I’ve been thinking about a conversation with a friend a while ago when talking about baby stuff. We somehow got on the subject of birth — probably because she’s on her way to becoming a doula, but she began to tell me some birth stories she learned about in her classes. I remember when we began to talk about other aspects of birth also, I told her that I’m not that intrigued by birth. Wait! Let me rephrase that. It’s not that I’m not intrigued by birth. I am absolutely intrigued by birth. The fact that we are able to make another human being, incubate and nourish it for nine months, then watch as it emerges from our fabulous bodies (something I have witnessed on a few occasions) — that’s incredible! I’m just not that interested in it.
Maybe I’m having a bit of trouble correctly articulating my point. I remember talking to my friend and telling her the reasons I would be interested in birth — misrepresentation, marginalization, unfair birthing practices — injustice. Where those unfair practices are prevalent then I would be interested in it — to advocate for justice and equality. But on a regular, I have to say I’m not all that interested in the whole baby experience, mama stuff, and I don’t get warm fuzzies thinking about at-home deliveries, baby blankets, booties, cloth diapering, and baby slings. Now I know breastfeeding a baby requires a birth, but strange as it may sound I sometimes figure my reasons are simple: we don’t have to have babies. Don’t get me wrong, my foundation is pro life — understanding there are exceptions related to politics, access, assaults and more behind this that I won’t get into right now, but the whole pregnancy process does not have to happen. Putting sexual activity and the reproduction aspect into a heterosexual paradigm (though not suggesting various orientations do not play a part in this), in many cases, we don’t have to be pregnant, and there are times we can avert this — safe methods of birth control, getting to the foundation of our sexually hedonistic society, and critiquing tactics where sex sells a tire, a sock, a refrigerator, electric fans, a computer desk — a pair of shoelaces?! I won’t even go there. Or abstinence. But we cannot avert eating to live. It must be done! That’s the way I see it. And how our infants eat not only can affect us and our communities for generations, but who is eating, what we are eating, and who has access is a reflection of so many other areas of society. Infant feeding is a practice steeped heavily in politics. I’m interested in those politics.
I understand it’s not always this cut and dry and gets more complicated, but before you castigate and label me a heathen, know that I do feel a little guilty about feeling this way — especially in this particular realm. Also remember that although I don’t have any children of my own, I have 15 nieces and nephews and I have played a very active role in helping raise Each. And. Every. One of them. Those are my kids. And I loved and cherished it! Also know that once upon a time I was very interested in birth — of my own. In fact, I wanted to have children (three) and become a midwife — back in the late 90s/early 2000s when I was in my early 20s, and always pictured myself having all of my babies at home, in the bathtub, underwater, with my entire family around eating pizza and playing games in the next room — you know, long before this stuff was popular around here. People always said I’d be such a great mother, and others already called me ‘Nature Mom.’ Now, if my views and feelings change and I do ever decide to mother, adoption is my final answer! But the former — well, those were the days. That was back then. I was at and am in different place.
Today, I am an advocate of infant feeding because I see the politics behind it, and want to face those head on, and am using what I know and will learn to bring these issues to the forefront, and work to make infant feeding accessible to those who choose to practice this type of nourishment. I want to help empower those interested so we can make informed decisions — not ones based on misinformation, manipulation, misrepresentation, and bias. I work in the margins. I am also interested in actively challenging health and social disparities on multiple fronts that stem from this. That’s what I’m here for. And even though I do get excited when I find out someone I know is going to have a baby, will go to baby showers and help out the best I can, and encourage nursing not just for food, but for overall health, well-being and the multitude of other benefits, I’m just not that interested in the process it takes to get there. Is that bad?