Shredded Mother, Whole

by Jessica Martin-Weber
Visiting with the residents of a nursing home in south east India. Photo credit: Ashley Tingley

Visiting with the residents of a nursing home in south east India. Photo credit: Ashley Tingley

I have never shared this publicly but as I reflect on last year I think I’m ready to share it now:

I had pregnancy loss this time last year.

March, 2014 we were headed to India with International Teams, Initiative 31.8 and a group of people who would go on to become some dear, dear friends. This trip would be filled with beauty, ugliness, joy, pain, learning, teaching, listening, speaking, and the beginning of the end of our relationship with ITeams. Fresh clean water would flow in communities that hadn’t had fresh clean water, our lips would burn with “mild” curries, we would hold hands and listen to stories with those many years our seniors in a language we couldn’t understand, and we would paint a wall with the words of that language with kids who smiled easier than we did. There was singing, dancing, laughter, conversation, and bonds forged sitting in dirt with women breastfeeding their babies.

The entire time I would be bleeding from a twin pregnancy loss and D&C 4 days before we left.

Taking a breastfeeding break inside a classroom in India. Photo Credit: Ashley Tingley

Taking a breastfeeding break inside a classroom in India. Photo Credit: Ashley Tingley

I was a conflict of emotion. Earlier in that new year, I was surprised and quite frankly, upset when I discovered I was pregnant. We had decided to wait on a permanent decision regarding having more children for another year but when our prevention method failed I was filled with fear. Fear that the timing wasn’t right, that our finances wouldn’t survive another pregnancy at that time, fear that hyperemises gravidarum would be too much to handle away from the support network we had previously had in Houston now that we were living in Portland, fear that I wouldn’t be able to handle my job and pregnancy without that support, and fear that the judgment many others have about a large family of 8 adding another person wouldn’t be held quietly inside by those around us and their critical words of hate would reach my amazing children’s ears. Almost immediately upon getting the positive test result I wished I was comfortable terminating the pregnancy.

We decided to tell nobody but my best friend while we tried to figure out how to prepare for the months ahead. Really though, we just avoided talking about it, avoided preparing. Every time we would discuss finding a care provider I would end up in tears. My friend was going through her own nightmare with a messy divorce with an abusive soon-to-be ex husband and was overwhelmed with the stress off that. When I started bleeding near the end of February, I was relieved and then immediately felt guilty. Prior to this pregnancy, I had experienced 4 losses and now I hoped this would be a loss too.

And I had a new fear, maybe I was really a shitty mother because I didn’t want my babies.

Sugarbaby and me in India, March, 2014. Photo Credit: Ashley Tingley

Sugarbaby and me in India, March, 2014. Photo Credit: Ashley Tingley

The ultrasound showed twins but things didn’t look good and the measurements were off by 3 weeks. There wasn’t even one heartbeat, let alone two. Maybe my dates were wrong but the bleeding didn’t stop.

We had a choice: stay home and not go to India and see what happened while Jeremy led the trip, go to India and take a risk of complications in another country, or have a D&C and go to India. This trip I had dreamed up, envisioned, advocated for, recruited for, and worked hard with an amazing team to plan for over a year called to me. And then, so did my babies. The next day my bleeding increased and I felt certain I was miscarrying. We made the difficult decision to have the DNC. And then I knew I wanted them, wanted them to stay, wanted them to survive even though I was still relieved they hadn’t. I was torn between loving them and being glad they weren’t going to be born and hating myself for feeling that way. It called into question everything I knew or thought of myself as a mother. How could I be any kind of good mother if I was relieved my babies weren’t going to be born?

It shredded me.

A day later I boarded a plane for Chicago where just 24 hours after having the inside of my uterus scraped, I spoke at MommyCon Chicago’s VIP Meet and Leak, a day after that I spoke in two seminar sessions, one while breastfeeding our one and a half year old as I spoke. At MommyCon I hugged hundreds of women, listened to their mothering journeys, cried with them, laughed with them, and was honored to receive the stories they chose to share with me. All the shredded parts of me received them, even as I was wrestling with my own worthiness as a mother.

Four days following the procedure we were on our way to India.

Tasting the water from the new borehole. Photo Credit: Ashley Tingley

Tasting the water from the new borehole as Sugarbaby slept on my back. Photo Credit: Ashley Tingley

I couldn’t tell my team at the time, not because of them, because of my inability to talk about it. One of our team members was dealing with infertility and the grief that goes along with that, another was figuring out their own family planning, and still another was facing joblessness when they returned. All of us were dealing with some kind of recent loss and unfolding on that trip was our own loss of our place within the organization. My own emotions were a conflicting mix of sadness, freedom, gratitude, and anger over both the pregnancy and the unavoidable reality that we would be parting ways with this organization and work we loved so much.The truth was it was time for us to move on, to focus on other work but we didn’t want it to end so painfully and what seemed to be so senselessly. But that wasn’t our reality and so I was frustrated and yet peacefully determined to not lose myself in the process. The truth is, if our financial situation and support network had been different, we would have been glad to be pregnant. But that wasn’t our reality and so I was at once heartbroken and relieved. When I returned home from the trip amidst drama between us and the organization, I was still bleeding and I was bleeding still when we were officially dismissed from ITeams for reasons that to this day I still don’t understand. Even still I can’t help but feel a connection between the pregnancy loss I don’t understand and the job loss I don’t understand all somehow connected to love, joy, beauty, grief, pain, loneliness, and India. And all the shredded parts of me. We went to India to learn, support, encourage, get clean water flowing, what I ended up finding was beauty and healing even as my heart and my uterus were bleeding.

Last week I spoke at MommyCon Chicago again and as I walked into the same room where I had spoken a year before, I remembered that shredded version of myself. She was stronger than I realized then and I honored her, the conflict and turmoil and grief to come.

Wholeness has come again, there is still grief and relief in my scars but I’m not so afraid that I’m a shitty mother, I believe I’m just a human one with human feelings. Sharing this, I know I will likely be judged for a good number of things, but that’s ok, my wholeness is not determined by the judgment of others and if it touches one other shredded and very human mother, it was worth it. I don’t regret the procedure and I still feel confident it was the right choice for me and my family but I do wonder how it all would have played out if we had waited or if the pregnancy had stuck. Today as I look back on the first anniversary of the loss of the babies I never knew, I still have that same mixture of emotions with the added inner wisdom that our family and our work is exactly right for us in this moment. In an odd way, though I don’t think the timing was right, I miss our babies though I never held them, never named them, and wasn’t ready for them. They have impacted me and helped me forgive myself to find wholeness, accepting what is and all the loss. The conflict within me hasn’t lessened much, it is only subdued by the rightness of my family right now.

