Why THIS mom didn't meet her breastfeeding goals.

I just read a post over on PhD in Parenting that has me kind of fuming. My thoughts are far too long to include as a comment, so I’m writing about it here instead.

I have resolved a lot of my feelings about this over the last four years, but I’ve had this come up a couple of times recently and Annie’s post was enlightening in a way that no other breastfeeding information ever has been. This list of reasons (that are identified as myths in Annie’s post) why women are encouraged to supplement with formula in hospital that reopened the frustrated wounds of my failed breastfeeding experience:

  • Your baby is hungry
  • You were sleeping and I didn’t want to wake you, so I just gave him a bit of formula.
  • Your milk hasn’t come in yet. We’d better get him on a bottle.
  • Your baby has low blood sugar.
  • Your baby is crying a lot.
  • Colustrum has no nutritional value.
  • It will cure jaundice.
  • Maybe if he has a bit of formula, he’ll know what it feels like to have a full tummy and that will make him interested in nursing.
  • Your baby’s blood sugar is too low.
  • Since English isn’t your mother tongue, you should really just formula feed.

The three that are bolded? Those are all things that I was told or led to believe. Let me back up and tell you a bit more of my story interspersed with information I have learned since giving birth.

I have polycystic ovarian syndrom (PCOS). I was diagnosed 10 years ago after miscarrying my first child. (Wow…I would have a nearly ten year old this year if that hadn’t gone the way it did.) My GP who was caring for me until I got to 30 weeks should have been closely monitoring me for signs of gestational diabetes, including ordering the GD testing early - at 24 weeks or earlier instead of the usual 28/29.

I entered the diabetes clinic, was monitored for blood sugar regularity and size of the baby. At 37 weeks, when an ultrasound estimated that Brandon was about 9 pounds, I left the ultrasound clinic in tears, knowing that my doctor was going to recommend c-section. She scared me into it and that’s all I’ll say about that. Yes, my son was 10.5lbs at birth, but women CAN give birth naturally to large babies - it’s not the end of the world. I did not want a section. I was (and still am) terrified of surgery. Should we decide to have another, I will go for VBAC - no doubt in my mind.

Prior to giving birth or even being pregnant, I did a significant amount of reading about PCOS, the symptoms and effects on my body/life and how to manage it. Not once did I ever read anything about low milk supply. I have no idea how that significant and frustrating fact escaped me. It wasn’t until my pre-op, 5 days before my surgery that the nurse (also a lactation consultant) raised the red flag to me. 

I went home in tears. I was having a c-section, which is known to complicate breastfeeding AND I had a broken body that may not work right. Talk about stress and frustration and bad timing!

Fast forward to nearly a week later. I’m blissfully unpregnant, staying as still as possible so as not to disturb my incision and my Friday night nurse makes a helpful suggestion. Brandon really isn’t getting enough to eat from me. He’s wanting food more often than every three hours (no mention of the possibility of breastfeeding on demand). She offers to help me with lact-aid. Brilliant! I can supplement and still get the benefits of breastfeeding. 

We did this Friday and all day Saturday until the night nurse arrived in my room just after Matt left for the day for the regular feeding. She immediately started to tell me that I needed to decide what I was going to do when I got home because we couldn’t do lact-aid at home. Oh, did I mention that this was about 11:00pm? Yeah, her timing was awesome. Not to mention that she didn’t once tell us WHY we couldn’t do it at home.

She delivered this news while she also informed me that I was doing everything wrong, despite the fact that my son had latched like a champ for two days with no problem. She proceeded to put her hands in front of his face so I couldn’t see what I was doing to get him latched on. This resulted in repeated failure to get him situated. She even shoved the lact-aid tube so far into his mouth that she choked him once. He had his first screaming fit that night thanks to the nurse from hell. And I had my first breakdown. 

