Family, Pregnancy

When Breast Isn’t Best

August 11, 2015

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Last week, I posted about breastfeeding (or rather, not breastfeeding and choosing to formula feed instead) on Espresso and Cream’s Facebook page. As I should have anticipated I got a lot of responses, some good and some filled with outrage. Because Facebook is short-form, I’m not sure my intent and thoughts behind my post were conveyed properly and with the clarity that I intended. I thought perhaps it was worth devoting a post to further clarification and explanation.

When I was pregnant with my first and only child I got asked a lot by health professionals, friends and fellow moms if I was planning on breastfeeding. It was, by far, the most commonly answered question of my pregnancy. I found the questions strange. Sure, I hoped to breastfeed, but I had heard plenty of stories about women who couldn’t or chose not to, and I didn’t want to set myself up with expectations that were unrealistic.

I’m the woman who went into childbirth with few notions of what I wanted or didn’t want. I thought perhaps I would like to try natural childbirth, but wasn’t sure. And after experiencing six hours of labor at home with contractions in frequent intervals I decided an epidural was the way to go. The same goes for breastfeeding. I thought I would give it a go, especially for those first few months when it’s extra valuable, but I didn’t have any strong leanings either way.

I did, however, feel the societal pressure to breastfeed. Doctors, nurses, lactation consultants and friends all repeated the same phrase: Breast is best!

Ainsley and I got off to a rough start with feeding. In the hospital she didn’t latch or eat well, and we spent hours with nurses and lactation consultants trying to get her to feed.Β And she did feed occasionally, but I didn’t have a lot of confidence in how things were going when I was discharged from the hospital. The first couple days and nights were filled with lots of tears on both my end and Ainsley’s. Listening to your baby cry and cry because they’re hungry is the worst sort of torture. I couldn’t understand what was wrong: I was producing plenty of milk, but our little one simply thrashed her head from side to side in frustration every time she tried to eat. It was emotionally depleting on me, especially when I was worried about a thousand other things and sleep deprived on top of it all.

At four days old, Ainsley got admitted to the NICU with a low temperature after a home health nurse came to visit for a routine postpartum check-up. I had heard that breastfeeding was hard and I should just push through the hard to get to the other side, but in my heart I knew something wasn’t right. It was such a relief to hear the doctors and nurses in the NICU confirm that things were harder than usual for us because of the gap in the corner of Ainsley’s lip. That tiny gap was causing major issues with latching, leading to a lot of frustration for both of us. I was told that if we worked really hard we could probably salvage our breastfeeding relationship, but at that point I wanted nothing more than to pump exclusively and give Ainsley a bottle. She took to the bottle well, ate like a champ and was a completely different baby than the fussy, hungry newborn I had just a day before. It was sweet, sweet relief.

At first, exclusively pumping felt like a huge weight had been taken off my shoulders. But eventually, pumping itself started to feel like a major burden on top of caring for a baby. There are many benefits to pumping and bottle feeding, but let’s face it, it’s double the work and difficult to manage time-wise with an infant who eats around the clock.

During the first 14 weeks of Ainsley’s life, she was exclusively fed breast milk via bottles. I pumped dutifully and stored up a major stash in the freezer. I hated every second of it and felt emotionally drained. I must have threatened to quit a thousand times during those 14 weeks, but I felt so much guilt at the idea of introducing formula to Ainsley. I would ruin her gut health! She would have allergies! I wouldn’t be able to protect her from sickness and give her valuable antibodies! She would get more ear infections! The list could go on and on.

Eventually Joe said something to me that really stuck: “Giving Ainsley the “best” isn’t just about giving her breast milk, it’s about being the best, most emotionally available mom you can be to her. That’s what’s best to Ainsley. If pumping/breast feeding is causing you this much stress, maybe she is better off drinking formula so you can enjoy her more.”

And you know what? He was SO right. When I let go of the weight of pumping and breast feeding Ainsley, I was a better mom. I had more to offer her, I could enjoy her more and I felt more like myself than I had in months.Β My concern with the push to breast feed is that the focus of “breast is best” is so very narrow. Is breast milk the perfect food for our babies? Absolutely! And it’s so cool that our bodies can nourish our babies. But when the push to breast feed results in a stressed out, emotionally depleted and unhappy mom, sometimes formula is best, and that’s okay, too.

So if you didn’t produce enough milk to feed your baby, it’s okay. If your baby didn’t latch well or had a medical issue that meant breast feeding was ridiculously hard, it’s okay. If you’re a mama via adoption and breast feeding wasn’t an option, it’s okay. If you just didn’t want to breast feed, it’s okay, too.

My hope is that we can have fewer conversations about how we feed our children all together. It’s such a deeply personal choice that’s become public fodder. The way I see it, motherhood is hard enough as it is without carrying extra guilt or shame about how you choose to feed your baby, and at the end of the day, we’re all just trying to do the best we can.

