Category Archives: Personal Musings

Fitting Baby In

When you have a baby, everything about life changes. The love of your child may hit you like a ton of bricks. Or, like other love relationships, it may creep up on you slowly. Some parents take the coming baby experience with a laissez faire attitude. They trust they will get through childbirth and child raising by the seat of their pants. Others plan everything, like a military expedition, trying to think of every possibility and plan for every outcome. Others take a middle of the road attitude. Whatever the personal style of the parents, they will be bombarded with all sorts of advice and warnings. Some of it will be useful, and a lot of it, not.

If the parents are “researchers,” they may discover many opposing viewpoints on almost every issue. The “planners” may find this frustrating and overwhelming and make a firm commitment to adopt a viewpoint that causes issues within their relationship with each other and the baby. The “flyers” may find themselves validated when everything goes smoothly or be able to adjust to any bumps in the road they encounter. The key is having two parents on the same wave length – which often doesn’t happen! It’s a good idea for parents to discuss these things before baby comes and be prepared to change strategies if they find that the planned one is not working for them and their baby.

The truth is, babies need love, comfort, security, food, and warmth. Breastfeeding provides that very first connection that simultaneously provides all of a baby’s needs with one activity. The challenge comes in providing those needs for the baby while caring for the mother and father. Here is where family and community support becomes vital.

If you are a laissez faire sort of person, consider the possibility that childbirth may not go in a predictable pattern. It helps to have supportive folks in the wings ready to step in and give a hand if you need it. Have the conversation with family and friends so they understand your point of view, but can plan to be available in case you need a little help with coping in the first days. If you are a researcher or a planner, try to accept that there unforeseen events may occur and contingency plans may be required. Give yourself room to breathe and try not to set impossible goals as a measure of success.

Babies are non-stop needy. They go from having their needs supplied without any effort on their part before birth to a world that is cold, bright, hard and must be engaged to get anything that they need. Babies have massive brains (compared to other animals) but few connections established. Everything must be learned from scratch. Primitive reflexes such as suck, swallow, breathe that are essential to survival are present but baby must associate those with actions that bring food and satiation together. Those associations build over time. Connections between the brain and mouth and neck become more secure by 5-8 weeks. This becomes obvious to parents when baby begins to smile in response to interaction with other humans. In these early days, babies need to be near their mothers, enjoying skin to skin contact and free access to mother’s breasts for nourishment and comfort. Interestingly, this time when baby is mainly reflex-driven is also the time when mother’s milk supply is built and established. Frequent and unrestricted access to breastfeeding has been shown to increase milk supply better than scheduled and limited feeds. Frequent breastfeeding helps to increase hormone levels and sensitivity of lactation tissue to hormones of milk production. For mom to be available, it helps to have household and toddler assistance (if needed) during this early period. Slings and wraps that keep baby close to mom can help reduce stress.

Sometimes parents are tempted to use artificial carriers such as car seats, Rock ‘n Plays, swings and other devices that put baby in a semi-upright position and provide movement and/or noise like the uterine environment. The thought is that these devices will give parents a break and are harmless. Studies, however, show that babies who spend too much time in these are more likely to develop acquired torticollis, reflux and plagiocephaly. Here’s an article that gives more information about one product. By age 3 months, babies have progressed and gained more head and neck control and can use these products without some of the side effects. Heres’ an article about use of containers: https://www.moveforwardpt.com/SymptomsConditionsDetail.aspx?cid=53d90264-1846-4b86-891f-0facc63db3e8

As babies grow and mature, they become more sociable. Stomachs grow and babies can take more milk in at a session and sometimes go longer between feedings. Feedings can also be shorter at times. The unique personality of your baby becomes more obvious as time goes on. Your relationship grows and develops. Most moms find that after 3 months, breastfeeding becomes easy – and so much easier than all the work it takes to bottle-feed a baby. Breastfeeding becomes more than just a way of transferring nourishment to your child – it is a communication tool, a way of comforting, and a way of teaching about relationship.

