Category Archives: Mom blog

Linengate2014 and How You Can Help #normalizebreastfeeding

Ever since Phoenixgate 2013, I’ve been pretty lax about nursing in public (and by pretty lax I really mean “I really don’t give a shit if you see my boobs”). For the most part, people have been great about it outwardly – even if in their head they are uncomfortable or freaking out. I generally like to go out in public and bring my baby, so I knew some sort of nursing-in-public run-in was bound to happen. Unfortunately, it happened at one of our favorite restaurants (that ironically hosted my baby shower)… let’s go back a few months to brunch for my father’s birthday.

Help me understand what you mean by “a clean linen?”

I was breastfeeding my daughter after we ate when our server approached and asked if I wanted a “clean linen.” Why the hell would I need a “clean linen” when we were done eating and what exactly did that mean? Was it a napkin? A tablecloth? Then the lightbulb went off – he was offering me the best nursing cover he could muster up from the restaurant’s linen closet. Aside from the fact that I probably wouldn’t be so nonchalant about nursing in the first place if I had indeed been in need of a cover, I politely declined.

Dude should have stopped while he was ahead. And, for the record, he was ahead – I had given him the benefit of the doubt and assumed he was actually trying to make me more comfortable based on what he thought would be most helpful to me. HA! But really…  I did want to think he was being helpful. My new friend brought me back down to reality, where lactating boobs are a no-no but a string bikini is sexy: “No, I meant in case it bothers other people.”

OHYOUVEGOTTOBEF&*KINGKIDDINGME.

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#normalizebreastfeeding | photograph by Katie Slater  www.katieslaterphotography.com

Did this guy think that I was suddenly going to change my mind and take him up on his offer? NO. The opposite.”Other people?” PUH-leaze. Enough is enough. Just the offer of the cover implied so many things – that breastfeeding should be hidden; that it’s dirty, offensive or wrong; that a hungry infant is LESS important than self-sufficient adults who just gorged themselves on all you can eat brunch and have the choice whether they watch a mother breastfeed or not; and so on – but to imply that I should prioritize the comfort of “other” people over the comfort of my baby? EHHH… WRONG ANSWER. Again, I politely declined and shut the conversation down. So as not to cause a scene, I planned to find him before we left and inform him of things like, oh, you know, THE LAW that protects women like me.

Clean Linens for All!

During that meal, bothering other people with a boob was the last thing on my mind – in fact, I was much more concerned about bothering people when my kid lost her shit because she was hungry – I would think most people would find a screaming baby more annoying than a boob. Nursing was a pretty solid solution to prevent said meltdown and make everyone’s brunch enjoyable. And for the record, since apparently it cannot be said often enough: a nursing mother is not out to make a scene or bother anyone or make anyone uncomfortable. Say it with me now: she just wants to feed or comfort her baby. 

This whole thing got me thinking that maybe I should start going off on people in public who do things that bother ME! Why should I be the target of other people’s pet peeves about nursing while everyone else gets off scot-free for being total assholes in public ALL the time? So, in honor of Linengate2014, I’ll be handing out some linens to the following groups of people (and others at my discretion):

  • People who are noisy chewers. Nails on a chalkboard to me, an epidemic of epic proportions. Cover them up – and see how they like to eat under a cover – two birds with one stone!
  • Anyone who refuses to stop talking on the phone while their server is trying to take their order. For you… a tablecloth! Poof! Now you’re gone, hiding under your linen, and your rudeness is contained to your tablecloth bubble.
  • Couples who insist on being SAME SIDE SITTERS. If we’re being honest, this bothers me so much that the next time I see it happen, I may ask my server to escort the lovebirds out of the restaurant. If that doesn’t work, let’s make sure they get two tablecloths so they can snuggle under the covers – which is where they clearly would rather be…amiright?
  • People who step on my yoga mat with their toe-fungus-hot-yoga-feet. You have the entire room to tromp around – get the hell off my mat! Yoga under a blanket for you – AND STAY THERE!
  • Drivers who don’t stop to let pedestrians standing in the crosswalk actually cross the street. Next to the park. With a stroller. In a neighborhood full of kids. Maybe if they had a tablecloth on their car, they’d be forced to hit the brake.
  • People who pee on the toilet seat in a public restroom and then don’t clean it up. You’re not a savage, and at least if you had a tablecloth you could mop up your piss. How did you miss the toilet by that much anyway? If you insist on peeing all over everything, you may as well just drop trou wherever you are and let it flow. Own it, bitches.
  • People who push the door close button on the elevator even though they see others waiting to get on. I do hope your elevator gets stuck and all you have to get through the day is snuggling with your linen.
  • People who make a half-assed attempt to hold the door for you, but then decide they can’t hold the door long enough for you to actually walk through and they let go. It doesn’t count as chivalrious or polite if you can’t hold it for the duration of someone else crossing the threshold – but hey, don’t let the door hit you on the way out when I hand you a freshly pressed napkin!

