For the Nursing Moms and the “Friend” Who Reported My National Breastfeeding Month Photos

It’s National Breastfeeding Month! It is time to celebrate breastfeeding, promote it’s benefits and instill confidence in the women who want to breastfeed their babies. Did you celebrate by making your profile picture a breastfeeding photo? I did. And STILL is, even after being reported to Facebook for “containing nudity.”

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This morning I changed my Facebook profile picture to a new breastfeeding photo. I actually post A LOT of #breastfeedingselfies regardless of the month, so I was surprised when within minutes of posting I recieved a notice from Facebook that my picture had been reported for nudity. The person who reported my profile picture scrolled through more pictures and reported two breastfeeding selfies of mine within a minute of each other. This hadn’t happened since last year this time. Facebook had just changed their policies right before World Breastfeeding Week, so I had faith that my photo would not be taken down by Facebook, and it wasn’t. So this time, while surprised, I knew I was well within my rights.

I responded by posting a screenshot of the report and then posted yet another breastfeeding photo (I have so many!). My husband encouraged me to post more as my timeline filled with outrage, support, videos and memes. When my vindictive stalker/friend reported the third photo within minutes I pulled out the big guns and shared a breastfeeding photo that included an exposed nipple. That was the last photo to be reported even though I continued to post more breastfeeding photos. I don’t know if they thought I was toast because of the #freethenipple photo or if the overwhelming support from my friends got to them, but they stopped.

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The words of my friends who came to my defense were heart warming. They came from people of all backgrounds; My family, my friends, my co workers. There were hearts everywhere and the words “love” more times than I could count. A great conversation about tandem breastfeeding broke out and things were learned and normalized. Some shared their own breastfeeding photos – a few people even shared my photos on their timelines!

Here are some of my favorite comments:

“I reported your photo as BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!” – A mother of teens

“Hmm wonder if those peeps also complain about girls in skimpy swimsuits too!” – A male with no children

“Beautiful “motherhood” photo.”
– A gay male friend

“Whoever it was should unfriend you instead if reporting you! Your pictures are beautiful and classy!”
-A nursing mother

“If a woman feeding her child offends you, then don’t look, unfollow, or unfriend the person. Handle you f* business like an adult and don’t go “tattling to the teacher” because something most people are cool with offends your uptight, puritanical sensibilities. I see people post “torture porn’ all the time on FB (and I get they usually want to bring attention to cruelty) but show a woman, feeding her child, or wearing too little clothing for your taste, and start howling to FB. Why? why do they get to be the FB picture police? Because it makes them uncomfortable? Because “won’t someone please think of the children?!!!”? A picture of a mother lovingly caring for her child is something they should not see? Really?!!!! And if you are that concerned about when your kid is seeing, MONITOR THEIR ONLINE ACTIVITIES!!!!!”
-A male with no children

“That was my first thought “come on people you have met Mandi, right?????” Why did you friend her if boobies offend you? heehee”
-A mom/colleague

“I love you and so glad you are my cousin’s wonderful wife. And you stand up for yourself .. you rock!”
-My husband’s cousin

“Crazy!!! Why are people so close minded it’s a normal beautiful thing, I wish I could have nursed (my son) longer but the stress of losing my grandfather so suddenly caused things to dry up. It was a great 6 weeks a wonderful bonding experience one like no other. Keep fighting!!!!”
-A childhood friend

“It’s a beautiful picture! Nothing offensive about it. People are crazy!!”
-A previous client

“Oh my goodness you have got to be kidding me!!!! Really??? This infuriates me to degrees I cannot express here! I wish these were not anonymous . That is wrong on so many levels! Thank you for sharing that Facebook got it right! Glad it happened to you Mandi! You don’t crumble to this kind of nonsense whereas someone else might. Love you with your badass self!”
-A mom of older children

“OH MY GOD A NAKED BOOOOOOOOBIE!!!!! How dare you? My EYES!!! They were so naive and virginal before this!!! *cough gasp cough* But, really, I effing love you.”
– A female colleague with no children

“Breastfeeding is beautiful, I can’t wait to do it again!! I don’t understand why this person doesn’t just ignore it if they find it offensive, or unfriend you completely. Bizarre that people have an issue with something so natural and healthy.”
-A childhood friend

“They obviously have zero life. It’s easier (for me) to pity them, than counter them. Keep doing you! The majority of cerebral, thinking adults are not offended by these beautiful images. What a sad life that a nipple would get you up in arms! I can think of some words/images worth being upset over: Ferguson, Gaza, ISIS, food scarcity for children in the US, the polar ice caps. Nipple? Not so much.”
– A recent second time mom

“Keep em coming girl!! This is beautiful and you’re beautiful!”
-A female with no children

“Maybe we should all stick our phones inside our shirts, take a photo, tag you in it and add a hashtag of #suckthis”
-My husband’s cousin, who nursed her four children

“There are so many things to push back against, protest against, and change. This is not one of them. This person needs a good talking to and if you figure out who it is, I volunteer for the job.” -A mom of older boys, of whom I have nursed in front of

