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Bible Verse of the Day

Breastfeeding

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emmaand1

My third time as a breastfeeding mommy was definitely much easier, and breastfeeding is such that it becomes easier and easier with each child.  However, with Emma, I did not really have any time on hand to think about weaning her proactively, and she did not seem ready to be weaned yet.  Also, deep down, I knew that I was not ready yet.

I read up on stories where the child self-weaned and often wondered if it would happen to Emma.  I did try deterring her once using juice from bitter gourd, but I couldn’t discipline myself to do it often enough, so that did not go anywhere.

When she was a few months after age 3, I noticed that she started NOT requesting for milk when she awoke in the morning.  She could go the whole day without needing the breast and she would only ask for milk when she was ready to fall asleep.  Thus our breastfeeding bond was then reduced to once or twice a day depending on whether or not she had an afternoon nap.  She did not wake up much in the middle of the night and when she did, she would just need a cuddle.

Then on October 4th of this year, she contracted a sudden fever that went up to 39ºC; I did not give her any fever medication, only Izumio…she fell asleep after lunch and after that her fever broke and she was herself again.  On that same night, she had, what was to be, her last breastfeeding session.  I doubted I had much milk left then, so it was mostly comfort suckling.

On the night of October 5th, she went to sleep on her own without nursing.  I thought it was a one-off incident, but she hasn’t asked for milk since.

It has been more than 2 months now, and Emma has been fully weaned.  No tears at all, and it was such a smooth transition.  It was all I prayed for, and I had asked God to make it easy for Emma and for me, and truly He has made it all possible.  At 3 years, 6 months and 23 days, my darling Emma is fully self-weaned, with no fuss, no threats and no tears.  The timing was perfect as we were both ready then.

I’m so proud of her for being strong and growing up so beautifully.  I’m proud of myself for going on this breastfeeding journey with her.  Despite obstacles we faced, we battled through them all.  Even though I am no longer a breastfeeding mom, the breastfeeding experience stays with me and I am so grateful that I had shared my personal views and experience with all moms out there, and I am ever willing and happy to help out with questions or concerns even now.  I would never ever change a thing for all my three breastfeeding journeys, for they are all wondrous and special in their own ways.

I thank God for giving me this special role and task, and for the strength He gave me to provide for my kids.  I pray that He will continue blessing us all as a family and allow us to let Him guide us now and always.

Two nights ago, Emma gave me a pleasant little surprise.  I awoke in the morning and realized that she had slept right through from 10p.m. the night before, and only woke up at about 7:30a.m.!

That was a first for her, and I hope she will soon learn how to consistently do that.  For the two subsequent nights, however, she did not sleep through, but woke up once.  Not too bad.

Only time will tell if this trend will continue :)

During the past one month where I have been learning about this new world I’m in, Daddy and Mommy has brought me to so many new places!  So many new things to see, I can safely assume I have been to more places than most of the newborns around! :)

  • I visited my pediatrician twice; once when I was 2 weeks’ old and one more time when I was a month old.  I didn’t like it when they undressed me and placed me on this weighing scale thing, but Daddy and Mommy sure seemed happy after they took my weight.  Also, I had a Hepatitis B jab during my 2nd visit.  Didn’t like that at all!  Hmmph.
  • I’ve followed Daddy, Mommy, Ethan and Hannah out on countless occasions to several restaurants for their meals.  Japanese food, Vietnamese food, fast food…they sure eat a LOT.  Me?  I’m just contented with Mommy’s breast milk – yummy!
  • One several occasions, they brought me along to this ice cream store called Coldstone Creamery where they bought their ice cream to go.  Daddy said something about me crying, so they had to get it to go.
  • I’ve also been to grocery stores, sometimes just Mommy and me.  It’s never too early to learn about shopping, they say.  Mommy pushed me around in a stroller and managed to get the groceries done.
  • Mommy has also brought me along to my brother Ethan’s school to drop him off, and she also takes me down with her when she drops my sister Hannah off at her school.  The cool weather is just right for me, but there were a couple of days when it was a little bit windy.  I heard Mommy saying that it’s much warmer now and that it was a good thing I was born a little later, after the unforgiving cold winter.

