2 years ago

A little over 2 years ago, I was offered the opportunity to visit our friends Faith and Roger. In Africa. For 3 weeks. Oliver and I were already over 2 years into trying for a baby. I didn’t want to commit and then back out, but I also didn’t want to pass up this opportunity. Oliver and I decided to leave it at God’s feet. A baby meant “no”, no baby meant “go”. We would cut off trying one month before the trip, just to be safe (with immunizations, malaria meds, etc). The one month mark came, and there was no baby. So, I went. And God also brought along my best friend (much to her surprise as well!).

What God did in me, while there, was AMAZING. My journal has many tear stained pages, as I asked for a baby again and again. The pictures show the pure joy I felt while working and living there. The biggest moment was when He used someone I didn’t even know to tell me the BIG news. He was promising a baby…. a baby boy. I was able to stand on that promise – and just 8 months later God said “yes”. And Liam’s life began!

The trip not only promised me Liam – but brought me closer than ever with my friend Kelly. We lived, worked, ate and played together for three weeks – and still liked each other afterwards!

Here is our blog from that trip….

I strongly suggest this post and this post to get a good picture of our time there…

❤ Tara

Milking It: Cookies!

Milking It: Cookies | oliverandtara.com
image source

Yes, you read that right! You can actually JUSTIFY cookies! Well, like an nursing mother CAN’T justify them. But seriously, these can help with milk production – and my friends say they are quite yummy to boot! (Remember: me = overproduction … me + a dozen of these would probably = engorgement)

Why cookies? Well, just any cookie isn’t going to work. Sorry ladies, that box of Thin Mints in the freezer cannot be applied to this excuse. The kind of cookies I am talking about are “Lactation Cookies”. Creative title, no? But there is actually a science behind them.

As you look through the collection of cookies below, you’ll see a common set of ingredients between them. Brewers yeast, wheat germ, whole oats, and flax seed are just a few. These ingredients are believed to help increase your milk supply! Reading through the blogs and websites of each pin, a lot of the moms believe it helped them. And guess what, you can even mix some fenugreek in for good measure!

There are plenty of variations, even muffins! Browse through the board and see what looks yummy. Butterscotch? Pumpkin Seed? Chocolate chip? What are you waiting for?! Get baking!

❤ Tara

Milking It: Fenugreek

Milking It: Fenugreek | oliverandtara.com

If you have done any googling, you have no doubt come across “fenugreek” as a way of upping your milk supply. But why? And how? And what are your options? Read on fellow milkies, read on!

Fenugreek is a plant grown in Europe and the Middle East. It mainly comes from India, but is also harvested from Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, France and many more locations. The Fenugreek leaves are used as herbs, its seeds are for spices the the leaves and sprouts as vegetables. The most well known use of fenugreek is in some Indian curries.

I can hear you now – Ok, ok Tara… but what about my MILK?!

Well, fenugreek is believed to be a galactagogue. (It’s ok to say “galacti-go-go wha?!” I did too!) It is really just a fancy way to say “I get the milk flowing!”

You have a lot of options when bringing fenugreek into your diet. Below are just a few..

Fenugreek, klabatImage Source

Raw

You could go totally hard core and get straight up fenugreek. Then add it into your food or steep it in some hot water. I’ve heard the flavor can be QUITE overwhelming… so you may want to proceed with caution with this idea!

Note: Some of my mommy friends reminded me that there are fenugreek capsules you can take! If you want it pure – give those a whirl!

 

Tea

This is the route I took when I was expecting. I grabbed a box at my local Whole Foods and threw it into my bag. The Lactation Consultants at the hospital brought me tea bags as well. I thought it tasted a bit like black licorice, which I am *not* a fan of. I found it easier to drink over ice, and would chug it. Amazon offers a variety of Milk Teas. I went with Organic Mother’s Milk personally – each tea bag made two cups of tea.

mothersmilkImage Source

 

milky1
Image Source

Milky!

