Sunday, July 7, 2013

Upgrading My Tastes

Many people have asked for more specifics about my weight loss so I thought a follow-up post with more information might be helpful!

Food


First of all, let's talk about food! Enjoying food is very important to me. I can't stick to something when I constantly feel hungry or am battling cravings or feel deprived of foods that I love.

I already covered some basics in my previous post, but here are some great meal ideas - all of which are tried and true here at our house!

Breakfast
Eggs and Bacon
Cottage Cheese with Apple slices or a few grapes
Apple slices dipped in nut butter
Grain Free Pancakes
Bacon and Egg Stuffed Avocado
A variety of frittata recipes.
"Egg Muffins"
Paleo "cereal"
Eggs with tomato and avocado (or homemade guac)
Crust-less Quiche
Poached Eggs, Over Greens, with Hollandaise Sauce

Lunch
Egg, Avocado, and Tomato Salad
"Sandwiches" made with thinly sliced apples instead of bread.
"Sandwiches" made with cucumber slices instead of bread.
Chicken Salad wrapped in Lettuce
Various meat/cheese/veggies wrapped in lettuce
A salad with deviled eggs on the side.
Chicken salad with a small serving of cheese cubes and a small serving of grapes on the side.
Avocado Egg Salad served on spinach (or any variety of greens)
Cucumber Salad

Dinner + Sides
Portabella Pizza Bites
Naked Chicken Fajitas
Stuffed Pork Chops
Stuffed Peppers
Sauteed Brussel Sprouts with Bacon
Balsamic Marinated Tomatoes
Grain-Free Almond Flax Bread
Bacon, Avocado, and Tomato Wraps
Spinach-stuffed Chicken With Bacon
Spaghetti Squash, Sundried Tomatoes, Peas, Broccoli, and Grilled Chicken
Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Apple Skillet
Mozzarella and Goat Cheese stuffed Turkey Burgers
Creamy Garlic Spaghetti Squash
Crispy Coconut Chicken
Crockpot Chicken with Vegetables
Crockpot Chicken Soup (leave out the noodles, add more veggies)
Meatloaf and Fried Green Tomatoes

Snacks
Celery and nut-butter
Avocado, egg, and tuna salad (Spread on cucumber slices or on a bed of greens.)
A small serving of almonds, blueberries, and cheese.
Peanut-butter Yogurt Dip (serve with fresh fruit)
Cucumber "Sandwiches"
Apple slices with cheese or peanut-butter
Apple "Sandwiches"

Desserts
A small bowl of low/no sugar ice cream (or Clemmy's) with a drizzle of almond butter or "Magic Shell" usually fits the bill, but not always... ;)
Lily's chocolate is another go-to for me. Sometimes I just need a few squares of delectable dark chocolate.
Chocolate Cranberry Pie
Grain-free Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
Chocolate Mousse
Two-Minute Blueberry Muffin
Low Sugar Hot Chocolate or Chocolate Milk
Cardamom Cupcakes
Pecan Pie with Chocolate Ganache
Chocolate Fudge-y Brownies
Chocolate Frosting Shots (Just have to say - SO so good!)
Peanut Butter Cookies
Chocolate Hazelnut Pie
Chocolate Mug Cake


Do I count calories?

Yes and no. (I'll get to the 'yes' later...) In general, I have not counted calories at all; but I am also generally aware of a guestimate of calories at times. I know that the foods I eat are nutrient-dense (which is great!), which also makes them generally richer and more calorie-dense and those add up very quickly. Luckily, I've also found that while eating such healthy real whole foods, I do not need as much food! Quality over quantity really rings true in this case. I do watch portions as it is very easy to overdo portions.


