Nursing Update

It’s about to get real here folks but if you don’t care about breastfeeding just stop reading and come back for the next post.

Three months in and we are still breastfeeding exclusively. I’ve been off dairy for about 6 weeks now.  It seemed to help with decreasing her spitting up after a couple weeks.  However she has still been having abnormal looking diapers. I said its gonna get real, so I will spell it out….orange, mucousy diarrhea everyday! So we took a diaper in to be tested for a food intolerance and it was positive for microscopic blood.  It is an easy test that the pediatrician can do.  The presence of blood means that there is something in my milk that IJ can’t break down and is causing irritation in her intestines.  This is most commonly the milk and/or soy protein.  Since the blood is present despite dairy being out of our systems by now means that the next step is to cut out soy, unless we want to switch to a special formula. Today was my first soy free day. My breastfeeding goal is at least 6 months so I’m not ready to give up yet.

We went through our pantry items to find soy and/or dairy in beef broth, bread crumbs, my beloved Australian style licorice, a box of cake mix, crackers, breads, graham crackers, canned soups, etc. My mayo is also off limits as well as the expensive tub of dairy free margarine I just purchased–both things are made with soybean oil. I will have to work hard to make sure that I’m still eating nutritiously. I also have to find new prenatals with no soy.

I’ve also become concerned about a possible lip tie and tongue tie affecting breastfeeding. For a month or so now I’ve been struggling with recurring painful knots on my left side (either from swelling or plugged ducts, not sure exactly). They rarely go away. It just goes from hurting more to hurting less. IJ also gets frustrated and starts kicking and bucking after the initial letdown. I try to help her by massaging to move the milk down faster but for whatever reason this will often cause her to stop sucking. I liken this to the people who stop walking when they step onto a moving walkway, like at the airport. I can hand express and see that I still have milk but I can only watch her struggle so long before transferring her to the other side. Even on the right, my better producer and even faster letdown, she gets frustrated after a while. So when it gets bad I have to apply heat, then massage (ouch!) while pumping. And it takes forever to do. It would be a lot easier if IJ could fully drain my breasts herself. Given these issues plus noticing that my nipples are coming out angled like a new tube of lipstick despite the latch appearing okay and her still requiring half hour nursing sessions and lots of coaxing to stay awake got me to wondering about a tongue tie.

Our pediatrician looked in her mouth while we were there to get a diaper tested and she said that the tongue looked tight and she recommended seeing an ENT for evaluation. I also talked to a lactation consultant on the phone and she recommended a different nursing support group because she said that the person who runs it had a lot of experience with TT/LT. We went to the group last night and learned a lot. Two LCs looked in her mouth. As one walked up while the other stretched open IJ’s top lip, she said “Well that’s quite a lip tie.” I learned that is one of the first things they look for because the two almost always go hand in hand. They also looked to see how she can move her tongue in every direction. When moving laterally her tongue angled toward each side rather than remaining flat. She was able to stick her tongue out just enough to touch her bottom lip with her mouth open but could not stick it out past her lips with her mouth open.  Those things are associated with tongue ties. The LCs also pressed on either side of the frenulum and said in their opinion IJ does have a posterior tie, though they don’t have the qualifications to actually make diagnoses. They recommended this dentist who has received special training on LT/TT, who was also recommended by several moms in my facebook mom group. 

So it seems like she most likely has this and now it’s just as matter of determining the severity and whether it would benefit her to correct it. It can have long term effects on speech articulation and eating solids and even kissing. But doing the procedure will mean relearning how to nurse, doing daily stretches which may hurt, and hoping it doesn’t heal itself closed again. We have an appointment with the dentist in a week and a half so we will have to see. In the meantime, I feel proud of IJ and me for sticking it out so far through latch issues, jaundice, reflux, food sensitivities/restrictions, overactive letdown, and probably lip and tongue ties. We are so lucky our baby is still gaining and growing well!


