Salt Lake City Based Photographer Timbra Wiist owns/operates Landslide Photography & Photographs the Journey of Motherhood (see bottom of page or sidebar for more info. . .depending on what this blog is choosing to do for the day).

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ho Hum EXTRA-Ordinary

Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is things we’d like to share with our nurslings about what it means for us to breastfeed. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st!

If you could tell your little one just one extraordinary or ordinary thing about what it means for you to nurse, what would you share?

ONE THING? You want me to share just ONE THING? Here, how about some "short" letters to my girls.

Oh my sweet daughters, I write you letters all the time. I do not know that you will ever understand all the sweetness that I hold in my arms each night as you drift off to sleep. One in my right arm, the other in my left. One of your nursing, the other cuddling me.

Alani, you are my first daughter. You taught me how to be a mother. . . you taught me that who I was, is not who I would always be. I nursed you, because I always knew that I would. What I did not know is that through nursing you, through holding you tightly, close to me for SO many hours of each day, that I would fall so in love, with you, with ALL OF IT. With watching your tiny body grow into a big chunky baby, knowing that your life was sustained by what my body gave you. Knowing that my body was doing exactly what it was meant to do as a mother. And you grew, fat and beautiful, like a little dollop of frosting! You needed me, and you continue to need me in different ways. And because we shared this special bond, this special part of our relationship, I have learned who you are. Like me in many ways, but SO different too. You want me to hold you close, but at the same time let you go. . .and we will learn how to dance that dance a little differently each day!

Airi, you are my second daughter. You taught me that with more children comes exponentially more love. You have taught me that I can make it through tough times, that sometimes I need a break more than I know. . .but you know. . . and you remind me when it is time to just sit, quietly, and do nothing, but nurse you, and hold you, and stop worrying about all that pesky clutter! You've taught me that there are more important things, like holding a sleeping baby. You too have grown beautifully on only your mama's milk, for more months than your sister even. I love your rubberband wrists and your baby cankles, two chins ARE better than one! At almost a year old, I still find you quite a mystery, because you are SO very different from your sister. But together we are figuring one another out, and I know that our relationship will be a beautiful lifetime of learning from one another.

Thank you my daughters for giving me the gift of being your mommy and making my job sort of easy by loving to just nurse and nurse and nurse and eat and eat and eat and pretty much be happy as long as you are next to my exposed chest :) You are making my life EXTRAordinary every day, by sharing with me in this breastfeeding journey that is just such a ho-hum ordinary part of our every day lives! A non-decision in it's simplest form.  
 Here are more posts by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Every-WEAR we go. . .

Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is Wordless Wednesday: Babywearing Photos! Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st!

July 06. . . 4 weeks old. . .Fiji Oct 06. . . first Trip to the US. . . 4 monthsJune 07 (My sister carrying my daughter, day after her first birthday). . . Gardner Village July 07. . . Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Book Release PartyMarch 08 FINALLY got my mei tai. . .21 months Tried it out in OK
July 08. . . 25 months. . . Steve Miller Band Concert (awesome to be wearing her especially after dark) November 08. . . .UH YEAH. . .NKOTB concert November 08 Seattle. . . Just shy of 2.5 years. . . totally asleep
There was pregnant baby wearing in between
September 09 . . . . 4 weeks old. . .my view of a nursing babe in a mei tai at the Zoo same trip. . . Who says the Moby has a suggested weight limit? October 09. . . 3 years 3 months and 34lbs Special Ladybug Mei Tai made by my friend Heather . . . custom for my halloween costume January 10. . . .Water "moby" January 10. . . Two Girls. . . two mei tais. . . 50lbs of pure L-O-V-E (3.5 years and 5months) And the babywearing rubs off. . .

Here are more posts by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Wearing her everywhere

Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about babywearing. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st! 

I started "babywearing" and not knowing that it was called that, when my first daughter was just a couple of weeks old. I only had a baby bjorn and wasn't knowledgeable about ANY baby wearing at all, later I learned that this type of carrier is not ideal for little ones under 6 months. I also had a commercial sling. I thought this would be a DREAM for wearing and nursing her, but alas, I tried to put her in this at only days old and she cried, I tried at other intervals and crying only ensued, so it was upright carrying for us.

Soon I was wearing her in that bjorn everywhere, even to go to the bathroom when she wouldn't let me put her down without crying, and it was a dream come true. Generally my baby girl liked to just sit with me, looking at me, but we lived in a culture where much walking was required and so into the bjorn she went.

My baby girl grew fast. I wore her in that bjorn well past when it was comfortable for me to do so. A friend suggested a mei tai and a woman online who made them. So I contacted this lady when my little one was about 10 months old. All sorts of drama and ridiculousness, it literally took 11 months to get to me. . . .I can't believe I toughed it out that long. And I won't go into the whole story as to why this woman had trouble after trouble that delayed the making and then the shipping. But. . . . my wonderful mei tai finally arrived when my little one was 21 months old. I can't remember now if I had been using other carriers, maybe a "moby" style wrap. I have several and can't remember the timeline now.

I know that I wore her in that bjorn frequently until at least her 1st birthday, and that at different times for the next 6 months or so, definitely in airports everywhere we went, as the stroller I'd push along just became a "glorified luggage cart."

When my first daughter was 21 months, we got that mei tai in the mail it and changed our lives. We got it just before a big trip, she was super mobile, super fast, on the move and in a stage of not being a great listener. Plus she was getting to an age where I was feeling more leary of nursing her in public, eventhough now when I look back, she was still SUCH a baby!!! The trip we went on was a workshop/conference and we were with people, old friends, from morning until late at night for several days in a row. I was able to put her on my back, sway her to sleep and naps and it was awesome. Plus I could keep tabs on her at all times.

