Food

    Dairy Free Butternut Squash Soup

    Fall is the best time to make soups. My favorite kinds of soups are cream based, but since figuring out I need to be dairy free for Charley, I need to figure out a way to cook my favorite types of soups without heavy cream. I realize not everyone is dairy free, but most recipes can be substituted either way. With it being fall, I wanted to create a soup that had fall ingredients. I made a simple roasted garlic butternut squash soup and after talking to my cousin, Abby we came up with yummy things to add into our soup. I created the base and she added the great idea of adding brussel sprouts and rotisserie chicken, while I thought of adding bacon. It turned out to be the best dairy free butternut squash soup.

    I prepared all the veggies as demonstrated above. I cubed the butternut squash and quartered the onions and brussel sprouts. I prepared my garlic by cutting off the top of the head and drizzling with olive oil. Then I seasoned my prepared veggies.

    On top of roasting these veggies, I also shred a rotisserie chicken, I left a breast and wing out to be made into chicken salad. I also fried bacon. I pureed the squash, onions, and roasted garlic with my emulsion blender and added the rest of the ingredients to the soup with two cans of full-fat coconut milk. I used two cans, because I wanted it to be a little thinner of consistency, but you can use one can and some chicken stock or one cup cream and some chicken stock. Or just stick with a thicker consistency with either one can of coconut milk or one cup of heavy cream. Add the brussel sprouts and bacon and warm through.

    The flavors were amazing, I drizzled some balsamic vinegar on top and this soup hit so many flavor profiles. It was sweet, salty, tangy, creamy, with a hint of smokiness. I was so happy with how this dairy free butternut squash soup turned out.

    Butternut Squash Soup

    Prep Time 20 minutes
    Cook Time 50 minutes
    Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
    Servings 5 servings

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 lb. bacon chopped

    Butternut Squash

    • 1 large butternut squash cubed, yielded 7 1/2 C.
    • 1 large onion quatered
    • 2 TBSP olive oil
    • 1 TBSP dried thyme
    • 1 tsp. dried ground sage
    • salt & pepper to taste
    • 1 tsp. truffle dust (optional), found at Kroger

    Brussel Sprouts

    • 1 C brussel sprouts quartered
    • 1 tsp. bacon grease
    • salt & pepper, to taste
    • pinch ground nutmeg

    Soup

    • 1 Rotisserie chicken exclude one breast & wing
    • 1-2 cans full-fat coconut milk depends on desired thickness
    • balsamic vinegar (optional), drizzled over top
    • additional salt, pepper, & thyme to taste

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 425.

    Butternut Squash & Garlic

    1. Add prepared squash and onions into a medium sized mixing bowl. Add olive oil, herbs, and salt & pepper and combine well. 

    2. Pour bowl onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Spread out the mixture evenly onto the sheet. Reserve bowl for brussel sprouts.

    3. Chop off the head off garlic, exposing the bulbs. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil.
    4. Put the tray and foil wrapped bulb into the oven. Roast for 40 minutes, stirring the squash at the 20 minute mark. Let the garlic bulb cool then remove skin from the cloves of garlic

    Bacon & Brussel Sprouts

    1. While squash is roasting add bacon to a pot and fry. 

    2. Once done remove bacon from pan. Discard the grease, reserving 1 tsp. for the brussel sprouts. 

    3. Add quartered brussel sprouts to the same bowl used for the squash. There should be leftover oil, and seasoning left in the bowl. Along with that add the reserved bacon grease, a pinch of nutmeg, and salt & pepper to taste.  

    4. Add brussel sprouts to a parchment lined baking sheet. With 20 minutes left to the squash, place the brussel sprouts on the second rack of the oven. Roast for 20 minutes. 

    Soup

    1. Add the roasted squash, onion, and garlic to a pot on medium-low heat and blend with an emulsion blender (it can be added to a blender, if you don't have an emulsion blender). 


    2. Once it's blended, add coconut milk. Continue blending with an emulsion blender if it's still chunky and to stir the milk in. 

    3. While it's cooking add in the rotisserie chicken and warm through. 


    4. Add in the brussel sprouts and bacon and continue cooking till everything is warmed through. Add additional seasonings at this point.

