Thursday, August 9, 2007

conference impressions

The conference already seems so far away. I am very glad that I was able to go and feel especially lucky that my mother was willing to come along and entertain Stefan. I think that the sessions that affected me the most were the Spirited Child and Anatomy of the Lactating Breast ones. I keep thinking of the ultrasound videos from Peter Hartmann's talk. I definitely want to look at the textbook that he is working on once it is out.

I am also looking forward to our area conference. Conferences are energizing!

Friday, July 27, 2007

home safe and sound

We're back! We arrived pretty late Monday night. Mom slept over so she wouldn't have to do the long drive to her house after traveling all day. Niels wanted to sleep in my bedroom so she got to sleep in his bed, which is much more comfortable than the foldout couch, I think.

Adjusting back to post-conference life is always a challenge. Those executive level rooms really spoiled me, I think. I miss the maid service and prepared breakfasts, of course, but also the free bottles of water and evening chocolates!

Speaking of chocolates, I never located anyone else in the chocolate exchange and ended up just giving mine away to people who sat near me at sessions. I left the remaining pieces in the Tech Room for the Tech Leaders to enjoy. They worked hard!

A couple of days ago I ordered Raising Your Spirited Child, the accompanying workbook and Sleepless in America, which is on clearance at Amazon, if anyone has been thinking about getting it. They all arrived today. I definitely need to read them all and put them into practice with my spirited boys!

I'm very glad that we went, and that we didn't get sick, like so many others seemed to. I am looking forward to our Area conference in October.

Monday, July 23, 2007

anatomy of the lactating breast

Peter Hartmann's lecture after the luncheon was amazing. The ultrasounds of nursing babies are incredible to see. When I get home I will check for some links to post. I believe he has some of his videos online.

What I really liked was his visual demo of what it's like to insist that a baby nurse every three hours instead of every one. His lab has determined that each milk ejection reflex brings 35mls of milk to the baby. If a baby is 7kg and an adult is 70 kg, 35ml to a baby is like 355 mls to an adult, or one can of Coke. Now imagine drinking three cans of Coke every three hours rather than drinking one can per hour!

And now, I need to call the car company and make sure that we are getting picked up when I think we are and then we'll head off to the airport and head home!

Last night I was trying to remember how many days we've been here. It's amazing how much information I've absorbed (hopefully!) in the past three days. It seems like such a long time and it's really not all that much. Whew!

chemicals in milk

This morning's session was entitled "Environmental Chemicals in Breastmilk." I learned a few things about which chemicals have declining amounts in milk (DDT, for example) and which do not: PBDEs, the flame retardants that are still in use today. The most useful part for me, though, will be the statments from various epidemiological studies that the speaker had in her slides about the levels of chemicals vs the other benefits of breastmilk. One statement came from a document on the WHO site entitled Fourth WHO-Coordinated Survey of Human Milk for Persistent Organic Pollutants in Cooperation with UNEP. The statement is as follows (I included their recommendation as well):

WHO can now say with full confidence that breastfeeding reduces child mortality and has health benefits that extend into adulthood. On a population basis, exclusive breastfeeding for six months is the recommended feeding mode for the vast majority of infants, followed by continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary foods for up to two years or beyond.

Even though there are environmental chemicals in milk, studies still find benefits of breastmilk to infants and mothers. (Although, there is that "benefits" language again. We won't talk about that again.)

I'm off to try to get Stefan to nap (maybe?) and then to my last session, the CE lunch with Peter Hartmann about the anatomy of the nursing breast. I think I'll have a chance for one last post after that, before we head off to the airport.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

today's sessions

My morning session was Raising Your Spirited Child with Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. I hadn't actually registered for this one and was debating getting up to be in a session by 8am at all. I'm so glad I did! I have listened to two of her books (Raising Your Spirited Child and Kids, Parents and Power Struggles) on audiobook but seeing her in person was so rewarding! I learned a lot about my kids, about myself and even about my relationship with my husband. I think I need to go back and listen to her books again and try to put more of it into practice with both of my kids. My favorite thing that she said was: Persistence is the number one predictor of future success. Both of my kids are definitely persistent. I need to find a way to work with it so that they can use it to their advantage in the future.

