About Me

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Roslyn, NY
Hi, my name is Laura. Life has changed just a bit. I'm still a nutritionist and mama, but now I am living out in the NYC burbs with another bambino on the way very soon. Although my life may not be that different from other moms, I get a kick out of sharing all the hilarious, dramatic, emotional, joyful and tearful moments in my child's life and beyond....plus a lot of good stuff on feeding your little foodie and yourself! A healthy baby begins with a healthy and happy mama.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Life, Love, and Food with Lola: Dishing out confessions from a nutritionist mama: Baby Nurse Nation

Life, Love, and Food with Lola: Dishing out confessions from a nutritionist mama: Baby Nurse Nation: Manhattan is a different planet.  We begin to believe that our way of life here is normal.  There is not much that surprises me anymore.  Wh...

Baby Nurse Nation

Manhattan is a different planet.  We begin to believe that our way of life here is normal.  There is not much that surprises me anymore.  Whether it's a dog riding in a stroller dressed in a suit and adorned with jewels or a naked rollerblader wearing only a thong, it's all normal here.

My Italian friend's parents moved in when her first child was born to help in every way, especially with the cooking.  (I can just imagine a huge bowl of ravioli with gravy on the table every night during those first few months).   It is culturally normal for some Italians and other families to live together.   Well, not the Jews.  In the Jewish culture, it has become customary to hire someone called a "baby nurse".  I don't even think these women are nurses.  In fact, I'm pretty sure of it.

So this was just one more thing that I started to believe was normal in NYC.  I had to "book" a baby nurse to come live in my apartment when we came home from the hospital.  This wasn't like booking a room or an appointment.  I was supposed to book a person?  There's no room for you, your husband and the baby to live, but of course you must have room for a stranger to live with you as well.   I think baby nurses are employed by so many Jews because no new mother wants her Jewish mother or mother-in-law living with her for any extended period of time.  That's just not part of Jewish culture.  We might refer to cohabitating with our families as just plain meshuga.

Some people do it the old-fashioned way; by themselves!  I'm not saying we are spoiled.   I think it is just a cultural thing, kind of like lox and bagels.  Outside of NYC and LA, a baby nurse may seem foreign and unnecessary, but here it is normal and another "must-have" to get you through the tough beginnings.   For most of you who have probably never heard about this  baby nurse mania until you started watching "Bethenny Ever After" or "The Rachel Zoe Project", let me tell you exactly what they do.  My baby nurse arrived in my apartment about 10 minutes after I got home from the hospital.  Within 5 minutes, she started rearranging the nursery (furniture and all) so the functionality made much more sense.  She took out everything in the drawers and organized clothes, blankets, etc.  She was already worth her weight in gold to me.

Let's rewind just a little bit.  Neither my husband nor I had EVER even changed a diaper in our lives.  We were clueless.  We were scared.  We only went through 300 years of combined post-baccalaureate education but we couldn't figure out how to change a diaper or mix the formula properly?  Organic chemistry was easier than raising a newborn baby?  Well, that's a tough call.  Not everyone can be a Orgo TA, Uncle Jeffrey.  What was wrong with us?  I'm still not sure I can answer this question but at the time, despite all our years of combined medical and health education, Nurse Jackie was a true genius and we were total morons.  We were slaves to her wisdom and guidance.  This was not the Showtime hit tv drama, this was Three Buraks and a Baby Nurse.  It was a reality tv show without cameras.  There was laughing, crying, and more crying (mostly by me, not by my baby).

Jackie was to us as Elmo is to Lola; a bona fide superhero.  Baby nurses are the equivalent of a very experienced, calm, collected, patient, multi-tasking mom, which was basically the polar opposite of me at the time.  They carefully record feeding and diapering schedules, bath the babies daily, wash their clothes after every wear, and hold them for hours on end to help them get to sleep.  Basically, they do everything that a new mom THINKS she is incapable of doing which is everything.  One of the most beneficial reasons to hire a nurse is to recover from labor and delivery and get some quality sleep, especially at night.  As a breastfeeding (pumping) mom, I was awake every 2-3 hours in the beginning anyway, so continous sleep was only in my wildest dreams.  If I tried to sleep any longer, my utters would wake me up just when I started to hit that delicious deep sleep that only sleep-deprived people deliriously crave, and they would beg for some relief from the pump.  As luck would have it, the actual day the nurse was leaving was the day I had finally weaned off all pumping so my only chance at sleeping was now long gone.  

