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Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Lactivist Meetup?

I'm noticing more and more posters (and emails) from Lactivist readers in the central Ohio area. With that in mind, and seeing just how strong a community we're building here. I'm wondering if my local readers might be interested in a monthly meet-up.

I had a great time meeting quite a few of you at least spring's Lactivist Bash and quite honestly, I don't feel like waiting until next spring to do it again.

So here's what I propose.

I'd love to see two once a month meetings.

1.) A "Just Moms" lunch. On either December 11th or 13th, at least two other moms and I are going to meet up for lunch at the Northstar Cafe in Clintonville. We're doing it "kid-free" to have a chance to talk without worrying about our munchkins. (They're both WOTH moms, while I'll be dropping my kids at Mango's Place.) We're certainly not opposed to moms bringing young nurslings who can't be left yet, but it would be nice to try and keep this meet up a grown-up thing so we can focus on the conversation.

Besides, I never get to have lunch with women friends without my kids around. I need some adult conversation!

2. A family fun thing. This one would be akin to a play group meeting. We'd likely pick a public spot where we can keep an eye on the kids and grab a bite to eat, but the goal here would be to get the kids and the parents together. Moms and dads would both be welcome along with kids of all ages. Basically, a great chance for the kids to get some interaction and to see if there's interest in doing a regular "play-group."

I'm also interested in seeing if readers in other parts of the country might want to meet up with other readers. This place seems to be a good collection of moms who are a little different. ;) Some might even call us "weird." ;)

I've tried LLL, church groups and a few other "mom" groups and none of them have really "worked" for me. The people were all nice enough, but I just don't play well with the average mom. I'm either too crunchy or not crunchy enough. Maybe you're also looking for a group of "good enough" moms to hang out with. Maybe you just want to see if I use air quotes as often as I use typed quotes. Either way...any interest?

If you're local, let us know. If you aren't local, but you'd be up for meeting up with other readers in your area, make a post with your city (or general location.) I'll compile lists to see where there are multiple readers and we'll see if there are any volunteers to organize them.

It could be fun...

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Woot! Two Steps Forward...

Waiting on the two steps back. ;)

We're making progress and so far, it's going pretty smoothly. That's not to say I think it will continue this way. I'm sure for every step forward, we're going to have nights that take giant leaps back. But then, that's why I figured I'd need four or five months to invest into weaning.

First, an update on Emmitt's ears.

Things got ugly over Thanksgiving and we ended up having to have the on-call doc call in a stronger prescription for us. That made for three, yes THREE rounds of antibiotics. Unfortunately, he seemed to end up with an outer ear infection as well, so we had to add drops to the mix. We agreed that I'd take the kids straight into the doc's office on Monday morning to have Emmitt's ear checked out.

As it turns out, the ear that had the ruptured eardrum was doing much better. Unfortunately, the other ear still looked horrible. In fact, the doctor said that eardrum was still at risk of rupturing. That meant we needed to kick it up yet another notch. We ended up doing a direct injection of antibiotics.

(On the plus side, he cried for about 15 seconds and then I had him laughing again. That's much better than twice a day scream sessions as we tried to get a teaspoon of liquid and five ear drops in him.)

We'll go back in on Friday to see if things are clearing up. If not, we'll have to do one more round of injections. If so, then we'll make an appointment with an ear nose and throat specialist. The doctor agreed that an ear infection of this magnitude the first go round was pretty darn rare. He said he's rarely seen it happen and when it does, it's usually because there's an anatomical issue. Rather than have Emmitt suffer through a few more rounds of this, we're going to have him checked out to see if there's a need for tubes. Then we'll start making some decisions.

The good news is that despite all this, his mood has been wonderful the last three days. He's been happy and cheerful and a ball of energy. I guess when you've been "awful sick" being just a "little sick" feels pretty good. ;)

I'd put weaning on hold last week as I saw no need to push things when he was clearly upset and in pain. The last two nights, he'd been pretty happy so I thought we might slowly work our way back into it.

Two nights ago, I got him read for bed and sat and sang him some songs. Then I put him in his crib and left. He was quiet for about fifteen minutes and then started to fuss. He fussed on and off for a few minutes before moving on into full blown crying. I went in, he nursed for about 10 minutes and went straight to sleep.

Amazingly, he slept until 4am when he briefly woke up, nursed and then slept until 8am.

WOOT!

Last night, I tried the same thing. Got him ready for bed, sat and rocked with him and sang a few rounds of songs. Then I put him in bed.

This time, he went to sleep.

I was astounded. In fact, I sat rooted on the couch for two hours convinced that if I moved a muscle, he'd immediately start crying and I'd have to go in and nurse him. (I'm weird like that.)

He slept until 3:30, woke up and nursed for a few minutes and then went back to bed until 7:30 this morning.

Amazing.

Here's hoping it works again tonight. We'll have to wait and see.

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Does YouTube Have a Problem with Breastfeeding Videos?

Sara over at Suburban Oblivion (I love that blog name) dropped me an email today to point out a post at the League of Maternal Justice.