In most non-Western cultures, breastfeeding to 2 years and beyond is the normal pattern. Of course, older babies do not nurse as frequently as newborns and some sessions may last only a couple of minutes. Extended breastfeeding (breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months and thereafter as long as the child desires) is associated with better development of facial structures, reducing the need for orthodontics in children nursed over 18 months. Family-friendly solid foods can be introduced starting at 6 months of age. For more information on introducing solid foods to older babies, check out this website:

Whatever your parenting style, know that it is possible to grow and adapt as time goes by. You are not committed to one style of parenting forever. You can compromise and change as you need to. Love, after all, is the most important gift that you will ever give your child.

Grandmothering the Breastfeeding Baby

I am the grandmother of a newborn baby boy. Born a little over 3 weeks ago, I’m sitting in the living room of his parents mulling over this new role. No, this is not my first grandchild. But it’s the first one I’ve had the joy of spending uninterrupted time getting to know his little personality, observing his parents in their roles and his older brother adapting to his new role – big brother.

As a lactation consultant, I am invited into homes to observe, assist and recommend in an active role.  There are barriers that must be broken down and boundaries to cross and an instant intimacy created by the need of the moment. As a mother-in-law, mother and grandmother, there are boundaries that must be crossed very hesitantly, if at all. My philosophy of breastfeeding applies in this instance – it is the relationship that we must preserve above all. Breastfeeding, with all its benefits, is primarily about establishing the primal relationship, not just getting breast milk into a baby. Relationship is about building love and respect into an unbreakable bond.

So what can a grandmother do to support the new family? I believe that the same three goals apply to this situation as to any other breastfeeding cohort: protect, promote and support. Protect by being positive and avoid offering solutions that interfere with breastfeeding. That means, don’t offer to bottle-feed the baby so mom can get a good night’s rest. Don’t give the baby a pacifier to hold off for a longer interval between feeds. Don’t buy another infant holding device (bouncer, swing, rocknplay). Don’t make negative observations such as: “your breastmilk looks kind of weak” or “he’s crying again – maybe you didn’t feed him enough” or “he has a rash – maybe you are eating something that he’s allergic to.”  Don’t offer to hold the baby while mom does the laundry or fixes your supper. Instead, be encouraging. Let mom know how proud you are of her, how blessed her baby is to have her, how beautiful she looks nursing your grandchild. If she doesn’t have one, get her a sling and help her learn how to use it for carrying baby. Use it yourself when she needs a break. Watch baby while he spends time in tummy position. Fix a meal, do the laundry. Take an older sibling to the park, or play with him. If mom needs you to hold the baby, by all means, enjoy. Learn to hold baby chest to chest, a position most babies really enjoy. If the rare situation occurs that mom and baby must separate do to an emergency, and baby must be fed while they are apart, use her expressed breast milk if available and use the side-lying bottle-feeding techniques demonstrated on this site that can be printed off or video that can be watched.

If mom or baby are having some latch or comfort issues, get help for them and be a cheerleader. Learn all you can about the establishment of milk supply and how that is done. Ask her how you can best help her reach her own personal goals. Breastfeeding is an important building block in a baby’s life foundation – but it is only one of them.  It also helps to remember that it takes babies 6-8 weeks to gain active control over feeding and moms need support during that time as they try to help their babies learn.  Nothing tops patience and perseverance in that journey!

Nothing in my life has been as rewarding as seeing my children grow up, take a marriage partner and become parents. I almost understand how God must feel when we become fruitful and start sharing our gifts and talents with others, and pass the torch along. I keep that in mind and am grateful for that. And as I gain more grandchildren and great-grandchildren in the future, I hope to be able to give them the benefit of my hard-earned wisdom too!

Articles from Hope breastfeeding support

Strategies for moms anticipating breastfeeding difficulties.

This page is designed for moms who have previously experienced breastfeeding difficulties or have been informed by a skilled provider that they MIGHT have difficulty breastfeeding. These strategies do NOT guarantee that mom will avoid these problems, but serve as a sample of actions that moms have taken that have proven successful in their breastfeeding journey.

