Change and Magic

June 26, 2014


Yesterday was my birthday. Today was the last day of school for NYC Public School children. This weekend all three of my children will begin their summer at camp in the Berkshires and Rob and I will be alone for four weeks.

My oldest child has one year of college under her belt. My second child will be researching high schools in the fall. My youngest will begin fourth grade.

This summer many friends are leaving New York. They are going to Portugal, Massachusetts, Portland (both East and West) Israel, and Phoenix. The list goes on.

Change is hard. I have trouble with change. I have a hard time packing. I am challenged to move things around like furniture and art on my walls. I am a creature of habit.

But I also have change envy. I am envious of all those friends starting out on new adventures. I feel a little left behind.

Working with breastfeeding moms and babies I get to relive those early challenges of motherhood, the dramatic changes in the body and the heart. As someone who advises about weaning I get to relive the emotions of that milestone.

I was talking to Finn on the way to school this morning and he told me he wishes he could perform magic. The first thing I imagined I would do if I was magic would be to bring back my mother. This year in October it will be ten years since she died.

If I was magic . . .

Oh, the possibilities.

For now, I will remain in New York. I will continue to mother my children through all of the changes they experience. I will nurture my relationship with Rob. And I shall seek change that is positive. I will embrace each day, each challenge, each wrinkle and gray hair.

You see, this is about getting older. Yesterday was my 49th birthday and I am thinking deeply about 50. It is such a milestone. When I was a kid I used to imagine a grownup being 35 years old. I am past that quite a bit. I have to consider what this means.

I walk down the street and I look at other women. I try to figure out how old they are. I try to analyze their state of mind. I try to figure out if they are happy and healthy.

I will take in this final year of my forties. I am happy and I am healthy. And I know deep down I do possess some magic!

Do you remember falling in love? The excitement of seeing that special someone? Your heart speeding up? Remember catching each others’ eyes? The way it felt when your skin touched? The vulnerability you allowed yourself?

As your relationship developed both of you revealed your flaws because you let your guards down. Sometimes you got angry but you recovered because love created a place of safety, forgiveness and acceptance, unconditionally.


This happens with babies.  We have to negotiate our time and space to accommodate this feeling. Our hearts have unending abundance. There is an excitement and fear because we did not realize our capacity to feel such profound emotions.

Welcome to parenting. This journey is all about falling in love. Love can be wonderful and scary, frustrating and exhilarating.

Fall in love amidst the chaos of a life that is no longer yours alone. You find that you have lost control of your environment. You don’t have time for yourself, your home is a disaster. When did you last shower? Did you eat breakfast?  What happened to your body? Will you ever make love again?

But then you catch your baby’s eyes and all the mess fades away, if only momentarily.


Your baby doesn’t care about dust bunnies and dishes piled high. She simply needs you.




Remember in the early days with your partner wanting to be together constantly? This is how your baby feels. She wants you to hold her and feed her, to talk to her and to touch her. Your baby does not want to leave your side.

As you fell in love with your significant other there were times of uncertainty. If you put limitations on your time together would that make you feel secure or insecure?

Babies feel the same. Putting limitations on touch, holding and feeding can make a baby feel unsettled. She may build up defense mechanisms. Allow yourself to dive deep into this new relationship.

In this new phase of your life you will find you tap into your intuition. Trust this gift. Listen to your baby and listen to your heart.

Life is messy. It is speckled with moments of great amazement and awe but mostly it is ordinary. Life with a new baby can be overwhelming all of the time but after an adjustment period it will be mostly ordinary. You will find the comfort of this new kind of love extraordinary.

Here are some strategies to help you enjoy this new chapter of your life:


~Talk to your baby, tell her your life story – she loves the sound of your voice

~Ask for help – and accept it!

~Tell people honestly what you need: food (prepared), to clean your house, to hold your baby while you sleep or shower

~Sleep when your baby sleeps – yes, take naps when the sun is shining

~Wear your baby – this can let you move about while still keeping her happy on your body

~Keep diapers and changing gear in more than one place – the nursery, your bedroom, the living room – so you don’t have to travel

~Set up nursing stations – a glass of water for you, snacks, a burp cloth in various areas

~Put an outgoing message on all your communications – “Hello, thank you for contacting the Smiths, we are busy bonding with our baby, please leave a message and we will call you back when we get a chance.”


Be vulnerable, take emotional risks, fall in love.



My Right Foot

March 13, 2013

The humbling reality of my situation is beginning to kick in. The Percocet is being replaced by Acetaminophen and my fog is wearing off. Last Thursday my foot was sort of reconstructed. I went to the doctor yesterday for my post-op follow-up and saw the hardware store that is my foot. There are 4 screws and my foot is swollen and bruised. In the half second that I could bare to look I saw Frankenstein. Rob was disappointed that I did not photograph the gore.

