Thursday, March 31, 2016

exclusive pumping (there's more than one way to give your baby breast milk)

Let me give you a little insight into Meredith's and my adventure in breast feeding. For several reasons all including a lot of TMI, we both were so frustrated we cried nearly every time we tried it.

Turned out, my insurance through work was awesome about breast pump coverage. They covered either: 1) any manual pump at 100%; or 2) any electric pump up to $300. You could get a more expensive one, you just had to pay the difference. First step was to call the insurance company and let them know that you are pregnant and want a breast pump for your offspring. They give you a list of durable medical equipment providers they work with. You have to call and find out who has breast pumps and from there, it is honestly really easy. The representative at the DME company gathers your insurance information to determine what you're eligible for and asks you to have your doctor's office fax a prescription for the pump to them. I just sent an email to my doctor with the rep's name and phone/fax numbers. They took care of that bit. The rep called me back once everything was squared away and we talked about which pump I wanted. Which, by the way, I chose the Medela Pump In Style Advanced. It is a double electric pump that I highly recommend. My insurance required that I wait until my third trimester to have the pump shipped, so that was no big deal. Now after talking to several friends with different insurance coverage, I know that my work has excellent coverage for this which I am extremely grateful for. They sent me the pump exactly when they said they would and that was that.

Now. I tried to breast feed my baby before my milk came in and had such a hard time that I ended up supplementing her with formula for about a week and a half. I think I did have colostrum in there, but for the TMI reasons, she couldn't get it out. I was not interested in starving my kid, so I supplemented until my milk came in and my supply caught up to her. My advice if anyone has this issue is to take it easy on how much formula you give. Remember how truly tiny their stomachs are that first couple weeks and try to 1) nurse on both sides before you supplement (to remind your body to make milk); and 2) give only a small amount of formula. Like a half ounce to an ounce at a time if that. Tiny stomachs, remember? Size of a cherry. Here's the thing. They will drink more if you give it to them. They don't need it. Small amount every 1.5 hours or so at first. Your body only makes about one teaspoon of colostrum per breast at a time anyway. Coincidentally, this is the size of your newborn's stomach. So, my doc told me that if you get started over filling their little bellies, they will get used to that over-full feeling and what you give them from the breast won't feel satisfying to them. So that's my early breast feeding deal. It was frustrating.

When my milk came in, I was very happy to pull out that breast pump. The key to exclusive pumping long term (so I hear, I've only been at it for 7.5 weeks) is to pump as often as your baby eats. So I started out every two hours. Yes it's a lot. But you're on maternity leave and your brand new baby sleeps a lot. I held her in my lap while I pumped. Sometimes I bottle fed her while I pumped. It can be done. I would pump 8-10 times a day until your supply is established. Right now I'm pumping 5-6 times a day because I'm producing more than she eats and I'm trying to not have too obscene of a freezer stash. Currently got 480 ounces in the freezer. Too much. I pump about 35 ounces daily. I will add a pump or two a day to produce more when she catches up or if my supply drops too much! I do wake up once during the night to pump mostly for comfort.

Supplies I like:

  1. My Medela pump. I will probably get this one again for my next baby.
  2. Lansinoh brand milk storage bags. They are only a touch more expensive than the store brand bags and they are more durable and will lie flat for freezing and efficient storage.
  3. Medela storage bottles. I don't feed her from them, even though they come with nipples, because she swallows so much air with them. It gave her awful, painful gas. We use Dr. Brown's bottles which are vented (and quite cost friendly of all the vented bottles!), and it is worth noting that the standard neck bottles fit the breast pump, so you could pump directly into them if you wanted.
  4. Antibacterial wipes (Johnson & Johnson or Wet Ones) to wipe down parts in between pump sessions. I only wash parts once a day. Ain't nobody got time for that. 
  5. Medela disposable nursing pads. Because I leak. It's gross. I'm in the market for reusable/washable ones. I'll do a review on those if I ever buy any. 
  6. Make-your-own pump bra. Ok, so I need a quick way to strip down and pump for work. You must get a hands-free pump bra of some kind if you're double pumping. Which I recommend highly. I used an old bra that still fit and cut slits about where my nipples are. So I can put the breast shield in there and the bra holds them in place. I wear a nursing bra over it, so when it's time to pump, I pull up my shirt, un clip the nursing bra and put in the shields. No changing clothes. I do not recommend the Medela easy expressions pumping bra. I have big tits (it's a strapless number) and it did not hold them in place. You also have to strip down to put it on. Unable to layer if you have giant boobs like mine. Just make your own. Really.
Other tips: have a water bottle and a snack if you want it where your pumping. You will be so thirsty. And probably very hungry. Lube the inside of the breast shield. That plastic rubs so bad. I got a little blister once. Use coconut or olive oil (food grade and safe if it gets in the breast milk) and rub a little bit on the inside of the shield where it bends to suck your nipples into that little tube. You're welcome. 

