In Summary

*I just wrote this as an intro in a breastfeeding support group. I am sharing it here since I don’t get to write about breastfeeding much anymore.*
Hello! I want to introduce myself and share my breastfeeding story in case it can help anyone. My son is now 4 1/2 and doing great; he breastfed until almost 3 after being faced with nearly every challenge. I am a single mom by choice and my son was born at 41w5d after a 60ish hour labor, 5 on pitocin. I have celiac disease and absorption issues and one of my big reasons for breastfeeding was to give my son the best chance he could at gut health. I took a hospital breastfeeding class and one at WIC, I joined support groups online, and went to LLL meetings. Breastfeeding hurt terribly and my newborn nursed constantly. He screamed and cried if he wasn’t on me and nursing (classic high needs baby, I later found out. The dr Sears article on it was an eye opener). By 5 weeks old, I knew something wasn’t right, though people in support groups and LLL mostly brushed off my concern. Someone mentioned to look for tongue and lip ties, which then prompted memories of my need for speech therapy and my lip tie breaking when I was about 13. I also did not, and never did, respond to any pumps. At the 5 week dr appointment I made when I realized he wasn’t gaining and ties were an issue, the two female doctors told me he was fine and to just pump if it hurt. I left, cried, trusted my gut, and kept fighting for help. I reached out to the IBCLC who taught the hospital class and started supplementing with milk from a friend. The IBCLC did weighed feeds, taught me how to support him for a little better latch, taught me how to use a SNS, and agreed he appeared to have ties. I was able to get his tongue clipped by an ENT at 10 weeks and raised money to get his lip lazered by a dentist (ENT refused to do it stating it doesn’t effect breastfeeding). His latch and transfer improved a little, my pain decreased some, but anytime he had a bottle his latch was messed up again. I had pretty severe low supply due to him not being able to nurse well in the crucial first weeks. I was able to find a bottle that worked for him (breastflow), and kept acquiring donor milk, but not before a breastfeeding ignorant doctor reported me to CPS for neglect. Part of the conditions of getting the allegations denied was weekly visits with a RN/LC while I got set with a new doctor. These LCs told me a lot of horrible misinformation that I had to work against. In one visit one of them told me to give my baby a pacifier to prevent SIDS when he is sleeping and then later said to limit his time at the breast because he was wasting energy suckling. I knew better, and along with the bottles and SNS of donor milk, I put him in a ring sling and nursed around the clock. At 6 months, we experienced our first letdown! He was suckling and sleeping in the sling when all of a sudden his eyes popped open and he gulped and gulped for about a minute. It was amazing. By about 9 months, he was gaining quite well and looking chubby. We had found a new doctor and our rhythm of feeds/bottles/solids. Some things had been ruled out, such as absorption issues, but there were many things that were never discussed or tested for. Though he was now gaining well, he was way behind on gross and fine milestones. He couldn’t sit, roll either way, or pincer grasp, his head lagged when helped up into sitting, and when put on his feet, his toes pointed to the sides and he had no ability to support himself. We were denied early intervention and the latest doctor reported me for neglect when we had an appointment to try to get a prescription for therapies. I had begun to suspect something bigger when she wanted me to take him to a neurologist, but no one talked to me about possibilities. I got through those false allegations again and we moved out of state for a job, which had the added benefit of lower requirements for early intervention and a doctor who at least supported breastfeeding and his growth. My son was diagnosed with hypotonia, low muscle tone, which though it explained a lot, is not a diagnosis but a symptom. PT and feeding therapy helped, but he was still small, delayed, and a horrible sleeper. His last bottle of donor milk came shortly after night weaning (I was losing too much weight and he was waking every hour, not letting me lie down). When he was 2 1/2, I was in a support group for families with children with hypotonia. It felt like there was a good chance he would be diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy if we made it to the neurologist. He couldn’t run, still fell a lot while walking, couldn’t use a spoon, couldn’t jump, and he woke about every 2-3 hours. He was also wearing mostly 12-18m size clothes and 2nd percentile. I learned about the Preemie Growth Project in that support group and started my son on trace minerals the next day. Within a couple months on a full dose, he was growing, jumping, and sleeping so much better. Six months in and he was solidly in 2T by his 3rd birthday and on a break from therapies. He was sleeping 4-6 hour stretches at night and had weaned a couple months before due to my work schedule and him only napping before nap and bed. The doctors now dismiss his global hypotonia, he’s been discharged from therapies, and you can’t tell him apart from other kids his age.

