At Home In My Two Spirit Body

I was scrolling through Facebook late last night and came upon this article. As I read through it I felt it needed to be shared. There are to many youth and adults out there who feel that they do not fit in. That they do not belong. Too much judgment, harassment and bullying. I attended Grant MacEwan and always felt like I was one of the crowd and saw so many people who were not afraid to be themselves. It saddens me to hear on a regular basis that there are also so many who feel at odds with themselves.

I contacted MacEwan University and was given permission to reprint the article here. I want to help spread the message as well. I have added some links to provide more information as well.

My birth mother had the most beautiful hair. It was long and flowy and came all the way down to her knees. When I was little – maybe four or five – we would lie on the futon we shared with my older brother and watch TV. I would take her hair, pull it over mine, braid it and play with it and pretend it was my own. I draped her long sundresses over me. And I loved wearing her shoes.

My aunt came over one day when I was wearing those shoes, and she asked me to dance. We pushed aside the chairs in the kitchen and I spun around being silly until one of my brothers started making fun of me. My aunt said, “Don’t laugh at him. He’s Two Spirit.” It was the first time I ever heard those words. When I asked her what they meant, she said, “You have the spirit of man and woman inside you.”

I didn’t like that answer. I didn’t ask to be called that. I didn’t want to be different. I didn’t understand. But so many things happened in the years that followed – being apprehended and taken from my Indigenous family, losing my birth mother and living in difficult situations – that I never really had the chance to get the Two Spirit teachings and building blocks I needed to navigate my sexuality, my identity, my spirit.

I tried to find my way on my own. But the more I tried to fit myself into the world, the less I felt like I belonged anywhere. I was lost.

Years later, after trying to come to terms with the end of my first relationship, I came out to my older cousin. We were sitting in the parking lot of the group home I was living in at the time and I told him I was gay. He said, “No, you’re Two Spirit.” When I asked what was the difference, he said that I needed to do some learning. So I went into ceremony, I got teachings. I practiced what I learned. And gradually things started to click.

Reclaiming the role and responsibilities of a Two Spirit person within my community lit a fire within me. I could embrace being an educator, a counsellor and an advocate for youth.

I’m still learning, but now I know that I’m not one spirit, but two. I’m fire and ice. And I use both of those energies to push through the adversity that comes with being an Indigenous person and a sexual minority in today’s world.

To me, being Two Spirit isn’t as simple as an identity marker or a lifestyle. It’s who I am, and I am at home in my Two Spirit body.

– Kairyn, Chair of Education and Outreach with the E2S – Edmonton 2 Spirit Society and participant in MacEwan University’s Pride Week Human Library

If you are feeling confused or alone please reach out. There are supports to help you.

Pride Center Of Edmonton

LGBTQ groups in Edmonton

LGBTQ + Gender Identity Resources

LGBTQ Youth Line

Provivor Cont.

Original posting date February 27, 2020

Since BRCA2 can cause ovarian cancer, and because there aren’t great methods to catch ovarian cancer early enough, the current recommendation is to have both ovaries and Fallopian tubes removed. Some say to have it done by 45, by 40, or when done having children.

Amy is only 37 but she is done having children so she decided to go ahead and schedule the surgery. she would have only her ovaries and Fallopian tubes out so this is called Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, also known as a BSO. It was going to be done laparoscopically, with robotic assistance. Sounds cool, but she was terrified. Amy told me that she has been afraid of going under general anesthesia her whole life. Like many she is has always been afraid that she would be able to feel everything, but unable to talk or do anything about it.

That entire summer long Amy tried to mentally prepare for her upcoming surgery. The big day came and she remained calm all through prep she advised she was doing fine up until the doctor came to check on her in pre-op. At that point she gave in to the emotions just under the surface. She started crying about how scared I was. With the help of the anesthesiologist who was reassuring and friendly and she said she finally felt ready.

They took her into the OR, where she moved of her own accord onto the operating table, and laid down. She smiled and told me the last thing she remembered until waking up in recovery was “wow, there are a lot of people in here.”

After a few days of laying around and watching Netflix, Amy felt almost like herself again. Her incisions were healing nicely, and she had no complications. It was decided then that she wanted to move forward with mastectomy. After researching her options, she decided that she want  to chose the least invasive, least-likely to have complications or follow-up surgeries, and that means she would be going totally flat. This is called a flat closure mastectomy. Surgery was set for November 20th.

