Milk Magic

drops of milk

Image courtesy of and

Making tiny humans inside yourself is awesome, but making all their food for the first 6 months and actually seeing them grow from it just blows your mind. I feel like it is this ethereal phenomenon that I have been blessed to experience. Until you actually get there, you don’t know how hard breastfeeding is for some moms. And I have to give them some mad respect. The women that spend hours pumping, feeding, burping, the crazy-restricted diets, the schedules, the stress.

I’ve said this before – the way to a nursing mother’s heart lies through her boobies via anything that helps her milk supply. I think we ourselves create so much stress about whether or not we have enough milk, and that is so widespread that I was bombarded with all these pamphlets during our hospital discharge about how to tell if you have enough milk, yada yada… I have 3 mini milk-related stories to share with you today.

1) When I worked in clinical research with premie babies, breastmilk etc – I was astounded that there is such a thing as a milk bank! At first I couldn’t even understand why you’d need something like that, and when my boss told me that – some women just don’t have enough milk (not just because of chemotherapy, or some other health reasons) my question was – well, isn’t there something that could make you have more milk? Why aren’t we researching this? She said that was impossible because there could never be a control group, once women hear there is something that MIGHT increase your milk supply – like fenugreek, they’re going to take it and you can’t stop them. And that’s how I learned – there was no stopping a nursing mother from getting what she needs.

2) With my first son I kept thinking – “Don’t stress about not having enough milk, the stress from that could make you have less milk!!!”. I had enough milk to feed him, but I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t stashing anything in the freezer. And then it turned out – my milk was making him sick – which was very depressing!!! He had a milk protein sensitivity so I had to cut out all dairy… And when he got his first set of teeth he started to actively chew off my nipples, no matter what I tried. So unappreciative of all the efforts I was putting into making that boy some food!! A tendency he still hasn’t gotten rid of! Grr! I had to switch to pumping, and at around 10 months of his age, when it was taking me 40+ minutes to pump 4 oz on a good day – I decided it was time to close down the tap. Somewhere I had heard that if you feed for 6 months you get a “C” for breastfeeding, 1 year = a “B” and 1.5 years is where you need to be if you want an A. Anything above that – is more for the mother than for the baby. And though people told me I did well – I felt like I didn’t even earn a B! =( And that’s how I learned that more breastmilk is always better!

3) This time around… holy smokes!!!! I saw these wonderful people at the Baby Fair, they made special bars and teas for nursing moms. But you were not supposed to have it during pregnancy so I couldn’t try it at the time. But I took the little sample and hung on to it. And I am so glad I did. When I finally resurfaced mentally after delivery and remembered about it – I checked them out online ( and gave my order to my husband – so he could pick it up for me from a store in the City and I didn’t have to wait on the shipping. Now, let me tell you… his excuse of “I didn’t have enough time during lunch” got him into loads of trouble!!!! And since then he has been great about keeping the bars and tea coming. My standard order is the chocolate bars because Hello! I love chocolate, and the herbal tea since I’m not a big fan of chai. It is a little bit of an acquired taste but I told myself – it is, quite literally, for future generations, and after a few days I actually started to prefer this tea to my usual ones and I was sorry I was supposed to eat only one bar a day! Now, let me warn you, one of the potential side effects of all these lactation boosting ingredients is stomach ache – and the first few days my stomach did hurt for a couple of minutes after, but that quickly went away too. But what came was milk, milk, milk and loads of it! Oh my! I feel like a sprinkler system whenever I start feeding. I already have more milk in my freezer in the first 8 weeks than I did in the 8 months I was feeding my first son. We are having frozen dinners almost every night because I need to empty out more room!! This morning, after my son ate, I had to pump out 6 oz of milk. I say “had to” because otherwise I am just so uncomfortable. Do you see what I’m saying? I’m a scientific skeptic when it comes to untested herbal things, but I have got to admit – this stuff works!!! And I am so excited about these little magic supplements that I contacted Mrs. Patel’s and asked if I could have a special discount for you guys! So, if you use the code “elephant” when placing your order – you will get 20% off!!! I suggest you go for one of the packages, it’s a great value (34-36$) for a two week supply.


