There were lots of questions last week (besides yesterday's), but with the move, I'm answering the least research-intensive question at the moment and when we finally have regular Internet service again, I'll be back on track.
So for today's quickie:
Paige asked, referring to the video of how I nurse Margaret in church, "How do you get Margaret to sit still?"
Good question. This video is slightly misleading since it was taken at home after church instead of during church; it was taken during the time when she expects to be nursed down for a nap, so she was acting pretty mellow. In contrast, we had early church this year so she was always wide awake and ready to run around when we went. It's been a challenge to help her hold that energy in until nursery. She's much more fidgety at church.
Also, I usually nurse in church when she's not feeling well, such as when she bumps her head on the pew in front of us. And because she's 2, she automatically comes to me for nursing when she's hurt and nurses very willingly. It has not always been like this, however. There were times when she was off and on and off and on and off and on. Before she was old enough for nursery, she liked to watch the speaker and if a new speaker started talking or something else changed in the situation at church (music, prayer, someone walking into a room) she would look up and breastfeeding would be put on hold for a few moments.
Calmness while nursing is a stage thing. When babies are more aware of the world around them, it's harder for them to focus on nursing. Margaret definitely had that stage, and now she's at an older, more experienced nursing stage with less distraction. I just accepted the fact that there might be some stray nipple. It was usually short-lived and unless someone was really staring, it was probably not noticeable. And if it was, well, it happens sometimes.
Monday, April 26, 2010
There were lots of questions last week (besides yesterday's), but with the move, I'm answering the least research-intensive question at the moment and when we finally have regular Internet service again, I'll be back on track.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
This is going to be long. Read it when you have time.
I was going to answer Crunchy's question for Inquisition Monday, but today felt like a better fit. Her question was, "As a follow-up question, how do people handle that [breastfeeding in church]? Has anyone ever reacted negatively, or asked you to stop?"
Yes, people have reacted negatively. No, I've never been asked to stop. I haven't blogged about particular incidents because some of those people read my blog, and it's partly their story, too. Sharing someone else's story publicly isn't a very nice thing to do. But I'll be both as truthful about this and as vague identity-wise as I possibly can. Also, I don't want other moms to be afraid of a possible confrontation. I think I've only been "confronted" because I'm very vocal about this on my blog. If I didn't have a blog, I doubt most of the following would have happened.
Twice I've been confronted by ward leaders. The first one simply asked that I consider using the mother's lounge or a cover- but also admitted that they knew I was fully in my rights. I responded that I'd discuss it with McKay and get back to them. After discussing it with McKay, I called them back. In the previous conversation, I kind of got the feeling that a ward member had mentioned it to them and had hoped that they would use their leadership position as a way to bully me. During that phone call, I even told them as much. I followed that up with, "I'm sorry if someone put you in a middleman position like this. If in the future someone comes up to you about this, could you please say something on lines of 'McKay and Heather feel that they are being discreet and if you have any concerns, please bring it up to them.'" The leader said that they would do that in the future. I came away from that phone call feeling like I handled that situation well and kept on keepin' on. I also felt that if the leader directed people straight to us instead of being a middle-person, it would at least weed out complaints from cowards.
Some time after that another leader talked with us. This time the request (again, with the admittance that I was fully in my rights) that we pray about it. So we did. And we felt that breastfeeding wasn't inappropriate and I was "discreet" (whatever that means). So again we kept on keepin' on.
Some time after that I was actually confronted by a ward member in the street. It was completely random and caught me off guard. There were accusations that I hadn't given this subject enough thought and prayer. And I am apparently contributing to pornography problems. And the confrontation was finished with an accusation of me not keeping my covenants. Not knowing what to say, I just said, "Ok..." and went my way. Admittedly, it might be hard for an outsider to see the hours of study of modesty and the prayers I had said. I, myself, had to finally define and confront what modesty meant for me, and that was no easy task. So that implication is understandable, I guess; they don't know the whole story. But the accusation about my personal worthiness was completely out of line.
