Baby Doll

If you know me well, you know I love my lactation consultant, Sandy, and think every mother with a new baby (breastfed or formula fed) should attend a baby group like the one she facilitates, or LLL (Le Leche League) meeting or a moms’ group.  I was almost a
failure in my breastfeeding with my oldest child and youngest child.  But,
thanks to the amazing support I received from Sandy, the moms in the baby
group, my friends, and my family, I succeeded.  Robbie and I made it last until he was 16 months old.  Nola Mae and I are still going strong at 17 months.  You can read Robbie’s story here and Nola Mae’s story here.

What does this have to do with a baby doll?

Here is the story:

I was at one of Sandy’s baby groups, the topic was baby wearing. A friend of mine was teaching/demonstrating with a doll weighted with bee bees so the doll was more real to life.  Sandy thought that kind of baby would be helpful to her when she is teaching the breastfeeding class and childbirth class at Riverside Medical, demonstrating baby wearing and while working with moms/dads; she can show things while the mom/dad holds their baby.   I told her I could try to figure out how to make one of those babies for her.  Now I can do something to help Sandy and other future breastfeeding mothers!

I am the queen of cheapness!  I try to make Do It Yourself (DIY) things all the time!  Why not with this project?  I was searching rummage sales, Goodwill and St. Vinnie’s stores for many months.  In August I hit the jack-pot at St. Vinnie’s in Marshfield with their “50% off sale”.  I completed this project by only spending $1.25, the baby has “2.50” marked on the left foot.

I started with this baby doll, cut open the body to see how things looked on the inside.  Next time I will open the seams where the legs are attached to the body.

baby doll

I cut the seams that were holding the arms and legs on.  And needed to make the body a little bigger to hold the insides.  The pink fabric was given to me.

baby doll body

I gathered rocks for the head.  I put them in a sack so they wouldn’t bang around inside the head. Next time I will put more weight in the head.

baby doll rocks for head

I gathered pea gravel, washed and rinsed it.

baby doll rocks for body

I made pouches for the arms and legs to have sections full of rocks, with stuffing added to soften and round out the arms and legs.  Arms weigh about 3.5 ounces each.  Next time I will make the arms heavier.

baby doll parts arms

The legs are about 5 ounces each.  Next time I will make the legs heavier.

baby doll parts legs

A pouch for the body cavity weighs four pounds.

baby doll parts body

All the parts here are ready for me to put the baby back together.  I made a second sack for the body and stuffed the stuffing in to soften the body.

baby doll parts

At this point I was hoping clothes or a sleeper on this baby doll will make the shoulders and attached limbs look more real.

baby doll pins

I was unable to sew the last seam with my sewing machine.  Nola Mae wanted to sit on my lap while I sewed.  Many times she kissed the baby’s foot.

baby doll toe kisses

Done!

baby doll finished 1

Dressed!

baby doll finished 2

This baby is looking pretty real and feels real, not the eight pound baby I was hoping for.  The final weight is 6 pounds 5 ounces.

I had the baby on the chair for the above photo.  Nola Mae climbed up for some cuddling.

baby doll Nola Mae smile

This makes me think she has to have her own weighted baby doll.

baby doll Nola Mae squeeze

After the big squeeze, she started to pat the baby on the back.

baby doll Nola Mae pats

Then kisses!

baby doll Nola Mae kisses

Henry needed a turn for some cuddling and

baby doll Henry hug

baby wearing in the Mei Tai.

baby doll Henry Mei Tai

After this baby doll was finished I went to my sewing room to clean up a little, I looked outside my window and saw Henry carrying the baby down the driveway to meet the bus.

When the fourth baby arrives…

When your fourth baby arrives you think you know how to be a “good” mom and you think you are a “pro”.

kids in basket

When your fourth baby comes out a girl (after three boys), prepare yourself for some serious shock, surprise, denial, depression and acceptance.

When you have breastfed three other children for a total of 6 1/2 years you SHOULD know a lot of things about breastfeeding when your fourth baby comes.

