Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hospital Packing Part 4-The Stuff You Shouldn't Bother With

In posts 1 through 3 I shared the items that I packed for Mom, Baby, and my own Comfort.  This list is the stuff you shouldn't even bother with putting in your suitcase. They're items I frequently see on suggestion lists and I completely disagree about packing them. Here's why...

  • Stuff for Dad. Mostly because, he doesn't really need much. Also, he's got the ability to leave the hospital for an hour or 2 and go home to take care of anything he might need. (Remember that down-time? When you are going to be sleeping.)  At most, I'd have him bring a change of clothes, a toothbrush, and some deodorant.  And he can leave them in the car until he needs them the next morning. On the off-chance the hospital allows him to use a shower (most don't because Dad's aren't patients) he can use the toiletries you've already brought for yourself. An exception to all this would be if you're at a hospital with a birthing tub or shower in your delivery room. In that case, throw a swimsuit for him in your suitcase if there's any chance he'll be joining you as part of your labor support.

  • Postpartum Menstrual Pads. I know. It's not pleasant to think about, but there's going to be some serious bleeding going on.  You'll be soaking through them so fast that if you bring your own you'll go broke from their purchase before the end of your first day. Use the ones the hospital provides.  They work better, plus you're already paying for them. Save the ones you like for when you get home.  You'll have the opportunity to use them for at least 4 to 6 weeks. Another reason not to bring them is for their size.  You're going to want the huge ones and a box will easily take up a quarter of the space in your suitcase.

  • Another waste of suitcase real estate is a box of disposable Breast Pads.* Your real milk doesn't come in for 2-3 days.  For most women that means it's happening after you get home, so you won't be leaking enough breast milk to warrant dragging them around. The box is going to sit untouched in your suitcase until then.  I have a zipper pocket on my travel boppy pillow that allows me to stash some nursing items. I placed 3 pair in this pocket for "just in case" rather than bringing a whole box like I did last time. If you do happen to need breast pads before you leave, the hospital will be able to provide some or you can stash the box in the car and have somebody run out to grab it.
*It's uncommon, but some women start leaking breast milk before they deliver.  If this is you, obviously this item gets moved to the Mom's Essentials list and you'll definitely want to pack a box if you have a preferred brand.

That's all of it! The stuff you need and the stuff you don't! Bring as little as possible with you to the hospital and you can't go wrong.  Things don't get lost or forgotten and someone you love doesn't have to keep dragging it around whenever you switch rooms.  May your labor and delivery run as smoothly as your packing!

Hospital Packing Part 3-Creature Comforts

If you haven't yet, please check out my packing list for Mom's Essentials and Baby Supplies.

So this is my list of not-so-essential supplies that are being packed this time around.  It's also the section of items that will likely be a lot more personalized when you pack your own bag.  But, I promised you an explanation of everything that went in my bag, so on we go...

  • Cell Phone & Charging Cable. Not only will I be able to contact family and friends after delivery, but my smartphone is what I used to take the majority of the newborn photos of Avery when I was still in the hospital. It's a lot smaller than my camera, so it's easier to have next to me in the bed and it doesn't take up a bunch of room on the bedside table. (Which is where everything seemed to naturally accumulate during my last postpartum stay for fear of it being lost.)  The smartphone also allows me the ability to stay connected to the internet if I have some down-time where I don't want to sleep (more on this in a bit). Having the internet connection also allows me to instantly upload all those adorable photos to excited family members so I don't have them popping by to see me before I'm ready. (But I'm sort of weird and don't want visitors when I'm in the hospital.  Remember this post from the last visit?) One thing to remember though, MAKE SURE YOU TAKE YOUR CHARGING CABLE BACK HOME WITH YOU.  It seems common sense enough, but my nurse told me it's the number one thing parents forget in the room when it's time to go.  They unplug the phone but leave the charger in the wall.  And sure enough, my husband was one of those people. (I happened to catch it before we left though.)

