FFF Friday: “I blamed myself for being too weak to cope emotionally…”

Thanksgiving is coming up here in the States, and everyone is talking about what they are most thankful for.

I am thankful for formula.

I am thankful it gives us the ability to nourish children who might otherwise not be nourished. I am thankful it can be used as a stop-gap measure to get breastfeeding off to a good start. I am thankful it can feed kids with severe food allergies.

And I am incredibility thankful it gives mothers like Emily an alternative. Because feeding your child should not be an act of contrition, nor should it serve as a means of re-traumatizing someone who has already suffered unspeakable pain. Nothing is worth that, and I am thankful that formula can give those of us whose bodies are bogged down by complex emotional histories a way to alleviate some of the burden. If you’ve never known what it feels like to shudder at someone’s touch – someone you are programmed to love, and to nurture – you have no idea the level of pain that can cause. So I am thankful. I am so thankful. 

I’m also thankful for Emily, for having the courage to share her story.

Happy Friday, fearless ones,

The FFF

***

Emily’s Story

I have a history of severe, long term, childhood sexual abuse. As a result I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a chronic pain condition called Vulvodynia, and multiple minor physical pain and nerve damage issues. I couldn’t stand the idea of losing anything else to my past, but in the end, I lost breastfeeding to it. After 3 attempts I am finally at peace with that, but not before plenty of judgement, poor care and pain both emotional and physical.

In hindsight, I have no idea why no one even suspected the issues before my first was born. My issues meant that I had a few special requirements related to the birth, and as a result had to give some quick summary of my abuse to anyone I dealt with. Even after hearing about permanent issues I have as a result of my past, no one ever once questioned whether there had been any considerable physical trauma to my breasts, as indeed there had been. I was registered at a birth center, with midwives. I heard the statistics that 98% of women can breastfeed, I knew the ‘booby traps’ and I researched latch, I was ready. My mother had breastfed 4 children without a problem and was part of the Australian Breastfeeding Association (our own version of the LLL) and while she was no longer part of my life I still felt a need to prove I could do just as much as she did. I never anticipated a problem.

I had the right start, skin to skin, immediate feeding, rooming in, everything seemed to be going as it should. But within 48 hours it began to hurt to feed. On top of this, baby was HUNGRY. On our third night after the birth baby screamed for hours while refusing my breast completely. We called the midwives in desperation, asking what to do. She said about the only useful advice I ever received on baby feeding ‘Give baby some formula, and come in first thing in the morning to see the lactation consultant’. Formula? What kind? How much? She had no idea, and at 3 in the morning with a hysterical child neither did we. We don’t get formula samples here in Australia. Thank God my grandmother had more sense than me. She had bought me one box of single-serve formula sachets, and insisted that I keep them in the back of the cupboard just in case of emergency. I had done so to humour her, but I am so grateful she did it. We fed baby some formula from the one bottle which came with my manual pump and she guzzled it down. I remember feeling so terribly, terribly guilty. But, I didn’t feel guilty about giving her formula, I felt guilty about unknowingly starving her for almost 4 days. I suppose I was lucky that way, I always knew feeding my baby was much, much more important than breast vs bottle.

We spoke to the LC who sent me home with instructions to pump every hour and a half during the day and every 3 at night. I haven’t mentioned my husband yet but he was amazingly supportive. However, he had no choice but to go to work due to our situation at the time. My grandma came over and taught me how to sterilize bottles for supplementing after the feed and helped watch baby while I pumped. I discovered later that the LC had told my midwife that she suspected I was one of the few women truly unable to produce enough milk, but no one ever told ME that, I suppose for fear that I would give up ‘too soon’. On top of that, I’d had hyperemesis in my pregnancy and was still on a ‘liquids only before lunch’ diet (and continued to be for 3 months due to other poor medical care, but that’s another story altogether) which obviously impacted things on it’s own. I was far from healthy. And emotionally I was struggling, badly. PTSD coupled with the trigger of experiencing pain in an area where so much pain had been inflicted during my past was almost more than I could handle.

