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Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding Is Obscene – Just Stop

posted by motherhoodrising@gmail.com April 8, 2017 0 comments

“She is a slut”

“She just wants attention”

“That baby is too old to be nursing”

“Whore”

“Gross”

“Yuck”

“I wish I was that baby”

The blank white space beneath a candid photo I captured over a year ago – fills with disgust and a shocking level of misinformation and sexualization. My breasts after all, are on display for the world to see. My private moment with my daughter is now on the internet for all of the monsters to fawn over. I am a horrible mother for wanting to remember this short time in my life spent breastfeeding. My smallest babe – watching me do my hair and makeup – thought she’d help herself to a nurse, by any means necessary. Her chubby legs stretched to their limit as she tries to hang on. It reminded me of when my aunt’s dog would try to step away from her puppies – even with them dangling from her nipple. She was latched and there was no getting away.

I laughed and grabbed my phone.

Purposeful | Breastmilk is liquid gold – pure energy and life. Carrying it around with me for just over four years gave me this feeling. This sureness and feeling of purpose. No matter how dressed I got for the day or whether or not my makeup or hair was done, I always felt useful.
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The cursing and wishing weaning would come as I found myself dealing with hardcore aversion seems so petty as I look back. Though at the time it was so real and so defeating.
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I miss nursing and the daily meditation that came with it. The feeling of purpose and offering my time and energy, always made me feel like I was giving all that I could to them. Transitioning has been more difficult even almost a year after our last nurse.

I would have never guessed this image would not only send men to my inbox – requesting photos of my breasts. But I would receive messages with misogynistic undertones – calling for me to make a sandwich or get back in the kitchen. I’ve grown quite a thick skin over the past months and the comments and messages don’t get much further than the surface, but the shock that this very human – very natural act is still so controversial is worrisome and validating all at once.

I am often asked why I have chosen to be so open with my personal life, my thoughts, and my views on topics that seem to go unspoken about.

My answer?

Because this is how I express myself. This is how I bring attention to issues that mean something to me.

Breastfeeding, birth, sex, body image, suicide, rape, feminism, politics. All of these topics have given me something in my life and others have threatened to take it all away with a single swift and direct punch to the gut.

I remember breastfeeding my daughter in public for the first time. I walked up a flight of stairs, carrying my two week old baby as she screamed and rooted for my breast through a crowded restaurant on a Saturday. The ocean waves crashed at the base of the pier as I fumbled and cried in the women’s bathroom. My swaddle blanket swept the ground as I tried to cover my exposed breast and feed my newborn baby. I didn’t want anyone to see what I was doing, this was private and not something that should be done while everyone around you eats lunch.

My first memory breastfeeding in public was in a bathroom.

Sharing my breastfeeding selfies – gave me a way to tell women who may be struggling in a bathroom at some restaurant on a Saturday – to come out and join us. To not be afraid of what the woman at the table next to you is going to think.

We have to stop living our lives in fear of judgement.

We have to stop comparing ourselves to others.

My feminism and fierce desire to speak up about the things that directly and indirectly impact my life are not going anywhere. I will not apologize for making you uncomfortable.

At some point – we all need a moment of clarity in which we evaluate our views and values and really sit with what they mean. Think about the impact of your words and actions before thrusting them onto someone else’s shoulders.

You don’t know what they could be going through.

I have struggled this past year. My security and foundation of friendship slowly washed away my confidence and even made me question myself and who I am. Whether or not I deserve to have people in my life that care for me and my family.

I’ve arrived at this patch of sunshine and it is beautiful. This sense of balance when the world seems to be melting has given me this new thing called I don’t give a fuck what you think. I will continue to share and write and speak about all of the things that have had some sort of impact on making me the woman I am today.

Why not own it?

I am ok with knowing that not everyone likes me or agrees with me.

I’m ok with it if it helps one woman, just ONE step out of that bathroom stall.

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Milk Is Our Foundation //

posted by motherhoodrising@gmail.com August 3, 2015 0 comments

Eleven months it’s been with Ever. Birdy and I, we almost made it to three years.

All of the hours spent with each of you in my arms, the tears that stained my cheeks as I wept not knowing if I was doing it right, the worry that clouded my mind as I wondered if it was enough or if what I had eaten that day is what caused your tiny belly to ache.

All of it was worth it. It is worth it.

My bare breasts speckled with the rays of the sun as it rises each morning. I leave them out for you, it’s easier that way.unnamed-5You wake and roll toward me, searching for my nipple in the dark. You smell my milk, no sight required. Your instinct and intuition are perfectly in tune with mine, with my body and the distance.

