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1 Dec

Disclaimer: This post is about breastfeeding because that is what I am doing.  This in no way reflects on those of you who choose/chose formula for your baby.  I am a firm believer that breastfeeding doesn’t work for everyone, so more power to ya.  However, this is what I know and experience, so please bear with me if the breastfeeding discussion doesn’t apply to you.  Thank you.

Long ago and far away, I was a yuppy working in an office.  One day, a client came in with her five-year-old son to take care of some business.  In the middle of said business, the son looked up at the client and announced, “Mommy, I want milk.” 

Now, remember, I was a clueless young woman with no intention of ever having children.  I thought he was asking for a cup of milk, so I offered to grab some from the convenience store next door.  “That’s okay,” said the client.  “He’s asking to nurse.  Do you mind if I do?”

“Mommy, I waaaaaant MIIIIIIIIILK!” the child persisted, though now that I understood what was really going on, he may as well have been speaking King James English.  Mother, prithee offer thy breast that I might not expire forthwith.  Seriously, he seemed that mature.

I said of course I didn’t mind and the mother proceeded to whip out her left breast (quite deftly, after so many years of practice) and breastfeed the child right there in my office.  Not knowing how to react, I went with my first instinct, which was to stare.  And then my second instinct: to call Jake and tell him everything.

“Freaky,” he said over the phone.  “If we ever have kids, we’ll never let it go that far, right?”

“We’re not having children, remember?” I quipped, and hung up the phone.

And now here we are, eight years later with a 22-pound, three-foot-long baby that I am breastfeeding four to five times per day. 

I think he's getting enough.

Things have definitely changed since I saw the five-year-old manchild nurse in my office.  I’m committed to breastfeeding Seabass for one year because

  1. breastmilk is the most perfect, complete food for him
  2. it’s free
  3. it’s easy (at least NOW it is – remember how hard it was before?)
  4. every medical professional and their mother says to do it for at least that long.

There’s another reason we’re sticking with breastfeeding: We both really like it.  I never thought I’d say that.  Seabass wakes up once in the middle of the night to breastfeed about two or three times per week.  Ever since he started sleeping longer stretches, I have never once minded getting up at 3am to feed him.  There is something so fulfilling, peaceful, and beautiful about a mother satisfying her child’s hunger in the quiet hours of the early morning, and I’m honored to serve Seabass that way.

Whoa.  Did I really just SAY that?!?

Anyway, even though I’m definitely enjoying breastfeeding at 6 1/2 months, I’ve been feeding Seabass solids irregularly since he hit four months of age.  I hadn’t planned on starting so early, but Dr. Awesome suggested that introducing rice cereal at four months might calm Seabass down a little.  I don’t know that it did, but he enjoys the process, and we love watching him attack the spoon with reckless abandon. 

How do the sweet potatoes wind up above his eye, I ask you?

The real adventure with solid foods isn’t so much at the mouth end of things, let me tell ya.  Since we started fruits, vegetables, and the occasional grain, this kid’s butt has been working overtime to gross us out.  My favorite poops are after he’s had quinoa grains.  They come out looking exactly like they did going in.  (Which reminds me of a story.  When my brother Dusty was a baby, I distinctly remember my mom opening his diaper one day to discover an intact rubber band.  Now he is a father of two kids of his own.  How time flies.)

I’ve heard horror stories of women who encountered crazy amounts of criticism from older generation folks who thought breastfeeding past a couple months was weird or unnecessary or unhealthy.  Thankfully, I have only received a very little bit of mild concern on this front, usually because someone was worried about my mental health and independence.  (Seabass won’t take a bottle, so we’re pretty much joined at the hip, er, boob.)

But what if Seabass and I decide to nurse for another few years?  What would people say then?  At a pre-birth breastfeeding class, the lactation educator said that many babies across the world nurse until their seventh birthday.  SEVEN YEARS OLD?  That’s the year I started piano lessons.  I’m sorry: If Seabass can play the Can-Can Polka on the piano and he’s still nursing, I authorize you to confront me on it.

I have a dear friend who was committed to nursing her baby until he turned one year, but even now at fifteen months, they’re still going strong.  “I only nurse him once when he wakes up and once when he goes down at night,” she says.  “I don’t know how I’m still producing milk for such a small bit of nursing, but we’ll keep going until I dry up or he decides he doesn’t want it anymore.”

I don’t know if I can be that selfless.  Much as I enjoy nursing my baby, I’m very much looking forward to being able to leave him with someone for longer than an hour and a half.  But who knows?  Maybe I’ll be too whistful for Seabass’ babyhood to stop at one year.  It’s entirely possible.

Enough outta me.  What do you think?  When did/will you stop breastfeeding and why?

Seven reasons nursing humans have it better than nursing hogs

12 Oct

And I thought I had it bad. Photo courtesy of

Go ahead: count ’em. 

