Tuesday, June 22, 2010

BESTFED

A new baby is born.

The new mom and dad are ecstatic. A life to mold! A little thing to brainwash! The extended family gets giddy, bestowing the baby with a whole lot of hideous clothes without receipts for returning. The friends of the family smile with lotsa teeth and offer to bring over casseroles laden with cream of what-the-hell-is-that-supposed-to-be soup. And when they drop by—unannounced, cornflake encrusted casserole in hand—they begin the chitchat.

How much does she weigh? How long was the labor? How are you feeling? Getting much sleep?
And my very favorite: Are you breastfeeding baby Gertrude?

Hmmm.

The other questions are benign—the kind that lead one to believe that this is just a polite conversation between casserole giver and casserole receiver. But that last one, that question is along a line so personal that I'd call it inappropriate.

When assaulted with such a query, I sure wish that from time to time a new mom would step right over the question and toss back something like, Huh. Seeing as it appears that today's activities include dashing about in the Realm of Improper, I myself would like to know if your bowel movements have been especially satisfying lately.

Whatever liquid gold or swamp muck is dribbling from a gal's boobs isn't anyone's business before she has a baby. That being the case, I can't think of a single good reason that the bounty of one's jumblies would be the kind of thing for civilized conversation post spawning spawn.

Every so often I get my hackles all the way up over something. Sometimes the something is a repeat engagement. Like this time. Right now I find myself again fired up over ta-tas and what leaketh from 'em. Two of my sisters just had babies, and when teeny humans make their debut, the adults swirling about settle into discussions on how the mothers plan to feed them. Those conversations never fail to get my bonnet bees' abuzz.

A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with a someone and the words we bandied back and forth turned to the topic of food and such. It came up, in the logical course of the conversation, that I'm whatcha might call a vegetarian. When this person heard such news, they morphed into something akin to a monster. That is so stupid! the person spewed. People who don't eat meat are just posing morons . . . yadda yadda yadda.

Stunned is a good word for how I felt right then. We went from polite to unbelievable in, like, 2 seconds. Now, if you know me at all you know that I take issue with vegetarians pressing their meatless agenda on everyone that they can. I do the no meat thing. You do the meat thing. To each their own. Seriously.

It is absolutely no one else's concern that I feel comfy in a fleshless life. My mom has a favorite saying: What you think of me is none of my business. Think on it. It's applicable here. What you think of my choice of food is none of my business. Exercise a little social propriety and keep it to yourself.

A correlation: How you choose to jam nutrition into your new-to-oxygen infant's trap is none of my business. And it's not anyone else's business either. Why then, Dear Reader, do so many people (read: women of an insecure and immature state) take it upon themselves to hoist the Breastfeeding Cross and behave as oppressive lactation champions, doing whatever they think works in their quest to get every infant on an IV drip of Milk of Motherhood no matter the circumstances?

An irony: Some of those same brats that use their megaphones to lament and decry the tragedy of a bottle fed babe are the same people who feed their kidlets processed crap once the thing's entered the solid food stage. So for the first year of the child's life there is one and only one way to properly feed an infant, but once it's socially perverse to stick a human nipple in the kiddo's mouth, it's perfectly acceptable to introduce partially hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup into the precious, preserved, and pristine little digestive tracts? Well ain't that just tossing out el bebe with the bath agua? It's like scrubbing your house shiny and then letting a pack of muddy Rottweilers have their way with the place.

So—with your right-out-loud actions—are you trying to tell me that a child's nutrition only matters during year one (or so)? That once they are off the tit, it's a continuation of your superior parenting to head for inferior nutrition?

I'm saying right here and right now that I'd wouldn't hesitate to fiercely slap across the mug someone who gallops around on their Breast and Only Breast high horse and then tosses their kindergartner a Lunchable without a second thought. That kind of hypocrisy rubs me raw.

To each their own is honest-to-goodnessly the way I try to live. And I get bent right out of shape when hypocrites open their traps to condemn or sublimely encourage a feeling of inadequacy. Especially when it comes to breastfeeding. Nope, I don't have a kid, so what you're getting from here now isn't an opinion born of personal experience but one rather built of observations, conversations, and good old fashioned research. I get that on the topic of infant nutrition this leaves my credibility in the toilet. Be that as it may. But I am a really bright girl with a lively mind and healthy intellectual curiosity for many a thing. When the topic is breastfeeding, though I've no tales of my own regarding the juices of motherhood, I'm convinced that the various confidences I've been granted and the whatnot that I've observed settles me on solid ground in forming and dispersing my own opinions on the topic.