I have not tried this myself, mostly just because I haven’t come across it in stores. But I would love to give it a try – perhaps a review soon? And not just because I am a child of the 80s/90s. Milky! is a product created by Tia and Tamera Mowry (Sister, Sister!). It’s made with fenugreek, but created to mask the taste for those who REALLY don’t like the flavor. You won’t find it on Amazon, but you can find it in Destination Maternity stores, on their website or over at Need Brands.

Next up – baking and breastmilk? Mmmmmm!

❤ Tara

Additional Information:

A list of other galactagoues

All Amazon links do have my associate’s code included.

Milking It: Drying Up

Milking It: Drying Up | oliverandtara.com
Image source

After last week (World Breastfeeding Week), my brain is still stuck on the topic. So I wanted to discuss a topic many mommies have questions about – how to encourage milk production. This is a topic I didn’t look much into before having Liam. I wish I had! Thankfully I had read about certain items and did throw them into my bag. Also, we were blessed that the hospital where Liam was born is quite “crunchy”. So the Lactation Consultants brought me some things to increase supply as well!

I am “blessed” with over production and have to pump to get some of the milk off regularly, especially after a few days of cluster feedings or a growth spurt (for Liam.. not me!). But I know plenty of moms who really struggle with production. And not just at the beginning! I was talking to a fellow mommy last week and her supply almost totally dried up after a few days with a low grade fever. Yikes! Other moms have a lot  of difficulty keeping production up when they have to do significant pumping (working moms, poor latch, sick babies, etc). Since Liam has been born, I’ve read and researched a TON. Our breastfeeding relationship is something very important to me. The thought of my milk drying up is heartbreaking!

This will be a series, so I am spreading the posts out of this week. Today I wanted to provide a list of things that COULD dry up your milk. Keep in mind, ever mommy’s body is different. So some things may dry up one mommy’s milk while not affecting someone else’s milk supply at all. But it’s better to be safe than sorry from my point of view!

Food/Drinks

Meds/Supplements

Actions

Sage
Peppermint (any form)
Antihistamines
Decongestants
High doses of B-6
Prescription pain-killers
Weight-loss supplements
Appetite inhibitors
Estrogen birth control
Vitex (for fertility)
Cabbage Leaves
(helps with engorgement)
Tight bras
Pumping patterns
Supplementing formula
Smoking
Rapid weight loss
Limited BF length
Pregnancy

 

Anything on this list I have missed? Let me know!

❤ Tara

WBW: For Those Who Couldn’t

WBW: For those who couldn't | oliverandtara.com

Today is the final day of World Breastfeeding Week. I want to hit on a topic that comes up a LOT …

 

The mom who WANTED to breastfeed but her life took another path.

 

I want to say that by celebrating World Breastfeeding Week, I was in no way saying “I’m better than you”. Instead, it was to stand with moms around the world to celebrate those who breastfeed , to raise awareness about breastfeeding and making sure everyone’s rights are protected. I’m the first person to say that what we plan for our children doesn’t always come to fruition. I had grand plans of a natural child birth, but my life took another path when Liam became transverse breech at 36 weeks.

In my opinion, what matters is this:

Did you educate yourself and then do the best you possibly could for your child?

Yes? Then you my friend, are a supermom. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Celebrate motherhood, whether you have reached it yet or not. Because there are those who have!

Celebrate breastfeeding, whether you did or didn’t. Because there are those who did!

Celebrate formula, so that you ARE able to offer your child food. Because there are some who don’t have access to it.

Overall, will you please choose joy for the road traveled, and not judgement (on yourself or others!). We are all doing the best we can.

Happy World Breastfeeding Week – for mom’s everywhere to have the right to try to do it with their blessings.

