It was Friday, and as most every other Friday, I was with my Yummy Mummy group at a cafe for some catching-up-on-the-sprogs time. We all had our kids within a few weeks of each other, and at one of the two local hospitals, so it’s great to see where Alex will be in a fornight’s time or so based off of what other babies are up to. We usually spend 3 hours or so catching up, and so everyone brings the usual bag of tricks for their kids (blankies, soft toys, diaper changes) as well as a meal. And babies being what they are, at one point we were all feeding our children.
The woman’s eyes slanted into daggers as she saw my bottle from across the room. A scowl spread across her face, reading the horrible truth – I was a Bad Mother for feeding my child crap in a can, versus from the font of Wisdom and Light that are my breasts. You could see she debated herself for a moment about coming over and saying something, but time (or maybe a sense of self preservation, as I am a larger woman with a pink mohawk) stopped her from speaking out. But I wish she would have. I wish she would have come over so I could tell her
- how I had breast reduction 10 years ago, slicing through many nerves and ducts as a trade off for having breasts that didn’t cause back spasms.
- how I furiously researched bfar (Breast Feeding After Reduction) so that I could have the best chance possible for a bf relationship with my child.
- how I had met with doctors to rule out tongue or lip tie, lactation counsellors for proper attachment, and various groups like La Leche League for moral support.
- and how I had tried every wives tale and holistic approach known to man and internet to get my supply up, including but not limited to
- Fenugreek, Brewer’s Yeast, Fennel tea, Raspberry leaf tea, Blessed thistle tincture, and the ungodly awful tasting Lactation Cookies.
- Pumping furiously around the clock
- Warm compressions
- Massage which lead to a vice grip like lock on my breasts to squeeze every drop off
- Nipple stimulation, warm showers, nursing in the bath
- Recording my child’s cry and playing it back to stimulate let down (Editor’s note, don’t ever do this. If you get 45 seconds when your newborn isn’t crying, don’t force yourself to listen to the Memorex version, you will go mad).
- Thinking milky thoughts, which to this day I don’t really understand. I tended to visualize a Niagara Falls of lactation.
- And anything else that anyone else suggested.
I would have liked to told her how I wasted so many precious moments of my child’s first months hating myself for being an inadequate woman and mother, and in my darker moments resenting my child for needing so much of what I could not give. I would have liked to ask her if she also was judgemental about mothers cloth diapering versus using disposables, or pushing their children in a pram versus carrying them, or if she also inspected babies in the changing rooms to see who was circumcised or had been given inoculations and who hadn’t. I would have liked to ask her if she spent as much time worried about her own kids as she did about the eating habits of mine. But I didn’t. And for me, and the lady with the dagger eyes, and I assure you the security staff at the cafe, this silent encounter was all for the best.
There are names for women who go far past the concept of ‘Breast is Best’, and into the realm of ‘If you feed your kid formula, you may as well accept they will end up retarded and a serial killer because of your poor parenting’. I have heard Boob Nazi thrown about, as well as Breastapo. I don’t like these names, because in my mind they trivialize the Holocaust, and that isn’t cool. However, I have no problem calling them what they are: Self righteous bitches.
So, to the self righteous bitch at Whole Foods last Friday who looked at me like I was Andrea Yates for daring to raise a Dr Brown’s bottle to my child’s lips: I’m sorry I’m not like you. I’m sorry my breasts don’t burst forth with the nectar of the Gods that is the Sacred Lactic Nourishment. I’m sorry I had to work and fail to naturally feed my kid. I am more sorry that you will ever understand. But my tears over my inability to sate my child are over. I am focused on caring for him the best I can. If you are unwilling to give me the benefit of the doubt and look for more than 10 seconds and see that I love my child more than my own life, I am sorry for you.
And if you ever, ever give me that sanctimonious look again, I will make you rue the day you ever turned eyes on me.