Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Giddy Up!

Christmas is in just a few days and I am as giddy as this kid:

OK, so it's not Christmas. After all, there are no gifts to buy or wrap, no decorations to put up and take down, no staggering credit card bill coming next month (well, hopefully not...).

So, what is stress-free yet Christmas-level exciting for a lactivist? Why, August, of course!  The first week is World Breastfeeding Week and the whole month is National Breastfeeding Month!

There are so many events going on in Central Texas to celebrate, and I am looking forward to them all gleefully!  The month will kick off with The Big Latch On, which you can see me discuss with Amber Rogers and reporter Jennifer Borget on YNN Austin below.  Jennifer has a new son, and is breastfeeding him during the interview as Amber and I are breastfeeding our babies!  So yeah, she's kind of a hero of mine.

YNN Austin story here, with video available to Time Warner customers

How's that for normalizing breastfeeding?!  AND she's a breastfeeding working mom!  Hero.

So - the Latch On.  I was nursing an almost-two-month old last year at this time. I needed to buy Magoo school clothes and wanted to go to the MamaCents Consignment Sale anyway, but I was psyched to go toThe Big Latch On that they were hosting. With only one car, I was relying on Adam to get home on time for me to get to the latch on. He did not. (A fact he won't soon forget...)

But this year I WILL nurse my almost 14-month-old at two of three local latch ons!

In Austin:
  • Saturday, August 3rd at 10:30am sharp at the MamaCents Consignment Sale at Marchesa Hall & Theatre (6226 Middle Fiskville Rd. Austin, TX)
In Round Rock:
  • Saturday, August 3rd at 10:30am sharp at BabyEarth (106 E Old Settlers Blvd D-100, Round Rock, TX)
The whole point is to show that we value breastfeeding through this challenge to have the most moms nursing in one location at the same time.  So invite all of your friends, and nurse in solidarity with women across the globe!  If you Facebook, you can RSVP on Facebook for the event(s) you plan to attend:
While you're on Facebook, be sure to like Central Texas Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition. There's another challenge going on there - we've been challenged to catch up to Tarrant County Breastfeeding Coalition in our number of Facebook "likes."  (And hey, you might as well like my page, too, if you haven't yet!)

But I digress.

On Wednesday, August 7th at noon I'll be with some of the coolest broads in town at our Central Texas Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition Monthly Meeting. These meetings are always on the first Wednesday of every month at Any Baby Can, 1121 E. 7th St., Austin, Texas. Anyone is welcome, so come join us!  All the cool kids are doing it!

Thursday, August 8th is going to be a very. busy. day.  But there is no way I would miss the USBC National Breastfeeding Month Webinar:
Action for the Summer Recess
.  Learn more about supporting breastfeeding legislation?!!  Booyah!!!  If you followed our legislative efforts in Texas this spring, are a member of We Support Texas Breastfeeding Laws with Enforcement, or just plain support breastfeeding, you need to register for the webinar, too, and be online from 1:00-2:30pm CST.  

With powerhouses Michelle Hickman, Dr. Susan Landers, MD,
and Gail Gresham, IBCLC.  We spoke to the Business and Industry
Committee in support of breastfeeding legislation in March.

After the webinar I'll be heading over to Austin City Hall (301 West 2nd St, Austin, TX) from 4:30-6:30 for the Breastfeeding Month Proclamation!  Central Texas Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB) will be giving away free breastfeeding T-shirts! You read me right! I said Free BREASTFEEDING T-Shirts!!! There will be lots of other cool stuff, too - a Mayoral Proclamation (you know I loves me some politics!), Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin will be there (loves me some milk bank, too!), and other vendors and giveaways, and I think (fingers crossed!) some free ice cream!

If my exclamation points have not convinced you that you should attend, maybe this will:

That "Keep Austin Breastfeeding" T-shirt I'm wearing was the Free BREASTFEEDING T-Shirt!!! for the past couple of years. This year we're bustin' out a new design, so be there or be naked.

