#WBW My Breastfeeding Journey

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Breastfeeding . . .  13 months and going

This journey has been beautiful (and difficult at times) with both children. Both unique experiences, both I wouldn’t regret. When Tali was born, I didn’t have many friends with children. I didn’t know a lot about breastfeeding. I had little support. I wanted to quit. It was awkward. It was lonely at times. I had a hard time getting her to latch. My milk didn’t come in for 5 days. But one mommy was brave, messaged me on FB, told me about the benefits, and told me I can do it! I then committed to a year right then and there. I went back to work when she was 4 weeks old, and I pumped. Pumping was lonely. The stress to keep my supply was sometimes overwhelming. But those moments in the night made it all worth it. Tali was on mostly half formula and half breastmilk for her whole life. Tali weened herself around 6 to 9 months (cause she didn’t want to be held, cuddle, lol). She refused to nurse. So I’d hold a bottle of breastmilk for her to take, while pumping. Her one-year-old birthday was the last time I nursed her (she actually let me that morning.)

With Parker, I was ready for this journey. I knew I wanted to try again. I was armed with a LOT of knowledge, support, and techniques. I know about supply and demand. I knew about all the most recent research and articles that have surfaced about STEM cells, immune support, antibodies, probiotics, and more. For about 9 months I provided fully breastmilk, even after returning to work. And up to 13 months, he’s still mostly breastmilk fed with occasional formula. But, I had weeks where it hurt so bad I cried when he nursed. I had moments I wanted to give up to have more help and freedom. But, it’s been worth it. With Parker’s conditions (kidneys and ears), I’ve provided him to the best of my ability what his body needs to fight off any infections and to grow strong. One year now, and I think I’ll just keep going. ❤

IMG_1861I love snuggling my babies close. I love watching them nurse, watching them study my eyes. I love their little hands on my skin. I love providing for them. I love feeling their chest rise and fall with each breath. I love how I can calm them in seconds at my chest. I’m amazed how the Lord made our bodies – to grow, house, birth, then nurture.

I know this journey isn’t easy for everyone, isn’t beautiful, isn’t encouraging. I know that for some reason or another, mamas have chosen not to. And that’s okay. ❤ Don’t let this post be one to make you question your choices – or make you feel I would. You’re the mama. You know what’s best for you.

And this picture, it’s of a mama feeding her baby. It’s beautiful. There’s nothing here to hide.

A little of your time, mommy

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Tali broke my heart last night. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

One of the most difficult jobs a mommy has is balance: balancing career, mommyhood, cleaning, cooking, time with your husband, self care, quiet time, and everything else.

Different days have different sacrifices; sometimes our family is put on hold for work crises. And other times work is put aside for quality time with the people that matter most. Other times, we assume what our child wants most only to be reminded that the simplicity of their wish comes down to desiring our love, attention, and affirmation.

Yesterday morning, I left the house while Tali was still asleep and went to work, the usual. Work was busy, satisfying, and fulfilling. After work, I met Tali (daughter), Tucker (my husband), and Parker (son) at community group, an event we have every Tuesday night with our closest friends. We share a meal, the adults talk pleasantries, and the kids play; they play HARD. These kids have known each other their whole life.

After we got home, after what I would consider a long, satisfying day, I told Tali we need to get ready for bed. (It was about 9:00 PM).

Tali then suddenly cried, “Mommy, why haven’t you played with me today?” I opened my mouth to explain how we’d talked in the car on the way home and how she played with her friends tonight and had fun and how it’s late, but the words just felt empty to her emotional plea. “Mommy, I want to play with YOU, don’t you want to play with me?”

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Even after playing with her friends, spending time with daddy and Parker all day, what she really needed to feel satisfied was a little bit of my time, a little memory and token of my affection to carry her off to sleep that night.

In that moment, I didn’t know what to do. We’d been up really late the night before. I was exhausted and still needed to get her baby brother down for bed. If I gave her “10 more minutes” to play then it would turn into “ . . . but last night you played with me!”