By this time I'd also begun wearing a type of moby made out of a material I could wear in the pool, so I was able to wear her around in our indoor local pool.

A year later, baby wearing proved to be awesome while I was pregnant with our second little girl. I wore my oldest until at least 6 months pregnant with my second. She was nearly 3, and I definitely did not have the energy to always be chasing her. Our laundry room was in the building next door to our house, I would strap on my daughter, carry a huge laundry basket and my big pregnant belly around. It was so much easier than having to carry her on one hip and the laundry basket on the other, or drag her along, or even have her crying as I walked ahead with the laundry basket, not having the energy to either carry or drag her along. There were many times when I would wear her because I could see her neediness for holding and touching when I was just exhausted so much of that pregnancy. I was thankful for times I'd wear her to the park, because I can't imagine if I'd let her walk there and had to carry a tired tot back.

I wore that kid at concerts and "secretly" nursed her, I wore her in the cold just so we could be warm together, the pool, trips to the park, just to be close sometimes. While traveling on my own, about halfway through my pregnancy, oh. . . .and I have almost always worn her when traveling, especially on my own with her. . . . while traveling back from my in laws, she got sick, so I wore her through the airport to check in, and when we got to the next airport I wore her some more. Because she was so sick (molars, throwing up, fever) and there were people on standby, I opted to take the vouchers and stay overnight in Chicago. It was SIX HOURS before we would know if we'd need to catch a flight that night or not. . . .BLECH, and I wore her in the airport the entire six hours. Halfway through my pregnancy, wandering back and forth to find food and carrying all of the bags I had with me. . . . I was so thankful for baby wearing (though the stroller WOULD have been a nice addition at this point. . . but she stopped using the stroller about 15 months before this time, so I no longer took it anywhere with us).

When baby 2 came along, I started wearing her pretty much right away. She loves to be worn. She'll nurse to sleep almost anywhere as long as she's in that mei tai. With my first daughter, though she has always been a mama's girl, she did allow me to leave for periods of time. This second one, even to date (11 months old) can only stand about 45 minutes of mom being away before she's in total melt-down. So, I have worn her in every store in this city it seems. Baby 2 is a bit more "touch hungry" having to be held for naps, worn almost always, held constantly. And I am SOOOO thankful I am aware of baby wearing now. Even to date, I still wear my little one when she's tired and it's time to cook dinner, or do the laundry. When we walk to the park, eventhough she now happily sits in the stroller, I always bring along the mei tai because it's almost certain she'll become completely discontent at some point of the journey.

. . . I've worn both girls in two separate mei tais at the same time. . .my oldest LOVES that!! Once they BOTH fell asleep during a 30 minute walk through a store. . . one had her head hanging back away from my back, another hanging away from my front. . . . both girls have always liked the upright carrying systems.

I have used a variation on the moby wrap, which was great for going to the gym and walking the track (until baby was 6 months, because our gym doesn't allow baby wearing past that point on the track. . . an entirely different subject! And strollers aren't allowed on our indoor track either). I also had a variation of the moby wrap in a great fabric for the pool. I use the mei tai almost daily! I have THREE now. I used that bjorn for the first year and a half of my oldest daughters life. And on a very rare occasion I've used a ring sling that I had available, but I'm not very good at it and the girls don't prefer it.

Baby wearing has been so awesome for us. Without it I would surely have gone insane and not known how to deal with some of the "twos" that coincided with my pregnancy. But on those days I would just have to remind myself that I had baby wearing as an option, and an otherwise clingy, needy, fussing 2 year old would be completely calmed by her mama just strapping her on and going about her business. There have also been times with my new one where I was busy planning or preparing for some event or another and didn't get as much time with my little one during the day as SHE needed, but as able to strap her into the mei tai while shopping, giving her a nap, nursing her and getting in an extra hour or more of touch time to make up for it all.

I can not tell you HOW MANY complements I've gotten on my mei tais and how many people ask me where I got them or what they are called. I love to wear my babies to show other women that they could go into a store "carseat free," enjoying a CRY FREE shopping session with their babies, getting in extra snuggle time, breastfeeding without a blanket or having to pull over to the side of the store to sit down somewhere, and just seeing an overall happy baby swinging her fat little legs out the side of the mei tai as we wander the store.

 Here are more posts by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.
  • Sylko @ Chaotic Mama—Breastfeeding Carnival: Babywearing

  • Emily @ Baby Dickey—do you babywear?

  • Shelly @ Lousy Mom—Babywearing vs carrying

  • Amy @ Anktangle—I love babywearing

  • Claire @ The Adventures of Lactating Girl—Our Babywearing Journey

  • Kimberly @ Monkey Tales Mama Thoughts—Wearing My Baby

  • Lexi @ Life As A Mommy—Baby on Board - Literally

  • Sarah @ Most Revealing—Do you babywear?

  • Kate @ KateIsFun—Babywearing

  • Melodie @ Breastfeeding Moms Unite!—Do you wear your babies?

  • Renee @ Just the 5 of us!—Wearing My Babies

  • Timbra @ Babes and Bosoms—Wearing her everywhere

  • Natasha@naturalurbanmama—Breastfeeding and Babywearing

  • And of course the guest poster on the Breastfeeding Cafe’s Blog today is Amanda Watsky—My Evolution in Babywearing
  • 9lbs @ birth and in the NICU?

    Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

    This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about nursing in special circumstances. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st! 
    My first daughter came into this world, she was beautiful, she was perfect, we never had a problem with nursing. So many women in La Leche League meetings seemed to have stories to tell, even thrush was like an entirely foreign universe, far from my perfectly uneventful start to breastfeeding. And then baby 2 came along. I don't want to be overly dramatic, there are some REALLY difficult births out there, some very serious complications and some babies and children who are struggling with things much much more serious than we ever had to, but having your 3 day old infant sent to the NICU is any parents worst nightmare and whatever difficult thing each of us deals with, is it's own personal hell, regardless of the "degree of difficulty." And any time the boundaries of your nursing relationship are put into the hands of others, it's a "special circumstance." So. . .though I COULD talk about tandem nursing, I think I'd like to share this part of our story instead.

    Our second daughter was also perfect, at birth she was nearly 9 pounds with a lovely round little head. She came fast and furious when she decided to come. She was pink, she cried. . . she nursed in the first 30 minutes and then all night long that first night if my oldest daughter wasn't awake, my newest daughter was, and vice versa. She was born at 10:04pm, we finally got our 3 year old to sleep around 2 after all the excitement, and at 4am this new one was awake. . . she nursed straight through and finally slept again around 7, so while my eldest daughter and husband enjoyed pancakes that our midwife had made, my new baby and I slept. . . and less than 12 hours after she was born, we were on our way home.

    A few hours later my mom commented on how "dark" this baby was. In the evening some friends stopped by and mentioned the same thing, the following day my sister also commented on it, and our little one was pretty yellow by this point. (I'd always expected a jaundiced child, my husband was jaundiced at birth and has a syndrome that causes jaundice.) She was sleepy, very sleepy, she hadn't nursed much through the night, but perhaps she was just doing fine on reserves and allowing us both to catch up on some rest. Day 3. . .time to get our check-up. My midwife came by for this and immediately commented on my "pumpkin" baby. I think, in some ways. . . I was with her the whole time, she was jaundiced, but it was a progression I wasn't seeing and I also didn't want to admit there COULD be something more serious going on. And then we got biliruben numbers back that day that were so high 1) the lab ran them a second time sure they were contaminated and 2)our pediatrician sent us for another round of labs because in "30 years of practicing medicine he'd never heard of a number so high" and was sure it was wrong. At 11pm, after a day of worry, a couple of hours in the ER, and our labs were all back a second time. . . . we were sent to the NICU at the children's hospital, because our local hospital "couldn't treat a baby THIS SICK!"

    I nursed my baby around 11pm for the following 20 hours I was not able to hold or nurse her, I fought NICU staff on pacifiers and bottles and finally began to understand and gain some perspective on how mothers who did not have the same kind of information and knowledge base regarding breastfeeding, would, in a desire to do everything that is best for their babies, just give themselves over to the mercy of the NICU staff.

    As I sat in an interview with the doctor who was basically calling the shots on my daughter, she was being hooked up to oxygen and saline and having blood drawn and I was not with her. . . she was barely 72 hours old. I was told I could nurse her before she was put under bili-lights and then every 3 hours "as quickly as possible" so she'd have as much access to light exposure as possible. They had to do some labs and if her numbers were still too high, a transfusion. When I got back to the room where she was, a nurse was holding a pacifier in my crying baby's mouth, I walked in horrified and told her I didn't want my baby to have a pacifier, she shouted "I had to do something she wouldn't stop crying!" OH. . .here's a thought. . . HOLD HER?!!! COME GET ME? LET HER FATHER NEAR HER? I think my husband was in as much shock as I was and didn't know what to do, he just stood there letting the staff "get to work." I sternly told the woman "I want nothing in her mouth besides me or a finger!" And still, she stood there HOLDING the pacifier in my crying baby's mouth. . . OBVIOUSLY she didn't want it. I think I actually had to shout "Take it out NOW!" Then I said I would nurse her, she told me I wasn't allowed to. . . I almost completely lost it. I didn't want to make enemies, I didn't want to do anything that was counter-productive to my baby's well-being but I also wanted to fight for my right to do the things I KNEW would benefit my baby. I already knew she was tongue-tied and at 3 days old, I didn't need some "sucking interference" being thrown at her. The Dr. walked in and backed me saying that I could in fact, nurse her before she was put under the lights. Then they were able to lay her on her belly, since she needed oxygen and had a canula in her nose, and SURPRISE SURPRISE, this position was okay with her. . .more comforting, no crying.

    This nurse didn't speak to me for the next hour or so, we just sat there in silence, her back turned to me (busy with her paperwork).

    Baby girl's blood was drawn, her numbers were high, she had to have a transfusion. They set to work putting a catheter in her umbilicus, at this point I was told I could no longer nurse her, they had to work with "urgency" and created a "sterile field" on her belly (a sterile field that would land her back in the hospital with a staph infection days after her discharge from the NICU. . . but that's not a story we'll get into here). . . . but the blood for the transfusion did not come for FIVE MORE HOURS. During this time I finally told the nurse that, since I couldn't hold or nurse my baby, if she was crying during the transfusion (or while waiting on blood) a pacifier was okay, because it was just too heartbreaking to listen to her crying. (During these several hours, the nurse did pacify my baby by putting her finger in her mouth when I wasn't able to! But I knew that during the transfusion, she wouldn't have the same ability to have a free hand at all times, or may not even be in arm's reach and there may not be anyone who could get close enough to offer a pacifying finger) She encouraged my decision and said to me "I'm a member of the breastfeeding support team, and I know what the literature says, but babies don't have any trouble nursing once they've had a pacifier." WHATEVER LADY! I'm the one who gets the moms emailing me because you think like that and say things like that!!! The transfusion took quite a long time, a few hours, and then a new attending Dr. was on for the morning rounds by this point.