This post is dedicated to all you nursing mothers out there.  In the words of Kathleen Huggins and Jan Ellen Brown, congratulations on joining a sorority of women across the ages who have succeeded in putting someone else before themselves.

And the winner is…

29 Jul

Marta from Minnesota, you have won the signed copy of Kathleen Huggins’ celebrated book, The Nursing Mother’s Companion.  Woot!

To the rest of you who signed up as subscribers, I will do my best not to disappoint you with weary tales from early motherhood.  Stay on the scene.


Shameless Bribery

21 Jul


Seabass and I are pretty shocked at the interest we’ve received from readers around the world.  I had no idea that exposing the blase innards of my new mommy heart would attract such a crowd.  Thank you for the 5,000 hits and 200-something comments that it took me well over 2 hours of Seabass’ nap to read through.  What fun!

Seabass is one serious fuss monkey today (I think I had too much dairy in my WHITE SAUCE, TRIPLE CHEESE LASAGNA, do you?) so I’m going to make this post quick.  Putting on my mercenary hat:

All new subscribers to Higher Highs, Lower Lows by next Wednesday, July 28 will be entered to win a signed copy of the newly-released 6th edition of The Nursing Mother’s Companion by Kathleen Huggins.

And by “new subscribers” I mean anyone I didn’t already know before getting Freshly Pressed.

Back to the circus…

Lactation Lamentation

30 Jun

Breastfeeding is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, hands down.  Never have I heard so much advice and theorizing from well-meaning people.  Who knew my chest would ever be the topic of such heated discussion?

Seabass has never been a champ at the breast.  First he was too sleepy, which diminished my milk supply.  So the lactation consultants got us into a regimen of putting him on the breast as much as possible before eventually pumping and bottle-feeding the remains while simultaneously taking a milk-supply-enhancing herb supplement that made me smell like maple syrup.  Exhausting.  I was like a sleep-walking pancake breakfast.

And oh, the shame!  Not only was I spending up to 90 minutes feeding my baby before starting again an hour later, but I felt less than a woman for not holding up my end of the baby/mommy feeding agreement.  I envied – and still do envy – those for whom it all comes naturally.

Then Seabass woke up and started eating more, all of his own accord.  Yay!  At the same time, he also started screaming bloody murder between feedings, sometimes to the point where he couldn’t calm down enough to eat.  Boo.  Lactation consultants:  “It has to be something you’re eating that’s irritating him.  How about you go off of corn, wheat, dairy, soy, nuts, chocolate, caffeine and most fruits and vegetables?  And if that doesn’t work, we’ll try taking you off water and oxygen next week.”  Me: “Youbetcha, that sounds perfectly reasonable!”

And alas, it isn’t anything I’m eating that’s making him the fuss monkey, colicky baby he is anyway.  It’s just him. It’s not my diet.  Not the detergent we use.  Not his sleep schedule.  Not the weather.  Not the stress I’m under or the way we SHUSH and SWADDLE and SWING this little guy.

When he is eating well, I love love love nursing.  I’ve never had a symbiotic relationship like this before, and it truly is a gift from God…when it works.  It’s beautiful to stroke C’s little neck, rock back and forth and sing little weird made-up songs to him while he chows down.  It feels ancient and pure.  And I guess it makes up for all the times that he is a tomato-red howling banshee coming on or off the breast, sending me into tears and tempting Jake to fetch a pen and the adoption papers.

No, in this new economy of parenthood, whatever’s best for C is worth the trouble.

All-Natural Dog Treat

29 Jun

C’s third week in this world is a blur to me now, but one moment does stand out.

It is 3am and I am nursing our little guy in a sleep-deprived idiot stupor.  I finish up, dim the lights (with the handy remote control dimmer my smart husband installed) and get up to put C down in his crib.  Something falls to the ground with a *clink,* but I can’t see it and frankly, at 3am, a bomb could go off next door and nary so much as an eyebrow would have raised.  The only things that matter: Sleep.  Bed.  No more consciousness.

The next morning, I am sitting in the rocking chair nursing C again and I spy something black and twisty on the floor.  It is C’s umbilical cord, which had been hanging by a thread on his belly button for a lot longer than expected.  Well good, I think.  It’s about time that thing fell off.  I’ll pick it up when I’m done here.

Just then, our dog Murphy (who had been shell-shocked since the arrival of this new, screaming demon) sniffs in the direction of the umbilical cord on the ground.  “No, Murph!” I snap, probably a little too harshly.  He slinks out of the room and I return my attention to nursing.

Minutes tick by.  C is still eating when I notice that Murph is back in the general vicinity of the fallen umbilical cord, and he is chewing.  And chewing.  Something very rubbery is in his mouth and he appears to be enjoying it thoroughly.

“Drop it!” I yell, but it is too late.  The dog has unceremoniously eaten our son’s umbilical cord.  We are now officially one with our dog.