Instead I hugged her, told her “Mommy is so sorry. I love playing with you. Tonight though we played with our friends and now it’s bedtime. How about mommy reading you a book?”

That moment really stuck in my mind, and has all morning. I think I’ll even ponder on its meaning for a few years, while Tali probably woke up without even a glimmer of it.

Our babies need us. They need our time. They need us to put down our email. Put down our phone. Place the world aside to show them that they are worth our undivided attention. Keeping them “happy” and “busy” with playdates and activities and other things aren’t enough. They need US. They simply need us.

And honestly, we need them too. We need them to remind us what’s most important in life. It’s the people in front of us. It’s the simple things in life.

Miscarriage: My Story, No Details Spared

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October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month. This month I remember my sweet angel baby Jordyn that we lost so suddenly in March of 2016.

It’s taken me over a year to publish this story that I wrote shortly after we miscarried. The details were too graphic, and the pain was still fresh. I knew when I wrote it that I had the intention to make it public, but couldn’t bring myself to do it yet. I share with you something that is so deeply personal and vulnerable because I want those who haven’t walked through miscarriage to understand what miscarriage entails, and I want those who have walked through it to know you aren’t alone in the details. 

Here is my story, raw and unpolished:


The last beat of his heart sounded while my body cradled his; at one point two heartbeats from within the chambers of my body, and then one; when his last one faded, mine continued, rocking him into heavenly slumber. Perhaps I was sitting laughing with my husband unaware of this event when it occurred. Perhaps I lay dreaming of holding him. It still haunts me that such an event occurred without notice, without pause. Life continued as another one passed.

IMG_6699Three weeks ago, I heard his heartbeat for the first time in an ultrasound. It was beautiful and strong. I was given “Congratulations! A healthy baby!” and sent home. Life continued. We dreamed. We prepared. We hung my pregnancy clothes.

Sunday night while I slept, I dreamt that I was forced to move into a new home. This new home was anything but welcoming; it was dark and cold. A murder had been committed there, and left. I was faced with the task to clean it up by myself before I could move in, and tell no one of what happened. The feeling of heaviness, of darkness, of fear, of suffering was full upon me faced with this morbid task. I would be forced to live in that house with the memory of what I saw. Trembling, with a cleaning pail and rubber gloves, I entered the cold, dark, quiet house anticipating what I was about to see. Entering, I gasped and fell to my knees weeping, body parts illuminated in pale light.

I then awoke to intense pain in my lower body, and headed to the bathroom. I sat down, and found blood in my underwear. Just a spot. Being 11 weeks pregnant, I immediately began weeping uncontrollably, although unaware of what it fully could mean. Blood isn’t good. Gathering myself, I stumbled into our room where Tucker was asleep. He awoke hearing my sobs and asked if everything was okay and when I didn’t respond, he got up and followed me into the bathroom where I showed him — he embraced me while I wept. Tucker reminded me that we didn’t know anything yet – and there was so little blood. In that moment, I felt so helpless. I couldn’t check on my baby. I couldn’t comfort him. And if it was miscarriage, I was powerless to stop it. I ended up staying up most of the night in tears. Tucker and I went to the living room around 3am and tried to watch a movie to distract us – and wait. Wait to see if more blood came.

That morning, no new blood came. We called the doctor and I described what I had experienced and she told me that it was nothing to be concerned about – that a small amount a blood was normal and to rest and drink plenty of fluids. Suddenly the dark gloom lifted, lingering, but lifted. I excitedly told Tucker that everything would be okay and I rubbed my belly, smiling, cradling my baby. We couldn’t have been more happy to hear our little child was still there and okay, although I was still having some painful cramping. I told work that I was “sick” and stayed home tending to Tali and going about a semi-normal day.

