Another day, another ‘nurse-in’.
Time for my quarterly ‘I’m too kewl and genius for the room ”cause I breastfeed anywhere I want’ story. I write these as often as the new mommy cries for attention get national coverage and then I watch my Facebook and Twitter fans dwindle in response because I have dared to question the sanctity and moral relevance of the breast. I may be an asshole, but I would argue, it’s not for this reason.
This time, my nurse in eye-roll honors Michelle Hickman, a Houston, Texas mom who reportedly got offended when it was suggested to her that maybe she go into the ladies fitting room to nurse her baby instead of sitting smack in the middle of the filthy Target floor to nurse her kid. Of course, she lost her shit, played up all the false outrage she could muster and held her persecution high, waving the flag of the tortured and martyred soul of the repressed.
Forget that there are kids in Uganda who have their genitals cut off by Witch-doctors as part of common societal sacrifices. Forget that a blind and deaf 9-year-old girl was just bludgeoned to death and dismembered on the doorstep of her mother’s friend in Indiana. Forget that there are places where women aren’t allowed to drive or vote or speak to a man unless they ask her a question or give her permission or that little girls are forced to marry old men and have sex with them before they’ve even reach puberty, and that is common in some countries. The list goes on…but of course, the travesty of asking a mother if she’d rather not sit on the floor and nurse is grotesque, abhorrent torture that is of priority over all travesties in this world, right?
What I want to know…what makes her so fucking special? Does breastfeeding give you the right to just sit your ass down, in the middle of the store and tell everyone to fucking deal because you and your kid are so fucking special? Why would you be offended if asked if you’d be more comfortable breastfeeding in a fitting room? I would so rather breastfeed in a fitting room than on a the floor.
These chicks and their first world problems are as annoying as they are spoiled.
Reality check: Your self importance is only minimized by your small world reference. While there are people out there who have legitimate battles and real problems in their lives, I hesitate to say, given the spiteful revenge of breastfeeding “victims”, that asking a woman if she’d be more comfortable in a fitting room (there’s a bench and privacy, something even bottle-feeding mothers would likely appreciate), is not a real problem. It’s not even close. It’s a made up problem of the ‘Real Housewives of xyz-city’.
How many babies have died in America because their moms were offended? How many babies have died in America because some cashier gave them a dirty look? For all the times that these human rights travesties happened, how many times have women successfully breastfed in public and lived to tell the tale? (Oh, I know. The last one is mundane and doesn’t give you a spot on Anderson Cooper nor does it give you a chance to be part of something that gives you self-worth and identity.)
Seriously, am I the only one asking, “Who the fuck cares???”
Sarah Palin’s retort?
“It’s no wonder Michelle Obama is telling everybody you need to breast feed your babies … the price of milk is so high!”
This has caused the mommy blogosphere to go ape shit and accuse Sarah Palin of having a lower IQ than a goldfish. The left has created a mock-fest out of this by smugly and arrogantly pointing out that you don’t give non-breastfeeding babies milk, but rather, infant formula.
Now, I’ll admit, I’m not a big fan of Sarah Palin (in fact, her voice makes me cringe) and I have no confidence in her as an elected official, however, the last laugh is on those who are trying so desperately to degrade Palin and the knee jerk insecurity that goes along with trying to prove that Sarah Palin is an idiot at all costs.
The truth is, if the price of milk continues to go up, so will infant formula — the majority of infant formula in the U.S. uses cow’s milk whey and casein as their base. Furthermore, it was a joke (even if it was a bad one) that made a valid point in my opinion. Perhaps we have more pressing issues (ie; economy, food prices, gas prices, unemployment, etc.) than whether or not an already educated society breastfeeds. Most women in the U.S. at least initiate breastfeeding. The jig is up. We get it. Breast is best, move on already. Lastly, Sarah Palin did in fact breastfeed her children so let’s not try to politicize this.
And this all on the heels of recent press conference President Obama in which Obama threatened the devastation and unethical suggestion of cutting off funding for poor children in this country who need formula. He was playing on American’s sympathy. Think about the children!!
So, which is it? Are we trying to get the poor to breastfeed so we can cut funding to WIC? Or are we trying to get more babies to suck on the artificial breast teat? Maybe Mr. and Mrs. POTUS need more dates, so they can, ya know, talk to each other and get on the same page.
Either way, this should prove to keep the mommy bloggers tied up this weekend.
Where’s the popcorn?
