Tuesday, November 9, 2010

All The Problems In Life Can Be Solved

Walking through life I've found you can pretty much solve everything with two simple things.
If you need it to stop, use Duck Tape. If you need it to go, use WD-40.

That is, until I lactated. At first, I was a little timid about it. The liquid essence was meant only for my baby and that was it. I soon discovered that it was meant for much much more.

Have you ever tried to suction a baby's nose when there's a humongous booger hanging out way up there? It's not easy, let me tell you. There's saline, but from personal experience, it stinks, literally. It was by happy accident that I sprayed her in the nose and the slime evacuated much easier. Hmm, there must be something to this breastmilk stuff.

Cough? Eh, breastmilk will fix it (yes, on the hubby/aunt/sister/brother/cousin/unsuspecting stranger as well)

Diarrhea? Breastmilk can fix that too.

Acne? Yep, you guessed it. Breastmilk to the rescue once again.

Pink eye going around in your kid's class? A couple squirts a day will fix your kidlet right up.

Eye or Ear infection? No need for those cold yucky drops, just a couple squirts a day at just the right temperature will fix that too.

Need something lubricated? Breastmilk sure smells a lot better than WD-40 (and cheaper than KY)!

Woke up with a crusty eye? Breastmilk can rid you of that as well.

Need a quick facial? How about silky smooth hair? A quick scrub with breastmilk will have you good to go.

Want soap with all natural ingredients? Make breastmilk soap!

Play outside all day and forget the insect repellent? No fear, squirt some milk on those annoyingly itchy red spots and rub it on. Begone with the itchies!

Need to clean a contact lens that popped out? No solution with you? Gasp! Use your milk! It's FREE!

Buy a gorgeous vintage pair of earrings at a thrift store and just dying to wear them RIGHT NOW? Don't fret! Use your milk to clean away any lingering germs from the previous user.

A little person fall and get hurt? Does he need more than just a kiss to make it better? Snuggle him close and offer him your breast. As he latches on look into his eyes, kiss his forehead and let him know that everything will be alright. You'll see the love in his eyes, the trust, the healing come over him and you'll know that you are doing absolutely the most wonderful thing you could for him at that moment. He'll thank you for it and you'll have those moments cemented in your memory when one day he no longer fits on your lap or no longer needs those kisses to make everything better. Those moments will be the ones that leave just a small slither of your heart intact when he must find his own way in his own life. You'll never forget those moments when Mommy made everything better with just a kiss, hug and sip. They'll be gone, but you'll always remember. Always.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Leaky Boob Exclusive!

It's World Breastfeeding Week!

I will be participating the The Leaky B@@b's Blog Carnival for World Breastfeeding Week. Be sure to check her blog to read about Breastfeeding from Every Angle!

This is an exclusive design tributed to The Leaky B@@b!

You can download here

Why Yes, I Am Royalty

It's World Breastfeeding Week!

I will be participating the The Leaky B@@b's Blog Carnival for World Breastfeeding Week. Be sure to check her blog to read about Breastfeeding from Every Angle!

I thought we'd end the week with something special!
Most every girl, at one time or another, wants to be a princess. Now that I'm playing grown-up, I have declared myself a Queen -- and so are you!

NOTE: I have not tested these designs! Please use scrap to test them first and if any problems arise, please let me know so I can adjust the design. Thanks!

I have included .pes, .jef, and .hus. If you need a different extension, please let me know and if I can adapt it for you, I will be more than happy to do so.

Download Here

For file extension *.dst, you can download it here.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Breastmilk: It's Good for the Heart! The More You Eat, The More You...

It's World Breastfeeding Week!

I will be participating the The Leaky B@@b's Blog Carnival for World Breastfeeding Week. Be sure to check her blog to read about Breastfeeding from Every Angle!

When I was designing this one, I initially left it as a "heart". After looking at it, I thought, you know, I could make those breasts! And so, I did!

NOTE: I have not tested these designs! Please use scrap to test them first and if any problems arise, please let me know so I can adjust the design. Thanks!

I have included .pes, .jef, and .hus. If you need a different extension, please let me know and if I can adapt it for you, I will be more than happy to do so.

Download Here and Here

If you need extension *.dst, you can download those here and here.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Lackies! Lacky-taters! Lactaters! Oh My!

It's World Breastfeeding Week!

I will be participating the The Leaky B@@b's Blog Carnival for World Breastfeeding Week. Be sure to check her blog to read about Breastfeeding from Every Angle!

This one's for the Lactaters (spell check says that's not a word, but I'm using it anyway!). Simple design+natural process=awesomeness!

NOTE: I have not tested these designs! Please use scrap to test them first and if any problems arise, please let me know so I can adjust the design. Thanks!

I have included .pes, .jef, and .hus. If you need a different extension, please let me know and if I can adapt it for you, I will be more than happy to do so.

Download Here

I would love to see photos of the finished product!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Have You Heard About BestMilk?

It's World Breastfeeding Week!

I will be participating the The Leaky B@@b's Blog Carnival for World Breastfeeding Week. Be sure to check her blog to read about Breastfeeding from Every Angle!

Breastmilk is the best milk! Raise awareness with this cheeky design! In case you haven't notice -- it's all about the boobs this week!

NOTE: I have not tested these designs! Please use scrap to test them first and if any problems arise, please let me know so I can adjust the design. Thanks!

I have included .pes, .jef, and .hus. If you need a different extension, please let me know and if I can adapt it for you, I will be more than happy to do so.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It's All Fun and Games...Until You Squirt Someone's Eye Out

It's World Breastfeeding Week!

I will be participating the The Leaky B@@b's Blog Carnival for World Breastfeeding Week. Be sure to check her blog to read about Breastfeeding from Every Angle!

There comes a time in every new mom's journey where she will unknowingly have two circles, rapidly growing in size, on her shirtfront. Whether it's from hearing your own offspring sprouting tears or another nearby bundle, it's inevitable. For me, there was a moment in the Pediatrician's office when I suddenly began producing mass amounts of milk on day four soaking me, baby, and you, if you were near enough. Armed with stripper-sized breasts, I quickly learned that during a forceful let-down, I could squirt to the other side of the room. I found this not-too-funny at the time. Now, I can look back and laugh, because I'm sure it was quite the sight! Enjoy this design!

NOTE: I have not tested these designs! Please use scrap to test them first and if any problems arise, please let me know so I can adjust the design. Thanks!

I have included .pes, .jef, and .hus. If you need a different extension, please let me know and if I can adapt it for you, I will be more than happy to do so.

I would love to see photos of the finished product!

Download Here

Monday, August 2, 2010

Servin' It Up Fresh since 2004

It's World Breastfeeding Week!

I will be participating the The Leaky B@@b's Blog Carnival for World Breastfeeding Week. Be sure to check her blog to read about Breastfeeding from Every Angle!

On demand, at any time, perfectly mixed, temperature's just right... Babes around here have it straight from the tap! Enjoy this cheeky (or booby?) design!

NOTE: I have not tested these designs! Please use scrap to test them first and if any problems arise, please let me know so I can adjust the design. Thanks!

I have included .pes, .jef, and .hus. If you need a different extension, please let me know and if I can adapt it for you, I will be more than happy to do so.

Download Here

I would love to see photos of the finished product!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Aaaahhh! It's a REAL MONSTER!

It's World Breastfeeding Week!

I will be participating the The Leaky B@@b's Blog Carnival for World Breastfeeding Week. Be sure to check her blog to read about Breastfeeding from Every Angle!

As all breastfeeding mothers know, there comes a time in all nursing relationships where your nursling becomes a monster. Rooting after your breast in a fashion that can only be described as frantic yet frightening, especially if those white gems of teeth are showing! Those moments inspired this design, so please enjoy!

NOTE: I have not tested these designs! Please use scrap to test them first and if any problems arise, please let me know so I can adjust the design. Thanks!

