All posts by mommajenniy

Tandem Breastfeeding: An Unexpected Journey

I didn’t set out to tandem breastfeed. I had thought about it, but it wasn’t something that I had absolutely decided to do.

The journey starts with the birth of my first child, a sweet baby girl. Breastfeeding was difficult. But it was something that I was determined to do. I fought through the pain, the sleepless nights, and through the constant emotional ups and downs. She was a slow weight gainer, but I was determined to breastfeed her. We had to go through frequent weight checks, each one leaving me feeling like a failure. The nurses questioned me about how often she was breastfeeding, what her diapers were like, etc. She, we, didn’t fit into the “normal” box. I breastfed her on demand, which meant that sometimes she ate every hour, sometimes every couple of hours. But, the nurses never liked that answer. They made me feel like a horrible mom that couldn’t provide for her child. But, my daughter was happy, healthy, and meeting her milestones (often early), so I did my best to shake off what they said.

Eventually, through the stories of some friends, I discovered that my daughter had an upper lip tie and posterior tongue tie. Those contributed to her slow weight gain and her reflux. They also explained why breastfeeding was so painful. We saw a pediatric dentist (after being dismissed by a pediatrician) and got her ties revised. It definitely helped, my pain went away, but what I now know is that she needed extra help to relieve the tension in her body that was caused by the ties. She also could have benefited from some suck training. But alas, nothing I can do about that now. Even though breastfeeding was going better, she was still a slow weight gainer. At 4 months old she had completely dropped off the charts. We started brown rice cereal at the advice of her pediatrician. And so began my love hate relationship with pumping. I diligently pumped every day so that I could mix the cereal with breastmilk. Slowly, she started to gain at a “normal” rate. By the time she was 6 months old we no longer had to do weight checks. Oh, what a relief that was!

Because of the journey with my daughter, breastfeeding became something very emotional for me. I worked so hard at it. I had made small goals along the way. First I just wanted to make it to 6 months. Then I wanted to make it to a year. By the time she was 12 months old, neither of us was ready to stop our breastfeeding relationship. The benefits don’t magically disappear. So, I decided that I would let her decide when she was ready to wean (with the caveat that if I wasn’t pregnant by the time she was 18 months old, then I would start the weaning process).

And then I got pregnant when she was 15 months old. That’s when the idea of tandem breastfeeding first intrigued me. I was still going by the decision to let her wean when she wants. I figured if we made it through the whole pregnancy, cool, if not, cool.

Breastfeeding while pregnant was not always easy. It was painful at times and just plain uncomfortable. But, I knew that the discomfort wouldn’t last forever. I took it one step at a time. When she was 18 months old, I couldn’t handle the constant breastfeeding anymore. So, I began to set boundaries. This blog was particularly helpful and encouraging to me. We slowly cut down on the number of times she was breastfeeding. At one point my milk dried up completely and she dry nursed. I found another blog that also was encouraging to me. I’ll be honest. So many times I wanted to give up, and almost did. But my daughter wasn’t ready, and I guess neither was I.

Towards the end of my pregnancy she was down to about once or twice a week, until the last couple weeks when her frequency slowly increased. Things were not uncomfortable at this point and she was happy to be getting colostrum.

After her brother was born, I decided to give the tandem breastfeeding a go. It’s been 16 days now. Is it easy? Nope. Am I touched out at the end of the day? Yep. Is it hard to set boundaries with the toddler? Absolutely. Do I regret our journey? Never.

Some days are easier than others. Today the toddler was a hot mess crying for “Boobie” constantly when her brother ate. It broke my heart that I couldn’t give her everything she wanted when she wanted it. But, I also know that learning boundaries is good for her. We’re still figuring this whole thing out. The sweet moments when she holds her brother’s hand as they breastfeed or when they both fall asleep on the boob, make it all worth it. I don’t know how long this journey will continue, and that’s okay, I don’t have to know. We’re taking things one day at a time.

1st kid vs. 2nd kid

​1st: every comment someone makes you take personally 

2nd: you don’t care what people say

1st: watch them at all times to make sure they’re breathing
2nd: leave them sleeping peacefully in the other room

1st: time going out so you minimize possibility of breastfeeding in public
2nd: breastfeed anywhere without worrying what others think

1st: overstocked diaper bag
2nd: yah, I think I have enough diapers

1st: hold the baby all the time
2nd: put the baby down, let others hold him
(This one has a bit to do with their personalities though)

1st: carefully swaddle baby and put to sleep in the rock n play, pack n play, bassinet, etc.
2nd: forget swaddling and bedshare from day one

1st: worry about every cry
2nd: he’ll be okay, oh he needs to be burped

1st: get emotionally hung up on how baby is developing, growing, etc.
2nd: trust instincts, advocate better, less stressed

1st: record every pee, poop, and feeding
2nd: who has time for that?

