Saturday, August 16, 2014

Fifth Annual Breastival of Nurslings

Tired of only having self-portrait nursing photos where everything is too dark, out of focus, and quite frankly you can barely tell what is going on? Well, the Breastival of Nurslings is here to fix that and have fun while doing it!

Enjoy a private photo shoot to capture moments between you and your nursing child at the Breastival of Nurslings on Saturday, September 27th 10:30am-2pm - open house. This unique bond between you and your child will be documented forever! Join the in the Facebook event!

The Fifth Annual Breastival of Nurslings will take place in Arden Hills, Minnesota, indoor and outdoor locations are available. The exact address will be provided to attendees. Everyone will get a 10-15 minute mini-session for $15/$20 to photograph a special moment with nursling(s). Understanding that we are working with children and appetites here, there will be some wiggle room if your nursling isn't cooperating. Don't worry, we get it.

Attire Advice: Look around the internet for breastfeeding photos you like... what do they all have in common? Time to throw modesty out the window! No covers, no hiding under baggy shirts - time to "whip 'em out" as they say. Button down shirts or a shirt you can comfortably go up over the top is probably your best bet. Go braless or with a bra that has nothing left on top once you unclip the cup. Less busy the pattern on the clothing the better, plain bold colors or bold patterns work best (like polka dots or solid colors). Also, keep jewelry to a minimum because it distracts from the nursing moment.

Refreshments: Food will be from Wildtree representative Deanna Parriott. We will have plenty of yummy snacks and treats for you to munch on and enjoy. We will also have water available. or

Payment/Product: All tickets must be purchased in advance. You can get the "early boob special" of $15 by making your purchase by September 5th, after that the price goes up to $20. You will receive 7-10 photos via email within 3 weeks after this event. You will have full printing rights so that you may print your photos anywhere. Refunds can only be made prior to September 15th, and it would help if you could find a replacement nursing friend to take your spot. Space is limited at this very exclusive event! Money will be going to the photographers and to cover the cost of our supplies.

Extra children: As space is limited at this engagement please leave non-nursing children at home if possible. We want there to be plenty of space for the mamas and nurslings, and we also want to cut down on things that could be distracting to those who are getting their photos done. We all know how exciting the world can be to a nursling child in a new environment!

Details on HOW to register coming soon - I'm still confirming photographers and then I will update. For now SAVE THE DATE. Hurray!

Monday, May 20, 2013

End of Pregnancy Poem

This is a poem written by a friend of the family back in 1959 when Audrey was within due date range with her first baby. Its funny but true!! :)

Every day ten times or so,
The telephone rings.

Friends and relatives asking:
"How's things?

Are you still there?
Why don't you go?

What's the matter?
How come so slow?"

And every day I get fatter and more round
It's harder to stand, and WORSE to sit down!

Each day goes more slowly,
My spirits more lowly.

Wearily I ask my mate,
"Is this to be a PERMANENT state?!"

And so dear friends and relatives who call,
Please reconsider, one and all.

If you think about it, you'll conclude that MAYBE

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Guest Post: My 1 in 100

Being pregnant for the second time seemed like it would be a piece of cake, I mean I had already done it before, so naturally it would be exactly the same, right? Well, throw in a crazy case of the pukes ALL 37 weeks and add a crazy toddler to the mix and it's nothing like the first time being pregnant! My pregnancy went very well up until the 20 week scan. We were so excited to find out if we were going to have another little girl or would there be a boy in our near future, not to mention the excitement of just getting to see your baby on the screen, it truly is an amazing thing. We could see for ourselves pretty clearly that we were going to have another little girl and  we were thrilled! The tech was taking the usual measurements but always seemed to keep coming back to the heart. After about 2 hours the tech gave up and said the baby was just not cooperating, they just couldn't get a clear shot of the heart so we should come back in a week to try again. No harm no foul, I would get to see the little nugget again, how could I complain about that! I honestly was not worried at all and went ahead and scheduled the ultra sound. A week later they still could not “see” what they wanted to see, once again blaming it on the baby not being in the optimal position. Because of this it was suggested that I go to a specialist to get a fetal echo. This freaked me out, “what does that mean is there a problem!”. Once again I was reassured that it is usually nothing and the only reason to see a specialist is because they have much better equipment. So we made the appointment. At the time I thought waiting a week for the  fetal echo was the most stressed out one could ever be, I now know the body can take on much more. The fetal echo came and went without a hiccup, it literally took 5 minutes for the doctor to tell us everything is perfect and we have one healthy little girl :)

Fast forward about 15 weeks...