  • Digital Camera with extra batteries. Yeah, I can use my cell phone for a lot of photos, but sometimes it's nice to have something with a little better picture quality or functionality (think low-light photos during that 3 a.m. feeding). And, you only get one opportunity to take those first precious shots of your little one. It's best to make them count by using the best equipment you have available to you.
I'm going to stop here and note that these are the most valuable items price-wise that will ever make it into my hospital room. Even then, if they are not directly next to me or my husband they are placed out of sight. (Yes, EVERY time you need to get up to pee! And don't forget that wallet you brought while you're stashing stuff.) While I'm trusting of the staff in my hospital, the maternity ward is constantly full of visitors...even if they're not my own. Bringing pricey items with you just invites trouble. It's like leaving valuables visible inside your car and parking it at an amusement park.  You have a higher probability of a broken window when you return than for your stuff to be sitting in the front seat where you left it. Besides it being in the way, I just don't want to babysit it.  Would my laptop be easier to use than my phone for browsing the web when I'm bored? You bet! I'd much prefer it!  But I'm more comfortable replacing a $200 cell phone than a $1200 laptop.  Same thing goes for jewelry.  Not that my wedding ring has fit for more than a couple weeks of this pregnancy, but any jewelry items have to be removed in the event you go for a C-section.  I do not want a small (a.k.a. easily lost), valuable, and sentimental item like that to go missing because I have to remove it. Best not to risk it and leave it at home.
  • Next item...SNACKS! A lot of hospitals have weird times for their cafeteria to be up and running.  Some close down entirely after a certain time, others offer a limited selection.  My hospital offers only deli sandwiches after 6:00 pm...the ones that were made around noon and have been sitting in a fridge all day getting soggy.  When you're not allowed to eat during labor (and you spend an extra 12-24 hours in the hospital before that for an induction...where you're also not allowed to eat) and you deliver your baby at 6:38 pm not having food is a MAJOR problem. Did I eat the nasty sandwich from the cafeteria? No.  Because I came prepared with food I actually like.  This time around I packed a couple of those tuna and cracker "meals" where you can mix it up how you like it, some trail mix and a few cheez-its in snack-size Ziploc bags, and 1 little Debbie snack brownie for good measure. Fruit is always a good choice too, but I packed early and wanted things that wouldn't spoil in my bag over the remainder of my pregnancy. 

  • ONE (small) form of entertainment. This time I chose to bring a deck of playing cards. Last time I brought along the cards, a knitting project, and a book. I took them because a lot of moms said there was a lot of down-time during the day where baby is having tests done, or getting a circumcision, or some other procedure.  That's true, but I spent the majority of that down-time SLEEPING.  Your body just underwent some MAJOR trauma.  You're going to be exhausted and not feel up to doing anything besides laying in a lump on your bed. Of the things I brought last time the only one I touched (except to curse its existence when trying to fit everything back in the suitcase when we were leaving) was the cards.  Hubby and I played a couple of games while I was in early labor to help distract me from my contractions. I'm bringing them again for the reason that it entertains both of us, they're small, and light-weight...making them perfect to shove anywhere in the suitcase. The book and the knitting project took up too much valuable space and I didn't want them anyway.  If I really want to read I'll just download an e-version on my phone.

  • My own pillow. The hospital ones are like sleeping on cardboard.  You need to wrangle 8 just to get a decent sleeping height and then they crunch under your head every time you move.  Don't forget to put a bright colored pillow case on it so it doesn't get mixed up with the crummy ones. Depending on how long you'll be staying, this can be left in the car until you're ready for it.  When I had Avery I stayed at the hospital the night before my induction.  Since I was sleeping there, I took it in with me right away.  Had I just spontaneously showed up when it was "time"  to have the baby I'd have left it in the car until I was moved into my postpartum recovery room.

  • My Boppy Nursing Pillow. This one will stay in the car until I'm ready for it in the recovery room. I didn't bring it with me when I had Avery.  Along with the normal struggles of learning to breastfeed, I could never get her propped to the right height for me to be comfortable sitting in the chair. (And nursing on the bed was even more of a joke when it came to comfort.) I used it the very first nursing session after coming home and told my husband, "Dude!  Why didn't we bring this with us?!  It's so much better!" It didn't seem to crush down under the weight of the baby like a stack of regular pillows did for me.  Since I have several of these pillows now (including a travel one that will be used for this visit) I won't be making the same mistake again.
In the next post, all the things I didn't mention!

