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LFCA Latest Issue: Friday, September 25, 2009.

Latest Post on BlogHer: Parenting after Infertility.

My Status: Fed Josh's almonds to the squirrels. They needed them very badly.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The 61st Circle Time: The Show and Tell Weekly Thread

Show and Tell is wasted on elementary schoolers. Join several dozen bloggers weekly to show off an item, tell a story, and get the attention of the class. In other words, this is Show and Tell 2.0. Everyone is welcome to join, even if you have never posted before and just found out about Show and Tell for the first time today. So yank out a photo of the worst bridesmaid's dress you ever wore and tell us the story; show off the homemade soup you cooked last night; or tell us all about the scarf you made for your first knitting project. Details on how to participate are located at the bottom of this post.

Let's begin.

A soapbox-y Show and Tell?

Last Friday, Lindsay came over with produce from the organic market and we made cubes and cubes of homemade baby food. I said it was to help her and because I am the one with the neater freezer, but it was really for me. There, I admitted it. I loved making baby food for the twins and it was nice to have a reason to take down the 30 ice cube trays. Making baby food was a really important parenting step for me because it took back all the feelings I had on my inability to breastfeed that came on the heels of my inability to create a baby without assistance and then my inability to carry to term.

Baby food making bears a striking resemblance to breast feeding--it is a pain-in-the-hands if not a pain-in-the-nipple. It takes up a lot of time, requires the same amount of clean-up as using a pump, and is considered "healthier" (quotation marks because healthier is a relative term). It was less expensive, tailored to the twins, and required a huge commitment. The place where it differed was that baby food making didn't require my body to produce certain hormones in certain levels. Oh, and that Josh could participate too. You know, that whole lack of prolactin thing sort of screws him too in the breastfeeding department.

As we cooked, Lindsay told me the story about someone whose handle was Lactivist who started harassing her online about not breastfeeding, not knowing Lindsay's story at all except that she was using formula. It's interesting because I think that there are two main types of activism--one that is meant to forward information and understanding and the other which is used to berate.

I'm all for lactivists who want to take back the boob--make it also a body part that is used for feeding rather than a sexual object. Ensure that women can nurse in public, that women who wish to breastfeed have the support they need, and that funding goes towards breast milk research. What I'm not for are lactivists who tell others what they should or shouldn't do. The fact remains that there are many reasons why it would be better to not breastfeed or impossible to breastfeed, and that a person refraining from breastfeeding isn't a statement on another person's choice to breastfeed.

Breastfeeding, like so many aspects of life, is not one-size-fits-all. It can be the best option or it could be the second best option when weighed against other information. And no one should be disregarding their mental and physical health nor the mental and physical health of their child in the quest to fulfill a vision of nutritional perfection. I am pro-breastfeeding when breastfeeding is possible and desired. And I will be your biggest cheerleader if you want to try it. And I am incredibly impressed when people work through obstacles because they want to work through obstacles (not because they feel guilty if they don't) and find their breastfeeding groove. But I'm also pro-baby food making if you can't or don't want to breastfeed. Or pro-finding-whatever-works-for-you.

Stepping down from the soapbox because I was upset to hear what was said to her in the name of immunological health.

What are you showing today?

Click here or scroll down to the bottom of this post if this is your first time joining along (Important: link to the permalink for the post, not the main url for your blog and use your blog's name, not your name. Links not going to a Show and Tell post will be deleted). The list is open from now until late Friday night and a new one is posted every week.

Other People Standing at the Head of the Class:

1. Kate (Bee In The Bonnet)
2. Weebles Wobblog
3. Not A Fertile Myrtle
4. Building Heavenly Bridges
5. Bear and Comedian
6. Delenn
7. Baby Making Journey
8. An Unwanted Path
9. Dragondreamer's Lair
10. Are You Kidding Me?
11. Hobbit- ish Thoughts & Ramblings
12. MLOKnitting
13. Run... Fat Girl... Run
14. Our Family Beginnings
15. sassy
16. Conception Deception
17. The Happy Hours
18. Jen
19. Once A Mother
20. Caitsmom
21. Journey through the infertility jungle
22. Cyster A.C. T.
23. Beautiful Mess
24. Pundelina Kafoops
25. In Due Time
26. Baby- Wanted- Apply- Within
27. A. M. S.

