Friends in low, I mean GREAT places!

The Leaky Boob has brought me friends I would not otherwise have had the chance to know.  So many incredible people have become a part of my ever growing community, people I can count on, share with, commiserate with, and learn from.  From fellow parents on this journey to experts in lactation and maternal health, from fellow bloggers sharing their lives, experiences, and knowledge to inspiring parenting supporters.  People like you.

MommyCon brings many of these people together and I’ve had the chance to meet many of my online friends in real life.  And I’m all like:

“They’re real!”

“They aren’t imaginary!”

“I’m a real boy!”

Fine, not the last part.  But it’s still pretty exciting to meet so many, I consider dancing and singing.

Instead, I hold the camera.

Which turned out quite nicely for me this last weekend in Philly for MommyCon with Jamie from The Baby Guy NYC and January from Birth Without Fear following our different VIP meet and greet playdate events.  I got to capture this…

I love it!  Aren’t they great?  I’ve got friends in GREAT places!  As much fun and as talented as they are at karaoke after a long day of meeting people, they are even better at what they really do: supporting moms and families.  Ask Jamie about any baby gear and he can give you facts and information plus the pros and cons compared to other products.  January offers support with information and encouragement surrounding pregnancy and birth.  Genuine and real, they are all about fostering engagement.  And MommyCon takes that to a whole different level where fun, community, and genuine support combine to create a space that nurtures the nurturer and develops friendships.  Thanks to Motherlove Herbal Company, I’m so looking forward to speaking at the rest of the upcoming MommyCons this year in Portland, Oregon and Kansas City, Kansas as well as participating as a speaker for the first ever BabyWearing World Record event in Los Angeles, California thanks to Moby Wrap.

Continuing and sharing the fun, we’re doing a giveaway to celebrate!  Though I can’t promise karaoke at future MommyCons I know for certain we’re going to have a great time.  I’d love to meet you there and now you have a shot at going for FREE!  MommyCon, Motherlove, and Moby are teaming up with me for this announcement to giveaway 3 prizes:

Friends in great places Portland prize pack: two tickets including the VIP Leak and Great to MommyCon Portland, a trio of Motherlove salves (diaper rash and thrush, nipple salve, and green salve), one Moby wrap, and one Beco Soleil.

Friends in great places Kansas City prize pack: two tickets including the VIP Leak and Great to MommyCon Kansas City, a trio of Motherlove salves (diaper rash and thrush, nipple salve, and green salve), one Moby wrap, and one Beco Soleil.

Friends in great places Los Angeles prize pack: two tickets to the Babywearing World Record event, a trio of Motherlove salves (diaper rash and thrush, nipple salve, and green salve), one Moby wrap, and one Beco Soleil.

Use the widget below to enter.  Please note, this giveaway is available only to those in the USA and Canada.

MommyCon Motherlove Moby Beco giveaway

My only requests of the winners?  That I get to meet you in person and take a picture together, ok?
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Community and sex

Beyond Moi Jessica and Jeremy Martin-Weber

Community and sex.

Those 2 really don’t sound like they go together.  They don’t.  Not really.  But I’m talking about them on May 19th at MommyCon Austin anyway, just not at the same time.

Well, I’m not planning to talk about them at the same time.  We’ll see what happens.  You never really know.  Because when you’re talking about finding your parenting community talking about what made you a parent in the first place may just come up.

I had a great time at MommyCon Las Vegas even though I got asked to cover at the lunch by someone unaffiliated with MommyCon in a kind of bizarre turn of events.  That incident aside, the whole experience was a lot of fun.  Getting to meet the companies sponsoring, connecting with the moms and other presenters, making new friends, and talking about parenting… and sex.  In that space of 24 hours, I saw moms (and dads) connect, broadening and deepening their community while educating themselves and finding encouragement along the parenting journey.

Personally, I’ve never really been a fan of “mom” events.  They tend to scare me.  Like an extension of high school I always seem to be wearing the wrong brands, sporting the wrong hair style, and blundering into the wrong topics in conversation.  Between laughing at the wrong things at times and not getting why everyone else was laughing at other times, I have typically felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb at mom events.  Instead of leaving encouraged and with friends, I tended to leave feeling more alone than when I came.

