Nursing Mom’s Food For Thoughts

12 – 15 years ago the term BREASTFEEDING was not a cool word mothers want to associate themselves with, here in Malaysia. It simply was NOT chic to say you nurse your baby. In fact, I started breastfeeding feeling dejected because the nurse at the hospital from where I gave birth to my first son, Cheeky Koko, now 12, took one mean glance at the miserable 1 oz breast milk I managed to pump after hoarding the hospital pump for 2.5 hours at Day 4 postnatal (we have readmitted to treat Cheeky koko’s jaundice) and declared me a non-productive failure.

At home most visiting relatives told me I was starving my baby because he was crying to be fed every one to two hours. “He must be hungry because you don’t have enough milk!” was the most common comments because they got used to seeing placid, gentle babies who were formula fed and slept through 3 to 4 hours per stretch of nap time.

If there was only one good thing about me, it must be that I was courageous (and rebellious) in my love for my baby enough to prove them wrong. I embarked on a journey buying just about every nursing books on the book shelf and reading up just about every breastfeeding website information there were to know on what to do and how to do it right. Once I mastered the arts and loving every minute of it, I decided to share the knowledge with all the new breastfeeding moms out there who felt the failure as I did. With a writer friend we started a breastfeeding support forum that went on to be one of the most vocal groups to advocate nursing in Malaysia. From then I have been asked to visit some new moms we got to know during their first days in the journey to show them how to latch on right and basically give them the emotional support they need as they learn to give the best nature has intended to their babies.

Baby B

Baby B in action… Nutritional needs of a mom is an important aspect of the breastfeeding journey, especially when one nurses beyond the first year.

Some moms are a natural when it comes to breastfeeding their newborns and their babies come naturally adapted to “working” at this beautiful act with just the perfect latch and calm personality and without what is commonly known as the newborn tongue cut, or feeling too drowsy to nurse and etc, which could frustrate and make a new mom feels easily tired out at even trying further.

While I am no longer able to contribute in the online group due to my work commitment, I have continued to encourage friends, relatives, colleagues to trust in their maternal ability to nurse naturally in the last 7-8 years. Something that I always observe that is a major hurdle to breastfeeding among Asian moms is how traditional values can crash with the basic dietary needs of a nursing mom.

When I still had the loving support of my mother in law (who now resides in Heaven), she would gently and lovingly remind me not to drink too much plain cold water because I was supposed to be in confinement. Water is too “cold” for a new mom. But because I was breastfeeding, I was guzzling down 3.5L water everyday! I felt so thirsty I swear I could drink up a whole water tank! And that was on top of the 2L or so of the sweet red dates soups that I drank daily. The only thing I didn’t drink was those supplementary wines like what most moms would do because I just couldn’t take its bitter taste.

As I am also very Westernised in my health approach (thanks to my own mom who worked close to 30 years in the health field), I believe that there are certain health benefits to proper dietary supplementation for nursing mothers. It is in fact well-documented in the scientific literature that a mother’s diet (and her overall nutritional status) can influence the vitamin, mineral, and the essential fatty acid (EPA and DHA) composition of her breast milk, all of which impacts the overall nutritional quality of the breast milk, and ultimately the overall health of the breastfed infant.

In my case, I continued to take my pregnant multivitamins, and on alternate days, supplemented with colostrum supplement (a year after giving birth), fish oil, organic spirulina and milk alternative such as organic oat milk. And when I got sick, I took antioxidant supplements to get well faster and naturally.

Of course, all mothers intending to nurse should always consult with their own doctors about supplementing their own nutritional needs. Special thanks to Seven Seas Malaysia for sharing with me these findings when I told them that I was going to write an entry about the importance of eating well for nursing mothers:

1. Journal Title: Fatty acid composition in maternal milk and plasma during supplementation with cod liver oil

Cod liver oil influences the amount of essential fatty acids in mothers’ breast milk. Supplementation of lactating mothers with even small amounts of cod liver oil promotes increased DHA concentration in breast milk. Also, the amount of EPA in breast milk increased in all the supplemented groups.

2. Journal Title: The effect of maternal supplementation with linoleic and gamma-linolenic acids on the fat composition and content of human milk: a placebo-controlled trial.

