La Leche Magic !
I must have somehow tapped into the forces of the cosmos! This is so freaky... it started out "in the zone" and it kept escalating!!!!! Listen to this! I've wanted to go to a La Leche League conference ever since I first read about them, over 6 years ago. I never had the opportunity though. We were going to go to the one in Oct of 2001, but the kids and I all ended up getting sick. I had looked into at that point at saw that the next one that might be possible was a year and a half away, so I told myself I'd look into that one, scheduled for April of 2002.
Well, this Friday evening we were on our way to Target to pick up some diapers. I casually mentioned to DH to remind me to check the LLL website for the details about the conference. Well, I didn't get to the computer until about midnight, but I did somehow actually remember, through my lactational fog-brain, to check it out. I went to the LLL website and opened the page with the info for the NJ conference and wailed, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!" and burst into tears! The conference had started tonight, just a mere hour before the idea to check into entered my head!!! Somehow, someway, the vibes were so strong, they channeled their way from NJ to me!!!!
I was upset enough that I was going to miss the conference in general, but when I saw that Katherine Dettwyler was speaking on Saturday night, I was completely heart-broken!!! I am SUCH a fan of hers! I immediately got the hotel info and called them to see if there was any chance that I could still register, and if there were rooms available. I was told that I could get a room, I could even get it within the LLL reserved block, and, there was a special LLL rate of $87 per night, as opposed to the normal $119 per nite rate. However, there was nobody available to give me info about registration and I was told to call back in the morning.
DH was still awake; it was after 1:00 am by now. I went to him with a pleading look on my face, asking him if there was any way possible that he could rearrage his workday, the following day, to accommodate an overnite trip to NJ. He said his day was packed with appointments but that he would try to get home early. Ms Dettwyler was scheduled to speak at 7pm Saturday, and as I wanted to catch some of the other lectures, THIS was the absolutely most critically important to me. He said he could probably arrange to be home by 2:30pm, which would get us to the conference around 4:30. It would be after all the days lectures were over, but it would get me there to hear my heroine speak!
Saturday, morning, the moment I awoke, I called the hotel. I asked if they could put me through to someone in charge of the LLL conference. The phone started ringing and nobody answered. My heart sunk. If they had already gone to breakfast, and I couldn't speak to someone to confirm that I would be able to get in, then all my hopes would be dashed. I pressed the "O" button to get me back to the operator and asked her if there was any other room she could try. The second magical, fateful moment happened. The cheerful voice on the other end of the phone said, "This is Marian Thompson's room". (OMG!!! Marian Thompson? LLL Founder Marian Thompson!!!!) I responded with an awed, "OHHHHHHHHHHHH MYYYYYY!!!", and I could hear her smile!
I told her of my dilemma, and how I had been waiting 6.5 years to come to a conference and that I had only found out about it after midnight last night. I asked her if it were too late to register and if it would be OK if I couldn't get there until late afternoon. She told me, "You come, and if *anyone* gives you any trouble about it, tell them Marian Thompson TOLD you to come!"!!!!!!!! I thanked her and bounced intothe livingroom to tell DH we could get in! He told me he'd do his best to get home as early as possible.
I spent the day packing and getting myself and the kids ready, so we could run out the door the moment he came home. We did so, and arrived at the hotel around 5:30. We were unpacking the car when DH asked me if I remembered to pack diapers and wipes. My eyes popped open and my hand covered my mouth and I gasped. OH NO!!!! I then looked down into the trunk, and saw sitting there, the one package that was too much to carry from the prior night's shopping trip, which I decided to leave in the car. It contained a bottle of dishwasher liquid and a package of diapers and a package of wipes!!!!!! Holy COW!!! What fate!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was wowed!!!! Magical moment # 3!!
We checked in and dropped off our things in our room and headed down for the conference. We entered the elevator with a warm, friendly lady in yellow, from the conference, and chatted on the way, parting as we got off. We went to the registration table and was thrilled that I could purchase a ticket to Karherine Dettwylers lecture for $10.00. We were told dinner tickets were $32 per adult and $12 for my Demmi (which included a ticket for the lecture) and the boys were free if they sat in our laps, however, she couldn't sell us dinner tickets b/c reservations had to be made in advance so the hotel had a head count for how much food to make. Then she pointed to a bulletin board and said that there might be notes up there from people looking to sell their dinner tickets. DH went over and sure enough, there was a note from one person selling 2 adult tickets and another from a person selling a child's ticket! BINGO! Magic moment # 4!!!
We headed back to the elevator to knock on the doors of the ticket holders. Another very cheerful attendee heard DH & I discussing how we would try to meet up with the ticket holders and with a huge smile she said, "Somebody just hung 2 free dinner tickets on the bulletin board!!!!!!!!! BINGO!!! Magic moment # 5!!! There they were!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 2 free tickets with a monetary value of $64, but to me, were priceless!!!!!!!!!!! Now, all we had to do was track down the holder of the ticket for Demmi. The note read "Susan Exxxxxx" and the room #. We went to the room and knocked, but there was no answer. We went down the hall to our room and called their room to leave a message. We also wrote a note saying to meet us at the doorway of the dining room at dinnertime, and hung it on their door. I was concerned b/c it was so close to dinner time and I knew they were probably down there.