I have included .pes, .jef, and .hus. If you need a different extension, please let me know and if I can adapt it for you, I will be more than happy to do so.

Download here

I would love to see photos of the finished product!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rep Ramsey says No Incident = No Change Needed?

Recently I received a reply to my letter writing campaign from Rep. Bob Ramsey (R). Here is what he had to say:
Legal did some checking on this. The statute was enacted in 2006 by HB 3582 by Lois DeBerry. It passed overwhelmingly, no amendments, no hang-ups. They talked with Judy Narramore since the bill went through Health. She doesn't recall any rationale for making it up to 12 months, other than that is when typically people stop breastfeeding. I don't see any reason why it would be a problem to remove the age restriction. I highly doubt that this is even a problem for any mother out there who is still breastfeeding after 12 months. If there are any incidents needing consideration, please contact your Legislative office and we will address it again. Thanks

I thought that deserved a reply of its own, so here's what I wrote. Feel free to write him and let him know how you feel!

Dear Mr. Ramsey,
I appreciate your time and effort into this matter. With recent news from neighboring states of mothers being harassed for breastfeeding their children in public areas, I would love to see the "12 months and younger" phrase removed from the statute.

With childhood obesity rampant in Tennessee, the first step we can to aid in healthier nutrition for our next generation. Breastfeeding can significantly lower the risk of life-long obesity.
With Tennessee ranking much lower than the national average on breastfeeding, we should encourage more mothers to do so. If a mother is faltering on the decision whether to follow her instincts and feed her baby the best way or wean, we, as a society, should promote breastfeeding, not put such a young age limit on it.

As part of the medical community, I know you are aware the health benefits for mother and child are numerous. I'm sure most people will agree that is not the issue.

This is a problem for me. I know several other mothers who also feel it is a problem. The age restriction is out-dated, and is refuted by the American Association of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization, both of which recommend breastfeeding until at least 2 years of age and as long thereafter as both mother and child are comfortable. By 12 months of age, it's true that most children will no longer require to breastfeed as often as an infant, but their need to nurse is just as important as a baby 12 months old and younger.

August 1-7th is World Breastfeeding Week. This would be a fantastic time to revist this statue and eliminate the age stipulation as it is no longer the norm. A bare minimum of 2 years is recommended by health officials. The American Academy of Family Physicians 2008 Position Paper on breastfeeding states that “breastfeeding at least until the second year of a child’s life is not considered ‘extended’ breastfeeding. Rather, breastfeeding until the bare minimum age of 2 years is the norm and anything less brings about detrimental consequences. With the current law, a mother may be compelled to wean prematurely, purely out of fear of consequences, thus having a detrimental affect on her child.

Please work with your constituents to normalize breastfeeding in our society so that our children and their children will not be faced by these issues.

Again, I thank you for your time and effort into this. I truly appreciate your hard work on my, and my children's, behalf.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Box Stitch Hat Free Girls Crochet Pattern

This pattern needs testers!

Special Stitches:

Box Stitch: Yo, insert hook into ch/sp, yo, pull up a loop, yo, insert hook into next ch/sp, yo, pull up a loop, yo, pull through all five loops on hook.

Increase Box Stitch: Yo, insert hook into ch/sp, yo, pull up a loop, yo, insert hook into same ch/sp, yo, pull up a loop, yo, pull through all five loops on hook.

I used a J hook and worsted weight yarn to obtain a small child (age 2-5) hat.

Ch. 4, sl st into first ch to form a ring.
Rnd 1: *Sc in ring, Ch1. Repeat from * 3 times
Rnd 2: Ch 2, *[(yo, insert hook into ch-sp, yo, pull up a loop, yo, insert hook into next ch-sp, yo, pull up a loop, yo, pull through all five loops on hook) chain 1, (yo, insert hook into same ch-sp as last stitch, yo, pull up a loop, yo, pull through all five loops on hook.)] Repeat from * around. Join with sl st to first box stitch.
Rnd 3: Ch 2 *[(yo, insert hook into first ch-sp, yo, pull up a loop, yo, insert hook into next ch-sp, yo, pull up a loop, yo, pull through all five loops on hook) ch 1, (yo, insert hook into same ch- sp as last stitch, yo, pull up a loop, yo, pull through all five loops on hook.)] Repeat from * around. Join with sl st to first box stitch.
Rnd 4: Ch 2, *box stitch in first two ch-spaces, increase box stitch in next ch-sp. Repeat from * around. Join with sl st to first box stitch.
Rnd 5: Ch 2, *box stitch in first three ch-spaces, increase box stitch in next ch-sp. Repeat from * around. Join with sl st to first box stitch.
Rnd 6: Ch 2, Box stitch 9 times, increase box stitch 1 time, box stitch 10 times, increase box stitch one time, box stitch 9 times, increase box stitch 1 time, box stitch 2 times. Join with sl st to first box stitch.
Rnd 7: Ch. 2 Box stitch around. Join with sl st to first box stitch.
Rnd 8-? Repeat Rnd 7 unstil hat is desired length. Leave about 1/2" for edging. Do not fasten off.


Sl st into same st as joining. *Sc, dc, sc in ch 1 sp, sl st in box stitch. Repeat from * around. Join with sl st to first sl st. Fasten Off.

Weave in loose ends.

©Lisa Crigger 2008. If you post pictures of this hat online, please be kind enough to link back to my site. This pattern is for your personal use ONLY.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Komen and Planned Parenthood Boobtastic or Boobawful?

Recently I saw a post on Facebook about the Komen foundation donating money to Planned Parenthood. My initial reaction was "No way!". Then I did an internet search and was very surprised at what I found.

Breastfeeding was only briefly mentioned on the Komen page, with a mere two paragraphs. I find this disturbing because I feel that an organization whose focus is on the anatomy in question should promote breastfeeding at least a little more than this. With recent studies showing that longer breastfeeding reduces risks of various female cancers exponentially, shouldn't the Komen foundation promote breastfeeding? How about donating some money to Best for Babes who actively promote breastfeeding instead of Planned Parenthood? Just pacify me for a moment here, how about using those same funds to help NON-abortion mammogram facilities in rural areas?

That's right ladies and gents. That money you raise when you race, a portion of it goes to Planned Parenthood for the sole use of breast health. Sure, sounds good, right? Think about this, how much money does that leave PP with for abortions, birth controls -- all of which are detrimental to breast health? Studies have shown that teenage girls who began usingoral contraceptives were at a higher risk as adults for breast cancer. So my question is, why does the Komen Foundation take our money, raised to find a cure and dump it back into a foundation who readily supplies chemical laden cancerous substances to anyone, without batting an eye or mentioning the dangers? Isn't that defeating the purpose?

Playing Devil's Advocate momentarily, let's say that PP does have a designated fund ONLY for mammograms and "breast health". The $805,000 PP received in the fiscal year of 2008, could have provided over 6,000 free mammograms or even more cheap ones.

However, when a mammogram routinely costs $120 and an abortion costs anywhere from $300-600 or more, where would you put the money? Make mammograms, which are already the cheaper of the two, even cheaper, or reduce the cost of abortions so they are more "affordable"? I have no proof of this, but... I'll let you draw your own conclusions on that.

Komen Foundation acknowledges their ties here and here.

