Saturday, July 6, 2013

Persephone Rising

It's Spring. New life. Warmer temperatures. Bees. Butterflies. Bugs. Easter. Ostara. Anniversaries.

I have written a lot about my miscarriage. I even wrote about each little anniversary associated with it - dates that hold painful memories and prick my heart when my eyes pass them on a calendar. When Spring comes, it brings all of it's wonderful new scents and sounds. The smell of new buds on a tree, hyacinths blooming in my garden and grass poking up through the dirt accompany the sounds of birds flirting with one another and horny foxes calling out to their lovers (a sound which mimics a woman being stabbed, fyi). The sun feels just a little warmer on my skin and stays out later in the evening, giving us all more time to play outside. Spring brings resurrection in many forms as the Earth wakes up and new life is created. Easter reminds us of the Resurrection of Christ and the triumph over death. Ostara celebrates the awakening of the Goddess, some celebrations focusing on the Rise of Persephone from the dark underworld and the awakening of the Earth as her mother, Demeter, celebrates the return of her daughter. New life is the hallmark of Spring. I feel it each year - it's a marvelous energy that revitalizes me and slaps me out of my Winter laziness. However, for three years all of the sounds, sights, smells, and celebrations in Spring have reminded me of death as well. My baby, River died on March 15, 2010. I chose to wait until my body naturally miscarried her, which happened on April 18th, 2010.

When I see my pink hyacinths poking up from the ground and I smell their sweet scent, I am reminded of her. When I smudge my house on Ostara, cleansing each corner with smoke from my sage and lavender bundles, I am reminded of her. When I hear the constant chattering of robins having just returned from their Winter vacations, I am reminded of her. Holy Week, a big deal in my Catholic religion, brings memories of my heartache, my physical pain, my failure and all the blood that came with it. Holy Thursday, the observance of the Last Supper, is when the midwife called and told me she was gone per the ultrasound. I took my son to a farm that day - for a hayride to the Easter bunny's house, trying my best to play normal...as if there wasn't a dead baby riding along in my womb. Good Friday, the solemn observance of Christ's death. I took my son to a bouncy playland, where I bounced in an inflatable cube with him and felt a jolt to my heart as one second my mind told me to be careful with all of the bouncing because I was pregnant and the next second my mind remembered it didn't matter anymore. I wasn't risking anything other than the tears that wouldn't stop falling as my son yelled, "look at how high I can jump, mama!" I was numb to the idea of going to Mass. I didn't want to listen to the audience participation (like Rocky Horror, only it's the Crucifixion) of the Scriptural recount of Christ's torture and death. I numbly painted eggs with my son, not giving a shit at that point if the dyes were natural or from a chemical tab made by PAAS. On Easter, a Mass celebrating the Resurrection was the last thing I wanted to do, but I went. I bitterly listened to the happy hymns and the proclamations that death was overcome and asked God, "why wasn't her death overcome? Why am I sitting in a pew celebrating life, when my womb carries death? Where were you?" Each year since, the familiar spiritual rhythms have reminded me of her.

I didn't handle the first anniversary of her death well in 2011. I tried to be strong. I was pregnant at the time and I didn't want to get swallowed in that grief and transfer that negative energy to my baby. I was afraid that my sadness would hurt her. Still, I wept and I got angry. Anger has been my go-to emotion with my miscarriage. Because it fucking pisses me off that my baby died. I made it through that first anniversary with plenty of tears and sad Facebook posts. I thought the next year would be easier. Time heals, they say.

