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Eight Crazy Weeks

I had no idea what I was in for.

Sure, I knew I would be exhausted. I knew my house would be a mess. I even knew that my little darling would cry a bit.

What I didn’t know was everything else that has made these past two months so challenging.

Before you read another word, please allow me to say that I am head-over-heels in love with my little baby Mae. She is the most incredible blessing and I am just blown away that she is ours. Also, I’m sure she’s the prettiest baby ever.

However, with that said, I do feel that it is incumbent upon me to share the real story of what these first two months as a mom have entailed. There are countless misconceptions about life with a newborn and I, unfortunately, fell victim to all of them. (This article sums it up pretty well) As if being a first-time mom is not difficult enough, I was also struggling with the loss of those blissful, newborn moments I thought every mom (but me) got to enjoy. Throw in some post-partum hormones, no sleep, and Mae’s personal mix of baby issues and, you guys, I was (am) a mess.

My objective in sharing all of this is to encourage any other mammas who may be dealing with the same struggles. Also, if you are a mom who has made it to the other side of this craziness, I would love to hear what worked for you (i.e. how you survived).

It’s a long long post so I would not blame you one bit if you tap out early.

I’ll take it from the top.

Week 1: We brought Mae home on a beautiful Sunday morning but we didn’t even make it out of the hospital room without popping a pacifier in her mouth. But crying is normal right? The next two days were tough. She cried a ton. So did I. Most of the time she was inconsolable, so much so that she wouldn’t eat. If she did eat, the screaming intensified.  I sent countless desperate texts to my doula and mommy friends at all hours of the night. Thankfully, a few of them even showed up to help. My well-laid plans to wait a few weeks on offering bottles went straight out the window. By the time we had our first pediatrician visit on Tuesday, I was a wreck. Then we learned that Mae had lost 14oz. That is double the normal maximum weight loss for newborns. The ped put us on a rigorous feeding schedule that involved nursing, pumping, and supplementing with formula. She was finally eating but seemingly everything she ate was coming back up. We were back at the dr’s office the next day and thankfully she gained 6oz overnight. She continued to gain steadily all week but the spitting up was not improving at all. Either was the fussiness. So the doc put her on probiotics, Simethicone (gas relief drops) and gripe water. I was also having some very serious (worse than unmedicated labor) nursing pain that I determined must have been a clogged milk duct. So I spent every free moment I had researching and trying everything I possibly could to clear the duct. Nothing worked. Over the next two weeks, I visited my OB twice as well as a specialist for help and they said that there was nothing that could be done other than my home remedies.

Week 2-3:  We had one day where Mae did not sleep for 12 hours straight. So back to the doc we went. The ped said that it appeared that Mae was wired from getting an imbalance of fore-milk and hindmilk. Obviously this was all new to me. Apparently, the fore-milk is the sugary thirst-quenching milk that babies get when they begin a breastfeeding session. In order to get the high fat/protein hind milk they have to nurse long enough on one side to get through all of the fore-milk. So I made an effort to keep her on one side until she stopped drinking but I didn’t see any improvement in her symptoms. So I figured that if I pumped and gave her the milk in the bottle, it would ensure she was getting the hind milk. I shared my plan with the pediatrician and a lactation consultant and they both said that would work. Plus pumping was much less painful than nursing. So I did that for a week but I knew that exclusively pumping long-term would be a lot more work than breastfeeding. I began trying to figure out how to balance my milk content a little better so I could breastfeed as well as give her a bottle. I did some googling and it sounded like my issue was an oversupply of milk. When a mom makes too much milk, the baby fills up on the fore-milk before they ever reach the hind-milk.  Made sense to me, but how could I fix it? I ended up hiring a lactation consultant to come to the house and help me problem solve. I also wanted her opinion on how in the heck I could keep a clogged milk duct for three weeks when they typically only last 2-3 days.

While all of this was going on I joined a breastfeeding group on facebook called the Dairy Queens. Hilarious right? I posted some of my baby dramas in the group and several of the moms thought the problem sounded like symptoms of a tongue tie/lip tie. So I started looking that up and I was floored. One hundred percent of Mae’s issues were listed as symptoms. But the lactation consultant at the hospital and my pediatrician both checked for tongue tie and said Mae did not have one so I was perplexed. I kept digging and from what I myself could see, Mae definitely had an upper lip tie and possibly a posterior tongue tie (those are harder to spot).

