4 Moms Q&A: breastfeeding, anatomy, Calgon days, and clothes storage

If you have a question you’d like to see answered here on the 4th Thursday of next month, please leave it as a comment on this post so that this super-organized mom will know where to find it at midnight on the 4th Wednesday of next month.

Quit laughing now and read Q&A’s from the other moms:

All done?  Or did you decide to read mine first?

Big Family FAQ

1. Could you write a post about breastfeeding? (Maybe you have in the archives…) If you do it, why? For how long? Joys and difficulties along the way? Have you still been breastfeeding while pregnant?

This is a huge topic, and you’re right: it should be a post in itself, or a series of posts.  But I want to give some quick answers now just to get started.  I breastfeed for a variety of reasons: breastmilk is the ideal food for an infant, created by God for that very purpose.  It’s convenient: always just the right temperature, always in stock, no worries about bottles and formula and sterilizing…just find a quiet corner and a baby, and you have everything you need.  It’s cheap: just eat a healthy diet (which you should do anyway) and drink plenty of water.  It’s good for the mom too, reducing the chance of breast cancer and several other diseases.  And I like my babies; I enjoy spending time with them bonding this way.

I’m exceedingly thankful that I have been able to breastfeed each of my children with very little trouble.  I did have thrush with our 3rd child – cured with plain yogurt applied topically –  and our 9th had some latching problems that caused her to gain slowly at first and caused me great physical pain, a problem solved by $5 nipple shields from Babies R Us.  Tip: They sell them in single packs.  After I congratulated myself for having the presence of mind to catch that fact and buy two, I realized that you can only use them one at a time.  You only need one.  Duh.

Most of my babies have nursed between 12 and 16 months, and to the best of my memory none have ever tasted formula.  We start giving tastes of food around 6 months and as they begin to eat more and more table foods, they gradually nurse less and less.  At some point the balance between breastmilk and solid food shifts, and then I find that I’m pregnant.

Eventually the baby and I, who have much in common when it comes to memory power, simply forget to nurse, and weaning is accomplished.  Yes, 7 out of 9 times have been just that simple.  There are certain advantages to having no short term memory.

2. One thing I’ve been wondering, is how you have the “anatomy” discussion now that you have added boys to your family. I have 3 young girls (under 5), so we haven’t had to have the boy / girl anatomy talk – yet.

We don’t really have The Anatomy Discussion.  We’re far more casual about the subject.  Everyone changes diapers in our house, and the little ones often take baths together.  We don’t necessarily use all the correct anatomical terms, but we all know that some of us have “girl stuff” and some of us have “boy stuff,” and we don’t object to the anatomical terms unless they’re being used for vulgar humor.

We take a similar approach to the birds and the bees.  We breed dogs; we own chickens; we used to breed gerbils as snake food and rabbits as pets; and hubby and I smooch freely in front of the kids.  Our kids have a pretty good idea of how reproduction takes place, and they understand (on their various levels) that sex is a great blessing and a lot of fun – inside marriage.  They don’t know or need to know all the details, but sex is not a taboo topic and we answer questions freely as they arise.

3.  My children are 3.5, 2 and almost 6 mos.  Today they were such a joy that they are at nap and I actually miss them.  But on Monday, I actually broke down and called my husband to come home early and rescue me, something I have never done, not even postpartum.  Please tell me this is normal?!

That sounds perfectly normal to me.  If your kids don’t make you crazy sometimes, something is wrong.

You may think I’m kidding, but I really do think that God uses children in a big way for our own personal sanctification, smoothing our rough spots and helping us to see our flaws, weaknesses, and sins.  Those lessons are never easy.

Besides, kids are sinners just like the rest of us.  If it’s not your own sin driving you batty, it’s theirs.

4. Clothing storage!  How do you store clothes for all of your kids?  What about socks and underwear?  PJ’s?  I have six kids so far, and storing these things is starting to become more of an issue (even more so for the boys).  Do you limit how much they have?  Special methods to organizing these things?

You do not want to take my advice on clothes storage, unless I’m advising you not to do it my way.  My way involves rubbermaid tubs of clothes stored under the house.  They are labelled by size, and it seems like a good system on the surface.  The main problem is that we forget we have them and we buy what we need at a thrift store instead.  Not very thrifty, is it?

Then a small child decides that the shelves under the house look like a fun place to climb, and the tubs are unceremoniously dumped to the ground where all the clothes spill out.  The story doesn’t end there: we don’t notice the spilled clothes until 3 weeks later, by which time they have been rained on, chewed by puppies, and have several eggs stashed in them because apparently they are more comfy than the nesting boxes in the chicken coop.

See?  Don’t store clothes my way.  That’s my advice.  I’d love to hear yours.

Oh, wait.  I just reread the question, and you want to know about the stuff we’re actually using daily, not the stuff that’s being stored for another time.  Um, oops.  How about if we store your question for another time?  In a rubbermaid container on the shelves under my house?

Upcoming topics to be tackled by the 4 Moms:

  • Dec. 30 –  Teaching children to do their chores:  If you’re doing it all yourself, then you missed your promotion.


  1. How do you manage to look after your own health while looking after a large family and staying within a tight budget. I have 4 children between 7 and 1 yo and am having health issues from neglecting myself for too long. How do you do it?

  2. How do you take such great photos? Not the posed photos but the ones of the kids in action – playing, cooking, making faces, etc. Of course all the photos are great, but I can’t seem to get the right light and focus with my natural setting photos. I assume you have had loads of practice and could share a few tips. (and help me save money on professional photos).