So, like every other luxury in life, a baby nurse comes with a price.  I used to cringe when I hit the ATM at the end of each week.  Not only do we pay these "nurses" the equivalent to a first semester college tuition, but we provide them with room and board and take their food orders.  Just like most New Yorkers, we were ordering food delivery every single night which does not come cheap.  Our nurse was not demanding but I have heard some stories.  Luckily, we only had to order a lot of Chinese food, salmon and pasta.  After all though, they are taking care of our precious bundles and we want to keep them happy so they don't suddenly leave and then we sh*t our pants.  

With the recent births of some friend's babies, I have realized that a lot of the baby nurse nonsense is just plain nonsense.  The baby is going to thrive whether you feed him at exactly 10:00am.  The baby is going to stay clean whether you give him a bath EVERY night at 6:00pm with natural soap and special soft towels and a yellow Bear-shaped sponge to rest under the baby.  My husband combed the baby stores city-wide to find this specific sponge.  

In my opinion, employing a baby nurse delays the inevitable.  As much as I relied on and worshipped my nurse, I felt guilty that I was not stepping up to the plate.  I was a new mom and this child was my responsibility from the moment she was conceived.  Although I clearly recall sitting on the ground of aisle 3 in CVS hysterically crying to my dad about an hour before my baby nurse was about to leave for good that day, I knew it was my time to step in and grow up a little.  It was not just me anymore.  I had my little girl to take care of for the rest of my life, no matter how sleep-deprived and scared I knew I would be at times throughout the journey.

Let's be clear now.  I never said I am not planning on having a baby nurse again.  Remember, I am not living with my Jewish mother for an extended period of time.  Just kidding, mom.  Happy Passover.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Earthquake, Lola's birthday, Hurricane: In that order

First there was an earthquake on the east coast.  No biggie to me.  I was enjoying Mack and Manco's pizza on the Ocean City boardwalk at the time and my husband was motioning me to come into one of those tie-dyed Grateful Dead type stores that we used to love at the malls in high school.  (As a side note, I'm pretty sure he was in his own personal heaven).  I am used to the ground shaking in NYC from the subway so I didn't notice.  

Then we got news of a massive impending hurricane.  OK, I could handle that because they always blow these storms out of proportion anyway.  But then the news broke that the hurricane would hit our area on the day of Lola's birthday party.    Mother Nature was now messing with another mother....me.  I was upset but we had to cancel the party.  My mom kept reminding me that I should just be glad she's not 4 because then she would actually know it was her birthday and get upset.

So we ate some cake on Lola's actual birthday which was two days before the hurricane, and on the day of the planned party, we suddenly found ourselves transported from the beach back up north to my in-law's house in New Jersey.  My mother-in-law insisted we come stay with them because she was convinced that we may not live through it if it wasn't under her roof.  If you know my mother-in-law, you would know that she had been preparing for this storm her whole life.  We ate more delicious food than you could imagine and Lola slept until 8am the next morning which is rare but always a blessing from above.  She was fed about 10 courses of her Ya Ya's home-cooked food, so it was no wonder she slept late.  It ended up being a fun weekend that we will never forget.

So, in the same week, three monumental events occurred.  Although two out of three were natural disasters, Lola's first birthday was obviously the most memorable.  Thank goodness "Natural Disaster Week" held off until August of this year instead of last when I was an immobile whale and about to give birth to Hurricane Lola.      
August 22, three days before meeting Lola  

It has been just over a year since I was waddling down the street in 100 degree heat with Lola inside my gigantic belly waiting for her to make her appearance.  Unbelievable.  A year ago I stood in line by myself for 45 minutes to get my hands on a Shake Shack burger on its opening day on 86th Street.  My appetite had kicked into high gear around the last month and nothing, not even a long line and extreme heat, could keep me from the smell of burgers and fries which normally don't tempt me so much.  I remember my legs and back starting to hurt but I held my ground.  Every minute in line was well worth the wait as I finally sunk my pregnant fangs into a perfectly cooked Shackburger and crinkly fries.  I was a hungry mama and I devoured the entire meal in about five minutes.  I still think there should be a separate pregnant line like there is a stroller line.  All I know is if I ever see another pregnant woman in line at Shack Shake, she can go in front of me.