March-April 2012 - anniversary number two. I went into it with good intentions. My grief wasn't going to hold me down, no sir. In the midst of all of those dates, I found out that some stupid chick, who was very mad at me for not taking her side in an argument she had with another girl (they have a major junior high mentality), had a private little Facebook group where she created a thread about how much I suck. She talked about how ugly I am, how stupid I am and insulted me about everything she could think of. She called me a bad mother, a bad vet tech and a bad wife. She didn't call me a bad friend, though, which I thought was funny. Any other time, I would be able to let something like that roll right off my back, especially since most of the comments back to her were telling her what an asshole she was for posting that crap. Sadly, I was too fragile to be strong. I didn't tell anyone else about it - only a few other people who were part of that group knew and I pretended to laugh it off and move on. It ate at me, though. None of it was true and I knew she was acting out of her own misplaced anger, but I was raw and open because I was thinking of River and I allowed myself to feel more pain than necessary. I thought, "really? Is this going to really happen at this time of year? Any other time of year would be find for finding out that people are assholes behind my back, but I can't take it at this time." This led to a cascade of events. First, I just fucking cried my heart out. I couldn't take it. I wanted to be in a protective bubble where I couldn't see bad things or feel pain. Second, I took it out on my husband. I yelled at him, screamed because he wasn't mad enough or sad enough for me. I bitched him out for everything that could possibly annoy me about him. Third, I did the most obvious thing in this day and age and I took to Facebook with my anger. I posted random status updates about being so done, so empty and so sad. I posted angry things, too. People were obviously concerned because I obviously went a little crazy. I took it further. I read some snark on some friend's page, assumed she meant me (due to my postings) and left a not-so-bitchy-but-slightly-maybe-bitchy comment or three on her page. Then I texted her a heartfelt, "fuck you." These few little things erupted into a shitstorm among me a couple of "very close" friends over the following few days. I 100% fully admit that I had been out of line, but I no longer regret it. It turns out, that my outburst led these very close friends to come down on me hard. Emails were exchanged with vile hatred. Friends I thought loved me were able to very quickly tell me how much I supposedly suck. I was initially devastated. I was mad at myself for saying hurtful things. I tried to explain myself. I made phone calls in hysterics, begging for a chance to explain what was going on and why I was acting this way (they knew it was a bad time of year for me as they had always supported me through it), but I was met with more resistance and hateful words. I deserved some of them, sure, I guess. I couldn't handle the thought of another loss. I was beside myself with sadness and then *poof* it went away as quickly as it came. An angel in eyeliner and messy lipstick came my way because a little quote popped up on Pinterest - it was a picture of the beautiful Marilyn Manson and his words, "If you want to find out who your real friends are, sink the ship. The first ones to jump aren't your friends." That was followed by another random graphic on Facebook (it's amazing how big a part social media can play sometimes) that said, "Fake friends are like shadows - always near you in your brightest moments, but nowhere to be seen at your darkest hour." As if I needed Pinterest and Facebook to show me what I had always known deep, deep down inside but never could admit - they were never true friends. I know true friends. I have them. I am one. I have held some of my friends through shit that would make anyone's head spin. I have been spit at, literally and figuratively, by friends in pain, but I stuck with them despite their misplaced aggression because that is what a real friend does. The negative thoughts, anger, hurt and hatred just left my soul. I wished them peace and moved on mentally. I just didn't care. I reflected on those days a lot in the following months. I had a good talk with my friend, Lauren, who is never afraid to tell me how it is and will freely tell me when I overreact or overthink things.She assured me that, while I was probably a little too angry initially, everything that happened was not my fault and that I learned who was and wasn't a true friend. She reminded me that I am a rather insecure person, but that I own those insecurities and do not allow people to use them against me. This frustrates people. I am strong, I speak up for myself and I do not pretend to be anything other than the real me, pretty or ugly. I hit nerves. Some people can take this. Some cannot. I do not need those who cannot accept me for who I am. I need to hold and value those who stand by me and understand that I'm not always this awesome.  As I said, I wished peace and moved on.

This year, I was a bundle of nerves as the anniversaries came closer. I was worried about how I would act. I mean, last year I said I would be cool and then I went nuts. I couldn't make any promises to myself or other people this year. I was feeling okay, but well aware that I could blow at any moment. I was stuck on the edge of that little knife of pain, waiting for the wrong move to knock me down and slice me up. It never came. I cried and I grieved. I remembered. The rage didn't appear. I climbed off the edge of that knife, saw myself reflected in it and acknowledged all my feelings. There was no fallout this year. No alienation of friends. No screaming at the husband or the children for no reason. No desire to hurt other people in order to make my pain more palpable to the rest of the world. I remembered River, planted things for her, talked to her, talked about her, prayed for her. I did it all in peace and calm. Where it came from, I'll never know. This year was entirely different - more peaceful, more accepting. At first, I was worried that maybe I didn't care enough. Why wasn't I sadder? Why wasn't I angry? It's what I'm used to. I'm used to be loud with all of my emotions, so where was it this year. I wasn't inviting the blind evil rage back, but I did wonder why I didn't feel everything so hard this year. Did I love her less? Did I miss her less? I'm I "over it?" The answer is NO to all of those questions. I love her more and miss her everyday. She's literally tattooed on my body and she'll always be a part of me and my family. This year, somehow, my soul was able to allow some peace. I was allowed to simply remember and honor her without the blackness of my usual negative emotions. So, I stopped asking myself "Why" and just let it be.

Who knows if this is how it will be in the years to come. Perhaps I will have very hard years followed by easy ones followed by years that fall in between. Maybe I'll always have peace on those anniversaries. Maybe I am like Persephone, rising out of my own personal hell, greeted by the Sun and letting myself see the new life and resurrections around me. Unlike Persephone, I hope I am not taken back.

 


***Note: This was written in May of 2013 and sat unpublished for two months for no reason other than my own laziness.***

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Photos in Five Minutes - Boobies Included

Requested tree hug
Last year, I would occasionally ask folks on my Facebook page to give me ideas for pictures to post on the blog. I give them five minutes to chime in and then photograph the things that were suggested. I haven't done it in a while and I completely forget that blogger can be a bit of a dick about uploading lots of photos. In any case, here are today's requested photos. This is excited stuff folks, there's pussy, booby and even refrigerator photos. That gets people hot. Yes, I know everything in my kitchen needs to be cleaned. It's been so humid that I melt when I move, so cleaning has been on the back burner lately.

My super smart and loverly friend, Crazy Dumbsaint of the Mind, requested a photo of me hugging a tree. I'm not sure if this qualifies as a tree or a bush, but it still needed a big ol' hug.

Stacey asked me to photograph my kitchen window. Alas, I do not have a kitchen window. I would really like one. I have this weird fantasy where I have a kitchen window, right by my sink. Perhaps, it's not a weird fantasy. I personally feel that having a window by the sink would make me much more likely to do dishes in a timely manner. Since I don't have a real window, I decided to add one in using my mad ass Paint skillz. It's hard to see here, but there is an apple tree, some happy little clouds, the sun, a bushy-tailed dog, poppies and som turkey vultures. That shit is copyrighted, yo. Don't even try to steal my artwork.








