Tag Archives: breastfeeding

2009 in Review

It’s been a busy year in our household! Here are a few of the highlights:

January: I had just graduated from graduate school and was enjoying doing nothing but being pregnant. About halfway through the month I learned my delivery plans were going to change pretty drastically. My grandfather passed away after a long battle with cancer; his funeral happened while I prepped for my c-section.

February: At the beginning of the month we welcomed Menininho. It was a complicated post-delivery, one that I hope to never repeat. We moved to California and I made my first silly new mom mistake.

March: I learned of the losses of two Marfan friends. Menininho was blessed and formally given a name. Our family came to visit. Mark was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

April: A pretty boring month, but I did blog about some of my baby “must haves”.

May: We started using cloth diapers and won’t go back! Mark officially graduated with his MS. I also had the stress test that started a chain of events.

June: Mark and I celebrated our 2 year wedding anniversary. I also started a series of posts about my life with Marfan.

July: My Life With Marfan posts continued and I prepared for the annual National Marfan Foundation conference.

August: Menininho and I flew solo to visit my mom and sister. I finished up the series and went to my 4th conference, where besides working with the teens I was also one of the closing speakers.

September: My cardiologist discovered a problem with my heart and I decided to wean Menininho early in order to start a new medication. A few weeks later Mark was diagnosed with Celiac disease.

October: We had a mishap at the pumpkin patch, and then better success. I moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress.

November: I relived some childhood memories with MamaKat’s Writers’ Workshop and we got to spend Thanksgiving in Ohio, seeing all of my and Mark’s extended families.

December: The inner breastfeeding advocate in me wrote a post about a woman’s right to breastfeed and the inner patient advocate in me wrote a post about being an empowered patient. We bought a tree, spent too much time in the ER and had a failed Christmas tradition.

I want to thank all of you who read my blog, who give me feedback. I am humbled that you take time from your day to read what I have to write. I look forward to getting to know more of you and your writings in 2010!

~ Maya

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The Breastfeeding Doll

This article topic comes by way of Her Bad Mother, posting at the Bad Moms Club blog.

HBM writes about a doll (not sold in the U.S.) called Bebe Gloten. She’s much more articulate than I could be, so I urge you to read her original article. Anyway, this doll is electronic, not unlike many of the dolls in the U.S., and it comes with a halter for the child to wear. This halter shirt has two flowers over where the child’s nipples are, and the baby “nurses” from those flowers.

The Huffington Post made a snarky comment about said doll, basically saying girls shouldn’t play breastfeed unless they’re old enough to breastfeed and that this doll is inappropriate.

My first thought was that having a doll dedicated to being breastfed, one that sucked on FLOWERS, was kind of weird. It was the flowers that got me, I don’t know why (maybe the idea of a breastfeeding prop?). But then I realized a breastfeeding baby doll is no more weird than the baby dolls that come with bottles: that is to say, not weird at all.

Children play pretend based on what they know. It’s natural for children who observe their mothers breastfeeding to play breastfeed their “babies”, just as children who see their parents “wearing” their babies may also want to wear their dolls, or children who go grocery shopping want to have a little play cart of their own. Playing pretend is how children learn about their world. In fact, my mother told me last night how I “breastfed” all of my dolls when I was little.

I do NOT disparage women who formula feed. I do myself. But I believe that women should be afforded every opportunity to breastfeed by receiving correct information and support so that they feel the choice to breastfeed is more open to them. And it frustrates me that people would find a doll that breastfeeds to be inappropriate or sexual, because breastfeeding is neither of those. Why not encourage girls from a young age that breastfeeding is great and normal? I doubt that bottle “feeding” a doll discourages girls from breastfeeding later in life, but my hypothesis is that girls who “breastfeed” their dolls are more likely to breastfeed, or at least attempt to breastfeed, when they have their own children.

So no, I won’t have an issue if Menininho nurses dolls (it’s not just girls who play pretend, after all!).

