BlogHer swag, unpacked

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I didn't get to go to the BlogHer conference this year, since Buzzy was only a few weeks old. Selling my ticket was the right decision, but I was still really bummed not to be able to go--I love the conference and look forward to it every year. To moderate my disappointment at not being able to attend, my amazing friend S. collected a box of excellent BlogHer swag and sent it to me.

There is really nothing in the world I love more than getting a box of stuff in the mail, y'all.

And I know some of you are stuff hounds, too, so I thought I'd show you what BlogHer had for me this year, in my absence, courtesy of S.

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What's in there??

-Alberto V05 Silky Experience Moisturizing Shea Cashmere Shampoo & Conditioner
-Pantene Medium-Thick Hair Solutions Professional Level Damage Repair Ampoules
-On The Fly Bottle Warmer Small Starter Kit
-Softcup Menstrual Cup
-evologie e system Intensive Blemish Serum and Stay Clear Cream combo
-Foot Petals Killer Kushionz Full Insoles
-reusable evo '12 bag from Gemline
-C.O. Bigelow Mentha Organics Sheer Lip Tint in No. 601, Barely There & Metha Lip Shine in No. 1190, Cinnamint
-Circo Long-Sleeved Toddler T-shirt, black with skulls
-Wittlebee Clothing Club onesie
-Specific Beauty Exfoliating Cleansing Cloths
-Cloud B Baby Mimicking Monkey Rattle
-$5 Carter's Gift Card
-Baby Anti Monkey Butt Diaper Rash Powder & Diaper Rash Cream
-imPRESS Press-On Manicure
-Olay Regenerist Wrinkle Revolution Complex
-Proactiv Clarifying Night Cream
-Nuance Salma Hayek Blackcurrant Intense Hydration Hair Mask
-Trojan Vibrations Vibrating Tri-Phoria Intimate Massager

Pretty good haul, right? I'm especially excited about the bottle warming kit and other baby-related stuff.

Did you go to BlogHer? Tell me about it! Tell me about your swag!

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Letter to Buzzy #3: The First Month

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Dear Buzzy,

You are only six weeks old and I am already behind--I had such good intentions of writing these letters every month. Hopefully I will catch up after this non-auspicious start.
The first few weeks of your life were as intense as I'd expected, and then some. We started out with a brief hospitalization for your jaundice, which managed to completely freak me out, but turned out to be not that big a deal. Since then, though, pretty well everything has gone far better than I'd expected it would. I know it's a jinx to say this, but I have to put it down for prosperity anyway--you're a blessedly easy baby. From the beginning, you've eaten well, slept well, and been a generally happy little guy. You like to eat often and plenty, you do not like being wet or dirty, and you have no problem making your demands known. You prefer, as one would expect, to be held, and you'll tell us about it if you aren't where you want to be, but you do very little fussing for no reason, and almost no crying without a reason. I didn't expect to be getting as much sleep as I am right now, and I certainly didn't expect to be spending as little time as I am pulling out my hair. Even if you make up for this peaceful period with brutal teenaged years, I'm still grateful.

Which isn't to say that the transition to parenthood isn't stressful, and frightening, and exhausting--it is. Your Grandma Penny was here for the first three weeks, and there is really no way to overstate how much easier that made everything. Seriously, if you get one thing out of this month's letter, get that--your mom's mom is a saint. It's nearly unimaginable that someone could be so helpful, loving, and wonderful, and simultaneously be completely unjudgemental and un-overbearing. If there is a perfect balance for a parent to take when helping her child become a parent herself, my mother found it. I wish every new parent could have a mom like her. She's also more than a little bit smitten with you. My mom is not a mushy person (and I'm not particularly, either, but I'll get to that later), but she is just gaga over you. She was more affectionate and enamored than I've ever seen her, for sure. You'll always have an ally in her--and I can tell you from experience that makes you a very, very lucky little boy.

