27 March 2014


It's amazing what it's like struggling with low milk supply. You tell people you have problems making milk, and they instantly advise you on all the things you can do to increase supply- skin to skin, keep baby on the boob, pump often, eat oatmeal/brewers years/flaxseed meal, take fenugreek/goats rue/etc herbs, drink mother's milk tea, non alcoholic malt drink, and lots of water... and if all else fails, you can always ask for reglan. Oh, and "your body always makes enough milk."

Shut the front door. Statistically, 5% of women have chronic low supply, meaning, "no, your body *doesn't* always make enough milk." Seemingly I would be part of that 5%. And after struggling with Zeke and trying to breastfeed him, and with my struggles with Hannah, I was pretty certain I had low milk supply.

Actually, while I was pregnant with Hannah I did LOTS of research on milk supply. And low milk supply. And I was actually so sure that I had IGT (Insufficient Glandular Tissue) but when I sent in my topless picture to a specialist she said, "Honey, some of these girls would kill for boobs like those." So, my "dream" of finding an answer was smashed. Since I didn't have IGT. So I had hope, that if I did enough, then perhaps this time would be different. I could exclusively breastfeed (EBF).

So when the weight dropped off Hannah, even after lactaction visits, the breast whisper, the upper lip clipped, supplements for mom... I was desperate. I walked into my midwife appointment hopeful she would listen to me, hopeful she would give me domperidone but realistically expecting her to give me reglan. To at least try.

And she did. Bless her heart. Dana listened to me (she is also the one that delivered Zeke!). She asked me questions, I asked for a thyroid test and she was pleased I did. And then came the Reglan talk. She would prescribe it, but she was concerned about the side effects, the effectiveness, etc. I told her I wanted one last shot to try. To make enough for my daughter.

Then she said the most amazing thing, "some women can't make enough milk, and they will always have to supplement."

The heavens opened and sang. Not really, but it was amazing to have someone that believed me. That commended me for all my efforts... and was willing to listen.

I'm on two weeks of Reglan, which may or may not work... and for now- I am grateful for someone that listened and believed me.

For the record-the midwife does think I have IGT, just not the typical physical markers but I display a lot of the characteristics.

25 March 2014

A slow progression

It's been a long and short three weeks. Hannah's weight issues/my milk issues have been overwhelming. And life consuming. Think about it, since her birth I have stayed home (except for doctor appointments and one "free" day I saw my friend after she delivered) to pump, and feed my daughter. To have as much skin to skin time, this girl hardly wears clothes. She wears a shirt when we go out, because we want to protect her skin from the carseat. I also, hardly wear any clothes. With all the boob access she needed, I walk around topless. And mostly without pants too.

I've had highs and lows. I thought we were fixing my milk issues, she still didn't gain weight. Thought we were making progress, she lost weight. Every time I go to the doctor's office to do a weight check, I cry on the way there. For one reason or another. My body has failed me, I've failed my daughter, God has failed me (yup I said it, I'm real). We tried a weight check before and after a feeding, only to have a malfunction with the scale and an 'estimate' that she only took in 20ml. And finally, on Monday we had a break. Kind of. She was up from 3.5kg to 3.8kg. Almost 7lbs 12oz, from 7lb 5.5oz the Friday before. That poor girl... babies are expected to gain about an oz a day... not 6 ounces over the weekend!

But... she's gaining weight. And I am slowly trying to come to terms with supplementing. Tomorrow is an appointment with a midwife, to discuss testing to check thyroid and a request for Reglan. I'm grasping at straws and I would like a chance to really do this. If not to increase my supply so my baby girl is off formula.

We will see. And for now, I press on.

Hannah's entrance into the world

Since I have *so* much more hands-free time (I have to get the baby off my chest when she's sleeping in order to pump)... I might as well start working on the birth story!

As it was with Zeke, I was fairly done being pregnant. I was done after my Masters was completed, 15 Feb. And I was so sure that Hannah was coming early because her due date was off. It became apparent I was wrong as the days dragged on after the 15th. I did start having Braxton Hicks (BH) contractions the 15th, but they just started to get annoying since I knew they were just false alarms. I tried to tell myself they were getting my body ready for a faster labor, at least hopefully.

