Thursday, August 30, 2012

This blog

I sort of left this blog high and dry. I have been in a funk of sorts, not really sure what it is that I want to do with this blog, with my life. I will be turning 40 in less than two weeks and it is just causing me all sorts of anxiety and stress and unhappiness. Which is bizarre to me, because really I am not that sort of person. I am not one to color my hair, hide my wrinkles, lie about my age... yet here I am upset, crying, anxious and just in a general yucky place.
Part of it, I feel, a big part is due to the fact that so many years ago I had plans of what I wanted to do. I had goals. Now I just sort of float around, lost in the ether not knowing what to do. Is being a LC and a LLL leader all I want to do? If it is, is that ok? Whatx      about my other goals and plans?
So at the moment I am making plans and setting stuff into action and I feel so much better. What are my plans you ask...
Well, so far it is to, in the next 4 years become a LLL leader, a childbirth educator, and a lactation educator. Then, I want to move to Oregon and study to be a midwife. This is something I have wanted to do for years and years, and yet I have been too scared to really try and DO IT!
So, that is the plan. And because now that I feel like I have an actual goal, I think I will be posting here again regularly. :)

Friday, May 25, 2012

My Boobs

I was just realizing this evening that at some point in the next couple of year my breasts will be my own again. I have been pregnant or nursing for over a decade now (that is 10 years people, 10!). And some day, some day Fiona will be done and since we have decided that we are done having children... well wow. I mean this is an organ that I got to see function. I mean, I know my heart is beating and I am guessing my liver is doing what needs to be done because I am alive and everything, but my breasts... well I really have no words. I fed 6 children from them. Isn't that just amazing? I not only was able to carry a baby (or 6) in my womb, but also nourish them. I make milk! I actually make food from my body, I am sorta like a plant!
What will my breast be like when this whole nursing business is done? I can't recall what they were like after Audrey and Logan were both weaned. Because over the last 10 (almost 11) years I have only had about a year where I wasn't breastfeeding someone, and that year isn't even in a row, it is broken up into a couple months here or there, usually at the tail end of pregnancy.
How strange it will be one day to wake up and go about my day and not stop once to breastfeed. I am not really sure how I feel about this. I mean I have time to get use to the idea, Fiona is only 16 months, if she is anything like the last three we have a good 2 years still to go, but still it will happen. One day, we will be done. One day, my breast will no longer make milk, I will no longer nourish a child from my breast.
I am sitting here trying to type out how I feel, but there are no words. It is all so bittersweet. I feel so blessed to have had such an easy time of it. It was truly natural for me, really with the exception of a couple of hiccups here and there I have successfully nourish 6 children, for a total of over 13 years. I know that it isn't always so easy for so many women, that is why I feel so blessed to have had such an amazing breastfeeding journey.
I wanted to add a picture of me nursing, but I have so few of them. That makes me sad. This huge part of my life and no one thought to document it. How many hours have I sat with one of my wee little wonders snuggled up in my lap (or snuggled up next to me in bed), how many gallons of milk have my breasts made? How many more days do I have left? Why aren't there 100's of these pictures? I don't think I do anything else this much (ok, except maybe laundry and sleep).
Still, I know I have tonight, and tomorrow, and days and months left. I guess I needed to remind myself, that this is all so fleeting. That I need to cherish theses moments where I am forced by my wee tiny Fiona Rose, to STOP, SIT, and make milk. To do this one important thing.
I make milk.

Monday, May 21, 2012

If you talk about it...

