Northeast Valley Health Center WIC Event 2013

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August 3, 2013, six o’clock in the morning…I roll out of bed, stretch out, wash my face, brush my teeth, look back at myself in the mirror and say, “What a great day it is to nip it out at the park!”

Instantly, I was flushed with excitement. Just the thought of normalizing breastfeeding by public display had me bouncing from wall to wall like Flubber (1997 movie with Robin Williams; No? It’s okay, moving on). I had laid out my daughter Shannon’s and I outfits the night before, so I bathed and got us dressed in lightning speed; only taking a few moments to add a cute bow to Shannon’s hair in the event of gender confusion. Hey, sometimes the pink floral dress just isn’t enough.

I immediately opened up my bedroom door yelling to all in the house to hurry and get dressed. Having neatly placed all of the gifts and supplies for setup at the door, I speed walked to my car, strapped my baby in, not hitting her head on the edge of the door this time and yelled out “See you guys there!” Then I cruised down the street to North Hollywood Recreation Center.

As soon as I pulled up, I noticed Northeast Valley Health Center (NEVHC) staff/volunteers had already setup a few canopies and tables. To see so many dressed in red shirts with My Name Is stickers, avidly preparing for the day’s events almost brought a tear to my eye. The excitement and enthusiasm was fulfilling. Shannon and I quickly gathered our composure and jumped right in.
Note: Watery eyes are a new condition that tends to happen to me often as a hormonal lactating mother. I hear its normal to experience this for every emotion.

Swiftly we threw up the banners, taped down the tablecloths, DJ was ready and the vendors and volunteers took their positions. It was time! One foot in front of the other I walked center stage, applied some chapstick and took a last minute sip of water. I just knew I was going to burst into a nervous shake. I just knew that my palms would sweat profusely and that I would say all the wrong things. So when I looked down to take the microphone off the stand and then looked back up unto the crowd, I experienced something completely different.

The instant glance of the women and children taking there seated positions on blankets and chairs, the bountiful amount of fathers and relatives embracing the mothers with gentle touches of admiration and love, the energy that swiftly moved through everyone’s soul like a cool breeze on a scorching day, took me to a place of an unparalleled amount of confidence and security. As I opened up my heart to receive all the wonder that was before me, I strongly shouted, “3, 2, 1 LATCH ON!”

Rule cards immediately went flying up in the air and appointed latch counters immediately grabbed them. We latched forty-three women that morning; and that ain’t all. Seventy women registered and over one hundred people attended. There was a kid’s corner, free books, cupcakes, free massages, raffle prizes, face painting (which was really good; shout out to Paula G.) and loads of health, breastfeeding information. The kids hula-hoop contest was the highlight! I could not stop laughing; except at the little girl who hula hooped better than anyone I have ever seen. We danced, exercised and even namasted it out with a little bit of yoga. It was spectacular! It was fun! It was supportive!

So as the celebration died down and the mothers began to head home to put the kiddies down for a nap, we all packed up, picked up and said our goodbyes. Rebeca Sheng and I shared a brief laugh, recapped on the stage and then soon we hugged it out with an “ill see you soon”.

Walking back to my car, I paused and stared at the empty park, to embrace all that had just happened. I relived the nervousness, the anxiety, the pressure and then the laughs, the smiles, the hugs, the joy. We at that very moment were present and it felt so good.

So as you view some of the pictures and continue to embark on the mission of educating and supporting the masses with health education and breastfeeding, feel proud and feel accomplished. Be proud because of the many smiles and laughs that were brought upon by peer counseling. Be proud because what you do supports women and children from all walks of life. Be proud because I was one of those mothers looking for support and found it in the WIC Peer Counseling Program. Feel accomplished because this wasn’t just my event, it was our event. And because of all that you do, I was able to pass that along to other families with an infectious amount of passion and love. I thank you! We thank you! Let us continue to support each other.

With Love and much gratitude,

Ashley Wright

P.S. Here comes the tears

I AM A Badass Breastfeeding, Babywearing, Attachment parenting, Pole dancing, Yogi Momma! And I inspire and empower women My WAY! Ms. Wrights Way