Mama Knows Breast

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Eight Things You Don’t Know About Me

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The lovely ladies over at Milk Memos tagged me to write this post. “Eight Things You Don’t Know About Me” has been making it’s way from blog to blog.
As an aside…you might remember I wrote a while back that I was reading “The Milk Memos,” a book written by some moms who work at IBM. It started as a series of entries in a collective notebook the moms kept in the office lactation room. The book has excerpts from that diary as well as practical advice for breastfeeding moms who go back to work.
So here goes with my eight little known facts:
1. I’m failing at toilet training our two year old. Today I tried to bribe him with ice cream. No luck.
2. I just got home from a modern dance class. I’m trying to pretend I’m not significantly older than a lot of the folks in the studio. Do you think they can tell?
3. They definitely would figure it out if I stopped coloring my hair. I’m pretty grey.
4. I have a photo of a brilliant blue star fish on my desk. It reminds me of snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. My husband saw sharks while scuba diving down there. Once I heard that I never went back in the water.
5. I like to dress our boys in matching outfits. Is that weird?
6. When we go to the playground I sometimes put The Bortsky (the older one) in a bright orange t-shirt so I can always see him. Maybe I should buy him a sports pinny.
7. I produce videos that non-profits use for fundraising and marketing. Here’s my website.
8. And click here if you want to watch some video of me from my days as a reporter. Embarrassing.
9. I eat at least two hunks of this a day.
10. One time my mom told me I was breastfeeding in a public place that wasn’t so great. My response: “Fine, I’ll move. But this is going in the book!” I have to admit now, she was sort of right.
UPDATE: And now an email I just got from my brother: “That was 10. You never were good at math.”

The Terrible Twos

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Again, not a breast feeding story, but I can’t resist.
The Bortski pulled a fast one on me last night. He was supposed to be in bed asleep. I was doing the dishes. It’s been a struggle to get him to sleep. But he was quiet so I thought all was well. But then, I went in to check on him as I had promised, AND HE WASN’T IN HIS BED!
In fact, he wasn’t anywhere in his room. He wasn’t in the kitchen, living room or dining room. (Keep in mind we have a 2 bedroom apartment). That’s when I started to panic and shout his name. I turned on all the lights in his room. I went blazing into the bathrooms and our bedroom. STILL NO BORTSKI.
By way of background, I recently caught him trying to break out of the apartment. He was standing on the seat of his stroller and tinkering with the top bolt on the door. He said he wanted to run in the hallway. So, we have precedent here for exit attempts. And on this particular night, I realized I had forgotten to bolt the door.
I was about call the doorman and to tell him to scan the security cameras for a runaway two year old, when I heard a little squeak. Sure enough, there he was, hiding under the double stroller. He had kept quiet the whole time I was yelling for him.
If you’re on your first child, this is a glimpse of things you can look forward to. If you have an older kid, you know what I’m talking about. Certainly Loopie Chick does, since she finally had to turn to an ENT to get a walnut out of her son’s nose.
My advice…keep a good bottle of wine on hand. You never know when you’ll need it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Come As You Are Blog Party

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I was teaching The Bortski (age 2) to play tag recently. He got it, sort of. He ran back and forth yelling, “Tag-er-it!”
Well now I’ve been tagged and invited to a “Come As You Are Blog Party.” This thing has been making it’s way around the blogosphere, and after watching it percolate for a few days, it finally got me. More specifically, Tanya at The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog tagged me.
I did a little research of my own, tracing back how I got tagged. And then I did a Google search, to find the rules of the game:
1. As soon as you’re tagged, take a picture of yourself and post it on your site.
2. Explain why you look the way you do at that moment.
3. Tag four other bloggers that you want to see “as is.”
Now, I got lucky with this one. Normally I would be in sweatpants and one of my husband’s running shirts. But in this case, I had just come in from the Holiday party in our apartment building’s lobby. My husband was a gem and stayed in to do the full-combat-bedtime-battle with The Bortski.
photo1.jpg photo2.jpg
So here I am, collapsed on the floor. Note the multiple strollers. The Maclaren Quest that The Bortski rocks. The Inglesina Zippy that has been passed down to The Bear (age 8 months)– this stroller is a work horse! We use those two rides when the kids have to be in different places at the same time. And then, when I’m flying solo, we have the Jane Powertwin. I jumped through some might large hurdles to get my hands on one of these before they were available in the States. I bought it on line from a place in the UK. Then it got stuck in customs in Alaska.
One more thing, I’m very lucky I got tagged at night and my husband is home. He just got a new camera, Canon PowerShot SD800 IS. (The last one got crushed under mysterious circumstances). And I still haven’t learned how to upload photos to our computer.
So who do I want to see come to the party, I tag Haiku of The Day, The bOOb Lady’s Blog, Baby Talkers and Everyday I Write The Book Blog.
Hey guys, “tag-er-it!”

