Tuesday, January 16, 2007

"Boob"


The title of this post refers to what Johnny says when he wants to nurse. As crass as it may be, we have come to think it's quite funny and cute. Believe me, I have tried to get him to say nurse or nursey, anything else really. But, no. It's boob. Anyways, in the recent edition of Mothering magazine they chose a universal symbol for breastfeeding in hopes that it will appear in public places, on the door of a mother's lounge for example. The point is to create a more breastfeeding-friendly society. I love the image they chose and hope to see it in public. I, personally, have never had a bad experience breastfeeding in public. We aren't nursing a whole lot anymore but when I did I was always comfortable nursing wherever I happened to be. I've been invited to some nurse-ins by La Leche League but have never gone. Maybe if I'd had a bad experience where I was told to leave or something I would feel like more of an activist about it. But also, I've avoided them (nurse ins, not LLL) because I just don't view nursing my son as a statement. I think that why I know a lot of women are turned off to LLL, because they seem to come on too strong and want everyone to be activists. Don't get me wrong, they are a wonderful organization and can provide much needed support, especially in the first weeks when nursing can be stressful and painful, and I love the books they have published. Come to think of it, I must have tiny bit of activist in me considering how much I love the breastfeeding symbol and think it would look great on a t-shirt or baby onesie, etc.. I guess it's just sad how it seems like we have to choose sides in terms of how we mother. We put eachother into categories. This is especially evident to me when I attend a baby shower. As I talk with women about my birth or children and they hear I am still nursing my son, or that I had a drug free birth, they act like or sometimes come right out and say, "oh you are one of those." It bothers me. Some of you have been blogging a little about this and I guess it got me thinking. I know I personally am really trying not to put other women into a box or assume too much about how they mother by something like whether they nurse or not. I suppose that is another reason I have not gotten too heavily involved in LLL or AP play groups. I just don't want everyone I hang out with to have the exact same philosophy on mothering that I do.( not that I even follow AP by the book, anyhow) One of my best friends has raised her babies very differently than I have raised Johnny, yet I think we share the a very similar heart and passion for being moms. However, my carefulness in not judging others' methods of mothering has also encouraged me to be more open about my own. I used to feel embarrassed about telling people that Johnny sleeps with us, especially if I had already heard them go on and on about their baby sleeping through the night is his own room. I figured they would think I was a real push over. Our decision to co-sleep wasn't made by default; we gave it a lot of time, entered into it with a let's-see-if-this-works attitude, and felt at peace with our decision. We followed our hearts and I think that is the best we can do when it comes to those issues of parenting. I just hate to see women feeling like they have to decide how they are going to mother their baby when they are six months pregnant. Let them enter the world, stare at their little faces, get to know them a little bit and follow what your heart (not your crazy post-pardum emotions) is telling you. I know I didn't settle into my role as mama until Johnny was at least a few months old, but I would've been even more of wreck if I were trying to follow one strict philosophy that didn't allow a whole lot of flexibility.
Man, I think I've said enough. So, I hope this doesn't leave any of you with an "oh, she's one of those" feeling, I would hate to alienate anyone who has until now enjoyed visiting my blog. If you love your babies and are doing what you know is best and works for you and them, then we've got a whole lot in common!

24 comments:

Christina said...

Beautifully said! I am one of those mother's who was unable to nurse (gasp) due to my poor health. And I am guilty of overgeneralizing women involved with LLL because I have had women tell me that I am a poor mother because I do not nurse (this is from strangers who don't know my story and who I would rather not share my story with).

Anyway, I loved your last line, " If you love your babies and are doing what you know is best and works for you and them, then we've got a whole lot in common!" This is so true!!! Thanks for writing!

Anonymous said...

Annie, thanks for sharing. I have really enjoyed the ease, convience and closeness that came from breastfeeding all four of my kiddos. I am so thankful that I could do it (still am) and know that it was what I was supposed to do. Interesting to read...I haven't really come in contact with any LLL or AP parents. I have however had people give me that "look" while nursing in public and I just stare them down until they look away!
~Rose

Elizabeth said...

Love the logo! And, what you said is really food for thought. I might even find a topic there to blog on myself. :-)

RainaRo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Christy Worley-Middleton said...

I love this...so TRUE and WELL said. (THANK YOU) I enjoy being with other mothers, but when it comes to comparing baby stuff, I leave or just take it w/ a grain of salt.
I nursed 14 months straight.. NO bottle or formula!! Best weight loss program ever and healthy!!
You need to send this blog to Baby Talk and all those boring books of " how you should raise your child".
Thanks Annie!!

Ariana said...

