Courtney + Emerson | 01

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetHow would you feel if you were separated from your nursling for hours, or overnight, or even a couple of days?

Over the course of the next few months we will follow along with one mother’s journey through divorce and the painful truth of mother/child separation. Here, she will share the unspoken reality of many who are still breastfeeding their children without having full custody, and the impact it has on everyone involved.

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@courtneyellzey

It is not my intention to point fingers or lessen the importance of daddies in a child’s life, rather to shed some light on a very real, very staggering truth of the legal system and their stance on nursing while divorcing .

The courts are inundated with cases of divorce .. they don’t have time to care .

I am a nursing mother to Emerson Merrick .. she is almost 18 months old .

Emerson nurses all day and all night .. except for the time she is with her father, which is too long a time to be away from me and the breast .

She will not drink from a bottle .. nor will she drink my breast milk from any form of cup .

Why ?  Because it is about the bond of the mother to child .. as I am quite sure that you are keenly aware and quite frankly, so are a lot of people at this point in time .

would like to come from the angle of a compassionate one .. regarding the pain of the father not being with a child .. but also, a truthful look at the effects of the transition for the child.

I would like to educate .. inform .

Our court system is jaded .. antiquated even .

Especially when you are assigned a male judge // a female mediator who has never married nor has children who could care less about the choices that they are making for complete strangers who step foot into their offices // courtroom .

I am not bitter .

I am saddened and appalled at the carelessness for which they go about their decisions .

I do understand their positions, but that does not make it good // right .

I am also very aware that there are fathers that are the primary care givers fighting for their cause as well .. for there are mothers out there who are not fit .

This is not a battle of the sexes collaboration .. this is about truth .

Simply, a look into the life of divorce and breastfeeding .

Who is right ? Who is wrong .

Children need both parents .

I want for my daughter to have a good relationship with her father ..

But unfortunately when it comes to matters of the heart, there is not always a rationale that is balanced .

Hence, the court system .

Their job is to take out the emotion in decision making for our children .

Only, the pendulum has swung too far in the wrong direction .

@namastetiff

@namastetiff

“I woke up one morning to notice that my instagram account had been disabled.

I had received 8 emails from instagram in the middle of the night, notifying me that my photos were removed for “violating community guidelines”. I can only assume most were breastfeeding or topless photos of my toddler.

The only photo I know for sure that was removed was a photo I had just posted the day before: a photo of my daughters bare chest and belly with the hashtag #stopcensoringmotherhood. I posted this photo in support of many other mamas who had been having photos reported and removed. To fight against the sexualization of our children. (Because seriously… There is NOTHING wrong with a topless toddler! And how can anybody even see it as anything more than just that?!?) And ironically, that is probably the photo that started all of the reporting on my page. The strange thing that I had noticed was that all of the emails were only minutes apart. So it seems it must have been one person reporting all of the photos. Just trolling through my feed… assuming that it’s their duty to decide what’s appropriate for me to share. OF MY LIFE.

It’s one of the most frustrating feelings, knowing that someone else has control over years of photos posted and special connections you’ve made.

On the positive side of it all, the love and support sent from others was so amazing. loads of text messages from friends telling me how sorry they were and a photo posted by Sakura Bloom to #bringbacknamastetiff & #bringbackhelloamerikaw. It was so touching to see so many fighting on our behalf. With help from some others close to me, we emailed a couple of employees of instagram and raised a bit of hell and before I knew it, only just a few hours later, my account was restored! I received another email from instagram, this time stating that my account had been disabled due to “nude images” and that they would reactivate it without the images that didn’t meet their standards.

Unfortunately, I am now afraid to post my daughter topless for fear of more photos getting reported- which I still find completely and utterly ridiculous!  I continue to post breastfeeding photos though, because I feel very passionate about helping to normalize breastfeeding and empowering other mothers to feel more comfortable with nursing in public.

Even though my account was removed for only a short amount of time… I still felt the hurt, anger, frustration, and sympathy for all the other mothers out there who have dealt with this issue. The cyber bullying and the censorship of motherhood need to stop! I’m so thankful for this project for bringing light to this issue and help soon get it resolved!”

Thank you Tiff, for telling your story. Your voice will be heard.

@respect_the_mama

“Around two weeks ago, I received four emails informing me that four of my pictures were deleted for violating Instagram’s Community Guidelines. They did not say which pictures were removed, and with the number of pictures I have, it was impossible to know. At the end of last week four more pictures were reported and removed, and subsequently so was my entire @ashrodman4 account. As far as I can tell, the only thing I did ‘wrong’ was stand up for something I believe in and in support of mamas that fell victim to this very same harassment.