There’s more, I’m sure. But back to the issue at hand – my story has a happyish ending! Although I couldn’t find our server to say something to him on our way out (weird that he was MIA, right?), I did write the manager a note and included information about Connecticut breastfeeding laws. He apologized and said he would make sure to share during the morning wait staff meetings and at the end of the day, sharing this type of information is a great first step to normalize breastfeeding but we have a long way to go.

#normalizebreastfeeding

#normalizebreastfeeding | photograph by Katie Slater http://www.katieslaterphotography.com

World Breastfeeding Week 2014 – Resources

If no one is doing anything about the same-side sitters plaguing restaurants around the world, then at least let nursing mamas feed their babies free of harassment and discrimination. In honor of World Breastfeeding Week 2014, I wanted to spread some knowledge and resources.

  • Here’s a summary of the Connecticut General Statutes §46a-64 that I sent to the restaurant (excerpt from the Connecticut Breastfeeding Coalition) that protect nursingmamas:
    • BREASTFEEDING IN PLACES OF PUBLIC ACCOMMODATION
      Connecticut General Statutes §46a-64 allows mothers to breastfeed their babies in places of public accommodation. This law is enforced by the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO), which enforces anti-discrimination laws in Connecticut.
    • This law states that mothers can generally breastfeed at a time, place and manner of their choosing while in a place of public accommodation. They do not have to go to a special area or go into the restroom. They do not have to cover the baby with a towel or blanket. The owner, manager or employee of a place of public accommodation cannot request that the mother stop breastfeeding her baby, cover up, move to a different room or area, or leave.
  • Breastfeeding Laws by State. We have a long way to go, but there are laws in place in many states to protect breastfeeding moms in public, at work, and at daycares.
  • Break TIme for Nursing Mothers. This is, for the most part, the bare minimum. Encourage your employer to go above and beyond!
  • Under the ACA, many mamas are eligible for a free breast pump and covered lactation services. FREE!
  • Breastfeeding support and education can drastically change a mother’s experience with nursing. Organizations like La Leche League, Breastfeeding USA, and websites like KellyMom provide FREE mother-to-mother support online, in person, and over the phone. Did I say FREE? Yes, that’s right – there are people who care so much about seeing mothers successfully breastfeed that there are more free and accessible resources than one could fathom.

So aside from supporting nursing mothers (or any mother for that matter!) any time you see them – a kind smile, an offer of help, a glass of water, or simple acknowledgement that they are doing a good job – please take a few minutes to share some of these resources with people in your life – friends, family, colleagues, moms, moms-to-be, and more. Let’s get women out from under the covers and #normalizebreastfeeding. Because seeing a boob is way less offensive than same side sitters – I’ll stand by that forever – and maybe by the time our children are parents, this kind of conversation won’t even be a blip on their radar.

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Greetings from Camp Coxsackie

If you were driving down the Post Road today and saw a box of Arcuri’s pizza somewhere between Cos Cob and Byram, it was probably ours. And I would have gone back for it had I not been hysterically crying in my driveway over the lost pizza while my daughter wailed along with me from the back seat. There was a perfectly good explanation for how we arrived at such a low point. You see, we had tried to leave Camp Coxsackie – otherwise known as our home – and the universe punished us.

Let me back up a few days. My husband was going to New Hampshire and my daughter and I were going to have a girl’s weekend. Our plans went to hell when she woke up with a raging fever early the other morning, puked all over our bed and me (not that this was the first time in recent memory that I was covered in puke down to my underwear or anything), and cried and cried and cried. So, there was that.

Friday or “The Day Coxsackie Struck” 

By the time her fever broke, the telltale blisters on her foot told me this wasn’t just any old fever… it was the dreaded coxsackie virus – also known as “hand, foot and mouth disease” – a nasty bug that usually brings with it blisters on the hands, feet and mouth. Later that day the doctor confirmed my diagnosis, reminded us how contagious it was, and wished us luck. Given that this was our last taste of freedom for a few days, we went into CVS to pick up some supplies for her – like infant Tylenol – and for me – like chocolate and Lysol.