Plateaus

This is a dirty word in my life. I hate plateaus with an endless burning passion. HATE. Yet, having lost 85+ pounds in the last year... I've had many of them. MANY. How do I deal with plateaus??? (Besides constantly hating them...) I have found some tricks to get over plateaus that generally work, even if I have to try all of them at one time. 
  • More Water - just being more conscious for a while about drinking more water. A glass before every meal, and having a water bottle handy throughout the day and making myself drink whenever I can. Sometimes this has gotten me through a plateau.
  • Counting Calories - ah, there it is. The dreaded counting of the calories. (Another thing I hate.) On occasion, I found it useful to really strictly log everything I was eating to meticulously account for all calories and make sure I wasn't overdoing it. Sometimes that also got me over a plateau by showing me clearly where I was overdoing it on calories. Usually it was as simple as keeping my portion sizes in check!!
  • Eating more frequently. Sometimes I'd get stuck in a rut of breakfast at 7am, lunch at 12:30ish, and dinner at 6pm. That meant there were many hours between these meals when my metabolism would slow because of a lack of energy to use. Just as a clear example: I found that if I had a smaller breakfast at 7am, and then a small serving of almonds at 9am, cucumber "sandwiches" at 11am, chicken salad over spinach at 1pm, apple slices with peanut-butter at 3pm, and then a moderate dinner at 5pm - it kept my metabolism up more and I'd get over the plateau.
  • A combination of, or ALL of the above. If I got really desperate, I'd do all these things (more water; count calories; and smaller, more frequent meals) until I got over a plateau and then I'd resume to my "normal" routines. It took some effort, but it was always worth it to bust through a plateau.

Cheating

When I first started really trying to get some of the weight off, I set aside a few specific "cheat" days. It was really good for me to have a date in mind and it helped to alleviate any random temptations or cravings. I could tell myself, "Well on the 4th of July I can have that special treat. I can definitely wait until then!" My allowed "cheats" were typically no more frequent than once every two weeks. But quickly (within a few months of starting this) I found that I actually really enjoyed and loved all the food that I am "allowed" to eat and that I hated the way I felt after a cheat day (or even just a cheat meal). Then I realized that because of liking what I usually eat anyway, and because I hate the way I feel after cheating, I didn't need to cheat at all! (The only exceptions being times like Thanksgiving or Christmas. I did loosen up on those two days, but other than that, I never felt like I needed it!)

On one such cheat day, my husband and I stopped at our favorite dessert spot and I decided to get whatever I wanted and picked a long-standing traditional favorite of mine- a pecan bar. An ooey-gooey confection that I had always loved. One bite in and the sweetness was overpowering and honestly, rather disgusting. I couldn't even finish it. I was a little disappointed as I remember having used to love that treat and be easily able to finish the whole dessert; but more than that, I was so happy to find that my tastes have drastically changed and for the better! Now I have absolutely no desire for the ooey-gooey pecan bar and I'd rather have my dark chocolate mug cake with some vanilla Clemmy's melting over top of it!

Eating Out


I love to eat out. (Who doesn't!?) Fortunately I have found it quite easy to eat right even in a restaurant! Most restaurants have great options for grain-free/sugar free/paleo eating. It's pretty simple! "Low carb" meals usually work for grain-free/paleo as well so look for low carb options on the menu. Just watch out for things like sauces and salad dressings. Those often have hidden sugar. I have sometimes brought my own sauce/dressing. One trick I found to be extremely helpful--at many restaurants (depending on what you order) you can ask for half of your meal to be boxed up in advance for you to take home with you. Because the portion sizes are out-of-control in most places, this has become a great option for me and then I get two reasonable (delicious!) meals instead of just one over-sized meal! Plus, when it's boxed up in advance I can't accidentally eat too much or be tempted because "there's more food on my plate!" I am REALLY good about cleaning my plate, so having half of it taken off is the perfect solution for me! I also happily discovered that many of our favorite hot dog/hamburger-type places have the lettuce-instead-of-a-bun replacement option! This is true of Good Dog, Red Robin, and Urban Stack!

This is just an overview touching on some important tools that helped me tremendously. One last (somewhat random) item that I also think is often overlooked.... TV commercials! Most of the times when I was suddenly struck by a near-irresistible craving, it was instigated by seeing a TV commercial! They are so effective at making their food look OH so good and appealing! I found that whenever possible, avoiding commercials was the best thing. Mute them if you are watching a TV program and while they are muted use your laptop or smartphone or read a little bit- distract yourself! It sounds silly and insignificant, but those commercials are seriously out to get you and kill your hard work, willpower, and resolve!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mommy Metamorphosis: 92 pounds gone!

I am so excited and pleased to announce that since June 2012, I have lost 92 pounds!!!

