Thursday, January 6, 2011

It's Been Great But TLB is Moving On

Blogger and I have had a long and beautiful friendship, after my days bogging in Xanga, blogger was like a breath of fresh air.  It's been great but I'm moving on.  I've finally made the jump and from now on will be using for all my blog posts moving forward.  It's still under construction and I am excited about some of the plans for the website.  All the posts from here have been moved to the website so you can still find all your favorite old posts.  This has been in the works for some time now and I'd been planning to move it for the New Year.  Excited it's finally happening and I owe a huge thank you to Chuck and Sheri from Road Trips For Families for helping me make the move and dealing with my complete ineptitude with all things technical.  Please bookmark the new site, subscribe to the feedburner or google reader and visit the website often.

Thank you!


Monday, January 3, 2011

The Email From Facebook

"Your Page "The Leaky B@@b" has been removed for violating our Terms of Use. A Facebook Page is a distinct presence used solely for business or promotional purposes. Among other things, Pages that are hateful, threatening, or obscene are not allowed. We also take down Pages that attack an individual or group, or that are set up by an unauthorized individual. If your Page was removed for any of the above reasons, it will not be reinstated. Continued misuse of Facebook's features could result in the permanent loss of your account."

Well, that clears everything right up, doesn't it?

Why TLB on Facebook and What You Can Do To Help

Better late than never.  I'm hoping this is true because I'm showing up late to my own party.  After my little fairytale land came crashing down I had to stay and be active in the real world, the one where I'm mommy, wife, daughter-in-law, cradle, food, cook, etc.  The plans for the day would go on and online drama would have to wait for later.

I've been grateful that for quite a while now The Leaky Boob Facebook page has been flying safely under the radar.  Not getting attention was a good thing, it helped keep TLB a safe place, a place where the community of "Leakies" as we called ourselves was free to carry on encouraging and supporting breastfeeding.  Rarely did I worry about something happening to our page.  If something did happen we already had created The Leaky Boob Forums as a protected space for conversation and sharing photos without fear of them being deleted.  It wasn't that I was unaware that Facebook deleted breastfeeding photos and whole accounts over breastfeeding images, I just hoped that we were a quiet enough group that nobody would notice or have any reason to cause trouble.

People don't always have to have a reason.  Or at least, not one I can understand.

It has been pointed out a few times that Facebook can't be trusted as a safe place for forum type communities and with good reason, they can indeed delete things all willy-nilly and without warning.  Which is exactly what happened.  So why build a community on Facebook when we risk having it all taken away?

Simply put: because the community built itself.  Though we created the space for protected forums they didn't grow at the rate the Facebook community did.  The culture founded itself on Facebook and there were many reasons for it to continue there in spite of the precarious nature of the site.  Facebook is easy to use.  The simple layout made skimming for new posts a cinch.  The accessibility to the site from mobile devices such as phones and iPods allowed people that didn't have regular access to a computer access to the community.  The ability to visit the page without going to another website or dealing with additional log-in helped it stay fast-paced and casual.  Posts being updated in newsfeeds permitted followers to stay in touch without constantly having to keep up with multiple posts.

My plans for TLB were simple from the beginning: support breastfeeding women and the people that support them.  Have fun.  Be real.  Communicate respectfully.  Share information.  Swap stories.  Encourage moms and families.  Tolerance.  As long as I felt those things were happening I didn't see a need to change much.

But one of the biggest reasons we stayed on Facebook was that I couldn't have moved it if I wanted to.  The Leakies were settled and happy.  I loved knowing that right there in the middle of a mainstream social networking site was growing a community of breastfeeding supporters.  Better yet, this helped connect moms of all styles, be they crunchy, mainstream, attachment-parents, traditional, homeschoolers, public-schoolers, Christian, Pagan, Atheist, European, SAHM, WOHM, old, young, first-time, seventh-time, currently lactating, hasn't lactated in 25 years, not-yet-a-mom, single, married, and on and on around one common piece of parenting: breastfeeding.  People that would have never joined a breastfeeding forum could easily "like" a Facebook page and find out that breastfeeding wasn't just for "crazy hippie types" or just for "stay-at-home-moms" or just for the type-A "have it all together types" or just for whatever type they thought excluded them.  Moms that would have been intimidated in many settings to say "I only want to breastfeed for 6 weeks" could read through posts without ever having to sign-up or create an account.  Unfolding conversations invited participants and lurkers alike to experience the normal ups and downs, funny and sad, tender and strange moments of breastfeeding.  To see breastfeeding as normal.

