"There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot." (Aldo Leopold) Apparently, I cannot.


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One Breast, Two Breast, No Breast, Yes Breast: Part I

Nothing is supposed to come more naturally to a new mother than breastfeeding. At least that’s what I always thought until I actually had kids. And then this little thing called life sort of changed all of my plans. This series is about my ups and downs with breastfeeding with all three of my kids — my journey through anticipation; disappointment; overwhelming, debilitating guilt; and, eventually, success. I’m sharing this journey with you not to come down on one side or the other in the whole breast vs. bottle debate (because as you’ll see, I’ve fallen on both) — and by no means do I want to start a debate about it here (so please, let’s not go there) — I’d simply like to shine a light on the fact that many women, and for many, many different reasons, struggle with breastfeeding. If you have ever or are currently struggling, please know that you are not alone. (And yes, now I have that Michael Jackson song in my head, too. Sorry ’bout that.)

breastfeeding part 1

This is actually the very first time I attempted to breastfeed Belle. This beautiful moment was captured by her daddy, and I’m so grateful for it!

When I was pregnant with our daughter, Belle, there was never any question for me in the breast vs. bottle feeding decision. I was definitely going to breastfeed. I really didn’t think twice about it. But then life threw us a little curve ball: Our daughter was born 11 weeks premature. Her surprising and unexpected beginning brought many challenges, one of which being, you guessed it, feeding issues.

Belle was born so early that she had not yet developed the suck/swallow reflex needed for nursing or even taking a bottle, so she was placed on a feeding tube for a few weeks. I was disappointed that I couldn’t breastfeed her right away, but the nurses suggested that I pump for her so that she’d at least be getting my breast milk.

So, pump I did. Every two to three hours around the clock, just as if I was actually breastfeeding. I wasn’t producing much those first few days, which is normal, and which was completely fine, because Belle was only taking a few milliliters of milk at a time through her feeding tube, so even the small amount I was producing early on was plenty for her.

I kept hearing, “Just wait a few more days until your milk comes in, then you’ll start getting a lot more.” But a few days came and went. And I wasn’t producing more. And a week later, I still wasn’t producing more. I’d sit in the pumping room in the NICU and marvel at the bottles and bottles other mommies were filling (in a totally non-creepy way, of course) while I couldn’t manage to fill even one. I’d sit at home and will my boobs to start spewing milk to fill bottle after bottle after bottle. But they didn’t.

And I tried everything under the sun to try to improve my supply. Ev-er-y-thing. But nothing worked. And we finally got to a point at which Belle’s demand for breast milk was more than what I could give her via pumping, and we had to start supplementing with formula. I was simply crushed. It got to the point where I would cry every time I pumped because I couldn’t do the most basic thing a mother is supposed to do for her child: I couldn’t even feed her. And this overwhelming disappointment turned into anxiety, which did nothing, as you can imagine, to help improve my supply.

But, I kept at it. And the nurses were very encouraging: “Every little bit helps!” they’d exclaim as I’d hand them my daily take. And I knew they were right, but I still felt like a failure. My husband, my family, my friends, they all cheered me on and were incredibly supportive, but I still felt like a failure. Belle was doing extremely well — thriving even — but I still felt like a failure.

And then one day when I stopped in for my morning visit with Belle, I realized her feeding tube had been removed. The nurse told me Belle had taken extremely well to the bottle overnight and asked if I wanted to try feeding her. As I was sitting there feeding her with a bottle for the first time, another nurse came up and asked if I’d like to try breastfeeding next time. I told her I’d love nothing more, but I had no idea how. So the nurse scheduled the lactation consultant to come in and help me during Belle’s next scheduled feeding.

My heart nearly exploded with happiness and anticipation and anxiety as I waited for the next feeding. I called my husband and shared the good news, and he made sure to get to the hospital in time to join us. Of course with new camera in hand. (He’s responsible for the beautiful photo at the beginning of this post!)

I won’t lie. Our first breastfeeding attempt was very awkward. I had no idea what I was doing, and I had some complete (albeit nice) stranger grabbing and poking and pulling on my boobs while maneuvering around all of Belle’s various tubes and wires, all in an attempt to get Belle to latch on. Which she did eventually. And then promptly fell asleep. (Preemies are notorious for sleeping at the boob. It’s really a lot of work for them.) “We’ll try again next time,” said the nurse.

It took a few more tries, but eventually we caught Belle at the right time and all the stars aligned — she was awake, she latched on quickly, and she seemed to be feeding incredibly well. And then? All of the alarms on her monitors started going off. And I freaked out. After calmly checking Belle and then her monitors, the nurse told me that Belle’s heartbeat had dropped pretty low (known as bradycardia), and that this was very common in preemies, especially when they were stressed or overstimulated. She explained that breastfeeding was a lot of work for a preemie, so we’d just have to take things slow. Ok, I could live with that.

