Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Did I ever really have a low milk supply?

Some researchers are conducting a survey of nursing mothers who have used Domperidone to increase milk supply.

I took the survey, and it reminded me of something I've been wondering for quite a while now: Did I ever really have a low milk supply?

A couple months ago, the local La Leche League put me in contact with another area mother who was experiencing low milk supply issues and taking domperidone for it. She wanted to talk to someone who had been through it and was on the other side, and I was happy to provide any help/moral support that I could. I kept asking the other mom how she knew that she had low milk supply... did her baby cry all the time? Because Will's crying was really the only thing we were going on the whole time I was dealing with this. But no, the other mother said her baby did not cry all the time and was generally pretty easy-going. I think she said that the baby's poor weight gain was the main issue.

For us, Will was a bit slow to gain weight, but he never had dangerously low weight gain or weight loss. During the worst of it, he had a week where he only gained 4.5 ounces. Because I was nursing him almost constantly (as much as 12 hours some days), and he cried whenever he wasn't nursing, the lactation consultant told me she suspected I had a milk supply issue. She thought he must be doing a lot of non-nutritive suckling, otherwise he should be gaining loads of weight considering the amount of time he spent nursing.

Domperidone was the last resort after a long road of trying everything. After a couple weeks of taking it, I definitely felt like I had plenty of milk, and that was a huge relief. But the thing is, Will's crying didn't end. It didn't seem to be colic or acid reflux or an allergy to something in my diet. He just cried. Whenever he wasn't nursing, he cried.

Feeding him was very stressful. Whenever he nursed, he would fall asleep. Maybe after a half an hour or so, I'd unlatch him and he would wake up and cry. Once, I resolved to just let him nurse until he unlatched on his own. I sat there for a solid hour and a half, letting him nurse and nurse (while he was asleep). Finally, I couldn't take it anymore and unlatched him. He woke up immediately, gave me a look of pure contempt, threw his head back, and wailed. He didn't care whether or not there was milk coming out. He just wanted to nurse and nurse and nurse and nurse.

Something I really didn't get at the beginning was the whole concept of the let-down. I guess I thought that the milk was supposed to be shooting out in a constant stream for 10 or 15 minutes straight. But it wasn't that way for me... is it that way for anybody? I'd look at the clock once I started to feel the milk coming out. Most of the time the let-down would only last a minute or 2 before it subsided. Every week I'd be back in the lactation consultant's office, saying, "Milk only comes out of me for a minute at a time... he's not getting enough to eat." I don't know, maybe I am a freak and that's not how it's supposed to be, but that is pretty much the way it is now: several let-downs of milk, interspersed with periods when no milk is coming out.

I don't know exactly what I'm trying to say here, and it's getting very late. I guess I probably did have some milk supply issues and Domperidone did help. But knowing what I know now, I don't think milk supply was the root of the problem. I think Will is just a very needy baby, and for whatever reason, he spent the first 6 or so months of his life crying. I am very glad we are past that.

I still would like to know if hyperemesis or the GBS antibiotics (that I apparently had a severe reaction to), or the freakishly unexplained blood pressure spike I experienced after labor may have had any impact on my milk supply.

Oh, and one more thing, I think Domperidone made me dizzy, even though that wasn't really supposed to be a side effect.

What is the matter with me? Morning will be here before I know it, I've got to get to bed.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Won't eat

Over the past several weeks, it seems that Will's appetite has been dwindling rather than increasing. And lately, it's been hard to get him to eat anything. It is starting to get to me. In the past, he would be finicky about eating every once and a while... we'd just give him an extra spoon to play with while we were feeding him and everything was fine. Then one day he took a special interest in the bowl that the food was in and started grabbing for that instead of eating. So I just gave him an extra bowl to play with, and we were fine again. Now that doesn't even work. Every bite of food I manage to get into his mouth takes enormous effort. I basically have to "trick" him (i.e., distract him) to get him to open his mouth and eat. He does somewhat better with the finger foods, and I thought, well maybe he's reached the stage where he just wants to feed himself. But that doesn't work so great either. He'll eat a few little bits of something I put on the tray and then lose interest. He actually seems to prefer to take little bits of food out of my hand rather than the tray. It makes our mealtimes go on forever. Seriously, I think I spent an hour trying to get any dinner in him tonight. Whenever I try to put the spoon to his face, he whips his head away from me and puts his hand up, in a very "talk to the hand" manner. Ugh, I don't like this. I'm so afraid that it is because I was so sick while I was pregnant. There is very little research on children of hyperemetic women (something I hope to remedy if I can ever get my career going), but anecdotal evidence suggests that HG babies tend to have more problems eating, food aversions, etc than non-HG babies. Some HG babies have really awful problems with food. I hope that's not what's happening. I hope that it's just a phase... something normal that every 10-month old baby goes through for a little while and then snaps out of. I don't want to look it up in a book or on the internet, because if there isn't anybody out there who says it's normal, then that will just make me worry all the more.

