Welcome to your breastfeeding journey! These are my tried and true nursing essentials. It may seem like a lot, but many of these are only needed early on and can be purged once you get through the initial period of breastfeeding, typically the "fourth trimester" or the first 3 months after baby arrives.
Disclaimer: I by no means wish to exclude gender non-conforming individuals who may be chestfeeding, so please consider yourself included! Because I can speak only from my own experience, both hetero- and gender-normative language is used in this post. I am willing to learn but I do not expect you to teach me, so if you feel this post needs work simply let me know and I'm happy to do some additional research!
Okay, let's get started! I've broken this down into 2 parts, post-birth, and the full breastfeeding journey.
For the leaky fourth trimester (1-3 months)
The senseless deaths of migrants, immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees began with the systemic failure of our governments to act in the interest of their citizens.
What would cause a person to put themselves and their babies in such mortal peril? (Hint: it's not because they are irresponsible or bad parents, you jerk.) Ask yourself why people risk bodily harm - death in the desert, drowning, and imprisonment.
"As long as the root causes in Central America are not addressed — including the major role the U.S. has and continues to play in the violence, terror and systemic poverty — Central Americans will continue to flee and make the perilous trek north." - Susan M. Akram
The crisis at our southern border is a symptom of a much, much larger global problem. For a thorough analysis, please read the full article by Susan M. Akram, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic at Boston University School of Law:
What's Driving The Migration Crisis At Our Southern Border?
We. Are. Traumatized - whether we engage and fret over it, or we ignore it and rationalize it and find someone else to blame so we can go on living our lives. Generations of people are being traumatized, some to the point of going numb and becoming indifferent.
As a leader in foreign affairs, you would assume the US could actually lead rather than blame the very victims of widespread war, starvation, poverty, and gang violence for their own oppression and resultant deaths at the hands of a cruel and neglectful state, abroad, here in the US, and everywhere in between.
Instead of saying "What about..." and "America first," maybe we should start asking WHY this keeps happening and then HOW we can stop it. Declaring “America first” is saying that an imaginary line defines our humanity. Putting America first implies there are limits to who gets to be free and alive, and who doesn't. This sentiment denies the basic humanity of others, and it belittles and demeans our own.
Migrants, immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers didn't ask to be born into war, poverty, and gang violence. The only difference between you and migrants is your birthplace and that is sheer luck. You didn't do anything special not to be born into poverty in South America, or not have your home blown up in Syria. One day, it could happen to you. Would you want to be blamed for your own death if you fled for your life and for the promise of freedom and safety? What wouldn't you do to save your child?
When people see these senseless deaths, the abuse and neglect of children, the conditions of the concentration camp and say "This is not America" they are wrong. This is exactly what America has always been. Just ask Native Americans. Ask African-Americans. Ask Japanese-Americans.
But that doesn't mean the promise - the one that moves us to fly our flag, and our brothers and sisters to don a uniform and fight - is meaningless. This promise means more than we can ever know - right now, and for generations to come. The hope that one day we may actually fulfill the promise of America - and exemplify the compassionate heart of our Lady Liberty, Mother of Exiles.
We are the change we've been waiting for. You are more powerful than you think. Don't just look for the helpers. Be one.
We can be better. We can even "be best." So what are you waiting for?
*From poets.org: "Lazarus was asked for an original poem to be auctioned off as a fundraiser for the building of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Though she initially declined, Lazarus later used the opportunity to express the plight of refugee immigrants, who she cared greatly about. Her resulting sonnet...is inscribed on a plaque on the pedestal of the monument."
Special thanks to Linda Bolton, Kyan Bowman, Jaimie Jandovitz for their editing contributions!
I finally watched Wonder Woman. I'm not a fan of big budget CGI nightmares in general but it was uniquely touching to see women at the center of battle scenes, doing cool martial arts moves and killing the bad guys.
As I watched it I felt profoundly different than when I watch men in those superhero roles and it made me choke up a bit. I could sense on a deep level that I was seeing something very different and very special, and that is why representation is so important.