Photo Credit: Ashley Tingley

Photo Credit: Ashley Tingley

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Baby Bee Hummingbirds Keepsakes

Time is such an interesting concept, especially for young parents. Pregnancy drags on day after day, and slows down more and more the closer you get to the birth of your baby. You have all the time in the world to get the nursery set up, select a name, and otherwise prepare for the arrival of your baby, until you suddenly realize that baby could come any day, and then there just isn’t enough time to get everything done! And once your baby arrives, those first few moments, days, and sometimes weeks, are both deliciously slow and gone so fast. Then, as you establish a new day to day routine, before you know it, your baby turns into a toddler and you wonder how on earth time could have passed so quickly! Time is far from a constant friend. How do you hold on to those precious moments with your little one?

That is the question that Amy, from Baby Bee Hummingbirds, helps moms answer all over the world, by offering to eternalize certain moments in time by crafting them into gems: your baby’s birth with a Placenta Gem, your breastfeeding relationship with a Breastmilk Gem, your little one’s first hair trim with a First Curl Gem, and more. In the short interview below, Amy tells us a bit about herself and her gems, and she is excited to offer you a chance to win a breastmilk gem in a very special giveaway.

Mumma & Babies

Amy with her babies!

TLB: What would you like the Leaky Boob community to know about Baby Bee Hummingbirds (BBH)?

Amy: BBH was born from my desire to capture and preserve life’s most precious memories.  As a midwife and breastfeeding mumma (six years continuous breastfeeding and counting), I have a deep passion and drive to create gems that represent and honour a mother’s role as life giver and nurturer.  I basically turned my “ hobby”  into a world wide business. I am honoured and proud to craft my unique collection of gems, which has naturally expanded from Breastmilk Gems, to Placenta Gems, First Curl Gems, Ashes Gems, and Pet Memorial Gems.

TLB: What a neat opportunity. It’s easy to see how this would appeal to many many moms. But the idea of preserving bodily fluids or tissue could also make some people squeamish. Is there any danger to anyone’s health in producing these keepsakes?

Amy: There is absolutely no danger to anyone’s health.  However I do recognize that every day I deal with individuals’ unique DNA, and I acknowledge that by ensuring all my supplies are single use only, and my preservation methods are 100% safe and risk free.

TLB: How long does the creation of these unique pieces of jewelry take?

A: All my gems are crafted in steps. The very first step is to start the unique preservation method, which takes a few days to complete. After this the gems are set, coated in a protective resin, sanded, and polished to perfection.  Each gem takes an average of three hours to create over several days.

TLB: What is your favorite Breastfeeding tip?

Amy: Especially during the early (newborn months), enjoy your ability to nourish and nurture your child. Take the time to sit or lay down quietly with your nursling. It’s Mother Nature’s way of ensuring you rest often (yes even if its every 2 hours).  Breathe in that baby scent and let the oxytocin (love hormone) flow, fall deeper in love with your little one, and recharge.

Full Term Breastfeeding

______________________

Amy is offering three different prizes to 3 lucky Leakies!
(one prize per winner)
Retail Value: $62 each

Amythest BreastMilk Gem

First Prize: A Breastmilk Gem Bead

Pure Heart Gem

Second Prize: A Pure Breastmilk Gem Heart

BreastMilk Gem with First Curl

Third Prize: A Breastmilk Gem Bead with Baby’s First Curl

______________________

 Good luck to everyone!  Please use the widget below to be entered.  The giveaway is open from February 26, 2015 through March 6, 2015.  A big thanks to Amy and Baby Bee Hummingbirds for their support of TLB and all breastfeeding women; please be sure to visit their Facebook page or follow them on twitter and thank them for their support of TLB and this giveaway opportunity.  Check them out on Instagram too, username @babybeehummingbirds

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More Than a Pair of Tits, But Can I Be Human?

by Jessica Martin-Weber
Breasts. Comfort? Sex things? Feeding utensils? Provocative snares? Defining body parts? Or just a pain in the neck?

Breasts. Comfort? Sex things? Feeding utensils? Provocative snares? Defining body parts? Or just a pain in the neck?

Once, a supportive male boss told me I was more than a pair of tits. Thanks, I think, so what does that make me? What about other women?

Breasts are at once over celebrated and under appreciated. The bastion of physical femininity, breasts rise up before young girls as the ultimate marker of becoming a woman while at the same time being berated for tripping men up and getting too much attention. Slap a pair of breasts overflowing a lacy bra on the side of a bus and watch the accidents’ ticker tape start rolling. As for coming of age, periods shmeriods, it’s not the uterus the world notices, it’s your tits! We idolize the lactating breast as the best, the mark of superior motherhood, yet we worship the sexually available ready to have fun-oh-sex-goddess-of-desire-breasts as the mark of superior womanhood. Shake those milk jugs and bring all the boys to your yard! Here’s a cover for feeding your babies, don’t let that disgusting best milk of awesome slutty motherness get anywhere or be noticed and here are some pasties for when you set aside your mom of the year sash at night and it’s time to BLOW HIS MIND!

The messages we get about our breasts and our bodies, messages we may internalize, can end up defining us. They don’t have to but often they do without us realizing it. Our successes and our failures may be measured against these messages. We all want to pretend we don’t care what other people think, but the truth is most of us do to an extent. Understandably so because none of us want to be alone. We actually need each other, need community, and needing people means we care about what they think.  Sometimes we can’t see past the tips of our nipples. Sometimes, we can’t see past the tips of other women’s nipples either. And more and more we can’t see past the tip of an artificial nipple. Do men have to put up with anything like this? Society gets their panties in a bunch when a woman feeds her baby no matter how she does it, oddly enough, not so much when a dad feeds his baby. Men get accolades for “babysitting” (AKA: parenting) and adored for feeding their child. Women get covers, judgment, shunning, and news reports. Why? Because they’re women. And there are breasts involved even when not being used.

