Brooke Unger, Columbus, Ohio, USA
There have been three generations of Leaders in my family; my grandmother Judy Good, my mother Jennifer Good Spires, my aunt Joyce Good Henderson and myself. I am very proud to share our story!
My grandmother, Judy Good, became a Leader in 1963 and was active until her death in 2006. She was the first La Leche League Leader outside Illinois. She was also the first Area Coordinator of Leaders for Ohio, the first Director of Eastern United States and was president of the LLLI Board of Directors. My grandmother was also instrumental in founding the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) the independent international certification body conferring the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®) credential, and helped draw up the very first board exam for that organization. One of my favorite stories from my grandmother was when Grace Kelly came to Chicago, USA for an international LLL conference in 1971 and Grandma was her assistant throughout the whole conference. She ensured Her Highness made it to all her sessions and meals and had anything she needed. She used to fondly recall that Grace Kelly was very sweet and polite and had a wonderful sense of humor.
My grandfather, Dr. Jim Good, helped La Leche League form the first Professional Advisory Board and served on that Board until his death in 1985. He had research published on the iron sufficiency of human milk and traveled internationally speaking to physicians and mothers about the importance of breastfeeding.
Jennifer Good Spires
Following in my grandmother’s footsteps, my mother Jennifer Good Spires was a Leader from 1980 until she retired in 1997. She was a District Advisor and an Area Conference Supervisor in Richland County, Ohio. My mother served as a secretary to her parents and did their filing, typed their correspondence, and opened and sorted their mail. Jennifer recalls:
Growing up in a La Leche League family was wonderful. I took it for granted that everyone breastfed and was shocked to find out it was actually unusual at that time. I didn’t know nursing in public was frowned upon until after my second baby was born. I attended many La Leche League conferences with my mother as a babysitter for my youngest brother. I used to help serve lunch and entertain toddlers during meetings. The first Ohio Area Conferences were called Leaders’ Meetings and were held in my parents’ family room until the group grew too large. I learned so much during those years. When I became a registered nurse, I assisted my dad with his research on anemia and breastfed babies.
Joyce Good Henderson
My aunt Joyce Good, was a teenager when her mother, Judy, became a Leader and she attended many meetings to help with the toddlers. Years later, my aunt adopted an eight-and-a-half-month-old baby and tried to breastfeed, but he was unfamiliar with a human breast and was not interested. Five months later, her daughter Shawn was born. She didn’t have a local LLL Group at that time, but my grandmother helped her get started with breastfeeding.
I became a Leader when my baby Shawn was about six months old* and launched several Groups with my friend Ruth Ridolfo before I moved to Kentucky.
When Shawn was two and a half years old, along came Jeremy via a home birth. My dad provided great support when I had postpartum depression after Jeremy’s birth and Jeremy had pyloric stenosis that caused him to projectile vomit after each feeding. Mother wasn’t available when I called for help, so my father stepped up and gave me exactly the right advice and comfort!
I had two more daughters Heather and Megan, and am pleased that all three of my daughters nursed their babies. My daughter-in-law is currently nursing her seventh baby and I have 15 grandchildren in all.
In 1995, my mother and I wrote a book together for LLLI, A Special Kind of Parenting which offered the support and experiences of many LLL parents who had parented children with disabilities. I wrote and edited many of the information pamphlets offered by LLLI and was a frequent contributor to newsletters and magazines. Thirty years later, my sisters, daughters, and our daughters-in-law collaborated on a book for mothers called Help! My Baby Didn’t Come with an Instruction Manual! The book offers the wisdom, humor and tips that we received from our parents, and have learned from parenting our own children and grandchildren. The values we learned and continue to practice have definitely been passed from generation to generation to generation in the Good family!
One of four breastfed siblings, I became a Leader in 2014, in Richland County, Ohio. I attended my first LLL Series Meeting—as a mother—when my daughter Amelia was about a week old. I made my mother come with me because I was so nervous and shy, but right away I knew I had found my tribe. I remember going to meetings with my mom as a child and playing in the middle of the circle of mothers. I remember winding myself up in the long knotted phone cord while mom was taking helping calls. I probably learned to read by snooping in her record of phone calls! I was so curious why she seemed to be on the phone for so long!
*The requirement today is for Leader Applicants to have breastfed for about a year before completing accreditation. However in 1973 when Joyce was accredited the requirements were slightly different.
Brooke Unger became a Leader in 2014 in Richland County, Ohio. She is married to husband Garrett, they have a four-year-old daughter Amelia and are expecting a new baby in March.