Unfiltered Mommy

An honest view of parenting in today's world

Once Upon a Nap Time

Today my two year old decided that she wasn’t taking a nap. Unlike other “no nap days”, I decided not to fight this one. I realize that arguing with her about not taking a nap for two hours makes me more angry and tired, so today I let her skip it. Mistake #1. Now, it is 7pm and I am paying the price.

The only thing I really wanted to do today was take a nap myself. Our 7 month old is teething again  and she woke me up at 4:30 this morning. She nursed for the next two hours, but never really did settle down before our toddler came bounding into our room announcing “I’m AWAKE!!” and joyfully jumped into our bed and snuggled up on the other side of me. There I was, sandwiched in between the two sweetest girls, wishing I could just get a few more winks.

Despite it being Sunday, and the day we were supposed to go on a day trip to celebrate my birthday, my husband was heading into work, which meant that I was on baby duty…again. As nap time came and went, my daughters and I played and cleaned and cleaned and played. Around 3pm, I thought it might be nice to go somewhere. My oldest chose Barnes and Noble. Mistake #2.

My husband was planning to pick up some takeout on the way home. As I sat in the B&N parking lot looking up the menu for the BBQ place, I didn’t notice that my daughter had fallen asleep. I woke her up to see if she still wanted to go in the store. Yup. Mistake #3. She did pretty good in the store, all things considered. That is until it came time to check out and then she was gone.

Yes, I was partially being selfish because we have two baby birthday parties coming up and I needed to get the gifts. I should have just backed out of the parking spot and drove home. Why oh why do we do these things to ourselves against our better judgement? Getting the two gifts was not worth all the screaming and frustration of tonight’s bedtime saga but it sure does feel good to know that it is done.

But in all honesty I fear that this may become our new normal sooner rather than later. I have watched the nap times dwindle on her daily reports from school and I am seeing the time she goes down for naps at home creep later and later.  I still stick to my routine and give it a try every day. Sometimes I am rewarded with a 3 hour nap and other days like today I try to roll with it. I guess it’s all part of them growing up. But damn, I am going to miss that nap!

 

 

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Soaking up that new baby smell

Every day I spend with my 7 month old is filled with joy. I get to see all the “firsts” I missed when I had to go back to work after my oldest was born. I love watching her discover her body and learn new things about the world around her. I love all the sweet, slobbery baby kisses and hearing her screech and squeal with delight.

Since we are not sure whether or not we will add any more children to our family, I am trying to capture every moment and remember that these are the the best days of my life. I already mourn the idea of never being pregnant again. Never again feeling a baby kick inside me and watching my uterus expand each week. It is a truly amazing thing to carry a child in your womb. Pregnancy was not always easy, but I guess I was on the “lucky” end of the spectrum as far as that goes. I didn’t have any major issues and all in all I feel like my body handled it very well.

The other day when I was giving my baby a little squeeze, I couldn’t help but notice how good she smelled. You hear people say it all the time but babies really do smell sweet. Especially breastfed babies. I put my nose in the crook of her neck and as I inhaled I thought about how this experience will soon be over.  I spent the first month of her life cuddling her in my bed and doing skin-to-skin because I knew that this might be the last time I got to cuddle a newborn, my newborn. As I watch her grow from the nourishment she gets from my body, I am humbled and thrilled to have a front row seat to this amazing experience. There is nothing in life that compares to being a mother. But I have to admit, it is bittersweet. As the days pass by, a part of me laments the passing of time. I do not want her to grow up. I do not want to never have another baby and not experience this all over again. I cannot  imagine not loving on an infant like this ever again. Some people bide their time and wait for the baby stage to end. But for me, I wish I could stop time and keep her small forever. Even as I write this and she pulls my hands off the keyboard to discover my wedding ring or to push random keyboard buttons for the first time I’m tearing up.

There are many things that I will miss about the infant stage but one I will surely miss is soaking up that new baby smell as she nuzzles near. She smells like a sweet little slice of heaven.

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Grown Up Tattle Tales

In early childhood we learn to resolve conflicts with our peers by speaking with them directly. We’re told “Stop being a tattle tale!” in hopes that the autonomy will teach us to think for ourselves. So why do constantly find myself wondering when this wonderful life lesson suddenly becomes unlearned?

