Monday, July 23, 2007

Lunch with a founder!


Here I am, just finishing up lunch with Mary Ann Cahill, one of the 7 founders of La Leche League. New Leaders (those of us with 2 years or less) were given the opportunity to sign up to have lunch with a founder. Of course I jumped at the chance.
Mary Ann was just delightful! I tried not to blab so much that neither of us could eat, but she was asking as many questions about me and my family as I had for her about La Leche League's first half-century and her 9 (that's right, NINE) children and 20 (!) grandchildren.
It was a once in a lifetime experience that I'll never forget!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Another amazing day!

I can't decide whether to write about yesterday (which was amazing) or today (which I'm quite certain will be amazing). So I'll satrt with yesterday!

I attended some fabulous sessions yesterday, including one on how to critically yet sensitively assess and assist difficult breastfeeding cases. The speaker, Karin Cadwell, emphasized letting the mother tell her story; getting the history and asking the right questions so that the mother can give you as much informtion as possible. By hearing what she has to say about her situation, we not only collect the necessary facts to help her solve her breastfeeding issue, we gain insight into what this issue means in her world, how she feels about breastfeeding, what she's willing or not willing to do, etc.

I ate lunch with strangers (I do this on purpose so that I can meet and hear stories from people I've never met before). It was lovely. I met another mom around my age who's expecting a baby around the same time I am (we were easily identifiable by our ravenous appetites, as well as our baby-bellies), as well as a woman my mother-in-law's age who told me the heartbreaking stories about her daughter-in-law who wanted nothing to do with her mother-in-law's advice when it came to her baby. I found myself relating to the daughter-in-law even though I'd consider it a blessing to have a LLL Leader as the mother of my husband...but I guess we mammas tend to want to be the ones in charge of how to care for our babies. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, but I'm going to try and be mroe sensitive to my mother-in-law's efforts to involve herself in decisions about my children (even though I think she's dead wrong most of the time).

I attended a session on nipple anatomy, presented by Kay Hoover. I sat in the company of many lactation "rock stars" as well as right beside a LLL Board Member, and saw pictures of interesting nipple configurations and learned how/whether those affected breastfeeding. I came away from that session very thankful I didn't have more problems with breastfeeding -- with one flat and one inverted nipple after Anna was born, we had some latch problems, but she spent the next two years preparing my breasts for Simon, who latched on and nursed like a pro from the word "go." I also learned that it's normal and OK for a Montgomery gland to leak milk!

I took a little nap before the World's Faire, and spent the bulk of my time at that event sitting at the New York-East table with my NY-E buddies. A few of us went to grab dinner (at around 11 p.m.) afterwards and it was lots of fun. I always enjoy the company of my NY-E friends! I am proud to report I got terrific gifts for each of my children, my husband, and myself at the World's Faire, and I didn't hurt my wallet too much.

Today is going to be fabulous, too. I started the morning off with Dr. Bob Sears' session on nutrition for kids. While I didn't learn a whole lot that I didn't already know and practice, it was nice to get the affirmation that what my family does nutrition-wise is smart. It can be difficult in regular society to deal with the fact that my kids seem like the only ones who don't eat Goldfish crackers or chicken fingers or fish sticks or fruit roll-ups, instead preferring wheat spaghetti with broccoli and garlic or bulghur wheat with chick peas and tomato sauce.

My next session will deal with the philosophy of advertising and brain development. Again, I expect to be affirmed for my family's choice and practice of not allowing media to invade the lives of my children.

Later, I'll hear about the latest research on jaundice and the breastfed baby. This is a topic dear to my heart, having had two newborns with severe early onset jaundice (ABO incompatibility). I see this as an area I'll help educate other caregivers about in the future, as my personal experience and hopefully, my knowledge, will be cutting edge.

The highlight of my day will likely be sharing lunch with a founder of La Leche League. I'm so excited! New Leaders (with less than 2 years) were invited to sign up for a slot for lunch with a founder and I jumped on it. I can't wait to just bask in the magic of that revolutionary woman!

I'm planning on a short evening nap again today, so that I can spend the later hours socializing with old and new friends.

The line for this computer is pretty long, so I'm going to finish this post now!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

So much to do, so little time...for sleep!

If you've been following this blog at all, you know that one of my major goals was to get some sleep at this conference, before my family comes to join me on Monday.

So far, I give myself a C+ in achieving this goal. I've gotten about 7-8 hours of good sleep each of the 2 nights I've been here so far. I haven't rested at all during the days. There's just too much to do, too many people to see, too many places to go!

Yesterday, I missed a photo (those of us who received Ripplewood Foundation scholarships were asked to meet for a photo) because I had to empty my bladder. As luck would have it, I waited and waited at the prescribed time, only to leave 40 minutes later to go potty, just before the photo ended up being taken.

I've been hanging out with my former co-Leader (slowly accepting that she's really not coming back to New York) in the evenings. Her friends are super nice and welcoming and I'm enjoying the time spent relaxing and chatting with them. I've been really good about getting to bed in plenty of time before midnight, despite how cozy and fun those late-night chats are.

Tonight is the World's Faire, where I'm hoping to pick up some fun surprises for Anna and Simon. I already have a red clown nose for Simon and a children's cookbook for Anna, but I want to find some more for them.

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Pre-Conference Workshop...

I had yesterday morning "off," so I scheduled a much-needed pedicure and manicure for myself. It was lovely.

Over a year ago, I expressed an interest in presenting a session at this conference on supporting mothers on active duty in the military. Even though my personal experience is unique, I feel I have a lot ot offer to Leaders who support mothers in the military. I was not contacted to present, so I signed up for the session that was being offered as a pre-conference workshop (4 hours) on "Supporting the Unique Needs of Military Mothers." I was looking forward to meeting the presenter, who has been very active and instrumental in enacting policy changes in the Department of Defense. I was also enjoying the freedom of going to a conference and not presenting a session...I've (happily) presented a session at every conference I've attended since my first in 2005.

About 70 minutes before the session was to begin, I received a cell phone call from an unfamiliar number. It was a member of the conference committee, asking if I could possibly present the session, because the originally engaged speaker could not be here.

Horrified, I heard myself answer "sure. I was going to be there anyway..."

I had no outline, no handouts, only a frantically moving brain that chugged and whirred in an effort to put together everything I thought needed to be covered in such a session (which was being co-presented and shared with the "Making Breastfeeding Work at Work" presenter.

People keep asking me how the session went. Really, I don't know for sure. I know I did a lot of talking, told a lot of stories, made a lot of what I hope were coherent and clear points. The 2nd half of the session was more discussion-based, which I preferred. I hope the participants got what they came for. I don't suppose I'll ever really know for sure, as there are no evaluations (unless people are really angry and ask for their money back and I catch wind of the negative feedback that way!).

I enjoyed myself. It was certainly not a typical conference experience, but I'm learning that very little in my life is typical!

Friday, July 20, 2007

You know you're at a La Leche League Conference when...

...the women outnumber the men at least 4 to 1 in most of the main areas...
...there are babies and small children EVERYWHERE, almost all in slings or being held by the hand, making happy noises...
...I've probably seen 100 babies already and not one single bottle...
...the women have peaceful, contented looks on their faces, whether they are with their children or not...
...Lucy Logo is EVERYWHERE!!!
...other women look at my pregnant belly with a nostalgic smile...
...I feel like I'm with "my people!" :)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Travels, and I'm here!

I'm here!

The traveling was OK. Of course, after almost 5 years of traveling with at least one child in tow, flying alone, under any circumstances, feels very easy.

We hit some traffic going into New York City, because a giant steam pipe exploded under Grand Central Station last night and these things kind of stunt Manhattan a bit.

My flight was slightly delayed, but I have a good book (Traveling Mercies by Ann Lamott). I was seated beside a doula on my flight, so we had planty to speak about (and I'm very happy to note that I definitely look pregnant now!).

The train ride into Chicago from the airport was largely uneventful until Tuberculine Tony sat next to me and began coughing every 15 seconds. OK, so I'm not totally certain his name was Tony and I do hope and pray that his coughing was stimulated by something other than tuberculosis...but when you're pregnant and on mass transit, the mind does amazing things. Worse than the coughing was his bag of lunch. It smelled awful.

I survived the train ride as well as the walking up and down a lot of stairs with my 30-lb. suitcase (I should mention that I fit everything I need for the next 10 days into one fairly small suitcase...and I'm very proud).

Arriving at the Hilton was a very strange experience. I was here in December of 2000 for the Midwest Band and Orchestra Convention. My concert band was performing. We were here for 3 days, I think, but I feel as if I was here, in every corner of the lobby and exhibition area, for months. It feels eerily familiar, and the memory of my life in 2000 comes rushing back every time I round a corner.

And I've rounded my share of corners today, because my room isn't ready yet! I tried to check in at 3:12 p.m. but my room is dirty, and they can't just move me because...I'm high maintenance. I'm allergic to down and need hypo-allergenic bedding. I did ask for this in February when I reserved my room (or was it January?), but the nice folks at Hilton check-in gave me a $25 meal credit to be used at any time during my stay.

With at least an hour to spend, I first went looking for the conference registration area. I found it after some wandering, and I now have all my good conference stuff, which I can't wait to sit and read! I'll read everything, cover to cover, because I'm like that. :)

Then I came straight to the technology room, to see my dear friend and (former) co-Leader, Shelly, who is working here. I'm still in denial that she ever left New York, so it's wonderful to be able to see her here. (Right now, I'm basking in the fact that she's right beside me, because once this conference starts cranking up, I doubt I'll be able to find her so easily.)

My feet are tired, but I feel good and excited. I'll run on adrenaline for awhile, for sure.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

All packed...and a bummer

I'm all packed! And it's just 1 a.m.! I'm leaving my house in 6 hours, so this will be short so I can get a little bit of sleep.

Lara won't make the conference after all. :( I'm really bummed. I guess we'll have to meet some other time.

Anyway, I managed to fit everything into one reasonably small suitcase. And that's everything for the conference AND for another whole week in the midwest with my family. Everything except the maternity swimsuit I won on eBay and thought I'd have by now...here's hoping my husband remembers to bring it if it arrives before he and our children leave for Chicago.

I'm bringing make-up. This amuses people who know me well, because I can pretty much count on one hand the number of times each year I apply make-up. Our annual family photo (Christmastime), if I'm giving a recital or performing a solo, if I have a speaking engagement. Occasionally I'll wear make-up to a wedding or a party or something, but not regularly. I'm not sure I'll wear it at the conference. I got a good laugh at myself when I thought about how I'm actually considering wearing make-up to an event that is largely attended by women.

Clearly, this make-up thing is not about making myself attractive to someone else!