Aullaqisaaqta! Let’s begin!
Iġñiġa Daał miluguuruq. My son Daał nurses often.
I once read somewhere that Karl Marx had to chain himself to a library desk in order to finish Das Kapital. You might wonder what Marx has to do with nursing? Well, more than you might imagine. Baby Daał’ feeding habits have essentially tied me to a chair or couch, so that I can focus entirely on reading books or sometimes writing papers or emails.
Of course, there are critical adaptations like typing with one hand. For the first five months of Daał’ life, I was fortunate to work my job rather minimally and enjoyed reading almost 14 leisure books while nursing him! This entry is dedicated to normalizing breastfeeding in the university setting, underlining a few reasons why it is an optimal practice for a student, and learning a few Iñupiaq phrases.
Iñupiuraaqta! Let’s speak Iñupiaq!
After reading Contemporary Linguistics by William O’Grady, I learned that by eighteen months, the average child has a vocabulary of 50 words or more. By age six, most children have mastered nearly thirteen or fourteen thousand words! This is a reminder about why it is so important to speak Iñupiaq to our children during this critical time. Here are some phrases related to nursing that I have used to interact with Daał on a daily basis. These phrases were developed in the North Slope Iñupiaq dialect with my Iñupiaq mentor Edna MacLean:
Milukpa? Is he nursing? Milugukpiñ? Do you want to nurse?
Miluktuq. He nurses. Miluguktuŋa. I want to nurse.
Miluktiñiagikpiñ? Will you nurse? Nuullutin uvuŋa. Move to this one here.
Miluktinniaqpigiñ? Will I nurse you? Nuullutin igḷuanun. Move to the other one.
Miluktiñiaġiga. I will nurse him. Aakaŋan miluktinniaġaa. His mom will nurse him.
Milugiñ. You nurse (command). Milulluataqtuq. He is doing a good job nursing.
Milulluataqtutin. You (Daał) are doing a good job nursing.
Miluktitchiḷḷuataqtutin. You (Annauk) are doing a good nursing him.
Perhaps you are wondering whether I increased my Iñupiaq speaking to Daał by five minutes on a weekly basis as outlined in my last blog post. The truth is, I am not sure. It requires a lot of discipline to integrate five minutes of speaking into a daily routine. Also, it has been harder than anticipated to track the time while also moving to a new place and creating a new schedule around school, work, homework, and raising a child.
On a more hopeful note, I am happy to report that Daał and I averaged about 5 hours total per week listening to recorded Iñupiaq conversations with my mentor Edna MacLean. Over the last two years, I have been in a mentor apprenticeship with an elder fluent speaker of Iñupiaq. One of the aspects of the MITILI program that I am excited about is to actually make more time to listen to these recordings regularly. In an effort to be more consistent with speaking, I ordered a daily planner and wall calendar to better track my Iñupiaq speaking and listening goals.
Miluktitchumiñagiñ kaakpan! – You can nurse him if he’s hungry!
All summer long, I feared what it would be like to nurse my son while being a student at MIT. When working part time postpartum as the Research Director at the Alaska Institute for Justice, I was privileged to bring my baby to work and was free to nurse him anytime. Many family members advised me to start pumping so that I could train Daał to take a bottle and learn to be away from me. I did not listen. For nearly 6 months, Daał fed straight from the breast, strengthening our bond and providing him with nutrients to meet his specific needs. I actually tried pumping once, a month after he was born, but I found it uncomfortable, unnatural, and boring. It seemed more natural and sensible to feed him directly rather than fuss with sanitizing bottles and breast pump contraptions.
For the first week of classes, I still refused to pump. At 6-months, Daał should be able to survive 2.5-3.5 hours (at least!) in between feedings. Theoretically, this gives me enough time to run to and from my 1.5 hour Intro to Linguistics class and my 1 hour Linguistics Independent Study meeting with my advisor. This actually worked quite well with his feeding schedule until required orientation meetings held through the Department of Linguistics popped up. Alas, I broke down and pumped one bottle by the second week of classes. It turns out, Daał did not even want the bottle when my husband tried to feed him, so we are back to square one with just straight breastfeeding.
Piyumiñaqtilaaġniaqtuŋa – I will do my very best
Since starting my blog, I have completed several homework assignments, one critical summary paper, at least a dozen readings, and a month of classes! I almost had to ask for an extension for my first linguistics paper because my husband got sick and I became Daał’s primary caretaker. However, a few miracles (Daał napping in his swing and my advisor postponing a meeting) enabled me to get the paper done on time. Even though it was challenging to balance school and home life, prioritizing time for wellness made the challenges manageable.
During the month of September, the following wellness activities kept me balanced and sane: 2 bikram hot yoga classes, 5 runs along the Charles River, 2 meals with family friends, many healthy meals prepared lovingly by my husband, 1 date at the skywalk observatory in the Prudential Center, 1 Red Sox game family outing at Fenway Park, and finally, a girls night out with my aunts and cousins. Most importantly, I also set aside at least one hour per week to speak Iñupiaq with two of my elder language mentors, who helped me stay grounded and inspired to continue speaking Iñupiaq to Daał.
Piyumiñaqtaatun ittut taapkua savaatka. My work seems good, encouraging.