Tag Archives: breastfeeding

No Buts: How to be an Ally


I’ve had a red letter week for trolling. First, I managed to shame my own mother into taking down a blog post just because she happened to touch on a personal failing I’m sensitive about. Sorry, again, Mom.

Second, I had my first unfriending. Or she blocked me. Not really sure which. I’m strangely proud of this last accomplishment. I mean, I’m a narcissist. Everyone must like me or else what’s the point. And yet here I am, not mired in self-doubt or anxiety.

Let’s set the stage, shall we? Scrolling through the Facebook yesterday, I saw a post from a college friend stating an unpopular opinion about a subject I’m heavily vested in. And she ended her post with the warning that arguing with her was pointless since it wouldn’t change her mind.

Now, I don’t normally engage in debates on social media. When someone challenges the world like that they aren’t looking for debate. They’re looking for validation. You can bury them in facts all day and they’ll cling to their opinion because it’s a matter of pride. I’m well aware of the pointlessness of such discussions. But the entire post raised my hackles.

Ok, says I, I’ll just comment my experience and go.

Long story short, I tried and failed to either stay out of it or make any dent in her view. As was bound to happen. My experience didn’t matter to her because she wasn’t talking about me specifically. Nor did my expertise on the subject since she just latched on to the information she already knew. In the end it was agree to disagree and that’s the end of it.

Except of course that wasn’t the end of it. I was PISSED. I did my best to remain polite, keep things civil, but the things she said in her OP, responding to my comments, and to other comments just kept circling around in my head until I knew a blog had to happen so I could exorcise the demon. I was going to take her post, break it down point by point and get to the root of what bothered me so much about it.

She took down the post first. Followed it up with a thanks for the lolz, y’all didn’t change my mind even though I read and fully understood all your arguments, and clearly you dissenters just didn’t understand what I meant.

Guys. This is me. LIVID. A: I don’t have the OP or my comments so I can’t fix this bug in my brain. B: She impugned my reading comprehension. (Not by name, but she grouped everyone who disagreed with her into the category of deliberately misunderstanding her.) C: She dismissed everything people had been trying to tell her because she’s entitled to her own opinion and they just didn’t get it. Lolz.

LIVID. So, like the mature adult I am, I posted on my page a crude, boiled down summary of her OP, quoting her out of context and as best I could from memory, and included her inference that my reading comprehension was to blame. Then I tagged my former English professors and some people who had classes with me. I didn’t mention her name or tag her or anything. Still a dick move, I admit that.

Let me tell you, the responses were quite gratifying. Even when she popped up and called me a liar for misrepresenting her. Of course, no one would have known I was talking about her if she hadn’t said anything. And sadly, her response only made her look worse to an audience I had already biased against her. The best response would have been to share her original post and leave it at that or just PM me. Sadly, she did neither and was ridiculed by my well-meaning and frightfully educated friends.

And I bet you’re DYING to know what we were arguing about. I’m not going to tell you. Because this is a post about How to be an Ally and if I tell you the inciting incident, we’ll end up debating it. Or the rage will take over.

How to be an Ally.

What is an Ally? Well, that’s simply someone who supports a cause even if they aren’t directly impacted by it. Straight people advocating for LGBT+ rights. White people supporting the Civil Rights Movement. Men supporting women’s rights. Cat people donating to dog shelters.

Now this young woman claimed to be supportive of a cause. Except she stated point blank there was no reason to demonstrate or protest for the cause since she had never witnessed the type of discrimination that was being protested. Strike one. Then she casually dismissed the struggles of the people affected by said discrimination (so casually she didn’t even realize she’d done it). Strike two. Then she made her support conditional on said people adhering to her standards of morality and common sense. Strike three.

Not. An. Ally.

Rule #1: If you want to be an Ally, don’t add a caveat to your support. Read this very carefully.

I’m all for (insert social movement here), but only if they all wear orange socks on Tuesdays.

That sounds ridiculous, yes? Well so does telling someone you support them but only so long as you can dictate the means by which they advocate for themselves. “I just don’t like how they’re protesting” is essentially “my comfort is more important than those people.” Not “their cause.” PEOPLE. Dismissing the validity of a movement should be conditional on the issues, not how attention is brought to them.