So it was with some trepidation that I agreed to speak at MommyCon.  Like being the awkward kid stuck standing up naked in front of everyone in a crazy nightmare, I figured speaking at a mom centered event could only be worse than attending one.  Even better, I was talking about being an imperfect parent and sex, because what could be more awkward than that?  But if The Leaky Boob has taught me anything, it’s that we all need community and having someone be openly honest about the struggles they’re having can be all it takes to unleash a torrent of support from those that have been in that same place.  Every time I see a Leaky open up and share vulnerably I am amazed at how powerful it is not only for them but for those that were quietly struggling and feeling alone.  So I went, opened up, and found my own connections with others, some that have had similar journeys and some that have had wildly different ones.

And it wasn’t nearly as scary as I expected.  In fact, I’ve signed up to go again this time sponsored by Kanga Care and talking about finding our parenting community and why we need it.

But this time I get to go with my family and The Piano Man is joining me from our joint blog Beyond Moi, to have the sex talk.  I’m really looking forward to our session sharing in a relaxed setting what 16 years of marriage, several years as marriage mentors, and books and counselors have taught us when it comes to sex.  Honest and forthcoming, we’re not ones to sugar coat or pretend nor pander to stereotypes.  We will, however, be sharing some Milk Maker Cookies at our session on sex.  And going beyond the grown up sex talk for couples, we’ll share how we approach the topic with our own children and encourage dialogue about how our own attitudes, experiences, and perspectives of sex as parents can influence our children.  We can move beyond ourselves and our fear of having “the talk” with our children and into developing a healthy perspective on sex for ourselves and our children.

Community and sex.  There’s no avoiding these issues in real life and as moms and dads, recognizing the value of both and coming to terms with their place in our lives helps us guide our children.  We need each other and we need to be bold enough to talk about these realities.

If you’re going to be at MommyCon Austin, Jeremy and I will be around and we’ll have some goodies with us to share thanks to the great companies we felt comfortable partnering with to sponsor our sessions at MommyCon Austin.  Find me (Jessica) and let me know just how RUMPTASTIC MommyCon is and the first 20 I talk to that say so will receive a free Rumparooz cloth diaper from Kanga Care and a fun something for anyone after that.  Talk to Jeremy and tell him how much you enjoy cookies and milk because he’s giving out Milk Makers Cookies and not just to breastfeeding moms.

_________________________

Joining us at MommyCon in Austin on the 19th?  We’d love to meet you.  There’s a code just for TLB readers to get $10 off their registration, just use Leakyboob when you buy your tickets.  Need a better deal than that?  Enter to win a pair of tickets as a couple!  Along with a pair of tickets to MommyCon Austin, this prize bundle includes a Beco Soleil with drool pads in the winner’s choice of Micah or Stella, a Kanga Care Rumparooz in the new print Dexter and one in crimson, and a $50 gift certificate to Milk Makers Cookies!  Use the widget below to be entered.

 

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Fear and Breastfeeding in Las Vegas

Breastfeeding is not porn, nudity, or obscene The Leaky Boob

Since starting The Leaky Boob 2.5 years ago I have said and photographed things I would never have imagined doing before.  I’ve said things such as “breastfeeding is not about sex, it’s about feeding a baby.”  Nothing like stating the obvious.  Most recently was texting my husband “do you know where that nudie card is I brought back from Vegas?  I need it.”  Yep, I brought a nudie card home from Vegas.

Say “Las Vegas” and most of us conjure up images of slot machines, black jack tables, show girls, stripers, booze, and buffets with obscene quantities of food.  Sex and money seem to flow freely.  Clothing requirements are little more than sequins, triangles, stars, and stilettos for women, the range is a little more diverse for men.

Say “mommy conference” and you probably picture babies in strollers or carriers, baby toys, tennis shoes, snack cups, and a chatty group of women.  Breastmilk and cheerios seem to flow freely.  Clothing requirements range from diapers and onesies or soft outfits in bright colors for the smaller ones in the crowd and something comfortable covered in spit up for the adults.