After she left the room and Brandon was settled, I called Matt in tears. He returned to the hospital and found said nurse to have a little talk with her. Then he stayed with me until 2:00am when we were to do the next feeding so that he could handle the lact-aid without needing the nurse from hell to help. This didn’t stop her from barging in my room and delivering pamphlets on how to bottle feed and the process to sterilize bottles. I refused to say a word or even look her in the eye, I was so angry. Her audacity still amazes me. If I had a baby in that hospital today and she walked into my room as my nurse, I would tell her to go switch with someone else. I can’t believe someone like that is allowed to work in a birth unit.

The day after, shift change brought a kinder more level-headed nurse who gently explained that lact-aid had to be used with the supervision of a certified lactation consultant. Ah. Okay. She helpfully provided some formula samples and we packed up and left the hospital and made a trip to the drug store to rent a breast pump and purchase bottles and formula, which I hadn’t bought before because I hadn’t planned to use them.

Five days post-partum (and the day after we were released), I attended the hospital’s breastfeeding clinic where the LC recommended that I obtain some Blessed Thistle, Fenugreek and ask my GP for a prescription of Domperidone. I stopped at the health food store on the way home for my herbs and called my doctor right away. Her nurse practitioner called me back to say that she wouldn’t give me the prescription despite the fact that all eight OB/GYNs at the hospital I where I gave birth recommend it for helping with low milk supply. I never went back to that GP again. 

I was able to obtain a prescription from my OB for domperidone, but not until a full two weeks post-partum. The herbal supplements had already helped, and I saw a difference with domperidone, but no one ever told me to just let the baby nurse as much as possible or feed on demand. I was told to feed him for 15 minutes on each side, then pump for 15 minutes. The process was exhausting and it really didn’t help my milk supply improve.

Little chronological side note: At my six week checkup, my OB saw something made her question me - it’s a symptom of my PCOS and I told her I had it. My GP had not informed her when she referred me to the OB. That cemented my decision to never go to that GP again. Lesson learned, though: Do not assume your doctor is doing their job well - they could be missing key steps that have a big impact. My OB needed that information while I was pregnant, not after.

I took domperidone for eight weeks. I didn’t risk asking for more than that because my OB was annoyed that she had to be the one to prescribe it. We rented the breast pump for eight weeks. But because we were buying more formula all the time, and the domperidone had run out, I returned it. I’d continue giving Brandon breast milk as long as it lasted and let nature guide me.

At just shy of three months, Brandon turned away from me for the last time, refusing my milk because there just wasn’t any there. The drip, drip of that faucet was quickly silenced and as much as I tried to tell myself I did everything I could, I knew there was probably more I could have done.

I wasn’t wrong, as I’ve learned in the years since. I may never have been able to build the milk supply needed to breastfeed my son exclusively, but I think the system failed me in a number of ways. It’s been a learning experience that will inform my decisions in future should we have another child, but it frustrates me to no end that I could have and should have had a better chance.

Maybe by sharing my experience other moms can learn from the mistakes I made in ignorance. But most of all, follow your gut. First time moms should have a voice that is every bit as loud and confident as second, third, etc. moms. If something is bothering you or you disagree, speak up. If your doctor or other caregiver isn’t giving you rational reasons for their recommendations, find another opinion and don’t put it off. Do your research, because you have to be your own biggest advocate in all areas of health - for you and for your child(ren).

A weekend that does not bear repeating, but we survived!

This past weekend started out pretty darn good. Friday afternoon, I got to leave work early because we’re on summer hours now. I got home and felt asleep, waking up just in the nick of time to go pick up Brandon from daycare. I hadn’t intended to take a nap, but those are the best kind - I clearly needed it. Unfortunately, it only goes downhill from there (sort of).

Saturday morning, I woke up feeling fine, but developed a migraine thanks to the weather that we’ve been having in abundance. It was the kind of migraine that no amount of pills will get rid of - you just have to sleep it off. Matt finally shooed me away around 11:00 and said he would take Brandon out to the park to play. After promising to have lunch ready on their return, I trudged upstairs back to bed and fell almost immediately to sleep - for two and a half hours.

