Friday, August 30, 2013

Keeping Legoland Nursing in Public

A snack break at Legoland California. 
In the $15/day stroller we rented for carrying our stuff, you can see my 7-year-old
Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin tote from donating milk when Magoo was a baby. 
I'm a huge fan of the milk bank, and I'm glad I got to
donate at least a little milk from Bellybean
before he turned a year old.

This post started as part of my Photo Challenge, but we had so many great non-nursing photos from our 1.5 days at Legoland, and enjoyed it so much,
that it's also a bit of a review.  Kind of a diversion from my typical post,
but I hope it is enjoyed, and maybe informative for
anyone planning a trip to California!

was so much fun.  We had a shared birthday party for the boys this year with an Elephant and Piggie theme, but it was very nearly Lego-themed.  Eight-year-old Magoo likes them, four-year-old Sweet Pea really LOVES them, & fourteen-month-old Bellybean loves finding them on the floor and putting them in his mouth.

I highly recommend planning your day.  As I looked over the map writing this, I see now we missed more than we realized.  It's smaller than Disneyland so it's easier to do most things in a visit.  (It also wasn't as busy and wasn't as hot, so we weren't quite as overstimulated as we've often been on our few Disney trips.)  But there really is a lot of cool stuff, so if you know your priorities, you may miss less than we did.  Check out the interactive park map - I wish we had! 

Nursing in line for a ride before handing Bellybean off to his Nana.
The amusement park rides are best for Sweet Pea.  Magoo would prefer more daredevil rides.  Bellybean wasn't allowed on most of them (which was ridiculous for some of the super tame ones).  But they were perfect for our most ardent Lego lover. 

You can see rides by height restriction here.  We were told that we could have taken turns riding without having to wait in line twice (if we told the Model Citizens beforehand - yes, employees are called Model Citizens), but since Nana's "too short" for any ride with height restrictions, Bellybean always hung out with her while we were on rides he couldn't go on.

We read a tip to go to the back of the park first and start with the big rides that get long lines.  We kept getting distracted, but luckily I'm still not sure which rides have really long waits, because most of our lines were pretty short.  I did think that the staff and the set up for the rides was consistently and incredibly inefficient, though - so thank goodness lines were short! Rather than try to go to the back of the park again, I'd go over the interactive map and go to the coolest rides early in the morning. 
We all wore out Eat Local breastfeeding shirts from
Central Texas Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition

on this day (except for Bellybean - the smallest was way
too big for him).  I loved being able to find Adam, Magoo,
or Sweet Pea so easily by looking for one shirt color)

The Lego displays were really fantastic. Miniland, especially, was so impressive.  Miniland rocks.  Totally rocks.  Some of the displays are even interactive!  Sweet Pea loved sending the lego people to get married in Las Vegas! 
And In the Miniland Marina the boys had fun steering small (not Lego) boats from afar for a couple of dollars each.  Lego Star Wars Miniland was super awesome.

Nursing in Miniland while the boys
marveled over the Star Wars displays
The water park was fun but unnecessary.  Actually, you can get plenty wet in the Pirate's Cove area, and may want to plan your trip accordingly.  Maybe spend the hottest part of the day there, or maybe go until before lunch, then take a break to change - or dry off (for a fee) in the hysterical family dryers - before eating and moving on to dryer areas.  The Aquazone Wave Racer will also get you wet, and it's not in Pirate's Cove.

It would have been nice to have checked out the Sea Life Aquarium instead of the water park, since we're boycotting the Austin Aquarium. Oh, well.

You can (or we could at the time) take your own food in - always good for saving money, as well as time when you just want a quick snack.  And good for picky eaters, too, of course!  We had lunch and snacks with us thanks to my mother-in-law.

The Pizza and Pasta Buffet was great.  We lucked out and were there during a period in August when kids ate dinner free!  Everyone liked their pizza, and when Sweet Pea special ordered chocolate milk, we each got a bottle.  The best part, though, is how they handled my food allergies.  A manager or someone in-the-know talked to me, and confirmed with the chef that there are eggs in the gluten-free pizza dough.  So while I couldn't get a special GF pizza, they did have GF spaghetti.  And they made me a salad with oil and balsamic vinegar, so that I wouldn't get sick from gluten cross-contamination, trying to eat off the salad bar.  My food was really good and the service was stellar.

While we were there, the world's largest Lego model, the Lego Star Wars X-Wing, was on display.  It.  Is.  Awesome.

This is what more than 5 million Legos look like.
The kids liked the Legends of Chima 4D movie.  You'll want to check showtimes when planning, and there are also certain times when costumed characters are out for photo ops and there are your standard dorky amusement park live shows, too (Sweet Pea loved the phoned-in one that we saw).
NIP in line for Lost Kingdom Adventure. 
They have Lego tables set up in the middle
of the line area to entertain kids while they wait!