It’s as if you’ve memorized the centimeters from belly button to breast- this makes our moments of wake in the night, short and perfect. You make your way to me and as soon as you begin to drink- we ease back to sleep. Perfect.

Some nights are harder than others. The transition that is. I miss her head nuzzled in close to my chest as you would roll into your father’s arms. I miss her quiet morning voice requesting boob as she sleepily suckles herself back to sleep. I miss our time just her and I. My bird.

Each of you have gotten this though, not sure why this guilt follows. Each of you spent nights wrapped in my arms, eyes heavy and rolling back into your head. Each of you placed fingers in mouth as you inspected teeth and lips. Those early days… These days are the unshakable foundation of our future.

Bonds born before our eyes in sharing this time.

Intertwined finger tips placed between as you shared nursing, without a care. Gazing at one another, learning about your new sister and bonding over mother’s milk. Perfection it was.unnamed-1I lay witness to nature in it’s rawest form all within these walls.

Primal love and family is built here in this place. Surrounding and taking it in, your brothers eager to help in any way. Laughing as their sweet baby sister pulls back and looks up at them with drops of milk on her forehead and milk stained gums. They see this and they know… This is normal. IMG_3249These mornings in the here and the now are a little different than a few short months ago. Big sister contently watching and patting your head as you nurse, though sometimes out of habit she looks up at me with those milky eyes as if asking to nurse one last time.

Comfort, warmth, security in mother’s touch is still found here. She pulls herself up into my bed in the morning, curling up as close as she can. unnamed-3Finding myself down to just one nursling, I can’t help but feel a little sad knowing this is the end for this tiny slice of my motherhood. My breasts will no longer fill with milk as I sleep- right boob full to the brim by eight AM (you always did favor the left).

We will move forward with dance classes, first days of school to last days, and one day I may get to see you hazy eyed and half asleep as you clumsily latch your first babe. No matter your choice, I will be there. Always.

I will cradle only her as she nurses down to bed. We will fade to sleep together night after night until she joins her sister in morning snuggles minus milk. unnamed-2I know the memories remain for her, but I often wonder  for how long they’ll stay. Just as our children grow and change, memories fade.

I hold hope that I will never forget these days- these early years. Foggy mornings slow in pace but never in spirit.

|| This was our last time nursing at the park. I was doing yoga and you came over and asked for milk. I obliged and held you as I did when you were just a babe. ||

Birdy, I had no idea this would be the last time but I am so happy it was savored – no rush.  unnamed

Happy National Breastfeeding Week

– XO Katherine

 

BreastfeedingLifeMotherhoodPersonal

Breastmilk //

posted by motherhoodrising@gmail.com February 12, 2015 0 comments

Breastfeeding is something that consumes most of my day.

“Mommy I want Boob” and whimpers and whines from Ever let me know it is time to stop. Time to stop and breathe, set aside my feelings of aggravation and just be still and calm {Breastmilk magic}. I am often asked if it is easy- nursing two. I will tell you that for me… It is anything but.

Waking up feeling the cool air wrap around my exposed limbs as I look over at Ever sound asleep. Her eyes pop open as if she knows I am awake and my breasts are full of milk just for her. Rolling her plump body towards me while grabbing at my collar letting me know she wants to nurse. This time is ours each morning. Just ours. I spend each minute studying her, running my fingers across her cheek as the side of her mouth draws backward for a smile. She stares into my eyes and reaches toward my face, as if she’s telling me she loves me. Nothing else exists in these moments. Nothing. {Breastmilk magic}

10888608_771596466268701_3012629002905914755_nShortly after we brush the sleep from our eyes as we lay and coo at each other in between swallows- my door cracks open and Birdy rushes in. Her energy filling the room and taking over the silence. Her nursing sessions have been cut down to two and when it is time for her to nurse- she takes it. I feel guilt wash over me as I know she will only nurse this one time before the day begins and not again until we lay in bed to go to sleep. She will ask two or three times throughout the day- with me rarely giving in. My heart hurts with each request as I know how badly she wants time to nurse and cuddle with me, but I know that of us… This is what needs to happen.

 

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How do I gently hold my daughter’s hand and guide her to our next chapter together? When refusing her, how do I do it in a way that doesn’t leave her feeling alone and rejected by me. The way she must feel when I try in vain to distract her and refocus her attention on other things- as she says mommy’s milk over and over again.

I remember sweet Birdy… I remember our time.

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I want you to know that I will never forget when it was just us. When we spent our every free moment wrapped in each other’s arms- taking each other in. You were so tiny not so long ago yet you grow more and more each and every day. No longer requiring constant nourishment but longing for comfort. My arms are always open to you for cuddles and love- I will always be right here when you fall or need an extra long hug before bed. I promise you this, Birdy.

