Wednesday, October 3, 2012

End of a Journey

3 days old
3 years 4 months
I am your mother, you are my child. And I always knew that when my miracle came, I would feed her from my breast.
And so I led. I forged ahead through the hurdles in those earliest days and weeks, and you did your best to keep up. Through the nipple shield, the supplements, moving across the country at just 9 sweet days old, I led you, and you followed. And I dreamed of the journey ahead.
The journey, like any great adventure, had twists and turns. And out relationship, like any great relationship, had its own share of give and take.
We began with me leading you, putting my head down against what felt like barrier after barrier, but always moving forward, and we nursed.
I remember a change in our journey just after you turned one. You held my hands and you tugged me to start following you. You went forward with excitement and enthusiasm and I could barely keep up! You had so much joy. You ARE joy. You knew what you needed - for comfort and nutrition - and there was no stopping you. You never did care to eat much, you always loved to drink my milk.
I remember. You led and I followed, with my oatmeal and my fenugreek in hand.
At a later time, I had to defend our choice to a doctor. So I held my chest out and with a quivering lip, and once again I led you. I led you right out of that horrible place and to our car, and I felt safe there, and I fed you from my breast. And you felt safe there. I stroked your hair and I told you it was ok and some people didn't understand. You were so upset that someone didn't understand. You wanted comfort - you were sick! - you knew what you needed and I didn't mind giving it to you. I wanted to give it to you because I could help you feel better. I didn't feel strong, but I was strong for you and I led.
Do you remember telling me milk changed? You did. You said "it tastes different" and when I asked you why you said, "because of the baby in your tummy." I couldn't believe it. My body didn't make babies on its own. But I took a test and you were right. You're right a lot, my beautiful daughter.
I knew things would change and that was hard for me because our journey was so beautiful. You loved to nurse. It had been your whole wide world. But I grew weary and we slowed down. That's ok, relationships and journeys do that sometimes, you know. We went and saw Mickey Mouse at his house (but he wasn't in the castle ;)), and you didn't nurse ALL DAY. Life was too exciting, we were having the greatest time, and you didn't need my milk that day.
Some time after that, you led the way through my changing milk and moods, and you stopped feeding at my breast. You led us to a quiet cuddle instead of a sweet nursing. And that was ok.
But when you got sick, I offered my breast again, because I couldn't bare having this liquid gold that could heal you and not sharing it with you. So with shaking hands about what it might mean, I led you to nurse again. And you did. And just like nothing had ever happened, you resumed nursing regularly.
We moved a long way away again and that was hard for you. You kept asking when we could go back to our real home. I cried with you. You led. You took my breast and I told you that family was our home. As you nursed, I saw that, at least in that moment, I was your home. 
Your meme came, but she got sick and had to leave unexpectedly. Your papa had to go away on the ship for a long time. Your brother was coming soon. I was tired. Nursing was hard. It wasn't the right time to stop, too much was changing. You were so sweet and so gentle. It was hard for me to see you cry when I said no. 
And just like that, your brother was born! Such a sweet, screaming miracle. You say "this is my brother. He cries a lot. He poops and pees a lot too." 
It was so hard for me to go from one baby to two. And it was even harder for me to balance nursing two. We definitely had our ups and downs! And for almost three months, we tandem nursed. My heart absolutely brimming with pride in you, my sweet girl, for being so patient and so brave all those times you had to wait or be cut short so I could tend to your brother! You led me. You showed me courage!
And now here we are. I am weary once more. And you pat my hand and you say it's ok, we can stop now, mama.
There's all this language: mother-led, child-led. Weaning. And it hurt me to think I was stopping you short. But that language is what's wrong, not us, baby girl. Nursing is a journey and ours is ending. It was a beautiful walk. Sometimes I led, sometimes you led, and here we end it together. Does it really matter who took the first or the last step?
We had a big girl party for breakfast. Papa got you a cupcake that he left out for you. You asked where your candle was, so I pulled down the big jar candle and I sang "shes a big girl, my boo, she's a big girl, my boo, she's a big girl, doesn't drink milk anymore, she's a big girl, my boo." It wasn't lost on me that the flame didn't go out when we each tried blowing it out alone. Instead, we had to bow our heads and blow together to blow out that candle.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

22 weeks pregnant/33 months old

Still nursing.

That's what happens when I put something bold on the internet (like "we've weaned!"), I get proven wrong :p

Not complaining though. I'm glad that if she's not done she can still get what she needs. She says milk tastes like melons these days. :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I Gave Up Facebook for Lent


And it feels great!

I logged in to grab someone's email address and lingered long enough to see I had some questions from friends about how/why an agnostic would celebrate Lent. Great question! Gave me a little time to reflect. I guess my answer is the same reason we celebrate Christmas in our family :) Cultural and personal tradition.

