The Natural Bud

Blossoming into a Healthier Lifestyle


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How I Doubled My Milk Supply in 4 Days

8 oz of breastmilk. A week before I was getting less than 4.

8 oz of breastmilk. A week before I was getting less than 4.

I’ve been exclusively pumping for eight months.

In that time, I’ve gone through our supply of frozen breastmilk 2-3 times and built it back up again; but recently I hit an all time low.

By the afternoons I was only pumping one ounce of milk. I started to imagine that my body was just done producing. ūüė¶

My Goal 

I made it my goal and prayer: Within two days I would get 4 oz in my morning pumping session (still less than half my normal amount); and within a week I would start rebuilding my freezer stash.

Here’s what the four days looked like, from the day I started my “milk booster blitz.”

  • Day One (low): 10 oz
  • Day Two: 12 oz
  • Day Three: 14 oz
  • Day Four: 20 oz

On days five and six I froze 4 oz of breastmilk.  I froze even more on the days after that.

Frozen breastmilk. A week before I had no stash.

Frozen breastmilk. A week before I had no stash.

So here’s what I did.

1. Drink¬†More¬†Water. ¬†Another mom’s suggestion: “Drink 2x the water you want to produce.” ¬†I also drink a lot of coconut water.

2. Relax/Reduce Stress. Our first baby exclusively nursed and was chubby, so I had no idea HOW MUCH stress can affect supply. ¬†Now that I’m exclusively pumping I know…

3. Eat. Eat often.  Preferably meals/snacks high in protein, live enzymes, and healthy fat (e.g. avocado, coconut oil, almonds)..  Being hungry and eating too many carbs hurts my milk supply.  My protein shake and vitamins also help tremendously.

4. Sleep. ūüôā

5. Troubleshoot. Check the valves, tubes, membranes of your¬†pump. ¬†I’d start by checking the membranes – or just change them. ¬†If they’re old, bent or have a tiny tear, the pump will be less efficient.

Personally, I’ve found that the quality of the pump makes a huge difference too.

6. Hand Express. By learning to do this effectively, I often get 2 oz more of milk. Plus it saves stress and provides a tad more flexibility.

7. Pump Between 1-5 A.M. I had dropped this pump – I still don’t do it every day because I don’t get much when I’m exhausted – but often, this is my “most productive” pump.

8.¬†Essential Oil Protocol. ¬†I’ve seen a tremendous difference with a few different essential oils, particularly clary sage.

After my supply dropped this time, I read an updated protocol by midwife Stefanie Fritz. ¬†She said, “Use 2-3 drops of fennel in a capsule and basil on the bottoms of your feet a few times a day, and you will definitely see an increase the next day.” ¬†I started that regimen, and continued with the clary sage.

Honestly, although all of these were definitely factors in building up my supply so quickly, I believe the essential oils and the middle of the night pump were crucial.

I’d love to hear your story! ¬† ¬† What have you found most helpful for milk supply?

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A Time to Celebrate

Day Before Discharge

Day Before Discharge

It’s late Tuesday morning when I make my daily phone call to the NICU. I’m always nervous to call; I want to know how he is doing, but I don’t want to hear bad news over the phone either.

“NICU Seventh Tower,” the nurse answers, “This is Michelle.” ¬†I haven’t met Michelle yet.
“Hello, this is Laurelyn Rosenberger, Benjamin’s mom.”
“Hi! ¬†He’s doing very well […] The surgeons just did their rounds and […] he can come home this afternoon…”

Whoa. ¬†What? ¬†We weren’t prepared for that news. ¬†I feel more panic than excitement at first. Michelle gives us a list of things to do before he can be discharged so that we’ll be prepared when we arrive at the hospital.

At the hospital, there is more prep to do for¬†his homecoming. ¬†A member of the surgical team¬†shows us how to change the dressing on Benjamin’s chest wound*. ¬†The nurses review a few other things and give us the¬†list of follow-up appointments they’ve made so far….