It was supposed to be a quick trip, an easy one. Just grab and go. Except that I couldn’t find what I needed and was pretty desperate at that point. A woman waiting on line made a quip about how long she had been there – and voiced her frustration that the pharmacist had stepped aside to help me. Obviously she had no idea that in the blink of an eye, my daughter was going to go from tolerating this shopping trip to doing everything in her power to get the f*&! out of the stroller and wipe her highly contagious slobbery drool all over everything within reach (at which time I would point her in the direction of my “friend” on the check out line). By the time we got home, I was ready to pass out but Ellie had other plans – most of which included being up all night.

Saturday or “The Hottest Day of the Year” or “The Day that No One Was Kidding Me” 

Daybreak the next morning brought with it a lot of excitement – like an unplanned trip to the vet for the dog to get probiotics for his belly – don’t even get me started. On top of his bellyache, Cooper was panting because it was so hot and I can’t imagine the heat felt good on the coxsackie blisters, so I cranked the A/C for both of “the kids.” Except it wasn’t working. Are. You. F*&*ing. Kidding. Me? Our A/C shits the bed on one of the hottest days of the year while our daughter is covered in blisters and my husband – an electrician and HVAC repairman – was in the middle of the New Hampshire woods with horrible cell service? Would it happen any other way, though?

By the time I got him on the phone I was sweating. A lot. I had opened the windows and turned on the fans and I think it went down approximately 1 degree upstairs in our attic-less Cape. He began to walk me through whatever he planned to walk me through which apparently brought along with it the risk of electrocution.

“Go outside and find that grey box next to the A/C unit.”

“The one that says ‘DANGER! High voltage!’?”

“Yup, that’s the one. Now open it up and pull the t-shaped lever.”

“You’ve got to be f*&^ing kidding me, right?”

Needless to say, it was beyond my skillset to repair the unit so we once again simply accepted our lot in life. (At this point, I feel like I should point out that this entire situation could have been WAY worse. WAY, WAY, worse.) Luckily, my father-in-law was able to come over and soon had cool air circulating throughout the house. I wish my story ended there, because that’s pretty upbeat.

Sunday or “The day we shouldn’t have tried to do anything, ever” 

In the morning I was feeling ambitious. I thought if I kept Ellie confined to the stroller we could quickly cruise the mall – this was girl’s weekend dammit! And I was hoping to find a new dress. After 10 minutes of browsing with a screaming child and valiant but unsuccessful attempt to find a dressing room (and being told that the one I was trying to get into was “locked forever”), I tossed aside what I wanted to try on and we left. It just wasn’t worth it. And because I hadn’t learned anything at all, I thought it might be nice to walk around the beach instead – except that I realized I had the wrong pass on my car and we wouldn’t get in. Fail #2 of the day, all before noon. We really, really should have thrown in the towel at that point.

You’re probably wondering how the pizza comes into play – well here it is. We hunkered down at Camp for the rest of the afternoon, but around dinnertime I decided we should take a ride to pick up some takeout for a change of scenery. I put the pizza box on top of the car while I loaded Ellie into her carseat, making a mental note to put the box in the car, too.

Except I didn’t. I just drove off with a box of pizza on top of my car. And you know when I realized it? When we pulled into the driveway about ten minutes later and I put my car in park. At that point I was so delusional that I even looked on top of the car thinking that one day we would all joke about how absentminded mom was the time she left the pizza on the car; that somehow it had survived the ride home and would magically be sitting my the roof of my CR-V, intact.

Except it wasn’t. So, I did the only thing left to do: I laughed until I cried, and then I laughed some more. It was, by far, the funniest thing that had happened in days. DAYS.

 

Books for days.

Books for days.

Not a bad weekend after all?

And as much as this weekend wasn’t anything like I had planned – we canceled a trip to the beach, estate sale hopping, and playdates – it was full of silver linings. It gave us a great excuse to slow down a bit and bum around the house – something we don’t typically do… ever. Family members helped out in a pinch – my mom brought by groceries, my father-in-law fixed the A/C, everyone checked in on us. We played outside with the water table. Blew bubbles. Watched Cooper chase birds in the yard. And we snuggled and read books – lots, and lots and lots of books – into the wee hours of the morning. Now, that’s my kind of girl’s weekend.

Here’s to hoping that this week brings fewer doctor’s visits, cooler weather and what I should have ordered in the first place: delivery.

7/12/2014 – update: Bad news. Last Wednesday I told my coworker, “I feel great, there’s no way I’m getting coxsackie! Definitely would have gotten it by now!” As soon as those words left my mouth, the fever hit. Almost 48 hours of fever later… I’m on the mend. Next week will be better… next week! 