Hospital Packing Part 2- Baby supplies

If you haven't read part one, check it out HERE.  It includes the essentials for mom.

This post will go over items you need to bring for baby.

  • 2 Outfits for baby to wear home. No more. No less. Why 2?  First off, it's not a fashion show.  There's plenty of time to dress up baby in cute outfits and take a million pictures, and those will turn out better with the lighting you have at home anyway. You don't need to take the lot with you. Secondly, as soon as you start sorting through your baby clothing and get everything washed pre-arrival you will notice that there is a great variance in the SIZE of baby clothing, even when it is labeled to be exactly the same. Since there's no way to tell exactly what will fit your newborn, take one newborn size outfit that looks like it will never fit the tiniest of dolls, and a second newborn size outfit that looks larger in comparison. And yes, I do mean newborn size and not 0-3 months.  Your kid will be swimming in a 0-3 months size. If they have matching hats, that's even better.

When choosing your outfits here are a couple things to think about.  First, the weather. Generally you want baby to be wearing one more layer than you are comfortable in. If it's 80 degrees outside you probably don't need a wool sweater for baby. Wearing a t-shirt yourself?  A newborn is usually good in a long sleeve t-shirt. You can always wrap baby up in a blanket if you feel they need more.

Next, try to find an outfit that is NOT a onesie, and opt for a t-shirt style top instead.  These can be difficult to find, but it's worth it.  The reason being is that baby will still have the stump of their umbilical cord. Onsies will press up against that wound and irritate it (and by extension, the baby and then you.) The cord stump also tends to ooze for a bit while it's drying and that goo gets all over the onsie and is a pain to wash out. The t-shirt style tops provide some relief from the rubbing and helps the cord breathe better, which promotes faster healing.

Finally, if you can find an outfit that has fold over cuffs for the top and attached feet on the bottom you've hit the baby outfit jackpot.  Baby's nails are REALLY sharp when they're born so you'll want to cover their hands.  The little scratch mitts that you can purchase separately don't stay on for beans, plus you can never find them in the suitcase because they're so tiny.  The fold-over cuffs give you the same protection without needing to track anything down. Baby Socks are problematic for the same reason, which is why the footed bottoms are perfect.
  • A blanket to place over the car seat. In my case an extra heavy one since it will be the middle of winter.  If you're having a summer baby, just a light receiving blanket is fine.  Something to block the sun and wind on your way to the car or to keep them warm if the snow is flying. (Remember, bulky coats and snowsuits are a no-no since they interfere with safety buckles in car seats. When in doubt, keep an extra blanket in the car for cold weather.)
    •  If you have pets: Pack an extra receiving blanket or a small scrap of fabric. Snuggle baby in this blanket as often as possible during your hospital stay. When it's time to come home have someone go ahead of you and let your pets sniff around this blanket for a while. Since it smells like the baby, it's a great way to help introduce him or her to your furry friends.
That's the list for baby.  Really.  I'm serious. That's it. Everything else you will need, diapers*, wipes, pacifiers, bottles, a small hair comb, circumcision care supplies, etc. the hospital will provide. Use their stuff since it's already part of your bill anyway. When you leave, take any extra baby supplies with you.  Just clean out the drawer of that bassinette and shove it all in your suit case. Again, you have already been charged for these supplies so don't feel bad about swiping them.  If you don't end up using them at home you can always donate them to someone in need.

In the next series of posts, extra comfort/convenience items and the things I left out of my bag on purpose.