Want to bring something to Show and Tell?
  • If you would like to join circle time and show something to the class, simply post each Wednesday night (or any time between Wednesday morning and Friday night), hopefully including a picture if possible, and telling us about your item. It can be anything--a photo from a trip, a picture of the dress you bought this week, a random image from an old yearbook showing a person you miss. It doesn't need to contain a picture if you can't get a picture--you can simply tell a story about a single item. The list opens every Wednesday night and closes on Friday night.
  • You must mention Show and Tell and include a link back to this post in your post so people can find the rest of the class. This spreads new readership around through the list. This is now required.
  • Label your post "Show and Tell" each week and then come back here and add the permalink for the post via the Mr. Linky feature (not your blog's main url--use the permalink for your specific Show and Tell post).
  • Oh, and then the point is that you click through all of your classmates and see what they are showing this week. And everyone loves a good "ooooh" and "aaaah" and to be queen (or king) of the playground for five minutes so leave them a comment if you can.
  • Did you post a link and now it's missing?: I reserve the right to delete any links that are not leading to a Show and Tell post or are the blogging equivalent of a spitball.


kate said...

I watched twice while a dear friend of mine struggled to breastfeed- pumping and pumping and pumping, hoping that her body would finally cooperate and just make some dang milk! It never worked for her, and I know how heartbroken she was that it never did. She was like my own personal lesson in how not to treat someone who doesn't do things the "right" way. She was always so hurt by the people who ignorantly judged her for not breastfeeding, and even more hurt by some of the more militant lactivist types who dared to suggest that she just didn't try hard enough before giving up.

Anyway, seeing her struggle through all of this (back when we were in our early 20s) ended up being such a valuable experience for me- and every time I feel myself even beginning to judge someone else's parenting choice, I just have to think of my friend, and I suddenly feel a lot less like it's any of my damn business. And I wish the rest of the world could get on board with that mindset, too. There'd be a lot less hurt if that were the case.

Anyhow, that's what your post made me think of. I always wonder what kind of parent I'll be. I know how I *think* I'll be (and I think I would be someone who would enjoy making my own baby food), but I also know enough to know that until it actually happens, you have no real idea of how you'll end up feeling. So yeah.

kate said...

er, and by "twice", I mean with each of her two children, she tried to breastfeed. I don't mean that she tried twice to breastfeed ever in her life... geez, Kate- say what you mean!

Cara said...

What a powerful show and tell -- and a topic that needs much discussing, with backstory of course.

I made all my babyfood too, although at the time I wasn't hip on the organic factor. Still, hoping it was a healthy start for them!

Delenn said...

Nice Show & Tell. I wish you could have made me baby food! :-) I am lazy, otherwise I would have done that. I got as far as looking into it. Same with cloth diapers. I guess I am either too old or too lazy. I was also "lazy" when it came to breastfeeding. I did it. I did not get this Happy Bonding feeling, but felt that it was important to do. To a point. For example, my son wanted to nurse every 1/2 hour (!!). Needless to say, formula was used to supplement.

The good news, I know that there are many ways to parent/nourish children, and my way works just as well as others. And I hate when people cannot understand that and try to force their ways onto others.

LJ said...

I still need to put up my S&T for this week, but as the inspiration for this week's post, I wanted to weigh in. I'm with Mel (shocking, I know) on this. I think that Maggie Gyllenhaal whippin' out a tit because Ramona is hungry is freaking awesome. Baby needs food, mom has solution for that need. Whether on the Metro or at a park, breasts should not be considered dirty or shameful. What's not okay, imho, is when someone feels shame for not breastfeeding.

Really, no one can say for certain that there is any true discernible difference in the health of a breast or bottle fed kid. Seriously, show me whatever stats you want, I'll put up my own, it's not the fight I'm trying to pick. So why do we women try to one up one another and feel the need to shun or scorn those who can't or *shudder* don't want to breastfeed?

This particular woman was trying to gain some points for whatever it was she was doing, and that's all well and good. But when I reply "Would you say that to someone with a mastectomy or who had just adopted?" Don't tell me that women can still breastfeed with the good breast or that "no one adopts with no notice". Really? Because that makes you full of shit and cruel, considering I had about 24 hours notice before my son was born.

An interesting thing I've seen as well. It goes along with my utter confusion when people who are anti-choice are also pro-death penalty. While plenty do not follow this, there are a ton of women who are the more radical form of "lactivist" who are also pro-choice. So the government shouldn't interfere with your body, but you think it's your moral obligation to butt into mine? Just one of those things that went through my head when my little friend went on her rampage.

Assuming we are rational and compassionate women and men here (I mean, I know you have to be to not be firebombing my house so far), my theory is, we do the best we can with the information we have. Sometimes it means cloth diapering. Others may choose to live child-free. What's not cool is when we judge others to the extent that we create barriers when we're working towards the same goal of acceptance and understanding. I may not make the same choices you do, but I'm happy to listen.

And now, I will step aside before I bring more flames upon Melissa's loverly blog and she never makes me babyfood again.

Lollipop Goldstein said...

Did you see how many ice cube trays we own? I will always make you baby food.

Lorza said...