Total fat content and therefore total energy content and the content of essential fatty acids (EFAs) in milk are known to decline with prolonged breast feeding. In a placebo-controlled study a variety of evening primrose oil rich in linoleic and gamma-linolenic acids, or a matching placebo were given to 39 women for a period of 8 months starting between the 2nd and 6th months of lactation. Total fat and EFA contents of the milk declined in the placebo group but rose in the primrose oil supplemented group. A surprisingly high proportion of the supplemented dietary fatty acids could be accounted for by appearance in the milk.

3. Journal Title: A randomized controlled trial of the effect of fish oil supplementation in late pregnancy and early lactation on the n-3 fatty acid content in human breast milk.

Dietary supplementation from week 30 of gestation and onward more than tripled the LCPUFA content in early breast milk; supplementation limited to pregnancy only was much less effective.

4. Journal Title: Antioxidant capacity of human milk

Studies have reported the effect of maternal dietary vitamin intakes and vitamin supplementation on human milk, showing that higher intakes results in a higher concentration of the respective vitamin in milk.

Because I am a working mother who eats out a lot, I don’t always have the convenience and much choice in choosing to eat healthy food always, supplement was also a necessity for my own well-being.

It’s also important to note that besides supplementing, a nursing mom must clock in sufficient good-quality sleep, especially because being a mother can be such a tiring and stressful job. In order to nurse well, do keep yourself hydrated sufficiently – think of your body as the ultimate milk machine, you just need to feed it well with the right ingredients such as water, protein, vitamins, fruits, vegetables, add in good emotional well-being and a good night rest, pretty much nothing else can defeat you!

Despite the initial doubts and hurdles, I went on to nurse all three kids spanning the last 12 years, each baby for 2 to 2.5 years of extended breastfeeding. At the end of the day, I reckon I couldn’t have done it all without the most important ingredients of all — the tremendous love and support I got from Daddy Joe, my mom and also my sister in law, Cathy.

May you believe in what you are capable of as a mother and do it fearlessly anyway and may you live each moment count. Happy breastfeeding, moomies!

Breastfeeding My Toddler

It is 20 months and still counting for me as I continue to breastfeed Baby B in this motherhood journey without supplementing any other types of milk or formula. Every evening as I prop him up on my lap and as we both immerse in the deep bond of love through breastfeeding, I am grateful for the privilege to be able to continue nursing him into a healthy toddler.

There are many different reactions whenever someone hears of my extended nursing story and testimony. The unimpressed ones often glance down to my chest level as if determining if the two humble abodes hanging in front of me can really hold enough milk to nurture my Baby B who is quite chubby.

The doubtful ones think that I must been so overworked that I am getting senile – May be I have forgotten that I secretly mixed formula with breast milk for my 3 kids when they were a baby. The rationale is that since I am a Chinese, it’s impossible that I even have mammary glands large enough to produce sufficient milk.

But nope, I did exclusive breastfeeding even with my humble Asian-sized milk factories and raised up three kids nursing exclusively for 6 months and thereafter continued on until they turned two to two-and-a-half. A decade ago, when I was still nursing Cheeky Koko when he reached 19 months old, a distant relative told me that although she thought nursing was a good deed, I might risk raising up an overly clingy mommy’s boy.

That one can make such comment only shows how ill-informed so many people in our society are about breastfeeding. Mothers who have been in the local nursing scene spanning over the last decade like me have witnessed that sadly, breastfeeding has only just begun to catch its fire in Malaysia about 10 to 12 years ago. Ever since then there has been a mushrooming effect on online and traditional stores selling breastfeeding related merchandise. Suddenly hospitals compete in putting up posters about being breastfeeding friendly. Sweet-looking nursing room for breastfeeding moms swiftly become one of the top priorities for shopping malls.

But in overseas, the systematic approach of promoting breastfeeding from the first days well into the baby’s first year and beyond have long been established and practiced. Their healthcare authorities recognise that continued breastfeeding is good for the health and welfare of both the mother and child. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics is now encouraging mothers to breastfeed at least one year and then for as long after as the mother and baby desire. And UNICEF has long encouraged breastfeeding for two years and longer.

Breast milk is, after all, milk. If we have never questioned about parental choice of continuing to feed their baby with cow’s milk, goat’s milk, formula, oat’s milk, soya or any other types of milk, why then is there such a big hooha over a child who is still being fed with the best milk nature has intended for him?

