Friday, February 15, 2019

Gory Details About Breastfeeding

A mother's milk doesn't come in until 3 to 4 days after the baby is born. In the meantime, the baby sucks very small amounts of colostrum from the breast. Some hospitals give baby formula. I hear in the olden days, Moms gave their babies water while waiting for their milk to come in. 

Being stressed out or tense can delay the milk from coming in.

When the milk does come in, it hurts. It feels like someone tried to stuff too many oranges under your skin. 

Letdowns—a reflex that releases milk from the breast, usually activated by the baby sucking—can hurt too. It feels like someone pressing on a bruise from the inside mixed with a tingling-like, appendage-just-fell-asleep sensation.

When nursing and experiencing a letdown, both breasts release milk, and if you're not wearing nursing pads, you may leak onto your clothes. 

Letdowns occur even when not nursing or even thinking about your baby. They happen when you aren't ready and aren't wearing nursing pads.

Even if your nipples stick out like the nose on a balloon animal, the baby will stretch them out further with a suck that is far more powerful than a Dyson with a crevice tool attachment. 

Not all women are built equally. Some are just not designed to nurse.

Breastmilk is sticky, and learning to breastfeed is messy. Changing outfits several times a day is normal, especially when you don't have several breastfeeding-compatible outfits to wear.

Bottles of freshly pumped breastmilk have the propensity to tip over and spill all across your laptop, your outfit, your car, or down the stairs, bouncing and splattering all the way.

Pumped breastmilk separates as the cream rises to the top. I hear it is a viable substitute to milk in any recipe. No, I haven't tried.

Just because the baby slept 6 hours doesn't mean Mama did, especially if you've been nursing every 2-3 hours around the clock for the last 6 weeks. Chances are you'll wake up in the middle of the night with full nursing pads, damp sheets, the sweats, and aching breasts that feel as hard as softballs. 

Babies bite while nursing, even before they have teeth. And that hurts like the dickens.

Babies slap, scratch, and kick while nursing.

Babies can suck your nipples off if the latch isn't right. And, by the way, your blood isn't harmful to the baby's digestion.

Babies sometimes favor one breast over the other, which unless counteracted can lead to one breast being significantly larger than the other.

One breast alone can produce enough milk for a baby. Two breasts can produce enough milk for twins. Don't ask me about triplets. I don't know. 

After nursing, breasts don't always shrink back to their normal size. They frequently shrivel to smaller than their original size.

Nursed-on breasts sag and lose their perkiness.

And since you asked, yes, I am a proponent to breastfeeding. I attempted to breastfeed my first baby back in 2012, but after 3 months of pumping and bottles, I decided it wasn't worth it. With my second, I made another attempt with far more research and support. After many tears and lots of gore, I succeeded with one breast. I was lopsided for the year that I nursed. Now with baby number 3, I finally succeeded to get both sides functioning semi-normally. 

I've learned that breastfeeding can be convenient, sorta-sweet, and the most inexpensive option available. But if it's not working out for you, for Heaven's sake, just give the baby a bottle! They'll live. And after you get over mother's-guilt, everyone will be much happier.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Library Finds: Great Books for Children

I Will Love You Anyway by Mick Inkpen. A great rhyming book with illustrations that really capture the attitude of a hyper little dog. The story can also be used as a spring board to talk about how parents love their children or how God loves us, but certainly I don't think it was intended to do this. (Book Rating: 8)

The Empty Pot and The Greatest Treasure by Demi. I was very impressed with these Chinese parable-like books that teach honesty and contentment and the proper handling of money. The pictures have plenty for children to explore and the morals didn't feel contrived or forced. (Book Rating: 8)

The High Street by Alice Melvin: Another great rhyming book with opening flaps and things for children to find. I like the old-timey illustrations. It's about a girl who's going to various shops to find different things to buy. (Book Rating: 8)