It is for all those reasons that I think it's worth getting the original The Leaky Boob page back on Facebook.  Sure, it's risky and there's a chance we'll experience trouble again.  So what.  I've had mastitis twice in the last 4 months, I'm still breastfeeding.  Because it's totally worth it.  To me this is worth it too.  Reaching and encouraging moms right where they are.

What can you do?  Plenty.

Join the petition. For starters you can join the Bring Back The Leaky Boob Facebook page and you can share it with all your friends and then some.  In less than 24 hours it grew to over 5,000 "likes" and there is strength in numbers.  Information will be shared in real time on that page so please be sure to follow what's going on there.

Let Mark Zuckerberg know.  I have no idea if this will make any difference at all but reading the comments on Mark Zuckerberg's fan page, all 281 of them, are so encouraging.  Leave one if you'd like, if nothing else it's just another place where we say we want TLB back and why.

Blog about it.  Posts started rolling out early in support of The Leaky Boob and protesting Facebook's removal of our page.  Long before I got around to writing anything and while I was eating ginger chicken with the family the blog world was buzzing with the news.  I'm hoping to read each and every post too.  At the end of this post will be a list of blog posts related to the removal of The Leaky Boob's Facebook page.  Check them out and thank the writers for the Leaky support.

Email. Respectful emails to Facebook to let them know you would like to see The Leaky Boob Facebook page brought back.  Please take time to craft your emails with respect.  Angry or hateful messages with name-calling are easily dismissed.  Level-headed, calm but persistent messages are harder to ignore.  Let's show breastfeeding moms and breastfeeding supporters as a collected, educated group and blow apart the stereotype of hormonal outraged women.  (Even if that's how you feel.)  You can try the Facebook help center though I've had little success through that avenue.  The new email address for appeals has already gotten me a response and you can try any of these as well with info, disabled, appeals, privacy, abuse, warning, customerservice. Huge thanks to Star for finding those addresses.

Continue supporting breastfeeding. There are lots of pages on Facebook and people on Twitter that support breastfeeding, encouraging and educating on the subject.  Let's not forget the real mission, encouraging breastfeeding moms whether they breastfeed for a week, a month, a year or 3 years.  What really makes a difference is support; a breastfeeding mom with a community behind her is a breastfeeding mom with a future success story no matter how it turns out.  People are posting on the Bring Back The Leaky Boob page looking for BFing help as well as on TLB SupportBest for Babes, Nursing Freedom, Dispelling Breastfeeding Myths, Nurture Child, Blacktating Blog, TLB sponsors PumpEase, Motherlove Herbal, The Shower Hug, and lots, lots, lots more.  And support in real life ways too, support groups, mom-to-mom and by breastfeeding in public if your lactating and comfortable with NIP (Nursing In Public) and if you're not then giving an encouraging smile to any mom you do happen to see NIP.

Media. This isn't the first time Facebook has deleted breastfeeding related pages and accounts.  They've done it before.  Yet they leave plenty of other pages that have been flagged and reported for being truly obscene.  So what's the deal?  If you want to know maybe it's time we take it to the media, maybe they can help us get some answers.  When Guggie Daly's account was removed for allegedly violating the TOS with breastfeeding photos the media got wind of it and held Facebook accountable.  Guggies account was reinstated shortly after.  And when Kate Hansen and Emma Kwasnica had their accounts deleted in separate incidents Facebook reactivated their accounts when the press started poking around.  They even claim it happens on accident.  Anyone else have one eyebrow involuntarily shoot up at that suggestion?  What gives?  How do they keep accidentally deleting accounts related to breastfeeding?  And will they ever learn?  You can call or email your local media outlets and let them know that it appears Facebook is discriminating against women, specifically breastfeeding moms.

