Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Happy Birthday, Baby Boy!

Owen is one! I can't believe it. A year ago yesterday I was in the hospital being cut open. Now I have a little walking, talking (albeit in his own incomprehensible language) little guy. A year ago I was absolutely terrified of having another kid around - I had no idea how I was going to deal with two when I could barely handle the one I already had. Now, I feel like a relatively competent mom (most of the time) and have chilled WAY out. In our family, two kids are definitely better than one.

We didn't do anything special for his birthday yesterday, since he has no idea what a birthday even is, but we'll probably party this weekend with the family while we're doing Easter stuff. Bill's family really does up the holidays, and Easter is no exception! I'm looking forward to gorging myself on piles of chocolate. My diet has pretty much gone to hell recently anyway, so I've got nothing to lose.

Now, you guys, if you've been reading my blog for any length of time, know I'm an avid supporter and promoter of breastfeeding. A friend of mine had a horrifying experience at Fred Meyer last week, and I wanted to let you all know that FM is NOT a breastfeeding-friendly place, at least in the Pacific NW. My friend had stopped in to the FM near her house to pick up some rice for dinner and let her daughter blow off some steam in the play area. Her son (who is a couple months old), who had just been nursed to avoid having to nurse again in the store, decided he needed to eat NOW. So she sat on a bench outside the play area and started to feed him. He was sort of fussy and squirmy, so she had to fight him a bit to get him latched on, but then he settled down to nurse.

A few minutes later, the district manager came over to her and told her that she needed to be more discreet and that some other customers had been complaining. She was, of course, totally embarassed. She told him she was within her rights, since by Oregon law breastfeeding in public is protected, and he told her to cover up with a blanket or something. She later called the store to get the phone number of a higher-up in order to complain. She eventually got in touch with Fred Meyer's regional manager (I think that's what his title was), he basically told her the same thing - it's fine if you breastfeed in our store, but you need to be as discreet as possible.

Now, I'm all for discretion, and I certainly try to be as discreet as possible when nursing in public, but when you have a cranky baby who needs to eat NOW, it's not always possible. Covering up with a blanket isn't always possible because some babies, especially cranky ones, won't tolerate it. Going someplace else to feed your baby isn't always an option, and women should NOT be forced to do it in a bathroom (grosser than gross) or in the car.

I am continually irritated by the fact that breastfeeding is seen as something perverted or at all sexual. Anyone who's done it knows that it has NOTHING to do with sex. This is the purpose that God (or Mother Nature) intended for breasts. Just because this society has some weird hang-up about them doesn't mean that nursing mothers, who are doing what's best for their babies, should be punished. Ladies, let's take back our breasts! As for people who are bothered by women breastfeeding, I say this - don't look! I find it so ironic that a society who is entertained nightly by all manners of gory death (CSI, Law & Order, the evening news) can be so troubled by a nipple. I think our values are a bit out of line.

It's funny, because since I've moved to Portland I've become friends with a circle of women who are all very like-minded. It's easy to get lulled into complacency - to think that everyone around here thinks like we do. I was thinking about this last night in relation to my births. I had both my kids by c-section - the first was an unplanned c-sec due to "failure to progress". The second was elective, because I didn't want to try for a VBAC and end up back in the operating room after hours of labor. I was also a little bit afraid to try a normal delivery. At least with another c-section I knew exactly what to expect.

There are several pregnant women in our group and so when we're together, the conversation often turns to delivery. Quite a few of them had natural births, and I always feel a little bit like the odd man out with my two extremely medical births. When I was living in California, I was around a completely different kind of people, and I never really considered a natural birth. I was all about the epidural, as soon as I could get it. My doctor induced me two days after my due date (her idea) and I got my epidural very early. I labored (painlessly, for the most part) for about 32 hours before I agreed to a c-section. I had been stuck at 8 cm for 8 hours and the doctor didn't think it was going to change since Sydney wasn't descending at all. I often wonder how things would've gone if I'd been living up here, surrounded by my natural birth-advocate friends. I also wonder if I was having Owen now instead of a year ago, after we'd just moved here, if I would've tried for a VBAC. It's hard to say for sure, but I'm guessing I would've.

It's funny how motherhood can be so cliqueish sometimes. Like if you're into natural mothering, you need to do a specific list of things in order to avoid poseur status - use cloth diapers that you was yourself, delay or avoid vaccination, have a natural birth (preferably at home or in a birthing center), make your own baby food, breastfeed, co-sleep, use a sling (preferably a Maya wrap), etc. etc. I do a few of those things, but we use a diaper service, I'm a strong advocate of vaccination, and I am quite happy to use the jarred baby food (although I do try to buy Earth's Best or some other organic brand). But I think it's the way I had my kids that most often makes me feel like I'm outside the inner circle. I bet moms who bottle feed feel the same way...

