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Nov 24 2014

How Motherhood Broke My Spirit (In a Good Way)

By at 2:28 pm

How Motherhood Broke My Spirit

When I had my first child, I was 35 years old. I had left home for college at 17, over half my life ago. I’d supported myself since college graduation. Granted, my career as a musician and writer was not the typical “adult” path. Still, I certainly felt like a grown-up.

And then I had a kid.

Now, before you jump to conclusions, let me say a few things. I’m talking about me, not you. Many of my dearest friends don’t have kids, and they are far more mature than I will ever be. It may well be that I was particularly immature before I became a mother. It may well be that I still am. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 18 2014

Baby-Led Weaning is Pretty Much the Best Thing Ever

By at 2:20 pm

penrose

I love to cook and I love to feed people. At the theatre commune where I interned during college, I was the one who baked the vegan cookies for the Tuesday night “Shapenote Sings.” The happy stress of preparing the seder for 20 of my closest non-Jewish friends is the highlight of my spring. I love cooking so much that in the summer, when I could be relaxing and enjoying my time off, I run a small bakery and breakfast restaurant. I assume it comes with the territory of being Jewish, although my Italian grandmother-in-law stakes a big claim to the food-is-love territory, too.

My daughter Penrose is 6 months old, which means it’s time for her to start eating solids. I take all things cooking and eating seriously, and so after talking with friends and doing some reading, my husband and I decided to go with Baby-Led Weaning. And as disdainful as I can be of capital-letter parenting methods, this is one I’m on board with all the way. For the uninitiated, BLW entails giving appropriately sized and seasoned (with no or very low salt) pieces of food (no honey, egg whites or peanut products for now) to a baby for them to play with, drop, feed to the dog, or eat as they see fit. No spoon-feeding, no rice gruel. Lots of mess and actually, lots of fun. Read the rest of this entry →

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 →

Sep 17 2014

How Do I Stop Feeling Guilty About My Sleepless Baby?

By at 9:56 am

sleep-baby

Sleep, baby, sleep.

Penrose is 4 months old. She babbles, laughs, grabs her feet, rolls over, bangs on her xylophone, and does not want to go to sleep.

I should have known that I was setting myself up to fail when, weeks one through 12, when people asked, “And does she sleep?” I would respond, “She sleeps!” She did, two, three, four, even six hours at a stretch. But suddenly, at 12 weeks, she stopped. When I put her in her crib after nursing her at night she would suddenly tense up and start hollering. Even if she slept on me, at 2 in the morning she would start scootching around, crying, and almost always spit up right into my nursing bra. Co-sleeping in the trundle bed in her room, the safest spot in the house, works. Driving her around works–she’s slept through the night, a whole 11 hours straight, twice now following “snooze cruises.” And once, mysteriously, we set her down in her crib at my parents’ house and she peacefully drifted off and stayed asleep for 11 hours. It’s worked a few times to sing her to sleep, massage her to sleep, play the piano or guitar until she goes to sleep. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 27 2014

Ask a Sleep Coach: How Do I Wean My Child Off of Co-Sleeping?

By at 8:34 pm

sleeping-toddler

Dear Batya,



My son is 28 months. My goal is to have him sleep in his own room, in his own lovely bed, to NOT wake up every two hours asking for milk, and to sleep through the night. I have literally been woken up every two hours for the last 28 months and I’m exhausted. 

Some background: I had a C-section that ruptured on the INSIDE (it was horrible) and was not diagnosed right away. As a result, I literally could not lie down and sleep in a bed and I was having a lot of trouble with my balance, so I slept in a recliner with the baby on my chest. I nursed on demand. At one month post-partum, my condition was finally recognized. At two months post-partum, I endured a long surgery to rebuild and fix my abdomen. When I came home from the hospital, I started to co-sleep (since I wasn’t that mobile). We put guardrails on the bed and removed pillows, etc. It was amazing. I was able to get a good night’s sleep, I was nursing on demand, baby was happy, etc.

