babies

Does our work matter?

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Does the unnoticed, messy, relentless, thankless, work matter? In a world full of big and grand, I have been dwelling on this recently. We applaud high attendance at events, we worship those with millions of Instagram followers, we praise leaders who bring help to thousands, and we yearn after bigger houses, bigger cars and bigger paychecks.

But what about the small? What about the mother with several children at home who bathes, feeds, and dresses the same little bodies every day? Does her work matter? What about the mother who balances daycare, employment, and bedtime routines? Or the mother who just gained custody of the older children? Does her work matter?

I would argue that, YES, her work matters immensely. For her investment is not in something that quickly depreciates or that will fade away with time. Her investment is generational. Her investment is in something greater than herself. Her investment leaves a legacy. Her investment, though quiet, teaches the most beautiful of all lessons. Her investment teaches how to love.

So keep up the good work today, my friends. I see you. THEY see you. You are changing lives in the most beautiful way.

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Our stories.

Photo by Liz Cook of Sincerely, Liz, Inc.

Our stories. Are they important? Do they shape our children? Do they shape us? As a culture we are losing the art of storytelling. Oh, we can boast. We can complain. We can argue. We can "talk". I know I personally hesitate to tell my story if it is messy. After all who would want to hear my pain and my struggles, my unmet expectations, mistakes, and failures?

I know one person who would, my daughter. In fact, just the other day she asked about how I "disappointed my mama." What did I do to make her sad? How did I learn? It woke me up and made me realize that stories are not supposed to be perfect. Stories present us opportunities to learn.

Each of you, as women, has a story. You have a life story. You have a motherhood story. You have a narrative that is longing to be told and that just might encourage someone in a season right behind you.

Maybe you're in the midst of infertility struggles. Maybe you've just lost a baby. Maybe you're pregnant for the first time. Maybe you're the mother of twins. Maybe you're a mother through adoption. Maybe you're the biological mother of 10. Maybe you dislike breastfeeding. Maybe you long to breastfeed.

We need to hear your stories. I long for you to use them to encourage someone around you or to share a lesson learned with your children. You are valuable and so is your story.

With love,

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Baby-Friendly USA - Standing behind our local hospital

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One of the things we most desire as an organization is to advocate for a positive change in maternal health on a community level. It is for that reason that we are proud to stand behind our local hospital (Centra Virginia Baptist Hospital) in their effort to obtain the coveted, Baby-Friendly USA designation. The staff and administration have worked relentlessly to integrate the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding best practices. Baby-Friendly hospitals and birthing facilities must adhere to the Ten Steps to receive, and retain, a Baby-Friendly designation. The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are:

  1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
  2. Train all health care staff in the skills necessary to implement this policy.
  3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
  6. Give infants no food or drink other than breast-milk, unless medically indicated.
  7. Practice rooming in - allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
  8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
  9. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
  10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or birth center.

Centra Virginia Baptist Hospital will have their site visit for accreditation by Baby-Friendly USA on March 10 and 11, 2015. They have a request for you, the mothers of our local community. The goal of the 2 site assessors will be to see moms here in the hospital, but they may need to call moms on the phone to ask about their stay. If you were a patient in the last 6 weeks you have the potential to hear from a Baby-Friendly assessor. Questions could include: Was your baby offered a pacifier? How long did you do skin to skin? Was your baby taken from your room? Would you be willing to take the time to speak honestly and truthfully with the assessors? Would you be willing to think about your answers to these questions in preparation? We know your time is limited and precious, and we thank you in advance for considering your response. Together we will support this momentum for a positive change in maternal health in our community.

If you have any questions or concerns, Jackie Weaver (Unit Manager, Mother Baby) would love to hear from you, her office number is 200-4630!

 

For more details about the practices put into place and the road to Baby-Friendly, read on:

The journey to this site visit is what led our hospital to add many of the wonderful processes you may have experienced recently. Skin to skin is now possible for 100% of our vaginal deliveries as long as everyone is stable. We offer skin to skin for our C-section patients as well as long as mom and baby are stable. Even if skin to skin is not possible after your C-section, we have an increased focus on non-separation of mom from her baby. This can include a care partner holding the baby close by in the operating room or mom meeting her baby in recovery. Skin to skin should last as long as mom wants and at least through the first feeding. This process has been very rewarding for our staff as we watch babies transition significantly better on mom’s chest.

