Tag Archives: breastfeeding

Childrearing v. Parenting

There are two ways of talking about the work of caring for a child. One is childrearing: the daily acts of keeping the child alive, keeping them and their environment relatively clean and whole, getting them to bed and school or the fields or what-have-you. The individual tasks of childrearing can, for the most part, be done by anyone willing (or perhaps anyone the child is willing to allow). This is the work that is discussed, and disparaged, as unworthy of an educated woman’s time, and really, it doesn’t take a lot to know how to wipe up yet another cup of spilled water-broccoli-and-half-chewed-food-bits.

And then there is parenting. Parenting is the work of doing childrearing without killing the child, yourself, or random judgmental strangers (or not so random judgmental relatives). Parenting is the internal, invisible work it takes to show up to the overtired screaming baby, the trying-to-kill-hirself cruiser, the tantruming toddler, the never-stops-chattering preschooler. Parenting is handing a self-centric, swiss-cheese-brained, immature primate every single one of your triggers, most of which you’ve managed to not realize you even have, and then trying, trying, to deactivate the ones the monkey is stomping all over — before they grow just a little more and find a whole new set. Parenting is the work that is never discussed except in hyperbolic terms — effusive praise for those of us who do it, horror at the thought of it, demonization of those whose failures are made public. Parenting also can and is done by anyone willing, but is a commitment of years, not moments; it is built of moments over years, and once commenced, is only interchangeable from one set to another with wrenching consequence.

Childrearing can be tedious, or easy, or challenging — usually each or all in turns. But the kicker is, the key and secret that those who denigrate childrearing never acknowledge, is that what children most need, more than organized playrooms or clean tables or even getting to schools, is to have adults who love them so deeply and broadly and fiercely that we’ll do the reflexive work of parenting. They need us not merely to be centered, but to center ourselves: they need to see how we wobble and return and be broken and yet thrive and be triggered and move on. They need us, us, whole and human and damaged and glorious, they need us bodies and breasts and arms and laps and minds and souls and they will eat us down and leave us drained and that is what they are supposed to do. It is what we did, what I did, what you did, and we can see this as a horror, or we can see it as a gift, or we can see it, we can know it, as life. Life. Just life.

Choose it, or decline it, make it your vocation, or something you do on the side. But don’t ever, ever deride it. Not around me.

Connective Tissue

I am honored to present Connective Tissue, about Samson’s experience with unexplained lactation. Samson is a genderqueer, transgender androgyne living in the southeastern US. They are an educator, a communication junkie and a lover of many languages, programming and music included. They blog at the Felt Fedora and tweet at @feltfedora.

Connective Tissue

(This post references my hormones and my history with medical professionals’ reactions to them. If you need more context, this previous post will help.)

I had nightmares last night. They were confusing, fluid, and at times nonsensical, the way my nightmares tend to be, and in an odd narrative spiral, so that each event is continually revisited, never completely allowed to rest.

In the lulls between, though, my nightmares gave me an odd gift. I dreamed I was nursing a child.

It was lactation that finally pushed me to find a trans*-friendly doctor. I went off of birth control last year, back to the hormones my body produces on its own. (I have noncongenital adrenal hyperplasia, so I have higher-than-”normal” levels of androgens, although this was still undiagnosed at the time.) I expected the boat to rock plenty as my body readjusted; I was expecting facial hair growth and irregular and painful cycles, the same as I had before birth control, and I got that. As a bonus, my voice also dropped. I was not, however, expecting to lactate.

I thought my hormones would be swinging toward androgen-heavy, so I couldn’t figure out how that would make me lactate. Was the cause, instead, the fact that I was regularly binding on weekdays? Was it a temporary effect of withdrawal from birth control? Was I sick–did I have cancer?

I recognized that I needed to see a doctor about this, and about my hormones in general, something I was dreading after the experience that left me on birth control in the first place. I knew I needed a trans*-friendly doctor. It was mostly a matter of practicality: I thought it could be binding that was making me lactate, and I needed a doctor who wouldn’t have a knee-jerk reaction of, “Stop binding. Problem solved (and even if it isn’t, you shouldn’t be doing that anyway).”

So I set out to find a trans*-friendly doctor. I found one. And when I brought up binding, he flinched a moment, but continued calmly as if it were nothing out of the ordinary.