    5. Pour into a bowl and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Serve as is or with a crostini to dip.  

     

    Food

    Creamy Balsamic Pasta

    This creamy balsamic pasta is my favorite pasta dish. I make it all the time. It’s creamy, tangy, cheesy, and just the perfect quintessential comfort dish. My husband is more of a red sauce fan, and I am more of a cream sauce (even though I am now dairy-free because of my little one), so I feel like this recipe is a good compliment.

    If you aren’t a fan of clams this is just as good with chicken. I have made it several times with different types of protein. It’s really easy to throw together. I really love experimenting with Italian sauces for pasta, it’s definitely one of my favorite foods.

    Creamy Balsamic Pasta

    Prep Time 20 minutes
    Cook Time 40 minutes
    Total Time 1 hour
    Servings 4 servings

    Ingredients

    • 1 onion chopped
    • 1 8 oz jar sun-dried tomatoes juilenned, reserve a little of the oil
    • 4 cloves garlic minced
    • 1 C heavy cream
    • 1/8 C balsamic vinegar
    • salt & pepper to taste
    • 1/2 C fresh parmesan cheese grated
    • 1 10 oz can baby clams drained
    • 8-16 oz box noodles of choice
    • fresh parsley
    • extra fresh Parmesan grated

    Instructions

    1. In a high lid pan melt 1 TBSP butter with 1 TBSP reserved oil from the sun-dried tomatoes.

      While this is going prepare your noodles according to package instructions.

    2. Once the butter is melted add onions into the pan and saute. Once the onions become translucent add garlic. Season with salt & pepper, to taste. Saute again for another 2-3 minutes. Then add the sun-dried tomatoes and warm through. 

    3. Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Once the cream is simmering add the balsamic vinegar and again bring to a simmer. 

    4. Melt in the Parmesan cheese and add the baby clams till the clams are warmed through. Melt in the additional TBSP butter.

    5. Pour sauce over noodles and garnish with parsley and fresh Parmesan.

    Food

    Creamy Seafood Risotto

    I learned how to make risotto three years ago. Coming from a small town in the Midwest, risotto is not something you find on many menus. It wasn’t until we went to a restaurant about an hour away from us, that I first experienced this amazing dish and since then I have been hooked. They made a creamy seafood risotto with prime rib and I instantly fell in love. So it was my goal to not only recreated it, but master this dish. I think their risotto was a little soupier than traditional. But it was still delicious.

    It’s my go-to comfort meal and my go-to meal to impress people. But since I already impressed my husband enough to put a ring on it ;). I am sharing my recipe for any man or woman who want to impress that special someone. This is definitely not a cheap meal, so you can definitely tailor this according to your budget. I make this fancy of a version maybe once a year, when I find lobster cheap at Aldi. This meal is definitely not for a beginner, least not the extensive version. But, again, you can tailor it according to your cooking talents as well.

    Creamy Seafood Risotto

    Prep Time 30 minutes
    Cook Time 35 minutes
    Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
    Servings 4 serving

    Ingredients

    • 1 lg onion chopped
    • 4 cloves garlic minced
    • 1 C fresh Parmesan grated, reserve about a 1/4 C for garnish
    • 1 stick + 2 TBSP butter reserve 2 TBSP for cooking Scallops and shrimp
    • salt & pepper to taste
    • pinch red pepper flakes
    • 1 TBSP grated lemon zest + juice
    • fresh parsley for compound butter & garnish
    • 4 4-6 oz lobster tails
    • 8 lg scallops
    • 1/2 lb. shrimp
    • 1/2 pint mushrooms of choice
    • at least 8 C seafood or chicken stock
    • 1 C arborio rice
    • 1/4 C brandy
    • 1/4 C heavy whipping cream
    • 2 TBSP olive oil

    Instructions

    Seafood

    1. Preheat oven to the oven's broil setting.

    2. To make the compound butter: in a small mixing bowl add butter, a pinch of garlic that was minced (save the rest for cooking the risotto), 1-2 TBSP of parsley (save the rest for garnish), juice and zest of a lemon, salt & pepper to taste, and a pinch of red pepper flake. Mix well. 

    3. Prepare lobster tails by cutting slits lengthwise down the top and bottom of the lobster. Pack the slits with the compound butter.