My husband, however, feels that it has been two years and it’s time for Jacob to be in his own bed. I am really starting to wholeheartedly agree. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 15 2014

Ricki Lake’s New Documentary Shows a Whole Lot of Boobs

By at 1:30 pm

Rikki-Lakes

Since becoming a mom, Ricki Lake has been cranking out feminist-y documentaries about birth and family planning like it’s nobody’s business.

In 2008, she partnered with director Abby Epstein to make a documentary about homebirth and midwivery called “The Business of Being Born,” followed up by a well-received book about birthing options titled “Your Best Birth.” Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 6 2014

Olivia Wilde Breastfeeds Naked Baby in Glamour Photo Spread

By at 2:47 pm

Olivia-Wilde

Olivia Wilde (who is 1/64th Sephardi Jew, according to Wikipedia) is the cover girl in Glamour’s September issue. But one photo in particular is getting lots of attention. Dressed in a couture flapper-style dress, Wilde is pictured breastfeeding her naked 4-month-old Otis at a table in an old school diner.

It’s always great to see more celebrities breastfeeding in public, but I’m pretty worried about that baby, to be honest. Why is he naked? Isn’t he cold? Isn’t Mama Wilde worried about her overpriced frock getting sprayed down with urine, or is there a Peepee Teepee under there?

Olivia explains in the interview: Read the rest of this entry →

Why Was Breastfeeding So Much Harder the Third Time Around?

By at 12:06 pm

breastfeeding-third

Readers beware: This post has a little TMI regarding nipples. There, you’ve been warned. 

I successfully nursed two baby boys. They each got one year of the good stuff before they weaned to whole milk. I regularly got calls from friends, and friends of friends, who were having nursing problems. I was the resident expert–always proud and happy to help.

While pregnant with my third child, a girl, nursing issues were never on my radar. After all, I had two solid years under my belt. I worried about balancing three kids while recovering from a C-section. But not once did I consider that my biggest obstacle would be the painful, frustrating, and exhausting mission of nursing this baby. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 28 2014

How My Daughter’s Frustrating Nursing Habits Changed My Perspective

By at 11:01 am

breastfeeding-comfort

My 5-month-old daughter has recently decided that she’ll only nurse in bed. The big bed, the one that she shares with her father and me at night. If you’d asked me a few months ago whether it was possible for a 5-month-old to make such decisions, I would have laughed. A few weeks into motherhood, I was the type of mother who brashly vacuumed around my sleeping baby. I’d declare that a child with particular preferences probably had parents who overindulged her.

But then the 4-month-sleep regression hit; my pudgy girl, once a champion sleeper who could drift off to dreams anywhere, began to succumb to a peculiar, shallower sleep. She woke every 90 minutes at night. She stirred when the cat groomed himself across the room. Once we napped in the kitchen, on the sofa, in the bathroom in her Rock’n’Play. Now desperate for daytime sleep, I set her down in our darkened bedroom, pulling the black-out curtains shut.

She slept better during the day, and so slept better at night. And yet soon, despite improved sleep, she no longer wanted to nurse anywhere and everywhere, either. At 4.5 months old, she was now awake, aware of the wonders of the world around her. The pattern on the table cloth. The computer where mommy’s hands flew over the keyboard. The mug of coffee perched on the counter. The light outside our kitchen window. I’d started to put her in the cradle hold and she’d thrash around, hungering for the activity of the world around her instead. If I could get her to latch, she’d eat happily. But getting there was a struggle. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 15 2014

Ask a Sleep Coach: Cutting Out Baby’s Midnight Snack

By at 4:18 pm

Midnight-feeding

Dear Batya,

I have a 6-month-old and, thank God, she is an incredibly happy and cheerful baby. She is now eating solids and she is on a predictable daytime sleeping and eating schedule. She goes to sleep without difficulty, however, she still does wake at least once a night. I have let her cry it out several times, but she can scream for hours if I let her. She also doesn’t take a pacifier. If I give her an ounce or two (not more) of formula, she’ll go right back down to sleep. How can I cut out the midnight snack?

Thank you! Read the rest of this entry →

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