After Mayor Leffingwell proclaims that August is hereby National Breastfeeding Month and thereby Breastfeeding Month here in Austin, there's more breastfeeding advocacy to be done in Round Rock with the Mothers’ Milk Bank at the Ball Game!  The Round Rock Express will feature Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin as their Spotlight Nonprofit starting at 6:30pm. Personally, the fact that the only time I ever made it to home plate in third grade was when I was walked, and that I caught a ball thrown by my coach with my face kind of turned me off of baseball. But we celebrated Father's Day/Magoo's Due Date at a Round Rock Express game eight years ago, and it's really pretty fun. And I went to a game earlier this season as a guest at a blogger party that the Round Rock Express held and was really impressed by how much fun it is to be there.

So buy me some peanuts and cracker jack, cause Adam is psyched to take the boys again, either that night OR (maybe and) on August 12, 2013 at 6:30 pm, when Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies is at the Ball Game!  Because the Round Rock Express is so awesome, they'll be featuring HMHB, too!

Both games are home games at The Dell Diamond, located at 3400 E Palm Valley Blvd, Round Rock, TX.  Discounted ticket information for MMBA can be found here and for HMHB, information will soon be available here.

NIP at the Round Rock Express blogger party

On August 14th, MMBA will rock out with Lex Land at Central Market (4001 North Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX) from 7:00-9:00pm. Come to the Rock-a-Bye Baby Concert not just for awesome tunes, but also for cool prizes and edumacation about milk banking!

You can learn even more about milk banking on a Milk and Cookies Tour!  August tours are
  • Monday, August 19th from 2:00-3:00pm
  • Tuesday, August 20th from 10:30-11:30am
  • Wednesday, August 21st from 6:00-7:00pm
  • Thursday, August 22nd from 12:00-1:00pm
MMMmmm, cookies.

Cookie Monster and the Milk Monster (source)

All tours will take place at the Milk Bank (2911 Medical Arts St. #12, Austin, TX).  More details here

And last but not least, National Breastfeeding Month for me will end with brunch at the zoo, where Mothers' Milk Bank will show their appreciation for Austin area milk donors, recipient families, healthcare providers, milk depots, and supporters with an Austin Appreciation Brunch on Saturday, August 31st from 10:00-11:30am at Austin Zoo (10808 Rawhide Trail, Austin, TX).

I have some personal goals for World Breastfeeding Week, as well.

  1. On August 1st I have well checks scheduled for my oldest and youngest boys. I plan to open a dialogue with our wonderful pediatrician that will begin a test run for a campaign I want to launch.  I want to help to empower parents to demand, as consumers, better lactation support from the medical community (as well as some tools for pediatricians to meet our need).
  2. We (HMHB) will be putting out a survey to get feedback about why respondents are or are not a member of their local breastfeeding coalition. (Hint: if you're here reading this - YOU should be in a coalition!) We'll also begin a newsletter that I plan to help with.  Wait - is that one goal or two? 
  3. I want to improve upon my blog and Facebook page with a shiny new logo. So I'll be having a contest! Woot! I will announce the winning submission on September 5th, the anniversary of the NIP incident that put me on this path to begin with - so really, a day I want to celebrate.
  4. I think I'd like to try to post a NIP photo to Facebook every day of August.  Then I'll make a blog post of them, maybe. 
  5. I want to see, finally, a resolution with AISD.  We think we're all but there.  I can't wait for it to be official!
Nursing at my first AISD board meeting. 
Hopefully my next will be my last.

Monday, July 22, 2013

If I Could Save Time in a Bottle

Yesterday I woke to find out that my Grandma Rae, one of my favorite people in the world, had passed away at 3:19 a.m.

She was 87. 

It wasn't old enough.

I knew when I said goodbye on our last visit a year and a half ago, and again on our last phone call on her birthday months ago, that it might be our last goodbye.  And yet, as with all things, I really thought there would be more time.

More time to call, when the kids weren't running around screaming in the background.  More time to visit, when money to fly wasn't so tight.

But now time has run out, and she is gone...

Talking to my Grandma Rae the last time I saw her,
pregnant with Bellybean and talking about her births

Just over a week ago I embarrassed the crap out of myself crying out of the blue in front of a very sweet woman I don't know very well.  I felt so stupid.  I was dropping off a donation of breastmilk to Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin, and when I was thanked for donating, I made the mistake of saying, "I just wish it had been more."  And with that came the waterworks.

