There are things that I am passionate about. There are things that I have to bite my tongue to heed myself from offering unsolicited advice, information, and opinions. Breastfeeding is one of them.
I nursed Diva until she was 16 months. Then, she was over it. She had better things to do. At that point, she was only nursing once a day, in the morning. And by nurse I mean 30 seconds tops before she had to go explore her world and all that was in it. However, I am the first to admit, it was not easy in the beginning. Until giving birth to Smushy, it was the hardest thing I had ever done.
Diva was induced when she was 10 days late and showed no signs of EVER coming. After 23 hours and 30 minutes, she came into the world. Her birth was exhausting. Thinking of it makes me want to cry still. It was not what I had pictured or wanted. For the vast majority of the time, I had zero support. I felt like I failed when I accepted the epidural after 12 hours of pitocin. I felt like it was my fault when her heart-rate started to go erratic and she needed an internal monitor. After 4 pushes, she was out. And she was blue. Her lips were blue, she was pale, and she wouldn't breathe. She wouldn't breathe.
I got to touch my baby for roughly 30 seconds before she was whisked away. I didn't get to see her again for six hours. Those six hours were horrible. No one came to let us know how she was doing. No one gave a damn about us. When the doctor strolled in around 11:30pm, she was rude and brief. They didn't know what was wrong. She was in the nursery. She had to stay in the nursery. She had tubes in her nose. Her temperature "wasn't stable." She had damn IVs. They gave her binkies, formula, and sugar water WITHOUT EVER ASKING ME. They gave her chest x-rays WITHOUT ASKING ME. They kept her away from me for SIX hours. It was the worst experience of my life.
I didn't realize how upset I was about it until I was at my first Doula workshop, which was led by Nichole. Nicole rocks. She said a lot over the weekend, but several things stuck with me. She talked about how she used to be the good girl who listened to everything the doctors said. She didn't want to raise a fuss. She didn't want to offend. She wanted to be a well-behaved woman.
We know my philosophy on that, right?
Stepping off the soap box...but, those words struck a chord within myself. I had been that woman. Instead of demanding updates, demanding to see my baby and suggesting the nurses shove their "advice" somewhere the sun don't shine....I was well-behaved. I thanked them. I was polite. I apologized for calling the nursery. I apologized for crying. For making a mess.
I never realized how much the entire experience hurt me until Nichole stood in front of me and gave me permission to no longer behave. I had tears in my eyes and slipping down my cheeks as I acknowledged how much anger, pain, shame, and hurt I had held onto since April 2008. Standing there, surrounded by women who had shared the same ideals as I do, was a defining moment for me.
This started out as a blog about some fantastic articles I had read on The Leaky Boob. It started as a rant towards people un-supportive towards breastfeeding. It started out as something very different from where it has ended up so far. I wrote the first part and then had to step away to get my emotions in check. I remembered this blog after someone I know posted a blog about how proud she is to be a formula feeding mom. I read her angry words and was upset. Upset for her and upset by her. I was upset that people tried to push their beliefs on her and told her how she was going to provide nutrition for her child. I was upset that at a difficult moment, people were un-supportive of her.
After that, I was upset by her. I was upset by her attitude. I want to demand that she look to why she thinks breastfeeding is gross. But, by demanding, I am no better than those who told her she had to breastfeed. Is it what is best for babies beyond a shadow of a doubt? Yes. Is it the perfect food for our children? Yes. Is it my responsibility to provide encouragement, support, and any manner of "evidence" for someone who requests it? Yes. But, is it someone else's right to try to shame a breastfeeding mom because of their own comfort level? No. No, no, no, no, no!
If you don't want to look at my boobs, don't. It's that freakin' simple. Amazing, right? Don't ask me to cover up because it is gross. Advert your eyes. Put a blanket over your head. When Smushy is nursing, he looks into my eyes and just stares. It is one of the best blessings any mother can ever hope for. It is a look of complete love, complete trust, and complete peace.
I feel the doctors and nurses were right to suggest pumping to her. Her child was a preemie. She's right; that is all she could do for him. Did she try? Yes. I'm proud of her for that. I never told her I was and that is my fault. I should have. But I know the reason I didn't is because of her feelings towards breastfeeding. And that is sad. I can only try to not make the same mistake again.
When I was "well-behaved," I missed many chances to stick up for myself and for others. Once, at a bridal shower, my best friend and I were told how gross we were to be breastfeeding 4 month old Diva and her 2 week old bff/partner-in-crime, Ollie. I wish I could go back in time and be very rude and get up and leave. I wish I could be very rude and make a snarky, witty come-back as I stood up for myself and E. But I can't. Now, I'd like to see anyone tell me that. I have enough nerve to fire back, "No, what is gross is how uninformed you are. I'm sorry your issues make you feel that the natural and best way to feed an infant is with a man-made powder. If you do not like it, put the blanket over your head."
Booby-traps come in all forms. It can be from a stranger, a doctor, your best friend, or simply an idiot who decides they can't handle the idea of breastfeeding. Next week, I'm going to dive head first into more. Right now I have to go right my friend and email and apologize for not standing up for ourselves so many years ago.