1. You ask us to set aside our emotions and not take everything personally.
I can’t do that. I won’t separate what is natural for me to feel. And it is personal. The broken breastfeeding relationship with my first son IS inherently emotional. After struggling to have him (two miscarriages), a c-section and a lack of true understanding of what to expect coupled with my overwhelming desire to just feel normal again, our relationship came to a bumpy end when he was about five months old. I cried. I mourned the relationship that everyone told me should be natural. Having such a different experience with my second son only made me mourn the first breastfeeding experience as an even more significant failure. When I have a discussion about this, I AM emotional because it hurts.
2. It’s not your intention to be judgmental. At your core, you are not judging.
But when I have (or others) have shared about their emotional journey with such a touchy subject and you continue to recite studies, statistics, facts, and the like just to prove your point? You’ve lost me. Unintended or not, you have spent your time ensuring that people have the knowledge at the expense of me. I know breast is best. I know formula falls last on the list of acceptable means for baby to eat (heaven knows you’ve reminded us five times in the course of the same discussion). Do you think I don’t know that? Then why keep reminding me?
3. Sometimes, your facts and studies won’t work the way you want them to.
My first son is a thriving, smart, four-year-old who didn’t get any major sickness until he was about a year old. My almost EBF son? Thriving and smart, but catches sickness like a major-leaguer. He’s usually first, has it the longest, and it can be rough…
4. I know most of you are well-intentioned. Really, I do.
But just like when talking to a woman after she suffers a miscarriage, timing and wording is everything. Telling her it will be “better next time” or talking about all the ways that breastfeeding is proven to better than formula? That’s not helpful. Not when she has so openly bared her struggles to you.
You’re right. No one can make me feel guilty or like a failure. But they CAN make me feel worse. They can fuel the negative voice that tells me I’m a failure as a mom. That I didn’t do it right.
I stood in a Mall today as my two-year-old threw the mother of all tantrums. He kicked at me, screeched, screamed, stomped, ran around, and refused to do anything I asked. All the while, one of my dearest friends stood by with her son in a stroller observing the throes of motherhood. Embarrassed to my core and wondering just what else I could do, I looked at my friend and told her she could keep walking – that I would wait out this tantrum alone and win the battle of wills with him. She looked at me with sympathetic eyes and said she understood. She said that could be her in a few years. But mostly, she just stood by me. She didn’t offer a litany of studies, statistics, or links filled with information. She offered herself & her heart.
I say all this, not to cast judgment on your passion. Or to say that you shouldn’t be educated or inform others. But I want you to so desperately understand that your passion may very well be someone else’s pain.