Okay, I'm off my box. I've got some more submissions to get out (this time to Big Girl Knits 2), and I think they're pretty darn good. It feels like I keep getting better and better with each batch.

Oh, did y'all notice that the new Knitty is up? Take a look at Jamesey. Look familiar? I got all depressed when I saw this, because I know if I would've sent Winter Branches to Amy she would've sent it right back... Sigh. I shouldn't let it get to me, but I can't help it. Now that I've conquered Interweave Knits, Amy Singer is alone in my sights! She will be mine. Oh, yes. She will be mine. I sent my little pattern off to her for Summer Knitty. It hasn't come back yet, so I'm hoping that's a good sign. If she doesn't want it, I'm going to offer it for sale myself. I think it's pretty darn good, and hopefully, you guys will, too!


Blogger Acornbud said...

Wow, one year already. It's amazing what a little food, water and love can do!

11:29 AM  
Blogger Jenni said...

My mom works for Fred's. Which one did the incident-in-question occur at? I'm gonna make her get in touch with whoever she needs to. Also, can you tell me who exactly she talked to that had this "title"? My email is jenknitter AT gmail DOT com.

11:35 AM  
Blogger Bitterknitter said...

I thought exactly the same thing when I saw Jamesy. Weird.

As for the BF story. Well, that just makes me so angry when stuff like that happens. And, in my NSHO, throwing a blanket over your baby while they eat is anything BUT discreet! It's uncomfortable for the little one and you might as well hang a sign around your neck, "I'm doing what's best for my baby, but I'm worried what you strangers might think!" No woman should have to put up with that! (putting soap box away, for now)

Happy Birthday, Owen!


11:48 AM  
Blogger msubulldog said...

I am just horrified at Fred Meyer's reaction! Shame on them. :(

Happy Birthday, Owen!

And I have to admit I get a little fluttery when I think that you're going to be in IK. That's sooooo awesome!

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Michelle said...

Happy birthday, Owen! My baby is going to be one next Tuesday... how on *earth* did this happen?! Have a great time celebrating and eating chocolate with abandon!

12:04 PM  
Blogger Sonya said...

Happy birthday, Owen! You're completely right about society's wacked out priorities. I have a mental picture of a store manager telling a breastfeeder to be more discrete and the breastfeeder exposing both breasts and sticking her tongue out at the guy. Get over the boobie fascination, people!

12:23 PM  
Blogger keohinani said...

happy birthday, OWEN!!!! That is one cutie patootie!
i'm nowhere close to thinking about motherhood, so any time you post about motherhood issues, it gives me a lot to think about. i'm glad you put them out there like that.
i think those fred meyer employees have the wrong idea about breastfeeding, and i think they could have handled it better.
i also think knitty could use some better designs. her taste in designs has a certain peculiarity to it. i don't like what i've been seeing lately and i'm rather disappointed. then again, it's a free online publication so you can only get lucky so often.
keep on keepin' on, knittin' designer mom! in life, scarcely are we able to relish in simple joys: free time to ourselves, a bit o' chocolate, and lots o' knitting. enjoy it when you can :)
oh, that reminds me! i have to send you a picture of something you're going to get in the mail soon ;) hehehe....

12:35 PM  
Blogger Erica said...

I've heard people complain about seeing breastfeeding and I try to instill in them that it is natural function of motherhood, not a sexual thing. And I don't care if the mother is "modest" about it or not. After all, modesty is in the eye of the beholder. One woman's v-neck top is another's porn. What is considered sexual varies from culture to culture, person to person, region to region. Most of the people in the world don't have a boobie hang-up. It's mostly an American thing.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Mama -E said...

Happy B'day Owen!

1:03 PM  
Blogger Christy said...

Owen and I share a birthday! Happy birthday to the little guy.

I know what you mean about birth stories and cliques. I have two kids but they were adopted so I have no labor story and they were both bottle fed. Oh, the horror! I think a lot of moms need to realize that there is no RIGHT way to raise (or birth) a child. We all need to get over ourselves (including those against BF in public) and just raise great kids.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Grauwal said...

