Formula Shaming and the People It Hurts

In my almost five years as a pregnant person/mother, I’ve been the direct and indirect recipient of various forms of shaming {as have all pregnant people/mothers}.  Maybe not in person, by my actual peers, all the time, but through tweets and blogs and replies to posts on message boards and Facebook.  Isn’t social media wonderful?  We can make people feel like crap from across the world.

Truth be told, it started even before I got pregnant.  I was having trouble conceiving and asked my OB/GYN about Clomid after seven months of being on Metformin did not help.  To some people, my inability to conceive without assistance should have just been a sign that I was not supposed to have children.  To those people I say:

Next was my decision to be induced at 39 weeks, after being told that my baby would possibly hit the 10-pound mark if I went to my due date or past full term.  I will own that one, I was just tired of being pregnant and scared of a gigantic baby.  If I had it to do over, I would probably make a different choice but the past is the past.  But then I got an epidural.  Oh the horror.  I couldn’t handle the pain that millions of women have dealt with for thousands of years.  Yep, right again.  But I was also well into Day 2 of a very hard labor, which ultimately resulted in me having to have a C-section.

What?!  A C-section??  Now we’re really getting into shaming territory.  How dare I choose to safely evacuate my baby from my uterus?!  His head was only swelling a little.  His heart rate was only decelerating a skosh.  My water had only been broken since early that morning and I was only closing out my second day of labor.  I should have just dug in, kept my eyes on the prize, and pushed that baby out even if it killed him!  Right?  NO.  He wasn’t coming out, so I put aside MY desire for a vaginal delivery in the interest of his health and well being.  Because THAT’S WHAT GOOD PARENTS DO.

One aspect of mother shaming I’ve never had to deal with is formula shaming.  I nursed both my kids for 16 and 19 months and never used any formula.  But this past weekend I have been bombarded with instances of women being shamed for their decision to feed their baby formula, and I find myself getting really defensive and riled up in support of formula feeding.  In one instance, a woman on a Facebook group for mothers asked how to best transition her baby to formula after exclusively pumping and bottle feeding her baby for six months.  The answers she got ranged from practical and helpful to extremely insulting.  She was told that her baby would not be okay with formula, that breast milk is so much healthier, and that she should continue to pump and pump and pump.  Then it was suggested that she feed her six month old raw, unpasteurized goat milk.  She was told to do research, formula contains chemicals and GMOs that cause cancer, and that her doctors might not support real nutrition.  The original poster even came back to reenforce the fact that she had made her decision and was really looking for helpful comments on how to make the transition easier.  Again, someone suggested raw goat milk and DO THE RESEARCH and FACTS THAT ARE PROVEN BECAUSE REASONS and GMOs CAUSE CANCER.  And I was told I was being nasty for countering this person’s every comment.  I just wanted to say “honey, I spent two years on The Bump and the past three years on a private message board where there isn’t any politeness police, so you have no idea the nastiness I am capable of spewing.”  BUT I DIDN’T.  So here this young mother was, asking for advice after having sacked up and made a very difficult decision, after putting her own comfort aside for SIX MONTHS to provide breast milk for her baby, and she’s getting grief for it.  Being told she’s not doing enough and that if she really loved her baby, she would continue to pump {not in so many words, but it’s not always what you say but how you say it}.  It was absolutely infuriating to read, and I just couldn’t keep quiet.