    4. Place tails in a baking dish. Once there is ten minutes left in cooking the risotto place the baking dish in the oven and broil for ten minutes, or until shells are bright red. 

    5. Remove tails from shells and set aside to top individual bowls of risotto with one lobster tail each . 

    6. Remove any excess liquid from the scallops and shrimp by blotting with a paper towel. Season scallops and shrimp with salt & pepper, to taste. 

    7. In a skillet on medium-high heat add one TBSP of butter and let melt. Once the butter starts bubbling add the scallops and sear for about two minutes a side. The higher the heat the better the sear on the outside, just make sure not to overcook. Set the scallops aside and add the other TBSP of butter and add the shrimp. Sear shrimp about two-three minutes a side or until shrimp become a nice pink opaque color. Set shrimp aside. 

    8. Once risotto is nearly done either fold in the shrimp or top the bowls with it. I highly recommend folding in the shrimp but topping each individual bowl with a lobster tail and two scallops each. 

    Risotto

    1. In a small stock pot bring the seafood or chicken stock to a simmer. Keep that at a low heat while making risotto. 

    2. In a large stock pot on medium heat add olive oil. Once that is heated add onions. Cook until soft and translucent.

    3. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute or two until fragrant. Season with salt & pepper, to taste and continue seasoning as you continue cooking if needed.

    4. Add mushrooms and cook for another minute or two. 

    5. Then add arborio rice. Lightly toast rice for about two-three minutes. Then deglaze the pan with brandy. Stir until the liquid is absorbed into the rice. 

    6. Then start the process of ladling the stock into the risotto. Add a ladle in at a time and stir the risotto after each ladle until the liquid is completely absorbed into the rice. Ladle, stir, ladle, stir for about twenty minutes.  

    7. After the risotto is done stir in the cream (this step is optional; risotto is naturally creamy, but I like to add a little cream to make it even creamier) and Parmesan cheese. Stir until the cream is incorporated and the cheese is melted.  

    8. Fold in the shrimp if you choose. 

    9. Immediately transfer into bowls. Top each bowl with the scallops, lobster tail, fresh parsley, freshly grated Parmesan and freshly cracked black pepper. 

    Motherhood

    Breastfeeding Update: Dealing with Food Sensitivities

    “I’ve never been lucky. And I’m not talkin’ about the lottery, I’m talkin’ about stuff like developing a soy allergy at thirty-five. Who gets a soy allergy at thirty-five? And why is soy in everything?”

    -Darrell Philbin, “The Office”

    I feel like I have been on such a journey with breastfeeding. Our newest thing is food sensitivities. Charley has been very uncomfortable for quite some time now. I’d say at about four weeks old she started having awful days where she would scream and scream. I thought it was the formula we had just recently started. So with our pediatrician’s okay, we stopped supplementing formula, because I had a jump in my supply and she had started gaining weight. It seemed to have helped for awhile. But two weeks later, maybe three, she started becoming increasingly uncomfortable again.

    She would cry for six hours straight, only relaxing during feeding times. Her stools were somewhat mucous-like, which I didn’t think was odd, because she had always had those type of stools. I was talking to my friend and she mentioned that her daughter went through all the same symptoms and it was due to a milk protein allergy. I called my pediatrician and they agreed that it sounded like she could potentially have one, so that day I stopped dairy–or so I thought I did.

    For about ten days I eliminated dairy, excluding butter. No other reason than simply it’s hard to avoid butter in restaurants and I was uneducated in thinking it wouldn’t be an issue. But, after ten days we still weren’t noticing a difference. Did you know there is dairy in ramen? I didn’t! At least the kind I was eating for a week while I was supposed to be dairy free. I didn’t even think to look, because it seems highly unlikely there would be dairy in ramen, but there is. So the whole time I thought I was dairy free (minus the butter) I was not. So after that little mishap I am officially dairy free including butter.

    During this first official week she has still been screaming a lot and if we were going to get through it, we had to find something else to help her while the dairy left both of our systems. So after about a billion people told me about the Gerber Probiotic Drops I finally made the plunge and purchased it. They are not cheap, but after a day and a half using it she has more periods during the day where she’s awake and not screaming, Hallelujah! I did save myself some money and bought the Walgreens brand to try it out first.