When I get to the bottom line, I guess my real problem is why is the Komen Foundation "helping" an already billion dollar company aid others and not smaller clinics or Women's Centers who are struggling to serve their ever growing patient list in the economic downturn?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tennessee State Breastfeeding Law Directly Refutes WHO and AAP

Please join me in writing to the TN state reps regarding a breastfeeding law that is outrageous! Feel free to personalize my letter below to your own situation.

sen.tim.barnes@capitol.tn.gov, rep.mike.harrison@capitol.tn.gov, sen.micheal.williams@legislature.state.tn.us, sen.diane.black@legislature.state.tn.us, sen.raymond.finney@legislature.state.tn.us, sen.mae.beavers@capitol.tn.gov, sen.andy.berke@capitol.tn.gov, sen.diane.black@capitol.tn.gov, sen.dewayne.bunch@capitol.tn.gov, sen.tim.burchett@capitol.tn.gov, sen.charlotte.burks@capitol.tn.gov, sen.rusty.crowe@capitol.tn.gov, sen.mike.faulk@capitol.tn.gov, sen.lowe.finney@capitol.tn.gov, sen.ophelia.ford@capitol.tn.gov, sen.dolores.gresham@capitol.tn.gov, sen.thelma.harper@capitol.tn.gov, sen.joe.haynes@capitol.tn.gov, sen.douglas.henry@capitol.tn.gov, sen.roy.herron@capitol.tn.gov, sen.doug.jackson@capitol.tn.gov, sen.jack.johnson@capitol.tn.gov, sen.brian.kelsey@capitol.tn.gov, sen.bill.ketron@capitol.tn.gov, sen.jim.kyle@capitol.tn.gov, sen.beverly.marrero@capitol.tn.gov, sen.randy.mcnally@capitol.tn.gov, sen.mark.norris@capitol.tn.gov, sen.doug.overbey@capitol.tn.gov, lt.gov.ron.ramsey@capitol.tn.gov, sen.steve.southerland@capitol.tn.gov, sen.eric.stewart@capitol.tn.gov, sen.reginald.tate@capitol.tn.gov, sen.jim.tracy@capitol.tn.gov, sen.bo.watson@capitol.tn.gov, sen.jamie.woodson@capitol.tn.gov, sen.ken.yager@capitol.tn.gov, rep.joe.armstrong@capitol.tn.gov, rep.judy.barker@capitol.tn.gov, rep.eddie.bass@capitol.tn.gov, rep.mike.bell@capitol.tn.gov, rep.stratton.bone@capitol.tn.gov, rep.willie.borchert@capitol.tn.gov, rep.harry.brooks@capitol.tn.gov, rep.kevin.brooks@capitol.tn.gov, rep.tommie.brown@capitol.tn.gov, rep.karen.camper@capitol.tn.gov, rep.stacey.campfield@capitol.tn.gov, rep.joe.carr@capitol.tn.gov, rep.glen.casada@capitol.tn.gov, rep.jim.cobb@capitol.tn.gov, rep.ty.cobb@capitol.tn.gov, rep.kent.coleman@capitol.tn.gov, rep.jim.coley@capitol.tn.gov, rep.barbara.cooper@capitol.tn.gov, rep.charles.curtiss@capitol.tn.gov, rep.vince.dean@capitol.tn.gov, rep.john.deberry@capitol.tn.gov, rep.lois.deberry@capitol.tn.gov, rep.vance.dennis@capitol.tn.gov, rep.bill.dunn@capitol.tn.gov, rep.jimmy.eldridge@capitol.tn.gov, rep.joshua.evans@capitol.tn.gov, rep.chad.faulkner@capitol.tn.gov, rep.joanne.favors@capitol.tn.gov, rep.dennis.ferguson@capitol.tn.gov, rep.henry.fincher@capitol.tn.gov, rep.craig.fitzhugh@capitol.tn.gov, rep.richard.floyd@capitol.tn.gov, rep.dale.ford@capitol.tn.gov, rep.george.fraley@capitol.tn.gov, rep.brenda.gilmore@capitol.tn.gov, rep.jim.hackworth@capitol.tn.gov, rep.curtis.halford@capitol.tn.gov, rep.ga.hardaway@capitol.tn.gov, rep.bill.harmon@capitol.tn.gov, rep.mike.harrison@capitol.tn.gov, rep.beth.harwell@capitol.tn.gov, rep.david.hawk@capitol.tn.gov, rep.ryan.haynes@capitol.tn.gov, rep.joey.hensley@capitol.tn.gov, rep.matthew.hill@capitol.tn.gov, rep.curtis.johnson@capitol.tn.gov, rep.phillip.johnson@capitol.tn.gov, rep.sherry.jones@capitol.tn.gov, rep.ulysses.jones@capitol.tn.gov, rep.mike.kernell@capitol.tn.gov, rep.john.litz@capitol.tn.gov, rep.ron.lollar@capitol.tn.gov, rep.jon.lundberg@capitol.tn.gov, rep.susan.lynn@capitol.tn.gov, rep.mark.maddox@capitol.tn.gov, rep.debra.maggart@capitol.tn.gov, rep.pat.marsh@capitol.tn.gov, rep.judd.matheny@capitol.tn.gov, rep.jimmy.matlock@capitol.tn.gov, rep.joe.mccord@capitol.tn.gov, rep.gerald.mccormick@capitol.tn.gov, rep.steve.mcdaniel@capitol.tn.gov, rep.michael.mcdonald@capitol.tn.gov, rep.steve.mcmanus@capitol.tn.gov, rep.larry.miller@capitol.tn.gov, rep.richard.montgomery@capitol.tn.gov, rep.gary.moore@capitol.tn.gov, rep.jason.mumpower@capitol.tn.gov, spk.eme.jimmy.naifeh@capitol.tn.gov, rep.frank.niceley@capitol.tn.gov, rep.gary.odom@capitol.tn.gov, rep.joe.pitts@capitol.tn.gov, rep.mary.pruitt@capitol.tn.gov, rep.bob.ramsey@capitol.tn.gov, rep.barrett.rich@capitol.tn.gov, rep.jeanne.richardson@capitol.tn.gov, rep.dennis.roach@capitol.tn.gov, rep.donna.rowland@capitol.tn.gov, rep.charles.sargent@capitol.tn.gov, rep.johnny.shaw@capitol.tn.gov, rep.david.shepard@capitol.tn.gov, rep.tony.shipley@capitol.tn.gov, rep.janis.sontany@capitol.tn.gov, rep.mike.stewart@capitol.tn.gov, rep.eric.swafford@capitol.tn.gov, rep.john.tidwell@capitol.tn.gov, rep.harry.tindell@capitol.tn.gov, rep.curry.todd@capitol.tn.gov, rep.joe.towns@capitol.tn.gov, rep.johnnie.turner@capitol.tn.gov, rep.mike.turner@capitol.tn.gov, rep.eric.watson@capitol.tn.gov, rep.terri.lynn.weaver@capitol.tn.gov, rep.ben.west@capitol.tn.gov, rep.mark.white@capitol.tn.gov, speaker.kent.williams@capitol.tn.gov, rep.john.windle@capitol.tn.gov, rep.leslie.winningham@capitol.tn.gov, rep.eddie.yokley@capitol.tn.gov, Ann.cranford@state.tn.us

Dear Sirs and Madams,

I am writing to contact all of you today about the breastfeeding law in Tennessee.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-58-101 et seq. (2006) permits a mother to breastfeed an infant 12 months or younger in any location, public or private, that the mother is authorized to be, and prohibits local governments from criminalizing or restricting breastfeeding. Specifies that the act of breastfeeding shall not be considered public indecency as defined by § 39-13-511; or nudity, obscene, or sexual conduct as defined in § 39-17-901. (HB 3582)
Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-1-305 (1999) requires employers to provide daily unpaid break time for a mother to express breast milk for her infant child. Employers are also required to make a reasonable effort to provide a private location, other than a toilet stall, in close proximity to the workplace for this activity. (SB 1856)
I applaud your efforts to protect the rights of mothers to feed their children as God and nature intended. I am currently breastfeeding my 32 month old son. I am very disappointed to see that the law that has been passed in our state discriminates against the right of a mother to breastfeed her child in a location where she otherwise has a place to be because that child has passed his first birthday. The exact portion of the law that I am referring to states:

"A mother has a right to breastfeed her child who is twelve (12) months of age or younger in any location, public or private, where themother and child are otherwise authorized to be present."

I feel that this age limitation is arbitrary and contradictory to the current recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, theAmerican Academy of Family Physicians and the World Health Organization.

