here we go again

I thought everything was going so well with Madison and breastfeeding, but earlier this week I discovered that she’s actually not gaining enough weight. That’s not to say that she’s unhealthy in any way, or that she’s starving in the least, but she should be gaining more weight.

We had a lot of struggles the first few days with breastfeeding, and she was losing more weight than is normal for newborns. It was a major struggle to get her back on track, but we got there with a lot of hard work and determination. After that, it seemed like she was doing extremely well. She’s strong physically, and other than the typical baby meltdowns and usual bottle battles, she’s a pretty happy baby. She is very alert and interested and is hitting all of her milestones ahead of time or right on track. She was also gaining 4 ounces per week, which is typical, though a bit on the low end.

Tummy time helps to strengthen neck and back muscles

Over the past two weeks, though, Maddy’s weight gain has slowed. Two weeks ago, she only gained 3 oz, which I didn’t think was a huge deal. But then last week she only gained two. When I asked the public health nurse about it, she sounded very concerned and said that she definitely isn’t getting enough to eat, and made me an appointment to come in for a consultation later in the week. I was devastated. I thought we were past all of this.

This week has been a bit of a roller coaster of emotions. Sometimes, I’ve felt really upset that “I haven’t been giving my baby enough food”. (I word it that way because that’s how I felt about it. Note the guilt and harshness.) Other times, I’ve been worried that I have a low milk supply. And still other times, I think – stop freaking out! She’s fine, she’s obviously strong, and that nurse is probably overreacting… Those are just guidelines, and are probably based on full Caucasian babies, Maddy is going to be smaller.

This morning we had our appointment, and it just happened to be with the nurse that was with us during our darkest day of early breastfeeding troubles. Her name is Katherine and she is wonderful. In fact, she was the one who gave me the inspiration for the name of this blog. She came to see us when Maddy was at her lowest weight. She had dropped from her birth weight of 6 lbs 8 oz to 5 lbs 14 oz.  Katherine left me notes for our breastfeeding plan, and at the end of it, she wrote – Remember, you are doing a wonderful job of mothering Madison. When I read those words, it brought tears to my eyes. I guess beneath all of that stress and tension around feeding, there was an underlying fear that I wasn’t a good enough mother because I couldn’t provide for my baby. Her words were a wonderful and needed reassurance that I was doing everything I could for my little girl.

Thankfully, today was much less stressful than that first visit with Katherine. We reviewed my log of feedings from the past several days, and she observed while Madison fed. (It’s funny how I can just whip a booby out now… Now that I’m breastfeeding, it seems like countless nurses have seen the Ladies.) In order to see how much milk Madison got during the feeding, she weighed her before and immediately after she ate. She got 2 ounces from the first side, then half an ounce from the second. I had thought that she had been getting more than that – 3-4 ounces from my estimation. I’m not sure why I thought that, but in any case, she was getting less than I had thought.

The plan now is to feed Maddy more often, especially during the evenings, and forget about the once a day bottle. (Funny, since I had pledged in a previous post that she would continue to get that bottle daily…) By eliminating that bottle, we are doing a couple of things. #1: One more feed off the boob. Milk production is a supply and demand job – the more often the breast is emptied, the more milk your body produces. One more feed may not seem like a lot, but at this point everything counts. #2: We are eliminating one instance of a negative feeding experience. Since we want Madison to eat more, we want the feeding experiences to be as positive as possible. However, the nurse said that I must get back to my life and activities, so if that means Dad or someone else has to give her a bottle when I go to play hockey or go to yoga, or just need some time out of the house, then they can give her a bottle at that time since it’s necessary. She reminded me that I CANNOT  feel guilty about doing these activities, and that my baby will not starve. She’ll take a bottle if she’s hungry enough, and if she can wait till I get back to eat, then she’ll just wait.

It’s a tough thing to get over that maternal worry. (Is it any wonder that maternal worry and eternal worry are so close??) In any case, we are putting this new plan into action right away. I play hockey tonight while Grandma and Auntie look after Maddy, and tomorrow night I am going to my work Christmas party. I will do my best to just enjoy myself and know that the munchkin is just fine.


the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

Madison still won’t take a bottle. (Without a fight, anyway.)