We ran out of time to check out the hotel.  If you go, tell us about it! 

Phaoroah's Revenges was a favorite!  There are foam balls that kids can shoot, and send through air tubes.  The boys didn't want to leave! It would have made a neat social experiment to be a psychologist in there.  I saw the coolest thing happen.  In the center of the space, there was a big tube thing (see below).  If you put the balls in that big bowl-shaped part, they just sit there until you push the green button, and then they're blown up through the top section and come out the top.  Kids would do this with a few balls at a time.  I kept thinking that someone should round the kids up and get them to fill the bowl.  My son Magoo is an awesome leader, so he did try to yell loudly enough to get kids to work on a "cannon" with him in another area, but that didn't end up working out.  One girl, though, saw the potential of the bowl-tube-thing.  I never saw her holler for help or try to engage other kids in her goal.  But I saw her mother call to her that it was time to go, so she brought down the huge number of balls she'd been collecting in her jacket.  She loaded them into the bowl and as she struggled to get a ball out of her sleeve, someone hit the button, and boom!  It rained balls!  It.  Was.  Awesome.  And the rest of the time that we were in there, the kids were all working together to collect a ton of balls, and then hit the button once the bowl was full.  I thought it was a wonderful metaphor for leading by example.  Maybe for nursing in public.  Do it, others will see how awesome it is, and they will do it, too!  And you'll have made some really awesome changes. 

Photo Source
And now, because I just might have OCD, I have reviewed for you each ride we rode (and noted some things I wish we hadn't missed), and a few other entertainment things.  If you're not bored yet, this may do it.  But I know if/when we go back, I'll check over this list and make sure we hit the rides, etc. we like best first.  Scroll down to the end for some of our Legoland photos!  (The numbers correspond to the interactive map.)

7 Coastersaurus - Almost lame enough for Nana, so great for mid-level daredevil kids.
10 Safari Trek - FYI, 1 adult per car.  This is not the only ride for which this is true, as they're mostly not thrill rides but geared toward the kids.
11 Fairy Tale Brook - Perfect Nana ride - so we went around twice!

18 Kid Power Towers
- Looked pretty cool - sorry we missed them.
19 Sky Cruiser - At the end of our second night, the wait was 45 minutes (which the employee was not thrilled about - they were closing the lines at 8, not the rides).  If/when we go back, we'll want to ride this first.
22 Legoland Driver License - Wasted some time messing with this thinking it was like Disneyland's Autopia license before realizing it costs a lot to have them printed.  A lot.
Magoo at the Volvo Driving School
This Lego gal was getting her photo taken near the
Volvo ride.  The Legos really managed to draw
attention to her breasts, which I may be the only
to take note of, since I'm looking at it from a
"sexy boobs are okay in our society but
lactating breasts get the stink eye."
23-24 Volvo (Junior) Driving School - These two rides are split up by age.  Sweet Pea almost cried when he thought he wouldn't get to drive a Lego car, but thankfully we realized the Junior ride was right next to the one for 6- to 13-year-olds.  Wish we'd planned better for splitting up with only one camera, but there was a car to pose in afterward, too.

31 Lego Factory Tour - Somehow we missed that this was an option.  I'm really disappointed that we missed it.  Really, really, really.  Again, take time to check out the map and plan your priorities.  Something like Miniland is so cool you could spend hours looking around, but you may want to budget your time there and other places so you don't miss the things you think you'll like the most.
38 Treasure Falls - My guys got out of line because they were so unimpressed with the looks of this ride.
39 Soak 'N' Sail - Magoo had a great time running around this area while Nana and Grandpa tried to warm up Sweet Pea, who was freezing after being soaked on Pirate Reef.
40 Swabbie's Deck - Bellybean loved playing in the water here when he woke up from his nap.
41 Captain Cranky's Ride - Kind of silly and short spinning ship ride, but I'm a thrill seeker.
43 Splash Battle - Bellybean napped while the guys went on this.  They seemed to really like it!
44 Pirate Reef - The boys loved this - they rode it twice!
51 Hideaways - I lost track of Sweet Pea in here for long enough that it made me really nervous.  It's a really cool playground, but I'd have preferred to have done more of the rides.  I guess if lines had been awful, this would have been a more welcome respite. 
The smack-talkin' knight on the Royal Joust,
sword-fought by Sweet Pea.
57 Royal Joust - This is just for ages 4-12.  I thought 8-year-old Magoo would be bored by it, but he had fun on the little horse that went around a track.  Sweet Pea loved it, and I loved watching him pretend to sword fight a huge Lego knight as he passed it.

