Fight like a Girl

Women’s Conference, Women’s Conference, let me in.

Dear Women’s Ministry/conference/Church,
Almost a year ago I signed up for a local church women’s conference. It is a fairly popular one day conference that many of the ladies go to from all different churches in my region. My mom and Aunt were attending and I was so looking forward to getting out and being blessed with them. There was only one problem. I was nursing a baby. My youngest daughter was about 6 months old at the time and exclusively breastfed. This means, she did/would not take a bottle (we tried a few times. She wasn’t having any of that) and as a young baby, she still needed to nurse frequently enough that I could not leave her for more than about 2 hours at a time. Maybe 3… but that could be pushing it. After all, nursing infants can be unpredictable. When I called to register I asked the nice girl on the phone if there was a cry room or some place I’d be able to move to if my nursing infant were to become fussy. She replied that she was sure there were places i could go but she needed to double check and would call me back. Now, I know these conferences are like vacations for us moms. We don’t bring kids. There often is no childcare. I knew my older children were not to attend and I had to find childcare arrangements for them and that was fine. but surely I could bring my nursing baby, I thought. I wouldn’t be rude or make people hear her crying. I’d slip out respectfully if she got fussy but how could a baby who still depends on their mother for their food and drink be unwelcome? Hours later I received a call from the same girl, now embarrassed letting me know that a nursing baby was not able to come. No babies. period. I knew this girl was not the decision maker on this issue and was purely the messenger of bad news. I took the news and swallowed it and she asked for my address so she could send my a free copy of the audio of the conference as an apology. I accepted this offer and hung up in disappointment. As it sunk in what had happened and the day went on I became more upset. Hurt even.

While I understand that children are not always able to be accommodated for or welcome to all events, how could my nursing infant caused me to be shut out of a women’s conference?

nursing my baby girl

nursing my baby girl

So this is what I want to tell you all. Anyone involved in church leadership or coordinating events with your religious organization-

A lot of your women are moms. I’m sure you see it all the time. You look around your congregation and think, “Surely, this is the most fertile church in the world?!” There are babies everywhere at church! Us moms are rocking them and bouncing them and shushing them and pacing your welcome areas and filling your cry rooms and checking on them in your nursery and feeding them in your nursing mothers room. We are a fertile people! Blessed. and tired. Very tired and lacking proper adult socialization. We need breaks! We need renewal. We need some time out of our homes being reminded that we are more than just dirty diaper changers and PPD battlers.

So we need your women’s conference! We need it like we need clean water to drink. We are begging for your fellowship and love and motivating message of renewal and strength.
With how many mothers there are, Many of us are breastfeeding moms. Actually about 76.9% of us U.S. moms are breastfeeding our newborns and 25% of us are still breastfeeding when our babies reach 12 months old. That’s a big chunk of your moms. And while some of us have great eaters who will switch from breast to bottle, many babies who breastfeed  refuse eat from a bottle so leaving them for hours to attend any kind of lengthy event is not an option for us.

When I turn to scripture on breastfeeding it is also evident that God is not ashamed of breastfeeding. He encourages breastfeeding and he also invited mothers and their nursing babies out to large public events-

“Joel 2:16 – Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber.”

Our nursing babies seem more than welcome to this wedding.

And while I am not anti moms leaving their babies for some time to themselves, it just is not my style. I am emotionally and hormonally bonded to my infant. When I am not with my infant, I miss them and my breast become uncomfortably full, and I even leak milk. This is all part of how we are designed to be. We are designed to be with our infants and not separated for long periods down to our core molecular makeup.
I’m not the mother who forgets my baby and can run off for awhile. “Isaiah 49:15 – Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?..

So lets face it, When nursing babes are excluded from an event, it is not babies being told not to come- it is mothers. The mothers are the ones being shut out. The mothers battling hormone changes and explosive diapers and cluster feedings from growth spurts. Sleep deprived, under-socialized, just coming out of their postpartum fog- moms. Because lets face it, God created us to make our babies our priority. Unless I’m running to the food store down the block to pick up a quick item and running straight home again- my baby is not being left home. My baby is part of me. When she is hungry, my breasts are full. When she is tired, my arms cradle her. When I go to a women’s conference, she comes with me.
So do your church a favor, show love to your nursing mothers. Show them that they matter, that they are cared about, thought about, remembered, included, and wanted with you at your church. Because we do matter.

For more Scripture on Breastfeeding: Click HereIMG_4800

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Guest Lip Tie Story: 2

Guest post by Jenny

Because my son was poked and prodded in the hospital so many times, I was reluctant to get his tongue and lip tie repaired. I had low milk supply, he had reflux, it was awful.