Not getting a lot out on the pump? Check your breast shield size. Your entire nipple and part of your areola should be sucked up into the shield when the pump is on. Not too much. If it hurts, your shield is probably too small. If it's not getting good suction, the shield is probably to big. Try a couple sizes on and see what you think. Next, check your pump. Good pump? Don't buy a cheap-o one and expect to EP. Impossible. You need a high quality double electric. Mine retails for $270. Worth every penny. Also, most non-hospital grade pumps are only made to last for one baby (or multiples of course, because the double electric pumps mimic feeding twins anyway). You really need a new one for each pregnancy. To increase your milk supply, you can do the herbal stuff (I never did), or you can eat certain foods thought to increase supply (I eat organic oat granola and yogurt every day), or there are pumping techniques to increase supply. I recommend "power pumping" which there are tons of Pinterest articles on, so I won't detail it here. It works though.

There are a lot of reasons to exclusively pump. You know most of mine from the first part of this post. Also, if you are going back to work, you give your baby breast milk without worrying about nipple confusion or whether they'll take a bottle at all. You don't have to buy the "just like the breast" expensive bottles. Maybe you had a preemie who couldn't breast feed, but really needed that breast milk to be his or her healthiest. Etcetera. Maybe you just wanted to do it this way. Anyway, it's working for me and mine so far, so we'll continue as long as possible! Up to 1-2 years. I'm not crazy.

Here's a milk drunk picture of my baby:
This was about a month ago.
She was just a couple weeks old here!

Monday, March 28, 2016

grocery shopping for introverts

Here in Northwest Arkansas, home of Walmart, they like to make us the guinea pigs for their new processes, services, store layouts, etcetera. They completely remodeled the Walmart Supercenter I go to to include a lot of neat ways to shop (Scan and Go, self check-out for big orders, new store layout) which includes the wonderful thing that is Grocery Pick-up.

Here is how it works. You go to

Right there in the top right corner of the page there is a link "FREE Walmart Grocery Pickup." Oh yeah. It's free. So you click on that and it has you put in your zip code to see if any of your local stores participate in this. If you have one, you get to get started! Basically you search for all the grocery items you usually buy and add them to your cart. When you're done, check out and it will have you select a pick up time. These times are typically one hour time slots on the following day.

At your self-designated time, you show up to your pick up location, sign in to the drive through kiosk (my location also allows you to pick up home and pharmacy orders) and pull in the the parking space it gives you. A Walmart associate brings out all your groceries, has you sign for your receipt, and loads your vehicle for you. Yes, this is all for free! Well, you pay for your groceries. Duh. Then you drive away happy because you didn't have to deal with any crazy people inside the store or a long line for the check out. Or anything. Because the whole pickup process takes like 10 minutes.

I also find that I save money by not being tempted to pick up all my impulse buys when I go into the store.

Let's just say. With a newborn to drag along with me to get groceries. I'm in love.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

coming soon...

You may have noticed our little six week hiatus from posting... I guess I gave myself a maternity leave from the blog! Baby Girl Collett was born on her due date, 10 February 2016! She is gorgeous and perfect and everything to us! As I type, she is sleeping with the assistance of her white noise app, swaddle me, and rock 'n play.

In the next couple weeks, I hope to get around to posting on the following topics (hopefully can get these in before I go back to my day job):
Birth story
Exclusive pumping
Baby gear/essentials for the first few weeks
Walmart grocery pick-up

I hope to get back in a routine with the blog soon, so I can share stories of my precious girl and the rest of our family!

Little M says "Time to sleep! Good night, all!"

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

38 weeks -- waiting, waiting, waiting

This was overall an uneventful week in pregnancy. They tell me I'm "full term" now, so I'm just waiting. I have tried a couple things to stir things up, but obviously since I'm writing this, no dice. The bottom line is, the baby won't come until she's ready, I'm pretty sure, no matter what!

