Breastfeeding Judgey McJudgerson

Apr 26, 2014

It was a Sunday afternoon and I was feeling awkward.

I was meeting a friend at a local event for moms. She had a longer drive than I, so I arrived several minutes before her. I decided to go in alone and see if I knew anyone. Luckily, I spotted a friend from grad school — Audrey — and asked if I could sit with her. She graciously invited me to join her group.

Audrey explained that they all knew each other from a Book-Club-Turned-Mommy-Group; they’d been meeting regularly for years. We sat around a large round table, the girls catching up with each other while I listened and tried not to feel too out of place.

The ultimate Mommy War-sparking magazine cover.

The ultimate Mommy War-sparking magazine cover.

One girl sat down with her plate of food and another said how good it was to see her. “I almost didn’t come,” the new arrival said. “My daughter has been so fussy since Tuesday, and we’re at our wit’s end, we don’t know what to do. But my husband said I should come and get out of the house.”

The others murmured their sympathies. “Well, we all know what a fussy baby is like!” one reassured her.

The new arrival, Anna, grew tearful. “But I know what’s wrong. We had to switch to formula.” And then, to my horror, Anna started to cry. Her face crumpled and tears rolled down her cheeks. I felt like I was intruding on a private moment, and tried to shrink into my chair.

Two of the women jumped up from their seats to hug Anna, reassuring her that everything was going to be okay.

“It’s 2014, Anna! Formula is really good now!” one exclaimed.

I tried to contribute something meaningful. “Hell, ‘formula’ used to be sweetened condensed milk with water added. We all turned out fine!” I said. Audrey nodded at me; she wasn’t breastfed either and we both had a Master’s degree under our belts.

Anna tried to get her emotions under control, but I took my cue to leave the table. These girls knew each other well, and I was the awkward stranger in the circle, making this poor girl’s embarrassing moment even more difficult.

I mumbled something about raffle tickets, slinking away quietly, and I thought about poor Anna and her guilt-fueled reaction. Why did she feel such pressure when she’d obviously tried hard to make it work?

It reminded me of my friend Lisa, who I visited recently to meet her newborn daughter. As she thought about her impending return to work, she explained that she was “a bad pumper” and asked if I had any tips for pumping at work. But as we talked, I learned that there was nothing ‘bad’ about Lisa’s pumping. She pumped religiously and as often as she could, never missing a scheduled pumping.

She was a good pumper. She simply had a body that didn’t like the breast pump, and no matter how hard she tried, her milk wouldn’t let down fully like it did when she nursed. Lisa felt like a failure, yet nothing was farther from the truth. We work with the tools we’re given, and that’s all we can do. It’s all Anna could do, too, and for whatever reason, her body (or her baby) wasn’t cooperating. Who knows?

Suffice to say, this is not the mom’s fault. There’s no reason these women should shed a single tear over their inability to breastfeed for as long as they had planned.

I’ll admit — I am part of the problem. I get a little uppity about breastfeeding because I am knowledgeable about its health benefits; most proven by legitimate research (some are lofty speculation). Hell, I would have kept breastfeeding Peanut past 14 months if I could have.

That said, I limit my Judgey McJudgerson attitude toward women who don’t even try. The vain ones who forgo breastfeeding because they’re afraid to lose their perky boobs. The ones who think it’s ‘weird’ or ‘gross.’ Or the girls who give up after one week because it’s a little inconvenient.

Your milk has barely come in and you’re throwing in the towel? News flash: there’s a lot about parenting that’s uncomfortable. Suck it up, and give breastfeeding a chance at least.

Like anything worth doing, it’s probably going to be tough at first. Use your resources — the lactation consultant from your hospital, a friend who breastfed, a local support group, and yes, Google — when you need help. Push through, mama. For many, many women (me included) it’s extremely hard at first.

On the other side of the coin, you shouldn’t continue to breastfeed if you are driving yourself mad. Better a happy mama with a formula-fed baby than a lunatic with a breastfed kiddo. Recognize when you’ve hit the point of “I’ve tried really hard, and this shit ain’t working.” Know your limits, ladies. There is a point where throwing in the towel is the right thing to do.

For first time moms, having realistic expectations is part of what can help you push through the initial hard stage. Don’t go in thinking it’ll be a walk in the park. Like a lot of things that parents do, it’s a challenge that will have you second-guessing yourself. As long as baby’s gaining weight and healthy, keep it up. It gets easier for most people.

There are people who are really passionate about breastfeeding, and those who don’t really give a shit. In both groups, there are women for whom breastfeeding just “works” and those for whom it just “doesn’t.”

I don’t judge either Anna or Lisa. The fact they’re upset shows they really, really care. It’s for their sake that we should all try harder to keep the Judgey McJudgerson comments to a minimum, so moms like them understand that it’s okay.

