I’m a total lactivist: a “breastfeeding nazi” if you will. There are few things I think are more important that breastfeeding education and when I’m an OBGYN I will make it my mission to ensure that my patients are well informed. Whether it’s a socio-economic thing or simply a result of the type of people I surround myself with it just so happens that all two dozen of the children I take care of have been breastfed. (With only one exception and that is a result of a very serious metabolic disorder.) As a result, I guess I took it for granted how lovely breastfed babies smell. Sounds kinda odd, doesn’t it? Well, if you’ve never smelled an exclusively breastfed baby’s breath you probably don’t know what I’m talking about. But for a full seven and a half months (that’s how long Winifred exclusively breastfed Buddha) Buddha had the loveliest breath imaginable. The three musketeer’s mom calls it “applesauce breath” and it really is: it’s soft and sweet and subtle. Even when he was immediately post-sleep or completely congested, Buddha had the most wonderful breath. So his sweet, gooey baby kisses? Well, they were that much sweeter. Now, this isn’t just a Buddha thing because Aramis was also exclusively breastfed for seven months and he too had delicious breath. Even now, both he and Buddha (who are both still nursing) continue to have lovely breath. Though, not quite to the extent that they did when they were exclusively nursing.

Up until now, this lovely aroma of theirs I totally just chalked up to the fact that they were brand new babies and it makes sense that nature would make babies smell good because really, when they’re tiny and scrawny and ugly and all they do is scream and poop and pee, you kinda need something to make you want to take care of them, otherwise the entire species would have gone extinct by now, right? Well, kinda. I don’t actually know why breastfed babies smell yummy, all I know is that formula fed babies do not. In fact, they straight up stink.

And yes, I’m fully aware that as a lactivist, I’m completely biased against formula however, I think there’s something to this. As if anybody needed any more reasons not to formula feed; here’s another one: formula stinks!

I make no secret about my disdain for baby formula and my contempt for formula companies and the uneducated parents who feed their kids that crap. (Before I’m attacked by all the formula feeders, let me just say that I fully understand that formula can be helpful in some situations and that it’s not entirely evil – just mostly so.) In any event, I think it’s a testament to the amazing parents of the children I take care of that in the past four plus years that I’ve been doing this, I’ve never actually had to mix up baby formula before. It sounds a bit bizarre doesn’t it? A nanny that’s never put together a bottle of formula? The thing is, it never actually occurred to me that I would be expected to know how to do it.

Well, I took care of my neighbor’s ten month old twins on Tuesday and guess what I had to do to? Fix them some formula. The last time I babysat for them, the mom had already had the bottles ready so this time it was all up to me. Well, I knew where the bottles were, I read the directions on the back of the can, I then dutifully scooped three ‘unpacked’ scoops of the nasty stuff into each bottle and then filled it with water to the six oz mark before I put my finger on the nipple and shook them. Woot! For me! I did it.

Only a little while later, after downing the entire thing and then rolling around all over the living floor, Thing 1 decided it would be lovely to spit up all over himself. Now, Buddha had some serious reflux issues until he was about a year old. I’m talking goob everywhere! I honestly don’t know how he got so fat, so fast because he spit up so much, I can’t imagine he had all that much to fully digest. So, basically, goob doesn’t phase me – at all. It’s just another of the lovely bodily functions that I’m so frequently privy too. Except that I’ve never been exposed to formula goob before! And formula spit up is way different that breast milk spit up! Seriously. It’s not really something I had ever thought about before, though it makes perfect sense. See, I’m quite accustomed to breast milk spit up. It’s a bit sour and kinda yucky, but it’s completely sterile and easily washable so whatever, I’m used to it. But formula spit up? Is absolutely fucking disgusting. No, seriously. That shit is gross. And quite frankly, I’m not sure it’s all that worse than the straight up formula. They smell pretty much the same because after they had their bottles, those babies stunk! They reeked of formula. I love to cuddle and that’s partly why I love my job so much; I get paid to cuddle. But I honestly didn’t want to get all that close to these kids because they were stinky little dudes. Yes, I did cuddle and read to them – I’m not completely heartless- but I did so holding my breath.