Liberty Ann requested "boobies." She did not specify which type of boobies. I brought up these images on the Google. This is a delightful little bird known as the Blue-Footed Booby. 












Lindsay wanted to see my toaster and Amanda requested my microwave. I don't use either very much. They sit side by side on my crowded counter. Yes, they need to be wiped down.
Yes, those are produce stickers on the door of the microwave. My son loves to stick those in random places in the house.















Next up is a request by Thomas. He wanted a tree and a flower. He didn't specify if they needed to be real, so he gets the tree-shaped toothbrush holder and the flower in my hair. 
The monkey tree toothbrush holder is from Target. I balance out my betrayal of the planet for buying China-made goods by using Preserve toothbrushes, which are made out of recycled yogurt cups. Of course, I gag whenever I remember they are made from yogurt cups since I think yogurt tastes funny. 

I personally think everyone should wear flowers in their hair now and then. I do. Someone from my belly dance studio made awesome flower hair picks. I love them - it brightens my day and attracts the occasional bee.









Pussy shot! This is my cat, Gawain. Chandi wanted to see a kitty pic. Gawain is 9 years old and I have had him since he was about 12 weeks old. He found me at my old job when I was working with one of the horses in the barn. Apparently, one of our clients tried to give him to the clinic. When the receptionist told him they were unable to take any animals in for adoption at the time, the person left with the kitten and threw him out into the parking lot. He wandered around, found me, and began rubbing up against my leg and purring his poor little heart out. I had just taken in a baby kitty, Duncan, 12 weeks earlier and sore up and down that we were going to be a one cat household. Ha! Gawain here is one of 5 (6 total if you count my little Abigael in Heaven). I put him in a cage in the kennel and labelled it, "Gawain," after one of the Knights of the Round Table. I couldn't take another cat and the clinic decided that they would keep him an find him a home. The next day, I found that the kennel attendants didn't like the name I chose and changed it to "Poopy." Yes, Poopy. At that moment, I decided he was mine. No one was naming him Poopy. I'm a sucker.

April wanted to see my favorite blanket. Donni Lee wanted to see my favorite books and DVDs. It's hard to choose those. Also, my kids were watching, so I couldn't go near the DVDs because then they would start screaming to watch something and the toddler would insist on pulling out every single DVD and stepping on them. I managed to steal one, mainly because I found it hiding under the couch. I swiped it when the kids weren't looking. Labyrinth is the movie. It's my favorite. I saw it in the theater back in 1986 when I was 7 years old. That was my introduction to David Bowie, one of the biggest influences in my life over the last 27 years. Love him. Love him. Love him. The books are; Earth Prayers, The Birth House, and The Red Tent. I really can't choose favorite books and, to be honest, I chose these because they were my favorite books on the top shelf of my bookshelf. Frankenstein is one of my all time favorites, but I don't actually have a copy at the moment.
The blanket was made for my son by my mom. It's a bunch of really bright robots. We all know I love bright colors. 



Speaking of bookshelves, Lady and Hoots wanted to see mine.
This is a cheap ass number from Wal-Mart. I had to build it myself. Surprisingly, it was USA made. It's actually held up well for 5 years. It houses my books. Not my kids books...mine! There are novels, veterinary texts, pregnancy books, poetry anthologies (belonging to my husband), various human medicine texts, mythology books, an art history textbook, journals, earth-friendly books, religion stuff, biographies, home how-tos, breastfeeding texts and books and more. There's even a book about Storm Chasing (Into the Storm by Reed Timmer). I read a lot of both fiction and non-fiction.







Sarah wanted to see my dishwasher detergent or the ingredients that I use to make it. I don't make my own. I haven't tried that or making my own laundry detergent yet. I see so many mixed reviews on both and I just haven't made the leap. I normally use Ecover. I used to use Planet until it became hard to find in local stores. I also like Sun and Earth, a local company, but it's hard for me to find close by and the cost isn't always okay with me. I usually get Ecover on sale. I have also used Seventh Generation and would get it via Amazon Subscribe and Save, but they have super raised the price lately and the company isn't my favorite. They're big on greenwashing.


I do dishes by hand, not the dishwasher. Ours is old and gross.







Brave is the person who ventures inside my fridge, which is what Chelsea and Humble Spoon wanted to do. It's not that bad, really, just rather empty. We've got lots of eggs, yogurt (not mine!), cottage cheese, plenty of local milk, not-so-local cheddar, a bit of fruit (unseen - it was on the counter), water, maple syrup, juices (yes, even *gasp* non-organic orange juice. Yes, I know about the flavor packs they use and how it will cause me to grow breasts inside my mouth), and some lonely little celery stalks destined for the stock pot. I don't know why I'm listing everything - just saving you from squinting.









Even more brave is the person who wants to see my kitchen sink, as requested by Jennifer. Someone call my husband and tell him to do the dishes.














