15 Strange But True Facts About Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is one of those polarizing parenting topics - everyone has a STRONG opinion and many people refuse to see the other side of the conversation.

Milk drunk Liam at 3 weeks old

When I was pregnant, breastfeeding was probably one of the things I had the most anxiety about. All I kept hearing was about how hard it was. It was also a bit nerve-wracking to know that if I chose to exclusively breastfeed, I was solely responsible for my baby you know, not starving.

I approached breastfeeding with an open mind. I would try it, and if it worked for us, awesome - but if not, I had no problem exclusively pumping or even giving formula. Thankfully, Liam and I got the technical part of it down quickly and easily. It was more getting over the mental hurdle of breastfeeding that I found difficult. By that, I mean it was really hard to basically be ready to get my boobs out on demand and just feed all the time. It's hard not to feel like a cow, milk machine or human pacifier. I also pumped right away so that my husband could help with feedings, and that was lifesaver for me, personally.
One of our first nursing sessions

My goal going into nursing was to re-evaluate every 3 months if and how long I'd continue actually put Liam on the breast. For now, I'm going to keep going as I have, which is pumping at work and nursing when I'm home. I hope to be able to give Liam my milk for at least a year, but whether that means I continue doing both or switch to exclusively pumping, we shall see.

It's taken me a while, but I was surprised when I finally realized that I actually like nursing a lot more than I thought I would. I find it easier than pumping, and I really do enjoy the "bond" it gives me with Liam, especially now that I'm back at work. We have some really good chats after he's eaten and is laying on the Boppy.

Along with discovering I liked it, I discovered some other weird realities, too:

1. You hoard milk. For those mama's who pump, you know what I'm talking about. Building up a freezer stash of milk becomes a strange goal, and the more milk you add to it, the less you want to use it. I've had to dip into my stash several times since going back work, and can't tell you how angry I get every time. I guess for me, I want the stash for when I (or Liam) decides to stop nursing, so he can have my milk for as long as possible. And it's nice to know it's there if we go on vacation alone, if my supply is low, etc.

2. Your proudest moments are when the baby is weighed at the pediatrician. When Liam went to his 1-month appointment and had gained THREE whole pounds, I was ready to fist bump my husband. I did that. He gained weight because of ME and me only. Especially at a time when you don't really know what the hell you're doing, to know that you're doing something right - something as important as nourishing your child - is huge.

3. You literally cry over spilled milk. If you haven't experienced this yet as a breastfeeding or pumping mama...I hope you never do. When Liam was in the NICU, before we could try nursing, I knocked over a whole 2 oz of pumped milk (that was a lot at a time when I was just getting my supply in, and that was all he ate in feeding). It was true heartbreak. Even now, I try to get every last drop in the bottle!

4. You constantly keep track of the time. In the beginning, when you have to feed or pump at such specific times, you realize pretty quickly how fast 2-3 hours pass. As Liam gained weight, I began to just feed on demand. But a full baby equals a happy baby in my house, so I am always cognizant of when he last ate, and use that as the gauge on if it's safe to go out in public. AKA, what are the odds baby has a hangry meltdown? Keeping track of time will keep those to a minimum.

5. You plan your day around your boobs.  The thing is, not only does baby need to be fed, but mama needs "relief," if you will. If you go too long without either nursing or pumping, your boobs hurt - a lot. (Not to mention risk of mastitis and clogged ducts.) Also, see above regarding hangry babies.

So, you just have to plan when you can get your nursing/pumping done if you have anything planned. For example, my friend stopped by after work the other day, and usually, I feed the babe not too long after I get home. So I made him give me a specific time he'd be here, because basically, I needed to know if I should whip out the boobs before or after he stopped by.

6. All boobs, all the time. It's just crazy how much you think about your boobs. How full are they? How sore are they? Are they leaking? Do you care if ___ sees you nurse? Do you care if ___ sees your boobs? My hubby definitely sees my boobs a million times more now than he ever did before. My dad, brother in law, father in law, mother in law, sisters, best friends, etc - they've also all seen my boobs. It's just the breastfeeding way. I do try to maintain some decency when I'm not around my girlfriends or husband, but sometimes it doesn't happen. Sorry not sorry.

7. You feel proud and simultaneously disappointed, depending on if you get good/low output from pumping. No greater feeling than filling up a whole bottle of breast milk to add to the stash! (See #1) And if you can get a second letdown? AMAZING.

