Now I Know Why They Call It A "Stress" Fracture.

I run about 20 miles a week—sometimes more, sometimes less. But that’s been my average for a while. I love running. I run to avoid depression. I don’t take pills. (Not that I’m against doing so!). It’s just that running works for me. I run because it gets me high and makes me unbelievably happy. I can’t imagine not being able to do it.

A few weeks ago, I started to notice some pain at the top and center of my left foot. I continued to run, of course, because, if you know anything about runners, we tend to be a stubborn bunch. It was fine. I mean, it hurt, but I ran through it. I ran and iced and elevated and then last Sunday I hit Central Park for a NYRR 4-miler and finished in great time (for me). I was so proud of myself. I came home and immediately signed up for another race. Sure, I could barely walk at the time, but I figured I had time to get back to normal again. I guessed it was just a bruise but I made a podiatry appointment just to be safe. This time I even stayed off of it. I used the elliptical machine and lifting weights instead.

Today my doctor ran a series of x-rays and I have a stress fracture—a bloody painful one. When she touched the magic spot, I nearly puked. So, she put me in a soft cast and gave me a boot. She told me to stay off of it. (Yeah, right! Have you met my son?) But, worst of all? I can’t run for 8 weeks. I can’t even use the elliptical machine.

Of course, with every fairly uncool event that takes place in my life anymore, there’s always an element of humor involved.

You see, I live in Brooklyn and I have a car, so a depressingly large chunk of my daily life is spent abiding by the alternate side parking calendar. Naturally, I was concerned.

“Can I drive?” I asked her.

“Yeah, because you don’t need that foot to drive.” She joked.

“I drive a stick.”

“Oh gosh. Well, the more you use it, the longer it will take to heal. So, I would suggest you not drive.”

And you know what my first thought was? I wondered if she might write a doctor’s note so I could get out of having to move the car from one side of the street to the other, as if the NYC government was going to take pity on the fact that I am wearing a cast. You could be a headless person without hands and the New York State Department of Transportation would continue to ticket your car.  Hell, you could be giving birth and they’d give you a ticket and make you pay it. (YES, THAT HAPPENED TO ME! The birth part, not the headless bit.)

The NYSDOT does not care about my left foot.

When I left the doctor, I couldn’t call Toby because I knew I would just cry into the phone, so I texted him instead. I told him what was going on. Here are those texts:

Me: Stress fracture. I look like a freak. Huge boot and soft cast. WTF have I done? Can’t run for 8 weeks.

Me: Can’t do much of anything. This is going to make me into a crazy person.

Him: Will take care of ya. CAN YOU MOVE THE CAR?!!?

The first thing I did when I got out of the subway was move the car.

But seriously, people: what I am going to do without my antidepressant?

I DID IT! 4 Miles! Central Park!

Today I ran in the JP Morgan Chase Run as One 4 miler. It was a short one. (I’m starting small this time. Several years ago I signed up for the NYC Marathon and got hurt trying to train. Stupid.) But I have to tell you: I’m pretty proud of myself. It turns out, I’m a bit faster than I thought I was. (Still on the slow side, though. But who cares!)

I’m apparently highly allergic to something in Central Park though; I haven’t stopped sneezing since I finished and my nose is cherry red from all the tissue use. Brutal. How do you allergy sufferers deal with this nonsense?

But: YAY ME!

I’m hooked. I’m going to do the R Baby Mother’s Day Run in May.

The Fevers. They're Back.

I have a recipe for today but I don’t think I can give it the time it deserves, so I am going to save it until next week.

Emory is quite ill. The fevers are back.

Last year he suffered from fevers that brought with them Febrile seizures. That duo seems to be making an encore presentation this year. And I hate them. So, I’m trying to keep his temperature down as much as possible, switching between Motrin and Tylenol. It’s gonna be a long day and night. We’re a tired bunch.

Do you have any tricks for fevers and colds? I’m all ears and a little desperate. Or if you wanna come over and keep us company; there’s only so many times a family can watch Night At The Museum and we’ve cruised way past that allotment.

I have heard “Starve a fever. Feed a cold” which is a good thing since he won’t eat anything—not even cookies! Thus far, the only thing I’ve gotten him to eat has been watermelon, which is super since he doesn’t seem to want to drink fluids either.

My poor child.

