Oh mamas... I've been ruminating on posting something similar to this thread for a while now. I've been seeing a lot of posts here and on another email list that just bring back all the feelings I thought I’d finally laid to rest. Feelings of inadequacy and guilt, questions of whether or not there was something else I could have, should have tried.
No, please make no mistake, I'm not advocating for the willfully ignorant or the lazy, whom I know is who the offending comments are truly aimed at. I just wish that more ladies realized that for every mama out there who just decided not to breastfeed because she didn't feel like it, there is another, sitting at home or in the bathroom at work or school, strapped to stupid, f@$%ing machine, trying to do what's best for her baby. There's a whole, small army out there of struggling women who are pounding tea and herbs, experimenting with pharmaceuticals and feeling betrayed by their own bodies. Until you've struggled with it, watched your baby lose weight and cry for hours from hunger and frustration, there is no way you can realize how lonely and difficult a road it can be. Particularly when surrounded by women who make it seem so effortless.
I have a thick skin by nature and tend to let things roll right off my back pretty easily, but I do keep getting the distinct impression that there are women, those who have never really struggled with breastfeeding, who think that it is simply an entirely black and white issue. That if you were “stranded on a desert island with only your baby and no formula or milk ” that your body would just miraculously start producing. That if for some reason something's not working for a mama they think it's just some subconscious decision you've made about not REALLY wanting to breastfeed, that it's a matter of your lack of commitment.
Every time I read or hear some flip comment about women who "claim" they aren't able to breastfeed exclusively it is impossible for some tiny part of me to not feel like less of a mother, less of woman, because I wasn't able to have mine and my son’s ideal breastfeeding relationship. No matter how many times you tell yourself you did the best you could and that some breast milk, every last drop, is far better than none, it still hurts. I actually read an email just last week where one woman made the statement that “I find that people will find any excuse to stop doing something that they’re not really all that committed to in the first place.”
More than a year has passed since my supply dried up and STILL I felt my blood pressure shoot through the roof and my blood boil.
Furthermore, at times it’s as if like the few women who do seem realize that there are a few shades of grey in the breastfeeding spectrum are only really giving it lip service, without really believing what they are saying. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen something prefaced with “And YES, I know there are women who can’t breastfeed, who have low supply, blah, blah, blah. BUT….” (Yes, actually with “blah, blah, blah”)
I find this most troubling because, Lactivism forum aside, a breastfeeding forum is more than likely be frequented by a fair number of women who are struggling and are in search of support and information. To not acknowledge this audience in a respectful and gentle manner is just downright insensitive and, like it or not, hurtful. To imply that a woman who has been pumping around the clock, offering the breast every second she’s not pumping, drinking odd tasting tea and desperately groping her boobies in the hopes to stimulate milk production is being too sensitive when she takes a comment to heart is kind of ridiculous. OF COURSE she’s being too sensitive! It’s impossible not to be when you’re on the normal emotional and hormonal roller coaster that accompanies motherhood combined with the feelings of fear and guilt and shame that come with struggling with breastfeeding.
I suppose I really just wish all mamas everywhere could make sure they’re being supportive of each other. (And, of course, I’m not referring to letting your kids eat McDonald’s all day long or locking them in their rooms or anything like that.) All the passive aggressiveness and backbiting out there just makes me so sad. I truly believe when people, women especially, aren’t being kind to those around them, it’s because they aren’t being kind to themselves first. And that’s the saddest part of all.
Thanks for starting this thread and thanks to all the other mamas who have responded. I wish I had found this board 2.5 years ago.