Breastfeeding and Me, Part I

Remember this post from two years ago?

I've been thinking a lot about it lately.  My perspective has changed quite a bit since then, so, naturally, my opinions have changed as well.  However, in some ways, my opinions have also stayed the same.

My breastfeeding experiences so far have been drastically different with my two children.  I breastfed Kyle for about 3 months, then made the switch to formula because it made us both happier.  With Lucas, I've breastfed exclusively (so far) for 9 months, and plan to nurse for at least 3 more.

For a long time, I felt like I failed with Kyle.  The only thing I ever wanted to do was nurse him, and it didn't work out.  Now, 3 years later, I'm finally at peace with my decision to give him formula.  This has been aided, in part, with my being able to nurse Lucas so successfully.  I know where I went wrong with Kyle, and I was able to correct my mistakes with Lucas and avoid repeating history.  Here are the reasons why I feel I was successful this time:

1. I already had breastfeeding experience, and I knew what to expect.  Sure, it was only a few months' worth, but it was enough.  I knew what a good latch looked like, I knew how to handle my milk coming in, I knew the best positions to hold the baby, etc.  There is no greater inhibitor for me than fear of the unknown, and the second time around, I didn't have to worry about that--score one for me right there.

2. I didn't have an epidural when I was in labor.  Now, I know this isn't the case for everyone.  I know many moms who had epidurals who have developed a successful breastfeeding relationship with their babies.  I'm not ruling out the possibility that I'll have an epidural with my later children, and I fully expect to be able to breastfeed them.  But, for this birth, it was of the utmost importance.  After Lucas was born, we were both so alert without the haze of an epidural, so there was nothing hindering our first attempt at breastfeeding.*

*interjection: after Kyle's birth (where I did have an epidural) Kyle and I were both a little foggy and lethargic, and neither one of us was really interested in trying to breastfeed.

3. Our first attempt at breastfeeding was within 30 minutes of Lucas' birth.  I really feel strongly about this point.  Being born is hard work, and, after the initial shock and adjustment to his/her new surroundings, a newborn baby will want to sleep.  It was critical for me to start breastfeeding during Lucas' alert period immediately following his birth rather than wait until we had been moved to recovery (like I did with Kyle).  Then, we both would have been tired, and breastfeeding for the first time would have taken more work.

4. I didn't let the nurses freak me out about how much Lucas was eating.  Newborn babies aren't born starving.  They don't really have high nutritional needs the first day after being born, either.  I feel like hospitals put way too much emphasis on how much a newborn is eating.  I understand why, of course, but I let it freak me out with Kyle.  I was already worried that I wasn't doing it right, and worrying that I was starving my baby compounded the problem.  Because he wasn't nursing as frequently as my postpartum nurses liked, they got me all worried that he was starving.  They convinced me to supplement with formula.  This was bad for two reasons:  first, it eliminated his hunger, thus eliminating any impulse he would have to breastfeed; second, it introduced another nipple that provided nutrition, thus creating nipple confusion.  With Lucas, I knew better.

5. I kept Lucas in my room with me during my stay at the hospital.  There are so many people (my mother-in-law included) who say, "send the baby to the nursery so you can get some rest!"  This never really made sense to me, because once you take the baby home, there's no nursery to send him/her to.  Why not get used to having your baby around from day one?  Plus, having him in the room with me helped us become attuned to one another, which is so important for breastfeeding.  I could tell immediately when he woke and wanted to nurse, and I was able to do so.  Yes, if I had sent him to the nursery they could have brought him to me when he was hungry, but why rely on other people who weren't going to be around when we got home?  Keeping him in the room with me helped to build our breastfeeding relationship by allowing me to feed him on demand.

6. I was able to stay at home with Lucas full-time after he was born.  Again, I know this is not a requirement.  There are many women who work outside the home and are able to exclusively breastfeed their babies.  For me, however, it was important that I was available to breastfeed on demand for more than just 6 weeks postpartum.

7. I didn't ever give up and give Lucas formula.  There were many times when I half-heartedly considered it, like when I was up for the fourth time in one night to nurse Lucas through a growing spurt, or when my nipples hurt so badly when he first latched on that I literally cried from the pain*.  But, I knew that I was giving him the best possible nourishment by breastfeeding (plus, we saved SO much money by not buying formula!), so I persisted.  Plus, it was so gratifying to take him to the pediatrician and find out that he had gained 11 oz in 3 DAYS, all from my milk.  Making milk really is a super-power.

