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Breast Feeding

  • My Personal Parenting PTSD

    Over the weekend I hosted a women’s dinner where we celebrated our uteruses by winding our fallopian tubes around the moon, and dancing our menses deep into the earth’s core. Or we made quinoa and grilled some fish. Whatever.

    My goddess friend Olivia brought her precious priestess daughter, a mere babe of 7 months. They were like one glorious unit – the perfect depiction of the serene Madonna and child. As I gazed upon their unbounded beauty, and how physically/spiritually/emotionally interwoven they were, I thought to myself, “Holy fuck how did I ever get through that baby stage? That shit was hard as fuck.”

    Looking back, I still cannot believe how much work it was to keep that thing alive and happy. It was so intense, I actually blocked out a lot of the experience. Watching Olivia, I realized that she was in this whole other dimension of babyness that I couldn’t relate to – not because I didn’t understand – but because my mind has filtered away those memories to protect myself.

    Every description of motherhood Olivia revealed felt literally insane to me.

    Olivia: Well, I haven’t had that much time to do that because I haven’t really left Rosey with anyone else for more than an hour.
    Toni: WHAT? Are you serious?? You have been with her this whole time?
    Olivia: Yeah, basically. I mean, how long would you leave Munch with other people when she was 7 months?
    Toni: I mean maybe an hour tops. But I hardly ever did that.

    It’s like I have PTSD!! Baby Munch is my personal Vietnam! Not that she was a hard baby either. She was super chill. But the level of commitment and patience required for a baby was like nothing I ever experienced, and now that it’s over, I can’t believe I ever got through it alive.

    Now that The Munch is almost 5, the freedom I have is unparalleled to what it was like when she was baby. She’s really independent and that has given me my independence. But I guess the reason why she’s so secure in the world is because of the hard time I put in when she was an infant. The breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and constant connection helped create a strong foundation between us, and now she is like a little bird that can fly away. Not too far though, she still needs me to make her sandwiches and charge the iPad.



  • Maybe My Kid Should Start Smoking

    So this whole weaning thing has been wayyyyyyyyy dramatic today.  I knew this was going to be the case, which was why I have avoided it for so long.  I feel as if I am seriously detoxing The Munch.  Like she has been addicted to my tit juice and now she is in a state of total withdrawal.

    When kids breastfeed oxytocin is released, which is considered the bonding hormone, or the “love” chemicals of our brain.  So literally your baby gets high as fuck on love.  No wonder The Munch is so attached to the process! It is like nursing reboots her operating system and she is shot up with the love drug.

    So taking that away from her is somewhat traumatizing.  Not only for the ritual that she has become accustomed to, but also because The Munch’s body chemistry is used to that love boost.  So to take that away from her is this serious crash to her eco system.  Beyond the fact that it makes her feel comforted, The Munch is having to adjust to a life of total sobriety.

    Munch spent most of the morning asking for to do “nana” and I kept trying to distract her with cake, lollipops, and letting her watch Mickey Mouse Club House.  I was letting her indulge in every decadence I usually keep her away from, but by the time it was 2pm she had 60 grams of sugar surging through her veins and her eyes were bleeding from staring at the computer screen for 2 hours.

    It was exactly naptime, which is the key time she would usually breastfeed to fall asleep, and that is where everything fell apart.

    Today was the second full day without “nana” and I endured one of the hardest parenting moments of my life.  Unlike if a guy were crying in my face because he wanted to suck on my boobs, I actually cared about Munch was going through.  Obviously breastfeeding a toddler is not just about nutrition or their immune systems, but there is a huge emotional component as well.  She wept as if she were in a genuine state of mourning.  The expression on her face was so tormented I couldn’t help but cry too.  There was something so pure and primal about her distress.  The Munch was in a genuine state of suffering, and I felt like nothing could console her.  She was grieving that she had to leave behind this very important part of her existence.  I tried to rationalize with Munch, but I was useless through my tears as I watched this creature I love sob with such passion.  So I held her and let her weep thinking that if she were every going to move forward, it would only be through confronting her pain completely.

