My little loves.

My little loves.
Photo Cred: Callye Morris

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Guest blogger : Courtney Hollowell and her experiences.

Courtney is a dear friend of mine, that I have known for years. She was there when Stevie-Rae was born. She is a certified feeding specialist and has her own story with a breast exclusive baby.

I'm Courtney Hollowell, a registered nurse, a certified Breastfeeding specialist, and a mom.
When I had my daughter Georgia, I made the decision to breastfeed. It has been one of the hardest, yet the single most rewarding experience of my life. When we were first starting off on our journey, I prayed she would take to the breast. I have spent my entire 7 year nursing career in women's health and have many times heard mothers say "I couldn't breastfeed" I didn't want that to be me, for whatever reason. So I have breast feeding my best shot and we were successful. In preparation for my maternity leave coming to an end, we introduced pumped milk in a bottle to Georgia. She did fine with the bottles, and her dad was able to feed her. Then when she was 11 weeks old, with no rhyme or reason, Georgia stopped taking a bottle.
What? This was never on my radar. I hope we would have a strong nursing relationship, but I never dreamed she wouldn't take a bottle while I went to work. We tried every bottle manufactured, every technique, every trick in the book. It made Georgia hysterical. I went to my first shift post motherhood at work and cried the whole way there because I knew my baby wouldn't eat while I was gone. Georgia and her dad had a horrible night. She would suck on his arm, his shirt, her hand, but not drink from a bottle. She cried and screamed, devastated and hungry. It left my husband heartbroken and in tears. She went hours and hours without eating until I got home and was able to nurse her.

That's my story. In the end I quit my job, stayed home and nursed Georgia.

What if quitting your job wasn't an option, then what would you have done? Got a different job, nursed Georgia on my breaks and lunch. Anything to keep my baby fed. Work from home, get a job that I'm overqualified for, whatever it took. Quitting my job was a sacrifice. I'm thankful I was in the position to stay home, but it isn't a fairy tale. It drained our savings account, dreams of a different home have been pushed back years on our family's calendar, just to touch the tip of the iceberg.

If she gets hungry enough, she will take a bottle. Not true. You should never make mealtime a battle anyway. Starving a baby into submission is not a healthy behavior modification tool. It's torture actually. Babies do not have logic. When you say a baby can reason to think "if I don't take this bottle, I'll go hungry" you are assigning far more mature skills than an infant possesses. My Aunt Judy has been raising babies for 50 years, I left Georgia with her to see if she would take a bottle from her. She called me "you get back here and feed this baby, I've never seen anything like this." Sadly, because bottle feeding is the norm and breastfeeding is foreign to most if her generation.


I would also like to say, I was made to feel like I was nuts when I told some people Georgia wouldn't drink from a bottle. If a mother says "I couldn't breastfeed" it is widely accepted. If a mother says "I can't bottle feed" she is questioned. Breastfeeding is the most natural, perfect form of nutrition for babies. Primal instinct. If Georgia preferred breast over bottle, it's not a problem to be solved or an error to be corrected. Just because you've never had this situation, or never heard of such before doesn't mean it isn't a legitimate issue.
Put yourself in the baby's shoes. We have to be a voice when they don't have one. No one is saying a father shouldn't have rights or visits, but that a baby should be able to be nursed during those visits.
Because if Landry's father's family truly loves, cares for, and wants what is best for Landry they will want her nursed at their visits. If not, the visits are going to be less than enjoyable for everyone, especially Landry, who is the one who will suffer the greatest when she is the most innocent.

you can keep up with Courtney and her blog, pregnantinconverse.blogspot.com

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

And then I opened Pandora's Box.

I have made myself THE most vulnerable I have ever been, next to the time I opened up about the circumstances under which I was conceived. I've heard of some confusion, backlash, but mainly support of what I decided to do the past few days. I'll give a back story for those that are confused.