    She too told me I could NOT nurse my baby. At every turn when I was lead to believe if things went in a certain direction, we could go back to the original plan of holding and nursing for short periods, someone on staff would step in and tell me "No. . . now we want to wait for this new sign that things are going okay." The new reason. . . because if she had a full belly and they had to do another transfusion, it could really mess up her intestines/stomach and they were leaving the catheter in for several more hours until it was determined that she definitely would not require another transfusion. . . If it was determined that another transfusion wasn't necessary, for whatever reason the Doctor wanted to give her a bottle or an NG tube to start feeding her so they could monitor how much. COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY! This made me irate, I requested another feeding method and got a line about how "WE'VE breastfed thousands of babies successfully". . . .lady have you breastfed any babies successfully AT YOUR breasts? Or is "we" a figurative term here. . . ? I aired my frustrations to a nurse, asking why they couldn't use a syringe? She'd been a nurse for several years and this was a totally new idea to her. . "Oh, yeah, that makes sense, I'm not sure why they couldn't do that, I'm sure we could" (it was more about what the nurses were willing to put up with). The resident came through to check on us and give us an update and she got QUITE an earful regarding my discontent. And I did NOT want to confront her. I did not want to be one of those crazy ladies who thinks she knows everything about breastfeeding success and management in the face of the medical world and be given some other argument she couldn't talk down. . . but I WOULD NOT sit idly by. And this woman listened and . . . .

    I think I was asleep, or I just wasn't in the room, and I got a semi-nasty call from one of the nurses "Are you going to come nurse your daughter?" WHAT? They told me they were going to have to give her a bottle or an NG tube last I'd heard. . . . my words had not fallen on deaf ears!!! After 20 hours, PS: Day 3 is a HORRIBLE day for a baby to have to "not nurse" I had to use the hospital grade pump MANY times and my breasts were killing me and completely engorged, but after 20 hours of not being able to even hold my baby, I was able to nurse her for FIVE WHOLE MINUTES :)And then I became a prescription. Suddenly I was told (and almost as though I was being punished) if you aren't here every three hours to nurse her (for five whole minutes she was allowed to be out from under the lights) we will put an NG tube in her to feed her (my pumped milk). In between feedings, I still had to pump, she was receiving nutritive saline or something, so she didn't nurse much, and she was still sleepy from being jaundiced. . .

    I slept on the couch in the waiting room, we asked for blankets and pillows, every day at 7am and 7pm they disappeared because this was shift change and we were required to leave the NICU for an hour at each of these times. One time, I asked for a pillow and blanket and was told "You really aren't supposed to sleep in the waiting room." Another time I used one of the chairs that pulls out into a bed, in the hallway outside of the waiting room, where it was nice and bright (not like the lovely dark waiting room) and someone (staff) actually woke me up to ask me if I'd turn the chair so it wasn't facing out into the main walkway. . . the NICU is not a super parent friendly (therefore not a very breastfeeding friendly) place!!!! I HAD TO BE THERE to nurse my baby EVERY THREE HOURS. I got calls if I slept through my alarm, of course laying down and nursing was NO OPTION. I had to sit up in a chair the ENTIRE time I nursed my baby (longer stints later as she moved to just having to lay on the bili blanket, so I could hold and nurse her on the blanket for however long I wanted), and I had to stay awake too. . . . my postpartum physical recovery SUCKED!!! My butt hurt, I had to use my peri-bottle and change pads in the public bathroom ON THE WAY to seeing/feeding my daughter, after sleeping in horrible positions and being rudely awakened.

    And we were only there 3.5 days. . .it felt like a LIFETIME!!! The first 24 hours felt like a lifetime of pumping and not holding my baby and wondering if her biliruben levels would maintain their downward turn. And we had to deal with all sorts of ridiculous "checklist" items. . . things that "normal" parents don't have to watch or do or prove before they can walk out of any hospital with any newborn baby. And I sometimes wondered where the checklist for the nurses was. . . I mean seriously. . . I couldn't believe that I was educating some of them regarding breastfeeding. I had to ignore literature about co-sleeping and nod my head in understanding. I applaud ANYONE who "lives" in the NICU longer than we did. . . and anyone who leaves the NICU with their resolve still in tact over breastfeeding and actually goes on to successfully breastfeed. . . there are SO MANY OBSTACLES!!!

    And don't even get me started on tandem nursing. . .that's a completely different "special circumstance" all it's own :) One that was a pretty difficult balance with a confused toddler who didn't have her baby sis at home, and a mom who had also suddenly disappeared! But today my youngest daughter turns 11 months old. She is HUGE, she is thriving, she is wonderful and still completely perfect. Her first two weeks (remember, we were sent back with a staph infection) were trying and scary and frustrating particularly with how I felt like nursing her was a "prescription" the hospital staff felt they could monitor and change at any time. But I know that I was equipped with information and determination when I went into that situation and am positive that all that I've done, I've done to be the best mother to my baby.

    (Incidentally, I recently learned that the first doctor, the one who gave us the initial consult in the NICU, is now being sure that all pediatricians who come out of the U are armed with a new breastfeeding curriculum and is interested in breastfeeding advocacy, AND has been attending breastfeeding coalition meetings. . .he is a 60 something year old man!!! I applaud his interest. I hope that some determined, informed mothers throughout the years have caught his attention and piqued his interest in advocacy!)
     Here are more posts by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

    The Best Non-Decision I Ever Made

    Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

    This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on The Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about Importance of Breastfeeding. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st!

    What a broad subject this is. . .I LOVE to write, I LOVE to reflect, so if you're looking for a quick read. . . you won't find it here!

    Do I write all the reasons I love breastfeeding? Do I write the thousand and one reasons that breastfeeding is the best thing for babies (and mommies)? Do I write all the benefits?