"Exclusive breastfeeding is ideal nutrition and sufficient to support optimal growth and development for approximately the first 6 months after birth. Infants weaned before 12 months of age should not receive cow's milk feedings but should receive iron-fortified infant formula. Gradual introduction of iron-enriched solid foods in the second half of the first year should complement the breast milk diet. It is recommended that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mutually desired."

"The AAFP recommends that all babies, with rare exceptions, be breastfed and/or receive expressed human milk exclusively for about the first six months of life. Breastfeeding should continue with the addition of complementary foods throughout the second half of the first year. Breastfeeding beyond the first year offers considerable benefits to both mother and child, and should continue as long as mutually desired."
American Academy of Family Physicians Policy Statement

"As a global goal for optimal maternal and child health and nutrition, all women should be enabled to practice exclusive breastfeeding and all infants should be fed exclusively on breastmilk from birth to four to six months of age. Thereafter, children should continue to be breastfed, while receiving appropriate and adequate complementary foods, for up to two years of age or beyond. This child-feeding ideal is to be achieved by creating an appropriate environment of awareness and support so that women can breastfeed in this manner."
World Health Organization, The WHO/UNICEF Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes

I cannot find enough words to voice my displeasure at the direct refusal made by the state of Tennessee to protect the rights of a breastfeeding mother simply because her baby has passed her first birthday. The notion that babies should not be breastfed past one year is one that has been pushed by formula companies because most formula fed babies are switched to cow's milk at one year of age.
Our First Lady, Michelle Obama, is a strong advocate for breastfeeding. With her "Let's Move!" campaign, she hopes to eliminate obesity within a generation by promoting breastfeeding and healthy food choices to children. While obesity is a raging problem in Tennessee, ranking second in obesity rates of the United States, shouldn't we condone, not admonish, mothers who are feeding their children breastmilk which combats childhood obesity?
I am making a plea to all of you to correct this law to protect the rights of all breastfeeding mothers, regardless of the age of her baby. I appreciate your time and consideration in this matter. With an abundance of research in favor of breastfeeding beyond the 12 month mark, please revisit this law to aid in encouragement for mother's to continue nourishing her child without the discouragement from a law such as this, which is in direct opposition from national and world organization as listed above. Just because a baby passes the 12 month mark does not mean that he will not require to nurse any less than a child younger than him.

Thank you for your time and effort into this matter.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Celebrating Six Years

Breastfeeding my Monster at a park in Rogersville, TN. 
He's nearly 3 years old here! 

Welcome to the July 2010 Carnival of Nursing in Public

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Nursing in Public hosted by Dionna and Paige at NursingFreedom.org. All week, July 5-9, we will be featuring articles and posts about nursing in public ("NIP"). See the bottom of this post for more information.


Recently my oldest daughter turned six years old. Her birthday was also something special for me; not only had I been a mother for the better part of a decade, but I had also been the owner of this super-power called lactation. I have nursed through three toddler-hoods and two weanings only missing the achievement of nursing three children by a few months. Even after all this time, I am still utterly (no pun intended!) amazed at how remarkable my body is.

During my third and last pregnancy, I was nursing both my older daughters. Our oldest, 3.5 years at the time, weaned only a few months before her brother arrived and I continued to tandem nurse the younger two until our middle child weaned at the age of 2.5 years. At 2 years 8 months, our youngest child is still nursing.

I have nursed in many places and do so proudly. I have no reason to hide! However, I haven't always felt that way. I used to be the mother to search out the fitting rooms, or sit in the car whilst the rest of my family enjoyed shopping or other outings. One day, I realized how much I was missing out on by feeling the need to hide. I didn't come to this realization from my own experience, but from one I witnessed.

While out shopping one day, I had to take my oldest daughter to the restroom. Unbeknownst to me, I walked in the public restroom to see a momma jugging an infant and trying to nurse beside a changing table in a stuffy bathroom. This wasn't a nice bathroom with lounge chairs or attendants. It was a box retailer's run of the mill generic public restroom. At first my heart sunk. Why was she nursing in the gross bathroom?! I gave the mom an encouraging smile, but really, what message did I send? I, too, was hiding when I nursed. Looking back, at least a million times, I had wished I would have told her "Good for you" or "It's sad we feel the need to hide" but I didn't. Instead, I vowed to never hide again. I can breastfeed discreetly and I will.

From that day on, I nursed anywhere and everywhere. Disneyworld? Nursed there. Gatlinburg TN? Right there on the streets. The local zoo? Many places, but a favorite of ours is overlooking the Savannah with zebras and elephants.

My husband was a little concerned in the beginning, but it wasn't long until he realized how much easier it was to just nurse where ever we were and how little you could actually see while nursing. For both of us, this was a huge change to the culture of where we both grew up. The breast was so sexualized and the bottle was glorified that I had only seen breastfeeding very briefly one time before having my own children.

Which brings me back to the six years of continuous nursing day. We took our daughter and my husband's parents out to eat at a pizza place for our daughter's birthday dinner. After a day of mini-golf in the sun, we knew our two year old was only breaths away from a tantrum and meltdown. After being seated, it was only minutes until our son asked to nurse. Of course I let him! No one in the whole restaurant cared. The waitress never blinked; however, my father-in-law was sure to keep his head down the entire time I was breastfeeding. At least he didn't leave! Hey, that's progress, right?

Art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/

Welcome to the Carnival of Nursing in Public

Please join us all week, July 5-9, as we celebrate and support breastfeeding mothers. And visit NursingFreedom.org any time to connect with other breastfeeding supporters, learn more about your legal right to nurse in public, and read (and contribute!) articles about breastfeeding and N.I.P.

Do you support breastfeeding in public? Grab this badge for your blog or website to show your support and encourage others to educate themselves about the benefits of breastfeeding and the rights of breastfeeding mothers and children.

This post is just one of many being featured as part of the Carnival of Nursing in Public. Please visit our other writers each day of the Carnival. Click on the links below to see each day’s posts - new articles will be posted on the following days:
July 5 - Making Breastfeeding the Norm: Creating a Culture of Breastfeeding in a Hyper-Sexualized World
July 6 – Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers: the New, the Experienced, and the Mothers of More Than One Nursing Child
July 7 – Creating a Supportive Network: Your Stories and Celebrations of N.I.P.
July 8 – Breastfeeding: International and Religious Perspectives
July 9 – Your Legal Right to Nurse in Public, and How to Respond to Anyone Who Questions It

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

...Reaping the Joys of Happiness...

Our daughter's birthday celebration brought to my realization how wonderful our children are. They're abnormally well behaved. They listen, well the girls do. Little man is two so some non-listening can be forgiven.

Birthday girl was exquisite at mini-golf. Even the Bean liked it after an initial resistance. Little man was in heaven. I realized I am not a very good mini-golfer. Even when the birthday girl was enticed with misbehavior, she chose the better path, the path of fairness and thoughtfulness which makes me an even prouder momma. As a six year old, this was huge.

When, as parents, we see even our smallest children make good choices, we feel a small sense of pride that we must be doing something right. Allowing our children the opportunity to make such choices can be harrowing at times. Did we teach them well enough? Did we instill those values that we believe so strongly? Could we have shown them a better path some other way? The answers to those questions are never easy.

How do we, as parents, guide our children along to make those choices of good behavior, good habits, without inducing a feeling of being controlled? I'm not sure. I'm still learning.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

...Bounding Over With Exultation...

I am so proud of my children. Every parent will tell you how great their child is, but I say this with the utmost honesty; I have really good kids. I cannot take credit for this, it's something that they seem to be naturally.

Tomorrow is our oldest daughter's sixth birthday. She's so very smart, wonderful, amazing, strong, well, you get the idea. I could go on for ages. Most importantly to me, she's a child. She lives in the world where everything is imaginable and the world seems endless. She has a childhood.

We will be surprising her with something special for her birthday. I'm sure she will enjoy it.