After Grandma Penny left, Grandma Irene and Grandpa John came to visit us--or, really, to visit you. They, too, were instantly in love. They even babysat while your dad and I went out to dinner--the first time we'd been away from you, together. It went great. Every time I've left you with anybody (just them, Grandma Penny, and your dad) it has gone great. I expected to have anxiety about it, but I just don't, and I'm really grateful for that--I think it's better for both of us if we spend occasional time apart, even this early. You're completely willing to take my milk from a bottle and actually seem to be even mellower and amenable for other people than you are for me, so I'm guessing you agree.

Because I have so far completely failed in keeping any sort of record of your behavior or milestones, I guess I should use this letter to record a few of those:

Sleep: You tend to sleep from between 10-12 PM to between 3-5 AM, then nurse/get changed, then sleep until 6-7AM, then nurse/get changed, then sleep until 8-9AM. You started this schedule pretty much as soon as I stopped waking you up to nurse every three hours--so at about 2 or 2.5 weeks. I find it pretty amazing, compared to a lot of the horror stories I've heard. Sure, I'd love it if you slept an 8-hour stretch, but you aren't ready to do that yet, and that's fine. You sleep in a co-sleeper next to my side of the bed, but I sneak you into bed with us in the morning, typically between the 6-7AM and 8-9AM waking/feedings. I didn't think I would want to or feel comfortable doing that, but I do. You aren't much into naps at this point--you snooze for a few minutes at a stretch all day long, but the substantial morning and afternoon naps I've heard about haven't kicked in yet. We're working on that.

Eating: You came out knowing how to nurse. You just got it, and you haven't flagged for more than a few minutes since. You nurse often, easily, and enthusiastically. At around three weeks, I started pumping and we started introducing bottles, and you took easily to those as well. It's a bit odd, since I was someone who did NOT want to breastfeed, but breastfeeding has been a complete non-issue for us. I don't love it, I don't have a mushy emotional response to it like I hear some people do, but it's not that bad, and it's clear that you're thriving, so the inconvenience and discomfort inherent in it is well worth it. You weigh over 12 lbs already! Again, I'm grateful--it's something I doubtlessly would have quit had it been hard, so it's a blessing that it has been so very easy. I still don't see extended nursing in our future--I just can't imagine that--but one never knows.

Smiling: Grandma Penny swears you smiled the morning she left, which would have put your first smile at three weeks and two days. That seems a bit on the early side, but I can't pinpoint another first, so I guess we'll go with it. You smile often now, and in several different ways, each one cuter than the last. You're pretty expressive in general, and your eyes are so big and dark, your expressions can get pretty piercing. At least, for someone who isn't yet two months old.

Lifting your head and rolling over: You started trying to lift your head the day you were born, and you're an old pro at it now. You still can't hold it up for very long by yourself, but you get stronger every day. You can also turn it from side to side. Yesterday, you even rolled part way over--from your back to your side to your stomach.
Recognition: I can't say for sure who you can and cannot recognize, but I feel quite sure you know who I am, and you turn towards me when I come into the room. You do the same thing when your dad comes home.

One thing has happened in your first month that wasn't easy--I was unexpectedly laid off from my job. I was notified when you were three weeks old, the same day Grandma Penny left. That was a bad, bad day. And it means, as of now, that the plan of my returning to work and you starting day care after Labor Day (only a couple of weeks from now) is on hold. I am looking for a new job already, and have some prospects, but I'm not in a huge hurry--if this unexpected turn means I stay home with you for twelve weeks instead of eight, or even for a bit longer than that, I think that would be OK. I haven't at all changed my mind and decided I want to be a stay at home mom long term, but there is definitely something priceless about spending these very early weeks with you.

