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More than Sessions at an LLLI Conference!

Dulcita Marie Love
Fairview NC USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 22 No. 5, September-October 2005, p. 200

When I registered for the 2005 LLLI Conference, I completely forgot about some of the features I had enjoyed most at the 2003 Conference. Imagine my pleasure when I arrived at the Hilton Washington to see the Exhibit Hall and Bookstore!

I've always loved to see what new products are on the market and even better, to meet face to face with the creators of these products. In the Exhibit Hall, there was just that: new products, classic products, services, publishers, and every type of organization imaginable. Some exhibitors had even traveled from as far as Japan to share their innovative wares. I could feel the excitement from the people at each booth as they displayed products that would support families and children. In addition, many of the exhibitors were mothers. They had their babies with them while talking and demonstrating. That's something you definitely don't see while shopping at the local store!

As I went from booth to booth and looked at each product, I couldn't help but think, "I'm glad someone came up with that idea!" One new product was baby tooth wipes. Would you believe that my husband, son, and I fought over who would get to try the samples on the way home in the car? Fighting to clean our teeth? That just doesn't happen in everyday life! Other interesting new items included the world's first flushable diaper (soon to be released in the US), and a CPR bear to practice choking rescue and CPR skills at home.

Some products that were exhibited have been around for a while, but they just keep getting better and better. The variety of slings was inspiring—there was everything from soft t-shirt material that made the baby look snug to exquisite silky fabrics that looked like they had come all the way from the Orient! There were nursing pillows that offered everything from height adjustment to portability to glow in the dark features!

Another great opportunity offered at the Exhibit Hall was that of gathering information. You never know when you will have a brief encounter with someone or read something that will dramatically increase your confidence in breastfeeding or parenting. I had an unexpected moment that anchored my beliefs in breastfeeding after casually picking up an eye-catching brochure from the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action. The brochure subtitle read, "What's breastfeeding got to do with gender issues?" The answer was, "Breastfeeding is a natural part of women's reproduction and benefits women's health. Women have the right to breastfeed....Breastfeeding is a basic human right." What a way to build confidence in a mother's choice to breastfeed! And for mothers who wanted to share their experiences, publishers were there to encourage them to write articles and books.

Speaking of books, on to the Bookstore! I'm a book junkie. This is why the Bookstore was so enjoyable for me. I was able to browse through a variety of publications, videos, CDs, and Conference memorabilia. Each day there was the opportunity outside of the Bookstore to meet one-on-one with many of the authors. This experience made the books come to life even more!

I enjoyed the Conference so much that I'm currently planning my schedule for the 50th Anniversary Conference in 2007! Of course, I already have time set aside to attend the Exhibit Hall, the Bookstore, and autograph sessions.

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