Abraham's gold

Friday, April 13, 2018

Those of you who know my husband know that Zack is obsessed with giving blood. He donates as often as he can and has a goal of donating in every U.S. state. So far, he's made it to twelve states. I have used my weight as an excuse to avoid giving blood (which doesn't work anymore post baby!). Instead, I donate my hair to women who have cancer, through Beautiful Lengths. 

When we lost Abraham, we inquired about donating his organs. We weren't able to, as we found out later, but that conversation lead to one of my care providers mentioning that I could donate my milk. Did you know that when your baby dies, your milk still comes in? I did, but many people don't know that. In the next couple of days, I searched online for information about lactation after loss, and all I found was a few lines about how to stop milk production. 

***If you're not a loss mom looking for pumping tips, you should skip the next section. I share this detailed information because I couldn't find it, and it's confusing when you don't have a baby waking you up to feed him!***

I had a Medela Pump in Style Advanced (PISA) and a Medela Harmony set (manual pump), thanks to my sister in law, but I wasn't fully prepared to exclusively pump. I was planning on breastfeeding and maybe once in a while saving one bottle's worth so that I could have someone else watch the baby while I worked out. 

I chatted with my doula group's lactation consultant, and she helped me figure out what other supplies to buy to go with the PISA. Then, she came to see me. She was incredibly helpful right when I needed it, on the day my milk came in. We worked out a pumping schedule, pump set up, and storage plan. (If you're in the Raleigh/Durham area and need an LC, email me for her info!) Another helpful resource for me was a Facebook group for exclusively pumping moms. My sister in law brought me sunflower lecithin, which I took once every day, and twice a day when I felt like I was getting more clogs. She also made me labels to fill out and stick on bags of milk. 

I started out pumping seven times a day, including one middle of the night pump. Each session I did ten minutes per side or fifteen to twenty minutes if both sides at once. Sleep was a priority for me and my healing, so at the encouragement of my support people, I dropped the middle of the night pump as quickly as I could, within a week. I continued pumping six to seven times a day for a few weeks. 

Then, I got thrush. Did you know you can get thrush when you're not feeding an actual baby? I sure didn't. And yes, I was taking probiotics! Ugh! Thrush felt like pins and needles and added more time to my routine with sanitizing the pump parts each session, washing my skin with 1:2 apple cider vinegar:water, air drying, and washing all of my towels and nursing pads in hot water after each use. I wish I could say I cured it with a low sugar diet, probiotics, and vinegar, but it took two rounds of antibiotics and eventually APNO to fix it. I'm convinced this was a spiritual attack. My supply decreased when I got thrush, and when it didn't get any better, I decided to start weaning. 

I tried quickly weaning by going as long as I could without pumping, no hot water or heating pads on my chest, and taking Benadryl. It ended with me crying in pain and a clog that felt about an inch wide, running from my collar bone down (maybe a slight exaggeration). I gave in, pumped, and decided to make a plan to slowly wean. It was painful to pump with thrush, but not nearly that painful. 

To wean, I cut out one pump session every three days. I shortened the two sessions I'd be combining in between those days when I cut a session. I used cold cabbage leaves once a day. Once I got down to three sessions a day, I dried up quickly. 

I knew from reading in the pumping group that my hormones would go crazy when I weaned, and that was absolutely true! I felt just like I had in early pregnancy--so so so hungry, nauseated, cramps, and major irritation. It only lasted a day or two, and I'd be glad to give you more info on how I dealt with that via email.

I want to add a note in here that if you're a loss mom, and you just want your milk to go away, by all means put on some cold cabbage leaves, avoid heat and stimulation, take some Sudafed, and dry up (there are a lot more resources online to help you do that). THAT IS OKAY. This is the route I chose because it felt best to me, but it's not for everyone. I decided at the very beginning, at the suggestion of my support people, that I would stop pumping if it became stressful, and that's what I did. I knew I'd be at home healing for a while anyway, and I had a pump anyway, and the milk was coming anyway, so I may as well pump. I had watched my sisters in law pump, so to me it was completely normal. It may be weird to you, and you may not want to do it. Again, THAT IS OKAY. You have already done all you could for your baby. I was fortunate enough to have incredibly supportive family, friends, and care providers around me that made all the difference. 

