Conversations with Friends: New Babies and Underwear


credit: etsy

A longtime friend of mine called me today. She recently gave birth to her second child. (And has a toddler under 2!)

Me: So, how is everything going?

Friend: Well, pretty good. Although, I’m exhausted and I think I hit a new low. I wore my underwear backwards all day yesterday, and I didn’t notice it was like that until I was changing to go to bed.

Me: That still sounds pretty normal! I had a couple of inside-out shirt experiences during that stage.

Friend: It was a thong….


Did you experience any wardrobe mishaps after having a baby?



What Does a Well-Behaved Child Look Like?

The other day, we stopped at a coffee shop before setting out for the day. The boys happened to be standing still and quietly waiting for our drinks to arrive (a rare occurrence). A woman with her two children (a couple years older than the boys) came over to us and said, “Your boys are so well-behaved, mine are never this good when we go out.”

The old me would have probably just politely thanked her and moved on, but I couldn’t do that this time.

I answered her, “My kids just happen to be quiet right now. Most of the time they are moving and asking questions- and just being curious. I think that is healthy.” She seemed genuinely surprised and replied, “I never looked at it that way. I’ve always felt guilty if they weren’t being quiet and patient when we go out.”


 A 4-year-old isn’t an adult

Society tells us that well-behaved means behaving like a full-grown adult. We have set this into our minds and we have books teaching us how to “train” our babies. Compliments are given when our children are seen but not heard (are we living in 1912 or 2012? Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference).

Patience comes with age, but their little minds can learn at such a rapid rate that they get bored without stimuli. That is also why technology can overstimulate their brains. They need to be able to be active and learn what is going on in their surroundings.

Our children shouldn’t act like adults, that is not normal behavior for a 3,4,5,6…etc year old. We need to start teaching people what a healthy well-behaved child looks like in order to correct this potentially harmful information. We apologize for our children’s behavior all the time. We need to stop doing that, especially in front of them. I remember I apologized for Aram’s curiosity when he was about one year old and toddling over to a man eating at an outdoor cafe near us. I scooped Aram up and said “I’m so sorry…” The man stopped me, “NEVER apologize when your child acts like a child, view all chaotic aspects as a part of the joy and a blessing, because they are.” I’ll never forget that. I, obviously,  would not let Aram continue going over there to disrupt this man’s meal, but we don’t need to apologize in these situations in front of our children – an “excuse me” would have been appropriate. Gentle direction and positive encouragement can go farther in this situation than getting embarrassed and indicating to children that they should be ashamed of their curiosity.


 a 4-year-old isn’t a 2-year-old

So your child doesn’t act like a thirty-year-old at three? Good! When your child really is thirty, they will have a greater chance of being a well-developed individual because you allowed him/her to act like a three-year-old and not skip directly into adult behavior. Obviously, gentle direction is a good and necessary part of parenting. There is a reason that the boys are more likely at 4 and 5 to wait patiently at the coffee shop than they were at 2 and 3. They have been guided and encouraged to behave as 4-year-olds, which looks differently than behaving like a 2-year-old. But let’s just remember…so much could be missed if children cannot experience their true biological age.

Child-Led Weaning: Libbie


Image and text by Libbie.


Breastfeeding did not come easy for us. My son was due on December 25, 2011, but my water broke on December 3, 2011 at 36 weeks, 6 days. I was both surprised and worried. I wasn’t even full term. When we arrived at the hospital, they told us if he was born before midnight he would have to go to the NICU. If he was born after midnight we could keep him. We hoped for the latter. Sixteen hours of labor and minimal progress from 4-6 cm later, my doctor recommended a c-section. He was born on December 4th, 2011 at 10:34 am by emergency c-section. Afterward, my doctor informed me that he’d had his hand down the birth canal with his head and that’s what had prevented my labor from progressing. She said he was never coming out. My husband also mentioned later that he’d overheard the nurses saying that I was starting to smell like I was getting an infection. As he put it, I had started to “smell pretty ripe down there.” Thanks honey.