When I began developing I mostly had a feeling of dread tinged with excitement about my impending new appendages. Then they were real, not just a developing idea, they were really, really there and I was thrilled, I was a woman, not only did I bleed between my legs, I had BOOBS! That lasted for all of 2 minutes and came crashing down when I realized that when properly clothed, the tiny bits I had wouldn’t bounce joyfully in a bra, wouldn’t fill out a bathing suit, they wouldn’t even cause a disturbance in the fabric of my shirt. I got mosquito bites for breasts. There had been fire ant bites on my ankles bigger than my tits. Before my breasts grew, I hated the idea of having my own pair of tits and being seen as a sexy symbol of busty lust but once they set up a very disappointing shop on my chest, I wanted nothing more. I had been betrayed!

They were supposed to be alluring. Sexy. Comforting. Nurturing. All at once. Instead, my breasts were barely there. My disappointment was palpable. Unlike my breasts.

My mother has fabulous breasts and I had a deep appreciation for them. To comfort me when mine were disappointing she shared how she had tiny tits once too. But then she got pregnant and breastfed, and my brother, sister, and I gave her the gift of big boobs which stuck around after all her children weaned. It was hope. Except, of course, there wouldn’t be any tits there for my some-day-partner to feel up and lead to baby making, my chest still looked, and felt, like a preteen boy’s. If the only thing that was going to change that was having babies, I might have a problem.

Later, after I had managed the baby making feat, my breasts would still be disappointingly small and my mother, out of love and concern, would come to me with an offer from her and my dad. Breast implants, they would pay for them to ensure my husband was satisfied with me sexually and would not leave me and my daughters. Because they believed what I had long suspected, with my tiny tits, I couldn’t possibly be enough.

Breastfed or not, little girls and boys tend to find comfort at their mother’s or a mother-figure’s breast. Nurturing and comforting, breasts are just pleasant. Why? I’m not sure anybody really knows. Biologically it’s probably because they are both sustenance for the infants of our species and have a certain erotic appeal that helps with the continuation of the species. But none of us are thinking about that when we’re drawn to them. Besides, essentially breasts are skin covered sacks of fat with some glandular tissue and milk ducts thrown in for functionality. They’re more complicated than that, but when you break it down, boobs are fat bags with nerves. Which hardly sounds attractive at all. Still, humans are drawn to these fat bags, the human female breast. At first for food and comfort, then for fascination, and then for sex. Sex, of course, leads to more babies and the cycle starts all over again. Beautiful, important, and confusing.

Are they ever really even ours?

How do we reconcile how we’ve seen our mother’s breasts, the breasts of other maternal figures, the breasts of our peers, the breasts of celebrities, and even the different stages and functions of our own breasts? There’s no switch we get to flip, you know. Moving from one phase of boob love to the next is complicated and confusing. Often it doesn’t go smoothly and there’s struggle involved. Find nurturing comfort and sustenance at the breast, baby! Stop that. Grow some tits! Stop that. Cover them up! Stop that. Flaunt them! Stop that. Boobs = sex! Stop that. Nurture a child with them! Stop that. Play things for your partner! Stop that. Tie them up, nobody wants to see those tired old things hitting your knees, that’s not SEXY! How do we go from being comforted at the breast, to admiring breasts, to wanting our own breasts, to discovering how the world sees breasts, to embracing the sensuality of our breasts, to properly covering them, then by just having breasts somehow being responsible for being harassed for sex, forget the nurturing stuff breasts are for sex, have a baby and hold them to your chest and just be ok with now your baby’s mouth and hands and head are there more than your sexual partner’s. Be a good child, a good sex goddess, a nurturing goddess and don’t be a slut or a bad mom or sexually unavailable. Do. It. All. What you do with your boobs, how you dress them, how you use them, how you present them, and how others notice them requires a lot of time and energy. A defining factor of how others see us and more importantly, how we see ourselves. The shape of our breasts can shape us.

Which can mess with our heads.

I talk with women every day about their breasts. It’s a casual conversation, but honest. Women are surprisingly willing to talk about them, if somewhat hesitant at first. But talking about our tits is kind of like taking our bras off at the end of the day: HALLELUJAH, I DON’T HAVE THAT CONSTRICTIVE TORTURE DEVICE HOLDING ME UP ANY MORE! I CAN BREATHE! We can talk about our boobs! You see, everyone else is talking about them and we know it. Men, fashion designers, doctors, nurses, lactation consultants, fashion magazines, politicians… you name it, everyone’s talking about our tits. Except us. Some of us are still whispering “breast” before cancer because even the word makes us uncomfortable. We’re not supposed to actually notice our own breasts! And noticing the breasts of others comes with baggage packed with jealousy and judgement. We’re certainly not supposed to be talking about them. Feel your boobies? Ok, but could we not say that out loud please? Don’t you just have a card I can stick in my underwear drawer for a monthly reminder? To talk about our breasts means we have to dance our words around in a complicated choreography of avoiding the conflict and appreciation we have about our own chests. It’s not a safe dance. If we like them, we sound like we’re bragging. If we don’t like them, we sound like we don’t enjoy being women. If we enjoy them in sex, we wonder if we’re weird. If we don’t enjoy them in sex, we’re pretty sure we sound frigid. If we’re proud of them, we’re going to be heard as putting down other women. If we’re not proud of them, we’re perceived as being dissatisfied. Most of all, we wonder how much of our success as women, as sexual partners, as mothers is tied up in these things we contain between some elastic, padding, and maybe a bit of wire. If we participate in titty talk, do we risk exposing ourselves with our womanly failures to the world? Are we enough?

Sometimes, our breasts and all the baggage that society hands us to go with them, get in the way of remembering we are human. Perhaps we could connect with our own humanity a little bit deeper by appreciating our breasts without shame, no longer worrying about how others are or are not using theirs, and talking about our own breasts without apologetic whispers. And to look in the mirror and tell ourselves we are enough.IMG_3816.JPG

This post is inspired by a portion of one of the talks sponsored by Ergobaby and Ameda, Inc. at MommyCon 2015.

 

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Not Your Typical 10 Tips for Surviving Traveling with Children

by Jessica Martin-Weber
This post was made possible by the generous sponsorship of Mamava Lactation Stations.
who-needs-vacation

When you do both without a partner you’ll find yourself peeing in a public restroom with a baby strapped to your back and everyone’s luggage in there with you.

