Recently I wrote something for The Outlier Collective, a blog where a topic is chosen by the administrators and two bloggers write independently on the same subject. When Eric, of A Clown on Fire, asked me if I’d write about Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy my response was “Let me think about it and make sure I have something to say.”
I did a little reading and wrote 500 words in about ten minutes. Turns out I had a lot to say. I read it and reread it and thought “Yep. That’s what I think.” She did what she thought was right with the resources she has to reduce her risk. It’s that simple.
As soon as I got to think about mentioning the fact that breastfeeding contributes to reducing the risk of breast cancer I started to second guess myself. Me? Hesitant to talk breastfeeding? I started to wonder if I was becoming a broken record. Would the mention of breastfeeding cause someone to think “oh, there she goes again, back on her soapbox” and disregard the rest of my message? Maybe. But is that a good enough reason to keep silent? I don’t think so.
I like to add an image to everything I write. It’s Blogging 101. The pictures that I include in my posts frequently get as much attention as the post itself. In a world where Instagram and Photoshop make it so easy to beautify ourselves it seems people take notice when you put your un-airbrushed self out there. Pictures of my stretchmarks, pictures of my journey back to some level of fitness, pictures of my leaky wet spots and yes, pictures of breastfeeding, get a lot of attention. A lot.
But I hesitated. Should I include a picture of myself breastfeeding in the post about Jolie and her mastectomy? I was searching my pictures for an appropriate image when I opened up PhotoBooth while I was writing and snapped a picture.
Recently a picture that I posted of myself nursing Lucy while I changed Emily’s bicycle tire got a lot of negative feedback on Facebook. While I elected to delete the comments and rise above it one comment in particular got under my skin. “Some people will do anything to get attention.” Presumably she was referring to my posting a picture of part of my breast on the internet. But her comment stung because part of me started to feel like maybe I had become a one-trick pony. My breastfeeding posts get far and way more traffic than any others. I like to think it is because it is the topic about which I am most passionate so they are likely some of the most well written. But I had to ask myself – am I getting lazy? Is breastfeeding my go-to when I am coming up empty?
The truth is I am nursing roughly 60% of the time that I am writing. I am nursing 30% of the time that I am eating. I am nursing 60% of the time that I am talking on the phone. I am nursing 70% of the time that I read. Because I am nursing 95% of the time that I am sitting down. I am nursing a toddler. And as any woman that has ever nursed a toddler can tell you it is a blessing. Nearly 100% of the time that I stop to catch my breath I am nursing. Life moves quickly right now. We are climbing and running and jumping and falling and exploring. And in the moments that I take pause, the moments where I write blog posts in my mind and dictate semi-unintelligible notes in to my phone, I am nursing.
It’s not an agenda. It’s just where I am right now. It’s my life. Will I be talking about breastfeeding all of the time in a few more years? Probably not. It will always be important to me but I imagine as my life changes something else will move in to my mental spotlight.
And before someone else can say it – I guess when I am no longer nursing I will have to think of a new reason to take pictures of a single boob and put it on the internet. The web is saturated with images of pairs of boobs. It really doesn’t garner much attention. But a lone boob? Man, it really gets people riled up. Is it just a gimmick? I don’t think so. But am I going to get all defensive when someone calls me out and tries to make me feel like a jerk? Nope.
Or I suppose I could think of something else that really irritates people. And if it has as many benefits to my own health and that of my children I will probably take pictures of that, too. In the meantime I am just going to keep on keeping on. Doing my thing, raising my kids and being me with a lone boob out. Because that, friends, is how I roll.
I’m happy that you wrote about breast feeding preventing breast cancer because I didn’t know that at all! Here’s my two cents on the Angelina story (written after getting tired of all the “why should I care about this” posts I kept seeing):
Here is why her story is important: 1) Genomic testing and pharmacogenomics is the future. A lot of the technology is already there, the issue is how to make it affordable to the average person and still incentivize medical research companies to spend the money developing the technology. For example, the genetic test Jolie took costs about $3000, but only costs the company $200 to administer/read. The extra mark-up is how they are able to earn back all the money they put into the research. This issue is something that folks in the medical technology field talk about frequently, it’s something Congress is trying to figure out how to regulate, it’s something I talk to my colleagues at work about every day. This story will get people talking about it too, and will make people more aware that tests like this are out there. 2) Even if I took the genetic test that Jolie did and found out that I had the gene that makes me at an 87% risk for breast cancer, right now my health insurance would not cover any preventative surgeries until/unless I was actually diagnosed with breast cancer. So, basically our healthcare insurance system is not set up to account for genetic testing and its implications right now, which is also a highly relevant and important topic that I’m glad people are talking about.
