Top Ten Reasons to Attend MommyCon

10. Find Your Mama Tribe: You will make friends. I mean you actually will make friends. The place is teeming with moms. They even have mom to mom contact cards lying around so that you can easily exchange contact information with the people you meet and want to see again. The atmosphere is tailored to celebrate all of the beauty in motherhood, to bring moms together who are in similar places in their parenting journey and to strengthen bonds between us. You’d think it was like a party for moms or something. Oh, wait…

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9. You Get to Touch Stuff: It’s not a museum. It’s a giant playdate with tons of amazing products for you to pick up, hold, try on and ride around on. And the stuff is freakin’ cool. I have attended many MommyCons at this point, but I never skip wandering through the vendors. I always see something that I have never seen before and it’s always awesome. You get to eat the Milkin’ Cookies, slather on the Motherlove, toss your kid into a Joovy stroller or wear your little one in a Lillebaby. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. And I’m not even talking about the play area with tons of toys for your kid to play with. It’s like a play area for moms!

 8. For All of the Tears: I can almost guarantee that tears will be shed. Whether you are listening to a speaker who is touching on something you thought you were going through alone, a workshop where your personal struggles are being individually addressed or a private conversation where you finally feel comfortable to open up about something you haven’t wanted to talk about; whether you are laughing so hard that you can’t control yourself or you just won a brand new stroller, car seat and baby carrier, I am confident that you will be moved to tears. I have seen it. Every. Single. Time.

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7. The Baby Guy: Follow the loud voice and he will lead you to fun. It’s no secret that Jamie Grayson aka The Baby Guy likes to have a good time. He lives up to his reputation in person. Walk right up to him and give him a hug. This is not a place where the speakers sit backstage and just appear at curtain call. You will have the opportunity to have a chat and picture with some of your favorite bloggers and health professionals such as Jessica from The Leaky Boob, Bunmi from Honest Toddler, Jamie from I Am Not the Babysitter and Dr. Jay Gordon.

6Normalize Society: When you walk the halls and rooms of MommyCon you get transported to what seems at first like another dimension. Upon further assessment you realize that this is actually an example of a society that has been normalized to, well, nature. The human body, the personal interactions and the group mentality are all working in an idealized manner. The human body is respected as a birthing, breastfeeding and parenting machine. People have giant smiles on their faces and if they don’t then they have several people gathered around helping, supporting and listening. The group mentality is one of positive power. Like-minded families come together and understand their connectedness in their individuality as parents and families.

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5. Mandatory Bag Check: You can bring your actual bags inside, but you won’t find any of the other kind of baggage here. Everything about you is welcome here. Your struggles, choices and parenting style. But this is real life. You won’t find any of the keyboard courage, butthurt and abuse that you have likely encountered on-line. When MommyCon says, “I support you,” they mean it. Whatever our differences are they do not trump our love for each other, our passion for connecting face to face and our overall similarities as families. Humans are social creatures and we are meant to connect this way. Nature simply doesn’t allow for all of the negativity to take over as happens in more unnatural ways of connecting.

4. Xza Likes to Cause a Stir: You might have trouble tracking down the Owner and Creator of MommyCon. After one MommyCon my husband said, “Did we see Xza today? Oh yeah, she was that blur.” Xza works her ass off to put on these conventions and she runs from sun up to sun down. But she will always stop to host a giveaway or throw t-shirts or exercise some other method of causing excitement in the room. I’ve actually witnessed her tossing t-shirts into a crowd of moms roaring with excitement and throwing their bodies around like they were trying to catch the bouquet at a wedding.

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3. You Feel Important: Because you are. This one comes courtesy of my mom, Grandma Badass, who has attended 2 MommyCons. “You feel like you are a part of something. Even I felt that way as a Grandma! You feel important. The vendors are awesome. Everyone is there with ideas to make parenting easier and to help with any struggles.” No one is more important than a mother and at MommyCon you actually feel it.

2Question Everything: Empowering women is not about telling them what to do. It’s about educating women on their choices, helping them decide what is right for them and giving them the confidence to make the decision that is best for them. You will leave MommyCon smarter. And you’ll be surprised because you won’t remember doing anything except having fun. But you’ll know more about babywearing, breastfeeding, birth and much more. When women come together we get the courage to question things. When we question things opportunities open up. When opportunities open up we get to take control of our lives. And when women take control of their lives we are a force to be reckoned with. When you attend MommyCon you join a movement of Questioning Everything.

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1. Sometimes, Just Sometimes, It’s Free: Enter below to win your chance at a pair of tickets to Anytown, USA! Yep, you heard me, you pick the city. Click here to see the stops MommyCon is making this year and next. There will be TEN (10) winners! If you don’t win, don’t fret; I’ve got the hook up. **Use promo code “Badass” for $10 off your ticket price!**

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“Our Son is My Hero”

By Badass Kortney

I’m the mother of five beautiful children and wife to an amazing man.  Our oldest son, Hutson is 11, then we have a set of boy/girl twins, Deacon and Finley who will be 3 next week and then our second set of boy/girl twins, Piper and Harvey.  We did IVF to conceive both sets of twins after 6 years of secondary infertility.  I was able to breastfeed my first set of twins for 16 months before they self weaned.  Piper and Harvey are 8 months old and still going strong.  This is my story…

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The week of Sept 8th there was a virus sweeping through our house.  All of the kids were catching it one after the other starting with the oldest.  It was just a low grade fever and cough.  It seemed to last about 3-4 days and then it was done.  Harvey was the last to catch it and had just been running a bit of a fever but that was really it.  On Sept 18th I put him to bed after nursing him like every other night.  The morning of Sept 19th he woke up crying, I went to get him and change his diaper and he had a stuffy nose and was coughing.  I changed his diaper quickly and started cleaning off his nose.  He started gagging and turned blue.  I picked him up and leaned him forward to help him get the mucus out of his throat.  He threw up and started crying.  It scared me so bad.