Week 4: The lactation consultant came, watched me nurse for 5 minutes and said that I did not have a clogged duct. Which explains why my efforts to unclog it never worked. She instead thought it might be a bit of Thrush instead. I asked her about the oversupply and milk content imbalance, she said that wasn’t my problem but that Mae did indeed have a lip tie. So first thing Monday morning, back to the ped we went. She gave us meds for thrush, determined Mae had full-blown reflux and gave us meds for that too. She agreed on the lip tie but said that it wasn’t a problem and to wait until she was four or five to have it revised.

Once we knew Mae had reflux, I cut dairy from my diet since that is a common culprit for upsetting little tummies. Which was extremely challenging with the delicious meals all my sweet girlfriends from church were dropping off. But I was willing to do anything to help my Little Baby Mae feel better. We started the thrush meds (just in case) and then started the Zantac (reflux meds) and had a horribly fussy/spitty day the next day. Assuming it had to be the meds, I pulled the Zantac.

Week 5: None of Mae’s symptoms improved so I kept digging and discovered that the intense nursing pain that I thought was a clogged duct, then thrush was probably what is called nipple blanching. What causes nipple blanching? A tongue tie. That was the last straw for me. I decided to take Mae down to a dental specialist in Ft. Lauderdale who uses a laser to revise lip and tongue ties. He took one look at her, showed me her lip AND TONGUE tie and asked me what I wanted to do. It was a small fortune to have both revised but I didn’t want to just do one and allow her issues to persist if the other was the source of her problems so I decided to go for it. Thankfully Dave’s mom was with me so she went to get baby tylenol while I cried in the waiting room. Five minutes later, Mae was done and I nursed her immediately after. She seemed to do fine. We also managed to get a few real smiles out of her for the first time!

Week 6: The nursing pain went away but the reflux did not. I was also noticing she was only nursing half as long as she was before. I became concerned that the pain from the procedure was creating an oral aversion so I texted the lactation consultant for help. She said to come down to a breastfeeding group she was hosting that day. She weighed Mae as soon as I got there, I fed her for a few minutes then we weighed her again. She had eaten like a champ. As it turned out, she had just become a more efficient nurser after the surgery. Yay! We still had the reflux to deal with so I decided to give Zantac another try as well as cut gluten from my diet.

Week 7: After cutting both dairy and gluten, I was down to eating pretty much dirt. I was living off of larabars, french fries, tater tots, meat (which I don’t love) and gluten free products. I hadn’t seen an improvement in the reflux but Mae was smiling much more and that kept me going. Plus the fact that both dairy and gluten can live in your system for two weeks made me scared  to add them back in. I didn’t want to make her reflux worse for even a fraction of two weeks.

Week 8: Time for another visit to the pediatrician. Turns out my Mae is in the 7th percentile weight-wise for her length. The baby is super long and skinny! No clue where she got that from!! Hopefully she will chunk up once this reflux business goes away. (You can all put that on your prayer list for us!) They think that it should clear up by 3-4 months so I am going to try to keep on keepin on until then. Oh and if anyone reading this knows anything about MTHFR and vaccines, please get in touch with me. That’s all I am going to say about that here.

Things are still really tough but I am doing my best. I am working on getting her on a sleeping schedule but as luck would have it, we are moving homes and I start shooting again next week. Some timing huh?

But at least she’s smiling.

I would be remiss if I did not say how grateful I am for the incredible support from my amazing husband, our families and friends. You guys know who you are. I don’t know how I would’ve made it through these eight crazy weeks without you. Thank you for being there, and thanks in advance for helping me through the next eight crazy weeks. And the ones after that.

Amidst all of this, thankfully Kat, Shannon and I were miraculously able to capture a few sweet photos.

