A Successful NICU Breastfeeding Story.

I got the chance to meet Yvonne and photograph her and her little fighter, Soren. Her story touched me and is moving so I encouraged her to share it. I never expected it to reach so many! Almost nearing 33,000 views, Yvonne, your story is inspiring others!

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As you can see I am not the most traditional mom. I don’t wear dresses (I wear men’s suits). I don’t have long hair (I go to a barber and get a bald fade). I don’t like being called pretty ( I prefer handsome). But the one thing I knew without a doubt, was that I was going to breastfeed my little one.

My water broke at 33 weeks and 2 days. I went right into the hospital and despite the doctor’s greatest efforts Soren John Daniel was born. He was 4 lbs 8oz and 18 1/4″.

He had trouble breathing so I got to hold him for a minute, maybe less, before the NICU took him. Luckily I had family there to occupy me for the three hours it took the NICU to do his intake.
The first time I saw my little baby, I cried. Soren was hooked up to a lot of machines. My tiny baby had a Cpap to help him breath and a feeding tube in his mouth.

They wouldn’t even let me hold Soren for a couple days, never mind breastfeed.

So, I began pumping. I was bound and determined that when my kiddo was ready to get food it was going to be mine and it was going to be as much breastmilk as I could get.

I pumped every 2-3 hours around the clock. Stashing every ml of gold that I got. I was very blessed that my milk came in and my supply was great.

Blistered nipples didn’t stop me. Cracked nipples didn’t stop me. Pieces of my nipple falling off did not stop me. Eventually my nipples healed (rather quickly) and I had brand new very sensitive nipples. The whole process took about 3 days. All the while talking to lactation every day.

You see I was at the hospital from 7:45am (for 8:00 care) until after the 11:00pm care. So I wouldn’t get out of there until about midnight, 1am.

I am blessed with the most supportive wife, friends and family. They all pitched in and watched my 2 older children (that my wife carried) so I could be at the hospital. It was not easy but I knew it is what I needed to do, so that I could get my baby home as soon as possible.

I think on the third day he want to Vapo Therm (nasal cannula) and got his feeding tube changed from in him mouth to his nose. I was told that babies don’t get the suck, swallow, breath reflex until about 35weeks and so I shouldn’t even try to breastfeed.
Well, needless to say I was having none of that. I put him right to the breast and he latched!!! I could not believe my eyes. My tiny baby was nursing. He would take a few sucks and unlatch but he kept on for a few minutes. They only let me hold him once a day. Only for 30 minutes at that point. So I had to wait until the next day to try to nurse again.

The next day he had a great latch and nursed for about 5-10 minutes. He was a natural. I was so grateful.

Still pumping every 2-3 hours, Soren would get the remainder of his feeds through his feeding tube. Every day was a weigh in. Every day they adjusted feeds according to weight gain.

It was a slow process. He was very young to be nursing so we syringed fed, finger fed, used and SNS. I did everything I could to protect our breastfeeding relationship. All the while knowing the neonatologists were going to push formula. They said things here and there but I was steadfast.

To go home he needed two consecutive days of gaining weight. He only needed help breathing for a few days and we had been working on gaining weight/breastfeeding this while time.

21 days into our hospital stay Soren had the car seat test (a test to see if the babies can tolerate being in a car seat will a full belly) the day before and lost weight.

One of the doctors grew impatient. He told me “I have dealt with mom’s like you before”. He said “I don’t agree with anything you are doing (EBF). He lectured me about weight gain.

He told me that Soren needed supplementation. He needed to gain an ounce a day to go home.

I felt so sad and dejected that this doctor had no idea how hard I had worked. He had no idea who I was. How dare he.

I also knew that I needed to play the game to get my baby out of there. So I conceded to human milk fortifier for 3 feeds, over 24 hours. The next day he made weight! On the 23rd day Soren was released.

I was so excited and scared at the same time. The moment that I worked so hard for was here. I have my nursling. I can take him home.

Then thoughts of, fear set in. How am I supposed to do this all on my own?!? No nurses to talk to late at night. No lactation to help me, encourage me. The security net of the hospital and amazing staff was gone.

So I set off to face my fears.
It has not been an easy road. We went for weight checks every week. Until last week. Soren was 7 lbs and 14 oz. A couple days shy of 2 months, 2 weeks adjusted,he was almost double his lowest weight.

I am so proud of my nursling. Soren was patient late at night when I was crying (exhausted). He fought right alongside with me. Every day. I am honored to be his parent. My heart is full. Full of love and compassion. He is my brave little Superhero. He just doesn’t have his cape yet.

Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project 2015 in Downtown Lancaster

To say I have been busy this month would be an understatement. This month challenged me to balance family, personal and work more than usual and I have to say I am super happy about it! I was honored to participate in the Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project again this year. Breastfeeding is something that I am pretty passionate about and I have loved being able to support this wonderful cause, to normalize breastfeeding!

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My first session was in the heart of Downtown Lancaster at Prince St. Cafe! They did not even hesitate to allow us in for a coffee break. I had 4 mama’s come out and show their support, not surprisingly they all are as passionate about this topic as I am.