I usually pumped 10-15ml in a sitting, and never more than 30ml. And the pain got worse, and worse. I saw 3 different lactation consultants and all of them insisted my latch was absolutely perfect, and my nipples looked great. They all said a variation of ‘baby is getting what she needs, there’s no problem, so you just have to push through and hopefully the pain will settle down in 2-6 weeks, though for some women it’s always painful, but it’s worth it because breast is best’. One even went so far as to give me coping strategies for the pain! I didn’t realize until much later how very, very damaging this attitude was to me. I told all of these women about my past sexual abuse, and they basically told me that I needed to just suck it up because it was best. At that point in my life I was just beginning to piece together some self worth and feel valuable enough to stand up for myself and value my own desires even a little bit, so being attached to a milking machine, and being given no way out of something which was inflicting pain on me was a big issue. I resented my baby, I didn’t want her near me. My husband doesn’t feature much in this story, not because he wasn’t supportive, but because he was young, scared, confused and struggling himself. He had no idea what to do. But, in the end, he talked me into letting go of breastfeeding because, he argued, better for baby to have a bottle with a happy mummy than breastmilk with a crying one. He has held this stance ever since. Only 2 weeks after birth I couldn’t take the pain anymore, no one would give me a way out of the pain other than ‘wait and see’, and I gave up.

I bonded with my baby almost instantly from that day on. So much for breastfeeding being the be-all-and-end-all in bonding.

The second time I went in better prepared. Because I described the pain I had experienced as a graze or burning feeling, it was eventually decided that baby actually wasn’t feeding right, was running her tongue along my nipple back and forth, and that was the cause of our issues. The lack of milk production was blamed on the fact my baby was (and still is!) very impatient and would not stay on long enough to make things happen. She had no interest in comfort sucking, so once the milk slowed she would give up. I was reassured that this time around, if baby fed well, all would be fine.

My second baby arrived after a wonderful birth, latched immediately, and fed well. My milk came in, it seemed supply was better because baby was cooperating more and I was much healthier after having managed my hyperemesis far better that pregnancy. But it still hurt. So much.

I saw a new LC, and she told me to use nipple shields. I told her that I had been specifically told never to try and use them because my milk supply was already low and inhibited by my psychological issues, and she said that modern shields don’t harm supply and they were better than the pain. What a turn around! I still experienced pain, but instead of being an 11 on the pain scale it was somewhere around a 5, tolerable. Note that babys latch, again, was absolutely perfect. My nipples never looked bad, never once did I bleed or bruise, nothing baby was doing explained the pain. But this baby was a comfort sucker, she wanted to be attached constantly if she could. That made the pain so much worse, so after about a half hour I would give her a pacifier.

4 weeks in and baby got into this awful habit of latching and unlatching, again and again. Since latching was the most painful part, having her do that over and over was absolute hell. But women around me kept telling me story after story of how they, or someone they knew, breastfed despite a lot of pain, so I kept pushing on. Emotionally, I was a wreck again, constantly triggered. I did not enjoy my baby at all. I didn’t want to deal with her unless I had to feed her.

6 weeks in and I spoke to the LC again about her constantly coming off. She had not gained as much weight as she should have. We did a weighed feed and she didn’t gain enough either. (I now know that neither of these were necessarily accurate but at the time I trusted her.) She insisted we begin giving one supplement bottle a day, just to help bring baby’s weight up a little, and to try and tolerate as much ‘comfort sucking’ as possible to bring in some more milk.

I gave baby her bottle the first night and she refused her next feed. I gave it the second night and she refused to feed for the next 12 hours. I gave it the third night and she never latched to my breast again. I knew there were ways to get her back on and fix things, but I was in pain, I was emotionally spent, and I was done. We became formula feeders the second time, and suddenly, I found I liked my baby, and I wanted to be near her again. Yet again, no bond occurred until after I stopped breastfeeding.

