Sunday, 9 October 2011

The Boob and the Slap.

                             "Breastfeeding" by Tamara de Lempicka  

Breastfeeding is one of the many things I've failed at in my life. That's cool - I'm ok with it. Neither of my boys suffered, and I'll never forget the distinct relief both Max and I felt when he downed a whole bottle of formula in one go. He was hungry! I'd bought fenegreek and rested and pumped ... but no boob in the world could have kept up with that guy. He was a feeding machine. I got shamed in mothers group, which was annoying. All of the mums went around the circle giving me advice, trying to "help" ... until I said, "Actually, you know what? I've made my decision, and I wasn't really enjoying breastfeeding anyway."


I didn't last long in that group.

A breastfeeding mother is so vulnerable. When Rocco was about three weeks old I took both my guys down to a huge repulsive play centre. Max was six, Dave was sick at home, and I just wanted to do something different. As I sat on the couch quietly breastfeeding, with my long scarf draped over me, a woman came up to me and said, "Excuse me, how old is your baby?" I told her and she shook her head. She told me that he was too young to be out.

I couldn't defend myself, sitting there with my boob stuck in my infants mouth. I was bone tired, and just gave her the death stare to rival all other death stares. Nearby children cried, such was the dark energy of that death stare. About an hour later, I went to feed Rocco again and noticed this guy sat across from me. I had to stay where I was to keep an eye on Max ... this guy watched, intently, as I got Rocco to latch on. My face was burning. Thinking about it now I get angry. He was a weirdo, man. The look on his face was just pure lust. Like, I was starring in his own personal fetish porno. That's where the lines blur ... when people think that breastfeeding is sexual. It is not.

All mothers carry their breastfeeding stories with them. It's a hot button topic ... I never felt comfortable breastfeeding in public, and it was such a relief to whip out a bottle of formula instead. That's such a shame.

Last week I read THIS PIECE over on Babble Voices called "My Take on Breastfeeding: Just do it, but discreetly." The author got hammered for her opinions on covering up, both in the comments and on twitter, until the editors at Babble had to issue a statement that the views of their writers were not necessarily Babble's views as a whole. Then Babble got some cranky questioning, about "cutting their writer's adrift." It was all fascinating and I sat there silently reading it all, eating my popcorn, keeping my own views safely at bay.

I sat in a meeting just this morning, and a woman's teeny baby was squawking. So she breastfed, very discreetly. I watched a guy watch her and I wanted to punch him, but that's because of my own issues. It felt a bit odd to hear the *gulp* of the baby drinking her milk ... again, that is because of my own issues.

How can it be acceptable to buy your morning newspaper and milk from a shop that sells booby magazines that people don't bat an eye at ... but a slip of a nipple in public for a millisecond while a hungry baby drinks causes an uproar? It doesn't make sense.


Yesterday, I watched the first episode of an eight-part series called "The Slap." Based on the novel by Christos Tsiolkas, it "traces the shattering repercussions of a single event upon a group of family and friends." (You can see it HERE.) Beware: Even though his character leaves a lot to be desired, Jonathan LaPaglia is a HOT HOTTIE. Who knew Anthony had a brother?

Basically, a child gets a slap by an adult at a party. The controversial factor was supposed to be that the adult is not the child's parent. Yet inadvertently the controversial factor was that the child was still being breastfed at four years old. I haven't read the book, so I wondered how much of a character set-up the whole breastfeeding storyline was ... did the writers all sit around talking about ways to make the childs parents look bad? "I know ... let's make the mother STILL be breastfeeding!"

A lot of people think that four years old is too for a child to still be breastfeeding. A lot of people think that women should not breastfeed in public, and a lot of people will vehemently defend the rights of any type of breastfeeding, anywhere. I met Annie from PHD in Parenting at BlogHer this year, she presented THIS VIDEO called "Covering Up is a Feminist Issue" at the keynote. Sitting behind the stage, I watched it backwards ... to my horror, as the images of beautiful mothers with their beautiful babies doing the most natural thing in the world went on, I became aware of my own hidden prejudice and beliefs around breastfeeding in public. And I am a person who has breastfed in public!

Why is breastfeeding so controversial? Shouldn't we all direct our strong views on, say child hunger .. instead of child hunger being met in a completely natural way?

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