Monday, December 13, 2010

breasts, part 2

i read a great article on today about unashamed breastfeeding. the author brought up the fact that all the articles on how to nurse "discreetly" add to the idea that breastfeeding is somehow shameful and needs to be hidden. i hadn't thought about that, but it makes sense...the more of those articles i read the more concerned i was about covering every millimeter of skin, the more inclined i was to just pump a bottle instead. now that i'm not worrying about "modesty", it's much easier to feed my baby...which is the point, after all. i'm not flashy about it, and i rarely show skin, but i don't hide under a stuffy blanket either. i still choose to nurse in a fitting room or in my car sometimes if there isn't a quiet and/or comfortable enough place to sit elsewhere, but it's no longer motivated by embarrassment or the thought that public nursing would be doing something wrong. in fact, now it's a little embarrassing when i nurse in the feels silly and awkward to hide something so natural and good. anyways, the article was far more eloquent than me. you can read it here if you like.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

breasts are not the enemy

i've always known i was going to breastfeed once i had a child. it just seemed like the natural thing to do. human milk is the best food for human babies...duh. and it's far more environmentally conscious than using formula, can prevent sickness and allergies in babies, and doesn't cost $30 per week. the decision was an obvious one. it was a little tough getting started, but i was expecting that. what i wasn't expecting was how weird so many people feel about breastfeeding, and how many of them think they have the right to tell me how and where to feed my baby.

most people who are offended by breastfeeding like to offer helpful suggestions such as "only feed the baby at home", "use a pump and bottle", or "nurse in the public bathroom". the root of the offense taking, and the suggestions, is sexism. it may wear the guise of "modesty", but then, so did those who were offended by women wearing pants or having jobs or enjoying sex.
so i'll first address the assinine suggestions, and then the supposed reason for the offense.

"only feed the baby at home": women belong at home doing "women's work". babies need to eat every two hours, so if they are only fed at home it means that their mothers have to stay home. it is impossible to go out without running into feeding time, so mothers should just give up all outside activities and relationships. the real offense is that a woman is doing her work (which, let's face it, you don't get work that's more exclusively female than nursing a baby) outside the home. if you let women nurse in public they might start wanting to go to school or vote!

"use a pump and bottle": if a mother has the audacity to want a social life, she had better disguise herself so as not to appear to be doing women's work in public. pumping takes much more time and effort than nursing but, since mothers can't have anything truly important to do with their time, it should be easy to pump before every outing.

"nurse in the public bathroom": the act of mothering is so repulsive that it belongs in the same category as defecating. furthermore, babies are sub-human and don't deserve to eat in the same places that other people eat. instead they should eat around flushing toilets.

all of these suggestions are offered because people are so hung up about seeing a flash of breast. they claim to be worried about decency, the real issue is sexism. their assumptions are that breasts are strictly sex objects, that breastfeeding mothers must have some secret exhibitionist agenda, and that a glimpse of breast will irreparably scar any child who sees and seduce any man who sees.

the idea that breasts are only sexual is a result of the objectification of women. it's the idea that a woman's body part derives its entire meaning from its ability to please a man. it reduces women to glorified sex toys. i am a multifaceted and multifunctional being. i am sexual and maternal, but neither one defines me or any part of me. you cannot separate out a body part and say that it is strictly a sex object but the rest of the person is not. either you respect women as individual and self-defining beings, or you don't. either i'm a human, whose body parts have many uses and meanings, or i'm an object.

when i expose my breast it is because my child is hungry and one of the primary functions of my breasts is feeding my baby. the welfare of my child is the most important thing to me, so when she's hungry and crying that's all i'm focussed on and i couldn't give two shits if someone sees me feeding her. no one else even crosses my mind, let alone stays there long enough for me to think about offending or tantalizing them.

the idea that seeing a breast would be damaging to a child is ridiculous. kids don't have any concept of sexuality. once they are old enough to have sexual thoughts, it is essential that they are made to see women and breasts as more than sex objects. sure, a 14 year old boy at the mall might be confused and excited to see breastfeeding, but it's important that he face that confusion if he is to grow up respecting women. seeing the non-sexual function of a breast forces the recognition that it is not a sex toy.

if i were to hide away i would be complicit in the lie that women are objects and that breasts are dirty. it is a lie that is as unfair to men as it is to women. it assumes that men are mindless sexual beasts who have no control of themselves. every man has the choice to objectify or to respect women, regardless of how much skin is showing. men are not animals, nor are they more sexual than women. i have hormones and sexual appetites, but that doesn't mean that i go around staring at the bulges of men wearing tight pants or demand that men wear shirts at all times. i use self control and choose to see human beings rather than objects. sexism would have us believe that only women have that ability to choose. but men have the choice as well, and the ability to control themselves. it's why rape is illegal.

so if public breastfeeding offends you, i'd encourage you to reevaluate you thoughts about women. if i make people uncomfortable with their sexist preconceptions then i'm glad, although my goal is not their state of mind but rather my child's state of belly. the bottom line is that my breasts are not the problem. and, if you absolutely can't/won't get past your own issues, you can always just not look at me.