My youngest, Landry, is 7 months old. She is a breast exclusive baby. She will not latch on to an artificial nipple, screams at the sight of one, it's just a bad experience all together. She has not spent more than four consecutive hours away from me. She stopped taking the bottle around 12 weeks, and was showing signs of problems with a tommee tippee bottle prior. I have been the sole caretaker of her, the entire 7 months.

Her father was deployed, and during his deployment he decided out of left field that he wanted to end our marriage. We had been married barely a year. I'll leave out the hairy details for legalities sake but I'll go and say that ALLEGEDLY he ALLEGEDLY ran into the arms of a woman he met overseas, that is military herself. ALLEGEDLY ALLEGEDLY ALLEGEDLY. He has not been involved in my child's life, he knew before hand she was having problems taking a bottle of my expressed milk and became breast exclusive. That was all okay, considering that I was going to be a stay at home mother anyway as that is what he preferred, before his choice to end our short marriage. I will not write on my feelings at this time, however, if there's one thing you don't try to compromise it is the well being of my children.

There is no present law protecting breastfed babies in custody cases. While I am all for paternal rights, as a mother, I'm even more for the rights of a child. In child custody cases, the "best interest of the child" is to be considered; how is it the best interest of a child to rip them away from their only source of nutrition?

In court, the opposing party's lawyer questioned why a child could not survive off of solids at 7 months, if she won't take a bottle? The old saying goes, "food under one, is just for fun." Even if she was formula fed, she would have to stay on formula until one year of age.

"Landry's Law" is about protecting children that are breastfed in child custody cases. The courts should consider such if a child is exclusively breastfed. They should set visitation around the child's feeding schedule. Also, all lawyers and judges dealing with child custody cases should be educated in breastfeeding and the nutritional development of an infant. My precious Landry should not have to scream out of hunger, because of lack of education on the subject. I will not allow my baby, or any baby to starve, due to circumstances out of their control.

A lot of people may not agree with me, and frankly I don't care. When it comes to my children, I will go to the ends of the earth and back for them. Please help spread awareness of Landry's Law, and take a stand for the most vulnerable among us.

Your Breastfriend,

Rachel

See the link in comments below. I don't know how to do some things, and one of those things is how to embed a link.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Single Mamas, here's to you.

I have seen so many wonderful posts on Facebook and Instagram about the wonderful things my friends have gotten from their husbands for Mother's Day, showing their appreciation. While I am genuinely happy for them, it makes me sad for all of those that don't have someone to give them flowers or a gift card for a massage. I so wish I had the money in the world to buy every single mom these things. I don't have all the money for these things, so this blog entry is my massive Mother's Day card to all my fellow single mamas out there, pulling double duty.

Here's to you, single Mama.

You selflessly give all of your time to your sweet children. You do the job of two people, and you do it well. When people tell you "I don't know how you do it," you don't think about how hard it is, how tired you are, or how you haven't had a break in a long time. You just think about how much you love your kids, and it doesn't seem like such a daunting task, because you just do it. You lie awake at night worrying about your children, if they are gonna turn out alright because they don't have the "traditional" family like many of their friends have. You go without. You wear $8.00 target tee shirts so your kids can have the nicer clothes. You would spend your last dime on your children to make sure they are taken care of and happy, without any regards to yourself, and you do this without resentment. You pray that God guides you to help raise your children to grow up to be good citizens of the world. You do everything, and very rarely do you get thanked for it, but it doesn't matter because you don't need to be thanked for it. Here's to you, single mama, that doesn't have a significant other to shower you with gifts on this day. I appreciate what you have done, what you are doing, and what you will continue to do. Thank you.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there, but especially you, single mama.

-RJW

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Dear Emily Letts, you've got it all wrong.

Dear Emily,

Today I read an article that disturbed the depths of my soul. It was about a young woman who filmed herself during an abortion, and wanted to put a positive spin on things. She said that first trimester abortions was safer than giving birth. I felt so sick to my stomach. I could have easily been aborted myself, as I am a product of rape. However, as a former fetus, I am so pro-life. Instead of my mother ending my life, she chose to give me a chance at one. She was going, younger than you! She was 20 years old. She had to carry around guilt and constant reminder of the evil done towards her, but she chose life anyway.

