Posted by Flo On September 14, 2016
This is an article I wrote for another breastfeeding blog a while back, I don’t think I shared it here, hope you enjoy. I need to update it to include my journey with my daughter but that will be a whole new blog.
My breastfeeding journey
My name is Florence Aferi-Gordon. I am a wife, mother to 2 y/o Solomon and 7 month old Sasha and stepmother to 12 y/o Jason. My husband and I are musicians, I sing and play baritone horn, he plays the piano. I am also a model and I enjoy public speaking and writing.
My mother is a mixed African American and my father was Ghanian. I have a sister and a brother both younger, we are all a year a part. I grew up in Detroit, MI and my family moved to Ghana when I was 6. We spoke a few Ghanian languages and as you already can tell, I have a very diverse background. I like to think of myself as bi-cultural. I speak a little bit of Spanish and sign language (learned in the deaf ministry at church) and I love interacting with people from different ethnicities, countries and cultures.
Before I had my son, Solomon, I was sure I was going to breastfeed him. My mother had breastfed us, her mother breastfed her and her other 4 sibling as well, but little did I know the feat in which I had set out to conquer.
Growing up in Ghana, I remember seeing women breastfeeding in the market place, on the streets, ANYWHERE, and it was no surprise that I planned to do the same for my family.
I had Solomon at Providence hospital in Southfield, MI. My niece was also born there the previous fall and my sister in law told me how wonderful of an experience she had so I was expecting the same. Once my son was born, my story turned out completely different.
It took about 12 days for my milk to actually come in. I wasn’t aware that it should’ve come in sooner or even that my son would be fine just getting the colostrum for those few days. I wasn’t encouraged to continue trying to breastfeed for the 3 days I spent in the hospital, I found this to be very frustrating and I was discouraged. The nurse just gave Solomon formula b/c he had lost weight and they were concerned about his blood sugar (I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes in the last 2 weeks of my pregnancy). I remember feeling disregarded and bullied.
I didn’t know to continue to put my son to my breast in the days following once we got home. I was sent home already feeling inadequate and questioning my own natural breast function. So, we continued to formula feed. My brother and his wife were my breastfeeding support team. They coached me, encouraged me to keep at it and around the 3 month mark I was almost exclusively breastfeeding. I started taking fenugreek and baking (and selling) lactation cookies and things were turning around.
When we reached about 6 months I started to have some supply issues b/c I couldn’t keep up with my son’s demand. I almost gave up and just went to formula feeding. I attended a breastfeeding seminar where I heard Ashley Wright (Ms. Wright’s Way) speak and I connected with other moms and learned of a breastfeeding support group at St John’s Providence Hospital in Detroit, MI. I’ve learned so much so far that I began researching the process for becoming a breastfeeding peer counselor and I’ve also decided to nurse my son another year.
This was the beginning of my breastfeeding story with Solomon, we have more experiences to go and there is more to our story to come.
Posted by Flo On March 26, 2015
My family and I drove to Chicago early last month for my 4th Trimester Bodies Project photo shoot and we had a blast! I shot with Ashlee Wells Jackson and Laura Weetzie Wilson in their Chicago studio. I’m glad my husband came along, (and Jason, my stepson) they entertained Solomon while Laura did my makeup and Ashlee started my interview.
In my interview I talked about my first experience with motherhood and what it was like with my first pregnancy. Baby Isaiah, my first son, was diagnosed with Omphilacil, Cystic Hygroma and Trisomy 13 all within the first trimester. The doctors were urging us to terminate the pregnancy but I just couldn’t. For me, the decision to terminate a child’s life all because he wasn’t ‘perfect’ was irrational. I know that there are many mothers who would have and many that do so everyday but for me, it was a difficult conversation. I felt like I had no one to talk to, no one could give me any advice or direction in this matter. Only I could go to God on my son’s behave and petition for his life.
