August 04, 2010 09:00 AM

Luna Marie and Constance – Courtesy Constance Marie

Much thanks goes out to Constance Marie, who has been blogging for us for the past few months. We’re sad to see her go!

If you’ve missed any of her past blogs, check them out here.

In her final blog post, the actress — who lives in California with her fiancé, yoga instructor Kent Katich, and their 18-month-old daughter, Luna Marie — shares her breastfeeding journey: the ups, the downs, the joys and the difficulties.

Click below to read Constance’s last blog!

Ladies – OMG! Your stories crack me up and make me cringe at the same time! THANK YOU for sharing! Now I don’t feel so bad knowing that poop catastrophes are just a normal part of life.

On with my blog: Happy Breastfeeding Awareness Month! So in keeping with that topic — let’s talk boobies!

Just so you know, my breastfeeding journey is looooong, so let me apologize in advance for the length of this blog, but since it is my last one I hope you will indulge me.

When I started this whole baby process, I wasn’t totally gung-ho on the whole breastfeeding thing. I had done my research and learned that most doctors say it’s the best choice for babies. Breastfeeding provides much-needed immunity support, cuts down on ear infections, obesity and supposedly helps with higher IQs. It seems more natural and of course, it’s cheaper! I also heard it was good for the mother’s health and helped a woman get her body back faster.

But I had also heard stories about how sometimes a woman’s body just doesn’t make enough milk. How some babies don’t latch on or even worse, they bite. Scabby nipples and I quote, “Such pain that it makes your toes curl!” So I thought, “I will just do my best! I’m tough but who knows, maybe I am not that tough?”

Look who’s no longer afraid of her shadow! – Courtesy Constance Marie

My pre-pregnant self thought the concept of a breastfeeding class was ridiculous! Right? How hard could it be? Ya see a hungry baby, pop the boob in its mouth, done! THE END!

But my pregnant self? Different story! I took every class I could find. I knew I would be scared, hormonal, overwhelmed and everything else that comes with a new baby. A friend once told me that when you are scared, prepare! Because if you are prepared, it makes you feel less afraid — so that’s what I did.

In our breastfeeding class — Yes, Kent went too! I needed back up — learned about taking cues from the baby, like how to know when he/she was hungry, what signs to look for, etc. Honestly, I learned A LOT.

They showed us a video of a baby lying on its mother’s chest immediately after birth. After a few minutes, the baby literally started scooting towards the breast! I kid you not! I was fascinated. This baby could actually smell the milk and was aiming for the nipple! I also learned that that is why our nipples get darker during pregnancy — to provide contrast so the baby can see it! Like a bullseye! Who knew?

Cut to right after Luna Marie was born. They put her on my chest for that wonderful skin on skin time that helps them feel safe and bonded. There she lay so sweet, warm and vulnerable, brand spanking new to the world.

That’s when I decided — I would not immediately put the boob in her mouth. I wanted to see if she would “cue” that she wanted it,  like the baby the video. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t going to wait too long or starve her. Duh! I just wanted to see if she really wanted to nurse.

After a few minutes I was amazed. Ever so slowly, she started to root around, made a little grunting noise and moved towards my boob! (I knew my baby was a genius! Ha!) So I let her do it — I allowed her the time to slowly make her way. When she was pretty close, I helped her the last little bit, but she opened up her little mouth and CHOMP! She latched onto me like a little barnacle!

At that moment I realized nursing was a primal, natural thing that wasn’t so much my decision as it was a natural process. It was Luna Marie’s instinct so I would do my best to honor that.

In new mom amazement, I was watching her nursing sweetly when I smelt it. She had pooped on me! I guess she was mad that I made her walk to the boob. Thus was the beginning of our beautiful relationship!

For me, the whole breastfeeding process didn’t go perfectly — believe me! While still in the hospital my nipples really started to hurt and my milk didn’t come in fast enough. Luna Marie was losing too much weight and I was told I had to supplement with formula. I was really sad — I thought I had failed. I felt I didn’t even get a good chance to try. I wanted what was best for her, and I knew that if she needed more than I could give, she should have formula. My ego had to be put aside.

The next day while walking down the hall, I noticed there were breastpumps lined up outside all the patient doors. What was going on? Then a nurse filled me in — all the other mothers were pumping to get their breast milk to come in faster. Eureka!

Now I had a plan — I would become a pumping machine!

My milk came in faster, but I still had to work at it. I hired a doula (a really smart woman to coach a new mom) who helped me come up with a nursing schedule. I know that most women don’t have to do all that, but as an actor I live with the prospect of having to go back to work immediately if a new project comes up, so I needed the structure — and more milk — stat!

