This first appeared on Ravishly.com. But I’m putting it here, because it needs to be everywhere.
Attention Civilians: Colonel David Iverson does not want to see your boobs.
The Commander of the Mountain Home Air Force Base in Mountain View, Idaho, has written a policy barring women from breastfeeding in front of others. If you are going to breastfeed your baby, you’d better either do it under cover of darkness (a blanket, as it were) or in a designated nursing zone/office/private space. If none of those options suit you, you may take your baby and your breasts elsewhere.
I’m thinking his office.
I got a hold of Iverson’s memo, dated 16 April 2015, which looks like this:
Saying you “respect the rights of mothers” but will “accommodate those rights while respecting concerns of exposure in public settings” is basically like saying, “I’m not a racist, I just don’t like black people” or “I agree in marriage equality, just not for gay people.”
Meanwhile, in Section 2, Commander Iverson would like to ensure that a mother be offered a private space, or office, in which to nurse. If said mother chooses not to accept the generous offer of a private space, and refuses to cover, she may be asked to leave. May I refer to my earlier suggestion? That is so thoughtful of you to let me use your office, Commander Iverson. Do you happen to have any snacks? Breastfeeding leaves me famished!
Seriously, I’ve been staring at at my blank Macbook screen for a solid 10 minutes, and am still shocked by what I’m seeing.
Why are we still talking about breastfeeding discretion?
Before we delve deeper into this United States Air Force “policy,” let me offer a barebones overview of breastfeeding laws in our esteemed nation.
Federal law protects your right to use your breast anywhere, at any time, under any circumstance, to feed your baby on federal premises—including military installations. State laws on the subject, however, vary. In Idaho, the location of Mountain Home AFB, there are quite literally none. That’s right: there is not one solitary law protecting a breastfeeding mother and her infant—who I might add is probably hungry. Ironically, Idaho also has the highest breastfeeding rate in the nation. Hats off, mothers.
Here’s where things get a little convoluted. Federal law supersedes state law. That is, in circumstances where the two are in conflict, federal law automatically wins. So tap out, Idaho . . . right? Not quite. Because here’s where things get reallyconfusing. Military bases are not subject to state law, but are governed by federal law, except in the event that the garrison commander/commanding officer of a military installation deems it necessary to issue new policy, as is allowed by U.S. Code Title 10.
Who’s on first?
To make sense of this all, I did what any logical person would do: I used a lifeline and called my grandfather, Leonard E. Giuliani Capt. Ret., who served in the United States Navy for nearly 30 years of his life. That’s a long time and he was in charge of a bevy of important things, including court marshaling. Also, he still gets saluted and the front parking space, so I think he probably knows what’s up.
This is how it went:
Me: Hey grandpa, doesn’t federal law count on a military base? This Colonel at an AFB in Idaho made a policy that you can’t breastfeed without a cover.
Him: Well, yes. But (oh, here we go with the but) a commanding officer has it in his authority to make a policy as needed or required, as he deems necessary.
Me: But this is about breastfeeding. It’s just boobs. (This may be the only time I’ve said the word “boobs” to my grandfather, by the way.) Doesn’t that seem a little extreme?
Him: *Humpf* Well I never did anything like that. That seems unusual. You should contact an attorney who specializes in military law. Your grandmother has been sleeping in because of her back. Can you come late morning instead of early tomorrow?
Him: See you in the morning.
And there you have it, straight from my 81-year-old Italian grandfather. I might add that I have five children, and I have nursed those five children over 10 years collectively, certainly in front of him a number of times, and certainly without cover. And he never enacted any sort of “policy” regarding my imprudence.
So to get back to my central question: why are we still talking about breastfeeding discretion?
Are we—and by “we,” I mean Commander Colonel David Iveson of the United States Air Force and every other person in the world who thinks the sight of a baby nursing is abhorrent—so completely disturbed by the sight of a breast that we can’t let a baby eat? Let’s be reasonable. I have a Vogue magazine sitting right here (in the name of research, obviously), and there are no fewer than 17 breasts with more tissue visible than I would ever expose while nursing. (Unless the babe performs a tactical maneuver called The Abrupt Pop Off, in which case I would frantically yank down my shirt, lest everyone in the near vicinity be subject to a milk shower.)
