And Now You Are Three

Dear Peter,

It was a beautiful September morning just like this one when you were born in our bedroom in the tiny one-bedroom apartment.


I knew I would love you as soon as I saw you, but my pregnancy was full of worry. Unemployment, food stamps, job hunting: it seemed like the worst time for our family to grow. But there you were, growing in my belly.

I knew how patient and forgiving you would be. My easy child. My mild one. But it was hard for me to trust, with all the worry that filled our lives then.

Labor with you was hard. You were in some weird position. Not quite posterior, but not quite anterior either. I kept telling the midwife: “He’s stuck, right here,” pointing to the spot where I felt you not quite descending. But everyone reassured me that things were progressing normally.

The only way I could push you out was on all fours. No other position worked. As I lay there with my head in your dad’s lap, my first thought was: “I can’t do this.” My second thought was: “I don’t want to do this.” And then I realized that I simply had to. So I mustered up all the energy and vigor and strength I had even though I felt nothing but doubt and dread and fear. And I howled you out of my body.

I had to stop pushing for a second, though, as the midwife gently rotated your shoulder. I was right. You were a little bit stuck. But with one little tweak, you came flying out.


The boy who taught me to trust in love. The boy who asks for so little and gives so much. The boy we needed at just the moment when we thought our world was falling apart.

And now you are three. And Daddy has the job. And we have just what we need. But most of all, we have you. And we are eternally grateful.

Thank you for coming just when we needed you most.




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My Problem with Similac’s #endmommywars Campaign


Have you seen the #endmommywars hashtag floating all over social media lately? It’s becoming a pretty big thing.

On the one hand, it’s an important idea. No mother should ever be shamed for any parenting choice she makes. Period. Truly, it shouldn’t matter if you breastfed, formula fed, stayed home, sent your kids to daycare, whether you were labeled as a “helicopter” parent or “free-range.” Every mom is just doing her best, trying to find her way, and learning as she goes along. The most important thing is how you love your kids. And there is more than one way to provide a loving, secure family base for your child. I’m sorry that any mother has made another mother feel anything but supported in her choices, whatever they may be.

But I’m afraid this #endmommywars campaign is not as supportive as it seems, and in many ways is just pitting mothers against each other further. Are there judgmental mothers out there? Sure. I’ve met them (and I’ve seen loads of them on the internet!). But for the most part, I have seen a ton of kindness from the other mothers I encounter in my daily life. And I think we need to accentuate that aspect of motherhood MORE. Let’s talk about what we can do to support one another, not underline how some small number of moms are cruel to each another.

But most importantly, the campaign shuts down our ability to voice our opinions and debate civilly. Although I wholeheartedly support motherhood in all forms, I know that feeding babies breastmilk is the best thing for their developing bodies. As a lactation consultant (IBCLC) it is my job to support mothers who wish to reach those goals. Does that mean I don’t support formula feeding mothers? Of course not! I know that breastmilk is not an option for all mothers, and I know that in most cases their babies will do fine with formula. But I should be permitted to say that one infant food is, in many ways, better nutrition.

The same goes with other opinions I may have about parenting choices, like what I think is the best car seat, how I want to discipline my children, and whether I think it’s important or not to feed children organic fruits and vegetables. Can’t I voice these thoughts and opinions without somehow starting a war with someone else? Not every disagreement is a war!

Now, I have to walk on eggshells anytime I state an opinion in this current parenting climate. But it doesn’t have to be that way. And #endmommywars only perpetuates the myth that there is some kind of huge divide between parents. Most of us all basically want the same sorts of things for our children, and listening to one another—hearing varied thoughts and opinions—can be truly enriching. In fact, I have learned a lot from talking to mothers who did things differently than me. If I couldn’t talk about things, I would never know what works for others, and how similar we are even when we look different from the outside.