 

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Working and Pumping with The Lil’ Mamas

I have a long list of things I want to write about here (like awesome recipes, losing baby weight, and surviving the first year of parenthood) and I will post all of that. Soon. I promise. As soon as I remember to take good pictures of meals, write down all the thoughts streaming through my head at any given moment, and take a second to sit down and breathe.

But in the meanwhile… here’s a shameless plug for readers to head on over to The Lil’ Mamas and check out my recent post: ALL  THE SH*T NO ONE EVER TOLD YOU ABOUT… WORKING AND PUMPING.

Because really… WHY DON’T PEOPLE TELL YOU THESE THINGS?

 

 

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Furniture tip-over safety in memory of Hailey

Hello. A very sad post today… a mama from Lil Mamas – the group of women that has helped me survive the first year of parenthood – is mourning the loss of her 13 month-old daughter, Hailey. Hailey passed earlier this week in a tragic accident when a 3×3 cubby storage shelf fell on top of her.

The most important thing you can take away from this is that securing furniture in your home is not an option – it is an imperative. This applies even if you don’t have children.

The outpouring of love and support and mamahood that I’ve seen over the last 48 hours has blown me away. Most of the mamas in this group have never met one another in person and through the power of social media, they came together and took action: mamas around the world contributed to airfare to get Hailey’s family to South Carolina to support her mom, pronto and also to cover the cost of funeral expenses, etc. WOW. Just wow. It sure as hell takes a village.

All her mom has asked is that we spread the word about this very real danger inherent in everyone’s home. Walk around your home, inventory your furniture, and secure the hell out of it. Tie-downs are available at your local hardware or baby store and if you can’t find them there, you can order them online. There are baby-proofing consultants who will come to your home and help you figure out what you need to do. There is no excuse not to take action. It’s so easy to think that we will be the exception to the rule, the lucky ones. Sometimes we are, and that’s great but there will come a day when skimping on safety could have dire consequences.

If you want to do more, please consider making a donation through YouCaring in Hailey’s honor to help cover her funeral and travel expenses for family or visit thelilmamas.com to learn how to donate through Lil Mamas.

Last, but not least, hug your babies tight this weekend and always.

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The mile high pumping club

I just survived 60 baby-free hours traveling to and from Denver. They were filled with trains, planes, automobiles, uninterrupted meals that I was able to eat with both hands, and the first time I’ve slept through the night in a long while. I missed my family terribly, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t nice to get a bit of a reprieve from changing diapers, endless laundry, cooking and more. I wasn’t off the hook completely though – as a breastfeeding mom, I still had to pump about 15 oz. of milk each day to maintain my supply.

This meant dragging my breastpump – encased in a stylish shoulder tote – and all of its glorious accessories, chargers, and spare parts with me. That bag has an unspoken power to connect people who know what it is. And now, after many months of pumping, my pump should probably be considered a significant other – we spend a lot of time together, things get pretty intimate, we’re never far apart, and we were finally taking our first plane trip together.

The inspector gadget of pumping bags - you'd never know!

The inspector gadget of pumping bags – you’d never know what’s inside…!

Want to see how it works?

On my way through security in LGA, TSA pulled me aside, inspected my bags, and swabbed the pump for explosives. We began talking about breastpumps, starting with the TSA agent asked me what “it” was. I mean, shouldn’t he have asked “who” it was? (My boyfriend, obviously.) Plus, he just got pretty personal with my pump when he started prodding with the swab. I explained it was a boob-squeezing, milk-sucking, monster of a machine.

“I need you to tell me how it works,” he said. “I’m going to open this bag with you. Would you like to go in private? I know this is a sensitive topic.”

Little did he know that in the recent past I had given birth to an audience in the hospital and along with the baby, pushed out all sense of shame I could ever possibly feel for the rest of my life about natural bodily functions. Private? AS IF.

I then did what any brazen, super-duper-pro-nursing-in-public-mama (who thinks the only way that we will normalize breastfeeding is by talking about it) would do: I offered him a demo with a straight face at 5:30am on a Wednesday. Not surprisingly, he declined. We then talked about how it worked, how I planned to bring my milk back, and he sent me on way to board my flight – another adventure in and of itself.

Joining the mile-high pumping club

Just some of the interesting places I’ve pumped include: a car parked in a pull-off on the West Side Highway, the bathroom of the corner deli somewhere around 49th and 10th, a locker room, and perhaps the most random: in a closet during a climate-change event being held at the Jewish Heritage Museum while listening to the audio of a movie about World War II.