What is the big deal, David? Oh, I’m probably supposed to call you Colonel or Commander or something. But I’m not in the Air Force and I’m not sure, so, David? What is it? Who are you worried about? Is the sight of two inches of breast so arousing to the young enlisted that you must protect their fragile sexuality? Are you concerned about the babies being part of some illicit scheme to corrupt the minds of the impressionable? Are these nursing mothers running about topless screaming, “I WILL NOT BE CONTAINED”?
I am asking this in earnest. Why override a clearly written (well, sort of) federal law that protects a mother’s right to engage in an act that is so natural, so completely innocuous, that it shouldn’t even require a law in the first place? Furthermore, why isn’t anyone challenging this nonsense? Further furthermore, why are we even still having this conversation?
Could we be doing anything else? I don’t know, is there maybe some sort of civil war somewhere that you might want to look into?
Just a suggestion.
Week number 5 in the baby baking series. This week brought to you by buckets of tears and stride chewing gum. We have our midwife appt in 4 hours but I’m typing this before so still no data about if it’s one baby or quads. Edited to add: It’s NOT twins but my due date has been changed. I wasn’t sure when this baby was made 100% because of my whacky nursing cycle but now we know. New guess date is about March 25. Will start taking guess birth date and sizes…Now. Maybe I should offer a prize for the closest on either thing? Hm. What to give away? Ideas?
Weeks pregnant: 9
Weight: 186 lbs
Gain: +3 lbs total (no change from last week)
Waist : 35″ today at the skinny (-1, weird), 41.5 at the belly button (+.5)
Average number of times I get up to pee per night: 1 to about a thousand and usually carrying the baby
Size of the baby bean: GREEN OLIVE! MY FAVORITE! (1 inch)
Weight: teeeeeny tiny
Other pregnancy related crap:
Emotional crap: Good. God. with the crying. Also I’m feeling super sentimental this week. Like I’m looking at my kids worrying about being able to be a good mom to FIVE and worrying about Ella getting all she needs from her momma.
Physical crap: Still with the sick. Still with the EX.HAUS.TED. I can’t believe it (as I type this is it 10 am. Our midwife appointment is at 2 pm today and I almost HOPE it’s twins. So I can give this exhaustion some credit and say OK I’m growing TWO babies. But yeah. Probably not. Amended to say: Yes. ONE baby. However my uterus measure 15 ish weeks so yeah. That explains my bell-ay). I have not made my bed in FIVE DAYS. FIVE. Oy. This is not like me at. All. Can I get an amen?
What I want to devour: Mediterranean food. Yeah. And things with cheese. And things soaked in vinegar. Like BANANA peppers. And green olives. And pickles. Weird. Oh and cool dairy. Not milk though. Like sour cream. And dip. And cottage cheese. And yogurt.
What makes me want to hurl: The list is long.
Supplements (adding this to the list so y’all know what herbals I’m taking): Red Raspberry Leaf (2 caps). I tried to drink the tea. I WANTED TO. But gag. So. Sick. Prenatal (from trader joes). Calcium-Magnesium pills (2). Taking this to boost my calcium because of the nursing.
Activity: I am trying but failing on some days. I tried to ride my bike Tuesday night. I felt sick but fine I said… I’m doing it anyway. It was 95 degrees. TOO. BAD. Doing it anyway. So my back tire was flat which took about 20 minutes to square away with green goo and air. DOING IT ANYWAY. Then Owen and I rode around and headed to his school which is about 2 miles from here to see if the class lists were up. By the time we got to the school I realized my front tire was flat. The (26 pound) baby was asleep on the back and I got to walk home in flip flops. Pushing my bike. In 95 degree heat. With no water. So counting all that as 2 days worth of exercise. Doing the yoga stretches from the Active Birth birth. If you’d like more detail let me know and I’ll devote a post to the routine.
