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November 6, 2014

Jayda’s Story: An Update

 

Pregnancies do not always go as planned. Amy’s water broke when she was just 33 weeks pregnant. Her baby, Jayda, was born less than a day later. After 2 weeks in Neonatal Intensive Care, Jayda was able to come home. If you missed her story, you can catch up here.

Many of you have wondered how little Jayda has progressed. We asked Amy for an 18-month update. Here is what she had to say:

 

 

My last blog post ended with my little preemie being only 2 months old and so petite. To think back to where we were a year ago, it’s just mind boggling how so many things have changed – Jayda Joy being the biggest change and adjustment.

 

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Jayda’s First Year

She stayed in her tiny preemie stage for roughly 4 months, but then after that she took off rapidly. The nurses and doctors could not believe how her development literally skyrocketed over a 2-3 month span. I was very thankfully to breastfeed her for a few months, but then my milk supply seemed to be lacking. I tried everything in the book to give it a boost but it just wasn’t working. This is when I reminded myself to do what is best for me and Jayda.

Around the 4 month mark, when she really started growing, I was doing both breastfeeding and formula. This combination was fantastic for us both. Jayda was now sleeping better and I wasn’t stressed anymore about producing enough milk. We were both happier. By doing a bit of both, this also made the weaning process SO much simpler. She had no problem making the adjustment to the bottle and now the sippy cup.

Looking back, there were times I was very disappointed I couldn’t produce more milk myself, however seeing how well Jayda was growing and developing I had no reason to complain. We may have done things differently than other moms, but it worked great for us. The first year is so full of change and adjustment and I kept reminding myself not to stress about stuff I didn’t need to stress about. Do what is best for you and your baby. Period. And in the end, the first year was a huge learning curve for all of us…but we made it through successfully.

 

jayda18monthsJayda today

 

 

Jayda is now 18 months and thriving. To this day, we have no concerns regarding her development. She is now running around with her daddy’s energy and is exploring new things every day. Sure she only says a few basic words, but I just keep reminding myself that kids develop at different rates and there is no need to panic. Hey, I didn’t start talking till I was three. It’s so much fun to see her process new things and develop her own little personality. She already loves shoes and purses. Considering Jayda’s early start, Mike and I are reminded on a daily basis of how blessed we are to have such a healthy, energetic, and beautiful child.

 

A New Journey Ahead

Another new adjustment for us coming up is we are now expecting our second child. My due date is for March 2nd, 2015, but based upon how Jayda had her own timeline I can honestly say I will be ready for anything with this next one.

Right from day one this pregnancy has been different. I was very sick with Jayda, and was very sick with this pregnancy as well. The big difference…I had a little one running around the house. My husband and I both work full time, and it was VERY exhausting for the first 3 months or so. All you other moms out there with multiple kids know exactly what I am talking about. When you are pregnant with your first, it’s relatively ‘simple’. You can sleep, eat and do whatever you want when you want to do it. When you have a little one running around the house begging for your attention…that makes it a lot harder. So much for naps after work. Hah.

Now that I am in my second trimester, I am slowly starting to get my energy back as well as my appetite. Steak – right now all I want is steak. With that information people are telling me its for sure a boy; I guess only time will tell.

jaydafamilyWhen I was pregnant with Jayda I didn’t like the limitations people put on me. No you can’t do that, you shouldn’t do that…blah blah blah. Just because I was pregnant didn’t mean I was helpless. This time around, I can respect those comments more. We do not know why Jayda came early, even after some testing was done, but I can honestly say I am trying to take it slower with this pregnancy. If someone offers to help me here or there, I gladly accept.

Our family just moved into a new home a couple weeks ago, and I kept reminding myself others are here to help. I did not move a single box. As I am now further along, I try to make a very special effort to rest after Jayda is in bed. During the day its go-go-go, but once Jayda is in bed, that’s when I really strive to put my feet up as well.

Starting December my doctor and I will be keeping tabs even closer on what my body is doing. Once I hit that 28-30 week mark, I will be very aware of what I am doing and what my body is saying. I am not normally the uptight, over careful, overcautious individual…but I will be playing it as safe as possible. Hopefully this little one decides to hang out with mommy for a bit longer than Jayda did.

 

Time Will Tell

jaydawithcrownSo to sum it up, being a new mom is the most challenging, stressful, trying journey I have ever been on…yet the most rewarding with love so rich I did not know I was capable of. My sweet Jayda makes me cry one moment, laugh the next, and just stand back in awe at how amazing that little blessing is.

Our start was not a traditional one, however Jayda has thrived and does not carrying any effect of being a preemie; we are so blessed! And as for this next baby…only time will tell. Considering what we went through with Jayda, we know that very little is in our control and I will just need to take it one step at a time and remind myself to do what’s best for our family.

