Saturday, September 29, 2012

Crying for Dreams

I promised I wouldn't change. I promised I would be the same person, that I wouldn't become the woman who talked about her child constantly, the woman who wouldn't long to be home holding my baby after being out for only an hour, the woman who became nothing but a mother. Most of all, I promised I wouldn't become that woman who told her childless friends that they just couldn't understand because they aren't a mom. I hated those women, I couldn't stand how they seemed to look at my life like it wasn't as serious as theirs, that as much as I could be sympathetic and understanding, I just didn't get it. 

I didn't get it.

I didn't understand that when I became a mother, I would also be putting to rest a part of myself. I knew I would change, I knew that my life was changing in the most dramatic and intense way, I suppose I failed to understand the magnitude of that change.  A part of me died when such a larger part of me came alive to bloom. I don't know if it's the same for other women, I just know what happened to me. I hate the pretentiousness I feel when I look at my friends who don't have children and think, "they just don't get it." But they don't, I didn't and I think that's the hardest part. That I despised the women like me, those mothers who looked at each other with knowing, with a secret language that only mothers know. Giving birth is like receiving the Rosetta Stone to this secret language. All of these parts in your brain that you never knew existed come alive and ignite and you realize how much you didn't know before that moment.

Shortly after Kitty was born I took her with me to the co-op to pick up some groceries. I was wandering among the produce when a woman approached me. She looked at Kitty sleeping in her wrap and said the usual things that women say about new babies and then she looked at me and said something I will never forget, "I can still see it on you, you've been there, you've been to the other side haven't you?" It struck me, I had never thought of it before, but in those hours before Kitty was born, it was other worldly. I went to another place, a place where I went deep into something ancient and timeless and when I exited, I was forever changed.

I have heard of Native Americans going on vision quests or crying for dreams. They are pushed to physical limits, often fasting, they come to a deep understanding of themselves to show their purpose in life, it is a right of passage leaving your life as a child and beginning a new life as an adult. It is a birth in itself. It is also a death.

And so I changed, more than I expected, more than I maybe wanted to. Part of me died when I was on the other side, I wasn't prepared for that, I don't think it's something I considered. I knew I would have a son or a daughter, I knew I would be a mother, but I didn't think about the person I would be leaving behind. There is no official title for a childless woman. I left her there on the other side. I came back from my quest, with my daughter, my dream.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Why I Am Proud to EBF

I shouldn't go on any kind of parenting forum, it's kind of like knowing that I shouldn't eat cake or read Cosmo magazines, but I just can't help it. I signed up for Baby Center right after I got pregnant and in some sort of plan from above, my account became inaccessible through my phone. All I was able to do was read postings from other members, I couldn't actually contribute. Thank God. I probably would have been kicked off after day two. If you want a good time, just log onto an online community of 17,000 hormonal pregnant/postpartum women. There are many topics that make me want to reach out and lovingly slap some sense into my fellow mothers, but the breastfeeding debate is one that will never be won because women are the masters of excuses. 

When it comes down to it, I don't care much how you feed your child, but I do think that I have a right to be proud of how I have chosen to feed mine. A woman on Baby Center had posted about how she was proud to have made it to bronze boobies. For those who don't know, "bronze" means that you have made it to three months exclusively breast feeding your child. There are also diamond, ruby and platinum boobies, etc. each for extended breastfeeding. Several of the formula feeding moms decided to go off on how they thought this was ridiculous, how they believed that there shouldn't be any reward for breastfeeding, that breastfeeding mothers should get off their high horses. Basically telling this woman and all other EBF mothers that by being proud of breastfeeding she was putting down formula feeders.

I am proud to breastfeed, that is not something that I will ever hide.

There is something wrong with our society. There is something wrong with the fact that people, especially women are expected to not be proud of their accomplishments, of their hard work. I believe in being humble, I do not think we need to flash about something to make someone else feel bad, but I also believe that we should not be ashamed to take pride in something we work for. I liken this to people downplaying or talking negatively about someone who has worked hard to look physically attractive. I remember in high school after I had lost twenty five pounds on Weight Watchers, I felt very proud of myself, I had worked hard, very hard, to have the body that I wanted. I also remember being made to feel bad about being proud of my new figure by friends who were heavier than me. So when I should have been feeling great about my accomplishments, I was instead spending all my time being considerate of someone else's feelings.

 As I said before, I could care less how you feed your child, but I went through months of pain and work to give my daughter the food that I believe is best for her. Am I proud? Absolutely. This is not an entry about the benefits of breastfeeding, this is an entry about being entitled to the pride that I feel knowing that I am giving my daughter a healthy start, that I continue to nourish her with my own body past the ten months that I carried her in me. So no, I will not tiptoe around the fact that I feel like I am doing what is right to make my daughters first food, her best food.