Babies & Holidays

November 22, 2016

The holidays are upon us and for new parents it can be fraught with anxiety. Whose family do we spend the holidays with? Do we travel? If so, how: car, bus, train, airplane?

Should we just stay home and have family visit us? But how will we be able to host people? I can’t even feed myself half the time let alone a dozen guests? And my baby just got into a somewhat predictable routine! Help!

Many families are eager to show off their new baby and want to have holidays with family and friends. It is not impossible to enjoy the the festivities with some planning and a change of expectations.

First, expect that your baby who is used to somewhat of a routine may want to be in the arms of her parents more. She may also nurse more than usual – nursing is calming for a baby, she feels safe in your arms, safe at the breast.

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Depending on where and how your baby sleeps, her sleep may be different when traveling or when you have company. This is not uncommon and know that you can get back into a routine once you get back home or the guests leave.

Sometimes it works to invite people over to your place so that your baby’s routine is fairly regular. Make it a potluck to take the pressure off. Make definite times for your event:

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People want to help but often need direction.

Assign jobs: setting the table, washing dishes, vacuuming, etc.

Some new families like to keep it simple and stay home and create their own traditions.

One family has a tree trimming party in early December. They make it an open house with set hours where people do not have to stay the whole time. Their friends bring ornaments and food. This is a great way to see friends and family in a festive way without the overwhelming scene of everyone all at once.

Another family started a tradition of staying home, eating their favorite junk food and watching silly movies. They wear matching pajamas. No friends or extended family – just their little family.

This may be the first time many of your loved ones are meeting your new baby. They all want to hold her. That does not mean she wants to be held by all of them.

I recall my sister’s wedding was the the first time many of my family were meeting my oldest for the first time. She was nine months old. She was comfortable in the arms of my husband, my mom, my sister and me. But everyone wanted to hold her. I have lots of photos of her with tears or a red face. It was overwhelming for her. After a while I told everyone they could take a picture with me holding her. Those photos show a smiling baby with her cousins and aunts and uncles – and me!

Some people may be critical that your baby is “clingy.” Your baby is in survival mode. You may be met with criticism of how often your baby nurses.

Speaking of nursing your baby may nurse more than usual or she may even get distracted and nurse less. If she nurses less your body will let you know! Just take her back and nurse her if your breasts are getting full. If she is distracted go to a private room – take a nap together! This can be your escape excuse!

Some have never nursed in front of family. Practice in front of a mirror or with a group of other nursing moms and you will see that very little skin shows. If you are one who feels like you need to partially undress to nurse, a pretty scarf can help offer some privacy.

Before these gatherings discuss your plans. If Aunt Martha is always critical of your parenting and you have to see her, plan on a few replies to her comments.

    “My that baby isn’t dressed warm enough! I would never have let my babies dress like that.”

     “Aunt Martha, thank you for your suggestions, we will consider them, for now things are working for us.”

    “My, that baby sure nurses a lot, you may want to give her some cereal in her bottle!”

    “Aunt Martha, our pediatrician says we do not need to give her cereal, my milk is all she needs.”

 

Many couples have an escape plan. They have a code for when the time is up.

It could be a wink or a phrase. “Honey, I left the oven on.” “Sweetheart, I have on two different color socks!”

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Make sure you take lots of photos. These memories should be preserved.

Happy Holidays!

 

 

The Unfathomable Loss

October 31, 2016

MY friend Ann wrote this – so powerful – so sad.

Gluten Free Apple Cake

October 20, 2016

I had recently walked by Trader Joe’s at a miraculously non-crowded hour. I found their gluten free all-purpose baking flour. I wasn’t sure what I was going to bake with it but it was dancing around my head.

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And then we went apple picking. I found a bounty of apples sitting on my dining table. Most people see apples and think apple pie. I love cake. A google search for apple cake recipes produced a great list. I decided to use elements from different recipes and settled upon this:

 

 

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3/4 cup TJ’s all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

4 large apples

2 large eggs

3/4 cup light brown sugar

3 tablespoons dark rum

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

 

Optional

½ cup chopped pecans

 

Preheat oven to 350.

 

Line and butter a spring form pan.

Cut up your apples. I cut them into big chunks. You can make them smaller if you like.

 

Combine the flour, baking powder and spices, and set aside.

 

Whisk the eggs until fluffy then blend in the sugar until the lumps are out. Add the vanilla and rum.

Alternately add the flour and butter a little at a time until it is all combined.

This is where you can add the pecans – my family does not care for nuts in their baked goods but I do!

Then stir in the apples.

Pour the lumpy batter into the spring form pan.

Bake for about 50 minutes – check it to see if a knife comes out clean.

Let the cake cool completely – it will be tempting to want to jump in right away but it will fall apart if you take it out to soon.

 

Once it is cool you can take it out. If you want you may add fresh whipped cream but you really do not need it.

Enjoy!

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Sexual Assault

October 18, 2016

I am happy to hear the conversation about sexual assault being brought out into the open. Perhaps talking about it can help prevent it.

I have been thinking about my experiences. In college I found myself in a couple of bad situations. When things got out of hand I blamed myself. I blamed drinking. I figured it was my fault. I had flirted and I had liked the initial attention.

When I moved to New York in the late 80’s I found myself the object of many a man’s cat calls and groping. I started to walk with my hands at attention waiting to feel the contact on my ass. What power I felt when the fingers began the journey between my legs and I grabbed them and bent them backward and in my deepest, strongest voice said, “Keep your fucking hands off me you mother fucker or I will kill you, you fucking asshole!”

