Sunday, August 4, 2013

Big Latch On


The Big Latch On is a special event that began in 2010 in Portland, Oregon, and went nationwide in 2011. It is an opportunity for nursing mothers to come together in love and support. It's an opportunity for future mothers to learn about breastfeeding. It's an opportunity for women to share their successes, and talk about their challenges.

Eamon and I have been very privileged to participate every year. When E was seven months old, I found out about the BLO and started looking at events close to us. Then I discovered we would be travelling to Arizona during the event. The closest event listed was over an hour's drive from Tucson, and it was scheduled for the day after our cross country flight, but I figured I would get the details anyway, just in case we wanted to go. A few days before our flight, I double checked the address of the event, and an event had been added in Tucson! We were able to sit and latch at the local mall, less than twenty minutes from where we were staying while on vacation. We met many friends, including a year old baby who was fed donated milk via a supplemental nursing system (SNS). Feeding via SNS for a year is a huge commitment for a mother - what a rock star. We also met a preschooler who refused to nurse at the mall, because "nanas are only for home, mommy."

In 2012, we were planning a road trip to Pennsylvania and Ohio on the date of the Big Latch On. I looked at the map, and realized that there was an event directly on my route from PA to OH. I would just need to get off the interstate and drive around a small town to find the park. Again, we met many interesting mothers. At nineteen months old, Eamon was among the oldest nursling at the event.

In 2013, we would be home, so I started to plan our hour long drive to reach the nearest Big Latch On event. It only took a day or two to realize that my sister, who has a new nursling, wouldn't be able to make that drive, but I really wanted to share the Big Latch On experience with her. Together, we cooked up the idea to host our own event right here in Small Town Virginia. We were very fortunate to have the pieces fall into place, and we were able to host an amazing event. I set my goal pretty high, and was hoping to have a dozen mother/baby dyads latching. When we got our count at 10:31, we had 13! I was so proud of all those mamas, and all those babies. We had one mother who was nursing in public for the first time that day. Again, Eamon was the oldest nursling (now 31 months), but there were two children there around two years old, and several nearing the one year mark. For an area with a pitifully low breastfeeding rate, we did incredibly well!

I don't know if Eamon will still be nursing for next year's event, but I know I will be there to help plan and host. The Big Latch On is an important event, and it deserves our support. Thank you, Big Latch On organizers, for conceiving the idea and seeing it to completion.

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