Lola, 5 months, sporting her Shack Tee

Anyway, I've been reflecting a lot lately on the past year as Lola has officially become a one-year-old toddler.  Everyday I look at her in complete amazement.  I can't believe she is mine sometimes.  She is a miracle in every sense of the word as every baby is, but she is MY miracle.  I keep thinking that only one year ago, she had just entered the outside world. And then my little miracle turned me a little meshugana...yup, I went a little crazy.

I find it hard to believe that new moms are perfectly happy and life is a bowl of cherries.  My bowl was full of Xanax.  When I brought Lola home from the hospital, I was scared shitless.  I had never even changed a diaper in my life.  I had a very difficult time with breastfeeding and recurrent mastitis, coupled with sleep deprivation and a sense of a complete loss of freedom. I didn't think I would ever be able to do the simplest things such as shower, get dressed in actual clothes, or eat a real meal again.  Especially in New York where I was used to a life of roaming free for the past 10 years, I felt trapped.  I hated when people told me to sleep when the baby sleeps..yeah right.  As any new mom knows, you THINK you have about a million things to do when the baby is sleeping.  Relaxation was no longer in my vocabulary.  I was so anxious that I couldn't chill out, which is a far cry from my pre-baby mellow self.    I would walk aimlessly for miles a day through the park just so Lola would sleep and I knew she was safe in her stroller.  I remember just wishing that the haze would lift and I would feel OK again.  The worst part is that I felt guilty that I couldn't enjoy Lola like I thought I would from people always posting those fake happy well-rested pictures of them with their new babies on Facebook.  I have to give props to my husband because he could not have been more supportive emotionally.  He didn't change any diapers, but that is another story.

I made an appointment with my OB-Gyn to discuss the possibility of medication. He wrote me a prescription for Zoloft but I never took it.  Instead, my Zoloft was the decision to hire a night nurse for a few weeks to take care of Lola all night so I could sleep since she was on 100% formula at that point.  I was willing to sing for money on the subway and/or sell my right arm to afford another nurse at this point.  I now think of it as a mental investment and the best investment I've ever made. We did have some help the first three weeks but I was pumping all day and night and had mastitis during that period so I did not sleep much.  Anyway, once I got some sleep for a few weeks and my hormone levels started leveling out, the fog finally lifted.

As I look back at that time, I realize that Lola was a very easy, happy baby and it was all me.  I mean, she slept most of the day!  What was I doing all day?  I have no idea.  I was overwhelmed with the initial shock of taking care of a baby coupled with the sleep deprivation.

The reason I am writing about my super tough beginning is because it makes the rest of my story and my first year with Lola that much sweeter.  Believe me, the first 2-3 months is not the only difficult time, but it was the most dramatic and life-changing for me.  With the passing of each month came a different, more amazing child.  Each month a baby grows is like 5 years for adults.  I have cried, laughed, and counted my blessings more in this past year than in my whole life.  I have learned more about myself and my place in this world since she was born.  I appreciate my parents at a whole new level.  I now love someone with an indescribable and immeasurable love. 

Lola is now crawling, cruising, playing, interacting, laughing, pointing, babbling and eating everything in sight.  We really know each other now and I feel a sense of communication between us which is extremely comforting.  I feel confident now that I am doing the best job I can.  What a difference a year makes...I can't wait for the ride to continue. 
Lola on her friendly dinosaur 

Happy at the beach 
Instead of a baby book, I have been recording her first year in a calendar.  Inside the calendar I found some cards that friends and family had written to me when Lola was born.  A card from my mother-in-law fell out.  In a Hallmarkesque way that only a card can do, it read "Life goes by in the blink of an eye...but for now, let the hours be slow--let each turn of the world be a chance for this girl to be loved more than she'll ever know."

I teared up a little when I read this because I used to count down the days until she was 3 months old, or the "magic number" for sleep and everything else to change for the better.  Now I cherish every hour of every day with her.  A baby's first year is not just incredible, so is the parent's first year. If you think about it, we transform from scared, clueless, exhausted amateurs into confident, schooled, a-little-less-exhausted pros.  We still have so much to learn, but our evolution in one year is also quite amazing.      

Right before Lola was born, people were calling dibs to go with me and take advantage of the stroller line at Shake Shack.  So now Lola has given me an "in" at the Shake Shack, that is until she outgrows the stroller.  Then we may have to have another baby.  Thanks baby girl.

Her footprints...we lost these in the hospital!  