I was just waking up as Matt was laying down for a well-deserved nap. He asked why I hadn’t prepped lunch before he dropped off. I kinda felt bad, but he did just fine on his own so I didn’t let the guilt eat me up too much. When Brandon woke up, I let Matt continue sleeping while I took advantage of a little one-on-one time for myself. When I got him out of bed, I noticed that his eye was swollen so I made a mental note to ask Matt if something had happened while they were out earlier in the day. Brandon and I had a good time; snack and part of a movie, then we went to go play outside and he decided he wanted to go for a walk. I was extremely pleased that he sat in his Chariot so well for me - he gives his Daddy a hard time about it.

The rest of the night went pretty much like normal, but I was a little concerned about the swollen eye. Matt hadn’t seen him get bit or hit his eye on anything, so we didn’t know what was going on. He’d been exposed to pink eye recently, but the white of his eye was perfectly clear, so I was pretty sure that wasn’t it. I convinced myself that he’d be fine in the morning and put him to bed.

That night I had a dream - and I rarely remember my dreams - that his eye was far worse in the morning. I won’t describe my dream; it was not pretty. It wasn’t accurate either, but I think part of me must have known that something more serious was going on. When I went in to get Brandon up Sunday morning, I could see before I even turned on the light that his eye was completely swollen shut. I called out to Matt that we didn’t have to figure out what we were going to do for the day, that we were definitely going to CHEO.

This part of the weekend I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, it’s incredibly stressful to have to wait for your two-year-old to be assessed in an emergency department full of lots of interesting gadgets he’s not allowed to touch.

It’s frustrating to have two different doctors and the nurse give you three different versions of what to do and when. It’s disorienting to have a fourth nurse (student?) who doesn’t really communicate with you at all - and who is more focused on getting vitals than acknowledging that her young patient is exhausted and is simply not in the frame of mind to cooperate.

Don’t get me wrong; I have a great respect and appreciation for CHEO and its presence in Ottawa. And I don’t think Brandon had poor care at all. We just had some communication challenges that eventually got worked out. The only lingering concern I have was that the doctors both told us several times that they didn’t know what was wrong with Brandon’s eye. They were going forward with aggressive treatment for infection, but he didn’t seem to have one based on the blood work. But with a fever and the swelling as bad as it was around his eye, they didn’t want to take any chances with waiting for further testing. They didn’t mention they suspected it was cellulitis if it was an infection. They didn’t mention that if it was cellulitis that it was was worrisome enough that they wanted to go directly to intravenous antibiotics rather than oral or injections. They did say that they were taking it seriously because his eye was affected, though, and I am extremely thankful for that.

My feelings about this whole episode are more positive toward my husband and son. Matt is, quite simply, a rock when it comes to medical stuff. Matt just does what needs to be done - no drama, no whining. I love that about him. On the other hand, I am a complete wimp. I can barely handle getting a needle myself and I had to talk myself through it and remember to breathe and not look as they’re putting an IV into my little boy’s hand.

His poor hand looks like they used about two rolls of tape on it. It had to be cut off with scissors because the nurse had trouble pulling it off. He had this getup on for 18 hours.They couldn’t get the blood they needed for testing from the IV site, so they had to take it separately from his other arm. My poor little monkey was held down by his mom, his dad and two strange nurses for about 20 minutes as we tried to make all this without hurting him. He was tethered by the IV pole for several hours while we waited for the blood test results and then waited for the first dose of antibiotics - we did a LOT of waiting throughout Sunday.

Given the situation, Brandon was extremely well-behaved. I could not be more proud of him. He occasionally tried to pull off the dressings and IV, but he didn’t get too worked up when we wouldn’t let him. He finally stopped trying to pull it off and just held up his arm and said, “take off.” That’s my smart boy! We finally got the all clear to leave the hospital around 2:30 with instructions to return 8 hours later for his second dose and a warning that we’d have to come back Monday morning for a third. I didn’t care about interrupting my sleep, because I’m a big girl and I can adjust. I wasn’t thrilled about the disruption to Brandon’s routine, but we really had no choice.

