Whole30 Week 1

Disclaimer: Despite being motivated, I failed my Whole30 on Day 6 and have not regained my momentum since. More on why I think I failed later in this post.

Three years ago I successfully completed a Whole30. It was wonderful and I felt great! I did not, however, follow a proper reintroduction and despite eating well-ish some of the times. I backslid into a typical SAD diet, got pregnant, let cravings run rampant, ate a ton of fast food, had complications breastfeeding, multiple surgeries, got pregnant again, committed to cooking healthy meals at home, had a healthy pregnancy and complication-free delivery, successful breastfeeding, and lost all of my second-baby weight in two months without dieting or exercising. I by no means feel like a failure and am very proud of my progress overall. I knew that this was an incredibly difficult time to attempt a Whole30, but I was feeling so frustrated and like a victim to my hormones and my obsession with food. Here’s how my week went:

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I made myself a nice batch of egg muffins with sweet-potato bottoms (starches are supposed to help keep milk supply up) and had three for breakfast. Lunch was Cuban pork wraps, mustard-mayo sauce and a lime slaw and dinner was meatballs I found at Costco with zoodles and a spinach-walnut pesto. I drank my coffee black and found it difficult to finish. My milk tanked… like 7oz for the day instead of my usual 11-12oz and I was a little upset that I had to throw in extra pumping sessions to make up for it. Other than that I felt pretty good all day long. No serious lethargy and I never got crazy hungry. (If you are familiar with breastfeeding needs you know why my milk tanked but at this point I wasn’t really sure and needed to experiment).

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Day 2 I drank significantly more water and managed to get my milk back to 9oz, but still not what I needed. Breakfast was the same three egg muffins, lunch was a buffalo chicken salad with a hard boiled egg and homemade avocado ranch and dinner was THE BEST THING I’VE EVER MADE! I had a jumbo spaghetti squash from my csa and my husband hates spaghetti squash (it’s a texture thing). I’ve tried them as pad thai, stuffed them, put them in casseroles, etc. and he’s hated it all. I finally tried these spaghetti squash fritters from Real Food with Dana (omitted the bacon and made my own sauce) and they were a hit! We used them as buns for a shredded chicken sandwich. Mine had homemade russian dressing, spinach, shredded chicken, and sauerkraut and his had bacon and spinach. He ate four fritters (in the form of two sandwiches) and my toddler ate an entire fritter himself plus a few extra bites. What a major win for mom!D86398DA-37BA-4E40-AB2A-F86A73D86143By Day 3 I was beginning to suspect a lack of calories was the reason for my milk supply issues and I added in a fourth meal plus some extra fat with my breakfast (half an avocado). When nursing I need about 2,000+ calories per day without exercising to keep up my supply (I generally log daily with MyFitnessPal) but logging on the Whole30 is a no-no and I was trying to stay within the guidelines. Breakfast was three muffins again, lunch was chicken shawarma with a cauliflower tabouleh and a tahini dipping sauce, and dinner was my husband’s favorite combination: tapioca-starch coated meat fried in avocado oil, steamed veggies, roasted cauli-rice, and whatever sauce I feel like making. This meal-type is a regular rotation in our house with things like sesame chicken, bang-bang shrimp, orange beef, teriyaki chicken, etc. This one was a combination of coconut aminos, sesame oil, red chili flakes, and rice wine vinegar. My fourth meal was one can of tuna, a scoop of homemade mayo, Cholula, and lime.

If you’re trying to stay sane on the Whole30 then you repeat a lot of meals. Days 4 and 5 get a little repetitive in that sense. On Day 4 we had family over for our weekly dinner and my husband smoked dry-rub ribs, roasted asparagus and I made a ranch mashed potato with coconut cream and mayo. With family around I often forget to take a snap of my food (plus it’s kinda a weird thing to do at a table full of people) so I’m using the picture of my leftovers-taken-for-fourth meal instead. Lunch both days was more buffalo chicken salads and breakfast was more egg muffins with avocado except I also added some spicy kraut to make it more interesting for my tastebuds. Friday is usually pizza night, but we opted for some oven roasted wings instead and I ate sooooo many because they were delicious. Pizza and wings are my all-time-hands-down favorite food.