Only it turns out, I couldn’t. Every single time I’d try to breastfeed Belle, her alarms would go off. And I would get stressed. Instead of enjoying some bonding time with Belle, I’d sit there watching her monitors for any sign of bradycardia. I was always on the verge of one massive anxiety attack. And sure enough, her alarms would go off. Every. Single. Time. So we made the executive decision to alternate feedings: we’d give a bottle at one feeding, and I’d attempt to breastfeed at the next.

And this is how it was when we left the hospital and made our way home. Bottle, attempt boob, bottle, attempt boob. All in the hopes that Belle would eventually be strong enough to start every meal on the boob, followed by a bottle if she was still hungry after exhausting my still-low milk supply.

My anxiety, however, only worsened after we got home. Belle was discharged from the NICU on an apnea and heart monitor, which of course went off every time I tried to breastfeed her. But when you’re in your own home with your preemie and the monitor alarms start going off, there are no nurses there to rush over and check her and reassure you that she is ok. Or tell you what to do. Which caused me to become a complete bundle of wreck. I just couldn’t handle it.

And so? After a few weeks, we decided to move Belle to bottle feedings 100% of the time. And again? I was devastated because I had so wanted to breastfeed. But, I knew it was the best choice for us. And for my sanity. Belle was really thriving, and I didn’t want to mess that up. Plus, I was still pumping, so I felt at least partially responsible for how well she was doing.

It wasn’t long, though, before Belle’s appetite completely overtook what my body could produce. Plus the constant pumping on top of all of the bottle feedings was getting to be too much. If I wasn’t feeding Belle a bottle, I was pumping. But for all of the hours each day and night I spent pumping, I was getting very little breast milk. So we decided it was time to stop pumping. Which meant Belle would be drinking formula from a bottle at every feeding. There would be no more breastfeeding. The thing I wanted to do most for my baby, the thing I never questioned doing, was now the thing that I was giving up.

And I knew in my head that this was the right decision. For me. For Belle. For my husband. But my heart? My heart was devastated. Sad. Angry. Defeated. Full of guilt. And envious. I’m not going to lie. It took a long, long time for me to see anyone else breastfeeding without mourning my inability to do so. (And it didn’t help that I occasionally had to defend our choices to perfect strangers!)

But the day did eventually come a few months later where I looked at my perfectly healthy, verging-on-chubby daughter and realized it truly didn’t matter that I wasn’t able to breastfeed her or give her breast milk from a bottle. Belle was thriving! She was caught up in size by the time she was 6 months and was doing better than anyone had expected. She was happy. We were happy. That was truly all that mattered. And in that moment, I was finally able to release myself from all of the guilt that had been building since the day Belle was born.

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Too Tired to Try Tuesday: Favorite Chicken

My kids finally seem to be getting tired of the same old, same old food around here, so I’ve been trying to branch out in the kitchen as of late. Since I’ve never really been big into cooking, I’ve been asking around for kid-approved recipes that aren’t the usual kid fare.

One of the recipes I received that I am super stoked about trying is from Kristina at Sew Curly — her family calls it their “Favorite Chicken.”

IMG_0891

Photo courtesy of Kristina at Sew Curly

Kristina promises that even her picky eaters love this — and hence why they call it their favorite chicken — so I’m looking forward to giving it a try with my kiddos.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Large bowl
  • Cookie sheet
  • Tin foil

Then there’s some oiling and Panko-ing and Paremesan’ing and baking . . . and voila, you have some delicious chicken!

To see the complete post with step-by-step instructions and photos from Kristina at Sew Curly, please click here.

As always, if you try it, let us know how it turns out. And send some pics!

I’m no cooking or crafting guru, so I started these Too Tired to Try Tuesday posts to share craft and recipe ideas that I’ve come across and would really like to try but am just too damned tired (that sounds better than lazy, right?) to get around to. In addition to ideas that I find, I am open to submissions from you–either something tried and true or something you want to try but haven’t had the time to. Just send me an email at raisingwildthingsblog@gmail.com with your ideas, and I may share them here. (And by “may” I mean “will definitely”! I just confessed how lazy tired I am, so if you take the time to send me something to share, I’m going to share it!)


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Lazy Sunday: Week in Review 7/28/13

In case you missed anything this week . . .

