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Posts Tagged ‘Breastfeeding’

This week is World Breastfeeding Week. Most years, the Family Nurturing Centre in Mosman Park does something special to commemorate it. I did pregnancy yoga through both pregnancies at the Family Nurturing Centre and mother/baby yoga with Bug. Once Cub arrived, Bug was just old enough to wreak too much havoc in the centre so I didn’t really get to go to the mother/baby sessions with him. Anyway, I’m part of the community and usually go to the WBW events that they plan.

This year, they planned a train ride from Mosman Park to the city where we would convene for a friendly lunch. They called the media and the West Australian photographer planned to meet us at the city station. Despite the fact that Cub rarely feeds while we are out and about, I decided to go. When I got there, I was a little unsure as to whether I was in the mood for something so social. I did not know most of the people there and felt a little out of place. It got better, though, and soon I was enjoying myself. At the Mosman Park Train Station, Cub surprised me by asking for “moke.” So, ironically, the kid who tends not to feed in public anymore was the first to get on the boob wagon, so to speak, for the day. Of course, our picture got taken a gazillion times as everyone (but me, it seems) brought their camera. 🙂 Cub fed again on the train and more pictures were taken (namely, the one I used in this post). We got to the city and met the newspaper photographer who had us walk towards him while he laid on the floor to shoot from below. It was odd, he had us do it many times … I still don’t know if the picture made the paper.

While we were at the cafe for lunch, there was a television news camera and someone taking statements … I still don’t know if any of this made the news as I never watch television news and no one’s told me if they saw it. Apparently this whole thing was very timely as a legislation spelling out the rights of a woman to breastfeed in public is experiencing difficulties in government at the moment. Apparently the legislation is all but passed but the Liberals (Australia’s conservatives … they don’t seem to understand the meaning of the word “liberal”) are holding it up at the last minute.

Admittedly, I am not as passionate about all of this as I once was. Hell, I’m finding it difficult to be passionate about much these days but that is a different story. Now that Cub is nearly two, my breastfeeding journey is nearing it’s end. I don’t anticipate him feeding for much more than a year longer, give or take a bit. My parenting attentions are moving on to the next steps. My focus is expanding from being a full time carer of my small people to including a life outside the home and beyond breastfeeding and cloth nappies.

Having said that, though, attending this event reminded me *why* I attend these things and why I should continue to do so. When the photo at the top of this post was uploaded onto Facebook, I set it as my profile picture. I like the photo. I don’t look as horrible in it as I normally tend to in photos. Cub looks cute. It’s a nice photo … it just happens to include breastfeeding. The response I got for this photo is what really hit me. I had several people praising me for the very act of using it as my profile photo. I had forgotten how controversal a mere picture of a breastfeeding mother and child could be. Then a friend who I have not seen since before she had children (her twins are now 8 or 9) told me of the discrimination she endured as a breastfeeding mother in Alaska. She was sent to breastfeed the twins on the floor of the public toilet in Wal-Mart!

I am privileged. I have never experienced discrimination for breastfeeding my children in public. And I have done it a lot, all over Perth, on public transport and often feeding a toddler who looks “too old to breastfeed” by current uninformed mainstream attitudes. It’s stories like the one my friend told of her experience that make me do what I do. It’s why I have made it a point never to hide when my children want a breastfeed (except on the rare occasion that only a quiet room will help him focus on what he’s doing). Not that I am an exhibitionist and make a big deal of it. Quite the opposite. I simply do what I need to do for my children regardless of where we are. I try not to let the mainstream attitude get to me. I believe strongly that the more people see women breastfeeding their children, the less of an issue it will be. I won’t hide, I won’t stand for breastfeeding discrimination and I will continue to attend events like the one I did on Sunday.