Monday, December 6, 2010

if you love vaccuming so much, why don't you marry it?

i just read an article about finding time for sex when you're a mom. i hate these articles. they seem to be everywhere, and they are always depressing. they are always written from such a defeatist standpoint, as if managing to have a sexual relationship as a parent is pretty much impossible without a daytimer and a truckload of viagra. i have a small baby who sleeps very lightly and has to breastfeed every two hours. i have a husband who works odd shifts at a demanding job. we both have bad backs and massive sleep debts. but, shockingly, we still manage to have sex several times a week. how do we manage this mythical feat of will and strength? we love eachother, so we make intimacy a top priority. it's pretty simple - if you want to have sex with someone, you do. if you don't really want to have sex, everything else will get in the way. the thing that is your top priority is what gets your time first. and nothing should be a higher priority than your spouse. sure, sometimes the baby wakes up at inopportune times. sometimes we are both tired and cranky and stiff. but that's not every single night. there are 24 hours a day, and 7 days a week. if you're not managing to take one or two of those hours to be intimate with your partner, it is not the fault of the laundry or the baby or the job. sex is a really important part of a healthy relationship. it's what makes my relationship with my husband different than my relationship with my best friend. no, i don't always feel super sex-kitteny after being thrown up on, cleaning the kitchen, doing the laundry, and all on almost no sleep. at the end of most days i feel exhausted and frumpy and stressed. but what better way to get relaxed and feel desirable than to be intimate with the man i love? the more sex we have, the sexier i feel. i may not love my new post-baby thighs, but nothing makes me feel better about my body than my husband wanting to see and touch it. when he has a bad day at work and i've had a bad day at home, what better way to comfort eachother than by being intimate? back hurts? - work a massage into the foreplay. baby wakes up? - the 10 minute interruption doesn't have to kill sex for the night. basically, there are always things that one can choose to make more important than one's spouse, whether you have kids or not. i think the real reason it's so hard for some parents to have sex is that they have made the kids and the dog and the chores more important than eachother. my house is usually a total mess, and it's often embarassing when someone stops by unexpectedly. but it's more important to me to have sex with the man i love than to have an impressive house. sleep is a precious, rare commodity, but even sleep is not as important as recharging the most important relationship in my life. the chores can wait, but a healthy marriage can't. and aside from the first few newborn weeks, no baby is so demanding that sex is impossible. we've only been married for a year and a half, but i am committed to doing everything i can to build a great marriage for the long haul. i don't want to be one of those couples who realizes once the kids are grown that they don't have any spark left. the spark doesn't disappear overnight. you either keep the flame going through conscious effort to keep your spouse the top priority, or you let if gradually fade away one 'headache' at a time. 20 years from now, i won't look back and think 'gee, i really wish i had folded the laundry more promptly every time it came out of the dryer'. what will matter in 20 years is the love and affection and intimacy that i've shared with my hubby. all the 'how to squeeze in sex' articles should really be 'get the fuck over being martha stewart' articles.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


this is my sweet girl in her tiny green bay packer jersey. she knows what's up.

that's me in the corner, that's me in the spotlight...

i recently had a really good talk with my mom one afternoon about christianity, and our inability to find a place within it anymore. it's a big step to make after growing up in church, but i feel that it is a necessary one.

i absolutely, deeply, and personally believe in god. i identify with and seek to emulate jesus. i find solace and guidance in the bible. but i am not a christian.

leaving the church is not an act of disillusionment or rebellion. i'm not angry with christianity, and i'm not leaving to join some other religion or become an athiest. i simply recognize that i don't believe the things that christians do, at least within christianity as it is understood in the modern west. the things that describe christians are not things that describe me, and so it would be a misnomer to call myself christian. if you have a friend who you have a few disagreements with, you can get past them and stay friends. but if you disagree with that person on every issue, what is the point after a while in hanging out and trying to make nice? without some commonality a relationship can't exist.

christianity began as a community of people trying to follow christ together, but it has become a set of socio-political values and mores; a religious organization; a demographic. anymore, being a christian seems to mean being pro-war, anti-abortion, sexually repressed, anti-gay, anti-science, patriotic/nationalist, and capitalist. one could try to argue that these are just practices and dogmas and that what really defines christianity is doctrine. but that argument doesn't work because the average church attendee can't explain church doctrine and doesn't know its scriptural basis or if it even has such basis. what one practices daily is what one truly believes. faith without works is dead. practice IS doctrine, and any doctrine not being practiced is meaningless.

i have doctrinal differences as well, but with such practical differences the theological ones are almost moot. since the church is so stuck on gay marriage and creationism (although neither stance can be scripturally supported) there is never time/cause/will to get to the deep stuff. i don't believe in a literal hell or the necessity of the crucifixion for atonement, but you had me at "7 literal days".

there is of course the hipster brand of christianity that loves slogans such as "it's not a religion, it's a relationship" and words like "emergent" and "dialogue", but it's just a cooler haircut on the same body. having a gay friend and swearing sometimes and meeting at a coffee shop doesn't really change anything. we'd seem to get allong for a while, but as soon as anything serious came up our incompatibility would become evident.