Every baby is different…I am excited, yet anxious, to see how this new chapter will start.

 

 


 

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Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

Download their app NuuNest – Newborn Nurse Answers and Baby Tracking for expert guidance through the first crucial weeks after childbirth

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April 18, 2014

Krista’s story: Breastfeeding Premature Twins

When we learned that Krista Gray had breastfed premature twin boys, we were intrigued. When we also learned she had given birth in Egypt, far away from extended family and supports, we knew this was a story we had to hear.  Thank you, Krista, for sharing your incredible story with us. We admire your strength and determination!

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I was living overseas with my husband and 20-month old daughter when we found out I was pregnant with twins.  I went through so many emotions in those early days –shock, excitement, joy – and then one evening I was struck with fear when I realized I was going to birth twins. I began to research and learn everything I could about twin pregnancy and birth.

 

My doctor in Egypt was very uncomfortable with my desire for a natural twin birth and began pressuring me to schedule a C-section from early-on.  As my uneventful pregnancy progressed, and the boys enjoyed staying in their breech position, we bought plane tickets to return to the states where I had found a doctor who was comfortable with giving me the opportunity to try to birth them naturally, even while breech. (I know these doctors are rare!  I searched for someone who would let me attempt a vaginal delivery yet also birth in a hospital and out of three states I could only find one doctor!)

 

Fast forward to 32 weeks, 3 days in my pregnancy.  I was still walking 2 miles daily, up and down playing with my toddler, and feeling great (besides, of course, having a whale of a tummy).  I was packing, because we were flying home in 4 days to wait on our twins’ arrival.  I woke up that morning to feeling slight contractions, which, after getting up, promptly became intense, all-consuming, and coming right on top of one another.

 

My husband called our doctor and we went to the hospital – and found I was already dilated 8 cm.  I ended up having an emergency C-section with general anesthesia. Neither preemie twins nor a C-section had ever been in my plans for their birth but now I found myself not only with both of these, but also living abroad without the support of family and with a 2 ½ year old daughter.

 

I was determined to breastfeed.  Exclusively.  And, since the birth didn’t go at all as I had hoped, I think this made me even more determined to succeed at my breastfeeding goals.

 

When I woke up from surgery one of the first thoughts I had was that I needed to start pumping.  My boys were in the NICU and I was in pain from surgery (and refusing pain meds as I didn’t know if they would harm my milk) so I didn’t even get to see them until they were 12 hours old.  But I lay in bed and began to pump.  Every three hours I pumped with a double-sided electric pump and I began to get that incredible first milk: colostrum.

 

When I talked to their neonatologist the following day, who was cautiously supportive of my desire to breastfeed, he said I could go ahead and get started trying.  As soon as they were able to coordinate sucking-swallowing-breathing at the same time and were putting on weight I could bring them home.

 

The first time I held my boys or tried nursing them was 26 hours after their birth (that’s a long time as research shows so many benefits to kangaroo mother care from as soon after birth as possible).  Though they could suck-swallow-breathe for short durations, they were unable to nurse fully at the breast and were losing weight.  I was concerned about “nipple confusion” so started giving my colostrum in a syringe. After a few days we switched to giving my milk in bottles as it was easier – and exhaustion was already setting in.

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We decided to bring our boys home when they were six days old – they could not yet regulate their own body temperature and it was a struggle to get them to take enough milk at each feed to begin to put on weight – but, with the conditions of the hospital, we felt this was a better option.

 

I do not regret this decision, but I can say it was A LOT of hard, hard work caring for these two, both-under-four-pound-babies, at home, with a toddler, in a foreign country, with little help/support.  Sometimes I think back to these days and wonder how we survived!

 

The following two months were a blur of sleepless nights as I settled into a routine of feeding them every three hours around the clock.  Each feed would typically take 1 ½ – 2 hours so there was usually just one hour before starting the routine all over again, 24/7.  I started off giving them expressed milk in a bottle as an “appetizer,” then nursed at the breast, then finished them with the bottle when they got too tired to nurse.  When they were done eating I would pump and then clean/sterilize the pump and bottles.

 

I had a digital scale that I weighed them on every few days at first, but I mostly just went with my maternal instinct, watching wet/dirty diapers, developmental milestones, and growing out of clothes as indicators for growth.

 

About a month into this routine (when they were still 4 weeks premature) I decided to try to transition them to the breast exclusively.  I arranged help with my daughter and planned to nurse them around-the-clock but not offer any bottles or pump (I was so tired of both pumping and bottles!).