Sunday night was weird. We puttered around doing chores, but we just had this feeling of constant waiting. Waiting to see if Brandon’s eye was any better. Waiting to go back to the hospital. Waiting to find out if they figured out what was wrong.

At promptly 9:00pm, Matt and I had everything ready to go and all we had to do was whisk Brandon out of bed and into the car. He was not a happy camper, but I got him calmed down with food and a movie in the car. (Yay for movies in the car!) By the time we got back to the hospital, he was in a pretty cheerful mood. We found out in triage that the infection was cellulitis. (I already gave that one away a few paragraphs ago, but this was the first time we’d been told.) We waited some more, though not as long as everyone else, because we had to keep those antibiotics on schedule. And they did a great job getting us in and out of there as quickly as possible. CHEO is across town from our house - 20 minutes minimum if there’s no traffic. Round trip, it took us less than two hours, thank goodness.

The nurses who helped us were much easier around children and Brandon really took to them, saying “take off” when they started unwrapping the dressings that covered his IV. Then he told them “thank you” before we left and I think his nurse fell a little bit in love with him - the flirt! With orders to return in 8 hours, i.e. by 5:30 the next morning, we headed home to put Brandon to bed. His eye was definitely improving and we were all feeling better.

By the next morning, his eye was doing a lot better; it was almost down to where it was when I first saw the swelling on Saturday afternoon, but I wasn’t optimistic that this would mean we’d get to switch to oral antibiotics yet. But I was wrong! I was so glad to be wrong, too. Brandon had his last dose of antibiotics injected into the IV and then they took it out completely.

As bored and uncomfortable as he was, Brandon’s spirits were quite good most of the time we were waiting. I’m so proud of him.In the grand scheme of life, this was a pretty minor blip on the radar. Sure, the infection was pretty severe and might have caused some serious and long-term problems if left untreated, but we were fortunate to catch it early enough and get treatment started quickly. What I took away from this experience is a greater respect for the challenges that parents of sick children face. There is nothing easy about having to confine a child to a hospital room for a few hours; I can’t imagine how difficult it is if they have to stay for longer periods. It’s scary to have so many different people coming in and out of your room, but the doctors and nurses at the children’s hospital are so good at gaining the little ones’ trust. (Even though Brandon wouldn’t give his doctor “five”.)

I’ve also, once again, learned how adaptable my child can be. When faced with an unknown situation, he certainly balks at it, but when he knows there is no getting around it he just lives with it. He doesn’t cry and scream and sulk at every turn; he tries to find ways to make the new path fun. I know some adults who can’t even say that much. I feel so much pride after watching him this weekend - not for anything I’ve done, but for who he is as a person. I hope that Matt and I learn to do a good job of nurturing these positive traits he’s showing.

Journey to Motherhood Part 1: Unexpected Change of Plans

Growing up, I always knew I wanted children. In fact, I wanted a big family. I grew up in the south in the Bible belt and there were large families everywhere. My parents, my two brothers and I were considered a pretty smallish family and though my mom actually wanted more children, it didn’t happen for her. 

My husband and I got married fairly young. In 2000, I was 23, he was 27 and by this time, my goals had changed and I knew I wanted to work outside the home, so having a large family wouldn’t be a financially viable option for us. Two kids – that perfect nuclear family – was my revised dream. I was no longer set on having kids young. Waiting five to ten years so Matt and I would have time alone together seemed like a good plan. 

Imagine my shock in February 2002 when I started to suspect I was pregnant. Part of me was secretly thrilled. A new life! A little baby! It was so exciting. The rest of me was kinda terrified. We had school loans to pay off, other debts because we both moved to Ottawa from our respective hometowns, so we were essentially starting life all over and that's expensive. I was starting fresh in a new country, I didn't make that much money and how could we live with me getting only 55% of my salary for a year? We also couldn’t afford childcare once I did go back to work. Financially, the timing of the baby was not good. But I kept saying to myself that we’d figure it out. We’d find a way because there’s always a way.

