April 6th, 2014

The Secret to Successful Nursing and Nursing a Preemie

Let’s get right to the point, you don’t need to read the whole article.  You’re probably a tired, almost zombie (glowing zombie of course), new mom.

The Secret to Successful Nursing is CONFIDENCE!

The Secret to Successfully Nursing a Preemie is CONFIDENCE!

RULE #8 – BE CONFIDENT, forget all the rules and books and articles if needed.  Do what is working for you!   You are doing great.  You gave the gift of life!   You are providing custom tailored nutrients to your baby, it’s magic!  Tell yourself everyday that you are doing a great job, because you are.  Shit, send me an email, I’ll email you back just to tell you that you are doing a great job.  I’ll email yah everyday for a few weeks if that’s what you need.  Confidence in yourself and your abilities is the most important thing.  Believe in yourself.  I do, your baby does.  You can do it!

You, yes YOU, YOU ARE WONDERFUL!  You are doing a great job.  You can do this, if this is what you want to do.   If you’re still awake keep reading, if not … sweet dreams for the next 60 – 90 minutes :)

You have probably read chapters and articles and technique.  It’s likely that you are eating a lot of oatmeal and drinking mothers milk tea religiously.  There’s probably a small voice in your head that sounds vaguely familiar to “RIGHT, RIGHT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT”.  T

There are a few basic rules / guidelines to proper latch on and removal that are necessary.  Such as, if you don’t break the suction with your pinky finger it’s going to hurt like hell getting your little loved one off your nipple.  A dear friend of mine … her poor nipple was detached from her areola.  She fell asleep nursing and the baby rolled with her nipple and suction still intact.    She is a bit of a superhero and powered through the pain and healing. That happened in the first month it’s almost a year later and she is still nursing.

RULE #1 –  Break the suction, don’t break your Nipple.

The baby does not just suck the nipple.  If only your nipple is in the babies mouth it is going to hurt.  It is an improper latch.  Areolas vary in size but a good portion of your ariola should be in your babies mouth.  If not BREAK the suction and re-insert.  If you are having trouble getting your baby to latch please seek out the help on that.  (This article is not for help in that area, best wishes, you can do it!)

RULE #2 – Get that nipple in there, and then some!

Ok, now you have probably read strategies and the term let down might be forever imprinted on your brain.  Take a deep breath.  You will, you can succeed.  Whether you:  block feed (right for a few hours, left for a few hours), go back and forth 15min right 15 min left …. 5 min right 20 left finish right … feed and then pump … get on all fours and say a little prayer … weep while nursing … sit up … lay down, the combinations are endless … YOUR BABY WILL GET MILK.   Figuring out which combo works for you is enough to kill your confidence and the limited brain cells your provided when exhausted and nursing.  Figure out what seems easiest for you and stick with it and be confident in it.  Guess what?!  What may be easiest for you is the combo of all of it.  Some hours you may only want to nurse on the left side, some sessions you may feel inclined to LEFT RIGHT LEFT!  That’s OK!  Listen to your booby instinct, you’re probably right.  Be confident, your boobs, your baby, ya’ll were made for each other.

RULE #3 – Let go of the Let Down

A couple important considerations in your combo determination:  Some babies are strong suckers and get all they need in 15 minutes, some babies a slow or weak suckers and will nurse for 45 minutes or longer at a clip!  Some boobs pour out like faucets, some boobs do not.  Slow and steady wins the race too, be patient with weak suckers or trickling nipples.  Babies like to cluster feed at times, that means they can suck for an hour take a 5 – 15 minute break and suck for another 45 minutes and do it again.  So, what kind of schedule should your baby be on with feedings … every two hours, three hours, four hours?  WHENEVER, that’s the schedule you should be on for at least the first few months.  Whenever baby wants it, try and give it.   Need encouragement to wake up at every ungodly hour … some SIDS studies believe that a contributing factor in some cases is simply not enough calories or strength to get through the night.  Your baby is tiny and delicate and has a small tummy digesting fast so they can grow fast.  WAKE UP!  You can do, it’s only a few months.  You can do it!

