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Monday, May 16, 2005

OK...Nobody's happy! Are you happy now!

[PG - Parental guidance strongly recommended]

There's an old joke that goes;  What do electric train sets and breasts have in common?  The answer:  They're really for the kids... but dad likes to play with them too.

Now that I've gotten that bit of juvenile humor out of my system, let me tell you about a very unhappy little boy, and how so long as he's unhappy... nobody's ever going to be happy again.

Israel Independence day this year marked the beginning of another sort of independence:  This was the day that Zahava declared her independence from nursing Yonah.  To say that he was not happy about this turn of events would be the worst sort of understatement.

Yonah was actually down to nursing only once or twice a day - first thing in the morning and sometimes right before bedtime, but these time slots were when little Yonah was most emotionally delicate (read: apt to break into heart-breaking, ear-shattering shrieks).

For the past few days Yonah has been lodging formal protests with the umpires each time he has been put to bed without nursing.  And mornings... oh my yes... mornings are something to behold.  Instead of waking up slowly with his usual soft cooing and fifteen minutes of happy gibberish, our angry little rapper goes straight to the toddler equivalent of bellowing 'where's my breakfast, b*tch!'

Like I said... nobody is happy with the current state of affairs.

First off, I'm not equipped to comfort him.   If I try to hold him he angrily pinches my nipples (no fun, let me tell ya)... and if I try offering him his sippy-cup full of milk he slaps it out of my hand, tilts his head back and treats me to his personal rendition of primal scream therapy (picture Charlie Brown screaming with a clear view of his uvula wobbling in the back of his throat).

Zahava isn't in any mood to comfort him.  She has been in agony since tossing the little hooligan out of the milk bar, and each time he screams the front of whatever she is wearing turns wet from leaking milk.  For the past couple of days I've been getting that special look that says, "See these?  You're never coming near these again!  You and Yonah are both sh*t out of luck!!!"

The big kids are two floors above us when the twice-daily festivities begin so they have no first-hand knowledge of the chaos down below.  However, they get the trickle-down effect in the form of two very pissed-off parents who would quickly ground them for life for the most microscopic infraction!

Even Jordan (our usually empathetic black lab mix) is skulking around in a state of shell-shock.  In fact, instead of sleeping in her comfy dog bed in our room she has elected to make herself scarce from our part of the house until such time as the blood-curdling screams cease and Yonah's head stops spinning around.

Also, this may seem petty in light of everyone else's discomfort... but I miss having my quiet early morning writing time before everyone gets up.  I seriously think the local Rooster's Union is going to file a grievance over the unfair competition that Yonah is giving them.

There's a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, though.

This morning was the first time since last Thursday that Yonah has allowed himself to be comforted in the morning before he'd finished singing the entire 'Ring Cycle'.  I'm cautiously optimistic that this means he is starting to turn a corner and make the transition to full fledged little-boyhood (as opposed to manhood when the fascination with breasts returns in earnest).

I'm not sure if there is a typically Israeli way of handling this transition.  For all I know these hardy sabra women simply put blocks of ice in their bras and send their newly-weaned brood out to drain swamps.  But for her part, I think Zahava is being an extraordinarily good sport.  Her folk-remedy of placing green cabbage leaves inside her bra (I sh*t you not) seems to have helped temper some of her physical pain, but I sense that all this discord has taken an emotional toll on my lovely bride. 

After the birth of each of the kids I adhered to a longstanding family tradition (or so her mother told me) of rewarding the exhausted mother with a substantial piece of jewelry.  With all the tears and trauma Zahava has endured over this whole weaning process, I'm starting to think that perhaps some sort of reward might be called for here as well (suggestions are welcome).

In the mean time, nobody is particularly happy.


Posted by David Bogner on May 16, 2005 | Permalink


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Poor everyone... here's hoping that the little boy will come to find something else to 'bitch' about real soon and also find some words to express them with, so as to fully eliminate that 'scream heard cross the ocean'!

Posted by: val | May 16, 2005 4:23:55 PM

Substantial piece of jewelry!?.....My husband is going to read this one. It's a perfect tiem to start saving. Thanks David!

How about that spa your parents went to?

Posted by: Alice | May 16, 2005 4:25:16 PM

My goodness! I hope the little man chills out soon, for the whole family's sake.
I second the day at the spa, as suggested by Alice. Z may need some peace and quiet most of all!

Posted by: Lisa | May 16, 2005 4:36:32 PM

It is another one of those times where suggesting that the angry parties just "suck it up and deal with it" doesn't work so well.

In certain situations I am not above offering the children a bribe. Don't know if he is in a position to appreciate a new toy of some sort, but perhaps.........

