nothing a little sunshine, sleep, food and love can't fix

last weekend we had to have an intervention for my sister.

just a disclaimer, never let anyone tell you it's easy-breezy having a newborn. it is hard work, you're exhausted, you might even be recovering from some crazy physical trauma brought on by childbirth, you're starting to lose your grip on reality due to lack of sleep. not to mention you are tackling the often frustrating and mysterious process of breastfeeding. for me it was a bit easier because my baby is very mellow and good natured; she only cried when she was hungry and nursing went really well for us. plus she was a summer baby so we were able to get outdoors a lot and friends were over all the time visiting and holding her.
 but in addie's case, things had been very very trying, and she was at the end of her rope. 

so last saturday our friend rebecca went to pick addie up and bring her here for a few days. she brought fuel: ladies vitality mix trail mix, cheesy tortellini, fresh baked pastries. we set up camp for ade in our bedroom, heater on, bathroom close at hand, and piles of squishy pillows. bowls of snacks and iphone by her side.
we put her to bed and i took her baby to care for awhile.

darin and lucy and i set up our own nest in the living room for a couple nights, a big snuggle fest.

addie's baby, little Utah, had not been gaining weight and she's had low milk production. we figure this is due to many factors: insufficient sleep, poor appetite, stress and anxiety and fatigue and physical trauma. he would struggle and scream at her breast, over and over again, and lactation consultants and pediatricians were all telling her different stories, giving her conflicting advice. it didn't take much for us to figure out that he was simply starving! 
so while she worked on getting herself back in working order, i acted as wet-nurse and took him to my own breast a few times over the weekend. this way we were able to let her sleep a good chunk after several days of almost no sleep. she would wake up and nurse him as long as he'd go, then i would help get him full and comfy and back to sleep. we had a very successful night...and look how much better she was feeling by morning: 

the cousins who play together, stay together.

plus here in placerville we have all the family around to help out. 

and best of all, we all got a healthy dose of vitamin d. the sun was shining all day sunday and we relaxed in the backyard.

so over here it's been a big baby nurse-in. we've had pumping going on, (eight year old sylvan said "it looks like addie's doing a very strange experiment in there" when he walked in and addie was modestly pumping both breasts in the kitchen) bottles warming in cups of hot water, burp cloths draped over chairs, babies in moses basket or swing or someone's arms. babies in pajamas, babies in baths, babies rolling over. little utah can already roll over and he is only four weeks old. he can hold his head up like a champ! he is the strongest little newborn i've ever seen. now that he is consistently getting full he can devote more energy to checking out the world around him, and he is a bright and beautiful little boy.

back at home for the past week, addie and her little family are much revived. things are still hard but she's learning about herself, her baby, and what they need to get through their days without total breakdowns :)
i am afraid my own sunshiney approach to new parenthood did not help her fully prepare for the realities of having a newborn in your life and becoming a new mama. if anyone has words of encouragement or advice for her, spill em here and i'll share them with her!


Sadie Rose said…
WOW. what a blessing that you can nurse her baby! shared nursing touches my heart in a very profound way. i am sending big loving milk vibes to utah and addie. i know how disheartening nursing struggles can be, but i also know that the only people in the world up for the challenge are mamas. XOXO
Teeny said…
Far out! I haven't been in the blogosphere for a little while, and I almost missed this! Poor Adie. Please give her my love and best best thoughts. Thank goodness she has you love for a sister. Has anyone talked about silent reflux? Mia had it, she couldn't gain weight, only fed for little bits at a time as feeding so uncomfortable in her tummy, lots of hiccups, appeared to be swallowing back sick , was uncomfortable after feeding, preferred being upright to lying down, couldn't sleep, screamed alot, especially after feeding? If you think it could be so, drop me an email or something and I can tell you about our experience and what helped. Babes with reflux learn to roll early from tummy to back because it hurts being on tummy (is that the rolling you meant?). so glad Adie has you. So so glad. xoxox
Milla said…
Oh Dear Adie! You guyses family is such a blessing, my goodness. Gosh, being a new mama is not easy-breazy at all, it's all consuming. Having not experienced it first hand, I have no advice to offer that someone else couldn't give better, but this: ASK FOR HELP. Just ask, folks around you will be more than happy to give what you need and more. And also, it'll get easier, soon. Oh and also, your baby boy is the cutest. He is such a dear-looking being and kinda looks like an old soul. I can't wait to meet these amazing cousins.

So much love and care and good vibes to you m'dear.