Not nursing? This is a great gift!!!!! Just don’t get the bars for a baby shower because they need to be eaten fresh. You can order them when your mom-friend goes into labor ;)

They ship everywhere in the US, including Hawaii and Alaska. And if you are outside the US – let me know, maybe I can forward it to you ;)

Toy review

My oldest has a wonderful godmother – that believes in wishlists! =) Her and I did really well this Christmas because made a good guess as to what my son would like and she did a great job of picking it! ;)

While I had been baffled by my son’s interest in cars that developed completely on its own and has progressed exactly in accordance with little boys everywhere – cars, trains, motorcycles, tools… Thomas, Paw Patrol etc. Whenever given the opportunity (toy store, toy cafe) – he likes playing with doll houses! Sometimes it’s acting out things from his life – putting someone to bed, sitting in the rocking chair with a book (so sweet!), other times its – kicking out the dolls and putting the little wooden motorcycles to bed. So I thought – what can I do?!? I can’t get my 2 year old a doll house!!! I’m all for no gender stereotypes with toys but – he’s fallen into those stereotypes on his own so far, what if he doesn’t like it? And I’m not going to get him toys just for myself! And then I saw this:

Behold, the Julius Jr Rock’n Playhouse Box

20141225_090405It has all the necessary doll house attributes but definitely punches it up a notch (or more like SEVEN!). There’s a light-up dance floor! And all these different little sounds, and a slide and.. And right now it is on super sale on Amazon! It has additional rooms that you can connect, and they are also crazy cheap (and yes, I already got all of them and am hiding them in the closet for some occasion).

There has been maybe one day since Christmas morning when he didn’t play with this thing, and that would have been a day that we spent out somewhere. It is an absolute hit!

Just thought I’d let you know.

Oh, yeah, and there’s also an accompanying show on Netflix (who knew!) and a free app for your Android device.


The mystery of the disappearing battery

Did you know – there is a special Battery Ingestion Hotline that you can call whenever you or someone around you swallows a battery (202-625-3333 available 24/7)? I sure didn’t. Until one Sunday night a couple weeks ago.

It was just a regular Sunday evening, we were having some tea/kefir and papa was replacing batteries in the most epic Disney toy ever (a remote controlled Wall-E!). Our two year old was sitting in my lap, “helping” papa fix the batteries. He had one battery and his sippy cup. I turned my head to take a gulp of tea. I look back – no battery. We asked him where he put it – he pointed to his mouth. We looked everywhere in case he dropped it – and didn’t find it.

And then we did what every parent in this day and age does – we googled.

This is the battery in question. An LR44. This is the stuff in the back of those books with sound for example.


We found that hotline and were on the phone with them in seconds. Let me tell you – that hotline is a great experience! No waiting, they were super nice, and then they called and checked up on us throughout the week! Here’s what they told us – get an x-ray now to make sure it’s not stuck in his esophagus, so it doesn’t come up and choke him at night, and if it seems ok – wait for it to pass. If it’s not out in 3-5 days, get another x-ray to make sure it didn’t get stuck somewhere else. He didn’t seem to be in any pain, and it was late Sunday night… So I’ll be honest with you – we didn’t go to no Emergency Room.

There are about 3,500 cases of swallowed batteries reported every year! And most of them pass on their own with no complications. So that was good news. The dangers are – choking, or the battery leaking acid into tissues and dissolving part of his digestive tract. If that had happened – he’d be in loads of pain. But he wasn’t. The only thing the battery seemed to do was give him even more energy. He was running around in circles, screaming “more batteries!”.

And then we waited… and waited… for it to pass. If you know what I mean. That is one small battery. It took some fine searching skills. First we discussed – what would be the best strategy to.. extract it from the material. (I know this is gross, but maybe there’s someone out there that needs this) – ziplock bags came in very handy! Of course the duty of duties fell to me. And every time when I would say that no battery was sighted, dad and grandma would say – “are you sure?!?” but none of them wanted to check for themselves for some reason… Day 3 came and went, as did day 4. I started getting the sense that – no one (as in no battery) was coming because – here were the kiwis that were eaten much later than the battery… And I called our advice nurse who was very surprised that there was no battery after 4 days, the doctor was surprised too. They had a lengthy discussion and gave us the option of coming to the ER for an x ray or doing it the next day at a scheduled appointment. I picked the appointment.

In the morning we were getting ready to go and I started getting bombarded with doubts. Dad was saying – it hasn’t been a full 5 days, I bet you it will come out tomorrow!! Grandma was saying – x rays are soooo bad! Don’t do them unless it’s absolutely necessary (what’s worse, battery acid or an x ray, grandma!) Fine, whatever. I hate arguing!! I canceled the appointment, we waited another day, and I made THEM look for the battery! =)

By Saturday there was still no battery to be seen. So we called the nurse again. She had a doctor call us back and ask us to come in for x rays. I gotta say – for some reason kids HATE x rays! Poor guy was crying so hard – I didn’t get to go with him (daddy volunteered) but I sure heard him. I think the whole building did. The doctor called us back within 20 minutes… No battery!!!

I don’t know what he did with it… He spits out pop corn kernels… I don’t know how he could have managed to swallow a battery! But – I guess now if I need him to take a pill – I’ll tell him it’s a battery and it’ll give him an energy boost.

