“I support breastfeeding. But…” – A list of common rhetoric.

Supportive PartnerYesterday I saw a meme about a conversation a mother had with her 4 year old over breastfeeding her younger daughter. The comments on the post were…..well, very discouraging.  “I support breastfeeding. But…..” followed by a host of excuses. If there is ever a ‘but’ after “I support”, then you don’t support it. Period.  If your support was true, it wouldn’t need any modifiers. There always seems to be a core list of ‘buts’ that people use to mask their conditional support. I’ll try, as feeble an attempt it may be, to dispel these common modifiers through my own experiences.

“Use a cover!” – Ummm, no. My children do not like covers. They are hot little creatures that sweat and a cover compounds that. Have you ever seen a mother attempting to cover a child that doesn’t want to be covered while nursing? Yeah, little flailing limbs that draw about 1,000% more attention than the act of nursing without a cover ever would. Covers are not an option for us.

“We’re trying to eat here.” – And so is my child. We eat at the table, my child eats at the table. It’s simple really. Should I deprive my child of food because you yourself are eating? That seems illogical. You’re also making my wife uncomfortable, so please swivel your head the other way and focus on your own table and family.

“I don’t want my kids seeing that!” – What, how nature works? What breasts are really meant for? A special bond between a mother and child? If anything, kids SHOULD see this. If anything, a child will think NOTHING more of a nursing mother other than she is feeding her child. Children do not see a problem with that, adults that think their children shouldn’t see it do.

“That child should be on regular milk.”  – Regular milk? You mean pumped breast milk from another species of mammal designed specifically for their own offspring? Because that sounds like what nature intended to be natural and regular. The only milk I’ll ever classify as regular is the milk that my wife produces for my child with her own body.

“If they’re old enough to ask for it, they’re too old for it.” – By this logic a child should never be breastfed because they ask for it no sooner than they are born. A lot of children sign it by 6 months and most can ask for it verbally at 1 year. AAP and WHO recommends it until at least 2 years old. This is a completely flawed argument. Humans have evolved this special ability called speech, and a child being able to ask for it, whether through crying, signing or verbiage, makes it much simpler on the child and mom.

“I don’t just pull my stuff out in public. That’s all these mothers want to do.” – You figured them out. There is this whole sorority of nursing moms that get their jollies on flashing their breasts in public. Nursing is legal exhibitionism don’t you know. The last thing any mother (and their partner for that matter) wants is a stranger staring at her breasts while she feeds her child. And honestly, as much breastfeeding and nursing as I’ve seen (not just from my wife but from the plethora of parenting related events, conventions, rallies, etc. that I have attended) I rarely see that much actual boob. And as a side note, your ‘stuff’ cannot nourish and sustain an infant’s life; so until it can, it stays in your pants.

“Can’t you pump and use bottles?” – Doesn’t work that way. It can, but most of the time it doesn’t. Most babies have difficulty transitioning from bottle to breast and latch is greatly affected. Some moms, no matter the grade of pump, just won’t produce milk with one. Only the baby stimulating the breast will work. And then there’s the working moms. Moms that spend the day away from their child (my wife falls into this category). When they are home; they are nursing. Plain and simple. That is their bonding time. They pump all day and can’t wait for their little one to latch on and have that reconnecting moment.

There is a good chance that mother had a hard time getting to the point she is currently at in her nursing relationship. It may be her first time being comfortable enough to publicly nurse. She may have overcome a great struggle to even breastfeed in the first place. Also, the nourishment and hunger of my child will always trump your argument. Every. Time. So the next time you are slightly uncomfortable around a nursing mother, you might to think twice before reaching into your bag of worn out rhetoric.

Oh, dear experts…

According to the experts I should have a clingy child. One that will not venture out or become independent. Supposedly he will need us forever because of how he is being raised.

Confused Expert

Confused Expert

Little do these experts know my son is the one I have to constantly remind to stay close because he is so eager to explore all of his environments. When we are out he seldom needs our guiding to navigate his world. Should I tell these experts that my son often shuns my help in an attempt to conquer his endeavors all on his own? “I can do it!” he will scream as he takes control.

These are the same experts that said my son will never sleep on his own or through the night if we allow him to nurse to sleep and not have access to our bed. Or that he will be unruly if punishment wasn’t provided for misbehavior. Or that we are creating an entitled brat because we reach agreements by compromise instead of dictating demands.