And, of course, the biggest problem with the #endmommywars campaign is that it is entirely a marketing campaign from Similac! Yes, it is. Let me say it again: IT IS A MARKETING CAMPAIGN FOR FORMULA. If you do a search anywhere for the hashtag, you will see Similac’s name splashed right under it. Even if you like the campaign, you need to know that’s what it is. It’s a campaign whose aim is to get mothers to buy formula.

Formula is a really useful modern innovation, and many babies who have access to clean water and modern medicine do well on it (this is NOT the case in developing countries, and it is a dire problem). Many of my dear friends used it for various reasons, and I support them fully. I believe you can formula feed and be the most cuddly, loving mom. I know that.

But for a mother who really wants to nurse, is struggling, still finding her footing, getting criticism from left and right, and feeling entirely open and vulnerable, this campaign is potentially QUITE damaging–which is exactly Similac’s purpose.

Research has pointed out the power of formula advertising, and formula companies are quite stealthy in how they sneak their advertisements in. Have you gone into a pediatrician’s office recently? There will be pens with formula brands on them, and posters on the wall sponsored by formula companies. Our pediatrician gave us a little book to record shots and baby milestones that was made by Similac. And of course, there is the formula that is handed out left and right at hospitals, and sent to new mothers’ homes whether they request it or not.

I remember when a friend called me after her third baby was born. She had successfully breastfed her first two children, but her newborn was really fussy at the breast. She was exhausted, in tears. When babies fuss at your breast and you don’t know why, it’s hard to have faith that breastfeeding is going to work, no matter how many babies you have. She told me they’d been sent home with formula and were about to use some, but she thought she’d call me first. I gave her some tips to calm the baby down, helped her feel more normal, and things ended up going fine. But she told me had she not spoken to me, that bottle of formula seemed pretty damn tantalizing.

And it is, for many moms. Most moms don’t know what to do when their baby cries while nursing, when their nipples hurt, or when they aren’t sure if their baby is getting enough. They may not have a breastfeeding helper’s number to call, but they almost always have formula on hand, thanks to the generosity of companies like Similac. And quite often, one bottle of formula leads to another, and another, until breastfeeding is over. Obviously this is not the only way things unfold, but it is an altogether familiar scenario I encounter.

Thanks to formula companies, it is much easier to find formula than breastfeeding help. Thanks to formula companies, it is easier to say that women are at war than it is to find ways to unite them.

And I am sick and tired of it all. So, let’s END #endmommywars. And support one another by listening, questioning, thinking, loving, and listening some more.

EDITED TO ADD: Part of the publicity for #endthemommywars is that Similac is putting out a movie with that title. Click here to watch the trailer. I was actually asked to participate in this film a few weeks ago. More about that later…


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The Gift of A New Year


Both of my parents are Jewish and were brought up with Jewish customs and culture. But they were atheists for most of my childhood, and we seldom celebrated Jewish holidays. We lit the menorah some years, and when we lived near my mother’s parents, we went to their house for the holidays. But that was about it.

I will admit that I really knew very little about Judaism growing up. I don’t think I even knew that Rosh Hashanah (the holiday currently being celebrated) is the Jewish New Year. I only learned that a few years ago!

My mother-in-law does all the major Jewish holidays at her house, but in a very loose way. We gather, eat Jewish food, and make merry. We’ve tried to do some kind of Seder during Passover, but it’s totally thrown together ourselves, with my two children acting out the parts of Moses (my younger son is baby Moses; my older son is Moses all grown up).

The point of all this is that this year, for the first time, I have been embracing this time of year as a new year, a kind of beginning. And it’s been wonderful to think of it that way. We all need new beginnings sometimes, and why not have more than one occasion to start over? The fact that the weather is cooling off, fruit is growing ripe and falling off trees, and a new school year is underway—this all seems fitting as well. In fact, I almost always think of the school year as a time to reframe my life,  especially since my husband is a teacher and my son is in elementary school.

