Via Associated Press
As I write this*, I’m taking note of the tornado warnings that have made my phone beep seemingly every hour for the past few days. The sound of rain pelting the windows. Bayous and reservoirs cresting over. I’m watching friends’ and neighbors’ homes flood in real time. Reading about pleas for rescue as families seek refuge from rising water in their attics and on their roofs. You could say things are out of control.
Amid all of this, babies still need to eat. Newborn babies who took their first breath at a Houston area birth center after tropical storm Harvey made landfall. Older babies who nurse around the clock or drink expressed or powdered milk or formula supplements.
The stores are closed and roads are crumbling or underwater. Formula is now largely inaccessible. But babies still need to eat.
Pumping moms need to continue pumping to avoid mastitis, supply issues, and maintain production. What about when the power goes out? Or when the house floods and the circuit board must be shut off? Hopefully they have a manual pump or have been taught how to hand express… because babies still need to eat.
New mothers, welcomed into motherhood with all the terrific drama Mother Nature herself could muster: I hope you have a (relatively) easy time getting started. The well-trained eye of a lactation consultant in your home, personally assessing latch and other tricky spots, cannot compare to scouring the internet for emergency breastfeeding help in the early days. But no one is risking travel across town for ‘work’ in a deluge. A lucky mother has her phone fully charged and ready to go with breastfeeding apps right now because, of course, babies still need to eat.
*(Flood waters have since receded from my neighborhood and we’re doing fine now. However, eleven million people in the southeast counties of Texas are still trying to get a grip on the continued consequences of this historic flooding). Continue reading
A white truck slowed as it rolled by. The same driver swung back around three more times, honking with each pass. This was no coincidence or deja vu.
One of us carried an oversized white posterboard with the words “Honk if you ❤ foreskin” drawn across both sides.
The other eight of us fulfilled some task related to our cause — hoisting other signs, hauling info cards and materials to distribute, capturing the proceedings on camera, or merely accompanying for purpose of solidarity or, in the case of one individual, by chance meeting. Continue reading
Image courtesy Saving Our Sons
Here we gathered, sixty four of us. All affected by circumcision in one way or another, the lucky among us protected from the worst of its damage. Sixty four of us prepared to deliver the message that natural bodies are normal, healthy, and beneficial; to leave the alteration for medical necessity or personal consent.
We were here for Genital Integrity Awareness Week — which, in the great fortune of the 2017 calendar — happened to fall on the same week that female genital cutting was outlawed in the U.S. twenty years ago.
For the past two decades, baby girls have been protected from threat to their genital integrity, but their brothers, sons, nephews and grandsons are still routinely cut in barbaric fashion. Some die, and the rest bear the telltale scar forever.
Image courtesy Saving Our Sons
In case you missed them, here are the ten most popular posts published in 2016 on Mama’s Milk, No Chaser.
It was perhaps the first beautiful day of the season and hardly anyone showed up. The morning was slow, and though I was grateful to spend a few hours outside without nearly fainting from the usually oppressive Texas heat, we had come here to talk to people… a lot of people.
The turnout did remain slight all day, but the conversations we had were meaningful. Even those who seemed to think they had no personal history with circumcision certainly had plenty to say… or plenty left unsaid, for now.
At the end of the day, though I did feel somewhat frustrated, confused and deflated, I walked away feeling mostly just thankful. The best part is, I know I wasn’t the only one.
The power of transformation is an inherent gift of woman. The spider, snake, and butterfly are just a few of many creatures regarded as manifestations of feminine energy and universal symbols of shape-shifting. A master of creation, woman’s body is the original 3D printer. When she nurses a child, as Mark Twain once said, “she has no equal among men.”
Somehow still, many of us know discontent with or hatred for our bodies, whether transient or persistent. What’s worse is we believe it’s normal. Accepted to the point of expectation. This is especially true at the moment we inherit our mothering bodies. Through literally all forms of media and outlets for opinion, we are told before anything else that mothering bodies are not sexy, therefore not valuable, therefore invisible.
It’s a dangerous trajectory for the postpartum woman who is vulnerable, open, and recovering — she is brainwashed to confuse these things with weakness, brokenness, incapability, and decreased desirability. Continue reading
We changed minds last weekend. I actually saw the process happen.
Sometimes like this: a pregnant mother walks up, admits she hasn’t researched circumcision and has no opinion on it, is told there’s no medical indication for routine circumcision, and walks off with her eyes glued to a handful of information she just received.
And sometimes like this: a mother of circumcised boys walks up, her attention caught by “117+ boys die” written on a frame, says “I didn’t know any of this when my boys were born,” is told “I’m so sorry,” and assures us “Don’t be sorry! You are doing a good thing. Tell EVERYONE.”
It was clear our message was supported, even by many of those who were hearing it for the very first time.
We wanted people to know about babies. That all babies want to remain whole. That babies of both sexes are equally “too cute to cut.” We wanted people to know about foreskin. That foreskin is normal. That its absence is a big deal.
We had a message about parents, too. We want to help you. We support you. We have answers.