Time for another list of my Friday Favorites! The weeks have gone by very quickly and I can't believe that Thanksgiving will be here next week. Then come the holidays and a whole new year! This week's picks feature lace, red lips, and more.Read More
Way back when I first started this blog, I would do a Friday Favorites post almost every week. I would write about stuff I really enjoyed that week. I shared info on my favorite apps, books, makeup, shoes, clothes, you name it. I think it's time to start that feature up again, don't you?Read More
I'm a huge fan of accessories. I use them to take pretty simple outfits (like my standard mom uniform of skinny jeans and a t-shirt) to a different level. As a mother and student, I need accessories that are functional and look good, too. When I saw pics of JORD wood watches, I knew I wanted one. These unique watches are beautiful, but help me keep on schedule. Trying to time school pick up with obtaining clinical hours can be really tough some days. At least I look good doing it right?
This post was sponsored by JORD Wood Watches, but as always, the opinions and photos are my own.
I chose the Fieldcrest Series Dark Sandalwood Watch because it was a beautiful deep brown color, which is perfect for fall. It's neutral enough to go with anything I wear, but really stands out on its own. It arrived in this beautiful handcrafted box on its own little display pillow.
I typically wear the watch with in a business casual setting, but it works beautifully with just a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. I most often wear it to complete clinical hours. It helps me keep track of how long appointments were, how long a mom and baby fed, and whether I need to have the babysitter pick my son up from school. You know, just living that lactation intern life! The dark color of the Fieldcrest Series Dark Sandalwood Watch works so well with my wardrobe. Since the watches are sized, I ordered my watch a little loose, so I could wear it farther back on my wrist when holding a baby. Don't worry, they have a foolproof sizing guide to help you.
Now comes the fun part!
JORD Wood Watches is holding a contest where the lucky winner wins a $75 e-gift code to their online shop. You can pick any item you like! All other entrants will receive a $20 code just for entering!
Contest ends on 10/30/2016, no purchase necessary to enter.
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Today was a tough day at our house. I wasn't feeling great, we were all recovering from a weekend trip so everyone was off their game, and we were all feeling a little grumpy. You know those days, where you're wishing for bedtime at 2pm and feel like you could have a meltdown at any moment. I know I'm not alone in feeling like this! I dealt with similar emotions a lot when dealing with postpartum anxiety and depression. Here are five things I did to help us get through the day:
Even if it's just the backyard or front yard for 10 minutes, get out there. A change of scene and hopefully some sunshine did me a lot of good. The kids get to run around and get rid of some energy, too. Feeling the sunshine and breeze on my skin helps calm me down.
Whether it's a mama friend, your mom, or someone you haven't spoken to in a while, reach out and call them. No texts or no emails. This works the best if it's actual talking. There's something about hearing the voice of someone you've been thinking about that is so satisfying. Plus, I bet you'll make their day if you reach out to them.
Move Your Body
We all know you can head outside when the weather's nice, but what can we do if it's raining, cold, or snowing? Dance parties are one of my favorite ways to shake up an ordinary afternoon. You'll often see snippets of them on my Instagram story. Not only does it get me up and moving, but it helps my kids go wild. I have so much fun being silly with my boys. Yoga is another great way to move around. We are big fans of Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube, which is easy for my kindergartner to do and my toddler to follow. There are even themed sessions for your little Jedi or Frozen enthusiast. The best part is that the videos are free!
Eat or Drink Something
We're often so busy taking care of everyone else that we don't take very good care of ourselves. I don't mean massages and pedicures as a form of self care, I am referring to fulfilling the basic need of food and water. I've gone many a day where 4pm hits and I realize that my splitting headache is from a lack of food. Pop in a Hershey kiss or piece of dark chocolate, eat an apple, or make yourself a smoothie. Remember that you can't nurture with an empty tank!
Take a Mommy Break
Make sure the kids are in a safe area and let them play while you go to another room of the house. I've been known to escape to our master bedroom while the kids play in our mostly safe living room. I'm not gone for long, only 5 minutes or so, and I keep an ear out for screams or squabbles. Even if it's using the bathroom in peace (hey, we've all peed with an audience), a little alone time can be a great quick fix.