8. You get pissed if any milk is wasted. When we give Liam a bottle and he doesn't finish it, I get a little ticked. Differing schools of thought, but many people say that if a baby doesn't finish a bottle, you aren't supposed to feed it to him again, because he has introduced bacteria and it can make him sick. We usually put anything he didn't drink back in the fridge and try to use it within a couple of hours. We are careful to first smell it, and make sure it's not "bad," because I can't stand the thought of throwing out milk.

9. You choose to nurse instead of letting Dad/Grandma/Auntie/Friend feed with a bottle because it gives you alone time. When everyone wants to love on your baby, it's amazing - but I find myself missing Liam, even when he's in the same room, in the arms of family. So while I do share him by letting others give a bottle and to avoid #6, I don't mind nursing him to steal a bit of "us" time.

10. You secretly love that you are the only one who can give your baby what he/she needs. Sure, it can feel burdensome at times to know that you are the only source of nutrition for your baby. But other times, it feels powerful and amazing.

11. You think of milk as magic. Baby crying? Baby won't sleep? Baby won't stop hiccuping? Baby has chapped lips? Breast milk, breast milk, breast milk. Every single time.

12. You touch your boobs a lot. I always grab my boobs, mainly to check and see if I'm leaking or if I'm full. It's become a bad habit. I went out last weekend on a bar crawl all day, and I brought my pump, like a responsible BF Mama. But I forgot my bottles, and couldn't find them ANYWHERE while I was out. So all day, I just kept grabbing my boobs to see if it was time to go home yet. (See #5).

13. Your anxiety about going out in public with the baby is not over whether or not he/she cries or causes a scene, but if there will be a place for you to nurse if you have to. I hate nursing in public, so I try to always bring a bottle when we leave the house. But I'm human and do forget, so as a Plan B, I am always scouring the bar/restaurant, wherever, for where we could be comfortable if I needed to "whip it out."

14. You look forward to waking up in the middle of the night to give your boobs some relief. Not much more to say about that, other than it also gives you time with your sleepy angel babe.

15. You fear rejection in a new way. When I came back to work, Liam was obviously taking the bottle much more. It's not uncommon for babies to prefer breast, but it can also happen the other way. A few times at the beginning, he screamed when I tried to nurse him, and it made me so sad! I was worried that our nursing days were over, but it hasn't happened since.

What do you think, mamas? Any otherthings that surprised you when it comes to feeding the babe?
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Liam {4 Months Old}

Well, I've gotta be honest. The past month has been the best and the worst yet. 
The best in that during the day, you are so happy, chatty and smiley, and you are getting so big and strong. It's amazing to watch. But at night, man...you sleep worse than a newborn, thanks to a certain 4-month sleep regression. Oy ve. You're lucky you're cute, kid!
Couldn't get a smile from you, but your expressions are equally as cute.
At your 4-month well visit, you weighed 16 lbs and 25 inches! You're in the 65th percentile for weight, 55th percentile for height, and your head is still in the 95th percentile.

Eyes: Still dark! Still uncertain if you'll have hazel or brown eyes. My vote is still hazel.

Hair: Brown and lots of it! Still sporting mullet, but it's darling. Dad calls it a rat tail.

We've heard a lot more in the past month that you look like Mommy, and I've gotta be honest: I love hearing that! Don't get me wrong, Daddy is super handsome, so if you looked like him, it would not be a bad thing either.

  • Your fist - Must be in mouth at all times
  • Your feet - You *just* discovered these guys, so I have a feeling you'll grow to like them more. You are definitely intrigued right now!
  • Blowing spit bubbles - This is your newest and most hilarious (and adorable) discovery. By the end of the day, your shirt is soaked!
  • Hearing yourself scream/squeal/talk - A close second in hilarity. You scream when you are happy, and when you're sad... You also chat, chat, chat, all time. When you're eating, when you should be sleeping, when we are changing diapers. We love it!
  • Rolling over - All of a sudden, when you were about 16 weeks, we set you on your back and you automatically roll to your tummy! You won't stay still for more than 15 seconds.
Off you go..impossible to get a picture!
  • Addy - You tune into Addy the second she comes into your eyeline. We're teaching you how to pet her and be gentle, because you also like pulling hair (mostly mom's).
  • Being outside - We were cooped up for the first few months of your life, so now, when we take you on walks, you are constantly looking around in wonder. If you are fussy, we just walk outside and you immediately stop crying. 

