nursing — Shannah at Breastfeeding Utah shares how cross-nursing helped her baby in their time of need, and how that experience inspired her to create a community of cross-nursing and milk-sharing women.
  • Random little influences and Large scale support communities lead to knowing better and doing better — amy at random mom shares how her ideas and successes involved with breastfeeding evolved with each of her children, how her first milk sharing experience completely floored her, and how small personal experiences combined with huge communities of online support were responsible for leading and educating her from point A to point D, and hopefully beyond.
  • Mikko’s weaning story — After five years of breastfeeding, Lauren at Hobo Mama shares how the nursing relationship with her firstborn came to a gentle end.
  • My Milk is Your Milk — Lola at What the Beep am I Doing? discusses her use of donor milk and hhow she paid the gift back to other families.
  • World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival – Celebrating Each Mother’s Journey — Jenny at I’m a full-time mummy lists her experiences and journey as a breastfeeding mother.
  • Working Mom Nursing Twins — Sadia at How Do You Do It? breastfed her twin daughters breastfed for 7 months. They made it through premature birth and NICU stays, her return to full-time work, her husband’s deployment to Iraq, and Baby J’s nursing strike.
  • So, You Wanna Milkshare? — Milk banks, informed community sharing and friends, oh my! So many ways to share the milky love; That Mama Gretchen is sharing her experience with each.
  • Milk Siblings: One Mama’s Milk Sharing Story (and Resources)Amber, guest posting at Code Name: Mama, shares how her views on milk sharing were influenced by her daughter receiving donor milk from a bank during a NICU stay, and how that inspired her to give her stash to a friend.
  • Humans Feeding Humans — Krystyna at Sweet Pea Births shares ideas on how we can celebrate all the different ways modern mommies feed their babies. While we are comfortable with the breastmilk-formula paradigm, she proposes that we expand our horizons and embrace all the different ways mamas feed their infants.
  • When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Go As Planned — MandyE of Twin Trials and Triumphs shares the challenges she faced in feeding her premature twins. She’s still learning to cope with things not having gone exactly as she’d always hoped.
  • Taking Back My Life By Giving Away My Milk — When Amanda Rose Adams‘s first child was born, he was tube fed, airlifted, ventilated, and nearly died twice. In the chaos of her son’s survival, pumping breast milk was physically and mentally soothing for Amanda. Before long her freezer was literally overflowing with milk – then she started giving it away.
  • The Tortoise and the Hare — Nona’s Nipples at The Touch of Life discusses why we care about breast milk and formula with everything inbetween.
  • Finding My Tribe of Women Through Milk Sharing — Mj, guest posting at San Diego Breastfeeding Center shares her journey breastfeeding with low milk supply and supplementing with donor milk using an at the breast supplemental nursing system. She shares the impact milk sharing has had on her life, her family, and how it saved her breastfeeding relationship.
  • Human Milk for Human Babies — Sam at Nelson’s Nest shares her perspective on milk-sharing after an unexpected premature delivery left her pumping in the hopes of breastfeeding her son one day. Sam’s milk was an amazing gift to the other preemie who received it, but the connection was a blessing in the donor mom’s life too!
  • Sister, I Honor You — A mother feeding her baby is a triumph and should be honored, not criticized. Before you judge or propagate your own cause, go find your sister. A post by Racher: Mama, CSW, at The Touch of Life.
  • Every Breastfeeding Journey Is Different, Every One Is Special — No two stories are alike, evidenced by That Mama Gretchen’s collaboration of a few dear mama’s reflections on their breastfeeding highs, lows and in betweens.
  • A Pumping Mom’s Journey — Shannah at Breastfeeding Utah shares about her journey pumping for her son, who was born at 29 weeks.

Chiropractors and Umbilical Hernias

Joey was born with an umbilical hernia. It’s actually not uncommon in preemies – simply because of a less developed body. His abdominal muscles were weak and didn’t have a chance to fully grow/close. It’s not something they worry about until the child is preschool age – it usually closes on its own by then, but if it doesn’t it can be surgically corrected. But it freaked me out. Ha! There were times it was HUGE. You could push it back in as long as he wasn’t screaming/straining which was their stipulation for it being “ok”. You could even feel the hole in his muscles, about the size of my index finger. And it gurgled. Haha.