*second interjection: to those people who say "if it hurts, you're doing it wrong", I say (and pardon my French) "BULLSHIT."  It takes a while for your nipples to toughen up--newborns have some SERIOUS sucking power.  However, if you have pain in your nipples or breasts after nursing through the initial pain stage, it IS a sign that something's wrong, and you should seek help.

Obviously every woman's experience with breastfeeding is different, but for any first-time mom that wanted to breastfeed her child, I would give the following advice from my experiences:

1. Start breastfeeding as soon as you can after giving birth
2. Keep your baby with you as much as possible while in the hospital
3. Don't let the nurses talk you into supplementing if breastfeeding is going well
4. Breastfeed on demand and avoid putting your baby on a schedule for the first few months of his/her life
5. Never, ever, EVER give up!  There are so many people and resources to help you succeed

Check back tomorrow for a post on how my opinions have changed and how they have stayed the same because of my experiences breastfeeding Lucas.

One of our first family pictures after Lucas' birth, in which I am, in fact, breastfeeding


Our Little Sickie

We've had a rough couple of days.

Poor guy has spent a lot of time on the couch the last couple of days.
Thursday afternoon, Kyle woke up from his nap crying.  When I went upstairs to see what was wrong, he had thrown up all over his floor.  

(side note: He gets so sad when he's sick.  He apologizes and says things like "it's all my fault", which is so heartbreaking.  We keep trying to tell him that it's NEVER his fault if he's feeling sick, but it's taking a little work to convince him.)

So, I cleaned up his room, popped him in a bath, and set him up downstairs on the couch to rest.  I didn't really think anything of it, because Lucas did the same thing the day before and hadn't been sick since.  I figured it was just something he ate and he'd bounce back like he usually does.

He spent the afternoon either throwing up or having diarrhea.  I tried to keep him hydrated but he wasn't really keeping anything down.  Cole gave him a blessing before bed, and we sandwiched him between us for the night.  He started running a fever during the night and got up a few more times to be sick.  We hoped that it was just a 24-hour bug and it would pass, but he wasn't really any better yesterday morning.  I started to worry about him getting dehydrated, since he was throwing up EVERYTHING he ate or drank.  Aunt Stephanie came over to watch Lucas, and I ran Kyle to the doctor to get him checked out.  He was such a trooper--he was gagged by a strep test, got poked to get blood drawn, and endured a urine test.  He was so exhausted and emotional after everything that he just passed out on my lap in the waiting room.  After all the tests came back, the doctor told me it was probably just a bad reaction to a virus, but he wanted to send us to Primary Children's, both to confirm his diagnosis and to start Kyle on IV fluids to get him rehydrated.  The poor guy was not excited in the LEAST to be heading to another doctor.  He kept telling me, "I just want to go home, Mommy"--it was SO sad!  

Cole met us at the hospital and we got Kyle all checked in.  I was really worried about how he'd take getting an IV.  He had been so good when the nurses drew blood earlier, and I wasn't sure if he'd be able to take getting poked again.  I hope I NEVER have to see one of my kids get an IV again--I was just as traumatized as he was!  The doctor pushed some anti-nausea medication before starting saline, and the combination finally got Kyle feeling good enough to sleep some more.  My dad and Cole gave Kyle another blessing, and he fell deeply asleep--so deep the nurse worried a little bit at how low his BP dropped.  After the IV finished running, it took all we had to get him to wake back up.  He was a little loopy, and laughed and talked a little bit at who-knows-what.  Then, we had to talk him into drinking a little bit of Gatorade to see if he could keep it down.  Since he's got a pretty tough stubborn streak, he fought us for a little while and it took some coaxing.  The nurse wanted to make sure he wasn't dizzy or weakened so we walked down the hall to the toy cupboard to pick something out.  He found some cars and instantly became more like the happy, energetic boy we are used to.  After successfully keeping down about half of the Gatorade, the doctor discharged us and, after 6 hours and two doctors, Kyle could finally go home.

