Friday, August 8, 2014

Our Big Fat Greek/Italian Reunion, Christening, and Wedding {Michigan Part III}

One of the many reasons why we made the road trip to Michigan was so that we could have a little family reunion (on my dad's side). It was the first time we had all been together in a very long time- since 1990 to be exact- and there were lots of new little cousins running around that we had yet to meet.  With my cousin's wedding that weekend, my aunt thought it would be the perfect chance to have a Redente family BBQ. 
Everdeen was having no part of a cousin picture...
The four inexplicable blond haired cousins 
Anthony and Vincent playing with, cool, Great Uncle Ed
The next day we woke up early and put on our Sunday best for my nephew Oliver's Christening. We drove through downtown Detroit and into Greek town...hoping we wouldn't take a wrong turn and end up on some sketchy part of 8 Mile Road. The Greek Church was beautiful and it was so special to get to whiteness such a unique ceremony...all in Greek of course! Oliver is now officially Greek and will soon learn how to shout Opa! and throw back a shot of Ouzo. I kid...
After a celebration luncheon my sisters and I hopped in the car with my mom and drove around the small town of Northville, where she had grown up.  My mom showed us the home she had lived in, her schools she had attended, and the church where my parents were married. We even got to say hello to her dear friend who she has known since primary school :) I think it must always be bittersweet visiting a place you hold dear to your heart...especially when every time you come back it has changed and grown. Sometimes I wish places never changed, but stayed a time stamp of what was then. 

That evening we were off to Detroit once more, but this time for our cousins's wedding at the Masonic Temple. I had never driven around Detroit until now.  It had sort of an eerie feeling to down, trash along the roads. What were once beautiful old brick buildings and houses were now boarded up and abandoned. It was sad to think that this city was once powerful and great and today it looks like it's been through war...which in a way, I guess it sort of has been.
The wedding was beautiful and we had a great time celebrating with our family! Martin and I enjoyed our second date in two months- I know I know, we're getting carried away...

The next morning we awoke at quarter to 4 to say goodbye to Kate and Bobby and began to pack up the car for the long 18 hour trip back to Colorado.  I'm so glad we all decided to go together...all the memories we shared and the special moments we witnessed.  It was the perfect way to end my summer vacation. I'm back to school next week so we are soaking up these last few days together as a family. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Backyard Fit for a Fairy {Michigan Part II}

The first thing we did after unloading the car was go swimming. My brother-in-law's family pool is a balmy 92 degrees. It was A M A Z I N G!  Yaya and Pappou's backyard was beautiful. It was green, lush, and had the most magical feeling to it. I could have lived in the moss covered gazebo hidden behind the trees... at least until winter came...
Everdeen loved being able to float all by herself!
Pappou made the biggest bubbles we'd ever seen!
Little Oliver with his Great Pappou

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

My Story {In Honor Of World Breastfeeding Week}

It's been a little less than two years and I still have twinges of guilt that flood me. You see, my breastfeeding experience wasn't what I thought it was going to be. I felt defeated at the end -like I had failed at the most important thing...feeding my new daughter.  How can something so natural be so hard? There are so many stories out there from other moms, but maybe my story will help someone else out there know that they don't have to be alone when struggling with breastfeeding. 

*  *  *

When Everdeen was born she was immediately taken away to be suctioned. They had found meconium and thought it might be in her lungs. When they finally placed her little body on mine I felt such a sense of relief...but I had hoped that I would have been the first one to hold her. 
My doula stayed with me and helped Everdeen latch on right away. But the moment she started nursing I felt an excruciating pain. I knew breastfeeding might be uncomfortable, but this pain was too much to bear. I remember the nurses kept asking me what my pain level was while breastfeeding. I'm not one to usually complain to strangers, but I remember saying it was beyond a 10. My doula worked with me the entire time I was in the hospital trying to problem solve. Everdeen's latch was good...although there was thought that maybe the suctioning had caused her some trauma and had her wanting to clamp down when nursing. I worked with the hospital's lactation specialist and by the end of our time together she had diagnosed me with Raynaud's Phenomenon She prescribed me a medication called Nifidipine, usually used to treat high blood pressure. I was feeling overwhelmed as a new mother and on top of everything else breastfeeding was becoming more difficult than I had ever thought it would be. However, I left the hospital feeling hopeful that I could overcome the pain and have a successful breastfeeding experience with Everdeen.
A few days into our new adventure and I felt like I was beginning to get the hang of everything.  My doula came over several times to make sure Everdeen's latch was successful and to make sure things were going smoothly.  She suggested I use a heating pad before I nursed to help open the blood vessels, which would ease the pain. I had begun taking my new medication and thought I was seeing improvements. But a few days later I experienced sever dizziness that left me crawling on my hands and knees praying I wouldn't pass out with my newborn baby in my arms. I stopped taking the medication right away and told myself I would just bear through the pain...I mean maybe it would get better with time? 