It seems like many adults forget how to talk to people! Every time I check Facebook or see a news update, there is another post or story about someone who felt it was their civic duty to call the authorities on some unsuspecting parent or pet owner. I get it. I am a mother of two and a pet lover, but I do not feel the need to call the cops every time I see someone who left their dog in the car while they ran in a store for 5 minutes. And while I do not think that leaving young children alone in parked cars is such a great idea, I do see why parents do it in certain circumstances. When you have young kids, a 2 minute errand  can quickly turn into a 30 minute chore. Between emotional outbursts, diapers or toileting, or an umpteen other things that could occur, sometimes you contemplate whether or not unbuckling and rebuckling two carseats so you can run in and grab your pizza is worth the hassle.

And what about when you have a sleeping or sick child in the car? When I see sick kids in cars outside of pharmacies I think, “Poor kid, I am sure his mom/dad is inside getting his prescription.” Not “Hey I’m calling CPS!” Seriously, is it NEVER ok? What are you supposed to do? Is dragging your sick kids through CVS better than letting them rest in the car? I remember being left in my mom’s car once in a parking lot. We didn’t think it was a big deal but we most definitely would have been traumatized if the cops had shown up!

When I hear these stories I feel conflicted. I know that people  are acting out of the goodness of their hearts, and they are clearly concerned for the children’s safety. But I find it disheartening to think that we live in a society in which we are so paranoid  that there is a kidnapper or pedophile lurking around every corner, waiting to snatch a kid away, that we are willing to devalue parents and publicly humiliate them in front of their children. The fact is, the majority of parents out there are making decisions they feel are best for their children. Their decisions are well thought out and based on their own values and are done out of the love for their children. The last thing parents want is to endanger their children and have to live with the guilt of feeling responsible if something were to happen. Just because you may not agree with their choice, doesn’t mean it is wrong. So please, stop helicopter parenting other people’s kids and mind your own damn business.

 

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Raising a Nation of Spoiled Brats

Undoubtedly there are many benefits to waiting until your 30s or 40s to start your family. Being more mature gives us a different perspective on life than younger parents. For me, having had more time to enjoy my freedom and youth allows me to be more present and focused on my children’s needs rather than daydreaming about that summer backpacking tour through Europe or South America that I never got to experience. In fact, I did that, as well as many other things on my bucket list before deciding to start a family.

Another benefit is that when you are more established in your career, you are typically more financially secure and can afford to buy your children things and give them experiences that many children will never have the luxury of knowing. But even having enough disposable income to make their wildest dreams come true, does not mean that we have to give in to every wish and desire.

We all know that parent who just cannot say “no”. Their children have more toys than the average indoor play place, their birthday parties looks like they are pulled straight from Pinterest and their kids are spoiled brats. That’s right. I said it. They are spoiled. While it seems to solve an immediate issue or prevents an uncomfortable situation now, I can assure you that in 10 years, your lax parenting style is going to come back with a vengeance. You have to look at the big picture and ask yourself “What is this going to teach my child?”. If it is going to teach them to whine and cry and pitch a fit until they get their way, and this is not a behavior that you want to reinforce, then do not give in.

Also, it’s ok to discipline your kids and to say “no”. I give you permission to set limits and follow through with consequences. Maybe it is a fear of looking too strict to the other diners in a restaurant, or the other moms in the mommy group but it seems like people are too afraid to actually “parent” nowadays. And I understand why. There is a fear that some passerby will think you are too harsh and threaten to call Child Protective Services or maybe you have sworn to yourself that you will not make the same mistakes your parents made raising you. But do yourself and the rest of society a favor and teach your kids that life is not always fair. Teach them that they are not going to get everything and anything their heart desires and that’s ok. Teach them how to appropriately cope with feelings of disappointment.Teach them about delayed gratification and how earning something means more than getting it “just because”. These lessons will help them later in life.

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For the love of God, please stop telling me what is wrong with the food I eat!