There is a lot of misinformation out there, most doctors don’t trust breastfeeding or know how to actually help with it, growth charts aren’t the end all be all but do matter, and trusting your gut (not just your heart), and that your view of success can change over time. My son and I dealt with low supply, tongue and lip ties, thrush, food intolerances, hypotonia, nipples that cracked, scabbed, bled, became misshapen and discolored during feeds, lack of letdown for 6 months, silent reflux, accidental mint, bottle refusals, and some sort of bleeding/pain that wasn’t mastitis but never got a diagnosis. It was not what I expected, but I’ve found my passion and my drive. Thank you for reading and I hope something in my story helps you.

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National Coming Out Day

This February will mark 16 years since I began coming out. Half my life! I say began because I continue to come out everyday. They aren’t nearly as dramatic and terrifying as the first time, those first years, but they are a lot more measured.

Circa 1999, a year before I realized I am gay.

There is still uncertainty and risk involved in each decision and conversation. Today, I came out at a work conference to a person at a statewide level over lunch. I had to come out at my new job, but I haven’t come out to any clients. I had to come out to Wallace’s teachers, but I don’t know how they will be handling this week’s unit on families or what they will say if a classmate asks Wallace about his dad.

Sometimes, coming out looks like a normal conversation but feels like a huge, anxiety inducing weight. I met a friend of a friend a few years ago and found out as we started talking that she had never knowingly met a gay person before. That’s a lot of pressure being the spokesperson for millions of people around the world! Sometimes, it feels freeing to spit it out and just rip the bandaid off. And doing so can even inspire others to come out to me, to trust me with a part of themselves they might not readily share, such as I had happen recently on Instagram.

Even after 16 years, I am finding microagressions of homophobia flung in my face not unlike the pop bottle I had thrown at me from a car along with the insult “dyke!” (No, it’s not always an insult, but it can be used as a weapon.) Sometimes the homophobia is slipped into conversations and interactions like the negative treatment I received at my first midwife practice when I told them I am gay. And there are times I don’t realize it happened until after the fact, such as when I wanted to be a LLL leader and was told that as a single parent by choice I would not qualify (this is not LLL policy, but I chose not to report the leader or make a fuss). It wasn’t until I was in the car, explaining the interaction to a friend that she affirmed my experience and gave it words.

There is no coming out day for me, because everyday I have to come out or decide not to.

Me trying to dress nice for work, but still looking hella gay.

Posted in background, LGBTQ, Parenting, pictures, Single Mother by Choice - SMC | Tagged | 1 Comment

MicroBlog Monday: Bounce Back

In April, Nina had a UTI and I took her to the vet. The infection was so bad that the machine that reads the samples kept giving them an error. We got her on an antibiotic and had blood tests sent for thyroid and kidney function. The results were abysmal and the vet wanted her on a medication for her thyroid. I was warned that it would make the kidney disease symptoms appear worse, but what it did was nearly kill her. I had to syringe feed her watered down canned food and give her subdermal fluid injections. I truly thought I was going to lose her. I got her off the medicine, researched my options, started making her a balanced raw food, and attempted the medication again. Within three days, I thought she was going to die.

Fast forward five months. Nina has gained weight, she rarely throws up, she is less obsessed with water, and she has even jumped up onto the couch and into the tub a few times (she has never liked jumping but these heights were manageable for her). She eats about 10oz of wet food a day and I refill her water probably three times. She is still less social than before and sleeps hidden out of the way more times than not, but she is happy and relatively healthy. I go to the discount pet store every other week and pull up a handy pdf of cat foods to search for the one with the lowest phosphorus available. Though the raw food was really great for her and not overly expensive to make, I used chicken thigh on my third batch and she kept throwing it up. She has had a few times where she wouldn’t eat the canned food I bought her, but I spend $3-7 on a case, so it doesn’t hurt too bad.

My little PSA: if your pet is sick, please research food options that could help dramatically. If you give your cat dry food, please research why they need wet or raw food so that you can prevent CKD. Check out Cat Info for a wealth of information and a great place to start learning. Just like doctors, vets are not given much nutrition education and what they do get is sponsored by food companies. I was given a sample kit of Hill’s prescription food for kidney disease. Though it is low in phosphorus, it’s also low in protein, which no science backs up for cats, and it full of processed low quality ingredients. Question everything, research on your own, and know that food can heal.

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New/s

I have a new job, WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor. I enjoy the work, though it feels like an uphill battle. I call clients, see them in office, and do a lot of charting. Our floors are filthy and my feet can’t touch when I’m sitting.

Wallace has a new school. Well, his first (and maybe last) school. It’s a play based Reggio Amelia program at a local college. There are male and female teachers and I so far like them all. I can spy on Wallace with classroom cameras, they go on lots of walking field trips, and I mostly can handle the food they provide (I can’t send his own).

