Breastfeeding Father Should Be Allowed to Become La Leche Leader

Trevor, a 27-year-old transgender father and stay-at-home dad in Canada, was grateful that La Leche League helped him breastfeed after he gave birth to his first child last year. Now he wants to pay that support forward, but the group won’t let him, according to a report on Today Moms.

The breast-feeding advocacy organization told him via a letter that he posted on his blog (milkjunkies.net) that only a mother who has breast-fed a baby is allowed to become to
La Leche League leader, reports Lisa Flam. In other words, thanks, but no thanks, Trevor.

Say what?

New moms are under tremendous pressure to breastfeed, so how can the largest group devoted to promoting breastfeeding deny an experienced, passionate person the opportunity to help and support moms who are trying to become successful nursers? It just doesn’t make any sense.

In fact, Trevor is probably the group’s best argument that anyone can breastfeed.

Furthermore, Trevor’s a  particularly valuable resource for moms who are struggling to nurse, because it couldn’t have been easy for him to do it either. After all, it’s annoying when you’re struggling to learn how to do something and the person who’s teaching you how to do it makes it look (or seem) effortless–or who doesn’t have a story of legitimate struggle.

And surely it hasn’t been easy for Trevor. He was born with female anatomy and although he took appearance-altering testosterone and underwent surgery to remove most of his breast tissue, he kept his female reproductive system.

After reading Trevor’s enthusiastic remarks about breastfeeding I almost wished I could nurse Mason. Then I thought of Mason’s vampire-like incisors and suddenly felt fine sticking to the sippy cup.

Not surprisingly Trevor’s story has created a firestorm and now La Leche League policymakers say they’re reviewing the case and figuring out next steps, Flam notes.

Let me make it simple for you, ladies: Allow Trevor to volunteer for your organization. Value him, and every other person, who is willing to work hard on behalf of your cause.

Photo: Dad and baby via Ana Blazic Pavlovic/Shutterstock.com

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Mason’s Second Birthday Party & Not Keeping Up With the Joneses

Mason turned 2 yesterday and we celebrated with a cookout. It was very low-key, especially by New York standards, where pricey entertainment, a giant guest list, and catered food isn’t at all unusual.

We reserved the rooftop of our apartment building, and decorated it with a “mod monkey” theme inspired by Mason’s love of the stuffed monkey Chris adored when he was Bug’s age. In fact, it’s the only toy my quirky kid will allow in his crib at night, and he always makes sure that I cover “Monkey” up when I tuck him in.

I ordered all of the decorations, tableware, and favors online. My father-in-law hung clusters of balloons from the awning over the picnic table, and my mother-in-law put together the cute little centerpiece. I hung balloons and my brother-in-law’s girlfriend dressed things up with streamers.

The food was fresh and local. Chris grilled sliders and brats, while I made fruit salad, heirloom tomato salad, and red cole slaw. We served a bunch of different types of drinks (beer, wine, seltzer, soda, and juice boxes), and had the requisite goldfish crackers. Dessert was chocolate and vanilla cupcakes that I made from a mix decorated with rainbow sprinkles.

I didn’t hire fancy entertainment, I decided Mason was too young to really get a magician or whatever. Instead, the boys played with beach balls, toy cars, and bubbles–most of which came from our local dollar store. Our thinking was that new toys Mason had never played with would be easier for him to share than his beloved playthings (which stayed downstairs in our apartment). Our plan worked! The boys had a blast, and we didn’t have any major meltdowns.

The moms chilled out, eating and chatting (my father-in-law took on kid duty, which was awesome). At one point I looked around and felt so grateful to be surrounded by so many wonderful people who also love Mason. My MIL and FIL had flown in from out of town for the occasion. Then there was my BIL and his girlfriend (who are local); two LIC Mamas, Diane and Kerry, and their families; Katherine with her husband Eric and their darling twin girls, Kay and Brooke; and Aesook with her husband Henry and son Logan, a favorite classmate of Mason’s. Some neighbors whom we adore stopped by as well.