When I feel like I'm going going to have a meltdown, I notice that it helps to lower my standards of mothering until the moment passes. Sometimes all I have the ability to do is the bare minimum. This was never more true than when I was dealing with postpartum depression and anxiety. While we watched more TV than I would've liked, my kids were fed and they were safe. Sometimes just enough is the best we can do and that's okay. We are enough.
How do you cope when you've reached the end of your rope? Let me know in the comments!
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After 27 months of breastfeeding, R weaned a few weeks ago. We began the weaning process just after his second birthday in May, but I wanted to move slowly. He is my last baby; since I won't be breastfeeding ever again, I really wanted to make sure it was something we were both ready for.
Over the course of a week, we moved from a few times a day down to just nap/bed time. That slowly transitioned to once every few days. After about 5 days of not nursing, I started to notice a change in my mood: I went from feeling normal to feeling really angry, I had a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, I didn't want to leave the house, I was exhausted despite doing next to nothing all day. I recognized these symptoms as matching up with my postpartum depression and anxiety. After speaking to my husband, he acknowledged that my behavior seemed to have changed drastically.
I bet you can guess what I did next. I put that toddler back to the breast for two reasons: I was starting to feel full/uncomfortable, and I didn't want to go down that road again. Depression during or after weaning is not unusual (read more here and here), but it is not studied very often. Many moms report feeling sadness or grief, especially if they weaned before they were ready to do it. If you notice symptoms of depression in yourself during or after weaning, please reach out to your health care provider ASAP. You're not alone in your emotions!
Over the next few days, I made sure to nurse once a day (usually bed time) while doing the things my therapist suggested I do to reduce depression and anxiety symptoms. I noticed my mood stayed more normal (whatever that means) and I felt better emotionally. One night, R didn't want to nurse. He said, "no, Mommy," and cuddled up to me instead. That was that, he was done. I haven't offered since that night and it has been about 2 weeks since he last showed an interest in breastfeeding. We had made it 27 and a half months. Now when I ask him if he wants milk, he runs to the fridge in the kitchen. Yup, definitely done.
I'm sad to see this chapter in my life end. It helped me reduce my risk of certain types of cancer, helped my sons reduce their risk for diabetes and other chronic illnesses, and it made them healthy and strong. Breastfeeding not only helped me nourish my sons, it helped give me a focus and direction in my life. My journey with my oldest helped me realize that I wanted to support and advocate for breastfeeding mothers. To say it played a big role in my life would be an understatement. You wouldn't be reading this blog post without it!
While there is sadness, there is also joy. Joy in the next chapter of my life as a mother, in wearing shift dresses, in sharing my experience with others in hopes of helping them. Now I will have to parent without my breasts, which is both thrilling and scary. I'll still be discussing breastfeeding and #bfingstyle on the blog, that is one thing that won't change. With that, I raise this large glass of wine or cup of coffee, depending on what time it is as you read this, to my breasts. Thank you for nourishing my babies, for helping define me in such a big way, and for not completely disappearing now that breastfeeding is over.
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Fall is my favorite season of the year. I love it for many reasons: the cooler weather, my wedding anniversary, and my most favorite color palette. The brilliant golds, burnt oranges, and deep reds are beautiful and a great way to incorporate the seasonal elements into your clothing. Of these colors, the deep red shades have to be my favorite. You could say that I'm berry excited for fall.
Throughout history, the color red has been associated with sacrifice, danger and courage. Currently many people associate red with heat, activity, passion, sexuality, anger, love and joy. It is the color of symbolizing happiness and good fortune in many Asian cultures. A hue that evokes such strong emotion can be a little intimidating to wear. One doesn't have to go bold in an all deep red colored outfit. Below I've put together several of my favorite berry hued things, starting at lipstick and ending at dresses.
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Red is one of the colors to wear this fall. I saw this vibrant dress on a trip to H&M and was excited to see that it was breastfeeding friendly! The dress has a deep v-neck which can easily be pulled to the side to breastfeed. The dress is neither long, nor short - it's a midi length which hits mid calf for most women. It's a great transitional style regardless of what season we are heading into.