Next, I attended a session post-partum depression with Kathleen Kendall-Tacket. I knew I wanted to see her speak because I saw her at our Area conference a few years ago, on a totally unrelated topic. She presented studies about how inflammation causes depression. It was very interesting!

The last session was the CE lunch with Linda Smith. She is the one who got me riled up about birth. My last post was more about breastfeeding when I initially composed it in my head but hearing her talk about birth got my adrenaline pumping. Linda Smith is definitely one of my favorite speakers. She's an uppity woman, and I mean that in the best possible way!

Now, I'm heading out for a bit with my mom and Stefan and then I think we're going to get dinner and try to have an early night. We actually leave tomorrow, early evening, so we have to check out in the morning, before I got to a session and then lunch and then, hopefully we can get to the airport smoothly.

big thoughts on breastfeeding

Last night as I was nursing Stefan down to sleep I started to wonder what is it that invigorates me about coming to a conference. I think the introduction to the Jack Newman book that I bought summed it up for me: breastfeeding is not better breastfeeding is biologically normal. Breastfeeding is what our species is meant to do. I could say the same thing about natural birth. In fact, I will! Natural birth is biologically normal.

There are, of course, cultural factors that affect both birth and breastfeeding. For breastfeeding we have a culture where breastfeeding moms get kicked off of planes, we have a society that makes it difficult for mothers to actually choose to be home with their babies more than a few weeks after birth, we have a medical system that encourages birth interventions which do affect breastfeeding relationships. All of that changes how women nurse and birth, but that doesn't change the facts. The fact is that breastfeeding is biologically normal. Babies are born with stomachs built for digesting breastmilk. Breasts are made to make milk. Mom's hormones make her want to hold and be near her baby.

Formula wants to be breastmilk. Every "improvement" they make to formula is to make it more like breastmilk. It is a tool to prevent babies from starving but it is not equal to breastmilk. It can't be. There is no way that science can duplicate the wonderful substance that is breastmilk. Just no way. That doesn't mean that women whose breastfeeding relationships are sabotaged are bad mothers. It does mean that the medical establishment often doesn't give women full and correct information and does things to them during birth that a woman might not consent to if she knew what it meant for her breastfeeding relationship.

Okay, I'm done with my soapbox. I just wanted to remind myself (and perhaps the few of you reading this) that there are some things up for debate, but the biologically appropriate behavior of our species is not one of them. Humans are mammals, humans make milk, human babies need to be carried and nursed and cuddled!

Saturday, July 21, 2007


I meant to post about slings, since last conference I was very talkative about them and even bought one. There are fewer ring slings this time, more wraps and neither of the types that my group sells (Maya Wrap and Zolowear). I was actually tempted to bid on a wrap in the silent auction, but I held back. My baby is now 18 months old. I mostly carry him on my back, which I do a lot, but I can't imagine wanting to carry him anywhere but my back or my hip, I certainly can't justify buying a wrap for that. Right? RIGHT!

I have been looking around at everyone else's slings and beautiful carriers. It's very cool to see them all. I am also seeing tons of Ergo Carriers. So many cuddled babies. It warms the heart.


My session this afternoon was on discipline. I left after a half an hour. I think that reflects more on me than on the session itself. The speaker was talking about how parents often give their children too many choices too soon and then become more strict as the children get older. That didn't sit well with me, because I think I've made that mistake already with my older child and I'm not sure now how to fix it. I suppose I should have stayed in the session to find out. I just couldn't though. I should probably spend some time thinking about what that means about me.

Instead, I went to the exhibition hall and the bookstore. I bought Hidden Messages by Elizabeth Pantley. I actually think this book might help me with the above problem, as soons as I find the time to read it. I also got The Latch by Jack Newman because I feel like I could use more help identifying latch issues and helping moms fix them.

mother-baby togetherness

My co-leader has a laptop and paid for a wireless connection so I am posting from our Area gathering.