There are many things that I had hoped my daughter would inherit from me. My passion for the things that I love and people I care about, my determination and competitiveness, my love of animals, and my enjoyment of sports, among other things. While it’s still going to be some time before we see if those traits got passed along, it’s apparent that she’s gotten something else. I have a very keen sense of what I want, and if I can’t get it, nothing else will do. In Madison’s case, she wants the boob, not the bottle.

What? You want me to take a bottle? I don't think so...

I distinctly remember an episode of Empty Nest that perfectly illustrates my point. Does anyone remember that show? It must have been around the same time as Golden Girls… it was a show about a dad who lived with his two grown daughters. In this episode, the dad was telling his daughter about a desk that he had wanted when he was a boy. He wanted a specific one that had everything that he needed, but was given a different yet similar one as a gift. It had everything that he had wanted, except one thing – there were no cubbyholes. He wanted cubbyholes. And so, he was never happy with it. For some reason, I really related to that. When I want something, it has to be exactly that. I can’t settle for something less.

Little Miss Madison may only be 3 months old, but already she’s decided that she won’t settle for anything less than the real thing. Very occasionally, she will actually take the bottle, but never without a fight. Normally, it takes up to 45 minutes to get her to drink just 2 ounces from a bottle, when usually she breastfeeds for 10-15 minutes and drinks twice that amount. She’ll cry, scream, arch her back, turn her head away, just about anything to get away from that offensive fake nipple. She’d rather not eat at all than take a bottle.

This is a real challenge for me. It was really important to me that she be breastfed because all the research shows it’s so much better for babies. So, I was determined to make it work no matter what. Even in the early days when I was bleary eyed, exhausted and in tears at 3AM trying to get Madison to latch properly, then pumping to help increase my milk supply (a process that would take 30-40 minutes all in), there was no way I was going to give up and just give her formula because it was going to be easier. With all that struggle to get breastfeeding well-established, I never thought in a million years that we would be having the opposite problem. Everything I read said that bottle feeding was supposed to be so much easier for babies. Now I face the problem of being tied down to breastfeeding.

Although I’m back to playing coed hockey every Friday, we can never stay for food afterwards. We need to rush home so that I can feed Maddy and put her to bed. Grandmas and Aunties have tried diligently to get her to take a bottle, but she never takes the whole thing before they finally have to give up. It’s been really tough. As great as it is to even be able to get out at all, I really miss being able to go upstairs after a game and enjoy some wingies and a drink with the rest of the team. Sometimes I feel cut off from being able to have any independence at all. I feel jealous of other moms who have that freedom to go out for an afternoon or an evening since someone else can feed their baby.

I can only hope that eventually she takes to our little silicone friend. Luckily, the same stubbornness that drives her not to take it is rooted in me. I’m determined to keep trying, with one bottle every single day. We’ll see who wins out in the end.

battling the bottle

It was extremely important to me that I would be able to breastfeed my baby. After all, there is so much research that shows the benefits of breastfeeding. There’s everything from passing on important antibodies to the baby, development of speech capabilities, less chance of childhood obesity and better emotional and intellectual development to benefits for mom like reducing risks of breast cancer and returning to pre-pregnancy weight.

A huge part of the reason I wanted to try to give birth naturally, with no medications if at all possible, was because of what I had learned in my prenatal classes. We took a Lamaze course, which emphasizes movement and breathing to aid in a natural childbirth. They taught us that often, medications slow down labour even though they reduce pain, and that starting with one med usually means you’ll need even more interventions. It’s possible that baby may be affected by the meds and can interfere with breastfeeding. As far as I know, the only pain medication that does not have any effect on baby or on breastfeeding is the Entonox, the laughing gas, since it passes in and out of your system very quickly. Therefore, it was the only medication I was very willing to take during my labour, even though I still wanted to see if I could do without it.

We were lucky that even though we had a rough start with breastfeeding, as most mothers and babies do, breastfeeding was well established by about 4 weeks. (All babies lose weight at the start, up to 10% of their birth weight, but Maddy was losing TOO much weight.) Now it was time to introduce the bottle so that I would not be tied down to breastfeeding 24/7. The timing for introducing the bottle is pretty delicate. Do it too early, and it could interfere with breastfeeding since getting milk from the bottle is easier than from the breast. Do it too late, and baby may refuse it because she’s too attached to your breast. I’ve read that the timeline for starting baby on the bottle is no earlier than 4 weeks, and no later than 6.

