An Unexpected Dance with Kuroji Patrick

I met V. Kuroji Patrick in a most unusual way.

I was attending the USBC 2014 Coalitions Conference, and exploring the exhibits. I noticed Kathleen Kendall-Tackett there, and wanted to invite her to come on my radio show, but she was talking with someone else, so I decided to wait until she was finished. Suddenly, out of seemingly nowhere, came a tall, slender man who took my hand, and began moving me in a dance-like fashion around the exhibit floor, twirling and whirling me with graceful steps and chatting in a soft-spoken voice. In a minute or so, he asked how this felt. I chuckled and answered, “Well, you’re a little tall for me, but I guess it works.” Continuing to chat while waltzing me around, he declared, “You’re leading, you know.” To which I retorted, “Yeah, I generally find a way take the lead, whether it’s dancing or anything else. And, by the way, I’m Marie Biancuzzo. Who, exactly, are you?”

He said he was Kuroji Patrick. I had never met him, and had never heard of him.

Admittedly, this was not the manner in which I usually strike up a conversation. Yet, in an odd way, I found myself immediately at ease while talking with him. I found out a little about what he does, and why he’s so passionate about helping fathers to be supportive of breastfeeding. He has this compelling, serious side that is just as interesting as his easy-going, funny side. Instinctively, I knew that Kuroji would be a great guest for the show.

I feel sure that you’ll enjoy spending time with Kuroji.
Listen to Marie’s interview with Kuroji Patrick
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Nancy Mohrbacher: A Non-authoritarian Authority

Seemingly everyone in the lactation community knows Nancy Mohrbacher. Beginning as a La Leche League leader, Nancy is often known for her ability to speak authoritatively to mothers without sounding like an authoritarian. There’s a difference. I’ve owned Nancy’s books for years, but I didn’t meet her until recently. Just being in Nancy’s presence is a treat. She has such an accepting, calming demeanor, and a reassuring voice. I wanted listeners to “meet” Nancy on the show, and I admit feeling disappointed that no one called in with a question for her. But, it’s never too late to ask. Anyone can submit a question to radio@borntobebreastfed.com and we’ll send a personal reply, or address the question on a future show.

While I’m the host of this show and have enough expertise to talk for the entire hour by myself, I like to have guests, because I always learn something from them. I may or may not learn any new facts, but I almost always learn about ways to present information in a way I might not have thought about, or I gain insights into myself. Nancy definitely gave me some insight into myself. Towards the end of this show, I described an interaction I had recently had with a breastfeeding mother who was very overwhelmed with the new baby, the job, and a dying grandmother, too. She had asked me for ways to improve her milk supply, and, although I generated several recommendations to fix the problem, none seemed acceptable or realistic to her. On the show, I asked Nancy how she would have responded to this mother. Interestingly, Nancy’s reply focused on values and options. I suddenly realized how much of a fix-it person I am. I don’t feel badly about that—fixing is often needed—but sometimes, fixing isn’t realistic or comfortable. I loved Nancy’s response, and will keep that in my head for a long time.
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Marian Tompson: A Dream Come True

I have always thought of Marian Tompson as somewhat of a legend. Many times, I had heard the story about how La Leche League had been started at a picnic near Chicago. As I understood the story, seven women were at a picnic in 1957, and decided to start an organization. Marian Tompson was one of those women. But when I interviewed Marian, I had a much clearer understanding of how the story really unfolded.

Marian had just had her fourth child, and her doctor very much encouraged her to breastfeed. Mary White, another mother, and the wife of a doctor, was having lunch with Marian in the park, and the two women discussed how good it would be to have support from other breastfeeding mothers. It was later that they pulled five of their friends along for more mother-to-mother support. While I had always assumed the “picnic” was a planned and boisterous event among seven giggling women, it was more like a quiet lunch shared between two friends in a park. They certainly didn’t realize they were starting a not-for-profit organization.

Talking with Marian was like stepping back in time. With a little real-life experience and a lot of imagination, I conjured up the scene in my head. I imagined Marian with one of those I Love Lucy hairdos, toting a Melamine bowl of potato salad in one hand, and holding a baby in the other while half-chasing a sandwich on a paper plate near the Windy City.  I found it a bit more difficult to imagine, though, how she would be feeding her baby in the park. Wouldn’t that be breastfeeding in public? Hmmmmm. It occurred to me that in some ways, today’s woman is faced with many of same issues that Marian and her friends faced.

 As you celebrate World Breastfeeding Week, dream a little. Marian’s is a story of how one woman and her friend had a dream, and made it come true. 
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