Friday, September 19, 2008

Creating a Dialogue

It wasn't a drive by! It was probably one of my relatives, actually. I totally suspected one of my uncles (who I dare not name), until our AC asserted her femininity. Therefore, in the interest of greater understanding, creating an open dialogue, and presenting all sides of what can be a very touchy debate, I bring you, part 2:

I didn't mean to get you all riled up, I just believe that a women should be covered while breastfeeding...and I am a woman. You do not have to use a flannel blanket or sit in your car, but it would be nice if you used a light cloth or something as it does make some people uncomfortable. Also, I saw in your post that you still allow one of your children to "noodle" if she falls down, is unhappy, etc. This is not a healty coping mechanism for her to learn. Sometimes a child must learn to get up, brush themselves off, cry a little bit, and move on. It's ok for a child to be upset. It's part of growing up. I know that is hard for a mother of a young child to comprehend as she doesn't want to lose her "babies," but down the line what is going to happen down the line? If she doesn't get into that Ivy League college that she applied for are you going to let her breastfeed to soothe her? I am sure you are a fabulous mother and I am sure your kids love you to death...I just have some opinions just like the next person. 
Hoo, boy!

Let's take this one point at a time...
I didn't mean to get you all riled up, I just believe that a women should be covered while breastfeeding...and I am a woman.
That's not what you said.  You said it should be illegal.  As in, I'm in public nursing my child, and you see me and call the cops, and they come and cuff me and take me to jail, and obviously my baby isn't going to go to jail with me, so you separate us and put her in foster care or something.  That's what would happen if it were "illegal."  It's a far cry from being covered while nursing.

However, as someone who believes that hyperbole is the best thing EVER!, I understand that while you may have said "illegal" it probably isn't what you truly meant.  Still, I think words have power, and sometimes it's important to think things through to their logical conclusion (mom in jail, nursing pair separated, traumatized baby, strain on the already overburdened legal system, etc. etc.).

You say you are a woman (on the internet, no one knows).  Have you ever breastfed a child?  If you had, you would know that this:
You do not have to use a flannel blanket or sit in your car, but it would be nice if you used a light cloth or something as it does make some people uncomfortable.
...is ridiculous.  

As I said in my other post, any baby over about 3 weeks is going to pull your "light cloth" right off of her head.  If I were her, I would too!  Next time you eat lunch in public, try doing it with a pillowcase over your head, and see how comfortable and inconspicuous you feel.
Also, I saw in your post that you still allow one of your children to "noodle" if she falls down, is unhappy, etc. This is not a healty coping mechanism for her to learn. 
Are you a shrink?  A specialist in childhood development?  A doctor, even?  Because I would like to see credentials, or at the very least some kind of cite from a reputable publication (like a medical journal) that says allowing my child to nurse for comfort is teaching her an unhealthy coping mechanism.

Have you spent any significant time with a child under, say, 2 years old?  They're not really all that reasonable or rational.  They're pretty basic, actually.  They have needs, and when they need they expect the adult in charge to fill that need right now.  They don't think, "Gosh, it's nice that Mom nurses me, this is how I cope with adversity!  Thank God I never need to learn another coping mechanism!"  They think, "Phew!  Mom's still here and taking care of me.  I feel better right now."  They live very much "in the moment."

You have to remember that I already have one child who I nursed until 28 months old, and who has been weaned since December, and who is doing all kinds of wonderful things.  If you had suggested a couple years ago that I might be stunting her emotional growth, I might have thought, "Am I?  Holy crap, I never thought of that!" and panicked over it for the next week or so.  But I have proof that one can "noodle" a child on demand, even for non-nutritive purposes, and still have her turn out happy, healthy, well-adjusted, and able to cope with all sorts of disappointment without turning to my boobs.  Therefore, I am confident that Claire will, too.  And believe me, there will be much rejoicing when that day comes.

