October 29, 2011

And Another Nursing Issue

I'm going to record the details of today's experience in case I have opportunity to help someone else in this situation sometime!  And for my own reference should this happen again...but Lord willing, I hope that will not be the case!

Yesterday all 6 kids and I went to Bethany's house to try to give her some help.  Bethany has been on strict bed rest for a good portion of her pregnancy.  She is nearing the end, and we are trying to be sure she cooks her little guy as long as possible!  Things went about as well as could be expected:  older kids helped with cleaning floors and raking and entertaining/picking up after the little ones, and I finished cleaning floors (i.e. got all the areas they missed, LOL) and did some kitchen work.  Anyway, knowing I would be working, I put on my sports nursing bra for the day.  Zaden didn't nap well all day, and I ended up nursing him about every 2 1/2 hours, even after we returned home.

By the time we finished our movie night (Chicken Run...Lucan was in bed after not napping at all), I was pooped and just left my sports bra on instead of changing to the nursing bra I typically wear at night.  I last nursed Zaden around 9:15.  At 3:38 a.m. I woke, having been lying on my right side, feeling VERY uncomfortable.  After nursing Zaden so frequently during the day, plus having him wake in the middle of the night the past few nights (so no long stretches of sleep for either of us), I figured my body was just going haywire with the milk production.  I went to the kitchen and pumped about 3 ounces, feeling somewhat more comfortable as I went to lie back down.  I never did get back to sleep, so I was ready to feed him when he woke at 4:15.  By the time he was finished, it was apparent that something was not right.  I put him back to bed and got into a hot shower, massaging my sore breast (the right side, of course! always problems with the right side!).  When I got out and looked in the mirror, it was so obvious something was wrong--lumps in weird places and a general misshapen appearance.  I felt I had done as much as I could at that point, so I took some Ibuprofin and went back to bed, thinking we'd be up in another hour or so to nurse again. 

Wrong!  You might know, the night I need Zaden to nurse more frequently he sleeps longer!  It was 8 a.m. when we both awoke, and I was even more sore, to the point of being in tears while nursing him.  Of course I was starting him on the affected side and trying to let him go for a long time, but it hurt so badly.  And when he finished, it didn't seem to be any better.  I spent most of the morning putting hot washcloths on, massaging the area as much I could stand it, pumping (or trying to--wasn't getting much from that side at this point), applying a hot rice pack, and doing it all over again.

Thankfully it's Saturday, so I let the kids watch Loony Toons DVDs all morning so I could doctor myself and take care of Zaden.  By time the 10:30 am feeding came around, I was Skyping with Ted and crying because nursing hurt so much.  But I also noticed a white head on the nipple that, after Zaden finished nursing, was definitely blister-like.  In my reading about plugged ducts vs. mastitis, I had seen that plugged ducts could end in a white blister.  Several sites said to use a sterile needle to gently pop the blister.  The very thought made me queasy, so I set things up so I could get back into a hot shower.

After following directions for the blister, plus about 20 minutes of massaging the area in the hot shower, the hard lumps were definitely improving, though things still looked off, and I was still very tender.  When I rejoined the rest of the family, Charis informed me that while I was showering, one of her directors had called wondering why she wasn't at rehearsal.  ACK!!  I double-checked the schedule and realized that somehow I had missed the fact that she was supposed to be there today.  I don't know why or how I missed it--it was clearly marked that her page numbers were scheduled for today.  So, a few tears (on my part) and a quick phone call later, we were on our way to the theater with my neighbor Chris here at home with the kids.

I got home and used the warm rice pack again, then nursed Zaden on the sore side for a little bit before having to go pick up Charis.  (Thankfully Chris was able to hang out here at the house, so I just left all the kids here, which made it easier to run in and sign Charis out.)  I was feeling SO much better by this point, and after finishing our feeding once I returned, I was pleased to find that the lumps were completely gone.  Also, it seemed that Zaden was able to nurse better--I'm not sure what was going on earlier, perhaps he wasn't getting as much milk as he was used to, but his latch/suck seemed off, and my nipple was getting sore again from it.  But this time around, everything seemed to be working well.

