Reclaiming Our Bodies Our Selves

Today was my grandmother’s birthday and I thought so much about legacy and how we are shaped by our stories and the people in our lives. I wrote a memoir about the woman I was named for and I so grateful and committed to listening and sharing the gift of conversation with our Elders and Wise Women who showed us how they did it.

While I am passionate about oral history, I was unprepared for how much both listening and telling my story might affect me.

Who did we welcome in to our lives at just the right moment?

Who made a difference?

Do you know any women who nursed their little ones?

Do you wonder about healing your relationship with your mom and the people in your life who may want to support you?

How do you show up for yourself?

What would bring you great JOY!

PHOTOS: Kangaroo care for newborns comes to the Ivory Coast’s moms and dads : Goats and Soda : NPR

Can the warmth of a parent’s chest be a boon to babies, especially premature births? In the 1970s, Colombian researchers found it did. The technique has gone global. Ivory Coast is the latest convert.
— Read on www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2022/09/18/1121295549/photos-the-moms-and-dads-of-ivory-coast-are-falling-in-love-with-kangaroo-care

My grandson on his cellphone

I know I have been accused repeatedly as in more than once of believing that nursing your little one will solve everything.  I don’t really think that, but I do sometimes. I have struggled with the words to describe the grief and anger I feel. It is my responsibility to tend to that… I have been playing one of my favorite songs reminding me that I have agreed to bring the revolutionary love in whatever form that looks like at the time.  

https://anidifranco.com

Again, some days are easier than others and sometimes I connect the dots when I can find the dots in the multiplicity of ways that don’t make sense to other people. A writing friend explained that was what I do well when we are able to see things metaphorically from another perspective.

Do what you can! Nurse your baby if you would like! Your little one may be 17 one day or not or snatched away by something complicated or evil or simply in ways we don’t understand or can’t help making sense of, so we find something, or someone to blame.

I have suggested in a poem that I wrote this week that everyone consider adopting a 17-year-old whether you know one or not.

I was sure that we all know or have at least seen one, buried beneath a hoodie, or otherwise in plain view. You may know one of their parents who may need adoption, foster care, orders and prayers of protection for their grandmother and at a minimum some handholding for these times.

Here is the link to my poem below on adoption and my fervent prayer this Sunday morning that I can pray for all of us on their cell phones but especially my grandson on his cellphone and the seventeen-year-old who filmed George Floyd’s last moments crying out for his mom on hersand that we will all be able to do what we can if we just sit down a minute and share love when we are ready and able.

https://jacqueline-laughlin.medium.com/adopt-a-17-year-old-today-e65214ef3ac

Prayers: for Grandson on his cell phone

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FULL MOON MAGIC

RE-LACTATING OR BEGINNING AGAIN…

A Total Lunar Eclipse

I was reading something earlier today about the power of a knee jerk reaction to teach us something profound. The power of our emotional response can indeed be a window to something much deeper .

With all of this talk about missing infant formula, contaminated food sources, and broken supply chains; it is easy to miss the source of why our hearts ache.

This is a good time to allow space and time to get present and inquisitive with our impulses and urges that feel “automatic” and to get curious about from whence these seemingly knee-jerk reactions stem. Does that place within you feel like an aligned place of intuition and knowing? Does it come from your Higher Self? Or does it perhaps feel shaped by outdated conditioning and in need of an update… The invitation is simple: to slow down and get present with looking into why we do what we do. (Bonus points for talking it out with a trusted ally, practitioner, or therapist!)
 https://www.astrograph.com/horoscopes/configurations/2022/May/15

What if you or your little one could only eat one type of food… and it was taken away. lost, unavailable. Money couldn’t buy something not on the shelf. No disposable diapers, what would you do? How would you feel as a mother unable to sustain and provide? Who is to blame? This is the place and the time we are asked to sort out those feelings with kindness to ourselves and others. It is truly full moon magic. Awareness heightened beyond belief. It is painful, disturbing, this season of discovery and loss and change and longing for connection and understanding.

One estimate says 43% of baby formula is out of stock nationwide. The shortage is stressing out parents and putting babies at risk — here’s what you need to know.
Marketplace Reporthttps://www.marketplace.org
As with many shortages, the baby formula crisis doesn’t have just one cause.

