Wednesday, November 15, 2006

"i can't breastfeed in public!"

do you have superhero friends who can whip out a boob and breastfeed while they're shopping at the grocery store, drinking a latte, and talking on the cell phone all at the same time WITHOUT anybody noticing what they're doing? have you tried to nurse at the mall but can't get your milk to let down because you're uncomfortable and stressed out about continuously "flashing" the passersby? does your baby hate to have a "discreet" blanket thrown on top of her head? is she so active and curious that she comes off the breast every 2 minutes to look around and see what's going on, while your boob flops out and your milk sprays everywhere?

don't are not alone.

unfortunately, i do not have any magical cure for this but i can tell you what i did. i tried carting pumped breastmilk everywhere to avoid the nursing-in-public problem, but then i was paranoid about keeping it cold enough. i tried nursing in bathrooms (so gross and inhumane, but we've all been there, done that). i tried nursing under restaurant tables in corner booths but my baby would knock her head on the table and get angry.

in the end, you're a nursing mom and your baby needs to eat -- there will be a time when you HAVE to nurse in public, so take some tips from me. and with some practice, you may not be nursing in the check-out line, but you may be able to get out of the house for more than 2 hours at a time!

my best advice to you is to get used to dressing in layers. wear a t-shirt or other shirt with a cardigan or zip-up sweater/sweatshirt on top. when it's time to nurse, find the most discreet place you can -- not because you need to be embarrassed about what you're doing but because it will make you feel more comfortable and, therefore, it will be easier for your milk to let down. put your baby into position (cradle hold hides the most), reach up under your t-shirt to unhook your nursing bra, pull the sweatshirt out around your baby's head to make a little "boobie shield," then quickly lift up the t-shirt and shove your baby's head onto your boob. there will be enough "coverage" with the sweatshirt, the draping t-shirt, and your baby's head to cover most of your boob for most of the nursing session. if, like my kids, your baby likes to come off and look around, you'll just have to keep bending over a bit and pulling things down and around to keep covered.

and when all is said and done and it's time to burp, hand your baby off to your husband/partner/friend/mother/etc (if somebody is with you) while you re-adjust your breastpad, bra, shirt, etc. if nobody is there with you, just pull down your shirt, pull your zip-up sweatshirt around your floppy boob, and burb your baby. you can always re-adjust and re-hook once baby is happily in her stroller.

the bottom line is that you do not need to be embarrassed to nurse in public. it's your right to feed, and it's your baby's right to eat. there will be times when you will "flash" somebody, but, if you think about it, they will probably be more embarrassed than you, and, in all reality, after going through the birthing process with a group of strangers, flashing a quick nipple should now rank low on your embarrassment list.

but if you're having a hard time making it work and you and your baby are not quite the boobie-duo of superheros, then get yourself a zip-up sweatshirt or button-up cardigan and you will be in business! good luck!

Monday, November 06, 2006

pumping at work: how do i keep my breast milk supply up?

you will probably realize that you do not pump the same amount at every feeding while at work, nor do you pump the same amount each day of the week. it is very common for working moms to pump the most at the first or morning pumping session than at the end of the day. similarly, it is common to have the most milk on monday and practically nothing left at 3:00 on friday. if this is happening to you, it's okay. pumping is not quite like nursing in that a pump can't get out quite as much as your baby can, nor can you get quite as "stimulated" for production as you can with your baby (unless your pump is extremely cute and snuggly).

what does this mean in practical terms?

1. TRY VERY HARD NOT TO MISS YOUR MORNING PUMPING SESSION. excuse yourself from the meeting. put your phone on "do not disturb." let your co-workers know that this is not negotiable. this is when you'll get the most milk, so dedicate yourself to it.

2. LEAVE SOME EXTRA TIME FOR PUMPING ON MONDAYS. after a weekend with your baby, your boobs will still be on their weekend production schedule once monday comes (especially monday morning). give yourself some extra time. there is nothing worse than needing to make a meeting in 5 minutes when you still have milk gushing out of you. give yourself 5 minutes extra or so. if you don't need it, great. but you'll be happy if you do.