My Blog Posts

Are the weeks going by faster and faster all of a sudden? Seriously, how is this the last Sunday in July? I kinda feel like I’m in the Spy Kids 3 movie. (If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about. If not, I give you full permission to laugh at the fact that I have actually watched Spy Kids 3. Many, many, many times. Many.) Anyhoo . . .

On Monday I wrote about my idea for a new Discovery Channel reality show, Alone with Kids and Afraid, based on their new series Naked and Afraid. You strand one single adult with 2-3 children and see how he or she survives everyday parenting challenges. I for one would love to see how people would do. And nudity isn’t required, but let’s face it, it’s highly likely with kids, right?

For this week’s Too Tired to Try Tuesday post I shared Mommy Needs a Martini’s dry sparkle snow craft. This one is sure to be a hit with the kiddos. Messy, but fun!

On Thursday I wrote about my ongoing journey with the Orange Rhino Challenge. In this update I have a huge confession to make about how things have been going.

As always, I shared some adorableness in this week’s Shiny, Happy, Sparkly, Feel-Good Friday post. I’m so happy many of you have started sharing your own photos with us. Please keep them coming!

My Favorite Kid

This week my favorites said:

  • Sunday: “When can we stay over at Gramma and Pop’s again?” asked my favorite today.
  • Monday: “When does kindergarten start?” asked my favorite today.
  • Tuesday: “Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma,” said my favorite today. (Hey, it’s only been a few weeks hearing this little chatter. Give me a few more before I’m complaining about it driving me bonkers.) 
  • Wednesday: “I wanna watch t.v. on the man,” said my favorite today. (Good thing I knew she meant “on Demand,” lol.)
  • Thursday: “Shhhh, I’m twying to wead to my baby brudder,” said my favorite today.
  • Friday: “What?! Where did all this fur on my legs come from?!!” asked my favorite today.
  • Saturday: “I’m ready for night-night,” said my favorite today.

My Top 5 Facebook Posts (and a Recycled Photo)

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Also, I was looking through some old photos I’ve meme’d up, and came across this one — it’s one of my favorites and seems to be one of your favorites, too.

z in pillow

My Favorites from the Interwebs

Here are a few other blogs and other posts that I really enjoyed this week:

There you have it. Just another week with the wild things.


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Shiny, Happy, Sparkly, Feel-Good Friday: 7/26/13

Hope you all have had a great week. And I hope this post can put a smile on your face!

Some things that made me happy:

Knowing what would happen, we thought we'd turn on the jets during the  kids' bubble bath in our tub. They had a blast!

Knowing what would happen, we thought we’d turn on the jets during the kids’ bubble bath in our tub. They had a blast!

I guess he likes the sound of the dishwasher. Or leaning on things is his new thing. (See his door hug from last week.)

I guess he likes the sound of the dishwasher. Or leaning on things is his new thing. (See his door hug from last week.)

The 5 yo's story of a bear family going to space. (Can you guess what classic book series we've been reading lately?)

The 5 yo’s story of a bear family going to space. (Can you guess what classic book series we’ve been reading lately?)

This is a new thing, too.

This is a new thing, too.

Just testing out the pack 'n play.

Just testing out the pack ‘n play.

Bedtime stories.

Bedtime stories.

Welcome to Wild Thing Cafe . . . what would you like to eat?

Welcome to Wild Thing Cafe . . . what would you like to eat?

And some things that made you happy:

Traci from X: My daughter Tara...makes me laugh everytime I see it!

Traci from AR: My daughter Tara…makes me laugh every time I see it!

Soopa from X: The little one said she likes to lay on her big sister "because she so 'comfable.'"

Soopa from NY: The little one said she likes to lay on her big sister “because she so ‘comfable.'”

Christi from CA: Ryan dancing in the pool.

Christi from CA: Ryan dancing in the pool.

Kathy from IL: (1) Her little lady was born to perform! (2) Having fun at the splash pad!

Kathy from IL: (1) Her little lady was born to perform! (2) Having fun at the splash pad!

Melissa from MD: 5th birthday breakfast of champions!

Melissa from MD: 5th birthday breakfast of champions!

From Ms. Snippy Bloomers: Cotton candy at a fest is fun!

From Ms. Snippy Bloomers: Cotton candy at a fest is fun!

As always, thanks to everyone who submitted some happiness! Please keep it coming. Until next week…

Fridays on Raising Wild Things are Shiny, Happy, Sparkly, Feel-Good Fridays! Since parenting can sometimes suck the  life out of me, I wanted to do these posts as reminders of the good, the great things that happened during the week amid all the crazy, exhausting, sometimes frustrating, sometimes maddening, sometimes head-exploding moments that seem to linger in my memory and can put me in a mommy funk. What makes you happy? Please share!


