Welcome to the World Breastfeeding 2013 Blog Carnival cohosted by NursingFreedom.org and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center!
This post was written for inclusion in the WBW 2013 Blog Carnival. Our participants will be writing and sharing their stories about community support and normalizing breastfeeding all week long. Find more participating sites in the list at the bottom of this post or at the main carnival page.
Rachel feeding Sparrow within minutes of her birth.
I’m so excited to present the last article for the breastfeeding carnival.
Written by Rachel Brown:
Honoring The Journey
Last month I shared this wonderful poem with a friend who was honored at a blessingway. (http://pomegranate-ensouled.blogspot.com/2011/03/being-woman.html) It has become the anthem and credo of my conceptualization of sisterhood, and the support and respect I hope to give the women in my life.
Last spring at a conference on maternal health disparities, I attended a breakout session directed by Claudia Booker (CPM, JD), the keynote speaker of the conference. She spoke about cultural competency and posited that there are no “diverse” populations of women, just “women.” She said, “You think they’re so different from you? They have somebody that loves them, I have somebody that loves me. They feel the exact same way about the war, about breast cancer. They worry, what happens when I die? Will my child turn out all right?”She urged us to ask questions when we don’t understand, and stated, “I just tell people, I’m old, I’m ignorant, but my heart is pure, and my hands are open.” She told us, “Every mother wants to be a good mother. Every mother wants what’s best for her child. Anything else, is when we let other stuff get in the way.”
Someone raised her hand and shared her story of her sister, who was estranged from the family due to personal choices that conflicted with the family values. This woman stated that she missed her sister and wanted to make amends, but wasn’t sure how to approach her. Claudia responded, “Let me tell you something. First, you’ve gotta go get your sister!” she exclaimed. “Once you fix that, the rest won’t matter as much. Go find your sister.”
Her words were simple, but deeply resonated with me. When I think my Claudia’s comments in the context of the breastfeeding journey, it is heartbreaking to think of the divisiveness and criticism women encounter while navigating one of the most vulnerable and intimate relationships of their lives. Everyone seems to feel judged; everyone seems to feel “other.” It occurred to me that despite how we present ourselves, no matter how confident and passionate; the insecurities are there beneath the surface. Sometimes, as we grapple for identity and struggle to reassure ourselves that we’re okay, we sacrifice our sisters to the gods of our causes. However fair and bright they may be; it’s not worth the cost of a relationship, or of becoming someone who brings enmity rather than empathy when we come in the room. All women deserve access to the best information, resources, and social support as they make decisions, but they also deserve for someone to listen to their story and honor their path.
When you see a woman out on the street or across the room who is feeding her baby, remember that they didn’t just appear out of the void. That mama and baby have already been through a lot together. They are already on a hero’s journey. Whatever that mother has been through—and she has been through something—a difficult pregnancy, disappointment in herself, loss and grief, postpartum anxiety or depression, birth trauma, in-law trauma, relationship trauma, whatever it be—she has survived it and she is caring for her child. That is something to applaud.
That’s my sister, I accept her as my sister and know there’s a place for me to learn from her as well as to share what I know. Sometimes in our enthusiasm to preach the enlightenment we’ve found, we find ourselves less eager to listen. Honoring her path is accepting that she is doing it right. She is feeding her child. She loves her child, she is holding her child. She feels that sweet ache when baby is finally sleeping, no matter how much they drove her crazy during the day, she knows this time is precious. She knows it won’t last.
You really want to save the world from bad habits and misinformation and deception and lies and misogyny and cruelty? Don’t paint your banner with the colors of absolutes, with conditions and expectations. Wave the banner of “Come as you are, there is a place for you.” Make yourself a safe place. Make your home and heart a space where exploration is encouraged and nurturing your baby, however that looks for you, is celebrated and honored.
There is so much I want to change about the world. I want to break chains, tear down structures that deceive and oppress. I want to facilitate healing. But first, I want to go find my sister.
In that spirit, here is my slightly altered version of Helen Ramoutski’s lovely poem:
I Honor You
In circle gathered
In circle breast
In circle nourishing
In circle One
She whose milk came in quickly and whose baby latched gracefully,
Fortunate Woman, I honor you
She who gritted her teeth through pinches of pain
Rocked back and forth to calm babe and herself
Determined Woman, I honor you
She who pumped milk from a broken heart for her tiny NICU baby,
Precious milk given by others through a dropper
She who drove away grieving after the visit,
Courageous Woman, I honor you
She who still used a nipple shield after months
She who felt desperate rejoicing in the brief moments of connection
Faithful Woman, I honor you
She who shudders with silent horror before let-down
and holds steady until the hollow feeling fades
D-MER Woman, I honor you
She who gives of her abundance
To a nest of hungry baby birds
Milk-Sharing Woman, I honor you
She who nurtures one at breast and one in belly,
whose arms fold around tiny limbs and long
Tandem-Nursing Woman, I honor you
She who cradles child long longed-for, fresh and warm from another’s arms
They feed one another with hope and healing
Adoptive, Foster, Intended Mother, I honor you
She to whom nature was both kind and cruel
Who sacrificed flesh for more time to stay,
Survivor Woman, I honor you
She who feels that aching swell during meetings and in classrooms
Who endures the latch of a pump each day
Resilient Woman, I honor you
She who learned her limits and listened to her body’s cries
Who made a change to save what was needed most
Wise Woman, I honor you
She who greets the indignant strangers boldly
in all her beauty uncovered
Free Woman, I honor you
She who withstands pain and sustains life,
doubts and hopes,
weeps and laughs,
fills and empties,
pumps and freezes,
rocks and sings,
gives and keeps giving,
And feeds her child with the best of herself,
Sister, I Honor You.
