Some things I remember clearly about the first days after my sons were born. I was zapped, emotional and incredibly vulnerable. So I can't imagine having a document thrust at me that essentially guilt-trips me into swearing that I will breastfeed my newborns or else risk exposing them to "significant illness and disease."
Eighteen years ago, fathers offered moral support with breastfeeding through fetching a glass of water for the wife. Now, things are different. This generation of dads is not leaving their partners' side to go home. Dads want to be involved in breastfeeding, and taking care of their partners and babies.
Before I delivered by first son I knew basically nothing about post-delivery recovery. I knew a minimal amount from medical school. There would be bleeding and soreness. I didn't need a medical degree to assume that. What to really expect was a mystery. These aren't things that moms and moms-to-be discuss very often, at least not in my social circle.
Tears in my eyes, I looked up from my nursing chair at The Hubster, who had our hungry newborn daughter in his arms. I felt like I was trapped in a cruel science experiment to determine how much nipple pain an exhausted new mother could take in two hour intervals before she cracked. Expectant first-time moms: Breastfeeding is hard.
I'll be the first to admit that kids are time-sucks. They can literally consume every waking second you have by demanding all of your attention. And if you have more than one and they're young, good luck trying to "nap when the baby naps." What if they're on different nap schedules? What if that's the only time you get to have a shower or eat something that requires both hands?
Even though mothers are anxious to see their child latching well and feeding on the breast, to know that their particular experience is occurring in most every room on the ward, does help somewhat to dispel the belief that they have done something wrong, that there is something wrong with them, and/or that their baby will never breastfeed.
For my son's birthday, a parent wasn't comfortable with my husband and I driving her child from a gymnastics centre to our house. Fair enough. But what of the consequences of such vigilance towards our fellow parents? To what extent do these kinds of parent-against-parent preemptive risk aversion strategies threaten the fabric of mother-to-mother relations?
It's all about context, the message seems to be. We need less sexualization of women's bodies (breasts in particular) and more acceptance of them as functional and natural. But the matter gets confusing is when you add in women like Paulina Gretzky, whose scantily clad body is all over Instagram in unmistakably sexy poses-- because she has freely chosen to put it there. Is she a feminist foe who is ensuring that generations of little girls will grow up objectified and not taken seriously by men? Or is her personal decision to celebrate her sexuality and glory in controlling her own image, critics (and Dad) be damned, actually a feminist move?
Two summers ago I developed the rash of all rashes. There was only one medication the doctors told me would make it go away: prednisone. A steroid that crosses into breast milk. Breastfeeding was too important to me, so, I declined. That is -- until today. After almost 30 consecutive months of breastfeeding, I reclaimed my boobs.
I'm starting to accept that all the research in the world can't prepare you for the day-to-day realities of parenting, and that the parent you hope to be isn't necessarily the parent you will be when you are faced with the child you end up with -- who is, after all, an individual in his or her own right. What matters is that I am the right mother for him, and he is the perfect child for me.