    I like these questions, they make me really reflect on the beginning of my breastfeeding relationship with my first daughter and now with both of my daughters. While pregnant, searching for a few final books to purchase and pack up with me on my way to Fiji, where our family would begin, I decided on the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. I don't even know now, why it spoke to me, but that single book has put me on a mothering course for my life. I read that book, well, most of that book. And I struggled throughout to identify with it because the baby was always referred to as "he" and I knew that my baby would be "she." (Later I learned that this was so the reader would never wonder if "she" was speaking of baby or mother. . . makes perfect sense). And I read words like "nursing relationship" and "beautiful" and I still continued to feel that the reason for breastfeeding was pretty utilitarian for ME. . . .finances, good nutrition, "should breastfeed until 6 months" and I was going to do my minimum part. . . six months and we were through.

    And then I had a baby. And I nursed that baby, because I knew I would. And nursing solved the problems of the ENTIRE WORLD. . . about forty-six times every single day. If she was hungry, she nursed, if she was tired, she nursed, if she was learning something new. . she nursed, if she just needed to suck, she nursed. . .if she was scared, or warm, or cold or happy, or sad, or needed to poop. . . she nursed. If someone else held her and gave her back to me, she wanted to reconnect, and she nursed. And it changed me, it shaped me, and I began to realize that the mother I always thought I'd be. . . I was not. . . and I wasn't sure I cared anymore. . . we were riding a wave of newness and of understanding between us, of trust and intuition, we were learning that our family did not have to be the families we'd grown up in or had come from, that we could just be whoever and whatever we needed to be for this baby.

    During the first six months of our daughter's life, we lived in a culture where children were never told "no" (not for the first few years anyway), where babies were NEVER left to cry, bottles were uncommon, formula even less so, child lead weaning was a lot more common than I had ever known, soon after I had my daughter a friend told me that her then FIVE year old still nursed every once in a great while. . . this was mind-bending for me(the kid went to school for heaven's sake). I asked my doctor if the recommendation in this country was for babies to sleep on tummy or back. . . her response? "We don't give a recommendation, most people sleep with their babies, but if I have to give a recommendation, we go with Australia and say on their backs." What? EVERYONE slept with their babies? Maybe it was way different than I'd planned or wanted, but it worked for us and EVERYONE ELSE WAS DOING IT!! Breastfeeding made all of this so simple. . .

    We also lived in a place where we walked almost everywhere, so it stood to reason that our journeys were long. We couldn't go "sit in a car" to breastfeed, there wasn't easy access to making (or taking) bottles everywhere we went, and we couldn't just run home (okay, we could LITERALLY RUN home, but not just hop in the car and go home) if we needed to make a bottle or whatever. . . .breastfeeding was available, accepted, always ready at a second's notice.

    We lived in a country where the majority of people have dark skin, my BIG FAT WHITE BABY stood out everywhere we went. People want to squeeze her thighs, strangers kissed her little feet, sniffed her head (all cultural). Everyone KNEW this big baby was growing fat on mommy's milk, it was a given, no one wondered why she was thriving. Friends back home said things behind my back to one another like "Why doesn't she just nurse her less?" (I learned this many months later, from a friend who also enjoyed having a HUGE MILKY BABY and thought to herself "Nurse a baby less? That never occured to me!"). . .Until I came back to the US and began attending La Leche League meetings, I didn't even know that people were encouraged (or culturally just accepted) scheduling feedings (either by amount of time at each feeding/each breast or amount of time between feedings). This was a completely foreign concept to me. I didn't know that "nurse on demand" was a "recommendation" of an organization promoting breastfeeding. . . I just thought you were supposed to do that. Away from my "home" culture, away from my family, away from friends I might have gone to, to ask how I should mother, I was free to just be a mother. . . . nurse a baby ALL DAY LONG. . . and delight in the fact that every local person we passed was proud FOR me of MY baby!!! My "dalo thighs" (that's Fijian for "taro root". . . and if you've ever seen taro root with the brown skin stripped, you'd completely understand)!

    Breastfeeding my children has been important to their well-being. It's comfort, it's nourishment, it's disease fighting, it's immunity boosting, it's a reset when we're breaking down (any of us), it's a quiet moment for a busy toddler, it's peaceful sleep for the whole family, it's closeness, and bonding, and reconnection when we've been apart and warm fuzzies for me too, and when I'm REALLY tired and don't know how to slow down, I just lay down with a tired, fussing baby who is demanding peace and quiet and she and I, nursing, sleeping. Breastfeeding, even extended breastfeeding, has been the absolute best decision (or maybe "non decision") we've ever made for our family. 4.5 years ago when I read words like "breastfeeding relationship" and references to its "beauty" it all felt a little too whimsical and romanticized. . .but I can tell you. . . this breastfeeding relationship is SATISFYING, it is BEAUTIFUL, it is AMAZING. . .

    When I watch my babies cradled in my arms, or on my lap, holding me with both hands, caressing my skin as their little eyes roll back in their heads, sometimes tired out of their minds and just thankful to finally be at peace with their mommy, as I stroke their hair, or kiss their foreheads, or touch a cheek, rocking, swaying, singing, telling them over and over "I love you little girl". . . there is no better place in the world, no more magical moment than to know that my body was made to provide everything that these little wonders require to grow healthy and strong in the first months of their life, and to continue to provide substantial amounts of nourishment as well as emotional and mental nurturing, and that I am allowing myself and my daughters to take part in the exact thing we were both meant to do in this very moment.
     Here are more posts by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

    Sunday, July 18, 2010

    The birth of me. . . halfway around the world

    Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

    This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on The Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about Birth Experiences and Breastfeeding. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st!