I cannot wait for the day you just take a picture of one boob out every day. maybe your one boob could be doing dishes? Or having a cocktail? One boob out in the pics before sending the girls off to a formal dance? One boob typing? I mean, the possibilities are just endless. Boob on steer wheel driving you to the gym where your one boob pushes the start button on the treadmill. I could do this all day.
Screw those losers who say dumb shit. You have to know you are loved here on the webs and a great way to tell is when the jerks come out to play too. xoxoxo
Don’t think the thought hasn’t crossed my mind…. The Lone Boob… watch for it on tumblr. ;)
<3 Love it, love your blog, love you!
People have strange mentalities when it comes to what is a natural process of life- it is required, it is necessary- yet there are some who consider it pornography/obscene/etc. If we consider that (with a few exceptions, myself included due to issues with milk) the vast majority of the world was on the boob at one point, it becomes a non-issue. However, there will always be one or two sticks in the mud who insist on making their own personal point known that it is wrong to show that. My thought to them is this: “WHY?” Guess what? Mammals have been doing that for ions, and it isn’t anything that’s gonna stop now. I’d also ask if he’d ever feel offended if it was a cow, or a dog or a Guinea Pig doing the same thing (Not to compare you to an animal, Kelly… but I think you get the idea!). People have strange views on this, and it certainly wasn’t “I’m showing off my boob because YOU ASKED FOR IT!” but rather: I’m a mom, I’m a person, I had things to do, and both nursing & changing a bike tyre required my attention.
I always love your posts! And I think it’s gutsy and real to post pics of yourself nursing. I am also nursing my toddler – and I’ve gotten some negative comments (even from very close friends) when they find out I’m still breastfeeding. And that was when he was 10 months. Now he’s 14 months and we’re still going strong. I am so impressed that you write so frequently – I haven’t figured out how to blog regularly with this little guy around – maybe I should try to dictate while he’s nursing, but I feel like he’ll just be distracted. Anyway – keep it up girlfriend. I don’t follow too many blogs (shit – I can’t find time for much of anything these days). But I read your posts every day and they always make me smile.
I am a multi-tasker. By the time I actually sit down to write I have usually dictated enough notes to myself that I have a pretty good idea what I am going to say. And I (quite obviously) let the proofreading slide and I just go for it. If I reread or agonize over a post I tend to not feel that way anymore!! I dictate in the car. And type notes on my phone while she is nursing. And more than anything it has morphed in to a therapy of sorts, I make it happen so I don’t go crazy. Thank you for reading. It makes me happy. We really aren’t as alone in this mothering gig as our parent’s generation and I am so grateful.
I love reading your posts, especially about nursing. I can’t wait for my next little one to start nursing again and hopefully make it a lot longer if my milk cooperates!
Well, keep in touch! If you are having any trouble with your milk holler at me!! I am serious. Sometimes milk supply issues can be fixed with some brainstorming and fenugreek. And it’s so weird how different each pregnancy and nursing relationship turns out to be…
LOVE this post. And I love your breasts. And I love that you have gotten me to think about breastfeeding and how it is somehow stigmatized in this country. Don’t let the bastards get ya down!
Never!! :) My breasts love you, too.
A great post! Breastfeeding seems to fascinate people, whether we are doing it or talking about it and I have no idea why people continue to react so negatively. My daughter just turned 18 months and for the first time this week I received disgusted glances for feeding her in public. We will stop though when she decides it, not some small-minded stranger I couldn’t give a monkeys about! Keep up the good work :) xxx
It’s pretty crazy how suddenly a baby turns an arbitrary age and people are freaked out. Thanks for reading!!
You done good as usual! Perhaps her actions will bring up conversations about what is possible – few of us could afford this type of elective medical care, but maybe that will change. At least more people are talking about it and that surely has to be good. There has to be a better way than “pink ribbons” and terrifying half of the population. Great post Kelly – as always. My young friends never fail to surprise me.
Your young friends had great role models and parents. ;) I totally agree that terrifying people and wearing pink ribbons can’t possibly be the answer.
You are amazing and this post succinctly wraps up exactly why I adore you, lady.
Mwah!! Muchas gracias, mamacita.