Friday, February 27, 2009

positive breastfeeding images...accidentally

It sometimes seems that positive breastfeeding images are hard to come by, even though, as we all know, breast is best. That is why I have taken a personal pledge of being a Lactivist and diving headfirst into a positive breastfeeding campaign. If you did not already know, lactivism is positive breastfeeding activism. The main goal of Lactivism is creating change due to positive action. It can take many forms, including working to help get laws enacted to support breastfeeding mothers and their children, educating mothers and mothers-to-be on the benefits of breastfeeding and the disadvantages of supplementing with formula, and demonstrating against those who interfere with the nursing relationship between mother and child by organizing nurse-ins, letter writing campaigns, etc. These are only a few examples (MDC). As a lactivist, I have heard of oodles of unfortunate experiences of other nursing mothers, some of them even absurd! One outdoor theater did not allow any food or drinks, including breastfeeding, because "it attracts bees" (btw, I have nursed for a fair number of years now, and never once has a bee shown any interest in my breastmilk--my shampoo, however, maybe). With every aspect of the normality of breastfeeding in mind, I strive to educate, reinforce, and demonstrate with positive breastfeeding images, or accidental images, if you will. What I mean by accidental coincides with the idea that the act breastfeeding, of nourishing ones young, is normal. Human beings are mammals. Female mammals have the biological ability to produce species specific milk to nourish and sustain their young. As human mammals, women--mothers--are provided with the gift of breastfeeding. Of being able to produce the perfect substance to make their young grow strong, to sustain them for up to one year (and in some cases, even longer) on just breastmilk alone. Breastmilk produced by a mother contains hundreds of unreproducible and unmeasurable complex compounds which are tailored to each baby and his/her own specific needs at that exact moment. We cannot even begin to understand these compounds, let alone duplicate them in any supplement or commercial formula. We know breastmilk is the optimum infant food, that it stands far surperior to anything else we could feed our babies. This magnificant substance is magical. It is magical in so many ways. And at the same time, breastmilk is absolutely the opposite of magical. At some point, we must draw a line and stop thinking of breastmilk as something remarkable. Breastmilk is just normal, healthy babyfood, after all. In order to prove to the rest of the world that breastfeeding is normal, healthy, accepted, and not inappropriate or indecent, we must seek out positive breastfeeding images, unintended moments that show how normal and beautiful breastfeeding is. These can be found almost everywhere, from trashy tabloid magazines to childrens literature, from international pro-breastfeeding campaigns to the tears in your great-grandmother's eyes as she relays her fond memories of nursing her children to sleep in a rocking chair in front of the fire. Here are a few examples of positive and accidental/unintended breastfeeding images that I have compiled: -Hollywood: An article in a December 2008 or January 2009 tabloid about the "Best Breasts in Hollywood." The award was shared by two respected actresses, Salma Hayek and Jessica Alba. Though it was not mentioned in the article, both women were breastfeeding their children at the time of the publication, and both of these famous breastfeeding women are loud supporters of the importance of breastfeeding. (I am still in search of the article and the source.) -Children's literature: Teddy Rabbit by Kathy Stinson -- The last illustration in the book is of the mother sitting in the grass. With one side of her top down, she is nursing a baby, another child standing behind her. It is a positive image in that breastfeeding is not the focus of the story at all, rather a peaceful moment shared with family: Teddy Rabbit by Kathy Stinson -Artistic and photographic collections: Nursing is Normal is a photographic display of nursing moms in public settings, now in Madison, WI, through 2009: Nursing is Normal -Educational television for children: Mr. Rogers features animal babies and human babies drinking their mothers' milk. -International campaigns: La Teta! To give the breast is to give life! A absolutely delightful and beautiful public information broadcast from Puerto Rico. It is akin to a music video, featuring breastfeeding and extended breastfeeding (or, rather, normal breastfeeding). This is my favorite positive breastfeeding image I have come across yet. The joy depicted in this video needs no explanation.

My '101 Things in 1001 Days' Challenge

I first heard of the 101 Things to Do in 1001 Days challenge back in the summer of 2007, and, shortly after, I made my own list of goals to complete. Here are the rules of the challenge:

The Mission
Complete 101 present tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria
Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on my part.

Why 1001 Days?
Many people have created lists in the past--frequently simple goals such as New Year's resolutions. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organizing and timing some tasks such as overseas trips or outdoor activities.