I’m looking forward to more exciting outings ahead…psst…I heard that they are planning some as we speak!  Well, I ain’t complaining as long as they keep me clean and dry and ensure that my supply of milk is readily available all the time! 😀

I am truly thankful that Emma has been a relatively calm baby.  She cries gently, except when she needs to be changed IMMEDIATELY or if she is unbelievably HUNGRY, but other than that, she cries only when she needs to.  I believe this might be due to the immediate skin-to-skin contact after she was born.  We had a one-hour bonding session right after she was born, and that could possibly be the reason why she is a calm baby.

I am truly thankful that Emma has been taking a few naps in the daytime, which allows me time to cook and clean and do the essentials around the house.  Unfortunately the popular adage, “A mom needs to sleep when the baby sleeps” does not hold true here, because only when the baby sleeps, do I find the time to do the important things that need to be done.

I am truly thankful every day because even though Emma keeps me up throughout the night, waking up every 1-1.5 hours for the past few days because she is currently in one of her growth spurts and hence cluster-feeds all the time, I would not be as sleep-deprived as I would be had I not chosen to breastfeed.  I cannot imagine how zombie-fied I would be if I had to wake up and mix up a bottle of formula or even wake up to sterilize my breast pump to express milk.  So even though I am sleep-deprived, I am still thankful.

I am truly thankful that on the several occasions we have taken Emma out, she has been behaving really well.  She wanted to be fed a few times, but it was nothing this Moo-mie could not handle.  Hey, I make milk, remember? :)

I am truly thankful that Emma has gained a good amount of weight, taken at her 2-week checkup.  She was a healthy 7lb 4 oz at 2 weeks and we shall see how much she weighs soon, at her 1-month checkup.  For the record (and also from our observation), she definitely looks more BULAT now. :)

Can’t wait for her to grow up and play with Ethan and Hannah! 😀

It has been a little more than a week now that we have been blessed with Little Baby Emma in our lives, and sometimes I still can’t believe that she’s here! :)

We had been waiting for her arrival since I hit the 38th week, and every day since then had been anxiety-filled and putting what-ifs into question.  I had also gone for several rounds of prenatal fetal non-stress tests before Emma’s arrival, and every time I had been told, “Your baby looks perfect!  This baby’s beautiful!”

Apart from the regular Braxton-Hicks contractions I had been feeling, there was no other indication that Emma was gonna come soon.  Week 39 came and there was obvious stress on my bladder and pubic bone.  I was finding it increasingly hard to move around, but I still did my regular stuff: cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, and even some yoga and light cardio on the elliptical.  Her movements in my belly were more prominent at night.  I tried to keep my mind off the waiting by doing laundry, cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming, rewashing Emma’s crib linens, whatever I could think of, but nothing happened.

I drank a lot of labor prep tea (containing red raspberry leaf) and also had yogurt with pineapple in it, in the hope of starting off labor, but guess what, nothing happened.

Initially I had predicted Emma would be born on February 28th, but that day came and went without incident.  Then Pete predicted she would be born on the same date as her sister Hannah’s birthday, but March 2nd came to pass too.  Then we thought it would be March 5th, and I thought for sure it would be March 8th.  But nothing happened.

Incidentally, we had a blizzard on March 8th, which lasted till March 9th, so had she decided to make her entrance that day, it would be hard for us to make our way to the hospital too.  Clever girl. :)

On Saturday, March 9th, I felt stronger contractions, or rather they felt like the urge for a bowel movement.  Nothing happened then though, except that I *thought* my mucus plug was dislodged that day.  On Sunday March 10th, at about 11:00a.m. I definitely had “the show”, and I excitedly told Pete about it.

“This is it,” I said. “Emma will be here in a day or so.”

Read the rest of this entry »

hannah-mommy

My personal breastfeeding goal in terms of duration is 2 years.  I don’t see it as a chore to breastfeed, on the contrary, I find that breastfeeding is less troublesome compared to bottle and formula feeding.  In addition, since Ethan had been breastfed for 2 years, it goes without saying that Hannah should also be breastfed for roughly that same duration.