Recently our society has become obsessed with what companies like Monsato are putting into our food supply. While I do like to be informed about things that effect my and my family’s health, I really have to say “ENOUGH ALREADY!!!” Every time I see another post on Facebook about GMOs, GEIs, High Fructose Corn Syrup, or how feeding my kid Kraft Macaroni and Cheese is going to give them ADD, I seriously want to throw my phone through the window. You can’t turn on the TV or look at the internet without someone trying to tell you what is wrong with the food you are eating. Seriously, if I listened to all this nonsense, what would I eat? I’ve already stopped going to Subway because of the yoga mat/tennis shoe rubber in the bread. Can’t eat Taco Bell because of the fact that the meat isn’t really beef. McDonald’s is out of the question for multiple reasons. So I wonder, just what am I supposed to eat on a road trip through Yuma, Arizona?

As if meal planning isn’t difficult enough, I find myself running out of options for food that is socially acceptable to consume. If I have a birthday party for my daughter, I have to cater to all of these neurotic parents who don’t want their kids eating hotdogs, sugar, or processed foods. Now, I’m not talking about people with legitimate allergies or those with religious beliefs. I always have vegetarian options and ask about allergies or other food restrictions when planning a menu. I understand wanting to feed your child healthy food and I agree that teaching them good habits is very important but I this has gotten way out of control. What the outcome of teaching Generation Z to have this type of relationship with food be? Children who are raised with such restrictive diets are more prone to having eating disorders later in life, and I myself will not feed into it. The truth of the matter is this: once kids get old enough to make their own choices, everything you have done up until that point will magically be undone. So why stress so much?

I am not going to stop eating candy or buying Mrs Butterworth’s. I am not going to become a raw vegan, grow all of my own food to avoid pesticides or boycott ConAgra. I find this type of lifestyle to be very paranoid and restrictive. And more than anything else, a huge pain in the ass! I refuse to succumb to the pressure of buying all organic all the time and most importantly, I will not allow my daughters to grow up in a world where they are afraid to eat something because it may not be good for them.

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5 reasons why going to work is easier than staying home

We’ve all heard it. The comment that being a stay-at-home-mom is not a job. And when I  heard it come out of the mouth of a very good, long time friend of mine, I was livid.  It was right around the time that a mutual friend of ours had announced that she was going to quit her j-o-b to be a full-time mom. After knowing her for more than 10 years I had a pretty good idea what kind of mother she was going to be and I was very happy for her. I knew that she would fill her children’s lives with love and invaluable experiences. Her children will grow up polite and cultured, and I am sure that they too will become caring, thoughtful adults just as their parents are.

Our friend, who has chosen not to have children, had a different reaction. His comment really struck a chord with me and rather than argue about it and ruin our friendship, I bit my tongue and artfully changed the topic to a more neutral one.

How could he say that motherhood is not a job? Did he not know how much work goes into raising children and managing a household? Clearly he did not.

I must admit that I have replayed this conversation in my head more than I would like to admit. If you consider a job as being something that you do to earn an income, then I suppose there is some truth to this statement. However there is no doubt that mother’s do an insurmountable amount of work. So I started thinking, what makes my job of being a stay-at-home-mom different from my paid profession as a social worker. What I am doing now is not earning an income, but in all honesty, since resigning from my position, our lives really haven’t changed that much financially speaking. I came up with the following list of reasons why being at home full-time is harder than going to work:

 

1. Set hours. Working a regular 8-5 is predictable. When the shift is done it’s done. You can leave work at work. When you stay home, you are on 24/7. A typical day for me starts at 6:30am and does not end until 8:00pm when the kids are in bed and I am on-call all night.

2. You get breaks. By law here in California we get two 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute (albeit unpaid)  lunch. At home there is no break, you are “on” all the time and I rarely get to use the bathroom without one of two kids watching me.

3. Someone else cooks your lunch and cleans it up. I worked in  a hospital so we had a cafeteria which had surprisingly good food and a very well stocked salad bar. I loved that! Even if you don’t work at a place with a cafeteria, you go out to lunch so there is no planning or clean up. Now I have to dream up delicious, nutritious lunches for myself and my kids each day and clean it up at some point. While this doesn’t seem like it would be difficult, trust me, it can be pretty daunting day after day.