Comment and share.  Asking for comments makes me uncomfortable but having the interaction in an easier to find place such as the blog is helpful, particularly right now.  It would be great to point to the blog and show the support present in the comments.  Whether it is on this or other posts, it would mean a lot to me if you showed your support by leaving comments relating to the post you comment on.  Then share any posts from here on the blog that speak to you in some way.  Old or new, spread the word as a demonstration of our community being alive and well.  Let's get the words The Leaky Boob all over Facebook in a way they can't just hide with a click of a button.  And twitter too.  Which reminds me, you can find me tweeting at TheLeakyBoob.

Breastfeed.  I don't yet have links to share but you can find information on the Bring Back The Leaky Boob page.  If you're a breastfeeding mom and would feel empowered by joining other women in a nurse-in, there are some being organized.  Be looking for details and I'll share what I know when I know it.

Read and share the articles.  Check out the posts here and the blogs listed below.  Read and comment and then share those links on Facebook, Twitter, the forums you frequent, etc.  Traffic, comments, and pure volume helps get attention and social pressure is really all we have to help make some change.

Thank you for all the support.  The Leaky Boob has made a difference for many women by having a presence on Facebook.  Even if we made a difference for just one woman I would still fight to be there.

List of blogs that have written about TLB and Facebook.  This list will be added to and updated, it is a work in progress.  If you would like to add your blog to this list please post in the comments below.  Thank you!

Hey, hey, ho, ho... Why Facebook (might) have to go... by Car StarRod
Facebook's Contribution to the Declining Health of Society by Nurtured Child
Facebook Deletes Leaky Boob Support Group for Breastfeeding Moms by Dagmar Bleasdale
Breastfeeding Is About As Sexy As Eating A Salad by Confessions of an Earthy Young Mom
My Leaky Heart by Confessions of an Earthy Young Mom
Breastfeeding: A crime punishable by social ostracism... you decide! by Prolixity2
Bring Back The Leaky Boob by Attached At the Nip (isn't that a clever name?!)
Really Facebook? by Adventures in Mommyhood (great minds think alike, I was thinking this same title for a bit)
Boobtastic Media Storm by Michelle Tant
Monday Giveaway Awesomeness by Not Just Mom
Facebook and Twisted Sensibilities by Village Wise Woman
Breastfeeding Support Under Attack by Mummies Nummies
Help The Leaky Boob by MommaKt
Dude, Where's My Leaky B@@b? by Rockin' Momma
Why Does Facebook Hate Breastfeeding by Embrace The Chaos, MSNca Lifestyle
Bring Back The Leaky B@@b by The Good Letdown
Facebook Deletes Breastfeeding Support Group 'The Leaky B@@b' by Christie Haskell at The Stir

Thanks to all you fantastic bloggers for your support.  I am honored to be a part of such a large, global community that supports women and families.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Leaky Strong- A Fairytale

Once upon a time there was a quiet but active little community of like-minded people.  That weren't all exactly alike and they didn't agree on everything but at their core they were all united.  This community worked hard to keep things encouraging, supportive and safe for all.  Family minded, the people loved to share stories and pictures of their children growing strong and celebrated even the smallest victory together.  They had a pretty good funny bone and loved laughter but were always honest about the challenges and struggles they faced.  If someone needed to cry they could always find a caring shoulder and a fresh hankie.  It was tight knit but welcoming to newcomers.  As long as everyone could abide by the agreed upon guidelines of respectful dialogue, friendly encouragement, no name-calling or belittling, and give kind, honest support this peaceful community would flourish as a safe haven for many.  Occasionally they would be set upon by trolls, mean creatures that liked to taunt and mock the citizens of the community by poking sticks at them but they were usually ignored and when bored they'd move on to another community to heckle.  Occasionally the community would attract wolves with an evil glint in their eyes, stalking their victims seeking tastes of something forbidden but the people would rally and banish the wolves restoring safety to the land.  And so it was the community was safe, cherished and loved by many, growing in number and wisdom.