A few weeks ago I had rambled about my thoughts on breastfeeding in public on my blog (alas in German)and it was along the same lines. To me as European it feels VERY weird having to hide your breastfeeding baby under a blanket (which is why I don't do it, wouldn't the poor thing get some kind of unhealthy association from that?). I try to be as discreet as possible and most of the times people don't even notice what I am doing. Being selfconfident about your right to do this helps. I don't know what I would do if I had a negative experience, but I surely would take it as far as I could. It's not only your right but it is also more natural than most brutality you see on TV and no one thinks that the TV program should be more discreet (except when it comes to women's breasts). I guess I better stop before I take up all bandwidth with the obvious.
Have a great day.

1:16 PM  
Anonymous jillian said...

Happy birthday big (little) guy!

I'm glad to know that at least breastfeeding in public is a known and supported right in OR, but it is still bass ackwards to treat it like it is perverted (at worst) or impolite (at best).

1:35 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

I BF my son, who will be 21 in July, and when people would "drop by" to visit us and see him, my husband wanted me to go to a different room so our company wouldn't see. I refused to do that, it was my house and I didn't invite them to come over. Big fights over that, not much support in my own house.
Happy Birthday Owen, my daughter turned 16 the same day. And went on her first official "date" today. It's funny, her boyfriend has the same birthday too.

1:38 PM  
Anonymous jillian said...

Oh yeah - I meant to mention also that while i did like the Jamesey design, overall this issue was not great. Singer's taste does seem to get more and more focused, and it excludes more and more other tastes, both in what she accepts as patterns and what is available for knitters to do. That's her problem, and shortsightedness, in my opinion. I wouldn't take it too personally, you're in great company with all the other publications that have had to good sense to accept you.

1:39 PM  
Blogger Katrina said...

I had to laugh while reading your post because I was nursing while reading it (we have to multitask, you know!). I always wondered why the big debate about whether or not to get an epidural. There's no trophy waiting in the nurse's station if you go through labor without one. Even if there had been a trophy, I would have passed on that one. Why be in pain if you don't have to be? Should people be made to feel bad for getting novocain at the dentist office as well?

Happy birthday to your little guy.

2:20 PM  
Blogger Katrina said...

By the way, I much prefer the design of Winter Branches to Jamesey's. I'm knitting up Winter Branches right now and really enjoying it. (progress pictures are on my blog if you want to see). I'm looking forward to your upcoming patterns.

3:11 PM  
Blogger shetha said...

You know what? You and I could go on for hours I think about that feeling you have about jamesey. Although I never submitted the design, convertible is exactly like an idea that I had, knit, wrote up, and even gave to knit/purl to publish. Even down to the back to back buttons. Add to that the lace pattern is off by one YO/K2tog per rep. Otherwise the same. I was pretty depressed when I saw that... Oh and I probably haven't mentioned but I'm ummmm 3.5 months along w/ my second pregnancy and a fellow breastfeeding advocate. I'm so bothered to hear about your friend's story. Sounds like a nurse-in opportunity to me!!! Although I'm not nursing my nearly 3 son, if we schedule it for October I'm ready to go!!!

3:29 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Happy Birthday Owen! I'm sorry about your friend's experience, I have been lucky to never have a problem BF in public. I would cover under her with a blanket instead of putting it over her and people didn't even realize I was BFing. I was lucky also to have lots of family support, my husband especially. I would BF my kids wherever and whenever and no one ever said anything to me. I can't believe that guy had the nerve to say something to your friend!

And about Knitty, I wouldn't worry about it. I didn't like anything in this issue. Try not to take it too personally either, I'm sure she gets lots of submissions and if you keep trying she'll like something!

3:36 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I had an unmedicated vaginal birth with my son, and a medicated vaginal birth with my daughter. I bottle fed both due to some milk issues. I've experience what you are talking about in terms of cliques. It continues as they get older as to who sent their kids to daycare, what kind of activities the kids do etc. It's annoying. I just look at it as, hey, my kids are happy, healthy. I try not to get into the comparisons, cliquish thing.

Happy Birthday Owen! Good luck with Knitty too. I've also submitted again. I'm not expecting anything. You have more of a chance than I do, I think. I figure just keep on trying.

3:37 PM  
Blogger NorCalKnitter said...

You go girl! As an nurse who works in OB and in a clinic with pregnant women, I couldn't agree with you more. Breastfeeding mothers shouldn't be made to feel that they are doing something shameful when they breastfeed in public. They should be applauded for providing the best possible/perfect nutrition for their babies. I see so many women who have quit breastfeeding by the time their babies are 6 weeks old, and I believe alot of it has to do with how unsupportive society is towards breastfeeding (and the fact that so many women have to go back to work right after they have their babies). Now look who's on their soap box!