 

Traveling with children, I don’t understand how there isn’t a reality show based on this yet. There would be plenty of drama, melt-downs (and not just coming from the kids), arguments, ridiculous situations, questionable wardrobe opportunities, and oh-no-she-didn’t moments.

While some families go for goody bags and apologizing-in-advance notes explaining that their children may act like the juvenile members of society they are, others just hope to make it through the experience with their yoga pants and spit-up embellished shirt intact. Thank you overachiever-extra-considerate parents for making the rest of us look like loser slackers. Board an airplane with a child in tow these days and I swear you’ll see looks of horror, fear, and then annoyance if you don’t have goody bags with drink coupons, ear plugs, and candy for them. As if they could possibly need a goody bag more than the parents do. If I am buying anyone chocolate for when I travel with my children, it’s going to be me. How dare I take my child in public without compensating those who must endure her presence. Hold up, I may have a smushed piece of chocolate in the bottom of the diaper bag if you really feel you deserve a participation award for me traveling with my children.

I’ve had a lot of experience traveling with children over the years. Of course, I now consider leaving the house with children to be “traveling with children.” Over the past 16 years I’ve been forced to develop some serious survival skills for this near daily endeavor. This isn’t your typical Pinterest style tips, here, in no particular order are my 10 tips for slacker parents like myself to survive traveling with children:

1. Dress for comfort. It’s likely you’re going to find yourself lugging too much stuff (and wondering why you didn’t get a Uhaul for it), chasing after someone or something, wearing someone’s meal and probably someone’s body fluid (admit it, either one could be yours), and possibly wrestling an octopus at any given moment. If you’re breastfeeding, comfort and boob accessibility can make the difference between going crazy and just looking like you are. Road trip (all the way to the grocery store!), plane, train, or the mall carousel, comfort is of the essence, you simply can’t dash after a kid in anything more trendy than yoga pants.

2. Have extra. Of everything. Since I have 6 kids, everyone seems to think I even bring extra children. Though it may seem as though you already have brought the entire Baby’s R Us, guaranteed there is something you have forgotten or foolishly didn’t bring enough extras of and that one item is the only one you will need. Just packed 6 diapers in that diaper bag? You’ll need 7 for sure then. You have an extra outfit for baby in your right pocket and for yourself in the left, right? No? There will be a poopsplosion on the airplane and you’ll have been the terrorist with the bomb, the evidence all over you and your baby. You are traveling with a weapon of massive poopstruction, you don’t want to be underprepared. So just go ahead and rent that Uhaul, stuff the glove compartment, or pack that obnoxiously large carry-on, whatever you do, don’t come up short on the 1,239,845,123,020,934 baby “essentials.”

3. Rations. You can Pinterest the living daylights out of this point, I did. A clever little box of snacks including fruit and other healthyish munchies. It was cute and put together. In the end though, you’ll just start throwing food at them and hoping some makes it in and satisfies them for 10 minutes. They say don’t eat when you’re bored but travel is totally the exception to that rule. Why? Because snacks mean silence and if you’re lucky, maybe eventually even a nap. Eat all the goldfish, Honey, I got the big box from Costco just for this trip, you can eat them all day long.

4. Put those kids to work. Once they demonstrate some competent walking skills (with my kids that seems to kick in around 6 years old) it’s time to put them to work. Even toddlers can sort of do it if getting places with any kind of urgency isn’t on your list. Each member of your caravan can carry a backpack, don’t let them slack. You want to eat on this journey, kid? Well then you better carry that food so you don’t go hungry. Want your special blankie or plushie? I got a spot for that right on your back. Activites so you don’t get bored? If you’re ready to carry the weight, you’re going to be entertained for hours.

5. Accessorize. You know what’s hot these days? Babies. They’re like a furnace. So strap one on, ditch the stroller, and strut like the hottest fashion model as you bolt to your gate. Strollers are great for certain settings but for travel can be cumbersome and take up a lot of space. Leave it at home if you can and try babywearing instead. Of course, if you have more than one baby or a baby and a toddler or otherwise think it would be good to have a baby tank handy for your excursions, you can always turn the stroller into a bulldozer to get people out of your way.

6. Find your backbone and don’t be afraid to use it. Since you may encounter people who resent you bringing your children into a public space or may be so happy to see your baby they border on affectionate assault, you may need your spine. When we traveled to India, a culture that loves young children and a fair skinned red head was a bit of an anomaly, our introverted 2 year old learned that everything could go much smoother for her if she just automatically started yelling “go away, don’t touch!” from the moment we opened the car door anywhere. Speak up for what you need and speak up when the boundaries of you or your child(ren) aren’t being respected. I must say “go away, don’t touch” at the top of your lungs does seem to be effective.

7. Sleep. Just kidding, you’re probably not going to get any sleep when you travel with kids, silly.

8.  Have an escape plan. You’ll probably need it. An escape plan when traveling with children can look like anything, not just the exit that the little lights along the aisle lead to, which, unless there are more than just your kids screaming and hysterical, probably isn’t a good idea to utilize. The most effective escape options include a door and a lock, a containment facility for those that like to run and to block everything else out. Even better if there was a foot massage but unless you can get a kid to help you with that, it’s likely trying to have that experience with kids along for the ride will include you saying something like “stop licking the vibrating chair” or “those pretty colored bottles aren’t candy sweetie.” If you have a baby to feed, breastfeeding or otherwise, this can be the perfect built-in escape plan especially if you have an adult travel companion. If breastfeeding is going well for you, breastfeeding while traveling is super easy AND you get a shot of oxytocin each time you feed your kid. Instant stress relief. Nobody needs to hide to feed their child unless they are more comfortable doing so. Still, it’s the perfect excuse, you need to feed the baby, you have identified an escape plan facility (like the Mamava pods!), you hand the other child(ren) off to your partner, you go into escape facility, you lock door, and you revel in the comparative quiet stillness that is just one child and actually sitting down in more than 2 inches of space. And if you have to pump, you can maybe even go alone! Of course, if you’re not traveling with an adult who can wander around airport shops herding cats, I mean kids, then your escape may just mean a spot where they can’t run too far while you feed the baby. When you’re traveling with children you take what you can get. If you magically find yourself with spare time in advance, you can even plan out those spots while looking like a bad mom by daring to tear your eyes of your children (you might miss her twirl for the 4,253,649th time!) and check out this app for finding such havens.