There are lots of people who have sex before marriage and there are lots of children born perfectly healthy, but I knew this probably wouldn’t be the case for me; I knew better than to do what was considered ‘the norm’. Just because everyone sees something as normal doesn’t make it such. Even my husband, who had 3 sons, all born healthy, from women he didnt marry. My father had been telling us this our entire lives, “you can not do what everyone else is doing. You are called to something greater and you must act accordingly”, he would tell us.
Throughout my pregnancy with Isaiah my father would visit me in my dreams, usually after a doctor visit. When we found out we were pregnant I had a dream that I was talking to my father on a cell phone and the call dropped. He called me back and began telling me how much more advanced and better cell phone service was in heaven and we laughed. I remember saying to him, “daddy I’m pregnant!” and him responding, “I know”, before I would wake up from this dream.
I truly believe the reason why my father visited me so much during the first pregnancy was to bring comfort for the inevitable. I appreciated him for bringing comfort. He hasn’t visited me since. I also believe that everything I experience in life isn’t just for me, it is for other people who aren’t as strong or who don’t have the same support. I believe that I am supposed to share and be a light because there are so many people who have experiences in life similar to mine that don’t have anyone to help them through their journey.
Solomon’s due date was my father’s birthday but he was born a week earlier. He looked exactly like my dad when he was born, it was scary! In the weeks and months as he grew he started to look more like me but still like his grandfather; which is funny because I have always been told that I resemble my mother. Solomon just looks like a browner version of me now.
From this project my family was able to take a family trip, share our story and get some great pictures. I was able to get a little more resolve and understanding about my process and how to continue to heal from all of the negativity I have associated with it.
Check out our story and the fabulous stories of other mothers on the 4th Trimester Bodies Project website,
find them on Facebook by searching
‘4th Trimester Bodies Project’,
and on Instagram by searching
Posted by Flo On March 26, 2015
I’ve been so busy with other projects that I’ve neglected to blog! See, the problem is, I’m a ‘mobile person’. I’m always on the go, I seldom sit down for extended periods of time so its easier to blog from my cell phone than it is from a laptop. Once I’ve written my thoughts out in my notes on my phone the whole cloud thing can be a bit confusing so I usually end up losing what I’ve written. It has been very frustrating! Im happy to see so many positive notes from people who have come across my blog, it keeps me motivated to keep it going. I never really thought anyone would want to hear what I had to share, my experiences my journey…
In the last few months I’ve been finishing up some crochet projects that I started for baby shower gifts and Ive learned to make a few new items. Im experimenting with making fedoras since Solomon’s pseudo grandmother loves them. I wanted to crochet her one with a scarf for christmas but time got away from me. Im still baking the lactation cookies as well, and I’ve connected with NormalizeBreastfeeding.org, I admin their Detroit, MI group page on Facebook now.
I was initially drawn to the groups facilitator Vanessa Simmons after reading a writeup done on her I read ( I think it was in the Huffington Post, I don’t remember). She’s a photographer, a mother, wife and she is also Ghanian American just like I am. I reached out to her, sharing my similar background and the rest is history!
If you are in the Detroit Metro area join us!
Posted by Flo On December 9, 2014
I can never understand for the life of me WHY PEOPLE NEED TO TOUCH MY BABY!!! Especially if you are a complete stranger. WHY? I had a lady recently go completely off on me, calling me a B*&%h all because I wouldn’t let her hold my 9 month old son. I was out with my family and my husband had to ask her twice to lower her voice discussing me. My 10 year old could hear her calling me out of my name and kept asking, “mom is she talking about you??” I mean seriously?!?!?! I know my son is a cutie but I thought I had a few years before I had to worry about crazy women!
Just last week I was in Meijers and a stock lady tried to touch Solomon! SHE WAS JUST STOCKING SHELVES!!! I stopped her by politely saying no touch, no touch then explaining to her how she had just been stocking shelves and we don’t know what germs are on her hands. She was apologetic and understanding. The next isle over I had a similar conversation with an older foreign woman who asked why she couldn’t touch my child. I explained to her, also politely, that she is a stranger and i didn’t allow strangers to handle my child. Also that she didn’t NEED to touch him, especially his hands because he puts them in his mouth.
