Saturday, 11 May 2013

Tandem Nursing Adventures

How will this work? Do I nurse the little one first and then the big one? Will they want to nurse at he same time or one after the other? Would I enjoy nursing Lennon once the new sweetness had arrived? Can I physically keep up with the demands?

These were just a small fraction of the questions I asked myself often during my pregnancy. Of course I couldn't know until I arrived here how everything would play out. I did try to prepare myself by finding friends who were tandem nursing so I could talk with them and receive support, hooking up with my local La Leche League and I read the book "Adventures in Tandem Nursing". All have proved as great assets in my positive transition from nursing a toddler to nursing a toddler and a newborn. I'm sure that they will continue to be crucial as my journey progresses.

So far, things have been fantastic. I was fortunate to have a great start to my nursing relationship with Mackenzie, who has had no latch issues and is dealing well with my over supply and the difficulty it brings. I first tandem nursed the girls only 4 or 5 hours after Mackenzie was born. We were all cuddling in our bed (she was born at home), and they both wanted to nurse. I was resting and nursing Mackenzie on my side so I let Lennon climb up and reach over my other side to nurse. Luckily, at 28 months, Lennon has some serious skills so nothing really fazes her. It was a wonderful experience and I fell in love with both of them even more in this moment.

From then on, it seems we tandem nurse together at least 2 times a day. Lennon is only allowed to nurse 4 times a day but at first, with all the extra milk, she was nursing a lot more to keep me from getting clogged ducts. Most mornings and nap times though we cuddle in bed and I hold both of them in my arms, nursing them. It has been powerful to watch their relationship grow through breastfeeding. Lennon will gently hold Mackenzie's hand, or watch as her little sister nurses. The other night, Lennon gently rubbed Mackenzie's head, all around her ears and eyes, until Mackenzie closed her eyes in complete comfort and satisfaction. Love doesn't get much purer than that!

I have found that nursing Lennon is easier for me when I am also nursing Mackenzie. My oxytocin seems higher and I feel more comfortable and at ease. During my pregnancy I had quite an aversion to nursing and sometimes I feel it creep back. I remind myself of how sweet and young Lennon still is and how much she needs this connection with me. Especially in these moments when her world has been flipped upside down and she wonders if mama is still thinking of her as much with this new needy little person around.

I'm excited to continue this breastfeeding journey with these two girls and watch as they grow and share together. 

If anyone has any questions or things you would like me to address in another post about tandem nursing or nursing through pregnancy I would be happy to help out!

Friday, 19 April 2013

Mackenzie Joan's Birth Story

When my due date came and went, I wasn't overly worried as this had happened with Lennon as well. But when the day after that came and went, which was the day Lennon arrived, I was pissed. It was hard being pregnant with a two year old to keep up with and little help because James had to be at work  during the week. I felt tired and worried that I wasn't going to be able to birth this little baby with all I was still doing. Four days after my due date and she still hadn't arrived so James made plans to work from home and help me with Lennon. This definitely helped me feel a sense of ease that maybe it would all work out after all. I went to my 40 week midwife appointment and whined and moaned about still being pregnant and letting go of expectations and the experience of my first birth (which was awesome its just hard not to expect what you have already experienced). My midwife offered to check me and do a membrane sweep. I was torn between wanting to know and not wanting to be disappointed if I wasn't dilated at all. Lone behold I was 3 cm dilated and she was able to almost do a full 360 sweep which pretty much kicked me into early labor as I left. The contractions were fairly strong and about every 15 minutes. I wanted to go do yoga though and had been experiencing prodromal labor for weeks so figured it would either stop during yoga or I was actually in labor and yoga was just a nice opening before birth. 

The contractions continued through the yoga class but nothing strong enough for me to need to sit or move through differently. I got home around 8 pm and the contractions became quite a bit stronger. At this point, I knew I was in labor and she was coming pretty quickly. We put Lennon to bed and decided to get some sleep too since it was looking like an all night activity for us. We slept from 8:30 until about 10:45 when I woke up from strong contractions. I tried to continue laying down because I felt quite tired after being asleep and all mellowed out from yoga but these contractions were too strong. I woke James and we went downstairs, calling the midwives just after 11. Immediately when we got downstairs my contractions were only a couple of minutes apart. James put on some Bob Marley and I began to sway dance around our living room, lights dim and candles lit. I ate a bit of food and within half an hour my contractions were strong enough to need James to dance with me as I leaned on his body. We would kiss and laugh as he made silly jokes that kept me feeling happy and light. I was starting to circle my hips and do some low moaning. We told the midwives it was time to come over and they showed up within 15 minutes. 