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The Orange Rhino Challenge: Update #3

So it’s been a while since my last Orange Rhino update. (Orange Rhio-what? If you’re not familiar, please click here for some background on the challenge and my journey trying to master it.) And I have a huge confession to make! H-U-G-E!

I have been a complete and utter slacker the past month and a half!

And by slacker, I don’t mean that I’ve had to keep starting over at Day 1 because of yelling slip ups. I mean slacker like I haven’t even been working on the challenge. Like AT ALL. And I feel like such a huge failure right now.

With our huge move from CT to VA in June, and then the past few weeks trying to settle in to our new life, I’ve hardly had time to breathe let alone work on my yelling. And it’s not like I haven’t thought about the challenge. Because I have. Every time I yell (and yes, there has been a lot of that lately, I’m sad to admit). But instead of using these times as moments of reflection to step back, take a deep breath, and say, “Ok, let’s start over and work even harder on this,” I’ve been a slacker who instead says, “Man, I should really start back on the challenge; maybe tomorrow.”

But then, you know what? I’ve been leaving it at that. Because not yelling, my friends? It’s hard work. That’s right, I said it. It’s work. And I just haven’t felt like doing more work these days on top of everything else we’ve had going on. I fully admit it. And I’m not proud. I have actually decided to behave in ways that I know make me and my kids feel like crap all because I’ve just been too damn lazy. Lazy!

I AM STRONGER THAN THAT, DAMMIT! AND WE DESERVE BETTER!

don't give up

So, I’m getting my rear back in gear and taking on the challenge again in full force. Now I’m human, so I can’t promise there won’t be any more slip ups and rewinding, but I can promise that I am going to keep working at it. I’ve kicked the slacker out the door and welcomed back my determination and drive. Let’s do this. Again. 🙂

Until the next update . . .

To keep up with my journey, please feel free to check out my Orange Rhino Challenge page. For more information on the challenge, please visit: http://theorangerhino.com. And if you’re on the challenge, too, let me know. We can support each other and hold each other accountable. Go Orange!


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Too Tired to Try Tuesday: Dry Sparkle Snow

If you opened this post hoping it had something to do with actual snow to help you continue to fight this summer heat, I’m sorry. This dry sparkle snow craft from Jeannette at Mommy Needs a Martini won’t do that. (Well, unless you do it inside with the A/C blasting.) BUT, it will be fun. And, if I’m going to be completely honest? Messy! This craft will be very, very, very messy. But still, fun!

dry sparkle sand

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Large bowl or bin for mixing
  • Flour
  • Baby oil
  • Glitter
  • Spoons, measuring cups, small Tupperware containers, etc.

And after you mix it all up, you’re left with some pretty, sparkly dry snow that your kids will have a blast molding, and shaping, and digging in. But hopefully not using for snowball fights! (Although if you’re really concerned about the mess, you could always do this outside.)

To see the complete post with full instructions and photos from Mommy Needs a Martini, please click here.

As always, if you try it, let us know how it turns out. And send some pics!

I’m no cooking or crafting guru, so I started these Too Tired to Try Tuesday posts to share craft and recipe ideas that I’ve come across and would really like to try but am just too damned tired (that sounds better than lazy, right?) to get around to. In addition to ideas that I find, I am open to submissions from you–either something tried and true or something you want to try but haven’t had the time to. Just send me an email at raisingwildthingsblog@gmail.com with your ideas, and I may share them here. (And by “may” I mean “will definitely”! I just confessed how lazy tired I am, so if you take the time to send me something to share, I’m going to share it!)


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I’ve Got a Reality Show For You, Discovery Channel: “Alone with Kids and Afraid”

So, if you didn’t know, the Discovery Channel has this new show right now called Naked and Afraid. Basically, they take two strangers — one man and one woman — and strand them in some remote “extreme weather” location for 21 days and film how they go about surviving. Oh, and surprise, they’re naked. Quoting from the website: “In Naked and Afraid, these brazen and bold couples will get acquainted with each other and their new surroundings very quickly, forcing them to question and test everything they may think they know about their acquired survival skills and instincts.”

After watching every episode available marathon-style a few episodes, I came up with a great idea for Discovery’s next extreme reality show. I call it Alone with Kids and Afraid. The premise? You strand one single adult with 2-3 children and see how he or she survives everyday parenting challenges. Nudity won’t be required, but I’m not gonna lie, it’s highly likely.

I have a friend who works at Discovery Channel, so I’m definitely going to pitch this idea to her so she can float it up the awesome idea chain. And, to get them started, I’ve come up with 10 situations I’d like to see thrown at the contestants. How would your survival skills stack up in these challenges?

Alone and Afraid