Last Summer our family completely changed the way we eat. We did it for the good of everyone in the family, but especially because I hit my limit of being overweight. I was so tired of feeling uncomfortable in my clothes, feeling uncomfortable being in pictures with my kids, being upset by pictures of myself, tired of feeling tired, and tired of not enjoying certain aspects of my life merely because of my own body and weight hang-ups.


Diet
Steven is the main culinary expert at our house and he whole-heartedly accepted the challenge of feeding our family in a way that would be good for all of us, but also help me to hopefully lose the weight. And what do we eat? We eat Bacon. LOTS of bacon!!!! ;) And local pastured eggs cooked in the bacon grease! That's been my breakfast most of the time since we started on this new weight loss adventure. And I have lost most of these pounds while eating bacon and eggs every morning! Nothing low fat or fake. Bacon and Eggs! My point being, we eat real food. We eat unprocessed food. We eat meat, animal fat, butter, vegetables (cooked in animal fat or butter!), fruit, milk, and cheese. Plenty of homemade bone broth, plenty of good saturated fats, plenty of local raw milk (from a trusted farmer), and we also attempt to eat as much as possible from local sources. Pastured, grass fed, ethically-raised, non-gmo, local food is the ideal. We aren't always able to do that perfectly, but it's the goal. We cook with either butter or coconut oil. The kinds of fats that aren't made toxic by heat.

If you wanted to put a label on our "diet" it would be closest to what is known as "Paleo" or "Primal." It's a grain-free diet focused on meat and produce.

What I Carefully Avoid
Anything "low fat." Unless it is naturally low fat such as vegetables and fruit, but God didn't make cows give us "low fat milk" and real milk from healthy cows does not make "low fat cheese." I do not consider "low fat foods" to be real food or healthy food. They are processed and modified from the way nature intended. Fat occurs in our food naturally for a reason. Fat is important. Taking it out is not healthy.



Exercise
I started doing Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred last Summer (2012) and I've done it off and on with some regularity ever since. I find it extremely challenging, but effective and I love that it is just 20 minutes. Anyone can squeeze in 20 minutes. I started running in the fall and in November 2012 I ran my first half-marathon. I also ran an 8k later in November. I ran another half-marathon in February and a 5k in March. I enjoy running and walking and 30 Day Shred for my workouts most of the time. But honestly, the diet change has been far more important to my overall health, wellness, and weight loss than the exercise. The exercise has merely boosted my weight loss a bit along the way.



The Keys to My Success
  1. A very supportive husband/family. I couldn't have done it without his willingness to help at every step of the way and his being my biggest cheerleader.
  2. Real, permanent changes to my diet. It really is a lifestyle change.
  3. NOT feeling deprived by finding great and healthy replacements for all my old comfort foods.
  4. Finding out how delicious and satisfying real healthy food can be and learning how good I can feel while eating this way.

Now that I've lost 90+ pounds I feel...
  • Like a new woman.
  • I don't hate pictures of myself.
  • I am proud of my accomplishments.
  • I feel healthy and strong.

I have gone from a size 20/22 to a size 6/8. I have gone from size XXL/1X down to size S/M.

Do I still have body insecurity issues? OF COURSE! I think it is a lifelong struggle to overcome those. But I do have much more confidence now. I feel much more comfortable in my own skin. I don't intend to be "done" by any means and I had hoped that this post would be a "100 pounds lost!" post, however - it is coming off so extremely slowly now that it could be another year before I'm able to say that I've lost 100 pounds. However, I am GREATLY looking forward to that and have every expectation that I will eventually meet that goal!

Now for the best part....
Before and After Pictures!!!









Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What Being an ICAN Leader Means to Me

Our ICAN chapter has thrived and grown by leaps and bounds. Our local hospitals boast a climbing c-section rate getting dangerously close to 40%- which is sad and ridiculous. C-sections happening at that rate are doing way more harm than good and are unnecessarily risking moms and babies. It's obvious how much our community needs an ICAN chapter by how quickly our chapter is growing. We have new moms showing up at nearly every single meeting.

The moms that attend our meetings have found that (for a variety of reasons) birth matters to them. Having the best birth for themselves and their babies matters to them. Avoiding ridiculously unnecessary and risky surgery matters to them. Understanding what the best birth practices are according to the latest research is important to them. Knowing what care providers to avoid, what questions to ask, and what red flags to be aware of are important to these moms. Knowing all their options matters to them. "If you don't know your options, you don't have any." It is important to know. These moms truly understand that! It's a blessing and a privilege to see.