Itchy Calves

I can already picture the responses I’ll likely get from this one: “TALK TO A DOCTOR!” I have. In fact, I have talked to five doctors about this and not one person has been able to tell me anything. The best response I’ve gotten is, “Put some lotion on it.”

This post might feature a little too much information. But what’s a personal blog without a little too much over-sharing? Am I right?

Here’s the skinny: My calves regularly itch something fierce. And red raised bumps form because I scratch them so much. And sometimes I scratch for so long, they bleed. It’s not all the time and it has nothing to do with an allergy. Nor does it have anything to do with shaving, the type of razor I’m using or a certain laundry detergent. It just happens for seemingly no reason at all. And I’m sick of it.

I’ve looked it up online and while I’ve found a lot of people complain about this exact problem, they always blame it on excessively dry skin. I am not convinced this is the case even though several doctors (including a dermatologist) have said the same thing.

Here’s why I’m not buying it. I’m blaming it on something bigger, something I refer to as “The Big H”.

One time I was sitting with an endocrinologist discussing my post-pregnancy hyperthyroidism (which is now gone, thank goodness.) He was trying to figure out based on initial tests if I had Grave’s disease. (At first glance people have thought this due to my large and relatively buggy eyes.) He asked me to look certain ways, do certain things with my jaw and facial muscles, and at one point he asked me to show him my shins.

“Why?” I asked as I pulled up my pant legs, which at that point were fairly normal and not covered in itchy red bumps.

He didn’t answer. I continued. “I’m asking because while you can’t see it right now, I get this strange itchy rash on my calves very often and it’s maddening. Sometimes I scratch them so badly they bleed. Is this related to my thyroid? Is this a hormonal thing?”

“No.” He said. “That’s probably due to dry skin.”

We moved on.

I still have no idea why this happens to me and it’s troubling. It still happens almost every evening. I apply lotion and nothing seems to help, in fact some of the mildest of lotions tend to burn.

I’m writing today to find out if anyone out there has ever had this. I know it exists for other women; I have had conversations with people about it, but no one knows why. We all just deal with it.

Here’s what I can offer:

  • It miraculously stop right at each knee.
  • It only seems to happen to women.
  • The red bumps appear at the hair follicles only.
  • It’s worse along the sides and on my calves, not as prevalent on the shins themselves.
  • It MAY flare up during certain times of month, I am not sure if I’m making this up or if it’s true.
  • It happens all year round.

If you have any information at all regarding this very annoying problem, please do kindly share it with me. If you just think I’m some kind of leper, keep that bit to yourself because I already feel that way on my own accord. :]

Type O Negative Blood

I have type O negative blood. I really gave this little thought up until yesterday when my mother and I started talking about blood type. I told her I was O negative and she remembered something about the negative Rh factor. My eyes glazed over. Rh? Huh? Antigens who? Uncle what?

So last night I started digging around on google (I KNOW!) and discovered all sorts of weird stuff about my O negative blood type and how seemingly incompatible and uppity it is. 

Here’s the breakdown of ABO and Rh blood type by nation. 

And here’s a laymen’s understanding of my blood type:

  • I am a universal donor. Anyone can use my blood but I can’t use any other blood type except for my own.
  • I’m recessive. (Yeah, yeah. I get that a lot.) 
  • Two O positive blood carriers can have O negative offspring. (My brothers and I are proof of this.)
  • O negative blood carriers cannot take any other blood type because they lack the antigens involved and will therefore fight with it. Or something. (Someone smart needs to mom it down for me.)

Can two O negatives make an O positive? Is that even impossible? Also, are all the negatives eventually going to die off? It appears that way, right? Were there more at one point in time? I need a crash course on blood types. I’m so intrigued. 

But I digress. As I was searching and reading and learning about Rh factors and whatnot, I discovered a corner of the Internet dedicated to second and third pregnancies and O negative blood types. Here’s where things get a little wacky. If an O negative woman has a baby with an O positive man, and the baby is O positive, the woman can develop a problem. And since positive blood types are the dominant ones, there’s a good chance the baby will end up positive. A first pregnancy is usually not a problem because the woman most likely hasn’t come into contact with the antigen before. However, during birth, blood types often mingle, causing the O negative carrier to come in contact with the O positive blood type. The O negative person starts to fight said blood type—treat it as a problem, a foreign body. So, any future pregnancies can result in big problems.