Lola's birthday, August 25, 2010
Born 7 pounds, 13.9 ounces, 20 1/4 inches 
1 month, good baby, crazy mama with a fake smile

2 months, preparing for Halloween at Grandma's house

3 months, Thanksgiving 

4 months, Christmas
5 months, her Great Grandma Lola's birthday 

6 months, rolling around 

7 months, sitting up 

8 months, crawling and using walker

9 months, cruising 
10 months, did I take a 10 month picture?

11 months, I'm a baby machine 
1 year, pancake birthday breakfast
I'm 1 year old, bring on the cake!  
Finally, mom gives me a really big piece of cake! 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

"You can't beat the Van Wyck, Jerry"

I have no idea where the last few weeks have gone.  I literally have had no time to sit down and write.  Maybe it's the summer, or maybe it's because we have been driving on the Van Wyck.  For some reason, we thought it would be a great idea to rent a cabana at a beach club in Atlantic Beach this summer with our friends. I know, this was a foreign concept to me too.  I'm a Jew from South Jersey.  Philly-area kids grew up going "down the shore" to Margate, NJ or a nearby beach close to Atlantic City.  I had never even heard of a beach club.   I kept thinking about Brandon Walsh at the Beverly Hills Beach Club on 90210.  He was a cabana boy and Dylan McKay used to stay in a cabana during his alcoholic years if I remember right.  I will have to ask my friend Shannon to verify that.  I loved those episodes.   Anyway, it's not exactly like 90210.  The cabana is just a little hut with storage space and shower.  We can't stay overnight so it requires driving back and forth.  Don't get me wrong, once you actually get to the beach club, the beach is beautiful and the service is great.  The problem is the 24 mile trip has taken us, on average, about an hour and a half each way.  The real problem is the 3.9 miles that is I-678 South, AKA the Van Wyck Expressway which runs near the JFK airport.  The only express part about this expressway is how quick it takes Lola to lose her cookies in the car.  Every time we head to the beach, we sit on the Van Wyck and it's just a matter of time before someone says it.

"You can't beat the Van Wyck, Jerry."

The Van Wyck TODAY

It's true.  There is no way around it.  Like a lot of BS in the NYC area, you just deal.  You don't know why but you do.  Even my crazy husband who swears he can always find another route to avoid any traffic jam (and I have to admit, he's pretty relentless and successful at it), admits to defeat by the Van Wyck every time.  He can't handle the defeat and today I thought he was really gonna lose it, but then we both laughed because there was nothing else to do.  We couldn't even get off the "expressway" if we wanted to....we were trapped without an exit in sight.

So like every other trip at this point in the drive, Lola starts to complain.   I don't blame her at all.  She has become a victim of the Van Wyck as well, except she has no idea what's going on and probably just thinks we are keeping her prisoner in her car seat.  She's not even allowed to face forward yet so she has now been looking at the back seat for a good half hour at this point.  She is a crawling, cruising baby now and we have confined her in this seat with not even the back of my head to keep her entertained.  I jump back there and the fun begins.  I've had some experience with entertaining Lola pretty much anywhere now, so I pull out my bag of tricks.  I put on a hat and sunglasses and I let her attack me.  She pulls on my face and rips out some of my hair, laughs, and then she's bored again.  That usually lasts about ten minutes.  Then I tickle her feet for a while.  We put on some James Taylor for a while and sing really loud, and Lola seems to dig it every time.  Then I pull out the puffs.  Thank goodness for those puffs.  They are basically the equivalent of air, but I haven't met a baby who didn't love to eat them.  I give her one puff at a time.  Depending on how many puffs I packed, this activity can last a pretty long time.  Today I forgot to refill the puffs, so I was in trouble.  I had to resort to the last resort otherwise known as the iphone.  Lola holds it with iron fists and I put on the "Where's Puppy's Nose" app.  The same thing plays over and over but she is obsessed.  When we got to the beach today, I took it away so we could get out of the car, and she flipped out for about 30 seconds like usual.                  

Let's just say Lola is not at the best age for the beach.  Actually, 10-11 months or the crawling stage might be the worst age.  Within the first five minutes of arriving at the beach today, Lola somehow had a crab's claw sticking out of her mouth.  I screamed and pulled it out.  I cannot make this stuff up.    We basically spend the day trying to prevent her from killing herself.  Let's just say it's no day at the beach.

Lola loves the sand.  She loves it so much that she tries to eat it all day long.  I feel like she doesn't eat much on beach days because she is full from her sand meals.  The other day I was telling my friend about Lola and her sand snacks, and she informed me that babies can get salmonella from eating sand. I told her that her news was awesome and I thanked her.

