Quiet and common notions...shared here...with you! Of life ~ our hearts and our home.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The art of "arm-feeding"

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Breastfeeding.  Not a topic I thought I would ever discuss on here.  I'm not really that sort of gal.  But since it's come up...I'll continue.

I'm the oldest of nine.  My mother did this as long as I can remember for all nine of us... with no issues. No problems. The truth is.  I've seen it done as naturally as the day is long, it's nothing but "the normal" thing to do in my family - if your a new mother.  In fact.  My mom would've been convinced it was her form of birth-control... well, I'm here to tell you... that is simply not a true fact, so don't count on it if you've heard that theory, too.

But.  This was the assumed expectation.  Breastfeeding.

When I had Caleb, four years ago... he was not "getting it".  It was the most frustrating thing in the world for me.  I had also just come from working on a Maternity floor as an acting Nurse Assistant who had helped lots of women "master the art of breastfeeding". 

Remember.  The mechanics of it were ingrained in me from the get-go.  This should be just as natural for me to "get it" and so should my son.  NOT!!!!!!!!!!  On top of it all... he was losing weight and I had to start supplementation at around the second month.  That was hard to do too.  I felt like that cliche failure-mom.

Fifteen and a half months later, when I had Aubrey, it went much better. Not great, but better.  Ah!!  It must be a girl thing/boy thing.  I think - if I remember correctly - it was still a challenge to feel like I was "getting this" down correctly.  We plugged away at for about nine months before she weaned herself off.  And yes, at four or five months I was supplementing her too, with formula.  I would pump - semi faithfully.  Never getting more then 2 oz. at a time.  I would try Mother's Milk Vitamins.  I would try tea.  Warm showers - etc.

Here's the thing.  I could never really relax.  Breastfeeding is not something that I
enjoy(ed).  Period.  I do/did it because I wanted to try and provide that "bonding moment"; the health benefits that breastfeeding provides to infants; and quite frankly it's a cheaper, more frugal way to provide for the child.  Formula can get rather expensive.  Quite quickly.

So - when Jayne was born, actually before she was born, I began to really pray about this.  Don't laugh... but I would pray; "Fill up my cup(s), Lord.  Fill them up - let them overflow".  I was serious. 

Let me tell you.  This child was born with the "how-to" manual memorized.  She took to breastfeeding like there was no tomorrow.  I felt so excited.  Relaxed - because of the little or no effort it took on my part to make this happen.  She "got it".  There was no concern that she wasn't getting mama's milk.  I could see the sucking, and hear it going down, see the milky evidence on the corner's of her mouth.

Even though Jayne's weight continued to gradually decline - at first.  Going from 9lbs. 12oz. at birth to hanging out at 8lbs 7oz. for more then a week or two later.  I was getting worried - the Pediatrician's were not - yet.  They even encouraged me to let her sleep through the night as long as she would.  "Never wake a sleeping baby!"  All signs continued to show in her favor that she was just FINE!!  Wet diapers, seedy-mustardy yellow poops, wet mouth with bubbles, lustrous crying with tears, she was checking out A-Okay!!  (at the last weight check she weighed 9lbs. 1 oz.  - so were heading back up)

We go again on Monday for her one-month checkup.  I KNOW there is going to be even more weight gain.  I see it.  HOWEVER... I've been supplementing her, as well... basically what I can provide has not been enough, and I know it.  Basically I've been giving it as just a top-off, but let me tell you it's much easier for me to stick that bottle in her mouth rather then my boob.  ((sorry, it just is))

Jayne is not confused in anyway shape or form.  She's way more content now.  And, that's what I need... a baby who is comforted and satisfied.  Her cries are tell-tale of her needs and I can tell when she truly just wants to chill out with mommy and nurse for the comfort sake of "me and mama" time.  I can tell when she just needs something more.  Whole fists/hands down her throat with very loud lip-smacking going on is a pretty big indication - don't you think?

So.  I've been nursing Jayne on demand...when it suits the best.  Always trying breastfeeding first.  If it's not enough for that sitting I'll make a bottle and let her finish off what she wants of it.

I mentioned tea... 

I was given this tea, to try, this round.  The friend who gave it to me told me she didn't like the taste of it.. and therefore chose not to use it.  I will say.  I immediately liked it.  And.  I could tell a huge difference in the making of milk for myself - at feeding time for Jayne.  I do know it is recommended to use it for a time and then to back off of it for a couple of days and then start up again...if you need to.

** By the way.  This is not a paid promotion to say these things about this tea.  I'm just saying this was one of the best things that I've done to "help".   Even though - again - it's not enough help.

Why did I name this post "the art of arm-feeding"?

It was kinda funny to me.   The first week we were home and in the full swing of things... sitting down quite often to nurse Jayne... the older two kids would "naturally" be right at my side, looking on.