Drains

Surgery went smoothly for Amy and recovery so far is not as bad as she had expected. With wide eyes she did tell me that she did almost pass out when the doc removed the bandages the morning after surgery!  The scars were longer than she thought they would be, going all the way into her armpits. The worst part for Amy was the drains even though she knew she would have them, she said she had no idea how long they would be, they went from the middle of her ribs, up over the top of the chest and into each armpit. And the fluid they collected had to be emptied, measured, and recorded twice a day!

Only 21 hours after surgery Amy was released from the hospital.  By day 6, she was healing well enough to get the drains out. After the removal was complete Amy went home with her husband and had a cry. Part of it was physical pain, but there was also mourning. She was confident that she made the right choice, but it was still hard to see. On day 10, she said she turned a corner and started to feel like herself again.

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She was able to  lift her arms over shoulder height and put on pull-over shirts! On day 13, she treated herself to a massage and had the stitches and staples removed. And on day 14, she got to see the wonderful Ash and document this step in my journey through photos. Below is one of those photos.

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Photo bt Ash Luna 4th Trimester Bodies Project (Link in pic)

Amy you look so confident and comfortable in your skin. You are such a strong individual to make the choices you have.

instagram link

 

Facebook link

I am a Provivor!

Original share date February 25, 2020

Meet Amy.  She is 37 years old.  She is married. She is a mom to three beautiful children.  She is a daughter, a friend and a sister. She is also a provivor.

What is a provivor you may ask….

Well many use the term previvor. However Amy asked me while we were discussing this post “can we use the word “pro-vivor” instead? It’s not as common but I like it because I was PROactive”. Absolutely we can!

So what is a provivor?  Provivors are individuals who are survivors of a predisposition to cancer but who haven’t had the disease. This group includes people who carry a hereditary mutation, a family history of cancer, or some other predisposing factor.

Amy’s story starts back when she was a child. She shared with me that from an early age, she and her brother could not help but notice how different their features were. Sure, not all siblings look alike but their differences seemed to be more extreme. Friends and even family used to tease her about how different she looked. She felt as though she was the “brown sheep” of the family. Sometimes they joked about how she must have been adopted, stolen, or had joined the family in some other less “traditional” way. When she attempted to discuss her questions parentage questions her mother was dismissive and laughed it off.

In 2018, Amy and her older brother decided to take DNA tests via Ancestry.com. If they could not get answers from their family they would find them on their own. She was surprised to say the least when her results revealed that she was in fact half Ashkenazi-Jewish! She had always been told she was almost exclusively Polish. Amy decided her next step was to test with 23andme. She hoped this would help her discover more about where she came from.

When she tested with 23andme, she decided to pay the extra for their health information screening. Knowing that Ashkenazi Jews are at higher risks for certain diseases, and not having any family medical information on on that side, she wanted to be as proactive as possible. Amy received her results back and they showed positive for the BRCA2 gene variation.  A positive test result which meant that she had a mutation in one of the breast cancer genes, for her it was the BRCA2, and therefore she had a much higher risk of developing breast cancer or ovarian cancer compared with someone who doesn’t have the mutation.

Amy immediatly booked an appointment to see a geneticist, who ordered a blood test to confirm her results. Another positive. The geneticist recommended she have her ovaries out as soon as possible, because ovarian cancer is typically missed until it is too late. BRCA2 isn’t quite as dangerous for breasts, and the current protocol is to have mammograms and breasts MRIs, alternating, every 6 months. Not knowing her paternal family history complicated things. If she had relatives that have had these cancers, they doctors might have to be more aggressive. She also explained she has dense breast tissue. High breast density means that a person has more fibrous tissue than fatty tissue in the breast. which can make it harder to find lumps.

When taking all of the factors into account she made the difficult decision to have a double mastectomy. Though she was terrified of going under general anesthesia, the watch and wait for the rest of her life option sounded much worse. Not to mention all the time off work to have the tests done, the copays involved, and the anxiety of waiting for results every 6 months.

Amy explained to me that since her kids have a 50/50 chance of inheriting this gene, they will all need to be tested when they are adults. BRCA2 can lead to male breast cancer, as well as prostate, so her son is just as much at risk as her daughters.

To be cont….

Previvor support

Mama Shares…

Original post date February 19, 2020

Some times just hearing other moms experiences with PPD helps to ease the feeling of being all alone. Here are a few short stories to boost your resolve….

