In Honor of World Milk-sharing Week 2011

When I was pregnant with Eli I thought that breastfeeding would be easy. I read a lot of breastfeeding guides and they all stressed how much simpler it is compared to the inconvenience and expense of using formula. Just lift your shirt, right?

While I am an ardent proponent of breastfeeding, in my experience it was anything but easy to get started. In addition to the nipple pain that is so common during the first few weeks, aggravated by Eli’s pitt bull latch, I never experienced my milk “coming in”. I produced milk, but only in small quantities. Hearing your child cry in hunger and not being able to meet their need produces an anxiety unlike any I had experienced before. It wasn’t long before I was giving formula to the child I had sworn would be breastfed only. In hindsight, I so wish we hadn’t as he quickly developed a cow’s milk allergy that to date hasn’t yet been outgrown. We tried the so-called hypoallergenic formula, but he still developed a body rash and it brought on a painful relfux condition that lasted for months. At this point we were just speculating about the problem being an allergy to cow’s milk. I didn’t know what to do. I felt horrible giving my baby formula that made him sick, but when I didn’t he was so hungry and miserable, even with me pumping every 2 hours around the clock, going in for acupuncture and taking many herbal supplements to increase my production. We didn’t want to use soy and at $3 an ounce couldn’t afford to use the local milk bank.

Thankfully, my friend Blanca gave birth just 6 weeks after Eli was born. When her milk came in she had much more than her son could drink and rather than pump and dump she passed that milk on to us. It was a God-send. We could easily compare how Eli was when supplemented with breastmilk to his reaction the days he received formula.I knew about Blanca’s lifestyle and knew she’d had all of the various tests that I had had during pregnancy. I had absolutely no reservations about giving her milk to my son.  As her supply adjusted to meet the needs of her child she no longer had extra to pass on, but by then we had figured out that we could supplement with a homemade goat’s milk formula and my own supply was slowly (oh so slowly!) increasing.

Once Eli started eating solid foods at 6 months the pressure to produce, produce, produce was off and I was able to finally just enjoy the nursing experience. I do wish I produced a bit more so that I could turn around and share with other families that are in need as we were. Now that I know about such informal milk-sharing groups as Eats on Feets and Human Milk 4 Human Babies perhaps if we have another child I will be in a position to be a donor. Or if I have trouble once again I now know of these sources of help.

In some Middle Eastern cultures if a woman nurses another mother’s baby the two are considered to be related as though they were blood relatives. Her other children are henceforth that child’s siblings. I told Blanca about this and she seemed pleased. I know there will always be a very special place in my heart for this woman who quite literally gave of herself to help us out when we were at wit’s end.

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Car Seat Shoulder Pad Tutorial

One of our son’s car seats came with little pads that protect his neck from being rubbed by the shoulder straps. The other didn’t. So we have been moving the pads back and forth between the cars… when we remembered.

The other day I drove home from the park with Eli wailing in the back seat the whole way home. I thought he was just over tired and miffed about leaving the park. When we arrived home I saw the two angry long red marks across the side of his neck and Mother Guilt set in. I’d been telling myself I should make a second pair of shoulder strap pads for weeks but hadn’t gotten around to it. This day during nap time I did.

Here’s how:

Make sure your little one is fast asleep.

Trace another pad onto a scrap of soft cloth. If you don’t have a pad to trace mine measured   5 3/4″ X 4″  with curved corners. I used pen to mark my fabric as the edge will be covered with a bias tape binding when finished.

You could use thin cotton batting for the inner part of the cloth sandwich, but I used 2 additional pieces of the same cloth for each side. These are the exact same size as the top piece of fabric.

A final piece of identically sized and shaped fabric is needed for the bottom layer. I used some fabric from an old shirt so it would slide easily along the seat belt.

Cut strips of velcro to cover each end of the bottom fabric and pin in place.

Sew inner edge only. The other edges will be sewn in place later.

Pile your fabric pieces into sandwiches. Here you see the top side of one assembled pad and the bottom side of another.

Pin together.

I used a walking foot so that the many layers of fabric wouldn’t shift while I sewed.

Trim around the edges.