4. You can take a sick day. When you are a stay at home parent, no one cares if you don’t feel good. There is no back up person to call, you just have to suck it up and get through the day.

5. If you get overwhelmed you can ask a coworker for help. At home, you’re alone. There is no one to assist with your workload, you just do the best you can.

Despite all of these things, I still feel that being home with my girls is the best “job” in the world and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Of course, I would love to be able to squeeze in some “me time” every now and again but right now I am trying to drink in every last moment of their innocence and enjoy each stage as I know that it will all be over way too soon.

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Conscious Unscheduling

The other night, when my husband was headed to bed, he asked if I was heading up too. I looked around and saw four loads of laundry that needed to be folded, and despite being overly tired, I just could not let it go one more day. It had already been sitting there for far too long. “Nah.” I said smiling. “This is when the magic happens.” The words flowed out of my mouth so naturally. It was one of the “A-ha moments” for me.  I realized that I was actually excited to watch the latest episode of Mad Men and fold laundry.

The fact is that I get more done in one hour after every one is in bed than I do at any other time of day. One glorious hour of uninterrupted time to buckle down and get shit done.

So thinking about this phenomenon of The Golden Hour got me thinking. Why is it that I always feel like I’m playing catch up? Is there really that much to do, that even being home full-time and having my toddler in preschool two days a week, that I still cannot get everything done? Life in the USA is so busy. There are infinite possibilities of things to do, see and experience. It is truly the place where if you can dream it up, you can find it. While I think this is wonderful, I also think that it complicates things so much that we lose sight of what is really important. We spend our days running errands, researching the coolest new attractions or events to whisk our kids off to rather than staying home, soaking in each precious moment of our children’s formative years.

I grew up in the Mid-West in the 80’s. My mom stayed home and we had one car which my dad took to work everyday. My mom wasn’t constantly running to Kmart or the grocery store. We stayed home and played and explored our environment. We ate every meal at home and we didn’t do things like go to dance class or swimming. We didn’t have weekly playdates or outings to the zoo, the museum or library. Life was simple and beautiful.

Over the past week, I have tried to stay home as much as possible with my girls. It started Wednesday morning when I made a conscious decision to stop stressing about getting my oldest to gymnastics. It was one of those moorings when she just was not cooperating and I found myself getting so stressed just to go have fun. I “leaned out” and decided that it wasn’t worth it. We stayed at the house and played out in her kiddie pool all day and had a wonderful time.  Over the next few days we ventured out only for the essentials like groceries and gas. I pulled things out of the freezer sand got creative with dinner rather than running back out to the store. It felt good. Real good. I have definitely noticed that I am less stressed and my days have been very productive. I plan to keep up this conscious unscheduling so I can be more present and accomplish more things here at home.

What have you done to simplify your schedule/life?

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Becoming a mother

I have always loved children. From the time I was very young I was fascinated by other children and I knew that someday I would be a mother no matter what it took. Both my mother and my maternal grandmother had their first child when they were 28 years old so naturally I set this as a target age for myself to become a mother as well. My parents always told me that I should be married before having kids, to ensure that my husband and I had time to get to know each other and to make sure we were both “ready”. I remember my mother telling me that being married and living together had its own challenges that should be discovered before bringing kids into the mix. Sound advice from a veteran mother.

So around the age of 26, I started talking to my husband about my expectation of having a child by the age of 28. This wasn’t the first time we had discussed having a family, but I wanted to give him enough lead time so he wouldn’t feel pressured or shocked when I “all of a sudden” wanted to get pregnant.

When the time came, and I stopped taking birth control, I had been on the pill for 12 years. I had done quite a bit of research and I knew that it could take my body a few months to be able to conceive, but what I didn’t know was that this was just the beginning of a very long and very emotional journey.

After trying to conceive for a year, we decided to see an infertility doctor. I was only 29, so I was somewhat surprised that we were so much having trouble. We got all the testing done and everything came back normal. They diagnosed us as having “unexplained infertility” and likely having Anovulation. The next step was to try Clomid and trigger injections to help my body produce and release eggs. We did three rounds of Clomid and still no baby. When they told us that the next step was Intrauterine Insemination, we decided that since we were still young, we didn’t feel that it was necessary to use this method quite yet. We decided to take a year off from actively “trying”.