At first, I didn’t share my suspicions with Matt. I waited until I could do a pregnancy test and while he was still asleep one weekend, I did the test.

It was positive.

My stomach sort of sank into my toes when I saw the result. I was a bit scared to tell Matt. But there was still that thrilled part of me that hoped he would be happy about the baby. This was an unwise expectation. We weren’t even discussing planning or trying to have a child, so why would he be anything other than shocked? I told him the news and he was stunned. I made an appointment at the clinic to have the pregnancy confirmed. 

By the time we got the results, I was only about 6 weeks pregnant. My due date was November 7th, 2002. I didn’t want to tell anyone, but Matt did. He was still unsure about our changing situation, but I think he was beginning to accept this unexpected development in our lives. We told all of our family, friends and co-workers.

The first trimester was fairly easy on me. I couldn’t stand the taste of coffee, which is just as well since I needed to cut it out anyway. I didn’t have much morning sickness at all and I ate like there was no tomorrow, sadly gaining about 15 pounds in two months. That part wasn’t cool. Neither was the utter exhaustion. I never realized a body could get that tired and still function!

When I was in my 12th week, I went to the dentist for a filling. The appointment had been made months prior and it didn’t even occur to me to cancel it. I know, it’s good to visit the dentist and continue dental care while pregnant, but that doesn’t mean you have to have fillings. I am a full-on, 100% wimp and I’m not afraid to admit it. I had never, up to that point in my life, had a filling done without gas or by any dentist other than the man I’d been going to practically my entire life. Unfortunately, his practice was down in Tallahassee, FL and I was in Ottawa, so I couldn’t go to him AND I was pregnant, so they couldn’t use the gas. 

I walked into the dentist office and burst into tears as I told them with shaking hands that I wasn’t sure if I could do this. The receptionist smiled sympathetically and told me that I was the second one to come in with that problem that day. She said if I didn’t feel up to it that it was fine. 

I didn’t want to be a wimp. I wanted to buck up and be adult about this. I was 24, not 4. I needed to grow up and be responsible. I let them do the filling. In hindsight, I should have walked away, though. Heck, they should have sent me home! I was clearly in no state to have a dental procedure done. I sat in the chair with my fists clenched and my back muscles tightening more and more with every second they were grinding on my teeth. When the filling was finally done, I was actually sore and emotionally wasted. I vowed that I would never go for a filling again while pregnant. The experience was so horrible for me that getting a cleaning done in future pregnancies was definitely an iffy prospect as well.

The next day when I came home from work, I found that I had started bleeding. I called my mother, panicked and wanting her to be able to tell me it was going to be all right – that I wasn’t going to lose my baby. But how could she? I asked her if I needed to go to the hospital or the doctor. (I really didn’t want to go.) She said that if I was having a miscarriage there is nothing they could do to stop it. I think I knew as soon as the bleeding started that this wasn’t going to end well. Three days later, I finally went to the hospital because the bleeding got heavier and I was having a lot of cramping (or contractions, since I was essentially giving birth). 

The ER doctor confirmed that she couldn’t find a baby or a heartbeat and that she felt I had miscarried. I had to go for a follow-up ultrasound with a technician to confirm her findings two days later. I had the ultrasound in one building and was sent back to the hospital’s ER department for the doctor to give me the results. In triage, the nurse who spoke with me told me that it didn’t look like I’d had a "spontaneous abortion", one of the medical terms for miscarriage. I began to hope that the baby was okay – maybe the first doctor had made a mistake!

Then we were called back to the exam room and the doctor gave us the news that the baby was gone. All I could think was, "Why the hell did that nurse tell me it wasn't?" On the way home from the hospital, Matt told me that it felt surreal. We’d just gotten used to the idea of having a baby, we were starting to get really excited about it, and all of the sudden the baby was just...gone. 

