Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Breastfeeding: My Journey

With both of my babies, it has been breastfeeding that has caused me the most STRESS as a Mom.  Why is it that we as women put SO MUCH pressure on ourselves?  It is also the thing that I feel the most insecure and emotional about.  

When I had Stella, breastfeeding pain FAR OUTWEIGHED the pain I had recovering from the C-Section.  It was quite the opposite this time much to my surprise and for the first week, breastfeeding Chloé was a privilege and something I genuinely looked forward to!  I was SO incredibly hopeful that it could work this time and considered myself brave for even attempting it again after my traumatic experience with breastfeeding Stella.  In the hospital, I had plenty of supply and met with every lactation consultant that I had access to so that I could make sure I was doing everything right! I thought if I could just check ALL the boxes, I was guaranteed success.  You study for a test? You do WELL. You train for a marathon? You cross the finish line. You change your diet? You lose weight.  So if I met with EVERY lactation consultant and they gave their approval, SURELY I would "succeed" at breastfeeding right? Well that is not my story. 
With Chloé, she was born at a hefty 8 lbs 5 oz so the hospital was a lot more lenient on me when her weight dropped each day.  Two of the lactation consultants felt like maybe her latch was bad and so we started using the nipple shield to make sure she was learning to latch correctly.  This didn't bother me and honestly I think helped with the fact that this time I never felt any pain breastfeeding.  After her weight dropped over 10% from her birth weight down to 7 lbs 3 oz, they had me start pumping after every feeding and giving her the expressed breast milk.  This was a bit of a process but I still had a good attitude about it because I knew it was just temporary… or so I thought.
At her 1 week checkup she HAD gained weight since being discharged from the hospital but still wasn't up to her birth weight.  I made an appointment with a lactation consultant because I really wanted to drop the nipple shield step and get any tips on how I could drop the pumping step as well.  After meeting with her for an entire hour, I left in tears.  From her observation, Chloé was barely getting any of my breastmilk due to a poor latch despite "feeding" her for 45 minutes.  Her assessment was that she was tongue tied and we needed to get her little tongue clipped.  I also found out that although way more convenient (since I didn't have to be plugged into a wall) the hand pump was not NEARLY as effective as the electric pump.  Sure enough I was able to pump 3x more with the electric pump than with the handheld so we made that switch. We had the tongue procedure and met with the LC again to gage any sort of progress with the latch. The LC was still concerned about the weight gain and figured that my supply was going down since Chloé clearly wasn't eating much when she was on the breast. SO the insanity began. I started taking supplement drops (that tasted HORRIFIC and AWFUL) and also took prescription medicine 4x/ day given to me by my doctor that has a side effect of increasing milk supply in 50% of women. (I was not in that 50% - it most definitely ripped up my stomach though) Our new "routine" was to feed Chloé only 15 minutes (because when I nursed for 45 min it was not an effective use of my time) and then I had to pump for 20 minutes and feed her what I pumped.  If I was not able to pump enough, I had to supplement with formula.  Anyone else's head hurt after reading that?
Let me just tell you I hung in there… I hung in there for dear life and tried to keep a positive attitude.  But being plugged into the wall for 20 minutes every couple of hours with a 2 year old and a screaming newborn who was starving was proving to be extremely stressful and difficult.  Not to mention, leaving the house was a whole…. THING… because I had a TINY window of time to go do stuff since the entire feeding/ pumping/ supplementing process was taking me at least an hour every single time and Chloé was eating every 2-3 hours.
Fast forward a couple weeks and my precious 2 year old broke her leg at open gym… and mix that in with my husband leaving town for 5 very LONG, very FULL days for a work trip and I started having anxiety attacks.  It was harder and harder to coordinate everything so I was down to pumping only 2-3 times per day when I had a spare 20 minutes.  Let me tell you, when you are pumping for an HOUR out of your day and only getting 3 oz (not even enough for 1 bottle) out of the deal…. You start wondering what the point of it all is when you could be spending that hour WITH your children rather than avoiding them or snapping at them to leave you alone and go find something to do because Mommy is pumping.  
I wrestled with this…. and to be really transparent, I am STILL wrestling with this but Logan and I talked and he said I needed to stop being wishy washy and either commit or make the switch.  It was such an emotional decision for me because with Stella it was my DOCTOR who told me to quit and this time it was my decision. I lasted 2 months with Stella and really wanted to hang in there at LEAST that long for Chloé but Logan told me a happy and healthy Mom/ wife was way more important to him than a breastfed baby.
At the end of the day here is the deal… Although incredibly blessed and thankful that I can get pregnant easily, I still get sad thinking that I will never experience a vaginal birth since I always have to get C-Sections.  I also FULLY realize that I would probably not be here and neither would Stella had the C-Section technology not been around so I am not in any way bitter about the fact I had to have one to save her/ us… it was just not my ideal birth plan.  THEREFORE, the ONE NATURAL thing I wanted to be able to do as a Mom was breastfeed my girls… and in this case, I feel like I have failed…. TWICE.  The thought "I can't give birth to my babies OR feed them. I am a bad mom." enters my mind more than I care to admit.   I know these are not rational thoughts but it really hurts this Mama's pride and the mommy guilt is huge. I also wanted that bond, the convenience, and the affordability of it not to mention the health benefits for me and the baby! And to be honest, I was LOVING it before the dreaded weigh-ins started happening! The first week we had was bliss.
I have REALLY tried putting my pride aside and just focusing on my mental health and Chloé's health and not feeling like a failure because most of this was out of my control and I know that I put forth 100% of my time and effort into trying to make it work this time.  But I still cry sometimes when I compare myself to other moms who are able to do this successfully and easily or when people make innocent comments asking if I am still nursing because the truth is I WANTED to be and just couldn't make it work. For a very Type A, perfectionist it feels very much like failure and defeat.  
I know that I don't need to justify why I am bottle feeding at 6 weeks, but for some reason with society today, people look down on this.  I want THOSE people to know that breastfeeding does NOT work for everyone.  I am jealous of those who have an abundance of milk and whose babies have a perfect latch and they never feel any pain and it just "clicks."  That definitely has not happened for me either time despite my very best efforts.  So if you are one of those women, do not take it for granted.  You are very lucky indeed and please do not pass judgment on formula-fed, bottle feeding babies and moms because you do not know the back story and possible agony and pain that went into that decision. 
Moving forward, I am trying to keep my chin up and feel good about the fact that Chloé DID get some breast milk and also realize that I am not a bad mom or a failure of a mom because I had to make the switch so early on.  It has been an emotional week having my supply dry up and not second guessing my decision.  If we are lucky enough to have a 3rd baby, I fully intend on trying it again but next time I am not going to put the caliber of my "Mommyhood" as the standard of my succeeding or not succeeding at it.  We do not need to put that kind of pressure on ourselves.  At the end of the day, what makes you a good Mom is doing what is BEST for your baby and keeping them alive.  I feel like I have made the best decision for our family by switching to formula, even though it is not at all what I wanted or planned but I have learned throughout this whole parenting deal that OFTEN times, things do not turn out how we planned and we just have to learn to roll with it.  By bottle feeding, I am able to spend more time with Stella and Chloé and Logan is able to help me with the middle of the night feedings which has been great! I am also able to go out for a night with friends and leave Chloé with grandparents who get to share that bond with their granddaughter.  I also don't' have to worry about pumping and dumping … and believe me, I have taken full advantage of that ;) And overall, I am LESS of a hot mess full of anxiety, dread, and self pity now that we have closed that chapter. 

