Friday, 11 May 2012

Breast Friends Again

I'm going to be brutally honest here, mostly because I don't really know how else to be, but before I had a child of my own, I kind of thought that breast feeding past 6 months was not just strange, but absolutely crazy. 

While I was all about breastfeeding, I didn't see the point of doing it past that time as by then the child would be eating solid foods and therefore would not need breastmilk for nutritional value anymore. Anything beyond this point was therefore weird and unnecessary and spoiling the child, among other terrible assumptions. At this point, pre-mom, I very wrongly assumed that breastfeeding was solely for nourishment and the passing of antibodies. How very medical of me. 

Only after giving birth did I grasp the importance of sharing that time with my baby. The way it comforted her, the feeling of her little body curled around my newly softened belly, the way she studied me so intently while she fed, and the way she relaxed in my arms that told me that she knew I was her mom. She knew that she was safe with me.

The fact that Avery started sprouting teeth so early (and continued to do so), as well as started to not just bite, but full on chew and pull at me while she was feeding cut our breastfeeding days short. This, I will say, is one of my biggest regrets, so much so that I am seriously considering starting up again. 

As most mothers know, breastmilk comes at a supply and demand pace, and therefore it would only take a couple of weeks of frequent feeding and pumping to get myself back to where I was.  The only thing holding me back at this point is the memory of sitting, stiff as a board, anticipating the next savage attack. It doesn't quite create a bonding and safe environment when I'm practically sweating with anxiety and feeling like I'm breastfeeding a character from the Twilight saga. Bit that is neither here nor there...

What brought me to this topic was the widely circulated Time Magazine cover that has been popping up all over my facebook page over the last couple of days:


I have a few issues with this, all of which have to do with the headline "Why attachment parenting drives some mothers to extremes..."

As someone who loosely practices attachment parenting to suit my own needs and the needs of my child (I didn't really co-sleep as none of us slept very well that way, but I am a huge advocate of baby wearing, for example), I find this pretty offensive. It makes me think of mothers who raise their children this way as disheveled looking lunatics who are sobbing while breastfeeding their ten year old and holding their diaperless newborn over a toilet. 

Needless to say, this is not the case. At all. 

I could rant for hours and hours about how proper parenting is about doing what is best for your family. Like I said, I read the books, I love the idea of attachment parenting, but it came down to what worked for us. It just so happens that Avery likes her own sleeping space and always slept longer in the bassinet next to our bed rather than in my arms. So what? If that doesn't work for you, do something else. 

The second issue that I have with this is that breastfeeding a toddler has made the cover of Time Magazine. What is wrong with us, world? Is this the best we can do? I can think of six things off the top of my head right now that are more "extreme" and far more offensive than breastfeeding. 

6. There are people in this world who love each other so deeply, and are so committed to each other, yet are not allowed to state it officially because they both pee standing up (or sitting down). Same sex marriage is so taboo still, yet straight people are breaking vows left, right and center. Yeah, ok. Good call. 

5. There are powerful people in this world that are trying to pass laws that take away my right, as well as my daughter's right to choose what goes on in our uterus. This is disgusting, and while I personally would hope that women (my daughter in particular) would choose to give birth and put the child up for adoption if she was not in a situation to give the baby the care he or she deserves, that is her choice and no one else's. End of story. If a woman became the leader of the country and passed a law that all men should have vasectomies after a certain number of children or at a certain age, all hell would break loose and everybody reading this knows it.  

4. The fact that there are people, in the United States in particular, that are dying because their insurance company won't approve their surgeries or their treatment for illnesses because they want to save a couple of bucks. That, my friends, is extreme. As well as the fact that they have to, in an emergency situation, go to not the nearest hospital, but the hospital that is approved by their insurance company to seek treatment. I'm sure that's just what I would want to be doing as my child was having a febrile seizure in the backseat; trying to locate an approved hospital. Get a grip. 

3. There are babies, babies, being dressed up like slutty porcelain dolls and paraded around a stage so that they can hopefully win an ungodly sized crown based on their appearance. I'm not going to sit here and spell it out for anyone, but I am going to say that it would not be my child and that is not a value that I want to instill in her. 

2. There are children running around in this world wielding machine guns and smoking cigarettes. There are children having sex at disgustingly young ages, at the age I was when I was still playing Barbies. There are young girls jamming their fingers down their throats in elementary school, desperate to achieve a body that no human can attain while simultaneously living a healthy and fulfilling life. Finally, there are children selling drugs on school playgrounds. Come off it, guys. A little extended breastfeeding along with baby wearing and co-sleeping would have done these kids a world of good. 

1. There are women out there who do not receive enough education about how to care for themselves during pregnancy and then how to care for their child after giving birth. They abuse drugs and they drink during pregnancy and then they pour a can of Carnation milk into a drop in and call it a day.  There are women who leave their babies alone to cry for hours. This is beyond sleep training and crying it out. We are talking hours. There are women who feed their babies Orange Crush in a bottle. Why is this not considered extreme or offensive? Why does this not make a controversial cover of Time? Why aren't celebrities tweeting their disgust about this? It's 2012 guys. Get with the program. 

I'm sorry that this isn't the typical hilarity about my terrible mothering choices or my battle with stretch marks and cellulite, but this has seriously gotten under my skin. While it was never my plan to breastfeed Avery until she was 3 or 4 or whatever age, who cares if someone else does it? Is this really the best thing that people have to discuss? If you don't agree with it, shut your mouth, look the other way, and raise your own child the way you see fit. Would you be less offended if on the cover there was a lone baby, weaned from the breast at 4 weeks, screaming for a mother who wouldn't come because "crying is good for their lungs"? Would that make everybody more comfortable? 

I've heard that the article is actually pretty supportive, but I haven't read it. Regardless, as I said before, the fact that the headline is trying to create shock value is what bothers me. Breastfeeding a toddler should not be "shocking". Not breastfeeding when there is no reason not to should be what this world has a problem with. 

Feel free to support or attack me in the comments. I die for it. 

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