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Nov 12 2014

The Surprising Benefit Breastfeeding Had for My Daughter with Autism

By at 9:58 am

How Breastfeeding Saved My Daughter With Autism's Life—And My Own

When I was 23 years old, I naturally birthed my first child, my sweet Chava Rachel. I gazed down at her in disbelief—this gorgeous little girl was mine. A perfectly round head covered in damp, dark locks, tiny fingernails almost translucent pink, as if she’d had a manicure in the womb.

As we struggled to latch those first few hours after birth, my lactation-consultant mother led me through skin-to-skin, attempts at biological nurturing, and the baby crawl. No luck. Eventually we called in for a hospital-grade pump. As my frustration mounted, my mother whispered furtively, “Let’s get out of here. Tell them you’re nursing just fine, and let’s go home.”

She and I agreed that a hospital was no place to learn to breastfeed a baby. It wasn’t until Chava’s second day of life that she finally latched on. At my mother’s suggestion, I got on all fours and lowered my breast into Chava’s mouth—success! It was painful for a few days, but with the visit of another lactation consultant we were able to get on the right path. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 1 2014

This Yom Kippur, I’m Becoming a New Kind of Overprotective Parent

By at 11:15 am


Every day that goes by, I wonder fervently if I am doing enough as a mother to protect my children from the world. This is tempered only by the worry that perhaps I am doing too much, and sheltering them in such a way that they will be unprepared as they slowly emerge into a life where Mama cannot provide justice.

Yom Kippur is most commonly translated as the “Day of Atonement.” This modern definition was derived from the Hebrew word, kofer, which refers to a “protective covering.” In the Torah, God said to Noah, “Make an ark out of gopher wood, and you shall coat it from within and from without with kofer—pitch–(a protective coating).” God knew that in order to withstand the harsh flood waters, Noah’s ark would need a protective covering to keep it and its precious inhabitants safe.

While I am protective of both my children, I will admit that my steel resolve turns to mush when it comes to my daughter. Besides being creative, adorable, and incredibly tenacious, she has special needs. Chava was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, on the autism spectrum, at age 6. We are blessed with small classrooms in our local Jewish day school, as well as a myriad of understanding teachers, administrators, and specialists. She receives help from a resource room teacher, occupational therapist, and speech therapist on a daily basis. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 24 2014

My Little Larry David Doesn’t Like My “Stop & Chats”

By at 9:58 am


“You know everyone!” I once gushed to my aunt after she exchanged hellos with a familiar face at a Tom Thumb grocery store in Dallas. She shrugged in response. “Well, I’ve lived here a long time.”

That hardly happened where we lived. Los Angeles during the 1980s was easier to navigate, since less traffic compared to today meant the city felt open for exploring. Beach every weekend? Sure! But our lives were a series of anti-local, community-defying tradeoffs. None of my school friends lived nearby. We’d drive miles to go grocery shopping at a higher quality market where we were just as likely to spot Mr. T filling up his cart than someone we actually knew in real life.

Now as an L.A. native, I see people I know around town, and I love it. (We also have great food shopping options in our own neighborhood, thankfully.) Meanwhile, as possibly a bizarre twist of karmic balance, it drives my two boys crazy when I see a friend and stop whatever we’re doing to enjoy a little conversation. “When I was your age, I WISHED that would happen,” I try to explain, this unwarranted commentary falling on deaf ears, naturally. Read the rest of this entry →


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