Third time around and I knew what I was doing. I set a goal of two weeks, with an ideal goal of 6 weeks, and released myself from guilt if it didn’t work. I had finally realized after messing with the shields that the cause of the pain was nerve damage from past abuse. I thought I had dealt with that fact, but all I had actually done was hide the real issue with the hope that with the shields I could beat this problem and prove to myself that my past could not take the ability to breastfeed away from me. I was ok with letting myself stop when the pain got too bad though, and this time I would end it on my terms, if I couldn’t take control by breastfeeding, I could take control by protecting myself and choosing to stop breastfeeding when it hurt too badly. Health concerns about formula were long since squashed in my mind. I was a fearless (potential) formula feeder! What I wasn’t prepared for was it all going right.

Baby came, latched, fed perfectly and continued to do so. Not only did my milk come in well, but I actually had oversupply issues (we suspect the difference is that my husband had true paternity leave for the first time, which allowed me a lot more relaxation and skin to skin time than the last two times). She was gaining like a champ, she was bright, alert, sleeping well and a perfect poster child for breastfeeding. I began using the shields the day my milk came in, and to my surprise, by about day 12 feeding was almost pain-free! We had done it, I was successfully getting enough food into my babies tummy without severe pain.

But, I hated it. I hate breastfeeding. I hate the feeling. I hated having my PTSD triggered by it. And, I still had no bond with my baby. I resented her. I had always assumed the resentment came from the fact feeding my babies caused pain, but after a long talk with my husband I have come to realize that the reason I feel so much resentment is actually that, while breastfeeding, the baby controls that part of my body. I have to feed baby on her schedule, I get no say over when I feel capable of coping with someone touching my breasts, even if it is for food. I feel out of control of an intimate part of my body, and that’s a feeling I no longer cope well with.

I simply didn’t WANT to breastfeed anymore. And I felt like the worst mother in the world for it. I had finally achieved what I’d struggled with two previous babies to do, and now I discover that, actually, it’s not what I wanted at all. I wanted to be able to breastfeed like everyone else. But the fact is, even after beating all the other issues, I had to accept that I will never be able to breastfeed like everyone else. There’s too much baggage, too many associations. Too many memories. I can never have what I wanted, no matter how hard I try. That was taken from me long ago. What I can have, breastfeeding with all the psychological associations and physical reminders it brings, just isn’t a nice, or good, experience.

I felt trapped. It’s wrong to not breastfeed when I am capable of it right? But that feeling of being trapped only made me want to stop even more, because of my natural instinct to run from anything which might trap or control me. I blamed myself for being too weak to cope emotionally because it was easier than blaming those that hurt me for yet one more long term consequence of their actions. But that only made the feeling of being trapped worse, because if I was just a better mum I wouldn’t find feeding so upsetting.

There’s a big difference between having no choice but to switch to formula, and actually choosing to go to formula for no reason other than ‘I don’t want to breastfeed’. I have heard many, many times ‘I support formula feeders, as long as they have made a real effort to breastfeed’. Actually taking the step to formula feed just because that’s what I wanted meant going against that large group of people who would have previously supported me.

And then there was accepting that this door is closed for me, which hurt. I hate to accept that my past has any permanent effect on my future. I hate to admit anyone could effect me that way other than myself, because it makes me feel vulnerable.

It was easier to accept I couldn’t breastfeed a particular child but I could try again with the next than it is to accept that I can never have the normal, comfortable, enjoyable breastfeeding relationship I have watched, and wanted.

My babies thrive on formula, they are rarely sick, they are very bright, and happy kids. I suspect many of the ‘health risks’ of formula have more to do with the portion of the population that uses/doesn’t use it than with formula itself. A working mum is less likely to breastfeed, and we know that children in daycare tend to catch more bugs than children at home, for example.

My husband convinced me to do what I needed to, and I stopped breastfeeding my third child at 2 weeks old. She is now 5 weeks and thriving. And surprise surprise, I bonded and enjoyed her far, far more within a couple of days of stopping. We are a formula feeding family, and I’m mostly ok with that now. It’s what is right for me, and for my babies.

 ***

If you feel like sharing your story, email me at formulafeeders@gmail.com.

 

You don’t need to know why I don’t breastfeed, because it shouldn’t matter.

This past week, Emily Wax-Thibodeux’s excellent essay, “Why I don’t breastfeed, if you must know”, went viral. As it should have. It’s a cutting, heartfelt expose of just how ridiculous the pressure to breastfeed has become, made all the more powerful by the author’s recounting of her double mastectomy.

