The first time I have read Kamnitzer’s essay about her experience of raising her son in Mongolia was about two years ago. The image it left me with, readily popping into my mind and broadsiding me with the hilarity of it all, was with parents, friends, grandparents, any other family members sitting in a yurta, flapping their breasts around trying to entice a toddler to come and breastfeed. Haunting image indeed.

Alas, I came across the article again a few days ago, this time reprinted in www.incultureparent.com.

I adore this article. I don’t particularly see it as a breastfeeding propaganda, however. I look at it from a cultural point of view and a bit broader than most at that.

I think Ruth Kamnitzer’s account says more about the way we raise our children rather than just airing the breastfeeding factor, granted those two go hand-in-hand and you cannot separate one from the other. I like this part in particular “… in Mongolia, breastfeeding isn’t equated with dependence, and weaning isn’t a finish line. They know their kids will grow up – in fact, the average Mongolian five-year-old is far more independent than her western counterpart, breastfed or not. There’s no rush to wean.
This reminds me of a story that my teacher once (well, more than once now)  told me. She told of her friend, raising her own son through “this attachment parenting style”. She said how the Mom nursed on demand until the boy was past the toddlerhood, how they shared bed, of course she carried him in a sling forever, and that he accompanied her EVERYWHERE. She also told of her being a bit concerned that the kid was too dependent on the mother. Well, she never spoke up against it as she did not think it was any of her business and just learned to trust her friend’s mothering instincts. That boy grew into the most self-reliant, confident, independent, yet outgoing and cooperative young man, traveling the world, backpacking on his own, or living in a bush for weeks on hand on his own, since he was a teenager. He was healthily attached, knew in every cell of his body where his place was and where and to whom he was attached to. He went on to be a successful and content person, very giving to his community, and a great family man.

It seems that all this pushing away of our kids just does everyone a great disservice – to the child, the parents, the community and the whole society. Perhaps that is why so many people in my generation feel so disconnected, and more so with each new generation we feel at a loss of how to relate, how to communicate, how to be with each other.

And of course, there was this part of the article that got me this time. “every Mongolian I ever asked told me that he or she liked breast milk. The value of breast milk is so celebrated, so firmly entrenched in their culture, that it’s not considered something that’s only for babies.
I find it distressing that we will readily accept manufactured, stripped down, shaken, cooked, and diluted breastmilk from a cow mother, and will throw millions of dollars annually at making it “workable”,while at the same time we discourage, campaign against, and turn our noses at, our children’s own mothers’ milk, that is specific to that individual child’s short and longterm needs, is perfectly packaged, conveniently stored, readily accessible, and is FREE! It does not cost us anything. In fact it saves us a lot of dollars and saves generations of people. But that would mean that women would have to have some sort of “control” over their children for longer, and possibly turn the children against … I don’t know, whatever is feared by a particular individual, wether a representative of an institution.

Sadly I know few men that wanted to feed their kids when born, and insisted, or at least voiced their desire along with regret of their inability, that the mother’s would pump so the Dads could bottlefeed. Of course there are other ways to promote the father-child bond but those don’t seem to cut it too often. I know some Dads who felt jealous of their baby’s monopoly of the woman – a mother to the child, and a sexual partner to the man – to such an extent that they insisted on NOT bed-sharing and/or were supportive of formula feeding or bottlefeeding.

I think breastfeeding is really about how we view women in our society, their role, their responsibility, their right, their power. I think to diminish the power of a woman, to minimize her impact on the society at large, to eliminate her role, or to limit it just to the extent of being an incubation vessel for the next generation, is to remove her child from her sphere of influence and now lets throw in a “outside of home – career & success” to make things just a bit more wacky. Limiting breastfeeding by bottlefeeding (even an occasional one), premature weaning, removing the support network around her so she can do the most important job of her life, beside growing into a strong human being, to grow another human being into a strong beautiful person. Sure, we can be CEO and have access to six-figure income, but who is paying for that? The kids, and the parents too, the whole society.