I have a new diet. I transitioned from AIP to mostly grain-free vegan. I am juggling to make sure I get enough fat and protein, but I otherwise feel great. I make lots of roasted vegetables, lots of fruit and vegetable smoothies, and gave myself some pretty nice burns from frying tofu.

I have a new pursuit. The content of it isn’t new, though. I will be starting yoga teacher training* tomorrow! This is a bit of a jump feet first situation, as I’ve only been to this studio once, which was also my first yoga class since before I got pregnant, but I have definitely contemplated this many times.

When I went to the studio to discuss it with the owner, I met a new friend. The teacher had already paired us in her mind and I’m looking forward to getting to know a new mom friend who seems to be on the same wavelength as me (a big contrast to the people and environment in which I work). She is married, has a 6 month old son, has been vegan for 2 years, is all about the natural parenting, does yoga (her husband will be doing the training with me), and her leg hair rivals mine.

There is also a new baby in my life! One of my best local friends had a baby 24 hours ago. I am so damn proud of her and happy for her and her husband. I cannot wait to get some sweet baby snuggles. I was invited to go today but wanted to let her have enough rest in the hospital before heading home to her older two children, two dogs, and a flock of chickens.
*I realized that this will not only give me a money earning skill that I am passionate about, but also the self care and space to make it through another year living with my mom. I can’t afford rent on my own place plus the training.

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Choices

The situation: we’ve been living with my mom for over a year and I’ve been just barely getting by with my amazon sales and babysitting, along with the help of food stamps. I have managed to do most of the required college prerequisites in order to become an IBCLC, I have a motorhome that needs mechanical work, and a small amount of consumer and student debt. I just got a 28 hour a week job and put Wallace in a play based preschool.

The goal: to have enough mobile income we can move into the RV and travel/live. To get enough contact hours working at my current job in order to meet the 1,000 minimum to sit the IBLCE within 4 years. To have another baby.

Choice one: stay living with my mom, pay off at least my consumer debt, stay at my job for the next year, save at least $5,000 and make motorhome repairs, and get on the road before Wallace would need to be in public school.

Choice two: get a cheap one bedroom apartment in this area (there are no places that I know of around here that we could winter in the RV), possibly apply for rent assistance, save less money but more sanity, and somehow manage to get on the road before Wallace would need to be in kindergarten.

No idea where getting to have another baby would fit in my five year plan with either choice for the next year, but having 6 months of living expenses saved up beforehand will be a must. My current work load has not been allowing me to keep up with amazon, my biggest mobile income stream. Other ideas for mobile income include amazon merch, Poofy Organics (see my affiliate tab), some form of birth educator training, CLC training, etsy, and ebay sales.

I am open to ideas, logic, suggestions, and overall kind words. I’m exhausted, I miss my kid, I love helping mothers (my job), I want another baby, I want to be debt free, I want to be mobile, and I crave living in my own space again.

Posted in background, family, Parenting, Single Mother by Choice - SMC | 5 Comments

MicroBlog Monday: 9 Things

1) Somedays, work is a rollercoaster of emotions. You win some, you lose some. All the adorable babies and the connections made with women.

2) I’ve been transitioning to grain-free vegan. Rule number one is eat a shit ton of vegetables. As long as I get some beans and some safe starches, I feel good.

3) Wallace is on his third week of preschool at a university’s Reggio Amelia based program. I may be That Mom, but I like the teachers and we are both adjusting.

4) Baby fever, like woah.

5) Do not drink 12oz of kombucha in a day. Especially at work where other people can smell your detox body odor. Learn from my mistake.

6) I like chocolate and pretty much still crave it all the time. I packed coconut chips and dark Enjoy Life chips for a snack tomorrow.

7) I have been talking to an old friend who came to mind. Communication always drops off so I’m trying to just appreciate each moment not knowing when I will stop hearing from him.

8) I have a friend who lives on St Thomas. It really freaked me out when the storm was headed that way. I have yet to hear from him.

9) CBD oil is still amazing. I love it and I am a functioning adult again, yipee!

Posted in background, Microblog Monday, Parenting | 5 Comments

Poofy Organics Sale!

Do you need deodorant, makeup, shampoo, bubble bath, sunscreen, kitchen cleaner, hand sanitizer…?

Then check out Poofy Organics and consider buying an organic, hand crafted, USA made product that supports a small business and a single mom (me). Poofy has only three sales like this a year, so this is a great time to make a first purchase or stock up on favorites. I give a 10% rebate on your first order after Poofy’s 15% off (shipping not included).

The sale starts at 12am on September 2nd and goes to 11:59pm September 4th EST. The code must be entered at time of checkout. In order to get the rebate from me, I will need to confirm your total and have an email address/paypal.

There’s also a back to school Survival Kit with a $25 discount.

Make sure to follow my link and create an account to place an order.

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