Hoping for better luck at breakfast in the morning.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Yesterday, William clapped his hands for the first time. He's been really close to clapping for a while. When he gets excited, he laughs and moves his arms like he's conducting an orchestra. More and more recently, he would get his arms going like that and end by clasping his hands together (it is cute). He also likes to make clapping noises by beating his hands against his high chair tray, against his chest when he not wearing a shirt (like a little gorilla), and against my arms or legs. Over the weekend a couple of times, he grabbed my hands and clapped them together, squealing with delight. I thought, he is so close to clapping! I tried to show him how it is done by clapping his hands together, but every time I tried that, he would squirrel his hands out if my grasp or ball them in to fists. I started clapping around him more frequently, when he did something cute or did a good job eating his food. He would get very serious and study my hands as I clapped.

And then yesterday, he just did it. After breakfast, while his hands were still messy, he giggled and clapped them together. It kind of startled him. He paused and got a little quiet. I wondered, did that really count as clapping? Just a few minutes later, I changed his diaper and then sat him down in his pack and play while I cleaned up. He clapped his hands together again and giggled. He did that a few more times during the day.

Today I wondered if he would forget all about clapping his hands or if he would keep doing it. Early this morning I got my answer. I'd put him in the pack and play while I cleaned up our breakfast mess, and when he saw me walk back into the room, he squealed and clapped. All throughout the day, he would look at me and giggle and start clapping. I gave him some cheerios and he clapped. I gave him some peaches and he clapped. I put him down on the floor and gave him a toy and he clapped. It's like I've got my own cheering section here.

I'd never really realized that clapping was a milestone that babies are supposed to reach until a couple of months ago when the yoga moms I hang out with started talking about their babies clapping. Will has been so late with all the other milestones that it is sometimes hard for me to be around other moms whose babies are doing the things they are supposed to be doing. I don't read books or look up stuff on the internet because I don't want to know all the things he is supposed to be doing now that he is not. I've done everything right, you know? I don't know why he is so slow. It worries me.

At least now he's clapping, so that's one less thing to worry about.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

San Francisco

We've been back a week now, but I'm just now finally having a chance to write about our trip to San Francisco.

This is the third year I've gone to San Francisco with Rob for the WWDC. The first year I was healthy and fit, and I roamed the city on foot for hours and hours every day. Last year, I was very sick and very pregnant and a fair amount of the time I had to lie in bed trying not to puke. And this year I had Will.

Stroll through the airport

Luckily, he was a very good sport for the most part. The time zone change was a little rough on him, plus the trip coincided with his ongoing teething, but overall, it was a lot easier than I thought it might be.

Will didn't care for the crib that the hotel provided, so he ended up sleeping in bed with Rob and me. It was actually the first time he's ever done that. At home he always cries and screams if I try to put him in bed with us, so we have never been able to co-sleep. But for some reason in the hotel, our bed was where he wanted to be. It worked out pretty well, because with his time zone confusion and teething, he would wake up a couple of times in the night anyway, and I didn't even have to get up to nurse him or calm him down. The bed was a king size bed (larger than our bed at home), so luckily there was plenty of room for Will to do his usual nighttime rotations. Pretty much every night he would pivot so that he was lying crossways in the bed, with the top of his head snuggled into my side and his feet in Rob's face. I thought that was cute and hilarious, but then again, I wasn't the one waking up with someone's feet in my face.

