Friday, June 18, 2010

Breastfeeding - The Fallout

It seems my last post had quite an impact, and not in the way I intended.  I have this blog setup so anyone can post a response, and yet only two responses were posted.  How many phone calls did my siblings get concerning their lack of support for me?  I don't know, but apparently enough.  Let me take this opportunity to make a few things abundantly clear.

I love my family.  This last post was in no way meant to criticize or hurt them.  It was not meant to cast the blame on my decision to wean on them.  I will wean when the time is right for my son and I, and not before.  It was meant as a commentary on the society we live in, and the social norms that constrain us.  My siblings are amazing people and amazing parents.  All you have to do is be around my nieces to know what a phenomenal job they are doing.  Apparently some of you want to know why they are against breastfeeding.  I have no idea how that interpretation came out of my previous blog.  They pull their children away because their children are confused, and thus have a multitude of questions concerning the differences in infant feeding choices.  And, as is apt to happen in young children, answering the question one time isn't sufficient.  They pull them away in an effort to reduce the questions, thus making life a little easier on themselves.  Seriously, can you blame them?  When was the last time you tried to reason with a young child?  Are they any more confused by this, than any other lifestyle choice?  I doubt it, but if you could remove the source of 20 questions, wouldn't you opt for a little peace? 

It is societal pressures I am addressing.  After all, if breastfeed were more socially prevalent, then I wouldn't be an oddity, and they'd probably have less questions, because it would seem more normal to them.  If I were simply trying to question societal pressures, why did I involve those I love?  It was quite innocent, I assure you.  We write about those things we know, and those experiences we have, and those experiences include the people we love.

So, please, do not take this as a criticism of my siblings parenting styles/choices, but more as a commentary on the society we live in, and the constraints and pressures it places on everyone.  And if you have thoughts, please respond to me before jumping to conclusions.

I have to be honest, I was unaware my blog was so widely read.  After this, I don't know if I should be flattered or afraid!

To my siblings, and family.  I love you, and I apologize for any negative fallout this has caused you.  I would never want to cause you any undue hardship or stress.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Breastfeeding - The Social Stigma

Before my son was born, I had already decided that if at all possible, I would breastfeed him.  I must admit that initially a large part of this decision was based on the cost savings, $1,160 to $3,915 per year, depending on the brand of formula purchased.  As I learned more about the benefits, however, I realized that even outside of the cost savings, I was completely sold on this feeding choice for my child.  Along with providing numerous health benefits for both mother and child, breastfeeding also saves on health care costs, contributes to a more productive workforce, and is better for the environment. Plus, plus, and plus . . . right?  So what's the downside to breastfeeding?  Social stigma.

Why is society so set against a mother feeding and nurturing her child in the way God designed her?  Am I for a woman exposing herself to the public in the name of breastfeeding?  No.  But, if a woman chooses to breastfeed her child in a discreet manner, why is this taboo?  Every mother should feed her child in a manner that is positive and right for her family and lifestyle, and if that's a bottle and formula for you that's OK, but for me, the only right choice was breastfeeding.

I'm currently being strongly encouraged by my own family to wean Aaron.  It doesn't matter that the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for at least 2 years, or that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least 1 year, "and as long thereafter as mutually desired . . ."  Aaron is just under 18 months, and the pressure is on to wean.  Honestly, though Aaron isn't keen on the idea, mommy is ready to have her body back, so weaning is on the horizon, but I don't like being pressured for all the wrong reasons to wean my child.  And why is the pressure on?  At least in part due to my nieces.

I have two bright, intelligent nieces, who have witnessed my breastfeeding Aaron.  Never has my chest been bared in doing this.  Never have I been lewd in my manner of feeding him, and yet, their parents now request they leave the room when I'm breastfeeding.  Why?  Because they began imitating life.  They began "nursing" their "babies."  They have been discouraged from this.  Why?  Why are we teaching our little girls that this is unacceptable play?  Why is it not OK for our little girls to imitate nursing, but it is completely acceptable for them to "bottle feed" their "babies"?  It's no wonder so many young mothers simply don't feel comfortable breastfeeding . . .  We're starting them off quite young with the understanding that it simply isn't acceptable.  And honestly, I find this unacceptable.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

May 2010 Vacation

It's been a week since our return, so finally I update you on our vacation . . .

