Connected to Her

Even before I was pregnant with El, I dreamed about breastfeeding her. There is nothing more engaging and powerful, in my experience, than sharing this experience with my children. There were times when I thought that maybe the only reason I wanted another baby was because I wanted to breastfeed. 

Breastfeeding is also one of the most difficult things I have ever done for my children. To ensure they get as much breastmilk as possible, I pump while I am at work and on call. Breastfeeding my baby means that most of the time I am attached to a machine – not my baby. This is the part I hate; but I am reminded of why I endure it when I lay down at night with El by my side, her little body pressed up against my chest, listening to her suckle as she falls asleep. I never want it to end. 

A few weeks ago, the “brelfie” (breastfeeding selfie) began trending. I loved the idea of having a picture of my experience feeding my baby. I have many photos of me feeding my baby, but they are all from far away, or with covers, or even just for me to see. I was delighted to create something that I could share with the world. This is my life; what matters to me the most – giving myself to my children. 

Breastfeeding is so much to me: it is food, but it is also comfort, bonding, sharing, and love. I wish my babies didn’t grow up because I will never get tired of this amazing experience 

Lactation Cookies!

Hot on the heels of my Milk obsessed post, I decided to give lactation cookies a try.  I have heard a lot of buzz around the idea of lactation cookies in the past few months but I didn’t really think too much of them.  I learned that there are store-bought varieties, as well as a myriad of recipes to make your own.  Over the past few days I delved into the wide online ocean of lactation cookie recipes to decide which one seemed “best.”

IMG_7413All the recipes seemed to have the same three ingredients, touting these (or a combination of them) to be the “magic” behind increasing lactation: Oats, Flax, and Brewers Yeast.  The recipe I selected also called for Fenugreek – a supplement I relied on when I was breastfeeding the boys years ago.  Buying these ingredients can be expensive and difficult, but I was lucky to find them all (including the fenugreek) in bulk for under $10 at my local bulk-food store!

The recipe I chose is listed below, but I give full and complete credit to this blog, where I used the recipe exactly as listed.

Once I got the baby to sleep (of course I picked a fussy baby day to bake these), I set out getting all the ingredients ready.  Just as I finally got everything organized and mixed the dry ingredients into the wet, baby El started screaming… she wanted more Boobie, of course!  How appropriate was it then, when I picked her up, placed her on my “Breast Friend” nusrsing pillow (AKA the UFO pillow) and continued to make my lactation cookies WHILE breastfeeding the fussy baby?

Luckily, I managed to finish the cookies and they turned out pretty great!  They are delicious, tasting exactly like “regular” oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (maybe with a slight aftertaste).  I froze most of the cookies and then placed about half a dozen into a secret place in my pantry.  I ate 3 cookies yesterday (1 was a taster after they were our of the oven, and then two as a bedtime snack) and then two this morning.

IMG_7414I can’t comment too much on if the cookies actually started “working” because I am not pumping, and I’m feeding on demand.  However, I do feel like the ladies are a more full today than yesterday.  There may have also been more leaking.  El seems much more satisfied with her feeds, despite me feeling like she’s not completely emptying (I guess it’s time to start pumping and working on my back-to-work frozen milk stash).  It’s hard to say, though, if these changes are due to the cookies or the fact that yesterday seemed to be a bit of a fussy baby-cluster feeding kind of day.

I plan to eat only one (maybe two) cookies a day from now on… All things in moderation, and I am starting on a more formal post-partum weight loss adventure (now that the immediate post-birth weight loss has ended).

Lactation Cookie Recipe: (Check out the source for extra tips and ways of modifying the recipe

Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp flaxseed meal
  • ¼ cup of water
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup of brewer’s yeast (this is the main ingredient for milk production)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 Tbsp ground Fenugreek
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup coconut oil, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 2 large, eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups of old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix flaxseed meal and water; set aside.
  3. Stir together the flour, brewer’s yeast, salt, baking soda and fenugreek, set aside.
  4. Blend butter, coconut oil, and sugars well. Blend in eggs. Stir in flaxseed mixture and vanilla; mix well.
  5. Add dry mixture. Mix until just combined. Stir in oats and chocolate chips.
  6. Scoop 2 Tbsp of dough, 1 to 2 inches apart, onto a silicone lined baking sheet. (About 8 cookies per tray.)
  7. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes, until matte on the top.
  8. Once cooled, individually wrap cookies in plastic wrap and place them in a container the freezer. Eat at least 2 cookies the first day, and one each day afterwards. (I have one every day after lunch. Just unwrap it and nuke it in the microwave for 30 seconds.) Enjoy!

I AM The Milk

“Why are you so worried about your milk? He asked, after I broke into tears.

It was 7am and I couldn’t help but let the pooling tears run down my cheeks.  I had been awake most of the night feeding El, who just never seemed to be satisfied.  The day before had seemed a pointless day to wear a shirt and bra, because my breasts were out all day, on demand to her.  She was finally asleep, my breasts were empty and deflated, like they had been all night, yet the mere thought of feeding her left me leaking more than just tears.

Maybe I have been obsessed lately.  I know El has a small tongue tie, and I know what that could mean for our breastfeeding relationship.  I have mentioned it to everyone from the postpartum nurse in the hospital, to the pediatrician who looked after her there, to the home care nurses drawing her bilirubin, to my own family doctor.  Everyone just keeps telling me not to worry about it because she’s feeding and growing well.  But her latch is shallow.  I know it could be a lot better, and I fear that while she gets enough milk now, she might not get enough in the future.  I love breastfeeding my babies, and she is the last one.  I want to breastfeed her for a long time.

So, why shouldn’t I obsess?  This beautiful baby was part of me – she came from my own body and flesh.  Now that she is born, she is still part of me; everything that provides for her, nourishes her, and keeps her happy and alive is from me.  She knows my voice and she knows it means comfort, fulfillment, closeness, and love.  I am the only person in her world who can give her all of that by simply holding her in my arms and offering her my body.

It is not just milk.  That milk is me.  I AM the milk.
My beautiful baby drinks me in and for those minutes – those hours – we are one again.
I am not ready for that to end, so I can’t help but worry about my milk.