About Breastfeeding...

*edited 1/29/09*

***WARNING*** Possibly inflammatory post! Read only if you are open-minded. :)

I have an acquaintance, for whom I have the utmost respect and admiration. She is a firm believer in standing up for what she thinks is right, a modern-day crusader, if you will. Most recently, she is tirelessly vocal about the rights of breastfeeding mothers, which are far too often overlooked if not completely ignored. I admire her for her conviction. She has introduced me to a hot button issue, of which I have made a casual but constant study for quite a while now.

I was a breastfeeding mother once. However, I was never the unfortunate recipient of discrimination, so I can't say I completely understand how this feels. In addition, I am a fairly passive person; I tend to avoid confrontation whenever possible. This being said, I have a hard time with some of the opinions and methods of breastfeeding activists (aka "lactivists") as a group. I don't say this to be contrary, offensive, or accusatory in any way. I'm merely voicing my views on an extremely polarized topic of interest.

(A good thing to remember before I start is that no two people are exactly alike. The following is an opinion I've developed based on a group of people as a collective. No one person or her convictions inspired this post, and I'm certainly not attacking anyone.)

A big issue I have with "lactivists" is the predominant attitude of "if you don't like it, don't look." This stinks of selfishness to me. I understand a woman's desire and her responsibility to put the needs of her child first. But how rude it is to tell someone that their feelings are completely unimportant to you? I know that breastfeeding is completely natural and nothing to be ashamed of. Exposed breasts make some people uncomfortable. It would seem that exposed breasts are the moral taboo of the United States. I wholeheartedly believe that the people of this country need to realize breasts are not primarily sexual in function. I just think the brazen "to hell with all who disagree" attitude is not the way to show people that breastfeeding is natural. It seems that open dialogue, consideration, and compromise would be a better pathway. It's my opinion that people will be more accepting of a woman breastfeeding in public if she engaged her naysayers in conversation, addressed their concerns, and calmly and respectfully explained that while she understands their opinions and will try to accomodate them, the needs of her child will always take precedence. Respect is a two-way street.

Another beef I have with "lactivists": breastfeeding is the only right way, and anyone who gives their child cow's milk or formula is doing irreparable damage to him/her. I agree that nothing is better for a child than being breastfed. Unfortunately, that's not always an option for many women. I myself only breastfed Kyle for just over 3 months. Kyle was and is unbelievably stubborn and independent, and I struggled to nurse him for as long as I did. When I finally made the decision to switch to bottle feeding, the change was remarkable. We both were far happier and more well-adjusted than we had been to that point. It killed me to stop breastfeeding, but I honestly believe it was the best choice for us. How do I know that? I recently ran across an article (one of many I've read recently) that outlines the benefits a baby receives from breastfeeding. Always at the top of any list: the transferring of mother's antibodies to the child, strengthening the child's immune system and reducing the likelihood of disease. My child has had maybe three colds in his life, and one fever, which doesn't seem to be excessive in the slightest. This is only one of many contradictions I have seen in my experience. What does that prove? To me, that says that while breastfeeding is best, bottle-feeding is not too far behind. My choice to bottle-feed Kyle made us both happier, and the consequences of that choice were not as detrimental to his health as many experts would expect. I definitely made the right choice for us. I would appreciate it if "lactivists" could be a little more open-minded on this subject (which is not too unreasonable, since they justifiably ask for others to be more open-minded all the time).

I MAINTAIN that anyone who feels passionately about any hot-button issue will not be judged and will be respected if he/she tries to do the same for others. Promote tolerance and understanding through your actions and example, no matter what you believe. It's my opinion that one silent example stands out in our world full of noise and distraction better than any speech or interview possibly could.


Bad Idea

I learned yesterday that babes in arms and Wii Baseball do not mix.

Cole and I were playing Wii Sports last night, and my typically super-independent child decided he wanted me to pick him up. I figured "Hey, I really only need one arm to swing the Wii remote," so I heaved him up with my left arm and continued swinging with my right.

I guess I swang too emphatically, because my Wii remote bopped Kyle right in the forehead. No tears, just a bewildered look and a grimace.

I guess he knows now that I'm not safe when I'm up to bat.


Temple Day

Saturday was a wonderful day.

Cole and I got the chance to attend the Mt. Timpanogos temple with my cousin, Scott, who was receiving his endowments on Saturday morning. It was a wonderful session. Practically my entire temple-going family was there (minus Chris and Brittany and my uncle and aunt who live in Colorado), and I decided there is no greater thing in the world than to be in the Celestial room surrounded by your family. I was so overcome with love and appreciation for a gospel that enables families to be together forever.

The situation felt strikingly parallel to my own first session in the temple almost 3 years ago. Even though the surroundings were slightly different (but fairly similar, since my first time was at the Bountiful temple, which bears a striking resemblance to Mt. Timpanogos), I experienced many of the same feelings and impressions on Saturday as I did my first time through. It was as though I was experiencing it for the first time all over again. It made me so glad I live so close to so many temples and have the opportunity to attend whenever I choose.

