By Karen Jameson, R.N., M.Ed
When my husband and I became parents 23 years ago, we quickly learned that parenting is no simple matter and many choices had to be made on how we were planning to raise our baby. Disposable or cloth diapers? Stay at home or daycare? Enforce a sleep schedule or not? Breast feeding or formula feeding? We also quickly learned that no matter what decision we made someone would weigh in that we were wrong!
I’m not sure how we made it, maybe because we were on the same page when it came to all the major decisions, and we were able to present a unified front when faced with criticism, but somehow we managed to raise not one but three children!
We chose to breastfeed, and my first was an easy baby to nurse. He was always hungry and latched well. He gained weight like a champ. But I had been told in the hospital to feed on one side for 15 minutes and then switch sides and feed another 15 minutes. My baby wouldn’t do that, he would latch on and feed the entire time on one side, no switching for him.
Despite his fantastic weight gain, I felt like a failure. I remember the midwife calling me at 6 months to check in and asked if I was still breastfeeding. I told her I was but then guiltily blurted out “but I’m doing it all wrong!”
She asked me to elaborate and I told her how I was feeding. She laughed and said, “You’ve just discovered the way the rest of the world breastfeeds, only the U.S. suggests feeding both side each feeding.”
I can clearly remember my sense of relief that I wasn’t a “failure.” In addition to gaining experience as a parent, I also work at TLC as a nurse educator. I attended training to become a certified lactation counselor 14 years ago, after which I began offering lactation support to any women in Sullivan County through TLC.
Armed with my own personal experiences, I am determined to do my best to reassure and soothe new parents as they seek breastfeeding help. Perhaps a family wants to pump and feed in a bottle? Maybe they want to do a combination of breastmilk and formula, or they are clear from the start that they have no interest in breastfeeding and choose formula.
I see infant feeding as a very personal choice and even when asked the question, “What is best?” I will turn it back and say, “What is best for YOU?” I am happy to answer questions about the benefits of breastmilk, and tell families that if they want to breastfeed I will do everything I can to support them, but I will never make anyone feel like they are not a good parent because they are unwilling or able to breastfeed.
By Liza Draper
“The Laramie Project is the most important piece of theatre I’ve ever done. It changes me every single time I read it, listen to it, and perform it,” said Anna Caccavaro of Newport.
Since February, teens from Newport, Stevens, Kearsarge, and Fall Mountain high schools have been working with Producing Artistic Director Shelly Hudson on "The Laramie Project."
The play tells the story of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year old gay college student who was kidnapped, severely beaten, tied to a fence, and left to die on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming in October 1998. The real characters’ words are drawn from more than 200 interviews with town residents conducted by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project over the course of the following year. The Laramie Project is one of the most performed plays in America.
Rural Outright, a program of TLC Family Resource Center, joined forces with Amplified Arts to make this production possible because it insists we confront the forms of hatred that continue to plague our society today. While the cast members are too young to remember Matthew’s murder, they (and we) don’t want it to be forgotten.
There will be a panel discussion with cast and crew, LGBTQ+ community members, and other experts after each performance to consider whether anything has truly changed over the past 20 years—and how we would respond were a hate crime to occur in our community.
A racially-tinged incident involving minors here last summer underscores the tremendous need for such an open dialogue. Confronting hate is a theme in the free ongoing series of monthly readings, “Understanding Diversity and Inclusion through Children’s Literature” offered in partnership with the Claremont School District.
The NH Governor’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion will be visiting Claremont next week as part of its statewide listening tour, providing an opportunity for more people of all ages to become involved in this vital conversation.
I hope you want to be involved. The show opens Friday, April 27 at 6:30pm at the Amplified Arts collaborative Arts Venue in downtown Claremont on the second floor at 31 Pleasant St. Additional performances are on Saturday, April 28 at 1 and at 6:30 p.m.
TLC Family Resource Center is pleased to announce that Mayor Charlene Lovett will be the honorary chair for the 9th Annual Born to Run 5K race, which will be held on Saturday, September 22.
The Born to Run 5K race is an off-road race that goes along a trail through Cornish and a Pumpkin Patch Dash for children. The event helps raise awareness for the agency and child abuse prevention as well as provide financial support for our programs, according to Executive Director Maggie Monroe-Cassel.
“This is our signature fundraising event for the year. The money raised goes directly towards the wide range of programs that help support and strengthen all families, children, and youth in our community,” she said.