I put together two looks for this; one is more kid friendly than the other, but items can can cross over. The dress is versatile enough to wear out on a date night or moms night out and to run errands with the family. Its midi length makes it easy to dress up or down.
In addition to the dress below, I found links to similar dresses that are red and breastfeeding friendly, along with bags, shoes, and jewelry. As always, links to shop can be found at the end of this post.
The open toe ankle booties are perfect for still warm fall days, but the leather (or faux leather) material gives them an autumnal feel. I am all about the stacked heels. Despite the name of this blog, I infrequently teeter around on a stiletto heel! Stacked heels give me the height I like without worrying about wiping out with each step. I love the simplicity and sophistication of an envelope clutch. For me, it's a great alternative to the massive diaper bag I usually tote around. I own several of these in a number of colors that I use in real life. The delicate bar necklace adds a touch of sophistication without competing with such a strong colored dress.
I've been singing the praises of lace up ballet flats for some time. They add an extra something to an outfit, even if it's just jeans and a t-shirt. Sophisticated, but still easy to chase a toddler - this is my new barometer for everything! While the flats come in a variety of colors, patterns, and textures, I would wear a neutral pair with this dress. Camel or light brown is such a nice change from black. I found the cutest teething necklace to pair with this dress and it seems to match the red almost perfectly. The faux suede tote bag is the best way to make sure you have everything you need when stepping out with your kiddos.
Which look is your favorite? How would you style this dress? Tell me in the comments!
Shoppable links below
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I've written about finding your village and learning as much about breastfeeding as possible. Reading about other breastfeeding mothers' experiences helps me know I'm not alone. This August I was fortunate enough to team up with a diverse group of mom bloggers to create a National Breastfeeding Month Blog Roundup. Click each link to read about their experiences. As always, you can read my posts by following the breastfeeding tag.
- Diary of a New Mommy
- Fab Working Mom Life
- From Nurse to Mom
- Healthy Happy Thrifty Family
- Momma Junebug
- Naturally Made With Love
- Short Sweet Mom
- Small Town Solace
- Sophia Says Hello
- Tapped Out Travelers
A huge thank you to these mamas for sharing their stories and adding to the conversation on breastfeeding!
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Trigger warning: anxiety attack
In honor of National Breastfeeding Month in the US, I reached out to mom friends and asked them to share their breastfeeding stories. Women can have a plethora of emotions associated with breastfeeding - it's not all butterflies and rainbows. Sometimes the negative emotions can be a sign of a perinatal mood disorder. Amy sent me her story of breastfeeding her oldest son through postpartum depression and anxiety.
My breastfeeding story includes such a wide range of emotions. I loved it. And I absolutely hated it. I breastfed my two babies (now 5 and 3) for 14 months each. It’s been two of the greatest accomplishments of my life. It was definitely easier the second time around having more confidence and wisdom, but I really struggled with my first baby.
I had a Caesarian birth with my first, and was in the hospital for 5 days since my baby had jaundice. My milk did not come in until day 6 postpartum. It was a long, tearful, and scary 6 days not being able to feed my crying, screaming baby. I was so lucky that he latched on right away. It felt like winning a gold medal! He was always ready to eat, but I had nothing to give him. I used an SNS (Supplemental Nursing System) tube to help feed a small amount to formula to him while he was latched onto my breast. This ‘hamster feeding tube’ as I quickly nicknamed it was a life saver. It helped satisfy my baby without pulling him away from my breast. It felt like a huge victory!
On day 6 postpartum when my milk finally came in, I felt a wave of burning energy, heat, and anxiety flow through my body. It was very intense, scary, and I did not know what was happening. I felt like the ceiling was crashing down on me, and that there was not enough air in the room to properly breathe. I was literally gasping for air. I tried to take a shower to relax, but I felt like I was drowning standing up in the water. I had to open every window in my house, even though it was December and very cold outside. My body temperature was burning hot. I could not sleep, could not drink water, could not swallow any food, and I constantly felt like my heart was going to explode. I would feed my baby, and would feel so claustrophobic I would have to put him down the second he was done eating. It felt like I was constantly suffocating. And I was in so much pain from my c-section, that I wanted to claw the skin off my body. Now that it’s been 5 years, and I can look back at that time with 20/20 vision, I now know it was the start of my postpartum anxiety and depression.