To these women, birth is more than just a way to get the baby out. It isn't a medical event. It's a very important LIFE event in both their lives and in the lives of their babies. A rite of passage. A hugely important part of the journey to motherhood. To these moms, the experience is also very important. They want to experience the birth of their baby in the most natural and healthy way possible. They want to be active and participate. They want to feel everything - good and bad, pleasure and pain, joy and fear - all the various intricate physical, emotional, mental, hormonal, and spiritual aspects of the birthing process. It all matters. Moms and babies matter. It is all important. It's important to the healthiest outcome for both the mom and the baby. These moms get it.

What being an ICAN leader means to me....

It means staying very current on all the latest research on birth. What is evidence based? What is fear based? What are current practices and why? What current standard practices are good and which ones need to go? What does the evidence support? What does the research say about special circumstances? VBAC after multiple c-sections? Advanced maternal age? VBAC with a special scar? Breech birth? Multiples birth? Low fluid? Big babies? And so much more. We ICAN leaders are researching all of this constantly. On a daily basis I'm doing at least a little birth-related research for ICAN or for whoever needs it - I'm always happy to help in any way possible! I find myself continually up to my elbows in medical research abstracts. My eyes begin to cross, but I keep digging deeper and searching harder. Because birth is my passion.

It means being available to help when it's wanted but holding back and staying silent when it's not wanted. The women at our meetings generally want the support, the research, the information, and the help; that is why they are there. But in my day-to-day life I have friends and acquaintances who may not. They know what I do. They know what my passion is. But some do not care about the birth experience. Some do not care about evidence-based-birth practices, finding a care provider who actually tries (or knows how!!!!) to avoid unnecessary surgery, the intricacies of the process, the research, the journey, etc in the same way or to the same extent. They don't care to have to fight for something that should just be the way things are. (It's not the way things are, which is why we must fight.) I understand not wanting the fight. But I will never ever understand the not caring enough to take on the fight and it endlessly perplexes and disturbs me. But I try to accept it and move on and just be available to those who DO care and who do want and need the help, support, and information that I can offer.

It means having some of the most fulfilling experiences of my life (aside from the births of my own babies!) helping those moms who DO need the research, the information  the support etc and find it with ICAN. When they go on to have the birth of their dreams, you cannot imagine how beautiful it is to hear their stories. To feel their joy. To celebrate with them! These are the moments that I live for.

It means being the middle man between some birth professionals and moms who don't know how to find what they need. It means seeking out that doula that will attend a birth for free. It means connecting a mom with a midwife who is the right fit for the moms' needs. It means having access to one of the largest birth networks in the country and being able to go to the other leaders on occasion to ask the hardest questions.

It means getting to see moms all over this country fighting for their best birth against all odds. For some it is a huge battle. They have to want it very badly, truly understand what it is they are fighting for, and really care about evidence-based-practices to fight the way they do. A twin VBAC, a VBAC after 3-c-sections, a breech VBAC, a VBAC with a classical scar, just to name a few. It means supporting them and cheering them on. It means being inspired by incredible women every day. It means helping them fight the good fight. It means being there to listen. It means seeing what can happen when a woman believes she can do it and then finds out that SHE CAN!!! Women are incredible. We were created to do this. And we can do it.

It means supporting those that for whatever reason have a traumatic birth and are disappointed. It means meeting them where they are and being there to listen and understand. It means listening to those c-section moms who didn't want a c-section trying to process what happened to them. (Whether medically necessary or not.) It means understanding that a healthy baby is not ALL that matters. A healthy baby is a very important piece of the puzzle, yes. But the mom matters too. Her physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being matter tremendously. We are there to listen. To help her process. To let her tell her story as many times as she needs. And to provide everything we can to aid in the healing process.

