For the Mom That Needs To Be Cared For: How About VIP MommyCon Tickets and Earth Mama Angel Baby Swag?

by Jessica Martin-Weber

When we’re lonely, exhausted, and confused, parenting gets harder. When we’re sore, conflicted, and struggling, despair can creep in. So can resentment and anger and doubt. Burn out.

 

And when feeding our baby isn’t as natural as we thought it would be, our confidence can erode. Not just in the short term, it can leave a quiet burning question in our core than leads to us feeling unworthy every step of our parenting journey.

 

You guys, parenting is a long road.

 

Our children deserve to have parents that are supported, parents that are connected, parents that are healing, parents that are growing.

 

Some of us get to have trying to conceive stories that are easy and fun. Some of us get to have pregnancy experiences that are glowing and radiant. Some of us get to have birthing ways that are moving and empowering. Some of us get to enjoy infant feeding journeys that are simple and sweet.

 

Some of us don’t.

 

All of our stories matter. Hearing and sharing all of them help not only us in sharing them but others in hearing them. And seeing them. And sharing them again.

 

Normalizing parenting, normalizing motherhood.

 

Earth Mama Angel Baby, The Leaky Boob, and MommyCon are teaming up to help us do just that. Together. Because we don’t have to go this parenting road alone.

 

For 2016 I’m headed to Seattle, Austin, DC, Costa Mesa, Orlando, and San Jose with MommyCon thanks to the support of Earth Mama Angel Baby. Earth Mama Angel Baby founder, Melinda Olsen and I sat down over lunch and shared our stories with each other and our shared belief that supporting parents and nurturing mothers is caring for babies and the future generations. My dear friend poured her wisdom into me , impressing on me even more the importance of meeting mom’s where they are and celebrating the love they give. MommyCon is all about that and building community around the country that facilitates those very same goals.

 

So we’re working together to help make it happen.

 

Inspired by the thousands of women who have shared their feeding stories with me, I’ll be talking at MommyCon about What Love Tastes Like- Feeding with love and the impact of infant feeding on long term parenting with a look at the importance of telling our stories and how we do so.

 

It would be wonderful to see you there.

 

Which is why we’re having a giveaway! A little bit of Earth Mama Angel Baby care and 6 pair of tickets. Five lucky winners will get to take themselves and a friend or a partner to MommyCon in the city of their choice and receive a Little Something For Baby from Earth Mama Angel Baby and one lucky winner with receive the grand prize bundle of Jessica’s Favorite Things from Earth Mama Angel Baby and a pair of tickets to the MommyCon event of winner’s choice with a VIP upgrade to the Earth Mama Angel Baby VIP event with me (retail value: $284.89).

 

EMAB-Moommycon

Giveaway

1 lucky grand-prize winner will receive:

Jessica’s Favorite Things from Earth Mama Angel Baby. ($184.89 retail value.)

2 tickets to the 2016 MommyCon City of your choice with Earth Mama Angel Baby VIP upgrade with The Leaky Boob. ($100 value.)

5 lucky winners will receive:

1 Earth Mama Angel Baby A Little Something For Baby with tiny tote bag. ($19.95 retail value.)

2 tickets to the 2016 MommyCon City of your choice. ($90 value.)

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Babywearing: A Modern Adaptation for Parents

by Reina Christian, Baby K’tan, LLC

This post made possible by the support of Baby K’tan

BK-Banner

 

Parenting is hard. Sure, it’s been happening for a very long time but it’s still hard. Full of challenges. For some parents, more than others.

 

While many of us feel overwhelmed with the beautiful task that is caring for and bringing up children when we aren’t dealing with mobility difficulties or chronic pain, there are parents that face challenges that amplify the everyday aspects of parenting that can seem exhausting in their own right to untold degrees. Yet every day, parents with limited physical resources love and care for their children, fighting through their own pain to be present and connected with their precious little ones. Forging their own path in their parenting journey, these are some of the bravest parents you’ll ever meet who know the meaning of sacrifice and give new meaning to ingenuity.

 

For the love of their children.

 

For parents with physical obstacles, finding and creating alternatives for navigating their parenting terrain is essential. In a world set up to work for a certain privileged group, many parents that don’t fit that mold look for ways to make it work for them. Babywearing for adaptive parents opens up connection and closeness.

 

When something comes along that helps, it is celebrated.

