Interview Lauren Beldin, The Author of the Book “Oh the Places You’ll Feed
Recently, Breastfeeding World has had the great pleasure of interviewing Lauren Beldin. Lauren is the author of the adorable children’s book about breastfeeding, “Oh, The Places You’ll Feed.”
Tell me a bit more about you.
Ever since I was a small child, I dreamed of becoming two things “when I grew up”. I wanted to be a published author and a mother. Pursuing my literary dream meant majoring in English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College. It also meant attending a summer program at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. But after graduating, my passion for writing led to nothing more than a series of jobs in advertising, brand strategy and innovation. Here, I would pour my creative energy into naming products and crafting concepts and headlines.
By the time I had my first child, my daughter Olivia, I had all but given up on my dreams of putting a book into the world. My husband and I live in California (splitting our time between San Francisco and Sonoma). With a newborn and plans for a new business (we launched our own wine label, Belden Barns in 2012), our hands were pretty full. I am happy to report that the wine business is thriving. Olivia just turned four and her little brother Milo is two-and-a-half. Maybe even more exciting, I just turned the final draft of my second book into my new agent. Life is good!
Tell me about your breastfeeding journey.
My journey was not a pretty one. Everything I’d heard and read about breastfeeding suggested that it was beautiful, bonding and “the most natural thing in the world.” That wasn’t the case for me. While things seemed to start well at the hospital. Every nurse who checked on us assured me that Olivia was perfectly latched and feeding well. Yet it wasn’t long before we brought her home that she began losing weight. Quickly. Which made no sense when you considered the fact that she nursed what felt like 24 hours a day.
Five pediatrician appointments (including a tongue-tie specialist, two lactation consultants, one nipple shield and many tears later, Olivia’s diagnosis that her mouth was too small to properly latch on my breast. After I recieved instructions to pump (using a rented hospital grade pump) every two hours. I also would feed her the milk I’d pumped in between pumping sessions. I pumped constantly, and in some of the strangest places you can ever imagine for nine months. Finally, I simply couldn’t pump anymore. I’d battled mastitis twice and I was ready to say goodbye to it forever. Or at least until my second child came along, and I’d experience the whole daunting journey a second time.
When Milo was born, the first few weeks of breastfeeding him were, beautiful. (Especially in comparison to what I’d been through with his sister). Breastfeeding and bonding, nursing was beautiful and pain-free. He took to my breast immediately, and I happily whipped my boob out to feed him any time he so much as offered a hungry smile. “So THIS is what everyone was talking about,” I said to my husband.
But just as I was beginning to actually enjoy breastfeeding, Milo developed a rare (but thank goodness, easily treatable) condition called Pyloric Stenosis. The condition required immediate surgery. After the operation, the hospital advised me to bottle feed him, one measured ounce at a time, to ensure that his tiny body could digest it all. And after the bottle, he refused to go back to breastfeeding, so re-married my pump. Definitely NOT a happy event for me, Milo, or anyone in our family.
How did you come up with the idea of “The Places You’ll feed?”
It didn’t make me more than a few days to realize just how much work breastfeeding requires (even when it’s going well). Shockingly, no one had mentioned this fact while I was pregnant. I was in a group of first-time mothers’, and as we met up for coffee and walks and venting sessions, none of us could stop talking about all of trials and tribulations around breastfeeding: the sore nipples, the mind-numbing pumping sessions, the leaking, and of course, the crazy places we’d fed our little ones. “Someone needs to write a book about this and give a heads’ up to all future mamas!” I kept saying. Finally, I realized that the person who needed to write the book was me.
How long was the writing/creative process behind the book?
The actual writing of the book took a single day. I asked my husband to watch Olivia while I basically locked myself in my office and let everything I was struggling with pour itself in the page. Revising and editing my thoughts took a little longer, and finding an illustrator and book designer and printer to help us bring the book to life took a full two years.
How did you come up with the title?
The title was what came to me first. “My God, the places we feed!” I’d mumble, each time I found myself pumping in an airport or disgusting bathroom. I’ve always been a big fan of Dr. Seuss, and actually quoted “The Places You’ll Go” on my senior page in our high school yearbook.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Surprisingly, the book wrote itself quickly. It took no time to go from written book to illustrated, well-laid-out, published book. We were lucky to find an incredibly talented artist in Isabelle Angell, but the number of revisions that went back and forth for each design, just to get everything exactly perfect was insane. When you are the one to write the words, there are so many images that you envision going with them, it’s hard to choose your favorite ones and get the details right.
What are your current projects?
In addition to building our wine business, taking on cool freelance innovation projects and spending time with our family, I am so happy to announce that we are shopping my second book around to editors at publishing houses. It’s an uplifting take on motherhood that encourages mammas in being more supportive and less judgmental of one another and the different choices we make on our parenting journeys. It is simultaneously funny and inspirational, and to make even a small dent in enabling the world to become a slightly better and easier place for mothers everywhere.
Thank you, Lauren for taking the time to tell us all about your book!
Be sure to join us in our social media accounts. Stay up to date with the progress of our project!
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