Friday, July 11, 2014

Can You Help Michael?



A friend of mine helped you, though you may not even know it.  

Now I'd like to tell you how you can help her.

This blog started because my sons' school district adopted a regulation requiring nursing mothers to go to a private room.  The chief legal counsel insisted this was legal and claimed that the practice was in place "at the City of Austin, Travis County, The University of Texas, Seton Family of Hospitals, and other school districts in the Austin area."

Knowing this to be hogwash and having majored in journalism, my dear friend Rachel Ham started contacting the places on the list, systematically refuting every claim.  It was her call to Hays Consolidated Independent School District that led to the breastfeeding-friendly policy there.  Austin ISD's Board Policy Committee drew heavily on the Hays policy when deciding to adopt a regulation that upholds the law.

So that's a little bit about Rachel, and how she helped breastfeeding moms, and one way in which she is awesome.


Rachel's little boy is very, very ill.  Scary ill.  

Although she breastfed Michael for 14 months and breastmilk helps to prevent C. diff infections, he got sick with it seven months ago and has been fighting re-infections ever since.  The doctors are resorting to a rarely used treatment not covered by Rachel's health insurance, so on top of everything else her family is going through, they now have to find a way to pay for a treatment they cannot afford but is vital to getting Michael safe.

You can help here: Help the Hams

I know there are so many things out there that you could do with your money.  I know you're probably here because if I ever ask anything of you, it's usually about breastfeeding advocacy and that matters to you.  I know this isn't about breastfeeding.

I've felt so helpless as Michael has gotten sick over and over again.  I've been so afraid for them, cried so many tears, prayed so many prayers.  I'm writing about this here because it's something I can do, to try to help.  I can ask you to please consider helping, even just in a small way.  I can't cure Michael, but I can try to help lift this unnecessary financial burden from his family.  I hope you'll help, too.


Sweet Michael, exhausted by the
constant fight his body is waging.





Thursday, July 10, 2014

National Breastfeeding Month Events in Austin

August is National Breastfeeding Month and the first week is World Breastfeeding Week!  How will you celebrate the breastfeedingest time of the year?!

I'll do my best to update the events below as new details come up.  I have some ideas that I'm really excited about but I need to find some time and help to make them happen.  



I was honored to be a part of Leilani Rogers' Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project.
Check out her blog and Facebook page August 1-7 for more wonderful NIP photos.
Membership Drive:
Did you know that you can be a part of your state and local breastfeeding coalitions?  This strengthens the coalitions, because there is strength in numbers, and gives you more opportunities to promote and support breastfeeding.  You can encourage your friends, family, pediatrician, dentist, hair stylist, midwife group, doula group, ETC.! to join - and win a prize!  What prize, you ask?  I'm not sure just yet - I'm still working on that.  For sure it will include an autographed book by Barbara Wilson-Clay!  If you'd like to contribute to the prizes, contact me at KeepAustinNIP@gmail.com and include "Prizes" in the subject.  To WIN a prize, have those you refer be certain to include your name as the person who referred them.  The prize(s) will go to whomever recruits the most members (with extra weight given to recruited organizations), and if there is a tie the winner will be randomly chosen from the top recruiters.
Join Central Texas Breastfeeding Coalition (we're transitioning from the name Central Texas Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition) for $10/year as an individual or for $30/year as an organization here and have your recruits include your name
 in the "Specific Interests" field of the membership form.
Join Texas Breastfeeding Coalition for $10 per individual, $25 for agencies/organizations, and $100 for businesses.  Ask your recruits to include your name with the committee they would like to join on the form here.
Breastfeeding T-shirts:
Image courtesy of Melissa Mason Hansen
If you need another reason to join CTBC, here it is!  T-shirts with this fantastic breastfeeding Rosie the Riveter image by artist Melissa Mason Hansen will be available with membership beginning with our August 9th screening of The Milky Way (see events list below).  T-shirts will be available for pick up by members/with membership registration at select August events including the Community Breastfeeding Support Initiative on August 20, while supplies last.




At last year's latch on event.
My biggest kid snuggling my littlest
during the latch.  So sweet.
August 2
Event:
Latch On Texas
Are you ready to get your Latch On?!!  Latch On Texas will highlight breastfeeding by having mothers across Texas breastfeeding their babies at Latch On Texas sites across the state.  It is an inclusive event open to mothers feeding their babies their own breastmilk or donor milk via SNS, syringe, tube, or other delivery method.  (This event is in lieu of The Big Latch On, which is now sponsored by a for-profit milk bank.  Many advocates are uncomfortable with this as our priority is the HMBANA non-profit milk banks like Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin.)
Two Locations:
In Austin: The Natural Baby Company, 515 South Congress, Suite 200, Austin)
Time: 10:00am; Latch will be promptly at 10:30am for 1 minute; store will open at 9:30am
Details: The Natural Baby Company will give each participant a free pair of Bamboobies nursing pads, and Central Texas Breastfeeding Coalition will bring CDs and breastfeeding literature from WIC.  We will have two fantastic photographers - Paige Wilks Photography and An Infinite Moment - check them out!  They're both participant photographers in Leilani Rogers' Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project (see her #PBAP2014 interview here with one of my breastfeeding heroes, Jennifer Borget).
In Round Rock: Farmer's Market at 300 University Blvd. (parking lot of Scott and White Hospital)

Time: 9:00am-10:30am; Latch will be promptly at 10:30am for 1 minute
Details: Williamson County WIC is hosting this event.  To sign in go to the WIC ROCK and REST station anytime between 9:00 and 10:30.




August 2
Event: Concerts for a Cause
Father and (9-year-old) son duo Rockaroni & Cheese will give a concert benefiting Central Texas Breastfeeding Coalition.  (By the by, this is my husband and kid, and they're kind of freaking awesome!)  Fancy Fig Photography will provide a photo booth, and Grammy's Tasty Treats will donate 20% of proceeds to CTBC.  Share the Facebook event page with your friends!

Location: Milt’s BBQ Pit, 208 W. Center St., Kyle
Time: 5:30-8:00pm
Cost: Donation


Rockaroni and Cheese

August 7
Event: "Breastfeeding Month Concert"
Join Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin for awesome music, prizes and of course lots of fun at the third annual breastfeeding month concert! Featuring the highly acclaimed Austin musician Elizabeth McQueen, this breastfeeding and milk banking awareness concert is FREE and family-friendly!
Location: Central Market North 
Time: 6:30pm-9:00pm
Cost: Free


August 9
Event:
The Milky Way” screening, with Panel Discussion & Breastfeeding Month Proclamation

CTBC helped to fund this incredible documentary, and we are proud to offer a screening in celebration of National Breastfeeding Month!  A panel discussion with special guests Julie Stagg from DSHS, Tracy Erickson of Texas WIC, pediatrician Dr. Vaidyanathan, IBCLC and CTBC vice president Janet Jones, and myself will follow the film, and City Council Member Laura Morrison will present a Proclamation.  For more information, go here.  Remember - the awesome T-shirts will be available at the event for members!
Location: Alamo Drafthouse, 5701 W. Slaughter Lane, Austin Time: 1:00pm-4:00pm
Cost: $30 (includes lunch).  Purchase tickets here.