The post is a press release claiming YouTube has "banned" a breastfeeding advocacy video they uploaded. Here's a snippet:

A mom-produced internet protest video attacking Facebook's banning of breastfeeding pictures was itself banned by the popular video sharing service Youtube after gaining recognition as the top-five most discussed of its day. A group of moms called Youtube's action hypocritical and harmful, and pointed to dozens of sexually explicit and harmful videos currently allowed on the service. The moms also pointed to a number of state laws specifically stating that public breastfeeding was not inappropriate.

The video is available for viewing on the League of Maternal Justice site and is well worth watching. It's basically a compilation of images of mothers nursing their children.

The video is no longer available on the YouTube site. Running a search for the direct name of the video brings up an error message:



Now, I'd note the text used here. It says "this video has been removed due to terms of use violations."

When I read that, my first thought was not "YouTube hates breastfeeding moms!" it was "hmm...let's go look at the terms of use." After all, YouTube removes videos all the time. (Especially lately when they've been under intense fire for copyright issues.) My second thought was "hmm...isn't that Christina Aguilera singing the soundtrack?

If you look at the YouTube TOS, you'll find the following under Section 6: Your User Submissions and Conduct:

B. You shall be solely responsible for your own User Submissions and the consequences of posting or publishing them. In connection with User Submissions, you affirm, represent, and/or warrant that: you own or have the necessary licenses, rights, consents, and permissions to use and authorize YouTube to use all patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright or other proprietary rights in and to any and all User Submissions to enable inclusion and use of the User Submissions in the manner contemplated by the Website and these Terms of Service.

Now, I didn't figure the LoMJ has purchased licensing rights to Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" which runs as the soundtrack to the video, so it made perfect sense to me that the song might be the issue. Obviously, the LoMJ isn't the only group swiping music or video and posting it without owning the rights, but based on the amount of traffic the video had generated (more than 90k views according to the LoMJ's press release) it probably got in front of a review panel a lot more quickly.

Wanting to get the full story, I dropped an email to Julie and Kristen to ask them about the music issue and to see if they'd heard anything else from YouTube. They told me they'd received an email notice citing "inappropriate content" as the reason for the video's removal. The email didn't state what the inappropriate content was and it mentioned nothing about copyright infringement, so the duo assumed it was the breastfeeding that was the issue.

I can see how they might jump to that conclusion, but I'm not sure I agree with them. "Inappropriate content" could be defined as anything that violates their terms of service, including copyright issues. Since YouTube is pretty well known for letting almost anything be uploaded in terms of content, I'm going to take the logical route and assume it's the song.

Remember, as much as breastfeeding moms are used to being stomped on, it pays to take the time to make sure it's the breastfeeding that's the issue. Nothing makes the movement lose credibility faster than jumping to conclusions and going to war against those who were never opposed to us in the first place.

Julie and Kristen tell me they plan to recut the video with new, properly licensed music and to upload it again. If it's removed a second time, they'll let me know. If I find out YouTube IS removing content simply because it contains imagery of breastfeeding moms, I'll be one of the first in line to join the fight. Until then, I say we all calm down and wait to get confirmation of what the issue really is here.

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

A Point That Many Seem to be Missing...

I've been doing some thinking this week.

Thinking about the whole weaner-gate incident. Thinking about this blog. Thinking about the movement. I've been reading the lectures, tirades and "educational" posts aimed my way by other self-proclaimed lactivists.

...and I've realized something.

This blog isn't for them.

You see, what I'm hearing is that women are up in arms about my comfort level with the idea of nursing my child long term. They're up in arms about my desire to gently wean using "don't offer, don't refuse." But mostly, they're up in arms at my use of the term "lactivist" when it doesn't match up with their own narrowly defined definition of the word.

And I've realized...I don't care.

I don't mean that to sound as harsh or as callous as it does, because I care about these women. I care about any woman who becomes a mother and strives to do the best they can for their child. I want to see women equipped to breastfeed as long as possible. I want to see an environment where those choices are supported.

But ultimately, I'm not sure that's what MY blog is here for.

I've been sitting here asking myself if I have anything left to give to the breastfeeding community with this blog. When I started The Lactivist, it was the only breastfeeding blog out there. Several more popped up in the next few months, but even a year ago, there were only half a dozen of us. Now? There are quite a few breastfeeding blogs out there. I think that's fantastic! But it left me wondering if my time had come to retire and move on. After all, there were plenty of other people ready to step in and take my place, right?

Perhaps.

Then last week's incident showed me something. It showed me that I DO serve a valuable niche and that I DO still have a lot of work to do. That's not to say that many of the new breastfeeding blogs aren't fantastic. They are. But we all have our own styles and our own pet topics and our own way of looking at things. And I think there's still some value to the way I do things.

You see, breastfeeding has long been divided into two camps.

There are the "I'll give it a try and see what happens" and the "YOU MUST BREASTFEED" camps...and there really wasn't much in between.

Without realizing it, I'd been crossing the divide between those camps.

My goal here was to share an honest and open account of nursing a baby and a child. It was to share the advice I couldn't find back when I was an exclusively pumping mom and to share the journey of a woman who had become an ardent breastfeeding supporter without ever having been a nursing mom. Being able to share my experiences over the last fourteen months as I experienced nursing for the first time has been amazing.

Then It Got Ugly

Right now, I'm under attack. I'm under attack by mothers who are upset that I'm not pushing "the party line" of their "Lactivist party." They tell me I should be their poster-mom and should reach every single nursing ideal there is. They tell me it's my job as "The Lactivist" to sit on their pedestal while they check off every achievement on the nursing mom's list of accomplishments. They tell me I owe it to them because they need the support.