3. WORK FROM HOME ON WEDNESDAYS. my midwife told me this one, and i think it's brilliant. i was able to do it with my first child. the idea is that your milk supply diminishes after a week of pumping all day, so if you interject the week with some "real" breastfeeding with your baby on wednesday, you can keep your supply up more easily. of course, this is not an option for everybody, but if there's any way you can even alternate wednesdays at home every other week, that's still great. or even just go in to the office at noon instead of 9:00 and nurse your baby with that morning milk. how i did it: i had my mother-in-law come to my house on wednesdays. she would take care of my daughter while i "telecommuted." when it was time to nurse, she'd bring me my daughter, i'd nurse her, then give her back. it was so tremendously helpful to be at home, to hear her, smell her, and nurse her on those wednesdays. and because my health provider suggested it, i had that support when i proposed it to my boss. (get yourself a good speakerphone with a mute button so you can listen to conference calls while you nurse!)

4. THE OBVIOUS THINGS. load up on water, not coffee or diet coke. the water will definitely help your supply. bring "mothers milk tea" or "fenugreek" pills to work and keep them in your desk. have lots of pictures of your baby around. relax.....learn to ignore your emails, blackberry, phone, etc. if you are worried about a project or deadline, your milk will have a hard time letting down, and you won't get as much out. (release the tension, release the flow)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

"i want to drink my wife's breastmilk"

i've been watching my "google analytics" to see what key words and phrases people are using to find my site through google, and apparently there are a lot of guys out there who want to drink their wives' breastmilk. so here is a post for all you guys out there.

it may seem a little strange to you that you are fantasizing about latching on and seeing what it's like, but it's really not all that weird. you've always loved her boobs and now your little son or daughter is hanging on them all day, apparently enjoying him/herself, so naturally you want to see what all the fuss is about, right? really, it's okay. it's not all that weird.

first, though, you'll need to see what your wife thinks about the idea. although your wife might be just dying to have one more mouth sucking the literal life juice out of her body, you can probably assume that she's not. as such, i'd suggest you wait to discuss your newfound interest in dairy until AFTER she has figured out how to breastfeed (it's not as easy as it looks in the movies), AFTER her nipples have healed (if they were cracked or sore), AFTER she's had her 6-week postpartum check up (no sex till then either, guys), AFTER she's maybe gotten some sleep (like when she starts dreaming again), and AFTER she's started showing some interest in you again as a man, not just as a dad. Okay, so maybe this means that you will never get to ask her (I wink, but we all know it's true). But, my basic point is that she might get really pissed off at you if you are drooling all over her boobies when she feels like crap, hasn't slept, is still in pain, and is questioning your abilities as her life partner in this whole parenting thing. there is a point in most nursing moms' lives when they cross over from being a frustrated, confused, exhausted breastfeeder to a relaxed, i-could-breastfeed-and-sow-the-fields-at-the-same-time, breastfeeder. you'll know it when you see it, and that's the time when you too can cross that line into getting in on the action.

if you do find an appropriate time to ask her about it, i suggest you make it sound non-creepy. for example, "this may sound weird, honey, but can i see what it's like for a second?" is much better than "i'm dying to suck on your tits all night like junior does, babe." just let her know that you are interested in seeing what breastmilk tastes like and how breastfeeding might be different than what you normally do when you "suck" on her boobs during regular foreplay. (note #1: your baby is REALLY having at it when he does it, and it's a MUCH different sensation for her) (note #2: no, nursing does not arouse her, or at least not in the way you might think it would)

she will be able to tell you how to do it, and you both can have some fun seeing if it works. you probably will get a few little sips in your mouth. it will be warm and much sweeter-tasting than you may expect. this is when you come off her boob and tell her what it's like. a comment like, "wow, that's sweet" will most likely be appreciated, since moms can be quite defensive and proud about the quality of their milk! then (and this is important), you stop. please do not ask to nurse all night or get a belly full of the liquid gold. first of all, that milk belongs to somebody else (your baby), and second, that's just kind of creepy.