    Munch: “Please Mamma, please!!! I want to do nana! PLEASE!”

    Toni: “Munch, Mamma’s nanas don’t work anymore.  They only work for 3 years, and now that you are 3, they don’t work!”

    Munch: “But please Mamma! Just one side!! Please!!!!!!!!!”

    Toni: “Munch, I can’t.  The nana gnomes came on your birthday and took my nanas away, and now they don’t work anymore.  The nana gnomes brought them to the new babies being born so they can have nana.”

    Munch: “But Mamma please!! I really want to do nana!! Please Mamma PLEASE!”

    Toni: “But listen Munch, the nana gnomes have planed a really big surprise for you. To celebrate the end of nana.  Tomorrow there are going to be fireworks in the sky just for you!  The are like giant fairies that explode in the sky!! And it is all for you! Because they are so happy that you don’t do nana anymore!”

    Munch: “But Mamma I really really really want to do nana! Please! And I want you to wear a dress.”

    Toni: “You want me to wear a dress?”

    Munch: “A pink dress and tights. And I really want to do nana!!” PLEASE MAMMA PLEASE!!

    This went on for a while.  Finally, after I thought my heart was going to crumble, The Munch decided she would eat some cake instead.  So I let her have her 3rd piece of the day, and then strapped her to my back to take a walk so she could sleep.  As she slept my friend Gita and I saw a bald eagle.

    Gita: “Maybe it is a sign that you are doing the right thing with Munch.”

    Toni: “Maybe it is a sign that America is becoming extinct since tomorrow is the 4th!”

    The afternoon with Munch was peaceful.  I am hoping that our moment was her final lamentation of what was, and she has moved on.  That she had fully face her sorrow in order to truly let go.  Of course Munch will probably be in her 20s and still think that fireworks are for the celebration of her no longer doing nana, but I am thinking that is okay.

    I wish I could have gotten my hands on some Kiddy Klonopin for The Munch, or maybe I should have gotten her into smoking to make this transition easier.


  • Growing Up is Poopie

    The Munch turned 3!

    This concept seems magical to her.  How she was this one number… that number being 2, and then after the second of July she is another number… the number 3.  She has been transformed from 2 to 3 like a numerical caterpillar, and The Munch is delighted by it.

    I remember the feeling of being absurdly excited about my birthday when I was a kid.  Beyond the presents, attention, and cake, the thought of aging was fascinating.  There was something thrilling about the next year -as if 8 would be drastically different than 7.  I was getting closer to something with each year I got older. What that something was exactly wasn’t clear, but the looming vision of growth compelled me.  Inching towards adulthood and becoming a person I didn’t know yet, but knew I was one day going to be.  I would try to picture myself as a grown up.  I would wonder how big my boobs would be or what job I would have, and that unknown vision of endless possibilities inspired me.

    Now that I am an adult, and pretty much know myself, birthday’s blow.  Yup, now I am 33.  Pretty much the same as 32, but with a new pair of Birkenstocks to break in.  The mystery of what will be is over.  And now I know the real truth about aging.  With each year comes new responsibilities, pressures, and expectations.  Maturing essentially means sacrificing more and more and more and more, as you give up more and more and more.

    Sadly for The Munch, with her turning 3 she too is going to be weighted down by new responsibilities and expectations.  The fist being she is now off the boob.  No more teat for her.  Her days of nana (what Munch calls breastfeeding) are over.

    Toni: “Happy birthday Munch!!!”

    Munch: “Mamma, I want to do nana.”

    Toni: “Well Munch, remember what we said.  Once it’s your birthday what happens?”

    Munch: “I turn three years old!”

    Toni: “And what happens when you are 3?”

    Munch: “No more nana!”

    Toni: “Right!”

    Munch: “ Okay, but can I just do one side?”

    Forget the fact I am negotiating with my child about wanting to only nurse on one side and not the other. Forget all that because I know it’s crazy that Munch and I have real conversations about this shit! Nana has gone on long enough and she is just too verbal to continue a day longer!!!  But now it is over.  I have to remind Munch that 3-year olds don’t do nana, and she has to accept it.