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Gina - I love you and your honesty. THANK YOU. Praying SO much that you are continuing to trust your instincts and to have this yucky reflux go away!! Also, have you considered Chiropractic for her reflux? I see a Chiro weekly and it’s a really gentle and simple adjustment if you wanted to give it a shot. I have heard it works amazingly!

Some possible DF, GF Recipes that I love!

This one SUPER simple! http://www.glutenista.com/easy-homemade-gluten-free-chicken-noodle-soup-recipe.html

http://www.allergyfreealaska.com/2013/04/15/easy-baked-paleo-chicken-tenders-with-honey-mustard-dipping-sauce/

LOVE you. Praying for it all to settle out and to have some solid sweet time with your sweet girl!March 17, 2014 – 2:07 pm

Rebecca Siewert - I love your honesty! It’s so awesome to see a mom sharing the truth! First off I can totally relate to this so much! We never had to deal with a tongue tie but I had an overproduction of milk, a baby that lots a lot of weight, gas, reflux the works! I will say it gets better! Much better! I pumped to help get better milk and kept her on longer to help. That seem to do the trick for most of it but she was still gassy. My midwife suggested drinking fennel tea WHILE a nursed and that was the best thing ever! I tried cutting out dairy and pretty much everything else but that didn’t even work but fennel tea did. We had a gassy, not really sleeping baby till 5/6 months and then it all of sudden shifted. She like most babies also didn’t sleep through the night (only 6-8 hours at a time, never 12) till a year old. Now at 18 months she requests to go to sleep. Keep going MAMA your doing great and I promise it will get better! Rest will come and it will be glorious!March 17, 2014 – 2:08 pm

Sondra McCarty - Sweet Jessica….what a journey you and Dave are on. I have been and will continue to pray for you and Baby Mae continuously. Thank you for so honestly sharing your story. My heart breaks for you when I read it.

I do wish I had some words of wisdom for you and something that would help you but unfortunately I’m so far from that aspect of motherhood that I don’t understand most of the terms you have used to describe the difficulties….LOL!

When my kids were born in the 60’s and they screamed all night and day we were just told it was colic and it will go away! Sorry….just a little humor there! Seriously though so glad the research has come a long way and they can treat the reflux and lip ties, etc.

I truly am so sorry you have had to experience all these challenges. Not a great way to start motherhood but what a sweet little bundle you have to hold and how adorable the pictures are that you shared. I love looking at them.

What I do know according to the 139th Psalm is that Little Mae is fearfully and wonderfully made and although these situations may be a surprise to you they are no surprise to God. I do believe you are all in his arms of love, care, and compassion. Though it is so rough for you right now and especially with Dave being gone I will be especially fervent in my prayers for you this week. My prayer is little Mae will continue to improve and the medicine will work.

You are very brave and such a great mother to go to such great lengths to see to it that your little girl has the very best. God will honor that. He knows your needs and will supply those needs. My encouragement is for you to continue to “Hangeth thou in there” my little friend. Not really good English but just want to encourage you the best way I know how. Psalm 30:5 says “Weeping my endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning”. Your night may be a little too long right now but the joy is coming.

The first 9 years of my life were spent in a body cast and had major hip surgery 5 times in that span as well. As a mother I never had to experience anything that serious or what you are enduring but I can tell you I am so thankful to our Awesome God that I was placed for adoption in a home with sweet loving parents who cared for me and loved me through all my physical challenges. I see you and Dave as being those kind of loving, caring parents as well. Baby Mae is a very fortunate little girl.

If ever you need a shoulder to cry on….mine are pretty broad and I’m here for you. Call or text anytime. 379-7449. I would love to come and sit with you or just be here for you with moral support. You are precious and love you, Dave, and Baby May very much.