I don’t believe it was the c-section itself that contributed to our breastfeeding difficulties, as much as the actions of the staff afterward. He was born, I kissed him and he and my husband were sent away to the nursery for what seemed like an ETERNITY. I was separated from him for several hours because the staff thought I needed some sleep. I disagreed then and I disagree now. I needed to be with my baby. I have since been informed that the hospital policy has changed. They now place the baby on mom’s chest for skin-to-skin immediately after the c-section while they stitch mom up. I feel like I was robbed of that crucial time with my baby. In hindsight, I wish I had done more c-section research, but I really had no idea what to expect. No first time mother thinks they are going to end up with an emergency c-section.

Things seemed like they were going OK in the hospital. The nurses and LCs were able to get him to latch, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure it out. Then a nurse brought some formula and I dropper fed it to him, because I’d just had this tiny little baby and I was afraid he might starve. Of course I wish I hadn’t done that, but again, I didn’t know that I should research these things.

When we got home, things were even more difficult. At least my milk came in on day 5, but I just couldn’t get him to latch well on my own. Thank goodness a fabulous LC foresaw this and scheduled me a series of appointments before I left the hospital. I’m pretty sure breastfeeding wouldn’t have worked out if it wasn’t for her. It got so bad that I found myself in a mess of tears on Christmas morning at our family celebration. I was barely pumping anything (despite pumping every three hours around the clock), he wasn’t latching properly, he was getting supplemental bottles with every breastfeed and I was convinced my milk had all but dried up. I was in a bad place. At that time it seemed as if my happiness hinged on how well breastfeeding was going and I was about 90% sure it wasn’t going to work out. I was devastated.

 11.13.13 Eating d

I don’t quite remember the next couple days, it’s all a blur, but I do remember the morning of December 29th, 2011. Four days after his due date, L latched beautifully for the first time. He nursed like a pro from that day forward. To this day, I always say that if he could have chosen his own birthday, he would have been 4 days late. That’s when he was ready.

I was able to take a 15 week maternity leave, which was fabulous and then I went back to work part time, 3 days a week. L went to his grandparents while I was at work. This is when I had to start pumping again. I had stopped pumping shortly after L latched per the advice of an LC who could see that the pump was really stressing me out. Plus, I wanted to breastfeed him whenever possible and avoid bottles. In fact, he hadn’t had a single bottle in months when I dropped him off at my parent’s house. I hoped he would take the bottle, but I wasn’t sure that he would. He did and all was well.

I spent the first year of my son’s life thinking that I had low-to-just-enough supply because I’d never been able to pump very much. The most I ever got from a pumping session was 4 oz and usually it was more in the 2 oz range – from both breasts. It took me over a year to come to the conclusion that I am someone who just doesn’t perform well for the pump. Looking back on it now, I think he’s always gotten plenty of breast milk from nursing; my body just didn’t want to give it up for the pump. I stopped pumping at 12.5 months because I wasn’t really getting much anyway, and switched to giving L whole milk from a cup while he was away from me. I haven’t had a “supply problem” since. Around that time, he completely rejected the bottle. He still loved to nurse, though. He would sign “milk” (we use the word “nurse”) as soon as I got home from work. At his one year appointment, his pediatrician actually informed me that L was no longer getting any calories or nutrition from my breast milk. I pretty much called bullsh*t on that one and didn’t ask him any more breastfeeding advice. It’s sad that someone in the medical community could be so uneducated on such an important subject.

At 15 months I thought L was weaning because he inexplicably refused my left breast for 48 hours. He took my right breast just fine. Forty-eight hours later, he took my left breast like nothing had ever happened. In hindsight, I think maybe he had a crick in his neck or something in it that made it temporarily uncomfortable to nurse on that side. He’s never done anything remotely like this since. I do wish I had pumped my left breast during that time though. I wouldn’t have gotten much but it would have been something. My left breast still produces, but it’s pretty lame compared to the right one.