Saturday evening, my family had tickets for the open house of the newly completed Draper, UT temple (pictured above). The last temple open house I'd been to was Mt. Timpanogos, more than 10 years ago. I remember walking through that temple, wondering and dreaming and wishing for a time when I would be able to walk through its hallways, fully a participant in all of the sacred ordinances. This time, my perspective was vastly different, especially since I had been to the temple just that morning. The Draper temple itself is beautiful. I love that the Church spares no expense when building temples. It shows the world that nothing is more important to us than the places where the work of salvation is done. I urge everyone who has the opportunity to go see it before it is dedicated.


Baby Tag

1.Where were you when you first found out that you were pregnant? At home.

2.Who was with you? Cole, of course.

3.How did you find out that you were pregnant? I had been experiencing pregnancy symptoms for a while, but I didn't want to take a test--I didn't want the disappointment if I wasn't pregnant. Cole finally made me take a pregnancy test.

4.What was your first reaction to finding out you were pregnant? Pure excitement. Cole's was "I told you so!"

5.Who was the first person you told? My little brother, Daniel. He guessed, so we had to tell him.

6.Did you plan to get pregnant? Yes; we just didn't expect it to happen so quickly.

7.Did you tell everyone else right away? We waited until I was about 9 weeks along. We wanted to wait a little longer, but we were too excited.

8.Was everybody happy for you? They were thrilled. This was my parents' first grandchild and my maternal grandparents' first great-grandchild.

9.Did you go out and celebrate? Sort of. The next day was Fast Sunday, so I celebrated by not fasting (because I was pregnant and all.) :)

10.Did you want to find out the sex? Of course! I'm way too curious to let something like that remain a surprise. Besides, my mom wanted to go shopping.

11.What was the sex? Boy! The first Christensen grandson!

12.Did anyone throw you a baby shower? My sister, with assistance from my mom.

13.Did you get any outfits at the baby shower that you just knew that you wouldn't put on your baby? No, but there were some that Kyle never got to wear because he grew too quickly.

14.How much weight did you gain? Somewhere between 35 and 40 pounds.

15.Did you lose all of the weight that you gained? I was back to pre-pregnancy weight by six weeks postpartum. Of course, then I gained it all back...:(
16.Did you get any stretch marks? You mean, there are people who DON'T get stretch marks? Where do I sign up for that?

17.What did you crave the most? Salt. Anything salty did the trick.

18.Did you crave anything crazy? Dry-roasted peanuts. I never craved anything weird, though.

19.Who or what got on your nerves? I can't really remember if anything got on my nerves. I was a pretty even-tempered pregnant woman. :) (Cole may disagree with that)

20.Did you have any complications during your pregnancy? I had a tiny problem with elevated blood pressure when I was about 26 weeks and then during labor. If you want to do something difficult, try giving a urine sample while you're ginormously pregnant and enduring hard contractions every 4 minutes--I had to do that because of my b.p.

21.Where and when did you go into labor? I never spontaneously went into labor. I was started on pitocin at Timpanogos Regional Hospital.

22.Did your water break? Not on its own. My doctor broke it later in my labor.
23.Who drove you to the hospital? Cole...although I could have done it myself, since I wasn't actually in labor.

24.Who was in the room when you gave birth? Cole and the medical personnel.

25.Did you go early or late? I went exactly a week late.

26.How long were in labor for? Just over 12 hours: 7:00 am to 7:06 pm on October 18, 2007.

27.Did you have any drugs for the pain? Sure did. Epidural city!

28.Did you go natural or have a C-section? Natural. I wanted to laugh in the face of the nurse midwife who told me I'd probably have to have a c-section because of Kyle's size.

29.What was your first reaction after giving birth? Honestly? Relief. Pushing a baby out is hard work!

30.How big was the baby? 9 pounds, 8 ounces, 22 inches long. I don't think there is anything I can't do after birthing a nearly ten pound baby!

31.Did your husband cry? A little. Surprisingly, a lot less than I thought he would.

32.What did you name the baby? Kyle Steven Christensen

33.Does his name have any significant meaning? We liked the name Kyle; plus, we figured we needed a short first name, since Christensen is pretty long. Steven is Cole's middle name and Cole's father's first name. We thought that was appropriate, since Kyle is Steve's first grandson (after 3 granddaughters).

34.Did you have any visitors? My sister visited both during my labor and after Kyle was born. My parents and two younger brothers came about an hour after Kyle was born (I hadn't even been moved out of labor/delivery/recovery to my hospital room). All of Cole's brothers and their families came the next day. My maternal grandparents and a few of my aunts and uncles came as well.

35.Did the baby have any complications? Nope! Healthy as a horse.

36.How old is your baby today? One year, two months, and three weeks.

37.When is the next one coming? In five months...just kidding! Hopefully we'll have another one in the next year to year and a half.

38.If you could, would you do it all over again? Absolutely. Having Kyle was one of the most worthwhile things I've ever done, and I'm looking forward to the next time!
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