    This one is a longer read:
    The birth of a first child is in essence, the birth of a mother. We have hopes and dreams for our babies, we think we know exactly what kind of mothers we will be and what kind of birth we will have. . . . but until you have experienced birth, until you have been BORN as a mother, it is almost impossible to envision the birth experience you really desire. Second babies have it easy :)

    Bare with me as I share some of the details of the birth of my first daughter. They are so important to me and to the prompt because as I mentioned in my previous post, my first daughter was not born in the US. My experience, therefore, with regards to labor, birth and breastfeeding are vastly different from the stories of sterile hospital births I hear about in the US.

    Before I was ever pregnant with her, I had intention to birth in a birth center 40 minutes away from my home. I wanted a water birth. However, just weeks prior to becoming pregnant, my husband and I made a decision to move out of the country and gave ourselves a "pregnancy deadline" which would eventually determine her country of birth. Things didn't go as planned, and in the end, we landed in this new country only FIVE WEEKS before our little girl was "due." (we should have been there five MONTHS before).

    By the time we arrived we'd seen 7 female doctors/midwifes for prenatal care due to our moving around while waiting on visas. Five weeks gave us very little time to interview doctors and research birth options once we finally arrived. In fact, I'd lived in this country once before and was close friends with a Doula (when I was 19 and husbandless and had NO idea what a doula was, what she did or why she might EVER be important or necessary). And from that experience I knew that an out of hospital birth (though it likely happened all the time among the local people) was not a likely option unless I knew someone who knew someone who was either in the country visiting at the time (a doula, a midwife, etc) or had a relative who happened to have a birth pool and attended births. Unfortunately, I didn't have the kind of time on my side to be able to figure all of that out. The best I had worked out was that a mutual friend put me in contact with another American woman who had given birth to 3 of her 4 children in this country and through her I was able to find someone who fit my ONLY requirement. . . a female doctor! Not a female doctor she'd had experience with, as her own ob/gyn had since retired, but a female ob/gyn nonetheless.

    I am SO thankful that the individual who attended to me when I gave birth to my first daughter, was a woman! It's not common, even in the US, let alone a developing country to have a female ob/gyn attending a birth, but I was fortunate that this one request was filled. My beautiful Dr. Litiana Browne, was a confident 60-something year old Fijian woman.

    My husband and I had agreed (ahead of time)to some medications during my labor, as well as requesting an induction so that my family, who had traveled 3000 miles to be there for the birth of this first grandchild/niece, would not have to leave without having met our little girl. Had I known what I now know, I would have made different choices. . . but when you know better, you do better and it was, in essence, the birth we chose and planned with the knowledge and information we had (or chose to have). Fortunately, none of this seemed to have had adverse affect on the outcome of her birth or our first nursing experience. My birth as a mother was NOTHING like the stories I hear of here in the States. . . .I was induced by a doctor who did not endorse epidurals and actually said to me "How can you be in control of your labor if everyone is standing over you looking down at you?," (to be clear, I was NEVER interested in one) a woman who (in her 60s) had very few times found need to perform a cesarean. She slept at the hospital all night, waiting on me to have my baby (I was the only woman giving birth in that hospital that night). When I said I needed to push, the nurse did not ask me to wait, she asked to check how far dialated I was, and allowed me to begin pushing (never telling me my "number"). . .while squatting. . . before the Doctor ever arrived. When the Doctor arrived she checked my progress (while I was squatting) then stood in another part of the room speaking in their native language and laughing quietly (not about me. . . just talking, because birth was NORMAL) while my husband sat in a chair behind me, being my rock, and I stood and squatted, and pushed and felt my baby's head crown before anyone else knew her head was coming. A few details are hazy, after I climbed onto the bed and pushed her out with 2 final pushes. . .a head and her body. . .while on "all fours" and I shouted "Do we have a baby?" Despite what I am about to say with regards to how it is taken for granted that a mother WILL breastfeed, unfortunately, Western birth practices have weaseled their way into all sorts of cultures. My baby's cord was cut, before I even had a chance to turn over and see her, she was whisked just a few feet away onto a warming table, she was wiped up and checked over and it was an hour before I think I actually held her. . . though, it didn't feel that long and I don't remember it being that long, my photos are time stamped so I KNOW it was that long. Part of this was due to my needing stitching. But. . . this was the first time I'd ever had a baby, and I didn't know anything about delayed clamping, I didn't take the "immediate skin to skin" stuff I'd read, to heart, and truthfully, I didn't know if I should be responsible for holding a newborn baby while being stitched up.