So how do our days look? We cuddle and/or nurse while your dad takes a shower. After he gets out of the shower in the morning, Mark generally takes you downstairs with him while he makes coffee and has breakfast, and I get dressed. You tend to be very happy in the morning and usually are content to hang out in the swing or the pack n play while he has breakfast, and while I start pumping. After he is done with breakfast, your dad gives you a bottle while I finish up pumping and eat. Then Mark leaves for work and we're on our own. We spend the morning on the couch, nursing and with you taking short naps. You aren't much interested in toys yet, but you do enjoy music, so we listen to music. I make faces at you and you've started to respond to those sometimes. I hold you, most of the time. I watch TV. I am watching endless TV, running through a whole list of TV series. I suppose that should embarrass me, but it doesn't. After lunch I've been trying to get you to nap. I take you upstairs and nurse you in bed and try to get you to drift off. If you do, you'll sleep an hour or so, and I typically sleep with you, or try to accomplish some small chore. But it is only works about half the time so far. After the nap, we hang out more, watch more TV, nurse about every 90 minutes. When you cat-nap, I catch up online and try to do job application stuff. I've taken a couple of pre-interview calls over the past few days, including one I had to nurse you through to keep you quiet. That felt very sitcom. Mark gets home between 7 and 8, typically, and we have dinner while you lay between us on the couch, or, if you happen to grace us with a little sleep at the right time, eat at the table. If you insist on being held right then, we take turns eating. Some nights, you have a bath--we were doing it in the sink, but just tonight we tried it in the bathtub with me, and you seem to like that a lot better. You hang out with Daddy while I do dishes, take a shower, etc. and he gives you another bottle in the late evening, around the same time I pump again. You usually go to sleep between us on the couch while we talk or watch TV, and we all go to bed together between 11 and 12. The days pass both slowly and quickly--and you change every single day.

I'm sure there are a thousand more things I should be telling you about your first weeks, things I'm forgetting or don't realize I am going to want to look back on, but it is hard to catalogue them on command. There are a hundred moments a day that I wish I could bottle and save. For once in my life, though, I seem to be doing a pretty good job focusing on living in the now and not being overly focused on planning or documenting. Probably that's the way it should be.

Love,

Mama

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Curated Subscription Review: Little Pnuts

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Little Pnuts2.jpg
Photo courtesy of © Peanut Productions.

I'm sure nobody finds my new focus on kid-related curated subscription programs surprising, do you? (Do not despair, though, I'll be posting about how this month's Sample Society box kicked Birchbox's up and down the block soon.) Today, I want to tell you about Little Pnuts. For $25/month (or a single $240 annual payment), Little Pnuts sends four "Special Deliveries" per year. Each box contains 3-5 "sustainably made, ecologically friendly, organic, and naturally made toys." The toy selections are tailored to the age/developmental stage of the child in question, and none of the toys are mass-marketed or battery powered.

The box I was generously gifted from Little Pnuts was the 0-3 month option. The packaging was standard and unremarkable. Inside, I found:

little pnuts box contents.jpg
-Haba Kaleidoscope Pacifier Holder (est. value $14.99)
-Haba Pixies World Car Seat, Stroller, or Crib Decoration (est. value $29.99)
-Sevi Little Fish Wrist or Foot Rattle (est. value $6.99)
-Plan Toys Lady Bug Bead (est. value $11.99)

Total estimated value: $63.96 (85% of total cost)

Every item included in this box was a high quality toy that I'd be happy to let Buzzy play with. They address the developmental milestones the 0-3 month toys are intended to address--motor skills, hearing, and vision. They're well made and from companies I would buy from again in the future. They're also wonderfully gender neutral, which is hard to find, even at the infant stage. It was a very fun box to get, and I think it would be especially fun to get one every three months, each time with new developmentally appropriate toys for the stage Buzzy is in/going into. I think the Little Pnuts service would be a great gift, too--particularly from someone who wants to give a very nice present, but knows little about the current state of toys (great for grandparents, for example).

There is a value issue, at least with the box I got--I could have purchased each of these toys separately for a lower price than the $75 ($25/month for three months) the quarter of Little Pnuts subscription would cost. Rather than being a money-saving subscription program, Little Pnuts is selling convenience and expertise (as is the case with a few of the other higher end subscription programs, such as Lost Crates). While I personally have no issue with that, and I think the service could still be very much worthwhile, it is important to note that Little Pnuts is not a way to get these high-end toys at a discount.