August 12

Event: Round Rock Express Baseball Game
Spend the evening with Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin celebrating milk banking and breastfeeding while cheering on the Round Rock Express. MMBA will be the featured non-profit of the night. 
Location: Dell Diamond
Time: 7:00pm
Cost: Ticket information TBA

August 18
Event: Milk & Cookies Tour
Curious to see what goes on in the lab after milk has been donated to Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin? Join a Milk & Cookies Tour of the Milk Bank lab followed by milk (or coffee) and cookies. Feel free to bring your kids along! Space is limited, so please RSVP to Allie at allison@milkbank.org if you are interested in attending.
Location: Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin
Time: 10:30am-11:30am

August 19 
Event: Milk & Cookies Tour
See August 18th for more info.
Time: 2:00pm-3:00pm

August 20
Event: Milk & Cookies Tour
See August 18th for more info.
Time: 5:30pm-6:30pm

August 20
Event: Community Breastfeeding Support Initiative
Austin/Travis County Health & Human Services WIC,Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Programs, and Texas Department of State Health Services Texas Ten Step Star Achiever Program are collaborating on the Breastfeeding Support Information and Networking Session.  CTBC will join the meeting in lieu of our regualar August meeting, from 1:30-4:30 in the Boyd Vance Theatre at the George Washington Carver Museum (1165 Angelina St, Austin).

Please join this gathering of the community, including providers, organizations, public health programs, elected and appointed officials, and families that want to learn about Texas breastfeeding support initiatives and to share information, resources, and ideas to strengthen community-based breastfeeding support for new families.


RSVP to wichelp@austintexas.gov by August 13, 2014. Please indicate the name of your organization (if any) and the number of attendees.

A reception will follow immediately to celebrate WIC's 40th anniversary!

Our fantastic CTBC breastfeeding T-shirts will be available to members at this event.

Please invite anyone you think would like to attend.

Find a Facebook event page for this meeting here.



August 21
Event: Milk & Cookies Tour
See August 18th for more info.
Time: 12:00pm-1:00pm


August 22
Event: Milk & Cookies Tour
See August 18th for more info.
Time: 10:30am-11:30am


August 26
Event: Mom’s Place Open House
Learn more about Mom’s Place, WIC’s Breastfeeding Clinic!
Location: Mom's Place, 8701-B Research Boulevard (Hwy 183), Austin
Time: 10:00am-6:00pm

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Positive Breastfeeding Reference in Game of Thrones

Once I get a load of laundry in the washing machine, I get to watch Game of Thrones, cause it's back on this week!  Which reminds me, I've been meaning to make a GOT meme.

Did you catch the breastfeeding reference in the first episode this season?

Prince Oberyn is talking to Tyrion, and he says, "The last time I was in the capital was many years ago. Another wedding. My sister Elia and Rhaegar Targaryen. The last dragon. My sister loved him. She bore his children. Swaddled them, rocked them, nursed them at her own breast. She wouldn’t let the wet nurse touch them."

I won't quote the rest, cause it gets awful as it takes a turn for tragedy, as you know if you're a fan, and my point is supposed to be a happy one:

Breastfeeding was mentioned in a widely-viewed television show, and it wasn't for a laugh!

So often when breastfeeding comes up in media it's a joke, like an episode of Friends where Joey and Chandler freak out about Carol breastfeeding Ben, and later there's milk-tasting by several characters.

There's even been a study done on references to breastfeeding in the media, and it's no surprise that they're not often well done.

I read an article recently that suggests that NIP laws have limited influence (failing to recognize that it's because they lack enforcement provisions) and suggests that if Victoria's Secret sold nursing bras that would have a far-reaching impact.  I think it would be great if Victoria's Secret sold nursing bras again, but if you've followed me for long you know how strongly I feel legislation would make a tremendous difference!

BUT, I do think that TV could so much to normalize breastfeeding.  Think of what it's done for other social issues.

Now, Game of Thrones did previously show breastfeeding in a way that made it intentionally creepy, so they didn't win any points there.  But I was excited at its mention this season.  Not only was it not a joke, it was said to illustrate the depth of a mother's love for her children.

Now that kind of a reference to breastfeeding could do a world of good to, as Baby's Breastie puts it, "normalize society."

Monday, May 26, 2014

Diaper Bags - What to Carry AND an Awesome Giveaway!

To celebrate reaching 2,000 "Likes" on my Facebook page, The Natural Baby Company - Austin, TX is sponsoring a giveaway of an award-winning, eco-friendly Lassig diaper bag, valued at $154!  Check it out here - it's super cool - made from recycled materials and full of pockets and extra goodies like a changing pad.  You can enter to win below the suggestions for what you might want to carry in your diaper bag!

At MommyCon with Whitney, the sweet & lovely owner of TNBC.
A note about the giveaway: This blog and my Facebook page are, I think, equal parts local and global.  So don't let the name fool you - feel free to read and like from outside of Austin!  And after all, there's that whole "Think Global, Act Local" notion.  That said, the contest involves FB-liking local-to-me breastfeeding coalitions CTBC and TXBC, a diaper charity, and of course, The Natural Baby Co.  Even if you're not local, I'm sure you'll still see great stuff in your news feed as a result.  And you may be inspired to seek out similar organizations in your area - wouldn't that be cool?

On Diaper Bags

I'm no BabyGuyNYC, but I was a Girl Scout, so I know a little something about having an over-prepared, bulging-at-the-seams diaper bag. Now in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse, the only truly vital baby gear for me is boobs. But if we're just talking playdates and grocery shopping, you may want to have a bunch of crap for their... well, crap.

There are a few ways to go with diaper bags.  You've heard how moms sometimes handle a dropped pacifier with multiple kids, right?  Sanitize with the first, blow them off with the second, just hand it right back to the third?

Well, if you have just one child, you may opt to have one very large, very well-stocked diaper bag that will do double duty as your purse, because it will be with you always.

If you are on your second child, you might stuff a diaper and travel wipes case into your purse, and pop the purse into your big old diaper bag, so that the diaper bag can stay in the car and you can just grab your purse to run into places.

With the third kid?  Let's just say, hopefully there will be a few loose diapers floating around in the car if you've already used the one from your purse the next time Baby has a blow-out!

True confession, though - the first time I took my oldest down the street to see his pediatrician, the nurse, needing to weigh him without a diaper, asked me if I had a diaper for him.  I did not!  We lived just six minutes away, and it hadn't occurred to me that we'd need a diaper while we were so close to home for just a short while!