I had so many triggers that would cause postpartum panic attacks, and unfortunately breastfeeding was one of them. However, I was so determined to breastfeed my baby, like it was the greatest mission of my life, that I silently struggled through these feelings, and learned how to pretend like everything was ok. I would breastfeed my baby and look at his face and love everything about those special moments. He was my miracle baby and I loved him so much. But then 10 seconds later, I would put him down and not want to hold him again, and felt the urge to run away. I would constantly ask myself what kind of mother am I to feel this way? How could I want this baby for so long, and then feel like I had to run away all the time? The guilt was tremendous and all consuming. I felt like I was truly an unfit mother. Then the freight train of emotions and thoughts truly began. I doubted my ability to care for my newborn, I doubted my marriage, I doubted every decision I made.
These panic attacks were consistent during the first 6 months postpartum, and I continued to breastfeed through them all. I then started to feel more joy breastfeeding, and less claustrophobic. I felt more connected to my baby, and the urge to run way was less. But my feelings shifted to more anger, rage and frustration. I was so mad that no one was helping me. That I asked for help from my OB, and I was completely overlooked and forgotten. I was mad at the moms that seemed to have it all figured out. I was mad at the sight of my breast pump. I was mad at my husband for not making me feel better, and for not understanding what I was going through. I was so alone, and so sad. Around 9 months postpartum I was convinced my husband and I were going to get a divorce. I could not stand to even look at him. And this was so unsettling because I truly loved (and still love today) my husband, and thought he was the greatest man alive. We were able to work through it, and after my son’s first birthday, I started to see a sliver of hope for myself, and my marriage.
I decided to wean my son when he was 14 months, and luckily we both had a smooth transition. My anger began to subside, and I gained more confidence in my ability to care for a small human. I felt like I was finally able to enjoy the small things I used to enjoy before, like simply going outside for a long walk. I was able to look at my son and see that he was thriving. He was a happy, outgoing, loving kid, and it was the reassurance that I needed that everything was going to be ok.
Today my son is 5 years old, and just started kindergarten. I look back over these past years, and it truly feels like the longest, shortest time. I am thankful that I was able to breastfeed him, and I feel so proud for finding a deep strength from within to overcome all the obstacles along the way. It ignited a deep love and understanding within me for all women, in all situations. We are all so different, and everyone has a story of struggle and triumph. And everyone’s story matters. The beautiful gift about being a woman, and now being a mom, is that I can hopefully help other moms with unconditional love and support. We all need each other.
Amy's experience (and huge challenges) having her own two children ignited her passion for supporting moms during the vulnerable postpartum transition. She suffered severe postpartum depression and anxiety after the birth of her first child. It was this difficult experience that shifted her path from working in the corporate world to helping moms throughout their postpartum recovery. She is a certified Placenta Encapsulator, Postpartum Doula, and owner of Mama Peace. She specializes in helping moms struggling with Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs). Amy volunteers with The Pregnancy and Postpartum Health Alliance of Texas (PPHA) on the Board of Directors, and as a Postpartum Doula. Amy lives in Austin, Texas.
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It's hard to believe that summer is almost over! We will soon be dealing with cooler temps (yay!!), Halloween, and pumpkin spice everything. Stripes are very popular during the summer - classic, fresh, and always on trend. The great thing about stripes is that they can be worn all year round. Here are some suggestions on how to transition a striped dress to fall.
Add a layer
Adding a layer is my favorite way to bring a piece from a warmer season into a cooler one. A jacket, cardigan, or sweater can help deal with cool mornings. They're easy enough to remove if the day heats up. Not cool enough for those yet? Slip on a denim jacket, sweater vest, or chambray shirt for a lighter fall feel. You may opt to add a layer on the bottom as well. Tights, leggings, and even tall boots can make a dress feel less summery.
