Six Essentials on my Breastfeeding Journey

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Becoming a mother was one of the biggest transitions of my life. I was excited and scared about everything. I knew I wanted to breastfeed my baby from the beginning because my mom had, and I knew about all of the health benefits for baby. Beyond that though, I didn’t know too much. So I did what any type A person would do: I researched and read everything I could get my hands on, and even went to a La Leche League meeting before I gave birth.

Armed with knowledge I was confident that I was going to be great at breastfeeding. Like any mom before she gives birth, I knew it all. Of course, as they say, having a baby changes everything. It has been a crazy journey with ups and downs, but we have made it six months now exclusively breastfeeding, and I couldn’t be happier or more proud.

In celebration of six months, I’m going to share six things I couldn’t have done without on this breastfeeding journey:

1. Nursing tank tops

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These have been a lifesaver for my wardrobe. I find nursing bras to be uncomfortable, and it’s difficult to get the right size. The tank tops are stretchy, and offer enough support for someone who is small like me. They are also great to layer with t-shirts, and then you can discretely nurse in public!

2. Nursing infinity scarf

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I personally hate nursing covers. They look like unattractive aprons. So when I saw an infinity scarf that doubled as a nursing cover, I was sold. I could look stylish and nurse modestly in public? Sign me up! Now I don’t always use it, because baby boy doesn’t like it when it’s too hot, but I love having the option, and because I can wear it, it doesn’t take up precious space in the diaper bag.

3. Lanolin
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Don’t skip out on lanolin thinking that you will see how things go and buy it only if you need it like I did. You will need it. Even with a good latch and no problems you will still be sore.

4. La Leche League
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The women and volunteers involved with this organization have been lifesavers. No question was ever too dumb, and they were available all hours through Facebook for support. Living rurally I wasn’t able to attend meetings, but I never felt alone. They helped me get through it when baby and I got thrush (twice!) and when I had mastitis the leader of the Anchorage group checked up on me and got me in contact with an IBCLC who talked me through everything on the phone, and encouraged me even after I developed an abscess and ended up in the ER. With their help I was able to keep nursing even after I dried up on one side because of the abscess. I would have quit after one month without their support and knowledge, when the ER doctor gave me bad advice.

5. Support at the hospital
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I was lucky to be able to deliver at one of the nation’s top hospitals. Providence Alaska Medical Center was amazing, and really focused on helping you form a strong breastfeeding relationship from the start. Skin to skin immediately, lactation consultants on staff to help even after you left the hospital, and nurses who were knowledgeable about breastfeeding as well. Baby roomed in with us, and nurses made sure I had everything I needed- including filling up my huge water bottle at all hours so I could stay hydrated.

The hospital you choose and their policies are really important in the crucial early days of establishing breastfeeding.

6. Support of friends and family

The most important thing I found though, was having the support of my friends and family. When I wanted to give up my husband would remind me that I wasn’t to quit on a bad day. I could quit, but not in the middle of the night just because I was tired. He knew I could get through it, and I just needed him to tell me I could. Breastfeeding can be very lonely and polarizing if you don’t surround yourself with people who share your goals. Once baby and I established a good nursing relationship I never felt like I had to leave the room or seclude myself to feed him because my friends and family supported me however I wanted to feed my baby. There was no judgement and nothing but love- something I really can’t be thankful enough for.

Looking back on those early days, when everything hurt and leaked and both baby and I shed our fair share of tears, I’m so happy I kept at it. Now we have a rhythm and a great nursing relationship that is especially awesome when traveling. Baby boy is happy and healthy and in the end that is really all that matters.

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Here’s to six more months!

 

What essentials do you swear by for nursing? Have a breastfeeding story you want to share? Let me know in the comments below!

Flat Stanley Visits Napaskiak

When my cousin contacted me about a week ago about her son’s school project I was super excited. They had read the book Flat Stanley in class (it’s all about a boy who gets squished flat, and then mails himself around so he can travel) and they were sending out their own Stanleys. She asked if I would be willing to take some pictures, and I immediately agreed. I had read the book myself in Elementary school, but never participated in a project like this. The students are going to be sharing and mapping where their Stanleys go, so it will be cool to have Alaska represented.

Check out our tour of the village with Stanley:

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Looking out at the frozen Kuskokwim River

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Checking out the fish drying

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Bush Planes are cool!