okay, so what do you do if your wife is not really interested in having a grown man belly up to her milk bar? you can suggest instead that you dip a finger in some breastmilk that she's poured into a glass or bowl. that way, you can see what it tastes like without really crossing any weird boundaries. actually, lactation consultants recommend that moms take a taste of their milk so that they know what it tastes and smells like. that way, they'll have a better idea of when their milk has gone "funky" in a bottle (if they pump and store for bottle feedings later).

good luck out there, boys. i'm amazed at how many of you are secretly looking for websites that discuss this issue. it's really not that big of a deal, as long as your wife is cool with it. remember - those jugs are hers. good luck and bottoms up!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

how often should i pump at work?

the frequency with which you pump at work will vary, depending on several factors including (1) the age of your baby, (2) the frequency with which your baby nurses when you are together, (3) the amount of time your job/boss provides for you to pump, (4) how busy you are, and (5) how far you have to go to pump (e.g., right at your desk or down 3 flights of stairs and through 6 hallways to get to a 'mothers room').

assuming that you have a cool boss and a convenient place to pump, then the basic guideline is to pump as often as you would nurse your baby if you were together. for myself, working a regular, 8- or 9-hour day, that meant 3 times per day in the beginning. i tried to pump at regular 3-hour intervals, like 9:00, 12:00, and 3:00. so, i would nurse in the morning when my baby woke up (at about 6:00 am), then would pump at 9, 12, and 3, and then would nurse again right when i got home from work at 6:00 pm. then again at 9:00 for bedtime, and of course all through the night on demand. (how to deal with sleep deprivation at work is another issue alltogether!)

the milk that you pump during the day is then ready to give to your daycare provider the next day. (note: read my posting on Avent pumps on how to make this easier on yourself. ) whatever you pump on friday, freeze it. on sunday night, take your oldest frozen milk and put it in the fridge. it will be thawed and ready for day care in the morning.

Monday, October 23, 2006

pumping at work: get a door sign

if you are lucky enough to have your own office (with a door!) and can comfortably pump in your room, get yourself a door sign. i used one with darth veder on it that said something like "keep out!" i would just hang it on my door when i was pumping, and everybody knew not to come in or even knock. if you work with a lot of women, you can use some kind of pink sign with cute babies or bottles or something similar that says something like, "mommy duties in progress." but if you work with a lot of guys (like i do), something more in line with darth veder will make them less squeamish. and, don't worry, you don't need to make an office-wide announcement of what the sign means. as long as your boss/supervisor knows, everybody else will slowly figure it out.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

pumping at work: bring a cloth diaper

BUY A PACK OF CLOTH DIAPERS EVEN IF YOU ARE USING DISPOSABLE DIAPERS! the cloth diapers are GREAT for wiping up breastmilk spills, wiping snotty noses, and wiping all sorts of other things. They are large and absorbent and soft. i bought one pack of cloth diapers at babies r us about 5 years ago and have used them repeatedly through 2 kids. i still keep them on hand and bring them out whenever one kid has a cold because they are great for mopping up all that nasty, stringy snot that seems to run like a river when they are sick!

anyway...what does this have to do with pumping, you ask? when you pump at work, you will want to make sure you don't dribble breastmilk all over your work clothes, papers, desk, etc. all you have to do is keep a cloth diaper with your pump, and when it's time, just tuck the cloth diaper under your boobs (or in your lap if your boobs won't hold it there by themselves). then, it will be there to catch any spills before they drip onto your pants/skirt. when you're done, just throw it back in with your stuff.