Say “mommy conference in Las Vegas” and you might get a little confused.

However, as much as it may seem like a collision of 2 very different worlds, the MommyCon conference in Las Vegas hosted at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino was anything but confused.  It was fun, vibrant, and sometimes a little comical (I doubt Vegas has ever seen so many babies in carriers going through their casinos).  The Flamingo Hotel did a great job securing extra cribs for the influx of young guests and the conference area hosted workshops like dancing with your baby and it didn’t even involve a pole.  While there was room for improvement, the host hotel handled the influx of moms and dads with babies and young children well and the juxtaposition wasn’t as weird as I anticipated.  I was thrilled to be there as a speaker and enjoyed my first ever trip to Las Vegas.  It seemed appropriate that I was in Vegas speaking about Sex, Lies, Parenting, and the Rest.  I had a great time with my fellow speakers and meeting the attendees of the event.

I have breastfed 6 children now, in all different settings, sometimes covered and sometimes not.  Over time, however, I stopped covering completely thanks to babies that fought the cover, me realizing that I don’t show much when I feed my baby, and eventually a belief that covering was actually hindering breastfeeding for some women either because they didn’t see others doing it or because they couldn’t navigate breastfeeding in public with a cover.  In all my breastfeeding in public experience, I have never, not once, been asked to cover or leave.  There have been times I thought I received disapproving looks or was shunned for feeding but I’ve never experienced any kind of real negativity about my feeding my baby.  Actually, I’ve experienced several positive and affirming exchanges as I fed my babies in public, more people expressing support than disapproval.  Today I’m experienced and confident when I feed my babies, well practiced and well informed about my baby’s right to eat.  Even now though, when I need to feed my baby in a public setting I will have a moment of anticipatory nervousness as though I expect something to happen.

Flamingo hotel

Feeding Sugarbaby at the Tropical Breezes cafe at the Flamingo in Las Vegas

Except in Vegas at a mommy conference that highlighted breastfeeding and where I was speaking because I created “The Leaky Boob.”  It didn’t even occur to me that someone could have a problem with me breastfeeding there, of all places.

Following my first talk in the morning of Friday, January 4, 2013, I met up with my friend, Sue, who was helping take care of my 8 month old daughter, who I call Sugarbaby, while I spoke.  We decided to have lunch in the Flamingo’s Tropical Breeze Cafe so I could feed my baby and myself before speaking at another session after the break.  Wearing a simple button up shirt and a Rumina Nursingwear tank with Bamboobies breastpads (I may be The Leaky Boob but I didn’t want to leak during my talks), I fed my hungry baby shortly after we were seated while we skimmed the menu.  She was hungry and had missed me so she got down to business pretty quickly and stayed focused.  Our server brought us our drinks and a random cup of coffee neither of us ordered and took our food order.  As we sat joking about the random cup of coffee and waiting for our food (I think he thought I looked like I could use some caffeine), a lovely woman in a suit approached us.  She smiled and asked us how we were then very politely requested that I use a cover, nodding in the general direction of my baby at my breast.

People, I laughed.  I couldn’t help it.  I laughed and asked her to repeat herself.

After confirming that she was indeed asking me to cover while I fed my baby I returned her smile, barely suppressed my laughter, and informed her of my legal right to breastfeed my baby anywhere my baby and I have the right to be, covered or not.  (Do you know the laws where you are?  This helpful resource compiled by You Can Breastfeed Here is a great place to start to find out.)  Her smile waining ever so slightly and her eyes widening ever so noticeably, she gently, though firmly, informed me that I could do whatever I wanted to do but that if I covered I would be making others feel more comfortable as there had been four tables that complained about what I was doing.