Who is "vacationing" at Target today?

Who is “vacationing” at Target today?

9. Breathe. Impossible, right? But important. There’s a reason they tell you on flights to put your oxygen mask on first before helping someone else with their’s: if you don’t get yours on and you pass out from lack of oxygen, you’re not going to be much help. You need to make sure you’re getting air or you’re no good to anyone. Don’t rush and don’t forget to take care of yourself even if it’s just in little ways. For kids, the scent of stress is like the scent of blood for sharks, one little whiff and there will be a feeding frenzy. So breathe. Breathe deep. And for 5 minutes try to ignore the fact that every breath reminds you there’s a diaper that needs changing.

10. Plug in. We get it screens aren’t great for little kids and we miss out on so much when we’re plugged in and out of touch with the world around us. Which is why using technology to entertain kids while traveling is absolutely brilliant. We try to limit screen time at home in our family, so there’s room for many other activities that inspire creativity, physical movement, and adventure. Plus, that denial makes it a huge treat that they get to overindulge in screen time when we travel. At the start of any trip we avoid using screens but it doesn’t really take long before I’m saying “here sweetie, some headphones and digital candies you can crush for the next hour.” Survival of the techiest.

In all seriousness though, I love traveling with children. Seeing the world (or the grocery store), friends, and family is worth the difficulties we plunge ourselves and our children into. It isn’t always easy (why do we say that when what we mean is “95% of the time this is as pleasant as a pap smear but lasts a lot longer”?) but it is always rewarding. What are your realistic tips for traveling with kids?

Happy travels!

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Ask the CPST with clek – winter coats, car toys, and LATCH

 

 

This post features questions from readers for a CPST (Child Passenger Safety Technician) focusing on car seats and is made possible by the generous sponsorship of clek who have made their staff CPSTs available to The Leaky Boob community in order to answer your questions and help you keep your children safe. 

Ask the CPST - Jan Meme

Dear Trudy,

I’ve heard that coats aren’t safe in car seats but I live quite far north where the temperatures are subzero and quite dangerous to be out in for even brief periods without proper protection. While I understand that puffy coats can compress, is that something that really happens in an accident? Though I’ve heard a lot of warnings about it in a hypothetical sense, I don’t think I’ve heard an actual scenario. And what are the safe alternatives? I worry that if we were to be in an accident in the winter, my child may be safely restrained in her seat but in the case of a severe accident, be exposed to dangerous temperatures without proper protection. I want to keep them safe from both an accident and inclement weather conditions and since staying home for 7 months isn’t really an option, I’m looking for something that will meet both needs.

Thank you!

Bundled Up Mama

 

 

Dear Bundled Up Mama,

Staying warm in the winter can certainly be a challenge at times when living in a colder climate. I’m in a cold climate myself, so I understand how difficult it is to find a balance between keeping your little one warm AND safe.

What you’ve heard about bulky winter clothing is correct, the excess slack that can appear when bulky clothing is used can cause injury in a crash. There is a lot of force in a crash and all the warm fluffy air that keeps our child warm can also lead to them being hurt. A lot of time heavy coats and snow suits also change the position of a child in a seat. This can range from leading to the straps not sitting fully on a child’s shoulders, to making them seem taller in the seat than they actually are.

Fleece suits are a safe option in the car. Fall/spring weight jackets also work well with having a bit of a shell to break the wind while still providing warmth. Once kiddo is safely buckled in, extra blankets on top of them will help keep them nice and toasty. There are other products out there like car seat ponchos or specially designed coats that unzip to move out of the way of the harness that are also safe options.

Warm Regards,

Trudy

*Editors note: this post from The Car Seat Lady goes into great detail on ways to keep your child warm and safe in the car with customizable options depending on the specifics circumstances you may be dealing with.

________________

Dear Trudy,

My mother-in-law bought some toys for our son to have in the car, a sort of bar that clips to the sides of the infant seat and arches over the top holding hard and soft toys. I’ve read about potential projectiles in the case of a crash, is something like this safe? I don’t want to offend my mother-in-law, she really is trying, but I also want to keep my family safe.

I appreciate your help!

Sincerely,

A Little Rattled

 

Dear Rattled,

Keeping our little ones amused in the car can sometimes be a challenge, and finding a safe way to do it can be tricky. Generally speaking, if a toy is hard enough that it would hurt if you were to hit yourself with it, it is too hard to have near your baby in the car.

Some toy bars have removable toys – if that’s the case with yours, then you may be able to keep the soft toys and remove the harder ones. This might be a nice compromise to use the toy that was thoughtfully bought, while keeping your little one safe. If your little one is in a rear-facing only seat still, also check that the handle position is in an approved position while traveling. Some seats allow handles to be left up while traveling, while others instruct to put the handle down.

Safe Travels,

Trudy

 ________________

 

Dear Trudy,

We have the option of LATCH for installing our rear facing car seat but it doesn’t seem quite as secure as the belt install. There isn’t a CPST local to me to have check our install, does it matter if we use the belt install instead of the LATCH?

Peace,

Confused Mommy

 

 

Dear Confused Mommy,

The choice between LATCH and the vehicle belt raises a lot of questions so I’ll do my best to help make it a bit easier to figure out.

When installing a car seat, it’s important to have a tight installation. This means having less than 1” of movement side-to-side and front-to-back at the place where the belt goes through the car seat – commonly known as the belt path. The safest installation is the one that gives you a secure fit. It sounds like the vehicle belt gives you a better fit in your car, so that would be the best method of installation for your car seat in your vehicle.

Safe Travels,

Trudy

 

 

 

Trudy Slaght

Trudy Slaght, Clek CPST, CRST-IT As Clek’s Child Passenger Safety Advocate, a previous board member of the Child Passenger Safety Association of Canada, and a CRST Instructor from Edmonton, Alberta, Trudy Slaght pretty much breathes, eats, and lives child passenger safety. With her brain crammed full of valuable tips and advice, Trudy attends and speaks at various industry conferences across North America and provides everything from simple helpful guidance to advanced technical support for parents, caregivers, and even fellow technicians.
A mom of three, Trudy has been involved in the field for over 7 years, spending lots of time thinking about, practicing, and preaching the best methods to keep our little ones safe for the ride. And, even with all this on her plate, Trudy still somehow has the passion and energy to be a contributing author to Canada’s National Child Passenger Technician Training curriculum.
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New Beginnings Giveaway

The main thing that all of the people in The Leaky Boob community have in common is their experience with a new beginning; in particular, the start of motherhood.  Leakies come together at TLB for encouragement and support as they encounter new or different experiences with their precious little ones, to share their struggles and their victories, their pain and their joy.  And perhaps most importantly: to know that they are not alone.