The time had come for us to join the mile high pumping club. I thought about discreetly pumping at my seat, but the bathroom was a better option than sitting through another moment of being subjected the make out sesh going on between my row-mates – I’m surprised they weren’t capitalizing on the unoccupied bathrooms, too. Their loss, because “we” were headed in there to get down to business.

At this point in time I’d need to acknowledge how critical it is to have a battery adapter for a breastpump. Sometimes outlets are nowhere to be found, and if you don’t have the battery pack you better get to squeezin’.  Also, if there is someone out there who can shrink a monster computer into a handheld rechargeable marvel of modern engineering and technology that is also a mobile phone then there has got to be something they can do about THE DUMBEST, MOST ENORMOUS, LOUDEST F&*KING MILK MACHINE CONTRAPTION EVER THAT REQUIRES EIGHT AA BATTERIES TO OPERATE. I repeat: EIGHT AA BATTERIES.

I got set up and things started flowing. My mind was wandering to places like, “I wonder how altitude impacts milk production?” when we hit a pocket of turbulence that almost knocked me off my feet. Becoming a parent has encouraged me to jump to the worst possible scenario so I immediately thought, “I DON’T WANT TO DIE WITH A MEDIEVAL BOOB TORTURE DEVICE ATTACHED TO MY CHEST. I WILL NOT GO DOWN LIKE THIS. THIS IS NOT HOW IT ENDS.”

The plane evened out, I finished up, and asked the flight attendant for a handful of ice. A handful turned into about 2 pounds. Since beggars can’t be choosers, I shoved it all in the cooler, settled in for the rest of the flight and crossed my fingers that the ice didn’t start to melt out of the overhead bin and onto someone’s head. After we landed, I made a pit stop in the airport bathroom to unload some of the ice when a woman spied my pump bag (I TOLD you so) and said she was a lactation consultant. She then went on to say the single nicest thing a complete stranger has ever said to me (yes, even better than that time the creepy pet store guy told me I had “nice thighs”): she told me that she was proud of me and that it made her day to see a nursing, traveling mama with her boyfriend breastpump. Lactation brings people together in some strange ways.

Just for lunch 

48 hours and about 35 oz of milk later, I found myself back at DEN. Despite my best efforts to alert every TSA agent I saw that I was declaring breastmilk, I managed to hold up the line for a good 10 minutes while they found someone “authorized” to test my milk. I offered the agent a swig; he refused. Since my pump was the only one NOT rejecting me, I repeated my “pumping in an airplane bathroom” trick on the way home, again asking for ice from a flight attendant. He dutifully filled up my Ziploc bag and when he saw me putting it in the cooler he said, “Oh, I thought it was for a sprain or something. Turns out it’s just for lunch!”

“You’re right,” I said. “Just not for my lunch.”

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#momsbeauty

I know I promised to write more often, and I have a lot to share and say and all of that good stuff… but just not a ton of time to put it into words. I have a few extra minutes tonight, and wanted to share with you a couple of really great things.

1) This post from Gabrielle on takesavillage.net. Read it. Look through the pics (you might even see a familiar face or two) and share it. It’s a great piece about motherhood, beauty, and more. Plus, it gave rise to…

2) #momsbeauty. I love this idea. So often mamas, new and seasoned, don’t feel nearly as beautiful as they should. Hopefully this campaign will help to change that. Check out the Facebook page and follow the blog at: momsbeauty.net. I know there will be lots of great things to come!

That’s all for tonight. Now, to get some serious writing in before some serious sleep…

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Check out my post on The Lil’ Mamas!

More on this later, because I want to write an entire post about the fabulous mama community I’ve been a part of… but in the meanwhile, check out a guest post I wrote about baby products for The Lil’ Mamas blog:  THE LIL’ MAMAS DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO ALL THE SHIT NO ONE TELLS YOU TO PUT ON YOUR REGISTRY.

Enjoy!

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Nursing in public? Don’t mind if I do…

To cover or not?

I was on the plane after spending a few days in Arizona, dreading the return flight to New York. Our trip to Phoenix was one for the record books (read all the gory, puke-covered details here) and while I had done a ton of laundry once I got there, I failed to wash my nursing cover. A beautiful hand-made, hand-dyed nursing cover that I simply didn’t have time to hand-wash (weird, right?…. no time to wash something by hand with a baby around?).

Anyway, the cover reeked like it had been sitting in puke for four days so I didn’t even bother to bring it in my carry-on – I figured I would just use a blanket to cover up and make do. As the baby started getting hungry, I started setting up logistics in my head – I had to juggle a nursing pillow, blanket/cover, baby, and myself in the cramped airplane seat. It was already uncomfortable enough, and with the Arizona heat and poorly circulated airplane air, I was sweating and not looking forward to layering up just to feed the baby.