Boy? Or girl?: Boy? I still think boy. But I’m sick like it’s a girl. I mean REALLY. This is crap. This is probably the ONLY reason I wouldn’t be surprised if there were two in there. I’m OVER it.
Names: Pretty sure we’re decided on Maxwell? Maxwell something. I’m going to push HARD for Clara in the event of a girl (or twins). Middle name suggestions for boys are welcome. So far we have Turner. Reed. Then nothing.
In other news: Struggling with getting all the water I need in. Because water makes me want to hurl. So trying to drink tea (chamomile lemon mostly). Lifewater. Milk. And then forcing down like 3 glasses of good ol H2O.
The other thing is that I’m feeling a little odd emotionally. With Ella we all were spending so much time talking about the baby. Thinking about the baby. Rubbing my belly. Doting on her. i feel bad, and a little sad, that this baby isn’t getting the same royal treatment. I mean I KNOW about this because I’ve been pregnant with tiny demanding tyrants around before. I mean shoot I was like 10 weeks pregnant with Owen before I even KNEW. That’s how busy I was. (also to clarify I was having no period to tip me off that I was late so the first indicator was the night I was hugging the kitchen sink swallowing back vomit). But still I feel bad that I don’t have the time in the evening to lay and commune with my little fetus. I’m keeping a written journal now so hopefully that will help.
Tandem nursing update (still talking about boobs. you may skip):
Top four teeth are just about all through on crabby teething constantly nursing baby. She’s still nursing like all.night.long. But ONE BLESSED night this week she slept from 9:30-1. Of course I didn’t get to bed until after 11 but still over an hour and a half of uninterrupted sleep was BLISS. She’s spending a LOT of time at the breast. Not just nursing but holding on in general. Not sure if this is mostly “I hurt. Hold me momma” or that there is actually less milk so she’s waiting. And I have no idea really how to tell if I have less milk. Because I can’t gauge by her pee and I can still easily hand express. I guess the only real way would be to pump and see what I get but meh. The pump is a pain and she’s fine so not gonna sweat it.
And here’s the belly photo (9 weeks. NO REALLY):
AND THE LITTLE GREEN OLIVE BABY :)
So this is this our first official weekly baby baking update. Week 5. We’ve known officially about Cinco de Babio (that’s fifth baby in the Spanish I just made up, no disrespect to people who ACTUALLY speak Spanish intended) for about 10 days now. We had our first VERY faint positive test on July 8 which is about 15 minutes after implantation happened probably but in reality I knew the week before that because I just *felt* pregnant. I know people say you can’t *feel* pregnant before implantation happens but I’m here to tell you that’s an out and out lie. Because I did. And the funny thing is I’ve never really *felt* pregnant so early before. Anyway I’m going to rough this whole thing out as I go so feel free to ask me if you want something included I’m not telling you about. I am going to do weekly updates BECAUSE I want to have them for me later. So if this is ultra mega lame to you. Skip it. It’s all good.
Weight: 183 POUNDS ( YES. That’s my real weight. I am not trying to hide what I weigh. I don’t know why people even CARE. It’s just a goddang number anyway and my 183 might be someone else’s 210 or 160 so whatever. I am writing it here because I want to keep my gain UNDER 20 pounds. I’m going to try. Because I don’t really want to have another 10 and a half pound baby. So being careful. Very careful.)
Waist (at belly button): 36 INCHES (note: this is what my waist measurement was at 12 weeks with Ella and I was SHOWING. So yeah. I’m chubby. It’s fine. When she was born it was about 50″)
Total weight gain: Zero
Average number of times I get up to pee per night: 2
Other pregnancy related crap:
Emotional crap: I’m cranky. Just ask my husband. Probably because of the complete lack of sleep. Also I am crying. Like constantly. And suddenly my children’s every move is amazing to me. Mostly.
Physical crap: Bloated (yay). I am five weeks pregnant. I look five months. No nausea really, just some indigestion. EX.HAUS.TED. So tired. Ridiculous. It doesn’t help I’m up with Ella and can’t seem to manage a nap. Like ever. Sigh.
What I want to devour: Nothing special. Eating lots of tomatoes and mozz and basil and oilve oil. Yum.
