Archives for the month of: August, 2012

Got milk???

Ahhh the joy of spending $30 a pop on a tub of formula…did we really have a choice in the matter though?  Actually we didn’t after a rough first 8 weeks with Juliette.  It’s a great debate…formula vs. breastmilk, and I have to admit I believed that breast was best.  My daughter did get breastfed at least for a little while, not as long as I had hoped, but there was reason for that.

Let’s back up a bit here, I believe in a woman’s right to choose in many ways.  Now, I am not going to go out on a limb (like Mr. Bloomberg did) and decide to take away formula from any place, but I will say that choices are there and they are made for a REASON, not just for convenience.  Unto the whole nursing issue, I was so very excited preparing for all of the things motherhood brought upon me, and one of the most important things was my ability to breastfeed (and my bigger cup size too might I add).

When I first started to breastfeed Juliette it was not easy as I had hoped, but I told myself that it was going to be ‘ok,’ I wasn’t expecting it to be.  A nipple-shield helped a lot at first, especially with that precious “liquid-gold” colostrum that comes in those first few days.  Then, as the milk came in, the shields were used less as Juliette latched on much better.  Unfortunately though, this is not where the story ends.  I so wish I was like one of those women who easily popped their baby on their boob and delightfully fed them on each side.  I envied those women!!  This was not the case for me…the first problem was, Juliette never seemed full, and was also quite colic after almost a week at home with us, especially at feeding time.  After one very worried trip to the ER, many pediatrician appointments, a meeting with a lactation consultant, and joining La Leche League, I began to also pump my milk.  They all agreed that, most likely, our somewhat discontented newborn wasn’t getting enough milk or and when she was, she wasn’t getting it fast enough.  Every new mom will learn that all babies lose weight once they come home from the hospital, but she wasn’t gaining any and loosing too much.

I admit that it was frustrating, (not to mention those very, very sore and leaky nipples to boot), and I was quite worried and felt somewhat inadequate.  But, I would not be defeated!!!  So, after her feedings, I would pump, then hydrate, try my best to replenish my insatiable hunger, and by the time this process was done I was left with maybe 15 minutes or perhaps 25 minutes, (if I was lucky), before her next feeding.  So, there I was exhausted, feeding her directly from the breasts, then offered her some from the bottle with pumped milk (if she was still hungry), then burped her (she was a very tough burper), followed by pumping, eating/drinking for myself, and then having barely any time left to do anything for myself, like brush my hair or go to the bathroom.  Still, I was not giving up, I was determined to do this.  By her next doctor’s appointment she seemed to be getting enough now, however she had begun to spit up a lot more and was having an even harder time burping.  On top of that, she still hadn’t gained much, but (AH-HA!) something was working because she hadn’t  lost any weight!  Unfortunately though, due to the gassy, non-burping and constantly spitting up baby Juliette had become after just a few weeks, they suggested changing my diet.  So, I gave up dairy first, which wasn’t too bad.  My husband stocked us up with many new types of food for my diet, after a week though, still no change, so then they suggested to try to soy free diet.  Well, I really feel very badly for anyone who can’t eat soy, because it’s in almost EVERYTHING!!  This diet was hard, but I pressed on and kept at it, sent Steve to the store almost daily to find something to eat that way soy free and filled me up…but still no change, and a lot more crying and spitting up.  Next up, I tried a soy and dairy free diet, this was the hardest one, but I was doing this for the better of my child, so I still didn’t give up!  Much to my chagrin though, no change with Juliette.  She was not so happy at feeding time especially, and the poor thing couldn’t keep anything down.  I went back to my regular diet and just exclusively on the breast and she would cry and cry and cry and not even want to eat.  What was happening?  Was she self-weaning already?  What did she want?  It was so hard to tell!!  Would there ever be a resolution to this?  Will I ever enjoy my new daughter?  Why can’t I just feed her my milk?  Bottle or breast is best?  Why does she cry every time she is nursing?????  So many questions and I NEEDED ANSWERS!!!

Finally, after six long and stressful weeks of this…she was diagnosed with ACID REFLUX, and with the right formula and meds, she was like a new baby!  I couldn’t believe it!!!  Why didn’t we know this before?  Apparently it is VERY common, and my younger sister and mother-in-law even had it when they were babies…who knew?  Finding the right formula and meds wasn’t easy either, and I even kept trying to sneak in my pumped breast-milk too, but every single time I did, she puked and had a sour stomach.  Plus, because as this point I was just pumping, my supply was going down.  So, I finally and unfortunately stopped breastfeeding after 8 weeks of putting my all into it!  It was very sad day for me, and I shed many tears over it, but no one could say I didn’t try, because I did everything I possibly could.  My loving husband was very supportive of the fact that I had to stop, and he was my biggest supporter through all of this.  In conclusion, I did not have a choice but to give up nursing my baby, unless I wanted to make her sick everyday…I think NOT!