The first thing I have been doing is walking. I work at the hospital as a nurse, so that's not too hard. I'm working my full schedule. A hard day at work will give me some contractions and low pelvic pain. But nothing regular, and my cervix hasn't changed from last week (1.5 cm dilated, minimal effacement).

Another thing I tried, that I thought might have done it was using my breast pump. I got nothing out, of course, but I used it to get some nipple stimulation going. I did 15 minutes on each side. Nipple stimulation makes the brain release oxytocin (the very same thing they give you through the IV when you get medically induced, your body actually makes!) and can cause contractions. I had fairly consistent contractions for about 4 or 5 hours, but they tapered off as the evening wore on, and stopped by the time I went to bed.

So here I am. Still pregnant. Still waiting on my baby girl.


A few pictures from this week:

Put myself on the monitor at work on Tuesday... Looking rough. Vitals got better by my doctor appointment, though.

Corey's new stethoscope for paramedic school!

He will hate me for posting this... At our church baby shower. Playing with the gift wrap.

Me at 37.5 weeks!


Let me know in the comments how y'all have tried (and maybe succeeded?!) in inducing labor at home!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

36/37 weeks -- packing the hospital bag

I have been reading all kinds of articles on Pinterest on what to pack in my labor hospital bag. What not to pack. What is essential. What you may want, but maybe not, it's up to you, but basically you could move in to your room. It wears me out. So I have procrastinated packing this. I packed M's hospital/diaper bag a couple weeks ago, so she's ready to go. I imagine Corey will figure his out pretty quick. I am putting mine off as long as possible. I told my mom that I hadn't packed a bag yet, and she was horrified. I guess I didn't realize I really needed to have already done this?! Now it is my goal for the week. Pack a bag. Keep it in the car. I guess.

What should go in this bag? I have no idea. I have never had a baby before. My sister recommended bringing my own towel. I will probably do that. I work at the hospital and know how pitiful their bath towels are. But for the rest of it... I'm thinking clothes, phone charger, extra hair ties, deodorant, toothbrush.


Ok. It was a busy week. I wrote that first bit last week when I started packing my bag, and I have finally finished. It doesn't have much more than what I thought I would put in it anyway!

For me:
Socks and underwear (they give you pads at the hospital)
Pajamas-a few sets in case I get any blood or body fluids on them
Clothes to go home in. Yes, maternity clothes.
Towel (not sure how needed this is, but my sister recommended it highly from her hospital stay)
Pillow (hospital pillows are not that comfortable. I like my big king size pillows from home)
Sports bra
Dry shampoo
Axe body spray (for women... actually smells good!)
Hair ties/head bands
Baby wipes (to shower, I will use the hospital's soap. I work there. I like it. It smells good.)
Phone charger
Breast pump (to pump while I'm there and to get the lactation consultant to make sure I'm doing it right!)

For Meredith (diaper bag):
Changing pad that comes with the bag
Nursing cover
Burp cloths
Receiving blankets to go home with (2)
Bottles (I am going to be trying exclusive pumping which I will write a post about after I've done it for a while)
Baby book
Clothes to go home in (I brought newborn and 0-3 month size since we don't know how big she'll be)
Stroller blanket
Car seat

For Corey:
He will be packing his own things, but I'm asking him to bring the good camera, his own computer, phone charger, etc. I want him to vlog the labor and delivery, so he'll need the charging stuff for sure. I'm sure he'll bring the normal toiletry items and his own pillow and blanket.


Another update for this week, since I waited so long to post this... I went to the doc again this week and she checked my cervix... I am dilated 1.5 cm! Definitely could still go to my due date and beyond, but it is encouraging to know my body might know what it's doing, haha. I have been doing squats, walking, and birth ball stuff to see if I can't make some progress this weekend for when I see her again next week.

I'll go ahead and end the post here, but tell me in the comments your most valuable items in your hospital bag!

Friday, January 8, 2016

graze box *product review*

Corey decided to try these Graze boxes that you see advertised on television. They have a promotion to let you try the box before you buy them. Basically you register on their website, tell them what you like, and they make up a box and send it to you. There is a subscription service, so they will just keep sending them every week. They are supposed to give people a healthy alternative to in-between meal snacking. The boxes are $11.99 a piece for the 8 snack variety box. You can start and stop your subscription service any time.