Update Your Accessories
Whether you get an of-the-moment bag or try a funky new style of shoes, changing one basic element of your outfit can make a huge difference. Not into a whole new style? Try a new color. Swap out corals and turquoise for burgundy and hunter green. While leopard can be worn all year round, I notice an increase in leopard print pieces during fall and winter. It's a neutral, so it can be worn with just about anything. At least that's what I tell myself! Scarves are a great way to add some color or texture. Since some breastfeeding mothers prefer to cover while nursing, a lightweight scarf can double up as a nursing cover.
Need an Example?
While I used the Milk Nursingwear nursing dress from this post, these suggestions can be used for any striped dress out there! The look on the left is more casual and perfect for weekend errands. I love the functionality of a military jacket and the metallic Converse. Lots of pockets to store toys and sneakers to chase a runaway toddler. The sporty tote bag is large enough for diapers without looking like a traditional diaper bag. Matte oxblood lips are very on trend and add a moody twist. This is my favorite look of the two and definitely something I would wear!
The look on the right is more feminine and a dressier. The jewel-toned cardigan and pastel shoes liven up the olive striped dress. I adore those mint brogues - a very fun take on a traditionally masculine shoe. Mauve lips and a classic tote finish off the look. Links to shop are at the end of this post.
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In honor of National Breastfeeding Month in the US, I reached out to mom friends and asked them to share their breastfeeding stories. We all know that breastfeeding can vary from one mother to another, but siblings can also have two very different journeys. Here is Holly's breastfeeding journey.
Holly's Breastfeeding Journey: Two Kids, Two Stories
I always knew I wanted to breastfeed. I grew up with my mom telling stories of breastfeeding both me and my older sister. She joked about weaning me at nearly 3 years old because I would have been happy to continue nursing well into elementary school. She talked about joining La Leche League and the friendships she formed through the meetings. I was 20 years old when my sister had her first baby and I watched as she dove right into breastfeeding; I watched again as she nursed the two children that followed behind. I watched my friends start having and nursing children of their own. Breastfeeding was natural, it was easy, and it was something I never questioned I would do.
I was 29 when my first child was born. His complicated birth ended with meconium inhalation and a collapsed lung. The first days of his life were a blur of NICU visits, tubes and wires, fear and worry. I was encouraged by the nurses and doctors to pump my breastmilk and bring it to the hospital so they could feed it to him through his NG tube instead of formula. I was given charts and syringes, told to keep a close eye on my output. But I was going to breastfeed; I was going to make it happen. We couldn’t hold him or touch him overly much, but I was going to get that baby on the breast as soon as I possibly could.
I still remember the day my son’s NG tube was removed and we were able to try a latch for the first time. I was so nervous, worried that we had already faced setbacks that couldn’t be overcome. I was determined, though, and the hospital’s lactation consultant came up to help walk us through the process. She was kind, though a bit impatient, but we were able to get a latch! I was over the moon! My baby and I had taken the first steps on our journey of breastfeeding and I couldn’t have been happier. My husband snapped a few pictures and I am so glad he did; they are photos I will cherish forever.
But it wasn’t like I thought it would be. My son would latch, but he fell asleep at the breast quickly without feeding for more than a couple of minutes. I was instructed by the LC that I had to wake him up, swap breasts, don’t let him stay on there for more than five or ten minutes. I was poked at, repositioned, talked at. My baby had fingers put into his mouth, his body moved around, his ears rubbed, and became agitated. I felt frustrated and defeated. The LC left with instructions to call her back if we needed her. The nurse came with a bottle of formula and I handed my baby off to my husband to feed. I cried.
My son was discharged and came home on his fifth day of life. I felt afraid and overwhelmed. I tried to remember all the things the LC had told me at the hospital. I tried getting my son to latch again and nurse. He screamed and fought. So I would pump and give him a bottle. After a week or so I called and made an appointment with the hospital LC. Brought my baby to her and asked what I was doing wrong. She had a laundry list. My nipples were flat, I was holding him wrong, I wasn’t waking him often enough to feed, I wasn’t keeping better track of my output when I pumped or how much he was eating. I felt like a failure. Why wasn’t I able to do this? Literally every mom I knew was able to breastfeed. Why was this so damn hard for me?? My appointment ended and the LC suggested I come down to her office to rent a hospital-grade breast pump. I ran away to my car and cried on the way home.