I bet he really enjoyed seeing us scramble and worry and sort through his poop on a daily basis. And I get you – he wrote about it in his little toddler blog =)


Birth story 2.0 part 3

Aaaand … =)

I felt him slipping through (this whole “ring of fire=hell thing – didn’t really think it was worse than any other part of the process) and in a few surreal moments there was this wet little angry man, covered in white stuff being placed on my deflated souffle of a stomach. And he cried right away, not making me hold my breath and heartbeat with worry. He was cleaned up, daddy got to cut the cord and live through his second most-tender life moment I have been lucky enough to witness.

I got to hold him in my arms, and he looked up at me like we belonged to each other and he would feel safe as long as I was near. And in that second I felt so silly for ever wondering how I would manage loving two precious boys at the same time and if it would be enough for each of them because it was so painfully clear – this is how it was meant to be and there was no other way! Big part of my love for them was giving each of them a brother!


Huge thanks to Anastasia Serova for the image! 


Home birth

Ever since I was about 12 years old – I knew two things for sure: I wanted to have kids and I would be giving birth at the hospital. You see, there’s this Russian TV persona who is now getting a bit old and possibly loony, but back then she had a legit show about health and medicine. She was kind of my hero and a big part of the reason I have as much of an interest in medical science as I do. She was a guest on one talk show that I got a glimpse of. I don’t remember what the main topic of the show was or even which show it was, but I remember one thing that she said – “Dear women. Do not have birth at home. If anything ever goes wrong – you will not stop blaming yourself. It’s not worth it”. That just really resonated with me, I took it as an absolute truth, and as my first birth experience goes to show – good thing that I did.

I’m not saying don’t have a home birth. I believe everyone is free to do as they wish, I’m just sharing my personal stance that I have adopted for myself. Obviously for centuries women have been giving birth not in hospitals, there were no NICU’s, fetal monitoring systems, epidurals, emergency c sections and so forth. But there was also a 25% rate of mother’s death in childbirth. A friend of mine gave birth at home, and her mother had given birth in their tub to several children (a regular tub, not one of those fancy “water birth” tubs even). My husband was born at home, and I’m sure all of his siblings were as well. It’s a common thing in many countries, and may be the right choice for many women.

If you haven’t seen this article or these photos – please do. Thank goodness everything turned out to be ok. But what if it hadn’t? Is giving birth in the hospital really that awful that it’s worth putting yourself and the baby at that much risk?

There is a great big backlash coming forth as a result to the “aggressive” medical practices of the west, and it seems like the people, especially the women, are really being heard. Episiotomies are becoming a thing of the past, lots of efforts are being made to keep c-section rates low and there is so much support for natural births! You don’t need to seek out special birthing centers, many hospitals are now equipped to do water births and you can even get them to pack up your placenta so you can get it encapsulated or whatever you wish to do with it.

Those few seconds between when your child is born and when you finally hear his or her first cry – the whole world stands still, it’s an excruciating wait no matter how long it is. I can’t even imagine this poor mom, what she must have gone through!!!

Do I think it’s fair that she’s blaming her whole birth team? No. What where they supposed to do? It sounds like they did CPR and got the baby breathing before the ambulance arrived. I’m not really sure what were they supposed to have done differently? They did the best they could with what they had, no? I don’t know, I’ve never been at a home birth or wished to have one myself, obviously. But – is she suing them? Are there specific procedures they did not follow? She doesn’t share that info. Even all that aside, something about having someone else feed me, take care of me and also not having to worry about cleaning up that just makes those hospital births so appealing. Oh, and the medicine brought to me at the right times – that’s also a plus. Of course, I had read the chapter on what to do if you are deep in labor and home along, and I was fully prepared to unlock the door and lie on the floor. But – that’s if the apocalypse had decided to strike and all the roads were broken and no gasoline was left in the world and every Prius ran out of juice… You get the idea. =)

I know – there are plenty of traumatic hospital births too. Complications can arise in any setting, I’ll be the first to tell you that. I just have a hard time understanding why anyone would not minimize the risks to their child. Again – I respect their right to have that choice and to make that choice, but I don’t have to understand it and I sure don’t. I’d like to though. So – if you have some reasons and thoughts to share – I’d be very grateful!

Read the full article here –

I know most of you had hospital births. Did you even think of having a home birth? What were your reasons for considering it and for dismissing it? How do you feel about your choice now?

Oh and mad props to the photographer! =) It’s hard to get good angles when there’s naked people in the room and limited light.

And again – I am just so happy that baby and the momma are ok!

UPDATE: I actually asked my obgyn about this, and he was familiar with the incident. We concluded that it was hard to believe that nobody in that room cared about the mother or her baby. Especially since she had hired all of them herself to do just that. And then he added that having a homebirth is just asking for trouble. His words, not mine.