60 The Dragon - This ride starts out all Nana-friendly, riding calmly through some cool Lego scenes like one of the old Disneyland rides in Fantasyland.  And then suddenly you're outside and it's a fun roller coaster.  Would not have been Nana-approved! 

Dragon at Knights' Tournament
62 Knights' Tournament - Best ride in the park, maybe.  Would definitely ditch the kids and ride with Adam on a future visit.  You select your intensity level - or it's determined by the height of your child.  Magoo was really mad that he had to be a level two.  He tried to stretch and stand on his toes to look tall enough, but he was stuck with me at a two.  He's just lucky I didn't make him ride at a one with Sweet Pea.
65 Cargo Ace - They actually let Bellybean ride this one even though the map lists a height restriction.  I had to show that he could stand, and had to grab shoes to put on him, but the fact that he could ride made this one a favorite for me.
66 Lost Kingdom Adventure - One of those shoot-targets-with-your-laser-gun rides.  Which was awesome, for once, because I beat Grandpa, Magoo, Sweet Pea, and Adam!  (This is one ride that definitely should have allowed Bellybean).
71 Lego Technic Roller Coaster - This ride scared the crap out of me.  I am a thrill seeker.  I LOVE rides and I'm never scared (except maybe on traveling carnival rides)!  But this one feels more like there's nothing around you than any I remember.  Maybe it's just that I had my slim little Sweet Pea next to me and I felt like he could slip right out and just fall and fall.  But of course that couldn't really happen, so I'd totally ride again!
73 Bionicle Blaster - a fun spinny ride, just right for getting you a wee bit dizzy-sick just before dinner!  The Pizza and Pasta Buffet is just across the way.
74 Aquazone Wave Racer - very fun ride!  But it's a get-wet ride even though it's not back in Pirate's Cove. 
77 Xbox Family Game Space - I hate video games.  My kids love video games and do not have an Xbox.  I'm sure they'd disagree with me saying that the time we spent in there was wasted (even though watching them test driving a Kinect game was pretty cool). 
78 Lego Mindstorms - I was sorry we missed this until I realized it's for kids age 10+.  Sign up for a hands-on tutorial to build and program a robot.  Cool.
80 Duplo Play - This looks like it would have been a cool place to play!  (Definitely going to have to go back!)
81 Build and Test - Just adding to the "Wish We Hadn't Missed This" list...

82 Coast Cruise - Fun whole-family boat tour of some fantastic Lego models - like the elephant in the photo.
87 The Model Shop - Missed it, but would have liked to have watched the Master Builders work.

In the water park, the Build a Raft River was fun without much waiting.  Sweet Pea was cold, so he played near the Legoland entrance of the water park with a legos in water thing (Imagination Station), and then with some brick-sized legos.  We waited too long for the fun but super short water slide, Orange Rush, which you go down in a huge tube with a few other people.

And that's it.  That's the end of my review.  If you make it to Legoland, have a great time!  If you've got a nursling, be sure to keep Legoland nursing in public, and if you see a nursing mama, give her a high five!

Miniland - California

More Miniland

Star Wars Miniland

It looks like Bellybean is checking to see if Leia is lactating.

And that's the end of our Legoland California adventure!

Breastfeeding in an 1899 Car Ad

Found in a history of cars book, this is a car ad from 1899. 

The mother in the picture is nursing her baby, back in the "old days when women were modest."  She's nursing without a cover(!), and even out the top of her dress - not with a sneaky nursing tank.

Not only does it seem that depicting uncovered breastfeeding was no big deal in the nineteenth century, the adults with the mother are not giving her dirty looks, or averting their eyes, either.  In fact, the other woman in the De Dion car is looking on while holding the baby's hand, and the man - the father, perhaps? - is watching and distracted from driving to the point of being a danger to others on the road.

If this was a modern-day sitcom, the man would be ogling the woman's breast (I'm picturing "Joey" from Friends), and a laugh track would play when the pigs barely escaped their doom as the car-driving pig was driven to distraction at the sight of a bare breast.  "How you doin'?"

But the man is clearly not distracted by thinking he wants to hook up with Mom, but by the sweetness of a baby being nourished.  More "Mister Rogers" than "Joey."

This is the kind of support mothers need for nursing their babies.  The kind where mothers are surrounded by people who clearly care that baby is getting optimal nutrition - and care enough that it matters more than the things our society allows to sit as a barriers on a mother's road to meeting her breastfeeding goals. 