    Many people have said that there is a 70% chance that she is also allergic to soy, which is my reasoning for my quote above. Because of course with that high of odds, it is most likely going to be the case. I haven’t eliminated soy yet, but I’m dreading it, because soy literally is in everything.

    I’ve also noticed a drop in my supply, so I am hoping this is just temporary as my body figures out what I am doing with my diet so I am loading up on my Bodyarmor drinks, because that so far is the only thing I have noticed to help my supply. Food sensitivities are not fun and it almost makes breastfeeding seem impossible and not worth it. I’ve noticed her getting a little upset with possibly tomatoes or onions, I haven’t figured out which one is the culprit yet. It’s just so weird, because Scarlett has zero food sensitivities. I have a few. But, it’s so weird how one baby can have none and the other can have a billion.

    Life

    Ten Baby Names I Love

    When I first found out I was pregnant, I immediately started looking at baby names. I feel like when I was still in high school I had hypothetical names picked out for my hypothetical children. I had a ton of names picked out for Charley, that Devin vetoed and have a few boy names I love that I’ll never be able to use. So here are ten baby names I love:

    Wyatt

    This was our name we were going to use if we had a boy. I loved it so much. The biggest reason being it was something that my husband came up with and if you knew my husband it’s kind of a big deal. Devin is someone who has opinions, but puts others in front of himself and goes with the flow. The fact that he actually came up with this name meant a lot to me. He also got it from a WWE wrestler, which just fits him perfectly. I wanted Charley to be Wyatt, but Devin only liked it for a boy name.

    Declan

    I am obsessed with this name. I love Irish culture and if Devin was big into his heritage I feel like I would of definitely gone with Declan. I mean how Irish does Declan McDivitt sound?

    Dimitri

    I really only love this name because it is the name of two of my favorite fictional characters. One being from the series “Vampire Academy” and the other being from “Anastasia”. I can’t be the only one who thought Dimitri in Anastasia was a babe? I am? Okay. Moving on…

    Finn

    I think this name is super cute. One of my favorite fellow mom bloggers that I follow, Heather, named her cute little boy this and I love it.

    Oliver

    I strictly like Oliver because I so desperately would love to nickname my little boy Ollie

    Fiona

    I don’t know why I love this name, but I do. It was one of the names that Devin vetoed.

    Hazel

    There are two things I love in names; old names and boy names you can use for a girl aka Scarlett and Charley. Hazel was one of my names I loved, but Devin vetoed.

    Charlotte 

    So this name is kind of funny to have on my list. You may be thinking, if you like this name why did you name your girl Charley and not Charlotte? Well, first of all, for sentimental reasonings. But, secondly, Scarlett and Charlotte are just too similar to have both your children named. But I obviously love that you can nickname a Charlotte either Charley or Lottie.

    Emmy

    Cute. Simple. Enough said.

    Genevieve 

    This was my great-grandma’s name. I never met her, but get told all the time that I remind people of her. I think it’s a beautiful name and also kind of love the idea of nicknaming a girl Evie.

    I feel like this should be “Nicknames I Love”, but there is my list. Comment below if your child is named one of the names above or you plan on using the name for your upcoming child.

     

     

     

     

     

    Food

    The Best Dang Seafood Chowder

    I LOVE seafood. I was definitely made to live somewhere like Maine, Seattle, or New Orleans because of how much I LOVE seafood. But, no, I live in the Midwest where good seafood is sometimes hard to come by. I didn’t let that stop me make this seafood chowder though, and in my opinion the best dang seafood chowder ever.

    It’s also very hard to find cheap seafood in the Midwest, but Aldi is my best friend when they have lobster tails in their freezer section. My dad usually gets us cases of shrimp, from Cysco and it’s very good. But, as far as the rest of the seafood in our area it’s a crap shoot.

    This recipe can be tailored to any type of seafood you have readily available to you. You can substitute shrimp for any of the other ingredients. I would just recommend using meaty types of white fish.

    I was so proud of how this turned out. It has a bit of a zip to it. It’s hearty, creamy, and just downright delicious. If you love seafood, like I do, I highly recommend this recipe!