11/2/11 at 11:00am our sweet 8 pound light brown hair, blue eyed baby girl was born. Jordan Paige. I was so worried that I wouldn't be able to love another child as much as I did my first, boy was I wrong! She was precious and perfect, I couldn't wait for our family to meet her. After being transferred to the postpartum wing I was anxiously awaiting for the nurses  to bring Jordan back to me (after her bath and check up). They soon brought her back but the head nurse informed me that they had heard a heart murmur. To be honest I didn't know what that meant and honestly I wasn't even freaked out when she told me. Just as a precaution they wanted a pediatric cardiologist to do an echo on her and it just so happened that one was coming in to see another baby. Once again no big deal, right, RIGHT?

“your daughter has a very large hole in her heart, it is called a Ventricular Septal Defect or VSD and she will require Open heart surgery with in her first year of life.”

Before then I had no idea that Congenital heart defects are the number 1 birth defect in America, heck in the world! Did you know 1 in 100 children are born with CHD? I also didn't know that Jordan was very lucky to have been diagnosed within hours of being born. 2 out of 3 babies with CHD get sent home undiagnosed where they can then suffer life long effects and even death! I kept thinking to myself this is an emotional roller coaster from hell. Once minute on a complete high of becoming a mother for the second time only to be knocked down into a whirl wind of the unknown.

We were able to take Jordan home but had bi weekly cardiology appointments, bi weekly pediatric weight checks on top of regular new born appointments. By 2 weeks of age Jordan was in congestive heart failure. By 4 weeks her weight gain had essentially stopped. I nursed my first daughter until she was 7 months old and was completely prepared to do the same with Jordan; however Jordan's heart was pumping too much blood to her lungs which in turn made her heart work in over time making her burn more calories then what she was taking in therefore breast milk just wasn't enough :( She had to go on a strict diet of what we called “protein shakes”, pretty much breast milk mixed with a TON of formula and not that much water. I know the benefits of nursing, especially a sick child, and it crushed me everyday to know that I literally could not provide her with what she needed. I made it my mission to have a stock pile of breast milk for whenever her surgery was and for after. Hahah my husband made fun of me because I filled 2 freezers with expressed milk in a relatively short amount of time. I had so much that I actually started donating the excess and at one time I was single handedly “feeding” 4 babies! Back to little miss Jordan though :)

The beginning of February 2012, at a routine cardiology appointment, Jordan's echo showed that her right ventricle had developed what are called muscle bundles or right ventricle hypertrophy. This changed the game and we now had to schedule surgery to prevent permanent damage to her little lungs. She was only 3 months old.

Those few weeks before surgery were very intense. My husband was out of town, the girls and I were on lock down and couldn't go anywhere for fear of germs, and well let's be real my baby was going to have Open Heart Surgery, that was the only thing on my mind 24/7. Her surgery was actually bumped up by 3 weeks, by request of her surgeon, which was a shock, but later I realized this truly was a blessing, it was 3 weeks less of stressing out about, “what if”.

Feb 29, 2012, leap day, my husband and I handed over our almost 4 month old 10 pound  baby. We waited the 5 hours only receiving a text here or there about Jordan's progress; “ surgery started”, “By pass machine on”, “by pass machine disconnected”, “sewing up now”, ect. After Jordan's surgery the Doctor told us she actually had  a more severe defect then they had thought, her new diagnoses was/is Tetrology of fallot. They were able to patch her VSD and close a PDA(patent ductus arteriosus) in addition to shaving down the right ventricle muscle bundles. Now came the hard part, being reunited with our sweet girl.

