I was just fooling on around reading about detoxes, natural skin remedies (because for the last 6 months my skin has looked like it did when I was a teenager and I’m at the end of my fucking ROPE and also getting really tired of drinking green tea constantly…), healthy foods and recipes, stuff like that.
Anyways, though that site I got re-directed to this one and here’s the question I have –
Am I the only one who feels that this site is overly aggressive?
What *really* turned me off was the bit about mothers weaning too early. They *actually* have a heading there saying that SELFISHNESS is part of the reason that some women wean early, or choose to forgo breastfeeding all together. First of all? I think we really need to re-examine what we mean by selfishness. When you hear that someone is SELFISH oh man, that’s like – taboo. But there’s another side to it, I think. Selfishness means that you’re giving yourself something that you want, and it doesn’t always mean that you’re doing so at the expense of someone else – or that if you ARE, that you are wrong to put yourself first.
Breastfeeding is a huge commitment. You spend HOURS feeding your baby. HOURS at a TIME. My kid used to nurse from 4:30pm straight through to 6:00 or 6:30pm if I let her. She’d wake up every two hours during the night, and then nurse on and off all through the day culminating with that huge feed in the evening. That was what she wanted! Now, there are people out there who will tell a mother with a nursing schedule like mine that they are being selfish and lazy for feeding their kid on demand. There are people who will applaud you for it and hold you up as an example for it, too. I don’t subscribe to either view – I think that as long as your baby is happy and healthy and as long as YOU are happy and healthy then there’s nothing wrong with how you feed your baby. At all. There’s no right or wrong with that shit, how can there be when every single person is so different?
But about the commitment thing – my god. I was so lucky that I didn’t suffer from post partum depression. I was worried about that – I have a long history of depressive episodes and having a baby was a huge change in lifestyle. She was born in August and I had a long dark winter ahead of me – Yukon winter with -40 weather for weeks on end, massive snow dumps, and overcast conditions blotting out what meagre daylight we had in December and January. RIPE CONDITIONS FOR DEPRESSION! And nothing. It wasn’t always easy and good lord, I wouldn’t go through first time mother hood again if you paid me – but no depression. I was pretty happy to sit inside with my baby and get to know her. What got to me was the breastfeeding. Being chained to the couch, to the rocking chair for hours everysinglefuckingday. I used to get panic attacks just sitting there with her, in the quiet, alone, with nothing to do. I couldn’t read at first because I needed to support my breast with one hand and her head with the other. We had no t.v. to watch, we had very few movies. And still this kid just would not stop eating. I’m not claustrophobic – small spaces have never bothered me. But the closest thing I can think of to the overwhelming panic that would start rising in me during these marathon nursing sessions is that of someone being trapped, unable to move, unable to breathe. She wouldn’t take a bottle. She never did – not until she was 10 months old would she accept a bottle and actually drink to assuage her thirst – and it was about two months after that that she took to sippy cups and never touched a bottle again. So not only was I caught up in those endless hours of nursing – I couldn’t leave her with anyone. It was a constant battle to get out for more than an hour – I was always worried that she’d be back home with her dad screaming and flailing and hungry and wanting me. I hated that part of it.
But you know what? I never hated MYSELF for hating that part of it. It is *normal* to want to own your body. It is *normal* to want to feel free. My god. I say this and I LOVE breastfeeding. It’s so satisfying and rewarding – my baby loves it, loves being close to me, loves being comforted by it. On days when I’m not sure she’s eating enough, or the right things, it’s a nutritional stand by. It calms her down when she’s stressed out, it comforts her when she’s scared, or hurt, or sick. It helps with nap time and bed time. I love it. And I’m lucky that I do – It didn’t happen overnight and we’ve gone through phases where I WISHED I could stop. I’ve had it so easy compared to others, too – I’ve heard so many reasons why mothers stop breast feeding or feel despairing over it. A mother I know online found out her baby is allergic to a protein in breast milk. Other babies just can’t latch on properly and dude – no one who has breast fed a baby will pooh pooh the power of an improper latch. When breastfeeding hurts, it can be so unbelievably painful. When she was about 4 months old we had a period of unexplained pain when breastfeeding – so bad that I used to cry when the baby would latch on. It felt like I had a swarm of fire ants in my bra after feeding her. I was *so* ready to give it up – and if she had taken to the bottle I might have weaned her by the time she was 6 months. That’s nothing though – there are women who’ve had split nipples, blisters, bleeding, even blood poisoning from improper care or infections from the baby’s mouth.
And having to work? Christ! It’s stressful enough having to be away from your kid all day, but coming home and having to deal with nipple confusion, too much milk, too little milk, fast flow, slow let down, pumping, etc etc – not everyone can do that. And not everyone wants to and for crying out loud – there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not like you’re setting your kid down in the middle of a pig sty and letting him eat trough water. You’re still mothering, you’re still loving, you’re still working hard. Maybe you’re a better mother for it – maybe there’s too much stress on you and baby when breastfeeding. Maybe you don’t have enough time to take care of yourself or your other kids or your job or you fucking house when you breast feed. Maybe your baby decides FOR you, that breast isn’t best.
Looking over that site didn’t make me feel empowered – it made me feel ashamed knowing that mothers might come there looking for support and find a harsh hippy love in touting the power of feminism while condemning women who choose to feed their kid according to what works for them. That isn’t feminism, and it isn’t supportive at all.
I think it’s important that mothers and their partners are aware of the benefits of breastfeeding. I think it’s worth fighting for – engorgement, sleep deprivation, sore nipples, loss of freedom, all of that, all of it – I think that it’s worth fighting through it and really giving breastfeeding a go. I think it’s enormously beneficial – and scores of pediatricians do too, obviously – that information is all over the place. To me, it was the easier choice – it came naturally after the first few days, it cost nothing, I had no bottles to clean and mess around with, it helped me lose weight and heal from the birth, and my baby was never sick. It gave me a chance to relax, and later on when she could hold her own head properly I was super stoked – and still am – with all the reading I got in during the nursing times. Even with the pain that came for those few weeks I am one very lucky mother in that, though. She never had a problem digesting, she never got colic. When I think about mothers who actually have hard times, REAL hard times, with breast feeding – I just feel so much sympathy for them. It’s hard enough for mothers like that, making the decision to wean – they don’t need this subheader: SELFISHNESS as a reason to quit breastfeeding. That heading should absolutely not be there – it’s a low down dirty assed swipe at someone who you know nothing about. It’s condescending and shabby and petty and just… lame.
Anyways. My baby is awake – and probably wants some milk. Tchus.