So whether you are the mom who breastfeeds her babies until they are 2, the mom who never gave them a single drop of breast milk, the mom who has just enough for each feeding, the mom who has a freezer FULL of frozen breast because you could supply a small country with your milk supply, or maybe you are the dedicated mom who pumps like a mad woman for hours every day to feed your baby bottles of your breast milk.  

Hear me: YOU ARE AN EXCELLENT MOM!!! You are a HERO because you are doing what is best for you and your baby.  

Let's be each other's biggest fans and cheerleaders rather than passing judgment because lets be honest… Motherhood is hard for all of us and we are all just doing the best that we can. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Motherhood Round 2: What has been surprising!

When I had Stella, motherhood was not something that came very naturally to me. I think I battled a bit of the baby blues. I was fully prepared to have similar feelings this go around but prayed that I would survive the newborn phase gracefully. I had convinced myself that I just wasn't a newborn person & that toddlers were my thing. That was before I met this little love. This time is so different and I'm soaking in every snuggle because now I know how fast it all goes. Their smell. Innocence. Smiles in their sleep. Froggy legs. Teenie diapers. Miniature fingers & toes. It's too much. Time stand still.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Chloé Grace Misegades: The Birth Story

The last few days leading up to Chloé's birth are SO vivid in my mind.  I had so many different emotions - I was mourning the fact that Stella would no longer be our only baby and that our attention would be divided.  I was terrified of the change and finding our new "groove."  I was nervous about the procedure itself… People were SO excited about the birthday and meeting the baby, but they weren't the ones being cut open and going through the C-Section recovery. I was also VERY VERY anxious about the breastfeeding because with Stella it is the thing that stands out most to me as the hardest and most painful adjustment of motherhood.