So, to that end, here are some of the things I want to focus on this year (on the Jewish calendar we are entering 5776!):

  1. I want (no, I need!) to carve out more time for self-care. I have a tendency to want to do, do, do—for my kids, for my work—until I run myself ragged. It’s not good for anyone. So I want to remember to take things slow. My goal is to meditate five minutes a day (a little goes a long way), and give myself the gift of a solo run twice a week, even if that means doing it at 5pm when my husband gets home and it’s right smack in the middle of the dinner/homework rush. I’ll still walk/jog with my toddler in the jogging stroller and throw on the TV so I can do some yoga, but I want to find times to do things on my own, in my body, without kids, even if all I get is 30 minutes a few times a week.
  2. I want to spend more real time with my kids each day. Life is ridiculous sometimes. It feels like some days there is literally no time, even for my kids, who I spend every waking second with. We are either on our way somewhere, in the middle of one of our many meals, or transitioning to something else. Each evening, I spend one-on-one time with the kids when I put them to bed. I want to strive for more than just that. But on the days when that’s the best I can do, I want to be as present with them as I can. Listening, cuddling, inhaling their essence. Yes, please.
  3. I want to read. I read a lot. But it’s all online! This summer I read a few books and it was divine. It was so much more silent, delicious. I could focus on the words, the feel of the book in my hands. It’s tougher to find reading time during the school year because by the time the kids are asleep, I am too tired to do anything but check Facebook or watch TV. But reading actual books is so enriching, so I’m going to find time. My goal is to read one book each month (Book of the Month style!). I think that’s a reasonable goal, especially since I usually choose a slim book of poems.
  4. I want to make more time for my friends. A lot of my friends have moved away in recent years, but I have a few dear ones who live nearby. And yet, it’s so hard to make plans. We each have full lives and opposing schedules. But I’m going to do it. Now that my little one is older, I need to get out more. For real.
  5. I want to find ways to make work to fit into my life, not take over my life. With a little one still at home with me all day, it’s hard to find time for my writing and lactation business. But I do them because they are my passion (and I need to pay the bills!). It’s a constant balancing act to fit it all in, but I have gotten better at doing so. And yet, I know that as the school year advances, it’s going to be harder to do it all and stay sane. So I need to remember that it’s OK to say no to things. It’s OK to put my children and myself first. And that the weight of the world doesn’t rest on my shoulders.

That’s it, I think! L’Shana Tova to all who celebrate.


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End of Summer Sorrow


Tomorrow marks the beginning of the last week of summer vacation. Sigh.

It’s been a good summer in many ways. In July, my husband (who is a full-time teacher during the school year) worked part-time and the big kid had some day camp. We went to the pool a bit, played outside in the sprinklers some too.

In early August, we all took a trip to visit my dad and stepmom in California. It was really nice to see everyone, but traveling with little ones is far from relaxing. Still, the kids (especially the big one) remember it as an awesome time and are excited to travel again.

But now. This right here is my favorite thing in the world. No one has had work or other outside commitments for the past two weeks (and counting). It took me a few days to really relax into it, but oh my goodness, it’s good. I know that some people don’t love being home with no activities. And I have heard the words “I’m bored” uttered more times than I’d care to, but it doesn’t really matter when both parents are home to help (and our kids are finding stuff to do with a little nudge here and there).

I just love feeling this relaxed. I can feel each breath enter and exit my body. I can feel my heart beating slower. And I can enjoy the children—spend those few extra minutes inhaling their hair, watch the precise angle of their backs as they lean into the couch. I love the freedom of it all, not having to plan my day up to the minute so I can fit everything in and make everyone happy.

And sleeping. Taking turns sleeping in if the kids wake up too early (and dare I say that sometimes the kids are sleeping in themselves—wow!).

I know it will be impossible to bottle these feelings of slowness, solitude, and relaxation. But I hope the goodness we have been feeling—that feeling of all being together, in sync, loving on one another—will propel us forward into the busyness of September with a little more patience and understanding.