I kept trying, albeit half-heartedly. My husband tried to help, bless his sweet heart, but his suggestions were absorbed by my wounded pride and turned into criticisms by my heartache. I sought out advice from my sister who had successfully breastfed three babies at that point, but it was no help; she was unable to teach me what came so naturally to her. My mom told me she didn’t remember anything from her breastfeeding days; the decades had wiped away every details save the general experience of having done it. I felt like I didn’t have any support. I languished. I stopped trying.
I resigned myself to pumping.
And so it went for months. I pumped five, six, times a day, every single day. I sobbed every session. After the first couple of months I began to experience horrible pain in both of my breasts, a feeling like a thousand fire ants were stinging them from the inside, every time I pumped. I talked to people about it and got sympathetic (albeit confused) replies instead of answers. I suffered through a bout of mastitis so bad, I felt like I would pass out if something happened to graze my breast. I took antibiotics and was told by the doctor I would have to dump my milk while I was on them. So I did, dumping ounce after precious ounce of milk down my kitchen sink while I wept bitter tears and fed my son formula. The mastitis went away. I kept on pumping.
When my son was about four months old my best friend had a baby, her third child. I would go over to her house with my baby to visit, dragging along my pump and bottles. I watched her nurse her newborn while I fed my infant his bottle. I hated her for doing what I could not.
A couple of weeks later my sister had a baby, her fourth child. I visited her in the hospital post-cesarean, nursing her child, so happy and in love with yet another successful breastfeeding relationship begun. I hated her for getting off to the good start I did not have.
I decided to try breastfeeding again. My son had not been offered the breast in over three and half months but I thought, “I can do this. I WILL do this.” I caught him as he was waking from a nap, still a little sleepy, right about the time he would get a bottle. Instead, I freed my breast from my shirt and coaxed him to latch. He did. He nursed for a solid ten minutes on one side; I swapped him to the other and he nursed for another twenty. I snapped a picture with my phone and texted it to my husband. I was enraptured. It was pure magic.
We had two days of breastfeeding before mastitis hit me again like a truck. I was crushed. I pulled out the pump only to discover it was toast, the motor dead and its days of pumping done. I was also done. Done with trying to nurse, done with pumping, done with everything having to do with my breasts as a source of food. I called my sister and wept; she said she would pump for me so my son could keep having breastmilk, she had more than enough, was pumping anyway, it was no trouble. I went to the store and bought a cabbage, stuck its leaves into my bra. My milk dried up in two days. I threw the pump in the trash and dusted my hands of the whole thing. I grieved. HARD.
Two and a half years later I was pregnant with my second child. I knew I wanted to try breastfeeding again. I wanted to have everything go as smoothly as possible during the birth, determined to get off to the best possible start without the delays and setbacks I had before. When my second son was born, he went immediately on my chest. I watched for cues and offered the breast within an hour of his entrance into the world. He latched. He suckled. It worked. The hospital LC came to visit during my recovery--- different hospital, different LC than with my first--- and proclaimed us perfect. She gave no tips or tricks because she said none were needed. I was elated.
We got home and I spent the first two weeks in a topless haze of milky boobs and a nursing baby. I learned my nipples were not only flat but slightly inverted, something not brought to my attention the first time around. I got a nipple shield that seemed to help. Things were going well. My son has his two week checkup at the pediatrician and I was told he’d lost too much weight. He set me up with the office’s lactation nurse for a consultation. She was very kind, very soft and gentle. She listened to my story and my fears, gave me good advice and reassured me. We kept trying.
