This is one cute book. Authors Shannon Payette Seip and Adrienne Hedger have hit the proverbial nail on the head with “If These Boobs Could Talk: A Little Humor to Pump Up The Breastfeeding Mom.” With games, trivia questions, top ten lists and mock advice, they prove that breastfeeding has its light side.
My favorite part of the book is illustrations of slightly unconventional breastfeeding holds. You’ve got “The Yogi”– a mom setting the microwave with one hand, writing a note with the other, doing “tree pose” while her baby hangs off her boob. Another good one is “The Wiper”– a mom wiping the tush of one child on the toilet while her baby has a little snack. You get the idea.
To learn more, visit their website If Boobs Could Talk.
Andi in the news
Watch Andi on the CBS Early Show: Click here.
Watch Andi on The NBC NIGHTLY NEWS: Click here.
Watch Andi on THE TODAY SHOW: Click here.
Here’s a cool one… a fellow blogger recently brought this to my attention.
Lamaze International has put “Mama Knows Breast: A Beginner’s Guide to Breastfeeding” on its 2008 list of Recommended Resources for Pregnant Women and Their Families.
To see the full list, click on Lamaze.org. Look for the center left column (For Expectant Parents) and the flashing “NEW” icon.
When my book “Mama Knows Breast: A Beginner’s Guide to Breastfeeding” came out last fall, I did a “virtual book tour” on the site Mother-Talk. Now, I’m on the other end of a book tour. I’m reviewing “The Sky Isn’t Visible From Here,” by Felicia Sullivan.
Typically, I write about parenting matters, and more specifically breastfeeding. So this is a major diversion for me. “Sky” is not about babies or kids. Not even close. But it is, in excruciating detail, an example of how parenting styles indelibly mark, and in the worst cases, deeply scar, children. It’s a memoir, and Felicia Sullivan describes growing up in Brooklyn and eventually succeeding on her own in Manhattan.
Here’s the book’s description from Felicia’s website:
Felicia Sullivan’s volatile, beautiful, deceitful, drug-addicted mother disappeared on the night Sullivan graduated from college, and has not been seen or heard from in the ten years since. Sullivan, who grew up on the tough streets of Brooklyn in the 1980s, now looks back on her childhood—lived among drug dealers, users, and substitute fathers. Sullivan became her mother’s keeper, taking her to the hospital when she overdosed, withstanding her narcissistic rages, succumbing to the abuse or indifference of so-called stepfathers, and always wondering why her mother would never reveal the truth about the father she’d never met.
Ashamed of her past, Sullivan invented a persona to show the world. Yet despite her Ivy League education and numerous accomplishments, she, like her mother, eventually succumbed to alcohol and drug abuse. She wrote The Sky Isn’t Visible from Here, a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, when she realized it was time to kill her own creation.
While that description just about says it all, it doesn’t convey the emotion within the pages. I first picked up the book as I was supposed to be getting ready to take my son to school. I stood in the bathroom, wrapped in a towel, toothbrush sticking out of my mouth, transfixed. I had intended to read just one page of the prologue, but I couldn’t stop. We just barely made it to school on time that day.
Sullivan has the ability to make the reader both see, and feel, her world. There are paragraphs like this:
A week before my twelfth birthday, I woke to the smell of buttermilk pancakes and brown butter. I could hear skillets crackling and hissing. I tiptoed into the kitchen to find my mother cooking me an elaborate breakfast. Sugared blueberries, raspberries, and diced bananas spilled out of small glass bowls. Fried sausage links and hotcakes topped with rich maple syrup covered my plate. The abundance of food irked me. We’d been living on thirty-nine-cent packets of Oodles of Noodles for two weeks…In my room, double knotting my shoelaces, I wondered what my mother wanted from me. (page 147).
