It’s not a titty show

As a woman who is breastfeeding, the question of breastfeeding in public has come up more than once.  People ask me if I do it, if I would do it, if I will do it, and if I’m okay doing it.  The answers are yes, yes, yes and yes.  I’ve fed my baby in other people’s homes, on park benches, in restaurants and at the mall.  I never thought twice about it.

But as I was writing my last post and trashing Giselle Bundchen, I came across this richness from Kim Kardashian.

Apparently, Kimmy K thinks it’s gross for a woman to breastfeed her child in public without covering her breasts.

Really, Kim?  REALLY???

Apparently, feeding a child from your breast – that is, using your breasts to complete the task for which they were intended – is gross.  Heaven forbid anyone should see your breasts!  What will people think?  “Look at that woman FEEDING HER CHILD.  Nasty!”

But of course, flashing your breasts here, there and everywhere to make a buck – as Kim K does every single day in magazines, on the red carpet, and on her television show, is perfectly acceptable.

Seriously, Kim.  Shove a tube of lube in it.

But this got me thinking about breastfeeding in a larger context.  Because though Kimmy K was a total boob for making this statement (oh yes I did!), we all know she’s not the only one who feels that way.  The world is full of people – my own father included – who think that while there’s no problem with a woman breastfeeding her child, there is a problem with her doing it in public, uncovered, breasts exposed for all to see.

When it came to my attention that there were those close to me who were uncomfortable with me breastfeeding in public, I had a conversation with Stu about it.  And he summed it up quite nicely: “What’s the big deal?  It’s not a titty show!  You’re feeding your child!”

But off course, there are people who can only see it as a titty show.  Because we live in a culture where breasts have been so heavily sexualized (KIMMY) that there is no other way to see them except as sexual extensions to a woman’s body.  We never consider the real reason women have breasts – that is, to feed children.  We live in a world where breasts are used to titillate, tantalize, arouse, excite, entertain, tease and thrill.  Where breasts are lifted, tucked, enlarged and adorned to entertain men – and women – and of course, to make a buck.  We don’t think twice about breasts displayed on the covers of magazines, in videos perused online, hanging out of dresses at banquets, galas and weddings, or splashed up – enlarged and in charge, on billboards like these:

What do you really think this ad is trying to sell?

So now we’ve come to this: A woman feeds a child from her breast, and the woman who makes money flashing her breasts for all the world to see complains about it.

I won’t lie – I’ll dress the girls up for a night on the town.  I’ll push the girls up and bring my neckline down and enjoy being a woman.  But enjoying them doesn’t mean dismissing the reason for their existence in the first place.  Enjoying them doesn’t mean harshing on someone else for dressing them down, and using them functionally.  AND, KIMMY K, USING YOURS TO MAKE MONEY ELIMINATES YOUR RIGHT TO TRASH ON SOMEONE FOR FEEDING HER CHILD.  If you don’t like it, look away.  But keep your trap shut.

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Failing

Giselle Bundchen is such a bitch.  Not because she’s tall and thin and rich and beautiful.  (And really, that last one is debatable.  Stu – smart, smart man that he is – said Giselle is way too skinny.  Yay, Stu!!  Good husband.)

No, this week, Giselle got her name in my bitch book because of something she said two years ago.  Remember this?

According to Giselle, any woman who gives her baby formula, for whatever reason, is basically poisoning her kid and breaking the law of the universe that says one boob fits all.  So to speak.

It was a bitchy thing to say, and her lame backtracking was just as bad, but I didn’t really dwell on it until this week.  This week, it hit home hard.  And I decided that Giselle needs to shut up all over again.

Really though, it’s not Giselle I’m mad at.  It’s me.

Amira was doing all good until a month ago.  We went to the doctor, got her all shot up with her vaccinations, and had her weighed.  She came in at the 3rd percentile for weight.  That’s right.  Not 30th.  3rd.  So the doctor said she needs to gain weight faster, and that I should feed, feed, feed her and bring her back in a month for another weigh-in.  It’s like Weight Watchers for babies, but the scale should be going up, not down.

So over the course of the month, I feed Amira as I always have – whenever she asks for it, and as much as she wants (or so I thought), and I think we’re doing okay.  I notice that I don’t have as much breast milk as I used to, but the internet machine tells me that my body has just adapted to Amira’s needs, and doesn’t need to make more than that.  And during this time, Amira’s getting fussier, and I wonder if she’s teething.

We go back to the doctor a couple of days ago, where we find out that Amira has fallen below the 3rd percentile for weight.  It’s not that she didn’t gain any weight, she just didn’t gain enough.  The doctor asked me if Amira has been fussy.

Me: Yeah, I think she’s teething.

Doc: No, she’s hungry.

She may as well have just ripped my heart out of my chest right then and there.  She’s hungry.  So all this fussing has been because I haven’t been producing enough milk to keep her full.  I could have just died.

The doctor suggested I try herbal supplements before turning to a prescription to increase my milk supply.  She suggested I use the breast milk I pumped and stored in the freezer to top up my baby after each feeding.  Those precious drops of liquid gold that I’ve been saving in case of an emergency.  Well, this is an emergency.

She suggested I consider supplementing with formula, and indicated that if I run out of frozen breast milk, and my supply doesn’t increase, that’s what I’ll have to do.  And that’s when Giselle’s comments came back to me.

Bitch.

I’ve done everything I can to keep Amira fed naturally.  I’ve gotten up countless times in the middle of the night.  I’ve fed her in our home and others, in restaurants and on park benches.  I got up in the middle of the night to pump excess milk so I would have a stockpile in the freezer.  I’ve resisted giving her formula – even when others told me it would help her sleep longer through the night – because I’m her mother.  Feeding her is my job.  It’s the most natural thing in the world.  I know lots of women have trouble breastfeeding, or choose not to for their own reasons.  But this was never a choice for me.  Even in the throes of my pregnancy, when I was most apathetic about it, still, I knew I would breastfeed her.  Because I’m her mother, and that’s my job.

And now I’m failing.

I’m failing at the most natural thing in the world.  At the thing all mothers in the animal kingdom do for their children.  I can’t just feed my daughter the way I’m supposed to. Now it’s “take these herbs” and “pump at this time” and “top up after this feeding” and maybe give her the formula.

Oh, the formula.  I don’t want to.  I’ll fight it tooth and nail.  But if I have to, I have to.  What can I do?  Maybe Giselle can come over and fix all my breastfeeding woes so that Amira will eat with no problem the way Giselle’s son apparently did.

I’m not here to judge what other women do with their children.  We’re all doing the best we can.  Besides, I’m way too busy judging myself.  And worrying about how Giselle and her friends are judging me.  And wishing she had just kept her tall, thin, rich, beautiful, bitchy trap shut.