  • Kisses on belly - We blow on your belly while changing your diaper or clothes, and you've come so close to laughing! It always brings a smile and giggle.
  • "You are my sunshine" - I sing you this song before bedtime or when you are upset. I change the lyrics to "You are my Liam, my only Liam, you make me happy when skies are gray, you'll never know dear, how much I love you. Please don't take my Liam away!" (I cry nearly every time I get to the last line. #hormones)
  • Putting toys, books, clothes, etc. in your mouth - Everything is delicious!
  • Your jumparoo - your little legs are not quite long enough to touch the floor, so we assist with your newborn lounger. You love to jump, jump, jump!
  • The TV - This is terrible, but anytime a TV is on, you want to watch it. 
  • Sleeping in your crib - you were doing great with this until we hit the sleep regression, and now you nap in there fine, but refuse to go longer than a couple of hours at bedtime.
  • Sleeping at night - see below. 
What's sleep? :) When you were almost 15 weeks old, you started what we've learned is the 4-month-sleep regression. Basically, your little brain is going through some massive neurological change right now. At this age, your deep sleep increases as the pineal gland starts to secrete more and more melatonin, so you sleep more soundly than as a newborn. BUT you are also more ALERT at the end of each sleep cycle, like an adult. The catch is that adults know how to get themselves back to sleep in the middle of the night- most infants, like you, don't. 

So what's been happening is that you are waking up between most sleep cycles and can't get yourself back to sleep. Cue crying and cue mom and dad getting up multiple times a night to help you get back to sleep.

We've been working through it, but there have been some rough nights. We have tried what feels like 1 million solutions to get you to sleep longer. 
This is Merlin's Magic Sleep Suit. 
Supposed to help with the swaddle transition. 
It has yet to work any magic.
We're giving you some more time to come through on your own, but may resort to a (limited crying) sleep training method that will get you to fall asleep without your pacifier, as that seems to be aiding this whole lack of sleep thing. You got it dude, I know it. 

Now that I'm back at work, you eat a lot more from a bottle, but I'm proud to say that you are still exclusively breastfed. I nurse you about 2-3 times a day during the week, and most of the time on the weekends. You take about three 5-7oz bottles while I'm at work, and another one before bedtime.

  • Grasping, reaching & pulling
  • Rolling in both directions
  • Almost sitting up...you show signs of doing it, but obviously need assistance
This past month, we had a lot of change! Mom went back to work and you started "school" with your buddy, Alex, and your nanny, Diana. You're doing great and you love your new routine, as far as we can tell. For mommy, she is hating being away from you so much, but happy to be back to this new version of herself.
You and your buddy, Alex. 
  • We went home to Iowa for Easter! You loved your Easter basket full of goodies that will come in handy when you start to eat solids in the next month or two. (And stuff we already had...oops!) Full post more photos to come.
  • You're going through a sleep regression. It sucks. (see above)
Even though we've had some hard moments in the past month, with late nights, early mornings, and not seeing each other as much, you continue to be the light of your mom & dad's lives. Every moment we can spend you with you is cherished (but we'd rather those moments during the day, and not when you should be sleeping!)

Love you buddy!
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Sleepless in Chicago

As per my Instagram,  the 4-month sleep regression is not only REAL - it is a real motherfucker.

Sorry for my lack of presence. I have about 10 half-written blogs in my drafts, but have just been busy with work, life and being a mom, that  I haven't gotten a chance to finish them or write anythign new. But, as writing is my therapy, I need to visit my corner of the world today to get some things out.

Before we went home to Iowa for Easter (which I have yet to blog about. SLACKER!), Liam was sleeping from 9pm -5am, at which point he ate briefly, and went back to sleep until 7:15-7:30am. For the most part, he was sleeping in his crib. We usually had to go into his room to give him back his paci, but for the most part...we weren't complaining.

Since we got home...things have changed DRASTICALLY.

I've heard and read horror stories about a 4-month sleep regression. Not wanting to create a self-fulfilling prophecy, I had it in the back of my mind, but again - just wanted to "wait and see."

It started with a couple nights of Liam waking up around 11pm-12am in his crib, inconsolable, and we'd usually end up putting him in his rock 'n play. We'd have some intense rounds of Paci Pong, but just figured he needed some time to re-adjust to his crib and being in his own room, (the transition was new, and while traveling, he was in his rock 'n play, in our room). It has since become multiple wakings, every few hours, always starting after a few hours in his crib. We went from being able to soothe him by returning his paci or rubbing his belly, to nursing, having to rock him, walk him, bounce him...or any other tactic to get him back tot sleep. He falls asleep during said soothing measure, but the second we put him back in his RNP or crib...eyes open, not having it, rinse and repeat. We went from 7-8 hour stretches, to 5-6, to 3-4 and now we have been sitting pretty at about 2 hours. THAT IS NEWBORN STATUS.