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Day 6 is my sad day (Saturday). We had back-to-back birthday parties and I thought I was prepared. I ate a huge breakfast with potatoes, sugar-free bacon from Pederson Farms, spinach eggs and avocado. I also packed a Larabar “just in case” and I think that’s what caused my crash and burn. At the first party there was a taco bar so I helped myself to loads of marinated carnitas and chicken, scoops of homemade salsa, tomatoes, and lettuce for wraps. We managed to get our toddler down for a nap between parties but time was a crunch so I quickly ate Cashew Cookie (a beautiful combination of nuts and dates) and the sugar rush triggered massive cravings. When I got to the second party (a police academy graduation) there was a cake made from a mountain of donuts and I just couldn’t get it off my mind. Oddly enough I cheated on everything but the donuts. I had two jalapeno poppers, a taquito, (not cheat-worthy) boiled shrimp and raw veggies. The problem? Not what I ate, but what I felt. After this I spiraled into all my favorite things that I was avoiding (worth-it gourmet donuts, pizza, etc) and lost all the good feelings from the first week. Now I need to regroup, recommit, and plan a better time to try Whole30 again while making smart decisions (like lots of calories and more starches) that will support my milk production.

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Trolls Themed Toddler Birthday

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My oldest turned 2 on March 20th and I knew I had to throw him a Trolls-themed party. He gets one movie a day (usually as a wind-down for bedtime) and he almost always picks Trolls. In fact, I’m positive Trolls is the reason he started using more words and short sentences. He loves to sing and dance and hug and sing and dance and hug andsinganddanceandhug. He acts out multiple scenes from the movie including Branch’s hair whipping the spiders, Branch reaching out for “Grandmaaaaaa” as he falls and the “caw” of the crow-thing in BergenTown (clearly I’ve seen Trolls a lot). I am becoming one of those crazy mommies who cares deeply about what nutrition my son receives (which honestly shouldn’t make me crazy!) so I tried to maintain a solid balance at this party…

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We served burgers and all-beef hot dogs (toddler got his with no bun), mixed veggies with beet hummus, turmeric ranch, and guacamole, fruit tray, corn chips with salsa and potato chips with sour-cream dips. I wanted to provide a strong offering of grain-free options and by turning down offers to “help” I was able to keep almost everything home-made. The only battle I lost were the Ruffles and Sour Cream Dips (green onion and french onion soup from those packages with all the crazy ingredients). I knew I was going to have to provide the standard cake-ice cream-goodie bag combo because my mother-in-law is fiercely attached to the family traditions and expectations, but I don’t feed my kid a whole lot of refined sugar or really any sugar aside from that in fruit. So, I bought a Costco cake for the party goers, scraped off the decorations and made it Troll-tastic with rainbow colored sprinkles and icing Poppy:

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This was crazy-easy and although it’s not perfect looking (from having to scrape off the original decorations) I’m pretty proud of myself. I also knew my son would be going nowhere near this sugar coma inducing monstrosity so bring on the SPRINKLES! For him, and the other babies / people looking for a lower sugar option I opted for six honey-sweetened homemade vanilla cake and buttercream cupcakes decorated to look like the troll poop from the movie.

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I mean… the resemblance isn’t perfect but I was super happy with taste and the results. Despite all my efforts to make an alternate edible cake my toddler didn’t do much other than steal the raspberry, take one lick of the frosting, and run away to play. I, on the other hand, ate way too much of the crack cake and felt horribly sick as punishment. For the party itself, we played songs from the Trolls soundtrack plus other Disney music on the speakers, had the Trolls movie playing inside for anybody who hadn’t seen it or wanted to cool off (the party was mostly outside) and had a photo booth area with glitter backdrops and Troll props for party-goers to take selfies. This was by far my favorite part of the party and I managed to collect 15 awesome pictures of friends and family posing with the Troll hair to celebrate my son turning 2!