I thought he would be better by day 3 and he seemed to be worse.  So I got on the phone with the pediatrician to see if I could get him in.  The earliest appointment they had was 3:30.  I took it but still felt uneasy.  He had fallen back asleep in my arms.  I decided I’d check his temp and try to nurse him.  He had a low grade temp so I sat down to nurse him.  He would latch for just a second and then pull away and gasp.  By this point I was scared.  Something was wrong. I tried to get him to wake up but his eyes just rolled back in his head and he was limp.  I was shaking as I called my husband and told him to meet me at the ER.  As calmly as I could I got Deacon and Finley in their carseats and buckled up.  Then I got Piper and Harvey in their carseats and headed to the ER.  I kept reaching back and grabbing Harvey’s hand to make sure he was still conscious.  He would grip my finger.  We don’t live far from the ER and my husband got there before I got him out of the car.  He stayed with the other kids while I took Harvey in.  He just snuggled into my arms and slept.  They took us back immediately and checked vitals and everything was fine.  We waited for the doctor and I asked if I could nurse him.  I tried again and he puked.  He was lifeless.

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They decided to start an IV to get fluids in him as he was dehydrated.  He hasn’t nursed since going to bed the night before.  They tried ELEVEN times to start an IV.  He never flinched.  By this time I was sick…something was very wrong.  I asked that we take him upstairs to the pediatric unit.  After a nasty remark by the nurse I was shown up stairs.  The nurses knew right away something wasn’t right and the doctor on call was right by my side in an instant.  They realized they wouldn’t be able to get an IV b/c his veins were so small and the ER nurses had blown any that he did have.  So they did an IO line in his fibula (its an IV that goes into the bone).  They pumped him with fluids and the doctor said he needed to be admitted but I’d have to go back to the ER to do that.  After what seemed like forever but was really about an hour we got admitted and back to the pediatric unit.  The doctor ordered a spinal tap and CT scan.  She had the results of the CT within 30 minutes and that’s when she told us he had extra fluid/blood in his brain and what appeared to be a cyst.  We would have to be transported to the Children’s hospital and see a Pediatric Neurologist.  But she thought that the extra fluid and “cyst” could be pushing on something and causing him to be so sleepy.

An ambulance came and transported us to the other hospital.  By this time my mother in law had gotten to our house to stay with the older 3 kids and my husband was with me and he had Piper so I could continue to nurse her.  We got to the Children’s hospital around 10pm on Friday night and they started assessing him.  They needed to get an IV started b/c an IO can’t stay in for more than a few hours.  They had taken him straight to the PICU and several nurses looked him over looking for a good vein.  He had nothing.  They ended up calling the Medivac team to come in and see if they could help.  These women were amazing.  They only poke him twice and they got 2 IVs started.  Several Neurologists had come in and it was decided he had too much pressure on his brain for the fluid/blood and he needed an EVD (Drain).  They had ordered an MRI to be done but said it would be Sunday before they could do it.  This is something I was not happy about.  He was completely lifeless… something was very wrong and I wanted this “cyst” gone. The EVD was placed and he was finally able to rest but I couldn’t hold him anymore.  Watching my baby lie there, completely helpless was the most painful thing I had ever done.  As we waited for the MRI on Sunday my husband was bringing Piper to me every 3-4 hours so she could nurse.  She couldn’t go in the PICU so I had to nurse her in the waiting room while my husband set with Harvey.

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Around 1:30 Saturday afternoon Harvey moaned so I jumped up to check on him and he had dumped 58cc of blood into his drain.  He had been putting out 10-15 cc an hour so that was a lot.  I called the nurse and she was shocked to.  The Neurologist came in and seemed baffled as to why he would have dumped so much so fast.  I asked if we could please to do MRI now and he told me again that they couldn’t do it until Sunday.  So I asked for a CT scan.  Just to compare to the day before to make sure the “cyst” hadn’t ruptured or something.  Thankfully he agreed to the CT scan.  He was taken immediately.  It was done pretty fast and they brought him back to the room and started hooking him back up when they came in and said, “Get him intubated, he’s getting an MRI NOW!”  I don’t know what they saw on the scan but things got serious real quick.  I wasn’t sure what to think I just knew I was glad they decided to take me serious.  I may not know much but I know my kids and I knew something was VERY wrong.

They said it would take a few hours for the MRI results so I decided to try and get some sleep.  At 1:30am I was woken up to a room for of doctors.  One of them started talking to me about what they saw on the MRI.  Harvey had a brain aneurysm that had ruptured.  Had he not gotten the drain 12 hours earlier he would not have survived the rupture.  Nothing else they told me mattered.  We needed to do whatever it was going to take to fix him.  I was terrified.  I called my husband and told him what I knew at that point which wasn’t much, he has an aneurysm and needs surgery within the next 12-18 hours.  They were sending the surgeon to talk to me as soon as he had a plan.  My husband and Piper came to the hospital so he could be there when the doctor arrived.

Apparently this isn’t something that happens to babies.  This happens to adults in their 60s.  The doctors were baffled.  They had no answers as to why it happened but they knew it needed to be fixed.  The surgeon talked to us about the risks of surgery and there was no question other than, “When can we do it?”  We were absolutely terrified.  We were told he would need therapy to regain strength and learn how to roll over again, sit up and crawl.  He could lose most of his fine motor skills.  On Sunday, September 21st Harvey was taken in for surgery.  He was in surgery for 7 hours.  They were able to successfully clip one of the aneurysms but there was another one.  A much larger one but it was clotted and had no active blood flow so they decided to leave it and see if it would reabsorb like it was supposed to.  We would follow up 10 days later with an angiogram to see if the surgery was successful.