There seems to be this underlying idea that if you talk about breastfeeding in a good way than you are a "Nazi" of some sort. As far as I can tell, talking about breastfeeding does not make you a killer. How is spreading the information about breastfeeding, talking about your personal joy as a breastfeeder, make you a Nazi?
What if a breastfeeding mother called bottle feeding mothers "formula nazi" and wrote articles in papers and blog post about the nasty, evil bottle feeders who are just as bad as a bunch of killers? It would be a horrible thing. It is a horrible thing.
I feel bad every time i hear the term use. Am I one? Am I one because I talk about breastfeeding? Am I one because I promote breastfeeding? Am I one because I breastfeed a child(ren)? Am I not allowed to discuss my experience?
Sometimes I feel like because my person experiences were not that bad, that I have enjoyed breastfeeding and it has almost always been pretty free of struggle that I am not allowed to talk about it. It only counts if I had a really hard, hard time OR I was unable to actually breastfeed for one reason or another. I have felt this way about my births as well, no one wants to hear that you had a good birth. No one wants to hear that you successfully breastfeed your child.
Although I know that stories of struggle and over coming obstacles are good for people to hear, so that they know that they too might be able to do what feels impossible at that moment... what about those of us who it just worked for? I know that sounds weird, but I want to share my stories as well. Just because it all worked doesn't mean it isn't of value. Or maybe it isn't of value.
I remember right after Audrey was born and I went to a pool party with some classmates (I was in nursing school at the time), and everyone was telling their birth stories. I felt weird, mine was fine... in fact it was great. Everyone told horror stories, they were really scary, had I heard them while I was pregnant, I am not sure I would have felt as confidant going into that birth. And I felt like I couldn't share my story, there was alot of dissing of "natural childbirth". So I just stayed quiet. Which is a shame, I should have felt comfortable about sharing my story as well, even if mine was a happy story.
Just because someone didn't have struggles with breastfeeding doesn't mean they are an ass, and can't feel for those who had struggles. It also doesn't mean they shouldn't share their stories as well.
Maybe it is the internet that promotes the name calling and ugly talk, the idea that you can say whatever you want and hide behind the fact that you never have to see/meet these other people in real life. When people share their stories of being shamed by breastfeeding mothers, I wonder... who are these people? Who are these moms who talk nasty to other moms? Maybe the nasty talk is the moms who nasty talk on the internet. There are so many on either side of the issue. So many who say the ugliest things hide behind the anonymous comment.
What I would love to see is all stories being honored, honored without name calling, nasty jabs, and hurtful comments. That goes for the stories of struggle as well as the stories of success.
Heather Cushman-Dowdee did a great piece and comic on this as well.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Time's Cover

recent time magazine cover
I want to preface this post with a comment: I have no issue what so ever with any family that chooses to practice extended breastfeeding. I have done it myself. Rowan was well over 3 1/2 when he weaned.
Ok with that out of the way...Having not actually read the magazine yet, I am just going to comment on the cover. I have to say I find the cover photograph to be, hmmmm, how to put this, I guess it is suppose to be shocking. I feel like the whole thing with mama standing, toddler on chair dressed in "big kid" clothing and not even touching his mom to sort of make breastfeeding a toddler look "freakish". I don't think it would have had nearly the controversial reaction had the mom been sitting with toddler in footy PJs, both of them touching each other, even if they both were still looking at the camera. Part of me is like "RIGHT ON" she looks bad-ass, with a sort of "go ahead say something to me" sort of look. But than, well it looks so UNLIKE what nursing a toddler is. Of course, my guess is this is what Time Magazine wanted. They wanted to smack people upside the head with this picture, as well as the inflammatory head-line "Are you MOM ENOUGH?" What does that even mean? What it is, is a divisive statement meant to make people feel crappy and get nasty with each other. And by gosh are they! Any place you go to read anything about this cover/issue you find people spreading the hate.
The thing is, nursing a toddler is really an amazing thing. Those little guys are so so busy and these few precious moments when they come to nurse; whether it is because they got hurt, want to nap, or just want to reconnect with you, really help bring you both back to center. It helps you, as the mom focus again on them and if you work outside the home it helps with the coming back together.
When the media makes something so beautiful into some messed up contest of who is the better mother, well we all lose. They keep us fighting with each other instead of coming together to fight for what really is the issue. We have horrible breastfeeding rates in this country. Only 44% of babies get breastfeed for 6 months, and only about 15% of those get exclusively breastfed for six months. The AAP recommends breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months and breastfeeding and food for at least one year. The WHO recommends at least two years. The benefits of breastmilk do not suddenly disappear on the 366 day of a child's life. The milk, which is forever changing to meet your child's needs, continues to do that. It continues to give your child your antibodies to help fight illness. It is still the prefect food, especially during times of illness, because it is so easily digested. It is a true living food.
The real issue isn't the "extreme" mothers who nurse 3 year old's, it is the fact that so many women are not nursing at all. That they do not have the information to make a truly informed choice, that they are not give good support and that they are surrounded by crappy media images of what breastfeeding is. They see fighting, the nasty comments of articles posted about breastfeeding, and media images like the one above with head lines that make you think... AM I? AM I MOM ENOUGH??
My husband had to go to a team building exercise today. He brought home an A&P book that was being given out to everyone. One used in nursing schools. He thought the kids might like it. I check out what they had to say on breastmilk/mammary glands. 4 paragraphs. In a book with well over 500 pages they had 4 paragraphs on how the breast works (which was placed in the smallest chapter: reproduction). This is part of the problem.
Attachment parenting is not the enemy. Breastfeeding a three year old is not the enemy. The enemy is not the mom standing there nursing her 3 year old, it is the idea that that is disgusting that is the problem. The idea that we have been so brainwashed into thinking that nurturing our young is best done at a distance. That some how it is twisted/perverted/strange/gross to even consider nursing a toddler let alone actually doing it. It is ridiculous that we are all happy as clams to see boobs selling cars, beer, food, but feeding a child... well just eeeew.  Breasts serve a duel purpose, they are nice to look at, they make men happy and want to make babies, and than they FEED THE BABIES. Instead of us looking at breasts as the most amazing thing on the earth (I mean really how amazing is it that you can make food from your body. It is a miracle!) we look at them in such a twisted way that the very idea that they can do this miracle is lost on most people in our culture. And that is  the enemy.
What can we do to help promote breastfeeding, offer good education, good support, good help if it is needed to families? How do we combat the idea that nursing is "extreme" parenting? How do we normalize breastfeeding in a culture that still asks women to "cover up" "be modest" "use the bathroom" or even just "leave the area"?
I think the next issue of Time will be the truly telling one, the one where they post the letters to the editor. How ugly will they let those letters be? How nasty will those people get? How much hate, fear, misinformation, and ugliness will come spewing from those pages? I don't even want to venture to guess.
Anyone out there nursing their walking, talking, mouth filled with teeth toddler... god bless you. Fight the good fight, keep doing what you are doing. Maybe one day it won't be "weird" or "extreme" to nurse your toddler in this country.