Actually, my wonderful first diaper bag that I'd left home that day finally crapped out (pun intended - sorry, couldn't help it!) when Bellybean, my third son, was wee little.  It was an extensively-researched, carefully-selected backpack.  The backpack part stunk when I was wearing a kid on my back, but otherwise it was perfectly awesome - full of many pockets so I could organize every little thing.

Its replacement, my new-to-me/consignment-sale-find, has a changing pad that does not detach from the bag.  If you don't win the Lassig bag and you're reading this still needing to buy a bag - do NOT get one with an attached pad.  These are stupid.  One messy change and the whole bag needs to go in the washing machine.  And if your oldest son cracks his head open doing a back flip into the pool while you're cleaning up a blow-out - well, then you're really screwed, cause you'll be rushing to the emergency room with that thing, terrified that you're going to get poo germs in your kid's head wound.  But I digress.  Or flash back. Whatever.

Anyway - here's a Girl-Scoutified list of what to pack in your (first kid's) diaper bag.  Grab some popcorn and settle in - it's very thorough.

Krisdee's Diaper Bag Crap Checklist
  • Bib - If you use one.  Is it lazy that I never did?
  • Blanket - There are blankets for swaddling that have Velcro to help you get it right - they're awesome. I have blankets that are just thin cotton fabric with a hem, which are perfect in Texas.
  • Bottles/Formula/Expressed Milk - If you're bottle feeding, be sure to keep all of the accoutrements ready to go.  If you're carrying EBM, you'll want some ice packs and a cooler, or an insulated pocket on your diaper bag.
  • Burp Cloth - Especially if you have a very spitty baby.
  • Business Cards - If you don't have any, consider printing some "Mommy Cards" to give to moms you meet while out and about.  Start building your mama tribe!
  • Camera - Hooray for cell phones!  When my 8.5-year-old was born, I don't think my phone took pictures.  Now if there's a Kodak Moment (does that phrase date me?), we've got our smart phones at the ready.  But, let's face it, even when you Instagram it up, many cell pics just suck.  It's nice to sometimes have a real camera along.
  • Car Seat Locking Clip - We don't usually use ours, but we have when we've traveled.
  • Change of Clothes - Or maybe two.  Including socks, which we sometimes leave the house without, but then want later when the air conditioning makes a place too chilly for baby toes.  Don't forget a change of clothes for Baby's potty-training older sibling, too.
  • Changing Pad - Eventually you may just change your kids on concrete or picnic benches, but to start, at least, you'll want a nice padded, washable (not attached to your bag) changing pad.  Two might be nice, to swap in the extra if one gets blasted and is in the laundry.
  • Checklist - With Kid #1, I'd use a checklist to be sure I'd restocked my bag every now and again.  You can find my free printable list here.  Save it as a Google Doc to customize it.
  • Contact/Emergency Info - Just in case, throw in an index card with your contact information, including an emergency contact or three and your pediatrician's number, and any allergy/medication information.  That way if your bag is lost or there's an emergency, there's information to help.  You might want to throw in a couple, and when you're in a large crowd you can put one in your child's shoe in case you are separated.
  • Diaper Rash Cream - California Baby is really nice, and is rated a "1" on the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database (a site I highly recommend!).  There are some that are a zero, though, too.  I should check those out...
  • Diapers - Enough for 2-3 days, because you won't want to have to restock on the daily.
  • Disposable Bags - If you're using disposable diapers, you can usually fold up a diaper and close it up with the tabs.  But some blow-outs require a plastic bag, because trying to get that diaper all closed up is like trying to get a tent back into a tent bag.  There are biodegradable bags for disposing of diapers, if you want to limit your ecological footprint to just the disposable diapers and not bags on top of that. I always re-used plastic grocery bags, but Austin is bag-free now.  Find a pocket on your diaper bag to zip these away when stored so they aren't played with, since they pose a suffocation risk.
  • Ear Plugs - Not a necessity at all, but the disposable ones don't take up any real space, and they've come in handy before when we've left our good ear muffs at home and we've been at, say, a hockey game, or concert, or a Chinese New Year celebration (lots of firecrackers!).
  • First-Aid Kit - Bandaids, mostly, but one of those little travel kits with extras might be nice.  Just be sure there aren't medicines that your little one could eventually tear into.
  • Hand Sanitizer - I prefer something natural like Burt's Bees, because the Triclosan in most antibacterial gels scares me.  If you saw that episode of "House" with the pathologist who has thyroid psychosis, then you know what I'm talking about. (Thyroid psychosis is not a medical term as far as I'm aware. But it makes more sense to me than "myxedema crisis.")
  • Hat - For sun or cold, depending on the season.  In winter it can be nice to have a an extra pair of mittens, too, in case it's colder than expected once you're out and about, or if you stay out late.  And in summer (so, February to October here), those baby-sized sunglasses not only help with half the job of a sunhat, they are cuuuuute - if you can keep them on Baby's head.
  • Instant Cold Compress - This seemed brilliant when I saw them in the Dollar Spot at Target long ago.  Never used it.
  • Jacket - Just in case it gets chilly or the coat (s)he's wearing falls victim to bodily fluids.
  • Lanolin - If you have a sample size or have had discomfort, it can be nice to keep some on hand, but you may never need it.
  • Nail Clippers - Because the only time you ever remember to trim your baby's nails is when you have no clippers handy.  Or is that just me?
  • Nursing Cover - IF you're more comfortable nursing in public with a cover, remember to tuck this in your bag.  Just know that they are not a requirement.
  • Nursing Pads - I had oversupply, so I've needed nursing pads when my babies were born, until my supply leveled out. There are cloth ones, disposable, & also silicone ones that stick to your boobs.
  • Pen/Pencil & Notebook - For making grocery/to do lists in the car while waiting for an interminable nap to end, or for whatever other writing needs arise.  This habit formed for me pre-smart phone, but still - batteries die.
  • Purse/Purse Stuff - Either your whole purse, or everything you'd usually carry in it - wallet, chapstick, keys, phone, etc.
  • Shirt for Mom - Leaky boobs and spit up can make this a nice extra to have handy.
  • Shoes - If you're like me and you often carry your toddler to the car forgetting that, now that (s)he toddles, (s)he needs shoes, throw an extra pair into the diaper bag.
  • Sippy Cup - Kleen Kanteen makes my fave.  Side note - as a lazy mom, I recommend water only in sippy cups.  A rogue sippy cup with juice or milk is not a sippy cup you want to find two weeks later...
  • Sling or Wrap - I like to keep a pouch sling in my diaper bag in case I forget to bring my Ergo with me.  It doesn't take up much space at all (I can even fit it in my pocket).  In Austin, you can get babywearing help (even rentals) here. Outside of Austin, look here for help.
  • Snacks - Pack healthy snacks for yourself, the baby if (s)he's eating solids, and anybody else whose hanger (the anger that results when a someone is insanely hungry) may impact your day.
  • Sunscreen - Because that stuff needs constant reapplications, so you can't get away with just using the bottle at home before you head out the door.  I don't want any chemical sunscreens being absorbed by my family members' skin, so although it doesn't go on as super easy and I have to try to rub it in well to avoid the ghostly pallor of a physical barrier sunscreen, my favorite is by Badger. It gets a good rating on Skin Deep®.  Recommendations are that babies under six months should not wear sunscreen, but should instead be kept out of the sun.
  • Teether - Rubber teethers are pricey, but are a safe, natural material. No worrying about BPAs, or whatever they're using to replace BPAs in plastics.
  • Thank You for Breastfeeding Cards - These are a must for me.  It's easier for me as an introvert who tends to feel shy, to approach a breastfeeding mom if I have a card I can hand her.  And since my own negative NIP incident, I've vowed to always say something nice to nursing mamas when I see them.
  • Thermometer - I've actually bought one when out and about - first kid, of course. Then I kept that one in the bag in case I worried and wanted to check his temp while we were away from home.  Seems kinda silly now, but I did say "over-prepared."
  • Tissues - 'Cause Mommy's shirt is not a Kleenex.
  • Toys - Because the sweetener packets on the restaurant table are only
    interesting for so long.  I've packed up an extra travel wipes case with little toys, a book, crayons, and paper.  (These are played with while supervised, since some could be choking hazards for my under-three-year-old).



