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The reality sets in

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Reality has been hitting me in spurts lately. The reality that “mother” has become part of my identity…it is who I am when I wake up at 2AM, shaking and fuzzy from exhaustion to roll my little girl from her co sleeper into my arms when she has woken. She sighs as soon as I pop the bottle in her mouth…a contented sigh that indicates she is comfie again. She knows my arms. The routine of feeding her until she drifts slowly away. Bouncing her with her head on my chest. Patting her to the rhythm of a heart beat. What is she dreaming when she smiles in her sleep, I wonder.

It’s the reality of coming home after a long day at work and seeing her eyes light up when she looks at me, recognizing me as someone who is important in her life–who gives her something more than just food, but she can’t quite pinpoint what yet. I press her bright red rosy cheeks to me and she smiles and buries her face in my chest, shy and elated that I am back again from the moon and other place I go when I’m not with her.

I find that I like to drink in her smell. When she exhales, I try and take in her breath.

Her belches and farts are the cutest things ever.

There are days I feel soggy. Wasted. Utterly mowed over.  A sagging lump of flesh that is there to serve her. I can barely give to her, and I certainly fail as a wife. My flesh isn’t just his anymore, and it makes us both sad and lonely sometimes. I keep meaning to do more…and then she cries and she needs me, and I get lost again. I turn the shower up as hot as it goes and try to remember life “before”. But I can’t. It is only this feed. This nap. This hello. This goodbye. This smile. This pouting lip. This feather-like eyebrow. This fat roll on her thigh. This impossibly tiny fingernail. This laugh with her and Hubs as she “talks” and squawks on her changing table.

I’m 14 weeks into this, and this is my reality. It’s a terrifying and amazing place to be.

 

 

11 Week updates

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Like many new parents before me…I have been slacking on the blog post. I always thought that I would be able to keep up with blogging and raising a newborn, but I must say, I’m doing a terrible job as a blogger. I’m pretty ok as a Mom, but this blogging business has taken a sideline.

Shira is napping now so I thought I would squeeze in 10 minutes to give some updates on being the parent of an 11 week old.

It has gotten easier…as much as I fought that advice and thought people were crazy when they said it, this week has been a turning point for us. I’m finally feeling comfortable and in control with my little girl. The first 4 weeks I was careening in an abyss of sleepless nights and painful pumping sessions. The second 4 weeks I was still barely clinging on–Shira went through an extremely fussy 3 weeks, and it’s so so hard when you feel like your baby is in discomfort and you will try anything to soothe her and nothing is working. These last 4 weeks have been much MUCH better. No more crying after feeds! Sleeping 6 hour stretches from 7PM to1 or 2AM most nights! She has relaxed and come into her own. She’s even starting to look like a little person!

At 11 weeks, she:

  • Has found her hands. She eats them as a tasty snack
  •  is a star at tummy time and even rolls from tummy to back with no crying!
  •  gives me and Hubs the most darling ear to ear grins in the morning that it’s hard to be pissed she wakes up at 5AM
  •  grabs on to my shoulder and buries her face in my chest which is yummy.
  •  seems to know the song “Wheels on the Bus” because she gets excited every time I sing it.
  • Babbles and babbles and babbles. This kid will talk early. I find it hilarious when my husband actually tries to teach her how to say words at this age and she’ll just stare blankly at him, but hey–it’s worth a shot!
  • Is a good eater. Hot milk, cold milk, boob milk, formula–this girl either can’t taste the difference or just doesn’t care.
  • Has HUGE cheeks. We’re nicknaming her the Godfather.

It is hitting me slowly but surely that I will be heading back to work in two weeks, and that I will miss my little girl terribly. I’m getting nervous that she goes to be so early (6:30 most nights) and how we will keep her up later so I can actually see her when I get home…any working mommies have any advice?

And, of course, I leave with a pic!

Shira_bow

Status Quo-ish

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Greetings!

I’m still digging myself out of a hole of baby screaming, but I wanted to give some updates.

First up, THANK YOU to everyone who chimed in on my post about Shira’s fussiness. I really REALLY appreciate it. We have been having our good days and our difficult days still, but every comment was like a God send, helping me feel less alone.