Let’s face it—the busyness of modern life can kind of suck sometimes. Don’t get me wrong: I am grateful that my husband has a good job, that my kid goes to a school he likes, and I have the kind of flexible work schedule that allows me to be home for my kids pretty much all the time. I know new adventures await us all in the new school year, and I’m excited for them.

But I see this summer ending, and I feel a little sad. No, very sad. I just want to hold on a little longer. I like the nothingness of our days. But most of all, I like these people. They are pretty much the best thing I have in life. I am eternally grateful, and so in love.


Family photo from the other day. The best we could get. Love the pile of junk next to us on the couch. Totally authentic.


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The Time I Was Shamed For Breastfeeding In Public

Sharing a new article I wrote for RoleReboot​ about the time I was asked to leave a Subway restaurant while nursing my first son. That was over 8 years ago, but I can still feel the way my throat closed up, and how simply terrified I felt. I was a new mom, just trying to get through my days. I am certainly an advocate for public breastfeeding, and this incident didn’t stop me from doing it, but it helped me to understand in a real way why so many moms feel uncomfortable breastfeeding outside their homes. We need to make the world a kinder place for breastfeeding moms and babies.


Here’s a sample of the article:

By the time my son was a few months old, I became an expert at nursing anywhere, anytime. And let me tell you, my baby nursed all the time. Every hour, to be exact. I gave little thought to nursing in public: If I hadn’t done it in public, I wouldn’t have left the house. (Pumps didn’t work well for me, nor did I particularly want to use bottles.)

So I nursed at stores, parks, and restaurants. I nursed him in a baby carrier while walking down the street. I learned how to nurse while leaning over his car seat (only when the car was stopped in traffic—with my seat belt on).

I never got a second glance from anyone while nursing in public, without a cover. We live in a suburb of New York City—not many mothers nurse in public, but it isn’t unheard of. I took for granted that I was never harassed. It didn’t even cross my mind.

And then, the summer my son was six months old, we spent a week upstate. One afternoon we decided to go out to lunch. There weren’t a lot of restaurant options so we reluctantly settled on Subway.

While we waited for the sandwiches to be ready, my baby needed to nurse. As always, I lifted my shirt and nursed him. We were seated near the back of the place, in a booth, and my breast and baby were fairly well hidden. I didn’t think about that at the time, but it was a detail that would spin through my head later, as I revisited the scene in slow motion.

Across the restaurant, an employee called out to me: “Excuse me, ma’am, you can’t do that here.”

“What?” I asked, truly not even realizing what she meant.

“Listen, I nursed by babies too, but you can’t do that here. You can go to the restroom if you want to continue. People are eating here.” She motioned to the one other patron, his back turned to me. “That’s indecent exposure,” she said.

Click here to read the full article.


It’s World Breastfeeding Week, and I will be sharing breastfeeding photos all week on my Facebook Page. Please come over and take a look. I’ll post as many pictures as I get. Email pictures to me at

25 Things I Want Breastfeeding Moms to Know


1. We’ve all had days when we wanted to give up.

2. There are breastfeeding helpers out there who won’t judge you. Keep looking till you find one who makes you feel safe and supported.

3. Breastfeeding isn’t all or nothing.

4. Breastfeeding looks different for each mom and baby.

5. It’s normal for newborns to never want to be put down. Ever. And it’s normal for them to nurse all the time, sometimes more than once an hour. Really.

6. Almost all moms will make enough milk if they nurse often enough, but for a small number of moms, this isn’t the case. Low milk supply is a real thing, and if you have it, you deserve good, kind, thoughtful help.

7. Tongue tie really can impact breastfeeding. Tongues that are tied down can’t milk the breast properly (leading to low weight gain) and can cause a lot of pain.

8. Tongue tie isn’t always the problem, or isn’t always the only problem. Breastfeeding difficulties are usually multi-faceted, which is why all moms deserve the skilled help of a good IBCLC.

9. I wish all good lactation consultants were covered under insurance. But we are not there yet. Please spend the money to get good help. Most lactation consultants don’t cost more than a good stroller or a baby swing. Most lactation consultants will spend two or more hours with you and provide follow-up.