That was 3 1/2 weeks ago.  Benjamin is home and doing well overall.  Jonathan loves being a big brother too!

Benjamin's Homecoming  Tuesday August 26

Benjamin’s Homecoming
Tuesday August 26

I wouldn’t quite say we are back to normal yet – a “new normal,” perhaps. ¬†The first week in the NICU, when we were concerned about the initial fluctuations in Benjamin’s heart rate, Clarence (the nurse) said, “It’s normal.” ¬†Then she corrected herself – “It’s not normal, but it’s expected after the surgery.” ¬†That expresses our life pretty well – not normal, but expected.

Some¬†of the best advice I received throughout this pregnancy was to focus on the positive. ¬†As Jason and I were driving home from one of our many appointments – so far we have eight specialists to see over¬†the next three months** – we were discussing the then-overwhelming road ahead. Jason commented, “I will say this. ¬†I am in no way feeling ‘woe is me.’ ¬†There are people who have gone through so much [harder …] We have a lot to be thankful for.”

We certainly do. ¬†The grace of God is written all over Benjamin’s face. ¬†We are enjoying having him home and watching new developments each week. ūüôā

I’ll share some specific blessings later, but we are overwhelmed by God’s mercy, and grateful for the help and encouragement¬†from so many of you.

Benjamin 4 1/2 weeks old Over 9 lbs.

Benjamin 4 1/2 weeks old
Over 9 lbs. (born 6 lb 12 oz)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
*Clarification: his “chest wound” is a scar from his right side close to¬†the middle of his back. ¬†They did not go through his chest for surgery.
**Since writing this, we’ve seen three of the eight specialists (actually, four,¬†counting¬†the weekly casting appointments for his clubbed feet). ¬†We are thankful and feeling slightly¬†less overwhelmed now. ¬†


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“Peace I Leave with You”

Benjamin after Surgery

Benjamin after Surgery

Benjamin was still under anesthesia, meaning he couldn’t breathe on his own, so he was on a breathing tube all that night. ¬†While we were with him that evening, he started to sputter and turn red. ¬†The monitor alarm went off. ¬†The nurse put a tiny tube down his nostril to suction junk out of his throat¬†but he was still red. ¬†Within about two minutes a respiratory doctor was there. ¬†The doctor acted calmly but moved quickly, and showed the nurse to suction further down. ¬†(She had been hesitant to get close to the surgical site in his throat.) ¬†After that he started ‘breathing’ again.

Jason looked at me and said quietly with a bit of a laugh, “I guess I’ll have to stay here all night.”

Jason holding Benjamin

Jason holding Benjamin

The doctor explained the problem to us before leaving Benjamin’s pod, then said, “You need to get some rest. I’ll be here all night,” he reassured us, ¬†“So you don’t have to be.”

My dad put it well in a group text later that evening:

 

Text from my dad

 

As I went to sleep alone in the hospital room (a blessing in itself as we had not paid for a private room), I wanted to cry all night. ¬†I knew I had to sleep and couldn’t lose hope.

In times when I’ve felt completely alone, the only true, complete peace has come through Scripture.

I got out my phone and read through almost the entire book of 1 John until I came across 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear; because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” ¬†Ironic. ¬†The last time that verse stood out to me was when I first considered dating Jason. ¬†From all I could see God was pointing us in that direction but I was afraid of getting hurt. ¬†And now God brought it to my attention with our son. ¬†Another verse came to mind:

Psalm 4:8 photocredit: pinterest.com

Psalm 4:8 photocredit: pinterest.com

More recently I read Psalm 121:3-4 and it struck me – the God of the Universe is “up all night,” so I don’t have to be.

photocredit: biblepic.com

photocredit: biblepic.com

I went to sleep in peace, not knowing how Benjamin would do… but knowing our loving, trustworthy heavenly Father would guide us through it.


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An Operation Of Priorities

First Day

Benjamin’s Birth Day

On Saturday, August 9 Benjamin Paul Rosenberger was born.

