Walking Instead of Amputation

I usually don't share such personal information to my HUG Your Baby world, but this story is too good to miss!

I had a foot injury as I child but walked, danced, hiked, etc., for decades. About eight years ago I developed severe arthritis in my right ankle and gradually became unable to walk at work, to walk around my house, to stand to cook a meal, or to make home visits with patients. Unwilling to be totally stopped in my tracks, many of you met me over the past few years sharing HUG Your Baby in fourteen countries--on my electric scooter.

After Jim and I returned to the USA, I sought medical advice. Three local physicians here in Durham, North Carolina ("The City of Medicine"), recommended a below-the-knee amputation of my right leg as the best course of action for me. These doctors explained that I would walk better with a prosthesis than I ever could do otherwise. Over the past year I was scheduled for an amputation three different times, but I could not find peace with the decision. After my third cancellation, Jim Googled "alternative to amputation" and discovered the IDEO brace. This brace was invented by Ryan Blanck, an American prosthetist, who had worked with veterans wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The IDEO program was recently opened to civilians. So, this autumn, Jim and I went to the Hanger Clinic in Gig Harbor, Washington, so that I could be fitted for one of these innovative, carbon fiber braces. Within 24 hours I was measured, my custom brace was fabricated, and I went outside to give it a try. Miraculously (it seemed to us) I walked--a 1/2 mile around the building, up a hill, on gravel, down stairs--all pain-free.

Indeed, it has been a miracle.  Every day I wake up feeling grateful and am growing stronger. I enjoy cooking again, shopping for Christmas, and building up my private, home-visiting, lactation/parenting business. I go to the gym regularly and can now comfortably walk 1.5 miles. Jim and I are eager now to make further plans to carry HUG Your Baby out into the world. The IDEO is truly a brilliant idea. It has given me back the life I used to lead!

Here is a link (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGfIMk8BFvw) to the IDEO song that Jim and I wrote to celebrate this amazing brace. My sons, Jonathan (on bass) and Dave (second vocalist), along with Jim (in chorus and production) and other musical friends, made this professional recording of "Our IDEO Song". I asked fellow IDEO wearers to contribute their IDEO photos to create this music video. This song captures the heart-felt joy of this life-changing, and life-enriching experience!

Share "Our IDEO Song" with friends, colleagues and family
to get the word out to those who might benefit!

ILCA and Lamaze/ICEA Love Getting A HUG!

ILCA 2015

ILCA brings together lactation specialists from around the world. This year nearly 300 lactation colleagues took Jan Tedder's new workshop, "Unlatched: When Normal Child Development is Mistaken as a Breastfeeding Problem."

As Jan has traveled and met lactation professionals internationally, she continues to note that the majority of lactation education centers around the issues of breastfeeding initiation, milk production, and early breastfeeding challenges. Though these issues are critical for helping mothers during the first few weeks of their infants' lives, Jan was excited to see how interested these professionals were in how to extend breastfeeding duration by helping mothers understand their child's NORMAL development.

Here's the feedback Jan recently received about her "Unlatched" presentation at ILCA 2015:

Ability to meet learning objectives
98% answered “Effective” or “Very Effective”
95% answered “Very Effective”

Speaker presentation on topic
98% answered “Effective” or “Very Effective”
95% answered “Very Effective”

Usefulness of information to my work
97% answered “Effective” or “Very Effective”
92% answered “Very Effective”

Lamaze/ICEA 2015

It is a great joy to bring HUG Your Baby to experienced professionals. And, it's especially exciting when they say, "I knew THAT; I just didn't know how to explain it to parents!"

This is what we frequently heard after Jan Tedder's presentation, "Unlatched: Breastfeeding Support for Today's Families," at the Lamaze/ICEA 2015 international conference in Las Vegas. Though information is important, USING that information to make practice changes is really what matters. And, more than 150 Lamaze/ICEA colleagues reported that the HUG presentation will change their practices. Yay! (See details below.)

"Broadcasting" a Baby's Behavior in Thailand

The favorite part of our last day of teaching in Bangkok, Thailand was "'broadcasting' a baby's behavior." Today my husband, Jim, and I joined Meena Sobsamai, a midwife and lactation consultant at Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital (photo), for an all-day HUG training. This class had been offered to professionals for the day and to expectant and new parents for the morning. 

Since four pregnant women, and eight parents and babies, participated off and on during the day, I took the opportunity to "See and Share" a baby's behavior with this group of HUG learners. Because some of the babies were older (up to 8 months), I was able to go from baby to baby and "Broadcast" fine motor changes, evidence of attachment (when the baby "references her parent" -  glances back at parent for assurance), the developing sense of object permanence, and subtle indications of early stranger anxiety. 

One might imagine that a family could feel "on the spot" and anxious about their baby's "performance" in a public setting like this. However, I find that "Broadcasting" a child's behavior not only puts parents at ease but also delights them as I share the capabilities of their newborn.

