Before I begin, I want to broach what I feel is an important matter, because my goal with this blog has always been to share my motherhood experiences without alienating anyone. Perhaps that’s a pipe dream, but I do my best! It happens that this post is geared toward breastfeeding moms, so I wanted to begin by saying that I know breastfeeding isn’t for everyone, and I completely respect that. I imagine some of you have struggled with breastfeeding, discovered it wasn’t comfortable for you, or decided it just wasn’t something you were interested in doing. I’m on your side no matter what choice you’ve made! Am I pro-breastfeeding? Absolutely. I wholeheartedly believe in the benefits of it. But I’m also a firm believer in respecting everyone else’s choices, whether or not they differ from my own. I’d like to think those two ideas don’t have to be mutually exclusive!
Not too long ago, an article was published in which my interview quotes might easily have been misconstrued, suggesting I have some passive aggressive tendencies regarding those who don’t breastfeed. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. While I can’t imagine my own motherhood experience without it, I recognize that it isn’t the right choice, or feasible, for every mom out there. You have my support and encouragement whether you do or don’t breastfeed; we all have to do what’s comfortable for us individually! I might be overstating all of this, but I’d rather people felt I over-explained myself unnecessarily, instead of feeling I presented a blog that was thoughtless and unfair to the non-breastfeeding moms out there. With that said, the campaign I refer to in this post specifically pertains to breastfeeding moms. If you don’t breastfeed, I hope you won’t feel slighted by the nature of it and, at the end of the day, I hope the sentiment behind the campaign still speaks to you. I hope it reminds you that we are all in this together. When you’re a mom, it’s not about ego, social status, income, career path, weather or not you breastfeed, or whether or not you used to be on a television show as a kid. Motherhood is the great equalizer! That’s why I started writing this blog in the first place. I hope, in some small way, we mommies can reach out to one another and connect on a level we all understand and appreciate. So with that in mind…
I’ve never been terribly vocal about sharing details of the charity work I do. I was taught early on that philanthropic efforts are a very personal and private pursuit, and that they aren’t done for recognition. I find there’s something beautiful about giving anonymously and quietly holding that knowledge in one’s heart. With that said, I acknowledge that my career has offered me a more public platform from which to voice my convictions, and that sometimes speaking up is how we incite change in the world around us. Which is why I hope you’ll allow me to set aside my humility for a moment, and shout from the rooftops about the campaign I just participated in, called Medela Recycles.
I was honored when Medela approached me to be their campaign ambassador. I’ve been a huge fan of their products since Gray was born, and their breastpumps have given me some crucial assistance with both of my girls. (Especially since my babies tend to be 24/7 frequenters of the boobie bar. There are meetings and auditions I never would have made it to without pumping!) The decision to help Medela launch their new campaign was a no-brainer for me… a way to combine breastfeeding, recycling, AND charity work? What a trifecta!
As a bit of an explanation about the program itself, Medela Recycles allows moms to donate their breastpumps for a worthy cause. Medela takes our old, used pumps that are collecting dust in our attics, recycles them, and then donates new, multi-use, hospital-grade breastpumps for the mothers of NICU babies, via the Ronald McDonald House. This not only keeps our pumps out of the landfills, it is a wonderful way to assist our fellow moms in need, by supporting them on their breastfeeding journey. It has been heartwarming to see so many moms giving back to other moms. In a day and age where the “Mommy Wars” are so prevalent in the media, it’s refreshing to see the spotlight shine on some of the positive work that’s being done!
The Medela Recycles campaign was actually started by a concerned California mom, who began a petition on Change.org. It’s a perfect example of how a small act of kindness can turn into a nationwide effort. We all know being a mom is hard work. It’s the most stunning, rewarding, profoundly inspiring adventure, but can also be crazy, and chaotic, and all consuming… I’m certain that’s not news to you! But I can’t imagine how much more challenging motherhood becomes when someone has a baby in the NICU; my heart breaks for the moms who are struggling with that worry and adversity. I’m grateful Medela recognized the need at Ronald McDonald House, and saw fit to open their hearts and get motivated to make a difference.
I think this campaign is also relevant because the end of breastfeeding is an incredibly vulnerable time for most women. Disconnecting from such a sacred aspect of the bond you share with your child can be devastating. I nursed Gray for nearly two years, and it was emotionally draining for both of us to give it up! Thinking about it still makes me heartsick, even though I’m in the midst of treasuring the breastfeeding bond with Marlowe as we speak. Many other moms have told me they experienced similar feelings, so I know I’m not alone in this. I think the idea that your trusted pump will help another mom on her journey makes moving on from it a little easier to bear. It’s part of the reason this campaign has had such an impact on me.
As ambassador to the campaign, I recently had the opportunity to visit my local Ronald McDonald house here in Nashville, where we launched the program and donated two pumps. I was also given a chance to tour the facility, which blew me away and deeply moved me. I’ve always been partial to the Ronald McDonald House charity as, believe it or not, I actually did a commercial for them when I was ten-years-old. (As it happens, you can find it on Youtube here.) It meant something to me even then, but experiencing it as a mom was even more poignant. I was touched by the details… how they give a handmade quilt to every family who stays with them. How the nightly rate is optional, so that no family is alienated based on their current financial status. How groups from the local colleges and businesses volunteer to cook dinners on a monthly basis. How much love exists between the volunteer staff and the families who stay there. How the Nashville chapter is ALWAYS booked solid. Every. Single. Night. That alone speaks to the immense need that exists out there, and I’m already looking for creative ways to continue my relationship with them. I want my daughters to know that we can all make a difference! I can only hope my passion for it convinces a few of you to donate your own used pumps to Medela Recycles, and/or look into your local Ronald McDonald House to volunteer. If this encourages even one mom, it was well worth writing… so go forth and inspire!
Until next time… Peace, Love, and Dirty Diapers,
Jenna von Oy
PS. I think it’s important for me to acknowledge that while Medela endorsed me as an ambassador, they did not ask me to pen this blog. I say this because I want to make it clear that these words stem from my excitement for the work I’ve been blessed to be a part of. No one told me what to say or forced my hand in writing about it. I wanted to share my experience because it left an indelible impression on my heart. I know some folks may still choose to chalk this up to a paid sponsorship, and dismiss the significance of it, but I hope my message came through loud and clear regardless.
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