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How do you celebrate your babies’ birthdays? Do you have to fight family expectations on what food to serve? Or do you just go with the flow for this one day?

Workwear Week of 3/20/17

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Spring has sprung! Monday was the first day of Spring and I made it my goal to wear floral every single day. Turns out I only have four work-appropriate floral pieces… whoops! I was hesitant when StitchFix sent me my first floral piece (the very pink floral top) because I was sure I didn’t like floral, but it turns out I was wrong.

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Monday I rocked my new Old Navy tank, white ankle pants and nude flats plus my rose-colored light cardigan. Remember when I concluded that rose is my color? Again I got crazy compliments wearing this cardigan in a new way so it’s official… buy all the rose things! Rose pants, rose blouses, rose shoes? Yes yes yes!

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On Tuesday I repeated the muted color Target floral shell to see if it looked good tucked into a black pencil skirt (it does) and I wore it sleeveless because it’s still crazy hot right now. I felt very teacher-ish in this shot because of the double-shoulder-bags-black-coffee look before I loaded into my car to go to work. Ha!

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Another PLC Meeting, another dress! The weather was beautiful and overcast so we took our meeting to a Starbucks patio and it was fabulous. This is actually a maternity dress I bought during my last pregnancy and I think it worked really well with the mustard cardigan. Plus, it’s a pretty standard wrap style so I’m thinking I can wear it a bit more before I have to retire it?

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You know what I love about StitchFix? They have so many shirts with great little details and I feel like in this picture you can really see the blue embroidery trim around the neckline in this picture. It just adds another great layer to this blouse. Some crazy weather flew in so I went back to my plum cardigan for warmth.

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aaaaaand I’m all out of floral- sad day. But polka dots! Another awesome pattern filled in the gap. Black jeans, best ever ModCloth purchase neck tie blouse and my totally awesome PI Canvas bag for casual Friday.

Workwear Week of 3/13/17

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Oh my goodness life is crazy right now! Too many birthdays. Too much preparation for state testing. Too many out of town family visits. I can’t keep up with anything! But I still got dressed for work every morning and I still took selfies so I’ve got some outfits to share.

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I stayed home Monday since the baby had a slight fever and was incredibly fussy. That made Tuesday my first workday and I decided to keep it simple with my polka dot ankle pants, a sheer maroon blouse and black flats. Accidentally snapped my badge in the shot so had to blur out the details…

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Wednesday is PLC Meeting day. As the Algebra 1 leader I like to look my most professional on Wednesdays (if possible) and dragged my favorite ModCloth dress out of the pre-pregnancy box. The weather is back in the 90s so this cardigan lasted about a minute. The dress is sleeveless and incredibly flattering so I felt comfortable even without my cardigan.

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My mother calls this floral “old lady” but that’s definitely my fashion style so it’s perfect for me right? I love the color scheme in this blouse and it works with every cardigan I own so obviously I need to pair it with each one once right? This combo is black ankle pants, black flats, and a long teal cardigan that again did not last after the temps hit 90…

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St. Patrick’s Day! Have you ever been pinched by a 15yr old? Because I have. Once. And I will never forget green on St. Patty’s day ever again. I didn’t feel like wearing my green sweater (too hot) or my newest green StitchFix blouse (wore it a lot lately) so I went with my green StitchFix and a white blouse, jeans, and gold flats. I didn’t even pretend to myself that it’d be nice enough for a sweater and went sleeveless all day.