We had a few minutes left to run thru the expo hall before dinner, so we did. I did not know what Marian Thompson looked like and when I saw a LLL book on one of the tables, I picked it up and asked the vendor if she could tell me who each of the women on the cover were. She wasn't sure. I figured I'd have to keep asking around for someone to point her out. When we came out, people were already mostly in the dining room, except a few stragglers. DH ran back to the room to put our things away, and told me to find the ticket. I glanced at their name tags as they filed by, but no "Susan Exxxxxxx". How on Earth was I going to find her amongst the hundreds of people in the dining room? Well, I was a woman on a mission and I needed that ticket. If I had to, I would go table by table through the whole place until I found her! I stepped into the room and went to the first table. There was one woman there and the rest of the seats were empty; their occupants on the buffet line. I asked her if there was a "Susan Exxxxxxx" at the table. She said, "No." I turned to the next table, but it was all children, so I skipped it and went to the next. I said, "Is there a "Susan Exxxxxxx" at this table?" and a pretty blonde said, "That's me!" BINGO!!! Magic moment # 6!!
We exchanged the money for the ticket. Magic moment # 7 immediately occurred. The person who was sitting next to "Susan Exxxxxxx" was the same wonderfully friendly woman in yellow I had rode the elevator with! Odd coincidence! Then it went a step better! Marion Thompson walked right by next to us and the lady in yellow smiled a big smile and pointed and said, "THAT's Marian Thompson!" Oh my gosh, everything I wanted and needed was just being magically handed to me! It was obvious that it was fate that guided me to this meeting and everything was being handed to me on a silver platter!!!!!!!!! It was so amazing!
Dh came in and we found some seats. He went to the buffet line and brought back some food. I just HAD to meet Ms Thompson. I wasn't going to miss this opportunity! I went over to the "reserved" table and there she was. I walked over to her and squat down beside her and spoke her name. She turned to me with that warm smile and I introduced myself, unable to hold back tears of joy. I was meeting a true Hero! She was a delight and we spoke a few minutes. I told her that I was the one she had spoken to on the phone that morning and she was so happy that I had made it to the conference. I thanked her for all she has done for the promotion and success of breastfeeding and let her get back to her dinner. I was absolutely on cloud nine! Truly another magical moment! How many people get to meet any of their heroes?
With Demmi still in the sling (also a magical time b/c at 6.5 years old, and with twin 3 yo brothers, she doesnt' get much chance to be slung anymore, so it is a rare and wonderful treat in itself), we headed for the buffet table. At this point there was no longer a crowd up there. I put some food on a plate and as I got to the end of the table I was startled to see there were some deserts, as the desserts were all on a different table. I reached the end of the table at the same moment a woman stepped up next to me to reach for a piece of cheesecake. In the moment of discovery of the yummy looking cakes, I said "Oh WOW! What's that?!!!" The woman turned towards me and I realized I was in the midst of magical moment # 9! The nametag pinned to this woman read "Katherine Dettwyler"!!!!!!!!!!! The second she turned to me I blurted out, "IT'S YOUUUUUU!!!!!"!!!!!, to which she replied, "Yup, it's me!".
OMG, face to face with another of my heroes, just moments after the first! I told her what a fan of hers I am and how valuable her scientific data is because it provides concrete evidence of the value of BF & AP, which is a necessity when people think we are all just zealots caught up in some cult, and we need to back up our instincts with facts, then I let her go to enjoy her cheesecake! I went back to DH and the boys at our table and burst into tears!!!!! I was so overwhelmed with all the fateful moments of destiny that occurred in a matter of hours. It was so unreal. I felt like this was my reward for all the years of work I have been putting into promoting breastfeeding and providing peer support thru my website, email, and phone. I've spent hundreds of hours in breastfeeding support meetings and LLL meetings, not to receive support, but to be there for the others who need it, and to show people that breastfeeding is something that goes on for years, not months. And then I am rewarded with this incredible day, led turn by turn by the hand of fate, everything perfectly choreographed before me. It was such an unreal feeling. Truly a gift!
Of course, Katherine Dettwyler's lecture was wonderful, enlightening, infuriating in its addition of fuel to the burning fire of my disgust at the formula companies. She was intelligent and funny and insightful and I could listen to her speak day after day! If you ever have an opportunity to see her speak in person, run, don't walk!!! Find a local conference, and if you can't afford the time or money for the whole weekend, see if you can just pay for a lecture ticket! I can't think of event more worth the price of admission!
The Sunday agenda was just for LLL leaders, so we had breakfast at the hotel and then went to a hands-on science exhibit for the kids at a local place. We grabbed some late lunch and got back on the road about 4pm. It took us just shy of an hour and a half to get home from exit 13 on the Jersey Turnpike. Traffic was moving well. We were home and all the magic was just a memory.... so we thought. No, there was one more little piece of magic, #10!
About 10pm, DH & I were a bit hungry so he walked across the street to grab a couple of pizza slices. On his way past the deli, he stopped in to buy some orange juice for the morning. As he is standing at the counter, in walks an exasperated woman who blurts out, "I just came back from exit 13 on the Jersey turnpike and I had to spend an hour each crawling in traffic over both bridges!". So even after all the magic, as if it weren't enough, there was one more gift... we got home without the horrible traffic!
If you ever have an opportunity to go to a LLL conference, don't hesitate. You may not experience all the fateful magic I did, but you will be surrounded by the magic of all those warm and wonderful breastfeeding, attachment parenting families and the incredible people that comprise the all of LLL, and that, I promise you, is more magical than anything you could ever imagine!!!
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