I saw your picture, and you're such a pretty girl. At first I want you to know, I was so angered and disgusted by you. I am still disgusted at Cosmo for posting the article, but these days I almost expect desensitization in our society. Now, that I've thought about it and I've prayed about it, I want you to know, that I'm no longer angry at you. I'm so, so sad for you.

You've got it all wrong.

If the moment out heart stops beating, we are pronounced dead, then why do you not consider us to be alive the moment it starts? Would you abort your dog's puppies? Your cat's kittens? Something tells me not. By posting this videod you have slapped every woman who has dealt with infertility, miscarriage, and children of adoption in he face. You have made a mockery of human life. One day, you will have to face all of those souls you have helped leave the world, including your own sweet baby.

Emily, I'm so sad for you. I'm so sad that you don't value life. And I'm so sad for the day that you, like all of us, have to answer for your actions. However, thanks to my redeemer, I know that you can find forgiveness from that. I wanted to write an open letter to you, to cut you to pieces up and down for posting such monstrosities, but I see now that you're a lost, hurting soul, looking for attention in the worst way possible.

I'm going to pray for you, Emily. And I'm going to pray for you until the end of my days. I'm going to pray that God turns this situation around for the glory of Him. And I'm going to pray that you are able to turn around and make this your testimony, and end up saving lives rather than ending them.

I am going to try to learn to love people like you, just as Christ does.

Rachel

Monday, May 5, 2014

When your ashes still look like ashes.

The question I hear most often is "if there is a God, why does He allow such bad things to happen to good people?"

I am not a theologian. Or a preacher. Or even a Sunday school teacher. I just know what I've studied on my own, and what I've learned through wise counsel and my Pastor. I don't know all of the answers to this, I won't get into the debate of free will and the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden, but I do know that Matthew 5:44-45 says "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." So basically, bad and good happens to all people- there's no discrimination. As far as starving, abused children that is something I can never wrap my mind around, but I will never know all of the answers to everything, I just know I've got to do my active part in the active protection and interceding on behalf of these precious souls. Anyway, with all of that being said along with myself, I've seen some people around me going through the darkest times of their lives. These are all good people, and it leaves me questioning "why them? Why me?"

I'll be open with y'all, I have been battling a lot of my own demons- the feeling of worthlessness, anger, rage, I've developed a blood pressure problem, and have experienced anxiety attacks for the first time in my life. It just seems that I have been hit in the gut from any angle that I can be hit. I see people I love hurting. One day I broke down to someone who has been such amazing counsel to me, my friend Julie. I look up to her in so many ways. (Her baby is also a boob exclusive baby so we have bonded on the fact that we are human Golden Corral's.) I told her how I seriously can't handle one more thing going wrong in my life. I feel almost swallowed by the grief and guilt, and I can't figure out why things keep happening. She said something to me that has resounded in my head daily.

"The devil doesn't mess with people he's not afraid of"
- Julie Snearly.

Tonight I went to a support group at church, and I was honestly scared to go. After talking to my pastor and his wife, he suggested I go. He and his wife also reminded me that guilt is a trick of the enemy- when I'm so ate up with guilt of things I've already prayed about, that just clouds my mind and prevents me from hearing God speak into my life and direct my steps. Then I start stressing all over again, and it becomes a hamster wheel of exhaustion to my mind. Anyway, at this group, at the conclusion of it, the lady sitting beside me saw my bible in my purse. She asked to pull it out and she said she felt lead to share Jeremiah 29:11 with me. She then looked into my eyes, and this complete stranger spoke to my heart. She told me God has a plan, and to stay strong and to not get up. Even when it looks like there's nothing good to come from this, to remind myself that my future I had planned for myself isn't the one God has planned for me, and it pales in comparison. It was amazing how someone who didn't know me from Adam's house cat could speak a word to me that I so needed to hear.