“That kind of compression wouldn’t be causing it,” he said, and simply went on.

Over the next several months, I went through a battery of blood tests. Samples and smears. Manual exams. And this all just for the lactation–none of the other hormonal issues being diagnosed. The whole thing was highly pathologized–not that I can blame anyone. I was (and am) a trans person, never pregnant in my life, possibly infertile, no partner to stimulate lactation. What could it be but disease?

As it turns out, there appears to be no reason at all.

My prolactin and progesterone levels were both nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing suggested cancer. There was nothing I was physically doing to my chest that should be causing me to lactate. My doctor and I settled on not worrying about it; he had ruled out anything frightening, and the only cause for concern was any discomfort it was causing me (I assured him there was none). He instructed me to “leave it alone,” and that in time it might wane.

I’ve discovered that I will be very sad if it does wane.

There’s something about it that sits right with me, despite all odds. I am very much not a woman, and used to experience quite some dysphoria about my chest. It surprises me that something characterized as so essential(istical)y female and “woman” is something that I find now familiar, comfortable… organic?

Today I was linked to a collection of stories on breastfeeding and weaning. Leafing through the parents’ stories of breastfeeding, weaning, and the close relationships they had with their children surrounding those things, I felt both a kinship with and a confused distance from the relational experiences described.

Lactation has changed my relationship with my own body. In an endeavour to explore and mend my relationship with my body, lactation somehow made my chest safer to me. (I remarked one day, to a friend, “If I have to have breasts, at least they’re functional.”) I’ve developed a comfortable sort of relationship with it; counter to my doctor’s orders, I don’t “leave it alone.” I manually express. I look at the milk–never more than a few drops–and marvel at how swirled and pearly it is. I’ve tasted it. (Reading stories of weaning and unweaning reminded me of a memory: me at four, not long after my sibling was born, asking to nurse again just to remember what it was like, and my mother, palpably uncomfortable, shortly refusing. I was disappointed, but didn’t think anything odd of my request.) Somehow my chest feels more organically interwoven with the rest of my body; it doesn’t feel like the strange interloper that it used to, the one that showed up uninvited at age nine and started messing things up at skin level. It feels rooted, somehow. Part of my experience. Part of me.

I’m left with a sense of how much it is not a part of anyone else, though. I don’t have a child or a partner that shares this with me. Reality is really much like a reduced-capacity version of my dream: nursing was a connective experience, but it was one that connected me with myself–not with my dream-child, who was not characterized as much more than an animated doll that I carried with me. It’s an open loop, somehow: everything about lactation, nursing, breastfeeding seems to imply a relationship, a purpose, a person or persons for whom the milk is being created. As much as it connects me with myself, I’m missing that other piece, that other who is connected to me through the experience.

I have wondered about how to broach the topic with partners (which has, so far, been avoided by relationships fading before they become that intimate). How do you explain to a partner that if they touch you in the ways you’re asking them to, you will–I mean, you’re going to lactate on them and you don’t mind and actually find it kind of sexy. As a trans person. As someone who is not a woman. Who has never been pregnant. Who has no reason to be lactating.

I’m left puzzled by the whole thing, this unexpected gift. I do consider it a gift–one that many people (I’m thinking of trans women in particular) sometimes go to great lengths to have, that others inexplicably don’t have, and here I inexplicably do. It’s just puzzling to be sitting alone with a gift that seems, by default, to be meant for more than one person.

Postpartum OCD: The Mom Who Couldn’t Stop Logging

Welcome Anne, aka Dou-la-la, a dear friend, birth activist, student lactation consultant, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanatic:

I couldn’t be more honored or stoked to be guest posting here for Arwyn during her babymoon. This piece was originally published in two parts: Postpartum OCD, A Retroactive Self-Diagnosis and Part 2: The Mom Who Couldn’t Stop Logging. Feel free to click over if you’re interesting in reading them in their original long-winded glory, but I think this version is a little more reasonable anyway.

For two solid years, I never thought of myself as having any kind of postpartum depression, only as a mom who had had an extremely difficult time nursing, and thus everything I struggled with was chalked up to that. Then, last summer, I read a piece written by Bryce Dallas Howard about her own experience, and I was suddenly staring into an unexpected mirror, revealing an uncanny resemblance to my own postpartum inner life.

