Lessons in First Time Motherhood: Lesson #1 Breast Feeding is HARD!

I was asked “What is the most difficult part of being a mom so far?” Breastfeeding. Hands down. No arguments. My husband agrees with me and he’s not even the one doing it!
Breast feeding was one of my non-negotiables going into parenthood. I planned to be a stay at home mom which means that my role changed from making money to conserving it. It was and is important for me to keep my milk flowing to conserve finances. Formula isn’t cheap!
Before I gave birth I spent countless hours watching You Tube videos, reading online forums and asking questions to my lovely sisters about breast feeding. I’m so very glad that I did. You can ask my sisters, I asked and continue to ask A LOT of questions about breast feeding and quite frankly I’m still not an expert.

The #1 lesson I’ve learned is: Breast feeding is something a Mom and dad have to be proactive about. (yes I said dad too) There is a small window of time where you can fool your body into thinking your baby needs more milk than it does. I found this little supply and demand trick extremely useful as I had to give Moriah a bottle to supplement her feeding because she had a hard time latching on for the first few weeks of her life. When she was first born I never gave her formula. I stocked my freezer full because you never know what could happen. And if you’re planning on going back to work after you have a baby and want to give your baby breast milk you REALLY need to be proactive!
My little bits of advice for first time mom’s is buy all the supplies. Get it all. I had a Brest Friend AND a boppy and I used them both. I had wonderful sisters who stocked me full of things I didn’t even know what they were and it was so wonderful to open up my drawer and see everything that I needed just waiting for me. I had no idea what a nipple shield was, or storage bags, or covers, or pads, the list goes on. I have used every single bit of it. True, I used a majority of it in the first 3 months of her life but I used it all. In my opinion, breast feeding supplies are not where you want to conserve your baby budget.

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Daddy: the champion bottle feeder.

Another lesson I’ve learned in this new motherhood experience is: Daddy’s are a big deal. I never thought I would have needed so much help from my husband and I’m very thankful for my husband’s servant heart. I would never have succeeded in breast feeding if it weren’t for his constant support and encouragement. I really thought when it came to breast feeding the responsibility would fall completely on my shoulders and I couldn’t have been more wrong. He was right there with me. While I held our upset hungry daughter he was right here to keep my frustration at a minimum. The lactation nurse taught him how to put together the breast pumping equipment and how to clean it while we were still in the hospital. She also taught him how to suck up the colostrums that I pumped out into a syringe and then expel it into my breast shield so that Moriah could eat it with little effort on her part. It came to a point where trying to eat was burning too many calories and she was losing weight at a rapid pace and needed to be bottle fed. Bottle feeding was his responsibility as I was again, hooked up to the mechanical parasite (aka breast pump).

Another shock: babies lose weight after they are born. I didn’t know that, but it makes sense as they are learning how to eat. One of the nurses on the night shift felt my pain as I struggled to feed my baby and went to get me a breast shield and I’m so thankful that she did. Most mothers don’t even know what a breast shield is and that’s a good thing. It’s really a last resort type of thing, and that’s because you will have to re-teach your baby how to breast feed if you use it as regularly as I had too. Moriah was small, had a shallow gag reflex, and wasn’t born through the vaginal canal. All things that were stacked against us, thankfully she was never jaundice. That was really the only thing working for us. That was truly a miracle.

Despite all that was mentioned above one bit of advice I got was spot on. It’s totally worth it! I was going to breast feed her if it killed me (and I think it almost has several times, but that may be another post). There’s nothing like the bonding time you get with your child. It’s a little piece of heaven on earth when your little one stops feeding, looks up at you and smiles as milk drips down both sides of her face. It’s like she’s saying “Oh wow, my mommy is so pretty and I love her so much.” After 3 visits to lactation consultants after we left the hospital and two visits to the chiropractor to give Moriah adjustments to get her to have the sucking reflex. She’s now 8 months old and breastfeeding. She’s distracted, but that’s because she’s 8 months old. Breast feeding is messy, painful, frustrating and can be incredibly difficult but I still maintain that it’s totally worth every hurdle you may face. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to get back to drinking my Mothers Milk tea.

 

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Milk Coma’s are so adorable.

