How to help Jake Massman and his baby boy

Jake and LucasOn Sunday, the Missoulian brought readers the story of Jake Massman, whose wife Teresa Veltkamp died shortly after giving birth to their son, Lucas.

Most striking, to me, is how Massman’s positive attitude shines throughout this tragic story. For instance, consider these words from Massman, talking about spending time with his newborn son:

I’ve cried myself to sleep a number of times; but during the day, when I’m here with him, it’s amazing how that’s not overwhelming. He doesn’t need me feeding him sadness and anger and resentment. It’s really easy for me to be who I need to be with him. In the end, I feel like I’m getting more from him than he’s getting from me.

Anyone who feels moved to help this new father and his baby – or to do something in Teresa Veltkamp’s memory – should consider making a donation to the Teresa Veltkamp Memorial Fund at the Missoula Federal Credit Union, or check out

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Weighing which delivery details to share with expectant mom

Seems like ever since school got out, I’ve just been too busy to blog. Here to bail me out, local writer – and mom of grown children confronting their own kid issues – Kathleen Clary Miller shares this column. Enjoy!

Should I tell my daughter childbirth is a bear?

When I answer the phone Kate is breathless.  “I’ve decided on the theme for my baby!  Winnie the Pooh!  It’s gender neutral!”

I blink twice.  First, to understand that babies now are thematic.  Second, to process the term “gender neutral,” then glean that she is referring to Winnie being appropriate for either girl or boy rather than the baby being neither girl nor boy.

Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Mompreneurs’ – not necessarily moms – targeting infant market

While I am waiting to see if the pregnant cat we are fostering from the Humane Society is going to have any more kittens – she has given birth to three so far today, and has been laboring since 4 a.m. – I’ve been going through the short list of unread mom-related business articles I save for occasions just such as these.

I’m a nerd.

One of the things I found interesting about this Crain’s New York article is that its headline about “Mompreneurs” immediately made me think the story would be about moms who start businesses, and the article does state that the infant good industry is “dominated” by women. But the two primary sources cited in the story are actually men – a father in one case and a man with no children in the other. So, duh, you don’t have to be a mom – or even a woman – to break into the newborn market.

And it’s an especially appealing market to cater to, apparently, because it is considered essentially “recession-proof,” and because there’s a thriving high-end niche in major cities like New York and Los Angeles.

Of course, there are plenty of baby-centric businesses that were started by new parents right here in Missoula, too.

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Baby formula a top target for shoplifters

Last week ABC News carried an in-depth story about the dramatic numbers of thefts involving formula for infants.

It’s on a scale that suggests this formula is not being stolen by desperate parents; rather, it’s become a hot item for organized retail thieves.

In response, the International Formula Council and others are asking U.S. Congress members to make baby formula theft an offense subject to federal racketeering laws.

These groups want to crack down on the formula thefts not only because it’s a growing crime, but also because it presents a potential hazard to infants who are fed stolen formula:

“Improper storage conditions can potentially affect the nutrient content or physical appearance of infant formula, which could impact the product’s nutritional value and safety as well as potentially threaten an infant’s health,” says the International Formula Council’s Robert Rankin, as quoted in the article.

It’s worth reading to the end of this news story for the account of a recent bust named “Operation Milk Money” by the feds. It gives a sense of where this formula is ending up – and how much money the thieves are making off their crime.


Shaken Baby Syndrome topic of Great Falls conference

The two-day Family and Community Heath Conference put on by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services starts today in Great Falls, and is bringing in a national expert to talk about how to prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome.

This is the syndrome that results when an infant is severely or repeatedly shaken. It can cause serious and permanent damage to a baby’s eyes and brain. And it’s a form of child abuse.

The national expert who will be speaking this afternoon in Great Falls is Julie Price, of the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, and the title of her talk is “The Period of PURPLE Crying.”

Here’s a little more background on Price:

Price, of Utah, has 19 years in education, training and program management. In addition to her work with the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, Price oversees Utah’s Period of PURPLE Crying® hospital-based program. She assists hospital administrators, education personnel and maternity services with nurse training and coordination of the Shaken Baby Syndrome prevention and parent education program.

And here’s a little bit more about the PURPLE Crying program:

The Period of PURPLE Crying® is the phrase used to describe the point in a baby’s life when he or she cries more than at any other time. This period of increased crying is often described as “colic”, but there have been many misunderstandings about what “colic” really is.

The acronym PURPLE is used to describe specific characteristics of an infant’s crying during this phase. The word PERIOD is important because it lets parents know that it is temporary and will come to an end.