Western world ran by folks with broken attachments, desperately looking, often in wrong places and in unhealthy ways, to fulfill their feeling of belonging and purpose. How as a child do I gain that feeling of security, love, and purpose, when I see my parents for only two hours a day during the week and get ferried by my Mom mostly from class to class or a game on the weekend. Yes, I matter so much to my family that they spend less time with me than my peers and my teachers at school. How do you help your child to grow beautifully in spirit and in body if you can see him/her only a two or three hours a day because you are working on your career or just trying to pay your rent and put decent food on the table. Who cooks the meals for your family? Kraft or McCain? Or your heart and hands?

Something has to give …

There has been a lot going on in my world causing me to redirect my energy and time elsewhere … but I had to take the two minutes to post this.

Has anyone seen P!ink’s new video for Raise Your Glass? There is this scene, where lactating women are hooked up to a breast pump and milked. The milk is collected it and, presumably, bottlefed to the bovine calf in front of them.

Raise Your Glass by Pink

It is an interesting imagery. It strikes a sensitive chord with me on soooo many levels. What do you think?

It also reminds me of

As you may know I am under a great deal of stress. It’s almost midnight. I spent last four hours preparing notes for studying for my poli sci midterm next week, and now, instead of writing my English paper to hand in tomorrow, I am watching the Birth of Apollo. With all the unwanted separation between us translating into his challenging behaviour, I need to smooth my soul a bit. So here I am listening to the moans and vocalizations, having a healing moment. :)

Lift up your gaze,

See the truth.

Break the chains,

Wash your hands,

Walk away.

Fill up your soul,

Piece together the heart,

Walk your path.

Be true to yourself.

Love.

V – Nov. 2009

I have been neglecting all my internetting lately, except to do research for my papers. My school schedule seems not too demanding but it was made before the court order, which leaves me now with seeing my kids even less. Thankfully the boy is only two so I still get to keep him close. Unfortunately the girl was ordered to transfer from her public school homelearning program to a different district and full-time school, without grounds and just because her Dad wanted it, so both her brother and I miss her presence terribly.
I will post more on this at some point.

I am ever so more aware, grateful, and indebted to my friends. I don’t know how I would manage without you all – emotionally, physically, but also logistically.

Just as I started to manage to take a breath in here and there and keep my chin above the water for long stretches of time I found myself swamped with midterms and neglected papers. I’m off to the library for a few hours. Then to see the girl in her dance class, and more studying.
I am also lucky to have great demanding yet understanding professors. One of them is a homeschooling Mama herself.

My kids love rocking to Cyndi Lauper. They like her old stuff as well as the not so old. I was thrilled to learn that she was performing at the PNE here in Vancouver. I knew I wanted to go. I knew my five year old would love to go as well. And of course when I mentioned it to my two year old he started jumping up and down like crazy shouting “Cyndi Lauper, Cyndi Lauper, …”. So we decided to go to the show.

Glorious evening full of twists and turns of events, and wonderful surprise. Not only did I find a free PNE gate pass hiding on my fridge covered with layers of highly acclaimed art work, got to have a smoothie and a soup with Mandy made by a $600 blender that can cook a soup and grind flour in a moment and in next produce a bucket of ice cream, and then realized that the show we came to see and anticipated for so long was packed so badly we were not going to be able to see it, but we were also given seated tickets in the bleachers by Richard so we did not have to worry a THING! Thank you, thank you, thank you! yes, no hanging out with drunk men hollering stupid comments nor did we have to put up with smelly teenagers falling over themselves. So Mr Brown gave up his tickets on his birthday while on a date with the Barefoot Nutritionista. I felt bad. For a minute. And then, I felt good. For the rest of the show. I am sure M&R got better seats and all … in the tech tower, but still … he is the man and she is the woman. Love them!