RULE #4 – There is no schedule, so stop worrying about it

So you’re tired.   Like really really tired.  Like seeing two babies in the middle of the night when you only have one tired (been there).   If you can pump extra during the day and give your baby a couple bottles of breast milk at night that will help.  If you have a loved one that can give those night bottles, EVEN BETTER!  If you and your pump don’t get along, if you don’t have help at  night, if you think you are about to crack … BREATHE … maybe cry cause hormones will make you do that with the simple act of breathing on occasion.  Breathe again.  Now take a deep breathe.  I want you to let a word enter your brain without judgement.  Formula.  Now take another deep breathe, it’s ok.  You are still an amazing mother doing an amazing job.  If you want to give your boobs and body a small rest at night so you can function and be a better mother the next day.  It’s OK.  It’s can be so hard to enjoy having a baby through the exhaustion, stress and marathon of it all.  If giving your loved one some formula at night saves your sanity … then … that is what is best for your baby.  The “breast is best” campaign is fantastic but a little overboard and can lead to guilt.  Sanity is best.  Happiness is best.  (NOTE:  If you are feeling too overwhelmed, sad, depressed, please get help.  PROFESSIONAL HELP for the sake of your loved one.  You love your baby, sometimes doing your best can also mean letting a professional tell you whether or not you are ok at the moment and help you if your not)  Again, formula is ok.  Formula can be great, formula can be a sanity and life saver.  Formula can let you be a better mom in the morning.  You have not failed if you give your baby formula.   You are succeeding as a parent in knowing what is best for your child and you.

RULE #5 – Whatever works for you is OK!  Know your limits and be proud of acknowledging them.

Does your babies daddy want to weigh in our your breastfeeding technique?  Does your mom / mother-in-law / doula want to guide your every latch?  Does your best friend who doesn’t even have a baby want to tell you how important breastfeeding on a schedule is?  Does your lactation consultant make you feel like a milk robot?  Does every book and article you read make you feel a little more insecure about whether or not you’re doing it right?   I’m sorry.  Others don’t know what they are doing so can’t apologize so I’d like to apologize for them.  As stated before, it’s your boobs, it’s your baby, ya’ll were made for each other.   BE STRONG, be strong fierce lion mama.  Tune into your primal animal instincts, you have them!  Tune out everyone’s judgement that does not work for you.  Also pay the knowledge forward.  The best thing you can do for nursing friends in the future is tell them that they are doing a great and wonderful job.  YOU are doing a great and wonderful job.  You should be very very proud of yourself.  Really you’re amazing, it’s so hard, the first year is exhausting, you are doing great!

RULE #6 – Tune In and Tune Out

Back hurt?  Ass hurt?  Neck hurt?  Did you ever think holding such a tiny being could be so uncomfortable.  Being as comfortable as possible will help your patience.  It’s much hard to nurse for an hour or even 15 minutes if your back is screaming at you.  Boppies, nursing pillows help.  A foot stool (not the gliding ones the little step stool looking ones) help.  An extra pillow behind your back or under your ass can help.  Ever notice how many animals in the animal kingdom just lay down and let their babies nurse?  My baby was TINY, yet holding him still hurt my back and I through my back out for the first time in my life a few months in!  We’re at 16 months and I’ll tell you a secret … if we’re at home … we’re laying down when nursing is in progress.  Started off on the side now much of the time I just lay on my back and he props his head in the nook of my armpit or drapes himself across me to get to the other side.   I can lay slightly propped up or completely flat, gravity is not necessary for a baby to suck milk out of your boobies.  So, if boppies, stools and pillows are not cutting it … try laying down.

