Memories (light the corners of my mind)

I adore my family.

Every once in a while, something happens that makes me stop and realize how incredibly blessed I am. It happened yesterday, as a matter of fact.

I ran into my office mid-day to get something out of my purse. I pulled out a piece of paper on which Tucker had written directions. I stopped and looked at it and nearly cried.

I don't know what it was about it; it was the not-nearly-as-childlike handwriting that I seem to recall him having. It was the fact that he wrote down directions because he is so type-A that he cannot bear to think I don't know exactly where I'm going. Was it the fact that it was a young man's crayon?

Whatever it was, I thought about Tucker. I remember the day he was born like it was just yesterday. I remember sitting on my sofa in Manteo nursing him for the gazillionth time and crying because I was 35 and yet had no clue what I was doing. And then as he grew....I grew too. Not only as a mother, but as a human being. I began to see the world through his eyes.

Then along came Griffin, and I got the privilege of nursing TWO babies at a time, for an entire year. I jokingly tell people that I only did it because I was too lazy to wean the first before having the second, but the truth is...I didn't want to miss a single moment. I didn't want to take something so special away until they were ready. Was it easy? Abso-freaking-lutely not. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. But looking back, even from the day it ended, it was oh-so-worth-it. Seeing Tucker, who was ripe with jealousy, reach over and stroke his brothers face while they both nursed, and seeing the baby smile, with milk dripping down his chubby face....well, those memories are priceless.

Then the girl arrived. The boys were in love from day one. Well, today, not so much, but up until about a year ago, the girl could do no wrong in their eyes. Now, of course, she is too much of a diva to warrant a whole lotta devotion from her elder brothers. But nevertheless, she is precious and she totally completes our family, and all I can say is that I am 100% thrilled that that urologist's business card hung, undisturbed, on our refrigerator for 2 years.

I cannot believe how fast time goes. I looked at my family today as we sat in the audience to watch Tucker compete in the regional spelling bee and I was just stunned. How did it come to this, that my baby with reflux and adorable cloth diapers who nursed until he was 3, is now standing in front of a room full of people showing off his spelling prowess?

So yes, what I'm saying is that a simple page with hand written directions has the capability to reduce me to a big ole ball of tears these days. Who knows why. I could speculate all day, but at the end of it, I'm really glad that it happened, because it makes me not take my family for granted. It makes me stop and listen to them -- really listen. It makes me converse with them and cuddle with them and kiss them (when they'll let me). It makes me speak a little more gently. It makes me love a little more deeply.

It makes me the mom I hope they love to have.

Because you're worth it

I love helping women meet their breastfeeding goals. It's one thing that makes me feel incredibly lucky to do the job I do every day.

Yes, I said "the job". Because, after all, it is what it is. It's a career. A profession. As in, I have a degree in nursing and 23 years of experience and I spent oodles of money and time in order to sit for the IBCLE exam and become certified and I spend oodles of time and money to maintain my certification.....well, you get the picture.

So why is it that I get calls from women, many in tears, needing help with breastfeeding, and yet refusing to actually get the help.....because they don't want to pay for it.


Why do we place such little value in breastfeeding? In getting professional help to keep breastfeeding going? Why is it ok to spend hundreds of dollars at Babies-R-Us on gadgets and clothing and all that jazz (when all you really need is a pair of breasts and a some diapers) but the mention of paying for a lactation consult is something that you'll have to "think about" or "check with my husband first"?

Meanwhile, baby loses weight and your nipples become ragged and you start looking at that can of powdered artificial stuff and think that perhaps THAT is the way to go. Because breastfeeding was too hard.


You'd rather pay thousands of dollars to buy artificial baby milk, bottles, and nipples (and don't forget pacifiers), not to mention added doctor visits and medications (higher incidence of ear infection, respiratory infections, including RSV) and extra diapers and wipes (higher incidence of diarrhea in artifically fed babies). And that's just in your first year. If you want to think about the higher chances of childhood cancers (especially leukemia), diabetes, heart disease, and a higher rate of obesity....

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

It pains me to hear moms belittle breastfeeding. We wouldn't settle for second best for ourselves.....why should we settle for fourth best for our babies?