That’s it! I think it may be time for some compilation posts to see what pieces I’ve been repeating the most? Can’t quite remember any more what I’ve already done…

Whole30 Shopping and Week 1 Meal Prep

I’m sure there are some people who can succeed on the Whole30 without meal planning or meal prepping, but not me. Unless I spent $$$ at Whole Foods every day? Despite wanting to clean up my diet I’m still on an extremely tight budget (about $125 per week for everything for my family of three) and just can’t afford not to cook at home and buy all the things. Wouldn’t it be great if organic/additive free/sugar free food was the norm and the conventional extra processed stuff was the exception? Yes, yes it would!

That’s not to say I didn’t buy anything for my Whole30, I need bacon after all! So here’s what I’ve got stocked up:

  1. My organic csa basket: this baby has netted me a lot of produce to get through. I’ve got two bunches of asparagus, two bags of spinach, two bags of grape tomatoes, 2lbs of yellow onions, two spaghetti squashes, one butternut squash, two heads of cauliflower, 1lb of broccoli, three green peppers, 1lb Brussels sprouts, two sweet potatoes, avocados, and 1lb of snow peas. (Yes, we can and will eat ALL the veggies)IMG_3050
  2. Costco: I get my non-perishables at Costco as much as possible so that includes coconut flour, almond flour, avocado oil, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and canned tuna (nothing added in there). I also buy canned chicken but this will be out for Whole30 since they add “Food Starch” which can be from anything. Eggs in my house are practically non-perishable since we can easily go through three dozen in a week which means those are a Costco food as well. Since nut butters, nuts, and dried fruit are out for emergency food I needed meat. Thankfully Costco has some great options with 0 junk that I stocked up on included Aidells chicken and apple sausages, smoked pulled pork, and chicken basil meatballs. Once home, I repacked all of these into smaller servings so that I could stash the extras in the freezer for later.IMG_3065
  3. Sprouts: Sprouts is the store where I fill in the gaps… and shop like I don’t know what I’m doing. This time around I picked up sugar-free Pederson’s bacon, a bag of kraut, some cashews, lemons, green onions, cilantro, and shallots. I usually buy my coconut milk, coconut aminos, tapioca starch, and arrowroot powder here too but I’m all stocked up on these essentials already so I didn’t need more.

Now to the meal prep! I can’t follow a strict meal plan because on Saturday I have no idea what I want to eat each day for the entire week. Instead, I make a checklist of meals I have the ingredients for and am interested in and then as I cook them I check them off the list. Often, I add things to the list that weren’t already there (for example there is nothing Mexican/Latin on my checklist this week and I already can tell I want some taco-meat in my near future so that’ll have to be corrected)

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This meal plan really should be called a “dinner plan”. When prepping only for myself I generally make a jar salad to take to work for lunch and egg muffins to take for breakfast. However, I’ve been meal prepping for family and friends the past month and got way fancier. My lunches this week were made on Sunday (when I made 96 meals in total) and include:

  1. Cuban pork lettuce wraps with mustard dipping sauce and cilantro-lime slaw
  2. Buffalo chicken cobb salad with avocado ranch
  3. Chicken shawarma with cauliflower tabouleh and tahini dipping sauceIMG_3066I’m about as prepared as I can be… now let’s just hope I can survive the ups and downs during the first two weeks and stay strong.

Workwear Week of 2/27/17

Did you miss me? I was on Spring Break! Which means I wore pajamas almost every day… don’t judge. But I’m back with another week of teacher outfits for you.

 

Over the weekend I was a pinning monster and I saw an outfit I could execute immediately with my newest sweater from StitchFix. I felt professional, put together, and warm on this chilly windy day. What I don’t understand from the picture is how she doesn’t look bulky where the sweater is tucked in? Maybe this really only works if you don’t have a recently-delivered-a-baby stomach pooch…

Tuesday it was still really cold so I opted for another sweater. This one I purchased from Target about 8 years ago and I’m still wearing it today because I love the deep purple color so much. Matched it with my blank ankle pants and black flats. I’m still getting the hang of selfies and you can see the end of my side braid hanging out in this one. Whoops.IMG_2944