Thank you, Tammy B., for sharing the image!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Photo Challenge Delay

Day 17
Shared on Facebook by The Natural Parent Magazine,
originally posted by Nursling Photography
This is kind of the whole point of the Photo Challenge.  Normalizing breastfeeding. 
We work to normalize it for other mothers, but ultimately, that work is
intended to normalize it for our children!

I am so behind on my Photo Challenge!  It's been giving me major guilt/stress not to be posting much at all on Facebook like I want to, but I'm trying to let go of that feeling because I just needed a break to refuel.  Since the last photo I posted on the 17th, I've had:
2 days at Legoland, with limited wifi access in the La Quinta hotel
     (but at least it was pet-friendly!)
1 very long day of travel (coolest part of that was just happening
     to meet KANIP supporter Megan at the airport in San Diego!)
1 day of lazing about, recovering from our vacation - well, starting to recover
2 days of back to school prep (clothes & supply shopping, meet the teacher,
     etc. - and meeting KANIP supporter Sherry while shopping!)
1 day of coddling a sick baby
1 last day of summer fun, topped off with an un-fun ER trip for a head wound
1 first day of school
1 full day of struggling to write about Black Breastfeeding Week
1 day spent in a social media coma, I guess, cause I can't even remember what I did yesterday
We're still, after only a week in California, adjusting back to our time zone.  Ridiculous, I know.  My big kid has trouble falling asleep without being all mixed up by late nights in another time zone, so now he's still a mess.  I've had so. many. hours. of sitting with my boys keeping them company while they fall asleep.  I spent way too many of those fooling around with Picasa for the first time.  I was going to put photos on a blog post as a slide show, but  - let's just say... Picasa is not my friend. 

I'm going to just cheat and use the scheduling function to backdate and post photos to Facebook on the days they should have been posted, but first, I'll put them in posts on my blog.  I hope they hope normalize nursing in public for some mamas out there, and ultimately, to normalize it for our children!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I Support Breastfeeding, So I Support Black Breastfeeding Week

When I was a little girl, I told my head start teacher, "We're just like Easter eggs.  We're all different on the outside, but we're all the same on the inside." 

My mom was so proud.  And as I got older and forgot having ever said this, she'd tell me now and again, and I was proud, too.  What a smart cookie I was!

It was insightful for a four-year-old, yes, but it was also indicative of what my generation was taught.  As a child, the differences didn't matter to me, because I was taught to be color blind.

As a pre-k teacher ages later, I taught a social studies lesson using hard boiled eggs, both brown and white, as a hands-on metaphor for teaching that we are all "the same on the inside" regardless of our color.  But what I had come to learn by then was that we must also honor differences.  In my classroom we had multicultural crayons, and dolls, and construction paper.  We compared our skin colors to the many shades on paint samples.  We had books in different languages and sampled foods from different cultures.  We read books like Two Eyes, a Nose, and a Mouth and Whoever You Are

It is important for many reasons to acknowledge both our commonalities and our differences.  Among the reasons to acknowledge differences is that we have different needs. 

I have a son with dyslexia.

All of the kids at his school deserve terrific literacy instruction.  But no one would deny that my son needs and deserves special support. 

All breastfeeding moms need support, regardless of differences.  There is a huge racial disparity in breastfeeding rates, though.  A CDC report from this year states that by 2008, breastfeeding rates among white mothers were up to 75.2%, yet among black women, only 58.9% breastfed at all.  That disparity alone is a clear signal that special support is needed.  For this and many other compelling reasons, several breastfeeding advocates launched Black Breastfeeding Week.

Source: Black Breastfeeding Week on Facebook

When I was four, or even eighteen, I might have thought that the idea of a Black Breastfeeding Week was divisive.  I thought I was color blind.  I thought that's how I was supposed to be - that that was proof that I wasn't racist, that it was how to not be racist.  I think that for some people, this color blindness is a factor in the backlash against a World Breastfeeding Week image shared on The Leaky Boob's Facebook page.  This, and/or not being aware of the race-specific needs outlined in this brilliant and compelling article by Kimberly Seals Allers.

Others seem to think that it excludes white people.  White people are free to support Black Breastfeeding Week.  It's existence is not discrimination any more than is the existence of the International Dyslexia Association.

And then, of course, some people are just racists.

I'm a white, college-educated, middle class woman.  I am lucky enough to be in the group of women most likely to breastfeed - that's one aspect of my white privilege

The only time I've ever experienced discrimination was for nursing in public.  Other advocates and I have drawn parallels between discrimination against public breastfeeding and discrimination based on disabilities, gender, age, race. 