Danica: We had a rocky journey that resulted in a lot of self sacrifice (but worth it!) my son was extremely “colicky” and had horrible reflux from birth. He was also diagnosed with a lip and tongue tie which made nursing extremely painful. We had it revised but the hours of screaming and crying persisted. Turns out he has a cows milk protein allergy so both of us had to go dairy free.. it helped but he was still having tummy issues so we both also eliminated soy (all forms), egg and gluten. It was extremely difficult to even find food to eat let alone eat enough to keep up my milk supply so my supply dropped and my son dropped to the 2nd % for weight. We started domperidone and increased my milk supply and I am happy to say that he is now almost a year old and he is back to the 50th percentile and we have added almost all proteins back into our diet and still going strong breastfeeding. It was very difficult for both of us but I am very proud that we persevered!

Brooklyn: I suffered from PPD and PPA. I waited 6 months before telling my doctor. I broke down in tears telling her about all of the dark places I went to in those months. She followed up with me 4 weeks later to see how my Zoloft was working. I broke down crying again but for a different reason, I felt like a whole new person! It was amazing and I was so thankful I decided to see her. I was so ashamed of my PPD/PPA. But now I’m more ashamed that society’s mold of a “perfect mom” held me back from getting the help that I needed. Whether it’s medication, therapy, or a more holistic approach, get the help you need and DESERVE! It will change your life.

Eva: I suffer from postpartum rage. I found out that it can develop until your baby is 2. My oldest just turned 2 when I finally got help, I fully believe I had double the rage from both of my babies. I got to a point where I was scared of myself, my husband worked on the road at the time. I knew I had to get help because my babies needed me to be okay.

Alex: I suffered from PPD in silence, I was told by my spouse and others I was not experiencing this. My thoughts were held against me during arguments, I felt so alone and broken. I didn’t understand why I didn’t love my baby like everyone else did. And I waited way too long to get help. When that light bulb finally clicked I realized ITS NOT ME! It is hormones, and as they wreaked havoc on my body during pregnancy, they continued as they were leaving my body. By that time the first few months of my daughter’s life was gone, I have no recollection of having a newborn. Talk to your doctor, it’s not you, and it’s not your fault! It’s okay to take meds! It’s okay to go to counseling! It’s okay to need alone time!

Renee: It was awful and rocked me to my core. PP anxiety brought with it rage.. social anxiety and so much more. I had no idea what was wrong with me, doctor never ever said anything. It also brought the worst guilt , even now 4 years later I still have the worst guilt.
Don’t be afraid to seek out help and don’t be ashamed if you need drugs to help. There are many natural meds that help also.
Talking really helped me, knowing I wasn’t alone, finding my triggers and working through them with a tool box full of strategies.
I still struggle some days , and some weeks but I know now it’s something that can be helped ❤️

In a world that Worships breasts..

Original post date February 13, 2020

Hello my lovelies. I would like to introduce you to Erin. Here she is in a recent photo with her beautiful brood. She looks so happy in this picture I love it.

But she has not always worn that smile….here’s why.

Awkward teenage me!

Ever since I started to develop, I hated my breasts. They didn’t grow right. One was pointed and the other was more “boob like”. I always heard people say that it was normal for them to be different so I just figured I had been dealt the short end of the stick. That being lopsided was just a variation of that normal. The differences in my breast made me terribly self conscious and embarrassed. I was even afraid to have a boyfriend. I had a very poor self esteem. In large it sucked growing up in a world that worships breasts.

I became involved with my 2 older kid’s father when I was only 19. unfortunately I found out much to late that he was a narcissist. His treatment of me and his behavior did not help me feel better about myself. This in fact added to my already low self esteem.

I had my first baby Nevaeh at age 21 (2010) and my second Chase in 2012. Nursing was hard for all of us but we powered though and I was able to produce just enough milk so that I did not have to supplement with formula. Both of my tiny humans were very “attached to the boob”. It felt as though I could barely put them down for the first 6 months of their lives. I did all that I knew how to try and increase my milk production. I drank the tea and ate the oatmeal and I took domperidone all in the attempt to avoid formula. these journeys were a success!