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The next several days were the worst.  Seeing our baby intubated, his head cut up and beginning to swell.  He no longer looked like himself.  His eyes swollen shut.  It took about 4 days for the swelling to go down before he could open his eyes.  He still had so much fluid and pressure on his brain though.  He would try to move his arms and he started kicking his legs.  Two things I had prayed we would see again.  Five days after his surgery I was able to nurse him for the first time.  It had been a week since I had nursed him and I was anxious, scared, excited.  I didn’t know if he would know what to do or not.  But he latched on immediately and started gulping.  So much so that he started vomiting.  I was crushed but determined to get him better I asked if I could give him 1 oz bottle of the breastmilk I had been pumping.  I knew his tummy wasn’t ready for the meal he was wanting.  So over the next several hours I gave him a 1 oz bottle and he gulped it down.  After he kept down a few I decided to try nursing him again.  He nursed like a champ and kept it down!

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The next few days were filled with EEGs, Echo of his heart, bloodwork… so much bloodwork and another CT and MRI.  At this point it was a waiting game.  We wouldn’t know much until the angiogram.  Every day he looked better though.  He was nursing longer each time and even started fussing between feedings to nurse even more. My husband continued to bring Piper to me throughout the day and the other kids got to come visit me every other day.  We were lucky enough to have my mother in law, sister and mom be able to help out and stay with them at the house so my husband wasn’t packing them around all day.  He started OT and PT almost immediately and they were amazed at his daily progress.  He was slowly turning into himself again.  But the one thing I had wanted more than anything still hadn’t happened.  I needed a smile.  On day 10 he had his angiogram.  That was the longest 90 minutes of our lives.  But all was clear.  The aneurysms were GONE!   He still had a lot of blood and his ventricles were still enlarged but he didn’t need another surgery.  We were so relieved.  That meant he could really start healing.

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Two weeks after we went to the ER, twelve days after he went through surgery he smiled at me while he nursed.  He looked up at me and smiled, milk drooling out of his mouth.  It was that moment I knew everything was going to be ok.  My baby boy was back.  He hasn’t stopped smiling since.  He’s had a couple more CT scans and they show less blood and smaller ventricles each time.  He’s becoming more active and much more vocal every day.  He now knows it just takes a little fussing and I’ll nurse and snuggle him.  Today is day 20 and we are beginning to wean him off of his drain.  We have to be sure that his brain can properly reabsorb the fluid before it’s removed.  If it can’t then a shunt will have to be placed.  But considering 20 days ago our son could have died, a shunt is the least of our worries.  I never imagined as a parent I’d feel so helpless.  I never imagined something like this could happen to us.  This has turned our world upside down.  Every day I hold my breath fearing we will have a setback or they’ll tell me something else is wrong but this little man has proved everyone wrong.  He’s proved to us all what a fighter he is.  Our son is my hero.  He has given me the strength to endure things I never imagined as a parent.  This has bonded my husband and me together in a way I never knew we needed.  As much as I want to ask “Why him? Why us?”  I won’t.  It happened.  It has been a struggle but we are all still here, we are all still fighting and we will take Harvey home.  Not everyone is so lucky to leave this hospital with their baby in their arms.

How and Why to Stir the Pot

How to Stir the Pot

This is the easy part.

1. State your opinion about anything.

2. Post a photo of yourself breastfeeding. Or bottle-feeding. Or holding hands with someone of the same sex, holding hands with someone of a different race, with makeup, with no makeup, fat, skinny, with cleavage, without cleavage, eating a conventional (non-organic) apple. Or make a statement with a Democratic slant, a Republican slant, or thoughts on how to discipline children, or how to sleep with children, or how to drive, or what to do with your Tuesday afternoon–you see where I’m going with this. Opinions are something that we like to pretend we don’t care about, but we secretly care about more than anything else.

My mother-in-law told me that her local chicken Facebook group (yes, a group where people in the local neighborhood talk about raising their chickens) was split into 2 when the Admin (the Facebook group Admin who felt that this position provided him with a sort of authority over others) and a group member had a disagreement about something. I don’t know what the disagreement was. I am going to go out on a limb and say that it couldn’t have been that serious. But they are passionate about chickens and that’s cool.

I was also looking at recipes for something and I started to read the comments. I know, I know. You’re saying, “Never read the comments!” But it was a recipe so I figured I was safe and might find some fun alterations to it. Someone in the thread recommended using another type of vegetable and another person responded with something about “being judged.” My point is that you can post breastfeeding photos and the pot will be stirred, but it is not at all necessary to bare your breast. You can pretty much express yourself any way you want and you will likely agitate the subconscious of said pot.

3. All of this should be done over social media because nothing riles people up more than a little butthurt and some keyboard courage. But make sure you live your actual life with the same passion and courage for your cause or you’re just a fake, internet activist and that’s super lame. Social media is a great tool to mobilize people, but it can’t be your world. It is not the world. It’s a tool that is helping to change many things about the way like-minded people connect and “take to the streets” where real change is made.

 

Why to Stir the Pot

This is a bit more complicated, but much more interesting.

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I posted this meme (one of my first) in 2012 because in the short time I had been involved in Facebook I had heard many asinine arguments against breastfeeding, but there was one that I could not get over, still cannot get over. “I support breastfeeding, but… (as long as you cover, as long as you stop by 1 year old, as long as you don’t whip your tit out, as long as…)” and on and on with silly limitations and restrictions. I wanted to address this nonsense not only because I disagree with it, but because I know for a fact that there are women who choose not to breastfeed because of societal stigma surrounding it. Women who are perfectly informed about breastfeeding, women who have decided to bottle-feed not because it fits with their lifestyle or family situation or because breastfeeding didn’t work out or because it’s simply what they want to do, but because they want to avoid pressure and stigma from their fellow human beings surrounding breastfeeding. Even when it’s what they most want to do. That makes me mad. That is bullying. That is a sick society. I wanted to speak up for this group of women, help them to feel empowered and expose falsehoods that exist all over the breastfeeding world.

Part of me wants to laugh that breastfeeding is so controversial that it has literally opened up an entire career opportunity for myself and so many others, but then I realize that it is not funny at all. That it is in fact sick. It is symptomatic of a society that is not well. And for this reason I choose to stir the pot.