I realize not everyone self-identifies as an advocate, but if a person is following a blog/page in search of or to offer support, I don't understand how that person might speak against NIP discrimination yet perpetuate discrimination against anyone else.  And denying people a sense of community and need-specific support IS discrimination. 

I have struggled to write this post for the entire day, I've been so afraid of getting it wrong.  Words can be hard to find, especially when something is deeply felt.  My husband and I were just talking about what I've been writing, and he said to me, "Sometimes you don't want to have to use words."  He was talking about a grief support group I went to in 1999 for women who had lost their mothers, and how important it was to me then to get to connect with people who shared the specific experience of mother loss.  It mattered so much to be able to communicate without always needing to have the right words, because they got it.  They understood, even without words.

As a white woman, I can't claim to know what it is to be a black breastfeeding mother.  But I can certainly understand that black women have a shared history, a shared experience.  And that it could help a new mother to have support from those she can communicate with about that shared knowledge without needing so many words.

We all look for things we have in common with the people in our lives.  A love of "Doctor Who," a preferred parenting style, a penchant for gardening.  We celebrate our differences, yes, but we still want to connect with people who share them.  Especially when we need support. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

NIP at the Beach

I knew I'd want a NIP picture at Coronado Beach today (Bellybean was too distracted to nurse at the Cabrillo Tidepools), but I was concerned about nursing in a bathing suit.  I'm adjusting to the idea of not covering like it's part of my religion, but nursing top down is still something that's awkward-feeling for me unless I'm wearing him in the Ergo.

As it turns out, I was even concerned about just plain being in a bathing suit, too.  I thought I was alright.  I don't love my suit anymore, since I weigh more than I did when Adam got it for me for Magoo's swim lessons when he was around one year old.  And the suit, at seven years old, has seen better days, the elastic in particular.  But I tried it on and figured I'd get by.  I thought I might prefer to head straight for deeper water, but I didn't expect to decide I'd rather keep on my skirt and T-shirt in the ocean than bare anything more than my calves (which was a bit weird as it was, since I hate to shave so I rarely wear shorts). 

That should have made nursing at the beach much easier.  If it weren't for the sand.  My poor baby kept trying to latch, but there was a little sand on my nipple that I just couldn't seem to get rid of.  He'd start to latch on, and then he'd pull off looking disconcerted, until he finally gave up and just played in the sand.

By the time we showered off and changed to go home, he was very excited to get to nurse, so he didn't waste any time or milk on being distracted, even when his brother Sweet Pea wanted in on the photo op. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Boobs and Bubbles

Today we were at the San Diego Zoo, and when Bellybean needed to nurse I asked Adam to take some photos for my Photo Challenge.  I'm posting a breastfeeding picture each day of National Breastfeeding Month on Facebook.  The challenge is mostly just to remember to do it, and the point is to normalize nursing in public.

Today's pictures aren't fantastic, which is too bad, because I am psyched about a snazzy new camera we got.  But what occurred to me as I clicked through them - besides that my baby has gotten so big! - is that, depending on what angle Adam was taking them from, you couldn't even tell that I was breastfeeding.

I wasn't careful to cover.  To be honest, I had to zoom in to make sure Bellybean hadn't unlatched in the first photo, because I didn't want to break Facebook's "actively nursing" rule for bf photos.

Even so, as Adam sort of circled me, trying different angles, it looks as though I could just be holding a sleeping baby.

And it occurred to me that this illustrates that so often, people are unaware that a baby is being breastfed.

Of course, sometimes it feels like all eyes are on us as we nurse our babies.  Like every person in a one-mile radius is staring at your breasts and even judging you for using them as designed.

If you feel that way, look at the photo just above.

This is what nursing in public looks like. 

Most people aren't near enough to notice or at an angle to ogle.  Most people, in fact, are too caught up in what they're doing to be aware of public breastfeeding.  Even when it's obvious, they may well be oblivious.

And if maybe they're not?

Then you can be.

I like to breastfeed in a bubble.  I may have gotten dirty looks for NIP before, but I wouldn't know it.  I'm not looking around to check.  I'm talking to my kids or my husband or staring adoringly at my baby - or my smart phone - and I'm just not aware of other people.

Even if I hear a little chuckle.