She's taught me so much in the last six years. I believe I may have learned and grew more than she has. I've watched her blossom from a small, swaddled baby into a charismatic young girl.

Her day of birth is also a milestone for me. I will have been breastfeeding for six continuous years, three children, through two pregnancies and into three toddler-hoods. I'm only nursing our son now, and he's still going strong. For someone who was "going to try the first six weeks" and has somehow continued for six years through many tears and joys, I am proud of myself, something I don't often say.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Inward Pushes Outward

In reclaiming my mind for myself, I began to feel the need to reclaim my body as well. The idea began small, and grew rapidly. I would devote a mural on my back to my story of transformation.

I would begin by devoting one session to each of my children. Each, in their own way, brought about my metamorphosis. Our oldest daughter taught me to never be afraid. From an early age she was fearless. Our middle daughter taught me that there is beauty in everything, even when we feel our ugliest. She always tells me I'm pretty, or beautiful, and every time it melts my heart. My youngest son has taught me to have patience. He tests it daily and sometimes I fail, but I try to be better each day.

The first in the series is a blue butterfly. I was not planning on beginning so soon, however, my husband discovered a summer special meant for me. I couldn't pass it up. The artwork turned out beautifully. I'm very pleased. Next to come will be three more butterflies, one for each girl and one combining all three.

Soon, I will be a new me. Stronger inside and out.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

...Is Before Your Eyes...

The moment you become a mother is a moment of birthing not only the child who has grown inside you but also a rebirth for yourself. Transformation from a woman into a mother is a momentous occasion.

For many mothers, the first real decision as a parent, is the decision of whether to breastfeed or not. Whatever your stance on this matter is, there is no disputing the scientific data that breastfeeding is superior to formula-feeding.

First, let me confess, I am a lactivist. I believe all mothers should nurse their children unless the mother will harm the child doing so; harm meaning infect with a disease or ingest illicit drugs.

Now that I have that out of the way, I haven't always believed so strongly in breastfeeding. I thought I would give it a shot with our first daughter. Why not? After all, it is free. The first few months were difficult, I admit. Learning to nurse when I had never seen it before was quite an experience.

Engorgement led to milk being shot across the room, soaking everything in it's wake, multiple times each day. I'm getting ahead of myself, let me rewind.

If you're unfamiliar, breastmilk doesn't automatically "happen". Colostrum, which is high in proteins and low in fat and sugar, is produced first. Your baby's tummy is so small that it can only hold about a teaspoon of liquid. Thick colostrum is perfect for such a small stomach. Three to five days after giving birth, your body begins to produce milk, and a lot of it.

My milk decided to arrive at the pediatrician's office one day, sans nursing pads. Quite embarrassing. To quote Forest Gump - That's all I have to say about that.

The Answer...

The day wasn't particularly remarkable; however it will be forever implanted in my memory. This time, the reason will be a happy reason for the memory to never fade.

I am a statistic. I met my mate online. Yes, we lived in a small town in the boonies where you only knew where it was if you lived there. There was a stop light, a as in one. No Wal-Mart, one gas station, one school. Living in an area where everyone knew everyone surely there was no way you could "meet" someone online.

Alas, I prove you wrong. One day, he sent a message asking if I was really from the little town. Of course I was, why would I say so if it weren't true? Many chats later and a secret rendezvous, we found our place in each others hearts permanently.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

...The Odds

If you read through all my posts, I'm sure you're wondering, "Was he prosecuted?" The answer is no. No report was ever filed. There were times in my teens that she accused me of lying about him, saying it to get attention. Those words were very hurtful and rooted a deep resentment inside me.

Once my husband and I began dating, she convinced me I was a "slut" and "whore". As an adult, I see those moments for their truth. She was jealous of my happiness. If envy is her friend, then I'm sure for her to see where I am in my life now, she is surely green.

I'm slowly learning to forgive myself. As the memories return, dreams haunt my nights. Reminded of feelings I had long forgotten, leaving now the fear of sleep in their wake, the dreams seem very vivid. I know my husband has one of the toughest jobs of all, because his feelings of anger about my abuse are hard to cope with for him.

This is not the end of my story. Only the beginning. I have many other facets of my life I would love to share. I'm an advocate for breastfeeding. One aspiration I have is to someday return to college and pursue my Certified Lactation Consultant's License. Someday...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

...Have We Overcome...

Pleasant opportunities are God's gifts to us, if we choose to accept them. Hidden, sometimes, by our own unwillingness to accept change, if only we will open ourselves up to be readily available for change, we may receive something more than we could have ever hoped for.

Purchasing our first home was exciting, yet very nerve wrecking. We were blessed with a huge amount of land and just enough bedrooms and bathrooms. We felt so thankful, that while some thought we'd never have anything, we proved them very wrong.

Standing in the kitchen, at the island I always wanted, cleaning the dishes after a long day, I can look out the windows and God's masterpieces of nature, rolling mountain after mountain, to remind me how miraculous life can be and is.

There was a moment after everything was final, just before moving in, that something inside of me changed, reversed even. I felt accomplished. I felt proven. I felt good. Mostly, I felt amazed that finally, finally everything seemed just right in the world.

On my kitchen wall, the same room as the revelation, are the words to remind me of this moment. I can't help but smile when I read them:

"Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God." --Job 37:14

How Many Times...

Meeting one's biological father after a lifetime of not knowing him is usually a beginning. I found mine to be the opposite, instead. I'm not sure what I expected, but what happened was not it. We met, once. Then he stopped answering or returning my calls. I'm not sure what happened, and had it happened at any other time, I may have been less hurt.

My wounds from her were still ripe. It was as though they had been stretched even further and gouged even deeper. Still, I had faith. I knew I would prevail, with God and my family, my true family, by my side, I would not be taken under again. The darkness may creep upon me, yet it would not overtake me once again for I knew I had caring souls by my side to lean on, to be loved by and to love back. Love is, after all, stronger to me than any evil, any hurt, that I had suffered.

...Strengthened With Love..

Healing is not immediate, and sometimes can be just as difficult as the journey of hurt that brought you to the need for healing. Months passed and the ache began to dull. Anger flared and froze, having a huge flame one moment and doused in tears the next. I began to deal with other feelings that I wasn't even aware I had until I was broken down to the rawest form of myself.

Unconditional acceptance anchored deep in my children's eyes kept me going. One look, and it reminded me of everything a mommy should be, because I could never imagine replicating her actions toward my own offspring. Never.

This time was especially hard for my husband. I won't elaborate because that is his story to tell, not mine; however, being so in-tune with each other, I knew that it was difficult on him.

Finally days went by and my thoughts became clearer, no longer clouded with so much emotion. I felt as though I had finally become free -- free from the bondage of hurt, free from obligation to please her and free to be nothing more than just me.

Friday, April 30, 2010

...Shown To The World...

Though I detest confrontation most of the time, for my children I will never back down. I never mentioned to her the hurt she imparted on me. That was not new. I asked her about the attempt on my children's emotions. She was either in denial or oblivious because surely one could not be so aberrant to grandparenting. Never receiving an answer, I hang up with her, more upset than before and let the tears come. I could not let her harm my children. I would not.

The next few months were a time of grieving for me. I grieved for the mother I thought she was, for the mother I had always wanted and for the mother that I had. Saddened by the events that which had brought me to this place, I sought within myself for a strength to understand what had happened and why. I could not grasp why hurt was such a strong weapon. Words that bore into my soul and actions that brought back flashes of memories I wanted to stay buried. Why would a mother do that to her child, to her grandchildren?

My husband was my stronghold throughout this time. His parents were my anchors. Without them and their support, my reckoning would have drew every ounce of self-preservation I had left. With them by my side, I began to heal. His parents supported and loved me without faltering. Our marriage finally blossomed the way a man and wife should cultivate their blooms. We found our partnership knotted at the core, stronger than ever, just when we needed it the most.

...Received By the Broken-Hearted...