Edited to add links:

Here are some great links to other well said pieces

The Soapbox: Lazy Parenting
BlogHer: We are all mom enough
Mama Birth: Sexy Breastfeeding
Y! News: Time cover masks problem (only issue with this one is very last sentence. Makes it seem like nursing for comfort is wrong, when that is a major part of breastfeeding all along.)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Support with out the "but"

There is alot of support for breastfeeding, and it is usually followed by a "BUT"... but cover up, but be decent, but don't whip them out. The thing is, you can not simultaneously have an issue with it and say you support it. You either support breastfeeding and all that goes with it, or you do not.
I often wonder about the people who say things like "I think breastfeeding is great, just as long as the mom acts decent..." really? What does that mean exactly? What part is not decent to you? The part where the mother and child actually carry on a life that isn't in a house? Or comments like "It's easy, just cover up." My guess is most of the women who say this either never nursed a baby OR only nursed a very young baby. (OK maybe there are babies who like to eat completely covered up so they can't see their mama's face, I have just not met them yet.)
I can not tell you how it burns my biscuits when I read a nasty comment by a man who say something like, "just don't whip your teats out". LOL My teats?! Really?! And whip them out? How many breastfeeding women has the dude seen? My guess is none. Now maybe there are moms out there that just pop the girls out (which is FINE!) but most women get the baby on the breast and no one sees anything except the back of the babies head.
HEY! Maybe that is it, it isn't the breast people have an issue with, it is the back of a human infant head!
I have been trying harder to not read the comment section on on-line magazines/newspapers, etc because well... the nastiness level is just outrageous even on the most mundane subject; write something on breastfeeding and in public and watch out. The ugliness factor jumps 20 points at least.
I want to state here and now.. I SUPPORT BREASTFEEDING WITH NO BUTS! Use a cover or don't, nurse a newborn or a 4 year old (or older), nurse at home or out in public, anyway you want in whatever way makes you and the baby most comfortable. I love breastfeeding and seeing other mamas do it. The more we see it the more normal it will become again.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Book review

I had promised a book review of this amazing book "The Breastfeeding Cafe" by Barbara L. Behrmann. I really enjoyed this book tremendously. It would be a great book to give a new mom, or really any mom. The stories in the book are honest and heart felt, and the added information and facts on breastfeeding are wonderful.
I liked that not all of the breastfeeding stories were ones of instant success. I think it would give hope to mothers who are struggling to get the whole breastfeeding thing down. Knowing you are not alone in your struggle and reading that others have been able to over come the difficulties or at least find ways around them, felt really empowering.
I think maybe in the future this might be a book I add tp the monthly give away. :)