Michelle wanted to see a random dog, but I couldn't find one, so here is a picture of my dog, McKenna. She passed away almost exactly 5 years ago after a 19 month battle with bone cancer and an amputation of her leg. She kicked that cancer's ass for quite a while.

















Thomas wanted to see a random animal. This little dude is an alpaca made of alpaca wool. You can also see a goofy little turtle along with the Goddess doll lovingly made for me by Joni Rae of Tales of A Kitchen Witch fame.













Trista wanted to see my favorite plant, which I absolutely cannot choose. This is yellow loosestrife. It's considered an invasive weed in some locations, but it never spreads in my garden and doesn't bother anyone here. The bees love it. I love it. It stays.













Ashley asked for a picture of something yummy that I grew myself that most people don't. Well, I can't grow food here because the apartment complex sprays pesticide like it's water. This is all I have in my house that I grew myself - my dehydrated and ground up placenta. I only make a few capsules at a time. Because I'm lazy.












Last, but not least, Dixie wants to see my favorite spot to sit and take a breath of fresh air. Since I was stuck at home today, I chose to photograph that location here. I normally like to go to a park or the beach for some nice air. This is just my crappy little Ikea chair on my front "porch."This is where I sit and read or yell at my children while they play.

Holy crap. We made it through all eleventy billion pictures. I am sorry for those who are still using dial up. All photos are copyright ME, so don't steal them or I will do something drastic, like call you and sing or leave buttcrack sweat on your favorite chair. I know they're awesome, but their mine. All mine. They were taken with my Droid because I couldn't find my camera. It was where I left it, which is the last place I thought to look - in my camera bag.

Hope you enjoyed my dirty kitchen, my flowers, my placenta, and the pussy.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Nursing in Public: It doesn't Always Make the News

In our little online world, we often hear about nursing in public in two ways: 1.) How to do it without a wardrobe malfunction and 2.) stories of harassment for doing it. There's plenty to say about nursing bras, nursing tops, altering your wardrobe so you don't have to buy specialty stuff. And there is more than plenty to say about women being harassed in public. It happens nearly everyday. It can be a small moment where a passerby makes a rude remark and keeps on walking. It can be the ignorant comments often found on blogs and articles about breastfeeding - "I totally support nursing, but women need to be discreet about it." It could be something much bigger, such as an actual business telling a mother that she is not allowed to breastfeed in public within their walls. You literally cannot throw a nursing pad without hitting a story about a mother who has been harassed in some way shape or form. I have addressed the issue of the rights of mothers to nurse their babies in public without harassment several times myself.

However, there is something we hear about far less - something that doesn't get a lot of attention. Happy experiences. Yeah yeah, some times a blogger, myself included, will ask women to share their happy nursing in public experiences on their page. It does happen, but not as often as I would like.

I just want to simply tell mothers that many women have nursed in public without a single dirty look or rude comment. It's not always a horror fest of ignorant comments. You are not always on the defensive. I am one of those mothers. I nursed my son for 3 years. I nursed him in public whenever he had the need. I have been nursing my daughter for 18 months now and she shows no signs of slowing down. She, too, has been nursed in public whenever the need arises. I have nearly 5 years of combined nursing in public experience and I have not had one single bad comment. I have never been asked to cover up, to move, to leave. My first time nursing in public was when my son was 4 days old. He began to scream and turn bright red with his furious hunger in the waiting room of the pediatrician's office. Being a new mom, I was a little nervous and wasn't as graceful with manipulating my clothing, my bra, my baby, his blanket. I remember trying to cover him just for a few moments as he latched on. That did not go over well. People looked at me, but more because my son was obviously screaming from hunger and not because they were shocked to see a woman nurse in public. And that was the last time I felt nervous.

I have had the opposite of negative attention. I have gotten compliments and smiles. I have had strangers walk by and say, "I miss feeding my babies," or "That is just the best thing in the world." Not too long ago, I stood in line in Toys 'r' Us and the cashier and two customers noticed me standing there nursing Squishy. The cashier smiled at her. One of the customers commented that it was just so nice to not have to carry bottles and bags and just feed whenever and wherever. The other customer and cashier agreed. And then they gushed over the infant nursing on my breast.

Those moments happen, too.

For what's it's worth, I have nursed in some of the big offenders when it comes to businesses harassing mothers. I have nursed in every aisle and department of Target. I nursed at Applebees. I have nursed at the YMCA. I'm out and about everyday and I have a long list of places where I have nursed easily without issues.

We don't see news articles proclaiming, "Mother nurses baby in public, while shopping in the shoe department of Sears. Several customers notice and smile and carry on with their shopping."  It's not because it's a rare occurrence, but it's because positivity doesn't always sell. You don't always hear about the woman in the coffee shop, who is told to please make herself comfortable while they get her order and they'll bring her coffee to her while she is nursing. You don't always hear about the waiter who brings an extra glass of water for the mom nursing at one of his tables because he has heard that nursing moms need to drink more. We don't always notice the nice old ladies with blue hair who walk by with a smile and a happy sigh while your nursing your baby and pushing your shopping cart at the grocery store. The grocery clerk who goes out of his way to help you carry your bags out to the car so you can keep nursing without carrying extra stuff never makes the headlines. These people exist.

There is no denying that we still have work to do when it comes to educating the public about breastfeeding and help others to understand that nursing in public is a right and there is nothing wrong with it. We're working on it. Change for the better will happen.