For the mother who is breastfeeding her baby, she is not making a statement, she is not putting on a show, she is not trying to get attention, she is not trying to stir the pot. However, I AM. When it’s my son and I alone want to nurse him and he wants to nurse, that is between him and me. When I post pictures on Facebook, when I write blogs, when I make memes, when I speak in public, I AM trying to stir the pot, to get a reaction, to get attention, to make a statement. And I do it because I believe that bringing attention to breastfeeding will help it become normalized. If just because people get sick of talking about it. But when my posts go viral, get seen by millions, have 3,000 comments behind them, it is clear to me that we have not yet gotten there. So here are some reasons to stir the pot:

1. To keep important issues at the front of people’s minds. It always kills me when people comment on social media with, “why are we still talking about breastfeeding?” Well, because I want to and you just did. So thanks for the comment and that much more Facebook visibility and attention to my cause! Personally I think it is a good sign when people get sick of the topic. That means it is getting so much attention that people are in the process of becoming desensitized to it. Which leads to the end goal of normalization.

2. To discover societal hang ups. I’ve posted a Nursing in Public (NIP) photo on Facebook a time or two. Reading comments on posts that went viral was a crash course in society’s views of NIP. I could then proceed to address the mass of misinformation and prejudices. If we don’t know why people have a problem with something then we can’t address it.

3. To challenge norms. There are a lot of things considered normal in our culture that are downright troubling. And things considered abnormal that are in fact normal. By pointing out flaws in thinking, strange evolutionary developments and our thoughtless behaviors we are challenging people to think about what they do.

4. To challenge authority. There are various forms of authority in our world and they are all cultural-bound. They are often perpetuating these troubling norms by threats of various kinds. This kind of authority is an illusion that we must expose.

5. To help our kids. Not only are you a role-modeling non-drone-like behavior to your children, you are teaching them to think critically. You are teaching them to challenge the world. You are teaching them to Question Everything. You change the world for the better. For the future. (And when they begin to challenge you, take it as a compliment.)

6. What are you doing here? If you’re not here to think, to challenge, to grow, to be a part of something then what are you doing? You are likely perpetuating some issue, some cause, that someone with some vision for the future is trying to make headway with. You are a drone. You are the enemy.

Am I a pot-stirrer, you ask? Yes, yes I am. I kind of like this subject. More to come…

 

Abby Theuring, MSW and Badass Pot- Stirrer

A Review and Giveaway of the Milkies Milk-Saver and Freeze

It’s no secret that a breastfeeding mother truly does cry over spilled milk. I never thought about this as it relates to leaked milk. I remember when I first heard about the idea of collecting the leaked milk directly from the breast to be used later. It’s hard to deny the brilliance. I have teamed up with Fairhaven Health to bring you this personal review of these products and to give a set away to a lucky winner! Read on and enter below!

Breastpads are great, but what if we could collect that milk that is being wasted and use it later? Some women leak as much as 4 ounces of milk per day. Depending on the age of your child that is more than one feeding! And we all know that breastmilk can be used for many other things such as skin care and a home remedy for just about any ailment. Breastmilk soaked in a shirt or pad is wasted breastmilk.

20140808_154328Ever had this problem? (The milk leakage, not the toddler left hook to the eye, although I’m sure many of you can relate to that too.)

I put the Milk-Saver and Freeze products to the test in my own home to see just how well it would actually work. It was difficult to get started because whenever I sat down my 3-year-old would have taken it somewhere while he pretended it was a glove. He loves this thing. He thinks it’s hilarious to put it on his hand and uses the carrying case for his small toys.

**Tip for use: If you have a grabby toddler keep it hidden just under your chair/couch or tucked in a magazine rack, etc. Because they will take it and hide it and laugh when you ask where it is.

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Once I was able to get my hands on the Milk-Saver I tucked it into my shirt. Make sure you put your nipple in the hole! It’s fairly subtle. It’s smooth on the front mimicking the shape of your breast inside of a bra. It seemed bulky at first, but when I actually tucked it in and looked at this photo above I do think it is quite discreet.

**Tip for use: Put it in place first then adjust your shirt for nursing. When I pulled my shirt down to nurse I found that it was a bit more difficult to slide it in because the fabric had already been stretched. When the Milk-Saver was already tucked in my shirt pulled down just fine.

A huge, major, amazing, wonderful bonus to this product is that your child can’t twiddle your other nipple! This bonus might only apply to tandem nursing moms since most of the leaking occurs early on when baby can’t really do this. However, if you have a new baby, are leaking and also nurse a giant, twiddling toddler then go ahead and add this to the list of interventions for this annoying habit!

I personally don’ leak very much and not with every feeding. However, the times I did leak I was really happy to catch the milk. It was satisfying to have this leftover breastmilk to freeze or even just hand it to my 3-year-old to gulp down in a cup; rub it on my face to help with acne; throw it into a smoothie, or on my baby’s bottom! The uses and benefits of breastmilk are endless.

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Once I have completed my nursing session I carefully pull out the Milk-Saver and set it in the travel case that doubles as a stand. Then I grab a freezer bag and dump it in.

**Tip for use: Be careful getting up so you don’t spill it getting over to the fridge.

Now comes the second product of this review. The Freeze. This is a breastmilk storage system that saves room and organizes your milk. Any person who freezes breastmilk should definitely have this. The Freeze lives in your freezer. You place your freshly collected milk in the freezer bag and place it on the metal shelf on top. This freezes the milk flat. Then you take your flat, frozen milk and slide it into the open slot on top. Your milk is automatically being saved in the order it was collected. When you need to use the frozen breastmilk you slide the bag out from the bottom slot. It will be the oldest milk; the milk you want to use first.

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**Tip for use: Even if you collect enough milk in one day to fill the Freeze then you can simply pop off the front (which easily disassembles for cleaning), pull all of the milk bags out (which are now neatly organized in the most space-saving way possible), put a rubber band around it and label the top bag with the date. It’s a hell of a lot easier than having a freezer full of misshapen bags each labeled with a different date.