If breast works for you and your family, rock on. If it doesn't, same deal. Do what's best for the bitsy social unit you've got responsibility for no matter the opinions of others and the social pressures crashing down upon you. If a baby needs feeding—and all of them do—the only thing that should matter is the fact that a conscientous parent is doing their best to fill the baby's belly with stuff to make it grow.

Have an opinion. No, really—do. To intelligently opine is to craft and form and create, and I hold that therein lies an element of divinity. But be careful with what you make. If you stamp those opinions on your forehead and make a meal of those who don't wear the same, you're in for humiliation. (Listen here, y'all; The Voice of Experience speaks). If you're a Boob Juice Crusader and take no issue with feeding your progeny manufactured junk once they're sporting their very own collection of pearly whites, a pit of shame awaits your wallowing.

Furthermore, if you're serving as your baby's portable dairy and pouring processed crap down your gullet, you are mistaken if you believe that what drips from your nips is drops of divinity. The inconstancy in your particular brand of parenting makes you a hypocrite and meat for mockery. Pucker up so that you can give credibility a big wet kiss goodbye.

24 comments:

Hen Pecks said...

Oh deary. I'm not really sure where you stand on the subject. Can you clarify?

JUST KIDDING, I get it.

Sheri Dew once said, and I paraphrase, I think the judgment day will be a piece of cake compared to what we put ourselves through down here.

Why can't we just respect one another's decisions? The only bad decision in this case would be to NOT feed the baby at all. It also chaps my hide to see young mothers feeling subpar because they aren't doing what this friend or that friend said they should do, or their kid isn't behaving like so-and-so's kid.

By the time you get to my stage of parenting you don't give a damn what other parents are doing because all of you have realized you have no idea what you're doing, and it's all just a crap shoot anyway, and all you do is wish each other good luck.

Trust me, in the whole scope of parenting things, breast feeding vs bottle feeding is the least of your worries.

My25Cents said...

Mwahahaha! I'm printing this post. Great work. I LOVE you. Wait.
I think what I'm feeling is profound appreciation and awe for your gift with words. The ability to take your opinions, sort 'em all out, use your brain to figure out why you feel a certain way, research the good, bad and ugly then --- KABOOM! let us know what you came up with using the imperfect English language.

Could you crawl in to my brain and help me out every once in a while?

Jaime Stephens said...

I love this post.

To each there own, amen..

{Erica} said...

A hearty "Here! Here!" for your post.

p.s. Had a lady ask me if I was planning on breastfeeding while doing initiatories in the temple! She was a worker. After a slight nod of "yes" on my part she then proceeded to tell me she was adopting, just turned in her papers and began inducing lactation and not getting much.

All I could do was stare and wonder why she thought I would want to know such a thing at that moment or ever...

Tricia said...

I feel the same way about Lunchables as I feel about formula, and the kids I'm brainwashing know it!

It ISN'T my business what anyone else feeds their babies. On that account, you're absolutely right. But that door swings both ways. I say, "Keep your nose out of my blouse when I choose to nurse my children in public, or for 30 months (yes, I did), and I'll keep my nose out of your artificial nipple & processed, powdered milk-food."

And that's me, holding back. :)

Maria said...

Very well put. I am continually amazed at how people seem to think such personal things as whether or not you choose to breastfeed your child is any of their business. I have been asked if I am going to breastfeed my baby [who is not even born yet] numerous times by strangers at the park! Weird.

Sadly, breastfeeding is just one of the many things that are of a personal nature that people have felt compelled to ask me about. I have also gotten the "my gosh, how many kids are you going to have!" speech from complete strangers. We do have a larger than average family - I am pregnant with baby #5 - but what business is it of theirs of how many kids we have? So inappropriate - some people can be so rude.

Megan and Keli'i said...

Once you have kids, (and way before then but for some reason people really like to vocalize these opinions after you have 'em) you're judged by everything you do to or with them..."What? You didn't exclusively breastfeed for 70 months?" "What? You had an epidural? How could you subject your kids to that?" "What? You don't use organic diapers?" "What? You let your kids climb trees? What if they fall off and break their leg?" "What? You vaccinate your kids?"