I wasn't finding my rhythm with Bob Marley on, which is unheard of, so I tried Sublime but it only lasted for about 4 songs before I didn't want it either. The contractions were getting stronger although not necessarily closer together. I began feeling like maybe I was going to be in labor for quite awhile as I equated the experience to the birth of Lennon. My contractions in labor with Lennon eventually became one long contraction with no break. I thought that maybe I wasn't quite actively laboring because there was this sense of ease with how my labor was going. Although the contractions were strong and intense, I had these moments of rest where I would sit on the yoga ball and breathe deeply while listening to Xavier Rudd. The didgeridoo is a powerful instrument and works wonders in labor! 

I found that I was very inwardly focused, not relying much on James for help while I was in active labor. The midwives checked Mackenzie's heart, checked my temp, did all of the things they did but there was no talking between us. Later James told me that they had asked him if they thought I wanted space or for more involvement and without even having to ask me he knew I wanted to be left alone. And they all did. I wandered back and forth between our living room and bathroom, moaning and breathing deeply. Eventually I started to feel nauseous. Everything came up as I sat alone in the bathroom and I knew I was in transition. Even in this moment, I never said I couldn't do it or to make it stop. I sort of weeped a bit, feeling overwhelmed by the intensity but James told me as I made another loop around the living room that I was almost there. Meanwhile, Lennon was upstairs FAST ASLEEP. I had worried for months over whether to include her in the birth, who would be around for her as support, whether that person was the best thing for me to have around. After all the fretting, we didn't even call our friend to come over and help with Lennon because Lennon wasn't awake to need help. 

After a few more loops around the living room and another bought of intense vomiting, I found myself sitting on the toilet when that same unstoppable sensation came over me. I shouted to our midwives and James "I'm pushing". They came over and Angela took one look at me and said "Oh hunny I can see your baby's head. Do you want to deliver her here or upstairs?" We had set up our guest room for the birth so I wanted to move up there and keep things clean that way. I thought for sure this was when Lennon would wake up because she was just a room over. Either way, I finished the contraction and waddled upstairs with a baby almost out and squatted on the edge of our mattress which sits on a box spring right on the floor. James was awesome and put some Oka on (more didgeridoo) and took his place right in front of me, ready to catch our second daughter. Again, the contractions were never overlapping so I had these stretches of time as I waited and breathed through pushes. The first strong push I did resulted in my water not only breaking but popping and a huge squirt of amniotic fluid shot about two feet across the room and soaked James' pant leg. He laughed and stayed put. One push and her head was almost out. I could feel it move subtly back in as I stopped pushing. Second push and her head was born. It was strange waiting to push her shoulders out because Lennon came flying out full force head and shoulders in one push. Third push her shoulders came out and with a final fourth push the rest of her body came out. James caught her and passed her up to me. She was crying the moment she was out of the birth canal. Her whole body was covered in blood, which resulted in me being covered in blood after I held her close to my chest. No vernix except for a small amount in her little thigh crevices. 

She was born at 2 am and weighed 7 lbs 12 oz and was 19.5 inches long. She really let us all know that  she had arrived with quite a bit of crying at first. Once she calmed enough to latch on she realized life wasn't so bad outside of her warm little home. Even through the final pushes I was very loud, Lennon remained asleep. She woke up two hours after Mackenzie was born, giving us a really nice chunk of time to cuddle and meet and have all her newborn tests done. Lennon was surprised when she woke at 5 and our midwives were here and there was a baby in mommy's arms. She really wanted to nurse but accepted when I asked her to wait. 

By the end of it, both me and James were so happy with how fluid everything felt in this birth, how mellow it was and how quickly it happened. There was a true sense of ease and care free birthing power that made it a lovely and calm experience for everyone. 

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Kale Egg Bites Recipe

I posted this delicious looking photo of our breakfast this morning and was received by many requests for the recipe so here it is for everyone who wants in on this delicious creation! I first tried an egg bake like this at the Good Earth coffee shop in Kelowna and quickly started making them at home myself. There is a huge variety of ways you could make these: southwest bake with black beans, corn and mushroom, or ham and cheese, spinach and red bell pepper. This specific one was using up the last of my kale and an attempt to get more green veggies into all of our systems!