The hell is that about? And why didn’t anyone tell me?

Naturally, I’m prematurely freaking out here and my husband is ready to cancel our Internet access. We don’t yet know Toby’s blood type because we weren’t required to have one before we were married. And I am not yet sure of Em’s blood type either. Maybe we’re super rare and all of us are negative? But I’m not holding my breath on that one.  (Emory is O positive.)

And I’m assuming my doctors had this in mind throughout my pregnancy and the moment Em was born. (Apparently there are shots mothers are given if the blood is mixed so they don’t develop these antibiotics. Look at me try and pretend I have the slightest idea what it is I’m talking about here.) At least I hope they knew about this. They are incredible, after all.

One thing is for sure, someone should take away my Internet connection.

Edited to add: I feel like such a moron. I’m actually O positive. I just called my doctor to find out why they didn’t give me this shot, ready to lose my mind about it, and she proceeds to tell me that I’m actually O positive. (My brothers, however, are negative.) I feel like the biggest O positive idiot ever. 

A Few Things I Learned About Toddler Poop

It’s been a long couple of months for us health wise. Em has been sick on and off since December. Earaches, asthma and constipation have had Toby Joe and I at a loss for what to do next. It’s been a great big guessing game. We’re guessing more now than we were when he was first born, something I didn’t think was possible.

I wrote about Em’s constipation a while ago. We received a great number of suggestions and we’ve tried many of them. It’s really about elimination so it takes a lot of time and can produce a great deal of mistakes along the way.

I’m a little uncomfortable writing about this solely because it’s about someone other than me. The older Em gets, the more and more I feel that discussing his personal information is just plain unfair. But I also feel that bringing such things to light can help another mother and father in need. I was also really shocked to discover just how common constipation is for toddlers. 

So, here goes nothing. (But if I freak out and take this post down in a few hours, you’ll know why.) One thing is for sure, this is the last you’ll likely read about it on here. 

Bananas and Apples

Bananas and apples are very fibrous. I know. Everyone knows that! What I did not know, however, was how they work. Apparently, they take double the amount of water for someone to digest. (Something having to do with using two water molecules for their every one. I dunno. I was on about two hours of sleep whenever my doctor explained it to me. Plus, my son was screaming on the top of his lungs at the time.) So, if your kid is like mine and loves apples and bananas, make sure that they’re drinking a LOT of water. And up until recently my son didn’t drink very much water, so we had to cut bananas and apples from his diet.


Too much milk causes constipation. The hard part is trying to figure what “too much” means for each kid. I was told that 15 – 17 ounces of milk is OK but 20 and more is too much. But that difference seems so small! Nevertheless, cutting down on the milk has been very hard for us because Em loves his milk. 


Wheat (and wheat allergies) can lead to constipation and, in our case, that’s probably been the culprit. We’ve been feeding Em whole grains and whole wheat and both are extremely fibrous. So, the whole wheat bread I’ve been diligently baking for him might be a little too fibrous for his tummy, which is pretty ironic. When it comes to Em’s digestive system, it probably would have been better all along had we been feeding him the nutrition-less white bread you often find in stores. 

The thing is, I always thought wheat allergy meant loose poop. Have I been wrong with that assumption? I have no problem whatsoever with wheat, so this is all very new to me. (Any insight here would be very helpful.)


Antibiotics cause diarrhea. Most everyone knows this, but oh my goodness

Antibiotics work by killing bacteria, but they don’t know the difference between the good stuff and the bad stuff. So, they end up killing both. The balance gets thrown off and loose stools are a result. Another result? Smell-less poop! (Which is kind of awful, because scent has always been my cue!)

Suppositories and Laxatives

A few days before Em was diagnosed with asthma, he’d been more constipated than ever before. While we were at the doctor having his chest and ears looked at, we discussed constipation as well. She suggested that we start on Miralax but not until after he was finished with the antibiotics. She suggested in the meantime that we use a glycerin suppository to loosen things up. 

The next morning, I gave Em a suppository. Nothing happened.

That night, still nothing. But he was growing increasingly more uncomfortable and let us know by arching his back and screaming. On top of all this, both ears were bursting and he was having trouble breathing. At 9 PM, I called the doctor. 

