Changing Arizona Breastfeeding Laws

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I was obsessed with my computer and social media long before Facebook happened.  As a stay at home mom I needed the window to the world provided by messages boards.  I belonged to one on Yahoo called AZMamas, a group for moms who were striving to raise our children in a gentle and thoughtful manner but talked about topics that ranged from best brand of cloth diaper to very non-kid friendly conversations about which batteries were best for hand-held battery-operated toys not meant for children  This message board, our social media, played nearly as big a role in a huge victory for moms and babies as any person involved.  There are more than a dozen versions of this story, but this is mine:

In the summer of 2005 I was checking in on AZMamas and read a post by Lisa Schedler about how a friend of hers was asked to stop nursing at a Chandler City Pool  because someone reported they were uncomfortable with her nursing, even though she was actually fully covered for her comfort (she hadn’t worn a bathing suit with easy nursing access), and showing less than even the staff members of the pool.  The last thing Lisa wrote was, “Anyone know the status on AZ getting some breastfeeding laws?”

The immediate response from other Mamas was to do a nurse in at the public pool, but then someone quickly suggested that a better idea would be going to an upcoming City Council Meeting.  One mom, Michelle Hottya, reminded us about how if we could get support from a city it would be easier to make a state wide change. Several of us shot out emails to elected officials for Chandler City Council and also some of our state legislators.  One of the first emails written to Chandler was by one of the smartest people I know, Christia Bridges-Jones, who can debate anyone on any topic and will never lose.  I also put together an email for my state legislators and was in such a hurry that I spelled my own name wrong (which might not have been noticed but it was forwarded to a Legislative Chief of Staff and a friend of my husband who got a good laugh). 

Most of us had never even met the woman who was asked not to breastfeed at the pool and we were all ready to go to battle with her.  It took a day to find out that the mom,  Amy Milliron  was planning on speaking at the City Council Meeting and was put 3rd on the agenda.  Many of us got busy clearing our schedule to go to this meeting.  There was a Tucson business ran by Chandra Ruiz that sold pro-breastfeeding t-shirts, and although I didn’t know her personally, I emailed Chandra to see if she could make it to the meeting and possibly bring some of her shirts for people to wear to the meeting. Chandra couldn’t make it to the meeting, but we sparked her interest and she started working on getting the word out to her peeps in Tucson. 

Within a few days of the original post, we were able to fill a Chandler City Council Meeting to standing room only with moms, dads, and children of all ages to show our support for Amy and her son Aiden who was only a few months old.  The other group that was at the meeting was the media.  Many of us were interviewed and others were filmed at the meeting actually nursing!  I give one of the stations bonus points for not only showing babies nursing, but they filmed one of my toddlers nursing (they stopped just before what looked like she may be giving The Finger). 

The members of the City Council moved Amy Milliron up on the agenda because there were so many of us, and maybe they wanted us to leave with all of our kids so they could go back to a quieter and more typical City Council Meeting.  I still had never met Amy, but was impressed with her desire to get to the top and ask for clarification on the situation that had occurred at the city pool.  She showed no signs of nervousness to address the Council and let them know what happened.  There were others that stood up and spoke, including Amy’s mother. 

Within the same week as the City Council Meeting, I received a call from an assistant to one of the state legislators I had emailed.  Senator Ken Cheuvront wanted to know if a group of us moms could meet with him and a few other state legislators to discuss the issue.  Ummm…yeah!  I got back on AZMamas and let people know about the request to meet.  Several of us got together and created a PowerPoint presentation, talking points, and a strategic plan.  All while sitting in someone’s house with kids running around. 

We showed up at the Capitol, covered tattoos, some hairy armpits, and any appearance of tree hugging or hippy living.  We talked to some staff and legislators – both Democrats and Republicans (one was Senator Timothy Bee from Tucson whose mother had been a La Leche League Leader!).  The meeting was a start, but we didn’t leave with anyone willing to sponsor a bill.  One female legislator basically said that we needed to stay home until we were done nursing. 

What I didn’t know at the time was that another of my legislators had already been working on drafting a bill and she had contacted Amy Milliron and was planning on meeting with her.  And there was another local group that had been working with a legislator from Tucson on bill, but it never got very far. 

