Saturday, April 30, 2016

Huntsville Milk Is the Miracle a California Baby Needs

by Glenni Lorick, IBCLC

Omari was born with Trisomy 13.  His parents learned of his diagnosis when he was born. Although his mother wanted to breastfeed, he was unable to latch. She pumped, but she was under so much stress that she just couldn't produce the milk he needed, and formula simply didn't work well for him. In an effort to keep him on the life-saving breastmilk that he so desperately needed, his mother contacted her local milk bank in California where she lives. They wanted $700 a week to supply his breastmilk needs. So she turned to local Facebook groups seeking milk donations for him, but came up dry.
Lauren and her son on the plane

 Her nephew is married to Lauren Morgan who lives in Harvest and is part of the Huntsville Mommy Milk Meetup page on Facebook. Lauren put out an appeal in that group, and  received an overwhelming response from local moms here in the Huntsville area.

She actually had several mothers donate milk for Omari. The first mom was Sarah Bailey. Lauren says, "She has been donating about every 2 weeks for a few months now. She is amazing! She asks about Omari and loves him!" The second mom, Meredith Ennis has donated a couple of times. According to Lauren, "She is so sweet and never asks for anything in return!" The third mom to donate was Crystelyn Wharton who donated massive amounts of milk at one time, never asking anything in return. The fourth mom was Meagan Hormel Garrett who had a 5 day old baby so she had "The good stuff! She donated about 50 ounces of precious milk!" Lauren adds, "She met me from Decatur at Bridgestreet and never asked for anything in return." Finally, Lauren has been donating milk as well.

Milk packed and ready to go to Omari!
Recently Lauren traveled to California to visit the family there, and she took 180 lbs. of breastmilk with her! She had the milk separated into 5 cooler bags each weighing about 35 lbs. They flew on Southwest, and were able to count the coolers as checked luggage. The guy checking in the milk said, "Wow! This is all milk?" Lauren replied that it was. He asked her is she was selling it, and she explained that it was all being donated to the sick baby of a family member. He thought that was awesome and mentioned it to another worker who said, "You're amazing for doing that!" The milk traveled with them from Nashville to Los Angeles with no problems whatsoever. When they arrived at Lauren's aunts house, the milk was still frozen and ready for Omari to use. She estimates that this milk will last him 3 or 4 months, at least through his first birthday. 

We have such an amazing community of mamas here in Huntsville, and I feel especially thankful that our Huntsville moms have given so generously to help Omari. Thank you to each of you for your desire to help a little boy who lives across the continent!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Mom Community Rallies to Support Somer Smith

by Glenni Lorick, IBCLC

I was sitting in the dentist office when I got a text from Katie Bowers this morning telling me that Jake Smith had been killed in a tragic accident this morning as he was doing his job for the Alabama Department of Transportation. My audible gasp of shock brought me several interesting looks. Somer Smith has been an integral part of the ANM mama community for the last couple of years, and I just couldn't begin to imagine the incredible pain and shock she must be feeling.

I want to ask everyone who reads this to take a moment to pray for Somer and their three precious children right now and in the days and weeks to come. Jake's funeral will be Sunday in Tuscumbia. As the reality of what has happened today begins to set in, Somer, who is always so willing to help others, will need her village to surround and support her.

Fortunately, her village is already doing that. Katie set up a You Caring page for Somer which raised over $750 in just a few hours. Apparently someone else has created a Go Fund Me Account; however, this account has not been verified by the family. Please only make donations to the verified You Caring account referenced above. All of the money will go directly to Somer to help her with whatever needs she has.  Jessica Mays set up a Take Them a Meal site so that Somer will have one less thing to worry about in the coming days and weeks.

If you would like to donate size 5 diapers or gas cards, food cards or gift cards to the family, you may drop them at one of 3 locations across the valley: A Nurturing Moment (7540 Memorial Parkway SW, Ste. H, Huntsville, 35802) Advance Auto (871 Hwy 72, Athens) or Salon 53 (8130 AL 53, Toney, 35773).

When people bring sunshine and blessing into the lives of those around them like Somer does, it is just a natural response to want to bless them back. The ANM community loves Somer and will be here for whatever she needs. I have cried some today and prayed a lot. I've cried because of the deep ache of loss that Somer is feeling, because of the sad truth that the twins will miss out on so many memories with their Daddy, and because it just hurts so much to think about this tragic loss. But every tear has been accompanied by a prayer that the God of all grace will bring comfort and peace in the midst of the pain. I love you, Somer!

Monday, March 28, 2016

AlabamaTongue and Lip Tie Support Group Is a Great Resource

Photo from Stanford Medicine.
by Glenni Lorick, IBCLC

Alabama mothers are fortunate to have a terrific new resource if they are struggling with breastfeeding due to upper lip and tongue tie. This Facebook page administered by Jaclyn Clark and Jessica Claire Hall offers a wealth of information. From provider reviews to incredibly informative articles about ties, this group is the perfect place to really educate yourself on this issue.