I decided to pay the $500 and have it fixed with a cold laser. I regret it to this day. He had already been put through so much pain in the hospital, but I was reassured that the laser correction would solve all our problems. It didn’t 😦 He still had a bad latch, my supply didn’t improve, and he still had reflux.

I regret putting him through that pain for nothing. Next time, I will wait.

Jenny is a first time mom who tried for 6 years to get pregnant. Her son was hospitalized at 2 weeks old for salmonella meningitis. Tongue and lip tie was not diagnosed until he was 4 months of age.

Guest Lip Tie Story: 1

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Upper Lip Tie

Guest Post by Laura Langham

My son and I struggled with breastfeeding from the get-go. I heard about lip and tongue ties and I suspected he had one from the very beginning, but a fellow mom assured me he didn’t.

We became dependent on a nipple shield, though I never wanted to use it in the first place. I was so desperate to make our nursing relationship last that I kept with it. After about 6-7 months, my son stopped practically gaining weight and even lost a few oz. I had a nagging feeling inside me that it was the tie I had suspected all along.

I took him to his pediatrician and he told me that my son had normal frenulum and insisted so much that I was doing something wrong and starving my child that he reported us to the local child protective services. Their investigation concluded that his claims were unfounded and that we were taking good care of our son, but it led me to some amazing IBCLCs that referred me to an ENT. The ENT’s visit finally came and the doctor confirmed what I had insisted was the problem all along—a tongue and upper lip tie.

Within 2 weeks, we had them both cut through electrocautery, and within 2 weeks, my son had started gaining more than adequate weight. The months of breastfeeding through the ties (and with the nipple shield) did a number to my milk supply because proper suction was never established, but his nursing got so much stronger and more frequent after having his ties taken care of.

Post Author, Laura Langham, with her son.

Guest post Author, Laura Langham, with her son.

About The Author:
Laura Langham is a mother to two amazing children, with one on the way, wife to her awesome husband and a friend to anyone in need.

New Jersey Vaccines

New Jersey Vaccine Exemptions- a basic break down and links for how to get more information on vaccine exemptions in New Jersey State

The first thing to understand is our NJ laws on vaccinations. We have two that merge together to make our exemptions here.

NJ Statute 26: 1A-9.1 Exemption for pupils from mandatory immunization; interference with religious rights; suspension. Provisions in the state sanitary code in implementation of this act shall provide for exemption for pupils from mandatory immunization if the parent or guardian of the pupil objects thereto in a written statement signed by the parent or guardian upon the ground that the proposed immunization interferes with the free exercise of the pupils’ religious rights. Effective Nov.11, 1974.

NJ State Constitution: Article 1 paragraph 3:  No person shall be deprived of the inestimable privilege of worshiping Almighty God in a manner agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; nor under any pretense whatever be compelled to attend any place of worship contrary to his faith and judgment….

What this means is that the parent or guardian needs to submit a written and signed letter to the school stating that immunizations interfere or are against their religious beliefs. The word *religious* must be present because NJ only has a religious exemption, not a philosophical one.

People sometimes mistakenly believe that a religious exemption means one needs to have a house of worship or religious head figure sign off on or confirm that the entire practice of thus religion is anti- vaccination. This is NOT true.
Religious exemption’s do not even require you to state your specific religion. Schools have sometimes tried to request further evidence from parents but have been discouraged from doing so. For more info Click Here.

Private schools and religious schools/organizations are not obligated to accept vaccine exemptions but sometimes, if the parent pursues it and offers the same kind of exemption letter that they submit to a public school, they will accept the exemption. Those situations are different per school/organization, though.

For more information on Vaccine options in the state of New Jersey-
New Jersey Coalition for Vaccination Choice
NJ Vaccination Support group on yahoo
National Vaccine Information Center
New Jersey Alliance For Informed Choice

The Vaccine Choice

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There are many decisions that we make as parents. We have to decide how many sweets we keep in the house, how much TV time our kids get, and we have to decide if we will be following the CDC’s vaccine schedule or use an alternative schedule.

While the majority of the public does not stop to consider their options in vaccines but follow the doctors schedule, some of us choose to question how much and how often we are willing to give our children vaccinations.
Neither route is wrong.
There are people, of course, on both sides of the argument who will vehemently argue that the other party is wrong. Either wrong for questioning the safety or practice of vaccines or wrong that the parent doesn’t do more of their own research on vaccines, it is important to state that neither option is right or wrong. It is only what is right for YOUR family and the only thing wrong is assuming your family’s method is best for every family.