Things took a turn for the worst around 9pm that evening (my daughter was already in bed asleep) – it was sudden and unexpected. I had invited my mother over to watch The Bachelorette, and shipped Tucker off to be with my dad to watch the game. The evening was beautiful and uplifting until that telling moment I’ll never forget: I laughed and felt a rush of fluid come — and continue to, every time I moved, every time I talked, with every step. I immediately knew – and my heart sank deeper than I’ve ever felt before. All hope drained from me, all the light was gone. I knew our baby was no longer alive. A heart no longer beating – that seconds ago I took for granted that it was. And my body still held onto his lifeless one.

Tucker wasn’t home and I texted him to come home, and told my mom I was tired and needed to rest. I stayed strong until she left because I wanted to first process the emotion with my husband. I was already wearing a pad just in case from the previous incident, and now found myself paralyzed with fear and sadness. I couldn’t look, couldn’t check – I didn’t want to face what was happening. I went to our bed and curled up in the fetal position, and absolutely fell apart. I wept uncontrollably as more blood continued to come – it never let up. Tucker came home about ten minutes later and found me in the bed. He immediately curled up behind me and wrapped his arms around me, comforting me, holding me, a moment of knowing silence hung in the air. I told him between sobs that I didn’t want to look. I didn’t want to see. I didn’t want to look. I didn’t want to look. While sobbing I continued to repeat it. But, I knew I had to or I would get blood on my pants and bed. He helped me to the bathroom as my body continued to painfully contract. I felt the same anxiety as I did in my dream Sunday night, and I wasn’t prepared to face it. To see blood. I wasn’t prepared to see the proof of what I feared. A nightmare that I couldn’t wake from. I sat on the toilet and saw that the pad was full of bright red blood – new blood — a sign of miscarriage. My whole body began shaking as I now faced what was happening. It was real. My baby was gone. My womb held no life, but just a body. I continued weeping, sobbing. And I sat… as blood continued to pour out along with tissue with each sob.

Image04I sobbed for so many things: for the loss of hope. For the loss of opportunity. For the loss of memories I expected to make. For the pain. The pain of labor. For the graphic nature of this moment. For the unknown: the image of my child’s body floating somewhere, unknown, unseen, in human waste, in a cold dark sewer system, forgotten, abandoned, rejected by the body. Dear Lord, I just wanted to hold him. I just wanted to hold her once.

I fixated on this idea. Where is my baby? Where is my child?

Tucker ended up calling my doctor and we ended up at the hospital because the pain became unbearable. When I arrived, there were happy faces. There were people awaiting news in the waiting room of a blessed new life. The nurses tried to reassure me that my symptoms didn’t necessarily mean miscarriage. But, I knew. I knew before they knew.

Once we were admitted, they asked about the clots I passed. They asked if there was evidence still left in the toilet that I used. They asked about my pain. They hooked me up to machines. They used an ultrasound machine. They entered my body and used an internal ultrasound. The privacy of that moment, the vulnerability of that moment felt invaded by machines and strangers and objects. The loss of life corresponded with a loss of privacy — and the peaceful, familiar space to pause and process and reflect and pray was gone.

They turned the monitor away out of my sight, and walked out to discuss. They confirmed no heartbeat, and with that, the last bit of unrealistic hope I had was crushed. They told me that “stuff” was still passing and that they needed to ask my doctor if I needed to stay overnight, have a surgery, or wait it out.

Instead they offered me a pill and had us go home. We drove slowly. We cried. We stopped for food to delay return. We walked into the house, and I didn’t want to say anything to my parents that waited with my daughter. I had no more words.

We arrived home that night around 2am, and a few hours later, Tucker had to get ready and go to work – life, responsibilities, and time continuing forward, unforgiving of human life or suffering, leaving no room for rest or processing.

Having no experience with miscarriage, and not having spoken to a mom that went through miscarriage, I didn’t understand that my body was in labor. I didn’t understand what “surgery” entailed. I didn’t know what my little pill was. I didn’t know that the “stuff” spoken of was my child. To me, my child was never just “stuff” — nor was his remains. When I went to the hospital, no one educated me. No one spoke about options. No one asked me what I wanted. No one explained what would happen next.