The show was pretty good. I don’t really like the last album put out. I appreciate it but … the show did not really kick off until the eighties songs trickled in.

I must say that I have a deep respect for Lauper. For many reasons but extra one tonight. As she was working the crowd during a song and was connecting with the audience the dumb-asses were shoving cameras into her face and snapping pics of her being so close to them. Well, she must have been as uncomfortable with that as I was because she interrupted the song and talked to the group of people ‘with their stupid-ass cameras’ shoving them into her face, being disrespectful to her and the musicians, and missing the show and the whole point. She got a cheer and support from the crowd.

I felt terribly that this happened. I don’t know if it happens all the time but I was ashamed for Vancouver and embarrassed . Sure, it was a show at the PNE but still! HAVE SOME RESPECT people!

I think Lauper must have been drinking from the same water cooler as I was or something because I was thinking this whole camera thing myself for the past few days. That is why I don’t have any pics of us at the show. I took some before leaving so KGirl and ABoy have a little token but I left my new camera in the car when we parked at the PNE. I did not want to bring it. I knew I would not be able to enjoy myself and appreciate the moment as much if I were to capture it on memory card instead of in my mind and soul. I wanted to be connected and in the moment. And I was. And as Lauper was leaning on the fence working her magic I was thinking ‘stupid people with their cameras and flashing her like that’.

Anyway … the kids loved the show. Within the first 10 min KGirl announced that Cyndi was wearing a wig and wanted to know why. :) They were dancing and jumping, even ABoy was singing to Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

It was a glorious evening. Thanks to friends and family. I am truly honoured to have you in my life.

I had a very busy day and am so tired and brain dead. I was not planning on posting even a single word here but felt compelled to cement this video firmly in my resources.  This is The Onion News Network’s  homage to lactivism, breastfeeding advocacy, feminism, and breastfeeding in public. LOVE IT.

When I absent-mindedly clicked on the link I did not expect to be so amused and so tickled. I almost peed my pants laughing. I really must share it but right after that I will have to go to bed so I can empty my enlarged mammary glands during my 2-year old’s night time feed while we bed-share. Should I mention that the five year old is in the bed too? LOL

As I am typing this I am wrecking my brain trying to figure out how to make a night-time feeding public when the nursling in question is a two year old who is asleep, next to his five year old and me. Hard thing to accomplish a drive to the local fast food restaurant to exercise my human right. LOL

I wonder if anyone can shed some light here :).

I need to find something that I can follow for my own sake. This year will be very new for us – doing homelearning on my own with the kids and being under a microscope in anticipation of a failure. No pressure, right?

I had briefly looked into homelearning curricula. There are too many and not enough.

I was wondering what you are using if any. I like slow and fun with no pressure. My DD does not like
pressure and has trouble sitting down to a chart tracing or writing letters
repetitively in the lined spaces. Yes her handwriting reflects that but hey, she
is only five.

From what I have seen i like Oak Meadow from the reviews and
description. It is very expensive I think, and has no Canadian topics. Plus it
does not seem very ‘inclusive’. KWIM

Come Sit by Me sounds interesting and the $ question is very appealing. I like the idea of just
using the books from a local library and not having to buy them. A lot of them we already own. I would like to leave God out of it though and that is one drawback.

I also tried looking for used curricula and some of the links out there are no longer valid like … Learning Lane in Langley comes up with an ad for Cialis! :*
I realize that I am going to have to start doing some weekly planning to stay on top of things. I wonder how that will go with my own school. Thankfully I have a strong homelearning community available to me. I just need to actually reach out.
So what are you guys using?