Now I hate to be the one to break it to them, but it's not my job to be your poster girl. It's not my job to tow your party line and it's not my job to make you feel good about yourself.

It's my job to advocate breastfeeding and to help mothers equip themselves with the information they need to make it as far as they can. I do that by sharing my experiences in an honest and open manner. I do it by not setting up false expectations. I do it by admitting I'm NOT the perfect mom. I do it by showing that even "The Lactivist" has days where she wants to scream at the idea of her child latching on for their eleventy billionth nursing session. I do it by being "so ready to be done" and yet continuing to nurse until I can gently wean my son. I do it by saying "Holy cow, it was totally worth it!"

Why? Because that's reality for many nursing moms.

The day I stop being honest on this blog is the day I need to close it down. Because the day I stop being honest here is the day I become irrelevant to each and every one of those nursing moms who struggles to do what they know is best for their child while balancing the needs of the rest of their family.

If You're Committed to Child Led Weaning, You Rock! (Even if you don't know it)

If you are a nursing mom who has nursed past two years of age and plans on child-led weaning, you don't NEED me. You may want to have my example, but you don't NEED it. You're already "there." You have already shown more spunk and determination than the greatest majority of nursing moms will EVER manage. You've certainly shown more spunk and determination than I have. That's something to be immensely proud of. It's NOT something to turn into a nice little chip you can attach to your shoulder.

You don't NEED anyone else's approval. Not your friends', not your family's and certainly not mine. You may think you do, but deep down, if you really think about it...you don't. You're strong and you're amazing. And I commend you.

The Internet is a vast place and there are legions of discussion forums these days that will support you. Believe me, I've spent my fair share of time in discussion forums with mothers who nurse well past the toddler years and on up into the early school years. Those communities are out there. If you aren't finding what you think you need here, then go looking for them. They'll welcome you with open arms. They'll fill the void you wanted me to fill.

So who am I here for?

I'm here for the mom who thinks they may want to breastfeed, but isn't sure.

I'm here for the mom who wanted to breastfeed, but wasn't able to.

I'm here for the mom who got kicked out of a restaurant for daring to think her child could enjoy a meal there too.

I'm here for the mom who has found herself EPing and has no idea how to keep going.

I'm here for the mom who thought it was "weird" to nurse a one year old, until her nursling turned one.

(and yes, I'm also here for the mom who thought it was weird to nurse a three year old, until her nursling turned three.)

I'm here for the mom who finds herself with a freezer full of milk her child will never manage to drink and who wants to know about milk donation.

I'm here for the mom who is at her wits end and needs to know it's ok to be frustrated.

I'm here for the mom who wants to keep going, but needs to take care of her family and wants to learn how to gently wean.

I'm here for the father who knows nothing about breastfeeding, but wants to learn to support his wife.

I'm here for the grandmother or grandfather who remembers when breastfeeding was "for poor people and hippies" but did it anyway.

I'm here for the grandmother or grandfather who formula fed and wants to learn how to support their children in a new choice.

I'm here for ANYONE who wants to learn how to promote breastfeeding by educating and uplifting nursing moms.

I'm here for ANYONE who is tired of seeing other mothers be put down for their choices so someone else can feel better about theirs.

I welcome anyone to this blog who wants to be part of a community that's honest and open. One that shares the joys and the pains. That's what I do here. I may not reach your ideals and I may occasionally tick you off. I'm ok with that. Most of my readers are too. If you aren't, then this blog isn't written for you.

And I'm done apologizing for it.

With all that said, I'm done with this topic folks. I'll still be here talking about breastfeeding, weaning, milk donation, lactivism and any number of other issues. I'm happy to carry on the conversation in the comments sections of these posts, but I'm through making posts defending my right to be who I am or trying to explain my position and my reasons to those who clearly have no interest in hearing them.

So here's a challenge.

Hate my blog? That's ok, stop reading. Feel free to tell others to stop reading.

Love my blog? Keep reading and let other moms in on the secret that there's a place to go to learn about breastfeeding and get honest and open support without judgment.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming. ;)

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

An Update on the Weaning Efforts

Well, still no luck moving forward with cutting out the before bedtime weaning session. As I mentioned, we came up to my parents' house for the long holiday weekend. We got here on Wednesday afternoon with plans to stay until Monday morning. I figured that gave us five nights for mom to try and put him to bed.

A fine and dandy plan, but Emmitt refused to sleep much in the car which meant no nap and a grumpy evening. I couldn't see the sense in adding to the grumpiness, so I went ahead and put him to bed on Wednesday night. Thursday morning he started acting insanely grumpy. I checked and his infected ear was just full of thick yellow mucus. By 11am, he was screaming bloody murder and inconsolable. He'd climb in my lap and immediately hurl himself to the floor, then he'd climb on Greg and scream to be let down. He did the same to my mom. The crying combined with tugging his ears had me calling the Drs office.

The on call doc called me back and we spent about twenty minutes chatting about symptoms and such. The doc said it sounded like he now had an outer ear infection to go along with the stubborn inner ear one. So, he called in a third round of antibiotics and some ear drops as well.