We are blessed to have La Leche League groups all over the world, and IBCLC's like me spend a lot of time referring moms to these volunteers who have spent time in the trenches with all manner of lactation scenarios. No doubt about it, LLL rocks.

But when it comes down to needing professional help, well, you need.....a professional. According to the IBCLE, IBCLC's are the professional standard for excellence in breastfeeding care.

I love being able to offer my expertise on a pro bono basis to moms. And I do it often. But the reality is that I have a family. Three children. A dog. A house. A minivan. And I often think, "would you go to a nurse practitioner or a nurse midwife and expect a complimentary visit each time?"

No, of course not.

I think it all goes back to breastfeeding. We don't value it as a society. We see companies like Medela backing away from the Code and looking to the dollar instead of at the relationship between a mom and her baby. We see companies lying in marketing campaigns to promote their breast milk substitutes and sucking in the consumers without a care in the world.

You might say they are laughing all the way to the bank.

My prayer is that with breastfeeding in the spotlight recently, it will empower women to be assertive in asking for help. Insisting on changes in insurance so that lactation services are covered.

Get the help you need.

To quote L''re worth it!

Medela.....shame on you.

Nearly 10 years ago when I had my first child, I thought I had to have a pump just in case. What the "in case" was I wasn't sure, but everyone I knew had a Medela Pump in Style, so I figured I had to have one, too.

Did I even need to be pumping? I was a stay at home mom at the time, and eventually realized that my fat, roly-poly boy was getting enough milk even though he wanted to nurse every hour for something like the first six months of his life, even though he had wicked reflux that scared us to death and necessitated him to take meds for a year...even though this top of the line pump would not yield more than 30cc at a time.

Fortunately for me, I was living on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and we had an amazing La Leche League group that taught me all I know about breastfeeding. (I still maintain this point, even years -- and even an IBCLC credential later!) This wonderful group of women taught me what breastfeeding was all about. I am forever indebted to them -- to Ashley (now a midwife and mother of five, who introduced me to cloth diapering as well), to Allison, to Janet, Kathy, and Pam. Thank you for answering my questions, but mostly for modeling what mothering is all about.

Now I work 5 days a week as a lactation consultant and see women day in and day out question their ability to produce enough milk for their babies. It pains me to hear them ask -- first thing -- about pumping, as if they have to pump. My answer is always "Just breastfeed. If you are going back to work or school, let's talk about pumping closer to that time. Right now just relax and enjoy your baby. Build your milk supply. Build your relationship. Just let your baby have the breast. Keep him skin to skin. Give him unlimited access to your breasts."

I say this so often that I want to have it tattooed to my forehead.


So imagine how I felt when Medela (already a breaker of the WHO Code) launched it's new bottle, the Calma. On their site they have something called a "Breastfeeding Video" -- though I caution you, it does not talk about breastfeeding. It talks about how brilliant Medela is because, you know, actual feeding at the breast doesn't always happen.

This video infuriates me on so many levels I can't even begin to put into words how I feel.

Aw, heck, let me try.

Medela feeds into the fears of women everywhere. You know:
"I'm not good enough."
"I can't tell how much he's getting."
"I don't think I'm making enough milk."
"He seems hungry all the time."
"Daddy won't be able to bond if he doesn't give a bottle."
"At least he's still getting breastmilk, right?"

When Medela was busted on the whole WHO Code violation, they admitted that they were in violation but did promise to never use their products to promote artificial milk feedings in any way.

How nice.

Medela, what about insinuating that breastfeeding is too hard?

What about making women feel anxious because there is perhaps a minute chance that they won't be able to do what their bodies were created to do?

What about giving the subtle message that breastfeeding is white, middle class, and educated? (Really. Look at the video. Could they have picked prettier people or more attractive homes? If you want to see authentic beauty, Medela, look here.)

I know that some women cannot put their babies to breast. I know that some women cannot produce enough milk. I know all about inverted and flat nipples. I know that women go back to work and have to provide milk for when they're gone. For these moms, we need pumps and bottles and supplementers, shields and shells and all manner of tools.

Medela, if you really want to promote, support, and protect breastfeeding....if you really believe it is the norm, then do the right thing. Go ahead and produce all the devices that us lactation consultants resort to when things aren't going so smoothly. Which would be the exception to the rule. Not the norm. Go ahead and make what we need, market it to us, and leave the average new mama alone. Oh wait, that would be going along with the Code, which states, "The code stipulates that there should be absolutely no promotion of breastmilk substitutes, bottles and teats to the general public."