People will never cease to amaze me, but my naivety may be a factor. While meeting our son, she used her words to hurt not only my husband but to hurt my parents-in-law. She couldn't believe I would marry him. Thankfully, he married me. With my roots, it became increasingly surprising that his parents did not forewarn him away from me.

The holidays were fast approaching. As time grew near, something inside me was silently preparing me for what would be a Christmas I would not soon forget. Broke, she said, and wouldn't be able to get our children anything for gifts. I assured her, that was fine, they needed nothing, just to spend time with their grandmother. She wanted to pick them up something, however. Oh, and she had some things of mine to bring to me as well.

The time for visiting arrives as does she and his parents. She begins early asking me to look through the things she brought. I do, but do not tell her. There are photos of him in the items she brought. I begin telling her I will look through them after gifts, just to put her off because I do not want to deal with it. I want to enjoy our Christmas.

She apologizes for not getting the kids much. It's fine, again I assure her. She begins discussing what she bought my sister's daughters, bragging, even. Not to me, but to my daughter, the oldest, who can understand what it means to feel jealous. Thankfully, she does not care. I feel every cell in my body beginning to coil for strike. She will not hurt my children in any way, with her touch or words. She will not.

Many other hurtful things are talked about by her before the end of the evening. I hold it in, not wanting to cause a scene on Christmas in front of my children. I will discuss it with her later, privately. Maybe. Will I be able to pull those strings hard enough until they break to force her to relinquish that hold? Can I really assert myself enough to show her that she cannot hurt me anymore? Am I strong enough?

...Manifested Through Love...

I'm growing as a person, a mother, a wife and a daughter. I've found a valuable friend in my mother-in-law. She's a constant. She's faithful, loyal and loving. She is what a mother should be. I can see that now.

My husband's parents are generous enough to bring her with them when they drive 5 hours to see us and meet our son for the first time. I'm not sure why, but I had hopes that she would do nothing to hurt me, though not physically, but emotionally, this visit.

Physically she had not harmed me since I had left her abode. Words, though, formed a two-edged sword with which she continually lashed me. I was the "bad" kid. My siblings who struggled with habitual drugs, lying, alcohol and countless acts of infidelity were definitely better off than me. I had never touched drugs, smoked cigarettes, cheated on my husband yet I was the one who was a disappointment. I wanted to please her, to be the good child. I wanted acceptance. Too late did I find out that no matter how hard I worked, I would never be good enough for her.

My exterior must have been hardening; she didn't seem to affect me as much as before. I did not come out unscathed. Committing fraud is a serious act. I knew and had reported her for doing so. Babies are in-utero for approximately 9 months. For most people they are not a surprise. Before leaving, she hands me a $50 and says something about hoping she has enough money to eat for the week and that she thinks she'll be ok, but that she hopes we can use the money. I try to return it to her, because we were blessed enough to not need it. She wouldn't take it. In my brain, I knew that she had money and would be ok, but in my heart, I could not stand the thought of someone going hungry, not even her.

...In The Believers Heart...

Our son was the only child to be "over-due". He came one day after my estimated due date. After having two hospital births, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from a birth center. However, it was everything I had hoped and more.

Even after his glorious arrival, he still did not have a name. We just could not agree on anything. I wanted desperately to give him the same first name as my husband, but he was adamant that was not going to happen. Finally, eleven hours old, he had a name, but no decision on the circumcision.

At ten days old, he had an appointment with a Urologist to be cut. By nine days old, I was still unconvinced. In the end, I told my husband if he wanted it done, then he could be the one to take him. Of course, he wasn't fond of that idea, so I just cancelled his appointment less than an hour before having it done. Intact he would be. I must say, I am happy with the decision. I couldn't imagine amputating such a fragile part of my son, especially without his consent.

...Though Present Always..

I would finally have the birth I always wanted! I attended a birth center for all prenatal care with our youngest child. I had become such an advocate for natural child-rearing that having birth with no interventions shook me to my core with excitement and contentedness. No needless interventions, no medications and a very private event were of the utmost importance to me concerning this labor.

We agreed on girl names almost instantly. This was the first clue. When discussing issues about having a male child, we never agreed. Of course, we should have been prepared when the news came. Boy it is. We were having a son. Girls were easy; I knew how to mother girls. Boys, on the other hand, I knew nothing.

I began diligent research about how to raise a good man, just like my husband. Men were still slightly terrifying to me. What if I failed him? What if I smothered him? What if he hated me?

Not long after the declaration of gender we began discussing the issue of circumcision. I was against it, he was for it. I did as much studying about it as I could, and asked as many other mothers who had experience that were available. The majority were for it. I viewed photos of how the process worked, but could never click "play" on any of the videos available to me.

Having a birth center birth with a midwife made this decision a little more difficult. I would be staying at the center only 12 hours postpartum. No doctors, unless medically necessary, would be available for circumcision until he was home. This decision would be one of the first we would make in his lifetime that would either affect him positive or negatively. How could we decide this for him, when he was unable to tell us what he wanted? These are the moments, as parents, where making those difficult decisions for your children can either leave you with the feeling of guilt or the feeling of accomplishment; sometimes, no matter what you decide, you will feel both.


During the trying time with our second daughter, God decided to bless us with another little one. Unplanned and quite the surprise, I found myself fretting over how we were going to afford another child. My husband was there by my side to assure me that everything happens for a reason and we would be fine. Words did little to vanquish my worries, however.

At the same time, we were planning to move nearly 5 hours from where we were living at the time. Suddenly there was so many changes happening; changes which should have been happy, joyous even, but like everything I'd encountered with her, they, too, were dampened.

She knew once I was that far away, her hold on me would become weakened. She was right. Guilt trips abound, even she could not stop our family from relocating to a more affluent area. This move was not just a physical one. Transitioning locations did not only part our bodies, moving also separated those binding chains she had wrapped around my every being since birth. Soon, wonderfully soon, I would be free. I did not realize how so very soon my eyes would open to the bondage she had created for me.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Faith Is...

Our second daughter came with her own set of challenges. She is very stubborn and just like her birth, does things in her own time. I had decided to continue breastfeeding both girls until they self-weaned. I was constantly questioned by her about if I was hurting either by doing so. Of course not! Hurting them was the exact opposite of what I was doing. I was reducing theirs and my risk of multiple cancers, giving them the best nutrition available for them, increasing their bond, and many many other gifts for free. I loved my daughters, more than anyone could imagine you could love someone.

Having children isn't always easy on a marriage. Love isn't always enough. There were times when we thought we were at the end of our story. Those heated moments can mean the end of a marriage or a beginning of a new era. We both knew which path we wanted to take, even in the toughest of times.

Having control issues in an infant can be very trying on a parent. Our daughter had issues with bowel movements which resulted in her being medicated with stool softeners. Many tears were shed by both she and I throughout her journey. Finding the medium to help her learn was trial and error. It's never anything but heartbreaking seeing your child suffer in pain. At such a young age, she was unable to understand why, which made it even harder. The next year with her called on every mommy-ability I had. By the grace of God, we prevailed. No more blood, no more tears and no more pain in the bathroom for her!

...Through Faith...

Our second daughter's birth was rapid. She was breathing in my arms so quickly that we had time to call no one. My husband arrived at the hospital minutes late for her arrival. Once we called everyone to announce her arrival, most were overjoyed. Except for her. I was in tears after our phone conversation. Still emotional from the rapid events of the day, and surprised she thought I didn't care enough to let her know. My body still aching from the wondrous event, my heart shriveling from the hurt she had caused, I phoned my husband and through the tears relayed the words spoken from her mouth. Anger pulsing through his words, he tried to console me.

Giving birth to a perfect little gift from God should be a joyous time. I can't help feel that some of that was stolen from me that night.

...Is Possible...

As I learned more about mothering, I found myself reading everything I could get my hands on about anything to do with the psychology of raising children. I breastfed her on demand with child-led weaning. We co-slept. Attachment Parenting was our philosophy. It wasn't long after her first birthday we discovered God had blessed us with another little one. We weren't quite ready for her, but God knew what he was doing.

