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Conference Caring

Susan Switzer
Atlanta GA USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 38 No. 1, February-March 2002, p. 19.

While they all offer the joy of being immersed for a few days in a culture of breastfeeding and responsive parenting, the awe of meeting Founders, Board members, and LLLI Office staff, the excitement of hearing famous speakers, and the fun of reuniting with old friends, for me each La Leche League International Conference has its own unique flavor. I’ve attended nine out of 10 over the past 20 years and have come away from each with a special feeling and set of memories that set it apart from the others.

Still, I was unprepared for my experience in Chicago, Illinois, USA this past summer at the 17th International Conference. My memories of this Conference are of being cared for. While I know La Leche League people to be most caring and supportive both of each other and of the mothers who come to us for help, I was deeply moved by the response I encountered when I came down with Lyme disease immediately after arriving at the Conference. I found loving concern and exactly the help I needed at every turn. From the first night when an acquaintance from Georgia, USA, Sandey Stayanoff, got out of bed and left her husband to come and take pictures of my “bull’s eye” rash and help me brainstorm (with my fever fogged brain) my best course of action; to Carol Kolar taking time out from orchestrating the Conference the next day to help me decide what to do and direct me to Dr. Eisenstein; to Mary Bird, Leader from Ireland, who overheard and insisted on skipping her next session to babysit me, feeding me breakfast, and keeping me focused while I waited for Dr. Eisenstein’s session to end and then taking me to him; to the good doctor himself who listened to my description of my symptoms, trusted my assessment, and agreed to call in the appropriate antibiotic for me; to Barbara Wexler, a mother from my local Group, who took me from Mary and guided me to my next session. I was in a fog the entire day that this was occurring and did not know that I needed such intense care—but I did.

As I started to feel better, I realized how unable to take care of myself I’d been and how naturally and firmly my LLL friends had stepped in to meet my needs. While the sessions, the luncheons, the World Assembly, and the afternoon tea were all wonderful, it’s this feeling of being cared for that stays with me as the flavor of the 2001 Conference in Chicago.

Last updated September 17, 2006 by jlm.
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