And there are the heartbreaking passages:
Sometimes people ask, Would I find her if I could, don’t I want to find her, doesn’t she want to be found and forgiven? As if it’s up to me alone to find her. To make mother and daughter whole. People take comfort in these reconciliation stories; they can’t manage the black and white of it, the possibility that love can be extinguished, that, when continuously tested, love can dissolve. Love is conditional…With her, love and fear were one and the same, with every kiss came a pinprick, with every hug came a lashing out. My mother was my first hurt. (p. 24-25)
At the end of the book, Sullivan describes spending time with her mother when things seemed less chaotic, and even fun. It would have been interesting to read more about this period Sullivan labels “before cocaine.” Additional descriptions of the days before her mother’s drug addiction took over might have added yet another layer of complexity to the book. Even so, the struggle to reconcile good and bad memories of the same person is clear.
We all have our hurts and secret agonies. We all have frustrations. Especially when it comes to our parents. Sometimes we share these thoughts with other people. Sometimes we don’t. It takes a lot of energy to analyze yourself, and even more, to put these thoughts into words. Not to mention words that other people might want to read. Quite honestly, I don’t know how writers like Sullivan do it.
For more information, you can visit Sullivan’s blog here.
And to read the other blogger reviews, go to Mother-Talk.
The website Boldfacers.com recently interviewed me, and the story (click here) has some of the best breastfeeding puns you’ll ever come across. It all starts with the headline, “She’s Stacked, Baby.” Now why didn’t I think of that?
If that’s not your thing…just surf around the site to find profiles of people doing pretty cool stuff in all sorts of fields…people like a sneaker designer, a landscape architect and a jazz club founder.
Now click here to watch this video.
When our first son was born I kept a meticulous journal of his feedings. I’d note the time he ate, which breast he ate from, and how long he fed. I also marked down wet and dirty diapers. I was on top of things, and pretty proud of myself. At least I was, until his pediatrician more or less dismissed my note taking. I handed him a copy of the log, and he gave it right back to me. “I don’t need this,” he said. But look at all my hard work, I felt like saying back to him. Look, even my handwriting is neat!
What I realize now, is that he was essentially saying, your son is fine. He’s peeing and pooping and most importantly gaining weight– you can relax.
But fast forward to our second son, I did the same thing again. I kept a journal for a couple of weeks because I found it helped me keep track of what was going on. In a post-delivery fog, and sleep-deprived state, it helped me to remember when he ate. It was especially important because he was a sleepy baby, and I had to wake him to make sure he ate frequently enough.
So, I still like the idea of keeping notes for a little while, at least. And I’m sure some moms do it longer. That’s why I was excited to get a copy of this journal from Random House. “Time to Feed: A Journal for Recording Your Baby’s Feeding Schedule” is a great gift for a new mom. In fact, I just gave it to a friend today. It has simple entry spaces for each feeding, whether its boob or bottle, breast milk or formula. Best of all, there is a basic guide to breastfeeding at the back of the book, written by La Leche League.
Sometimes you come across a book with a truly clever title and it seems to jump off the shelf. Well here’s one of those books for you, bOObs: A Guide to Your Girls. Through blogging I’ve gotten to be friends with the author, Elisabeth Squires. She also has a blog, The bOOb Lady’s Blog.
So this month, as part of the Breastfeeding Bloggers’ Carnival, I’m reviewing Elisabeth’s book. The other blog posts are book reviews as well. This should give you some gift-giving ideas as we dive head first in the holiday season.
“bOObs” is a book about every breast related topic you can think of– buying the right sized bra, getting a mammogram, coping with breast disease, having breast surgery, exercising comfortably, “exposing your girls” and even accepting the changes that come with age. Throughout the book, Squires debunks myths, gives historical perspectives on breasts and has fun quotes from women of all ages and breast-sizes. There are gems like this one: “Breasts are like avocados. At twenty, they aren’t quite ripe, at thirty they’re perfect, and at forty they are overly ripe. –36B, age 44.”
