Archive for the ‘Lactivism’ Category
The other week a mother in Houston was harassed when breastfeeding her child while shopping at Hollister. A ton of moms got together and staged nurse-ins all around the country. Some moms at a mall in Delaware were harassed by mall security at the nurse-in!
I took my Little Prince to a local one. There were only three of us moms there, but that’s okay. We just sat around in the chairs at the entrance to the store and breastfed our children. Man, the music they play there is LOUD. The only thing that happened was that a store manager came out and told us we couldn’t take pictures (after I took one of another mom – it’s picture #12 here) due to it being their storefront or something. Whatever.
We were there for about half an hour, but it’s nice to know that we were part of something bigger.
Maybe by the time my son is an adult we’ll all get over this crazy hang-up our society has about breastfeeding and see it as a normal thing. Until then I’ll continue to do my part to help normalize breastfeeding wherever I can and to give thumbs-ups to moms I see nursing in public (which I’ve done at the outlet mall and at the Houston airport).
There has been a lot of talk recently about Attachment Parenting (AP). Most recently this picture graced the cover of Time, causing shock (as it was intended to) on both sides of the issue.
It may come as no shock to those who know me, but in my household, we practice AP. Here are the eight principles of AP. I just sort of fell into AP naturally. My parents practiced many of these things back in the 80s before there was a term for it because it “felt right” to my mother (she says that we should call AP “natural parenting” since everything else is outside of what is normal in most of the world and for most of human history). These principles also feel right to me. I am also thankful for a friend who passed on her copy of The Baby Book (which I’ve mostly read through) because it gave me the term to use for doing what felt right to me and helped me find others who parent the way I want to.
I had a natural birth at a birthing center. We breastfeed, which I plan on doing until it is something LP and I both decide is no longer for us.
We co-sleep, which makes it so much easier as a working mom of a baby who reverse-cycled at about 4 months to get any sleep.
We practice babywearing. LP loves being worn (most of the time) by either parent. And it sure can make doing things like shopping, housework, or even playing WoW (once he’s asleep) easier. We also have a stroller, which we do use for things like long walks to the park.
Recently I borrowed from the library and read Beyond the Sling by Mayim Bialik. It was interesting to read her book. I really liked her voice and the way she told her story. When I was reading bits about parts that I agreed with already, I found myself nodding my head or saying “yes! exactly!” out loud (good thing I read it while pumping in the Mother’s Room at work so there was no one around to hear me). There were some things that were a little “out there” for me, such as Elimination Communication (which sounds cool…but we’re renting a place with lots of carpets and I know it’s something daycare would never go for) and lots of holistic medicine. I did love her chapter on gentle discipline (also known as positive parenting), which I made Darius read. I actually got out from the library the book on Gentle Discipline that she recommends in her resources section. My two biggest take-aways from her book was the idea of not saying no, but saying “Not for LP, but this over here is for LP” instead and when the kid starts to cry when hurt asking in a caring tone “hurt, surprised, or both?”
Does AP work for everyone? No. Does it work for us? Yes. One of the biggest tenants that I’ve noticed amongst AP people and La Leche League people is that they are aware that every family and every mother is different and so they say do what you can and what works best for you and for your child. No need to be “mom enough.”
Part Two: Attachment Parenting and the working mom.
I’ve been reading a lot of articles and responses to the articles about the February 6th “Nurse-Ins” at the various Facebook offices around the world. I’ve noticed one question that people keep asking in the comments is “Why is it so important for you to post these pictures of such an intimate moment?” I’m going to do my best to try and answer that question here.
I want to start by changing one word in the question. I want to change “intimate” to “normal.” Intimate implies an done privately between two people in a closed setting in a cherishing way. For any mom who is trying to feed a screaming one week old at 2am and trying to find her nipple shield because he’s having latching trouble, and it’s dark and you’re over-tired, this act is anything but intimate. Frustrating is what comes to mind. For any mom who’s out and about and who has a hungry kid, and decides to feed him right there in public, while sweet, this is not intimate. Natural comes to mind. For any mom who is sitting for over an hour while her child nurses himself to sleep, but she knows he’ll wake up screaming if she tries to stop the nurse-nap, this is not intimate (at least not after half an hour). Lonely comes to mind (if no one else is there for her to talk to) or distracted (if she is watching tv or surfing the net). But all of these moments are normal. Because all of them happen in the normal course of a breastfeeding mother’s life. Are there private moments where she looks at her child and is overcome by love and affection and amazement at how she can feed a tiny thing with only her breasts? Of course. But in my experience they are a lot rarer than some literature would have us believe.
