Monday, January 24, 2011


Mothering has really wrecked my triathlon mojo. This, in itself, is not terribly interesting or surprising. Nobody can push their body to shed fat, build endurance, and work faster when they can't tell you if they're going to get 2 or 4 or 6 hours of sleep at night. But what surprises me is how I feel about it. I'm conflicted. Part of me wants to sag into a heap and wear my pajamas all day and snuggle my baby when she sleeps and play with her when she's awake and eat doughnuts and pizza until I'm back in all the pants I just donated to Goodwill. Part of me wants to bootstrap myself up and get back to my bike riding and jogging and swimming and not use this little interlude as an excuse to wreck my season.

Zoe is brand new, she's barely six weeks old right now, and is in NOTHING approximating a routine when it comes to sleep. Some nights, she nods off with me at midnight and sleeps 4 hours at a stretch until morning. Other nights, she just looks at me and cries every time she approaches a horizontal orientation until she finally surrenders around 4 AM.

As of now, the only exercise I can solidly count on having the energy for is a walk, and not a very long walk at that. So that's what I'm doing. And God bless my coach for sticking with me through it and continuing to encourage me to do what I can, when I can, and keeping me accountable when I miss the mark. Every little bit counts, right?

Every time I think my end of the deal is the short one, though, I remember how rough it is for my nieces to even be able to take that walk. They have Mitochondrial Disease and it makes having energy for even basic things like digestion difficult. So, in their honor, I'm going to be taking part (along with the whole family) in a walkathon in February called the "Energy for Life" walk in Houston. If you have a spare nickel, this cause is a good one and the funds will go to researching the causes and potential treatments and cures for a disease that often takes children's lives before they make their teen years. If you can, please do go make a donation. Every little bit counts.

Monday, January 10, 2011

How to Breastfeed an Adopted Baby

I'm not surprised at this, really, but by far the most frequent question I get about the adoption is "How do you do THAT?!?!" when people find out that I'm nursing my sweet girl. I've been researching this for so long that I've almost forgotten what it feels like to not know this is possible. And as I was recently reminded when talking with some friends of mine, the methods I used are relevant to many other situations, breastfeeding after mastectomy, breastfeeding with low (or just insufficient) milk supply, and breastfeeding after hysterectomy, etc.

This post, unlike so many of mine, has a short version: hormones and plastic baggies.

I'm sure the hormones part makes sense, even if you couldn't immediately name the hormones involved and their biological roles, anyone who's got passing familiarity with the reproductive system knows that its functions are hormonally regulated. There are basically four hormones involved in making a woman lactate, and three of them are available (directly or indirectly) through medicines. For the deathly curious, the three I mentioned are estrogen, progesterone, and prolactin. The only complicated thing about the prolactin is that the drug recommended to increase it in your system (Domperidone) is only available from what's called a compounding pharmacy and the use of it for inducing lactation is considered off-label. That said, it's also considered safe. The other two hormones, obviously, are available via standard birth control pills, though high-progesterone pills are recommended for this purpose. There is so much more detailed information available on this, if you're interested, at Ask Lenore. There is a whole protocol there, which is what I followed, on when and how to take the meds, what to do if you have lots of notice, if you have little to no notice of your adoption, if you can't take the birth control pill, and all the other variations on my situation you can imagine.

As for plastic baggies, that's all part of what is called a Supplemental Nursing System. There are two big providers out there, Medela SNS and Lact-Aid. I use the Lact-Aid system because of reviews I read like this one. Basically, it's easier to use in more situations and holds up better to long-term use, which adoptive nursing certainly calls for. What it does is let baby take formula from a plastic bag via a tube at the breast, so s/he is getting all the breastmilk available, but is also getting his/her nutritional needs met, and because suckling stimulates supply, the formula supplementation actually serves to sustain mom's supply.

That's the basic gist of it, and I hope the information is useful to someone else out there. I wouldn't have known about this if it weren't for a similar post in an online journal, so I'm here to spread the word.