*I have heard a few stories from moms where their hospitals did not provide newborn diapers and they were required to bring a pack of their own.  This is really rare, but if you're worried about this or any other baby supply you might need, just give the hospital a call to double check on what specifically is provided.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hospital Packing List-Mom's Essentials

I just finished packing my hospital bag for baby #2. Even though I've had a postpartum visit once before, I still scour the internet to find out what other mom's pack to take with them.  I find the majority of lists to be very helpful and they help me to narrow down my own. Others leave me saying, "I feel sorry for that poor lady's husband." Mostly because MY husband was that guy the first time around...the poor schmuck dragging all that stuff that I just HAD to bring along with us. (And I'm sure cursing under his breath the whole time.) I thought I packed "light". I didn't pack even half of what these women tell people are essential. Still...the lists are fascinating to me so I thought I'd share what I put in my bag this time around and why. Some of these really are must-haves, others are my personal preference when being away from home. It's long, but hopefully a helpful read.

  • The very most important item. DO NOT LEAVE HOME WITHOUT THIS. In fact, it's best to install it several weeks before you go to the hospital just in case baby comes early. (Bonus, you can get the installation checked, usually for free, by a member of your local police or fire department.) The Car Seat. You can not leave the hospital without putting baby in it.  That being said, don't bring this inside the hospital when you come in to deliver.  Leave it in the car until it's time to go home. No lugging it around when/if you have to change rooms and it won't take up valuable space in your recovery room. You will also want to be very familiar with adjusting the car seat for the proper fit.  Learn how the straps move into the different height slots, learn how to tighten them against your child, learn the proper way to insert or remove any accessories (such as head inserts) IF they are safely allowed at all. In most cases, if it didn't come in the box with the car seat, it won't be safe to use with it. Holding a wiggly newborn who is screaming because they don't like the car seat is not the time you want to be figuring these things out.
  • Your purse or wallet containing your I.D. and insurance cards. Even if you're pre-registered at the hospital you'll be required to show them to a staff member at least once.
  • A Folder. This is something that is optional, but I highly recommend it after wanting one during my last stay.  You get 8 billion pages of paperwork when you have a kid. Everything from useless pamphlets, to discharge instructions for both you and the baby, to those all-important keepsakes like hospital bracelets and baby footprints, and then some. Especially for those keepsake items, it's nice to have a place to store things where they can lay flat and not get mangled amongst all the other stuff you've shoved into your suitcase.
Okay, let's move on to things specifically for mom...
  • Flip Flops. Cuz floors.  Slippers would work too.

  • Pajama Set, with a robe, that is easy to nurse in. Last time I stayed in my hospital gown until I was able to take a shower.  It was nice to change into something clean and comfortable that actually fit me instead of drowning me in ample amounts of itchy fabric. Plus, it doesn't have that god-awful gap in the back that flashes your naked behind to the entire world!  You show off enough of your body during delivery. A bit of coverage feels really nice.  Makes you feel like you still have some dignity. Plus, if you want to walk the halls or take baby back and forth from the nursery it's nice to be covered. (TMI alert!) Also, as a girl who despises wearing pads (which you WILL be doing after giving birth, like it or not) I feel like I have a little more support when I'm wearing pants, even if they are loose comfy ones.  They help keep things snug against my body and I don't get paranoid about leaks as much. On this same note, these pajamas are also a set that I won't be devastated if they end up getting ruined from leaking through a pad. Yet another reason I'm bringing my pajama's my "in case I end up with a C-Section" going home outfit. It's loose and adjustable enough (thanks to a draw string) that it hopefully won't irritate an incision.

  • One pair of jersey knit shorts. These are thrown in as an emergency case of temperature control for myself and not necessarily something I'd suggest as essential.  After delivering Avery I was incredibly hot and uncomfortable and I could not stop sweating (and this was in an air conditioned room).  I was stuck with the temperature that the hospital set for the entire floor. These will allow me to be a bit cooler should the same experience happen again.