Last weekend, such views that nursing a child in the public is somewhat ‘weird’ and that nursing a toddler beyond the first few months of life is just socially unacceptable have led to a total of 450 local mothers rally for normalising breastfeeding in Malaysia. The event was also included into The Malaysian Book of Records as having the largest gathering of mothers nursing their babies simultaneously. The breastfeeding landscape is finally shaking here in this country!

The question is why rush mothers to stop breastfeeding beyond the first year? Even after six months, breast milk still contains staple source of nutrients such as protein, fat, and other nutritionally important health elements which babies and children need. Breast milk has also been proven to contain immunologic factors that help protect the child well after he has turned two.

Some research data also shows that since children older than a year are exposed to more infections than young babies, the immune factors and compositions in breast milk will cleverly self-adjust biologically to suit the nutritional needs of an older nursing toddler. In other words, there are simply greater amounts of immune factors present in the breast milk in the second year of life. Plus, breast milk still contains special growth factors that help the immune system to mature, and which help the other organs such as the brain and gut of a child to develop and mature.

Nursing is also a source of comfort and a place of refuge from the big scary world for the child. It is the perfect cure for all sorts of emotional tantrums, growing pain, stress and potential meltdowns for the toddlers.

The health benefits of extended breastfeeding aren’t just for the wee ones either. Working moms who continue to breastfeed return to work with less needs for emergency leave to care for their little ones because their babies develop fewer illnesses and are healthier overall. Studies also show reduced risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes, and heart disease for nursing moms, not to mention the great calorie count they continue to lose effortlessly (some 300 – 700 calorie per day) when breastfeeding beyond the first year.

Nursing Baby B is rewarding to both of us and so, why stop?

Breastfeeding Baby B is rewarding to both of us and so, why stop.

The more curious ones often ask if there might even be a moment that I felt overwhelmed with the crazy combination of full time work and breastfeeding. I often say, yes I do, but really, I am just overwhelmed with the two-way love I enjoy from breastfeeding my toddler. Nursing helps me wind down after a crazy day at work, learn to slow down and focus on him alone and nothing else. Whenever I nurse Baby B cradling him in my arms, stroke his soft hair and smile into his playful eyes, I’m savoring every special moment of that motherhood that I know will be gone all too soon.

When will I ever slow down? I guess I’d be ready when he is, but for now, we are just too happy to carry on.

In conjunction with August being a Breastfeeding Awareness Month, let’s toast to better awareness and more support for extended nursing here in Malaysia!

Milk Donation


Still on the topic of breastfeeding, well, I saw a video on China Mother’s Milk Bank from Yahoo a month ago, as the link below:

According to the news, here’s what’s happening in China now:

The first mother’s milk bank in mainland China has opened in Guangzhou. It is starting out with four rooms and 80 mothers donating milk. The southern city has a population of more than 12 million. But the two founders at the Maternity and Childcare Hospital say new callers have been eager to give, and the response is more than they expected.

One donor said she was motivated by the sick babies she learned about on television, who she felt sorry for. China was struck by a terrifying food scare in 2008 when parents feared for their babies’ lives.

At least six infants died and 300,000 fell ill from drinking store-bought milk laced with the industrial chemical melamine. Beijing has tried to reassure people that milk powder and dairy products in China are now safe and rigorously tested.

However, lax regulatory enforcement is still a problem. Demand for foreign milk powder is high. Animal milk production in China falls far below demand. A cow there produces one third the milk of an average Western cow.

In 2010, China imported 550,000 tonnes of powdered milk, and today half its needs. Ten years ago, most of the country’s dairy operations had ten cows or fewer. Now, well over half of them are much bigger, having been grouped together into modern cooperatives for efficiencies of scale, hygiene and quality control.

Scandals shook consumer confidence in Chinese-made baby products and led to shortages of powdered milk in Hong Kong and Australia as people bought boxes to export to China. Some British stores have rationed sales after Chinese visitors and bulk buyers cleared their shelves of baby milk to send to China.

The rise of the middle-class Chinese working mother has greatly increased sales of baby milk in the world’s most populous country. Paediatrician Liu Xihong said there are relatively few breast-feeding mothers in China, and that another problem is she found just eight percent of mothers would agree to let their child feed on another mother’s milk – rather than formula.

