sometimes I wonder
if mary breastfed jesus
if she cried out when he bit her
or if she sobbed when he would not latch
and sometimes I wonder
if this is all too vulgar
to ask in a church
full of men
without milk stains on their shirts
or coconut oil on their breasts
preaching from pulpits off limits to the mother of god
but then i think of feeding jesus
the expulsion of blood
and smell of sweat
the salt of a mother’s tears
onto the soft head of the salt of the earth
and i think
if the vulgarity of birth is not
by men who carry power but not burden
who carry privilege but not labor
who carry authority but not submission
then it should not be preached at all
because the real scandal of the birth of god
lies in the cracked nipples of a
14 year old
and not in the sermons of ministers
who say women
are too delicate
Kaitlyn Shetler’s poem nailed me right between the eyes. Instead of commenting on it directly, I will follow it up with a piece I wrote a few months ago.
Breastfeeding: The Perfect Solution!
Hey, new moms! If you’re just about to give birth, you need to know that breastfeeding will solve all your problems!
Worried about losing that baby weight? Nursing will melt those unsightly pounds away so you can go back to adhering to unreasonable Western body standards!
Secretly anxious that you won’t bond with your baby? Breastfeeding will cause so many hormonal changes in your body that you won’t recognize yourself in a few weeks! At least some of those changes will turn you into a ferocious creature who will kill anyone who even looks at your baby funny!
Is your baby a preemie? No problem! Hospital staff won’t tell you that preemies have a much more difficult time learning to breastfeed than full-term babies, but they will give you helpful brochures about skin-to-skin cuddling and how it’s crucial to your baby’s well-being. None of those brochures will tell you what to do if your baby loathes being hot, and your body is still trying to sweat out 12 days of saline drips that were used to keep you from going into premature labor. After all, they’re the experts, not you! And that’s no reason to give up breastfeeding, because everyone knows Breast Is Best!
Not sure quite how to hold your baby for optimal breastfeeding? Never fear! Hundreds of lactation nurses will come into your baby’s room and manhandle your breasts until they’re properly jammed down your baby’s throat, using so many pillows to support your baby that you can’t actually move! You’ll even be happy when someone gives you a pillow with the name My Breast Friend.
Experiencing horrendous pain every time your baby eats? Obviously that’s a bad latch! Consult many perky books about breastfeeding, scrutinizing all line drawings and idyllic 1970s photos to understand what you’re doing wrong. Because make no mistake: you ARE doing it wrong.
Getting blocked milk ducts every 2-3 days that make you whimper in pain all hours of the day and night? Well, that’s the bad latch, of course! Better fix that! And it’s your fault if you get an infection, you know.
Remember: Breastfeeding is natural! If it’s not going well, then clearly that means you are an unnatural mother. So keep trying! Cracked and bleeding nipples, excruciating breast pain, and losing your sanity are small prices to pay for a perfectly fed baby!
Oh, and don’t complain about it in public. Breastfeeding may be natural, but it’s also disgusting and embarrassing, especially when anyone notices that you have bodily fluids. Keep feeding that baby every 1-3 hours, all day and all night, for at least a year, and you’ll just won’t have the time or energy to question why the burden of feeding, care, and household chores largely falls on you, to the detriment of your career, without any help from your government.
Let your baby do all the crying. Keep your own mouth shut to ensure that future mothers also join in the fun!