1st: I’ll go pee, eat, etc. later
2nd: multi-task and/or be okay with baby crying for a minute while you take care of your needs

1st: take 5 million pictures, record every milestone, new place visited, etc.
2nd: take half as many pictures, remember later that it was the first time doing something

1st: take on full responsibility for caring for the child
2nd: let others help

1st: worry about every noise, rash, etc.
2nd: it’s all normal

1st: stress about jaundice levels
2nd: know that everything will be okay even if phototherapy is needed

1st: spend hours stuck on the couch with a breastfeeding/sleeping baby
2nd: walk around while breastfeeding…yay for multi-tasking

1st: make sure everyone washes their hands before holding/touching baby
2nd: okay, you look clean enough and like you aren’t sick

Everett’s Birth Story

​Oh my sweet Everett, you are more than I could have ever hoped or dreamed for. Your journey into this world is not what I would have chosen, but it was perfect. 
Your labor and birth was so different, yet similar to your sister’s. She came 2 days early, and you made us wait until almost 42 weeks. But you came just when you were supposed to. You needed more time to grow and plump up.

So let’s get to the details of your story.

I went to the hospital on Friday, July 1st to start the induction process. Even though I had been having contractions for 3.5 weeks, I was only 2cm dilated and you hadn’t made your way down yet. So, we needed help to get labor started (the doctor didn’t want you to stay in past 42 weeks). Even though induction is not what I wanted, I had peace about it. I was ready to meet my baby boy!

We checked into the hospital around 4pm and were greeted by a familiar face. Our nurse Misha had taken care of us before when I thought I was in labor a couple weeks prior. She took good care of us. I had a cooks catheter placed at 7 something. This device helps dilate the cervix and can start labor. Around 3 hours later it fell out. I had some mild contractions, but things still weren’t starting. The midwife let us get some rest overnight and wait until the morning for the next steps. By Saturday morning things still hadn’t started yet. I was dilated to a 3 which got stretched to a 4. We waited a little bit longer to see if things would happen, but they didn’t. So, we started pitocin and the first round of penicillin (thanks group b strep) around 9:40. That got the party started finally.

Contractions were consistent, but still not strong enough. Each hour the dosage of pitocin got upped by 1 until we were at a 5. It was my goal and desire to be able to get off the pitocin before birth actually happened.

I have to pause here to say that during this whole process, I felt very empowered, encouraged, and respected. All of the midwives were supportive of my desire to have as few interventions and drugs as possible. Though Chrysantha’s birth was much smoother, I didn’t always feel like everyone was on board with the plan and I had a hard time speaking up for myself. This time I made myself heard and was able to have good discussions about each step of the process.

Back to the story. Contractions started picking up and getting consistent in the afternoon. The pitocin was working to dilate my cervix. We were able to turn down the pitocin, which I was very thankful for. I was definitely nervous about having pitocin. I had heard from several people that it made contractions really intense and the natural rise and fall and rests don’t necessarily happen. But my body was kind and though the contractions were more intense, they still had a very nice pattern that made them bearable. Contractions were happening consistently and building, I was dilating more and we were able to turn off the pitocin completely. I was so relieved! Things kept happening, but progress was slow. Everyone was fine with taking things a step at a time. I was thankful for the opportunity to let my body do what I knew it was capable of on its own.

I got to labor in lots of different positions. With Chrysantha I was a lot more tense at times and didn’t want to change things in case they didn’t work. It was good to try a variety of things.

A few things came up. When I was getting my last dose of penicillin, my arm started hurting really badly. Dealing with that in the middle of intense contractions was NOT fun. After my nurses tried to fix things, I ended up just having them take it out. It was sooo much better to labor untethered. I had more freedom to move around and things were finally going how I hoped they would.

Everett’s water broke a little after midnight on Sunday July 3rd. We thought that would move things along. Well, Mr. Ev had different plans. He moved back up the birth canal and managed to keep some of the bag intact in front of him. 

Unfortunately my contractions started slowing down. The monitor wasn’t very good at picking them up anyways. But because things slowed down we had to discuss our next options. I was thankful for the rest I was getting in between contractions, but I knew that things couldn’t go on forever. So, we agreed for the midwife to break the bag of waters that was left. Again, we hoped that this would get things moving along. It helped the contractions pick up, but they were too far apart. They were super intense though and I did my best to gently push Ev down during the contractions, but he just wasn’t budging.

Finally it’s around 3 am, my contractions are slowing and the OB on duty is pressuring my midwife to move things along. She comes to talk to me and we agree to having her place an internal contraction monitor and to start me back on pitocin. The thought of being hooked up to the IV again and having that potential pain was not sitting well with me. When my midwife was inserting the internal monitor I started getting painful contractions. So, we abandoned the plan and she helped me push Ev out. It was just the jumpstart we needed! It took 4 painfully long minutes of pushing to get Ev to come out. He was a lot harder to get out than Chrysantha was. Once her head was showing it took less than a minute. With him, these 4 minutes, though not long in actuality, felt like they were forever. I was thankful to have a mirror to see the progress. Seeing his cute little hair gave me the energy and strength I needed to fight through the pain and push him out.