Bottle Versus Breast

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A couple of weeks ago I got a call from a reporter, Mackenzie Carpenter, at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. She was working on a piece about the “politics” of breast feeding and bottle feeding. It was pretty cool to get her call. As a former reporter, however, I was agonizingly aware of every word I uttered during our conversation. This was the first time I was ever interviewed, and I wasn’t ready for it.
I asked Mackenzie to go easy on me, and she reassured that I shouldn’t worry. Today I got an email from her telling me the piece ran in yesterday’s paper, but that unfortunately my quotes got cut by her editor. Oh well.
Anyway, the story’s headline pretty much sums up the piece– “Bottle vs. Breastfeeding: Cultural Confusion Engulfs Moms No Matter Which Method is Used.” The basic idea is that moms face societal and personal challenges whether they breast feed or bottle feed.
Here’s my take on it. As moms, we question our child rearing choices all the time. Is the baby getting enough to eat? Am I reading enough to the baby? Does he have the right toys? Should he have a play date or is it ok to just be around his older brother? Bottom line, it’s all too easy to feel guilty about the choices you make, and I think breast feeding and bottle feeding are simply an easy flash point for all of that parental guilt to come to a head.
I’m not sure I said anything remotely like that when Mackenzie interviewed me. In fact, when we spoke I was so tired, and so busy breast feeding The Bear to keep him from crying, that I can hardly recall anything I said.
In any case, it was fun to talk to her on the phone. Hopefully, I’ll be a bit more mentally prepared for the next time the phone rings!

Breast feeding and Thyroid Problems

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Have you ever tried to take a baby with you to one of your doctor’s appointments? It might seem practical. You don’t need a sitter. You don’t have to worry that the baby will get hungry while you’re away…especially if he won’t take a bottle. So I do it all the time. Maybe not one of my smartest moves.
Invariably, there are the steps to drag the stroller up, a narrow examining room and the challenge of keeping the baby from trying to grab the stirrups in the Ob’s office. Lovely. As always, there’s the perfectly timed crying. Just as the doctor prepares to examine you, the screaming starts. And let’s not forget the last time I took The Bear (our now 7 month old) to the doctor with me– a plane crashed into a building a few blocks away. The appointment was cancelled.
So I had pretty low expectations when I went back to the doctor to try the appointment again. I was seeing an endocrinologist because it turns out my thyroid has decided to go haywire after this pregnancy. I have something called Hashimoto’s. Basically it’s an auto-immune condition where the immune system attacks the thyroid. This creates hypothyroidism, or an under-active thyroid. So now I’m taking thyroid replacement medicine.
Of course my questions were: (1) is the thyroid imbalance bad for the baby if I’m breastfeeding? (2) is it ok to take the medication, Synthroid, if I’m breastfeeding? As any good former reporter (or anal mom) would do, I checked multiple sources. I found this link about breastfeeding and thyroid conditions. And per the pediatrician, my general practitioner, my endocrinologist and my gynecologist (oh and a second endocrinologist I saw after The Bortskerini was born), Synthroid is just fine if I’m breastfeeding. In fact, it should make me feel better.
Now to be fair, I didn’t really feel all that bad. Just VERY tired. But then again I have two kids, and a baby who doesn’t sleep through the night. So we’ll see if the thyroid medication will help. (Exhaustion and depression are hypothyroid symptoms).
In the meantime, maybe The Bear will start to take pity on us and stop waking up at 4 in the morning…a mere two hours before his big brother, The Bortskerini decides to yell, at the top of his lungs, “HELP!!!”
If you’re concerned about any medication you may be taking while breastfeeding, check here.

Learning to Blog

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I didn’t get my first computer until I was a junior in high school. Then, when I went to college, I had that Mac Se that didn’t have a harddrive. You first inserted the disk with the software into one slot, then the disk you saved things on into the other slot. I’m just not like those crazy kids born in the 80s (our babysitters), for whom computers are intuitive.
That’s why this blogging thing seems like a bit of a joke to me at times. This site looks all fancy…but I had to pay someone to build the pretty graphics and formatting. Every now and then I email her to get help with the code. She doesn’t always respond, and so I turn to my husband for help. He’s much more savvy about this stuff than I am. But it is a little bit of the blind leading the blind…. “I think I broke your blog.” “No, I’m sure it’s fine, you can fix it.” “No really, it’s not working!!!” Argh. Ultimately, he gets the thing going again.
So here I am, trying to get as many readers as possible and learn the ways of the web. Technorati seems to be one way to increase the possibility that people will find my blog. Otherwise, I’m sure you can imagine what happens when you try to search breastfeeding on Google. There are 14,900,000 hits. And God only knows where in that list falls.
So I’m just following Technorati’s instructions. They told me to put this link here.
Technorati Profile
Let’s see what happens.