Fast forward a few years to 2015. I was pregnant with my 3rd baby but this time with a new partner.  Max was such a quiet baby. He didn’t want to stay attached to the boob like my other 2 children. I continued my breastfeeding journey however Chase got skinnier and skinnier. At one of our checkups my doctor said “he’s not gaining weight” and he wanted me to “eat as much high fat food as possible”. He advised that “if at the next visit he still hadn’t gained weight that formula supplementation would be needed”. At the next appointment sadly he had not put on weight and I began to supplement with formula. Although I did not want to do so it was needed for his health. That being said I still cried and suffered with feeling of loss. All I ever wanted to do was to nurse all my babies. I even used a supplemental nursing system to simulate breastfeeding while formula feeding.

Even with the supplemental formula when we went back to our next checkup he hadn’t gained much weight. My doctor yelled at me saying that I was not giving him the formula and I was starving him on purpose. Told me I had bad milk. Basically made me feel like a horrible mom. I was shocked and angry as I had done everything that I was told to do and more.

I decided to visit a lactation consultant. I told her all of what we had been though, what we had tried both medically and non. I cried while I told her what the doctor had accused me of and that he told me  “I had bad milk”. She looked me straight in the eye and gave me a firm look and said “no your milk isn’t bad” with a roll of her eyes lol. After examining Max she told me that in fact my precious baby boy was tongue and lip tied. After our meeting I did some research. When I searched all the symptoms I had almost all of them on the list. Even a bout of mastitis when he was about a month old.

We decided to get Max tongue and lip tie revision . This procedure is done with the laser. When I went back to the doctor I informed him that we had found out that Max had a tongue and lip tie and that we had had a procedure done to have it rectified. I was appalled when He rolled his eyes and said those lactation consultants always say that and you wasted your money. I was blown away once more when he told me he knew Max had ties and didn’t tell me. I was beyond angry. How dare he watch me and Max go through all that and not do all he could to help!

I’m getting mad all over again and hes 3 and half now lol.

Little Max ended up getting the most formula of all my children. My 4th baby was small as well and we gave her a bottle at night in addition to our regular breastfeeding schedule.  She is two and a half now.

I carried so much guilt with me surrounding my breastfeeding journey. Did I not eat enough? Drink enough? Why was it so hard for me to produce milk? I had friends that had to pump between feedings because they filled up so much and I could drink the tea and take domperidone and still could make barely any milk. Why me!

Once I had been done nursing for a couple years. It was time to get a physical done. I had never had a breast exam because I felt so self conscious about my breast  (I did however do monthly self exams and never found anything to worry about).  When the nurse started to examine me I broke down crying. She was astonished and confused asking what was wrong. I told her it was difficult for me to let anyone see my breasts and it’s uncomfortable to be touched. She must have understood as she from that point on made sure to talk to me and explain each step as we went. When she was done the exam she said “since I cant strangle you for not telling me sooner I’m going to send you to see a plastic surgeon” lol. I think they will be able to help you and provide you with the information you need. So I waited….

I had an anxiety attack every week until I went for that appointment. It was two months of agony worrying it was going to be a male doctor. I think that freaked me out the most.

Finally the day came to go to the appointment. As soon as we (my best friend since 15 years old was with me) pulled into the parking lot I started crying. It was so hard to walk into that office. I couldn’t fill out the paperwork because I was shaking so bad. My other bestie met us at the office to provide additional support. I was so relieved to find out I would be seeing a female doctor but it did not stop the tears. ( I’m crying again right now just reliving it). Once in her office she asked a few opening questions then it was time to show her. I squeezed my friends hand and closed my eyes as she opened my gown. It took her only a few seconds to say ” you have what’s called a tuberous breast defect. Its caused sometime in fetal development and they don’t know what causes it.” She went on to tell me that when I was developing, the tissue was “tied down” and that’s why it couldn’t grow at all. She said it makes nursing extremely difficult and up to 60% of women cant nurse at all with this defect.

The tears streamed down my face but this time they were tears of relief as the weight of the years of guilt lifted off my shoulders. I wanted to yell from the mountain tops that it wasn’t my fault! It wasn’t that I didn’t drink enough or that I had bad milk, I had a defect!  The best part of all that she told me was that it’s not hereditary so my kids shouldn’t have to suffer through what I did.

Due to this being a defect it would be covered by health care to get it fixed! My friend almost lost it as well when she heard the emotion from me when I heard that I was going to be able to get it fixed.  It was explained that the doctor would have to release the tissue and put in an expander. Its basically a balloon that is filled over time and it stretches the skin to make enough to create a breast.

