Father of 6 Shares: Breastfeeding, Bonding, and the Non-Breastfeeding Parent

by Jeremy Martin-Weber

This post made possible by the support of EvenFlo Feeding

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Six times now I have seen my babies experience the sweet bonding power of breastfeeding with their mother. Six times I have marveled at their connection. Six times, in spite of the struggles that accompany the breastfeeding journey, in spite of the pain, the latch issues, the horror of mastitis, the mystery of blebs, the touch fatigue that comes with nursing every couple hours, I have watched these nourishing moments of intimacy with a mix of appreciative awe, compassion for the struggle, and jealousy.

Even though I understand and accept the natural way of things, that women are equipped both with the ability to grow and nourish a baby inside their body and the ability to nourish that baby outside their body, and that men – how should I put this? – aren’t; even though I know this to be a fact of the human experience, I see the connection between them both before birth and after with a twinge of envy.

Especially with our first, I even wondered if I should just accept that my chance to bond with my baby would come… later. Probably months later. Hopefully no more than a year or two. It’s even harder when the baby obviously prefers their mother. We had one of those. I tried not to take it personally. I decided to be present and patiently wait for her to come around, and she did. Eventually.

We’ve all heard just how important it is for babies to bond with their mother, and we also hear how important it is for kids to have both parents involved in their lives as they grow up (for those who happen to have two parents). This implies that it’s essential for both parents to bond with their little ones. So how does the non-breastfeeding parent get started, especially when it seems that their babies only seem to need one parent: the one with the leaky boobs?

Because the breastfeeding parent naturally needs to spend more time with their baby than their non-breastfeeding partner (babies eat all day, after all), it can be very helpful for them to take deliberate steps to help the other parent connect with their baby. Even though it may be easier to just do everything yourself, and indeed, our culture still encourages moms to think that they should be able to do it all, so there is a level of responsibility and personal pride that comes along with not needing your partner to help at all (and guilt if you don’t do it all), that kind of attitude only serves to speed up your own burn-out and to hinder your partner from being an equal parent. It requires intention to share the responsibility of caring for a baby. Here are some ideas to get you started based on some of the helpful ways that Jessica encouraged me to bond with our babies:

  1. Invite your partner to join the snuggle.

I never wanted to intrude on the intimate moments when Jessica and our baby were cozied up on the couch, mouth to boob, staring into each other’s eyes. It was so magical, and I didn’t want to break the spell, or distract them from their moment. A simple invitation from the breastfeeding parent is enough to change it from an intimate moment with that parent and the baby to an intimate family moment. Your first family portrait etched into all 3 of your memories. You’ll be working on intentionally welcoming each other into all sorts of situations for years to come (like when you’re on the toilet, or when you thought you were going to have a private intimate moment with just your partner), so why not get started right away? I had heard enough about sacred motherhood and the importance of the baby bonding to its mother that I needed an invitation to be a part of it. Maybe your partner does too.

  1. Offer for your partner to burp the baby.

Inviting your partner to burp your baby after nursing is a great way to get them involved and give yourself a little break from the constant skin-to-skin contact from that cuddly hot water baby. Sure it may seem easier to do it yourself since you’re right there but if you share the experience you might have a chance to get up to pee, or just to stand up and stretch. And if your baby can’t go without that skin-to-skin, invite your partner to lose a layer or two. For your partner, burping their baby is an opportunity to unlock that natural baby-holding sway. Pretty soon they’ll be practically dancing (it happened to me, and I’m not much of a dancer). And you can enjoy the sight of them bonding together.

  1. Share the other baby care responsibilities with your partner.

Once you’ve shared the responsibility of burping the baby, you’re ready to encourage your partner to take on other baby related tasks, like bathing them, dressing them, and cleaning that umbilical cord. Of course, there’s no reason for the 3 of you not to share those special moments together too.

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  1. Share the secret of diaper changing fun.

In many ways, diaper changes represent the last stand of traditional parenting roles. Guys willing to do all sorts of things for their wives and children still draw the line at diaper changes. What those dads miss entirely is that changing a diaper doesn’t have to be about changing the diaper at all. It’s a necessary task that provides the opportunity for special parent-baby time. Most anything can be turned into a game, and any event can be a bonding moment if that is the intent. Diaper changes can either be a disgusting obligation, or play time with your baby! Pee and poop, or fun and games. It’s time to let your partner in on the secret. You may have to model it like Jessica did for me. But once I understood it, I was hooked on diaper changing fun.

