Saturday, January 17, 2009

Feel Free to Put a Blanket Over Your Head!

Ah, precious!

So adorable!

Well, that just melts my heart!


Stella says, "YOU CRAZY!"

Warning: You are about to witness what Randi is like when she's fed up with something. This is not for the faint of heart. Beware of snarkiness, sarcasm, lack of humor and overall pissiness.
Coming back from Kentucky recently, Dave, Stella and I were hanging at the Louisville Airport. Stella began to say "nee nee" and look longingly at my chest, so I did what any good mother would do and feed the child. I lifted my top shirt, unhooked my nursing tank, situated my daughter on my breast, and watched her eat -- peacefully, happily, easily, wonderfully.
Then I felt THE STARE. I looked up to see a woman around my age, sitting pretty far away from us, in a chair facing the other direction, turned full-tilt around and watching me with her mouth agape, her eyes full of disgust.
It actually took me a moment to figure out what she was so upset about. Living in a very progressive part of the country, I'm used to nursing in public constantly and nobody bats an eyelash (mainly because most people around me are too busy breastfeeding their own kids to care). Also, as you can see from the picture above, my style of nursing is not exactly to let it all hang out. In fact, many people do not even realize I'm nursing until I say something about it.
But I digress. I tried to ignore her, but soon her husband joined her from the bathroom, and she actually pointed at me (I felt like I was in a Lifetime Made for TV Movie about a woman dealing with scrutiny and ridicule) and he craned his neck to take a peek. In fact, by the way he was craning his neck, it really did seem he was trying to sneak a peek, if you know what I mean. Meanwhile, their two toddlers continued to run amok, screaming their heads off and throwing their Cheetos everywhere. I guess my disgusting act of public nudity was much more important than actually parenting their children.
Lately, breastfeeding seems to be all over the news. From Facebook banning photos of breastfeeding moms to the recent and expansive article about the modern-day legal implications of expressed breast milk in the New Yorker, everyone seems to be talking about boobs, and not in the usual way.
We are at a strange crossroads in mammary history. For the longest time, breast milk was it. You had no alternative. That's what you fed your child. Then modern science came up with a formula that did its best to mimic mother's milk, which was a miracle for women or babies who had issues nursing. But then, of course, formula became "the norm" and women who chose to breastfeed were poor, hippy, disgusting, uneducated. Because, in America, we have to take everything to its freaking extreme. Baby and bathwater and all that jazz.
So now we're starting to realize that my great-grandma living in Kentucky was right all along -- trust your body. This woman gave birth to all her children at home with a midwife, some clean towels and a hot pot of water. She breastfed them all, without La Leche League or websites devoted to helping you form the perfect latch. When they got sick, she ran out to her garden and found the herbs she knew to calm, heal, or soothe. This lady did not have the conveniences of modern medicine, yet her children turned out to be strong, healthy, amazing individuals.
So how did we get from there to here? My great-grandma was born before the turn of the century. She didn't think women should wear pants, she thought whistling at the table was bad manners, and she really thought idle hands were tools of the devil. This lady was as traditional as they come. And yet when her babies got hungry, her tit came out, and NOBODY SAID A WORD.
Now the new traditional folks are fighting a battle. And somehow women like me are their enemy. It's confusing to say the least, especially for someone like me who doesn't shove her lifestyle down others' throats nor think others have to adhere to the set of morals/values by which I live my life. If you're not hurting anyone, I say, do as you please.
So, if you are someone who is offended by breastfeeding, grossed out by breastfeeding, intolerant of breastfeeding, and/or hostile towards breastfeeding, please read the following list and think about it. I'm not even going to discuss how modern studies show how much better breast milk is for babies, because that tidbit of common knowledge has obviously done nothing for you.
To go along with the status quo without ever questioning it is pretty weak in my opinion. So this is you questioning it, and when you're done you'll either agree with me or continue to hate us booby mamas. The decision is yours.
1. Humans are mammals. Mammals produce milk. We learned this in 6th grade. (Probably sooner if you didn't attend public school in Kentucky.) If you're scientifically-minded, how can you argue with what our bodies were meant to do? If you're more spiritually-minded, you believe God created our bodies in all their majesty. Why would he make my breasts lactate if he didn't want me to use them?
2. Breasts were not always fetishized to the point where boob=sexual object. This evolved over time. Throughout history, breasts were seen as a means of nourishing a baby. Go to an art museum. Look at lovely old paintings and sculptures of mothers nursing their babies. These were not porn, my dear. These were representations of life. If seeing a flash of my breast as I go to feed Stella either excites you or freaks you out due to your sexual trigger being pulled, that's your problem, not mine. Go deprogram yourself and grow up, OK?
3. Some people are OK with nursing until a child reaches a certain age. (Cue the Youtube video about the nursing 8 year old girl.) Suddenly, the minute your baby is 1 year old, the vision of him/her eating from the breast is JUST GROSS! Um...may I ask why? Did the cat in the picture above shove her kittens off because the calendar told her to? No. She let them nurse until it was biologically time for them to stop. In most countries in the world, children nurse until the ages of 2 or 3. WE'RE THE WEIRD ONES, FOLKS. Breast milk is tailor-made for each child. Cow's milk is extremely hard to digest. Soy milk is expensive. Just because a child can ask for it, does not make it wrong. Many babies ask for their bottle, their binky, a hug! Do we deny it to teach them a lesson?
4. Do me a favor. Try this out for me. When you get hungry tonight or tomorrow or whenever, take your delicious, savory meal into the bathroom stall and eat it there. Mmmm...sounds nice, right? Or, if that doesn't suit you, drape a blanket over your head and eat that way. Lovely, right? Suffocating and isolating -- the best way to eat a meal. If you can give your kid a bottle of formula wherever you please, I can give Stella her "nee nee" wherever I please, too.
Did I convince you? No? You just think I'm a crazy hippy Eastern elite know-it-all? Too bad. I've got the law on my side, sweety. Now pull your pants up. Your asscrack is showing and it is seriously GROSSING ME OUT!