We started right in the middle, at just after 5 weeks, but I’m afraid we might have waited too long. I was just so concerned about nipple confusion that I really wanted to make sure Maddy was 100% set at breastfeeding. We have had a lot of challenges introducing the bottle, from pumping enough milk to getting baby to take the bottle from others.

No one really tells you that feeding a pump is so much harder than feeding your baby! It’s like you have to fool your body into thinking it’s a real feed.Some of the suggestions I’ve come across for pumping more milk are to be in a relaxed and quiet place and to think of your baby, maybe even look at a picture of her while pumping. Warming your breast with a hot shower or warm cloth, mixed with massage and picturing streams of milk, can also help stimulate milk letdown. I’ve tried all of these things and still had a lot of trouble getting more than 1/2 an ounce in a single pumping session of about 10-20 minutes. It can become really frustrating, not to mention time consuming, when you only get 2 oz of milk, enough for one bottle, after pumping all day long! Two days ago, I found the solution to getting more milk while pumping: Do it in the morning with baby on your lap. The hormone that makes your body produce milk is most abundant at night, so your breasts should be quite full at your first morning feed. This morning, I was able to get just over 2.5 oz in a single session! That means I don’t have to pump any more for the rest of the day, freeing me up to do other things and relieving me of a lot of stress worrying about getting enough milk for her daily bottle.

Now, the other challenge we’ve had is getting Maddy to take a bottle from anyone other than mom. It kind of defeats the purpose of the bottle if I’m the only one that can give it to her! Now that I’m back at hockey, and would also like to have the occasional night out or glass of wine (I DO love my Riesling!), I really need Madison to accept a bottle of expressed breast milk from whoever is taking care of her. We are giving her one bottle per day, usually from Dad, but a few others have tried with little or no success. In fact, the only person other than me who has had no problem getting Maddy to drink a bottle is Murray’s mom.

Some of the tips I’ve read about for getting baby to take a bottle are warming up the nipple so that it’s more like skin temperature, using a low-flow nipple, sitting baby more upright so that they don’t choke on the milk, having the person feeding her put something with mom’s scent on it over themselves (like draping a nightgown over their shoulder), and making sure that baby is not frantically hungry when they offer the bottle. It’s been frustrating for everyone who’s tried without success, and worrisome for me. For my mental health, I need to have some me time. I need to be able to go and play hockey, to have a date night, to go to the spa and do other errands that take more than the two hour window between feedings.

Last night, I think we had a breakthrough, though. We’ll have to test it again tonight to see if it works again. Murray suggested that it was my voice that would soothe her, so we tried having him hold her sideways, just like I hold her while breastfeeding, and while he held the bottle, I would talk to her like I do when I feed her. It worked like a charm! Dad had tried for a few minutes on his own without success, and as soon as we tried this method, she latched on to that bottle nipple and drank a full two ounces! It’s funny how at first  we were so concerned about her taking to the breast, and now that is the easy part…

Tonight, we’ll have Auntie give her a bottle using this trick, and tomorrow it will be Lola (Filipino for Grandma) who gets to try her hand at it. I have a feeling my Mom will have no problems at all, since Lola seems to have the magic touch with all babies, but especially with her cherished granddaughter.

and now, fighting out of the red corner…

Weighing in at 8 pounds and 12 ounces, it’s the Challenger, Madison Mayhem Gibson… In the blue corner, it’s a tandem team, the reigning sleep champs: Mommy and Daddy!

She kicked our asses last night.

Madison has been going through a growth spurt for the past few days. I thought we had settled in to a manageable sleep pattern where we could put her to bed around 8 or 9PM, then she would sleep for about 4 hours before she woke for her first feeding. Next, she would sleep for about 3 hours, then wake up for feedings every two hours or so. She was getting much better about falling asleep right away after I fed her, so the whole process of a diaper change (if needed), breastfeeding, and then rocking her back to sleep was only taking about 20-30 minutes. Not too bad, definitely something I could cope with and not feel terrible the next day.

However, over the past several days she has been quite irritable, crying more than usual, and generally fussy. Two nights ago, she was up every 1-2 hours, wanting to be fed. I was exhausted, especially because I had played my first hockey game in almost a year. Dealing with the frequent wakings on top of sore muscles that hadn’t been used in months was killing me! Last night, M managed to put her to bed at about 10PM. I was sure she would be up by midnight for another feed, or 12:30 if we were lucky. To my delight and surprise, she didn’t wake for a feeding until 1:45.

