Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Breastfeeding Diaries

Hey y'all! I am guest posting today over at The Girl in the Red Shoes on her Breastfeeding Diaries series. Go check it out!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

D-MER: A Little Known Breastfeeding Condition

For some, whether or not to breastfeed their baby is a decision to be made after much thought and discussion. For me, there was never a question. From the moment I knew I was pregnant, I also knew that I would nourish my child the way God intended: with breastmilk. I also had every intention of breastfeeding for at least a year, longer if all was going well.

Like many first time moms, I thought breastfeeding would be easy. It's natural, after all, so we'd both have an instinct on how to do it right. Besides, how hard could it be: baby opens mouth, mom inserts nipple, baby happily sucks until her tummy is full. Easy peasy, right?

Not so much, it turns out. Although my daughter successfully latched minutes after birth (with a lot of help and guidance from our midwife), the going got tough after we came home. Munchkin had a lot of latching issues for which we sought help from two different Lactation Consultants, a physical therapist and a chiropractor. It took two months of cracked, bleeding nipples and a screaming baby for Munchkin and I to finally get the hang of things. Many moms would have given up by then, and I would not have blamed them, but I was determined to feed my child the most nutritious food I could give her.

Then the PPD set in. Actually, it knocked me on my ass. It took another couple of dark months for me to finally admit to myself that I could not control the way I was feeling and that I needed help. I researched the hell out of all the medications that I could safely take while breastfeeding. Even though I was intensely depressed and would often sob inconsolably while feeding my child, I still couldn't let myself give up on breastfeeding.

Being put on medication for the PPD has made a world of difference. I was finally able to bond with my baby and feel joy about being a mom. Things have been much easier for me and Munchkin in the feeding department and I thought we were in the clear. But then I started having strange new symptoms.

At every feed I have always been desperately thirsty right about the time I have a let down. My mom told me this happened to her and I've heard other women discuss it happening to them so I wasn't concerned. But then I started to notice that along with the thirst came a deep and overwhelming sense of sadness. Like a huge surge in the depression that I thought was finally behind me (or at least under control). The sadness would linger for the first few minutes of each feed and then slowly dissipate. After a little while, I felt normal again. It was the oddest thing and I thought it was just a fluke occurrence the first few times. But it kept happening with every let down.

After several weeks of this overwhelming sadness I decided to talk to my midwife. I asked her if she had heard of this kind of thing happening to others. I fully expected her to say no. I really thought I was just a freak with weird depression issues. To my surprise, she responded that I had a little known condition called Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (or D-MER). While I was relieved to know that I was not, in fact, nuts, it was also disheartening to discover yet another obstacle for me to overcome. So I did what I always do and I did some research. Here is what I found through a great website called

What is D-MER? 
It is a newly recognized condition affecting lactating women that is characterized by abrupt negative emotions that occur just before milk release and continue not more than a few minutes. Some of the most frequent feelings experienced are: hollow feelings in the stomach, anxiety, sadness, dread, anxiousness, irritability, hopelessness. 
What causes D-MER? 
D-MER is a physiological reaction caused as a result of inappropriate dopamine activity when the milk ejection reflex is activated. 
Are there different levels of D-MER? 
Yes, D-MER can be very mild, often described as a "sigh" or a "pang." On the other end of the spectrum, some mothers feel extremely intense emotions resulting is suicidal thoughts, thoughts of self-harm or angry feelings. Some mothers find that D-MER gets less severe as the baby gets older. However, for some mothers D-MER will be harder to handle if she also has PPD or an anxiety disorder as well. 
How can D-MER be treated? 
Mothers with severe D-MER can work with their practitioners to find a medication that is right for them that will increase their dopamine levels. Mothers with more moderate or mild D-MER can work with their lactation consultant regarding natural treatments and lifestyle changes. Some mothers find it helpful simply to know what is happening to them and knowing that it will quickly go away once their milk starts flowing.

So how have I decided to handle this new development in my breastfeeding journey? I am one of those mothers who feels better knowing what is happening and that it will go away. I can handle the surge of sadness if I know it will disappear within minutes. Hell, I fought that sadness for months on end after Munchkin was born; I can certainly deal with it for a couple of minutes. And despite this new hiccup, I still plan to continue to feed my daughter until she's at least a year old. Even now, I still can't find it in me to take that away from her. I know what good it will do her for the rest of her life and I'm not willing to sacrifice it.

If you are a mother with D-MER, or you suspect you have D-MER, I write this for you. I want to shed light on this condition, just like I wanted to be open and honest about my PPD. This is not something to be ashamed about. It is not something you can control. It is a hormonal issue that can be treated. If you are like me and choose to ride it out, more power to you. But if you feel that you need help getting past these overwhelming feelings of sadness or anxiety, please don't be embarrassed or ashamed to ask for it! Most importantly, don't let these feelings stop you from continuing your breastfeeding journey if it is important to you as it is to me. But if you decide that your journey needs to end, that's okay too. Your choice to breastfeed is just that: YOUR CHOICE. Don't let anyone tell you different. The decision to breastfeed belongs to you and I know that, as a mama, you will make the best choice for you and your baby.

For more information about D-MER, please visit, and please pass along this information to other lactating mamas you know.

(Photos of me and Munchkin on her birth day are copyright of Wisner Photo.)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Naptime Projects: Pull Up Bars

Munchkin started crawling just a few weeks ago. As excited as we are to see her grow and go, our world has just become so much more chaotic! At first, she just moved a little bit here and there on the big area rug in our living room. But within days she was exploring every area of the house she could get to. Baby proofing is in full effect!