I attended the CE luncheon with Nils Bergman on Mother-Baby togetherness and kangaroo care. At lot of his points about brain development and the mother being the baby's habitat, providing food, warmth, air, contact and protection were similar to McKenna's discussion of the mother's body being the context for the baby. These two talks were interesting to hear back-to-back. The boiled down slide that he posted that I think sums it up said:

skin-to-skin -> breastfeeding -> attachment -> regulation -> well-being

I had to sneak out early because I had brought Stefan to the beginning of the lunch and then handed him off to my mother around 1:30 and he looked so sad when I left that I wanted to check that he had napped. He hadn't, of course, so he's here at the gathering with me. Hopefully he'll nap after this while I attend my last session of the day.

co-sleeping and breastfeeding

I attended a session with James McKenna this morning on breastfeeding and safe co-sleeping that was very informative. I don't have time at the moment to make a long post I just wanted to post a couple of quotes:

There is no baby, there is only a baby and a someone.

Nothing a baby can or cannot do makes sense, except in light of the mother's body.

Needless to say, I really enjoyed his talk and learned a lot about the science of bedsharing studies. I hope to have time to post more later!

Friday, July 20, 2007

we're here!

We arrived late last night, after a delayed, but otherwise uneventful day of travel. We had a bit of a late night, but Stefan seems to be dealing with it okay. This time, I reserved one of the executive suite rooms so we got a nice continental breakfast. We then headed down to the conference area to register. While walking around, checking out the location of the Tech Room, I was recorded for a conference podcast. There is also a picture of me on the Tech Room Blog.

After that, we headed out to the Shedd Aquarium, which was very nice. Stefan really enjoyed himself. I think our favorite part was the Beluga Whale tank, including a 1-year-old calf! Very nice.

I have had one little "oops" moment. We are leaving Monday evening and are going to have to catch our ride to the airport at 5, the time the last session ends. I might be able to attend some of it if I can find some time earlier in the day to get ready to go. I hope it works it. Well, it will have to!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

still packing

It's weird, since I'm "only" traveling with the toddler and not my older child as well, I feel like I can pack pretty light. Looking at the pile I'm taking makes me feel like I'm forgetting something, or a lot of somethings. I'm usually in charge of packing for everyone around here.

The only way in which I'm not packing light is shoes. I always take too many shoes. You never know what shoes you'll want to wear, though, at least, I don't!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


I think I have my clothes situation all nailed down. I realized that I was panicking unnecessarily, it's only two days, really. I did buy myself a new top today, but it was on sale and I like it anyway. My designated "hotel sweater" is currently drying, my favorite capris, for travel and the non-conference days are in the washer, all is well. Oh, and I picked up some See's truffles at the mall today. Walking into that store was deadly! It smelled so good in there! Luckily they gave me a sample, so I didn't have to buy something for myself while I was there.

Now, I just need to figure out what I need in my carry-on bag to keep Stefan entertained for four hours. Hopefully he'll nurse and nap for a bit of the flight, but we don't have a seat for him so how that is going to happen will be interesting. I should definitely pack a sling in my carry-on!

I can't believe the conference is so soon! One of my co-leaders is actually already there, or at least on her way. I distinctly remember arriving in DC for the last conference, two years ago! Time flies when you're having fun, or are a mother, or both!

things to do on Friday

I am not sure now why I decided we should fly in on Thursday, but we did. So we have a free day in Chicago because the conference doesn't really start until the evening. A friend of mine who used to live there recommended the Shedd Aquarium, so I looked it up and it's only 4 blocks from the hotel! Lake Michigan is also very close by and has beaches. Fish and water, Stefan should be quite happy.

talking with Niels

I had a conversation today with my 5-year-old son, Niels, about the fact that Mama will be away for five days. The longest that Niels and I have been apart is overnight and the last time that happened was before his brother, Stefan, was born. Stefan will be 18 months this week. I told him that I was going away with Stefan and Grandmom and that he'd spend five whole days alone with Papa and that Papa would take him to his gym class and a friend's birthday party and other stuff. He looked at me and said, "will he take me to kindergarten?" School doesn't start for a month. Five days must sound like an eternity when you're 5 years old.