Little Pnuts is probably not a program I'll carry a subscription for--I'd prefer to spend my toy budget on specific pieces that I (and later Buzzy) pick out. However, it is something I'd consider for a gift in the future, and definitely something I would love to be gifted. I think the business model is a good one--it's unlike any of the other subscription services I have seen--and I hope the company succeeds.

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Letter to Buzzy #2: Birth Story

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Dear Buzzy,

Chapter 1: I Am Born

So, your mom is the kind of person who knows that "Chapter 1: I Am Born" is the beginning of David Copperfield, and thus can't help but start out this letter, about your birth, with that quote. However, to be brutally honest, this isn't because I've ever read David Copperfield--it's because it's in Gone With the Wind. Just so we've got that out of the way.

This is your birth story. It may be something you never want to know, but it is something I don't want to forget, so I'm going to write it all down anyway. I smile to picture your young adult face reading this, grimacing at the level of detail you never needed. Suck it up, kid--you only have to read about it. I was there. Well, to be fair, you were there, too, but I'm pretty sure it was easier on you than it was on me.

This begins with the storm. On Friday night, June 29, we had a huge thunder/lightening/wind/rain storm. The biggest one I've ever seen. Your dad and your Grandma Penny and I stood at the windows and watched it for at least half an hour. It was exceptional. Sheet lightening, huge bolts going horizontal across the sky, wind gusts up to 75mph, the works. So, of course, we all made lots of jokes about how I was going to go into labor (you were already four days late) and we wouldn't be able to get to the hospital in time. We kept saying that since your dad is a doctor and Grandma Penny has helped birth calves before, we'd be fine. In reality, though, I was a little bit nervous that our jokes would come true and I would go into labor with you before the storm was over. I was glad to see it start to die down.

But, of course, the electricity went out. Not just at our house, it turns out--at over a million people's houses. The storm was really broad and there was a ton of damage. We didn't know this when we went to bed--we thought the power would be back on by morning and we'd just be in for an overly warm night. We were so, so wrong.

At about 5 AM on Saturday morning I woke up with contractions. The power was still off. At first, I didn't think a whole lot about it--I'd had a few contractions most mornings for a few days and they never amounted to much. When they hadn't died down by about 7:30, though, I started tracking them on my phone and woke up your dad to tell him to take a shower, as I thought this might actually be labor.

Your dad and Grandma Penny and I hung out for several hours before we went to the hospital, timing the contractions until they were less than five minutes apart for an hour. They weren't too bad--definitely distinct, but not too painful. I felt pretty confident that even though I'd had only a few hours sleep on Friday night (the power going out left things pretty hot and uncomfortable), I was totally going to be able to handle this labor thing.
That's about the point where things started to get rough. When we arrived at the hospital, I assumed I would be admitted. However, after being examined by a very rude triage nurse and then the on-call midwife, I was told that my contractions weren't strong enough yet, I was still only 2cm dilated and 70% effaced, and I should go home. I felt terrible. I felt like a hypochondriac who was making up her labor, and nobody with whom I dealt at the hospital did anything to make that feeling any better. It SUCKED. I was furious when we left. Since we knew the power was still out at our rapidly-overheating house (the temperature was about 100 degrees), we decided to go out to lunch and see if things got any more dramatic. I continued to have contractions through lunch, but they didn't ramp up much, so I wasn't sure if I was actually going to go into real labor or not. We headed home.

By about 5 or 6 PM, though, it was clear that things were progressing. The contractions stayed five minutes or so apart, but got a lot stronger and more painful. I took a cool bath, which helped. Then I got nauseated, and eventually started throwing up. I called the midwife and she said to come back to the hospital.