The UN Children’s Fund said fewer than one in three Chinese under-six-month-old is breastfed.

Hmmm… Wonder if Malaysia would ever set up a milk bank as a reliable bio-nutrition source to help ailing babies and kids in the paediatric wards fight off diseases and speed up healing and if we did have one, how many moms would sign up as donors and how many moms would be willing to accept milk donations for their babies.

I still remember when I was breastfeeding Cheeky Koko a decade ago, I was part of a group of weekly mama milk donors for a little boy who was undergoing chemotherapy for paediatric leukaemia. By God’s grace, he survived the cancer and after the treatment, did so exceedingly well in terms of healing and growing up. Like donating blood, milk donation does have its life-saving merits, in combination with other medical treatment.

Of course, it boils down to raising the breastfeeding rate and acceptance level amongst Malaysian new moms first. May we one day be a land overflowing with precious mama milk, eh!

photo credit: <a href=””>found_drama</a> via <a href=””>photopin> <a href=””>cc</a>

Breastfeeding Tips for New Mom

Congratulations, you are expecting or have just delivered your baby and decided that you prefer to exclusively breastfeed your baby. I am not going to share why I choose to breastfeed here, because I already posted about my passion for nursing at

I get asked many times by mommy friends on how to breastfeed successfully. I am not a breastfeeding guru nor a lactation consultant, so I am just going to share about getting breastfeeding on to the right start from day one based on my own breastfeeding experience with my 3 kids, all of whom were and one is still being nursed for a minimum of 24 months. For more information, do check on websites like or or breastfeeding books such as The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding or Nursing Mother, Working Mother.

To starts off, let’s debunk some myths about breastfeeding that I get asked by some friends all these years:

1)      The size of your milk factory does NOT matter. Human milk is produced in tiny milk sacs called Alveoli and stored in tiny network of Milk Ducts. So it doesn’t matter if you are an A cup or a D cup, you can breastfeed on either size.

2)      Breastfeeding may not come naturally for some. For me, nursing the first baby was a whole lot of tears for a good six weeks with engorgement, wrong latching position and cracked nipple (ouch). I thought I would fare better with baby no. 2 but I had the same excruciating pain for a good five weeks. And with baby no.3, I am glad that though I experienced the same discomfort and pain, it was for only 4.5 weeks. So it may not be poster-bliss for some, but the key to successful nursing is to make sure the latch on is correct, find your most comfortable nursing position, persevere and also try to work on the issues with a lot of reading and TLC support from family and husband.

3)      The early bird gets the worms. It means the earlier you start nursing the more successful your nursing journey will be. Tell the midwives or your doctor that you intend to breastfeed your newborn right after birth or within the first few hours of birth. Yes it does feel awkward like your newborn is not sucking anything off your breast that has not become full yet but during the first few days after birth, your baby will be consuming tiny amount of yellowish, creamy and rich substance that is super good for them called Colostrum.

4)      Colostrum is not the tsunami of a milk supply. I have not tried to pump colostrum to see how little there is but most websites and books will tell you that it comes in very tiny precious amount per feed, about a teaspoon at most. So you are going “what, my newborn is going to starve, holy cow!’ which is a perfectly normal reaction but calm down, your newborn has a stomach diameter the size of a teaspoons too so it is definitely enough for her.

5)      Breast Milk is somewhat like fashion designers —- they won’t show up until the grand-finale. Anytime between day three to within a week after birth, this precious golden essence will turn into whitish human milk whence you will experience fuller breasts (which is still rich with colostrum substance) for the baby (and all moms say with a sigh of relief, “finally!”) and some of you may experience temporary discomfort called breast engorgement.

6)      Breastfeeding works on demand and supply principle, like simple economy. So to get the supply established, there must be a healthy demand. This means that to mentally and physically prepare yourself to exclusively nurse your baby, don’t go out and get the can of formula yet, as you need to feed on demand especially during the first 6 months of your baby’s life. Go Google more but the research will tell you that the act of nursing frequently to ‘empty’ your breasts sort of send brain signals to get these good (hormone) guys called Prolactin and FIL (no, it’s not father in law) to produce more milk for the baby.