I had stressed endlessly about my simple approach; at one point, in the beginning of our party planning efforts, Chris had to remind me that we didn’t need to go overboard for our 2-year-old’s birthday party, and I’m thankful he was able to keep me focused. I find it embarrassingly easy to get swept up in what other moms think and say, and, I lose perspective on what works for us as a family. In the end, Mason clearly had a blast–and I wouldn’t change a thing about the party we had for him.

Have you found yourself in a situation recently where you’ve felt pressure to “keep up with the Joneses”? Dish with me!

 

Rude Comments Other Moms Make: "Your Son is So White, I Feel Sorry for Him!"

Bad mommy moment: I forgot to put sunscreen on Mason before we left the house this morning. He goes to the park every afternoon with his class, and as I was walking to lunch earlier today, I was panicking that he’d get a sunburn. (It is sweltering out!) Then I remembered his teacher telling me that she puts sunscreen on the kids before they go out. Hopefully she was telling me the truth and he won’t come home with a burn.

I relaxed a little and then suddenly remembered a conversation that I had with another mom recently at a friend’s party. Now I’m not so relaxed. It was so unimaginably rude, I just have to share:

Other mom: Your son is so white, I feel sorry for him! He must get sunburned the minute he steps outside.

Me: Nope, we just put sunscreen on him before we go out and he’s just fine.

Other mom: Really? I can’t believe it. He’s just so white!

Me: Well, he’s been playing outside the whole time we’ve been here, and, look–no sunburn!

Other mom: Huh (totally amazed)

Meanwhile this woman, who I had only met about an hour earlier, is totally ignoring her kids while she’s picking on mine. Her nine-month-old is perched precariously in the opening of a sliding glass door chewing on what looks suspiciously like a barillo pad, and her three-year-old is throwing sand at a group of younger kids. Hmmm.

It baffles me that moms pick on other people’s kids. In this case, Mason is fair complected–so are his parents, creamy skin runs in the family on both sides. (See how his skin matches mine in the pic above?) On the upside, he has beautiful skin.

And it’s not just strangers who are rude.

In fact, I was visiting a friend in another city recently and she managed to insult Mason three times in about 10 seconds (“His skin looks translucent!” “He’s so skinny he looks emaciated!” “He has the face of an old man, it’s so weird!”). The last comment was in reference to how much he looks like Chris, but Chris doesn’t look like an old man, so I didn’t get it. Anyway, I ignored her, hoping that she didn’t realize what she was saying. But still, WTF.

I know you know what I’m talking about. I see it happen all the time to other moms, at the playground, in the local coffee shop, standing in line at the grocery store. Any moments of rudeness you care to share?

Photo by Adriana Casey

Moms: Let's Celebrate Marissa Mayer Instead of Picking Her Apart

I’m in awe of Marissa Mayer. In case you haven’t heard, she’s the new CEO of Yahoo, one of the most powerful technology companies in the world. There are few high-powered women in technology, aside from Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, and Mayer has scored the coveted role at only 37 years old. Her achievement is epic, and so is the responsibility that comes with the job: She’s not only going to run Yahoo, she’s tasked with saving it.

Turns out the new CEO and former Google executive also happens to be pregnant with her first child–and shortly after Yahoo announced her appointment, she revealed that she’s essentially going to skip maternity leave. “My maternity leave will be a few weeks long and I’ll work throughout it.”

Queue the judgey moms. According to a Today Show poll, 89 percent of respondents think that she’s making a mistake.

But how can we possibly say that before she even has a chance to do her thing?  Now is the time to rally around her and celebrate her bravery. She’s taking on a monumental challenge, and indeed the opportunity of a lifetime, at a time that even she would admit isn’t ideal for her personally. Swollen ankles aren’t exactly a confidence builder.

True, she’s never gone through the hell miracle of childbirth. Or recovered from it. She’s never had to breastfeed. She’s never stayed up all night with a screaming baby. But, c’mon people, she’s not stupid. Obviously she will surround herself with lots of help. In fact, I’m betting she’ll do pretty much whatever she needs to do to set herself up for success–both as a mother and as a CEO.