Blessings and Love,
SondraMarch 17, 2014 – 4:28 pm

Nicki Pasqualone - Normal! It’s a whirlwind for everyone, you’re doing a great job! I experienced a few of these things too… thrush with my first… and with my 2nd (now 6 months) a tongue tie and clogged ducts. I nursed my first with no problems so when it was EXTREMELY painful with my 2nd I knew something was up. Dr. Google told me tongue tie and her pedi confirmed it, I had her frenulum cut when she was 10 days old (I cried too but it was so so quick). The ENT told me it’s much better to do it when they’re tiny and heal so quickly, there was literally no bleeding… if they’re 4 or 5 and it’s impeding speech or something else, they may have to put them under anesthesia so it’s good you did it right away! The razor nipple feeling went away instantly thank goodness because it sucked crying every time she ate haha. As far as the clogged ducts (in case it does happen), I would let her nurse mostly on that side and use a heating pad or take hot showers several times a day. She eventually sucked it out, but it was miserable and cry-worthy! Both of by babies spit up but I think a normal amount? Sometimes it seemed like a lot (like seriously you just threw up everything you ate), but if I really remembered to get big burps out of them midway through the feeding and after, it helped immensely! If I was lazy and didn’t burp religiously, she spit it all up. Ahhh motherhood trials, good thing the happy times outweigh the challenges! She’s beautiful btw. : )March 17, 2014 – 7:50 pm

Mo - Jessica,

I went to FIND Seattle with you and I was prego with my third and I think wasn’t very nice. I apologize. I get post partum depression with every child and I also get first trimester depression. I was in my first trimester, so I can say I was not myself. Depression was Nothing I experienced ever in my life until I had children and I felt exactly how you feel now after my first and I’m glad you are sharing your story. I went 9 months in a new city with no friends yet made and a new baby with lots if overwhelming feelings. I really needed a good ear or an honest mother to help me through it, so kudos to your post! Thank youMarch 17, 2014 – 8:02 pm

Jess L. - Reading your blog for the first time. I think most of us new mamas have similar journeys like yours. Yet each one unique in detail.

I too slowly eliminated things from my diet and did for about 3 months until it felt, as you described, I was eating “dirt”. We struggled to figure out what was going on with our son with late night researching and late night calls with friends/family for support. It was heart wrenching. Lots of sobbing (thank you post baby hormones) and continual prayer with my hubs and family.

I think it goes without saying that as mamas we love our babes, would sacrifice anything for them and, like a super hero, would fight to defend and keep them safe.

But the life of a mama is not for the faint of heart.
This is hard and I think it’s okay to say it’s hard. Saying it’s hard does not take away from the love we have for our children.

I appreciate your reflection of, as you said, the “real” story and your new journey. You’re doing great mama. Loving your baby is all she needs right now.

Better days are to come and praise the Lord for good ones because they carry us through during the hard ones.

To Gina’s point above- my son sees a Chiropractor. AMAZING. So many great benefits.March 19, 2014 – 6:45 pm

You’re Almost Here

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To my sweet Mae,

I am having a hard time believing that you’re almost here. All of the days, hours and minutes I have spent dreaming, planning and preparing for you are almost over and somehow it seems more surreal than ever.

You are truly a miracle. Your dad and I are so thankful that God has demonstrated His perfect love and kindness in choosing us to care for you. We know that you are His child, created according to His perfect plan. Our prayer is that He will give us the daily wisdom we need to raise you according to His ways and that you will soon come to know how deeply cherished you are and that you will never ever be alone.

I have loved you from the very first beat of your heart. You have already turned my entire world around and changed who I am from the inside out. Just knowing you has broken me and shown me more about love than I knew possible. I long for the moment that I can finally see your precious face, breath you in and hold you close.

I am convinced you will look just like daddy. He is so enamored by you already. Every day he leans down to my belly and whispers how much he loves you. I can’t wait for the first time he gets to cradle you up in his arms, it is the very best place in the whole world, I promise.

We have so many fun things planned for you. Your first trip to the beach, your first bike ride…Daddy wants to teach you everything there is to know about music and I can’t wait to get a camera in your hands and see the world  through your eyes.

My precious daughter, I love you more than words can say.  I am anxiously awaiting your arrival and I am ready for our adventures together to begin.

Love Always, Mommy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laura - Beautiful, Jessica! Mae is already so loved and blessed to have you as her parents. This is going to be so special for her to look back on someday 🙂January 14, 2014 – 5:34 pm

shea christine - the sweetest words..January 14, 2014 – 6:32 pm

Mary - You just made my eyes water. You’re going to be fantastic. Those first moments are some of my most precious memories.January 14, 2014 – 11:41 pm

caroline - Wow, Jessica, so beautifully written. Love to see you taking the time to document everything. It will be so meaningful to her later and already says the tupe of parents you’ll be. Cannot wait to see photos of her!January 15, 2014 – 5:16 am

Seven Years

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Seven years ago today. Amazing how time flies…

But what I find even more amazing, is how my love for my husband has grown in these past seven years.

