Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’

Thing I am most ashamed of.

May 7, 2012

The obvious, and most true, answer is losing my cool with my kids. I have written here before about my struggle with anger, usually on a specific day of my period cycle every month. I am fine the rest of the time – I do not hit, smack, or yell. I’m fucking awesome. Except when I’m not. I am deeply ashamed of this and will probably return to the subject again.

But for now, I’ll talk about what keeps coming up in my head when I read the comment by @tatchull that suggested I write on this topic: a trip to the doctor when I was about eleven or twelve.

I don’t remember why we were there. My mom took me. My mind seems to colour in the details as being there for a jab/injection of some sort, though my experiences in therapy years later suggest something else. But perhaps I’ll return to that. Whatever the reason we were there, my Mom and me, it seemed pretty harmless and not a big deal.

Until he asked me to take off my underpants.

He had asked if I’d started my period, and when I said no, he said he wanted to look inside my vagina to see what was going on. As an adult, this shit boggles my fucking mind. What does my vagina have to do with my period?!?! And why would my mom, a medical professional, countenance this sort of invasion of a young girl?

So I was naked, ashamed, lips spread open while a man I did not know peered into my vagina, his face so close I probably felt him breathing on me. He said my hymen was still intact, and that I would need to come back in six months if I still had not started my period as he would have to cut my hymen open (!!!!!!!!!) so the blood could come out.

My mom thanked him and said we would come back if needed. Thank fuck my period came.

I don’t understand any of this, even now. I am ashamed of my mother, that she let this man do this. That she let him touch me, talk of cutting me. Surely she knew letting a strange guy rupture my hymen was unlikely to suddenly bring me to physical maturity? The whole thing confuses me. And, my GOD, if a doctor tried to mess with either of my children’s genitals – well. I’d stop that shit, and we would never return. I would talk to my child about it and try to help them make sense.

My old therapist, L, (if you are a new reader, I am a counsellor. My intensive training required each candidate to undergo extensive personal therapy – and I LOVED it!!) made a suggestion one day. Might my mother have taken me to the doctor specifically to check if my hymen was intact, given the high probability of sexual abuse from my father? Just to make sure that whatever else had happened, I was intact? As disturbing as this suggestion was, at least it makes sense – and happened because my mother was trying to protect me.

I have spoken to my mother about this incident. She says she doesn’t remember it ever happening. So she either wants to keep the truth from me, or it was a such a non-event to her that she genuinely doesn’t recall it. I think it’s the second option. Given that she insists on keeping me up to date on a family member who DID sexually molest me, given that when I told her she told me to shut up, given that when I repeatedly told her as an adult she just acts embarrased, well, I can believe she might not consider this event a big deal.

I don’t write this to say I had a bad mother. She did, and continues, to protect me in the way she can. But was it enough, when I was so young, and that man looked at me in that intimate way?

It was not.

So I feel shame, on many levels. But the main one is not my own shame, but the shame of my mother. Her shame around my sexual self (another long blog post or two, folks), her shame around any sexuality, how her shame impacted her ability to say NO or to allow me to say it. I don’t remember if I tried. Probably not. Sometimes, when you’re little, you need someone to say no for you. This is a lesson I have learned, carved deep into my core self. I needed someone to say NO, to stand up for me, and they didn’t….in the way I needed. That being said, I don’t remember ever going back to see this doctor, so perhaps she did what she could, when she could. I forgive her.

This post brought to you by my compelling desire to write, and complete inability to do so. Generous people have given me funny, thoughful, and factual suggestions for posts. Click here to see them, or add your own. I’ll work through them all in time.

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Thoughts on breastfeeding: the past, and the possible future.

August 23, 2010

I don’t know if we’ll have more kids naturally. I have been gung ho. A couple of months ago I was convinced it was the ‘perfect’ time to get pregnant – and now, wow am I happy I’m not. Chasing after these two with a baby cooking? Ha.

The past month has been killer. August is always a big month – lots of sad anniversaries. But it also is our anniversary, and now the birthday of Snort and Coconut. Just like life, August is good and bad.

I wonder if my ambiguity about pregnancy is why I am also lackluster about weight loss. I know I have to lose all my weight to be able to donate eggs again, and I certainly think we’d go the IVF/eggshare route again.

I’ve been thinking a lot about stuff. Breastfeeding….a lot.

How they got sunken fontanels (sp?), how they were so dehydrated, how they did not pee….except little crystals and blood. How their weight plummeted well below a loss of 15%.  How it kept dropping.   Breastfeeding was the best thing ever for me, but perhaps not for my babies. I don’t know if I would try again.