I grieved hard for that baby. In my mind, she was always a girl. We hadn’t been able to agree on a boy’s name, but we had picked a girl’s name – Jennifer Leigh. Eight years later, I can’t imagine having a seven-year-old running around. Our life would be vastly different today if my first pregnancy had not ended the way it did and it is still surreal to think about. I felt like a mother, but I didn't have a baby to hold. My views of motherhood changed dramatically and I wanted a baby more than anything. I no longer wanted to wait for years before trying. Wisely, Matt insisted on waiting.

He was right - I wasn't ready after the loss of our first.

I'm going public

 

Usually the phrase “going public” is used in terms of some famous celebrity who has a big scandal, serious illness or some other *very important* piece of information they feel the world needs to know about. Or, in business, it refers to a company that is ready to hit the market and make everyone a ton of money. As I’m not famous and no one really cares about my personal issues, and I don’t own a company that will have me rolling in it for the rest of my life through an IPO, all I’ve got is my struggle with my health.

Right this minute, it’s 9:59am on September 20, 2009 and I’ve been in pain since Friday evening. Prior to Friday, I have had this pain off and on for a couple of months. I know exactly what it is: it’s my gallbladder. I had my first gallbladder attack last Halloween. Instead of showing off my little 7 month old in his first costume, we spent that night in the ER. Prior to the nurse asking me if I still had my gallbladder, I was trying my best not to panic with the fear that I was dying. When she asked that question, I was immediately able to calm down and stop assuming that I had a spontaneously punctured lung or a terminal heart problem.

I didn’t take that gallbladder attack seriously and that is why I’m in pain this weekend. When I saw my GP after my ER visit, she said that I should go about eating normally and that it was probably due to my recent pregnancy - gallbladder attacks are fairly common during and post-pregnancy. (Hormones are so annoying, eh?) I was already seeing a dietitian to help me balance my diet for the treatment of my Polycycstic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), so there wasn’t any need to worry about the gallbladder issue, since it would respond well to the PCOS treatment anyway.

I was seeing the dietitian from November 2008 until March 2009. I had to cancel one appointment and before I called to reschedule, I got laid off from my job. That effectively ended the possibility of further appointments since the expense of a dietitian really isn’t an absolute essential. While I was seeing her, though, I’d had both extreme success - losing 8 pounds in one month - and unfortunate setbacks. The setback was minor - only a 1lb. weight loss the month after losing 8. However, it was due to having to discontinue taking Meridia, which was an extremely helpful aid to me. Because it was preventing me from sleeping, I had to stop taking it and that discouraged me a great deal. I tried to think about it positively by telling myself that it’s better not to be dependent on pills or other weight loss “shortcuts”.

Something that I realized today - yeah, it takes me a while - is that I’ve been stressed almost constantly for the last three years or so. The list of reasons starts with my mom’s very sudden and unexpected death, having to put a cat down, buying/building a house, buying a new car, moving into a new house, getting pregnant, getting a promotion, having a baby, working while on maternity leave, going back to work (and optimistic about it), getting back to work and realizing my optimism was misplaced, trying to improve my overall health (and expecting too much too soon), getting laid off in a down economy - and during the summer when no one hires anyway, fearing losing my house, pressures from neighbors to build fences we can’t afford, etc., etc. I tend to “take things in stride” and not get panicked about them, even though that isn’t how my body responds. I was reading this morning about the signs of chronic stress and realized that I have almost all of them:

  • Headaches…check (almost daily and often migraines)!
  • Frequent upset stomach, indigestion, gas pain, diarrhea, or appetite changes…check!
  • Feeling as though you might cry…check (I sometimes do)!
  • Muscular tension…check (especially in my neck and shoulders, which causes headaches, too)!
  • Tightness in your chest and a feeling that you can’t catch your breath…check!
  • Feeling nervous or sad…check!
  • Feeling irritable and angry…check! (Even if I am only upset about being laid off.)
  • Having problems at work or in your normal relationships…check! Matt and I are happy together, but I think we’ve had more instances of strain this summer than just about any other time in our relationship.
  • Sleep disturbance: either insomnia or hypersomnia (sleeping too much)…check!
  • Apathy (lack of interest, motivation or energy)…check! (Fortunately, it’s not constant, but comes and goes, so I do get stuff done.)
  • Mental or physical fatigue…check! Matt told me I needed to get a job soon because my brain was turning to mush. It’s a little joke we’ve had for months, but apparently it’s no joke.
  • Frequent illness…check! Though, surprisingly, this did ease up not long after my layoff…interesting. And Brandon was ill for most of the time I was as well - my poor, stressed baby…haha!
  • Hives or skin rashes…thank goodness, I’ve avoided this one. :)
  • Tooth grinding…check! Mind you, I’m a tooth grinder and have been all my life. I think my personality is one that bottles up stress internally and it comes out in “little” ways like this.
  • Feeling faint or dizzy…check! Fortunately infrequently and I’d like to keep it that way.
  • Ringing in the ears…check! Who knew? I’ve always wondered why that happened.
  • Disruptions/skips in menstrual cycle; unusually severe PMS or menopausal symptoms - AND that’s not one I’m going to address, because I’m just not willing to publish that kind of information in a public forum!

I got this list from The Flat Belly Diet, which I am about to implement as a diet regime to help me get in shape. Sure, there are faddy promises made in the book, but it appeals to me because I like having certain things laid out really clearly rather than obscure directives that I have to interpret for myself. This book lays it all out and that is what works for me. It’s also a well-balanced and not excessively restrictive diet to follow.

Here’s the kicker for me. When I got pregnant, I weighed approximately 220-225 pounds. (In case you hadn’t guessed, we’re at the “going public” part of this post now - who puts THAT number out on the Web for the world to see? Apparently me, if you’re reading this.) I gained somewhere between 35-40 pounds throughout. I tried to keep it down to about 25, and even got in trouble in my first trimester because I didn’t gain so much as an ounce over a month between two appointments. For someone like me, who gains weight looking at food, it was pretty astonishing when that happened. I thought I was eating a lot, but clearly I wasn’t eating more than I was burning.

My third trimester was rough - not in terms of being pregnant; that part I loved - but for weight gain, that’s when most of it happened. I actually gained 5 pounds in two weeks, which was my highest (and most embarrassing) gain. I was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes (GD), which didn’t come as a huge surprise since I already knew I had PCOS. Most women with GD aren’t treated with insulin shots anymore; it’s controlled with diet. The biggest risk with GD is that the baby can grow to be quite large. The average size for a newborn baby is somewhere between 6-8lbs. My son was 10.5lbs. He was also born by Caesarean section, though I’d wanted to have a natural (minimal intervention) birth. I am terrified of needles and pain and having to have my first surgery in order to have my first child was incredibly stressful and, to a certain extent, disappointing for me.

The combination of having PCOS and a C-section left me pretty much unable to produce enough milk for Brandon, yet another disappointment. Between that and the GD, I knew I needed to get my health in order before I tried having another child. This year was supposed to be all about the goal of good health. As I’ve written before, it didn’t work out. Whose fault was that? Mine. Have I kept up my half-year resolution? No. Why is it important now? Because I know if something doesn’t change I’m going to create severe and long-lasting health problems for myself. I’m quite literally in a do-or-die situation.

It’s now 10:53am and it’s been almost exactly an hour since I went down to the basement to jump on the Wii Fit to weigh myself. I was convinced that I would be hovering around 235lbs. To my incredible surprise, I weighed in at 229.4lbs. On August 12th - the last time I weighed myself - I was 232 - my highest non-pregnancy, non-still-trying-to-lose-pregnancy weight ever. So, despite the odds, I’ve actually lost a couple of pounds and while I’m not proud of my eating habits of the last month, I am certainly grateful that they haven’t been entirely detrimental.