    Seafood Chowder

    Prep Time 20 minutes
    Cook Time 40 minutes
    Total Time 1 hour

    Ingredients

    • 2 stalks celery finely chopped
    • 1/2 onion finely chopped
    • 1 large leek (white part only) finely chopped
    • 1-2 Russet potatoes finely diced
    • 1 red bell pepper finely chopped
    • 3 cloves garlic minced
    • 4 TBSP butter
    • 1 TBSP smoked paprika
    • 1/2 TBSP dried basil
    • 1/2 TBSP dried oregano
    • 1/2 TBSP celery salt
    • 1 TBSP Tony Charchere's Creole Seasoning
    • 1-2 tsp Valentina's hot sauce or more if desired
    • 3 sprigs thyme
    • 4-6 C seafood stock or enough to cover
    • 1-2 C water if needed
    • salt & pepper to taste
    • 8 oz lump crab
    • 1/2 lb baby scallops
    • 1/2 lb white fish chopped
    • 1 4-6 oz lobster tail chopped
    • 6 oz crawfish tail meat
    • 1 C heavy cream
    • fresh parsley for garnish

    Instructions

    1. In a large stock pot melt butter.

    2. Once butter is melted, add celery, onion, leek, red pepper, and garlic. Saute until soft and fragrant. Add in seasonings, Valentina's, and thyme and saute again for 1-2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

    3. Add potatoes, stir well. Add enough seafood stock to completely cover ingredients or about 4 cups. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 15 minutes, covered. Or until potatoes are tender. 

    4. Add in all seafood and cover with additional liquid (stock or water) if needed. Bring to a boil again and simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes. 

    5. Stir in cream and warm through. Add additional seasonings if needed. 

    6. Pour into bowls and garnish with fresh parsley, and serve

    Motherhood

    Why We Are Only Having Two Kids

    Before, I even had kids or even knew Devin I always knew I only wanted to have two kids. I always pictured having a boy and girl, just like my mom. Of course that wasn’t the case and we are blessed with two perfect beautiful girls. When Devin and I did meet  and got engaged and the topic of kids came up, we were in agreement we both wanted two kids (Devin’s mom also had a boy and a girl). Even after having both our girls, and not getting our boy this is why we are only having two kids:

    Pregnancy

    Even though at times I miss being pregnant, rare and fleeting moments. I was not one of those people who necessarily enjoyed being pregnant. I loved my bump and feeling the babies move, but other than that, pregnancy was not my friend. I had horrible morning sickness that lasted way past the first trimester and still got bouts of it till the very end of my pregnancy. I had a horrible metallic taste, where absolutely nothing tasted good. This too lasted the whole entire pregnancy. Towards the end, I was so miserable, constantly thinking I was going into early labor. I feel horrible for my poor cousin, who I texted every night asking if she experienced the weird symptom I had that night. My first pregnancy I swelled the size of a balloon before and after delivery, my legs were literal tree stumps. I’m honestly blanking on about a billion different symptoms I had, not sure if it was because there were too many to count or I am trying to block them out! Lastly, not to sound completely vain because it honestly doesn’t matter, but, pregnancy wrecked my body. I did not bounce back. So much extra fat, skin, and my stomach looks like a tiger with the amount of stretch marks I got.

    Financial 

    For us two kids is perfect. We live in a three bedroom house, perfect for us and our two girls. We have a small SUV, again perfect for our TWO children. Adding a third child would be a huge financial ongoing. We would have to buy a new house, we could fit three kids in our bedrooms, because the girls could share a room. But the living space is way too small for three kids. There is no way we could comfortably fit three kids in our car, so we would have to purchase either a van or a third-row SUV, which is not cheap.  I think Devin would die from stress having more medical bills from a third c-section. Just all that alone would cost us around $200,000 that we don’t have. Not to mention, just the living costs of a third child would be too much for us.



    My Mental Stability 

    I already have days I feel like I am losing it with two kids. After about four straight days of constant screaming, I found out that Charley has a dairy intolerance, but the days before finding that out could drive any sane person insane. Feeling so completely helpless while your child screams for six hours straight, all while your other child is dumping out bath water, purposely trying to trip you while you are trying to soothe your screaming child, or finding 50 toys in a broken diaper genie after your child pinched her finger trying to put more in it. I already feel completely outnumbered some days, so adding another one just doesn’t seem like a smart idea to me. I know my limits and if I want to be a good mother, two is my limit.