***You can all rejoin me now ;)***

I entertained several ideas of where to donate my milk, and I really wanted to know the people I donated to. I'm fortunate to live near the Wake Med Mother's Milk Bank, which was an option I was open to if I didn't know anyone in need. There are also Facebook pages and groups like Triangle Milk Share and Human Milk 4 Human Babies that connect donors and babies in need. A friend was talking about donor milk for adoption, and that's when I knew the purpose for my milk! 

A family from our church in Georgia is in the process of adopting a newborn, so I reached out, and they said they wanted my milk! I was already praying for them and their baby, and now I'm even more invested. Please join me in praying for the Graves family. 

My pal Sarah came to visit this week, and she took my milk with her back to Georgia. I was a little sad to see it go, but I'm excited for it to serve its purpose. I pray that Baby Graves will have a great, well fed start to life, and that one day I'll get to meet him or her. 

Abraham gets to follow in our footsteps and donate his liquid gold to others. This is such an encouragement to me in the valley of recovery and missing my son. My body is amazing! I love comparing the color in my high fat early milk to later milk, seeing how I made what a baby needed at different times. I can help others, and as a fellow loss mom said to me recently, find that same silver lining she did by donating milk. 

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 
Psalm 139:14 

holding loosely

Saturday, March 10, 2018

That precious hand ...

I prayed that I would hold it loosely. 

So many times, I thought about the newborn stage with anxiety over MY baby. Then I'd hear the voice of the Holy Spirit: no no no. He's not MY baby. He is God's baby, entrusted to me for a time to steward well. I prayed that I wouldn't NEED him or try to use him to meet my needs. Just like marriage is such a struggle when I look to Zack to meet my needs, motherhood wouldn't have gone well if I had looked to my son to meet my needs. That wasn't Abraham's role, either. I also prayed that he would grow up to be a man, not a mama's boy. I will never understand why he was taken from me, but he was never really mine to begin with. God answered my most frequent prayer, swiftly--my son will spend eternity with Him in Heaven. 

[ONLY] Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 
Hebrews 13:8 

I am most definitely grieving, and I'd give anything to be celebrating my son's first month with us today instead of remembering his first and last day. Still, I know God is good, and I trust Him. 

first anniversary trip

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Some days I feel overwhelmingly grateful for my life and all of the opportunities that Zack and I have! We took a few days to venture up north to celebrate our first anniversary, and despite heading out with camping gear and our passports, the trip was even more of an adventure than I expected. 

We explored Niagara Falls from every angle (on the Canadian side). We walked all around, went behind the falls, and rode a boat to the falls. I hadn't been there since I was six years old, and this time I feel like I said "this is amazing!" a hundred times. It was definitely worth seeing, and spending about 24 hours there was perfect! 

This squirrel was obviously friendly to the tourists, so we fed it banana and tried to pet it. 

We rode the Hornblower and got close enough to Horseshoe Falls to get soaked. 

A short drive away is a small town without the big city touristy feel. Zack had eaten at this cafe in the winter, so we stopped in for lunch before heading to the airport. 

Let's be real: most of our trip was spent like this, in an airplane. He tolerates selfies sometimes. 

Before heading to our next stop, we explored Niagara Falls from the VERY BEST angle, as we flew right over!!! 

We considered several places and made a last minute decision to go to Basin Harbor, Vermont. This grass strip and the nearby resort were an absolute dream. 

We enjoyed a sunset over Lake Champlain. 

We may have almost crashed a wedding for this shot. We enjoyed a little time by the water that evening and the next morning. There was a dog festival going on so no shortage of dog/people watching. 

The only place we'd planned to stay was Block Island, on the third night of our trip. 

I really enjoyed the charm of the bed and breakfast where we stayed, with gardens and a view of the salt ponds and ocean. 