  • An Outfit for me to wear home, with a nursing tank as an under-layer. For me this means a pair of maternity pants, a maternity t-shirt, the previously mentioned nursing tank and a pair of socks. This "item" was actually one I went back and forth on since it takes up a good chunk of suitcase. I'm not opposed to wearing home the same thing I came to the hospital in, but there are 2 reasons I ultimately chose to pack it.  1. I wanted the nursing tank anyway just to have an extra (the top to my pajamas is actually a nursing tank) in case the other got wet from nursing or covered in some form of baby liquid. 2. I'd at least want to bring along a pair of pants on the off chance that my water broke on the way to the hospital. No thanks to putting on something soaked in body fluids. While I'd wear my pj pants in a bind, I am expected to give birth in January in Michigan. Something a little warmer is appreciated. Since 1 and 2 made up 1/2 the outfit, I just tossed in the rest.

  • A bag of Toiletries. Soap, Shampoo, Conditioner, Hair Ties, A headband to use during delivery, Hair Brush, Comb, Toothbrush, Toothpaste, deodorant, chapstick, breastfeeding lanolin, and makeup. Nothing ridiculous like a curling iron or hair dryer that eats up valuable space.  I want to take a shower and look like a human being in at least a few of my newborn's photographs.  The hospital will likely have supplies if you forget to pack things (or don't want to), but they're going to be the generic, multi-purpose toiletries that aren't very nice to use. Especially when it comes to things like soap & shampoo. (Which are 1 combined product at my hospital.) I could probably do without the makeup, but just putting it on helped me feel more "together" after having Avery so I tossed it in again.  This also might be important to you if you're having a lot of visitors. If you wear glasses or contacts bring supplies for both.  I'm lucky I don't need these but a lot of other moms have told me they were irritated by one or the other during their delivery, so it was nice to have the 2nd option.
I'd say that's a long enough post for now, plus I think it covers mom's "essentials" pretty well.  In future entries I'll share the other items I'm bringing for me, along with the supplies for baby.

Click HERE for the Baby Supplies post.
Or HERE for the comfort items I recommend.
Or HERE if you want to see the items I left out on purpose.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Xbox 360 Toddler-proofing

The main form of entertainment in our household is an Xbox 360. We use it for movies and Netflix, my husband plays games on it with his buddies, and we've recently started to use it for a connection to Pandora music in our main living space. If we're home, it's probably on in our living room. used to be.

Because it is used so much we don't dare put it inside our entertainment center behind closed doors.  To do so would risk extreme overheating and ruin the system. And that is just not an option! So, it sits up on top of the entertainment center...eye-level to a toddler.

Now I want you to take a look at the above photo.  See that green lighted ring around the power button. It's the equivalent of a bug zapper.  My girly sees the light and is drawn straight in. It's compulsive...she just HAS to push that button.  And once she does, she's rewarded with a pleasant little chirp to tell you the system has just shut off, or on, or off, or on, or off, or on... as she KEEPS pushing it in rapid succession. Yeah. Not cool. For us or for the electronic components.

I started browsing the web to see if I could find some type of guard to go over the front.  I did find a few (not specific to the Xbox but general ones for dvd players and such that would have worked fine), but they were at least $10 before shipping and all were just a cheap piece of plastic. Of course they aren't sold in stores, so I also couldn't just go out and get one.  So I started thinking...

Meet the bent acrylic picture frame!

A plain 8x10 frame, in landscape orientation. Normally $5 in JoAnn's framing department, on sale for half off. I flipped it around so it now sits like this on my entertainment center.
Avery can't push the button, it's clear enough that the remote and controllers can still be picked up by the sensor on the front of the Xbox, no airflow vents are blocked, and it's quick and easy to remove when we need to throw a disc in.  And again...$2.50.  You're welcome. Have fun toddler-proofing your own.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Invisible Mother

Maybe it's because I'm a hormonal, emotional mess of a pregnant lady right now, but I re-discovered this blog post titled The Invisible Mother tonight and started bawling.  As it always does on rough days, it put things back into perspective and I feel much better.  It's too good not to pass it along somewhere. Read and enjoy...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Washing Cloth Diapers

Nick and I are expecting a new little one in mid January.  This has given me an excuse to bulk up our cute diaper stash since Avery won't be finished with her clothies before her new little brother or sister arrives. (How's that for a twist since the last time I've made a post?!) I've been cruising around the interwebs researching our options since I'd like to try something different than our pocket diapers.  I love our pockets!  Really, I do!  But they were too big on Avery until she was nearly 5 months old so I'm trying to develop a new system that we can use right from the second we bring our 2nd home. During all my research on all the cloth diaper boards, a common question emerges from folks looking into trying out CD'ing..."How do you wash these things?"  So I made a video showing you the step-by-step process that takes place in our house!  It's a little lengthy, but I wanted it to be super informative, so I hope it helps!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Baby Crafts IN ACTION!!!