  1. Encourage your partner to hang out with their baby  

There is definitely something special about mother & baby time. But the part I used to downplay in my mind is that there is also something very special about babies connecting with their other parent. Encourage your partner often to hold your baby, their baby: to babywear, to cuddle, to take a nap together, to hang out in the rocking chair, etc. Bonding happens through time spent together. Your partner needs some of that time too!

  1. Spend a little quality time with your pump

This isn’t a necessary one and it is totally possible for bonding to happen without any participation in baby feeding- until introducing solids, invite your partner in on that fun for sure! But if you’re going to be pumping anyway to return to work or to have the occasional bottle for you to go out, this could be one way to give your non-breastfeeding partner the chance to participate. I loved every opportunity I was provided to give our babies a bottle, and, for my partner who gets overstimulated by touch very easily, sometimes it was just to provide her a break from all that physical contact that could get a bit overwhelming. You determine how often it will work for you – whatever the frequency, it’s such a special opportunity for your partner to connect with your baby.

  1. Ask for help and then back off

Sometimes our greatest enemy is ourselves. This is so true when one partner claims ownership of certain responsibilities. Our natural tendency is to want to make sure that the job is executed up to our standards, even when we “allow” others to do it for us. We want to control the outcome. We micromanage. We say too much. We follow too closely. We watch incessantly. We are ready to jump in (or take over) at the first hint of hesitation. And we get stressed out, anxious, and even angry, when things don’t run  by our definition of “smoothly”. This approach to letting your partner help does the exact opposite of building up their confidence. It may discourage them from even trying to be involved. And you may end up resenting an uninvolved partner that you had a role in creating. For your partner to really bond with your baby (and by “your” I mean theirs and yours), you have to really want your partner to be involved. That means you have to get out of the way. They may not do things exactly like you do, and that’s ok. Give them space, provide information when necessary, trust that they have their own parenting instincts, that they will ask you when they can’t figure things out, and that they will find their own parenting groove.

  1. Enjoy the view and tell your partner about it

Jessica has told me through the years that she loves seeing me with our kids. She loves it when they’re babies, and continues to love it as they get older, all the way up to high school! She says that the way I interact with our kids makes her love me even more. Somehow me bonding with our children brings us closer together as a couple. And it’s sexy. Not that my interactions with my children are sexy, but that she thinks I’m sexy when I connect with our children. And hearing her say how much she appreciates the view, I mean, my efforts, boosts my confidence and encourages me to keep at it.

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Jeremy Martin-Weber is the proud father of 6 inspiring girls, and is 20 years into a love story with his partner, Jessica Martin-Weber.

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#TLBloves – A Time to Focus on Love

by Ophélia Martin-Weber
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It’s time for #TLBloves!

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Valentine’s Day seeing it as a Hallmark holiday yet loving the excuse to celebrate and focus on love a little more while maintaining that we don’t need an excuse or a special date to show our loved ones we love them but still totally loving Valentine’s, chocolate, and flowers along with heart shaped pancakes and candlelight dinners but at the same time rejecting the commercialized pressure to even just HAVE romantic relationships and heart themed craft experiences for your kids.

Totally conflicted.

In the end though, my sappy, romantic side wins: it’s fun to see the whole world (sort of) celebrate love and it sparks that part of me that is encouraged that maybe the world is going to be ok because in the end it all comes down to love. That one day a brief moment to come back to and focus quickly on what really inspires me all year long and though I don’t need a commercialized day to celebrate and express my love to those that matter most to me, I appreciate the time when, for a heartbeat, the world seems to collectively agree that love is worth celebrating in the first place. I almost don’t even care that they’re trying to sell me something at the same time.

I’m a bit of an optimist too.

It’s true though, like most Holidays, Valentine’s can feel like an over-hyped, over-commercialized day based on one simple reason to celebrate: love.

There is value in giving intense attention to one specific area for a time. Such focused intention can strengthen a weakness, do the work required to heal hurts, build shared experiences, foster fresh energy, and create fuel to help sustain that area long after that time of focus is over.

And so it is with the belief that seasonal times of focus on a specific theme can be of great benefit for us and for our family, we’re pleased to announce that it is time for #TLBloves 2017!

#TLBloves focuses on what inspires us to connect beyond how we feed our babies, strengthening bonds with our other children, connecting with friends, deepening our partner relationship, and supporting each other in growing in loving themselves by providing them with information, support, and most importantly, community in action.

#TLBloves is a movement to talk honestly and openly about relationships and connection. With our partners, our children, and most of all, ourselves.

Humans have a deep need to connect with each other, forming bonds and experiencing love. But it isn’t always easy and sometimes it is downright confusing to be in relationship with others. With #TLBloves, we aim to provide families with community support through information sharing, narrative, and personal challenges. All free of judgment.