Now, why would someone want to take pictures of such a normal activity and why would we want to post it on the internet? Because it is a part of our normal activity and we want to share it with our family and friends. The quotes in this article explain it even more eloquently than I can, so I’ll pause for a moment so you can go read it. Done? Ok, let’s move on.
Looking back on it, out of the over 400 photos of LP I’ve put up on Facebook (this is what happens when you don’t live near your family and you have the first grandbaby) only about 16 pictures are of me actually breastfeeding LP. That’s less than 4% of the pictures. I’ve posted a large number of pictures of him sleeping blissfully post-nurse in a “milk-drunk” state, but very few (comparatively) of him engaged in the act of nursing. After the event on Monday I’ve posted two more.
I want to explain the story behind five of the photos, why they were taken, and why I chose to post them.
I believe this to be the very first breastfeeding photo I posted:
This is the very second time I ever breastfed my Little Prince. He was no more than 10 or 11 hours old. It was right before we were about to take him home from the Birthing Center. That look on my face is a look of relief that he is nursing at all. We had trouble with his latch and my nipples in the beginning, so this good nurse was a very important part of the day for me. As you can see, there are at least two other people around us (my sister’s legs are in the photo, so she must be watching, and someone had to take the picture). Plus right before this there was at least one midwife around helping us. And another midwife came in the middle of this feeding to say hi. So, not sure how intimate it is. Also is part of the “First Day” set of photographs, as it was something that happened on day my Little Prince was born. As you’ll notice from that set, there are a lot of times my nipple is showing in a photo and I either blurred it out or covered it up with a big purple dot. Why was my nipple showing in so many pictures? Because I gave birth naked in a tub (you can even see the edge of the tub in this picture). However, there is a lot less skin showing in this picture than in many of the others.
So why did I post it? Because it was a natural part of the day my son was born. Because it was a moment that happened in that day, along with holding him, making silly faces at him, bathing him, and falling asleep with him in my arms. I didn’t even think “should I or shouldn’t I post this.” It just made sense to, along with everything else.
As almost any breastfeeding mom can tell you, sometimes you end up nursing in really funny positions.
In this case, my little prince had just started to figure out how to sit up (he was just shy of 5 months). So what happens? He latches on while sitting up, without me having to hold him. I tell my hubby to grab the camera and do a “look-ma-no-hands” kind of thing. I think the look on my face is priceless. It’s a pretty far cry from many of those intimate breastfeeding images we see.
I posted it because, well, it was funny. At least I thought it was funny. Looking back now, I’m actually more impressed that I was willing to post a picture showing my post-pregnancy belly much more than I was at showing my child breastfeeding. In fact, most of the skin you see in this picture is a baby in a diaper and my belly.
This next photo was posted for educational/desiring for kudos purposes. It is of me successfully nursing in my Moby wrap:
While I love love love my Moby wrap, one of the things I’ve never been good at is figuring out how to breastfeed LP in one. Oh I watched videos and tried a bunch, but I never could get the hang of it. Until one day it all clicked. So once he was settled, I took a picture to prove that I could do it. I’m still not great at Moby nursing and now that LP is older, if I have to nurse hands-free, I tend to use the Ergo instead. But at least I can say that I did it.
I posted this picture because I was proud of the fact that I finally got something that had plagued me for so long. Also so that other moms could see how it was done. BTW, if I hadn’t told you he was nursing in this photo, would you have even known?
Ok, I’ll admit it, I do have one “political” picture that I posted before the Nurse-In:
This was taken back in August, during World Breastfeeding Week. I took it and posted it to show my support of breastfeeding and how important I think it is. Although all the caption said was “Happy Breastfeeding Week.” I like how LP’s nose is all smushed against my breast in this picture.
Lastly, this is my favorite picture I’ve taken (so far) of breastfeeding LP:
Ok, I’ll admit it, this looks a lot like an intimate moment. It actually started out as a funny moment. LP was nursing to sleep one evening and placed his hand on my other breast, as if to say “I’m using this one now, but I’m saving that one for later.” I wanted to get a picture of that. Then I decided that I should be looking at him and not the camera. Somehow I caught this. I think it’s absolutely beautiful. The composition is nice, the lighting is just right, and the look on my face is a cross between loving and amused. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if I could have someone turn this into a painting for me to hang in my house, I would. It reminds me of many of the beautiful pieces of art of breastfeeding mothers that I’ve seen over the years.