Good, I thought to myself, maybe this growth spurt is finally over and she’s going back to a more reasonable schedule!

I picked her up from her bassinet, took her to her room and changed her. Then I turned off the lights and settled in to breastfeed. She fussed and kept latching and unlatching. Finally, after several minutes, she seemed to be finished. I sat her up to burp her, which she never likes. After a minute or two, and no burp, it seemed like she didn’t need to burp and so I swaddled her back up and rocked her to sleep. Once she was sound asleep, I quietly made my way back to our room and set her down in her bassinet.

Only moments after I crawled back into bed, she started crying again. I knew she couldn’t be hungry, I had just finished feeding her! So, M got up to try to rock her back to sleep. Thank goodness this was a weekend and not a weeknight. Otherwise, I would have had to get up myself. Right away, she started howling. This was not her normal cry, she was screaming. I could hear her crying from her room for 45 minutes, as Dad tried everything to calm her down. He changed her, tried to burp her, rubbed her belly, rubbed her back, rocked her, bounced her, cuddled her, shushed her, sang to her, but nothing worked. I lay awake in our bed the whole time because she was so loud! Finally, I thought, she must still be hungry, so I dragged myself out of bed and headed over to her room and took over from M. It was 3AM. She ate for a few minutes, but was still fussy and kept latching and unlatching. Once she was finished, I was able to re-swaddle her and rock her back to sleep in my arms.

I put her back in her bed, but she was up yet again at 4AM demanding to be fed. I groaned aloud – Even though I had fallen asleep immediately, it was one of those sleeps that felt like you didn’t get any rest at all. It felt like I had just closed my eyes when she woke me up again. This time, I fed her from both breasts with the hopes that she would let us sleep for longer. Instead of going back in her bassinet, she lay bundled in our bed, laying between our pillows up near our heads. She slept this time until about 7AM, but the damage was done… We had been beaten down. I looked at M and he actually had a black eye from being up for so long. His left eye was purple. While I didn’t have the same external signs of the ass-kicking, I felt like I had been hit by a bus. My mouth was dry, my body ached and I felt generally awful.

Babies grow something like three times their size in the first year, and most of this growth happens in several short bursts. Typically, these occur at about 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months and 9  months. (Read more about infant growth spurts.) Supposedly, these growth spurts mean that baby is more irritable, and demand to be fed much more often than usual. That describes Maddy’s temperament lately perfectly. They’re only supposed to last about 2 days, but it’s been several days now. I really hope and pray that last night was the peak of her growth spurt (and the mayhem that ensues) and that she’ll get back on a more human schedule tonight. I don’t think I can handle too many more nights of this.

jumping over the boards

I haven’t played hockey since December 2009. For someone who usually plays 2 times a week, this means that I’ve probably put on a lot of rust. I used to play on two teams, my Women’s team, the Martinis, and my coed team, the Huskies. My coed team is made up of husbands/wives, girlfriends/boyfriends, sons/daughter/dads, and neighbors. So, we’re pretty close knit. And we’re also not very good. Not to say we’re crappy hockey players, but let’s just say we belong in the lower division where we are currently placed.

Huskies Coed Hockey Team


The hockey is fun, but I feel like a big part of why we play is also just to hang out with each other every Friday night. We’re not 20 anymore, so this is our social time! I have missed hockey a ton, especially when my fatigue had worn off a bit during my pregnancy and I was able to go out and watch a few games. It sucks to watch from the sidelines! Especially when we were losing, I really wished that I could be out there trying to make a difference. I’m competitive and it killed me to not be out there playing my ass off. I’m not the most skilled player, but I can skate pretty well and no one could ever say I took a shift off. I’ve played sports my whole life, and it’s hard to not be right in the thick of things.