Last night, Liam woke went down at 8pm, and was up 9:45pm-10pm, 11:15pm-11:30pm, 1:25am-3:30am, and up for the day at 6am. My hubby has also been out of town, so it was just me.

I have said many times, there is a reason sleep deprivation is a form of torture. You become desperate. In the past two weeks, due to our lack of sleep, I have done nothing but read about this "regression," research "remedies" and stress myself out about all the things we're doing right and wrong, healthy and unhealthy.

Here's the thing about children and sleep: It is one of those polarizing parenting topics, where there are so many schools of thought. You just want to SLEEP and your baby to SLEEP and so you try anything an everything.

Today, after soliciting advice from my best friends, family and fellow mama's, I came to this conclusion: Parenting is a mind-fuck. It's so ridiculous that I feel guilty for nearly every moment of the past couple of weeks. I feel guilty for wanting him to spend so many hours asleep, when I miss him and long for him so many hours of the day. Then I feel guilty for putting him down earlier in the night, even though all I've been asking him to do is sleep. And then, I feel guilty for wanting him to stay up late. I feel guilty for telling him to go the f to sleep. I feel guilty for making him cry it out, I feel guilty for nursing when he wakes, I feel guilty for not nursing when he wakes, I feel guilty for getting upset when he wakes up during the night. I feel guilty for taking his pacifier. I feel guilty for wanting sleep, I feel guilty for not "enjoying this time." The list goes on.

So, after an afternoon of crying in my office, guess what: I am retreating to the parenting school of thought of "Do what's best for you." I am going to try to reinforce/continue the healthy sleep habits we've established. I'm going to try and not stress out about creating or reinforcing unhealthy sleep habits or crutches during this difficult time. I'm going to change my perspective: Instead of hoping for sleep, I'm going to expect to wake up. I'm going to take things one day at a time, and try to I'm going to remember my Mommy Mantra of, "This too shall pass." Most of all, I'm going to give myself grace, because I'm doing the best I can. 

And now, I'm going to sleep.

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Was the Psychic Right About Baby Farrell?

If you're new here, or just don't remember, when I was pregnant, I had a psychic reading done to shed some light on labor, our baby's personality and any obstacles we might face as new parents. I thought it'd be fun to go back and see if she was right about anything.

I do believe in this type of stuff, but looking back on some of her answers, I can admit that she probably gave me a canned answer. Some of the stuff though, I think is spot on. Again, that doesn't mean she's "real," but it is kind of fun to think about:

What kind of personality will our baby boy have?
What the psychic said: He looks like a little leader, that’s for sure. The baby is a perfect combination of the two of you, but very different. This is an independent child. He’s not going to be super clingy, like “Mommy, mommy.” A lot of times, people with this yellow aura, they’re very logical and they over-think things. This child is not going to be one to just sit in the corner. He'll be the one telling everyone to follow him around the playground. You’re not going to have to worry about him; he’s very strong. He's not going to be the kind of kid who gets picked on, he’ll be able to handle himself.

I see someone who might bottle up his feelings, so you might have to coerce him to talk about stuff sometimes. He’s very strong willed and his strength isn't with intuition and sensitivities, he’s more logical and science-brained. He'll probably do really good in science and math.

I see is someone who’s really funny, charismatic and persuasive. He’ll be kind of like the life of the party, cracking jokes and being funny.

Truth:  Liam actually means strong-willed warrior, so when she said this about him when he was in utero, I got a kick out of it. (I didn't tell her what we were naming him.) Some of this stuff with his personality we won't see until later in his life, but I'll tell you what: Liam is the life of our party! He is funny, charismatic and as persuasive as a 3-month-old can be, haha. We can already see that is independent, as he is content to play on his own and doesn't demand to be held all the time, but he has his days. Overall, I think this one will be interesting to come back to after his personality has developed even more.

Will I have the baby early or late?
What the psychic said: I actually think you might be a little early! You'll be pretty close to the due date, about 2.5 days early. I’d say around December 16 your little guy will be born.

Truth: I was indeed a little early. I was due on December 19 and he joined us on December 18.

How long will I be in labor?
What the psychic said: Looks like about 14 hours, which is kind of long, but actually pretty average for a first child. I think it will be a full two hours of pushing, almost 2.5 hours. I don't see you needing pitocin or anything to progress your labor. He will be around 7 pounds. I don’t see anything weird happening where you’ll have to have a C-section.

Truth: She was pretty accurate with this one. From the time active labor started til I delivered, was about 13 hours. Liam was born at 7:25am, after 2.5 hours of pushing, and weighed 7lbs, 1oz.