BONUS: after a few spills, your "boobie rag" (as I call it) will start to smell like sweet milk. this smell will remind you of your baby, and it will help your let-down reflex go into effect.

pumping at work: Avent is best

with my first baby, i used one of those large, electric pumps (medela, maybe?). while it was okay and did the job, it was such a hassle to lug around on the train during my commute. with my second baby, i used the Avent hand pump and was SO much happier! i understand that they now make a double pump, which would be even better. the Avent is great because it is so small and compact, you can easily carry it in your purse, briefcase, lunch bag, etc. the other bonus is that you hook your regular Avent bottles right up to it and it can go straight from the pump to your baby's mouth. (with other pumps, you pump into a collector bottle then have to pour that into your regular bottle. this means you have twice as many bottles to wash at night, and as a working mom that is the LAST thing you need!)

practically speaking, here's how you do it. pack your Avent pump and two to three Avent bottles into one of those insulated lunch bags with one of those re-freezable icepacks. at work, keep the pump and 1 bottle in the lunch bag. put the other bottle(s) in a desk drawer. put the ice pack in the company freezer. when it's time to pump, shut (and lock!) your door, or go to wherever you have arranged as your pumping room. pump both sides. close up the bottle with the flat Avent top and pop it into your lunch bag. rinse out your pump (you can give it a thorough cleaning at night but rinsing should be good enough during the day). put the lunch bag into the company refrigerator and put the pump in your drawer. the next time you pump, you can put the pump and the next bottle into the lunch bag to bring it to wherever you need it (if you feel funny walking around with a pump), or you can just pump and put the new bottle into the frige with the other one. at the end of the day, throw your ice pack into the lunch bag and head home.

NOTE: you don't have to rinse out/clean the pump after your last pumping session of the day because you can just do it at home.

tips for pumping breast milk at work

so you're back to work and still nursing. good for you! you are doing a great thing for your baby and for yourself, but it won't always be easy. your pumping experience will vary depending on where you work, whether other women are also pumping or have pumped before you, and how "in tune" your boss and co-workers are. i will try to post various tips over the course of the next days/weeks. if you find these tips useful and want more of them, please post a comment to let me know.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Grey's Anatomy a Disservice to Women

Don't get me wrong. I love the show Grey's Anatomy. But the most recent episode, "What I Am," does a disservice to laboring women. The show has a woman and her husband at the hospital. They are in labor. The woman says that she has a birth plan and wants a natural birth, but the doctors are pushing for a ceserean section for reasons that aren't very well explained to the audience. The woman seems fairly well educated about the labor process and insists several times that she does not want to be "cut open" just to make it easier on the doctors. Since the doctors aren't able to give her a strong medical reason why she should not have a c-section, she contines through her labor. At the end, the doctors are shown looking at some information or data on a piece of paper and are prompted to prepare for a "crash c-section." Addison, the doctor, explains to the mother firmly that the c-section is needed to save the life of her and her baby. The next time we see them, the beautiful baby has been born, and everybody is happy.

Why is this a disservice? The reason for this life-saving cesearean section is never really explained. (And of course there is no doula present to help the mother formulate her questions for the doctor.) Any pregnant woman watching this would be led to believe that, if your doctor suggests a ceserean section without being able to give you a reason, that you should just say "okay" because you wouldn't want your baby to die like this woman's almost did. The doctors must always be right, right?

While it is important for a woman to listen to her doctor and while it's true that a doctor probably knows more about pregnancy and birth than the mother does, it's also true that a woman has a right to plan for whatever kind of birth she wants to have AND that when her "plan" doesn't look like it's going to work, she has the right to a clear explanation of what the doctor's concerns are and why an urgent surgery might be needed.

Grey's Anatomy also does a disservice to women by making it appear that a natural birth can only be had lying in a hospital bed. If this woman's labor is not progressing, why is she not encouraged to do a "lap" around the halls? Change positions in the bed? Stimulate her nipples? Squat? These can be great, easy ways to augment labor. If, for example, Grey's Anatomy had shown this woman trying a variety of different techniques to augment her labor naturally and was STILL having problems, the emergency c-section may have been better understood.