 Two days later he was scheduled for an emergency surgery.  Here is what the surgeons explained to us the day before:

Diagram Dr. Chiweshe drew - TEF

Diagram Dr. Chiweshe drew – TEF

“It’s an operation of priorities,” Dr. Angela Kadenhe-Chiweshe said. ¬†The surgery involves two steps:

1) Disconnect the fistula. This is top priority: the longer the esophagus is connected to the windpipe, the more chance the baby has of getting stomach acid into the lungs, which can lead to many possible problems like pneumonia.

2) Reconnect the bottom of the esophagus to the top. Benjamin was already being fed nutrition through his vein and would still be fed TPN through a PICC line after surgery until he healed enough to drink milk.

Ideally both procedures are done¬†during one surgery, but not all babies handle the procedure well. Depending on Benjamin’s response, they may have to do two separate surgeries. ¬†Since Benjamin¬†was born at full-term they expected he would do well, but wanted us to be aware of all the possibilities. Dr. Kadenhe-Chiweshe also explained a few “side-effects” that almost all TEF babies have (e.g. acid reflux;¬†Tracheomalacia – i.e. barking cough, high-pitched breathing).

Early Monday afternoon he went for his 4 hour + surgery.  When we arrived at the NICU before his surgery, they were putting the breathing tube in. We had to wait in the family lounge.  Another couple was in there also; the mother was crying over the phone. I prayed their baby was ok. Jason read a psalm and prayed with me while we waited.

As we watched them wheel him to the surgery room, I thought, this must be how Jason felt watching them take us for the c-section. ¬†Our tiny vulnerable baby – the one we were given to protect – and there’s not a thing we could do to help. ¬†It’s times like those that I’m thankful for a loving Heavenly Father and for the many who are¬†praying for us; and certainly the skilled, compassionate doctors who do what we can’t.

Day 3: Surgery

Day 3: Surgery

I cried as we left our baby. ¬†It was hard to see him like that… and hard not to think about¬†what if…¬†but we couldn’t focus on that. ¬†As Jason wheeled me back to our room, I decided,¬†if he didn’t make it – I would¬†thank God for the time I¬†already had with him and the precious memories we made in that first day. ¬†(Easier to say that now, I know.) ¬†Besides that, I wasn’t going to think about that possibility anymore.

After supper, the surgeons came into our room to tell us Benjamin was out of surgery!  They were able to complete the entire process in one surgery, as they had hoped.  Thank the LORD.


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It’s Around the Corner

 

¬†“Well, this is the calm before the storm.”

Calm Before the Storm Photocredit: timbeaux.com

Calm Before the Storm
Photocredit: timbeaux.com

As of Friday, August 1, I’m 37 weeks pregnant. ¬†Technically full-term. ¬†Our next appointment with the OBGYN is this Friday. ¬†If I don’t deliver by then, we will further discuss the possibilities surrounding¬†induction. ¬†God has provided several ways for us to begin feeling more prepared for Benjamin’s arrival.

Honestly, I don’t know if you can ever feel completely prepared … but here are several of the little undeserved blessings God has poured out on us….

Tours & Consultations 

We had four¬†appointments between¬†Thursday, July 31 and Friday, August 1. ¬†All three doctors we met¬†commented that reaching 37 weeks is quite an accomplishment, in light of the polyhydramniosis. ¬†(Polyhydramniosis:¬†Since our baby isn’t practicing swallowing, there is more amniotic fluid around him than usual. ¬†Mine measured 37; normal is below 25.)

 

Photo credit: Food Matters

Photo credit: Food Matters

In the past two weeks, we’ve finished consultations with several specialists. ¬†Two weeks ago, we met with a neonatologist (a sweet Italian lady) and toured the NICU. ¬†The NICU is far more attractive than I had imagined, and it helps to have a picture of where our baby will be the first several weeks of his life. ¬†We weren’t able to get a tour of the labor and delivery rooms, but a friend who used to work at the hospital sent me a video tour of them. ¬†They are beautiful also.