Things really started getting bad in February, when the company behind Similac recalled several products over bacteria at one of its main manufacturing plants. That plant is still closed.

Similac maker Abbott Nutrition and just three other companies — Mead Johnson Nutrition, Nestlé USA and Perrigo Co. — produce almost all of the baby formula in the United States. 

“It’s been this way for decades,” said Brian Dittmeier, senior director of public policy at the National WIC Association. “We’ve had large manufacturers that have consistently commanded the market space and edged out the competition. … You wind up with a situation where one plant closing for the matter of a few weeks has this ripple effect throughout the entire industry.”



It’s particularly dire with something like baby formula that is a necessity and that doesn’t have substitutes.

“There are many infants that can only tolerate one or maybe two types of formula,” said Carri Chan, a professor at Columbia Business School. According to Chan, some parents can easily switch their babies to any brand of formula that’s available, but some can’t. They need specific kinds for health reasons.

“And so when there’s a shortage in that area, there’s not a possibility to just switch to an alternative,” Chan said.

If you had a baby recently within the past year or so, re-establishing your own milk supply would take some work and time, but it could be done. Stories of women who have adopted a baby and never having given birth seem far- fetched as to the lengths they would go for touch and nursing. where does the milk come from. How is it possible?

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https://www.llli.org/?s=re+lactation

https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan/2022/05/13/baby-formula-shortage-hits-michigan-families-especially-poor/9733393002/?fbclid=IwAR0qCPljYYmnTUMQFx576AFWbIfpEEaVJkjpKYbjM7pO5OLB2jJfpzTGA8s

https://cultureddiapers.com

You could check out some resources that might help. Or you could call a friend if yuo know someone who is still nursing her baby. See if she might help you. Take your little one to the breast. See how it feels to reclaim your power for something you once had. If you even nursed a few weeks or a few months. take a shower together. Take your top off and your bra! If you ever had a baby, See what it feels like . All the hormones are still there. Prolactin, oxytocin, your desire might rise or not. It doesn’t much matter if you have milk, now does it?

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Thank you Cardi B.

Happy Mothers Day: Influencers

Reproductive Rights in the 21st Century

Thank you Cardi B for the Images of the Goddess the Divine Feminine

I suppose when I think of our covenant to nurse our babies for the first 365 days, staying connected to nurture ourselves. I get the medieval initial virgin birth Mary Madonna and Child image of sanctity. 

My daughter reminded me that image might be due for an update in the land of tik tok and you tube and influencers and shared with me the powerful not so subliminal image of Cardi B nursing her baby on stage at work. Embracing every aspect of her whole self. Sexual, powerful, fierce, and so divinely raucous and feminine. 

Happy Mother’s Day

 If she could make it so… then so could I. She deserved my Mother’s Day card of gratitude for the century. I should be so inclined of sending her a thank you card of power bringing her baby so close and so clearly visible if only the world could see. Grandmas living and dead would be so proud!

 She truly was my New York City home girl just like me and it was my daughter who sent me to higher ground. She showed me the video that Cardi B held court with her baby attached to her tittie inseparable from what she wanted to do.

Separations from our little ones are largely dependent on the kindness or idle comments of strangers opining on what should a good mother do. We rarely if ever ask what do women want and need. What does love and attachment look like.

What a good mother should look like and what does a good mother want and what choices can a woman make just fine on her own.  Many women had no choice on when they should or could leave their baby. Money and food and shelter and safety and what “Kulture” customs insist and define separation from mother and baby, letting go and who’s best interest it is. The things we say we do for the money.

We are not there at that moment! How could we possibly know their story?  I know I am so grateful to Cardi B.   I want to honor every choice a mother makes to share her body and her love with all Divine creation for whatever length of time and under whatever circumstances.

While this week, at the beginning of the month, the money from the check arriving predominates our thoughts. She calls it forth! She occupies her body and moves in ways that make me smile.  Thank you, my daughters, for your choices. Your visibility, your courage. I would not have seen you unless you lived large and sought to influence me.