Now, when I first embarked on this breastfeeding journey, I had the goal of going for one year. My mother breastfed me for 10 months and I thought if I can do more than that, that’ll be great! However, when L’s first birthday started to approach, it became very clear that neither he nor I were ready to be done. Sometime after his first birthday, we started offering L cow’s milk and snacks along with breastfeeding. Sometimes he wants and enjoys the milk and snacks, other times he asks to nurse instead. He’s pretty adamant when he wants to nurse and he always asks to nurse at least two times per day (first thing in the morning and when I get home from work are his favorites). He dropped his before bed feeding on his own around 9 months. At that point I started doing dream feeds, which I continued until 18 months when he no longer wanted them. Dream feeds were a life saver! They helped both of us get more sleep.

I really thought that he would choose to wean himself before the age of two. Before I had L, I had never heard of anyone nursing a child longer than 21 months. But he just hasn’t been ready to wean yet. He knows what else is out there, but he seems to prefer the good stuff that comes from mama. My husband and I do differ on the subject. He was so incredibly supportive during the first year, I can’t say enough about it. After which point, he wanted to try weaning L away from the breast. Against, my own instincts, I did offer L other things and was pleased to find that he still liked my milk best. Yay! Now that L’s over two years old, my husband begrudgingly doesn’t say anything, but I know he wishes we’d be done. It hurts his feelings when he brings L home from a long day at work and they have 1-2 hours to spend together, but all L can talk about is mama coming home so he can nurse. What can I say? He’s a mama’s boy. I don’t think weaning is going to change that. My in-laws definitely think he should have been weaned a long time ago (I’m sure my husband hears it from them, and I’m glad he doesn’t share it with me). My parents, to my surprise, have been very supportive. They think L will stop when he’s ready. Go mom and dad!

 Louie & Mama 06.01.13

L is 28 months old now. These days he politely asks and signs “nurse, please” or says “wanna nurse.” I’m not sure how long he will nurse, or if we are doing child led weaning or not, but I do know that neither he nor I are ready to be done yet. Nursing has been such a blessing, especially during times of sickness. When he refuses to eat or drink anything, he will still nurse and I’m confident he’s staying hydrated and getting nutrition. My breasts seem to be pretty flexible too, he could nurse twice one day and eight+ times the next and I feel neither empty nor engorged. Thank goodness for organizations like La Leche League, IANtB, the Leaky B@@b and KellyMom for showing me how normal and natural it is to breastfeed a toddler.

April is Child-Led Weaning Awareness Month! If you would like to contribute, please e-mail your story and photo(s) to info(at)iamnotthebabysitter(dot)com.


Plant Pregnancy

“Plants share very similar birth and growth process to humans, but we do not appreciate much of what they give us.” – Alice Kim

Alice Kim, a design student graduate of Kingston, designed a pregnancy pouch to carry plants similar to a human fetus in utero .

Kim’s design challenges people to sport a clear plastic bag with a plant inside and to look after the seedlings with the same care that you would a baby.

Kim says she was inspired to create the wearable vest to encourage people to give plants the same care that we give other living things. By wearing the plant on your person, Kim believes it will remind the wearer of the care that a plant requires to flourish.

After the seedling has outgrown the pouch, Kim has invented a plant stroller to take it for walk.

As someone who has trouble keeping anything with roots alive, I’m oddly intrigued. (Shout out to our air fern- the only plant that hasn’t died on my watch.)

What do you think?

Einstein on Racism: “It is a disease of white people.”


On May 3, 1946, Albert Einstein was invited to the campus of Pennsylvania’s Lincoln University, the first black university in the U.S. to grand degrees.

meme1Even though Einstein rarely left Princeton at that point in his life, he accepted the request to take part in a ceremony bestowing him with the honorary degree of doctor of laws.

At the event, he delivered speech challenging the U.S. to lead other countries on a path to peace, by preventing war. He also made strong statements denouncing segregation.

Here is an excerpt of his speech:

“The only possibility of preventing war is to prevent the possibility of war. International peace can be achieved only if every individual uses all of his power to exert pressure on the United States to see that it takes the leading part in world government.

