Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Am I Immodest?

So I'm breatfeeding the Bug. Breast is best and all that. Also, frankly, it is cheaper. I have the time and luxury to do it, so I am. I'm not a fanatic about it, though. I understand that there as many reasons not to as there are families who elect to feed their babies formula. Furthermore, it really isn't my business why another woman makes the choices she makes regarding her own body or her own family. (I won't go into this too much, since Ph.D. in Parenting already did it better than I ever could here.) (See, I told you I was a feminist.)

So I nurse in public. My choice is that or stay at home except when someone else can travel with me until the Bug is between 6 and 9 months old. Like many babies, she refuses to take a bottle from me. I try to use a nursing cover, not so much as an issue of my own modesty, but for the comfort of those around me. Our nursing cover is patterned though, and the Bug decides sometimes that playing with the walls is more fun than eating in her tent. I've nursed at the Y, at the yarn shop, in my car in parking lots, and at the doctor's office.

Last week, we were out running errands. The last thing on the list was the Y, and we rolled in just as she was getting hungry. Usually, when I nurse her there, I take her to one of the rocking chairs in the infant area, but this day, it was before the child care opened for the afternoon, so I took her to a bench near the child care in a hallway really only frequented by Y staff and parents taking children to activities or child care. I got comfy, changed the Bug's diaper, and started nursing her. We started with the nursing cover, but instead of eat, she just played with it. Since I wanted her to eat, I finally gave up, and stuffed the cover back in the bag.

There is a trick to nursing in public with out a cover, and I'm pretty good at it. Simply put, I wear 2 shirts, one that I pull up, and a lower layer that I can pull down. To a casual observer, between the shirts and the baby, less of me is visible than if I wear my favourite beach bikini. That's what I did. The Bug was happy, the few people who passed by largely ignored us.

But, within the same several minutes, I got two comments. One was "awww, isn't that sweet," from one of the supervisors, and the other was "you should really use a cover, a lot of men come down this hallway," from one of the child care staff. My response, as it is to most criticism of my personal quirks, was "if they have a problem with it, that's their problem, not mine." To which the woman said, "well, it's just an issue of modesty." Her tone was along the lines of the lone teetotaler at an Irish wake.

I don't think it is an issue of modesty at all. I think it is an issue of prudishness. If my baby needs to eat, I'm going to feed her. My body, through my breasts, is how I feed her for the moment. When she's older, I won't be embarrassed to give her a ham sandwich in public, will I? Indeed, aside from being rather proud of how well breastfeeding is going, I think I'm being quite modest. Furthermore, breasts aren't dirty. I can even say "nipple" on TV, even if I can't show one there. Our culture has simply hyper-sexualized women so much that it is impossible for some people to see breasts as anything but sexual.

Later, when the same woman came to fetch me out of the hot tub to console my crying daughter, she had an entire conversation with me while I was in my bathing suit. In this case, I was the uncomfortable one.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Separation Anxiety

The Bug is in the advanced class. She may not roll over as consistently as I might like, but on one developmental milestone, she's at least 2 months ahead.

Because all the books, the baby doctor, and all the websites agree that separation anxiety doesn't set in until around 6 months of age. See: here, and here, and here. My little girl, however, is advanced. At 4 months old, I can leave her with the child care at the YMCA for less than 30 min before she completely melts down and they have to come get me. For a while, she refused any way of eating except nursing.

This is exhausting for me. At a recent family party, she wasn't willing to be held by DH's aunts if she couldn't see me. I suddenly have pity for my sofa, as I am constantly her favourite place to sit, and I would sell the dog for the ability to go 15 freakin' minutes without being touched. (DH finds that last bit charming and exciting, I'm sure.)

I hope this is just a phase, and I hope I'm able to have some personal space before she goes to college. Because I'm so not letting her sleep in the Sleepy Wrap between classes.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


So I despise insipid music intended for children. The tinny, tiny voices of supposedly adorable kids or the faux-classical music constructed of bastardized Mozart and Beethoven makes me want to stab myself in the head. I'm all for singing nursery rhymes and lullabies but I also think that the Bug can handle any music, and can handle the "real thing" when it comes to classical music.

I'm not going to play gangsta rap for her, but when I play Mozart for her, it is from a CD of Mozart symphonies, not a cheery, synthesized version. The Baby Beethoven DVD we got as a gift is going back. I'll buy a book with the store credit. (Dudes, seriously, what is up with the creepy march of the puppets? I might not sleep again. And why is that teddy bear wearing a rubber suit?)

I think hearing "real" music is just as educational if not more so than playing fake children's songs for her. I also sing "the itsy-bitsy spider," but that's part of play, not forming her musical tastes. I'm a bit put out with the baby books that make classical music sound like brocoli, that is good for you but unpleasant. (I also like the green stuff, though, so I'm a bit odd.)

Since I don't actually know any lullabies, but have a head full of protestant hymnody, the other day to calm her down, I did an impromptu hymn sing after her immunizations. Don't knock it, it worked.

More to the point, thought, is that I think kids are capable of handling more art than we give them credit for. I'm not saying I'm going to take her to a performance of Pierrot Lunaire, Eight Songs for a Mad King, or a death metal concert. What I am saying, however, is that I can play her real music and it will help her develop just as much as the cheesy stuff.