The closing speech was also super Star-Wars esque, and also incredibly meaningful to me at this particular moment:
I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind; but then I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learnt that inside every one of them there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves – something no hero will ever defeat. And now I know... that only Love can truly save the world. So now I stay, I fight, and I give – for the world I know can be. This is my mission now. Forever.
This is great! I wish I had been informed about this before I became a mom. I used to be one of those judgy-wudgy people who disliked when people nursed in public. I regret this so much - I was ignorant and had no idea what I was judging. I had no idea I would nurse my own child one day (even when I was super preggo). I did not prepare. I would never have imagined how it would change my life in positive ways and how magical it truly is. I also had no idea how many people struggle with it and planned for it only to have their hearts broken. That some exclusively pump. That they sometimes want to breastfeed really bad but they just can't and their bottle-feeding has nothing to do with your comfort and everything to do with feeding their baby the best way they can. That sometimes pumping doesn't work and direct feeding is the only solution. That breastmilk is a miracle and its potential has only begun to be revealed.
Parents are out here trying to make it through the day. The last thing any parent needs is you judging or shaming them for doing their best.
Parents need support. All parents need adequate family leave to bond with their baby and establish breastfeeding. They need education around breastfeeding. They need access to resources and equipment to facilitate successful breastfeeding. They need adequate insurance coverage to buy pumps and hire lactation consultants. When they return to work they need time and a safe, clean, private space to pump. They need somewhere to store their milk. They need TSA agents to respect their milk and not treat it like it's some kind of security threat.
Notice how "they need your unsolicited advice, dirty looks and judgmental BS" is not on that list?
Feed your baby whenever and wherever. And really, you shouldn't have to nurse or pump in the bathroom (that's gross).
#sorrynotsorry #feedthatbaby#normalizebreastfeeding #fedisbest #transinclusive
Wearables are already big like FitBit and smart watches, but for me they are a bit cost prohibitive. Lately, I've seen a lot of smart jewelry coming out which is cool if you're not sporty or into giant wristwear. They all connect to apps that let you accumulate data overtime like you're some kind of science experiment! Data can be helpful in setting, maintaining, and keeping track of goals.
We're trying to keep up and do everything, better, faster, and easier. Integrating technology into our bodies makes it more seamless. It's also a status symbol, shows you're fashionable and up with the latest trends. Wearables are integrating technology more seamlessly into our lives. We want to be the best at everything and being able to track, quantify, and measure everything can be comforting in a high-pressure world. We have to be fit, the perfect parents, and be in tune to what's going on but still be present at the same time. It's exhausting! Our robot friends are here to help,
I think it also has something to say about women taking more ownership of their health and lifestyle choices. Re-designing a breast pump to be more comfortable, easy to use, and wired can be revolutionary for a lot of women, considering that many companies or public spaces like airports, etc do not provide safe, private, clean or comfortable places for women to pump while traveling away from their babies or working. This could help women be more effective in the work place and less at risk for firing, demotion, or straight up shaming at their jobs. Smart jewelry that helps track menstrual cycles, fitness, etc can help women be more in tune with their bodies and keep them healthier so they can go out and be a major boss at life. A better baby monitor can help prevent SIDS, give mothers with postpartum anxiety or depression a chance to be less vigilant and worried and get the crucial sleep they need to stay mentally and physically healthy. All in all, wearable tech is GREAT for women! The price however, means it's really great for women who can afford it. Hopefully as it catches on it will be more accessible to more people so those that really need it can reap the benefits as well.
I think it's cool and interesting, but not something I'm willing to try right now. I have concerns about privacy and what all this data will be used for and how safe it is. I'm already tetchy about wireless monitors because they can be hacked by creeps who can use them to speak to your baby or just silently watched (you can google a website for live fees of poorly secured wireless cameras - creepy as hell!). I don't think everything about our lives needs to be connected to an app, although I do find them useful for staying organized, remembering things, and tracking my period, stuff like that. I think this is just the beginning and it will get more intense. We are kind of like the frog boiling in the pot with our privacy. Adam Ruins Everything does a great episode about us giving away or data to Facebook, etc.