It is strange for me to recall what I was like at that time. I seemed to be suffering emotional amnesia. I couldn’t genuinely cry, or laugh, or be moved by anything. For the sake of those around me, including my son, I pretended, but when I began showering again in the second week, I let loose in the privacy of the bathroom, water flowing over me as I heaved uncontrollable sobs. When I visited the midwife for a checkup, she gave me a questionnaire, rating things on a scale from 1-5 so that she could get a sense of my emotional state. I gave myself a perfect score. Despite my daily “shower breakdowns” months passed before I even began to acknowledge my true feelings.

Boy, do I know those shower breakdowns. But even beyond that, the last part really resonated with me, as I imagine it would with many women. The Edinburgh Scale – the standard for assessing postpartum depression – is a great tool . . . in theory. I suspect far too many women do exactly what Howard did above, and what I almost certainly would have done: answered dishonestly in order to prove our maternal aptitude (whether proving it to the person giving the test or to ourselves). Part of it may be pride in the sense of ego, part of it may be fear of having our children taken away from us if we admit to our true feelings.

But another huge part of it may be denial – I had a hard time admitting my feelings to myself even at the time, and I actually didn’t recognize many of my own symptoms until long after the fact, through the process of working with other women postpartum. This was heightened by the fact that I believe my own postpartum mood disorder is one that doesn’t get quite as much attention as “regular” postpartum depression (I say that with tongue firmly in cheek, as there is nothing regular about it for those who are experiencing it) or the extremely rare but headline-generating postpartum psychosis.

One of the two postpartum anxiety disorders that are part of the greater PPMD spectrum along with depression and psychosis is postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder (the other is a panic disorder). Despite being reasonably aware of postpartum depression, I had never even heard of the OCD variation at the time. Howard’s piece then spurred me to read more, and more, and suddenly my entire first year as a mother was cast in a new, much more revealing light. Many of you have read my nursing story, and I’ve always been willing to talk openly about that, but I had never talked publicly about the deeper psychological undercurrents that accompanied the whole saga.

Not a happy mama.

I did start off with a pretty acute case of the Baby Blues, the most benign and the most common of all postpartum mood variations. It’s hormonally driven, and not considered a disorder – frankly, it’s quite a normal and expected, temporary state, as 75 to 80% of all mothers experience this to some degree. This much of my tale I did actually write about already, in this post about the dreaded Third Day. From there, I got about a week of near-reprieve, until our breastfeeding challenges starting to become more and more apparent. It is here that the fears underlying the OCD began to send down their roots.

Not a happy baby.

Here’s the most emotionally difficult part to talk about, regarding this phase where more and more breastfeeding red flags were popping up: I was getting very frightened. And understandably, the people who were closest to me wanted to reassure me. I was told over and over that she was fine. Babies just cry like that sometimes. She’ll poo eventually – she has to, she’s eating, isn’t she? It’s good that she’s sleeping – you’re lucky! Look at those chubby cheeks, she’s not starving. She would be rooting if she was hungry. She’ll eat if she’s hungry enough. Sometimes breastfed babies just don’t poo for a while. Trust your body. She’s fine. And inside, my gut was screaming No. NO. She’s NOT fine. Something IS wrong. Her cries DO have meaning. She needs help. I need help. But I kept suppressing my gut. I listened to the reassurances and tried to ignore the sense of unease growing into dread and finally terror.

But I kept suppressing my gut. I listened to the reassurances from friends and family and tried to ignore the sense of unease growing into dread and finally terror. When we returned and had her plummeting weight confirmed. I just wept at that. I had failed her. I had not listened to my instincts when I knew deep down that something was going very, very wrong, and I allowed well-meaning others to reassure me and talk me out of my fears. And I had utterly failed her. My baby had suffered because of my incompetence at the most fundamental aspect of being a mother.

And so the stage was set. An intense case of baby blues, which dissolved into a few days of still-concerned but mostly oblivious reprieve, which then segued into the full-blown crisis of our multifaceted nursing situation.