After he arrived we figured out why things had been more difficult. He came out with one of his arms touching the opposite shoulder and the umbilical cord loosely wrapped around his belly. He needed the extra help to move down and get out.

Meeting him was definitely worth all of the waiting and the pain. The nurse kept remarking how he didn’t have any of the signs of a past due baby. The amniotic fluid was clear, he wasn’t peeling, he wasn’t big, etc. She said he looked like a 38 week gestation baby. All of those things just reinforced my conviction to wait for him to be born. I’m glad we didn’t force him out sooner, he clearly wasn’t ready. He came at just the perfect time. He was brave and strong in his entrance and he brought peace. I love my sweet Everett Ninghai and I am so thankful for him! I learned a lot through his birthing process. And sweet boy that he is pooped on me right after birth!

Waiting 

​Oh, how I have been waiting. That’s what happens at the end of pregnancy. I was convinced that Everett would come early. His big sister was 2 days early, and what everyone says is that the 2nd baby comes sooner than the first. Of course that isn’t true for everyone, but I thought it would be true for me. So, when the time that I thought he would have/should have been born by, I got a little discouraged. What is this kid waiting for? Doesn’t he know we want to meet him? 

When 40 weeks came and passed, I thought, well, at least I know what it’s like to be 40 weeks pregnant now. I didn’t get to experience that before. When 41 weeks came yesterday, I tried to have the same attitude. It is kinda neat to experience something that I haven’t before. And I have an ability to relate to others that have been or will be in this position.

The truth is that pregnancy, especially the end, is an emotional roller-coaster. So many ups and downs. I’m okay one minute and a complete wreck the next. I’ve had to alter my expectations. I’ve been having contractions for 3 weeks now, like real, painful, make you stop what you’re doing, kind of contractions. Every time they happen for a bit, I think, maybe this is it. But alas, they fizzle out eventually.

The thing is that this sweet baby boy of mine has been making me wait since the very beginning. We wanted to get pregnant for a while, but weren’t sure if it was ever going to happen. We waited and hoped for another baby. When it finally did happen, we were so excited!

And oh, how many lessons this boy has taught me before he has even been born. Lessons about waiting, trusting, hoping, enjoying the moment, appreciating my body, staying healthy, letting go, surrendering my expectations.

The one thing I can be pretty certain of at this point is that my sweet Ev will join our family sometime this week. That’s really exciting! In the meantime, I’m trying to be present in the moment, to soak up the time that I have with Chrysantha and my hubby. Each day I’ve gotten new opportunities to love on her, watch her grow and develop (and oh how much she has been changing lately). So, in the midst of waiting, I’m trusting in God’s perfect plan and enjoying the moments I get with my family. This may not have been what I would have chosen, but I am thankful for the things I’ve been able to do and be a part of in this time of waiting.

How My Son Taught Me to Love My Body

It’s interesting that now, at 34 weeks pregnant with my son, is when I finally love and appreciate my body. All kinds of changes happen during pregnancy, and women can often find the changes hard to deal with. I actually wasn’t that excited about getting pregnant when my body was not yet where I hoped it would be.

After having my daughter, I lost a bunch of weight right away, but then over the next 6 months I slowly gained back all the weight plus an additional 3 pounds. Breastfeeding did not help me lose weight. I tried eating more food, then eating less food, but neither worked. Exercise wasn’t really helping either. Finally after introducing protein shakes into my diet, I was able to lose weight. Over the next 9 months, the pounds slowly melted off. The inches decreased significantly as I gained lean muscle.

I was still about 20 pounds heavier than when I got pregnant with Chrysantha, even though size wise I was the same. I was definitely leaner and more fit. But, it was still hard for me to see the higher number on the scale, especially knowing that it would only increase as my pregnancy progressed.

So, a little background to put things in perspective. I’ve been overweight basically my whole life. I was incessantly teased all through elementary and middle school. In 5th grade I weighed 200 pounds. I tried many diets growing up, but none of them worked. Any time I lost weight it wasn’t too long before I gained it back and then some. I was healthy, except for my weight.

Somewhere towards the end of high school and beginning of college I reached my highest weight. I did not like the number on the scale and started making changes. I slowly lost some weight thanks to exercise and learning how to eat healthier.

I have always been very aware of my body and how big I was compared to others. I wasn’t happy. I was always self-conscious. I realize in retrospect that I used my weight as a shield. My weight was like armor protecting me from hurt and harm, or at least that’s what I thought. It was easy to convince myself that others didn’t like me because of my weight. Certainly that was why no decent guy was ever interested in me. All my problems were because of my weight.