 

Just at the very center of the Baby K’tan story sits inventor Michal Chesal’s son Coby. Born with Down syndrome, his condition was the reason Chesal went to work exploring a babywearing option that would be crucial for offering her son the best possible development during the early stages. The result was a carrier that supported his low muscle tone contrary to the other carriers available on the market 13 years ago.

co-brand image for babykatan

 

Today, the Baby K’tan Baby Carrier has grown to be a popular option for all caregivers wanting to carry their little ones. What Michal didn’t realize at the time, was that the product she invented for her son with disabilities would soon become an important necessity and mainstay for caregivers who themselves live with disabilities. For some, the carrier doesn’t just offer a more convenient way to carry a baby, but rather the only way to carry or hold a baby.

 

Parents with disabilities bring a special gift to their parenting: they understand the need for adapting.

 

The first time Michal realized that her invention could help parents living with disabilities was when her sister Chumi used the Baby K’tan to carry one of her nieces. Chumi suffers from a neurological pain disorder that doesn’t allow her to walk or hold weight on her legs. While in a wheel chair, Chumi can use the carry her many nieces and nephews safely without putting weight on her lap which can cause intense pain. Like Chumi, for parents and other caregivers utilizing a wheelchair, babywearing may provide a safe option for connection, bonding, and to be able to accomplish the practical aspects necessary for daily life. For some, this is the only way they can hold their babies.

 

“I knew I was creating something that would benefit my son, but I never imagined that it would become essential for some parents and never in my wildest dreams would have thought it could be the only way some parents hold their babies,” says Chesal, president and co-owner of Baby K’tan, LLC.  

Adaptive Parents 

When Samantha Rawagah gave birth to her baby boy, her father was delighted to know that he would soon have a grandson to do all the things that Grandpas are supposed to do with their grandchildren. Only one thing was standing in the way. Mr. Rawagah is a paraplegic and uses a wheelchair to get around. With limited use of his arms, he feared not being able to hold his grandson. Samantha’s solution was to put a Baby K’tan on her dad. The result was a match made in heaven – the perfect way for Mr. Rawagah to hold his grandson close to his heart.

 

Cristine Pyle knows all too well how Mr. Rawagah felt. While Cristine is not confined to a wheelchair, she too is learning how to parent with physical limitations. Cristine has a right hemiparesis that affects both her right arm and leg. She has no functional use of her right arm or hand and has limited mobility, balance, and endurance due to the weakness in her right leg. On her blog, AdaptiveMom.com, Cristine reports on parenting resources for differently-abled parents. With two little ones in-tow, she often relies on babywearing as a way to adapt. Cristine shared her experience of using the Baby K’tan here.

 

When Tabitha Caldwell was just a tot of 3 years old, she was the victim of a gunshot that damaged her spine. The injury resulted in the loss of use of her leg. As an adult, even though doctors warned that she may not be able to have children, she was fortunate to have carried and birthed two children who are now 9 years old and 7 months respectively. Tabitha relies on her baby carrier to assist her with her baby’s reflux as he needs to be held upright for a period of time after eating. Tabitha’s carrier of choice for her needs is the Baby K’Tan and she says that without it, managing his needs would be much more challenging.

 

These stories are at the very center of organizations like Ruckabye Baby, a non-profit whose mission is to provide baby carriers to wounded military members of all branches who have been injured in service to our nation, thereby giving them an extra tool to comfort, bond with, and care for their small children.

 

“Our intent is to not only get the carriers out to service members and their spouses, but to teach them, whether in person or via video conference, how to use the carrier correctly,” says Chelsea Cary, President of Ruckabye Baby. “We work with their care team where appropriate to help the injured service member thrive in this new avenue of parenting.”

 

Parenting with physical challenges is difficult but not impossible and with information, support, and community, there are options. Most importantly, nobody needs to go it alone. Together, we can share adaptive parenting techniques and stories, encouraging each other along the way.

 

Baby K’tan is proud to support the mission of Ruckabye Baby and all of the parents and caregivers with physical limitations and disabilities who rely on babywearing to raise their little ones. We see first hand the value of bonding through babywearing and what it means for all families, believing that everyone benefits.

 

While Chumi, Mr. Rawagah, Cristine, Tabitha and the clients of Ruckabye Baby all use babywearing as a way to assist them with acquired disabilities, using a carrier may be beneficial for those with congenital disabilities who are raising children as well. As a company whose product was invented for a child born with disabilities, the Baby K’tan family is pleased to know that the Baby K’tan Baby Carrier has been able to help other families who learn to adapt in similar situations.

 

All parents can use a little support. Adaptive parents show time and time again they are more than equipped for the task of parenting, we celebrate their strength, creativity, persistence, and most of all their dedication and love.

____________________

To learn more about Baby K’tan, click here.