Throughout each year of our relationship, God has used Dave to show me new things about myself and how I’m designed. I’ve learned the true meaning of marriage and come to recognize what a precious gift my husband is.

Looking back, I would have never guessed the path our lives would take or anticipated the twists and turns along the way but I know that each one has brought us to where we are today and for that I am eternally grateful.

One of my favorite writers recently shared this thought, “True Love isn’t found, it’s carved” and I literally could not agree more.

I’m tempted to sit here and list out a hundred ways that Dave does a great job loving and serving me but that isn’t why I love him. I love him because he is a living, breathing, loving best friend that God specifically chose to carve me into who I am created to be.

On Friday evening, we drove out to the beach, laid on a towel in the sand wrapped up in each-others arms and I couldn’t help but weep at the beauty and wonder of it all. Here we are, seven years in, more in love than ever and awaiting a new adventure that is sure to be full of immense joy among immeasurable challenges. I could not be more excited.

It’s the unfolding of our love story, and thanks to a perfect God, it is so much greater than I ever could have imagined.

Shannon - This is so beautiful. Happy seven years and here is to seventy more!December 30, 2013 – 12:13 pm

Martin Drummond - Beautifully written.

Thank you.December 30, 2013 – 12:16 pm

Kat Braman - I love your heart. I feel so incredibly blessed to have both you and Dave as friends and I can’t wait to see you two love on your little girl. Happy Anniversary!December 30, 2013 – 2:24 pm

sarah - you and dave are so inspiring! can’t wait to see the ways you’ll inspire me when you become a mama (: happy anniversary!!December 31, 2013 – 12:49 pm

Traveling Italy: Pregnant

Positano via Jessica Lorren01
Positano

As far back as I can remember, I have loved traveling. Maybe not the backseat-of-the-van Dramamine-fogged family road trip kind but definitely the kind involving amazing food, scenery and new adventures. It always seems as if the memories created during traveling have a way of outlasting the ones I make in my every day life. Not sure why that is, but it’s one of the reasons I love it so much. It’s also another reason why Dave and I chose to wait seven years to start a family.

I am often amazed that my career has given us the opportunity to see so many incredible places. This past summer, I was invited to photograph my third wedding in Italy which happened to fall on my 30th birthday. With that in mind, and knowing that #littlebabyc would soon make traveling a whole different ballgame, Dave and I decided to tack sometime onto the front and back of the trip to venture around our favorite country. I will be posting some of my favorite photographs from each part of our trip on my photography blog, starting today with Sorrento.

I feel the need to preface the rest of this post by saying that I am truly head-over-heels, under a spell, in love with Italy. However, going in the middle of summer, during their busy season, pregnant was not ideal. I had no idea what I was in for. So my purpose for writing this is to give other mammas-to-be a heads-up on what to expect if they find themselves making a trip such as this one while pregnant.

1. The heat. I have never been so hot in my life. This is coming from someone who has lived all her life in South Florida. I am not sure if it was actually any hotter there but combining pregnancy with crowds, inadequate air conditioning and different cultural beliefs on personal hygiene; and it was nearly unbearable. Dave and I found ourselves spending the hottest parts of the days in our hotel room cooling off or taking turns watching our stuff/swimming just to beat the heat. So mamma’s, make sure you pack accordingly and stay hydrated!

2. The Food. The importance of eating in Italy cannot be understated. However, some of Italy’s finest fare ranks pretty high on the do-not-eat list for preggos. Finding a sandwich without  fresh mozzarella or prosciutto was a daily challenge. You’ll also want to be prepared to avoid the temptations of Italy’s favorite beverages espresso and wine. On a positive note, no doctor of mine said anything about gelato…

3. The Walking. Plan to do a lot of it. Pack comfortable shoes, even if they’re ugly. Public transportation is not pleasant and renting your own transportation could get you killed. So you’ll walk, in the heat. Again, hydration is key.