Tonight on the elevator Bellybean was nursing (top down) in the Ergo when he became distracted.  My fingers flew to my nipple, covering it and then yanking my clothes over my breast.  And the man next to me chuckled.  I think.  I don't know if he saw.  Or if he was amused in a creepy-guy way that he saw a bit o' boob, or that I rushed to cover in what I'm sure was an amusing little scene, or that my cutie pie was so distracted.  Or maybe he wasn't amused at all, or not over me.  For all I know he was looking at a funny text message, or maybe Adam was picking his nose and he saw.  I don't know.  I didn't want to know.  I guess I was a tad embarrassed, but at the same time, I didn't care.  Him maybe seeing a flash of skin, him maybe thinking that was funny - it doesn't matter to my life.  The opinion of some stranger on an elevator isn't nearly as important as the fact that I ate a(n undisclosed) number of mini Reese's cups tonight even though I want to eat healthier.  It doesn't matter as much as my kids getting to bed very late tonight, or my computer being on the fritz, or that I'll be exhausted when the boys wake up at 6am CST even though I'm still up after 1am Texas time.  In fact, there's such a gap between how much those things matter compared to the minute amount of embarrassment I felt at being exposed for a second that I can honestly say that it just didn't matter at all.

So why yammer on about it for a long paragraph?

The bubble.  I stayed in my bubble.  I could have peeked over to see if he saw.  But why bother?  What good would it do me to know?  I was feeding my baby, and that was all that really mattered.

My suggestion, if you're NIP nervous, is to try being unaware of the people around you when you breastfeed.  After all, they are likely unaware of you.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Take Me Out to the Ball Game TONIGHT: The Round Rock Express Rocks for Nursing Mamas & Babies!

Nursing Bellybean at a Round Rock Express game in April

When my oldest son, now eight, was almost a year old, I read in a parenting listserv I was on about a mother who was nursing her baby at a Round Rock Express game when she was asked by an unwitting employee to go to a private room to nurse her baby.

Now this was in 2006, before Facebook was even open to the general public.  But even without the tremendous asset that is the Facebook breastfeeding advocates community, mothers rallied to the cause.  Letters flooded management, peppered with the words "boycott" and "nurse in."

The Round Rock Express' president, Dave Fendrick, who was the general manager in 2006, could have doubled down.  It happens a lot, even when people are made aware of the law.  For quite some time my school district gave that method a go.  Hollister completely ignored the public outcry of mothers in December.  And last week - during World Breastfeeding Week - the city of Burleson, Texas' mayor defended a city employee who harasssed a mother for feeding her 16-day-old baby.

But Mr. Fendrick showed more respect for the law, and for nursing mothers.  Within days the issue was resolved.  An apology was promptly issued:
We learned a valuable lesson over the past couple of days and we have now established a policy for breast feeding mothers....  We apologize for any inconvenience we caused anyone regarding this situation and look forward to having families in the Central Texas area enjoying Round Rock Express games this season.
 Not only that, a breastfeeding policy was posted to the Fan Guide section of the Express' website:

If someone is offended by the sight of a mother nursing her child, "we will offer them the opportunity to relocate," Fendrick claimed. And if they don't want to relocate? "They're just gonna have to turn their head and not watch," he declares. "We're not asking the mom to move."

That year, Dave was awarded a Breastfeeding Hero Award by Central Texas Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition.

Seven years later, not only can mothers feel certain they are welcome to breastfeed at the ball game, the Round Rock Express is also supporting breastfeeding in another way.  Last week, the Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin was the featured non-profit at a game.  As I arrived late from our Breastfeeding Month Proclamation at Austin City Hall, I heard the announcer talking about babies born so small they could fit in the palm of your hand, and how vital donated breast milk can be to their survival.  They had interviewed the director earlier in the night, and there was a kiosk set up at the entrance where people could learn more.

Our local breastfeeding coalition, Central Texas Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, will occupy that kiosk tonight.  We'll be giving away free "Eat Local" T-shirts and tote bags while they last.  Three dollars from each discounted ticket purchased with our promo code will be donated to HMHB for our breastfeeding advocacy efforts.  And hot dogs and drinks are only $1.  

Check out our free Eat Local breastfeeding T-shirts & tote
at the Breastfeeding Month Proclamation.
Photo courtesy of GA-Images by Gloria Sanchez.
Now, I'll admit that I'm not a sports fan.  Roller derby is cool (HMHB's president is Battlestar Gailactica!), but I haven't been interested in baseball since I stunk at it as a kid.  (The only time I made it home was when I was walked - once - and I once caught a ball thrown by the coach with my face.  I'm not a big baseball lover.)  That said, I've been to a couple of games this season and had a really great time.

My husband and my boys have really enjoyed watching the games.  They had pizza while I ate a salad (no gluten for me).  They enjoyed watching the goofy things people do when the cameras are on them and we can watch them smile or chicken dance on the big screen.  There's a playground we enjoyed the first time we went, and a pool we loved when attending a bloggers party.  There's also a Fun Zone that we didn't get to, but next time, we'll be rock wall climbing for sure.  I had no idea there were so many fun things to do at a ball game! 