The weekend before Chloé was born, I took Stella to get her very first haircut so it would look cute for pictures. As you can see, she survived but was NOT a fan! On Monday, the day before Chloé was born, Stella and I had a day date to Build-A-Bear to pick out a stuffed animal just for her.  It was such a sweet time for us- She is really into Curious George right now so naturally she picked out the monkey and named him George.  What is really sweet is that we printed out his "birth certificate" and it will always be the day before Stella became a big sister.  We had the best time.
I bawled my eyes out that afternoon as we dropped her off at my moms house for the last time as our only child.  The next time we laid eyes on her, we would know her sister. What she looked like, how much she weighed, and all of those wonderful newborn feelings.

Later that night, Logan took me out on a date to get sushi as my last meal.  We chatted and FINALLY zeroed in on her name.  Up until the night before, we were going back and forth on the middle name.  Chloé had been the front-runner first name for most of the pregnancy BUT we were open to that changing if another name came along that we liked better.  In the end, after meeting her, we realized Chloé had ALWAYS been her name.  I can't imagine anything else more perfect for her. The middle name "Grace" was perfect for this season in our life- Over the span of this pregnancy, God has provided for our family in the most unreal, supernatural ways and shown His amazing grace for our growing family.  We wanted to use "Grace" to remind us of everything He brought us through during this pregnancy. 

After sushi, we got everything packed in our hospital bags, I showered and fixed my hair, and Logan set the alarm for 4am since we had to check in at Baylor at 5:30am.  We tried to go to sleep by 10:30pm that night but heaven knows I did not sleep a WINK! I was full of nervous excitement and energy.

Sure enough the alarm went off and it was go time. Logan called his parents in France on the way to the hospital and we said a long prayer for my nerves and the delivery.  We checked in and I immediately got taken back to the room and hooked up to machines to monitor my heart rate and the baby's too.  They also started me on an IV.  All of the nurses were so nice, even when I had my one "burst into tears because I was so overwhelmed" cry…. My parents and sister showed up around 6:30am to say "Hi" and give me a kiss before I got wheeled back.  Before I knew it, the 2 hours had flown by, it was 7:15am and time to go to the operating room. 
I walked there in my gown and the room was bright and really cold.  The SWEETEST nurse named Posey took my camera and offered to take pictures for us so that Logan didn't have to worry about it and could be more present during the delivery.  Once we were in the room everything started going REALLY fast.  I got my epidural spinal tap (it did not hurt at all which was shocking to me) and I got hooked up to lots of machines. Before I knew it, the curtain popped up and Logan sat down beside my face and held my hand as the new Bethel album was playing lightly in the background. Everything was calm, routine, and peaceful. I remember being asked if I could feel anything and when I said "No" they got started.  My Doctor was chit chatting with me and asking about Lake Highlands and where I grew up because he lives there right now. He was also talking to the other doctors about how nicely my scar from France had healed.  When we started getting close he told Logan we were about 5 minutes out and Logan stood up and peeked over the curtain. The staff all took bets as to how big they thought she would be… All of the guesses were in the 7 lb range. Little did they know we had an 8 lb 5 oz baby girl on the way!  Logan had a face mask on but I watched as his eyes would get really big and then he would look at me and squeeze my hand.  He was oddly fascinated by the entire thing.  He said he watched as Dr. Gaitonde massaged our sweet girl down and out of my tummy.  First the head popped out, then one arm, then the other, and finally the rest of her body wiggled out with a big, loud cry!!! I gasped and cried because I never heard that with Stella…. What a blessing… sweetest sound ever! I heard the words "She's perfect" and Logan told me "She looks like Stella" and then Dr. Gaitonde held her up over the curtain and said "Here's Chloé!!!" Then I looked to the side as Logan followed the nurse over to the station to wipe her down, suction her throat, and check her vitals.  Posey brought her over to me so I could stare at her.  I remember her eyes were shut but she had the squishiest cheeks and cutest little button nose.  I didn't really see the Stella resemblance until later but she was breathtakingly beautiful.

They took her back since it was so cold to put her under the lights and Logan got to change her diaper and hold her for the first time. I love seeing such a tiny baby in my big husbands arms. He walked her over to me swaddled in a little blanket and we were all of a sudden a family of 4.  Chloé Grace…. It was her all along and we finally met her and knew her.

Logan stepped out to let my family know everything went well and about 45 minutes later we were in the recovery room and my Mom, Dad, Kelley, and Katy got to come back and meet her after we had done skin to skin and I had breastfed her for the first time.  Everyone was smitten and she was wide eyed and so alert! I LOVED having my family there which was also so different than last time.