Praise the Lord...it is now nearly 6 p.m., and the only tenderness I have seems to be the result of all the aggressive massaging from earlier today.  We finished another successful feeding that didn't involve pain--woohoo!  I am so thankful that the whole ordeal didn't last long!  Now I am praying that I don't get any infections from pricking the skin of the blister. :-/  Zaden is certainly none the worse for the wear, as he's been giving good smiles all day!  Here's one of them!

October 25, 2011

Zaden at Two Months

10 lbs, 15 oz: 54th percentile (and he was weighed RIGHT before a feeding, so he surely would have broken 11 pounds if the timing was different!)
23 1/4 inches: 84th percentile

Zaden is doing so well nowadays!  He and I celebrated his 2-month birthday by sleeping 7 hours straight--woohoo!  Truly, I could not ask for an easier baby.  I know, I know, it's hard to believe after all the drama we went through the first few weeks of his life, but God obviously knew that I couldn't handle a high-maintenance infant this time around!  He is on a very consistent feeding schedule, though I'm able to bend it a little to work around our activities.  After feeding, he usually stays awake for about an hour during the daytime, and then--like clockwork--he starts getting fussy and fusses until about 5 minutes after I put him in bed.  Then, just like that, he's asleep!  And nights have been pretty good.  I usually get at least 4 1/2 - 5 hours of sleep in one stretch, and he has gone longer on occasion.  Of course, there is the random night where he's up at 2 a.m., but for the most part, we seem to be doing pretty well here, which is good, because there is never a guarantee that I can get a nap.

I was afraid that we were in for another poop issue, as he stopped pooping after last Thursday.  But I am pleased to announce that we had a "poop-tacular" diaper this evening, so hopefully things are back on track with that! 

Zaden is becoming so much more alert and aware of his surroundings, which is fun for his siblings, who always stop as they go by where he's sitting/lying to talk and play with him.  I love seeing how he responds to my voice, and we're getting some very good smiles these days.  (Miracle of miracles, I captured one on the camera tonight!)  He is starting to coo and gurgle, and Kenna is convinced that he is trying to say words.  She boasted one day, "Mommy, Zaden said, 'Gah!'"  Oh yes, we have such a clever baby, LOL!

The most outstanding physical feature he has is undoubtedly his HUGE eyes, which garner comments everywhere we go.  I guess he is just trying to take everything in!

October 24, 2011


I guess I should just be thankful that these days have been coming fewer and farther between...sure seems like we had a plethora of them at the beginning of this deployment.  Maybe I'm just in such a fog with a lack of sleep that I don't get as fired up as quickly!  But tonight I'm just...exhausted.  And feeling so full of guilt and shame over my mommy meltdowns.

I know I would still struggle with sin with my husband present.  I can't excuse my lack of patience, gentleness, kindness, or self-control just because I'm a single parent.  Priscilla Shirer, in her Jonah study, gave the analogy that if one is holding a glass of water and someone shakes the arm holding the glass, water spills out because...that's what is in the glass.  When we are "shaken" by life's storms, what is inside of us will spill out.  Unfortunately, it's all too obvious that too much of my sinful, selfish nature is still raging inside of me.  I'm so thankful for God's grace and His Holy Spirit...without Him, I truly could do nothing, let alone anything good.

So on days like today--when I went running hither and yon with two kids at dental appointments and another one at a well-baby check-up; when I nearly fell asleep reading to the little ones at only 11 am; when I had to Google "How to clean poop off a couch;" when the little ones dragged outside toys inside the house, resulting in a pine needle anointing of all the carpet in the library and family room; when no one is listening to me, let alone obeying me; when Zaden wakes an hour before I expect him to during every feeding cycle; when I'm nursing the baby on one hand and trying to clear counter space with the other; when I walk into my room to find every drawer pulled all the way out and my bed completely rearranged; when I'm dealing with a host of other, non-life-threatening-but-still-frustrating situations--it's times like that when I simply have to surrender my all: my thoughts, my attitudes, my words, my actions...and trust that God can make something beautiful of this mess.