That was a hard day for me, and it's hard for me to write about. There were tears, there was anger. I said crazy things to McKay like, "I'll learn Spanish and go to the Spanish ward!" The hardest part of the whole thing is that recently we had a few lessons about being a Zion people and I was feeling very gungho about bonding with my ward and building each other up- and then it kind of came crashing down. How could I build Zion in my ward if my ward members don't want me in their Zion? So obviously the solution was to find a new ward. McKay was the sensible one and said things like "Well, they probably have never actually seen you breastfeed in church and are just misunderstanding what you've said on your blog," and "They probably don't know that Margaret doesn't nurse for very long and the mother's lounge isn't a good solution." And I tried to use humor to lift my spirits and responded, "Yeah. They probably don't know the difference between a tassel and a baby."
That night I asked McKay for a blessing of comfort. And it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Immediately all that anger and upset was gone. I couldn't be angry even if I tried. And there were nice references to my patriarchal blessing and three words that I still remember: "Don't. Give. Up."
I spent a good portion of the week coming up with what I wanted to say to that person the next week. I wrote it down and memorized it. I practiced it. I remembered to use non-accusatory "I" statements and stick to the point and not get distracted by a rant. It was perfect. And then they didn't show up to church for another month. At that point, I just let it go and kept on keepin' on.
There is something really awkward about someone talking to you about covering up. It means, "I have sexualized and objectified your breasts and your daughter." It makes for awkward relationships. Even in the situations where it was a leader and not the actual complainer, the fact that the leader is speaking to me about it is an admission of, "On some level I agree and have also sexualized and objectified your breasts." If the leader hadn't felt like that on some level they would have told the person to leave me alone instead of bringing it up with me. So to be honest, those relationships are at minimum: strained. I avoided those leaders in the halls for some time, and the first time that one member was back at church, I wanted to go hide and cry in the bathroom. I have a secret: I'm not as strong as I sound on this blog. But I remembered, "Don't give up."
It was after all this that Margaret decided that the layers were to much for her and I've simply pulled down. I've had no issues from that point on. I wonder if fiddling with layers made me look nervous and vulnerable, but once I just went with it I looked more confident and so the "issues" stopped. Or maybe I just wore my ward down.
I have had positive experiences in my ward too. There is a 17 month old in our ward who is still breastfeeding because I nursed uncovered in church. I'm glad that mom gained confidence from seeing me nurse.
I've also had a positive experience with a man in my ward. Not long after that last confrontation, a man in my ward told me, "You know that one time I mentioned that I thought breastfeeding would help men with pornography problems? I meant it helped me." He went on to say that remembering me breastfeeding helped him leave pornographic Internet sites. It helped him know recognize the difference between "this is what breasts are for" and "this is exploitation." Now, I know breastfeeding isn't going to solve his addiction, but it helped a little. And that's something.
That's why I take that advice in that blessing to not give up. I won't give up. I'll keep on keepin' on. I keep on so that Margaret won't have to be "asked to pray" about something that should need no praying over. I keep on so that she won't be confronted in the street by people she thought she trusted.
We only get a few short years of our lives to breastfeed. We don't know what the reaction at the park, the library, at church, will be. It might be a double take. It might be offense and aggression. And it might be that someone will re-dedicate themselves to breastfeeding. And it might be that a web browser is closed.
I won't lie and say I'm not excited to move to a more liberal and "crunchy" part of the United States this week. Maybe there will be less cultural resistance to me feeding my children. And yet, a part of me wonders if I've done enough in Provo. This is my last Sunday in my Provo ward, and if a closed browser and a nursing 17 month old are my only legacy, I'm ok with that.
And this summer, in my new ward, with a new baby and a toddler, we'll see what happens. I'll probably just keep on keepin' on.
Friday, April 23, 2010
A couple of months ago, when I was dreaming about what sort of place we would live in after our move, I looked into various design ideas. I immediately loved minimalism. After having helped other people move, clean out a house after a death, and growing up with a crawl space full of unused things, I've decided that it's just better to not own anything. A couple of months ago there was a visiting teaching message about stewardship and in a discussion about it, someone mentioned that having something, but not using it is another way to not demonstrate good stewardship over what we've been blessed with. That resonated with me and so I've been decluttering and getting rid things we don't need. You'd be surprised what you can accumulate in a less than 400 sq ft studio.