On good days, Shira coos and giggles and smiles on her changing table and tries to roll over. She gets excited to see her daddy. She babbles. She rarely cries, and calmly goes from feeding to sleeping. On her difficult days (I’m trying not to label them “bad”–just difficult.,,,) Shira will still smile and coo, but her moods go from zero to sixty in any direction. She could be happily sucking away and burped and changed, and all of a sudden, she absolutely DOES NOT want to be put down. Or I could put on her pants the “wrong way” and she begins to scream and cry louder than anything. Two days ago she went through a phase where she would not let me put her down without throwing a screaming fit. It took enormous effort to get her to nap, and everything was to the extreme. It may very well be my diet that’s doing this to her, but I honestly think this is just who she is. She has an intensity about her that burns in a positive and negative way.

One very big positive for us is that we switched bottles recently, and her feeds are 10 billion times calmer than they used to be. She is not guzzling milk down in 5 minutes or less, nothing dribbles, and she doesn’t choke on her food. The new bottles are the Playtex Ventaire–I would HIGHLY recommend them!! Another big positive is that she’s finally grown into the Ergo and will be worn! She refused to be put down two days ago, so this was really the only option I had to save my sanity. She fell asleep being worn, and I go to answer email and fold some laundry. A win!

Lastly on the “win” side, we have been working her up into napping in her crib. Two days ago during her mega crank fest, she refused to nap more than 20 minutes during the day, and we discovered that her swing in the living room is no longer going to work for napping. It’s too light in there, and she needs to be forced to sleep now. I have been monitoring the clock more than I ever have, and make sure that I am winding her down every 90 minutes or so in her dark bedroom. When she is good and sleepy, I swaddle her, and put her down. Yesterday she took a two hour nap in her crib!! Yippee!!!

Today was vaccination day, and she handled it like a champ. If anything, my daughter’s perpetual intense state makes her very strong when it comes to shots! They didn’t have a combo shot, so she got three separate shots, and although she cried, it lasted all of 20 seconds until she was back to cooing and smiling again. Honestly, I’ve seen her react more violently to a diaper change. The little dear has been sleeping most of the day since the shots, and I’m keeping an eye on her.

And finally, one dose of cuteness that was taken 10 seconds before she spit up all over the couch that I have kept in pristine condition for 10 years.

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Seriously, how could you not just eat this face UP??!!!

Shira “Speaks”!

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Lost at 7 weeks

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Hey all (and by *all*, I mean the three of you that still read this blog!), I’m sorry I haven’t written in such a long time. It hasn’t been intentional…in fact, truth be told, I haven’t thought about writing until this morning at 4AM when my bleary, sleep deprived shell had a moment and realized that it had been a couple of weeks since I had posted last.

Shira turned 7 weeks over the weekend.

Truthfully, it’s been tough. I’m incredibly exhausted…the likes of which I have never known. It’s a deep exhaustion that comes from basically 3 hour spurts of sleep twice a night, going on 8 weeks. Shira is a very. very demanding baby. I know that all babies are demanding, but seriously guys…this girl does not stop for a second unless she’s sleeping. Her legs are always kicking, her arms are always flitting around, she squirms (will not sit still in my lap, doesn’t like to be cradled for long, HATES carriers…I’ve tried and tried with the carriers, and she will scream and/or push her legs up like she wants to stand and get frustrated when she can’t), screams (and I mean, screams like I’m torturing her) at every. single. diaper change until the diaper comes off, in which case she laughs, smiles, and coos, and “talks” to me in the most adorable baby babble. And when she’s done smiling and babbling, she goes back to screaming. I don’t think it’s a digestive issue, as she eats fine, has minimal gas, rarely if ever spits up, and goes to sleep right after eating during her night feeds. It’s our days that are just…well….non stop. I can’t leave her in her chair for more than 10 minutes before she starts screaming to be moved on to the next thing (stroller, play mat, bouncing…) Life has been a cycle of moving around my living room to different activities, taking a walk around the neighborhood for a change of scenery, sleeping, changing, eating. Our Mommy and Me class on Wednesdays breaks up the day, and I’d like to do more stuff outside the house/neighborhood, but I’m so FUCKING TIRED that the effort it takes to pack up everything, make plans, get her in the car, and go somewhere seems daunting. This sounds horrible, but she sleeps in the car rides sometimes, and I get sad because I’m missing out on a time when I could be napping because I’m driving us somewhere.