I found the Milk-Saver and Freeze to be useful and I would recommend this product to breastfeeding mothers. The Milk-Saver comes with a travel case and can easily go with you. I personally would not bring it along on a shopping trip or out to dinner simply because of the steps needs to collect the milk. These are situations where I would just use a breastpad. However, a woman who leaks a lot might still find it beneficial to bring it along considering the amount she might collect in one breastfeeding session. I would definitely bring it along on longer trips away from home. Even if you don’t end up freezing the milk because you are away from your storage system you still get the benefit of protecting your shirt from a milk stain. The Milk-Saver is great for nursing when mom is in an upright position. Although you really could turn it sideways when lying down. It won’t work great for when sleeping, but let’s not get carried away. Mom needs sleep anyway. Some leaked breastmilk just comes with the breastfeeding territory. The Milk-Saver and Freeze do very well what they are advertised to do. Badass stamp of approval.

I highly recommend you check out the Milk-Saver and Freeze and the huge selection of fertility, pregnancy and breastfeeding products at Fairhaven Health!

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway below! Comment below with how leaky you are!

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Breastfeeding in the Military: The Story of a Marine Mother

By Badass Meg

I never gave breastfeeding much thought. If you did you did and if you didn’t you didn’t. I was never the one to stare or praise or run and hide because I saw boob.  I was an active duty Marine when I became pregnant with my first. I still hadn’t given it much thought when I went in for a check up and my OB asked me how I was feeding DS. My husband started explaining we hadn’t talked about it and I piped up with breastfeeding. Walking out of that appointment I asked my husband exactly how I was supposed to do that because it truly dawned on me afterwards I had no idea what I was doing; my family just didn’t do that.

Over the coming months I went to all the breastfeeding classes the base offered and thought I was prepared. Looking back now I wish I’d skipped them because they were full of nothing but bad advice and booby traps.  When DS came everything seemed to be great. My milk came in with 25 hours of birth and I was super engorged. He had a great latch and was a champ, even the LC for the hospital said it. By week 4 of my 6 weeks of maternity leave something seemed off.  He took both sides for 20 minutes each and fell asleep with a smile. He pooped and peeped all day long but still something felt off. I took him into the ped and discovered his was failure to thrive. He was a pound under birth weight. The ped sent me up to the LC but she wasn’t available to see me for a few days. I was sent home with formula and told to give him a bottle of it until I could pump some breast milk. Not knowing any better I had bought a Playtex double pump simply because it matched my bottles. By the time I went to work my son was refusing the breast even with the SNS (Supplemental Nursing System) the LC had given us and I couldn’t pump more than 10 oz in a day using the lactina the WIC office gave me.

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The first place I was given to pump was the shower area of a bathroom because it was “separated” by a curtain. There was no office or conference room I was allowed to use despite that the military and the Marine Corps had policies stating I needed a space other than a bathroom. Finally a few weeks in I was given permission to use a old supply closet that I had to share with 7 other women. It was disgusting and we weren’t allowed to clean it but I had no real other option other than the bathroom again. About 5 months into my EPing for DS my unit finally gave us permission to us a barracks room across the road. It was a dream come true for all of us or at least we thought. More times than not when we went to get the key for the room we’d have to sit and listen to men and women  talk about how we needed to knock that off because that just wasn’t what boobs were for and we were so gross and just using it to be lazy and get out of work.

I EP’d for 13 months until I finally dried up. In that time I was constantly put down and told to stop that nasty stuff.  When I asked for permission to go and pump I was frequently made to wait 4-6 hours because something “had” to be done; mostly we sat around for no reason. I developed mastitis several times due to the waiting. Later I was diagnosed with IGT and insulin resistance which would help explain why I couldn’t produce enough. I took every pill, herb, food and drink under the sun that might possibly help. I sought help outside of the base and got a better pump, all of this was out of pocket because Tricare is not required to cover pumps or LCs even for active duty.

I knew having a family in the military would never be easy, but never in my life could I have ever imagined how horrible it would be. Some of the worst people were fathers and mothers themselves. I was just trying to give my son everything I could even if we had to supplement. Thankfully my contract ended and I just gave birth recently to my DD. We’re giving breastfeeding a try and I take every day I get with her as a true blessing even if supplementing is required at some point, because sometimes that just what breastfeeding looks like.

For more support and community for breastfeeding military moms visit Breastfeeding in Combat Boots.

Ask an Expert: Breastfeeding and Dental Cavities

By Wendy Wisner, IBCLC

***Ask an Expert is a blog feature hosted by a team of International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs). Once a month each IBCLC randomly chooses a question from The Badass Breastfeeder Facebook wall and provides their response on the blog.

Fan Question:

“I have a question. My 11 month daughter has a brown speck on one of her front teeth. I have been doing some research and it may be a cavity caused by night nursing. Has anyone had this problem? I’m taking her to the dentist tomorrow I’m just curious if this happens often. Thanks!”
I’m glad you’re taking your baby to a dentist to get a proper diagnosis.  Stains on teeth can be caused by any number of things.  I hope it’s not a cavity!

If it is a cavity, the first thing to do is to make sure you have a breastfeeding-friendly dentist.  Unfortunately, many dentists believe that breastfeeding causes cavities, and recommend prompt weaning, especially at night.  But cavities should not mean automatic nightweaning.  If your dentist does not support your continuation of breastfeeding, ask your local breastfeeding support group for a dentist recommendation.

Breastfeeding in and of itself does not cause cavities.  First, unlike bottle feeding, breastmilk does not pool in a baby’s mouth all night.  Breastmilk only flows when a baby is actively sucking (and swallowing).  Breastmilk actually contains anti-cavity agents like lactoferrin, which kills the bacteria that causes cavities.  I have helped many older babies and toddler breastfeeding and the vast majority do not get cavities.