 I honor this day my ancestors, mothers and daughters the matrilineal line. I look for them, I find their names. I say their names aloud. I see the babies they buried, the bodies they claimed and saved as their own when they could and when they couldn’t. I will never know what sacrifice was provided for me. I know I am standing here the only begotten daughter of our Savior the Divine Mother. Look closely she is in our midst. She looks just like you.

ROLL CALL

My granddaughter: Ava Violet      August,  2019   

My granddaughter: Taylor Marie  August,  2002  

My daughter: Amber Joy Meadows               September , 1980 

My mother: Violette Duckett                         April 1927-January 2009           b. 4/27/27- 1/ 2009

Her mother: Lois Laws.                                October, 1908 -February, 1985    10/24/1908-Feb 20, 

Her mother: Mary Ellen Thomas                  1884–Jan 1912

Her mother: Mary Ellen Thomas                   ???

My grandfather’s mother: Harriet Duckett    July, 1879- 1945

My grandfather’s mother: Ellen Eliza Miriam Samms    c..1862-

My father’s mother: Julia McDougall           July, 1892-September 1986

Her mother: Elmma McDougall.                   c. 1878- 

Thank you Cardi B, Influencer keeping it real… for nursing your baby …so much love and respect for you. Nursing your baby. Making Money. Showing up and showing out!

Losing A Mother

This pandemic of 2020-2021 has hit our mothers in many ways that are unimagined.  Having a baby, nursing a little one and supporting one another through our stories is one way we make a difference in the lives of someone close to us or maybe some mother we don’t even know.

I listened to a story on the radio of a young woman who memorialized her mother who was lost in the pandemic.  What was so sweet about it was the memory she shared about the daily ordinary presence she played in her life that allowed her to just go about the everyday business of her own life.  

I write a devotional as part of a series for my beloved church family and while it’s not usually this personal, as I re-read it this morning, I decided to share it with you.  

Many of you over the years have so courageously shared your stories of missing your mother.  Even if it was not the best or most supportive relationship.  It has indeed impacted how you have parented your own child.

                                                         
 
I CAN ONLY IMAGINE
 
by Jacqueline Lois
 
 
Today as I share my devotion time with you, I took a peek at the daily numbers as we approach a half a million people all beautiful souls who have died from a novel virus.  A life force that was looking for a host to land and thrive and grow with abandon is taking no prisoners, no son, no daughter, no parent, no sister, no brother is left unscathed.
 
I am struggling with the numbers creeping upward unabated as we all try to fathom the sheer weight of it all. It is easier for me to pray for each person, wondering about their story and wondering if I sit quietly for a moment and I can try to take it in without unending despair and grief. As millions recover, we hold them close and see them restored.
 
This hits home my house it hits home as I am the last grandma standing for a portion of my family tree. In less than two weeks, another grandmother and great-grandmother were called home to the Creator.  Returned to the Source to stand in the gap on a different plane than the everyday where we are left behind to care and do and be our very best.  Ancestors of two generations pass the gate.
 
The sudden and cruel devastation causes me to step in and look for ways to spread hope and encouragement. Love is the best of these virtues in finding the courage to be love.
 
I hope you will find a way that allows you to sit with me in pain, anger, and frustrations for whatever time you need.  I see me and the other Grands surrounded by Glory wondering what their hearts would feel where their bodies fade, and they return to Spirt.
 
I like to say, we are not our bodies, we are Spirit.  This does not comfort me in my hour of need. It does comfort me to imagine how it might feel to bow in praise, knowing the sweet peace that comes when all is well, and all is unfolding as it should.
 
I want to be good enough to stand in the gap and do all the things Grands could do and keep healing memories alive. Both my parents were raised by mothers who had no mothers in their living memory; not exactly orphans but their mothers were gone and watching,  protecting from afar.  I had the most wonderful loving parents ever.
 
Without Grace, and Love, where would I be?  I am blessed to give love until my last breath and ever after. Amen!
 
Thank YOU so much Grandma Ann and GG!
 
You both have blessed us all your sons, your daughters with Mercy, Grace and Love.   We will make you proud!  Lives well -lived!   Surrounded in Glory. Well done faithful servants! Your labor has not been in vain.
 