I got in touch with another doctor this time and she gave me a different set of directions. She suggested that I start him on Miralax immediately even though he had just begun the antibiotics. Her biggest concern was that if we don’t get the constipation issue worked out (and the screaming and pain under control) he’d develop a roadblock when it comes to potty training (which we’ve begun but not militantly so). 

I gave him Miralax on top of the phantom suppository.

The following morning everything changed. Let’s just say that I ran four loads of laundry, mopped the floor twice. He had three baths, and the carpet in his bedroom had to be scrubbed and disinfected. German fetish jokes were exchanged between Toby Joe and myself (why we pick on Germany when it comes to poop fetishes, I haven’t the slightest clue).


My kids loves veggies, so we’re lucky here. He will consume an adult-sized portion of broccoli. He loves spinach, peas, carrots, and green beans. We upped these items drastically as of late in hopes of making things easier on him (and us). We’re also offering him more scrambled eggs and a lot more fruits (with the exception of apples and bananas.) I am very much looking forward to berry season which is right around the corner.

Looking Back

I was elbow-deep in poop last week. In fact, just yesterday when I picked Em up from school, he was wearing all new clothes. I was handed not one, but two bags of clothing, which meant he went through the clothes I sent him to school in, his backup pair and was sent home wearing another boy’s backup outfit.

I’m still not sure that we have things figured out yet especially since the antibiotics have pretty much thrown all results out the window. I imagine that there will be some more guessing before we really get it worked out. All I know is that watching your child scream while he or she is trying to use the bathroom is no fun. 

Please feel free to discuss poop, lack of poop, or whatever tickles your fancy.

Teething and Traveling

Happy Friday, my friends! Ready to help out a father in need? I got an email. It read (edited slightly):

 “My 5-month old son is cutting 2 teeth and of course goes through bouts of being very unhappy. I was wondering if you gave anything to your son while he was teething? We’re flying from Japan to Los Angeles Monday and we’re worried it will be a very very bad flight. :( Do you have any suggestions?”

There’s so much about those earlier months I have forgotten! For example, I completely forgot that you’re not supposed to give the little people Motrin or Tylenol before they reach a certain age. Quite honestly, I’m not sure how I got through it! Maybe that’s why I don’t remember? 

My only suggestions are for older babies since my brain has apparently archived the earlier months. I remember offering Emory pea chips (frozen peas, which he still loves to this day.) I remember that he chewed on our wooden kitchen spoons like a dog with a rawhide. I remember giving him ice cold toys. But that’s all I got and I feel I’m an especially bad person to ask because we never flew anywhere with Em.

So, I thought I’d try and help him by posting his email. Do you have any tricks for teething travelers aged five months?

Breathe Locally

This post was going to be about organic food and locavores both of which are growing trends here in America. Just last week, Michelle Obama planted an organic vegetable garden on the White House lawn – the first garden at the White House since the FDR administration.

It seems that people are starting to care more about what they eat, where it comes from and who is potentially harmed (or helped) in the process. I like that. I like that more people are curious about and buying locally grown foods. I like the idea of waiting until something is in season before adding it to a shopping cart. I especially like the idea of cutting down on the pollution involved in shipping and producing many of the foods we buy and consume today.

Union Square Green Market

At home, my family tries to buy food grown, produced, caught, and slaughtered locally. I know what some of you might be thinking – how the hell does one do that while living in New York City? I thought that at first, as well. After all – I’m from Pennsylvania. Growing up, our milk was delivered by a local farmer before the sun came up. Our eggs could have rolled themselves over to our house. We got nearly everything locally. (The exception was Tang, which was made on the moon, by astronauts, and mostly of rocket fuel).

In my mind, the term “local” used to mean “in my neighborhood”. That’s not an option for the majority of New Yorkers, as so much of our food travels thousands of miles before it hits our bodegas and grocery stores, our restaurants and street meat stands. Our food is trucked in, shipped in by boat, train or plane and tends to leave behind it a long, dark carbon footprint.

For New Yorkers, “local” is a relative term and has come to mean “within a hundred-mile radius.” Since we have more farmer’s markets than you can shake a stick at, getting to some of those local foods is really easy.

I was excited to cover this topic as my first March Of Dimes Moms post, especially since they wrote an article recently on whether or not organic is better for your baby. Their conclusion seems to be that it’s not necessarily better. But how about trying to buy foods grown locally? I couldn’t wait to tackle this topic! But Monday came along and it had different plans. I was steered onto a much different road. You see, my son was diagnosed with asthma on Monday and that’s all I can think about right now.