____________________

Reina Christian, a South Florida native, is the Marketing Manager at Baby K’tan, LLC. After graduating from the University of Florida with a B.S. in Event Management Specialization and a Minor in Business she went on to work in marketing for a number of local non-profits and for-profits. Reina has a strong focus in social media marketing, her interest for which stemmed from the role that social media plays in our growing internet-based society. An emerging marketing leader with a strong passion for branding, she has helped propel Baby K’tan, LLC from a small startup into one of the more prominent companies in today’s growing baby carrier industry.
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Lactation Snack Station Biscuits

by Carrie Saum

Shortcake

When I pumped exclusively for eternity 21 months, I felt hungry pretty much all the time.  Rarely would a two hour window window pass without food needing to make it’s way into my mouth.   I often forgot to grab a snack before I sat down to pump because pumping and babies/toddlers just don’t mix.  Add the lactation fog that overtakes the mommy brain, and you have a recipe for a one hangry lactating lady.

I tried to get in the routine of filling my water and grabbing a snack. But I was forgetful and typically remembered exactly 30 seconds after hooking myself up to a pump for the next lifetime 20 minutes.  After only 8 months, I realized I could do something about this particular problem.  All I had to do was think ahead for a few days at a time and put some snacks at my pump spot and in my pump bag.

But that also meant I had to actually prepare a snack.  Because as much as I love trailmix and coffee, I needed a little more sustenance.  And to be honest, I needed something to look forward to because pumping exclusively is EFFING HARD.  That’s another post, though.

I tried a few different options to get a decent ratio of carbs:protein.  I also needed every single milk booster I could get because my body wanted to quit making milk right around month eight, but my son’s unique health required me to keep going.

I started tinkering with foods that would fit the bill, and could also be stored at my Lactation Station. (Yep, I named the place where I stored my extra water, snacks, nipple cream, coconut oil, homeopathic stress relief remedy, and positive thoughts.) The snack also had to be allergen-friendly because TED was my constant companion for over a year.  It wasn’t ideal. It was pretty awful actually.  But it helped my baby begin his long healing process to severe food allergies, and I discovered I’m gluten-intolerant in the process. (Damnit.)

One of my favorite foods to munch while pumping were these tasty biscuits.  One was totally satisfying and helped me lose the pumping hanger I fell prey to all too often. They were easy to transport, share, and eat on the go.  Plus, they tasted phenomenal with some strawberries and whipped cream.  I’M JUST SAYING.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 2 cups blanched almond flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 2 eggs*
  • 3/4 cup butter, cold and cubed, or melted coconut or avocado oil
  • 1 scant cup tapioca or cassava flour (wheat flour can be substituted)
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey, or other sweetener
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar (omit if using egg replacer)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

*If you want to make this egg-free, go for it!  This can also boost your milk supply. To replace two eggs, I used 2 Tbsp ground flax seeds, 3 Tbsp water, 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar.

Directions:

  1. Combine the almond flour, tapioca flour, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg in a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Add butter to the flour mixture and cut into flour until the butter is in tiny pieces. Or go easy on yourself and whisk in oil.
  3. In a small bowl, combine eggs (or egg replacement), vanilla extract, apple cider vinegar, and honey.  Whisk until fully incorporated.
  4. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until barely combined.
  5. Spoon mixture onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and smush with your hand, or bake in lined muffin tins.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and dust with a *tiny* bit of raw cane sugar. (optional)
  8. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before eating, and cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

ShortcakeBiscuits

Pile with strawberries and whipped topping of your choice for an extra special treat.  Dip them in chocolate or your hopes and dreams.  Or you can just eat them and keep the lactation hangries at bay. Your choice.  Either way, you lactating mamas are my heroes.  Keep on pumping!

Happy Milk Making,
Carrie

*Note: It’s important to point out that most women aren’t going to need to eat food with the intention of upping their milk supply, if everything is working the way it is supposed to, your baby will know how to up your supply just fine themselves. Skin-to-skin and feeding on demand are the best ways to increase breastmilk supply to meet your baby’s needs. (Concerned you have low supply? Read this to help figure out if it is something you need to be concerned about.) For those women, galactalogues just happen and they don’t need to think about it. But some women, like me, do need a boost. As a mom who ended up exclusively pumping and indeed having low supply such that I ended up on medication solely to increase my milk production, I know what it’s like to look for anything, anything at all that would help my body make even just a little more milk to help feed my baby. With the support of my health care providers, we tried everything. It becomes “I will eat all the cookies, I will drink all the shakes, I will eat all the parfaits!” if it even just makes me feel like I’m doing something to address the low supply struggle, it is worth it.