Carrie and Jen of The Naked Nursing Tank are familiar with this new beginning.  They understand and value the need for support in new experiences.  Which is a big part of why they they support TLB through as sponsors.  They enjoy supporting moms.

Another new beginning they have experienced is that of starting their business, The Naked NursingTank.  From a need to an idea to a concept to production and all the other steps that lead to the final product, along with an operational and healthy business, they have experienced them all.  And they want to support other moms as they embark on the same journey, a similar new beginning.  That’s why they just wrote a short “how to” guide on getting started, for all the moms ready to see if their creative idea might lead to some serious business.  Their “Where Do We Start” blog post could be just the kind of thing you need to guide your tentative steps and to bring up some ideas and necessities that you might have to otherwise discover the hard way.

From one momtrepeneur to another, they just want to see you succeed in all of your endeavors.

Naked Nursing Tank

05. Before After PinkRuffles

The Naked Nursing Tank is there so you can nurse your little one without exposing your midsection.

______________________

Carrie and Jen are offering one of their bamboo tanks AND one of their cotton tanks to 1 lucky Leakie!
Retail Value: $70

______________________

Charcoal Tank with Arrows AD

Good luck to everyone!  Please use the widget below to be entered.  The giveaway is open from February 6, 2015 through February 17, 2015.  A big thanks to Jen, Carrie, and The Naked Nursing Tank for their support of TLB and all breastfeeding women; please be sure to visit their Facebook page or follow them on twitter and thank them for their support of TLB and this giveaway opportunity.  Check out their videos on YouTube, and find them on Pinterest too!

This giveaway is restricted to Canada and U.S. entries only.

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To Supplement or not to Supplement Low Supply Giveaway

Low supply.  Of all the fears that new moms face with their babies, this one has to be in the top 5: what if I can’t produce enough breastmilk to feed my baby?  Which is just a cover for another fear: am I starving my baby??

How do you figure out if your little one is getting adequate nutrition from nursing when you can’t see how much milk they’re actually able to acquire in a feeding?  Should you just start taking supplements to boost your milk production, you know, just in case?

Before you jump into supplements, there are actually a few steps that you can take to help determine if your baby is getting what she/he needs from nursing.  Motherlove, long-time sponsor of TLB, has a couple of resources to share with you:

1. “Help, my milk supply is low! Or is it?” is a relational resource on TLB sponsored by Motherlove that explores the reasons why mothers think their supply might be low, provides an easy way to gauge if your supply is actually low, and lists a few resources to check out if you have determined that you do indeed have low supply.

  1. “I’ve got milk supply problems, now what?” provides a list of steps to take before starting to take supplements to boost your supply.  It also describes the many different options that Motherlove has developed once you’ve determined that supplements are what you need.  All of them are made with certified organic herbs, making them safe for you and your little one.

Motherlovelogo-300x185

______________________

Motherlove is offering a bottle of Motherlove milk supply supplements of your choice to 3 lucky Leakies!

______________________

Good luck to everyone!  Please use the widget below to be entered.  The giveaway is open from February 2, 2015 through February 9, 2015.  A big thanks to Motherlove for their support of TLB and all breastfeeding women; please be sure to visit their Facebook page or follow them on twitter and thank them for their support of TLB and this giveaway opportunity.

This giveaway is restricted to U.S. entries only.

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MiLK Conference Call for Speakers

breastfeeding and formula feeding conference

Call for speakers

MILK: An Infant Feeding Conference,

2015

 

Calling for submissions from clinicians, scholars, students, artists, mothers, fathers, researchers, and others familiar with infant feeding from clinical and social perspectives. Submissions of a wide variety are welcome, including research presentations, theoretical papers, academic papers, creative submissions including personal essays, social commentary, literature, and performance art.

We are looking for presentations on topics related to infant feeding and maternal health including but not limited to: continuity of care and infant nutrition, the diagnoses and care of physiological barriers to breastfeeding, sociological barriers involved in infant feeding, anthropological perspectives of infant nutrition, analysis of marketing in the maternal baby industry, conscientious marketing, exploration of infant feeding and child nutrition controversies, policies in the workplace for family support and breastfeeding, politics of infant feeding and policy making, postpartum depression and mental health research related to infant feeding, infant feeding practices in subsequent children, sociological family support and infant and child nutrition, infant feeding education, infant nutrition in public health, feeding multiples, managing maternal health issues through breastfeeding, nonviolent communication strategies for supporting infant feeding, developing infant feeding support products, immediate postpartum infant feeding support, the impact of birth interventions on maternal breastfeeding goals, maternal and pediatric allergies and infant nutrition, premature infants and nutrition, feminism and infant feeding, natural duration breastfeeding, weaning, infant nutrition and sleep, partner support and education, breastfeeding after breast reduction, socioeconomic and racial disparities in infant feeding support, breastmilk pumping, inducing lactation and relactation, the role of infant nutrition in relation to dental care, and the future of infant nutrition support.

Submissions accepted through February 28, 1015 and close March 1, 2015.

Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference, is a MommyCon conference envisioned by The Leaky Boob with the support of Ergobaby. Designed to bridge professional conferences for clinicians, health care providers, academics, and researchers, with consumer conferences for parents, Milk aims to educate, inspire, and support parents in feeding their children, as well as the people that support them including nutrition, lactation, maternal, and pediatric health care providers.

To submit to speak at Milk 2015, please use this form.

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Introducing Boobles™- MOST Like Mom

by Jessica Martin-Weber

Baby in restaurant boob selection breastfeeding

You’ve seen it, the advertising of bottles and formula announcing how their product is somehow “like mom.” Or proclaiming that there are new developments that allows their product to be “more like the breast” while elsewhere on the packaging they say “breast is best.” It sounds amazing: new technology, new understanding, new science has unlocked some secret that makes this nipple shape and design more like a real breast than all previous nipple shapes or this specially formulated blend of ingredients more brain boosting like what is found in breastmilk than all previous specially formulated blends ever of all time in the history of feeding babies. Now it’s “more like mom” than ever before! Hey, this could be the answer to your breastfeeding troubles, this product will fix colic, sleep issues, calma your kid, teach them how to breastfeed, and probably even make your bed, because it’s MORE LIKE MOM!

