Friday, August 30, 2013

Project Baby Bilum Update & Baby Umi News!

I started Umi Sling after being inspired by my friend Adriel's desire to help the women of rural Papua New Guinea in practical ways. A year ago, she shared the story of baby Umi and her mother Komi, struggling for life in the village of Bamio. Then, she initiated Project Baby Bilum asked us to send ring slings to her so she could take them back with her and help in a small way to improve the lives of mothers and their children. Struck by the story, I wanted to help in a lasting way.

Adriel is back in Bamio as we speak, and she's been updating us all through her Facebook page. And the best news? Umi is alive! When Adriel left, she was unsure of the small baby's fate, and we were all anxious to hear the news, whether good or bad.

Read updates from Adriel's Facebook page to learn more about the ways these small things are making a huge difference in the maternal and infant health of this remote area. And for those of you who have sent Adriel slings or have purchased an Umi Sling, thank you for making a difference!


Thursday, August 29, 2013

just write: the bedrock

I woke up to the sound of booming this morning, and after logic reassured me that there was going to be no zombie apocalypse, in my sleepy daze I commented to Andy, "they must be using dynamite in the river..."

He was confused, but understand that we live in Portland, a city crisscrossed by bridges while the Willamette makes its way to join the mighty Columbia of Lewis & Clark fame and then those homogenized waterways and tributaries all pour into the rough and tumble Pacific ocean, the ocean I spent so many of my childhood years running in and out of, screaming because the water was always so cold even in August and our toes would be red and numb and we'd head back to the house to check our crab pots and build a bonfire out of driftwood.

But you see, they're building these bridges on both sides of us, and to my brain it made sense that maybe they were exploding some bedrock or setting foundations or whatever else those bridge builders so expertly do. And I've been thinking as of late - What are my Foundations? Where is my Bedrock?

But it was thunder, and it reminded me of those late summer storms in Southern Oregon that bring with them flashes of lightning, when you'd hop in the car or Landcruiser and head up off Old Stage road or to the peak of Roxy Ann to catch better glimpses of the electric glory and pray to God that no forest fires are started.

There's a song that goes somewhere along the lines of As long as a live, whatever I do, I'm never going to forget this summer... And we all feel like that, don't we? Those summertime memories set into stone in our minds and hearts and we catch a smell of something cooking, or of lake water, or of summer rain, and it transports us back to that time when things may or may not have been easier in our lives, but for some reason, it's stuck with us.

The other day, I remarked to a friend (semi-narcisstically, but she's known me for 16 years and forgives me) via text that sometimes I feel like I'm a fraud, living a life that I feel disconnected from in some ways, and that the true me was left along the side of the road somewhere along this convoluted journey. Like I can't give 100% to the life I live now, to reality. I know you've felt this way too, right?  We all have. Like my foundation or my bedrock is a little off-kilter or not quite settled in like it should be.

And now I'm getting older, chasing after toddlers and thinking about all that laundry to do or what we're going to eat for dinner, and then we catch a whiff of that distinct summer smell of dying grass and wilting flowers past their prime and hose water and ribs on the grill, and I remember.

The moment passes as quickly as it came, and I resume these activities that are Mothering, but there's a part of us that remains in that memory, like we're holding on for dear life to the old ways, the Me I was once was, hanging on to the person I was before I became Mama. But the reality is, self, that I AM that mama. Through and through. And I take such a joy and delight in my little daughters. And can I embrace it?

I cherish my memories, but what good are they, really? What good are they to the husband I love but who is not really a part of those memories, or the children who came way after the fact? It's bittersweet, but sometimes it's a good thing to put some distance between yourself and the past, and give it your best shot to make new, lasting memories with the man you chose and the children you birthed. A new Bedrock, a new Foundation. Something that will last after I'm far gone and my children have birthed children and who even knows what the world will look like?

But it wasn't explosions or dynamite rocking my dreams this morning, it was just a late summer storm, thunder sounding the alarm bell that you'd better pack these summer days in and enjoy them - and maybe even make some new memories, build a little bit more on that bedrock.

Just Write is where we just write about our now - no editing. Join in?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

the milkie dance: breastfeeding memories {World Breastfeeding Week}

This World Breastfeeding Week comes at interesting timing - it appears that we are now "weaned." It just kind of happened. I was really tired and didn't want to get up at 5am, so I sent Daddy in to do some comforting. It morphed into a "mommy's milkies are all gone" and then, true to my word, it happened. I'm totally grieving now, but partly relieved. It's the most bittersweet feeling. So for this WBW, I'm going to process this whole, too-short weaning experience and share some of my favorite memories. 

I'll always remember my girls' "Milkie Dance." Since they were about 18 months old, if they ever asked/signed for "milkies" or if I said, "do you want some milkies?" they'd drop WHATEVER they were doing and squeal and get so excited and dance around in circles. Sometimes I would do it just to see the look of sheer glee on their faces. I always joked to Andy that I'm pretty sure breastmilk has some component of liquid valium in it, or something, because it calms like nothing else.

Their milkie dance was the most precious thing and if I was ever really tired or touched out or just didn't feel like doing it, their little jigs and jumps helped soften my heart and made me laugh, and gave me the extra boost I needed to cuddle down with them and have some special time, if even for only 5 minutes.

More recently, they would unlatch in the middle of nursing and say, "Mommy! Mommy!" and then show me the sign for milkies. "Yes, you're having milkies," I'd say, and they'd nod or laugh and happily pop back on and keep going. Or, "Mommy, Mommy!" (sign for milkies) "Sissy?" and point to their sister. I'd say, "Yes, Sissy is having milkies now, too," and they'd nod or laugh and resume.

Now when Ruthie asks for milkies or tries to look down my shirt, I say cheerfully, "oh, mommy's milkies are all gone, you and sis drank them all!" And she smiles and nods as if to remind herself, oh yeah, we did do that! OK! 

I can't count or tally up how many times I've been incredibly thankful we nursed as long as we did, the times they were not feeling well or teething or just needed some quiet time. And just getting to experience the happy milkie dance made two years worth it.

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