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless  1Corinthians 15:58 (New Living Translation)
 
Here is a link to a wonderful song, “I Can Only Imagine,” with its images of love and hope. https://youtu.be/1v6nIjuTeCs  
 
 
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Thank you so much, Grandma Ann and GG!Backyard graduation celebration on June 30, 2020. None of us knew it would be the last family gathering with all present. From left to right is Grandma Ann (aka Antoinette Montague, 1960-2021), Taylor Meadows(2002–), and her paternal grandmother, Ann’s mother GiGi (aka Delores Marie Montague (1942-2021). Jackie is Taylor’s maternal grandmother and also delivered her. [Photo by our own Donald Burch III]
You both have blessed us all, your sons, your daughters, with mercy, grace and love. We will make you proud! Lives well-lived!  Surrounded in Glory. Well done, faithful servants! Your labor has not been in vain. “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” –1 Corinthians 15:58 (NLT) 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/02/26/pandemic-grief-could-become-its-own-health-crisis/?arc404=true&utm_campaign=wp_post_most&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_most&carta-url=https%3A%2F%2Fs2.washingtonpost.com%2Fcar-ln-tr%2F302af7d%2F603a76119d2fda4c88f526e3%2F5978a9659bbc0f6826ca1ba6%2F18%2F70%2F603a76119d2fda4c88f526e3

MILK without MOM

Breastmilk AS A Commodity

My beloved Son and Daughter-in-law Emily just celebrated the first birthday of my fifth grandchild Ava Violet.  She is still nursing!  I couldn’t be more thrilled!  She is walking; talking; dancing in her first pink tutu; and generally running the household in charge of her three year old brother.  I am strangely grateful for this period of holy hibernation during our new age pandemic. This cataclysmic shift in the universe has had both parents very close at hand with few ventures away from home for this little girl except for daily strolls now that full time center-based day care has been closed in Southern California Coronalland.

Emily and I surprisingly talk little about nursing and breastfeeding. She loves me and knows I am a bit of a fanatic; but she also knows that I know that she is intensely private and that nursing her baby is her business and she’s got this…

She also knows that I am fiercely and intensely proud of this 365 day breastfeeding milestone: not just for her and me, and her daughter, and my son, and the blog but but but just because she is doing what she wants her way with delightful abandon.  This is really good stuff and hope for the planet.  It has been a tumultuous road with bottles, breast pumps, dizzying fatigue & fear, and a healthy dose of not good enough; work; worry: and wondering is she going to be all right.

It is with such humility that I get to selfishly witness such love.  Pleasure, divine maternal attachment and what if anything she might gain for herself for this time for this “last baby” was her primary motive.  Seems to me I guess for this go-round; willpower or perseverance was simply not required. They all figured it out! Love always wins!

Edging the mother out of the picture as the sole arbiter of nursing her baby is a trend that has ominous consequences for all but especially for the mother. During this last day of Breastfeeding Month 2020; I caught a reference to a workshop on Breastfeeding WITHOUT NURSING! Human milk for Human babies, but no touching, no connecting required, needed, or even perhaps desired.  Mom and mom and baby interaction are essentially obsolete. How many ounces did I pump today?  Not latching on; not a problem!  How many little bags can I produce for storage today?  We could get a freezer on sale. No value added for the time we spend together.

If the product is milk, even your milk, how can the product be delivered to the consumer without you?  The stuff of scary science fiction or just relief from an unimaginable burden.

What if there was a vaccine for hate, a slow growing time for learning the capacity for giving, loving and nurturing and it had something to do for all us but especially that mom and that baby having that time to connect, to attach, to learn how and why we may experience belonging and pleasure and the sweet part about just being human. Where do we learn this?  Where might it be taught? Who will teach us if we have lots of milk, but no MOM.

Tell your story,  what happens after staying close to your baby; nursing as best as you can for that very first 365 days after cutting the cord?

References

https://genacorea.com/the-mother-machine

It’s not too late to fall in love again; I wanna know what makes you happy

Behind closed doors good things can happen. Many of us are locked up in the house with someone that we once loved, had babies with, but rarely have we had or ever had so much unabated together time not by choice.