I laughed again.  Harder.  “They do know they are in Vegas, right?” I asked her through my laughter.  Because this is what is on the sidewalks and shoved into the hands of those walking on the strip:

Vegas Nudie card

She looked around and I kept looking at her, still chuckling at the irony of this situation.  She knows that just before walking into her cafe I walked past a platform where that very evening, like every night, a woman exposing far more than I was while feeding my baby, dances with moves intending to sexually entice.  She knows that the sidewalks in front of the hotel are littered with photo cards of naked women with tiny stars on their nipples.  She knows that this very hotel advertises a burlesque show featuring breasts (bare), butts, and spread eagle moves on a video that loops endlessly in each guest elevator.  She knows that the very people that complained have seen all that and probably more in the 10 minutes before they sat at their table.  I know she was just trying to do her job.  I know she had no idea that there was actually a law stating I had the right to breastfeed anywhere my baby and I were legally permitted to be.  I know that in her line of work making the customer happy is a delicate balance when one customer may be making another uncomfortable.  I know that in that moment she was wishing I had never walked into her cafe.  I wondered if news coverage of irate breastfeeding moms flashed through her mind.

When she looked back at me I felt sorry for her.  She was probably a mom, I don’t know, but she wasn’t trying to make my life hard, nor was I trying to complicate her job.  In her mind it was simple, I could cover.  In my mind it was simple as well, putting the comfort of others over my child’s right to eat without a blanket on her head just wasn’t ok.  Her smile gone but her face still pleasant she stated again that I could do what I want but it would really help if I covered.  I thanked her and kindly told her that I would continue feeding my baby as I was.

Note that she didn’t yell at me, she never touched my baby or me, she did not call me names, she did not go over to the tables that complained and loudly inform them that I wouldn’t comply, she didn’t ask me to leave, and she didn’t threaten me in any way.

My friend and I laughed once she walked away, we could hardly talk as we shook with laughter.  Jamie Greyson, TheBabyGuyNYC,  joined us for lunch and we all talked about what had just happened.  This was a big deal but I didn’t want to do much about it before giving the hotel and casino the opportunity to make things right.  As I had another session coming up there wasn’t much I could do in the moment but finish feeding my daughter, eat my lunch, and tweet about the irony of the situation.  Jamie and I both shared the story on Twitter, tagged Flamingo, ordered our food, and discussed the entire situation over our meal before heading to my next session.  We all agreed that how I was feeding Sugarbaby at the moment showed far less than the poster outside the cafe and the cards handed out on the Vegas streets.

Vegas showgirl and breastfeeding mom

Poster outside cafe, me feeding Sugarbaby inside cafe.

Here’s where it gets most interesting.  In the 2.5 years I’ve been running The Leaky Boob I have watched how companies handle such fumbles when they receive public scrutiny for harassing a breastfeeding mothers and precious few navigate the rocky terrain well.  That very weekend Hollister Co was facing a national nurse-in protesting their handling of one of their store managers humiliating a Houston woman for breastfeeding in their Galleria store.  Over a week later and the company still hasn’t responded adequately.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from a Las Vegas hotel and casino but was pleasantly surprised to discover tweets from them responding not only to mine and Jamie’s tweets regarding the situation but individual responses to each of our followers that tweeted Flamingo about the situation as well.  It wasn’t long before I had a direct exchange with Flamingo on Twitter, in direct message, over emails, and then a phone call.  The representatives of the Flamingo asked if they could meet with me before I left and they publicly informed Twitter that they would be working with me to make it right.

My day was full of events and meetings so I was unavailable until Saturday, just before I had to leave.  It would have been easy to brush me off on a Saturday but instead Scott Farber Director of Food Operations, met with me personally Saturday morning to apologize, let me know that he had a meeting with his staff on Friday and informed them of Nevada state law permitting a woman to breastfeed her child where ever she has the legal right to be, and instructing his staff that should customers complain about a woman breastfeeding again they would not address the mother but would work with the customers that complained.  Kind and genuine, Scott laughed with me at the irony of being in Vegas and asked to cover.  Scott offered to make it up to me with a free meal and more and was genuinely concerned about how I was after the experience.  He shared that Estella, the manager, was horrified that she had misstepped in saying anything to me and he extended her apology as well as I didn’t have time to meet with her.  We discussed how the Flamingo could better welcome families and some changes that could be made to do so well.  The possibility of me returning to train their staff and sister hotels to consult with them on how to be set apart in Las Vegas as a family friendly destination came up.  These weren’t the actions of a company that wanted to embarrass their customer families, these were the actions of a company that cared to stand apart and understands the value of doing things right.