Heather, you nursing Utah makes me so happy. It seems to me that a family as tight as yours just keeps flowing and growing and having all this beautiful connection and great stories. I love reading about the good, the bad and the lovely tales of the Beatty's.
Trish said…
Oh bless you.. how lovely you are.
I was 24 years old when I had my first daughter Izzy. I had no one to help me (apart from my brilliant man, thank goodness), and I would say the first few months are foggy, I can't remember much apart from being shocked, frightened, tired and overwhelmed.. with all those feelings and love. When I had my second daughter Rosie 3 years later, that was completely different. I remember every second of the birth, and she was just so easy (compared to Izzy).
Your sister will be fine, I'm sure of it. She just needs to heal, and adjust to this new way of life. It is such a shock.
I read a book by Juliette de Bairacli Levy recently about her travels in Spain. She had a young child and a newborn baby and then contracted typhus. She was so ill she was unable to feed her baby, so a young gypsy woman fed her for her. After a while the gypsy had to leave, and so the baby was put on the goat at the water mill were she was living, to feed on her milk. The goat used to come to the baby at feeding times. Juliette wanted to take the goat with her when she left (the love she must have had for that goat!), but was unable.
Blessings to you and your beautiful family.
Andrea said…
I have tears in my eyes... what a wonderful sister you are (and have). You are both so lucky to have one another-- and to be sharing this experience. I was under the impression that this was not Addie's first child? Is that so?

I think its wonderful that you have each other to help out and my goodness to even offer your milk in times of trial such as this. It was a very common problem in the past-- and how wonderful that rather than being left to fen for herself, Addie has had you and Darin to help out and allow her the time and space she needed to heal and handle little Utah! So beautiful!

As a side note, I have been trying to convince many people I know--that it would be a great idea if we get pregnant together :) I have to admit this is more selfish than anything, I just really want someone to go through the process with. And clearly, there are many points in which a "sister" (mine is much older and no longer child-bearing) seems oh so needed :)

Much love, peace, and sunshine your way Heather! Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said…
Bach's Rescue Remedey saved me. I had similar problems (my sone will be a year at the end of Febuary. My nipples hurt so bad I couldn't nurse, we had to pump and bottle feed. it was very stressfull. he wouldn't sleep without being held and walked around. I couldn't sleep. I had a c-section. I was hanging on by a tiny thread. I took rescue remedey all day long with great results. My sone had been sleeping 12 hours a night for the past six months and I feel like myself again. That is the best I can tell you . I hope it helps a bit.
Anonymous said…
What a wonderful thing that you have each other. Best advice i got: at around three months feeding changes and if you can hold on to then it gets better. Struggling in the beginning has nothing to do with how much you love your child and as it gets easier you'll have plenty of chances to catch up on snuggly happy times.
And my own: feeling exhausted and wanting to stay in bed to catch up on sleep is one thing, not seeing the point in getting up at all, ever, is another and that feeling must be taken seriously.
Wish you both all the best, Alice
Tera said…
You are all truly amazing, TRULY AMAZING!

What I have observed is easy pregnancy, dream birth (birthing goes as you planned and wanted), breastfeeding ease and postpartum recovery (no depression or extreme exhaustion)....just doesn't happen, but for a rare, rare few.

I think having a strong support system works miracles. It can speed recovery, keep the baby blues from turning into post partum depression even. This book helps keep nutrition up to prevent a health crisis:

I believe any type of exhaustion: sleep, nutrient, physical...can lead us mothers down a bad road and recovery can be hard . This book offered me a reminder that proper nutrition post partum is as important as it is while pregnant. When I eat right and get my nutrients, I do great! A day of snacking without proper meals will leave me tired, cranky and emotional. Arnica homeopathic pills really helped my innards heal fast. I experienced a quick recovery from a c-section because of those lil white arnica pills every few hours.

I have never had a problem with milk supply but I love almond milk and poultry or meat based soups and broths. In several cultures they preach chicken soups and broths-dark meat- to increase milk production. Stressed is also grain beverages and the US says beer helps but because of the alcohol content, it may not be helpful to some. My uncle said in Mexico he tells his mothers to drink rice water, rice milk, horchata basically and champurrado which is like a watery oatmeal sort of drink. rest and relaxation, love and support do go far. You are all healers! Hugs to you and your sister. XO

thank you so much everyone for your wonderful stories and advice and encouragement. it really means a lot to me and my family.

andrea, this is definitely her first child! she wasn't even sure she wanted to have children for quite some time which might help explain why the transition to motherhood is a little more difficult for her.