And Bellybean's favorite part?  Nursing!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Photo Challenge Week 1

As I wrote up my National Breastfeeding Month events post, I decided to include some goals I've had in mind for awhile - plus one that just popped in my head.  I thought it would be cool, in the interest of normalizing nursing in public, to post a breastfeeding photo each day in a public forum - my Facebook page.  I figured the only thing challenging about what I for some reason called a Photo "Challenge" would just be remembering post a breastfeeding photo every day sometime before falling asleep.  It turned out to be a very emotional thing for me, though, as some of the photos and thoughts that I shared were ones that made me feel intensely vulnerable.

Day 1
Happy World Breastfeeding Week!!
Happy National Breastfeeding Month!!!

Day 1

The week started out vanilla enough.  My only concern posting this photo of Bellybean and myself in our Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies attire was that somebody out there might think I was too modest, the way my shirt fell over my little guy's nose. 

Day 2

Bellybean and I stopped at a couple of big box baby stores to drop off flyers for National Breastfeeding Month events. Between stores, getting into his car seat, he let me know in no uncertain terms that he needed to nurse.  It seems like it's getting to be a habit, needing to be topped off to survive a car ride... 

Day 2
The Car-Seat-Lean-In

Day 3

This next photo truly was a challenge to post.  Seriously.  You may think I'm bat-crap crazy, but I ugly-cried before I hit "Post." 

Over the past almost year, the more I have advocated for breastfeeding, the more I have felt in myself a growing dissonance. The incongruity of saying that breastfeeding is not sexual but being compelled to be utterly discreet while nursing leaves me feeling ill at ease either way.

I've posted lots of nursing photos on Facebook in an effort to normalize breastfeeding. And though I could just have been holding a sleeping baby for all the skin that was showing, it was still important. I've shown moms who are uncomfortable with NIP that with some practice, you can be discreet.

I guess I want to show with my actions, not just say with my words, that you don't have to be discreet if that's not important to you.

I don't want it to be important to me.

I want to rebel against the dissonance, the decades of socialization, my seven years of ninja nursing. I want to be the change I want to see in the world - to shake off the social norm expectations that are in direct conflict with public health goals. If I can't do it, how can I expect change from those who would discriminate against nursing mothers?

So there I am, being counted among the mothers who nursed in solidarity at The Big Latch On in Austin. It's just a bit of flesh. But I want that to count for something.

Day 3

Day 4
Gloria Sanchez of GA-Images offered ten mamas who follow my Facebook page free mini nursing photo sessions to celebrate National Breastfeeding Month.  I am grateful for these beautiful images of my sweet Bellybean as he begins to transform from baby to toddler!

Day 4
At Mayfield Park
Image Credit: GA-Images by Gloria Sanchez

Day 5

Part of our thirteen-year wedding anniversary celebration included brunch at Tacodeli.  I was so excited to see a mama nursing in public (the second time at Tacodeli!) and I ran to the car for a "Thank you for Breastfeeding" card.  Usually I say a quick (almost embarrassed, in my shyness) thank you, hand off the card, and bolt.  But the woman I talked to, Chelsea, recognized me from Facebook, and I got to chat with her for a bit, which was so nice! This was a highlight of my special day!

Day 5
With Chelsea and her husband and two-month-old baby at Tacodeli!

Day 6

I hadn't taken any NIP photos on the 6th, so I decided to share's collage. As much as it is important to me to support mothers when they need it and to respond to negative attitudes toward NIP, I just couldn't bring myself to get wrapped up in the negativity that happened over the weekend.  I wanted to stay positive, to enjoy World Breastfeeding Week! 

I've been putting a lot of time into working on our coalition's National Breastfeeding Month events, which suits me fine because I prefer to put my energy into things that are proactive rather than reactive.  But that's left me with almost no reactive energy for the sudden crazy onslaught of negative NIP incidents.  Thankfully, there is vast support to be found online, and the mothers involved have not lacked support from our wonderful breastfeeding community. And Paala, as always, is totally on top of all things related to NIP incidents.

Day 6's collage includes links to a ridiculous number (what is wrong with people lately?!!!) of NIP incidents
and information about actions taken on the part of advocates and businesses alike. 

Day 7

When I chose this graphic from The Leaky Boob as my Day 7 photo, I'd had two extremely awkward conversations over the preceding few days about breastfeeding.  One was regarding expectations of "respect" (on the nursing mom's part) when nursing in public, and the other was about being taken aback by seeing breastfeeding photos like this one (with an uncovered breast) on social media.  My support of nursing moms is absolute, so I would not back down from that.  And for me, having a diplomatic conversation in person is so much more challenging than doing so in writing. I both felt that I said too much, and that I left too much out. But it kind of boils down to this, though: it's just a baby eating.
Day 7
Graphic from The Leaky Boob

I mock myself a little about calling this a photo challenge.  But to be completely honest, posting a photo of breastfeeding that is not covered (by a shirt, I don't just mean a cover), is a bit of a challenge for me.