Yom Kippur, Fasting and Breastfeeding

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I am not good at fasting. I can barely go three hours without eating or drinking something. If I don’t eat, I get cranky and tired. So Yom Kippur, or the Jewish Day of Atonement, is always a challenge. One year, in fact, I actually got sick from not eating.
Last year I was pregnant and I didn’t feel well so I didn’t fast. Jewish law actually says you do not need to fast if you are ill. So what is the answer for breastfeeding moms? Are you required by Jewish law to fast?
I should state that I’m Reform; in other words, I’m flexible about my religious life. If I was Orthodox, or Conservative, I would probably know the answer to this question about fasting and breastfeeding right up front. Or I would have asked a Rabbi, family member or friend. In my case, I’ve turned to the internet. Bottom line, it seems that Jewish law says that both pregnant and breastfeeding women should fast unless their health, or the baby’s health, would be at risk.
Here is a good site with an explanation as well as guidelines on how to fast while breastfeeding. Nishmat: The Jerusalem Center for Advanced Jewish Study for Women.
Another source of information is Kellymom.
As always, make an informed decision. And if you do refrain from eating, have an easy fast.

Happy Meal

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There are certain meals you’ll always remember. Both good and bad. Good– lobsters from a Maine clamshack; steak frites from a fancy New York restaurant. Bad– salmon croquettes and something I ate that landed me in the ER. So how about the kids? We all know they develop refined food preferences pretty quickly.
As for the Titty Bear, he just had his very first meal that was OTB, or “off the boob.” He reached the six month milestone and so it was time for some rice cereal. The Bortski (our two year old) actually had his first rice cereal at four months. But since then, the pediatrician’s recommendations for first solids have changed. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends exclusive breastfeeding (ie. NOTHING, but breastmilk) for the first six months. So, that’s what we did this time around.
The Titty Bear turned six months a couple of weeks ago, but it took me a little while to get the stars aligned for his big culinary adventure. First we had to get the thumbs up from the pediatrician, then I wanted to give him a couple of days to get over his shots, then we were traveling to visit relatives. Once things settled down, it was time to set him up in the high chair.
Day 1, Attempt 1: After a very sleep deprived night (but that’s another story altogether), stumble into kitchen blinking in bright lights. Bortski is already seated “like a growm-up” at the table with DaDa having oatmeal. Wrangle the Titty Bear into the high chair. Bortski immediately wants back into the high chair. Go figure. Pour rice cereal into bowl. Add water. Notice an odd looking brown clump. Dump the mixture in the sink. Start to pour another bowl. Think twice. Dump the whole box of cereal in the trash.
Day 1, Attempt 2: Now we’re cooking. Bortski is fine about ceding his throne to the Titty Bear. In fact, he is wearing a paper crown he got at an arts and crafts class at a book store. “I’m a Prince,” he says, from his seat at the table. Titty Bear starts to suck on the high chair tray. Make the rice mixture. Put spoon to his mouth. Titty Bear looks shocked. Offended even. He starts to shake. Is something seriously wrong? Determine he is fine. Continue feeding. “I ate the whole thing!”
Day 2: The Titty Bear loves it. Cereal is all over his face. His hands. He tries to pick up the bowl. Afterwards, flat out refuses to breastfeed. Do we have a problem here?
Day 3: Not so interested.
Day 4. I think this thing is working. Titty Bear eats his cereal. Breastfeeds to wash it down. And promptly takes a nap. Still sleeping 2+ hours later. Go check that he’s still breathing.
So will the Titty Bear remember these very first meals? If he’s anything like the Bortski, some day he’ll look at the rice cereal and say “blech.” But just in case, I have pictures to show him how much he loved it. Now, if I could just get this crusty mess out of my hair.