Yes, the cafe manager should have been aware of the law prior to asking me to cover but it isn’t a well-known law and probably not something they would have even anticipated needing to know.  Now that they are aware, however, they are responding and preparing to not make the same mistake again.  Instead of ignoring or responding heatedly to the situation, the Flamingo has become a model for other companies that find themselves in what could be a PR disaster.  A company that will receive my repeat business because of how well they handled their mistake.

The problem is a simple fix for the historic Las Vegas hotel and casino and they are well on their way to making it right.  The experience reflects more on society as a whole though.  That the most scandalous sight for some Las Vegas visitors was a baby eating is a little mind boggling.  Thankfully, I’m not easily intimidated, am informed on the law, am more than happy to help educate, and in the end I’m glad this experience happened to me because I believe through it The Leaky Boob and the Flamingo hotel and casino can work together to better support breastfeeding moms be they in Las Vegas or on the other side of the world.  If it happened to someone else it could have greatly damaged their breastfeeding relationship or intimidated them to not risk leaving their home setting them up for postpartum depression and extreme isolation.  Hopefully, by raising awareness others can become informed of the laws and their right to feed their baby and more companies will work to educate their employees on how to better support breastfeeding mothers and more and more mothers won’t have to be afraid to breastfeed their babies in Vegas or anywhere else.

Vegas call card compared to breastfeeding

_______________________________

 The Flamingo Hotel and Casino has asked me for tips and suggestions as to how their staff could handle breastfeeding situations in the future in a way that would be supportive and informed.  

What would be your suggestions?  

What tips would you give the employees that may encounter a breastfeeding pair and possible complaints from other guests?

_______________________________

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Arm’s Reach and MommyCon Announcement and Giveaway

I’m headed to Vegas baby!  I’ve never been, true story.  But now Arm’s Reach Concepts has made it possible for me to meet up with a few hundred other moms at MommyCon- the boutique style conference focusing on natural parenting methods for everyone; single moms, career moms, stay at home moms, and even dads.  I get Vegas and hanging out with like-minded internet friends to talk about breastfeeding, parenting, birth, babywearing, sleeping, sex, growing up, and all other manner of topics related to life as a parent.  There’s even yoga.  Sugarbaby and I can’t wait!  While there I get to lead two sessions, one to talk about “Sex, Lies, Breastfeeding, and the Rest- finding fun and sleep amidst the realities of parenting” and another session called “Growing Together With Our Children“.  Even better, a designated private party to hang with other Leakies!

 

I’m thrilled that MommyCon has put in considerable effort to make this conference affordable.  Staying in a swank Las Vegas hotel AND workshops /seminars with fun and informational presenters such as Jamie Grayson, TheBabyGuyNY and all for a great rate.  At $110 for a single attendance registration and hotel stay or $150 family registration and hotel.  That great rate just got even better, read on for a discount code just for Leakies.  The price can’t be beat for a getaway in Vegas with friends.  It’s great to know that having my 8 month old Sugarbaby in tow at the time won’t be a problem either at this mommy centered event.  To register, go here.  To reserve your space at The Leaky Boob Meet-And-Leak private party on the 3rd, email jessica@mommy-con.com.

One of my favorite companies, Arm’s Reach Concepts, a company that helps families have safe sleeping arrangements, is not only partnering with me to make it possible for me to speak at MommyCon, they are sharing information for parents to make the right sleep choices for their family.  Joining me in Vegas, ARC places great value in supporting parents and producing great products that assist them.  It’s no surprise then that this company is staffed with incredible people that genuinely want to help families get off to a great start.  Innovative and dedicated this company isn’t afraid to think outside the crib which has earned them the endorsement of Dr. Jack McKenna regarding their co-sleeper design.