Word spread about everything going on with posts on AZMamas, forums on Mothering.Com,
and the newly sprouted up message board that was dedicated specifically to the topic of breastfeeding advocacy, AZLactivists.  We were so motivated and things were moving so quickly.  We were actually reprimanded by the group that had been working for years on breastfeeding advocacy.  We were told we were going to crash and burn by moving at the speed we were without any real planning.  Things needed to be done slower for them to work.  The reprimand came at a meeting many of us were attending, and I don’t think they knew we were there.  The fun part was during introductions when I said my name and the speaker said, “Oh…so YOU are Karen Bayless Feldman!”  My reputation had preceded me – perhaps because when I posted I may not have always taken myself too seriously, after all I tend to misspell my own name when I’m in a hurry or all riled up or it’s a Tuesday. 

We all finally got to meet Amy when she invited us to join her at a meeting with the legislator she had been contacted by, Representative Kyrsten Sinema, and a staff attorney to help write a bill.  It was a beautiful day.  There was already a bill partly written and we were given the opportunity to add or change a few things.  The attorney would look up what we wanted to see if it should work and pretty much everything we asked for was put in the bill, which was simply that a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be present, and that she would not be violating indecent exposure laws. 

Rep. Sinema has always been a very intelligent person and that also meant she knew that a bill with her name on it, or most likely the name of any Democrat legislator, would not pass in our Republican dominated legislature.  Rep. Sinema helped us find two sponsors for the bill that were both Republicans, Senator Timothy Bee and Representative Jonathan Paton.  It was a brilliant move.  Rep. Sinema help was nearly all done from behind the scenes because it would give us a better chance.  Rep. Sinema introduced us to Chad Campbell who taught a class on Citizen Lobbying, and she helped us organize a picnic on the Capitol Lawn.  Representative Kyrsten Sinema is now Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema.  She is still smart and amazing and getting it done in Washington DC!

From our Citizen Lobbying class we learned that one way to convince state legislators to vote a certain way is the process of giving public comment, and the only way to be able to give public comment was through a system that required signing in at a computer at the Capitol and we wanted to get as many people as possible signed up.  That’s why we had a picnic.  We put word out on all the different message boards, asked people to spread the word, and we fed families and legislators apple pie (get it, our theme was Moms & Apple Pie!).  Plenty of moms and dads signed up and we had some great pie!  We were ready again with talking points for talking to media and I was appointed to make sure that everyone was being respectful because we didn’t want the event to turn into a protest.  We also wanted to prove that breastfeeding could happen in front of our state capitol and not be all that scandalous.  For whatever reason it was decided that I could best handle any situations where someone might actually be showing breasts while breastfeeding.  Funny thing was there were more butt cracks showing from low rise jeans when moms were sitting on the grass than breasts showing during any nursing that went on. 

By this time we had a planning group of 12 of us:  Amy Milliron, Christia Bridges-Jones, Karen Mayo-Shanahan, Lisa Schedler, Chandra Ruiz, Michelle Hottya, Ruth Roazen, Sharon Baartmans, Sommer Bradford, Gretchen Kies, Merrie Rheingans, me, and  12 of us that were doing most of the planning, but we had so many other moms that were helping out.  We couldn’t have done what we did without being able to reach out to other moms for babysitting, coming to picnics, writing letters to their legislators, making official public comments, and so much more.  I’ve mentioned a few people who were part of the 12 (we never could come up with a name for ourselves – The Dirty Dozen seemed like a bad idea). 

In February 2006 we had to prepare for a hearing with The Government Reform and Government Finance Accountability Committee that would be discussing House Bill 2376.  It was our third time hiding tats and other signs of tree hugging lifestyles to go down to the Capitol.    A few of us were prepared to speak at the committee meeting that was hearing the bill.  One thing that wasn’t expected was that a legislator tried to add something on to our bill that would make having sex with animals illegal (there had been a recent situation that involved a farm animal in Mesa).  The two speakers were Amy Milliron and Christia Bridges-Jones, and they were prepared for most of the questions – including one legislator wanting to know if we would then end up with 40-something year old men claiming to be breastfeeding if they were caught making out in a car.  And luckily the added beastiality part was taken out (although we didn’t want it included we also knew that having it would probably make legislators afraid to vote no). 

The  bill passed  through the committee and where some bills still die a quick death.  Ours went on to the House Floor and it where all but two House Members voted yes (I think one of the no votes was the female legislator that thought we should stay home until our babies weaned).  Then the bill went on to pass unanimously in the State Senate.  The final step was to wait for Governor Janet Napolitano to either sign the bill, ignore the bill (which has the same affect as signing, but not nearly as cool), or veto the bill.  Gov. Napolitano signed the bill and by that fall we had a law that would protect women like Amy who just wanted to feed her baby when he needed to eat. 