Three days later, my child arrived into the world. That morning I had thought about going to work because processing the pain alone at home was worse than continuing in routine tasks. Luckily, I decided to stay home one more day. I didn’t know that that “stuff” that would pass on its own was code for my child’s body. And, I had no idea that when you miscarry, you labor and pass your child — depending how far along — whole and recognizable. That afternoon my body started painfully contracting and I left for the bathroom. Something larger passed, and all the pain I had been feeling suddenly and immediately lifted and was gone. In fact, I felt peace. I immediately recognized the meaning of this moment. I knew what had happened and what I passed. I was so unprepared. No one told me this would happen. No one told me what to do next.

I couldn’t bring myself to flush the toilet. I couldn’t bring myself to not look upon my child’s face. But I sat, frozen. Am I crazy? Am I crazy to want to hold him? Is that not what I wanted? I had fixated on not knowing where my baby was, and sobbed over the idea of him each night. Isn’t this a redeeming moment?

IMG_0154I retrieved his sweet little body, and kept him. I held him. And for a moment, all life paused. My angel. I told Tucker the news, and we decided to buy a Japanese Maple Tree and burry our beloved under the tree. We named our child Jordyn Eden, and said our final goodbye that weekend — peace came over us. Closure came. And closure came as I spoke to other mothers to find out that this experience, and how we sought closure, was common. Other mothers, in utter shock, flushed the remains and then felt guilt and shame, never feeling that they had the chance to say goodbye. For these parents, some sought closure by writing a letter to their loved one and burying it instead, or perhaps placing rose petals into the water that the baby was born into, and sending it away the same way their child left them. Either way, there is no wrong way to say goodbye. There is no closure that comes close to ending our pain or mourning. There is only acceptance, and reflection, and prayer, and community, and faith, and moving forward when everything in us wants to go back, go back to that beating heartbeat, to the double lines on a pregnancy test.

We enter into a community of motherhood we never expected to or wished to, but in it we found love, and peace, and hope, and remembrance. Although to so many people this little life never was, to us they were, and they are, and they continue, even if only in our heart.


 

 

VBAC with my Rainbow Baby

 

19366125_1319960171434218_3113168639535279117_n.jpgI’m so thrilled to announce to you all that my son was born on June 21st at 8lbs 8 oz, 21.5 inches long by a SUCCESSFUL VBAC! It couldn’t have been a more beautiful moment, not only my rainbow baby but a beautifully smooth birth. It was everything AND MORE than I imagined that birth could and should be.

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I made the decision to VBAC around a month before my son was born. I was always interested in this procedure but wasn’t well enough educated on the procedure to be comfortable with it. I ended up going to the chiropractor* due to my hip hurting, and this chiropractor was well educated in natural labor and birth and had SO MANY local connections with doulas, birthing centers, midwives, and more. He simply spoke to me about VBACs, telling me it was never too late. Of course I thought this was silly, but suddenly my heart ached for a normal birth after the trauma of my C-Section. I knew birth was meant to be so much more, and so much more beautiful.

Long story short, I hired a doula*, continued seeing the chiropractor* certified in the Webster technique, changed hospitals (to a VBAC friendly one), switched doctors (to one well known in the VBAC community), and began doing acupuncture* weekly to prep my body. At home, I daily did exercises to move baby into optimal position and engage baby in my pelvis to increase my chances of a vaginal birth, and I continued my regular exercise routine that included cardio and weight training.

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All of this was a month before I was due. (But we made it happen!)

All of this was after I was diagnosed with “failure to progress” and told that my body probably couldn’t go into labor on its own. (It did – and did strongly and on time!)

All of this was after I let go of the fear and the unknown. (Fear keeps us from our dreams.)

All of this was while working full time. (My job was so amazing in allowing me all of these appointments!)

 

And now I have this precious, squishy little newborn boy to love on. And a healed memory of birth.