I’ll be proud.

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Breastfeeding: Targeted

In case you haven’t heard, Twitter has been abuzz this week with the story of a woman and her family removed from a Michigan Target store because the woman was breastfeeding. Basically, Mrs. Martinez was nursing her baby in the electronics section, which was (according to her) not crowded at the time. An employee informed her that it was illegal to nurse in the store. Her husband, a police officer, explained this was not the case (in Michigan it’s legal to nurse anywhere that it’s legal for a woman to be). The police were called, the family escorted from the store. Target has since reiterated that breastfeeding is allowed in their stores.

At first, this is frustrating to me because it seems really over the top. Calling the police? I mean, c’mon! Employees need to be briefed better on breastfeeding policy, or at least be a little gentler with customers. You aren’t going to earn repeat customers by throwing out a family for doing something that didn’t even bring about any complaints from other customers.

But at second glace, I have been blown over by the really angry, disgusted comments from people over this story. They weren’t geared towards Target; they were aimed at the MOTHER. This has really struck a nerve of mine, so I want to take a minute to comment back on some of the themes I observed.

1) The woman should have just covered up. No one wants to see breasts.
This makes the interesting assumption that the mother WASN’T covered up. The article doesn’t say either way. Why do women automatically assume that a breastfeeding woman is “flaunting” her breasts or the act of breastfeeding? I’m not going to get into the debate about whether women should cover up or not cover up when nursing their children, but in all the women I’ve known who have breastfed or whom I have seen breastfeeding, none of them ever tried to make a big deal out of the act. In fact, they all tried to be discreet, whether that was using a nursing cover like a Hooter Hider or just slipping their child’s head under their shirt. I also think using a nursing cover is less discreet because it screams HEY EVERYONE I AM NURSING A BABY UNDER HERE!
2) The woman should have nursed in a bathroom, her car, or used a bottle.
Um, do you know what happens in a bathroom? Would you want to take your lunch, sit down on a toilet, and eat with all those smells, sounds, and germs? No? Then why should my child? I’ve nursed in a car frequently, but only when it was warm and convenient (I never left a store mid-trip to go nurse in the car). In Mrs. Martinez’s case, this was Michigan in November…never mind the hassle: it’s COLD out there! I had a couple issues with people being uncomfortable with my (covered) breastfeeding during the time I nursed Menininho, but the worst was this summer, when I was COVERED in my CAR. The man who pulled up in the car next to me was so…interested…that I actually felt threatened. Had my mother not been with me to drive us to another part of the parking lot I would have called security. And bottles definitely have their place, and if people prefer to use them, great! I had times where I pumped, particularly if I was going to be eating at a restaurant when my son would be hungry. But, bottles and breastfeeding aren’t the same and some babies don’t take even bottles. No woman should feel forced to bottle feed.
3) Breastfeeding makes other people uncomfortable, so it shouldn’t be done in public.
I have a couple of responses to this. First, people in the US (breastfeeding is not as controversial in other countries) are never going get over having issues with breastfeeding if we all go hide in the bathroom. Breastfeeding moms need to be willing to stand up for their rights, be visible, and show the world that breastfeeding is not gross or shameful. I’m not saying we all need to go topless or make a big deal out of it, but we need to be comfortable enough to breastfeed wherever is comfortable for us and our child, whether that’s in your car, on the bench outside Macy’s, or using a sling to nurse while walking through the grocery store. Second, being uncomfortable is part of life. Hate to break it to you, but the world is not always going to acquiesce just because you don’t like something. People who use crass language, pick their nose in public, smell like cigarette smoke, or dress like hookers make me uncomfortable, but unless it’s extremely out of hand I don’t say anything because other people have the right to exist. Which brings me to my last point: if you don’t like to see a woman nursing her baby, LOOK AWAY.
4) Think of the children. They shouldn’t have to see this/their parents shouldn’t have to explain this to them before they’re ready.
I gotta be honest: I don’t really get this one. I would imagine not too many kids would even notice this taking place for one, and if they did ask about it, not require a long explanation. “That woman is feeding her baby,” should suffice, with “breasts are for making milk to feed babies” for the really inquisitive. I don’t see either of those statements as being controversial or scarring. And, are the same parents upset that their child might see a flash of breast from nursing also removing any actual sexual images from their child’s view? It doesn’t make sense to me that breastfeeding would be inappropriate but Lara Croft, the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, or any of the many over-sexualized women in movies would be totally ok viewing.