Following the inspiration of #TLBmoves and #TLBsafeKids, we are excited to share this new experience with you, The Leaky Boob and Beyond Moi communities, that focuses first on strengthening the connection we have with our families and ourselves, to key aspects that deeply impact relationships of all sorts. Join us on The Leaky Boob Facebook page, here; The Leaky Boob Community Facebook group, hereBeyondMoi.com and the Beyond Moi Facebook Page, here; and the Beyond Moi Community Facebook group (where we talk about just about anything and everything- particularly relationships).

#TLBloves appropriately launches today, Valentine’s Day, and officially will run through March 7. Though a meaningful focus on how we connect with others is never really limited to a set of dates, we will be focusing on what inspires us all to connect beyond how we feed our babies, such as strengthening bonds with our other children, connecting with friends, deepening our partner relationship, and supporting each other as we grow in loving ourselves, all of this through the sharing of information, support, and most importantly, The Leaky Boob community in action.

Be on the lookout for the hashtag: #TLBloves, Leaky guest posts, a vocal presence across social media (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook), posts from our campaign ambassadors, relevant information and interactions on our sister sites, BeyondMoi.com, inspiring support within our community, giveaways, and informative articles!

Let’s explore the depth and strength of love in our relationships together, with #TLBloves.

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We’ve assembled a small team to provide a little daily inspiration and some real-life experiences as they focus on the love present in their relationships. Here are the six mamas (apart from myself) that will be sharing their #TLBloves experiences with us this for the next month.

 

Angela NavarroAngela Garcia Navarro

Hi, my name is Angela! I am a SAHM of 2 amazing kiddos, MJ and Athena. Bonding with my kids and loved ones in any way possible are so important to me. I am so passionate about breastfeeding because I know what it’s like on the other side wanting to have that special bond and connection with your baby but not being able to produce enough milk and have latching problems. Because I was unable to successfully breastfeed my son I was determined to do so when my daughter was born last April. And with the support of my husband I am going on almost 10 months EBF which is a HUGE mommy milestone for me! I am so grateful to have this opportunity to hopefully inspire others on their breastfeeding journey as well as help and learn myself how to strengthen bonds between loved ones! For an inside scoop of my unfiltered life follow us on Instagram.

 

Brianda TaylorBrianda Traylor

Hey everyone. I’m Brianda Traylor! I moved to Atlanta from Houston 3 years ago to be with my husband and start our family. We have a two year old daughter named Olivia and I am currently 35 weeks pregnant with her fraternal twin brothers, Owen and Benjamin. My husband and I enjoy going to car events and buying, modifying and selling old BMWs. A few days before Olivia was born my husband was in a serious accident that required an immediate spine surgery. (If you want to know more watch this.) Because of the stress of the situation my milk never came in and Olivia started to lose weight and was diagnosed failure to thrive. Her pediatrician wanted me to start formula but I knew I could do one better and give her donor milk. With the help with local mom groups and HM4HB I was able to receive donations and Olivia thrived only on donor milk and never had to have formula. It was a stressful time for our family and I’m happy to say everyone is happy and healthy now. I will be delivering these twin boys any day and I can’t wait to see what our nursing journey looks like! Thank you again so much for letting us be apart of this program <3

 

Kayla Nau headshotKayla Nau

Hi, I’m Kayla! My husband and I live in rural Ohio with out three sons ages four, two, and newborn. I have been in the Air National Guard for 9 years as a telecommunications and antenna systems journeyman, and I am a stay at home mom when not working for the guard. We strive to raise as much food as we can on our small farm, and live as sustainable and naturally as possible. I am breastfeeding my third child, and will be donating milk as soon as breastfeeding is well established. I am so excited to share a little insight to my life through #TLBloves and form new connections!!

 

Rachel Kirk headshotRachel Iglesia

I’m Rachel! I am a mother to 4 biological children (3 living, one angel), and a foster mother. I am married to a gentleman of the highest degree whom I lovingly refer to as “the Milkman”! We are a family that loves eating good food– be it from our own kitchen or other local establishments. I’ve been breastfeeding for the last 5 years straight and have also gotten formula feeding under my belt more recently with fostering. I write about my life as a mother at sherocksthecradle.com, post entirely too many food pictures on Instagram, and share random thoughts and stories on Facebook. I can’t wait to give you a little peak through the Window of my life via #TLBloves and share how my family loves and connects within our family and beyond!

