Archive for November 26th, 2007

The Best Gifts – Breastfeeding Carnival

Monday, November 26th, 2007

Welcome, Carnival of Breastfeeding readers.

I’ve written about The Best Gifts by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch before but when I read that the theme for this month’s Breastfeeding Carnival was a review of a book or video related to breastfeeding, parenting, or giving birth, it was the first that sprang to my mind. If I had to choose an advice book to take to a deserted island, I would take Dr Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding. It was the book that I opened in the dead of the night or whenever I had a question but the questions are all the more pressing in the middle of the night. I’m sure that someone else will cover Newman’s work, though, and I wanted to write about a book that simply presents breastfeeding as a normal part of childhood. The images and story in this book are those that are sorely lacking in most children’s story books.

Like many mothers, I am careful to choose books that depict people of different races and family situations, those in rural and urban neighbourhoods, kids with disabilities and those that live far away or near to us. What I was unable to find in the first two years of my daughter’s life was a book that depicted our nursing relationship. And then one day, I discovered The Best Gifts in the parenting section of my local library.

The Best Gifts tells the story of the life of a baby/girl/woman as she grows from a nursling to a nursing mother. The book describes a number of occasions for celebration and how presents received are cause for joy and gratitude but that the best gifts can’t be purchased. In the first example, visitors bring gifts for the newborn baby but it is as the baby is “wrapped in love and a light scent of lavender as the warmth of her mother’s milk swirled in her mouth and filled her tiny stomach…” that happiness deepens. As the girl grows older, her parents give gifts of time and history. The story ends with the main character now a nursing mother in her own right providing her own son with mother’s milk and love. On both occasions when breastfeeding is featured, the father is shown as an involved member of the family, cuddling the mother and child while the baby nurses.

The illustrator of The Best Gifts, Halina Below, uses watercolours and watercolour pencils to create soft images that convey a gentle love. They match well with the soft tone of the story and draw a child into a discussion of what is contained in the image.

A list of resources is provided at the end of the book, providing contact information for Canadian and international organizations that support breastfeeding.

Mothers-to-be and those in the midst of nursing a child need access to books that will answer their questions about the mechanics of nursing and provide solutions to the challenges that some will face. The Best Gifts should be on their bookshelves as well in celebration of the nursing relationship itself.

Children should have access to this and other books that depict breastfeeding relationships as part of childhood to instill a sense of the normalcy of nursing. The baby bottle has been the symbol of infancy for too long. Our children should not automatically reach for a bottle when they play with their dollies, they should reach for the hem of their shirts. And in the future books such as this one will be on the shelves with all of the other picture books and not segregated to the parenting section.

Does anyone have other stories for children that depict breastfeeding?

Check out the other participants’ reviews in the November Carnival of Breastfeeding. I’ll be updating this list throughout Monday and Tuesday as the entries are posted.

Seating arrangements

Monday, November 26th, 2007

Like most families, we have established a “Daddy’s spot”, “Reid’s spot” and “Mama’s spot” at the table. Ever since Ken rearranged us because, he said, Reid and I picked at each other when we sat on the same side, Reid has sat at the end and Ken and I sit opposite her. When guests come over, Reid always has a vision of who should be sitting where. I suspect that she read etiquette books at daycare. When Aunty Amanda come to visit, she sits at the end of the table opposite Reid. That chair is the obvious guest chair. It is when we have more than 4 people at the table that things get rather odd. Grandma Joyce always get the guest chair if she is present but the other person gets placed according to Reid’s whim with the problematic condition: Reid likes to assign the fifth person to sit next to Ken. Reid sees some merit in having the 6’2″ guy sharing the side of a table with someone that escapes Ken and me.

Reid has been reassigning our places at the table lately. I’m not sure why she has decided to switch things up since she is generally pretty insistent on each of us being in our regular spots. We indulge her in this because for much of her daily life, Reid doesn’t have control over what happens to her and it just doesn’t matter where we sit as long as there are chairs and food. The main problem with the situation is that Reid can be so sl-o-o-o-w to come to the table to make her decisions. Add this to her concerns about who gets which pasta bowl, not to mention a generalize before-meal hunger, it can be kind of stressful.

For some reason, since I started drafting this, Reid asked me who would sit in the chair at the opposite end from hers when she is a grownup. We considered the matter, wondering whether Reid had an expectation for my answer, and proposed that when Reid is a grown up, she might get married and then her husband could sit there. You’ll remember that Reid sometimes doesn’t like to imagine being grown up and so I waited for her reaction. There pretty much wasn’t one. She nodded and then moved on to some other brain teaser that is de rigeur in life with a child.

You should come to Ottawa, Reid will choose a good spot at our table for you.