Last night was still a little rough.  He hasn't thrown up since we left the hospital, but he still had pretty bad diarrhea and was still running a fever.  We had a hard time getting him to eat anything (probably because he remembers that every time he's eaten anything the last couple of days it has made him throw up).  He slept between us again last night (thank goodness for a king size bed!) and still got up several times.  This morning, he's been resting on the couch and watching his fill of Thomas and Friends movies on Netflix.  He's eaten a little bit and is slowly perking up.  We think the worst is over, and we're just praying that Lucas doesn't catch whatever this is.

Cole went a little overboard on buying juice for the sickie.
Speaking of Lucas, the poor guy is feeling a little neglected.  He's used to having the majority of my attention; yesterday, he spent most of his time with my sister or my parents.  It's a little funny to me that he can express jealousy and possessiveness at such a young age.  

In other news, Cole sprained his right thumb and tore all of its ligaments on Wednesday night.  I'm not sure exactly how he did it, but it involved power tools, scrap wood that needed busting up, and some exhibition of manliness.  He's splinted and wrapped for two weeks, and then we have to see the doctor about possibly having surgery to repair the ligaments.  

So, we're all kind of battered and bruised, and we're certainly glad it's the weekend.  A little R&R is just what we need.  


"Toopwus"* No Longer!

*One of Kyle's favorite movies of late has been How to Train Your Dragon.  Until recently, he wasn't quite able to wrap his mouth around the dragon's name (Toothless) and it came out sounding like "Toopwus" (you know, like "Toopwus" two equals four).  Hence, the name for the post.

Lucas is toothless no longer!  He's been drooling and chewing for almost 6 months, but finally one of the little buggers has popped through.  I haven't been able to get a picture of it, because--get this--it's on the top.

Weird, right?

I don't think I've ever seen a baby cut his/her first tooth on the top.  It looks like the other top front tooth will soon be following, so I'm a little afraid that Lucas will look like this:

Oh well.  He'll be the cutest little buck-toothed baby ever.

Teething is hard work, though, so this is what Lucas has been doing for most of the last couple of days:

Poor baby has been a little on the miserable side, and he's taken up a lot of my time.  Because of this, Kyle's playroom resembles a trailer park after a tornado:

Yeah, it hasn't gotten a good cleaning in a few days *cough* weeks *cough*.  :S

In other news, Kyle planted some seeds of unknown classification in his Primary class a few weeks ago, and they've sprouted wonderfully.  He's extremely proud of them.

Meanwhile, it's getting warmer and the days are getting longer, ergo, I am getting happier.  I love spring.


Vaycay Extravaganza: The Last Days

So, I just realized that I never finished blogging about our stupendous vacation that happened...almost a year ago.

Turns out having a baby kind of makes you forget things.

So, even though you probably don't even remember what happened the other days and you probably don't even CARE anymore, I'm finishing up the trip recap--for posterity's sake.

Also, here are links to the rest of the posts, in case you want to read them for a refresher.

Vaycay Extravaganza: A Day of Travel
Vaycay Extravaganza: A Day of Rest
Vaycay Extravaganza: A Day of Chill
Vaycay Extravaganza: A Day of Tourist-ness
Vaycay Extravaganza: A Day of Nature

Thursday morning we woke up still a little worn out from all of the walking we did the day before at Brookgreen Gardens, so we decided to have a take-it-easy kind of day.  My dad suggested going to see Iron Man 2, since we had just finished watching the first Iron Man the night before.  We all thought this was a grand idea (especially since it was a rare thing for my dad to suggest us all going to a movie!).  We packed up and headed over to Broadway at the Beach, the "largest festival entertainment complex in SC!"  We got there and I soon realized we picked the wrong activity for the day:

MagiQuest: a LARPer's fondest dream
Sadly, we had all forgotten our magic wands, so we had to stick to the original plan.  Iron Man 2 was an excellent pick, and Kyle sat really well through the entire movie.  He then became obsessed with all things Iron Man.

After the movie, we headed back to the hotel to get in some more beach time.  It would be the last opportunity we'd have, because the next day we'd basically only have time to pack our bags, check out, and get to the airport for our flight.  We thoroughly enjoyed playing in the sand and burying one another...