Rule #2: No Modest Proposals. Some of you may remember a post I did on the little word “just.” It’s an insidious modifier which manages to transform Herculean tasks into mere trifles. “If they would just (insert seemingly simple solution to complex issue) I would support them. It’s not that hard.” Here’s a famous satirical example: if the Irish just ate their babies, they wouldn’t be starving. Congrats, you’re blaming the victim for being abused. How very noble of you. You’re also claiming that you know better than they do what they’re fighting for and how they should go about it.

Let’s be clear, any form of protest is met with the same arguments as stated above. Non-violent protesters are tazed, maced, and run over by cars, despite claims that non-violence is the only path to social reform. Ah, well, they must have been doing it wrong, eh? Bottom line: it isn’t the form of protest that bothers those people. They just need the excuse to dismiss the issue because it makes them uncomfortable to question the status quo. And, yeah, that’s pretty harsh. But so is telling a mother her child was probably shot dead for a reason. Conditional support is not support.

Which takes us to the most disturbing part of the OP. The cause is bs, there is no need to “normalize” because it is already normal.

Rule #3: Don’t claim the cause you support is made up.

I have not personally experienced racism, so we live in a post-racial society.

I’ve never met an anti-vaxxer, so the world-wide rise in deadly diseases is probably a fluke.

I’ve never been to China so it doesn’t exist.

Not experiencing discrimination does not mean it doesn’t happen. Just means it doesn’t happen to you. And it’s incredibly insulting to say, especially if you will never have to deal with that discrimination being directed at you. It speaks to a wealth of ignorance on the subject. Imagine having a white person say that racism is a myth and explaining quite calmly that if black people just followed the law, they wouldn’t get gunned down in the street. Oh, wait. I was going for hyperbole and completely missed the mark.

Okay, I don’t suffer from seasonal allergies, but my husband does. Honestly, though, why does he need allergy meds? Why can’t he just stay inside? There’s no point in him going out there to prove it’s an issue. He’s just breaking out in hives to get attention. Nobody’s making him leave the house.

Furthermore, just because you aren’t against a cause doesn’t mean no one is. No, maybe you haven’t personally lynched anyone lately. Guess that means the KKK is totally irradicated. Your support doesn’t magically mean that the struggle is over and overt claims of that kind tell those people you “support” two things. First, you don’t actually know anything about what they’re advocating for. Second, they should be grateful you are gracing them with your approbation at all since it saves them from needing to advocate further for their rights. I’ve never pushed you into traffic. You’re welcome.

Hmmm. Thanks, but no thanks.

To reiterate, don’t use social media to undermine the cause. Don’t blast away on Facebook about how supportive you are unless you actually mean it. And don’t dismiss a cause as bs just because you disagree with the form of protest. Is anyone making you go around with your boobs exposed to protest discrimination against breastfeeding mothers and the sexualization of feeding infants? No? Do you have a neck with functioning vertebrae? Good. Use it to turn your head away like a mature adult.

Breastfeeding in public is the tip of the excruciating iceberg for some mothers in their struggle feed their children in a society that actively encourages them to quit. They fight through latch issues, engorgement, tongue/lip ties, mastitus, nursing strikes, chafed/cracked nipples, biting, yeast infections, under-supply, allergies, and a million other exhausting, painful, and often terrifying circumstances. And that’s just the physical obstacles to simply nursing, without counting the added strain of months of sleep deprivation and wildly fluctuating hormones. If they have 9-5 jobs, they drag pumps to work and diligently pump every 2 hours because if they don’t they risk drying up, even though it’s probably hurting their career. They lecture child care facilities on pace feeding and dispute policies restricting breast milk to babies under a year old. They spend hours crying over their child because it shouldn’t be this hard. They argue with doctors who tell them to switch to formula because it’s easier than diagnosing a problem. They argue with family and friends who tell them that’s it’s weird and gross. And they listen to moronic people who have never done it tell them how to breastfeed. Just use a cover? I’m sorry, my son isn’t an effing doll. He doesn’t like being covered and I can either feed him or worry about your delicate sensibilities. Guess which one is my priority.

Your misguided and ignorant judgment of nursing mothers is repulsive and I’ll ask you to keep your juvenile opinions where they belong: with the rest of the trash.

Oops, I guess I let slip the inciting incident. Probably best that she blocked me.

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On Raising Babies


What is it like, having a baby?