Water for Mom - Especially if you're nursing - and especially especially if you're nursing in Texas - have a bottle of water in your bag.  I read that while aluminum is no longer considered to be linked to Alzheimer's, it does require a plastic liner, which could contain BPAs.  And single-use plastic contains endocrine disruptors, too, in addition to not being environmentally-friendly.  I opt for stainless steel with no plastic liner - I love our Klean Kanteens.
  • Wet Bag - Whether it's for cloth diapers or soiled clothes, you may want two of these.  Not the vinyl zippered kind, cause those are gross to clean.  Though I haven't actually used them, I think I'd prefer the drawstring cloth bags sold for use with cloth diapers.  Get two, so you've always got a clean one to keep in your bag.
  • Wipes - I prefer a good-sized bag of them because again, if you've just got a travel case, you'll need to restock often.  If you're using cloth wipes away from home, you'll probably want a little spray bottle so you can wet them.
I almost put pacifier on my list, but then I read this on Kellymom.  I waited until six weeks to try one with my youngest, because he and my oldest seemed to want to nurse even after they were full while I had oversupply.  And they can be helpful in the car.  But looking at research, I would not suggest them as a staple to a breastfeeding mom.

So, there it is - my complete guide to essential and utterly non-essential diaper bag paraphernalia.  And now...

The Giveaway!

Note the cool green interior.  Love it!
Winner will be chosen randomly and must be 18 or older with a U.S. mailing address.  Enter below from May 26 through June 10.  Winner will be announced June 11.  If (s)he does not reply within three days, a new winner will be chosen.

Good luck, and thank you for entering and sharing this with friends!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Tits and Toilets

If you're reading this, you're probably a breastfeeding supporter, so you've probably already seen the When Nurture Calls campaign by UNT students Johnathan Wenske and Kris Haro.  (Or you're a creeper and you Googled "tits" - in which case, this is not the blog for you.  Boobs are food - go away!)  Unfortunately, there's been a lot of misinformation about the campaign and little info on the bill it promotes (HB 1706).  Read my last post to find out more and go here to learn how to support the bill.

If you've followed me for long, you know HB 1706 was like my baby.  So I've had my panties in a bunch since this started, from the misinformation, to concern that legislators will take offense to the ad, and to OHMYGOD the fact that there's almost no real discussion of the bill or how to support it.

But hey, the campaign went viral and looks amazing - that means it rocks the Casbah, right?

Yes!

Except - will it move people to become involved with legislative efforts?

It's compelling, and a fantastic way of communicating that it's unacceptable to expect mothers to nurture their children in dirty restroom stalls.  It's got people talking (if not listening), and I LOVE it as a pro-NIP campaign.

People loved the Taco Bell dog, too - so much so that when my husband and I went to adopt a dog from the Austin animal shelter in 1999, it was overrun with chihuahuas.  The pop icon spurred over breeding, but even though Pepsico spent millions on the "Yo quiero Taco Bell" ads, about a year and a half into the campaign, sales were down 6%.  An ad can rock, and not accomplish the goal.

So what is the goal?

Purportedly it is to work for the passage of HB 1706 (which died a year ago but will be refiled this winter, when it will be given a new number).

My measure of success in promoting legislation is compelling people to take action supporting a bill.  Most importantly, this means contacting your legislator to express that you want him or her to vote for it or even to co-author/sponsor it.

My husband frequently quotes his partner, best-selling author Roy H. Williams, the Wizard of Ads.  One Roy-ism is that "you can't move everyone one direction."  In that regard, certainly the When Nurture Calls campaign can be labeled a success.  People don't just love it.  Some of them hate it (cause they don't wanna see breasts when women breastfeed - just when they sell cars and beer and so on).  Either way, people are moved by it enough to share and discuss it to virality.  Two weeks after its accidental debut, it's still being talked about, and now it's made it onto even more visible platforms.

But the people talking about it mostly aren't talking about legislation.

They're talking about tits and toilets.

I make it a habit to avoid reading comments.  The anonymity of the internet brings out the trolls.  People talk smack with no knowledge whatsoever of breastfeeding and its tremendous importance as a public health issue.  It's exhausting reading over and over the inane suggestions to use a bottle, or cover the baby, or blahblahblahblahblah.  These things are not always options, and they can never be requirements (even if it worked for you, breastfeeding-mom-who-thinks-her-experience-defines-that-of-everyone-around-her).  But I digress.

I have been paying attention to the comments this time because the mock campaign is supposed to promote my baby.  I mean, my bill.  I mean, Rep. Farrar's bill.

And yet - there's virtually no talk of the bill.

Just - tits and toilets.

The misinformation and lack of a call to action are largely to blame, but is it possible that the very thing that makes the campaign successful has gotten in the way of achieving the goal?

It makes perfect sense to see breastfeeding in a breastfeeding ad - but it makes not so much sense to see boobs in a legislative ad.  People are either supportive of the bold ads or incensed by them - they're moved to support the images or not - and that's where the "conversation" usually stops - on the images.

Is it possible that the Australian ad campaign - a video of a man eating in a restroom stall - would be more effective to promote, specifically, legislation?  Could we maybe talk about protecting a mother's right to feed her baby without getting stuck in debates about whether or not she should wear a cover to breastfeed in a restroom stall?