P: Peak of crying. A baby may cry more each week. The most at 2 months, then less at 3-5 months.
U: Unexpected. Crying can come and go and there is no clear reason why.
R: Resists soothing. A baby may not stop crying no matter what a parent does.
P: Pain-like face. A crying that may look like the baby is in pain, even when he/ she is not.
L: Long lasting. Crying which lasts as long as five hours or more a day.
E: Evening. A baby may cry more in the late afternoon or evening.

“It may be confusing and concerning to be told a baby ‘has colic’ because it may sound like the baby has an illness or a condition that is abnormal,” says Ann Buss of the DPHHS Family and Community Health Bureau. “Parents and caregivers need to know that what they are experiencing is indeed normal and, although frustrating, is simply a phase in their child’s development that will pass.”

This is important, says DPHHS Director Anna Whiting Sorrell, because, “The concept of the Period of Purple Crying is a new way to help parents understand this time in their baby’s life, which is a normal part of every infant’s development. DPHHS is committed to bringing this valuable information to Montanans.”

Here’s more about the presentation:

This presentation is part of an overall DPHHS effort being led by the Montana’s Children Trust Fund of DPHHS to educate families of babies born in Montana about Shaken Baby Syndrome and Abusive Head Trauma. Recently, the MTCTF distributed 45,000 ‘Crying Cards’ to parents of newborns though hospitals, family and pediatric practices, child care facilities, and groups that offer babysitting classes.


Local blogger writes about personal experience with Missoula’s birth options

4 & 20 Blackbirds contributor “Lizard” has a great post up about his wife’s recent birth experience, which involved both the Birth Center run by certified nurse midwife Jeanne Hebl and Community Medical Center.

“The reason I am choosing to share this story is because I believe there is plenty of room for both natural and medically assisted births,” Lizard writes.

Thank you, Lizard, for sharing your personal experience on this important topic. I wish a speedy recovery to your wife, and offer hearty congratulations to you both on the birth of your healthy baby boy.

– MM

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Fawns on the lawn

Fawns on the lawnThis incredible photo in the Missoulian made my whole family crazy this morning.

Willow was captivated by the tiny triplets and described each in detail: “This fawn is ready to go to sleep. This fawn is getting a drink. This fawn is kissin’ its mama.”

For our part, my husband and I couldn’t stop saying “Fawns on the lawn. Fawns on the lawn. Fawns on the lawn.”

I think we’re all a little giddy with spring/summer.

– MM

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Pregnancy and infant health info

The Living Well insert in today’s Missoulian is a must-read for pregnant women and new moms. The issue tackles infant massage, breastfeeding, infant illness prevention (“If babies could talk they would say ‘Wash your hands!'”), the days and weeks following neonatal intensive care, doulas, tackling that “baby bump” and more. Almost all the articles are written by local health professionals.

– MM

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Something to think about before you name your baby

One of my best friends in Missoula, when I told him I was pregnant, did one of the sweetest things anyone has ever done for me and told me I could “have” the name he had been saving for his own baby girl some day.

The name was Isabelle, and I turned it down. I also turned down Kalani, offered by my beloved grandpa; Sage, which my mom argued for until she found out I was having a girl; and Karen, which is a name that has been passed down through both my own and my husband’s family, and was therefore favored by some of our more traditionalist relatives.

We – my husband and I – went with Willow, a totally left-field name that turned out to fit her perfectly. Or maybe she grew into it. The point is, picking a name for another human being is an awesome responsibility about which nearly everyone seems to have an opinion.

Names tend to fall in and out of favor rather quickly for girls (“Madison”) and stick around longer for boys (“Jacob”). In fact, according to a recent Associated Press article, “Jacob” has been the most popular name for boys in the United States for 11 years running. In contrast, “Emma” was the top pick for girls last year only, being being replaced by “Isabella” this year. Willow, on the other hand, is currently ranked 315th most popular.

If only I’d listened to my friend, my daughter could have a variation of THE most popular name in the nation. This year, anyway.

– MM

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Montana needs to solve its child care problems

Following up on an earlier post, I want to highlight today’s Missoulian editorial – which calls for basic improvements to Montana’s child care regulation and oversight. Particularly, in-home providers should be getting visits from state inspectors before they get their licenses. Anyone who works with young children – and especially children too young to understand or verbalize incidents that risk their health and well-being – should be subject to a comprehensive background check.

These changes won’t solve every problem, but they will get us started in the right direction.

P.S. There’s also a business story in today’s Missoulian about Kim Ormsby, who was named Montana Entrepreneur of the Year for her Natural Baby Company. In just a few short years, her Bozeman-based business has gone gangbusters and is now selling about 4,000 cloth diapers A MONTH to moms around the world. Missoula Mom wrote about her here.

– MM

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