Flat or Inverted Nipples

A flat nipple is one that, when the areola is compressed about an inch behind the nipple, flattens out and appears level with the surround areola or becomes thick and barely protrudes past the surface.  An inverted nipple pulls behind the surface of the areola and may pull inward into the breast.

Prenatally:  Try Supple cups starting at least 8 weeks before delivery. Check out supplecups.com for product information. Begin using these as per instructions. Consider purchasing softshells for inverted nipples http://www.medelabreastfeedingus.com/products/103/softshells-for-inverted-nipples to wear over the supple cups to allow longer periods of wearing to help correct the condition prior to delivery.

After Delivery: Try Latch Assistant by Lansinoh. This can be used on the nipple itself or placed over a nipple shield (if needed) to draw the nipple out or to pull inside the shield before latching.

Supple cups can also to be used in the same way.

History of Latch difficulties with delayed or slow onset of Stage 2 of lactogenesis.

Research has shown that optimal breast stimulation and expression of colostrum during the first 72 hours after delivery can double milk output at 10 days.

  1. Initiate breastfeeding within the first hour after delivery with mom in laid-back position, using biological nurturing approach. See: http://hopebreastfeedingsupport.com/the-first-100-hours-getting-breastfeeding-off-the-ground/ for more basic tips.  If areola is tight (feels like your chin or the end of your nose), use reverse pressure softening and areolar expression to increase nipple availability before baby latches.  See:  http://hopebreastfeedingsupport.com/video-resources/.   Once baby has latched, remain reclined throughout the feeding. Switch breasts when baby starts to pause a lot (usually every 5 minutes or so). At 24 hours, begin softening and expression before every feed, even if you don’t think your areola is firm.
  2. Ask for a hospital breast pump to be brought to you right away, along with syringes for milk collection. If your baby is not latching well by 12 hours, begin using breast pump in addition to hand-expressing. 
  3. Offer the breast every 2 hours until 10:00 at night, and then every 3 hours during the night. If baby is too sleepy to latch, hand express about 10 minutes and then pump for 15 minutes. Give any colostrum to the baby by finger-feeding. This is for first 3 days of life. Pump early/pump often!
  4. If your baby cannot latch to the breast or stops latching, ask for a small and a large nipple shield. Try both to see if baby can latch to either. Ask for demonstration from your care provider.  If you have not started pumping yet, begin doing so. Pumping in the first 3 days should be about 15 minutes using the Symphony initiation program. Once your milk starts coming in, use the maintenance program and move the vacuum up to about 10 bars on the screen.  Ask for written instructions for pump use. Plan on taking a rental pump home from hospital if needed. Remember milk does not start squirting until Day 7 after delivery.
  5. Check baby’s suck using your thumb to see if baby is drawing your thumb back to the back of her tongue or is only “peanut butter sucking” on the tip of your thumb. Sometimes a little suck training before latch can correct what is just a habit baby has at birth.
  6. If no comfortable latch, strong latch is obtained, plan to see a lactation consultant around 4th-5th day (optimal time when milk surge normally begins and baby is more alert).
  7. Monitor baby’s weight loss. If mom’s milk is not coming in quickly, have donor milk or ready to feed formula available for early supplementation as needed. Many organizations recommend hydrolyzed formula if human milk is not available.  If supplementation is needed in the hospital after the first day, ask for oral syringes and a feeding tube for easier finger feeding or at breast supplementation. If long-term supplementation is required, a Dr. Brown’s bottle and side-lying baby-led bottlefeeding technique can be used.  See information and videos http://hopebreastfeedingsupport.com/video-resources/.  

Breastfeeding Assistive Devices 

(available from walmart.comamazon.com and target.com)

  • Latchassist by Lansinoh
  • Hydrogels by Medela (2 pkgs)
  • Nipple shields 20 and 24 (if not obtained from hospital)
  • Bacitracin
  • Medela Harmony manual pump
  • Haaka milk collector
  • Tube top – makes a comfortable holder for nursing pads, can be used as a pumping bra
  • Dr. Brown’s 4 oz regular newborn bottle (not glass, not wide mouth)
  • Microwave sterilizer bag (if you have a microwave)

From Hospital

  • Oral syringes – 12 ml at least 3
  • Pump kit
  • Rental pump
  • Feeding tube (used for finger-feeding or at breast supplementation

A word of Encouragement

Did you know?