Me at the hospital waiting for surgery!
Tongue tie photo was a screen grab

I wasn’t making plans for us in case “something” happened…

Original post date February 11, 2020

Fletcher and I

He is so perfect! 
My friends and family told me all the time that I had a great baby, a perfect baby in fact. He didn’t cry, he didn’t fuss and he didn’t need to be on me all the time. On the outside I was a happy new mom basking in the love and newness of my son.

But on the inside….:(

Chad Sonnenberg Photography

I was beginning to have thoughts of how inadequate I was, not only as a person but more importantly a mother. It was easy to blame myself for small things that would happen. I started crying multiple times a day over things I couldn’t control. I was at such a low point I began to self harm and started to think how much better my partner and baby would be without me. It got to the point where I wasn’t safe in my own mind and body, I ended up in the hospital. I was so scared to bring it up to any family or friends for fear of being dismissed and told it was normal. If this was normal how the hell was I going to survive the year?

Postpartum anxiety to me felt like sludge water that I was perpetually stuck in. The more I tried to move to get out the slower and more tired I became. I had a crippling fear around him sleeping, I had anxiety about the future. I wasn’t making plans for us in case “something” happened. To top it all off I wasn’t sleeping and It wasn’t the typical tiredness you hear parents get. I was getting maybe 2 hours or 3 hours of sleep a day for weeks on end. I was up every 2 hours to feed and I was not waking my partner to share in these feedings despite supplementing through pumping and formula because my milk wasn’t coming in. I would wake up with the overwhelming need just to watch over him sleeping and to make sure he was breathing. My body wasn’t healing fast and I was frustrated I couldn’t fit comfortably anywhere for longer than ten minutes.

My saving grace was the home visitations I got from a wonderful woman through Alberta Parenting For The Future. They offered home visitation to new parents where someone would come in once a week to show me parenting tips and tricks and just provided me with some support and company. She noticed a few signs and asked casually if I had ever heard of postpartum anxiety and depression. I told her I had, but hadn’t looked into it. I could only really remember the purple posters on the walls in my OBGYN’s office. She told me a lot about my communities resources and connected me with a local post partum therapy group that met once a week and offered childcare for two hours.

This group ended up being the most life saving resource for me. I met other amazing mothers who dealt with the same emotions I was. I was put in touch with counselors in the area who could help me free of charge. I learned that It’s normal to have bad dreams and it’s normal to worry. What we need to know is how to tell when these emotions have exceeded the normal. It’s not normal to be sleepless for days and nights and weeks on end. It’s not normal to tell ourselves to just get through it. It’s NOT normal to raise children without support! Just because you can doesn’t mean you should or have to.

Starting medication to assist with my anxiety was beneficial, the days became bearable and easier to handle. I wasn’t having the gripping panic attacks, the hospital visit i had had in the midst of my suicidal ideation seemed far away and like a dream. Most importantly I made a long term connection and friend with another mother who is a Doula.

The group is a resource I now recommend to all new moms. Most communities have free resources to help parents struggling with Postpartum Mood Disorders. It amazed me how healing it was just hearing how similar other parents stories were. Community care is the most important thing we can offer new parents.

Emerson and I

I’ve been going to a group for PPMD (Postpartum Mood Disorder) for a year now and it has helped immensely. I just had my second baby two weeks ago and I already feel there are more emotions inside of me than simple the baby blues. I know where this can lead and I am ready for it. I’ll be starting Zoloft again to help with the stave off the Postpartum Anxiety.

If you’re in Alberta please call healthlink and they can refer you to free local resources. Talk to your GP about this and know you’re not alone in this. Anger, sleep, resentment, anxiety and fears are things we need help with. Community care goes a long way.                                                                               

You Are Not Alone

Jordie

You are NOT alone…

Origanally posted February 9, 2020

Pregnant Mom Fatally Shot Toddler Son Before Killing Herself in Rocky Mountain National Park  

image: Tristen Watson. (Screen grab)   

I woke up to this headline only a short time ago. It was not the first this year that I have seen, read and wept over. Not only for the children lost but for the mother who felt so lost that this was what she felt was the right thing to do. Post Partum Depression is a Killer.