When your fourth baby doesn’t cry or fuss you celebrate that you have the “perfect baby”, the fourth baby is a charm!

checkers

When your fourth baby is a “good sleeper” you celebrate.  You are happy to get a few consecutive hours of sleep.  You enjoy the quality time with your other children during those naptimes.

When your fourth baby doesn’t gain any weight you start to worry…

Nola Mae 1 wk weight

We knew something was wrong when Nola Mae was about five or six weeks old.  I was getting frequent weights checks at different places.  There were different weights on the scales at the clinic, with my midwives and at baby group.  We didn’t worry too much because there would be differences in those scales.   Sandy, my lactation consultant, was concerned because none of the scales were showing any weight gain.  Which led me to start seeing her regularly for about a month at the hospital.  (I wrote about Sandy & my struggles with breastfeeding my 1st baby, click here to read that story.)

Tandem breastfeeding

Since I was tandem nursing Henry and Nola Mae I was being careful not to breastfeed Henry for long periods of time or regularly.   I heard my family’s comments and concerns that if I tandem nursed Nola Mae wouldn’t get enough.

For a week I kept track of when both of them would breastfeed and I continued to distract Henry when he would request to “nuk” and I would make sure Nola Mae nursed on each side.  It was very interesting to see I was spending at least seven hours each day breastfeeding and very frequently and there was hardly any weight gained.

I did the weight test to see how much milk Nola Mae was getting in a typical feeding.  First you weigh the baby, nurse for a “normal” feeding, then weigh the baby again.  With the very accurate scale that my lactation consultant has we found out that Nola Mae’s total intake of breast milk was 1.8 ounces in a 15 minute latch.   This was very bad news!  Where did my milk go?

Sandy suggested I take fenugreek.  I went straight to the Nutrition Center in Waupaca and bought a bottle (without looking at the price), opened it in the car and took my first capsule at 11:30 AM.  At 4:30 PM my milk had arrived and I was feeling very “full”.

Side note:  I NEVER purchase anything EVER without looking at the price, until I had this bottle in my hand.  I didn’t really care how much this bottle would cost me.  I needed to make more milk for my baby!   I pay attention to everything I spend my money on.  I don’t always remember birth dates but I can tell you how much I paid, almost to the cent, for big and small purchases/expenses.   I purchased a total of three bottles of the fenugreek and one bottle of Motherlove:  More Milk Plus (one bottle of this was given to me).   I can’t tell you how much that cost.  Now that I am writing about this I was interested in knowing how much I spent to get my milk to return.  Total spent on the fenugreek and the More Milk Plus – $95.  The cost of weigh-in/consults with lactation consultant, I don’t know this amount.  Our insurance doesn’t pay for the consults, so whatever that cost us I have no idea! 

I wanted to compare my way of getting my milk back to the cost of formula feeding a baby.   I did a quick search on the estimated cost of formula feeding for one year, it’s somewhere around $1,138 – $1,188 plus bottle cost. Also, additional health care services cost the managed care health system between $331 and $475 per never-breastfed infant during the first year of life.

I learned there are two things in this world that I don’t care how much they cost – fenugreek and a skidsteer.   (I was able to convince Jack to stop looking and thinking about the price tags on skidsteers, because he bought me one this summer!)

Back to my story…

I spent the next four days worried, praying, and keeping track of everything.  I also was relived that we were figuring things out.

I had the fenugreek and it was starting to work.  I am very thankful because that isn’t always the case with mothers who are unable to produce enough milk for their baby.

I continued to keep track of her feedings.  I started to realize from my notes that shortly after I sat down to breastfeed Nola Mae all hell would break loose in our house with the older boys.  I would put down my “happy-sleepy” baby and take care of what was needed.  Sometimes it was one of the boys sneaking food out of the pantry (guess who!) just before a meal, or someone was hurt, or someone needed wiping, or fighting started between the boys, just to name a few events that interrupted Nola Mae’s feedings.  When I went back to my baby to finish feeding her, I would find her sleeping.  Never wake a sleeping baby, right?  I should have because I was loosing my milk.

sewing room ready to sew

All this time when she wasn’t getting much milk she wasn’t making that wonderful swallowing noise that babies do when they drink.  How did I miss that?  I started to realize that all this time when she would have a wet diaper it wasn’t full and her BMs weren’t so big.  How did I miss that?  I started to realized that all this time she was sleeping, being one of my happiest babies that maybe she is a very easy-going baby that rarely complained about being hungry.  I was starving her!