Here’s how the last few days unfolded.

My son kept us up all night Sunday. He woke up every hour. His belly was tight. We thought he might have gas and constipation on top of the usual congestive rattle we’d come to know. On Monday morning, I began to realize that things were much worse than I had thought. At 3 PM he was hit with a high fever. I called the doctor. By 4 PM we were in the waiting room.

And by 5 PM we were armed with a ProNeb Ultra II, some albuterol, a more powerful round of antibiotics than he’s yet been given, and a new worry.

At that point, my husband and I did what parents do with an Internet connection: we started researching. I was looking for ways to blame myself. That’s what mothers do, right? And at first glance, my research told me that I was right. I was to blame for this—we were to blame for this. After all we live in a very polluted area. The rates of asthma in children living in North Brooklyn are on the rise.

“Ever look at dirty truck exhaust? The dirty, smoky part of that stream of exhaust is made of particle pollution. More new evidence shows that the particle pollution—like that coming from the exhaust smoke—can lead to shorter lives, heart disease, lung cancer and asthma attacks and can interfere with the growth and work of the lungs.”  (American Lung Association: State Of The Air)

Fact: Emory spent the first year and a half of his life living right next to the BQE (The Brooklyn/Queens Expressway). We were so close to it, the trucks used to shake our apartment. We knew all along we were inhaling harmful toxins, but we chose to stay there. We were in a lease and rent was affordable and we thought we were leaving the area at any moment.

Actual view from the back window of our apartment.

We used to clean an alarming amount of dark black soot from our windowsills. And it didn’t take long to build up. A few days would go by and a black film would lazily blanket every surface in our home. We used to joke about how our lungs must look. We were nervous.

Signs of Asthma include:

• wheezing
• rapid breathing
• labored breathing
• gasping
• difficulty breathing when exercising
• chest tightness

Generally speaking, a child must first be vulnerable to airway inflammation. Everyone is vulnerable, to some degree – and often to any number of irritants. Next, the child needs an antagonist or trigger. Triggers can range from a common cold, a sinus infection, or bronchitis, all the way to secondhand smoke, smoking, cleaning agents and air pollutants. Triggers can also be as simple as getting too much exercise or experiencing too much stress, or the absurdly cold air of a NYC March day.

When I started digging in a bit further, I realized that this isn’t specific to Brooklyn. Emory probably would been diagnosed with asthma no matter where we lived especially since almost every place we’ve ever discussed living is also on the highly polluted area list. And that’s not because our list is really short. It’s that the master list is really long. Even the small, idyllic town we’ve  been pining over for years has some of the worst statistics when it comes to the two types of air pollution at the root of the problem.

Dare to dream.

In Brooklyn, the biggest asthmatic culprit is exhaust from vehicles. This is why you’ll also find Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, The DC Metro, and a great deal of the Northeastern corridor on that list. Pretty much every city or town near a major trucking route is seeing a rise in asthma, cancer and other related illnesses. And most large, polluting vehicles (as we used to watch from our bed) are used to transfer goods – like food – into our cities.

The New England Journal of Medicine reports:

“Mortality rates were most strongly associated with cigarette smoking. After adjusting for smoking and other risk factors, we observed statistically significant and robust associations between air pollution and mortality. The adjusted mortality-rate ratio for the most polluted of the cities as compared with the least polluted was 1.26 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.08 to 1.47). Air pollution was positively associated with death from lung cancer and cardiopulmonary disease but not with death from other causes considered together. Mortality was most strongly associated with air pollution with fine particulates, including sulfates.”

The simple truth is that asthma rates are on the rise, as is infant mortality and in many cases we have air pollution to blame for that. And we need to do something about it. And I don’t mean we need to come up with more medicine to throw at the problem. (Though, I am really grateful for our new nebulizer.) I think we need a more preventative approach.

So, while buying organic and/or locally grown foods may cost you a bit more monetarily,  I think that cost might be worth it when it comes to the greater good. Change won’t happen overnight, but it can happen if we just put our minds to it.

A funny thing happened as I was writing this post, I ended up within a hundred mile radius to the original topic.

Breast-Feeding: It's OK If You Can't Do It.

Friend and commenter, Missy, linked to an article yesterday that stirred up a number of emotions for me.

