Tag Archives: breastfeeding

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Blue

Living in San Diego, CA, I get to enjoy beautiful blue skies the majority of the year. I’m not sure what makes the sky so blue here, but I’m guessing it has to do with our latitude and the ways the sun rays light up the sky. It really does help when taking photos of various subjects, and using the blue sky as a nice, contrasted background.

I took this photo in our backyard a few weeks ago, after what will probably be our last rain for the next six months.

Wordpress weekly photo challenge: Blue

WordPress weekly photo challenge: Blue

I also can’t help thinking about my boys when I hear the word blue. My whole world is blue because of them. They avoid the aisles of girl toys, calling them “the pink aisles”. They both have beautiful blue eyes and look great with blue tops, so I buy a lot of those. We also have a blue couch at our house, courtesy of IKEA. With a removable cover you can throw in the washer, this is one of the best furniture investments I’ve made with two kids. Here’s my four-year old when he was just a baby, sitting on the blue couch in his blue footsy pajamas, with his beautiful blue eyes (which you really can’t see well on this picture). 

My baby boy sitting on the blue couch

And here’s a photo of his brother when he wasn’t even two years old, sitting on our blue couch in my blue T-shirt, using my Boppy pillow and a burpcloth to breastfeed his lovey. How cute is that? I also have a photo of him using my breastpump but you’ll have to wait for the color “yellow” to be the theme of the photo challenge!

My son breastfeeding his lovey with the Boppy pillow

My answers to “50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind”

Free your mindI’ve been wanting to answer this list of questions for a while and the start of a new year feels like the right time to do so. If you’ve answered these 50 questions on your blog in the past, please feel free to post a link in the comments section below. And if you’d like to answer the questions yourself, you can find the complete list at http://www.marcandangel.com/2009/07/13/50-questions-that-will-free-your-mind/.

1.How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?
As I answer this question, I’m 41 but I think most people who don’t know me would think I’m in my upper 30s. I like to be 40 something actually so I don’t feel I have to lie about my age.

2.Which is worse, failing or never trying?
Never trying. Well, unless failing involves death. That would be a lot worse.

3.If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?
Because of fear, laziness, and procrastination. Mostly fear.

4.When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?
Probably not. When I say something, I usually do it. I’m more of a doer than a talker.

5.What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?
I wish everyone in this world would actually give a crap about our planet and take better care of it. Hopefully this would lead to more respect for other people’s lives too. What can I say, I’m an idealist.

6.If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?
Anything creative. Writing, taking photos, drawing, painting, …

7.Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?
At this stage of my life, I’m mostly doing what I believe in. I’ve never had a settling personality and try to do what I really want to do.

8.If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?
Well, since I’m 41, I’d be dead by now and wouldn’t be able to answer this question. I can’t change the past and I hate looking back.

9.To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?
I believe I’ve made most of the course of my life happen because of my actions. I believe I’m 90% in control of what happens to me. As for the remaining 10%, I’m still in control of how I react to it.

10.Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?
Doing the right things. Perfection is great, but opting for good enough assures that more things will get done.

11.You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire.  They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend.  The criticism is distasteful and unjustified.  What do you do?
Quickly switch the subject. Gossip bugs me.

12.If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?
What Sting sang so simply in An Englishman in New York, “be yourself, no matter what they say.”

13.Would you break the law to save a loved one?

14.Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity?
I have a very narrow definition of “insanity” so I don’t think it would be associated with creativity. But I see how some people can view some forms of art as so different from the norm, they just can’t understand it.

15.What’s something you know you do differently than most people?
I eat ketchup with many foods, including all sorts of vegetables, pasta, rice, etc. I also eat Nutella by the spoonful. And I never put ice in my drinks. If you’re European, you understand me but this is a rarity in the US.

16.How come the things that make you happy don’t make everyone happy?
What a boring world we’d live in if the same things made everyone happy.

17.What one thing have you not done that you really want to do?  What’s holding you back?
Write a few books I already have subjects picked out for. Making time for it is my biggest struggle. There are so many things on my wish-to-do list, I just can’t get to them all.

18.Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?
Probably not, since I’m the opposite of a hoarder. I get rid of stuff all the time, mentally and physically.