How does that related to being Zen? Well, in my search for homes that use minimalism, I ran into ZenHabits. I really like that blog and it covers a lot of topics I've been thinking about lately: minimalism, going barefoot full-time, and just focusing on the moment.
Over the last couple of months, I've also read a couple of related books.
The first was Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful which is full of meditations for pregnancy and preparing for childbirth. I've done a few: mostly the ones for back pain and opening your pelvis. There are also meditations for approaching birth fears and working on patience. I definitely don't have the time to sit and meditate all day (nor could I physically do that!) but it's been nice when I wake up at 2 in the morning and I can't get back to sleep. There's even a meditation for helping you sleep.
The second was Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting. It is also based on a Zen philosophy. It's kind of long, but I found that I could read a paragraph in my small amount of free time and that would help me stay calm and patient with Margaret until I could get another paragraph in. I really liked the emphasis that meditation isn't the goal, but a tool. You can practice being "in the moment" even if you don't have 15 minutes to meditate. I've spent more time lately just breastfeeding or just reading a book with Margaret instead of letting my brain wander to all the other things going on.
It's been nice to relax a little and after our move, I'll be trying a few more of those meditations and working more on preparing for the birth.
My post was featured in the Gentle Discipline Fair!
Visit BabyDustDiaries.com to see the monthly fairs and other great Gentle Discipline resources.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Our moving plans are slowly falling into place. And by "falling into place" I mean that we still have no idea where we'll live in a week and a half.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
1. I'd like for someone to just call us up and say, "Hey! You can live here and it'll be inexpensive and perfect for you!"
2. One of my most favorite romantic memories is taking walks with McKay.
3. Last night, I had waffle mix in the shape of pancakes (waffle iron broke!) for dinner.
4. Sorry for the chaos.
5. Can we do a jig now?
6. One of my worst temptations is the Internet; Google Reader is hard to resist!
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to a going-away party for some friends, tomorrow my plans include getting new tires for the car and Sunday, I want to knit!
Monday, April 12, 2010
I've kissed a few boys in my time. I've kissed more boys than McKay's kissed girls- probably triple or quadruple the number. Kissing, and in particular french kissing, was on my list of "things I liked to do." I could kiss and kiss and kiss all day. Even different guys in the same day (!). Kissing was enjoyable, easy, sexy. It made me feel good.
Eventually I started dating McKay. It took him a while to initiate the first kiss (and by a while, I mean like 10 days after we started officially dating versus on the first date). But again, it was fun and exciting. And all that.
At some point in our courtship, McKay thought it would be best if we cut out french kissing from our repertoire. As LDS singles planning to stay virginal until our wedding night, we had already set some limits, but McKay thought an extra one wouldn't hurt. I mourned the loss of the french kiss for those last few months; after all, I had come from a background of kiss kiss kiss kiss and had miraculously stayed a virgin through all that. But I went with it figuring if that's what he thought was needed, then we'll go with that. It wouldn't hurt. Pecks were still ok.
Then we got married and suddenly we were "allowed" to french kiss again. It was... gross. 1) We were out of practice and just sloppy about it. 2) It was hard to "allow" myself to enjoy it again. After being off-limits for months, jumping back into french kissing (and more!) was very difficult mentally.
Is kissing sexy because of how we're wired or is it sexy because of how our culture portrays it? I can see both sides. On one hand, lips have an almost disproportionate amount of nerve endings. They are sensitive to touch, temperature, and according to wikipedia, the size of your lips can be related to the hormones in your body. Is kissing inherently sexy by physical design?
On the other hand, it would be foolish to pretend that our culture doesn't promote kissing as part of a sexual relationship. Even children see that "love's first kiss" is put on a pedestal. Kissing is one of the few sexual activities that can be freely shown in G-rated movies and is common in shows, commercials, movies, books, advertisements. Everywhere. It's probably one of the most commonly seen forms of sexual expression in our culture. So when I was a teenager, was the excitement I felt in kissing a product of media portrayal?
