Wednesday, January 29, 2014

6 Months of Breastfeeding

Note: This post is about breastfeeding. That means that I will be talking about my breasts. If I work with you or you would otherwise be uncomfortable thinking about my boobs, please leave and come back another day. My 6 month Baby E update should be up in a couple of days.

This post has been rolling around in my head for a while. Partly because I want to document my breastfeeding journey before I forget what it was all about and partly because I want to add to the library of breastfeeding posts out on the Internet. I read a ton about breastfeeding before Baby E was born and during the early weeks. That community of mothers sharing their experiences, both the good and the bad, helped me more than I can really verbalize.

As I mentioned, Baby E's delivery did not go well and because of that Baby E and I were apart for much longer than I wanted after delivery. It was probably about a half hour or so, but I started skin to skin with Baby E and nursing her as soon as I was allowed. That first attempt was much harder than I had ever anticipated for something that everyone says is so natural. I think part of it was that we were both struggling from some of the challenges of the birth itself.

We spent lots of time like this.
Baby E was getting something from me, but her latch on one side was not great and she really struggled to latch on the other side at all. Since Baby E was born in the late afternoon we were not able to see a lactation consultant until almost 18 hours after she was born. This was something I had not anticipated. The hospital told me that they had lactation consultants always available, so I didn't have a backup plan on this. It would have been nice to see someone a little sooner.

When I got to see the lactation consultant, she gave us some tips to try and help, but it really was a struggle. I also had limited mobility and was in a lot of pain, neither of which helped with the nursing situation. Even though is was really hard, nursing was something that was very important to me and I was determined to make it work.

On our second day after delivery, the lactation consultant brought in a pump to help make sure that my milk would come in and that we could get the colostrum for Baby E. I would pump after she ate and we used a syringe to feed the colostrum to Baby E. That was not easy and I think she ended up wearing more than she ate. The lactation consultant also suggested that a nipple shield may help, but the hospital did not have any, so that would have to wait until I was discharged.

The third night with Baby E was pretty rough. By that point my right nipple was incredibly sore and she was having an even harder time latching on the left. This was also the night that she wanted to be held and nurse constantly. That evening she managed to nurse so much that the skin on her little cheeks rubbed off. We joke that she nursed her face off that night, and my nipples pretty much matched.

It took what seemed like forever for my milk to come in. In reality it came in between days 4 and 5. This was the about the same time I was released from the hospital. I started pumping at least once a day as soon as I came home. One of my biggest fears was that I wouldn't be able to make enough milk for Baby E.

The first 2 weeks of breastfeeding were really really hard. Baby E wanted to nurse constantly and I was constantly worried she wasn't getting enough to eat. During this time I was on an emotional roller coaster. I think that was as much about the post postpartum hormones as it was about nursing. Her behavior was completely normal, but it is hard to think that she was getting enough when she wanted to eat for 45 minutes to an hour every hour or so.

Those first few weeks were also really messy. My boobs would leak as they figured out how much milk to make. Baby E also needed to use a nipple shield to latch. There was always a little milk in the shield and it was pretty much impossible switch sides with both Baby E and I being covered in milk. She ate pretty frequently, so we spent a lot of time covered in milk.

Weeks 2 to 4 got a little easier. We got better at using the shield without making a complete mess. We also started to go out of the house from time to time. At first we would try and go out in between feedings or we would go out to baby stores. They always have a comfortable place to sit and nurse. During this time Baby E continued to want to eat frequently and would often spend 45 minutes or longer eating. During those early weeks there were times I spent over 6 hours of a day feeding Baby E (we tracked everything from her early days in the Baby Connect ap). While I wouldn't change it for the world, this was really hard. I am not used to sitting in one place for that long and we had a move looming.

A post nursing snooze
Over the next couple of weeks things continued to get easier. While Baby E still needed the nipple shield and took a while to eat, she began to go a little longer between feedings. It is amazing the difference that having an additional 30 minutes can give you. I also got better at feeding her in public without making a complete mess. One thing that helped me was giving up the nursing cover. She hated it and it was one more thing to manage. Yeah, I am a whip it out kind of mom...something I never thought I would say.

At about 8 weeks something just clicked. Baby E still wanted to feed a lot, but all of a sudden she was able to latch without the nipple shield. This was particularly helpful because it was the week we moved. Not needing any additional accessories made feeding her on the go much easier and since I spent a lot of time going between the two houses that week I was very thankful.

Soon after she began latching without a nipple shield, I figured out how to feed her in the Ergo carrier. This has been particularly helpful in our trips to Disney, but sometimes it even makes grocery shopping easier.