Of course, there is an entire chapter on the pregnant and nursing boob. Squires takes a realistic and informative perspective on breastfeeding, and has sound practical advice like this: “Toward the end of your pregnancy, around your eighth month, you’ll want to invest in three good nursing bras. At a minimum, you want one to wear and one to spare, while the third will typically be in the wash. Some women also choose to wear a cotton nursing bra at night.”
Squires did her research for this book. (I’ve got to ask her how many years or months she spent on this). It’s a long book– the 290 pages includes an index, footnotes and book and web resources. And finally, she even has your own personal “Boob Journal.” This will help you record your bra sizes, dates of mammograms, “mammoirs” (aka memories) and drawings of your breasts. Of course there are also detailed instructions on doing a monthly breast self-exam.
Bottom line, this is a great gift for your sister, cousin, mom or aunt. (It’s probably a bit much for a young teenage girl). Just mention the title and you’ll find yourself having a fun conversation.
Now for the other blogs participating in the Carnival:
The True Face of Birth has a review of my own book, “Mama Knows Breast.”
The International Breastfeeding Symbol Blog reviews The Baby Book and Unconditional Parenting.
Hobo Mama reviews Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent.
Breastfeeding Mums blog and The Motherwear Blog both review too many books for me to list here. Just click to their sites. They’ve found some real gems, including my book . Thanks, once again, ladies!
On School Street reviews Blindsided by a Diaper: Over 30 Men and Women Reveal How Parenthood Changes a Relationship.
Tales of Life with a Girl on the Go reviews the children’s book The Best Gifts.
James and The Giant Moose Blog has a review of Having Faith: An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood.
Breastfeeding123 reviews Baby Matters.
Crunchy Domestic Goddess reviews the video What Babies Want.
Here’s what I’ve found recently:
About.com has a new breastfeeding Guide. Melissa Nagin is a lactation consultant in New York City. Click here for her bio. She has a great post right now on how she tried to teach her son economics using breastfeeding to illustrate the concept of supply and demand. (Full disclosure, my husband works at About, but I promise, he had nothing to do with this post!)
Jennifer at the Black Breastfeeding Blog, who I’ve mentioned before, has added a cool new audio function to her blog. (She’s using utterz). If you want to hear the sound of her lovely voice, you can check out a review she posted of my book.
Finally, take a look at The Well Mom. Former ABC News Anchor Heather Cabot is running this site. The Well Mom aims to help moms take care of themselves while they are taking care of everyone else, too. She has a fantastic post on her site now about post-partum depression, and legislative efforts to increase funding for PPD research and outreach to moms. Heather also recently interviewed me about my book. Click here to read her piece.
When I finally finished writing Mama Knows Breast, I naively asked the publisher if I was going on a book tour. She must have thought I was a total idiot…or entirely self-centered…to ask that question. Seems that today book tours are reserved for the heavy hitters. And that’s where the internet steps in for the common folk.
The NYT Style section ran a piece a few weeks ago on the increasing popularity of the “virtual book tour.” In other words, authors sit at home (in my case, sporting an apple sauce coated t-shirt), and visit blogs and websites to promote their book. Sometimes the blogger writes about the book; sometimes the author does a guest blog post.
In a sense, I’ve been doing a virtual book tour on my own for the past couple of weeks– thank you to all the lovely bloggers who have kindly reviewed my book. And now, I’m also doing something a little more formal through a website called Mother-Talk.com. Mother-Talk has a post about my book, a “backstory” that I wrote, and links to 10 bloggers who are doing reviews all this week.
Throughout the week I’ll put links here to each of the 10 blogs, and pull quotes, as they post:
Oct 1: Stirrup Queens writes a review, as well as her story about how, after the birth of her twins, she never produced enough milk. After trying every suggested remedy under the sun, she eventually found out, through blood tests, that the problem was due to low prolactin levels. She also draws parallels between the emotional challenges of both fertility treatments and breastfeeding problems. There are a lot of people leaving comments to her post. Check it out.