I don’t know how formula feeding parents do it. I mean, first of all, it’s a hassle. Who has time to deal with cans and powder and water and shaking? Yech. But the smell! Oh, that smell. Just rinsing out those bottles was nearly vomit-inducing. Eww.

Never mind the inimitable qualities of breast milk; the countless health reasons why it’s so incredibly superior to formula. Forget about how much smarter, healthier and better well adjusted breastfed babies are. Immune systems? So what? IQ? Whatever. If there were ever a reason not to formula feed it would be this: the smell. Seriously. That stuff is rank.



Leniency with Buddha’s diet varies from day to day. Sometimes Winifred is very specific about what I’m supposed to feed him. Like “sauteed broccoli, cottage cheese, pear and half a banana.” Other times, she’s more permitting and just indicates colors instead of actual foods. Like “he’s had orange. give him green and yellow.” And then sometimes I’m simply told what he’s not allowed to eat, like “bread, banana, apple sauce, pear, strawberries or oatmeal” and I’m left to choose from among any remaining food items. And then other times she spaces completely and I’m left to guess and hope that what I give him isn’t taboo today.

I was recently left with vague instructions indicating that I “push greens.” No, this is not drug lingo, it’s simply Winifred speak for give him green food to eat.

Rummaging through the fridge I decided that avocado on bread was a quick way to get some carbs and some greens into him. He loves bread and he likes avocado, so it worked out. I also fed him some humus as well as a pear. Overall, just an ordinary meal for little Buddha.

Upon her return, I was asked about Buddha’s lunch. I told her (despite the fact that I had written it all down on the list) and was met with disgust for hadn’t she told me to push greens?

Bewildered, I paused for a moment, trying to figure out if I had suddenly developed color blindness or if she simply hadn’t heard me properly.

Neither. Turns out “avocado doesn’t count because it’s a fruit.”



They say that second siblings are often times the complete opposite of the firstborns. This is true to a certain extent with Buddha and Bunny. Where it is really apparent is in their eating habits. Buddha will eat (or try to eat) anything. I mean, literally anything. Dirt, grass, paper, plastic, metal, dustbunnies, hair, you name it. This is the kid who tried to eat my sock while it was still on my foot. Bunny, on the other hand is a picky eater. But because he’s Bunny and anything but normal, he’s not picky in your typical five year old fashion. I was munching on a bagel, that I had brought from home, one morning and after eyeing it with some curiosity, he asked if he could have a bite. Sure, I said and started to hand him a piece.

“Is it organic?” He asked me, very seriously. Erm, no.
“Never mind then.” He muttered and continued on. This is not an altogether unusual occurrence. Mrs. Winifred is very specific about what she buys. I don’t think there is a single food item in the entire house that is not organic. This is not an exaggeration. She is very particular about what the children eat and when. Both Bunny and Buddha have daily allotments of veggies that they must eat. Bunny has inherited his mother’s zest for quality and health. I was munching on some corn chips one afternoon when I saw Bunny shaking his head at me.
“I don’t think those are very healthy for you. Maybe you should put them away.” He instructed me with total seriousness. I put my corn chips away.
One afternoon, I had picked up some veggie subs from subway and had a small bag of sun chips as well. Mrs. Winifred had given her okay on the chips but after making me read the ingredients on the bag and subsequently finding out that there was a lot of sugar in said chips, Bunny politely refused to eat them.
Another day we were at Starbucks where he was having his treat: a bottle of their organic fruit juice and some organic dried fruit and nuts, when he saw two other little boys around his age sipping some chocolate-y looking drink.
“That’s an adult beverage!” He announced. (Yes, this kid uses the word beverage.)
“Why are they allowed to drink that? It’s not healthy.”
I agreed with him on the health issue but noted that some parents have different rules about treats and maybe they were celebrating a special occasion or something. He nodded and understood but glared daggers at the father of the two children.
Last week Bunny came home with a marshmallow sculpture. And he ate it!
I asked him if he knew that marshmallows are not vegetarian. He nodded.
“Mom told me that already.” He muttered off-handedly and continued chewing.
“And it doesn’t bother you that there is dead animal in that?” I asked, still in complete and total shock.
“Nope. It tastes good.” He responded very matter-of-fact as though I were the most stupid person in the world for not understanding that.