While stress, poverty, frustration and abuse are certainly possible so is love! It is also not surprising that this time creates a window of opportunity to rekindle the love and to approach each other in new and creative ways that may have not been possible before this time.

We have always known the language of love. We know what feels and tastes good to us. But we often have to learn new ways to approach each other for pleasure and greater intimacy. Locked down, sheltered in place, saving the world and probably ourselves can be a recipe to challenge everything that we thought we knew about ourselves and each other. Sometimes you know what makes a person happy. Sometimes you just need the courage to ask . How would you like to be approached for love???for closeness???to allow love and appreciation to grow…

What if it didn’t hurt to simply give someone what they want .. what makes them happy . I have two friends that have been married for a very very very long time.

Not always happy but within the past few days they have noticed even when they have momentarily forgotten they have found unspeakable joy. We laughed and shared how well this time was going for them. More love, more joy, more lives filled with meaning than ever. They know what makes their sweetie happy and not so so surprisingly they are willing in new ways to do whatever it takes .

I wanna know what makes you happy…. I wanna know what makes you smile!

For me this morning it was breakfast in bed. A BLT; NPR on story corps : I didn’t have to get up and get my own coffee. I didn’t have to ask for anything. It was a gift of love …an offer an invitation of willingness. If someone loves you they know what makes you happy, what you like or are willing to ask…

I made a call to my favorite long time married breastfeeding elder girlfriend who doesn’t ever give advice but is always ready with a fabulous design and a short list of ideas of solutions with what’s on hand.

Listen to some good music to get your own self in the mood!

. If I wanna make you happy. Anything you say I’ll do. Just want to see you smile !

First order of business is :

1. I have to be happy myself

2. Get cleaned up take a shower bubble bath ; I need to feel good, smell good, wash my hair & get-dressed for success like you’re going somewhere special on assignment.You know you’re on lockdown and not going anywhere ..Just pretend ..

3. Show or let them touch some skin something … what’s underneath a leg a thigh something they may not have seen in a while

4. Give each other some space. Put some distance between you. Don’t be on top of each other .. make room .. be ok with being alone. Each doing and being your own thing. Be happy with solitude. Get centered! Enjoy your own company when you are blessed in rare rare moments to have it .

5. Share a meal ! It doesn’t have to be the same thing. Two plates of beans. …perhaps the same thing prepared differently . Savor the time and the differences and the sameness …enjoy the preparation but be ready to discard what doesn’t work

6. She repeated again. Time away and apart. Crucial to wanting to be together cause you want to…your choice. Nothing forced or coerced. Give them a chance to ask and say yes

It’s not too late to tell someone you wanna know what makes you happy and have them believe you by just be willing to show up .

It’s not too late to breastfeed your little one!

In case you have been wondering, if you still have to pump breast milk, wondering if you still have milk even if the baby has long been on formula; can you still do it, can you get it back? Is it still good to you ? You can! It’s not too late to nurse your baby…

There are many things that have changed in the past few days and weeks. Maybe you were not home, now you are, maybe you were working as a paid employee, had health insurance , now you’re not! Maybe you are working from home and juggling many things in uncertain times.Maybe you had help and now you don’t …

You have mostly weaned the baby from relying totally on you and relied on bottles, friends, your partner and spending time every day pumping precious milk from your breasts.

In an instant, you could change your relationship with your baby now that you are home and you both are together.

I won’t bore you with the benefits to the baby… there are many advocates online and all around you for that. How would it benefit you to have a seat and just nurse your little one, no bottles, no baby food, no pumps, no going to the store. Just you, and the baby having this time to nurse. What if it was your quiet time, before a nap, before bed time after a bath, after shower. Did you know there were hormones released in your body called relaxin and oxytocin that might relax you and give you a few moments to allow you to drift off to sleep..content …happy, well fed comforted and comforting…

Each time you nurse your baby, the sucking causes you to produce more milk, more for the next feedings for the next day. Like manna from heaven, ready right on time when you need it. Have a snack, have something to drink, get started … you may be surprised at how you feel. How much you have in store that is essential for you; just for you alone. You could tell them you just need a minute. You could supply all you need for however long it was needed. It’s not too late! Let us know how it goes!