Needless to say, I didn't even try to have mom put him to bed that night.

On Friday, he was doing a lot better, but still not great. He was pretty calm around bedtime so mom took him up. Unfortunately, he wanted nothing to do with her. She spent about ten minutes trying to settle him, but he just kept fussing. (Not freaking out, just fussy) So, up I went to settle him into bed.

We'll see how things go tonight. He's laughing and playing with Greg right now, but he's been pretty fussy today. We're going to put their pajamas on, give him his meds, watch a Christmas cartoon and then mom will take him to bed. I figure I'll probably end up finishing the job again, but we'll see.

Good thing I have three months to wrap this up.

Curious though...I know many of you have night weaned your kids. Care to share how? If I could get him night weaned and could occassionally get some sleep, I'd be happy to keep the before bed session and work on weaning him from that starting at the end of January.

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

What's So Wrong With the Word Weird Anyway?

(I started this as a comment in response to Beth's post on the "Can You Believe in..." thread and quickly realized it would get lost in the comments. It needs to be a post of it's own, especially considering how much of the negativity these last few days comes from my comment about nursing toddlers. )

It's interesting to me how willing people are to take things out of context.

Beth just posted that she would no longer be linking to my blog because of the things I've said this week. While she's welcome to link to or not link to whomever she wants, she's taken my statements out of context twice. Thus, I feel the need to make corrections.

First, you'll note that I did not say "nursing a toddler is weird." I said "the idea of nursing a toddler weirds ME out."

There is, in fact, a distinct difference between the two. I have friends I've met through this blog and local parenting groups who nursed until their children were 2, 3, 4 and even older. I've hung out with women who were nursing four year olds. Doesn't bother me in the slightest. If mom and baby are happy, I'm happy.

If someone speaks up against them, I point out the benefits of extended nursing and explain the progression of nursing a child. Once you ask people "at exactly what age does it get "weird" most find they can't really answer it.

It's easy to look at a four year old and say "wow, that would be really weird to nurse a kid that old." But when you start to think about the fact that a child grows older one day at a time, it's easier to see how women nurse for so long.

I never breastfed Elnora. Breastfeeding tanked for us very early on and I ended up exclusively pumping for 14 months.

Until after Emmitt was born, I did not know anyone (outside of contacts on this blog) who had breastfed past a few weeks.

So to me, with no cultural context or example of anyone nursing beyond "infancy" the idea of nursing past six months seemed "weird."

Then I found myself nursing a six month old. A six month old who had aged one day at a time and there was NOTHING weird about it. In fact, it was beautiful.

And so we continued on with no end in sight.

Today, I find myself nursing a 14 month old and you know what? There's not a single thing weird about it. Not one. It's completely natural.

I look at Elnora, who just turned three and I think "wow, that would be so weird to be nursing her. She seems so old."

But I know that if I continued to nurse Emmitt and he got older one day at a time, each day would pass without being "weird."

One day, I'd be sitting here nursing an 18 month old and then a two year old and then a three year old. And it wouldn't be weird. It would just "be."

But without that experience, and with only a child who I've never breastfed to compare with, yes, it seems weird to me.

You want to think that's a horrible thing to say? That's fine. You're quite welcome to think anything of me that you like.

But let's stop and think about the word "weird" for a second.

I went and checked Google to call up some definitions of the word weird. Here's one that popped up.

strikingly odd or unusual

Now, let's look at the definitions of two more words.

odd: beyond or deviating from the usual or expected
unusual: not commonly encountered


Hmmm...my use of the word weird in the context of my life sounds pretty spot on to me.

Now if I'd said "gross" or "disgusting" or "wrong" I could understand people being upset with me. I'd understand them questioning me as a breastfeeding advocate.

I'd understand them being up in arms.

But because I've been honest about the amazing progression in beliefs I've had in the three years since I first became a mother, I'm suddenly unworthy to advocate for breastfeeding rights.

Yeah, that makes sense.

Now, let me point out that I've never said I'm weaning Emmitt because I think he's too old to nurse. In fact, the ONLY way in which age plays into this decision is the fact that he is over twelve months which makes him capable of making the transition away from breastfeeding without needing to use formula.

Now, on to point two.

Beth wrote:

After everything you have written on this blog, after all you have done to stand up for a woman's right to breastfeed, this is how you really feel? You truly feel that women lose their right to their body when they breastfeed?

Honestly, this leaves me wondering if Beth has *really* read and digested my posts on this blog. I've actually been pretty clear from day one that I feel it's essential to give mothers the space to make the decision that is best for their FAMILY.

In fact, I in no way said what Beth quoted me as saying. What I actually said was this:

How can you possibly think you'll encourage more mothers to breastfeed by telling them that the day they begin a nursing relationship, they lose their right to their body and themselves?

In other words, I don't for a MOMENT believe a nursing mother loses the right to their body when they breastfeed. However, I DO feel that many of the women who have been jumping down my throat for daring to wean think this way. When I read comments like "You OWE your child two years" and "You HAVE to nurse for two years" I hear women saying that a mother must nurse no matter what the cost. That the child's right to breastmilk supercedes any and all other issues in life.

Not only do I not believe that, I think it's that type of thinking that has made the battle to increase breastfeeding rates so difficult.