_________________________

If you love this smoothie recipe, you might like this recipe for Paleo Chocolate Chip Granola or these Gluten-Free Strawberry Shortcake on Our Stable Table. 

_________________________

CarrieHeadshot

Carrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices and health knowledge. Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical and service fields.
With background in paramedic medicine, Carrie spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. As an AWC, Carrie currently coaches her clients and their families about topics including nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and the voice behind OurStableTable.com. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.
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Making The Mothering Season Matter: Summer Edition

by Carrie Saum

This summer, I made a few promises to myself. Kind of like a reboot of my New Year’s resolution except better, because SUMMER.

  • I will eat all the vegetables I grow in my garden. (I’m winning that one.)
  • I will take my toddler for an outdoor adventure everyday. (This has happened every day except when we have had record breaking heat.)
  • I will take a shower every single day because I stink when I don’t. (Hahahaha! Yeah. NOPE.)
  • I will eat a real breakfast and no longer count a handful of trail mix and a cup of coffee as a complete meal. (I have replaced trail mix with scraps of my toddler’s rejected breakfast. I’ll call this a wash.)
  • I will pack up the car once a week and take an adventure with my son during the day. (I’m killing it!)

The last two summers have absolutely sucked. I mean that literally and figuratively. I pumped exclusively for my baby for 21 months, spanning the length of two summers. Lugging around the breast pump and a newborn and then a toddler made it tricky to do activities on my own with my son. I still did it, but we stuck closer to home and the mental/emotional/physical/logistical effort was just TOO MUCH.

But this summer? This summer has been redemption.

My BFF and I have been dreaming of having babies and doing fun things together with them. We chose an easy spot close to home for our first excursion. We loaded up all of our stuff and our babies and our courage and struck out for a nearby river. ALL BY OURSELVES.

Echo Adventure Travel

Our sons were less sure than we were about this.

Sweet, child-riddled-but-still-doing-it-anyway Freedom.

We were wild mamas, spreading out blankets and packages of seaweed snacks and mango and splashing in the frigid river with our babies who seemed completely immune to shockingly cold water. We doled out food and milk and took turns corralling our sons who only wanted to eat the sand and make big splashes in the water.

We upped the ante for our next adventure. The coast is about 90 minutes from our front door, so we gathered our courage, planned for the entire day, and set out for the Pacific Ocean like mommy pioneers. In fact, I’m certain we had enough gear to fill a covered wagon.

After two tantrum stops, lunch at a café where our boys behaved like tiny well-behaved adults and never threw a single bit of food or fussed once, a stop for an over-priced dark chocolate bar and lattes, a pee break, and quick conversation about which actual beach to go to, we arrived. A mere four hours later. We were so jubilant that we made it, we didn’t care how long it took us.Echo Beach River

We splashed and played and chased our tiny monsters all over the beach with abandon. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you those 2 hours were positively magical. We learned that beach sand is just as delicious to toddlers as river sand, and nothing is funnier than watching mommy run full speed into the surf to rescue a ball before it is lost to the sea forever.

There were many other adventures this summer, and sometimes involving long rides in the car, and others just a walk around the neighborhood with a low key brunch and bit of thrift store shopping.

There were tantrums and mishaps and close calls and moments when we questioned our sanity, but WE DID IT. And we will do it again.

As autumn approaches, I’m already dreaming up more adventures. It gets a little tricky because of the cold and rain, not to mention indoor play spaces are a total no-go for us because of severe food allergies. But we will keep trying, enjoying and relishing every season. Even if it’s simple.  Even if it’s hard.EchoMommyBeach

We only get to experience our children as children once. It doesn’t need to be magical, but it needs to be memorable for all of the right reasons. For both of us.

____________________

Carrie Saum, headshotCarrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices and health knowledge. Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical and service fields.
With background in paramedic medicine, Carrie spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. As an AWC, Carrie currently coaches her clients and their families about topics including nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and the voice behind OurStableTable.com. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.
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Sexy Oatmeal

by Carrie Saum

Sexy Oatmeal

 

When I was exclusively pumping, I lost interest in oatmeal around month four. Completely. It went the way of my sex drive. Gone. Poof. The end. Oats and penises were unwelcome guests in my body, and it took a while to come back around to both.

As it turns out, I just needed to spice things up a little. Well, okay. That’s not entirely true. I needed to spice things up more than a little. I needed a major boost to my palate, my milk supply and my sex drive.