I did a really quick little research (read: looked at wikipedia) about both lent and agnosticism. I didn't learn anything new, but I do like to be "educated" before I talk about something, no matter how confident I feel about it. So what I confirmed is that people observe Lent for a variety of reasons, including refocusing on what's important in the observer's life. I don't mind borrowing from my personal heritage, especially when it comes to being a more in-tune and, dare I say, spiritual person. If it's offensive to any of my friends that I am using something from their religion to refocus my personal life, I am truly, truly sorry. Offense is the last thing I mean by it. If it's easier/less offensive for you, I would be happy to say "I have given up Facebook for a little over a month because I need to refocus my energy on my personal journey and family life." Which is honestly what it's about, saying "Lent" was just easier since people are familiar with the term and it is occurring concurrent to my abstinence from fb. And because it is where my roots lie regardless of where my path has taken me today.


I'm really loving it. Finally checking things off my "to do" list, my mind is feeling clearer, I'm re-energized, and I keep having all these neat ideas that I think I might actually have time for now.

Here is one fb status I would have made 2 night ago if I was still online though: Papa and Bee felt the new baby move for the first time!! :)

And on that note, I'm back to that "to do" list :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Some Kind of Wonderful

I REALLY want to blog about weaning. But every time I try to, it comes out differently. I guess that's what happens when you have such strong and mixed feelings about something.

Last night, Bee laid her head on my chest and fell asleep there. In the night, when she awoke, she turned to me and asked for a hug and I cuddled her back to sleep. These sweet, perfect cuddles replaced breastfeeding. For two years and eight months, those moments were filled with nursing, and now they are filled with cuddles and... it's not really sad at all. In fact, it's some kind of wonderful.

I did cry. I did struggle. For one night. And then I realized I wasn't engorged, my baby was confident, eating well and gaining weight, and, um, if she asked to nurse I knew I would cringe so maybe I was a little tiny bit relieved.

I can't know if she's stopping because she's too empathic and she knows it hurts me a little now that I'm pregnant, or because she just doesn't need it any more, or because my supply is mostly gone due to the pregnancy. I can't know a lot of things, but I can know that it's right. The timing is perfect and it's beautiful. It's a sweet little dance and our relationship is thriving despite the changes.

We tried out a new (to us) organic vegan restaurant yesterday and I cried watching her scarf down so much good food and drinking organic juice. I told Papa it was a feeling I didn't know I could feel outside of nursing. Watching my perfect child be nourished by good, healthful foods makes my heart feel happy. Even if that food isn't breastmilk anymore.

And last night as she lay her head on my chest I thought of all the millions and millions of times I've done the exact same thing with my own mother. I LOVED IT. I think I may have even loved it more than nursing. Not newborn nursing. Not nursing when she's sick. Not nursing for months when she wouldn't eat foods and I KNEW it was crucial to her growth. But I did love it more than twiddling fidgeting painful nursing. I felt connected to my daughter and my mother. I could relate to how comforted she felt because that's how comforted I feel when I lay my head on my mom's chest. And I really think that until she weaned, I couldn't know how strong and lovely a connection could be between a mother and her child, totally aside from nursing. (See, you can teach an old dog new tricks).

A dear friend of mine told me that when her daughter self weaned, she found a new friendship - a new bond - with her girl. And now I know what she means. It wasn't time for that for us before now. But right now, it is time. And I'm glad we get this relationship before the new baby comes along. It feels right, and that's what I wanted all along when I set out to nurse until we were done. :*)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sunday, January 8, 2012

31 Months of Breastfeeding Today :)

My sweet little Bee. <3<3<3<3

I love her so much. Being pregnant and still nursing isn't without its challenges, but moments like this make it all worth it :)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Veganism and Infertility

Despite years of battling infertility, I recently found myself unexpectedly pregnant (WOOHOO!!!). Since my four year-long battle trying to conceive my daughter, I have made many lifestyle changes. Chief among them were losing weight and adopting a vegan diet.

On another blog, I made the suggestion that my veganism could have contributed to my increased fertility, and I received a comment that that couldn't have been the reason at all. This made me really interested in learning about how a vegan lifestyle can affect a woman's fertility and I have been delighted with the results that I have found!

My major issues hindering my fertility were: Obesity, endometriosis, PCOS (with insulin-resistance), and not ovulating. I was fascinated to learn that each of these issues can be countered by a plant-based diet!

“If this type of diet means less heart disease, less diabetes, less cancer, it’s no surprise to me that you’re going to find it leads to less infertility,” says Susan Levin, R.D., director of nutrition education at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit organization that promotes health through nutrition (“Natural Fertility,” 2011; Tarkan, 2010).

So here’s a little bit of information I found regarding each of my specific issues. I am not a medical expert and while I *DO* *absolutely* condone a plant-based diet for EVERYONE, I’m not telling you what to do, nor promising it will reverse your infertility. However, if I had this information sooner, perhaps I wouldn’t have struggled the way I did trying for our first miracle. But remember, there are plenty of UNHEALTHY ways to go about a diet, so if you are interested in taking the leap into veganism, please take your time to learn about the important specifics regarding the lifestyle! : ) (Hint: You need a B12 supplement and to do your own research on soy)


I didn’t ovulate on my own. Every time I took an OPK it was positive (EVERY time) but according to my three specialists there was a good chance I NEVER ovulated the months I didn’t take Clomid. So, I took Clomid when we were trying for baby #1.