We traveled approximately 1,400 miles to our destination - Lyonsdale, NY, where Ron grew up.  I had the pleasure of navigating this journey, and was rewarded with the experience of witnessing Ron continually being frustrated by the idiocy of his fellow drivers.  I have to admit that it was a bit annoying at times, as what appears to be most Americans apparently think the left hand lane is the travel lane.  Of course the driver that I remember best is the man who was driving while shaving . . . yes, shaving!

The first stop of our road trip was in Gadsden, AL at Noccalula Falls.  We didn't actually enter the park, but we did picnic under the pavilions and take a peek at the falls.  The real highlight of this stop came above the falls where the ducks were in the shallow waters.  We fed the ducks with Aaron.  I had never fed ducks either, but watching Aaron watching them; this was pure joy!

We then continued driving, and outside of stopping to eat or stretch, we did not stop until we reached Natural Bridge, VA.  It had been my intention to arrive much earlier in the day and tour the Natural Bridge, the Caverns, and the Native American Village, but we did not arrive until around 7:30 or 8 pm . . . well after the attractions were closed for the day.  We spent the night at the Natural Bridge Hotel in one of their cottage rooms.  The next morning, we chose to forgo the attractions in favor of an early start, and we left around 6:30 am.

Day two of our drive was pretty non-eventful.  We enjoyed the views as we traveled up I-81, and we made a few stops to stretch our legs and eat, but nothing special.  Then we reached the state of New York, where I came to a new navigational realization.  Now if you take road trips often, you probably already know the tidbit of info I'm about to share . . .  When traveling on the interstate, the exit number correspond with the mile markers.  This makes traveling really easy.  You can look at your directions off Google Map, and if you're at mile marker 3, you know you have about 3 miles to reach exit 6.  It's a really great system!  Unfortunately, it appears New York missed out on the memo outlining this system, which is why I missed Exit 6 in Binghamton, NY somewhere past mile marker 8!  Thankfully, I'm pretty decent with a map, so out came the road atlas, which I used to take a cross road at the next exit and get us back on route.  There was one other navigational snafu where Ron took us on an unintended detour, but nothing serious.  Then, just North of Utica, NY, we were pulled over . . . 77 in a 55 . . .  hey, it was 4 lane and down hill!  Thankfully, the officer was really nice, and Ron has a clean driving record.  The officer told us to be careful and slow down and sent us on our way.

We finally arrived at our hotel around 5:30 pm, and Aaron and I waited in the car while Ron ran in to secure a room.  We then drove on up to his parents' house, where Aaron and I met Ron's parents for the first time.

My FIL/MIL live in a small house tucked way back in the woods.  They are quite self sufficient, even generating their own power.  That's right, they don't have a power bill!  A small stream runs in front of their home.  It has been dammed off to form a pond, and the overflow has been directed into a water wheel, which generates power.  Seriously, how cool is that?  They also have deer come right up into their backyard to feed.

We spent a total of four days with his family, and I greatly enjoyed meeting all of them.  Ron and I have been married nearly 9 years, and this is the first time I've ever met my in-laws, but honestly, it felt as though I'd always known them.  Everyone was so welcoming to me, and it truly felt like going home. 

Here's Ron and Aaron with Ron's parents, Ronnie & Nancy:

Here are some other shots of family:

We also saw Lyons Falls . . . I love waterfalls!

On our way home we stopped in Pine Grove, PA and visited Sweet Arrow Lake, where we saw another waterfall and got pictures in front of the lake:

On the way home we spent a day in Washington, DC.  If traveling to DC, I suggest staying at a hotel near the Metro.  Then, you don't have to drive at all.  The way to travel in DC, is definitely the Metro, and I was actually pretty good at navigating it before the day was over.  I also suggest you allot more than one day to this city if you actually want to see very much.  We flew through two museums (barely skimming the surface) and then we took Aaron to the zoo.  He loved seeing all the different animals.  Here are just a couple of favorites.

Please see my album on Facebook for more vacation pics!