But the psychologist in me started to examine other reasons why it wasn’t working. Was it a mental block? An incertitude about our future. After all, we were in a state of flux. I was embarking on my new career as a medical social worker and my husband was climbing the corporate ladder. We were considering relocating to further my husband’s careers in a six month period, we must’ve researched at least 5 or 6 potential new locations before we settled on San Diego.

Six weeks after moving here, we found out I was pregnant. We were finally going to have a baby! We were so excited we couldn’t wait to tell our parents. A week or so later, we learned that I was having a miscarriage. To say that I was devastated is an understatement. This is one of the lowest lows I have experienced in my lifetime. I was thrust into a deep depression that rendered me bedridden for days. After the storm had passed, I was able to see the silver lining. The fact that I could get pregnant naturally was reassuring.

By this point in the journey,I had read pretty much every book about infertility at my local library and the thing they had in common was that they all recommended acupuncture. I found a practitioner nearby who accepted my insurance and made an appointment. I scheduled weekly visits and took the herbs she prescribed for my diagnosis of Spleen Chi deficiency, and six weeks after my initial treatment, I was pregnant again. This time I carried to term and our beautiful first daughter was born.

I have openly shared our struggle with infertility with others over the years and I have met so many others who have had similar experiences . It seems to be an unexplained epidemic in our generation. If so many of us Gen Xers are having this much trouble, I fear what my own daughters will encounter as they begin down this path.

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Sexy Sweatpants

Since becoming a mother of two I have caught myself thinking or saying things that I never would have said 10 years ago. In fact, no self-respecting fashionista would ever dare to think such things!

Yes, being pregnant is a wonderful. There is no other time in life when we get to watch a miracle happen right before our eyes. The maternity clothing industry has made great strides over the past few years as well. Cute tunics, maternity leggings and snarky t-shirts are all the rage. But what about that postpartum wardrobe? Some women find themselves wearing their ill-fitting maternity garb well after baby’s arrival as they anxiously await the return of their pre-baby bods. For me, the period between about two and six months postpartum is the most difficult.

About a month after my youngest was born I was looking through my assortment of mismatched postpartum wear and heard myself say “I need to go get some sexy sweatpants.” What??? Immediately I stopped myself and thought “Since when are sweatpants sexy?” The answer… NEVER!

OMG! Have I become one of “those” women that thinks wearing sweatpants from Victoria Secret or my comfy pajama bottoms in public is socially acceptable? Hell no I haven’t! I am nowhere near that point yet. But I have to admit, I have run out to the grocery store to grab a few times in my not so flattering lounge pants. But the thought of going out on a mission to buy “sexy sweatpants” was a harsh wake up call. Ok ok, I must cut myself some slack. I DID just have a baby a few months ago and I am very proud of how well I am managing things this time around. I am showering regularly and brush my teeth every morning. I am definitely getting better at this but if I am thinking that I should buy some new sweatpants to replace my uncool sweatpants, then clearly I still have quite a way to go.

The fact of the matter is that right now comfort is king. I typically wear yoga pants and a nursing tank every day but put on jeans when I need to leave the house. I only have 3 pairs of jeans that fit right now. My “fat pants”(ya know, the ones you buy 2 sizes bigger so you can have something to wear until you can lose some of that baby weight?). A pair of skinny jeans that is one size bigger (aka my going out jeans) and a pair of my favorite casual jeans that must run a wee bit bigger than all my other jeans. Other than this I live in sweatpants and yoga pants.

Here in So Cal, wearing yoga pants, especially high-end brands like Lululemon is a trend all its own. I myself, have not embraced this trend as I am not ok with wearing my sweats or workout gear out and about on a daily basis. If I am going to or coming from the gym or yoga, that is a different story. So what is a girl to do at this stage? What can we wear to not look frumpy dumpy yet not look like we squeezed ourselves into jeans that are two sizes too small? I hardly want to go shell out a bunch of money on pants that I will only wear for the next couple of months. Luckily summer is around the corner so I guess maxi dresses and skirts are the way to go.

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It’s a boob! Get over it!