Madison

Family

Big News!

August 4, 2015

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If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that the Hofmeyers are headed to Iowa!

We’re moving back to our hometown for Joe’s job and couldn’t be more excited to be closer to BOTH sets of grandparents and lots of family.

I’m nervous, excited, and a bit frazzled with all that we have going on. So if things are a little big quiet around these parts over the next couple weeks, hang with me! I’ll be back with lots of updates and plenty of new adventures to share.

But for now, prayers please!

Madison

Family

You Light Up My Life

July 30, 2015

IMG_0389Before I had a baby I was very skeptical about motherhood. I read post after post from moms who talked about how fulfilling and amazing it was being a momma to littles, and I worried that I wouldn’t find it nearly as gratifying and wonderful as others described. I wondered, to be totally honest, if I had the “mom gene.”

We walked the road of infertility for two years before Ainsley arrived. Sometimes when you’re in the thick of charting and temping and visiting doctors and searching for answers you start to wonder what the point is, if you really want a baby, if the pain and heartache is worth the physical and emotional toll it takes on you and your family. After our second miscarriage, I told Joe I was done trying. That I didn’t have it in me to keep going and risk more heartache and loss. I was devestated, depleted, scared.

While I was pregnant with Ainsley I became increasingly worried that the expectations I had for her would be too great for any one child to carry. She was our miracle baby, her story and arrival into this world was unlike anything I had ever experienced firsthand. I was fearful that my expectations for motherhood would be too large for any baby to fill.

Our first couple months with this little one? They were HARD. There is no other way to say it. She was, and continues to be, a very easygoing baby, but the adjustment to parenthood didn’t come naturally to me. I was tired, scared and uncertain, questioning myself on almost everything related to baby care. Add a stint in the NICU when she was 4 days old, a scary (but ultimately OK) diagnosis, many specialist appointments and a surgery at 8 weeks old and I was doing my best to keep my head above water.

Being a momma is scary stuff. Fighting for your little one and advocating on their behalf? Gutwrenching.

But this whole motherhood thing? You guys, it’s turned into something wonderful. Around 3 months the haze lifted and the doctor’s appointments slowed down. Ainsley started smiling and giggling and becoming a little person with distinct likes and dislikes and funny quirks. And along the way I’ve been affirming my parenting skills. Am I a perfect mom? Hardly! But I frequently tell Joe, “I think I’m the best mom for Ainsley, and I’m doing a pretty good job!” Not because I want to be boastful or arrogant, but because this whole parenting gig is hard enough as it is, and a little (or a lot) of encouragment and affirmation is absolutely necessary.

So, Miss Ainsley, thank you for lighting up my life like none other. Being your momma? It makes me feel more “me” than anything ever has before. I couldn’t be more thankful for you, sweet pea, and I have a feeling that it’s going to keep getting better.

Madison

Food & Recipes

Almond Flour + Coconut Flour Coffee Cake

July 27, 2015

This post is brought to you in partnership with Lavazza.Β All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.

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Happy Monday, friends! It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe around these parts. Truth be told, having a baby has hit my cooking game hard and I’ve been ever so slowly working my way back into the kitchen. Mornings have been all about quick, nutrient-packed smoothies and all the coffee, because Miss Ainsley still doesn’t have that whole sleeping through the night thing down. When you have a baby, it seems like everyone wants to talk about your baby’s sleep. “How is she sleeping?” is by far the most common question that I’ve received over the past five months. And when your baby isn’t sleeping great? Well it can feel a bit discouraging. In all fairness, Ainsley isn’t a bad sleeper or a good sleeper, just a very average sleeper. Now that I’ve accepted that fact, it’s easier to not be bothered by the night wakings and sleep deprivation.

When you have a baby, everything sort of comes to a halt in your life. My world? Totally rocked. I’ve been slowly “re-claiming” my life by venturing back into running and working out, cooking, spending time away from Ainsley and doing things I’m passionate about. It’s a balancing act to find the time to still be “you” while taking on this huge responsibility of mommy! Anyway, I digress…

Continue Reading…

Family

Turbans for Tots Giveaway!

July 22, 2015

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Sorry for the radio silence around these parts, friends! This week is a quiet one for Espresso and Cream while I get some new content ready to go and take a little breather, but I wanted to pop in and share a little about a company that Ainsley and I have been loving lately.

I discovered Turbans for Tots while scouring Etsy for cute baby turbans for Ainsley to wear. Girlfriend has some strange hair going on these days with lots of new growth and bald patches, so we’re all about headbands and turbans lately. I placed my first order with the company a month ago, and have since placed another order for even more turbans. The company is in no way paying me to mention them, but I love their products so much I thought I should do a giveaway so you can enjoy them, too!

I’m giving away $75 to the Turbans for Tots Etsy shop (which includes free shipping) below! There are a few ways to enter, so don’t miss out.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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