Corey did a review video of the first box he opened that I will link here when he uploads it.

I'm going to review the other box we got here on the blog!

This is what they look like when you open the boxes up. They are designed to fit in a standard mail box, so you receive them through the regular post office like all the rest of your mail. No signing for them or having to be home, or having food sit on the ground on your doorstep all day. They really are quite convenient!

Now on to the tasting:

This mix reminds me of a good trail mix. The carrots have a pretty good tartness to them and taste better than you think a "carrot chew" would. I love the raisins, but I am a pretty big fan of raisins in general. I don't care too much for the ginger fudge personally, but it has a good texture and if you like the taste of ginger, you will probably like it. The walnuts are walnuts and they taste fresh and pretty yummy!

Ok, this one is delicious. It's what chex mix type snacks wish they could be. The pretzels are pretty good, but nothing crazy. Those sour cream and onion cashews, though. Oh my. I could eat a lot of those by themselves. The mustard breadsticks are very good, too. This mix is great.

Based on the two boxes we got, they must all have one snack that is all dried fruit. This one is much better than the other box in my opinion. I love the strawberries. They are the perfect mix of tart and sweet. The softness of the apples threw me a little, but I really like those, too. The black currants are a good add to this. They don't have a terribly strong flavor, and they compliment the other fruits well.

I'm glad I saved this for last. It is easily my favorite! I'm not sure why they are calling it a flap jack. It reminds me nothing of pancakes. It looks like a granola bar, but really, it's much more moist than even a chewy granola bar. To me, this tastes like a pumpkin spice oatmeal cookie. It was so delicious, I will probably get myself a glass of milk and eat the rest of this right now. So. Good. 

This was a pretty neat little box, and the snacks are much better than what most people usually carry with them to work or keep around the house for snacks! You can rest assured with these also that the food is high quality and that you can spell and pronounce everything that is in them! The boxes come with cards listing the nutritional facts and coupons for more boxes and coupons to share with friends and family. 

All in all, I would recommend these to others and buy them again! 

What other programs like this are available, if any, that you guys have tried? Anyone tried this and liked/not liked it? Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

the final countdown!

This week, I am 35 weeks pregnant with baby M, and I am feeling like I'm in the home stretch for sure. I'm definitely feeling more and more like two people, and feeling drawbacks of short girl pregnancy--BABY LODGING FEET AND BUTT INTO RIBS. After New Year's, it was strange to sit down and think, "I'm having a baby next month... or maybe THIS month!" Since this is my first baby, I really feel like I'm going in blind. Sort of.

Background: I have a little sister that is 16 years younger than me. My other sister and I helped my mom out A LOT with her, so I do know the ins and outs of diaper changing, feeding, help with sleep training, and general baby care. I even have been solely responsible for her by watching her when Mom was out, driving her around with me, etc. I think what is surreal to me is that this baby is MY OWN, and I'm not just following directions from my momma on taking care of her.

And the whole part where she is one way or another coming out of MY body. Whether that's the old-fashioned way, via cesarean section, or Alien style which is what it feels like when she gets to moving a lot in there these days. On this topic, I have recently changed my mind a little on my approach to labor and birth for this one. I have been a long-time believer in getting an epidural. I work in anesthesia, so why would I not use one of the best regional pain control methods out there if I had it available to me? I'm not afraid of pain or discomfort, but I have had the thoughts of "If I have this benefit available to make myself more comfortable, why not?" So I'm sure my nut job hormones have had a hand in this, but the more I read about birth, the more I have changed my mind regarding this and would like to opt to try labor without an epidural. I do have reasons that are not as crunchy as one might think.