I feel like I’m losing my mind.

The good news is, she sleeps very well at night (knocking on every piece of wood in my house right now…) She takes small cat naps during the day that last anywhere from 20 mins to an hour, and then has a nuclear meltdown every night around 6PM. We give her a bath (which she LOVES–shuts her right up!) and then swaddle and diaper her (cue: SCREAMS), get a bottle (likes), and then passes out around 7:30ish and sleeps for 6-7 hours. I know this sounds amazing, and like I should be getting more sleep, but there’s no way I can go to bed at 7:30 with her every night! Hubs and I have a precious few hours alone together, clean up the war zone we call “home” which has been filled with blankets, toys, and dishes from throughout the day, go to bed, and I’m up for a 12 or 1AM feed. Or I’m pumping. Always pumping…

Does it get better? Am I doing enough to keep her stimulated? Not too stimulated? Our days and weeks are seriously blending together…I had no clue what day it was today.

I’m told it gets easier…it’s hard to believe this, but I’m hoping it does. Thank God my mom can come in and help us a couple times this week…even 3 hours once a week takes the edge off sometimes.

Shira is up from her 20 minute nap now, and the screaming will cue up soon.

Arrrggghhhhhhhhhh.

 

If At First She Screams Bloody Murder in a Boba…

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Try again. And again. And again.

I waited to put her in this time until after she was fed, changed, and basically passed out in her stroller. She fussed for about 1 minute, and then I spent 10 minutes walking her up and down my front yard outside (as suggested!) It’s literally about 104 degrees here today, so I can’t be outside with her in the wrap for very long, but she fell asleep in it, and has remained in it for a good 20 minutes! A record!

Wait...so I can hold you AND type an email?? Happy tears.

Wait…so I can hold you AND type an email?? Happy tears.

I’m still not 100% confident that she will always be this good, but we’ll keep trying.

A Marathon that Never ends

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This entry is rushed.  Shira may be sleeping for 10 minutes now, so I figure now is a good time to update. I feel like I’m running a marathon that never ends. Every day is blending into the next, and it’s tough to keep up. Shira is a doll. Seriously, I love her to bits, but she is getting to be more and more demanding as she hits 5 weeks (tomorrow). Something about this week has made her cranky and clingy. The Wonder Weeks talks about this developmental milestone having these symptoms, and I’m hoping it’s a phase .Shira has never been a particularly calm child, but this past week she has had two modes: “Passed the Fuck Out” or “Screaming Bloody Murder”. She will tolerate her play mat or changing table for a good 5 minutes before screaming to be held again, and her poor little arms and legs are a bit spastic which agitates her to no end.

This is us at any given moment during the day when she decides to have a food coma and will not tolerate being put down to sleep:

Shira: drunk on milk. Me: exhausted.

Shira: drunk on milk. Me: exhausted.

 

I have been trying to find a carrier she will tolerate, but every single time I try one (the Ergo was the latest adventure) she screams like I’m torturing her. She ONLY wants to be held, or sleeps in her rocker, stroller, and/or the Co-sleeper, or splashes around in the tub (she LOVES bath time, and sometimes I wish I could just keep her in the tub for hours). By 7PM she has fritzed out, and gets seriously cranky. She then passes out for a good 6-7 hours (I know, I’m lucky) wakes, feeds, sleeps another two hours, wakes, feeds, sleeps another two hours, and then our day begins again at about 7AM. She sleeps maybe 2-3 hours total during the day in little nap spurts of 15 minutes. I don’t know what “normal” is, but it is certainly exhausting to do the daily routine of consolling her, feeding her, changing her, and listening to her scream. That being said, there is a calm during the storm each day where she looks at me intensely and breaks into HUGE smiles which make me flip out and love her even more.

I found that I was barely getting out of the house at all so I forced myself to join a mommy group once a week. My first class was on Wednesday and it was SO NICE to be around other moms going through similar things. I was terrified of driving with Shira by myself, but we made it, and Shira was on her best behavior (only had one melt down in class which was remedied by a ready bottle of breast milk and a nap on me).

This girl is intense. But so damn lovable.

Either her hairline's receding or her head is growing! Either way, that smile is melt worthy!

Either her hairline’s receding or her head is growing! Either way, that smile is melt worthy!

Updates!