The way parents sparkled when I would "Broadcast" their baby's behavior made the point: using this HUG Strategy is an effective short cut to a trusting relationship with parents. And once that relationship is established, real teaching and support can occur. I think this message got through, even in the translation from English to Thai and back!

Here is a link to online training about HUG Strategies and to another HUG Strategy story not to miss!

"Gaze, then Engage" HUG Strategy

When professionals are first learning about The HUG, it is sometimes difficult for them to imagine how to integrate the HUG Strategies and other resources into their practice. Nurses, doctors and doulas tell me they already have too much to accomplish in too little time! I certainly can appreciate this feeling of being pressed for time; however, as new learners become more comfortable with The HUG Strategies, they may find (as I have) that opportunities frequently arise for applying The HUG in the natural course of a work day. Here is just such a serendipitous HUG moment:

Claire, the medical student spending time at the pediatrics practice where I work, asked me to show her how to swaddle an infant. We practiced on a stuffed animal and talked about effective strategies for supporting an overstimulated infant and the safest way to swaddle: allowing the baby's hips to flex and avoiding overheating. We had just finished this short teaching session, and were walking down the hall, when we saw two-week-old Jason being checked in for a visit, along with his mom and grandmother.

I noticed that Jason was none too happy about being weighed. I “gazed” at mom, whose wrinkled brow and anxious face signaled that she was equally uncomfortable with her new baby lying there, uncovered and fussing. Grandmother wondered aloud how long the staff was going to leave poor Jason exposed in the cool room. The stress on both mother’s and grandmother’s faces told me that now was a good time to implement the “Gaze, then Engage” HUG Strategy. I “engaged” with mom by acknowledging that it is always upsetting to see a baby fuss a few minutes. I then asked her permission to demonstrate swaddling her baby for Claire. Mom agreed, and was eager for me to show her as well. 

As the nurse lifted Jason off the scale and placed him on the measuring table, he showed us an SOS (Sign of Over-Stimulation) from being awakened, undressed, and now a little cold. Mom and grandma watched intently as I "broadcasted" his pale color, furrowed brow and jerky movements, and then "commentated" that these SOSs are one way babies communicate with us, even without crying. I swaddled Jason's upper body in two easy tucks of the blanket and explained the importance of leaving the blanket loosely wrapped around his hips and legs. In the wink of an eye I was able to “broadcast” that Jason was now still; his cheeks were pink; his eyes were wide, and he looked right at my face. 

Everyone smiled in a shared "Ah Hah" moment.  I “commentated” about the changes we all just saw by explaining that some babies need help controlling their motor activity before they can calm down. With a little help, Jason had just moved from the Rebooting Zone to the Ready Zone -- ready to play, ready to eat, or ready to have his check-up. Mom said, "I can’t wait to share this with my husband. I had a C-section, so Jason's dad has been doing most of his care." The experienced nurse looking over my shoulder joined in, "Thanks! I never knew how to do that!"

By applying the strategy of Gaze, Then Engage, in just a couple of minutes, one baby, two family members, and two professionals got The HUG. And Jason, his mom and grandma were all off to the exam room, right on time, for his check-up.

Remember: HUG Your Baby's First Presentation in Japan!

Jan and husband, Jim, at Kagawa
Un School of Nursing
I spent a few hectic weeks corresponding with my colleague, Professor Kimie Tanimoto, from Kagawa School of Nursing, and preparing my first HUG Your Baby presentation in Japan. Hoping for a show of 15 faculty and students, and happy to chat with 10, imagine my surprise when Director of Nursing, Dr. Shimizu, welcomed me and 82 others! 

Professor Kimie Tanimoto
Since faculty from all areas of nursing were invited to my presentation, Kimie had suggested a broader (than just newborns) topic for discussion. Kimie also willingly served as IT expert, logistics director and translator as I, phrase by translated phrase, began “The Nurse as Innovator: HUG Your Baby as One Example of What Nurses Can Do.”

Kagawa Un School of Nursing faculty &
 students get the first HUG in Japan
While discussing the expected steps to reaching a dream (set goals [and write them down], research, take action, share goals and collaborate, evaluate and redesign), I discussed some of the more tender and challenging moments for me in the birth of HUG Your Baby: recognizing and addressing my internal insecurities and resistance, choosing carefully those to share my dream with initially, dealing with failure, committing to small steps even when the goal seems quite unattainable, and being open to discovering new passions and skills in myself. (Who knew I would LOVE to tell stories?!) 

Nursing students from Kagawa
enjoy getting The HUG! 
The obvious language barrier, and a cultural hesitancy to share feedback openly in a group setting, made it difficult for me to access how well (or not) this topic and my style were received. But, the joy of meeting colleagues internationally has inspired me to push myself beyond my comfort zone and to see what the world has to teach me!