  1. For me, being able to move around, change positions, WALK around, and generally not be stuck sitting in bed for hours is a huge benefit to skipping the epidural for me. This was probably my number one reason for starting to think about whether or not I really wanted to go for the pain meds right off the bat. As a nurse, I know that risks of skin breakdown and blood clots in the legs only go up, up, up if you are stuck in bed not able to move around for several hours. I also am prone to boredom and didn't want to be stuck sitting in one spot.
  2. Another benefit I've read about with "natural" birth is that you can get your baby in the optimal position for delivery by changing your own position. Her back is her heaviest part and she will rest face up if you're laying on your back, which is not her best position to be born in. When your baby is face up coming out, it is harder on her and you to get her out. They want a baby to be in the "occiput anterior" position for birth which means the back of her head is facing the front of your body. They way her spine/head and your pelvis are configured, that is the easiest way for her to pass through the birth canal. This can make labor easier and prevent major, if any, tearing. If a baby is lying in the wrong position, you can usually make them flip over if you are able to change positions yourself. 
  3. I want to be able to get up and around AFTER birth. Without having to wait for medicine to wear off. For all the reasons listed on number 1.
  4. There is a lot of research done on how the medicines used in epidural and labor pain control crosses the placenta and what kinds of effects it has on the baby. Many say it can make the baby lethargic after birth and cause issues with feeding, latching on, and mom-baby bonding. 
All of that said, though, I do want to get her out of me the safest way possible for both of us, no matter what that is. At the hospital, I have seen situations change in the blink of an eye, and I believe it's important to remain flexible in your approach to your care to do the best thing for yourself. 

Anyway, at 35 weeks, I am starting to really feel ready to get this baby out of me. I rely on heartburn medication to live. Next week, I start getting to see the doctor every week (yay?) until I deliver. 

35 weeks! Feeling huge!!!


Anyone have big thoughts on birth, pregnancy, or anything of the like? Let us know in the comments what you think!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

new year, new blog

2016 should be a pretty big year for us, so I'm going to be documenting it all here! Hopefully, I'll get my husband posting on here, too when he feels like it, so you get a couple different perspectives from us :).

I'm hoping to get a few different features integrated here like Pinterest and YouTube. I want to be able to do some recipes and product reviews (having a new baby here pretty soon, so I'll be trying a few things for the very first time!). I'll have topics including cooking, dog stuff, baby stuff, nursing/paramedic stuff, and general posts about every day life.


So today, I'll just talk about what we have been up to this weekend. Today has been a lazy Sunday for sure. Corey and I spent a while watching YouTube videos. We like watching people eat, apparently, because we watched a few where people eat gross stuff, and then several of a sushi chef that posts a lot of his creations. Corey is an amateur home sushi chef, so we watch those, get inspired, and then hit the grocery store. I love when he gets the itch to cook, because it always turns out so delicious. Sushi is my favorite, too. I am limited to cooked sushi (for only a few more weeks!) due to being 34 weeks pregnant and raw meat being a no-no in my condition. I'll talk about our weekend cooking adventure in a sec. Right now we're working on getting ready for Corey's next semester of school. He is studying to be a paramedic and classes start back up here in a couple weeks. He is already a first responder, and I am a registered nurse, so we find his classes interesting and fun to go through!

Now to Friday/Saturday's cooking adventures. We spent a good part of New Year's Day watching cooking videos, so that evening we perused one of the local Asian markets for ingredients you just won't come across at Walmart. It got late, so we had a car full of pho and sushi ingredients, and drove through Wendy's for dinner. I would like to come out in favor of the 4 for $4 combo, by the way. I wish I had taken some pictures of us cooking this stuff, because my husband really enjoys it, and of course we destroy our *small* kitchen every time. We made Vietnamese pho for lunch Saturday (usually takes many hours to make the broth, but we cheated and used store bought beef broth). Pho has a specific mix of spices that give it that distinct flavor, and you can add pretty much any meat. A lot of authentic pho eaters add some meats a little too "exotic" for me, so we did thinly sliced sirloin, and pork meatballs. It turned out pretty good in my opinion, although Corey deemed it a little too American.

My favorite is when we got to dinner and the sushi. I love sushi, and could eat it a lot more frequently, given the opportunity, but my favorite sushi is loaded with tuna, which is against pregnancy diet rules. So last night, we were good and made tempura shrimp rolls, which were almost as good. We fried up our shrimp, added sliced avocado and cream cheese, made spicy mayo and eel sauce (which will require a tutorial video on here at some point, because it is more involved than you would think!), and rolled it all up in our seaweed papers! I have to tell you, a rice cooker is one of the best things you can buy for kitchen small appliances. They have so many uses, and no matter what kind of rice you're making, it will come out perfect every single time. Again, no pictures, because I inhaled my delicious roll of sushi before I even thought about snapping a picture of it.

We have had a nice, relaxing New Year's weekend, and I hope all of you have as well! If anyone has ideas of what you would like to see in future posts, let us know in the comments! We are game for adventures in cooking and home projects, especially, so give us some blog and video ideas! Thanks everyone and we wish you a wonderful 2016!