The Father had always knew what he was doing. Although I had suffered many hurts as a child, I knew that God was there for me. He loved me when it seemed no one else would and protected me when my earthly parents failed. I know had it not been for his reasons, I would not be alive today. There was a song a lady in church sang in which I found comfort. About a ship in a stormy sea, I felt connected to the song. The song spoke of knowing God who can calm any storm and the sun will shine upon you once again. "Master of the Wind" brought peace to my soul many times from the mouth of a lady who shares my name. I can still hear her beautiful voice now.

With the upcoming arrival of our second daughter, I was becoming more confident in my ability as a mother, yet still very much so apprehensive. All I could do is trust that God had a plan and know that my husband would be there by my side because I was terrified that somehow I would repeat those mistakes of my adult caretakers.

NOTE: This is the wonderfully talented lady I referred to in this post. She has been extremely kind enough to record this video of her singing. I am beyond pleased to share with you!! As a child, I heard her sing this almost twenty years ago. Here she is, just as beautiful as ever in a church in rural West Virginia.

...Rediscovery of One's Self...

Not much time passed until she even tried to control my marriage. Fearful of her abandonment and still wanting to please her, unknowingly I let her have still that small power over me. It took nearly four years for me to see her for who she truly is.

Within the first year of our marriage, God blessed us with a wonderful daughter. She was absolutely beautiful, perfect in every way. I hadn't intended on being a mother. The thought frightened me beyond belief. One day, expectantly, he melted that corner of my heart.

As I watched him with a friend's daughter, I saw the great dad he could be. How could I take that away from him? I couldn't. I loved him too greatly to even consider it. If he could do it, and would be by my side, then so could I. Through him, I found the strength to overcome the fears bore deep inside me of being the same mother to our children as mine had been to me. Six months later, a tiny little heart grew deep inside me. In my belly, our daughter began to flourish.

God had blessed us with a beautiful baby girl. Each day I learned more what it was to be a mother than the day before. Each day I realized that I could never hurt her like I had been hurt. Each day I began to understand that it was not my fault. Each day the darkness faded more and more.

...And With Time...

Courtship was tumultuous; Because she disliked him, things were difficult for us. I didn't understand because prior to my interest in him, she had no qualms about even the worst boys. He was good, great even. I fought daily to spend even a few moments with him.

My battles were his battles. He asked me to marry him. Of course I said yes! When she tried to separate us, he was there for me. I still do no understand why he stuck it out. I know it was very difficult for him and most would have split after only a few episodes of her drama; he didn't.

I applied for early graduation from high school. I had a perfect 4.0 and all the credits I needed for graduation. I was granted my request.

My 18th birthday seemed to crawl closer and closer. We had planned to marry privately with the Justice of the Peace. She said the least I could do was permit her to see her baby get married. It worked. We planned around her and my sister's schedule and was married in a preacher's living room. Finally, I was free.

...Hurt Heals Slowly...

She hated him. I'm not sure why, but she did. I had never disobeyed her so much. I would sneak to see him. When she found out, my nose would bleed. I loved him, that was certain, and there was nothing she could do about it. He only wanted me for sex, she would say. Of course, since to her I was a slut, this made sense. For the first time in my life, I knew from the pit of my being that she was wrong. He loved me.

Or so I thought. He said he was confused. He didn't mean to hurt me. He only talked to another girl. He was scared, he said, because he never felt this way before. I saw the honesty in his eyes. I forgave him. It was hard, but I did. I'm so glad I did.

Though Time Passes Quickly...

High School begins and I'm tarnished. Forbidden to speak to many of my friends, I'm now very much on the outskirts of my social circle. I never let grades plummet, and never harm myself with any substances. No drugs ever pass into my system. In that aspect, I am as pure as ever.

The internet is becoming increasingly popular. I find solace in planting myself in front of the screen for endless hours, where I can be whomever I want. I am no longer bound by what my life has become to strangers on the other side of the connection.

Instant messaging is a growing trend. One particular service was extremely popular. This is where I found my Prince. He was different than any other male I had met. He was wonderful to me. He felt right.

...And Yet Ignored...

This secret was something that I was terrified to share. It was, after all, my fault. She did have a gun, and thought I was jealous of her. What if she were to use it?

My first boyfriend was the person I confided my burden to. He urged me to tell her. She should know, he said. I didn't want to tell her, but maybe he was right? Tearfully, I went to her with her and asked to speak with her privately. She says that whatever I need to say I can say with her newest beau present. So I begin to tell her that he hurt me. "I'll kill the son-of-a-bitch" she proclaims while going for her gun. Terrified, I yell "No!". Crying over the next minutes, maybe hours, I'm terrified that what he said will become true.

Sensitive to the emotions going through me, her beau returns to his home so we could talk. What ensues is just shattering. Instead of hugs, or reassurances, I receive something entirely different.

With tears still streaming down my face after taking such a huge step and saying the words allowed, she looks at me and says "You shouldn't have said anything in front of HIM! That makes me look bad!" She rants about what if he tells social services and they take me away or make me live with my father. "You'll lose all your friends and have to move and then I couldn't pay for anything for you because we wouldn't have child support anymore".

Telling her did nothing but hurt me even more. Maybe she already knew.

...Lost and Found...

He didn't stay with her much this time. Their relationship was over much faster this time. Things didn't quite return to as they were this time. I was overtaken in darkness that no one seemed to be able permeate.

When puberty began, so did purging. I would eat as little as possible and vomit it back up. I weighed less than 100 lbs at 13 years old. The lowest I weighed myself was at 92 lbs. I was healthy at 115 or so. No one knew, but I was slowly killing myself from starvation. When slitting my wrists didn't work, purging became my outlet. When I became too weak to purge, I would cut myself. Anything to numb the pain I felt inside.

However, nothing worked. There was the dull ache, always there. I was 13. Boys began noticing me. I wasn't sure how to acknowledge their attention. So I became promiscuous. I hurt people who genuinely cared for me. I lost friends and myself.

...and Innocence is Forgotten...

Weeks passed without much mention. One morning I woke and he was gone. Gone for good she said. Too much pot, apparently. She liked me then. We cooked together, every Sunday afternoon after Sunday School. Breakfast on Saturdays. Life was fun again. Puzzles were a favorite in front of the old coal stove on cold wintry nights. A year had went by before I had realized.

He started phoning her. I hated to hear his voice on the other end of the phone. They went on dates. I acted like a child and kicked and screamed and begged her not to go. She said "Quit being jealous". Was it jealousy? Did I not want her to be happy? No, that wasn't it. I was scared. Scared he'd return and hurt me again. Scared I'd disappoint them again. Scared to feel dirty again.

Only a few phone calls and dates later he was back. This time, he only rarely touched me, though many times in front of her. How did she not see? Maybe she did? The puzzles were permanently put away, the Sunday School Brunches stopped. No more Saturday breakfasts for us. I felt myself spiraling back into the darkness, desperately wishing for someone, anyone to care.

Monday, April 26, 2010

...The Innocent...

I stuffed the shirt in the furthest corner of the lowest drawer I could find in my bedroom. I never wanted to see it again. I wanted to shred it, but that would only bring me more hurt from a belt.

Belts or "switches", small flimsy limbs from trees or bushes, were her favorite. Whenever she would hear me crying after he was finished with me and returned to her bed, she would leave belt buckle marks on my back, hidden where only I knew they were there.

Hate is such a strong word, especially for a child so young. One day, my heart turned black and it wouldn't begin to heal until many years later. This was a day, just like many days, when he would stay behind while she went to bed and hurt me. Once he was finished and retreated to their sanctuary to have with her, I found myself trying desperately to scrub the dirtiness from my skin again and again. I must've been crying loudly, because she did not come to mark my skin, but sent him to do so. Why was he so angry? I did what he wanted me to, and I hadn't told her. Those marks were there for a long while. I can still feel them on my back now, stinging, aching from movement swollen for anyone to see. No one ever did, of course. I didn't want them to see what I had caused. It was all my fault. If only I had been quieter, more respectful. If I had behaved better, this wouldn't have happened.