To get ready for the fun in January, we’re doing 2 exciting giveaways: a single attendance registration (winner is responsible for their own travel) and an Arm’s Reach Concepts Cocoon.  Both of these giveaway items are a great value and all about encouraging and supporting families.  It’s an honor and a pleasure to share these with you.

baby hammock, Arm's Reach, Cocoon

The Beautiful Dreamer Cocoon, a $140 value, is a new product in the ARC family of co-sleeping accessories.  Designed to mimic the feeling of the womb so newborns feel more secure, the hammock bed style Beautiful Dreamer Cocoon cradles baby closely and gently sways in response to baby’s movement.  Perfect for babies birth to 15 pounds The Beautiful Dreamer Cocoon is easy to move around the house, keeping baby close for naps while mom or dad accomplish tasks that need to be done in their day.  The Cocoon is for infants birth to 15 pounds or when child can rollover, whichever comes first.

Sugarbaby and I got to scope out The Beautiful Dreamer Cocoon this past October and while she was just on the edge of being to big for it, we were both big fans.  After spending 3 days on my back at a trade show, a fussy Sugarbaby was done being worn and settled right down when we tried The Cocoon.  In no time at all she was happily kicking and smiling at the soft toys bouncing above her.

Arm's Reach Concepts Cocoon, baby hammock

I talked with Xza Higgins from MommyCon and asked her to share the details of the registration giveaway and some background on why she started MommyCon and what Leakies could expect.

Xza:  MommyCon was founded to bring forward thinking parents together in an environment that promotes; learning, growing and nurturing our offspring.  A big part of why I started MommyCon, was because I was sick of attending mom events that talked about breastfeeding, babywearing, birth, etc. but then receiving a package of formula to take home with me and pamphlets on “when to ask for the epidural.” The seminars didn’t speak to me, and so I began planning babywearing classes, cloth diapering workshops, and car seat checks utilizing my like-minded friends knowledge and experts that I met along the way. I always felt like I was just at one big sales pitch, and that is why I’m dedicated to making MommyCon an event that moms from across the globe want to attend so they can mingle with other mommy’s and learn about things they are passionate about.

Our first event under the MommyCon title is MommyCon Mini and will take place  on January 4, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main event will run from 10am-5pm, but we will have morning yoga for early risers and there will be private meet and greet the evening before with Jessica from The Leaky Boob. MommyCon registration is required to attend the meet and greet on the 3rd, and space is limited. You can email Jessica@mommy-con.com to reserve your space.

MommyCon, Las Vegas

Sample Schedule for MommyCon Mini, 2013

Red Rock 3

9:15AM :              Yoga – Mom and Baby

10:30AM:             Pre and Post-Natal Dance Class with Menina Fortunato

11:30AM:             Babywearing 101 & Wrapping

Lunch Break

1:30PM:               Pre-natal Considerations for Expectant Mom’s

2:30PM:               Car Seat Safety & The Best Seats for Your Family

3:30PM:               Tips for a Greener Home: Saving Money & Protecting Our Planet

 

Red Rock 4

10:00AM              Welcome! Mothering Through Breastfeeding

11:00AM                  The Leaky Boob Growing with Your Children

12:00PM               Cloth Diapering for Modern Families

Lunch Break

2:00PM                 The Leaky Boob presents Sex, Lies and Parenting

3:00PM                        Infant Massage Workshop with Amber Puzzi, LMT

4:00PM                 Jamie Grayson “The Baby Guy NYC” Best of Gear Seminar with thousands of dollars worth of giveaways!

Registration Opens at 8am

Shopping area is Red Rock 2 from 9:30am-5:00pm

Las Vegas hotel

You can register to attend MommyCon by visiting our website and clicking “attend.” We have single tickets, family packs and even hotel and ticket bundles. A ticket to MommyCon is just $50 for a day full of fun, learning and growing together. Children are all welcome to attend, but we do encourage babywearing instead of lugging strollers as there is limited parking for them.

The Leaky Boob readers can receive 10% off tickets and bundles by using code Leaky10 – prize can also be applied to existing MommyCon ticket purchase.

Website

Twitter

Facebook

To be entered for either of these great prizes, check out the widgets below.  Good luck everyone!  Hope to see you at MommyCon, 2013!

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