Friday, September 28, 2012

Losing weight...One pound at a time!

So I a have finally gotten serious about this losing weight thing. I am tired of feeling crappy in my clothes. I am tired of when I take my clothes off to shower that I avoid the mirror because I don't want to look at my body.

I am finishing up week #4 of Weight Watchers. I have learned so much since starting. I am learning about portion size and the best foods to eat. I have found that hungry goes away after a few days; your body adjusts. So far I have lost a total of 10 pounds. It's not official yet, it won't be until my weigh in on Monday, but 10 pounds.

Weight Watchers has given me a new outlook on things. I am so excited that I can eat the things I choose and not have to stick to some strict diet. But most of all, I am loving that I have been seeing results every week.

On Monday, I started Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred. I did great the first 3 days then I fell off the wagon. I have to get back at it tomorrow.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

My Exclusive Pumping Journey...Coming to an End!

When this journey started for me almost 15 months ago, I never would have dreamed to make it this far. Exclusive pumping is very hard work and in the beginning I had to take things day by day. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to commit myself too, but I did it for the love of my baby.

When I was 19, I had my first daughter, Shalie. I was so young and had a rough pregnancy that the idea of breast feeding really turned me off. I think most young girls are like this. The doctors tried to talk me into breastfeeding but I wouldn't hear it. In hindsight, it would have saved me a lot of problems with a acid reflux, milk intolerant baby. But you know hindsight is 20/20. When I became pregnant again in the winter of 2002 with my second daughter, I had ever intention to breastfeed. I knew it was best for baby and with us being so poor, also cheaper. Needless to say, I never got the chance because I lost her between 29/30 weeks. She was stillborn. (One of the hardest things about losing her was having to dry my milk up because I had no baby to feed. But that is a different story for a different time.)

Fast forward almost 8 years to the birth of my beautiful Avery! When I became pregnant with Avery I had this plan, I was going to breastfeed. (And I was going to use cloth diapers, again another story for another time.) No one tells you how hard breastfeeding is. No one tells you how much work goes into it. You usually find out on your own at home after you have brought baby home from the hospital. It was hard and it HURT.

I had the foreknowledge to go ahead and purchase a pump before Avery's arrival. It was my "Option B". I knew if I couldn't get the feeding at the breast thing, then I would pump the milk for her. On our second night home I could take it no more. Every time Avery would latch on I was screaming in pain. It got to the point that I either had to pump or I was done with it all. Of course, if you know Nick (my husband), if you say you are going to do something then quitting is not an option.

So here I am engorged from my milk coming in with very sore nipples and I have this pump that I have no idea how to use. I mean I knew the basics but come on, it was a bit intimidating. And I felt like a fool trying to figure out how to double pump at the same time.

I quickly learned that I was going to have to figure out how to do this and feed a baby. So I jumped online and researched as much as I could about pumping instead of feeding at the breast. Everything I read had a very negative vibe to it. All I kept seeing was how hard it was to maintain a supply with Eping, how if you didn't sit at your pump for 30 -60 mins at a time that you wouldn't produce enough, and blah blah blah. I quickly stopped looking at advice from others because I felt that I could do it my own way. I did learn a very useful piece of information to make my own pumping bra. I am a cheapo and hate to spend money on things I can make myself. (if you want to learn how to make your own pumping bra, see here).

So then it started, I worried so much that I would fail. I worried that my milk would dry up and I would have to use formula. We aren't poor but who wants to spend thousands of dollars on formula when I can make it for free (See told you I am a cheapo). For the first two months all I did was worry about my supply. It's funny really because I had an oversupply. A really big oversupply. At one point I was pumping between 60 - 80 ozs a day. That's a lot of milk. But I did what I felt needed to be done to make this pumping thing work.

I started pumping 8 times a day, for 15 - 20 minutes each time. Every two hours during the day and going 4 hours a night.  I was making a lot of milk and feeling up our freezer fast. So I thought I would drop two pumps and see if that would work. I knew that I could always add back if my supply tanked. But I always only pump 15 - 20 mins. I think any more and I would have quit. At 10 weeks, when I went back to work, I decided to drop two more pumps and see where that got me. It was easier for me to only have to pump once a work. So I pumped at 6 am when I woke, 12 noon when I went to lunch, 6 pm once I got home and then again around 10pm before bed. I did this from 10 weeks until Avery was 11 months old. At 11 months I dropped to 3 pumps a day. I didn't drop a lot in supply so this worked still. I dropped to two pumps right after a year but quickly learned I couldn't keep up with her demand and would have to start cow's milk sooner than I wanted. So I added a pump back. I just recently in the past 4 weeks dropped back to 2 pumps and now I am down to one a day.

