Sunday, January 27, 2008

Deathbed visit

I've been away again unexpectedly, to visit my grandfather who is dying.

It's strange in this culture to admit that, to come to a place where we accept that death is the next natural step of a life. I want to fight it, even as he has admitted it.

I'm not one of those people who believe that people "in the old days" didn't mourn death or think it was unfair and difficult to endure, but I do wonder if they were less shocked by it. It's such an affront to us, isn't it, in our vital society?

And I feel constant grief for my mother, mostly, who is caring for him now and will then be an orphan, and who daily remembers her mother, gone too soon almost 18 years ago.

I remember, after my grandmother died, my mother and I were hanging a quilt my grandmother had made for me toward the end. My mother was snapping at me for not hanging it straight and for pulling too hard on it and perhaps ripping it with the pins we were trying to use to hold it. I couldn't understand why she was being so unreasonable. Finally, finally, my 14-year-old mind opened to the fact that this was her mother who had died. Ohhhh. What a terrible, terrible loss if my mother had died. And so begins empathy. But I wonder, when death was more of a constant companion and a visitor to people's homes and not just their hospitals, if there was simply more awareness of it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Breastfeeding celebrities

When I was looking for breastfeeding pictures for my last post, I found in Google image search a photo of Maggie Gyllenhaal nursing in public. I thought it was so cute, until I clicked on the image's origin URL and realized it was posted on a site dedicated to celebrity nip slips and other wardrobe malfunctions. (I did mention I had SafeSearch off -- this is one of the hazards.)

It made me pretty mad that it was categorized with embarrassing, erotic, or private moments. But I am glad that Mama Gyllenhaal doesn't seem to consider it any of those things. Hooray!

The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog put up a post over a year ago (with a lot of good links if you're interested in pursuing that line of inquiry) about the trend of celebrity breastfeeding, and I think the popularity has only continued since. I've had Gwen Stefani and Jennifer Garner's nursing mentioned to me by non-mothers, and I can't help but think that the attention, even quasi-negative paparazzi attention, helps normalize and, yes, popularize breastfeeding, just as recent babywearing shots have for slinging. Who cares if it's a fad right now, as long as it sticks around?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Breastfeeding in art

I have gotten a lot of hits from my "Breastfeeding in pictures" post. I'm not sure what people were looking for, so I hope they weren't disappointed. (My apologies right now and forever to those looking for "I touch you once, I touch you twice" lyrics and stumbling onto my musings on postpartum sex...)

So, I'll embrace my role as destination for breastfeeding-photo seekers and first, give you my tips for you to find your very own images of breastfeeding pictures, photographs, posters, statues, what have you: Type variations of "breastfeeding" and related keywords into Google's image search. There: that will get you a bunch of hits. Wasn't that easy?

Just make sure your SafeSearch is OFF!

For those of you who wish to view someone else's selections, I now offer you a gallery of some of my favorite nursing artworks. Look on and enjoy.

One of my favorites by Mary Cassatt -- Mikko TOTALLY does that thing with his hand! Baby dentist. She captured the reality of the breastfeeding experience. Unlike say...

...this Memling one. It's beautiful and all, but had he ever seen where a breast is before? Maybe because she was a virgin Mary was spared from pregnancy-induced boob saggage? But, seriously, there are so many gorgeous ones of Mary & Jesus that I think I'll have to do a whole post of just those. For now, on with the show...

At one point, Picasso didn't mind painting boobies non-cubistically, and in use.

I love how delightfully chubby Renoir's baby is. Reminds me of someone I know (ahem, 31 pounds, ahem...).

I don't know who the artist is here, but I found it on a doula website and think it's gorgeous. I love the glow, and the happiness of the friend watching.

This one by Charles Moffat shows a modern NIP experience, in an elevator. Nice one.

What a glamorous art-deco mother, by Tamara de Lempicka.

And, last but not least (well, maybe), for your viewing enjoyment, I bring you a bearded lady from 1631 displaying her credentials.

That was fun -- I think I'll have to do another roundup sometime.

Here's someone else who's done a nice collection of 94 images of breastfeeding in art. If you'll look at the offerings there, you'll see that some countries use images of Mary breastfeeding on their holiday stamps. How about them apples, USPS?

This is very cool, too -- a site where women sat with their nurslings in poses similar to those of famous paintings.

I hope all these inspire some of you mama artists to create your own breastfeeding art. I love seeing it portrayed beautifully and out in the open like this, not just in health pamphlets! Drink it in!

Friday, January 4, 2008

She's back!

No, not me. Well, perhaps me as well now that all the holiday madness is over.

But I meant my faithful monthly visitor. At one day shy of 7 months postpartum. I had worried that Mikko's new and indulgent sleep schedule would lead to this, and apparently I was right. Goodbye, my lovely LAM.

I looked up some info about returning fertility and found this page on KellyMom that, although very helpfully informative, made me mad because it told me that the average time to the return of menstrual periods for women practicing ecological breastfeeding is 14.6 months. I got less than half of my allotted time, dang it.

I had just read the term "ecological breastfeeding" in reference to delaying the return of fertility in a Mothering magazine reader letter. And I thought: a whosa whatsa? I've gotta get me some of that eco breastfeeding action.

But I never got around to looking it up until I was reading that KellyMom link and realized, Oh, I was already doing that. Here are the ecological breastfeeding principles:

* keeping baby close
* breastfeeding on cue (day and night)
* using breastfeeding to comfort your baby
* breastfeeding in a lying-down position for naps and at night
* using no bottles or pacifiers

So even with ecological breastfeeding, 37% of women will have their cycles resume in the 6-12 month range. And apparently I'm one of the lucky Fertile Myrtles.

Ready for a sibling in nine months, Mikko? Excuse me while I laugh hysterically. (An appropriate term, no?)