I had wanted to get Joey in to the chiropractor for quite some time after he was born – just thought it would be good to have him realigned after birth. I put it off and put it off because its a little nerve-wracking to hand your tiny, fragile preemie over to someone who may be thinking of contorting their body to try and make their back crack. He was having latching issues with breast feeding and it was suggested to me that I should see a chiropractor as they can also do adjustments to help with latch. So I finally made some calls and made an appointment.

We ended up with Dr. Alyssa at First Choice Chiropractic in Overland Park, KS. It was so far from anything I was worried about – she is amazing. She is so very gentle with him and he just melts every time he lays down for his adjustment. It is so relaxing for him!

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She very gently manipulates his spine all the way up to his cranial bones.

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He LOVES it. Just last week he was quite fussy while we were waiting our turn, and then I took these pictures once we started.

With his reflux/gas/digestive issues, I was really hoping this was the miracle cure. While it has not been (we’re trying other things now), I still absolutely believe its been beneficial. One thing I didn’t even think would come of it is his hernia is relaxed and all but healed.

This picture was taken 3 days after his first adjustment. This was a “relaxed” state.

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It could get hard and even bigger when he was crying. After he started getting adjusted, it’s like his gut could finally let out the big sigh it had been holding – it could relax. And it did. This is a month and a couple days later, after 4 adjustments. (And while crying!)

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I’d say that’s a victory in itself! Thanks Dr. Alyssa!

(and don’t worry, Milo was on his way over to save the day 🙂 )

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4 months!

I can’t quite believe that here I am writing a 4 month post already (and a few days late at that – ha!). I feel like Joey has changed so much over the last month – and in the last couple weeks specifically.

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A month ago he could barely lift his head off the ground when he was on his tummy – now he pushes himself all the way up! (Although, his face will tell you it’s still a lot of work! And he still needs breaks as you can see…)

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This month he went from sleeping a 4-6 hour stretch at night to sleeping 7-8 which is awe-some!!

He is very aware of people he doesn’t now. He often sticks his lip out or even cries when first meeting someone, but does usually eventually warm up.

He has lots of awake time and is loving his play mat. Uncle James got him a little monkey that he is in LOVE with! He finally figured out on Monday how to grab it and he held on to that monkey tail with all his might 🙂

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He just can’t get enough bath time. It never fails – if he’s cranky and nothing’s working – bath is always the answer. He screams when you take him out now! He even has started playing with his duckie when I put it in there – it takes a lot of coordination and concentration, but he can usually get it!

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He has started sucking his thumb pretty consistently! He was sucking on his fists for a while, and it almost seemed like an accident one day that his thumb popped in his mouth. Now he tries to get it all the time – but still lacks great coordination so he struggles sometimes.

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He is obsessed with his tongue – and anyone else’s! He loves if you stick your tongue out at him. He will stick his out too, and also tries to mimic any noise you make with your mouth.

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He is getting so good at his smiling 🙂

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He loves looking at himself in the mirror – and is getting close to rolling from tummy to back!

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Monday night Joey got to go to his first Royals game (thanks to MHC Kenworth)! He slept through the whole thing (despite taking a 3.5 hour nap before we went!), but got his official Royals fan certificate for his first game.

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First Steps will be coming out every 6 weeks to check up on him and do some therapy with him. I can’t wait for her to see how much he’s changed and all the things he can do now that he couldn’t a month ago!

Sunday night we all went out in the pool – the puppies weren’t being so cooperative, but you can at least see a part of each of the 5 of us all in the pool that night! Joey loved it of course 🙂

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Just one more – our little (big!) answer to prayer.

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Quick update

Joey had his first evaluation with First Steps today. She assessed all areas of his development and was here for about an hour. She had 6 different charts, one for each area if development with skills listed in a chart by which month they expect them to achieve them by. For almost everything he’s somewhere between 2 and 3 months which is great! He certainly doesn’t act like the 5 week old he “should” be, but he’s not quite a normal 3 month old yet either. She will put together a plan for what therapies she suggests for him and we will set goals and make a plan from here.