The love affair with my pump is coming to an end. I dropped my last one this past Sunday. I have really mixed feelings about it all. Pumping has been such a huge part of my life for almost 15 months now. Avery only had breast milk and water for the first 14 months of her life. We just recently (07/18/2012) introduced cow's milk to her diet.

I am happy that it's coming to an end because I am ready to have my body back. I am ready to move on and start trying to lose more weight. I really didn't try to while pumping because I was afraid of messing with my supply. But, on the other hand, I am really sad. By stopping, I am forced to realize that I no longer have a baby. My little girl is now a toddler. I am just not ready to believe it yet.

My planned quit date is 08/25/2012. Exactly 15 months from the day Avery was born. I am so proud of myself for making it this far. I only know of one other person who has done this for as long as I have. It was a huge commitment for me and I followed through on it. I will forever be grateful to my body and God that I was able to provide for Avery this way. It was such a hard and sometimes depressing journey, but I can finally say that I made it. I made it far past my first goal of three months, then six months, and finally a year. I made it!

We plan to have at least one more child and yes, if breastfeeding doesn't work for us that time... I will pump again. Never again will I willingly give formula if I can make something so much better!

Here is an update to my pumping stats...

Statistics for Mom
All Time
 Total Pumping Sessions1,710 
 Total Pumping Time35 day, 17 hr, 57 min 
 Total Pumping Amount19,161.6 oz 
 Left8,427.2 oz 
 Right10,734.4 oz 
 Average Pumping Time30 min 
 Average Pumping Time Per Day1 hr, 56 min 
 Average Pumping Amount11.2 oz 
 Left4.9 oz 
 Right6.3 oz 
 Average Pumping Amount Per Day43.5 oz 
 Left19.2 oz 
 Right24.4 oz 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Exclusive Pumping... My journey through it all

I am not sure how relatively new Exclusive Pumping is but I had never heard of it before I was introduced to it a few years ago by a friend. I didn't know that there was an alternative to breast feeding at the breast. Who would have thought you could establish and maintain a milk supply by just pumping?

Well my exclusive pumping journey started back on May 28, 2011. I was ready to give up trying to breastfeed my three day old daughter. My boobs hurt from engorgement from my milk coming in and my nipples felt like they would fall off if I had to nurse one more time. (Avery had a small mouth and therefore couldn't latch properly would cause an extreme amount of pain for me.) I thank God that I had the foresight to purchase a used Medela Pump In Style. (I bought it off eBay for about $20.00. It was old school, but it worked awesome for the first 6 months I had it.)

I guess I should stop for a minute and tell you how much we had planned on providing nothing but breast milk. I am not a formula hater but I wanted what was best and cheapest for my child. Quitting at this point was not an option. You have to understand my husband. He is a wonderful man, but he doesn't like spending money. And inside of my body, was this wonderful nourishment meant for my baby...and it was free. See where I am going with this. So yeah...I had to find another way to handle the nursing.

So I chose to pump. The first time I pumped, I felt so ignorant because I wasn't sure how to use it. Of course, everyone knows you are supposed to stick the horns to your breast, but there were so many other things you don't know. Like how high to turn the suction, if you don't hold the horns just right then there is no suction at all. I thought I bought a bad pump and it wasn't going to work. But I figured it out because I was so desperate. I had to have another way to feed my baby. 

It was so scary starting this new journey. I had no idea if I was strong enough to stay committed to this. I was so afraid it wouldn't work, that I wouldn't be able to maintain my supply. In a way, it is so much harder than just feeding from the tap. You have to set a schedule and stick with it. Because you are using a pump (instead of baby), to establish and maintain your milk supply, you have to diligent.  So I started out pumping every two hours and would go up to four at night. I was pumping anywhere from 8 - 10 times a day for 15 mins each time. I figured out quickly that I was blessed with an oversupply, meaning I had an abundance of milk. In the beginning I was pumping 80 ozs a day. That is more than half a gallon of milk A DAY. 

But it was so HARD. Not only did I have to take care of a newborn, had no sleep,  and was an emotion mess; I still had to pump, clean my pump parts, and bottle feed. It was a never ending cycle of washing bottles and feeding. It was exhausting and everyday I had to tell myself... just one more day. I had to make it day by day in the early weeks and months. I hated it. But I continued to do it.

It was hard to find information on Exclusive Pumping and when I did find information, it was all conflicting. One site told me I had to pump for 30 mins to an hour every time to maintain my supply. Another said I need to make sure I was pumping for 120 mins a day. All this information had me upset and scared that somehow I would mess it up and not be able to pull it off. It was even conflicting as to what was safe to store your milk in. So I read all I could and in the end decided to go with what I felt was right. (Some women might find it harder to get their milk to let down then I did. I only had to pump 15 mins each session. I don't think I would have made it if I would have had to pump too much more than that at each session.)

