I think what I want most right now is to be able to spend my days pumping milk, doing Chaya’s exercises, staring into her mystifying eyes, and being enchanted by her beautiful smile.
I’ve been thinking a lot about priorities and the content reminder that I am not superwoman, and can’t do it all. Which sucks, because I like being superwoman and doing it all. And I tell myself constantly that I CAN. That others may have failed, but I can succeed.
My ideal scenario is not even remotely realistic of course. I have other commitments, and people to feed. Myself included. I suck at feeding myself the most of anyone. And that’s a pretty big deal considering Chaya can’t breastfeed.
Dear Chaya, this has been one of the longest months of my life, and this last week especially feels longer than nearly your entire life before this. We finally have some answers about your slow / non existent weight gain, which is great to have a light at the end of the tunnel. But it means we have a lot of work ahead of us. More on that later.
CC, you love to smile and watch people. You love facing out and watching the world, but also love love love being wrapped up tight. You still love your dummy, especially when your tummy is causing you pain. And even when it’s not!
You’ve started getting good at tummy time. Not your favourite thing, but you tolerate it for 5 minutes or so. You’ve started talking a LOT, and sometimes when there’s music playing it sounds like you sing!
You love to chew on everything at the moment. My fingers are a favourite, but also your own fingers, and handfuls of your clothes. Chewing on things at the back of your mouth is one of your exercises, so this has been a fortuitous circumstance.
We got in to see the lactation consultant on the 15th and she discovered you have low muscle tone in your mouth which is why you tire quickly at the breast, and aren’t efficient at sucking. You also have a high and narrow pallet so when you are making progress breastfeeding your tongue isn’t really pushing the breast up to the roof of your mouth to extract the milk. Also, an overbite which means your tongue is back further in your head making it difficult to really push milk from the breast even if you could get it up there, and had the muscle to do it for very long.
Of course, the food allergies have still played a part in it, but now we realise that affected your irritability, and weird stools more than your growth. I am still off a long list of foods, but slowly adding back in the least likely things like coconut and almonds. I did a dairy challenge last week and boy oh boy did I regret it. Definitely not coping with the dairy my dear!
So still on feeding, you are able to breastfeed lying down when you first wake in the night at about 3am (yes, this is your FIRST wake – I would not be able to do any of the following things if you weren’t blessing me with a full night’s sleep each night!). Sometimes you will have your second feed at about 6am (still asleep) also breastfeeding lying down. You wake up so happy though, that it’s not always necessary to feed you straight away. During the day I am using a Madela SNS (Supplemental Nursing System) which is a container of milk or formula (though it needs to be at least 3/5 breastmilk to flow properly) which I put up on my shoulder, and small thin tubes come out of it. I tape one to my breast and then as you breastfeed you get the milk from the tube as well as from the breast if you can manage it. Doing it this way helps you exercise those muscles to help with your low muscle tone, and also helps keep my supply up, as my body doesn’t respond anywhere near as well to the pump as it does to a baby’s mouth! If for some reason we can’t feed this way (sometimes you are too tired, and you can’t manage it, or sometimes we’re out and I don’t want to do it in public yet) you have a bottle.
At the moment feeding you is fairly all consuming. Before we started this I would try and breastfeed you (5-10 minutes of trying), then bottle feed you (10 – 15 minutes), then burp you and put you to sleep or hope you’re happy to lie down (20 minutes), then pump milk (45-60 minute). So that’s an hour and a half approximately, and we have to do that every 3 hours. So yeah, it’s a bit of a time suck. This is why sometimes I just can’t pump, and you have full bottles of formula.
The general question I get asked at this stage is why I am still persisting with breastfeeding even when things are so hard and tiresome. The truth is, while I still have milk in breasts I feel the need to give it to you. Especially with your allergies it’s the best thing for you, and I do have hope that you will be able to breastfeed normally eventually. Your big sister breastfed for nearly 3 years, so if we had a breastfeeding relationship that long, this is only just the start. 🙂
One day when you’re old enough to read this I hope you see the I am your Imma, and it is my greatest privilege that Hashem has allowed me to do this for you. I write it all down because I think one day when you are a mother (please G-D!), you can see what you were like, and it might help you.