 

Rebecca Zuick headshotRebecca Zuick

Hello everyone! My name is Rebecca Zuick and I’m the wife of 2.5 years to Alex and mom to Asher and Tobias, our angel baby. I’m from Florida but currently live in Texas and, even after almost 2 years, it is still an adjustment. Right now I’m a student, looking to finish my B.A. in Multidisclipinary Studies by the end of this year, and then completing the teacher certification program here. I’m also a nerd, bookworm, and caregiver to my husband who was medically retired from the army last year and our son who is still struggling with sensory issues and a possible autism diagnosis. Thankfully, Asher still breastfeeds, so we have that centering activity that he can turn to when things get too rough. Needless to say, there’s never a dull day around here! In 2015 I was blessed to be able to give birth to our youngest, Tobias, at 23 weeks and spend time with him before leaving the hospital. I love taking pictures of Asher and Alex, reading when I can find free time, and exploring other cultures through television and music. Someday I’ll actually be able to visit them, but the internet works just as well for now. I have a blog at thenerdymatron.com, which started off as an attempt to alleviate some of my stress through writing. I look forward to learning more about all of you wonderful ladies!

 

Jenna StevensJenna Stevens

I am Jenna, wife to Anton, and mother to Gianna, Athena, Evanora, and Oberyn. I also am a bonus mom to Jalen. I run a small home daycare and home school my middle daughter because she is Type 1 diabetic. My interests lie in politics, world affairs, and general interest insofar as motherhood is concerned. I have an amazingly supportive tribe of friends who have helped shape the person and mother I am today. Without them, I’m not sure I would have had the confidence to breast feed despite my previous breast reduction surgery. I strive for as natural a home as possible which, for us, means as fresh a diet as possible, no chemical cleaning agents, and open-ended, often wooden toys. I’d like to consider myself knowledgeable enough to know that I am always opening to learning new things and changing behaviors when new information is presented. 

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Meet our partners:

Indigo Willow logoIndigo Willow Breast Milk Jewelry & Keepsakes specializes in custom jewelry made using a mother’s own breast milk to commemorate her nursing journey. It gives her a tangible reminder of the time they spent nursing and bonding with her little ones. Indigo Willow offers many beautiful original designs.

 

Naked Nursing Tank logo

The Naked Nursing Tank was invented by a busy breastfeeding mom who needed easy access to her breast AND the ability to wear a sports bra for the extra support. The open-chest design allows a mom to turn every shirt in her wardrobe into a nursing shirt while keeping her tummy covered. Made from a bamboo blend, this tank can be worn before, during, and after a mom’s pregnancy, making it versatile and money conscious purchase. You’ll love the freedom and comfort this tank provides, and the ease at which you can breastfeed on demand, whether at the park, doctor’s office, or in the comfort of your own living room.

 

Dressed to Deliver logo

Dressed to Deliver strongly believes that every woman deserves to feel comfortable, confident, concealed and beautiful – before, during, and after one of the most important days of her life! Every woman should choose to wear what makes them feel like the strong, competent, confident and beautiful mom that they are. Our hope is that our 3-in-1 birthing gowns provide you with the comfort and confidence to enhance your experience of labour.

 

Nova Natural logo

Nova Natural Toys and Crafts strives to inspire creativity by sparking the imaginations of children and adults with materials that allow them to learn and grow together. We connect communities by bringing people together to play, create and explore in families, neighborhoods and across the globe. A key goal is to practice sustainability by working with small businesses and artisans to supply families with heirloom quality, non-disposable toys that support healthy lifestyles in balance with the environment.

 

Uberlube logo

Überlube believes in focus and simplicity—not just in our products but also in how we do business. Rather than modeling our approach on the restaurant that serves 50 mediocre food options, we are focused on doing one thing right, every time: producing the best personal lubricant on the market. When you use überlube you are using a product that’s all about helping you feel and be your best, whether you are enjoying a romp with your partner, hitting mile 19 of your marathon, or putting on the finishing touches for an evening out. Simply put, überlube’s first job is to make you feel amazing. That’s why we say “feeling is everything,” and why we expect you’ll agree after trying our product.

 

Evenflo Feeding Logo

Evenflo Feeding’s Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is the perfect solution for moms with frequent pumping needs. Whether at home or at work, the Advanced  Double Electric Breast Pump delivers all the premium features and benefits mom requires and deserves. This innovative pump’s PerfectlyPure™ design is a closed system that prevents milk back-up in tubing, which helps to keep tubing clean and dry, protecting mom’s breast milk and making pump cleaning more efficient. Each pumping session can be personalized with the AdvancedControl™ technology, which creates 32 unique setting combinations of speed and suction for optimal control.