Anyway, that’s my two cents. I welcome any discussion in the comments, but PLEASE keep it respectful.

And, don’t forget to enter my Little Ones giveaway!

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End of an Era

Anyone who knows me well (or at least reads my Facebook page) knows that I am a huge proponent of breastfeeding. I think everyone should give breastfeeding a try. I think it’s a travesty that our country’s healthcare system is not more breastfeeding-friendly. Women consistently get incorrect information about feeding their babies, if they get any information at all. I’ve seriously considered becoming a lactation consultant, although not right now because I’ve come across a different, very cool, project, which I’ll post about later. (I’m all about re-inventing myself, a la Madonna, except without all her trashiness.)

Anyway, I’ve had a lot of discussions with classmates and friends about reasons to breastfeed and the mechanics of it, but I don’t think we as a breastfeeding community talk about the end of breastfeeding very well, and that’s unfortunate. After making it through 6 months of exclusively breastfeeding Menininho I just assumed I’d go at least another 6, and that at some point after then he would just gradually prefer solids over milk and one day he’d quit taking the breast totally and that would be that. Back in May I read one of blogger Cjane’s posts (Mammorial Day, Part 2), where she described breastfeeding her son one night and feeling impressed that that was the last time she’d nurse him and that she’d better enjoy it. I cried when I finished the post. I couldn’t imagine knowing ahead of time when I’d wean my baby. Heck, I couldn’t imagine weaning my baby.

About a month ago I got an email from my cardiologist. Based on the results of a host of tests I’ve had run (you might remember the stress test I blogged about), he recommended I get on a drug that is currently being tested in Marfan syndrome patients. My doctor couldn’t promise that it would work for me, but case studies have shown it to be promising and it’s possible that it could even heal some of the problems with my heart, not just halt the progression. The only caveat is that in order to start taking this medication I would have to stop breastfeeding Menininho.

I was really torn over what to do, and I admit, part of me was nervous about what people would think or say when they saw me giving Menininho a bottle. Would they judge me with their little frownsmiles (you know what I’m talking about!)?   Would my baby still love me?  Would moving him to formula cause some mysterious kind of damage down the road that I couldn’t yet anticipate?  I didn’t feel like I had many people to discuss this with except, of course, my husband, who has always been incredibly supportive of me breastfeeding.

In the end though, I knew what I had to do.  Menininho is not going to remember whether I breastfed him, but he will remember whether I had enough energy to play with him. I owe it to him and any potential future children to see if this medication will work for me (please pray that it does!).

So Wed. night I nursed Menininho for the last time. It was so hard. I cried the entire time. I think he sensed it was his last time because he nursed for a lot longer than usual. For a brief moment I again questioned my decision. But in the end, I felt really good about it. We had a bit of a rough start with the formula but now Menininho gets excited to see me coming with the bottle and he can, and prefers to, feed himself.

I will NOT miss the weaning process. This may just be because I weaned him relatively quickly, but the past few weeks have felt like the first trimester of pregnancy all over again (minus the nausea). I’ve heard it will go away in a week or two.

As moms, we’re hard on ourselves about a lot of things. Whether or not we want to admit it, we’re hard on each other about a lot of things. Let’s not let breastfeeding be one of them. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not going to give up on educating women about breastfeeding, because I believe that in most situations breast is best, but at the end of the day happy moms = happy babies = happy families, and that is way more important. We should all embrace the decisions we make.