My ideal weight is something around the 150-160 range. BMI calculators say 120-130, but I have big bones (yes, for real) and only anorexia would get me down to 120. My original goal at the beginning of this year was to lose a respectable and realistic 40lbs, with the plan of losing another 40 in 2010. At not even a pound a week, that should be EASY to do. Instead, I’ve been yo-yo’ing my way from 236, down to 220 and now back up to 230 again. So, I’ve set a new goal for myself: to focus on eating healthy and avoid the foods that harm me. If I do that, I am sure I can lose 4lbs. by October 20th…that’s including my favorite eating holiday of the year - Thanksgiving (for Canada). Thank goodness so much of what I do for Thanksgiving can easily be made really healthy.

So, I’ve done it…I’ve put one of those numbers that you never reveal - age, weight, salary - out there for the world to see. Oh, here’s another: I’m 32 and I’ve been told I’ll have diabetes by 40 if I don’t do something about it now. See? Do or die. I’m 32 and I am about 80lbs. overweight and this is about making some major changes to my life that are long overdue.

 

A la carte entry, i.e., a lot of random stuff...'cause it's been over two weeks

I won't get into two weeks worth of stuff - that's too much to write about. But I've been busy dealing with illness - first Brandon's and then before he was well, mine. He's doing much better now and I'm getting there, too. Stomach flu in a 1 year old is not fun. Though I did come up with an idea for Pampers - diarrhea diapers. I really think they should design a diaper that extends up to about the baby’s armpits and perhaps make the band around the top similar to the leg openings to prevent further leakage. Then, extend the leg opening down the thigh, also to prevent leakage. I would totally buy this diaper and I'm thinking most othe would too. It would save embarrassment, laundry and, most importantly, time. Because who has time to do laundry when you’ve got a needy, clingy, sick baby to take care of? Anyway, the idea’s out there - take it and run with it.

I took Brandon with me to the mall today to try to find a pair of overalls. We went to The Bay and I've always been frustrated by how close together they put their clothing racks in the baby department. Hello - stroller central. They really need plenty of room between them! Well, I was shocked when I went in there today and there was enough room to move around...halla-freakin'-lujah! It's about time. That is until I tried to go down one of the two or three aisles they have in that department. To make room for the racks, they shoved all the aisles really close together so now you can just barely fit a stroller through (that's one stroller - forget about ever trying to fit two). I wasn't going to say anything about it until Brandon decided to stick his arm out of the stroller right as I passed by a mirrored wall. His arm got caught between the wall and the stroller and pulled back at an unnatural angle. He wasn't seriously hurt, but he wasn't happy either. So, I found an associate to mention my concerns to. She was very nice and has kids of her own so understood and related to my concerns. I just hope The Bay and other retailers will get a clue and stop cramming so much in baby departments that you can't safely get through when you have your children with you. It's really enough to make me stop shopping at certain places.

I'm trying to think of a business to start - one that I can grow slowly while I'm working full time and eventually be able to generate enough that I can quit my job. I'd just like to have more freedom to choose how I spend my time and do things that I'm interested in professionally. I'd also like to be able to spend more time with my family. Of course, starting a business is a lot of work, so I'm not sure how I can pull it off. I do have an idea that I'm pretty keen on, but I need to do some research to figure out if it's viable.

Last but definitely not least, I want to give a quick shout out to the West-Carleton Family Health Team where Brandon's doctor is located. I called Friday for a last-minute appointment at 11:45. I was booked in for a 12:45 appt. (lunch hour), arrived at 12:33, was called back at 12:35 and was in the car leaving by 12:55. I've heard so many stories lately from people who have been forced to wait ages to see the doctor that I must say that this office is very prompt and considerate when it comes to people's time. Doctors do important work, but it doesn't mean that they should be over-booking to the point that patients wait hours for treatment. It makes me uncomfortable when this happens, because I know that the doctor is overloaded, will likely rush me through my appointment and could very well miss crucial details. This is, of course, true of any profession when someone is overworked. I'm just so very thankful that - so far - this team of doctors manages time and patient loads well. Kudos to them!