Wednesday was my favorite outfit this week! I can’t get enough of color so I’m always pairing weird ones together like this teal cardigan with my hot pink pants. Throw in polka dots (one of my favorite patterns) and how can you go wrong? P.S. taking my pictures outside is so much more realistic because you get to see me holding my coffee, car keys, and wearing my work/pump bag which is my life.IMG_2946.JPG

Polka dots back to back! No shame in my favorite print. Although I think it’s time to retire this maternity blouse. It’s not doing my post partum body any favors. I’ve worn this outfit with my mustard cardigan and my white cardigan so the only combination left is my navy blue cardigan and I loved it! Plus more coffee and this time paperwork.
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Casual Friday I wore another StitchFix favorite with this bright green blouse, but this time I half-tucked it into my only pair of jeans. I took this picture before going to work, so I wonder if I suffered from pit stains all day? Hmmm… Also, shout out to any button-front blouse that can handle nursing boobs without gaping wide open.

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This was technically the week before Spring Break (hey, I was on vacation!) so I’ll be posting another week of outfits that match a two week and 20 degree difference.

My Whole30 Plan

I vented in my last post about the struggle I’ve been having with the slippery slope of poor eating decisions. It’s time to lay down my plan, map out my calendar, and prepare myself for the struggles ahead. I recently read Melissa Hartwig’s Food Freedom Forever and I noticed in the alternative resets some suggestions for cravings and decided to add those rules to my own personal Whole30 Guidelines:

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In addition to all of the normal Whole30 Rules, I’m also not going to be snacking or “emergency food” planning with crave-worthy binge-starting foods like Larabars or handfuls of cashews or spoonfuls of sunflower seed butter. I find that when I create these emergency snacks for myself (like my mason jars full of cashews) they became everyday snacks. That’s not necessarily bad (nothing wrong with a daily handful of cashews) but for me it’s just another way to let food rule my mind and it’s got to go.

My husband doesn’t want to do a complete Whole30 and we decided for my success and for our two babies it’s probably better if we don’t both hit the tired/cranky stages at the same time. In fact, my husband gets HANGRY when he doesn’t eat enough and when we do a Whole30 he often feels like he doesn’t know what’s “ok” for him to eat or not so he just won’t eat. To make sure my house isn’t filled with tempting noncompliant foods he and the toddler will be following a modified yes/no list:

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My son loves fresh corn and white rice so those will be his “occasional grains”. I also like him to get his probiotics in with yogurt/yogurt pops and some days the only protein I can get him to eat is cheese. Instead of eliminating those items, I’m going to find better quality sources and pay attention to the additives.

Finall, nothing is worse than doing a Whole30 and hitting the rough patches when you need to be on your A-game so I created myself a calendar. Like I said in my last post, this is probably the worst time to do a Whole30 but I just can’t wait any longer. In the next 30 days…

  1. I will turn 27
  2. My son will turn 2
  3. There will be three birthday parties, including the one I host for my son
  4. My dad and his family will visit for a week
  5. My uncle, his 7 kids and my grandfather will visit for a week

I won’t lie and say I’m not worried, but I’m sure I can navigate these events with mindful choices and pre-eating (where you eat before you go to a party/dinner/etc). To see where the Whole30 Calendar lines up with my days I needed a visual:

Whole30 CalendarLooks pretty good right? I’ve got this, and I’m going to feel so good when it’s done.

Up next: Prepping for the Whole30 and Whole30 Day 1 Reflection

 

 

One Day or Day One?

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I’ve been seeing this phrase all over instagram the past few weeks and kept telling myself, “it’s not the right time for me” and “just do the best you can right now” and “progress, not perfection” but my reality is not pretty. As a teacher my new year is in June. I complete my Whole30s in June; I get shit done in June. I let myself slide under the surface during the school year because my job takes so much out of my energy and willpower and my family takes whatever is left.