It didn't. I remember my mom and older sister would stop by after work and check in on me those first few weeks. Everdeen would be crying and ready to eat, but I was beginning to resent feeding her. I cried almost every time she latched on. It was like forcing myself to keep touching the hot burner on the stove every two hours. I just couldn't do it anymore. My older sister, who was still nursing my 8 month old nephew, took Everdeen and fed her for me. She didn't feel any pain from her latch so I knew it really must be me. They gently suggested I try to feed Everdeen some formula...just to give myself a rest...I burst into tears (for the 40 millionth time). I didn't want to have to supplement. I wanted my baby to have my milk. My doula suggested that maybe I consider solely pumping and bottle feeding my breast milk. I liked that idea.

The next day I went out and bought myself a pump. I learned how to power pump to get my milk supply up and began pumping every two hours. Strangely enough, pumping didn't hurt nearly as bad as nursing. But it was time consuming and exhausting. I felt guilty leaving Everdeen in the baby swing while I sat at the kitchen table listening to the droning sound of the pump...a sound that had become all too familiar very quickly. The worst was when I pumped after Everdeen's 1am feeding. I could barely keep my eyes open, but knew if I skipped the session my milk supply would begin to decrease. 
A few weeks later I did notice that my milk supply was decreasing and the power pumping I did didn't seem to be working anymore. My start back to work was looming in the very near future and I feared that I wouldn't be able to keep up my supply once I started back. I began to start supplementing Everdeen's bottles with formula when I went back to work in the fall. I tried to pump at school, but it was just too difficult.  It only took a few weeks before I was barely able produce milk anymore. 

The decision to stop pumping and to move to just formula was one of the hardest decisions I've had to make. I think from an outsiders perspective it seemed like the obvious choice...but my mommy guilt was crushing and I felt like I had given up. Everdeen had gotten my milk for three months, which is wonderful! But I couldn't see that. I remember feeling mad and jealous at those around me who seemed to have no problems nursing. I felt hurt by anything I read that suggested formula fed babies were inferior to breastfed babies. But secretly deep down I also felt a sense of relief. I didn't have to spend hours pumping now and I could truly enjoy feeding my sweet girl for the first time. There were no more tears, just songs sung while I rocked my little one while she ate. Martin was really able to start bonding with Everdeen while feeding her too, which wasn't something he hadn't been able to do before.
When I look back at my story it's just that...mine. No one else's will be quite the same, but maybe my words can give a little reassurance to someone experiencing something similar. Whether you breastfeed, pump, or formula feed, one thing is still the same.  We are all mothers and we can only do the best we can do at that time. And most importantly, we have to accept that each of our stories will be different, not better or worse.

2500 miles {Michigan Part I}

We're home! I can officially check road trip off my bucket list. Road trips always seem so romantic...nothing but the wide open road in front of you...snuggled close with the ones you love. I guess it was a little like that until our arms fell asleep from being squished in the back seat. My sisters and I decided a couple of months ago to caravan out to Michigan for our cousin's wedding and my little nephew's would be a busy few days there, but we were ready for our jam packed weekend.  We packed the cars full, charged up the iPod with all of my husband and brother-in-laws favorite songs (Mama Mia, Frozen, and other amazing road trip sing alongs) and hit the road at the beautiful time of 4:30 in the morning.
 Indiana...home of The Christmas Story :)
It was nice having four adults in the car to switch off driving through endless corn fields.  Although, I have to admit, the midwest is quite beautiful with its rolling hills and is much greener than I thought it would be.  We stopped every couple of hours to let the little ones run around and to figure out where our next stop on the map would be. 
This was the moment that we broke out the Frank Sinatra :)
Once we got into Michigan the names of cities where familiar once more.  My mom was born and raised in Michigan and my parents met and fell in love in Kalamazoo while attending Western Michigan University. This was my first time back since I was in high school.
It took us two very long days, through six states, and only one meltdown from Everdeen, but we made it safe and sound. My sister's in-laws hosted all of us and our families in their cozy home.  It was so nice to get to spend a few days with my two sisters being well fed and well taken care of :)