Unfortunately, even breast cancer didn’t stop the haters from hating.

“95% of the time people don’t breastfeed for reasons other than terminal illness. This is a red herring argument. She shouldn’t feel bad for having a legitimate reason for not breastfeeding and if she does then its really a personal problem,” said one comment on a Today.com thread.

“We all understand should and can are different. A mother who cannot breast feed is different than a mother who can but chooses not to…Breast milk is better for an infant than formula, I don’t think there is a doctor, nurse or midwife who would say that formula is better…Shame people would criticize this mother who CANNOT breastfeed like it was her choice,” wrote another (who happened to be male).

And then there was the woman who insisted that “(t)here is absolutely zero systematic or general judgment against infant formula or bottle feeding. It is the absolute expected norm by the majority of adults and parents in our culture. No one cares if you feed your baby infant formula or use a bottle…Most children start on the breast. Most children are weaned. Most children are given formula and fed with bottles. There is no public backlash against infant formula or bottle feeding. But here’s an article that pretends “infant formula shaming” is some actual thing. No. It isn’t. Not in the real world of critical thought and evidence. The data doesn’t support this notion at all.”

In the FFF community, there was tremendous support for Wax-Gibodeux’s piece, but an underlying concern about the title – because why must we know why she isn’t breastfeeding? Is shaming more acceptable for some mothers than others? What is the litmus test that rewards us with a breastfeeding “pass”? If a double mastectomy doesn’t quite cut it, I don’t know what will.

So maybe we should stop giving reasons altogether.

For those who fear formula as a product, no reason in the world is sufficient for a baby to be given anything other human milk. It doesn’t matter if the baby has to be wet nursed by someone with an unknown medical history – that is still better than formula.

For those who like to shame mothers – because that’s what it really is about, enjoying the act of shaming, of making yourself feel superior, or feel better about your choices by questioning those of others – no reason in the world will make a mother above reproach. She could always have done more – after all, breastfeeding is 90% determination and only 10% milk production, as a recent meme proudly stated. Best case scenario, she might get pity – but pity carries its own heavy scent, similar to the sour stench of shame.

Giving a reason for why you didn’t breastfeed is pointless.

That doesn’t mean telling your story isn’t important, because our narratives matter; they help those floundering in their own messy journeys make sense of what’s happening and find community with those who’ve been there. But there’s a difference between telling your story and owning it, and telling it to defend yourself. One gives you power, the other takes it away. 

We are at a turning point, I hope. Jessica Martin-Weber of The Leaky Boob has taken a stand against romanticizing the reality of breastfeeding, and is helping those in the breastfeeding community feel comfortable with bottle (and formula) use. When one of the leading voices in breastfeeding advocacy speaks out against a culture of fear and rigidity, that means something. Wax-Thibodeux’s piece has brought many powerful voices out of the woodwork, allowing women who’ve swallowed their shame to regurgitate it, and make the uninitiated understand just how sour it tastes.

Now is the time to draw a line in the sand. This conversation has moved beyond breastfeeding and formula feeding and whether one party is more marginalized than the other, or how superior one product is nutritionally to the other. We’ve been there, done that, and nothing has really changed. We’re all still hurting. We’re all still feeling unsupported, unseen, and resentful, like a 3-year-old with a colicky new sibling. Now, we need to stand up, collectively, and say it doesn’t matter why I am feeding the way I am. It is not up to anyone else to deem my reason appropriate or “understandable”. I’m going to stand up for anyone who has felt shamed about how she’s feeding, instead of just people who’ve had identical experiences to me, or those who I feel tried hard enough. 

A breastfeeding advocate shouldn’t be afraid to admit she questions aspects of the WHO Code. A breast cancer survivor shouldn’t have to have awkward conversations about why she’s bottle feeding. A woman who chooses not to breastfeed for her own personal reasons should not have to lay those reasons out in front of a jury of her peers.

This Tower of (breastfeeding) Babble has reached a fever pitch. It’s time for it to come down. Pick up your axe and start chopping. And next time someone asks, simply tell them, “You don’t need to know why I don’t breastfeed. Because it shouldn’t matter.”