Or if we put the focus on the other person affected by attempts to interfere with or restrict breastfeeding - the baby - could we then move past the over-sexualization of breasts and move on to discussing the damage that is done when NIP incidents have almost half of mothers worried about breastfeeding in public?


This isn't the first time HB 1706 has gone vial.  Last session we worked our boobies off to get this kind of attention for our bill.  And then Rep. Riddle gave it to us.  But so. many. people. just wrote articles about it and complained about it in comments and made truly awful comments on posts about it (do NOT call a legislator a cunt, people.  Just do NOT).  But even with international attention to Riddle's comments against the bill rallying breastfeeding supporters everywhere, it died.

It seems to me that it takes anger - right-now-white-hot-rage - to motivate the masses to action.  And when enraged, people do not always behave responsibly.  Rash actions are taken, undiplomatic words are spoken.

So how do we get all the people to be motivated to write a polite email instead of flaming a troll?

One thing I'm sure of is that any efforts to pass HB 1706 should be coordinated to maximize their impact.  In my last post I wrote about how when this first caught fire, there was no call to action, because it was initially just a student project.  But advertising must include a call to action.  And if it is successful by my measure, people will take the action, in hordes.  They'll buy your tacos.

Now the students responsible for When Nature Calls have a call to action, but it is incomplete, and not coordinated with those involved with the bill.

People need to know that they can be involved in many ways, in and out of Texas, so they will be more likely to choose an action that fits their willingness to participate.

Whether its slacktivism or boots on the ground, we need people in every district across this huge state letting legislators know that we expect them to be a part of the solution.  We need people sharing lege posts on social media and visiting their legislators, and all of the levels of involvement in between.

If this is read by a wide enough audience, I fully expect to be flamed for letting my 5-year-old eat a few pieces of Pirate's Booty on the potty at Starbuck's.

But if this wasn't staged - if we lived in a culture where people thought it was acceptable to tell a child to eat his lunch in a public restroom - would we send an email?  Make a call?  Take a stand?

Is it any different when the person eating is a baby?

Calls to action to support HB 1706 in various ways beyond the comments section can be found at TXBFLeg.com, and are brought to you by the people leading the charge to pass this bill now and a year from now.

What action will you take to protect a baby's right to eat?

Were you spurred to action by the When Nurture Calls campaign?
How would you like to support HB 1706?


Leave a comment below or join me on Facebook.


Friday, May 16, 2014

When Misinformation Goes Viral - An Opportunity Flushed Down the Public Toilet?

You've probably read about this already.  Which unfortunately means that you probably don't know much of anything about it, given that social media coverage and articles have been rife with misinformation.  And since HB 1706 was/is so close to my heart, I'd like to clear up a few things, and tell you how you can support breastfeeding legislation.

Graphic design students Johnathan Wenske and Kris Haro at University of North Texas have done a bang-up job on a mock ad campaign project that calls to mind a similar concept in an Australian ad, intended to, hypothetically, promote legislation that would protect breastfeeding mothers from harassment.  Though the campaign was not meant to go public, an image was shared on social media and the whole thing has gone viral.

As the Legislative Chair of the Texas Breastfeeding Coalition, I know well the legislative piece that the ad focuses on, having worked tirelessly to support it before it died a year ago, and already hard at work to support it when it is refiled this winter.

The businesses cards I collected during the 83rd,
visiting legislators to ask for support.
As the wife of a marketing consultant and copywriter, I know something also about advertising.  But that's subject matter for another post.

HB 1706 was the name of the bill in the 83rd regular legislative session, in the winter and spring of 2013.  Authored by Representative Farrar and filed for the past several sessions (since my almost nine-year-old son was a wee baby), it has not yet made it through our legislative system, which is designed not to pass bills, but to kill them.  And so, it will be filed again this winter, when it will receive a new number, as bills do each session when refiled.  But I know and love it as HB 1706, so for lack of a new number and because "Strengthening the Right to Breastfeed" is cumbersome to use repeatedly, I'll continue to call it that for the purposes of this article.

Current Law

We already have a public breastfeeding law in Texas - Health and Safety Code 165.002, which states, "A mother is entitled to breast-feed her baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be."

But, this law merely asserts a right, and does nothing to protect it.  A law is defined as much by what it does not say as by what it does say.  And our Texas nursing in public law does not say that it is illegal to violate the right to breastfeed.

It may be discriminatory to tell a nursing mother to leave a place of public accommodation, but nursing dyads are not a protected class (e.g., race, color, religion, etc.).  So it's not illegal to discriminate against them in Texas.

If a business owner or his/her employee tells a nursing mother to leave a place of business and the mother remains, she is trespassing.  Even though her legal right is being violated, she is the one who is, legally, in the wrong.  Crazy, huh?

If I tried to address why a mother's right to breastfeed should take precedence over those of others or to adequately address the detrimental effect of shaming a nursing mother, we'd be here all day.  So, just briefly then: because of NIP harassment, 40% of mothers list nursing in public as their top worry about breastfeeding.  And that negatively impacts breastfeeding rates, increasing risks for obesity, diabetes, cancers, and so much more, which costs lives and costs our economy.

Just to be clear - yes, strengthening the law is necessary - this is not a solution looking for a problem.

Last year we found 55 cases in Texas of mothers being harassed for nursing in public, and that's just by Googling a little and asking around through social media for a few weeks.

Since the session ended, there have been several more NIP incidents, including a very prominent one at a Victoria's Secret right here in Austin.

And of course, those are just the ones we hear about - a fraction of what mothers actually experience.

Again, the incidents that do occur have almost half of our mothers afraid to breastfeed when they're buying groceries or eating out with their families (you know - contributing to the economy).

Strengthening the Right to Breastfeed

So, enter HB 1706.  It would have strengthened the existing right-to-breastfeed law by:
  • Informing business owners that it exists.  Because too often the right is violated by someone who has no idea there is a NIP law.
  • Making it illegal to violate the right. 
  • Giving a harassed mother recourse.  A mother whose right is violated would have the option of filing a civil suit. She could sue for up to $500 plus attorney fees.  This is not an exorbitant amount of money, so there's no realistic cause to believe that there would be an onslaught of frivolous lawsuits.  It's not likely that there would even be many lawsuits at all, given the time and money required to sue someone (which explains why there hasn't been one yet).  But it would be a message to business owners that the law is not one which it is optional to follow.  They would likely take the time to train employees, and the mere existence of the enforcement provision would decrease NIP incidents without even being used.

If all this sounds good to you, and you'd like to support breastfeeding legislation right now, you can learn how at TXBFLeg.com.  You can sign up for action alerts there, too, and as the bill progresses next year, we will let you know how you can help then.

Because your involvement is vital.

I cannot overstate that.  

Even if you don't live in Texas - 1) we need your support, 2) our laws will impact you, and 3) your laws probably need improvement, too, so it would be a good idea to be aware.

