Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Quiet Breastfeeding Nazi

I don't consider myself to be a breastfeeding nazi. I'm just pro breastfeeding and anti formula. I'm not anti women who formula feed though, just anti formula company. I don't have a single nice thing to say about companies who produce artificial baby milk. They seem to do nothing but undermine natural baby feeding, break WHO advertising codes, and make mega bucks. 

As I was feeding my baby the other night I was reading something about how special breast feeding is, and I thought to myself "but I don't think it IS special". Sure I was sad when my older two weaned (one at 6 months, one at 4.5years) but I didn't feel really special when I was feeding them. 

Not that it isn't special, but any time we spend with our babies is special. Any sweet little smile they give us, any time they sleep in our arms, the way they love us so unconditionally, it's all lovely. Breast feeding is just normal, like giving your baby a sandwich but easier.

I'm not lucky that I breast feed, my baby isn't lucky, we're just normal. It didn't come easily to me with any of the kids, I had to work really hard to get it right. I had a lot of pain in the early days with all of them. And with the first, it shot my confidence to bits and was the first of the steps that led to failure. And I don't think I I failed, coz I really wanted to breastfeed. I think that society failed me and my daughter by telling us that "breast is best, formula is good enough". The underlying message in that is that we can't always have what's best, but what's good enough is, well, it's good enough!

Breast is best, yes .... but it's just normal. Formula is not best, and it's only normal in cultures where breasts are sexualised and images of bottle feeding are plastered everywhere, from feeding rooms to children's books, soap operas, ads for formula but not breastfeeding etc. The symbol for baby is often a bottle! If that doesn't normalise it I don't know what does.

There will always be women who are unable to breast feed, but these women should feel no guilt. I don't feel guilt for not successfully feeding my first child, and it wasn't a physical hinderance, it was a societal lack of support that broke the back of our feeding relationship.  I don't feel guilty about it and I would never want another woman to feel guilty either. 

I'm a bit tired of the whole "don't say this or that because it might make women feel guilty" stuff that permeates every discussion about breast vs artificial milk. If you genuinely can't breast feed why feel guilty? Do you feel guilty for not being able to run fast!? 

If you can breast feed but choose not to, and you feel guilt, then maybe you should take a closer look at why you would "choose" not to breast feed. Do better next time, but don't waste time with guilt once you have thought it all through. 

I resent being called a nazi. I've never killed anyone, but artificial baby milk companies are responsible for deaths every day! I simply state the truth. That given support, the vast and overwhelming majority of women in the world can and do breastfeed perfectly well.

So next time you see me posting on facebook, or on my blog, about how women can breastfeed don't label me a nazi, because that's just offensive. Have a look at your beliefs about baby feeding, about your own body and ability to do what you are biologically designed for. 

Have a look at the way your culture has made breast feeding seem like some virtually unattainable goal.  I'm not better because I breast feed, I'm just normal. You're not worse because you formula feed, but chances are that your view of baby feeding is somewhat different to reality if you think it's simply a "choice".

Monday, June 20, 2011

Winter is Upon Us in Antarctica!

So Winter has arrived, and for all I was expecting it to be horrendous, I'm actually really enjoying it! Yes, it's cold, but we have heating here! We didn't have heating in Sydney because it was too expensive to run, so we really only used it when we absolutely had to. We used heating for two nights last Winter, one of those was when I was in labour with Angus. The wood fire heater here makes us toasty warm! Everywhere in the house is comfortable (except the rumpus room which isn't insulated)

Our firewood finally arrived! After four months of ringing them and telling them that they owed us three tonnes of firewood (we won it in a raffle for the QLD floods, way back in January). After four months of the most tireless excuse making I've ever encountered (protesters were inhibiting their ability to get it here, their machinery had broken down, they lost our phone number - countless times - they had our address wrong, they couldn't remember how much wood it was meant to be ... you get the drift?) So I rang them for the last time and, as usual, was polite but assertive, and the next day a huge truck appeared on the street with full logs! The wood was meant to be all cut up, ready to use, but what were we going to do, send them away? So they dumped it in the drive way and across the foot path and at long last we had a good top us to our supply! They were meant to being 3 tonnes, but in actual fact what they left was closer to 5 or 6. We had to buy a chain saw. A spent 3 whole days sawing, and then chopping with an axe, and Stylish and I took it in turns to help him hauling it up the driveway, across the yard to the wood pile. Back breaking work! 

I plucked a good harvest of rose hips and made apple and rose hip jelly. It's delicious on sour dough toast, and I have about a litre of it so it won't run out any time soon. We've been doing lots of good cooking, my favourite thing we've discovered is a chicken baked risotto with marinated capsicum, and butter beans. 

Yesterday was Stylish's birthday, she is now officially a teenager! We gave her a new bike and took her out for dinner to the Chinese restaurant in Huonville. We had a lovely day all round! And ate lots of disgustingly rich chocolate, mousse, and raspberry cake.

Farewell Ra

When Ra was a young cat our neighbour came and knocked on the door to tell me that she'd just seen him run over. I sat in the middle of the road with him cradled in my arms as he took his last breath and bled all over me. A had a sprained ankle at the time and he stood on one leg in the small back yard of our block of flats in Stanmore, Sydney, and dug a deep hole. We wrapped Ra up in a lovely shawl and buried him. We all cried lots.
After the burial we were standing in the kitchen, me, Stylish and A (no one else was around then) and we were all crying when all of a sudden ... Ra walked along the window sill and jumped into the kitchen.

We checked the hole ... no disturbance.

We discovered that we had actually buried the wrong cat! Ra was a pretty ordinary nondescript tabby cat! We laughed lots about that over the years, and a friend who is a teacher told her drama class about it and they did a play of the story.

However, we didn't laugh last week when we really did bury our little middle aged cat.  He started getting thinner, and a bit moth eaten, he went off his food, and within days he pretty much wasted away to nothing. We took him to the vet who basically said that he was too far gone to warrant testing. She said to take him home and keep him comfortable. The two conditions she suspected were both untreatable anyway.

We brought him home and he had a quiet  last week with us until one morning he just died in our dining room. A and Stylish were with him. He's buried next to the hothouse where he spent many hours in his cat style day spa.