Last Thursday, we had a fetal echocardiogram and met with a cardiologist (no serious concerns as of now; they will look again after he is born).  She asked if I was still sleeping well at night.  Later in the day, we met with the pediatric surgeon, Dr. Middlesworth, to discuss common scenarios and what he would likely do.  Dr. Middlesworth stood out as more a grandfather-type than a doctor.  He sat down with us and explained everything very softly and slowly, using simple terms.

Waiting Room for Prenatal Visits

Waiting Room for Prenatal Visits

We haven’t met a single doctor who has seemed in a rush to get to the next appointment. ¬†Each of them sits down, asks us what we already know about the baby, and proceeds from there. ¬†When they finish talking, they sit quietly and wait for us to ask all of our questions. ¬†The ultrasound techs and doctors who look at our sonograms laugh as they watch Benjamin move around – like they see him as an adorable baby, not just part of their job. ¬†Each of the specialists – the neonatologist, the cardiologist, and the surgeon – has drawn a diagram for us so that they can explain scenarios more clearly. ¬†We couldn’t have asked for better care.

 

Family Picture after Church

Family Picture after Church

A Place to Retreat 

The hospital¬†in Manhattan is an hour from where we live in Staten Island. ¬†A church in New Jersey graciously agreed to let us use their mission home for the month, which is only 15-20 minutes from the hospital. ¬†This alone significantly reduces the stress involved with planning to get to the hospital. ¬†It’s a beautiful, fully-furnished house, so we’ve only brought a few living¬†necessities for the month. ¬†My sister, a certified professional midwife, is also staying with us for a few weeks. ¬†With the extra help and reduced distractions, we’ve been able to focus more on resting, growing in our marriage, and preparing for Benjamin. ¬†I’m not supposed to pick up Jonathan (our toddler), so I’m even more thankful for the extra help. ¬†My sister has helped tremendously with meals, etc., and I’ve been free to play¬†with Jonathan¬†every day, read, and journal. ¬†Jonathan is having a blast here, playing all day and going outside with daddy in the evenings.

image

 


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From Home Birth to High Risk

After much research, prayer, and discussion with our medical caregivers, we decided to deliver our first baby at home.  God provided for my aunt (an experienced midwife) to catch the baby and on April 16, 2010, our son was born surrounded by a few close family members.

IMG_2382

Someone asked me later if I planned to deliver all of our babies at home. After thinking about it, I had to say no. ¬†Jonathan’s birth was the best I could have imagined and giving birth at home would be ideal, but I don’t know how every pregnancy will go.

When I answered the question, it was only hypothetical.

Now I’m 36 weeks pregnant with our second baby boy. ¬†On¬†our first sonogram, a couple of concerns appeared but the doctor didn’t seem alarmed. They could easily be mistaken and they wanted to do another sonogram.

It wasn’t long before we determined that we should deliver at the hospital. Our midwife would still be there – the same midwife who did all our prenatal /postpartum care with Jonathan.

God is good and gracious in everything He does. Sometimes He allows trials to happen suddenly, and He provides grace and comfort through it. I’m glad He allowed us to learn a little bit at a time.

After the many tests and changes (including a 3D sonogram and a fetal MRI), here is some of what we know… Our baby will need immediate medical attention to save his life.

Last month we were transferred to a high risk hospital in Manhattan.

3D Sonogram

Our second son has an esophageal atrasia and a fistula.  Basically, he will need surgery soon after birth, both to prevent him from choking and to enable him to swallow.  He will be in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at least a few weeks, possibly 2-3 months depending on the severity of the blockage.

We appreciate prayers as we continue to prepare mentally, spiritually and logistically.

Many of our ideals for birth will be impossible this time, but God is still good. ¬†He continues to remind us¬†how truly blessed we are here. ¬†We’re in a place with some of the best medical care possible for a situation like this. ¬†God has provided so much support through friends, family and medical caregivers. ¬†.. And we still have a living, active baby inside my womb.