like i said earlier, i'm not bitter with the church. i just don't belong in it anymore. it's time to part ways. it's an amicable, but a necessary split. it isn't that we're not friends because we had a fight, we just grew apart - we just don't have anything to talk about anymore. sometimes i think the jesus i know is not the same one they know, and maybe we only thought we had a mutual friend when we met in the first place.

i believe in the transformative love of christ, and i will continue to try to know it and live it more deeply. i believe in a creative, communal, beautiful, holy god, and i will continue to try to honor and mirror their image. but i don't believe i can do that with integrity from within the church. i would love to find a community of people seeking to live the same way, but christianity is no longer that community for me. i'm a little sad, as i would be to drift away from any old friend, but it's the only honest thing to do.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

an editorial to-do list

second blog of the day, because it feels good to have a place to write again. the first two months that haven was here, i didn't have any spare brain cells for writing. i was pretty much a milk producing zombie. then once she got on a schedule i started wanting to write again, but just didn't have the time. but life is getting more manageable by the day, and i feel like my soul will shrink a little if i don't start writing.
there is a lot on my mind, because i have so much down time where all i can really do while nursing is think. so here is a list of what i'm going to blog about, though not necessarily in this order, until my brain calms down:

*leaving christianity
*peter pan and miley cyrus
*don't ask/don't tell
*breasts are not the enemy
*feminist homemaking
*love and freedom
*'twilight', and how abuse got hip
*a defense of premarital sex
*history is not nonfiction

these will maybe be several blogs for each topic. they've been sitting in my head for a long time, and i won't be able to really sort them out until i've typed them out. so that's the plan. hopefully i'll start tomorrow, but it's the weekend and i may just spend time with hubby. definitely monday though. nap time for haven is going to be writing time for me.

back to ye olde blog

last time i posted my sweet baby was the size of a lima bean in my belly, and now she's 5 months old, 15lbs, and laughing and sitting. i barely remember being pregnant, or even the first two months after she was born. it all rushed by. here is my haven:

my internet is being a pain in the ass, but i'll post more pictures later. these first two are at birth, and 2.5 months.

i've got a lot of down time while haven nurses and naps, so i'm back to blogging. i'm typing this one-handed as she sleeps in my other arm. i am wicked good at doing things one-handed now. motherhood is hard - i can't remember not feeling tired, and there are a million things to worry about, and the house is always a wreck, and i feel like a dairy cow - but it is also so sweet. she smiles in her sleep and she strokes my hand when i'm nursing her, and it just melts my heart.
i don't have a lot of time anymore for painting or crochet or anything artistic. i barely have time to shower regularly. but i feel like raising haven is an art project on a massive scale. she is by far the coolest work i've ever created, and the most rewarding. every day she learns and does something new, and i am learning to see things in a new light as well. even things that i think are so mundane, like folding laundry, are new and wonderful to haven. each trip to the grocery store is an adventure. seeing her amazement at the world makes me rethink the things i take for granted. i call it "stopping to smell the diapers".

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

blah blah blah baby stuff

it's been forever since i blogged. i need to be more consistent about things...maybe someday.
i'm moving up to DC in three days. the movers come to pack everything on friday, and i fly on saturday. until the start of this week it didn't really seem real, even though i was getting ready for it. but suddenly it is real and i'm really leaving and i really feel sad. i'm going to miss my friends. i'm going to miss my cozy apartment. of course, i'm excited about the move. i'm so glad to finally get to live with tony, and our new place is beautiful. but i'm also sad. i don't like changes, even when they are good and necessary ones and even when i've chosen to make them.

in news about my foetus that is way more interesting to me than to anyone else, baby is now 4 inches long and weighs 1.5oz. it has eyebrows, finger and toenails, and can suck its thumb. it has distinguishable sex organs now, though we still won't be able to find out for a few weeks whether it is a he or a she. it's starting to grow hair on its head. i'm still hardly showing at all. i really hope i start to show soon.
i've decided to have a home birth. i've been contacting midwives in DC, and was excited to find out that my insurance covers home birth! no cold, hard, infection filled hospital for me! no condescending doctors and fussy nurses! no unnecessary and counterproductive interventions and monitoring! i'm so relieved. at a hospital i would have had to spend my energy fighting for respectful treatment and a natural birth. with a midwife, those come standard. and, she will come to my home for prenatal visits! i'm so excited. tony is leery of it, but i think he will come around. the statistics are pretty black and white in favor of home birth as the safest option as far as preventing infection, fetal distress, c-section, excess birth pain, and postpartem depression. i had been really worried about birth, but now that home birth is an option i feel very much at peace and confident.

i'm becoming one of those people who only talks about boring pregnancy things. i realize this is happening, but i can do little to nothing to stop it. i used to have all kinds of interesting thoughts about the world and life...they have all been eclipsed by hormones. this is just the way it is. i hope that i will become interesting again after the baby is born, but i doubt it. i think this sort of thing only gets worse.