I am not somebody who is successful with moderation. I can’t just have “one soda on occasion” because occasions start to happen weekly and then next it’s daily and before I know it I’m buying a pallet of Diet Coke from Costco to reload my work fridge with that chemical-loaded caffeinated bubbly nectar. I can’t “treat yo-self” with “worth it” foods because I live with my sugar dragon on my shoulder whispering sweet nothings in my ear and converting all sugar to worth-it sugar. And yet, I tell myself I can do those things and be those things because it works so well for people who have their shit together. People who have followed a wholesome lifestyle for years and know themselves well. That’s not me. I have an unhealthy relationship with food. I obsess, I crave, I binge, I suffer (headaches, sluggishness, etc) although thankfully I don’t regret- I’ve had too many struggles that have taught me to love myself to let a pint of Ben & Jerry’s put me down.

But it’s funny because I also love to cook. In fact, despite the lack of “What We Ate” posts I’ve still been cooking great meals for my family. When I cook I love to cook dairy free, grain free, gluten free, sweetener free, veggie and protein packed meals that are delicious! I cook 3-4 nights per week and I meal prep breakfast and lunch 5 days per week. That means out of approximately 21 meals per week 14 are on point. Unfortunately, moderation does not work. The other 7 meals are Little Caesars, Pizza Hut, McDonalds, Donuts or whatever is fast easy and cheap. I need a reset. Not in June when it’s easiest, but now. And it’s not just me. My husband needs a reset and my son (almost two) needs a reset. In fact, I’m convinced that all of the issues we have been facing with our moods and our energy levels can be sourced to the refined sugars and refined grains that have weaseled into our daily lives.

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So for now, instead of posting after the fact (which obviously didn’t work) I think I need to post my weekly plan for meals and meal prep and an in-the-moment diary of what really went down and how it made me/my husband/my son feel and act.

Hope you’re ready because I sure as hell am.

Workwear Week of 2/20/17

Is there such thing as a bad four day workweek? I don’t think so. My week was good, my lessons were great, and there’s only one more week before Spring Break! Hallelujah! I’m dying to have a week with my baby who is now three months old. Plus, I’ll have time to plan my toddler’s 2yr birthday party and hopefully complete some projects around the house.

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I enjoyed getting dressed every day this week and received a lot of compliments. Taking the selfies was a challenge, but I’ve begun to realize natural light (instead of the fluorescent bulbs in the storage closet that I use to pump) are going to be a must from here on out!

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Tuesday was a pink and blue StitchFix floral blouse, navy cardigan, and brown work pants. Standard work fare.

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Wednesday was the highlight of my week. I’m starting to believe that looking good leads to feeling good leads to having a good day. Even my afterschool meeting turned out amazing since we opted to meet at a Starbucks and enjoy the fresh air on the patio. As for the outfit itself, I think rose might be my new favorite color to wear and I enjoyed mixing up my accessory game by going for big sparkly earrings. I liked this outfit so much that I thought I’d try something new and deconstruct it for you since it was hard to get all the little details in my selfie.

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Thursday was more basic and all neutrals with my lace sleeve StitchFix top, black ankle pants and black flats. I felt sleek and professional and the outfit was easy.

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Finally, I’m debuting my other window shopping purchase with this floral shell from Target (on clearance), my plum cardigan and some jeans for casual Friday. The quality of this picture over the others can’t be denied. I had one of the worst luck days by first forgetting both my phone and keys at home, then spilling coffee in my lap on my drive, and then my poor baby spiked a fever and cried for me all day forcing me to scramble to find substitute coverage last minute so I could go home after lunch. Despite all of that being put together motivated my productivity and I got a ton (almost all) of my grading done in anticipation of the end of the quarter.

Can’t wait for my holiday!

 

 

My Breastfeeding Story

This has been a really difficult post for me to write. In fact, I started 24 days ago. 24 days! The struggle has been half not remembering the details (it’s amazing what the brain will block out) and half not knowing how to phrase things. To help I’ve put in a few comics.