But under certain conditions and with other risk factors present, breastfeeding can contribute to the formation of cavities.  It is theorized that certain children are born with vulnerable tooth enamel.  Cavities are caused by the bacteria Strep mutans, so early exposure to these bacteria (usually when sharing utensils with a caregiver) can also increase the risk.  Studies have shown that breastmilk alone is similar to water, and does not cause decay.  However, when mixed with solid food, breastmilk becomes cariogenic (cavity causing).

So it is important to keep your baby’s teeth clean once he or she starts eating solids.  If your daughter does have decay, you will need to be vigilant about cleaning her teeth before she nurses to sleep (for night and naps).

Topical fluoride treatments can halt the decay.  Xylitol paste helps stop the growth of cavity-causing bacteria.  And there are other, more holistic treatments that are worth investigating.  Cavities can be halted, and breastfeeding can continue as normal.

Here is a great, thorough article about breastfeeding and tooth decay: http://kellymom.com/health/baby-health/tooth-decay/

And here is my personal account of nursing a toddler who had cavities: http://www.lalecheleague.org/nb/nbiss1-10p20.html

unnamedWendy Wisner is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), writer, and mother of two amazing boys.  In addition to her work with breastfeeding moms, she has published two books of poems, and a handful of articles about mothering and breastfeeding.  She blogs at www.nursememama.com.

Suckin’ Me Dry

I have shared many blog posts lately about the tough times in parenting, breastfeeding and breastfeeding a toddler. The most frequent response I get, even when talking about how weaning is not right for Jack and I just yet, is that I should wean Jack. “It’s just time. You need to wean him.” Besides how obnoxious this type of “advice” is, it’s not really the point when talking about tough times.

Why is it that I need to wean my toddler because I am overwhelmed and stressed out? If this is right for you and your family then by all means do it! But I believe this perspective is directly related to the stigma in our culture surrounding breastfeeding toddlers. It’s not something we see very often, it’s seen as optional, extra, not really necessary; so if things are not perfect for you then breastfeeding that toddler must be the problem and you should knock it off!

If there is something going on with me then shouldn’t I be focusing on me? It’s not my kids that are victimizing me and causing me to feel certain feelings. It’s me. The breastfeeding relationship is a 2-way street, yes. And my feelings are just as important as my son’s, yes. But when considering emotional health it’s not the first place to look. The first place to look is within. What is going on with me?

Jack has adjusted to the birth of his brother pretty well. Those first few weeks were a nightmare, then it got a bit better, then a bit more, and today we feel chaotic and busy and crazy, but we also have a good routine and our family unit is full of love. We have come a long way in this short time. We are in a place I feared we would never get. We are so lucky.

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But Jack has continued to struggle with sleep. Since our lives are more hectic than ever and this affects Jack in many ways we decided it was time to get some help. Something that I had been avoiding for a long time. Something that is a bit taboo in the Attachment Parenting community where we are taught that things will even out if left to their natural devices. Well, I have learned, through my breastfeeding relationship with Elxey, that sometimes people need some help. And it’s OK to ask for it. I have thought for a long time that a sleep consultant might be in order for us, but I avoided it for fear that she would reprimand us for our parenting style. “You need to get that kid out of your bed, get him into his own room.” And the ever dreaded “Wean that toddler.”

I was referred to Rebecca Michi. We have been working with her for about a month or 2 now. We have gained a ton of knowledge about how Jack’s natural temperament affects his ability to fall asleep, how the brain makes melatonin, things in our environment that affect the ability of Jack’s brain to make melatonin, tips for day and nighttime routines, tips for gently handling tough behaviors and so much more. We have good days and bad days, but when I sit quietly and look at our lives the good days are building on each other every time they circle around.

One of the unexpected things that Rebecca has provided for me personally is a place to vent. I can say anything to her and she responds with support and no judgment. She also always has some tips or thought-provoking questions. This was her most recent message to me when I expressed to her that I was having a hard time remaining calm with Jack at bedtime.

When do you get some time to yourself? What do you do for yourself? I understand if you don’t get much, you have two young kids after all! I feel that you are not taking care of you. You are on the go from the crack on dawn until late at night and caring for two people who are so dependent on you is exhausting. I want you to be able to fill your cup, when your cup is full you are able to help everyone more. When your cup is empty you are running on empty and having nothing to give. So what do you do to fill your cup? What can you do to fill our cup? Going for a walk without the kids? Going to the gym (ugh!)? Painting class once a week? A quick coffee date with a friend at the weekend? Think of some ways you can fill our cup and give you some much needed time. 

My initial reaction was that it was true, but what am I supposed to do about it? A few seconds later I was literally having a panic attack. This. This was the answer to everything right now. Where am I in all of this? I am barely treading water. I have given up showers, eating, peeing, getting dressed, combing my hair; not to mention reading, sitting quietly, writing for enjoyment, hot baths, listening to music and other things that fill my cup. It seems that we moms are always putting ourselves last. My husband says, “You have to remember that thing about the oxygen masks on airplanes. Put yours on first and then help those around you.”

So where could I find time for me? What would I do with that time? Would I even know myself well enough anymore to be able to plan something? Holy shit, someone was actually asking about me! I started to feel excited. I mean, I like me! How cool would it be to spend time with her?! Less than a day later I am here, by myself, at a local café, writing this blog post. I am writing it for me. I am writing it so that I can process my feelings about this. I am writing this so that I can rediscover who I am, how I got so far away from me and how I can rekindle this romance with myself.

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I was going to put a picture here of me alone, but turns out there aren’t any. Anywhere. 

There is a belief in the extremist AP community (in which I spent most of my early motherhood) that you shouldn’t spend time away from your kids and if you do you should at least hate it. I remember when Jack was very young I couldn’t imagine being away from him. Noe of my friends ever left their kids. I read all sorts of posts about how balance means something new now. “Free time is family time.” I left him for short periods of time a couple of times when I absolutely had to like to meet with HR to quit my job. Besides that I never left him. Ever. I believed that self-care now had to involve him; involve the whole family. I felt I wasn’t truly AP if I ever left him to be alone. That would be selfish. I think I am starting to believe that self-care isn’t truly self-care unless you are alone. Or maybe what I believe even more than that is that self-care looks different for each mother. And only she herself can decide what that is. Which is why Rebecca was asking me how I can fill my cup.