With each word I bent his fingers closer to the back of his hand. He pulled away.

“You are crazy!”

“That’s right, motherfucker, and I will kill you!”

Graced with this new sense of empowerment I felt like I was an actual New Yorker.

Why? Why should I have to feel this need to be on the defense.

Recently, I was walking down First Avenue in a new dress. I felt great. It has been some time since I have been groped. I am middle aged and most gropers, I believe, prefer young women to assault, so I no longer feel the need to have my hands at the ready. A man walks toward me moving closer to my personal space and grabs my eyes with his and says,”You are a MILF!” In my best New Yorker way I acted as if he did not exist.

“MILF!” He called after me. “MIIIILLLFFF!”

Was I supposed to be flattered? A tiny part of me thought, “well, I still got it.” Then I was angry. Angry at myself for liking it that tiny bit. And angry at that man who felt he has the power to make me feel a certain way based on his opinion. He wanted to have power over me. He was pissed that he didn’t. But what he didn’t know was that he did in some way. He made me feel like an object.

This made me realize that as a young woman I let myself be objectified. Whose fault was that? Was it mine? My family’s fault? The fault of our culture?

I have two daughters. They are actual born and bred New Yorkers. They are way edgier than I ever was and probably will ever be. I talk to them constantly about being mindful of their bodies. My younger daughter is 1fifteen years old. She often dresses in what should be just comfortable clothes but I have to tell her to cover up. She gets angry. I have to warn her about the other people out there. It is not her. It is our culture. It is the acceptance of Locker Room talk. It is the culture of wealthy men wanting to buy everything including women. Boys will be boys!

Well, guess what? Powerful women will be powerful women. And we will not tolerate this. And the men who are not motherfuckingassholes will not stand by and let this happen.

Keep talking about it! Do not back down. And do not elect a motherfuckingasshole!

Tandem Nursing

August 10, 2016

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Tandem Nursing means nursing two babies at once. This can be twins or it can be siblings born at different times i.e. an toddler and an newborn.

Many people believe that you cannot get pregnant while nursing or that if you are nursing when you are pregnant you need to wean.

You can get pregnant while nursing.

Breastfeeding can be birth control under specific conditions. There is the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM).

LAM works like this:

  • No return of menses since birth
  • breastfeeding on demand, night, and day
  • baby does not take any food or other liquids regularly
  • baby’s sucking needs met primarily at the breast (no pacifier or bottles) baby is less than 6 months old.
  • baby does not go longer than four hours during the day and longer than six hours during the night between nursing

 

With LAM there is about a 1-2% chance of getting pregnant – similar to taking birth control pills.

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Many people get pregnant while nursing. Often moms are advised to wean their older baby if they become pregnant. There is no need to wean unless you are at risk for premature labor and you are advised by your health care provider to refrain from intercourse.

What can you expect while nursing while pregnant?

About halfway through pregnancy your milk changes from mature milk to colostrum. Colostrum is thicker and does not flow as easily as mature milk. Some toddlers get frustrated and wean. Others hold on for dear life!

One telltale sign of pregnancy can be sore nipples. Some moms find nursing painful or they become averse to nursing and they choose to wean their older baby.

Others will put limitations on nursing – one mom used counting as her strategy – “you can nurse for ten seconds – 10, 9, 8 . . .“ Another mom had a nursing chair where they could only nurse sitting in the chair in a quiet room.

Some advantages of tandem nursing can be:

  • nursing toddler can help relieve engorgement
  • older baby not feeling left out
  • mom doesn’t feel she is abandoning the older child
  • she still has her magic toddler wand
  • sibling bonding
  • stronger immune system of the toddler

 

Disadvantages:

  • mom may feel touched out
  • judgement from family, friends and health care team

 

When nursing twins it can be a good idea to alternate breasts for the twins. This can be every feeding or everyday – Twin A gets the left breast while Twin B gets the right breast for one feeding and then alternate the next feeding or on Monday Twin A gets left breast and Twin B gets right breast and on Tuesday Twin A gets right breast and Twin B gets left breast and so on. Many moms of twins will choose to nurse one at a time once they get older to have one on one time. In the early days it can be a time saver to nurse both at once.

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How does one manage tandem nursing babies of different ages?

Elizabeth Tandem nursing Read the rest of this entry »

Weaning

June 23, 2016

I remember when all three of my children weaned.

My plan for Phoebe was to nurse for one year.

I figured I could avoid formula and bottles if I nursed her for twelve months.

At my baby shower for her I received 36 bottles! I had not registered for anything and told people I would be breastfeeding. We did not have a dishwasher. The thought of washing bottles overwhelmed me and made me want to breastfeed even more.

Laziness was a motivating factor initially in some of my parenting choices. Breastfeeding and co-sleeping were the bomb!

Though we struggled together initially, nursing became an extension of my mothering Phoebe.

As her first birthday approached I got anxious about the weaning process. How would I do it? Who would it benefit? How would I calm a tantrum or get her to sleep?

photo Read the rest of this entry »

I thought it was time to share this again.

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Breasts are the great, mysterious glands that fascinate and confound us. They are used to sell cars and beer and they are used to feed babies. They can be used to lure lovers. They are mysterious because we idolize them but we know very little about them.

I remember talking with a woman who told me in medical school they were studying cadavers. She said they took a scrotum and dissected it this way and that way. When it came to the female body the breast was lopped off and they never looked at it.

Several years ago I was at the Bodies Exhibit at the South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan. I had my oldest child with me, she was ten years old at the time, and I had my son who was a few months old.

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I noticed that the exhibit of the female body showed a…

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