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First up: Thanks to Belle for the adorable fashion inspiration! I gots Shira some pretty bows!

Pensive Shira is contemplating her new look:

Shira_bow1

Giddy Shira is happy her mommy dressed her in something other than a diaper.

Shira_Bow2

It’s been so hot around here, and our house is poorly cooled, so for the most part, Shira has been living nearly nude. This was all well and good until I went to dress her in some actual clothes and realized she had completely outgrown her newborn clothes in a matter of 3 weeks!! She’s in 3 month sizes now, and continues to amaze me at how long she is growing every day. The pediatrician had to re-measure her last week because they thought there was an error in their measurements. She grew 2 inches in 2 weeks, and is now 8 pounds 10 ounces and nearly 22 inches long. WOWEE!

I’ve been MIA this week and last because there are so many family members visiting. My MIL stayed with us for a week last week and is still in LA this week. I must admit I was a bit apprehensive about having her stay at our place when Shira was only 2 weeks old. I had this idea in my head that Hubs and I were going to spend the first few weeks of Shira’s life quietly bonding, cooing, and magically waking every 3 hours to have “dream feeds” and the like. I was worried that having another family member in the house helping out would destroy this magic bond.

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHA.

Excuse me while I eat my words bite by painful bite.

Ok. So, my MIL is a bit pushy at times…. And she tells me how to clean my house and fold my laundry…. And she annoys my husband by requesting that he take the trash out in his own home.,,BUT. I have to admit she was a lifesaver when it came to educating our clueless asses about the proper care and feeding of Shira. Turns out my Type A monitoring of how much formula she was getting was not meeting Shira’s hunger needs which is why she was so fussy some days early on. I had this app called Baby ESP that I was using, and although it’s helpful to figure out how many ounces you’re feeding and when, I have since abandoned it and have been MUCH happier. Once my MIL started teaching me how to feed on demand by treating the bottle like the breast, we have been a much happier home. Shira is a delight and SO CHILL (most of the time). She eats pretty constantly throughout the day, little bits here and there, or sometimes if she’s really hungry, she’ll guzzle down 2-2.5 ounces. All she needed was a bit more food on a steady drip, and she spends most of the day cooing and sleeps like a log (unless she has gas, in which case, she screams at me and burps loudly and farts and shits). She has a very fussy hour or two around 6-8, but last night she went down at 7:30PM, and didn’t get up until…2:30AM. Hubs and I actually had to wake her up because we started to get worried. I changed her, fed her, and she was down again until 5AM, ate, and went back to sleep until 8AM. CRAZY! Of course, now that she is sleeping longer stretches at night, she is up more during the day. I’m still trying to perfect her bottle feeding method as there are times when I will be feeding her and she will sort of choke on the milk and paw and scream at me like I’m torturing her. My MIL does not have this problem when feeding her, nor does Hubs, so it’s been taking a whack at my self esteem lately. I know, I know…she’s a baby…she can’t feel “hate”….but having her scream and claw her nails into my chest during a feeding feels awful!
Shira will be one month old on Saturday, and I’ve been thinking lately about the steep learning curve we’ve all gone through in this house in the span of a month:

  • Newborns cure you of insomnia. Seriously. I went from sporadic sleep at best to craving every little last bit of shut I I can get. There was a point a couple of days ago where I did the once “unthinkable” thing of letting Shira sleep for two hours on my chest just so I could fall asleep at 5AM. Before she was born I somehow thought that the fact that I already had insomnia would make the night feedings easy breezy. I was SO WRONG.
  • Doggy pee pads are amazing on the changing table. I change Shira on them all of the time and it has saved us multiple poo and pee stains on the changing pad!
  • I probably don’t sterilize my bottles or breast pump as much as I should (I pump about 10 times per day, and it’s simply impossible to do a deep clean every time and still have time to have a life), and I’ve certainly fed Shira formula that has sat out for more than an hour. I accidentally fed her 6 hour formula at 2AM because the bottle was sitting mext to the bottle of breast milk and I was so tired I didn’t look at which one I fed her. I panicked, but Shira appears to be OK.
  • If it means that she will be going to sleep soon if I keep her in the EXACT position she’s in, spit up, shit, and piss all over me is worth the sacrifice and will not bother me.
  • To that note, the couch that I had lovingly kept stain free for almost 10 years has now been spit up on 15 times.
  • Pumping is no joke. I feel at times like I am a human cow, good only for providing Shira with milk. I feel especially down when she has spent the greater part of an afternoon screaming bloody murder at me and the bottle of breast milk I lovingly pumped for her at 3:30AM. My supply barely keeps up with her, and we probably have to supplement 2-3 feeds per day with formula. But I’m doing my best, damnit…and that’s about all I can do.
  • Despite all of the above, Shira is still really yummy when she wakes up and looks at me with those adorable doe eyes.