No dear experts. You are quite wrong. Independence is fostered through connection and a safe, secure home-base. Respect, validation and responsiveness provide that foundation. Oh experts, I hate to inform you that my son is quite capable, independent, respectful and cooperative despite going against your expert advice. Thank you anyways.

That Similac Ad: A rebuttal of sorts.

MomWarsI know everyone on earth has seen it, laughed at it, cried because of it and inevitable got into some debate from it. I’m not going to get into the psychology of the ad itself as it’s been discussed ad nauseam. I will however briefly explore a wider realm of detriment it imposes: a disguised attempt to end The Mommy Wars. I’m not a fan of the term, but I’ll stick with it since it’s universally known as that.

I’m going to dive in about the meatier battles within the war. If you use a stroller over baby-wearing, then roll on. Disposables over clothe? Not worries. Formula vs. breast? He’s being fed, right? How you chose to birth or whether you work or not doesn’t matter. Even though some hold merit over others; these are all the smaller ‘to each their own’ type battles. But under this same umbrella would fall the bigger, more detrimental practices such as CIO (cry-it-out sleep training), corporal punishment and circumcision; which definitely do not fall into the ‘to each their own’ hat when science has proven otherwise.

Imagine for a moment, that all discourse on parenting practices ended. That would mean studies on the effects of these harmful practices would halt and anyone speaking against the act would be deemed a judgmental asshat. Yes, there are those extremists who sling mud and run off at the mouth on all sides, but a majority of those are simply presenting information in an attempt to inform, not belittle. This often comes across as attacks to those that are sensitive or have quilt from utilizing them.

A complacency in allowing inadvertent (yet sometimes purposefully) harmful practices would be the suppression of further discussions and sharing of pertinent information vital to future generations; which is a grave disservice. I would never, ever say “It’s okay that you struck your child. You love them.” Or pat someone on the back and tell them it was good decision to allow their child to scream themselves to sleep; we’re all just parents after all. I will never condone the circumcision of your son; a practice routinely done mainly in the U.S. and is largely falling out of favor (most of the world condemns the U.S. for it). How can I condone any of these things when they have been proven to cause harm? That’s not ‘mommy wars’; that’s fighting for the well being and rights of our children. That’s being pro-child.

This ad is eerily similar to one with the photo shoot of the various moms holding opposing signs together in harmony, and now the granola add. In light of these two campaigns anyone who speaks out (on either side) is frowned upon; further suppressing information. As is anyone that doesn’t particularly like the campaigns. ‘How can you not like them and their message?’ they’ll scream. Let us not forget that Similac is a for-profit company that is combating a large breast feeding movement, which is potentially cutting into their margins.

I say let’s keep the discussions going, keep sharing the information and parent on. Let’s stop the bashing, name-calling and mud-slinging during these discussions. It is true: we do all love our children and want the best outcome for them.

His safe place.

It’s 8 pm and I just sat down for the first time. I watch my 2 year old son as he peacefully nurses, curled up in his moms lap like an armadillo. His eyes are slowly closing and opening; still gazing into his moms eyes while his belly fills with warm nourishment. His hand, resting on her chest, relaxes and falls lazily to his side. My wife, glowing in motherhood, who just got home from a 12 hour shift and was met by our eager son, glances my way. I smile and she sighs in defeat of the day that was. TheBoy’s eyes are no longer open; he has succumbed to the sleeping potion that is his nursies.

This is our routine; their relationship. This is his comfort, his safe space. His 2 years of existence have teetered on his nursies. They turn his bad days good, and a strong bond stronger. The road to this relationship staple was rocky, but victorious. Every night ends with his mamma’s milk. While it does not actually put him to sleep that often anymore, he still has his safe place; his nightly fulfillment.

This will all soon change in 7 short months and what was once his refuge will now be communal; a shared commodity between him and his new sibling. I sit, watching how blissfully unaware TheBoy is about what his future holds. Peacefully lost in his happy dreams he sleeps. His life will forever be altered. Mom’s attention will be divided.

I can only speculate how he will take to this change. Will he be receptive? Annoyed? See it as a rival for competition? Embrace the newness? Regress in his behavior? His routine will now involve an extra human; one to look after, to care for, to bond with, to love. I’m both excited and nervous at this change he will experience, that we will experience. Time truly will tell and as I think about all his attributes, he’ll adapt well to his new sibling. I think my worries lie within me, not my son.