Howard’s piece led me to find this excellent post by Postpartum Progress: The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression (In Plain Mama English). Reading this compounded the retroactive epiphany for me. There are so many bullet points that describe my state for months on end; I’ll go through some of them specifically:

  • Your thoughts are racing. You can’t quiet your mind. You can’t settle down. You can’t relax.

How I relate to this. I had to spend so much time both pumping (every 3 hours around the clock, 2 alarms were set for overnight) and on feedings themselves, and both required me to more or less not be doing anything else, at least on a physical level. The various techniques we used differed depending on her progress over time, but they all required effort and focus and some combination of equipment. There was no wearing my newborn in a sling and going about my business as she suckled away, no reading books, no idly jotting down precious newborn memories into a keepsake journal, no relaxing and snoozing as we nursed in sidelying repose. Nothing I had pictured my life as a breastfeeder would consist of. Every feeding, 8 times a day, was a major Process.

Pumping, which I did for 15 minutes immediately after every feeding, took less mental energy once I got myself set up, but I was still immobilized. And I vividly remember how my mind would just SPIN, thinking of everything I should be doing and would be doing as soon as I could leap up and into action. I would think and rethink, order and reorder, everything. Label milk, put into refrigerator, rotate the stock and transfer oldest into storage bags, relabel, put in freezer, clean pumping shields and collection bottles, change diaper, put amount she drank and the diaper onto the logs – NO, WAIT, log the amount she drank first, then put the leftover into the milk rotation, then change her diaper, then . . .

  • You feel like you have to be doing something at all times. Cleaning bottles. Cleaning baby clothes. Cleaning the house. Doing work. Entertaining the baby. Checking on the baby.

There were the normal mothering chores and the extra lactation-related tasks I had on my plate, both carried out in a sense of focused franticness, but even healing things became tools of obsession. My lactation consultant (the second one, the IBCLC with whom I worked for months) was very holistic, and she recommended a number of associated things that were meant to support the process. All of them good things, like cobathing, flower essences, homeopathy and EFT, but my own growing mania twisted them. The feeling that I always, always had to be doing SOMETHING was constant.

And it went on like this. One of the things that saved me, in several ways, was actually television. When nothing in particular was on, I turned it to CNN. Not only did this help with the mind mania, but it helped me feel somewhat – somewhat - less isolated. And, ironically, tethered to the real world, even if it was a fictitious one on the surface. The isolation was by far the most damaging factor, though, as a major risk factor for all types of PPMD. This was hard for me to accept, as I’ve always enjoyed time alone, even thrived on high-quality, productive introversion, but for new mothers, solitude quickly turns malignant.

I don’t waste much time on regret, and grueling as some of my experiences have been, I still cherish their lessons, but if I could change only one thing about the whole experience, the decision to live in such solitude would probably be it. I would go for days without seeing another adult, sometimes days without even leaving the house. Daddy did the best he could from afar. My weeks were built around Lily’s regular chiropractic/craniosacral therapy and the nursing support group run by my second lactation consultant, IBCLC Jennifer Tow, the one who finally figured out what was really going on.

Other bullet points that resonated, and by “resonated” I mean “slapped me upside the head”:

  • You are worried. Really worried. All. The. Time. Am I doing this right? Will my husband come home from his trip? Will the baby wake up? Is the baby eating enough? Is there something wrong with the baby that I’m missing? No matter what anyone says to reassure you it doesn’t help.

I mentioned one experience in part one when Lily had peed on a heating pad and I completely lost my mind over it. That was the first incident, but it somehow set a theme in motion, I believe. The first time she threw up I was utterly terrified that she was critically ill (I’m talking actual vomit, not just spitup), and every time it happened thereafter it would plunge me into absolute hysterics all over again. The first time I had to drive her anywhere alone was an hour-long drive to the chiropractor/craniosacral therapist, and I may have had the first panic attack of my life merging onto the highway. I think I drove about 40-45 mph the entire time, often on the shoulder, heart pounding, dumbfounded by the fact that other parents seemed to manage to do this all the time, putting their precious babes into shiny metal boxes and hurtling along at what now seemed like impossibly irresponsible speeds.

Those are just a few examples. Suffice it to say that everything panicked me, everything – most of all, her input and output. Repeating from that last bullet point:

  • Is there something wrong with the baby that I’m missing?