It is ok my sweet little babe. You are growing and will find so many new ways to find comfort – For us, we must move forward. When you walk into the room and I am nursing your sister down for a nap- I want to know that you have come in only to kiss her forehead and to wish her sweet dreams. I want to know my body will no longer tense up in the middle of the day when I know diffusing a tantrum is in my near future. I wish so much that one day you will wake up and decide you no longer need to nurse. For my own selfish reasons I hope that I won’t have to cope with the guilt that comes with each denial.

The bond that you and your sister share because of afternoons spent on the couch- nursing together is unbreakable {Breastmilk Magic}. From the moment you watched your sister come into this world – you have been fiercely loyal and more loving and accepting than I could’ve ever hoped for you to be. I am grateful and completely overwhelmed with pride and love for you.

10685782_708084309286584_3541822239853357579_n16726_715976645164017_6179190644199144328_nMy Birdy, I am here and will never go. 

While my journey is just beginning with my Ever, I will live each day, each moment until it expires. My last baby.

I will give you the time to grow and learn, just as I did your sister. We will continue on this road until it ceases and another begins.

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Who fed me from her gentle breast
And hushed me in her arms to rest,
And on my cheek sweet kisses prest?
My Mother.
-Anne Taylor

 

BirthBirth StoryBreastfeedingDoulaGoddessMotherhood

Our Ever’s Birth

posted by motherhoodrising@gmail.com December 15, 2014 5 Comments

The Mental Birth

Being so in tune with my body and mind during my pregnancy played an incredible part in the day Ever was born. My body giving me signs that birth was near, feeling her wiggle further into my pelvis just before labor began, and feeling confident in my ability was all part of everything aligning perfectly. IMG_5153Once my water had broken and a stronger rhythm came forward I was ready. Wrapping my arms around Ever in a more spiritual sense and bringing her into my arms in the physical world. Visualizing her passing the threshold and my body being capable of this.

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Being in the water eased all of my anxiety and helped me bear the intense pressure I was feeling. I hadn’t wanted a water birth in the beginning. I’m not sure what changed my mind- but once I got in the pool I never left.

Feeling Scott’s warm hand on my belly as I desperately searched for comfort and a way to let go of any tension I was feeling. Knowing he was in the room made me feel so safe and secure. He wouldn’t leave my side. Moments never got lost in the chaos of the day. I remember every second as if it was yesterday and I am so thankful for that.

Seeing so many women give birth in their own way- I know this now… We are all different in so many ways. We feel our pain differently, we don’t all share the same fears and worries, and we all have different reasons for the ways we choose to birth our babies. There is one thing that we should all have in common and that is a CHOICE. We should all be informed and confident in our care giver if we choose to have one. I felt so comfortable and confident with the women that surrounded me throughout my care and during the birth of sweet Ever. I wish that for every woman.

IMG_8081The Technical Birth

|| September 3rd 2014 ||

I woke up still having pretty consistent contractions from the night before. Cramping and an annoying ache in my lower back. I had worries about my labor progressing rapidly and the midwife not making it in time- so I decided to head in and get checked to see if it was the real thing.

I was 3 and 75% effaced yesterday (September 2nd) and was now 4-5 and 80-85% effaced.

2:45 PM – My midwife, Lori, planned to meet me at my house within the next hour or so

At around 3:45 PM my water was broken. Contractions were about 10 minutes apart before this and were not noticeably painful- more annoying and uncomfortable. This changed within the next half an hour.

My birth ball was my BFF for the first half of my more intense labor. I laughed in between the waves trying to keep myself in a happy positive place.

The kids were outside playing with grandma. Letting go of the worry was just what I needed to focus on what was happening within my body. I knew everything was moving and working in harmony to bring Ever into my arms. Once my contractions got to be 3-4 minutes apart… Shit got serious.

I got into the pool and immediately felt at ease. When the kids were inside they were standing guard poolside. I could feel them with me.

the+boysThe boys wanted to experience the birth in completely different ways. Malaki (who was 8) wanted to be front and center, while Junior (10) wanted to take a more “I’ll see the baby once she’s born” approach. During labor they frequently came in to check on me in between playing with Birdy and playing games on the iPad.

Birdy is 2 years old (27 months to be exact) and she knew something was happening with her mama. She was quiet andIMG_4125 observant- never showed worry or fear. She grabbed a wash cloth and wiped my face during some of the toughest moments.She was an incredible doula. There’s something about seeing an instinctual reaction in a child- it’s so primal and so beautiful. I’ll never forget the excitement on her face.