I suppose it could be either, or both. But whether kissing is nature or nurture, by the time I was married, I had desexualized kissing. It was hard for me to make out with McKay even though I was attracted to him. As time progressed, I learned how to re-sexualize kissing. It was something that was important to McKay, and I (mentally) knew it once held a lot of weight in attraction for me, so I worked on it. I had to mentally get myself into a place where I could enjoy it again; I eventually was able to reconnect my wiring to kissing = sexy. Though I'll admit, it sometimes still takes effort to enjoy kissing at 3 and a half years into our marriage.
Where am I going with this? Breasts.
I've heard arguments that by nature, breasts are sexually attractive. I've also heard arguments that it is by cultural socialization that breasts are sexually attractive. And that either way, Americans are going to sexualize them and it's wrong of me to try to desexualize the breast. I'm swimming upstream here.
In my experience, "sexy" is a mind game. Because I've had "practice" in my experience of desexualizing and then re-sexualizing kissing for myself, I know I can desexualize and re-sexualize my breasts depending on the current circumstances. Sometimes when McKay and I are being intimate, Margaret will wake up and need nursing and I have to immediately switch over to "breasts are for breastfeeding" mode. And with a little mental work, I can switch back into "I'm a sexual being" mode once she's asleep again.
Because of my kissing escapades, I've come to be skeptical about claims that "naked is naked is naked" and "breasts are breasts are breasts." Perhaps "french kissing is french kissing is french kissing", but I've been to the place where french kissing is not french kissing. I've been to the place where breasts are not breasts. And sometimes I'm sexual and sometimes I'm not. It's ok, each place is a different part of my identity and person and body image.
I know the human brain has the power to separate arousal and non-arousal. Perhaps I'm too much of an optimist, but I expect other human beings to use their brains and do exactly that on a daily basis as I take Margaret out into the world and find myself breastfeeding at various times and places. It does take a little bit of effort. After all, we are either re-working nature or years of nurture, but it's possible. Naked is not always naked. A bare breast is not always a bare breast. And kissing isn't always kissing.
This post is participating in the Body Image Carnival being hosted by Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! and MamanADroit who will be posting articles on themes pertaining to body image all week! Make sure you check out their blogs everyday between April 12-18 for links to other participants' posts as well as product reviews, a giveaway, and some links to research, information and resources pertaining to body image.
Friday, April 09, 2010
It was 2pm and the day was not going well. I had in my lap, a birthday girl whose 2nd birthday not only meant she was taller, smarter, and stronger, but that her second set of molars were ready to make mountains out of her molehill gums. She was nursing, unable to get into a deep sleep because of the pain, while sharing my lap with the growing belly, darkened areolas, and sensitive nipples that come with a second pregnancy.
She was miserable. I was miserable. I was touched-out and her crying was grating against my ear drums. I really wanted to just leave her there and lock myself in the bathroom. Instead I closed my eyes and pretended I wasn't there. LA-LA-LA-LA-LA. That maturity in the room was overwhelming, let me tell you.
So I sat there with my eyes closed, hoping that she wouldn't realize that while I was there in body, I wasn't there in spirit. And my thoughts took me on a journey.
I could wean her. She's 2 today. She got her recommended 2 year minimum. I can be done with this! Good bye sore nipples!
I could. But how long would weaning take? a few weeks? In that time, the molars will have come through and the problem would have fixed itself. And then what? I'll have given up one of my best parenting skills forever. I'd be fixing a temporary problem with a permanent solution- one that will affect much more than sensitive nipples: sleep, tantrums, uneasiness with strange places and people, etc.
And pregnancy is temporary, too. My nipples won't hurt forever. Remember last fall when twiddling didn't bother me? It can be like that again. Just a few more months.
Yeah. I won't be pregnant, any more, but then I'll have to do this with 2 kids! Look at me! I can't even handle my generally-mellow toddler.
Right. Generally mellow. If this were a regular occurrence, I would need to alter our nursing relationship, but she's almost never this cranky. She's only like this when she teethes or is sick. And this is the last time she'll be teething for a while. She won't be teething when the baby comes. In fact, she might be helpful. I remember being so engorged that I couldn't lie on my belly for almost 4 months postpartum. I slept with towels under my breasts for well past a year. I remember thinking that I could end hunger in the world's children if they just lined up at my door. I was jealous of the moms I knew who had older nurslings; what I needed was a nursing toddler!