Great post! I hope to think one day I can do the same!!! I am impressed. I agree wholeheartedly on your views on breast feeding. Sometimes women's bodies just won't make the milk- it is our job as women to support each other. NO MATTER THE CHOICE.

As I always say- nothing is ever black and white. Except in the crayola box.

Lorza said...

Great post! I hope to think one day I can do the same!!! I am impressed. I agree wholeheartedly on your views on breast feeding. Sometimes women's bodies just won't make the milk- it is our job as women to support each other. NO MATTER THE CHOICE.

As I always say- nothing is ever black and white. Except in the crayola box.

Another Dreamer said...

What an interesting post.

I think that many people would rather believe the world is black and white, rather than navigate the land of gray between every aspect of living. Such as the Lavtavist who made the snap judgment. It's sad, and it's petty, not to realize that you should get all the facts before making assumptions.

Kristin said...

I have friends who tried everything to be able to breastfeed and just were not able. I have no tolerance for the judgmental "activists". Great post Mel.

Sunny said...

The breastfeeding debate really makes my stomach turn. I worked my @$$ off to BF my son, because like you Mel, I felt like I had "failed" conception (needing injections w/ IUI) and "failed" delivery (needing a C-Section after 3 hours pushing). I wanted to prove that my body could work properly -- because my hormones were never an issue, so I knew it was technically possible for me to BF -- and after a month or so of supplementing with formula, I was finally able to exclusively breastfeed. Which was a good thing, because my son ALWAYS refused the baby food I made for him, so that wasn't a good alternative for us. The kid hated my cooking from the start, who can blame him. ;)

Anyway, I have heard some compelling things from lactivists, and I think it's a good thing some people are out there spreading the good qualities of breastmilk and advocating for the right to BF in public. And honestly, I think sometimes (only SOMETIMES!!!!!) some women get offended with what a lactivists says because they are reacting to their own guilt over not BFing, and not necessarily to the facts being presented for the benefit of moms-to-be who are still trying to make the decision. (I don't think they SHOULD feel guilty, but some do anyway.)

HOWEVER, I have definitely seen When Lactivists Attack, and I think it's sick. I really don't care how you feed your baby, as long as you are feeding him/her. It's none of my business, there are a zillion choices we have to make as mothers, and this is just one of them. We live in the Real World, not an Ideal World, and I fully respect that BFing does not work for everyone. There are SOOOO many factors that go into the development of a child, and breastmilk or formula is just one of them. My brother and I were 100% formula babies, and we both turned out just fine. Hubby and siblings were all breastfed for 2 years, and they certainly are not superhumans. (Lovely as they are, of course.)

Sorry, I hope I didn't go overboard there. :)

Lavender Luz said...

Of course, I love this post, too. I think the loss of the ability to bf was right up their with the other losses in terms of magnitude of ache.

If someone had berated me about giving my children formula, I'm not sure what I'd have done.

I sure would have wanted you in my corner, though.

Mrs. Gamgee said...

Fabulous post Mel! I hope that if and when I have the opportunity I will make my own baby food. I know that I may have a battle on my hands with my MIL if I choose to use formula, but it will be my choice.

battynurse said...

Great post. The baby food looks great. I also agree that it's really sad when others push their beliefs or preferences about BF'ing on others. We don't know everyones circumstances and to judge them based on ours is just wrong.

Chickenpig said...

I say "amen" to everything Mel just said. I breastfed my twins from the beginning because I was lucky enough to carry them full term. It took a long time for my milk to come in, though, and with two screaming babies it was necessary for my husband to pick up a 2 am feeding for my health and sanity, so I supplemented with formula. And I got crap for that from some people. Breastfeeding two babies as exclusively as I could, being basically naked from the waist up for 4 months wasn't enough? *sigh*

I have to applaud Mel for her baby food efforts. I'm sorry, Mel, but making food for twins is a LOT harder than breastfeeding...I just whipped out a boob. I wasn't even good at mixing formula, I wasn't going to get anywhere near a blender. My kids eat jar food, organic jar food, but jar food none the less, and I'm not a bit there! ;) But if you're interested in making food for my 11 month old, Mel, I'll take it any time! Maybe you could write a cook book next? Or start up your own food company?

VintageMommy said...

As an adoptive mom I didn't breastfeed my daughter, and I didn't make her baby food either - eeps! Sounds like a lot more fun with a friend.

She did love mushed up yams and I have a picture to prove it - hmmm, maybe that's my show and tell this week!

Jen said...

great post. my kids are past that stage (now they don't want me cooking for them) but I loved making baby food.

Lucy said...

A great book about the politics of breastfeeding:

Dr. Bernice Hausman was my graduate advisor, and I really just admire her. My first, and best class with her was Representing the Female Body, where we examined all sorts of things related to how culture and society view the female body, including pregnancy, infertility, breast cancer, breastfeeding, annual gyn exams, beauty, Barbies, and so much more. It was a really great course and taught me so much.