I went back to work when Baby E was about 11.5 weeks. She gets bottles of breast milk while I am away. Figuring out how much to send with her was a bit of a challenge, but after a few weeks it seemed to work out. I am also lucky to have a position that is flexible enough to allow me to go and feed her during my lunch break on most days. While it has been great, I need to stop this soon because I need the time to work.

Pumping has been a mixed bag. As a whole I don't pump enough for Baby E while I am at work. She started sleeping through the night pretty early on and this meant I would wake up about 2 a.m. feeling full. I started pumping then to protect my milk supply and make myself more comfortable, but once I went back to work, I realized I needed that milk to have enough for her daycare bottles. Now I set my alarm for about 1:30 a.m. so I can get up and pump. Getting up sucks and I look forward to someday getting more than 5 hours of sleep at a time, but for right now it works. I would do just about anything to make sure she gets the breast milk she needs.

I have also had several pump problems. My pump came through my insurance, so the options I had to choose from were a single hand pump or a double electric. Obviously, I chose the double electric. I was excited when my pump showed up and it was the Medela Freestyle (the things you get excited about when you have a kid). This is their newest, lightest and most expensive pump. Unfortunately, I have had the motor on the pump go out twice in the past 6 months. Medela has great customer service, and  they always replaced it in a day. I also borrowed a friend's pump to hold me over, but being without a pump about a week after I went back to work was not fun.

For us breastfeeding has worked well. It was not always easy, but it has been worth it. Now that Baby E is getting a little older, more and more people are asking me how long I plan on breastfeeding. The easy answer is a year, because that is what is recommended by the CDC. In reality, I don't know what we are going to do. Baby E will drive that decision. For now I am just going to enjoy the ride.

What was your breastfeeding experience? Any tips for pumping more during the daytime hours?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Avalon Park 10K Race Recap

One of my 2014 goals is to run at least one race each month. There are several months were the race choice is easy, but I knew that there would be a few months when the options would not be great. January was one of those months. I found a couple of 5ks that looked fun, but I was really hoping for something a little longer, but not too long, so when I found out about the Avalon Park 10k, it sounded perfect. It was close to home and fit well in my training plan.

My husband ran this one with me so Saturday morning, we got up about 5. Got dressed, packed and ready, then got Baby E up and fed. We were out the door a little before 6:30 to drop Baby E off at my sister-in-law's house. She is super nice and watched the baby for us. It is amazing how much more complicated race logistics have become, but it is so worth it.

Packet pick up started at 7 and we were there shortly after. The crowd was slim, but I figured that was because it was pretty chilly Saturday morning and people didn't want to wait in the cold. After getting our packets, we went back and sat in the car to stay warm. The race didn't start until 8:15, so we made a quick potty run and I pumped. 

Pre-race pic
We walked up to the start a little after 8. I knew it wouldn't be a large race, but there was a 5k, a 10k, a half marathon and a duathlon, so there had to be a few hundred people…right? Yeah, not so much. I don't think there were 50 people total.

Yup, that was pretty much everyone who ran the 10k.
After some quick announcements, we were off. The course wound through a variety of neighborhoods. It was an open course and there were lots of turns. In all honesty, the course wasn't much more interesting than my normal run. Most of the turns were well marked, but a missing arrow at about mile 2.5 cost me some time. 

The first 3 miles felt great and I kept about a 12 minute mile pace. I know that is not very fast, but for me it is a good pace. About 3.5 miles in I got a cramp in my right side. I cramp pretty rarely, so it surprised me. I think the cold may have had something to do with it. By mile 5 my lungs were burning from the cold and I was starting to have some trouble breathing. It was probably about 46 degrees at this point, so it wasn't unexpected. I think I am the only person in the world that has trouble running in the cold.

When I hit 6.2 miles on my Garmin and the finish was nowhere in sight I mentally checked out a bit and didn't finish the race as strong as I would have liked. I am pretty sure the course was off by a good amount. My Garmin put it at 6.46 miles. There is normally some variation between the Garmin and the course, but I think I have run half marathons with less difference.

My official finish time was 1:23. I had hoped to get a good baseline 10k time from this race, but I am not confident enough in the distance to use it for comparison. Once we hit the finish line, we grabbed a water, granola bar and banana and headed out.

Overall, I am happy I ran the race. That said, I wouldn't run it again or recommend it. I could have stayed home and accomplished the same thing running around my neighborhood. It does make for a good story and I don't think I will be fourth in my age group again any time soon. You run, you learn.

Next up are the Lady Track Shack 5k and the Best Damn Race Orlando half marathon.