And in any case, if a breast-feeding mother is miserable, or stressed out, or alienated by nursing, as many women are, if her marriage is under stress and breast-feeding is making things worse, surely that can have a greater effect on a kid’s future success than a few IQ points.

I didn’t have the best time when it came to breast-feeding. Obstacles began piling up for me the moment Emory was born. For starters, my milk never came in. I didn’t experience the engorgement all the nurses and LCs suggested I would. In fact, my breasts got slightly smaller after he was born.

My postpartum experience was not the best. I was depressed. Words can’t do justice in trying to describe that depression. Chemistry took over. Every time it occurred to me that the birth of my first child was supposed to be the happiest time of my life, I felt even worse because I was experiencing quite the opposite. How could I be a good mom when I felt so unhappy? What was wrong with me? The questions mounted unanswered, and while my head felt like it was going to explode, my boobs did not.

There is an alarming amount of pressure put on new mothers when it comes to breast-feeding. It’s so prevalent, that there are actually Web sites where women congregate in order to slam celebrities who did not breast-fed and praise those who have. There are wars waged against and on Facebook. And some of the pro-breast feeding literature out there borders on militant. A late night google search hoping to discover a little leniency can make one feel like even more of a failure. 

In certain overachieving circles, breast-feeding is no longer a choice—it’s a no-exceptions requirement, the ultimate badge of responsible parenting. Yet the actual health benefits of breast-feeding are surprisingly thin, far thinner than most popular literature indicates. Is breast-feeding right for every family? Or is it this generation’s vacuum cleaner—an instrument of misery that mostly just keeps women down?

It goes without saying that many women today feel very passionate about breast-feeding. I have seen fights break out over whether or not it’s OK to do in public. Nursing mothers here in New York have been known to make a statement by taking over an entire subway car. I have seen fights break out about whether or not it’s OK to lend your boob out to feed another person’s baby. I’ve seen people go as far to attack a person’s character because they chose not to breast-feed. 

Some women experience intense anger when another woman doesn’t breast-feed. And I would find this hilarious if their reactions weren’t so damaging. 

Haven’t we heard enough already? Can’t we be proud of our choices without making others feel worse for making another? And why brag? Boasting is ugly. 

Furthermore, if feminism is about making choices, and a woman chooses (for whatever the reason may be) not to breast-feed, she should not receive so much as a nasty look from any fellow Sistren boasting the word feminism. And yet, that often happens. Which begs another question: is it the men we need to talk to about equality? 

I welcome discussion and debate when it comes to breast-feeding, but this post probably isn’t for those likely to have breast-feeding listed as their religion. This is for anyone who went through (or is going through) what I went through two years ago. This is for all the new mothers out there overwhelmed by their new roles. This is for the new mother wondering why she can’t accomplish something as seemingly natural as breast-feeding. 

Here’s how the first few days I spent with my new son went:

The morning he’s born: I try unsuccessfully to get a latch. I summon the help from two nurses and one lactation consultant. He vomits every time I try. I think it’s me, something I’m doing. Am I gagging him? 

“Is the vomit green?” They ask. “No. It’s not green.” “He’s fine then. Keep trying.”

Day one: A lactation consultant comes in to see me. I’m crying. I tell her I can’t get him to eat. I tell her he keeps vomiting. We try again and fail. She asks me how much milk he’s gotten. I tell her none. She inspects my nipples. Says I may have problems but we’ll succeed! We try formula. He vomits that up immediately. I continue to cry.

Later that day: Emory and I try again. I am told I am not vigilant enough, that I’m not trying hard enough. I am told that I need to be more forceful. I need to force my breast into his mouth. He throws up all over me, the color is green. I call a doctor.

Five minutes later: Emory is taken away from me and admitted into the NICU for reasons unrelated to breast-feeding (or lack thereof). I begin pumping around the clock in hopes of getting something, anything to come out of my breasts. This does not happen. 

Three days PP: Emory and I are sent home seeing zero success at breast-feeding. 

I should have just given up. Had I felt better back then, I probably would have. After all, Emory was doing well on formula. But I thought that I had to breast-feed. We just never did get the latch worked out so I exclusively pumped for 5 months. I supplemented with formula the entire time because my milk and the engorged breasts everyone warned me about, well, that never took place. At five months, I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and put on a drug that wasn’t safe for babies. I stopped pumping (or HUTH, for those of us EPers).