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Breastfeeding. It’s only natural. It’s a bonding experience. It’s peaceful. It’s a connection that is so special between mother and baby…. At least that’s what I was told and believed. My first baby and I had no idea what we were doing. The lactation consultant didn’t come to my room until 6 hours after he was born. She said everything looked great so we just kept doing what we were doing. 24 hours later, we were transferred to a different hospital due to a temporary blockage in his urethra. Thankfully the NICU was all for breastfeeding, but with the stress and anxiety over the transfer, a long and stressful birth, my milk didn’t come in until 4 or 5 days later. I was pumping like crazy to get my milk in. I would get a few drops… Not enough for the nurses to give my baby a bottle if I couldn’t get back to the NICU in time for the next 2 hour cycle for feeding. Thankfully the stay was only a few days there and we were able to come home. I nursed as much as I could.

After the first week home, he started getting REALLY colicky. He would fuss at my breast, fuss after, fuss All. The. Time. I was getting really stressed out because it seemed like nothing I did would comfort him. And then came the pain… The toe curling, mouth full of razor blades feeling on my nipples… Oh. My. Gosh. Did I dread it. I went to several LC’s, my OB, his pediatrician, doula, seasoned moms… Everyone said the latch looked fine, he may be slightly tongue tied, but not enough to snip, and he was getting enough milk, maybe it was thrush… So I started meds for thrush… The pain continued… The colic continued… Add to it, projectile vomiting and bloody stools… Ok, what the heck is wrong with me and why can’t I breastfeed my baby???? It shouldn’t be this miserable!!! After begging my pediatrician to get us in to the pediatric GI doctor (after a bout of 8 hours non stop screaming from the baby), we finally were attempting to figure out what was going on with this poor 1.5 month old baby! Apparently blood in stools is usually a sure sign there is dairy sensitivity. So, on comes the elimination diet for mama. I was so so so determined to stick this breastfeeding thing out. After several weeks of eliminating foods, I was literally down to eating plain chicken and plain rice for 3 square meals… I know, you need calories to make milk… Well, what did I know? I was a first time mom. I was trying to do right by my baby! At 3.5 months old, and still not knowing what he was “sensitive” or allergic to, I threw in the towel. I couldn’t handle it anymore.

Three years later we had our 2nd baby boy. This time, I was going to figure this thing out. I had gone to many La Leche League meetings and was reassured every baby was different. I at least had that going for me! And, you know what? They were right! 13 months later and we are still going strong! He did also have a dairy sensitivity, but with experience comes wisdom… We knew right away to start eliminating foods. Cutting out dairy worked! And this time there is no pain. This time I was comfortable with unlatching and relatching until the latch WAS correct and felt ok for me! I am enjoying every second of this breastfeeding journey. Even though I still to this day have some mommy guilt for giving breastfeeding up, my boys love me for what I have done for them and will always continue to do for them.-Rachael, mother of 2

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After an empowering birth experience, I was surprised by how difficult breastfeeding was in the first few days. My son struggled to effectively latch, had high bilirubin and was rehospitalized at 3 days old. With the support of a lactation consultant and a nipple shield we eventually figured it out together. We have struggled through all of these things as well as mastitis and food sensitivities and intolerances.

I breastfeed in public to help normalize breastfeeding so that other mothers will feel comfortable feeding their baby wherever and whenever they need to eat. Breastfeeding is biologically normal, natural, and beneficial for babies. Breastfeeding is not obscene and not something to be ashamed of. I am so thankful for the opportunity to breastfeed my son. It has been a journey with ups and downs but has been so worthwhile. – Amber, mother of 1

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I participated in this project because breastfeeding awareness and support is an issue that has become near and dear to my heart. With my first daughter I didn’t know there was such a debate going on about nursing in public.
When Breastfeeding Week rolled around, my daughter was 13 months. I asked my husband if he could take a picture of me nursing her and if he was OK with it being posted online. He was SO supportive, and from that moment on it became my mission to make this more of a normal thing. I want all women to feel supported when they take on the amazing mission to breastfeed their babies and this is another great way to do it!
My daughter self-weaned at 20 months and have reached my first goal with my second daughter of 6 months nursing. Keep rocking mamas! -Ronice, mother of 2

We then went over to the square. I wanted to capture a place that I knew most of Lancaster would recognize.

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We then moved to Steinman Park. As we were getting settled in an older woman walked by congratulating moms, it felt great hearing support while doing this session.

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As we were leaving we saw some women through the windows and we had joked that they were probably talking about us. An hour or so later this picture made it’s way back to me.

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It is a picture of the moms that were participating in the shoot downtown. The picture was posted to facebook with some not so supportive hashtags by an employee. I formulated an email explaining the project and why I am doing it and sent it to the business owner and I heard nothing back, which is what lead me to contact the paper, which unfortunately missed an opportunity to share it as an example. How is it that a woman centered business posted this picture to facebook without the moms’ permission and publicly bashed them for simply feeding their babies? It showed me that I still have a lot of work left to do in Lancaster, and I hope others will join me!