“The race is also an opportunity for us to interact with the community in a different way. This year we’re planning on expanding the Pumpkin Patch Dash to offer more activities for families during and after the race,” Monroe-Cassel continued. “We have already begun making plans for this year’s race and look forward to having the chance to share our work with more of the community.”
TLC Family Resource Center supports and strengthens all families, children, and youth of Sullivan and Lower Grafton counties with a wide range of free programs, support groups, education, and events. For more information, please visit www.tlcfamilyrc.org.
TLC Family Resource Center and fellow members of the Greater Sullivan County Public Health Advisory Council want you to know that April is STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) Awareness Month. We are participating in GYT (Get Yourself Tested), a national campaign focused on helping young people take control of their sexual health.
STIs are infections passed from one person to another during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. They're really common, and lots of people who have them don't have any symptoms. STIs can be dangerous, but the good news is that getting tested is no big deal, and most STIs are easy to treat.
So why don’t more people get tested? Many don’t realize that they need to get tested, but anyone who has ever had any kind of sex could get an STI. You can’t tell by looking at someone if they have one or not. You also can’t tell if *you* have an STI based on whether you have symptoms or not.
Getting tested is important not only to avoid serious, lifelong health problems, but also to put your body first, whether you’re in a relationship or not — and it is usually quick, easy, and painless. Rapid HIV tests can provide results in as little as 20 minutes from a simple swab along your gums and many STI tests just require peeing in a cup. Results are confidential, and all STIs, even HIV, are treatable if not curable.
While STIs tend to affect young people most often, it’s never too late to take charge of your health. It’s always a good idea to talk about using protection, like condoms and/or dental dams, and to get tested.
Getting an STI or having a partner with an STI is extremely common and is not something anyone should be stigmatized for. Having an STI is also not the end of your sex life, and it’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. Your STI status doesn’t make you “clean” or “dirty.” What’s most important is making sure you have the facts — no matter what your status is.
Having an open and honest conversation about STIs early on can bring you closer to a partner; it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. You can start by saying, “I'm a little nervous to bring this up...but I want us to be healthy and I think it's important.” Your partner may actually be relieved to hear this and glad to learn that getting tested isn’t a big deal.
Here in Sullivan County, Planned Parenthood provides low cost or no cost testing in Claremont. It also serves residents at its clinic in White River Junction. Helpful videos on how to discuss STIs are available online at www.ppnne.org.
STI prevention is a core part of our County’s public health care initiative and education efforts. We believe, as does Planned Parenthood, that everyone — regardless of race, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, income, country of origin, faith, and immigrant or refugee status, deserves a healthy, shame-free, and safe sex life. And access to safer sex — including tools, testing, and treatment — and education about STIs is the best way to ensure that people of all ages stay healthy and safe. Look for new containers of free condoms and dental dams in our offices as well as many other locations throughout the community this spring.
We hope you get yourself some free protection, get yourself talking, get yourself tested, get yourself treated, and keep yourself healthy.
By Sarah Breisch
March was officially recognized as National Reading Month by the National Education Association in 1998. This month was chosen because March 2 is the birthday of Theodor Geisel, better known to most of us by his pen name, Dr. Seuss. The name Dr. Seuss has become almost synonymous with children’s literature, and you will find his charming illustrations of unusual creatures on everything from lunch boxes and pajamas to Band-Aids and, of course, books.
While we know that reading is something we should engage in daily, recognizing its importance through celebration can be a good way to renew our interest in it. Among many possible choices, Dr. Seuss is a great American author to honor during National Reading Month.
He is the grandson of immigrants to this country, and his journey to becoming a successful author is one of initial failure, trial and error, hard work and luck. His work also exemplifies what is best about literature geared toward children:
This month, I would like to explore those three facets of children’s literature. Understanding and implementing them where developmentally appropriate can help us as parents and teachers to better engage with our children and students through the written word. And that is something that we must do.
Not only is the richness of the human experience to be found in books, but from a young age we should instill in children a love and respect for books. Books can help a parent and child bond as they share them during young childhood; books can be a means of solitary discovery or of developing self-awareness for an adolescent; but ultimately, a good book can help us to overcome our divisions through the magic of meaningful language.
At TLC Family Resource Center we support and strengthen all families, children, and youth in Sullivan and Lower Grafton counties with a wide range of free programs, support groups, education, and events.
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