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Louie the Lover

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This year for Valentines Day, I’m thankful. I’m thankful for my two boys that I get to go home and snuggle with tonight. A few days ago, I didn’t think I would get to bring my little Louie home and now I get to enjoy his sweet snuggles again. Because, well, he drained our bank account with his vet bills so for Valentines day we will all just snuggle and be thankful for our love for each other.

Many have asked about the story of my little miracle Louie so here it is…

Last Sunday it had been almost a week and a half of in and out of the vets office trying to fix a urinary blockage. Yes, the smell of cat pee is still burned into my nose and everything smells like cat pee but I’m getting off track. Of course this happened 2 days before my husband and myself were to leave for a weekend getaway trip to refresh our leadership skills and learn more about Jesus. The devil attacks in mysterious ways and in all honesty I never thought my cats lack of the ability to pee would take such a tole on me.

After we left Louie for the weekend, we prayed that God would keep him safe and do whatever He wanted to do with Louie. I kept telling myself “he’s just a cat. He’ll be fine.” But I worried, because while I pride myself on being a farmers daughter and animals just being animals, I denied myself one truth: Louie isn’t just a cat to me. This reality came after my husband left for a few days on a business trip and it was just me and Louie. I never realized what an important role he plays when Lynn is gone. The condo makes weird noises at night, the neighbors make weird noises, and I can’t seem to distinguish the difference between a harmless sound and someone trying to break into my house and murder me, but Louie can. This resulted in me not sleeping. Every time I took Louie out of the garage, he would try to pee on me because he didn’t feel good. Then I would have to lock him back out in the garage. This went on for days. In the morning I would take him to the vet and they would give me meds and give it another 24 hours. But he wasn’t responding to anything that they did.

Finally on Friday, we decided to leave him in the kitty hospital overnight for observation with a catheter so they could regulate the problem. On Saturday, when Lynn got home from his trip we went to visit him at the hospital and the vet didn’t have optimistic news for us. She said she wanted to keep him one more day just to see if he would clear up on his own. The next step is either surgery (that cost the same amount we had already spent, so A LOT) or we would have to put him down. I cried all day on Saturday. My emotions were out of control. “He’s just a cat Joanna, pull yourself together!” But I couldn’t, because the fact remained that he wasn’t just a cat to me. Louie filled a void in my heart long ago. A void that needed to mother something and he was there. The thought of sitting in another exam room with someone in a white coat telling me I couldn’t take my baby home again was too overwhelming for words. I just wouldn’t be able to do it. On Saturday I prayed a little prayer, “Jesus I give you my kitty. Do with him what you will and please help me find peace.”

Sunday morning rolled around and the vet left me another less than optimistic message during our marriage class. I couldn’t wait any longer and we needed to go to the vet. I was trying to keep my emotions in order while my husband stopped to talk to all 5,000 people that got to our church. I made it to the car before the tears started to drip. I knew what was about to happen and there was nothing I could do about it. Jesus had made his decision to take my little Lou-Lou home to Him. We got to the clinic and I like to think I was still keeping it together pretty well. (sigh) We walked in and the vet met us within seconds, not a good sign, they only meet you right away when it’s an emergency situation. If your pet is fine, they usually make you wait for a little while. I gulped down my tears as the vet told us that Louie wasn’t doing any better. She asked if we could afford the surgery and we said “No, the surgery isn’t an option for us.” The vet excused herself to give us a moment. I sent a text to my dad, “We’re at the hospital. Going to have to put Louie down unless a miracle happens.” Just so he would be prepared when his blubbering idiot of a daughter called him afterwards. I would need his words of wisdom.

This is Louie, all doped up and expressing his undying love for the vet tech.

This is Louie, all doped up and expressing his undying love for the vet tech. He’s saying “I love you… You’re so pretty….(long pause) I REALLY love you… “

The vet walked back in and I thought, “okay this is it, you can do this, Lord give me peace” She said, “I called your vet and they said they will do the surgery for a 1/3 of the cost and I will knock $100 off his hospital bill. Can you do that? I don’t want you to put this sweet cat down.”

And then I lost it….. a miracle happened! I cried so hard I could barely breathe. I was so happy and sleep deprived!