You see, for so many months I've been entrenched in this issue with my school district, and at least sometimes, I've assumed that they've surely been tuned in to my page and blog. So other than Wonder Woman in the profile pic, I've only posted breastfeeding photos that are as discreet as I am.

Now, as I evolve in how I run my page, I worry - will anyone who has supported me feel betrayed (strong word, maybe, but I can't think of a weaker one that means about the same thing) that after all my months of modesty I'm posting an uncovered photo? Will there be a mass exodus from my page?  Worse, will friends who have seen me nurse modestly for years be bothered, and if so, what will that mean for our friendship?

And on the other side of that coin, will there be someone who reads this and is insulted by me saying this is new territory for me?  That I was ruled by fear of Facebook deleting my page and personal profile, and of losing support when I needed help when I started this page, and of someone in the school district, and then in the House or Senate, not supporting our cause because I was not more... mainstream, for lack of a better word?

It's so crazy, because for one thing, I don't even have language that I feel okay about to talk about this. I get that modesty and discretion are subjective, but is that supposed to mean that I'm not supposed to use those words, even as a breastfeeding advocate?

And what about the word covered?  For me it's never meant just a big nursing cover. 
So do I nurse uncovered?  No, but what's the opposite?  Exposed?  Does that have a negative connotation?  What about breastfeeding openly?  That just sounds weird.

I feel concerned over the language in part because I have this notion that the spectrum of breastfeeding support might have on one end women who think I'm not hard core enough if I say I'm discreet, or if I post pictures of nursing modestly.  I guess that's probably/maybe just in my head.  But maybe not.  I maintain that most judgment is self-judgment, but I've seen a lot of ugly online, and not just from NIP naysayers.  It's enough to make one second guess every move, in a damned if you do, damned if you don't kinda way.  The
possibility of failing other mothers or being failed by other mothers leaves me feeling very vulnerable.

Nonetheless, including this photo is entirely for me.  It's about stilling the dissonance that I've come to feel. 

I am trying not to be ruled by fear. Because this, is just a baby eating.

If you want to join my little "challenge" and would like to share any breastfeeding photos on KANIP, you can post or PM them there or email them to me.  Please include a note saying that I can file them away for use one day on this blog or on social media.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Keep Calm and Nurse On

Written after The Big Latch On, Saturday, August 3:

I came home from a fantabulous day of celebrating breastfeeding to learn of two NIP incidents today, and I have so many notifications I can't even keep up with the progress of the stories. So I'm going to share some crummy news later. Maybe much later, because I'm almost too tired to keep my eyes open. I know these mamas are not unsupported, that there are already others responding, so I'm not leaving anyone hanging.
Before I do share the latest in the world of NIP discrimination, I want to share three happy things:

  • This morning I attended my first Big Latch On with many other moms who came together just to nurse their babies for one minute all at the same time, to celebrate breastfeeding. And this is happening across the globe for 24 hours! So that's pretty freakin' awesome.
  • A mom working at MamaCents pumped under a cover on the side of a pretty busy room like it was no big deal. I was enthralled by her. She was so nonchalant and pragmatic about it - a role model, in my eyes. We talked later & she said it actually had made her anxious. So, so, so brave. And freakin' awesome.
  • This afternoon I talked to an employee at Office Max wearing my Keep Austin Breastfeeding T-shirt and nursing my very distractible 13-month-old Bellybean. I swear to you, this young man did not bat an eye. He had to have realized I was breastfeeding, but I did not see it even register, he was so unfazed. Freakin'. Awesome.

When I started this page I was quick to share every NIP incident that came up in my News Feed. Then one day I realized that there was so much negativity on my page - and that the negativity does not reflect real life. Most babies are nursed without incident.

So sometimes I'm following an incident and commenting on a business' page, but it's that positive outcome that I want to get to share here, if/when it happens. Of course I'll always do my best to support mamas who need it, and to rally the troops as necessary.

I want to be sure to communicate here that while harassment and discrimination happen much too often, it is not the norm. I nursed for a combined total of six years before anyone ever said anything unsupportive to me when I was nursing in public.

So nurse on, mamas. Even when you're anxious, look nonchalant. Be pragmatic. And be brave. Because every time you nurse in public, you make incremental changes in our society that are going to add up to a new societal norm by the time our children are grown and have their own babies who need to be nurtured. Thanks to you.