Jennifer Lopez is making big news after her April 5th People Magazine spread featuring her newborn twins. Is it because of the over-the-top ornate nursery? Her husband’s pink shirt? Or the very idea of her running down her driveway in high heels and evening wear pushing a pram for kicks? No, it’s because she said she chose not to breastfeed the twins. She gave a two-sentence explanation, “My mom didn’t breast feed and I think that was the thing for me. You read and figure out what’s the best thing for them.”
That opened the hatches and all hell broke loose. Just Google “Jennifer Lopez” and “breast feeding” and you’ll see a ton of links to blogs about what a bad example she’s setting for mothers everywhere. She’s being criticized for not only choosing to bottle feed, but also for her so-called “excuse.”
I’ve never been a fan of J.Lo. For a long time, I referred to her only as, “That Bitch Who Stole Ben Affleck,” of course that ended and the official title went to Jennifer Garner. But, I feel obligated to speak up in defense of J.Lo. now (Who knew I’d ever be pitying her?), because her rings and perfect hair don’t mean anything in the world of motherhood.
I’m a three-time breastfeeding failure. I made honest efforts with two of them (the first and third). The middle I just bottle fed from the start, because I was so anxious and frustrated after my experience with trying and failing with the first child and my run-ins with the zealous “lactivist” members, I didn’t even want to try. It still pains me that I failed with the two. I know with my whole self that I tried to the best of my abilities. That’s not to say that some other mother couldn’t have tried for longer and maybe been able to work through the same issues. But, I know that I made my personal best effort, and that’s the best I can do.
After all those years of mulling over the feelings and facts from my own standpoint, I can say that it doesn’t matter what reason a woman gives for not breast feeding. Often that reason is torn apart and criticized or it’s just not even true. When asked why I didn’t breast feed (and I’ve been asked in casual conversation countless times), I’ve found myself lying. It is such a raw and personal experience, and sometimes the truth is too revealing, leaving you too vulnerable to spit out to some doctor you’ve known for exactly three minutes, or some casual acquaintance at the park who may be genuinely interested, or may be looking to “re-educate” you about how you really could have succeeded if only this or that happened. She’ll tell you next time you should make sure you do this or that differently so you can “do things right” next time (with the implication that it’s all “wrong” with the current kid). Furthermore, some information is better not unleashed into a small, tight group of mothers who you have to see all the time and your kids have to associate with regularly. So, personally, I take Jennifer Lopez’s explanation with a grain of salt. Maybe it’s true, or maybe it’s not. The explanation was simply, from my experience, a two sentence statement to be read: This is what I chose, now leave me alone.
Maybe there should be some anonymous information bank somewhere, and women can leave detailed accounts of their experiences so that some big committee can examine it and use it to make changes to increase breastfeeding rates. Wouldn’t that be more constructive than bashing Jennifer Lopez on a blog?
Now, I know that breast feeders get bashed too. I’ve read some truly sick things in regards to public breast feeding and extended breast feeding. I know that those who choose to breast feed have their own battles, and I support them in their rights. But, really, so does everyone else. They have the World Health Organization, they have the American Academy of Pediatrics, and they have lawyers through LLL to help them with legal battles when their rights are being trampled. Being a breast feeder in today’s world is not a lonely choice. You can name a dozen celebrities off the top of your head who have breast fed and gone unblogged. But, you get this one and the world goes crazy.
Jennifer Lopez obviously loves those babies more than life. They will be raised in ridiculous opulence, given every privilege that a child could hope for. That such a deal is being made about her feeding method is disgusting. There are children born addicted to crack, with parents who abuse them impulsively or with premeditation. There are layers of festering illness that permeate family dynamics that we can’t even begin to understand. But, this woman’s feeding method is what is dominating our attention. And that’s supposed to make some sense?
I feel for Jennifer Lopez. I know what it’s like to make the unpopular choice, the choice that does not have science and world-wide medical establishments backing it. I know what it’s like to be asked to explain that choice and then suffer cruel criticism for the choice and the explanation. But, the truth is, while those who succeed at breastfeeding may be giving their children some health advantages, those of us who have treaded the territory of making the other choice get an earlier indoctrination into motherhood. This is the reality of it. You will make unpopular choices. You will choose your own sanity over the “right” thing sometime during your tenure, and later realize it was the best decision you could have made for everyone involved. You will also receive bad news at some point, and wonder whether you were the cause of it because of some choice you made on behalf of your child. Your idea of “right” will differ from someone else’s idea of “right” and you’ll question everything. This is motherhood. Get used to it.
