Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mothers' Group and The Cult of Breastfeeding

Back when Pillbug was a mere blastocyst1, CoffeeMan and I decided that we'd breastfeed him.  It was a pretty easy decision:  He's from a country where it sounds like exclusive formula feeding from Day 1 is on par with replacing his rattle with a crackpipe, I'd heard something or other about it helping you lose weight after birth.  That I'd be staying at home with the baby, and had heard all the pediatrician's thesis on the superiority of breastmilk vs. formula,was icing on the cake.  It was a done deal. Or so I thought.

What I didn't realize was the huge mistake we made in arriving at the decision to breastfeed:  We skipped over all the self-righteousness and sociopolitical rhetoric that should be an integral part of discussion in every marital and parenting decision we make for the rest of our lives.  I shouldn't have been surprised that family/friends have both literally applauded me, and also asked when the hell am I going to start giving my four week old solid foods.  Disturbingly, one of the most vocal members of the latter camp is my soon-to-be-fired gynecologist.  I'm not feeding my child; I'm - albeit doing the Diet Coke version thereof - part of A Movement and making A Statement:
  • F-U to those Feminazis at NOW, who according to the LLL worshippers ladies at my only local non-religious mothers' group, hate breasteeding. I read their negative reaction to the pro-breastfeeding commercials differently, and found it - surprise! - self-righteous, obnoxious and  reverse classist but reasonably logical and  pro-breastfeeding.
  • F-U to the eeevil, stuuupid United States (Maybe I didn't leave Liberal Yuppieland so far behind after all?) and its backwards moneyhungry puritanical culture
  •  I love my child way more than moms who choose to formula feed exclusively.  And of course, more than moms whose milk dries up early/never comes in due to medical issues, moms whose employers don't accommodate pumping, etc.
  • BUT since I use bottles of pumped milk,  nursing covers, and going to the other room/bathroom rather than give whomever a free show, I don't love my child as much as the militant, in your face, Nurse In Public people love theirs.
The day after I had Pillbug, a very nice woman came into the room to give me some tips on breastfeeding.  Ingrid scored points with me for having a cool name, wearing funky jewelery, and being a redhead and a fellow person of hair length,2 as well as for helping me keep from feeling like I was going to be chewed to death by my beloved little pirhana.  She mentioned a social group for young moms, facilitated by herself or another lactation consultant, where you could get follow up tips on breastfeeding.

Sounds good, right?  I have been twice so far, and was irked by the following:
  • As a geriatric 31 year old, I'm by far the oldest first time mom in the group. Eek!  In Liberal Yuppieland, it's practically scandalous if you have your first kid before your age alone necessitates IVF.
  • It's fine to ask me if CoffeeMan has brown hair like Pillbug's  because of course my blonde DNA alone doesn't produce wavy brown hair, dumbass, but don't look at me like I have three heads if I tell you he's black.  If  I'm going to lie, it'll be a lie that benefits me and one about something I can get away with; something obvious like race doesn't fall into that category.
  • Lengthy in-depth discussions about how we are superior human beings and mothers for the Statement we made by joining the breastfeeding Movement.  Medical benefits in the first six months, yes, yes, we covered that at the birthing classes. Bashing women who make different choices (due to fewer options perhaps?) not so much. Discussing how superior you, your family, and your child are to a room full of near strangers is just rude and arrogant - the proper forum for such a discussion is with my best friend from high school.  She and I can provide decades of concrete evidence of each other's awesomeness, now without our moms bitching at us to watch our language and quit tying up the phone line.

I would be remiss not to point out - If you're in that mother's group, you're a stay at home mom, or a mom with an unusually flexible employer, who gave birth at a very posh except for the epically shitty food hospital.  In other words, our husbands all make decent money or have hideous credit card bills judging by the late model SUVS and designer diaper bags some of these ladies have and have good health benefits. Having given birth in said posh hospital, we get unlimited free support from professional lactation consultants.  I had baby showers where I got a pillow, pump, how-to books, etc as gifts from my large circle of friends and relatives.  My husband and I both have the education and the wherewithal to derail attempts - sometimes by medical professionals -  to sabotage Pillbug's being breastfed. I personally have the added bonus of being able to call my mom, my mother in law3 or one of my husband's several aunts 24-7 if I have any questions about breastfeeding. In other words, we have it just a little easier than, oh, 99% of the moms in this country. 

And look like aging high school mean girls by forgetting that instead of being grateful for what we have.

1He's growing up so fast!
2After nearly a decade in snooty management consulting firms in the stuffiest city on earth, yeah, I do think I'm a rebel for having hair longer than the safe, professional "chin-to-shoulder length" hair.
3We have a  relationship that is completely inappropriate for a mother in law and a daughter in law - we get along great, because of  mutual love, appreciation and respect. Some family therapist out there would have a field day.

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