API post-conference: Who is Kate Frederick?

kate frederickKate Frederick.

She wasn’t a speaker at Attachment Parenting International‘s 2014 conference. She wasn’t even in the audience. But her name is stuck in my head.

As a bonus for early conference attendees, API hosted a showing of “The Milky Way” film on the evening before the weekend “Cherished Parents, Flourishing Children” conference at Notre Dame University at the end of September. As an added bonus, the lactation consultants behind the film, Chantal Molnar and Jennifer Davidson, were available for Q&A.

And during that Q&A, the name “Kate Frederick” became part of the conversation.

In the film, Kate’s part was just a brief glimpse of a 2013 newspaper article about a mother being fired from her job for breastfeeding. Her name wasn’t mentioned in the film, just a reference to the many mothers who have been discriminated against because of their choice to breastfeed.

But after several showings of “The Milky Way” film, Chantal and Jennifer received a letter that was different than other notes of support. This one was from Kate, who identified herself as an API member from New Hampshire, USA, and the woman about whom the article featured in the film for maybe a couple seconds is about.

Kate was a child support officer for the state Department of Health and Human Services at the time of her job termination due to failed negotiations with her employer regarding her right to breastfeed and her desire to leave the workplace to breastfeed during breaks.

She is now an event planner and has since founded The Rustik Baby Project, through which she advocates for breastfeeding mothers’ rights. Among her projects is a New Hampshire legislative bill that would provide greater protections to breastfeeding mothers.

It is exciting to think of what Kate’s hard work — borne of a passion ignited because of a low point in her life when she refused to give up on what was her biological right — has the potential to give all of us.

Of course, Kate — like any of us — is just one person. And each person can only do so much. But think about what amazing things all of us working together can do!

Some names, like William Sears or Ina May Gaskin, are household names in our Attachment Parenting (AP) communities. And these AP “celebrities” have done so much for the Attachment Parenting movement. But there are so many people whose names we don’t so readily know, or names we may never know — people who are all doing their own little part in their communities, even if only in their homes, to make the world a more compassionate place for their children and future generations.

Kate Frederick is one of those names that we might not otherwise know, but a person who is doing great things in her own little corner of the world — things that when added up with all of our efforts are changing culture.

Every one of us could be Kate Frederick.

2014 Conference: The Milky Way

milky wayThis has been seven years in the making.

I had seen “The Milky Way” film before during a local 2014 World Breastfeeding Week event. It was powerful then, and it was no less powerful this second time around, here in South Bend, Indiana, USA, at Notre Dame University at the 2014 Attachment Parenting International conference, “Pathways to Child Flourishing.”

This time around, the producers of the film were available for discussion: Chantal Molnar and Jennifer Davidson. And that’s where I learned that it took seven — SEVEN — years for them to make their film, “The Milky Way.” During that time, Attachment Parenting has really come into its own as far as the national conversation goes…here in the United States.

We seem to be at a tipping point. There are so many people — parents and non-parents even, professionals within parent support and beyond — who are joining the Attachment Parenting movement, and the Western culture seems ripe for questioning the status quo.

The purpose behind making “The Milky Way” film is to help change the world. I believe that it could, that it is. It is getting people talking, helping members of Western society to reframe their minds around what’s supposed to be normal about infant development specific to breastfeeding.

It is empowering women to advocate for themselves. And that can change the world, one mother, one baby, at a time.

During the discussion afterwards, audience members — parents just like you and me — had the opportunity to ask questions. There was much discussion about the varying experience levels and approaches to breastfeeding support by lactation professionals, the milk bank movement, what advocacy work is happening that can help working breastfeeding moms, exactly how little medical students learn about breastfeeding in med school and the amazing things that countries beyond the United States — like Germany and Sweden — are doing to promote secure attachment from even before birth.

My husband, after watching the film and attending the discussion at the conference, said we should move from the United States to Sweden. I have to admit, it’s tempting.

It was a great start to the conference.