And Making Things Up, who is having her fourth baby any day now, has this to say: “The text’s layout is practical for the brand-new mom: the author wisely makes use of lists and short sections, so you can set down the book at a moment’s notice without feeling lost when you come back.”
Suburban Turmoil writes: “I especially enjoyed the “From the mouths of moms” blurbs, with first-person tales from the trenches that were often hilarious and reminiscent of my own breastfeeding experiences.”
Oct 3: A Vocational Duality says “The section on nursing etiquette is wonderful in its detail, including comebacks for nosey critics. Likewise her kick in the pants about comparing oneself to celebrities who have personal trainers, chefs, and nannies that most of us can’t afford.”
Life as Lou says, “Silverman captures the perfect tone of encouragement and support, while keeping a realistic perspective. This book is the perfect blend of help and humor, and I absolutely recommend it.” And while you’re on her site, you’ve got to check out the gorgeous photos Lou posted of Manti, UT on October 3rd.
Family Living: Hatfield Style says “(T)his book actually dares to talk about sex and breastfeeding, a question on many mom’s minds that isn’t addressed in many print books and seems taboo to ask your neighbor. My Husband read this section with interest.“
Vivirlatino says “[Mama Knows Breast] may well be one of the best books on the subject out there.
Ask Moxie writes “There’s a huge segment of the population who gets pregnant without ever having taken care of a baby. In our culture not many of us grew up watching anyone nurse a baby. How many of us even knew that the milk comes out of a bunch of little holes in each nipple? There are all sorts of things we don’t know that someone needs to tell us, without freaking us out or making us feel bad for not knowing it. And I think that’s the strength of Mama Knows Breast. It’s a funny, gentle, hip-looking introduction to some basic concepts of breastfeeding.”
Writing in the Mountains says “This book is…informative and serious as well as humorous. That can be a rare thing to come by in this genre, the all inclusive ‘Mommy Lit’, where a majority can be found to favor one or the other school of thought.”
And finally, Major Bedhead writes, “There are loads of tips and information that, even now, after having nursed three babies, I wish someone had told me. The tip about getting a footstool seems so basic, and yet I didn’t figure that one out until baby #2. The advice about what to keep at hand while nursing is also key – I never remembered to keep the phone next to me. Never. Water I had, the phone, eh, not so much.”
Hooray for Urban Baby! The chronicler of all things baby from coast to coast had this to say about Mama Knows Breast:
For something so instinctive, breastfeeding can be fraught with intricacy. A day of incorrect latching can lead to several weeks’ worth of cracked nipples, plugged ducts, painful infections, not to mention fears of starving babies and sky-high levels of frustration.
Before running for the formula aisle of the nearest drugstore, check out the new book “Mama Knows Breast: A Beginner’s Guide to Breastfeeding.” Journalist and mom Andi Silverman seeks to steer new moms away from the edge with a handbook filled with friendly, frank advice.
Here are some new reviews:
From Rancid Raves, who also posts at A BoobLog:
…overall, I just loved this book and declare it to be an Inhaler * . The illustrations are quirky and the text is light and humorous. I enjoyed that because breastfeeding can be very stressful, scary and downright painful to a new mother. Per my quick Amazon searches, there simply aren’t any fun, positive books regarding breastfeeding. Who wants to read a textbook if they don’t have to? I’d rather have a friend holding my hand – and this book does just that by walking you through it in a reassuring and comforting manner….
1. A book so compelling or suspenseful that it must be consumed immediately in only a few sittings.
2. A book so easy and enjoyable to read that it can quickly be consumed in only a few sittings.
And this from Cairo Mama:
Mama Knows Breast by Andi Silverman is a compact, concise collection of advice that you might receive from a trusted, experienced breastfeeding friend. There are many great breastfeeding resources out there…but they are large and thick books with a lot of detail. In your last months of pregnancy when you are busy buying things and preparing for labor, it is difficult to read a reference book straight through when you don’t yet know what applies to you.
BabyTalkers is giving away a free copy. Click here to read about it.