You love to smile, cuddle and be wrapped up tight. You’re completely different to your siblings in so many ways. Unique. Fourth time around and apparently there’s still plenty for me to learn as a mother, a co-parent, and human being. Hashem is teaching me so much through you, and even when it’s so hard I break, I still pick myself up, look into your eyes and smile because I love you. You are a calm and peaceful baby and adored by all who meet you, and especially those of us lucky enough to live with you. You’re sunshine CC.
This month you have gained some weight! Baruch HaShem! You are gaining weight nicely now that you are on a special allergy formula – Novalac. At the time of your 2 month birthday this formula accounts for about 75% of your feeds. You have some pretty hard core nipple confusion and preference for the bottle, which has contributed to this high percentage of formula. Bottle feeding a baby is a very new experience for me, and there are some benefits I suppose (not least the fact that you’re gaining weight!), but I miss breastfeeding, and really feel strongly that because of your allergies breastmilk is the best thing for you (once the allergens are removed). The main ingredient in this formula is glucose syrup followed by various vegetable oils, so it’s not exactly the most nutritious stuff. Though certainly better than nothing!
This month you more or less stopped breastfeeding. I still offer you the breast regularly, before every feed, and if you’re fussy. But you rarely take it. Sometimes you put it in your mouth, and just don’t seem to suck, and other times you fuss and won’t even close your mouth to latch. We’re seeing a LC in January (Bli Neder) to try and get this going again. I am expressing at most feeds, so my supply is still… existing, but not great. I had a hospital trip, and some general illness this month which has left my supply lacking by the end of the month. I am so so hopeful that we can pick up breastfeeding again soon!
On the 5th of December, at exactly 6 weeks I weighed you once again after giving you 150mL of top up (either formal or EBM) a day on top of breastfeeds for a week. And guess what?! You gained! I took you off the scales and you gave me your first smile! It was big, and wonderful and I felt like we were connected, and you could feel my joy and relief that for the first time in your life you’d gained weight!
Since then you’ve been showering everyone with beautiful big smiles, and it is just wonderful. Your siblings love to try and make you smile!
We have been continuing with your osteo appointments, but stopped mid way through this month. The Osteo has done all she can for now, and I’m focusing on just fattening you up, and getting you back on the breast. We can re-visit these appointments later.
The paediatrician referred us to an immunologist, but we can’t get in to see him until June! It will be helpful to get your tested before we put you on too many solids, but it doesn’t really help me figure out what foods you’re currently allergic or intolerant to.
We got the stool samples back and it showed you definitely have a cow’s milk allergy. But it can’t tell us about any other foods. At the moment I am off the following foods (some are just for my own personal intolerances, and some are for you!): All dairy, soy, eggs, wheat and gluten, almonds, peanuts, and coconut. I still have macadamia milk occasionally. By now they should all be almost completely out of our systems. I’m very strict with these.
You are currently celebrating your first Chanukah, which is pretty special! You also had your first visitors (other than family) – Ada & Harvey came to see you, as well as Jaelle and Ori. You’re a bit… clingy (especially in the evenings), but you have given Rachel quite a few cuddles, as they visit us every other week at the moment (yay!).
Pa has also been getting some lovely long sleeping cuddles from you in the day, as has Grandma, who is our lifesaver – coming down to help out and entertain your sister, pick up your brothers from school (it’s holidays now, yay!), and look after you while I got to my Chiro appointments.
Even with all these health problems, and feeding problems and clingy-ness, I think it’s fair to say that you’re pretty chill, and pretty wonderful! You are like an open book – easy to read and a clear communicator. Everyone loves you, and I get such nachas when I leave you on the mat and your brothers and sisters entertain you for a while. The kids at school adore you, as do their parents, and I am so immensely proud of you and love showing you off.
