Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Response to M. Turner

First of all, I want to thank everyone who commented on my previous blog post, on here and on Facebook. It means a lot to me to have so much support. Being a mother is difficult enough as it is without having a good support system cheering you on. So, thank you!

I wanted to quickly respond to a comment left by M. Turner.
I'm totally not trying to be a crazy controversialist and I'm a dude so I might just be weirded out by this whole thing.

But... don't you think that there are a lot of other natural things that are not shameful but are best left in private? I think of husband and wife activities or bathroom habits as two particular examples.

Again, I think your blog emphasizes modesty and discreetness so I am not really opposed to what you are saying. I have just been in a few situations (once on a train ride to Philadelphia and another in a shopping mall) where it seemed that a mother was being totally immodest and awkward.

Please, please, please see my comments as those from a confused husband rather than a criticizing misogynist.
Thanks for commenting and expressing your concern. I don't think you are a misogynist, but I do think you're mistaken in a few areas. You compared breastfeeding to sexual relations between a man and a woman and going to the bathroom to relieve yourself. Breastfeeding is not like either of these things. Take the first example, what a man and woman do in the privacy of their own bedroom is sexual in nature, breastfeeding isn't. Believe me, there is nothing sexual about me feeding my son. My breasts are not sexual objects, they are a tool to keep my son alive by providing him the nutrients that he needs. America has really oversexualized breasts and made them taboo, but I really don't see my breasts as sexual objects. Their main purpose is to feed my son. Now, can they pull double duty and become sexual? Yes. But again, that is not their main purpose. And if we didn't make breasts so taboo, then breastfeeding in public wouldn't be such a big deal. The second example, relieving oneself in the bathroom...well, it's gross. Let's face it, human excrement is just nasty. It smells, it isn't pleasant to look at, it's best left in a toilet and flushed away where no one ever has to see or smell it...ever. There is nothing gross about my baby eating his dinner. As I said in my previous post, if a bottle-fed baby can have his dinner in public then so can a breastfed baby.

I'd like to also mention that being confined to your home because you're breastfeeding your baby can really lead to depression issues. Right now Liam eats about every two hours, like clockwork! That's every two hours from the time he starts! Meaning if he eats at 12, by 2 o'clock he's ready for another round. And it can take anywhere from half an hour to an hour to feed him. That means if he ate at 12 and finished at 1 that leaves me an hour of freedom before he's back at the breast. An hour is not enough time to go to the grocery store or have lunch with friends. What am I supposed to do? Become a hermit? As I mentioned above, being a mother is hard, especially when you're new to the game, being stuck at home can only fuel feelings of loneliness and desperation, which isn't healthy for anyone. The mother suffers, the baby suffers, and the spouse will also suffer.

Maybe if more public places were more accommodating to nursing mothers, providing a nice space to feed your baby, I could understand...but most places don't have much more than a public restroom to offer. And I'm sorry, but we all know public restrooms are disgusting. I barely want to take my baby in there to change his diaper, much less feed him!

Again, thank you for your comment, M. Turner. I hope my response has helped to change your mind about breastfeeding a little bit...and if it hasnt then all I can say is, next time you're on the train and a woman takes her breast out to feed her hungry baby, just look away (and I mean that in the nicest way possible). I guarantee you that she doesn't want to be stared at. She doesn't even want to make a political statement. She just wants to make sure her baby isnt starving and wants to give him the best nutrition possible. And if that means that she must courageously expose her breast and be ridiculed and judged for it, so be it. But baby comes first. And if baby wants the boob, baby gets the boob. :-)

Also, thank you to Jenni for her words of wisdom on the matter...check out her comment in my previous post for her perspective.

11 comments:

Keepin' up with the Joneses... said...

I also think the weirdness when it comes to breastfeeding in public is somewhat of an 'American' thing, I see women breastfeeding all over here, in malls, restaurants, etc. and it's totally normal. The pastor at my church's wife even has pics of herself breast feeding on FB, and you can see part of her breast! Now, for me, that's a little bit much but what I'm saying is that I never realized how weird we can be about it in the states until I saw how normal people are with it here.

Lauren V. said...

Thanks for your thoughtful blogs about breast-feeding, a topic most people won't touch b/c it's got the WORD breast in it - let alone an actual breast :)

Liam is so blessed to have you as his mama!

Michelle said...

Nice job, Kristel.

I have to say, breastfeeding in public is not really accepted here, BUT in every shopping mall you will find a nursing mother's room inside the ladies' room, equipped with a nice chair, a changing table, and so on. Now you're not going to find that at a park, but if you're at a restaurant a lot of owners will let you go into a back room to nurse. They don't want you out in front of everybody, but they make a good way for you to still breastfeed. Nice, huh?

Whitney said...