What makes me want to hurl: No aversions. Yet. Hoping this means maybe a not so sick pregnancy. Though it’s still veeery early. I was feeling sick with Ella by now. KNOCK.ON.WOOD.
Activity: Walking 2.5-3 miles 3-4 times a week (45 minutes) when the Mister is away at work. Also yoga. We ride our bikes in the evening when the Mister is home (and I ride alone when I feel up to it). I rode my bike when I was pregnant with Ella up until 7 or 8 ish months.
Boy? Or girl?: I’m going with boy. But I give myself until week 9 to make my final determination. I’ve been right 5 times thus far. So I’m due to be wrong.
Names: We have some picked out. Not sharing yet. hehe.
In other news: I hate pants. And pretty much anything with a waistband. Pretty typical for me.
Tandem nursing update (talking about boobs. you may skip):
I’m amending this post to include a tandem nursing update (or pregnant nursing as it were). Here’s how it’s going. Initially I thought I had a supply drop. Some moms describe this as being the way they realized they were pregnant. Last week Ella became fussy at the breast and would latch on and then immediately cry and let go refusing to nurse (she still does this periodically). After some period of this (2 minutes?) she would finally give in and nurse fitfully. Cry.. Nurse. Cry. I was WORRIED. But I’ve concluded that this is probably more teething than anything and possibly a slight change in milk flavor (it seems saltier and yes I tasted it to find out). Anyway my supply is abundant. I can easily express milk and she was spitting up last week which she NEVER DOES (again the salt?). Anyway this is the thing that concerns me the VERY MOST. Not having milk. I can deal with pain and discomfort but if I don’t have milk then it’s irrelevant. And what about pain? Well I’m very happy to report that the typical VERY sore donotlookdonottouchdonotcomenearme nipples have not happened. I also did not have any soreness when I was nursing Sean during my pregnancy with Owen (but we stopped at the end of the first trimester because he was 16 months and ready to wean anyway and my OB made me paranoid. NOTE: DO NOT LET YOUR OB MAKE YOU PARANOID. THEY DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING. The end. ) and actually did not have soreness when I was pregnant with Sean either (horrible with Kelsey and Ella though). I can make two possible conclusions either 1. my nipples are more sore with a girl or 2. First pregnancy (or having a big gap between) makes for sore boobs. One of those. Anyway this is all a long way of saying, it’s going just fine. Thankfully.
Finally, the weekly photo:
I’m not showing. I’m just chubby. Thanks.
This is one of those serious times. I tell you this in advance because you don’t always expect serious from me but you’re about to get it, so I feel like you deserve a warning. Maybe because I’m pregnant and a little *ahem* moody or maybe just because. Anyway my friend Erin and I had a brief but very meaningful discussion about birth yesterday evening which prompted the writing of this blog post almost entirely in my head in about 5 minutes. Sometimes things flow like that and when they do, they should be written.
First… Facts: I am a RN (though not currently practicing). I worked labor and delivery as doula, then an intern and finally a RN for almost 5 years before I left for Hospice (that’s a whole OTHER blog post). I am also a homebirther but I have not always been.
I get asked two things fairly often 1. Why, if I love birth so much did I leave L&D? and 2. Why would I have a homebirth, because I’m a nurse and I should know better?
The two simple answers are these 1. I got tired of doing things TO people instead of for them and 2. (this one is in two parts) A. I like my house and B. I didn’t think I could get the birth I wanted in a hospital.
Now I am going to put on my flame retardant suit. Be right back.
While I’m gone look at newborn Ella…
Isn’t she CUTE? Yeah. I know. I made her. ALL TEN AND A HALF POUNDS OF HER.
I am about to say something that has been said by bloggers before me, and will be said again after me and something for which many of you may not, shall we say, like me. I am qualified to make this statement for one reason alone, because I have given birth, both naturally and not naturally, both in a hospital and in my home, both with the help of a doctor and without. Because I am a mother and woman, who has given birth. Four times.
We are doing it wrong.
Yes, I said it. You heard me right.