You want women to nurse to two years or longer? Fantastic! Equip them to meet that goal. Equip them by understanding that not every mom can nurse on demand for two years, nor should she have to. Help her to realize there's middle ground. There is not "nurse on demand" and "don't nurse at all." There's also "set limits." Give moms the honest and real information that will help them meet those challenging goals without sacrificing their ability to be a good mom.

You want to send women running to the other side of the fence with complaints about "those breastfeeding harpies?" Try telling them what a bad mother they are because they aren't willing to make sacrifices you know nothing about. I don't care how hard your life is. By it's very definition, there's only one woman in the world who has "the hardest life." Everyone else? There will always be someone with a bigger sob story. Since you don't know where on the spectrum other people fall, I'd suggest you reserve your judgement for something else.

You want to make a difference in the world and help more women breastfeed their babies for longer periods of time? Try having a little more compassion and exercising a lot less judgement. Try offering up education and advice based on real life and the place a woman is in at a particular point in time.

I didn't start this blog to make everyone in the world happy. I started this blog to share my honest thoughts and opinions on the life of a nursing mother. My hope was that as I grew and learned things, I could share them with other moms who would grow and learn as well.

If people have a problem with what I'm doing here, they're welcome to read other blogs or to start their own. I never claimed to be the one and only place on the Internet to go for talk about breastfeeding. I only claimed to be one woman doing things the best way I know how and as long as men and women continue showing up here to read what I have to say, I'm going to keep saying it.

So I suppose the one really great thing that came out of all this was the motivation to keep going and the realization that it doesn't matter one lick if I'm still breastfeeding or not.

I am and always will be "the lactivist."

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Incidentally...

Does anyone else think it's funny that less than 12 hours after I posted about my lack of inspiration to write about breastfeeding, Weaner-gate breaks out and posts and comments start flying around like crazy?

God's way of telling me I'm not done here yet? ;)

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Toddler Speak

A little levity to add in to the heavy-duty "what's a lactivist" debate.

Elnora is talking up a storm these days. I still can't always understand her and she's probably a good six months to a year behind where she should be for her age, but she's making good progress.

Kids always seem to have their own unique ways of describing things, so I thought it might be fun to share two of Nora's requests that keep me entertained.

Right now, her favorite foods are:

"Cheeseburger, no meatball." (Confused? She wants a hamburger bun with ketchup on it.)

"Kay-Deeya, no cheese." (Quesadilla, no filling, not cooked. In other words, she wants a plain flour tortilla.)

So tell me, what strange things do your kids request?

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Can You Believe in, Advocate and Support Something You Don't Do?

I'm finding the thread on what defines a lactivist to be pretty interesting. While the majority of posters seem to agree a lactivist is anyone who does their best to promote and support breastfeeding, there have been a few lengthy responses outlining some pretty extensive requirements for the title.

A few of the comments (and several of the posts on the forum) have branched off in a different direction and I felt like they warranted a post of their own.

The crux of the points being made is that I've always said (and continue to say) I believe in and support child led weaning. To many, the fact that I'm gently weaning my son rather than waiting until he gives up nursing on his own means I must have been lying about my position on child-led weaning.

I find this interesting.

I believe child led weaning is a wonderful thing for mothers who desire to nurse for as long as their children wish to continue. The benefits of breastfeeding do not end on any particular day. Both mother and child benefit physically from each and every day of nursing. Additionally, I know many moms who find nursing to be an invaluable tool when it comes to soothing a fussy or tired child, or helping a child "reorganize" when they get stressed out.

I have and will continue to stand up for the right of any mother to nurse her child for as long as the two of them wish to nurse.

Now with all that said, many have taken issue with a comment I made on that discussion forum. To paraphrase, I said "child led weaning is a wonderful thing, but it's not for me."

Many have taken that as a personal slam. Me saying they're strange, or wrong for practicing child led weaning. A few have implied that by saying that, I'm making it clear that I'm not one of those "weirdos" who nurses until their child hits college.

So let's break this down. As you know, I'm nothing on this blog if not honest.

The idea of nursing a toddler weirds me out. I've said that quite a few times in the past. I've noted that I'd originally planned to breastfeed for six months. (That holds true for both Nora and Emmitt. I had planned to switch to EPing when Emmitt turned six months.) Then I started nursing Emmitt and six months came and went quite quickly. Suddenly, nursing a six month old didn't seem so odd.

At eight months, things were still going quite well. In fact, they were going well enough that I posted here that I'd decided to aim for 18 months, but was open to going longer than that as long as things were going well. I still couldn't picture nursing a talking toddler, but I was willing to give it a shot.

Then we hit nine months and things started going down hill fast. That was five months ago and nursing hasn't improved one iota. It's not horrible, but it's not fun either. I dream of being done. I dream of wearing real bras and of being able to sleep through the night sometime because Greg is capable of getting Emmitt settled. I dream of being able to take care of a business meeting without staring at the clock so I can get home in time to nurse.

And so, I decided to gently wean my son.

Why?

Because I believe that breastfeeding, while an amazing thing, is not something a woman should be forced to do. Child-led weaning is wonderful when both participants are willing participants. We would never dream of forcing a child to continue nursing when they wanted to quit. Yet somehow, we're ready and willing to raise eyebrows and purse lips when a mother decides she's done. Rather than respecting the dyad and their own individual dynamics, we've elevated the baby's rights over the rights of the mother. This despite the fact that the mother needs to be in an emotional state to tend to baby, herself and often a spouse and other siblings.