Unsolicited Advice Part 2

A while ago, when I wrote a post about what I learned about delivery and recovery, I promised readers another post on what I have learned as a new mom.  Well I’ve been procrastinating on writing this ever since. I know enough  to know that I have very little wisdom to share.  Less than 3 months in to our first and only kid is not a lot of experience–I realize. And every child is different so just because something works for us doesn’t mean it will work for you and your kid. (If I say “babies” in this post, remember I’m crazy and am basing my opinion on just this one baby I know.) Ultimately though, I am a woman of my word. And I figure it will be funny for me to read this one day and remember how much I thought I knew (but didn’t).  So here you have it, as promised, my lessons learned on parenting from 12 weeks in…

First, don’t listen to the internet (or something in a book) over what your own gut is telling you to do. I don’t think I trusted myself to know anything but I should have given myself just a little credit. Of course, that being said, I just found this great website I wish I’d known about earlier called The timelines section is awesome. The breastfeeding and sleeping timelines have been right on. And if you are nursing, is the Web authority on that.

Secondly, I regret every dish I ever did in the first month. IJ changed sooo much in just one month. And of course she needed to eat so frequently and for so long at that time. I should have done nothing else but feed her, take care of her, stare at her, and take care of myself. Taking care of myself is still something I’m not good at doing. People say that you should do one thing just for yourself everyday, even if it’s just taking a walk, getting coffee, or taking a shower. That seems like great advice I can’t seem to take.

Take turns being the “responsible parent”. Initially I was generally the one keeping track of when she ate, when she was changed, when she slept, etc. Since I’ve been on maternity leave and thus with the baby all day and night, I took that responsibility on myself. But then that led to a sudden breaking point of…”Ahh, I don’t want to make any decisions or be responsible for a while!” My brain needed a major break. Now we tag in and out on who is in charge of the care decisions and let the other one be “fun parent”.

It gets easier. Young babies aren’t born knowing how to soothe themselves, and their tummies are just so small. At around 4-6 weeks IJ went through a stage where she wanted to be held all the time, including during naps. However, now she naps and sleeps in her big crib like a champ (usually). She follows a fairly consistent sequence now so her cues are easier to read too.

Speaking of small tummies, don’t follow any newborn sleep tips you read the first 6 to 8 weeks. I was spinning my wheels with that. The fact is they need to eat all the time the first 2 months and the only way you will get any sleep will be if you sleep when the baby sleeps. Don’t worry about all those tips like put the baby down drowsy but not asleep, or avoid nursing them to sleep. Just let the baby be the boss the first month and a half or more. Eventually the thing that did help our baby sleep best was just a good swaddle. We also use pacifiers to help settle her down but they rarely stay in her mouth when sleeping.

Embrace opportunities to watch other parents interact with your child, and take notes. I realized that every time IJ and I have been around other moms I learned some new “tricks of the trade”, if you will.

Don’t assume one good night’s sleep means tomorrow night will be the same. And don’t assume that a baby who has been worn out during the day will sleep a lot that night (in fact, the opposite is often true). Don’t assume that what you learned today will apply to tomorrow.

Just do what you need to do to survive! Every day is a new adventure! And things change fast 😀

Day 1:


Daily life with an infant


It is so cliché but wow, time is flying by!  IJ is 10 weeks old.  She smiles more now and is becoming more interactive.  She will smile at silly little games (like peekaboo), smile at kisses, smile at herself in the mirror, and smile at certain words that I guess she thinks sound silly (like poop…she can’t already know what that word means, or can she???). She laughed once, like a for real extended  laugh, but for a completely unknown reason. I think we must have said something that she thought sounded silly. She doesn’t enjoy tummy time but man is she strong. She lifts her head up like a champ. She started cooing around 7 or 8 weeks; now we just love all the little sounds she makes. The big thing that she is working on now is grabbing stuff.

As much as I tried to impose order on the first 6 weeks of her life…I had to give up. Of course now I see how silly that was to try to do in the first place. Once she hit about 2 months she fell into a natural rhythm, mostly on her own. She usually wakes up in the morning between 6 and 8, proceeds to eat a lot (and poop a lot), and then is a super happy girl. She generally stays awake for about an hour and a half at a time before she starts getting fussy. Her eyelids get a little red when she is tired. The fussiness and/or red eyes are our cues that it is time for a nap. We pop a pacifier in, swaddle her, and put her in one of two holds. I hold her across my midsection belly to belly with her face pressed into my bicep. Turtle holds her up on her shoulder with the baby’s face in her neck. We walk around like that for about a minute and she is out. Since she is not in a deep sleep yet she sometimes resettles herself when you put her down. Or sometimes you need to rub her hair or pat her a bit to help her resettle. She takes most of her naps in her crib in her own room now.  When I can, I try to let her take one nap a day in the k’tan carrier, as she still sleeps best in close contact. The day follows in a sleep, eat, wake, and repeat cycle. Then at nighttime she goes down for the count around 8 or 9. We read a couple books until she seems tired, then we swaddle her, turn her sound machine on, nurse while rocking in the glider in the dark, and I sing to her.  She usually wakes up next between 1 and 3 am, which is the longest chunk of sleep of the night.  She often wakes up frequently (every 1 to 3 hours) after that first wake up.