Cole and I also ventured out into the ocean to play in the waves.  At first, I was a little afraid of getting hurt or overturned or swept away.  Plus, getting mouthful after mouthful of salt water isn't really what I call fun.  Cole finally convinced me, and I really enjoyed myself!  How else can you feel totally weightless when you're hugely pregnant?  We jumped through the big waves and laughed and enjoyed our last day at the beach.

After we'd had enough sand and sun, we headed back to the room to get ready for dinner.  It was Stephanie's birthday, and, as is our family tradition, we were going out for dinner.  She chose Planet Hollywood, since none of us had ever been there and it isn't something we had at home.  We headed back over to Broadway at the Beach, and I was tempted a second time to indulge my inner LARPer at MagiQuest, but I refrained.  :)  Since it was a Thursday night, Planet Hollywood was anything but busy and we were able to get a table right away.  The food was good, the environment was fun, and we had a really good time.  We especially enjoyed watching movie previews and music videos while we ate.  For a family that lives to quote movies, Planet Hollywood was the perfect place to have dinner.

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel.  My dad gave me the keys to the rental car and my mom watched Kyle so Cole and I could have a little quiet time together.  We drove around for about 20 minutes, trying to figure out something fun to do.  Since we're wild and crazy, we ended up at the Kroger grocery store, where we laughed at the kitschy souvenirs you could buy, shook our heads at the oddity that is the liquor section (a foreign concept to us Utahns!), and bought two slices of cake to have for our dessert.  We took our cake back to the hotel and enjoyed it on our bed.  I packed as much of our crap as I could to try and save us some time the next morning, and then we went to bed.

We woke up bright and early Friday morning, had breakfast, then crazy packing ensued.  We had just enough time to stop at one of the ubiquitous souvenir shops (this one was called Eagles Beachwear) to purchase any last-minute items.  We headed to the airport, turned in the rental cars, and said our last good-byes to Myrtle Beach and our fun-filled week.

Our flights home were mostly uneventful.  We flew from Myrtle Beach to Detroit, Detroit to Denver, and Denver to good ol' SLC.  It was awesome to see the mountains again.  We were total dorks and kept pointing out silly landmarks... "Look!  There's the Y on the mountain!  Look!  There's I-15!  Wow, I can see our house from here!"  No swelling of the ankles occurred, for which we were all grateful--me because my ankles weren't swollen, and my family because they didn't have to listen to me whine about how my ankles were swollen.  The most eventful thing that happened was Kyle's poopy diaper of epic proportions.  About 20 minutes before we were supposed to land, Kyle, well, he pooped his pants.  Big time.  It pretty much stunk up the whole plane.  Rather than subject our fellow passengers to his rotten stench, I hauled Kyle back to the minuscule bathroom and changed him, which, really, was pretty much a miracle if you think about it.  It's nearly impossible to use a tiny airplane bathroom, let alone change a 2 1/2 year old (and yes, I was severely kicking myself for not potty-training him before this).  Anyway, we landed, got our luggage, and crowded into my dad's rental car (yes, all 9 of us.  Yes, it's a 7-seater van.) for the ride home.  

And thus ended the Kenner Family Vaycay Extravaganza of 2010.

Wordless Wednesday: Green Eyes


They Say it's Your Birthday!

This handsome guy turns 27 today...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the handsomest, sweetest, funniest, coolest, hottest, silliest, bravest, strongest, loudest, wisest, greatest, sexiest, happiest, goofiest, cleverest, funnest, awesomest, supportivest, kissablest, manliest, thoughtfulest, tickliest, hardworkingest, consideratest, importantest, powerfulest, BESTEST husband I could ever ask for!  
(one superlative adjective for each year of his life)

This post is dedicated to my English major sister, who, I'm sure, will doubly cringe as she reads it--once for the terrible grammar and again because it's about Cole ;)


Little Muncher

Lucas has LOVED eating solid foods.  However, recently, he decided that he didn't want to eat anything he couldn't feed himself.  If we tried to spoon-feed him ANYTHING, he would throw a monster tantrum (which is pretty uncharacteristic for him--he's typically very easy-going) and try to grab the spoon for himself.  After trying and failing to get him to eat baby food, we decided to just go with it and we started giving him bite size bits of whatever we were eating.  Now, he thinks he's the shiz.  He's hoovered everything we've put in front of him, but his favorites are bananas, corn chex, and string cheese.  Today, I decided to try something new: a peanut butter sandwich.