For me, self-care is fully disengaging from my family for a period of time to recharge my batteries, center my thinking and stimulate myself in a very different way than I am stimulated most of the time. I’ve spent 3 years now identifying myself as, “mother, blogger, social worker, advocate, public speaker” that I forgot to identify myself as Abby. Abby Theuring. Abigail Teresa Theuring. Individual. Fucking ME.

What do I like? Green Day. Loud music. Punk Rock. Heavy Metal. Books. Writing. Walking Fast. Magazines. Hot Bubble Baths. The Bachelor. Crocheting. Painting. Laughing With Friends. Photography. Talking Loud. Crossword Puzzles. Shopping. Eating. And so much more that I have let slip away since Jack was born. This is ME!

Turns out this really has nothing to do with breastfeeding.

Oh, what a tangled web this parenting stuff turned out to be.

Abby Theuring, MSW

 

 

Ask an Expert: Relactation

***Ask an Expert is a blog feature hosted by a team of International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs). Once a month each IBCLC randomly chooses a question from The Badass Breastfeeder Facebook wall and provides their response on the blog.

By Anne Smith, IBCLC

Fan Question:

“I am currently trying to relactate. I work full time Monday thru Friday from 8-5, and my job doesn’t allow me much time to pump. I hand express whenever I can, and then I try to latch her on as soon as I get home. The problem is that she gets really mad when not much milk comes out and she keeps pulling off the breast. I’m getting very discouraged. What else can I do?”

You don’t say how old your baby is, or why you’re trying to relactate, so it’s difficult to give you any specific advice, but here is some general information that may be helpful.
The younger your baby, the easier it will be to re-establish your milk supply and get her to start nursing again. Mother’s estrogen levels drop quickly after birth, and the time babies are a few weeks old, hormone levels have dropped down close to where they were before pregnancy.
Breast milk is produced by sucking stimulation and supply and demand. The more often you nurse or pump, the more milk you will make.  If you aren’t able to pump for a nine hour stretch while you’re at work, your milk production will slow down significantly. Hand expressing milk won’t give you the same stimulation as a double electric pump, so it’s not surprising that you haven’t been able to build your supply enough to get your baby to take the breast again.
Most babies younger than three months can be convinced to go back to the breast, especially if their attempts to suckle are promptly rewarded.  Many babies will get frustrated when you put them to the breast and little or no milk is coming out, so they will pull off the breast instead of staying on for long enough to stimulate your breasts to produce more milk.
Using a tube feeding device may help by ensuring that the baby’s sucking efforts are rewarded.  Many babies will accept the supplemental feeding systems because they are receiving a steady flow of milk with each suck, much as they would with a bottle.
Babies between three and six months may or may not be willing to nurse, depending on their individual personalities.  Babies older than six months are often set in their ways, and it may be difficult to them to accept the breast at all.
Taking Fenugreek may help increase your milk supply, but it’s doubtful that it will be enough to make a big difference in your situation. There are some prescription medications that can boost milk production, but they are used only after increased nursing and/or pumping has been tried, which is not the case here.
These are general guidelines for relactating, and individual responses will vary. It’s important to remember that you can have very close and rewarding nursing relationship with your baby, regardless of how much milk you produce and whether you feed it by breast or bottle.

Anne Smith, IBCLCAnne has been helping moms reach their breastfeeding goals for over 35 years, as a La Leche League and an IBCLC in private practice since 1990. Breastfeeding six children gives her a unique combination of first hand experience as well as professional expertise. In 1999, she started her website,www.breastfeedingbasics.com, with lots of information on breastfeeding and parenting, and a wonderful group of bloggers, including Abby from The Badass Breastfeeder, Rachelle from Unlatched, and Marie from Anarchy in the Sandbox.

Join the more than six millions of moms who come to Breastfeeding Basics each year for information and support, and visit Anne on Facebook.

How the Mighty Have Fallen: AP in the Air Force

By Suzanne Adams

Well, where do I start?  I guess we can start at the beginning of being in the military.  It wasn’t something I had ever thought I would do but I wanted something stable, something long-term.  I had gone to college but didn’t have a degree so my options of a decent job were limited.  So I decided to join the Air Force and get some education and training.  I chose a job that is very difficult to qualify for.  I spent the first two years of my Air Force career in training and my first duty assignment was in South Korea.  Unlike many overseas assignments, I was unable to bring my husband with me without applying for command sponsorship.  He could have come and we could have paid out of pocket, but we have pets and he had a good job.  Being an airman right out of tech school, we didn’t think we were going to get approved so we had planned to spend that year apart.  We figured we had already waited that long (4 years) to start a family, what’s one more year?