Eating is going better too. She nurses faster at night (about 10 to 15 minutes). I follow that with 10 to 15 minutes of upright time.  So if she settles right back down, I can be back in bed in about 30 minutes. I’ve just started a lecithin supplement after getting some recurrent plugged ducts on my left side.  Also, IJ will take a bottle now (again). Since she started screaming through her bottles and not taking much (at around 5 or 6 weeks of age), one day I decided to do what I called, “bottle boot camp”.  We did a bottle every other feeding for a day with freshly pumped milk.  Each bottle feeding was easier than the last.  And by the end of the day she was doing pretty good.  Turtle was at work, so I was giving her the bottles myself. We had been doing an upright hold with the bottle (i.e. but I tried a different hold that worked for us.  By sitting very reclined and holding her sideways across my belly and chest, similar to beast feeding, it was like she went into autopilot. She behaved with the bottle like she does with the breast and had a nice calm sucking rhythm. It is also great because she is positioned right in front of my face so we can stare into each other’s eyes. Plus it allows me to keep the nipple angled to the roof of her mouth to the end of the bottle. I’ve not heard of this way of bottle feeding before and I don’t understand why it is not a thing. I think it is the best! I tried to get pictures but I think it is still hard to see her positioning.


 Now that IJ will take a bottle, they are mostly reserved for when we are out and about except to make sure we don’t go too long without one.  I don’t want her to forget what we worked so hard to learn.

In other news, we’ve been able to confirm a dairy sensitivity.  When I accidentally reintroduced dairy about two weeks after cutting it out of my diet, her spitting up and frequent waking resumed. We weren’t totally convinced though until the next day when her entire feeding went splat on the floor. She bounced back quickly, thank goodness, and I haven’t had dairy since. Still waiting for it to totally leave my system and hers.  Her diapers are still showing possible issues but that can easily still be from the diary.

Adoption Day

I like to say that we got ourselves a lesbian power attorney.  And we did. She’s kind of a big deal in our state for LGBT legal issues and she helped get marriage equality here. Sadly she wears bland turtlenecks and sweaters, not like the image in my head of a tall woman in a perfectly tailored black suit. But turtlenecks and all, it was so great to have her to help us navigate our wills, living wills, power of attorney documentation,  guardianship,  and second parent adoption.  And we finally had our court date last week. IJ finally has two legally recognized parents.

Even though Turtle and I were able to get legally married last summer, only my name (as the biological parent) was put on the birth certificate. Our baby had to be given my last name (at least temporarily). All this time I have had sole responsibility for signing any medical paperwork, etc. Custody is determined by genetics not marital status, at least in my state. Now if it was a straight couple using donor eggs or sperm, I bet that might be different. I suspect that they would not have an issue getting both names on the birth certificate from the start. So this moment is bittersweet. And all the “investigation” leading up to that moment was not happy-making. Turtle had to prove she was fit to parent her own child. Her love of our child was questioned, along with her criminal history, finances, physical and mental health, and her personal character.

The court appearance was somewhat anticlimactic. First Turtle had to testify. It was probably around 5 minutes of answering questions. When our lawyer asked her if she could describe the nature of her bond with IJ, I remember Turtle said it was “like magic”. I couldn’t help but start crying as she tried to describe her love for IJ. (I just love seeing how much she loves her, especially given her apprehension about having a child in the first place.) Then it was my turn to testify.  Almost all of my questions were yes or no questions. I just had to go on record regarding my intentions to co-parent with Turtle. The judge had reviewed all the records prior, including the write up from our home study and she did not have any questions for us. And so the adoption was granted. Now we can all move on as a legally recognized family of three. Yay!