Why is your involvement crucial?  Hundreds and hundreds of bills are filed each session, and there are 140 days to pass or kill each one.  Legislators care about the ones that their own constituents care about.  We need you spreading the word, because legislators need to hear from people that they want breastfeeding legislation to pass.

And if you don't consider yourself a breastfeeding activist - if you don't see yourself as a stakeholder - consider that breastfeeding could save over 900 lives and $13 billion annually; that it reduces risks for obesity, diabetes, cancers, and more.  Breastfeeding covers a lot of causes all in one shot.  Even if it's not the one cause you hold dear - we are all stakeholders.

Misinformation and Opportunity Flushed

There was a lot of shoddy reporting about the campaign initially, not just on social media but in traditional media, where you expect journalistic integrity - rather than a lot of scooting misinformation around so it looks like a new article, but still called the bill HB 170 and still treated the campaign as real when it was just a class project, still indicated that the students really did work with La Leche League and United States Breastfeeding Committee (they did not), and still talked about the legislation as though it is currently up for a vote.

The media is starting to get things right now, but is it too late?  These things only stay in the news for so long, and the upswing has already been squandered.  Perhaps if the campaign had been given the right start as it was initially shared, we could have taken more advantage of the attention it has gotten.  There was no real call to action from the ads initially because it was not a real campaign.

The campaign as conceived directed people to buy cartons of milk to raise funds for promoting HB 1706.  I'm not being facetious when I say it's really cute.  And the students' concept included involving NIP-friendly restaurants and an app for finding them, which I'm very impressed they thought of as kids (who don't even commit to saying they consider themselves advocates), because these are actually real initiatives.

Family Friendly Business Initiative gets businesses on board with supporting employees to pump at work and patrons to breastfeed in their establishments.  FFBI has partnered with the creator of the app LatchME, a wonderful resource that is a free, user-sourced app that maps breastfeeding-friendly establishments and resources.  LatchME is available on iTunes for iPhones and iPads, and on Google Play for Android.  These are all really important pieces to supporting mothers to breastfeed, and all of these pieces feed into each other.

20-year-olds Johnathan and Kris are excited to help mothers and have made the campaign a real thing, but unless they coordinate with those of us leading the efforts for HB 1706, I fear the attention generated will not be harnessed now and in the next session.

Their campaign suggests liking their Facebook page, contacting legislators, and it collects email addresses, but there is are a lot more ways to support the bill, aimed to reach people at various levels of involvement, on TXBFLeg.com.  And a year from now, I'm not sure what they'll be doing with that mailing list or who will be posting lege updates on their Facebook page.

Perhaps if there'd been a clear call to action from advocates, hundreds or even thousands of people may have called their Representatives last week to say, "Hey, when Rep. Farrar files her breastfeeding bill next year, I want you to support it."

Last week, while recovering from my 5-year-old's big birthday party and coordinating the Austin location's Best for Babes Miracle Milk Mother's Day Stroll, I managed to contact the United States Breastfeeding Committee, one of the models from the ads, one of the student designers, and their professors.  But by the time I had sussed out the truth about the mock campaign, there was no getting ahead of it.  It was already headed to HuffPo.

Believe you me, I'm beating myself up that I haven't managed to be all over the comments on all the posts and articles, telling people to contact their legislators (even out of Texas, because the majority of states lack an enforcement provision).   But have you ever felt like once something is this big, nobody is listening anymore - like everyone just wants to hear the sound of his or her own voice?  The comments section can be a dark and grimy place to be...

I've left a few comments, at least.  I have been in contact with the students and their professor over the past week and a half, though I don't know yet where that will lead (which is why it's taken me an eternity to get this post up).  I've posted the update to our lege blog.  I really have been trying to ensure that this promotion of our bill actually manages to support the bill before this cycles out of the spotlight.

There is another cycle, in the breastfeeding community, where something is shown and is huge initially, then after it fades, someone who hadn't seen it shares it again months later and there's a whole new wave of shares.

So if this fizzles in the coming week, hopefully it'll resurface in a couple of months, and next time, hopefully the coverage will be accurate and supporters will be directed to TXBFLeg.  Because the ads are right, of course: "a baby should never be nurtured where nature calls."

You can see an interview with the students and one of the mothers featured in the ad here.
Have you been moved by these ads?  
What action have they persuaded you to take 
to support breastfeeding legislation?

Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook.

Friday, April 25, 2014

My Response to "Babies Cry to Prevent Siblings"

When I first read the headline, "Babies cry at night to prevent siblings, scientist suggests," I laughed, somewhat hysterically.  It's an amusing theory - one you could almost believe, given not that a baby's cries may interrupt parents who are getting busy (been there!), but that night nursing prevents ovulation (though not reliably).

Then I saw Dr. James McKenna's name and thought, "Oh, good, actual science."

Then I read the end of the article and thought angrily, "How irresponsible! This man is a scientist?! What a..." Well, I try to be polite here, so I won't finish that sentence.

The article ends,
Although we’ll never know exactly why babies evolved to cry at night, Haig’s idea offers one interesting explanation. Whether he is right or not, there is another message lurking in this study, and it’s a message for modern parents: Babies who don’t breastfeed during the night and babies who take bottles don’t wake up as much during the night — and they don’t seem to be worse off for it, Haig says. That result implies that nursing throughout the night isn’t necessary. So moms shouldn’t beat themselves up if they don’t always heed the nighttime calls to breastfeed, Haig says. 
“There’s a tendency to think of infants as incredibly fragile beings, and if you do just one thing wrong, they’re ruined for life,” Haig says. “That to me doesn’t make any evolutionary sense. They should be fairly robust and handle all sorts of variation in sleeping arrangements and feeding arrangements."
Yes, moms shouldn't beat themselves up for not breastfeeding.

And true, babies won't be ruined for life

But it never fails to tick me off when there is encouragement for babies to sleep longer than is biologically normal at night, because it is dangerous.

Babies' frequent waking helps protect them against SIDS.  A baby sleeping too deeply for too long may have difficulty rousing.

I will never forget the day I came home in third grade to find my mother crying.  My five month old cousin Timmy had died in his sleep.  

I'll never forget meeting family from far away for the first time, at least in my memory.  Never forget that I was all cried out by the day of the funeral, and I felt so guilty not to cry at his graveside.  I'll never forget the little stuffed elephant I was given that had been his - I still have it, mixed in now with the zoo my kids have in the top bunk in their room.

Breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS, by 60% for any breastfeeding.  And for exclusive breastfeeding, the risk is reduced by 73%.
(Hauck, Fern, John M. D. Thompson et al. Breastfeeding and Reduced Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: A Meta Analysis Journal of Pediatrics 2010)
I find it incredibly ignorant for a "scientist" to fail to recognize the importance of breastfeeding and night nursing in favor of his asinine sibling rivalry theory, and to tell parents, "You don't need to breastfeed, it's not really important.  Get some sleep!  Ain't no thang."