10. Most breastfeeding problems can be solved by going back to basics. If your nipples hurt, you probably just need to change position, shape and hold your breasts, or unlatch and start again. If you aren’t making enough milk, you probably just need to nurse more frequently. Start with the basics before assuming anything more complicated is going on. Trust biology, your body, and your baby.

11. Lactation cookies and herbs can really help, but they are only helpful if combined with other treatments for remedying supply issues.

12. Breastfeeding isn’t meant to be done alone. Find your tribe. Go to a breastfeeding support meeting. Find moms online who have babies your age. It can make a huge difference.

13. Some babies sleep long stretches and fall asleep easily. Some do not. It (usually) has nothing to do with how you are feeding your baby. It’s usually just genetics and temperament.

14. There is no magic age when babies should stop nursing in the middle of the night. Some babies need the nutrition well past the first few months, and many like the nighttime connection for years.

15. You should breastfeed for as long or as short as you want. It is entirely up to you (and your baby).

16. It is NEVER anyone’s place to judge a mom who chooses not to breastfeed. There are so many reasons why a mother might make this choice, and none reflects poorly on her mothering or her level of care for her child.

17. How much you pump doesn’t always reflect how much milk your baby takes at your breast. Most babies take more than the pump extracts; some take less.

18. Working and pumping mothers deserve all the respect and love in the world.

19. Exclusive pumping moms do too.

20. Babies who never latch are rare, but this does happen, and it is one of the hardest things I have witnessed as a breastfeeding helper. These moms deserve the right to mourn the loss of at-breast feeding, but they need to know this doesn’t make them any less a breastfeeding mom.

21. All mothers have a right to feel whatever they feel about how breastfeeding went for them. All feelings are normal. All feelings are real.

22. Whether or not you breastfed or were breastfed matters in many ways, and in many ways it doesn’t matter at all.

23. Breastfeeding, above all, is love. It’s one of many ways to exchange love with your baby, your toddler, or your child.

24. Children need to grow up seeing breastfeeding. It makes breastfeeding normal. It teaches them breastfeeding positioning, behavior, and more. This is one of the key ways we can increase the breastfeeding rates in our country.

25. Breastfeeding is normal. Breastfeeding is intense. Breastfeeding is simple. Breastfeeding is beautiful.


It’s World Breastfeeding Week, and I will be sharing breastfeeding photos all week on my Facebook Page. Please come over and take a look. I’ll post as many pictures as I get. Email pictures to me at

Q & A With Christine Organ, Author of OPEN BOXES

I am so pleased to introduce Christine Organ, a fabulous writer and friend!

What I love about Christine is how honest and genuine she is, both as a writer and as a person. As I read her beautiful book, Open Boxes: the gifts of living a full and connected life , I felt like I was being let into her mind. I watched her wrestle with questions of life, faith, parenting, marriage, and friendship. She goes deep. She says it all. And she does it with generosity and elegance. Her stories are relatable, but don’t shy away from brutal honesty. She writes about postpartum depression, eating disorders, anxiety, childhood pain, and finding herself as a writer. I really enjoyed this book, and I had the pleasure of asking Christine some questions about her writing process, and other fun stuff.


Q&A With Christine Organ

Q: I am always fascinated with how parents (but mothers specifically, because I am one!) fit writing into their busy lives. What are your writing routines like? How did you manage to write an entire book while keeping two kids alive under your roof?

A: Finding the time and space – let alone the energy – to write is a constant challenge. While my specific routines have changed over time and vary depending on my children’s schedules, I generally try to write while they are at school or sleeping. I wrote my book over a 2-3 year period so it was written in short spurts. Thirty minutes here, a couple hours there.

During the school year, it is much easier to follow a general writing routine. My oldest son is in school all day and my youngest son is in preschool (soon to be kindergarten!) in the afternoon, so I block out that time in the afternoon for writing time. My mother-in-law also spends the morning with my younger son one day a week, which helps create a big chunk of time for tackling bigger projects.