In a study conducted with moms with history of breastfeeding difficulties, that 95% of them had success with following births – even if the previous breastfeeding experience was not what was expected or planned? This just validates that every breastfeeding experience is unique with a unique baby and a mom with a different (and growing) skill set! It’s just like childbirth – each birth, each mother-child relationship is different, but all are valuable!

Categorization

It seems to me that folks in every field attempt to categorize everything. Perhaps it’s a method of being able to understand how things work by extrapolating from known to the unknown. Perhaps it’s a way of making predictions for the future. Perhaps it’s a way of manipulating facts and controlling behaviors.

Some examples? Astrology, Myers-Briggs personality typing (and all that ilk), IQ tests, Spiritual gift tests, etc. In the material world we categorize vehicles as sedans, SUV’s, trucks, passenger vans, cargo vans, etc.  In the animal world, we categorize by species. When we categorize, we develop a mental picture and expectations for that category. We would not accept a cat that looked like an elephant. In the material world, preparing our expectations through identifying the category of the object we are encountering helps to modify our reactions. Improper categorization can lead to unrealistic expectations and either disappointment or surprise.

When it comes to human beings however, I am beginning to wonder if the need and the effort we put into categorizing each other has some negative consequences. If I judge someone by their behavior, am I writing them off in the future, am I having expectations for them that are unrealistic or not in keeping with truth? It is definitely a challenge to note what God has to say about making judgements.

Here are some verses on judgement:

John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance but judge righteous judgement.

James 2:13 for he shall have judgment without mercy, that has shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

Psalms 37:30 The mouth of the righteous speaketh widom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.

Psalms 119:66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments

Matthew 7:2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall also be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Romans 2:3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

1Corinthians 6:4 If then ye have judgements of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.

1 Samuel 16:7b For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

In these contexts, I see judgment being exercised individually against individuals and corporately against both individuals and groups. There are lots of verses about judgment in the Old Testament, but much fewer in the New Testament. It seems that once God became incarnate in Jesus, He began to convey to mankind how far we had missed the mark of righteousness.

What I wonder about is why we feel the need to compartmentalize people? Is it self-protection? Is it our own insecurities about our weaknesses and fallibility? The older I get, the more I am aware of my own failures and limitations – and realize that those will only grow as my body and mind begin to grow weaker. I know that when this mortal shall put on immortality, all that I have known on this earth will be dust compared to what I will experience when I am with Jesus. My prayer and hope is that I will become more like Him, walk in the Spirit more with better spiritual discernment, and that I will point others to Him more clearly. The only treasures we can lay up in heaven are those that have eternal value – souls who turn to Jesus and can join us in praise and worship someday.

New Adventures

I am still in my practice working with moms in their own homes. Going to a conference tomorrow.  I keep telling myself, “this is the last one”. And perhaps it will be. I am still capable of learning and absorbing new knowledge and am so hoping that someone will have discovered something new and earth-shaking that will help the most desperate moms I care for. Here’s to continuing to learn!

In a bit more than 2 weeks, I will be heading back to Italy to meet my new grandbaby and see my little grandson who lives there. I am so excited. I love the fact that I will be able to provide the same kind of help for them that my mom did for me for my second, third and fourth babies. This will be new for me. My older son lived close by and really didn’t have space for me to come stay in the first days. Hope to be more help with Mini-Cooper number 2!

Life continues to move forward. I will be back to painting in a few weeks. The grave where Tim’s remains are is sinking – as they are wont to do. The flowers look a little beat up. But real life goes on.

 

Tim – Random thoughts distorted by tears

The following are excerpts from my journals and writings I discovered while going through my notebooks.

March 10, 2017

My son is dead! My heart is broken in two! I cannot breathe.  I cannot think.  Why God? Why now? He escaped death 3 times, but not the fourth.  My worst nightmare has come to life. My rainbow baby is dead!

I found this note I wrote 8 years ago.

For my son.