    I will miss going through milestones after Charley hits them. I’ll miss the newborn stage, the first time they crawl, the first steps, the silly toddler moments. Heck, I’ll even miss pumping. A small part of me will be sad I never had a boy. But, both Devin and I feel our puzzle is complete UNLESS I can talk Devin into getting a dog. But I feel like that’s about the same percentage of having a third child.

    Motherhood

    Potty Training

    Potty training as been one of the hardest things so far about parenting. Take a very stubborn, set in her ways toddler and a mom who caves in and it’s a recipe for disaster. We started potty training Scarlett at two. She would do so well at first. But after about a week, she would refuse to even go near the potty. We used every trick in the book. We used rewards like treats and toys to bribery like “if you go potty we will go to Taco Bell”. We did this on and off for probably close to 6 months with no success.

    Both my brother and I were potty trained by my grandma. She lived in the St. Louis area at the time so my brother and me would stay for a couple weeks in the summer. She got us both potty trained within that timeframe. She was going to be staying with us for a week after we had Charley so we decided to see if my grandma would have any luck. My grandma bought her an actual mini toilet and took her to pick out her own treats. She was so excited when she came home and loved her new potty. But, of course, when it actually came to using it she refused. My grandma tried all her tricks, but it was getting to the point that Scarlett was getting slightly traumatized and I didn’t want Scarlett to associate my grandma with something negative, so we decided to quit.

    I truly believe that you can’t rush potty training and that they will only be trained when that child is ready. I also believe that my child specifically has always gone to the beat of her own drum, so it was just something we had to be patient with. She wasn’t even close to giving signs she was ready. The only thing she had now begun to do was actually tell us when she was peeing in her diaper. But every time we asked her to use the potty, she would almost have a complete meltdown. She still had full diapers after waking in the morning, she didn’t care if her diaper was wet at all, and she would tell us if she pooped, but it wasn’t dire that we change her. Scarlett has never necessarily been behind, but she just took her time accomplishing milestones. She didn’t walk till she was around 14 months and I fully believe she was capable, she just liked being carried.

    After my grandma left, we didn’t really press the issue. We just let Scarlett be Scarlett. We had a lot of change recently happen and she was handling being a big sister and not getting all the attention so well, we didn’t want to risk it. A couple weeks later, we were hanging out in our living room when Scarlett ran back to her room and said she had to poop. I asked Devin to follow her and see if he could get her to use the potty. He actually did get her to sit on the potty, which was a new thing. She didn’t go, but Devin ended up putting underwear on her and told her if she had to go to tell us. Fifteen minutes later she runs back to her room and tell us she had to use the potty. She did it! We were so excited! Since then we have been off to the races, she has only had two pee accidents in her underwear in the four weeks she’s been working on it. She had one poop accident, which was a little traumatizing for her, since she still hasn’t gone poop in the potty and usually comes out asking for a diaper to be put on so she can poop, which I think is so smart she knows to do that.

    She’s not 100% potty trained yet, but leave it to my child to pretty much train herself. She even goes now without even telling us. My number one tip is to just be patient. I felt a lot of pressure from others about Scarlett being potty trained, but you really can’t rush it. Some kids may benefit from being forced to do it, but a kid like Scarlett, it had to be a natural thing. Kids are so much smarter than we think and I think my kid is pretty dang smart.

    I highly recommend the…

    Summer Infant Potty

    Scarlett is still scared of the big toilet, but she loves her little potty. It’s so realistic that I hope it will help transition her to the big potty. She loves flushing her potty and putting her “toilet paper” in it just like mama does.

     

     

    *some links are affiliate

    Motherhood

    The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Breastfeeding

    I knew breastfeeding was going to be a huge commitment, but I don’t think I was truly prepared for how big of a commitment it really is. I already wrote about my experience with breastfeeding with my first daughter that you can find hereIf you read that post then you know that I was unable to breastfeed Scarlett. It was my goal to be able to breastfeed Charley. I’ve only been at it for six weeks, but it already feels like a lifetime. This will be all about the good, the bad, and the ugly of my breastfeeding journey so far.