Will and I managed to do a lot of sightseeing while Rob was at the conference. I am so, so glad I ended up getting an Ergo of my own before the trip. We took a few trips out on the town with the stroller, but for the most part, we just Ergo-ed it. We found out that strollers were not allowed on buses unless they were folded up, and it was really so much of a pain for me to carry the baby, the stroller, and the diaper bag. Just going with the Ergo was a lot easier when I was on the bus by myself. Plus, the buses and cable cars get very crowded, so even if I had managed to lug the stroller on by myself, it would have been difficult to manage all that while also on a standing room only bus. With the Ergo, Will was right there and could nurse when he got hungry and fall asleep against me when he got tired.

Will's first cable car ride
Will nursing in the cable car


Together, Will and I trekked through Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf, the Embarcadero, the Castro, and Haight-Ashbury. During Rob's breaks from the conference, the 3 of us took trips to Ghirardelli Square, Coit Tower, Golden Gate Park, and Ocean Beach.



Will sleeps through his first visit to the ocean

After the conference was over, last Saturday we all went to Golden Gate Bridge. Will decided to get fussy just as we arrived, so I ended up nursing him in the Ergo as we walked part of the way across the very windy bridge. That's probably one of the strangest places I have ever nursed the baby.

Team Ragfield at bridge

From Golden Gate Bridge we took a bit of a lovely hike to Baker Beach. Rob wore Will in the Ergo for the hike, being that I was quite tired from all that lactating and walking.

Two sweaty guys hiking the Coastal Trail

Will was awake for his second trip to the ocean, and the weather was much nicer this time. Interestingly, we didn't realize that Baker Beach is apparently a nude beach, at least at the north part (where we entered). I actually didn't notice at first, because I was too focused on Will and the ocean, but then at some point I realized that some of the people out on the beach were nude. It was a bit weird, though I will say, a definite plus was when Will got hungry and wanted to nurse again, I didn't feel the need to cover up or try to be discreet.

Team Ragfield on Baker Beach

This year's trip was definitely a lot better than last year, when I was nauseated all the time. One major improvement is that the sight, smell, or thought of Chinese food doesn't make me want to set myself on fire and jump screaming out of a window anymore. Being that there is a large population of Chinese people in San Francisco, avoiding exposure to Chinese food is downright impossible. I even ate Chinese food again for the first time since probably January 2009 (when for a week, all I wanted to eat was chow mein vegetables, and since then have not wanted anything to do with it). I survived the experience, but I think I could probably go at least another year before eating Chinese food again.

I also was able to enjoy a seriously fantastic hummus and veggie sandwich from a place called (I think?) Cafe Verona, on 5th between Mission and Market. We got sandwiches there to take on our picnic lunch to Baker Beach. I know I was really hungry by the time we ate, but that sandwich was probably the best thing I have ever eaten in my entire life. I ate there a few times last year too, but so many things made me sick (hold the cucumbers, onions, peppers, etc) that it was difficult at best. The worst part was that there is a sushi restaurant right next to the cafe, and when I was pregnant, the smell of it made me want to hurl myself into an erupting volcano. Last year, I had to walk past this place to get from our hotel to Moscone, where the conference was held, and every time I did it, I had to bury my face in the crook of my elbow and close my eyes (even the sight of the place made me sick) so that I didn't die. This year, we stayed at a different hotel, so I didn't walk past there every day. When I did finally walk past that sushi place, the smell was gross and disgusting and it brought back all sorts of memories from when I was sick and pregnant, but it didn't make me feel awful to the terrifying extent that it did back then. At any rate, if anyone reading this ever visits San Francisco, go to that cafe on 5th Street next to the sushi restaurant and get a sandwich, it's divine.

One other thing that helped us all out eating-wise was that I found a Whole Foods within walking distance from our hotel. I was able to get avocados and bananas and other things for Will to eat, so we were fine in that regard. Plus, we had fridge in our room, so I got soymilk and cereal for breakfast, snacks, etc. Having a grocery store and fridge made it a lot easier to be a traveling vegan. Walking around all day with Will in the Ergo, not to mention lactating, makes me ravenously hungry. I discovered that Whole Foods carries an assortment of vegan doughnuts, which were amazing . It is probably a good thing that I do not have regular access to vegan doughnuts.