Caffeine and Breast Feeding

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To caffeinate or not to caffeinate, that is the question…
Here’s a mom’s dilemna for you. You need to take your baby on a long car ride. You’re the one driving. And you are tired. I’m not talking, regular old, need to get a little more sleep tired. I’m talking bone tired, afraid you’re going to drive your car off the road tired. Tired like…all of a sudden you realize you’re at a certain stretch of the highway and you don’t remember the previous ten miles. Tired like…you’re sitting in a really boring class room lecture and you feel yourself doing the head bob.
This was my challenge recently. The “Titty Bear” (for those of you just joining this blog, that’s our six month old) has stopped sleeping through the night. He was a rock star sleeper from 11 weeks through 4.5 months. He would sleep uninterrupted from 6 pm to 6 am. In fact, he was such a good sleeper I often put a hand on his chest to make sure he was still breathing. Well, those days are over. In fact, they’ve been over for the past month and a half. For some reason, he is back to waking up during the night at least once. Of course, I jump up right away to stop the crying for fear that he’ll wake up “The Bortski” (a/k/a our two year old). And the only thing that will calm him down is some boob. A ten minute snack and he’s snoozing peacefully again. Happy as can be. I, on the other hand, am a zombie. The pediatrician is encouraging me to do a little sleep training for the baby. We’re getting ready to do something. Anything, just so I can sleep for six hours, at least, uninterrupted. We just haven’t done it yet. But that’s another story for another time.
Meanwhile, I still have to function. And last weekend that meant driving 200 miles to visit family. So here’s the dilemna: Do I try to tough it out without a turbo charge and cross my fingers that I won’t have to pull over to rest? Or do I down a cup of coffee in the morning, a coke mid-ride, and an then an extra large, dark chocolate, Hershey’s bar along the route?
So what’s the big deal? Well, if I have caffeine, the Titty Bear may get his own turbo charged snack next time I breastfeed him, and who knows what in the world THAT will do to his sleeping schedule. Plus, all that coffee and coke will make me have to pee. And not just once. Of course that means pulling over at a rest stop, waking two sleeping babies, wrangling one into the stroller, strapping the other into the Baby Bjorn, dragging the three of us into the bathroom and finding a stall big enough to hold the stroller while I perch over the seat with the baby dangling off my chest.
Here’s what eventually happened. “Dada” (a/k/a my husband) was able to join us for the ride. So that elimated the bathroom dilemna. But I did have to drive (for a variety of reasons that I can’t go into right now), so I went the caffeine route. As for the Titty Bear, his sleep is still messed up.
So what do the experts say about caffeine and breastfeeding? Most say that one cup of coffee isn’t a problem. But beware…caffeine can make some babies irritable and it can accumulate in their system over time. Here’s an answer from La Leche League. Here’s another answer from the breastfeeding site KellyMom.
What do you do? Caffeinate or not? Share your stories.

The Key Players on Mama Knows Breast

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A few months ago, I wrote a guide to the key players, the people you’ll meet, here on Mama Knows Breast. Since many of you are joining now for the first time, I thought I’d do an updated version.
Mama: That’s me. A 37 year old mother of two boys under two. As of today, one is 2 years old and the other is six months old. I haven’t slept (really slept) since December of 2003. That’s when I got pregnant the first time.
DaDa: Obviously, of course, this is Mama’s husband. To get the best sense of this name, envision a two year old begging to be let out of his room, at 6 in the morning, plaintively repeating, “Da-Da, please help. Hey, Da-da, please help. Come get me, Dada.”
Bortski: That’s the two year old. We came up with his nickname one day when he was a baby and had a little cold. He was making all sorts of snorting noises through his stuffed nose. He thus became “Snortsky.” Over time, this evolved to “Bortski.” Of course, we do call him by his real name too.
The Titty Bear: This is our six month old. He’s still breastfeeding, hence the nickname.
Nana Funny Socks: This is Mama’s mama. Bortski started to call her Nana Funny Socks after observing her stocking knee-highs. Quite glamorous, I’m sure he thought.
Big: This is Mama’s mama’s mama. In other words, Mama’s grandmother. Or in other words, Nana Funny Socks’ mama. Bortski gave her the nickname. She was the “big” nana, ie. the older nana. For a while she was Nana Big, then just “Big.”
Papa Peekaboo: DaDa’s dada. He likes to play peekaboo. He’s a newlywed, often seen hanging out with his wife “Toto.” Again, Bortski created nicknames.
Papa Harry: Mama’s dada. He goes with his wife Carol and their cat Mimi. This Mimi is not to be confused with “Mimi,” the stuffed animal the Bortski sleeps with every night.
Uncle Hey Dude and Auntie Ca-Ca: Mama’s brother and sister in law. My brother taught the Bortski to say “Hey Dude.”
Uncle Spaulding and Aunti Ga-Ga: Dada’s brother and sister in law. Uncle Spaulding is a nickname Dada gave his brother years ago. It’s a long story but has something to do, I think, with the movie Caddy Shack.