Posted by: Jack | May 16, 2005 4:43:59 PM

Heather Dooce mentioned cabbage leaves, too. I wonder why that works?

(And I third the spa trip, if the missus would enjoy such a thing.)

Posted by: Tanya | May 16, 2005 4:58:33 PM

I second the spa idea.

I think Jordan should get extra skritches, too. (But then, I always think dogs should get extra skritches.)

Posted by: Rahel | May 16, 2005 4:59:42 PM

Val... You have no idea what a set of lungs this kid has! I think he is putting off learning to talk because he gets such a dramatic reaction from his screams!!! WOuld you start talking if every time you let out a screech people started throwing toys, food and drink in your direction???

Alice... You noticed we didn't join them at the spa? You may have also noticed that I didn't share any anecdotes about our visit to that spa? There's a good reason for those things. We would have to take a second mortgage to stand in the lobby of this spa! You have to pay for that spa in solid gold ingots! They actually run a credit check on you when you make your reservation!!! Maybe I'll send Zahava to one of the day spas down by the dead sea with one or two of her girlfriends for a day. We'll see.

Lisa... I'll e-mail you my bank details so you can wire in the funds. :-) You're right, though... Zahava definitely deserves a little quiet, grownups-only time.

Jack... Here's the deal: If a kid is old enough to understand the concept of accepting a toy as a bribe, you waited way too long to wean! Same can be said for kids who walk up to mom and use actual words to ask to nurse... too old! The whole reason this is such a hard process is that we have no way of making Yonah understand the reason one of his primary sources of comfort is suddenly being taken away from him.

Tanya... I have no idea about the science behind the cabbage leaves either, but Zahava swears by them. There might be something chemical to it... or it could just be a strong placebo effect. You don't argue with success! As to whether or not Zahava would enjoy a spa experience... I think we can safely say she is probably already packing her gym bag for the trip (after reading all these helpful suggestions!).

Rahel... Somehow I knew if I mentioned Jordan you'd take her side! :-) Oh, OK, I'll give her a skritch for you... but just this once!

Posted by: David | May 16, 2005 5:14:37 PM

Why not send Zahava farther afield than a spa -- let her go back to the States to visit for a short time.
Sonny Boy will see that Eema is missing in action, and the forced weaning will have greater impact.
Zahava and her cabbage-leaf-covered breasts might just very well thank you!

Posted by: Pearl | May 16, 2005 5:24:08 PM

Everyone has their own way of dealing with this trying time and I might be the dissenting voice here. I don't recall how old Yonah is, but it's obvious he's not done with the emotional need for closeness that he associates with breastfeeding. (FWIW-our youngest was 15 months when he finally gave up the boob.)

If Yonah's not ready, but Zahava is and can do it, then spending a few days out of the house might help remove the objects of Yonah's desire. :) It also helps if Dad shows up at those early morning and late evening crying spells. :)

Good Luck, Jim and Jimette!

Posted by: jennifer | May 16, 2005 7:44:58 PM

I started using the "naughty room" with my toddler, something tells me this would not work with your child however:).

Perhaps check this out?


Posted by: shloimy | May 16, 2005 8:01:33 PM

In response to the how-old-is-Yonah question. He is 17.5 months old, and emotionally ready-or not, by my way of thinking when it takes longer for the teeth marks (guess where?!) to disappear from my tender flesh than the actual nursing session THEN IT IS MOST DEFINITELY TIME TO STOP!

Ditto when the child is old enough to actually begin unbuttoning my blouse in public because he is suddenly thirsty or in emotional need.

I was lucky, I guess that the older two pretty much lost interest around 14 months and didn't have such separation anxiety. And while my heart goes out to Yonah, the thought of needing stitches THERE is a bit more than I can handle....

Posted by: zahava | May 16, 2005 8:26:38 PM

I nursed each of my three children for thirteen or fourteen months. I was so ambivalent about weaning my middle child, Adam, that a week after he'd been happily breast-free, I tried to put him back. He gave me an incredulous look and pushed away. Lesson learned. Clearly, *I* was the needy one in this dyad!

I'm surprised that weaning from only two feeds a day, Zahava, is causing you this much pain. Poor you...

I'm also fascinated by the cabbage leaves. I've never heard of that solution, even though I taught prenatal classes for ten years. Bags of frozen peas, crushed strawberries smeared on the breast (who gets to apply and remove??), and straw in the bra (I kid you not!), but not cabbage. I think the theory behind the straw was that once you took it out, you *had* to feel better...

Here's hoping Yonah makes his transition soon, and peace is once again restored! Best wishes!