To help ensure a successful pumping session, it’s important to have a comfortable, correctly sized flange fit. The Advanced Double Electric Pump includes 3 different flange sizes from our AdvancedFit™ flange system to help ensure the best fit, with additional sizes sold separately. Evenflo’s PerfectPosition™ design includes a shorter nipple tunnel and higher bottle-to-flange angle that allows mom to relax in a slouch-free pumping position. The integrated bottle holders keep mom’s milk safe after pumping, providing an extra “hand” to protect her precious milk from spills.

Access to expert resources can help ensure a successful breastfeeding experience. Evenflo is excited to include the ultimate breastfeeding education with the purchase of your pump. Developed by our partner, Breastfeeding Expert Shari Criso (IBCLC, CNM, RN), mom receives digital access to two practical and proven programs she can access anywhere! Both Simply Breastfeeding™ and Breast Pumps & Briefcases™ have helped thousands of moms successfully breastfeed and continue breastfeeding while returning to work and are included with purchase.

 

Silverette logo

Silverette is the original silver nursing cup that has been crafted by fully licensed silversmiths in Italy since 2002. Silverette cups soothe and protect nursing nipples. They use the healing properties of silver to heal and prevent soreness, cracks, wounds and infections. They are natural, easy to use and effective. Just wear them on your nursing nipples between feedings and forget about them! No need to wash your nipples before latching and no creams or oils needed.

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#TLBloves pic 2

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Where Are The Rainbow Farting Unicorns? When Pregnancy and Postpartum Suck. 

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Hello Leakies,

Jeremy from Beyond Moi here, the man-behind-TLB, aka: The Piano Man, or the X-Factor (just kidding, but I’m referring to the fact that we only have girls). Every once and a while I get to write the editorial for our newsletter, where round up noteworthy articles and conversations from the previous week, and we share information on a particular topic. Today, we are zooming in on a tough one: Mental Health, and I am thrilled that we are, as it is so important. (And a special, more in-depth look at how botanicals can help, here.)

As a culture, we spend a whole lot of time making sure that all the physical pieces of our life look presentable to the world. From our homes, our kitchens, our yard, our cars, to our kids, and our own bodies, we want the world to know that we’ve got this. We’re on top of things. We’re not overwhelmed, we are on a surfboard ripping through everything life has to throw at us, and it’s a thrill. We’re having the time of our lives. Our Instagram and Facebook feeds are full of our grand adventure. And even when we let reality encroach on our carefully curated virtual lives, it is done in a calculated way. We know that there is nothing quite as fake as perfection, so a few flaws help to really make our masterpiece shine.

What is it that many of us have to hide?

*This is an excerpt from our TLB email, to continue reading, click here.


Jeremy Martin-Weber
Writer, speaker, father of 6 girls
BeyondMoi.com

 

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Does Nourishing our babies have to be THIS hard?! Food drama and Allergies- there’s a difference.

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This email is generously sponsored by our friends at

Mommy Moosli logo

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What do you do when feeding your baby makes them sick? When the very thing that they need to survive is hurting them, maybe even killing them?

Food sensitivities can be a huge challenge. Food allergies can be deadly. All of it can directly undermine a parent’s confidence, not to mention make every day life scary.

There are no easy answers but there are people who’ve been there.

Leaky, RN, and TLBC Facebook group admin Heather Mackles, shares her journey with us and some info on what parents need to be aware of as possible signs of allergies.

Read more here of her journey and information and support for others.

*This is an excerpt from our TLB email, to continue reading, click here.

And don’t miss out on the amazing giveaway featuring Mommy Moosli, Wean Green, 5 Phases bottles, Evenflo Feeding, Innobaby, and Belibea Bra all supporting you to be fully nourished.

Jessica Martin-Weber
Founder, TheLeakyBoob.com

 

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When Food Makes Your Child Sick- Allergies and Parenting

By Heather Mackles, RN, BSN

When the food you’re feeding your child is making them sick, what do you do? One mother, a member of The Leaky Boob Community group admin team, shares her family’s journey with food allergies and how it has changed them. A registered nurse, the author shares some points for families on potential signs for allergies and how to proceed.

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It started with a crying baby, a “sensitivity” to my breastmilk, and a transition to soy formula under the direction of our pediatrician. Then it became vomiting, weight loss, and a hospitalization. Eight years later, we’re dealing with food anxiety, rebelling, and a struggle with autonomy. Somewhere in there was a major food overhaul.

Food allergies.

I am a parent of a child with multiple food allergies. We wield EpiPens, Benadryl and a rescue inhaler. We see a pediatrician, dermatologist and allergist every few months. We are one piece of candy away from a trip to the ER.