 

After three days (and a terrible bout with mastitis) I found that one of my boys was thriving at the breast but the other was still not strong enough to nurse and began losing weight.  Since the logistics of pumping did not allow me to pump one side and nurse on the other (I was converting my 110 volt pump and had to have it plugged in on the kitchen counter) I continued pumping and giving bottles to both babies until they were around 40 weeks gestation.  At this point, they really were like newborns and both could nurse at the breast without needing supplemental bottles to gain weight.

 

There were still occasions over the next several weeks where I had to pump at times (mostly because I had built up such a supply that I had to slowly reduce it as I was prone to plugged ducts).  The day I packed up my pump was one of the happiest days ever.  I later counted the stored milk in my freezer (the excess I had pumped to build my supply when they were so small and still eating tiny amounts) and I had more than 13 gallons!

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I learned a lot through this experience – mostly by trial and error.  There were no lactation consultants in Egypt and my husband and I had very limited support – just the precious visits from our family as they coordinated trips to help out during those first couple of months.

 

 

 

If I were counseling a mom today in my situation, I would share the following (in no particular order):

 

  • You can do it.  Determination can overcome most every obstacle.

 

  • Remember the goal and just take it one day at a time – don’t worry about tomorrow.

 

  • Your babies are premature; don’t expect them to act like full-term babies.  But, probably around the 40-week mark you will notice a maturity and ability to breastfeed more successfully.

 

  • Get support.  Find a breastfeeding support group and get involved while you are pregnant.  Gather supportive friends and family around you.  (Even without support, you can do it – remember the first point – but seriously, find support.  You need to be able to talk with other mothers who have been there and made it through.)

 

  • Be diligent to build your supply from the beginning.

 

  • Take care of yourself and get some rest. (I was so concerned with supply, even once my supply was really strong, that I was scared to drop even one pumping session.  Had I done this and just had my husband do one feed, I could have gotten so much more sleep.  I seriously cannot tell you how sleep deprived I was at this time – and when you are sleep deprived you are more likely to give up.)

 

  • Don’t fortify your milk just because they are small if this isn’t what you want to do.  There are different classifications of preterm and, typically, if a baby weighs more than 1.5 kg he can meet his nutritional needs on breast milk alone. Talk with a lactation consultant and make sure you understand the pros and cons of supplementation so you can make an informed decision.

(Editor’s note: We recommend that you discuss fortification of breastmilk with  your healthcare provider. Practices vary between hospitals.) 

 

  • Practice as much skin-to-skin time as possible.  I had heard about Kangaroo Mother Care (skin-to-skin for preemies) but I didn’t really know what it meant.  This, more than anything else, would be the one thing I’d like to go back and change.  I would’ve held them skin-to-skin so much more often if I had known the amazing benefits.

 

Krista

Krista Gray is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), La Leche League Leader, and mother of four breastfed children, including preemie twins. She spontaneously went into labor with her twins two months early while living with her husband and daughter in Egypt.  Sheer determination helped her persevere to go on to nurse them until they self-weaned at 2 ½ years.  At Nursing Nurture Krista shares research-based information and experience to help moms in their breastfeeding journeys.  You can also connect with Krista on Twitter {@nursingnurture} and on Facebook {fb.com/nursingnurture}.

 

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May 31, 2013

Jayda’s story: From NICU to Home

Sometimes a pregnancy does not go quite as planned. Here is one mom’s story about her baby, Jayda, born at 33 weeks.

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I will start my story by saying that my husband, Mike, and I welcomed our beautiful baby girl into this world on Sunday, March 24th, 2013…7 weeks earlier than expected. I had been to the doctor late Thursday afternoon and there was no sign that this baby was going to show up so early and I took comfort in knowing she would have a few more weeks to grow and develop in my ever growing belly. And to be honest I thoroughly enjoyed being pregnant; feeling all those squirms and kicks from within and I wasn’t ready to give that up.

 

 

My Delivery

At roughly 1am Sunday, I woke up thinking I was just getting too hot. Quickly I discovered this was not true and that my water had broke. In that moment I knew this baby was coming and going to come today. When we arrived at the hospital around 2am, they first tried to stop my labor; which I personally thought was pointless but it made sense to try. Once my contractions started around 3 am, they were 5 minutes apart and getting more intense. By 8am they realized they couldn’t stop my labor and sent me up to delivery to now get induced. Jayda was then born at 7:52 that evening, weighing in a petite 5 pounds even and 18 inches long. Tiny but perfect in every way.

 

 

When people would say to me ‘Oh, you must have been so excited to have an early baby’, I hesitated with answering and said, ‘Actually I was in total shock. I wasn’t ready. I’m not sure excitement is the word I would use to describe that experience, more like anxiousness. During my 19 hours of labor I was constantly reminding myself this was real and actually happening. At home, I didn’t even have the crib set up, no diapers or sleepers bought, didn’t have the diaper bag ready…I literally had nothing prepared. So when I wasn’t trying to breathe through my contractions, I was just trying to stay calm and savor all those little movements from within because all too soon that part of my life would be over, and I wasn’t ready for that to happen.