I started to enjoy Juliette so much more, and from that moment on there was stress here and there, but nothing so bad that we couldn’t handle it.  Burp cloths, bibs, and wipes became my new best friends, and burping every 2 ounces was much better for my hard to burp baby.  As she became an adorably happy and, might I add, very full baby, who by her third month was in the 95th percentile for weight, and has stayed around that same mark since, we knew we did the right thing for her.

So, trust me, they made formula for a reason, not just for women who chose not to breastfeed (which if you chose that too, I have no judgment there either because breastfeeding, even if it agrees with them, is serious business), but it was also made for those babies who couldn’t be exclusively breastfed.  It was a long road, and once she started solids her acid reflux kept getting better, her spit-ups diminished, and she now loves practically all food.  Skip to the present time…today was her last day of her beloved soy formula, which took us so long to find the right one after those six weeks.  Today it’s all whole milk.  This was a 3-week milk  project, adding more whole milk and less formula every week…and I was quite nervous about it, because of all her problems feeding in the beginning, but I am happy to report that so far, so good!

So, all you new moms hear me out- DO NOT be too hard on yourself, if for whatever the reason, you can not breastfeed, because you do have choices.  I tried my very best, and still do hope to be able to breastfeed (for a longer period of time) with the next child, when that time comes.  But when that day does comes, if it doesn’t work out I am not going to be too hard on myself, because I have a very happy and healthy baby now.  And if you are successful in breastfeeding easily, congratulations to you, I am very jealous!

Got milk?  Yes, we all do, but it comes in many different shapes, forms, sizes, and brands, and yes you do have the right to choose!  Please remember that ladies, your baby’s health and happiness comes first, and don’t be too hard on yourself like I was…it’s unnecessary in the end! J

PS: Any questions about acid reflux, feel free to ask me anytime!  I had a hard time finding enough information out there about it, and while I’m no expert, I can try my best advice to help.

It’s such a fantastic and quite gleeful statement to spread around, “We are trying to have a baby!!!”  Little do you know, that statement will come back to bite you!  Trust me, it will, unless you are one of those women, and I know them too, who have an unplanned pregnancy or go off the pill and are pregnant a mere week later.  That was not I, not this time around anyway.  I’m that girl who always dreamt of having a baby and being a Mom, I believe this is one of the roles I was born to fulfill.  I’ve known this ever since I was five years old and would willingly help my Mom take care of my little sister with any of the many baby tasks.  So, Tara you are really to blame for my baby fever!  My husband always knew this about me too, as I would constantly remind him, “I need to have a baby before I am 30!”  So the moment my well-to-do and responsible husband decided we were financially secure enough to give it a go, you better believe we jumped on it, pun intended.  And although it was not as easy as I had originally thought it would be, we just made the cutoff…I was 36 weeks ‘preggers’ and just about ready to pop when I had just turned 30.

A brief back-story is needed here: I had to switch gynecologists since we had moved to a new town, and had taken a referral for a new nearby doctor, without first looking into it myself…MISTAKE!  I’ll save the whole story for another day, but I was misdiagnosed and that misdiagnosis caused much unnecessary stress to both my husband and myself for many months.

So there we were, trying for many months. I had this weird misdiagnosis, was very stressed, and after a few tearful talks with my husband, we finally stopped ‘trying’ and just went back to ‘having sex’ and ‘tried’ to stop worrying about it.  It was actually quite a relief, as I stopped charting my ovulation schedule and we just went back to our regular lives, so to speak.  The last tearful breakdown I had was somewhere around Halloween 2010, when I had thrown myself into my work and didn’t even think much about getting pregnant anymore.  Funnily enough, by Thanksgiving I noticed my sense of smell increasing : the turkey scent I always so enjoyed kind of made me nauseous.  I also had a few times on my way to work when I had to pull over and spit out some of my daily tea, plus my boobs hurt so bad I couldn’t even sleep on my stomach anymore, and on top of that my period was 10 days late.  I finally came clean about these symptoms on that 10th day to my husband,  (I didn’t tell him sooner because I didn’t want to jinx it!), and he ran to the store to get a pregnancy test!

While I was waiting, I called one of my friends who was just about to have a baby, and another friend who already had a little one.  They both were excited and said all signs pointed to yes, but they also told me, (which I already knew, but like my husband, I was just so excited!), that it was best to take those tests in the morning…something having to do with urine being easier to read in the morning.  Anyway, Steve got home and I ran to the bathroom to take the test, and I had one solidly clear pink line, and the other (as you need two lines to be pregnant) was there but it was a much lighter pink, not invisible, but not as dark as the other.  Now, I had taken these before but had never seen two, just one, so this was a good sign, right?  How were we supposed to know??  I was skeptical and gave my friends both a call back to which they both told me again all sign point to yes and to take it in the morning, however this time to take the DIGITAL test!!!  It was more expensive, but it would be worth it.  Well, Steve ran back out and we waited until morning, don’t ask me how we slept, because we didn’t get much as both of us were ridiculously smiley that whole night.