 completely enjoying his PBJ 

Letting Lucas feed himself has been awesome.  It means that I get to eat when everyone else does instead of try to feed both myself and Lucas.  It's given him the opportunity to try lots of different foods with different textures.  There's only one downside:

what Lucas' lap looks like after a meal

It makes him SUPER messy!  He's still not super great at picking things up with his thumb and forefinger, so he ends up dropping little bits into his lap quite often.  Usually I strip him down to his diaper when he eats, but it was a little chilly today.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised; Kyle started eating finger foods at about this age, too.  I guess it's just weird because Lucas still doesn't have any teeth, and Kyle had at least 3 by this age!  I don't really mind, because he's still nursing a lot, and I'm glad I don't have to worry about being bitten.  :)


Cute Boys

Sunday morning in their matching suits

Go on--I DARE you to find a cuter set of little boys!  :)


Family Get Togethers

So, I have been trying to post some new pictures of the family, but it is proving difficult. So I decided to post about something I have been thinking about for a long time--here it goes.

How do you do family get-togethers and/or family birthdays? Let me start off by explaining the dynamics of how family get-togethers work in our family. There are at least four set family get-togethers; they are as follows:

- The Christensen Family: My dad calls it the Christensen Family Evening Together which he has in a Google Calendar along with all birthdays and anniversary for all of us to see and remember. This is held every month and has been established to be every third Sunday of the month. It rotates through the family as to where it is hosted--it started with my parents and goes through all five brothers. This makes it so it is at your house only twice a year since there are six houses. For these get-togethers we do it as a family home evening style. The young kids in the family try and sing a song while we watch and admire how adorable they are and wonder what the heck Kyle and Riker are doing in the other room. We have a brief lesson usually with an activity and some kind of item to eat after. We do also take this time to acknowledge the birthdays for the month but do not expect any gifts of any kind from anyone, but appreciate them if they are given.

This type of gathering works for my family. We have tried to do the random get-togethers, but communication is an issue, so someone always got forgotten or my mother would tell one son that we are having dinner and another that it was just appetizers (blueberries Mom, blueberries)! For the Christensen family we are 21 strong with one on the way and we all live in Utah (for now), so it usually is not a trip or a task to get to someone's house to celebrate (except for Adam and Joan in Provo but it would be pretty funny to see all 22 of us jammed into their apartment). Anyway, it works for this family and hopefully can continue to work.

- The Kenner Family: Jessica's parents have two types of get-togethers in a given month. The first is a standing get together the first Sunday of every month, and is strictly a get-together where we really just hang out. It usually always stays the first Sunday except for Conference months when we have an excuse to all get together and fall asleep during Conference and Super Bowl Sunday when we throw a killer appetizer party at our house. Those are usually the only three Sundays in which we adjust the time. Now, we are 11 strong with one one the way and we can only rotate through 3 houses, as 2 siblings are on missions and one, well lets just say she's trying to convince her parents to create a wing of their house for her to grow old in. :) Once again, this process works for our family at this time and we hope it continues once the other siblings get married.

The other type of get together is for birthdays. Once a month we choose a day and usually go out to eat for the people who have birthdays that month. For example, this month is my birthday and I get to choose where all of us go out to eat next weekend. I could choose Rodizio Grill and watch my sister-in-law complain the whole time, or go to Chuck-E-Cheese and scare my son (he doesn't like the animatronic band show). Choosing where to go is always fun, and my in-laws always budget the money for this and never complain what we choose. This is a great treat given to us by them and I thank them for that. If you have a little extra money why not go out and treat the family to a wonderful dinner? I still have not decided where we will be going next week--any suggestions?

- The Fernelius Family: This is Jessica's Mothers side of the family, they have a birthday celebration once every month usually on a Saturday or Sunday. We are 48 strong with one on the way, with 40 living in-state. Now, this gets pretty difficult to get everyone to the birthdays and rarely happens. But it is always fun to be around extended family like that. It is very impressive that Grandma and Grandpa Fernelius with their 7 children and 7 spouses, 27 grandchildren with three spouses, 2 great grandchildren and one on the way can still all try and get together on a monthly basis and celebrate birthdays.