    But I feel for her when I see the disappointment in her face.  Even though the solar calendar tells you that you are now in fact a year older, you don’t feel any different.  You feel exactly the same as you did the day before, yet all this significance is placed on you as if you would actually feel the conversion.  I am telling Munch she is 3, and now she has to behave like a 3-year old, when she probably feels just like she did when she was 2 – and still thinks a boob in her mouth is a great idea.  But even though she didn’t put up a fight, I could see in The Munch’s eyes that she felt “maybe being 3 isn’t as rad as I thought.”


  • Dinner Party Don’ts

    Entering a dinner party scenario makes me feel socially awkward. It is not the same as a full on party where there is enough people, booze, and dry humping for you to just blend into the Bacchanalian pleasures. A dinner party is more civilized, more intimate, more pressure because your personality is on display and not just your physical assets. People expect to get to know you, especially if you are sitting next to them hogging all the bread.

    Going to a dinner party the other night made me realize that I have not been in a lot of social settings with members of the opposite sex recently. I am the type of girl that spends the majority of my communal time with girl friends. We do chick stuff like eat placenta soup, talk about mermaids, make menses moon calendars and armpit hair dolls…. I am accustomed to being surrounded by silver dusted feminine beams of maternal maidens.

    Point is that I normally don’t have to consider the potential humiliation of The Munch wanting to nurse in public, because it doesn’t matter in front of my fellow tribal sisters. But when your kid is beating their face against your boobs while grabbing your shirt to almost fully expose your tits when you are in a coed situation, it can lead to you sort of wanting to saw your own head off. I have come to conclusion that maybe sticking with chicks might make my life easier until I don’t have a fervent beast feeding off of me.

    “Gosh Mom… you are such a square!”

    February 15, 2012 • 1 year old, Adventures, Breast Feeding, Mommy Body • Views: 366

  • Your Pain Pains Me

    Empathy is the capacity to recognize, and to some extent share feelings (both positive and negative) that are being experienced by another sentient being. Without being empathetic, you can never be compassionate, which from the Buddhist perspective is the purest and most ultimate form of love. If someone is incapable of feeling empathy, they are labeled a sociopath, or psychopath. Not something I exactly aspire to, but after a year of parenting I wouldn’t mind an hour or two of being one.

    Not only do I feel overwhelming empathy for The Munch when she suffers, but I also have to deal with whatever she is going through directly. It is not like she goes off on her own to process. “Oh, I will be right back Mom. I am just going to think this over in my room and come back when I got everything sorted. Why don’t you just think of a funny status update while I do that.” It is really up to me to figure out what is going on, and some how come up with the solution.

    So let me describe to you my worst night of motherhood thus far.

    I put her to bed at 9:00, and by 11:00 she has woken up eight times. She is teething… a process that makes me believe in the devil, and that Satan is being reborn in the mouth of The Munch. From 11:00-6:00am she wakes up about every twenty minutes. She is sweating with a fever, thrashing, kicking, crying, grunting, moaning, and the occasional wailing. The only consolation is my boobs, which she sucks on relentlessly. Even when they are totally empty she gnaws on them in their deflated state. She seriously chews on my nipples like a baseball player, or cow, or something else that chews a lot that I cannot think of because I am delirious.

    Of course I couldn’t sleep through this and felt like I had been doing bad cocaine for 17 hours and was trying to come down in a motel room next to a dead donkey and a call girl from Vegas. By 7:00am I got up to flush my head down the toilette. By 8:50 The Munch fell back asleep and stayed that way until 1:00pm while I cried. Then she woke up, and decided she felt fine and practiced walking while I drooled into the pile of blood that my tears had transformed into. Maybe my baby is a total sociopath because she didn’t seem to have any empathy for me at all!

    July 6, 2011 • 9-12 months, Breast Feeding, Mommy Body, Mommy Mind, Parenting • Views: 244

  • Are Boobs Inherently Sexual?