October 22, 2011

Birthday Girl

After a low-key, family-only party last year, and numerous shared birthday parties in previous years, Charis and I decided it was definitely time for her to have her own party for her 11th birthday!  It was so much fun to plan it with her.  We picked Friday, October 14, and had an "almost over" (as in, not quite a sleepover) from 5:30 - 11 p.m.  I offered her the choice of ordering pizza or having a home-cooked meal, and she actually chose a very healthy meal!  (Don't worry, we'll get our share of junk when Arden has his party, LOL!)

Charis decided to have an autumn theme for the party, so the menu included pulled pork made in the crock pot, squash bake, inside-out apple pie, and cinnamon bread.  She chose zucchini bars for her birthday cake, only we made them into muffins instead of bars so that each girl could frost her own and decorate it with chocolate chips and candy corn.

There were 7 other girls in attendance.  One of them, Amberly, was Charis's best friend for awhile, and then her (military) family moved to Virginia.  We had the opportunity to spend a day in Washington, D.C., with them when we did our big family trip last fall, but we hadn't seen each other since then.  As it turned out, the D family had planned to come to Ohio for a few days anyway!  The timing was just perfect, and Charis was thrilled that her dear friend could spend some time with her.  (We got together with her family and the C family, mutual friends, the day before the party, so the girls got even MORE time together!)  I was grateful that Angela and Brian were able to stay and help; Brian played with Lucan and Christopher, Amberly's little brother, and Angela was a huge help to me during our craft.

After dinner, the girls did a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood collecting non-perishable food items for a local food pantry.  Each type of item was worth a certain number of points.  The girls collected 4 bags full!  They were so excited about what they were doing.  I have no idea how the neighbors felt about it, LOL!

Then we did a craft--of course!  We used the Big Shot and dies to create "thanks" banners, which you can see the girls holding up in the photo.

Then it was time for cake and presents.  Charis requested zucchini bars with cream cheese frosting, so we made those into muffins and had the girls frost their own and decorate with chocolate chips and candy corn.  I must say, Charis's friends know her very well--every single gift had something to do with crafting!  One friend also gave her a couple of Beverly Cleary books, too.  Some of the craft kits included a bottle cap jewelry kit, a scrapbooking kit, a flower-making kit, and I don't know what else.  One girl even gave her 4 skeins of yarn!  Charis has been in craft heaven, especially since there is so much more organized space in our craft room, thanks to Mimi's hard work while she was here!  (I really wish I had taken BEFORE pictures so that I could post before and after shots!)

Then it was time to pile on the couch and watch The Princess Bride, and that took us to the end of the party!  I nursed Zaden toward the end of the movie, and we all went to bed by 11:20 (Lucan was put to bed two hours before that) and slept in the next day!  Even Zaden "slept in" until 6 am, which helped me recover from the party!

For more photos, go here.

October 20, 2011


It's a wonder we've gotten any school at all done the last two months!  It's been ridiculous!

Sept 6--Chiropractor
Sept 7--Zaden's 2-week check-up (with the sad news about his weight loss)
Sept 8--Tobin's allergy appointment
Sept 9--Arden's allergy appointment & Zaden's weight check
Sept 13--Zaden's weight check
Sept 16--Zaden's weight check
Sept 20--Charis, Tobin, and Arden's dental exams/cleanings
Sept 23 (a.m.)--Zaden's weight check
Sept 23 (p.m.)--Chiropractor

(One blissful week with NO appointments...and then...)

Oct 3--Chiropractor
Oct 11--Zaden's weight check (10 lbs, 3 oz:  2 pounds over birth weight!)
Oct 13--My 6-week post-partum check
Oct 17--Arden's allergy/asthma follow-up appointment
Oct 18--Chiropractor
Oct 19--Charis's orthodontist appointment
Oct 24 (a.m.)--Kenna and Lucan's dental check-ups/cleanings
Oct 24 (p.m.)--Zaden's 2-month well-baby check-up

I really should get my eyes checked...it's been about 2 1/2 years since my last eye appointment, and I am almost out of my contact supply.  The question is, do I just go ahead and order what I've been getting the last few years, since my prescription hasn't changed in ages, or should I wait until after I see an eye doctor?!  After these last couple of months, I'm not inclined to make ANY appointments for ANYONE anytime soon!!