RULE #7 – Get Comfortable, BE COMFORTABLE

RULE #8 – BE CONFIDENT, forget all the rules and books and articles if needed.  Do what is working for you!   You are doing great.  You gave the gift of life!   You are providing custom tailored nutrients to your baby, it’s magic!  Tell yourself everyday that you are doing a great job, because you are.  Shit, send me an email, I’ll email you back just to tell you that you are doing a great job.  I’ll email yah everyday for a few weeks if that’s what you need.  Confidence in yourself and your abilities is the most important thing.  Believe in yourself.  I do, your baby does.  You can do it!


My miracle was born two months early weighing a whopping 2lbs 12oz.  At 16 months he is completely healthy and we’ve got about 30 Dr.’s visits, Specialty Dr.’s visits, In home nurse visits, In home assessments to prove it!  In CA when they come that small the state has a High Risk Infant program to get you all the help you need if you need it as early as you need it.  The earlier you can tell something is wrong the quicker you can work to adjust and fix it.  We are extremely blessed in that we have needed no fixins!

A couple things made me write this article.  First a close friend just had her second baby, she wasn’t able to nurse her first born so nursing is a new thing.  With a five year old and a two month old exhaustion and insecurity was getting the best of her.  Just about everything written about I communicated with her after receiving a message for information at about 3am one fine evening.  Second, was remembering all of it, trying to give her the information and support I wish someone had given me.  This is everything I wish someone had told me.

NICU Neonatal Intensive Care NURSING

I’m sorry you are in the NICU, but modern medicine is miraculous and there is much to be grateful for.  Try not to dwell on how everything did not go as planned.  Try not to dwell on how you wish you and your baby were at home and not in the hospital.  Try not to dwell on you lack of privacy.   TRY TRY TRY to be grateful, it will save your joy at this special moment.  It will save your sanity.  Be grateful for every nice nurse and Dr. who has dedicated there life to helping strangers babies.   Be grateful for every little beeping machine keeping a close eye on your baby.  Try not to let your hormones get the best of you, try to be nice to the Dr.’s and nurses even if your maternal hormones want to eat them alive for dressing your baby for the first time, for not being gentle enough with a diaper change, for not taping the feeding tube on carefully enough.   There are moments when the smallest thing may stir some instinct or hormone that makes you want to attack your NICU nurse.  They will understand if you lash out at them, they understand you don’t want to be there, they will continue to take the best care of your baby possible.  But try to take a breathe and be nice.

Finding the joy and magic in your NICU experience will help with your confidence in being a NICU mother.  I had 37 days in the NICU to master such skills.  I made mistakes, I almost ate a nurse, it happens.

Depending on size you may not be allowed or able to nurse your baby at first.  At first you may have a C-section and almost immediately after be given a very awkward breast pump.  If you gave birth before your milk came in you’re going to become a pumping  rock star real quick.  We’re talking pumping every couple of hours around the clock just to get your milk to come in.  Then when it comes in, in at the smallest quantities ever … So small a kind nurse may just wipe the orange stuff on her finger and go directly to the nicu to wipe it in your babies mouth.  These tiny quantities will not boost your confidence but they should.  It’s amazing that whatever emergency got you there, you are getting through it.  Not only through it but forcing your milk to help your baby.   Go mom!

Breast pumps are your friend, at least try and tell yourself that.  Really they suck, literally and well it sucks.  Pumping and nursing are not the same.  Pumping feels like a wierd sci-fi B movie and some boobs just don’t respond to the pump.  The hospitals get the best machines so you will have some luck.  You may even be lucky enough to have boobs that respond well to the pump and overflow bottles.  You may also have boobs that barely get you 15mls and on non industrial pumps get you about 5ml’s at a time.    Whatever the case for the moment, the pump is your friend.  The pump will help you get milk to your baby who is not yet able to breast feed.  Your milk will in turn help your tiny guy get bigger faster.  The pump is your friend, you can do it.