We are all a mess in this country and we are making things WORSE.
I worked L&D for roughly 5 years in a hospital that did about 4,000 deliveries a year and in that time I saw some beautiful births. Some were medicated, some induced, some even C-section (GASP). A HANDFUL of truly lovely births. But the rest, well the rest were what I like to call, McDonalds mentality deliveries. You can use your imagination there and picture getting your extra large 44 ounce diet coke in the drive thru while you’re in labor, but I’ll explain to you what I mean. It looked something like this… Mom comes in 39 (or 38 or 41) weeks pregnant. She is TIRED. She is HUGE. She wants this baby OUT. She JUST CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE (been there ladies? Yeah. We’ve all been there.) Her well meaning, lawsuit conscious physician has agreed to induce her because well the baby is probably getting too big anyway or her placenta probably isn’t functioning that well. So he does. She gets the cytotec or the cervidil or the pitocin and about 5 minutes later she’s had all she can take. She stuck in bed, strapped to a monitor and she is DONE. She hits the call button. I want an EPIDURAL NOW. I call the anesthesiologist. Two minutes later her husband walks out, “She can’t take it. Did you call? CAN YOU CALL NOW PLEASE I THINK SHE IS GOING TO KILL ME. Please fortheloveofgod (tone of begging).” The anesthesiologist administers the epidural and she kisses him square on the mouth and goes to sleep. She says, “wake me up when it’s time to push.” And I watch the monitor. I watch for fetal heart rate decelerations and the tell tale deep V that says baby’s head is getting compressed and it’s probably time to push. I check her. Sure enough, 10 cm. She can’t feel her legs and she doesn’t want to. So we push, numb. Sometimes for hours and hours until we finally see some hair. Sometimes for not too long before she gets a section. Sometimes the baby pops right out into my hands before the doc arrives (more often than you’d think actually). So the baby is out. It doesn’t matter how it got that way or at what price as long as it’s “healthy” and mom and baby are doing “fine”. Her miserable pregnancy is over. The awful horrible terrible labor experience is over. Her baby is in her arms and she almost slept through it. But thank god. It’s OVER.
People don’t like when I liken the American birth experience to eating at McDonalds. But the fact is folks, we are, in large part, a fast food nation. And this mentality is trickling into our births. As fast as you can say two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun our births are becoming a managed experience, not just an experienced experience. People can control everything around them from the temperature of their house to what brand of jeans they buy. And why should birth be different? We want it fast, painless, timely. We want under our control. We want it how WE WANT IT. Have it your way. And all that.
Here’s the problem, and where things get a little sticky, it’s not MEANT to be controlled. In fact, I daresay, most of the time it functions best when left alone. Yep. I said it.
Now, before you start drafting your hate response, let me again say I have seen beautiful epidural births (and induced births and even c-sections). Births where mom was present and involved and asking questions and being informed. Not merely a passive participant in something happening TO her but rather an active participant in something she is doing. She does not lie silently waiting for it to be over. She does not ask to be left alone or tell the nurse to “just get the baby out.” Instead she stays in tune with her body and baby. She feels what she can. And she processes it. That all being said, if you’re asking my opinion, which I realize you are NOT, I’ll also say I don’t recommend an epidural. At all. And it’s not because my births weren’t painful, because of course they were. It’s because I’ve had one. And I’ve done it the other way and I promise you, you’re better off without it. Scouts honor. Better off. Moving on.
The McDonalds mentality is spilling folks. And it’s scary. It’s spilling into every.single.facet of our lives. Fast food. Fast birth. Easy out. Path of least resistance. Quickest result. And this is a DANGEROUS prospect for our nation and our world. When we start approaching life this way, from birth to death and every thing in between, we are shortchanging ourselves. The body, whether you believe it to be an instrument of grand design or a product of millions of years of evolution, is SMART. It does things for a reason. Why did it take my 10 and a half pound baby hours and hours to be born, when it was my fourth birth and should have been the fastest? Well because MY BODY was finding a way to get that huge baby down and out. Whether we want to believe it or not our bodies have a plan. And if we don’t screw with it, usually the plan is pretty smart. When we start ordering it to be quicker, easier, painless, we are asking it to REVOLT. We are, for all intents and purposes, telling it to show us just who is boss after all.