    I had an epiphany the other day thinking about boobs. What I mean by epiphany is a decent thought worth sharing, and what I mean by boobs are those fun bags that hang off of ladies. It all started when I read an article my friend sent about breastfeeding in Mongolia. The author discusses how culturally acceptable and even encouraged public breastfeeding is, and I was totally at peace reading it until this part “My friend Buana, now 20, explained her gold-medal breastfeeding career to me: “I grew up in a yurt way out in the countryside. My mom always told me to drink up, that it was good for me. I thought that’s what every nine-year-old was doing. When I went to school, I stopped.” She looked at me with a mischievous twinkle in her eye. “But I still like to drink it sometimes.”

    Hmmmmmmmmmm… okay….

    This made me realize that for the Western mind, we see boobs as mostly sexual body parts. So when a young baby breastfeeds for the purpose of sustenance, health, and fitting in at mommy groups, it is okay. But as the baby gets older, it is hard not to feel there is a sexual component involved because we are a society obsessed with the sexuality of breasts.

    Now I am not an anthropologist or anything, but I am pretty sure that Mongolians living in yurts are not getting breast implants to enhance their sex appeal. Maybe for them boobies are not sexualized as much as they are functionalized. Perhaps it doesn’t even occur to them to question the sexuality factor because in Mongolia breastfeeding is not an intimate act, but a public one.

    Case and point…“If a woman’s breasts are engorged and her baby is not at hand, she will simply go around and ask a family member, of any age or sex, if they’d like a drink. Often a woman will express a bowlful for her husband as a treat, or leave some in the fridge for anyone to help themselves.”

    Now there is a visual to keep you entertained…

    I guess all of this would be hard to understand if I wasn’t experiencing the act of breastfeeding now. For me, my boobs are not only asexual, they are outright prude. I think they have both converted into Muslim fundamentalists, because they like to stay covered up too. And in no way, have I ever wondered if The Munch “likes me like that.”

    May 18, 2011 • 9-12 months, Breast Feeding, Mommy Body, Musings, Political Banter • Views: 1139

  • Breastfeeding in Public

    Although I am an advocate for breastfeeding in public, I get totally weirded out when people do it in front of me. Even though I do it to my friends all the time, I feel funny when I am the one witnessing it. I will tell you why… because I am looking at your boobs. Even though I am pretending not to, I am. I can’t help it. They are just there, staring at me like a Cyclops, and I am going to look.

    Now of course I think breastfeeding is natural and beautiful and blah blah blah, but it is still your boob. I don’t see boobs everyday, except for the ones attached to me, and I am bored of those.

    When the baby is really young it is easier, because they baby serves as sort of a stripper pasty, minus the sparkling dangling stuff. Point is, the baby means business, and is not letting go of your nipple or turning away even for the wonders of Cirque du Soleil. I will say however, that it can be awkward when someone looks at the baby attached to you and mentions how beautiful they are, because what are they really looking at? The top nip is still exposed you know.

    As the baby gets older, and more aware of the world, they get distracted. I could be feeding The Munch while someone shuts the door in the other room, and she will turn her head stretching my nip like taffy to check out the noise. Or lets say you and I are in a conversation and you laugh… The Munch will abandon her meal leaving me exposed to the world, just to participate in the fun. This can lead to an uncomfortable moment, because if you are anything like me, you are staring at my boob. The funny thing is, you are the one who feels like the pervert, even though I don’t feel like a flasher. What are you doing looking at my boob anyway? I am just doing what is a natural beautiful thing right?

    So my solution to the breastfeeding in public dilemma? A black bar. A black bar like they have in photos when there is a nip slip. Manufacture a black bar to magically matriculate once the nip feels the cool bite of air. That way no one ever has to feel weird!

    “Phew, now I can continue talking about my horoscope and not feel awkward…”

    May 12, 2011 • 9-12 months, Breast Feeding, Mommy Body, Mommy Mind, Political Banter • Views: 1830

  • The Painful Poo

    If you are eating right now, you probably don’t want to read this. This is going to be one of those posts that The Munch will resent me for when she is old enough to read, but since she can’t even tell the difference between shampoo and conditioner, I am going for it. This is the story of the painful poo.