It will be incredibly hard, and while I can’t imagine making the same choice myself, I’m not her. Nobody has ever approached me to run a tech giant, nor would I be equipped to do the job at this point in my life. So how can I possibly judge her for her decisions? How can you?

Instead of judging Marissa Mayer, and using her achievement as an excuse to rekindle the debate about whether women can have it all, why don’t we sit back and watch her work? I’m betting she’ll show us some magic–and probably teach us all a thing or two.

Photo: Google Plus

No, I'm Not Pregnant, But Thanks for Asking!

A few weeks ago I saw a distraught post from a neighbor and fellow mom on Facebook. She had been working hard to lose her baby weight, and another mom had just congratulated her at the playground for being pregnant with baby #2. Catch is, she wasn’t. And now she felt awful about herself.

WTF? I was so disgusted that anyone, especially another mom, would be so thoughtless.

I’ve seen this mom a number of times recently, and I never once suspected that she was expecting. But even if I did, I’d never actually ask someone if they were pregnant. Bloating happens. That’s why we all have fat jeans in our closets.

Then, last Friday, the same thing happened to me.

Chris and I were walking up the street to our apartment. I was carrying Mason (similar to the way I carried him over Memorial Day Weekend, left) and we were all laughing,  in a good mood because it was the weekend and Bug had a fun new toy to play with.

Suddenly some random women passes us and yells: “You shouldn’t be carrying him!”

Startled, I stopped walking and asked “Why?” I know–I shouldn’t engage with randoms on the street, but I was just so caught off guard.

“You’ve got a baby, don’t you?” she demanded.

Horrified, I responded that no, I did not.

Her reply? “Oh.” And she kept on walking, totally unapologetic for her mistake. As if we had just had a quick exchange about the weather.

Now I was the one who was devastated. I hate to admit that her comment ruined my night, but it did. Despite countless hours of therapy I still care way too much about what other people say. It sucks.

Chris spent the rest of the walk to our apartment insisting that I looked great, to ignore the rude stranger, but I was just so mortified! I’m not stick skinny, and I was admittedly looking a little bloated, but I don’t think I look knocked up.

I sent an emergency email to my trainer, and then started texting about the horrifying encounter to a few close girlfriends. Of course each one jumped to my defense, slowly rebuilding my confidence. (That’s the flip side of putting too much stock in what other people say; you feel built up as quickly as you feel torn down.)

I’ve been sucking in my stomach ever since and glancing at my profile every time I walk past a window. Must hit the gym lots this week.

“I bet you hope your next baby is a girl!”

People have been overly interested in my uterus since Chris and I got engaged a decade ago. The longer we were married without children, the more persistent they became about our reproductive plans. We held our ground and waited until we had been married for seven years before we tried for Mason, and luckily we were able to get pregnant pretty quickly.

Nine months later, we had a healthy boy who instantly became the love of our lives. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. I had wished for a healthy baby, but I secretly longed for a boy and was elated when I learned we were having one at our 20-week ultrasound.

Mason will be two in August, and there seems to be a renewed interest in my reproductive future, and not just by the people I know. I’m constantly hearing, When are you having another one? from random people: the guy at the deli while I’m paying for a cup of coffee, the taxi driver taking us into the city on a rainy morning, my friend’s nanny as I admire her new baby, and even the super lazy doorman who never actually opens the door for me (even when I’m loaded down with a stroller and six bags).

It’s a question I constantly ask myself, and couldn’t answer with any certainty until recently.

When I had my breast cancer scare in February, my doctor mentioned that depending on my tests results, she might recommend that I have additional children immediately so that I could begin a more aggressive treatment plan. I panicked and cried to Chris that I wanted another baby but just wasn’t ready yet. Luckily my doctor never had to go there, and I learned that now is not quite the time for us to add to our family.