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All of the comics in this post are from Baby Blues. If you want a good laugh browse their comics here. http://babyblues.com/comic_tag/breastfeeding/

I knew when I got pregnant that I wanted to breastfeed and that I wasn’t going to be deterred. What I didn’t know were the repercussions of that decision and the fight that it would take to maintain a breastfeeding relationship with my babies.

My first son was born in March 2015 and I went right to breastfeeding while still in the delivery room. He latched immediately and I felt relief that this would be “easy”. My labor had been induced because of hypertension and worrisome signs that I may be developing preeclampsia (high blood pressure, swelling, sudden weight gain, protein in my urine) and I was hooked up to an IV to regulate my bp.

The next morning I was sleepy and sore, but content. A lactation specialist came to see me to help with different positions because the latch was starting to hurt but there weren’t any crazy signs of the pain I’d eventually feel. Within just one day my nipples were cracked and bloody and nursing was so painful I would cringe and cry to get through one 40-minute long (my son’s desperate attempt at getting milk from a bad latch) feeding session. Unfortunately my boy was born during “busy season” and although I asked throughout the day there were no lactation consultants available to see me again. On the fourth day I was finally cleared to go home (on blood pressure meds) but with no resolutions for my bad latch and no hope in sight other than the idea that things might work themselves out as my baby got older if I just stayed the course.

By the first check up my precious baby had lost 12oz from his average birth weight of 7lb 4oz frame and my pediatrician pushed formula. I asked if my baby might be tongue-tied (he was) but my pediatrician said that tongue-tie wasn’t a problem and sent us on our way.

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That week I packed up my newborn and my husband and went to a breastfeeding support group provided by my hospital (awkwardly enough run by the LC who didn’t have time to see me). My savior, Doreen, took one look at my son’s mouth and concluded he had a tongue tie. A conclusion my pediatrician had previously denied (while pushing formula samples) when I asked. I made an appointment to see a different pediatrician in the same office who specialized in tongue tie clippings. This doctor agreed with the LC and concluded that my baby had a “posterior tongue-tie” which was clipped 10 days after birth. As a part of the procedure they ask that you nurse there in the office to make sure the baby is comfortable and that there aren’t complications. Prior to this appointment I had been using nipple shields to try and find some relief (they are obnoxious but effective) and didn’t have them with me. I cried from the fear of the pain I would experience, but I stubbornly didn’t want to use formula. The nursing relief was INSTANT. My nipples were still sore and damaged, but the pain reduced so significantly I cried again for entirely different reasons. (I cried more in the first 10 weeks of my first son’s life than I have in all of my other days combined).

Over the next few weeks I began to develop some terrible side effects from the nipple wounds. My left side healed up within a week of the clipping and was a breeze to nurse on, but the bloody sores on my right side would not budge. I was using a specially blended nipple cream which I believed helped, but not enough. Over the next few weeks I had mastitis, then thrush. Because of my son’s slow weight gain we were seeing the pediatrician every week and he was able to prescribe medication for me to deal with both. Then, I woke up one morning and found that I could barely move. My joints felt like they had turned to cement and my bones were grinding with every movement. At my 6 week postpartum checkup my OB’s only response to my problems was that I didn’t have to breastfeed (she never did) and that she would skip examining my breasts for my comfort. When I asked her about the joint pain she said that I should see my GP and that it wasn’t her expertise.

By the time I met with my GP my right breast had developed an angry red lump (mastitis again!) and she prescribed a 10-day antibiotic as well as sent me with an order to get my blood tested to try and figure out my joint pain. It turns out, the mastitis infection had hit my blood first and I was experiencing “bacterial arthritis” for 2 weeks before the symptoms showed up in my breast. After the 10 days of antibiotics the angry lump was still there and had grown to the size of an egg. I was still attempting to nurse, doing massages in the shower, soaking my breast in warm water, trying crazy positions, using gel packs, and my husband even sucked my nipple in an effort to remove what we thought was a blocked duct.