I also saw another example this weekend of what I would call indirect or passive formula shaming of a friend of mine from college.  When I tweeted about sparring with the aforementioned sanctimommy on Facebook, this friend shared that she was having her own issues with nursing her brand new baby and that she felt immense guilt over having to supplement and over not being able to produce enough and wanting to quit.  It really broke my heart that she isn’t fully enjoying the first few weeks of parenthood as much as she should because of the guilt she feels over a situation that is largely out of her control.  She had a breast reduction as a teenager, so I think she deserves a freaking gold medal for nursing her baby at all!  She is taking supplements, drinking tons of water, eating oatmeal, and trying to get enough rest, all to continue nursing her baby.  I think this is SO great and I absolutely encourage doing everything you can to continue nursing as long as everyone is on the same page and in a good frame of mind about it.  But for her to feel so guilty about not producing enough and going crazy and depriving herself of sleep and nursing/pumping around the clock is not healthy physically or mentally.  And hearing that “breast milk is best” when you aren’t producing enough, due to circumstances completely out of your control, is rubbing salt in the wound and is just not helpful.  No mother should spend any portion of the day crying over how they are feeding their baby.  Yes, breast milk may be “best” nutritionally, but formula is engineered to give babies everything they need.  Being “better” nutritionally {which is debatable nowadays given the advances in science} does not always mean it is the best choice for the mother, the baby, or the family unit.  You’ve heard the phrase “happy wife, happy life”?  Well, I am a firm believer that a happy mommy equals a happy baby.  Babies can pick up on a mother’s mood, and if a mom is feeling tense and exhausted, the baby is going to sense that and mirror it back to her.  The entire family is affected; dads/partners are upset that their loved one is torturing herself and making herself crazy over a preconceived notion of what is “best” for the baby, and that if that “best” thing isn’t being done that it is somehow a disservice to the child.  This could not be further from the truth.  There is more than one way to skin a cat, and there is more than one way to feed a baby.  I feel pretty strongly that my friend would not be feeling so guilty if not for the pressure that is placed on new mothers to do things a certain way or they are raising their baby wrong.

It really bothers me when women try to make other women feel bad about their parenting choices, and especially about how someone chooses to feed their baby.  Breastfeeding is extremely difficult in the first few weeks when it’s so new to everyone.  It’s painful for the mother, the baby is sleepy and hasn’t perfected the latch yet, getting your supply regulated is hit or miss, you are getting no sleep anyway but even less when you have to get the baby up to feed overnight, it’s just physically and mentally exhausting.  And you know what?  Most of the time there isn’t even anything we can do about it.  I can’t push out babies, but I can nurse them for a long time.  Some people can gracefully handle a med-free vaginal birth, but they might not be able to breastfeed.  And there is no reason that anyone should feel shame or guilt about that.  I thank God for formula.  It is amazing that we have a product, readily available and it vast quantities, that can give babies the specific nourishment they need.  There are formulas for lactose intolerant babies, babies with GI issues, organic, soy, goat, hypoallergenic.  Isn’t that awesome?  All I make is breast milk.  If I want to change my “formula”, I have to completely overhaul my diet {which I have had to do, and it really sucks}.  But babies everywhere can be FED in the absence of milk-producing breasts.  Which is great for adoptive parents, right?  And also for two men who are raising children.  Oh, and for babies whose mothers die in childbirth and are raised by their fathers, who have no milk-producing breasts.  And babies who are being raised by their grandparents or other caregivers, for whatever reason.  And babies placed for adoption as infants.  Mothers who have their own personal reasons for not breastfeeding.  And what about mothers who need to be on medication that is incompatible with breastfeeding?  They can take their potentially lifesaving medication AND still feed their babies.  Amazing, no?  Without formula, where would these babies be?  Starved?  Malnourished?  Is that really what people want?  Give me breast milk or give me death!

No.  Because that’s stupid.  A hungry baby living on a low supply of breast milk is not better off than a fat happy baby with a full belly of formula.

Listen, I know people like to get on their high horses about their “issue,” whatever that issue may be.  Oh yes, everyone has their issue.  But the formula shaming needs to stop.  Babies are beaten, neglected, abused, starved, and killed at the hands of their parents every day.  And people have the audacity to feign concern over the molecular structure of infant formula?  No, you aren’t concerned about the welfare of that baby whose mother you are shaming.  All you want to do is make yourself feel better about a decision you made by making someone who took a different path feel bad about their choice.  And so many of these women who are shaming mothers for their choice to formula feed hold themselves up as champions of the pro-choice cause!  If someone took it upon themselves to shame a woman who had an abortion, a lot of these women would be FROTHING AT THE MOUTH.  You can’t have it both ways.  Either we are free to make choices regarding our own bodies, or we are not.  And last time I checked, my breasts were a part of my body.  Hold on, I’ll check again…… Yep.  Still attached.  We are expected to respect the decisions of the crunchiest, most granola hippie moms out there, decisions to not vaccinate, to raise their children as vegans, to wear only organic clothing made from the yarn of alpacas raised in the Andes and fed on organic grasses and unicorn farts, to breastfeed until their kids are seven years old, to raise their families in the Breatharian tradition.  No judgment!  It’s your choice!  Hear you roar!  Yet mothers who make a choice that is best for them and their baby are subjected to shaming and ridicule.  Does not compute.