I am thankful for this post, because I have had to confront a lot of these issues in my heart and in public. Since Amelia was not thriving despite nursing ever 1 1/2 hours up to almost four months, I had to come up with something else. People often ask me in public if I am breastfeeding. I feel obligated to go into detail about her history and the fact that I painstakingly make her formula from scratch every day. I will NEVER ask a mother if she is breastfeeding. I know what it feels like to be judged and categorized as a mother who is either ignorant or just doesn't care enough about her child. When I first say that I am not, I brace myself to get a speech that is not really helpful or even appropriate for my situation.
Same thing with attachment parenting and cosleeping. This was the style we had originally chosen, and it just hasn't worked for Amelia. We have had to let her cry some, or else she just doesn't sleep at night. It is hard to describe to someone who doesn't know your child why this is the best choice-- they just don't know your child like you do. It was a very difficult decision to make, and it was hard to acknowledge that the way WE wanted to parent at night, that seemed most compassionate and connected was not what our daughter actually needed, and that our ideas were getting in the way of he well being. We have AP friends that act like they don't believe us. I am temptd to pray that their next child is just like ours!!
Anyway, sorry to go on and on. I clearly related to and appreciated this post, and wanted to share my perspective for others.

Ariana said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mimi said...

I agree very much with your last line as well, I was able to extended nurse, but it is a blessing, and not the only way.

And, crass though it may be, it is indeed giggleworthy as well - Boob.

Anonymous said...

THanks for posting this blog, Annie! It's just what I needed to read this sleepless night. I myself have never had enough milk for one baby, and here I find myself with twins. I nurse, supplement with formula and pump breastmilk. I know what's best for my babies--have heard it from the hospital, lactation consultant, and pediatrician--I must supplement with formula or my babies would starve (which they were doing in their first weeks of life). Yet, well meaning people tell me all the time that I COULD breastfeed my twins exclusively if I tried harder. Why do I care what people say when I know and have been told what to do to keep my babies from starving? I suppose it's my own insecurity. Anyway, thanks for the encouraging words! Moms do know what's best. So, moms keep doing what you know is right for your babies, and no regrets!

Xenia Kathryn said...

Hey Annie,
I really enjoyed reading your post. I think you put it all in better terms than I was able to in my most recent blog. It's so hard to bring this topic up in a diplomatic, loving way that doesn't put down others. Well done, my friend!
I like the bf logo, too! I hope to see it in public more often...!
:D
In Christ,
XKatie

Gwynne said...

I absolutely loved this blog of yours. It's like we have the same thoughts and opinions. I feel like I know someone with a "kindred", whatever that means, spirit. I loved everything you wrote, my thoughts exactly. Although, you are a better mom because you had a drug free labor. Hahahahahaha!

annie said...

Thank you all for your input and stories. I love that I am hearing from moms with very different experiences. Experiences like what Ariana shared are what inspired me to write my post. We have so much potential as mothers to help or hurt eachother with how we treat one another. Mothering, like life, is supposed to be a humbling journey, not something that makes us prideful and judgmental. I think the best we can do is talk openly about our own experiences and let people take and learn what they can from that. And, of course, pray for one another.

Lauren S. said...

Where was I? I feel like I check your blog all the time, but I am coming into this post so late...Sorry.

Love this post. I've had to put myself in check as far as my opinions about other mothers. I think as mothers we are all hoping and thinking we are doing what's best and love our children more than we can express. So why wouldn't we be somewhat passionate about the decisions we've made for the most important people to us? But,we must realize that all babies and mamas are different. What a loving thing to do for others, stop judging and embrace what we do have in common, a love for our children. Beautiful, Annie.

I have a soft spot in my heart for nursing too. I weaned Hannah after she turned one to go away for the weekend, and kind of regret it. I think I won't be in such a hurry for my next children to grow up.

Love the sign too. I never really got a whole flack for nursing in public either. Just once at Disneyland, a worker seemed really insistant about me going to the mother's lounge. I was like, "But it's all the way across the park, and my baby is hungry now. No thanks." Little did she know, I had nursed dd all over that park, even on rides like Pirates of the Carribean and Small World. Ha ha! We lived with my parents the first few months of my dd's life and I think both of them were a bit overwhelmed by the amount of boobage going on.

BTW, Hannah still looks at my breasts with great affection. She gets a silly look on her face and says "boobies". So cute. I'm excited to nurse this little buckaroo I'm due to have in a few months. :)

lisakelly said...

I'm so computer illiterate! Anyway, that anonymous post was me, Lisa Kelly.

Anonymous said...

Way to into the whole breast feeding statement, who gives weather you still are or not. You are the one making it a huge issue, not the public.

RainaRo said...

I guess "anonymous" didn't read the blog.

Evan said...

Well said, anonymous. Who gives weather, indeed!

RainaRo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Paul & Kameron Morton said...

Hey, Annie... I got your post on my blog & I'd love to give you Steph's email address, but I don't have your email address. Can you sent me an email to chefgigi@hotmail.com so get that to you?
Thanks.