She's twiddling. I could still just leave her here on the bed and hide in the bathroom. But what would that fix? She'd still be teething and hurting. PLUS she'd be abandoned. Yeah. that's going to fix everything.
Sigh. I know some people think that when a mom nurses a toddler or older child, she's doing it for herself, that she somehow gets a weird "high" from it. On the other hand I know some people think that she's being a martyr mother and giving up her needs and wants. It's neither. Sometimes you benefit the most and sometimes the child does. And most of the time it's in between.
I opened my eyes and looked down at my Margaret, asleep. I had to stay there because I knew if I moved her she'd wake up immediately because of her teeth. There went my plans for the day. But she won't always be this way: cranky, unable to sleep well, fussy. It's temporary.
She won't always be this way: small, trusting, and needing me to help her sleep. That's temporary, too.
I don't know how long our nursing relationship will last. She might decide tomorrow that my pregnancy colostrum is no good and end the relationship just like that. Or I may end up nursing 3 children at some point. But I always need to respond with sensitivity. Right now, that means nursing my two year old.
This post is part of the 2010 API Principles of Parenting blog carnival, a series of monthly parenting blog carnivals, hosted by API Speaks. Learn more about attachment parenting by visiting the API website.
Thursday, April 08, 2010
Earlier this week, news came out about a new study that analyzed the costs of our country's low breastfeeding rates. I first saw the news on Twitter which took me to the LA Times, but pretty much every major news station did a piece on it: CNN, ABC, etc. The CNN site quotes the study as saying,
"The United States incurs $13 billion in excess costs annually and suffers 911 preventable deaths per year because our breastfeeding rates fall far below medical recommendations."Wow. There were quite a few reactions to this news and I'll link to just a few.
Best for Babies analyzed the language in the ABC news article and discussed the way we talk about breastfeeding. Highly recommended reading.
The Feminist Breeder's article "When It Comes to Breastfeeding, We Can’t Handle The Truth" packs a punch and went so viral that her hosting service shut her site down for a while because of the traffic. She discusses the hot topic of breastfeeding guilt and the discussion in her comments is interesting. Again, I definitely recommend reading it.
Not soon after all this, I ran into this piece which mentions, "One 2004 AAP survey of pediatricians showed that 40 percent did not feel knowledgeable about breastfeeding. More than a third of pediatricians responding to the survey said they didn't receive any education about breastfeeding while in medical school or during residency." And these are the people we trust to give us good information about feeding our babies!
And then this morning, Margaret became famous in today's Matador Life article, "The Most Obscene Debate on the Internet." McKay would like me to clarify that he was the one that took the picture, so it should really say "Photo by McKay Farley" under Margaret's picture.
Both the Best for Babies and The Feminist Breeder articles reminded me of a couple of older articles I've read. The first is Jack Newman's Breastfeeding and Guilt. The second is the famous Watch Your Language article by Diane Wiessinger.
Those are issues I run into a lot on when writing about breastfeeding. I've received criticism in both comments and emails of how I refer to breastfeeding. When breastfeeding is "normal," then formula or other substitutes are "inferior." But that makes people feel guilty. But when breastfeeding is "best" or "ideal" suddenly it's a lofty, almost unattainable goal so breastmilk substitutes are seen as a "good enough" option. And unfortunately, according to that new study, it's not good enough for over 900 American babies a year. And I don't know what to do about it. I don't want to cause guilt, but I can't pretend formula and other substitutes will ever come close to breastmilk. I mean, can you imagine a company trying to put stem cells in formula? White blood cells?
I've also been considering what I've done/will do to help moms have access to breastfeeding information, support, and other mothers' milk. I do think breastmilk needs to be more accessible for moms who can't breastfeed. Unfortunately, milk banks are few and the cost is high- I've read $3/ounce!