It means shedding so many tears. Tears of sadness and pain. Tears of unbelievable triumph and joy. Tears for those who don't get it or who have to learn the hard way. Tears for those who do not care and for those moms who will never even realize what they are missing. Tears for all the many unnecessary c-sections. Tears for the necessary c-sections that are still traumatic or difficult. Tears for birth/maternity care in America and how incredibly messed up it is right now. Tears for the moms and babies who are being harmed in the meantime while we try to fix this mess. Tears for the moms who fight long and hard and ultimately triumph and hold their baby for the first time with a huge "I can't believe I DID IT!" grin on their faces. That right there makes all the tears and battle scars worth it. There's a very good reason I do this, and I will keep on doing it.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Ten Reasons YOU May Need to Switch Care Providers

(This applies to anyone seeking a natural birth or who wishes to avoid an unnecessary c-section regardless of whether or not you have a cesarean birth in your history.)

  1. If your care provider is in a practice of 2 or more (or 8!?) doctors who may or may not be supportive of VBAC, switch care providers!!!
    1. Even if you found one provider in a big practice who is sincerely supportive of VBAC, it is often the case that this provider will need to induce you in order to make certain that he/she is “on call” during your birth. This decreases your chance of successful VBAC while also increasing your risk of uterine rupture AND repeat c-section. It’s a LOSE LOSE LOSE!!!
    2. If you are allowed to go into labor spontaneously you run the chance of your supportive provider NOT being on call and ending up with Dr. C-section who hates VBACs and refuses to support them.

  1. If your care provider is unable or unwilling to give you his/her exact stats, switch care providers!!!
    1. C-section rate? VBAC success rate? How many VBACs attended? If your provider is really supportive of your VBAC, you can expect him/her to easily and willingly share exact stats.
    2. Look for a provider who is very experienced and comfortable with VBAC and has assisted in many VBAC deliveries. You should look for a provider with at least a 75% success rate with VBAC deliveries. I’ve actually seen some providers with a 95% or higher rate!
    3. This bears repeating. Find a provider who is very experienced and supportive of VBAC deliveries. This person should not just be “willing” to “let you try” as a VBAC mom, but also be excited and happy for you and clearly EXPECT you to be successful!

  1. If your care provider keeps using language that indicates he/she may be skeptical of your ability to give birth vaginally, switch care providers!!!
    1. Look for key phrases like...
      1. “Birth is unpredictable so we’ll see what happens.”
      2. “I’ll let you try, but I require certain things just in case...
      3. “IF you go into labor by (set deadline) and IF you progress at (set rate of labor progression), then you MIGHT be able to have a VBAC.”

  1. If your care provider does not give accurate and up-to-date evidence based statistics, birth practices, or information in general, switch care providers!!!
    1. This puts some of the responsibility on you to look up the current practice bulletins, know the latest VBAC research, rupture stats, induction stats, best birth practices, etc. So do your homework so that you will know if your provider is feeding you BS or even just their own personal biases against VBAC.

  1. If your care provider at any point has an anecdotal horror story involving a VBAC that he/she feels compelled to share with you, switch care providers!!!
    1. Any care provider that has clearly been “scared” by VBAC is not ultimately going to be supportive even if he/she says “I’m willing to let you try.”

  1. If your care provider says he/she is supportive of VBAC, but is discouraging of your taking an independent childbirth class and/or hiring a doula switch care providers!!!
    1. This may be a sign of the classic “bait and switch.” Unfortunately, it is very common. A mom may feel very supported in her desire to VBAC.... until 36 weeks when suddenly the doctor starts saying things like, “Are you still sure you want to attempt a VBAC?” (Add possible random scare tactics thrown about haphazardly to make mom feel intimidated. Maybe a scary anecdote from the past thrown in for good measure.) Run, do not walk, AWAY from this care provider. It is never too late to fire your provider until you have given birth!

  1. If you genuinely LIKE your care provider but are unsure of their ability to support your VBAC, but are also afraid to “hurt their feelings” by switching care providers, GET OVER IT AND switch care providers!!!
    1. Even if you “click” with this person and just love him/her to pieces. Even if you are best buds and have warm fuzzies every time you are together. Even if you have every single thing in the world in common. Warm fuzzies will not support your VBAC!!!!
    2. It does not matter if you have organic gardening in common and love knitting together, this will not get you your VBAC.
    3. Even if you are afraid to switch, it is actually unlikely that you’ll hurt anyone’s feelings. We’ve even seen moms switch and the OB didn’t even notice. They see so many moms, this is often the case. Do not EVER be afraid to switch at any point in your pregnancy.
    4. You are just one person out of hundreds of patients your provider is likely seeing. You are not going to be the one to change his/her mind about VBAC. Nor should you be. Do not put yourself into that position!
    5. We are talking about the health and well being of you and your baby here, it is not worth risking over fear of hurting feelings or fear of leaving someone you “get along” with. You need a provider who practices evidence based birth and believes in your ability to give birth, not a buddy with whom you can chat comfortably.