Return by Aaron Becker: I've previously lauded this author and his wordless prequels: Journey and Quest .This one is the third in the series starring a child with magic chalk who ventures out of the city through a magical colored door into a fantasy land. This story has a sweet reference to Mary Poppins that I appreciated. (Book Rating: 10)

The Great Sheep Shenanigans by Peter Bently: Philip and I are suckers for rhyming books, especially ones with villains that get their comeuppance.  This one has some humor in it that adults can appreciate too. (Book Rating: 7)

Who Done It? and Who, What, Where? by Olivier Tallec: Very clever mystery-type books for ages 3 and up. Each page asks the reader to solve a problem. Who tipped over the paint? Who got a little too crazy jumping on the bed? Who forgot their jacket? Then the reader must study the possible suspects to find the answers. Simple clear illustrations. (Book Rating: 9)

Uh Oh Octopus by Eli Van Lieshout: This book inadvertently teaches about advice giving and good listening. It can also be about listening to our conscience if you tweak the rather Disney-esque ending.  The story is about an octopus that is wondering what to do about an intruder. It seeks the help of various sea creatures who give both absurd and unhelpful answers. (Book rating: 7)

Hogwash by Karma Wilson: Great rhyming book about a farmer who is trying to give his pigs a bath. It's not only fun to read but also a good reminder to stop trying so hard to keep your own little pigs clean. Lee especially likes the tomfoolery in this book. (Book rating: 7)

I Had Trouble ing Getting to Solla Sollew by Dr. Seuss: This book is so fun to read, just rolls off the tongue. Phil liked the last stanza so much that he wrote it on a big stick he keeps next to his bed. (Book rating: 10)

Tiger and Badger by Emily Jenkins: This is a good book to talk about fighting between siblings. Tiger and Badger are arguing every other page, but just like typical preschoolers, they are back to being friends almost immediately. Sweet and whimsical watercolor pictures. The text is simple and not tiresome upon multiple readings. (Book Rating: 8)

Little Rabbit and the Meanest Mother on Earth by Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise: Naturally, I love a book that defends mothers and the consequences that they give their little rabbits. The plot to this one builds in a clever way. I appreciate the employment of natural consequences. Again, a good book to open conversation about parents and children. Interesting and detailed pictures. (Book Rating: 9)

Mucumber McGee and the Half-Eaten Hot Dog by Patrick Loehr: A fun rhyming story about a boy who believes he's going to die because he ate a raw hot dog. The pictures are rather dark—like the Adams Family. I like the lesson at the end the most. "The next time your stomach is growling and empty, don't dig in the fridge or the cupboards or pantry . . . Don't listen to others like sister or bothers . . . Next time you are hungry go ask your mothers." (Book Rating: 6)

That Cat Can't Stay by Thad Krasnesky: Yes, it rhymes. Phil and I both liked this book even though I like cats and he doesn't. The story features a family that keeps adopting cats much to the father's distress. (Book rating: 7)

Friday, February 8, 2019

Kids in Bigger Bodies

Why does it feel like I'm giving myself instructions whenever I raise my voice at my children to shout, "Would everyone stop yelling at each other!" 

This mothering business is like looking into those 3D hidden pictures where I have to cross my eyes to see the picture pop out, but this hidden picture is a portrait of myself. My kids are little mini-versions of myself. And I don't mean that they look like me or even that they have similar personalities as me. I mean that adults are just kids in bigger bodies. Here's what I mean. 

"Mommy? Can I use your scissors?"



"Because last time you used them, you didn't put them away."

"But I'll put them away this time."

"You didn't put them away last time and I even reminded you."

"But I really need them."

"Too bad."

"How about I use them just to cut this little piece?"


"But I will put them away."

"And what if you don't?"

"You can put me on time out for a hundred hours. Can I use them now?"

I have these conversations several times a week, not only with my five-year-old but God.

"God, can I have a pristine home?"



"Because that's not the most important thing right now."

"But what if I do all the work myself?"

"I don't think you want to spend your time like that these days."