Just yesterday a cashier tried to shake Solomon’s hand, he wasn’t even reaching for her. I stopped her a bit more abrasively. Then the customer behind me said, ” My daughter was a germophobe too with her first child, this must be your first one.” I ignored her the first time she said this and finished paying for my items. The second time she mentioned me being a ‘germophobe’ I replied, “m more of a strangerphobe than a germophobe. See, neither of you know me nor my child yet you felt it was acceptable behavior to just walk right up to him and try to touch him. That, is weird to me. you can’t just go touching other people’s children and expect them to be okay with it.” Then we walked out. I felt it was very rude for her to start name calling all because she couldn’t have her way with my child.
Some of this conversation you would think is common knowledge but clearly not. I don’t understand why the concept of being a stranger and touching a baby you don’t know is odd. Lots of people touch all sorts of nasty things and spread everything from the cold to, as a girlfriend of mine in college would say, the crup! I don’t care who doesn’t get anything, I can’t control the world but I can control who wants to interact with my baby.
Here is a video I saw on Steve Harvey that I am going to start emulating! the next stranger that touches my son, Im going to just scream!!!! lol!!!!
Posted by Flo On December 8, 2014
I know this may seem like common knowledge but a lot of new parents like myself, only do some of what we have seen. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out shopping and see a parent with a child in a carseat atop a shopping cart. I never knew it wasn’t safe until recently. I have been shopping many times with my son but i choose to put him in the actual shopping cart because he is less visible to strangers and its more difficult for them to touch him. Strangers touching my child is my biggest pet peace and another blog in itself!!!! I hope you find this information useful and please share it with other parents.
Posted by Flo On December 8, 2014
So I recently learned about a the 4th Trimester Body Project through social media and was very interested in participating. For those of you who may be unaware, it is project photographs moms and their children and gives each mom a chance to tell her story. Many of the moms stories that read talked about their plight with challenging pregnancies, prior loss of pregnancies and breastfeeding challenges.
Imagine how elated I was to find out that they were doing a tours and would be working with mothers in various cities! I sent in an application for a scholarship for a shoot, but even if I had to scratch and save to participate I would. As i drafted my scholarship letter and began sharing a bit of my story I started thinking about how many other mothers could become empowered or inspired by what I had accomplished and decided to make my application letter an open one. I hope anyone who reads it is touched, encouraged and inspired.
Dear Ms. Wells,
Thank you so much for your response to my inquiry about the 4th Trimester Body Photoshoot!
I am very much interested in this project because I’ve learned so much about myself after becoming a mother! There is so much that we as women don’t learn until we have carried a life and there is sometimes parts we won’t or can’t learn “until” they happen.
Whenever I am asked to tell my story I never quite know where to begin.
I am a new mother from Detroit, MI. I was raised in what I have always liked to call a “bicultural environment” because my father was from Ghana, West Africa and my mother is an African America from a mixed background. I spent most of my childhood in Accra, Ghana, my mother is a seamstress and my father was a reverend. I have a brother and a sister and we all spoke three different languages while living in Ghana. I, as well as my husband are musicians and I have been playing instruments and singing since I was in grade school. I play the baritone horn And my husband plays the piano. We are a blended family so I have 3 older sons that are 14, 12 and 10 and our youngest together is 9 months old. (Yes, ALL BOYS!!!!) in addition to being a new mother, and wife, I am also a singer, songwriter and model. I enjoy writing and public speaking and mentoring young people.
I never would’ve imagined that my life would’ve trended in this direction but I couldn’t be any happier because it is filled with love, family and music.