At my 36 week appointment I saw CPT Swift (whom in my head I always referred to as Taylor, but her first name is Kristen). Then, we ended up seeing her for every appointment thereafter. Which was 38, 39 and 40 weeks. At our 39 week appointment she asked if I wanted her to strip/sweep my membranes and/or do a cervix check. I declined. Gracefully, even though she was more then ready and willing to do it. I told her if I was at my 40 week appointment she could do it then. At this point all my appointments were the day before the actual date (so, my 40 week appointment was on Thurs 2/27 instead of 2/28).

Needless to say, I ended up keeping that 40 week appointment, and she gladly swept my membranes, and informed me I was 3cm dilated. No big whoop. I did, however, inform my boss about what was happening at my appointment, and I preferred to not go back to work (it was a mid-morning appointment). He gladly agreed.

So Marcus and I had some lunch, went home. Hung out, took a nap, and picked up the kid. This is when his teacher Ms. Shannon asked when I was due. I told her Feb 28, and she said that Zeke was so upset at school because she was discussing that February was a short month, and it was almost over. Zeke responded that the month couldn't be over because baby sister hadn't arrived. We had been telling him that she was coming in February. I walked away, concerned that I was going to have to tell my son about how babies come whenever and I lied to him.

Life went on...in the early evening I lost my mucus plug for the third time, but this time there was some blood tinge to it. Alas, my cervix was finally doing some serious action.

We headed to bed and I woke up to the bathroom call and a contraction. No big deal, figured if it was the real deal I needed to get as much rest as possible. And I headed back to sleep. At midnight I woke up again to contractions and realized I needed to move around to get through them, because I couldn't just lay down. I also felt some warmth in between my legs, and *assumed* it was my water leaking (as it did with Zeke). I started timing them with some random app. I knew Marcus was gonna need some sleep, so I tried to let him... I called the midwife pager because I was thinking they were kind of picking up, and figured since my "water broke" and I was having contractions already, it was a good sign. When the midwife called me back, as figured she was concerned about water breaking, so she suggested we come in. I woke up Marcus and told him we needed to head to the hospital. I called my mom and left a voicemail, called Kayleigh the birth photographer, and we started getting ready.

Marcus left to drop off Zeke (I was not about to be in a car with contractions any longer than I needed to be). He got back and we loaded up our stuff and headed to the hospital. I think we got there around 2ish (we were taking our time). Of course there was some sweet Stork parking (at 2am!), and we grabbed ALL of our stuff (a body pillow, regular pillow, suitcase, and Marcus had a backpack, and I had a messenger bag). I am sure we looked like we were moving in, but I was determined to be comfortable!

Headed into the triage room and got hooked up for contractions and baby monitoring. Everything was looking great... midwife came in and asked me about dilation, etc. She said, if my water broke and she did a cervical check, I would have to stay at the hospital. If my water didn't break, she could check dilation, and then we could make a decision. She did a swab and left (to check if my water break). Marcus and I were discussing, it was almost 3am, and the thought of having to drive back home, only to have to turn around and come back to Tripler before traffic picked up... was not amusing. We were leaning towards wanting to be admitted.

When the midwife came back she said my water had not broken (great news! no time limit like last time), and that it was just mucus. Apparently, I had a lot of mucus... I lost three mucus plugs...anyway. Load 'em up and check that cervix. I was at 5cm! Although, at the time I don't think I really thought 5cm was anything to write home about. I mean, I didn't think I'd be out of dodge until I was past 7cm (where I got stuck with Zeke). The midwife recommended I be admitted, and Marcus and I willingly agreed.

I was admitted at approximately 0330. I felt like it took a while for everything to come through. We eventually headed through the halls to get into a labor room. All I was thinking was hoping that I could have reception in our room, but alas. To no avail. The nurse did try to sell us the room since it was the closest one from triage. I guess I wasn't sounding so hot. Or something, the nurse definitely pointed out that the room was the closest.

So we started to get settled. I'm not sure what that means, to get settled... but I started talking to the nurse and midwife about our birth photographer, I asked Marcus to go outside and call Kayleigh (the photographer) and let her know labor was serious and were staying at Tripler. I reminded the staff that I wanted to take my placenta home. They did some fetal monitoring (which, by the way, I do not enjoy having anything on my belly during contractions), and I have no idea what we did. We talked about what the game plan was, I wanted a natural, drug/intervention free birth. There might have been more, I'm not really sure.