I woke up 10 minutes before my 5:00 a.m. alarm just glaring at the clock, for once gladly awaiting that sound most of us hate to wake up to.  My little mini dachshund dog, Layla, always gets up with me, she goes outside first and then I go to the bathroom.  Alarm went off and I happily threw on my coat and boots and took Layla out, I practically skipped back in and she must have known something because she was very quick outside for once.  I’ve never been so excited to pee in my whole life!!  I peed onto the strip and waited for the longest moment of my life…which led to the happiest moment of my life! (At that point, at least).  My shaking hand finally got still when that digital test read “Pregnant.”  AHHHHHHHH!!!  We, (both Layla and I), jumped into the bedroom and onto the bed to wake Steve up with the good news: it had finally happened, we were going to have a baby!!!

We were both blissful all morning and it was so hard to keep it to myself at work.  I looked for a new OBGYN online during the little bit of free time I had at work and found one I seemed to like, and called to schedule an appointment, luckily they fit me in the next day!  I called my parents that morning, as did Steve.  They were all so happy for us, and I told my sisters (who both adorably cried) and my two closest friends on my way home from work.  It was a wonderful day, as was the next when it was confirmed that next morning at my new doctor that I was in fact, scientifically and all, PREGNANT!

So, take my 4 pieces of advice if you are planning to have a baby:

1) Don’t go on and on to people about the fact that you are “trying” 

2) Find your own doctor that you can trust and feel very comfortable with

3) Be patient, I know it is hard, but some women get pregnant after a week, and for some it may take years, for me it took 11 months

4) Save yourself a lot of time and energy and take only the digital pregnancy test, as it is the most accurate…and while you are at it try to hold off and take it in the morning, because it’s the best alarm in the morning that you will ever hear!

As I watch my newly 1 year-old daughter adorably walk, or should I say stumble and stomp around the house and hand me her little Rosita toy with a huge smile on her face, I cannot help but think, has it really been over a year since I gave birth to her?  There are many, many, many huge things that happen throughout the course of someone’s life, but just like the corny Faith Hill Christmas song states, “A Baby Changes Everything,” don’t roll your eyes just yet, because it’s very, very, very true in so many ways.  We have all heard people say that, but until it happens to you, (and as much as your mother tells you), you cannot understand that statement.

We have had many ups and downs during Juliette’s first year of life.  Not only during her first year of her life do things change though, because as every mother can tell you, everything truly changes for a woman is once she actually becomes pregnant.  That’s not to say it doesn’t change for the man as well, but no offense guys, until you’ve gone through waiting for that period not to come, peeing on that stick, feeling overwhelmingly nauseated, having rock hard breasts, getting so grossed out about even the thought of raw chicken, the purely blissful feeling of that baby growing inside you kicking for the first time, or the unbearable back pain and heartburn (just to name a few)…not to mention giving birth, guys you have it easy!

Now that I’m a proud stay-at-home Mom, I have decided to start writing about the many highs and lows from pregnancy to birth and all the way through Juliette’s first year, and hopefully beyond that as well.  Since there are already so many blogs and books out there, (no offense to “What to Expect When You Are Expecting” and “What to Expect the First Year (and Second Year, etc.),” but I find it to be the most comforting when I read things written from a first hand experience perspective, in the most realistic terminology.  And what more life altering experiences are there than pregnancy and raising a child/children?  Don’t get me wrong, I have read all my “What to Expect…” books religiously so far, but what I love most is when I read something that makes me feel like I am not alone, other moms go through these same things too.  I hope that this blog will ring true and spark the same feeling in other moms or mom-to-be’s out there, because what I have found from all of my readings is that there is not enough no-nonsense narratives about the unusual situations you are bound to encounter for a first time mom.

And I have to make sure I give credit where credit is due to the people responsible for this blog.  This is dedicated to my beautiful, unique and extremely active daughter Juliette Maria Giunta, because without her this now stay-at-home Mom and former middle school English teacher wouldn’t be writing this.  And finally, a huge shout-out to my devoted and wonderful husband, Steve, whom without his love, support (and sperm might I add) none of this new life would even exist.  I hope you will enjoy reading what I would like to call “Juliette’s World.”  (cue Juliette’s beloved “Elmo’s World” theme song, if you don’t know it yet, don’t worry every new mom soon will).