Honestly though, I understand where it is coming from and it’s not the first time plastic and silicone has been confused as being “just like” the real thing, so really, it’s not that surprising. (Boobs, I’m referring to fake boobs. Which, really, when you think about it, bottles are just a different version of fake boobs. Portable, detached, feeding utensil fake boobs for feeding babies.)

But of course that’s what they’re trying to do, create, market, and sell something that is as close as possible to what human infants are born expecting. It’s probably not going to do so well with truly honest advertising that says “really nothing like mom but acceptable delivery system for infant nutrition.” Can’t imagine why brands would shy away from that approach. Besides, the basic shape is there and the design is sometimes there requiring the baby to suck to get anything from the teat (you may be surprised though, lots of bottles just run like a facet when you tilt them, some of the biggest culprits are those that claim to be for breastfed babies).

These claims, while highly contested, are on to something. It just makes sense to feed babies “like mom”. Their mouths are shaped for that, their brains are wired for sucking, and developmentally that’s really all babies can manage since forks and spoons are tricky at that stage and tubes are hopefully medically unnecessary. Having used a eye dropper to feed one of my infants, that’s also rather time consuming and messy. Having used bottles with all my babies (photographic evidence here because apparently if you’ve never posted a photo of it online, it never even happened and you’re a lying jerk), I can say a bottle tends to be a effective delivery system of infant nutrition. Very few people would argue against the basic design of bottles, it’s comparing it to mom that gets confusing and, well, kind of like lying. A predatory preying on someone who just wants to do what’s “best” for their child. These companies have financial motivation to convince someone that their product is like mom.

Because, let’s be honest here, how do they know it’s “like mom?” Aside from the obvious differences in materials (warm, living tissue vs plastic and/or silicone), each woman, shoot, for most of us, each breast is different. When they say more like the breast, I find myself asking “which one?” and when I read claims of a bottle design being closer to mom, I wonder “who?”

So, I did. I asked several of my friends to give me their interpretation of what a bottle that looked like them would look like. I asked them, if there was a bottle designed to be like their breast, what would be distinctive of their customized more like mom boob bottle, what we’re calling “Boobles™- MOST LIKE MOM”. For several of us, that would require two very different options since each of the breasts on our chest are unique in their own right. Can’t be more like this mom with just one bottle.

Here are the renderings of these moms and what their breasts would look like topping a bottle, if bottles were truly more like THAT mom. Introducing “Boobles™- MOST LIKE MOM” concept bottles that are truly, “more like mom”:

The Badass Breastfeeding Abby Theurig's Boobles™

The Badass Breastfeeder, Abby Theurig’s Boobles™ need two versions.

Kelly's Boobles

Kelly’s Boobles™

Laura Dover's Boobles

Laura Dover’s Boobles™, two different styles.

Megan O'Neill's Booble

Acelleron Maternal Health and Wellness, Megan O’Neill’s Booble™

Rachelle Unlatched Lesteshen's Booble

Rachelle Unlatched Lesteshen’s Booble™

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Emily’s Boobles™ are similar but not exactly the same.

10866871_10204402315952634_782702041_n

Iola from What the Beep Am I Doing would need two different models too.

10872556_1032654700093503_622254104_n

Amy Peterson drew a sample of what a Booble™ could look like for a woman with a bifurcated nipple.

10884236_10205828355369105_555034360_o

Jessie’s Booble™ sketch

Carrie booble

Carrie from Our Stable Table has Lefty and Old Faithful Boobles™.

Anonymous Booble- I promised I wouldn't tell.

Anonymous Booble™- I promised I wouldn’t tell.

Serena's Boobles™

Serena’s Boobles™, one size doesn’t fit all.

MommyCon's, Xza Higgins Boobles™ would neat a righty bottle that is prone to leak.

MommyCon’s, Xza Higgins would neat a righty Booble™ that is prone to leak.

What would your Booble look like and what would be the unique features to make it “more like mom” for your baby?

With all the brands out there touting to be “more like mom” and promising silly things like teaching your baby how to breastfeed (biology taught your baby to breastfeed, the bottle is an attempt at copying your biology, plastic can’t teach a baby how to breastfeed!) and product names that make you think of breasts and breastfeeding, it can be confusing to find a bottle that works for your little one should they need it. How do you cut through all the gimmicks and marketing to truly find one that will meet your baby’s needs, particularly if you are breastfeeding? A popular suggestion is to find a nipple shape that looks like your breast, but aside from the potential awkward moment to check your boob selfie on your phone or to whip a boob out if you need to compare your own nipples to the bottle while you’re at the store (and then I bet you’ll wish you were shopping online), is that really helpful? I decided to ask my friend Amy Peterson, IBCLC and co-author of the book Balancing Breast and Bottle, Reaching Your Breastfeeding Goals for some guidance:

Don’t waste time looking for a bottle nipple that looks like your breast. The best way to choose a bottle nipple is to look at your baby’s latch on your breast, and then on the bottle nipple.  The tip of the nipple needs to reach far back into your baby’s mouth, while the baby’s lips are slightly opened and rest on a portion of the nipple base. Surprisingly, many shapes marketed for breastfed babies are often the shapes that cause the worst bottle latch: a latch where the baby looks like he is sucking on a straw.

It’s probably a long way off for customized bottles made from silicon molds of each individual mother’s breasts, Boobles aren’t going to be happening any time soon. (Either a brilliant business idea or the worst idea ever.) Of course, the ridiculous claims and names of bottles aren’t about to go away any time soon either. Sifting through it all to find what works for you and your family, with the help of an IBCLC health care professional if necessary, skip the comparisons to your own breasts or those of a random woman in a stock photo used to make a sale and look for something that meets the needs of your baby. While the breast is certainly the best design for a human infant, though not always without problems that may make feeding difficult, there’s no bottle that’s going to really be anything like the breast. Unless of course plastic, silicon, glass, and/or rubber makes you think “more like mom.”