Next thing I know Kayleigh showed up, I introduced her to Marcus, and had him give her the signed paperwork, we continued with contractions. I moved all over the dang room. I tried everything: sitting on the ball, leaning on Marcus, bent over the chair (almost like being on all fours), I can't really remember what else we did. There was a lot of movement. The midwife recommended I go into the tub, I told her I wanted to wait. She said if I wanted to speed things up, I could have her break my water, I told her I wasn't ready for things to get really intense and wanted to see how they progressed on their own.

As we got closer to shift change (0645) we did a cervix check. Making steady progress at 8cm and I was getting tired. I had thankfully taken a nap in the early evening (which I normally don't do because it messes up my sleep cycle, but I was so tired, I took it as my body needing rest and perhaps preparing for labor. Man am I glad I listened!) but I was still feeling the effects of labor on my body. The midwife suggested the tub again, and this time I told her I was scared of the tub. This probably sounded ridiculous to her, but as soon as she suggested it, I realized, I was actually scared of it. Scared because with Zeke, I went into the tub at 7cm with labor progressing great, only to get in and have the contractions slow down significantly, and my labor stall for a few hours and ultimately lead to pitocin. I didn't want my labor to stall with Hannah, and I did not want pitocin. The midwife kindly told me that she was confident I would not stall, and if I did, she would recommend breaking water before giving me pitocin.

I agreed. I needed rest. And man did that tub feel awesome.

I am not sure how long we were in the tub for, long enough for shift change to be over. I knew Kristen was coming on shift, and I knew she'd be happy to see me. She was all smiles as she walked in (before shift change, she came in early), saw me in the tub, and told me she was very excited for this delivery. I could tell she was.

She's a sweet gal. Super energetic and zealous, and yet in the moments when I didn't need her excitement and energy, she definitely toned it down.

After maybe an hour in the tub, I'm not really sure, I decided to come out, because I thought I might need to start pushing.

I tried different positions, squatting on this birthing chair, that didn't work out so well... Also on the ball... but it felt like a little push nothing serious. And then I felt like it was being blocked. I wasn't quite sure if it was even time to push, but it was getting tiring. At this point, Kristen offered to break my water... and  I declined. I wanted to wait. I didn't feel like I could handle the labor picking up any faster so I told her I'd wait until about 8 or 830 (it was about 720ish right then). I went through a few contractions, and I looked at the clock. It was 730. I couldn't wait another 30 min or an hour, I needed my water to break, I needed it to be done. Now.

By that point Kristen had left, so I used the nurse call button, and may not have a conversation like this, "Yes, I need Kristen to come in to break my water." "Your water broke?" "NO, I need her to break my water now!"

So she came in and started to get ready. She had to perfectly time it between contractions, so after one she went in... and was doing something, and taking her time... I could feel another contraction coming soon. I told Kristen that she needed to hurry because I wasn't going to be able to NOT kick her in the face. She said I was squishy and finally broke my water around 0745. She thought I was going to have a lot of liquid come out, but it wasn't a gush at all. Just some trickles.

I don't remember much... just thinking that the end better be near soon because I was getting very tired. My body was worn. My legs were tired from what felt like a long time (4hrs in the hospital) of laboring while standing up or other leg taxing positions. Kristen recommended the "Princess" position. Basically, they get rid of the bottom of the bed, and try to help position you so that you're similar to squatting but not taxing your legs. Little by little I started sitting up more to try and help get off my back. I felt like I needed to push. But it was a slow push. And after some pushes, I couldn't feel her moving down like how I remembered Zeke moving down during labor. I asked Kristen to talk me through the path that Hannah had to take in order to come out. I told her, "After she moves out of the cervix then where does she go?" I feel like I needed to hear it, and visualize her movement, so I could have something to focus on. To keep my mind focused on her moving down and out. It seemed like a long time of this weird slow pushing... but I know it wasn't that long at all.