19.If you had to move to a state or country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why?
The U.S. North East, close to Boston, or closeto Washington D.C. because I just love these two areas. But I hate the snow and the mosquitoes, so I would need a lot of convincing to move back East.

20.Do you push the elevator button more than once?  Do you really believe it makes the elevator faster?
Of course!!! Doesn’t it?

21.Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?
I’m a worry worm. Does that make me a genius?

22.Why are you, you?
Because there’s only one me (I don’t think I have a twin). I’ve gone through my own life experiences, and it makes me who I am (good, bad and ugly).

23.Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?
I try. Most of the time.

24.Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you?
Losing touch with a friend who lives close by. It can make for awkward moments during unexpected encounters.

25.What are you most grateful for?
My beautiful boys.

26.Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones?
Lose the old ones since I don’t look back and live in the past. I have very few old memories anyway, so it wouldn’t be a great loss.

27.Is is possible to know the truth without challenging it first?
No. I always challenge everything I see and hear. Well, almost everything. But know it can drive other people nuts.

28.Has your greatest fear ever come true?
Since my greatest fear is dying, I’ll answer no.

29.Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset?  Does it really matter now?
Actually it does. Every action has a reaction and its consequences and can affect relationships positively or negatively.

30.What is your happiest childhood memory?  What makes it so special?
This has to be the toughest question for me to answer on this list. I actually have very few childhood memories and I can’t think of any I would qualify as the “happiest.” Even though I’ve been thinking about my answer for a week now. Sad but true.

31.At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?
When I gave birth to each of my boys, and then breastfed them for the first year of their lives. My body gave life to two human beings. How cool is that?

32.If not now, then when?
I’ll let Mark Twain answer this one: “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow just as well.” Funny guy.

33.If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose?
I have nothing to lose, except sleep to do everything I want to accomplish every day. Did I say I was tired?

34.Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever?
Yes, but it’s been very rare.

35.Why do religions that support love cause so many wars?
Because religions are used to exerce power and control over people. We don’t want to learn from history, especially when power is involved.

36.Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil?
No. It’s all relative, and there’s a lot of grey in between.

37.If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job?
Come on, not for a million dollars, especially when half of it goes to taxes! $10 million, maybe. $100 million, absolutely! Maybe I should start buying lottery tickets to find out.

38.Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing?
I really enjoy my work so I can’t complain. But I could use more free time.

39.Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before?
Every day is different and I never know how things will go. Quoting Forrest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” It’s OK, I like chocolate and I do eat some every day.

40.When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in?
Often, actually. I like trying out my ideas, even if they fail. How else would I be able to find out for sure?

41.If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?
My boys.

42.Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?
Now, this question implies I’m not extremely attractive or famous, how rude. OK, let me think this through. If I’m going to live a long time, I probably won’t be very attractive by the end, so I’m not sure how much attractiveness I’d really be buying myself. As for fame, it’s never been a turn-on. So I choose to live long, live well.

43.What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
Two words: carpe diem.

44.When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?
Every time. Just do it.

45.If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?
Because schools, our parents and society in general has made us doubtful and fearful.

46.What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
I’d take more photos, draw and paint more and would actually put the results for sale. And hope some people would buy them.

47.When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?
Every day, at least for a few seconds. But I wish it was for a few minutes.

48.What do you love?  Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?
I love my creative side but it’s been choking inside me for too long. I need to make the time in my everyday life to let it out.

49.In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday?  What about the day before that?  Or the day before that?
If it’s something worth remembering, I’ll remember it. Otherwise I don’t have room for it in my memory. If it involves something fun with my kids, I’ll have plenty of room for that.

50.Decisions are being made right now.  The question is:  Are you making them for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you?
It’s been a very long time since I’ve let someone make a decision for me, at least for something important. I don’t expect other people to decide my fate and I don’t let them.

Feel free to answer some of the questions for yourself below or link to your blog post if you already have answered them.

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Why do mothers stop breastfeeding?

I make milk - superpowerLast week I joined a group of moms and their little ones for a morning of social gathering and playing. I didn’t know any of the moms and it happens that most were first-time moms with babies under the age of one.