At one of my appointments with Sandy, she  said, “Nola Mae when you are the fourth baby you have to speak up!  That means you may have to cry a little.”

I feel blessed to have the four children in my family that I always dreamed of having.  I never expected it to be so difficult.  Four children really put me over the edge during that first year!  And there are many days where life isn’t “easy” for me.  Each of our children teach us many different things throughout our parenting journey.  I feel as though Nola Mae taught me a few things during her first year of life.  I often wonder what kinds of things my fourth baby will teach me in the future.

It has been over a year since I started writing this post, it has been a difficult topic to write and think about.  I will always wonder in my heart,  “what if I would have nursed Henry more often would I have lost my milk?”,  “would Nola Mae’s weight issues been blamed on Henry and our tandem nursing?”, and “would we have experienced this trouble if I nursed Henry and Nola Mae all the time?”  I have healed a little and come to terms with how rough our first year with four children really was.

I found this in my journal notes.   I know a lot of breastfeeding mothers have moments like this but it was really hard for me to accept these feelings and I am surprised I even wrote this down.  “A couple of weeks ago I was ready to quit breastfeeding.  I have a friend who formula feeds and she has such a chunky baby.  Formula fed babies aren’t the only ones that are chunky!   I have a cousin who exclusively breastfeeds her very beautiful chunky baby.   I want some of that chunk on mine!  The fenugreek that I started taking last Thursday is working.   Everyone I talk to about it was impressed that I got such quick results.   My milk is coming back and Nola Mae gained 5 oz. in four days (1 oz./day is “standard”).  I will get the next weight check next Thursday and it seems too long for me to wait. 

All I want to do is nurse her constantly and at the same time I don’t want to be tied down to nursing her and be the sole person responsible for her health and growth.  I have gone back to taking the postpartum supplements because I have been having a lot of moments of ups and downs and not much in the middle. 

It hit me this past weekend that I am in over my head with four kids. Henry was tired, impatient, unreasonable (like any normal tired 3 yr old) and crying, instead of being loving and kind and understanding I screamed at him.  It was horrible!  That was one of my worst moments as a mother.  The root cause I think is from me feeling like a horrible mother who can’t feed her baby my heart is not here.  I was still out of patience that night at bedtime.  Robbie may have been able to tell because he kind of took over with Henry by reading to him and asking him to cuddle with him.  Later I thanked Robbie for being a great big brother and helper to me and he said “well, you’re a great mom.” 

I saw my midwife on Wednesday night.  Jack came home and I left to pick up the postpartum supplements.  When I got to her office she had a lemonade iced tea waiting for me and asked me to stay and talk to her.   I stayed an hour! It was wonderful to talk to her. My week has gotten better. 

I spent the afternoon at the beach with my close friend, Kat.  I didn’t get much deep conversations done because of watching each other kids in the water and visiting with other moms.  But it was nice to be out in the fresh air, watching the boys having so much fun.” 

Nola Mae is still “smaller” than some children her age but she is just as healthy and smart as any 17 month old child.

Nola Mae Watermelon

A great read and a salute to all mothers who do their best every day:    http://ouradoptionfaithwalk.blogspot.com/2013/08/world-breastfeeding-week-salute.html

IBCLC Day! (Revised 2013)

You may be wondering what that means.

Last year I learned that today is IBCLC Day and wrote this post!   Today I have revised it a bit.

An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is a health care professional who specializes in the clinical management of breastfeeding. This person has demonstrated competence to practice by passing an internationally recognized criterion-reference examination.

In my opinion, one of the most important people in health care!

The IBCLC in my life is an amazing woman named Sandy.  Sandy saved my breastfeeding relationship with Robbie almost eight and a half years ago.  We spent many hours with her during the first year of his life.  Sandy helped us on an individual basis by phone, visits to the hospital and at her New Baby Support Group.