Your argument about not getting into an Ivy League college (as IF my brilliant kids won't get into any school they like!) is the same as saying, "You can't let that baby use diapers!  What are you going to do, send her to Harvard in Depends?"  Babies are at a developmental stage where they NEED to nurse/use diapers.  College students are past that age.  It's disingenuous to suggest that what I'm doing with my kids today will be what I'm doing with them 15 or 17 years from now.  It's really a foolish argument.  
Sometimes a child must learn to get up, brush themselves off, cry a little bit, and move on. It's ok for a child to be upset. It's part of growing up. 
You assume that I nurse them every single time they cry until the day they're weaned.  That couldn't be further from the truth.  If Claire gets in trouble for biting (something that has been happening often, lately, because she's at that age...), I will reprimand her, and she will cry, and I don't nurse her to make her feel better.  If she could talk she would say, "Believe me, I get up and brush myself off and cry a little bit and move on every day!  I have an older sister, for Pete's sake, and the bruises to prove it!"
I know that is hard for a mother of a young child to comprehend as she doesn't want to lose her "babies," but down the line what is going to happen down the line?
First of all, I can't WAIT to lose my babies.  Well, not literally lose them, but I'm excited about them growing up.  Babies are a lot of freaking work, and while they may be cute, cuddly, etc. they also cry a lot, don't sleep enough, can't communicate well...  I mean, it's like living with a very short Hitler who only speaks German (or jibberish) and who has a complete heart-rending meltdown every time you dare to defy him.  Good Lord, I can't wait until they're 4 and 6, or 5 and 7, and we can do more fun things (travel, theater, etc.) and we can go entire weeks without any crying.  I know a lot of mommies have a hard time with the idea of their "babies" growing up, but I am not one.

And since Mary Grace is already weaned, I can tell you with confidence that down the line, they're both going to be just fine.  Awesome, even.  Happy, well-adjusted, well-bonded, confident, smart, healthy, ear-infection free children.  

You might remember that the overarching point of the post where I mentioned "noodling" was, "OMG, Brandi, wean him now while you have the chance!!"
If she doesn't get into that Ivy League college that she applied for are you going to let her breastfeed to soothe her? I am sure you are a fabulous mother and I am sure your kids love you to death...I just have some opinions just like the next person. 
Yeah, I already addressed the college bit.

I'm really happy that you came back to clarify your position.  I hope that you'll continue to read and comment, even if we don't see eye to eye on every issue.  And I hope that my explanations have helped you to understand what goes on in a nursing relationship, and why nursing in public is a basic human right that should not be denied to any nursing pair.

Edited to add:  Be sure to read the comments!!

11 comments:

dorindmikey said...

AMy I agree with you completely BUT...here comes the BUT. I did feel that in your previous post you were a bit harsh on bottle feeding.
" Unless you are willing to chew up and partially digest worms and then regurgitate them into your offspring's mouth, or take this sort of risk with your baby, you're pretty much stuck with the boobies."
I felt that you are implying that all mothers who choose to bottle feed are putting their babies at risk. This makes me feel like I am an incompetent mother because I CHOSE to bottle feed.

I think its great that mothers have the option to formula feed. Aside from the mothers who really cna't breast feed due to medical reasons or physical reasons, I belive it is amazing that in this day and age we can CHOSE to opt out of breats feeding for whatever reasons. For instance, to go back to work because a fmaily absolutley cannot survive on one income, or single mothers.

I know your post was directed at breast feeding in particular and again, I completely agree but bottle feeding is not as evil as some pro-breast feeders make it out to be.

I have a quick question for you. What are your beliefs on weaning. Do you decide when to wean or do you make your children have that choice?

p.s - Not trying to stir up trouble just my opinions :)

Amy said...

Dorindmikey - I'm sorry. You're right. I was a little harsh on moms who choose to bottle feed. My personal position on formula has changed as I've watched friends who had every intention of breastfeeding have trouble, and turn to formula.

I think a lot of the fault lies with our culture. What mom can nurse exclusively when she has to return to work at 6 weeks postpartum (or 3 days if you're me!)? Most mothers aren't lucky enough to be sleeping with their boss, as I am, so they don't have the option to take the baby to work, as I did.

