Banned from facebook… again!

Yep, it seems I have angered the gods of The FaceBook, once more (just watched ‘Social Network’, yesterday, can you tell?). Last time I did not blog it, it seemed so innocent more of a misunderstanding, really… but the instances are very similar. In neither case was I being deliberately defiant. In both cases, I simply pressed ‘share’ on what I thought was a beautiful, artistic, touching (nude) photo of a woman breastfeeding. In both cases somebody reported this image to facebook and got me banned. [Cheers for that, by the way.]

Okay, here is the photo that earned me the ban, this time:

[I’d love to credit the photographer but, well, I am banned from facebook and the photo was removed so can’t find it there and couldn’t get the google images widget to function. Sorry photographer, your art rocks and your skill impressed.]

Isn’t it gorgeous? I am so sad that somebody found this offensive enough to report… or pornographic?? This is life. This is art.
On the other hand, it does clearly violate facebook’s terms and conditions – it shows full on nudity, including the ‘dreaded’ nipple (that got me in trouble last time – with an incredible, moving photo of a tribal woman breastfeeding her child). So, ’tis a fair cop, really.

Still, I feel like somewhere between a rebel and a fraud. A rebel ‘cos I am out there pushing facebook’s boundaries (well the robot’s anyway)… and a fraud because, obviously, I did it by accident. After my first ban I actually did go through a little spate of posting on facebook a bunch of my own personal br*@stfeeding photos, some of which I thought might push some buttons and… nothing. Then months later, when I have completely forgotten about the whole thing, bam! – another ban. Ah, well. Funny thing is it is only a 24 hours freeze-out (even though the second one usually earns you 3 days – maybe there is a time limit on that?) and, this time round, I can still see my account and all the activity on it (my friends’ posts, etc) but I can’t post, like or comment… Facebook is right it is much more tormenting like this. I can see but I can’t touch.

Meanwhile, my friend Eileen at Live with Purpose also got banned after sharing the same image (I think after she got it from me… uh, sorry Eileen :p )

I do hope facebook expands its computer-mind and realise the beauty of the naturally breastfeeding woman.

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Have you ever got banned by facebook for posting an artistic nude pregnancy photo or a simple breastfeeding photo? Share your story here.

And what do you think of facebook’s standards – are they protecting the innocent? or are they going too far and contributing to people’s perception of nudity as shameful or breastfeeding as ‘disgusting’?

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Being honest about our journey as a parent – how one mom is bearing it all

Ewa Partum, Exercises, 1972

Image via Wikipedia

Being honest about your journey as a parent can be healing for you and inspiring for others. I just read this post about one woman’s journey to Attachment Parenting, the hard way. This is a powerful, moving and beautiful piece. It is truth.

Some may see me as the first kind of AP parent she describes, the kind that always knew AP style practices were for her (even if she didn’t know there was a name for it). I knew I wanted to breastfeed and babywear before Baby came… but I didn’t want to co-sleep and had to because that is the only way she (or any of us, in the end) could sleep.

I also think, sadly, that Eileen’s story is not unique in the sense that many AP parents I know passed through Post-Partum Depression or Post-Partum Anxiety (including me) on their journey to finding out who they are as a parent. We are a bunch of sensitive souls, the ones that in the end put bonding and relationship first. Among bloggers in particular (I’d love to gather real stats) I suspect the number of moms who had post-partum issues is stageringly high. I think many of us blog because we are driven to seek out community, because we need to talk and we need to not feel alone.

Conversely, I will also say that I have met parents who have travelled the opposite journey. They started off with a whole host of hippy/AP intentions and just couldn’t make them work in real life – either the kid’s temperament just didn’t respond to the classic Bs (bedsharing, babywearing, etc) and/or they cracked. They didn’t have the support of a village, they didn’t have information or experience and they just couldn’t do it anymore (all that co-sleeping induced night wakings and endlessly handing over your body – uh, boobs – to another being). The story can run both ways. All are true, all are real, all are equally valid and even can be ‘right’ for different families.

I am touched but also kind of invigorated by this post. I urge you to go check it out. See what reflections on your own journey it brings up. A mirror as clear and honest as this, always helps us see ourselves a little more clearly, too.

What does the AP label mean? – a bloggy answer to KellyMom

Babywearing Favourites

Image by Virginia Zuluaga via Flickr

Here is a cute little article about not self-flagellating with AP rules, about following the spirit rather than the letter of Attachment Parenting ‘law’: kellymom.com :: There is No Doctrine for Attachment Parenting: Being AP is a Frame of Mind!.