My baby was about a month old when I began feeling pain again. Both breasts, every time I nursed. That horrible needling pressure and the stinging, crawling sensation that I’d felt before when pumping for my first. It began happening when I was not nursing. Sometimes the pain was so bad, it would wake me in the middle of the night, tears pouring down my face, as I screamed into my pillow and beat my fists on the bed while I waited for the pain to stop. I was in agony.
I started feeling again like my body was broken, that maybe I just wasn’t meant to nurse a child. So I turned to the internet. Good old Dr. Google, haha. After poring through several articles on thrush and determining that just didn’t fit my symptoms, I stumbled across a link through the La Leche League website which referenced Raynaud’s Syndrome, a vasoconstrictive disorder that affects the extremities. The blood vessels spasm and tighten, cutting off the flow of blood and causing extreme pain; when they relax, the blood comes flooding back to the area and the pain fades away. The article I read mentioned this particular phenomenon occurring in the breasts and nipples, causing pain like the type I was feeling. It’s often misdiagnosed as thrush because the feeling is so similar, but unlike the fungal infection, Raynaud’s of the breast could not be treated by medications like diflucan. The article said to check for signs of nipple blanching---when the vessels contract, the color drains away---followed by a purplish then reddish flush. It said the condition is exacerbated by cold temperatures and could be prevented by keeping warm and covered while nursing.
I cried, this time tears of relief. I felt like finally, FINALLY I had an answer as to what was going on with my body. So I kept nursing my son. I kept myself warm and made sure to cover my breasts quickly after each session. It didn’t always work, but the pain was greatly reduced. I felt free; I felt redeemed.
For nearly eight months I fed my son with my breasts. No bottles, no pumped milk, no supplementation. Just him and me. I still grieved for the loss I felt not breastfeeding my first child. Sometimes I would look at my nursing baby and feel sadness for not having bonded the same way with his older brother. The loss is still sharp sometimes, even almost seven years later, but that’s okay. My youngest nursed for 33 months, weaning himself when he felt ready to do so. It was gentle and bittersweet. Those 33 months were magic, even with the fear and the pain and the frustration and everything, I was able to feed my baby with my body as I always wanted to do and I was triumphant in that success.
Breastfeeding is not always easy. I had created this expectation of natural and instinctual simplicity by observing the women closest to me when I should have been talking to them. I wish I had talked to more women, heard more stories, been able to follow more journies, been exposed to a more diverse set of experiences. I wish I’d given myself and my son more grace, more time to figure out what we were doing. I wish I had people in my life tell me that it was hard, but that hard was okay.
My nursing days are far behind me now but I still share my story with those who wish to listen. Because I don’t want them to learn the way that I did that breastfeeding IS hard. But hard is okay.
Holly is mother to two boys and lives outside of Fort Worth, TX. She is the owner and creator of Ginger Jay, a small business specializing in natural products for everyday living. Ginger Jay is committed to using the power of nature to create effective products free from harsh chemicals, designed for everyday living. You can visit Ginger Jay's website or find them on Facebook.
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In honor of National Breastfeeding Month in the US, I reached out to mom friends and asked them to share their breastfeeding stories. As with all new skills, there is a learning curve with breastfeeding. Sometimes our paths don't start as easily as we thought they would. Here is Allie's breastfeeding story.
I’ll start off with a little back story. 13 years ago, I was 17 years old trying to nurse my daughter. I had no help. I didn’t read any books, and the internet was fairly new to me. She wouldn’t latch. No matter how hard I tried, she wouldn’t do it. There were no nipple shields then either. It sounds like I was living in the dark ages, and I felt like I was. 17 year old me decided pumping would be better than nothing. Also, 17 year old me had no concept of keeping a schedule for pumping. I got mastitis. Twice. I listened to the doctors who told me I needed to stop breastfeeding. So I did. Breastfeeding lasted all of 6 weeks for me, back in 2003. Almost 30 year old me is really proud of that 17 year old girl. She didn’t have to even try, but she did. Good for her!
Continue with me on my journey, to 2014. I’m older, wiser! I’m pregnant with my second child and ready to totally rock this breastfeeding thing! I bought books, I read articles on the internet. I bought nipple shields for my difficult flat nipples! Everything was going to work out this time! Right?