Posted by: Emma | May 16, 2005 8:55:33 PM

Thanks Emma! :-)

A nurse-practitioner friend of mine told me of the cabbage after I became so horribly engorged when weaning our oldest that I couldn't raise my arms to unhook my own bra (and she was only nursing fr a grand total of 5 minutes a day!)!

For all who are interested -- the power of the cabbage has been explained to me thus: the cool leaves soothe Mom, the strong odor masks the smell of the milk from junior, AND there is actually some chemical thing in the cabbage that tells your body to put a halt on milk production. True or not, I couldn't say, BUT I can attest to the cabbage healing what binding couldn't....

To those uninterested -- you should have slapped your hands over your eyes and chanted BLAH, BLAH, BLAH I CAN'T HEAR OR SEE YOU!!! at the top of your lungs before reading the prior paragraph! :-)

Posted by: zahava | May 16, 2005 9:04:49 PM


Add some mint and sage into your diet and things will clear up quickly.

Posted by: Safranit | May 16, 2005 10:30:23 PM

Gee, Zahava, I didn't know he was BITING! (Did I miss that part or did David skip over it?) YEOUCH! Definitely time to pop the old finger in there with a firm, "No biting allowed!" (so now I'm confused as to who exactly was doing the screaming... ;) )

When our youngest stopped at 15 months, it was Engorgement City as he was still nursing for 20 minutes, 2 times a day. Of course, thankfully, once demand goes down, so does production. But it's got to be the most.uncomfortable.two.weeks.EVER.

Maybe David can start Yonah on that Yak Butter Tea he was just talking about? :->

Posted by: jennifer | May 16, 2005 10:38:19 PM

Hey Dave, THERE's an idea.... yak butter tea! Hmmm... wonder if my friend Yak would have any knowledge on this..????!!!

Posted by: val | May 17, 2005 1:22:10 AM

OK, if he starts crying again, here's what you do: everyone in the house must drink from sippy cups when in Yonah's company. Make lots of yummy sounds. Fight over who gets the best sippy cup. You get the picture. It's the Jedi cup trick.

Posted by: Alice | May 17, 2005 1:52:54 AM

I am unclear why it's an either spa or jewlery choice? May be a pedicure& manicure and go from there.

I think she desereves both and a whole lot more.

Posted by: Marjorie | May 17, 2005 2:04:08 AM

I tried the cabbage leaves but I didn't like walking around with soggy veggies in my bra. Do be careful not to get mastitis though! Not fun at all...
I stopped breastfeeding when my son got his upper teeth, after a couple of bites that made me hit the ceiling that was it. I enjoyed breastfeeding, but I felt SO good when I stopped. Finally I had my body back.
Poor Yonah, he'll get over it though.

Posted by: Naomi | May 17, 2005 3:02:33 AM

Pearl... Just as I intend to send Lisa my bank details so she can wire me some spa money... I'll send you my frequent flyer account info so you can shoot me over some of your extra miles. :-)

I hope I haven't given people the idea that we are people of means! We're not poor by any stretch of the imagination... but we're not jetting off to the Riviera so fast either!

Jennifer... Good sound advice all around. But who are Jim and Jimette??? This kept me up last night!

Shloimy... I'm probably going to regret asking this... but what's a 'naughty room'? Oh, BTW... thanks for the link.

Emma... It looks like Zahava handled the cabbage explanation, but I wanted to say thanks for stopping by. While I'm not particularly surprised that this entry turned into a meeting of the Ya YA Sisterhood (given the subject matter and all), it still warms my hear to see so many women stepping up to share their advice and experience with my wife.

Safranit... Zahava already has fresh mint in her iced tea (and of course Mint Juleps!), but I'm not sure how she feels about sage. Zahava's palette of spices is surprisingly narrow for someone who enjoys cooking as much as she does.

Jennifer... Each of my kids have been getting surreptitious sips of bourbon since they were babies... you really think I wouldn't share Yak butter tea with Yonah if I could get my hands on some???

Val... I've been waiting for that since I posted about the tea. :-)

Alice... Peer pressure and Jedi cup tricks don't work on beings that think they are the the center of the universe.

Marjorie... She's weaning a child... not creating cold fusion! A little perspective is all I'm saying. :-)

Naomi... I can see how a room temperature salad stuffed into one's underwear might have a person feeling less than, um, fresh. But it works for her so I stay out of it. :-) Thanks for the good thoughts.