Friday, April 23, 2010

..To Hurt...

When a child spirals into darkness, it is tragic. Childhood should be full of life, love, wonder. Something inside you changes when you've been robbed of that. I began struggling with depression and guilt as well as a cocktail of other emotional issues at such a young age.

For my 8th birthday I had a sleep-over at my house. New Kids on The Block were popular. I had the t-shirt, the sleeping bag and the cassette. Even that was tarnished for me. It was a t-shirt with all their photos on it. Hand-prints and screened-on signatures adorned the back. It was my favorite thing to wear.

I didn't think he'd be home that day. He was gone on a 2 week hunting trip and shouldn't be back until the following weekend. Something happened and he came home a week early. She went to nap. He said he'd be there in a minute. I knew what this meant. I found myself trembling on the corner of the couch while he moved my clothes away. This had happened before, many times, however the feelings I felt only grew stronger, darker, more pronounced. This time was different. He didn't stop like the other times. He exposed himself to me. Frightened as a child, I did not understand. He said he needed a kiss. Terrified as I was, something inside me at that moment and I was NOT going to kiss his genitalia...so I bit him instead and grabbed his testicles and pulled. He jumped back and bent over to me on the couch and said "Don't tell your mom about this. She has a gun. She'll shoot us both." He turned and walked off. Moments later I heard them having sex. All I could do is scream and cry and scrub every inch of my body. I was so dirty.

...And They Lived...

One thing was certain. She loved him. She loved him unlike any other. He was a former minister in a local church who had "lost his way" with alcohol and other substances. Many days passed, though they all seemed to fade into each other. They would have me nap with them. He would hold her in his arms whilst I laid beside my mother he would use his hands to slowly strip every ounce of innocence left from my callow body.

As much as I was permitted, I attended sleep-overs and stayed with other adults. My older brother and his girlfriend began to be a refuge. When I was no longer allowed to stay with the nice lady or my friend, I would retreat to his home, wherever that may be at the time. I was safe there, even though drugs were a regular occurance; HE couldn't touch me there. There were times, however, when I had to return home. Thankfully, during the hunting and fishing seasons, he remained unseen. It was those times when he returned that I dreaded most.

Found her Prince....

Who was this man? With his Budweiser in hand, he said "Good morning." She peers around from his right, says "Meet DC." I'm a polite child, I say hello and return to my bedroom. He never leaves. He now lives with us. It wasn't long before I realized this man was no man, he was a monster.

She says "He's a good man, treats me right". They drink often. Party much. Marijuana is often in his pocket.

I find safe havens at a school friend's house or with a nice lady named Terri. I like going to their homes. I have fun and everything seems so carefree.

He likes to hunt and fish. Oh, and drink too. One time, after much bantering from her, he takes us to a cabin with him. Somewhere along the way we stop so he can have a drink with someone, a relative maybe? I'm not sure who. It was late and I was tired. I'm sitting in the floor listening to them discuss something I don't quite understand at the age of 7.5 years. She leaves the room. He looks at me and says, "My feet are cold. Come sit on them." I do it. I just didn't know why he wanted me to. This was the first time he violated me. I didn't understand what he was doing, or why his hand so forcefully held my shoulder down to keep me from moving away from his feet. Even after she returned to the room, this did not stop him. She sits beside him on the couch while his feet are under me, causing feelings of shame and dirtiness in me that I've never experienced in all the other dark events in my young life. We leave. I huddle in the backseat, crying tears of emotions that are far beyond my years.

..The Evil Queen

The house was burning. The call came in the darkness. Our home was smoldering in ashes. The walls would no longer bear those horrific stains. Returned to the earth as mere particles of dust, however, the memories still remain.

We lived with her sister for a little while during our search for a new home. Only one event during that time bears mentioning. I met my father at age 7. My brother concealed the meeting. I received one folded $5 bill. It was nice to see him again.

Over the next few months she purchased a home and slowly refurbished it. Something in her changed over the next few months. I didn't see her often. One night she left, the next morning I woke to find a new man on the couch. This event would alter the course of the rest of my life.

Once Upon a Time..

Life seemed limitless. Summer days were spent in the sun and dirt with untamed possibilities. Noon would come and go without so much as a hello. Those days are vague in my memory. Not because many moons have passed, but because those days were soon replaced. You see, my tale is one that needs to be said. The words have far too long sat in my mind and wounded my heart. It is, with a heavy sigh, that I begin this knowing full well that by the end I will have cried every tear again and felt every pain once more. I just hope that somewhere along the way that my hurt can begin to heal and somehow ease the ache inside me.

The year is 1988. I'm yet a toddler, still unable to speak words though I remember those spoken to me on this day. It was an unremarkable day, in my life anyway. That is, until the moment she yanked my arm and said "Let's go!" I cannot tell you for certain the events of this day. I do, however, remember as a child huddled in the floor of an old car how I felt. The moment was terrifying. I was unsure what the yelling and cursing amongst me was about, but I knew that I should be scared. This was the day, the very last day that I would see my father as a child.

She drove me to a bar, a place where I knew she went to drink. Back then, there was no car seats for children in vehicles. I sat in the floor. She was angry, no, furious, over something. She leaves me in the car and goes into the bar yelling, but who was she yelling at? Oh, now I see, it's my dad. But why? Why would she yell at him? It's over too soon for me to understand. I'm sitting behind her seat, crying because I am scared. She turns around to drive in reverse, sees me in tears, and says "You're never seeing him again that piece of shit!" I cry more tears. Her words sting like a million bees all at once. I'm sad to see him go.

The year is 1991. My sister, whom watched over me while she was gone, leaves home this year. She graduated from high school and high-taled it out of town. Who could blame her? I cried so many times to go with her, but I knew that I couldn't. This is the year I became familiar with drugs. Did I use them at such a young age? No, but everyone who lived around me did. Once my sister left for college, my older brothers took over watching me while my mother was out. She was "out" quite a lot. Either at a bar, drinking, or out of her mind on whatever substance was available. I have three brothers. The older two would take me on drives in my mothers old Ford pickup. I sat in the middle while they passed their white powder between themselves getting high. I was just happy to be with them. I didn't know they were slowly killing themselves. It became my job to empty his pockets out at the end of the day. It was like a rainbow inside. Red pills, green and white pills, powdery pills. I never knew when I would find every color in the Crayola box.

One evening he came home. His pockets were particularly full this night. Something was not quite right. Was he angry? No, that wasn't it. After pocket cleaning, he sat at the kitchen table eating smashed cornbread in milk. It was his favorite. The tranquility soon faded and became replaced with yelling. She yelled, he yelled, they both yelled some more. Happening so fast that I couldn't comprehend the actions around me, I was in the truck racing across the bridge and down the road before I understood what it was all about. Something wasn't right. I was scared.
We arrived at her boyfriend's home. She called him. No answer. The next few hours are a blur. I'm not sure how I returned, but I was back home. There were lights everywhere. Screaming. What had happened? I was crying. Someone was holding me. I looked through the window of the door. There was red everywhere. A gun. I saw a gun. He was there, only it wasn't him. His face was missing, or not missing, just splattered on the wall. Everything was black. Was it day? Night? I'm not sure.

The funeral was closed-casket. There was a photo of him in a white button down shirt. He was smiling, happy even. His death was the first I experienced related to drugs, heroin I believe. Those smiles slowly faded away and were replaced with glassy eyes and empty stares. He became a shell of the once vibrant person his life had begun to blossom into. Replaced, instead, with a closed box too gruesome for grievers to view, and pieces of skull embedded in walls in the home we returned to. No amount of scrubbing could ever wash away those stains on one's memory. They're permanent, there for all the days of my life.