Category Archives: Postpartum

Surviving Mastitis

Last month I had my second bout with mastitis. It is not pretty, let me tell you. But I got through it, again, without antibiotics or further complications. There seem to be some common conditions that bring it on, for me at least.

The first time I had it, Del had gotten his first round of newborn shots (at 8 weeks) and the pediatrician told me he’d probably be sleepy. That entire day, Del nursed only sporadically and yes, slept a lot. That night was the first time he slept “through the night” (a total of about 7 hours uninterrupted that night) which should have been marvelous. Except that my breasts got so full I was getting sore. Sometime in the night I thought it must have gotten very cold outside and our apartment was cooling down, because I had chills. By early morning I realized my chills were fever, and it was easy to tie the fever to the bright red, hot, hard and painful spot on my left breast, about the diameter of a Ritz cracker. My temperature was 101 and I was aching all over. Checking my breastfeeding books and the internet confirmed my suspicions: mastitis.

Continue reading


Breastfeeding feelings and D-MER

Many thanks to Mothering Touch for sharing this video about a condition I had not heard of till now – Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER). The video is worth watching -knowing there is a physiological reason for negative feelings that come right before milk lets down can help many moms manage the condition.

The gist is that about 10% of breastfeeding mothers experience a wash of negative emotions preceding the milk let-down reflex. (For those to whom this is Greek: milk let-down occurs in response to the baby suckling – in the first few second/minutes of a breastfeeding session, the baby is not getting milk. The suckling stimulates the milk ducts to open and release the milk stored behind them. It often causes a physical tingling sensation, and is accompanied by a release of the hormone oxytocin – the bonding hormone – to the brain.) For 10% of nursing moms, the moments preceding milk let-down are accompanied by a brief sense of doom, failure, anger, panic and/or fear. Most moms who experience this don’t know it’s a physiological condition, and don’t find help.

Personally, in my early days of breastfeeding, I experienced a rush of sleepiness when my milk let down, and sometimes a feeling best described as peaceful sadness. The sad feeling has pretty much passed,  but I still often feel very sleepy in response to that dose of oxytocin. Not surprising – it’s the same hormone that makes us cuddle and sleep with our lovers. I always figured it was my body’s way of insuring that I get some rest, and that my baby and I snuggle and bond in a way I might overlook if not physically reminded to do it.

I want all moms who are willing to also be able to breastfeed – and to get help for any challenges they experience. I hope this post helps.

Parents tell the truth about becoming parents

Letty shared this amazing video with me via Woah Baby on Facebook yesterday. This is GOOD, TRUE stuff, people. Watch it. Twice.

It takes a village, part two

Women in construction. image from

Villages are not built overnight.

My attempts to rapidly fabricate a village in our new town have been a kind of tragicomedy which you can possibly only appreciate when you’ve felt the happy desperation that is being a stay at home mom. (Happy because instead of working somewhere you’re home taking care of this infinitely adorable little person/desperate because some days you just HAVE to talk to someone else or go somewhere before you collapse in an angry, weeping heap.)

I started with a few google searches: moms’ groups in gaithersburg, new moms montgomery county, etc. Found a few leads but nothing much was coming up. A children’s consignment shop about an hour from here was having a baby sign language class, and that inspired me to search for baby sign language in my area. I found something – classes taught nearby! Awesome. But no… the last time a class was held was in 2009. Further digging revealed this teacher lives an hour away and only does private classes now. Continue reading

It takes a village, part one

It is said that it takes a village to raise a child. Now that I am a mother, I agree with it more than ever, and am grateful for the varied and wonderful village of friends and acquaintances who love my son. But the last few weeks have lead me to believe that it also takes a village to raise a mother.

image by Erin at

Leaving my DC neighborhood for a suburban Maryland apartment near my husband’s work a few weeks ago has been … hard. To gain proximity to Zach’s job (and an end to his hour-plus commute), and an apartment both larger and cheaper than our DC place, and a less-expensive existence for our now single-income family, I lost several important things: familiar neighborhood, easy travel (DC is very walkable and has great public transit) and most importantly, easy access to my village. A Village doesn’t come easy – it’s curated over time as we meet many different people over years of interacting around shared interests, activities and values. We drift away from people you don’t connect with. And with others, we resonate; there is harmony of thought, similar sense of humor, sympathy and support. They become your village. Continue reading

Best. Snack. Ever.

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe forever.

Peanut butter energy balls. When I was getting things ready for Del’s birth day, one thing I really wanted was a snack I remembered from childhood that my mom used to make – these peanut butter ball thingees with wheat germ on the outside. That was all I could remember of the recipe, so I set out hunting the Inter-tubes for a recipe. (Mom later said she could have found the recipe for me… I never even thought of that, so reliant I am on the ol’ web.) I easily found a dozen different recipes and managed to glean from them what ingredients must have made up my mom’s recipe.

Basically: peanut butter, dried fruit, granola, powdered milk, honey and wheat germ. I gave all the info I had to my friend Kristi who had offered to make them for me. She made them and brought them when I went into labor. While they were a winning snack for labor, they didn’t rise to heroic status until a little later: after 32 hours of labor at home and stalled progress, we transferred to the hospital where you’re allowed nothing but ice chips for what is the hardest physical labor of your life. Sadists. So when Del was born four hours later I was FAMISHED! After we’d been moved to our room, I discovered that resourceful Kristi had brought the peanut butter balls along when we’d come to the hospital. Oh happy day! She gave me a pile of them wrapped in foil. While Zach was with Del in the nursery, I ate about 6 of the peanut butter balls in less than two hours!

Once we were home, settling in, I could grab a peanut butter ball while nursing for a one-handed, high energy snack. Or a quick bite at night if I was hungry. Bliss. So here you go: Lifesaving Peanut Butter Energy Balls, ala Mom, via Internet, as made by Kristi and adapted by Katie:

all mixed up

1 cup or entire small jar of all-natural, crunchy peanut butter (all natural to minimize extra sugar and sodium)

1/4 c. honey or agave nectar (more or less, to taste)

1 c powdered milk (if baby is dairy-sensitive, use wheat germ instead)

1 c or so of your favorite granola (I use one that has puffed rice, love the texture of the puffed rice in there)

1 c or so of your favorite dried fruit (mom used raisins, I use dried cranberries and currants)

Mix this all together (and add choco chips or whatever else you want in there) and put in the fridge for a bit. When cool and stiff, roll it into balls of whatever size makes you happy. Bite sized, hand sized, head sized, suit yourself. If you didn’t use the wheat germ in the mix, roll your finished balls in it for a little extra fiber, vitamins and crunch.

rolled to perfection

A few tips:

  • If you roll them in different sizes, you can grab according to need: tasty morsel, filling snack or “I didn’t get any breakfast and lunch isn’t looking good either”.
  • Using powdered milk cuts down on the softness/meltiness because it absorbs some of the moisture and oils. If  you didn’t use, you’ll want the wheat germ coating even though it’s already in the mix, to keep your fingers from getting peanut butter oily when you eat one.
  • “Energy” is a code word for calorie packed. These are healthy but not low-calorie. So if you’re not pregnant, nursing, or running marathons, eat responsibly. If you are pregnant, nursing or running marathons, go nuts.
  • Keep them in the fridge. Technically nothing in them is perishable so you don’t have to refrigerate, but they’re so freaking good you’re going to want a minor barrier between you and them or they’ll get eaten all at once.
  •  Tip o’ the Hat to this blogger, whose recipe most closely resembled my mom’s.


I want you to know the size of the box in no way diminished my enjoyment of this granola.


On getting dressed

On getting dressed.

Awesome. From blogger Anna. 🙂