Breastfeeding came remarkably easily for me with both my second and third children. I was fortunate my milk supply was strong -- perhaps even a bit too strong. Leaking through those useless nursing pads happened on a daily basis. Busy prints, flattering or not, became my uniform and I didn't travel anywhere without a decorative scarf capable of camouflaging whatever excess staining the pads or prints had missed.
I was also working a very part-time, flexible schedule that allowed me, for the most part, to nurse "on demand." And the fact that both my of my younger kids were born in Madison, which I have found to have a very accepting attitude toward public breastfeeding, meant I could take them anywhere without having to worry about finding a private spot or open bathroom stall when either of them got hungry.
I breastfed my younger two not just for the health and bonding benefits, but also because I found unbuttoning my shirt and letting my little person latch on to be a whole lot easier than sterilizing bottles.
Son number one, though, was born in Chicago, which, at least in the late 1990s, wasn't quite so open to the possibility that a nipple might be flashed during a coffee shop feeding. And nursing him was further complicated by the fact that he suffered from an unusual allergy to cow's milk protein. It wasn't direct contact with cows' milk that was causing the problem, but instead an issue with my milk that stemmed from milk products I was ingesting. This meant I had to go dairy-free (very challenging for a cappuccino addict) for months.
And perhaps most difficult for me, since I was worked full-time in an office during his first year, was adapting to the ritual of pumping three times daily. I found it to be messy, uncomfortable and fairly unproductive -- I could never seem to get more than two or three ounces expressed, total, at a time.
So when my oldest was around nine months old, I gave in and began to allow my babysitter to supplement during the day with bottles of soy (he couldn't drink dairy, of course) formula. It wasn't so much that I couldn't keep up the pumping...I just didn't want to. I was tired of missing meetings and having milk leak all over my dry-clean-only blouses. I was looking for an excuse to not have to work so hard to feed my precious little guy.
So when I saw last week's Isthmus article on adoptive moms who choose to breastfeed, I was astounded. Not just by the fact that it was medically possible (I never paid much attention in biology class), but also by the lengths to which these women went to guarantee their much-longed-for infant received both the health and bonding benefits of nursing.
These women use Supplemental Nursing Systems (SNS)-- a bottle with tubes that can be taped to the nipple to provide additional milk while the baby is feeding. They tape and untape at every feeding, which means, basically, every hour on the hour. Now, that's sacrifice.
And these moms try medications, like birth control pills, and experiment with herbs that are known to enhance milk supply. There is no way I could have remembered to take a medication every day in the haze of infant parenting (which is probably one contributing factor to the fact I have three children).
But most impressive to me, these mamas pump and pump -- the bane of my existence with my first-born -- religiously. And I am guessing joyfully, as well. And to think I complained about having to do the extra laundry milk-stained shirts entailed?
Even though I didn't pay attention during class in high school, adoptive moms, you've taught me something really important about biology. In this case, that it makes certain aspects of parenting much easier and not something I should have taken for granted. And, I am truly humbled, by all you do to give your babies the beauty of breastfeeding.comments powered by Disqus
Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.
This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"
Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.
This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.
"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.
"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."
"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.
Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (Near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.
All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.
Last January, when temperatures dipped below minus 30 and most people between the ages of 16 and 24 did anything to stay inside, a small yet sturdy group of at-risk teenage boys and young men stacked wood and managed controlled burns at Festge County Park near Cross Plains. Five months later, following a temperature swing of more than 100 degrees, Isthmus found some of those same guys removing invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn at Lake View Hill County Park on Madison's north side.
The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.
Have you tried getting anywhere on either Verona Road or East Johnson lately? I'm pretty sure a six-month old could crawl to Fitchburg, or across the isthmus, in less time that it takes me to drive there these days.
As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.
For the past 17 years or so (i.e., since I've had kids), I haven't made books the priority in my life I know they should be. It's not that I don't try. Just this past weekend I had the best of intentions of picking up, and even finishing, I am Malala, this year's UW-Madison's Go Big Read pick. But the copy still sits untouched on my nightstand.
The longest day of the year is upon us. For those of you keeping track, the sun will rise at 5:18 a.m. and set at 8:41 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. All that daylight, courtesy of the annual summer solstice, will provide the perfect backdrop for Make Music Madison, a daylong event featuring hours and hours of free performances in nearly every corner of the city.
Last week, for the first time, I made my way up to one of the open gallery nights during Madison West's Fine Arts Week, the school's annual showcase for all things creative. The scope of the event is huge, with nearly 1,600 students participating, and the quality of the presented works is phenomenal. It's almost as if the school had been lifted off its perch on Regent Street and traveled back in time to Belle Époque Paris.
If you have aspiring authors in your house, this summer offers a fabulous opportunity for them refine their writing skills. For its second summer, the Greater Madison Writing Project, in partnership with Olbrich Botanical Gardens, is sponsoring two week-long camps in August for young writers entering grades 3-8.
There are lots of benefits to living in a college town. First and foremost, there is always something going on -- a lecture, a film series. Maybe even a protest, if you're lucky. And since becoming a Madisonian, I, for the first time in my life, find myself interested in college football.