Contractions were 2-3 minutes apart at this point in labor. This is always my weak spot. Transition is no fun for anyone.

Lorri (my midwife) had asked me to move to the other side of the pool so she would have quicker access. Things were moving extremely fast (all of this happened in a little under 3 hours) and she suspected Ever would be coming soon.

Scott had gotten in the pool to support me during my hardest moments. He held me up and he kept me grounded all at once.IMG_4166

 

There’s this overwhelming feeling of not having control over your body at this stage of labor (for me). This was something I knew would come and I prepared everyone for exactly what I would need during this time. I’m so grateful my transitional phase was as calm and quiet as I ended it to be. I never felt afraid or out of control thanks to my amazing birth team.

Encouraging words and support are sometimes all a woman needs.

At 6:41 our Ever Grace made a hasty arrival.

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About two minutes of involuntary pushing brought her earth side. She was covered in vernix and completely beautiful.

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Grandma was excitedly talking in the background, I could hear beautiful words being spoken about her, and the boys came rushing in when my mom yelled that she had been born. Everyone was feeling so happy – Perfectly in tune with me.

She was born into a room full of love.

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During my pregnancy I voiced my fear of postpartum hemorrhage- why was I so fearful of this? I wasn’t in a high risk category, no one in my family had ever experienced this, and I had never experienced this. Having conversations with my midwife about this and making her aware of my fears- helped me push it to the back of my mind.

Shortly after Ever was born, I noticed the water around me was a deep red. As a doula- I know the face of a concerned doctor/midwife. Lorri gave me the look and I knew it was time to get out. My birth team quickly got Ever and I to the couch where I was given a quick shot of pitocin, a bag of fluid, and hard core uterine massage.IMG_4418

Lorri talked to me and kept me calm, I looked into Ever’s eyes and talked to my body inside my head… Telling my uterus to clamp down and stop bleeding. As the intensity of those moments faded- I felt calm and at ease. The bleeding slowed and my uterus was doing what she was supposed to do. Was this women’s intuition at its finest? I believe it was- My body and mind were prepared for this and in being prepared I definitely feel like the situation was brought under control in an incredibly short period of time.

Trust your care provider. This person could have to make decisions that will forever change your life.

After all of the excitement came a sense of calm and peace. We could look at our sweet girl and study her every inch. She was so beautiful and all mine.

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Full Birth Video

I am sharing my story because-

I had my first two children in a hospital with the full spectrum of intervention excluding cesarean. I had an induction with my first at the age of 16. Pitocin followed quickly by an epidural. As soon as my son was born he was taken straight to the warming table and it was a good five minutes before I got to see him and hold him. I remember feeling scared and panicked as I watched everyone touching him and holding him from afar.

My second son came on his own. My water had broken in the middle of the night and I barely made it to the hospital. I was 8cm and asked for an epidural as soon as my doctor came in the room. I had the same feelings of panic and lack of control. Malaki was born and placed on my chest for a short time before being passed around the room.

Fast forward to six years later and an unexpected pregnancy. Our little Bird may have been a surprise- but she changed the course of my life. I watched every birth documentary I could get my hands on. I read every birth book and I wrote my birth plan with unwavering conviction. I knew this birth would be different. I wanted to experience her birth instead of closing my eyes and wishing it to be over. I wanted to be connected to her during the process, I wanted to feel everything. Being on the west coast now and having an OB and hospital that supported my birth wishes was amazing. My entire labor we were left alone unless we asked for something. I compromised and allowed intermittent monitoring and a saline lock while they respected all of my other wishes. Birdy was immediately placed on my belly and wasn’t taken until my husband and I were ok with the newborn exam being started. Her birth opened my eyes to what an incredible experience the process truly is.

This started me on my path to becoming a doula. I took a DONA doula workshop and started my internship at South Coast Midwifery. This was where I witnessed home birth first hand. Can I just say the women that advocate for home birth and birth center birth are incredible. The passion that oozes from them is completely contagious and inspiring. I caught the “birth bug” and have found my passion and calling in life.

Home birth is not for everyone, birth center birth is not for everyone, and hospital birth is not for everyone. My goal is to let women know that they have choices in birth. You can say no to things you don’t want and ask for what you do want. If the hospital doesn’t fit your needs – maybe look for a local birth center or have your baby at home with a midwife. This is about our rights in birth and as women. My hope in sharing my birth is that it will show the other side. Not the medicalized birth that is on tv and in the movies, but birth in its completely unhindered natural state.

Empower, uplift, and spread the word, take back your birth.

Xo Kat

 

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