Nobody should have to cry in front of a total stranger over booby milk.




About Me

Hiya! I'm Lydia. I live in Iowa with my husband and two children, both the result of iVF. I started this blog in 2011, so everything here's a wee bit... old. I don't do a ton of writing anymore... but I'm leaving the blog up, in case it's helpful for those who stumble across it.

Skip to the iVF

If you're going through infertility and want to see our journey, start in June 2011 (first two cycles) or January 2014 (third cycle). Hopefully reading about our rollercoaster with assisted reproduction brings you a little hope, and more than a few giggles. (Keep in mind that this information is over a decade old in most cases; please don't take anything you read here as medical advice. Consult your doctor for facts.)

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1 Comment

  1. I’ve read every single one of your blogs (backward chronological order, recent to oldest) up to this one. Especially the one about going viral. But what gives? You are being SO judgy, rude in fact. Especially this part.
    Look at it from a perspective that isn’t your almighty all-knowing one for one sec will ya?

    Let’s say, from a very young age you struggled with your body, fought against your genes until your teeth fell out – literally.
    Because this is what happens when you make yourself barf after every encounter of 5+ bites
    Those dinners you can’t skip because it’s a family occasion or a friends birthday and you’re already primal suspect, guilty of anorexia.
    So you eat the greens, the least damaging in case you don’t get that far- wait for it- then the meat – then the carbs. Run the bath and retch till you see the greens.

    Let’s then say, you offer to be a surrogate for family friends desperate for a baby, only to find out you’re infertile, thanks to the years of rejection and abuse.

    THEN, let’s say, years down the line, by the modern medical marvel that is medicine, you get pregnant.

    For 20 years, you’ve detested and rejected your body, so much so you put it tirelessly through what you believed to be repent. Said body failed you when you called upon its fate – for a baby – now you’re fighting neck and neck, mind vs body, mind has always prevailed but you know body needs substance to grow tiny human, even though you’ve spent 20 years perfecting minimal sustenance existence.

    THEN, let’s say, by some twist of miracle, baby arrives and YOU make THE DECISION to NOT breastfeed. Because it’s your body and no one else has to live in that skin for the rest of your life, literally only.. yep. You guessed it. You. FOREVER.

    Try see it from this angle-

    You talked about how working out helped your mental health.. how temporarily giving up working out effected your mental health.. and thus, turns you into ‘shouty mommy’. Your mental health is your health, maintaining your health as a mom is important, as it directly effects your ability to be a mom.

    You then said you spend 80 dollars a month and work out 5-6 days a week. IMAGINE if someone called you vein and selfish. Spouted off about how that 80 dollars should be going to your kids savings, how that 5-6 hours a week should be spent with your kids/ maintaining household or showering your hub with affection, and if you didn’t do this, you were… selfish and vein.

    That’s how not destroying my breasts is for me. (yes, I would see them as destroyed. My body, my opinion.) I’m a UK size 4 (US 0) with DD natural boobs, PRE PREGNANCY. So I’m sure you can imagine how ‘pregnancy boobs’ is for me, a temporary condition, just like when you temporarily gave up working out. Had I breast fed, the physical damage would be permanent, the mental damage would’ve been more so, ten steps back. It would’ve directly, severely, effected my mental health, as established, mental health IS health, health leads to mom ability.

    You want people not to judge you, to not preach to you about YOUR decisions in parenting and pregnancy, yet you offer no such conduct? You want your readers to see you as an individual, doing things that work for YOU and YOUR family. So drop it, yeah? Treat your readers as they are individual people, doing things that work for them. You know how it feels, as a woman, to be let down by your body, can you imagine that pain for the entirety of your life? And I’m now being called VEIN because years of therapy, hospitalisation, outpatient visits, meds and self-help has explicitly told me if I don’t learn to love myself, just a tiny piece of myself, I will die?

    Vein, someone that self-harms because they are so utterly disgusted with themselves they starve themselves as punishment for being so utterly disgusting. Vein, because the one thing I’m learning to love is the very area my significant other has so tremendously taught me, begged me, to love?

    I am so very disappointed, to read this, from a self-proclaimed sufferer of depression and anxiety, you should understand. You should take the time to understand, that everyone is different, situations and struggles are different.

    You shamed me for making this decision about my own body. I find it truly incredulous the level of hypocrisy here, if your writing blogs and publishing them for the general public, do try to exercise some restraint with the sly, back handed, low blows won’t you? Treat people how you want to be treated, you know, when you point the finger at someone and make a nasty comment or judgement (physically point with your hand) there are 3 fingers pointing back at you (physically, 3 of your fingers will be pointing back at you).


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