"But I really need something that looks nice and new in order to be happy. It gives me peace of mind."

"It does?"

"How about I organize when the kids are at school?"


"But I won't be bulldozing anyone."

"And what will you do when the kids get home from school."

"I won't be angry when they mess it up. Really. Can I?"

Here's another example. I see Rose attempting to pour her own cereal again, and I jump to stop her.

"I wanna pour my milk!" she bawls.

"No. You pour too much and then you spill it and I have to clean it up."

That's when Lee pipes up from his side of the table. "I don't spill my milk."

He reminds me of a conversation I had with a mom friend. She was telling me how she's trying to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into her family's diet and encourage her kids to go outside and exercise. Without thinking, I reply, "Yeah, that's not really something we struggle to do. We grew up eating healthy and playing outside so we don't deal with that."

Then there's the time that we were climbing into the car, and Lee crawls over to Rose's side and pulls a Where's Waldo book out of the seat pocket. Rose started squealing. "Lee! I wanna look at that book!"—which I know is not true because she hasn't wanted to look at a book for the last dozen car trips. She just wants it because Lee wants it. 

This incident reminds me of when I hear about single people having a great night out on the town. I grow resentful—which is funny because if I had a night off, I wouldn't want to spend it out; I'd want to sit in bed and drink tea and write by myself—but regardless, I'm annoyed at those free single people simply because they can do it and I can't.

Or take the instance when we have a playdate with some boys, and Rose goes chasing after them saying, "Lars! Look a my dolly! She has a nice dress on. Lars, look at my headband. It's sparkling. Lars, look at my new boots!" And I think, Oh no! She's chasing after boys already and trying to get them interested in her and her things, but the boys just want to ride bikes. They're not interested in her girly things. That's not the way to play with boys.

Then I recall times I've hung out with teenagers, and I've peppered them with questions trying to get them to talk to me and relate, and I've simply ended up with short answers and shrugs. Or there are times when I've presented myself as a bubbly, vivacious personality for the sake of pleasing others and what resulted is exhaustion and forced conversation and sometimes resentment in me because no one seems to be recognizing my efforts. "Look at my dolls, boys!"

Then there are the times that Rose comes to me throughout the day telling me her woes. "Mommy, my teacher spoke harshly to me today." "Mommy, I bumped my head right here." "Mommy, I have a cough." "Mommy, this little finger has a splinter. You can't really see it, but it's there." And she wants to put bandaids on everything regardless of whether they're bleeding or not.

And I'm reminded of the list of woes I dumped onto one of my mom friends. "It's just really hard because I have to get the kids up and then I have to feed Benny. And while they can eat breakfast by themselves, they leave the kitchen such a mess, and I don't have time to do the dishes before we get out the door because I have to make Lee's lunch. And then he complains about not liking what I pack him."

My mom-friend blinked at me and replied in a monotone voice. "Sounds really hard." It was her lack of expression that caused me to laugh at myself. This is just life. This is what everyone with three kids has to do. I can't expect others to put bandaids on all my woes, which aren't really woes at all but the normal discomforts of life.

I could go on. My daughter enjoys telling her older brother what he's supposed to be doing. When the baby accidentally knocks over my son's tower, he decides everyone's tower needs to be knocked over. And my baby will stop in the middle of his play to look at me and wait for my smile. After I give it, he goes back to playing. My older kids do this too. My daughter presents all her artwork to me. My son calls upon me to witness the reenactment of a crash between a Lego ship and a Hot Wheels car. They want me to smile at their play. I think they even want me to smile at their naughtiness. 

This one in particular resonates with me.

I want to know that someone's smiling at me. Even if I'm complaining. Even if I yell at my children. Even if I don't fix dinner or get a single thing organized or am late to taking the children to school. Is there someone still smiling at me? Is there someone who is still pleased with me?

Yes. There is.

"The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us! There is no way! No trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture . . . None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us." (Romans 8:34-39 MSG)