    I had some tearing, but this culture is not interested in numbers, and so my doctor stitched me without telling me "the degree" of tearing and within the first hour I was able to try to nurse my baby for the first time. After my family came to see her and oogle over her and then left (because they had actually been awake the ENTIRE time I had been awake 8am to 6am at this point) I was able to nurse her again. A nurse-midwife (all the nurses were nurse-midwifes) came to check on us, I said "Am I doing this right?" She said "you have a bit of a flat nipple" perked it up for me (a little odd, but seriously, all pretense is gone after giving birth) and that was that. . . my baby latched and nursed happily. . . for the next few years!!!
    In part I believe this is because there is a big push in this particular country to return to breastfeeding. Like many foreign countries, when the US says something is good, others follow. . . . many years later. . . .Formula became the norm for many years, however, in the 10 years prior to the birth of my daughter, education (for nurses) on the importance and superiority of breastfeeding over formula and a push to encourage mothers to breastfeed, had become normal practice (again) in the hospitals. There was no question as to whether I would breastfeed my baby. No one offered me a bottle, or was concerned about whether she was eating.
    They waited 4 hours to weigh her for the first time. I didn't have to request she not be given a pacifier or formula. I didn't have to request to room in with her. . . in fact, my husband held our daughter while I was being tended to and when I fell asleep after holding and nursing her for a bit, he held her for two more hours, my husband held my baby because a bassinet just "couldn't be located" (there were TWO birthing rooms in this hospital, across the hall from one another. . . the "overnight" rooms were not just for moms, they were for people recovering from surgery and illness too. . .AND. . . I was the only person giving birth in the hospital that night. . . there was ONE other baby in the nursery. . .where could all the bassinets have run off to?). So, until my husband was falling asleep, sitting up in a chair, with our newborn infant in his arms, no one helped him, not even a little. 3 hours after her birth, they brought a bassinet and took her to the nursery (one room away) and 15 minutes later I woke up (I guess even after being awake 24 hours straight and giving birth, when a new baby is taken from the presence of a new mom who is dead asleep. . .she knows it!). We immediately went to the nursery, I needed to gawk at that baby some more, and then they bathed and weighed her and she never left my presence again until we checked out (except for 10 minutes for vaccinations). When I hear about hospital experiences here in the US, I am actually appalled. The sterility, the push for formula, the worry over glucose levels, the shots, the eye goop. . . . (and that's just AFTER baby comes. . . I am even MORE appalled at all the "red tape" moms go through while in labor, all the encouragements to USE MORE INTERVENTIONS).

    My second daughter was born in the US, in a water birth, in a birth center, without complication. She latched and nursed within the first half hour as we lay in bed together, we never left one another. Her story is simple. My first daughter took 15 hours to make her way, technically, my second daughter took 5 days :)So. . . in a culture that assumes every woman can and will breastfeed. . . there was no question, there was no option. . .there was just me. . . a newly born mother. . . and her. . . a newly born baby. . . and we were breastfeeding. . .and we were at the beginning of a beautiful journey that I never could have imagined. And I was born. . .
     Here are more posts by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

    Firsts: Wordless Wednesday (Favorite Breastfeeding Pix)

    Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!
    This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on The Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is Wordless Wednesday: Breastfeeding Photos! Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st!

     Here are more posts by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

    Making it easy for everyone to nurse: Carnival Day 2

    Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

    This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about baby friendly communities. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st! 

    Let me start by saying that my experience with early nursing varied SO greatly with my two daughters merely because they were born in two different countries. My first daughter was born in a country where women publically nurse. . . . older children. . . . and talk about nursing. . .two children AT THE SAME TIME. And I did not value this way of life, of mothering, of focus on breastfeeding, and never letting babies cry. I thought it was backwards, and I was going to stick to my "American culture" by doing it the "American way." I was going to nurse my baby for 6 months, I was horrified at the ideas of nursing older children, tandem nursing, or having my baby (kids) sleep with me past that same time period. Kids should be told NO and they should learn to self soothe and they shouldn't always be picked up. And then, at the magic SIX MONTH mark, our family moved back to the US, and still, I was seeking a group of mothers who were counter-culture, but this time, they were counter-culture to the American way, and in so many ways, mirrored the mothering ways of the country I'd just left. Funny the journey motherhood takes you on isn't it?

    And the reason I share some of that background is because when breastfeeding started to become an important part of my life, when sharing breastfeeding information, educating women on the subject and myself as well, all became part of my LIFE, of my MOTHERING and of my PURPOSE. . . . I realized that positive things about breastfeeding that had been said to me, the gifts of encouragement that I hadn't taken to heart in the moment, the little reminders along the way that I was a loving mother to my baby girl.

    When my daughter was just DAYS old, we happened upon a group of friends sitting in the park, while walking home. All were mothers, veteraned mothers, of multiple babies. When they saw that my little one was crying and wanted to nurse, they invited me to sit with them for a while and nurse her before continuing my walk home. I declined . . . I had been nursing this baby only a few days, it was not yet something SUPER comfortable or normal for me. . . but I did end up CARRYING my 6 day old baby half a mile home instead of leaving her to cry in the carseat/stroller. On another occasion, a friend told me that I was "so smart the way I breastfed my baby," because I would sit cross legged and prop my arm on my leg and my baby's head on my arm (in such a way that I didn't have to just hold her suspended, tiring out my arms and back, etc). I'm not sure now if she was complementing my "form" because she hadn't done the same, or because I was "kaivalagi" and she didn't know American women knew anything about breastfeeding (if that's the case, so sad that in the eyes of other cultures we have lost the ART of breastfeeding as American women). Thinking back on that invitation and then that comment, these were all building blocks that made it easier for me to nurse in public.

    Then I joined a community of breastfeeding advocates. Of LACTIVISTS. Of women (and their families) who don't just want to normalize breastfeeding, but want to make it "ho-hum ordinary." And the knowledge and understanding and encouragement that I have felt during these past 3.5 years as part of that community, have made it easier for me to nurse in public. To want to pass that image on to my daughters, my family, my husband's family, my friends, younger women I might mentor and even mothers I do not know.

    And so perhaps it is not the location, or the staff, or the accomodation that makes it easy for me to nurse, but it is the knowledge that by nursing my babies where others MIGHT see, I am saying that this is important, so important, important enough for me to do without worrying what others might think. I am not nursing to make a statement, I am not publically nursing to offend, I am publically nursing because, for me, and my family, it is NORMAL, it is ORDINARY and it is EASY!!! (And it should be for EVERYONE).

     Here are more posts by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

    Saturday, July 17, 2010

    Baby Friendly Community: Carnival Day 1

    Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!
    This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on The Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about Baby Friendly Communities. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st!