Happy Birthday to Owen, he sure is a cutey pie.

6:52 PM  
Blogger Me said...

Happy Birthday, Owen!

Shame on that restaurant chain!!!!


My big advantage here in France is that so few people breastfeed, most people don't know that I'm nursing when they see me... And then people are a bit more relaxed about showing body parts here than in the US. We'll see how it goes this summer, with a 2 1/2 year old in New England and in BC, Canada... However, I should be able to restrain nursing to breakfast and nighttime... and hope to be somewhere I feel at ease at those moments.

1:45 AM  
Anonymous AdventureDad said...

This is a hot topic and you will certainly find many different opinions on it depending on what country you live in. I'm a huge supporter of womans right and breastfeeding. But I also respect the ones who don't want to breastfeed. We breastfed the recommended twelve months here in Sweden and have (luckily?) never had any problems with breastfeeding in public. I can tell you that if your friends incident would have happened here in Sweden the store would have daced HUGE problems and it would likely have been all over the papers. The atmosphere is moden and unbelievably family friendly. Some large stores, like IKEA, have separate rooms where mothers can breastfeed (of fathers give tehm the bottle). Not to keep them aways from the public but to give them a calm and quiet place to feed their child

I would definitely give this some more publicity and try to boycott the store. We have traveled A LOT with our son during his first two years and breastfed him everywhere during his frist year. Places like Trump Tower and Grand Central station in NYC, and also all over Mexico where they are also a bit more paranoid over boobs. Never a problem. But my wife has always tried to be a little discrete. She usually didn't stick her boobs in someone elses face and usually put a small blanket on top while feeding to be a little discrete and give our son some piece and quiet.

If you have lived in other countries or traveled a lot you would realize that US is very far behind in making the society equal for women and men. Sadly most Americans haven't traveled so it's kind of a problem. This stuff shouldn't happen is a modern society.


3:51 AM  
Blogger mamma said...

Nothing makes me angrier than Mommy cliques. There are a million ways to lovingly raise a child and all of them are right. Sure in most situations breast is best (I bf all three of my kids, unashamed in public) but my sister had a breast reduction when she was 16, her breasts were so big she had major back problems at 16. But as a result they cut most of her milk ducts and she couldn't breast feed. Does that make her less of a mother? Of course not. Are you less of a mother for having a cesarean? Of course not. Natural, epidurals, cesareans, adoptions they are all means to an end, a baby. They're all valid ways to get there. I get so aggrivated with people who think there is only one way to live and look down on those who chose a different path to the same goal.

Sorry, I'm climbing down off my soapbox.

Can I just chime in on Knitty. The patterns have been getting stranger and stranger since the knitted womb. I'm not sure if Amy just has odd taste or is deliberately trying to set herself apart from more mainstream publications. She is rejecting your patterns because they are good and someone might actually want to knit them. Don't let her get you down.

I'm late on this, but if you need a test knitter, please add me to your list of candidates.

6:16 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Wow, Chrissy, thanks for posting my story here and thanks to everyone who sent such supportive comments. I've always been an unabashed breastfeeding mom, but I was so upset after this incident that I wasn't sure I'd bf in public again, at least not anyplace where I wasn't absolutely positive I would be welcome to do so (in fact, the day after, I went to Milagros specifically to nurse because I knew there'd be a comfy chair and welcoming atmosphere awaiting us). All the support I've gotten this last week, from friends and strangers alike, has helped me tremendously.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Chris said...


9:41 AM  
Blogger Erica said...

Let me know if you decide to have a nurse-in or picket. Of course I don't breastfeed (no kids) but I would show up and hold a sign, chant or whatever you want to do. I'm still aggravated over this. It is totally unacceptable behavior. The reply from management was condescending, too.
I really feel that women's rights are getting trampled here. If we don't stand up for them, who will?

12:42 PM  
Blogger candsmom said...

Happy Birthday to little (big boy!) Owen!! What a sweetie- I can't believe he's one already! I feel like we've all watched him go from a baby to toddlerhood right before our eyes. And I could probably go on for pages and pages about what you wrote about mommy cliques, but you are absolutely right!! Why can't we all just get along?! We're all just doing the best we can with what we can, and as long as our children are happy and healthy, I don't think there's any right or wrong of birthing, feeding or raising a child. Happy Birthday, again to sweet Owen!! Take care, Chrissy! :-)

12:58 PM  
Blogger amylovie said...

I'll keep my fingers crossed for you re: Knitty. I definitely see it in your cards.


2:06 AM  

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