“Why don’t we all share Mandi’s photo? If we all share enough, it’ll be all over the place in no time!!”
-My Aunt, who also shared her own breastfeeding experience in another post

“Breastfeeding is like the most historically ancient natural thing ever. Eve did not have Similac… (glad I did) Unfortunately, the things that ought to be reported get passed around and giggled at. And clicked on so much they pass the viruses with the smut….” -A college friend

“Lemme at ’em, I’ll squirt ’em in the eye!” – A nursing mother

“What a happy baby. Screw those who have inferior brains. I’m for one happy to see baby and breasts intermingled. Certainly there was no Infamil back in the day when women delivered in the rice/cotton/corn field. I would love to show my baby happily nursing on her mommy any day of the year!” – A college friend

“Me thinketh someone likes your boobies they get you all riled up and voila! More boobies!”
– A full term breastfeeding mom/colleague

“I hope this was a stranger and not someone in your “friends list”. I mean you see more “nudity ” than that on prime tv.”
– A mom who did not breastfeed

“Rock the f* on, Mandi!! Keep posting! (‘Scuse my language but this reporting of pictures REALLY pisses me off!!)”
-A nursing mom

One friend with an older child simply posted a GIF of Robert Downey Jr rolling his eyes

Then, as the “pending review” status of my reported photos started coming back with “This doesn’t violate the community standard, so it has not been removed” I gleefully shared screen shots of the reports! The true test was when the photo with the exposed nipple was deemed to meet the community standards. I felt like I had won.

A little bit. The only thing that would make me happier than this particular individual unfriending me would be if they actually understood that breastfeeding is just how some moms feed their babies. That it is not sexual, it is not gross. It IS something to be seen and celebrated, and explained to children everywhere that THAT is what breasts are for. Not cleavage, not sex (although those things are fun) but are milk bags that feed babies and happen to have secondary sexual characteristics.

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BREASTFEEDING IS NORMAL.

I am so glad for today. For all of the breastfeeding love that was spread, the support that was given and the lessons that were learned. Mostly I am glad that Facebook diligently adhered to their established standards.

So moms, have no fear. While there are still vindictive, ignorant twits out in the world, me and Facebook got your back. Post those breastfeeding photos for National Breastfeeding Month! Only a few weeks left!

#NBM14 #breastfeedingisnormal #FeelFreetoNIP #suckthis #breastfeedingisbeautiful #NIP

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What to Expect from Sex When You’re Expecting

This piece was originally performed at Bedpost Confessions while I was eight months pregnant

This piece was originally performed at Bedpost Confessions while I was eight months pregnant

Sexually satisfying your partner requires intuition and communication. Over time you learn how they respond to a certain touch, how you can position yourself *just right*, “practicing” until you know their body almost as well as your own. So what do you do when your partners body keeps changing on you: shape, form, tolerance for touch, getting broader and wider and rounder and whinier until climaxing to a point where you are not allowed to touch her for SIX weeks?! While you end up with one of the most beautiful things that human beings are capable of creating, pregnancy can mean at least 10 months of romantic challenges that require three things: a sense of humor, a strong stomach and the willingness and ability to adapt and follow orders.

So here I am, round, but still sensual. Sensitive but not lacking desire. Growing a person while maintaining my Self. Can you imagine having an orgasm… that another being experiences? I read somewhere once that when a pregnant woman has an orgasm the baby gets a massage as the uterus contracts with ripples of pleasure. I imagine it’s like one of those Hydromassage beds that they have at the mall. They are like tanning beds that you lay in while it sprays pulsing water on you through a plastic barrier. They are quite powerful, much like the gestational orgasm.

I would like to take this moment to remind everyone that there is a natural barrier between your love canal and your baby, so there is no penis-to-fetus-face contact as a *ridiculous* amount of people assume. Yes, your dick is *huge*, but trust me, if you’re imagining punching your baby in the face with the head of your penis – don’t flatter yourself. There is this magical thing called the “cervix” that keeps baby in until the time is right and protects it from penetrating objects. My magical vagina might not prevent unwanted pregnancy but it sure will “legitimately” protect my growing baby. Studies actually show that consistent sex and orgasms have benefits for both mom and baby, including stronger pelvic walls and an increased chance of carrying to full term.

Interestingly enough If you look at mommy forums about sex during pregnancy you will find posts on posts of frustrated pregos whose husbands won’t touch them, but at the same time plenty of women complaining of the loss of their sex drive altogether because of the hormones. Everyone relates to sex differently during pregnancy.

Sexual preferences during pregnancy can differ not only from woman to woman, but from pregnancy to pregnancy – even month to month. EVERYTHING changes. How deep, how fast, how hard, which positions. My husband and I joked that it was like he was having sex with a different woman every night. One night my sore bulging breasts are off limits, the next I would want him to tease them. Sometimes I wanted every inch of his skin to touch me, and other times I couldn’t stand the feel of his sympathy pooch on the stretched out skin of my swollen belly. He listened intently, satisfied to follow orders while I learned how to better explain, or show, exactly what I wanted. My body and my desires changed so much that I felt like I was becoming a completely different woman, and come to think of it, I was. I was becoming a mother, something I had to balance with the sensual goddess of lust that lie in the same body as this innocent new life.