But, what I hope from new mothers is that they won’t get so defensive of their methods that they cross the line and become malicious to other mothers who make different choices. We should give each other the benefit of the doubt, and assume that unless we’re shown otherwise, that other mother loves her child as much as we love ours. She’s as bright and caring as we are, and she’s reached her decision with as much thorough deliberation as we reach ours. And whatever that deliberation consisted of is none of our business. Because babies don’t need to be rescued from formula. They don’t need to be saved from baby-carriers or strollers and put in Maya wraps instead. Cribs are not cages. There is a very clear line in our legal system as to what constitutes abuse, and it is only insulting to those suffering from actual abuse to be focusing so much of our collective hostility on these differences of parenting practice. It’s almost like we’re looking for an excuse not to get our hands dirty with the real issues. And, ironically, so many of the little girls suffering this very minute in those real abusive conditions will be mothers themselves someday, and when asked what could have been done to help them succeed at breast feeding, they’ll give some flippant, unrelated answer, but they may be thinking You could have helped me fifteen years ago, instead of ranting about what a horrible mother Jennifer Lopez was.
Okay, so our site logs lead me to it…a breastfeeding.com thread in which a link to an Imperfect Parent column sparked many tangents on a debate board. Kelly Cunningham’s essay, “Don’t Even Bother: The Case Against Childbirth Education Calsses” was the target of scoff in a thread entitled: Everything wrong with birth in our birth culture. Basically, the old “natural birth vs. assisted birth” debate made for old-school debate fodder when it took a surprisingly sharp turn into the bowels of maternal control and rage, accusing doctors who intervened during the sacred process of birthing and interfering with their birthing desires, as a crime and psychological significant of being raped.
Then they argued as to whether it was rape or assault and who had actually been raped and who was qualified to categorize it as “rape”.
Yep. They call it “birth rape”.
So to all the fine, imperfect people out there, can medical intervention be classified as “rape”, if it is against the implied, specific or vague birth plan of the mother? If you wish to read where the “birth rape” started, go to page 33, post #323.
An analysis by STATS.org, a non-partisan organization based out of George Mason University, is starting to question the campaign towards spinning statistics in order to guilt mothers into breastfeeding.
Why, you ask?…because it is highly political. Breastfeeding represents certain political, social and moral ideals while formula represents corporate America and women succumbing to the pressures of American society with short maternity leaves, an industry that contributes to environmental pollution and the sexualization of a woman’s breasts.
STATS.org offers some perspective in one of breastfeeding advocacy’s statistical weapons, a scare tactic about childhood cancer:
One notable addition to the list of ills which breast-feeding guards against, notes Orent, comes from a 400-page HHS Agency for Health Care Research and Quality study. It concludes that childhood leukemia is reduced by as much as 19 percent for breastfed babies, as compared to non-breastfed babies.
But given that there are approximately 30 leukemia cases in a million children, a 20 percent reduction due to breastfeeding avoids a risk of 1 in 150,000 that your child will develop leukemia; of these, 50 to 80% survive, depending on the type of leukemia. In other words, insisting that all women breast feed (and for more than six months) would save less than one life in 300,000.
While one could easily argue that saving one child’s life in 300,000 is something that our society should strive for, the actual stats are likely not to be statistically significant.
STATS.org goes on to ask us to consider this:
In other words, driving safely is more than twice as risky for death than not nursing and getting leukemia as a result.
And then, if you are genuinely concerned about risk, there are the approximately 203,000 kids who were injured as passengers in 2005. Yet, it’s hard to imagine any newspaper running an op-ed warning mothers to avoid letting their child inside a car, and chastising the government for being in league with the auto industry to suppress the risk.
If certain women wish to shape PUBLIC POLICY based on statistics, shouldn’t it be presented accurately and with fairness? Honestly, the whole idea of government mandating breastfeeding or creating social and political policies or possible tax breaks to women who breastfeed coupled with using propaganda to “punish” corporations leaves me contemptuous towards those who wish to force their agendas on me (or women on a whole). Women deserve better. Women deserve accurate information and they deserve to have a choice in the matter.
In my opinion, the zeal to empower women and lead them into certain social choices is in actuality, setting them back many years. Present the truth and let women decide. Nobody should be influenced by false representations, especially by their own government.
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