Over a year ago I shared some cute baby outfits I had made for Avery. I thought it was time I shared some photos now that she can actually use them.  First up is the Onsie-to-Baby Dress.

And here it is on Avery. (Forgive me, this post will NOT be filled with my photography greatest-hits.)
Gotta love that fuzzy fly-away baby hair! (Why is it cute on her and not on me?)

It looks super cute but I have a couple issues with it. First, I made the skirt just a tad too long. It doesn't seem like it in the 2nd photo, but it has a tendency to get in her way when she's learning to crawl. The 2nd and third issues I have with it are related to my own errors in judgment. This needs a much higher quality of onsie to support the extra fabric, so that's something I'd change if I make another. Also, it seemed pregnancy brain hit when I created the bottom hem on the ruffle. Instead of encasing the edge inside the hem (fold it once, fold over again, then stitch) I folded it once and stitched it all down.  This meant after I washed it once the edge is coming unraveled.  As a result, Avery has only worn this outfit the day these photos were taken. It's an easy fix, but I just haven't taken the time to do it.
The next project was the chicken butt onsie:
 I still love this one! The only thing I'd change (like the other project) is to use a higher quality onsie. Still...a cute little outfit to scoot around the house in.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Time To Pull Out The Soap Box...

*Climbs on up*

There are very few things in life that get me riled up. Most of the time I just pass things/people off for being mildly irritating or down-right stupid and move on with my life because it takes too much effort to fight that many wars. But seeing as the following subject seems to be a recurring theme in my life since becoming a mother, I now feel like keeping silent will force me to explode. Folks, this post is about breast feeding.  More specifically, about the ability for other people (whether family or complete strangers) to keep their mouth shut about a woman's decision on how to feed her own child.

A friend of mine gave birth to her daughter less than 3 weeks before my own daughter was born.  Recently she made a comment on her Facebook page that her girly had sprouted some of her first teeth. Another commenter replied to that post, saying that she should now stop breast feeding. Lord, how I wanted to reach through my computer screen and slap that person for her.  How does my friend feel about this comment? Honestly, I have no clue. I didn't ask.  She can continue to breast feed or she can stop, and I will support her either way. It's entirely her decision. But here is why the comment irked me enough to write this lengthy, and (I hope) educational post...

There are certain things in civilized life you just don't do. Whether you realize it or not, telling a mom how or what to feed her child is just as offensive (if not more so) than walking up to that same woman on the street and saying to her, "Hey, that dress makes you look like a fat hooker." If you are a polite, reasonable person (which I'd like to believe most people actually are) you just don't DO that! You just don't!

I know that comment probably came from innocent intentions. (Hey, those teeth might make that activity uncomfortable now...) It goes to show how much people don't know about breast feeding in general, not to mention the fact that for a mother it is a very personal decision, and that the process of breast feeding itself can be a HARD fought struggle. Comments like that have a drastic impact on the way you feel about yourself as a mom, and it brings in to question the notion that you might not know what is best when it comes to caring for a child. (Just like telling a woman that her fashion choices could give the wrong impression.) Trust me, all day long moms are agonizing over every decision they make. Is this best for baby? What could I do differently? Am I going to screw her up for life? When should we start solid food? Which one should we start with? Do I need to set up a college fund now? Should we cloth diaper? And so on...We already have enough on our plates without somebody else making us feel guilty about something as simple as food.