The first few weeks, Luna Marie was a clamping, chomping, non-stop nursing baby! I kid you not, 20-30 minutes on each boob! I had to literally pry her mouth open at the end of every feeding. I started to feel that all I ever did was sit in a chair, nurse her and eat — I felt like the frickin’ dairy queen!

I admit that I got a little depressed, but at her doctor’s visits she was gaining weight like a champion — 7 oz. the first week and 17 oz. the next. I was proud and it gave me a new sense of mommy strength. Other good news — even though I was eating more, my body was getting thinner as she nursed! I actually felt my uterus contract and maybe even my butt too. That made me feel better  — she was gaining, I was losing. PERFECT!

Plus, my boobs were HUGE! I had a holistic boob job! In my business that is never a bad thing.

Luna Marie and Kent – Courtesy Constance Marie

After a few weeks, I was more or less a pro. I had learned to love nursing her. Luna Marie was on a schedule nursing every three hours and mostly sleeping through the night! I could start to get some sleep and get my life back.

And so went our lovely breastfeeding journey. At the three month mark — my original goal — I thought, “Well, so far so good — why not keep going?” By now it was super easy and I could nurse anywhere. Then at six months, all was still good and she looked so cute while nursing, so I just kept going. I kept it up for about nine months without much problem. Then at a doctor’s visit I learned Luna Marie wasn’t gaining as much as she should be.

Once again my boobies were not cooperating. Crap! Seriously, why don’t these things come with gauges so we can see how much milk is coming out?! That’s when I realized: I was really into this! I had become very pro-breastfeeding. I loved the bonding time, she was never sick and it seemed so unbelievably natural and easy! By now, I was a junkie!

So I went to the pros at The Pump Station and signed up for boobie boot camp — that means I worked with Corky, the lactation consultant. I took every supplement and herb possible! Drank beer, ate more calories per day (yum!) and after nursing Luna Marie five times a day, I would pump “the lechitas” each time!

Every night while Kent and the baby slept, there I was downstairs at 1:30 a.m. Alone in the cold dark kitchen, strapped to that noisy pump like a sad lonely cow, I’d watch re-runs of Will & Grace while listening to the whoosh-whoosh of that machine echoing in the night. I know it sounds like a lot, but sometimes I can be extreme!

All my friends said, “Constance! You have done enough. Luna Marie will be fine!” Kent said the same! Actually, they were begging me to stop. They were tired of me obsessing over boobies and milk! But I just wasn’t ready. The only ones I had to listen to were my boobs. They laid down the law and I couldn’t argue anymore. At 10 months I had to start supplementing with formula. After two months of boobie boot camp, I had to admit it was out of my control …  AND I WAS EXHAUSTED!

Then it hit me — I was done.

I went through such a weird sadness, thinking of the loss of this special time Luna Marie and I had. No one else could do this for her. I even thought, “Will she still love me?” I know — RIDICULOUS, right? But I’m an actress, I love being dramatic!

Then came “no boobie day.” I was all worried and had prepared for Luna Marie to be fussy and boycott the bottle. But guess who didn’t even notice?! She clamped right on and guzzled it so fast, it was no problemo! Luna Marie was ready. She was fine — and so was I. She showed me how to not to be so extreme and instead just adapt. I’m learning so much about myself from this little girl.

1) I learned that MY BOOBS ARE AMAZING! I have always looked at them as just okay — less than average, ya know? But now when I look down, I think, “WOW! These girls are powerful!” I’m finally proud of them! Now I get what they’re for.

2) I learned that as moms, we work very hard! We balance being everything to everyone — we always go that extra mile when we don’t want to, even if it makes us crazy! We always do the best we can. Even though we do this, we will NEVER feel like it’s enough or perfect! Nor should we! We have to accept our shortcomings and still love ourselves because that is how we teach our children to do the same — by example. Lord knows the world will beat them up enough.

So there! I will wrap up my last blog by saying THANK YOU for visiting with me each week! I’ve read your comments and truly have come to appreciate you all. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get to all the topics — I really did try! — but remember I am not perfect. (Ha!)

I also have a few new projects for you guys to check out! 1) I’m part of a crazy funny breastfeeding PSA with some other celebrity moms. Click here to view the video (there will be a new one each week) and join the boob-alution! 2) My new TV movie, Class, will premiere on Saturday, Aug. 14 at 9 p.m. on the Hallmark Channel. It’s a sweet love story where I get to play a bossy professor! Please tune in if you can.

I will continue blogging on my very own newly-designed Web site, ConstanceMarie.net, so please come visit, check it out, make your comments and let me know what you think! 🙂

Pool party! – Courtesy Constance Marie

— Constance Marie

P.S. – In case you were worried, Luna Marie does STILL love me! 😉

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