October 09, 2011


I have been so blessed to have friends visit over the past month!  After Mom left on September 12, my good college friend Megan and her daughter Sela came for 4 days, which was a blessing since we were at the beginning of the whole nursing journey with Zaden.  They returned on September 29 for a long weekend visit.  The weather was horrible--cold and rainy--so we didn't really do much other than hang out around the house, but it was neat for Megan to be able to be here and see the progress that Zaden had made and was making: that was the weekend that he finally got the hang of nursing and I used the SNS for the last time!

Yesterday afternoon my dear friend Mimi and her daughter Krystiana (13) arrived from their road trip from Kansas.  I couldn't believe how tall Krystiana is!  She's beautiful, too, and it's been so fun spending time with both her and Mimi.  Lucan is in love with Krystiana and has to be with her ALL the time; it's amazing how well he pronounces her name, too!  It's very cute.  He seems drawn to older girls, as he also adores Sela, "Miss Jessica" (Stefanie's daughter), and Charis's friends who come to the house.  I may have to watch out for him, LOL!

Since I knew there would be another adult with me, I made plans for us to go to a fall festival yesterday evening at the church where Charis attends her American Heritage Girls meetings.  It was a beautiful day--almost too warm--and the kids enjoyed horse and pony rides (so cute to see Kenna and Lucan on the little ponies!), various inflatables, and lots of free junk food (!).  I never would have navigated something like that on my own!  For example, I stood in line with the stroller and Zaden for the pony rides while the kids went with Mimi to do some of the inflatables and get food.  There were enough people and activities that it would have been too overwhelming for me to try to keep track of everyone without extra eyes and hands.  (Pictures of the festival are here.)

We made it to both services at church this morning, and I had a nice long nap this afternoon while Mimi, Krystiana, and Charis worked on the office--which was a total disaster area from all of Charis's projects!  From the sounds of things, they are making grand progress...we should have taken some "before" pictures so I could post before and after shots!  It was HORRIBLE!  It stressed me out just walking into that room!  Charis informed me she wanted me to wait to see it when it's finished, so after Zaden finishes nursing, I will dutifully go to the kitchen to work on dinner, LOL.

Tomorrow some of my downline members are coming over to meet and visit with Mimi for an informal potluck lunch.  Tuesday I take Zaden for his weight check/follow-up appointment.  Other than that, we don't have plans, and it is SO fun to just hang out with Mimi and catch up.  We were good last night and went to bed at 11:15 after Zaden finished nursing.  (He slept until 6:00 this morning!  Woohoo!)  Usually when we're together we don't get much sleep!  I'm already sad that she'll be leaving Thursday morning to drive back home!  But then I can look forward to Megan's next visit, which is tentatively planned for the last weekend in October, assuming everyone is healthy and the weather is good.  She lives close enough that it's not too bad of a drive, and it's kind of a vacation for her, with only one child of her own to worry about!

Grandma J will then come and spend the week of Thanksgiving with us, which will be SO much fun.  I'm not sure yet when my parents will come for another visit, but I'm hoping sometime in December so we can do a "Christmas" with them, though my dad has to work the week of Christmas itself.  And then in January Ted will be here for 2 weeks of R&R!!!  By that point we will be 8 months into this deployment, so when he goes back to Afghanistan, we'll be on the downhill stretch.  I'm hoping and praying that time speeds by in the meantime!

October 05, 2011

School Daze

And I do mean "daze!"  That's what it's like trying to homeschool while nursing a newborn around the clock, LOL!  But I'm just so thankful that Zaden is nursing that I can't complain.  Anyway, here is a quick school update.

The kids have been doing math for about 4 weeks now.  Charis is about 2/3 of the way through the Math-U-See Epsilon book, and Tobin just has a few more lessons in Delta.  Arden began Delta and is sailing through the beginning lessons introducing division, which is a piece of cake when you know your multiplication facts!  And Kenna is delighted to have her own math book this year, as she has started the Primer.  The first lessons are basically number identification, and as she has been counting pretty well for awhile, I know she could easily whip through this book, too.  But I'm happy to take things slowly!

