A follow-up from yesterday’s post, with some more offerings from the gang, plus one of mine.
People might make light of it, like this poem does, I think women who’ve been bullied and harangued over infant feeding and other mothering choices never really get over it.
I have a nipple as red as rose,
and after breastfeeding the redder it goes.
I want to be an eco goddess
but scabby, oozing nipples are sure to depress.
So I've bought some new bottles and now I'm all smiles,
and now my nipples don't resemble piles.
The idea that breast milk cures all ills, at an individual health level and now at a planetary level, has caused a few eye rolls over the last couple of years for me – expressed nicely here:
Global temps are rising
The world has gone to shit
Our one last hope is all on you
To pour some breast milk on it
And not to mention this is another thing that womenhave to do to save the world – it’s all up to me. That pressure is full-on and damaging.
Here’s my offering. Dare me to enter it into the competition?
Lactation Lament You tell me
To save the world
with me breasts.
It's all up to me,
All of it,
There's to be no rest.
Don't feed him that poison
wrapped in plastic.
Natural breast milk -
the benefits are fantastic.
Formula will make him thick,
and fat, and sick.
You should try harder -
it's what nature intended, you know.
He's getting enough,
it just doesn't snow.
I loved every minute,
it was easy for me though.
Maybe I was just better at it than you?
And what about the planet?
All those poor cows?
Well, what about me?
Pumping all night,
Stuffing in the calories,
all those oats and almonds.
And the electricity.
Is that all carbon-free?
Failure to thrive,
that's what they used to call it,
when babies died.
We need less humans,
maybe this is the answer.
Survival of the fittest.
Is that what you meant? No?
Maybe think before you speak.
You're the one
Who needs to try harder
To respect mothers' choices
And babies' rights to eat.
I will be angry about this forever, I think. But I’ll write about something else tomorrow.
Ok, so bear with me if this seems a bit weird. It’s World Breastfeeding Week soon – honestly I feel like there’s about five of these per year, but anyway. The focus this year is on the impact of infant feeding on climate change and the environment. The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action take the position that breastfeeding is unequivocally better for the health of the planet and its people and therefore should be heavily promoted, in these times of climate crisis.
There was a particularly unhelpful article in the BMJ about this last year, which really irritated me, so I wrote this on my other blog, which remains the most frequently-read thing I have ever written. The issue seems to be raising its head again in the media, due in my view to the folks who are determined to promote breastfeeding at all costs grabbing onto the topicality of environmental issues with both hands, as yet another stick with which to beat the mothers of the planet.
Anyway, there’s a breastfeeding support organisation inviting people to write poems for a competition to celebrate the connection between breastfeeding and the benefits to the environment. A group of anonymous friends of mine have come up with a few poems which might help to explain to these folks that things perhaps aren’t quite as binary as they may seem.
(Because – and this is a quick run-down of a very complicated issue – not all women can breastfeed, not all babies can breastfeed, not all women want to breastfeed and they’re entitled to bodily autonomy, the environmental claims are extremely tenuous and adding a whole heap more guilt onto women in a society where mother shaming is an international sport is not very bloody helpful, actually).
So here’s a selection of lactation lyrics by some angry folks, for your delectation. One from me to follow tomorrow.
Roses are red,
Breastfeeding made me blue,
It wasn't worth doing
To save a bit of CO2Nipples are red,
Breast milk is white,
Sleep is for the weak,
You must feed all nightThere once was a lady from Rye,
Who perceived insufficient supply,
She tried triple feeding
til her nipples were bleeding,
The midwife just told her she lie.
There once was a lady from Boston,
Who never formed any colostrum,
The matter was pressing,
So she tried hand expressing,
Cos Aptimel really would cost ‘em
Breastfeeding is hard
I will not do it again
It nearly killed meA haiku on humans and our general propensity for world fuck- uppery, breastfed or notIf your kid isn't
Greta, they're likely bad for
the environment.Advice to new parents in World Breastfeeding Week
Parent, don't listen
It's not your burden to bear
Just feed your baby
And the final word on it:
Breastfed or formula,
the baby will rejoice.
Stop judging others
and respect a mother's choice.
CAVEAT: I’m not anti-breastfeeding and nor are any of my friends and allies who I discuss these matters with. If a woman wants to breastfeed and it doesn’t negatively impact her physical and mental health, and the baby is getting enough to eat, great. If healthcare professionals can offer support to enable this to happen safely, great.