1st Photo: Taken by doula

2nd Photo: Candace Williams Photography

3rd Photo: Haley Kinzie Photography

*If you are a local individual and want the contact information for these photographers, doula, chiropractor, doctor, or acupuncturist, PLEASE let me know! I’d love to recommend them. I’ve excluded their names for my own privacy.

 

Motherhood: Finding Common Ground Beyond the Labels and Mom Tribes

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Hi Crunchy Mamas! Hello Vaxers and Nonvaxers! Hi fit mommy, stay-at-home mom, working mom, formula and breastfeeding moms! Hi public school or homeschooling mommies! Hi adoption and foster moms! Hi homosexual and heterosexual mommies! Hi secular and religious mommies! Hi helicopter and hands-off mommies!

You know what’s beautiful? We all have something in common: motherhood.

The first time we laid eyes on our baby. The heartbreak of experiencing a sick little, helpless one. The heartbreak of miscarriage. The feeling of being inadequate and questioning our role, questioning if we give them everything we can. The ever-lasting battle of life balance. Of watching our bodies change. The beauty and awe watching our baby peacefully sleep in our arms….

When we start here, at this common ground, we start a REAL conversation. We recognize each other as mommies first, not the titles above. We recognize the love, gentleness, thoughtfulness, and life experiences that shape us, that shape our decisions (decisions that even we question while in our firmness advocating for them).

I want to hear why you don’t vaccinate, even when I choose to. I want to hear about healthy eating and how it would benefit my child, even though I eat… McDonald’s . I want to hear why you’ve chosen to homeschool, while I will go to work each day and send my kid to public school.

Because I believe these conversations are important. I think these conversations expand our worldview and help us relate as mothers. I think these conversations help us break down barriers and remind us that we are all working toward being better: for ourselves, for our babies, for society.

We have different views, yes, and we always will. But name calling, putting each other down, snubbing, etc. doesn’t solve anything. It doesn’t open ears or eyes. It doesn’t empower. It doesn’t encourage. It isn’t inspirational. And wisdom doesn’t come from that place. Growth doesn’t start there.

And I’m not even sure I’m advocating that we can’t be frustrated at certain views! But unfortunately most people end the conversation from frustration, instead of letting frustration be the springboard toward dialogue and much needed conversation! Frustration should be the start of conversation, not the end! We have so so much in common beyond these labels!

There’s so much beauty in those we can’t possibly agree with, just start the conversation. And listen.

Listen to the heart first, not the label.

The Working Mom: Tonight I can’t ‘do it all, be it all’

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Let’s be honest. As working moms, there is SO much pressure on us to perform the impossible: be a dedicated employee staying late, but be the dedicated mom that leaves work early to not miss one ballet performance. And you know what? I’m not buying it. There is no such thing as balance. As working moms, we manage, and do our best as an employee, a parent, a student, a wife, a friend, an athlete, a volunteer, and the countless other things we are and do. But, even knowing there’s no such thing as balance doesn’t relieve us of the guilt we feel to do it all and be it all.

I wake up. See my daughter for about 15 minutes. Commute to work. Stay at work late. Get home late. See my daughter a couple hours. Get my daughter to bed late. Eat late. Clean up late. Pay bills late. And fall asleep sitting on the couch trying to make time for my husband.

Let me just tell you how my “balance” has gone these last few weeks:

– Most nights I go to bed late late because I get home at 7pm after picking my daughter up, and I still need to cook, feed her, spend time with her, and get her in the bath and off to bed. Then, after bedtime, begins the “adult” stuff like bills, cleaning, organizing, etc.

– Last night I was up a lot because my child wanted milk, and my husband was sick.

– This morning I got up early to check my work email, try to remember to put stamps on the bills, water the garden, and get ready before my daughter woke up.

– This morning I struggled to stay awake on my drive to work.

– The last few weeks I’ve been working overtime about three nights a week.

– The last few weeks I’ve forgotten bills, car oil replacements, lunch dates, doctor appts. and more because the overwhelmingly long checklist in my head and the few hours I have to fulfill them.

– The last few weeks I couldn’t sleep because I had a cold and my hips hurt when I lay down due to pregnancy and being in the third trimester.