I am actually hoping that this break does him some good. He is into LEGO and building intricate creations these days which his brother, of course, destroys. It might do Niels some good to have a few days when he knows that his race car/boat/fire truck won't get broken. I think Stefan will miss him, and Papa. Hopefully Grandmom will keep Stefan well entertained!

Monday, July 9, 2007


My shiny new Google account in the New Blogger wouldn't let me post on this blog. I'd say that's why I haven't posted in six weeks, but that would be a cop out. I'm sort of in denial about everything I have to do. I am excited about the conference and definitely looking forward to it, I just hate all the little details of travel, especially with a toddler.

I finally called the Hilton today and canceled our reservation for the night of the 23rd, since we are now leaving on that day. I also emailed the conference registration to try to change my spouse registration to my mother, since she is coming and Erik is not. I also reserved spots on the shuttle from the airport and decided, finally, to bring the car seat. I was trying to get away without it but I think it's worth it to lug it through the airport so we don't have to take public transportation from the airport to the hotel. It didn't sound like it would be easy with all of our luggage.

The last thing I have to do is figure out what to wear. At the last conference I agonized over what to bring but I was three months pregnant and nothing I owned fit me. Somehow, it's not any easier this time. I just don't have very many non-casual clothes. I'll figure out something, though. I'll be skipping any very dressy events though, that is for certain.

Now, back to the important decisions: chocolate! Shelly voted for See's, which I think is a great idea. I need to go to the mall to return something and I can pick up a box while I'm there.

Just nine days until I leave for Chicago! Time flies!

Monday, May 21, 2007

drawing near and chocolate info

I feel like I am much less worried about this conference. I'm not sure why. I suspect it will be much more challenging to attend sessions with an 18-month-old who still naps with only his Grandmom than it was to attend with a 3-year-old who didn't nap and had his Papa to entertain him. I am glad that we decided that my husband and older son will stay home. If they could go off alone I think it would have been fun for them but having the wee one tag along makes everything much more difficult.

We've eaten out at restaurants twice this week with him. That made me a little anxious about the food situation at the conference. I hope we will be able to find family friendly places to eat. Places where it's already loud and they don't mind too much if he throws all the silverware on the floor. What am I getting myself into??

For Leaders reading this, the information about the chocolate swap is in the wiki for the IConf CN discussion. (Non-Leaders reading this will be totally baffled by that sentence, I assume. The CN is the online and email discussion area that is open only to LLL Leaders.) Shelly, as someone who used to live in this area, any requests? I'll certainly bring some to the Tech Room when I come to post to this blog.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

tickets booked

I bought airline tickets a couple of days ago. No turning back now! I was was able to find a direct flight from the airport closer to my house for about $100 less than I was seeing about a month ago. Crazy airline pricing. We're flying in on Thursday and leaving on Monday. I originally reserved the room through the Tuesday. I don't know if I should just cancel it or ask around if anyone needs a room that night. I suppose I should ask the hotel if I can transfer the room for one night.

I signed up for the chocolate swap this time around. I need to find a place to buy a big bag of small Scharffen Berger squares. The more obvious choice would be Ghirardelli but Scharffen Berger is better, in my humble opinion!

Monday, April 23, 2007

preparing for the conference

I am not at all ready for the conference yet. That shouldn't be surprising, since it is only April. I do need to get plane tickets soon though. I actually tried to buy them a couple of weeks ago and thought I had purchased them but then something went haywire with the website I was ordering through and they didn't get ordered. By the time I realized it the price of each ticket had gone up by $200! D'oh! I'm keeping and eye on tickets so that hopefully the price will go down again. Wish me luck.

I expect to have a very differnt experience than I did last time. Then, I was pregnant and travelled with my husband and then three-year-old son to a city that I lived in for six years. This time, I'm taking my 18-month-old son and my mother to watch him and leaving my husband and soon-to-be five-year-old son at home. This will be the longest I've been away from Niels, my older boy, in his entire life. That alone will be weird!

I'm hoping that Stefan, my toddler, cooperates with his napping schedule and lets me participates in sessions. I don't expect to get to go to every session I requested on my registration. We'll see!