Breast feeding has lots of advantages. (If you'd like to learn more about them, check out this brief article from that doesn't even touch on half of the benefits of breast feeding.) That being said, choosing to breast feed your child makes doesn't make you a hero. Nor does choosing to give your baby formula make you a villain. Both things accomplish the same goal of providing nourishment to your child. As I said before, IT'S JUST FOOD!

I personally have had my feeding decisions questioned from both sides of the argument. It doesn't feel nice. Especially since both times, the offending commenter had NO CLUE what my feeding situation was. I chose to breast feed my daughter. I can say it was because of the myriad of health benefits for both of us, but, as with most things in my life, I chose to do it because it was FREE. Formula is ungodly expensive! The fact that breast feeding was good for both baby and myself was just icing on the cake.

The first time somebody commented on my daughter's food choice, I was out shopping with my husband. Our dishwasher had died so we were in a large home-improvement store looking for a replacement. (A very male-oriented environment.) Since we had planned this trip ahead of time I had expressed milk in a bottle for Avery. She started to cry inconsolably while we were shopping and I knew she was hungry. At the time, I couldn't manage trying to hold her and feed her a bottle while walking. (Actually, I still probably can't do it.) So, I set out toward the kitchen improvement help desk where there were no customers, and a ton of empty chairs. An employee saw me sitting down with Avery and promptly interjected, "You're not going to do what I think you're going to do?" with the implication of breast feeding my child. He immediately cooled down once he saw the bottle I held in my hand. I was too shocked to respond, but inside I felt completely ripped apart. That one comment made me feel so I should feel ashamed or perverted for doing something as natural as providing a basic need to my daughter in the way God designed my body to do so. Somehow I managed to hold myself together until we left the store a few minutes later, but I cried for over 3 hours after we got home. It hurt that much.  I still get emotional now just thinking about it.  What that man didn't know was that I had spent 3 DAYS, not hours, DAYS working to get that much expressed milk, enough for just ONE feeding, to be able to have the luxury of placing it into a bottle for my daughter, and taking it to the store with us. He also didn't take into account how uncomfortable I already felt about the prospect of needing to breast feed in public. At that time it was a 50/50 shot whether Avery would even drink out of a bottle.  If she didn't take it, I would have had to pull a boob out in a very public place, filled mostly with men. Even though I had a nursing cover with me, there's always the terrifying thought that baby can grab the cover, whip it sideways, and you're exposed for all the world to see. Not exactly something a nervous new mom wants. I probably feared it more than that employee! That one stupid sentence brought to light all the insecurities I was already feeling and compounded them.

Fast forward about 3 months.  Breast feeding had been going fine, and then all of a sudden it wasn't.  I'd sit down to feed Avery and she would flail around in my arms. So combatively at times that I almost dropped her on more than one occasion.  She would latch on to my breast, take a few sucks of milk, then pull off while arching her back and screaming uncontrollably. After a few days of her doing this at nearly every feeding I noticed her pulling at her ear.  I thought she might have an ear infection that was causing her pain when she swallowed, so I took her in to see the doctor.  No ear infection, but her behavior while eating concerned the doctor, and we were sent away with some nursing advice and a follow-up appointment for 2 weeks later. Nursing went a little better, but at her next appointment Avery had lost nearly 2 pounds in weight.  That is a LOT for a baby to lose.  Especially in such a short amount of time.  In order to keep her from being immediately hospitalized we had 48 hours to get her to put on any amount of weight to prove that she was capable of doing so (as opposed to her having a metabolic disorder that prevented it.) We did this by giving Avery formula. Since she did gain weight during the test period, her doctors and I decided to keep giving her formula to help get her back to where she should be weight-wise, as well as placing her on a heavy dose of reflux medicine. At first this was in addition to attempting to breast feed.  We saw a lactation consultant to evaluate Avery's latch.  All was fine. (She actually told me that Avery latched beautifully.) We saw an occupational therapist who evaluated the muscles in Avery's mouth. She found no problems which would prevent Avery from swallowing properly. Meanwhile, since having bottles constantly for supplementing her feedings, Avery developed a preference for a bottle over the breast. She could get the milk out faster, and since we were encouraging her to take in as many nutrients as she could, I didn't pressure her to nurse.  In order to keep my milk supply from dropping even further, that meant I needed to use a breast pump if I was going to keep giving Avery any milk at all. Pumping became the way of life...15-20 minutes roughly every 2 hours. Attached to the machine between 8 and 10 times a day, having to sit in one location and not be able to get back up once I began (unless I wanted to start the process all over), and still not producing enough for more than 1 or 2 feedings worth of milk got old REALLY quickly.  After 2 days I was going crazy. What little free time I had between taking care of Avery and taking care of our home was now devoted to pumping. It was exhausting but I kept trying.  I went as far as getting a new pump (to replace the one that was now dying from so much use), getting new flanges to be more comfortable, making my own and then purchasing a hands-free pumping bra to get some of my sanity back while I had to sit there, and taking Fenugreek herbal supplements to boost my milk supply. This went on for a month before I decided I couldn't take it any more.  It was way too much work and I was no good to my baby, my husband, or myself if I kept wearing myself out by trying. I would feed Avery, then pump, and from start to finish it took roughly 45 minutes to an hour. And since she was feeding every 2-3 hours that meant by the time I was done I had barely enough time to eat something or do a small chore around the house and then I would need to start all over again. Something had to give, and for me that was breast milk. With as much time and money as I spent trying to preserve our breast feeding relationship, it was not a decision that was made lightly. Then came comment number 2...