I just wanted to take this small moment to reassure new mamas who may be scared of nursing in public because they hear all of these stories about harassment. You don't have to go out there expecting that you'll need to defend yourself for feeding your baby everyday. I want you to know that there are so many times when it goes perfectly and the only attention you get is a smile or a mother of grown children reminiscing of when she nursed her babes on a bench at the mall. Remember, you are taking a stand even when you quietly nurse your baby at a table in the food court. Even if you don't get a smile or a comment, someone will notice. And that someone might be a mom-to-be who saw how comfortably you sat there while feeding your baby. She'll think to herself, "I can do that, too." There may be a young man who sees you and learns that boobs have several functions and it's fine for a woman to use them to feed her baby in public. You may get noticed by a younger girl, years away from having her own children, who doesn't even realize that she was exposed to a normal way of feeding babies. You made it look normal and natural and, while she may not realize it at the time, a little seed will be planted somewhere in the back of her brain, quietly waiting until the day she blooms with new life and realizes, "hey, I can do that, too." So rock on with your publicly nursing self!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Attachment Parenting Communities: In Need of Repair

When I first read Conscience Parenting's blog about being over the Attachment Parenting community, I was all, "YOU GO GIRL!" Then, I read some responses on various pages and in my groups and I felt a little ticked at the blog - like she was maybe throwing all of us AP folks under the bus with the loonies. I also read a wonderful counter by Evolutionary Parenting that I also agree with. Now, I am back my YOU GO GIRL response to the original piece.

I have read a lot of butthurt in the past 24 hours since I discovered the post. People are taking what she wrote very personally. In a way, I understand that. Most of us are very passionate about our parenting and it can be hard to read anything negative. However, she isn't attacking the philosophy of attachment parenting. She is not attacking those of us who practice this method yet are open and accepting of those who parent differently. She is speaking of a very real problem in the AP community. You will find extremism in every forum about every subject everywhere online. We focus on the AP issue here because this is something that's part of our lives. I think we have all seen it. Parents who attacks others who don't believe in the same philosophy. Lactivists who bash the hell out of formula feeders. Intactivists who think ANYONE who circumcises their child - despite the fact that they didn't even have the proper information - should have their children taken away. Babywearers who think even a minute in the stroller will turn your child into an unattached zombie. Co-sleepers who think the mere thought of placing a baby in a crib for a few hours will cause low SAT scores. Cloth diaper fanatics who think even one disposable diaper automatically sets your kid up for ass cancer. Gentle discipliners who think the slightest raise of your voice will turn your child into a sociopath. We've seen it. We know it's out there. It's happened in the comments on most pages. It's happened on this page. It's happened to me. I was bashed on a local AP group for stating that I would use a stroller from time to time on really long walks. Bashed. As if that one act would undo every other AP moment. We know this contingent exists and we know they give us all a bad name. We know they are the reason we are viewed as crazy.

I agree that there is a level of fanaticism on some pages. The worship of certain bloggers does exist. And there are most definitely bloggers who seem to require that you agree lockstep with everything they say and any voice of dissent will be banished. That's real. Hey, it's their page so they are free to accept who they wish and preach what they wish, but that doesn't mean they speak for all of us and we know that those voices sometimes give us a bad name.

I have been called a troll. Your very own beloved Funky Little EarthChild has been called a troll. I have had the terrible audacity to suggest that I do not agree with every nurse-in that has been held. I was told point blank that I moved the whole women's movement back on that one and somehow my thoughts were equal to hating the Civil Rights movement. I have the ridiculous notion that bashing formula feeders and calling them lazy bad mothers won't win hearts and that breastfeeding advocates would do better to treat them kindly.I obviously hate breastfeeding because I suggested that you can be a good breastfeeding advocate even if you don't march, don't nurse-in, don't post photos and don't speak the loudest. And let's not even mention the shitstorm I once provoked by stating that unassisted birth isn't for everyone. That's a real pearl clutcher right there. All of those things have earned me a troll title at some point or another. There are some big time bloggers - including ones that you all love (and that's okay) - who have privately shit talked me - ME - to the extreme. This is just another extension of the high school mean girl club and I totally understand why someone like Conscience Parenting is disillusioned by it all.

As I said, there has been a bit of butthurt and misunderstanding of the intent of Conscience Parenting's original post. Don't worry - I went there, too, for a few moments last night after I read it. She is not saying that Attachment Parenting is bad. She is not trying to start a war between any groups. And there is no "page war" between Conscience Parenting and Evolutionary Parenting. She is trying to shed the light on a very real problem in this community. This is a wonderful method of parenting. It's the way it should be. However, there are some nasty extremists with some very loud voices who bring negative attention and so we all get stuck under the same "they're crazy judgmental nazis" umbrella. Many have been judged and hurt for not being 100% AP and not doing things "the right way." Some people can let that roll off their back. Others are more affected and may feel isolated by those they originally trusted. This is the crap that people see. It's the stuff that gets the most attention. Is that wrong? Yes! But that's the way it is and it's what pushes many away from attachment parenting.