The United Nations has no power to prevent war, but it can try to avoid another war. The U.N. will be effective only if no one neglects his duty in his private environment. If he does, he is responsible for the death of our children in a future war.

My trip to this institution was in behalf of a worthwhile cause. There is a separation of colored people from white people in the United States. That separation is not a disease of colored people. It is a disease of white people. I do not intend to be quiet about it.

The situation of mankind today is like that of a little child who has a sharp knife and plays with it. There is no effective defense against the atomic bomb – It can not only destroy a city but it can destroy the very earth on which that city stood.”

Child-Led Weaning: Brandy


Images and text by Brandy Van Vossen

Before I had children of my own I knew that I wanted to breastfeed. I knew that this was the most important decision that I would make for them in their early years. I knew that breast was best. But my inexperience kept me from seeing anything beyond this.

311685_10150881984176650_2115177220_nI didn’t grow up seeing breastfeeding. As much as I babysat and even having a younger brother born when I was 16, I just didn’t see breastfeeding. Everyone I knew gave their babies formula. I was formula fed from day one. It wasn’t until I was 25 and took a job as a nanny for a woman with newborn twins that I first saw a mother feed her baby (babies) at her breast. I was in awe. It was such a loving and beautiful sight; baby cradled perfectly in his mother’s arms, suckling his little heart out. I watched as mom lost herself in adoring gazes and baby peered back with wide eyes, his mouth full of breast and completely satisfied. They were the only two people in the world when they were nursing; unless she was tandem nursing both twins, then the whole scene would unfold around the three of them. It was magical.

When my older sister had her first baby a few months later I got to see this enchanted moment again with a new cast. I wanted that for my babies and for myself. But that was as much as I knew about it then.

I distinctly remember having a conversation with friends about my [not so enlightened] thoughts on breastfeeding when I was pregnant with my first child. I talked about how I just wanted to make it to a year and then cut him off because “breastfeeding beyond a year was just weird.” And I was not going to be one of those extended breastfeeding yahoos who finds it cute when a silly little toddler comes waddling up and asks, with real words, for some “milkies” or some other cutsie word for breastfeeding. That totally gave me the willies. I’m sure I had this very conversation more than once and I shudder to think of who may have heard me say these things, or worse yet, who my ignorance may have influenced.

Then I gave birth to my first baby. Oh, I was in mommy heaven! He was perfect, plump, beautiful; just this gorgeous little person that I would throw myself in front of a bus for [if that was something I could do to prove my love for him]. This was my chance to have those magical moments of breastfeeding bonding all for myself.

Not without our own struggles we got to that place. We lived in the magical mommy and baby bubble of breastfeeding bliss, and something happened in there that I can’t quite explain. Somewhere between the sloppy milk drooling smiles and the burps of total contentment my baby turned into a walking and talking toddler with his very own cutsie word for my milk. He called it “bop.” Somewhere in that bubble my perception changed from what I expected to what I lived. In that bubble I became enlightened by my own experience and suddenly I understood that which I could not see or understand before.

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Breastfeeding a toddler is no stranger than breastfeeding a newborn baby. Nothing changes at a year or when a child learns to walk and talk, either in mom’s milk or in a child’s need for it, that should cause a mother to wean her child or to feel like a yahoo for continuing to breastfeed. The only thing that changes is society’s perception of the breastfeeding relationship. Somewhere around a year inexperienced people think that breastfeeding is no longer an important and nutritious way to feed and nurture a child.

As experienced breast feeders we have a golden opportunity to help enlighten the public, our friends and family, and even professionals. As breast feeding is coming back into the mainstream we have a chance to show that we are compassionate and that we understand that not everyone sees things the way we do. How can they? They’ve never seen breastfeeding from our unique vantage point. But what we can do is breastfeed openly and without shame. We can breastfeed our babies, our toddlers, and our preschoolers (and beyond) so that younger generations get a chance to see what healthy, normal breastfeeding looks like. The more they see it, the more normal it will become. And eventually mothers won’t feel pressured to wean their babies at arbitrary times during infancy. Mothers will learn to trust their relationships with their children and allow them to wean naturally when the time is truly right.