Eventually I lost about 100 pounds. I didn’t and couldn’t lose any more. I slowly began to like more of my body (prior to that, I only liked my eyes). Guys started to take interest in me. I had my first boyfriend. I settled because I didn’t value myself enough. I thought he was the best I was going to get. Oh, how very wrong I was!

Having a good man love me for me and love my body definitely helped improve my self-esteem. But, that only carried me so far. Deep down, I still didn’t like the way I looked. I was still self-conscious. Even though he showered me with compliments and showed me through actions how desirable I was, I didn’t really believe it. I still didn’t value myself enough or think that I deserved such love and attention.

So, fast forward to now. Here I am 34 weeks pregnant. I now weigh 1 pound more than I did after I lost those 100 pounds. But, that doesn’t bother me. The scale does not define me. I am healthier and more fit than I have ever been. I have more muscle and less fat than I did before, not to mention the fact that I’m growing a sweet little boy.

I didn’t expect to love my changing pregnant body. I certainly didn’t love it and appreciate it as much with my daughter. But my precious son is showing me my value and worth in giving him life. I’m so glad I didn’t let my fears hold me back from getting pregnant. I had a choice to make and I knew that I would get pregnant. I hesitated momentarily, thoughts of not being where I wanted flashing through my mind. But choosing to get pregnant again, even though it was scary, was the best decision. I am so incredibly thankful for this journey that I have been on. I’m thankful that God is renewing my mind and transforming my thoughts about myself into His thoughts about me. I’m thankful for the opportunity I have to carry and bring forth life into this world. My son isn’t even born yet and he has taught me so much.

It is my desire for each person, women especially, to see and know their worth. Society puts so much pressure on our appearance. We put so much pressure on our appearance. We don’t celebrate ourselves enough. We don’t marvel enough at all that our bodies have done and been through. My journey, your journey, is not over. We are strong. We are capable. We are valued. We are loved. We matter.

Mothering with Intention

Having Chrysantha chase me around the kitchen island, coffee dates, lounging on the couch, her covering up with my blanket, watching her excitement with all the Christmas lights and decorations, these are a few of my favorite recent memories.

I am so excited to be pregnant with another baby. I know that Chrysantha is going to be a great big sister. She is so loving and caring. She likes taking care of others. I’m excited to watch her grow in her new role. But until that time comes, I am purposing to enjoy the moments we have with just the two of us. I want to make the most of the time we have before our new baby comes. I want to be intentional about making memories and pouring love into Chrysantha. I want to continue to build her foundation of love. I am so thankful that I get to be her Momma. She fills my heart with joy everyday. Her sweet kisses and her heart melting smile make the rough times much better. She loves me so well. I am trying to love her better.

Being pregnant and mothering a toddler is not easy. I’m a lot more tired than I was the first time. But, I do need to be mindful of how that is affecting me. Of course I need to have grace with myself. I am certainly not perfect. When I find myself getting frustrated, I try to stop and refocus myself. God is certainly my strength during this time.

I am purposing to give Chrysantha opportunities to learn and grow. Sometimes it would be soooo much easier to just keep her from new things. But, I am raising her to be independent. This means that shopping trips take 20 times longer. I let her walk around and give her opportunities to learn how to listen and follow directions. I give her the freedom to explore and look around. I constantly have to repeat myself, but she is learning. She knows how to come back to me now. She knows how to stay next to the car when I’m putting something away.

I’m certainly not saying that my way of doing things is the right way, but it’s working for us. It’s exhausting, but I’m seeing the fruits of my labors. I hope that by teaching her these things now, we will have a much smoother time when didimeimei (younger sibling) comes.

A Day to Never Forget

I remember exactly where I was 14 years ago. I was on my way to school, running late as usual, when I heard something on the radio. It didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t understand what I was hearing. When I got to my government class that morning, the teacher had already turned on the TV. We all sat and watched in silence and disbelief as we saw the towers fall. How could this happen? Especially, here, in America? We’re supposed to be safe, immune from the chaos in the rest of the world. Wars and tragedies like this happen in other lands, but never on our land, in our neighborhoods.

September 11th was a day that woke us up. It changed us as a nation forever. My generation that had only really known peace, now knew what it meant to experience tragedy on a grand scale. A little bit of my innocence and carefreeness was lost that day. We were finally faced with the reality that no one is safe. We are not untouchable, invincible, immune to the evil in the world.

Something great also happened that day. We were bonded together. We all experienced loss. Something that was meant to destroy us made us stronger. Many heroes arose that day. Passengers, First Responders, common citizens.

Today I remember all those who lost their lives that day, the families that were changed forever. I remember those who have sacrificed to save others, those who bravely served our country.

Let us always remember!