…3, 2, 1, Blast Off!

final-prototype

For the past seven years, my mom and I have been working hard to see our dream become a reality. We are so excited to finally say it is ready and it is time to launch the millybutton! October 1st we will launch our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign and the millybutton will be available for pre-orders.

It is not easy to go from a sketch to a physical prototype. Anyone can dream but it takes a lot of creativity, hard work, time, money, patience, passion, and guts to make it a reality.

But when it finally starts coming together, it’s nothing short of magic.

And needless to say, we have learned a lot along the way.

In addition to getting a variety of opinions and ideas from other moms, Millybutton’s concept was honed thanks to us getting lots of hands-on experience. We have studied magnets, plastics, manufacturing styles, production ability, and safety…We’ve melted plastic beads in the oven, experimented with glue; the list goes on!

We experienced numerous problems with the first prototypes. From its size posing a possible choking hazard, to discovering that our magnets were so strong one erased the hard drive on a mother’s laptop—it’s been quite a journey.

As if that wasn’t enough, it took us four years to secure our US Utility Patent. FOUR years! Many people would have thrown in the towel, and for good reason. But my mom and I never gave up.

We kept at it! Slowly, things started to turn around. We learned about silicone. We began to make new prototypes—but this time, we prototyped with the manufacturer.

Our first foray into silicone was literally sticky. Hair kept getting stuck to it. It was gross. Also, the straps were too thin. Then, for the second prototype, the texture went from being too sticky to too rough, AND the straps were now somehow too short. In addition, the Millybutton was colorless and looked like a jellyfish. Why? Because we could not decide on a color.

prototypes

But, after six months of prototyping it turned out to be a success.

I have to say that our Pittsburgh manufacturer was key to our success. They are a women-owned business, which is the icing on the cake for us, as we love the idea of a product made by moms, for moms. Thanks to them, the Millybutton won’t just be made in the USA, but in our hometown of Pittsburgh! Not having to wait for the product to ship from overseas also benefits our customers, and we will be able to keep up with our anticipated Amazon Launchpad orders.

The development team of product designers and engineers were successful in their material selection. They made millybutton safe & affordable. It’s nontoxic, medical grade, can be sterilized in a medical facility—or you can just throw it in the dishwasher if you need to.

In short: We did it!

Thank you all for believing in us. Your encouragement, enthusiasm and support will never, ever be forgotten.

Hey mom—I am so proud of us! What a journey it has been. I can’t believe we actually did it!

Now it’s just a countdown to launch!

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The Millybutton Logo: A Symbol of a Supermom

MB long logo BW dark

If you’re at all familiar with Millybutton, you know that it was created by moms, for moms.

But did you know that we make it our goal to utilize as many local women-owned businesses and mother-entrepreneurs as possible?

Our motto, “Let’s face it, what mother doesn’t need an extra hand!” was Inspired by the famous Robert G. Ingersoll phrase, “We rise by lifting others.”

Those phrases inform every aspect of what we do at Millybutton. We truly believe an empathetic business model works for everyone.

Working with women in the Pittsburgh community has proven to be one serendipitous meeting after another. They have inspired and empowered us with their talents, enthusiasm, and commitment to helping others. Millybutton—and our lives in general—have been made better because they are a part of it!

As you know, our Millybutton journey, though a profound experience, has been filled with intense twists and turns. A while back, the manufacturer we work with told me that they needed a logo as soon as possible…and I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with it! I was, needless to say, completely panicked.

As you can imagine, a logo is EXTREMELY important because it is the face and symbol of a company, so I was trying to be as thorough and careful as possible when developing it. I worked with students at a local university in order to determine the criteria for the logo, and it was workshopped many, many times. But still, nothing was working. I even took a stab at creating it myself, drawing boobs, nipples and bellybuttons until I ran out of paper. But despite my best efforts, I could not sell myself—or anyone else for that matter—on the designs.

But then, Brigette Davitt, our graphic designer, came to my rescue. She is a breastfeeding super-mom and was home on maternity leave taking care of her 2-month old son when she took on the unenviable task of coming up with our logo. After she was finished, I sat down, took one look what she had created, and knew that it was perfect. She was able to identify with Millybutton and our mission better than anyone else!

And now, thanks to Brigette’s hard work, I am so excited to share the Millybutton logo with all of you! We love our new logo and hope you do too, but we also want it to represent more than just Millybutton. We hope that our logo will become recognizable symbol for breastfeeding mothers. We want it to celebrate their commitment to providing the best nourishment for their child, and to remind them that they are not alone in their breastfeeding journey. Millybutton is a product created with love. It is by moms, for moms, and should be worn with pride.