Truth is… Louie is a big deal. Not just to me but to many others that he’s “rescued” from emotions over the years. He’s converted cat haters into cat lovers, and I guess shared his love of people with some vets and vet techs as well. He has his own little kitty ministry. This has been a long road and it’s still not over, but hopefully now he will make a full recovery and live for at least 10 more years of snuggles.

So this is the shortened version of the story… I know… pretty long right? The devil attacks in mysterious ways but God always makes it beautiful in the end. I am so thankful that I am so blessed!!!

God’s Gift to the World!!! – just kidding :)

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I’m very fortunate to have received the gift of creativity from my parents.  So when I started asking questions about my birth story so that I could write my own version filled with drama and twists and turns, my mom offered to write it for me! So, today I give you all a special treat, a guest post today from my lovely mother Sheryl… Enjoy!

It was a cold dark December night and the weather was turning nasty.   As the family settled in to watch their favorite Monday night comedy shows, the father noticed that the freezing rain had begun.  Although the Mother was feeling uncomfortable she did not feel like she was in recognizable labor.   The family was watching the Bob Newhart show and the weather wasn’t getting any better so the father announced that as soon as the show was over the family would load up in the car and head to town just in case the baby decided to arrive on this blustery night.   Not long after the car was loaded and the boys in their places, the mother- to-be started to feel labor pains that she had been waiting for two weeks and she knew it “was time.”

The next plan was to drop the mother off at the hospital and take the boys to grandmas.  Is this where the song “over the river and though the woods “came from??

Or is this the song being sung on those icy roads 10 miles from the hospital?

The special child was born after several hours of walking up and down the hallways of the hospital which was and still continues to be the smallest one in the state of Minnesota.

Ok, ok back to the special baby…….yes, the baby was born and she was a GIRL!   Yes! A girl!!! Pink, bows, lace and dresses now could enter into the happy mother’s life.   You see the family before this special night consisted of a father, a mother and two little boys.   Now they were joined by a Girl!  A red headed girl!   This mother was so excited that she called her mother to tell her that she had been blessed with a daughter, a redheaded daughter!   The grandmother proceeded to tell her daughter that the little girl probably just had remains of her birth on her head and not red hair!  The grandmother was very surprised in the morning when 4 hours after the birth and her first bath the little girl still had beautiful red hair.  Red hair and an amazing interest in the new world around her.  The nurses were surprised at her alertness and interest in her new world! But where did this red hair gene come from???   As the child grew she used to tell people it came from the milkman!  Her mother said it came from the milk.  Well, it was true that the milkman did have red hair……..But with all kidding aside the red hair came from several generations back on both parents side.   The great grandmother sister on the maternal side had reddish hair and the great grandfather on the paternal side had a red beard.  God took out his red brush that night and created a beautiful little baby girl to bless this family and the world.  This beautiful baby girl, Joanna Kay Kopperud was born on December14, 1982 to two very proud parents and two very excited big brothers.   The mother felt like she had just received a special new dolly for Christmas that year.

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Can we all just take a moment to admire how incredibly adorable my brothers were???? So cute!!!! Joanna’s Homecoming and Christmas Card 1982.

Happy 30th birthday baby girl!

And then there were four

I found this little gem from my college days. It was written sometime before May 2005. Enjoy!

Dad walked into grandma’s warm house with the exciting news.  “You have a new baby sister.”  My brother and I raced to the door.  Dad followed behind us.  We jumped on our Hot Wheels and decided to race to the hospital that was a block away.  It was a cool, sunny day in the middle of May.  We climbed the stairs of the hospital not really caring if dad was behind us or not.  We ran to Mom’s room only to find her lying in the hospital bed alone.  Sensing our disappointment, Mom reassured us by telling us that the nurse had taken our little sister away just to make sure she is healthy.  Dad came and took us into the hallway and told us to look in the window.  Inside the window the nurse was sitting in a rocking chair with a baby in her arms.  “That’s your sister.” he said.  She looked so small in the nurse’s arms.  The nurse was rocking her back and forth slowly and gently.

Dad left us standing outside the nursery window.  My brother and I stood there for a while just watching the nurse rock back and forth.  Dad came up behind us and said, “Okay kids, it is time to go back to grandmas so mom can rest”.  After giving Mom a kiss goodbye, we walked down the stairs of the hospital and went outside to find our Hot Wheels right where we left them.  We raced back to Grandma’s excited to tell her about our new baby sister.