Everyone’s talking about the Time cover for this week, with its photograph of a mother nursing her three-year-old son. I think it’s a brilliant, smart photo. The photographer says that he meant to reference images of Jesus and Mary, but frankly, even before I read that, I immediately thought of the many classic nursing Madonna paintings–something like this or this. People have complained that the mother’s prominent nipple, visible underneath her shirt, sexualize the image, but it’s simply the case that a woman’s nipples become more prominent during pregnancy and nursing, so showing the biological norm is fabulous and attempts to reclaim nipples for their purpose (feeding and comforting children) rather than merely as a sexual prop. The mother’s suggested lack of a bra also references the 1970s feminist movement and thereby positions attachment parenting and full-term breastfeeding as heirs to that movement rather than as opponents of it. Brilliantly done.
Recently I read Let’s Panic About Babies, mostly because it was c0-authored by a fellow alum. It’s cute–not 200+ pages cute, but cute and amusing for about 10 pages, or a very quick skim. Then I read this post in the NYTimes Motherlode blog, about another parodic parenting book. I didn’t know parenting book parodies were a “thing” lately, but I suppose they are. I must be in a very Zen state of motherhood lately myself, though (at least according to a certain friend of mine), because the basic idea of these books doesn’t appeal to me at all–the second time around, especially, I’m seeing all the good and none of the bad in parenthood. Read these parodies at your own risk–they may induce feelings of bitternes, or they may make you wonder where the authors are coming from.
Huh. . . could having a new baby be keeping me a tad busy? Perhaps. Kid No. 1 is asleep in my bed as I type–we still co-sleep for most/all of the night, but he weaned himself completely (hasn’t even asked to nurse in two weeks, hasn’t latched in two months), very very gently. Kid No. 2 (said baby) is asleep on my chest on the couch, skin to skin, while I type with one arm over her and one arm under. I get to read more than write, these days–it’s a bit easier on an iPhone. Some quick links related to birth:
- “Workouts May Not Be the Best Time for a Snack” (NYTimes)–discusses eating during marathons, etc. Since labor is often compared to a marathon, but since eating during labor has been shown to be better than not eating, this was interesting and thought-provoking to read. I’m not sure how far to take these parallels, though–I’d say that listening to one’s body is probably the ultimate answer.
- “Do Men Abuse Parental Leave?” (WSJ)–analyzes men’s actions during parental leave (specifically in academia). I happen to be on parental (maternity, obviously) leave from an academic appointment at the moment, and I definitely have been getting some pressure (both from men and from women who seem to have no idea what early motherhood is like) to “be more productive” and “just get things done” related to my research. But you know, this semester isn’t about my research. It’s about my baby. Productive, too, no?
- “17,000,000 Weeping Pregnant Women Can’t Be Wrong” (Slate–where else, with a title like that?)–offers a critical view of a mainstream pregnancy book in the mainstream press. Since, depending on the mama-crowd you run with, What to Expect When You’re Expecting is either reviled or deified, this article is very much worth reading.
- “Cesarean Nation” (Slate again)–reports on the out-of-control c-section rate in China. Very interesting article–it speculates that problems will only start arising once the one-child policy is repealed.
Big year (so far!) for midwives in MA!
The CDC home birth review has good, clear findings on midwife-attended home births, and is co-authored by an MA/Boston scholar and midwife advocate.
And CNMs in MA no longer must practice under a doctor–wow!
I love Phyllis Chesler, feminist, professor, writer, psychologist, scholar, and poet-on-birth extraordinaire (just dip into With Child: A Diary of Motherhood if in doubt on that last point). On her website two months ago–but sadly I’m just seeing it now–she published an amazing review of the brand-new Museum of Motherhood that opened in September in Manhattan. She discusses her own journey to motherhood, her books on the subject, her interview with the museum’s founder, and her fervent hope that this museum manages to get the funding it needs and stay open.
What a great book! It’s academic, for sure, and not for the casual reader, but it’s a great, perceptive look at so many issues surrounding breastfeeding in our culture. Hausman considers the famous pro-breastfeeding ad campaign of a few years ago, which focused on the risks of not breasftfeeding rather than the advantages of breastfeeding, and which garnered such a critical response; she addresses the way that breastfeeding features in media reports about AIDS and West Nile virus; and she offers perceptive, feminist-based criticism of how our society in general marginalizes breastfeeding because it is actually threatening to what she identifies as our underlying cultural values. Really just a smart, thoughtful, and interesting read!
By the time I was 36 weeks pregnant and my son was three years and three months old, Marcus seemed to have forgotten entirely how to latch and suck. He still asked to wa-wa every couple days, but he just couldn’t figure it out. Stubborn little boy, though–when asked, he said yes, he’s still drinking milk there, even though I knew he wasn’t.
My husband had recently started teasing/nagging him about nursing, in part because Marcus said, looking at a picture from Halloween, “That’s my friend G——–. He likes milk.”
Robert asked, “Really? Don’t you like milk?”
Marcus said, “No, I like water, but I get milk from Mommy’s wa-was, and I like that milk.”
Then a couple weeks later my husband was trying to convince Marcus to eat a pudding-like dessert, and he said, “Here, this tastes like milk–like Mommy’s milk,” in an attempt to sell it to him.
Marcus looked at him skeptically, then ran over to me, climbed into my lap, asked to nurse, “latched” on (not really, though), and then popped off and said, “Nope! Mommy’s milk is better!”
My husband rolled his eyes and threw in the towel. He claims I’ve “spoiled” our son for “regular” milk.
So, this is all to say that while Marcus might no longer really be nursing–as in actually getting milk at the breast–he is still very attached to the idea of it.