Archive for July, 2008

So Lucky

Mini Ries

Originally uploaded by Wandering Eyre

I do believe I am one lucky lady. Look at these two handsome men I live with!


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Originally uploaded by Wandering Eyre

Gideon and I went to go visit our midwife, Jackie, this afternoon. We have not seen her for about a month and it was nice to catch up.

It is odd to see someone so often, every week there at the end, and then not see them at all. It reminds me of when you go on a retreat, share all your dark secrets, come home, and then only see those people occasionally. We talked about Gideon’s experiences in the hospital, among other things. The conversation reminded me of how very blessed and lucky we are to have our little boy.

Gideon and I did not have an appointment, there were no time constraints, and we had plenty of time to just talk. It was lovely.

I like that we can keep in touch with Jackie, who has been such a blessing to our family. She gave me a bag of homegrown tomatoes, pictured here. I can not wait to eat them on sandwiches, in salads, with olive oil, and all by their lonesome.

What is better than good food and friends?

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On Oma’s Shoulder


Originally uploaded by Wandering Eyre

I can’t believe how much I love this boy.

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[written a couple weeks ago]

I have wanted to write this for some time. Tonight, Gideon and I have our Le Leche League meeting and I thought today would be a good time to start writing our nursing story. Plus, the wee bairn is asleep so there is no time like right now. I want to write about our breastfeeding experience and learning process for a few reasons.

  • Breastfeeding, though natural, does not come naturally for mothers or babes even in the very best environments.
  • Women are told all kinds of things about breastfeeding, their milk supply, and problems that are simply not true from people who simply do not know enough about breastfeeding to be giving advice.
  • Some other mom, with a baby in the hospital might be able to learn or pick up a few tricks from what Gideon and I did. For clarification, I am not writing this as advice or a recommendation. Just a story of what worked for us. Please seek a professional lactation consultant or support group, like Le Leche League, for specific advice. Actually, seek that advice regardless, eventually you will need it.
  • The more we talk about our breastfeeding experiences, the less misinformation will be available for women.

When Gideon was born, I held him for a few minutes and then he was removed from my arms so our midwife could try to clear his lungs and give him oxygen. When this did not work, he was rushed to the hospital. Gideon spent the first 5 weeks of his life in the NICU. The first 18 days he was on a ventilator and he had a nasal cannula feeding tube for the entire first month he was alive. That means that my precious boy did not have good associations with things being in his mouth and throat. His only experiences with oral stimulation were very painful, at worst, and very uncomfortable at best.

While Gideon was unable to breastfeed, I had to pump, first to bring my milk in and then to keep my supply up. I was very lucky that Gideon was at Texas Children’s Hospital because they have a Milk Bank there with consultants and pump rooms. Starting the day after his birth, I pumped every 2-3 hours during the day and every 4 hours or so at night. I never skipped, except when I was sick, I once went 9 hours without pumping. Even at the beginning, when I would get nothing in my bottles, I pumped. Because I could not hold Gideon, it took a long time for my milk to come in; it was almost 2 weeks before I was getting consistent milk. I took a picture of Gideon with me when I pumped and I would talk to it, pray over it, and cry over it. I think the picture helped a lot. I also drank about 2-4 cups of Mother’s Milk Tea everyday as I was able.

Finally, came the day when I could try feeding my boy. He was still getting feeds in a nasal cannula (Gideon received the milk I had been working so hard to pump in his tube), so there was no pressure to feed him right away, but he was also not hungry either. It was frustrating. The first four days, I simply held him while his tube feed was going in, on my lap, rubbing my nipple on his lips, and expressing milk into his mouth. This taught him to associate being full with my smell, a nipple being in his mouth, and the taste of milk. After a few days of this, we tried actual sucking. This was much harder.

Sucking is very hard work for infants and Gideon, with a sore mouth and throat from all the tubes, was not inclined to try very hard. He cried and fought at my breast the first week every time I would feed him. He had a very tough time keeping my nipple in his mouth long enough to get anything and he wanted milk from the second his mouth hovered around the correct area. To help fix this, I would use a pump to pull out and harden the nipple then, to help him draw in the nipple and keep it there, I used a nipple shield. While he was sucking, I used a needle nosed syringe, filled with milk I had already expressed, to squeeze milk very slowly into the corner of his mouth every time he sucked. This gave Gideon immediate satisfaction of tasting milk while working up his sucking stamina.

With all these efforts, Gideon would still only suck for three minutes at a time. It was frustrating, but I was determined.