What's wrong with that picture?

Oh, right.

Medela wouldn't be making the millions of dollars it is if they did that.

My kids recently learned the verse in the Bible that says "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Guess we know where Medela's heart is.


I've been thinking about this word a lot lately.

When I tell a new mom that a formula fed baby is 100% more likely to get ear infections and 26% more likely to get childhood leukemia, I would expect an "Oh my Lord, I have to protect my child" type response. Instead, I get "no. I don't want to do that." When I say "formula feeding causes diarrhea, allergies, obesity, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease" I still get a "I'll use formula anyway."

When I say, "If you breast feed, you will have less bleeding, a lower incidence of osteoporosis, heart disease, breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer", I am most often times met with a fake smile and a "get the heck out of my room" stare.

It's their choice, I tell myself as I leave the room.

This thinking makes no sense to me. Mothers the world over (but mostly in this, our wealthiest country) make this "choice" everyday. They are saying, blatantly, to their children "I don't care enough about you to give you what is 1000% scientifically known to protect you. Sorry."

Before I get hate mail, let me say that of course I know there are instances when a woman is unable to breastfeed. Those instances, though, are very rare. In the grand scheme of things, it is an incredibly small percentage of women. Women who are HIV+, women who are HTLV+, women with active, untreated TB, infants with galactosemia, women with untreated hypothyroidism, and some women with PCOS (though 1/3 of those women over-produce). Surgical techniques are getting better, but still a few breast reduction patients are unable to produce enough milk if the ducts have been severed. Women with insufficient mammarian glandular tissue.

So why do so many women make this "choice"?

Because they feel entitled. "It's my body", they cry. "It's my choice."

While their baby takes whatever nourishment it is offered, trusting...yes, trusting that of course mama will give me what is best for me.

Doesn't this all sound hauntingly familiar?

Ohio is presenting a new law for consideration this week. In it, it will make abortion illegal once the heartbeat of the fetus is obtainable.

This is huge. Finally, a law that will say what we have known for years.

If it has a heartbeat, it must be alive.

The pro-abortion side is up in arms, screaming about the "choice" being taken from women.

"I don't want a baby right now because I'm in school."

"I don't want to breastfeed because it will tie me down to my baby."

"I can't have a baby now. We are saving for a house."

"I can't breastfeed. I want to be able to eat and drink what I want."

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit", the Bible warns us. And yet, it's done every day.

In the name of Choice.

My Jordan Stones

As we wrap up our fourth week of backpacking through Joshua, I am getting a little tired. I find myself falling behind. Not that in my head I'm not keeping up. It's like how you lay in bed in the morning and think about getting up and running...but you never actually do it, as if by thinking about it it will make a difference.

Or am I the only one that does that?

I love Joshua chapter 4. I love the actual crossing of the Jordan, I love that God wanted each tribe to grab a stone from the Jordan and keep it for a reminder. I love how God says they hurried over. Which cracked me up because back in Chapter 3 I thought about crossing and how I'd probably be one to rush on ovah. You know, just in case.

Our pastor has been doing a six week study on Sunday mornings about the family. One of the things he has challenged us to do is begin a structured Bible study or family worship time. Last week, he asked us to share our testimonies with our kids, and have our kids (where applicable) share their testimonies with us. It was enlightening and fun! The kids had actually never heard our testimonies, and it was so cool hearing the boys tell about their salvation experience from their own perspectives. I think it was a great way to establish a habit of sharing spiritual things and thoughts with one another. Sometimes we don't actually get Jesus from our kids perspectives. We may ask them about Sunday school or Bible drill or AWANAs, but how often do we ask them what Jesus is doing in their lives, or what they've been praying about lately (or how about "ARE you praying?"). In sharing prayer requests, I am always amazed at what my 7 year old offers -- God has given him a gift of compassion for others. It is so precious to see.

Recently, our family went through a very trying time as the home we were renting was being foreclosed on. We tried to explain it to the children in simple terms: We were paying Miss Michelle but Miss Michelle wasn't paying her mortgage and so we have to move.