By the time I we got back to the hospital, I was feeling pretty bad. The contractions were bearable, but increasingly intense, and I was throwing up quite a bit. The midwife checked again and I was dilated to 5cm and 90%+ effaced. Go time! They checked us in at around 8 PM.

The next two hours were long and painful. The contractions came faster and harder, and I threw up a lot more. I got into the tub and that helped for a while, but after a while it started to get obvious that I was already too tired and wound up too tight to deal with increased contractions and then transition and pushing without an epidural. I went back and forth about it for quite a while, but by 10 PM or so, I was ready. (Later, your dad told me that if I had continued to refuse the epidural, either he or Grandma Penny would have tried to overrule me, as it was obvious I wasn't going to make it through labor without it.) The midwife checked me again and found that I was at 8cm and nearly 100% effaced, and we ordered the epidural.

While we were waiting for the anesthesiologist to show up, the nurse hooked me up to an IV and started giving me fluids and Zofran for my nausea. I had initially resisted this idea because I didn't want to be tied down to the IV, but it turned out that it was a really good move--the Zofran didn't help the throwing up much, but a few hours later, when several bags of fluids still hadn't produced much of anything from my catheter, it became obvious just how dehydrated I had been.

Getting the epidural was really tough. You have to bend over at the waist, which was excruciating even when I wasn't contracting, and be totally still while the anesthesiologist places it. I am not sure how I did it. I leaned all the way over, with a nurse holding one of my arms and Mark holding the other, and just sort of tried to be unconscious. The anesthesiologist was telling me what was going on, when I would feel the first needle, then the second, and so on, but I didn't really hear or understand him. It was over faster than I had expected, and took effect faster, too. Within a few minutes, the contractions started getting more bearable, and within a half an hour or so, I was barely registering them.

From there, things get a little bit hazy for a while. I know we were in the room, Mark sleeping intermittently, for several hours. My midwife had two other women laboring at the same time, and they were progressing faster than I was, so she barely checked in. Even nurses didn't seem to come by too often. The midwife explained to me that because of the epidural, I could "labor down" meaning wait for quite a while to push. My water hadn't broken yet, either, so we were waiting for that to happen. It was a long holding pattern. I wasn't in pain anymore, but I couldn't sleep, either, and apparently I talked a lot. Mark told me at some point that I had to be the only person on Earth that was made chatty and animated by opiates.

At around midnight or 12:30, the midwife came back in and suggested breaking my water to get things going a little bit faster. I agreed, mostly because I was bored. I had started noticing, by this time, that the mild numbness in my lower body had increased and become, in my left leg, complete numbness. I couldn't even keep my leg on the bed, it kept flopping off the side. This worried me a little bit, as I was vaguely aware that having no lower body control was going to severely limit the positions in which I could push. It should have worried me more.

The next couple of hours were pretty slow. I was told to push my call button if I started to feel pressure. I felt no pressure. I pretty much felt nothing. I started to wonder if anything was ever going to happen. Around 3 AM, a nurse came in and checked me again, and even though I hadn't felt it, she said I was ready to start pushing. As the other two patients had delivered, the midwife came back at that point, and we were ready to start. I really thought it would just take a few minutes, maybe 30 at most. After all, I wasn't in any pain, so how hard could it be?

That was the beginning of the worst part. After the first few pushes, it became clear, at least to me, that things weren't going to go well. I couldn't feel anything below the waist, so I had no idea if I was pushing correctly. I was instructed, over and over, to push "towards your bottom." But I couldn't feel my bottom, so it was a little bit like trying to find a light switch in a very dark room. I fumbled around. Still, I pushed as hard as I could manage, and though I couldn't feel a thing in any of the relevant areas, it didn't take long for the non-relevant bits to start hurting, particularly my face. To top things off, I continued to throw up.

I pushed and pushed and pushed. It was endless, and it was painful, even though it took at least an hour before I started to be able to feel it below the waist. I'm not completely sure how the second hour went, but by the end of it, the nurse and midwife had left for a brief moment, for reasons I didn't think to wonder about at the time. I realize, now, that they were calling the on-call back-up doctor, as they'd been convinced that I wasn't going to be able to deliver without an intervention.