Do I believe in child-led weaning? Absolutely. But ONLY when the mother in question desires child led weaning.

Think about it this way. I believe in the benefits of regular exercise, a diet of whole foods and getting eight hours of restful sleep a night.

I haven't managed to pull that off either. :-P

So I ask my readers...does the fact that you don't do something yourself remove your ability to claim to believe in and support it?

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What Defines a Lactivist?

One of my readers emailed this morning to point me to a discussion forum that's talking about me and my post about weaning Emmitt.

The majority of them are not at all happy with me. Quite a few have declared you can't be a lactivist unless you practice child-led-weaning.

It's an interesting read. I responded at the forum, so no sense for a big long post here.

Curious to hear your thoughts.

I'm most curious to hear what YOU personally define as a Lactivist. What are the criteria? What disqualifies you?

Here's mine:

"I believe anyone who believes in, supports and promotes breastfeeding and the value it provides to mother and child is a Lactivist."

That's all the qualifiers I have. I don't care if you're a man or a woman, breastfed for a day or eight years. If you're out there doing what you can to do help make sure more women have the means to breastfeed, you're a lactivist in my book.

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Long, Slow Wean

So I've alluded to the fact that I'm weaning in a few posts, but I've been so absent for the last two months, you're all sort of in the dark about the process. Now that I've decided to stick around a bit (and have had a burst of blogging inspiration), I figured it was a good time to bring you up to speed.

Cause I know you all log in every day just wondering about the current state of my breasts. ;)

It's hard to believe, but I haven't written about my personal experience or thoughts on breastfeeding since May. If you've been reading here awhile, you probably remember my post called "The Dark Side of Breastfeeding." It certainly got a response from readers. ;)

There's a reason I haven't written about nursing since then.

It's because things didn't get better for me. Sure, I've survived and six months later, I'm still a nursing mother...but the warm fuzzies that were so strong for those first six or seven months have faded.

I am SO ready to be done nursing. I've BEEN so ready to be done nursing. Unfortunately, Emmitt isn't quite there yet.

When I originally started nursing Emmitt, I decided I was going to aim for 18 months. I just didn't think I could pull off two years (outside my comfort zone) but I felt like I didn't really need to stop at a year either. 18 months has always been sort of my mental point at which babies turn into toddlers and while I fully support toddler nursing, it's just not for me.

Unfortunately, around 10 and a half months, Emmitt developed this nasty habit of not quite biting me, but of latching with his teeth. It was horribly painful and I simply could not break him of it. Of course he also still wasn't sleeping through the night, often waking three or four times. Basically, I hit that wall where I started getting annoyed every time he wanted to nurse. I was absolutely, 100% ready to be done.

Of course there was no way I was going to wean him prior to 12 months because I simply was not going to buy formula. (I'm cheap. lol)

So I pushed on. Thankfully the "bite-latch" only lasted about two weeks.

At eleven months, I decided he was nursing enough overnight to justify cutting back during the day. At this point he was only nursing before his two naps, before bed and overnight. He was drinking some juice and water from a sippy cup, so I started offering him a sippy cup with meals. At eleven months, I started putting him down for his early nap without nursing him. Amazingly, he seemed to have no problem with it.

About three weeks later, he fell asleep in the car on the way home from Mango's Place. Since he always took his afternoon nap as soon as we got home, I carried him in and set him in the crib with my fingers crossed. Sure enough, he went straight to sleep with nary a peep.

The next day, I carried him in at nap time, changed his diaper, sang him a song (Puff the Magic Dragon) and picked him up. He arched his back like he does when he's ready to lay down, so I put him in his crib. He went right to sleep.

WOOT.

It was around that time I got a request to go to Tuscaloosa, Alabama for three days to do some in-house training. Of course no one was available to go with me except for mom. That meant I either had to take mom AND two kids, or leave both kids at home with mom. I couldn't see lugging two kids and mom to Tuscaloosa, so I decided to go without him. Of course mom told me she wouldn't keep Emmitt overnight unless he was weaned. (Can't say I blame her.)

The training was scheduled for the Mon-Wed after Thanksgiving.

That gave me two months to finish weaning him.

I hate deadlines.

Why? Because anytime you set a deadline, something happens to make you miss it.

Since we'd successfully managed three full weeks of nursing only before bed and during the night, I figured his first birthday was a good time to try getting him to bed at night without nursing. Emmitt had other plans.

It was right around that time nature decided he should sprout four molars and three incisors. We spent four full weeks with teeth bursting through left and right. There was simply no way I could cut out bedtime nursing when we were having to dose him up with Tylenol nearly every night for any chance at sleep.

So weaning was delayed. Now I was a month away from my Alabama trip. Unless I flat out denied him any chance of nursing, I couldn't see us making it, so I cancelled the trip.

About three weeks ago, I went to visit my parents for a long weekend. The plan was to have her try and get him to bed at night, so I wasn't trying to settle him down without letting him nurse. Emmitt had other plans.

The first night we were there, he started running a fever. Little did I know, that fever would last a full week and would then turn into a raging double ear infection that defied antibiotics and resulted in a ruptured ear drum a week later.