  1. If your care provider does not clearly love VBAC, switch care providers!!!
    1. Care providers with the best VBAC success rates honestly enjoy supporting VBAC moms and have a solid belief in the moms’ abilities to give birth normally!
    2. Your provider should understand that VBAC is supported by the evidence as the option that is in the best interest of you and your baby! It will be clear from the beginning that this provider wants you to get the birth you want and will do everything possible to support you in achieving that birth.
    3. If your care provider does not actually want you to be successful with VBAC in the end, you most likely won’t be.

  1. If you have missed the “bait and switch” signs until the very end it is not too late to switch care providers!!!
    1. If your provider is all the sudden throwing around scary stories, scary stats, or obvious scare tactics, it is still not too late to switch!
    2. If your provider does a late term ultrasound and cries “LOW FLUID!” or “BIG BABY!” or even mentions that maybe you’re a little overweight and might not be able to give birth (say it with me!), switch care providers!!!

  1. If you are not 100% sure that your care provider is the most VBAC supportive care provider you can find, switch care providers!!!
    1. I cannot emphasize enough that just being “comfortable” with a certain care provider IS NOT ENOUGH. You may feel very trusting of this person, but if this person does not 100% believe in YOUR BODY and YOUR ABILITY to birth your baby, all the comfort and trust in the world will not get you the safest and healthiest birth for you and your baby!
    2. A care provider that is genuinely supportive of your VBAC will not only say, “I will support you.” but also may (hopefully!) say encouraging things like, “You are a great candidate for VBAC! I see no reason why you shouldn’t be able to give birth vaginally!” This provider not only will support you, but WANTS this right alongside you and will go the distance to support every measure to get you that VBAC. This provider is practicing evidence-based medicine rather than fear-based! This is your best chance for a safe and healthy birth!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Paperless Kitchen, Candles, and a Health Tip

  • A friend of mine linked to this post and I thought it was inspiring. Truth be told, we have already done this to a certain extent, but I don’t know that we’re as organized or purposeful about it. We started trying to buy paper towels less quite a while ago with more or less success over time. Finally we bought some utilitarian-type cloths to use in place of paper towels to reinforce our efforts. They aren’t pretty, but are very functional. I use them to wipe counters, clean kid messes, dry dishes, and just about anything else you might use a paper towel for. They are very handy to have around! We need more of them, but every time I do a load of laundry I throw in whichever ones have been used and then take them straight out of the clean laundry and put them back in the clean basket in the kitchen so the turn-around is pretty fast and simple. It works so far and we haven’t bought disposable paper towels (or thrown away paper towels!) in many moons. That’s always a good thing!
  • Another slow and gradual change for the better: beeswax candles. I think we only have one or two so far and still have mostly paraffin candles. Eventually I’d like to replace all paraffin candles with beeswax. It will take a while! They smell wonderful, last longer, drip less, and are healthier for us and for the environment. Instead of polluting the air, beeswax candles actually purify the air. Those who suffer from allergies can burn beeswax candles in their homes purely for this purpose. Pretty cool, huh?
  • Health tip: Coconut Water is a healthy substitute for Gatorade or Pedialyte for staying hydrated. I have never understood the advice to drink corn syrup/sugar and artificial dyes for health! Coconut water has just the right balance of everything, so you don't need to dilute it or add anything to it; it's perfect the way it is. It might be hard to find but it's worth it if you are in need. It has a very mild coconutty taste.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Nursing Henry

I have nursed 5 babies now (I admit-- with hugely varying degrees of success!) and I’m still learning new things about breastfeeding all the time. Henry is (surprise surprise) different from all my other babies even in the way he nurses. He is still thriving exclusively on mama’s milk here at nearly 4 months old! He has never had a drop of anything but breast milk and has only had expressed milk once. (4 ounces- which were painstakingly expressed over several days and were fed to him in a Medela soft cup feeder.)