I only know of one picture that was removed. The other seven are still a mystery. It was a collage of pictures showing my 4 year old son with his hair in a ponytail for the first time. Connor is Autistic. His hair is VERY long because he cannot handle it being cut. He has a very hard time with hair brushing, washing or even just touching. While a ponytail may seem insignificant to some, I was OVER THE MOON excited to share this huge milestone with my IG friends. But he was not wearing a shirt, only shorts. Instagram says that a child’s bare chest is a violation. Connor’s twin brother, Dylan, is also Autistic. My 5 year old son, Dominic, and my 2 year old son, Joshua, have Sensory Processing Disorder. They have a hard time with the texture of clothing against their skin, and as such, they typically enjoy our time at home with very little on. My account was filled with triumphs, heartbreak, support and joy. My pictures are safe, but the stories and comments that go with them, that meant so much to me, are gone. All because of bare chests.

My baby’s stomach is not pornography. What he was wearing was no different than a little boy’s bathing suit. Are we not allowed to post our sons enjoying summer activities in their bathing suits? I had seen it happen to other mamas, but when it happened to me… I felt violated, and judged, and bullied, and devastated. I am their mother. Me. And I wish I could be the one to decide what is best and safe for my sons without fear of losing precious memories. I wish I could share these triumphs and milestones without fear of someone seeing our everyday life as offensive. I refuse to ask my children to hide perfectly innocent parts of their bodies. I want them to be comfortable in their skin, not live in fear of judgement. I just want this madness to end…”

Thank you Ashley, for telling your story. Your voice will be heard.

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@acitydoll

“I have an 8 month old son, Shiloh. On my instagram, I post pictures of him almost everyday. Until recently, I never had any of my pictures removed. On July 10th, I got the annoying email from Instagram saying one of my images got removed, I was baffled, because it had never happened before, and I also monitor what I put up. When I looked at my account it was an image from June 16th, where my son was bathing with his 5 year old cousin. It’s funny, because I have posted images of my son’s belly before, and him bathing, but it was more interesting that it happened when I was becoming a bigger advocate to mothers who’s accounts were being disabled for breastfeeding or showing innocent images of their children. I was promoting for @helloamerikaw, and also for @motherbleep, and magically the next day my picture was reported. I don’t think it’s right that people are sexualizing images of infants. If a mother chooses to display an image of their child, it’s their right and their prerogative; and if, a mother chooses to display herself breastfeeding it is not to have obscene comments displayed or for the image to be reported. If you don’t like what you are seeing, just stop looking at it, stop following the person, or stop searching under the hashtags!”

Thank you Annie, for telling your story. Your voice will be heard.

@acitydoll

@starkweatherandgrey

“I have never posted a breast feeding photo on Instagram. I have never posted a picture of my child in the bath. But the other day on my second account I posted a picture supporting @frankiebleu after she unfairly had her account deleted. Because while I do breastfeed my daughter & bathe her and capture it with my camera I never shared those pictures but I fully support women who do. Then I posted a picture of my daughter in her sandals & bloomers playing in the splash pad. Two days later the photo was removed & I received the infamous Instagram warning email.

I know there are mothers who have repeatedly had their accounts deleted, harassed, reported many times over & my one little run in doesn’t compare. But I feel passionate about not censoring motherhood now. If I am this upset about one photo of my daughter which in no way compares to the filth Instagram does allow on their website then I can’t imagine how mothers who have lost their entire accounts feel. No women should have to censor motherhood & feel obligated to make their account private for fear of more attacks. (Which is what I did). I hope this story helps & that this battle is won for all the mothers who should be working together rather than tearing one another down.”

Thank you Taylor, for telling your story. Your voice will be heard.

@starkweatherandgrey

Is Diaper Packaging Considered “Nudity”?

©mother(bleep)_diaper_branding
We’ve all been in the grocery store or pharmacy where we’ve seen diapers on display in the baby aisle. The majority of us have more than likely purchased several, if not hundreds of packs for our own children. But have any one of you ever picked up a pack, examined it, and threw it back on the shelf in disgust over the image of a baby wearing nothing but a diaper printed right on the front?

No one stirs the pot and questions the semi-nude image on diaper packaging because it’s normal. In fact, it’s natural. How is this any different than a photo of a shirtless baby or toddler posted on Instagram? Why are we making that photo something that it’s not? If the real concern was pedophiles then couldn’t they scour the baby aisle of a store as easily as they scan the internet? Do we then ban small children showing a little skin in all branding, advertising, and marketing imagery?

These questions have to be raised because the reason people are uncomfortable with child “nudity” on social media sites is incredibly hypocritical. We can’t say something is wrong when we support these brands for doing the exact same thing. We can’t allow ourselves to take on the mindset of someone who has ill thoughts. Nothing we do will help them unless they’re willing to seek help for themselves. Everyone who is passionate about this topic, whether you’re for or against Mother(bleep)’s view on it, want to protect our children from danger. That’s at least one thing that we have in common. We just need to figure out a better way of getting there. Hiding behind a keyboard with a click-happy finger to “report” isn’t the way to do it.

Let’s suggest a different approach to censorship – one that provides safety for our children while keeping their innocence and carefree childhood in tact.