My thoughts turned to a few days prior at JFK when I saw a woman nursing her baby, sans cover, in the middle of the airport. If I was just a passer-by, I would never have even noticed. But I knew what she was doing, and I knew she was my people – a nursing, traveling mother who just wanted to get to her destination without anyone losing their shit. I thought if she could do it, why couldn’t I?

Want to know why nursing in public is such a big step for moms to take in our fair country? Because people react like total assholes, and the last thing a tired mom wants to do is deal with someone outside of her family giving her a hard time (is it not enough that she deals with pint-sized tyrants at home – must she deal with adult-sized idiots in public?). Look at the search results for “breastfeeding discrimination” or see how many women have “nurse-in protests”  for stupid shit like someone being asked to stop breastfeeding because she was “scaring children.”  These were news stories I never really paid attention to until they pertained to me directly – I began to wonder, as a breastfeeding mother, when I might be impacted by this type of discrimination – not if. It seems inevitable.

My rant beings

For whatever reason, we’ve gotten away from breastfeeding being the norm and it’s seen as the exception to the rule or something people do “in private.” It offends people, it makes people uncomfortable, boobs are “private” parts, the library is no places for nipples… and so on. But really, how could you justify taking offense at a mother feeding her child? It’s like, one of the most harmless, selfless acts EVER to share your nourishment with a baby. Amiright… or amiright? 

How often do people excuse themselves from an activity to go eat “in private”? Do they put blankets over their heads to eat a sandwich simply because it’s lunchtime? No, and no. So why would we expect these beautiful, tiny babies and their lactating mothers (who, quite honestly, have enough to worry about) to hightail it out of the room/restaurant/wherever when hunger strikes or literally take cover? (And before anyone jumps down my throat – I recognize that there are cultural/religious/personal views that require covering up in public. This post isn’t about that.)

I wish I knew what about breastfeeding makes normal people turn into awkward, bumbling fools because their totally unsupportive (and dare I say… selfish?) reactions to maybe seeing a nipple for 3 seconds can send a shy nursing mom into corners, under covers, and into closets. There are so many double standards going on it makes me sick. When someone gets all weird the second they see a mom expose 3 square inches of flesh to feed their baby, I hope they don’t think they’re fooling anyone into thinking they’re modest and really truly offended because in today’s day and age, I seriously doubt that they offered a blanket to cover up the scantily clad woman walking down the street, someone wearing a string bikini at the beach, the man without a shirt on playing basketball at the park, or had a hissy fit when an ad for Victoria’s Secret comes on during the commercial break of their favorite television show.

Guess what people? It’s a boob and there is nothing “scary” going on. It’s nothing sexual, or “adult,” or XXX happening. The 3-second flash of a nipple you might see if you’re looking close enough while baby latches is not going to blind you or cause any lasting damage. In fact, it’s probably going to calm the fussy, hungry baby and allow everyone to get on with whatever they were doing in the first place – shopping, taking public transportation, or enjoying the park.

But if this all isn’t sad enough, it breaks my heart that our society is so ass backward that we had to go and pass laws protecting nursing mothers – stating that they have the right to nurse their child in a place where they have the right to be. While I’m glad the laws are there – because people harass nursing mothers kind of a lot – I can’t help but think it’s pretty pathetic that breastfeeding is such a hot button issue that we spent money passing legislation to protect something that mammals have been doing since the dawn of time. Breastfeeding isn’t new. It’s not deviant. It’s not harmful. In fact, it’s healthy, normal, and natural.

How can we fix this? Do better next time!

OK, I’m done ranting. It’s time to figure out where we go from here. Maybe you’ve been a total ass to someone without even realizing it – whether it be gawking, offering a cover, leaving the room/business, or otherwise being a totally unsupportive human being/family member/friend. Maybe you thought you were making mom more comfortable by offering a cover – or whatever you did – but probably not. It’s time to do better next time.

Try this: act normal. Be yourself. Don’t turn into a bumbling idiot because ohmigod there’s a nip. Smile, make eye contact, continue your conversation, and for pete’s sake… don’t gawk. Bring that mom a glass of water or maybe a little snack because nursing is exhausting, and dehydrating, and literally sucks the nutrition out of her body for another human being (I told you it was selfless). At the same time, it’s also breathtaking, and beautiful, and amazing so let her know that, and let her know what a damn good job she is doing. Take the opportunity to teach your children, your husband, your friends that breastfeeding is how babies eat – just like kittens, puppies, and baby mammals of all kinds  – and there’s really nothing offensive or scary about a lactating human.