So, with this plan God has for me, and the constant attacks and blows I am receiving from the enemy, Gods plan for my life must be beyond my own thoughts. And ya know what? The same goes for you

A lot of times, people will remind you that God can turn "beauty from ashes." While the notion is nice, it sometimes doesn't comfort when your ashes have looked like ashes for a while now. In my case, my ashes look like the aftermath of a national park forest fire. I still have yet to see this beauty, but tonight I was reminded that it is coming, if I only just hold on to my trust in God with a death grip. My prayer is that through my troubles, somehow this benefits His Kingdom. And ya know what? I like to think He allows bad things to happen sometimes, so that in the end when we put our trust in Him, others can see the greatness that He is.

I have felt inadequate as a mother, a human being, not worthy of love, alone, and scared. These are all lies straight from the one who came to steal, kill, and destroy. For those of you that still see just ashes with your situation, I pray that this helps you, like the woman tonight helped me. You are not alone.

Keep fighting the good fight.

-RJW


*I would like to take a second to thank some of the people that have been blessings to my life. Your prayers, encouragement, shoulders to cry on, and the bringing of Chic Fil A (looking at you, Lanai!) have made me thank God for putting such amazing people into my life, during such a hard time. I pray that you all get blessed back times 947372 for what you have done to me. I love you!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Things you should never say to a breastfeeding mom of a boob exclusive baby.

This post is for my sisters that have strong willed children who prefer to exclusively eat from the teet.

I am so fortunate to be able to breast feed successfully this time around. With Stevie-Rae, I was young, uneducated, she had a terrible latch, and I got mastitis. That ended my ventures in breastfeeding and I always have felt a sense of guilt for it. Breastfeeding, while I'm a huge advocate for it, is a personal choice and this is not meant to alienate those who formula fed. If it wasn't for formula, little Princess Peach wouldn't be here today. This time around with Landry, I prayed for better luck. Right after the little darling came out of the oven, I put her right on the breast. It was really difficult but I made my mind up to stick it out. I was more educated this time around, and I had a lot more support as 25 year old Rachel, than 21 year old Rachel.

When I returned back to work, I pumped all day every day. I worried about my supply. When I would be home I could nurse Landry and everything went smoothly until...

Little Landry got sick. We were in the hospital for a week over thanksgiving. She had pneumonia. From then on, she got spoiled to the real stuff, straight from the tap. My mom had to come stay with me a while to care for her during the day, but already I noticed the beggining of the rejection of Tommee tippee. She stopped taking a paci, shortly I stopped working. Then, the Hunger Games began. My child is now boob exclusive, and yes, it's a real thing.

A lot of those aren't aware of how breastfeeding works, and that's okay. I'm not aware of how many things work that aren't directly related to my life. It's not the questions that I mind, it's the ignorant proclamations over how my child and my body works. Here's a list for those of you that might have a boob exclusive baby baby mama in your realm of life, and for those fellow baby mama's that deal with the same proclamations.

Things not to say to a breastfeeding mom who's baby is boob exclusive:

1. "He/she will eat when they get hungry enough."
False. He/she will not eat. They can't comprehend the latch of a different nipple, especially if they are screaming bloody murder wanting to be fed.

2. "If you buy (this bottle) it will help your baby take one. Worked for me."
Well, that's great. I've spent more money than I care to disclose on every transitioning bottle out there, and Landry still won't have it. All babies are different, mine included. Been there, done that.

3. "Babies should know how to take a bottle, they've been doing it for hundreds of years."
Yes, they have, and hooray for technology. If it wasn't for Dr. Brown, my first child would have starved to death. However, babies have been exclusively on the breast since the beginning of time, and that's how we exist today.

4. "You never take a break, let me watch him/her so you can have some you time. I can get them to take a bottle."
Do you lactate, too?

5. "Why are you feeding in public? Just pump and use a bottle."
BOOB EXCLUSIVE BABY. YOU EAT IN PUBLIC. SO SHALL MY INFANT.

6. "How long are you gonna let him/her do that? They got to eat real food at some point."
Food under one, is just for fun. Breastfeeding is nutritional well on up to two years, and even beyond that. I'm an American, and it's my right to practice baby lead weaning.

7. "Don't you want to go have some fun? Don't you ever want a break?"
I would love a day at the spa. My back hurts all of the time and my feet look like the Pyramids of Giza. However, my life right now is nourishing my baby, and I'll go to the spa when my breasts won't become engorged during a spa treatment, result in pain and leakage. Boobs over beauty.

I could add plenty more, but I'm a big fan of the number 7, so I'll just stop right there. Having a boob exclusive baby is a real thing, and I will challenge anyone else saying otherwise until I'm blue in the face. This post may be a bit of a let down (ha!) to those who read my blog when I address all people. I guess you could say this is for all people, in the event they know someone like me, or should they ever cross anyone like me in their future. I hope this sheds some light into the life of a mom with an adorable short leash (boob only baby.)

Yours in nursing bras,

RJW

Sunday, March 16, 2014

For the love of God, don't say you'll pray for me.

Everyone has been guilty of it. A passive aggressive "I'll pray for you" meant as a jab, and not a sincere statement. Recently, I had someone say this directed towards me in a manner that wasn't out of concern, but a poor attempt at trying to hurt my feelings. I went to lunch with my friend Angela Saturday, and we got on the topic of people using "I'll pray for you" as an insult. Prayer. Something that is so sacred and such a privilege and so vital to our walk with God, wasn't always so easy. There wasn't always direct access to God for the common man. I won't give a history lesson here, but in order to atone for your sins and talk with God, you either had to do a bunch of stuff, build a lot of fires, sacrifice some things, or be a super important person. Like Moses. He was a pretty big deal back in his day.

With Easter approaching, the story of the crucifixion is told in various interpretations. but do you ever REALLY think about what happened? Jesus, the Son of God that came to live as a man to save us from eternal damnation, suffered a criminal's death. His skin was torn, his bones were broken. He was mocked. Nine inch nails dug into his hands and feet and each time he would take a breath, it was a painful struggle. Splinters would rub into his open wounds as he inhaled and exhaled, and a spear pierced his side open. He went through all of that so he could be the final sacrificial Lamb, so the veil could be torn between man and God, giving us direct access to the Almighty. We are no longer subject to seeking out a High Priest to go into a temple and be the only one to enter the presence of God, so that also means you don't have to go out and find some birds and some livestock everytime you threaten to eat someone's soul in heavy traffic. Oh, don't act like you don't do it either.

Because of Christ's suffering, we are now able to have a personal, spiritual walk with God. It's not just a religious rite- it's a relationship.

So basically, when you use "I'll pray for you" as a passive aggressive jab, you're making a mockery of the single most selfless sacrifice of all time that is saving us from hellfire.

Now I'm in no way shape or form gonna sit here and pretend to be some holier than thou saint, I will have my own judgement day full of things I've done, said, and thought. I just can't stand to see those who claim the self a follower of Christ throwing spiritual shade by "I'll pray for you" or by quoting a Bible verse to be facetious. It's one thing for (warranted) counsel, guidance, general discussion or encouragement. It's another thing to use God's Word to try to hurt someone's feelings. The Word is to be used as a sword against the Enemy, not each other.

We are told to bless those who curse us, and to pray for our enemies (Luke 6:28 & Matthew 5:44), so if you really don't like someone and feel they need prayer, just keep your mouth shut and ask God for the sincerity to pray, even if it's through gritted teeth. I was going to write about something else but this specific topic kept resurfacing in my mind. So here it is. Prayer isn't just a blessing said over food. It is so much more than that, and is something that is so precious to me.

So to wrap this all up, don't tell me that you're going to pray for me if you want to insult me. Just be straight and tell me something like you think I'm tacky or that I look like I could be Gary Busey's mom. But for the love of God, don't say you're going to pray for me. Pun intended.

RJW