 

The 2014 #ISupportYou Project: ISY Week of Service, Nov 1-7th

Sup·port

transitive verb \sə-ˈpȯrt\

: to agree with or approve of (someone or something)

: to show that you approve of (someone or something) by doing something

: to give help or assistance to (someone or something)

Full Definition of SUPPORT

1: to endure bravely or quietly :  bear

2 a (1) :  to promote the interests or cause of (2) :  to uphold or defend as valid or right :  advocate <supports fair play> (3) :  to argue or vote for 

b (1) :  assist, help <bombers supported the ground troops>(2) :  to act with (a star actor) (3) :  to bid in bridge so as to show support for

c :  to provide with substantiation :  corroborate <support an alibi>

3 a :  to pay the costs of :  maintain <support a family> b :  to provide a basis for the existence or subsistence of 

4 a :  to hold up or serve as a foundation or prop for; b :  to maintain (a price) at a desired level by purchases or loans; also :  to maintain the price of by purchases or loans

5: to keep from fainting, yielding, or losing courage :  comfort

6:  to keep (something) going

 

There are many definitions for the word support. And many arguments within the parenting community about what that word should mean, could mean, does mean.

Does it mean that you agree with someone’s choices, 100%?

Does it mean holding up signs and getting media attention for “stopping the mommy wars”?

Does it mean demanding equal representation, equal respect?

Does it mean something global, local, or personal?

You’d think that because we included “support” in our organization’s name, we’d have a clear definition in mind, a way to clearly explain what the word means to us. But the truth is, we don’t. When we started #ISupportYou, it was just a hashtag; a vague idea that we wanted to make all moms feel included, and worthy of support and community. We knew we wanted to show the world that the way we feed our babies doesn’t define us; that we are not “breastfeeding moms” or “formula feeding moms” but moms, and women, and individuals, and employees, and sisters, and spouses, and girlfriends, and daughters, and friends. We wanted to help other moms reach out to each other and recognize that at our cores, we all want the same thing: to be seen. To be heard. To matter.

This year, ISY is taking this vague idea of support to the next level. We want to put actions to words, to go beyond some glossy media idea of what support looks like, and get down and dirty with what it feels like. That’s why we’re hoping you’ll join us for our inaugural #ISupportYou Week, Nov. 1-7th, 2014. 

During ISY Week, we’re encouraging everyone to take all the energy we waste on silly online arguments to the streets of our own communities, and beyond. Find a way to bring one of the many definitions of “support” to life. Better yet, decide what support means to you, and do something about it. It can be something small, or something big. We’ve put together a list of our own ideas, but we’re excited to hear your ideas, too.

Between Nov. 1-7th, do one thing to bring the ISY message from virtual to flesh-and-blood life.  It can be one of ours, or one of yours. Then tell us about it. Tweet or post about it, using the hashtags #isupportyou and/or #ISYweek. Write a blog post about it, or shoot us an email so that we can share your stories on our blogs, and inspire others to drink the kool-aid. (It’s delicious. We promise.)

Ideas for #ISupportYou Week:

1.  Be a Coupon Fairy. Leave coupons for formula, bottles, diapers, or breastfeeding supplies in the baby aisles of your local stores, attached to post-it notes with the #ISupportYou hashtag and a short, encouraging message to whatever random parent finds it.

2.  Pay it forward. Pay for a mom or dad’s coffee, etc when s/he’s behind you in line with a screaming baby, or just looks exhausted or overwhelmed.

3.  Volunteer at your local women’s shelter. Lead a breastfeeding support group, a formula feeding group, or an #ISupportYou group (details to come).

4.  Bring a care basket to a new mom. Include items that support her feeding choice, but more importantly, items just for HER…m&m’s, lip balm, sitz bath, magazines, pretty water bottle, cozy socks, notepad/pen, note of encouragement, hair ties, etc.

5.  Donate generic new mom care baskets to local domestic violence or homeless shelters, with wipes, diapers, food and other useful items.