It wins. Because it is boss. You cannot fast food drive thru your way out of birth. It’s a bad idea. And I don’t think we’ve even realized the depths of just how bad it is. I don’t know how long it will take us to fully grasp all the ways we may be screwing things up by not letting nature takes it’s course. A baby KNOWS when it should be born. The BABY. Not your OB. Not you. Not your mother in law or your great auntie or some lady at the grocery store. YOUR BABY. And pain? Well hey here’s something, maybe pain exists for a REASON TOO. WHaaaaaat? Yeah I said it. I could get all physiological on you and start talking about dopamine and endorphins but suffice it to say, PAIN HAS A PURPOSE. No lie.
The other thing about the McDonalds mentality is where does it stop? We want our births easy? We want raising kids to be easy? We want our jobs to be easy? Housework to be easy? What should be hard? Should ANYTHING be hard?
Here’s something… things aren’t always MEANT to be easy. They just aren’t. The best things in life are worth fighting for and usually take some WORK. Sometimes a LOT of work. Birth is no exception. It’s hard for a reason.
It’s hard because the hard work of growing and nurturing the unborn and the work of bringing that being earthside is meant to be preparation. Because motherhood is, ohmigawd I can’t believe it, HARD. Like really really hard. And being a good mother? You can’t get that in a drive thru. You just can’t. And you shouldn’t try.
birth , homebirth , labor , serious stuff , Uncategorized
Woe. Is. Me.
Before animal lovers all over the world unite to flame me to my internet death, let me say, I too am a lover of animals. At one time in my life I even thought I’d be a veterinarian. But that day is long, looong gone. I have reached my capacity for animal love. Let’s review: my contempt for the cat. And now…
Milo is a dog. He is a Boston Terrier as far as I can tell. Or part Boston, part sweet, part pain in the hiney, if that breed exists. We found him. On the road. In the country. No one claimed him, and he seemed alright, cute even, so we kept him.
Mistake number 2.
Mistake number 1 was getting the other dog. Lucy. If you haven’t see the Man’s blog about her. I’m not even going into it. I can’t bear it.
Anyway we kept him. We had him fixed and all that jazz. Got him chipped. Cause we’s responsible pet owners. Yes we are. Or we like to think so anyway. *pat pat on the back*
Well Milo has a bit of a complex. He’s little. But he doesn’t know. Also he doesn’t know when a much bigger dog can WHIP HIS ASS. So he fights. Over everyathang. Food. Toys. Balls. Name it. He is up in Lucy’s face. She’s going to eat him eventually. Because of this we decided that Milo would be better off inside.
I see now why Milo was in the middle of a country road. It’s becoming very clear.
In addition to thinking he’s a Great Dane, Milo pees. Every time he gets excited. So he pees on the floor. On people. And frequently on himself.
And he poops. Usually outside. But not always.
The day after Milo came inside I noticed he was scratching. WITH RECKLESS ABANDON. Then the hair. All. Over. The. Place. The couch. The floor. Ella’s mouth. In my FOOD.
I swept FIVE TIMES. IN ONE DAY. And I vacuumed. Twice. And my vacuum sucks. Or actually it doesn’t, so that’s another problem altogether.
Then I realized (and it took me a while because I like to live in a place called Denial). CRAPTASTIC. He’s not just scratching and shedding. He’ sick. And I KNOW you’re supposed to feel bad for creatures that are helpless. Like babies and DOGS. I knooooow. But ARGH. WE FOUND THIS DOG ON THE STREET. Babies are cute.
Milo is a scabby snorting snoring balding mess of stench and annoyance.
And I have to take him to the vet. Because I’m a responsible pet owner. And before he was a scrabby snorting snoring balding mess of stench and annoyance he was kind of cute.
You know, like before I ate his hair for breakfast.
And the vet smells. Like bleach. And other stinky dogs. I don’t like it.
Thank you in advance for your time and commiseration.
In pet owning misery,