 ❤ Tara

 

Link Party Button #milkingit

WBW: My view

My View [while nursing] | oliverandtara.com

When nursing, your view is sometimes pretty limited. Since learning how to breastfeed Liam in the baby carrier (read: STEEP learning curve) my view has improved. But with a bad back, sometimes I just need to sit and rest myself. Here are some of my views …

My view at home
My view at home

99% of the time, when I nurse at home, I am sitting in my chair. My beloved chair was a gift from my Mother-in-law when we announced our pregnancy. I spent a LOT of time picking it out, and it is my FAVORITE place to sit. Sometimes I have to remember that I can sit OTHER places when I’m not nursing! We set it in the living room at the condo, so we are a part of everything while nursing. This is important to me. No one should have to eat “alone” – including Liam!

The view in Colorado
The view in Colorado

When we move to Colorado, we will spend a couple of months at my parents’ house while we place offers on homes. We went out to visit for Mother’s Day/Memorial Day and this was my view while nursing. Ohemwow – I could get VERY used to this! It is very special early in the morning, when it is just the two of us. I can sit, nurse and praise the Lord for all our blessings … most specifically, Liam. 

This past weekend we took Liam to the aquarium for the first time. To say I got teary eyed watching him in awe is an understatement. But the best part was when he got hungry. Oliver led us to the “Open Ocean” exhibit to grab a bench. I think this is one of the BEST views I’ve ever had while nursing!

 

❤ Tara

 

Link Party Button #milkingit

WBW: A Day of Nursing

A Day of Nursing | oliverandtara.com

Today, for World Breastfeeding Week, I documented my nursing relationship with Liam. I can’t really capture all of the warm fuzzies, but I can show you how *our* day looks. Everyone’s nursing relationship with their child is different. It’s different because you are unique, and your child is/will be unique. I am writing this to give you an example of what it *might* look like to nurse your 6 month old. But please, don’t compare your breastfeeding relationship to mine. Compare it to nothing, because nothing compares. It is your special relationship, love every minute of it! Accept that trials, successes, frustrations and celebrations. Sit back, enjoy and watch your body do something miraculous!

Our Day [today]

IMG_20130804_001335
4am – swaddled in the dark!
Liam wakes up partially around 4 or 5 every morning. He isn’t fully awake yet, really just hungry. The rule in our home is no eye contact! Scoop him up, place him in bed. He eats for about 10-20 minutes and then falls asleep in bed with us

 

Once he is in bed, each wake-up is quick and easy. It took some time for me to master breastfeeding without switching sides. Liam always stays on the same side, and I contort to feed him from both sides. This morning we had three of these feeds before he was up and ready to take on the day. IMG_20130803_235910
6:30 am, 7:15 am and 7:45 am

 

IMG_20130804_100923
9:45 am
After our morning routine, and some play time, Liam starts to get hungry again. He usually isn’t ready for a nap yet – just thirsty from all the activity!

 

The morning nap feed is one of his longest all day. During this feed he usually falls asleep for his 2 hour nap. This usually hits 2-3 hours after he is out of bed in the morning. Today he ate for a whopping 45 minutes! (at one point I may have moo’d…. just saying… ) IMG_20130804_101400
10:30 am

 

IMG_20130803_235723
3:15 pm
The afternoon he is actually pretty sparse in his “snacks”. He began to show signs of hunger (read: hitting head against boob) while we were out running errands. I didn’t have a cover with me, but I did have him in my Tula. So I just left him in there to snack! In less than 5 minutes he was done and wanted to go back to smiling at the other shoppers!

 

While walking around the complex, we got hungry again. So I sat on a bench to give him a snack. He popped on and off a few times, mesmerized by the trees above the bench. IMG_20130805_111926
5:30

 

IMG_20130804_101016
6:30 pm, 7 pm, 7:30 pm, 9 pm
The evenings are usually full of short “snacking” around playing and other excitement. Tonight he munched 4x before his bedtime feed – none lasting more than 10 minutes!