Jessica is a peer breastfeeding supporter who had local moms coming to her with questions about this issue. She was sharing information that she had discovered on an individual basis mother by mother. It just made sense to her to put all that information in one place and create an Alabama-based resource for families.

Jaclyn had problems nursing from the very beginning with her baby. Even though I saw him as a newborn, I didn't recognize his posterior tongue tie. Jaclyn says, "No one here was very proficient at PTT then, and I couldn't get anyone to validate my belief that it was. At the time, I couldn't go against my husband who was concerned about a possibly unnecessary painful procedure to go out of state to a preferred provider. The closest one at that time as 6-8 hours away." He was 6 months old, and she was struggling with supply; she did the best she could, taking domperidone and supplementing with donor milk and formula. Most people didn't see the need for any kind of revision. Through all of this, Jaclyn was tireless in her pursuit of answers: "The 'process' of trying to figure out why my son couldn't transfer milk efficiently was what led me to the wealth of knowledge and connections with trailblazers in the world of tongue ties and breastfeeding. And it gave me a certainty that a mother's intuition is to be trusted and listened to."

In the month since beginning the group, multiple families have posted glowing reports about their providers and their revision experiences. Many people have joined the group with questions about tongue and lip tie, and they are met with quick responses both from members and administrators. This group is designed to provide relevant information to families in Alabama and surrounding areas.
Image from First Food for Baby
Jessica Mays is a local mom who received a lot of input from the Alabama Tongue and Lip Tie Support Group. Both of her babies have had ties, but she became aware of it immediately with her second child. She says, "The group has been good. A lot of the resources have helped us. The exercises they have shared have been really helpful, too. Beyond the information that they have shared, the women themselves, especially Jessica Hall and Jaclyn have been incredibly helpful. They have first hand experience, have been there and done that, and aren't afraid to share what they've learned."

This page represents an independent state chapter of the Tongue Tie and Lip Tie Support Network. The network exists to raise awareness and provide research-based information about ties. They also help parents find providers who understand the relationship between an infant's oral anatomy and breastfeeding.

While many providers will simply look at baby's weight gain and assume that good weight gain means there is no problem, that is not always the case. Upper lip and tongue tie can be the reason a baby is slow to gain weight, but they can also cause several other problems. Often what is treated as reflux can be traced to a tie because of the excessive air baby is swallowing during feeds. Ties can also be responsible for a mother having an overactive letdown or excessive milk supply.

If you are concerned that your baby might be having some of these issues, check out this group!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Realistic View of PPD from a Mom Who Has Been There

From Chasing Supermom
by Glenni Lorick, IBCLC

Last Monday at our Huntsville Mommy Milk Meet-up gathering, we talked about Postpartum Depression. This subject is so important to me because several years ago I missed the signs in a mom I was helping with breastfeeding. Her PPD went into postpartum psychosis that ended up causing permanent damage to her family and her relationship with her children. I swore to myself then that I would never again let that happen to a mom on my watch. So I am very proactive when I see any signs at all of PPD to encourage both the mother and those around her to make sure she talks to her doctor and gets some help.

Anywhere from 11-20% of women suffer each year from PPD according to Postpartum Progress. Although some do feel like harming themselves or their child, many never have those feelings at all. Rather, like Sabrina in the video below, they find themselves either filled with anxiety or just melting into the couch and unable to do anything, perhaps feeling like they're going crazy!

All the moms in the meeting on Monday shared, but I specifically asked Sabrina Azemar to share her story because I had heard her speak on this topic previously. Sabrina brings warmth, humor and insight into what can be a very dark topic. We have dealt with PPD in our blog previously, but we are excited to offer you Sabrina's insights!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Best Friend's Gift of Love

by Rae Sells, Guest blogger

Amy and Rae never dreamed where their
friendship would take them. (Picture from last fall)
The journey of our friendship began in 1999.  I was living with my best friend Leslie in the apartment complex where I would meet my soon-to-be husband.  I was in my long hippie skirt and quite the delinquent when I met Amy.  Jon and I had just started dating the first time I was introduced to his best friend Charlie's wife.  It is safe to say that we both judged each other immediately.  We were opposites in almost every way.  She was small, blonde, with perfect hair and makeup, and fashionably dressed.  I probably had on a tie-dyed t-shirt that hadn’t been washed in weeks and I smelled like incense.  She was a newlywed and I was, unequivocally, a hoodlum.  When we were introduced we said about three words to each other and then I retreated back to my apartment.  If you would have told us on that day where our friendship would be 15 years later we would have both laughed in your face and told you to take your meds.  Not going to happen.  Fast forward one year and she was fastening a string of pearls on my neck as I prepared to say “I do” to my husband. 

They've made lots of fun memories in the last 17 years!
This picture was taken about 3 weeks before Seth 's birth.
As I grew up and matured our friendship deepened and we really got to know each other.  We found out that we had more in common than we originally thought.  When it came time to start thinking about having kids our relationship grew even more.  We both desperately wanted to be mothers.  We talked about it constantly.  I was just about to graduate from college in 2005 when Amy told me that she was pregnant.  We were both ecstatic.  It consumed us in the most magical way possible.  Baby names and breastfeeding was the topic of conversation on most days.  We thought about decorating nurseries and talked about what we thought being a mom was going to be like.