Everytime I think I have him figured out he goes and throws me for a loop. I don’t know whether to be proud of him for making up his own mind or scared that he’s being corrupted by his more mainstream pre-school peers. Either way, he definitely keeps me on my toes.

One of the hazards of being a nanny is finding out (unintentionally of course) about family secrets and dirty laundry. Most of the time I keep this info to myself but I’ve recently stumbled upon something that could be something or could be nothing and I don’t know what do about it. Part of Mrs. Winifred’s (formerly Mrs. Pinochet) extensive neuroses stem, I’m sure, from her incredibly critical family. I’ve only had the displeasure of meeting her sister on a few occasions but from what I’ve garnered from Dr. Doormat and from bits and pieces of conversations is that her family is very intense and harsh. That being said, I should add that in addition to her being a very attractive woman in her early forties (you didn’t hear that from me) she is/was a social worker. Anytime I so much as show up with a frown on my face she makes sure everything is alright at home. On the one hand, I’m touched that she bothers to notice and ask, but on the other hand, it makes for very difficult, tedious and altogether worthless and uncomfortable conversations. I have a shrink, thank you very much, I don’t need to work for one as well. In any event, she likes to be involved and likes to think that she knows what’s going on in my life. (Oh if only she knew.) So when I got back from NY and saw how skinny she was, I chalked it up to the ulcer that she was just diagnosed with. Except that the more I think about it, the more I see some serious signs of some body image issues. Mrs. Winifred is anything but fat. Even when she was nine months pregnant, I probably weighed more than her. And she had a flat belly within weeks of giving birth. But as I was folding laundry the other day, it dawned on me that she’s gone from a size 6/8 to a 2/4 in the past six months or so. Her arms, though always toned are incredibly gaunt looking and the bones in her chest are visible underneath her skin. Her jeans look like they’re about to fall off of her. Even her lycra yoga pants are loose and baggy. As I was thinking about this, I started mentally slapping myself. I’m probably just jealous that she’s lost some weight when I’ve gained some. (Thank you risperdal, thank you! As if the lactation wasn’t bad enough.) I’m probably just projecting right? Except that she spent three hours at the gym this morning and later today when she was reading a fashion magazine she went on a tirade against ‘skinny jeans’ and how nobody except Nicole Richie and the Olsen twins can possibly look good in them. I just nodded and agreed but honestly? She’s probably one of the few people who would look good in them. She’s tiny! Itty bitty. The only thing that’s remotely large on her are her breasts. But she’s nursing! And even then, I have her beat with my 36 Ds. And then another thing clicked. They’re going to visit her family in Philadelphia for Thanksgiving. Her incredibly critical and overly harsh family. And I remembered that the last two times they were going to visit she upped her gym hours as well. So I’m really torn. Is it the result of her ulcer and the subsequently restricted diet or is there more to this weightloss? Could she be on the verge (or in the midst) of an eating disorder? Because either way, she really seems to have no idea about how thin she’s gotten. And there’s no way I can count on Dr. Doormat to take notice. He’s a brilliant doctor but he seems to turn it off when he gets home. This is the same man who didn’t realize his four year old had pink eye until I suspected it and brought it up. So I don’t know what to do. Should I mind my own business and just focus on the kids? They, not her, are my job, afterall. Or should I approach her with my concerns and risk offending her and/or making an ass of myself? Is bringing it up worth the potential fall-out if I’m wrong? Or hell, even if I’m right? I just don’t know.