It was fascinating to see the before and after x-rays. My foot was previously at a right angle and now it is a straight line. If I was a home-schooler this could be a fun lesson in geometry.


My foot cannot touch the ground for six weeks. This is hard for an independent New Yorker and mother of three. And, it puts me out of work. As a Lactation Consultant in Private Practice offering home visits in Manhattan I cannot carry my equipment as I hobble on crutches. I am open to Skype and phone consults as well as visits in my home but most new moms prefer a home visit in their homes. I do not blame them.



When breastfeeding my third child was so challenging I saw it as an opportunity to be a better Lactation Consultant. This convalescent period will make me more sympathetic to the moms who have had a very difficult birth and have to ask for help and to rely on the kindness of others.

I am giving space for my family to get angry and frustrated. They really have to do so much for me. Rob has to get the kids ready in the morning and he makes me tea and breakfast. This, from the man who typically is out the door before the kids wake up. Phoebe has helped me bathe – remember baths? You have to have a sense of humor when you find yourself in a bathtub with your leg wrapped up to the knee in plastic hanging over the side of the tub and your children all staring down at you arguing over who will wash your hair.

Chloe comes home from school and makes me tea. I am filled with guilt at the prospect of not being able to attend her performance in the Middle School production of Bye Bye Birdie.

Finn cuddles me and throws things in the hamper and garbage for me. He gets himself dressed and ready for bed with less arguing.

I have metal water bottles placed strategically in my home.



I have had to ask friends to drive me to doctor’s appointments – thanks Julia! I have told my mother-in-law pointblank which of her delicious foods I want her to make for me. I have blatantly posted a photo of my foot on social media, which alerted my friend Liz, a Reiki Master to come work on me.

I am planning the time to work on more writing and putting together a presentation for the Museum of Motherhood Conference in May.

Look for more blog posts and come visit me if you are in the ‘hood. I like chocolate and gluten-free foods!

I don’t know many people who love going to the dentist. You know, you are reclined in the lounge chair and told to relax and keep your mouth open as someone takes metal mirrors, mini ice picks and drills and plays around inside your mouth for 30-45 minutes.


Now you want a toddler to do this? Did you see the latest installment of the Twilight Saga? Toddler vampires are illegal because they throw tantrums and kill entire villages.


Oral hygiene is very important. It can affect your entire health, good or bad. Poor oral hygiene has been linked to diabetes and heart disease.

So what are we to do about oral health of our nursing preschoolers?    The first thing to do is find a child friendly dentist and bring your baby around his first birthday.  Make sure the atmosphere is fun, not too overwhelming that they have pintsized sunglasses and silly stickers.

Be prepared for some education. I mean, you may need to educate your dentist. You may have a conversation about your nursing history. If you are nursing our baby and at night (really – does your baby actually sleep through the night?) you might get something like this:

“You should not be breastfeeding at night, it will cause dental caries. And if you do, you must wipe your baby’s teeth with a cotton gauze after each feeding.”

Does this dentist live with you? Has she ever nursed a toddler? Does she want to come over and put your baby back to sleep? Did she read the American Dental Association’s statement?

Here it is – the title is Study Finds No Association Between Breastfeeding and Early Childhood Caries

What really causes cavities? There are a few main contributing factors:

õ Diet: a diet high in sugar including dry fruit, sugary treats, especially those that are sticky and do not dissolve, fruit juices and sodas

õ The bacteria Strep mutans

õ Poor oral hygiene – both the infant and family

õ Enamel defects

õ Saliva flow:  a dry mouth is more likely to develop caries

õ Mother taking antibiotics while baby is in utero.

Bottles are different from breasts. When a child nurses at the breast the milk goes to the back of the throat – it does not pool around the teeth the way it does when a child takes a bottle.

What can you do? As with parenting in general – be a good role model. Go to the dentist regularly and brush your teeth regularly. Eat a healthy diet of whole foods. Avoid sugary foods except in small quantities and for special occasions. And, then brush your teeth!

If you have poor oral health do not share food with your child directly from your mouth. You could pass the bacteria Strep mutans to him.

There is research that strongly supports pre-mastication for babies and young children as saliva can support the immune system; however, if your mouth is full of cavities you can pass that on as well. If you have a healthy mouth bite off that piece of Granny Smith apple and feed it to your baby, if not, cut the apple.

Let your baby see you brush your teeth. Let your baby brush your teeth! Make it fun. Brush each other’s teeth.


Let your baby help you in the kitchen, in the garden, in the grocery store. These are all teaching moments. You can build upon the strong foundation you began with breastfeeding.



Babies get cavities in spite of breastfeeding not because of it.

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