That was my plan, I told myself, unless she weaned herself off.

When Hannah was approximately one month shy of her 2nd birthday, I decided to try to wean her off her daytime breastfeeding sessions.  I didn’t want to use Bonjela because I had heard that it contained a substance that was not safe for kids (there was no report of this danger back when I weaned Ethan off).  So I decide to go natural this time round and used bitter gourd.

I started by slicing the bitter gourd up and manually squeezing the juice out, then I used it to apply on my nipples.  Nope, didn’t work.  Not potent enough.

So I then chopped up the bitter gourd and added a little bit of boiled water, and then I puréed it in the blender.  With that one medium bowl of bitter gourd purée, I applied it to my nipples immediately before breastfeeding Hannah.  She immediately rejected it.  I did this for 2-3 days in a row, and after that Hannah was completely weaned off the breast during the daytime!  I hadn’t expected this method to work so fast, but it did!

Sometimes she would instinctively come for a feed and then it was as if she suddenly remembered and then she would back off and make a face, saying, “Not nice anymore, Mommy?”

I didn’t suffer any breast engorgement nor blocked ducts because I didn’t really have any milk left anyway.

However, even though Hannah had been weaned off the breast during the day, she would cuddle up to me as soon as I had taken my night shower and asked to be breastfed.  And she would need that comfort suckle to fall asleep.

This was the hard part.

I knew I could simply use the bitter gourd purée to wean her off completely then, but something in me wasn’t quite ready yet.  Sometimes I would tell her that Mommy didn’t have much milk left, and that she was a big girl now and she would reply, “Can drink from cup?”, and I would say, “Yes Hannah…”.  But the comfort suckling still went on.  And I admit that I did nothing drastic to stop that.

And then some time in July of this year, Hannah fell sick with high fever and cough.  The first night she was on medication, she fell asleep out of tiredness without the need for comfort suckling.  She still got up at night and asked for milk though.  On the second night, I told her to try to sleep without breastfeeding because I was afraid she might throw up.  She quietly obeyed.

Then on the third night when she got better, she smiled and looked at me, “Mommy, have milk?” So I gave in.:P

hannah-mommy2

But I knew then that she was ready to be completely weaned off.  So following that, I told her that there was really no more milk left, and that all her friends drank milk from the cup and not from the breast.  She whined a little, but she listened and obeyed and eventually fell asleep in my arms.  No screaming or crying.  And she did not even wake up at night for milk.

Again, I did not see it coming and I had not expected it to happen so fast!  God really did answer my prayers again, and I am truly grateful that the weaning process happened rather smoothly.  It has been close to three weeks now that Hannah has been completely weaned from the breast, and I last breastfed her on Saturday July 23 2011.

Hannah still loves to cuddle close to me, and I suppose there is a close bond in terms of smell.  She still needs me to sleep beside her when she falls asleep, but she has achieved a grand milestone in independence.  Her dairy intake now consists of any kind of milk products: fresh milk, UHT milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.

With that, I know that I have successfully completed my second labor of love in 2 years and 4 months.  I have given her my best and I am so grateful to have this experience to carry with me through my life.  Breastfeeding is the most wonderful and rewarding journey any mother can take with their child, and I am so blessed to have been able to go through it not once, but twice over, cherishing every step and moment of it, and establishing a bond so strong with my kids that nothing can shatter.

** The first picture at the top of this post was candidly taken by Ethan :) **

hannah-couch1

A couple of weeks back, Hannah suddenly awoke in the night, coughing really badly.  She was completely all right when she went to bed, and we were very surprised that she had suddenly developed a cough.

Her cough was very forceful and in between coughs, it sounded as though she was drawing in a lot of air, and trying very hard to breathe.  It wasn’t asthmatic wheezing, that I know for sure, having suffered that for a few years of my childhood, but rather, it felt like she was trying to clear something in her throat.  The sound of her cough was similar to that of a barking seal.