Later that day around lunch time, I was taken up to the postpartum floor and Lindsay, Nick, Laine, Kerri and Landon were all there with gifts and so excited to meet her.  A few minutes in, Stella arrived with Opa in her "Big Sister" shirt and George in tow and came in to meet Chloé.  Initally she was much more interested in the balloons and cousin Laine being there than her baby sister… Not to mention she was a bit freaked out by the machines I was hooked up to and the bed in general. (She didn't want to sit by me or be anywhere near it! ha) One thing she DID get into though was singing "Happy Birthday" to Chloé and blowing out the birthday candle.  She has been SO into birthdays lately that we thought this would be a memory maker and help make everything more "real" to her. The video of this is about the sweetest thing I have ever seen :) 

The day before she was born when I was a bundle of nerves, a friend of mine said "Abby get ready because you get to have one of the best days of your LIFE… TOMORROW!" And she was right… It was truly the very best day and I cannot imagine life without our sweet Chloé Grace.  Thank you Lord for entrusting her to US as her parents. May we teach her Your ways and she never stray from them. We are bursting with pride and joy. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Introducing Chloé Grace Misegades!

Miss Chloé Grace Misegades arrived on March 10, 2015 at 7:54am weighing in at 8 lbs 5 oz and measuring 20 1/8" long! 

They say your heart doubles when you welcome a new little one into the world and I think my heart just might explode over this little angel.  She has rocked our world and changed this Mama's heart forever. We love her SO much and I look forward to updating you all on everything we've been up to the past 2 weeks in adjusting to our new family of 4! 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Tomorrow is the BIG DAY!

If I am being honest,  I am a bundle of nerves this morning.  Last night was pretty emotional for me as we tucked Stella in for the last time before baby sister arrives.  We are taking her to my Mom's house later today and she will be with the grandparents for the rest of the week while I am in the hospital.  The weather is rainy and gross today but I am trying to think of something fun for us to do today, just the 2 of us! This will be the last day for awhile that I can even pick her up due to my recovery. 

Most of you know, my first birth experience was probably the hardest day of my life.  Honestly.  I know everyone is so excited about tomorrow and to an extent I am too but I can't help but be incredibly nervous because of everything that happened last time.  I know this time will be completely different because I am in the US, have an English-speaking doctor, and Logan will get to be in the room with me… Not to mention I won't have to go through the actual 16 hours of labor part but it's still hard for me to wrap my mind around everything.  We check in at 5:30am tomorrow and are getting wheeled back at 7:15 and everything should be said and done by 9/ 9:30am!  TOMORROW.  

It feels weird knowing its coming… almost gives you too much time to analyze and worry rather than launching into labor unexpectedly and just rolling with it!  Last time I had no idea my labor would end in and emergency C-Section so I had no time to think about what they were actually doing to me… Being on this side of it though, I clam up and get nervous thinking about the actual procedure and recovery. I suppose its the same sort of thing when you get induced! 

BUT I am excited to get to meet her.  Seeing her face will immediately make everything worthwhile - We haven't had a sonogram since 19 weeks so we really haven't seen her much at all this pregnancy (vs. in France when we had a sonogram every appointment) and I have NO clue what she's going to look like! Will she be a "Mini Stella" or completely different? Then again, Stella looks NOTHING like her newborn pics so that can always change haha! Below are a few pictures of our beautiful Stella Rose RIGHT after being born!

Last night Logan and I just sat in her nursery and prayed.  Prayed for her health, her future, Stella and their relationship, the procedure, the nerves, the anxiety… and that she would be a good eater/ sleeper …. PLEAAAASE! We also prayed for her NAME.  We have a pretty good idea about her first name but her middle name is completely up in the air… So we are hoping that once we meet her, it will just be evident.  Funny thing is the name I think we are going with has never been on my "Baby Name List" until this pregnancy! (I have kept a running list on my phones for YEARS) So it feels fresh and new and exciting and something I never would have thought we'd go with! I have become OCD checking out every possible girl name I can get my hands on in and effort to make sure this is the RIGHT NAME…. She could be our very last little girl, after all so I don't ever want to hear another name and wish we would have gone with that one instead! I feel pretty confident I have done my research and we've landed on a good one :) 

PS How crazy is it that we had THIS MUCH SNOW… IN TEXAS… IN MARCH!!! Pretty fun that I now have 2 snow bump pictures at the SAME point in pregnancy with both of my girls :) The top one was in France with Stella and the rest are from this past week at 39 weeks pregnant! 


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