Kale Egg Bites

2 leaves of Kale, de-stemmed and sliced into thin pieces
8 eggs, whisked (I also added about a 1/3 cup milk)
2 tablespoons cottage cheese
2 teaspoons Mrs. Dash salt free all seasoning
butter for greasing pan

1) Grease a muffin pan.
2) Add cottage cheese to whisked eggs and combine.
3) Add kale and seasoning. Combine.
4) Pour into greased muffin containers to almost full.
5) Bake at 350F for 25-35 minutes dependent on how crisp you want the edges.
6) Allow to cool for 5 minutes then transfer to plate.
6) Enjoy!

So easy and quick and delicious!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Call for Submissions!

A couple of days ago I posted this picture on my Instagram feed:

I commented that we had been doing this since 5 am. As usual, I had a lot of my mama friends comment on how their day was exactly the same: breastfeeding a toddler non stop. Recently, I have been expressing my surprise at reaching the 2 year mark in my breastfeeding journey and finding that I'm actually nursing far more than any readings ever stated. On top of the constancy, comes all of the added elements of general toddler behaviour such as jumping, twisting, turning, kicking, biting, giggling, and the list goes on. All while breastfeeding. Where are the articles that talk about this stage of breastfeeding? Why hadn't I read about it before reaching this point? Why when I searched the key words Tandem Nursing on Amazon is there only ONE book listed? More and more women are nursing their toddlers and therefore, I know the information is out there to be shared. We just need to start sharing!

A friend of mine and fellow writer Julie shared her interest in joining me in a venture of creating an outlet for these untold stories and articles of information. Over the last two days we have been brainstorming and this is where we are at currently. 

We are creating a zine, which is a small, independent magazine, with a focus on breastfeeding. In particular, this first volume will focus on full term, or extended, or toddler breastfeeding. As we develop our ideas more fully we will update everyone as to what it is called, what it will look like, dates for release and future publications. Currently, we are looking for submissions of fiction, non-fiction, or poetry with the topic of toddler breastfeeding. If you would like to submit something more on the "How to" spectrum, please keep it to relevant topics such as night weaning, nursling etiquette, tandem nursing, nursing through pregnancy, or other issues arising from the toddler age during breastfeeding. 

Submissions should be no longer than 1500 words and can be emailed to Deadline is February 15th with a projected release date of the zine for end of April, beginning of May. Please email any questions or concerns before submitting and we would be happy to answer as best we can. We will email everyone once we have chosen all of the stories for this first volume. Unfortunately we are unable to pay at this point but if we go as far as we plan to, everyone will receive some compensation along the way!

We are really excited to start this unique and needed project in order to share stories, advice and comfort among the growing community of breastfeeding mothers. We hope you are excited too! Stay tuned for more updates and sneak peeks as the project progresses.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Dealing With a Lazy Latched Toddler

There are loads of breastfeeding resources out there, most notably online sources as book form publication seems about as popular as breastfeeding is. What you find as you continue on your journey of breastfeeding is that most sources are focused on 0-6 months or even just the first year of breastfeeding. This is because, unfortunately, the number of women who are choose to or are able to continue breastfeeding past 6-12 months are around 5% in the US and Canada. Needless to say, we are few and far between. Yet I keep finding other women who are breastfeeding well past 12 months and they, of course, have issues and concerns and hysterical moments that they want to share in hopes of knowing just what the spectrum of toddler nursing entails.

An issue that you don't often hear about is a lazy latch in toddlers. Babies really don't know what they are doing, and while a lazy latch is possible, it is most likely that there are other issues at hand that need to be addressed in order to ensure a proper latch. But what happens when you have been doing something over and over for a year or two or three? You begin to ease up on your form, worry less about how you are doing and inevitably, develop some lazy habits towards this activity (driving is a great example). Toddlers are exactly the same. By the time they reach 2 years of age, they are professional breastfeeders. And they know it. So maybe on this feed, I won't open my mouth as wide and see if I can get as much milk. Oh, hey, look at that, I can stand here, barely open my mouth, and tuck my bottom lip in WHILE still getting milk! Why bother opening wide, or latching deeply, or flanging my lips, or approaching the boobie from a usual position?