It's supportive to tell mothers not to beat themselves up.  It's supportive to tell mothers they aren't "ruining" their kids by not providing all that is optimal in life.

It is NOT supportive to represent yourself as a scientist, an educated person, and flat out ignore science - life-saving science - when in a position to raise awareness among parents.

Source

I'm deep in birthday party planning, and am trying to keep this short.  Just to try to be clear without rambling on, I am NOT saying parents are responsible for SIDS or we don't all need SO much more sleep or anything judgmental of anyone but David Haig.  And maybe the author of the article I read, who looked into McKenna but still went with "Ain't no thang."  

What are your thoughts?
Leave a comment or join the conversation on Facebook.  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

TSA Breastmilk Lawsuit Results in Policy Change and Employee Training

If you're a breastfeeding mother on a flight & you don't have a cutie pie baby like this one with you, you'll need to pump and carry your breastmilk.  Thanks to Stacey Armato, hopefully moms can now do so without worrying that TSA officers will suggest they dump their liquid gold.

I can't tell you how many times I've read the suggestion that a breastfeeding mother who has been discriminated against should sue - or read claims that "I would sue if..."  The fact is, affording a lawyer is not so easy if you don't have several thousand dollars just lying around - and they're not lining up to do pro bono work after every NIP incident in the news, either.

BUT, Stacey Armato did manage to sue, & she won!  Well, settling may not technically be winning, but she got what she wanted out of the lawsuit.  In 2010 she was harassed by TSA agents over bringing her expressed breastmilk through security.  She said,
“We brought this lawsuit for one reason — to bring clarity and policy change for breastfeeding mothers traveling with breast milk. Hopefully what I experienced at the Phoenix Airport in 2010 will never happen to another mother traveling with her breast milk.”



The United States Transportation Security Administration settled, agreeing to clarify procedures, train officers, and to update its website so that pumping moms can know what to expect when traveling with breastmilk.  Oh - and they're making a donation to a breastfeeding advocacy group!

You can read more here.

I want to go off on a tangent here about some legislators worrying that the enforcement provision in HB 1706 would have resulted in a rash of frivolous lawsuits, and about the fact that $500 plus attorney fees - the cap the bill would have placed on the private cause of action it provided for - is hardly frivolous.  And that moms would not suddenly have a surplus of time and money for suing any more than a plethora of lawyers would suddenly want to work pro bono over $500.  I won't get into the fact that the enforcement provision would have served more as a warning than it would have been needed as a punishment.  But I'll just leave it at saying I'd be willing to bet you a Starbucks venti caramel frappuccino that TSA paid out more than attorney fees and 500 bucks.  

And yet the thing we're celebrating is the policy change and employee training!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Sweet Pea's Birth Story



Five years ago, I was just a few hours from giving birth to one of the 

most amazing people I've ever had the privilege of knowing. 

 In honor of his fifth birthday tomorrow, this is Sweet Pea's birth story. 


With my wonderful doula, Shelley Scotka.


A lifetime ago (my 8.5-year-old son's lifetime, specifically), I taught pre-kindergarten for Austin ISD. I loved it. Mostly. I loved the kids. Four is such a terrific age. It's my favorite.

I always have trouble with the markers that show how quickly my children are growing - moving up a size in clothes, a new grade, birthdays. I don't mind aging myself, because I lost my mother when she was only 43, and I know that aging beats the alternative.



Of course the same is true - much more so, in fact - with children. Yet I always grieve the time that has passed.

Tomorrow my beautiful middle son, my four-year-old Sweet Pea, who is the embodiment of love and light, turns five. And it's frickin' killing me.

Five will be fantastic, I know. He will learn so much, and he will just get more awesome - inconceivable as that may be, given the level of awesome he has already attained.

I can't believe it's already been five years. But then again, as I re-read his birth story, five years seems so very long ago. We were using an old ipod then - this was pre-smart phones for us. We were eating Jack in the Box - what?! Now three of us are vegetarians, and Bellybean and I only eat humanely-raised meat. So long ago, and yet it feels like yesterday at the same time. Wibbly wobbly, timey wimey.

His birth story is below, but first, a sweet slide show my amazing hubby Adam put together, with one of my favorite songs, the beautiful and poignant "Only Four," by singer-songwriter Laurie McClain.



Well - here it is, as I shared it eleven days after he was born:

Sweet Pea is just beautiful. He's sweet and healthy and cuddly. He has lots of blond hair, dark blue eyes, big hands and crazy-long feet. He nurses well, and so far doesn't cry much and can be easily consoled when he does. He sleeps a lot, which is not to say he doesn't wake up through the night, but I wouldn't expect anything different from a newborn, and he goes back to sleep easily. We were afraid because I was GBS positive and only got one dose of antibiotics instead of the preferred two doses, but he hasn't had any fevers and we should be past the window in which he'd have gotten sick if he was going to.

I am recovering well. In fact, Sunday we went to an Easter egg hunt, less than 3 full days after the birth. I thought I was experiencing typical soreness, but when it continued and even worsened I went in to be evaluated by a midwife. Seems I broke my tailbone again. It was supposed to be out of the way, having broken when I gave birth to Magoo (we heard a pop and I felt like my spine had snapped - because it had), but I guess not. It MAY be just bruised, which I sure hope is the case. (It was the case!  Soreness lasted much less time than when it actually broke ith Magoo!  Thank goodness!)  I felt pretty good when Adam was home because I could sleep in very late and had support all day. But he's back to work as of a few days ago, so I anticipate things getting harder.

Adam is good. Very tired. We all need so much from him and now he has to be back at work, too, and he misses us, needy as we are.

Magoo is an incredible big brother. He is so sweet and loving. He wants to help and hold Sweet Pea and kiss him a million times a day. Fortunately all of the negative behavior associated with this huge life change (anger, melt downs, tantrums, etc.) are directed not at Sweet Pea but at Adam and me. He's had more accidents than not, though he's been pretty completely potty trained for quite some time. Friday when Adam was at work we butted heads all day and were just miserable. But Saturday when Daddy was teaching piano we spent more time out of the house, and I think that may be key, because it was a better day. Sunday, with Daddy home, was the best day we've had since leaving the hospital, so Adam being miraculously given a paid month of paternity leave is what would really be ideal!

Here's Sweet Pea's birth story, if you're interested:

Last Wednesday night I woke several times to pee, as was my habit by then, since I was 41 weeks pregnant. I felt a few mild contractions when I'd wake, but nothing that kept coming, though I had a little insomnia around 1am and 3am, wondering if this was going to be it. At 6am I had some fairly consistent contractions, and I wondered if we'd get stuck in the horrible morning rush hour traffic if we didn't leave soon (if it started to feel like things were speeding up instead of fizzling out), or if I should risk waking Milo to get up and do some cleaning. But I lay in bed til 7 or so until Milo got up.