Breasfeeding Product Development

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Truths about Breastfeeding that Nobody Wants to Discuss

By: Liz Lewis

I had an incredibly vivid dream a few days ago. I was in a hospital bed holding my baby whose face was crinkled into an angry pout. I was desperately trying, and failing, to nurse my baby.

What made this dream more disturbing was the fact that my brain and body reproduced the sensations. I was feeling the same bodily sensations of pain and the same sense of being emotionally overwhelmed that I experienced when my son was born.

Truth: Breastfeeding can be painful.

I recall going to the nursing classes at my local hospital when I was pregnant. The lactation consultants enforced the benefits of nursing and how it helps you bond with your baby. Their message was so persuasive that after taking the class I felt prepared to feed an army.

When the time came it was much less of a bonding experience than I had hoped. My milk was slow to come in, so my infant chewed on my nipples just to get tiny amounts of colostrum. The lactation consultants assured me that this was sufficient for his needs, so I pressed on.

By the time I got home I was so sore I was gritting my teeth and moaning in pain each and every time he latched on. The latch, I was told, was a good one. The shower hurt, my nursing bra hurt, my spirit hurt.

In class they tell you that if your latch is good you will not have pain. The truth is, it will hurt for the first week or so. You need lots and lots of nipple cream. It does get better, but the beginning is rough.

Truth: Breastfeeding is a full-time job.

When you are a nursing mother you are on call 24/7. Depending on the appetite of your infant you might be nursing every 2 hours, which doesn’t sound that bad except that sometimes it takes 30 minutes or more to complete a feeding. By the time you finish you are down to an hour before you need to start the whole process over again.

When my son went through “cluster feeding” phases I would have to excuse myself from restaurants and family outings. Let’s face it, even if you have a nursing apron it is not always convenient to whip out a boob the middle of a crowded restaurant (for me anyway).

I recall going to a gathering when my son was about 3 months old. I had nursed him and given him another 4 ounces of pumped breast milk to top him off. That kid was like a tick ready to pop. But within an hour he was rooting around on one of the party guests. I had to go upstairs by myself for 45 minutes. I missed dinner and yes, I felt a bit left out.

I would venture to guess that I am not in the minority when I say that my son rarely gazed up at me sweetly and nuzzled into my breast. He did however pound on my chest and pull my hair. As a nursling my son was like a miniature caveman, grunting and screaming and eating simultaneously.

With nothing but my thoughts and my little Fred Flintstone, it’s no wonder I about lost my mind.

I recently spoke to a friend of mine who has two children and has maintained her corporate position while nursing both. I asked her how she was navigating her return to work and breastfeeding.

My friend told me that she closes her office door and sits under her desk to pump. In 2016, my friend—the executive—is sitting under her desk pumping. When I asked her why, she replied that “it’s better than sitting in my car.”

Mothering is hard work; I daresay the hardest work you will ever do. It doesn’t matter if you stay-at-home, work at home, or go to an office; you are still working.

Being a nursing mom is yet another layer of responsibility. Breastfeeding is something that takes over your life. You become not just your child’s source of food, but also the source of comfort. You need a break? Too bad, you are the security object.

As a new mom I could not identify why my son was crying about 80% of the time. He cried whether tired, hungry, or bored, and it all sounded the same. I spent every waking minute (and many semi-conscious ones) trying to figure out why he was screaming at me.

Why doesn’t anyone talk about how painful and isolating breastfeeding can be?

Why don’t we discuss ways to support working moms who want to breastfeed?

I was recently introduced to a NYC based co-working space called Alley. As I perused the website I found myself feeling a bit jealous that a.) I don’t live in NYC, and b.) we never had anything like this back in 2010 when I gave birth. Alley offers luxuriously furnished nursing spaces just for moms. These are not powder rooms, with a wall dividing them from the toilets. These are like guest rooms at the Four Seasons, but without the hefty price tag.

Until now it never entered my mind how many women work and breastfeed their children simultaneously. Spaces like Alley are leading the charge to provide moms the flexibility and options to live their dreams and meet their personal goals.

So let’s start a conversation. Let’s talk about breastfeeding at home, at work, and in public. Even better, let’s work toward supporting all moms regardless of their childrearing choices.

This piece originally appeared as a blog for The Huffington PostLiz Lewis writes and advocates with women and parents with ADHD. You can follow her on Twitter @HealthyADHD.