Quilt a circle around the inside of the pad. I should have premarked a sewing line, but I was racing to finish before Eli woke up. You will see my finished quilting is a little wonky.

Now pin some double fold bias tape to the underside around the perimeter of the pad. When sewing it down be careful to not catch the other side underneath as I did here.

I forgot to photograph sewing the other side of the binding on, but basically you fold it around, pinning it as you go. Fold end of the bias tape back on itself before pinning it down so no raw edges are exposed in the finished pad. Sew around and you are finished. Your end result will be much neater than mine if you don’t hurry like I did. But in the end I was happy with these because they are utilitarian and I just wanted them DONE before sticking my kid in the car seat again!

Letter to Eli, 18 Months

 

This post is now almost a month old. It has taken me longer to find a blog home than I imagined, but now that we are here I wanted to make sure this post didn’t get lost in the shuffle.

Dear Eli,

 

Two days ago you turned 18 months old, a year and a half. I gotta tell you, you never cease to amaze me! Every week you are able to do so much more than the week before. It seems that everyday your father and I are pointing out to each other some new aspect of your development.

 

Lately you have grown so affectionate! Not that we ever doubted that you loved us back, but you have always been too “on-the-go” for cuddling. Soon after you were born I read that when a mother kisses her baby she is picking up all the germs he is being exposed to and will then be able to give him antibodies to those very same germs in her milk.  Before reading that I kissed you and worried that maybe I was exposing you to my germs, but after… Let’s just say you have been pretty much constantly kissed since then. I especially can’t keep myself from kissing the top of your noggin when I carry you in the Ergo. I have wondered from time to time if were you able to speak you’d be saying, “Enough with all of the smooches, Mom!”

 

But now you are the one who is constantly kissing. You kiss me. You kiss your daddy. You kiss your own reflection in the window or mirror. You kiss your toys. You even kissed a photograph of the hind end of a dog in the magazine on the airplane. Multiple times! And your not even all that certain that you like dogs yet! That’s how much kissing you are doing.


 

You are a boy who loves adventure. You love to get out of the house and explore. Your daddy will often take you in the jogging stroller when he goes running during his lunch break and the two of you usually end up rambling around the park. When it is time to leave with him you can’t wait to get out the door and then you proudly turn around and wave goodbye to me. (Gone are the days when I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without you crying as though your heart would break!)

 

We are now in Washington State visiting our cousin Sherie and her family. The day before we left I was packing the suitcases and you knew something BIG was happening. You were so excited that you wouldn’t go to sleep until midnight, and then you woke up every hour until we had to get you up at 5:30 because we had a plane to catch. We expected you to sleep in the car on the drive to the Los Angeles airport, but you stayed awake almost the entire way looking out the window with a half smile on your face. Then we expected you to sleep on the first plane ride to San Fransisco, or at least to be super cranky. But no, you spent the entire  flight clambering over our laps, “talking” about everything and anything. So then we thought perhaps he will nurse down and nap during our layover, but no… There was an airport to explore, planes to watch, so much to see and touch. After all, this was an ADVENTURE.

 

 

 

One thing I am so enjoying about you right now is that we are communicating. And not as in I am reading your cues, but as in you are letting me know what you want, and even sometimes what you are thinking about by using signs. You now have a vocabulary of 23 signs and pick up more each week. Today when asked you told me you wanted a bath. That’s not a sign we’ve been using, but you learned it on your Baby Signing Time DVD. I love it when you surprise me by showing me new words you have learned. Since you were born I have wished I knew what you were thinking. Now my wish is beginning to come true.


 

It is amazing to me that at 18 months old you sign “thank you” at the appropriate time without being prompted. You have your own way of doing it by kissing your hand before bringing it down. I think the throwing a kiss thank you is a great improvement over the kiss-free variety! You are also pretty good about signing “please”.

 

You are also starting to talk as well. A couple a weeks ago you began to say the word that melts a mother’s heart, “Mama”. At first it was “Amamama!”, but soon you had it down to just “mama”. Now you often say it right when you finish nursing. And oh, how I love to hear it! You are also saying “Dada” now as well.

 

I love you so very, very, very much!

 

Mama