Studies have “found that women who received more protein from vegetables than from meat had a significantly lower rate of infertility caused by ovulatory problems than those who ate more meat. Ovulatory infertility accounts for as many as 25 percent of all infertility cases" (Tarkan, 2010).

“By eliminating animal products from her diet, a woman may ovulate more regularly. A study by the University of British Columbia showed that vegetarian women ovulated normally more than 95 percent of the time. According to Neal D. Barnard, M.D., president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, this is because eliminating animal products from the diet stabilizes hormone levels. Adhering to a high-fiber vegan diet helps the body expel excess estrogen and protects one from the harmful growth hormones given to cows (which can cause a person’s hormone levels to fluctuate)” (Harper, 2008).


When I was 14, I was diagnosed with PCOS and endometriosis. It was then that I was told to prepare myself to perhaps never have children. I didn’t want to believe the diagnosis and for the first three years of my marriage I tried to get pregnant without ever accepting I had these disorders. Though I refused to accept their presence in my body, they played a huge role in my life, and living as I did, I could not get pregnant without drugs to counter their affects. I truly believe my plant-based diet has helped me overcome the obstacles associated with both PCOS and endometriosis.

"Take note that dairy foods such as milk and cheese may be congesting to the body. In cases of congesting fertility issues such as PCOS and Endometriosis, they may aggravate the imbalance. Observe how your body does with it. Dairy that is not organic should be avoided as it contains added hormones and antibiotics which can contribute to increased estrogen levels in the body" ("The Natural Fertility Diet," 2011).

“Adhering to a vegan diet can keep the ovaries healthy. Barnard’s research suggests that following a low-fat, plant-based diet can help to prevent polycystic ovary syndrome and endometriosis. It can also protect the ovaries, since one of the simple sugars in lactose is toxic to the ovaries” (Harper, 2008).

"Women who eat a diet high in red meat may be at increased risk of endometriosis, which can lead to infertility, a new study has found. The study, published in the August 2004 issue of Human Reproduction also showed that eating a diet high in fruit and vegetables may reduce the risk of the condition" (Rodriguez, 2011).


Tied in with PCOS is insulin-resistance. When I started trying to get pregnant with a fertility doctor, I was confirmed as having Metabolic Syndrome/pre-diabetes.

"Also, animal protein tends to be high in saturated fats, which can increase insulin resistance, a known culprit in infertility. When there’s more insulin circulating in your body, it can affect the hormones that regulate ovulation, explains Jorge Chavarro, M.D., lead author of the Nurses’ Health Study and author of The Fertility Diet (McGraw-Hill, 2007). Insulin resistance is one component of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), another leading cause of infertility in women" (Tarkan, 2010).

"PCOS typically involves insulin resistance, which means the body cannot properly use insulin to deliver glucose (blood sugar) to the cells. Glucose is the primary source of fuel for the body. When glucose remains in the blood instead of being used by the cells, it leads to problems such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. This means it is important for women with PCOS to eat not only a diet that helps regulate blood-glucose levels but also a diet that meets other heart-healthy dietary guidelines. These guidelines recommend a diet based on whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, unsaturated fat and lean protein (including vegetarian alternatives to meat, fish and dairy). A typical vegan diet scores high for compliance with these guidelines" (Basilicato, 2011).


There is so much that could be written about obesity and infertility and there is so much out there relating to obesity and veganism. So I’ll keep it simple:

"Vegetarians tend to weigh less than meat-eaters, and vegans are even lighter. And there’s good evidence that being overweight or obese decreases fertility" (Tarkan, 2010).

And the safety of this type of diet? “The American Dietetic Association just lately revised their position about vegan and veggie diets during pregnancy stating that they are safe” (“Natural Fertility,” 2011).

So, in all, I feel more confident than ever that my veganism absolutely COULD have played an ENORMOUS role in getting pregnant!

Final note: Not all of these articles are in support of being completely vegan, though all of them recommend more plants and less meat. I encourage you to read up for yourself, of course!


Basilicato, Linda. (2011). Vegan PCOS Diet. In eHow. Retrieved November 27, 2011 from

Harper, Sarah. (2008, July 8). Veganism and Pregnancy – Do I Have to Eat Meat to Have Multiples? Retrieved November 27, 2011 from

"The Natural Fertility Diet." (2011). Retrieved November 27, 2011 from

Rodriguez, Hethir, B.S., M.H., C.M.T. (2011). Study: Endometriosis Linked to Red Meat. In Natural Fertility. Retrieved November 27, 2011 from

Tarkan, Laurie. (2010, Mar 04). Can a Vegan Diet Help You Conceive? In Parenting. Retrieved November 27, 2011 from

“Vegan Diet Can Help If You Can’t Get Pregnant.” (2011, April 5).
In Natural Fertility Retrieved November 27, 2011 from