Food can kill my son.

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I was told while pregnant from a lactation consultant that babies rarely have an issue with actual breastmilk. Only babies with true milk protein allergies were unable to breastfeed due to the whey protein in breastmilk. My pediatrician agreed after we had several visits with complaints of horrible crying with no relief and constant diarrhea. He told me that my baby may have a sensitivity to my breastmilk and that it would be in my best interest to wean him immediately to soy formula. There was no mention of removing dairy from my diet first. Now knowing more than I did then, I probably could’ve tried removing all dairy from my diet and chances are strong that would have been a better option for my son. For more on breastfeeding a child with food sensitivities or food allergies, see this post here.

But I didn’t know then what I know now. I didn’t know how to fight and advocate for my son.

When we first got the diagnosis from the gastroenterologist, I made that first trip to Whole Foods. I was beside myself. I didn’t know what I was looking for. Then this saint of an employee came up to me, and asked if he could help me find something. I poured my heart out to him while he helped me navigate the store.

My child, who loved homemade fettuccine Alfredo (which starts with a stick of butter and a pint of heavy cream), now could not have anything that had the milk protein, casein, in it. It’s not a lactose-intolerance. He can’t just drink lactose-free milk and be fine. He can’t have any animal milks, butter, cheeses or whey protein. His reactions continued going up until his diagnosis had only been gut and skin related, but that doesn’t mean that the next exposure couldn’t affect his respiratory system.

The threat is very real.

My son can’t eat or have contact with:

  • Dairy
  • Gluten
  • Tree Nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Tomato anything
  • Nitrates
  • Fluoride
  • MSG
  • Artificial Colors
  • Preservatives

We now have to read every ingredient list for EVERYTHING. When he’s prescribed a medicine, or even if I go to give him over-the-counter medicine, I have to call the manufacturer and get the all clear that it does not contain dairy or gluten. Sometimes the manufacturer is closed, or won’t return my calls for days, but he needs the medication at that moment. So I have to take a deep breath, weigh the risks and benefits, pray, and give him the medicine. His allergy medicine prescribed by his allergist? I gave it to him for a month and couldn’t figure out why he was breaking out in hives and having diarrhea. It contained gluten as a main ingredient. Because his vitamins were cultured in milk, but they didn’t list it because they don’t contain milk, he had a reaction. Now he’s taking vegan vitamins to be sure they are dairy free. His allergies have evolved over the years, though he has yet to grow out of any, as many kids with one food allergy usually become allergic to other foods over time.

Every single thing that goes into my child’s mouth requires me to check the ingredient lists. Unfortunately, if something in it is milk-derived, it doesn’t have to list that according to the FDA. There’s a lot of ambiguity when it comes to artificial and natural flavors, colors and preservatives, and transparency is not required. So do I give him the food that should be okay and risk a reaction, or do I disappoint him and tell him it’s not safe? We play that game. Every. Single. Day.

Sometimes I hear him coughing in his room at night, one of his common early symptoms of a reaction, and the panic starts rising. “What did he eat today? Was it anything that we ate differently? Have I looked at our safe foods’ ingredient lists recently? Did they change their ingredients?” And then I mentally go back through everything he ate in the past 24 hours, because reactions can be delayed. His are usually around 8 hours after ingestion. Sometimes it could be anything, sometimes I may not even know for sure what he has eaten.

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I cringe when other kids offer him food because he SO BADLY wants to take it, but he does good most days on refusing. Sometimes he slips, but I have to give him some autonomy. I cannot keep him in a bubble forever. He has had to learn how to resist temptation in the most evil of ways. Food is more than eating. It’s a social and cultural enjoyment. Good food brings people together and celebrations often center around food. Many people take offense even, including family members, when we say that he can’t have whatever they’re offering, because we aren’t sure of the ingredients.

My son experiences discrimination every time he’s on some sort of a team or in a group activity. I’ve heard such things as “We don’t accommodate for people with food allergies.” and “Can’t you just bring him his own snack to every game?” told to me by other parents, teachers, and team leaders. But there’s always that one parent on the team that texts me to ask me for suggestions on my son’s safe foods because they want to make sure he feels included. One parent who shows they care. They are the shining beacon of light, and by being able to share in team snack with everyone else, just like every other kid, you made his day. It warms my heart to see him so happy. And it makes me so angry when people blow off his food allergies like they’re nothing.

My child’s food allergies aren’t a preference, they are a life and death risk. I know it is inconvenient, my family lives with and accommodates those inconvenient risks every day.