The cardiac intensive care unit (CICU) just plain sucks. It is all babies or very small children who are all very very sick. Seeing Jordan for the first time is something that will haunt me forever. A tiny lifeless body with tubes going every which way, the humming of the ventilator breathing for her, the various alarms going off every few seconds, it is just something no parent should ever have to see their child go through. Jordan was a rock star and was able to come off the ventilator about 12 hours later and after 26 hours of being in the CICU we said PEACE OUT and were moved to the heart and kidney unit. We “slept” on chairs and not so comfy couches while getting up every few minutes to check on Jordan. She just kept doing awesome and within 5 days of having open heart surgery we headed home!
Slowly but surely Jordan stated gaining weight, on breast milk only by the way :) she started rolling over and surprised everyone at all her post op appointments. 8 months after her surgery we were given the clear from the cardiologist for 1 year, that's a HUGE step for her and for us!

Today Jordan is 15 months old and so full of life. She has the most amazing blue eyes and the best raspy little laugh :) Although a bit under weight she can still out eat her 3 year old sister haha. Jordan Paige is my hero, how someone so small can endure so much in so little a time and still be genuinely happy I will never know. I am proud to be Heart Mom and I am proud to have a Heart Warrior, My 1 in 100.

February 7-14th is congenital heart defect(CHD) awareness week. Jordan's story is just one, one of the lucky ones. Every year more than 91,000 LIFE years are lost due to CHD.  Something needs to be done. To put it in perspective twice as many children die from CHD each year then from ALL forms of childhood cancers combined, twice as many! Please spread the word, learn, educate. Who knows could your child be the next 1 in 100?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Guest Blog: Generations of Breastfeeding

One of my first memories is right after my brother was born. I was two years old in March of 1975 and he was born the following July. He was born early in the morning, at home. I remember walking down the hall, through a doorway and seeing my mother propped up in bed with him. The doorway is hazy in my memory – my mother looks like I’m seeing her through wavy glass. According to my mother (I don’t remember this), when I walked up to the bed and started talking to Matt, he unlatched himself from her breast and turned towards my voice. This was about 15 minutes after he was born. Then, in two-year-old fashion, I ran up and down the hall, saying over and over again, “It’s a baby! It’s a baby! It’s a baby!” I was just a little excited, apparently.

I also remember nursing. I nursed until just a few months before my third birthday. Matt was closer to three and a half when he weaned. My few memories of nursing are like the memory after Matt’s birth – hazy and dreamlike. I remember my mother asking me if I wanted ‘na’ after I had been upset about something and walking across the room towards her. I remember the feeling of being cradled in her arms. When I think about these memories, when I call them up in my mind, there is a warmth in my being that I had not experienced in my life until I had my own children.

My mother was a La Leche League leader and a homebirther when both of these things were much less common than they are now (although as a midwife, I must say that we help a dismally small percentage of women, even now!). I remember going to La Leche meetings with her and hiding under the plastic stacking seats in the back of the room while she was showing a childbirth videos. She tells me that I would go home, pretend like I was giving birth to my dolls on the couch and then nurse them.

I know that these early experiences shaped who I am today, just as my mother’s early experiences shaped her expectations and ideas of what is normal in parenting. My grandmother, in 1948, nursed my mother until she was one. I am still amazed by this. Can you imagine? My grandfather was in the Marines when my mother was born, so my grandmother had my mother in a military hospital. My grandmother told me that when she would breastfeed my mother, the nurses would pull curtains around her bed, because “nobody wants to see that.” My grandmother had no support, no direction from nurses or doctors. She is one of my breastfeeding heroes.

I feel fortunate to have grown up in a family where extended nursing was the norm. I never questioned that when I had children, I would nurse them for at least a couple of years. That’s just what you did, right?
Now I have two nurslings of my own - a beautiful girl who will be three in about a month and another daughter
who just turned six months. They are the light and greatest loves of my life. They are the sun that my husband and I dance around every day. They dictate my schedule, my sleeping and waking, my playing and cleaning. The three year old is just learning to use a butter knife and loves to help me get dinner ready. This evening, she pulled a package of mushrooms (one of the things I let her cut up) out of the refrigerator and said, “My cut mushrooms, Mom. My big girl.” The baby is often riding on my back while we cook together, either soft and curled up against me, asleep – or cooing and trying to look around me to see what is happening. It is a magical time. They are both changing and learning so much every day. I try desperately to be present with them as much as I am able – to really and truly give them my attention so that I can savor every moment. Some days I do a good job, some days, not as much.