Here at TLB, how you feed your baby is secondary to that you feed your baby. Having a sense of humor, exploring some of the social and relational aspects of infant feeding and parenting, discussing information, and sharing our stories is really what we’re about. Phrases comparing infant feeding devices (doesn’t that sound so much cooler and refined than “bottle”?) to breasts are something we take issue with because ultimately we feel it’s confusing and it undermines the confidence families can have in feeding their babies well. Because, let’s get real, there can’t be many of us that look at a bottle nipple and say “hey, I resemble that teat!”

What would a Booble based on you look like and what kind of functional features would your customized Boobles have? Email your rendering of a custom designed Booble to content@theleakyboob.com with the subject “My Booble” in the subject and we’ll add it to our gallery of bottle designs that would actually be more like mom.

For me, aside from two different models, my Boobles would have one a bit more dense than the other and both would leak whenever a baby cried. I could never take them in public without some sort of cover.

Boobles™- MOST LIKE MOM!

*Please note, you don’t have to use bottles to feed your baby if you don’t want or need to.

** Please note, doesn’t have to be breasts either.

*** Also, this post is supposed to be humorous, not something to get worked up over.

****And Boobles aren’t really a thing.

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Sugarbaby’s New Year’s Pro-Breastfeeding Tips and Resolutions for the New Year for the Breastfed Baby

by Jessica Martin-Weber with Sugarbaby
Sugarbaby eats dirt

Sugarbaby eating dirt when she was still a little nursling.

It’s a new year, my 3rd new year to celebrate so I am old hat at ringing in the new year and making resolutions. My mommy says any time is a good time to decide to make changes but lots of people think there is something about the new year that makes it the perfect time to resolve to do things differently. So, to help you get this new year started out right, I’m sharing with you my best resolution tips for breastfed babies.

1) Start sleeping through the night. Your parents, specially mommy, will have more energy to do fun things like build block towers for you to knock over, create Pinterest worth play dates, and make you handmade outfits. Maybe even wash her hair every day.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Just kidding, you don’t want to do that! Specially not if you’re still breastfeeding lots. It’s SUPER DUPER important you wake up lots and lots to have mama milks at night and sleep nurse too, check it out here. Did you know that mommies’ bodies make more milk at night? By breastfeeding all the time at night, you help mama make more milkies for you and that’s even better than block towers. Pinterest play dates are over rated anyway and let’s be honest, you’d rather be naked than wear a cute outfit that you’re just going to get snot on anyway.

2) Teeth mostly at night. Those chompers HURT coming in but once you have them and you can eat things like carrots, you’re going to be glad you have them. But getting them is no fun. The best way through that though is to make sure you have undivided parental attention which means, night time. There’s nothing else going on, they’re just trying to sleep and you know how boring that is, which means they have nothing better to do than just hold you while you loudly inform them of your suffering. And that also means it’s good mama milks time which can help you feel a little better. Sometimes. Sometimes everything hurts no matter what but at least you have mommy right there all night long.

3) Build up your immune system. What’s the immune system? I don’t really know but I know my mommy sometimes loves my immune system and sometimes hates it. I’ve learned somethings though, like getting exposed to stuff helps your immune system and though my mommy doesn’t like it when I put stuff in my mouth I find on the ground, she says hopefully it’s just building a strong immune system. So I like to help. By licking shopping cart handles, chewing on tables when we’re out to eat, and finding out what the poles we find on our walks taste like. My mommy doesn’t like it but I’m just helping my immune system. You don’t want a weak one, start tasting the seats the next time you go to the doctor’s office!

4) Be patient while mommy showers, best if you nap during it. Mommy’s get stinky. You don’t want a stinky mommy, this year, help her get clean. Her hair will be so pretty and when you give her snuggles she’ll smell so nice.

Tricked ya!

I understand playing in the water, I love baths and going swimming but I don’t understand mommy’s fascination with dumping water on her head and using soap. Yuck. Worse, she washes away her yummy mama smell! I hate that. So as soon as she gets out of the shower, when I’m done freaking out because I see with my own eyes that she didn’t totally disappear and wash away forever, I have to have mama milks. RIGHT AWAY. Before she is finished drying off, before she gets dressed, and before I forget. You must do this every time, having some bobbies will help her smell much better after a shower. If you can, help her get some mama milk all over by dribbling it on her tummy, spitting up on her clean outfit, or crying as she’s getting dressed so she leaks on her clothes. That will fix it right up, if you do it right, she won’t even smell like she ever even took a shower within an hour.

5) Smile. A smile is like magic. When you smile, people smile back. When you’re really little, smiling is just fun. When you get a little bigger, smiling is a tool. Like when you wake up in the middle of the night crying, when you see a parental unit, smile and even if they aren’t too happy about being woken up (serious question here, why do grown ups actually seem to like sleep? Isn’t that silly?) they can’t help but smile back. When you start being able to climb and you climb something you’re not supposed to (I know, I know, why did they put it there if they didn’t want you to climb it?) charm them as they attempt to redirect you (don’t lose your focus though!) and they’ll start thinking maybe it’s ok for you to climb because you smiled. Then you’ll really know how to use a smile when you do the fun things you’re not supposed to, like rub all the diaper salve all over mommy’s bedspread, or pour shampoo all over the bathroom floor and have all your toys go skating in it, or climb up the counter and use the fluffy flour stuff to make it snow in the kitchen… Fix it all with a smile. When they find you (I find the best time to do this is when they go potty and actually close the door so you can’t keep them company, why don’t grown ups want company when they go poopie?), give them a BIG smile and invite them to join you in the most fun ever! It helps a lot and maybe they’ll let you keep having fun (probably not).

Smile! Sugarbaby thought this was ok because it seemed like a game of "jump out of daddy's arms to get to mommy."

Smile! Sugarbaby thought this was ok because it seemed like a game of “jump out of daddy’s arms to get to mommy.”

6) Think about liking other grown ups. Mommy is your favorite, obviously, she has the mama milks. But you could consider sometimes hanging out with another grown up for a little bit. It could be fun. You could discover something new. You might even like it.

HAHAHAHAHAHA! Gotcha again!

You don’t want to do that! She might SHOWER! And it’s important you always keep an eye on the mama milks, silly.

That’s it babies, hope your new year is off to a great start. Share your wisdom here for other Leaky babies, we all have to stick together! Happy New Year!

Happy Breastfeeding,

~ Sugarbaby

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