Asleep with a not so fabulous latch
Why, my sweet toddler? Because it hurts otherwise! Since I became pregnant, nursing has become quite the hot topic around my house. Lennon wants it constantly, I barely want to do it at all, and James thinks its about time we weaned our rowdy 2 year old. Since neither me or Lennon are ready to fully wean yet, we have to work with our changing reality. Pregnancy brings about a change in your milk. So why nurse as efficiently and correctly if you aren't really doing much milking in the first place? Again, because it hurts. Don't simply assume that because you are pregnant, or because you have less milk, that this is reason for discomfort while nursing. Of course, the less oxytocin you experience from the lessened letdowns will affect how you feel emotionally about nursing, and this can contribute to a change in comfort while breastfeeding. But in regards to your toddler's little mouth, they shouldn't be inflicting pain on your nipples while they are at you constantly. And from what I'm gathering from other mamas, this constant toddler nurse obsession is a common occurrence.

Some quick tips to help alleviate that lazy latch:

1) Say AHHH! Toddlers understand much more than little babies, so when you ask this of them, they can oblige you. The wider and more open their mouth, the more nipple and aerola that enters their mouth, the less pain for you.

2) Check for flanged lips. Lennon has always struggled with flanging her lips, which means turning them out so the soft inner lip tissue is what is rubbing against your breast. This can be a cause of great discomfort, so check your little one's lips: are they turned out? If not, retry your latch and see if it helps. Or try a new position. All people's mouths are unique in shape and one angle may be more conducive to your child's nursing needs than another. You can also lightly pull up from the corners of their lips, forcing the lip to flange out.

Lips tucked in like this are not ideal for comfort. Sometimes, it doesn't hurt, but if it is causing pain, work on flanging those lips!

3) Re Latch. Often, we get lazy ourselves about nursing our toddlers. They should know by now to open their mouths wide. I shouldn't have to re latch her four times before it is comfortable. Which of course is just silly because as they grow and learn so do we. It is all a process and as many say: two steps forward and one step backwards. So start at the base, ensure you are getting a good latch every single nursing session and eventually, they start remembering what proper nursing feels like.

A happy mama and a well latched, fully flanged toddler means future breastfeeding success
I hope this helps any mamas who are struggling through a lazy latched toddler. You are not alone! Keep nursing your toddler and smile, it won't last forever. 

And while I have you here, please show me show extra love and while you peruse the world of Facebook, copy and paste this link and vote for me! Takes two seconds and would mean the world to me. Peace!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Cold-sicles for the Sickies

When I was eight, I had battled with many a bought of strep throat and numerous cases of tonsillitis  It was finally time to go see a specialist and determine if I needed those pesky tonsels removed. After checking me out, the doctor told me that he figured all the boys in the neighbourhood could hear me snoring because of how enlarged my tonsels were. This mortified me as a young girl and I thought the doctor was a stupid head. Either way, I was scheduled for surgery to have those suckers removed.

Post surgery, the only thing I could really keep down or handle because of the intense throat pain was popsicles. My mom would just freeze apple juice in the homemade popsicle containers and for the time, I had some relief from the pain. Now, I am grateful I had my tonsels removed because rarely do I suffer from a sore throat. This, of course, doesn't mean my home is sore throat free. With a husband and  a toddler to look after, I have found the month of January riddled with sore throats, runny noses and coughing/chest congestion.

After reading all about the healing properties of lemon, ginger and honey together, I tried brewing a chamomile tea and putting all of these ingredients in to super charge it to fight a cold. While I easily got my husband to drink the tea, Lennon was less interested. There I was with this big batch of cold fighting awesomeness and a child unwilling to take it. And then it dawned on me! Hot isn't the only way to ease and soothe a sore throat and an icky feeling head. I would freeze them in our popsicle container and see if she would take them that way!

Not surprising, she thinks they are awesome and consumes them quickly and willingly. The cold soothes her throat and the chamomile calms her nerves and allows her to feel sleepy enough to nap (please!). Add in the healing properties of ginger, lemon and honey and you have a great natural cold remedy for the grossest time of year: cold and flu season.

Cold-sicles (Makes 6-8)

1/2 lemon
1 tbsp honey
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 pot chamomile tea

1) Brew the chamomile tea in a large tea pot. Loose leaf works best.
2) Squeeze in the juice from the lemon.
3) Peel and mince your fresh ginger, add to tea.
4) Mix in honey.
5) Allow all of the ingredients to steep for 3-5 minutes, then remove the tea bag.
6) Either serve hot OR if they refuse allow to cool a bit before pouring into popsicle container.
7) Freeze for at least 2 hours, or until popsicles have frozen.
8) Serve

I hope this simple recipe helps your little and yourself with those nasty winter germs and keeps you away from the even nastier pharmaceutical cold medicines. Nothing heals better than nature!