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This afternoon we got to go out for frozen yogurt with my labor & delivery nurse from the night he was born. It was so good to see her! (He was very excited as you can see above!) Yesterday we also had lunch with two of his NICU nurses. So good to see them too! Many, many times making that long drive to the hospital I thought why? Why this hospital? We drove past like 4 others on the way. Every day. It was so inconvenient. But then I think about the amazing women Joey and I have in our lives now because of it, and the drive was so worth it. 🙂

3 Months

This big boy is three whole months today! I can’t believe it. He has changed and grown so much over the last month. We had his two month well baby check and he was 9lb 2oz, 21.5 inches long. His head was 15 1/8 inches. He’s under the second percentile for height and weight on the regular chart, but adjusted for the fact he was two months early he’s almost right on 50th percentile. His head is in the 10th percentile on the regular chart! ha! We saw a new pediatrician (who was awesome!!) and she was very impressed with his development. She said he was doing almost everything she’d expect a 2 month old to do!DSC_0046 DSC_0131 DSC_0152

He’s learning to pick his head up during tummy time. Making progress! That thing is heavy, though! 🙂DSC_0161Love those little toes! (I got my big camera out for the first time since he was born today. And had way too much fun. I know how we’ll be spending lots of days!)
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I did finally take his 2 month picture with his tie, at 2 1/2 months. 🙂IMG_7550

He is just in love with his Wubbanub. It’s never far away!IMG_7729IMG_7424 IMG_7738

Loves hanging out with his daddy! My current favorite picture. 🙂IMG_7523 IMG_7617 IMG_7620

His expressions crack me up!IMG_7644 IMG_7872

He is SO full of smiles now! Definitely his most fun new development. Well, cooing and little giggles too, but I can’t capture those in a photo! I’ll need to get a video.
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The bath is still his favorite thing!

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The Gift of Now

Last night as I was rocking Joey in his nursery I looked up at his NICU pictures hanging on the wall. I can hardly remember those days, that baby. It feels like an eternity ago.

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I decided to figure out how long we’ve even been home… 39 days. The same amount of days we were in the NICU. Just as he changed so dramatically from day 1 to day 39 in the NICU, he’s changed drastically from day 1 to day 39 at home. He hit 9lb tonight which puts him 3lb 2oz up from when he left the NICU, and 5lb 3oz up from birth. Look how he’s grown!

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I’m truly enjoying each day for what it is. Not every day is easy (I sat in the rocking chair all… day… long… today with a stiff neck), but its today. I don’t find myself missing the past, or wishing for the future, I’m just soaking up the gift of today. Each day is a new adventure, and it will always be. My heart is just so full of love for this boy, I hope he never doubts that for a second. Our connection fills my soul, a hole that’s been waiting for this connection for a long, long time. His precious life is such a gift and I’m thankful every day.

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In the last couple days he has really started actual social smiles. If you get his attention, he will lock eyes with you and just light up. He smiles with his whole face and it just makes my heart melt. His favorite place for this is his changing table! I haven’t gotten a good picture yet, I grabbed my phone and snapped this one as quick as I could. It’s a terrible picture, but you get the idea.

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He got a Wubbanub tonight (a stuffed animal attached to a pacifier). He has always loved holding his paci, so I thought he might like something bigger to hold on to, and I was right! He loves his little dino buddy. 🙂

2 months

2 months old! {2 days adjusted}

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Joey is now 7.1lb! I do have some monthly ties I got as a gift, but of course couldn’t find them today. Here’s his one month picture (that was a bad night in the NICU, so it’s a terrible picture) and one from tonight. I will take more for his two month when I find the ties so we can compare. He’s definitely changed a lot!

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8 weeks

How in the world has it been 8 whole weeks since this boy came into our lives? In some ways it feels like just yesterday, but then again it feels like he’s been here forever.

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He’s an absolute joy to have home. He eats well and sleeps well – I can’t complain. He’s just starting to learn to coo and ‘talk’ which is way too adorable. His faces crack me up!

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Thanking God every single day for another day with him. 🙂

Mother’s Day

There is so much in my head and in my heart on this very important day. Mothers are amazing people, and I’m honored to have joined their ranks. In some ways my journey has just begun, and yet every piece of life has been leading to this time. There are so many who have touched and shaped my life in ways that impact the mom I am to my son. So on this Mother’s Day…

To my mama: it all starts with you. Without you, there would be no me, and there would be no Joey. Your patience, guidance, and love have modeled for me the mom I want to be for my son. “Thanks mom for life!”

