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Issue 3 (Fall 2006): Cover Issue 3 (Fall 2006) Return to table of contents: Issue 3 (Fall 2006) View cover story (banana bridge): Issue 3 (Fall 2006) View cover story (food styling): Issue 3 (Fall 2006)
PROOF: Issue 3 (pp. 40-41)

PROOF: Issue 3 (pp. 42-43)

food issue special · Health & science
Got Milk?

Breast-feeding is natural, healthy, sexy even—except when it’s not, explains one who knows. Here’s what your mother never told you.

By Alexandra Shelley

Illustration by Linda Zacks


Excerpt: To me my 5-day-old daughter looked pleasantly swarthy. And why not? She was the product of two darkish Jews, although at 4 pounds 8 ounces and with that nut-brown skin, she looked more like a product of Jimmy Carter. But something didn’t look right to the hired expert who coached us through that first week of parenthood. Our doula held the baby up to the picture window, then pried open her eyelids to look at the whites. “I think she might have Billy Reuben,” she said. Who? ¶By that night my baby had been admitted to St. Vincent’s Hospital on the verge of dangerously high levels of bilirubin and jaundice. The cause? Me. My goddamn breasts, which for 43 years had been nothing but decorative and now were failing to perform the very function for which they were created. My baby was malnourished because the most natural process in the mammalian world, the thing that distinguishes us as a class, had somehow gone awry. . . .

About the writer: Alexandra Shelley is a New York–based book editor. She also teaches writing at the New School and is this magazine’s fiction editor. Her short story “Acquired Characteristics” appeared in Proof No. 2.


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