Anything and everything, people judge. And some people are way harsh. Damned if you do...damned if you don't, I always say.

People that are that outright opinionated on one particular subject are usually hypocritical and judgmental and need to chill and know there's other ways of doing things than just one particular way.

These are the same people that censor and ban books.

Great post.

Megan and Keli'i said...

PS- I LOVE what your mom wrote. I love that lady, even though I've never met her. I mean, she spawned you, and that's reason enough to meet her.

Celeste said...

That's a fine piece of writting, I don't care who you are or what's in your baby's tummy. Never thought a tirade about breastfeeding would leave me wanting more.

Weezie said...

Seriously! I've been asked way too many times in the last four weeks (and the 40 before that) if I planned to breastfeed. I've also been asked a series of ridiculously personal questions that I would never dream of asking someone and would certainly never answer!

I think being pregnant/having a baby makes people think you're all of a sudden an open book and willing to discuss everything about your life. However, my personal life/decisions are still my own and not open for discussion. I'm glad to see that it's not just me who believes this.

(Also, congrats to your sisters and love your mom's comment.)

Courtney said...

Ha! You said "drips from your nips!!!!"

Lindsay said...

I think this post means you're officially a blogger again? You got my feathers ruffled, probably because I feed "processed crap" to my children and felt judged for it. You haven't ruffled feathers for awhile - Meg is back!
If I could write as good as you I would write a post about selective eating disorders, which is real, I happen to know, and the freaking people that judge and talk about what other people freaking eat. I love the comment, "I would never allow that." Who in the HELL cares what someone else is feeding THEIR children! If they AREN'T your children then why talk about what goes into their mouths. Whew, that was a little therapeutic.
On a side note - since having Brody nine months ago I have paid attention to how often people ask me whether I am breastfeeding. It was shocking to hear how many people, as I would do their hair, would ask that. I even had men ask me. Ewwww!

rabidrunner said...

Women and their prepardum / postpartum conversations are so very tiresome. So very. I mean, talk about something else besides "the pregnancy list" - which includes: are you going to find out what it is? what are you having? who's your doctor? what position were you in at conception? was that child an accident? will you have it natural? (That last one is a kicker, as if - aside from alien abduction - there's an unnatural way to have a baby) Then there's the after questions, how long was your labor? how long did you push? did you get an episiotomy? how many stitches did you get? did your water break? was there any meconium (sp) in your amniotic fluid? On and on and freaking on.

The weather is more interesting.

Great post. There are so many wonderfully created sentences with cleverly created description in this one, friend. I was going to list some but then found there were too many. I might still list them.

[Morgan] said...

i've never given a damn about what a friend eats or doesn't eat.
no seriously.
eat what you want.
i do.
that only seems fair.

like breastfeeding, i also don't appreciate someone shoving their healthy food habits in my face so that i'll think they're cool. what is the purpose again for you volunteering information regarding your fresh fruit and organic ingredient homemade waffle breakfast?

and, if you think that the breastfeeding thing is ridiculous, try to imagine the ignorant things people have said to me about having c-sections.
did you know that i'm not a real mom and that i didn't really give birth?

anyway. the same idea goes for parenting tips and "how shoulds" about disciplining children.

have opinions [like you said] but don't share them unless called upon. really.

ask whitney to tell you about that one time someone insulted me about drinking diet coke.

Weezie said...

Oh [Morgan] - you hit the nail on the head with the c-section comment. Even the pregnancy books try to make me feel like I missed out on a rite of passage. "You may be feeling disappointed if you had a c-section..." Really? I still have a beautiful child - how disappointed can I be?!

[Morgan] said...

seriously weezie.
i just don't get it.

modern myrtle said...

This post was so timely for me. I loved every well crafted sentence. I have recently become annoyed with a friend whose blog I have chosen to abandon because of the way she insists on insisting about the breastfeeding of her new baby. We get it. You're breastfeeding. Women have done it FOREVER. You didn't invent it. It's not a superpower. You're a mammal. You don't have to wear a t-shirt proclaiming your choice. Breastfeeding is not a new development.

I breastfed two of my children, and bottle-fed one. One of the most offending remarks ever made to me came from someone very close to me who suggested, "that's the reason you are closer to (b) and (c),and not to (a)." Excuse me? How dare you. To my knowledge, this person breastfed her children exclusively, so they have no firsthand knowledge to the fact that THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE in the bond and love you feel toward your baby whether the nipple in their mouth is yours or Gerber's. No difference.