Right now, I simply can't pump or donate any milk because I'm only making pregnancy colostrum (but apparently it's still yummy, as I'm currently NAKing). When Margaret was a newborn, there was a mom in our playgroup who was accepting breastmilk for her adopted son. She had induced lactation and used an SNS for months, but sometimes hormones just win out and she needed to supplement a lot. I feel terrible of how much of my milk ended up soaked in my bra and on our sheets, blankets, towels and carpet and I did nothing to collect it for her. I really should have, and I think if I have oversupply next time I'll do more to save it for someone who needs it. Maybe I'll invest in a pump.
Anyway, that was this week in breastfeeding along with some of my thoughts and guilt over not doing more. Tomorrow I have a post scheduled for the API Speaks Blog Carnival in which I talk about how breastfeeding a toddler is hard sometimes. No, it's not all roses and puppies. I haven't done a "How to UP/UC" post in a few weeks, but I have a couple more ideas. It all depends on whether I can find time to film another vlog.
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
When I was discussing Monday's post with McKay, I wondered out loud to him if he thought people would think suctioning your own child with your own mouth would be gross. But then I thought about the other gross things I've done as a mom. The most shocking happened last summer.
I took Margaret to a splash park. She got wet, had fun. It was great! Then she tripped and fell and got a nose bleed.
I have never had a nose bleed in my entire life. I picked her up, held and nursed her wondering if there's something special I'm supposed to do. Then I saw the blood on her upper lip and I took my finger and wiped it off.
Then I licked my finger. Blood and all.
I would have done it again if I hadn't suddenly realized that it was kind of weird to do that. I don't know why I did it, I just did. Instinct maybe? For some reason it made sense to me in the moment.
Postulating on this, McKay suggested that maybe it felt so instinctual because it was. He suggested that my body felt like it needed to ingest her blood to "analyze it" for making my special brand of breastmilk as per #3 in my Top Ten Cool Things About Breastmilk post. Maybe my body needed to know if her blood had any foreign substances in it. I don't know. All I know is I saw her have a nose bleed and then I wiped her nose and then I ingested her blood. Maybe my subconscious wishes I were a vampire.
You do weird things as a parent.
These pictures are from that day. Fun times.
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
I've been making a conscious decision lately: to not cross my legs. Or my knees. Or even my ankles.
It started with my round ligament pain. It just hurt. Plus it seems like it would simply be healthier to have your hips even instead of tilted to accomodate leg crossing.
It was hard at first to let go of my habitual leg-crossing activities. I've found that crossing a leg helps elevate whatever is in my lap, usually a nursing Margaret but sometimes a book or paper for notes. I also found that sitting with my knees shoulder-distance apart meant that I needed to be more active about my posture. I found myself leaning back too much in the couch. I discovered that for me to have my best posture, I need to sit on the edge of a chair like I was taught in fifth grade band and piano lessons. I actually do this a lot at home at dinner time and it bugs whoever is trying to walk behind my chair, but it's not a posture that's very common at church. Or movie theaters. Or in a restaurant booth. I'm trying to maintain a good posture during this pregnancy to help this baby find a good position for birthing.
As I ventured into my non-lady-like experiment, I started taking note of how other people sit. I was looking for ideas, really. I needed to see how people (usually men) handle not having their legs crossed. I also observed when women did and didn't cross their legs. Church is a big leg-crossing setting. I think it's because most LDS women wear dresses or skirts to church. I've actually toyed with the idea of wearing nice dress pants to church to aid me in my plight for healthier hips and for better Margaret-chasing abilities. This would work well in the winter in the cold, but I'm not sure how it would work in the summer, especially living in California.
Interestingly enough, the place I've found that most women do not cross their legs at is story time at the library. I think it's due to many factors: most are wearing pants, are sitting on the floor/steps, and have to be ready to chase down a stray toddler.
Sitting straight-legged also takes up more space and I've found that to be a strange cultural barrier for myself, too. I'm a woman; I'm not supposed to take up space. To take up space is to control that space and assume power. But I'm getting over that. I am reminded of a couple of Roseanne Barr quotes, "The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it." And also related, "Women should try to increase their size rather than decrease it, because I believe the bigger we are, the more space we'll take up, and the more we'll have to be reckoned with."
I'm curious if there are any of you out there who have experimented with posture during pregnancy or in general. What have you found to be comfortable and workable for you?
Monday, April 05, 2010
A couple questions this Monday!