That's all for now, thanks for reading.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Dear William (10 months)

Dear William,

Book worm

Today you are 10 months old. You are such a very busy little person. You reach and grab for everything. You love to bang two things together (like a spoon and a bowl). You are always engrossed in some activity-- generally involving trying to shove things into your mouth. You babble constantly. You giggle uproariously if I blow a puff of air into your face or if I tickle your tummy or toes or if I lift you up high into the air and say "Wheee!" You still love peek-a-boo. You still love the book That's Not My Monkey that your Great Auntie Marj gave you for Christmas. There are times when you still cry a lot too.

You got a new tooth this month. Your top left incisor. It was a doozy coming in. It took about 2 weeks of hard work. You had a runny nose and were fussier than normal and you would wake up in the night. I was hoping that both upper incisors would come in at the same time, but no luck. That other one is working you over right now. This one is even more of a doozy. Your sleeping (and mine as a result) have suffered tremendously. I wish that this tooth would just come through already and be done with. We could both use some rest.

Check out these teeth

Speaking of rest, there was definitely a bright spot this month. You started taking naps in your crib again. Ever since March, you have refused to sleep in the daytime unless I am holding you or walking with you in the stroller. Then one day this month, I cautiously put you in your bed and you slept for an hour and a half. It was wonderful. It is hit and miss though. Some days you scream the instant I try to put you down. Other days you sleep like a pro. I don't mind holding you while you nap, but sometimes, William, there are other things that need to be done. I can't help but think how much easier this whole motherhood thing would be if you were the kind of baby that took reliable, predictable naps in your crib every day. Do babies like that really exist? I don't know.

You scoot around a lot. You haven't quite figured out how to go forward yet, but you rotate in circles and you can kind of move backward. You get very frustrated when you are on your tummy and I put a toy out in front of you and you end up pushing yourself farther away from it instead of closer. Most of the time when you get up in the morning, you are 180 degrees rotated from the direction I had lain you down in. More often than not, you are clutching your That's Not My Monkey book, which I put at the foot of your crib when we get done reading it at night.

Book worm

You started the month as a voracious eater, but lately you have been quite stand-offish when it comes to food. Here is a list (near as I can remember) of the new things you have eaten this month: bits of crackers, potato (made you puke), Christmas bean (made you puke), aprium, oat cereal (store bought), bits of various hummus sandwiches I have been eating, toast/bread (you love bread!), grated raw carrot, Nico and Fito's guacamole, spinach, cantelope (made you puke), garbanzo bean, black bean, strawberries, grapes (you didn't like), whole wheat pita, naan, a bit of pea-sprouts from my sandwich, a couple bites of platano, and a few kinds of store bought baby food while we were traveling (more on that later) including peas and rice, lentils and rice, peach/oat/banana and pear/mango.

You went swimming this month for the first time. I had thought you would love swimming, because you thoroughly enjoy splashing in the bath. Your first swim did not go as well as I expected though, I think because you were tired and needed a nap.

Happy day

William, we are spending your 10th-month birthday in San Francisco. It's your first trip to California. Lucky duck! I didn't go to California until I was 28. You have been kind of overwhelmed with jet-lag and teething. You do not care for the crib that the hotel provided. For most of the week, you have slept in the big bed with your dad and me. You do your usual nighttime rotations. The other morning (well, 4:30am, which was when you chose to get up), your head was pressed against the small of my back and your feet were in your dad's face. I thought it was hilarious, but I guess your father got the raw end of the deal. You breathe very loudly when you sleep. It is hard to believe that such a noise comes out of such a little person.

I took you swimming again in the hotel pool in San Francisco. This time you loved it. No more messing around with baby pools for you. You loved to kick and kick your legs. In general whenever you are on your stomach, you kick your legs very much like a frog would (I should know, my first job out of college was a frog and tadpole care-taker). You frog kicked in the pool as I supported you, and it was hilarious.