Well, the actual having part has been documented quite thoroughly, from the making to the birthing (though the accuracy is quite lacking if you ask me).  And there are any number of humorous RomComs and straight comedies about adults coming face to face with infants as a reality (oh, a grown man has to change a diaper, how hilariously unexpected!!!).  Besides Hollywood’s take, there is the experience that most of the planet has first hand.  I guess it’s kind of expected that the knowing comes with the experience.  Or something.

Forgive me if I’m sounding a bit spacey.  I haven’t slept for more than 2 hrs straight in nearly 4 months.  No amount of napping seems to make up for that.

Anyway, I finally found the correct metaphor for how it feels with my son on a day to day basis.  It’s very much like running a race.  Actually, it’s like running 3 races.

Everyday, from the time my husband goes to work at around 7 or 8 until he gets home at 5:30 or 6, I run a marathon.  But it’s a cross country marathon where the terrain changes daily and I’m not sure about the route or how long the race will last.  It’s broken up into segments by feedings (still every 2 hrs) and diaper changes, but that’s pretty much my day.  When he’s not eating, he’s either napping (on me) or playing or fussing.  The fussing intensity varies, but in the last few weeks he’s started to fuss when he’s tired and needs a nap.  He will cry for a while, I don’t know how long really, while we walk him around the house and sing or shush.  Then he will fall asleep for an indeterminate amount of time.  That is what he is doing now, which is why I have the time to write.  If it’s almost feeding time and he gets that nap fuss going, we’ll try to distract him with play until it’s time to eat because nursing usually puts him down.  But if we feed him early he just gets pissed off.

When Buddy gets home, the race becomes a relay where we pass him off to each other for various reasons.  “Take him, I need a shower.”  “Give him so you can wash dishes.”  “I can’t take the crying, you’re it.”  And back and forth as we do chores or recharge.  This is also the main race during the weekends, though I guess that’s more of a co-race situation since we tend to spend as much time doing stuff together with him as apart.  The most romantic thing Buddy has done since Buddy Boy was born was offer to take him to the commissary without me.  I hadn’t gotten to sleep until 4am for no reason and he wanted to let me nap without someone kicking me every few minutes.  I ended up dream-feeding (feeding him while both of us doze) the boy for a few extra hours and we went to the commissary together, but it was still most sweet.

Which takes us to the last race: sprints.  Or what most people casually call running errands.  We aren’t really racing against time or anything, but it does feel like we are carrying a time bomb in the stroller.  Like I said, he eats every 2 hours.  So at most we have an hour and a half to run errands before he starts fussing for feeding.  Sometimes we can push this further because he tends to sleep in the car.  But there’s no way to know if he’s actually going to sleep or if he’s going to stubbornly stay awake.  Even if he’s not crying, he’s still not getting a nap that he might need.  And once he’s out of the car, it’s a gamble as to whether he’ll stay asleep or wake up.  Most recently he’s been waking up as soon as we leave the car, which means it really is a race to see how much we can get done before he goes NOPE to the whole experience.  So we no longer spend whole Saturdays running all over creation, browsing and window shopping, etc.  My errand running is brutally efficient so I can get him back home to eat.

You may wonder why I don’t do longer trips and just feed in public.  I have a few reasons, actually.  For practical reasons, I like to split my errands up into multiple days because if I don’t get out of the house every day, I go a little bonkers.  Another reason is that it is such a time suck.  He takes 30 minutes to feed, if he feels like it.  If he is hot, uncomfortable, or ornery, it takes longer and is no guarantee that he will stop fussing and let me finish shopping.  So I go through all the effort and just end up spending more time doing errands rather than getting home where I can feed him in comfort.  The second is that it is ungainly/difficult.  I never realized how un-sitting friendly everywhere is.  I personally don’t want to stand in the middle of an aisle trying to hold up a squirming bowling ball for 30 minutes.  Because, yes he squirms and he weighs the same as a bowling ball.  A very large, squishy bowling ball.  It’s bad enough if I do find a nice place to sit because then I have to handle a crying baby on my lap while I try to un-holster a boob, get my nipple shield on (I have flat nipples so we need the help for latching), and get him positioned, all why holding on to a bare modicum of decency under a cover-up so some stranger doesn’t get a free shot of my nipple.  And then it’s not like he just goes all comatose once he’s on there.  He squirms and kicks and twitches his head around and cries, I have to adjust him and the shield and hope that he settles, but not so much so that he falls asleep before he’s done eating because then he’ll just wake up 15 min later crying because he’s still hungry and I’m STILL not done in Target.  All while people watch and judge me.