When they came back, the midwife explained that she was concerned about how long it was taking and had called the back-up doctor, who might consider options including forceps or a vacuum. I don't know if I lost it only in my head at that point, or if it actually came out of my mouth, but I was furious. The single out-of-the-ordinary thing on my birth plan was that I did NOT want forceps or a vacuum to be utilized in my delivery. I even wrote on the plan that I understood that intervention might become necessary, and if it did, I wanted a c-section, not a forceps/vacuum delivery. The midwife went on to explain that the on-call doctor was in another procedure, so it would be a while before he could join us.
I don't think I flipped out, but I did tell the midwife, clearly, that I would not consent to forceps or a vacuum, and I did not want a c-section. I was starting to be able to feel more, and I wanted to keep pushing. She didn't seem all that convinced, but didn't see any harm in my continuing to try until the doctor came.

And I pushed for another 30 or 40 minutes, with increasing intensity. I kind of went to another place, where I couldn't hear or see much, and pushed over and over again. I didn't stop at the end of the 10-count every time, or stop with 3 pushes per contraction. All I could think of was every story I've ever heard about a labor that stalls after many, many hours and ends up in an exhaustion c-section. Though I was pretty sure I was breaking blood vessels in my eyes pushing, and I couldn't catch my breath in between pushes anymore, I pushed. And I think maybe I prayed.

Then the midwife stopped me and told me that your heart rate was starting to decel, and that if I was going to birth vaginally, it had to happen immediately. I pushed another round. By this time, even though my legs were still completely numb, I could feel the pushing. I could more than feel it, I thought I was probably being torn in half. A few pushes later, the midwife told me she had to cut an episiotomy so that you could get out. I was barely cognizant of what was going on--all I could think about was that I had to push. I had to get you out. I told her to cut it. I don't know how long it took. I felt it, but it didn't hurt the way I'm sure it would have without the epidural. Then, with the next round of pushing, all at once, it was over. You were out.

The first few minutes of your life, I was consumed by worry that you were not OK. You had swallowed a lot of fluid and you didn't cry much, if at all. I couldn't see the table where you were, since it was surrounded by nurses, and I asked everyone in the room, over and over again, if you were okay. They kept telling me you were, but I thought they were lying. Turns out they weren't--they did have to take you to the nursery for a while and get you checked out, but by a couple of hours after your birth you were declared fit. There were a few more issues later, mostly due to the bruising your labor caused and subsequent jaundice, but that's all another story.

Love,

Your Mom

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Thoughts on breastfeeding and the giveaway bag

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Going into this motherhood thing, breastfeeding was NOT something to which I was looking forward. That's an understatement, actually--I really, really didn't want to do it. However, I believed (and still believe) the research about the benefits of breastfeeding, so I was determined to give it a try. In the back of my mind, though, I expected to have problems and ultimately to have a reason not to do it and to convert to formula feeding.

So far, it hasn't worked out that way. More so than really any other aspect of pregnancy, childbirth, or new parenthood, breastfeeding has gone really, really well. Buzzy emerged fully willing and able to nurse, and he taught me how to do it. My supply is good, and though there was definitely some discomfort in the first couple of weeks, it was nothing compared to the pain I was expecting. So, at this point, my month old baby is exclusively breastfed, and I don't see that changing unless/until circumstances do. I started pumping a couple of weeks ago and he takes a bottle of expressed milk just as well as he takes a breast, so, even when I return to work (and more on that at a later time...), so long as I can pump enough, he should be able to continue with breast milk until he starts solids.

None of this is to say that I enjoy it--I don't. I find it boring and relentless. I dislike being a food source. I dislike not feeling as if I am the primary owner and user of my body. It gives me no warm and fuzzy feelings. But it's bearable.