Tucker had apparently been pondering this for some time. He asked how long Michelle didn't pay.
Me: Well the sheriff says 8 months.
T: It sure did mess everything up for us.
Me: In a way it did, but think about it like this -- we never would have found the house we are in now if we didn't have to move out of the other one. And we love our new house!
T: yeah, I guess you're right, but still, it stinks that she didn't tell us the truth.
Me: But God planned the whole thing out for us. Isn't that cool?
T: what do you mean?
Me: we needed a house in Lafayette. The house we are in now wasn't available when we were moving. So we only needed one for a few months. God knew what was happening with Miss Michelle and put us in the place to take her house for those few months until our new house was ready for us. And remember, we to drive by our new house on accident. God planned the whole darn thing just for us!
T: Wow! That is cool!

Paul and I are pretty open about what God has done in our lives. We are both talkers, and so we tend to talk to anyone who will listen lots of people. I even find myself at work praising Jesus when a sleepy baby finally breastfeeds or a mom declares her sore nipples are feeling better! (Hey, I'm a lactation consultant, whadddya expect?)

I think by being transparent in our faith and in our lives we give others the true picture of what living a Jesus filled life is like. It isn't always pretty, and it certainly ain't never perfect, but it's real, and it's honest. Jordan stones? I carry most of 'em with me each day. My character, my conduct and my conversations are living stones that I lug around, displaying to a watching world.

Crossing My Jordan

I hate being late to anything. Ask my family. I call out the time when we're getting ready for church on Sunday or rushing to get ready for school every morning. So imagine how much I hate being late for my week 3 post from my backpacking adventure. I feel like I'm running down the trail yelling "Wait up, guys!" to my other hiking chicas, while lugging my pack on my back and being, well, slightly incredibly out of breath.

Joshua 3 finds the group ready to cross the Jordan, into the Promised Land. Finally! God gives Joshua orders, and the priests carry the ark right to the waters edge. And then they step in.

While the water, at flood stage, is still, well, there. And deep. And wet.

God says that the water stood still when they stepped in.

Can you imagine that first step? I wonder if they looked at each other quizzically? I wonder if one of them finally shrugged his shoulders and said, "Here goes!"

It took a tremendous amount of faith for those priests to step on out. And frankly, all the people following. While walking (or maybe running) across the dry land, I wonder if any of them looked to either side at the water standing high over the priests heads and thought "Dang, Susie, run a little faster!! You know, just in case..."

   /ˈfeɪθfəl/ Show Spelled[feyth-fuhl]
strict or thorough in the performance of duty: a faithful worker.
true to one's word, promises, vows, etc.
steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant: faithful friends.
reliable, trusted, or believed.
adhering or true to fact, a standard, or an original; accurate: a faithful account; a faithful copy.
Obsolete . full of faith; believing.

Is God faithful? Abso-freaking-lutely. The Israelites learned that (sadly, it took them a while.) I've learned it (sadly, it's taken me just about as long as them).

So why is it so hard for me to follow Him in some areas of my life?

I'm going to be honest. I have no trouble asking Him for direction in everything. I want to know HIS way, HIS path, HIS plan. In nearly everything.

My Jordan? It's called my checkbook. My bank account. Yes, my finances.

Gulp. *hanging head in shame and disbelief that I'm writing this down*

I know all the verses. I know His promises. I know that He is faithful and will do what He promises. I know it all. I do!

But that's where my humanity kicks in. The selfishness. The worry. The doubt. The "but I am looking at my bank statement and just can't see it" type of flat out disbelief.

I know it pains God to hear me say that. It pains me to write it, to think it, to say it. If I heard my children say that they didn't know if I'd really come through for them, that I'd really take care of them.....ouch! That would break my heart.

So there it is. It is an area I'm working on. I could rationalize and justify all day long, but really, it's just a blatant case of disobedience and not trusting God for everything. Even though He has been 100% faithful to me. Even though He is the great I AM. My Savior. My All In All.

So I'm standing on the banks of my very own Jordan, and I'm working really hard to muster up the courage to step in.

God tells me to just dip my toes in.

With house notes and school payments and baseball registration and a massive utility bill and the kids need new shoes and.....

If I just take my first step, I know in my heart He will be there, holding my hand, making sure I don't drown. Heck, I probably won't even get wet. He's that good.

So why....why is it so hard?