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Of “Fun” Flights and Other Things

I have been terrible about keeping up on my posts recently. I blame it on conference! I finally have my speech written though, and I think everything is ready to go for the teen program so I can almost sit back and relax (I will after I finish some fundraising stuff for our local chapter, later this afternoon).

Right now I’m blogging live from Madison, WI. I think it looks a lot like Ohio, except that everyone here exercises and spends lots of time outdoors. I don’t think I was ever so glad to be off an airplane as I was yesterday! Mark found that if I flew out of and into non-local airports we could save some money and also get me a non-stop flight. This seemed like a great idea, since although this was going to be Menininho’s 4th flight, it was my first time traveling alone with him.

We made it through the airport easily (thanks to Mark helping me with the luggage) and quickly. TSA sure doesn’t make it easy to get an infant through security alone (dismantling the stroller/carseat contraption is tricky one handed; teething babies can and will eat your boarding pass!), but there was a very nice lady behind me who helped me, and a great TSA agent who made sure the stroller was OK. Thank you, thank you!!! They made my morning a lot easier 🙂

Now, I’d read a lot of articles, recent articles, about traveling with ‘infants in lap” and they all suggest asking the airline agent if there are spare seats so that the child’s car seat can be brought along. I have, in fact, asked this before on other flights and had there ever been empty seats, we would have been accommodated. So, I waited patiently at the desk for the gate agent to arrived, asked her how she was doing, explained my situation, and asked if there were any empty seats. Our conversation went as follows:

Agent: Oh sure, we have quite a few empty seats on this flight. Let me see your ticket. Oh! Well, you’ve been assigned to the row before the exit row, so we have to move you. [Apparently babies aren’t allowed to be within a row of an exit row…who knew?]
Me: Well, great! Could you just switch me to a row with an already empty seat then, so I can bring the car seat?
Agent: No. The stewardesses won’t like it if they see that.
Me: Huh? I don’t understand. There are empty seats on the plane. I already have to move. People bring car seats on the plane all the time. Please, I’d really appreciate it if you could allow me to move to a row that already has an empty seat.
Agent: You should have thought about that before. You should have bought a ticket for the baby. There are lots of empty seats, but I’m not going to let you use one. Lap babies should have to stay on your lap.

CLEARLY this woman has never traveled alone with a teething 6 month old.

So, not only was I not allowed to bring the car seat on board or even just swap to a row with an already empty seat, I was put in the MIDDLE seat of two random MEN. I asked if I could at least have an aisle seat because I was going to be getting up frequently and also I have crazy long legs, but apparently seats were assigned ahead of time (I blame this on Orbtiz, which Mark said did not allow him to select a seat), and middle seats were the only ones left.

I really wish the agent had been made to sit next to me. I felt really bad for the two guys. I could tell the older man was put off by me breast feeding (I was wearing my snazzy cover, so it’s not like he could see anything) but Menininho had to eat, and I had to change his diaper twice during the flight. I needed to walk around more than that, but the man made SUCH a production out of letting me out to change the diaper that I didn’t dare trying walking Menininho around the plane. [This might be unpopular, but I’m going to say it. I feel like aisle seats should go first to those with kids, the pregnant, those with medical issues, and the really long-legged. Short, healthy, single people shouldn’t use them up!]

Anyhow, Menininho cried for at least half of the 4 hour flight. I tried everything to make him feel better, but he had a hard time going to sleep, even in his sling. I felt bad for him too 😦 I was really grateful to the man on the other side of me though. He was closer to my age and told me he had a 9 month old daughter at home. He entertained Menininho with funny faces for a little bit and even let him pull on his jersey.

Mom flew into the same airport at the same time, coming from helping Matt get settled in New Orleans, so she was able to meet Menininho and me at the gate. We are SOOOOO happy to be visiting her and Gabriella!

