Sunday, May 27, 2012

Friends in the News

Sunday, May 27, 2012
Luke loves to read Friend magazines, especially the Friends in the News.  One day he wrote these for himself and his brother:

Luke Thomas Christensen, age 3 1/2, from Roseville California loves playing soccer, baseball, and pretending canoeing.  He wants to be like Jesus.  He loves coloring with all his markers.  He loves canoeing.  He loves building Lego houses.  He loves playing with his brother, Ben.  He loves throwing food in the water to ducks.

Ben Marvin Christensen, age 14 months, from Roseville California loves outside, nursing, and taking Luke's bat.  He can do lots of tricks.  He also loves ruining his brother Luke's things.

(Editor's note: Luke has never mentioned canoes before.  In Ben's defense, he ruins about as many things of Luke's as Luke ruins of mine.  Those markers he just mentioned?  Used them to draw on our kitchen chairs that very day, in fact.)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

We are mammals.

Saturday, May 12, 2012
Man, are people talking about the Time Magazine breastfeeding cover!  What do I think of it?  Thank you for asking, I'll tell you.

There is nothing wrong with nursing a baby, toddler, or child.  Zoologically speaking humans are still infants well past the age of one, and animals nurse their children through infancy.  In fact, researchers compared different primates and based on different factors such as birth weight relative to weaning weight, gestational period relative to weaning age and age at eruption of molars, humans would wean somewhere between 2.5 and 7 years if it weren't for cultural expectations.  Across cultures and throughout history weaning has most commonly taken place somewhere in early childhood (2, 3, 4, 5, 6).  At the extreme ends of weaning you have our culture, which weans relatively early and at the other end you have pre-Western influence Japan where there were incidences of kids nursing to adolescence.

Statements that breastfeeding (at any age) is "weird", or statements like "If they're old enough to ask for it, they're too old" are culturally-based, not evidence-based.  Somewhere we heard someone saying these things, and so we internalized them and passed them on without really giving it much thought.  These mentalities harken back to eras when the body was seen as crass or evil.  There is no evidence that there is anything wrong with extended nursing, psychologically speaking.  Anecdotally, I know several people that are now adults who nursed to the age of 3 or 4.  They are all totally normal (and awesome- I can quantify awesome if you'd like).

Breastfeeding is a good thing.  Evidence suggests that as time goes on it becomes less critical for health reasons, but there still are advantages to extended nursing such as higher IQ and decreased incidence of illness.  These benefits may not be significant enough for a major medical establishment to recommend it for the general population, but that doesn't mean that there are no benefits.  The AAP recommends nursing at least to age 1 and then beyond as mutually desired.  The WHO recommends at least 2 years, and then beyond as mutually desired.

If you find breastfeeding weird, ask yourself why.  I'll save you the introspection and tell you why.  Because you're not used to it.  Because in our culture we're only "supposed" to breastfeed in private, or covered up, or "discreetly" (whatever that means- discretion is relative).  Most people haven't seen a whole lot of breastfeeding, so they're not used to it.  So guess what?  Desensitize yourself to it.  Get over it.  Stop saying ignorant things about it so that breastfeeding can be seen as normal and women won't be afraid to do it.  It is in the best interest of our collective health for breastfeeding to not be stigmatized.

So, in conclusion, I prefer not to hear things like "breastfeeding is weird" or "he's too old to nurse" or "If they can ask for it, they're too old".  Please, can we stop saying that?  Pretty please?  I mean, unless you can back it up with some evidence.  Can we just de-stigmatize breastfeeding and extended breastfeeding? If not, why not?

Here's some articles I enjoyed reading on the same subject:
http://blog.sfgate.com/sfmoms/2012/05/10/does-time-magazines-breastfeeding-cover-go-too-far/
http://bfmed.wordpress.com/2012/05/11/time-cover-sells-out-moms-to-sell-magazines/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/sabrinaparsons/2012/05/12/time-magazine-asks-are-you-mom-enough-every-mom-should-be-offended/

P.S.  Mac and I went to a little luncheon today and as I was primping I said to him "I really, really hope that no one brings up that Time magazine cover because I'm afraid I won't be able to shut my mouth about it."  We were sitting, eating and I was talking with a woman I've met several times and her husband, who I was meeting for the first time.  He brought it up and I blurted out "Oh no!" which got a hearty laugh because he assumed I thought it was weird/gross.  We then went on to have a very pleasant conversation about it in which I made basically the same points that I made here.  All his kids nursed to between 12 months and 18 months, so it was an easy sell.  A little bit later Ben toddled over to me and signed "milk" and I somewhat reluctantly obliged.  Reluctantly because I still feel the judgement of other people when I nurse a toddler in public, not for any other reason.  I did not confess to him that I'm still nursing my 3.5 year old as well because, well, I like this couple.  And I don't want people to just remember me for one parenting choice that defines neither me nor my child.
P.P.S.  This is a picture of us tandem nursing with all the mommy flesh cut out.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Things that happen...

Friday, May 04, 2012
When you dress your child...
you accidentally put both legs in the same hole.

 When you go outside...
you play baseball...

 ...or chill under your favorite tree.

When you plant snow pea seeds...
 you might actually get snow peas. 

When you go in the backyard...
you dig and water.

And when your mom vacuums...
 ...you get (mostly) naked and jump on the trampoline.

This one is for you, Holly.