When it comes right down to it, how a mother decides to feed her baby really isn’t anyone else’s business.  Breastfeeding is great.  So is formula feeding.  In the end, the same objective is achieved:  a fed baby.  To any mother who is being made to feel guilty over their decision to use formula, please don’t listen to anyone who is spewing such garbage.  If your baby is loved, clothed, sheltered, and fed, then you have succeeded where so many others fail.  Now I want you to walk into your bathroom, look yourself right in the eye in that toothpaste spit-flecked mirror, and say this to yourself with confidence:  YOU ARE A GREAT MOM.

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To teeball or not to teeball?

That is the question.

We’ve always said that we would like for our child to play at least one instrument and one sport/activity.  What instrument or sport/activity they choose is completely up to them.  I don’t want to force my kids to do the things that I want them to do if it’s not something they will enjoy.  I took ballet/jazz/tap lessons, but I really wanted to take gymnastics.  I played softball as a child, and then volleyball, basketball, and tennis all through high school before settling on tennis as my college scholarship bread and butter.  Zac also played several sports before he started focusing on wrestling in high school.  I took piano lessons and hated every minute of them, then decided to try my hand at the saxophone in 7th grade.  After experimenting with various woodwinds, I figured out that I wasn’t that good at them and didn’t really have the desire to get better, so my interest in playing musical instruments was put on the back burner until I decided to pick up a guitar.  Zac also plays guitar, so it is nice to have that among our shared interests.

So while we’d both love for our boys to play football and go to the NFL and buy us a big house and a couple of luxury cars, we want to encourage them to pursue whatever interests them.  I don’t plan on being a family of weekend warriors, rushing from game to game and lesson to lesson every Saturday.  I don’t want to overload my kids with so many activities that they don’t have a chance to rest and relax, because I think that rest is very important in a kid’s developing years and I don’t want my kids to burn out at the ripe old age of 9.

Cole has been taking karate for the past several months at his school, one afternoon a week, and he seems to like it a lot.  He has also been showing a lot of interest in baseball since we watch the Braves play and have taken the boys to a few games at the Ted.  So we asked him if he would be interested in playing teeball this year, and he responded with an enthusiastic affirmative.  Then he asked if he could also join a bowling team.  😐  He’s a strange kid, that one.

So we signed him up for teeball.  At first glance it doesn’t look like it will be too overwhelming.  Games will be on Saturday mornings, and it doesn’t appear as if the peanut league has practices; I guess the games are treated as practices just for learning the basic skills.  We’ve been playing at home with a tee that Zac bought a couple of weeks ago, and Cole is actually pretty good at hitting the ball on the tee.  We’ve also been practicing our catching and throwing, at which he is also proficient.  So I think it will be an exercise in listening and paying attention for our dear eldest son.  He is only 4, after all.  Those are two skills that most 4-year olds have not perfected.

Zac and I are really excited to jump into being baseball parents.  I signed us both up as interested in being team parents, which to my knowledge consists of bringing snacks.  Is there anything else I need to know about that?  Hopefully it won’t be too much, especially since Zac works most Saturdays and I’ll be on my own for a lot of the games.  But still, it’s a fun new stage of life for our boy and for us, and we’re all pretty stoked about it.

What activities do your kids do?  Will you let them do as many activities as they want and can handle, or try to limit them to doing one or two things well?

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State of the Weight Wednesday on Thurs… uh, Friday {With Pics!}

Better late than never, right?

This week was pretty good for me.  I lost another two pounds and hit the 20 pound mark!  It feels good to hit a milestone like that.  And while I didn’t get my full servings of fruits and vegetables every day, I did increase fruits and veggies and that’s better than nothing.  I did get all of my planned exercise in, and continued with my core challenge.  I took my measurements yesterday just to see what my progress is looking like, and I’m down over an inch everywhere (two in each thigh!), except for my stupid fat arms.  I really need to incorporate some more arm and shoulder exercises to get these encased sausages toned up.