I suspected she had croup, because the “barking seal” cough was a dead characteristic giveaway.  Croup is a respiratory condition caused by acute viral infection of the upper airway.  Upon checking my favorite childcare book by Dr Miriam Stoppard, I confirmed my suspicions.  The forcefulness of her cough made her throw up a few times that night too, and in the end, I carried her over my shoulder instead and patted her back to sleep.

The following morning, she seemed all right, with just a slight cough, but no “barking seal” syndrome.  I called up the pediatrician, who advised us to monitor her condition that day, since it sounded like a mild case of croup.  We weren’t really fans of going to the hospital, so we monitored and prayed that it would all be okay.  And we were glad that she recovered soon after.  As always, I have to say it must have been some of the breast milk that helped the recovery :)

Anyway, it was our first experience handling a child with croup (pronounced “kroop”), and we learnt a few things from it:

  • Croup will come suddenly without any warning.  A child who seems okay might suddenly wake up at night with croup.
  • Croup attacks usually occur at night, but are thankfully shortlived.
  • Air-conditioning should be turned off to reduce the dryness in the air that may cause a dry throat that could bring on the croup attack.  To make the air around Hannah moist and damp, I placed a bowl of water under the bed.  Dr Miriam Stoppard also suggests bringing the child into the bathroom and turning on the tap.
  • A child suffering from croup that causes vomitting due to forceful cough should not be fed anything.  I learnt this the hard way :(
  • If it is mild, the condition can be monitored at home.  After all, croup is a viral infection and antibiotics is not needed to cure it.
  • In any case, call the doctor to check for what needs to be done.

hannah-couch2

She’s okay now, and I really do hope the attacks won’t come again. *prays hard*

bitmilk-hannah

If anyone wants advice or information on breastfeeding, I will be more than willing to share my experiences and good practices.  I can tell you how to improve milk production, what to eat, how to start off on breastfeeding as soon as baby is born, and I can also offer tips on how to express milk if you are still working and want to feed your baby EBM.  If you need recommendations on a good breast pump, I can also give you my two cents’ worth, including where to buy and how much to expect, be it a manual pump or an electric one.  If you want my thoughts on which types of nursing pads to use, I’m your gal too.

But if you ask me how to wean baby from the breast, sorry…I’m stumped myself.

It was very hard for me to wean Ethan the last time, and now, I am facing an equally arduous task of weaning Hannah.  With Ethan, I used Bonjela, but since then I have heard conflicting opinions on how Bonjela might not be the safest best for kids.  If anyone has any insight on this, I’d be happy to find out more.

Anyway, I have been slowly telling Hannah that Mommy’s milk supply is running low.  Sometimes when she asks for milk, I’d tell her, “You just had some milk Hannah.  And anyway, Mommy has very little milk left.  Only a bit milk left, baby.”

She’ll look at me pleadingly with those big brown eyes of hers and say, “A bit milk!” and position herself for a feed.  Talk about persistence.

Sometimes after a feed, she’ll tell me “Milk finish!”

I’ll then ask her, “Do you want more milk in your cup?”

She’ll nod and say, “Yellow cup!”

So now when she wants to be breastfed, she’ll say, “A bit milk!” or “A bit left!”, or depending on the situation, she’ll sometimes say, “Other side!”

Yes, as you can see, I have no idea how to wean her yet.  I’m praying she’ll wean herself off on her own…anyone experienced that before?

hannah-mommy

I have not been writing a whole lot about my breastfeeding journey with Hannah, at least not as much as I did when I was breastfeeding Ethan.  The thing is, breastfeeding does get easier with the second kid onwards.

Hannah was and still is breastfed from birth till now (she’s 19 months now), and she’s showing no signs of stopping yet.  Several people have asked me when I would be weaning Hannah off the breast, but with all the perks and fringe benefits that come with breastfeeding, it’s difficult to make a conscious effort…especially since we recently discovered another PLUS point of breastfeeding.