I described in part one the experience of having my fears about Lily’s issues dismissed only to later be proven right – you can imagine how this affected my parenting and my management of the situation. Actually, you don’t have to imagine it – I have pictures. This says it all, in its way:


Can you guess what those are? Here’s another shot:

Yes, readers, those are my logs. ONE FULL YEAR’S WORTH. I logged every single feeding and every single diaper for her entire first year. I’m not exaggerating when I say “every single”. I never went anywhere without them, perplexing my loved ones. No matter what, I could not change a diaper without noting it. I literally felt physically unsettled, queasy, blood pressure rising, until it was recorded, by time (after the first few weeks, if it was poo, it was noted as such, otherwise simply writing the time indicated a wet one). No, Lily, you don’t have a lovingly crafted scrapbook of your first year, with locks of hair, longhand memories and milestones recorded, but you do have a pile of chicken scratch on paper documenting every nuance of your digestive function. Precious.

And feedings? Oh, how I obsessed over the number of ounces she got per day – something no breastfeeding mother should ever need to do if things are going well. I tracked the number of ounces per feeding and added them up, and if it was less than what a normal breastfed baby was estimated to eat, I was despondent, set off into a whirlwind of worry about what was going on now on top of still not being on the breast. Eventually, when we transitioned to the Lact-Aid, I also tracked minutes spent with tube in use, minutes without, and total ounces consumed. It was positively algebraic.

That leads me to another part of that one bullet point:

  • No matter what anyone says to reassure you it doesn’t help.

Many of my late night phone calls (during which various members of the nursing group, Lily’s father, my friends, and Jennifer herself would take turns talking me off the ledge) were absolutely helpful. It lessened the despair, at least for the length of the call. But I know they must have been frustrating for them at times, because I had to run through the same conversations over and over and over. And over. And over. The same reassurances would be offered, and somehow I just could not let them sink in. This particular symptom came up not long ago, when a CLC-in-training and I were working on a case together, where the same information was being given to a mother, over and over, from multiple sources, and somehow it just could not get through. The CLC mentioned this aspect of postpartum OCD being discussed at her training, and I immediately recognized myself in it.

I remember railing to Jennifer about my terror that Lily just was not eating enough, she couldn’t be, she only got 23 ounces yesterday, how can this be happening? and on and on. Jen patiently kept bringing me back to her weight gain, which had been totally fine from week three on, and diaper output, which was more than adequate. This was just not enough to convince me. I’d repeat myself, again and again, she would respond with reason and evidence in the form of diapers, rinse and repeat. Finally, understandably exasperated, she said “Anne, it’s not like she’s taking it from the atmosphere!”

This broke me out of it, at least momentarily, and I laughed, and had a bit more self-awareness come back. My obsession with the logs wasn’t over, I couldn’t let go of them until she was just over a year, but my recollection was that after that conversation, I DID ease up on my fears a bit, as I was always able to come back to the idea that my baby had found a way to metabolize the moisture in the air just to throw off the diaper logs and mess with my mind.

Logs, man. They are a double-edged sword. Proceed with serious caution. They are useful to get an idea of what’s going on at the beginning, especially if you suspect something’s amiss. But I strongly recommend that if everything seems to be going well, DON’T. And even if there are issues, once they start to be resolved, give them up as soon as possible. It just becomes lunacy in the wrong hands.

  • You are afraid to be alone with your baby because of the thoughts. You are also afraid of things in your house that could potentially cause harm, like kitchen knives or stairs, and you avoid them like the plague.
  • You feel like a captive animal, pacing back and forth in a cage. Restless. On edge.
  • You have to check things constantly. Did I lock the door? Did I lock the car? Did I turn off the oven? Is the baby breathing?
  • You feel a sense of dread all the time, like something terrible is going to happen.

Yep, these too. I never had repetitive thoughts of intentionally harming her, luckily, but I did fixate on the possibility of accidentally harming her, in every conceivable way. The OCD manifested primarily in the logs and the whole ritual that was built up out of the 3 hour cycle of feed, pump, clean and prepare next supplement, then do everything else there is to do in life in between, but these other typical OCD thought patterns were there, too.

  • You can’t eat. You have no appetite.
  • You can’t sleep. You are so, so tired, but you can’t sleep.

