Thursday, July 29, 2010

World Breastfeeding Week - my gift to the Breastfeeding Centre

Today is my birthday :) I love how it falls just before the beginning of World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-8).

Today I was giving the presents! I recently bought these bags, not to use as shopping bags, but to convert to cushion covers to brighten the space and emotions at the Breastfeeding Centre.

I love enviro bags, but really, really have enough. So I am thrilled to find another way to use the message and support the small business who created them!

Goidellick Designs

Now, what I would REALLY like is some nice, adult sized shirts with these designs! And generous sizes made for real women, please!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Social Media - for good or evil?

Social media - Facebook, Twitter and all their friends - come in for a regular beating in the general media. I don't think I have yet seen any positive stories about the new face of the Internet, which I think is a real shame.

I came to Internet use fairly early on, back in the mid to late 90s. I am defined as an "early adopter" when it comes to technology, which means I usually dive in and see how the water feels, before there are many others in the pool to tell me! From the beginning, the Internet offered new ways to interact with the people I knew (primarily email and email lists back then) and also meet new ones around the globe, via bulletin boards (usually called Forums these days (Fora?). The early 2000s saw me primarily house-bound due to the fatigue of my MS, so this interaction became vital for me and prevented me becoming socially isolated. I flourished in the environment of international friendships and interactions - that most harrowing day, September 11 2001 saw me glued to my computer as friends in the States watched the horror unfold - and posted photos of the twin towers taken from their own NYC homes. Global suddenly condensed.

I took to blogging early on, starting with Live Journal before moving to Blogger (where I am quite happy!)and when my daughter spent two years backpacking in NZ in 2005/6, we read each other's blogs to keep in touch - and also explored the world of MSN Messenger, web cams and photo sharing with Photo Bucket.

I know exactly when I succumbed to the draw of Facebook: I was staying in Wagga with Linda and her husband and as we sat in the lounge room, checking our emails on lap tops, she passed comment on someones status update and I was hooked! While I had heard about Facebook previously, it hadn't properly reached my brain what it was - I had toyed with My Space, but it seemed mainly the domain of people my kid's ages. But Facebook was a world of wonder - lots of people I knew hung out there! That was June 2008 and this is what I posted on this very blog:

Monday, June 9, 2008
I have avoided the temptation, but I weakened this week.

I know myself too well and - yes - Facebook is just my kind of addiction! The collector in me just wants to gather everyone I know in one place! The extrovert wants to say "Look at me!". The social butterfly asks "What are we doing? Can I play too?" The nostalgic me asks "Are you here, I so want you to be here?". The curious me wants to know "what are you up to right now?"

I so don't need another place on the web to distract me (bright, shiny things!), however what is done, is done!

Terribly prescient of me, as I reflect two years later, on my 1033 Friends and my daily interactions with them!

Beyond Facebook, Twitter intrigued me and - once I worked out what it actually was - I signed up with enthusiasm! Different to Facebook, although I have some crossover, what I love about Twitter is the interaction with people whose thoughts I already admire: my news feed brings the wit of comedians and writers straight from their mind to my computer! From Stephen Fry to Wil Anderson to Cal Wilson and Dave Hughes, my day is brightened by their streams of consciousness, intermingled with news from various ABC outlets, P!nk on tour and Samuel Peyps diary entries! This time last year, I was following the moon landing transmissions 40 years later in real time! What not to love!

Blogs are now part of my everyday, with Google Reader doing all the fetching and carrying, all I need do is hit the Next bookmarklet on my tool bar and up comes the latest posts of those I follow! It is like a never ending, personalised magazine :)

Social media has infiltrated every aspect of my online life: I share the books I read on Good Reads, my friends can access the websites I bookmark in Del.i.cious, my photos are easily shared with Google Picasa - the list is so long and so integrated I cannot even think of all the services I use! I have them installed on my Blackberry, so am never bored in waiting rooms. I have a Google Desktop sidebar, so my friends are always there, even when I am alone at work or home.

So,as a tragic Web 2.0 dependent middle-aged woman, what about the risks? What about my privacy? What about weird people stalking me? What about - viruses?????

Well, I am not stupid and online life needs the same security considerations as real life. I lock my home, my car - and I run security software on my computer. I never utter anything online I would not say openly on a busy train. And although it might seem like I tell everyone everything about me - including what I eat for breakfast (steel cut oats cooked in a rice cooker)- I am actually quite careful about what I do and don't post. At the same time, I am more concerned at the risks of identity fraud from someone stealing my mail than I am from someone reading my Facebook Wall! More protective of my handbag than my email address. And - touch wood - I have no more than the normal offers of viagra and Nigerians seeking financial assistance than the average person!

What I have gained has far exceeded any minor negatives. And far from being socially isolated, I have many more opportunities to spend face to face time IRL with people! My friendship circle has grown (with real, actual friends, not just faceless numbers) and I relish hearing their news. I have reconnected with the lost, found shared passions, laughed, cried and shared recipes and book suggestions.

I love it and I want more!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Formula feeding is creepy!

No, I do not believe that! Yet imagine the uproar if I not only thought that, but used my position to publicly declare it! The accusations would fly and there would be immediate outpourings about creating guilt in bottle feeding women and I would probably be labelled that most offensive title of Nipple Nazi.

Yet, the reverse is apparently quite acceptable and we breastfeeding types have no right to be up in arms about it. Curiously, if we become so, we are also demonstrating the above trait!

This week, the media and blogosphere have been full of outrage regarding UK writer Kathryn Blundall's article in a parenting magazine.

Her personal opinion is that breastfeeding is "creepy". Her words. Confirmed in a radio interview on the BBC. She finds it impossible to allow twin roles for human breasts as sexual objects - "funbags" - and the source of food for her baby.

"They're part of my sexuality, too - not just breasts, but fun bags. And when you have that attitude (and I admit I made no attempt to change it), seeing your teeny, tiny, innocent baby latching on where only a lover has been before feels, well, a little creepy."

I wonder if Kathryn Blundell also chose to have a surgical birth, rather than see the non-sexual role of her vagina in action? And she must find the whole toileting scenario pretty creepy too!

She is fully entitled, as am I, to have a personal opinion. What is not acceptable though, is her using the publication she writes for to mis-inform readers who are or may be considering breastfeeding.

Anyway, the fall-out has been, once again, the "debate" of breastfeeding versus formula feeding and the old faithfuls have been dragged out once again - choice, guilt, embarrassment - and Lactavists have had to defend their position.

Why? The writer of the article is not asked to defend her opinion, in fact, everyone is at great pains NOT to deny her. But those who have made different choices are suddenly required to defend them. But not just their decision to breastfeed at all, but also the length of their breastfeeding experiences, the issue of breastfeeding in public and the "pressure" put upon new mothers to breastfeed (this "pressure" is replaced almost immediately after the baby arrives with "pressure" to introduce formula or wean completely).

Enough is enough! If you truly do not want to breastfeed, then that is up to you. I believe your baby should have some rights in the process, however formula is good enough to sustain your child. If you wanted to breastfeed but were faced with insurmountable problems, then I acknowledge your sadness and regret. If you continued to breastfed your baby despite problems or if you did so without ANY problems (rare in this modern society) then you have my joy and support to continue as you wish.

But please don't tell me that I cannot promote the default mammalian way to feed infants. Please do not complain if I point out the risks of formula feeding so others may make an informed decision, just as I hope you were able to.