After figuring out I had an oversupply and had to buy a new freezer just to store my breast milk in, I slowly started dropping pumps. I slowly dropped down until I was down to pumping just 4 times a day when Avery was around 3 months old. I could pump anywhere between 45 oz - 50 oz a day with just 4 pumps, 15 mins each time. Life had evened out for me. I was coming to terms with fact that I COULD do this, and I WAS strong enough. 

In the eight months that I pumped 4 times a day I NEVER missed a pump session. I pumped FOUR times a day and I was always within an hour of the time frame I would pump in. I pumped at 6 am, 11 am, 6 pm, and between 9:30 - 10 pm. I was always very close to those times, every time. I believe that is why I have been so successful with EP'ing.

The only problem I had was when Avery was around 6 months old, my old pump died. It wasn't a slow death that I knew was coming. One pump it was great and the next it wouldn't even work. I freaked out. It was going to cost me close to $200 just to rent a pump for the first month and like $70 after that. Of course, the best decision was for me to buy a new one. God was looking out for me that day because a friend sold me her barely used pump for half of what she paid for it. She had only used it a handful of times. She was a Godsend. 

When I started this journey my original goal was breastfeeding until a year. When I had to start pumping I said 3 months, then 6 months, then a year. I fully intended to stop pumping at a year, I was tired of it. I had made it that long and Avery never had to have any formula. But a year crept up and I realized that I was not ready to stop. I am providing something for Avery that after finished she will never have again. My body 13 months later is still sustaining her life. There are so many benefits to breast milk after a year. And I know that had nursing worked for us, I would still be nursing her. So why not continue to pump?

Is it still hard? Some days, I don't want to do it anymore. But even on those days I don't want to do it, I know I am still not ready to stop. At this point I don't have a goal. I am leaving it open. I could make it to 18 months or beyond, and if I don't, I am okay with that.

For more information on EP'ing check out Kellymom

Here are some cool stats. I have maintained this app on my phone from the beginning.  These stats stand true for every time I have pumped, save a handful. The Total Pumping time, Average Pumping Time, and Average Pumping Time Per Day should be divided by two, since it is added for each breast.

Statistics for Mom
All Time
 Total Pumping Sessions1,602 
 Total Pumping Time33 day, 7 hr, 26 min 
 Total Pumping Amount18,081.1 oz 
 Left7,935.2 oz 
 Right10,145.9 oz 
 Average Pumping Time29 min 
 Average Pumping Time Per Day2 hr, 1 min 
 Average Pumping Amount11.3 oz 
 Left5 oz 
 Right6.3 oz 
 Average Pumping Amount Per Day45.7 oz 
 Left20 oz 
 Right25.6 oz 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Has it really been 9 years...

I have thought of everything I have wanted to say about this topic for a few days now and I am still not sure...

Tomorrow will be 9 years since I lost my precious Tia. That day was by far the worst day of my life. I don't really want to retell her story and for those of you who don't know it and would like to you can visit Tia here. (Disclaimer: The grammar, punctuation, and everything else about this story is horrible. It was written by a distraught mother who had just lost her baby. Someone else built this website for me, for Tia, and I have no idea how to go in and change it now. I thought she would edit the story for me and correct things before she posted it. She didn't. But it's okay! One day...)

All that being said, I still have to live through tomorrow and bring life to the memory of my baby girl, gone but not forgotten. At least by me. Going back to that time in my life is already hard enough but trying to bring myself back to that particular day, is almost impossible. My emotions surrounding that day are spent and it's hard to work up the strength I need to truly feel that pain again. And I don't want to. So some years, Tia doesn't get the time I feel needs to be spent on remembering her properly.  Two years ago on June 3rd, I miscarried, last year I had a newborn. I didn't even get down Tia's memory box to go through her things. I haven't been to Tia's grave in months.

But if you want to know the truth, I am not sad about this. Because instead of remembering what I lost, I was/am celebrating life. I was/am celebrating Shalie & Avery. I was/am celebrating all the things that God has intended me to celebrate. I was thanking my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for all that I have been blessed with. 

So when tomorrow comes, will I be sad? Yes, but I will also remember all the things that I need to celebrate. Watching Avery take her first breath of life changed things for me. I will never ever forget my Tia, but I believe my broken heart has finally healed. 

"An angel in the Book of Life wrote down my baby's birth, and whispered as she closed the book... Too beautiful for Earth." Unknown

Pre-eclampsia was most likely the culprit in my placenta abrution, which ultimately caused Tia's death. You can find out more and visit the organization here.

Also, if you have suffered a loss and would like some wonderful women to talk to you can visit community boards. They have some great loss boards and wonderful women willing to support one another.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A year of Avery!!!!


It's been a year! One of the best years of my life. A year of Avery.