I do everything in my power to prevent her from eating the sand, but she still sneaks a little.  I think she will be just fine.  I'm sure we all ate sand as babies, right?

I haven't actually sat in a beach chair for more than five minutes this summer because I am on Lola-alert.  I am slathering sunscreen on her pale baby skin, fighting to keep her hat on, and trying to prevent her from crawling in and out of the baby pool.  Sometimes she finds a piece of food on the ground too quickly for me to stop her from eating it.  I just pray it was food from the same day.

It took me about a month to realize that there is such thing as a swim diaper.  I was THAT mom putting a regular diaper on Lola and watching it expand to the size and weight of a large melon when she was in the pool.  I guess diapers these days can hold about ten gallons of liquid.  I didn't care too much when another mom pointed this out to me, but I figured I would buy a pack of the swimmy diapers for the rest of the summer so Lola could actually fit in her bathing suits without the mega expansion of the regular diapers.  Today I put on one of these new diapers and Lola peed through it right away onto my shirt.  Great.  Not only do I have to struggle with changing the regular diapers all day, now I have to deal with changing between two different types of diapers.  Putting a new diaper on Lola these days is as easy as driving on the Van Wyck.  She is my little acrobatic monkey and twists herself like a pretzel to avoid laying still on her back.      

Today I decided to try a walk on the beach with Lola in the Baby Bjorn.  The walk with her down to the ocean felt like I was carrying a fifty pound ton of bricks through hot cement.  I may never attempt that activity ever again.

My beautiful ton of bricks

By the end of the day, Lola is covered in sand from head to foot and everything in between.  I have no choice but to wash her off in the shower in the cabana.  Let me tell you that it is not an easy task to shower with a baby.  Once she gets wet and soapy, she is like holding a huge balloon dipped in oil.  She clearly does not enjoy this experience so she's also a ticking time bomb and I have to wash her off in less than two minutes.   It's just a matter of time before she tries to climb back onto the sand in her clean clothes.

After we have a relaxing day at the beach, we usually head to a nearby restaurant for dinner just to keep the party going.  Lola sits in a highchair now and if I am out of puffs, which is usually the case this late in the day, I ask for bread and lots of it.  A piece of bread can entertain her for at least five minutes.  If you multiply that times ten pieces of bread which continue to fall to the ground, we've usually got about an hour until we need to leave.  Babies have ADD and are on speed at the same time.  It is a race to the finish, but we can usually drink our wine and eat our meal at lightning speed while Lola happily eats her bread and other bites of our dishes.  We ask for the check while we shovel in the last bites of our meals, and one of us picks up Lola and heads to the car while the other pays the check.

I am so lucky that Lola is a really good happy baby.  I enjoy every moment with her and I laugh all day. But I would strongly advise against EVER driving on the Van Wyck Expressway with a 10-month-old baby to a beach with no gated area every weekend of your summer.

Throughout this first year on my journey with Lola, I've thought about this quote so many times when times get tough.  Yes, I used to love the Indigo Girls.    

"You have to laugh at yourself because you'd cry your eyes out if you didn't."--Emily Saliers.    

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"My buns, they don't feel nothin' like steel."

"I feel like such a heifer. I had two bowls of Special K, 3 pieces of turkey bacon, a handful of popcorn, 5 peanut butter M&M's and like 3 pieces of licorice."  

Whenever I eat a lot of well, everything, I think of Cher's line from one of my favorite movies of all time...Clueless of course..."duh as if."  I have counseled countless moms over the years who are trying to get their life and weight under control.  One of the biggest complaints they have is the temptation to eat their children's food (which is often chicken fingers, fries, pizza, and pasta), and then eat their own meals...and then eat all day long in between. They feel helpless and clueless about how to regain self-control.  As Lola grows and my mommy knowledge matures along with her, I become a more well-rounded person.  I am constantly learning things about myself and about life in general.  Before Lola (B.L.), I didn't believe a damn thing anyone told me about raising kids!  I thought, "Oh yeah, when I have kids, that won't happen to me. So you're saying you haven't slept in how many months?  Yeah right, my baby will sleep just fine."  Ha!  I obviously had to learn the hard way.  That is a whole other topic for a whole other day.

