To get to know our family better, here are a few family photos from our recent maternity shoot with One Moment More Photography. For more of our day-to-day life check out my instagram!
Just a warning-this post is about BOOBS! (And not in a fun way) But more specifically about breastfeeding.
First I have to admit, I honestly thought breastfeeding would be easy. I naively assumed I just whip it out, Maddox would begin nursing and we’d have this kumbaya bonding moment. There’d be no struggles, no real learning how, and especially no pain. Wow was I wrong! While Maddox naturally knew exactly what to do, I on the other hand was the idiot. Even though my mom had nursed all 3 of us for years, I clearly had not asked her enough questions. Josh and I even took a couples’ breastfeeding class while I was pregnant but even then no one came out and said “BREASTFEEDING MAY BE HARD and IT MAY HURT!”
There are many reasons that some women aren’t able to breastfeed. Luckily, I had no medical issues or concerns that conflicted with breastfeeding. My main issue was how simple I really assumed it was going to be. When Maddox was born I immediately attempted nursing within the first hour (like all my books, classes, and experienced moms had told me to). Right away Maddox knew exactly what to do! However, his technique (specifically his latch) needed a little work. I kept attempting to nurse him every few hours but something just didn’t feel right. Honestly- It hurt like HELL!! I later learned this was partially due to the way I was errr…built…that made latching harder for him. Luckily my mom (and experienced breastfeeding champion herself) was there and recommended I talk to the lactation specialist at the hospital. The first one that came in was slightly helpful (but mom wasn’t impressed) so we asked for another one and let me tell you- She knew her stuff! She was an expert! She was beyond helpful and even talked to Josh about ways to help and comfort me while we all got the hang of it as well.
By the time we left the hospital Maddox and I still didn’t have this whole thing figured out but the nurses were happy with how he was doing and we were happy with the knowledge we had gained to feel comfortable continuing to work on it at home. The biggest thing I did wrong was to let Maddox continue to constantly nurse without properly latching. Both josh and my mom noticed how tense my entire body was getting every time I would feed Maddox so they would do everything they could to help me relax- i.e. shoulder massages, turning on the tv to distract me, talking to me, having me try Maddox in different positions, and having me stop feeding him so he could relatch until it didn’t hurt. I was so worried about him getting enough to eat that I ignored how uncomfortable it was for me. Boy was that a bad idea. Nursing him “the wrong way” for just a few days had caused cracking, bleeding, bruising, and blistering…. Talk about painful!! At that point there really wasn’t anything I could do. He had to eat, so I had to nurse. Now supplementing with formula, even temporarily, is definitely an option. However, I had decided and was very determined to breastfeed exclusively. There’s absolutely nothing right or wrong about either option. That’s just what I decided was best for us.
So in the beginning it was hard but for me it was totally worth the pain! I soon learned that nursing fixes everything! Hunger, sadness, tiredness, frustration, pain, you name it! I never had to worry about packing bottles or buying formula. I also feel like it really helped Maddox and me to bond, not to say people who don’t breastfeed are missing that bond, but for us, it created a closeness that I can’t explain. It was a lifesaver for us, in so many ways and I’m so glad Maddox and I were able to experience it! Fingers crossed things go smoothly with Marlow, but we’ll see.
After a few months of proper feedings, lots of patiences, terrific support from Josh, and a boatload of nipple cream and gel pads we were home free! Well…until teething-but that’s a whole other post. I don’t want to make these posts too long so I plan to do another post about how long Maddox nursed, when he nursed, when certain feedings started to tapper off, and how I dealt with the occasional feelings of “NO ONE TOUCH ME or I’ll scream.”
After years of not writing anything besides to-do lists and facebook posts, I decided to start writing again at 4am on April 3, 2016. I literally woke up and started making notes on my phone. I’m not at all trying to give advice, tell you how to do anything, or tell you how right I did everything. After years of reading other peoples blogs I decided to share how we do things in my family.
I started thinking about writing blog posts again after a friend, who had recently had a baby, asked me how I get Maddox to sleep through the night. We messaged for hours back and forth talking about everything from his bedtime routine, to what time he goes to bed, to how he falls asleep to where he sleeps. Then a few months later another friend and I had almost the exact same conversation. Full disclosure- I admit that Maddox sleeping so well could have absolutely nothing to do with anything we have done. He may just be a great sleeper! We’ll see when Marlow comes. I may be writing a whole new ‘Help! I have no idea what to do’ post. With that being said, here’s what we did with Maddox.
From the time Maddox was born he has slept with us. In the hospital he slept exclusively on my or Josh’s chest. When we brought him home, the first couple of weeks were a mix of various sleeping positions. The first few days he was mainly sleeping at night on my chest while I was propped up with pillows (I was in the middle of our king bed). I didn’t want to put him down and he seemed so comforted and calm sleeping on me. Then he began sleeping on the bed between Josh and me. We gave him a good amount of space to himself and were more of a barrier between him and the end of the bed. He also had no pillows or blankets near him. This set up made it really easy for me to nurse him at night. In the beginning when he woke to eat I would wake up and place him on a nursing pillow. After he and I were more confortable I would just roll over and nurse him on my side so neither of us really had to move much and we could easily roll back over and fall back asleep after. I really think this set-up is what kept our entire family well rested! Most nights Maddox never really “woke up” to eat. I could feel him starting to stir and as long as I got to him quickly I could nurse him back to sleep before he made a sound or opened his eyes. At times it was more comfort nursing than actual hunger. As time went on there were even nights I would wake up and find him nursing without me even realizing it. He just found his way himself. This system went on pretty consistently for about 6 months and slowly tapered off. Since neither of us were fully waking up for his feedings I never felt tired in the morning. And by age 1 he rarely woke at night to nurse at all.
During the first few weeks or so Josh and I were super cautious about our co-sleeping. No pillows or blankets near Maddox. If Josh or I was super tired we slept on the opposite side of the bed and put pillows up so we wouldn’t roll near Maddox. We also used Maddox’s bouncy seat a few times as well. We set the raised, soft lounging seat on the bed in between us and buckled him in (I also did this a few times when I needed a nap).
I always knew I would co-sleep. My mom co-slept with us and it just seemed like the right thing for me. Josh and I talked a lot about co-sleeping before Maddox was born and I think he had the attitude of “I trust you and lets see how it goes.” We knew we didn’t want him to be far from us, but we debated whether he would be in bed or in a cradle near our bed. We set up a crib in his room, a cradle beside our bed, and pack-n-play in the living room because we were new parents and really had no idea how any of this was going to go. We just knew we wanted to follow our instincts as parents and Maddox’s natural instincts as a baby. And that’s exactly what worked for us. “Crying it out” or “sleep training” was never an option for us (I’ll post later about our reasons why). We loved co-sleeping and have continued to co-sleep with Maddox. We always wanted Maddox close to us and he seemed equally as comforted in knowing we were nearby. No sleepless nights, no running to his room to get him, no fighting over who’s turn it was to get him, and most importantly no screaming and/or crying baby. I highly recommend trying things until you figure out what works best for you and your family. We had no set expectations or “goals,” except for all of us to get some sleep! This is what worked and continues to work for our family. However, I know that no two babies are alike so let’s see what works with Marlow.