With Henry I have felt like I needed a little more support in nursing so I have been attending LLL meetings which are wonderful! The lactation consultants there are very helpful and give practical tips for trouble-shooting. I’ve been so glad that I went! I’ve been learning a lot. Smile Plus it is nice to be able to relate with other breastfeeding moms!

I do regret that Henry is very dependent on a pacifier, but he needed something when I couldn’t be immediately available during my December gig-season. I feel that the pacifier has negatively impacted our nursing relationship in some ways, but thankfully it hasn’t hurt our nursing relationship beyond repair. He still nurses and gets what he needs. It’s just not quite as easy as it could be sometimes. My babies who didn’t take pacifiers until they were older seemed more contented during and after nursing.

Henry is what I call a “fussy nurser.” I’ve learned that I do not “let down” easily which means that Henry really has to work for it! This is why bottles are not an option at all for my babies as they destroy my ability to breastfeed. They never want to nurse again if they get a bottle! So Henry works for it, but he complains loudly the whole time. He pops off and fusses about every 3-5 seconds until he gets what he wants. And then he complains again when it slows. And he hates being done (very much like Ephraim, I have to say!). So he’s never quiet or discreet about it. Gone are the days that I could easily nurse in church or Sunday school with hardly anyone noticing. At the LLL meetings I see other moms nurse their little babies and the babies are so quiet and sweet and then when they are done they are satisfied and grateful. Not Henry! You’d think he doesn’t get enough, but I know he does! It is frustrating to me at times, but oh well. Being a mom is sometimes a thankless job. I can deal. Smile with tongue out

With every baby I have had to remind myself to look at the baby, not at the scale. I just don’t have chunky babies who are always content and satisfied. Yet they thrive, have plenty of wet diapers, meet developmental milestones, and are definitely healthy!

I love the closeness that breastfeeding allows us and I love that he’s getting the best nutrition I could ever give him too. I love that my milk is custom-fit to his needs according to time of day, his age, and what bugs he may be fighting off. Breast milk is amazingly adaptable like that! It’s the miracle of God’s perfect design for moms and babies.

Because I have chosen to breastfeed and to breastfeed exclusively “from the tap” which I believe is giving Henry the best possible option; I also have to deal with what comes along with it. I can never be away from Henry for very long. Not that I ever really want to, but the occasional break would be nice! I do love being near him almost all of the time, but sometimes I have hard days when I’m feeling a little like I’m falling apart! And there are times when I am the only one who can soothe him. I have to be continually available for him. Not always easy!

Cons:

  • I can’t “get away” for a weekend, an overnight trip, or even a long date without Henry tagging along. It’s a good thing I like him! Smile with tongue out
  • I never know exactly how much he is getting. This is generally not necessary anyway, but it would be nice to know sometimes!
  • I have to make sure my clothes are nursing-friendly whenever I’m out and about. Well- I guess it’s not completely necessary, but I find it very helpful!
  • I’m the only one that can feed Henry.

Pros:

  • I’m the only one that can feed Henry! Winking smile
  • It’s always ready. It’s always warm. It’s always the right amount (even if he disagrees…).
  • Breastmilk is not only the optimal nutrition for a baby, it’s free!
  • No washing bottles. (Like we need more dishes to clean!) No mixing/making formula or anything else for that matter. No need to refrigerate, warm, test for temperature… etc! No worries about it spoiling either.
  • It’s custom made for him from month to month, day to day, and even hour to hour. It contains antibodies to whatever illnesses he is most likely to be exposed to through his family. It is a living food with enzymes and is the most easily digestible for him. The nutrients in breast milk are the most accessible and easily absorbable for him as well! The milk he gets in the morning is different from the milk he gets at night. It also changes in composition as his nutritional needs change. It’s truly amazing stuff!
  • There’s nothing better for soothing an upset baby/toddler than nursing. It’s instant calm just when we need it sometimes!
  • I don’t think there is anything quite as comforting to a baby as nursing. Close contact with mama (often skin-to-skin!), fulfilling the need to suck, getting a full belly… Good stuff! Breastfeeding has a calming affect on mom too! Did you know that? It’s good for both of us!
  • It’s a really easy way to soothe a baby to sleep. It doesn’t work every time (at least not for me with this particular baby), but when it does work? It’s amazing!
  • No getting out of bed at night! I don’t have to get bottles for him at night. And he sleeps right by my side so when he stirs at night all I have to do is latch him on. This is the best way for our family to get as much rest as possible. Some nights are (of course) more challenging than others and sometimes he does demand more soothing than just nursing which requires getting out of bed to bounce, rock, burp, change, or otherwise sooth him. That’s just life with a baby in general! However, on a normal night when his needs just include nursing and sleeping, not ever having to get out of bed is pretty awesome! Thankfully that is the more frequent course of events! There have even been a few nights when Steven and/or I have felt like we slept through the night despite there being one or more nighttime feedings. We have at times been able to essentially sleep through it all!