After doing some research, I discovered a small amount of maca root might boost my sex drive, as well as my milk supply. After having a chat with my doctor and midwife about the possible side effects of maca in breast milk, I felt safe trying it in very small quantities.

I bought some organic maca powder from my favorite local health food store and tasted it. It was pretty gross. I tried mixing it in my coffee. That was worse. I added a half teaspoon to my oatmeal. It wasn’t bad. In fact, I couldn’t taste it.

I choked down quarter of a bowl of oatmeal with the maca. I was still weary of eating oats, so I needed to reinvent them. But what can you do to oats? I mean, at the end of the day, oats are oats, right?

I pumped an hour later and got two ounces more than I typically did at that time of day.

That night, my husband and I were watching TV after putting our son to bed. I had the sudden urge to jump his bones. And I did.

Obviously, the next morning I was determined to make my oatmeal taste decadently delicious. Because it was doing good things for my baby, my body, and my marriage, I needed to make it do good things for my palate. I played with some spice combinations, continuing to add (barely more than a pinch of) maca to my breakfast bowl, and tried dousing it with Indian spices, fresh fruit and nuts. I wanted my oatmeal to taste the way I felt: warm, complex, and sexy.

I know. HOW CAN OATMEAL BE SEXY? But I wanted to dress it up in its most alluring dress with a bra straps slipping, biting it’s lip with smoldering eyes. Ancient maca root and lots of spices do just that. My post-partum body NEEDED me to do that.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups liquid (milk, water, or combination of both)
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 2 Tbsp butter or coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed or flax meal (they’re the same)
  • 2 tsp raw honey or maple syrup
  • ½ tsp maca powder
  • ½ tsp of the following spices:
    • ground coriander
    • ground cardamom
    • ground cinnamon
    • ground tumeric
    • ground ginger (or sub minced candied ginger if you want a little kick and sugar is not a problem for you)
  • pinch of salt
  • dash of vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Combine liquid, salt, oil and spices and bring to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil. (If you are using milk, you will need to stir constantly.)
  2. Add oats, vanilla and flax meal, and stir well.
  3. Cook over medium low heat for 20 minutes, stirring often, until thick and creamy, or it reaches your desired consistency. Add maca powder in at the end and mix well.
  4. Top with sliced almonds or pecans, sliced bananas, and a little raw honey or brown sugar.

Disclaimer One: Too much maca might make you a little testier than usual. It can ramp everything up, including your emotions. It stokes the fires. ALL THE FIRES. So, use restraint when adding it to your oats.

Disclaimer Two: Maca has been used for centuries to naturally support hormone balance, and but you might want to run it by your doctor to be on the safe side. If I took too much, it revved my son up for a few hours. If you or your trained medical professional person feel uncomfortable with the maca, you can omit it. It will still work great with the flax and oats.

Disclaimer Three: Be sure to stock up on condoms or your favorite birth control. Or don’t and make another baby. Either way, this could possibly boost your libido, so be prepared.

Disclaimer Four: Sex after baby can be tricky (some tips from HIM on better sex after baby here, some tips from HER on better sex after baby here.). While a little maca helped my struggling libido, it doesn’t work for everybody. Because everybody’s body is different. So, go easy on yourself, and know there is support for you wherever you’re at.

_______________________

If you love this smoothie recipe, you might like this recipe for Paleo Chocolate Chip Granola or these Gluten-Free Strawberry Shortcake on Our Stable Table.

_______________________

*Note: It’s important to point out that most women aren’t going to need to eat food with the intention of upping their milk supply, if everything is working the way it is supposed to, your baby will know how to up your supply just fine themselves. Skin-to-skin and feeding on demand are the best ways to increase breastmilk supply to meet your baby’s needs. (Concerned you have low supply? Read this to help figure out if it is something you need to be concerned about.) For those women, galactalogues just happen and they don’t need to think about it. But some women, like me, do need a boost. As a mom who ended up exclusively pumping and indeed having low supply such that I ended up on medication solely to increase my milk production, I know what it’s like to look for anything, anything at all that would help my body make even just a little more milk to help feed my baby. With the support of my health care providers, we tried everything. It becomes “I will eat all the cookies, I will drink all the shakes, I will eat all the parfaits!” if it even just makes me feel like I’m doing something to address the low supply struggle, it is worth it.

_______________________

IMG_2895Carrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices and health knowledge.
Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical and service fields. With background in paramedic medicine, Carrie spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. As an AWC, Carrie currently coaches her clients and their families about topics including nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and author. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son and writes atOurStableTable.com.
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You Are Gold — A Letter To My Son’s Milk Donor

Dear Allison,

Thank you for giving my son life.