Until one morning they woke up and the lord of the land totally wiped out the entire structure of the community.  It was gone.  At first confused and hurt the scattered members searched for their beloved space but alas, it seemed to have vanished. 

Sound like a fairytale?  It very nearly is.

This morning I woke to what I knew would be a very busy day with my father-in-law visiting, lunch out and tentative plans for a family outing.  Planning on going to church I got breakfast rolling, kids dressed, jumped in the shower, changed a diaper of epic proportions and managed to get out of my bathrobe and fairly decently dressed all before sitting to breastfeed Smunchie for the morning.  I noticed a text on my phone and after settling in to nurse and check Facebook, Twitter and emails I opened the text.  Distracted by the fact that The Leaky Boob Facebook page wouldn't load but kept directing me to my newsfeed I clicked my profile and checked the text from The Piano Man.  I puzzled at his text "OMG!!! TLB facebook!" before a sinking feeling hit me.  Looking at my profile there was a post from a regular Leaky (what we call the TLB Facebook "likers") asking where the page was.  Just below that post was one from Jessi, the girl that had originally helped me set-up The Leaky Boob Facebook page: "eep, looks like someone reported TLB.  I just got a message it was removed for violation of TOS."  Just to be sure I tried to get there 1 more time.  Nothing.

Facebook messages, emails, Twitter and TLB forum posts had already begun pouring in before I was even up for the day it turns out.  From around the world Leakies started rallying.  As one put it "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" and Facebook just scorned close to 5,000 not to mention all those that will catch wind of this that weren't already a part of The Leaky Boob.

I'm not going to lie, honesty is something valued around TLB, I sat on my couch and cried.  Not a typical response for me but I wasn't crying for myself.  So many women found woman to woman support, support from her equals that have walked in her shoes and now that place was gone.  A treasure trove of wisdom that empowered her as a mother.  Now this community had it's space taken away.  So I cried for our community.  Then I got my cup of coffee, started reading emails, approving forum registrations and reading the flood of support I slowly grew strong.  Leaky strong.

Laura, a steadfast Leaky in Ireland had already set-up a Bring Back The Leaky Boob page in protest and it grew to over 4,000 in less than 16 hours.  Leakies posted on Mark Zuckerberg's discussion board, asking him to go after truly offensive pages and reinstate TLB. Other parenting and breastfeeding support pages such as Best for Babes, Nursing Freedom, Dispelling Breastfeeding Myths, Bella Luna Toys, Hip Mountain Mama, Accustomed Chaos, Nurtured Child, Job Description Mommy, Wild Mother Arts, The Mandala Journey,, Elegant Mommy, Near Mama's Heart, Just West of Crunchy, and so, so, so many more posted in an outcry of support.  I'm sure I missed some favorites but the response was HUGE!

I think our fairytale space will be restored, though we don't have an actual ending yet.  I don't believe in endings anyway, just a continuation of the journey.  As we unite together (there's a TLB Support page too, a temporary space for ongoing breastfeeding and parenting support) and show not only Facebook but the world what community and support means to us we can make a difference.  Not surprisingly I have a lot of thoughts on all this but here I just wanted to share the story of what happened to The Leaky Boob space on Facebook.  Thank you everyone that has shown support, we are Leaky strong.

Friday, December 31, 2010

This Moment- Playing On the Farm

{this moment} - A Friday ritual from Soule Mama, one of my favorite bloggers. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

To My Nursling On Your First Birthday

Smunchie, 5 weeks old,
photograph by Jack Potts

Dear Smunchie,

My darling, sweet girl, I love you.  My chest tightens when I think of you as though I'm going to burst apart so great is the love I have for you.  It is overwhelming and surprising for I have that same sensation when I think of each of your four big sisters and yet there was more than enough room for you in my heart and our home.  You have filled that space well.  In our house you are a rock star, we flock to you in hopes of a smile bestowed upon us, striving to extract one of your ever-ready giggles like a tiny nugget of gold to be cherished as a prized possession.