In conclusion, I find it sometimes hard to balance anything in life, especially family. At what point does it get too difficult to get together? At what point do you make it smaller and not get together as an entire extended family? What are some different ways to do it? I do not want to sound like I do not like the ways it is done in my family, but I wonder 10 years from now when all three of these scenarios grow by 10-15 people. We have two set weekends with families and two more that are on any weekend in in a month. This in turn leaves us with no weekends for the three most important family members to me. Obviously, dynamics are different in Utah as most families stay in the same state, and my hat is off to the families that can successfully do family get-togethers frequently with so many family members.


Looking for a New Read?

My newly "BYU-gradutated" and oh-so-witty sister has started a blog. I think she's hilarious. You might too.

Check her out!

Oh, and in case you don't know which movie to which her site pays homage, take a look here. It's a good one.


Exercise Was a Four-Letter Word...

I HATE exercise.

I always have. I was one of those fortunate girls in high school and college that could maintain her trim 125 lb. figure with little to no effort. I can honestly count on one hand the times that I consciously exercised during that time of my life. Oh yeah, and I could eat anything that I wanted, too. Granted, I was really active. I walked a lot. My friends and I played physical games, like touch football and ultimate frisbee, at least once a week (and more during the summer). I felt good about myself and the way I looked, so I never felt the need to add a formal exercise period to my daily activities.

This isn't about me longing for the past, because, let's face it, my body will never be the same again, thanks to having kids. This is about me embracing the changes that have occurred and learning how to work with them.

That being said, I still hated exercise after getting married and having kids. I couldn't even understand when my friends said, "I love to exercise! I couldn't live without it!" I thought to myself, "She is obviously deluding herself. There's no WAY she actually likes getting tired and sweaty and out of breath and red-faced..." There were plenty of times when I had that niggling voice in the back of my head that told me, "You know, you really should think about trying to move a little more. I know you hate how your flub jiggles, and there's only one way to fix it: exercise." I tried really hard to ignore it and managed to give myself self-esteem complexes the size of Jupiter:


Ridiculous? Quite. I tend to be highly irrational when I'm emotional.

Then, after having Lucas, I turned a corner. I stopped hating myself, which was a big step. I realized that yeah, I may not look ideal, but I was proud of my body for the things it had done. I loved it for being able to stretch and grow to accommodate my babies for 40 weeks, then work and LABOR to birth them. I marveled at how it adapted (essentially) back to "normal" after the radical changes it had undergone. A little bit of positive self-esteem went a long way: I acknowledged that niggling voice in my head and said, "OK, you're right. I need to exercise." Plus, Cole told me I had to get to a healthier weight before I could get pregnant again (which, unbelievably, is something I've wanted pretty much since right after I had Lucas...but that's another story), so that's a great motivator for me.

But what was I going to do? I don't like running. It gives me shin splints (which getting new shoes would fix, I guess), and it makes my lungs hurt and it makes me wheeze. Plus, I just don't think it's fun. We have Wii Fit, which is fun, but doesn't always leave me feeling like I accomplished anything. I didn't want to join a gym, because 1: I'm ridiculously cheap; 2: The idea of other people seeing me gross and sweaty, even if I don't know them from Adam, makes me cringe; 3: I'm not sure I could find the time or motivation to actually go. These same reasons applied to why I didn't sign up for a class a few times a week.

So, I needed to find something that I could do at home, wasn't too expensive, and wasn't running.

Solution #1

I LOVE this show. There were so many times that I wished they'd do a "Biggest Loser" for people who had to lose 50 pounds or less--I'd SO be there! This turned out to be essentially that. It has the same kind of workouts they use on the show (minus the killer treadmill workouts--remember my aversion to running), but I don't have to worry about anyone watching me. I've only done it a couple of times, but I can tell that it's something I'll keep doing. I actually woke up this morning with a craving to exercise.

Solution #2
My mom's ward had a R.S. activity in January about eating healthier and exercising, and one of the ladies had a friend who teaches Zumba come and do a class for us. It was AWESOME! I already love to dance, so it's a perfect exercise option for me. I'm even considering actually signing up for a real CLASS (I'm kind of a chicken, so I'd want someone else to sign up with me and I haven't found anyone yet). For now, though, this game is almost as good as the real thing.

So, I guess I figured out the secret to exercise: find something you enjoy, and keep with it! It's worked with me so far!
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