Unsolicited Advice Part 1

Hello again. This is Flower, back with a public service announcement.  That is, I’m going to share with the public my lessons learned from the delivery and subsequent recovery. I just shared in my last post that I often realize that I have no clue what I’m doing. However I don’t see why that should stop me from sharing what I think you should do. 🙂 In all seriousness,  below are things I wish I had known before IJ was born about delivery in a hospital and postpartum recovery…take it for what it’s worth. Also if you are reading this and have some additional or different advice based on your own experiences, please comment.

Hospital Bag:
There are a lot of great lists out there about what to bring, many of which I referred to myself. So I’m not going to make a complete list for you here. Instead I’m going to list the most useful things we packed and the things we forgot that I wished we had. Speaking of which, piece of advice #1, finish packing now! Don’t assume, like I did, that you’ll have time in early labor to throw in a few more things. Anything you can’t pack away now because you need to use them on a regular basis, write down on a piece of paper and put that list with your bag. Now here are some things I don’t think you want to leave out of your bag:

Loose socks – After you have the baby, that extra fluid starts to come off. You will likely swell more than you did during the pregnancy. I could not get my feet into my slippers. I was so thankful for my warm and cozy (but very loose) socks and I wished I’d brought a pair for every day. I guess if you think you might want to venture out of your room, flip flops would be good too. I never did.

Unscented Dove bar soap and your favorite shampoo and all your preferred toiletries – So when you finally get a chance to take that first shower after having the baby, it will be THE.BEST.SHOWER.OF.YOUR.LIFE. Of course I was dead exhausted, covered in dried sweat (again all that fluid coming off along with crazy hormone fluctuations means terrible night sweats), my own blood, the vernix and whatever else from the baby, etc. You better believe I needed a shower, which I finally got the last day in the hospital. We had packed those small sample shampoos and body gel that you pick up from hotels like we normally would when we travel. That was NOT what I wanted for my best shower ever. And there was no way I was putting that perfumey bath gel near my unrecognizable and tender lady bits. Invest in the Dove! And just grab your favorite products right out of the shower to bring with you.

Gifts – A couple days before I went into labor we had picked out some yummy baked goods to bring to the hospital for the staff. Then we decided that the baby may not come for a couple weeks and it would all be stale by then. We didn’t get anything at the time and so were unprepared when I suddenly went into labor. There was certainly no time to stop for goodies. Now you may think that bringing a gift is just an added pinterest-induced pressure when these people are just doing their jobs. But trust me, you will want to throw hundred dollar bills at your nurses and lactation consultants if you could. I was so grateful! The nurses work12 hour shifts and they were like angels. I really wished we’d had a little something for them. A few week later I just brought a gift bag with chocolate (kisses and twix) and Kind bars with a thank you note for the nurse’s station.

Camera – This should be on every hospital bag list you find online, but since it was our most used item, I wanted to also include it here. Funny story, our doula offered to take pictures when IJ was first born. Unbeknownst to us all at the time, the camera was set on a weird filter. All the pictures just show the outlines of things. Thank goodness we realized what was happening eventually. Oh and don’t forget to bring spare batteries for your camera.

Nail clippers – I had read that a newborn’s nails are too delicate to cut and that you should use a nail file. Well I forgot to pack nail files, clippers, and didn’t even have mittens. She had to wear socks on her hands the whole time to protect herself and us from her dagger – like, long nails. When friends finally brought us some nail files, they didn’t work. I found the nail way too flimsy to file. Nail clippers would have done the trick. Just bring some clippers and get a little brave. We find it is easiest for Turtle to cut IJ’s nails while I nurse her.

Snacks – You will suddenly be awake for a significantly bigger portion of a 24 hour day. You will be starving and the food service will probably not be available 24/7. Having a stash of granola bars and some nuts was key.

Clothes – Guess what? You will not use half the stuff you pack. I don’t think I put real clothes on until the last day. I mean I didn’t see the point. Stuff was coming out of me at epic rates and there was constantly a melting baby diaper ice pack in my crotch. I was fine with the hospital gown and hospital robe. I didn’t want to funk up my own clothing. Oh and I also embraced the mesh panties. To each his own but I think the person delivering can get away with bringing a going home outfit, socks for every day, and maybe a button down pajama top or nightgown.


