Sunday, December 29, 2013

hospital days

This post is long overdue, but I have just now uploaded the pictures from my camera! So, here we are, 2 months later, starting from the beginning. Here are a few photos of my little man at the hospital in his first few moments of life!

first time getting my hair washed!

I love these cute little newborn tops
{i may or may not have helped myself to a few extras on my way out the door}

skin to skin
{labor is NOT glamorous}

going home!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

feeding James.

I have started writing this post a million times, but always end up giving up on it. I struggle when it comes to writing about things that are personal to me, but this time I feel it is important to share my story. For the past two months I have spent countless hours reading blogs, breastfeeding forums, and consulting with my doctor. All of these women have helped me so much along my breastfeeding journey simply by sharing their stories. I would like to do the same in hopes that what I have been through (and continue to go through) will bring someone else comfort or insight.

I have been exclusively pumping breast milk since James was 3 weeks old. Even now I feel like this is something that I admit with a hint of shame. I wanted breastfeeding to work for me and James so badly, but it just wasn't working. James had a poor latch due to my flat nipples, and even when he would latch with the use of a nipple shield he wouldn't nurse for long due to my low milk supply. For a few weeks it seemed as if anything that could go wrong, did. My lactation consultant had advised me to breastfeed 15 minutes each side, then pump 15 minutes each side, then feed a bottle of pumped milk back to my baby, then top him off with formula. I was to repeat this method every 2 hours in hopes that my milk supply would increase. After 2 weeks of this 24 hour regime, I was about ready to lose it. I wanted so badly for James to have breast milk because I knew that was what was best for him, but at the same time I knew this could not be a long term feeding solution for us (especially when I went back to work). I asked my doctor about exclusively pumping and she agreed that this would be a suitable solution.

For the past 5 weeks I have exclusively pumped breast milk for James, all the while having mixed emotions about it. I have felt anger, at the fact that no matter what, I would never produce enough milk for James. Frustration, at having to be somewhere suitable for pumping every 3 hours. Judged, by mothers who will never understand what it is like to have a dysfunctional breastfeeding relationship. Blessed, that he does at least get some breast milk, no matter how meager my offering may be. Failure, at my inability to do what so many claim "comes so naturally to mothers." Ashamed, at feeding my baby a bottle of formula in public. Peace, at knowing that NO MATTER WHAT he eats, he is EATING, and THRIVING. Determination, to stick to my goals, my pride, and my mother's intuition.

Let me start out by saying that I am SO grateful that our country is pushing breastfeeding so strongly. I think that is amazing. Breast milk is incredible, it is specially designed for our little one's bodies and fulfills all of their needs. But at the same time, I think all of our education about breastfeeding has left us no room for gray area. We automatically judge mothers who feed their babies formula, give pacifiers and bottles, or heaven forbid, feed them pumped milk. We assume they are being selfish, that they made a conscious decision to deprive their baby of "what is best." But what if instead of seeing a selfish, formula-feeding mother, we see a mother who has a baby with multiple allergies, or works long hours. Instead of a bottle-feeding mother, a mother who has tirelessly pumped milk for her baby, striving to give him what she can. Maybe she has flat or inverted nipples, over active let down or low milk supply. Maybe the baby was underweight, premature, or had tongue-tie. I don't believe there is just one right way to feed our babies. After all, wouldn't we rather have healthy babies, no matter how they are fed? The right feeding relationship is the one that works for mother and baby. Everyone is different, and every relationship is different.

So please, don't feel sorry for me because I pump. What I do is empowering. I give James everything I can, and sometimes that just isn't enough. And you know what? It's okay. He drinks formula 25% of the time and he is one happy, healthy, chunky little dude. We bond in so many ways that work for us and make us happy. And please, think a little more carefully the next time you judge the way a woman feeds her baby, because you never know how many tears she has shed, prayers she has said, and pain she has gone through to make the decision she has made (or sometimes to cope with the decision that nature has made for her).

Eventually I would love to get James back to the breast. But I also have a lot of reservations and fears about doing this. Not a day goes by that I don't pray for my son, for his health, and for my inspiration as his mother. I trust that the Lord will watch over and protect us and guide us to what works best for us. If you are a mother who is struggling with low milk supply, exclusively pumping, or any other breast feeding challenge, I would love to hear from you. I would also love any advice or experiences you would like to share.

Things I have learned about LOW MILK SUPPLY:
- Fenugreek works best when paired with milk thistle. (2 tablets 3x a day of each)
- Pumping works well to fully empty the breast (double electric, hospital grade pumps work best). When the breast is empty, it will produce more.
- Mother's milk tea (I am about to start trying this, I'll keep you updated)
- LOTS of calories and LOTS of water!! (These make the biggest difference in my supply)
- Oatmeal (this one hasn't made much of a difference for me)
- Power pumping! (Pump 10 minutes, rest 10 minutes, repeat for 1-2 hours- I have never tried this because I haven't had time)