The contractions started to get more intense and the urge to push also got more intense. I finally was feeling her move, and I felt like I was all out of energy. I had nothing. I told Kristen that I didn't think I could go on (this is when she started to suit up-she knew the baby was coming). In my head I wanted to say that I couldn't go on, that I gave up. But I remembered a conversation with Marcus when we found out we were pregnant. I told him I wanted to do Crossfit through the pregnancy, he told me if I did, I couldn't say that I gave up like I did during Zeke's delivery.

So in that moment of the pushing through contractions, I thought- okay Brenda, you did Crossfit. You have strength and the ability to do this. Then the contractions started to get closer and closer...and I had to be very diligent about my pushing and catching a breath to push. I don't remember much about the ring of fire, but I remember Kristen telling me to wait... so through one contraction I did the horse lips to prevent myself from pushing but after that... I had to push...and out she came.

With a nice little cry and about one second wiping her down real quick-they put her on my chest.

And that was all she wrote.

23 March 2014

A troubled day in paradise.

Today (when I started writing this-Fri 3/21), baby Hannah is three weeks old. We also had her lactation appointment today, to see how much she was taking in per feeding (to get a better idea of how much to supplement, maybe get some good news, something).

Needless to say, we did not get good news. Despite our efforts and her relatively calm demeanor... she only took in about 20ml for the feeding, or about 2/3 of an ounce. At her age she should be taking in about 1.5-2oz a feeding. So, we got a strict table on how much we should be supplementing (giving her extra food, either formula or breastfeeding) after every feeding.

So a little part of me died again, and cringed at the thought of my baby girl hungry, and amazed that she had a relatively good demeanor despite her lack of food.

And then we had to go to the OB clinic for a walk-in appointment, since I was concerned my tear from delivery tore again. Great news, it didn't tear, I just have my first hemorrhoid. And mistakenly (without thinking) I cancelled my midwife appointment for Monday (tomorrow) because I was thinking, "Oh this whole tear thing is resolved..." totally spacing on the fact that I wanted to talk to them about Reglan or Domperidone to help with the milk supply.  Sigh.

Tomorrow we go to Hickam for a weight check, and I'll be calling Tripler for some meds. Unless someone in Canada or Australia or NZ wants to overnight me some Dom. ;)

17 March 2014

Birth Photos

We had a very unique opportunity to have a birth photographer present at Hannah's birth. She made a post on a FB group about looking for someone giving birth soon, so she could expand her portfolio. I'll admit, I originally contacted her because I thought she might be free since she was doing this to expand her portfolio. Alas, she wasn't free, but her price was incredibly reasonable, considering she was shooting for being present for the last 6hrs of birth.   We scheduled our "meeting" to discuss some things and finalize on Sunday, 3/2... as you know we never made it to that meeting, so our first time in person was at the hospital when she showed up.

Some people might be weirded out by a stranger being in the room with you, but if you know me, there aren't a lot of strangers. She is a nice young lady, with her own daughter. She was incredibly encouraging, respectful, and awesome during our time together. I love this pictures, as raw and real as they are. Some say the second child gets less photos, but in this case- Hannah didn't get the short end of the stick. 

I am not sure any of them really need captions. Except to know that the picture of me looking at Marcus isn't a look of disgust, but of total amazement and almost tears that we made it through.

I promise a labor blog coming soon. With all this pumping, I'm sure I'll have time to do it now!

Well Then...

In the last post I mentioned getting breastfeeding under control... that was apparently a lie.

We had our two week checkup last Friday, and despite being on the boob all the time (as it felt), she had actually *lost* weight since her weigh check a few days earlier on Monday. Yeah, a big sucker punch to the stomach since she had steadied her weight the previous Wed (3/5) to Thurs (3/6) to that Monday (3/10). We thought we were on the upswing of things. I knew I had milk, she was pooping... sure she had a few crazy fits that perhaps seemed to get worse as time went on... but...

