Dear Mother Eyeballing My Breasts: Please Don’t Feel Ashamed

Dear eyeballer,

I’m sorry for judging you incorrectly at first. I thought you were giving me the stare down because you were judging me for breastfeeding in public. After all, I’ve gotten tons of flack for it already. But when I looked up at and smiled to acknowledge you, you took that as an invitation to tell me a bit about your story.

You told me that it was simply impossible for you to breast feed because the cancer took your milk creators before you birthed your now six year old daughter, and how you always felt such guilt and sadness for being unable to give your child the best possible experience as an infant. With a small smile on your face, you told me that you used donor milk as long as you could, but that it was harder to find when your baby was an infant than it is today. Eventually, you turned to formula. And your six year old was a pretty happy girl, you said, as she danced around in her tutu and rainbow shoes in the middle of Subway.

I’m here to tell you, and many women like you, that your educated decision was not wrong. If you had told me you didn’t breastfeed because you didn’t have the help you needed to make it happen, I would be angry. Not with you, but with those who just expected you would understand how to do it on your own. If you told me you hadn’t breastfed because you think that your breasts are better suited for sexual activity, I would also be angry. Not at you – never at you – but at society for teaching you such lies. If you told me you didn’t breastfeed because you tried it, or you researched it thoroughly before your baby was born and realized it wasn’t for you, then why would I ever judge you for such a decision? In this case, cancer took away your ability to nourish your child. And just like there is no shame in formula feeding because you made an educated decision to do so, there’s absolutely no shame in what you did, either.

As parents, we make so many decisions. I think overall, parents make the best ones they can for their children. Sometimes others will not agree. Sometimes we may come to realize we made the wrong decision later. But to hell with anyone who tries to tell us our informed decisions are wrong.

I stress “informed” and “educated” because some women do not have access to the resources they should when they are making big decisions for their families. Sometimes they may simply make a decision they don’t understand. When they become informed or stumble across vital information, it may change their mind – and their original decision becomes one that holds a lot of regret. In some sense of the word, that initial decision may be “wrong,” but not because a parent chose wrong, but simply because they weren’t aware there was really another choice.

So dear eyeballer, please know that your decision was completely perfect and wonderful. There’s no reason to feel envious of my ability to breastfeed, or my choice to do so. It was what was best for my family. It may not be best for yours, and that’s okay. 

Do you hear me?

That’s okay.

1655943_1462808023978137_2939256891494880454_n 10533683_1462808323978107_7085934823957227888_nThese two babies belong to the same sweet mama. One was breastfed and occasionally bottlefed with breastmilk. One was exclusively formula fed.

I ask you in earnest, which is which? Would you even know? Both are thriving. Both are beautiful. Both are developing and both are nourished.

I venture to say that’s ten times more important than anything else.


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