in case i made anyone worry that she is battling PPD, rest at ease. we talk constantly and she is fine, she probably has something more akin to post partum anxiety and is taking all the proper steps to alleviate those feelings. once her physical condition is fixed (it's going to require surgery in a couple months) she will be doing A LOT better! thank you all so much for your kindness and concern.
Penny said…
Heros, the whole naturally-instinctive loving bunch of you! Especially Addie. I think it's true that the scarier and tougher the climb, the braver the heroine who attempts/endures/sacrifices and/conquers. No doubt in my mind that you, Addie, are already victorious. Carry on.
Anonymous said…
i'm fucking crying over here, with relief for addie and you, with the beauty of you being able to WET NURSE (holygoodgoddamn that's RAD!) and also with sorrow because i had an experience so similar to addie's, but i had to go it alone. the good news is, i made it, but oh how things could have been different...

i had low milk production too, and i wish someone had told me not to pump. pumping can actually lower milk production, because it's just not the same as the babe. i pumped in the middle of the night for fern, and i think it made things worse. because the latch is a problem, i know you want to pump to keep up thing to try is to offer time at the breast more frequently.

also, i will second what teeny said about silent reflux. fern had it too.

do you know about kellymom?

also, the best advice i got was from an online friend. she lives in the midwest, but the two (long) phone calls i had with her were life savers. she consulted with me for return i made her daughter a dolly (the one on my blog). let me know if you want to connect with her and i'll introduce you on FB.

this consultant also recommended 'the 24 hour cure', where mama and babe stay in bed, naked, together, for 24 hours. it can go a long way for neural production for babe, rest for mama, and breastfeeding bonding.

so much love to you sisters. please tell addie she's not alone, that lots of moms have experiences like this, and that no matter how hard it is now, she WILL get through it. you all will.
Anonymous said…
also, there are lots of food and herb tricks to try, but you may already know. feel free to pick my brain. xoxoxo
Anonymous said…
gah, ok one last thing...i swear ;)

infant cranial sacral is AMAZING for babes with birth trauma and problems with BF. fern swallowed meconium and they sucked it out by forcing a tube down her throat. we knew this had to do with her latch issues...cranial really helped.
Heather said…
What a blessing she got a reprieve over the weekend that will do her a world of good!! My first son was a monster to nurse he cried all the time and he lost weight at first as well. I had a very powerful let down and he just couldn't handle it. It would come out so fast he would choke and then get really angry and cry. I got a lot of conflicting advice they kept telling me I did not make enough milk but it was actually the opposite one nurse I spoke with said I made so much milk I could have fed the entire ward lol!! It wasn't my milk production it was the strong letdown and then he was having trouble latching on. I supplemented some to help us get over the hump and have him put some weight on. I really wish I had known someone else who was nursing that would have been very helpful. You need lots of rest, any help she can get and eat healthy and stay hydrated.
Nursing can be very challenging depending on the child my first was just a really difficult event all around my other 2 kids nursed from birth and not a problem at all. It is very important she has some she can trust that knows about lactation so that she does not get conflicting advice as well. I got some very bad advice when I first start nursing and it made the situation much worse by having me worried and freaking out. ~Good Luck to your Sis I am sure in a few weeks they all will have adjusted some more and all these things will work themselves out. ~Just the cutest babies over here ~Love Heather
Anonymous said…
Hi, Heather!

We were friends for about five seconds on MySpace a few years ago, before I closed my account. :) Your daughter is gorgeous. I'm so happy for you! I'm pretty excited for your sister too. Here's my advice about her situation. If she continues to feel unwell she should seek the help of a doctor. I had similar issues when I had my daughter eleven years ago. Her pediatrician noticed I wasn't doing well and promptly sent me to a therapist. Getting therapy and turning to my family for help was the best thing I could have done. My daughter screamed night and day. I was getting no sleep and I thought I was going nuts. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and given a prescription for an antidepressant. Medication might not be something your sister is interested in taking. That's okay, but she definitely needs consistent help with her baby until she pulls through this. You will all be in my prayers.