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For the Love of Lactating!!! A Breastfeeding Story

Embracing my Stink Boob, Neenees, and Boobas

When my first baby was born, I was basically clueless about what breastfeeding would be like. I took a prenatal class and studied Lamaze and blankly stared at my mom when she said that doctors in her day suggested “toughening” up her nipples with a rough cloth before the baby was born.

Say what?

Needless to say, I went into the experience pretty blind, with my sights on an un-medicated birth and, naturally, breastfeeding. Things went alright in the hospital; I recall deliriously looking at my new little person and trying to figure out how her tiny little nose could manage to get air while she was pressed up to my breast. I had lactation counseling support and no significant latch issues…except for the fact that I was so innately concerned about my baby getting fed that I would push through pain even if she wasn’t quite latched correctly.

Heading home from the hospital was exciting! And then my milk came in.

I have a vivid memory of ugly crying with my nursing bra unhooked, my enormous (for me) breasts exposed to whichever family member might attempt to help me through my hormonal breakdown. I was healing from the birth, engorged, exhausted, my baby wouldn’t sleep anywhere but in my arms, and the fear of SIDS or some other catastrophe had taken over my thoughts.

Things had definitely gotten real.

Thankfully, after a week or so of baby and I getting to know each other (and sleeping in the middle of the queen mattress without blankets, on my back, with her in the middle of my chest; it worked for her and seemed “safe” enough for my anxiety) we settled into a routine of nursing on demand—basically every 1.5 hours around the clock. It was the only thing that would comfort her and I went with it.

Amidst adjusting to life as parents, my husband and I named my right breast “stink boob” because it would leak more than the other and my nursing pads on that side would get a sour milky scent. We would laugh and it was better than crying over the roller coaster of emotions, physical pain, and exhaustion I had been through postpartum.

Physically, breastfeeding did get easier over time, and I really enjoyed nursing my first-born as a toddler. She called them “nee nees” and offered my breast to many of her stuffed animals and dolls. I breastfed her until she was over two, my second I nursed for eight weeks (another story), and I am still feeding my third child, now a toddler, with my “boobas.”

Marie P.

To share your breastfeeding story, contact us.

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Crawl Before You Walk

I’m about to be very honest with you; it took a lot of courage for me to post this “blooper reel.”

As for why it was made in the first place, and why I decided to release something that’s so goofy, let me explain.
Recently, I had to create several videos of myself promoting my product and company. I was told it would be, and I quote, “Super easy, no big deal, don’t worry, just use your phone.”

Ha!

What you will see in the video is me trying my hardest to create a simple one minute introduction of my company that, in actuality, took me three hours to make. We eventually called it quits because we were literally running out of daylight.

This was my first time being filmed, and it was not an aspect of starting a company that I took into consideration before taking this leap. I think it is safe to say that I don’t think being in the film industry is in my future. However, this experience was so valuable to me, as I learned a few extremely important lessons. First and foremost: I hate being on camera!

Even the set-up itself was uncomfortable. My creative husband duct taped a selfie stick to a tripod and filmed me as I stood tip toed on a child’s stool for better posture and position. I now know that for future filming sessions, I will be comfortably sitting down!

I am one of “those people” who wears their heart on their sleeve. So it came to no surprise that my anxiety and nervousness coupled with the urgency to get it over with is apparent in every take. Most of these “bloopers” are of my husband trying to make me loosen up by just laughing at ourselves and the situation. I love him to death for this!

He was able to help me see that when I get nervous I become really uptight. I then become the dreaded ice queen and she is no fun. It is up to me to create a fun work atmosphere, so I have to let go of my fears and face them. I have to let my guard down in order to be authentic.

Letting everyone see this blooper reel is part of that process. Think of it as ripping a band aid off. I am learning to not take myself so seriously and set realistic expectations. I need to just let go and have fun with it! I hope that this video shows that I am human, and am still in the process of figuring this all out. Being an entrepreneur challenges me, but thanks to my amazing support system, I am able to power through, and accomplish things that are way out of my comfort zone.

You know, my daughter gave up playing with her Legos that day and watched me struggle instead. I will make a point to remember this experience the next time she struggles with her homework, a sport, or something she has to work hard at accomplishing. I hope it will serve as an example to her that it is okay to struggle and not get it right the first time. To keep at it, even if it takes three hours. To step out of her comfort zone and learn something about herself and the people around her. To laugh—to please never forget to laugh. And to remember she has people around her that love her and they are always willing to help.

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