The beeping machines are your friends.  You’re baby may barely be strong enough to breast feed.  Your babies instincts will lead him to your boobs especially if you are doing kangaroo care.  At some point the nurses will let you try and watch closely as you do.  This is for the safety of your baby.  My son started breastfeeding when he was still a three pounder.  My son also stopped breathing and turned blue and limp a couple of times while attached to my breast.  An experience like that will crush your confidence and a little bit of your soul.  It happens, it is a normal occurence in the NICU … tiny babies are weak babies … sucking milk takes a lot of energy.  I was allowed to try and breastfeed about twice a day in the NICU with weigh ins before and after each time.  Each time I breastfed I was glued to the oxygen sat levels, if it dipped to low I stopped and gave him a break.  We never went longer then 15 minutes.

So, nursing in the NICU is hard.  It can be very very hard and uncomfortable and scary.  It’s o.k., you’re doing a good job.  Cry whenever you need to and just keep trying.  Keep trying to feed, keep trying to pump, keep trying to stay positive.

When you are discharged you will either rent a pump or buy a pump.  Every time you visit the NICU pump while there and close to your baby.   If  your pump at home is not working well RENT an industrial pump, do not wait.  I had a $300+ medela home pump that couldn’t do anything compaired to the hospital pump.

Nursing your preemie at home without machines to tell you if he is ok can be terrifying.   It will get better.   Gradually you will pump less and feed more.  If you baby was strong enough to be discharged then he is strong enough to breastfeed at least a little.  KNOW THIS … just because you pump tiny amounts does not mean your baby drinks tiny amounts.  I can barely get anything out of a pump til this vary day, yet when my son breastfeeds I hear him gulping down liquid.  Breastfeeding is different then pumping!  Be confident in your breastfeeding, the pump just keeps it coming until your baby can gobble away.  Don’t be discouraged by small pump output.

Preemie tummies are extra SMALL.  This means your tiny baby is going to have to eat VERY frequently even more frequently then normal weight newborn.  This means you will have to wake up even more in the middle of the night, at some point exhaustion may lead to seeing double.  Hang in there!  You can do it!  It will get better!  Ask friends and family for help.  Don’t clean the house, don’t cook save every ounce of energy for your baby and you.  Be grateful for everything you can be grateful for.  Be confident that you are doing the best you can.  Find joy in the simplest things.

Best wishes.  Good Luck.

Much Love!

Kiesha Jean


July 27th, 2012

Daily Doodle - Tamarind

daily doodle - Tamarind

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June 17th, 2012

Daily Doodle - Techne {First piece of art available for purchase}

Daily Doodle - Techne

This is the first piece of art I’ve ever sold. When I was a sophomore in high school my super amazing chemistry teacher (whose face I remember but name I do not … Mr. O….) offered to buy a pointillism drawing I did in art class. He was responsible for taking our class up in a hot air balloon in the football field though so I just gave it to him as a floating thank you. Since then I have given away paintings to close friends and family but never really had much confidence in them as ‘art’. I just love to doodle and paint but never felt they were any masterpieces by any means.  I definitely connected with pointillism and to this day love drawing with little dots.

Recently I was given a sort of break from responsible / normal life that afforded me much time to sit and draw. Given the time I feel like I found my ‘voice’ in my little doodles, for lack of a better description. Fine finished drawings where I put love and concentration into every line. For the first time I’m really proud of them and proud to share them. So, on the chance that someone might connect and fancy one for themselves I’m offering them for sale.  They will all be a bit of mixed media with the original drawings scanned in and then digitally finished.

I’ve got a couple thousand pictures from those unique months as well which are soon to come!