First of all, have help lined up if you can. That way you can focus on taking care of yourself and the baby. The recovery period is no joke. We didn’t have help until the 2nd week and I actually got worse in my recovery that first week. I found that to be the hardest part because I wasn’t prepared for how difficult it would be.

Also, ideally before going into labor, you’ll want to buy a pack of cheap black underwear, some hemmeroid cream, wipes (for you), and some really soft, big pads. Here’s why…

Hemorrhoids – If you don’t get these while delivering a baby…good for you. But especially if you have a vaginal birth, that is very unlikely. They gave me foams and witch hazel pads in the hospital, but none of that stuff is designed to actually shrink the hemorrhoid and make it go away. I didn’t realize that at first. Eventually I wised up and got some over the counter Preparation H. I also hear that coconut oil does wonders but I haven’t tried it myself. I also recommend getting some witch hazel and aloe wipes for going potty. That squirt bottle only gets you so clean.

Stuff exiting your vag – Our baby is almost 2 months and I still have spotting. Be prepared for the long haul. Especially at the beginning, the most important thing for me was the softness of the pads. Let me tell you friends, dry weave is your enemy in this situation. Kotex has some natural pads and some other kinds that they advertise as feeling like cotton. I found those to be the best once I ran out of what we acquired from the hospital. The other piece of advice is to stop wearing any liners as soon as the spotting is light enough not to seep through your underwear and stain your clothes. This is what the cheap black panties are for. Just toss them when you are done if you want. I did not get this advice soon enough myself and wore a pad or liner for the first 6 weeks straight which made things all raw down there. Now I’m having to apply Cortisone cream on my va-j-j. It is working but I’m trying to save you the trouble.

That is all for now. Stay tuned for Unsolicited Advice Part 2: The New Parenting Edition…coming soon.

Adjusting to a New Normal

IJ is almost 2 months old. We are now 7 weeks into this whole being moms thing.  In some ways it is amazing to me how quickly and easily life changed and we changed with it, yet at the same time it all feels surreal and I can’t friggin believe that we are parents.

Of course we are totally smitten with our girl. We can’t stop remarking what a good baby we have no matter what she is doing or how much she cries. And she is the most beautiful, adorable thing in the world to us (and we can only assume to everyone else as well).  Once while walking through the Soho/Chinatown area of NYC, Turtle and I witnessed a seeming grandfather say to his granddaughter,  “You are the most beautiful girl in Chinatown.” And we have repeated that sweet little soundbite to each other over the years since. Now we like to say those words to IJ. I’ve even incorporated the line into the Hush Baby lullaby.

My confidence in parenting is very up and down. Truthfully the transition was much more comfortable than I expected in general.  Although, I guess I didn’t have high expectations. At times I turn to Turtle and say, “We are really killing it at this parenting thing.” And I truly mean that at the time. Then I realize I have no idea what I’m doing. It is all trial and error and everytime I think I’ve got something figured out,  she makes a liar out of me.  That being said, I have much unsolicited advice to share in the next post, of course.

Now for an update on what’s been going on so far in the most important aspects of a baby’s life…

We are still breastfeeding exclusively. After making it through the first difficult week and figuring out the latch, things have been working well in the milk machine department. IJ came home from the hospital eating every two hours. It was important to feed frequently then because she was jaundice. Anyway it was amazing how quickly she picked up on that routine and stuck with it. She is just now starting to stretch that to 3 hours sometimes, and rarely up to 4 hours at night.

After the first few weeks I stopped looking at the clock and just fed her whenever she wanted. Sometimes this meant only an hour between feedings. About two weeks ago now, this got to be a bit much for me (due to the lack of sleep…more on that under Sleeping.) We happened to get a formula sample in the mail right at that time. When I read the ingredients it motivated me to keep going. I don’t want to feed my kid GMO corn syrup this young unless I have no other choice. It may very well come to that in the future for us but I still have the ability to provide all the milk she needs right now, and I know how lucky I am to say that. I made it to a lactation group last week to get some much needed support and advice and was told she didn’t need to eat as frequently as she was. She is nursing for soothing just as much as she is for sustenance. We have to help her to learn other ways to soothe aka stress the paci and work to delay some feedings (hence the stretching now to 3 hours sometimes).