Most of my life was spend as a chubby or overweight person. Although I was very outgoing and had lots of friends, I was frequently teased for being the fat kid in school. By the time I reached college I was over 300 lbs. At about 25 years old, I was admitted to the hospital for chest pains and my blood sugar tested near 1000. I was told a week or so later that I had type II diabetes and the chest pains I felt were a mild heart attack. I wasn’t even 30 yet! By this time my father, who was also overweight, had already had 2 triple bypass heart surgeries to unclog arteries in his heart and he was in his early 50s. I remember feeling very scared, I know that I didn’t want to live the rest of my life in similar conditions that I had already witnessed most of my family in; pill after pill, surgery after surgery, loosing fingers, toes and even limbs. I knew I needed to do something and that something had to happen fast! I had years left ahead of me and many things to accomplish but I was already tipping the scale at about 350 lbs. I remembered thinking at 250, “well I’m not gonna see 300lbs…” Then at 350 saying “Jesus! I don’t want to see 400!”
I had exhausted every avenue to loose weight and everything I had done had not yielded me the results I needed to get healthy. Eventually I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (a condition in which a woman has an imbalance of a female sex hormones. This may lead to menstrual cycle changes, cysts in the ovaries, trouble getting pregnant, and other health changes,) and was told that I wouldn’t be able to conceive naturally or even carry a pregnancy full term if I did conceive. I didn’t believe the doctors and, eventually I did get pregnant but that baby didn’t make it full term as they had warned me. I was not prepared to become a mother either at that point, I was just a college senior and I was also unmarried.
After years of yo-yo dieting and back and forth weight loss/gain; I finally started the process for weight loss surgery. I had gastric bypass in 2008 and over the next 2 years I lost 147 lbs. I began modeling and focusing on music to deal with life’s hurts and the losses of my grand mother (kidney disease) and father prostate/liver/stomach cancers).
I met my husband at a local open mic spot in Detroit and we dated for about 6 months before we got engaged and married about a year later. While we were engaged, we became pregnant but lost that baby at 17 weeks and it was devastating. Here I was, had conquered the weight issues, my diabetes was in remission, I was no longer a candidate for polycystic ovarian syndrome and now my baby had cyclic hygroma, omphilacil and trysome 13!! During this time I started to gain back because of emotional eating. The music had gone silent, there was no motivation to feel beautiful, take pictures do fashion shows or anything. A depression settled in and lasted nearly a year.
Having the support of my husband and my family I got back into the gym and began exercising and losing weight again. I had about 25 lbs to lose to get back to my pre-wedding weight and that paled in comparison to the 147 lbs I had originally lost. About 15 lbs down we found out We were having our rainbow baby Solomon! He was born March 8, 2014.
I was very nervous with this pregnancy because of what I had experienced with the previous ones. I experienced a new list problems, from physical ones like sciatica to situational ones like job termination due to attendance. I was back and forth on names, crying all the time about the previous pregnancy, and praying all the time for a healthy baby boy.
When I was about 7 months pregnant my husband and I were having a conversation about David, Bathsheba and Solomon from the bible. I was familiar with the stories but I never knew (or at least didn’t remember) the connection between the three of them. David wanted Bathsheba so he sent her husband off to war to be killed. They conceived a child while her husband was at war which died. After she mourned her husbands death she and David got married and had a son they named Solomon who later went on to become King Solomon. The back story to this and the connection between my husband and this story is: When we were engaged, not yet married, we conceived a sone who passed. After we got married we were blessed with a miracle baby, I couldn’t decide between Samuel or Solomon but later decided I liked Solomon. After hearing this story I knew that Solomon was his name!
My story may not differ from other mothers but I really would love an opportunity to do 4th trimester body photo shoot because as a breastfeeding mother and advocate, a model and a woman this will show other women who may be battle some of those same issues that they can conquer them! Being overweight, having reproducing challenges, loosing weight & getting heathy, getting married& pregnant, gaining some weight back, loosing it again, and again and again….it can be done!!
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I hope that it touches you and helps you in your consideration for this scholarship.