Our safe restaurants include Mellow Mushroom and Disney restaurants. That’s about it. Going out to eat is another adventure. It takes a lot of time and energy, because we have to call ahead and make sure they can make something for my son that he can actually eat. He’s not picky by any means, but he does have his preferences, and most places either have 1-2 things on the menu he can have, or none at all. Like most of us, he wants to enjoy eating beyond considering whether or not it will make him sick. Most times, the restaurant’s employee we talk to on the phone can’t guarantee that they’ll have a meal free of his allergens. By the time we call around to 3-4 places we’ve selectively picked, we usually throw in the towel and make something at home. We make 95% of our food at home from the most basic ingredients. It takes too much time, planning and effort to go to a new restaurant, where most of the time, the employees are very poorly educated on food allergies and cross contamination. Fast food is mostly out of the question. We don’t even try there. If we need fast food, we make him a safe option at home.

Do I want to be this controlling? HELL NO. I want to let him eat whatever he wants, and I would cut off my left arm if he could just have one slice of birthday cake at another kid’s birthday party. But his diagnosis requires vigilance and I must provide that.

Still, I refuse to allow food to define my child. He is a smart, funny, easy-going kid. He’s never met a stranger and will hold a conversation with anyone he meets. He is good at acrobatics, circus aerial arts, and baseball. He just signed a modeling contract through a worldwide agency. His smile is infectious and that lights up the room. Food allergies are NOT who he is. He may have them, but they are not him. He is Ian, a boy who has food allergies.

And I stand in the background, ensuring he stays safe as he blossoms into his own person.

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Right now, we take it one day at a time and we learn and grow with him. There will be more rebellion. There will most likely be more ER visits in the future. There will be times where he chooses to not bring his EpiPens with him because it’s not cool to have special needs. Hopefully that day, he won’t need it, as most days he won’t. Hopefully he won’t learn this lesson the hard way. But there will also be good friends that we meet along the way, and we will cherish them forever.

I went on to successfully breastfeed two more children. My middle child was breastfed until 18 months old, and my youngest is 19 months old and still breastfeeding with no end in sight. We introduced the top eight most allergenic foods at 6 months old under the direction of our (new) pediatrician and both of my youngest kids have no food allergies.

There’s a lot I wish I knew back in the day with my son that I know now. For new parents it can be overwhelming and scary. Most of the time I’m not scared any more, just vigilent. And I’m able to share what I’ve learned. There are boundaries to learn, together we can figure them out. In this post, another parent shares a few methods about food boundaries with her food sensitive child. 

Want to know what to look for and what could be a warning sign of an allergy in your child? Here are some of the most common things to look for when evaluating for food allergies in children:

  •      Rash around the mouth
  •      Flushed face
  •      Hives
  •      Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  •      Behavioral changes, mostly severe anxiety or restlessness after eating
  •      Fast heartbeat*
  •      Face, tongue or lip swelling*
  •      Constant coughing or wheezing*
  •      Difficulty breathing*
  •      Loss of consciousness*
*If your child exhibits any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately as these are signs of a life threatening medical emergency.

They could encounter the allergen once and react to it, or they could’ve been exposed to the allergen 100 times before and all of a sudden start reacting to it. There is no telling when or how bad they’re going to react to the allergen, if their body chooses to react to that particular food protein.

Many life-threatening food allergy reactions (called anaphylaxis) happen to kids who did not know they had a food allergy. If you suspect that your child has a food allergy, please consult your physician for further allergy testing. 

If you’d like to learn more about food allergies, please visit: www.foodallergy.org.

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Living with the reality that the very nourishment that should sustain us, bring us joy, and lead to health could make our child sick, endangering their lives, isn’t easy. If you get to enjoy life without these scary obstacles, please be patient with those of us who must learn how to navigate them. If you are just discovering that allergies may be a part of your child’s life, you’ve got this. It may require a lifestyle change but you’ve got this. With community and information sharing you can be your child’s strongest advocate and learn how to navigate this terrain without it stealing your joy. 

____________________

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Heather Mackles is a 32-year-old retired PICU RN, who is happily married to her husband, and stays at home with her three children, two dogs and an antisocial cat. In her minuscule amounts of free time, between changing diapers and homeschooling/unschooling her kids, she enjoys traveling, taking frequent trips to Disney, sewing, and critiquing medical TV shows. She believes in advocating for all women from all walks of life, and loves helping women achieve their breastfeeding goals.
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Cut the controversy, Fed IS Best!

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Dear Leakies, 

The number one rule in breastfeeding support is feed the baby.