Tomorrow’s mission: Buy a new nursing bra. This is going to border on TMI, but I wish someone had told me. Do NOT buy a “low cut” nursing bra, no matter how cute it may make look at the store. Also, do not fly when wearing a new bra for the first time, before you’ve had a chance to try it out. When you’re wearing that low cut bra and it’s feeding time, all of a sudden you won’t be in that bra anymore if you know what I mean, and it’s reeeeaaally awkward.

In the next few days: Post about playgroup and the last in the My Life With Marfan series

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Not Playtime!

My dear son,

Please first know that I am happy to feed you whenever you are hungry.  I really am.  And I hesitate to bring this up because I know Daddy and I are pretty lucky to be getting as much sleep as we are.  But lately, Little One, you’ve started doing something that’s just not cool.  You’re getting up for your early-morning feeding (5-6 am) and, while you used to be hungry, now you eat for 2-4 minutes (yes, I time you) and then stop.  You give me a big grin and proceed to entertain yourself by smiling, slapping my breast repeatedly, and turning your head whenever I try to continue feeding you.  This isn’t cute, just really messy.  While I’m flattered that you think Daddy and me are just so much fun that you want to play with us all the time, we actually really love our sleep and believe we’re more fun when we have it.  If you could save playtime for a few more hours, that’d be great.
Love,
Mommy
To my fellow Mommies in the blogosphere: Any advice?  Is this just a stage babies go through or is there a way to get him to either go back to eating or sleep?

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A Perfect Valentine’s Day

Mark and I have been blessed to have many friends and family members stop by since Menininho was born. Since we have a full day of Cleveland friends tomorrow, we decided to try to celebrate Valentine’s Day today. I think this was the best Valentine’s Day I have ever had 🙂

Mark woke me up at 7:30 with breakfast in bed. Now, this is HUGE. I have always wanted breakfast in bed (I guess b/c when my siblings and I were little we used to do that for our mom for special occasions and so in my mind it became an expression of love). My husband is a much tidier person than I, however, and thinks food in bed is unsanitary. I was really impressed that he was willing to break his rule for me today. However, not only did Mark get me breakfast in bed, but he snuck out of the apartment while I was asleep, drove to Bob Evans, and bought a half dozen of their biscuits (which I love). Awwww! 🙂 As soon as we started to eat though, the baby began to fuss and Mark realized Oliver had somehow climbed into bed with us (no idea how the cat got in through a closed door). In that moment of slight chaos I realized that 1) my life is now forever changed and 2) this is exactly the life I want to be living.

Later that morning, we got the good news at the pediatrician that Menininho has gained enough weight that I can continue to breastfeed. He’s now back up to his birth weight of 7 lbs even. Hooray!

Mark spent most of the afternoon napping. I’m on a host of new medications just between the c-section and my delivery-induced hypertension and they’ve really knocked me on my rear end. I’m so exhausted from them that it’s hard to function, so my dear husband has been up with Menininho a lot at night so I have the energy to care for him during the day while Mark is working. I was grateful Mark could take today off work to sleep! While he slept, my Uncle Alex, Aunt Chris, brother Matt, and his girlfriend Deanna all came to visit Menininho and me.

Menininho took a nap right around dinner time, which meant Mark and I were able to enjoy a romantic meal of Wendy’s and watch 2 episodes of M.A.S.H. Perfect! And, both of us were well-rested enough (as well-rested as 2 new parents can be) to be able to really sit down and enjoy playing with Menininho afterwards.

Today was certainly different from Valentine’s Days in the past, where Mark and I would dress up and go out to Little Italy for dinner. However, I wouldn’t trade today for anything. Sitting on the couch next to my husband, watching him bounce our son in his arms, I was overcome with gratitude. Ever since I was young I’ve wanted to be married and have a family. And, while I am sleep deprived and a little stressed, I am so very, very grateful to be part of an eternal family: married to a man who is good, kind, generous, and always striving to be a better person and now with a beautiful baby boy for us to raise and love.

🙂

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