As a woman’s body moves through this beautiful – and sometimes just plain weird – process of growing a baby, each trimester presents its own issues. Early on, in the first trimester, the nausea and exhaustion that comes with growing a baby that doubles in size every week can make it nearly impossible to muster the desire to give so much as a “good old fashioned”, and it comes as no surprise that sex can be difficult to stomach during this time – literally. I have heard horror stories of women trying – and failing – to simply give their man a blow job without stimulating their already sensitive gag reflex. I am glad to say I did not experience this myself.

Slowly, nausea and exhaustion abide and the amazing “honeymoon” trimester begins. The wonderful time where you finally don’t feel like shit but you aren’t quite so huge that you need a forklift to ride your partner. For me the magic trimester came with some of the most intense, and easily achieved, orgasms. The amount of blood flowing through your body can increase up to 40% during pregnancy, and a good amount of that blood is hanging out doing work in your pelvic region. It makes for a good time in the bedroom. Even when you are asleep.

The dreams induced by the raging hormones are heightened by that lovely increase in pelvic blood flow. A delightful cocktail that results in, for lack of a better term, wet dreams. I have never in my life, aside from during my pregnancies, woken up mid-orgasm. The orgasms were always amazing, and the dreams were always… interesting. Fuck hallucinogens, pregnancy hormones win! From lesbian lovers – sometimes with a surprise penis! – to erotic orgies, even one involving a sea turtle, the dreams were NEVER boring and always woke me up in the best mood. Regardless of why I had such weird pregnancy dreams – or how fucked up I might just be – I wish I could have them all the time, minus the weight gain.830299_498086853588169_1167734650_o

Then, as swiftly as it comes, the honeymoon period abides and in tromps the third trimester. The prepubescent Bigfoot monster emerges with its acne riddled face, hair growing in places where hair should never be, its large belly swallowed into the HUGEness of its breasts, swollen thighs and legs that have not seen a razor in weeks drag waterlogged ankles through painful strides. The third trimester shows no regard for your lofty goals of not gaining more than the “25-35 pounds” suggested during pregnancy and any delusions you had of being that cute “olive on a toothpick” glowing pregnant woman come crashing down. This is when a little sympathy weight on your partner can go a long way… Even the most confident of women can struggle with their body image at this time.

Somehow my hoss of a man still managed to get aroused, even after I lumbered into the room in my sweats and mumu-esque pregnancy top, flopping myself onto the bed as I told him that I would start getting the 50 pillows I needed for support ready if he would help me get my pants off. He happily obliged every time and – if I was lucky – he would go down on me. Pressing his forehead against the lower part of my bulging belly as I tightly close my eyes and imagined beautiful, non-pregnant sex with vigorous penetration. As we started to make love he ignored the uncontrollable gas that came from that which is a pregnant woman’s highly efficient digestive system, enjoying the occasional breeze on his balls. And if I ever asked for a bathroom break he would keep the party going while I was gone. If he has ever thought any of this was gross he never showed it, and has continued to call me beautiful, make love to me and watched me do my yoga poses in the most inappropriate fashion.

As you get closer to giving birth you start to realize that you are prepping for some time without any vaginal access – and don’t even THINK about going near the blood filled, swollen, rear end after that heavy impact from baby and birth, trust me. And, men, I’m sorry but oral just isn’t very high on the priority list when you are in the tornado of exhaustion that is caring for a newborn. You’re on your own for a little while! Don’t worry, you’ll survive.

It took me a few weeks after the marathon of birth to even remember that I used to enjoy this thing called sex. I had this horrible image of my vagina as a black hole, sucking in everything near it, to an unknown place where it would never be seen again! I completely forgot about the sensual goddess. I mean, duh, my miracle organ of a vagina had been stretched to over 200% of it’s previous size! But as time progresses your body returns to normal, pretty much, and you can do almost everything you always did. Although, young children DO have this ability to suck the life out of you, so I’m not sure if I’m just not as adventurous as I used to be, or if I have just been fucking exhausted for three years. Check back with me… in 18 years.

The first time I reached orgasm after birth I was thrilled and terrified all at the same time – relieved that everything still worked. I came back down from the throbbing intensity of my weak pelvic muscles and noticed that my chest was wet. As I sat up I realized that milk was STREAMING from my breasts. I grabbed a shirt from the floor to dam the flood, but nothing I did could get it to stop! WHY DOES NO ONE TALK ABOUT THIS?!

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Pregnancy has been one of the most challenging obstacles my husband and I have overcome together, and we are better people for it. I trust him with my whole being to be able to laugh with me through the hard times, love me through the gross stuff and have patience while we figure out the rest. How bad could it have been if we willingly did it all over again?