Even more than was the case before I started actually doing it myself, I've become really aware of all of the rhetoric surrounding breastfeeding. Everybody has an opinion, from those who think that anybody who doesn't breastfeed is abusing her children to those who think that breastfeeding is disgusting. People are really pushy about it, too--in a way that strikes me as completely inappropriate both in regards to a personal parenting decision and in regards to a personal decision about how a woman chooses to utilize her own body.

One thing I heard quite a lot about before going through this experience myself was how awful the formula company giveaways were--these giveaways, I was told several times, were engineered to build dependency on formula and interrupt a given woman and a child's breastfeeding relationship. Having formula around, the logic went, made it much more likely that a given woman would end up not breastfeeding. At some hospitals, I was told, even the giveaway bag for breastfeeding moms would be a not-very-well-disguised attempt to build formula dependence.

(For those who aren't aware of what I am talking about, formula companies routinely sponsor freebies for expecting/new moms, including vouchers for formula and bags of freebies given out by doctors and hospitals.)

The birth center at which I delivered Buzzy had a choice between a "breastfeeding" and a "formula feeding" giveaway bag, both sponsored by Enfamil. Expecting that I would be doing mixed feeding, I chose the breastfeeding bag.

bag outside.jpg

The contents:

bag contents.jpg
-insulated bottle carrying bag
-8-oz can of Enfamil powdered newborn formula
-2 2-oz Snappies containers for collecting and storing expressed breast milk
-reusable ice pack
-single-use sample packet of Boudreaux's Butt Paste diaper rash ointment
-March of Dimes pamphlet with vaccination schedule
-$15 rebate coupon for Enfamil formula
-registration form for Enfamil Family Beginnings program
-informational card about Enfamil bottle nipples
-instructional card on how to use the ice back and bottle bag for formula or expressed breast milk transfer
-"Tips for Breastfeeding Success" booklet, which includes a coupon for Enfamil infant vitamin drops and a $15 rebate coupon for any breast pump

Clearly, the bag is a promotional tool--Enfamil wants you to use their products. If you decide not to breastfeed after all, or if you decide to supplement with formula, they want it to be their formula. Thus the inclusion of the can of newborn formula. However, with that exception, I found the rest of the items in the bag to be really useful for a new breastfeeding mom--assuming that she, like me, will be pumping. The Snappies containers are great, and hard to find for purchase. The ice pack and bottle bag are useful for transport of expressed milk. And the $15 rebate offer on a pump is a great boon. I can't fault any of those inclusions.

It turned out that, at least in Buzzy's first weeks, formula wasn't useful for us. I still have some around, including the can of Enfamil from the bag, and I'm saving all my formula vouchers until I can be sure we aren't going to need to supplement for day care down the road, but having it does not force me to use it, and I can honestly say it hasn't even been a "temptation." For me, this is the heart of the controversy over these bags--whether or not you think offering a free tool that may or may not end up useful presents so much sway over the new mom that it is more harmful than helpful. In my case, I'd say no. However, this bag is not the only thing I received at the hospital--I also got a packet full of breastfeeding information and several meetings with a lactation consultant, heading off any potential problems Buzzy and I were going to have with nursing at the pass. Had that not been the case, or had I had problems anyway, the Enfamil marketing would likely have been a lot more successful. And, given the still fairly low rates of breastfeeding in this country, it probably is successful in a lot of cases.

I'd have preferred if the bag given to women who plan to breastfeed hadn't included formula. If the can of formula were replaced with a tube of nipple cream, for example, I think the bag would have been better. However, judging completely on my personal experience as a new-and-newly-breastfeeding mom, and as someone for whom the idea was extremely frightening and not appealing beforehand, I just can't get all that worked up about formula company freebies standing in the way of breastfeeding. It seems to me that there are much more serious systemic barriers in place--most notably the lack of support for pumping in the workplace and the bizarre and archaic ideas and policies a lot of folks have about nursing in public--and those are what we ought to be concerned about, and fighting against.

Happy World Breastfeeding Week, y'all.

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