Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Whole Lotta Elephants in the Room : Breastfeeding Blues, in Public and in the Shadows

Hurry, hurry -- Thoughts, you are summoned to surface!

I am scared to even try to write one or two sentences on this thing right now, since I need sleep like a whale needs a blow hole. Wait a minute, that's not how it goes. Let's try this: I need sleep like a sleep-deprived breastfeeding mother needs sleep. Breastfeeding is one hell of a journey. It's freaking hard work. It's rewarding, ultimately, but it's not easy. It cannot be simulated, either. Sometimes we try to give kids a taste of what parenthood is like so they will run for the hills from it for a while (and use protection and be smart about sex). Sometimes we try to give those who aren't bearing a child an idea of what it is like by strapping a pillow around their middle for say 24-48 hours. See how heavy it is? How does your back feel? Now just imagine that for months on end. Add kicking and twisting and elbowing to that. Throw in possible 24/hour nausea, heartburn, acid reflux that you may or may not wake up choking on, sore breasts, tingling appendages, numbness, faintness, rapid heartbeats, nasty burps that taste like prenatal vitamins. Are you experiencing the suffering enough yet? Now just imagine after the baby opens your vagina with its head that you will have to endure fluctuating hormones and sleep deprivation. And that's not counting the challenges involved in each phase of your child's life.

Sometimes we give teens a baby doll for a week that cries, pseudo-soils and needs burping to show them they are not prepared for the constant and unpredictable demands of a child. Sometimes we put middle schoolers in front of a television screen and show them a baby's head ripping through a woman's vagina to shock and gross them out of any hanky panky. These attempts are just small, small glimpses at reality. They are valuable to a point. But for the one who experienced it, sometimes simulations and words just don't adequately encapsulate or get to the root of the "situation." It's like watching documentaries about the various horrors of genocide. The simulated experience brings us closer, but it's so far from the actuality that it's a world away. What did you do after you watched a reenactment of a horror at Hiroshima? You went and grabbed a Big Mac and a Diet Coke, and you started to do something else. You moved on. It's what we do when we are not powerlessly struggling through some "situation (shituation)." I do this all the time. It's natural. It's a survival mechanism. After watching a show about some serial killer, like BTK or Jeffrey Dahmer, I get freaked out and feel sick and want to hide from the night; but by the morning I move out of my fearful state and into a much easier, more pleasant state. Most of the time, I forget all about the feelings of the night before...that is how I NEED to be in order to be a productive, functioning member of society.

Right now I am going through a shituation with BREASTfeeding. The shituation involves Elanah waking up throughout the night to suck on my boob. She wants to be soothed, over and over, by my boobifier. I am starting to hate lifting my shirt to feed her, not just in the night but sometimes during the day. And I don't always hate it, sometimes I enjoy it. But I am sleep-deprived, and sleep deprivation is very hard on moms who don't get a break...don't get a nap...have to just keep going, going, going until they hit the hay and fall asleep for the night. And then they sometimes have to wake up all throughout the night FOR MONTHS (and, for some, YEARS). It's insane. Why aren't mommas revolting - going out into the streets like the zombies they are and singing strange, strange songs?

The whole breastfeeding mini-rant was all to say that I don't have time to write what I'm writing. I don't have time to write about any of this. But, since I am already a wandering loon, I'll just tell you this. I'm so stressed and I am starting to think that my physical problems stem from psychological/emotional stress - at least to some extent. I think I better start paying more attention to my mind/body and trying to get the stress in check. Yoga, anyone? Back to the mat?

Yoga, yes, the place where people close their eyes, open their legs, and -sometimes- let 'em rip. Brace yourself (instead of letting 'em rip!). I am actually afraid to take yoga now that I have had two children. Air gets trapped in my vagina, sometimes in shockingly large amounts (especially if I bathe for some reason). The air that gets trapped just jets right out of me sometimes, and there is no stopping it. Technically, it is "vaginal flatulence" but it does not involve the expulsion of stinky (waste) gasses. It's just trapped air. It flies in and it sputters out. It's loud, though. And it runs its mouth like a motor. But I know I will not let my ego stop me from trying to spread out on the mat again someday. I should be damn proud of those sounds. I withstood two baby heads and bodies coming out of my vagina. I need something to say or chant when it happens, though. Like, "You go girl!" "My vagina is just venting about the birth trauma." "Oh, vagina. You had to suffer and now they laugh at you. Poor girl." "Everyone together now!" Anyway, no one talks about it. I never farted vaginally or anally during the yoga classes I was taking two years ago. But other people were farting. It's the smelly elephant in the room. I think yoga teachers should make the first session dedicated to yoga farting. Breathe in. Breathe out. We are in the present moment. Open. And release. Now hold your breath.

I'm not afraid of farting. I can fart in public and live to tell about it. It will happen someday, outside of my house. I am a human being, and sometimes I fart. (But, I gotta say, I really hate the word, "fart.") I am not a kid anymore, and I will not live in fear of the realities of my body. I am not afraid of picking my nose, either. I proudly pick and (even, sometimes, yes) flick. Now, if you do it differently, then that's fine. But I'm sick of THAT elephant in the room, too. Once, when I was a little girl, I was picking my nose in the back of my grandparents' station wagon. My Papa saw me in the mirror and abruptly said, "Jessy, QUIT picking your nose." Well, at least he said something and called it what it was...even if I was mortified that he caught me. If I knew better, I could have formed a more persuasive rebuttal. But I didn't, I just turned red, looked down and put my finger down on my knee. When I was little, I also bit my toenails off. I may just be the most disgusting gal ya ever did hear of...but I have a feeling there are others out there like me. It's funny that I am SO much more embarrassed about the things I have just written about than I am about biting my FINGER nails or being a Hell-bound lesbian. When I see a booger in Darah's nose, I often just try to swipe it out with my fingernail if I don't have a tissue and we are in a hurry. The other day, she scolded me in the funniest way: "Mom, sto-op picking my noooose." My kid is telling me not to pick HER nose. When Darah picks her nose, we don't want her to feel ashamed. It's just too flat-out ridiculous to feel ashamed for something so HUMAN. But we do want to let her know that it is not generally polite and that others may find it offensive. We, as McFadden humans, pick our noses in private. That's what I tell her when she picks in public. But, sometimes I have second guesses, when I think about how some people find it offensive that she has two moms but we don't cater to their wishes and discomforts. I guess we pick (!!!) and choose.

So, go be your human self with a little less shame about whatever it is that you're hiding tonight. I'm going to try to go curl up next to my beautifully human wife before Elanah emerges from her crib for the second time since she went to bed.

Since I wrote a blog post that includes breastfeeding, serial killers and human persuasions, let's also raise a bloody glass to Lady Macbeth (but please note that Elanah no longer has boneless gums nor do I fancy dashing brains out of anything):

I have given suck, and know(60)
How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me:
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums,
And dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn as you
Have done to this.(65)

1 comment:

amy m. provine said...

Beautiful.... farts, picking noses and all. I'm having just one of those days and I guess I needed to read that.

I love the Lady Macbeth quote... believe it or not, I hadn't read that before :)