We were all warned in the beginning that it can take years for a good bill to pass.  We were cautioned not to get too excited because it could take some time.  We were scolded for rushing things.  And in one year we were able to get the word out to enough moms (and dads) to get a bill passed.  I can only imagine how much larger it would have been if FaceBook or Twitter had been around.  Now our little AZMamas, which is nearly defunct, seems so small compared to the number of people the new shiny forms of social media could have reached,  but we did it. 

The actual law: 
Section 22-1-13
Breastfeeding children in public or private locations.
A mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be present.

(Act 2006-526, p. 1222, §1.)
—-
13-1402. Indecent exposure; exception; classification

A. A person commits indecent exposure if he or she exposes his or her genitals or anus or she exposes the areola or nipple of her breast or breasts and another person is present, and the defendant is reckless about whether the other person, as a reasonable person, would be offended or alarmed by the act.

B. Indecent exposure does not include an act of breast-feeding by a mother.

The original post that started it all:

I’m just frustrated and venting here. Today a friend told me that  recently she was at a Chandler pool and was asked to go to the bathroom because someone reported they were uncomfortable with her nursing. She was off to the side in a shaded area and was being discreet. The one thing that really upset her was that there was more skin being exposed by the people in the pool and working there.

Fortunately she knows a reporter and has called them, hopefully they will run something on this.

I’m just so mad at the person who complained whoever they are. And I’m super mad at the fact she was asked to take her baby to the bathroom to be fed.

All day it’s been on my mind. I’ll update if I learn anything new. Anyone know the status on AZ getting some breastfeeding laws?

Lisa

Written By: Karen Bayless Feldman

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Vaccination Wars- The Great Lie

I really loved the way this was put into words.

“Generally, those who don’t understand, believe that anti-vax parents are actually anti-protection.  That is not largely true.  We are against the crap IN the vaccines that can do harm to our families, NOT against protecting anyone from disease.” -CautiousMom Blog

The Cautious Mom

The National Library of Medicine
“In 1736 I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the small-pox, taken in the common way. I long regretted bitterly, and still regret that I had not given it to him by inoculation. This I mention for the sake of parents who omit that operation, on the supposition that they should never forgive themselves if a child died under it; my example showing that the regret may be the same either way, and that, therefore, the safer should be chosen.”

-Ben Franklin when asked about inoculations.

Inoculations in the 1730’s were undeniably just as controversial as they are now.  The procedure to administer an inoculation was a dangerous operation, potentially fatal, even- but less likely to kill than the disease they were fighting and after having lost his own son to the terrible disease, he fought to spread the word throughout England and…

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What Not to Say… to Someone Suffering from a Chronic Illness

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Have you ever wondered what is the right thing to say to someone who is suffering from a Chronic Illness? Like a Do’s and Dont’s list? Actually there is. I just made one up. Im sure Im not the only one who has a list. Theirs may even be different than mine. As someone who has struggled with a chronic illness, for what seems like my whole life, just when I think I have heard everything there is to hear, someone else pops out with something that takes things to a new level. So here is a compilation of things I have had the joys of hearing or is known to be a commonality.

Surely this list could go on and on for days. But we will keep it short and simple.

•My (insert someone you know) had the same thing, but she kept active and still took care of her responsibilities.

This is offensive on many levels. Not only are you expecting an individuals circumstances to be the same. Chronic illness isnt a one size fits all illness.

•  My (insert someone you know) had that but she cured herself.

Or better yet…
• My (insert someone you know) was cured by XYZ Brand Essential Oils/ TUV Awesome Juice/QRS Scented Candles. I can get you signed up as an independent distributor at a discounted rate of $199.99.

You are not being helpful. You are attempting to profit off the back of my illness. Call it what it is. Seriously, tread lightly. This is rude.

•  If you just worked out/got some sunshine once in a while, you would feel better.

What medical school did you attend anyway?  Unless you have a valid medical degree and specialize in this persons area of medical concern, until you are asked for your medical opinion, please keep your opinions to yourself.

• Asking to be hooked up with pain/muscle medication is unacceptable.

Would you ask someone else for their Birth Control pills for day 14, day 19, days 23-26? People who suffer in pain don’t have “Extra”. And that is aside from the legal standpoint and asking someone who suffers from Chronic Pain or Illness to be hooked up with pills for your recreational benefit is saying that your fun levels are more important than the treatment of someone elses health.