    Charley’s delivery was so much easier than Scarlett’s and I think that was a huge positive to having my colostrum and supply come in. She latched right away and we were off. I needed a lot of help from nurses to get proper latches, but as far as I knew she was getting colostrum and doing okay, which was completely the opposite case for Scarlett. When we got home from the hospital it became very difficult for me. I was a new mom when it came to breastfeeding and I struggled immensely with getting Charley to latch, after two days my nips were already black and blue and I had a full on open wounds on both of them. It started off that I was only able to nurse on my right side and pump on my left, and when the left side healed I had to switch because my right side had a deep wound the size of a kidney bean. I had to visit the hospital multiple times to get help from our lactation specialist.

    I finally felt like we were getting the hang of it after getting help. We were exclusively nursing on the left side and her latches were so good. It wasn’t until we had a weigh-in for Charley that I became completely depressed. She was born at 7 lbs. 3 oz. and she left the hospital at 6 lbs. 9 oz. At her weigh in she had lost another 3 ounces weighing in at 6 lbs. 6 oz. I told the pediatrician what we were going through and she wasn’t worried that she had lost that much weight. She scheduled another weigh-in for the next week when we came up with a better game plan. This is when I broke down completely. I had felt like I was constantly feeding that there was no way she didn’t gain all her weight back, but she only got back up to 6 lbs. 9 oz. After finding that out my pediatrician thought I didn’t have fat content to my milk so she made the decision it was time to supplement. After finding this out, when I got home I decided to pump my left side and see how many ounces I got. I didn’t even pump a half of an ounce out. So I called the lactation specialist and talked to her about what she thought was going on. She came up with the conclusion that with my breast reduction and having scar tissue, Charley is unable to pull out milk efficiently, so it killed my supply because my body didn’t think it had to make that much.

    With all this happening, my right side was in a lot of pain. The open wound I had was not healing and every time I pumped, I had a strong pulling in my back. One morning I woke up with aches and pains, I thought it was the flu, because we had a couple family members who had just had it. Later that night, I was up all night with the most intense flu-like symptoms, on and off fevers, chills and cold sweats. I was crying all night and was in so much pain, at one point I thought of mastitis and looked up the symptoms. I had pretty much all of the symptoms listed so I knew it was no longer the flu, but mastitis. Devin wakes up super early for work, so instead of waking him, I sent him a text telling him I had mastitis and I knew I was going to be unable to physically take care of our children because of lack of sleep and how I felt and if he could come home ASAP from work that would be great. I woke up and felt horrible. Before the girls both woke I tried to shower and legitimately almost passed out in the shower. I called Devin and he came home immediately to take me to the doctor. It was confirmed that I had mastitis, followed by the worst 48 hours I have ever experienced.

    I recovered from that in a little under a week later and now I have just been working on getting my supply back and healing my open wound (which BTDUBS is still not healed). We were supplementing Charley on formula for about a week and a half when I noticed she started to become colicky. So three days before her next weigh in I decided to stop the formula and begin feeding her from my pumped stash of milk. I felt comfortable stopping the formula, because I knew exactly how much milk she was getting. Within a day she stopped being colicky and at her next weigh-in (her monthly appointment) she had jumped completely over her birthweight and weighed in at 8 lbs. 2 oz. I almost cried. I had put so much work into getting her to a healthy weight. I wanted to quit breastfeeding so many times, but I persevered through it all. I have never worked harder at anything in my whole entire life.

    Now that she is at a healthy weight, my pediatrician told me I could stop formula since I had already done so and she was at a good weight. I have built my supply back up to be able to pump a total of 4 ounces per pump. I have a good stash in both the fridge and freezer so I am prepared to keep going. After some trials, I spoke with the lactation specialist again and we figured out Charley really could not pull enough milk out so I decided to stop actually breastfeeding and pump exclusively. I still put her to my breast every once in awhile, mostly to pacify. Pumping is so much work and I am on such a schedule.