On these physical symptoms, well, in the first case, I had just the opposite reaction, but this is not uncommon if there’s a history of eating disorders, which there is. I initially dropped about 25-30 pounds very quickly in the early weeks, but then I stalled, and eventually, I actually gained a bit of it back. Eating, along with Bravo, Buffy and The Soup, was one of my only sources of solace, and I gave in to it.

If you’re thinking I should have been working out, then, at least, well, sure, that would have been fabulous. I was originally a dancer, after all, and had thrived on yoga and Pilates for years as well. I love exercise. If I have it to do over with another baby someday, you bet I’ll find a way. But aside from walks every few days, I couldn’t bear to have another demand placed on me, especially a physical one, and that’s just the way I felt at the time. Judge me as lazy if you will.

The sleeping, I managed most of the time, though my racing mind would often cause me to take a long, long time to drop off (which I could never do unless EVERYTHING was done and set up just-so). Naps? Forget about it. I could be so exhausted that I was literally fighting off falling asleep at the wheel in the middle of the day, on the way back from nursing group (this happened far too often), and still I couldn’t follow the oldest new parent adage in the books: “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” Impossible. There was just too much to do, and no one else to do it.

One final bullet point of note:

  • You are afraid that this is your new reality and that you’ve lost the “old you” forever.

This one cut pretty deep. This was the crux of so much. One of the most affecting things Judy did for me in her first visit, when I was at my most despondent and vulnerable, was to grab my hand, look me in the eye, and say firmly, “It is not always going to be like this.” And though it took longer than usual for us, eventually, she was right. In a broader sense, I’m still working on this in a way, as integrating parenthood into one’s identity is a process, not an event. But compared to the freefall of the first 6 months to a year, I can assure other moms from experience that the best qualities and passions of their former selves are still there, even if on the back burner; hell, even if in cold storage.

She finally began nursing at five months old, but it took a bit longer for the OCD to fully recede. We eventually emerged, slowly, as she neared her first birthday, partly because nursing eventually became so successful that even I, with all my doubts, couldn’t deny that all really was well at long last, and, not coincidentally, because we moved to live with her daddy full-time.

Another difficult admission: It took a long time for me not to feel gripped with jealousy every time I heard a new mother describing her blissful babymoon with little to no relative difficulty, and I still occasionally get pangs, if I’m to be completely honest. But as much as I think is possible, I’ve grown to accept that this was my experience, and that it has its own gifts, especially in the form of my drive to help other new mothers, in various contexts, as my true life calling. (This is also emphatically NOT to suggest that in the absence of challenges like mine, motherhood is always a breeze. Far from it)

The irony is not lost on me. The OCD manifested itself in the things I had to do in order to make nursing work. Breastfeeding was thus both the means of its expression and the very thing that saved me . . .

DSC07410

. . . along with Lily herself, who gave me glimmers of hope all the way through, who continued to draw out my love with her glorious baby self, and who never, ever, ever gave up on me.

Please check out these links on Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:

Postpartum Progress: Rate of Postpartum OCD May Be Much Higher Than Current Statistics

Babble on Postpartum Anxiety Disorders

Linkanikos

Another link round up from the lovely Emily. With luck, I’ll even have a chance to read them all soon. Probably whilst nursing.

Hello all.  How’s you?  Me, oh you know…  Now we’ve gotten the pleasantries out of the way, down to linkage.

At Big Fat Blog, in Scotland, a couple might have lose four of their seven children because their parents “failed to help them slim down.”  There’s email addresses at the bottom of the post you can use to help support keeping this family together.

Wikileaks revealed that the U.S has been lobbying against breastfeeding campaigns in the Philippines.  PhD in Parenting wrote about Evenflo breast pumps, and how a company goes from good to very, very bad.

Oregon Health & Science University researchers have developed a new contraceptive that is more focused and safer, controlling mechanisms that result in the release of an egg.  Intriguing.  s.e smith at Bitch on pop culture representations of parenting with mental illness.

At Tiger Beatdown, Sady wrote a lovely post about feminism, critique and feeling virtuous.

Massive unemployment: proof capitalism doesn’t work.  Another sad sign of the times – climate scientists establishing a legal defense fund because of all the lawsuits they’re facing.