I’ll also admit that I wasn’t sure about posting this one to Facebook at first. Because it is such an intimate moment. Because only for the grace of LP’s hand is it within their terms of service. Because I’m naked and my boobs look huge. But I did it anyway, not to make a statement, but because I thought it was so beautiful and would make a good painting. I was actually nervous that I’d get some negative comments, of the type I am seeing in the comments in news article after news article about the Nurse-In, after I posted it. I guess I’m lucky that my friends and family are so supportive because I got nothing but “lovely pic” and “it would make a good painting” comments from them.
And just to prove a point, here is a picture of my Little Prince falling asleep at the dinner table after sort of eating avocado:
Other than I’m not in the picture, I’m not really sure how this is any different than one of him nurse-napping or dream-feeding from my breast.
Yesterday Little Prince and I protested the way that Facebook handles breastfeeding pictures by attending a Nurse-In in front of the Facebook office in downtown Austin.
It started almost like any other weekday. I got up before LP, showered, and ate. But this time I also spent time checking the internet for news of the nurse-ins that were happening all over the world and also seeing if there were any last minute planning things to get done. Eventually LP woke up and I giggled and played with him in bed for a bit before changing him into a cloth diaper/cover and putting him in his outfit for the day. We played around for a while and I slowly got things ready. Eventually he had his morning poop (he’s a morning pooper) and it was almost time to go, so I changed him from cloth to a disposable. I was getting the last few things ready and LP was on the kitchen floor torturing the boy-cat, when I heard the unmistakeable sound of another poopsplosion. I scoop the boy up and head upstairs with him to change him. Without thinking about it, I put him on my hip. Next thing I know I feel wetness through the three shirts I’m wearing. Oh yeah, I’d squished the poop out of the diaper and through his pants, onto me. It was all over the special shirt I’d ordered just for this. Clean up baby, clean up mommy, change our outfits, bundle us up and we’re finally out the door (still on time).
We head downtown and I’m actually pretty nervous. Find parking close to the building the Austin Facebook office is in, put time on the meter and head over to the building right at 10am. I pick up a reporter from the Statesman on my way over. There are two moms out there already. They’re surprised that the building wouldn’t let us in, but that’s how the Austin rules go. Very soon after a few more moms show up. We had about a dozen moms/supporters come through throughout the time we were there. We just hang out in the chilly weather (it was about 45° F out) talking about being a mom and what we’re doing. We talk to the reporter too. Another reporter from KVUE shows up. He says that they want to come back with other people and put us on the 6pm news. I promise that we’ll be around at 11am. I’m trying to talk to people and take pictures and tweet/Facebook and keep up with other events and take care of my baby all at the same time. It’s a little hectic and I’m no longer nervous to be there, but proud to be supporting a cause I believe in so strongly. I did manage to nurse him a bit while we were out there .
At some point some nice women from Facebook come down with water bottles for us and Facebook hats for the little ones. My co-organizer gives them the letter she wrote explaining why she is doing this. We also make sure the news people get copies of the letter. At 10:45 many of the moms want to leave, but I explain to them that another news crew is coming and to please wait just a bit. At 11am the other news crew shows up. They take some pictures and interview three of us (myself included). We all leave around 11:30am.
Stop by Darius’s work to say hi and find out that there was already a segment on about us on the 11am news! Head home and LP totally passes out. Eat lunch and check the networking sites. I see on one of the protest Facebook groups that a news reporter from Austin is looking to talk to a mom who was at the protest. I give him my number. He calls me right after LP finished his lunch-nurse. I try to sound more articulate with some of the answers that I came up with for the first interview after I was in the car heading home. I hope I do.
I head out with LP and run some errands. On the way home from the last one, I actually hear a quick sound bit of my interview on the radio. A bit about how breasts are sexual, but they are also used for feeding babies, which is their primary function. The DJ then goes on to talk about the overly sexy/sexist Super Bowl ads.
I watch the 6pm news. Sure enough, I’m on it. It makes me really happy that we’re newsworthy enough to be getting this kind of attention!
Local news reports of the Nurse-In:
- KVUE 11am News (you can see my back)
- KVUE 6pm News (I’m being interviewed here)
- KLBJ News Radio (A different bit of the interview than what I heard on the radio is posted)
- Austin Statesman (very short, no pictures )
My absolute favorite piece of coverage that I’ve read about the Nurse-In comes from the Houston Chronicle. It explains in much better words than I ever could exactly what were doing and why it is so important.
In ironic news, the picture of my friend L smiling at the camera while nursing her daughter, who is wearing a Facebook hat, has already been removed from one of the groups that I posted it to.