I will contine to watch Grey's Anatomy, and I was very pleased to hear the term "birth plan" used on prime-time TV! I just wish the story line could have been a bit more clear and helpful to those out there who are interested in natural birth and are trying to plan for one.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

do guys drink breastmilk?

hey, guys. have any of you out there ever tasted your wife's of girlfriend's breastmilk? if so, what did you think? if not, why not? i want to know...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

H E L P! my baby chokes on my rushing breast milk!

does this happen to you?

you start to nurse your infant, and she sputters and gasps when your milk lets down. it's coming too fast for her, and she chokes on it. she's hungry but can't keep up. this makes her mad, and she starts screaming. your milk is spraying all over her face, and she is too worked up in her screaming fit to feed anymore.

if you experience this frequently enough to be reading this post looking for ideas, don't worry. you're not abnormal. you just have a fast/strong letdown. (imagine trying to drink out of a firehose and you'll understand why your child is upset.) here are some tips...

1. nurse more frequently. this way, your baby won't be ravenous when it's time to feed, and she won't get so upset when she can't keep up. by the way, if you are trying to do the "eat, activity, sleep" routine in the Baby Whisperer book and are afraid to let your baby "off schedule," don't worry. you won't scar her for life, and she will eventually get on your EASY schedule once she and your boobs get to know each other a little better and learn how to handle each other.

2. relieve the pressure. (this is my favorite but it's not a very commonly heard/seen tip; it worked for me, though.) before you start nursing, open up your nursing bra on both sides and tuck a cloth diaper/towel under your boobs. just sit there for a minute or so, looking at your baby and gently massaging your boobs. this most likely will get your let-down reflex started, and some milk may spray/dribble out. ahhhh. just feel those boobs relax a bit. now, put your baby on the first boob to nurse, but keep your other boob's bra flap open still. once your baby starts sucking and your milk really lets down, your other boob will dribble the milk out and the pressure will be relieved. now you can switch over to the other boob if things aren't going well on the first one. you will find that that initial let-down gush is gone and the sputtering/choking should be much reduced.

3. pump first. i didn't do this too often because it was such a pain to go get the pump and do it, but it does work. (try the Avent Isis breast pump because it's so portable and small.) before you put your baby on your boob, pump for 1/2 minute or so, just enough to get the let-down started and finished. bonus: you won't waste the milk like you would in option #2 above.

4. put your baby in a funky position. (note: this might not work at some earlier stages if your baby can't quite hold his head up, but give it a try.) consider this: if your baby is nursing in the cradle hold and your milk is gushing into his mouth when he's under it, it will be difficult for him to gulp that fast. think of it as being at the end of a beer funnel. remember how fast you'd have to swallow those things at your college-day parties? so DO try this at home: lay down on your back in bed and put your baby on top of you, belly to belly. show him your boob. he will try to nurse that way. if he can do it, then he is sucking the milk UP (picture sucking out of a straw) instead of being at the receiving end. he's working against gravity, so there won't be such a rush of milk. he also is more in control and can come off easier if it gets to be too much. note: this position can feel a bit weird when your baby's older, so it may not feel "normal" to you (you don't see this position in most breastfeeding books!). but it's worth a try. and, believe me, in the world of breastfeeding, "normal" is "whatever it takes!"

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

radiation in cigarettes

here's a little known fact about cigarettes and smoking: cigarettes contain radiation. polonium-210 sticks to the leaves of the tobacco plant, which you then (if you smoke) suck in to your body. don't believe me? go to the experts at the Health Physics Society. (Health Physics is the science of radiation protection.) click here for more

what to do when your breast milk supply is running low

you're not pumping as much as you used to. your baby seems hungry even after a feeding. what's happening, you wonder. "you must be running out of milk," your co-workers or non-breastfeeding friends tell you. you stare at the formula sample you just received at your door (how DO they know just when your strength is wavering?). what should you do?

the answer: call in sick. cancel your appointments. take the phone off the hook. take your other kids to the sitter or grandma's for a day. take your baby and go to bed.

get your husband, mom, friend, or neighbor to agree to take care of "things" while you are in bed with your baby. ask them to bring you water (lots of water), meals, and snacks for a day. your ONLY focus will be to lie in bed with your baby and nurse. that's it. get out of bed when you need to pee. then get back in. don't turn on the tv. don't bring the junky magazines into your bed. the only thing you will be doing for the next 24 hours is being there with your baby and offering your breast. just lie there with your shirt off. put a towel underneath if spilled milk on the bed makes you jumpy to do laundry. when your baby sleeps, you sleep. when your baby cries, show her the boob. that's it.

