I want to preface this blog with this:
First: Breastfeeding is great. If it works for you. I’m all for normalizing breastfeeding and protecting mothers right to breastfeeding wherever their baby happens to get hungry.
Second: WIC is a great program that is very much helping our family right now.
Now, on to the blog.
I just want to share something I experienced that I considered shaming in regards to how I feed my children. In order to obtain your wic benefits you have to complete ‘classes.’ They’re never very long and provide, in my opinion, basic knowledge. The last one I completed though, has made me want to cry daily since Monday. The class I had to take was, of course, related to breastfeeding. I wish this topic wasn’t so stressful/upsetting/triggering for me. Maybe one day. So, here’s what happened.
I log in to the class.
They ask if I’m interested in breastfeeding.
I say no.
👆🏻this screen popped up. Do you see the look on her face? At this point I just laughed at the fact that they’re trying too hard. Since I wasn’t interested in learning more I just clicked on ‘continue.’ When this screen pops up. 👇🏻
I roll my eyes. Ok, fine. I’ll read an article. Afterwards they ask again if I’m interested in learning more about breastfeeding. Just look how hopeful she is at this point.
I, again, say no. So, this is my second time saying no. At this point, in my opinion, it should be done. They should leave it alone. Right? But NO. And look at her face this time. She looks like a scolding grandmother. Also, the headline is so misleading. You’re not bonded to your baby because of how you feed them. A woman could have a baby brought to her, breastfeed that baby, and have him/her taken away immediately. Guess who is not going to be bonded. That woman and baby. But a woman who uses formula *gasp* and rocks that baby, and cuddles them, and talks to them, and holds them? That pair is going to be bonded. And breastfeeding certainly didn’t bond me to Zara. Unless you consider ‘bonding,’ wanting nothing to with her/resenting her and myself/wanting to leave her with David and never be seen again.
So let’s talk about the options as to why you’re not interested. The reason I’m not interested isn’t on there. I’m certain the reason millions of other women aren’t breastfeeding isn’t on there. I’m not interested because of my mental health. Other moms have other medical issues that prohibits this. But, most importantly, WHY DOES IT MATTER? Anyhow, I pushed other and had to give an answer. Here it is.
“I’m not interested in breastfeeding. I’m perfectly happy using formula as it’s the right choice for my family. Mom and babies are happy and healthy with this choice. Why are you trying to shove breastfeeding down my throat? All it is doing is making me resent it more. I had a traumatic experience with my first and I don’t want that this time around.”
The screen following this asked several questions about whether or not this or that factor is important to me in making the decision to breastfeed. I answered, ‘this doesn’t apply to me’ to all of them. I’ll add that picture later because I think one of the questions is funny and I want to end this on a funny note.
But before then a few things of importance.
1. At the end of this class I wasn’t successful in completing the class. I’m ‘still working on it.’ I took another class about understanding my babies cues, which I do, and luckily was successful in that one. Now, I may be sensitive on this issue (I totally am) but that to me says that you’re only successful if you’re breastfeeding. Which ISN’T TRUE.
2. There is so much talk about breastfeeding shaming because you might get looked at funny in public. And you know what? That really sucks. But, Who cares if somebody else is uncomfortable? You’re not responsible for their feelings. (The exception is if you know someone is uncomfortable and you’re only breastfeeding to make a point. Let’s all be adults.) Come back and we’ll talk when these things happen:
You’re called lazy.
You’re called a shitty mom.
You’re told to get on Zoloft, get over yourself and do what we all know is best.
You’re called selfish.
When you’re asked “Do you even care about your child?”
When you’re told that your child won’t be as smart or healthy as breastfed kids.
When a stranger asks, ‘well, have you tried formula feeding?’ When you go to the store to buy a breast pump after a week of hell, becoming suicidal, becoming homicidal, being told that it’s breastmilk or a hospital for fluids, when all you wanted was to use formula because all you’ve ever heard is how fantastic formula is. And you just couldn’t take it and failed.
When, TWO YEARS LATER, you still question if you daughter would be smarter or healthier if you had formula fed. When you know very well that she is so so so intelligent. Eager to learn. When you’re told to stop worrying because, “she just walked up with an A and said, ‘A.’ My almost 4 year old doesn’t know that yet.” And she knows almost all of her letters, animals and their sounds, is learning her numbers/how to count, and has started showing interest in learning colors. WHY AM I INSECURE ABOUT THAT?
When you cry on the inside every time someone pulls out a bottle and formula because you failed at that. When you die a little bit inside.(this isn’t me saying that I would ever ask someone to go into another room. It’s really lovely for them to breastfeed. It doesn’t take away the feeling of intense failure on my part.)
Do you know how easy it would be to just have someone look at me funny? Tell me, which would you rather?
3. I posted this in my fearless formula feeders group. The one place I can vent about propaganda such as this. And several commenters said that they’re just trying to save money because they are government funded. I get it. We all get it. But there is an appropriate way to do that. And this isn’t it. And the reason this riled me up so much is for the mom I was with Zara. And for the hundreds…thousands…millions? Of moms who are in that place right now. Or will be in that place. Moms who wanted so badly to breastfeed. Who never thought they’d feed their baby formula. Who is struggling and feels like something is wrong, but told that everything is normal and not to worry, and listens to that instead of her instincts. Who feels trapped by doing something she hates because it would be too shameful to use formula. For moms whose depression is driven into the ground because breastfeeding isn’t what she thought it would be. For the moms who tells herself over and over that her babies deserve a mom who likes breastfeeding because formula is just that bad.
I’ll be honest, guys. If you couldn’t tell, breastfeeding is pretty triggering for me. Not because I am against it. But because that is what I thought was going to make me a good mom. And I couldn’t. How can I be a good mom if I don’t breastfeed? But, does how you feed your baby make you a good or bad mom? Or does loving your baby with all you have make you a good mom? Listening to your kids, holding them when they cry, going on adventures, and making memories. Because, let’s all be real moms here and admit that breast or formula fed, they’re still eating off the car floor when they are 2 years old. If you went in to a kindergarten class would you be able to tell who was breastfed or formula fed by how they look? How well they write? How high they can count? I don’t think so.
And this is the funny part to me. The last question. They make it sound like formula feeding is just such exhausting work. It’s actually pretty simple.
If you read the whole thing you’re a champ. And thank you.
End formula shaming.
End mom wars.