    A baby friendly community begins with a breastfeeding friendly community which necessitates listening to and touching baby! But I often find that this community is not supportive of either. Too often I watch mothers haul their babies around in carseats . . . and I don't mean just taking them from the car and tossing them in a shopping cart, I've actually seen a couple walk into the MALL with a carseat on dad's arm. That is ONE LONG and TEDIOUS trip to the mall. Sometimes it seems that those who make up our community work hard to take care of babies by means of convenience and with "objects" rather than people. I had a NICU nurse tell me she was part of the "breastfeeding support group" as she forced a pacifier on my crying baby. . . my crying baby who kept crying through the pacifier yet READILY sucked the nurse's finger when offered it. I think she was mistaken, I think she was part of the "breastMILK support group" because her actions and her knowledge showed me that she was not aware of all of the interferences with breastFEEDING that she was a part of.

    There are pacifiers and bottles and blankies and stuffed animals and carseats galore. A friend even boasted recently that her sister has a remote control music machine attached to her NEWBORN daughter's crib, so when baby wakes, mom can start the music again by remote from the door, so baby can NOT see or hear her, and will go back to sleep (without being touched, or checked on). There are gadgets and gizmos and training systems available for all. Why not nursing in public, ON DEMAND, and cuddling up to baby by wearing him, yes. . .even taking the time to do so in the winter months? Information on SAFE co-sleeping instead of ONLY scare tactics?

    I have walked through stores where itty bitty babes sit in carseats IN carts, crying and crying and crying while mom presses on with her bathing suit shopping, shooshing and every once in a while rocking the carseat, or replacing the pacifier, without TOUCHING baby. . . pick up your baby, hold your baby, cuddle your baby, let your baby know you are there!!! Don't train your baby to soothe himself, or shoosh him because he's being a nuisance while you shop. He will only be that little for a little while and he wants YOU mama!

    These are my personal experiences with mothering moments that sometimes break my heart and define for me how our "community" views and "deals with" babies. These moms are, many times, only doing what they think is expected of them, what they think they are SUPPOSED TO do. . . make baby self soothe, cry it out, not give in or let him think he's won, training. I wonder if a another mom would feel relief if I went with my desire to touch her on the arm and say "It's okay to pick up your baby and nurse him." It seems that mothers have within them the instinct to hold a crying baby, to make their world right again. . . so why don't they? What makes them seek a different method? Is it lack of support of a loving, nurturing mother, from our community? Are they afraid that someone will call them out for "spoiling?" Are they worried someone will judge them for "giving in" to a crying newborn/infant? Are they bothered that someone might see them nursing or see them trying to hide that they are nursing with a HUGE waving cape (read: nursing cover) that says "don't look. . .I'm nursing?" I hope that in nursing openly in public, when my baby needs to nurse, I can give other mothers confidence to nurse their babies RIGHT THEN AND THERE if necessary. I hope that mothers who see other mothers nursing babies will realize they too want that peace more than to do what other people think they should.

    Utah is a "kid friendly" place when it comes to establishments. I've often been shocked by the movie theatre notice that requests "no children under 8 years old in RATED-R movies, past 8pm". . . . !!!! A crying baby in a movie theatre, in a restaurant, in a grocery store. . . . no one is bothered by the crying baby. No one is bothered by the little kid. But people ARE bothered by nursing in public? By means of keeping kids FROM crying? And "kid friendly" is not necessarily "baby friendly."

    I've had family and friends from out of state make appreciative comments about how "family friendly" many establishments are in Utah. It is nice, as a mother, to know that I can count on a changing table, or even a family bathroom when I go places. And so, there are definitely many accomodations made for moms and small kids, but I do not know if this makes me feel as though our community is "baby friendly" as much as "mom friendly." I don't want to confuse "mom friendly" "kid friendly" or "family friendly" with "baby friendly." Utah IS a great place to live if you want to do a lot of things with your family or with your kids. But Utah is sometimes a difficult place to live when you are a mother who believes in listening to her child(ren) and letting them guide you as a mother.

    So, what can our community do to be more "baby friendly?" Let's start by removing the BOTTLE decal from the "nursing room" door at the zoo! Better yet. . .let's remove the nursing room so we don't give mothers the idea that they have to hide away in a "special" (read: bathroom like) room in order to nurse their babies. Let's start by smiling at nursing moms to "give our approval" and give her a confidence boost as a mom when she listens to her baby instead of all the social reservations. Let's nurse our little ones in public when necessary and without our own reservation, to make nursing "ho-hum ordinary." Let's encourage mothers to listen to and trust their babies to let them know what they need, instead of listening to the "supposed tos" of the "community." My personal community is a community of breastfeeding mothers. I hope that I can take the values of the community I have CHOSEN into the community I am geographically a part of.
     Here are more post by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.

  • Emily @ Baby Dickey—Living in a baby friendly community

  • Sara @ The Covered Wagon—A Baby-Friendly Worship Community

  • Shary @ Mama Fish—A Community Fit For All Babies

  • Sylko @ Chaotic Mama—Breastfeeding Carnival: Baby Friendly Community

  • Claire @ The Adventures of Lactating Girl—Community is What You Make of It

  • Kimberly @ Fertility Flower—Baby Friendly Maternity Leave

  • Melodie @ Breastfeeding Moms Unite!—The People Who Make My Baby Friendly Community

  • Timbra @ Bosoms and Babes—
    Baby Friendly Community: Carnival Day 1

  • Claire @ Geeky Gaming Mama—Baby Friendly Community: What It Means To Me

  • Renee @ Just the 5 of us!—Baby friendly, one baby at a time

  • Kathy @ Musings From an Arid Neverland—The baby-friendly community vs. the deserted island

  • And of course the guest poster on the Breastfeeding Cafe’s Blog today is Jodie Palmer—Baby Friendly Means Milk Banks