Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One

Passed along recently, “It’s the definition of a mammal. If you’re not breast feeding . . . you’re a fucking reptile.”


Very nice.

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.

19 thoughts on “Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One

  1. Wow…um, a reptile? And not just a reptile, but a f&cking one. Someone said this?????

    I don’t know you and I don’t know what your health issues are. But I can see how this would hurt you regardless of health issues – and then it would hurt even more if you had to make such a decision for health reasons.

    I nursed my eldest for 2 and half a years and when people say, “You must be so proud,” I answer, “Not really – he made weaning him more work than continuing.” I suspect this is often the case with those of us who can nurse and do – that the kid decides how long.

    Oddly, some of the same people who lauded this are grossed out *yes, GROSSED out* by my intention to lactate for an adopted child (not a newborn, but still a baby). I may have to use the damn pump, but still I want to try. Nevertheless, I accept that this may simply not work out.

    We humans do like to credit ourselves with “accomplishing” things we really don’t control. I am so sorry that someone sent such hurtful words your way.

    • Yeah, someone thought it was funny and thought everyone would think so. Sigh. I guess I’m not everyone.

      I do understand what you mean. People give me credit for my kids not using pacifiers. Um, neither one liked it. They both tried them. Ben used them until he was about five months old. Katie stopped using them before she was three months old. Luck of the draw.

      And it’s not like I don’t understand that breastfeeding is important, because I do. But I also think that at this point, it’s a bit of a challenge to convince me that people aren’t informed and there is a legitimate need to accost people in grocery stores.

  2. “But I also think that at this point, it’s a bit of a challenge to convince me that people aren’t informed and there is a legitimate need to accost people in grocery stores.”

    Indeed! How silly of you */kidding/*

    • Yeah I know. What was I thinking? Of course, people need to be educated about this.

      I do wish you great luck with lactating for your newcomer. I really hope it works for you and for him!

  3. I’m off to re-check my hospital records, but I’m pretty sure we weren’t separated at birth.

    From June 2007:

    For the record: breast, serious medical problem, bottle, second child, breast (so far). I don’t miss washing the bottles, and my son is a keen little guy.

    As Jim’s aunt observed, it’s not like you can look at a crowd of adults and point out the sickly, inferior bottle-fed ones.

    More power to you. And seriously, a few quick facts about the neglect of children’s health care in Congress go a loooong way in shutting people up.

    And the definition of mammal isn’t solely based on lactation. It’s warm blooded vertebrate with hair with mammary glands in the females. The joke teller seems to be cold-blooded and spineless, so I guess (s)he is also an effing reptile.

    • Yeah, I will keep that in mind. I have a feeling, though, it’s just an instance where someone thought I was “like-minded” because I’m planning to homeschool Ben in a Waldorf-y sort of way, but I’m, of medical necessity, not nearly so “crunchy” as she assumed.

      I mean, as one example, Katie breaks out in a rash when terry cloth touches her skin, so air dried anything is a total non-starter for her, and she’s so super-sensitive the pediatrician vetoed cloth diapers as well.

  4. Well, reptiles are also vertebrates (sorry, too many years of zoology), so since s/he is spineless, maybe this person is a slug? They are PESTS, you know! ; )

    I realize I am incredibly naive, but I really don’t understand why some people feel empowered to judge others *especially about things like this.* What part of understanding that one person may have a different story from another is so hard?

    I should really get back to work. But it’s nice to be on-line & find other mothers who aren’t so sure that they know what everyone should be doing!

    • I have no idea why people think they have the right to judge. I have a bunch of people who are in my face about the fact that I plan to homeschool my oldest. I can’t afford a private school for him; the public school here is way overcrowded; and, he is not the ideal kind of kid for a crowded learning setting.

      I’m glad to have found/met you, too. Please stay in touch, I’ve enjoyed talking with you today. I am actually planning to talk about what happened during/after my daughter’s birth, but I’m not quite there yet.

      • I will!

        The whole “I know what you should do (even though I am sorely lacking in information on YOUR circumstance)” thing will always amaze me.

        You’ll get hassled if you home-school, hassled if you don’t (because there is only one right answer, the group says, it’s our answer – those peope over there aren’t RIGHT like us). Funny how no one doing this seems to see that this is the very nature of bigotry.

        Personally, I think it goes hand-in-hand with the whole “you create reality” thing that is currently the rage (and note that involuntarily hungry people or people who deal with actual bigotry daily don’t seem to be on that wagon:).

        Back in my day, why, whoops, oh, this is my day and back then, that wasn’t any better…

        I am holding my breath for the day when “Oh, that’s interesting; I did something very different – would you be willing to talk about that?” is the rage.

        Oh no, passing out from holding my breath…

        Thanks for the conversation. Much enjoyed!

      • Yeah, I know I’m going to get it for the home schooling thing. The younger dog’s breeder has already taken me to task because I haven’t put him in preschool. I just can’t see the value in that and I’m not going to do it.

        We found a homeschooling curriculum that we’re super comfortable with, so we decided to go for it and see what happens.

        Maybe we can start our own movement of people who want to share experiences without judging them. I know I’d be in on that one and I bet we can find a bunch more people who would prefer that, too. Though I doubt they use #breastfeeding over on Twitter :).

      • Oh, wow. Yeah, that could have been clearer.

        The “him” in question is my son, Ben. My dogs are both female. However, both girls did go through Puppy Preschool or Puppy Kindergarten. Peyton (the younger dog) passed; Sam, the older dog, was asked not to return. Ahem.

  5. Oh, that makes a bit more sense – except for the part where the dog breeder is giving you a hard time about what you do for your SON. You can see why I assumed she was concerned about the DOG! ; )

    Wow, this is all very funny when a person is one step removed from it!

    • She’s a retired preschool teacher.

      She’s also a friend. I’ve known her for about ten years. She’s known in my house as Grammie, so . . .

      • Oh,that’s different. Anyone who gets called Grammie generally DOES gets to say what they think…

        : )

  6. Adjunct Mom,

    I really enjoyed reading and discussing here. Thank you for being so welcoming.

    May I add you to my blogroll?

  7. Pingback: Other People’s Stories, Part 1 « Momsomniac

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