I wish our culture, though, were more honest about the risks of formula. I wish mothers were more aware of the dangers (since I've been a nursing mom, I can remember several cases of contaminants in formula - including ground glass!). I wish they didn't give out formula samples in the hospital. I wish that they didn't send new moms formula samples when our kids are about 6 weeks old and we've had it.

I wish it were more commonly known that formula is made from the waste products of the dairy industry. I wish formula were available by prescription only (because then it would be covered by your health insurance!!). I think people would be less likely to give up nursing if formula weren't so easy to get - just as it would be easier to quit smoking if cigarettes weren't so widely available, you know?

I would never judge a mom if I saw her bottle feeding. It may be pumped breastmilk, or the baby may be adopted, or mom might need some lifesaving medication that's incompatible with breastfeeding... I don't know her situation. So, while I may not give her my little thumbs up when I see her in public, I try to remember that not everyone is lucky enough to have the support system in place that I had, which allowed me to nurse both my kiddos well into (and past) their second years of life.

As for weaning, I am a big fan. Mary Grace would still be nursing if I let her, and I couldn't do tandem nursing one more minute when I went to St. Thomas and left her at home (weaning by abandonment, according to the LLL). Since they're too little, even at 28 months, to make a choice, I make it for them (just as I choose to give them shots, etc.). However, I do wish that every mother had the support and resources and situation that I had.

I can't see myself, personally, nursing past about two and a half years of age. But I don't make that choice for other nursing pairs. If you want to nurse your kid until she's 3-1/2, or 4, or 10, it's frankly none of my business. I may think it's a little creepy, but I'll do my best to keep my opinion to myself.

I will judge you, though, if you carry your baby around in her carseat, because that just annoys the snot out of me.

Love and kisses,
Amy

RobMonroe said...

I'm a little iwth dorindmikey on the bottle feeding, but I understand that this is not the focus of the arguement. So I'll move on to...

Where is Anonymous coming from about children needing to suck it up? Absolutely they do, but they also need love and care, and that can be expressed in SO many ways. We have kiss-fests in our house where all three of us get together and pass kisses around. This helps us all and keeps spirits up.

Babies are not children, they are babies. They don't know cause and effect just yet, but they know comfort, love and pain. You go ahead and feed wherever you need to, Amy!

dorindmikey said...

Amy, I'm sorry too. I was writing from a Canadian perpective and we get a year mat leave when we have babies. That's a lot longer than the crappy six weeks you guys get.

We survived through a formula contamiation as well. Same brand my son was being fed but thankfuly ours was manufactured in canada and not the states.

Keep up the good work!

Brandi said...

First and foremost I have to say that I love you!
If you were around when I had Mo and D they would of been BF also. We had all kinds of difficulty with BFing with the both of them and the military Drs in Okinawa were no help. I wish I was more assertive when I was there. Anywho.... I have played on both sides of the fence with breast and bottle feeding and I do feel that I didn't give the first two the same kind of opportunity as I did the last two (the BF ones) Mo and D both had difficult childhoods with illness and disabilities. The BF ones did not. Mo did grow out of it and became a wonderful young woman. I just have to say that anti- BF ers need to remember where we live and that the choice is still ours. So have an opinion if you want. And when you do we will call Amy with all of her knowledge and eloquence and she will give ya a debate to think about. nana nana booboo. pppthhh

Amy said...

Brandi - breastfeeding success depends so much on the education and support that is available to Mom when the child is born. I had more than one lactation consultant at the hospital tell me to "just give her a bottle" when I had trouble feeding MG.

Like anything else, breastfeeding is a skill that requires patient and careful instruction. It's something that both Mom and Baby have to learn.

Like all things in parenting, each person does the best s/he can with the resources available at the time. It would be nice if all new mothers had a former La Leche League leader mom like I have. Not all of us are so lucky, and we do the best we can with what we've got. Snarky blog comments made by yours truly notwithstanding...

Love you too!