Oh, Timothy!  When they came and told me it was you in the accident and that you were gone, my heart nearly stopped beating. I thought I could be dispassionate about it – that I could accept the facts when the news would someday come – but I cannot.  I can’t stop weeping.  My son, my son!  If only you had listened to the call of God!  You picked your name at birth, I heard you!  Timothy means honoring God.  I thought you would someday find your way and repent, turning towards God and away from the call of Satan.  But it looks like time has run out.  I so hope that in some last minute way, you encountered and bowed at the cross!  I will spend the rest of my days grieving you on this earth and I will never on this earth be as happy as I have been.  This is too much for a mother to bear!  I keep remembering all the unique moments of your childhood – the sweetness of your breath as I nursed you, your independent spirit, the quickness of your mind.  I regret so much my inability to be the right mother for you as a teen, to prepare you spiritually to step into accountability and to be a good mother for a budding adult son.  I don’t know what I could have done differently, but I wish I had known and could have done it.  I will always love you and hold you in my memory and cherish every moment we had together as mother and son.  You are special to me now, even though you are gone.  I love you so, so much.  I would give anything just to see you once more and to know that you were safe in the arms of Jesus! 

Mom

4/16/2009 3 AM

I can’t find the poem I wrote you at birth. But I did find this, a letter I wrote to you after the demise of your marriage.

Dear Tim:

I’m sorry you are having to go through this.  Cops love (sometimes) to attack people with long hair.  Not that all cops are bad – but it is NOT a high-paying job, so why do people do it?  Sometimes it’s because they want to serve people.  Sometimes because it gives them power.  Power is I think more of a motivator than money for a lot of people.  Or maybe I’m thinking about control.  That’s why we have to have checks and balances in the system – and we need lawyers to help in that.  Any profession that has power is subject to corruption and greed  – so much fraud exists because of that.  Even true Christians must be constantly on the guard of the lure! 

As far as the “shakes” go – you get that probably from me.  When I have high stress, I get them too.  Yesterday for instance, I was audited at work.  The auditors stood over me while I was trying to add up 4 pages of numbers.  I was trembling so bad – and I wasn’t doing anything wrong – I finally asked them to go into another room so I could finish!  And if I’ve had a lot of coffee, you can COUNT on it, I’ll shake.  I did it in labor with all you guys – you can ask your dad if he remembers, I shook like a leaf!

As far as new relationship goes – I pray you are fishing in the right pond.  I met someone who told me that when she met her husband to be – she asked 3 questions – does this person have a good character, does this person have the ability to commit, and does this person have a track record of consistency.  THEN she told him up front what she was looking for.  She married him within 12 weeks of meeting him and has been extremely happy ever since!  I think you are the kind of guy that can answer those questions positively when you meet the right gal.  You need to ask them of yourself and of the person you meet. 

You KNOW I am praying for you to come to a place of submission to God and Christ.  But it’s got to be in the right order, I think.  It’s not just about faith – although faith is important but it has to be more than that.  I think if you are asked to put your head to sleep, you have a small god.  God accepted the challenges of Job and Jonah and Elijah and didn’t flinch.  He showed himself to Elijah and Moses (in a small way) and didn’t kill them for asking!  And actually rewarded them for their questioning!  First you have to get it in your head that God created the world in all its order and beauty.  Then you have to look at the evidence of Jesus – did he rise from the dead or not?  Then you have to look at the Bible and ask what is the evidence that this is a God-inspired document written by a bunch of different guys that somehow got miraculously preserved and put together and is a reliable source of understanding God’s character and intent.  Then you have to deal with the question: is life eternal?  Then you have to deal with how were we intended to be – relational or alone?  How do we find significance and where?

I’m going to share with you – I have struggled my whole life to not be a loner.  My heart wants relationship but I struggle with trust issues and self-control.  I have difficulty with significance too, feeling confidence in what I do or say.  I constantly question myself.  And that too is selfish and self-centered and evidence of pride!  I want my kids to have great lives – but sometimes they have to go through horrible stuff to refine their gold.  Am I thinking that I am smarter than God to know how much suffering is required – or how much gold there is?  Do I think I can do a better job than He of bringing circumstances into their lives that bring them to their ultimate place of joy? 