As I was licking my birth wounds four days ago and remembering the twin birth of one of my clients I got to read this facebook update about twins born at home two days apart:

Hellena Post: Just had the most intense 3 day physical, emotional, spiritual, transformative, learning experience of my life. Birthing twin boys – Maximillian Hercules on Sat. 21 at 9.25am, then staying in labour on and off while nursing a newborn, till Merlin Redbad was born on Monday 23 at 4.05am…two unique boys, with different birthdays, different looks, and totally separate births…”

How AWESOME is this?! You don’t hear things like that! Ever! I hear of homeborn twins but 2 DAYS APART? Wow! That just blows my thresholds right there.  Hellena Post’s birth was in Australia and was attended by the Australian goddess of home breach births and a home-birth midwife warrior Lisa Barrett.

I remember asking my twin client if she knows her doc’s policy on twin births, specifically how long does she have to birth twin B on her own before the OB will start mucking things up. I wonder what he would say to this birth story. But … not really. I don’t really care what he would say. Because he does not provide a sound advice anyway.

Thank goodness for my community and specifically the on-line community. We women love to share and network and I am so thankful that we women-folk can access what we need when we need it.

Sometimes I think that doulas have the worst job out there. Thankfully that does not happen too often. I LOVE the work I do and it is a greatest honour to share in that special moment. It is also a humbling experience. I know I have it in my blood and everything around me is saturated with pregnancy/birth/breastfeeding. But sometimes, and the past week I had been thinking this, I don’t understand my job and grow frustrated.  And as this feeling peaked I came across this awesome video of a baby being born in the caul (in the amniotic sac, in the membranes, in the bag of waters, behind the veil, etc) IN WATER! How cool!!

It was made even cooler as I just came from a hospital birth where the OB AROMed my client, the birthing woman. Just before the procedure she expressed some reservations about the intervention. The OB replied that the membranes will have to break at some point before the baby is born so why not do it now to get things going, to which I replied that they don’t have to break at all and that baby can be born in the sac without the AROM-associated risks. After some debate the woman chose to have her membranes ruptured (AROM). She ran up a fever and had to be put on antibiotics few hours later.

I learned from the Navalgazing Midwife Barbara Herrera about birth in the caul and that the amniotic membranes, just like newborn boys’ amputated foreskins, stolen from their rightful owners (“donated” by omission in most cases), are a) used as a grafting tissue (truly thank you for that) and b) sold to cosmetic and big pharma industry to do what they want with it (no thanks there).

It can be quite disheartening seeing the birth rape and coercion women willingly subject themselves to, and feeling that I am not doing enough). Maybe I am feeling a bit too depressed right now with all the crap happening in my life and major life changes swirling around me tugging and pulling in all sorts of directions. I don’t know why women want to hire a birth professional to guide them on their journey through pregnancy and birth so they can NOT listen to a word that the professional says, and be surprised that they ended up with a c-section when they let the doc induce at 40wk GA and have pit and epi through out the labour.

But I should know. I was one of those women, sort of. Not once, but twice, except it was reversed.

When I was pregnant for the first time I hired a midwife who fought with me through out our prenatals. Patronized me in early birthing, interrupted my birth at the end and I had trouble birthing the placenta, and did not believe me in postpartum about breastfeeding being slightly off. I felt unsupported and not heard through out my pregnancy and postpartum.

When I was pregnant for the second time I hired a different midwife. I felt good during my prenatals and felt no pressure to do any tests and my autonomy was not questioned once, though the intended use of a doppler by my midwife during the birth was a concern for me. The birth was very different. After every contraction I was interrupted by talking, cellphones, dishes falling, door bells, testing of equipment, and requests to do vaginal exams that I had to turn down three times. Again, as my son was visibly being born the anxiety and anticipation in the people around me increased, they started shuffling things around, unzipping this and that, setting up the other, and I felt my birthing to be interrupted even more. I felt no urge to push the placenta again but this time I had to have it manually removed in a hospital.

I knew what i wanted from before I was pregnant. I knew how my body worked and my psyche. I knew how birth worked and how I was going to get it right. I did not listen to myself and surrounded myself with people that were not willing to go the distance for my birth because I wanted to ‘keep peace’ and appease my husband.