One of the ways I do feel that I can give them both my attention is by breastfeeding. My job as a midwife allows me to be with them most of the time. The oldest went with me to prenatals until she was mobile, and my youngest is doing the same. I do not take them to births, but I average around one or two births a month, so while I may be gone for a long time when I am at a birth, I am able to pump, have someone bring me the baby, or a combination of both. I feel very fortunate that this is the case for me. I know many moms who have to work regular full-time schedules and it makes it very challenging to breastfeed. Don’t get me started about paid maternity leave!

So far, I haven’t felt the need to wean my oldest, although I do understand completely how someone would. Nursing two children can be overwhelming, and even though my oldest doesn’t nurse a lot these days, I still often tell her no if she asks to nurse during the day or she wants to nurse while the baby is nursing. I understand that our nursing relationship is a two-way street, and if I am not enjoying it, that my feelings will affect her experience as well. That being said, I don’t feel the need to completely wean her. I feel very strongly that meeting a child’s early needs for attachment leads to greater independence later in life. Forcing independence before they are ready rarely ever works. The ‘sacrifices’ I make to continue nursing my oldest do not seem like sacrifices to me at all. My children are young only once, and their need for me will only be this great for a relatively short amount of time. It is okay if my wants get pushed to the side for a while.

Breastfeeding was easy for us from the beginning. They both latched on within minutes of being born and went from there. In this, I also feel very fortunate. I know through my job as a midwife and through friends that this is not always the case. I also have no doubts that my early exposures to breastfeeding with my brother and other children in La Leche formed the ideas in my mind about what is normal. Seeing a baby bottle feeding is odd to me. Seeing my own babies eat out of a bottle is disturbing on a gut level, even though I know it is sometimes necessary and that it’s my own milk.

Recently, my oldest has taken to “wearing” her dolls and teddy bears. She either puts them down the front of her shirt or has me put them down the back. A few times she has asked me to make her a backpack out of a scarf so she can wear them on her back without them falling down. Sometimes when she does this, she will walk around the living room, making little bouncing motions with each step and saying, “sh sh sh sh” as she walks. She is calming her babies, just like she sees me doing with her little sister.

The first time I saw her do this, the feeling I had was something akin to de ja vue. I felt a moment of stillness and depth and awareness of connections. I could see and sense the connections between the parenting choices of my grandmother, my mother, myself, and some day, my daughters. I wished for someone else to see what I was seeing, just so I could grab their arm and ask, “Do you SEE this?”

My oldest also nurses her dolls when she says they are sad. When she hears a baby crying in public she will let me know that the baby needs to nurse. Just as my ideas about what is normal were formed at an early age, my daughters are learning the same things. They are learning that it is normal to respond to your children’s needs, not ignore them. They are learning that it is normal to breastfeed – even in public! They are learning that holding your baby close is the best way to calm them. That sometimes a cuddle and a little bit of nursing is all you need.

I am a Licensed Midwife in Arkansas and a Certified Professional Midwife, working at Birthroot Midwifery in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I am also a student and breastfeeding advocate. I am married to the best hubby I could ever want. In response to being asked to cover up in public while I was nursing my youngest (which I did not do, by the way), I have started an organization called Breastfeeding Friendly Arkansas. Our mission is to normalize breastfeeding through education, support and empowerment. I feel tremendously lucky to have the support I do in terms of breastfeeding. Many women do not. Our organization is working to change that! You can find us on Facebook and at BreastfeedingFriendlyArkansas.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Seeking Admins for the Normalizing Nursing in Public League

After running The Normalizing Nursing in Public League Facebook page nearly solo for two years I'm looking for some extra help. I'd love to have some NNIPL members to help manage questions, promote appropriate links to share, field questions, and just be a super NNIPL helper in general. If you'd be up for the job, please send a little paragraph application to thegoodletdown{at}gmail{dot}com with a description of your breastfeeding experience/knowledge and ways you'd like to help out. I have many other passions than just breastfeeding, and I'd like to get as many like-minded folks as possible running the page so they answer questions similar to my way. Thank you!!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Shaking Things Up to Bring You The Best!