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My son C self-weaned at 3.5 years old during our three day journey from Chicago to Tampa. He had been nursing only once a day (at bedtime) for the six months prior, but during the exhausting days on the road he simply “forgot how to bop.” We were both very sad but we knew it was time. My daughter P self-weaned all of a sudden 6 months later. She was 20 months old. All it took for her was to figure out that she didn’t need to nurse to fall asleep anymore. I was devastated but trusted that she knew what was best and that it was time for our relationship to evolve.

Brandy Van Vossen studied Environmental Biology at Saint Xavier University on the South side of Chicago. She is currently a stay at home mom to her two beautiful, formerly breastfed children (4.5 and 2.5) near Clearwater, Florida.

April is Child-Led Weaning Awareness Month! If you would like to contribute, please e-mail your story and photo(s) to [email protected]

Mother Killed Baby via Tainted Breastmilk? Doctor Says “No Way”


A judge sentenced a South Carolina woman to 20 years in prison Friday for killing her six-week-old daughter. The prosecutors argued that she overdosed her daughter with lethal amounts of morphine through her breastmilk.

A jury found former nurse Stephanie Greene, 39, guilty of homicide by child abuse just one day earlier. Greene could have faced up to life behind bars, but was given 20 years.

In November 2010, 46-day-old Alexis Greene was found in her parents’ bed. An autopsy revealed morphine levels so high in Alexis that they would be lethal if given to an adult.  Pathologists found no needle marks or any other indicators of possible injection sites on the child’s body, and because of that decided the drugs must have gotten into Alexis through her mother’s breastmilk.

Prosecutors said this is the first time a mother has been prosecuted in the U.S. for killing a child through a prescription medication passed through breastmilk.

And there is good reason for that…

It would be virtually impossible to overdose a child taking regulated doses of prescription medication.

Was Greene’s Dose Regulated?


Greene’s attorney Rauch Wise suggested her prescription drug dependency arose after a 1998 car accident. According to Wise, Greene fractured her pelvis and skull in the accident causing chronic pain.

In 2004, Greene had her nursing license suspended because she tried to call in a prescription illegally and refused a drug test.

In 2010, after a home pregnancy test came back positive, Greene deliberately hid her pregnancy from primary care doctor; she requested a referral to an OBGYN for oral contraception. Once at the OB, she did not disclose the medication she was taking.

On top of the drugs Greene may have legally obtained through her primary care doctor, she still faces 38 counts of taking prescription drugs through fraud.

So, what is the truth? Can I take prescription medication while breastfeeding?


Most medications can be taken while breastfeeding. It is important to speak to both a certified IBCLC and your personal physician prior to taking any medication while breastfeeding.

According to Jay Gordon M.D. and IBCLC, “Over six weeks of age there are virtually no routine medicines unsafe for  the baby.” He said. “The question isn’t ‘can I breastfeed while taking this medication?’ It’s ‘I’m breastfeeding; I need a medication safe for breastfeeding.’ Which again, includes almost every medication.”

As for the Greene case, Dr. Gordon had this to say:

“One way or another, she endangered a baby who died; the morphine levels of the infant were so high that the overdosing would pretty much have to be intentional.”

Additional resources:





Google Glass App Helps Moms Breastfeed


Would you seek out breastfeeding support via Google Glass?

A new breastfeeding app created by developer Small World has just completed a trial in partnership with the Australian Breastfeeding Association.

Five women in Victoria, Australia, took part in the trial which offered generic resources, as well as a network of lactation counselors, who offer assistance through the video function of Google Glass.

At the end of the test period, all five women were still breastfeeding. One woman in particular said the app made a crucial difference in establishing a successful breastfeeding relationship with her child. The woman happened to reside in a quite isolating location and she suffered from cracked and bleeding nipples, as well as mastitis.

What do you think?

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