you will find, at the end of the day, that you have gotten into a sort of rhythm with your child. you are more aware of her feeding cues. you are more in tune with her cries. and your milk supply will be more in synch with what she needs.

it may seem strange. it may not feel "modern" to just lie in bed all day with "nothing" to do. but, if you think about it, is there anything more important to be doing right now? you're giving your child the unhurried opportunity to ask for and receive what it is she needs most right now - your attention, your comforting, and your milk.

breastfeeding: lansinoh for cracked nipples

you may think that childbirth was painful. now that you are breastfeeding, you know what pain really is! (if your nipples are not cracked and you are not terrified to nurse each time your baby stirs in her crib, then this post is not for you!) at the first sign of dryness, cracking, sloughing off of skin, or anything that freaks you out, go straight to your local grocery or drug store for some lansinoh lanolin. yes, it seems expensive. but you most likely will only need to buy one tube per baby so splurge. it's important. squeeze some out on your finger and rub it all over your nipple and areola (the dark part around the nipple). it's kind of sticky and it won't really rub in and be absorbed like body lotion will. think of it as a protective shield on your nipple. it's okay if you get it on your breast pad, so feel free to put your bra back on.

can my baby eat lansinoh? yes! don't worry. if you are at the point where your nipples are so cracked that you are ready to give up and reach for the formula, NOW IS WHEN YOU APPLY THE LANSINOH! you can put it on before you nurse. your baby will not gag or get grossed out. the lansinoh actually can help her latch on and maintain suction. it will not necessarily get rid of the pain, but it will make nursing more comfortable. so go ahead and use the lansinoh as much as you want. no worries, mama.

(and, by the way, the pain WILL go away! just when you think it can't get any worse, it will. but then a few feedings later you will realize that it's not so bad anymore...congratulations!).

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

breastfeeding tips: flat nipples

no, not all nipples are created equally. some protrude reeeaaaalllly far out. my friend calls hers "hot dog" nipples. some are little nubs. some are flat but come out when aroused. some are inverted. now, i am not an expert on nipples (except for the two that i have), but i do know that your nipples can have an impact on your breastfeeding experience (most particularly in the beginning). if you are blessed with the hot dog nipple, you go, girl. your baby will have a much better chance of figuring out what to "latch" onto since it's poking him/her in the eye. if, however, your nipples are smaller/shorter/flatter or even inverted, you may have looked at the "nipple" on a bottle and wondered why on earth they looked like that. you may also have wondered what all those breastfeeding books mean about "tickling" your baby's lips with your nipple to get him/her to open wide. what? every time i tried this tickling technique, i felt like i was flopping a saggy water balloon on their tiny mouths. they did not open wide, nor were they very amused.

some tips for the non-hot-dog bunch:

1. if you are still pregnant and are getting ready to breastfeed, go ahead and get used to playing with your nipples now. do what you can to make them stand at attention as often as you can. pull on them. do whatever (if it feels good) to get them used to being "out there" more frequently. NOTE OF CAUTION: Nipple stimulation is one of the common techniques used to get labor started, so you might want to talk to your midwife/OB/lactation consultant if you are not yet ready to have your baby!

2. if you have already had your baby and are now trying to breastfeed him/her with your nipples, don't worry. it can be done. you are not "defective" or "abnormal." your baby may have a hard time latching on at first. you may get very sore nipples in the beginning. i know all the books say that if your nipples hurt, you are not positioning your baby correctly, but I think that, if your nipples are not hot dogs, your nipple is not going back in his/her mouth as far and it gets sore. (and by sore, I mean holy crapola this is worse than natural childbirth.) i know this will make you want to quit nursing. but i promise you, if you stick with it and wince through the pain, it will diminish eventually. your baby will get used to your nipples and your nipples will get used to your baby. (but just in case, ask a lactation consultant to watch you nurse to make sure it really isn't the positioning that's causing the problem.)