This is the part where I go on a different path than Conscience Parenting. She is doing what works best for her and her family. If she does not want to fully associate herself with this community, then she should not be forced to do so. She should not be criticized for doing something that she feels is the best for her. Obviously, the fighting and the judging affects her spirit in a negative way and she wants to distance herself from that. I respect and honor that. She's not giving up this type of parenting for her family, she's taking a step back from some of the extremism. She knew this would cause a virtual poo-storm and that she'd be criticized for it, but she spoke up anyway. That's important and admirable. And while I have had similar misgivings about the attachment community - and I don't even label myself an Attachment Parent because this is simply the way I was raised and it felt normal for me - I have decided to be one of the voices that will speak loud enough with my words and actions to drown out the crazies. Judging a mama for formula feeding? Bashing someone for using Huggies? Giving the evil eye to an exhausted mother who raised her voice? I'll let people know that we're not all like you. I want to see more babies with attached parents. I want to see more breastfeeding. More cloth diapering. I want more gentle discipline. I want genital integrity for all babies. I want to see an end to Crying It Out. I want to see more baby wearing. I just won't shame others while I spread my message. I won't tell people they are bad parents because they are not like me. I won't call them lazy. We're all welcome to express our opinions, but if you try to use words or actions to hurt other parents and to shame them into becoming a super attachment parent just like you, I'll probably lose a little respect for you.  Oh, yes, I know us attachment parents have been judged. We know what it's like to have to defend our choices on a daily basis. And that's no reason to do it to others. Isn't that what we teach our children?

The truth is that many of us who fall under the attachment parenting category want to see a better world for our children. We want children to be loved and respected. We come from a place of very good intentions. Some of us are louder than others. Some of us have made mistakes in our journey. There are some who give us a bad name for various reasons, but the majority of us are good and welcoming. We need to realize that we are a good group of people, but there are kinks in our armor that need to be fixed. That's not a bad thing. Knowing there are some problems gives us a chance to look within, make the necessary repairs and march on - shining even brighter.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Second Class

Folks, I'm pissed. I'm so pissed, that I have just sat down to write a quickie little blog about it right here. I'm so pissed, that I pushed my lunch aside so that I can type this out. And it's a good lunch - steak and onions. It'll wait.

I just read an article that I found from Momma Trauma about a young mother, a teenager in high school, named Jaielyn Belong. Jaielyn gave birth to a baby boy and would like to return to high school to finish her education and graduate. She is currently enrolled at Lake Forest High School, which is located in Felton, Delaware. Jaielyn is breastfeeding her son and would like to be able to pump at some point during her school day between classes. The school is denying her request, stating that the pump would be too noisy and that there is no where to store the milk. According to the nurse, the fridge is only for medicine. Hello, ass, breastmilk IS medicine. School employees told her that she'd have to nurse before school and then wait until she got home to feed him again. No pumping at school. According to the article, they won't even budge if Jaielyn brings in a doctor's note.

Please read the full article on the Momma Trauma website:

Delaware Teen Mom Denied Breastfeeding Accomodations

I personally believe that teenage mothers are a class of people that our society feels is perfectly acceptable to discriminate against. Teen mothers are treated as subhumans from the conception of their children to the birth and then beyond. They are treated as if they are stupid, classless, useless, slutty, immoral whores who are nothing but parasites and black marks on our society. I don't give two fucks what your religion says or what your morals dictate, teen mothers are still human beings and should be treated as such. This situation here is a prime example of why we have far to go in our treatment of teen mothers.


We all know that breastfeeding is the normal way to feed a baby. We are aware of the mountain of health benefits that come with breastfeeding, both for the mother and the child. We all know there are risks to not breastfeeding. But did you know that teenage mothers are more unlikely to breastfeed than there adult counterparts? Only about half of teenage mothers will attempt to breastfeed their babies at birth, but that number drops to 19% by 6 months post partum. There are several reasons for this such as the lack of support, lack of breastfeeding education, social stigmas and - what's that? - the return to school. There has been a desire among health officials and breastfeeding professionals and advocates in this country to increase the numbers of teen mothers who breastfeed. And here we have a mother who is perfectly willing to do so, yet her school is standing in her way.


You know, one of my very first experiences as a "breastfeeding counselor" came when I was a teenager - assisting and counseling a teen mother who wanted to breastfeed. I know quite a few women who became mothers as teens and who specifically like to work with teenage moms to provide them with the education and support to successfully breastfeed their children.

Out of all the girls who will drop out of high school, one third of them do so because they become pregnant. Only 40% of teenage mothers continue on and graduate from high school. These are dismal statistics. Unacceptable. Work must be done - and is being done - to ensure that these young women can have the resources to continue their educations and graduate from high school. And, and look here, we have a young mother who wants to do just that, yet her school is setting up road blocks.

We know what Jaielyn will go through if her school succeeds in bullying her into leaving the pump at home. It means she will go 8 hours without nursing or pumping. It means she will be at an increased risk for developing plugged ducts or mastitis. By the way, a good case of mastitis can knock her off her ass and leave her sick at home - missing school! It means her milk production is at risk of dropping. Would she have to supplement? Supplement can lead to even more of a supply drop. Why should her baby miss out? We also know that babies who are breastfed are less likely to develop illness, including ear infections or colds. Yes, we all have anecdotal evidence of a formula fed baby who never gets sick or a breastfed baby who gets repeat ear infections. However, the evidence is clear that breastfed babies are less likely to become sick. So, if we increase her baby's chances of getting sick, it means Jaielyn will have to stay home to tend to her baby and make doctor visits. More missed school. How is that fair to Jaielyn? How is that fair to her little boy?