7)      You will feel like you don’t have enough milk because your newborn keeps on crying and demanding to be breastfed. Come on mama, your baby will not be able to communicate by talking so he will be crying a lot (and I mean, really a lot) to tell you that he is sleepy, hungry, or just pooped and will also cry to tell you also that he is unfamiliar with all these external stimulations (such as all those noises and lights that can feels a bit overwhelming to a newborn as compared to when he was in your cosy womb). As for him constantly demanding to breastfeed is a beautiful instinct to help regulate and bring up your milk supply over the next few months. Personally, I was breastfeeding every one to two hourly during the first two months (so yes, it is NORMAL during the newborn phase to feel like you are ALWAYS nursing though I thought I was so sleep deprived I must have turned ABNORMAL to imagine myself as a milk machine in a pink pyjamas).

8)      Mix feeding with formula. Let me stress that I am not anti-formula –feeding due to whatever reasons, personally or medically because I firmly believe love comes from the heart, and feeding is only one of the nurturing acts that a mom encompasses. It’s proven, however, that if you are a die-hard fan of breastfeeding then let’s not give in to the temptation of mixed feeding from day one. You may want to start that only if you have established your milk supply and need to get back to work after maternity leave and your new work place is not mom-friendly. Perhaps you have supply issues and after consulting your doctor or lactation consultant and taken some remedies, your supply just isn’t sufficient for your baby. It could also be considered when your baby have started solid and you plan to scale down breastfeeding to prepare for gradual weaning. In normal healthy breastfeeding, once you start mixed feeding, your breasts may have mixed feelings about not being able to produce as much milk as before (Oh love my rhyming!)

By the way, happy mother’s day to all you great moms out there. To my own Mom who means the world to me and who inspires me in every way and stood by my decision to breastfeed all of my kids, I just want to say, you are awesome, Mom.

More posts coming in the near future about pumping. Happy breastfeeding, peeps!


Moo ... Moo...

PIcture courtesy of

Moo … Moo…
PIcture courtesy of

I stood in front of the two brightly decorated nursing rooms inside Isetan with baby B screaming “nan-nan, nan-nan” (Baby Lingo for Mama’s Milk) ever so loudly it sounded like a medical emergency from one of the ER episodes!

It was probably only a quick 5-minute wait, but when one is straining to carry a 14 months old babbling baby the generous weight of a big pack of Thai Fragrant Rice on one hand, while clutching on to 2 shopping bags, a baby bag and her handbag on the other, it is entirely a balancing act that only an ingenious mom can manage, such as your truly.

Moments later, a young mother came out from the baby room carrying her adorable sleeping infant in her arms and gave me a warm and understanding nod accompanied by a sweet smile that only a nursing mom would exchange with another fellow nursing mom, as if sealing our sacred ring of Nursing Fellowship and affirmation for one another for choosing to breastfeed our babies despite the odds and pressures of modern days.

All mothers are great and I have had family members or friends who choose to breastfeed only for the first few months and some do not breastfeed at all and with all due respect, I think it is as much a personal choice as the preference for coffee versus tea. You are still a loving mother even if you have had no choice but to go for formula for your cutie pie.

But it is no secret that I am extremely passionate about breastfeeding.bfd1

 I believe that breastfeeding is nature’s way of extending protection for an infant beyond her nine months inside the mother’s womb. Apart from the protective colostrum, its superior and ever-changing nutrient tailored for human infants cannot be completely duplicated by any infant formulas or cow milk. All these goodness in the mama’s milk have the added advantage of being able to protect babies from contracting certain serious diseases and allergies through their lifetime.

As a working mother, the ability to nurse all three of my kids from the first day all the way through until they were at least the age of two has been a comforting thought during those occasions when I have had to put in the extra hours at work due to my demanding job.

In that sense, when I was expressing milk in the office, I was assured of the ability to nourish her, so that she continued to receive the benefits of antibodies in the expressed breast milk the next day during the day time when I was away at work.

When we were united again at the end of the day, I would happily nurse my baby away from the prying world in our favourite nursing corner. It was our special time together to catch up on the lost time and I cherished those beautiful sacred moments of serenity.

In the exclusive 30 minutes of nursing nothing else seemed matter when the two of us reconnected through an unspoken act of love when the baby would nurse on hungrily as I hum to him or her a song or two, and when her hunger has been satisfied, she would sometimes look up at my face and lovingly touched and twirled my hair with her chubby fingers and sometimes sneaked in a sweet baby smile as I tickled her oh-so-cute little feet.