What do I do with her?

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So…now what?

I am finding myself getting increasingly bored and restless with the wake/feed/shit/repeat schedule we’re on, and I feel guilty in a way…like I’m not providing enough stimulation for her.  Anyone know any cool newborn games? Or do they basically just sleep, shit, and scream?

I think part of the problem has been that I just today finally figured how to Boba wrap her. This baby oragami with the wrap had me quite intimidated, and I had been putting off learning how to do it. Today was my breaking point, as she has been throwing some fits after being fed, and hates being put in her rocker or her chair. She was also screaming while being held, so I had run out of options and was literally couch bound holding a screaming baby, unless I wanted to put her in her chair and have her scream there. Today I studied up on the Boba wrap, crossed my fingers, and put her in it when she was half asleep. No cries! She slept on my chest wrapped up for another hour at least, until it was time for another feed. Meanwhile, I could walk around with her and get stuff done.

I’m typing this with her in the wrap again. She had just been fed and screamed bloody murder when I put her in it, but has since calmed down, and gone to sleep on my chest again. I am drinking a Newcastle to celebrate. I don’t think she’s wrapped up as well this time (she’s sort of slumped in a side sleeping position), but at this point, I don’t want to disturb her. Resisting the urge to google “permanent damage from wrapping baby the wrong way in Boba.”

Anyone else had a kid who initially screamed when put in the wrap, but then calmed down? I feel sort of bad that she seemed to initially hate the wrap. Anyone else have a newborn who, at two weeks started fussing unbelievably? She was a model one week old, and then now at two weeks, the kid either eats, shits, or cries when she’s awake. I initially thought it might be gas, and maybe it is, but the difference between week one and week two has been remarkable, and there has been no changes in my diet or her formula.

The last two weeks have also been a test on my relationship with Hubs. Any sort of physical intimacy has been off the table, and I find that our conversations revolve almost entirely on how much Shira has eaten, what her shit looks like, and handing her off to one another so the other can sleep or jerk off in the guest room (take a guess who does what?) Our lack of sexual intimacy has been frustrating for Hubs…he logically understands that it cannot happen right now, but it is still hard nonetheless (pun intended). I have the sex drive of a lobotomized asexual right now, and to make matters worse, my clitoris feels bruised (TMI?). It has felt this way since after the birth…anyone else experience this? I am trying not to freak out that this is a permanent side effect of birthing a 7.5 pounder out of my vag. I totally miss my old vagina and my old sex drive. The stitches are healing, but I took a look down there a few days ago and realized that whatever stitching was done has altered the look of my vagina somewhat. It’s nothing that looks bad, but I can tell the difference.

I’m sure all of this is temporary, but the first two weeks have been a big shock to the system…

 

EPING

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This entry will cover my thoughts on breast feeding. Put all judgmental nipples away, please!

Just when I thought my days of annoying baby-related abbreviations were done (TTC, EWCM, AF, blah blah blah…) I have been confronted with a new abbreviation in the Mommy world that has been annoying the shit out of me the last couple of weeks. The term is: EBF. Or, “Exclusively Breast Fed”. Said with the subtle undertone of,  “I’m better than you because I exclusively breast feed my baby.” Yes, I know that not everyone feels this smug satisfaction when they say that they EBF their babies, but there are quite a few people who do, and unfortunately I had some run ins with them when I was in a very vulnerable place.