I’m also still tracking my food and exercise pretty faithfully.  It’s just something that has become second nature to me now.  Although I will be honest, I mostly track it all just to see how much exercise I have to do at night to get the calorie deficit I need for the day.  If I’m pretty well under my TDEE, then I might take a rest night.  🙂  Our USTA tennis season is over and I have a couple of weeks before we start ALTA practices, so I am going to have to do something a little different to vary my workout routine now that I’m not burning 1,000 calories twice a week.  We visited the gym where we get a corporate discount through Zac’s work, but after thinking about it we have decided that it’s just not in the budget right now.  It would be $80 a month for both of us and childcare for both boys, and I’m just not willing to part with that money right now.  They did offer us a deal that would save us $20 a month off that price, but it came with a hefty initiation fee.  Blah.  If I’m going to pay a $300 startup fee plus first and last month’s membership dues just to join the gym, I may as well just spend that money on a home gym and be able to work out any time I want.  So I think we are probably going to go that route for our anniversary or Christmas gift.  My parents had a home gym and I used it a lot in high school, so I am pretty sure I will stay motivated enough to actually get my workout on now that I am starting to see some results.

In my head I know 20 pounds is a lot of weight, and I’m happy that I’m starting to notice it in the mirror and the way my clothes are fitting.  Sometimes I do get frustrated that I can’t see weight loss immediately.  But I’m a large woman with a large frame, and my weight is fairly evenly distributed so when I gain and lose weight I gain and lose it everywhere.  It makes it easy for weight to creep on without noticing, and makes it really hard to notice weight loss.  Sure, it would be nice to be able to lose 5 pounds and have people ask me if I’ve lost weight.  But it’s just not my reality.  Losing 5 pounds is not going to be as noticeable on me as it is on someone who weighs 145 pounds.  But every pound and every inch lost is a step toward a healthier lifestyle.  And I’m finally starting to see some results.

And now, since I’ve hit somewhat of a weight loss milestone, I’d thought I’d show you the fruits of my labor.  The photos on the left are from early April, when I started the first weight loss challenge.  the photos on the right are from today.  This is what a 20 pound weight loss looks like on a 6 foot tall, :mumblemumble: pound woman.

I still have a long road ahead of me, but I’m really pleased that I am starting to see some results.  I’m going to keep these photos on my phone as motivation to keep pushing forward.  Slow and steady, slow and steady.

Goals for this week are to continue exercising 4 days per week, keep up with my core challenge, and to consume at least 29 grams of fiber at least 3 times between now and Thursday.  I will be heading to the grocery store tomorrow to stock up on fiber-rich foods.  I see a lot of apples, raspberries, and beans in my immediate future.

Let’s keep fighting the good fight!

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It’s more important to be nice.

It’s starting already.

These kids are four years old.  I really thought we had more time.

I thought we had a few more years of everyone getting along and being friends.  Cole has been with most of his class since they were babies, and everyone has always gotten along really well.  They may have a dust-up every now and again, but nothing that can’t be fixed with a hug and a “sorry!”  In an ideal world, things would continue like this forever.  Wouldn’t that be nice?

Yesterday Cole was telling me all about his day at school, as he does every time I pick him up.  I ask him what he learned and if he had fun with his friends and if they did anything special that day.  I really enjoy hearing him talk about what is going on in his little life right now.  Yesterday he was telling me that his friend Emme was crying because nobody would be her friend.  That broke my heart.  I realize I’m likely not getting the whole story of what happened, but Cole seemed very concerned so I was too.  Emme is a sweet girl, and has been friends with these kids for four years.  Why would they all of a sudden decide that they weren’t going to be her friend?  I’m sure it was short-lived and that they will all be happily playing together today, but I hate for her to ever have to feel like she has no friends.