ThrivingOnDonorMilk

My unlikely squishy baby.

I don’t want to get crazy on you here, but let me be totally transparent: I can’t imagine what my family would look like without that liquid gold.  Your gold.  Your life-force alchemy.

Thank you.

I know what it’s like to hook yourself up to a pump every day, mulitple times a day, for months on end.  Extracting that milk, creating extra steps, extra dishes, extra work while engaging in the most extra energy exerting time of your life with a newborn clutched to one breast as the pump cranks on the other.  You never even hinted at the burden I knew it was for you. You handled it with an elegant grace I unreservedly admire.

Last year, I found myself stuck in a nightmare with my eight month old son. My sweet baby had severe food allergies (here’s what I want you to know about FPIES), and needed more milk than I could produce.  My breasts, the ones that were meant to feed him, began to fail us both.  Even after all of the nutrition and support and finally pharmaceutical medication, I could not raise my milk supply to keep up with his demand.  Exclusive pumping, unimaginable stress, sick baby, hormone shifts, whatever.  You name it, it contributed to the decrease in my milk.

Formula was a risky option for my son, even the expensive elemental ones that work for 99.9% of infants with food allergies.  We had no guarantee my son’s compromised system could tolerate the pre-digested proteins, as many other babies with his syndrome are unable to. I prayed. I researched. I lit candles and called formula companies and looked into every conceivable way to feed my son that did not require actual food.

LastDonorBottle

My son’s last bottle of Allison’s donor milk from Texas.

And then my phone rang and you were on the line, understanding with your medical knowledge and feeling it all with your tender heart, and asked if you could give my son your milk.

I cried.  With my back literally against the wall, sitting on the floor of my bedroom, muffling my relieved sobs, I accepted your gift with the undeniable knowledge there was no way I could ever pay this gift forward, much less pay you back. With a newborn baby who needed your milk and a toddler who needed your attention, a full-time job and active community involvement, you offered to close the gap for us.  You added one more thing to your very full plate and you did it with grace and strength and love.

Every few weeks, a box would arrive, overnighted from Texas to Oregon, dry ice all but disintegrated in a custom styrofoam cooler. (One of many coolers you recruited your friends to save for you to ship your milk to us.)  You pumped your milk, froze it, picked up the cooler from your friend, loaded it all into your car, bought dry ice, carefully constructed the layers of dry ice and newspaper and milk inside the cooler, put that cooler in a box and took it to the shipping place with a hope and a prayer that all your hard work and irreplaceable milk would travel 2,000 miles and still be frozen when it arrived.  You, who had a million and one things to do, found time and capacity to do one more (hard) thing.  And you never complained.

I followed a strict elimination diet, and at one point I could only safely eat 11 foods without causing my son’s gut to bleed and his weight to drop.  You altered your diet, too.  You ate the same tiny list of foods because you loved my son that much.  You restricted your menu and dilligently read every label and questioned every ingredient before eating a single bite in order to keep my son safe. You were full of encouraging words and creatively figured out what to eat when you couldn’t really eat anything and shared your food hacks with me.

Last summer, after seven months of pumping and freezing and shipping, you called me in tears.  Your milk was almost gone, drying up to barely a trickle.  I cried, too. I offered to send back what milk I had left in my freezer for your daughter.  The milk belonged to her. YOU are HER mama.  That milk was made for her. I was adamant.

You said no.

Unbeknownst to me, you had already tried other supplemental options and she responded well. “My baby is healthy. We can still nurse. And two more weeks of freezer milk will buy you time to find another way.”  And you were right.  We found another way.  Another donor, (your sister). And another donor after that, (my best friend). And eventually, another supplementation my son’s body accepted.

You gave my son seven months of milk.  Seven months to heal and thrive without taxing his little body even more.  Seven months of weight gain. Seven months of knowing he had all the milk he needed and more.  You gave me seven months of relief knowing my son would not just live, but he would thrive. Seven months of a little more sleep, a little less stress. Seven months of hope.
Donors

Three of my closest friends, years before we had babies, on the night before my wedding. Each of them gave their milk to my son. Allison, the woman in green, was our main donor.