To start from the beginning, Shira and I had a very VERY difficult time from the get go with breast feeding. It is my worst memory of being in the hospital. I was in pain, bleeding, swollen, completely sleep deprived, and unable to satiate my daughter or know what was wrong, or why I couldn’t feed her. I would not wish ANYONE to go through that fear of seeing your child shaking with frustration and hunger.  I belong to an LA Mommy group on Facebook, and when I posted there when I was in the thick of things for helpful advice on milk supply, and supplementing, all I got were a bunch of psychos telling me  that “breast is best” and I just had to “hang in there”. I was also told by one person that because I had to use fertility meds to conceive Shira, my low supply was evolution’s way of indicating that I wouldn’t be able to breast feed because I couldn’t conceive naturally.  Sorry. But fuck that. And fuck the term EBF if it’s used to be smug and judgmental of people who would “dare” give their children formula AKA “baby poison”.

There was no lactation consultant on call at the hospital on the weekends, and Shira was born on a Saturday. So aside from 5 or 10 minutes here and there from different nurses who each taught me a completely different way to feed her, I basically was left to my own completely non sensical devices on how to feed her from my boobs all while operating on about 2 hours of sleep in 48 hours.  To make matters even more difficult, I have very small, flat nipples, and she wasn’t able to latch properly. No one thought to recommend a nipple shield, and every attempt for her to suck at my breast was met with screams and crying so frustrated that she would be shaking and inconsolable for 5 to 10 minutes after every attempt. She would maybe nurse for 5 minutes before getting completely inconsolable. It got to a point where she would start screaming and crying as soon as I started to position her to feed, based on her memory of the previous feeding traumas. By the end of the day on Sunday, she had lost almost 10% of her body weight, was not calming down, and was seriously dehydrated to a point where her mouth was dry. I broke down sobbing, and got extremely pissed at some of the nursing staff who were each telling me a different way to breast feed. Shira’s head was flopping everywhere, and I didn’t even know how to hold her. Some of the nursing staff took pity on me and milked my breasts for colostrum for 30 minutes and produced maybe a teaspoon full which they finger fed to Shira, but that didn’t help calm her down. I eventually succumbed to (collective judgemental EBF Mom gasp) a one ounce formula feed which instantly quieted my little girl, and helped her sleep. Seeing her go from frantic and beet faced to calm and relaxed  when she got food broke my heart. I felt like I had been torturing her for two days.

Look, I know that there are plenty of moms out there who exclusively breast feed, and maybe all breast feeding is met initially with resistance from the baby, but I could not shake the memories of those two or three days when I couldn’t feed my baby. On Monday, the lactation consultant showed up at the hospital, but the damage had already been done. Shira preferred the formula nipple that would satiate her hunger instantly, over my boob that was  barely producing a slow drip of colostrum for her. When I got home, I immediately rented a Medela Symphony pump to try and at least make sure I was getting Shira some colostrum even if it was fed to her with a bottle. A lactation consultant came to the house that night and tried to help me, and my doula kindly spent some time with me the following morning showing me how to use a nipple sheild. Although the shield helped, my milk flow was still very very slow, and Shira had a hard time sucking. So I would inevitably have to supplement after every feed or Shira would start wailing again.

I attempted to breast feed her at every feed for a week, but her screams became too much, and she would get worked up at every feeding. I found I was dreading feeding her, and becoming more and more anxious. This is absolutely NOT healthy. I hit a point where I decided that I would rather lovingly and calmly feed Shira a bottle than be stressed out all of the time.

After much Googling, I stumbled across another term on the internet called “EPING” or, “Exclusively Pumping”. Although I’m not quite pumping enough milk yet for Shira to be exclusively bottle fed breast milk, I’m getting close! I pump every 2-3 hours, and get about 2-3ounces a pump which has been enough for about 70% of her feeds.

Here’s what I LOVE about bottle feeding:

  • Our feedings are relaxed now!
  • I get to look into my baby’s eyes while I feed her, and I don’t cry because my nipples hurt so bad
  • Hubs has taken over one to two night shift feedings, and I get 4-6 hours of straight sleep per night!
  • Shira is gaining weight and is satiated–a feeling I never got when trying to breast feed her
  • I have an easier time tracking how much she’s eating, and it makes me feel more comfortable (yes, I’m a control freak)

The point is…I guess we all try and do our best as moms. I wanted to experience the joys of breast feeding Shira, but it wasn’t meant to be, and I’m actually surprised at how little I mourn the loss…maybe if I’d had a more positive experience from the get go, I would have been more sad to say goodbye to breast feeding. For now, I’m aiming to have a 100% EPING day as soon as my milk supply catches up with Shira’s appetite.