Vaccinations is a touchy subject. People feel very strongly on it one way or another. It can be hard to have cool, mellow discussions on vaccines with others, especially when one is searching for more information and looking to their peers to see what they chose to do.

Families choosing to research vaccines and find studies are often left disappointed with the amount of (or lack of) well done studies that exist.

In the end the choice to vaccinate or not vaccinate does exist and is the parents to make, despite how those around feel about it.

First, All states in the US have vaccine exemptions for school children who are not vaccinated.
-All states have the standard medical exemption, which is only accessible to a child with an established, medically proven, allergy to vaccine ingredients that has been documented by the pediatrician (or other medical facility like a hospital) and the doctor can show that information to the school system.
-Most states have the option of a religious exemption. By religious, it means that vaccinating conflicts with your families personal (or religious) beliefs.
-Some states have the option of a philosophical exemption- where the reason for not vaccinating can be further removed from the “religious” aspect and more just because the parent isn’t comfortable with it or has a personal reason for not agreeing with vaccines.
It’s important to look up your specific states laws on how to register an unvaccinated (or not fully vaccinated, if doing an alternative schedule) child into school for any families planning on public school.

When thinking about doing an alternative vaccine schedule, there are multiple ways to approach the subject.
-One can choose to Fully vaccinate but administer the vaccines more spread out. Many parents are concerned about how many vaccines their child is given at one time and how that can overwhelm their tiny bodies. They instead make arrangements with their pediatrician where they only get one vaccine at an appointment and make more frequent appointments to get all the vaccines administered in the “correct” time frame still. This method is also great for those who are also watching their child for potential allergies and want to know exactly what vaccine their child is reacting to.
– A Parent may also choose to selectively vaccinate depending on issues like ingredients in the vaccine or the risk of the vaccine vs the risk of the illness it is for. For example, One parent may decide to not use any vaccines that include aborted fetal cells because of their personal discomfort or religious stance on the ingredient. Or a parent may decide to skip vaccines like rotavirus vaccine or the chickenpox vaccine because they feel the vaccine itself carries more potential problems than the illness’s it’s suppose to prevent or that it’s protection rates are not high enough to be worth exposing the child to the ingredients it contains.

– Parents may also choose to decline all vaccines, which is what we refer to as “unvaccinated”. There are just as many reasons for families to choose this option as there are families who choose it. Sometimes it’s because of ingredients in the vaccines, sometimes fear of vaccine reactions, and sometimes it’s purely because they feel a healthy natural immune system is more effective than a vaccine induced immune system.

Rarely, if ever, do families choose not to vaccinate because of autism fears. Despite how many articles and “professionals” claim that autism is the (poor) reason for not vaccinating, most families who choose not to vaccinate have reasons that have nothing to do with the risks (whether real or not) of autism.

Blaming “trends” and “lack of education”
I hear a lot of people accusing unvaccinating parents of just being sheep and blindly following other ignorant people. This is an offensive assumption and is not winning over anyone to the “vaccine team”. While there may be a small percentage of parents who follow others in not vaccinating without properly educating themselves on vaccines, illnesses, risks, benefits, studies- ect, the majority of families who choose not to vaccinate or follow an alternative vaccine schedule do not make that decision lightly or info-less. Actually, the majority have passionately and maybe borderline obsessively studied and researched before coming to a final decisions.

We know how to identify illness. We know that a dry cough, runny nose, sore throat, muscle aches, red eyes..ect could mean measles. We also know that 95% of children with polio show no symptoms and in the 4-8% of children who are symptomatic, it shows itself as a mild flu and about .1% of those cases can be the more severe paralytic form of polio. We can also tell you about 60,000 cases of polio that occurred in 1952 and that about 3,000 children died that year from it. We are not blindly following trends or uneducated. This decision weighed on us and we chose to take the path that best fit our family’s beliefs and lifestyle and felt right for us. Before assuming any nonvaccinating family chose to avoid vaccines for shallow reasons or because of blind, uneducated fear- try talking to them and opening up a conversation with them in a nonjudgmental way. Or, just accept that whatever their reasons are that it was still their legal right to make them- because in the end- whether your reasons are good or poor or based on education or following the crowd  – vaccinate or not vaccinate- the decision is still yours to make, as the parent of your child.