Y’all, I’m exhausted.

They say…

“They” say I need to cook healthy and meal plan (that’s how to love my family and stay on a budget). They say I should go to bed early and get rest (if I want to take care of myself). They say I need to exercise every day (that’s to stay fit). They say I need to practice a hobby every day (that’s for future growth). They say I should be there for my family, but I should also stay late to meet a deadline (to be both a good mom and employee). They say I should limit my kid’s technology time (as a responsible adult). They say I should have her potty trained (if I’m any kind of parent…). They say I should move into a good home in a good neighborhood, but I should also not spend too much on a house loan and be saving money (for the future of my family).

Tonight, I can’t “be it all, do it all.”

Tonight I’ll eat pizza or mac and cheese because I stayed at work late and hadn’t had time this week to meal plan.

Tonight I’ll add water to the soap to make it last a few more days because I can’t seem to remember to buy any when I DO finally make it to buy groceries.

Tonight I’ll let my daughter play on the iPad past her bedtime because emotionally I need a little quiet time before trying to get her to bed.

Tonight I’ll sit in my chair and cry once she goes to bed, because I was too stern with her the third time she wanted her diaper changed in 15 minutes, but yet I hadn’t seen her all day and should have spent time loving on her.

Tonight, I’ll know that it’s okay, this is normal, and “this too shall pass.” That the hard mixes in with all the good, and the good memories and sweet moments remain as our strength.

The Baby I Wouldn’t Hold Had It Not Been For the Death of The One Before

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I’m now in my third trimester with our sweet little baby boy. I feel all his little kicks, squirms, and wiggles. He’s already showing differences with how he moves and responds to touch than my daughter, my first pregnancy. Our boy is much more squirmy than my daughter was, and is quite active at night (in fact, as I write, I’m also watching my belly move!). And, we’ve FINALLY begun getting the third bedroom set up for him. Now, you can see the floor, and the crib is in place. His clothes are mostly hung in the closet, although I still need to clear my own out… oops. Yes, I’m guilty of taking up part of three closets in the house. (Gotta rotate seasons!)

This morning I cried in the shower. I don’t know why my miscarriage hit me so hard. I was thinking about this sweet little boy in my womb, and then I began thinking about our angel baby Jordyn. I thought about how much I wish I knew him/her, what s/he would have looked like, what s/he would have felt like. Jordyn would be 6 months old by now.

As soon as the thoughts swelled inside my heart about holding and meeting my little Jordyn, I realized that had that longing come true, I wouldn’t be holding this little one this summer. Had it not been for the passing of Jordyn, this little man wouldn’t have been conceived and wouldn’t be making an appearance in the world. His genes would have passed by, never having formed into being. Life almost went on without him; and, yet, I know the moment I see him in a short three months, I won’t be able to imagine life without him.

Once I hold my son, could I really wish Jordyn here? Is it possible to wish for both babies at once, while knowing the reality is it would be one or the other? Absolutely.

I then wondered if Jordyn had been a boy or a girl. I imagined how much different life would have been had Jordyn been a girl and we had two girls instead of the girl and boy we will have now. We’d have a house FULL of ladies! Pinks, purples, dress up clothes, tea parties, nail painting, all things girly. I imagined how my daughter would be the big sissy and would probably play dolls with Jordyn, and, perhaps, as older girls, they’d go out, talk about dates, and perhaps even share clothes.

Now, we will be blessed with both a daughter and a son. There will be batman toys mixed in with Barbie, swords in a dress-up basket with tutus, and muddy tennis shoes laying beside little princess high heels. The bond they share will be just as sweet, but much different than what sisters share. How easily life could have taken another route!

I miss Jordyn. I wish I met Jordyn. On the other hand, I’m so happy to meet this one, and hold him in my arms. I wish for both babies. I both mourn and I celebrate. I can’t help but to feel the sacrifice that Jordyn made to bring this brother here into the world. Without that sacrifice, I’d never have known my son.