Passed along recently, “It’s the definition of a mammal. If you’re not breast feeding . . . you’re a fucking reptile.”
Not that we’re judgmental or anything. And we completely support your “choice” not to breast feed, but don’t mind us while we call you a snake because you don’t.
It’s taken me almost twenty-four hours to move from stunned, shocked, and hurt to incredibly pissed off. See? I can be taught. My initial reaction wasn’t rage; I was too busy being hurt by it to be furious. Now? I’m angry.
And I’m mostly angry because some people who breastfeed are so damned self-righteous about it. I mean, seriously, it’s not rocket science to breastfeed, so this notion that you’re vastly superior because you do it is total bunk. If you were harnessing wind energy in your backyard and living totally off the grid — that takes guts and gumption and is deserving of accolades. Breastfeeding — it’s great if you can do it, but it doesn’t automatically nominate you for sainthood or make you a wonderful person. I’ve known some really crappy people who breastfed, so yeah. Not the winning argument there.
And I’m pissed off because I’m made to feel like I have to explain why I don’t breastfeed my daughter. The marauding educators make me crazy. Don’t you know that it will make her smarter, more resistant to disease, and on and on and on?
Well, here’s the thing. Her brother was a formula baby for different but no less compelling reasons. He’s smart as a freaking whip, never gets sick, and frankly, if breast feeding would have made him smarter than he is, I’m utterly grateful my milk never came in. So pathetically grateful.
I think what kills me about all of this is from the one side people are all “oh we support mothers’ choices” but when confronted with one that isn’t the choice that they’d make, they get judgmental or self-righteous or both.
The thing is, not breast feeding isn’t always a choice. I read a ton of books, had all the necessary accoutrements to do this (appropriate wardrobe, pumps, Lanisoh cream, breast pads), I was seriously ready for this and really, really wanted to make it work. I was so determined that I was going to find a way to make it work this time.
And in the end, I had a doctor ask me which was more important, seeing Katie graduate from college or breast feeding her now. In his estimation, I could do one or the other, but it was unlikely I would be able to do both. I trust this man with my life on a daily basis. I trust him to get the medicines that keep me alive right and to not screw up and in the four years he’s been my primary physician he has not messed up once.
Even still, I got back on the phone with the lactation consultant and discussed it with her before I agreed that he was right. You know what she said? “The benefits of presence far outweigh the benefits of breast feeding.”
And I know she’s right. On the other hand, there are any number of crusaders out there who are happy to tell me what a horrible thing I’m doing every time I buy a container of formula for my daughter. I had one literally shatter me when I was buying nipples for her bottles. I was so upset and shaking so hard I had to leave the store, sit in my car, and cry for a good fifteen minutes before I went back into the store to make my purchases.
So my PSA for the day is this: let’s not judge each other, Moms. If you breast feed, that’s great. You’re feeding your child. If you bottle feed, that’s great. You’re feeding your child. Net result: child gets fed and gets the opportunity to grow. Isn’t that all we’re really aiming for anyway?
So let’s can it with the nasty jokes and insinuations. Let’s stop the roving educating and let people be. You don’t know if you’re talking to someone who is bottle feeding because it’s convenient or if they’re bottle feeding to give both baby and mother the best chance at life. And really? It’s no more your business why someone bottle feeds than it is someone else’s business why you breast feed.
Thanks from those of us who are really tired of having to defend ourselves from all comers.