• “You don’t look sick.”

Well surprise, surprise, surprise. You cant tell what a person is suffering through or suffering from by looking at them. Just because you cant “see” it, doesnt mean it isnt there or isnt real.

• “My (insert someone you know) died from that.”

Yeah, people die from it. Thanks, for the reminder. Could we just stop with this altogether.

•”Wow! You probably passed that on to your children.”

I dont have anything for this.

• “It is all in your head.”

Yes, I have actually been told this…BY A MEDICAL DOCTOR!  The best part of this being told to me was when I chose not to see this doctor again because of his arrogance and ignorance, a year later HIS “Physician’s Assistant”  requested the labs that ultimately diagnosed my imaginary condition. Its never a good idea to make assumptions. Not even for doctors. The end result will always be the same.

•  “I totally understand what you are going thru, my (insert a casual acquaintances name) had that and it was difficult for her”.

We all understand the sentiments trying to be expressed here but there is no way that a witness to a serious medical condition could understand the effects Chronic Illness has on the person directly suffering.

Dealing with Chronic Illness is difficult. Until you have been there, you cannot truly know, but that does not eliminate your sympathies and concerns for others who do suffer like this everyday. You can always express care, concern and interest in someone elses life that is going through an illness without being insensitive. You dont have to ignore it and pretend that its not happening.

• Ask Questions. Ask about their day, week and other things they have going on in their life. If they are open to talking about how they feel, ask how they feel. Dont just listen…and hear what they are saying to you.

• Take the initiative to learn about your friends or family members condition. Research. But please…not in Hypochondria Mode.

• Call or Visit. If someone is up for a visit, call and ask if they would like some company. Call them just to let them know you are thinking of them. If you are planning for a visit, plan ahead. If someone isnt up for a visit, dont take is personally. It could be any number of factors from fatigue to a house that they would feel embarrassed about (Been There!)

• Offer your assistance. If there is something they need help with, offer your time and energy. Offer to take the kids to lunch or a stroll to the park. Help make freezer meals, Take out the garbage, etc.

• Remember to include them. Just because they didnt attend a BBQ or Picnic last time they were invited doesnt always mean they cant attend the next one. For some people with medical concerns, they have good days and not so good days. Invite them anyway. They may come. There is no worse than feeling like you have been forgotten, excluded or left out. 

• Take the time to learn about their medical condition. Having family and friends support and understanding in a difficult time is a sense of relief for many people. You can join online suppprt groups, support groups for friends and family of peoole who suffer from Chronic or Terminal Illness.

• Be yourself. Be who you really are. No one wants to hang around with an uptight Debbie Downer. Have the conversations that make you remember why your relationship with this person is so special.

• Make the time. Life is short. Chronic Illness or not, immortality is unsustainable. Make the best of your time and create the memories that you want to have…TODAY!

Dioxin…The Household Hazard

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What exactly is Dioxin? In a nutshell, its stuff you seriously don’t want to expose yourself, your children and pets to but your home probably has more of it than you know. 

Dioxins are produced in small concentrations when organic material is burned in the presence of chlorine, whether the chlorine is present as chloride ions or asorganochlorine compounds, so they are widely produced in many contexts. Dioxins can be produced by backyard burning barrels, medical waste and metal smelting. But thats not the only place they occur.

Dioxin Chemical Index

They are also found in Baby Diapers, Baby Wipes, Tampons, Feminine Pads, Panty Liners, White (Bleached) Coffee Filters, Bleached Paper Products which includes toilet paper and paper towels, facial tissues and tea bags.

The Role of Dioxin in Cancer. (About 1/3 of the way down the page) is a fantastic sourced bit of information on how Dioxin effects humans in short term and long term from reproductive to carcinogenic effects.

Dioxin Public Enemy Number 1

World Health Organization (WHO) On Dioxins

FDA Acknowledges Dioxin in Tampons

FDA States Trace Levels of Dioxin in Tampons pose no risk to Tampon Users

The Keeper on Dioxin
One study found that 80 percent of the monkeys exposed to dioxin developed endometriosis, and that higher levels of exposure caused the development of more severe forms of the disease. Two of the monkeys in the study died due to endometriosis. Source for The Monkey/Dioxin Endometriosis Study

Dioxins Linked to Infertility Women with higher levels of dioxin in their blood when they tried to get pregnant took longer to conceive than women with lower levels, researchers report in a followup study.