It may take a lot of sacrifice to make exclusive breastfeeding and eventually extended breastfeeding work long term; but if I’m able to do it for the health and general well-being of my kids, it’s 100% worth it. I think the pros by far outweigh the cons.

I don’t know that nursing can ever go absolutely perfectly for anyone. We live in an imperfect world, after all! I struggled a lot nursing Emily and Will. But for the most part, it has gone very well with Henry. I am so grateful that I am able to nurse him (so far anyway!) and hope it will continue indefinitely. I am in it for the long haul as usual and I am hopeful that he will be my little nursing buddy for a very long time to come!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Cloth Diaper Reviews: Happy Heiny’s

Yet another new diaper I have tried is the Happy Heiny’s one size diaper with snap closure.

happyheinys-onesize-snaps-0410

I’d heard a lot of folks say they love this diaper. From what I saw prior to buying one, it looked very comparable to most popular pocket diapers except that it is available in THE cutest prints (and lots of them!) which are quite tempting. There is just something so fun about slapping a cute print on baby’s bum. I quite enjoy it!

Pros

  • Lots of really cute prints!
  • It is a little roomier than some diapers I’ve tried. Fits both boys, but particularly Will- as he’s getting bigger. It’s nice to have a diaper with a generous enough fit to be easy to get onto Will. This diaper has a nice high rise and stretchy elastic.
  • Nice roomy pocket in the diaper which makes stuffing such a breeze! No frustration there!
  • A very fluffy and absorbent insert- good quality!
  • Snap closure (and this is a double-edged sword as you’ll hear later)- no toddler can get this diaper off and the snaps offer more durability in the long run. I also like that they don’t stick to anything else in the laundry cycles!
  • Overall good quality as far as I can tell.

Cons

  • Not an extremely great price. A little more expensive than my favorite bumGenius brand. It’s not outrageous, but not so wonderful in my mind that it justifies even that slightly higher price.
  • Snap closure! It takes me quite a bit more effort and a little frustration at times getting all the snaps lined up and snapped during diaper changes. This is no problem at all when changing Will who is very cooperative and patient and sweet during changes. It IS a problem, however, when changing Ephraim who can really put up a squirmy struggle and make life quite difficult during changes.

In the end I do think I prefer the snap closure to velcro for their durability factor and can manage to put up with the squirmy impatience of Ephraim. It has just been frustrating at times. There are more snaps on the HH diaper than other snap diapers that I have so it definitely takes a bit longer. This diaper is great for double or triple-stuffing for overnights or a long trip and holds up beautifully. No leaks! It fits well and looks super cute and I’ve enjoyed it a lot. It’s definitely a great addition to our diaper stash!

Conclusion: Would I buy more?

Well, that’s a hard question. The unique prints are tempting, but overall I found this diaper to be so similar to other pockets that there was nothing overly-special that would make me really want to buy more. If they were a super special price point or had some fancy feature that made them different, I’d be more tempted. It’s a GOOD diaper and I definitely like it. I just won’t be plopping down the money for more when there are other diapers that are a little cheaper that I like just as well. Now if this next baby is a girl- I may have to splurge on ONE super-cute girly print (but I may also have the self-control to not do that… maybe). So I guess I’m kind of neutral on the “would I buy more?” I would not mind having more as there is not much that I don’t like, but I probably won’t be buying more.

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IMG_7805 IMG_7807 My sleepy boy climbing into his bed for a nap. Aww!