What is the smallest race you have ever run? Any must do races in Orlando?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

5 Months with Baby E

So this post should probably be 5.5 months with Baby E, but that is life for me right now. The last month has been filled with holiday adventures and lots of family time. Both my husband and I were lucky enough to have Christmas week off. It was pretty amazing. 

I don't know exactly how big Baby E is, but she is getting too big for her 6 month clothes. Luckily we got a lot of bigger clothes for Christmas. It really is amazing how fast she is growing. 

Baby E has developed a ton this month. It seems like most of it happened almost overnight. She has gone from not being able to sit up by herself to being able to sit and play for a while without falling over. Now that she can sit, she doesn't really like to play laying down.
  All of the drooling and chewing that Baby E has been doing the past month or so is beginning to pay off too. On New Year's Day we found Baby E's first tooth is coming through. So far, she is taking taking teething in stride. Her feet happen to be one of her favorite things to chew on. It is pretty funny to watch.

Mmmmm..tasty toes

Fingers work too

I do think that in learning to sit up, Baby E forgot how to roll over. It has been a while since she has rolled over. She still doesn't love tummy time and since that is where you end up when you roll over doesn't work as a great incentive. Oh well. I am sure she will figure it out soon enough.

Sitting so well
Sleep the past month has been an adventure. Baby E had some sleep regression. We also tried to break the swaddle and have her start sleeping in the crib. The first night of breaking the swaddle went pretty well, but after that it was downhill. After about a week of rough nights we gave up and went back to the swaddle and rock and play. We may need to find a toddler swaddle and rock and play someday, but she sleeps well and that is important for the whole family.

Baby E is still getting just breast milk, but we are getting ready to start solids. We are planning on starting somewhere around 6 months. Baby E is starting to be interested in food and we are sitting her with us when we eat dinner. We also got some sippy cups for her to start playing with as well.

So many chins!
My work schedule was crazy for most of the last month and that made me a little stressed at points. I have now had a week to recharge my batteries and I am excited for 2014. I know that being a working mother will never be easy, but each month I seem to get a little better at it.

I am excited to see how Baby E grows over the next year.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 Goals

To say that 2013 was a year of change would be an understatement. The year was pretty much consumed by all things baby since I was pregnant for the first half of the year and trying to figure out how to be a mother the second half. This meant that I was in survival mode with regard to pretty much everything else in my life. I wouldn't change 2013 for the world, but 2014 needs to be about growth, both personally and professionally, and not just getting by.

So worth it
Running & Fitness

My mileage for 2013 was very low because I didn't run for about 7 months. Even though I was active, I  feel like I lost a lot of strength and fitness through the whole pregnancy and delivery process. Recovery from delivery was much harder than I anticipated. During 2014 I want to regain some of the fitness and endurance I lost.

As far as running goes, my goal is to run at least one race a month. The distances will vary, but this will give me an opportunity to work on both my speed and endurance. I am still working out the details on the exact races, but my first post baby half marathon will be the Orlando Best Dam race.

From an overall fitness perspective I want to regain the strength I lost and more. To say that my core needs some work would be an understatement, so that is going to be the focus for the first few months of the year. My goal is to get at least one strength session in a week. Hopefully I can increase this over the course of the year.

Mind & Spirit

There are two big things that I would like to work on in this area over the course of the year. The first is spending more time in the present. By nature, I am a planner but sometimes I find myself thinking so much about what is upcoming that I forget to take in what is going on at that moment. I have been better about this since Baby E was born, but it is something I need to continue to work on.

I also need to work on building back my confidence in myself. My body has failed me several times and in a variety of ways the past couple of years and that has shaken my self confidence. This has lead to more frequent negative self talk and I know it needs to stop. Both for myself and because someone's little ears are going to pick up on it sooner than I realize. More than anything, I want to set a good example for Baby E.


In 2013, I officially became all but dissertation with regard to my PhD. That was the only real professional goal I accomplished. This year I would like to start to chip away at my dissertation. I am still not 100% sure I am going to finish my program, but I am going to start the process and go from there.

I am not going to bore you with all the details of other professional goals, but it is a place I am really going to focus this year. There are so many things I love about where I work and what I do that it is hard not to be inspired to continue to grow as a professional.


Back in September I went to FL Blog Con and It was an amazing experience. There were so many really bright bloggers and I learned a ton. Much of what I heard has been churning around in my head since then, but that is as far as it has gotten. I would like to implement some of the things I learned this year.

This is the place where my goals are probably the fuzziest. Two big things I would like to do are a blog redesign and posting on a more regular bias. That said, the blog is really just a hobby so we will see how much time I have.

I know that 2014 will continue to be an adventure. Baby E is growing and changing at an amazing rate. More than anything else, I want to try and soak it in as much as possible. What are your goals for 2014?