I pray for you – I love you so much – I want you to be all that God intended for you, to be fulfilled in all the wonderful capacity that you have.  You have a marvelous mind, a strong soul, a rich field for growing relationship, a deep ability to love and be loved.  Some day I will share with you the poem I wrote for you before you were born.  Keep up your faith, look to God and others for help.  Call me sometime. 

Mom   9/30/06

I found this in a composition book I gave you in October. I know you found this note and read it, because there is a notation in your handwriting below it;

Tim,

I don’t know if you’ll ever open this notebook up or use it but if you do — I want you to know how much you mean to me. Someday we will say goodbye on t his earth.  When that happens, my prayer is that the “goodbye” will just be “see you later” and that we will someday sit and tell our stories of God’s redeeming, relentless, reconciling love.

I know the story isn’t over. I know that God is sovereign but He limits Himself to the threshold of your heart. May you find light. May you thirsts for truth. And may you find it when you meet the real Jesus.

Mom, Sept 2016

And here is the poem I wrote for your funeral:

To Tim

 It was inevitable  you’d be a dancer.
I danced through the night as I worked,
Trying to stay awake, fueled by coffee
And in the down times, loud music.
 You came so quickly,
Holding back, then rushing out to meet the world.
I stared at you and wondered,
What’s your name?
 And Timothy it was.
Curious and independent,
Grasping the ungraspable,
You challenged me and the world.
 You approached the world on your own terms
As I look through your memories, I see.
You were never quite satisfied
With a riff, with a thought.
Jazz suited you.
You loved a challenge
You never stopped challenging me.
In the end, I pray,
You met the One who answers all.
And have found – peace.
Jane March 18, 2017

May 22, 2017

I’ve received your things from your dad.  Going through them, I’m tasting a little of your college and high school life when you were still growing up but away from me. I see your angst showing through even then. And your creativity and expressiveness. You always wanted to do things your own way, it seems. You challenged your teachers and helpers, even trying to fool them about your real intelligence and abilities. What was that about?

My questions have changed from “why did you die” to “why did you live”. I am searching for answers. I see you cherished a few things I gave you – a book, the wedding Bible, a notebook with my letter of hope to you. There’s even a picture of me holding you as a baby.

May 26, 2017

Last night I got a report as to the cause of your death. You didn’t take your own life. You didn’t want to die. You were surprised.  A genetic tendency combined with other circumstances formed a Bermuda triangle that you could not escape. And God called you home. I am looking at your life through tears.

Looking at life through tears changes your view. Tears can distort, and yet magnify with great clarity, the little things. Refraction can give a rainbow effect to certain aspects – but magnification only occurs on a small scale. I will forever look at you through tears. I will remember everything I can about your life – helped by some photographs, some videos, some messages from your Facebook messenger.  Last night I memorialized your Facebook page. Soon I will finish your scrapbook – just can’t bring myself to do it yet. Monday I will visit your graveside and fix up your flowers. When I can bring myself together enough to go back to painting, I will paint a memorial painting for you, just like I did for my dad.

As time goes by, who will remember you? Who will celebrate your life? Will you have made any lasting impact on anyone? I will spend the rest of mine using whatever lessons I can glean from our relationship to help someone else – whether it be someone suffering from loss, someone who struggles with faith versus reasoning, someone who struggles with purpose or relationships. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the only cure for the malady that besets us all is seeking, finding and submitting to our Heavenly Father and allowing Jesus’ work of redemption to be accomplished in us, and receiving the Holy Spirit to live and work through us. You tried to make it through your own efforts, your own reasoning. You had to lay it all down at last, when you met Jesus in person. I pray that your legacy will be lived out through me, your brothers and sisters and their efforts to carry the Gospel to others so they may have a legacy. It is my only hope that makes sense out of the tragedy of your death.

Goodbye my sweet, loving, gifted, beautiful, talented, amazing son. You loved with a fierce, loyal love. I know you are amazed with the magnificence of God and the unfathomable love of Jesus. I will see you soon (in God’s timing).

Mom