Posted by: David | May 17, 2005 8:46:06 AM

I swore I'd stop nursing Zoe when she got teeth. Well, don't you know her first two bottom teeth appeared somewhere around 3 months. I was nowhere near ready to stop nursing so I said I'd stop when the top ones came in and she could chomp down. My lovely angel's top two teeth appeared a month, to the day, later at the ripe old age of four months. Again, read above for me not being ready to stop.

She bit me exactly one time. The one time she did, she was maybe about four months and Chuck was there. I nearly hit the roof and he immediately whisked the baby out of the room. He brought her back five minutes later and from that day forward she never bit me again.

I decided to stop nursing her at a year old, but as I'd gone back to work already, she was, like Yonah, nursing only in the morning and at night, and intermittantly on the weekends. She was using sippy cups during the day.

To deal with weaning, Chuck and I went away for three days the day after Zoe's first birthday. By the time we got home three days later I thought I was going to burst with the fullness and pain.

Though Zoe hadn't nursed for three days by now, the minute I walked in the door she wanted me. I went to take a hot shower to hopefully relieve some of the pressure and Chuck took Zoe for a walk. I recall expressing some milk just to relieve a little of the pressure and that helped a little. So did warm, moist compresses (think steaming hot towels draped across your chest.)

She didn't try to nurse from that day forward. I was better in a few days.

A very long-winded comment to say that Zahava, I feel your pain. A few days away (either alone or with David) would do you all some good because if the source isn't there Yonah will figure that out very quickly and might establish a routine without you a little better.

Posted by: beth | May 17, 2005 9:27:53 AM

Beth! I thought I was the only one with kids whose teeth appeared at 3 and 4 months! Both big kids hand opposing chompers by 4 months too! Ari tried only once and rather half-heartedly. Gili was a bit more persistent (he LOVED watching me hit the ceiling when he bit) but learned real quick that if he didn't want to starve that biting was OUT!

Yonah didn't get chompers til about 8 months. Bit only mildly once or twice -- until recently. And let us just say that 16 teeth snapping shut around your boob can be a REAL eye-opener!

Today I actually wasn't in nearly the discomfort of the past few days, so hopefully the worst is over!

A big thanks to all who shared, and an even bigger one to my hubby who wrote about the agony in such a comical way that I CAN actually laugh about it now and don't need to wait a decade to see the humor in all of this!

Posted by: zahava | May 17, 2005 6:57:11 PM

Perhaps it's because I'm of an "older" generation and because I'm American, but I find this a very very sad story. I breastfed my daughter until she was 7 years old. AFter about 4 or 5, it was only two or three times a day. My daughter nursed more as a toddler than she ever did as a baby. I'm a big advocate of child-led weaning! The world-wide age of weaning is 4 yrs. old by the way. Breast milk is the entire nutrition of choice for the first year. It certainly doesn't lose it's biological or nutritive value during toddlerdom, but nursing becomes a source of comfort and closeness as well. Why deny a child this? They're only little for such a short time!!!!! And with regard to the oft-repeated comments that breastfeeding increases IQ, well, my now-18 yr. old is a genius! Started college when she was 11. So I "know" firsthand that it's true. Please reconsider your decision to wean your baby. If you want another child, it's possible to nurse throughout pregnancy (although the milk supply dwindles considerably) and then to tandem nurse the baby and toddler.

Be well,

Posted by: Helene | May 17, 2005 8:14:24 PM


I guess you don't get that nanny show out in Israel. I call it the naughty room, if my kid
acts out she gets a time out. I reserved the guest room as the "naughty room" ( don't want to use a room she is comfortable with like her own).
I find it workd well...I'll kepp het there up to a minute and she understands that I won't
tolerate her behavior but in your case I'm not certain that at such an age it's a good tool

Posted by: shloimy | May 17, 2005 8:37:43 PM

Helene... I appreciate your comment and am impressed with your stats. But I think I can safely speak for my wife when I say "Not effing way"! My mother stopped nursing me at 6 or 7 months and I somehow ended up with a Mensa card in my wallet, so I think we'll take our chances on possibly short-changing our kids. I'm not trying to make light of your comment - I know you are quite sincere - but something makes me very uncomfortable about a 1st grader nursing. I guess I'm just conditioned that way.

Shloimy... For all I know we may get it, but I don't get to watch much TV. Thanks for the explanation, though.

Posted by: David | May 17, 2005 11:05:04 PM

It's funny to read this while I am contemplating when to stop nursing my baby who is seven months younger than yours.
My others stopped on their own shortly after 13months...I just wasn't around for their 'breakfast" for a few days. But somehow even though I am working full-time, this one might not let go so fast.
Goodluck...just make sure if there is an infection, to take care of it asap b/c it %^& hurt

Posted by: ifuncused | May 18, 2005 7:21:18 AM

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