FOR SALE :) via Society6 – Stretched Canvas, Framed & Art Print

Naming inspiration for this particular drawing:

“Heidegger notes that the origin of the word “technology” come from the Greek word techne, and this word was applied not only to technology, but to art, and artistic technique, as well. “Once there was a time when the bringing-forth of the true into the beautiful was also called techne,” he writes. “Once that revealing which brings forth truth into the splendor of radiant appearance was also called techne.” He found this to be a numinous correspondence, and considered that, in art, the “saving power” capable of confronting the abyss of the technological enframing might be found.” – Daniel Pinchbeck 2012 The Return of Quetzalcoatl pg. 106″

“The Greek concept of techne can aid in understanding technological society and the way it can generate a separation of business and personal lives. As used by the early Greeks, techne mean the knowledge required to get the job done. The “manager” of today epitomizes this early concept. He is trained to get the job done efficiently, economically, and rapidly. As a result, management can take on a life of its own and managers can lose touch with their personal values. The Greeks, however, quickly saw the inadequacies of the concept. Obssessed with wholeness and concerned with telos, or the “end” of a matter, they added an ethical and aesthetic dimension to their early definition. Techne came to mean not only understanding how to get the job done but also how the skill could be integrated with being a good citizen. Aristotle further defined techne to include a moral dimension. At each state in the development of the concept from basic know-how to general community implication to specific moral concern, education was of prime importance. Education today, especially the humanities, can play a role in helping our techonological society take on the more humane qualities of the evolved concept of techne.” Byrum C. Stephen 1984 The Greek Concept of “Techne.”

June 13th, 2012

Do You Remember

Yes, I do remember how to sit my ass down on the computer and post something. Thanks to my far away friend Emma for posting the song below … I also remember how to get my ass up and dance around the house.  Note the video is a little twisted but the song is SUPER AWESOME dancy!

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March 14th, 2012

Daily Doodle - Life Flow

Daily Doodle - Life Flow
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Drawn over the course of a week in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, CA. My father had reconstructive back surgery which had it’s fair share of complications. The first week he was very critical unconscious and on a ventilator. Watching a machine breathe for a loved one all day and all night with a massive amount of tubes keeping them alive makes you question life quite a bit to say the least. He’s been in the hospital almost 8 weeks now and is slowly but surely making great progress and will hopefully be able to go home in a week or two.

The hospital is a very intense place to draw.  Everyday hearing code blue’s called and lullaby’s played when babies were born.  Souls coming and going.  Special thanks to the surgeons, doctors, nurses (especially SICU CHRIS & AMANDA!!), aides and staff who helped keep my father alive and were as excited as us for his recovery.

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March 3rd, 2012

Daily Doodle - Love Child

Daily Doodle - Love Child
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mixed media – hand drawn doodle over a digitally colored photo I took of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, NC. The name came from the sweetest man I know who keeps calling me ‘love child’.

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March 1st, 2012

Daily Doodle - Eyes on Asheville

Daily Doodle - Eyes on Asheville
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Hand drawn and digitally finished. Inspired by a full week long music binge in Asheville, NC in November 2011! Everything from mainstream concerts to experimental electronic to bluegrass … there was also a marching band … it was FANTASTIC! Asheville has talent, flavor, soul and passion. There are amazing innovative talented artist making some magic in this small mountain town.

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March 1st, 2012

Lykke Li Concert Photos (Asheville, NC / the Orange Peel)


openers First Aide Kit & headliner Lykke Li!

First Aide Kit has some amazing soulful rockin sounds. These two Swedish sisters might have got a bigger applause then Lykke. They are young, fresh and have this Stevie Nicks / Janice Joplin / Alison Krauss vibe that will give you goosebumps in person. Definitely worth checking out if they are touring anywhere near you.

Lykke Li was a fierce energetic hypnotic show. A completely different feeling live vs. listening to the album. Both an experience worth enjoying. Got a few photos … the place was packed and I was busy dancing!

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February 29th, 2012

Daily doodle - Love Letters

Daily Doodle - Love Letters

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February 28th, 2012

Daily Doodle - Sometimes, I get a good feeling.


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Hand drawn, digitally finished abstract drawing. Inspired after a very good feeling!

Finally Moving (VIP Remix) by Pretty Lights on Grooveshark