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At the School

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More Alaskan Handicrafts at the School

Next up, Stanley is headed to my sister in Florida- hopefully he will warm up a little bit, and maybe even see a beach. It will be a good vacation after the frozen tundra I think!

Camp NaNoWriMo 2016

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With April right around the corner, I find myself prepping for this year’s Camp NaNoWriMo. Last year’s camp project was a disaster. I started out with lots of hope and ambition; I wanted to reach a goal of 60,000 words. In the end I finished out the month with just over 7,000. Some would say that any words written were a success, and in that light they are right, but I was sad that I couldn’t meet my goals.

My pregnancy was a lot tougher than I had expected. Physically, it was pretty mild, I didn’t have too many complications other than my gallbladder, but emotionally I was a wreck. Anxiety would keep me awake for days, just staring at the clock, and then depression would hit and I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed. I was still working at the school at the time as well, so between yo-yoing emotions and trying to put on a happy face and work, I was not focused on writing at all.

This year I’m in a much better place. I was really worried about post-postpartum depression, but things have been really positive. The first three months of being a mom were a blur, so I didn’t even attempt NaNoWriMo, but now I feel that I’m in a good groove with parenting, so I’m going to give Camp a go. Baby boy is by no means on a strict schedule, but he does nap several times a day, so I’m taking advantage of those times to get back into the swing of writing.

For this year’s Camp, I am going to be working on the sequel to my first Nano novel. After I finished that one, I realized that it served better as backstory for another character and his journey. At first I was really upset that I had written almost 300 pages of something that only scratched the surface of the story I really want to tell, but in actuality, I feel like I’m in a much better place to write this new story, because of all the work I did on the first.

I don’t have a title yet, but I do have a blurb written:

Hal, an orphaned young man lives in the restrictive confines of the American Resistance Compound. The world outside is a dangerous place; ravaged by war and disease after the North American Power Grid failed twenty years prior, the once free country fell to the oppressive power of the Chinese government.

Now with the ARC’s infrastructure failing and the appearance of a beautiful young Chinese scientist carrying a mysterious vial, the outside world is crashing in. People are getting sick from the plague they have battled to keep out for so long, and the only way to save them is a dangerous journey to a laboratory run by the Chinese that is rumored to have a cure.

Can Hal survive the outside world long enough to save the only family he has ever known? And can he trust his heart along the way?

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I’m really excited to get started! And with Camp’s more relaxed rules, I may just get writing a little early.

Are you participating in Camp this April? What are you writing? Let me know in the comments below!

Winter Walks

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Ravens Flying Over the Boardwalk

Alaska winters are long and dark. I’m always looking forward to the time of year when the days are getting longer, and the temperatures are rising enough to go outside for more than just a few minutes. The past week has had some really nice days where I could do just that. Winter walks are some of my favorite. You experience the vastness of the world in a different way after being cooped up inside all winter. The crisp air bites your face, but it feels fresh and exciting, and as long as you wear your ice cleats, you can really go anywhere!

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I’ve taken several walks now, strapping the baby into his carrier and bundling him under one of my husband’s coats. I’m worried about him getting chilled, but after each walk he has been toasty warm- kept so by my own body heat. I don’t know how people live without baby wearing, it is seriously a lifesaver, and one of my favorite things. You have a happy cuddly baby, and you can continue to actually do things- it’s a win-win!

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Sammy, our dog, has enjoyed these walks as well. I feel bad for her being cooped up in the winter as well. We take her out multiple times a day, but when temperatures are below zero, we hardly want to go trekking on an adventure, so she settles for running around the apartment for her exercise (sorry downstairs neighbors!)

Winter Walks Sammy

Winter is far from over yet, but I think the worst is over. Tickets for the river breakup are being sold. Nathan and I have decided to try and guess this year. Last year we didn’t buy any tickets, but his guess was off by only a day. Essentially the idea is that people buy tickets to guess the day and time that the river ice will break up. They have a tripod set up in Bethel on the ice, with a rope leading to a timer. When the tripod collapses, it pulls the rope, stopping the timer. People from all over the delta try to guess the exact date and time. Whoever has the closest guess wins the prize of $10,000. Talk about an awesome opportunity!

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Last Years Tripod on the River

I’m looking forward to the warmer weather and longer walks. As the boardwalks clear up, I will be able to take off my heavy boots and cleats, and the longer days will let us take walks after dinner. I can’t wait!

 

Do you ever take winter walks? Where are your favorite places to explore? Share with me below in the comments!