They would ask the obvious.  "Mom, are you feeding Jayne?"  "Mom, is that your arm?"  - pointing to my you-know-what.  I would consider correcting them with the right terminology... but decided to just let it go and have reason to smile every time they ask.
So.  All of that to say this.  There are times - even still - that it catches me off guard that I can't do this as effortlessly as I would like to.  But, I'm doing my best and with what works for me.  And, that's okay and so is Jayne, Caleb and Aubrey.

Breast or Bottle?  It's all in "the art of arm-feeding" (holding them in your loving arms) no matter which way it goes down.  Isn't it?


  1. Your post made me smile. As a doula, part of my "job" is to help get breastfeeding started off well, but I, too, struggled with it with my first. I was so tense about getting it all "right" and it backfired on me. I was much more relaxed with my 2nd, and I ended up breastfeeding her until she was 15 months.

  2. I'm going to lay it all out here.

    Being a mother is the HARDEST thing I've ever done.
    There I said it.

    It's true.
    And I feel better for saying it;-)

    Sacrifice, after sacrifice after sacrifice. we are starting the cloth diaper journey and we are dealing with diaper rash after diaper rash after diaper rash. Is it the diapers? The detergent? WHAT!!!My friend suggest maybe it's what I'm eating? Oh dear Lord. You know I need my coffee and tea and all things peanut butter and milk and citrus. Why would you ask me to take this away???!!!

    I hear you loud and clear here. We try so hard to do what's best for our children and somewhere inside we scream..."what about me Lord!" MOtherhood is a CONSTANT demand of my time............

    Being a mother is amazing. I love all of my children like a mama bear over a baby cub. It's as real and hard core as I've ever felt before. But, there's another side to this motherhood gig...Until my first child was born I NEVEr knew the true meaning of the word "tired" I never realized how little sleep I could actually function on. The days creep into the nights. I wonder sometimes if one day is starting or the other day is ending. And I certainly have a hard time anymore remembering what day of the week it is.

    In this season I work hard to get this infant down to sleep. Once I finally do, I feel a relief that I can "actally get something done"...but then, can she really be awake again already? I scoop her up change yet ANOTHER diaper and marvel at how sweet she is. How all of her needs have been met.

    And then without warning my fleshly desires sneak in on me. When am "I" going to have all of my needs met? When am "I" going to get a good nights sleep? Or get the house cleaned? Or sit down for more than 3 1/2 minutes to eat a nice meal? Let alone cook an entire meal without being interrupted?

    "I'm a person too Lord!!!"

    But then, as sweetly as the crickets sing outside my window those GODLY thoughts come to me. The ones that confirm all things that Jesus is alive in me and working out a good thing....
    God gave me these children. My job is to look after them. Nurture them. Train them. Care for them.

    I'm in awe.
    I'm humbled.

    I ask for forgiveness.

    I'm setting the example to my children that my Lord set for me...

    I'm dying one day at a time to myself...

    This revelation is comforting to me. It reminds me that I'm working out God's purpose and design for me.

    I EMBRACE this assignment called motherhood.
    And as long as we are doing all we can for our children by the Lord. He knows!
    Be of good cheer dear Bevy, we will catch up on our sleep one day, eat a meal, and do all things WE want to do.

    your doing a good job and God knows!


  3. Thanks to both of you for your comments... but Amanda... I must say, this comment of yours, by far, has not only been the longest comment I've ever received but one so WELL SAID. I whelled up with tears when I read what you shared... because it really is so relative. Not only for myself - but for many, many others out there. Ones who might be afraid to be so honest. Thank you!

  4. Thanks for sharing.. I know some of the things you shared.. I made it through Chantel's first year... while working most of it... I used a Medela.. electric pump.. which I took with me to school.. it gave me a break. and I actually fed her.. as often as I could and she continued to grow 6lbs.2oz. at birth and lost some when she left and regained in the month.. by the 2nd month.. she had gained 2 lbs. in 2 weeks.. the doctor told me to bottle it and sell it... She fed for 40 min. at a time and would "sleep suck" I called it.. then wouldn't sleep.. but always slept 3-5 hours at a time at night.. and 10-12 hours quickly.. within 3 months.. so.. even though it was exhausting it was worth it... I used the pump to help me spend more time around family.. since the first time 2 weeks later.. at Christmas.. I hardly saw anyone at all while she was feeding. that was tough.. I didn't feel comfortable be in the same room with others.. so the pump helped from 3 weeks of age on.. It was costly.. but worth it.. I did supplement.. a little .. early on.. when she needed more.. but having her drink when she needed and switching sides. each time.. etc.. did seem to help. Eventually... I didn't have a lot of extra milk but had enough.. drinking enough water.. 5 full water bottles.. 16 oz. a day or 90 oz. min.. helped to keep up the supply too.. Prayers for you and your adjustment continue.. thanks for your honesty.. Motherhood isn't easy.. Hugs...<3

  5. LOVED this post!!! My first two babes with breastfeeding went not so well. I ended up putting both of them on formula. It kept my sanity and it was just what we all needed. My last two nursed with no problems. So, I know what you are saying. IT DOESN'T MATTER whether its breast or bottle. What matters is the love they receive from those moments in our arms.


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