Our second day on Block Island, we rented a scooter to see more of the island. 

Zack said that if you think warm thoughts, Block Island has the feel of a tropical island. The landscape reminded me of the Bahamas, and the temperatures reminded me of December in the Bahamas. It was a welcome break from the sweltering heat at home! 

We walked the beaches to the North Lighthouse, then we had to see the South Lighthouse, too! 

The Mohegan Bluffs were gorgeous! I am so glad we decided to see the south end. It really wasn't as bad of a climb as the information online led me to believe. 

I would totally live in leggings year round if I lived in Rhode Island! It was COLD (for summer)! I'm so thankful that I packed leggings. 

We enjoyed breakfast overlooking the salt ponds before heading out. 

We stopped in Fredericksburg to avoid some weather and have lunch. This just so happens to be where AOPA's offices are located ;) and the coolest thing is they give tours! We enjoyed seeing where the people work to support AOPA members. Lunch was Black Hog BBQ & Bar, and it was unexpectedly delicious! 

We had a nice trip, and I got to see a lot of new-to-me places! It is kind of unreal to think that we have been married for one whole YEAR. It seems like last week and like ten years at the same time. I am thankful for the chance to get away and celebrate! 

thankful Thursday: my LuLaRoe business

Thursday, June 2, 2016

I usually look "hard" for my LuLaRoe photos, but once in a while, you can see a smile creep up in those moments when I realize that playing dress up is my JOB. I am so thankful for 
the opportunity to own a business. Not everyone can start something like this. My family and friends have been incredibly supportive by shopping with me, assisting me with all kinds of tasks, and offering words of encouragement. 

I never, ever thought I would be working from home. I have a master's degree, and I had a great career in that field before I moved to Georgia. My life has taken a different path, and I am so thankful that I discovered LuLaRoe and considered starting my own mobile boutique. 

Working whenever I want to, wherever I want to is perfect for our crazy life. I can go and do anywhere, anytime with my husband. I can book pop-ups and do online sales when Zack is at work; I can visit family in North Carolina while doing pop-ups for people there; I can take off two weeks to travel with Zack if I'd like to. Not only is my schedule 100% flexible, but when I do work, I LOVE what I do! 

I was absolutely a LuLaRoe addict before I became a consultant. These clothes are amazing! I looked professional and felt comfortable in my Irma tunics and maxi skirts, and I could easily play on the floor with my students. Now, I wear maxi skirts, Amelia dresses, and Cassie skirts to church, Cassies and Julias on dates, Cassies and classics, Julias, or leggings and Irmas for running errands. Can you tell that my favorite is the Cassie skirt?! I discovered LuLaRoe at the perfect time in my career and personal life. I had been dressing up way more than my coworkers, but I still had a desire to look professional and needed to be a bit more comfortable. I felt like the play clothes in my closet were starting to look kind of young for me, and I was about to make the transition from single twenty-something to stay at home wife pushing thirty (who knew?! not me). 

Now, I get to meet new people in my (still kind of) new city and share awesome clothes with them. I get to style outfits for people!!! I get to reconnect with acquaintances online and in person and help them find clothes they love. I am so thankful for this opportunity! 

Now, for the photos. This is a sampling of what I post every day--these particular photos show how I have integrated my Hand Me Down Style with LuLaRoe items. Of course, I have my own unique spin on styling LLR! 

I get this from my mom! We have so much fun together when I do pop-ups in North Carolina and she gets to tag along. I wish I had her helping me all the time!! 

Follow along with my daily styling posts on Instagram @lularoe.kathrynschmidt and on Facebook via my page LuLaRoe Kathryn Schmidt and my shopping group (where I usually post a little more in-depth about each day's outfit and also post items like these for sale during flash shopping opportunities once-twice per month). 

Contact me to have my mobile boutique come to your house! lularoe.kathrynschmidt@gmail.com

I continue to post all kinds of snaps of my life on my personal Instagram @kathrynschmidt

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