Wrong. Well, partially wrong. See, I watched so many women in my life just effortlessly nurse their babies. It seemed to just come natural to them. It looked seamless and easy. The truth is, it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. It is natural by definition, but it certainly isn’t easy.
Rhodes was born on November 20, 2014, at home in our bed. The whole experience was empowering. There was nothing I felt I couldn’t do, until I tried to latch him. Then all of the memories of trying to latch my daughter came back to me. It was hard, it wasn’t happening. Over the next few days I remember feeling so defeated. How could this happen again? I was so ready this time! Turns out, little tiny newborn mouths are super difficult to work with, especially in combination with flat nipples. I couldn’t even get the hang of a shield. In a moment of sheer desperation and exhaustion I fixed him 1 ounce of formula. I relaxed, he relaxed. I decided if nothing else, I could pump. My husband and I slept in shifts. What little colostrum I could pump, I did. I’d pour it into a bottle, hand it to my husband and then sleep for another hour or two until I had to wake up and pump again. We weren’t getting ahead of him. Sometimes it was a rush job. I would pump just enough to satiate him, hand over the bottle and pump some more. Finally my milk came in and I got a bottle ahead of him! I formulated a plan to start exclusively pumping. I knew it wasn’t ideal and it wasn’t really what I wanted. His well-being was my number one priority. I told myself I would do it for a year. I could do anything I set my mind to. I wouldn’t get mastitis because I knew what I was doing this time. He took a bottle like a champ. At least once a day, I would try to get him to latch, either with a shield, or without. No dice. This lasted for a week. At the time, it felt like an eternity.
I had my husband drive us to Target when Rhodes was about a week old. We stayed in the car and I asked him to buy every shield that Target sold. The brand I was using wasn’t working for me. Through some internet sleuthing I found that not all shields are created equal. I still hadn’t given up. Rhodes was hungry and I didn’t have a bottle with me in the Target parking lot. I opened up one of the new shields (I didn’t sterilize it! Gasp!) and tried it. HE LATCHED! HE STAYED LATCHED. He was doing it!
We were doing it! I cried. I was convinced it was a fluke. It wasn’t. That shield saved my breastfeeding relationship with my son. I had 5 of them on hand, at all times. I had a whole drying and cleaning system for them. They were next to me on the couch, in my bed. Everywhere I was, there was a nipple shield nearby. When Rhodes got bigger, I started trying to wean him from the shield. It didn’t take long before he was nursing without it and I felt like I had won the biggest award of my life.
Rhodes is now 20 months old, and he still nurses every day with no end in sight. There are days when I feel like he’s going to twist my nipple off. There are days when he’s bitten me hard. There are days I hate breastfeeding. But the majority of days I look at him snuggled up to me, and I am so proud and happy we have come this far. We did it together.
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I know of PinkBlush as a line of affordable and stylish maternity dresses and nursing clothing. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that they also offer women's clothes, too. The icing on the fashionable cake was that they have an entire separate plus sized section: for maternity, nursing, and beyond! While my maternity dress days are over, I'm still in need of stylish breastfeeding friendly clothes that I can wear after my nursling weans.
I am thrilled to collaborate with a brand that makes motherhood look so good. PinkBlush's clothing can last you for years after pregnancy. This trendy online boutique features stylish maternity clothing, of which many items are nursing friendly. Once the breastfeeding days are done, the clothes can easily be incorporated into a daily wardrobe.
This floral wrap dress is very versatile - fancy enough to wear on date night or to work, but easy to dress down. I put it on and instantly felt put together, which is perfect for a busy mom like me. The wrap style makes it breastfeeding friendly, which is always a plus for me. I love that this dress can easily transition through different seasons of life. It would look great with a baby bump, stylish while breastfeeding, and fashionable while chasing toddlers!
I did not receive any compensation to promote this giveaway. While I was gifted the dress pictured above, all opinions are my own and have not been influenced by the sponsor. For more information, please refer to this site's disclosure policy. This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or associated with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media platform. PinkBlush will not be able to issue a gift card to the person drawn if they have won previously in the last 3 months.
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