Sunday, October 31, 2010

it wasn't for the antibodies

I've written a lot about my (mostly successful) struggle to breastfeed my twins. But I've never told you this story.

When I was in the middle of it, I was all tangled up in logistics. Breastfeeding twins can be relatively simple - 2x the demand => 2x the supply, right? - but it can also be anything but. My boys had a lot of things working against them, and so did I. Figuring out what was helping our efforts, and what was hurting them, took most of the concentration I had.

The first few weeks was probably the only time I thought not just about 'how', but 'whether' and 'why'. How important was this to me? How hard was I going to fight for it, how long, and at what cost? (Answers: very; very; very; and possibly too much.) After that, my mind was made up. Everything else had to get out of the way.

So when I wrote about breastfeeding while it was happening, and probably for a while after weaning, too, I think I was primarily hoping to teach. If someone else out there was fighting for the same thing I was, I didn't want them to have to make the same mistakes, too. It's hard enough figuring it out on your own with one baby; when you have two babies or more, other people's experience can be invaluable.

But my babies are four years old, now. They've been weaned since they were two. The 'how' has faded; so, obviously, has the 'whether.' What I think about now, when I look back, is why. Why was this so important to me? Why did I fight so hard?

I thought, at the time, it was because of years of infertility. My body had come to seem like a black hole: utterly unable to sustain life. Pregnancy after IVF was healing, to some extent, but not as much as I'd hoped. It was a dream come true, yes. But…it still felt impossible. Do you know what I mean? Like something out of science fiction. So for me, breastfeeding felt like my last chance to nurture my babies with my body. I wanted to prove something to myself, I suppose. I wanted to feel, finally, like my body could do something natural. But I also just wanted it.

See, there's someone else in this story.

Not just in the story. She was in the room. My sister.

My sister, who was diagnosed with breast cancer as a young mother, before I ever had children. Who had a double mastectomy, in hopes of preventing it from ever coming back. Who'd been so happy breastfeeding her first baby. Who had to decide what would break her heart more: to breastfeed her second baby for just a few weeks, then wean in order to start cancer treatment - or not to breastfeed at all. Who would never have the chance to breastfeed a baby again.

In my memory, it seems like my sister is with me in the hospital for my entire five-day stay, though I know she didn't sleep there and of course she must have taken breaks. She was just there a lot. I didn't realize what that would mean beforehand; I don't know if she did, either. Because I spent most of those days topless. Attached to one baby, attached to the other baby, attached to the pump, or just plain too sore to put on my bra. It was All Breasts, All The Time in that room.

And I don't remember ever seeing pain or grief on her face. All I ever saw was support. Enthusiastic, all-out, eye of the tiger support. She hadn't offered an opinion on whether I should try to breastfeed; I don't know if we even talked about it, before I delivered. She just showed up when the babies were born, to give me whatever kind of support I needed. And stayed. And became, whether she realized it or not, my quietest and biggest cheerleader.

I didn't tell her until years later what that meant to me. How mind-boggling it was, when I had enough distance to think about it. We didn't talk about it at all in the moment. We didn't need to say it, I guess. It was there for both of us the whole time: this is precious. this is worth fighting for.

This is for you, sister of mine. Thank you. Thank you.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

no need to adjust your television

This weekend aliens abducted my son and replaced him with a pod child who will one day rise up and kill us in our sleep, or something.

Either that, or feeding therapy works.

BET: What's that?

EEMA: Gravy.

BET: I don't like gravy.

BET: Actually I've never tried gravy.

BET: I would really love to try that.

[Eema reattaches jaw]

EEMA: Really? Okay, here's a bite of chicken with gravy.

BET: That doesn't taste good in my mouth.


BET: But it is yummy!

BET: Can I have some more? I LOVE chicken with gravy.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

the year in quotes

For those of you who missed them, things my kids (who are FOUR today!!!) said (way back when they were three) that made me laugh.


After a standoff. ALEPH: How do I break you? EEMA: What?? ALEPH: I want to know how to break you. EEMA: Why do you want to know that? ALEPH: I need to know how you're made. So I know how to break you.

BET [hands fisted and nostrils flared]: Is it okay if we never go to sleep EVER AGAIN??

ALEPH: If you let me give you zorberts without tickling me, I will let you tickle me tomorrow. Is that a good deal?

ALEPH: Well, I think I almost know everything.

BET [talking to himself in bed]: Sesame Street is a... production of the... Children's Television Workshop.

ALEPH: [singing] seventeen eighteen nineteen, but can I tell you something there's no tenteen, is there I don't think so

BET: [clutching my neck] No don't go, I don't want you to go, you can't leave me!! EEMA: You know what? If you say goodbye nicely, you can watch a video. BET: [tiny pause] Bye.

LANCE: Aleph, you're not cooperating. ALEPH: I'm not so good at cooperating. LANCE: Well, maybe you need to practice. That's how you learn. ALEPH: That's one way of learning. Can you think of another way?

BET plays a game all school break called "sorry, I have to leeeeeeeave you now!" He instructs me to "be sad until I come back."

ALEPH [at midnight, loudly, to sound-asleep roommate]: Bet, I'm just gonna go someplace! If you want to come with me, you can.

ALEPH [self-talk at the childproof fire escape gate]: Ohhhhh IgetitIgetitIgetit, you just open this right here. [pause] That doesn't work. Ohhhhh IseeIseeIsee, you can't open it.

ALEPH: Why can't I see the planets? EEMA: Well, you can only see them at nighttime. ALEPH: But why can't I see them big? EEMA: Oh! You can only see them big with a telescope. Or a spaceship. ALEPH: Well, do we have any telescopes? EEMA: No. ALEPH: ...spaceships?