I love you sweet Chaya. I’m so glad we called you “life” – may you have it till 120, and may the one who gave you life, Hashem, also give you healing.
2019 – The year of baby. In Feb (maybe?!) I found out I was pregnant with CC, then we found out we were having another girl, and then in October we got to meet that sweet babe in a calm and powerful home birth! What a delight! I feel like I missed most of the pregnancy due to other major events happening, and even though I don’t think it could have happened any other way, I kinda wish it had, because I love being pregnant (was absolutely not saying this in the first or last few weeks of the pregnancy!!)
Becoming a family of 6 feels so surreal, and so right. She was always destined to be here with us, and I’m so grateful for my family.
2019 – The year of stress. Lots of work changes for Luke, a hectic time converting to Judaism, and then finishing it all off with a stressful 7 weeks of dealing with Chaya’s ongoing health concerns. So yeah, a lot of stress. Hopefully no permanent long term damage to my health!
2019 – The year of growth and change for my big 3. Ahava’s language really blossomed, Eli thrived at school more than we could have possibly anticipated, and Lior also had a great year doing what he loves – learning. Both boys received auspicious principal’s awards (Eli semester 1, Lior semester 2). Outside of school all three biggies made great progress with their swimming and water confidence, and with their Hebrew studies at Cheder.
2019 – The year of Judaism. In June we finished our studies in our conversion program, in September we flew down to Sydney to do our final interview, enter the mikvah, and get married. We have all made major changes to our life and observance this year, and even though we often make mistakes or lack in areas we are always striving to be better and love Hashem always. I’m so proud of the kids for embracing every step of the process without complaint or regret. Even when it involved some pretty significant sacrifices from the boys!
2019 – The year of nourish. My word for 2019 was nourish and even though this year was hard on my brain and my body, I’m actually so thankfully I had this word with me, because it helped keep me on track as best I could! I didn’t keep up with the prompts in the course, but I used my word each week to make sure I was nourishing myself and my health in some way and not letting things get too out of control.
All up I remember 2019 as a year of many many accomplishments. Accomplishments don’t come with effort and sacrifice, so I could very reasonably look back on 2019 as a hard year too, but what’s the point in that?
Finishing the year more grateful than ever for Hashem’s hand in everything we do – guiding us and leading us. For my parents (especially my mum!) for being such huge helpers with adapting to life as a family of 6. For our life – some may look in on it and think we’re not hitting the right goals, but I know we are. I’ve never been more sure that we’re doing everything perfectly in His timing.
This bread is an absolute favourite for both lunch boxes and gifts. Be careful when you make it, because eating it whilst still warm is highly addictive, and you might not have much left!
The method is a little confusing, so if you’re still unsure how to do it then go to my instagram – @taliacarbis and look for the “no knead bread” highlight. I’ve got it all laid out there for you!
3 cups bread flour
1 ⅝ cup water (just over 1 ½ cups)
¼ tsp yeast
1 ¼ tsp salt
Combine all the bread ingredients (flour, yeast, salt and water) into a bowl and mix through with your fingers until combined. There is no need to knead this dough at all or do anything to it once you’ve combined it all! It should be a really rough, shaggy dough.
Cover it with a clean tea towel and leave it for 12-14 hours at room temperature.
When this approximate time is up wet your hands, then take some of the dough and fold it over itself. Do this four times (pretend it’s a square and do each side). Repeat every half an hour till you’ve done it 3 times.
When the dough is ready it should be covered in bubbles and a fair bit bigger than the original size. Flour your bench and put your dough out to rest. Fold it over a few times and cover it with the plastic wrap for 15 minutes.
Coat a tea towel with plenty of flour and place your ball of dough onto it. Fold your tea towel over so it covers the dough. Leave it to rise for 1 hour.
At the same time turn your oven on to 250ºC. Put a cast iron or ceramic pot into the oven (not the lid) and leave it to heat for at least 1/2 an hour. By this time the rising time for your dough should be up!