Certainly the suckling has been known to help regenerate nerves, and make breastfeeding after a reduction a possibility in second, third, fourth pregnancies. Certainly I would want to breastfeed, but it would be an act of courage as the last time it hurt me so badly when it failed.

I’m happy now. We formula fed our babies and, well, it was good. As I’ve said before, there are good things about bottle feeding – please don’t jump down my throat or criticize, because unless you have been desperate to breastfeed and medically could not, you don’t know what it’s like. I chose (finally) to forgive my body and move on. To accept things as they were, and to be grateful for how my cherished kids were developing.

The next time around I would meet with a lactation consultant before birth, to have an action plan in place. I know giving a bottle fucks with milk production in normal boobies, but with my boobies and history, I would not withhold a bottle to ‘just see,’ since my kids got pretty fucking sick from my inability to give them milk this time around.

All the buzz on Twitter lately is about milk donation. I applaud those who donate, as well as those mums who need a bit of help and have the wherewithal to get connected to resources. I don’t know that milk banks exist here, but again – I’d do some research before another baby came along, even to make some informal connections.

I think parents hold so fast, so tight, to their ideals – the way they do it is so good, feels so right, that they want to tell everyone else about it. Certainly I was like that with babywearing and baby led weaning. But sometimes that tips too far over the edge into condemnation.

The number of twitter convos I’ve had….

ie

Them: There is no reason EVERY mother cannot breastfeed her baby.

Me: Um, actually I couldn’t breastfeed. I was medically unable to.

Them: Bullshit. The only excuse is if you have some sort of disease you might pass on or something.

Me: Well, actually not. I had a breast reduction and the surgery damaged my breasts too badly to be able to feed my children.

Them: *backtracking wildly* Oh, yeah, well, I mean that’s different. That’s medical.

Me: *sigh*

I am the sort of person who will always speak up. Hell, if I was breastfeeding I’d do it outloud, so proud, in public. I’d get a couple of those boobie beanies and tandem nurse any old place. But I think it’s ridiculous how shamed and horrible I felt about offering bottles in public.

It’s interesting how the internet has skewed my perceptions. My online connections are usually all AP (attachment parenting) people. You know, people more likely to be into natural parenting, babywearing, cosleeping, breastfeeding, anti-CIO, etc. Most cloth diaper and some are anti-vax.

These people are so accepting of me and my non-boobie milk, but only once I’ve gone through and explained why I’m not breastfeeding. It’s like being gay – I come out again and again as a formula feeder. I used to sort of keep my mouth shut, which goes against my personality. But now I can say, well, you know know? I forumla feed. Breastfeeding doesn’t work for everyone. I had a surgery when I was 19; I could beat myself up about that for eternity, but what is the point?

It’s so possible to be AP when bottle feeding. Not all formula feeders are propping bottles up into the mouths of babes strapped into carseats and ignored. I held my babies every feed – despite having one of me and two of them. They cuddled into me, and still do, to eat. My respect for breastfeeding and all the benefits is deep, and I emulated them as much as possible – we only fed on demand (they choose when and how much milk to eat, we do not encourage them to have more or discourage them from eating), and now we do baby led weaning and will led them decide when is the right time to transition away from milk feeds.

We do it as naturally as possible, as gently as possible, as respectfully as possible.

If only all parents offered other parents the same treatment.

I know it’s hard. Hell, I judge people. When the babies were first born, someone I went to school with sent me a link via facebook for this feeding thing (the assumption being there would be no breastfeeding, which is NOT a good thing!). It was like a pacifier connected to a tube that dipped into a bottle. She attached a picture of her three week old infant left alone on the side of a swimming pool while she and her hubby frolicked in the water.

Yes, I judge. Yes, I am horrified.

But what is my judgment going to do to her? Nothing. Offering shame and condemnation is not helpful; education is, but only in the right circumstances. I’ve had lectures (again, via my pal twitter) about formula being poison, about bottle feeding moms not giving a damn about their kids’ health, etc. And then always, always, the backtracking when they learn about my situation. Always the embarassed, ‘Oh, I don’t judge people who can’t feed because, like, they can’t.’

Well, you do. You do judge when you presume to talk about how formula is akin to the coming of the anti-christ.

Did I love breastfeeding? Yes. Did it work for us? No. It (well, not breastfeeding, but the failure of breastfeeding) made my children sick.

I’m sorry. I don’t know how this got so long or so rambling, or what was my original point. I think somewhere in here I meant to say that if I get pregnant again, I’m going to be a lot more gentle and forgiving of myself this time around.