My wish is that women would choose the way they'd like to feed themselves and their children and keep it to themselves. I have a particular way of eating for me and my family that I am passionate about. But you know what? I'm not shoving it down every else's throat, in an effort to make them feel less than.

I have noticed a total lack of tact as of late. People asking personal questions that would make our grandparents' jaws hit the floor. Things like "How much money is your husband making?", or "How much did you pay for your car?" We have a series of go to comebacks that are polite yet get the point across of "none of your business!!". If I ever give birth again, I'll be employing those answers when I get the breastfeeding question.

Thanks again for your post. I second it all.

Ryan said...

megan, you are a first-class wordie. like a "foodie" whose object of devotion is created, not consumed. enunciated, not eaten. delineated, not devoured. to be savored by all. 

got opine-ions, peeps? ;)  here's one more, from the flipside. 

there are a number of details surrounding the whole, erm, process: pre, present, and post, that many are inexplicably comfortable sharing freely. frankly, answers to many of the intrusive questions that rabid articulates (sans positioning) are often volunteered without request, leaving (some) recipients of said glad but tmi tidings to smile awkwardly and wonder within what prompted such disclosure. perhaps (?) within this "circle of 'trust me, here goes way more than you wanted to know'" such return queries are on occasion mis-deemed as fair game. just a thought.  

cat+tadd said...

Brilliant.

Bless you. This couldn't have come at a better time.

My favorite line, "...hoist the Breastfeeding Cross..." HA! Couldn't have said it better myself.

Andrea said...

Okay, so without wanting to upset anyone I just need to say it out loud....I LOVED BREASTFEEDING! I do understand that it's a personal choice and that the opinions of one should never be forced on another, and I would never want to make anyone feel bad about their ability (and choice not to nurse) or their inability to nurse. To each their own, but I need to make sure I'm heard on this one. I loved that I felt so close with my babies when I was growing them, and I loved the fact that I was able to continue to help them grow in such a personal and private way. But that is what it is, a personal and private choice. Okay, there. I said it.

Hen Pecks said...

Go Andrea!

Sparks said...

And, the whole point is what you love/didn't love about the whole deal shouldn't upset people. They shouldn't care! If you loved breastfeeding, like I said in my post: rock on! If not, same deal. I think this issue, any issue really, merits nothing more than the satisfaction of the one who makes the decision. You want to feel good about your choice and that's most likely to happen if you don't have to worry about Team Breast nagging at something that's none of their business.

You're right, you said it: it's a personal and private choice, and I'm happy for you that you loved the direction you ended up going.

rookie cookie said...

After a few trying days with my children, I am finally getting to sit down at the table with Lappy. I finally got to read all of these comments. And I am getting all hot and bothered.

What gets me is the breastfeeding nazis giving me the blah-blah-blah on how it's what is best for my baby. But those same women feed their children crap once they are eating solids. Ween off the golden Kool-aid and onto fast food, frozen dinners and chips. Where are the greens? What about the lean meats and egg? Some fruit would do them some good.

Whenever people give me grief for feeding my children formula, I think about what they feed their kids and then I judge them. Harshly. Judging: What goes around comes around.

TX Girl said...

I'm with you on this one. Why do people think it is any of their business? It's almost as offensive as when someone finds out you are having twins and the first question you hear them ask is.. "oh, I'm assuming you were infertile and had to go the IVF route because you are having twins?" Holy crap that is so unbelievably inappropriate.

I wasn't going to comment because everyone else seemed to adequately cover my thoughts on the subject.
But then I read the comment that included how they loved that they could help their babies continue to grow in a personal and private way.. although immediately responding that it is a personal and private decision.

Sure I'm happy you added that last point, but does this person think that because I didn't breastfeed my experience wasn't personal or private? There in lies the problem. If you talk about it and ask about it you will always offend someone. Because no matter how much you profess it is their personal choice, if it ends up being a different choice from yours human nature dictates you point out that their choice isn't the right one, because heaven forbid you feel insecure about your choice. The funny thing.. in all reality your right and my wrong could very well be opposite. I'm absolutely doing the same thing to this poor commenter in this comment section and I absolutely acknowledge it. And clearly this is a bothersome subject for me.

Sadly, I don't think anyone will ever stop asking inappropriate questions. Today's culture dictates we know everything and gossip about everything.