 

His last meal of the night is as he nurses to sleep. This one, much like his morning nap, is a long one. I usually put on a TV show to watch while he eats, since I am stuck sitting for quite some time. His milk coma always makes me giggle! Goodnight sweetheart! See you in 6-8 hours! IMG_20130803_235636
10pm

 

I really enjoyed documenting our day today – I had no idea he nurses THAT much. I mean, I knew it was a lot. But WOW! I guess it takes a lot of calories to keep up those cheeks *smile*

I also didn’t realize how efficient he has gotten at eating. As a newborn he ate at least 30 minutes – 1 hour at each feeding. I thought I was stuck in my chair forever. Now it sometimes feels like he is simply going through the Breastfeeding Drive-Thru! Snack and go. My favorite times are those long feeds now. The ones where I can just smile at him as he drinks and sleeps.

What does your breastfeeding day look like?

❤ Tara

 

Link Party Button #milkingit

World Breastfeeding Week 2013

World Breastfeeding Week | oliverandtara.com

 

This week is World Breastfeeding Week (#WBW). This week is used to raise awareness of breastfeeding and its benefits. The generations before us did a LOT of damage to breastfeeding culture. It has been seen as “offensive”, “unnecessary” and more. Women who were completely capable of breastfeeding were told they could not feed their child. This is different than women deciding breastfeeding isn’t “for them”. This was (and still is) a direct attack on the women who want to choose breastfeeding for their child. I always knew we would choose, Lord willing, breastfeeding for our child. And it’s a decision I haven’t regretted. But it sure wasn’t easy!

Facts [you may not know] about Breastfeeding

  • You burn as many calories while breastfeeding as if you walked 7 miles
  • Most mom’s give up their breastfeeding relationship before their baby is 6 months old
  • By kissing your baby, your body can identify the antibodies it needs and create that in your milk
  • Babies who breastfeed instinctively stop eating when they are no longer hungry. Bottle-fed babies often empty the whole bottle
  • Breastfeeding exposes the baby to many different flavors, based on the mother’s diet. This encourages children to try many foods when they begin solids!
  • Research is beginning to show that children nursed 3+ years get a boost in the IQ department

 

Things I’ve Learned

  • Someone once told me “It’s the most unnatural natural thing you will ever do”. Gosh were they spot on!
  • You NEED support from those around you. Your spouse, your family, your friends. That is what keeps you going at 3 am when the baby is screaming for food but still can’t figure out that latch
  • Your baby really does know how to get your milk to “let down”. My guy will squeeze, hum, sing, squish his face into me .. whatever it takes! My grandmother noted that calves do it to the mother cows as well. Thanks Gram…
  • You MUST swallow your pride. If you really believe this is the road you want for your child, you need to ask for help when/if you need it.

The picture at the top of this post wasn’t easy. I am very proud that I breastfeed Liam. However, I am an extremely modest person (breastfeeding or not). I’ve worn a bikini once – on my honeymoon. I almost always have a camisole on under my shirts. I don’t even walk around my house in my underwear, much less nude! But I really felt I needed to take this picture. I wanted to give others a gimps into our breastfeeding world. It’s an amazingly complex and colorful daily adventure. I’ll take you on a walk through it in the days to come …

❤ Tara

 

Link Party Button #milkingit

Happy Hips!

Happy Hips: A Breech Baby Update | oliverandtara.com

For those of you who missed this post, Liam was born full-transverse breech. The gist of it? He was born with his feet touching his ears. This has caused us all sorts of car seat drama, along with other precautions we’ve had to take to ensure we are careful with his hips in a very key development time. We met with an orthopedic specialist this week to check on their development.

Here is how the appointment went…

I called the office to schedule an appointment. Upon hearing about Liam’s birth, they fit us in for the same day. We arrived about 30 minutes early to fill out paperwork. Thank goodness too, because it took me about that long with Liam and his new found mobility (read: thrusting himself headlong in any direction that fits his fancy). By the time I turned in the papers I had to include an apology … as Liam had eaten part of them. Yeah. Moving on.