On one of my now WEEKLY trips to the store to purchase a $20 carton of formula, a woman passed me in the baby aisle. She saw me comparing ingredients between the name brand and store brand formula and leaned over and said, "You wouldn't have to read ingredients if you breast fed your baby" and then continued to walk toward the produce department. (She's lucky I didn't chuck that package of formula at her head!) You see...just like the guy in the home improvement store, this woman had no clue the struggles we had been through with eating.  It was offensive and unfair of her to judge me for a decision I had made.  The difference between this encounter and the first however, is that this time I KNOW I'm making the right choice for my child. So I will let that lady wear her judgey-pants, and I will continue to cringe at the unholy amount of money I now have to fork over to make sure my daughter has something to eat. (Which, it is not lost on me, that even doing that is a luxury some moms can't afford. We are very fortunate to have the finances that allow me to give up breast feeding and still provide my daughter with food.) Plus, switching to formula has it's benefits too. Since feeding doesn't require boobs any more, my husband can just as easily feed Avery as I can, meaning I can get a break if I need one. (Yes, this is possible with pumping but for some reason it never worked out that way in our house. Formula is just easier for this particular daddy.) Also, on especially rough days, I can enjoy a glass of wine at the end of the night without worry of contaminating Avery's food supply with alcohol. The same rings true about medications. (Hallelujah I can take decongestants again!) I also find formula to be more convenient to take out with us in the diaper bag since I don't need to worry about keeping it cold the same way I needed to with breast milk. Do I wish I could still nurse Avery or provide her with expressed milk? Sure. But I'm not heartbroken that it isn't in the cards for us any more. I still spend plenty of cuddly, bonding time with her by giving her a bottle of formula, and since we're still working on weight gain and feeding issues it has made it easier to track issues with her health by knowing exactly how many nutrients she is taking in. Breast feeding worked for us before, and formula feeding works better for us now.  I have lived both sides of the coin, and I know both equally provide for Avery's needs. All that to get to the bottom line...

The decision on how and what to feed my child is between me, my kid, and my child's doctor. It is certainly none of your business, as it is also none of your business how my friend feeds her child, or the next mother we know, or the one after that. On behalf of myself and all the mommas out in the world, I'm telling you to KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT! I will do what I feel is best for my family.  You do not have to approve of it, or use my methods to serve your family's needs. Until such a time that my child is in mortal danger from my direct actions, you have no right to tell me how to care for her. (And in such a time, I do hope you intervene. For both our sakes!) If you know somebody that needs some education on the subject, I hope you will direct them here.  With any luck, they'll see the error of their ways.

*Puts the box away*