I couldn't bring myself to try and wean him from before-bed nursing when he was suffering from a raging fever and severe ear aches. On the plus side, he only once got bad enough during the day that I had to nurse him to settle him down. (On the bad side there were nights where we were up and nursing 8 or 9 times.)

So here I sit, with a baby who is soon be 14 months. We're two months past when I hoped to wean, but I've promised myself that no matter how badly I want to be done, I'll wean him gently.

Thankfully, I'm heading home to my parents again this Wednesday for the long Thanksgiving weekend. So long as Emmitt stays happy and healthy, we're back to our plan of having mom settle him into bed each night without me nursing him. I'll still nurse him if he wakes up in the night, but we're going to see if mom can get him to sleep.

Please, please cross your fingers and say a prayer for us. ;)

Of course I've managed to end up with a deadline again. I've got an overnight trip (just me) to Chicago on December 4th for a conference.

It's funny really...back when I posted about weaning from pumping, I mentioned wanting to have it all wrapped up before I headed to a conference in Chicago. Two years later, I find myself looking at my first overnight trip (to the same city for the same conference) without Emmitt and wondering if he'll be weaned before then.

That trip is two weeks away. He takes a sippy cup well enough for him to survive one night away from me, but I'm hoping he doesn't make Greg miserable by being a crazy, fussy baby.

I've got two weeks to find out. I'll certainly be encouraging it (with mom's help) but I'm not going to push it.

All that said, my "drop-dead" quitting date is February 21st. On that day, Greg and I will board a plane to London. I'm doing a conference there and we've decided to stay awhile and spend a bit of time in Europe. We haven't really had a vacation since our honeymoon and since our airfare is covered, we figured this was a good chance to take one. We'll be gone for 11 days. Mom is keeping the kids. Emmitt HAS to be weaned by then.

Surely I can pull this off in three more months, right?

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Be Careful What You Say...

I've been warned by many a parent of the need to watch what you say. Children are great mimics and the one and only time you blurt out #%@$@, they're bound to say it at the top of their lungs the next time you go to church.

What I hadn't considered was how literally they might take what you say.

This weekend we went to stay with Greg's parents for a visit. On Saturday afternoon the kids and I were in their living room with his grandmother. The Ohio State / Michigan game was on and being an OSU alum, it's obvious who I was rooting for.

If you hadn't imagined, I'm a fairly passionate person. In football season, that translates to "she-who-shouts-at-TV."

At one point during the game, the kids were playing on the floor with some wooden blocks. I was sitting near them in the recliner. Michigan had the ball and one of their running backs was working his way past some of our defense. OSU just was NOT getting the job done.

As he was picking his way through I shouted "Hit him! HIT him! HIT HIM!!!!"

A few seconds later, Greg's grandma started laughing. Apparently, when I shouted that, Elnora gave me a funny look and then slugged Emmitt.

Oops.

He didn't cry. I don't think she hit him very hard. And of course I couldn't really yell at her. She did what she thought I was telling her to do. :)

You can imagine how silly I felt trying to explain to a three year old that mommy was just yelling at the men on the TV (who couldn't hear her anyway) and she didn't REALLY mean that Nora should hit Emmitt.

Ahh...the lessons we learn.

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Friday, November 16, 2007

And Then She Was Three...

It feels like it was only yesterday I was blogging about Elnora's second birthday.

They say time moves so fast when you're a parent, that you turn around and your kids are going off to school. It never feels that way when you're up with them in the middle of the night dreaming of the day you can sleep again...but then the sun rises and you're packing lunches and getting them dressed for pre-school.

How does that happen?

She turned three last weekend. (On the same day Greg turned 35..."Happy Birthday" old man!) She spent a full week walking around the house saying "birthday cake, birthday hat" over and over and over. I'm not sure what sparked the hat bit...but I imagine the cake talk was sparked by how much she loved Emmitt's Cookie Monster cupcakes.

So, I asked her what she wanted for her birthday cake.

"Me want cupcakes." (Hey, remember when we thought she'd never talk? Progress!)

Me: "What do you want on your cupcakes?"

Her: "Know...." (translation: I have no idea...)

Me: "Would you like Blues Clues? Sesame Street?"

Her: Hmmmmmm

Me: "Maybe Curious George?"

Her: "Uh huh!! Me see monkey cake!!!"

This is the point at which I had a *headdesk* moment.

NEVER suggest a cake unless you know you can make it!

I spent the next two days pouring over Flickr feeds looking for ideas. The PBS site was a big let down. They show a fairly lame looking circle cake with two cupcakes tacked on for ears. It looks NOTHING like Curious George. Then I found this absolutely amazing Curious George cake on Flickr.

Now, if you've read this blog for any length of time, or follow me over at my day job...you know I'm fairly creative.

If you've ever browsed The Lactivist Store, you know that what I possess in creativity, I completely make up for in severe lack of artistic talent. This is why all of my shirts have text based slogans on them. ;)

So, I did what any good mother would do. I pulled down the image of that cake, opened it in Photoshop, created an outline of each part of the monkey, blew them up to the proper size and printed them out on my computer to use as templates. (What, that's not how YOU make cakes?) It was a good idea in my head, but ya know...you can't really use paper templates with frosting.