For a couple of hours I got to hear stories I once told others regarding my little babies, who now are little men. The feeding on demand, the short and sleepless nights, the first rollover, the first solid food, the first crawl… Some of my babies’ past is becoming blurry. Sometimes I confuse which baby did what. But I also remember some moments in great detail, including the little suckling noises they made as I nursed them in the stillness of the night, their super cute smiles and giggles, their unique ways to crawl, their reactions to first foods, their first steps… It seems it all happened so long ago and yet, it’s just been a few years. Time really flies when you’re having fun. And even when it’s not all fun sometimes.

One of the inevitable new-mom subjects is breastfeeding. Here in California, where people are more obsessed concerned with their health, it seems most moms give it a try. California laws support breastfeeding, allowing it in all public places and requiring employers to provide a private place to pump (restroom stalls not included). Many moms I’ve talked to (working and not-working) have managed to nurse their babies for a year or more, just as I did.

I'm still breastfeeding T-shirtSo I was surprised to hear the mom of a seven-month-old baby tell another mom she had breastfed her baby since birth, but she stopped at six months, even though she was still producing milk. The most interesting thing is when the other mom asked her why she’d stopped, she didn’t have an answer. She said she just stopped. This left me perplexed.

Everyone who’s ever tried to breastfeed will tell you the first few months are the hardest. Baby and mom need to become acquainted and often taught how to nurse. Mom is exhausted, nursing on demand, and doesn’t get much of a break. After a few months though, the feedings space out and baby becomes a suckling pro. If a mom nurses for the first six months, she’s gone through the hardest part of it all.

So why would a mom who embraces breastfeeding for the first six months of her baby’s life suddenly decide to stop? This mom stays at home and doesn’t experience any pressures from outside work, has no older siblings taking her attention and breasts away from the baby, and still produces plenty of milk. Why make the switch to expensive and non-natural formula, deal with making bottles, and not want to maintain this special bond for a few more months?

I just don’t get it. If all is going well, why stop it? I can’t think of any good reason why. And clearly, this mom couldn’t either but still did it. Would someone please enlighten me?

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Breastmilk vs. infant formula: the never-ending discussion

Breastmilk vs infant formula

Breastmilk vs infant formula - click on the image to view the full document on the California Department of Public Health website

Just a few days ago I ran across an online discussion in which a mom blurted out that infant formula was “just as good as breastmilk”, since it contains the same nutrients. She wasn’t able to breastfeed her baby because of the medication she was taking, and thought formula worked just fine. In a way, she’s absolutely correct. Infant formula does what it’s supposed to do: it feeds babies with the basic proper nutrients and helps them grow. And for mothers who have physical limitations to nursing, formula can be a life saver.

The truth is, 90% of mothers don’t have these limitations, yet only 75% of them choose to breastfeed after birth. The numbers trickle down quickly and only about 25% of moms still breastfeed after six months. This is sad news because even though breastmilk and infant formula share many similar nutrients, breastmilk offers many more valuable ingredients that will never make it into industrially-processed formula (see chart on the right).

I think all moms who have breastfed their babies for a year or more will tell you the same. Yes, nursing is a tough habit to pick up. It does take a lot of practice, for both mom and baby. It does require commitment and huge amounts of support, especially from your partner, your family, nurses and pediatricians. Breastfeeding is a challenge, but one that women around the world have taken on for tens of thousands of years. And breastfeeding is usually cheaper than formula. A mother will spend a few hundred dollars in extra food for herself and possibly a breastpump, but it doesn’t compare to the average $1500 spent on infant formula for the first year.

With infant formula manufacturing companies heavily marketing their products (after all, they do make billions of dollars from it yearly!), 80% of hospitals releasing new moms with formula samples in their diaper bags, and an overall lack of education and support, making the choice to breastfeed is an uphill battle. And honestly, it shouldn’t be this difficult to do what our bodies were meant to do. But in 2011 it seems to be harder than ever.

If you’ve nursed your own babies and believe in the value of breastmilk, look around you and see who could use your help. Sometimes, one highly supportive person is all it takes to put a new mom on the right track.

As Mother Theresa once said, “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.”

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