Then I began to pull together what wasn't already packed, loose items we hadn't wanted bagged up for weeks like the camera and the ipod. Once everything on my To Pack list was next to the front door, I started cleaning. The contractions varied from 4 minutes to maybe 15 minutes apart, and were mild enough that I preferred to be focused outside my body, keeping busy, rather than to rest and think about the discomfort of each one. I had Adam cleaning, too - I wanted to come home to a clean, orderly house. Because of this, poor Milo was feeling neglected, so near lunch time we called his babysitter and asked if Adam could bring him over. While Adam was gone I finished up the cleaning as my contractions began to require that I pause until they passed. Adam brought home Jack in the Box and we ate lunch, loaded the car, and headed to the ob's office around 1:30.

I'd been 4cm the day before when I'd seen one of the midwives for my 41-week appointment. I was 6cm around 2pm when Lisa, the midwife on call, checked again. While I'd have preferred to stay home longer (and maybe even have a home birth), I knew we'd need to head from the ob's to the hospital. I was GBS positive and they wanted me to have two rounds of penicillin four hours apart. We made a quick stop at HEB for fruit, yogurt, and birthday cupcakes, then checked in at the hospital.

It seemed to take forever to do the paperwork, monitor the baby for a bit, take blood and start the antibiotics. I hated being in the bed;, wanted to get up and get settled in the room - put out the pictures of my mother that I'd brought, have my bag open to be able to get to the massagers and rice bags and whatnot. While I lay there, needing to focus in more with the contractions as they came, Adam called our doula Shelley; a doula-in-training, Tiffany, who was going to attend the birth and tend to Magoo when he was in the labor and delivery room; and Magoo's babysitter, who had picked up her husband and taken their children and Magoo to a park near the hospital.

My water broke, and I was a little nervous about how that would affect the frequency and intensity of my contractions. My ob, Dr. Sebestyen, a local hero for having midwives in her practice and convincing St. David's North Austin Medical Center to allow them to deliver, stopped by to say hello, and was joined by Lisa. We chatted a bit and Shelley arrived. Finally the penicillin ran out and I could tell when the cool saline ran through the line that the hep lock had only bothered me because the meds burn a bit. Finally I could get out of the bed (I could have earlier, but by the time the mobile monitor had been brought in, I only had a few minutes left to be monitored. And though I wanted to be up walking around, I didn't really feel like sitting on the bed or birth ball - I guess I'd started to get used to the idea of lying down and resting).

I put out the pictures, and started to pull out some of the comfort things we'd brought - heating pads and such. But I had two contractions close together that took a lot of focus, and I quit caring about getting settled. I needed to use the restroom, and while there I realized I was getting very tense, having difficulty relaxing. I'd had Adam put on music, but it irritated me so I asked him to turn it off.  I got into the shower on my knees and leaned over my birth ball, and told Shelley I felt like I might be in transition. I started to groan through the contractions and Shelley was so soothing. She would make low noises with each contraction, which helped me to keep most of my noises a low release of the pain, instead of a high pitched tense sound that my body tensed with. One of my wonderful nurses, Sarah, tried to check my dilation in the shower. It was not an ideal location, but I didn't want to move. She couldn't tell how dilated I was, but knew I was close to complete, and after a few contractions Sarah, Shelley and Adam convinced me to move to the bed.

There Sarah checked again and I was told I could push. I felt like I'd already been pushing for awhile - not in the involuntary bearing down way I'd experienced with Milo, but the "breathing down" kind of pushing that had been encouraged in the Hypnobirthing class we took before Magoo was born. Since I felt like I had to push with Magoo, I'd thought the whole breathing down thing was a bunch of hooey - until I was doing it. In fact once I was told I could push, I didn't necessarily really want to bear down. With some pushes I did, though, and others I would just feel my breath moving him down.

I wanted to know how much progress I was making, but I couldn't get outside of myself enough to really communicate that or even to look in the mirror at the foot of the bed and see what was going on. So I just trusted my body, and tried to let instinct and the sensations I was having tell me how hard to push or when to just breathe. By this time the room was full of love and anticipation. The two nurses were there, Adam, my midwife, Shelley, Tiffany, the babysitter and her four-year-old daughter, and my beautiful Magoo. I wanted him to have the opportunity to be a part of his brother's birth, and we'd prepared him by showing him a video of his own birth. In the video I had made more noise about the pain than I realized/remembered. Magoo had asked to be able to listen to his toy MP3 player because the noises I'd made during his birth had spooked him a little.  When I heard his voice in the room I managed to tell everyone where his toy was. Adam discovered that it wasn't working and gave him our ipod, but I did my darnedest to be quiet once I knew he was there. 

I lay on my side, eyes closed, my face pressed into the pregnancy pillow I had wrapped around me. The feeling was so much different from Magoo's birth, which was far more "managed." Where his doctor had done perineal massage throughout, which was excruciatingly painful, Lisa was completely hands off, and there was almost no burning sensation whatsoever. Finally I felt that his head had come out maybe halfway and had not slid back in that time. I wasn't sure I should push really hard - I didn't want to tear, but I was ready to meet him! With the next push I gave it all I had, which was more than I thought I could. His head was out! Each of his shoulders took a strong push, too. Then he slipped out into his Daddy's eagerly waiting hands. The midwife caught him with Adam and placed him on my belly. He was a little blue but pinking up, and quiet at first. He was gorgeous, with lots of blond hair. I hadn't really taken in Magoo's umbilical cord because it was cut very quickly so he could be whisked to the side of the room and suctioned of copious amounts of meconium. But with Sweet Pea it was left to finish pulsating, and it was just beautiful - a soft, plump white lifeline to me. It was long enough that I could hold him on my chest. I tried to nurse him, but it didn't take right away (though after he was weighed we tried again and it went great). I started to have some nasty cramps, and eventually the cord was cut and I gave Sweet Pea to Adam. He held him for a bit before the nurse weighed him - 9 pounds 9 ounces, 21 1/2 inches long. And that's right - you read nothing of pain medication because I had none. That was a little harder with Magoo's 11 hour labor (maybe 9 hours of that was pretty intense), but Sweet Pea's was very quick. I'd checked into the hospital around 3 or 3:30 and he was born at 5:55pm on Thursday, 4/9/09.

And life became infinitely better.

Magoo, about three months shy of four, meets his baby brother Sweet Pea.
And we became a family four.
You can read another sweet post about my loving little lactivist here.

I'm a sucker for birth stories - share yours here or on Facebook!

Did you have the birth you wanted?
Was your birth experience one that supported the establishment of breastfeeding?

Have you had trouble dealing with your wee babies growing too dang fast?!