Dropping off my 100 ounces

In January I'd been to a Milk and Cookies Tour of the milk bank, and afterward, I'd signed up to be a donor.  I got my blood test within days, which costs the milk bank money, but I didn't start pumping right away.  I wanted larger flanges, but put off driving up to Special Addition to get them.  The kitchen was a mess and I didn't want to go in there to wash - and boil - extra dishes until it was spic and span (which never happened).  The situation at AISD was neverending, we got a virus, I worked long and hard on the school's silent auction, I got sucked into legislative work that ruled. my. life.  But it was going to be okay.  I had time.  I had until Bellybean turned a year old.  That was so much time.
Bellybean's chocolate birthday cake

And then it wasn't, and we were singing "Happy Birthday" over a chocolate cake at Kerbey Lane after a day at the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch. 

With my oldest, Magoo, I only donated about 100 ounces.  I had oversupply until he was six months old - I was soaking through sheets every night, needing an extra shirt or two in the diaper bag in case I blew through all of the breast pads I had in there and then leaked all down the front of whatever I was wearing.  But I didn't get around to pumping until my supply leveled out, and I didn't know about The Milk-Saver until well after Bellybean was born.  So I was really disappointed not to donate more.  I planned to make up for it with Sweet Pea.  Then adjusting to life with two kids got in the way.  When I committed to donating some of Bellybean's milk, I was shooting for a minimum of 500 ounces in my head.  Never mind that as a stay-at-home mom I've never much pumped just for my own kids or even gotten them to take a bottle.  Never mind that my oversupply had resolved months before by following my midwife's advice to block nurse.  I thought I would pump the initial donation of 100 ounces, then keep pumping for two months as requested, and then keep on going.  But all I managed, again, was 100 ounces.  And then there was no time left.

I'm sure there was an element of knowing that Bellybean is growing so fast and that he's our last baby that contributed to the tears that just kept coming.  Even with my kids in the backseat when I got back in my car, even needing to go into Jason's Deli for a late lunch, the stupid tears just kept coming

But it wasn't just about time passing.  It was that my time was up.

I value integrity very highly, just under honesty, which probably tops my list of necessary traits in people I want to be friends with.  Nonetheless, often, I lack integrity.  I forgive myself, though, because there's still time to schedule that playdate I promised.  There's still time to do better about signing the homework log next week.  I can start the Orange Rhino Challenge again tomorrow, get the house clean next weekend, start that diet next month.  I'll play with the kids once the laundry is done.

But to donate breastmilk that can literally save the lives of the most medically fragile babies, there is just one year, because our milk changes to meet the needs of our own babies as they become toddlers.  And I ran out of time. 

No more telling myself tomorrow, next week, next month, next baby. 

I can donate money, fundraise, raise awareness - but I can no longer donate the most important thing the milk bank never has enough of - breastmilk.

If you're reading this as a lactating mom of a baby under one, please consider donating your milk to babies in need. 

There are drop off points all over the place if you're not close to a milk bank, or you can ship your milk.  Insurance is supposed to cover a pump.  And though I for one hated pumping a few months ago, I came to love it just because I associated the honor of donating my milk (and maybe some oxytocin helped, too!) with the tedium of washing pump parts, boiling them, washing my breasts, having the baby wake up mid-session and needing to wash my boob again after nursing him back to sleep... - all of the annoying stuff became this warm, fuzzy, I-get-to-watch-TV-while-I-pump-now feeling. 

So donate now, before time runs out. 