You have done many new and exciting things since we've been in San Francisco. You've been to Golden Gate Park, the Presidio, Ocean Beach, Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf, Coit Tower, the Castro, and Haight-Ashbury. You've had a picnic lunches at Union Square, St. Mary's Square (in Chinatown) and Baker Beach (who would have known clothing was optional there). You've ridden a cable car. You make friends wherever you go because you are always looking at people and smiling at them, which makes them smile back at you, and then they tell me what a beautiful little baby I have.

WindmillPicnic in Union Square

The most exciting part of our San Francisco trip (to me at least) was that I got to take you to the ocean. My whole life I have loved the ocean, William. The one thing I wanted to be sure to do on this trip was to take you to see it. You cried on the long bus ride to Ocean Beach, and then you fell asleep just before we got there. It was just as well; it was cold and windy and even misting a little bit, not really the best day to go to the beach. The dampness of the air made your hair curl. You slept through the whole thing, only waking up just as we left.

Beach walk



We took you back to the ocean today, to Baker Beach. We hiked there from Golden Gate Bridge. It was lovely, but you cried because you were tired, and eventually you fell asleep while we were still hiking. You had yourself a nice little nap, and when you woke up, you were at the ocean again. I hope someday that you can visit the ocean when you are not so tired.

William, it has been quite a month. It just keeps getting better and better.


Your mom

Monday, June 7, 2010

Skinny jeans

I know all of you out there reading this lost all your pregnancy weight and fit back into all your old clothes within a week or two weeks or a day or whatever, but I didn't. I stayed fat for a long time. I didn't gain a tremendous amount of weight while I was pregnant (27 pounds), but I held onto it. Actually, that's not quite true. I lost almost all of it while giving birth, most likely because I didn't eat for about 3 days and threw up 2-3 times per contraction (a side effect of the antibiotics they "had" to give me for GBS+). When I came home from the hospital and stepped on the scale to find that I'd lost 20 pounds, I thought, losing this pregnancy weight is going to be a piece of cake.

Speaking of cake.

Even vegan cake will make you fat if you eat enough of it. And I did. I actually gained weight after Will was born and while I was exclusively breastfeeding him. This is probably because my impressive weight loss during his birth was mainly due to dehydration. But also, I became an eating machine after Will was born. My lactation consultant thought I was suspiciously skinny and advised me to eat, eat, eat, in order to increase my milk supply. And I did. For 9 months I'd been constantly puking or feeling like I would puke, and even though the nausea persisted for about 3-4 months after Will was born (actually I am still nauseated sometimes, but not like I was while pregnant), I could eat a lot more things. Like tortilla chips (no salsa though, until just recently), and peanut butter. And cake.

I felt really bad about myself about being so fat, but apparently, not bad enough to stop eating. Plus, having a snack was sometimes really effective at drowning out Will's constant crying. It was like, "As long as I am eating these vegan brownies, I cannot hear you cry!!"

Within the past few months though, I've finally noticed that my clothes are fitting me better, and in some cases, are even loose. Around the time of the marathon, I cautiously stepped on the scale and found that I was only a few pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight (which was Freakishly Thin) and am actually a few pounds less than what I weighed in high school and after we came back from a year in Nicaragua (when I had taken a hiatus from running).

A couple days ago, I was going through a bin of old clothes that I packed away during my pregnancy and by this point had pretty much given up hope of ever wearing again. I put on a skirt that had been tight on me when we came home from Nicaragua and it was pleasantly loose! And then I came across my Skinny Jeans. The last time I had worn them was when I was skeletal and 14 weeks pregnant and so sick that hurling myself into an abyss seemed like a good idea. With much trepidation, I tried on the jeans, not expecting them to go on past the knee.

And they fit! Comfortably! Still a bit tighter on me than back in my glory days, but I can definitely wear them.

So there you have it. I have finally lost almost all of my pregnancy weight and am back in my skinny jeans. And it "only" took 10 months. And I didn't do anything special. Unless you count becoming a vegan (again) and running a marathon.