And Rob, love you three. I just love all y'all. I am so blessed to have such awesome readers on my little blog - such awesome friends! Even when we disagree...

RobMonroe said...

Now Amy - you have to be a bit more open about those who do not breastfeed. It was genuinely in our plan, but also genuinely never worked. Our daughter was not getting nourishment, we were not getting sleep, and it was not improving. We have professional help. We both bought and rented equipment for pumping, to no avail.

Sometimes the "choice" is not a choice. Mom and Baby were home for 10 full weeks between birth and back-to-school.

Also - I know you're a mom and tend to be mom-oriented, but it should be a joint decision to some degree. In our situation I "put my foot down" so to speak, though it was a foregone conclusion before I finally spoke up. Honestly, I wish I had forced a conversation about breast v bottle earlier. Abby has developed some nasty patterns that we're just now being able to break because of the feelings that Anny had about not being able to breastfeed.

I would implore you to not bash the formula feeders as much. Sometimes it's not so much of a choice as it is necessity for survival, but metaphorically and literally.

Amy said...

Rob - You know I think you're an awesome father. I agree that the decision to breast or bottle feed should be made by both parents. Of course. I also happen to think that Anny is an awesome mother. It sounds like you guys did the best you could, of course, and I don't judge you. Not at all.

But the girl who was my roommate (briefly) when I had Claire, who said, "Eeew!" when asked if she wanted to try to breastfeed her kid... Clearly there needs to be some more normalization in our culture, so that every child's parents give breastfeeding their best shot, as you and Anny did, before they turn to alternate feeding methods.

MWAH!
Amy

Heather said...

And right there, I think, is Amy's point. Our female bodies were built, specifically, to carry babies inside and then birth them. We were also built, specifically, to be able to feed them. You KNOW our culture is whacked when the response to feeding the baby the way we were built to do is, "eww".

I mean, seriously, I've not had to live with the judgment (much), but I have seen - in print - the implication that a mom who nurses her kid is a step away from molesting - 'cause you know, boobies are all about sex and the nursing, sleep-deprived mother of a newborn is just SO in the mood.

In my opinion, the attitude that a nursing mom and baby ought to hide themselves from public view is as offensive as shouting insults at a gay couple for holding hands in public. Are expressions of love and caring really that horrible?!

strwberrryjoy said...

Yay, Amy! Great Post! I believe that the majority of people who tried to breastfeed and could not suffered from the effects of POOR NURSING MANAGEMENT. Most people do not even know what this is. Healthy, full-term infants DO NOT NEED and should not get formula, fake nipples, such as nipple shields, bottles, pacis, etc for 6-8 weeks. Most people also do not know that it takes 6 weeks to build a milk supply. Mom/baby should be laying in bed, nursing and doing nothing but basic self-care and feeding for the first 6-8 weeks. SO SAD that many companies want their employees back at that time. No wonder people turn to the quick fix formula. And it is a quick fix. It's all about determination. I've read and heard some amazing stories about overcoming HUGE breastfeeding obstacles. I took was lucky to be raised by a LLL mom. I in turn have become a LLL mom. I think the thing that bothers me is when people don't try or claim it's better or my "practical" to breastfeed. I don't see how the gal I saw at the museum washing 4 baby bottles in the sink there is having an easier time...anyway...great post! And NOODLING IS GOOD. There is no wrong reason to nurse. NO wonder breastfed babies are smarter...and dare I say "more loved." (At the risk of pressing some hot buttons.) A baby "normally" won't wean before 18-24 months. So sad so many are cut off sooner...(end of "rant")

Heather @ Not a DIY Life said...

Amy, absolutely fabulous post and discussion! I love it that you stand fast with your opinion but are respectful of others' opinions as well.

My Ladybug is almost 16 months and we both love nursing. I know that I would not have made it this far without wonderful support and I am very thankful!

I love it that LB can turn to me for nutrition AND comfort. In fact, I had to take a break from writing this comment so she could nurse. I hate that "people" try to make babies independent before they are developmentally ready for it. I love it that she needs me. But I will also love it when she gains independence too.