X-rays were done first, to make sure the doctor had the FULL picture. These were done by a VERY large Samoan man and, much to the gentleman’s surprise, Liam LOVED him. Apparently the poor man scares a lot of children with his sheer size. The wort part of this was having to leave him on the table, unattended, while they did the actual x-ray. I just prayed “please don’t roll, please don’t roll”. The three seconds it took to take the image felt like a year! I raced behind the wall, he snapped it, then I raced back to the bedside. Mama was panicking, Liam was entertained by the light on the machine. Figures, right?

 

Next we were placed in a small exam room with a table, chair and stool. Nothing safe for baby, so we sat on a blanket on the floor and played with toys.

Note to new mamas: never leave home without at least a swaddling blanket in your diaper bag! They come in handy EVERYWHERE! 

IMG_20130730_165822

When the doctor came in he was able to REALLY explain what was going on, while showing us the x-ray. Apparently we were looking for a few key features in developing hips.

Image Source: Oregon Health & Science University
Image Source: Oregon Health & Science University
  • Femoral Ossific Nucleus:  This is the little bone that appears on top of the leg. In the image above, it looks like a little rounded pyramid on top of the femur bone. This is supposed to develop between 3 and 6 months of age. It is significantly delayed in babies with dysplasia. 
  • Acetabular Angle: This is the triangular section you see between the hips and femoral ossific nucleus. You have a concern for hip dysplasia when it is ~ 30°

Here are Liam’s hips …

IMG_20130730_215325

 

At ~ 23° and with both femoral ossific nuclei developed…

Liam’s hips are NORMAL! *insert happy dance*

And that, my friends, is your A&P class for today. *wink*

❤ Tara

Tried and True: Swaddle Me!

SwaddleMe Review | oliverandtara.com

Liam sleeps best as a baby burrito – nap times, bed time, it doesn’t really matter! We’ve swaddled him since birth and he knows it mean “sleepy time”! If he’s tired, he smiles the biggest smile in the world when you begin to swaddle him. If he’s fighting sleep, you get QUITE the dirty look if you try to wrap him up. Haha! We were gifted a variety of swaddles when he was born, but the Summer Infant SwaddleMe is our favorite. Quick and brainless, perfect at 4am!

Pros:

  • Velcro! Need I say more?
  • SO quick to get them wrapped up!
  • A variety of sizes
  • Cute colors and patterns!
  • Machine washable

Cons:

  • Velcro… ug… (read below)
  • Getting legs in when they are asleep or squirming is a feat …
  • Our little Houdini can still get himself out!

As you read above, the Velcro is a pro and a con. It’s a pro because, let’s face it, in the middle of the night you don’t have any brainpower left to remember how to wrap that receiving blanket around them. The company was even kind enough to make washing tabs, so the Velcro doesn’t get wonky in the wash! It’s STRONG Velcro too, it doesn’t just pop open, it takes a good tug to undo! But it’s a con for one reason alone – loudness. Invariably it gets stuck closed when you need to slide a sleeping babe in, and ripping it open could wake the dead. Also, Liam has discovered the joy of “scratching”. He love to scratch things. This includes the Velcro. In the middle of the night. Yep.

Our Houdini is able to get his arms out when he is awake and wants free. Although a con, I really don’t mind. I know that he could get out if he needed, and he never gets out while asleep and then wakes himself up. It’s created some hilarious moments, as well as magical.

One night I woke up to the sound of things crashing. Liam had gotten his arms out of his swaddle and was clearing off my end table, one item at a time. Some things he was even able to fit between the bars and place in bed with him. I think my middle of the night exclamation was something along the lines of “You’ve GOT to be kidding me!” as I leapt from bed, just as the Angelcare Monitor hit the ground.

The other morning I rolled over in bed to see his arm out of the swaddle, reaching for me from inside his crib. He was staring right at me, straining his arm between the bars, not making a sound. My heart melted. I reached my hand off the side of my bed towards him and he grasped it, smiling at me.

A funny little video I shot the other day, showing how much better he falls asleep/stays asleep when swaddled. Heck, this very post is brought to you by a nap in his SwaddleMe!

Did your little one like to be swaddled?

❤ Tara