So here we are again. We were encouraged told to supplement at least an ounce (30ml) after each breast feeding. Either using formula or breastmilk that I had pumped. Well, let me tell you, I can't exactly pump out an ounce combined from both breasts after a feeding... and if we're supposed to supplement an ounce after every feeding, then it adds up she gets formula. After reading a few *hippie* blogs, I had already chosen a formula I wanted to use, and we picked it up from Whole Foods at the beginning of this feeding fiasco (when we were told to supplement then (3/5). We stopped supplementing after Saturday (3/8) evening's visit from Janis, a local lactation lady that does house calls. She encouraged me, changed our position and latch, and told me I was making enough milk. She said if I kept baby skin to skin (BFing topless), stayed in bed, chilled out... I would definitely make enough milk, and she expected her weight to be up by her weight check on Monday (3/10). I called her after the appt, she was happy her weight was down, I was encouraged to keep doing what I was doing. I nearly threw away the feeding tube we had been using to supplement with the syringe while BFing. Hannah had started to catch on to my sheenanigans... and didn't like it.

After all that fiasco... you can imagine my devastation when on Friday, after what seemed like an almost entire week of successful breastfeeding... turned out to be null and void. The doctor had no reason for her weight loss. She was peeing and pooping, her mouth was hydrated, she seemed like a healthy baby, other than the weight loss. She was down to 7lb 1oz (3.2 kg) from her earlier weight in of 7lb 4oz (3.3kg). My dream of having an exclusively breastfed (EBF) baby was disappearing before my eyes.

It leaves me here, at 0127, pumping after Hannah took both sides and threw herself off, although still hungry (still rooting around, sucking on random things-classic hunger signs)...and yet NOT latching on the boob. Even though I know there's milk there, because I can squeeze it out. And if she latched for even a little bit, I could help by squeezing some out while she sucked. So Marcus uses his pinkie, and that blasted feeding tube, and gave her 30ml of formula. After three-four pumpings, I barely collect 30ml... and he gives her that.

The pumping is supposed to be twofold- gives us breastmilk to give Hannah, and encourages my body to make more. I don't know how that "more" part is working out... it sure doesn't feel like it.

In the midst of it all, I don't want to miss the glory of this newborn. The beauty of another child. The gift of life. I don't want to get so caught up in breast milk, formula, breast feeding... that I look back and only remember hurt and anger and frustration. It has created another faith crisis in me... but I am trying so hard to desperately trust God, seek His plan, and remember that He is in control.

I want to enjoy these little feet before they grow big and stinky...

13 March 2014

A Family of Four

It's crazy to think that we are now a family of four. Especially because I feel like at every chance I get I pawn off my son on other people. In all reality though, crazy kudos to you parents of multiples! (and pray for us, next week is Spring Break so Zeke doesn't have preschool). Thankfully, Zeke has been an awesome big brother, and has only had a few issues with jealousy (breastfeeding mostly & a little bit of the stroller) and he is so helpful.

I kept with the tradition of creating a blog for little Hannah and made her first post, as well as one for big brother. And somehow I have figured out that if I keep Hannah on my chest, and bring my knees up, I can type on my computer (hence blogging, almost 2 weeks after her birth).

I don't know where to start. It has been a whirlwind of an adventure, starting with trying to be patient with her arrival (I was so sure she was coming early!) and then pushing through labor (no pun intended), and then persevering through breastfeeding issues. Thankfully, Hannah doesn't have any jaundice issues like Zeke did, so she's awake and ready to feed, and now we are (exclusively breast) feeding successfully. I think I'll break down all those things into separate blogs. But for now, here are some pictures for your enjoyment (likely similar to the ones on Hannah's blog).

Beginning hour of life... skin to skin 

Hanging out with daddy shortly after birth

One tired mommy... finally eating breakfast (2hrs later)

As we were heading out from the Delivery Room and to the Recovery Ward, we literally ran into Zeke and my mom in the hallway. Bummed we didn't get any pics of that initial meeting but Zeke was so excited to see his little sister in the bassinet. Our family pic <3 p="">
One proud Grandma (My mom)

Making a break for it! Heading home (1 Mar)

Mommy-Baby bonding time... with some big brother too :)

Playing with camera settings. One of the many tricks we do to try and keep her sleeping (without her being on your chest).

 Great Grandma meeting Hannah (2 Mar).

A grandson, and her two great-grandchildren. One very proud great-grandma.

Hannah meeting her girlfriend, Eden (who is 2lbs bigger than her, but 10 days younger).

Her labor and birth story will come in a little bit, but in the end, I am so grateful for Marcus. He has been an amazing partner in all of this, and I am incredibly grateful for him.