Tomorrow, my baby girl will have her first birthday. I remember it like it was just yesterday...

(This is the first time I have but my birth story down on "paper")

On September 29th, 2010, this is what we got:

This is the last pregnant picture taken of me, 37 weeks 3 days:

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011, Nick and I were hanging out at the house waiting to go to the hospital at 7:00 pm to be induced.  It was a relaxing day for me. I wasn't rushed because I wanted to savor the day. I wanted to live every moment and not rush it at all. We arrived at the hospital and filled out all the paperwork, got my IV, hooked up to the monitors, all that good stuff. We were put into a small room that is usually used for those that they are monitoring. The hospital had recently upgraded their birthing suites. We were told that they were planning to move us to one the following day. I knew it would be a long night, the nurses would be in and out checking on me. This night was the first sleepless night of many.

Around 2:00 a.m., the nurse came into to insert the Cytotec to start the induction of my labor. At some point in the night they decided that they would not give me the second dose of the Cytotec because they couldn't figure out is that or me laying on my back was causing Avery's heart rate to drop. Regardless, I only slept for a total of about 2 hours that night.

It was decided that they would start Pitocin around 5:00 am the next morning, May 25th, 2011, I was closet to 2 cm dilated at the time. . My contractions started fairly quickly and were easy to handle. My mom and Nick's mom were on their way to hospital, as this is who I chose to be in the delivery room with us. The contractions were easy to handle until Dr. Grinstead came in around 8:00 a.m. and broke my water. Let me tell you... The first contraction following that was a shocker. I immediately knew there was no getting through this pain meds free. I immediately asked for something to help with the contractions and they gave me Novocaine . I was a wimp and I am okay with that. The Novocaine lasted until I could get my epidural.

Now let me tell you, I was scared of the epidural. When I got one with Shalie, I was stuck 5 time before they got it in correctly. It was not fun and it scared the crap out of me. So, of course, I was scared this time too. However, the Anesthesiologist was wonderful. I barely felt a thing and it started working immediately. From here on out things sailed smoothly.

I think it was between 11:00 - 12:00 or so when we finally got moved to our "suite". It was a beautiful and spacious room.  Once I was put back onto the monitors and comfortable, Dr. Grinstead came in around 12:30 - 1:00, to check my cervix. At this point I was "a good 5 cm stretched".

With every contraction I would have, Avery's heart beat would drop. Not a bad drop but a normal one. It still had me freaking out. I couldn't get comfortable and like the first time I had an epidural, it started to wear off. I could feel my contractions in my bottom, but they were still bearable. My nurse decided to put me in a sitting position to let gravity help move Avery down into position. It worked because around 1:45 pm all of a sudden I felt the urge to push. I had mom call the nurse to check me. No one thought I would be ready yet as I was just checked not too long ago. I was 10 cm and fully effaced, head was engaged. It was time...

Then they made me wait. It took all I could not to push or bear down, they had nothing prepped. So as I lay in agony trying NOT to push, they started setting everything up. I lasted about 20 mins before I told my nurse, there was no way I could not push anymore. About this time Dr. Grinstead walks in and starts getting ready to deliver. It took me three contractions a total of about 6 pushes before Avery Grace made her entrance into this world at 2:13 pm weight 5lbs 13ozs, 18-1/2" long. She came out screaming.

Many of you who know me and know that the loss of my second daughter (a story for later), this was a huge moment for me. I had a "take home baby". She was alive and screaming, that was all that mattered at that moment to me.

Nick being a bit grossed out decided not to cut the cord but Gran Gran (my mother) did. She was so excited to be able too.  

A lot of the rest is a blur, I was so in love with my new baby all I could focus on was her. We started breastfeeding immediately after her birth. She was passed around to all her family. Big sister didn't get to meet her until the next day but it was so awesome. Avery is awesome.

Here are some pictures of her first day: 
With Mommy!

Meeting Daddy for the first time
In your crocheted hat mommy made you
Then on Friday, May 27th, 2011 we left the hospital to bring you home:
You look so small in the car seat
And now here we are one year later. I have learned so much from you this year. I love you!

This was The Year of Avery!



My name is Cassie! I am the wife of Nick and the mother of two wonderful daughters, Shalie & Avery.

My life is very simple. Recently, my husband and I decided that I would become a SAHM (stay at home mom). So far I am really enjoying it. I get to spend a lot of time with Avery. Once summer starts, Shalie will be home a lot more, too.

This year is bittersweet for me. See in a little over a month I will be saying bye to my 20's and starting a new era with my 30's. (More on this later)

So here are our introductions:

This is Nick, Avery, & I last year.

This is Shalie at the beginning of her 5th grade year.

This is Avery, 10 months old!

And here is the best puppy in the world, Layla!