4. The Public Restrooms. Hard to find, hard to use. Plan to wait in line and while and keep hand sanitizer with you at all times.

5. The Flight. My broken tailbone may be more to blame for this than my pregnancy but those international flights were not fun. The seats felt like torture chambers and the airline food was terrible, it is very likely worth the first-class upgrade if you can swing it.

6. The Flu. The unthinkable, truly unbearable pregnant flu. Even if you are a good girl and take your prenatals every day, it can strike anytime and evidently anywhere. Be sure to pack doctor-approved medications or remedies just in case the flu finds you on your trip. Tracking down these items in another country, especially in remote parts can be quite a challenge.

Most importantly, listen to your bodies cues, take it slow, rest when you need to and have fun!!

Don’t forget to stay tuned on the photography blog for images from Venice, Positano and Capri! Fine Art prints are also available for purchase here.

Little Baby Mae’s Mid-Century Modern Organic Neutral Nursery » Little Baby Sea - […] it home it took me five days to even read it. The prints hanging above are snaps from our trip to Italy while I was pregnant with […]March 23, 2014 – 1:17 pm

Kelly’s Family, God’s Provision & Little Baby Sea

There is not a better post to kick off LittleBabySea with than this one. These photographs perfectly represent my vision and heart for this new blog. Allow me to explain.

God brought Kelly into my life in the beginning of my sophomore year of college in 2002. At the time, I had no idea what a remarkable influence our relationship would have on my life. It was through her that I also met two more girls (Halle & Joy) who I still consider as my best friends. The timing of these friendships entering my life could not have been more providential.

At the same time the four of us girls were forming lifelong bonds, my family was going through a very difficult time, causing me to question everything I thought I knew about life, love, relationships and God. It was one of the most challenging journeys I have ever taken but I can clearly see now that God gave me exactly what I needed to walk through it, three incredible girlfriends. Their Godly character, beautiful spirits and joyful attitudes impacted me tremendously and helped set my life on a course I may not have otherwise chosen.

Since then, we have all remained close and I have had the honor of watching their lives each become more blessed than I could’ve imagined. Which brings me to these photographs. This is Kelly, her husband Mike and their three beautiful daughters.

A couple years after graduation, Kelly moved to Nashville (where Mike was living), got married and started making babies. Being down in Florida, I didn’t get to spend as much time with her as I would have liked but luckily, my job often took me to Nashville and Mike’s job often brought them here. So I have been able to see Kelly grow not only into an incredible wife, but a truly amazing mother as well. The patience, love, generosity and grace she demonstrates is remarkable. You can get a little peek into her compassionate heart by reading some of her entries on AGirlLikeMe.com

As I face my future as a mom, I am more thankful now than ever for Kelly and her role in my life. Friendships like ours are a constant reminder of God’s perfect love and provision.

With that said, my hope for this blog is to share my adventures into motherhood and I know Kelly will be a wonderful part of that adventure. I will also be sharing posts about inspiration, photography, style, things I love and pretty much anything else that moves me. These photographs are all of that. So without further ado…

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Martin Drummond - What an enjoyable few minutes I spent with you on this site. Thank you for doing this. I’m always blessed by another avenue of sharing your journey through life. As always, I’m praying for you.November 18, 2013 – 2:26 pm

Jessica - Beautiful family!November 18, 2013 – 3:06 pm

Christine - Jessica, this is absolutely beautiful. The photos capture a family full of love – and your kind words express the same. What a perfect way to start the week!November 18, 2013 – 4:19 pm

Jillian Tree - What gorgeous photos & what a beautiful, God-honoring family! 🙂November 18, 2013 – 4:58 pm

Candace Abdella - Love your stories and photos. Thanks for sharing. You are a beautiful young lady. So happy to see the blessing you are as a friend and a wife. Im looking forward to hearing stories of being a Godly mother♥November 18, 2013 – 10:57 pm

Rachel - This is gorgeous, Jess. I’m so excited to follow this blog!November 19, 2013 – 7:48 am