3. you may find that one nipple protrudes more than the other. that also is normal. and if this is so, you may have a harder time with one nipple instead of the other. that's okay. there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a preferred nipple and nursing on one side more than the other. (i always thought of twins who, essentially, would have one boob each with no problem.) i, for example, always favored my left for nursing because my left nipple stuck out further. my right nub of a nipple would always hurt more in the first weeks, and it would be such an annoyance to nurse on that side, that there were sometimes whole days that would go by where i would not nurse on that side. at first your boob will get confused. just pump it out and it will figure it out. you also can open the bra on the side where you're not nursing, tuck a towel or cloth diaper under your boob, and let it run out while your baby nurses on the other side.


breastfeeding: it takes a village

yes, they are your boobs, and that is your child. but it takes a village to nurse a child, i have learned. make sure your husband is on board with your decision to breastfeed. if you do not have a husband or other partner, you will need somebody, anybody, to get you through the first few weeks. breastfeeding is not pretty. there will be a lot of crying, a lot of spit up, a lot of poop, a lot of spraying, shooting, dripping milk. you will be tired. you will be thirsty. you will be starving. you will not know how to exist one-handed. you will need help. get it. don't be shy. everybody who has ever nursed a baby has had to get support somehow from somebody. it does not mean you're doing it wrong. it does not mean you're weak. it does not mean you're not modern. it means you are real..

the milk bar: a breastfeeding story

breastfeeding was not easy for me. either time. i still can't believe i stuck with it. i just knew it was something i wanted to do. it didn't feel right but it still felt right. so we nursed. it was a joint venture between almond eyes and me. i could not have done it without him. he would feed me while i fed her (one hand under her butt, one under my boob). he sometimes would even bring her to the milk bar when i was too tired to hold her there myself. he always thought i was crazy, i'm sure, for putting myself through such misery and pain, but he did not say so. she was the crazy one. she was demanding but she could not handle the rush of my milk. she would work herself up into a frenzy, then too crazy to nurse, i was too stressed to let down. there we were. mother and daughter. the fights started at day one. she is still as fierce. she is still as beautiful. she is still as strong. and not a day goes by that we do not share a special hug, a secret smile, recalling the days we frequented the milk bar together.

Monday, October 09, 2006

octopus: a birth story

i can feel her small head between my legs. it is the strangest feeling i have ever had. SHE is in ME and SHE is almost HERE. i look down to the mirror at my feet. i am entranced. her dark hair slides out when i push and slides back in when i rest. will she ever come out? "you're doing a great job" they tell me. my husband, almond eyes, is amazed. he is proud and in love and wide-eyed. i must get her out. i touch her head again. it is hard and soft at the same time. i can't belive there is a head inside my body. this is surreal and all too wonderful. i am too tired to talk. i telepathy "ice chips" to almond eyes between pushes. i can't believe he doesn't know what i'm asking of him. doesn't he KNOW? my doula does. she nudges him and he remembers his ice chip duty. a million things run through my head as my body miraculously pushes by itself. i am along for the ride but trying to figure out how to "push" as they tell me. (SHE is the one pushing i think.) what could be in my head at a time like this? of course, food. i am ravenous. this is the most important moment of my life and all i can think about is a grilled cheese and vanilla shake from the diner across the street. i must get her out. i look to the mirror again and try to focus better. i get serious. i will do this. i am too tired to do this much longer. grilled cheese. milk shake. i telepathy again: "ice chips." he gets it this time. my body pushes. i contort my insides to try to push. i grunt. i am loud. "relax your legs." i don't know what i'm doing. but i must get her out. THEN...

FLOP! out she tumbles, wet in her own ocean. slippery and slithery. arms and legs like the tentacles of an octopus. oh my god. "oh my god" my voice escapes through my dry lips. "pray" they say to almond eyes who has forgotten our birth plan wish for quiet so that he can say the traditional prayer of birth. i don't hear him. i don't hear anything. i am amazed at what has just come out of my body. i have birthed. i am strong. i am real.

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