Then my boy, my sweet angel, told me that he went over to Emme and said, “well, I’ll be your friend.”  And my heart shattered into a million pieces.  I’m tearing up right now just thinking about it.  Because right now, at this point in time, we’ve done something right.  He saw one of his friends hurting and wanted to help.  Just hearing that made me so happy.  We have really tried to stress the importance of being a nice person to our kids because I have been on the receiving end of kids and teenagers being mean and it is not a fun experience.  It really creates a vicious cycle of crappy feelings because when someone is mean to you and makes you feel like you don’t matter, a lot of times you will find someone else that you can make feel the same way.  I’ve done it.  You’ve done it.  As sucky as it may be, we’ve all tried to make ourselves feel better by bringing someone else down.

I really hate to think about these sweet, young, innocent children ever going through that.  I can’t bear the thought of my tender-hearted boy having his feelings hurt on the whims of his classmates.  It hurts even more to think that he might ever be the one that would act that way toward a classmate or friend.  So I really try to drive the point home that being nice to everyone is important and that if he sees one of his friends getting upset about the way they are being treated by others, he should do his best to help them feel better.  That could mean giving them a hug or high five, playing with them when nobody else will, or simply saying “I’ll be your friend.”

I would love for everyone my kids interact with over their lifetimes to think about how nice they are.  I want their classmates to think about them years after they have moved on from school and remember that they were the guys who were nice to everyone.  The kids who had friends across the board and didn’t just stay in their own groups.  We teach them that everyone is important and has value and brings something different to the table, and so everyone should be treated with respect and kindness.  I really hope it is sinking in.

Like all parents, I’m terrified of screwing this up.  And I really thought we had more time.

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State of the Weight Wednesday

I promise you I do have other things to blog about than just this weekly linkup.  Even this very moment, I have a post draft started about Cole’s karate class.  I’m debating posting my thoughts on both the Zimmerman verdict and Cory Monteith’s untimely passing.  But talking/writing about this quest for fitness is really keeping me motivated, so if this is the only post you get in a week then that’s just what happens.  It’s free.  You have free will.  Read.  Or don’t.

This has been a pretty good week for me.  I’ve stuck with this week’s challenge of preparing all the food I eat at home.  The one exception would be on Sunday when I had a tennis match.  I had some fruit that was provided by the home team.  The spirit of the challenge is to know exactly what I’m putting into my body.  It’s not enough for something to just be homemade, I have to know exactly what went into making it and have a good grasp on its nutritional value.  I’ve done pretty well so far, eating only things that I prepared at home or had on hand from the last grocery run.  I can tell a difference in how I feel generally.  Although it has been a very hectic week and I haven’t gotten a lot of sleep for various reasons, I don’t feel tired or sluggish.  I’m pretty sure that is related to a reduction in overly processed food this week.  So that’s good to know, and will encourage me to keep this trend going.

I’ve done well as far as exercise goes too.  My goal is to exercise four days a week, no matter what.  This past week I had tennis practice on Thursday, a match on Sunday that got rained out an hour into it, and the continuation of that match on Monday.  I very much prefer playing tennis as opposed to running on the treadmill, and if I could play every day I absolutely would.  I did have to run on the treadmill last night, but even that went pretty well.  I ran for six minutes straight and am going to try to increase that by a minute every time I run.  I can think back to when I first started running regularly earlier this year, and it was tough on me just to keep up a 3.5 mph walking pace.  Now I maintain a pace of 4-5 mph, with four being my resting pace after jogging.  I can burn around 400 calories in the time it takes to catch up on one TV show, and I feel great afterward {except for my knees, they never feel great after a run}.  I’ve stuck with my daily core exercises but have faltered a bit on the ab challenge exercises.  I’d like to finish out the challenge strong, so I’m recommitting to doing them daily no matter what.

My weekly goal will depend on what is set forth in my WLC group tomorrow, so I’ll update this part then.  But I am just going to keep on keeping on.  I’m actually seeing results, so whatever I’m doing is working.  I just need to stay committed, stay active, and stay aware of what I am consuming to fuel my body.  I need to make sure that I’m putting quality in so that I can get quality output.

I typically don’t weigh in until Thursdays, but I took a quick peek at the scale this morning and was pleasantly surprised to find that I appear to be another three pounds down.  If that number holds until tomorrow’s official weigh-in, that will put me at 18 pounds lost overall.  SO.  CLOSE.  TO.  TWENTY.  So close I can smell it.  I will get there by the end of July.  That, my friends, is a promise.

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