Martin said...

Boobs = baby-food, says the lesbian nanny. Questions? Comments? Funny looks? Fuck you and the righteous horse you rode in on.

You're so good for not killing her, BBM.

nbg said...

I think you make an awesome point, but I just wanted to clarify something.... I don't think it's the "traditional" people who are so against it. Living in the heart of the red states and being very active in our local church and friends with some VERY conservative people, I would say I'm "traditional" and so are most of my friends.... Ironically, EVERY SINGLE ONE of my friends have breastfed each of their children and I've been there when most of them have breastfed. So, while I think you've suffered some stupid attention from some closed-minded people, I wouldn't call them traditional... because we believe what you believe... breast is best!!!
Love you!

Booby Mama said...

Rock on, sister! People who are offended by the beautiful sight of a mother nursing her child are clearly suffering from a complex from their mother not nursing them long enough. ;)

The Quill said...

Well said!! Go boobies!!!

Amy G said...

Awesome, I loved it! Thanks for posting this!

Randi Skaggs said...

Oh, sis, you know I wasn't talking about you or your friends Kentucky in general! My family is awesomely supportive. Sadly, though, many people's families are not. And this stuff just happens more in places that are considered traditional. Red state, blue state -- it really doesn't matter. It's wherever people tend to go along with popular thinking without taking a moment to question it. You're lucky to live in a city that's more progressive than that; many are not.

I haven't suffered much of this, but I've read about many ladies who have. Besides, Facebook is a national organization that telling all us booby-mamas that it thinks what we do is obscene.

So traditional may be the wrong word. But these people tend to think they are guarding themselves and others against acts that are offensive when, in reality, they're just letting their ignorance shine through.

(Love you, too, nbg!!!)

Randi Skaggs said...

And, I forgot to mention, the only other place I got a weird look for nursing was in New Jersey, which is a blue state! ;-)

Madelyn Ruth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kohahna said...

G o y o u G I R L !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ali said...

Amen to you! Go boobies!!!

Holly said...

Great post, Randi!

Anne Stesney said...

Ah, parenting. Where every single day someone, usually other parents, will negatively regard your choices, regardless of the proven facts. Welcome!

I suffered on the other extreme. I had to give my son formula because I didn't make enough milk. It killed me enough, but boy, some of the glares I got! One mom asked me if he was adopted because I wasn't breastfeeding. I went home and bawled my eyes out. I should've kicked her in the shins. Much like you should've done to that lady. With Stella on your boob.

Randi Skaggs said...

Geez, Anne, that's ridiculous! I think when parents are really insecure they tear other parents apart. It happens on both ends of the spectrum, unfortunately. Stupid booby mama!

Tiffanie said...

"amen, preach it, sister!!" shouts the choir.
fortunately for me, i live in berkeley, where the women burned their bras a generation ago and haven't put them back on. you get snide looks, i get coos of admiration. sorry. you're welcome to visit anytime. :)

Tiffanie said...

btw, i now realize i misread your post ~ it was not in NY that your incident happened! whoops! i was a bit surprised thinking it happened in Brooklyn. ha ha! you are still welcome to visit berkeley and breastfeed.

Janelle Lucido said...

I have used the blanket analogy many times with my own mother who breastfed! Unfortunately her discomfort with her body overrode her sense of rightness.
Rock on!

rachel leah said...

I have to admit that my feeling about breast feedingin public changed dramatically when I started doing it myself. I now am totally comfortable with doing it in public and seeing others do the same, but I did not have that perspective until I started doing it. I think participating made me understand it more. And may I say how much eaier travel is with baby knowing that the food is always there.