But being more clear on where I stand with the second baby question doesn’t make it less annoying when someone pries. Yesterday a neighbor put an entirely new (and more obnoxious) spin on it. We were both waiting in the lobby of our building for the elevator and exchanging small talk about our kids. Of course she asked The Question. I shrugged and gave a non-committal, I’m sure I’ll have another one at some point! Her response? “I bet you hope your next baby is a girl!”

Wait, what? Was she kidding?

Apparently not. Despite my shock I managed to smile and say that I loved having a son and would be thrilled to have another. “Really? she asked. “You don’t want a girl? Wow, I’m surprised!”  Um, so was I, but for an entirely different reason.

I flashed back to a conversation I had with AP, the author of the blog I Love You More Than Carrots, last winter at BlissDom. She’s expecting her second boy this month and was startled when a woman at the conference asked her whether she was planning on trying for a third baby in hopes that she’d conceive a girl. I was flabbergasted when she shared that encounter with me, and now I know how she felt.

I just don’t get it. Are these people suggesting that boys are somehow inferior to girls? I’m all for girl power, but c’mon! Why is it just assumed that every woman wants a daughter? And do people actually think that if you have sons instead of daughters your family (or life?) is somehow lacking?

Photo: Baby after a bath via Artpose Adam Borkowski/Shutterstock.com

I'm Mom Enough Not to Be an Attachment Parent

I’m home on my couch, in sweats, with my chest covered in bandages and a skin tight sports bra, following my lumpectomy for a precancerous breast mass yesterday. I had planned on leaving my computer off and relaxing with an icepack all day, but after I saw the Today Show this morning, I had to fire it up and blog. The segment with Dr. William Sears, 72, and Jamie Grumet, 26, who was photographed nursing her three-year-old son Aram on the cover of TIME magazine, totally pissed me off.

To be clear, I’m not riled up that Grumet is nursing a preschooler. I agreed with Charlotte when she told Violet on Private Practice two seasons ago that, “What you want to do with your boobs is your business.” (See the latest post on Love & Diapers for more perspective from a breastfeeding mom.) If Grumet, who was breastfed until she was six-years-old, thinks that nursing her older son is the way to go, so be it. I momentarily fantasized about nursing my 20-month-old when I learned that I was still producing breastmilk, but it’s just not my style.

What irritates me is the notion that moms who practice attachment parenting, in which they carry a child in a sling everywhere they go, breastfeed into toddlerhood, share their bed with their child, and attend to their child’s every cry–are somehow better than moms who don’t (as suggested by the headline on the magazine’s cover, “Are You Mom Enough?). And that kids who are parented in this way are somehow superior. Dr. Sears, who pioneered this extreme style of parenting, even goes so far as to suggest that attachment parenting prevents bullying.

“I’ve never yet seen an attachment-parented baby who’s become a school bully,” he said on the Today Show. “If you were on an island, and you had no mother-in-laws, no psychologists, no doctors around, no experts, this is what you would naturally and instinctively do…”

The bully statement is impossible for him to prove. In fact, one of his former patients just might be a bully now. I imagine that he’s seen thousands of patients in his career given his age, and I can’t believe that he’s followed every single one into adulthood.

And the island comment? I just don’t buy it. If we lived on an island, I wouldn’t haul Mason around in a sling all day–I’d encourage him to explore our surroundings and learn. I’d make every effort to protect him against dangers, just like we do at home by baby-proofing our apartment, but I’d want him to develop independence and curiosity, not cling to me all day. Part of being a healthy, happy person is being self-reliant, which he can’t learn if I do everything for him. The ultimate goal of parenting, I think, is to foster independence and instill an understanding in your child that you’ll be there for him, no matter what.

I also agree with psychotherapist Robi Ludwig’s take on attachment parenting, which she shared as part of the segment.  “When you give a child the feeling that the whole world revolves around them, it’s not good training for the real world,” she said. “The whole world doesn’t revolve around anybody.”

Since I’ve become a mom, I’ve tried to be less judgmental, and I think I’ve succeeded in some ways.  But there are certain issues that I can’t be neutral on–and this is one of them. Are you pro-attachment parenting, or against it? Share your thoughts here.