6.  Bring breakfast pastries/bagels to your next new mom’s support group

7.  Mail 3 real letters to moms that you know, with message of encouragement

8.  Leave post-it notes with the #ISupportYou hashtag and encouraging messages everywhere. Attach them to extra packs of wipes in a public changing area, or stick them on bulletin boards at the play place down the street.

9.  Commit to setting up an #ISupportYou (ISY) group in your community in 2015. We are currently developing materials to help interested people start these groups, and hope to see some popping up in early 2015. Email isymovement@gmail.com for more information.

10.  Do a teach-in with a group of pregnant mom friends on feeding 101. Ask a friend who feeds differently than you do to co-host it.

11.  Write a blog post with “10 Ways To Support A BF/FF mom”.

12.  Donate your feeding items to a local homeless/domestic violence shelter.

13.  Share ISY with your care providers – OB, pediatrician, therapist, daycare provider, etc.- so that they know where to guide new parents for support.

14.  Find a way to support a mom who feeds in a different way than you do.  Wash bottles at her house, buy her a can of formula, buy her a care package of lanolin and fancy breast pads, etc.

15.  FEED HER!  Find a new mom (or even better, a not so new mom, who needs it more!) and make/send dinner.  Or breakfast that is easy to reheat (egg sandwiches, casserole, etc).  Fresh fruit, surprise morning coffee, all with a note of encouragement.

16.  Set up a time each day that you will text a mom friend who needs encouragement (every day at 10:30 I will text her a “love note”).

17.  Call your local breastfeeding center and ask if they have any needs (scholarship fund for classes, etc.)

18.  Lead a “safe use of formula” workshop for daycare providers

19.  Ask to have a chat with facilitators of New Parent Support Groups, and encourage them to be inclusive to all feeding methods in their sessions.

20.  Call a local teen mother’s group and volunteer to be a breastfeeding or formula feeding mentor/peer counselor.

21.  Do something kind for YOURSELF. Write a letter to your 9 months pregnant self, or your 3 months postpartum self, telling her how proud you are, tips you’ve learned, etc.

22. Donate to organizations which support struggling postpartum moms. For example, Postpartum Progress, the Postpartum Stress Center, or the Seleni Institute.

We really hope you’ll join us in cutting through the bullshit and getting new parents the help they need to feed – and parent – with love, respect, and yes, support.  Put Nov 1-7 on your calendar, and chat with us during the week on Twitter and Facebook to let us know how things are going. Share your ideas, your experiences, and your reactions. Let’s get this party started, shall we?

It’s time. For real.

- The #ISupportYou Team

 

The (Secret) Truth About #ISupportYou

****This post was co-written by me and #ISupportYou co-founder Kim Simon****

 

Want to know a secret? Shhh. Come close.

We don’t give a shit how you feed your baby.

We don’t care.  We don’t care because there are women taking their babies for chemotherapy and women struggling to scrape up enough cash to buy dinner and women who feel so shitty about themselves that they think it would be better for their children if they just disappeared.  Mothers are falling so deep down the rabbit hole of depression and anxiety, because they are sure that they are failing.  Because that’s what some of you are telling them.  And you know what?  We’re starting to think it’s a cop out to say it’s because you really want their babies to have what you think is best.  We’re starting to think it’s because it makes you feel better about yourself.  It makes you feel superior. You feel superior when you say, in not-so-hushed voices, that she should have weaned her baby when he started to walk. You feel superior when you say that she could have breastfed, if she’d just had the fortitude/education/enough love for her child.

When we started the I Support You project last year, we heard from hundreds of women who finally felt seen, heard, and understood.  They saw their stories reflected in our mission.  Breastfeeding moms and formula-feeding moms reached out to each other in kindness and friendship.  But there were whispers of discontent.  Over the last year, the whispers have grown louder. This is my party!  I’m the birthday girl!  Some of you want to make sure that everyone knows that support is only relevant if you’re supporting what you personally feel is right and true. Look at me!  Look at me, Mom!!  No, no….look over heeeeere!  Some have complained that I Support You lets everyone join their exclusive club, even the mothers who haven’t earned it.  These are my toys.  All of them.  I’m not going to share.