 On the day before graduation, as we were having a party at the house, I got a call from Charlie.  He asked to speak to Jon, but I knew something was wrong.  I refused to give the phone to Jon until he told me what was wrong.  They were in the ER and Amy had lost the baby.  I remember sitting in our tiny bathroom and crying until I could get myself together and rejoin the party.  The next day though, there she was.  Sitting with my family and watching me walk across the stage to get my diploma.  I told her that she didn’t need to come, but she wouldn’t hear of it.  As much as she was hurting, she wanted to be there for me.  I thought that I knew her well, but on that day I learned much more about her heart than I ever could have learned in happier circumstances. 

Amy and Hannah in January, 2007.
About nine months later we learned that her daughter Hannah was on the way.  We were once again ecstatic and consumed with all things baby.  I started infertility treatments, and one week before Hannah made her appearance in November of 2006 I finally got those two lines on a pregnancy test.  Amy and I were both huge breastfeeding advocates and nursing our babies was extremely important to us.  When Ella was born my milk supply was horrible because of my PCOS and more than once she listened to me cry hysterically because Ella was losing weight and I couldn’t nurse her exclusively.

 In 2009 we decided to add to our family and we began infertility treatments again.  Things proved to be even more difficult this time around and it would be 2 ½ years before we would finally be pregnant again.  I cannot tell you how she was there for me during this time.  We cried together, prayed together, and she was just as excited as I was when we found our Charlotte Leigh was on her way.  I had joked that she needed to get pregnant again so we could be pregnant together and our youngest kids could be close in age.  In September 2012 I got a call from her and she said, “Well… looks like you’re going to get your wish.”  She was pregnant with her fourth and our babies would only be about five months apart.

A few weeks before Amy delivered Seth.
I will say that I already knew how strong and how amazing Amy was, but what would occur over the next several months would only deepen my love and respect for her.  At her gender ultrasound Amy found that she was carrying a boy, but that there were several complications.  The day after Christmas Amy and Charlie found out that their son had Trisomy 18, a condition that is considered “incompatible with life.” Amy made the decision that she would carry Seth as long as the Lord allowed.  The next few months were a blur.  We cried and we talked and we cried some more.  I watched this amazing woman handle the unimaginable with such grace and faith.  She was in pain, both emotionally and physically.  During this time I was trying my best to nurse Charleigh, but was having a lot of issues once again.  I was not making enough milk to nurse her exclusively and had to supplement.  I used formula and was fortunate enough to have a friend, Alyssa, who donated milk and would ship it to me all the way from Texas. 

On May 2, 2013, I was in the room with Amy and Charlie when sweet, tiny Seth was born sleeping.  I think there are days in our life that our so seared into our memory that we see it almost as pictures when we look back.  That day is one of those.  I was able to have some time with Amy that day while she labored, and we were able to even have a couple of moments where we laughed together.  As Truvy said in Steel Magnolias, “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.”  There are two moments, in particular, of that day that I will never forget.  The first is watching Charlie bounce and rock Seth in his arms as the doctor cleaned Amy up.  And the second is the sound that Amy made right after Seth was born when her mom came to embrace her.  If I never hear that sound again for the rest of my life that will be just fine.The whole day there was such a sense of calm and grace in that room…..I have never experienced anything like it.  If there was ever a case of “peace that surpasses all understanding” then this was it.  I have never lost a child so I could never fathom the pain that Amy and Charlie have gone through, but the greatest pain I have ever felt was watching someone that I love so fully go through this. 

Amy was gifted a rental of a hospital grade pump from A Nurturing Moment to help ease her discomfort of her milk coming in and to relieve engorgement.  When she started to pump she called me and, in true Amy fashion, showed me the depths of her friendship and love for me.  She wanted me to have Seth’s milk to help in supplementing Charleigh.  She knew how important it was to me that Charleigh have as much breastmilk as possible.  So in the time of her greatest pain she, once again, thought of me.  The night she gave me all the milk she had pumped we stood in her kitchen and cried. 

From left: Charleigh, Ella (Rae's children),
Hannah, Mason and Levi (Amy's children).
Breastfeeding and breastfeeding advocacy has brought so many amazing women into my life.  And my own struggles with breastfeeding have made me more sensitive and empathetic when other women experience similar problems.  The most important lesson that breastfeeding my girls taught me is that sometimes love means sacrifice.  Actually, I think MOST of the time love means sacrifice.  But when you love someone so much, that sacrifice is worth it.  I feel incredibly blessed and fortunate that the perky blonde I met nearly 17 years ago stuck with me long enough for me to grow up and be worthy of her amazing friendship.  Her love and selflessness have never gone unnoticed. 
Rae Sells is a breastfeeding advocate, homeschooling mama and busy wife. She runs a small embroidery and monogramming business in her spare time. It is especially fitting that this is published on International Women's Day because it is the perfect way to honor one of her favorite women!