Visit NursingFreedom.org and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center for more breastfeeding resources and WBW Carnival details!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants. Below are a list of links for today’s participants; you can find a complete list of links (updated throughout the week) at our main carnival page:
(This list will be updated by afternoon August 5 with all the carnival links.)
- An Unexpected Formula-Fed Attachment — Kyle (of JEDI Momster and) writing at Natural Parents Network, exclusively breastfed three healthy babies. So when she was pregnant with her fourth, she assumed she would have no breastfeeding troubles she could not overcome. Turns out, her fourth baby had his own ideas. Kyle shares her heartfelt thoughts on how she came to terms with the conclusion of her breastfeeding journey.
- It Take a Village: Cross Nursing — Shannah at Breastfeeding Utah shares how cross-nursing helped her baby in their time of need, and how that experience inspired her to create a community of cross-nursing and milk-sharing women.
- Random little influences and Large scale support communities lead to knowing better and doing better — amy at random mom shares how her ideas and successes involved with breastfeeding evolved with each of her children, how her first milk sharing experience completely floored her, and how small personal experiences combined with huge communities of online support were responsible for leading and educating her from point A to point D, and hopefully beyond.
- Mikko’s weaning story — After five years of breastfeeding, Lauren at Hobo Mama shares how the nursing relationship with her firstborn came to a gentle end.
- My Milk is Your Milk — Lola at What the Beep am I Doing? discusses her use of donor milk and hhow she paid the gift back to other families.
- World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival – Celebrating Each Mother’s Journey — Jenny at I’m a full-time mummy lists her experiences and journey as a breastfeeding mother.
- Working Mom Nursing Twins — Sadia at How Do You Do It? breastfed her twin daughters for 7 months. They made it through premature birth and NICU stays, her return to full-time work, her husband’s deployment to Iraq, and Baby J’s nursing strike.
- So, You Wanna Milkshare? — Milk banks, informed community sharing and friends, oh my! So many ways to share the milky love; That Mama Gretchen is sharing her experience with each.
- Milk Siblings: One Mama’s Milk Sharing Story (and Resources)Amber, guest posting at Code Name: Mama, shares how her views on milk sharing were influenced by her daughter receiving donor milk from a bank during a NICU stay, and how that inspired her to give her stash to a friend.
- Humans Feeding Humans — Krystyna at Sweet Pea Births shares ideas on how we can celebrate all the different ways modern mommies feed their babies. While we are comfortable with the breastmilk-formula paradigm, she proposes that we expand our horizons and embrace all the different ways mamas feed their infants.
- When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Go As Planned — MandyE of Twin Trials and Triumphs shares the challenges she faced in feeding her premature twins. She’s still learning to cope with things not having gone exactly as she’d always hoped.
- Taking Back My Life By Giving Away My Milk — When Amanda Rose Adams‘s first child was born, he was tube fed, airlifted, ventilated, and nearly died twice. In the chaos of her son’s survival, pumping breast milk was physically and mentally soothing for Amanda. Before long her freezer was literally overflowing with milk – then she started giving it away.
- The Tortoise and the Hare — Nona’s Nipples at The Touch of Life discusses why we care about breast milk and formula with everything inbetween.
- Finding My Tribe of Women Through Milk Sharing — Mj, guest posting at San Diego Breastfeeding Center shares her journey breastfeeding with low milk supply and supplementing with donor milk using an at the breast supplemental nursing system. She shares the impact milk sharing has had on her life, her family, and how it saved her breastfeeding relationship. Her article can also be found at her blog:
- Human Milk for Human Babies — Sam at Nelson’s Nest shares her perspective on milk-sharing after an unexpected premature delivery left her pumping in the hopes of breastfeeding her son one day. Sam’s milk was an amazing gift to the other preemie who received it, but the connection was a blessing in the donor mom’s life too!
- Sister, I Honor You — A mother feeding her baby is a triumph and should be honored, not criticized. Before you judge or propagate your own cause, go find your sister. A post by Racher: Mama, CSW, at The Touch of Life.
- Every Breastfeeding Journey Is Different, Every One Is Special — No two stories are alike, evidenced by That Mama Gretchen’s collaboration of a few dear mama’s reflections on their breastfeeding highs, lows and in betweens.
- Quitting Breastfeeding — Jen W at How Do You Do It? share a letter she wrote to her boys, three years ago exactly, the day she quit breastfeeding after 9 months.
- A Pumping Mom’s Journey — Shannah at Breastfeeding Utah shares about her journey pumping for her son, who was born at 29 weeks.