– Nonvaccinating families have always existed. Not vaccinating is no new trend. What has become more widespread is knowing that the family next door, or your cousin or that child in your kids class is not vaccinated, due to social media and people sharing more private information in a more public way. The unvaccinated families have always been here, though. We are not a new trend. We are now just more public, thanks to twitter and facebook and other forms of media sharing.

In Conclusion
I respect your decision, whatever it is. It is not an easy one to make and the results can be unpredictable no matter what path you choose. You can be the vaccinating parent whose child ends up with a permanent seizure disorder from the HPV vaccine or the unvaccinating parent whose child gets Pertussis (whooping cough). Or you more than likely will be the parent who chose whichever path felt right for their family and it all worked out fine and your family grew healthy and happily. Either way, it’s a major decision to make and one we should never assume others took lightly.

How NOT to use your infant carseat

It’s no secret that the misuse rate for carseats is of a skyrocketing percentage so here is some info on how an infant bucket seat and how to properly use it.

1) Every seat is different with the handlebar rules!
It once was pretty standard that all infant seats needed the carrying handle positioned back while the seat was in the car. That is now no longer the case. While some infant seats still require the bar all the way back, some seats give the option of it being in either position and some *require* the handle up forward as a rebound bar in an accident! Make sure you check your carseats specific manual on what is the safe way. Do not just assume whatever way you’ve been doing it is safe and will be effective in an accident as different seats are designed to react in different ways in an accident and have been tested with the bar in the spot required by the manufacturer.

Lamaze Via requires bar forward, against the seat of the car as a rebound bar

Lamaze Via requires bar forward, against the seat of the car as a rebound bar

2) Never use an infant seat on a shopping cart!
I know you are all tired of hearing this but it truly is not safe and is going against the manufacturers instructions. Many infant seats have that ability to “click” into a cart but that metal snapping device is not designed for a cart. It is the device that securely attaches the infant seat to it’s base and it can be damaged or worn down by  shopping carts, which will prevent it from working properly in the car. While placing an infant seat on top of the cart may not feel like the biggest crime, babies have died from this common misuse. If the infant seat absolutely needs to be used in a store put in in the body of the cart, where it is slightly more protected if the cart takes a tipping. Better yet, when able, wear your baby in a baby carrier.

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from the manual of a Graco Snugride 30

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Manual of the Lamaze Via

3) Don’t use it as an all around infant seat
I know how much we want to let the sleeping baby sleep and use that infant carrier as a way to bring the baby into any and every place but Carseats are for cars! The less you use the seat outside of the car, the better. Babies left in their seats for extended periods of time have even had their oxygen levels diminished, which can carry some extreme consequences including death.

carseathouse
4) Outgrowing an infant seat does not mean time to Forwardface!
We know that infant seats are NOT made to forward face but what not everyone realizes is that being past the infant seat stage does not mean it is time to get a forwardfacing seat. The next stage after an infant seat is a convertible seat (preferably one with a nice, high rearfacing weight!). a 12 month old has a very immature spine and the force put on his or her neck in a forward facing crash can be severe enough to cause some major life long injuries and even internal decapitation. The longer a child can rearface, the better!
See in this video (below) how the forward facing infant is violently thrown forward. Imagine how much stress that is on a neck that is not strong and able to handle any real force yet? I mean, these kids haven’t even been supporting their heads very long! Meanwhile, the rearfacing child, in the same impact, experiences very little movement. His seat takes on the impact while he stays safely cradled within it. This is what we want for our children! The best chance possible of walking away free of injury in an accident. So move into a convertible carseat that will allow your child to continue rearfacing until at LEAST 2 years old or until he meets the max weight/height restrictions of the seat.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sc2zgrVwTh4

5) Never buy or use a USED or EXPIRED carseat
This goes for ANY kind of carseat. What is wrong with a carseat from a yardsale or consignment shop? Who knows! That’s exactly the problem. We do not know the seats history, if it has ever been in an accident, if it was stored improperly, washed in a way not permitted by the manual, ect. And sure, we can ask a previous owner but how well do you know them? It is nice to believe that every owner out there is honest about their carseats condition but the fact is, THEY may not even realize that they misused the seat in a way that permanently damaged it. Expired seats can never be trusted for use because it is beyond it’s years of what it has been tested to last. Do not forget that it is just a hunk of plastic and plastic warps and distorts with time. Not to mention that harness straps wear and stretch and become less reliable with age. You do not want to trust an unknown or expired carseat with your child’s life.