What is about women wrecking their first birth so they can finally have the third birth the way they want to, and that is not measured by the ‘outcome’ but rather by the MOTHER’s feeling of satisfaction with the process and the whole experience, and feeling that she is the most powerful woman walking on Earth and that she can do ANYTHING? Even Gloria Lemay blogs about it here.

I know I’m a bit behind. The World’s Breastfeeding Week was at the beginning of this month. What did I do … not a post on breastfeeding. But I still breastfeed my two and a half year old as often as he wants to, regardless to what his Dad demands.

As August,  and the National Breastfeeding Month (US), is drawing to an end I finally watched the Join the Boob-olution! video. You can find it on breastfeeding.com or on youtube.

It is a campaign to raise breastfeeding awareness and tell US women that breastfeeding does not suck by celebrity Moms (Kelly Rutherford, Lisa Loeb, Constance Marie, Ali Landry, and more)  first announcing with gusto the derogative terms for breasts in our society, than informing us of the benefits of breastfeeding and telling us why we should do it. They conclude this exercise by encouraging us to ‘whip them out’.

So, please watch it and as the good girl I know you are do as they say.  ;)

Seriously now. I love breastfeeding campaigns. I do. Do I think this one is effective? Not really. But it is fun anyway.

What I think would make a big turnaround in breastfeeding rates is firstly realizing (and not being terrified of what the corps may say) and saying out loud that it is NOT that the breastfeeding is so MAGICAL that it saves one from all sorts of illnesses. It is that NOT BREASTFEEDING your child (not infant, but a child! – a huge difference if I may say) puts YOU and HIM at a risk of developing various cancers, diabetes, various infections, and provides less than normal nourishment for brain development. Dare I say cellular malnourishment?

The turnaround will not happen until we recognize the importance and value of women’s work as the mothers they are. Being a mother woman functions as a childbearer, educator, healthcare provider, psychologist, nutritionist, personal trainer, bodyguard, driver, a cook, assistant,  philosopher, and a all-around goddess. Really. We nurture and nourish the fetus and protect him from the outside world, we give birth to him so she can become a person, and then we again nurture, nourish, protect, educate, feed, counsel, teach, nurse, stay up in the middle of the night, drive to/fro, be there for, and on and on i can go on. This invaluable service to human kind needs to be recognized, valued, protected, and SEEN in public. It is not in our best interest that a mother has to choose between breastfeeding her child and raising him in a healthy way or going to work three months after the birth and ‘dump him in the system’. In Canada we have a the parental leave for eight months where EI covers a portion of one wages’ and thank goodness for that. But only one year? A mother has to go back to work in precisely the time where her child is SUPER ATTACHED and is going through a huge developmental changes? Like becoming a toddler, having first real words, having his first high fever, etc.

Lets face it, breastfeeding is not better or optimal. Breastfeeding is NORMAL, period. As such, choosing not to breastfeed provides less than desirable results. One should be encouraged to do so in public as needed or desired – no questions asked. And I suggest that the Canadian government should invest in her citizens by enabling mothers stay at home for the first three years of a child’s life for when his psyche is ready to be experiencing the world from out of his mother’s arms and be a whole person because of that opportunity. Plus it would be really great if Moms could get an opportunity to go back to school and upgrade their education, even if only part time during this time … so … lower tuition, or hey, abolish tuition all together.

It should be mandatory that companies have resources allocated for the mothers amongst the workers. It should be given that there would be enticing and warmly furnished pumping rooms for every ten breastfeeding workers. It should be given that we would have daycares setup by the workplace so the mothers could visit their VERY young child so they don’t have to be separated for prolonged periods of time.

So, why don’t you go and read some true breastfeeding stories. We are all alike you know. I really like Kelly Rutherford’s storry of tandem nursing, co-sleeping, pumping, while going through a divorce. That makes more of an impact for moi…

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