    For the first 8 months of her life, The Munch subsisted on nothing but liquid. Now I am not a scientist, but I think it is safe to say that the general consistency of what was digested, mimicked the form that was ingested. You get where I am going with this… The coffee ice cream texture that exited her, happened with relative ease. Just a slippery release, without too much struggle.

    Now that she is eating some solid foods, there is more mass for her to contend with. Where once her sphincter had the lackadaisical quality of George W. Bush vacationing at the Ranch, now it has some work to do.

    So the other day, I was trying to finish an article while The Munch was busy picking up her toy, throwing it just beyond her reach, and grunting until I gave it back to her. I was getting a little stressed out because I wanted to submit it by 5. Not because I had an actual deadline, but people who are still in their pajamas at 4:15 need self-imposed time constraints.

    Everything seemed peaceful until The Munch started making that face. It is a face I have come to know well. Even though I do not know what you look like when you poo, if I had to pick out your face in a line up mid-poo, I would be able to no problem. Point is, there is a distinct look. Everything appeared to be coming out alright until suddenly she started to cry. Something was stuck, and believe you me, she was not happy about it.

    So I picked her up, and rubbed her tummy. Didn’t really doing the trick. I let her stand which sometimes helps, although I am not sure why considering I would have a very tough time relaxing enough to poo while erect. She started to sweat, and I could tell the strain was really bothering her. Time was ticking and I was running out of ideas.

    I then remembered a suggestion my friend had once told me to apply pressure to the anus to help get any stubborn poo out. She said you could do it through the diaper to avoid any traumatic memories. Okay, not a bad idea, but I am not sure that I could get a hole in one with my own anus, let alone trying to blindly find hers. So there I was, poking her butt, furthering her annoyance and igniting a frenzied look in her eyes as she batted away my hand.

    “What if I feed you Munch? Maybe if you eat something it will just push out. Like a law of physics or something?” So I sat her down, started breastfeeding her, and sure enough, the sound of a healthy explosion bounced off the walls. Sigh, if only putting my boob in someone’s mouth solved everyone’s problems.

    April 12, 2011 • 1st time for everything, 9-12 months, Baby Body, Breast Feeding • Views: 673

  • How long is too long to breastfeed?

    Imagine you had a pet leech. A leech you had to bring with you everywhere you went, because you loved that leech, and you wanted to protect it. Say that you could either feed that leech by sticking it on your skin, and letting it feast on your blood, or you had to grind up fresh organic steamed veggies that were of course locally grown, and picked by virgins. You then had to let that leech feed itself, so it could “experiment” with food and texture… and then that leech slimed around and got food everywhere. Wouldn’t you just let that leech drink your blood?

    So you get my metaphor right?

    I have this thing with babies and food. They are not neat eaters. They get food all over themselves, and then the food spit paste gets on their hands, and they want to touch everything. Something about it really makes my OCD excel into overdrive.

    And then there is the preparing you have to do. The dishes, the cleaning, the remembering to bring the food with you. All this when I can just use my boobs. They are always there, like trusted friends. They keep making food for The Munch… in fact, I don’t even have to think about it. There is no conscious effort on my part like having to churn butter. It just happens.

    And not to be vain or anything, but breastfeeding is the best diet I have ever been on. I can eat whatever I want, and rather than it going to my hips, it turns into food. It is like I don’t even have to digest… each burger just plops into a boob.

    Now I know things can get really awkward as babies become kids. Maybe not for the parties involved, but for everyone else pretending there are not staring. I have a vivid memory of a boy running over to his mom, lifting up her shirt, getting a top-off, then returning to soccer practice. An image like that never quite leaves you. In fact, if you want to have nightmares for the next 4-8 months check out this video.

    As such, I gave The Munch her first food. An avocado. At first, she was a apprehensive, and there was some gagging and dry heaving involved… but then she got into it. Although I will still breastfeed her for a while, I am paving the path so things don’t get uncomfortable at her prom.

    “Ummmm… are you sure about this whole eating thing mom?”

    “Wait… lemme try that again”

    “Okay… I am into it”

    March 29, 2011 • 5-8 months, Breast Feeding, Mommy Body • Views: 384