B.L., I couldn't understand my mommy clients the way that I can now.  When I look back on my day today, I did all the things I had advised against including standing up while eating, eating while preparing Lola's meals, and eating while feeding her.  I have no clue what I ate today because I had no meals.  I didn't make my own healthy meal and sit down with a knife and fork and enjoy it.  THAT world seldom exists anymore when I'm home with Lola.  I worry about her and I neglect myself at times.  But let's be honest, isn't that a mom's job?   Actually, no.  The real key is to take care of BOTH of you.  

Days like today are fortunately becoming more rare for me as I try to be more conscious of my actions, but they do happen.  When I was first home with Lola in the beginning, I had no schedule.  I barely ate.  I was just trying to stay afloat.  Now, I eat all the time and too much at times when I am taking care of her all day.  Like most moms, I am looking for balance.  Ten months ago I couldn't even balance on two feet.  Now I try to achieve balance by working part-time to stay involved in my profession and keep my sanity.  I need to talk to adults because babies don't understand me and they don't care.  At times I feel like I am turning into a baby.  I went to pick Lola up off the floor the other morning before she could grab something sharp or dangerous, and I bumped my head on a table and literally started crying like a baby.  I stopped after she looked at me with a crinkled nose, and I blamed it on the pre-coffee ~6:30/7:00am when-Lola-wakes-up haze.        

I praise stay-at-home moms to the high heavens because it is the toughest job on earth, but I enjoy doing both (and I am lucky that my profession favors this type of lifestyle).  I try (keyword is TRY) to fit in yoga or a run in the park, and I try to practice what I preach with food.  I make time in my day for exercise and errands while my nanny watches Lola, and on the days I am with her, I still make time by going for long walks in Central Park or Strollercizing (awesome stroller classes in the park www.strollercize.com ).  But sometimes I do nothing.  That's ok too.    

"I feel like bailing, dude." 

"Dee, come on.  I know what you mean but at least it's exercise!"   

Now that Lola is crawling all over the place, I am beyond exhausted just from chasing her all day!  Yes, I count this as exercise.
Throughout my years of counseling clients on everything nutritional under the sun, I have found that most of us lack balance and inconsistency in our lives, and if we can just work on instilling or restoring balance, we will be an improved version of ourselves and a better role model for our children.  Whether you are a new mama or not, find something that helps you feel more balanced in your health.  Keep a food log in your phone or computer or an old-fashioned note pad, schedule a yoga or spin class in your calendar so it's like an appointment, cook a healthy meal, or get a massage.  This is not BS like it sounds.  I only write from experience.  One healthy or unhealthy activity leads to another.   If you work out in the morning, you will be more inclined to eat healthier throughout the day.  If you drink at a work lunch, you are more likely to eat a crappy dinner, not work-out, and count the minutes until your child goes to sleep so you can also pass out.    

I am not the "eat fish and steamed vegetables for two meals a day" and "work-out five or six times a week" type of nutritionist or person for that matter.  I'm more of  the "try to only eat Shake Shack two to three times a month instead of each week," and "drink a little less" (whatever that means in your situation :)).  I love food and wine, and I overdo it like everyone else at times.  I just try to be honest with myself and my clients.    

Be real with yourself and make some small changes. If you strive for some consistency in your crazy life, I promise you will feel better mentally and physically, or at least until the next time you start eating your kid's fries again.    

        Lola at Shake Shack....no Shack Burger for her yet!  

Friday, June 17, 2011


I began studying nutrition when I entered college at 18 years old and I have learned from the best professors in the country at Penn State and NYU.  They said it and I always believed it.  "Breast is best."  In the nutrition community, we preach breastfeeding and its benefits like it's our job...because it is our job.  Well guess what?  Breast was NOT best for me.  As a matter of fact, breastfeeding was my biggest struggle thus far.

My hospital stay was like a great night of partying back at Penn State....you feel great at the time and you are not even thinking about what happens next and then bam!  The music ends (That's Amore for those of you who frequented The Big Easy), the bar closes, and they send you home as fast as you can say La Leche League.  The post-labor baby bliss was over and the hangover set in.  I gave birth on a Wednesday night, stayed Thursday, and was discharged Friday morning.  This hurried length of stay is routine now in hospitals.  There was no time to learn about breastfeeding no matter how many Lactation Consultants I met with during my stay.  There were dozens of visitors coming in and out of my room and it was overwhelming.  Of course there was enough time to scare the crap out of us and show us the required video about Shaken Baby Syndrome.  My husband will never be the same after that video.   Anyway, I just assumed I would breastfeed.  I just assumed Lola would latch on and she would happily nurse while I watched the Real Housewives peacefully in my comfy glider chair I purchased just for nursing.