It's going to get more intense. I've even read about people being microchipped. We'll become bionic before we know it! I think you can get upset and put on your tinfoil hat or just accept that Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc own our asses and this is the future! I just hope our robot overlords are kind and treat us fairly. On that note, here are a few wearable tech trends I find fascinating!
Ringly buzzes you for important notifications so you don't obsessively look at your screen and allegedly helps you be more present. It's also pretty and looks like normal jewelry. I'd love to try this and see if it helps me be more in the "now."
The Willow is a wearable, wireless, app connected breast pump. Instead of pumping in gross closets and bathrooms, it's discreet enough to do at your desk! I for one am ALL for this! I have pumped in hospital waiting rooms, random conference rooms, you name it. I think this would be great for pumping on your commute, on airplanes, and in offices. It's a high price point, but if your insurance can cover it, it's worth its weight in gold! (Note, mine does but not for the full amount, still pretty amazing! Willow also offers financing).
According to their site, "the Owlet Smart Sock tracks heart and oxygen levels and sends real-time insights to your phone. It also includes a base station which glows green to reassure you baby is okay but will notify you if heart rate and oxygen levels leave preset zones." If you're anything like me, you havespent many a night staring at the tiny glowing screen instead of sleeping, making sure baby is breathing. I'm really eager to try this out just to alleviate some of the new-mom anxiety (normal) and intense post-partum anxiety (normal, but scary) for baby #2. Here's one mom's review below.
Bellabeat Leaf is a personal health tracker specifically geared towards women's health (they also have a smart water bottle). This tracker and app encompasses multiple facets of women's health including sleep, activity, stress, meditation sessions, and menstruation. It's a lovely design with lots of options to choose from, and is a similar pricepoint to FitBit.
I hope you enjoyed my round up of wearable tech for the female future. Whether we come to welcome our robot overlords, or simply become bionic ourselves, these female and mother-centric devices hold a lot of promise. I hope they can become more ubiquitous and offer more diverse price points so more women can enjoy them!
As a hobby seller on my favorite peer to peer fashion selling app, Poshmark, I have learned some great tips and tricks in the past year. I by no means represent myself as a power seller who makes an actual income from it - there are plenty of experts out there! This is very much something I do to clean out my closet, and share great items while making a bit of money in return. I've started this little series to share my favorite best practices in the hopes it will help someone else! This second volume is super vital: PRODUCT PHOTOS!
The most important photo you'll take will be your covershot photo. This is what appears front in center in your closet for each listing, what shows up in parties, and in social media share posts, including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
For me the cover photo is the catalog photo. It should be aspirational - showing what the item looks like as much as possible!
Here are my top 3 tips for taking an amazing cover shot:
Aside from your cover shot, be sure to include these other important photos:
Here is a sample of all the photos from a single listing:
I read a lot of mommy blogs and parenting article sites. My Facebook feed is probably 60% parenting articles, 30% memes and 10% people I actually know. It's ridiculous. Those of us in the supposed Xennial/Milennial generation (you know how I feel about generations based on this previous post) were raised on Googling. What did parents do before the internet? Cry all the time? I can't imagine.
But it's a double-edged sword right? There is a wealth of information at your fingertips but a lot of it is biased, factually incorrect or just plain dangerous. You really have to turn on your bullshit detector. And aside from official aggregate websites for this type of parenting information, you also have the almighty Facebook Mom Groups. These are safe spaces where you can post a photo of your child's actual diarrhea and you will get 50 women chiming in to tell you what to do about it. Before I was a mom I balked at this. Now I'm like - AWESOME!