Back in eighth grade, I had an inclination to be a cheerleader. The outfits were cute, I liked to dance, and I had taken gymnastics as a kid. But then I found out that the season and schedule conflicted with actually playing on the team. So, I had to make a decision – cheer for the Boys team or play on the Girls team. The choice was obvious. (Unfortunately for me, I missed parts of a few games because I kept getting fouled out of games. See – that competitive streak again…)

You can imagine how pumped I am to finally be playing my first game back tonight. I have no idea how I’ll do. Hopefully I remember how to skate. I suppose skating is sort of like riding a bicycle, but I guess we’ll find out tonight. I haven’t really exercised much during my pregnancy or after I gave birth. The most I’ve done is some walking. I did buy a pregnancy yoga DVD at the start of the year, but I only actually used it twice. It will be interesting to see how my lungs hold up. I could be completely gassed after 30 seconds! Hopefully I do OK, and I’m not completely written off tomorrow.

I have gotten the go ahead from the doc to start exercising again, but she cautioned me to take it slow and see how I feel. I have also read that doing strenuous exercise can deplete your milk supply. Since breastfeeding is extremely important to me, I want to make sure that I don’t overdo it. Keeping this in mind should be a good incentive for me to take things slow.

I have a tendency to push myself too much, so I need to be really aware of how I’m feeling and actually pay attention to what my body is telling me. A perfect example would be when I did the Sun Run a couple of years ago. I was never a “runner” even though I played tons of sports. It seemed boring and pointless. However, after doing one of those Survivor Boot Camps, I saw a huge improvement in my running ability and decided to keep running after our class had ended. I actually grew to enjoy running and continued to run a few times per week. Running for the sake of running just didn’t cut it for me, though – I needed a challenge: Do the Vancouver Sun Run. It’s a 10K run, and a joined a training club to help me prep. My goal was not just to complete the run, it was to be able to run the entire 10K with no stopping or walking. It turns out my body just isn’t made for long runs. My flat feet and curved shin bones meant I was putting a lot of pressure on my ankles and knees. Being as stubborn and competitive as I am, I continued to train through the discomfort. On race day, I felt like my knee was going to explode around the 7K mark, but I pushed through it. I literally limped the last kilometer, all the time telling myself that I HAD to keep going, I was so close to achieving my goal. It turns out I did myself a major disservice. I had what looked like a golf ball sticking out of my knee the next day, and spent the next several weeks in rehab.

So, when I jump over the boards tonight (not literally, I’m too short and I’d definitely fall on my butt), I have to remember to take it easy, even when I think I can take the puck away from that guy in the corner…

rocking the draft

For the past 4 years or so, I’ve been in a hockey pool with a bunch of guys I went to high school with. Before that, I was often the “secretary” – attending draft night and keeping track of everyone’s picks. Then finally, I thought, man, I should be IN this pool! So, I started ponying up the $50 entry fee and drafted my team. I`ve got some good bragging rights: Out of a group of about 13 to 15, I`ve been in the money three out of the four years. That`s pretty solid.

Usually we meet at someone`s house and gather around a table with drinks and our McKeen`s hockey yearbooks to draft our teams. However, this year a bunch of the guys were out of town, so it was decided that we would do an online draft instead. We used Yahoo! Fantasy Sports live draft. I initially thought, great, this will probably actually be a lot easier for us since we have the baby and it might be tough to tote Madison to someone`s house. Not the case!!!

Imagine trying to play GM while you`ve got a baby attached to your boob! Yes, I had to breastfeed right in the middle of the draft. I think it was during the 10th round. (I think that`s when I took Shane Doan, PHO) Even when I wasn`t feeding her, I was still holding her in one arm, so it made it pretty tough to look through my magazine to decide who I wanted to take next. Normally, I consult the points predictions page, then cross-reference players that I`m considering by checking out their team page. I read their notes, check out last year`s performance, see what line they`re predicted to play on, who they`ll play with and if they`re predicted to play on the power play. Near the end of the draft, I had to rock her to sleep, so I counted on the Yahoo! Watch List feature to select a few players I was interested in and hope that they were not all taken by the time it was my turn to select. Luckily, I was able to be back at the computer with about 45 seconds to choose my last pick. (Erik Christensen, NYR)

So – I don`t know if I drafted well enough to be in the money again this year, but I guess we`ll see. Overall, I think I`m pretty pleased with my team.

Forwards: Kane, Parise, Elias, Sharp, Knuble, Doan, Antropov, Kunitz, Bolland, Hartnell, Christensen

Defense: Pronger, Goligosky, Hjarmarsson

Rookie: Neiderreiter

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