Basically, if I had to sum it up in a nutshell, I’d say: OFFER SUPPORT AND DON’T ACT LIKE AN ASSHOLE. It’s that easy, folks.

A Phoenix returns (oh please, I couldn’t help myself)

So I went for it on the plane – coverless. I popped my boob out of my shirt, latched the baby on, and much to my surprise, no one had a hissy fit or called the authorities (but I was ready to go all mama bear on them if I had to). It was pretty much a non-event; I switched sides, put myself back together, and the baby went right to sleep for during the red-eye back to JFK. And you know what? It felt AWESOME. I didn’t have to mess with the cover, neither of us started to overheat, and I didn’t feel like I was very publicly hiding something that I wasn’t ashamed of to begin with. We were both happier, and so were all of our seatmates on the plane. Since that moment, I’ve never looked back and nurse freely all over the place – restaurants, airports, parks, parties, while I’m walking the dog around the neighborhood, wherever. I can only hope that another mom will see me and think, “I can do that too.”

Because she can, and dammit, she should.

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Maternity Leave (or training for my new job)

It was never a question of if I would return to work after having a baby – it was a fact. Like many working mothers before me, I would return to work. I would take the U.S. standard of 12 weeks postpartum before jumping back into my day job and resuming the new normal of life as a family of three (well, four if you count the dog). Before going out on leave, 12 weeks sounded like forever. Looking back, it went by in the blink of an eye (and it’s not nearly enough time… but that’s something I can tackle in another post).

Maternity leave was tough – after 10 months fraught with physical changes, crazy hormones, emotional challenges and more – she was finally here. And it’s different for everyone, but I had kind of a rough time postpartum. Between our breastfeeding challenges, PUPPP, and taking care of a newborn, I felt a little bit crazy. Add to all of those things normal, every day necessities like eating a meal, taking a shower, or finding time to pay bills and I felt mentally maxed out. It was easy to think, “Nursing will get better once she can hold her head up,” or “When I’m not itching myself until I bleed I will enjoy the weather more,” but I promised myself I wouldn’t wish it all away because all those people who’ve said, “It goes by fast,” when they talk about their children growing up are right. Time moves differently when you’re a parent, quicker than you can ever imagine and in a way you don’t understand until you actually are a parent.

Going from having a pretty normal everyday routine – work, gym, family time – to having a completely open and unpredictable schedule was jarring. There were times when I literally did not know if it was day or night. Some days I stayed in bed with the baby nursing for what seemed like the entire day, only to climb in to “sleep” at night which was more like a series of catnaps with hour-long nursing sessions in between. It was a total haze but looking back, it was the routine things that helped anchor me when I was feeling really turned around. Brushing my teeth twice a day reminded me that there was a morning and night, eating regular meals reminded me that yes, my body needed nutrition and paying bills reminded me what day of the month it was.

I think It was the latter that stressed me out the most – my leave was comprised of short-term disability, paid time off, and unpaid leave – meaning that my usual income took a decent hit over those three months. I planned as much as I could, and had plenty to bridge the gap between paychecks, but I constantly worried, “What if?” Looking back, I wish I would have started to plan even sooner. So soon-to-be mamas take heed and plan as much as you can! Here’s a link to some good tips about preparing financially for maternity leave.

But by far the biggest challenge about maternity leave was its inevitable end – I felt like the minute our daughter was born, the countdown to my return was on. Throughout my leave I vacillated back and forth between wanting to spend every waking minute of every single day with our daughter and really missing, and craving, the challenge that comes with pursuing a career and getting some mileage out of my degrees. There were days when I said to my husband, “I could never stay home full-time. That’s just not me.” There were other days when I simply couldn’t imagine dropping her off at daycare and returning to work, days I thought I would chain myself to the bassinet and refuse to budge.

It feels like as soon as leave began, it was over. My first day back at work came and went and I’ve been back for about two months that have completely flown by. I jumped right back in and picked up projects, started new ones, and caught up on what I’d missed. I’m still adjusting, for sure, but now I look forward to my days at work. On top of giving me an outlet to channel my professional energy, being back at work also allows me to eat at least one meal a day with both hands, put on grown-up clothes on a regular basis, and shower much more frequently. And let’s be honest here – at this point, those are all pretty major accomplishments.

I dutifully go to work now with new goals on top of my general career aspirations. Working means I can provide my daughter with the best and most amazing opportunities that i can. Whether it’s swim lessons or music class or traveling or saving for college – she’s my new motivation to work hard every single day.