Dioxin Linked to Sterility

You can help reduce your exposure to Dioxins thru sources such as Tampons, Pads and Diapers and it is fairly easy.

Buy Dioxin Free Disposable Tampons

Buy A Reusable Diva Cup. You can Purchase One Online or Find a Retailer near you.

A Diva Cup isn’t your only option for a reusable menstrual cup. There are actually several options available from a variety of manufacturers. Moon Cup, and a Miacup and Lunette Cups. Be sure to check the sizing guide for each company before purchasing your cup. Prior to my hysterectomy, I was a cup user (Diva) and while I was a bit of a skeptic when I actually commited to buying one. It only took one cycle to become a fan of the product.

Menstrual Cups also come in disposable cups as well such as the Instead Cup.

Tom Organics Disposable Pads, Tampons and Liners.

Little Angel Dioxin Free Baby Wipes

Green Your has several options for Disposable, Chlorine Free, Dioxin Free baby Diapers. We used Cloth Diapers on our trio. I know there are a million and one options for cloth diapers and there are a million and one reasons why each person picks something different. If you aren’t familiar with modern day cloth diapers, I assure you that they aren’t your grandmothers old school ‘diaper pin’ diapers that need rubber pants to be worn over them. My personal preference was pocket diapers (PUL Lined) with removable inserts because I am quite abusive when cleaning my kids diapers and I could abuse the inserts more by washing them separately from the pocket itself.

You can often purchase Unbleached (Brown) coffee filters in most stores and even purchase reusable Gold Mesh Coffee Filters or buy them online. Dioxin Free Coffee Filters

Be sure to share this with your friends and family to help educate them about the risks and sources of Dioxin exposure and what they can do to reduce their intake of this harmful toxin.

If you have links and other valuable sources for Dioxin Free products or Educational Information, we’d love your feedback!

You’re Not my real Mom

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Growing up, I was raised with a Step-Dad. My oldest son also has been raised with a Step-Dad (my husband) and I’ve said ‘Your NOT my real Dad’ and its been said by my son as well. Today in a private group a mother of an adopted child shared how she has dealt with this and it was such a great way to ease the tension and lighten the mood. I thought I would share (with her permission of course):

I finally found a playful/loving way to address the dreaded “YOUR NOT MY REAL MOTHER!” line that some kids (ok mine) like to say when they are angry, and I thought it might be helpful for someone else. I have a son who uses that line when he is really mad that he has a consequence and that lovely phrase came out of his mouth again today. He was adopted at age 7, he is 9 now, just FYI. Now he had already had his consequence and his talking to for his behavior and fast forward a few hours later after he was completely calm and in a better space. Now this technique could totally backfire if I had any biological sons, but I don’t, I just have two REAL adopted sons. He saw me pull out some crafts that he loves doing and I noticed he was very interested. So I said to him “My REAL son just loves to sit at the table and do crafts with me. If you see him can you tell him to come sit with me?” He knew I was being playful and silly so he smiled and sat down and got busy making crafts. I proceeded to tell him how sweet and helpful my real son is, and mentioned how he had such a nice smile. I like to be a little dramatic at times, so in a very serious tone I said “Oh but you DO NOT want to meet my FAKE son! He gets real mad and says mean things.” He said “I know who you are talking about!” But he played right along we kept the game going the whole day. He asked what was for dinner, I told him I made chili because my real son just loves it! My fake son loves chili too but mostly because it makes him fart. When it was time for bed I asked if I could have a hug from my real son. He came and sat on my lap and I hugged him tight before I sent him off to bed. I guarantee their will be more days like this but I always feel better when I can address it in a way that makes him see how silly that is to say something like that.

Written by: Susan Woodruff

Inner Imperfections

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When it comes to life and all that it holds, I’m not perfect. I know I’m far from it. Im quite imperfect. I also know your not perfect either. We all make mistakes. I’ve made my fair share and I know my life isn’t nearly over yet and I will make more. A lot more. I also know I’ve learned from past mistakes. I’ve not always veiwed my mistakes as a mistake immediately. Sometimes its taken time. Some longer than others.

This is a blog geared at being peaceful and positive in all aspects without passing judgements on others for their imperfection and mistakes and helping those receptive to better understanding.

“Time is a great teacher,  but unfortunately it kills all of its pupils” – Hector Berloiz

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