I’ve never understood, nor will I ever understand why some people have a problem with seeing a mother nurse her infant. Can it really be true that breasts have been so over sexualized here in the good ol’ US of A that people forget that humans are mammals? Or maybe they forgot that one of the things that make mammals, mammals, is the ability to lactate. Or perhaps it’s the fact that breasts are the mechanism in which said milk reaches a young nursling that eludes them. What ever the reason, it infuriates me.

Some say that they are trying to protect their kids. Protect them from what? Finding out that our amazing bodies were designed not only to create a life to but to provide all the necessary nourishment it requires to grow? I find this excuse extremely absurd. If a child sees a nursing mother it is an opportunity to teach them this as well as for them to see that we too are members of the Wild Kingdom. I love how people try so hard to convince themselves that we are so “civilized”. Like breastfeeding is so beneath them. I say get over yourself. Would you really rather teach our youth that feeding an infant a chemical concoction that is chock full of fat and sugar and made in a laboratory somewhere is better than mother’s milk?

Now I can see people requesting that nursing mother’s cover-up. While I personally don’t agree with this either, I can comply with this request. And for my own personal modesty, I chose to cover myself while I am nursing. But it is my own personal preference to do so. There are occasions when I either forget my nursing cover, don’t use it because it is inconvenient or too hot for my baby under there, but these instances are few and far between. And more often than not, if I have qualms about nursing in public without my cover or prefer not to use it, I usually make my way to a more private place where I can let it all hang out like a dressing room or my car. But again this is because this is my choice and not because I am ashamed of breastfeeding or because I don’t want to offend anyone. If I need to whip out my boob and feed my baby “RIGHT NOW!” believe me I will. And watch out for the angry mama bear if you chose to say something to me because I will not try to spare your feelings just as you have not held back when you decided to share your opinion with me. And really, it’s a boob. Get over it!

I know that some moms don’t use covers for various reasons and I support them in that. It helps pave the way for all of us when these women are so open and comfortable with their bodies.  It empowers me to be a little bit more bold the next time I am questioning myself, and gives me hope that someday our society will once again support breastfeeding just as it previous generations did.

I remember about three years ago when a friend of mine in Germany had a baby and I sent her a gift. One of the things I got her was a nursing cover. She didn’t even know what it was so my husband explained it to her and she said “Why would you need that?” Silly me. I should have known better. In Germany, breastfeeding is the cultural norm. Nursing mothers are not shamed, escorted out of buildings or told to feed their children in bathrooms. But of course this is what you would expect from a country that gives working mothers the first full year off of work to care for their child and a second year if they so desire, where sidewalks accommodate strollers, and every citizen has health insurance.

This week I read a Facebook post where a woman was nursing her child in the locker room of a gym to calm him down. Apparently another female gym-goer was offended and reported “the incident” to the gym staff. The manager of the gym told the woman that she was not allowed to nurse her child there and explained that she could go to the restroom off of the childcare area. She was then escorted out of the locker room. She felt humiliated. This just happened here, this week. Here in liberal, progressive Southern California. I was deeply saddened and appalled by her story. This was a gym near my house. A gym that my husband and I are also members of. Being a nursing mother myself, I immediately contacted the woman and told her that I will support her in any way I can. After all, it very well could have been me in the locker room that day trying to calm my 4-month old. I can’t believe that things like this happen every day even though the State of California law 43-53 Section 43.3 clearly states:

 Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, except the private home or residence of another, where the mother and the child are otherwise authorized to be present.

Sadly, this is not the first instance of a breastfeeding mother that I know of being discriminated against here in the San Diego area. Just a few months ago, the child of another woman I know personally was excluded from group presentations after his mother was seen breastfeeding at a school event.

Hopefully, with the help of social media to help spread the word and ignite a rage in those who feel strongly enough to speak up on this issue, we will see some change in the way our society views this natural exchange between a mother and child.

For more information on California Law 43-53: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/HealthInfo/healthyliving/childfamily/Pages/CaliforniaLawsRelatedtoBreastfeeding.aspx#breastfeedingrights

If you feel that your right to breasted in public have been violated or would like more information about your right to nurse in public, contact the San Diego Nursing In Public Task Force  at http://sdbfc.com/yourrights/

 

 

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