Will I be able to breastfeed easily?
What the psychic said: It will be a struggle at first. I’m getting that it will be fine, but it’s not a strong yes. It's going to take some time for him to figure out how to latch on.

Truth: The only struggle we had was that I couldn't do it right away, since Liam was in the NICU and couldn't have anything except sugar water at the beginning. I pumped for the first few days to help my milk come in and store some for him to have, and I started nursing him after a couple of days. It came really naturally to both of us, thankfully!

Will he be a good sleeper?
What the psychic said: I don’t think he’s going to be that great of a sleeper. It’s barely a yes, so it might be a challenge for you. The sleeping patterns will be challenging, so you might have to pull out some tricks to get him to sleep. He’s got this personality where he doesn't want to miss out on anything. He’s very aware and observant and he wants to see what’s going on, so he won't want to sleep. He’s just an active baby.

Truth: Liam is absolutely aware, observant and active. I've said from the get-go that he was never the sleepy newborn; he has been alert from day one. Sleeping was a struggle for a few weeks, but once we started establishing good sleep habits, he has been awesome. He takes 3-4 naps a day, two of which are usually 2 hours, the others maybe 30 minutes to an hour. He gave us good stretches of sleep in the early days, 3-4 hours at times, and now will give us 6-8 hour stretches. Just last night he slept 10.5 hours IN HIS CRIB. A miracle!

What will our family dynamic be like?
What the psychic said: He takes after mommy more than daddy from what I can see. He’s very strong willed, he’s not going to be super easy-going like Dad. You and the baby might butt heads sometimes, because you’re both very strong willed. Bryan will calm both of you down. Bryan is more laid back, so he’ll help calm this child down, they’ll be very good for each other. Very balancing.

You’re going to be a little bit of a worrier and your husband is going to be super chill. He’s super thoughtful and he’ll be a very attentive dad, but he’s way more laid back than you. You tend to obsess, so it’s hard for you be laid back because you worry. Bryan is going to calm both of you guys down. He’s the calming, grounding energy in your family.

Truth: Yes, yes and yes. I am definitely a worry wart with Liam and Bryan is definitely more "whatever" (in a loving and caring way, of course!). Liam is strong-willed, but we don't butt heads yet :). Bryan has calmed me down every day since Liam was born and he is great at soothing our little man!

How will his health be?
What the psychic said: Good and normal. No allergies or weird tendencies.

Truth: Aside from early issues in the NICU, Liam has been in perfect health, thank goodness.

Will I struggle with Post-Partum Depression?
What the psychic said: You’re going to have a lack of sleep, but I don’t see depression being the case with you.

Truth: Right on. Everyone has a lack of sleep and the effect it has on you can often be misconstrued as PP, but I never struggled with that. Definitely had Baby Blues for a while, though. 

How will I be as a mom?
What the psychic said: Oh, you’re gonna be an awesome mom. You’re very nurturing. I can see in your aura, you've got a lot of green, so you’re very grounded and very reliable – you've got great Mama Bear energy. I think you’re going to love being a mom. You’re kind of like a healer. You’re here to help people and serve people. You’re going to be a natural mom, seriously.

You love helping people, so it’s going to give you a lot of purpose in your life. You’re a good judge of people, like you can go in a room and think, 'I’m not sure about that person' and you’re usually right. You can read people really well. This kid isn't going to be able to pull crap on you. You’re like the mom that kids are like, “How does she know what I’m up to?” You’re going to be really good in that way. You're very in tune and you have a strong mama’s intuition.

Truth: Not to toot my own but, TOOT TOOT! (Just kidding.) I'd like to think I'm a good mommy. Lord knows I love being a mom and doting on my son. It has most definitely given me a new purpose in life.

How will having a baby affect our marriage?
What the psychic said: You give your partner a lot of inner strength and confidence. You really balance each other well, you’re perfect for each other. So it’s good you’re having a baby together.

Having a baby will bring you closer together. Sleeping is going to be hard for you guys for a little while, but this baby is going to be the glue between you guys. I don’t see any issues there.

Truth: Having a baby is hard on a marriage at first, in my opinion. I'll save that for a later post, but it is definitely an adjustment to any relationship - that was probably the one thing I was least prepared for. We have definitely grown closer through having Liam, and while it's a challenge to find a new "normal" that is fair and balanced for everyone, I think we've done a good job of that so far.

Are we going to have any more children? 
What the psychic said: I see another one. I’m getting the number two. It looks like they’re going to be about three years apart. A boy and a girl!

Truth: Right again - I'm pregnant! (JUST KIDDING. April Fools, remember? OMG...too soon to even joke about.)

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