Carefully take the pot out of the oven and uncover your bread. Use the tea towel to turn your bread into the hot, hot, hot pot. Put the lid on and bake for 30 minutes. Take the lid off and back for another 15 – 30 minutes until the loaf is beautiful and brown.
You are one month old! I’m not exaggerating when I say that you are one of the best things to happen in our family. Your three older siblings absolutely adore you and love you and dote on you. Your daddy and I are totally in love, and thank Hashem every day that you are in our family.
CC, at one month old you have eyes the are clearly a blue ring on the outside and brown on the inside. You are a skinny girl, but we’re trying to fatten you up! You love to stay in the little froggy pose you were in when inside me, and you are easily comforted with a dummy and being held close. You like it when I sway side to side with you wrapped up tightly or holding your hands, and you also like it when we bounce on the fit ball with you.
I have to mention that your first four weeks have been marked with lots of appointments. You see, after your first initial weight loss in week 1, you had failed to gain more than 5 grams by 2 ½ weeks. Now that you’re 4 weeks you’ve gained 70 grams total, and I’m sorry to say, it’s not enough! Everyone is both worried and puzzled by you! We’ve done a blood test (not fun!), stool sample, eliminated dairy, soy, gluten and eggs from my diet and started topping you up with expressed breast milk – 150ml a day on top of your normal breastfeeds. Your poos have been green and mucusy, sometimes frothy, and causing you a bit of pain. This makes the Paed think that you have a food intolerance and so we’re starting with the most likely – dairy.
While you’re not quite the enthusiastic breastfeeder your siblings are, you still enjoy it, and have been getting better at having longer and more meaningful feeds. I’ve taken some herbs to boost my supply, and this coupled with the milk expressing makes us (by us, I mean Daddy, me, your grandparents, my midwives, the hospital, and the private paediatrician!!) think that this isn’t a milk supply problem (you actually gain quite a bit of weight during a feed, but use it all up by the next day! Such a puzzle!). Anyway, all this to say that we are not sure what’s up! In a few weeks I will have been off dairy for a month, and the Paed thinks you’ll be better by then. I really hope it’s true! In the mean time this week I have an insane amount of poop and wee to collect from you to send off for testing!
Chaya, I think about the day you were born. I remember talking to you when you were still inside me. I remember that sweet feeling you gave me, reassuring me that you loved me and were ready to enter the world. You name means “life”, and I am sure, without a doubt, that you are absolutely FULL of life. I know you are a healer, that as you grow up you will get great insight from Hashem on how to heal people with medicines and the like. I know you are part of my healing journey.
You are so beautiful, and sweet and perfect. You make me want to have a hundred more babies! When I hold you I often think “Ooh, baby. I want a baby!” and then I remember that YOU are my baby, and you are all mine, and I do a big happy dance inside and say thanks to Hashem again that you are mine. I am so in love. You are so deserving of all the love and attention and kindness. You are a special baby.
Every day one or all of your siblings ask to hold you. Lior even carried you from one room to another! Ahava is desperate to, but we won’t let her yet. Eli is happy just to sit and hold you. He really adores you. They all do. I love it when I ask one of the boys to sit and hold you or lie next to you and mind you while I do a quick job, and then listen to the sweet nothings they say to you. Just showering you with their sweet words and kind gazes. Ahava loves to give you your bottles when we top you up with expressed breast milk.
Chaya Sefira, you are a precious soul. I look forward to seeing you grow and us continuing to be the great team we were in pregnancy and childbirth, and now through these rough waves. We will always be a great team.
May you live to 120 sweet girl. Hashem has great plans for you, I’m sure of it. xo
Melt butter, honey and sugar in a saucepan unti frothy. Mix into the corn flakes (make sure all the corn flakes are covered, or they won’t stick together.
Put into patty pans, and cook in a moderate oven for 10 minutes.
Keep in an air tight container (do not refrigerate or freeze).