anne said…
oh heather! when i read you nursed addie's babe it made me shed a tear! what a gift to give your sweet sis! being a new mother was SO hard for me, actually with each new child i've had there was always that difficult transition period. i'm so glad to hear you all intervened. wishing the best for all!
Tera said…
That book helps with PPA as well.
Tina Dawn said…
Bless all of you! Love Tina
Rehan Ahmed said…
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GrittyPretty said…
love all of the many pictures of so many pillows propping up little people and the big ones too!!! Yay for pillows! and congrats to Addie on her gorgeous lad! (i love his name). and my only offering to her new mothering self is to ask her to please o please have the world's coziest easy chair recliner thingy where she can watch mindless tv or shallow movies or listen to podcasts while sleeping, eating, basically never having to move while everyone serves her meals so she can concentrate on feeding the handsome boy and sleeping and healing. It is hard work to sit still and heal and be awake at odd hours all night and day. xoxoxoxo! much love to you all! and many blessings on the new family!
Rachel Weaver said…
I love watching/ reading/ seeing you and your family interact. It inspires me to be a better sister.
Amy Beatty said…
you and pops and darin and luc are just heaven sent to darling addie!! i agree with gritty!!! rest, water, sunshine and good food!! sounds so easy but truly can be impossible with a new little man who wants endless love xoxo I love this post. I have thought about it and ponder over it over and over again. but TIME will heal it all. we just must survive the moment and try to have the best time during it :) its just so hard to live in a nightmare that seems never ending, but they do end!! there is light and I'm jealous of that sunshine and all that family love going on over there!! baby in the basket!!! thats my dream. little lucy in her little spring outfit is too freaking cute!! love love love our little cousins xoxo and their parents xoxo so proud to be part of this amazing family xo kisses to all xo
dolly anna said…
oh. wow.
i can hardly gather my thoughts about this because the memories that it brings back are so raw.
raw raw raw.

adie, i had the shittiest time after link was born. i thought it would be a breeze, i thought it would be bliss! i mean, i had already worked my way through a teen pregnancy/adoption, so i thought that once my "on purpose" baby came i could have those sweet, tender experiences. NOT.

i just about died.
the soul wrenching pain from the confusion, the skewed identity, the spiritual emergence......i had to pound my my through.

i was so hung up on being able to breastfeed successfully that i feel it triggered the cascade of anxiety that led to panic attacks, loss of appetite, insomnia...

oh yuck yuck yuck.

but i made it.

and all of that crazy wilderness i stumbled through was probably the place where i learned the most valuable, tender truths about myself.

it was there that i was able to learn how to see, and be sensitive to my needs.

i honestly think that it is easier for some women than others.

i think it comes down to personality....maybe... ;)

heather, geez, wet nurse? how awesome is that. the support that you are able to give is so inspiring.

i'm sending both of you feelings of strength and pure intention to overcome.

flower essences led me through it, if she's interested in something like that i know there are a lot of practitioners in her 'hood.

the flowers are such a beautiful, magical esoteric soul CURE...not a bandaid.

love you all.

what a trip. xoxoxox
Geny said…
First of all, what a wonderful sister you are, Heather, for helping Addie and literally giving part of yourself to her babe. Amazing...
Having a baby is such a reality check, it's like what, this is totally not easy like movies or tv. It's hard hard work and not sleeping really sucks!! I struggled with nursing my first one, Jacob. He literally clung to me constantly for 6 weeks, nursing for like 45 minutes at a time. I had NO IDEA if he was getting enough food. I would read that some babies take longer to nurse, not to worry about it, etc. Even my mom was like I'm sure you're fine. It didn't help that we lived in AZ, far from any family and I had no friends there with babies. At about 6 weeks though we noticed that he was really skinny, like you could see his ribs scary skinny. And he wasn't small normally, 8 lbs. 10 oz. at birth. So we took him to the pediatrician the next morning and he was under his birth weight, borderline having to go in the hospital. I felt like the stupidest, worst mom ever. We fed him formula, at the recommendation of the ped, when we got home which he immediately threw up all over the floor. I was completely freaked out, thinking he was going to have to be hospitalized, etc. I tried to pump but would literally get like 1 oz in 30 minutes. Ridiculous, I was clearly not producing enough milk. So we fed him formula, I had to let go of my fantasies of being the perfect breastfeeding mom. It just didn't work with Jacob, he thrived after that, consistently coming in at the 90% for weight (little chunker). When I had Madison, I pumped cause I couldn't breastfeed her due to her heart defect. I had tons of milk, like enough for two babies. Which was just cruel really to have all that and then lose her. And then with Mikey I was so worried and he was a breastfeeding champ and completely thrived on it.
I guess my point is we're all different and our babies are all different. I still have no idea why breastfeeding didn't work with Jacob but I had to let it go and just take care of him the best way I could. Incidentally, my mom or sisters have never had any issues with breastfeeding so I felt all alone at the time too. Addie is so lucky to have you! Please give her a big hug for really does get easier!! Hugs to you too!

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