The school says she might get bullied or teased if allowed to pump. Are you out of your goddamned mind? Newsflash: you are supposed to protect the bullied, not the bully. How about not tolerating bullying in your school? How about teaching your students that crap like that will not be allowed? Way to blame the victim. Perhaps we should send them some information on anti-bullying school policies and bring them up to 2013. 

This is discrimination. This is a civil rights issue. This is a human rights issue. Jaielyn has rights and so does her baby. Just because she is a teen mom doesn't mean she is any less capable of making the best decisions she can for her child. It doesn't mean she should be treated like she is the inconvenience. Her school should be thrilled that she wants to return. Maybe there is a tax break in it for them. :::eyeroll::: As for the pumps beinig disturbing to her peers. Please, as if there isn't a location anywhere in the school where she can pump in relative privacy. And, have you been to a high school? There is plenty of noise to be had. A mother pumping for her child should be among the least of their concerns.

She should not have to wait a year to return to school. She should not have to find a new school. She should not have to be homeschooled. This mother has chosen to return to her school and the school needs to buck up and let her pump. I promise them, it won't ruin the precious young psyches of the other students. If anything, it'll show them what responsibility looks like. 

If you'd like to take action, please visit the Momma Trauma blog linked above and stay updated on the situation. Pass that link around to everyone. Facebook it. Tweet it. You can call the school and leave messages. You can also email the school.

School nurse: dmblades@lf.k12.de.us
Dean of Students: chmorris@lf.k12.de.us
Principal: jfilicicchia@lf.k12.de.us
Assistant Principal: twmorris@lf.k12.de.us and jdberry@lf.k12.de.us

Lake Forest High School
302-284-9291

   
 Supposedly, the high school had a Facebook page that has now been taken down. I guess thy couldn't handle to comments. 

If you are planning to contact the school, I urge you to remain respectful. If we get nasty, sarcastic and rude with them it will just push them away. This is a frustrating situation from every angle, but we have to remain calm in reasonable when in contact with these folks. Otherwise, they will brush us off as "crazy hippies" and progress won't be made. There is a chance to make some positive change here, let's not ruin it with anger. I'm pissed about this, you're pissed about this and lots of other people on the internetz are pissed about this. That is more than understandable and it's fine to vent on our pages, twitter and Facebook. It's so frustrating that we are still fighting these fights in 2013. However, any contact with representatives of the school should be courteous and respectful. 

UPDATE: The Superintendent wrote his own blog post regarding this situation, which you can find here. He states that students may pump at school, though there are no specific accommodations (such as a designated room) and that students are responsible for their own cooler and storage. He also notes that the district has an alternative school where teen parents may bring their children and breastfeed or pump there. He notes that a teen mother who chooses to leave the alternative school and return to Lake Forest, "
also chooses to leave behind a certain level of support." While I am happy to see that there is a possibility she can pump at school, that last comment about choosing to leave behind a level of support is a bit harsh. It shows that they really aren't interested in being helpful to this new mother. As I said earlier in the blog, there are alternatives to this school. She can do online charter, homeschooling or she can attend this alternative school. Personally, I would rather attend a school where I can bring my baby and remain all attached and in contact. That would be my choice. It's not up to me to make the choice for Jaielyn, however. It is up to no one but Jaielyn herself - and she has chosen to return to the regular high school. She should be supported in that choice and they shouldn't being throwing down roadblocks that would make it more difficult for her. 

My sources for teen breastfeeding rates and teen mother drop out rates:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3197474/

http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/resources/pdf/teen-preg-hs-dropout.pdf 

Written while nursing my sleepy little girl....

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Will The Real Real Woman Please Stand Up?

Real woman? Sure. Classy Lady? Definitely.
What does a real woman look like? Is she tall and thin, like a supermodel, with small perky breasts and a small waist? Is she short and curvy with plenty of flesh, including ample breasts and hips? Is she in between? Maybe she is about 5'4" with some muscle, some fluff, a little boobage and enough butt to fill out her jeans. Maybe she is all of those. Or none of those. Or some of those.

Our society and media values a woman who is a bit on the tall side, quite a bit on the slender side and big-boobed. You can't throw a  Weight Watchers point without it landing on some article, blog or show dedicated to the problem of women working too hard to become too perfect.

The Golden Globe Awards were held a few nights ago. I missed them this time, but I tried to keep up with them online. I haven't seen a real move in the theaters in quite some time and I haven't a clue about most people, movies or shows nominated, but I sure do love me some super fancy dresses. I just love the glitz and glamor. Of course the internetz were abuzz with news of who won, who lost, who wore what and all of that juicy Hollywood bullcrap. I perused online to see pictures of all of the lovely ladies in their gorgeous (J-Lo!) and what-the-fuck-were-you-thinking (Helena) gowns and the dowdy pantsuit (Amy - wtf?). Twitter, Facebook, blogs, fashion sites were full of comments from us little people judging and praising all of the fashion. One thing stood out the most because it seemed to be mentioned the most at the time was the comparison of two new moms - Claire Danes and Adele. Both have recently had babies. Both have different bodies.