Things I have learned about EXCLUSIVE PUMPING:
- Car adapters ROCK my world and make running errands bearable
- Pacifier wipes allow for quick, easy, and hygienic cleaning of pump parts
- Check pump flanges and replace every 3-6 months (they greatly influence suction)
- Massage encourages relaxation- more milk from pumping!
- Sometimes pumping longer than 15 minutes will get you more milk
- Use bottles that are made for infants who breastfeed as well (this will allow you to go back to breastfeeding easier if you so choose. I like Tommy Tippee bottles the best)
- Breast milk stays good at room temperature for 4-6 hours. So don't worry about having to refrigerate your milk if you pump while you are out.
- You can pump almost anywhere by using a nursing cover

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

James' Birth Story

Call me crazy, but I love reading birth stories. There is something so magical about the way babies come in to this world. Forgive me if any part of this post is TMI. After having a child I feel like nothing is sacred or personal anymore, and if any part of our story can help someone else, than the rest of you can put up with all of the "icky" parts. That, and I have trouble understanding why people keep everything hush hush. Life happens, birth happens, and this is our story. ALL of it.

I woke up at around 1 am for my usual 9-month pregnant middle of the night potty break. After doing what I needed to do, I noticed that fluid was still leaking out of me. I decided not to totally panic yet, I mean this baby hadn't acted like he was coming anytime soon, and I wanted to be REALLY sure of what was going on. I waited until my pants were soaked and decided it was time to wake up Rob. I let him know I thought my water had broken and we should probably get ready to go to the hospital. I decided to shower (based on previous advice from friends) while Rob finished packing hospital bags. I texted my mom and off we went to the hospital around 2 am. When we arrived they checked us in, and put us in a room. We sat there for what felt like years, but I am pretty sure it was probably closer to 15 minutes.

Finally a particularly nasty nurse walked in. The first thing she said to me was, "well you aren't sitting in a puddle so I don't think your water actually broke." Bit of advice, don't tell a 9 month pregnant lady in labor that she is lying. It doesn't turn out well. "Well I didn't pee my pants." I responded. She further went on to tell me that sometimes the baby kicks and he could have kicked my bladder and I might have peed my pants without knowing it. Death glare at her. So she decides to "check" to see if my water really broke by using some weird color turning paper. Apparently I failed this test because the color didn't turn blue. She left us there for an hour, came back and repeated the test, still failed. At this point I am totally confused as to what is going on as well, because trust me my bladder does not hold the amount of fluid that came out of me, and I would have known if I peed my pants. Baby induced or not. Next, she decides she is going to feel the sac and see if it is still full of water. I'll spare you the details, but there were hands and pain and crying involved. At which point I dismissed her from my labor experience and asked for another nurse. She asked me if I was sure that is what I wanted. Um yes. Otherwise I wouldn't have said it! My new nurse did the stupid paper test again and then took a sample to look at the cells. By this point I had started into contractions. She came back about 30 minutes later. The bad news: my water had not broken. The good news: they were going to let me stay due to the contractions.

So off we went, I got hooked up to the pitocin to help speed up the contractions. She asked if I wanted my epidural at that time. I decided to wait because I wasn't in a great deal of pain and I felt like I could handle it. 15 minutes later I changed my mind and demanded to see an anesthesiologist STAT. (bit of advice- just get the stinking epidural when you get there.) Unfortunately there weren't many births that night and the anesthesiologist had to be woken up. He came in looking fairly confused and tried to discuss the risks of having an epidural with me. I was starting to get a little worried at this point, after all, this man was about to stick a needle as long as a number 2 pencil in my back. I would feel a little more comfortable if he woke up for a minute. He took a lap around the hospital and then came back to give me the juice. Lucky for me, I got to stay laying down for the epidural. Some anesthesiologists prefer you sit on the edge of the bed and crouch over, I just laid on my side. They gave me a shot of local anesthetic before putting in the epidural. (minor pain- still totally worth it).

Enter happy land. From about 5 am -3 pm not much happened. The epidural worked like a charm, I even got a little button to give me more juice when I wanted it. Mom came and sat with Rob and me and we watched the grass grow. Every once in awhile someone would come in and check my cervix, IV levels, and then walk back out. With the epidural you don't feel the contractions, or anything below your waist for that matter. About half way through baby's heart rate wasn't behaving like they wanted it to, so they stopped the pitocin. Things went pretty slowly after that. They kept checking on him and even placed a probe in his head to monitor his heart rate better. They also placed a probe inside my uterus to monitor my contractions more precisely. I felt like a machine with wires coming out all over me. Finally baby's heart rate stabilized and they started the pitocin again.

Around 3 pm I was dilated to a 10 and they let me know it was time to start practicing pushing. We worked on it for an hour (one very miserable hour) but baby was finally crowning so they called my doctor. Unfortunately my doctor had another baby being born at the same time at a hospital in a different city. So they let me "Rest and descend" for an hour. Apparently that is supposed to help you not have to push so much but I'm calling BS on that one. It was just a way to stall until my doctor could come in.