This summer has presented a new challenge in that I am not only struggling to find time to write, but motivation. It’s hard to sit down at the computer when I would much rather be going to the pool or taking a trip to the lake. I do feel a bit antsy and eager to get back into a regular writing routine, but I am reminding myself that it’s okay to step back from my writing for a few months in order to enjoy this season of our lives. Come September I hope to hit the ground running again.

Q: I love how you cover such a broad range of subjects in the book, and the way that they all interact with each other to form a cohesive whole. Did you know you were writing the book as you completed each essay? How did you figure out the structure of the book?

A: Not at all! When I first started blogging, it was to create a platform for a very different book I had in mind. While that book never materialized, through blogging, I discovered my voice and the stories I really wanted to tell. Fairly quickly after I started blogging, I realized that I wanted to write a book about grace – the ways that it manifests itself and the profound impact that it can have on our lives. Over time, I noticed the common theme of openness and connection in several of the stories I wanted to tell. I also realized that wonder and the celebration of life’s little miracles were a big part of connection so I included those sections as well. With the theme of connection, the stories came together as one cohesive unit.

Q: You write about very personal subjects like postpartum depression and eating disorders. How do you feel about sharing these stories with the world?

A: It is definitely scary, but it gets easier over time. I am realizing that when we share the truth about ourselves, including the darker parts, we empower other people to accept their own truth as well. When we share our own war stories, so to speak, we are telling people that it’s okay that they accept their own war stories too. Not only that, but there is incredible freedom in owning the darker stories in our lives. By putting something out there, sharing these pieces of ourselves, we diffuse a bit of the power they hold over us.

That’s not to say that it stops being difficult. A few weeks ago, I shared an article on my Facebook page about eating disorders and I actually hesitated about posting it. I was scared to acknowledge that I have (and sometimes still do) deal with body image issues. What will people think of me?, I thought. Will people think less of me? And then I remembered all the things I wrote in “Open Boxes” about telling our stories and acknowledging our struggles. I wrote a whole chapter about eating disorders, for heaven’s sake! The cat’s out of the bag. And yet, there is a tendency to gloss over any lingering issues. I wanted to be able to say I beat this; it’s done. But life doesn’t work that way. I am a work in progress. I strive to live a life of authenticity and that means acknowledging the good and the bad, the beauty and the pain, the bitter and the sweet.

Q: What have been the biggest surprises since having the book published? What’s next for you?

A: I think one of the biggest – and best – surprises to me has been the diversity of people who have read and appreciated Open Boxes. As a woman and a mother, many of the stories resonate with women and mothers, but several men and non-parents have also told me how much they enjoyed the book. People from a wide range of backgrounds and faith traditions have found resonance in the book. This means a lot to me because one of my primary goals in writing “Open Boxes” was to find commonalities in the human condition, to draw on the ways we are more alike than different (while still celebrating our differences), and the wide range of readers has reinforced this for me.

Another big surprise to me is the amount of work it takes to actually sell a book. The marketing and promotional work is never-ending! I still feel very uncomfortable marketing myself, which can make it difficult. But I’m getting better at it.

Right now I’m focused on spreading the word about “Open Boxes” – speaking, book events, etc. – and there is always the writing that I do on my own website and on other (larger) websites, but I’m starting to think about possibly dipping my toes back into the book writing process soon. I’ve got some ideas brewing that I need to flesh out, but I’m hoping to throw myself into a new book project soon.


I highly recommend delving into Christine’s book yourself. You can order it here.

And here’s a bit more about Christine, including links to her blog and where else you can find her.


Christine Organ is the author of Open Boxes: the gifts of living a full and connected life — a collection of stories that celebrate the human spirit.  She lives in Chicago with her husband, two sons, and two dogs. Her work has appeared on The New York Times, the Washington Post, Huffington Post, UU World, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Role Reboot, and Mamalode. She writes at You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.


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