And call your grandma.
After my high school graduation in 1994 with my
Grandma Hannan, Aunt Anne, & Grandma Rae.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Breastfeeding Promotion, 4-Year-Old Style

When my baby, Bellybean, my four-year-old, Sweet Pea, and I first started visiting legislators about two breastfeeding bills during the regular 83rd session, Sweet Pea had filled a sheet of paper with Dora stickers on the car ride to the Capitol.  While we went office to office, he wanted to share his stickers with the staffers.  He'd carefully peel off one sticker at a time and pass them out to each staffer, saying sweetly every time with practiced enunciation, "Do you want a sticker?"  I really can't convey how precious that enunciation was.  To meet him, you might not know that he was diagnosed at two with a severe speech disorder.  He still needs speech therapy.  It's hard to understand him when he's upset, or talking fast, but he gets by.  He articulates as best he can, and is pretty well spoken.  But I treasure that I can still hear in my mind the slow cadence in his high-pitched little-boy voice as he perfected that question: "Do you want a sticker?"  He charmed the crap out of people. 

And he was delighted to make people happy.

The second day that we returned to the Capitol, the Dora stickers had all been distributed.  A friend had ordered "Thank You for Breastfeeding" license to breastfeed cards from WIC for me, and with them, a roll of stickers. 

So while asking for support of breastfeeding legislation, Sweet Pea passed out sticker after sticker at the Capitol, adding "breastfeeding" to his pitch, and sometimes calling out in the halls like a carnival barker, "Get your free breastfeeding sticker.  Breastfeeding stickers for sale.  Get your free breastfeeding sticker."

And I would grin a big Cheshire grin, adoring my little activist.

Passing out stickers at the cafeteria at the Capitol

Today Sweet Pea noticed the stickers, which had fallen out of the box they were in.  We were on our way out the door to the post office to mail birthday cards to Magoo's teacher.  Sweet Pea wanted to be Sticker Boy on our errand.  I said no, as I am sometimes wont to while trying to herd three kids out the door, and he began to cry.  Realizing how much it mattered to him, I changed course, and I am thankful that I did.  He calmed down, and I was so impressed as he told me that he would tell people, "If you have a baby and it cries, you have to breastfeed it."

You might worry that people would react badly - much the way we worry someone would react badly to nursing in public.  But all I saw - all I've seen on the many days that Sticker Boy has spread his joy - is smiles.  Some of the chuckles may be ever-so-slightly embarrassed, but the rudest thing anyone has ever done has just been to decline a sticker in their haste - and even that is a rarity.  Often, in fact, people read the web address under the little pink baby and affirm the importance of breastfeeding.

At the post office Sweet Pea offered a sticker to the postal worker, and said (because it's all he really knows), "If you have a baby, you have to breastfeed it."  And she said, "Oh, I know all about that.  I breastfed my daughter 'til she was four!"

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Squirrel Nudity - Protect the Little Children!

Scandalous?  Or just really freakin' cute?
Photo Source

Shopping for Bellybean's birthday at Whole Earth Provision Co., I came across this novelty item:

Just a silly, funny little wee pair of underwear.  Amused, I read the back:

A portion of the proceeds from this
product will be donated to the
"Small Animal Decency Fund"
which seeks to rid our
neighborhoods of any potentially
offensive naturally occurring
indecent exposures. 

"The poor little things don't even
know that they are naked! 
We've got to educate the animals
and protect our children!"
- Worried Mother
 Do I even have to explain what this has to do with nursing in public?

Well, probably, yes, because the connection may not be too obvious if you don't live in my head.  So, briefly:

...blah, blah, blah NIP is no more indecent than a naked squirrel blah blah....  blah blah worrying about exposing kids to NIP is about as ridiculous as putting squirrels in underwear blah...

You get the picture, right?

Of course, I don't want to offend anyone who worries about their kids seeing breastfeeding.  I get that it's outside of your comfort zone.  It's likely outside of what you consider to be a societal norm. 

Thing is, unless kids are exposed to the reality that breastfeeding is the healthy, biological norm, breastfeeding will never be a societal norm.  Not only that, but without knowing it before they're old enough to catch on that breasts are sexualized, how weird will it be to then have to adjust to the notion that primarily, they're for feeding babies?

So.  In the interest of public health, we must all support mamas who nurse their babies - even in public, even where children may see.  And in the interest of the mental health of squirrels, we must let them go commando.  The world doesn't need another "Super Squirrel" like the one that terrorized my alma mater ages ago.

America's Biggest Problem?
Not NIP!