So I did the best I could. I showed it to Elnora and she immediately started shouting "Monkey cake!" so I figured that was a good sign.

The thing I really do like about this cake is the cupcake aspect. If you haven't seen these yet, you'll love the idea. A few months back, I noticed our local Meijer was doing cakes made of cupcakes set next to each other and frosted as if they were a layer cake. (You simply let the frosting flow over the cracks.) So, I decided to give it a try. I simply set the cupcakes next to each other while they were still a little warm. That let me push them close together to leave as few a cracks as possible. As you can see from the picture, the "frost it like a cake" idea worked pretty well.

When it came time to eat them, you simply grab a cupcake by the base and pull it apart from the rest. Voila! No cake cutting!

Of course no birthday post would be complete without at least one shot of a kid playing with their new toys. So...introducing, Elnora's kitchen. I think this may be the most excited I ever was to give a kid a gift. I just knew she was going to love it.

She's always migrated to kitchen sets and when I spotted this one, I knew it was perfect. It's just the right size, has plenty of storage for toys and is made of wood instead of plastic. (That way, when it's done being passed along from person to person, it can be burned rather than added to a landfill.)

I can't even tell you how many imaginary meals I've eaten in the last week.

And so, on November 11th, I officially became the parent of a preschool girl rather than a toddler girl.

Three today, 18 tomorrow. Right?

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Two Years and Counting

It's funny. I've been sitting here for fifteen minutes, staring at the screen. I've titled this post three different things. I've written four opening paragraphs. I'm hoping this one takes.

It's been a rough couple of weeks. In fact, it's been more than a month since I blogged regularly. I do apologize. To be completely and utterly honest with you ('cause that's what I do here), I've been wondering if I should close this blog down. As much as I love this blog and the community of women who have formed around it, it's very difficult for me to write right now.

I've literally had a full month of "pile-on" that has kept me from writing. I've been slammed at work. My relationships with friends and family has been rocky from stress. I haven't slept for any length of time in weeks.

I mentioned that Emmitt managed to get nearly all of his remaining teeth in a two week time period. He followed that up with a week of terrible head cold and raging fever. Unfortunately, the cold moved into his ear canal and landed us at the doctor's office with a raging double ear infection this past Monday. We tried a round of antibiotics, but the infection was too strong. We had to head back in this morning after one of his ear drums ruptured. The doctor told us the other may follow suit within the next 24 hours, but we're hoping the newest round of drugs will kick in before that.

Amidst all that, I completely missed the two year anniversary of launching this blog. It's hard to believe I've been at this that long. I've written 618 posts. I've been threatened by the National Pork Board, I've made tons of friends and I've managed to annoy legions of Yo Gabba Gabba fans.

So the question is...should I keep going?

Honestly? It's really hard (and time consuming) work to keep up with every last piece of breastfeeding news. I simply can't do it anymore. It takes away from what little free time I have to spend with my family. Apart from that, with the growth of the Lactivism forum on MDS and the email lists like the Yahoo Lactivism one, there's really no need for a blog that does it.

Where does that leave me?

I still answer quite a few reader emails to try and offer up advice or input on how to go about handling lactivist issues. I'm on the Board of Advisors for the currently forming Ohio Breastfeeding Coalition. And while I'm in the process of weaning Emmitt (now there's a post idea), I'm soon to be a non-lactating mother.

That leaves me to share my thoughts and opinions on other people breastfeeding, but doing so without the personal experience to relate it to. It turns this into a pure "mommy blog" written by a breastfeeding supporter rather than an actively nursing mom.

When I launched this blog, it was a news and opinion blog. There was very little "mommy" in it. Shortly before Emmitt was born, I asked you if I should expand the horizons to talk about my own experiences...my family, my children and life as a mom. You said yes.

I'm asking for your input again. Do I let the Lactivist die a graceful death by shutting it down? Or do I carry-on? Do I allow this to shift into more of a parenting blog and less of a breastfeeding blog, or do you guys not care to hear my view points on general parenting of toddlers? ;) (I can take it, I have thick skin) Do I need to be posting daily, or will you hang around for a couple of posts a week?

I'm not looking for ego-stroking here, so please don't think this is a fishing expedition for "oh, but we'd miss you so much!" type comments. I trust you and I respect you. If it's time for me to say my goodbyes, I'd like to think I can do it with grace.

On the other hand, if you guys would like to continue to grow with me, even if that means leaving some of the breastfeeding talk behind, I'm game.

Be honest with me folks, I can take it.

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments:

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Cross Feeding or Cross Nursing Documentary

Hey guys!

Still buried here. (Emmitt has gotten four molars and three other teeth in three weeks and it's looking like the rest may bust through in the next week or so. Nothing like going from 8 teeth to all of them in a month to make a kid cranky as all get out.)

I've had two emails in the last two weeks from folks working on documentaries about breastfeeding. One is specifically about wet nursing and cross feeding, the other is simply looking to do a segment on it. Both are looking for people who have shared breast milk with others (informally, not via a milk bank) and who have nursed other babies. One is also looking to find a mom who has served as a paid wet nurse.

If any of my readers fit the bill and are open to speaking with the film crews (both are UK based, but will speak with moms outside the UK), please drop me an email with your contact information (email or phone) and I'll pass it along.

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Author: Jennifer Laycock » Comments: