Memorable Monday 3

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon sitting in the cancer ward waiting to hear my name called. I have been experiencing some pain in my right breast and felt some places that didn’t seem right to me. So I went to the hospital to see my OBGYN. I waited and waited and was finally seen. The midwife first examined me and I told her of my family history. Since my mother died of breast cancer at the age of 44, she felt that the Dr. should also come in. I explained that I was still breastfeeding and wasn’t sure if it was related to that or not.

The Dr. was very thorough and checked both of my breasts. But then said that he would like to send me over to the oncologist for a better examination. They asked if I had ever had a mammogram and I said that I hadn’t, so they called over to the oncology ward and gave an introduction for me.

I felt pretty confident that it wasn’t cancer but still, having your doctor tell you to go to the cancer ward is a bit disconcerting. I walked down the hall and registered with the oncology department with the help of a very kind nurse. She had no idea whether I had cancer or not but she saw me as a mother with a young child and treated me with the utmost kindness.

I felt my heart beating a little faster than usual and I worried as Violet heard the doctors talking about where I was going. She understands more Japanese than I do. And she heard them telling me that i was going to be checked by a different doctor, she wanted to know exactly where we were going. She knows about cancer because of all the family members we have lost to this disease. I didn’t want to lie to her but also didn’t want to cause her undo worry. So I just told her we were going to get my milky looked at by another doctor who would look at a picture of the inside of it. She was satisfied with that.

We sat there waiting and I couldn’t help but notice how the lights were darker in this ward than in the OBGYN ward. It was quiet and most of the patients that we saw waiting there were hunched over and seemed to be in a certain amount of pain. Some were young and some were obviously in there late 70’s or 80’s. The ones who made eye contact with me gave me sympathetic smiles and I could tell they were wondering how I was and what I was there for. Violet’s smiles and energy definitely seemed to lift their spirits too.

I figured that I was going to get a mammogram but was hoping they would let me have an ultrasound instead as I was concerned about radiating my breast milk. Just in case though. I told Violet that she might not be able to drink milkies after my exam for a bit. She looked worried and said she would like to drink some before we went in. A woman in her mid 70’s walked up and said “おいしそう“, which means, looks delicious. She went on to say how rare it was to see a girl her age drinking breastmilk and how wonderful it was. I felt encouraged and continued to smile down and my sweet girl.

Sitting there, waiting with her in the cancer wing filled me with so many memories. My mother was everything to me. She was my first friend, she was my confidant she was my hero. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, I wasn’t there. I was away at college and had to hear about it over the phone. How I wish I could’ve been sitting there holding her hand instead.

I was able to sit with her through some of her treatments and drove her to some of her appointments during spring and summer vacations. We would sit there holding hands and trying to make each other smile or laugh. I was scared and she was scared. She was brave, she was selfless and showed me how to endure the impossible. Losing her was the hardest thing I have ever experienced and I pray that Violet is spared from watching me die from a disease that ravishes the body.

We sat and waited, Violet holding me and smiling at everyone around her. Finally my name was called and I had my first exam by an oncologist. I told him I was breastfeeding and he immediately offered to do an ultrasound instead of a mammogram. I didn’t even have to ask. He checked both of my breasts and and looked as thoroughly as possible. I felt very well taken care of and was thrilled to hear him say that there was absolutely nothing to worry about. Violet understood the results at the same time as I did and immediately came over and rubbed my chest and said, “Milkies! You are ok!!!” And then she patted my hand and said, “I knew you would be ok, mama! I love you!”

Today, I am thankful for the excellent health care I have experienced here in Japan. Today, I am thankful for my healthy breasts. Today, I am thankful for today!

This PSA is so powerful and never fails to make me cry. I ask you all to remember to “touch yourself”. For your self, for your husband, for your children, for your friends. Set a date and check yourself every month. It’s easy, it’s free and it’s painless.

 

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Memorable Mondays

goishibf 1.0 Some news I haven’t shared with you all…

As of April 1st 2014 I have become a stay-at-home mom again! I couldn’t be more thrilled with my new daily routine. It has been a joy to wake up knowing that I get to spend the whole day with our precious daughter. We have been enjoying taking long walks and having nature scavenger hunts, reading till we can’t read anymore, singing, playing the piano, painting and dancing. It is what I always longed to do.

Having said all that, I have recently gotten out of the swing of writing on my blogs. So in order to get back into the groove I have decided to try a couple of things to get me started again.

On Mondays I am going to try writing about a memory, “Memorable Mondays”

Wednesdays will be “Wordless Wednesdays”, where I will try to post a photo or an inspiring image I have found.

Thursdays will be “Thoughtful Thursdays”. I will try to share an inspirational quote or verse.

So here we go…..

Memorable Monday #1

When I was a teenager, I had an Aunt who was breastfeeding her first daughter. My aunt has always been a very strong, independent woman and she came across to me as a very confident breast-feeder. She would feed my cousin whenever she was hungry. No matter where we were. She was the first of my 8 aunts that I ever saw feeding outside of the back room at my grandmother’s house. She always had on clothing that provided easy access for nursing and she laughed when my little cousin would call out “teta mama teta!”. Her eyes sparkled when she laughed and smiled down at her growing baby.

I remember one particular occasion when the whole family was taken aback by her nursing in public. We were at my oldest cousin’s wedding. My brothers and I were singing at the altar when we looked out at the pews to see my aunt opening up her blouse and exposing her breast so that her baby could drink. My youngest brother gasped and we all tried to hold in our giggles.

After the wedding was over my other relatives and my grandmother lovingly teased her about showing so much of her skin and all wondered how she could dare breastfeed during a wedding and in a church pew for that matter. It became a family inside joke that everyone had seen Aunt ***’s breasts. She never seemed to mind and laughed along with everyone else.

My Aunt also breastfeed her children longer than any of my other aunts. Her oldest nursed until the age of three. Everyone nagged her about weaning and even I joined in on the teasing. Me, a childless teenager, teasing my aunt about breastfeeding. I can’t even imagine doing something like that now. She took it all in stride though. At least that is what I gathered from the outside….

Now here I am still breastfeeding my 4 1/2 year old daughter and the shoe is on the other foot. I get occasional questions from family members about when I am going to wean. But the fact that I live across the ocean and only see my family for about 2 weeks out of a year probably has something to do with that. I think I am the most blatant public nurser in my family. And when I nursed her in the pews of both my grandparents funerals last summer, they all turned a blind eye.

I truly believe that although I didn’t know it at the time, watching my aunt nurse with such confidence helped mold me into the mother I am today. The memories I have of being around her while she breastfed her children gives me courage and strength and help me to feel like what I am doing is normal and natural. So, although I am not going to mention her name, I know she will know this is about her when she reads it and I want to tell her thank you. Thank you, dear aunt, for being brave and fearless. Thank you for being strong and confident and for showing me how beautiful this experience truly is. I love you.

Thank you to all the mothers out there that nourish their children in the company of others. You may not know it, but you are paving the way for so many other mothers. You have the ability to change the way breastfeeding is perceived. You can make a difference in the lives of those around you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

goishibf 2.0

 

 

 

 

When you forget to put it away…

When I first started nursing Violet in public I felt a little self conscious. I worried that someone might be watching me and not in a good way…. I worried especially if there were too many men around. I used a cover when out in public and sometimes in my own home when I had guests over. The cover I used had a nice curve at the top and so I could still look into Violet’s eyes.

As I got more used to feeding her and more used to baring my breasts in public, I decided to try without the cover. She never really liked being behind the cover and I often felt like we were playing tug-o-war with the it. I felt like I was showing more using the cover because she would always pull it away and there would be my breast. Whereas, if I just pulled my shirt aside a little, her head alone would hide most of my breast.

The key to nursing in public with confidence for me is starting out by reminding myself that I am not doing anything wrong. Second, I try not to make eye contact with anyone other than my baby. That way if people are looking at me I don’t have to see their smirks or appalled looking eyes. When I feed my daughter the only thing that matters at that moment is her. And if I do happen to let curiosity get to me and take a peek up at the room around me, I make it quick. If I find disapproving eyes, I flash a quick confident smile. If I find smiles of encouragement, I sigh with a contended heart and imagine that maybe that person is recalling their nursing days.

Sometimes nursing in public can be a great source of laughs, if you aren’t the bashful type. Here’s my favorite comical NIP moment.
When my daughter was about 6 months old we were at a park having a picnic under the cherry trees. This called Hanami in Japan. When the blossoms are in full bloom the parks are flooded with people picnicking, singing, sleeping and taking pictures.
My husband and I were enjoying a nice little lunch and Violet decided she wanted some lunch too. So I pulled over the flap to my nursing shirt and let her nurse until she fell asleep. There was a middle aged couple sitting on a blanket across from us and they were smiling at Violet. They wife nodded approvingly at me as I started to nurse. When Violet had drifted off I let her rest on my lap in my arms and continued to eat my lunch. My husband and I were having a nice conversation about the beautiful trees and the fun we were having showing Violet her first cherry blossoms.

Suddenly, in my peripheral vision I noticed the couple across from us no longer looked so cheerful. Their smiles had turned to looks of shock complete with dropped jaws. I looked down at Violet to see if her head was tilted funny and then touched up to my nose (thinking maybe I needed a tissue). Everything seemed fine. The couple quickly began to gather up their things and started to walk away. It was then that a cool breeze began to blow and I felt a chill where I shouldn’t have felt one.

I looked down one more time and that’s when I saw it. My entire right breast was sticking out of my shirt. I don’t know how I didn’t notice it. I really don’t know how my husband didn’t notice it. But there it was for all the park to see. I quickly pulled my shirt up and giggled saying to my husband, oops, I left my boob out again! This was a common occurrence at home. All of you nursing mamas know what it’s like in the beginning when it’s just easier to leave it out than to keep putting them away and pulling them right back out again.

cherry blossomsWe still laugh about that story. And every year when we go for our cherry blossom viewing picnic and Violet wants a little milk , I always double check that both my girls are back inside my shirt after she finishes.

When you nurse in public something, some time, is bound to get exposed. Just try to look for the humor in it and keep going. At least you will have a funny story to share with your spouse and your child one day.

Happy breastfeeding and try to remember NIP is your right as a mother and it is your child’s right to eat in any place he or she is permitted to be.

Thanks for stopping by! Cherry blossoms 2

The Big Bad Cough and Mama’s Fears

Three weeks ago my sweet little girl started coughing. I had been coughing the week before that and so I assumed we both had caught the cold that was going around. Then on a Monday night she was trying to sleep and just couldn’t stop coughing. Her cough seemed to be choking her and she was waking herself up almost gagging on the sputum when she could finally cough it up.

I tried everything I could think of. I held her near the humidifier, had her sip cold water and stood in the steamy shower. The only thing that seemed to stop the coughing was to keep her awake. So at 3 am I decided to just let her stay awake. We played quietly in the dark and watched a little bit of Blue’s Clues. I was exhausted but too scared to let her sleep. I just held her close and let her nurse as much as she wanted and prayed that the cough would go away so she could get some rest.

At 5am I woke up my husband and said we needed to go the pediatrician as soon as it opened. We go to the hospital for pediatric visits here in Japan. So he dropped us off and luckily we were one of the first patients there. I looked around at all the other little sick children and worried that she would catch whatever it was they had too. She was so tired though that she just wanted to be held. I put her in her “pouch” (we use the Baby K’tan) and she snuggled up close to my chest and looked up at me with tired eyes and said “Mama I really want to sleep now. Is that ok?” I kissed the top of her head and told her to close her eyes and everything would be alright.Image My mind was racing with fear and panic. I had been going over her vaccination schedule and worried that I had missed something. She had not (has not) received her last DPT vaccine. I was terrified that she had pertussis. Although, I know it is not as dangerous for a preschooler as it is for an infant, I was still scared. I had made the mistake of reading too many stories about pertussis that ended fatally. My heart raced and my stomach was in knots.

She finally got about 45 minutes of uninterrupted sleep snuggled up next to my breast and I closed my eyes as we waited to be seen. The doctor called us in and she tried to listen to Violet’s chest without waking her but Violet stirred and started to scream terribly. She listened to the front and the back and said her left lung sounded a little weak. So she asked us to go across the hall for blood work and a chest x-ray. We had been through this last October and it was so traumatic for Violet. I was dreading it but I knew we needed to figure out what was going on.

We got to the blood lab and she was shaking and crying uncontrollably in my arms. The nurse held her arm out and Violet clung to my chest. I try so hard to be brave when these things happen but I was sleep deprived too and scared as well. Silent tears started to stream down my cheeks. I just whispered in her ear that I loved her and asked her to please not look at the needle but to look at me. She looked into my eyes and cried out in fear as the needle pierced her soft, milky skin.

When it was over she was trembling and kept trying to tell me she wanted to be brave. I told her she was brave because she did it. My husband and I are always trying to tell her that feeling her feelings is o.k. I wanted to express to her that being brave doesn’t always mean that you don’t cry. Even brave people cry sometimes. So she smiled through her tears and exclaimed “I’m brave, mama! I’m brave!” We both half laughed, half cried. Then we walked down the hall a little further to have her x-ray done.

She had just had an x-ray in October and knew that it wasn’t going to hurt but she still began to panic. I am still learning how to handle parenting in our gentle style when something has to be done. I don’t mean that I get angry when she cries or even impatient in a situation like this. What I mean is I struggle with getting the other people to wait and understand how she is feeling. In a medical office (in the US or here in Japan) the nurses and doctors often just want and need to get a procedure or test done. They see crying, fearful children every single day and I guess sometimes they get numb to it. I have often felt pushed aside or felt that my daughters feelings were not validated in situations like these.

When she was 2 years old and receiving a vaccine, somehow I was pushed out of the office and had the door shut in my face. I had cried during her 9 month well baby check up because I felt they were being too rough with her at that clinic and was branded weak by an overpowering nurse. So for some reason on this day she decided I just needed to leave the room. I have seen other parents leave their baby/toddler with the nurse too. I don’t know if I have ever seen this at the doctor back home. I am fairly certain that I haven’t.

Violet was crying and I was struggling to keep her still for the vaccine. So the nurse grabbed her from my lap and forced me out of the door. It happened so fast and took my breath away so quickly that I didn’t have a chance to stop it from happening. The door was closed in my face and I was left there on the other side listening to my daughters terrified screams, screaming for mama. I stood up against the door calling out her name. Other parents stared at me but I didn’t care. I cried and cried out her name. When the door was finally opened I gave the nurse the angriest look I could muster up through my tears. I cradled my sweet girl and promised her that I would never let that happen again. I still have nightmares and suffer from guilt that I wasn’t more assertive. I have learned from that experience though and I have never again let a nurse or doctor take her from my arms.

Back to the most recent experience. When we were trying to get her x-ray taken I couldn’t get Violet to hold still and stand in front of the x-ray machine. She wanted me to hold her. Of course I couldn’t hold her during the x-ray. So I stood beside her trying to hold her in place. Two male technicians were in the room and they ended up grabbing her arms and holding her arms out to either side. One of them grabbed directly on to where she had just been poked with a needle for her blood work. I wanted them to wait and to let her calm down first. But again, it happened fast. And they had a remote that they could control the x-ray machine with. So all of this only lasted 10 seconds max. Still I felt like I had failed to let her work through her feelings and come to do it on her own. Maybe she never would have. I am not sure. How do other gentle parents handle situations like this?

I feel that my lack of ability to speak proper Japanese often impedes my ability to parent the way I want to in public places such as this. We left radiology and made our way back to the pediatric ward to wait for the results. She was too shaken up to fall back asleep and just nursed through her tears until she finally calmed her breathing once more. Forty-five minutes later we were called in to get the results. The doctor showed us the x-ray and pointed out the little white lines in her lungs that showed she had an infection.

Mycoplasma. Again. She just had mycoplasma in October! How could this be. Violet never had a fever this time around and so I didn’t know her cough was anything serious. The cough was much worse this time around though. Much more violent. We were given a 3 day dose of zithromax, an expectorant and bronchial dilating patches that go on her back. I was relieved that the diagnosis wasn’t more serious, in my mind I was fearing the worst. Pertussis or TB. We went home and had a little lunch and I held her upright on the couch as she took a little rest.

We ended up going back to the hospital 3 times in 2 weeks. On the second trip we were given a nebulizer for free that we get to keep at home. It is small and portable. I was so thankful to have it and it brought me comfort that we had something to give her relief during the night. I held Violet in a cradle position but more upright, while sitting on the sofa every night for 2 weeks. She slept for about 5 hours max each night and I slept maybe 2 hours. It was a long and exhausting 2 weeks. But thankfully she is finally not coughing anymore. We are sleeping in our family bed again and my body is trying to recover from the lack of sleep.

It was so hard to watch her struggle with this cough. She had a decreased appetite for those 2 weeks as well. Thankfully, she could still nurse whenever she wanted and I was never worried about her getting dehydrated or going without nutrients. Full term breastfeeding has so many wonderful benefits. Even though she was sick we definitely enjoyed our time at home together. We snuggled, we drew, we read,we laughed, we danced, made muffins and she ran around the house naked (one of her favorite things to do).

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The night before Violet was to return to nursery school I started having severe panic attacks about her getting sick again. I heard from a friend that TB was becoming more prevalent in Japan and we did not vaccinate her for that. My heart raced and I couldn’t catch my breath. My husband and I scoured the internet for information on TB in Japan and the BCG vaccine. My mind often gets the better of me and what ifs start haunting my mind. Ever since the Tsunami I find that my worry and panic are at a higher level than they used to be. When it concerns my daughter’s health and safety especially. Gabe and I finally arrived at the decision that she was safe to go to school but that we would definitely get her vaccinated when she was 100% well again.

My mind still plays tricks on me though and I go back and forth as to whether or not it is necessary. It is so hard to live and raise a child in a foreign country when you are not fluent in the language. I kick myself for not studying harder. I feel ashamed and feel that i have let her down. Also, I really dislike my tendencies to panic and worry. I am trying to rest in the peace of knowing that I cannot control everything. I can only do my best to make well informed decisions. Being a mom is hard work! It is the best job I have ever been granted but it is definitely not easy.

How do you deal with worries about illness for your children?

What are your favorite cough remedies?

What are your feelings toward vaccination?

There’s another room for you

It has been a little over a month since I wrote about nursing in public. Unfortunately, I have now joined the ranks of mothers who have been humiliated for doing what is their right as a mother in public. Admittedly, I have been expecting this to happen at some point since breastfeeding a 3 year old is not that common. Nonetheless, I still felt hurt by what occurred. Here’s what happened to us. I am sure there have been far worse confrontations with much more harsh words spoken but this is our little story. I will lead in to it with where we were and why we were there so that you can get a clear picture of how we were feeling.

Violet had been coughing for 3 weeks and had been to 2 different doctors to get medicine for it. I had also been coughing and had a fever ranging from 102-104 for the last 3 days. We were both tired and ready to feel better. I decided to take her to the pediatrician at the hospital that Monday morning because she was out of medicine and needed it to help stop coughing at night. It is as common to go to the hospital to see the doctor because it is all covered the same with our social insurance.

I got there as early as I could to beat the crowds because the only other pediatrician in town is closed on Mondays and cold season has begun here in Iwate. When we arrived there was only one other little girl there with her mother. I was certain that we would be seen quickly. The crowd started piling in and soon there were not enough seats for everyone waiting to be seen.

It turns out there is a way to make an appointment ahead of time because we waited for over an hour before we were seen. In that hour Violet nursed once. She didn’t feel like eating breakfast that morning so I knew she was hungry.

We were finally called in and the doctor decided to do a blood test and take a chest x-ray since she had been coughing for so long. We were asked to go across the hall to the blood lab this time for blood work. Usually they just do the finger prick right there in the pediatric ward. Now that she is 3 they wanted us to go to the blood lab and have a needle stuck in her tiny arm and fill a small vile with her blood. Wow!

We got to the lab and sat down to wait. I decided I needed to tell her what was about to happen. I tried to explain it as calmly as possible to her. I said “Today the doctor needs to check your blood to see if there is any bacteria in there. It will help him decide what kind of medicine to give you. Usually they stick your finger to test your blood. Today it will be a little different. The nurse is going to put a needle into your vein to take your blood test. I am going to be honest with you sweetie, it will hurt, but it will be over really fast and then we can get some ice cream.”She looked at me with wide eyes and clutched my hand.

A 6 year old girl was called before her and Violet watched very closely. That little girl did not shed one tear nor did she even wince. Violet was so surprised. She looked at me and said “I’m going to be brave like Onechan (big sister in Japanese).”

It was her turn and I carried her up to the chair. She put her arm on the table and started to cry. She made the mistake of looking at the needle, or I rather, made the mistake of not distracting her when it made it’s appearance. I tried to tell her “Look at mommy baby, don’t look at the needle. Look at Mommy sweetheart.” She couldn’t pull her eyes away from what was happening and said “I’m trying mommy but it hurts so bad!” It took all I had not to loose it and cry along with her. Instead I just held her tight and whispered in her ear that I loved her and it was almost over. It was done and she flung her arms around my neck and trembled with fear.

We made our way over to the x-ray lab and she was not anymore fond of that experience either. I struggled to get her to hold still in front of the machine as she shook again in fear of what might poke her this time. I tried to tell her it was just a picture. I don’t know how, but the technician got the x-ray done and told us we could leave.

We made our way back to the pediatric ward slightly traumatized and very exhausted. Violet wanted nothing more than to cling to my breast and be held close. I figured we would be out the door in 30 minutes since the blood work usually takes 15 minutes with the finger prick test. We looked around and finally found a spot to sit and we did what felt natural. She snuggled up on my lap and pulled down my shirt and started to nurse.

Some of the other kids around looked on curiously and smiled when they realized what she was doing. One little girl was so tickled by it that she pulled on her mother’s shirt to get her attention. Her mom looked up and hugged her daughter from behind while they looked on smiling. I imagine they were a nursing couple once upon a time.

Then I realized there were some other glances coming our way. Not so friendly glances. One mother glared at me and turned her son’s head away from us. Luckily, we did see an acquaintance from a play group we used to go to before I returned to work. She was there with her second child, a 3 month old baby boy. She stood next to us and smiled and laughed with us. She commented on how wonderful it was that Violet was still breastfeeding and said she felt like she gave up to quickly with her boys. She stayed and talked with us until she was called in.

That’s when it happened. A nurse came up to me and bent down low to speak to me. She said (in Japanese) “Have you already seen the doctor? Are you waiting here? Did you finish the blood test?” “Yes, I am still waiting. I have seen the doctor once but I am waiting for the test result,” I replied. “There is a room around the corner for breastfeeding. Let me show you where it is. You can wait there”, she said.“I am ok here. Thank you.” She began again, “People are looking at you. People are looking uncomfortable. Why don’t you use the room. Here in Japan…” I quickly interrupted her, “That is not ok. I don’t care. This is natural. I will stay here.” She started again, “People in Japan…” Again, I interrupted, “That is not ok. I will stay here.” Finally she seemed to understand that I was not going to leave. She said “Yes, I see” and hurried off quickly while avoiding eye contact.

I felt my face turning red with anger and I looked around the room to see who had been watching us. Violet looked up at me and said “What did she say Mommy? Are you ok?” I assured her that everything was fine and that we were not doing anything wrong. Once she finished nursing I got up and walked away to find a place to call my husband. The moment I heard his voice my anger turned to tears. I felt humiliated. I felt sad. I felt angry.

I was not and am not embarrassed to nurse my child in public but I was embarrassed by being put on display as if I was doing something wrong. My husband assured me that he fully supported me and that he was grateful for what I do for our daughter. He helped calm me down and then we went back to wait for our results.

We had been at the hospital for 3 hours now. We were tired and ready to leave. Violet was getting sleepy so I put her in our sling (she still fits quite snuggly in our Baby K’tan) and she started nursing again. When we got back to the waiting room this time, I decided to stand right near the entrance to the exam rooms so that the nurses would see that I was still waiting. A different nurse approached me and said that blood lab results usually take an hour and that we would be called in soon.

We finally got the results. Violet had mycoplasma otherwise known as walking/communal pneumonia. The doctor was fairly certain that I had it to so he suggested that I go to my doctor as well. We got our prescription and were able to leave the hospital.

We bought the promised ice cream and took a cab home. I was too exhausted to go to another doctor. When my husband got home he drove us to see my doctor where I had blood work and a chest x-ray as well. The doctor decided to put me on antibiotics for mycoplasma just to be safe. I asked repeatedly if these meds were safe for breastfeeding and he said “she is 3 now it won’t hurt her.”

When I got home I decided to do some research of my own. I asked some other breastfeeding mommies in a facebook group and also sent an email to my mother-in-law (who is a General Nurse Practitioner). Everyone said the same thing. Levofloxacin is not safe for breastfeeding. So I decided to not take it and go back to the doctor in the morning to ask for Zythromax.

When I got there the nurses thought I was crazy for questioning the doctor. I tried to explain that this drug was not recommended for breastfeeding. They kept telling me that the dr said it was ok because she is 3. I tried again. Then another nurse came out and sat down next to me. She said “Violet only drinks at night so it is ok.” I don’t know why she thought that. I have never said that she only drinks at night. I had to explain that she drinks often and when we are together she drinks very often. The nurses all looked at each other surprised and said “OK we will tell the doctor.”

When I got called in I could tell that he was a bit exasperated. He smirked at me and said “Violet is 3 now. She doesn’t need your milk anymore. Her metabolic system is complete. She doesn’t need to breastfeed anymore.” I told him that I know she doesn’t need it but she wants it and that is ok. He tried again, “this is a chance for her to be independent from you. This is a chance for her to stop.” This went on and on. Apparently he thinks that weaning is an easy thing to do.

Finally, I told him “I am not going to stop. Especially not right now while we are both sick. I am not going to stop and I am not going to take the medicine. I am uncomfortable with it.” He resided with a smile and said, “OK, then I will write you a prescription for Zythromax.” I walked out of the office knowing that the nurses were all talking about how I was still breastfeeding and that I had questioned the doctor’s prescription.

It was a rough couple of days. I felt humiliated. I felt sad. I felt angry. I also felt empowered by using my voice as a mother and a woman to stand up for my child’s right to do what is natural. I was thankful that I found the courage to question my doctor (whom I respect and love) about the medication I was going to take.

Speak up Mamas! It is our right. It is our duty. You’ll be amazed at how strong you feel after you’ve done it. This whole experience has strengthened my desire to keep going, to keep nursing and to keep doing it wherever and whenever my child needs me.

Here she is snuggled with her friends on the couch. Home sick for a week but feeling better now.

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“If my breastfeeding makes you uncomfortable, why don’t you put a blanket over your head”

I am so thankful that I have never had to deal with someone asking me to stop nursing in public. The only times that anyone approached me we in  the waiting room of the pediatric ward at the hospital in my town. (Going to the hospital to see the pediatrician is common practice in Japan.) I was nursing while waiting to see the dr and a nurse approached me and kindly told me that there was a nursing room around the corner and to feel free to use it. That happened twice and both times I smiled and declined. Unfortunately, that is not the case for every breastfeeding mom out there. I have had strange glances as I continue to nurse my soon to be 3 year old anywhere and everywhere, including holding her and nursing as we walk. She still loves it so much and I am trying to maintain a “don’t offer don’t refuse” policy as often as possible. I wanted to write about the first time we nursed in public without a cover.

Until Violet was around 1 month old, I used a nursing cover all the time when we nursed in public. I used a great one that had a hoop at the top so that we could still look at each other. I continued to use it when I felt that other people in the room might be uncomfortable seeing my exposed breast. It was somewhat surprising to me that most of the time I found myself using it around extended family. The first time I remember being in public and ripping of the cover was when Violet was just over a month old. We had to travel to Tokyo to get Violet’s passport because we were planning a trip home for Christmas. We were so nervous about traveling on the bullet train and local subway trains in Tokyo with our newborn baby but had no other choice. We had established a great nursing relationship but she still fussed when we she had to nurse on the left side. The weather was starting to get cooler and the heater on the trains had been turned on. She did fine on the bullet train ride, which was around 3 hours. In fact, I think she slept through the majority of it. When we had to change trains and get on the local subway our calm baby turned into a grumpy, hungry and hot baby. We were trying to get to our hotel and it was evening by that time. The train was full of business men going home. Violet was tired of the cover and she was hot and uncomfortable. She also wanted me to stand and bounce her while she nursed. (She still loves this). I was quite used to doing this at home but not really used to doing it on a moving subway train. But she would have it no other way. She started crying, loudly. I might add here that public transportation vehicles in Japan are very quiet. People don’t talk or laugh to loudly and pretty much keep to themselves. Violet’s cries were echoing through our quiet train. I was trying anything I could to quiet her and make her more comfortable. Most moms and dads knows that stress of the parent passes to the baby. She could sense that I was worried about the other people on the train watching us. She could feel that I was starting to feel frantic. So she in turn joined me by crying louder and louder. She refused to nurse under the cover. Finally, I looked at my husband and said, “I’m just gonna do it.” So I tore off the cover opened my shirt and nursed our baby. I also stood up and started bouncing her because I knew that was what she really wanted. In no time at all she was calm and relaxed and quiet. At first, my husband seemed nervous about all the other men looking at me. He stood up and tried to become a human shield to offer some privacy. But with all the bouncing I was doing and the rocking that the train was doing, it really wasn’t doing much good. So he sat down and kept a watch out instead. We got some surprised looks but mostly, people just looked relieved that she wasn’t crying anymore. We were relieved too. That trip I nursed her all over Tokyo. We nurse at the US Embassy, in the hotel lobby, in a taxi, at Starbucks and on the subway. We were on our way to becoming a fearless NIP (nursing in public) couple.
Now that Violet is almost 3 I have found that most people in my family are used to seeing me pull out my breast at any given moment. Whether they agree with my extended nursing or not, no one pressures me to stop. I do try to be cautious when possible because I don’t want to make my family feel uncomfortable. One of the most wonderful things that we experienced as a NIP couple this summer were the questions that my sister (almost 10 years old) and my niece (9 years old) asked. They were both breastfed. And both are very intelligent little girls. First was my sister. I was nursing Violet in her room as we all played together. She has watched me nurse Violet in all kinds of places and situations (even though we only see each other during summer vacation). She was lovingly looking on and stroking Violet’s face and asked about my necklace. I was wearing a silver disc that said Lactavist on it. She said, “What is a lactavist?” I preceded to tell her that a lactavist is someone who promotes breastfeeding, loves bresatfeeding and tries to encourage others to do it too. She smiled and said, “oh, you are definitely one of those.” But what do you have to promote breastfeeding? Do some mothers not do it?” she asked. I told her that yes, some mothers don’t do it. Some have a medical issue that keeps them from doing it, some feel uncomfortable doing it and some just don’t want to.” “Why would anyone not want to do it?” she asked in a shocked voice. I told her that I wasn’t really sure because I can’t imagine not doing it. She smiled and we continued to talk about how she thought it was good to breastfeed your baby and we talked about the benefits of it as well. Then she said this, “you know what is strange? Someone can drink breastmilk for a long time as a baby and when they are older they can’t remember what it taste like. Isn’t that strange. I can’t remember what it taste like anymore.” I smiled and said “yes, that is strange isn’t it.” And we both smiled.

My niece has also seen me nurse everywhere. In fact all the kids have. This summer they would often tell me when they thought Violet wanted to nurse. And they all learned about the word “Lactavist”.
My niece (who was breastfed until she self-weaned at almost a year old) and I were sitting on the couch this summer together when Violet decided to nurse. My niece smiled and said, “She sure likes her milkies doesn’t she?” “She sure does!” I said. “You know, I know I was breastfed but I can’t really remember what it taste like. Isn’t that wierd?” “It is strange that we can forget something we love so much when we’re babies so quickly.”

I really hope and pray that these two girls remember their lactavist sister/aunt when they have babies of their own one day. I hope and pray that they remember how normal and wonderful it is to nourish a baby in this way and that they never feel ashamed to do it in public.