Always.

Sure, how we feed them is important but nothing is as important as feeding the baby. With #TLBnourish we’re focusing on how we’re doing that together recognizing that pressure of how to do so can make that more difficult. Instead, we’re exploring the diversity of what nourishing really looks like.

From breast and bottle to introducing solids to the 21 meals a week (plus snacks), there is so much more involved than simply nutrition.

*This is an excerpt from our TLB email, to continue reading, click here.

And don’t miss out on the amazing giveaway featuring Mommy Moosli, Wean Green, 5 Phases bottles, Evenflo Feeding, Innobaby, and Belibea Bra all supporting you to be fully nourished.

Jessica Martin-Weber
Founder, TheLeakyBoob.com

 

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What is it to nourish ourselves- Let Love Flo? And 2 giveaways and a discount code

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Dear Leakies,

Around TLB we talk a lot about the oxygen mask principle, that you can’t help others if you haven’t taken care of yourself because you’re no good to anybody passed out.

But that’s often easier said than done. Our society has such high esteem for the boot strap mentality that self-care is interpreted as weakness when it is anything but.

Leakies, we need to be nourished though. Can we Let Love Flo for ourselves? Many of us are quite literally nourishing our children with our own bodies and coming from a place of being empty mentally, emotionally, and physically isn’t healthy for anyone, including our children.

So what can we do?

*This is an excerpt from our TLB email, to continue reading, click here.

Jessica Martin-Weber
Founder, TheLeakyBoob.com

 

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Parenting Broken and Finding Joy

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Dear Leakies,

Where are the perfect parents? I mean, where on earth are all those perfect parents?

Because they’re not here.

And I can tell you for certain, they’re not there either.

We’re not perfect parents. How could we be? We’re a mess. And those who say they aren’t either haven’t had kids yet, or haven’t had their second kid yet and still think they somehow mined pure parenting gold from the rich mines of their intellect and wisdom. I know because I was one of them. Turns out it was fool’s gold. I mean no disrespect for you first-timers. If it’s really easy for you, please enjoy it. But please don’t make the mistake of thinking that your experience should be everyone’s experience. Because it can’t be. And it won’t be for you if you decide to give your baby a sibling.

*This is an excerpt from our TLB email, to continue reading, click here.

Jeremy Martin-Weber
Writer, BeyondMoi.com

 

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Don’t Read This If You Don’t Have Time

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Dear Leakies,

Happy Mother’s Day Week. I hope it is everything that you want it to be and you know today and every day that you matter, you’re appreciated, and you are loved.

We’re keeping it short and simple this week because sometimes all we really need is to hear that we’re ok.

So, here you go.

You are ok. You’ve got this. You matter. You are appreciated.

Keep loving on,

Jessica Martin-Weber
Founder, TheLeakyBoob.com

*This is an excerpt from our TLB email, to continue reading, click here.

P.S. Preparing for summer travel, we did a chat about traveling with the breastfeeding baby, find Leaky tips here along with info on Mamava Lactation pods.

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We’re Paying It Forward- Are You?

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Dear Leakies,

You’ve probably heard of the idea to “pay it forward”. The concept is that any kindness you receive, instead of repaying, our society would be a better place if we payed it forward to someone else rather than the original benefactor.

Indeed, it is a moving and beautiful idea and has become increasingly popular. From buying coffee for the person in line behind you to cleaning a friend’s house when they have a new baby, more and more of us are experiencing kindness being paid forward instead of repaid. It has more than the power to make someone’s day, it strengthens us as individuals and as a community.

So it goes with support. In many ways there is no way to truly repay the support we experience as we begin our parenting journey. When it comes to feeding support, this feels particularly true. It is vital, truly essential that we feed our children. How could we ever pay the people that help us figure that out?

The truth is, we can’t.

But we can support forward. Drawing from our own personal experiences, we can provide parent to parent support for the next new parents. At The Leaky Boob, it is #TLBsupportForward that keeps us going. Leakies never graduate from TLB, even when they hang up their nursing tanks. Because we support forward.

Whether your experience was everything you imagined, nothing you expected, rainbows and butterflies, or practically the fires of Mordor, your story matters and you have valuable support to offer others. Avoiding unsupportive support that breeds fearinsecuritylays blameunderminesis self-servingcreates doubt for a profit, and shames, with respect and gentleness, you can make a difference by supporting forward. That difference can build up the confidence of a new mother or father.

And that makes us all stronger.

Feed with love,

Jessica Martin-Weber
Founder, TheLeakyBoob.com

*This is an excerpt from our TLB email, to continue reading, click here.

 

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