The blessing in all this is that during my labor I felt at such peace about the health status of my baby. Its hard to explain further than that, and I knew delivering that early SO much could go wrong, but I just knew everything was going to be ok. Once she finally arrived, Mike and I had maybe a minute to see and hold her and then she was whisked away promptly to the NICU; thus began our NICU journey.

 

 

Jayda’s Hospital Stay

I knew I had wanted to try and breastfeed from the beginning, and I had been told by many great moms who had done both formula and breastfeeding, that if you wanted to breastfeed you had to be patient and go into it with an open mind. Well, my start with my baby wasn’t a normal start but I was determined to at least give it a shot. Immediately I started pumping and they would then give Jayda my milk, along with a formula ‘booster’ to give her more calories so she would gain weight. I would pump in the morning, grab something to eat, go to the hospital to feed and spend some time with her, come home and start the routine all over again. This was very exhausting but I knew I wanted to keep my milk supply up in hopes of her breastfeeding down the road.

 

 

2Jayda spent 2 weeks in the NICU with minimum complications and again, so many people would say to me ‘Well, at least you were able to get more rest and sleep since she was at the hospital’. I then tried not to glare at them, since they really didn’t know the details. I just would politely correct them and move to the next subject. The reality was that it was VERY hard on my body. I wasn’t sleeping well at all, I was trying to get things ready for her to come home amongst pumping, trying to get my appetite back, attempting to maybe catch a nap and spending time with her. Even what some people wouldn’t consider difficult or even consider being a factor, was the walking to and from the NICU. This ‘simple’ task was also very rough on my body and certainly delayed my healing time, which is turn, made me a lot more exhausted.

 

 

Those first 2 weeks were a total blur but through it all I was just focusing on Jayda. I was doing everything for my baby…my Jayda. I had no idea my motherly instinct would kick in so fast and so hard, but when you have a baby in the NICU I guess that will do it. You will do anything you can to ensure your baby is getting the best start possible. I wasn’t frustrated that she was in there because I knew she needed that special care, I was just more impatient. It was hard giving her a kiss goodnight and leaving her to someone else. Don’t get me wrong, all the nurses and doctors were fantastic in the NICU, but she was mine and I wanted her home. Patience and focusing on what was best for Jayda was definitely a vital part of me staying calm and focused through this process.

 

 

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Once we got her home, I was still bottle-feeding her with my milk and her formula ‘booster’. She still needed to continue her good weight gain, so this process went on from about another 2-3 weeks after she came home. When I got the ok from the dietitian to just try her on breast milk, I was very excited to throw the pumping equipment aside but pretty nervous to see how Jayda would make the adjustment. Thankfully, it only took about 2 days of major patience and both of us trying hard to make this work. I could have easily said forget it and went to formula, but I really wanted to breastfeed to get that ‘bond’, that ‘connection’ that so many mothers talk about. Currently, her weight gain has slowed down but is still consistent. If I have to switch things up down the road, I will and I won’t feel bad about it or let anyone else tell me different.

 

 

Support and Lessons Learned

My husband was fantastic through this whole process as well. He really supported me and understood how exhausting and tiresome it was on me. My mom was also close by which was a huge help. Never did she over stay her welcome or try a ‘take my baby’, but she did the things that I had no energy for while my husband was away working. She would do the dishes, vacuum, laundry, prepare supper…all these things that needed to be done so I could maximize my time with Jayda and save my energy for what I needed to do.

 

 

Something I have learned very early on is to do what is best for you. Whether that is breastfeeding or formula, this brand of diaper or that, soother or no soother…everyone is different and do what is best for you and your family. Stress loves to creep up on us moms and we need to ensure that we are doing things that will minimize our stress, not maximize our stress. Then with whatever you decide…stick to it and don’t let anyone make you feel like you are doing it wrong or you should have done it a different way.


I can see how easily depression could sneak up on a new mom.A big factor for me getting through this process with very minimal ‘baby blues’ was just focusing on the perfect gift God blessed me and my husband with. She may have come early and gave us all a good shock, but she has been a huge blessing from day 1. Instead of focusing on my needs, how I missed being pregnant, how tired I was…I turned my focus to that little being day in and day out. She is what got me through each day; knowing that as I pushed forward I was doing it all for her and that one day it would pay off. We are now settling in nicely at home, and we certainly still have our ups and downs, but then I just make sure I take a moment or two, and reflect on how far we have come and how amazing, challenging, yet rewarding this journey has been. It’s only been a couple months but Jayda Joy is certainly our new joy.

We would like to sincerely thank Amy for sharing Jayda’s story with us.

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