Claire Danes, who I will never forgive for quitting "My So-Called Life" and taking away my favorite show (and Jordan Catalano), looks very slender and trim. She looks pretty much as she always does, though her dress had this geometric panel on the front that can hide her figure a bit. My first thought was, "oooooh, that's a glamorous nursing panel."

Adele, who I adore, looked like Adele. She's curvy and full as always. Personally, her dress wasn't my favorite, but she looked beautiful in it.




Many comments praised Claire Danes for losing all that baby weight so quickly. Many comments condemned Claire Danes for losing all that baby weight so quickly. We are a fickle society and the different comments showed that. The same went for Adele, though I saw more comments that "she still looks pregnant" as if that's a bad thing when you just had a baby quite recently. All of these comments were what I expected. We have a society and media who praise women for being perfectly thin and supposedly fit immediately after giving birth. We adore the celebrities who make an appearance a week after giving birth looking like they never had been pregnant. Bonus points if they didn't even get a stretch mark. We are inundated with these images day after day. So, is it a surprise that women rip each other apart based on body types? No, it shouldn't be. This is what the media wants. They want us to be constantly competing and constantly striving for perfection - it's what keeps us buying their magazines, their Spanx, their creams (made with baby foreskins - yum!), their make-up, their clothes, their diet foods, etc. Women yearning to look like today's it girl spend a lot of money and are a prime marketing target.


So, with that in mind, I was hardly surprised to see women scoring Adele vs Claire based on how they looked. I was mad, though. Pissed that we fall into this trap of competing all of the time. We're products of our environment - this being told that we're not good enough since we're girls so we must always work hard to prove ourselves - but there has to be a point when we wise up and stop this shit. What truly pissed me off was one comment I saw under Claire Danes' photo, "She's not a real woman." That comment was followed up with a lot of agreement that Claire is not a real woman because she is skinny and lacks curves. "Adele, now that is what a real woman looks like. She has curves. Real women have curves and breasts and hips." There was the obvious evolution of the discussion where it has been decided by many that Claire obviously crash dieted and worked out to near death in order to look the way she did at the awards. The talk was that "real women" never - the word never was used quite a few times - look like that a month after birth. Obviously, she is a bad mom because she didn't spend enough time with her baby because she was too busy working out and counting calories. For what it's worth, she discussed breastfeeding when being interviewed on the red carpet. Doesn't sound like she is neglecting him too much.


Women should not feel like they need to look a certain way after birth. They should not feel pressured to slim down immediately. I personally know women who begin to worry about their post baby figures as soon as the pee hits the stick. It's so sad that women feel this way about themselves. That being said, there are women - and not an insubstantial amount - who slim down immediately after birth naturally. I come from a long line of women who do this. Many of the women on my mom's side of the family are tall (like 6 feet) and thin. They barely require maternity clothes when pregnant and they all walk out of the hospital looking like they have never given birth. Are they not women? Where do I fit in? I'm slender, but I have curves. I still have a little belly pooch due to diastasis. Am I a real woman now? Will I lose my real woman status if I go back to having a flat tummy? What if my boobs shrink? I love every curve on my body and you know I love my stretch marks. Should I love myself less since I have curves and stretch marks? Or should I love myself less if any of those marks fade or those curves get a bit smaller. At what point will my Real Woman Card expire?


It's so tiring listening to women shame other women based on their bodies. It's like you're damned either way. Adele sucks because she didn't lose baby weight fast enough. Claire Danes sucks because she lost weight too quick. Skinny women aren't real women because they lack curves. Fluffy women aren't real women because they don't take care of their bodies. It's not "normal" to look like Claire Danes after you give birth. It's not "normal" to look like Adele after we give birth. Being a woman, in whatever shape you are in is apparently just not normal. We can't give birth correctly. We can't feed our children correctly. We can't lose or retain weight post partum correctly. Can we just shut the fuck up with this nonsense already? Why must we always pick one another apart? I get that skinny isn't always healthy and being overweight isn't always healthy, but do we truly think we are encouraging other women to better themselves by telling them how much they suck? I mean, I can't even post a brief body positive message on my page without someone piping up with," yeah, we should accept each other, just remember that fat people will die from all the twinkies." Come on!

I'm not pushing anyone to be unhealthy, but I realize that humans come in a variety of shapes and sizes and the sooner we accept that the healthier and happier we will be. If we are constantly telling women to be ashamed of their bodies, whatever form they take, they will not seek to take care of themselves. Even in 2013, it seems like women have so much to work against. When we fail to unite with one another it makes it easier for all of us to fail. We need to work on accepting one another in all of our various sizes. We need to encourage one another to be healthy, realizing that healthy is not one single size or shape.


What does a real woman look like? The answer isn't in chromosomes or body parts. It's not found in the amount of flesh around our hips or in our breasts. It's not found in our ability or lack of ability to produce children. It's not found in our housekeeping practices. It's not found in our clothes, our hairstyles or our cosmetics. It's not in our names or our societal roles. If you feel you are a woman, then you are a woman. No uniform required.
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