The only little inconvenience I get from committing myself to nursing is whenever I travel for work sans the baby. Imagine I would excuse myself from lunch or dinner or party and hide in a store room or a baby’s room and pump away few times a day and bring back one full chiller box of expressed milk from a five days business trip!

I still get mixed reactions from people whenever I share that I plan to breastfeed baby B until he turns at least two years old or even beyond that. To me, mama milk is the perfect, most natural food for the baby and the act of breastfeeding the baby has helped sooth away the many bumps and negativity endured from the world for both the mama and her happiest little people.

Yes I get the stares whenever I walked out of a nursing room. Instead of a young infant, I came out with a walking and babbling toddler. Oh bother, this is my moo-therhood and I shall be waxing lyrical about breastfeeding and will carry on till the cows come home. Mooo….

For more tender loving reminders of why breast milk is beyond awesome, do check out this website which had been my source of inspiration through the years:





Bringing Up Cheeky Koko

My mind flashed back to eight years back. I sat half exhausted in the hospital’s labour room watching a proud Daddy Joe who was walking on cloud nine followed the nurse to clean up our first newborn, Cheeky Koko. “He has very long fingers like you and has lips as big as yours!” the elated father declared. It dawned on me that motherhood was for real for me. I mean, a baby boy just came out of me, what big feat. I didn’t know then, the journey of raising up a boy would be quite different than what I was used to being a girl, and it could be entirely quite a quest to get it right in being a mother to a boy.

One night, my newborn baby Cheeky Koko just seemed particularly restless and cried non-stop after hours of nursing. I was feeling weary staying up all night to care for my baby and just then, I found my baby flashing his first big smile at me and I stopped right there, startled.

God must have had a way of giving us hope through our baby and that very same spark of life has over the last eight years evolved into this twinkling, funny, lively sparks that now run through Cheeky Koko. Oh, he has turned our world upside down, literally. Ain’t talking about the love he has brought into our life, although that came concurrently as certain as the sun would rise over the horizon every morning.

It started with a plastic child chair. It never saw its purpose of existence being turned upside down from the moment it set foot in our home. Then there was the Little Tikes toy truck that got tumped over. You would turn it right for him but Cheeky Koko would only play on it for one minute before he turned it over to set its roof on the floor while the wheels faced the sky. The same fate befell our side table, his feeding chair and an Ikea child table. Everything turned turtle everyday to the point that we suspected gravity lost its control in our home.

Going to a mall became just as challenging. One day, this toddler boy had gotten himself walked from one end of Mid Valley to the other, within the short few seconds we bent down to tend to his baby sister in the stroller. Another time when I was shopping for clothes, he locked himself in the fitting room. The brave shop assistant went to his rescue by climbing over with a ladder to unlock the roofless room. The two-years-old walked out with a cheeky grin. I received dozens of books on bringing up and disciplining boys as Christmas gifts those early years. Now I know why.

It wasn’t just a one-way street in this special mother and son bond though. When he was three, he declared innocently that, “mama I love you so much until the sun rises, the sky becomes a ray of rainbow lights, and even Ultraman and all the aliens would come out to fight, and all the rocket ships went kaboom”. Sweet, with a tinge of imagination only boys have. LOL.

He’s always sunny side up which is extremely useful when life becomes a little ho-hum. Recently I came home from work and found his hair smelled like fish although he had taken his shower. He smiled and said, “Hey mama, says who, actually I smell like a tulip!” (I never met a boy who smelled like flowers, especially not from this home.)

This is the child who has kept me humbled in my parenting perspectives. Even though I can never be the perfect mom, and have probably made a few mistakes in parenting my boy along the way, I know in my motherly instinct, of the man he will grow up to be one day – One who is God-loving, courageous, grateful, kind-hearted, and joyful. Urm, I would even double the joyful part.

Back to that night when my first baby flashed me the big smile. I smiled back and whispered to Cheeky Koko that, “hey son, I’m not sure if I can ever be the coolest mom but I trust that it will all work out well. I just want you to grow up to be a contented, happy little guy, becoming who God has made you to be. Remember you’ll will always have a special place in my heart no matter what,” and truly it does, even if it is between a mother and a son.