Every minute I’m not working is devoted to our family – fun-filled weekends and evenings, special snuggle time in the mornings before the day gets going. We laugh, walk, play, go for walks and more. Of course we miss each other a lot during the day, but it makes the time we do spend together that much more precious. Quality over quantity never rang more true. In a way, maternity leave was never something with a set end – it was really just training for my new full-time gig: being a mom.

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Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

Happy World Breastfeeding Week! In honor of this week, I wanted to share our own somewhat tumultuous journey over the past couple of months. It has a very happy ending, so if you’re facing challenges breastfeeding, stick with it. It’s worth it!

Three days after Elizabeth was born, my milk “came in.” Right on cue. But wait, I was in serious pain when she latched (or tried to latch) and things didn’t feel right. I knew she needed to eat, I could tell by her wails, and I needed to get my milk out somehow. I figured I could pump and we could give her bottles until we could see an LC (it was Memorial Day), so I opened up my breast pump and for some reason (ahem… pregnancy hormones… ahem) I was completely overwhelmed. Between all of the fun post-partum stuff happening, plus the pain and lack of sleep… I didn’t have the brain capacity to clean the parts, put them together, and read the damn manual. So I did the next best thing: hand expressed milk into a Pyrex bowl while sitting on the side of our bed and then gave it to Elizabeth with a spoon (it made sense at the time and got the job done!). I was still in a lot of pain, and at one point saw blood-tinged milk come out of my breast. Crying baby, crying mom. YIKES!

This wasn’t exactly the peaceful, angelic picture of breastfeeding I had envisioned. While I was hand expressing like a boss, I couldn’t help but think back to one of my early prenatal visits when my midwife asked me if I planned to breastfeed. The obvious answer, to me, was “Yes! Of course!” She then threw me a curveball and asked, “Do you feel like you have the support you need to breastfeed?” I asked her what she meant by that – support? I was just going to breastfeed, simple as that. I even thought (which now seems ironic), “How hard could it be?”

Anyway, I needed support that morning, and I needed it immediately. I reached out to a local La Leche League Leader and she helped me wrap my head around what to do next, including how to get through the next couple of days until we could see a lactation consultant. She was a lifesaver and talked me off a ledge that morning but I got really sad thinking that maybe there was something wrong with me, that I couldn’t provide for my daughter, and felt like I was headings towards failure – my goal had been to breastfeed for a year and here I was, a few days in, and having doubts.

To cut to the chase, it turned out I had a nipple infection (yes, OUCH!) because Elizabeth had a posterior tongue-tie and was basically using her gums to breastfeed. It prevented her from latching properly (read: chomp chomp!) and was a relatively easy fix once our LC figured out what was going on. We saw a specialist, Dr. Dahl in New York City, who was great – she clipped the tie for us in mere seconds and had me feed Elizabeth right in her office, moments after the procedure. It took us longer to get off the FDR and across town than it did for us to have the entire office visit. It felt immediately better, and it was there that I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

It took about six (long) weeks, multiple sessions with the LC, and lots of time dedicated to nursing until we hit our stride. I’ve nursed her everywhere – from restaurants to the car to airplanes – and every way – standing, in the baby carrier, lying down, sitting. It’s pretty cool now! But back to that “support” my midwife asked me about… having the support of the LLL, lactation consultant, and midwives was indispensable but what really meant the most to me was having support from my husband. Not once did he tell me to give up, suggest we switch to formula, or say he didn’t think we could get through it. Instead, he was right next to me as I spoke to the LLL leader, sat for hours in our lactation consultant appointments remembering everything the LC said so that I didn’t have to, drove the family down to Dr. Dahl’s office in NYC, reminded me to treat the infection in my breasts, cooked for me, brought me glass after glass of water, made sure I was taking care of myself so I could take care of the baby, and held my hand when I cried out of frustration, pain, hormonal mood swings, and finally out of pure joy once things started to get better.

But, most importantly, he frequently reminds me how cool it is that my body, quite literally, keeps our baby alive and he thanks me for feeding her. In those “thank yous” I know he means much more – thank you for being dedicated to feeding our daughter, for the time you spend nursing, for the time you will spend pumping back at work, and on and on. I never thought he would be anything BUT supportive, but just hearing him say it out loud makes me feel great.

To all the pregnant mamas planning to breastfeed – my best advice is this: have a support system in place before you give birth – talk to your doctor, your pediatrician, go to La Leche League meetings, watch women breastfeed in real life, and learn how to use your breast pump, you know, just in case you need it right away.

Cheers to all you mamas out there who breastfed/feed your babies, and cheers to all the support people who help along the way. It’s a labor of love but hey, I hear that’s what parenting is all about anyway!

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