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Luckily, I got approved a few months after I arrived.  My husband joined me here on Christmas Eve.  We were ecstatic and since we knew we were going to be here for a while, decided to start trying for a family.  We tried twice.  It worked!  I made jokes about being pregnant and little did I know I actually was!  Fast forward to September 16, 2013.  I’d had a relatively easy pregnancy.  No morning sickness, no complications.  The only thing that the doctors were ever concerned about was my weight (I gained about 50lbs) and that my blood pressure was always high.  I went into labor on the 16th at around 5:30am.  That was when I had my first contraction.  I was admitted to the hospital around 2pm when my contractions were about 2 minutes apart.  The doctor checked my cervix and I was 10cm dilated.  He told me, “Good news, you’re ten cm dilated”.  I looked at him and asked what the bad news was and his answer was, “You’re not getting an epidural”.  I was fine with that because I had wanted a drug-free birth.  Besides, I was already 10cm dilated so the baby was practically about to fall out, right?  Wrong.  At 5:30pm, my son had only progressed from -1 station to 0 station.  The doctor was able to feel that every time I pushed (I had an epidural about 2 hours in), the baby’s head was hitting my pelvic bone.  There was meconium in the water and his heart rate jumped up to almost 200.  We discussed it and it was decided that a C-section was the way to go.  I was devastated.  I’d had all these hopes and dreams about how labor and delivery was going to be.  I was going to push and the baby was going to come out and I was going to hold him and we would start our breastfeeding journey and everything would be rainbows and butterflies and harp music.  HA!  That’s about the furthest from what happened.  I had to have a T-incision (bye-bye VBAC!!).  My son had a bruise on his head from me pushing.  I didn’t see him for almost 2 hours after he was delivered.  I got wheeled into the room and the doctor says, “OK, he’s hungry, feed him!”  Because breastfeeding is easy, right?  Especially after giving birth.  I tried for at least an hour to get my son to latch.  My bra size was a 36G.  My boob was literally larger than his head (it still is!).  I also apparently had flat nipples.  I called nurse after nurse to help.  My husband was trying to help.  The lactation consultant was not in the country.  After him screaming and my failed attempts at getting him to latch for two hours, I gave in and gave him formula.  I have never cried so hard in my life (I’m actually crying as I write this).  Not only did I fail at giving birth, I failed at breastfeeding.  What kind of woman was I?!  These are the things that are supposed to come naturally to us.  How was I going to raise this baby if I couldn’t even bring him into the world or feed him properly??  What no one told me is that all of this is HARD WORK.

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I stayed in the hospital for 4 days and went home on a Thursday night.  On the way home, I started texting a lactation consultant at our base (I gave birth at a different base than the one I was stationed at, about an hour away).  She said to me, “Please let me come over tomorrow and help”.  I agreed and she came over the next day around lunchtime.  After a few hours, we found that I needed to do either the football hold or the cross-cradle hold and that I was going to use a nipple shield to try to draw my nipple out.  He’d been using a bottle for a few days anyway so he was used to the silicone.  She also “diagnosed” him with the baby equivalent of PTSD.  It had been a rough birth and a rough few days.  When we were at the hospital, every time they took him, they did something to him.  Whether it be an exam, bloodwork, whatever.  Every time he woke up, he freaked out and would scream and flail because he was expecting someone to hurt him.  His eyebrows were constantly furrowed and he always looked mad.  Trying to calm him down was impossible.  Trying to get him to latch during one of his freak-outs was also impossible.  We eventually got a routine down.  By routine, I mean I sat on the couch topless for a week and nursed him on demand.  He eventually started to calm down.  That’s when my little angry baby started to disappear.  He started to relax with me and my husband and I could see his already stubborn little personality start to form.

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I had to go back to work at 6 weeks and that’s when (in my eyes), the real test began.  I had to start pumping.  Oh, I hate pumping so much.  It’s time consuming, it’s boring, it’s more painful than breastfeeding.  There are regulations that protect me and my right to pump.  That being said, it took some explaining.  Many of the people that I work with are young, single men with no children.  I tried to be as subtle as I could: “I’ll be back in a little bit” or “I need to go take care of stuff”.  Without fail, they always asked what I was doing, where I was going, when I would be back.  Explaining pumping became the highlight of my day.  For whatever reason, they always got grossed out when I talked about it.  After a month or so, people stopped asking questions.  So I fell into the routine of pumping every few hours at work, bringing home the milk and nursing on demand when I was home.  I tried a few times to wean him from the nipple shield but it never really worked out.  Nipple confusion had long since set in.  It was more important to me that he be able to take a bottle of pumped milk while I was working, so I never pushed the issue.  He just turned one year old and we are still going strong.  He doesn’t really like to nurse during the day, but that’s understandable.  It’s him and daddy time during the day, while I am at work.  My days off are almost like an inconvenience to him, lol.  I disrupt their routine.  Night time though… That’s another story.  Once it hits a certain time of day, he’s allllllll momma’s boy.  Some people at work have asked when I plan to wean and my answer is always, “When he’s ready”.  When I was pregnant, I had all the ideas about how I was going to raise my baby.  I had a friend who did attachment parenting, nursing on demand, bed sharing.  I thought she was out of her mind.  “No way is my baby going to sleep in bed with me.  He’s going to be in his own bed, in his own room.  He’s going to be on a sleep schedule and I’m going to let him cry it out.  He’s going to have to learn one day.” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  Oh, how the mighty have fallen.  I now do all of the above.  The only thing that we never got into was baby wearing.  He’s been active from the beginning and likes to explore.  I tried a few different carriers and he will only let me use them for short periods of time.  Anyway, thanks for listening.  Being in the military and a breastfeeding mom is such a challenge but I wouldn’t change a bit of it.  I always likened having a newborn to basic training: you get no sleep and when you are awake, someone is always yelling at you.

Breastfeeding While on Active Duty Marine Corps

By Badass Cara

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I breastfed my daughter while on active duty Marine Corps, actually working as a recruiter which yields 80-120 hour work weeks.

During my brief 6 weeks home with her she was exclusively breastfed and when I returned to work I had no choice with the long hours to give her bottles. I used to BF her on one side and pump the other side so my body would get used to making extra so she would never run out. I had my pump in my government vehicle with me, I had plugs, batteries and vehicle plugs. I pumped in subways, cars, high school teacher lounges, my work, and once in the woods parked!

My daughter stopped acknowledging that my breasts had food in them around 6-7 months and started biting me because she did that with her bottle to get it to flow faster. I continued to pump for her every 3 hours, waking up in the night even when she wasn’t awake just to make extra.

Now, at work was an interesting story. Id have some higher ranking men comment on how much they respected me, some rolled their eyes that I got to take “breaks,” while others were downright unprofessional and sexist calling it “operation yoo-hoo.”

When I stopped pumping I had 3 months extra to continue giving her.

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