So, coming up on 3,000 fans, we are thinking of changing our question format a little over on the Facebook Page. From now on, instead of reposting each question we receive through the wall and private message directly to the wall, we will address each mother individually first. Helping her to find resources and solutions to common questions and referring her to her local in person resources as neccessary. After these personal conversations with mothers posting or messaging for help, we will share her question and some solutions in a post asking for further input from moms.

There are a few reasons for our change!

  1. We want to empower mothers to learn and problem solve, like the old adage says "teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime." Adult learners retain 80-90% of what they say AND do, so it is helpful to do your research and in the process above, others will be graced with the resources that can help them in the future. 
  2. We want moms to get the research based answers and solutions FIRST, saving personal, experiential, and anecdotal evidence for input after the issue has been assessed and resources have been given.
  3. We want each fan to see a bigger picture when scanning their newsfeed, so you'll see a brief synopsis of a mom's question/problem/concern, the symptoms, as well as resources and suggestions and a request for YOUR experience and input (and further questions?) if you should choose to respond! By doing this, you learn a little something even if you choose not to read through the comments, and better yet, you'll see what resources and evidence supports different solutions to different problems...and some day you'll perhaps have an issue and you'll remember "Oh yeah! I can check out!" or something like that. 

This format is more personal, and we want to be able to help mothers more directly. We will be engaging some of the experienced friends we have in our village to help us handle the volume if we are unable to address a large number of questions. We also would like to take one or two volunteers to help in moderating the page. If you are interested, please write to us a short blurb about why you would like to help, what your qualifications are, training, certifications, accreditation, etc. Tell us about your personal breastfeeding story, things you overcame and how, how you think your experience may help other moms...anything that you feel makes you qualified to help mothers with breastfeeding problems. We'll select two applicants after a little back and forth and when they are all set, we'll introduce you to them.

Please feel free to share any posts you think are new or interesting from the facebook page with friends who may benefit from even just skimming those details. It's funny how the brain works. We may one day be talking with a mother about newborn feeding habits because she is afraid baby is not getting enough...another mother may read that and not need it, but later if or when she does, she will pull it from the dusty corners and she'll know what to do or at least how to get information and support.

Welcome to virtual breastfeeding education readers! We hope our experiment improves our service to you and sets us apart from other breastfeeding pages and blogs out there!

(and the other mamas too, obviously)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bursting Bubbles

Last month we had our Third Annual Breastival of Nurslings photography event. It was a huge success and we had 41 mamas come to get their portraits taken while nursing their children. It was so wonderful to be surrounded by like-minded mamas and just chat the afternoon away.

During the photo shoot we realized just how many of us were tandem nursing mamas, so we took the opportunity to do a group shot of all of us nursing!

Allison Kuznia Photography -
Age of Nurslings from left to right; 3, 1, 1, 3, 2, 0, 0, and 1

The four of us are regulars at playdates, and this sight is actually a pretty common one in my backyard. The only usual thing about it really is that we are in a line instead of in a circle. This is our norm. We often spend playdates nursing our babies (and by babies, we mean the children under the age of 2) frequently with the older ones occasionally coming in for a quick nurse, before they run off to play. We have been so immersed in a breastfeeding friendly culture like this that we kind of forgot that we aren't "normal." We posted the photo on our FB fan page... and quickly thereafter came some negative comments of how "gross" we are and how our children are "too old." I will say, 99% of the comments were gushing over how we are the most awesome women on the planet and how they wished they had friends like this in their community. The handful of negative ones were kind of a shock as we have been living in this little happy bubble of absolute acceptance and love for our full term breastfeeding.

The natural age of weaning is between ages 2 and 7, with the average being between 3 and 5 years of age. These children are all well within the normal breastfeeding age for humans. It is only our society and myths that are leaving people to feel like this is somehow wrong. News flash... breasts are not sexual organs! If you are someone that has a foot fetish... does that suddenly make feet sexual organs? Breasts can be used during a sexual act... but their main purpose in life is to supply breastmilk to children. Surprise!!! There is nothing sexual about breastfeeding children. Breastfeeding does not suddenly become inappropriate or no longer beneficial at 366 days of age (or whatever you think the cut off should be.) 

Here are some great resources about full term breastfeeding and the benefits of nursing older children.