Smunchie, 12.28.09

Today we celebrate you and quietly I will also be celebrating me, us.  Your birth was beautiful, hard but beautiful.  A challenging labor on both of us with a difficult presentation (your poor face!) we had to work hard to birth you and you were bruised from the effort.  It has been a year since I sang through contractions, a year since I pushed you out of my body on my bed, a year since I first saw your face, touched your cheek, kissed your head, breathed your scent, gave you my breast.  So much has happened in this first year and yet I feel as though I merely blinked and here we are.  Together and with your daddy and sisters we have encountered moments of ecstatic joy, wonder, discovery, fear, uncertainty, frustration, tenderness, energy, curiosity, and love.  It has been a good year and I feel honored to not only have shared it with you but to be the one you turned to for comfort, nourishment, and sustenance along the way.  And to be the one to make you laugh the most.

On her way out, Smunchie's head, my hands, 12.28.09
photograph by Linda Dybala

Not only do we celebrate the first year of your life outside the womb and all the many milestones that entails but I celebrate us making it to the first year of breastfeeding.  We were not without our hurdles.  Jaundice, heart troubles, lost weight, no weight gain, terrible latch, bloody nipples, sleepy baby, doctor visits, chest x-rays, EKGs, monitors, and pumping, I wondered if we would make it.  I didn't expect these challenges, I considered myself an old pro at breastfeeding but as it turned out I hired a Lactation Consultant for the first time for me personally with you, my 5th baby.  With the help of your daddy, our midwives, our pediatrician and some friends we made it though and finally my nipples healed, your latch improved and you got back to your birth weight and kept growing, you heart and body getting stronger every day.  We did that, you and I, we made it.  Not every mother gets this, it doesn't always work out, I'm one of the lucky ones.

You amazed me the first time you really went in search of the breast, before we knew something was amiss you already knew what you needed.  Surprisingly strong and determined you went after my breast with gusto and a perfect latch.  Though difficulties developed shortly after that I saw a glimpse into your personality during that feeding and admired you greatly even then.  It is this personality along with the prayers and help of others that got you through when the going got rough.

Smunchie's first breastfeeding photo

In spite of a rocky start we settled in to a special breastfeeding relationship after about the 12 week mark.  A relationship I treasured just a bit more because of it's tenuous start.  There were times, bare chest to bare chest when I would feel your tiny heart beat against me while you suckled and I would breath just a little bit easier for that moment knowing we were doing the very best we could for you and it was working.  Days turned into weeks and you began smiling back at me as you stared up into my eyes while you were feeding.  Then came your little hand reaching for my face and if it wasn't already established, I was hooked.

I'm still hooked and will be forever.  These breastfeeding days are short in the grand scheme of your life but they are precious to me.  This time where I am your world, your favorite person, your comfort and your favorite nutrition will move along quickly.  I do my best to hold on to them but I know that all I can really do is enjoy them while they last.  Because just as you will grow up developing more of that amazing personality you have so these breastfeeding days will grow into bigger and better things for you someday.

But not any time soon, we've got a while yet.

Your name is fitting to you already, Cosette Marguerite Constance.  You are the constant flower of the victorious people; strong yet delicate, beautiful yet steadfast, victorious yet blooming.  To me you're also Smunchie, my cuddly small one ready to munch, my smunchkin.  I love you with a love bigger than I can begin to understand.  Happy Birthday my little nursling.

Much love,

Mommy (AKA Boobies)

Smunchie 12.21.10.

Friday, December 24, 2010

This Moment- For the Love of Sisters

{this moment} - A Friday ritual from Soule Mama, one of my favorite bloggers. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

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