Swim Suit Season

Tis the season for sunshine and swimming. But before I get to enjoy summer, I need a new bathing suit. It’s been years since I purchased a new one and figured this season’s bright colors would be a nice refresher to my wardrobe as I enjoy splash-splashing.

That’s all? You don’t want to try on more, Jared asked on a recent afternoon as we took turns holding Baby Girl and trying on suits.

No. I remember why I hate bathing suit shopping. It always make me feel fat and now my boobs are down to my knees, I told him.

Last summer, of course, I was pregnant and was so happy to be cooled down that I didn’t care what I looked like as I luxuriated in the river or soaked my feet in the kiddie pool.

Since having Baby Girl, I thought I was making headway on maintaining a positive body image and found myself cheering on women posting scathing comments about the new “dad bod” and women who share images of their stretch-marked selves.

When shopping, though, I realized I’m not as comfortable in my own skin as I thought I had become.

Do you want to go anywhere else, Jared asked.

No. I just want to go home. I’m exhausted and now I feel fat, I said.

You’re not, he said. Remember, you’re still breastfeeding Baby Girl. You make milk. That’s your super power.

Stop it. You’re going to make me cry.

Are you laughing?

No. I’m totally crying, I said, wiping tears off my face.

But I didn’t feel fat anymore.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

As I scroll through my Facebook newsfeed, I see picture after picture of smiling babies and children.

That is not the picture I have to post. Instead, it is of an 8-month-old screaming so vehemently that we left church early and scurried home.

Normally, I would have fed her at church and she would have calmed down and I would have had a chance to hear part of the sermon.

At the risk of sounding petulant, today, a day to celebrate me, I wore a dress I can’t breastfeed in just because it makes me feel pretty. I knew I was taking a chance, but I fed her before we left and church is only an hour and a half.

Baby Girl missed nap, too.

Hence, the combination of factors that led to a hysterically upset child and me, alternately laughing and crying, walking home as quickly as possible as people out and about curiously watched the spectacle that was us.

As soon as we walked into our house, the tears stopped. She ate and fell asleep cradled in my arms. Peaceful and beautiful.

THIS is motherhood.

Hectic, demanding, frustrating, emotionally and physically exhausting.

And then a moment of tranquility as she sleeps. And then a moment when her smile makes my heart burst. And then a moment of determination when I think I can’t give any more of myself and I do and am rewarded with another of her smiles that gives a piece back to me.

THIS is motherhood.

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Missoula Baby Bistro breastfeeding support group

Going back to work after having a baby can be difficult emotionally and logistically. Toss breastfeeding in and moms not only have to worry about when to drop off and pick up their kiddos but when to pump so their kiddos have a supply of milk when they’re not around to give it to them from the source.

So where to look for support and resources? The Missoula Baby Bistro is a good place to hear from certified lactation counselors and other moms about returning to work and a host of other breastfeeding-related things.

The breastfeeding support group meets from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Wednesdays at Zootown Brew, 121 W. Broadway.

And if you’re like me, it’s an opportunity to upgrade from sweatpants to yoga pants and get out of the house and talk with other moms about everything from what worked for them when they tried to get baby to take a bottle to sleep habits to just how you’re feeling. I went to the group almost every week when I was still on maternity leave and it was definitely helpful to hear from other moms and lactation experts — without having to make an appointment. I also gleaned all sorts of nuggets of info, like how socks stuffed in bras do in a pinch when you’re out of nursing pads and how you can make your own hands-free nursing bra by cutting slits in a sports bra.

The group began last August after members of the Missoula Breastfeeding Coalition decided to have one support group instead of the various ones hosted by different organizations. Coalition members take turns facilitating so there’s always an expert, or two, on hand.

During a recent session, Jennifer Stires, who owns the Nursing Nook, gave some tips on how to make the transition back to work easier for mom and baby while still breastfeeding.

• Give your chosen childcare a trial run for a few hours the week before you return to work.

• Pump once every day if starting to pump two weeks before going back to work; pump every other day if starting four weeks before your return.

• Store milk in 2-4 ounce increments so it can be warmed up in small amounts and waste less.

• Make sure the room you pump in at work has a lock for privacy. Don’t pump in the bathroom. (Would you eat in there?) Be near water so you can rinse your breast pump parts after each use.

• Drink lots of water, exercise and get fresh air. Keep healthy snacks available (oatmeal helps with milk production).

• Have a feeding plan on file with your childcare provider and ask to have a synopsis of your child’s day. When did they nap and for how long? How much did they eat and when?

The law is on your side, too, ladies.

According to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, employers — with some exemptions — must give nursing mothers reasonable break times to express breast milk for up to a year after birth and are required to give mothers a place — other than a bathroom — in which to do so.

If you need some advice or just an encouraging smile from another mom who is going through the same thing, check out Missoula Baby Bistro in person, or find them on Facebook.

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Missoula gets approval for being more approving of breastfeeding

Did you catch this letter on today’s Opinion page?

In it, a registered nurse and mom of twins takes note of the growing acceptance of breastfeeding she’s seen in Missoula.

Tiffany Manthie includes some interesting info, such as, “According to the Centers for Disease Control website, so far in 2013, 37.2 percent of all children born in Montana were still breast-feeding at 12 months, compared to 30.6 percent in 2009.”

She also gives a shout-out to both big hospitals in Missoula, certified lactation consultant and Nursing Nook owner Jennifer Stires, WIC, the La Leche League and, finally, all of Missoula.

Even if Missoula and Montana are growing more comfortable with public breastfeeding, it’s worth repeating that nursing mothers are fully covered by Montana law (no pun intended). They have every right – and plenty of reason – to feed their babies this way.

The law has been in place since 1999, and in fact was sponsored by a Missoula mom and state legislator – Carol Williams. Yet as recently as four years ago Missoula got itself all in an uproar over a mom who was asked by a restaurant manager to cover herself while breastfeeding her infant son.

Manthie, in contrast, recently fed her twins at a restaurant without receiving even “one second glance.”

We’ve come a long way, baby, and I hope to see more signs that Missoulians are growing more understanding and supportive of breastfeeding.

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Bullies and breast-feeding

I love when local moms write to the newspaper to talk about topics of direct interest to us. Today’s Opinion pages have a letter from a Missoula grandparent concerned about bullying in schools.

We always think this kind of thing happens to someone else’s kid. Maybe we even have personal prejudices about the “type” of kid this happens to be or the kind of family he or the bully came from. I am telling you, it could happen to your beloved child.

The letter encourages parents to research laws and policies regarding bullying.

And yesterday’s Opinion page brought us a letter from a Missoula mom who decried the common practice of including formula in hospital’s take-home bags for newborns.

Hospitals giving away free formula definitely undermines a new mom’s determination to breast-feed. It’s hard enough to nurse your baby, it’s even harder when it’s 2 a.m. and the formula is so close by. I wish I had never had formula in my house.

Playground

Were I to write my own letter today, it would would be one advocating a playground on every block – a swing for every child! Case in point is today’s Hall Passages in which the folks at Lewis and Clark Elementary talk about the marked decrease in students’ behavior problems, thanks to the schools’ new playground.

Plus, as this photo demonstrates, play structures can pull double duty as public art.

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