It is so hard to not automatically jump to judgments in these cases. I am not hear to try and convince you of this mom’s innocence nor of her guilt. I am here to tell all the moms who are feeling lost. The ones hearing voices, having horrible nightmares, the ones feeling unworthy and trying to hide.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

ITS OK TO NOT BE OK

AND ITS OK TO ASK FOR HELP!

Canada Suicide Prevention Service (CSPS) by Crisis Services Canada, enables callers anywhere in Canada to access crisis support by phone, in French or English: toll-free 1-833-456-4566 Available 24/7

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

For more help lines, Chat lines ect. please go to:

Watch for the upcoming experiences of a few of our own followers. 

Feed All The Babies!!

Originally posted February 4, 2020

When Brittany started her journey into motherhood the breast vs formula debate never played a significant role in any decision she made.

I love it when I hear moms who do not feel guilty for feeding their babies formula! Wether that be out of medical necessity or by personal choice.

She knew that breast milk was the best for her child but also knew that formula was there in case, if like her mother she was unable breast feed. she was 24 years old when she got pregnant with her Christmas miracle, she had been told at 13 she would not be able to conceive her own biological child. Brittany’s oldest Amazing, Clever, and just like Momma, Daughter Mia was Born on her Great Grandmothers birthday December 19th, 5 days before her due date.

Mia

Brittany had suffered from the flu up until her fever along with her water broke on the night of December 18th. the waters were green, Mia had had a bowel movement in utero. As soon as Brittany reached the hospital she was induced, they were excted that they were going to meet their baby!  She came naturally although fast. The doctor did not even have her gloves on, nor was she able to catch her before she made her grand debut, healthy and crying at 6:32 am and 6 lb 3 oz. Mia immediately started breastfeeding. Within 24 hours this new mama had cracked, bleeding nipples. She was in misery, crying in pain. She saw the lactation consultant and was told Mia was latching perfectly. Brittany endured the pain and bleeding and a miraculous thing happened, she developed the most amazing bond with her daughter even through the initial 2 weeks of agony. She advisedshe was in a blissful state. Her baby was thriving and growing. She mostly slept for the first week but then she “woke up”.

Mia screamed and she puked. For 5 weeks this beautiful amazing baby cried and puked. She was 6 weeks old when Mommy broke down and called her big sister crying because she hadn’t slept in a week. She insisted that Brittany take the little girl to the Stollery Children’s Hospital. At the appointment Brttany was informed that her little girl not only had GERD, but also a cows milk protein intolerance. She was prescribed an anti acid to help with the GERD and a special hypoallergenic formula to hopefully help her not throw up as much, even though she was growing at an amazing rate.

Mama was devastated. she had such an amazing breastfeeding bond with her little one that even though it was medically necessary, she was sad to end the journey. It had only been a 6 short weeks.

Kierra

They started trying for their next child when Mia was 6 months old. A fast 2 months later Brittany became pregnant with her second Daughter Kierra. She was born exactly 17 months to the day after her sister on May 19th at 3:23 pm and 5 lb 7 oz. The only one available to deliver Kierra was a student doctor she came so fast? She latched on perfectly right from the start. Bruttany said that she had been expecting the same sore nipples and bleeding as she had experienced with Mia but that didn’t happen. Everything was perfect. Except that she was now running after a 17 month old that didn’t understand and her wanted mommy’s attention. Even though everything was great physically with breastfeeding Kierra, they never developed the same strong bond to breastfeeding. When Brittany needed to be put on medication that was not breastfeeding compatible it was an easy decision for her to end this seasons btreatfeeding journey. After 2 months this breastfeeding journey was over.

After Kierra was born they did not think much about having another child. brittany had an IUD implanted and life carried on. When Kierra was about a year old they decided that they would try for a boy in the fall. After having some minor issues with her IUD it was removed in November of 2017, at which time the fun started trying for a boy. She wanted a boy so much. Her husband agreed to try for baby number 3, but he was hoping for another girl.

Savannah

In October of 2018 after a grueling pregnancy and traumatic birth a third daughter Savannah came into this world in such a rush that it was miracle a doctor was even in the room. She arrived at 6:28 pm and weighed in at 5 lb 14 oz.  Brittany was determined to breastfeed, and she did.

Days then weeks went by and it was noticed that baby Savannah wasn’t growing like her sisters had. She was tiny and stayed tiny. At her 2 month check up the nurse was a bit worried about her lack of grown. She advised Savannah was at 0.9% for height, 11% for weight and 50% for head circumference. Nothing super alarming but she wasn’t growing very much. Supplementing was brought up and although not opposed to formula. Brittany chose to continue breastfeeding. The had built a great breastfeeding routine, she was eating regularly, was a happy and content baby. Always smiling and rarely cried.