Before Robbie was born I knew I wanted to breastfeed.  I read every book our library system had on breastfeeding.  I didn’t take the breastfeeding class that was offered at the hospital because I was too cheap to pay for the class and too busy to schedule it.  Instead I read all I could about it.  My main motivation wasn’t the health benefits to me and my child it was the gut feeling I got about the yuckiness of formula and the cost.  Breastfeeding is FREE!

I had good role models in my life who breastfed. One of them was my Mom. She breastfed five out of the six of her children. Three of them, triplets, who were born prematurely. My mom pumped milk for them and even had extra milk for the other babies in the NICU. She pumped for four months until the triplets finally latched on.

At the hospital where Robbie was born the nurses and lactation consultant tried to help us.    Robbie never latched on while we were there.   The staff kept telling me he will and they continued to “slam” his face into my breast trying to get him to latch on.  All he would do was scream bloody murder and pulled his head away from me.  Did this cause his strong-willed personality or was this the first sign of it?   The staff at the hospital insisted on me watching a 45 minute video on breastfeeding before I went home. All I can remember about that video was “I am doing that” and “I already know this”.   I think they sent me home thinking I was a lost cause and would fail at breastfeeding.  The lactation consultant there found out that we lived closer to Waupaca than Neenah and told me that I would need to get in touch with Sandy the IBCLC at the hospital there, because “She is the best lactation consultant in the state!  Waupaca is lucky to have her there.”

Robbie’s bilirubin was high when we left the hospital at two days old and the numbers kept climbing until he was 5 days old.  We met Sandy after seeing our family doctor when Robbie was three days old.  He was sleeping all the time still not latching on.

I will always remember my first meeting with Sandy.  She reassured us that we could make breastfeeding work.  She asked me to show her how I was trying to breastfeed.  Sandy’s exact words were, “Jenny, you are doing everything right!  It’s Robert who needs some work.”  I thought to myself Thank you for not making me watch another video!  I fell in love with Sandy during that first meeting.  I could feel her love for mothers, babies and breastfeeding.  That is when I knew then that I had the best lactation consultant in the world!

Sandy set us up with a breast pump, supplemental finger feeder, a chart to chart everything: ounces of breast milk pumped, Robbie’s intake and output, minutes of latch, minutes of drinking my milk with the finger feeder, Robbie’s mood or reaction and what time all of this happened.

The supplemental finger feeder.

The bili-blanket.

Because his bilirubin was still climbing he was hospitalized for more lights and monitoring when he was 4 days old.

After things settled down and Robbie got the hang of breastfeeding.   The largest benefit I got from Sandy’s wisdom was attending her New Baby Support Group twice a month for his first year of life. I rarely missed a meeting! I went to many of these meetings when Charlie and Henry were new babies too.  Sandy has specific topics for each meeting and always had a scale to weigh your baby.   She always stayed later to answer every mom’s questions.  My babies were breastfeeding a lot.  I always wondered if they were getting enough.   I was reassured by the scale that they were getting enough and were gaining weight.  I learned something new about breastfeeding, how to take care of my baby and myself, and how to be the mama I wanted to be at every meeting.  On top of these wonderful things I also met many other mamas who have become dear friends to me.

Because of the support I got from Sandy, Jack and all of my family and friends I was successful with breastfeeding Robbie, Charlie and Henry.   Between our three boys I have been able to breastfeed for a total 76 months.  Baby number four will add to my number of months of total breastfeeding.

Added: March 6, 2013

As you know, Nola Mae arrived about 11 months ago.  We had a good start to breastfeeding.  And then things started to go down hill.  Four kids knocked the wind out of my sails for many months, my milk supply dropped drastically and Nola Mae wasn’t gaining weight.  We discovered this by visiting Sandy often for weight checks and she got us back on track.  I feel like there are many more details to share about the things I learned during the first 6 months of Nola Mae’s life – I do have a blog post drafted about this topic  I just need some time to work on it!

I am now up to about 88 months of breastfeeding and still going strong thanks to all the support I have gotten from Sandy, Dr. Charlie, my family and friends.

A related post I put together for World Breastfeeding Week in 2011:  https://skiingmama.wordpress.com/2011/08/02/world-breastfeeding-week-2011/