EEMA [after one too many "are we there yet?"s]: Bet, it's not about the destination, it's about the journey. LANCE: Dude. BET: Toad.

BET: You have ten train cars and I only have five. I need one of yours. [Aleph gives him a car.] BET: I need one more. ALEPH: [sigh] Bet, I can't keep giving you cars. Every time I give you a car, you ask me for another one.

BET: I want a banana. EEMA: [brings banana] BET: This banana has a brown spot. EEMA: [cuts out brown spot] BET: This banana has a hole in it.

Reading a story where someone has a big secret. ALEPH: My biggest secret is I love you. BET: My biggest secret is a monkey.

ALEPH: Here's a present, Eema! [brings over new toy box] EEMA: Thanks! What is it? ALEPH: Oh wait. [peers at the 2+ age warning] Looks like it says... 'Not for Eemas'. Sorry.

ALEPH [lotioned, conditioned, & stark naked]: Now I'm absolutely the way I want to be!

A bedtime story. LANCE: One day Aleph & Bet went to a sandwich shop. ALEPH [interjecting]: And then Aleph said, is your sandwich made in a nutfree 'acility? LANCE [slightly stunned]: Uh... I don't know. ALEPH: Well then I cannot eat it.

BET: Aleph, I hurt myself. Can you kiss me? ALEPH: *mwah!* EEMA: [keels over in dead faint]

Videochat with me while I'm in Israel: ALEPH: It would have been nicer if you took us with you.

Propping up Bet's elevated track with 4 blocks. BET: No, two! I want two!! EEMA: I think it really needs four. BET: No, twoooooooooooo! EEMA: Okay, then just take 2 out and you'll have 2 left. But it might fall down if you do that. BET: I think it's better if I sit on your lap and think about it for a little while.

ALEPH: Eema, sing a song about Thomas and a cow. EEMA: Uhhhh, I don't know that song. ALEPH: Well, just make it up! EEMA: I don't really know how to make up songs. ALEPH: Eema, let me tell you about making up a song. You just sit down quietly, and *think* about it, and then... you sing it.

ALEPH: [punches numbers on calculator, then holds it out]: I love you this much, Eema.

ALEPH: Eema, when I'm a grownup I still might not want to put my pants on by myself. EEMA: [snarfle] Really? Huh. So who's going to do that for you? ALEPH: Well, I think you might find me a nice girl to marry. EEMA: You don't think you want to do that part yourself, either? ALEPH: No.

ALEPH [in robot pajamas]: My name is John. And I am a They Might Be Giant.

ALEPH: Knock knock. EEMA: Who's there? ALEPH: Aleph. EEMA: Aleph who? ALEPH: Aren't you glad I didn't say Bet?

ALEPH: My mouth feels itchy. EEMA: It does? Did it start before you ate the strawberries, or after? ALEPH: I just love that itching medicine so much. I want to know when I can have some more.

BET: really wear me out. EEMA: (whoops with laughter) (recovers) Who says that, Bet? BET: Olivia's mother.

overheard [in robot voices]: ALEPH: BET:

ALEPH: Abba, you never let me do ANYTHING I WANT with Eema in the middle of the night!

BET: Eema, don't look at what I'm doing. [carefully pours water into the salt shaker]


Happy birthday, funny boys. I love you.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

luckily, the brainwashing is strong with this one

Scene: It's been raining for like ever, and we're all kinda losing it especially me, and I thought I'd succeeded in shooing the boys out to stomp in puddles with Lance. But Bet became freaked out by the presence of strangers next door [the neighbors' son, actually, but he is NOT USUALLY HOME, HORRORS]. He's now back huddling on my lap and attempting to convince me it's best if we all stay inside. Together. At all times.

EEMA: Well, I think you need to go outside sometimes. Actually, I need to go outside sometimes. I get kind of cranky and grouchy and grumpy if I don't get outside for too long.

BET: [in his best eema-you're-so-silly voice] Well you're not grouchy today.

EEMA: [after hopefully not noticeable pause] ...No?

BET: Because you're so happy you get to stay home with ME.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

what? are we not making this look like fun???

ALEPH: [crying] Eema, I don't want to be a grownup.

EEMA: You're not a grownup.

ALEPH: [crying harder] I don't EVER want to be a grownup.

EEMA: Why not?

ALEPH: [sobbing full out] Because it's gonna be too hard to take care of the kids I'm gonna get.

EEMA: Wow. Uh... you have kids if you want to have kids, honey.

ALEPH: Do you think we can daven to Hashem to tell Him I don't want to have kids? Because I'm not sure He knows that.

Friday, February 26, 2010

the song remains the same

So the first thing you need to know is that Bet is scared of monsters, and of being eaten, and of course of being eaten by monsters. He'll play with a dinosaur happily during the daytime, but that night, out of nowhere he'll say "please don't let the dinosaur eat me."

The second thing is that although we tell the boys they can't fill up on X until they have some Y, we try not to set up one food as more desirable than another. We just say you need to eat different kinds of food, because if you only eat one kind of food, you might turn into it. Ho ho ho. Come on, have a bite of green beans.

With these two pieces of information, you can totally write the following ending yourself. And yet until he said it, I somehow never did.

BET: Can I have more lasagna?

EEMA: First have some of your veggies.

BET: I can't just eat lasagna. Because if I only eat lasagna, I might turn into lasagna.

EEMA: That's right.

BET: And then someone might EAT me.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

help. meeeeeeeee.

EEMA: [finishes singing tonight's bedtime song request, ZYX]

BET: That's the alphabet backwards!

EEMA: Yeah! Now let's do it forwards. [opens mouth to sing the ABC]

ALEPH: Or we could do ZYX backwards. Because ZYX backwards is the same as ABC forwards.