When Will was the size of a lemon and mama was skinny
Well rounded, but in skinny jeans again

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Stellar weekend

We had a lot to accomplish over the long weekend-- mainly house and yard work, but we had a bit of time for some fun too. On Sunday, I had been wanting to go for a longish run (sans jogging stroller). The day got off to kind of a bad start, as I began it in a grumpy mood on account of Will's frequent waking during the night. He has been working on some teeth for at least 2 weeks now. By the end of the weekend, his top left incisor finally poked on through! I was hoping both of the top incisors would come in at once, but the other one is still working on him. "Teething" doesn't really change Will's daytime demeanor, but he does have a bit of trouble sleeping at night during the thick of it.

The day started to look better when I finally got to set out for a 6 mile run in the heat. I wish I would have had time to run 16, but since Will doesn't take a bottle or eat his food if I am not there, 6 was all I could reasonably manage. And it was great. I was slow and I had to walk some, but I loved it. There is something just so purifying about running long distances in the heat. No, I am not going to do the Badwater Ultra, but I do love running in hot weather. It was one of the number one things I missed last year when I was pregnant. That and not puking and/or feeling like I would puke all the time.

After I got home and fed Will again, Rob took him for a walk in the stroller. While they were gone, I went over to Prairie Gardens and got some ground cover-- Vinca minor. We had this ground cover at our house in Dunlap when I was growing up. My co-valedictorian speech (there were 11 of us) at high school graduation was kind of a rambling, incoherent poem about vinca flowers that also somehow incorporated at least one quotation from A Tale of Two Cities. ("It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done...") Yikes. At any rate, I am still working at planting the vinca, and I hope that it manages to grow and spread into a nice ground cover for our flower bed.

When Rob and Will got home from their walk/nap, Will had a quick nip of milk, and then we set off for a picnic lunch and Will's first trip to a swimming pool. We hooked up the Burley to our tandem bike and rode over to the pool. It was our first ride all together on the tandem (well, at least the first ride outside of our neighborhood), and I was kind of nervous. I am actually not very good at riding a bike in general, and I was especially bad at it when I was pregnant. For me, being pregnant felt a lot like being seasick, and I never felt too steady on the bike. Luckily by now all of that is much improved, and after the first couple of miles I was able to relax and remember how great riding a bike can be. Unfortunately by the time we actually got to the pool, it was well past the time he usually eats his lunch, and he was due for another nap. A fair amount of crying ensued.

After I had managed to coax him to consume a reasonable amount of lunch (when he gets in a mood like that, he doesn't want to eat), we went into the pool area and I put some sunscreen on him. Of course, all the doctors and baby books and the internet and random people at the farmer's market and other mothers tell you that you have to put sunscreen on a baby, but I had my reservations about doing this. The last time I put sunscreen on him (yes, it was "baby sunscreen" and the bottle even boasted "pediatrician recommended"), he promptly got his hands in it and rubbed his eyes and then his eyes got so red and swollen I freaked out and almost took him to the ER. A lot of flushing out with water and comfort nursing finally made it better.

Well, the same thing happened with the sunscreen again at the pool. Much more crying ensued. We tried to cheer Will up by taking him into the baby pool and letting him splash around (something he loves to do in the bathtub). It was very bright out, and he refused to keep on his floppy hat or sunglasses, so the sun was in his eyes and he kept rubbing them. Now add chlorine to the sunscreen chemicals he had gotten in his eyes. He was a mess.

This whole thing wasn't working, so we took him out of the pool and I nursed him, which was probably what he wanted all along. I was suddenly very glad I had sucked it up and worn a 2-piece bathing suit. I'd had huge reservations about pouring my post-partum body into such a tiny suit, but practically speaking, I had known it would be the most convenient for nursing. It worked out pretty well. I was kind of surprised though, that the whole time we were at the baby pool I only saw one other mother nursing her baby. I guess I just kind of thought that when you go to a place with lots of babies, a lot of moms will be nursing.

Will took a bit of a nap in my arms and then was refreshed enough for a little bit more fun. (He even wrote about it on his blog)

Will gets into the pool with Dad
Will says, "I'm not sure about this."

Happy day
Will and dad

Splashy splashy
More splashing

Will & Mom
Note the strategically placed towel covering up giant overhanging post-partum belly

It was a good weekend. I suppose it would have been nice if we had gotten even more yard work and house work done, but at least we got to take junior swimming and go on a family bike ride. I'm already looking forward to our next adventures.