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To Andy’s mama: thank you for raising the man I had the privilege of marrying. I pray someday Joey’s future wife will be as blessed by the way he was raised as I am by the way you raised your son. He’s an amazing guy and I know so much of that credit goes straight to you.

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To my godmother: thank you for always loving and supporting me in a way like none other. You have so perfectly embodied the role of godmother – leading my life toward Christ, and loving me like a mom.

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To my grandmas, great-grandmas, aunts, and cousins: thank you for being wonderful examples of women and mothers in my life. Our family tree is rich with love and devotion and I am who I am because of your influence.

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To the moms I used to come over and help out with your kids while I was growing up: you may have thought I was helping you, but really you were helping me. While I was learning to love by investing in your kiddos, I was also watching you and learning from you. Those experiences are still with me today and have molded me into the mom I am and will be.

To the moms I nannied and did daycare for: wow. As a mom myself now, I can see just what it took to entrust your kiddos with me every day. I had so much love to give, but no babies of my own, so thank you for sharing yours every day. My experiences with your kids taught me a ton, and I’m grateful for the time I got to spend with them. They’re all amazing kids and were (are!) a blessing in my life.

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To all my mom friends: thank you for walking this road before me and opening your lives to me to ask any questions I need to, and for your constant encouragement and support. Joey thanks you for keeping his mama grounded.

To my photographers, Jessica and Alyisa: no words can describe the gift you’ve given me as a mom. The moments you’ve captured I will hold in my heart forever, and I’ve got a photo to remember it. Thank you for loving on me as a new mom, and for taking the time and care to capture perfect moments with my boy.

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To my husband: you’re not a mom, but without you I wouldn’t be the mom I am today. Your unwavering faith, your patience and love, your strength and devotion, your encouragement and support are all things I am learning from and that are vital to my relationship with Joey. I’m thankful to have had you by my side for this whole crazy ride.

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To my RE, midwives, OB, and labor and delivery nurses: thank you for the role you played in this big story. If you had not been there and stepped in when and how you did, I may not be celebrating today with a baby in my arms. I am incredibly grateful for your education, wisdom, love, and care. Keep doing what you’re doing, because its an amazing thing.

To my NICU nurses: thank you. From the bottom of my heart. You were mamas to my baby when I couldn’t be there, and you loved on me as a mama in a way no one else could or did. Your experience and knowledge as fellow moms and as nurses is something I’ll carry with me as I raise this boy. Thank you for loving him.

To all the mamas-to-be still waiting and hurting: I feel you. Having a baby doesn’t take all the pain away. I still hurt remembering the many years this day has passed as a painful day. Being a mom now doesn’t erase the past, but it does let me see it in a different light. Every pain, every tear, every failed cycle, every lost baby led us to here. It all brought me my boy. And I’d do it all again to be here with him. Trust that your take-home baby is coming, and every step right now is just a tiny piece of the big story unfolding in your life. I’m praying for peace and strength for you today.

To my godson, Luke: you made me a godmama for the first time this year too! I am so honored to play this role in your life. You are an amazing boy already and I can’t wait to watch you and your BFF Joey (aka Han Solo) grow up together. I’m praying for you daily, and praying for strength and wisdom to be an example in your life and love you in a unique way as your godmother. Love you, Lukey!

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To my furbabies, my first kids: thank you for giving me a place to share my love. I don’t always do it right, but I absolutely love being your mama too. You are naughty and crazy, but you love so unconditionally and have taught me patience and love on a whole new level. Never stop giving an abundance of kisses and wagging your tails when I walk in the room. You’ve taken up a big part of my heart and no one could replace that.

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To my two babies in heaven: I miss you. I can’t wait to rock you someday, to scoop you up in my arms and give you the kisses I never got to. I can’t wait for you to meet your little brother – your short lives were a big part of our story and paved the way for him to come into our lives. Thank you for giving me my first taste of the love I’d have to give my babies as a mom.

To Josiah, my son: you’ve added a richness and depth to my life that’s like no other. Your little life has changed mine in a big way. I am so incredibly blessed to have you here today. I pray I never for a second lose sight of the miracle of your life. I can’t wait to watch you grow up into the man you were created to be. Your life has got a big, big purpose and I’m excited to be a part of that. Thanks for making me a mama.

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