Along with crawling, she also started pulling up. But there aren't many opportunities to pull up in our home because most flat surfaces are just a bit too high for her to get any leverage. I take her to The Little Gym every week and I noticed that they have little parallel bars for kids to practice pulling up. As soon as I saw them I knew I could easily make my own version. So off to Home Depot I went...

Here were my supplies: several pieces of 3/4 inch PVC pipe, cut into various lengths, 2 24" pieces, 4 12" pieces, 2 14" pieces and 4 7" pieces; 4 elbow joints; 4 "T" joints; 4 end caps; and a roll of colored duck tape.

First, I attached the "T" joints to the 14" pieces.

Then I attached the elbow joints to the 24" pieces.

Next, I put the end caps on the 7" pieces.

Then I added the 7" pieces into the other side of the "T" of the "T" joints.

Then I put the 12" pieces into the third opening of the "T" joint.

Finally, I attached the 24" pieces to the rest of the pieces and you'll have your pull up bars!

As a last step, I wrapped the top pieces of the bars with colored duct tape so that Munchkin would be able to grip the bars better.

 Ta da!! She loves them!

Super easy project and really cheap. I think we spent less than $20 for all the supplies. You can't beat that! One thing I need to do but haven't yet is put little rubber pads on the bottom of the bars so it doesn't slide as bad when she leans on it. Back to Home Depot I go... (oh darn!).

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Naptime Project: Baby Sleeping Sign

The doorbell. It is a new mom's worst nightmare. 

Picture this: fussy baby needs a nap. Fussy baby won't go down for a nap without a lot of nursing and a LOT of rocking, rocking, rocking. So tired mommy nurses and rocks (and rocks, and rocks) fussy baby until finally, FINALLY, fussy baby falls asleep. Tired mommy carefully lays fussy baby down in her crib, holding her breath so as not to breathe too loudly and wake fussy baby up. Very slowly, tired mommy tiptoes out of the nursery and closes the door. Relief surges through her. She breathes easier and is about to get started on some of the things she's planned to hurriedly get done during nap time when, all of a sudden,


...followed by the cries of fussy baby and the curses of tired mommy. 

Never in my life have I wanted to murder the UPS guy as much as I did the day he woke my baby. So I decided to do something to dissuade would-be ringers from using the dreaded doorbell.

Here's what I used:

I got the small wooden plaque, Mod Podge and some acrylic paint at Hobby Lobby. I used ribbon I already had in my stash and I created the sign in Photoshop.

First I painted one side of the wooden plaque and let it dry.

Next I cut out my image and, following the directions on the Mod Podge bottle, put some Mod Podge on the back of my image and placed it on the front of the plaque. I let it dry for a couple hours.

Still following the directions, I put two coats of Mod Podge over the front of the image, letting it dry for 20 minutes between coats.

After the final coat dried, I cut a length of ribbon and hot glued it to the back of the plaque.

Finally, I grabbed a clear Command hook, hung it on the house right above the dreaded doorbell and hung my handy sign so that it hung over the doorbell. Voila!

So far, it has been very useful in deterring people from ringing the stupid thing. Success! 

Now, to put fussy baby down for a nap...rock, rock, rock...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Beautiful Life: A Story in Pictures

I've already shared my birth story here with you, so I won't go into any details again. Instead, I'll let the images (taken by the immensely talented Cristina Wisner of Wisner Photo) speak for themselves.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Naptime Project: Simple and Sweet Letter Wreath

Before I had a baby I took great pleasure in decorating my house according to the season. The apothecary jars on my fireplace mantle would display appropriate what-nots depending on the weather: pinecones and cinnamon sticks in the fall, glittery ornaments in the winter, green moss and flowers in the spring, and shells and sand in the summer. On my front door, I would always have a seasonal wreath as well. I loved decorating for the seasons!

Nowadays, well...I just don't have time for that anymore. But I can't just NOT decorate! So I decided my best option was to create something that I could hang on my door that would be cute and appropriate for all seasons (except just ain't right not to hang a Christmas wreath!).

One day while rocking Munchkin for her nap I had an epiphany. Why not combine my love of monograms and burlap to make a simple wreath? And that's exactly what I did!

I gathered my supplies at Hobby Lobby: a black letter "B," an over-the-door wreath hanger, burlap ribbon and a few simple fabric rosettes.

I played around with the placement of the rosettes until I liked what I saw and then glued them down with hot glue.

Then I took a length of burlap ribbon (I just eyeballed it) and folded it up at each end. I hot glued the ends to the back of the "B" and added some black felt since burlap ribbon is kinda hard to glue down.

Next I took a couple of lengths of the burlap ribbon and overlapped them slightly.

I folded the ribbon back onto itself in thirds.

Then I bunched the middle together to make a bow and used a twist tie to keep it in place.

Next I took a very short piece of the ribbon and folded it in thirds lengthwise.

I wrapped the piece around the middle of the bow and glued it down. Then I attached it to the top of the burlap ribbon on the "B" and hung it up!

Nice and simple, right? Appropriate for all seasons, right? I thought so.

And super easy to make! It took me all of 30 minutes...because that's all the time I had before Munchkin woke up from her nap. Anyone else have a baby who won't nap? Oy vey.

So, what super simple projects are you working on these days?

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