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Twitter is a wonderful thing. It’s provided me with countless hours of time wastage and entertainment. I have also met some pretty awesome people through it. One of whom being Rachel, AKA Shiny. Not only is she awesome, but she also lives in Perth which meant I got to really meet her … and drink beer with her … and we plan on doing it again (the beer part for sure). 🙂 Any woman who chooses her kittens based on their colours in order to name them Gallifrey and Skaro has got to be pretty awesome … AND she likes Ani DiFranco too! Shiny is a nerd with taste. Except for the liking me part. I haven’t quite figured that out yet. But, amazingly, she felt compelled to award me with this:

I’ve never gotten a blog award before! Of course, I’ve only been blogging for a few months, so that’s not really such a big surprise. It makes me feel special all the same. There is just one catch to this award: I have to list seven things about myself. Hhhmmm, this may be harder than it sounds. Ok, here you go, seven things about me in no particular order:

1) I once went skinny dipping at Mount Ranier … while lots of people watched. No, the watching part wasn’t planned … just a bit of a stupid oversight on the part of my and my friend’s teenage selves (I won’t out her unless she wants to out herself). Although, I suspect my friend knew what she was doing and just strung silly old me along unawares. 😉 It was the summer I met The Geek, he was visiting and we took him to Mt Ranier because that’s what you do with tourists. There was a beautiful lake just under the parking lot/observation point. It was a warmish day (for Washington) and we hiked down to the lake. We decided that it would be refreshing to go skinny dipping (actually, we were daring each other to do it all the way down … I should have known better than to enter into such a dare with this particular friend). The Geek was still chasing me at the time so I was uncomfortable with stripping right there in front of him. So we went to the other side of the lake. Only to find out later (via the sound of some tourist shouting “Hey, there are two girls down there without any clothes on!”) that we had decided to strip & swim within perfect view of the observation point! I’m sure a few of them have some blurry pictures of naked teenagers in their collection of vacation photos …

2)  I almost became a primary school teacher. When I moved to Australia on a student visa, my chosen major was Primary Education. I did a year of the degree and went to two minor pracs (one in a primary school and one in a high school). It was at the end of that year that I realized that I would make a terrible primary school teacher. I do not have the patience for it, nor am I creative enough to invent lesson plans. Oh, and the rest of the people in my year at uni? Could barely stand most of them. The classes I had to take bored the crap out of me, too. My hat goes off to people who can be teachers … It’s a fucking hard and thankless job.  I am not cut out for it.

3)  I’m 30 years old and I still don’t know who I am. It freaks me out. I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up nor do I have any idea what I’m doing now (other than trying to survive the early years of motherhood). I have ideas but I’m not sure they will ever pan out nor am I sure that I will *like* them if they ever do pan out.

4)  I care more about what other people think than I should. I pretend to think I’m awesome but I don’t really think I am. And now I’m admitting to it which is just a big freaking paradox in and of itself, isn’t it? I worry constantly about what other people think and how they view me. It doesn’t stop me from being a weirdie, dreadlocked nerd but it eats away at me just the same.

5)  I consider having my babies naturally at home to be the most empowering and feminist thing I have ever done. Sure, there are things about the first birth that didn’t go exactly as I had hoped (and I may blog the birth story later to explain this).  Consequently, there is a little bit of mother guilt that things went so well for the second.  But those things don’t matter. What matters is that I trusted my body and I did it. I pushed two children out of my vagina in a warm, safe home environment lacking in harsh lighting or superfluous machines that go “ping.” I did it on my own without Drs interfering, without unnecessary medicalisation of the process. Me, my womb, my vagina and my babies working together to create the best moments of my life. If I accomplish nothing else in my life, at least I did that.

6)  I consider succeeding in full term breastfeeding the second most empowering and feminist thing I have ever done. The first time around wasn’t easy. In fact, it was a fucking nightmare that brought me to the brink and back. But I persisted because I knew I could do it and could conceive of no other way to feed my child. After we overcame our horrific problems, I fed with pride. Anywhere. Everywhere. And I still do since Cub is only 19 months old and will likely be feeding for at least another year if not more.  I may hate other parts of my body (especially post baby) but my breasts doing their intended job of feeding children are things to be proud of. I don’t wave them about, I don’t make a big deal about what I’m doing but I do it when I need to, where I need to, regardless of the age of my child because I know that it’s the right thing to do and I know that buying into the idea that a breastfeeding woman must hide is misogynistic, prudish nonsense.

7)  I am essentially a very lazy person and I hate it. There are lots of things I don’t do  because I decide it’s not worth doing or would be too hard to do before I even try. I wish I could change this about myself but, then, that would be too hard, too.

Now, I am supposed to pass this award along to someone else who deserves it. The problem is that I am only just getting started on keeping up with blogs so I have a short list of those I’ve thus far added to my very, very new blog feed … and most of them have already been given this award! But, there are two who, to my knowledge, have not received it  yet and who deserve it for various reasons:

Stay At Home Mayhem

Spilt Milk

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