I know our friendship is life-long and this donor bond goes deeper than words can express.  But I also know you.  You with your elegant grace, generous heart, deep well of love, creative time and resource management, and desire to change the world in your strong, quietly fierce way.  I know you.
And I know you would have done this for anyone.
You, my alchemist soul sister, are pure gold.
With love and gratitude,
C
P.S. ~ My son received milk from a total of six different women over the course of 14 months, all of whom I want to acknowledge and thank from the depths of my mama soul:
  • Two friends in Texas (including his main donor, Allison)
  • One visiting friend from England (and sister to Allison)
  • My BFF who supplied milk for several months after our main donor could not continue.
  • My midwife who learned she was pregnant about an hour before my son was born and donated her baby’s colostrum.
  • A friend of a friend I met only once, but for whom I feel much gratitude.
 _________________________________________________________________________If you like this post, check out How Jimmy Fallon Saved My Morning Milk and I Am A Sh*tty Friend over on our sister site, Our Stable Table.


IMG_2895Carrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices and health knowledge. Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical and service fields.
With background in paramedic medicine, Carrie spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. As an AWC, Carrie currently coaches her clients and their families about topics including nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and the voice behind OurStableTable.com. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.
 
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Newsletter: THE NEW MOM- Our Best Advice EVER!

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For the BRAND NEW MUM, or for the NEWLY-MADE-MOTHER in your life, this newsletter edition is just for YOU. Resources curated to keep, share, and change lives plus some special discounts! We welcome you and your new bundle. If that new baby stage is over for you, scroll down to our contribution from our sister sites that have nothing to do with babies and infant feeding for recipes, relationship stories, and reviews.

 

Dear Leakies,

How will parenting change you? Let me count the ways. We’ll start with 4 for now though.

Whether everything went according to the serene picture in your head or nothing like it at all, becoming a new parent is an experience like no other. Largely because all the preparation in the world doesn’t really prepare you and before you know it, parenting is sink or swim.

So you start swimming. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep SWIIIIIIIIIIIIIMING!

The reality is no matter how much you envisioned being a perfect parent, you will fail. I know, not very encouraging. But the sooner you accept that, the better it will be, you are not going to ever be a perfect parent. Parenting will change you and though you won’t be a perfect parent, you ARE the perfect parent for your child(ren). Flaws and all. There are glorious, amazing moments in parenting that will take your breath away. There are sweet, tender moments in parenting that will make you smile and treasure the little things. And yes, there are horrible, nightmarish moments in parenting that will cause you to question what you were thinking getting into this gig in the first place. All of the moments need the other moments.

Three ways parenting will change you:

You will redefine a good night’s sleep. And you’ll be amazed at how little can feel so good. Four months into parenting our second daughter, who had a personal vendetta against sleep, we had our first night with 4 hours in a row. Plus another 2 after that. It was amazing. I celebrated. Never mind that a year before a good night was 10 uninterrupted hours of sleep.

Clean takes on a new meaning too. So just how much like sour milk does that shirt you wore yesterday smell? On a scale of 1-10 if it’s a 7 it may likely pass as wearable.

You will need more storage on your phone. Sure, it’s popular to be annoyed with your friends posting pictures and videos of their kids all the time on social media but, OMG, you should have seen the way she discovered her fingers! You’re going to need more room on your phone.

Patience for yourself. At least I hope parenting changes you this way. If you are a perfectionist, this is particularly hard. In the end though, if you wouldn’t want someone treating your child the way you treat yourself, then you’re going to need to model that with how you treat yourself. Patience is key.

You’ve got this. You will keep swimming.

And for some of the more fun parts of parenting a newborn, see these 12 signs that you’re breastfeeding a newborn here.

Scroll down for more support for new parents, a great coupon code (20% off!) for a top that will convert all your shirts into breastfeeding tops, and for topics well beyond those baby days, see the sections from our sister sites OurStableTable.com andBeyondMoi.com.

GO HERE for an exclusive coupon code and MORE!

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Discounts, Giveaway, Milk, and Moving!

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Dear Leakies,

I’m going to keep this short and sweet:

LET’S GET MOVING!

It’s time for #TLBmoves and we’re working up a sweat and to an awesome giveaway with our friends from Tula, ThinkBaby ThinkSport, Belabumbum Active Wear, and Eyla’s Imports. Find out more information here.

Whatever it looks like for you, we’re supporting each other on getting moving towards health and wholeness. For many of us, learning about and then actually feeding our babies was the gateway to more conscientious living, a sort of snowball effect. Establishing health habits as a way of life is, of course, a good thing. And the family that moves together is healthy together. (For some inspiration, here’s 100 years of fitness fads in 100 seconds video fun.) Share your journey with us using the hashtag #TLBmoves on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and if you’d like to go deeper, submit your story like Kelsey by emailing [email protected].