While I am not yet a mom, I have thought a lot about this topic and how I will handle it in the future. I entirely agree with M. Turner (who happens to be my husband as well). His point is not for you to stay at home at all times while you are breast feeding (not even close). It is to avoid immodesty and awkwardness because there are a lot of people who are not comfortable with it. Most people use the "it's natural" excuse to justify breast feeding anywhere. He was just trying to refute that excuse since tons of things are natural but we do not do them in public. He was not trying to equate intimacy with breast feeding. In my opinion, if you do everything possible to be modest and not draw attention to yourself, go for it (and I think M. Turner feels the same way). However, exposing your boob in public where anyone could see it (i.e. not using a nursing cover) will not ever be ok with me (no matter how natural it may be). It makes others uncomfortable which could easily affect my testimony to them. I know a little bit more about the situations which have been uncomfortable for M. Turner, since I was with him for most of them. These moms were not using nursing covers or trying to be remotely modest. He always turns away as quickly as possible, but when it is not expected, it is hard to know that you should not be looking. M. Turner and I have talked about this subject a lot and are in complete agreement. I hope you can understand a slightly more conservative point of view.

Kristel said...

Whitney:

1. Admittedly, before I was pregnant I was a little weirded out by breastfeeding. Even during pregnancy I sometimes doubted that I would be able to do it at all. But once that baby was out in the world, it all changed. When he cries from hunger my heart aches and all I want to do is nurse him. There's absolutely nothing weird about it at all. God created this way of feeding our babies and I don't think he meant for us to hide it away.

2. I am advocating for modesty so I don't see what the issue is there. I always use a nursing cover for the exact reasons you stated above. I don't want to cause anyone to stumble and I don't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. But for those moms who don't use one (because sometimes babies refuse to nurse with a cover over them, they just don't like it, period) I would never ever judge them. I will just look away. And so should you and Mark and anyone else. So you catch a piece of side boob or maybe even a nipple. So what? Just look away. And please please please don't judge. That mother is doing the best she can. And we all know what breasts look like. I think especially as a Christian you should try to be as loving and understanding as possible. Instead of getting all huffy about it, just pray for that woman to be the best mom she can be and if she doesn't know Jesus, pray that she will know him...maybe even talk to her...maybe she will come to know Jesus and try to be more modest next time. All I'm saying is, don't judge. You have no idea the maternal instinct that is felt when your baby is crying from hunger. Yes, I will try to always use a nursing cover, but if for some reason I don't have one around and don't have a private place to go to, I will be feeding my baby because his needs matter so much more than my modesty.

Anonymous said...

Why is M. Turner trying to make a point "to avoid immodesty and awkwardness?" From what I see Kristel has a cover on in the photograph. Maybe M. Turner should try and find another blog to make such comments, because he obviously has the wrong one.

Besides I'm sure Whitney and M. Turner haven't been living under a rock for the past couple of years. There are much worse things in life. Stop being so judgmental and critical, whilst using your conservative card.

Whitney said...

Kristel,

I hope that you can understand that my intention in responding to your post was to both defend my husband (as I am sure you can understand as a wife) and clarify some of the ambiguous aspects of it. We were in no way trying to say that you were being immodest. Everything that you said was pointing to the utmost of modesty. It was more for the less modest outliers.

1. We both whole-heartedly support breast-feeding if that is what a mother chooses to do. It is by no means weird and I hope that nothing in either of our responses implied that.

2. Neither M. Turner or I have ever judged a person's motives or methods for breast feeding in public, but we have thought through what we will and will not do in the future. And, while we do not judge them, it does not mean that it makes us feel comfortable. My concern is actually less for me or even M. Turner but more for others, who do not know the mother and may be left feeling uncomfortable.

I was not at all trying to be huffy in my response and I am very sorry if it came across that way. I just wanted to clarify M. Turner's response a bit more. I know that blogs can be much like emails, lacking emotion and tone. I hope this helps to explain where I was coming from a little more.

Sincerely,

W. Turner

PS- I promise that we do not live under a rock and are not judgmental people. We just wanted to give our opinion even if it is in opposition to others, which clearly it is.

Kristel said...

Whitney,
I completely understand where you and Mark are coming from. And I don't think you two were coming from a bad place at all...but it seems to me that Mark made the point that breastfeeding is best done in private. And I just don't think that's the case. I feel like he was not only emphasizing modesty but also privacy. And I think a mom should be able to breastfeed anywhere and it's not necessarily best done in private. In fact, I think the more moms that breastfeed in public the better.
Again, I don't think you are judgmental people and I hope when you become a mom that you feel the freedom to do whatever you think is best for you and your family. :-)

KA

M. Turner said...

Kristel,

Thanks for answering my questions. I'm honored to have my own post title! You're awesome and I'm glad to see how cute you and Liam are together. Keep up the interesting blogs :-)

- Mark (aka "M. Turner")

ps - I'm gonna keep reading your blog and being open-minded even when I have questions (whether your other readers like it or not :-)

Kortnie Wertzbaugher said...

I completely agree with you. Coming from a breastfeeding mom who has three kids, privacy isn't always an option. It's not fair to mom or the other kids to only be able to leave the house for an hour at a time. I breastfeed at the park, restaurants, church, etc. Shoot, I breastfeed Levi while bathing my other kids.
The truth of the matter is, you don't know what you'll do until you're in that situation.

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