She latched on twice.....that's two times total in three weeks, and once was in the hospital.  As I look back, I'm sure Lola could sense my anxiety.  She would wail when I would attempt to place her in position like a football or any of the other dozen positions I was taught.  I swear I remember reading a pamphlet or two on just breastfeeding positions alone!  What was this the WWF?  Sleeper Hold?  It was more like WTF?!  I went through countless phone calls with lactation consultants, visits from friends who were successful at breastfeeding, and tons of googling.  I felt like a failure and my picture of that beautiful bonding experience that I've only heard about and used to preach about to clients was not in the cards for me.  I folded, and threw all my chips into the big, bad PUMP.

How hard could this be?  Everyone told me they used the pump as a tool for some freedom from the baby...so dad could give the baby a bottle, so she could go out to dinner, so she could go back to work.  Well a breast pump is literally that....it pumps milk from your breasts into bottles.  I was now not only scared shitless of being a new mama, I had turned into an actual cow.  At least in some countries such as India, Hindus consider the cow to be a sacred animal.  I did not feel sacred.  I felt like a cow, plain and simple.  But I was giving Lola breastmilk and that was all that mattered to me.  I was able to provide her with the "liquid gold" that may boost immunity, protect from allergies, enhance intelligence, etc.  I found no freedom from pumping because I had to be home every three hours and up all night anyway.  I was a slave to the pump.  I clearly remember thinking about throwing it out the window.  I would have brief visions of my old life without gargantuan sore boobs strapped to suction cups every three hours.  In frequent episodes of delirium, I truly felt like my husband looked at me sometimes and saw me chewing grass in an open field.  His wife was gone. She had become the only source of milk at the local dairy.   

Suddenly, I developed high fevers and flu-like symptoms.  I had painful red lumps in my breasts.  I  learned that I had mastitis, which is something else I had no clue about until it happened to me.  I called my doctor and he said it was very common and not to worry.  Very common?  How come I had never heard of anyone else with mastitis?  I began asking other moms and about 8/10 said that yes, they had had episodes of mastitis.  Mastitis usually occurs when a milk duct becomes clogged and the fluid inside gets infected.  The best part about it is that the cure for mastitis is more nursing or pumping.  Awesome!  All I wanted to do was stop pumping and I couldn't.  I had to relieve the clogged milk duct.  

To make a long story short, I had to take a broad spectrum antibiotic for two weeks and after several failed attempts at weaning off the pump slowly, I just stopped cold turkey with the advice of a nurse at the doctor's office.  I was willing to do anything to stop the milk from flowing and  the repeated episodes of painful mastitis.  I knew I had to stop pumping and get my life back in order so I could be a good mom.  I stopped pumping, wore cabbage leaves and ice packs in my bra 24/7, took cold showers, drank some special sage tea, and suffered for about a week until the milk eventually stopped flowing and the mastitis resolved.  I must have spent a thousand dollars on gadgets so I could breastfeed, and then another thousand dollars on gimmicks so I could stop breastfeeding.  What a shitshow.  On several occasions, my husband told me he smelled something awful.  Oh, it's just me, I literally had a salad of bagged frozen peas and cabbage leaves in my bra all the time.  How attractive.   

Like most new moms, I felt an enormous amount of pressure and responsibility to provide my baby with the best of everything.  Especially in the very beginning of a baby's life, nutrition and feeding play the most important roles for proper growth.  Newborns do three things: eat, sleep, pee and poop.  That's it.  If they don't eat enough, they don't sleep, pee or poop.  Lola drank breastmilk for about three weeks (although it seemed like eternity to me) and then we switched to formula once I finally stopped pumping.  She could not be any healthier or happier both then and now.  She was just as plump and delicious on her formula, and I was able to be a better mommy to her.  Many of my friends breastfed and pumped without difficulty and they enjoyed the process.  If it works well for you, that's great because it is an excellent complete form of nutrition for your baby.  But if not, don't beat yourself up.  It is very common to have trouble with it like I did.  Whether your baby is fed breastmilk, formula, or a combination, he or she will be just fine.  I promise.  You tried your best and you will be a healthier and happier mama if you do what's best for BOTH of you.  I know what's best for me right now is a glass of vino. 

Goodnight and Moo,