During that time, I received countless email letting me know how difficult it was for women when it came to breast-feeding, which helped a great deal. But in the wee hours of the night, when I felt my most insecure, I turned to the Internet, in search of anyone to tell me everything was going to be OK if I gave up pumping and just formula fed my son. (You’d be surprised how little there is out there for people in my situation. On nights when I looked for reassurance, I found I felt worse.) It took me a long time to realize that the only person I needed approval from was the person doing all the searching.

Truth be told, Internet, I still have a lot of pent up anger when it comes to how I was treated by some breast-feeding mamas out there. Usually, I try and focus on all the positive stuff, because I mean it when I say that when I was going through that rough patch, many of your emails got me through it. But that doesn’t mean the judgmental stuff doesn’t stick with me as well. 

The biggest problem as I see it, is that so many women are afraid to state outright: Hey, I didn’t breast-feed! In fact, I have met some mothers that whisper such things under their breath at the playground—like it’s some kind of fatal flaw, and I suppose that for some it is. I’ve also seen a few mothers breath a sigh of relief upon discovering that another mother in the room didn’t breast-feed her baby. 

What is everyone so afraid of? Judgement? Receiving a failing grade in motherhood? Getting demoted or fired by your boss? There are no grades or graduation ceremonies to speak of. And your boss really just wants to eat, poop, sleep and giggle. So what are we all so afraid of?

Sometimes, all someone wants to hear (or read) is that they’re not alone.

And so. Consider this a small drop of water in a bucket full of oil: It’s OK, new mama, if you are unable to breast-feed your baby. Formula is a wonderful option. You are not a failure. You’re a new mom! Rejoice in that. You are not alone. 

If you’re interested in reading the article, please

Ear Infections In a Toddler

When I dropped Em off at school yesterday, I told the women what I tell them every morning. “If he’s sick or seems sad, tired or cranky, call me. He had a rough night last night and I’d hate for him to be in pain or cause problems for you all.”

They nodded in agreement but then one of them politely said, “Well, I think we’re going to try and keep him all day today if that’s OK. It’s been weeks since he’s been in school for an entire day and he’s missed so many as well! We miss him.”

It’s true. My kid has been in and out of school for almost two months. (Money well spent!) If I do send him to school, I usually get a phone call (or I call) letting me know he’s not feeling well and that it might be wise to come get him. I don’t even question it. I’m there in a heartbeat. But I’m left wondering: what do parents with full time jobs do in this situation? Does their employer get annoyed with them for having to leave to tend to their sick kids? Do they hire on-call nannies for this very reason? Seriously, what happens? Because all toddlers get sick and most schools won’t allow them to stay if they have a fever above 100 and that’s pretty damn common! (Perhaps a topic for another day.)

Anyway, something occurred to me yesterday, clearly so: I’m the mother of The Sick Kid. My son just can’t shake the congestion or cold. His colds move up into his ear canals and Toby and I spend nights on end listening to him scream. We spend days switching between doses of Motrin and Tylenol. We have gone through two rounds of antibiotics which work but then a week after he’s finished, BAM! the mucous builds up and the screams begin. 

I don’t want to drone on and on about my ear problems. (If you’re curious, read this post.) But I will say that the moment he was born I began asking doctors, nurses (and whomever would listen to me) to have a closer look at his ears. They all reassured me that ear problems aren’t genetic. But I wondered, How about head shape? How about the size of the ear canal? How about a series of tubes? Could these things be genetic? He did, after all, inherit my eyes, my curly hair and his father’s everything else. But ears are somehow one of a kind? Like fingerprints?

We visited the pediatrician on Monday for the third time in just over a month. And she finally listened to me regarding my ear history. I told her that my hearing has been destroyed due to chronic ear infections. I told her my eustachian tubes never quite did their job properly. I told her I had tubes twice. I told her that the holes never healed. (To this day, I haven’t ever been swimming without earplugs.) I told her my pillows were often stained from ear fluid. I told her about my nephew (who has similar problems). 

She listened and stopped suggesting that genetics are an innocent bystander. And I’m breathing a little easier now because that means we’ll get to see an ENT sooner rather than later. It also means that someone finally believes me. And I do hope that this means we can finally put an end to his pain.

I don’t want to be the mother of The Sick Kid. Besides, he’s far too cute to keep inside all the time.