But, coercive “support” is not ok. Spurious, unscientific claims about the benefits of breast milk – either at individual, societal or environmental level are not helpful. Parent shaming based on feeding decisions is not acceptable. Babies starving due to formula being demonised and withheld is criminal.
What will it be like to wake up from this dream state?
To hear the aeroplanes overhead again
And watch the traffic standing still.
Until then, small one,
On time, for once.
** Before you bite me, we were outside very early this morning and we didn’t touch anything or get closer than 2m from anyone else. We are in UK so not in total lockdown. Yet. Also, I know his coat’s too big.
So it’s been a while since my last journal post, which may well be a relief to anyone who is reading this. It’s been hard to find time for this, alongside my other blog, some paid writing I’ve been doing, and life in general – keeping a toddler alive, being ill off and on since before Christmas (MEGA dull), all the adulting that is boring but necessary.
But I do like writing these posts, and I want to keep the journal aspect of this blog going, as the fiction and poetry aspect continues to develop too. More on the exciting developments here SOON – but in preparation for said exciting development, I’m planning on breaking cover on this blog, so it’s not going to be quite so secret any more. Something is coming up linked to it which I’m super proud of and want to share with people I know in real life, so – BANG. The clock is ticking for the big reveal (I edited a bunch of stuff yesterday in preparation and pruned my Twitter history… not that I think anyone cares that much, but anyway. Made me feel a bit less twitchy).
Meanwhile, some actual journal-ish thoughts. I am really enjoying reading more books at the moment. My husband has caught the reading bug, so we are spending a few more evenings now reading, rather than binge watching crime dramas, and I do also sometimes read while the small one is watching TV (so fucking shoot me now…! See later in this post for some toddler parenting thoughts!) I have genuine aspirations now towards fiction writing, and I do believe that prolific reading is critical to becoming a better write – so technically I’m working, right?
I was quite inspired by this post from Raspberry Thriller, a blogger I follow, on the books she had read in 2019, and developed vague aspirations towards doing something similar as I go along in 2020. I use Goodreads to keep a record what I’ve read and want to read (guess which list is longer?), as well as follow various authors and keep up to date with what my friends are reading (some of whom are voracious readers, I envy them for having the time…)
So anyway, I just finished this amazing historical novel, part of Alison Weir’s Tudor Queens series, which I will write a review of soon. (I want to do it separately because I need to learn how to do the menu function in WordPress and this is supposed to be my “practice” blog…)
Lastly, I read something on Twitter today which made me cross – writing about things which make me cross often helps to dissipate the crossness, so here goes. There was a guy (a writer – I am following loads of writers at the moment, in the vague hope that one day something I write will go viral) who tweeted that he wished people talked more openly about how difficult it is parenting a toddler, rather than the usual “enjoy every minute” fatuous bollocks. Loads of supportive comments, empathising, making jokes in a sensitive way, sharing examples of horrific toddler antics (like, today my son hit me in the face with a digger), mixed with acknowledgements that the good bits are great (he also sang a whole Winnie the Pooh song with his dad at bedtime last night – cuteness overload) Highs and lows, friends, highs and lows.
Then some helpful person says “just wait til you have teenagers, mate, toddlers are a walk in the park”, or something along those lines.
Just fucking STOP doing this, please, humans. It’s so unhelpful. Yes, being pregnant might be easier than having a new born for some people, but telling an insomniac pregnant person who can barely walk but needs to pee every 20 minutes that they will never sleep again, or pee alone again, once the baby’s born – just why would you do this? It’s never going to make the person in question feel better. Would people do this in other circumstances? Imaging someone telling you they were going for a gall bladder operation – would you tell them that you know someone who had a horrendous recovery and the operation went wrong and they nearly died? No? So why would you say this to someone who’s about to give birth? Imagine a teenager talks to you about how hard they’re finding their GCSEs. Would you say, “suck it up, buttercup, A levels are much worse?”, “just wait til you go to university?”, “just wait til you have to pay 40% tax and work 70 hours a week?” NO, you wouldn’t, unless you’re a tosser. So don’t be a tosser to parents. Please. It’s hard enough as it is without these sorts of empathy fails.
Ah, better now. Thanks for reading, if you’re still here.
Your head no longer fits snugly under my chin. You say you want cuddles, but invariably you mean wriggles. Some days you are a tiny dictator, pounding your insistent fist, and wailing your thwarted will across the horizon, biting your displeasure, an imprint on my skin. The cat is no longer safe. And yet. Before the sun comes up, when you call me, your voice a battery-powered crackle through the walls, I pull you in and wonder what sweetness another day with you will bring.