She weighed about 11 lbs at group (so 4 more lbs than her birth weight 6 weeks earlier). She also wasn’t acting hungry and didn’t latch on right away, but then still put down 3 oz in no time. At every weighted feed she has eaten at least 3 oz, even at less than a week old, so she’s clearly a big eater. The weighted feeds were how I figured out she doesn’t need 45 to 60 minutes for each nursing session, like she was taking. She is getting what she needs fairly quickly, I just didn’t really believe that until she was 6 weeks old.

In addition to trying to distinguish when IJ is hungry vs when she just wants Mommy’s boobie, we are also working on taking a bottle. IJ had her first bottle at 2 weeks old. Things were going well with nursing so we decided to try it. She had a bottle more regularly starting at 3 to 4 weeks. Until Turtle got sick last week she was giving her one almost every day. Initially she seemed to go back and forth fine and even took the bottle fairly cold. Then about 2 1/2 weeks ago she started screaming through the bottle and resisting it. With a lot of work she will take it. But she doesn’t eat until she’s full, just enough to take the edge off. I have a very fast letdown, so we are going to try some faster nipples at the lactation consultant’s suggestion. It is stressing me out a little that the bottle isn’t easier, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of sticking with it and finding the right bottle/nipple.

Figuring out the sleep thing has been the most difficult part so far. In the first few weeks we worked on distinguishing night and day time. And then tried to establish predictable cycles (sleep, eat, wake during the day). Then tried to establish a nighttime routine (swaddle, story, sound machine, song). Then realized imposing all these rules on her was making everyone crazy. We still do a routine at night, but we don’t necessarily follow a consistent sequence of events during the day. It seems like she is very sleepy during the day most of the time. She will happily sleep in someone’s arms for naps and mostly conks right out when I wear her in the K’Tan. But after she reached 3 weeks of age we’ve had difficulty putting her down for naps. She will become fussy and want to be held (up on the shoulder or across your belly) when she gets tired. She used to soothe herself to sleep if you put her down in the bouncer or her Ingenuity when she was tired, but now she cries to be held. If she falls asleep in our arms and we try to put her down to sleep, that now works about 50% of the time at most. She might let you put her down but then wakes up 5 minutes later. Our efforts to put her down and not hold her for all her naps just lead to her being over tired. Like I said, it wasn’t always this way, so we don’t know if it is something we are doing or if perhaps she doesn’t feel well. She seems to have reflux and some possible additional digestive issues that we haven’t figured out yet. Thank goodness she does sleep in her Ingenuity (kind of like the Rock and Play but softer) at night. Getting through the night wakings would be more manageable if I could put her down and take a nap during the day.

The majority of my life right now is worrying about what goes in and what comes out of the baby. We continue to do half-assed cloth diapering, meaning we do a combination and right now are using more disposables than cloth. We don’t have many newborn sized CD supplies, and she is not quite fitting the size ones yet. I don’t love it as much as I thought I would, but do still plan to use them except when leaving the house or overnight. The cost of disposable diapers is motivation enough…and the additional amount of waste is staggering. We are also experiencing a lot of blow outs with the disposables lately. The poop of BF babies is just so liquidy it runs right out the leg hole. This little diva sometimes goes through three wardrobe changes in a day!

We are also starting to wonder if IJ has some food sensitivities. There has been a few poopy diapers with mucousy strings which is a sign of a possible allergy. These have also seemed to coincide with the days she needs the most soothing. I’ve recently cut out dairy to see if that makes a difference. I don’t really think it’s dairy but I thought it made sense to start with the most common allergen. It is still too soon to tell.

Around 6 weeks we started getting some smiles, which is the best milestone yet! At first they seemed random, but now they are clearly in response to things she likes or just social smiles. Based on her smiles, she likes us, her mobile, and a boob in her face.

She also has been more alert and engaged with people. She is making more eye contact and responds to our voices. Her head control seems to improve daily. She swats at toys in front of her and kicks her legs a lot. She likes to be worn but would clearly prefer facing out if she could. She does some brief tracking with close objects moving side to side. So those have been some of her developmental hilights. Can’t wait to see what she’ll do next.

I’ll end with a disclaimer for this and all future posts. The opinions contained herein are my own. It is totally cool if you have a different opinion. Don’t judge me and I won’t judge you. Thanks.