Normally, I fly in on a Thursday so that I have time to get settled. For this particular location, I felt that it was important to consider the needs of my family first. I made arrangements to change my flight to leave on Friday morning instead because on Thursday, July 27th, was the first day of (year round) school for my first and third graders! I am glad that I prioritized this day because the first day of school was a MESS. I ended up waiting almost two hours to get my kids into a classroom. I was able to fly out the following day with complete peace of mind. 🙂
I arrived in New Orleans on Friday afternoon. My flight landed an hour late and it completely threw off our schedule. I headed to baggage claim to gather my things. When I contacted my host, she was in transit, but stuck in Friday-night traffic. That was about three hours away! I made myself comfortable in the airport restroom! I painted my toenails, styled my locs, freshened up, and even put on a pretty dress – all the things I NEVER have time to do when I am home with my kids. I really needed that. Every mom deserves that time to pamper herself and, unfortunately, not many of us ever get that time alone.
Due to the change in schedules we had to cancel dinner that we planned some local breastfeeding advocates in Baton Rouge. It was unfortunate and I was definitely looking forward to connecting with them, but these kinds of things happen on tour. My host Adrienne is the Chairperson of Community Outreach for the Capital Area Breastfeeding Alliance. When she arrived with her three children, I was so excited to finally meet her in person. She is also the administrator for the Baton Rouge chapter of NormalizeBreastfeeding.org. This location was in planning for quite some time!
We spent the time during the drive back to her house talking about the state of breastfeeding in Louisiana, which ranked 50th state by state in regards to breastfeeding rates past six months of age, according to the CDC Breastfeeding Report Card from 2011. We made it home, had a lovely dinner, and settled in for the night. I received word, soon afterwards, that one of our participants was unable to attend because he baby was under the weather. Sadly, it was too short of notice to find another family to fill her spot.
We had a delicious breakfast the next morning. There was a lot of event preparation in the morning while we waited for #NBFshirt shipment to come in. Then it was about an hour drive into New Orleans. About ten minutes into our ride, Adrienne’s youngest was upset because she was tired. Adrienne had pumped some milk that morning just in case her daughter didn’t nap before we got into the car. I had the opportunity to document her daughter from the back seat. It was so interesting to watch her transition from upset to ecstatic when mama passed the fresh milk to her in the midst of her breakdown. Sometimes, breastfeeding looks like this!
Although the time was on our side, the weather was not! The humidity alone was enough to make me want to go straight back to the airport! Shortly after arriving at the meeting place, The Morning Call Coffee Stand, we all started to feel the extreme heat. We walked to our first location and unfortunately we were all covered in sweat after only five minutes of walking. One of the participants decided to leave before we got started because her daughter was over stimulated by the heat. It was a small, intimate, setting in New Orleans with classic view of moss hanging from the tree. Louisiana mamas ARE breastfeeding!
When we finished up with the first round of photographs, we went back to Morning Call (as our rest stop) for cold water and to rest in the air conditioning for a bit. Then we headed over to a nearby streetcar stop to finish up the photos on the walk. Another mama left because her baby started throwing up her milk because of the heat. While finishing up on the walk another mama decided to head back to the Morning Call to wait for her chance to be photographed indoors. The heat was absolutely unbearable!
Sunday, we woke up and hit the ground running with Adrienne’s mini session right in front of her house. The light was gorgeous! We could not have picked a better time for her mini session.
A family private session immediately followed our morning mini session and it was about an hour drive away. This mama’s tire went out on her way to our meeting place and it needed to be switched to the spare! Luckily, her husband got them back on the road in no time. We met at the Southeastern Louisiana University as the temperatures began to rise to capture her family at the Friendship Oak. Afterwards we went to get the tire replaced, grabbed lunch, and headed to the airport! It was such a lovely time, especially getting to know this beautiful family.
After about 2 weeks at home, we had our follow up appointment (after several weight checks and other appointments) it was recommended to supplement with formula due to his higher bilirubin results. Unfortunately, within a few days of supplementing, our little boy stopped latching to the breast and our breastfeeding journey was over. I wanted to cry my eyes out. The only thing I wanted to do was be the source of nutrition for my little boy that we were so blessed to have. After almost 2 1/2 years had passed and I had almost finished nursing school, we found out we were expecting again! My chance to do things my way!! I begged for a trial of labor, to be able to try for a natural birth. That was quickly denied due to complications during pregnancy. If I couldn’t have that I then I had nothing was my mindset. We packed our bags and went to the hospital for our scheduled c-section.
Thank you NOLA mamas for nursing in public and helping to normalize breastfeeding!
Special thanks to all of the #NBFtour collaborators for helping to make this tour great!
SPONSORS: Sarah Carp, 1st grade Teacher (3) Kristyna Cleek, Studying for IBLCE (1) Greater New Orleans Breastfeeding Awareness Coalition (1) Nurse Nikki, LLC (1) The Badass Breastfeeder (2) Human Milk News (1)