If I’m worried about decency, why not feed him in the privacy of a bathroom?  I’m so glad you asked.  First, I’m not worried about covering up that much.  Covering up is an inconvenience that I will do if I feel like it.  My modesty will extend only to where it is convenient.  So if I can’t get him to latch or if it is making him too hot or if I just don’t feel like it, the cover is going to stay in the bag and you’ll just have to deal with it.  Once he’s latched, there isn’t much to see anyway since I use the 2-shirt method (tank top pulled down under a t-shirt pulled up).  Second, bathrooms are GROSS.  Public bathrooms, private bathrooms, doesn’t matter.  They’re gross.  I have fed my son in a bathroom a couple of times, once because there was simply no place to sit in the store and again in the family bathroom which I mistakenly thought might have a seat in it.  Both times were awful.  I gotta ask the people who suggest bathrooms as feeding places whether they have ever been in a public bathroom before.  I mean, none of the toilets have lids, for starters.  That means there’s no place to sit.  I might have been able to feed standing when he was really little, but Buddy Boy is well over 15 lbs now and I’m a tiny weak person.  I’ve been in a splint for tendinitis in my right thumb because of picking him up repeatedly.  He is, what some nice lady phrased, a pork chop.  No lids on toilets also means that when they flush, all the stuff in the water becomes a lovely mist that covers up to 10 feet of the surrounding area.  So, yeah, gross effing germs on EVERYTHING.

I want a little privacy so you all don’t stare at me while he whines and struggles and in general is a little butt-face while I’m trying to provide him with life-giving sustenance.  I don’t get that privacy when I go out into the wide world because breastfeeding friendly spaces are simply not a priority.  That’s fine.  That just means I sprint through my errands.

There you have it, the three modes I travel in now.  The problems I tend to face stem from me forgetting what race I’m in.  I forget that in a relay, I can pass the torch when I get tired.  Or I get to the middle of the afternoon and realize I’ve been sprinting instead of pacing myself and the next hour or two before Buddy gets home is going to be rough.  Or we get stuck at every stoplight on the drive home while Buddy Boy cries inconsolably because we treated errands like a marathon.  I suppose the hardest adjustment we’ve had to make is accepting that it will be a continuous race for YEARS.  There’s no actual breaks, no time to waste.  We can’t just blow off a Saturday and be lazy because that was the ONLY chance we had to get the lawn done.  Or fold the laundry.  Or whatever.  If I can’t sleep at night, I feed my boy and then do some chores.  That might be at 2:00am.  But then I can spend most of the morning just feeding him in bed while we both finish sleeping.  We are tired in bone and body.   But I’m frankly not as tired as I expected to be.  Well, not physically tired.

I am frequently emotionally tired, psychologically tired, just tired.  I get tired of being a mother, being the soul provider all day long, being the responsible one.  I get tired of not knowing why he’s crying without guessing.  I get tired of not doing what I want to do whenever I want to do it (to include eating and peeing).  I get tired of waiting to see what he’s going to do, what his mood is, what he feels up to.  So I pass him off to my loving husband for a little bit, sometimes as little as 10 minutes is enough.  I do my pumping or read a chapter of Harry Potter and I can retake the mantle of Mommy.

It’s funny how often in the first 3 months I lost my temper.  Found myself yelling profanities at my son because I just snapped.  He needed a fresh diaper when I thought he was still hungry.  Or he couldn’t get settled on the boob, either because he was too tired or just not hungry enough, and I just wanted him to eat and go to sleep.  Not really funny HAHA, but funny.  Because one second I would be furious, to the point where I’d have to put him down IMMEDIATELY and the next second I’d be holding him determined to figure out what he needed.  I felt very Jekyll and Hyde.  I still get frustrated now, it never goes away.  My fuse is very short.  That doesn’t stop me wanting to hold him, cuddle him, make him smile.

What I’m trying to say is it’s not all kitties and rainbows and humorously messy diapers.  It’s good days and bad days and just days.  And we go one day at a time.  Honestly, what other choice do we have?

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