At her 4 month check up she had lost weight and gained no height. The nurse was a concerned and suggested supplementing with formula and coming in for an extra check up at 5 months. At this point we chose to switch to formula not only for her health and growth but because mentally. Mommy was completely wiped from dealing with not only her not growing but also battling post partum depression because of her traumatic birth. Within days they could see that Savannah was finally growing! At her 5 month check up she had gained a whopping 4 lbs and 0.5 of an inch! It was an amazing transformation to see. Baby girl, who you wouldn’t believe was slowing starving, was growing! She is now 10 months old, thriving and growing like a weed. Happy and healthy as always. She is now in the 80th percentile for her weight. She’s still on the shorter side but that’s just the genetic make up she was given.

“I sit her today with a 4.5 year old, a 3 year old and a 10 month old and am incredibly thankful for even the short amount of time I was able to breastfeed my children, and the ability to continue feeding them with formula to help then grow, thrive and survive. My daughters are here happy healthy and surviving thanks to a combination of Breastfeeding and Formula. Without my children would not be here.”

Our Family

When we were expecting and researching our feeding options (my son was born via surrogate) I found The Military Wife and Mom blog. This post helped me. Go take a look its a great read!  Subscribe to New Posts

A Journey Through Loss

Story and photos be removed.

Originally shared January 31, 2020

Beating The Odds! Meet Annie and Charlie

Originaly published January 30, 2020

“It’s commonly known that babies with down syndrome can’t breastfeed.” Annie told me.

“Really? I never knew that.”

“At least, that’s what a lot of people in the medical field well tell you.” she continued

” Looks like you proved them wrong! Tell me your journey.”

Annie settled in and walked me though her amazing journey of beating the odds…

Fortunately for us, I gave birth to my perfect daughter Charlie with a midwife at the birth center and no one told us that we couldn’t breastfeed.

The first thing to know is that my little princess had low muscles tone. This made it very difficulty for her to suckle. It was also why it took a lot of energy just for her to breath. She would quickly tire and was falling asleep very easily (and for long periods of time). I remember waking up in panic the first night because my baby had been sleeping for 5 hours straight and I was expecting her to wake me up to nurse like other babies do.

See, babies with down syndrome follow their own logic. No baby is a textbook baby, but these special babies are really nailing it at confusing their caregivers. She wasn’t waking up to nurse, she wasn’t searching for the breast, she didn’t cry until her first vaccines and barely ever after that. Until she became a toddler. They are perfect textbook toddlers.

It would have been so easy to just give up on breast feeding, but I didn’t. We supplemented Charlie with a small cup, pumping and setting our alarm clock too feed her during the night. When we consulted the breastfeeding clinic of our hospital, they suggested to give her a bottle to train her mouth’s muscles. When I was telling you that these babies are special, that’s proof. For two months we exercised her muscles so she could nurse efficiently. And it worked! At 2.5 months she was taking 100 gr/day, without bottle or any device.

It was important for me to breastfeed my daughter because I knew she was vulnerable to infections and sickness due to her poor immune system. We will never know if it really helped her to be breastfeed but my instinct tells me that it did.

What I didn’t know is that she also had dysphagia and drinking liquids was dangerous for her. For more than 2 years she never drank more than 1 oz per day in addition to my milk. She was simply chocking every time, and very early on was afraid of drinking from something other than the breast. Basically, she could not deal with the amount of liquid in her mouth and swallowing at the same time. Having low sensibility in her mouth also didn’t help. But it was not as problem for her to nurse because the effort she was making to suck properly was stimulating her mouth enough and she could control the speed and the quantity of milk she was getting.

I ended up breastfeeding her for 2 years and 3 months. Shortly after I stopped, I heard of you and I could express more milk to have a bead made. It meant the world to me.

So, it might not be the norm to breastfeed a baby with down Syndrome, nor to convince that it was the best option for us. Today, this warrior baby is 5 years old and a wonderful little girl who’s getting ready for school next year! And today I’m grateful to have a beautiful bead that I will proudly wear for her first day of school.

P.s. When I show her the bead last week she was emotional and wanted to keep for herself saying that it was her milk.
Annie 

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