As far as the post goes, it seems that everyone has said it all... my cousin was unable to nurse and told me how jealous she was that I could and how she felt like a failure as a mother. That just ripped my heart out. For Pete's sake, where are we in society if being a good mom depends on what you feed your child?! Giving a child a loving, supportive home- regardless of where your child sleeps, what they eat, if you let them cry it out at night, if they are on a schedule, whatever- is LOVING your child and NO ONE should stand and criticize anyone else. Besides, because I am not perfect I make mistakes too so how can I say that someone else is making mistakes? I was never gutsy enough to nurse in public (Aidan HATED having blankets over him), so I just nursed in my car... but I'm all for not being cramped and having public places to do it in.

GREAT food for thought & as always, it is fabulous to hear from you.

Melissa Gossard said...

hi annie! Of course I remember you. In fact I remember you best as the really pretty girl with such a sweet spirit about you that I often wished I had the opportunity to know you better instead of just know of you :)
I'm glad you stopped by my blog, I am just getting started but i love it already. You must tell evan hello for me as well...we didn't hang out much but we shared some of the same friends and our paths crossed from time to time.
As for your post..i love it!
I consider myself more of an advocate than activist...the difference can be quite stark when it comes to friendship building and how others feel around you. Life is too short to divide over things that if we all admit will not matter when our kids are grown. When our children are lets say, 30 yrs old it will not matter what bedroom they slept in or whether or not they breastfed. But what will matter is whether they were deeply loved by their parents. This is a good thing because we as parents will make mistakes and change opinions about our parenting styles but what it will always come down to is that we loved them. Pareting is so much bigger than the first couple years so the agonizing or stressing has become silly to me.
And while I do hold certain posistions on what our culture is telling women about them, their bodies and their roles (God has yet to release the patent on breastmilk :) I am constantly aware that the best way to encourage and influence others is love and acceptance...i would not have friends right now if i didn't identify with women as just that,women who share the universal joys and struggles of motherhood. What i find about the LLL and AP groups is that they tend to harp on the same things all the time and judge most of those not doing things their same way..they tend to alienate, judge and exclude, even pretend to disqualify the mothering of another. It leads to closing yourself off from being effected and changed as well by those who do not hold every same view as yourself....goodness knows i could use some people to balence me out. The described groups remind me sometimes of some cult movement. Women tend to struggle with comparing and measuring themselves by the other women leading us to create our own barriers to what we all need so terribly- community, friendship and encouragment.
Chris Rock says "women would rule the world....if they didn't hate eachother so much." haha i think there is a kernal of truth to that.
I need my friends too badly to get to wrapped up in the details of how they choose to feed their kids and I have found that a strong desire to be a good mom is what binds us together.
What I do wish the LLL (whom i do like for many reasons) would chill on is their activist's display of breastfeding. I wish they would show that it can be done publicaly with discretion...on tv i have seen women protesting their right to feed with their whole entire boob out on display as they nurse. I breastfed in public all the time and no one ever seemed to even know it was happening....why does it have to be all boob or no boob?!? I completely understand people being uncomfortable with such un-needed exposure.
I am very sorry this is so long!
May God bless you and your mothering, i will stop by your blog from now on but i promise to leave shorter comments :)
melissa

LISA KELLY said...

that 1st anonymous was me, lisa kelly.

i'm not the 2nd anonymous. obviously, the 2nd anonymous missed the whole point!

it's a great blog , annie!

Melissa Gossard said...

hey, i forgot to mention that to this day luciana (5 yrs old) call my breasts nurses (all women's breasts she refers to as this)... ever since she saw me nursing ella rose and asked what i was doing i explained it was called nursing and she has refused any other title for the anatomy of women or mommy....she even proudly says to me sometimes "hey mom one day i will have nurses just like you." haha it cracks me up everytime..she also nurses her baby dolls. Boy, if a guy reads this i will be embarresed...but it is just real life. I love being a mom sometimes just because of what my kids say to me each day.

Teri Pardue said...

Wow, I loved the last comment from Melissa!

Anyway, you probably don't know me. My name is Teri (Ebert) Pardue. I graduated Faith Academy in 2002. I came across your blog from myspace... I just aboslutely loved this blog entry.

My daughter, Ava, is 6 months old. I also had a natural birth, breastfeed in public, and Ava sleeps in our room. It was so encouraging to read your post. A lot of my friends with babies are all letting them 'cry it out' at night... and are telling me that Ava is going to be spoiled and manipulative because I nurse her when she cries in the night. It's a lot of work trying to explain why I believe what I believe about leaving a baby to cry themselves to sleep.
Anyway, the blog was mainly about breastfeeding, so I won't head down a rabbit-trail. Just wanted to tell you I think you've touched a lot of people with your thoughts. Thanks! And if you decide to go into the t-shirt business, look me up, because I'll take one! : )

Teri Pardue said...

Oh, if you go to www.cafepress.com, and search 'breastfed' you actually can get a shirt with the symbol on it : )
There are also lots of other fun shirts.
Just thought I'd share.