Spoiler alert: It wasn’t a blocked duct. My GP sent me to a breast specialist who gave my breast an ultrasound and found it was filled with pus from a severe infection. She used a needle and syringe to pull out as much of the infection as possible, prescribed a stronger antibiotic and asked me to call in four days if there wasn’t noticeable improvement. There wasn’t. In fact, the infection grew back and spread from the top of my breast to the bottom. My infection was abscessed and would need surgery to heal.

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I was admitted to the hospital when my son was 7 (almost 8) weeks old and had my first I/D surgery. This surgery required cutting open my breast (along the edge areola) to clean out the infection and then leaving the wound open so the infection didn’t have a warm comfortable place to grow back. I did a lot of crying before the surgery from fear and after the surgery from sadness that I may not be able to continue breastfeeding (yes, even after ALL of this I was still 100% committed to my choice although I would not recommend my level of stubborn to someone else). The original infection healed well, but five days after the first surgery I noticed there were still two more angry red lumps that weren’t going away. The next day I went into surgery again to cut two more holes and clear out the last lumps. These smaller incisions were connected to my original incision and kept open by rubber tubes.

During my weeklong hospital stay I experienced the most demoralizing and painful point in my life. I peed on myself, I blew multiple IVs, I had a severe and painful allergic reaction to Vancomycin, I became addicted to the dose of Percocet I was receiving and went through a withdrawal after my second surgery when they tried to switch me to Vicodin.

My son and my husband stayed in the hospital room with me thanks to the incredible support from the nursing staff.  I continued to nurse him from my “good side” and reminded myself that although it was hard (he was nursing every hour or sooner) twins grow up on one breast and do just fine.

I was discharged with an order for a home-care nurse who would come by once per day to unpack and repack my incisions. During that time she trained my husband to do the same procedure (my insurance wouldn’t pay for a full recovery) and I worked hard to take as little pain medication as I could stand, although I always took one prior to the excruciating unpacking and re packing of my incisions.

Healing was hard on my family. The surgery extended my 6-week unpaid leave into a 4-month unpaid leave and we had to live off of credit cards and what my husband could earn working part time at Target while still being home enough to help care for me. But I healed. I went to a breastfeeding support group every Thursday, I pumped between nursing sessions so I could “skim the fat” and supplement. I continued to breast feed exclusively (I mean, I fought hard for the privilege after all) and my milk eventually matched my son’s needs. He gained weight steadily and by 3 months was back to average with a healthy dose of “chunk” that makes babies so squeezable. Once my incisions fully healed I tried to nurse that side (and failed) and then tried to pump to maintain even a small flow, but I was never able to produce a significant amount in my right breast (less than an ounce per day) and let it “dry up”.

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The rest is history! Before we decided to have children my husband and I had made the decision that he would stay home and I would continue to work full time (I was salaried and had decent benefits, he was hourly and did not). He is more of a homebody and I need to get out so it just made more sense for us. I went back to work in August so my husband learned to bottle feed a breastfed baby and I learned to accept nursing every hour and a half when I was home and every three hours at night. We were determined to make it work and prepared to support each other through any obstacles. At 6months we introduced the first solids (puréed fruits and veggies) and by 9 months he was enjoying homemade blends. At 12 months I stopped pumping at work and we introduced one bottle of unsweetened almond milk once per day instead. When I was home he nursed on demand.

Then one day, around 13-14 months, my toddler climbed into my lap when I got home for work like he always did, latched my left side like he always did, squeezed my boobs and patted my chest (like he always did), smiled at me and popped off. He was done breastfeeding. For good. And he never asked to latch again. (Another spoiler alert: turnsd out I was 2 or 3 months pregnant with his brother!)

Thanks for reading this! I’m sure some of you will think I’m insane (I am) and insanely stubborn (also true) but maybe some of you will see hope for your struggles with nursing. Although my path isn’t one I would wish on anyone else I never regretted my decision to exclusively breastfeed or my decisions to stick with I think even when it became unbearable.