6) Do not Wash the harness straps unless Manual permits it!
Most carseat manuals tell users not to wash the harness straps! That even includes very mild soaps at times. Harness straps can be deteriorated or weakened when they have outside agents and chemicals added to them. Even a natural solution like a simple Distilled White Vinegar is an acid that could do a lot of harm to the harness and keep it from holding up under the stress of an accident.

From the Orbit Baby infant seat manual

From the Orbit Baby infant seat manual

In the end, the biggest rule is to read your infant seat manual. Never assume that your last infant seat will be a reflection of your current one’s rules. The carseat is the main thing protecting your baby in a crash so properly using the seat 100% of the time gives them the best chance of never being hurt in an accident. If you need help with installation or understanding your seats manual, find a seat check or CPST in your area to help you. CLICK HERE and HERE to find a seat check near you

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-Bess Bedell/A Warrior Mom is a Safekids Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician

Dad, your job starts now

While watching some shows on huluplus, I noticed this commercial being used every commercial break. Since my focus is often on carseats, the first timeI noticed I thought, “oh, good, some ok carseat use in a commercial” (not fabulous in the snug harness department- but pretty good). The next time I saw it I saw that this commercial does a horrible thing to fathers. The job of the dad does not begin in the car. Unless, of course, that is where he conceived the baby! wink wink.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching this father get neglected and pushed into the background during his baby’s birth and first days in the hospital- here you go.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QRjdcjFoM8

So Dads, this is for you.

Dad, your fatherhood does not start with buckling your baby into the car. Not only should you be there with your wife every step of the way through her pregnancy and birth- it’s your JOB and your right to be there.
So here is my tips for Dads, who I know often get pushed into the background during birth and are an afterthought to the hospital staff during your baby’s arrival.IMG_4427

1- Talk to your spouse/ baby mama
Let her know that you want to be involved in the birth process. Yes, birth is very mom and baby focused. After all, it is very physically demanding on both of them, but you exist in this process too and deserve to be recognized. You may not even be sure what that means yet for you to be involved in the birth but that is ok and exactly why you need to speak to the pregnant mama of your baby and figure out how you two want to bring this baby into the world and how you can be part of this journey with her.004

2- Go to some prenatal appointments
I get you may not be able to be there every 4 weeks but try to make a range. An early on appointment in the first trimester to hear that heartbeat and initially meet the OB/MW. If you have questions, ask them. Don’t sit back in the corner and try to make yourself invisible. Be there and present and an active part of the discussion with mom and doctor. Also, try to make a 2nd tri appointment and a end of pregnancy appointment. You’d be surprised how different each appointment is and how different stages of pregnancy can really bring up different topics in the doctors office. Also, putting yourself out there and being involved in this way shows the staff that you are that dad who wants to be involved and active with your wife and her birth.Dadpic1

3- Be in the birth plan
Make sure you and your role in the birth are a topic in your baby mama’s birth plan! It should state that YOU are her support person and who she wants with her and near her while going through whatever her birth may bring.

Father actively involved during his wife's labor

Father actively involved during his wife’s labor

4- Consider getting a doula
I know men often get skeptical about the role of the doula and fear that she will be replacing him but that simply is not what she does. She will help make sure that you do not get shoved into the background. If your wife is going through a rough moment in her birth and you freeze up or are not sure what to do, she will suggest some ways that you can be there and help her through. Also, her presence will allow you to use the bathroom from time to time without leaving laboring mom alone.003

5- Speak up!
Unless the baby has some immediate NICU needs, do not let the hospital staff bully you into feeling like your baby is not your baby. You do not need to prove anything to them. You do not need to wait until an official release. Your baby is yours, not the nursery staff’s baby. And trust me, they sometimes like to make parents feel like they have no rights over their own baby, but you do! Tell them, you want your baby. Tell them, you insist on staying with your baby at all times or that you will be holding and helping mom with baby during the night. You are that baby’sfather and fatherhood does not wait until you leave the hospital. You are the father IN the hospital too and if you aren’t being recognized as your baby’s dad, you need to speak up.
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6. Believe in yourself
TV shows and general cultural perspective may have you believing that you are the second class parent or not as intelligent or don’t have the parental instincts you need to raise a kid. Those are lies. I know you probably weren’t given as many baby dolls to practice on as a child as your female counterpart but trust yourself. You can hold your baby and rock your baby and play with your baby and soothe your baby when they cry. Believe in yourself that you are a great father and practice great fatherhood through the entire pregnancy by being a caring and involved husband (or boyfriend/partner) to your baby mama. 🙂

You are dad!

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Thank you to all the amazing Dads who allowed me to use their photos.