Psalm 139:14 "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well."  photocredit: iamannekehn.blogspot.com

photocredit: iamannekehn.blogspot.com

“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.” Psalm 139:14

*I had considered starting an entirely new blog for this journey, but it seemed appropriate to share here… showing the partnership between natural alternatives/nutritional support and necessary medical intervention.*


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Green Living: Not Just a New Trend

photocredit: streetsblog.org

photocredit: streetsblog.org

After we moved to NYC, many of our lifestyle choices changed. Some people may get the impression that we’ve simply joined in the city’s fads – become a “health fanatic” because it’s the popular thing to do here.

We do buy a significant amount of organic food, make our own nontoxic cleaners, encourage breastfeeding when possible, etc. It’s just a coincidence that we lived in the city when we made certain¬†changes.

photocredit: rew-online.com

photocredit: rew-online.com

For those who have read the last few posts, you know that poor choices regarding both diet and environment nearly destroyed my health. I was 22 yrs old, newly married, and hardly had the energy to clean our 1000 sq ft apartment. It was draining physically, emotionally and spiritually. Would I ever have the energy to be the wife I wanted to be? Exposure to black mold, chemical cleaners, eating only cooked and processed foods, birth control pill Рall of these contributed to my toxic overload.

photocredit: viktoriastrology.wordpress.com

photocredit: viktoriastrology.wordpress.com

For us as Christians, it’s more than just a better life. ¬†We seek to know and live by God’s Word. ¬†Jesus said that “to whom much is given, much is required.” ¬†The more we know, the more responsible we are to make appropriate choices. (*see note below*)

photocredit: thestrouplawfirm.com

photocredit: thestrouplawfirm.com

After years of health problems, doctor visits, new solutions and research… here is what our family knows**:

  1. Eat Fresh: Our bodies require 50% fresh food (live enzymes) with each meal to benefit from the nutrients. Otherwise our bodies respond to the cooked food as they would to an enemy.
  2. Cut Out Sugar: Sugar has negative side-effects: those who consume sugar age faster, have more difficulty losing weight, tend to have more difficult labors & are more likely to tear at birth. Sugar can also be addictive and feeds candida which can lead to many other problems. (Fatigue, headaches, ear pressure…)
  3. Eliminate Toxins: Chemical cleaners and cosmetics contain ingredients that have been linked to several different cancers.
  4. Rebuild Your System: Live enzymes, nutritional supplementation and probiotics play a significant part in rebuilding the digestive system.
  5. Eat Organic: “The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children eat organic whenever possible.” – Dr. Herzog, Board Certified Pediatrician. Exposure to certain pesticides have been linked to significant problems later in life. Higher amounts of pesticides are found in fat¬†(butter, yogurt). Pesticides¬†also soak into several fruits and vegetables – “The Dirty Dozen” – meaning washing the skin will not protect you from consuming multiple pesticides.

    agapegeek.com

    agapegeek.com

Apathy and ignorance nearly destroyed my health and with that, the freedom to serve my family.

No, this isn’t a trend. ¬†It’s a belief system. ¬†It’s a new way of life.

photocredit: zawaj.com

photocredit: zawaj.com

*Note: We certainly can’t control everything about our health; but we are responsible to be faithful with what we can control. ¬†(I’m still working on this‚Ķ.) ¬†For example, we¬†can’t always control how we feel physically or emotionally. I may feel overwhelmed or discouraged, and that is okay‚Ķ but I choose how to¬†handle¬†those feelings. ¬†I can feed those discouraged feelings by focusing on all my¬†problems¬†or I can choose to¬†cultivate a grateful heart for what I have. I can also support my body physically, which in turn will help emotionally.

**For sake of¬†brevity, I’ll cite¬†research in the following post. ¬†For those who are overwhelmed with¬†pursuing a healthier lifestyle, I’ll also share some basic tips to help you get started.

***Nothing in this post or blog is intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.***