  3. Mrs. Heier says:

    I would love to know what type of vehicle everyone drives, and what everyone has driven as their family has grown. We have four children, all still in car seats, and our minivan is absolutely FULL.

  4. What’s your take on dealing with bickering, fighting children? Some days I want to pull out my hair at the cycle of pester…scream…pester…scream…etc. That the oldest two get into. They can play wonderfully together at times, and then at other times just seem to spend all day getting under each other’s skin. How do you maintain (relative) peace and keep the bickering to a minimum?

  5. I have six daughters and would be very interested to know how you handle contention between daughters. How do you handle bossiness? Or do you even have that problem???

  6. I haven’t commented much, yet, (I don’t usually have two hands for typing since I like to peruse blogs while nursing!) but I’ve greatly enjoyed your blog. MANY of your posts have been very encouraging and I’d love to have this question answered: As a couple who have decided to allow God to do your family planning, do you ever have trouble relating to other Christian couples who do not share this vision? We don’t regularly fellowship with anyone who shares this vision and it breaks my heart to hear the way many Christian women talk about children as though they’re such a great burden that they couldn’t possibly allow God to plan their family, etc. For instance, last week I was with a group of women and one was saying with horror that if her husband hadn’t been “fixed” (don’t know what was wrong with him!) they would have six children right now instead of four! Everyone else in the group is”done” having children, too, and I often feel that I would like to share the joy of remaining open to pregnancy but I don’t know how without sounding “holier than thou” or judgmental of their choice. Is it best to just keep your mouth shut, smile and let your life speak? We only have three, at this point, under the age of 5 so it isn’t immediately apparent what our birth control philosophy is. Anyway, I hope that made sense and wasn’t too long. I look forward to your response! Thanks!

  7. Funny…well, not really… I was just about to leave a comment saying almost EXACTLY the same thing as Sarah, above! I don’t know if she will read this, but she can be ancouraged that the same thing happened to me. Kim, what a blessing it is that you are able to breast feed and that, like you said, “it is always in supply”! I had to stop nursing earlier with each of my children do to a poor supply and I was starving my poor babies! I just had our 4th (she is only 3 weeks old now) and sadly, I had to switch to formula at only 2 weeks old! It broke my heart, but it turned out to be the best for everyone. (Same sitcho as above… weak suck, combined with my poor production equaled starving baby!) Anyhoo, all that to say, I’m glad you are able to breast feed and that you don’t take it forgranted!

  8. Kim,
    It is terrific you have had such success with breastfeeding. I am also a bit jealous. It is a topic close to my heart but one that didn’t work out how I had planned.

    I was raised in a breastfeeding loving family. Formula was viewed as poison, and I myself was breastfed until I was 2. So before my baby was born I only assumed I would breastfeed her for at least a year.

    As soon as my baby was born I began breastfeeding. It was hard and she didn’t take to it so well. I thought we had it figured out within a week. I guess her constant nursing and screaming when not nursing should have been my first clue something was not right. After three weight checks within a week, and each one showing the baby losing more and more weight I immediately met with a lactation consultant.

    Long story short, my baby had a very weak suck and I wasn’t producing more than a ounce a day. My girl was starving…no wonder she was nursing and crying around the clock.

    I ended up spending the next two months taking all kinds of supplements, nursing every two hours, then supplementing with formula, them pumping. I can’t believe I kept up this routine for two months. On top of this routine I practiced getting my baby to suck harder.

    In the end I never produced much more than an ounce, and the lactation consultant (who was also a la leche league leader) was stumped.

    I mourned (lots of tears) my inability to nurse, then gave up and went solely to formula.

    I did love the time I nursed, it is an amazing bonding experience. And the experience taught be how to continue that experience to bottle feeding (the same eye contact, loads of kisses, and all that other fun stuff).

    Sorry to take up so much comment space, but it is my long winded way of giving moral support to women reading that are having a hard time with nursing, and a cheer to those that work hard to nurse as much as you can-nursing mothers (no matter how long you can nurse) are rock stars in my eyes!

  9. I’d love to see you elaborate on the nitty-gritty of how having all of your kids in one room actually works. For instance, do you have any little ones who wake up much earlier than the others? And how to do get them (especially young toddlers) to stay quiet so as not to wake their siblings in the morning? Are they allowed to leave the room as soon as they get up, or is there a certain time they need to wait for? What age does the baby move into the big kids’ room? etc….

  10. Question for a future post:
    How do you manage to use the bathroom?!?
    I’m having a hard time just sneaking away for the one single minute it would take me to use the restroom and then I get frustrated and irritated because for pity’s sake I just need to use the bathroom and I keep getting called away to take care of needs even more urgent than my own.

    Part of the problem is that I only have littles, and the littlest littles is extremely mobile, but not yet well-trained enough to be trusted for that single minute. Somewhat asking this question tongue in cheek, and don’t worry too much about me, so far I’ve managed to take care of things before a true emergency arises, but I thought you might have some tips to make my life a little less frustrating. 🙂

  11. I have bookmarked your post on getting your babies to sleep through the night by 7 weeks or so. I was wondering if you could do a more in depth post on how to go about that? Or what worked for you. I’m having my first child sometime in the next three weeks, and would love to gain some perspective on how to get my son sleeping longer stretches sooner. 🙂 I’m the only one in my family to breastfeed, so they’ve really been of no help with this. 🙂

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