My doctor got in around 5 pm and suited up for delivery! WOO HOO! I started pushing with all my might. Mom and Rob were great coaches, trying to keep me positive and motivated to get our little man out. Things were going fairly slow still though and I was losing interest. Baby's heart rate started dropping again so they put me on oxygen to help him. I also used a mirror to help me see when I was pushing correctly. (with an epidural its very hard to know how to push since everything is numb- even though its gross, I totally recommend using a mirror). A couple more HUGE pushes and out came baby's head!! I was told immediately to stop pushing because his cord was wrapped around his head and his arm. My doctor quickly clamped the cord off, pulled little man the rest of the way out and rushed him to the NICU team. Baby had swallowed some meconium and had to be suctioned out immediately. My doctor finished with me while baby was taken care of and then weighed and measured. He came out at 8 lbs 9 oz and 21.5 inches long at 5:27 pm! (later we found out 1/2 inch of that was cone head). About 15 minutes later I got to hold him and love on him. Dad and Trent came in the room to join us and we all got to love on baby for about an hour before they moved us to mother and baby.

It had been a very, very long day, and all I wanted was a HUGE glass of ice water. They wouldn't let me eat or drink anything after I checked into the hospital, so it had been 16 hours since I had eaten or drank anything. The nurses kindly got me some water and a sandwich to help me feel a bit better. Rob went with Baby James to the nursery to give him his first bath and to get dressed. He returned to us with the cutest little faux hawk! We stayed up late loving on our little guy but eventually sent him to the nursery so we could get some sleep!

It was one of the most exhausting and trying experiences of my life, but it was so beautiful at the same time. We feel so blessed to have this little man joining our family, and each day since has been filled with so much love. We learn so much each day and I am sure we are making plenty of mistakes, but we love him and that is what matters!

Isn't he just the cutest?!

James Robert Anthony Starling
Born Oct 28th at 5:27 PM
8 pounds, 9 ounces and 21.5 inches long

Sunday, October 20, 2013

little man's nursery

YIKES! Ok so apparently my whole goal of posting at least once a month totally went out the window for September! We have been SO busy getting everything ready for our little man. A huge thank you to everyone who has supported us by attending showers, dropping by gifts, and putting up with our flakey-ness this last month.

Our nursery is finally finished! Originally we used this room as an office, so we had to move some things around in our house. We had to knock out a closet in the guest room (huge thanks to my dad for his help in this matter) in order to create a little "office nook." In the end, I think everything turned out wonderfully! (we even got new carpet a few months ago). Enough with the chit chat, here is our new nursery:

Sunday, August 18, 2013

the last few weeks

My sister was so kind to extend her trip to Utah so that 
we could hang out with her for a WHOLE WEEK after we got back from California.
Talk about a party month!

It was so fun to be able to spend time with my family and love on my nieces and nephew

these little girls LOVE to stick out their tongues!

Baby Zahra loving on Uncle Rob
seriously one of the most precious moments of my life!

My first attempt at uploading a video:
hopefully it works!

After my sister left we went mini golfing and to the batting cages!

San Diego

Our last stop in California was San Diego.
Rob and I went here on our honeymoon 2 years ago, and it was so fun to be back.
(click here to see that post)
I am slightly addicted to the Mexican Food in Old Town, and being pregnant,
San Diego became a necessary stop. 
Again, sorry for the phone pictures.

Visiting the San Diego temple.
Last time we were here we were newlyweds- weird being back at 26 weeks pregnant!

Visiting the Mormon Battalion Historical Site

The boys panning for gold

 Seb feeling like a true soldier

We had such a FUN trip and we feel so blessed we had the opportunity to take this vacation.
HUGE thanks to the many friends who let us crash at their place and get to visit with them!


We decided to make one of our last stops in California at Disneyland.
Even though I knew I wouldn't be able to ride very many of the rides due to my pregnancy,
we wanted to stop anyway because Seb had never been!
I didn't want to take my camera into the park, so enjoy our awesome iphone pictures!

playing toy story

...not to mention I beat Rob... beating Rob, again...

Us riding Winnie the Pooh. 
I had to adjust to riding the more tame rides

PS- we got into Disneyland with discount tickets we bought at an office 
just a few blocks away from Disneyland. We got Park Hoppers for $111 each-
if you are going to Disneyland you should totally do this

The name of the place is Discount Theme Park Tickets
I was totally worried it would be sketchy, but it worked just fine for us
so I can officially give it my stamp of approval!

Santa Barbara

After visiting San Francisco we jumped back on highway 1 and headed South. We spent almost an entire day driving and it was beautiful! We were right next to the coast the whole way and got to enjoy the beautiful water, mist, and rocky beaches. We arrived in Santa Barbara in the early evening and decided to go exploring. We walked out on the pier just as the sun was setting and then headed into the State Street area which had a bunch of shops and restaurants. We loved that little area of the city and decided to have dinner there.

Here are some pictures from our drive:

Sunset in Santa Barbara

Visiting the Santa Barbara Mission

Playing on the beach

Baby Starling at 26 weeks!

We decided to do a kayaking tour around the Santa Barbara Harbor. It was so fun (and hard!).
We started out just kayaking around the boats, then we went under a HUGE Yacht,
out to a sand bar, out to the 1 mile buoy where the sea lions hang out, then back under the pier through all the wooden stilts! 

Rob helping our tour guide, "Guy" load up the kayaks