We did the syringe and nipple shield thing for about two days, then we dropped the syringe. I continued to use the nipple shield for the first week. One night, the night nurse we had for the evening suggested I try it without the shield. I did and, to my surprise, Gideon was able to suck without it. It was wonderful. I continued using the breast pump for a few more days.

After getting Gideon to latch and suck, our next issue was that the hospital wanted me to feed him on a 3 hour schedule that corresponded with his tube feedings. I was asked to feed him before his tube feedings, but he was never really hungry and I often had to wake him up to feed him. There is no way to force feed a sleeping baby that still does not understand why he needs to spend all that energy sucking anyway. I stayed at the hospital and was there for every feeding, except I would take a break during the 3am feeding to get a 5 hour stretch of sleep. We persevered. I cried a lot, but eventually, he was off the nasal tube. After that, it was all me, all the time. Somewhere in all this, I also got mastitus and ran a nasty fever for a day and a half. It was extremely painful, but a small hill in an battle full of mountains.

Ries and I were adamant, no bottles, so after he was off the feeding tube I had to stay at the hospital, by Gideon’s bed 24/7. Newborns who breastfeed eat often and Gideon was no exception. For over a week, I lived by his bed, milk at the ready. I continued to pump when feeding did not go well, to release the milk of the side Gideon had not gotten to, and to keep my supply up for when he actually did start eating normally.

In order for us to go home from the hospital, Gideon had to gain weight. Eventually, he showed enough improvement that we were able to come home. He is now a healthy, getting chubbier, breastfed baby who gets it only from me.

It was a hard road. I did a lot of crying and so did Gideon. I fought to keep formula and bottles from him. I never once, in my tired mind, wanted to give in. I was determined, after all that had gone wrong, that this one thing would be right. I think the only thing that got us through was prayer and perseverance. I could not have done it without a lot of professional help from some very good lactation consultants, my husband, and my family.

Breastfeeding is a lifestyle, a gift, and a trial in patience. It still is after almost 3 months. Gideon and I are still teaching each other new things about this nursing relationship. I think we will continue to do so until he is weaned, many, many months from now. I feel like a cow and can not be away from my nursling for more than a 2 hour stretch, but I would not live any other way.

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Through the Window


Originally uploaded by Wandering Eyre

A glimpse of the wedding party.

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My brother got married this past Saturday and is now in California with his new wife, enjoying a peaceful honeymoon. It was so fabulous to see everyone and I am incredibly happy for my brother and his new wife, who strive to be the partners to each other that God asks of us when we marry.

I was not expecting to be sad, but I was a little. My baby brother got married and, though he has not belonged to my sister or I for a very long time, I now have to officially share him. Because I am a sister, I was not allowed to spend the day with him as he prepared for his big day. That job fell to the groomsmen, but I thought of Christopher all day. I hope he had a good day as he got ready. I feel like I had to share him with a million people Saturday and that I only watched him from afar (which was mostly the case as it always is at weddings). It is fitting that as he makes ready to leave us and cleave to his wife that I feel his loss.

It is a loss of shared childhood. In our future, we have memories of us as adults with the spouses we have chosen in the mix with our siblings. More people with which to love and laugh.

He has chosen an amazing woman for his wife. Part of their vows included the promise to “pray for you and sacrifice for you.” It is good that they promise to do two of things that are the hardest to do for any of us selfish mortals, to give of ourselves freely with our prayers and self and do so before we do for our own needs.

I have a brother who is amazing and now I have a new amazing sister as well.

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Christopher and Sydney got married yesterday. Like any good family wedding, there were many days of drinking and eating filled with family, friends, and hilarity.

Gideon experienced his first Circle of Trust and was toasted heartily by its members. This is a family tradition in which all the drunks at the party (read my uncles and counsins) sit in a circle to tell embarrassing stories about each other. And lo to those that are not there for they shall be ridiculed the most. We particularly missed Matt, whose stories always start out with, “This one time I was drunk…” and Brandale who has borne witness to many events that are more hilarious with every retelling. Now those are some fairy tales for the kiddies.

We offerred to dispose of the extra kegs from the wedding (such a hard job!), so I expect most of my family is in the state of my husband and sister-in-law, sleeping off a night of excess. I would like to commend Josh, the one brother of bride who showed up to drink with us. He stayed until the bitter end, bless his heart, and we were very happy to have him.

Now that all the excitement is over, I am drinking coffee and having and leftover apple pie from the reception. It is delicious. I hope everyone’s Sunday starts off as sweet as mine.

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