– GUEST BLOG BY AMY VERKERK –
‘In Dutch we have a saying: ‘that’s another cookie’ or ‘dat is andere koek.’ Maybe you’re familiar with it, thanks to the Dutch football coach Louis van Gaal. It means ‘that’s another story.’ Well here’s my ‘another story…’ – A guest blog by the British tutor and mother Amy Verkerk (photo).
The ‘moederkoek’ (directly translated: mother cookie), or otherwise known in English as the placenta. Full of life giving properties that housed, fed and constructed my womb-dwelling son for nine months. On D-Day (his own personal Brexit…) my bloody, newborn son was fast followed by said red cookie (that no, I didn’t want to look at after ten hours of labor) and a flow of blood that will continue for the coming month or two.
The act of giving birth is confronting enough as it is, full of uncontrollable, ancient sounds and writhing I never knew my body could make, but this post-partum period is a massive smack in the face (think WWF smackdown). Not only had I just been torn open, Alien style, from the inside, but now I have to endure a blood flow like no other, reminding me that there is a gaping wound in my overstretched uterus: which I’m painfully reminded of every time my tiny little being sucks on my breast for the sake of his own life. On top of all of this I am leaking fluid from every pore: peeing and milking. It’s almost primal.
‘The female body has been designed to give life. From puberty onwards’
And yet, despite achieving birthing an eight pound human from my body, I felt and feel shame. Shame when I stood up for the first time from my bed in the hospital (in front of my husband), only to see a huge gush of blood, ashamed of baring my leaking breasts that are in fact, small factories that make magic milk, and shame when I see menstrual-like blood every time I go to the toilet. (I also feel shame every time I throw another sanitary towel in the bin that’ll take twenty years to decompose, but that’s another story!)
Why should I feel so ashamed? Why can’t I see these liquids and uncontrollable physical functions as something beautiful and miraculous instead of something dirty and worthy of hiding? When did it become odd to whip out your boob in public in order to feed your child? ‘Why is it that shops feel the need to place a sticker in the window, declaring their friendliness towards breastfeeding? When did blood, the sign of life, become so hidden and so unspoken of?
‘That red flow we see is our badge of honor’
All this being said, I’ve allowed my mind and my heart to be changed in the last few days by this tiny little human that sucks so hard I think my nipples are literally going to fall off. Instead of shame and embarrassment at these free-flowing liquids (oh and if you don’t know already… free-flowing gas after giving birth…) I feel empowered and proud. The female body has been designed to give life. From puberty onwards, it begins to point towards this miracle: small breasts that grow with the potential to sustain life, tiny blossoming ovaries that expel eggs into the growing womb, every one filled with the potential to start life, and a blood flow that begins slowly but surely, reminding us each month of our power and abilities.
Ladies: we are powerhouses, whether you’ve been told that or not. We are capable of so much, and that (sometimes annoying, often inconvenient and regularly painful) red flow we see is our badge of honor because we are strong!
That’s no ordinary cookie!
About the author
Amy Verkerk is a British expat and has lived in Vancouver, Canada, and now Zwolle, The Netherlands. By day she is a Mummy/Mama, laundry washer, toddler chaser and English tutor but by night she’s a sports enthusiast, race biker, chocolate lover, baker and sometimes (when the moment is right), a blogger. She also works as an editor for Period! Magazine.
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A time for celebration, by Robyn Jones
Me & My Cycle, by Mariette Reineke
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