I agree with Diana West from KellyMom’s sentiment but I still find myself arguing with her in my head – about tiny little details, mind you. I totally share the feeling that many moms can’t or don’t feel the pull to follow every AP practice but that does not stop them from being natural-minded moms who put their kids first and for whom the aim is to create a strong, solid base and a secure attachment with their children. We all do the best we can and none of us is perfect – I sure am not! It is the intention and the overall approach that matter in whether somebody can feel part of this movement, generally. In fact, I would go so far to say that it should be a totally self-nominating group, if you feel like an Natural mom, you probably are… but here I want to make a slight distinction. My bug is with mums who are doing none of the AP style behaviours (as described by Jean Leidloff or Dr Sears) and still want to claim to be AP, somehow. I have come across some mums like this. They will tell me they are very attached to their kids and think that means they are ‘attachment parents’.  Through my co-sleeping, breastfeeding blurry eyes I squint at them, too tired from all that baby-carrying to really argue (lol).

And yes, they may, as I think is Diana’s main point, still foster a very strong and secure attachment with their kids. We should not lose sight of this: it is this goal of achieving what psychologists call ‘secure attachment’ that unites us, really, rather than the means we chose to achieve it. So, yes, we all make the choices we make and that doesn’t make us bad parents, neither does it mean your child will not be securely attached to you (as is vital for their social and emotional wellbeing later in life)… but… but that isn’t enough to say you practice AP. Attachment Parenting as it is generally defined now does refer to the means. What we have in common, as a group, is not just that we put relationship at the center of our parenting, it is also about how we chose to foster that closeness, especially in the early days. It does refer to these crazy sacrifices some of us chose to make, these difficult, unpopular, sometimes socially marginalising parenting choices some of us make (like co-sleeping, baby-wearing, extended breastfeeding, etc.) and our clamoring under the label of Attachment Parenting (as unflattering as these words may be) helps us find a safe-haven, a community of other ‘crazies and hippies’ that have made these same choices, too.

Again, don’t get me wrong, I readily accept under the Natural Parenting label any parent that makes any attempt to parent from the Heart, who practices gentle, compassionate discipline (from the original greek meaning ‘education’), who considers the environment in their choices and who often puts their kid first, honouring their needs and wants as a whole, complete little human of equal value in the family (not one who should just fit in with the parents’ schedules and dreams). Still, I wanted to add this short little caveat and perhaps reserve the AP title specifically for those who are committed to those practices (yes, even when we can’t do all of them, all of the time – agreed).

So, I agree with Diana and I want to take a second to remember that labels (as reviled and vilified as they are) serve a purpose, too, sometimes a unifying, comforting, even healing one, that makes us feel part of a family, not ‘freaks’ (as I overheard somebody calling people who breastfeed toddlers, the other day). We are not alone and while KellyMom’s Diana is right that we absolutely should not punish ourselves if we can’t tick every box on Dr Sear’s list, it is also not ideal, in my view, for the title to become so loose as to become meaningless. Not every giving, caring parent is an AP parent. If you tick none of the ‘main’ boxes, if you do not co-sleep, breastfeed on cue or babywear most of the time then you probably aren’t an AP parent… that doesn’t mean you are not a great, responsive, gentle and natural parent, it just may mean those things aren’t for you. Or, as Diana points out they may not have worked for this baby specifically.

But even as I write this I find myself faltering. I do want this label to have some meaning, for it to refer to a specific set of practices to which that some parents commit (not because they read it in a book, but because it felt right). However, I also want this label to be inclusive. I want it to describe a broad approach of being responsive to a child’s needs and feelings knowing that how we respond to these needs will vary from child to child. I want to go to gatherings of attachment parents and find a spectrum of practices represented under this banner, not a tight group of rule-based parenting zealots. I want to welcome in those who tried to breastfeed but whose kid was losing weight so they switched to formula or those who believe co-sleeping is best for newborns but found it just didn’t work with their child. I guess what I want ultimately is not an exclusive little club of APers that I can find refuge in, what I want is broad acceptance of these practices within the wider society. This stuff is normal; it is alright to make these choices… just as many other practices are great, too.

So, what is in a label? Does it matter if we include everybody who puts relationship and ‘attachment’ first or if we include, from among them, only those who specifically adopt this set of practices? Yes and no. Ultimately it doesn’t matter and we can all get along no matter what our mothering, parenting choices, surely… but a name is used to simplify communication, to help us know – in this case – what parents we have most in common with. I say keep ’em both. We have words that describe parents committed to parenting from the heart and putting the child at the center of the relationship: positive parenting, gentle parenting, natural parenting describe this kind of parenting all of us here recognise and adhere to one extent or another. And among these positive parents you will find us, the attachment parents who all share some specific ways of putting these general principles to practice. Is that not worthy of its own label?

5 steps to losing weight the AP way

Attachment parenting II

Image by bricolage.108 via Flickr

I was a size 6 before I was pregnant. I don’t know what size I was immediately after birth, I just lived in old sweats (hah!) but when Baby was about 8 months old I celebrated getting into size 8 jeans! Now, I am a size 2. That sounds tiny to me. I am one size away from the infamous size 0. How the heck did that happen?!