When Hannah was down with herpangina, the only source of food she would take as she was recovering was breast milk.  I have no doubt in my mind that Mommy’s milk helped her tremendously as she was battling the virus.  Since herpangina was a highly contagious disease, the doc told us to try our best to ensure Ethan does not come near Hannah.

But we all know that is close to impossible.

Ethan visited Hannah once in the hospital, and a few hours after he went home with Daddy, my heart sank when Pete told me that Ethan was registering a high fever.  The next morning, his fever was still prevalent, and when I told the doctor, she advised me that I should give Ethan my freshly expressed breast milk, since I would possibly have developed the antibodies for the disease.

So when we got home from hospital, I expressed a little bit of breast milk for Ethan.  It wasn’t even an ounce, I think, for I had just fed Hannah.  When I told Ethan I was going to give him breast milk, he said, “I don’t want it, Mommy.  Breast milk is for babies!”

I told him I knew that, but since he was not feeling well, the doctor asked me to give him some of Mommy’s milk to help him recover.  I mixed the breast milk with his chocolate milk in a cup and he drank it all up. I did this about 3 times that day, and once the following day.  By the end of the first day, his fever had totally gone, and he was back to his normal self.  And when I was preparing the drink for him the following day, he said, “I don’t need breast milk anymore Mommy, I’m all better now!”

Well, I don’t know if it was coincidence or not, but I do think Mommy’s milk had something to do with healing him. Now wouldn’t you agree that Mommy’s milk the most wonderful thing in the world?

ethan-daddy

The past week has been strenuous, to say the least.  But being a parent means having the ability to be flexible and to always place the needs of your child above all else.  It also means having the ability to somehow forget all feelings of fatigue and tiredness and instead, churn out a miraculous source of energy, just so your child can have anything he or she needs.

We were in KL for 2 days last week to visit my MIL, who had just had a surgery.  Hannah was already slightly coughing when we traveled there, and during those 2 days, her cough had worsened.  In fact, she had thrown up on two occasions due to forceful coughing; and when we returned to Penang on Thursday night, she was running a high fever of 38.5ºC.  Paracetamol only brought the temperature down temporarily, and the following morning, we knew we had to bring her in to the doctor’s.

The doctor diagnosed Hannah has having acute bronchiolitis, which was more severe than the last time when she had bronchitis.  This time, the wheezing was more pronounced and we could tell that our poor little sweetheart was breathless.  Because Hannah would need the nebulizer treatment more regularly and also throughout the night, doctor advised us to admit her in hospital, which meant I would need to stay with her too.

hannah-hospital1

We then took Hannah for a chest x-ray, which the doctor had ordered.  And when the results came in, there was a slight indication of pneumonia in her right lung.  Since we were going to be warded, the doctor prescribed an intravenous antibiotic which would be administered to Hannah via the branula IV tube (i.e. a plastic tube inserted intravenously) 3 times a day.  This was a stronger antibiotic than its oral counterpart and would possibly not cause diarrhoea.  At the same time, the doc said she would be taking a blood sample from Hannah.

I was ushered out of the treatment room while the doctor and nurse administered the branula IV on Hannah, presumably because it would cause the mother of the child some distress.  In any case, I had to settle the hospital admissions procedure at that time too.  (Pete had to leave the hospital then to fetch Ethan from school)

When I came back to get Hannah, the nurse was carrying her and I was told that Hannah did not shed a single tear throughout the entire procedure!  Amazing!

Here’s what it looks like:

hannah-hospital2

…and then later on in the evening, after she threw up and I had to change her:

 hannah-hospital3

See what a champion my brave little darling is? :)

The antibiotics was given intravenously using a syringe which is inserted into the tubing intravenously into Hannah’s hand.  This was administered three times a day, and can also be given when she is asleep.

Throughout that first night, Hannah’s fever fluctuated, and she could barely keep her milk down.  I only breastfed her a little bit at a time, and I was very wary whenever she started coughing.  Still, nothing could be done to stop her from throwing up then and again, and we had to go through several changes of clothing.  I remember once I had to call the nurses to take her temperature again because even after a dose of paracetamol, I could feel her body still warm.  My instincts were right.  Her fever had shot up to 38.8°C and they had to give her a dose of Nurofen (a different type of fever medication) to bring the fever down.  Good thing the Nurofen had a sweet orangey taste.