That being said, I have one particular bone to pick. It's those articles based on a parent's ONE experience with getting a child to do something. The ONE time they got them to fall asleep at a specific age, on a specific day. This magic trick worked on their ONE child, and now they are writing an advice article. Me, the reader, desperate to get my child to simply go the fuck to sleep, will read this and think - YES! I have found the solution! I will breathe deeply while holding my child and she will magically match my deep breathing and magically fall asleep.
HOW ABOUT NO? Let me tell you something. My child has never been a good sleeper, but what I do know is just when I'm about to crack from the sheer torture of 2 solid weeks without sleeping through the night, she suddenly sleeps like a goddamn champion. She passes out in 5 minutes and doesn't wake up til 7:00 AM. Guess what I did to facilitate this miraculous sleep turnaround? NADA. Zip. Zero. Zilch.
Kids change - constantly! Once you get used to a certain way of things being, and you think you have it figured out, they change. They couldn't live without the blue cup, and now it's all about the green cup. That talking Elmo was their favorite, now it's scary and it must be hidden in a closet where it is now haunting your own dreams. Things are good for a week or two, and then you better hold on to your butt, because things are going to get cray-cray again. It's like kids have a built-in detector for when you're about to have a nervous breakdown and become all cute and sweet and "Mommy you're my best friend - I'm going to float on a puffy little cloud through my bedtime routine, kiss you on the forehead and sleep for a minimum of 8 hours."
There is no magic trick. There is only the inevitable ebb and flow of good and bad, light and dark, happiness, and near insanity. This is parenting. The less you try magic tricks and just accept that while sometimes things are going to suck, everything will eventually turn around. It's a rollercoaster with no brakes and everything is on fire, but it's totally worth it when once again, you're on that puffy little cloud with your tiny best friend.
Please don't run away! Trust me - you want to hear this.
There is nothing wrong with the word vagina. There is nothing wrong with your actual vagina. It is a word that describes a part of a human body, much like "elbow" or "femur." It's okay to say "vagina." Presumably, not at a work meeting, or in the grocery store, but you know, in private conversations with friends and family or medical professionals. For the purposes of this blog post, however, I mean specifically when talking to your children.
You do not have to say any of following, (unless it makes you super happy, but this is not just about you):
Maybe I saw the "Vagina Monologues" one too many times in college. But if being a mom has taught me anything, it's that kids are REAL. They are so real because they haven't learned how to fit themselves into a tiny box yet. They haven't learned social decorum, shame, guilt, etc. that keeps us wanting to take up as little space as possible with our bodies and our thoughts. When I talk to my daughter, I use the right words.
I learned in an adolescent sexual development class that there is no specific age to start being real about our bodies or sexuality with children - just normalize and be matter of fact from day one. If you are embarrassed, they will be too. I say "vagina" and once my daughter is older and has a larger vocabulary I will help her differentiate from "vulva" and "vagina." I remember hearing it called different things as a kid and I was so confused. I will make sure she knows the correct words so she can tell me if she is in pain or if someone (including other kids) touch her inappropriately (or if she happens to be exploring herself in public places, where apparently such things are frowned upon).
I never want her to associate her body or sexuality with secrets and shame. I want her to feel comfortable setting boundaries. I want her to be proud of herself and have high self esteem. I want her to know what is normal and what is not so I can advocate for her, until she can advocate herself, whether it's in the doctor's office or in her personal relationships. The shroud of secrecy over our bodies and sex is what leads to bad relationships, lack of sexual agency, abuse, sexual assault, etc. It's time to end the madness!
This goes for boys too - they should understand what's appropriate, what consent is, and how to appropriately handle any strong sexual feelings or surprise boners without thinking there is something wrong with them. They should know that a girl's short skirt or spaghetti strap is not an invitation or a "yes."
I'd like to see rape culture, body shaming and slut shaming end in my lifetime... a girl can dream. In the mean time, let's just start with calling our body parts by the right names, 'kay?
Nice to meet you!
I am a tech pro, blogger, DIY'er, reader, TV binger, music lover, nerd and semi-crunchy mom. I write about professional development, being crafty, motherhood and politics. Thanks for joining me and letting me share my thoughts with you!