In case you or anyone else is interested, here's a book she wrote--with lots of depth on your opinions above, exactly! It's feminist to breastfeed, or not, depending on your situation and what works best for you and your baby, and nothing should be pushed otherwise.

SS said...

Amen Mel! I went through hell trying to breastfeed. And felt like a total failure for months (don't even know the number of times I goodled "breastfeeding and guilt") because it didn't work out. It was yet another way I failed- failed at conceiving on my own, failed at delivering (had a c-section) and now I couldn't feed my baby. Constant low supply despite pupming or feeding every two hours. I am not sure I ever produced more than 10 ounces in a 24-hour period. Thrush. Followed by nipple confusion! Later learned that my son just didn't like sucking for food all that much. We went through three types of bottles with him and never got him to eat consistently without a struggle. Ugh, I think back on the whole experience and shudder. And then wonder guiltily if I didn't try enough to make it work out! At 6 weeks it became a moot point when my RA flared up and I had to start back on my meds - chose holding my child over giving him small amounts of my breast milk. returning that pump was the happiest day of my life. I wish I had read this before I'd had the baby: I'm not against breastfeeding but there are so many things to consider, and one of them is that breastfeeding is a choice (one I tried to make!) and not an obligation.

sassy said...

I did it... caved??? and joined... (;

I agree with you about being a breast-nazi. I think it is so important, as with nearly every matter of infertility and childraising to let the parents feel out what's right for them.

caitsmom said...

I wasn't able to breast feed. I'm irritated that others judge a mother for doing the best she can. Peace.

Io said...

I am super impressed by how many ice cube trays you own. And trying to figure out how they all fit in your freezer.
It makes me so sad when people miss the point. Breastfeeding is great, I hope I can do it, etc, but geeze. Formula-shaming? Do people think that gets results?

Flying Monkeys said...

I forgot to make a comment *blush*. I eeked out partial feedings for 9 months. My 2 yo was a 28 weeker so I could provide the bulk of his meals for a while but then he out ate what I produced. I ate and drank every weed tasting concoction that promised increased supply and only got diarrhea, yet people still asked if I really gave it the college try. As if I didn't already feel broken enough for not being able to 'relax and just have sex' to get pregnant, thanks. I sobbed and sobbed when I turned in the pump only to go back and get it the next day and stick it out another 2 months. We were all happier when I handed it off. The time, the stress, the despair over watching my supply get lower and lower, I was missing out on enjoying the experience.
I didn't make homemade baby food but good for those of you ambitious enough too!

mandolyn said...

Just had an a-ha moment. I think was so completely into making baby food for my Bean because of my inability to breastfeed and general infertility issues. Hmm. Of course I felt great about feeding her good stuff and saving money, but I get now that it was also helping me cope with feeling like a failure as a woman. Wow.

Rockin' insight, Mel. Thanks. :)

And also, my Bean is now 2 yrs old and I recently found a bag of sweet potato cubes in the back of my freezer.

Beautiful Mess said...

I couldn't agree with you more! I struggled with breastfeeding and often, felt judged for not working "harder".

I'm pro "whatever-you-want-to-to" too! It's all about having and giving support.

Pundelina said...

I was never as neat and organised with my baby mush - just made it day-to-day and envied the organised Mums with neat little baggies of labelled baby food!

I posted the wrong link in the links above, so here's the proper one...

luna said...

I wish I could come make baby food with you when the time comes!

as for the soapbox, amen sister. as someone who has struggled with all of it and has a complex for sure, thank you for saying this. in my effort to get just an ounce of breastmilk per day, I have to deal with pumping AND formula and drugs and herbs and cleaning all of it... and it's no one else's business unless I make it so!

luna said...

and to lindsay, right on. the nerve of that woman! bbeeeoottcchh.

cowboyboot lady said...

Homemade organic baby food! I love it! And it looks so organized..

Bea said...

I think the "would you say that to someone who'd adopted/had a mastectomy/etc etc" rule is a good one (think it was LJ herself?). There are facts about breastfeeding that should enter a fully informed decision - it does irritate me when people act as if it's a decision with absolutely no pros and cons, just "likes" and "dislikes". As if you were choosing between black sneakers and brown sneakers.

But a lot of the time it isn't about facts, it's about politics. And even when it is about facts, it lacks a hell of a lot in terms of perspective. So, generally, the "would you say that to someone who'd adopted (etc)" filter should set you about right... provided you're not an arse who would say cracked-out things to an adoptive parent, and really - what are the chances of finding someone like that?


bigmamacass said...

Sounds like fun! I wanted to try doing that but didn't have the time. I envy that you did it. Not making the baby food sort of makes me feel like a bad Mama.