In Greece, the rebel dog Loukanikos barked at some police offices in Syntagma (Constitution) Square.  Arwyn has her Doctor Who fandom, I have stray dogs in Athens.  Ok, I have Doctor Who too.

And speaking of, Doctor Whooves is feeling impatient.

Arwyn again: The dear (pony-fied) Doctor was obviously not in postpartum baby-land. As Kareena says, babies distort the space time continuum. Truer words ne’er were spoken!

I’m alive! To prove it, have some links!

So I’m sort of, y’know, done? With this whole parenting-pregnancy-housebuying-blogging-daily-living thing? And my need for, and frequent inability to achieve, sleep has pretty much taken over my life? And yet, annoyingly, the world continues.

Fortunately, other writers have continued to, unlike me, write:

Both Salon and bluemilk have tackled the bruhaha around Madison Young (activist, artist, sex worker) and her Becoming MILF exhibit.

Salon:

The emotional response to her public breast-feeding conveys the Madonna/whore dichotomy better than Young could ever hope to do with her kitschy quilt and breast milkshakes. The idea that there is something inherently prurient about a porn star breast-feeding plays right into that classic either-or thinking: Her breasts are erotic in one venue, so they can’t be wholesome in another.

bluemilk (if you only read one of these articles, make it this one):

There is something else worth considering about Furry Girl’s criticisms of Young, and that is the way in which she can’t distinguish between mothers and mothering. Yes, Young’s daughter can’t give permission for being included in her mother’s artwork, neither can mine give permission for my writing. But who owns Young’s experience of motherhood? Who owns mine? Where do Young’s and my experiences of early motherhood and our desire to explore these all-consuming aspects of our lives end, and our children’s ownership of them begin? Can Young, who describes her devotion to her baby daughter so lovingly, not be trusted to know? Does being sexual as women (or even sexually objectified unintentionally) spill dangerously over into our responsibilities as mothers? Does it prevent us from good mothering?

These are particularly poignant questions for me, given the reactions to my recent public discussion of sex.

Also on the topic of breastfeeding, Scientific American reports that Breastfeeding Reduces Risk of Hard-to-Treat Breast Cancer among African-American Women:

The researchers analyzed data from the Black Women’s Health Study, which has collected health information from some 59,000 women for the past 16 years, focusing on 318 cases of ER-/PR- breast cancer and 457 cases of estrogen receptor- and progesterone receptor-positive (ER+/PR+) cancer. Palmer and her team found that black women with breast cancer who had two or more children and didn’t breastfeed them were 50 percent more likely to have the ER-/PR- form of breast cancer than those who had two children and breastfed them.

And a note on language: in hypothesizing some other potential explanations for the difference, the post declares African-descended women have “tougher immune systems to cope with endemic diseases of sub-Saharan Africa” (emphasis added). While at first glance, this might appear a benign phrasing, it seems to me another instance of the animalization of Black peoples; other, just-as-accurate ways of phrasing the same concept might include “more advanced”, “highly evolved”1, “smarter”, etc. But these would require different cultural conceptualizations of race.2

And I feel like I owe you so much more in the way of linkage (and to be sure, there have been some amazing posts I’ve encountered in the blogosphere recently, and please feel free to leave more, your own or others, in the comments), but, well, see aforementioned done-ness.

PS No one say this doneness is a sign of immanent birth. It’s not allowed to be. We’re still weeks away from closing on the house, so if you’re going to send vibes, send stay-in-and-healthy vibes, please. One of the few things worse than dealing with another few weeks of this would be The Man using up all his vacation time babymooning — and then still have to move. With a newborn. So, just, no.3

ETA OMG PONY DOCTOR WHO!

This is only quite possibly the best thing in the history of everything. Because pony Doctor. And bad French. You’re welcome.

  1. OK, technically we’re all equally evolved, because we’ve all been on the planet equally long, and therefore have evolved the same amount, if in very, very subtly different ways.
  2. I also have questions about the accuracy of generalizations that characterize sub-Saharan Africa as more disease-ridden, and inherently and long-term so, than other places, but am not knowledgeable enough about evolutionary epidemiology to make any challenges to this assertion.
  3. We’d survive, obviously; I’d manage somehow. I just don’t want to, ta.
Private