    So why do this? I feel like most people would quit at this point. I honestly thought I would. But for one thing I have come this far and went through so much I am not stopping now. I actually thoroughly enjoyed breastfeeding when I was able to do it, even with bad latches. I felt so bonded with Charley. I was the only person who could feed her and it just felt so special to me. It’s so beneficial to her as well. It’s also beneficial to our wallet. But honestly, I don’t know if that’s 100% the case. I have bought SO MANY accessories to help make pumping easier on me that it has to equal a good chuck of what formula costs. Now that I am pumping exclusively, I have some positives and negatives. I have to keep on a schedule with it, pumping every 2-3 hours, which sucks. I bought a car adapter and cooler so I can actually leave my house. I always feel engorged, which I feel like actual breastfeeding mamas eventually get regulated and don’t feel uncomfortable 24/7, but I do. But the competitive side of me loves it. I always try to out-pump my last pump and break my record. I also love hearing Scarlett say “mama pumpin’ nipples” all the time.

    No matter how long I keep this going I am proud of myself and when my supply does eventually die, I won’t be upset. In the end fed is best, so as long as my girl is healthy I don’t care how she gets her food, especially after my journey. I know in my heart I have done everything to keep this going for as long as possible and I am so incredibly happy for the time I got.

    Things that did or didn’t help my supply:

    Helped:

    • pumping regularly
    • Fenugreek
    • Body Armor sports drink (I am not 100% sure this helped, but I seemed to always get good pumps after drinking them)
    • Pink Drink from Starbucks (again not 100% sure about this one)
    • water, water, water
    • hand expressing (this one is huge, I can get another ounce out by just hand expressing)

    Didn’t Help

    • “lactation foods” such as; oatmeal, lactation cookies, flax seeds, chia seeds, etc… (I tried all the foods supposedly great for lactation and never noticed a jump in supply)

     

    *photo credit: Kaitlyn B Photography

    Motherhood

    My Top Newborn Essentials

    I am working on a huge update to explain my absence, but in the meantime I thought I would make my list for my top newborn essentials. These are all thing I have found useful to us in taking care of our newborn.

    I don’t use the diapers, but I love the wipes. I love that they mostly consist of water and I feel really clean up messes made in diapers. I also use them to clean Scarlett’s peanut butter face and dirty hands after eating.

    So when I first bought storage bags, I bought the Kiinde brand because I loved the style and I bought an extension to pump directly into the bag. I loved the ease, but I found that the way the milk sat in the bag didn’t give me an accurate reading of the amount I pumped. I thought I was pumping 4-5 oz when in reality I was only pumping 2-3. The Medela brand wasn’t as accurate either. I have found the Lansinoh brand to be the most accurate. I pump in my bottles, so I know the ounces beforehand and write it on the bag. But, it’s still nice to have an accurate measurement shown.

    This isn’t really for baby, but more for me. I am currently exclusively pumping (which I will explain in my update post). With pumping so much, it can be just as painful if I were breastfeeding. I chafe and get blister. Coating coconut oil on my flanges was recommended to me by our hospital’s lactation specialist and I use it ever pump. I still get the occasional blister, but it has reduced both the appearance of them and chaffing significantly.

    I am absolutely in love with our Copper & Pearl Swaddle. It’s so stinking soft, stretchy, and super versatile. We use it for both a swaddle and a blanket so her carseat.

    This was a big ticket item that my mom purchased for us, but I am so happy she did. Charley is a very cuddly baby and sometimes needs the comfort of her mama or daddy to sleep, but every other time she is in her bassinet. I love that she is right next to me at my bed’s height. It’s so easy to roll over and either soothe her, give her the pacifier she spit out, or grab her out for middle of the night feedings.

    • Head Turbans

    This isn’t particularly a necessity, but they are so gosh darn cute. I mean look at my sweet sleeping babe wearing her’s we got from the Etsy shop Stella Jane & Co. It’s so soft and the perfect color for fall.

    I am so excited for this purchase. When we leave the house, depending on where we are going, I have to either bring my pump or only stay away from my house for a 3-4 hour window so I don’t become engorged and can pump. I bought a car adapter for my pump and now don’t have a time constraint, and it’s more private than bringing my pump inside and everyone know I am pumping.

    Going with my car adapter, if we are on a long car ride, I have a cooler for my breastmilk again giving us no time constraint to get my milk in the fridge. The cooler pack it comes with stays cold for eight hours. It also came with four extra storage bottles for pumping.

     

    *products are all linked. Some link’s are affiliated.