 

AND YOU ARE HURTING PEOPLE.

 

We will say it again: you are hurting people.  I Support You isn’t just about discussing how we feed.  It is us, pleading with you, to take care of each other.  We are begging you to step outside of your own experience, and be kind to each other.  Stop talking about yourself.  Stop preaching.  Stop telling other women what to do with their bodies.  You know what’s anti-feminist?  Shaming other women for not using their breasts the way that you do.  Telling other moms how to care for their babies, because that’s what has worked in your family.  If you believe that you are in charge of your own body, then please don’t tell other women what to do with theirs.  If you believe that you know what is best for your family, then don’t assume that you know what is best for ours.

Support isn’t about holding up signs that celebrate one way of parenting by stomping on another in your combat boots. We’re on a hamster wheel – spinning around and around, the same scenery whirling past our eyes, going nowhere. One step forward, twenty steps back.

But we know you’re out there, too. The ones who want to see real change. The ones who are as fed up, bored, exhausted, and angry as we are. And we hear your whispers, too:

I am a breastfeeder, and my children are brilliant because I talk to them and make sure they don’t starve and expose them to wonderful adventures in life and love on them and wake up to cuddle them when they’re scared.

I am a formula feeder, and my children are inquisitive, sensitive, and utterly confident that they are loved for who they are, and not because they are an extension of me or my desires. 

I am a breastfeeder, and I care about your feelings.

I am a formula feeder, and I don’t give a flying you-know-what how you feed your baby, because I trust that you love him and are doing what you know is best for your family.

I am a breastfeeder, and I don’t care how you feed your baby or what you feed your baby.  I will mind my own business, because your personal choices are not mine to know.

I am a formula feeder, and I would never presume to know your experience, or judge your parenting philosophy, because what the heck is a parenting philosophy, anyway? Who has time to think about this shit?

I am a breastfeeder who has supported moms while they leave their abusive partners, while they struggle to learn a new language in a new country, while they cry on the floor at Mommy Group because they feel so alone.  I do not care what they are feeding their baby, as long as they are not drowning in the deep end of depression.

I am a formula feeder, and I want my choice to be seen as normal and acceptable, instead of something for which I am supposed to feel defensive and ashamed. 

I am a breastfeeder, and I have more important things to do than tell you how to take care of your kids. Like sleep. And eat something that is not the crust of what my kids just threw on the floor.

I am a formula feeder, and I will support breastfeeding women because they also should be made to feel like their choice is normal and acceptable, because (duh) it is.

I am a breastfeeder, and I am ashamed that some of my breastfeeding sisters make you feel bad.

I am a formula feeder and I believe we ALL deserve support regardless of which way the public opinion/scientific consensus pendulum sways, because how we use our female bodies should not be up for public discussion, full stop.

I am a breastfeeder, and I will feed my baby wherever I want to, and you should too, because normalizing it means just doing it, and not milking it for page views. 

I am a formula feeder, and I want us all to avoid the “buts” and focus on the “ands”…but/and I don’t want this concept to be coopted in a way that marginalizes or demonizes one disenfranchised group for the benefit of another.

I am a formula feeder, and I don’t champion a way of feeding, or the biological norm, or a highly marketed, commodified product, but I will champion your right to parent with love and autonomy, because my support is not conditional.

I am a breastfeeder, and my kids will grow up knowing how fiercely I love them, and how fiercely I fought to feed them.  Both of them.  The formula one and the breastmilk one.

I am a breastfeeder, and I will not use that privilege to shame, isolate, or judge you.

I am a formula feeder, and I will not use that privilege to shame, isolate or judge you. 

 

I am a formula feeder, and I Support YOU.

I am a breastfeeder and I Support YOU.

 

If you are interested in learning more about normalizing kindness, and how we can lift each other up on this journey of motherhood, then please visit I Support You. We hear you.  It’s okay to raise your voice. Maybe it’s time we did, too.

#bottlebonding

Bonding requires love.

That’s all.

Thanks to the FFF community for showing this to be true! (And special thanks to the amazing Amanda Peters for coming up with the #bottlebonding idea and hashtag!)

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