Monday, December 1, 2008

Lactose Tolerance

Alison slowly crawls into bed, knowing it is only a brief respite from her job as a milking station to 2 entities: Miles and/or the Medela pump.

Eric: You smell like milk.

Alison pauses for a few moments. It’s been over 6 months of breastfeeding…is this really a surprise? How to respond?

Play dumb with a smattering of facetiousness: “Really? I wonder why?!?”

Proud: “Oh, thank you! I produced the creamiest jug yet, tonight.”

Embarrassed: “I am so sorry; would you like me to take a shower to get rid of the odor?”

Scared: “Oh no! Do you think I have some sort of disease?"

Ali: Eric, I don’t know how to respond.

Eric loves milk, but it must be skim, cold, pasteurized and come from a bovine udder. I know your next thought—have either of you tried it? Believe it or not, we haven’t. a) I really don’t like milk to begin with, and b) I have such a hard time getting enough for Miles that I hate to say it, but I don’t want to waste a drop! I did taste Miles’s rice cereal, which is made with my milk, so I guess by some sort of transitive property of lactose, I have tried it.

I continually have “what if” conversations with Eric:

  • What if we were stranded on a desert island and had only water. Would you drink it? Could I live longer if I drank the milk, too?

  • What if I only ate all organic food. Could I call my breast milk organic?

  • What if you had to drink one of the following: milk straight from a cow (not like him latching on the cow, but like out of Farmer Brown’s bucket), or Miles’s milk from a bottle—what would you choose?

To be fair, I think we both are still amazed at the whole keeping a baby alive with the personal milk bar. I used to make comments about Miles being constructed of bagels and lemonade, but it was a hard concept to nail in that the reality that my body CREATED Miles was filtered by weeks of nausea as well as an inability to truly “see” the baby grow while in utero. (Remember my whole visual thing?) There were ultrasounds, and as exciting as they are, I find the whole looking at a screen away from your baby/belly to see rough images of your baby kind of disconnected and unreal. If they could make see-through abdomens, it would be a whole different story.
Feet then...

Feet now!

Breastfeeding is more of an active process for me, and I realize that I am keeping Miles alive in a new, unique way. Every time I see his growing chubby cheeks, I shake my head in amazement.

During my nursing school stint, I had an interest in lactation consultancy. I swiftly reconsidered as I passed out in a new mother’s room while the consultant was talking to her about appropriate latch. (Sign anyone?) Granted, it was a related to blood sugar and locked knees, but “coming to” in the mother’s hospital room while the nurses and patient were taking care of me, handing me OJ and wiping me down with cool cloths was sign enough. During some wild and crazy day dreams, I think about starting an Atlanta-based milk bank where moms with an oversupply can bank their milk to be used for other babies. I recognize that there must be some insane regulations involved, but I hear so often (not in my house, though!) women who have freezers full of milk that they will never use.

Does anyone else find it simply amazing that women are able to keep entire beings alive with their breasts? Seriously…it blows my mind. My little 4lb nugget is now a supersize 15lb whopper, and all because of breast milk. I also find it interesting that my body produces different “flavors” of milk depending on the needs of the baby. Miles’s preemie milk bar was producing far different offerings than what I am producing now. It is even apparent in any milk that is stored in the fridge. Too much detail? Just stop reading (you should have learned after reading my initial posts). There are crazy layers and colors. Simply astounding I tell you…

I cannot quite reconcile how people are offended by seeing breast milk (e.g. in an office fridge). I know that the cow’s milk we buy has been processed, and that cow’s don’t need to put up nursing curtains when they are milked like women do when they pump at work, but the more I think of it, the crazier it seems. (And let’s be honest, there are many office refrigerators with far more offensive residents than bottles of pumped milk. How about old Tupperware containers filled with unidentifiable lunches coated with a light dusting of fuzz?)

If you didn’t catch it before, Miles has started rice cereal and loves it! He is just eating it once a day, and only about 2 T, but we are slowly working our way toward vegetables. He is also starting some PT next week for his foot, and our pediatrician’s office initiated an application for a GA program called “Babies Can’t Wait” to assess him for some other developmental delays, such as sitting up, rolling over and using his arms to prop himself up. He also started his every 4 weeks Synagis shot to ward off RSV. He may qualify given his premature status. It isn’t a vaccine, but a monoclonal antibody. RSV is a nasty, nasty respiratory illness that I don’t want to contend with. I cannot say I enjoy the amount of shots that this child receives, and I still struggle with the decision to go with the unaltered vaccine schedule, but the public healther in me says it is the right thing to do for my child. Miles is just getting over his FIRST illness—a minor cold. Hey, 6 months without being sick is pretty remarkable! We are thankful for such great health. (And I bet you that darn breast milk had something to do with it.)

Speaking of being thankful, we had an amazing Thanksgiving. Eric ran the half for fun, and I bailed. I am no running hero, and just wasn't prepared. March is my new goal for a half marathon. AunT and Mr Nick drove all the way from Miami to be with us. Videos of his impromptu morning concert, and an "uncle feeding" below. (The next one is a picture of a picture...pretty cool!)

We also had a truly delightful dinner at Mama D’s house (who is cooking her own little one, to make her debut in March!). Finally, one of my best friends from growing up, "Daniel my brother," was blessed with the birth of his first baby girl on Thanksgiving! Congrats! (Miles is going to have a hard time picking a prom date).



  1. I totally agree with your thoughts on the miracle of nursing. There is a milk bank here in MA if you ever want to get in touch with them to use as a model. It's a great idea. I never had gallons extra either.
    Grandpa and I love, love, love the photos of Miles with his besotted AunT and Uncle Nick! What a lucky little boy to be serenaded by his uncle and kissed by both.
    Thanks for the new pictures!

  2. Such a great post Ali! I totally support starting a milk bank in Atlanta. It is so amazing how much Miles has grown and he has you to thank for that. You are such a wonderful mother and Thanksgiving was very special.

  3. I hear you on the milk machine thing (the annoyance and also the wonder of it). Did you know that, at least in NYS, you have to label breast milk as "biohazard" if you put it in a common work fridge? Wild, right? Jason absolutely will not try Ella's cereal because the idea of ingesting breastmilk grosses him out so.

    Miles is looking wonderful and so big!

  4. Ali-
    For the first time now, I can chime in on the nursing chatter....being a new mom myself, I am getting used to the whole cow feeling. My entire days are filled with feeding/pumping and changing poopy diapers-and yet I've never been happier-breastfeeding is such a miracle in itself and Miabella's cheeks are getting chubbier by the day...gotta love it-