Some common goal setting tips
- Be decisive. Know exactly what you want, why you want it, and how you plan to achieve it.
- Stay focused. Any goal requires sustained focus from beginning to end. Constantly evaluate your progress.
- Welcome failure. Frequently, very little is learned from a venture that didi not experience failure in some form. Failure presents the opportunity to learn and makes the success more worthy.
- Write down your goals. It clarifies your thinking and reinforces your commitment.
- Keep your goals in sight. Review them frequently, and ensure that they are always at the forefront of your thinking.

Now, about 2 1/2 years into my challenge, I am taking a look again to see which of my goals I have completed, which I need to focus on, and which ones I need to re-evaluate and tweak to meet my current life situation.

And, here is my mission. As I began to make progress on my list, I started crossing off the items as I completed them and writing explainations, if necessary...

Start date: July 25, 2007
End date: April 21, 2010 (my 28th birthday!)

Shana's 101 Things:

1. Reread the entire Harry Potter series, start to finish
2. Read six new novels in six months (6+/6) Rhett Butler's People, Mr. Monday, Flush, Fluke, Skinny Dip, The Stupidest Angel
3. Read 300 new books aloud to the girls (100+/100)
4. Read five books at the same time as David and discuss them with him (5/5) The Secret, Flush, Fluke, Nature Girl, A Dirty Job
5. Read all my unread books
6. Read the postpartum doula reading list (10/11)
7. Read the childbirth educator reading list
8. Read the birth doula reading list (6/6)

9. Write a letter to the editor
10. Publish an article or book
11. Create a real blog
12. Write a "To be read" letter for each David, Eva & Esme
13. Write in my journal at least twice a week for three months
14. Complete three of my many journals (3/3)
15. Write David three new love letters (3/3)

Arts & Crafts
16. Knit a blanket I knit one for Eva, one for Esme, one for a wedding gift...
17. Paint something Whirligig ornaments
18. Sculpt something I sculpted a dolphin and a mama & baby
19. Create a custom t-shirt I made several, one for David with Sonny on it, and a couple natural parenting/activism shirts.
20. Design a logo for a birth services company
21. Make all baby gifts for showers and new arrivals in advance I'm keeping on this one so far!
22. Learn to crochet
23. Teach Evelyn to knit
24. Take a bookbinding class

25. Document an entire day with pictures
26. Enter a photography contest
27. Buy a new digital camera
28. Create mini-albums for parents and grandparents twice a year

29. Buy a piece of original artwork
30. Repot an orchid
31. Keep the TV off during meals for a full month
32. Keep the TV covered when not in use I'm good at this, but David is not.
33. Organize our office space
34. Make environmentally friendly cleaning projects and use them instead of alternatives
35. Spend a weekend preparing ten meals and freezing them
36. Clean out any junk and trash that accumulates in my car whenever I fill up
37. Plan and make a full meal that I've never eaten before Falafels in pita bread with fresh veggies and cucumber yogurt sauce
38. Donate a piece of clothing for every new piece of clothing I buy/get
39. Plant Spring bulbs Daffodils
40. Plant vegetables with the family Tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers, collards, kale, cabbage
41. Pick apples or other fruit strawberries and tomatoes

42. Become Certified Postpartum Doula Thanks to CAPPA!
43. Become a Certified Childbirth Educator
44. Get my German back up to fluency
45. Teach Eva to read
46. Update my resume
47. Hold at least one childbirth preparation class
48. Educate myself on the pros/cons of circumcision
49. Educate my mother on the pros/cons of vaccinations

50. Travel to three states I've never been to (0/3)
51. Tour a winery or brewery
52. Visit a historical reenactment (not ren faire)
53. Visit another country
54. Take three day trips with the family (3/3) Madison, WI; Columbus, OH; Indianapolis, IN
55. Visit Kat & Chris once a year (1/3)
56. Do three letterboxing activities (1/3)
57. Walk along the sandy beach with my feet in the water I did this in Wisconsin in Lake Michigan and again in Daytona Beach, FL

58. Play in the snow with the kids (winter)
59. Get pregnant with child 3
60. Go on a major family vacation We went to Florida: Disney World and Daytona Beach
61. Spend three complete days with just Eva and document with pictures and a diary/scrapbook (0/3)
62. Spend three complete days with just Esme and document with pictures and a diary/scrapbook (0/3)
63. Spend three complete days with just David and document with pictures and a diary/scrapbook (0/3)
64. Plan a large family celebration just because
65. Plan a surprise party for a loved one
66. Plan and have weekly game night
67. Go putt-putting