The next morning, doc said her throat looked slightly red, and that could possibly have caused her throwing up.  Her lungs were still congested with phlegm; so in conclusion, we’d still have to stay in the hospital one more night.

Some *activities* we indulged in in the hospital:

hannah-hospital4

hannah-hospital5

…and sometimes when Hannah was bored *playing* on the bed, I had to take her for walks along the corridor.

By and by, I learnt the routines employed by the hospital.  Medicine was administered to the patients at 8:00a.m., 3:00p.m. and 10:00p.m. every day.  Breakfast was served at about 8:00a.m., with a cup of soy milk given at around 10:00a.m.  Lunch was between 12:00 – 12:30p.m. and tea time at 3:30p.m.  Dinner was served at about 6:00p.m. and we were given a cup of warm Milo at about 8:30p.m.  Doctor visits were twice a day, at about 9:00a.m. in the morning, but the evening visit times were not fixed.  I learnt which were the *nice* nurses and which were the *not-so-nice* ones.

And while Hannah was recuperating and getting well in the hospital, Ethan was in good hands under the care of his Daddy.  Of course his Daddy would have to content with his unending questions like, “Why do the girls have to sleep in the hospital?”, “Why do we go to the hospital?”

On Saturday afternoon, the second day we were in the hospital, I noticed the bandages on Hannah’s bandaged hand was slightly loose, so I asked the nurse to readjust it.  But just as I was waiting for the nurse to come to the treatment room, Hannah yanked the whole bandage, and everything with it, off!

I tell you, I very nearly had a heart attack when I saw that happen!

This meant that she would need to have the branula IV reinserted.

And that evening, after the doctor had finished seeing all his patients, the nurse carried Hannah to the treatment room yet AGAIN.  I took the opportunity to wash up while I waited.  And within a few minutes, the nurse returned, telling me that Hannah did not cry one bit.

Here she is, with her newly-bandaged hand.  This time, the branula was inserted into her right hand, as opposed to the left hand the first time around:

hannah-hospital6

I prayed and prayed that Hannah would recover really quickly and the next morning, my girl woke up feeling much better.  She had a smile on her face, and giggled when I sang to her.

hannah-hospital7

It was clear that she missed home a lot, and that she missed her big brother too.  Ethan loves to fiddle with the remote in the hospital, and would busy himself with it every time he came to visit.  He was the perfect big brother, bringing Hannah little gifts from home, like a McDonald Happy Meal toy, one of her cot toys from home, and an ABC book.

hannah-hospital8

hannah-hospital9

Hannah and I stayed in the hospital for THREE nights (Friday, Saturday and Sunday).  Every minute was a minute closer to recovery for our little Hannah.  She was really the *darling* of the pediatric ward.  Nurses called her the “breastfeeding baby”, her pediatrician called her a “model patient”, and she won the hearts of many with her adorable smiles, and her courage to remain calm and composed through the branula IV procedure, and her sporadic words like, “Mommy!”, “Baybeee!” and “Mamak!”. :)

On Monday morning, when the doctor came to check Hannah, I requested for permission to be discharged.  Since her fever had diminished, and her lungs had cleared up a whole lot, the doctor agreed to let us go home.   Ordinarily, we would need to stay for 2 more nights to ensure the antibiotic course via IV was completed, but since we were going home earlier, Hannah would need to come in to the hospital at the appointed times for her remaining 5 shots.

That meant we needed to take extra precaution with her bandaged arm whilst at home…because in the event the branula IV was removed, we would need to bring Hannah to the hospital to have it reinserted.

Thankfully, after going home and revisiting the hospital 5 times after that to get the antobiotic jab (and also nebulizer treatment), the nurse removed the branula IV tube and bandages.  Hannah is currently on a 5-day oral antibiotic course according to doc’s orders and is recovering really really well.

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