Friday, 18 January 2013

Las Vegas and Mommy-Con

Thursday morning was our typical 'we-didn't-pack-enough-last-night' scramble to get everything ready to go to our first time in Las Vegas and my first ever convention: Mommy-Con. We were worried about the traffic going out of LA, which is a real concern since it starts at 8 and seemingly doesn't stop until 9 that night! But we got lucky and hit no traffic out! Woo! Things were off to a great start. Lennon fell asleep quickly and we giggled and drove out past the mountains and into the desert, leaving behind the ocean life.

We stopped at some random truck stop that seemed like maybe we would end up in a ditch if we said the wrong thing but everyone there was so sweet and even gave Lennon a free sucker which of course became her lunch. We continued on, hitting the inevitable rough patch of the trip where Lennon wailed at us until she was able to get out and look around. It's a short journey so we all survived.

Vegas is a mad house. LA already feels like a madhouse, but Vegas is kind of like all of the outcasts go there to live. The ones who couldn't cut it in LA's richy suburbs and needed something a little weirder. It is full of tourists wearing clothing they would NEVER wear back in their hometowns but shit, its Vegas, baby, why not dress like a hooker? It was a sight to see. Lennon, of course, loved every minute of it. The lights, the people, all of the sound and the fountains. She thought she was at Disney Land and kept asking for Mickey. Understandable, considering Vegas is pretty much a giant theme park for adults. I could have used a little less smoke and a lot less stale alcohol smell over the two days but hey, that's what you get for going to Vegas when you are 7 months pregnant.

The highlight of the weekend was of course, Mommy Con. This convention was started by a group of fantastic and motivated women over at the blog The Mommy Dialogues. It focused on natural parenting methods. The day started nice and early which works well for mamas and babes. We got our wrist bands, met and chatted with a bunch of new faces and Lennon made many friends. First up was yoga. Of course Lennon was right in there, showing everyone her great downward dog and even challenging the instructor who was showing poses you can do with your little baby to do the poses with all thirty pounds of her toddler self. If anyone didn't know who Lennon was, they did after the first seminar.

Next we did a seminar all about breastfeeding. It was wonderful to be in a room where women all over the place were openly and happily nursing their babies and toddlers. And it was happening everywhere. We were educated about a wonderful brand of natural, organic skin products for babies and toddlers called Episencial and even walked away with a couple of free testers (nipple cream, oh how I will need you come April). We sat in on a wonderful seminar by Jessica from the Leaky Boob all about Sex, Lies and Parenting. She is hilarious and her open nature made me adore her even more than I have been since finding her blog and following her on instagram and facebook.

One of my favorites was a prenatal dance class by Menina Fortunata. It was so fun, a great workout (James told me to shower after) and he was sweet enough to buy me the video that I have been doing at home. There are many ways to take care of yourself during pregnancy and getting exercise, stretching and feel positive about yourself is such an important one to do! I was so glad to be introduced to this new program for keeping fit as my body expands and grows a new life.

There were car seat workshops, babywearing workshops, and even a wonderful appearance by the hilarious and knowledgable BabyGuyNYC. He planted a seed and now I want a Mountain Buggy Duet for when the new baby comes. Google it, it may change your double stroller ways forever! They gave away so many awesome things, although we won none of them because thats life. When it was all said and done, we were satisfied having met so many wonderful people and shared energy with all of them. But we were also exhausted. We went back to our room, ate some greasy take out food and then wandered over to the Bellagio fountains. Len loved this elaborate display of water and sound.

By the end of the weekend, I felt so inspired to continue finding and building community based around the ideals I practice with my own family. To continue to grow and flourish in this new, seemingly opposing city that I find myself in. Vegas showed me its inherent dichotomy: a core of crazy glitz, glam and substance abuse with an outlying community of natural parents who are pushing for better and stronger community. I need to be that driving force here in Santa Monica.


After a very happy journey home, me and Len were taken out by a nasty flu bug that spread all around the Mommy Con participants. But hey, I'm one of those that thinks getting minor illness and overcoming it is crucial to a strong system.

While I don't know that we will go back to Vegas anytime soon, wherever Mommy Con is, you can bet we will be there. You should probably come and join in the communal love too!