This is controversial I know. There are two kinds of mamas out there, I reckon, the ones who didn’t lose the baby-weight and don’t want to talk about it and the ones who did lose all the weight and dare not talk about it. Anyway, I am going to break rank and brave the topic even though I am on the skinny-cow side. I am not crazy skinny, so don’t go getting jealous or anything like that. I am actually a flabby (non-toned) size 2 – if that isn’t too much information! And I am spotty and have a big c-scar, remember, if you need it for balance.

I have not dieted (certainly not with the intention of losing weight) and I don’t do any organised exercise… at all. So how did I do it? I credit Attachment Parenting. Here’s the rundown of what worked for me.

Weight loss the AP Way:

  1. Breastfeed at will/on cue: if your kid is anything like mine it will be a big challenge to consume as many calories as they are sucking out of us each day – and I, for one, love to eat! If I eat light for even a few days (and by light I don’t mean ‘less’ I just mean better quality/more greens, soups, salads, etc.) I find I automatically lose weight, without trying. This was especially noticeable in the first few weeks as my uterus contracted back into place, magically and seemingly overnight. And now, in the long term, I can see that breastfeeding is definitely linked to my new shape.
  2. Co-sleep: … which basically means you continue to do the above – breastfeed on cue – even through the night! Ooops, I just dropped some more calories just thinking about it, I think- and certainly without trying.
  3. Baby-wear: I have been pretty much exclusively wearing/carrying my baby since she was born. She is now 18 months old and at the 90% percentile for weight. I still carry her most places – if it is too far for her to walk or just easier to carry her. That has got to help, don’t you think?
  4. Walk: not strictly an Attachment Parenting practice but it definitely falls squarely within the Natural Parenting movement, especially if it is used as a greener alternative to driving. I love walking. For the longest time there, especially when Baby was smaller and hated to be in the car seat, I would just go for long walks – sometimes one or two hours at a time – with her in my front pack. I am not super fit, but I can walk and, again, I am sure this really helped the weight drop off.
  5. Eat Healthily: I try and eat as green, alkaline and fresh as I can… I am far from perfect, but I don’t eat wheat/gluten, dairy or meat and I limit refined sugar (the almost permanent stash of chocolate doesn’t count, right?!). The couple of times I got the flu, since Anya was born, I did nothing but eat ‘green’ for two or three days: all vegetable soups (with no carbs). I recovered quickly and I lost weight. You gotta be careful with this. You don’t want to lose too much weight when you are breastfeeding as it will affect your supply (it did mine) but eating healthily is always a good thing, to my mind.
So I lost lots of weight. Still, I want to acknowledge the role of luck in all this. This month I am this size, I hope it sticks but my love of eating has got me in trouble before, let’s hope I can keep balance, stay healthy and get way, way fitter so I can keep this trimmer figure which I am so enjoying (even now I don’t have the super-boobs, anymore).
Really this post should be about being healthy, the AP way. It is not about trying to lose weight, it is about doing what feels right for your family, going with the flow and taking care of you, too. If that so happens to bring a more optimised weight for you, hooray! I know plenty of hardcore AP mamas in all sizes and shapes. They nurse and baby-wear, eat healthy and still feel weight-challenged (and/or are happy and celebrating their womanly curves) so this is not a cure-all that works easily on everybody. But it worked for me. I guess now it is about finding what will work for you, but you can’t really go wrong with walking, breastfeeding and eating a diet with lots of fresh, green veg, can you?

Even breastfeeding for a week is helpful!

A woman breastfeeding an infant.

Image via Wikipedia

This is a really lovely guide to some benefits of breastfeeding according to how long you do it: ‘if you breastfeed for four to six days…’, etc: peaceful parenting: If You Nurse Your Baby…. It does have a bit of a bias toward extended breastfeeding perhaps but nonetheless it does encourage and support women to breastfeed for as long as works for them and their families – knowing every little bit helps and we are all doing the best we can!

A great ‘natural parenting’ resource: Hobo Mama’s blog

Newborn cuddled in wrap with mama

I love me a bit of synchronicity, I do. Yesterday I sourced a photo from a flickr account called HoboMama of a mother breastfeeding a toddler. Today I stumbled across this: Hobo Mama, the blog. And I am so glad I did – her writing is clear, honest and well researched. She is a mine of information and links to other great bloggers. Gotto check her out.

Also, I noticed she has replaced the term ‘attachment parenting’ with ‘natural parenting’ which sounds so much better and really resonates with me – finally, a  title for this approach I love that I can really get behind.

How to become a hippy-mama in 20 easy steps!

Faces of the Anti-War Movement 12

Image by theqspeaks via Flickr

The ‘You know you are a hippy-mama (or papa) when…’ post has been updated and now has tons of links to websites with useful information about the various practices referenced from Elimination Communication to Baby Led Weaning, from the advantages of extended breastfeeding (for mother and baby) to the benefits of eating your placenta. So, if you didn’t know what the ‘eck I was going on about before, go here and find explanations for all the weird and wonderful hippy parenting practices of California – perfect for the beginner hippy-mommy!