We introduced language arts 2 1/2 weeks ago, but this is going much more slowly than math.  Charis's vocabulary workbook seems to have gone AWOL, which is incredibly frustrating to me!  I know I ordered it!  I have no idea where it could be, though!  She is still working on a writing assignment that I wanted her to finish last week.  She just has no concept of keeping her assignment to 2-3 paragraphs, LOL!  More like 2-3 pages!  Whenever she does finish, I will have her publish it on her blog. 

Last week we actually began our history and Bible curriculum.  We read about Simon Bolivar, the liberator of South America, and this week we read about Jan Matzileger--neither of whom I ever learned about in school.  Fascinating!  We also began our literature read-aloud, Moccasin Trail.  And this week we finally began science.  I've told myself that if we get through half of the core before Ted returns from his deployment, then we'll be doing well!  If we accomplish more than that, then that will be great, but I'm not going to kill myself to do it!

In addition to her math book, Kenna is also working on handwriting, and we're reading through the wonderful books I ordered for her from Sonlight's early learners core.  Sometimes Lucan listens in as well.  I usually am nursing Zaden when this happens, so it works out quite well.

As for extra-curricular activities, the kids continue their piano lessons on Thursday mornings.  I am SO thankful that Mrs. D comes to our house!  Thursday afternoons they attend a homeschool P.E. class at a nearby community rec center.  Stefanie picks them up and takes them to class, and then they go home with her to play for awhile.  This gives me a consistent time one afternoon a week to try to get a nap, as I can get Lucan and Zaden napping at the same time and lie down while Kenna watches a movie.  Charis and Tobin are working their way through Draw Squad, an incredible resource.  I thought Charis was a pretty good little artist before--she's amazing now!  When Tobin saw the book, he immediately said he wanted to go through it, too...I hadn't realized it was consumable, so I ended up ordering him his own copy, and he is beginning to do lessons as well.  I love that they are learning these skills without any time or effort on my part!

Aside from what little actual school work we've been able to do lately, the kids are getting a lot of practice with home ec!  From doing laundry to helping with Zaden and other housework, they are definitely not lacking for things to do!

October 03, 2011

Praise God!

Well, it would seem that we are officially free from the Supplemental Nursing System!  It has been well over 48 hours since I needed to use it.  Zaden has been nursing very well, waking up enough to suck efficiently, and we are settling into a new normal that does not involve so much time and preparation with each feeding.  Praise the Lord!  I am so thankful for this answer to prayer, and I confess that it comes a little sooner than I was expecting...I was prepared (finally) to continue using the SNS and pumping for another couple of weeks.  It's amazing to me how he just turned the corner all of a sudden, but I shouldn't be surprised.  Our God is good like that!  I am in awe of how far we have come in less than 4 weeks.  It's hard to believe that it was only 26 days ago that I stood in the doctor's office crying when I realized my baby had lost so much weight in one week's time.

What a blessing it has been to have so many people praying for us and encouraging me in this journey.  I know it means a lot to Ted also to know that I have this kind of support, both near and far, since he cannot be here physically to help. 

I look forward to seeing Zaden continue to grow and discovering more of his sweet personality.  I'm also excited that we can finally settle into a new normal--knowing our schedule will change every so often as Zaden's needs change--but finally we can be more free to go out and about and enjoy life outside the walls of this house!

October 01, 2011

More Progress!

Daily we are seeing progress with Zaden's feeding habits!  Today I only used the SNS twice, I think, and that was just on one side, after it was clear that he was too sleepy or just not sucking enough.  So my new approach is to attempt just nursing him, paying close attention to what he is doing, and only use the SNS if needed.  We've also noticed that his feedings need to be stretched out a bit--he seems to do better when it's at LEAST 3 hours if not a little more between feedings.  Therefore, I want to be sure he's getting enough at those feedings!  The baby scale has helped with the decision-making process with this, especially when he's really sleepy and I just can't tell if he has really had enough.

I am hopeful that when the 2 weeks are up and I need to take the pump back to the hospital we will indeed be finished with it.  I can, of course, request an extension, but it would be nice not to have to do so.  Time will tell!