I’m enjoying moving with my family and I’m moving closer and closer to Milk! Bringing together many of the people who inspire me, I’ve created Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference with Xza Higgins, founder of MommyCon. Taking place in L.A. July 31st and August 1st, this conference is for health care providers (offering continuing education credits and contact hours) and families. Founded on the belief that infant feeding support makes a difference and can directly influence confidence levels in parents, MiLK focuses on information sharing and mindful support that builds parents up without tearing down, respecting the unique journey of each of us. MiLK aims to actively educate and support infant feeding by connecting health care providers and the families they care for discussing breastfeeding, formula feeding, breastmilk pumping, at the breast supplementing, bottle feeding, cup feeding, spoon feeding… FEEDING. This is not, to be clear, a breastfeeding conference. It is an infant feeding conference with a goal of bringing together health care providers and parents where we can learn from each other. Most importantly, I hope we learn how to really listen and what support can really looks like.

To help you move that direction with me, we have a huge giveaway that includes enough tickets for your local breastfeeding group! For that extra newsletter entry option, GET YOUR INFORMATION HERE!

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#TLBMoves: Kelsey’s Story-Changing Her Life to Inspire Others

by Kelsey Daniels

*Editor’s Note: I have had the pleasure of being close friends with Kelsey and her family over the past few years as our two families have grown! I hope that her story inspires you, Leaky. She has been instrumental in encouraging me to  jumpstart taking care of myself with #TLBMoves. If you’d like to continue being inspired by Kelsey and her journey to health, check out her Instagram feed @kelseyjdaniels and Join our Private Group on Facebook!

 

When I became a mom, it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. But to be honest, I kind of lost myself.

I devoted 100% of my time into taking care of my three little boys.

I completely forgot to take care of myself.

 

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Beginning and Current: Kelsey’s Journey!

 

I used my kids as an excuse for not taking care of my body.I was too busy, too tired, and felt too far gone to do anything about it.

I was surviving motherhood, and not enjoying it at all.

Finally, I decided it was no longer okay for me to use my kids as an excuse to be 50+ lbs. overweight and 11692749_10152852661372100_6381956419378480368_neat nothing but junk. It was time for change. I started eating well, working out daily, and had a killer group of friends to hold me accountable to my goals.

I quickly fell in love with taking care of my body, and my kids quickly took notice! I now feel good about what I’m putting in my body, and I don’t feel guilty when I nurse my little Samson, because I know he’s getting the very best things from me. It’s been just over three months and I’ve lost 25lbs and over 23 inches.

It’s so wonderful to know I’m making my way towards a healthier me, but the best part?

I’ve found myself again.

I matter.

And my family is benefitting from me being well cared for!

I’ve found time in my day just for ME, and it’s amazing how thats affected being a mom, wife, and friend.

I am now the example to my kids that I feel good about.11137182_10152859116892100_8961811249812096667_n

They are my reason why, not my excuse!

 

I did it.

I’m still doing it.

YOU CAN DO THIS.

Together we can change!

From This Leaky To You,

-Kelsey

 

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Kelsey, her husband, and their 3 amazing boys live and work at a youth camp in McCall, Idaho. Kelsey is also a stay-at-home mum and is a coach for Beachbody Fitness! Some of her family’s favorite activities include watersliding, hiking, watching Avatar The Last Airbender, inspiring youth to live enriched lives, and playing pirates with their boys! To follow Kelsey and be inspired by her journey to better health, follow her Instagram @Kelseyjdaniels

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Epic MiLK! The Leaky Times Newsletter Vol.8

by Kileah McIlvain

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Dear Leakies,

This may come as a shock, but I’m not passionate about breastfeeding.

Which is why I hope you all can join me at Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference on August 1st in Los Angelas, CA. This conference is all about bringing together everyone involved in infant feeding conversations to learn how to listen, share information, and offer true support. Support that isn’t possible when we’re judging and shaming individuals.

Nearly every day we hear from moms they concern about how they are feeding their baby. Guilt weaves through their words. With heartbreak they share their story, aching at what they perceive to be failure and hoping we can offer some magic fix. We tell them all the same thing.

Feed the baby. That’s the first rule of infant feeding care, FEED THE BABY. Because no matter what methodology, the baby must be fed. Not feeding the baby IS failure.

If there were a first rule of infant feeding support, it should be “DON’T BE A JERK.” Followed closely by “SUPPORT THE PERSON OVER THE METHODOLOGY.” Being a jerk and supporting a methodology over people IS failure.

Feeding the baby isn’t failure.

Sometimes, the people that should be the most supportive, end up offering unsupportive support.

READ MORE HERE!

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