68. Put $100 extra a month toward paying off the rest of our debts
69. Put 50 cents in a jar everyday for 1001 days and buy something special for myself
70. Start a savings account for the girls
71. Save 50 cents a day for Christmas presents
72. Save all bonuses, tax returns, and rolled coins for a full year
73. After debts are paid off, $100 extra a month into savings
74. Increase my 401K
75. Establish a 12 month emergency fund

76. Take Tai-Chi with the family twice a week for a month
77. Floss everyday for a month (30/30) And I'm still doing this!!
78. Henna my hair
79. Eat nothing but fruit and veggies for 10 days
80. Take my supplements everyday for 10 days
81. Get henna done three times and photograph the design (0/3)
82. Get one full body massage a month for three months
83. Find an ND or an MD who practices natural medicine for the girls He's a homeopathic family doctor.
84. Find and buy the perfect purse Garage sale, 50 cents!
85. Try wearing contacts

86. Find a religious community to attend
87. Meditate at least once a day for a week
88. Take part in a protest for a cause I believe in Can you say Applebee's Nurse In??
89. Buy no new items for a month (excluding health & safety items, food, underwear)
90. Do a random act of kindness once a day for two weeks
91. Establish a childbirth services company
92. Attend three LaLache League meetings (3/3)
93. Establish a "mothering" group/circle
94. Have a serious discussion on breastfeeding with someone I normally would not talk about it with

95. Pack my lunch for an entire month
96. Find a drive-in and see a movie
97. Draft and get notarized a living will
98. Be more mindful
99. Compile a book of recipes
100. Watch the sun set
101. Watch the sun rise

Getting to know you...

Welcome to my life among the trees! After dabbling in MySpace for, what, nearly three years now, and Facebook for the last several months, I figured it's time to start my own independent resource for myself and other parents who strive to focus on a more natural, sustainable lifestyle for their famly. So, this is my first official blog. And my first official post. Let me introduce myself. My name is Shana. I am a homebirthing, breastfeeding, baby-wearing, co-sleeping, respectful parenting, whole food eating, vegetarian, crunchy wife and mama. I live for my wonderfully artistic husband, David, and two amazing daughters, Eva (Sept-2001) and Esme (March-2007). I have a BA in Integrated Language Arts from Wright State University, I am a Certified Postpartum Doula, and I am proud to be a Student Midwife. When I can spare the time, I am often found reading, drumming, and knitting. When Esme was born, David and I had over 10 wonderful weeks off work together with the girls, and since then, we have developed an embarrassing addiction to board games. Above all else, though, I enjoy spending time with and encouraging my three true loves—especially by admiring (and inspiring, so I have been told) David’s artwork, doing crafts and baking with Eva, and nursing and reading stories with Esme. As for my lifestyle choices, I am dedicated to green-living and natural parenting. I live to preserve the earth, enjoy nature, and live a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. As a conscious effort to support that convention, my family is vegetarian, we eat mostly whole foods, we use family cloth and cloth diapers, we recycle and compost a good portion of our waste. For those items we cannot make ourselves, we try to buy second-hand, from WAHMs, and from local markets. We also run quite the zoo at home. Our many wonderful pets are thouroughly loved, adored, and spoiled. To introduce you, we have three dogs: Sandy, a snobby and happy nine-year-old Yellow Lab who loves Eva above all else; Minnie, a trouble-hunting, raw-hide stealing, hole-digging, neurotic four-year-old Blue-tick Coonhound (who also happens to be a Katrina resuce); and then there is Sonny, the docile giant English Mastiff, who is only two-and-a-half, and still growing. We also have two cats: Snickers, my sassy 18 year old Siamese/Angora mix (he is so bossy that it's not uncommon to see Sonny and Minnie running, tail between legs, away from Snickers, who is batting paw and in chase--the true leader of the pack). And then there's and Little Wookie, a sweet, shy, and blind 9 year old Maine Coon--the most beautiful cat I have ever seen. Both of our cats are rescues. To add to the mix, we have an Argentine Red Tail Boa named Louie, and a hermit crab terrarium, led by none other than my first crab, Luna Lovegood, who I got as a gift back in 2005. So, now you know a little about me and what fills my life. I hope I will keep up this blog and fill your minds with thoughtful, philosophical words of wisdom, and I hope you will give me the same in return.