I want to start off with a few things I don’t want to deal with when writing this post.
For one, if you are one of those people that reads anything about breastfeeding and then feels an uncontrollable urge to comment well formula feeders have to deal with all that and more– move along, and keep it to yourself while doing so.
For another, if your panties crawl up your back hole when you hear words like breast or boob or nipple or whatever; if it makes you even feel awkward and somewhat sexual to hear or read them – move along, as well.
And for a third thing, if you are a formula feeding mother who is going to get offended because I am now going to go on complaining about breastfeeding, because you couldn’t or didn’t have the time or whatever; I’m sorry, but you need to stop here too. I don’t have the mental capacity right now, when I feel like shit as a mother about everything as is, to feel even more like shit because I feel like shit about something that I should totally feel hashtag-blessed to be able to do.
I don’t have time for any of that nonsense.
Breastfeeding is just such crap you guys.
Like it really is best – that’s another thing, please don’t at me with your no, fed is best happy horse shit. No, it’s not. I mean if it’s a choice between letting your baby die and feeding them formula, OF COURSE feeding them formula is the right choice. But isolated in terms of empirical and scientific evidence alone, breastmilk is actually the best thing for baby. If – and this is a big if – it’s possible.
There are a lot of things that make it impossible. A mom’s health. A mom’s supply. A mom’s lifestyle. Baby’s lifestyle. Baby’s health. Baby’s immune system. And so on. There are a lot of instances in which women end up feeding their babies formula, some of which are just because they wanted to. And that’s perfectly fine. It’s great! Baby is fed, that’s cool.
But if you are in the camp of us that did end up breastfeeding – either by choice, necessity, guilt, or whatever – it fucking sucks.
I am currently experiencing a trifecta of health problems: 1) severe allergies; 2) chronic sinusitis; and, 3) what I am assuming is an undiagnosed but long standing case of TMJ. It only occurred to me recently when the dentist suggested that I probably have TMJ to look into it. There’re like 40 symptoms of it, of which I have 39. Anyway, I’ve had these problems for pretty much forever, especially the allergies and sinus problems; and I had them pretty under control.
That is until I had my third deliciously chunky kid, in the 2010s – what I like to call the post-Michael Jackson-death opioid epidemic era – when ain’t nobody wants to treat a pregnant or lactating mother for shit because they’re afraid they’ll get sued or, worse, go to jail lest something bad happens. Because bad things are happening to every day people all the time now, and mothers are always the ones yelling that they want to speak to the manager – so obviously they’ll be the most likely to sue.
What a time to be alive, amiright?
So my baby is 18 months old now. I’m trying to not actually be one of those mothers that counts things out by the month, but then when I say something like well he’s a little over a year people glaze. The really blunt ones will sarcastically ask me do you …know… how old your child is? – to which I have to answer with a laugh, all-the-while resisting the urge to slap a bitch.
So anyway, a little over a year ago, before he was six months old, our family doctor and I had this plan to treat my allergies and sinusitis as needed to get through until I was done breastfeeding and could go gung-ho on my previous treatment of the problems. Of course, the way it was handled before wasn’t an option while I was pregnant or now, while I am breastfeeding; so this seemed a tenable solution.
Then my kid turned six months and suddenly the family doctor seemed to be on a crusade to get me to stop breastfeeding.
Well she stopped at six months, why wouldn’t I?
He’s eight months old now, he should be entirely on solid foods.
A year! Well that’s all is standard in America, we really need to push him to stop.
And as time drudged on, she began to push back on treating me – her patient – because of her disagreement with my choice to breastfeed.
He’s now a year and a half and still going strong. He eats regular meals as well, but still gets his milkies whenever he wants them (which he signifies by walking up to me and putting his hand down my shirt, shouting BOB! BOB!).
So flash forward to today, I’ve had a really really bad flare up of my allergies and chronic sinusitis; and I went to refill the prescription that is OK to take while lactating – the thing that we had as our plan to make things work while I continued to breastfeed.
So the pharmacy called the doctor, as did I. Several days and phone calls went by before they finally got back to me today – while, of course, I was in the shower.
No refills. Doctor wants to see you first because she says you shouldn’t be breastfeeding anymore so just give the front desk a call to make an appointment.
I called and said “no, I’m still breastfeeding, do you still want me to make the appointment?”
Yes, she wants to have a serious discussion about your continued breastfeeding in the office before any medications are dispensed.
Are. You. Fucking. Kidding. Me?!
And this – in my opinion – is why ultimately so many women that want to breastfeed do not. A lack of support. I can see a number of circumstances in which a woman wanted to breastfeed for the two years the WHO or UNICEF recommends (or even just breastfeed at all), and then got discouraged for any number of reasons revolving around a lack of community support, so gave up.
I can even see instances in which a woman thought she couldn’t breastfeed when really all she needed was a good doctor or lactation consultant to help her make it work.
This is why breastfeeding is total crap – everyone acknowledges that it is without a doubt – from an evidence-based, empirical standpoint – what is healthiest for baby, but no one actually wants you to do it.
And if you breastfeed beyond a year in America – well watch out! Everyone is coming at you left and right to tell you about what they read or heard is actually the case about the composition of your milk at a year. Or, less eloquently, with phrases like “if the kid can chew a steak, he shouldn’t be chewing on your tit.”
A few months ago, I had my annual visit with my allergist. They’re just as bad about the prescribing of things, and have deferred to the family physician until I’m done nursing as well. But what they do continue to do is treat my asthma. Anyway, so it’s been five years since I had allergy testing, and I had received the letter that it was time to get that done again; so I booked my appointment. At some point I will begin treating my allergies (with allergy shots) again, so why wouldn’t I…right?
As I waited in the waiting room with the paper robe on my front, I heard a baby crying in the next exam room over and my milk let down, soaking the paper smock. The nurse walked in, took one look at me, and walked out saying just a sec. Like five minutes later, the doctor – an allergist I had actually never met before, not my usual allergist in the practice – came in the room and said I should reschedule when I am feeling better.
Feeling better?! The fuck does that mean? Nursing isn’t an ailment!
That’s what I said in my head, really I just clarified that I was still breastfeeding and sorry, I’ll put on a new smock.
They refused to perform the allergy test.
I see stories all the time on the Internet and hear them from people about the ugly side of being a nursing mother; and yet I never really believed it until recently. It is the most natural and biologically normal thing for a mother to do, and yet – for whatever reason – society is totally and completely aghast in the face of it.
Breastfeeding fucking sucks. But so does saying No to that perfect, little face that I have kept alive for a year and a half, as he shouts like a terrorist BOB! BOB! BOB!