My purpose for joining this project is ultimately to normalize breastfeeding. There is absolutely no reason why a mother should feel uncomfortable doing something that is so natural. Breastfeeding is hard enough, many have struggles, the last thing they need to hear is some stranger who is uncomfortable about them simply feeding their babies giving looks of disgust and/or saying something negative. I would love to see the community come together as a whole, stop judgment and start supporting each other no matter how they feed their baby. This isn’t a breast is best argument, I am here to support you no matter how you choose to feed your baby. I know the struggles of wanting to breastfeed, I also know the benefits of having a breastfed baby.

If you are interested in participating in this project please contact me! Belliestobabiesbirthservices@gmail.com

To see more from the Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project, visit Lily TA’s beautiful work!

The Birth of Kinston Jude

So it’s been awhile….ok a long while. One of my goals for 2015 is to blog more. Among other things. So I figured I would hit off 2015 with a wonderful birth story!

I first met this mama after the delivery of my own son. Having been on my own little birth high, I didn’t even realize that she was pregnant. As we were talking I remember her asking what I do. Usually I have to explain what a doula is, but this time my answer was followed with an “I have been meaning to contact you!”. I guess I didn’t think much of it..went about the rest of my postpartum visit, with this amazing nurse who let me sleep and only came in when I needed her. So much different than my other deliveries there.

A couple of weeks later I get an email about how she would love for me to join her for her birth! To say I was PUMPED would be an understatement. Not only had we hit it off when we first met like we had been friends all along,but she was also delivering at the birth center and out of hospital deliveries are always a special treat for me. This was going to be awesome.

I had joined her in the morning after rushing to the birth center. One of my biggest fears is missing a quick delivery. When I entered the room she was so calm with her husband by her side. This little one had waited 11 days past his due date for his grandmother to be present.  As contractions came and went, you would barely know that she was having contractions. It was instinctual, needing little guidance from me.

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Hours have gone by contraction after contraction. Mama was fierce and strong. Taking one after the other, listening to what her body was telling her.

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Part of my love of being a doula, is working with supportive partners!

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The sun had set and working all day through hard contractions was getting tiresome. She had reached 8 centimeters and had felt the strong urge to push, except her cervix wasn’t stretching the extra 2 centimeters that it needed to. Contraction after contraction she fought the urge to push, trying to relax her mind and body was no easy task. After awhile the urge became so strong she couldn’t fight it and she began to push. It is amazing how one minute you are so exhausted you don’t think you could work through one more contraction, then the next you feel all that pressure and get a second wind, knowing that soon you will be meeting your new son or daughter. The fun part of working with other birth workers through their own deliveries, is that they instinctively know what to do. She reached down and felt her baby’s head, she caught her own baby.

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She pushed with all her might, and soon enough HE was here! A boy..it’s a boy!! I had never seen such an instant attachment. The second he was out she exclaimed, “It’s a boy! I knew it”, as she scooped him up to her chest.

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He was so alert and quiet. He just laid there, taking in his surroundings.

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The best part of this delivery? Check out grandma’s expression while she watches her daughter become a mother!Britany-6 Britany-15

To watch the entire birth story visit: https://vimeo.com/100658323

The Lancaster Public Breastfeeding Project- Mulberry Street Diaper Co.

My second location happened to be at Mulberry Street Diaper Co. Anna, owner and new mom to a 7 week old found it fitting to host the project. This was the perfect location for me, putting breastfeeding and cloth diapers in one spot. One participant even brought her ring sling putting 3 of my favorite things together, Breastfeeding, Cloth Diapers and Babywearing.





The Lancaster Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project.

One of my favorite birth photographers announced that she was starting a breastfeeding project to celebrate world breastfeeding week. When she asked if other photographers would be interested in joining her, I had no hesitation. Leilani Rogers lives in Texas and is spreading her awesomeness! To see more photographers that are participating in this project please visit: www.photosbylei.com

Last week I had the pleasure of hosting my first group session. I have never posed people, I am more of a lifestyle photographer, so this was my first best attempt at shooting this many people at one time. I had 12 mama’s show up (2 who were tandem nursing!!). It was so much fun!

 

 

My next venue will be Friday, August 8th at 10am at Mulberry Street Diaper Co! I do offer individual sessions for $50 after the group shoot. You will get 5-10 edited images on a disc. Please contact me ahead of time if that is something you are interested in!

2nd Annual Big Latch On!

Join us on August 2nd at 10am at Family Trees Birth Place (2481 New Holland Pike, Lancaster) for an event that is very special to me, The Big Latch On! The Big Latch On is an event held to promote, support and normalize breastfeeding, especially breastfeeding in public. Meet other members in our community who feel the same way! Latch on starts exactly at 10:30 so please arrive 30 minutes early to leave plenty of time to register and get comfortable! See you there!

 

There will be vendors, games, food, giveaways and more! Please share with anyone who may be interested! Also looking for help during the event, if you would like to volunteer or hang flyers leading up to the event please email me! Belliestobabiesbirthservices@Gmail.com

 

Last year’s record came in at a whopping 14,536, this is an event you won’t want to miss! Here are some pictures from last years BLO!