A sea of babywearing, breastfeeding, and shopping!
I've been curious about MommyCon for a couple years now, but never seemed to remember the event in time to grab a ticket before it inevitably sold out. This year, the event venue changed just a couple months prior to the big day and more tickets were sold for a short period. So, I jumped on the opportunity and on Saturday, November 14th, 2015, I grabbed a bunch of business cards and postcards, the most dreadfully uncomfortable shoes I never thought through, and a camera before excitedly driving to the Anaheim Marriot, near Disneyland.
My doula partner, Mary McDonald, had been asked to work the event as a Child Passenger Safety Tech, answering parents' questions &
teaching snippets about car seat safety at a booth throughout the day. What a treat that ended up being, as she got to be front and center when The Baby Guy NYC, Jamie Grayson, did Q&A sessions at the Baby Guy Gear Area. Many of the women (and their likely-worn babes) lined up solely for the purpose of getting a photo with this Mommy-World celebrity, but a few had great questions about products that Jamie addressed in his ever-honest, zero-shits-given manner. He tells it like he sees it, which consumers obviously appreciate: he's got over 40,000 followers on Twitter and well over 200,000 fans on Facebook! His website boasts dozens of product reviews, with especially helpful videos that break down the ins and outs of strollers, car seats, and baby gadgets.
The final presentation of the day, Car Seat Safety, was led by Jamie as well (who is a CPST himself),
One of the day's highlights for me was the Exposing the Silence Project: From Trauma to Strength presentation by Lindsey Askins. She's a professional photographer, doula, and birth advocate living in San Diego who joined Cristen Pascucci, founder of Birth
Monopoly and Vice President of ImprovingBirth.org, to bring the voices and stories of women who experience trauma during childbirth to the attention of the public. I had been following this project for months in awe, admiration, and disgust-a crazy combination of emotions that you probably won't understand unless you take a trip through their gallery. Needless to say, I was super pumped about hearing Lindsey speak, asking questions about how doulas can help prevent birth trauma, and learning more about the types of trauma that occur during childbirth. And this discussion did not disappoint; she taught the audience what obstetric violence is, implored women and families to understand the universal medical definition of informed consent, and opened up a forum for birthers in the audience to discuss specific trauma they had experienced while birthing. Though difficult to listen to at times because of the nature of the topic, I learned so much from this 45-minute session that I wished it had been a whole day experience (hint, hint, nudge, nudge). I know I'm not the only person whose event ticket price was well worth it if only to attend this workshop!
The vendor exhibitor hall wasn't my favorite part of MommyCon Anaheim, but I'm sure that has something to do with the brain overload I was experiecing. So many things to look at, people to pass by, baby carriers to admire...overwhelming for this convention newbie for sure. A few really cool booths stood out, so I'd like to highlight them here. Mary took a liking to embe, whose booth was a big hit in the crowd because they had adult-sized swaddle displays for demonstration and hilarity purposes. She really loved the soft texture, the well-thought-out design, and the fact that they have an organic version as well.
Mary pleaded with me to try one on so I could feel the comfort for myself, but taking photos of her being silly is much more my bag. Hope you enjoy watching her get wrapped up while explaining how normal and comfy she felt as much as I did!
Amanda (lft) & Mary (rt) Amanda (lft) & Jamie-Lynn (rt)
Amanda, Jamie Grayson, & Mary
MommyCon Anaheim 2015 general admission gift bag contents
My thoughts on the event, keeping in mind that I'm not a mom, was mostly there for resources for my doula clients, and am local to OC:
1) The vendors weren't what I wanted to see. They were mostly out-of-state based brands and national or international brands. I'd have preferred more locally sourced talent and ingenuity. Perhaps this just isn't a convention geared toward local products and services, but I was wishing it was almost the whole time. I also got really bored of the lack of diversity in booths; I counted three large-scale babywearing gear companies (not including the babywearing station where people tried out new carriers), three or four cloth diaper companies, and a handful of natural baby and family skin-care product companies. This in a room that I would estimate had less than 30 vendors total.
2) To my surprise, most of the attendees were not actually from Orange County. Almost every one of the families I spoke with were from the Inland Empire area, with a few LA exceptions, and even fewer OC exceptions. Volunteers were local, so I saw a few familiar faces in the crowd. But as far as the potential to educate local people about doulas, childbirth choices, and my business, the event was a bust. I definitely wouldn't spend money advertising or sitting at a booth unless I had a nation-wide business.
3) The presentations were rad. I only had the time and energy to attend two workshops in total, but I sat in on the beginning or end of more than half and heard some great info & support being spread. My only gripe was that most were discussions with minimal props. I wish there had been projectors, eye catching diagrams, photos taped up...something for the non=auditory learners out there. I think this would have been especially helpful as the rooms were filled with children at various ages and loudness levels.
4) The layout of the event was annoying in total. The large exhibitor room made sense enough, but I never actually came across the breastfeeding lounge and you had to go on a hunt for the gift bag room. Definitely glad they'll be in a new space next year as this one didn't do my poorly dressed feet any favors!
Overall, I had fun and would go again. I can see why this is a fun event for the mamas out there, though I felt for all the littles...twas a long day for those that stayed strapped to their moms for the whole event!
It looks like MommyConOC 2016 tickets are already on sale. Will I see you there next August?