Other practices influenced by our journey include rooming in and lactation education for all our staff members. Rooming in helps mom and babies learn to be a team by matching sleep cycles and becoming familiar with babies unique cues. All staff members received lactation education and training. We now have a team of lactation consultants who see moms (formula and breast milk) in the hospital as well as outpatient at our Baby Café.

We are so thankful to groups such as yours for your support and collaboration. Through your discussions, patient experience stories, and questions we have been able to influence the population health of our community. With the support of the wonderful moms in our area, we now have a breastfeeding rate of 90%.

Jackie Weaver | Unit Manager, Mother Baby

We need relationships.

Photo by Liz Cook of Sincerely, Liz, Inc.

Sending you warm and loving thoughts as we near Valentine's Day. Motherhood can be such a lonely and isolating job. I don't desire that for any of you. We need relationships. We need them on the sunshine and rainbows days and on the dark and stormy days. Sometimes, though, it takes a first step. It takes being uncomfortable. It takes effort. It takes reaching out.

Will you challenge yourself? Will you push your fears aside as we near the holiday that celebrates relationships? Text a friend. Go on a walk with a neighbor. Join us at playgroup. Practice self care and attend a support group.

I loved seeing all the new and familiar faces at the Café yesterday morning! I applaud each of you for putting in the work to make it there. I hope the laughter was refreshing and the panel educational. If there is ever any way in which we could be serving you better, would you email me at: lbarnes@themotherhoodcollective.org?

We are here for you. We long to see a societal change in maternal health. Will that change start with you?

Most sincerely,

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Changing Seasons

I love living in Virginia! Not only is it a gorgeous state with beautiful mountains and beaches, but we get to enjoy all four seasons. And there are things I love about each season. Recently I've been hearing the word "season" a lot and not just referring to Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Our lives are a sequence of seasons, too. Season means a time characterized by a particular circumstance or feature. On numerous occasions in the past few weeks, I have been telling someone about how my house looks like a tornado touched down or that I never have time to clean and they have responded, "It's just the season you're in, it won't last forever. Enjoy it."

We are all in different seasons of our lives, as cliched as that may sound, it is the simple truth. Unfortunately, when a season of your life ends and a new one begins you won't get to experience it again in nine months...you've closed that chapter of your life permanently! Kind of a sad thought...huh?!

There are things we will miss terribly and things we are glad to see go. In high school I was in such a hurry to start college and get a real job - but then I got a real job! After I started working full time I would have loved to be able to my go back to my high school years when I didn't have bills, much responsibility and had summers off! I guess it's human nature to never truly realize what you have until it's gone. Then once it's gone you look back and think, wow, those were the good days! I do my best to be have an optimistic perspective on things, and luckily I am an optimist by nature so it comes fairly easy for me. Sometimes when you're in the moment it's easy to only notice the negative but just wait a few months (sometimes it only takes weeks or days) and look back and the things that stand out will be the good memories. So why not enjoy them while they are occurring?! The sleepless nights, messy house, toddler meltdowns, repeating myself 10 20 times a day doesn't even scratch the surface in comparison to the hugs, impromptu "I Love You's", first coos and smiles, locking eyes with my newborn while he nurses, watching my husband twirl my toddler around the living room in her princess dress and high heel slippers...I could go on and on. Sometimes I feel like I need to constantly have the camera and video camera in my hand. I don't ever want to forget all these special moments.

Big Sister Taegan

I wish someone had explained this to me a long time ago and I wish I could have comprehended what it meant. I was always (and still catch myself sometimes) counting down to the next big thing instead of savoring the moment.

So here's to embracing the season of life we are experiencing today. Our current season is filled with lots of giggles, coos, cries, Disney songs, twirly dresses, big messes, diapers and so much more! But these are definitely "The Good Times".

Baby Silas

---- Many thanks to Brittany Barney for allowing us to use this post. Brittany is a part-time nurse/part-time stay at home mom. She and her husband live on a farm with their two dimpled-faced children, 2 1/2 year old Taegan and newborn, Silas. Click here to view her original post.