Posted by Flo On September 22, 2014
I learned last tuesday at a moms support group that you aren’t supposed to use tap water to make formula bottles for babies. You can boil the water, let it cool, THEN use it but definitely not hot water run from the tap due to possible lead contamination. How does something like this NOT get out to people? New moms? I have NO literature that speaks to this! Out of all the crap the hospital gave me, I got from prenatal visits etc. I was very upset to learn this 6 months into becoming a new mom! Please don’t make the same mistake!
Posted by Flo On September 12, 2014
So, I was checking in with a friend who recently had a baby and planned to breastfeed. I asked her how things were going with breastfeeding and she told me she hadn’t started yet because (she thought) her milk hadn’t come in. I had all sorts of questions after she said that but I didn’t want to come across pushy or a know it all so I just shared a few things I knew would help her like skin to skin.
One thing I know I hated (and still do) is unsolicited parental advice. I was terribly frustrated because I think the hospital has pushed formula on her but I had no facts.
I went to my resources to confirm what I knew, then I felt the need to share information for any other new mom, hence, another blog!
The best thing to do is have baby on your chest, skin to skin and allow baby to explore and self latch. Sometimes this takes a few mins or it can take longer, we have to be patient. Ask for a lactation consultant if you are concerned, the hospital where I had my son had one on staff. Also, nursing should not be painful. If you have constant nipple pain get the lactation consultant. Most insurances will cover seeing a lactation consultant but just to be sure call ahead of time. Also most hospitals (in Michigan) will have one on staff.
Colostrum is a form of milk produced by the mammary glands in late pregnancy. Colostrum is baby’s first food. This helps coat the baby’s stomach and gives them their first immunizations! Its full of good stuff to help protect baby.
Nurse baby often as in the first days baby’s stomach is no bigger than a marble! A MARBLE! So colostrum is easily digested and so is breastmilk.
You milk should come in within a day or so but every woman is different, mine took nearly 14 days. I wasn’t aware that the time for milk production can vary so I left the hospital feeling very discouraged and inadequate.
Pumping is a great option if you cant get to baby right away, if baby is in distress or if you are having lots of trouble getting baby to latch.
Just like with any other new task in life, if at first you don’t succeed, TRY TRY AGAIN!
I found this chart helpful after the fact but hopefully it can help anyone reading this currently. https://babiesfirstlactation.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/the-newborns-stomach/
Posted by Flo On September 10, 2014
Posted by Flo On September 3, 2014
Hey there world!!! My name is Flo (Aferi) Gordon, I am a 30 something new mommy, a wife, a model, a singer and I love to bake and cook. Recently I’ve decided to take my love of baking to a new level so I’ve been practicing decorating cakes for different occasions. I’ve also started a new business venture called “Fancy Fancy Treats” and the first item is Lactation Cookies. I make them in three flavors so far, Oatmeal Raisin, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Butterscotch. New flavors are soon to come! Essentially Lactation Cookies are designed to help breast-feeding women produce more milk to nurse their babies.
I had my son Solomon this past March and I learned after the fact that I was totally unprepared for breastfeeding. I didn’t understand how it all worked. The hospital forced formula on me without even giving me a chance to get the whole milk-production-baby-latch thing going, and I felt very discouraged. It wasn’t until a few months later when I sought out support through various breast-feeding mothers groups that I learned what I was doing wrong.
I began to research natural ways to increase milk supply so that I could move away from formula feeding my son and I also wanted to build a stash of milk for a possible return to the work force. I learned about the benefits of lactation cookies, fenugreek, mothers milk tea (all of which I take now)and I’ve seen drastic improvement. I also learned that many black women don’t breastfeed, and when I saw the statistics I was alarmed and I felt compelled to do something to educate not only black women but women in general about breastfeeding.
I started posting on all of my social networking sites advocating breastfeeding and its benefits for mom and baby and I actually follow the advice that I write. My husband and I decided that since I had been fired from my last employer for attendance and performance (due to pregnancy complications) that it was time to turn this new found interest into a business, hence, the birth of FancyModelFlo.com, Fancy Fancy Treats.